Sunday, September 10, 2017

Digital Educational Delusions - Adding ROOTs and LEAVES to STEM


Bill Gates and Paul Allen dropped out of Harvard and Washington State University to build Microsoft.  Oprah Winfrey left Tennessee State University in her second year to become a media juggernaut.  Michael Dell’s pre-med aspirations were abandoned at 19 to start Dell Computers.  Steve Jobs couldn’t last a year at Reed College before following video games to a pilgrimage in India where he got the inspiration for Apple.  Mark Zuckerberg left Harvard after two years to start Facebook.  Oracle’s Larry Ellison dropped out of University of Illinois and University of Chicago – completing neither – when his CIA project at Ampex led to one of the greatest corporate successes in modern times.  JetBlue Airways founder’s learning disability made the University of Utah inaccessible to David Neeleman and he became a titan in the airlines.  Henry Ford ended his academic career at 16 and built the largest business of his time.  Buckminster Fuller was expelled from Harvard for “irresponsibility and lack of interest.” Walt Disney left school at 16 and developed one of the world’s most iconic media brands.  Richard Branson, Elizabeth Holmes, Adele, Evan Williams… these and hundreds of others who have achieved unprecedented commercial success made impulsive, adolescent decisions which shape all of our lives today. 

Do these social, technological, and industrial icons demonstrate the irrelevance of education?  No. Do they demonstrate a fundamental challenge incumbent models of education?  Absolutely.  The data is irrefutable that secondary and tertiary education offers socialization advantages at a far greater level than it equips young people to thrive in a rapidly changing environment.  Those who graduate – heavily indebted in most of the G-20 through their own investment or the public subsidies upon which they rely – do earn more than those who do not.  However, Australia has lower return on investment than the OECD average and lags the U.S. and the EU[1].  In a study of over 900 tertiary education providers in the U.S., nearly 1/3 of arts and humanities graduates were economically worse off than had they invested the same amount of money in U.S. Treasuries[2].  In short, education is not serving most of its consumers with genuine ROI.  And, employers are increasingly bearing the brunt of this social disservice – and are noticing. 

Education must transform to be relevant.  The student of the 21st century will not be known by professional affiliation or “proper noun” titles.  Rather the paradigm for the 21st century will take inspiration from Buckminster Fuller’s comment:

“I am not a thing – a noun.  I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process – an integral function of the universe.”

What does this mean?  First we must examine the core capabilities of the fully functioning education ecosystem.  As the abject failure of pundits and analysts have shown in the recent U.S. Presidential election, if you measure consensus assumptions, your conclusions are entirely wrong.   Therefore we must examine the context in which we are commencing inquiry and engagement rather than assuming we know that linear assumptions that are required by consensus.  In short, before we can analyse, we must learn to sense and perceive the analyte!

Therefore, we examine the nature of the student of the 21st century.

In a world where industrial production STEM obsession has resulted in Japan’s over 20-year retrocession, we must have explicit programs and experiences which challenge antiquated models of inquiry by expanding digital and analog powers of observation.  From this point, we can begin to understand systems and formulate models to understand and critique them.  This gives rise to explicit, integral value awareness and exchange that informs the design and techno-experiential frameworks in which we operate.  This fully sensory, fully engaged, and values-based engagement builds the foundation for the productive and purposeful global citizen.

From this awareness, we then directly see the emergence of a new paradigm for what would have been considered “disciplines” or “core competencies”.  Now, rather than focusing on reifying existing assumptions, we invite the student and faculty to engage in mutual development integrating the six domains of functional relevance for the enterprises of the 21st century.

These serve as our organizational principles for the pedagogical and experiential delivery of education in the 21st century.  And this does NOT mean that we take the broken system we have and "digitize" or "virtualize" it.  "Digital" learning in the 21st century is as laughable as it would have been to have "electrical" learning in the middle to latter 19th century.  When when mistakes a Utility for a Social Mandate, the consequences are inhumane and destructive.  STEM failed to produce critical thinkers and collaborators - it produced iPhone consensus zombies doing automatable tasks.  And it ignored the ROOT (Regenerative Organismal Orthogonal Training) and the LEAF (Life Experience Application Facility).  When we make the mistake of imagining only that world that industrial consumption dictates, we put our very existence in jeopardy.  

Our times call for high degrees of adaptation.  Our modes of education and socialization reward consensus.  It's time to prune the stem and let a new shoot emerge.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Nuclear Twilight's Last Gleaming


Seventy two years ago today, aboard the USS Missouri, the Japanese government signed the Instrument of Surrender bringing to an end their involvement in World War II and permanently barring them from engaging activities that would allow them to “re-arm” for war.  This week, without provocation from Japan, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea launched a missile that flew above Japan.  Within hours, the global media was buzzing with the prospects of re-arming Japan.  In 1945, the U.S., China, the United Kingdom, the USSR (Russia), the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of Canada, the provisional Government of France, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Dominion of New Zealand stood united in their resolve to end hostilities, to defend the Pacific, and to work towards a common good in the world. 

