What’s Wrong With Education (And How Can We Fix It?)

Mark Fischler Cognitive, Education, Emotional, Ethical, Integral Justice Warrior, Video 9 Comments

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Broken education produces broken people. How can integral perspectives and practices help our education systems generate more happy, healthy, and wholesome kids?

It’s hard to think of anyone better to talk to about this issue than Mark Fischler, who has deep familiarity with the educational system (both as a professor and as a father), with the justice system, and with integral theory itself.

Mark and I take a close look at the many dysfunctions, injustices, and failures we see in our education system — both within the system (how and what kids are being taught) as well as surrounding the system (access to education, funding, etc.).

What should our educational systems be teaching? When we take an integral view, we can see how many different kinds of intelligence our kids are engaged with, all of which we want to help support in our children, both at home and at school:

  • Cognitive intelligence (math, science, literature, etc.)
  • Creative and aesthetic intelligence (art, music, etc.)
  • Interpersonal intelligence (kindness, empathy, tolerance, etc.)
  • Intrapersonal intelligence (self-care, self-knowledge, etc.)
  • Emotional intelligence (social emotional learning, etc.)
  • Psychosexual intelligence (sex education)
  • Kinesthetic intelligence (physical education)
  • Moral/ethical intelligence (worldcentric standards of right/wrong)
  • Self-identity intelligence (“Who am I?”)
  • Spiritual intelligence (“What is my ultimate concern?”)

We can also see the importance of the multiple stages of development that all of these different kinds of intelligence grow through over the course of our children’s educational tract, and how these things always need to be taught in a developmentally-appropriate way. We can see the many dysfunctions that can come with launching our kids into Orange self-authoring stages of development within a deconstructed Green environment, without first providing solid Amber foundations for each of these different kinds of intelligence.

Mark and Corey also discuss some of our current cultural controversies, such as the role of “parents’ rights” when it comes to determining what should or shouldn’t be taught to our kids. We then explore some possible solutions for our most wicked educational problems, including a reconstituted role for integral guidance counsellors, who would essentially become as a central integral axle running through the many spokes of our education system — essentially academic “life coaches” that can track kids’ progress in these multiple intelligences over multiple years, who can ensure that they are being supported and challenged in whatever developmental lines they excel in, and who can provide suggestions, resources, and interventions for kids who get “stuck” in any of these lines.

It was a tremendously rich and warm-hearted conversation, and we hope you let us know what you think in the comments below.

Note: This episode was recorded in the weeks before the tragic events of Uvalde, Texas, which thoroughly shattered all our hearts, and which we are each and all mourning in our own way. While it remains virtually impossible to wrap our hearts and heads fully around such magnitudes of suffering, it nonetheless makes integral discussions such as these feel that much more urgent, and deepens the commitment Mark and I share to both pursue and enact integral justice however and wherever we can.

The tragedy in Uvalde requires a multiperspectival deep dive to bring clarity and right action. Recognizing we don’t have easy answers is part of it. That shouldn’t freeze us, but create a fierce urgency to get it right. Where do we go? Start with creating an ethics of care.Mark Fischler

If you enjoy this episode, be sure to check out more episodes of Integral Justice Warrior. Watch them all for only $1!

Written and produced by Corey deVos


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Mark Fischler

About Mark Fischler

Mark Fischler is a Professor of Criminal justice and current program coordinator for the criminal justice and criminology programs at Plymouth State University. Prior to joining the Plymouth State faculty, he practiced law, representing poor criminal defendants for the New Hampshire Public Defender’s Office. Mark has worked extensively with alternative theoretical models in law, constitutional law, and higher education, and has published on integral applications to teaching, being a lawyer, and legal theory. His focus in the classroom is ethics and criminal procedure, and is well respected for a teaching philosophy that emphasizes recognizing the humanity and dignity of each student. Professor Fischler was awarded the outstanding teaching award at his university in 2014. He currently offers a weekly Spiritual Inquiry class through Satya Yoga Studio.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of KenWilber.com. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.

