Minuets from our last Learning Processes class.
Catherine Bennett: I drank the Kool-Aid!
Dr.Plumb : I want to sell the Kool-Aid!
Catherine Bennett: But, you can’t sell the Kool-Aid!…
The above is a small exert from some of the conversation that took place during our last learning processes class. The meaning of “Drinking the Kool-Aid’ is a metaphor commonly used in the United States that refers to a person or group holding an unquestioned belief, argument, or philosophy without critical examination” (San Francisco Chronicle, 1998). All-be-it an ironic joke, as our Learning Processes class taught its participants how to avoid drinking the preverbal Kool-Aid, this conversation initiated a lot of deep self-reflection in me.
Why did I take this master?…
I decided to dust off entry letter of intent and read what I wrote…
“I am applying to the non- thesis, Master of Education Degree Program with a particular interest in, Studies in Lifelong Learning, starting September 2010. My reason for attaining this degree is to use the knowledge and skills I have gained to become a nurse educator and a professor of nursing. My future career path goals are dependent upon the acceptance to this program…”
Yes, the above exert was a part of why I want to obtain my masters of adult education, the other part of it was money. I had graduated like most Canadian undergrad students with massive debt. My goal of obtaining advanced nursing career positions, such as nurse educator and a professor of nursing, were fueled by key factors. The first was that I would feel enjoyment and fulfillment from the higher positions; the second reason was that they both represented a major pay bump. That’s right it meant a lot of money, money I could put towards my student loans. I had intended to get in and finish off my Masters as fast as possible while accruing as little debt as possible. That was the plan…and then something changed. I had, what I guess I would call a social awaking.
A social awakening can be defined as “social awareness; to be aware of the problems that different societies and communities face on a day-to-day basis; to be conscious of the difficulties and hardships of society. A subject with an acquired social consciousness derives his or her viewpoint from the mainstream culture. A subject with an awakened social consciousness explores alternatives to the dominant cultural viewpoint. Furthermore, a subject with an expanded social consciousness strongly identifies with their marginalized group.” (Memidex, 2012)
In other words… I drank the Kool-Aid
In this case, what is the Kool-Aid?
Well for me the ‘Kool-Aid’ consisted of unfiltered knowledge. I found the subjects that we were studying at a graduate level forced me to self-reflect and think critically. They pushed my boundaries and made me feel uncomfortable; they challenged my beliefs; thought archetypes and schemas. The subjects were important, relevant and usually represented points of view that differ from my own. Unlike the spoon feed ‘banking system of education’ that is dominant in the world of undergrad academia, the unfiltered knowledge being explored in my classes started to change me as a person. I began to experience a social awakening to transparency and civic reasonability. [Go ahead Dr. Plum…try to sell that 🙂
I guess the conception of my social awakening started in my Community Education & Development course. I started to understand the importance of informal learning and the marginalization of minority groups. I started to question the dominate cultures’ values, their actions and the motives that drive them. I also started to understand the value of grassroots movements that were politically or pro –socially driven and directed by the needs of a community. I came to recognize that every successful community project or movement was built on strong group cooperation.
My understanding, appreciations and value of human cooperation was deepened by the material that we studied during this Learning Processes course. I feel one of the most basic; but nevertheless profound topics we examined, was Michael Tomasello; theory of shared intent. Time and time again, I was astounded by the simple basic examples of shared intent that I have come across in my daily life.
Tomasello’s studies highlight how human beings through their developmental advances, become essential cooperative components of social groups. Dr. Tomasello’s work examines unique human skill sets, as well as motivating dynamics and drives for shared intentionality: joint intentions, collaboration, pro-social motives, and social norms (Tomasello, 2005)
One of the most basic examples of shared intent that I recently encountered occurred the other night, when I was feeding my 14month old infant niece. I placed a piece of chicken on her highchair tray and then waited for her to pick it up. She was easily distracted (as most children her age are) and had not seen me giving her the food. I proceeded to say her name in order to draw her attention back to me. I then made a pointing gesture to the piece of chicken. I observed the infant following my finger’s indication to the morsel of food. The baby promptly picked it up and ate it. With that simple gesture we shared intent!
