A Clean Slate

Epistemology is the theory of knowledge. One theory in particular is referred to as tabula rasa which means shaven table, or blank slate. The shaven table refers to the method of deleting content from early data storage devices made of wax poured into a wooden frame. These wax tablets would be erased by shaving or scraping the wax off them.

This is a portrait from Pompeii of a woman  holding a wax tablet and chewing on her stylus.This is a portrait from Pompeii of a woman
holding a wax tablet and chewing on her stylus.

The tabula rasa theory is basically the idea that our minds are blank slates and need to be filled with content through education. John Locke subscribed to this idea and expounded on how to fill the slate in his seminal work Some Thoughts Concerning Education.

John Locke is as verbose as you'd expect from a 17th century philosopher, but the short version of his methodology on the best way to educate a student is to wash their feet in cold water every day, don't give them candy and don't make them take Latin. I'm being serious here - that's what the man said.

John's writing style reminds me that I don't like the BBC mini-  series Pride and Prejudice.John's writing style reminds me
that I don't like the BBC mini-
series Pride and Prejudice.

Okay, so we don't think Tabula Rasa would have been the best name for our product, so we went with Canvas, which is a lot like a wax tablet, in that it's a platform for content, except it's made of cotton. And that's an important point to make - Instructure isn't in the content business. Our platform is open and content agnostic. If you can view it in a web browser, you can add it to a lecture on Canvas without modification.

"Canvas: it's a lot like scraped wax, but better."

Keep learning,

-josh