education (22)

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I'm delighted to share the first advertisement for the book my partner and I just completed. It is our second book together on the use of spontaneous creation-making process (we label a "fear vaccine"), in which our first book on our experiences of using this method and the guide for how to do it came out in "Opening Doors: A Guide to Spontaneous Creation-Making" (pubished by In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute). Many years later, in this new book we reflect on the process in greater detail, and offer readers a look at how we applied this method to the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown around most of the world, and for a year we invited a group of people to share this experience creating online and building a community of care. Hope you can take a look at this work, as it also provides a guide of how to use it in any communal setting.  -rmf

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Meditation: Be Fearful and Fearless

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A Talk By R. M. Fisher, @ Meditative Inquiry Conference, Aug. 18, 2022 

The link here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2H8yByGFYw&list=PLfVjDB_dQhEomgiYYmBJKj1nvD1oGBwaf&index=14

gives access to a Talk I did on the Fearlessness Worldview and its critique of Meditative Inquiry as is being promoted by several people, especially in E. Canada and the field of Education. This is part of a movement of spiritual education and its branches of holistic education, transpersonal education, contemplative education, mindfulness education, peace education, love education, etc. I critique the bias of perspective of all these movements that like to focus and collectivize their "corrective" for the world around virtues signalling and aims of hope. The Fearlessness Worldview, a liberation praxis itself and education process, takes another route, one that is arguably less fear-based, more integral-holistic and wiser than the fault of running after the next fix of 'escape' from fear and suffering and a world so enmeshed in the making of its own crises--at every level and especially at the level of the institutions that fall within the Dominant Worldview and its self-deception and corruption. 

After a brief meditation I offer at the beginning (photo above), I am 2nd to speak on the panel and I start with critical commentary about the problems I see in the book "Meditative Inquiry" based on the conference leader's work. IF you only want to see my teachings go to 25:38 on the video for a 20 min. rather improvisational lecture. And go to 1:10:45 for picking up on comments (Q and A) at the end of the panel session, in which you will hear one philosophy professor from India makes comments on my talk and concludes fervently "we need to be fearful and fearless" --then, I come on and comment on his comment and take the discussion further based on a question someone asked in the panel "define fearlessness." Of course, of which I didn't in a nice clean linear way! I give some reasons for why that is so, and the problem of my topic and this question in the context of having one or two minutes at most to engage it. I really find these rushed-time conference presentations as a format a horrid way to actually do serious scholarly work or dialogue. Oh, well... take this for what it's worth.... 

 

Of course, in only a 20 min. talk on a panel, it is near impossible to set up my arguments for a Fearlessness Worldview and 

 

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Social Media and the Swamp of Anxiety

Dr. Cal Newport's TED-X talk "Quit Social Media" is a must see video (13 min.), where he makes 3 arguments of why to stay off social media--and, he emphasizes in the 3rd one of those arguments that the worst is the rise in "anxiety disorders" (diagnosed or not diagnosed) that come with such use of this technology--a technology that is not essential to "deep work" and value and success in the society. 

go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E7hkPZ-HTk

As a fearologist and educator, I am equally concerned with the breeding of fear in a culture of fear embedded in social media platforms AS IF they are the only way to be involved in the world. I have never joined such social media platforms like FB, TWITTER, Instagram, etc. Only a modest participation in the FM ning community and posting on my Youtube channel is what I see as actually useful. I particularly know many of the truths that Dr. Cal Newport shares, as I have always believed children from the get go need to develop skills of "deep work" (concentration capacities and existential resilence)--boh of these skills are fast being eroded by social media and it hits the children earlier and earlier. My educational philosophy is one of getting children and youth unhooked from this 'sick' technology that is more harmful than not. Watch the video and make up your own mind. Spread the word... 

 

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[The following article is reprinted with permission from X. Yuan.] 

