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education (8)

Dr. Don Trent Jacobs (Four Arrows)- Speaking to Dep. of Curriculum & Pedagogy at University of British Columbia Sept. 28/18

I encourage you to have a listen to an Indigenous activist/educator (and hypnotherapist) talk about the "indigenizing" of Education and the conclusion he has come to: that we (humanity) are not going to turn things around in the world--things will get very much worse--and, he talks of "courageous hopelessness" as the only sane and realistic optimism we ought to be accessing... rather than false hopes, illusions, of repair... At the end of the talk he goes into mass hypnosis and how to dehypnotize oneself from the culture of the Dominant worldview... he gives an example of how courage is different than fearlessness (his view). 

Note, Four Arrows is the person I have studied for over 10 years and recently 3 yrs ago began writing his intellectual biography, which is now published "Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows: The True Story of an Indigenous-based Social Transformer" (Peter Lang, 2018). Also, note, I obviously agree with much of what he says about fear, courage and fearlessness, but we also have our significant differences as well. 

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I want to announce with delight, my new appointed position as Adjunct Faculty to The University of Calgary. I'll be serving a two year contract as a non-paid position in the Werklund School of Education, where I now will be able to have official status and input as an "educator" in a legitimate institute of higher education. It took a lot of years, decades, to find a university that would be interested in me and my work and my offerings for students and a faculty of education. 

It is still early in the process and I don't know exacly what this new appointment may entail, other than it will make it easier for me to teach some courses as an Adjunct and it will allow me to serve on graduate theses committees. I enjoy doing these activities and am pleased to be available for more students, including internationally if they are looking for external examiners, and/or committee members. I also will now have access to the UofC library services, etc. and that helps with my research. I look forward to connecting with UofC folks in the future and who knows where such an appointment may lead; it is a door opening, and that's a good sign in my career path.  

Mostly, I wish to contribute powerful and meaningful future vision for education in this city of Calgary, the province (Alberta) and the country (Canada). I am open to working with all kinds of teams of people to find mutual ground to make this world a better place. 

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I have recently come across the research in art education and learning and teaching art, by Dr. Stephanie Baer, Assistant Professor of Art Education, Miami University, OH. In an article she published in Education and Culture 28(1) (2012): 42-61,  Dr. Baer studied the habitual fears that her beginning Arts in the Elementary Classroom course she taught had: (1) "I'm not very artsy" -the fear of doing a daily art sketch book, (2) "Others won't like what I have to say" - the fear of being judged, (3) "nervous about getting outside my comfort zone" - the fear of performance. Although this was a class of non-majors in art, they were afraid of art and their own creativity incapabilities and how they would look bad in front of their peers. Dr. Baer knew that they needed to talk about these greatest fears up front and work with them as part of the course material, and as the philosopher John Dewey would suggest in the early 20th century writings on art and experience and learning, that the students need to be aware of the impact of affect and emotions and utilize them as authentic experience in everything they are trying to accomplish and learn so that, with practice, support and teacher guidance, they could move with that energy converting it into "interest [motivational drive] rather than fear [alone]" (Baer, 2012, p. 51). [Note: Saunders & Jenkins, 2012 argued fear also has to be taken into account consciously in its impact on future envisioning; see below for Reference] 

Having taught this course eight times, Dr. Baer noticed these same basic fears year after year in her preservice teachers, and she was attempting to utilize fear in the course learning process. She wrote, "My responsibility as their instructor is to question mantras that reflect insecurity in process and make pedagogical use of their fears" (p. 42)--because otherwise, fears such as these blocked the students' imaginations, creativity and seeing the possibilities of art's power in expression and communication. Their own K-12 students would likely also face these blocks in schools they were going to teach in, so it was better to address these fears now and understand them before teaching children. Dr. Baer also wrote of her own fears encountering this unfamiliar and difficult experience with these teachers and risking to find ways to deal with it all in the course itself. What I like in particular is her energetic vision, mostly as I read her dissertation (Baer, 2012), upon which the above article was written, as it is entitled: "RE-ENVISIONING FEAR...". I like her question: "In what ways can fear be interpreted to included a greater understanding of fear's roles and capacities..." (p. 16). Now, she has my attention, because that question is the basis of all my research for nearly three decades. I begin that question, unlike Baer, with assuming "fear" has not been well interpreted or defined period, and that's where we should start our inquiry to "re-envisioning fear" (what I call 'fear'). And, to do so, I assume fearlessness has to be interpreted dialectically right there, right along with fear ('fear') to get the best holistic-integral analysis and interventions. 

