Monday, December 21, 2015

a PhD in reality

A student mask from Australia
In a recent article in National Geographic, the author was describing the effects of global warming on the people of Greenland. The most dramatic effects of Global warming are quite clear to those who are observing the loss of glaciers and sea ice, and it would be a good idea to banish our current crop of GOP leaders to a remote isle in Greenland where they could learn first hand about what our fossil fuel dependency has done and is doing to our planet. If the GOP leaders didn't want to face the cold of Greenland, we could send them to the Marshall Islands where they could watch the waves of a rising sea lapping at their feet.

In the article, a particular hunter  is described as having a PhD in the natural environment, but of course the author was not talking about a real PhD degree which would be meaningless in Greenland. He was using a term common to readers to describe, metaphorically, an advanced state of understanding. But what is a PhD in reality, if it is not derived from an understanding of the real world? The penultimate degrees are generally granted to those who have attained mastery of a high level of abstraction.

Our educational system is steeped in artificiality from the top to the bottom. Putting the hands to work in learning is the only way we might actually change things. Where the hands are engaged learning is at greater depth, retained longer,  and brought into direct context and yet most educational policy makers cling desperately to dark hopes that some future contrivance will engage children and force them to learn. (But learn what?)

With school out for nearly two weeks I continue to clean shop. I am gradually finishing boxes that were started months ago. Last night I cut linings to fit the bottoms of several boxes.  I feel a compulsion to use what I know to create and share. I am finishing one guitar and am starting three more and I am planning to use the mask above from Richard Bazeley's class as my model for the design of the body of one guitar.

In my reading of Matt Crawford's book, the World Outside Your Head,  I am on chapter two where he is describing embodied cognition, a subject I've described here in the blog many times. Schooling at all levels suffers from an overly narrow definition of mind, and a  failed perception of who and what we really are. Extend that into society at large and you begin to understand why politicians can lie, be believed, and get away with it.

Make, fix, create, and instill in others the love of learning likewise.

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