Fearless Conversations in Curriculum as a Wayfinding Amid Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Xuechen Yuan
Lakehead University

JCACS Musings, Apr. 19/22

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgzGpGwhzxzJsLzfBCcldNQRhjpdD

I fear many things amid the crisis in Ukraine when the immediate future is so unknown. Being immersed in mainstream news media makes me even more fearful. As a graduate student in Education, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the uncertainties of global consequences makes me very pessimistic about curriculum reform these days. At a time when collective trauma and fear coexist within the bodies of the world’s citizens, stories symbolizing backwardness are constantly told, and voices of hope for global justice are silenced. With the current nuclear terror in Europe, information warfare, the deteriorated NATO-Russian relationships, and the Taiwan Strait Crisis, news media induces a global mass hysteria of World War III. While people around the world stand in solidarity with Ukraine and others who are affected by Putin’s tyranny, I fear that humanity is headed for a more nuclearized, militarized, competitive, and backward situation. While looking at history, I realize that many of the decisions that led the world to being in an arms-race situation could have been avoided long ago. Decades of mistrust between the U.S. and Russia destroyed any hope for turning Russia into an ally and for democratic reform in Russia. Russian civilians’ distrust of the hypocrisy of democracy and freedom of speech has been reinforced since it does nothing to prevent millions of children from being malnourished, starving and dying.

To be fair, I’m writing this post out of fear. As someone born in an authoritarian state like China, I have always been discouraged to raise adverse opinions of sensitive issues on any platform. Especially in the face of the invasion, Chinese leaders have been siding with the aggressor, and have mass media intensifying toxic nationalism against the West. After an in-depth discussion with renowned fear scholar R. Michael Fisher, I realize that we could explore opportunities in fear. In Chinese, we often say Weiji (危机) — opportunity in crisis. I like how this transforms the relationship to fear rather than assuming a reductive and functional view that defines fear and supposes that it’s the best way to make sense of things (Fisher, 2010). We must understand fear, not run from it. The mainstream news media coverage of the current crisis in Europe has left us with a victim-type of fear, building curriculum that does not endow or inspire any practices of fearlessness. The American imperialism of news outlets has been inducing mass hysteria of nuclearization and Russophobia across the globe. It is not the future that haunts us but the fear of the future. But isn’t that what we fear every day? We fear what we are not prepared for (that we lack agency and readiness), but isn’t that the point of curriculum, to prepare us to face those fearful uncertainties during our apprenticeships, rather than spoon-feeding our ways out of fear?

Economic and political competition might seem like a ‘game of thrones’ for many conventional wisdom holders, and to many who view history as an objective truth. But I think of curriculum as being ‘agentic,’ a way-finding that can shift the narratives we tell of the past. A lot of us might be let down by the injustice in the world today, but we need to continue to find our ways amid fear, acknowledge and feel the fear inside of us, and then become courageous to face the fear. During this invasion, countless netizens, activists, and civilians around the world rose against Putin’s brutal actions. The borders between nations are no longer defined geopolitically, but agentically by conversations. In an internationalized and democratic world, conversations enable us to readjust and destabilize the conventional, now ever-changing borders (Pinar, 2004). The next step of curriculum for us is to define borders ideologically with depth imagery. An authentic conversation requires “going beyond the surface to take into account ‘unspoken’ and ‘taken-for-granted’ assumptions, including ‘ideology’ […and] must be guided by an interest in understanding more fully what is not said by going beyond what is said’’ (Aoki, as cited in Pinar, 2004, p. 159). So far, our democratic discourse/conversations have been based on denouncing Putin’s behaviour, which can be done intuitively and without much effort to engage in deeper conversations. Many who are sceptical of the ideal of democracy perceive it from the frame of reference of cognitive imperialism — ‘fast-food-like’ pedagogy embedded in empty words that lead people into a fallacy that they are endowed with greater freedom than institutions actually allow. Cognitive imperialism largely obscures the construction of conjunctive ‘inter-space’ in conversations while diverting public attention to shallowness of conversations — freedom of expression and individual liberty. What is beyond the unsaid, however, requires a curriculum of critical literacy in which people work together to co-create reciprocal and complex conversations. Our curriculum needs to create democratic agents, not agents in a democratic political structure. Conversation represents a relationship between spaces (not just ‘spaces’), where people engage in mutuality rather than dichotomous struggles of viewpoints. Therefore, when world crises happen, we do not just condemn the aggressor with empty words but act ahead to prevent it. This is how our curriculum can truly be agentic rather than being reactive (to fear).