Most of us can recognize these fears in likely any new learning situation, more or less. Importantly, from a philosophy of fearism perspective, the teachers above are recognizing that fear has to be part of the everyday discourse of learning, regardless of the subject content. Education as a whole has not always given enough attention to the role of fear in learning, and with the current climate of fear in schools and culture of fear in general, especially in North America, this ignore-ance is no longer tenable. Curriculum and pedagogy and fear are a must as far as I am concerned. But that's only scratching the surface of the issue, and Dr. Baer's research study and experience also is only scratching the surface. John Dewey's progressive educational writings likewise. Yet, I found in a rare quote from John Dewey that he also was in favor of fearlessness. I found my FM blog over 2.5 years ago on Dewey's "rant" as I called it, and how he is an important advocate for both what today Subba calls a philosophy of fearism but also what I would call a philosophy of fearlessness. So, in that regard, I will republish that blog below, as it is so important and worth reconnecting with for any of us who are educators especially. I also want to note that I have written an extensive critique of two educational philosophers who are Deweyians and who did a major study on fear and learning (of which Baer, 2012, relied heavily upon in her interpretations), mainly because of the emphasis on "fears" and loss of meta-context of fear itself (e.g., culture of fear) and neglect of trance-based learning (e.g., Four Arrows' CAT-Fear dynamic), for e.g., see Technical Paper No. 37.

References: Baer, S. (2012). Re-envisioning fear: The role of conversation in an arts classroom for prospective teachers. Unpubl. Diss. University of Nebraska; Baer, S. (2012). The fear of art and the art of fear. Education and Culture, 28(1), 42-61.

[Insert: Saunders & Jenkins (2012) wrote, "This paper explores the significance fear plays, or does not play, in the practice of envisioning. Envisioning is seen as a powerful tool in the delivery of education for sustainable development, for it seeks to engage people in imagining and creating a better future. However, drawing on work undertaken with undergraduate students at the University of Glamorgan, South Wales, we argue that envisioning relies upon ‘absent fear’: it works to suppress, or make absent, fear as a valid response to present and future development. The presence of ‘absent fear’, we suggest, poses a barrier to fully engaging with the challenges and opportunities of a sustainable future, for it is difficult to conceive of a positive vision without first acknowledging and confronting our fears. It is in articulating fear, we observe, that people are more able to respond to the challenges of the future in hopeful and creative ways. Utilising work undertaken with our students this paper revisits envisioning and suggests the need to understand envisioning as a broader process of reflection and action."] Saunders, A., and Jenkins, S. (2012). 'Absent fear': Re-envisioning a future geograpy. Futures, 44(5):, 494-503.

 

Holy Rant: John's Dewey's Fearlessness Project

Remember the folk wisdom: Never judge a book by its cover. There's a metaphor there as well as a concrete and literal truth. And, of late with my discovery (below) one could add to this folk wisdom, and Never judge a philosopher by their books-- that is, unless you've really looked into them all in fine-detail. 

In the past couple days, due to meeting some interesting people and a project they have cooking in Murphysboro, IL (1), I've been researching in an area I have not looked at as intensely in the past as I ought to have. And, a good couple lessons it taught me: one of them being, that just when I thought I spent decades getting to know the literature in the field of Education, and thought I knew most of what educators (from scholars to practitioners) had and/or were saying seriously about fear and fearlessness (that's my speciality)... ahhhhh... 

