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Phd Research

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  • Andrew Edwards
    I am currently undertaking research activities at Dartington College of Arts, Devon, UK. The focus of this research is to develop an ethical and aesthetic
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 16, 2003
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      I am currently undertaking research activities at Dartington College
      of Arts, Devon, UK.

      The focus of this research is to develop an ethical and aesthetic
      model of digital technology within an anthroposophical context.

      To this end I have set up a yahoo group to discuss these issues and
      was wondering if members would care to join. These discussions and
      comments can then be added to the body of my research as a useful
      perspective/commentary.

      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/digitalsymbiosis/

      I look forward to hearing from you all,

      Andrew Edwards
    • DRStarman2001@aol.com
      ... ********It s not very clear what kind of research you re suggesting. Perhaps giving more information about exactly what an ethical & aesthetic model of
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 17, 2003
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        digitalsymbiosis2000@... writes:
        I am currently undertaking research activities at Dartington College
        of Arts, Devon, UK.
        The focus of this research is to develop an ethical and aesthetic
        model of digital technology within an anthroposophical context.
        To this end I have set up a yahoo group to discuss these issues and
        was wondering if members would care to join.  These discussions and
        comments can then be added to the body of my research as a useful
        perspective/commentary.
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/digitalsymbiosis/
        I look forward to hearing from you all,
        Andrew Edwards


        ********It's not very clear what kind of research you're suggesting. Perhaps giving more information about exactly what an "ethical & aesthetic model of digital technology" is, might be more helpful in motivating people to join?
        -Starman
        http://www.DrStarman.net
      • Andrew Edwards
        What is an ethical & aesthetic model of digital technology? Good question and if I had the answer to that then my research would be complete! But good point
        Message 3 of 4 , Jul 17, 2003
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          What is an ethical & aesthetic model of digital technology? Good question and if I had the answer to that then my research would be complete!  But good point none the less!!
           
          The main focus of my work has been developing notions of digitalsymbiosis, symbiosis between applied digital technology and the artistic and sprirutual elements of our existence.
           
          To this end I have been working within the realm of formtechnology, (A formtechnologist creates, investigates, manipulates and expresses form, through the symbiotic application of artistic vision and digital technology.)
           
          Through discussions with academic staff at Plymouth Univeristy (UK) it was suggested that such research would be of benefit to their Waldorf teacher training BA course.
           
          When considering the development of digital technology within a Waldorf context it became clear that special attention would need to be paid to the ethical, aesthetic and indeed spiritual impact of such work and that a model of digitalsymbiosis would need to be defined and evaluated within this context.
           
          I hope that makes as much sense when you read it as it did for me when I wrote it at 2.20am!
           
          All the best
           
          Andrew
          DRStarman2001@... wrote:
          digitalsymbiosis2000@... writes:
          I am currently undertaking research activities at Dartington College
          of Arts, Devon, UK.
          The focus of this research is to develop an ethical and aesthetic
          model of digital technology within an anthroposophical context.
          To this end I have set up a yahoo group to discuss these issues and
          was wondering if members would care to join.  These discussions and
          comments can then be added to the body of my research as a useful
          perspective/commentary.
          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/digitalsymbiosis/
          I look forward to hearing from you all,
          Andrew Edwards


          ********It's not very clear what kind of research you're suggesting. Perhaps giving more information about exactly what an "ethical & aesthetic model of digital technology" is, might be more helpful in motivating people to join?
          -Starman
          http://www.DrStarman.net


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          Postgraduate researcher, artist, technologist and anthroposophist.

          www.digitalsymbiosis.com
           
          www.southhams-online.co.uk

          Tel: +44 1548 821404


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        • golden3000997@cs.com
          Dear Andrew, I read your notice to the Yahoo group asking for feedback on the question, as I understand it, of the use of computers in relation to Waldorf
          Message 4 of 4 , Jul 18, 2003
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            Dear Andrew,

            I read your notice to the Yahoo group asking for feedback on the question, as
            I understand it, of the use of computers in relation to Waldorf Education.
            This is both a simple and a complex question. I am a trained Waldorf teacher who
            has been working in the corporate world for the past decade. I had never
            touched a computer until 1997. Now, I use it constantly and in the office, I am
            the person others look to for answers.

            As with everything else in life, applying Rudolf Steiner's view of Threefold
            Man and, by extension, Threefold Social Order, one can gain valuable
            perspective on the technological aspects of our current civilization. Since you are
            specifically asking about the relationship between art and technology, the
            Threefold point of view is very appropriate.

