It's your world to shape

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Slides delivered by John Abbott in a lecture tour of British Columbia, Canada in May 2013.

Transcript of It's your world to shape

  • 1. The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.orgHow to use this presentation;The set of slides which follow form the basis for some 18presentations made in British Columbia in the latter part of April2013.Those with an asterisk were sometimes missed out, and those fromnumber 69 onwards were selectively used depending on the interestsof the audience.Slides 1 16 form a personal introduction.Slides 17 34 provide a summary of the brain as a learning organismSlides 35 48 show the relationship between culture and nurtureSlides 49 51 show the conflict between natural learning and political expectationsSlides 52 58 explore the political dilemmaSlides 59 to whatever point the presentation ends including the reserve slidesNb. Slides 2, 65 and 66 are embedded animations, each of which needs a second clickto activate

2. British ColumbiaApril,2013John Abbott, President, The 21st Century Learning InitiativeIts your world to shape, notjust to take.1The 21st Century Learning Initiative 3. 2The 21st Century Learning Initiative 4. We have not inherited this worldfrom our parents,we have been loaned it by ourchildren.Chief Seatle : late 19th centuryThe 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.org3 5. The task is not so much to see whatno one has yet seen, but to thinkwhat nobody yet has thought aboutthat which everybody sees.Schopenhauer, 1788-18604 6. What do you think you see?5 7. The Troubled World of 2013 There are now two and a half times as many people on the Earths surfaceas when I was born just before the outbreak of World War Two. At the most recent count, about 7,000 people (One hundred millionth of theworlds population) owns more than over 3 billion people, (just under half thepopulation). 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. The richest 20% of the worlds population receives 75% of the worldsincome while the poorest 40% receive only 5% or the worlds income. Of the worlds largest 150 economic entities, 95 are corporations (63.3%).Wal-Mart, with revenue of $287.99 billion, is the largest corporation onthe planet, and ranks number 22 on the list. The United States is theworlds largest economy with a total economic output in 2004 of$11,667,515,000,000.The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.orgA7 8. David Suzuki, internationally renowned British Columbian geneticist andenvironmentalist, born 1936......believes that human intelligence and foresight got us into our present pickle byenabling us to invent such efficient ways of exploiting Nature that our populationgrowth went into overdrive. Now human intelligence and foresight are all we canrely on to see us through the tight bottleneck we are fast approaching thatnarrowing chasm where far too many people are faced with far too little food and,very possibly, far too little air.The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.org8 9. If civilisation is to survive itmust live on the interest, notthe capital, of nature.Ecological markers suggestthat in the early 1960s, humans wereusing 70% of natures yearly output; bythe early 1980s wed reached 100%; andin 1999 we were at 125%Ronald WrightA Short History of Progress (2004)9 10. We each see the world from our own perspective.The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.orgAnd did those feet in ancient time.Walk upon Englands mountains green:And was the holy Lamb of God,On Englands pleasant pastures seen!Here is mine:my parents grew up in middleEngland in the 20s and 30sI was born as Britain wentto war with Germany andbombs fell near my home10 11. My adolescence, and the developmentof a Broad MindThe essential skill is to develop the ability to learn.However you cant learn how to learn withoutlearning something. It is much easier to measurewhat you have learnt than it is to measure how youlearnt it... Examination results alone dont prove thatyou can think straight.The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.orgDerek Pitt, Teacher in the 1950s of A Level History and English, akeen musician and student of Medieval Art and cricket coachThe roots of civilisation are twelveinches deep; discuss(Oxbridge Scholarship question)12 12. University, and the enthusiasm tocreate a better worldRhumexpedition1959Gometraexpedition1962University Maiden Eight 1961The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.org14 13. From leader of expeditions to beinga HeadmasterThe 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.org16 14. So began my search to understandhuman learningThe 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.org17 15. The human race is theplanets pre-eminent learningspecies it is our brains thatgive us our superiority, notour muscles.The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.org18 16. The 21st Century Learning InitiativeThe Initiative will facilitate the emergence of newapproaches to learning that draw