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James Phillips - TZM Education | London Z Day 2011

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Thank you. My name's James Phillips. I'm a music teacher and father from the Watford chapter here in the UK, and I'd like to talk to you about an educational website I'm piecing together for the movement called TZM education. The purpose of this site is twofold. Firstly, I want to present existing studies that validate the educational proposals put forward by the Venus Project, and secondly, is to collaborate with and help movement members to communicate these ideas with young people currently in mainstream education, to help them to start to think differently about learning and about the world in which they live, by presenting the educational notions proposed in a Resource Based Economy. The tenants of a Resource Based Economy are wide ranging of course, but for me they rest on two very firm footings. They are the physical sciences, and the humane application of them to the social design holistically. It's clear that a productive and relevant education for all with regards to these areas would be essential for such a society to function properly. Unfortunately, I know from working in schools that we are a long way from a productive and relevant education with regards to our species' sustainability on this planet right now. The reason for this is simple; education reflects culture, and culture reflects education. The reason for this is simple; education reflects culture, and culture reflects education. For just a cursory glance at human beings' conduct on this planet would surely seem enough to realize that both education and society as a whole, needs to undergo a significant change in values, if we are to move into any sort of sustainable social structure. So how do education and culture reflect each other exactly? The main incentive system in the world today is money, which basically equals competition for profit. This was of course an excellent idea when we had a true scarcity of much needed resources for our survival. However, this does not need to be the case anymore, as we now have the technology to not only sustainably produce long-lasting goods in a relative abundance for all the Earths' people, but we can do so with little or no physical human labor at all, and with a far greater level of efficiency. So, in a new incentive system based on progress rather than profit, the cultural and educational emphasis would be on finding new and creative solutions via the scientific method to solve problems, rather than relying on arbitrary opinions. Therefore, self-development, critical thinking, effective communication, collaboration, and a general knowledge of the subjects that have a direct correlation to the integrity of the planet and everyone on it, would be the new educational paradigm. Learning would be seen as a fun and lifelong pursuit, instead of seemingly stopping at a certain age, so that you can earn some money to own as much stuff as possible before you die. Punishment and reward is essential for a dysfunctionally rooted society such as ours to work at all, and is therefore the current dominant teaching philosophy that is promoted in most schools today. Quite simply, the educational system is a natural bi-product to the society it's in, and vice versa. Whilst there may be some positive change in education, it will never be significant enough in a society based explicitly on greed, deferential advantage, and acquisition at any cost. Punishment, is an easy behavioral attack tactic to attack in terms of its ineffectiveness towards modifying abhorrent behavior in the long term. I'm sure that everyone in this room is well aware people act according to what they pick up from their environment. How many times do we have to hear, that the abused become the abusers, before we recognize and realize that we have to change the causal mechanisms behind these tendencies. So when a child is punished the inappropriate behavior is all but forgotten instantly. A chastised child will not be thinking of the errors of their ways, but will instead be thinking about the punishment brought upon them, how much they dislike the parent or teacher that inflicted it, as well as how they will go about not getting caught next time. Children are not born bad, and teaching them right from wrong, does not have to come in the form of discipline or bribes. For example, trying to help them to understand how their actions may have hurt another persons feelings is a pretty good starting point in attempting to instill in them a decent set of moral values. Above all, a child needs to feel appreciated for what they do, who they are, and who they want to be. Ultimately, they need to feel loved. Now the seemingly nice twin to punishment in the act of behaving modification, is reward. Whilst this may at a first glance seem to be a preferred route to take, it's not all it's cranked up to be. Because whilst prizes and praise might be effective in the short-term, they can actually be detrimental to long-term intrinsic creative motivation, and will keep needing to be applied in order for the desired behavior to continue. More on this soon. It's first important to point out that the reasoning behind the desire to modify behavior in the first place - who you're doing it for and why. Cause it's one thing to want to stop a child being violent, or running across a busy road, and quite another to tell them to stand still and be quiet when in actual fact, they don't have to. This is really just an adult enforcing their will upon a child in order to coerce them to act as they do, as well as attempting to impress other adults with how well they have their 'pet' child trained, according to behave to the current social status quo and apparatus. So as mentioned earlier, it's the use of punishment and reward that really keeps our current social model working at all. School is no exception. And in fact, it can't be if the integrity of the system itself is to be maintained. Rewards seem to be the more palatable of the two behavior modification methods currently used in education, so let's take a look at them now in more detail. Extensive research now shows that the use of rewards as an incentive to get a child to learn, leads to the students merely meeting the bare minimum of what is required of them, in order to get the grade or reward on offer. Not only this, but it also has a significant impact to their