I have to say I am a bit "shocked" that I have finally found a Western philosopher-educator, thought by many to be The Greatest Philosopher in America in the 19th-20th Century era--none other than John Dewey (1859-1952), writing a "holy rant" (prophetic) piece on fear and fearlessness.

My second lesson in finding this prophetic gem (quoted below), is that I have bolstered my respect for Dewey's life and work by a whole lot of positive notches. Fact is, I never liked Dewey (meaning his writing)--nor, did I like the male philosophers at UBC (my alma mater) who were so off-putting because they were Dewey experts and I hadn't read much Dewey. I tried getting into his work a few times in my undergrad and graduate years and later but... it bored me.

I should have read Dewey, after all I was in Education becoming a teacher and later a curriculum and pedagogy scholar and so you have to read John Dewey (it's part of the educational culture and W. canon)--but I preferred reading a lot of others and mostly I enjoyed reading the educational philosophy of Jiddu Krishnamurti (2) and others (primarily, Eastern type philosophers or my fav was E-W integral philosophers like Ken Wilber). I was not (still am not) a big fan of the philosophy of pragmatism he advanced in America during his life, with great success I might add--he had enormous impact in this country at many levels and I felt it the moment I moved here.

The Center for Dewey Studies was just one block away from where Barbara and I moved in to rent a house. And, part of the "awakening" in myself and others here is that SIU just bull-dozed that Center to the ground yesterday and relocated (3), with several disturbed people (myself included) taking pictures of the devastation. One by-stander told me "it is so violent" how the university administrators have only an interest in profit and have disrespect for history, and tradition (i.e., John Dewey). What they mean is there is an increasing disrespect for the Arts & Humanities in the current university system all across this country and many other W. countries. Yes, right here in Carbondale is one of the best collections of Dewey's work in the world. It attracts an ongoing stream of international scholars, and apparently Dewey has never been so popular in other countries around the world, while his reputation in America has fallen considerably since his death (albeit, with small revivals now and then). And guess what? I never ever went in that Center since I lived here, now 7 yrs. I rode by it on my bike many times, and looked in the windows, but could never get myself to go in, even though I thought of doing so. I should have but I had no calling strong enough. There were too many brewing arguments in my scholarly head, filled with complaints of why I didn't like Dewey's work (i.e., it didn't fit my way of thinking) (4). I suppose I was also ticked that Dewey got so much attention here and it felt like there was no philosophical room for my own views. All of that was part of my alienating feelings as a Canadian coming to live in the USA for the first time. A lot of mixed feelings there, as I have been an out and out critic of much of America's philosophy and politics (mainstream that is, Americanism as ideology, etc.). I didn't think Dewey's work was critical or radical enough. But now I realize that was a short-sighted judgment (5). Oooops!

Okay, my great excitement was to discover a passage published in 1922, from an interview with Dewey by Charles W. Wood, and I just thought of a great piece of art to accompany Dewey's Holy Rant on the role of fear and fearlessness in American education (then and now, as his rant so applies to everything today, 93 years later). 

Art work by Art Young (entitled: "This World of Creepers", c. 1907 [15 yrs. before Dewey's published Holy Rant on fear and fearlessness], published in a political magazine I found in the library stacks at UBC in my graduate years (unfortunately I didn't write down the exact reference info. and haven't been able to find it again). Oh, this image is slightly 'touched up' by yours truly as I added the 'ISM' part in the original version. I love that the artist (Young) was tapping into the climate of increasing fear and its consequences in the world (America) at the time of post-WWI, and it is rather earth-shaking, spine-shaking, to me the prophecy in Art Young's piece and John Dewey's piece (below). These are both markers of the history of fear and fearlessness that has been left out of the history books, I'm sorry to say, it is sad. I really need to write my own version of the history of these fascinating and important ideas/realities-- fear and fearlessness, and their dynamic relationship. Mostly, what is missing is the history of fearlessness! (I have found at least five good scholarly works on the history of fear). So, why the absence of a history of fearlessness (especially, in the West)? See my recent technical paper "What is the West's Problem with Fearlessness?" (scroll down the web page link to find a pdf). 

