topical in education studies. It is also very topical in philosophy of education because potential is ingrained in human nature. Educational processes can make it flourish, or otherwise leave it untapped. In other words, the processes of education may develop a learner’s intelligence and knowledge without fully developing the learner’s potentials. If this should happen, and it seems to happen a lot in our generation—a learner may be very intelligent, very knowledgeable and yet unfulfilled, first in schooling, and or later, in life. In his book titled Of Human Potential, Israel Scheffler (1985) defined human potential as, “The seeds of possible changes in his powers and attainments.”31 From this definition, we can identify the following about human potential: • • • • • •
It is a seed, already planted. It can be nurtured/killed depending on the environment—social, intellectual, political, and so on. The person in whom the potential is may or may not recognize it. The person may not know how to actualize it, thus needing a mentor, guardian, teacher, counsellor, and so on to “discover” himself. Potential is nature’s open door of opportunities. Whereas intelligence is essentially cognitive, potential may be cognitive, affective, or psychomotoric.
From the philosophical point of view, let us now examine three modalities of human potential. Firstly, potential is human capacity. In Israel Schefflers’ words, “lack of this condition would prevent the person from becoming or acquiring something.” In other words, potential as capacity 31
Israel Scheffler (1985) Of human potential, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Published on Sep 1, 2009