Vasilios Theodorakis – An Online Author is a digital repository of all my written work (in text and podcast formats)…

September 14, 2010

Vocational Education?

Filed under: Arts,Culture And Society,Science And Technology — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 10:06 pm

It astounds me how our political leaders don’t understand that new ideas come out of endeavours that aren’t necessarily associated with well defined jobs. Do they really think that people like Einstein came up with the “Theory Of Relativity” through their job training? The theory came out of Einstein’s thought experiments!

The current paradigm, that goes back to the late 1980’s, believes all you need to do is get an education or be trained for a job i.e. Vocational Education. The notion of eduction for life and eduction for innovation went out the window years ago. Dreamers and visionaries no longer have a place in Australian society – then again, maybe they never did – and you can see this, when you compare the budgets for the Arts and Pure Sciences against the applied fields and economics. History, Philosophy, Literature, etc. are viewed as irrelevant because they don’t lead to a direct job. Pure Mathematics, Physics, Palaeontology, etc. aren’t valued because it’s thought they don’t accomplish anything economically. The irony is, that without people having studied in these fields and “mused” over “irrelevant” questions, insights and discoveries which have improved society and driven technology would never have happened.

Take for instance your little USB memory stick – this device came out of pure research in solid state physics. At the time of its discovery, i.e. many decades ago, solid state theory had no practical use for the idea, but if those researchers hadn’t been allowed to pursue their research for the sake of knowledge alone, you wouldn’t have your little storage device today!

This issue was recently covered in ABC’s Radio National – Big Ideas presentation titled: Weaving the Rainbow: The Poet and The Scientist Speak. The presentation included Les Murray and Barry Jones talking about where Education has gone wrong in Australia and how there is no vision for the future.

Unfortunately our nation’s politicians don’t seem to understand that one needs to pay more attention to the nation’s thinkers – i.e. our thinkers are the true visionaries, guides and seers into the future. Instead of taking on board what people like Jones and Murray have said over the years, the current PM has down graded education to such an extent, that we now don’t have a Ministry Of Education in the new parliament – just 3 smaller ministries preparing people for jobs! We are well and truly on the way to becoming the region’s Eurasian trash. All the country will be good for in the long run, is handing over resources and doing menial jobs that drive the immediate economy.

I therefore fear, thinking and dreaming will have to be done elsewhere – God help Australia’s creative young who spend all their time “musing” on things that are deemed irrelevant! Not only will they be unable to develop their ideas into robust theories but they’ll have no means of earning a living from their intellectual passion!

Copyright © Vasilios Theodorakis 2010

August 6, 2010

The Sacrament Of Story

Filed under: Arts,Culture And Society — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 8:05 pm

The ability to story tell is fundamental to the human condition. In many ways it probably differentiated us from other hominids and allowed us to prevail in our ecological niche. This idea is hinted at in the human palaeontological record but there isn’t enough data to empirically prove it yet.

So with story, our sense of bonding was raised above and beyond that of preening, survival and reproduction. It allowed us to carry shared adventures and history across time and space. It firmly established the notion of culture around our early camp fires, and also let us know what others were thinking and feeling – i.e. it seeded empathy. Story did all this, in spite of the fact that our ancestors may have never met the people it described. It even allowed early humans to relate to people who had never existed. Of course, complex language was the precursor to story and without language (externalised thought), story would never have happened.

On a personal note, I find story and the places where story is told almost sacrosanct. For me, its forums are as hallowed as the life filled rainforest or the life giving liturgy. This perception has been with me for years and I often feel that something has been defiled, a sacred place desecrated, when developers shut down and demolish theatres and cinemas. This is something we are especially good at in the greater city of Brisbane – which now has no theatres left in the CBD!

In addition to this, as I’m descended from a long line of story tellers, I’ve been indoctrinated with its basic structure from a very young age. i.e. That story has to have a beginning, middle and end – otherwise what’s the point! Many supposed story tellers don’t understand these basics. i.e. in movies for example, some directors like to leave out crucial parts, like endings! What really upsets me about this approach is that my wife and I often hand over our hard earned cash to these film makers who don’t understand their own craft. Take “Inception” for instance which has the ultimate “artsy” non-ending! What sort of smart alec is this director Christopher Nolan who chose to finish the movie in this way? If we wanted to not have an ending to a story, we would tell each other such nonsensical tales for free! If someone pays you to tell a story, you have a moral obligation to do just that, otherwise give the patron back their money and stop masquerading as a modern day bard!

Despite the people who don’t understand the sanctity of story and story structure, there are many more story tellers who do. For those of us who cannot live without the telling of tales (each and every day of our lives), I am eternally grateful that the Christopher Nolans of the world are still the exception not the rule.

Copyright © Vasilios Theodorakis 2010

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