Standing on the shoulders of Giants

I very much like the idea of the present being related to the past. I think it’s reasonable for everybody to look for one’s cultural and scientific roots and OER activists definitely can refer to the thinking of the philosophers of the age of enlightenment. So we dwarfs stand on the shoulder of giants and therefore look further (if we connect to the roots, the past helps us to even more advance in the present).

I would automatically think of Immanuel Kant thinking of the age of enlightenment. I wouldn’t dare to say I read and understood his books but a few thoughts I remember. He does not only describes enlightenment as freedom to use one’s own intelligence but also as a responsibility: if you have the means you are responsible for your maturity and independence. Have courage to use your own brain – dare to know (sapere aude!). Kant is very much about autonomy and states that ethics develop from the subject’s autonomy in thinking. For education the age of enlightenment means a lot – if you are asked to question everything and rely on your reason you need to develop capabilities in analyzing and judging. If it’s important for your society that you think – then society has the duty to provide you with the means – regardless which class you belong to. If you are not able to pay for education there need to be alternative ways: scholarships, state loans, public libraries, folk high school etc.

At the moment we are at a turn point in Germany – for several decades access to universities was free – now we introduced study fees in several federal states. What I find worse – studies showed that education in German schools is not giving children from different social backgrounds the same possibilities.

I’m convinced that primary education needs to be free (as it is in Germany). German schools still need to change and long more for equality in chances than they provide at the moment. On the other hand I can’t deny that I think that study fees are justifiable as long as you allow enough and fair possibilities for scholarships and study loans & provided that you use the money for the education system – still the state should not be left off the hook. But as adults you are responsible and you decide which way you go. I know I’m not radical about free education but I want education for all.

So you might ask why I think that OER is a way to go –

for me OER means free access to educational material not free formal education (so tutoring and certificates etc.). I believe that formal education needs to be obtainable – free to those who cannot pay, affordable to those who can. I believe in informal and life long learning which can be triggered with OER and last but not least I believe in collaborative new learning forms as a chance for a change in educational methods.


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