            Let's start with the simple view. The computer is nothing but a glorified
            pencil. It does nothing but facilitate human intentions. One could pose as many
            "ethical" arguments against the Guttenberg printing press as against the
            development of computers. The printing press enabled the common human being to gain
            (over time) access to ideas that had once been the possession of the
            privileged classes. Being able to read the Bible enabled a person to consider the ideas
            of religion without an intermediary. Being able to read political and
            scientific treatises awakened the individual's sense of self and his place in world
            history. Access to books became dangerous in real, physical terms as these
            ideas spread and contributed to social unrest and revolution. Ray Bradbury's
            Farenheit 451 is about a future society which recognizes how dangerous books are
            and bans them entirely. But Pandora's box is open and nothing in heaven or on
            earth can put the demons back in.

            On the other hand, of course, is the improvement of human life in all of its
            aspects through increasing literacy and education. Human health and welfare,
            human rights and justice and individual growth and development are all
            dependent on literacy. Obviously, books are central to our own exposure to Rudolf
            Steiner's work. The printed word spreads ideas around the world and makes no
            ethical differentiation. It is how these ideas are received and applied by human
            beings that creates the benefits or disasters to society.

            The computer as a tool can do absolutely nothing in and of itself. It is
            exactly the same as an automobile. It sits in the driveway and does nothing until
            a human being (hopefully one old enough to use it responsibly) gets into the
            driver's seat and turns it on. Where it goes and how it gets there is totally
            determined by the driver. Thus it is with the computer. "I" turn it on. "I"
            open a program. "I" read, write or create whatever that program is capable of.
            Another human being has put in all of the information that the program contains,
            has been its author. I can choose how and if I will act or react to this
            information. I can expeditiously publish whatever information I wish and
            disseminate it to the world, whether it is good or bad, true or false, beautiful or
            ugly. Although a computer program may be capable of performing many complex
            functions because a person or persons who understood those functions programmed
            them into it, its potential will go unused unless I first know within myself what
            I want to accomplish. For example, "Excel" has a long list of mathematical
            functions which one can select. I have never used more than two or three of
            them, because I do not have the mathematical understanding within me. It would
            most likely require the presence of another human being in my life who did
            understand mathematics thoroughly to teach me what I would need to know to use Excel
            to its fuller potential.

            I have a program called "Corel Draw" on my computer. I can use some of its
            functions but there are many I don't understand. This art program was created by
            and for artists of much experience and expertise. Again, I would probably
            need to take a computer graphics class with a human teacher before I could use it
            more fully.

            The computer is a machine. It is therefore connected with the spiritual
            forces which work supersensibly within all machines, mechanics and technology.
            These forces are of the earth and of a spiritual entity which Rudolf Steiner
            refers to as Ahriman. Is this entity evil? I say definitively, "Yes." A radical
            statement, perhaps. What makes it evil? According to Rudolf Steiner, the "evil"
            polarities of Lucifer and Ahriman arise from misuse and wrong intentionality.
            Both Lucifer and Ahriman have functions in the universe and in the
            supersensible world that are not "evil" because they are appropriate and in harmony with
            human spiritual development. It is when there is an intention to retard or
            misdirect that development that negative effects arise. Should a "spiritual"
            person attempt to avoid technology altogether because he or she recognizes that
            there is a force behind it which has negative intentions? Many Islamic, Christian
            and Judaic fundamentalist sects do precisely this. They forbid their members
            to access many forms of technology because of its "evil" nature and its power
            to spiritually corrupt the individual. The question therefore becomes, "Is
            evil technology so powerful against the development of the human spirit that the
            human being cannot conquer or master it?" Fundamentalist sects say "yes" but
            Rudolf Steiner says "no." Perhaps in an earlier epoch of humanity, the secrets
            and potential of technology needed to be kept hidden. Perhaps the individual
            human being was not responsible enough or morally equipped to use it. But
            Steiner asserts that humanity is at an age where we collectively should be ready to
            apply responsibility and morality to the freedoms that technology can provide.

            Simply put, we do not give the keys of the family car to a five year old or
            even a twelve year old. A human being of that age is not capable of controlling
            the powerful potential of an automobile. A sad example is of a young girl a
            few years ago who was allowed to learn to fly an airplane by herself. While her
            family and society were delighted when she accomplished this feat and the
            media focused on her prodigious abilities, unfortunately, she did crash and die.
            Adult human beings also crash and die but we know that they have developed
            greater capacities and that the likelihood is much less.

            Western society is for the most part the emotional and moral equivalent of a
            21 year old. We allow teenagers to learn to drive and to drive, first with
            supervision and then by themselves. Insurance companies know how much greater
            risk teenagers and young adults pose on the road. Nevertheless, there is enough
            maturity present to make the level of risk acceptable. We now possess as a
            society technologies which have much more devastating potential, some of which we
            do use and some we do not. We must hope that those individuals and
            institutions that have control of these technologies have the ethical perspective of the
            fully born "I" of the 21 year old individual. (Remembering myself at 21, this
            does make me quite nervous.)

