One Time 4 Your Mind

5 Comments

spacebrain.jpgI just read a third installment of the 40th Anniversary edition of Rolling Stone (yes, I’m a subscriber), and read an awesome quote from Al Gore (who I honestly believed in since 1999). In response to the question of how to engineer sweeping social and political and industrial change in a short period of time (i.e. before the ice caps melt):

Einstein once said, “The problems that face us cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them. What we need is a shift in consciousness.”

When asked to clarify, he says:

“Forty-five years ago, Thomas Kuhn wrote a book called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Twenty years before that, Joseph Schumpeter wrote about the way changes in consciousness take place in business. Both Kuhn and Schumpeter described a process whereby our current way of thinking about the world – who we are, how we live, is challenged by new facts that don’t seem to fit the old explanations. When enough unexplainable new phenomena pile up, there is sometimes a shift in consciousness that moves us quickly and suddenly to recognize a new pattern that quickly and suddenly to recognize a new pattern that explains all of these things that have been mysterious in context of the old way of thinking. That’s what we’re on the cusp of right now.”

So does this mean we’re on the verge of truly profound changes in the way people think? It makes me wonder, since not many people have the insight to actually research their beliefs and simply follow a modality for allegiance. Also, humans like normalcy and following trends, because that’s comfortable. Unless we can break free of those habits, how can we stand to truly buck trends?

For instance, it’s been shown that when the US president tells something to the American people (at least historically) the general public overwhelmingly believes it. In 1964, when the “uneducated” Muhammad Ali protested the Vietnam War, becoming a conscientious objector when drafted, the rest of the country (76% to be exact) still believed we should still deploy more soldiers. No offense to those who have served in Iraq or Vietnam, but America’s going to war for corporate self-interest alone, which is why Bush constantly lowers expectations on television. While the American people’s consciousness is slowly discerning the ramifications of a hastily planned and corrupt war, it’s still not ready to march up to the doorsteps of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, and pull people out.

Yet, this is also a critical time in which that most certainly can happen. More than ever, we have the opportunity to gain more important and relevant information, quicker, with better analysis, and with no regard to partisan politics. We also have quicker methods of contact, organization, and mobilization than ever before because of the new technologies. We have vast opportunities to surpass our predecessors as far as being well-informed citizens and thus can truly prepare ourselves for a true revolution on many levels.

Even as we speak, scientistsphysicists work hard to disprove Einstein’s theory of relativity while simultaneously finding new proofs for what we deem as absolute truths. It’s analogous to what educators experience in their jobs today: we have these new technologies to help our children close the digital divide and have better information to supplement our teaching, yet time and again, the essentials of good teaching have to stay. We still have to write proper lesson plans, have good classroom management, lay a good foundation of subject fundamentals, and have a good sense of self and our environment.

In the same way, our world won’t be able to function if we don’t care more about the environment, teach our children properly about history, show them self-respect and respect for others, inspire them to reach beyond their means, and instill the values of hard work and dedication. Or else, all the new crap we’re developing is truly for naught.

jose

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Jose VilsonOne Time 4 Your Mind

Comments 5

  1. Hugh O'Donnell aka Repairman

    Being a leader is a tough business, isn’t it? If not for thinking leaders, people would never “get the message.” The huge lag between good ideas and their adoption isn’t a function of how efficiently current technology can distribute information, but of how often people hear the message, if they’re open to begin with.

    Just like advertising…first, the message has to be noticed. Then it has to repeated, what, seven or eight times before it’s internalized?

    Leading large numbers of people, helping good ideas reach critical mass, is like turning around the Queen Elizabeth II at full speed. It takes a lot of ocean.

    When you boil it all down, progress doesn’t move at the speed of thought, or light. It moves at the speed of public education. ;)

  2. Tamara Sneed

    As always twin, excellent post!

    Though the world around us is in steady metamorphosis, people as a whole are still holding true to being sheep led by their master. It is easier to be led in what appears to be the right direction, and to be able to blame someone else if it is wrong, than to venture out on ones own and be totally wrong by yourself (could this be another possible meaning to the mouse and cheese quote…). Why think when someone else can think for you? Also, in times of uncertainty and fear, panic persuades people to engage in things that they may regret later. But once you have supported something that later proves to be a completely unnecessary waste (i.e. the war in Iraq), who really wants to admit they are wrong? Marching up to the doors of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW and pulling people out is admitting to your own idiocy for going along with the plan in the first place. So you idly sit quietly by and hope it blows over, or continue to support because your pride won’t allow you to admit that you’re wrong.

