EDUCATIONAL POLICY: A REFLECTION OF THE CULTURAL 'REALITY'
theme: Educational policies are formulated in the context of a prevailing cultural worldview or 'paradigm' which is inherent in the prevailing cultural belief systems and values.
Cultural belief systems are created within the framework of the basic assumptions underlying the cultural view of the world - the cultural 'reality' as it is perceived by individuals living at the time.
INDIVIDUAL IN CULTURAL CONTEXT Within the framework of the technology, the resources and the 'education' which is accessible to them, individuals of a given culture perceive their experience of the world from their own point of view. They perceive the world from the point of view of the cultural belief systems and they identify with the belief systems of their culture. Individuals who are educated within the context of given cultural belief systems internalize the cultural values which are derived from those same cultural beliefs. The 'enculturated' individual subconsciously perceives reality in the context of the cultural values and the cultural worldview.
Cultural beliefs are derived from scientific 'beliefs' and the cultural belief systems are derived from the culture's prevailing 'scientific' perception of reality...scientific paradigm. The cultural perception of 'reality' is a reflection of the prevailing scientific view of the world. The scientific 'paradigm' is the view of reality and the perception of the world as observed and perceived by the individuals in the context of their own culture and its accessible sources of knowledge. The cultural worldview results from logical conclusions about the nature of reality. The conclusions are based on the individual's 'scientific' activity in the cultural context.
AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGY The available technology is used to make observations about the environment. The available knowledge is used to make inquiries about the environment. Making inquiries and observations constitutes the 'scientific activity' of common sense inquiry and formulation of conclusions about the reality of the environment for effective adaptation... 'science'
The individual uses the 'scientific method' of inquiry and reality testing in the context of the culture worldview. 'Logical' conclusions are drawn on the basis of inquiries and observations made from the perspective of the cultural belief systems. These 'scientifically' drawn conclusions form the basis for the derivation of the significant metaphysical assumptions about 'reality' as they are perceived by those enculturated individuals. The resulting cultural perceptions of reality form the basis of the culture's belief systems and the cultural 'myths'.
CULTURAL MYTH The cultural myths in turn form the basis of the cultural perceptions of 'reality'. The cultural perceptions of reality constitutes the framework for the formulation of the belief systems and cultural values. The cultural value system constitutes the framework for the formulation of the culture's educational policies. Educational 'institutions' formulate policies which are consistent with the cultural value system. The educational policies are formed within the conceptual framework of the scientific paradigm, by way of the cultural belief systems and cultural values .
AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL POLICY AND REDUCTIONIST SCIENCE The basis for educational policy in the American educational system is the paradigm of reductionist scence or 'reductionism' .basic assumptions. Consistent with reductionist science, 'scientific' observation and inquiry excludes the observer's subjective participation. The scientific perception of 'reality' has been conceived in the context of the objective detachment of the observer. Consistent with the belief in the necessary detachment of the observer, the individual's 'inner reality' has been invalidated as a source of knowledge.
According to the dictates of reductionist science, the 'scientist' .. observer be detached in the process of observation and inquiry... scientific 'objectivity' necessitates that... In the cultural context of the reductionist worldview, the individual is expected to be detached from the learning experiences of life. Educational 'policies' have been formulated on the basis of the assumption that the individual learner be detached from the learning process.
PRICE OF INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM IS ALIENATION Belief in the necessity of 'objectivity' in scientific inquiry and observation has given rise to the concept of individuality and individual freedom. Significant to the individual in a cultural context, the price of individual freedom has been the individual's alienation from the 'outer world' and a loss of the individual's natural perspective of wholeness i.e. 'holistic perspective'. In a cultural context, the 'scientific' demand for objectivity has given rise to the individual's sense of alienation from the environment and from the universe.
LEARNER OBJECTIVITY IN THE LEARNING PROCESS Formulated on the basis of values inherent in the cultural belief systems, educational 'policies' have demanded the learner's objectivity in the learning process. Discrediting the learner's 'inner life', the emphasis has been placed on the 'objective' manifestations of the learner's 'learning' - test scores, grades, diplomas, credentials etc. So-called 'performance' in education is the legacy of the 'traditional' curriculum for schooling conceived for the purposes of training individuals for the factory.