From the emergence of COVID-19 to the humanitarian crisis in eastern Europe, it has become more necessary than ever for curriculum changes to address how the trauma of war, the separation, and the isolation of life, have lived in and affected our bodies, so we can hold each other’s hands and find our way out of the hardships collectively, rather than kill each other. Ironically, we can learn a lot from coronaviruses; even viruses know how to converse with each other and change according to different situations to achieve their survival goals (Chambers, 2022). I don’t know what the curriculum will look like in the future, but I do know that our curriculum should inspire people to share difficult knowledge, memories, stories, and to explore and confront their fears, not run from them. The purpose of this post is to find ways to encourage people to lift the veil of these unspoken fears, to engage in deep (as opposed to dichotomous) conversations with each other, and to prevent hatred, phobia, and mistrust toward others. To end this post with an excerpt from an interview done with University of Lethbridge professor Cynthia Chambers (2022), “The truth about maps is they’re only useful when you’ve already been somewhere, they’re not really helpful when you’ve never been anywhere [… We have to] find our way collectively and to learn together [under difficult circumstances], rather than looking to authorities for the final answer or being angry that nobody knows” (26:44).

Rise up, Ukraine. We stand with you!

References

Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world’s fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education for the 21st Century. University Press of America.

JCACS Curriculum Without Borders. (2022, February 23). JCACS interviews Cynthia Chambers: Curriculum as wayfinding. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNAxSJbdBPo

Pinar, W. F. (2004). What is curriculum theory? Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

 

 

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This excerpt (first draft only) is a small piece to give you a sense of what I am 'onto' these days, especially in writing this tenth book (to be published later this year by Information Age Publishing, in their Philosophy of Education Series, Ed. Dr. John Petrovic) [1]. I have been working months and months, and it has been quite a ploughing the soil. Hard going at times. This Chapter Five took weeks to complete, as I just did this morning. Wow! It is by far the largest chapter in the book (coming in at a heavty 25,000 words itself, without the references). Yikes.

A number of fresh insights came from the writing that I could put into it, so that was good. It is never a boring writing because I risk all the time, on the edge of not knowing what I am doing and not creating chapter outlines. I just start writing. 

As always, I trust this bit of expository on fear will intrigue you to critique, to commnent, here on the FM ning. And/or you can always email me directly: 

r.michaelfisher52@gmail.com

Notes

1. Excerpt from Fisher, R. M. (in progress). The Fear Problematique: Role of Philosophy of Education in Speaking Truths to Power in a Culture of Fear. 

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This is the inside back cover of the Bio. for Samuel Nathan Gillian (1939-2015). I had a friendly (email relationship) with Sam since May 2004 until March 2005. And recently with one of his nieces (thankfully) contacting me--now I am in conversation with his wife Bernice, and there is a new project on my plate to write an intellectual biography on SNG. Just wanted to let you all know that. He has written two amazing books on fear (and education) [1], and I know of no one who has done that, and especially with him being an African-American black man, again, I know of no black person who has written two major books on fear; this combination puts his work out as an important historical record in Fear Studies. Intellectually, he developed some close links at one point with the Ernest Becker Foundation and he absorbed the writings of Ernest Becker. Sam was likely an existential thinker. Bernice says, with a great "zest for life." He also puts his own spin on fear and how best to relate to it, based on his life's experience and being one who loved children and teaching. In 2020 I wrote a technical paper on my initial connections with Sam and why he and I had our overlapping same interests and our differences about fear and fearlessness [2]. 

IF ANYONE has further information, of any kind, about SNG, please contact me: r.michaelfisher52@gmail.com

FYI: I just posted May 10/22 on "Cornel West" (see FM ning)-- as it is truly West's liberal-radical philosophy that in many ways (not all) is very much akin to Gillian's philosophy.

Notes: 

1. Gillian, S. N. (2002). The Beauty of Fear: How to Positively Enjoy Being Afraid. Phemore Press, Inc.; Gillian, S. N. (2005). Terrified by Education: Teaching Children to Fear Learning. Phemore Press, Inc. 

