Conference Schedule

As If By Design: Educational Ends Considered as Final Causes

CV03 • conversation • Return to conference schedule
Wednesday, May 1, 2019 • 1:30 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
Dillon Hall 359
Michael Kurak University of Windsor Show biographies
In the realm of academics, my areas of specialization are metaphysics and epistemology. In particular, I am interested in self-organizing systems theory, philosophy of education, and the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. I also have a background in Eastern Philosophy and Cognitive Science. I have teaching experience at all levels of education.

The session will introduce participants to the concept of a self-organizing entity and will consider the classroom in light of this concept. One way to explicate the concept is by contrasting it with constructivism. Constructivism views the learner as active, but it does not conceive this activity as being capable of determining itself, except contingently. As a result, constructivism requires setting ends for students (e.g. tasks, objectives, learning outcomes). Since these ends are not the student's own, motivating educational activity requires contingently connecting it with an end which is the student's own (i.e., with an incentive). In this way educational ends are reduced to mere means. Overcoming this problem requires setting ends with students. But this possibility is hindered by institutional policies and by mechanistic views of nature, of which constructivism is merely indicative. This session, therefore, explores the possibility that functional educational wholes might also have a causal role to play in the organization of the "parts" which comprise them, without that whole having to be set in advance. In other words, the sessions concerns the possibility of emergent and objective constraint on educational activity. Illustrations of these matters will be provided from my own practice.