John Dewey on Fear & Fearlessness

[This is not the complete interview, nor the complete text from the summary of the interview by Charles W. Wood in 1922, just after Dewey had returned from a long visit to China; this article was originally published as Wood, C. W. (1922). Professor John Dewey on the hysteria which holds teaching in check. New York World, 27, Aug.; the current excerpt [reprinted version] below is from Boydston, J. A. (Ed.) (2008). Report of Interview with Dewey (by Wood, C. W.), In John Dewey, the middle works, 1899-1924, Vol. 13, 1921-22 (pp. 425-32). Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press]

[with bold added for emphasis] [Dewey:] "The greatest enemy to human progress is fear. People generally tell the truth unless they are afraid to--afraid of punishment, afraid of someone's opinion or afraid that some competitor will gain an advantage. A large percentage of human ills is due to greed, but back of greed lies the sense of insecurity and its accompanying fear. Fear is the soil in which wars are bred. Fear engenders hate. Individually and socially, wherever human life and human relations become inhuman, we are quite sure to discover that they have been poisoned by fear. Cowardice in public office, cowardice in business dealings, cowardice in international relations--we are all more or less familiar with the havoc wrought by these; but the most insidious poison I know of in modern society is cowardice on the part of those who are charged with the responsibility of teaching our youth" 


[that open's Wood's article, and Wood responds to it:] "Before I tell you who said it, I wish you all read that paragraph again. Find a flaw in it if you can."

[Dewey continues:] "And the boys and girls in our New York schools... are not getting half a chance. They are the victims of an inherent timidity, if not an active intimidation, within our school system. There can be no real education unless there is fearlessness, but New York teachers are not free to teach. The situation in this respect is worse, it seems to me, than it ever was before.... [re: his critique of "training" vs. true "education"] But the very basis of such training is fear of what they [the child] may do without it. When we are trying to draw out human intelligence , there must be no such fear.... the system is now additionally cursed by a set of silly laws conceived in fear and born in political hysteria [culture of fear] which seized this country during and immediately after the war.... The public now would like to return to sanity: But unless it provides some antidote for those poisonous [fear-based] laws, the minds of our children generally must suffer incalculably.... The school authorities, in the very nature of their organization, cannot be trusted with this task. They are, to say the least, timid. It is their nature [fear habit] to travel the beaten paths. They are afraid of innovations. They are necessarily afraid to run counter to the public wishes.... [and what we must do, he says] see to it that this haunting fear is eliminated from our school life [and society]."

******

If I am over-zealously reading Dewey, forgive me for my ignorance, and passion, it is just that it seems obvious this mild-mannered philosopher is going for the juglar vein, with no holds barred. That's prophetic pedagogy and philosophy of the kind very rare to see in the Western world, especially in the Education field. But it was the 1920s. I wonder if Dewey ever came back to these poignant points and arguments and fleshed them out? I am going to find out. I wonder if all the hundreds of scholars who have taken up to critique and follow Dewey's legacy, with multiple angles of interpretations, do they write about this interview on fear and fearlessness? Why have I never seen this referenced in my 26 yrs of researching on fear and fearlessness? I'm sort of thinking that perhaps no one has picked up on the holy rant of Dewey in 1922, which I am dubbing as John Dewey's Fearlessness Project. Again, I caution myself that perhaps I am overly reading into Dewey's grand philosophical and educational (and political) project... and, it then seems clear as a bell when I re-read and re-read his interview extracts here. Thank you Charles W. Wood (if you are still alive) for bringing this holy rant out of Dewey and publishing it. Thank you all the Dewey followers for reprinting it (note: in a book/journal issue published in Carbondale, IL by SIU Press in 2008). I haven't read it in the complete yet, and will do so soon. 

