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James Phillips - TZM Education - Z-Day 2012

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Next up we have the global coordinator for TZM Education. It looks to help members of The Zeitgeist Movement pass on the message of the fantastic possibilities and potential for a Resource-Based Economy and what that could have for the future. He goes into schools. So far he's been into four schools and has been invited back to all of them, which is pretty good, as well as one university, and he has future dates booked. Before we go any further I'd just like to introduce James Philips. [applause] Yes, hello. My name is James Philips. I'm from the UK Chapter (and slightly out of breath from running all the way here). First of all, I'd like to give my sincere thanks to the Vancouver Chapter for having me here today. It's a pleasure and an honor to be here. [cough] Excuse me. I help coordinate a website called TZM Education. This site's purpose is to help Movement members to get the ideas of a Resource-Based Economic Model into the education system and to collect the studies and research that validate the educational proposals needed for such a system to come to fruition. Upon coming to the Movement, a profound realization hit me when I finally understood our materials: the need to influence the educational system at large and the amazing potential this approach could have with regards to the much needed transition into a Resource-Based Economy. The reason for this is twofold. The first is that schools help house people with less culturally indoctrinated mindsets, mindsets that are more willing to take on new ideas. This potential openess a child has towards the notion that they really could radically change the world and make it a better place is not merely to be passed off as simple childish naivety. Children bring new eyes to old problems and they don't have the same cultural baggage that many adults will have from years of having their aspirations for a better world beaten down. The real problem is, in my view, that many in the adult world have simply forgotten how to view the world through the eyes of a child. Wouldn't the definition of naivety, immaturity, selfishness and irresponsibility be to think that you can have infinite growth on a finite planet? After all this is what the adult world says 'makes sense', right? Then we have the audacity to lecture kids on how to behave. It's high time the adult world took a moment to pause and reflect on how they used to view the world when they were a child and they will quickly see it for what it is: a playground, and guess what? Playgrounds have to be looked after otherwise playtime is over. And the second is that the educational system controls society and how it operates. Therefore, it's not really that surprising that most schools in this system are there largely to establish fixed habits of response to authority. They are the engine room for the creation of the mindset needed to fuel the system in which they exist. As I will point out in part one of this presentation, our current system of coercive compulsory education's intrinsic design features reinforce obedience, docility and act largely as a cookie cutting plant to pump out an obedient population of work slaves ready for the market place through the use of coercion to create conformity to the prevailing status quo. The current educational system preserves itself largely by stifling independent, critical-thinking skills. This is expected when you understand that culture reflects education and eduacation reflects culture; they have to for the system to function at all. In part two, we'll take a look at some of the potential educational perspectives that could help bring about the much needed transition into a Resource-Based Economy. Part One: The History of Coercive Education In preliterate societies, education was achieved orally and through observation and imitation. The young learned informally from their parents extended family and grandparents and at the later stages of life they received instruction of a more formal nature, imparted by people not necessarily related in the context of initiation, religion or ritual. With the development of reading and writing and eventually the printing press it became possible for stories, poetry, knowledge, beliefs and customs to be recorded and passed on to future generations and a wider social demographic. Thus began one of the first major repressions of education: the restriction in the teaching of literacy. For hundreds of years, reading and writing was kept as the privilege of the privileged across nearly all human cultures. The power establishment of monarchs, church and state realized that knowledge was a dangerous liberty to afford the masses under their control and so they restricted its teachings to the upper echelons of society in order to help preserve their position of dominance in their given culture. Take the example of William Tyndale. He was the first to translate considerable parts of the Bible into English from the direct translation of the Hebrew and Greek texts and the first to take advantage of the new medium of print which allowed for its wide distribution. Was he to be thanked for the spreading of the Holy Scripture to the common man by the church leaders of his day? No, this was taken to be a direct challenge to the hegemony of the Roman Catholic Church and a combination of this defiance against the ruling cardinals and his opposition to King Henry the VIII's divorce from his then wife, Catherine of Aragon at the time, on the grounds of it being unscriptural, led to him being tried for heresy, choked, impaled and burnt at the stake. So whilst Plato's 'Republic' is widely credited with popular eyes in the concept of compulsory education in Western intellectual thought, it was not until the