Learning from the Koto Wedge: The Sphere and the Shawl

By Ian Frank and Malcolm Field.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Reflections on the educational practices that we have found ourselves using have led us to the notion of “koto”. This is a concept from Japanese philosophy that has no direct equivalent in English, but can loosely be interpreted as the intersection between the concrete world of “things” and the abstract realm of feelings and thought. Although originating in an Asian setting, our ideas are generally applicable. We introduce a conceptualisation we call the “koto wedge” that can be used to ground thinking in and on education, giving numerous examples to demonstrate the predictive and explanatory power of the approach. To aid in understanding the koto concept itself we draw on examples from the real world. Two stories in particular that will help us are those of Achim Leistner, who polishes spheres, and the peasants of Slovakia, who once knew fame for their handmade shawls.

Keywords: Philosophy, Teaching Methodology, Meta-Skills, Experiential Learning, Psychology, Interaction

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 9, pp.83-92. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.051MB).

Prof. Ian Frank

Professor, Media Architecture Department, Future University-Hakodate, Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan

Ian Frank graduated from the Department of Artificial Intelligence at Edinburgh University, where his PhD research was on computer game playing and how to automatically explain a computer’s “thinking” to humans. “The understanding and explanation of the complex” is a good summary not just of his research interests in science, but also of his experience in teaching. He became a faculty of Future University-Hakodate in 2001, and has been experimenting with educational practices and workshops over several years.

Prof. Malcolm Field

Future University-Hakodate, Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan

Malcolm Field read Education at the University of Cambridge, where he focused on the influence of culture on learning through technologies. His interests include the ways that different cultures transmit, transfer and learn knowledge, and how such differences are catered for by “modern” Western educational practices. He seeks direct applications by investigating across-border educational processes, and by seeking out creative educators and educational practices. He joined Future University in 2004, where he has been working across-paradigms to create greater and wider learning opportunities for students (and for himself).


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