John Dewey's Fearlessness Project is not a label I use lightly, it is however one I am totally glad to apply and I am considering (after more research, perhaps) to end up including Dewey's movement in progressive education and philosophy in America (19th-20th century) as a contributing "Fearlessness Movement" initiative and add it to the Wikipedia on that topic. One outstanding question is can a pragmatist (6) like Dewey be prophetic (are they supposed to be, based on the definition of pragmatism and its history in American philosophy and as American philosophy)? I won't go on and on here with so many questions that arise, some very troubling as to the 'absence' of this holy rant in all my scouring the Educational field (albeit, I will say I have found other W. critical thinkers, and educators saying very similar things to Dewey in the above--but that's another article; I'm wondering if they had read Dewey's rant or it was picked up in them by osmosis--matrixial threads--unconscious collective archetypes?)--I trust some of you may like to comment on this. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Oh, one last (very interesting) thought, according to a Dewey scholar (Ryan, 1997, p. 80), it was Alice Chirman, Dewey's wife (1886 on) who gave Dewey three things he need, says Ryan, "The first was fearlessness about the ideas and opinions of the rest of the world" -- the other two things (note) follow from that gift... now there is a great feminist, womanist, feminine acknowledgement. See Ryan, A. (1997). John Dewey and the high tide of American liberalism. NY: W.W. Norton. 

 

End Notes

1. I am referring to a very interesting duo (and others), Prof. of Philosophy Randy Auxier, SIU and Prof. of Philosophy John Shook, University of Buffalo NY, who have decided to pool their huge libraries, each over 15,000 books, into a library and research center in Randy's home in Murphysboro, IL (a 5 min. drive W. of Carbondale, IL where I live). They are putting together a non-profit organization at the same time and already have other retiring philosophy professors donating their life-long book collections to their center. Auxier and Shook believe their project reflects, as a counter-response, to a growing disturbing trend of American higher education institutes in general, which have disregarded the best quality of philosophy from American scholars in history. They are more than a little perturbed at the "State" of funding losses in higher education from the public purse and the overly business attitude of administration in many universities today in N.A. I agree with their critique and I think it is fascinating they are taking their passions into their own hands and not depending on anyone else to secure the best of knowledge and wisdom. One could write an essay about this changing landscape of American higher education in the past few decades where institutions care more about "profit" than securing the wisdom of a culture, in particular through the academy. I think they are marking a trend of alternative learning centers. The place at Randy's will be available to the public not merely scholars. It will have a residential component for scholars as well. I am even putting together a proposal for such a year long residency (I'll talk about that later perhaps). 

2. My all time favorite education book has got to be Krishnamurti, J. (1953/81). Education and the significance of life. NY: Harper & Row.

3. The Dewey materials from the Center are now in the (cold and dark) basement level of Morris Library, SIU. Larry Hickman, Director of the Center for Dewey Studies has been demoted to a small cubicle in that basement and most of his budget for research assistants and graduate assistants sliced. This doesn't speak well of the attitudes of the upper administration in SIU. 

4. The almost repulsive quality I had built up inside myself for over 3 decades in the field of Education, can be summarized (albeit, a bit grossly) to what I read in his work as a functionalist perspective (even if he was somewhat a radical liberal reformer challenging the status quo) and not a conflict perspective (i.e., based in critical theory). This is a much longer argument of differentiation that I spent years in my graduate work sorting out and researching, to come to the conclusion I was a conflict theorist not a functionalist (pragmatist) theorist. It makes a big political difference. For those really keen to know more about this you can check out these terms online and a really good summary of the distinction is my daughter and her collaborator's chapter in a recent book I also have a chapter in, see Fisher, V., and Nicholson, S. E. (2014). Introduction: Developing a critical integral praxis for sex, gender, and sexuality. In S. E. Nicholson and V. Fisher (Eds.), Integral voices on sex, gender, and sexuality: Critical inquiries (pp. 1-12). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. 

