Interdisciplinary, Countercultural Learning thoughts


One of my social networks reminded me of this post that I had shared a year ago today. As DAVIDE ‘FOLLETTO’ CASALI, the author of the post, notes that this concept resonates with him, it resonates with me as well. This quote was noteworthy:  “It’s interesting to note how could also happen that a Shu learner could think of being at the Ri stage, thus falling in the usual Dunning-Kruger effect, failing to recognize one’s own skill level, thus trying to break the rule too soon.”

Source: Shuhari: a mental model for the phases of mastery · Intense Minimalism

The author also follows up with this article, Shuhari is about master-apprentice, not solo learning.

The two posts are useful together. I find that this mental model for phases of mastery can inform teachers and learning leaders. I wonder how it can be used in teacher preparation in order to focus discussion around mastery and other education goals. I also imagine Shuhari can help direct life-long learners in the use of mentors and reference materials and other resources. The Eastern Thought cred can be exploited since some tend to assume that Eastern philosophies are historically older and more mature than American philosophies and traditions. This Far Eastern-philism (love for things far eastern) has been noted and lampooned in viral posts on social networks.

These are some examples:

If the Chinese tattooed lame English words on themselves.

A Ga. School Bans The Greeting ‘Namaste.’ Do They Know What It Means?

Articles like these help remind me not to use terms in public if I don’t know what them mean. It also reminds me of the time I used a slang term that did NOT mean what I thought it meant. (“Chicken-head,” for example, is not a term for a female gossiper. Trust me on this.) Trying to be “hip” and “with-it” usually doesn’t work out too well no matter how “cool” you think you are.

I don’t know why Eastern thought is so powerful to me, but many Westerners, especially Americans in the United States, reveal interests in (Far) Eastern philosophies. This is a trend that extends decades back into American history, at least in popular fiction, probably due to American involvement in World Wars I and II. Numbers of creatives, for various reasons, have consumed traditional aspects of Chinese, Japanese, and Indian religion and philosophies in the form of martial arts, fashion, religious beliefs, cuisine, and approaches to life and aesthetics.

Trying to think from another’s perspective generates many insights into our own beliefs and practices. The Other reveals our blindness and illuminates. Similar insights are achieved when traveling to foreign countries and in finding ways to engage with people living there.

I’m not even sure if Aikido counts as an Eastern martial art. In Wikipedia, an author explains:

“Ueshiba developed aikido primarily during the late 1920s through the 1930s through the synthesis of the older martial arts that he had studied.[10] The core martial art from which aikido derives is Daitō-ryū aiki-jūjutsu, which Ueshiba studied directly with Takeda Sōkaku, the reviver of that art. Additionally, Ueshiba is known to have studied Tenjin Shin’yō-ryū with Tozawa Tokusaburō in Tokyo in 1901, Gotōha Yagyū Shingan-ryū under Nakai Masakatsu in Sakai from 1903 to 1908, and judo with Kiyoichi Takagi (高木 喜代子 Takagi Kiyoichi, 1894–1972) in Tanabe in 1911.[11]

Not that I don’t believe that someone from an Eastern civilization created this martial art. It’s just that, for some reason, I am troubled by the possibility that it is “less eastern” than the martial arts created for self-defense. My suspicions are shared with aikido critics:

“The most common criticism of aikido is that it suffers from a lack of realism in training. The attacks initiated by uke (and which tori must defend against) have been criticized as being “weak,” “sloppy,” and “little more than caricatures of an attack.”[46][47] Weak attacks from uke allow for a conditioned response from tori, and result in underdevelopment of the skills needed for the safe and effective practice of both partners.[46] To counteract this, some styles allow students to become less compliant over time but, in keeping with the core philosophies, this is after having demonstrated proficiency in being able to protect themselves and their training partners. Shodokan Aikido addresses the issue by practising in a competitive format.[19] Such adaptations are debated between styles, with some maintaining that there is no need to adjust their methods because either the criticisms are unjustified, or that they are not training for self-defense or combat effectiveness, but spiritual, fitness or other reasons.[48]

“Another criticism pertains to the shift toward ki as the focus of training. After the end of Ueshiba’s seclusion in Iwama from 1942 to the mid-1950s, he increasingly emphasized the spiritual and philosophical aspects of aikido. As a result, strikes to vital points by tori, entering (irimi) and initiation of techniques by tori, the distinction between omote (front side) and ura (back side) techniques, and the use of weapons, were all de-emphasized or eliminated from practice. Some Aikido practitioners feel that lack of training in these areas leads to an overall loss of effectiveness.[49]

“Conversely, some styles of aikido receive criticism for not placing enough importance on the spiritual practices emphasized by Ueshiba. According to Minoru Shibata of Aikido Journal, “O-Sensei’s aikido was not a continuation and extension of the old and has a distinct discontinuity with past martial and philosophical concepts.”[50] That is, that aikido practitioners who focus on aikido’s roots in traditional jujutsu or kenjutsu are diverging from what Ueshiba taught. Such critics urge practitioners to embrace the assertion that “[Ueshiba’s] transcendence to the spiritual and universal reality were the fundamentals [sic] of the paradigm that he demonstrated.”[50]

In these reflections, it can be valuable to note the questions that emerge.