2. Fisher, R. M. (2020). Samuel N. Gillian's Beckerian Educational Philosophy of Fear/Terror. Technical Paper No. 102. In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. 

 

 

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John Dewey on Fear and Binaries

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The eminent early 20th century
American philosopher John Dewey... 

In this above quote, he is on his grand project (to restore "experience" to philosophy)--to debunk all binaries, so it seems. E.g., Life vs. Education, is a good place to start that deconstruction.

Then he goes on, in a passage analogously, where he critiques those that derogate the "lower" aspects of reality (so-called) vs. the "higher" aspects of reality (so-called) that have become so common by the 20 th century in philosophy, and education philosophy and psychology. He wrote of these sensory aspects: 

"Since sense-organs with their connected apparatus are the means of participation [with reality, with Life, with living organisms], any and every derogation of them, whether practical or theoretical, is at once effect and cause of a narrowed and dulled life-experience. Oppositions [i.e., binaries] of mind and body, soul and matter, spirit and flesh all have their origin, fundamentally, in fear of what life may--bring forth. They are marks of contraction and withdrawal [i.e., fear-based]." (Dewey, 1934, pp. 22-3). 

This is not the only passage I have been reading from Dewey, in my recent study of his writing, where I am reading into and between the lines, and sometimes reading explicit calling out of fear in our knowledge and knowing systems--like it is a massive weight on us and life-forces, it is like he is speaking a language of fearlessness. I'll be writing a chapter on his philosophy (fearlessness) and education for my new book The Fear Problematique (2022)... more  to come. 

[NOTE: for another of my FM blogs on Dewey and fear and fearlessness go to: https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/holy-rant-john-s-dewey-s-fearlessness-project]

 

Reference

Dewey, J. (1934/2005). Art as Experience. Penguin Group.

 

 

 

 

 

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Four Arrows (Wahinkpe Topa) aka Dr. Don T. Jacobs (a longtime member of FM ning and cultural warrior), gives a really useful interview (video) on his work, which I see as part of fearlessness path and its connection to re-visionist (corrective) Education today and the survival of this planet's ecosystems. He says, "I want to be human"... and he defines that in a very unique way in regard to the relationship with "hope" for change of this world and its hegemonic Dominant worldview--as he offers a 'reading' of a universal Indigenous worldview (sometimes called Kinship worldview)-- as a solution to our current crises on mass scales. The Indigenous worldview is based not on a fear-based cosmology and value-system--and, that's really important to note. He talks about decolonization and Indigenization as processes of re-socialization and re-education on a mass scale and how 'turning' things around from the current status quo is near impossible but that doesn't mean we ought not do what we can to "be human" in the midst of this tragedy and rather 'hope-less' situation in terms of actual outcomes of our work to liberate ourselves and come to our Natural-based (place-based) intelligence--or what he has called "primal awareness." He also says so interesting things on hypnosis and de-hypnosis in this regard of bringing change and transformation about. 

Note: at the 1:04:00 mark in the interview. Four Arrows is talking about the "mysteriousing" of existence, rather than a noun for "god"--the former being the Indigenous way. He says, it is this in touchness with the mysteriousing that is "getting in touch with that fearlessness around death" and he concludes: "I have never met a traditional Indigenous person who has a fear of death...[or] fear of life." 

For a concise write up on Four Arrows' Indigenous-based worldview on fear and fearlessness, go to:

https://coachesevolve.com/moving-from-fear-to-fearlessness-by-four-arrows/

 

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Mass Psychosis & Menticide: Fear as Primer

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This latest video out on the "mass psychosis" of an entire population, what is also being called here "menticide" has an opening quite appropriate to concerns of the FM ning community and myself as a fearologist. The video image above has the narration of:  "Priming a population for the crime of menticide, begins with the sowing of fear."  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lctpOxSR-FE

See my own video talks (4 videos) on "mass psychosis" as well, beginning with https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBl735zqTco

 Note: this video is published by Academy of Ideas: Free Minds for a Free Society

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Fear is Social, in a New Key: Video by RMF

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Check out my new video on my new book "sketch" and possibilities and how I am influenced in thinking about educational philosophy in a new key--from many new perspectives (transdsciplinary) etc. See my teaching video just put up now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6H6rpQlZ60

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The "DIRECTION" to head in... is all important, if we want to liberate ourselves and truly re-build a healthy, sane and sustainable world (and Education System)... 

