pedagogy of fearlessness (2)

Transformation of Fear (new tech. paper)

Find attached here the newest technical paper No. 63, "TRANSFORMATION OF FEAR: A Critical Look in Educational Philosophy & Contexts"... hot off the In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute (press)... "Tech%20paper%2063.pdf by yours truly... it takes a close examination at some of the leading-edge work on "transformation of fear" and reviews a lot of literature, and includes my critiques and recommendations for improvements toward a future pedagogy of fearlessness. Note: It specifically focuses on Four Arrows' CAT-FAWN connection theory and Elisebeth VanderWeil's Trickster Fear theory, comparing and contrasting them. -enjoy, RMF

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Anyone who attempts to publish truths that are unspeakable to most of the population, and especially to publish in Education journals, magazines, newsletters, blogs and books that active educators of the mainstream will likely read, knows the frustration of being exiled from discursive communities that are supposed to be professional communities (among others) who care about young learners and the future.

Since 1989 I have been attempting to get published in such places and typically my manuscripts and proposals are exiled from publication and even worse from merely having a dialogue with an educator 'in the system.' There have been a small handful of rare moments where this was not the case and I am grateful, yet, those exceptions ran dry very quickly. It seems educators, in my experience (and, I'll keep this critique aimed at my own Western companions and colleagues), are simply not wanting to talk about fear and its negative impacts--that is, they avoid my distinction as center to my research of labeling the Fear Problem exactly as best I can for all to then do their own research and make up their own damn minds. I could be wrong or exaggerative--then, dialogue with me, let me publish, and we can go from there as any healthy democracy would. Or, am I too idealistic? Well, if I am idealistic in my expectations for educators then I am not alone. Recently, because of my dialogue with Rafiq (aka Robert Lewis) on the FM ning, I went back to search the article out that he and Four Arrows (aka Don Trent Jacobs) wrote and published on "Classroom Silence About September 11: A Failure of Education" [1].

I had read their co-authored article in 2011, long before I had heard of Rafiq. It was a time when Four Arrows had approached me in an email about his frustration of being unable to publish this piece. It so happened that I had just had my ms. for an article on pedagogy of fearlessness [2] accepted by a Pakistani journal sort of in Education (on the literary end). Not only was I amazed my article, really a first likely ever on "pedagogy of fearlessness" that I knew of, and certainly the first to get into an education mainstream peer-reviewed international journal--then, I told Four Arrows to perhaps contact the editor [3] which he proceeded to and was successful. I did not know at the time he co-wrote this with Rafiq. Rafiq (2016), in his book writes of his first encounters with Four Arrows in a remote village in Mexico and when reading his book recently I found his story about this episode of being rejected and then finally finding a publisher:

"Between editing jobs I tried to get back to work on this book. But when I looked at the pages I'd written seven months earlier, I didn't like what I read.... I stuck it back in the drawer. Instead I got talked into writing about the attack of 2001 [i.e., 9/11] Four Arrows wanted me to co-author an article with him about the complicity of educators in [not] spreading the official lie about what happened that day. I didn't want to do it. I didn't want the attack inside my head... [all over again]."

"I had no excuse. So I started outline the simple holes in the story that educators refused to look at. I discussed what it meant to have an education system that wouldn't challenge fascist authority. Like the one in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. We finished the paper at the end of December and Four Arrows sent it off to a critical education journal...". (p. 115)

Rafiq (2016) tells more on this story of the paper's destiny and the kinds of (mostly inane) types of criticism they received from reviewers and editors. Then he (again, not knowing me and my role in Four Arrows' career at this time) wrote, 

"So it went. Our article was rejected four times by journals in Canada and the United States. [hmm... is it any surprise Four Arrows and Rafiq both have left the USA and Canada, respectively, to live in Mexico] We wouldn't find a publisher until the end of 2011. The Journal of Critical Inquiry at the National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad. One of Pakistan's biggest universities with more than ten thousand students. [and, you may take a moment to reflect on the 'problems' that country has with terrorist regimes, and questionable governments, etc.] Its motto? 'We are taught how to think, not what to think.' [gotta luv that, and wish that was the motto of every classroom in North America, at least] [while Rafiq was teaching writing in Montreal at a college night class] It was my student from Pakistan who'd tipped me off about Osama bin Laden's ties to the CIA. It was fitting that a journal out of Pakistan should publish our paper." (p. 116)