TRADITIONAL EDUCATION AS PREPARATION FOR FACTORY WORK OR 'SCHOOLING' Mass education was a result of the industrial revolution. Large groups of individuals were perceived as the 'masses' and trained for work in the factories. Educational curricula and teaching methodologies were designed for mass education. Knowledge areas and skill areas were fragmented and distributed into separate 'subjects' and separate 'skills' to make up a 'curriculum' of academic 'requirements.' With the fragmented and assembly line approach to education, the 'traditional' methods of teaching emphasized learning by rote memorization of isolated facts. Students were expected to be punctual, to follow orders and to perform meaningless tasks without questioning. Since their inception, schools have become institutions of compulsory 'education'.
VALUES OF AMERICAN NATIONALISM Continuing in the tradition of forced learning... 'rote learning'... the fragmented and assembly line approach to education is used to foster ILLUSIONS of 'democracy', 'equal opportunity' and the 'pursuit of happiness'. The educational system continues to promote the values which are derived from the belief systems of American culture. American culture is based on American 'nationalisn' which is formulated in terms of the abstract ideals upon which the Americans founded their 'nation'... American Constitution. American nationalism combines the ideals of democracy with belief systems derived from Protestantism, reductionist science and capitalism. In the context of the political ideals of American culture, American education is perceived in terms of the individual's responsibility for adaptation to American nationalism and its culture. Questions of the aims of education are in the context of American political ideals and the American form of government.
MISTRUST OF HUMAN NATURE The Fall-Redemption myth of orthodox Christianity accounts for the mistrust of human nature and the moralistic attitude towards human problems. According to the myth, the individual is born into the world tainted with sin and is naturally 'evil'. The force of evil must be restrained in its competition with the force of 'good'. An individual who is unable to restrain the 'evil' part of his nature must be 'punished.' Each individual is 'responsible' for restraining and controlling the evil impulses of other people as well as their own.
The individual's suffering in this life is perceived as a natural consequence of the 'original sin'. In this way, the individual's suffering in this life is explained away as a natural consequence of the evil which is inherent in human nature. With a profound mistrust of human nature, the individual cannot trust his own human nature. He cannot trust his own 'humanity' or the humanity of others.
NATURAL SENSE OF MORAL RESPONSIBILITY IS NOT TRUSTED In the context of American culture, the individual is unable to depend on his own natural sense of moral responsibility. For moral principles and guidance, the individual is expected to depend on the authority of strict codes of civil law and ethics.
MECHANISTIC PERCEPTION OF HUMAN NATURE For the understanding of human nature, reductionist science has provided the mechanistic explanations of the human 'sciences' such as behavioral psychology or 'behaviourism' - emphasis objective study of the science of the mind - on conditioned learning or 'conditioning'- on 'learning outcomes' - on students' performance in testing-and sociology. - psychological and sociological.
JJUSTIFICATION OF CAPITALISM The myth of orthodox Protestantism - control the innate 'evil' impulses of human nature - combined with the myth of the human 'sciences' - the control of human nature is scientifically valid - these have been combined with the traditional ideals of 'democracy'- equal opportunity and political freedom. All these together formed the basis for justifying the economic theories of capitalism. In the interest of promoting the economic theories of capitalism, emphasis has been placed on the necessity of controlling human nature, the knowledge of the 'scientific' possibilities for controlling human nature and the importance of...
PERCEPTION OF THE INDIVIDUAL IN PARADIGM OF AMERICAN CAPITALISM According to the worldview of capitalism, the human being is lazy and needs to be disciplined to do work. Individuals must be encouraged to compete with one another in order to weed out those who are lazy and undisciplined. In order to incite further competition, they must be encouraged to be 'individualistic' and 'assertive' in working in their own self-interest. In order to show for their efforts and productivity, they must provide tangible results in the form of material gain, economic 'wealth', and 'professional' status. In order for them to continue with their hard work, they gain respect and recognition for their private material wealth and their professionalism. 'Success' is identified with 'happiness.' In order for them to continue in their striving for material 'happiness', their 'success' is rewarded with economic, social and professional status.
