Video Games and Theories of Learning: Spotlight on JP Gee and Howard Gardner

Plenty of people in all stages of their lives are fascinated by video games. The games practice can be long, difficult, and challenging, yet the players consider it fun and inspiring. It is hard not to admit that playing games has social and cultural significance in our society. According to J. P. Gee (2003), there are learning principles (LP) that are built into good video games. But these principles do not necessarily boost learning. Several factors are necessary for learning to occur in games and perhaps develop intelligences in the semiotic domain of the daily life. Gee teaches that there are thirty-six learning principles possible to be found and developed in games.

To explain this, Gee defines games as semiotic domain (SD), which, in turn, is part of the wider SD of everyday life. So to speak, a SD is a certain division of the world (whether a location, practice, field of study, etc.) and it can encompass sub-domains. For instance, first and third-person shooter games are a well-defined sub-domain of the games SD. By introducing the concept of SD to games studies, Gee gives us examples of SD like rap, modernist paintings and games of the genre first person shooter. Gee believes that to achieve learning from a SD is necessary three things: 1) learn to experience the world in different ways, 2) learn to form affiliations with members of the SD, and 3) learn how to gain the necessary resources for future learning and problem solving in the domain, as well as in related domains. As we can see, Gee seeks to approximate games to a broader definition of literacy that involves different types of “visual literacy.” Following this notion of literacy, people are literate in a domain only if they are able to recognize and produce meanings in the field. Furthermore, Gee proposes that we think of literacy as inherently connected to social practices. In fact, in the contemporary culture, articulate language (spoken, gestural, or written) is not the only important communication system. Nowadays, images, symbols, charts, diagrams, equations, artifacts and many other visual symbols play a particularly important role in our daily lives. For example, it is important to learn visual literacy to “read” the pictures in an advertisement. Furthermore, words and images are juxtaposed or integrated in many ways: in magazines, newspapers, textbooks, software, etc. Images take more space and have meanings that can be independent of the words in texts. In this sense, games are multimodal texts. They combine moving images and music with language.

Given the various forms of human activity in the complex society we live in, it becomes necessary to develop a new model of intelligence that allows us to embrace a pluralistic view of intelligence. Howard Gardner’s (1983) influential definition of intelligence was developed by means of a model of seven basic intelligences known as the theory of multiple intelligences (MI). MI represents a broader and more pragmatic view of human nature. The eight intelligences are defined as the following skills:

1) to use language with competence (linguistic),

2) to use logical reasoning in mathematics and science (logical-mathematical),

3) to perceive details of the visual-spatial world and to manipulate objects in mind (spatial),

4) to understand, create and enjoy music and musical concepts (musical),

5) to use the body skillfully (bodily-kinesthetic);

6) to recognize subtle aspects of the behavior of others and respond appropriately to them (interpersonal),

7 ) to understand the one’s own feelings (intrapersonal), and

8) to recognize patterns and differences in nature (naturalist).

These categories or intelligences represent elements that can be found in all cultures, namely music, words, logic, paintings, social interaction, physical expression, inner reflection and appreciation of nature. Thus, unlike a learning style, which is a general approach that the individual can apply equally to any content imaginable, intelligence, to Gardner, is a capability with its own processes that are geared to specific contents in the world (e.g., musical sounds or spatial patterns).

From this perspective, Gee (2003) and Gardner (1983) value the interplay between learning and skills present in everyday life (culture) of people. So when we think about the SD approach, as developed by Gee, we realized that the interaction between both theories, the SD of everyday life, the largest existing set – where the intelligences are located – encompasses the SD of games. Note that Gardner points out that one of the goals of his endeavor is to examine the educational implications of a theory of multiple intelligences. Considering that, Gee listed thirty-six learning principles present in games, and considering the importance and popularity of games in contemporary culture, it seems interesting to begin to investigate how the learning principles can relate to the multiple intelligences. So we discuss here some possibilities of association between these theories. To accomplish this, the question we want to take up is this: What can the learning principles built into good games could do for the development of multiple intelligences, which are so important to everyday life? In other words: What is the relationship between these semiotic domains? To answer this, we have used the following research methodology: literature review, research on websites, observation of games, construction of the model of interaction between the two learning proposals, and analysis of the model.