When you get to be my age (69), and having thought critically about "Education" as a field and as a "project" overall on this planet (for nearly 50 yrs), and in terms of how to analyze it and improve it, this is what happens at 6 am in the morning when I awoke and had the idea kernel "I DON'T WANT TO..." on my mind as the center piece of this map and then I began to sort territories ("Positive Description") on the Left and sort of a 'middle-ground' then "Negative Description") on the Right. As an educator, designer of curriculum and pedagogy, I tend to near completely side to the Negative philosophical orientation in terms of how to best approach "Education" and deconstruct it and then reconstruct it (moving more to the Positive philosophy eventually.

The direction of going to the Left and then the Right is precisely what I call an "Integral Turn" --and, in no way is that direction of flow only about "politics" (and parties, etc.). I am rather quite non-partisan in that sense, but what really comes through in the mapping is that I am "existentialist" in orientation and "conflict theorist" in orientation primarily, but I also don't see that one-side is all right (Good) and one side is all wrong (Bad)--mostly, I'm concerned as a critic that the left-side of the "Positive" (Virtues) side is a huge cover-up these days for some of the worst 'evil' going on--and, of course, those who are on that "Positive" side want to make us all thing they are virtuous, good, correct, and the only way to go. They tend to loathe the analysis and offerings of the 'other' side (the right-side). 

So, if you look within the map you'll also see LOVE, FEAR, and FEARLESSNESS ... as my own special area of interest in how that trialectic operates [1], although, that's a much more complex 'story' than this 'map' (theory) above can show in nuance. Oh, and the abbreviations that came out in orange circles, they are at the crux of my counter-education theorizing and curricular (r)evolutionizing:  CME - conflict management/education (my invention), TMT - terror management theory (not my own invention), and FME -fear management/education (my invention). Other abbrev. worth noting: COC - culture of conflict and COF - culture of fear. The red ink "Contemplation" is there because of my reading a colleague, an educator, on "meditative inquiry" in research/education and the foregrounding there of contemplation in education--or spirituality in education. And, this spurred me on to think about my view of that initiative and so I woke up in the morning due to this prompting to situate "contemplation" and problematized it as well.  

I am in color highlighter very intrigued with "Fear of Loss" (aka "Death") at the center along with my original idea-kernel of "I DON'T WANT TO..." and I am pretty certain now that strategically this is the focal pivotal point for any real educational transformation that will be emancipatory. If we educators miss this...well, the consequences of our current direction of global crisis/collapse will continue unabated. I have no doubt we are already in the Anthropocene era of collapse of all systems, and much destruction will be inevitable (aka death will be inevitable)--and it will continue for many years if not decades. The world will never be the same. However, in that collapse we have all the real potential of making these shifts that I have indicated in the mapping. I believe the whole process going on is best looked at as "sacred correction" (call it self-system regulation or healing, or whatever)--we can get through this as a collective of living organisms and putting all our intelligences together integrally--but IF humanism tries again to rule, using technologism and scientific arrogance alone--we'll likely do ourselves in and sufficiently destroy the carrying capacity for most Life on this planet for millenium. 

Just some bright and not so bright words from the unconscious to the conscious of the morning air and light... let's breath, create and grow in 'a good way' (a fearlessness way). 

Note

1. Fisher, R. M. (2017). Radical love—is it radical enough? International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, 8(1), 261-81.

 

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I have for decades attempted to educate the general public about fear. The other side of my work is to educate their leaders. Specficially I want to share an example of how to educate politicians. 

Politics and Political Sphere

First, let me state that I have my issues with the whole political system of institutionalized "politics"--that is one thing. Yet, I have made a distinction that "politics" as institutionalized is only 1/2 of what democratic practice is about. The other 1/2 where I hang out the most is what I call the "political sphere." The latter is what we all are involved in as citizens and no politics or politician who earns their livelihood from politics ought to ever dominate the political sphere. Nowadays, the later is often talked about, in part, as "cultural politics." But that's another topic. 

