This is my response to Jenny’s post on the meaning of openness in education and learning.
“What would happen if everybody gave away everything for free with no expectation of anything in return? Would it work? What would we gain by living in such a society? What would we lose?”
This is an utopian state where Confucius once envisaged: In such society, we will love each other – love not only our family & relatives, but also others’ family & relatives, love not only our children, but others’ children; so the elderly could be taken care of by the young ones, and the young ones would be looked after by the elderly and adults. That is the community or society created based on love and harmony, where social responsibility as a citizen and community is emphasised. That is altruism in spirit, in an ideal society.
This is also embedded in the Catholic & Christian faith and values, to love God, to love others as thyself, to serve others and not to be served, to give away our wealth to the needed (i.e. to help the poor) and follow Jesus Christ, and not to ask for rewards.
This may also be relating to the capitalist (individualist) and socialist (collectivist) values and mindset, in that accumulation of wealth is justified with capitalism and sharing of wealth is justified with socialism.
So would it be a shift from an individualist attitude about “knowledge possession” towards a “collectivist” or socialist attitudes about “knowledge sharing” in education?
So, how graceful would it be if everybody could give away everything for free with no expectation of anything in return!
Would it work?
Yes, it would, if people in the community and society share such values and practise it in education and at work. That’s the ideal.
No, as most people are still living in a capitalist society. That’s reality.
What would we gain?
A society with people who care and love others, bringing out the highest values of human. People who help each others in education, and support others in liberating their potentials, and model the spirit of altruism in their daily life.
Instead of merely focusing on the development of experts, would the focus be shifted towards the development of expertise amongst community to create more social capital?
What would we lose?
Greed, wealth (money), fame, pride, rewards, and may be personal identity, especially in a society where money and wealth could be praised as the pinnacle of ones’ fame and success.
In a commercial world where customers (clients, stakeholders) always come first, with severe competition in the business and education world, it is far too difficult to give everything for free, and this is undesirable from a business point of view (where profit is the focus of the business).
Can we have everything free?
This may happen if we have more philanthropists.
Would it still be a long journey for mankind to educate ourselves in philanthropy?
We need more Stephen Downes and George Siemens!