I find this web of interconnections to be a-buzz with aliveness and vigor for searching for the truth... as best we can know it. It is a-buzz with the energy of Four Arrows, Rafiq and many others in the 9/11 "truth movement" and that's partly why I am featuring it in my blog here. I feel deeply connected to this whole thing around 9/11, albeit, my trajectory and focus was somewhat different than most of these critics's voices, because at the time of 9/11, 2001, I was living in Vancouver with my two teenage girls and my life-partner and trying to work on my dissertation research which was all about the "culture of fear" and its negative impacts on education, leadership and everything else--which, no one (more or less) wanted to talk about before 9/11. Then came the great North American (world) extreme dramatization of just how the culture of fear dynamic works (i.e., repression-oppression) in a so-called democratic continent, of the so-called highly developed First World. Hmmm... That's another story I'll leave for some other time, in terms of the reactions of people, within and beyond the academy, to my dissertation work and the consequences of me never getting short-listed for the many jobs I applied for in academia in North America after 2003 when I was ready to find paid work and a career.

Now, the the crux of this blogpost. As I said, I recently re-read the article by Four Arrows and Rafiq (2011) and didn't get passed the Abstract before it struck me that, OMG, I could easily hi-jack the exact words and intent behind these guy's opening words and insert my own (which I have done in square brackets below):


“[U]ncritical belief in the official story” [of Fear’s out-of-control domination] “in light of the many substantiated contradictions to it, makes education’s silence about” [The Fear Problem] “one of its greatest failings for future generations. Educators are responsible to help students do independent research and dialogue about the validity of the official account across many academic disciplines [and beyond them too]”

“This silence does not stem from direct attacks on academic freedom but relates more to a perceived need for self-censorship” [as part of an individual-collective and, respective chronic repression-oppression dynamic, otherwise called a propagandist meta-taboo] 

“This paper is perhaps the first published appeal for more [honest and] courageous engagement with this topic in schools, especially in higher education. This purpose reflects a concern for the state-of-the-world and for future generations, and should not be interpreted as being ‘political’ beyond the fact that any study of this topic would naturally include an analysis of governments and their affairs and motives.” (p. 43)

I hi-jacked their text because it is so intimately intertwined with my own text(s) and 'narrative in the wilderness' over the years since 1989. To see it up there and published in the way they did brought up so much of my own struggles I share in common. There's not more I want to say on this. It speaks for itself, NOT IN SILENCE... and, that's the beauty of being able to write and publish on the Internet--even though, it is disappointing and sometimes frustrating how I can only do this it seems with very small marginal groups and websites (like FMning)--yet, that's no reason not to speak out! As Four Arrows and Rafiq (2016) begin their article's Introduction, how appropriately with an artist in history, they quote Leonardo da Vinci: "Nothing strengthens authority as much as silence" --by which, I know they mean, "authority" that propagandizes, entrances and oppresses.

I also noticed my red ink marks on the front page of their article from when I first read it back in 2011. I was starting to do a basic textual fearanalysis of their piece, and I noted that, they only used the term "fear" 2 times, never mentioned the "culture of fear" nor "climate of fear" etc .[4] And no mention of "fearlessness" or "fearless" and, that got me thinking how strange that was when 9/11 is the archetype of archetypes for the human Fear Problem, if I have ever seen it!

End Notes

1. Four Arrows (aka Jacobs, D. T.) (2011). Classroom silence about September 11: A failure of education? NUML: Journal of Critical Inquiry 9(1), 43-58. 

2. Fisher, R. M. (2011). A critique of critical thinking: Towards a critical integral pedagogy of fearlessness. NUML: Journal of Critical Inquiry, 9(1), 59-104.

3. The editor Sohaila Javed (for only a very short time; one issue, I believe) for this journal was one of my doctoral candidate colleagues at The University of British Columbia. We had not been close friends, and even had our conflicts around the role of religion in higher education as I recall one time--but, we always kept in touch, and gratitude to her for doing so. And, she invited me and Barbara (my life-partner) to submit articles for this issue she was putting together in Pakistan, a few years after she had graduated from UBC.

4. Four Arrows wrote to me, during the process of trying to find a publisher: "I sent the article off to another magazine in Pakistan as you suggested and have a U.S. author who has read it who says he will publish. But he would be happy [happier] I'm sure to publish a different [watered-down] version. It might get tricky though with Robert [Lewis, aka Rafiq] since he is traveling and not accessible usualy. If Pakistan does not publish it as is, then I'm sure both Robert and I would be very happy for you to take it and play with it any way you want, adding material about fear, etc. We could always resubmit a new version to anyone. I think you could be a player somehow in the project and I'll keep you posted.... I have a vision for a conference on our spirit of fearlessness, CAT-FAWN stuff somehow. More later." (pers. comm., Oct. 28, 2011)

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