time of Martin Luther and the Reformation in 16th century Europe that the first compulsory systems of education were set up. The aims of this were, in the words of John Knox (a leading protestant clergyman at the time) 'to instill the virtuous education and Godly upbringing in the youth of the realm'. This was an early sign of the recognition on the part of given cultures' elite to educate the children of that society towards preserving their interests. From here the journey to the importance we now place on a universal compulsory education for all has been arrived at through a variety of different twists and turns in cultures around the world, ranging from the desire of the church to permeate society with its teachings, to the economic demand for apprentices in varying industries and professions. The current system of state prescribed education up to 16 years of age is actually a rather recent development, with many of our current educational approaches being born out of the economic, technological and philosophical era of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. Due to the advocation of the absence of government involvement in the running and regulating of the capitalist structure of the day, there were little or no regulations imposed upon factory policies. This allowed the wealthy, upper and middle-class owners to pursue whichever path was most profitable for them regardless of the well-being of their workers. Since workers (especially women and children) were laboring for anything up to 18 hours a day, there was very little family contact. As a result, children received very limited education, had stunted growth and were sickly. Families often lived in slums. With little sanitation, infant mortality skyrocketed and during the early Industrial Revolution, 50% of infants died before the age of two. Naturally, this caused a rise in attacks both physical, political, verbal and cultural against the ruling political and capitalist class structure of the day. These acts passed in 18th and 19th century England show a clear trend towards the rise in the living and working standards of the masses and eventually the implementation of a state-sponsored, educational system. It should therefore be no surprise that the educational system that arose from this era reflected a factory-style approach towards learning. The Enlightenment view of reductionism siphoned through the early ideals of early free market capitalism saw humans as objects that needed to be controlled just like the resources used for production. The educational model that has perhaps impacted modern Western schooling more than any other is that of the Prussian Empire of the early 19th century. So, let's take a quick look at how this came about and what its ruling principles were. The kingdom of Prussia decided upon their defeat to Napoleon in the Battle of Jena in 1806 that the principal reason for their defeat in the battlefield was the fact that their soldiers were thinking for themselves rather than following orders. Their solution was the implementation of a free state-prescribed, 8 year compulsory educational curriculum for all children. The purpose of this system was not only to provide the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic for the purpose of the early industrialized world, but also the need for duty, discipline, respect for authority and the ability to follow orders. The Prussian system was designed to instill social obedience in its citizens through indoctrination. Every individual had to become convinced in the core of their being that the king was just, always right, and the need for obedience to his rule paramount. As the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte, who was a key influence in the implementation of this system, once said: "If you want to influence the student at all, you must do more than merely talk to him. You must fashion him, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will." An important part of the design of this system was for the state to prescribe what was to be learnt, when it was to be learnt and how long to think about it. This educational system is widely renowned for the eventual rise of neo-nazism. Couple this model in with the illusion of choice given by the concept of democracy and it's... and it's easy to see why we have such a docile, obedient and subservient population today. Progress has indeed been made from the days of the cane and dunce's cap; but nonetheless, a model of state-enforced education based on working hard rather than thinking hard is still in operation structurally. It's largely based on rote learning and the memorization of facts in exchange for rewards and punishment for the dissenting people in the ranks if the prescribed subject matter is not adhered to. Critical thinking, problem solving and independent thought cannot be allowed to enter its metric of value. This point is well made by author and teacher John Taylor Gatto in the book 'Dumbing Us Down'. The very stability of our economy is threatened by any form of education that might change the nature of the human product that schools now turn out. The economy school children now live under and serve would not survive a generation of young people trained, for example, to critically think. People who are confident, independent, self-assured and critically analytical don't make very good consumers, I'm afraid. So, the first value orientation that's reinforced in our system is that of materialism. Many studies now show what we've long intuitively suspected. That is that past a certain point, material wealth and acquisition do not add up to us being happier. People focus more on materialistic pursuits when they feel insecure, inadequate, fearful and anxious. Keep this in mind when we run down the design features of our current educational model, as I will point out that these