            Computers cannot create art, science or philosophy. A computer is simply a
            powerful tool for communicating what is being created by human beings. What we
            call science has been built into this machine in its use of materials and
            energy and the knowledge of circuits and their functions. Art has also been used to
            create computers, envisioning their capabilities; creating new forms and
            visual images; designing experiential programs that give the viewer new
            perspectives and insights. Philosophy and religion (as defined by re-legare or
            re-connect) also certainly has had its role. The idea of making information and the
            tools of creation available to all people and the idea of freedom of
            communication and expression have both been present in the creation of the personal
            computer. Through its application called the internet, the computer is definitely a
            tool which connects people all around the world. All possible ideas can be
            accessed. This would imply a recognition that the individual human being is of an
            age (spiritually speaking) to take on the moral responsibility of freedom in
            the realm of knowledge.

            Going back to the analogy of the young girl who learned to fly, it is vitally
            important that Waldorf Educators understand the role of technology in the
            life of the developing child. Almost all children are exposed to modern
            technology from birth. They ride home from the hospital in a car (unless their family
            is Amish). Even if the baby is homebirthed, the parents often play music on a
            CD or tape player. Most young children have been exposed to television since
            the 1950s and now, start to "play" on a computer at the age of three or earlier.
            Volumes have been written about the negative effects on the young child of
            watching television, despite its initial promotion as a positive educational
            tool. It is natural that the use of a computer with a young child should be
            touted as having the same positive effects. However, our experience as a society
            over the past half century with television should be enough to alert us to the
            same dangers in the use of computers as an educational tool. It has been well
            documented and substantiated (see especially "The Plug In Drug" by Marie Winn)
            that the intake of visual and auditory stimulation without direct interaction
            does not benefit the young child, indeed can retard its verbal development.
            Even though computer games are "interactive", clicking a mouse and moving a
            pointer is in no way the developmental equivalent of human conversation and
            interaction. As a short amusement, both television watching and playing computer
            games have a place. But doing either on a daily basis can be harmful.

            The Waldorf classroom in the Kindergarten and Elementary years does not
            contain either a television or a computer. Neither do we give our children driving
            lessons. Waldorf Education delivers information about the world, whether
            classified as science or art, directly from human being to human being utilizing
            full interaction, conversation and exchange. The Waldorf approach to reading and
            mathematics is to build up the process of the necessary functions in the way
            that mankind collectively developed them. Writing is taken from pictures to
            pictographs to abstract symbols and mathematical functions are developed
            concretely and actively. Using colored crayons in first and second grade in place of
            charcoal, lead pencil or ink allows the modern child as full an emotional
            relationship to each lesson as possible, and as much personal expression. In Third
            Grade, the students use colored pencils. Then in Fourth Grade, an actual
            handwriting main lesson is given in which the students, now with a more historical
            perspective are taught to use charcoal and pen and ink. After this, the
            students may combine their writing tools in whatever way suits their intentions.
            By Eighth Grade, when the curriculum reaches the industrial era, typewriting is
            introduced, which would lead naturally to some exposure to computers.

            It is taken for granted that the developing child is at the same time, being
            exposed to all of these things, lead pencils, ink pens, typewriters and
            computers in his or her home. Children in a Waldorf school may learn to read outside
            of the classroom. But what makes Waldorf Education an Art, rather than a
            methodology is the emphasis on the experiential, on the process of learning,
            rather than the end result or goal. The children learn to multiply using stones or
            pine cones long before they are given a calculator. A calculator is of
            absolutely no use to someone who does not understand multiplication and know how to
            do it already. The calculator merely facilitates the multiplication that the
            person sets out to do.



            Rudolf Steiner said that Waldorf Education should not make the children
            "strangers to their culture" and that Waldorf teachers should read the newspaper
            every morning before coming to school so that they would know about whatever the
            children may be exposed to in their society. This does not contradict the
            fact that we develop our children's abilities in as human a way as possible. It
            is not an either/ or situation; it is a question of adding the appropriate
            human element in education which respects the child's natural development
            physically, emotionally and mentally and allows them to build real foundations for the
            use of technology later in their life.

            Taking this perspective into account, using computers in high school is just
            as appropriate as taking driving lessons. Hopefully, Waldorf high school
            students will become completely proficient in "operating" a computer and
            additionally, will have developed their intellectual capacities, emotional
            responsibility and active morality in such a way that what they give to and receive from
            the world via the computer will be grounded in the Beautiful, the True and the
            Good.

            Best wishes,
            Christine : )
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