Why does the authenticity of Eastern philosophy matter? Shouldn’t a resonating thought matter for its own sake?

What is the value of a martial art that is “not training for self-defense or combat effectiveness, but spiritual, fitness or other reasons.[48]?”

The answers to these questions depend on the learner’s goals. The answers also depend on the learner’s thinking skills. For me though, as I learn more about dignity and its history, and learn about the tripartite domains of mind, I have broadened my understanding of what “thought” can be.


Building the Ideal Skill Set for 21st Century Employment –


Businesses have learned that they need to be flexible, adaptable, embrace diverse perspectives, and need to have people who are willing and able to incorporate the latest technologies on the fly. All of these factors create a disconnect between university education, which largely does not emphasize these skills and abilities, and the needs of students entering the workplace. Whether you are pursuing a career in retail management, real estate, hospitality management, or fashion this post will help you understand the most fundamental 21st Century skills necessary to be successful in life and your career, and guide you in acquiring them.

via Building the Ideal Skill Set for 21st Century Employment –

via Building the Ideal Skill Set for 21st Century Employment –

A broken system | The Economist


Nicaragua’s police force is in danger of giving socialism a good name. The country is one of the poorest in the hemisphere. Yet its annual murder rate, 11 per 100,000 people, is among the lowest in Latin America and eight times lower than in neighbouring Honduras (see map).

This article should be explored as a contribution to the debate on Justice systems–criminal justice and the penal system. It might be seen as an argument against the politically conservative attitudes toward criminals. To develop a more sophisticated argument, narratives and case studies should be found and used.

On the other hand, the same article presents cases that support aggressive approaches against crime, like Rio de Janeiro’s “pacification policy”, in addition to progressive approaches that include education and social programs.

via A broken system | The Economist.

via A broken system | The Economist.

Reforming the Teaching History Then and Now (Part 1)


Versions of the Flag

This is a powerful blog I had found after I read about the School As Factory Metaphor article by Larry Cuban that was shared by David Franklin, Ed.D. It’s part of a series of observations that Larry Cuban is using for a forthcoming book.

The article itself explores the different philosophies behind the teaching of history. One powerful point was the distinction: “commemorative version of the past—the familiar “heritage” view–rather than one where students apply historical thinking.”

This is something that indicates that there are powerful narratives driving Conservative Thought that is different from the Academic/Progressive Thought that drives some of the subversive Education Reform Thought.

Those thinkers who are familiar with Duckworth/Bandura’s grit and perseverance studies and Carol Dweck’s Mindset studies and the promotion of the “open mindset” will take issue with a “curriculum focus on successes, achievements, and ideals, on stories designed to infuse young Americans with patriotism and sentiments of loyalty toward prevailing institutions, traditions, and values”.

This kind of curriculum would deny and reject failure and hard work as a factor in success. It also undermines the historical importance of collaboration, communication, problem solving processes, and political processes driving American history and accomplishment. This is a promotion of learning facts rather than encouraging individual thought and inquiry. This “heritage view” of history promotes dogma and the memorizing of dogma. Not to mention, the curriculum promotes a lie.

Secondary School history teachers should offer this article and others from this series to promote discussions in the classroom about the politics of education and learning. It can also explore the meaning of dogma and can explore the importance of “multiple perspectives” to approach truth.

This article can also help with faculty in schools pursuing reform. Some of the educators may believe in the “heritage view” of history education but may not have understood how destructive it can be for lifelong learning goals. Education impacts attitudes and mindsets of students as well as educators.

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

The following posts are drawn from my forthcoming book on “Teaching History Then and Now: Stability and Change in Urban High Schools” (Harvard Education Press). If readers want specific citations and pages for quotes, contact me and I will send them the citations.

Both participants and researchers have told the story behind the 1995 U.S. Senate vote of 99-1 in favor of a resolution condemning new history standards produced by historians, curriculum specialists, and teachers.

Senator Slade Gorton (WA) summed up the essence of the conflict over what content from the past should students learn by asking his colleagues:

Is it a more important part of our Nation’s history for our children to study—George Washington or Bart Simpson?….With this set of standards, our students will not be expected to know George Washington from the man in the Moon. According to this set of standards, American democracy rests on the same…

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