tendencies are built into its design intrinsically. People actually think that they must buy things they don't need to make impressions that won't last on people they don't know in an attempt to secure their position of worth in society. [applause] Materialism. Isn't it therefore a rather easy value system to attack? Many will readily admit that it's a foolish value orientation, but they still go out and buy things they don't need out of a culturally-reinforced obligation to the prevailing status quo, as well as the obvious and futile attempt to try and fill an emotional need with a temporary materialistic one. Unfortunately, this void goes unrecognized with the missing components needed to fill it: these being personal purpose, self-realization, self-esteem, belonging and positive family and communal bonds, none of which come free with your next purchase, I'm afraid. This is the mind lock that people are stuck in. It defines their belief system through its reinforcement through their culture and so, in turn, their worth as a person, despite how despotic it is. Anyone who challenges this precept is ostracized from the herd and marks a potential threat. It's the same as labeling someone a conspiracy theorist. No need to look at the information objectively, just go with the mainstream view and what authority figures tell you because after all, why would anybody in authority lie to you? Right? Well... because, put simply, that's what they'll do in order to preserve their interests if necessary, and this is what's being done through the current antiquated design of the school system. For example, it's said that the system is there to promote a love of learning, but upon closer inspection, it's clear to see that this is a fallacy. True learning is self-directed, meaning that it's pursued because it's something the student wants to learn intrinsically through intrigue, not due to the extrinsic motivating factors such as arbitrary grades and test scores. If it's a love of learning you are trying to foster in the young, then this system is the antithesis of that aim. [applause] The seven main design features of the coercive educational model are pointed out again in the book 'Dumbing Us Down'. They are: confusion, class position, indifference, emotional dependency, intellectual dependency, conditional self-esteem and surveillance. So... Let's go through these attributes briefly starting with point number one: Confusion. Yes, it was a confusing time, wasn't it? This is instilled through the seemingly unrelated relationship of subjects to each other and the natural world. This is why the question "Why will memorizing this information be useful to me later on in life?" is so often asked by pupils in school. The real answer is that, in a streamline job market it probably won't be. School is about completing tasks on time and to the required standard set out by those in command, just like the world of work. Point two: class position This is imposed through merits, demerits, grades, praise and punishment to divide and rule the class. 'Divide and rule', where have I heard that before? The lower the grade, the more contempt there is for the person from his peers and parents and authority figures. The competitive classroom model brings the conditioning process of the world of work into play by reinforcing the notion that you must climb upon others in order to receive reward from authoritarian figures and this is achieved by pleasing those in that position of authority. Point three: Indifference Indifference is another needed attribute of this educational system. You must show your enthusiasm for a given topic and respond in the subscribed way for authoritarian favor, even if you find the subject and the way it's being taught uninspiring and dull. This is perfect for the world of work because even if you hate your job, you still need to pretend that it's the best and most amazing thing that's ever happened to you. [applause] Who knows? If you're a really good boy or girl and show us how interested you are in the meaningless, boring and most likely pointless tasks set out for you, then we may just give you some more debt slip tokens in next month's goodie bag or a nice little wall title in front of your name. Lucky you! Another way of instilling this attribute of indifference is by the ringing of bells. This is a classic operating conditioning technique signifying a break in concentration of the student. [It] promotes the subconscious idea that no task is worth thinking too deeply about and that when the boss says it's time to move along to the next work station, well, it's time to move along to the next work station. Like the memory hole in '1984', the ringing of bells serves to destroy both past and future, making every interval of time just like the last helping to reinforce a state of permanence in the very fabric of the reality prescribed by Big Brother. Point four: Emotional Dependency Through the mechanism of punishment and reward it's easy to make sure that self-esteem is dependent upon whether the person in the position of authority says you can feel that way about your actions. It's easy to see how this 'one-size-fits-all' educational system is not designed to do anything other than reinforce uniformity and obedience to the prevailing status quo. Point five: Intellectual Dependency Good students wait for the teacher to tell them what the truth is. The prescribed curriculum is all that's relevant so we must wait for those in the positions of authority who possess the relevant knowledge and information to deliver it to us on a spoon. Deviation onto a chosen path of interest is prohibited. Point six: Conditional self-esteem People must be told what they are worth by those in the know. They are allowed to feel good about themselves when they're told they can. This is further perpetuated by the imposition of grades and