Notable Replies

  1. I’m wondering if this might be related to a comment I made in another thread about the difference between vertical “structure” development (such as the stages of cognitive intelligence) and horizontal “content” development (which is kind of how I visualize “scientific intelligence”). As I mentioned in that thread, we expect all structures to start at square one, but not necessarily the content — we wouldn’t expect a scientist to have to learn alchemy before chemistry, for example.

    So “scientific intelligence” would be the various insights, methodologies, and artifacts produced by cognitive intelligence as applied to the natural world, as enacted by each stage of development (amber science, orange science, green science, etc.)

  2. Most everything you wrote here is above my head, so forgive me if this is irrelevant. This may be more of a UL UR inquiry, but I too am very interested in the state/stage relationship to learning and development. My daughter has a “learning disorder” and it always seems very complicated and no “experts” can give me any clear answers.

    What’s interesting to me is in the battery of testing I have done what I have learned that no one knows how to address, is her waking mind rest is Theta and not Alpha. From integral we know that Theta corresponds to the dream/subtle state and this seems very consistent to her behavior. In online research, this is also consistent with many diagnosed with ADHD, one of her many diagnoses.

    Her gifts are also consistent with, what I view, as theta. I think if we could look more at the relationship of state/stage structures it might be very helpful. I wonder about difficulty “shifting states” as an issue for many. That is her issue and it’s why ADHD medication helps. It’s so counter intuitive to think giving a child stimulants will help with ADHA, but what it does is “wake the brain up” like your morning coffee, it’s speeds the transition. My daughter did not respond well to ADHD meds, they caused anxiety, because theta is also the state of mediation, calming. She really likes hanging out in theta.

    I also can see friends who have kids with issues where they may be stuck in beta too much. If we have people stage developing mostly in the theta state, that will look different that someone who develops mostly in beta/alpha state. I wonder about cultures too that have strong theta practices vs beta.

    I just think it’s interesting and the issue really needs integral voices/study to more fully understand.

  3. integral perspectives and conversations even more rewarding, because they help me enact her kosmic address more fully

    For sure! I love her theta mind, I think it’s a gift.

    Good to know about CBT, I think that’s what we are looking into this summer. Everything is so specialized right now I can never figure out exactly what’s what, but mostly in a good way. Many people here are integrally combining several approaches. I will ask more directed questions about it now.

    We have tried some state training to not much success but I have been thinking about binaural beats. Music is her thing so I think she will respond better to it than mindfulness practices.

    She is 14 now. I think she is ready for more intensive work. She has very early childhood trauma folded in there too, so the balancing act between focus and anxiety is dicey. But I am so grateful for the integral approach that allowed me to quickly see the gifts of her brain function.

  4. Me too :slight_smile:

    As I sometimes like to say, Integral helps us see more of each other — and when we can see more, we can love more. Here’s to your integral love :heart:

    Music is her thing so I think she will respond better to it than mindfulness practices.

    Oh, then I think binaruals will be PERFECT for her. There are some exceptionally beautiful ones out there, aesthetically speaking. Be sure to check out the selection from our friends over at iAwake. If you have any questions, I am sure @john_dupuy would be happy to answer them for you :slight_smile:

  5. I was wondering about any trauma in her history, Michelle, as those theta states are pretty common to psychological dissociation which is common to some forms of trauma.

    From my orientation, I would have a tendency to think in terms of encouraging both physical and subtle energy body grounding, while also providing outlets and means for intentional use of the theta state.

    You’re probably well-attuned to much of this anyway, but I would just mention things like a grounding diet (lots of root vegetables and animal protein if tolerated and within your ethics) and plenty of outdoor activity that is deeply connective to the earth. Dancing too. Old native thing: cornmeal rubs on the full body after bathing. (Asian version: warm sesame oil full-body self-massages, including soles of feet and scalp, then bathing).

    Also, somatic-imagery exercises that work directly to send one’s subtle energy deeply into the earth (e.g. imagine you’re a tree, sense your roots growing way down deep into the earth; things of this ilk.)

    Drawing, art, and intentional use of imagery while in theta state also, and the binaural beats Corey mentioned.

    And an old shamanic technique–saying one’s own name a lot! Particularly repeating it right before going to sleep–then paying attention to dreams!

    Bless you and your daughter.

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