TRADITIONAL EDUCATIONS REPRODUCES THE MYTHS OF AMERICAN CAPITALISM In reproducing the myths of the cultural belief systems, schools have fostered the traditional American values of capitalism, materialism and consumerism, of hierarchy and success, of moralism and control. Referred to as the 'hidden curriculum', the obligatory instruction of the cultural values has been promoted with authoritarian teaching methodologies and 'philosophies. In the cultural context of traditional education the individual is expected to conform to the cultural values. Instead of fostering the individual's self-reliance and hope for his own future, school authorities want the individual to meet their own 'expectations'. Instead of fostering the individual's self-responsibility, they cultivate his sense of dependence on authorities and experts. Instead of fostering the individial's sense of responsibility for his own future, they try to cultivate his unrealistic ambitions for 'professional' status in the consumer culture. Instead of fostering the individual's sense of integrity and health, they cultivate a 'competitive spirit' and life of stress. In their efforts to make the individual conform to the cultural values, they impose thought and behavior patterns which repress the individual's natural desire for learning, for growth and for independence. Instead of trusting the individual's human potential for intellectual and moral development, the school imposes requirements in the form of grades and 'performance' scores. Instead of fostering the individual's critical consciousness, the school cultivates mindlessness.
TRADITIONAL PARADIGM DISCOURAGES CREATIVITY AND CRITICAL THINKING With its demands for meaningless and passive learning, the school discourages creative and critical thinking. Imposing requirements have been imposed on students for their 'adaptation' and enculturation, the use of traditional methods have obscured the real challenges of living. Students have not been prepared for the demands of complex learning in a complex environment. They have not been taught the positive aspects of moral responsibility to themselves. They have not been taught the real challenges involved in realizing their personal hopes and dreams. They have been deprived of the experience of the real joys of learning. With the function of reproducing the cultural values, the educational system has neglected to prepare each individual to lead his own life in a complex world. Instead of preparing the individual for his own future as a self-responsible social being, the institutions of education have prepared the individual as a 'contributing member of society.' Focusing on the individual's preparation for adaptation to the society, the educational system has neglected to foster the individual's innate capacities to adapt to a changing environments.... 'adaptability'.
EVIDENCE OF FAILURE IS INCAPACITATION OF INIVIDUAL INCAPACITATION ... SOCIAL PROBLEMS Incapacitated individuals in a changing society constitute the human evidence of an anomalous social situation. The anomalous human situation has existed for a long time and cannot be ignored any more - it has reached 'crisis' proportions... 'educational crisis' .The current educational 'crisis' is in keeping with the Protestant ethic. Social problems are perceived in terms of the individual's own lack of moral responsibility. They are discussed in terms of possible solutions and 'scenarios'. Attempts are made to resolve them through the implementation of discipline and enforcement of the 'law'. Social problems are not understood in terms of possible deficiencies inherent in the cultural institutions. Social reforms are perceived in terms of the individual's moral responsibility to initiate changes. Social reforms are not perceived in terms of necessary institutional changes.
For the individual in the cultural context of capitalism, the educational system is a reflection of the belief systems underlying the cultural values. In the educational institutions, attempts are made to 'help' the individual to cultivate a sense of moral responsibility. For the individual, environmental change is manifest in the global economic and political changes.
SPIRITUAL STRIVING FOR SELF-ACTUALISATION IS NOT VALIDATED The individual in the context of American culture is required to adapt to the changing demands of a capitalistic society. In keeping with the theories of capitalism and the American educational 'tradition', the individual's instinctive spiritual striving for self-realization or 'self-actualisation' is not validated. The natural development of moral responsibility is discouraged. The life of contemplation and meditation is misunderstood. True spiritual freedom is not trusted. The self-expressive behaviour of the natural human being is not trusted. The intuitive and emotional facets of human nature are restrained.
