critical consciousness (3)

I have long been an advocate of not denying the "mess" the world is in and where we are likely heading--crises one after another are mere symptoms of a larger looming disaster ecologically and in every other way--we will be challenged big time!. Some before me and after will raise this awareness in a fearlessness fashion, beyond denial and fear. I think one of the most powerful critiques of what has happened to the human-Earth relationship in the last 10,000 years or so, is the analysis of worldview(s). My own upcoming book on the work of Four Arrows, an Indigeneous-based social transformer [1] and others, like the new dissertation of Sepie (2018) from New Zealand [2], are critical sources of helping us understand the problem of worldview(s) and how to change our intimate relationships with them. We tend to swim in our worldviews that have been imposed on us and that we adopted very early in life without critical consciousness of the impact of that adoption. It takes a life-time of hard work and study and thinking critically to unravel the layers of the dominant worldview that has "taken us on." This critical analysis is even more crucial when the dominant worldview happens to be a paradigm of fear, that is, ruled by fear (and not in a good way)! At least, that is what the Indigeneous, the Feminist, the Matrixial, the Integral, the Fearlessness and the Postcolonial worldviews offer as a critique, more or less explicit, of the colonial worldview that dominates much of modernity and beyond. But that's another blog for another time. 

What I wish to share here is a few quotes from a mixed-blood Maori doctoral student in the field of geography [3], and one that has done an enormous amount of research in the dissertation which I have glanced at. Sepie (2018) does an outstanding synthesis of vast literature across fields, and cultures, and time, and has offtered a new pedagogical framework for a planetary futurity that is healthy, sane and sustainable. She says she is looking to be part of a growing movement, a near invisible one, of geographies of hope, that is, some force with actual academic useful things to offer humanity in its struggles.

She doesn't talk a lot about fear nor mention fearlessness or fearless as concepts (or paradigms) for her imaginary, however, I particularly am inspired to share bits of this dissertation because of the Indigenous-based, Motherline-based, Earth-Elders-based, decolonising worldview she articulates and challenges the dominant colonising worldview--and, mostly I am thrilled to find an Indigenous-based scholar (they are rare; [4]) who has acknowledged the integral thinking and writing of Ken Wilber, an American integral philosopher who's work has greatly influenced my own, and my philosophy of fearlessness and fearism. Okay, a few short quotes from Sepie (2018), 

p. i - In pursuing planetary futurity, I engage with these [many and diverse] voices in order to trace a path toward a renewed Earth community [ethic]....I outline a pedagogical framework for worldview transformation, as a component of necessary decolonisation and rematriation processes." 

p. 1 - "Such times of crisis call for a radical shift in conceptual focus, one that pushes the human imagination to create differently." 

And finally, I love her radical surprise, when after listing all gratitudes to those who supported her research, she writes: 

"My gratitude is also extended to those who did not support me – in this endeavour, or in general. I thank those who did not believe in me, who forgot or ignored our mutual obligations as humans-in-relation, who withheld assistance in times of need, and who sometimes deliberately conceived of obstacles, often seemingly insurmountable, for me to overcome. Just as the stone in the river becomes smoother through turbulence and its story becomes infinitely more interesting, this resistance has added innumerable and valuable layers to my experience in life, despite its acquisition via discomfort. Thank you for the contrast: for reminding me to remain open and to be without fear, to be tenacious, to speak my mind and live in accordance with my values, to remember courage in the face of adversity, and, for whatever the reasons, known only to you, contributing what you had to give. Thank you for teaching me, even if it was ultimately to take a different turn. Without you, also, this work would not be what it is." (p. viii) [bold added for emphasis]

Now, that's practicing the "gift of fearlessness" the Indigenous gratitude way... wonderful!  


The importance of "imagination" or what I often refer to in my work as "imaginary" expansion is worth highlighting here. I particularly, have taken a radical shift of focus (like Subba et al.) toward understanding the nature and role of fear and fearlessness in the worldivew and crises humans have created. I have uniquely among my colleagues in fearism, taken the integral theory and imaginary on as ontological and epistemological grounds for a holistic critical approach. Sepie (2018), makes reference to her encounter with Wilber's integral-transpersonal perspective in a footnote (citing A Brief History of Everything, 1996 written by Ken Wilber): 

"Some of the greatest thinkers I have encountered (in print, alas, far more than in life) are skilled at novel innovation or insight by the careful cultivation of specialisation and generalism, or a balance of span and depth thinking, undertaken in equal measure. This is a quality I admire in Harvey, among others. My concept of span and depth balance is interpreted from the essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox” by the philosopher and political theorist, Isaiah Berlin (Berlin et al. 1997, pp. 436-498), and has also been developed via the work of transpersonal and integral theorist Ken Wilber (1996)." [bold added for emphasis]


1. Soon to be published: Fisher, R. M. (2018). Fearless engagement of Four Arrows: The true story of an Indigenous-based social transformer. NY: Peter Lang.