long-term intrinsic interest in a given task or subject, rather than them feeling enthusiastic, autonomous and creative in what they're doing. This point is well made in the book 'Punished by Rewards' by psychologist, author and teacher Alfie Kohn. When we are working for a reward, we do exactly what is necessary to get it and no more. Not only are we less apt to notice peripheral features of the task, but in performing it we are also less likely to take chances, play with possibilities, or follow hunches that might pay off. Risks are to be avoided whenever possible because the objective is not to engage in an open-ended encounter with ideas, it is simply to get the goodie. One example from the numerous studies that point to the detrimental effect the use of rewards has with regard to problem solving and general motivation, was done at the university of Rochester. In this experiment 20 children were taken into a room one by one to play with some puzzles. Half the kids were told they'd be given a 5 dollar reward for each puzzle they tested and half were not. Once these puzzles were completed each child was left alone in the room for a few minutes and observed via a hidden camera. Of the 10 children who were paid for completing the puzzles, only one continued to play with them in these remaining few minutes however, every single one of the 10, who weren't paid continued to play with them even though they didn't have to. Hopefully this study and many others much like the work of Daniel Pink who is well recognized in our movement and I'm sure some of you are maybe familiar with his work, hopefully this and other studies should make this point abundantly clear, rewards kill long-term intrinsic motivation. Praise can surprisingly be detrimental as well for it solicits the same actions as any other reward mechanism. This is not to say that making relative or positive constructive comments about the work in question or general encouragement is not beneficial. But heaping praise on top of what should be already rewarding only detracts from the true sense of achievement an individual actually feels towards the task in question. The student then also starts to become dependent on praise from an authoritarian figure in order to feel motivated to apply themselves to future tasks. Indeed, why is praise needed other than to encourage students to complete the tasks 'we' set for them and that 'we' deem worthy of praise. This further cements our position of dominance rather than allowing the child to pursue their genuine areas of interest, with our help. So learning is currently the process to get rewards, rather than the other way around, and then we wonder why kids are so disillusioned with learning in school. Please understand that a monetary-based society demands a constant influx of wage slaves and that school is designed to be the perfect cookie-cutting plant (factory) for just that. In the words of George Carlin; "They, the rich Elite, don't want a well-educated public capable of critical thinking. They want people just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork, and just dumb enough to passively accept increasingly, shittier jobs". This is what our system produces; competitive, manipulative gaming strategies as a mode of survival. Then in the same breath, we try to teach our kids to be nice and to share. And we wonder why an ever increasing amount of them are on, or go on to being on anti-depressants later on in life. Could it have anything to do with the fact that adults do the exact opposite of what they teach their own kids to do in their own day-to-day lives? So when a child - and you might have done this, I know I did and that's why I had a very turbulent school career - so when a child in school asks the teacher "Why do I need to learn this?" or, "How will I need this later on in life?" the teacher replies "Of course you need it!" or, "Because you have to". This masks the fact that the real answer is; that in a stream-lined job market, you probably won't. However, school is largely a test of your character with regards to completing tasks, whether relevant or not, on time, and to the required standard. This means, that you will be a good worker in the market place as you will not question the merits of the task at hand, and will instead make sure you do what you are told, when you are told to do it to the best of your ability, even if you hate the task in question. There's another word for that and that's called slavery. I thought they'd abolished that.... Remarkably there are certain rule free schools actually in existence today. Whilst these would not be the same as in a Resource Based Economy, they do provide evidence that suggests that a more liberating approach to education can increase the intrinsic desire of the student to learn. Two examples of this to check out would be the Democratic School system in The (United) States, and the Summerhill School here in the UK. At these schools teachers and pupils arrive at decisions together, and children do not have to go lessons if they don't want to. Now you'd be forgiven for thinking that these children would not be able to reach a descent academic standard at such schools, and would simply muck around all day. But you would be wrong. Because that fact is that the kids at these schools obtain the necessary GSE results, even though they don't have to. More importantly, in all the independent reports done at these schools, the kids are found to be absorbed in learning, happier, creative, have a strong moral sense of right and wrong, a good community spirit, a fantastic ability to communicate constructively in general conversation. This shouldn't be a surprise. Kids are born with an inquisitive nature to learn about the world around them, they don't need to be forced. It isn't their fault, that the lesson - so drab, uninspiring and utterly boring - that they've switched off. Maybe it could be that the child was not given a choice in how they would like to learn the topic in question. Or perhaps it's because the teacher is really thinking of the money he or she will be payed at the end of the month and hitting academic targets rather than making the content of what is actually being taught relevant and interesting. So because of this ill-informed judgement that kids do not want to learn, we've decided to turn to using extrinsic motivators in an attempt to incentivize them, which actually ends up making the problem you're trying to solve even worse. Therefore, I