Northfield School of the Liberal Arts

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Convocation: Joel Ewy on Thomas Kuhn's Concept of Paradigm Shifts

Join us for convocation as Joel Ewy discusses Thomas Kuhn’s concept of paradigm shifts.

Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) was an American physicist, historian, and philosopher of science whose 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions argued that scientific research and thought are defined by “paradigms,” or conceptual world-views, that consist of formal theories, classic experiments, and trusted methods. Scientists typically accept a prevailing paradigm and try to extend its scope by refining theories, explaining puzzling data, and establishing more precise measures of standards and phenomena. Eventually, however, their efforts may generate insoluble theoretical problems or experimental anomalies that expose a paradigm’s inadequacies or contradict it altogether. This accumulation of difficulties triggers a crisis that can only be resolved by an intellectual revolution that replaces an old paradigm with a new one. The overthrow of Ptolemaic cosmology by Copernican heliocentrism, and the displacement of Newtonian mechanics by quantum physics and general relativity, are both examples of major paradigm shifts. (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Joel Ewy went to six different Wichita Public Schools. In an eighth grade U.S. history class, he read that industrialism in the North produced standardized, interchangeable rifle parts, and later that late 19th Century industrialists helped found the public school system, in part for the purpose of producing a uniform and interchangeable workforce. He concluded that school is a factory, that students are not the consumer, but the product, and that conformism was a major value of the system. Around the same time, in a class under the 'gifted' program, he was taught that everyone has their own unique learning profile. But even in that very class, the pedagogy was uniform, and seemed to take no account of the ideas presented in the class. So the Wichita Public Schools gave him the tools for critiquing the school system, which he did bitterly from that point onward. He went on to major in Philosophy at Bethel College in N. Newton, KS., where he took the Liberal Arts concept farther than it was probably ever intended, earning a four year degree in only seven years, while taking a wide diversity of classes that didn't officially go together, including more Computer Science, Painting, Fiction and Poetry writing, and more History than the general ed. requirements called for. He's self-employed doing computer maintenance, and has a short story published in the "Alternative Truths Anthology" and upcoming stories and essays in "Boundary Shock Quarterly".

Earlier Event: November 21
Thanksgiving Break