As outlined in the article ‘education reflects culture and culture reflects education’, the tendency toward a given culture creating an education system in lock step with the dominant interests and values of that culture needs to be appreciated before any truly meaningful discussion regarding educational reform can take place. If you agree with educational reform then on some level you are also a critic of your surrounding cultures dictums.
For example in our current competitive, hierarchical, scarcity and inefficiency based socio-economic system the coercive top down hierarchy found in the work place, is mirrored in our school system. The use of grades, praise, punishment and the unquestioned position of authority given to the teacher who disseminates knowledge to be rote memorized and regurgitated upon request by the student. All other ‘knowledge’, systems of thought and behavior is at best deemed ‘unworthy’ of knowing and at worst heretical to the prevailing order and status quo of the surrounding culture.
This would no longer need to be the case in an NLRBE as the values of the population would reinforce the structure of this new, creative, collaborative and autonomy driven economic paradigm in it’s educational approach. *
A system of shared interests
In an economy which derives it’s operations via the scientific method directly linked to meet human need, the educational gravitation would instead be toward inspiring children to become enthusiastic, innovative problem solvers in all areas pertaining to human, environmental and social health, rather than the often myopic view given toward the ambition of attaining a lucrative mode of employment, regardless of its merit to wider societal health.
An NLRBE could provide a more relevant educational framework to suit a wider a range of individual preferences rather than the ‘one size fits all’ factory style of coercive educational approach common place today.
The rigidity of evaluating educational abilities in a standardized way through the use of tests and grades in practice in educational institutions today would no longer need to be the default position for measuring intellectual attainment. This practice has perhaps been useful in the past to help employers quantify the abilities of employees in the market place, but in an economic system absent of the need for forced labour to meet life needs (due to the deliberate automation of laborious, monotonous and dangerous labour via mechanization) this practice would no longer serve as a useful proxy to gauge educational acumen.
Pedagogy would also likely take on a vastly different approach and demeanor in such a socio-economic condition. For example, current economic pressures on teachers to ensure that mandatory test result targets are met under the threat of losing their mode of employment would no longer be reinforced in an NLRBE. With these pressures lifted they could instead focus on making their lessons invigorating and intriguing through the passion they would impart via the intrinsic interest they would bring to the subject in question. This genuine enthusiasm would likely spread to their students, helping to impart and foster in them an intrinsic interest in the subject being taught. If it does not have this effect then it would no longer be a particular cause for concern in a world in which an access abundance is sustainably provided to meet human needs. People would instead be given the freedom to explore a wide range of subjects throughout life as the fruits that come through a diverse and autonomous inquiry would be the lifeblood on which such an emergent culture could thrive.
Where as in a market system both teacher and student could perhaps suspect each other of ‘ulterior motives’ bought on by economic pressures in the face of the threat of being unable to meet their life needs. With the student perhaps only present in order to get the grades they need to get a ´good job´ and the teacher because they need the money to survive. This is hardly the ideal harmonious undertone for a collaborative, creative and explorative relationship to start to blossom.
A culture without a vision of what the future could be is bound to repeat past mistakes
Imagining how the future might be is a key aspect in the evolution of society. Whilst certain theories such as the law of attraction are scientifically untenable and at best wishful thinking (as is pointed out in the following video by the messianic manic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYq83xGEe5o), perception and intention of thought undoubtedly plays a key role in manifesting our intention into action.
This is why TZM is a communicative/educational movement. If our cultural perceptions, intentions, habits of thought and by extension the entire edifice of our socio-economic paradigm contradict the reality we would like to see emerge then we are entering into a fool’s errand.
This initial tactical step is summed up by Peter Joseph in the following video:
This is not to play down the importance of building on the ground technical solutions to nullify our dependence on the monetary market system where possible of course but rather it is to reiterate the importance surrounding the need to establish the patterns of thought and perspective needed for a sustainable socio-economic system to emerge.
A criticism often made of this stance is that by being educational we are not ´doing anything´, but by that logic neither is a university student studying brain surgery. Should we therefore advocate that they learn on the job instead? Obviously not. The same is true for our entire planetary civilization. It was never designed with sustainability in mind for a population of billions of people to inhabit, so of course we have to educate people on what such a world might look like and reorientate our cultural outlook and values toward a socio-economic system capable of delivering a truly sustainable global civilization.
Perhaps this is best summed up in a quote often attributed to Albert Einstein which says,
“We can not solve problems by using the same method of thinking we used when we created them.”
Given the current state of affairs on our planetary home, is it so drastic to suggest a deliberate attempt to move away from the monetary market system toward the global and humane application of the scientific method for social concern? For all our sakes, I sincerely hope not.