DECLINE OF ACADEMIC STANDARDS In the past twenty to twenty five years, there has been a decline of academic standards on all levels of the American educational system. The issue of declining standards in higher education tends to be discussed within the narrow context of the practical aspects of education, particularly those concerned with the validity of 'innovations' in curriculum design. The emphasis is on the debate between 'traditional' versus 'nontraditional' or 'innovative' education. In the name of 'innovation', faculty power politics supersede consideration for quality education and student needs. The result is the absurd situation in which unnecessary changes are made at tremendous expense resulting in an enormous waste of faculty time and energy as well as financial resources.
POLICIES ARE NOT ADAPTED TO CHALLENGES OF GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS Formulated on the basis of the reductionist worldview, educational policies which focus on curriculum content and innovative teaching 'methods' are incompatible with the new 'demands' of a changed social and political environment. Institutionalized education with its emphasis on conditioning and behavioral outcomes is no longer relevant in the times of mass communications and the 'global village'. Focusing on the reproduction of the values of a consumer society, the schools have not prepared their students to meet the challenges of a global community. The result is an educational 'crisis' which reflects the general cultural, political and moral crisis. The educational policies which were formulated in the paradigm of reductionist science are no longer compatible with the new global worldview.
NEED FOR REFORM New educational policies need to be formulated on the basis of the new wholistic scientific paradigm... 'holistic science'. Studies in innovative pedagogical techniques have shown the effectiveness of placing the emphasis on issues of pedagogy and philosophy on the students and on the learning process. Truly innovative changes are those which have a liberating effect on both the teaching and the learning aspects of education. They liberate the learner from the oppressive role of the teacher, the curriculum and the institution. Implementation of liberating pedagogies ... 'libratory pedagogy' bring about the humanization of institutionalized education.
A prerequisite is the reexamination of the basic assumptions and values of the cultural belief systems which make up the contextual framework of the educational system. For the individual in the context of cultural oppression, humanization and even survival depend on the humanization of the cultural values. A shift is taking place in the dominant scientific worldview from the reductionist worldview to the wholistic worldview. Reductionist 'science' is being replaced by 'wholistic science'. The change in scientific worldview or 'paradigm' has far-reaching consequences on the cultural belief systems and in turn on the formulation of educational 'policy'. Wholistic science validates the subjective participation of the observer in the scientific process of inquiry. Wholistic science gives rise to new cultural belief systems and values. These are reproduced in the educational policies within the culture. Overall change is manifest in several characteristic trends in education. There is a trend away from fragmentation of knowledge and towards integration of knowledge areas. There is a trend away from the authoritarianism of 'science' and 'experts' and a trend towards the inner authority of the concience. There is a trend away from the value of the need to control and a trend towards the value of the need to trust 'humanity' and the human spirit. There is an overall trend towards the recognition and the cultivation of a wholistic paradigm and a global worldview. There is a trend away from the individual's cultural alienation and a trend towards the individual's cultural integration. In discussion and debate about 'education', there is a trend away from the 'individualistic' perspective and a trend towards the cultivation of the wholistic perspective. There is a trend away from competitiveness in learning and a trend towards cooperation and integration in the learning process. Overall there is a trend towards wholistic education. An innovative education based on a wholistic philosophy is valid because the learner is liberated from the authoritarianism of the teacher, the curriculum and the institution. The learner must be free to develop self-discipline, engage in self-directed learning and achieve self-actualization.
SEARCH FOR A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK FOR EFFECTIVE EDUCATION The history of American education has been characterized by a continual search for a theoretical framework for an effective education practice. A theory-practice or 'praxis' based on the wholistic learning functioning of the brain could represent another alternative in the continuing search for a theoretical framework upon which to base an effective education practice. Evidence for a rational basis for a theory - practice based on brain functioning is provided by the findings of brain research. So-called brain-based learning involves the natural processing functions of the brain.'neuroscience'
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