posted on Jul, 3 2015 @ 09:51 PM
Exposing the influence of the past on the present
My interest in education has to do with what I see to be a lack of understanding with how the past influences the present. For example, we can go all
the way back to the beginnings of the universe, and with Einstein, we can say that the laws of thermodynamics are fairly convincing in their
explanatory power. We can then take a few steps forward in the universes ontological history, and point out, with Franscisco Varela, that life adapts
itself to the immediate context of it's environmental niche. Back and forth, organism (unicellular, then multicellular) and environment 'dance', in
a chemical, but also in a very basic electrophysical way, with energy passing forth between the 'inside' of an apparently self-organizing life form,
and the environment, which provides the facilitating condition of life's persistence.
Eventually, we reach a state of multicellular beings interacting with one another at a 'social level'. With ants or buffalo, these individual
creatures do not make sense out of their environmental context. Sure, you can take an ant out of it's colony or a buffalo out of the herd, but you
will be left with a confused creature - a cognitive "mismatch" made evident by it's errant, dodgy behavior. What you note, if you pay attention, is
that the ant needs the colony and the buffalo needs the herd.
With human beings, at some point in deep time, symbolic thought emerged. Symbolic thought, for us, reached such 'rarefaction', that we came to
believe that our minds were 'separate' from the matter from which they emerge. We also assumed, that what we thought, what we asserted, was truth -
and if not any objective truth, we were adamant that it was "our truth". From Plato, to Galen, to Leonardo Davinci, human beings have been inching
forward, thinking and reasoning, trying with whatever powers they had at their disposal (which back then wasn't much) to 'deconstruct' the maze of
human self-awareness in the universe, and what we came up with, most of the time, particularly in the western world, was a dualism that separated mind
from matter, nature from nurture, and content from process.
We live at a time and age where the majority of people in the western world simply cannot stop, disengage from the influence of their past (their own
history) the immediate past (what just happened) and the present context (whats happening around them) and so recognize how horribly biased - and
ergo, narcissistically distracted - they are in the way they're perceiving the world around them.
This skill, despite seeming complex, emerges naturally when a human makes the effort to think better. However, it requires a process of learning. And
learning, or the prospect of learning, entails a desire to learn. The "desire to learn" is thus the linchpin, the strata that separates one
mind from another. But how can one be attracted to knowledge, or feel the necessity for knowing more, when ones entire history gives one the
"impelled reality" that nothing, in fact, is wrong?
Adaption contains within it's core the concept of "adjustment to a negative perturbation". Another person, such as myself, sharing knowledge of the
sort that I'm currently sharing, is categorically akin to the to the "tap" that causes the snail to return into it's shell, or the cell to retract
from the presence of a 'noxious' chemical. The amusing reality is, the mind, although 'above' the behavior of the snail or cell, is basically
enacting the same behavior. In this case, knowledge acts as the perturbation, and the 'core' that it acts upon, is not merely the body of the cell
or the flesh of the snail, but the "self", that socially emergent sense of "I am a self";the knowledge feels "bad", forcing the self back,
either into quiet dissociation (disconnection) or, perhaps more likely, it'll bark, very much dog-like, with supercilious rationalizations and
haughty arguments, all ultimately, at root, for the same reason: that this knowledge is FELT as a negative perturbation on the "self-organized
We must as a society pay attention to what neuropsychology is teaching us about the human mind. We are a leaf floating on a flowing river, the river
being the influences of the past and the present context of our immediate experiences. The conscious mind 'sits atop' whilst unconscious process
SELECT those things we should pay attention to; do we talk about politics or no? Do we mention what bothers us to the person were speaking to or no?
Anxiety sends outs its tendrils and scaffolds experiences by "blacking out", like a government censor, those mental elements which are sure to
promote anxiety or shame.
So why do we think as we do? Because the force of culture - the way action and perception meet up on one another - forms "patterns", "wells of
activity" or "basins of attraction", which pulls minds into it's current by blacking out those elements sure to incite anxiety/shame, thus
creating notions like popularity and ridicule, pride and prejudice. We fall into these wells of dynamic activity for no other reason other than that
we do not build into the infrastructure of our educational systems repellors against these processes.
We'll make better, more conscientious, better thinking minds when we pay attention to the evolution of homo-sapiens, the motivational factors that
bias our thinking, and the needs we all have, throughout development, to live meaningful, happy lives. In order to make this a reality, the concept of
systems needs to move out of the realm of academia, and into our classrooms, where kids can learn and discover for themselves, how interconnected
everything is, from the galaxy, to the solar system, to the earth, the atmosphere, biosphere, the human body, and the process of the social on the
formation of individual human minds. Only when the concept of "systems' and "self-organization" is made popular and meaningful - i.e. by
leveraging the power of educational systems - can we create the type of societies that will take care of every person who makes it up, as well as the
world around it.