How To Educate a Politician

I am not one to try to constantly put down people who become politicians. I could equally say, I am not one to put down people who become physicians, ministers, or school teachers, police officers, etc. They are people pursuing a career. I respect them as people first and foremost, even if I disagree vehemently with their practices and the system they belong to. I once, long ago, was a professional school teacher. I know that for many good teachers they will eventually become corrupted by the System of the State and Education as an institutions. Not all of the best professionals will leave the System. I did after two years. 

This blog is not about that decision to stay in or leave the institutions, that has ethical implications of course. I would ask anyone who is a politician to do the best you can and be as ethical as possible in an imperfect system they work in. And, by imperfect, unfortunately, there is an edge which is crossed often in which the System is actually oppressive. Now, if the System will admit it is oppressive, then I have sympathy. If it is in denial, then I have little sympathy for its justifications and rationale and its continuance to practice oppression of one kind or another. That's when I will go after such institutions as an activist-educator. 

I have learned how slow and hard it is to change a System that remains in denial. Sometimes one can have small positive inputs that someone inside the System listens to, but mostly they are defensive to hearing anything about their oppressive aspects as a System. 'They are bought and sold' into keeping the operation going, no matter what. That's a crude way of putting it. I also have seen and know that still 'good people' are inside those systems, even if sometimes in small numbers. Some do see the corruption and want to change it from the inside. I respect that. 

So, to be short here, I'll share a recent experience of a simple way to make the fearlessness voice heard and how to challenge the System, and its leaders (e.g., politicians) to not fall prey to fear-based ways of perceiving, thinking, strategizing and doing their job. I know that's a high calling. There's no other option however, from the Fearlessness Paradigm perspective (which is arguably the only sane way to proceed). I listened with my partner to a live government debate in Alberta on coal-strip mining where the leader of the opposition party (Rachel Notley) made a first case for a private members bill to a committee. If the bill would pass that committee it could go to the larger legislature and have a hearing and vote there. The bill would stop all current exploration and new lease developments that have to do with coal strip mining in the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains in our province. I'm all for that. However, in the debates I noticed something and decided to write it up as a Letter to the Editor in the local newspaper and also sent to Rachel Notley office. Here's what I wrote for public media, as that's one way to get a much larger audience (if the newspaper publishes it of course): 

ALBERTA EAST SLOPES TALK: POLITICIANS CARBONOPHOBIC

Congratulations to all who made private member bill (petitioned by Rachel Notley) of April 13 get through the first committee so that it can go to a full hearing and vote in the legislature. After watching the live performance of the debate on how best to protect the Alberta East Slopes from coal mining especially, I couldn't help but be saddened hearing the politicians reasons to slow and/or stop new coal mining permits. Even Notley and the NDP members who spoke to this bill were afraid to toalk about rationale in terms of transitioning out of a non-renewable economy, Global Warming, responsibility to worldwide Carbon Budgets and fulfilling a commitment to future sanity for our children's sake. No, what we heard was carbonophobic small-talk rational all about Albertans. I love the East Slopes too, but we have to face our fears folks; or we'll be tweaking our society and economic policies while the floor of the building crumbles. Global Warming is real. Notley should know better.   -R. Michael Fisher, Calgary

[note: Apr. 15th this was published, albeit gutted and words changed in places without my permission: go to: https://calgaryherald.com/opinion/letters/your-letters-for-april-15-2]

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So, in a very short missive like this, our job as fearworkers of the Fearlessness Movement is (at least) to carefully observe and point out (without shaming people and damning their character and careers) when fear is ruling in their work and practices and thinking. I found a way to do that in this instance. It is not that I think my example above is flawless either. I was writing specifically for a newspaper. I know Editors of said newspapers typically don't take articles unless they have some emotional juices and so I wrote more emotionally than I typically prefer to. It's a compromise to some extent. 

I encourage you all on the FM ning to point out fear-based ways wherever you see them and let's help educate and support our leaders (especially politicians) to change and re-think about how they engage and (mis-)use fear in their jobs. 

