Aphorism 64

For the vast majority of mankind life is merely a mechanical grind from which the few benefit.  The few are either brighter or the vast majority are dim-witted.  The truth is somewhere in between — but that truth is a relative truth — the solution can be found in all that is non-human — that would require thinking about mankind relative to all that is non-human and eternal.  It would require a mass movement to seek the truth and fathom mankind’s place relative to the truth.  It would require a complete annihilation of the human ego.

Generation Skip — Education (Status Quo)

What is education?

When does education begin and when does it end?

What is the purpose of education? 

How does one go about educating? 

Who should do the educating? 

Where should the educating take place?

When and how does the individual take control of his or her education and how can we make sure we get them to their own self-created launching pad? 

These are truly epic questions.  I would love to end the post prior to this sentence, but I will go on and corrupt with further words and expressions.  For the record, I do not have the answer to these questions.  Do you?  Does anyone?  If you or anyone does, then I invite you and them to these utopian frameworks to begin the beautiful and creative process. 

How does our current world answer these all important enigmas?  Here we have before us intelligent little beings, supple, fresh, clear minds, bodies, and souls, equipped with the means to absorb, grow, and expand along with their minds.  Indeed the brains are pre-wired to some extent as are the genes, but how to do we maximize the potential of each individual’s wiring and stimulate their innovation, creativity, and self power?

Under our current construct, I fear we confine education by a time clock, a balance sheet, a profit and loss statement, and by practicality.  Education isn’t viewed as a means to something new; rather, education is viewed as a means to an end – the end being perpetuation and servitude of what already exists.   The ends then dominate and justify the means.   And, if the ends are struggling financially, what happens to the means?  And if the ends have very limited visions, then doesn’t that in fact limit the means?  Are our latest and greatest inventions the IPOD, IPAD, Viagra,and Zoloft?  Shouldn’t education be thought of as the platform to transform, broaden, expand, push the envelope, and challenge what currently is?  Shouldn’t education be proud and highlight a creation like the Hubble Space Telescope — a creation that has enabled us to view the gigantic universe through which our little planet is plunging?  I think so.  

For a moment, I want you to contemplate and think about our current education systems beginning at the point that the baby comes out of the womb all the way through high-school, through college, through graduate school.  I would like to say through death but under our current construct, we do believe that there is a point where education ends and “real life” begins.  Apparently, “real life” begins when a being has to start making a living.  Have we, as a human civilization, done everything in our power to create the best education system possible?  Are we constantly reworking  and questioning our education systems and methods to continuously improve them?  Is education our number one or even number two priority?  I’ll answer that question.  No.

Let me start at the beginning.  What type of professional help, support, and philosophy is made available to the parents of newborn beings?  What type of environment, sights, noises, foods, temperature variations, clothing, activities, are ideal not only for “a” new born, but for “each” new born – for “each” new born is truly unique.  Even identical twins have differences.  Instead of treating these little creatures like cute little stuffed animals, might we have room to start treating them like something more?  Could education in fact begin right out of the womb?  There are creatures in the natural world that learn to stand up right out of the womb, or must immediately fend for themselves as they hatch out of their eggs.  Have you ever seen those little turtles fresh out of their eggs crawling all alone on the beach to the ocean as death pounces upon them from the skies?  But what do we do with our newborns?  We stick a pacifier in their mouth and often abandon them to some half ass day care center so both parents can work — just like we abandon the old to mind numbing bingo retirement homes.  We talk to them like little puppies.  People, these are potentially powerful and creative little creatures that are soon to become both man and woman.  Is there a chance, a possibility, that we can help them along that process with more true love and admiration than that which we give to a newborn puppy or plastic doll?  Don’t misunderstand me.  Kiss them and hug them, let them know they are loved, talk to them, but talk to them like they are your equal, for one day, if they are raised properly, they will in fact be your superior.

As the young infant begins to grow, we then begin to feed them other things besides breast milk or formula.  Now we enter the world of chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, Kibble n’ Bits.  People, these little beings must be fed powerful and healthy food.  We also begin to introduce them to cartoons, stuffed animals, guns, dolls, and the list goes on.  While we feed them nuggets and mesmerize them with cartoons, we might also stuff them into day care or pre-school for eight hours.  Who makes out on this deal described above? Who is profiting by this process?  Are the kids?  Might there be some alternatives that are more in the interest of developing these little creatures into awe-inspiring beings?  Again, don’t misuderstand me.  I agree they should enjoy their childhood and have a ball, but can we make it a little more interesting and creative?

