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the past

From my conference presentation at the Association of Educational Development in Africa - 14th of April in Cape Town

This presentation takes place at the time of the students’ protests against Rhodes that makes me think about my ideas. I will go to and explain the relevance for my suggestion of the method of how to ontologically transform historically disadvantaged students soon and below. 


Here I’d say that I think the Rhodes episode is a beginning of such episodes of burning, destroying and vandalising symbols of hatred and frustration and a catalysis of other episodes. 


In my opinion this is the result of the mistakes made in the new South Africa and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of letting things lay buried under the surface and collecting and accumulating steam and pressure,


     only focusing on specific individual cases, and getting millions upon millions of very frustrated South Africans who do not know what to do with their frustration, anger and steam and how to deal with them. 


Nash (2009, p. 185) wrote how “in his inaugural address as President of South Africa in May 1994, he chose to convey this in Afrikaans: ‘wat verby is, is verby’ (what is past, is done with)”       


Nash, A (2009). The Dialectical Tradition in South Africa Routledge, London,



They are taking the initiation, following others and being told to vandalize the symbols of their frustration and anger that they do in ecstasy of rage, pain and cathartic relief that becomes addictive so more and more things get burned and vandalized.  And where status, books and symbols are being burnt, people will get burnt.


They should have been provided with the cognitive and cathartic verbal means, skills and knowhow of dealing and channeling their frustration, rage and anger into the construction of dialectical and cathartic theories of how to improve their quality of life and change and transform their frustration and rage into a meaningful and fulfilling action and suggestions of how to improve the quality of life of the historically disadvantaged South Africans.




Things are left buried under the surface in the name of the 'wat verby is, is verby',  without cathartic verbal discussion, critical reflection and co-enquiring, analysis and the catharsis of verbalization and analysis - delving inside matters, deconstructing, reconstructing, understanding and articulating the meanings and history of things and conveying of ontological verbal enquiries

and analysis of feelings and experiences of historical phenomena, present events and living lives at the present and going towards the future.    


And working out verbal, cathartic, dialectical and strong heuristic explanations of how to construct a better quality of life for themselves, humanity and the inhabitants of the planet.  This is using, drawing on and fusing the hidden frustration and steam constructively as a catalysis for working at understanding and dialectical qualitative transformation of the quality of life of the inhabitants of South Africa.


And subjecting the explanations for dialogue, co-enquiries and actions plans as for how to improve the quality of life of frustrated South Africans.


               All done under careful control, self-regulation and openness.


This reluctance to analyse, discuss and theorise historical events, present experiences and where the future seems to go is committed within a desire to move on and leave the painful and tragic past that still haunts us behind unanalyzed and not discussed. 


and not made sense of and articulated verbally, and worked out constructively and dialectically at improving and constructing a better future from the awful past and the present of transforming the awful past into a better future.


This is using constructive tension that is utilised to delve into things, understand their meanings and qualitatively transform the world and quality of life of frustrated South Africans that find themselves with no outlet to make sense of,

get rid of and use to qualitatively transform their anger and frustration into the meaningful practice of establishing constructive ways of changing the anti-thesis of experiencing frustration and dissatisfaction


  and working out the more constructive and beneficial feelings of fulfilment and meaning and more fulfilling and satisfying life and world to live in and with to replace the anti-thesis of frustration, anger and dissatisfaction...


Lest everything explodes and violence erupts.


Airing things is not the same as analyzing them scholarly and heuristically. 


This fear of touching the hidden frustration and steam and constructive tension and catalysis for dialectical transformation of country, society and the quality of life of South Africans leaves us without the cognitive tools, skills, capacity and know how to make sense, explain, understand verbally, and co-enquire verbally into how to work out dialectically and constructively a better future.


I also think they are internal African politics things that should be analysed and thought about and not simply received. 


There is also a culture and tradition of young people avoiding questioning the information that is given to them. Such practice is considered disrespectful and is also the result of the poor education given to educators and adults and that makes incapable of questioning, debunking and deconstructing the taught materials.


This must be changed.  Culture and tradition are meant to be critically reflected on and changed for the sake of dialectical improvement of life and the world.  And education must include the elements of debunking, deconstructing and critically engaging with the taught materials.


My interest is in ontologically transforming young Africans from passive recipients of information into active analysts of the information they receive, are provided with and exposed to, told and read.  