upon a rangeof insights into the human brain, thefunctioning of human societies, and learning asa community-wide activity.Washington DC1995 onwardsThe 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.org19 17. The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.orgOver 800 lecturesin over 40 countries20 18. The Descent of MankindStudies in genetics suggest that the split with the GreatApes occurred seven million years ago. At twenty years toa generation that is three hundred and fifty thousandgenerations ago, at a minute a generation, this isequivalent to the minutes we are, on average, awake forin a year.In all that time the genetic structure of us humans differsfrom the Great apes by less than 2%.Stone Age Man, on this scale, appeared 60 hours (two anda half days), while Modern Man, Homo Sapiens appearedsome thirty hours ago, inAfrica, or equivalent to one and a halfdays ago.Each of us is a result of all that evolution.The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.org21 19. Mothers and babies need protection for years hence the need for long term bonding.The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.org23 20. The growth of synapses during the first6 monthsThe 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.orgNot until the child isabout three years olddoes its brain reach 95%of structural completion(that does not mean ithas finished its growth -far from it for further development involvesremoving part of the young brain to enable it tobecome more complex)24 21. Tell me and I forget;show me and Iremember; let me do,and I understand.Confucius, 551-479 BCThe 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.orgHow do we learn?25 22. The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.orgProbably the earliestrepresentation of intellectualthought was the boneuncovered in France some 15years ago, covered with a seriesof images that archaeologistsand astrophysicists haveidentified as the phases of themoon over a number of nightsas observed from that latitude32,000 years ago (c. 1,600generations back.26 23. Babylonian Mathematicians5,500 years ago (c. 270generations ago)The mathematics of space:60 seconds to a minute,60 minutes to a degree,360 degrees to a circle...The 21st Century Learning Initiative 27 24. Polynesia...together with their understandingof the different ocean currentscontaining waters of significantlydifferent temperature and shoals ofdifferent kinds of fish. The skill to dothis is something modern man canonly wonder at...Apparently the islands ofPolynesia began to becolonised some 1500 yearsago by people who navigatedentirely on their ability to usethe stars as a chart...The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.org28 25. Evolution in BrainUntil the early 19th Century the very best estimateof the age of the earth had been made in the mid17th Century which had calculated from the book ofGenesis that the earth had been formed at 4pm onthe 22nd October 4,004 BC. Findings in geology inthe late 18th Century suggested that it really had tobe several million years ago.Sixty years later in The Origin of Species, Darwinsaid, it is not the strongest of the species thatsurvives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one mostadaptable to change.Biology at the time lacked any technology thatenabled it to study the structure of the brain at ascale which could show synaptic development. ButDarwin guessed, psychology will be based on anew foundation, that of the necessary requirementof each mental power and capacity by gradation(evolution). Light will [then] be thrown on theorigins of Man and his history.The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.org29 26. Human beings did not fall readymade from the sky. Many of ourabilities and susceptibilities arespecific adaptations to ancientenvironmental problems ratherthan separate manifestations of ageneral intelligence for allseasons. (Barrow, 1996)The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.orgThe human mind is better equipped to gatherinformation about the world by operating within itthan by reading about it, hearing lectures on it, orstudying abstract models of it. (Santa Fee Institute, 1995)Now, in 2013, we understand...31 27. Historical evidence is plentiful forthe first couple of hundred years,then rapidly diminishes. At the5,000 year mark visible recordsdisappear altogether. At the15,000 year stage humans beganto settle down. Go back to the50,000 year mark and it seemedthat our slowly evolving ancestorsstarted to show the first signs ofmodern human behaviour.The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.org32 28. The 21st Century Learning Initiative -www.21learn.orgThree different traditions1) The Judaic-Christian tradition of self improvement, the Book ofEcclesiastes says, of the writing of books there is no end, andmuch study wearies the mind (approximately 800BC)2) Platonic Thought proposed that philosophers and rulers wereborn with gold in their blood, warriors were born with silver intheir blood and farmers and labourers were born with lead. Hebelieved that n