An analogy which could be made here is one of a ship about to set sail on a great journey across a vast ocean which was not built for this purpose. What would be the best course of action in this situation? Would it be to sail on slowly or take less cargo and shipmates? Surely not? Surely the only option is to build a vessel capable of undertaking this voyage is it not? The prior scenario is essentially what many in the activist, environmentalist movement advocate and the latter is what TZM propose. The ship we are attempting to describe is one which seeks to harness the collective imagination and consciousness of humanity toward creating a better future for all mankind, using the tools made possible through the advent of science and technology.
A positive vision for the future
Painting a positive picture of how the future might be is a vitally important tactic to adopt precisely because such optimism is not particularly popular in modern media and social discourse. Mainstream media capitalizes on appealing to the fight or flight function of the amygdala with apocalyptic visions of the future. All serving to create a general climate of fear and apathy towards the potentially positive prospects, the future could bring.
It is interesting to wonder what the outcome might be were people encouraged to think of what a positive future could look like and went on to take steps to realize that vision, instead of being met with ridicule or hostility.
As the title of this section points out, surely a society without a vision of what the future could be, is bound to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
Taking a positive message to the next generation
This is why going into schools could make a significant impact in terms of creating the transition to an NLRBE. With recent technological developments in access to media, the next generation are being exposed to this negative outlook portrayed by the mainstream media in a way never before possible.
Such exposure undoubtedly has an impact on the thoughts, intentions and perceptions being created in young minds which they will adopt and carry with them into adult life.
Were we, as advocates of this direction to focus more of our efforts on imparting the positive and imaginative approach regarding what the future could be to the future generations and strive to give them the tools needed to manifest this positive vision into reality, this would no doubt provide a major step towards the mind-set required for the transition toward an NLRBE.
An air of caution
This is not to say that we should omit telling them next about the risks they face in the present and in the future, but they, like the rest of us get more than enough of the negative perspective on the future elsewhere, so we needn’t be the ‘harbingers of doom’ where it can be avoided.
And why should we!
The NLRBE is a hugely inspiring and exciting prospect to imagine, whilst also being grounded in a realistic, pragmatic and practical plan for the future of human society. We should be thankful that we have, through our own unique personal circumstances, come to the appreciation of an idea whose time has come and be proud to be the proponent of a brighter future, inside a culture with no clear positive, pragmatic or sensible direction in which to head.
Avoiding the deadly disease of procrastination
Despite the invigorating and exciting prospect of this idea, many advocates of this direction, including myself, can easily fall victim to the dreaded grip of procrastination.
One of the crazy parts of this tendency, is just how often I find myself distracted in something frivolous and meaningless, rather than something more productive. I often find myself entranced on Facebook, or wasting my time in some way when I have important work to be getting on with. Work that is important to me and that I actually want to do!
The following TED talk outlines why this happens and some methods to use to limit its encroachment on our activities:
I realize that this is not the case for everyone, but for those of you reading this for whom it resonates, I find returning to these words of advice from Arnold Schwarzenegger come in useful:
(Not that I advocate Mr Schwarzenegger’s political views or general philosophic disposition of course, but as always it is the information that matters, not the speaker!)
We should obviously also take some relaxation time, exercise and make enough time to eat nutritious food etc, but I have learnt the hard way that it is far better to structure this time into your life so that you feel like you are moving forward with your efforts in the most strategic, efficient and effective way possible.
What life could be like in an NLRBE – A personal account
With the spirit of imagination and positivity in mind, the following is a brief indulgence into what a day in my life might be like in an NLRBE…….
Being a teacher and practitioner of music, an example of how this area close to my heart might work would be in the arrangement of music centre facilities, within a community.
Instead of needing an instrument at home (not that you could not keep one in your home if you wish of course) you would instead have a vast array and variety of instruments with varied practice spaces available at a music centre.
Through a virtual 3D imaging system you could learn your instrument without the need for a tutor. This is not to say that other users would not be willing and able to offer help and advice of course, but this system could enable a precise delivery in terms of the correct practice methodology, and offer useful techniques via artificial intelligence at the appropriate time.
This would then free up other more experienced practitioners to become involved in more specific areas of musicality, mentoring and motivation. This would mean that music, along with many other subjects could take on an entirely different, more communal based approach than what we currently experience today within a price system.
I am a drum teacher, so I will use this as an example of how it could work in this regard……
The best and most informed drummers would be able to contribute to, and design a system that could monitor your timing, groove, feel, posture at the kit and would consult on how best to do this.
The computer system could perhaps then give real time advice and feedback on when to slow down, which parts of the music to isolate and give helpful tips along the way to improve your playing in the quickest time possible.
You could have various styles and songs to play along to with perhaps even 3D imagery to simulate a live environment as well. When you fancy having a go at the real thing, you could get together with some other like minded musicians, who may have been practicing the same songs on their respective instruments using a similar method, book up one of the many rehearsal spaces and away you go!
