Thursday, October 24, 2013

Learning more about Cooperative Gestalt

In my talk, ‘Enlightened Learning & the Cooperative Gestalt’, at the ‘Power of Adult Learning’ conference (23 October 2013, University of Edinburgh), I gave an outline of the Enlightenment-inspired approach to learning and the distinct gestalt it engenders to help us interpret and respond to our experiences in life. Set out below are the key concepts relating to the notion of ‘Cooperative Gestalt’, and some of the resources I have previously produced, which can be of assistance in promoting progressive lifelong learning.

The Enlightenment Ethos:
The philosophical ethos of using empirically based cooperative enquiry to improve the common good.
• For more on the Enlightenment Ethos, see chapter 4 in the book, ‘Against Power Inequalities’.
• For the connections between a key inspiration for this ethos, Francis Bacon’s ‘The Advancement of Learning’, and the work of lifelong learning organisations such as the WEA, see ‘What Next for the WEA’,

Progressive Lifelong Learning:
Static authority-based teaching assumes someone has special access to unquestionable knowledge which should then be handed down to each succeeding generation as a one-off exercise. By contrast, progressive lifelong learning seeks to realise the Enlightenment Ethos by enabling every generation to learn on a continuous basis, in open cooperation with others, with the constant exchange of empirically verifiable observation and experimentation. This form of learning is provisional with no single source privileged as beyond rational criticism.
• For examples of education practices in support of progressive lifelong learning, see ‘Education for Citizens’ (chapter from the book, Communitarianism), available to download for free from the University of Cambridge’ Education Faculty
• For an example of a large scale experiment to promote progressive lifelong learning for citizens, see ‘Rejuvenating Democracy: lessons from a communitarian experiment’.
• For a critique of short-termism in education, see ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Teacher’,

The Cooperative Gestalt:
The mindset developed through progressive lifelong learning, enabling individuals to become well disposed to respecting others in reciprocal terms, cooperating with them in exploring what claims are acceptable, and involving one another in decision-making that affects others.
• For an essay on why the gestalt should be promoted, see ‘Much Ado About Cooperating’,
• For an application of the gestalt to differentiate moral attitudes, see ‘The Reciprocity Test: Pros & Cons’,
• For an experimental use of a novel to promote the gestalt, see ‘A Novel Exploration of Inequality’.

Cooperative Problem-Solving:
When the Cooperative Gestalt is applied in practice to resolving difficulties or finding answers, we have cooperative problem-solving. Having the appropriate dispositions does not guarantee the adoption of the most effective problem-solving techniques, and it is essential that through progressive lifelong learning, one discovers how to work best in reaching solutions cooperatively.
• For a general resource guide, see ‘Together We Can’,
• For a detailed exposition, see the essay on ‘Cooperative Problem-Solving and Education’.
• For a summary of what it covers, see ‘Cooperative Problem-Solving: the key to a reciprocal society’

The Inclusive Community Ideal:
Inspired by the Enlightenment Ethos, empowered by progressive lifelong learning, guided by the Cooperative Gestalt, and enabled to carry out effective actions through cooperative problem-solving, we may then attain the inclusive community ideal.
• For an introduction to the philosophy of inclusive community, see the book, ‘Communitarianism’
• For a short guide to the inter-connections between the cooperative movement and communitarian ideas, see ‘Cooperative & Communitarian: a common heritage’
• For an outline of what power distribution is necessary to realise the inclusive community ideal, see ‘The Power Hypothesis’

(The key points from my talk, ‘Enlightened Learning & the Cooperative Gestalt’, can be found in the essay, ‘The Cooperative Gestalt’)