Seventy two years later the situation is quite altered.  The U.S. is engaged in militant rhetoric with North Korea.  Russia and China are both advising negotiations and talks.  The U.K. is so engaged with its protectionist agenda it is blissfully on the side-lines.  Australia is spending record amounts of money to subsidize U.S. and European defense contractors to arm themselves and the region with “strategic assets” for a defense doctrine that is patently absurd.  Australia is preparing to defend itself against the threats posed by China and “terrorists” despite the fact that its largest trading partner is China.  Over 34% of Australia’s exports go to China followed by 15% to Japan.  No other trading partner even makes it out of single digit percentages.  Oh, and for the record, Australia intends to spend 5600% of its export trade with France for its submarines and 1100% of its export trade with Germany for its land vehicles.

Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9, 1945) are the only two populated cities to be bombed by the United States of America with nuclear weapons.  The same U.S. that insists that North Korea shouldn’t have a bomb is the perpetrator of history’s only evidence of the use thereof.  With an immediate death toll of estimated between 129,000 and 220,000 people and with a subsequent physical and mental toll in the millions, this unspeakable technological depravity took the murderous business of war to an inconceivable scale.  And while perpetrators and historians alike defend the barbarism as a necessary evil to end Japan’s resolve in the war, the seduction of mass destruction went viral.

So when, over the past few weeks, President Donald Trump has sought to goad North Korea into precipitous foolishness (on both sides, let me assure, both sides), I reflect on some of the mercantile facts that seem to be eluding the real and fake media alike.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are armed by the U.S.  Rounding out the top 10 countries we officially arm are Turkey, South Korea, Australia, Taiwan, India, Singapore, Iraq, and Egypt.  Oh, and then there are the top recipients of foreign military financing leading off with Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, and Iraq.  Isn’t it ironic that Pakistan – a nuclear power and nuclear proliferator – is being financed by the U.S. while they are also inextricably linked to the North Korean nuclear program?

Over 1/3 of the world’s disclosed arms trade originates in the United States making it the largest exporter of armaments. 

The U.S. doesn’t export arms directly to North Korea but would certainly like to have ample reasons to diversify its sales to Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.  And with 40% of its weapons currently flowing to the Middle East, market diversification is vital to the commercial interests of the U.S.

Missile defense systems are big business.

Having evidence of the “need” for missile defense is a vital market development tool.  Remember how valuable Iron Dome was for Israel?

Missile intercept technologies are a much more competitive marketplace and owning the future of missile defense business will put the U.S., Russia, China, India, Israel, and France in fierce competition for dominance. 

The world has lived with the experiential specter of nuclear weapons for 72 years.  This menace to human decency fueled the Cold War mercantile interests of a few for the better part of 35 years.  We’re now in an era where the diffuse enemies created by cartographers, ideologues, and despots (on both sides, really, on both sides) do not conveniently create industrial efficiencies.  Variously arming thugs – from Toyota’s ubiquitous presence in land transport for all manner of vigilantes, to unmanned air, land and sea vehicles, arms and explosives – industrial scale defense contractors would benefit from a more robust and sizable threat.  And missile defense is just the right target.  Let’s face it.  If we really cared about state and non-state actors having nuclear weapons, we’d realize that Pakistan’s Punjab Province nuclear arsenal is as likely put in service to North Korea or Iran as it is to “deter” India from attacking.  And Pakistan is capable of putting their nuclear arsenal in any neighborhood on the globe with submarine and surface delivery efficiency rivaling the U.S., Russia, or France.  We don’t want a “nuclear free” Korean Peninsula.  We want armaments markets that serve our commercial interest.

So 72 years later, have we as world citizens learned anything?  Precious little!  Using our taxes, governments are rattling sabers in an effort to instill fear and uncertainty in the populace.  Unquestioningly, a cowed public is taught to fear and surrogate their sense of security to the architects of the menace in the first place.  And, when we all blindly call for defense and security, the government acting on our behalf and with our blind confidence, obliges with more technologies of terror.  This genius, nefarious system has been working with remarkable efficiency for thousands of years.  And it will until we realize that putting real people under flying missiles does not advance an ideology or moral “right”.  It merely puts real people in real harm.  It’s time for us to realize that governments and their benefactors are NOT serving their headline missions.  Instead, they’re creating instability into which those who prey thereon can serve their gluttonous ends.  And it’s time, on this anniversary of the end of hostilities, that We The People stop falling for the lies and start building our common defense – namely, erasing fear and rage with engagement and understanding.  Salam, Pax, Paz, Nyimbur-ma, Achukma, Heiwa, Peace, Heping, Mir, you get the point.