This would enable easy personal practice that would be in synchronization with other musicians, so that you all arrive at the practice prepared. Perhaps practices between yourselves could eventually take place on-line in real time in the future. From there you could play one of the many different music events being put on at the entertainment centre in your city or further afield.
A change in teaching incentives
Personally, if I could live in an environment where music did not have to be ‘marketed’ and my basic needs of life taken care of, I would love to give my music away to all who wish to hear it. With my new found spare time, I would be inspired to help other young musicians coming through the ranks to reach their full potential.
Currently, I teach the Drums to anything up to 75 pupils a week, and in all honesty I only teach some of them for the money. They simply do not practice enough to engage me in the act of teaching them the Drums. I often find these lessons drag, becoming tedious and monotonous.
I fully accept that this in part comes down to potential holes in my tuition method as I of course realize that I am not simply there to inform but to motivate and inspire as well. This being said and although I very much keep my teaching techniques under close scrutiny, I would be lying if I said that it was these lessons which I enjoy the most. However, because they turn up and pay I have to teach them as, just like everyone else, I need to earn money to survive.
There have often been cases where a good student, whom I enjoyed teaching and who practiced regularly had to give up their lessons as they could no longer afford them. This would no longer be the case in an NLRBE as with my life needs met, I would not need to spend my time with students who do not practice. I would happily try to inspire students who may be low on motivation, but sooner or later the buck stops with them (you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink is a phrase that springs to mind).
This is not to say that there would be any animosity between us in such a circumstance. I have often expressed this exact sentiment to ‘serial practice offenders’ who are familiar with my social disposition. I tell them that I would not teach them in an NLRBE and currently I only do so for the money. I reiterate that there would be no need to take my refusal to teach them personally. We may well be interested in other things and could become friends under those circumstances instead. Amusingly this has occasionally worked as a reverse psychological technique in getting the student to practice as they seemingly do not like the idea that I am only teaching them for the money. 😉
So, would I still teach if there was no monetary reward on offer? Absolutely, but it would not be in the rigid timed structure that I am currently forced to adhere to. This practice is not born out of any evidence based methodology either. It is simply a consequence of the monetary systems gravitation to attribute a unit of value to your pedagogical time. The fact remains however that some things can be taught in 5 minutes and others can take an hour or more depending on the needs of the student and what is being learnt at the time.
In an NLRBE I would have the freedom to converse with, and give advice to other budding drummers in a fully interactive learning environment and contribute to the tutorial computer systems which aid students in the development of their playing ability.
You could take this sort of approach to other realms of education and see how we could build an entirely different educational framework in which peoples own natural inquisitiveness could be given the chance to flourish.
In the meantime….
This is not to say we must necessarily ‘suffer our fate’ until an NLRBE comes about. As a stock broker once said to me, “In your job you give joy to people, I take it away”. I think what he was trying to say, in his own unique way, was that my job is not really all that bad, and he is of course correct.
So along with other changes I am making to my life, I am attempting to dramatically reduce my outgoings and dependency on money. This has, and will hopefully continue to allow me the freedom to offer my lessons through initiatives such as time banks, digital currencies and barter exchange wherever possible.
These are just some of the ways I would like to ensure that I have the power to say who I teach and when, whilst also leading by example in terms of the sort of values I would like to live my life by.
I have already witnessed the positive effect this approach has had on those around me, with my prospective or current students asking why I am making such changes. When I tell them, they are usually quick to congratulate and agree with me on my stance. This hopefully helps them in wanting to stay with me for lessons, as they are feeling like they are involved in a positive social venture whilst receiving the gift of learning to play music.
Music as a measure of personal and social health
Staying with the subject of music, some of the many benefits of music as a tool in transition is well made in this excellent lecture at London ZDAY 2014 by the frontman of English punk/hardcore band Enter Shikari, Rou Reynolds:
Music often holds a greater power in making a point hit home than mere words alone. Something the following songs convey very well in my personal opinion:
So if the points in this article resonate with you and you would like to be part of this positive shift in education, then please do take the time to visit the ‘Action in Education’ section of this site, and join in this global initiative to go into your local schools and universities, to communicate these ideas to future generations.
*This is not to say that an NLRBE will be a ‘free for all’ and a system without some form of authority in place, but this issue is one of semantics which from our current epoch is understandably a point of concern, for the coercive, punitive and often tyrannical form that authority often takes in our current socio-economic system.
The important stipulation to make should be whether said authority is legitimate or illegitimate. For example, we give people positions of authority every time we go to the doctor, dentist or a builder or a plumber. These people are trained experts in their respective fields. In this regard there would be an authority of sorts in an NLRBE, but the difference would be that such positions would be granted through that person demonstrating to their peers a thorough understanding of the area in which they are dealing with.