I think you get the idea so I am going to move along now to the basic school system from kindergarten through high school  — there isn’t much difference along this continuum so I can cover it with one broad stroke.  How do we select our teachers?  How much do we train, evaluate, value and pay our teachers?  How do we decide the curriculum?  What kind of school buildings do we construct and where do we build them?  What is the ideal student to teacher ratio?  How do we integrate technology into the classroom?  How do we account for differences in individuals?  What do we feed children at the schools?  How long do we keep them at school during the day?  What types of practical and community activities do the children participate in?  How often are field trips used to bring education alive?   Is the curriculum focused on getting good results on standardized tests, or on “education”?   

In my blunt opinion, the schools look and feel like prisons.  The teachers are not the crème of the crop due to low pay, lack of training, and relatively easy selection standards.  The student to teacher ratios is high.  The curriculum is wrapped around standardized tests.  Field trips are boring.  School hours are way too long.  Students do not do any practical work in the community with their hands.  Technology and exciting videos are not available or incorporated at potential.  The food sucks.  And we wonder why kids feel like they are going to work when their alarm clocks ring at 7 am?  Ok kiddies, take your SAT and off to college you go.   Go become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, software engineer, or business person.

Now, let me briefly cover college in the United States – the best “higher education” system in the world.  College is corrupted by enormous tuitions and expenses, professors that must publish or perish, time and major limitations, and fraternities and sororities that turn education into a drunken blurred orgy.  If we mix in a little football that pretty much completes the college experience.  At the end of this cycle, it is time to enter the “real world”.  The time has come to choose a career and start making the coin.  It is time for those philosophy, English, and art majors to get a life and a real job. 

Of course, others may elect to assume even more mountains of debt and go on to graduate school to become lawyers, politicians, and doctors.  If they don’t have rich parents or scholarships, they will graduate from higher education with a giant anchor of debt.  That must really inspire our best and brightest.   But no worries.  There is always a way out.  In general, the best and brightest conform and go to Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, Fortune 500 companies, and powerful law firms.  And so, the wheel keeps spinning, round and round and round.  There really isn’t another alternative – if you can’t beat them, then join them.   Of course, you could challenge the status quo and reach the pinnacle rebellious heights of geniuses like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.  These visionaries have completely altered the status quo – we no longer have to worry about debt, profit, unemployment, economic or mental depression, poverty, ignorance, over-population, environmental destruction, catastrophic war, nuclear bombs, extinction, or in short, Gridlock.  Next post will offer a potential framework for education in Generation Skip.

The “Human World” without Money, Debt, and Financial Institutions

When you look at the economic state of America, the former beacon upon a hill and economic dynamo, one cannot help but to muse about how the country has fallen so hard and so fast.  But rather than dive too deeply and get into facts and figures and economic / political theory, I want to get to the point and highlight what I think is the core problem — our creation of money, debt, and financial institutions. 

At some point in time, human civilization decided that money, pieces of paper and coins, could represent value and value created. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/history-money.html  Here is the first step we took into obscurity.  I find it very strange that a piece of paper or coin can accurately represent value.  Trade and barter made sense.  Give me your basket of fruit in exchange for my hunk of meat and we have a fair deal.  Imagine, if we could put a modern man back in time, and he was to offer a hunter a ten-dollar bill in exchange for a hunk of meat.  The hunter would look at the piece of paper and say, “what in the hell am I supposed to do with this?”  I have a broad question when it comes to assuming money has intrinsic worth.  How much money would it take to buy the sun, fresh rivers, a bountiful ocean, clean crisp air, and fertile soil?  These elements have immense value for they are the basis for life, yet we can’t put a monetary value on what they are worth — although I am sure there are some economists modeling out the worth of the elements to support the new green economy.  Good luck with those calculations. 

The next step into obscurity was the idea that the money supply could be increased or in current terms printed.  Hey, we are out of money so lets just print more.  Brilliant! There is a limited supply of gold, jewels, and goods and therefore one can make a reasonable leap of faith that these limited items could be linked in some shape or form to value.  But when you can simply print more money it obviously waters down the relationship between approximate value and true value.  At one point money was linked to the gold supply (gold standard), but apparently the powers that be didn’t like that restriction and elected to sever the relationship.  