I must say, now that I know about the concept of shared intent, I see it everywhere. I see it in every type of human interaction. As I reflect on the concept of shared intent, I cannot help but wonder if shared intent is the ‘mother’ of language, writing and any or all other forms of communicating? I also could not help but reflect on the power of communication.
Our new found capacity to communication was so transformative thatTerence McKenna (ethno botanist and philosopher) wrote “the moment that human beings invented language, the biological evolution of humans ceased and evolution became an epigenetic, cultural phenomenon.” (McKenna,1989)
Has shared intent coupled with these other capacities to communicate caused an acceleration of our specie’s evolution over every other species that has ever existed on this planet? Dr. David Christian believes this is definitely the case.
Dr. David Christian proposes that all animals have the capacity to learn in real time, but that their newly acquired knowledge dies with them. Christian implies that “what makes humans different is human language. Human language is so powerful and so precise that we can share what we have learned with such precision that it can accumulate in the collective memory. That means it can out last the individuals who learned the information; it can accumulate from generation to generation; that is why as a species we are so creative and so powerful and that is why we have a history. Christian calls this ability collective learning, he suggests that our collective learning was enhanced by the migration of our species into different continents and the inventions of shipping, trains, telegraph and internet; causing humans to link up internationally; giving birth to a single ‘human global brain’ made up of seven billion people.
I believe that shared intent, language and technology have combined and resulted in what is unquestionably humanities greatest invention, the internet. The internet provided humanity with unlimited avenues for shared intent and unending streams of informational exchange and knowledge.
Here is a link to Jason Silva’s ‘ (2012) cinematic Espresso shots’ http://vimeo.com/38260970. I feel his philosophical artistic filmexpressionsreflect the true magic of this cultural triad. I consider Silva’s ‘Radical Openness’ to be a modern and profoundly poetic statement about the cultural evolution that is transpiring in our specie! The action that these new technologies will have in helping to fully awaken the social consciousness of humanity is quite possibly astounding. As author, Peter Russell puts it, “we are recognizing that we are a single species with a common destiny. An awakening global brain will play a critical role in our spiritual awakening—helping us make the transition from the predominately self-centered, materialist worldview which lies at the root of many aspects of our global crisis, to the more compassionate and holistic consciousness at the foundation of the world’s wisdom traditions.” (Russell,2012)
Although, all of these above ideas are old ones, they are new and fresh to me. As Silva put it “it’s huge. It’s a universe of possibility. It’s grey infused by color. It is the invisible revealed. It is the mundane blown away by awe” (Silva, 2012). And it fills me with hope…. So yes, I guess, I drank the Kool-Aid.
Christian, D. (2011, April 11) Dr. David Christian: The history of our world in 18 minutes [Video file].Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqc9zX04DXs
McKenna, T. (1989) New Maps of Hyperspace. Retrieved from: http://www.erowid.org/culture/characters/mckenna_terence/mckenna_terence_maps_hyperspace.shtml
Memidex On-line dictionary.( 2012) Retrieved from: http://www.memidex.com/social-conscience
Russell, P. (2012, December 3) Peter Russell: A Global Brain Awakens [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.greattransitionstories.org/wiki/Story:Global_Brain
San Francisco Chronicle. Hatfield, L,D. (1998, November 8th).Utopian nightmare. Jonestown: What did we learn? Retrieved from : http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Utopian-nightmare-3060346.php
Silva, J. (2012). Jason Silva :”RADICAL OPENNESS” TEDGlobal [Video file].Retrieved from: http://vimeo.com/38260970
Tomasello, M (2010, November 14). Michael Tomasello: Origins of Human Collaboration and Shared Intentionality pt02 [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unyUyOBUxCw