 

 

 

 

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Ernest Becker, cultural anthropologist, 1924-74. Won a Pulitzer Prize at the end of his life for his book The Denial of Death. 

I have recently been studying his work and writing about his important thinking for today, especially his contribution to Fear Studies, and specifically to terror management as an extreme existentialist form of fear management. 

The following Tech. Paper No. 99 I devoted to analyzing a bit of what Ernest Becker's work has to do with Education as a field and as a reality of socialization, and then summarized the ways various educators (not that there are many) have engaged Becker's work and what potential biases there are in their ways of interpreting his work. I then propose some alternatives and encourage a good deal more study of Becker for learning and teaching, curriculum development and for handling the kind of terrifying world that is here and coming as cascading global crises are inevitable. His work has much to offer us. 

See Tech. Paper No. 99:  "Ernest Becker's Educational Legacy: A Critical Reflection". https://prism.ucalgary.ca/handle/1880/112381

See also Tech. Paper No. 108: "A Review of "Immortality Project" Concept: Mis-interpretation by Terror Management Theory" https://prism.ucalgary.ca/handle/1880/112499?show=full 

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I'd like you to meet Debbie L. Kasman, an integral educator in Canada, someone I have just done a long dialogue with on fear in education. She is also taking on the writing of a book (with me) on my work making it more accessible to the populus, to school teachers, parents, etc. Check out the dialogue FearTalk 6

This is 6th in the series FearTalks originated by fearologist Dr. R. M. Fisher. He invites Kasman to discuss fear and education, especially in the light of recent terrorism, mass murders and schooling communities reacting to it, including now the marketing of bullet-proof kid's backpacks. They discuss how fear is the opportunity (door) to fearlessness on the way to Love. A good video for school superintendents, policy makers, teachers, principals, parents etc. We talk about philosopher-theorist Ken Wilber in this video and the AQAL and Integral perspective, so for more on this see my video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPl3-... Debbie's Bio & Website (for more info.): http://debbielkasman.com/ Debbie L. Kasman, a Canadian educator interested in transformative, holistic and integral education, is the author of: “LOTUS OF THE HEART: RESHAPING THE HUMAN AND COLLECTIVE SOUL”--a former principal, acting interim superintendent, and student achievement officer at the Ministry of Education in Ontario with a career spanning over 28 years in Ontario. Debbie recently trained with Ken Wilber – a scholar of the Integral stage of human development. Wilber also taught and influenced Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Bill Clinton, and John Mackey. Debbie has lots to say about the need to transform education. She also writes about female leadership, equity and spirituality. The New-York Times Bestselling author, Daniel H. Pink, placed Debbie’s blog on his Reader Recommended List in December 2016. Four Arrows (aka Dr. Don T. Jacobs), Indigenous educator, is also referred to in this talk: See Fisher's book "Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows: The true story of an Indigenous-based Social Transformer" (Peter Lang, 2018).

See FearTalk 7 as well...

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ALSO, as an aside and complementary article on culture of fear and the role it plays in Education (especially, regarding higher education and the loss of intellectual inquiry) see Frank Furedi's article "he Campus Culture of Fear" --here's an excerpt from the article on the Internet: 

A climate of fear is inhospitable to the cultivation of academic relationships and the pursuit of intellectual inquiry. Take the growing stigma attached to the term “controversial speaker.” Once, controversy was seen as essential to the workings of an academic community; nowadays, many university administrators fear controversy to the point that they have designed policies to marginalize or ban provocative speakers altogether, as the title of a Xavier University publication—Controversial Speakers and Events: Strategies for Risk Management—demonstrates.

Arguably, the most regrettable feature of the campus culture of fear is the toll that it takes on human relations. People censor themselves vigilantly. Like other academics, I have been warned that it’s unsafe to shut my office door when I talk to a student. And as relations between academics and students become less spontaneous and more formal, the ancient role of mentor or interlocutor gives way to that of service provider or bureaucrat. The psychic distancing of members of the academic community from one another is the unacceptable price we pay for our obsession with campus “safety.”

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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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