Active analysts who are able to question this information, debunk it, deconstruct its meanings, hidden and not hidden, critically reflect on it, make up, put together and establish their personal opinion on it and their own explanations of the events and phenomenon in question.


And dialectically discuss different, and also contradictory, explanations of the exposed information in an endeavor to co-enquire together into how to improve the world and the quality of life of its inhabitants and of the inhabitants of the continent.


This means dialectically using and fusing the contradictions together and co-constructing public accounts (or theories) that can explain and interpret the information, events and phenomena in question.


And be subject to validation as valid and strong theories of the information that is enquired into. 


Dialectically as opposed to propositionally rejecting ideas, theories (explanations) that contradict each other as within the propositional logic of

           if the X explanation is true then the Y Explanation is false

That is if Alon is stupid then he cannot be smart and if he is smart that he is not stupid.  One of these two contradictory explanations of who Alon is (stupid and smart) is invalid and must be eliminated. 


This is according to the Aristotelian and Popperian laws of validating theories through refutation of the invalid alternatives.  Karl Popper(1963) Conjectures and Refutations The Growth of Scientific Knowledge :London. Routeledge and Kegan Paul


This means rejecting ideas and theories instead of co-enquiring as for how we use and fuse everything, including contradictions, together within the heuristic working on improving the world and people’s quality of life and the co-enquiring of how we do this.


What if I dialectically hold, use and fuse my being stupid and smart together, look at and enquire into what I need to do to become smarter and change my stupidities into being smarter.


I am interested in how to provide students with the tools, skills and know how to theorise the world in which they live how they experience and understand it and validate their theories.  The tools are mostly dialectical, applied, ontological, educational, epistemological and heuristic.


Again - I have put ideas, writings and explanation of what I do and how I do it in my present association with the Africa Earth Observatory Network – Earth Stewardship Science Research Institute at my AEON-ESSRI pages for you to engage with


You shall see that I have placed information of who and what the institute is, what it does, the way I perceive education, and my criticisms of the present way of doing education. 


I also explained in details why I take the dialectical logic to be the superior to the propositional logic in creating accounts of how to improve quality of life and the world.  And discussed my dialectical and dialogical educational and ontological methods of working with students and staff.


Slide 10


You shall also see that I described our concerns about and my own personal malaise and frustration - that I dialectically fuse, use and work out in my professional work and ontological practice to live and construct a more meaningful and fulfilling life for myself as an educator, ontologist and human being -  about what is becoming of education


and its reduction - alongside educators, students, institutions, theorists and administrators - to grades, and exam passing and teaching for exams passing and league tables.


Which means creating exam passing machines or robots,


where prescribed information, theories, ideas and positions, come on the one hand and retrieved, unmolded  and unprocessed, on the other hand and is being assessed to see if it has been recalled and  retrieved  and how well.


  Which implies an industrial production assembly line and a dehumanization of people and making them prone to indoctrination and propaganda and mechanisation.



without the ability to properly delve into, question, test and challenge the provided information and work at it so as to adapt it to suit their own needs and make it their own for their own humanity, uniqueness and creation of a good life.


Which means the ability to perform a deep verbal analysis of the existing, the past that created the existing and how we could and ought to transform the present into a better life and future for us.


Students are provided with fixated and prescribed constructs (like “common law” in law) and theories of what personality, psychology, philosophy are that they are expected to submit and recall at examinations without critical engagement, deconstruction, debunking, and analysis of what these theories mean and are. 



Those are detached prescribed linguistic constructs that are mechanistically prescribed, provided, received, cognised, recited and submitted in order to pass exams, get degrees and qualifications and do well in league table, get jobs and position and improve statistics




Students are not being trained to critically, dialectically and verbally engage with information and reconstruct and transform it to suit their needs, interests and their construction of their future and the future of the society, world and planet where they live and to construct their own strong, well-formed and well-articulated theories of what they do, how they do it , and why.  



Theories that they can argue and convey to public scrutiny, further dialectical transformation and the critical engagement of others in dialectical dialogue of how do we construct a better future, world, quality of life and country and society.  


And that they can go, implement, test and critically and reflectively enquire and co-enquire into what they do and revise, change, develop and improve according to their findings and critical reflections in and on action (Donald Schön’s method) on what they say and how how they convey it.

Posted by Alon Serper on 04 May 2015 08:39:13

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