Gee describes thirty-six learning principles which can be found in games. It is noteworthy that not all learning principles listed by the author are necessarily found on a single game – there is the possibility that a game conveys one or more of these principles. The analysis shows that to develop one or more intelligences, the learner must be immersed in one or more semiotic domains which have the conditions and qualities needed to facilitate its development. For example: there is no use to an apprentice of a sport modality to have access to only one modality for the full development of his Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence, he needs to have access to various sports, namely various sub semiotic domains which are part of the larger semiotic domain of the sports. Besides that, there are other extrinsic and intrinsic factors (motivation, injuries, and appropriate training materials, etc.) that are important to succeed in the entire domain, like a sport modality. Examples of several prominent athletes demonstrate this fact: Formula 1 drivers, MMA fighters and Olympic athletes. In this sense, our research shows the existence of a binomial unexcelled: without learning principles, there are no good games, while without the valorization of a domain in the semiotic domain of everyday life there is no way forward within that domain. Thus, multiple intelligences cannot be fully developed in certain cultural contexts and the learning principles are worthless in these contexts

Moreover, the Interpersonal intelligence is very important in learning. We found that it is associated to thirty of the thirty-six learning principles. The Interpersonal intelligence clearly arises from cooperative work, community involvement, simulations of large groups, dedication to social issues, etc. Precisely the importance of Interpersonal intelligence, as Gardner notes, has been reduced in the contemporary educational scene: the sensitivity to other individuals as individuals and the ability to collaborate with others are increasingly less important now than it did in the past. Thus, we believe that the results of the comparison between these theories put into question the ways we design and manage education in its various spheres. For this reason, we believe that further analysis of the intersection of the theories studied here may help us in both the use of games as a pedagogical proposal and in thinking about education.

The association between both theories seemed productive for us to reflect on games and learning in general. Firstly, it should be noted that not all games can promote all learning principles. This is because there are many factors in the semiotic domain of everyday life that can hinder learning and development of multiple intelligences. And this occurs even when the game conveys the learning principle or the basic conditions to develop them, which demonstrates a close association between the principles and intelligences.

Secondly, the Interpersonal intelligence is associated to thirty learning principles. This demonstrates the complexity of learning and consequently shows the challenges that contemporary education must face. In fact, the study of the interaction between the theories can help us think about new ways of teaching and learning inside and outside of school. It seems that the relevance of Gee’s is in highlighting the importance of games culturally and for learning, while Gardner’s learning theory emphasizes the necessity of favorable conditions (environment, mentors, cultural appreciation, etc.) for the development of skills. We should remember that skills or intelligences are valued differently between cultures.

We believe that good video games represent, in fact, opportunities for direct and indirect learning of content and skills in the semiotic domain of everyday life, given its intimate link to the majority of the intelligences.

Work cited

Howard Gardner. Frames of mind. The theory of multiple intelligences (New York: Basic Books, 1983).

James P. Gee. What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy (New York: Palgrave, 2003).

Role Of Robotics In The Progressive Education System For The 21st Century

With a specific end goal to instruct in the 21st century, educational institutes and instructors need to develop and keep up a student’s enthusiasm for the curriculum by demonstrating and inculcating skills to transfer bookish knowledge to the real-life applications.

Robotics – An Applied Science

Before we even begin to understand the need for inculcating Robotics in the Education System of today, we need to be thorough with what exactly a robot is.

A robot is a machine that can perform complex actions based on the programs fed to the computer. It can perform a series of tasks, replicate many human movements and functions, but is essentially unemotional.

About Robotics

Robotics is that branch of technology that encompasses the start to the end of a robot. It not only deals with the designing aspect of a Robot, but applies technology for the construction of the same, considers the aspects of its operation, and further application of the robots.

Robotics is not a fad; it is far from that. It is a gradual progression from the old-school contemporary education and is more of a phenomenon that allows an integrated approach to the knowledge of mathematics, science and other technological content.

In the fast-paced world today, Robotics allows emphasis on problem-based learning, encourages learning in groups and outlays perfect integration and application of knowledge.

Robotics And Student Connect

Realizing True Potential: Since Robotics is essentially an application-based study, it allows students across levels to learn on the go. They may also get to realize their potentials and seek assistance where they see an opportunity to build their career in the long run.

Taking New Roles: In an interactive classroom environment, while working on a robot, student teams interact with each other. Some come across to be great speakers, while others as great thinkers – virtually breathing life into thoughts. They can rather code, perform specialized tasks and additionally ensure the group remains focused.

Going Beyond the Books: Today, the Education system is focusing beyond the bookish knowledge and while students get interested in a new domain like Robotics, they will also get an opportunity to get involved and learn other interactive platforms like social media to spread a word about their word.

Theory to Application: As the students begin to see, the theoretical knowledge coming to life in the manner, they would want it to, where they have a role in the actual control. They begin to enjoy the power of control and subconsciously start excelling in the respective domains as well.

