People in Western countries claim to live in open societies, a slogan made popular by the philosopher Karl Popper. As the title of this website suggests, it is about a classroom which is open. Strange as it may sound, classrooms have never been open, particularly in open societies. Although classrooms can be found in any school or university, they are not open so that anyone can just open the door, walk in, listen to what is being taught there and eventually raise the hand to ask a question or make a comment. Although there is a level of education which governments deem indispensable for individuals to be able to function in the society and therefore this level of education is offered for free and is usually mandatory, above that level, admission to a school and its classrooms is carefully guarded not only by the payment of large sums of money, but particularly by a selection and admission process that is not matched by any company when hiring its employees except probably the secret services.
The Open Classroom is a classroom, that is, a place where knowledge is presented, discussed, and assimilated, and the knowledge discussed includes the knowledge which is taught in accredited schools. But this is where the similarity ends. It is a classroom which can never be tolerated in any school or university – or any society for that matter – for a very simple reason: it is open. This means several things. First, participation is not conditioned by paying any fees, contributions, or subscriptions. Second, there is no attendance required, no required reading, no assignments or submission of papers of any kind. Consequently, there are no grades assigned to participants, there are no degrees conferred, and there is no punishment for those who do not offer proof that they have adopted any of the ideas presented and that they would advocate the ideology with which they have been indoctrinated as it is the case with current schools and universities. Since there is no punishment for whatever anyone says, participants can be open so that they can say what they honestly believe.
The fact that people can be open does not necessarily mean that people naturally say whatever they honestly believe. One of the greatest delusions which people entertain – even the most open minded – is that whatever is in their minds is their own ideas without being aware that they are just recycling ideas which others had had long before them. This is precisely the fundamental function of the traditional classroom – even the most liberal – to make sure that the cherished ideas, beliefs, and practices of those who have the power are always recycled in the minds of the individuals who make up the society. And ironically, this is done under the slogan that in the traditional classrooms people learn how to think out of the box. In other words, in order to learn how to think out of the box, one needs to be placed in the ultimate box. This is what traditional classrooms are: boxes. Not only is each subject a box strictly defined by a syllabus, subjects covered, required reading, proof of compliance with the ideas taught, and an evaluation based on a carefully designed grid of grades, but each subject is part of a bigger box which is called degree, department, school, and eventually university which – as its name implies – incorporates all the boxes into the largest container that includes the whole universe so that there is no open space left outside this universe where what is being done in this biggest box called universe can be discussed.
Well, now there is one. This is the reason an open classroom in traditional schools has never been possible because a box with an opening is no longer a box. Open means several things with reference to this website. First, everything is done on the internet. The reason an open classroom like this one can only be created on the internet is that no school or university – or civilized society for that matter – would tolerate it. Second, participation is open to anyone who has access to a computer. Third, the level of participation is decided by each individual and not imposed by any rules so that anyone can raise questions, present objections, or just read the articles and follow the debates. And finally, what each participant adopts from what is being presented and what rejects is decided by each individual without any rewards or punishments as it is the case with all other schools and institutions.
And finally, being open means we need to be clear that those who participate do it at their own risk. No, this website is not about killing or about sex – although killing and sex will be discussed at length – but about something much more objectionable and more disturbing: ideas and beliefs. Unlike animals which kill and are being killed for food, humans kill and are being killed for ideas and beliefs. The greatest obscenity which humanity has never been able to contemplate has not been of naked human bodies, but of naked human minds and beliefs. Our greatest and most disturbing nakedness is not of our private parts, but of our private heads which ironically, we carry them exposed confident that no one can see what is inside. Well, that may change. While all schools encourage everyone to apply in order to be admitted and participate in its classrooms, this one encourages everyone to be cautious and think twice before opening an article.
About the Author
Aurel Ionica is a Romanian native, now living in the USA, having worked for many years as a professor and a pastor and now living in Nashville, Tennessee.
2011: Ph.D. in Sciences de l’information et de la communication, University of Toulouse, France. Dissertation: “Reasoning, Argumentation, and Persuasion with Special Application to Hebrew Wisdom Literature and Hebrew Wisdom Scholarship”
1992–2002: Ph.D. studies at Vanderbilt University, majoring in religion and minoring in philosophy. Ph.D. exams passed with honors
2000: Vanderbilt University, Master’s degree in Religion
1986: Andrews University, Michigan, Master’s degree in Religion
1981–1982: Newbold College, England, Master’s degree in New Testament
1975–1979: Seminarul Teologic A.Z.S., Bucharest, Bachelor’s degree, Religion
1967–1972: Universitatea din Craiova, Romania, Bachelor’s degree, Electrical and Electronics Engineering