mandatory standardized test scores being sent home so that the shame and pride aspect can be reinforced yet again by more authoritarian figures in the form of a child's parents. The system as pointed out earlier, could simply not take an influx of self-evaluating, confident, objective, critically-thinking and emotionally-stable people. Finally, point seven: Surveillance Lack of privacy is another necessary attribute to reinforce in a system of dictatorial control. Class changeover lasts close to 300 seconds to limit promiscuous fraternization. Children are encouraged to snitch on each other so that Big Brother can remain informed with behavior of its minions at all times. Of course the domineering force of the state can't end at home time, it must be continued on with the second shift in the evening called homework. Heaven forbid that simple family time or an individually-led base learning process free from state command and control, should take place; and just in case you do get any funny ideas, then we have television with its corporate-owned advertising agenda to perpetuate the values, emotions and set patterns of behavior required for the mindless obedience and consumption awaiting you in adult life. It's important to note that there are many well-intentioned and good teachers out there. Many of them feel the same way about this system, and they are often under immense pressure to turn out good results. So, in some ways it's simply astonishing that there are any good-natured, fun, inspiring and vibrant teachers out there at all. Unfortunately for them, it's like trying to pedal a bike uphill with no wheels. The structure itself is flawed. So what do we do about this despotic educational design? How will we change it, and what will our new educational imperatives be? In part two we'll look briefly at the educational perspectives needed for a Resource-Based Economy. This is laid out very concisely in the book 'The Best that Money Can't Buy' by Jacque Fresco, a must read for anyone who wishes to understand a Resource-Based Economy and how it works. The more intelligent our children the better our lives and the richer our culture will be. Every child using drugs and living a life without direction and purpose is damaged life that we will have to pay for in the future. It is our children who will inherit the future. With the proper information and nurturing they will understand that Earth is a fantastic place capable of providing more than enough for the needs of everyone. The attributes of this educational model for a Resource-Based Economy are then outlined in the same chapter, some of which are: working towards regarding the world's resources as a common heritage, transcending the artificial boundaries that separate people, outgrowing political governance as a means of social management, utilizing the highest quality products for the benefit of the world's people whilst eliminating planned obsolescence, encouraging the widest range of creativity and incentive towards constructive endeavors, arriving at methodologies through careful research rather than random opinions, and providing not only the necessities of life but also the challenges that stimulate the mind whilst emphasizing individuality rather than uniformity. [applause] Some of these points could well sound strange and be taken out of context without a detailed understanding of what a Resource-Based Economy is, so I'd encourage you to take a look at these in greater detail if needs be. It's worth noting, however, that no one will be forced to accept this system. You either see the merits and potentials of such a direction and constructively apply yourself towards promoting the underlying understanding of the synergistic relationship between ourselves, our surrounding environment, and the need to solve the root causes of problems in an objective manner, or you don't. Using force does not change perceptions, proof does. For these 19 attributes in such an educational perspective to come to fruition, people must understand the merits of collaboration, empathy, learning, and the need for the alignment of ourselves and our social system to our needs and the emergent nature of reality or I'm afraid we are simply setting the stage for our own destruction. It's imperative to understand that it's a train of thought that leads to all manifestations of human structures ideals, understandings, beliefs and behavior. Therefore, comprehending and cultivating the educational imperatives and values required for this train of thought is itself the system's integrity. Without this, quite simply, there is no Resource-Based Economy. If children are encouraged to question illegitimate authority, be inquisitive and go beyond previous social contrivances and conventions, then they can and they will. The educational environment does not simply end when you leave school. The human brain is constantly receiving information and filtering it to help us understand the surrounding environment and the required interaction needed for our prosperity and survival within it. It's what makes us so adaptable to changing circumstances. The environment must reinforce the behavior and practice of operations you would like to see in every sense of the word. I'm afraid that you cannot have a competitive, scarcity-preserving, profit-based system of operation for your survival and then try to teach children to go out into the world and be nice and share. The two are diametrically opposed. In an emergent society, a new cultural perspective will be needed to be reinforced that will require our children to push the boundaries of convention and overcome our failings, not perpetuate them. This is why through approaching the school system directly, that we as a Movement can affect the necessary change. There are many interesting and creative ways of doing this. You could play collaborative games