Sunday, May 13, 2018

Dueling Experiences Part lll: The Educational-Psychology Structures Where Teaching for Artistic Behavior Programs Exist.

Forty six percent of children in the United States under the age of 17 have experienced the marital divorce of their parents. While divorce can be an amicable process between married adults, for the child it is a time filled with immense anxiety. Many marriages are filled with dysfunction and that seriously complicates matters for the child. Emotional abuse, physical abuse, poverty, parental rejection, food insecurity, shelter insecurity, substance abuse and other genetic and environmental conditions outside the child's control impact levels of anxiety, stress, cognitive functioning and emotional receptivity to learning. Consider also that school systems are designed for efficiency, to mass produce standardized experience, an experience that externally tasks and controls children to move through a sequence of activities motivated via rewards and punishments. In radical behaviorist learning structures, administrators control thought and action. The organism is not in control. In K-12 learning experiences within schools, children are instructed what to do, thinking is managed by a daily schedule, thoughts and action incessantly prompted, controlled and monitored.

Is it possible that tightly structured radical behaviorist learning experiences might cause adverse neurological deficits of at-risk children affecting their emotional and intellectual maturation?

Children of divorced parents are at-risk from many forms of trauma. I won't get into the painful details of my own childhood experience, but I think often about students in my own classes who may be experiencing similar situations.  Shouldn't school be a sanctuary for children? Shouldn't the school's mission be to provide optimal learning experience, ameliorate psycho-emotional pain while the child is in the care of the school and expand consciousness and intellectual capacity? What I experienced as a child and observe today is that K-12 curricula experiences create additional pressure on the child because the school's mission is to imprint upon that child what the state values. What does the state value? The state values children who score well on timed, high stakes standardized tests, the content of which the teacher nor the child control. This situation guarantees that teachers of tested subjects must hurry children through a state mandated curricula employing radical behaviorist instructional practices.

Considering the mind, it is the single most important entity in the process of education. Looking at reams and reams of state and corporate sponsored documents and literature prescribing standardized content and best teaching practices, I have not once, viewed language from any state department of education document that defines the human mind or provides a description of the process of learning. This is a critical shortcoming of state sponsored departments of education because the mind and the process of learning at a fundamental level is physiological. Learning that lasts a lifetime, does not occur because the teacher is an expert at classroom management or instructional techniques, but results from a multiplicity of factors that takes into account a child's executive functioning capacity.

Despite authorization as a safe space by the state for the purpose of education, school can be an intensely difficult place for children.  In particular, how does the school ameliorate the emotional trauma children experience when their parents marriage's dissolve into a dysfunctional state of disunion. Divorce in the United States is a societal affliction that affects nearly
50% of all marriages.  Because large percentages of children already come to school having experienced violence and dehumanization within their family situation, classroom experience related to an explicit and prescriptive curriculum that has nothing to do with the child's current crisis state, exacerbates psycho-somatic maladies brought on by the parents divorce.  For educators, school counselors or administrators to make the pronouncement that children of divorce are plucky,  resourceful and over time will "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" while resuming regularly scheduled standardized test-driven curricula is totally inadequate as an educational intervention. The curricula should buoy the child during this traumatic time. The curricula should capture the child's imagination and serve as more than a work experience. The curricula should in and of itself  ameliorate any emotional distress the child is experiencing. The act of learning and the act of study should not be a rigorous chore, but a profound, self-sustaining spiritual experience. Creative learning experiences that compels a child to continue to pursue learning without the teacher's prompting are the experiences I regularly observe in my TAB classrooms.

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