The Open Classroom

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. Fourth, the author of the articles ‎pledges to answer all questions and objections which are accompanied by arguments. For this purpose, this website has been created, where participants can interact with the author. Thus, comments and ‎questions can be addressed right here and they will be answered by the author. Unlike academic “forums” that ‎are moderated by a tsar who polices what is being posted so that what the academic peers ‎believe is never questioned, on these websites no comments and questions that are not resorting ‎to insults will be blocked or ignored.

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.