have a collection of activities and presentations at the site that members themselves can take into their local schools to start informing the adults of tomorrow about the ideas behind a resource based economy so we can start to help to show them that learning should be cherished and never a chore. Image displayed with the caption: I'm trying to see things from your point of view. Forgive me but I couldn't resist, this personifies the adult world rather well I feel. As this picture points out adults tend to take a lot longer time to get their head around the concepts we discussed. For the most part they've been surviving by doing the exact opposite for so long that the thought of questioning their current social status quo and apparatus seems to be completely asinine to them, regardless of its merits. Kids on the hand, have not been fully indoctrinated into this system as yet and are therefore still able to grasp the incredibly simple notions proposed by the Venus Project. This is why those of that can should start to focus our attentions on informing the youth of our communities of this new direction in fun and engaging ways. The Zeitgeist Movement is an activist educational movement explicitly so we have to ask ourselves the question, what is the most effective way to get this message across to the world at large. In reality we live in a monetary based society and there's a word for what you have to do when you're trying to get an idea across to people in this culture: it's called marketing. We must start to be strategic and approach those who will understand what we are talking about in the most effective way possible rather than wasting our time with people who just don't get it. I'm not knocking any form of communication per se (although I would say even myself that I spend too long on the middle one) or suggesting that we shouldn't answer our critics - far from it. I merely want everyone here to question the approach they're using to see if they feel it's getting the message across effectively into the right demographic. The simple fact is that the youth of today are more in tune with the notions of protecting the environment due to climate change and environmental issues now being propagated in the mainstream media and in schools. In my experience they're ready to hear what we are saying with a far more open mind than the older generations are. Also, on a more pragmatic note they will be around for a lot longer to be able to push for this direction than any adult will be. That may seem harsh, and cold but it's true. We all have old schools for example; one will give them a call to see if you can do presentation there. In the UK we have the perfect opportunity to do this with what's called citizenship lessons or general studies. I'd never done a presentation of this kind before but I'm a big believer in jumping in the deep end and learning to swim. So, I ended up talking to a captive audience of a 180 kids and teachers at a secondary school I teach at about the Zeitgeist Movement and the Venus Project. And here's the bottom line. The bottom line is that if even 200,000 members of the Zeitgeist Movement did this and went to just one school and talked to 180 kids as I did then we can potentially reach approximately - 36 million young adults about to enter this system. If we are an activist educational movement then activities like this are imperative. We must make sure we're walking the walk and not just talking the talk, myself included. That is why I've been into several schools to do everything from playing collaborative games with seven-year-old's to giving full presentations on the Venus Project to seventeen-year-old's. One example I'd like to share with you is a game I played for the 5-10 age range where you take 3 hoops and put them in a row, equal distances over a few meters apart. In the middle hoop you have an uneven number of beanbags and at the hoops you have an even number of kids beside. The rules are that you have to get as many beanbags in your teams' hoop as possible and you're only allowed to carry one bag at a time other than that, try not to kill each other but anything goes. I'm sure you can imagine the chaos that ensued. Before long there were beanbags up jumpers throwing the bags from the middle hoop to their own and all sorts... Occasionally I would stop the game and count up the beanbags and then the team with the more beanbags - you know - as they were cheering their supposed victory - I would remind the opposite team that the game was not over and the chaos would start all over again. After a while at this I stopped the game and asked them how long this could go on for to which of course they replied, "Forever!" I then asked what the solution was and one child got it. Anybody got any ideas? (A man in the audience answers) "Join teams." Join teams? Yeah - you're going in the right direction. (A woman answers) "All the beanbags in the middle." Hey - (you) got it. Put all the hoops together and put the beanbags in the middle. The only way to win was to share. And the seed's been planted so to speak. I think this game personifies our current social paradigm rather relevantly myself: we can stop the game any time we like. It's ideas like this.... As Bill Hicks said "it's just a choice people between fear and love" It's ideas like this that came from members contributions. I now need a team of people to help me correlate all the necessary studies for the site and to contribute any ideas that you consider useful with regards to helping get this message across to the younger generations. The project is still in the developmental stages so please do let me know if you want to be involved and can help me by e-mailing the website at www.tzmeducation.org (obviously don't mail the website go to the contact section). The children of today deserve a better tomorrow than the one currently on offer. The time to start making that tomorrow a reality is today. Many thanks. The magnificent James Phillips!

Video Details

Duration: 19 minutes and 39 seconds
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Views: 80
Posted by: wurmd on Aug 9, 2011

Original Video: http://vimeo.com/21649305

More info here: tzmeducation.org
James Phillips TZM Education & Watford, London Z Day 2011

Videography by Jason Gleeson

Text Transcription: http://users.isr.ist.utl.pt/~wurmd/imageshack/James%20Phillips%20-%20TZM%20Education%20-%20London%20Z%20Day%202011.rtf

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