5. I still am not convinced his work is strong enough to bring about the transformation that I think America needs to go through before it destroys itself and the rest of the world with it. Thus, I am still rightfully critical he was not "radical enough" (you could say)--that is, he never was a good conflict theorist. Now, even that, as I age, is becoming a little more tenuous of a divide in my mind (despite E.N. #4). But that's a longer story, and I'm interested to study Dewey to look at just what kind of conflict theorist he perhaps was and/or he was an integral theorist and I just missed it and frankly, I haven't read enough nearly to even assess this anymore. 

6. I had read a scholar recently writing on Dewey's work and suggesting Dewey preferred to be called some working with the philosophy of "experimentalism" and yet, many have dubbed him working with the philosophy of pragmatism (along with William James, Charles S. Peirce, etc.). Albeit, Dewey is uniquely a pragmatist with a strong social philosophy (activist) bent; and his background in Christianity (which he left the church eventually) and as a social reformer connected with religious life in America (i.e., New England)--all this leads to him being "prophetic" (and I mean that, because of his confrontation of our society with its culture of fear and the need for fearlessness). 

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Education and the Fear Problem: An Investigation of “Truths”

 R. Michael Fisher

Technical Paper No. 71

 Editorial Note: The original plan was to publish this article with the Journal of Unschooling & Alternative Education. After submitting the draft, published here in full as Technical Paper No. 71, it was clear to me that the editor of that Journal and the philosophy he has toward critique and research, was not at all compatible with my intent to publish a piece that was investigative and revealing of a problem with educators, and in this case “visionary” educators. After reading the editors very harsh critique of my work in this paper and his common concern I was “unfair” (repeated three times in his letter response), it was clear to me that being fair or unfair is not the way to get to truth of the matter. After a phone call with the editor, and I appreciate his candor and his openness to discuss this article, that I just could not revise it and try to soft-sugar coat what I have been attempting to show is the case (now empirically) that educators as a whole (and now even so-called “visionary” educators) are just not very interested and not very competent to discuss the current 21st century Fear Problem. The editor’s approach to a politically correct and more institutionally restrained addressing of this problem, if not censoring “truths” I have come by hard-earned in this fearwork and critique I do, are not a hopeful sign that anything is going to change much. I would rather let history judge the worth of this article, than one editor or a scholarly reviewer (whom I also asked to look at the draft and he was more or less also wanting me to soft-sugar coat it)—but two other scholarly reviewers I sent the piece to were not of that opinion and thought it was a good study and critique that needed to reveal what it does about educators and the topic of fear. Therefore, after 3 weeks consideration, and even trying to re-write another version of this paper, much softer, I just felt I was betraying the essence of my creative and investigative journalism approach in this study. Of course, I am not saying at all that the study herein of 15 visionary educators is flawless and did all the right things so-called. That’s minor compared to the truth it reveals—and, of course, some may argue it is only my “truth” being shared, as they will not like my interpretation of the larger truth that is exposed in this piece. Also, to be clear, this editor is not the first in my 40 years publishing, to attempt to challenge my style of research, writing and my philosophy of truthing. To say the least, I don’t find many souls out there who agree with my approach. I have chosen to send a copy of this Technical Paper No. 71 to all “visionaries” involved in this study. Finally, I am gravely concerned with the losses of quality critique that are happening in academia and society as a whole because of a growing over-protected culture of fear and its tendency to censor sometimes raw “truths” that need to be seen so we stay in touch with reality. I am no support of unethical or mean behavior and treatment of others, but I also am not about to pamper adults who teach and write in the public sphere. I too am one of those and I am as accountable to critiques of peers and others, just like everyone else I critique in this study. Thanks to the participants who responded, in whatever ways they responded. I know they all are doing good work out there in the world. I also know we can always do better in some areas. The Fear Problem is one area that needs a lot of work by educators. Thanks to Dr. Ricci for being willing to chat with me, and discuss the problems of this study on the phone as well. -rmf

 Abstract – This article summarizes the results of an initial qualitative research Fear survey of 15 North American “visionary educators” in late-2017. The purpose was to determine how they think about and define the Fear Problem today in the field of schooling, unschooling and in society-at-large. The author argues that although the 20% of respondents to the Fear survey demonstrate a basic “in-touchness” with the Fear Problem, postmodern research perspectives on “fear” suggest the visionary educators have yet to keep up with the trends and complexity of how “Fear” is now a major shaping force of individual and collective domains of reality. The author suggests directions for improving upon the reliance on promoting love and hope as solutions to the Fear Problem, which unfortunately, characterized the visionaries responses.

