Some ideas that I’ve been developing…

Separation of Powers in Education, Cognitive Competencies, Selective Reinforcement of Spontaneous Behaviour and Open-Hearted Relationships of Unconditional Love… they’re all “hobby horses” that I have ranted on about from time to time, yet I haven’t always explored them as much or taken them as far as I could.

Separation of Powers in Education: A pillar of the Rule of Law is the separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. In the same way, I believe that such a separation would benefit education. Let us have one body that defines the desired learning outcomes, another body responsible for assessing performance against those outcomes and a separate domain for those who prepare the learners for the assessments offered. This would necessitate clear and specific definitions of the desired learning outcomes that would – I believe – be facilitated through cognitive competencies.

Cognitive Competencies: What is an MBA worth? What about a law degree? Heck, what does it mean to get an “A” for maths? Much education is focused on measurements devoted to delivering a matriculation score – a measure that has enough superficial validity to permit discrimination between students. Yet they usually don’t mean very much.

Learning outcomes are so ill-defined that we resort to relying upon the tacit knowledge of our educators to transform them into something useful. Fortunately, this has worked adequately. However, with increasing competition, it is about time that we replaced this centuries-old process with a measurement of the mental operations that we want to see developed. Firstly for the sake of the students: Let them focus their energies upon correcting their mistakes rather than spending endless hours not really knowing what they need to work on. But also for our society, so that we can fast-track prodigous learners towards more suitable challenges and more effectively direct the energies of our teachers and our students.

Selective Reinforcement of Spontaneous Behaviour: My concept of ‘genius’ is that individuals exhibit a large range of behaviours, some of which are reinforced; reinforcement leads to the development of clusters of skills that tend to work together to create talents and, especially when developed early, the development of an identity that works to offer a sustainable advantage.

For example, I learnt to perform split-attention tasks and to work quickly when I was doing my homework on my lap inside my tidybox in primary school (since if I did ‘homework’ at school, I didn’t have to do it at home!) – a spontaneous behaviour – and kept doing it because the first few times I received the reward (free time) without punishment (being told not to do it – as I was later, though largely ignored having experienced the reward!). Very small shifts yield massive long-term changes…

Open-Hearted Relationships of Unconditional Love: Intimate relationships take many forms, but one of the most challenging is where two people come together in a spirit of openness and complete acceptance of each other and themselves. These tend to bring out the greatest challenges and fears of each, but in the context of the safety that comes from knowing that the other is committed to staying ‘in the room’ and seeing through whatever ups and downs might happen along the way. Where one of the relationship feels attracted to someone outside of the relationship, that attraction is brought up and discussed, with a view to understanding the nature of that attraction – rather than denying that attraction – and by doing so, allow for the embracement of the whole of the other person and a fuller appreciation of oneself.

I am considering writing further on these, though have been thinking or writing about them since at least 2003. Let me know if you’re interested… I like encouragement 🙂

One comment on “Some ideas that I’ve been developing…

  1. Hi Dan

    When you mention cognitive competencies, I have just completed the Dore Program and I am finding that it is helping me with developing this as more neuro pathways are opening up than before. It is like the world around me I have never seen before is now opening up before my eyes. So much before that was unnoticed. Although not all entirely relevant to your post, I just had to mention this. I wish you luck with your insight into this area and hope all goes well for you.


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