    I don’t think that the world being near disaster is going to make people think honestly. I don’t see a shift in consciousness looming over the horizon. Humans show a pattern of allowing leadership to be the discerning factor in our fates.

    I feel like you would have to take a backward approach to get forward results. In other words, I think that in order for people to really start thinking for themselves, you would first have to have a leader who really promotes people having a mind of their own and that it is in fact ok to think, come to your own conclusions, have a voice and an opinion that is true to you and not the current leadership, etc. Start at the source and work your way down. Allow people to be led into being their own leaders. But even then, without an intelligent foundation, we will still be lost, completely defeating the thought process as a whole, being in your best interest to rely on someone else’s intelligence. So, even after you allow people the insight to think for themselves, you still have to reach back and teach them how to think.

    Keep teaching Jose, you might save a generation yet.

    :)

  3. pre_k

    i cannot say that i am much of a fan of gore.. i think the dude has no spine.. of if he does he just recently got one… dude let bush play him like a fiddle in 2000…

    people have long thought that we are on the verge of something. we on are on the verge of people still not being able to discover their passion due to the day to day struggle that is life.. i think the mansfield (i think that is the dude who wrote celestial prophecy) had it right when he coined this the preoccupation. and it is due to our preoccupations that we don’t take the time to think about things for ourselves and when we do we often start from the premises that we are most aligned with usually never being able to shake that paradigm.. the only reason i respect academics is that they usually take the time to see more than their side of the issue..

    the great illusion of people thinking for themselves is that they rarely act on the things they contemplate. now this is not to say that thinking alone doesn’t have a value but i will say for certain that thinking without any action does one’s thoughts a great disservice. so to me things become real simple; to think in a new way means nothing without subsequent change in action. but i suppose we need to do this one step at a time.. a lot of the time it takes a while to escape such thought patterns… may we find the time and courage to continue to challenge those things that are considered conventional.

    anyway nice post.. piece and blessings.

  4. Post
    Author
    Jose

    @ Kel: I would say that at first glance, we would say he didn’t have a spine, but really, I think the cost to continue that fight was too high. Unfortunately, the media hype was spun so out of control, about how much of a whiner he was, and how he lost fair and square (which we find out later wasn’t true at all) really made me think twice about 2000. In particular, it made me wonder how someone can basically be shut out of the political process by unfair charges. It also goes along with what I’m saying here: you can lead people astray, and the Republicans succeeded in making Gore look less appealing to his own constituency.

    One of the biggest issues I think about is how humans are a creature of habit, and unfortunately, it’s a lot easier to be non-conformist when others are. For instance, this whole “I Hate Bush” thing really only got popular since 2003, but I’ve hated him since 1999, and I don’t mean hate as a person, but politically. Yet, now that it’s trendy, it feels weird saying I don’t like Bush. So I’m ambivalent: it’s great that so many people don’t like him as a president, but are they sure? And why don’t they? For that matter, why vote Obama? I’m actually closer in ideology to Dennis Kucinich, of all people, so I believe my vote goes to him, but Obama’s nice if you want something / someone different.

    Then again, I agree with Einstein in many respects. Yet, it’s the same man who used a lot of his plans for evil. It’s twisted shit. He was voted as the greatest physicist of all time, but even he couldn’t use his powers for good all the time, and that’s the crux of it all.

  5. LuzMaria

    This post makes me think a lot of what goes on in the classrooms of the Glass House, a whole lot of nothing. Many of our young people are asked no to think but to actually perform at a minimum in higher order thinking skills. It amazes me still of how many “scholars” are not aware of current events, the geographical location of various places, and/or issues in their communities. There is a lack of curiosity in the classroom because they have been become accustomed to the “tell me” what to do mentality and their minimun equates a “that’s great work.” The instant gratification mentality has had a tremendous effect upon people in general. I recall having conversations with my teachers in middle school about various issues both here and abroad. In order to partkae in said dialogue, I would ensure to watch the news and/or read the newspaper and do some research upon certain topics. It is a struggle for me to bring these lively discussions in the classroom with my 8th graders today because they struggle with critical thinking skills. There a few that can engage in this kind of exchange but I become so concerned for the majority of my other kids because I know that they have the potential but it has not been developed yet. This has become the long-term goal for this academic year.

    Currently, I have two young people reading a biography about Albert Einstein as part of their non-fiction unit. I am curious as to see what their discussions will be like and hope that they ask questions which will foster their curiosity.

    Great post, Mr.V.

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