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Dr. Barbara Bickel, my life-partner, and co-founding member of FMning, sent me this e-mail to a few of her colleagues in Canada. She was fine with me posting it here:

"We [Michael and I] too are fitting in all the details of my retirement and our move while I plug through the end of the teaching term with students that seem to be in perpetual crisis and as an administrator I live with not knowing who will be teaching my program courses in the fall as we live through the unknown of how we will survive with another 30 million dollar cut to the [state] university [Southern Illinois]. We went through this last year as well. There is nothing extra left and we are still having to cut. Courses, program and colleges and faculty are on the chopping block. The administration here has no vision for restructuring while they restructure based on numbers only. At the same time more upper administrators are being hired. I want to tell all of my students to leave Illinois fast. Last year 80,000 people left Illinois and 16,000 of those where students. The brain drain of this state is severe. Living the tragedy of a decimated educational system each day.
AERA reminded me that my state is by far the worse off state in the country education wise. Other faculty are doing okay - although most of them are at the private Universities and not state universities. And that is the way education is going. Only the rich will be well educated at private institutions. I should end here as I am pretty jaded in the moment. The disappearance of quality education from the youth is so hard to live with. I have been watching this slowly take place my 9 years here and know it will get worse before it gets better. I am feeling survivor guilt leaving. And Michael and I look to create an alternative off the institutional grid when I return to Canada. We had this 20 years ago in Calgary before we both entered academia. 
Soooo really looking forward to this retreat. As I head into my detoxification time from the death driven neoliberal patriarchal system. This needs to be turned into art and poetry.
-Barbara
May 4, 2017
Carbondale, IL
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I have been re-reading Paulo Freire on "critical pedagogy" lately, as I was into it in my early 30s. I never leave this radical liberation model of education, of teaching and learning, with the "oppressed" in mind. And the oppressed, for Paulo Freire included the 'oppressors' as well because they are the worst case in being oppressed themselves by say "patriarchy" or any other name you want to give to the 'big bad problem' of domination-subordination (master-slave) relationality. I mean "worst case" because they are "blinded" by their power/privilege and thus enabled to "deny" they are oppressors and oppressed. They cause the worst damage to the whole system, not the typically identifiable "oppressed" and marginalized with very limited power/privilege in a society.

Finding A Fearlessness Center Again

I have an article about to come out soon in the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy (Spring, 2017) on some of my challenges to the critical pedagogy schools of thought and discourse in regard to how they have not really gone after the big bad problem of oppression in the way I think they need to. That is, the schools of critical philosophy, critical theory and critical pedagogy have largely ignored (or only very partially) addressed the Fear Problem (which, I am also calling many other things, but an interesting term of late is "paranoiaic paradigm" that has to be addressed). Or, as I wish to put it on this blogpost, these schools of thought and education, of which Four Arrows (aka Don Trent Jacobs) is also very critical of and yet also applauds, have ignored the 'loss of a center' in the sense of loss of 'sanity' and an ethical reference point for it --by which he and I  mean a "Fearlessness Center." Yes, there has always been a Fearlessness center or core foundation of all living systems, Natural, Cultural and Spiritual--at least, so the theory goes. He uses the Indigenous worldview as his basis for re-finding that 'Center' and I use many traditions of thought, basically under the rubric of the Fearlessness Movement. We are going to produce a lot more systematic work on this in the years to come.