2. Sepie, A. J. (2018). Tracing the motherline: Earth elders, decolonising worldview, and planetary futurity. Unpubl. dissertation. Aotearoa, NZ: University of Canterbury. [geography]

3. Thanks to Dr. D. T. Jacobs (aka Four Arrows) for sending me this dissertation.

4. I am referring to a quote in Meyer, M. A. (2008). Indigenous and authentic: Hawaiian epistemology and the triangulation of meaning. In N. K. Denzin, Y. S. Lincoln & L. T. Smith (Eds.), Handbook of critical and Indigenous methodologies (pp. 217-232). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 222-24.






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New School Movement Cares About Role of Fear

It is rare for me to find a transformative school, or school movement that seems like it really is what it advertises itself to be when looked at closer. It is rare when I get surprised there is a movement, I have never heard of (i.e., in North America) that is encouraging beyond the surface. I am aware of the great strides of progressive schools in Finland and how that model is taking off around the world, but right here in American there's EL Schools based on the Outward Bound design principles, brought into regular schools and transforms them. I think these are worth looking at seriously for anyone involved in curriculum development for the 21st century, and, I'm sure these schools are not "perfect" and I would have a lot of things to add, or would any other astute critic of educational practices. I am also not saying this is a radical school movement like I would like... but it seems, upon my reading the website that it is impressive nonetheless for what it is. The 10 principles are pretty great (albeit, I don't see enough Indigenous Education aspects up-front-and-center as Four Arrows would recommend [1]. Yet, a few things impress me, and that begins in Principle 1, I have included it below... and, you can guess why I like it so much. The second, is that Natural World is put out so prominently (principle 8) with also Solitude & Reflection (principle 9)

The foregrounding of the role of fear as the greatest barrier to human potential is not an entirely new idea at all, it is just rare to see it foregrounded in any school movement. I had never even heard of EL schools, although, I am somewhat familiar with the Outward Bound philosophy and programs going back into the 1970s as part of the Outdoor and Environmental Education movement. So, it is great to see this new adaptation into regular schools in the system and it is producing great results.

The area of my critique, of course, would be on what the quality is behind their conception of "fear" and most likely it is pretty shallow and individual and psychological--not an integral perspective. This is where I would bring forward the work of Four Arrows and myself to supplement such a "primary task" to ensure it is done the best possible [2]. I would encourage such EL Schools to join the Fearlessness Movement first off the bat. Then study these movements, and have their students study them, for starters. Why limit the imaginary to merely "overcome their fears" but rather put this into an evolutionary, historical, sociopolitical, liberational context. "Fears" is not the most important, but understanding the nature and role of fear itself is deeper and richer for critical consciousness... and, then, there are a few more steps along the spectrum of maturity that are required... all the way to fearlessness and on and on...

End Notes:

1. See, Four Arrows (Jacobs, D. T.) (with England-Aytes, K., Cajete, G., Fisher, R. M., Mann, B. A., McGaa, E. and Sorensen, M.) (2013). Teaching truly: A curriculum to Indigenize mainstream education. NY: Peter Lang.

2. in Four Arrows et. al (2013), see Chapter 13, "From Fear to Fearlessness"; also, in Four Arrows (2016), see Chapter 2, "Courage and Fearlessness." Four Arrows (2016). Point of departure: Returning to a more authentic worldview for education and survival. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

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The Indigenous educator, Four Arrows (aka Dr. Don Trent Jacobs), whom I have been writing a book on, has recently published his own book (his 20th), called "Point of Departure: Returning to a More Authentic Worldview for Education and Survival" (I've attached a color photo of the cover in Photos on this blog, published by IAP, Inc.). Also on Photos you'll see a page of text from the book, Chapt. 2, Courage and Fearlessness (which is always an interesting read).

I won't say more at this point other than to say this is his most controversial book likely... but we'll see. I believe Four Arrows takes a much more radical stand to a Two-eyed Seeing" approach which attempts to bring together Western and Indigenous worldviews (as "two-eyes"). Always willing to risk it all, Four Arrows has never been one to follow the trends...

Below is one of the book reviewers comments:

"How will we get beyond our 'Western' narcissism to explore, listen, and trust non-dominant cultural discourses which open us to sustainability and yes, survival? This book creates a pathway, reasonably and humanely  brings us to a critical consciousness of emancipation and activism. The time is now... to embrace praxis-based ways of knowing and humbly look to Elders of knowledge for nourishment and survival. Four Arrows starts us on the journey."

-Shirley R. Steinberg

Research Professor of Youth Studies

University of Calgary and founder,

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