and sustainable thought exercises for the younger age ranges. You could present new and more efficient technologies such as hydroponics, MagLev trains, systems nanotech and the like that will help to open slightly older minds to the marvellous and unlimited potential the future could hold; or you could talk at higher school levels and universities about a Resource-Based Economic Model explicitly. This is one of the principle aims of TZM Education: to share and provide ideas and materials in order to help members to go into educational institutions and talk about these ideas with students, parents and teachers. Best of all, we're not alone. There are many forward-thinking models of education adopting new approaches towards learning now. Whilst these educational systems are not entirely those of a Resource-Based Economy, some, including Rudolf Steiner Schools, the Democratic School System, homeschooling, the Montessori School, and even whole countries like Finland, are heading in the right direction. Whether it's science, maths or reading, Finland regularly comes out on top in all internationally comparative tests and has no failing schools. Importantly, it also scores highly in levels of child happiness too. Does it do this by a Draconian, topdown, authoritarian management of education? No, quite the opposite, actually. Children start school later, at the age of 7 to build excitement and strong familial bonds. The school day is broken up, with far more regular intervals for unmonitored play helping to build trust between the teachers and children. Teachers are held in the highest regard and they are highly educated. There are often three teachers to a class in order to help struggling children. Teachers are called by their first names and they stay with the children from ages 7 to 13, helping to build an understanding and relationship with the child and their parents. Class learning is a collaborative effort rather than a competitive one and the same is true between schools as there are no school league tables in Finland. Because Finland has no failing schools there are subsequently very few private schools and any that do exist are state-funded. There are very few tests, instead choosing to base academic ability on assessment and there is virtually no homework and they are better for it. [applause] The fact that we may find this surprising only goes to show how far adrift we are in our current understanding of how to foster a true intrinsic love of learning in a child. I expand upon this point in greater detail in last year's 'TZM Education' presentation in London (so I'd encourage you to go to the site and give it a watch) but needless to say that learning is not something that needs to be forced, but instead it needs to be made interesting, fun, and focused on the positive development and needs of the child, in turn helping them to become happy, empathic, critically-thinking, thriving members of society. This was supposed to come up when I clicked the slide. As it's been stated in our materials before, personal interest must become social interest if we expect to survive in any meaningful way as a species on spaceship Earth. In this sense, people would become the currency. The next person you meet in a Resource-Based Economy could be a member of a team for research into new medicine, transport systems or food distribution. To hurt them would be, quite literally, to hurt yourself. In our current system the parallel would be to take a 20 dollar bill like this and tear it in half. The reason you don't see that happen is because there's no reinforcement for it. The artificial monetary sequence of value is what is reinforcing our culture today, not people; and that simply has to change. The emergent nature of reality, common good for your fellow man, empathy, and the pursuit of knowledge for the betterment of humankind is the value set that must be promoted to encourage our young people to truly be the light of change they wish to see in the world. ("You can change the world") If we do nothing, nothing will happen. Don't let people tell you that you're a fool for wanting to change the world for the better. All you will do here, with your brief time on this planet is change things whether you like it or not. What you change and to what extent you change it is contingent upon your actions, not someone else's. For example, if every member of the Movement went to just one school and spoke to a hundred kids, then we could reach approximately 50 million young adults about to enter this system. We can do it. We're not small. We're not powerless. Don't believe the hype. [applause] Because quite frankly, this is not the best we can do, and I for one will not stand for it. I will not allow my children to grow up in a world that thinks that a system that lets billions starve whilst a few prosper is the best we can do. For a species that's capable of so much we are failing in all the areas it really matters the most and for no other reason than an outdated game we created thousands of years ago called 'money'. I vow, that as long as there is air left in my lungs and blood running through my veins, that I will not stand by and watch whilst millions of mirror images of myself continue to suffer and die needlessly for nothing other than the false adulation of meaningless pieces of paper like this. It only has the value that we place in it, and I for one personally think that this shit has got to go. [applause] (This shit's got to go!) Thank you.

Video Details

Duration: 29 minutes and 37 seconds
Year: 2012
Country: Canada
Language: English
Producer: TZM Vancouver
Director: TZM Vancouver
Views: 340
Posted by: ltiofficial on Mar 23, 2012

James Phillips talks about education, going into schools, and working with TZM Education at Zeitgeist Day 2012 in Vancouver, Canada.
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