I am going to post one of Four Arrows' fascinating early diagrams (1998), CAT-FAWN Connection, attempting a holistic model to show the need for a "Center(edness)" in all curriculum, that can call itself ethical and/or liberational (see below). Lot's more to be discussed of course, as this model isn't totally self explainable nor is the "Fearlessness Center" he and I are now writing about in various ways and it will show up in our new book in 2018 Fearless Engagement (Peter Lang Publishers). Anyways, something to think about.

Reference: Jacobs, D. T. (1998). Primal Awareness: A True Story of Survival, Transformation, and Awakening with the Raramuri Shamans of Mexico. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

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Here is my latest art-i-fact as a cultural worker. It is some of my best thinking on thinking, on educating ourselves for the 21st century. I invite you to take a read of the Manifest%20Thinking.doc

Here is the Abstract to the Manifesto (for convenience):

Abstract

 Someone asked me, “What do you do?” I replied, “I am an educator.” They said, “So, what do you teach?” I replied, “First, I design curricula based on how best to teach—thinking about thinking. Then, I teach others how to implement that curriculum so they get as excited as I do about the great human potential of thinking integrally across the globe.” The following manifesto is my first articulation of the ideas and rationale for why, after 40+ years of research and teaching, I have chosen to focus on thinking about thinking. I lay out the simple and complex versions of the problem—which, boil down to the problem of how humans self-regulate, self-violate, and typically fail to manage difference, diversity of perspectives and ways of thinking effectively. I offer some premises behind my integral design for Education and the ways it can be implemented. This is a work in progress, never to be left as written-in-stone. It can always be critiqued and improved. I invite anyone into this dialogue to improve learning about thinking itself and all the diverse ways of thinking that we all ought to have free access to. A first example of an Integral Thinking Curriculum is illustrated to begin the Global Thinking Agenda. You might think of this manifesto as a “calling” to gather together as humanity to a universal goal of equity and equality of opportunity for people to think about thinking as the foundation for all else that follows—the latter, which we might call “education.”

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I have just downloaded a long article "Educators, We Have a Culture of Fear Problem," one of my best (imo) in terms of a relatively complete analysis of the domain of how a culture of fear has penetrated the field of Education all the way up and down the spectrum right up to academia itself, at http://csiie.org/mod/page/view.php?id=3  (scroll down to Yellow Papers).

I have included the Abstract of this paper below. I look forward to talking with you on this after you have read it (in part, or whole). I cannot think of a more important topic on the planet that we should be talking about and taking actions on in order to transform this society ASAP. But, then, that's just my view--although, the culture of fear and education topic is my expertise. Btw, this article was submitted to an academic journal in the field of Education and rejected by both reviewers (on not very stable grounds) and so I decided to add the reviewers criticisms of the paper in the paper itself (at the end) with my fresh comments of critique of their critiques--so, that might be interesting for you to read. -enjoy, M.

Abstract

 

The author argues that a focused universal agenda for educators to critically assess is the human Fear Problem (i.e., “culture of fear”). It could serve as a useful and ethical meta-context to rally around for a thoroughgoing new reference point by which to design healthy and emancipatory educational global systems. This is the first publication in Educational literature to summarize the status of discourses using the culture of fear construct. The author briefly tracks out his 26 year journey studying this topic and its relationship to Education and social policy in their widest global sense. He documents and critiques some current conventional liberal reductionist discourses on fear and education, as well as the arising interest in writing about the culture of fear construct and reality (from 1990- to date). Based on cross-disciplinary literature surveys, a basic definition of culture of fear is offered that is unique to the otherwise ubiquitous nebulous definitions of others. The article asserts it is now near impossible, and certainly naive, to mention and/or study fear without including the necessary, if not universal, meta-context of the culture of fear. Without such a context, fear will be reduced to a largely ‘value-neutral’ psychological discourse and phenomena instead of a cultural and political one. He offers several suggestions for resistance amongst the educational community to adopt the culture of fear in critical pedagogy and Education in general. Concluding remarks offer recommendations to resist that resistance and pursue proactive means to improve our critical understanding of the nature and role of fear, and the culture of fear in Education and civilization-at-large.

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