But Man didn’t stop there.  He also came up with an even more entrepreneurial and innovative concept — the loan.  Why wait until you have earned enough money to buy this or that when you can have it today for a small monthly fee and the promise you will pay back the original amount some time in the future?  Finally, man capped it all off with the invention of financial markets.  Thus the invention of Wall Street and Investment “Bankstas”. Now you could print more money and take out a loan and then throw it all into the financial market and make more money without actually doing any work.  As long as you made a good guess where to invest your money you can hit the jack pot!.  And if your are connected and obtain inside information your chances to hit the jack pot increase.  And if you are a trader controlling huge funds and can move the market up or down with rumours or a touch of a button, your chances increase exponentially to make lots of money for doing nothing of value. 

Currently, vast amounts of money flow so fluidly and rapidly (thanks to electronic flows of money…yet another step into obsurity) through financial, business, and government institutions that nobody understands what is going on.  Watching the talking business heads on tv is a true comedy.  “Well, the Dow went down 100 points in the morning due to the debt crisis fears in Europe but rebounded in the afternoon because an article mentioned that China might step in to help stabilize Italy”.  The most comical aspect is that these talking heads  claim to understand what is going on with the economy and interpreting what is causing the stock market to go up and down on any given day probably make over six figures.  This leads me to my next point.

Money, which has a watered down assumed intrinsic worth as previously mentioned, flows rapidly to sources that we “perceive” to have value equal to that already inflated assumption of the intrinsic worth of money.  If our “perceived” value of the source receiving vast amounts of money is wrong, then we have really dug ourselves in a hole.  And I would argue that our perception of what is valuable is off-base in many cases.  From a big picture perspective, looking at the earth from space and then zooming in on our society, is a rookie NFL quarterback fresh out of college really worth $20 million?  I enjoy watching football especially college, but the amount of money we pay folks for hitting or throwing balls is out of line.  Is the latest and greatest reality star that has suddenly emerged from obscurity worth millions of dollars?  Those Jersey Shore celebs sure are valuable human beings.  I have watched the show a few times so I am guilty of increasing the net worth of these boneheads.  Is the hottest rap or pop star worth multi-million green backs?  I do think Rhianna is pretty hot.  Guilty again.

Jeff Skilling -- President Enron (currently in jail)

Was Jeff Skilling (Enron president) or Bernie Madoff ever worth the huge sums of money they earned through compensation and stock grants?  Do the top earning 20% of Americans really generate 84% of the value in America?  Are 40 million people in the United States (and 1 in 5 children) that are below the poverty line really worth what their measly earnings say they are worth or could be worth?  Clearly, something is out of whack.  And in my opinion,the distortion is caused by the possibility that our perceived value of what has value is way off base and we have made an erroneous assumption about the intrinsic value of money.  Combine the above flaws with loans, debt, and financial speculation and you have a house of cards and misallocated “wealth”.  Two movies worth watching on this topic are “The Smartest Guys in the Room” (documentary on Enron implosion) and “Too Big to Fail” (the mortgage-backed security frenzy).

But what would we do without money, loans, credit, debt, banks, Wall Street, and Investment “Bankstas”?  How would society function?  This may come as a surprise, but every society on this planet, excluding the “Human World”, operates without money and the related baggage.  And man himself at one point operated without money.  In every other society on Earth, including the Apex species, value is pretty clear and money has no meaning or intrinsic worth.  And there certainly aren’t any problems with “perceived” value.  The currency in all other societies on earth is energy.  Some of the more advanced societies combine their energy via cooperation to obtain one of the ultimate valuable prizes — food.  They also work together for protection and ultimately survival.  And many of these societies have been around much longer than ourselves. 

Imagine the sense of freedom these apex predators enjoy without money and particularly debt!  But their societies aren’t free from stress or hardship.  If the society or individual doesn’t find food, they die.  No one is going to come to their aid.  But that doesn’t mean that these apex predators don’t find time for fun or enjoy being alive.  The bond between members of these societies is strong for without each other it would be a very lonely and dangerous world.  Not all members of these societies are treated completely equal — Only the lucky few earn mating rights through various competitions and the prize certainly has value and a bit of pleasure!  Although some inequality exists, they each play a crucial part such that the whole has access to the fruits earned through cooperation.  Of course we would be in position to adapt lessons from these societies because we have an opposable thumb, a large brain, and free hands since we walk upright.  We have the power to create and manipulate the environment around us.  All we need to do is define true value, define our missions, use our brains, thumbs, free hands, and spend our currency (our energy) to make it happen. 

Otherwise, the vast majority of us will remain like domesticated pigeons huddling together looking up at the few fortunate hawks.