Human Fission and the Worst Thing a Teacher Can Do
What can we learn from physics and how energy works to inform teaching and learning? Apparently, a lot.
For example, did you know that the production of energy requires a base between the two poles in order to create an electrical flow? This is frequently left out of scientific thinking, but it’s the truth. You can’t just have two opposing magnetic poles sitting out in space with no grounding element that provides the interjection of space. Let’s pretend the base is the institution. You know, a place to go to everyday, register, and a path to follow of courses. Then we have one pole, the “negative” charged element and the other pole, the “positive” charge. That’s probably the teacher who knows things. The student is the one who is supposed to know nothing. The nothing side of the energy dynamic must know nothing or there is no flow of energy, because two identical poles, like permanent magnets, would not generate energy but push apart.
However, any motor based on permanent magnets is static and will never work.
The problem lies in the nature of permanency. Magnetism needs to change at a dynamic rate to get a flow in both directions and drive an engine rotor. The current flow, and the magnetic polarization is controlled so the rotor or stator can attract and then repel at the right moment to achieve rotation.
By deduction, then, the worst thing a teacher can do is pretend to know everything all the time. The best teachers know nothing some of the time and discover from students new things while portraying astonished merriment at their brilliance. This creates the dynamic interchange that runs the engine of achievement. Perhaps you think this is an odd interplay of physics with human behavior, but humans themselves are electrical entities. Just scuff your feet while wearing socks sometime and go touch a television or anything metal. You’ll see the spark come from you as you ground to the object.
It would also be the worst thing for a school to pretend to set all the rules, to enforce them, to quartile time for students down to the minute, to enforce their bodily position in a seat, to indicate when to move along with schedules and ringing bells, and to be immutable on what subjects and what culture envelopes the body of students and administration. The reason
s is knowing everything and setting all the rules leaves the student with these choices:
- To know nothing as the rightful position opposing the teacher so the teacher can remain as the one who knows everything. This is role adoption. It’s also a mainstay of why students can memorize and instantly after usefulness, forget it all. The knowledge is not “theirs,” it is merely a temporary and statically floating copy like the energy build-up in your body while scuffing your feet across the floor before touching a grounding element. Once used on a test (or touching the TV), the spark is spent and disappears. No permanent storage in a fat cell or neuron seems to occur. The knowledge is someone else’s and so also remains with them, there, in that classroom and in that building. This is why testing in the same room with the teacher hovering close by is a literal no-brainer. Associative memory is a thing.
- The choice , as a student, to also set no self-rules or enforce any since that is the rightful position opposing the administration who is doing it all for them. This is a mainstay of why students graduate incapable of self-governance and many express little agency even while in school. It’s a giant built-in down-side to the current manufacturing style of learning institutions.
Another Physics Deeper Why
Physics has a lot more to say about human nature that can be extrapolated to teaching and learning and more.
Humans, incredibly, react out of a sense of personal survival in all environments. This invariable is akin to the scientific constants concerning the reaction of the elements. As actual independent beings, when humans are grouped into conglomerates in a sort of attempted nuclear fusion, and managers of those groups generalize them into vague clumps with labels, they will especially work to portray an independent identity. They heat-up like elements put under pressure, pinging around seeking doors or windows out. Fusion takes a lot of energy, in other words, and is known as an inefficient process to attempt to generate more energy than is put in -- unless you’re on the scale of the Sun. Then fusion works, but pretty much only then in nature.
For humans to fuse and become “one” with the all-ness-of-mind of their betters, to know all that they know, is contrary to both human physical form and mental capacity. A fusion of all thought to sync exactly with the thought leadership of educators is an act of trying to have all those young minds come into total agreement and sameness. The age disparity alone predisposes that this act of nuclear fusion is a costly and inefficient gambit. The element of the children’s youth is predisposed to operating at a higher energy frequency, for example. Perhaps that is why in ages past, teachers deputized younger students who taught even-younger students in a sort of pyramidical scheme. It was less exhausting for the adults and required fewer of them.
The overwhelming force of an adult over a child does cause obedience and also mimicry. Children do try to fuse. This is perhaps why we see some students become teachers’ pets and even dress like their teacher, those are the ones that have fused. Most children will mimic spoken words before they know the meaning, another visible attempt at coming into agreement and fusing. Yet to have total mind-melding sameness and enter into total agreement seems a bit much. To become fused with a whole takes an enormous amount of energy, just as nuclear fusion takes an injection of energy in order to cause any release of new energy and is iffy to do even that. Only certain densities of elements will give a net release of energy upon being fused, others give none or do the opposite, suck in more energy. We’ve all seen this disparity among students, who could be said to represent different elements because they are uniquely themselves.
Fission on the other hand, is the splitting apart of atomic particles into smaller ones and releases an amazing amount of energy. It seeks ever-more minute individualized bits. Could this be why there is a natural inclination to want personalized learning rather than a manufacturing-line sort of standardization in learning? Could it be that a focus on splitting apart and apart-from releases more learning and agency? There are certainly a lot of homeschooling parents who have found this to be true for some of their children. Teachers who find the time to actually personalize learning see great results. For a long time, the issue has been that they are in certain lanes of classes and grades, and many students are riding along in the wrong lanes so true personalization has been enormously difficult to try to track and manage.
It’s interesting to note that human fission can be seen in many areas of life already. When you separate-out from a stressful situation or relationship, you will typically feel an enormous release of energy and relief. You’ve “escaped,” or reached the end-of-game winner’s circle and the stress is off. Youth attempt this fission by separating themselves from parents and authority figures to propel themselves into a self-determined adulthood. Humans naturally seek out a sort of human fission energy when they seek to be independent of the masses of humanity with fame, wealth, achievement or self-created knowledge.
The Promise of Ed-Tech
Society has reached the stage where technology can transition education institutions and human teaching into full personalization. Full nuclear fission. Adaptive digital curriculum, full of algorithms and animations, plus other digital aspects, can be placed in the path of an individual student at exact junctures automagically. Students can be involved in an electro-magnetic engine interplay between themselves and direct absorption of knowledge. Teachers then necessarily move to not always knowing everything to helping students navigate while driving them to question and desire learning.
Students immersed in digital learning of all kinds soon see that the Internet connects them to everything. Their minds register that knowledge is everywhere. It isn’t allocated to teachers or an institution, it floats in the digital ether all around, which they reconstruct in their mental space with a no-one and no-where place assignment tag, creating a permanency. The knowledge is theirs for good because it’s associatively just theirs. Imagine the test score increases!
The promise of ed-tech is right-sizing education around the fundamental physics realities of human-kind. True personalization can happen at scale through a shift in practice.
Ed-tech shows the promise of enabling genuine student agency and greater achievement, genuine fission versus the centuries-old attempts at fusion. For teachers and administrators, a new-found freedom of interaction with students in less structured ways promises vastly easier labor and greater enjoyment in causing learning. In short, it’s electric.
About the Author
LeiLani Cauthen is CEO of the Learning Counsel and author of The Consumerization of Learning.