Stretching the Boundaries: It allows an opportunity for critical thinking in a steady and self-inspired way. The learners encounter fulfilling accomplishments immediately and can rapidly proceed to establish complicated programs and challenges in a robot.

Virtual Helpers Will Make Life Easier

I would like to bring your attention to a technological first. MellaniuM design has combined three separate 3D software applications and technologies (i.e., rendering, texturing, and importing into a 3D engine) to produce virtual realistic 3D environments and artifacts which can be explored. This method has been used to date to produce a 3D museum environment for the display of architectural concepts and models. In addition an industrially engineered furnace for the refining of zinc has been reproduced in exact detail that can be entered and examined to grasp the design, installation, and maintenance concepts.

Applications extend to all areas of work, play, and education. Accuracy to detail and perspective produces an experience which leaves a ‘need more’ sensation to anyone who ventures within a virtual real world. Some people it has been rumored to have seen the ‘black monolith’. A sense of presence is apparent in the 3D environment and is achieved by extensive use of textures and sounds that are taken from the real world. It is predicted that the majority of the mundane tasks will be performed by virtual helpers inside the Virtual Real Worlds; leaving humans to do all the creative thinking.

This technology embraces all domains of life as we know it; virtual helpers will be provided with Artificial Intelligence specific to the users needs. Helpers will be behaviorally programmed together with having the physical realism of whomever we want. The uses of Virtual Real Worlds are endless; limited only by one’s imagination. The essential theme is that they shall be as real as possible.

No other company has offered 3D Virtual Reality on such an economical scale with the perspective and textual accuracy; this technology has momentous potential in the architectural, engineering, marketing, entertainment, and educational fields.

Concept Imagery and Cognition – No More IT

Meet Joe. “I can remember reading aloud in class and then not being able to answer the questions. Reading the words was no problem. (Shy smile.) But, then when I couldn’t answer the questions, the kids would laugh at me. (Looking down.) The worst was that I had a teacher in high school that continually called me stupid…maybe I am. (Long pause, brown eyes looking at me.) Am I?”

To this day my chest tightens remembering how Joe looked when he told that story. He was embarrassed and sensitive, and his problem with literacy wasn’t that he couldn’t decode the words, it was that he couldn’t comprehend the concepts. He could not get it, and telling him to “pay attention” or “think when you read” didn’t help him. It hurt him.

As Joe read or listened to language, he processed “parts”-the in-one-ear-and-out-the-other syndrome. He could sometimes remember a few details, but he couldn’t get the big picture. He had always had the problem, and it wasn’t just when he read. It was also when he tried to follow directions and could not remember all of them, and then got in trouble for not paying attention. It was when he tried to express himself, verbally or in writing, and it came out disjointed and out of sequence. It was when he listened to language, conversation or classroom presentations, and it went by him before he could get it. It was when he tried to participate in conversation and could not make salient points because he spoke to the “parts” he processed. It was when he tried to think critically or problem solve, a constant frustration for him. Though Joe could read and spell words, he had a language processing problem, and IT permeated the quality of his life and eroded his self-esteem.

Joe’s symptoms could be traced to his difficulty in getting the gestalt, the whole-necessary for processing language and thinking. Most importantly, his difficulty in getting the gestalt could be traced to his weakness in the sensory-cognitive function of concept imagery-the ability to visualize the whole.

Numerous years ago, while researching the relationship of imagery to comprehension and trying various steps to develop imagery, I discovered an interesting phenomena. It wasn’t that individuals couldn’t image, it was that they couldn’t image the gestalt. They could not connect the parts to form an imaged whole. Instead, they got “parts”-bits and pieces-and thus could not get the main idea, draw a conclusion, make an inference or evaluate.

This processing of parts instead of the gestalt contributes to a range of symptoms, most of which Joe had experienced:

· Weak reading comprehension

· Weak oral language comprehension

· Weak oral language expression

· Weak written language expression

· Difficulty following directions

· Difficulty with critical thinking

· Difficulty with problem solving

· Weak sense of humor

Unfortunately, weakness in concept imagery can be a hidden problem in the field of reading. It is often misdiagnosed, and it interferes with processing both oral and written language. Those of us who do not have the problem cannot know how painful it is. Individuals have told me that it means that you feel foggy, like when you go to sleep in a movie and then cannot put it altogether. They tell me that they have hidden the problem behind good social skills, noting when to smile appropriately in conversation or when to laugh at jokes they really didn’t get. They tell me that they go to tremendous lengths to cover this problem because most people just think they aren’t as bright or aren’t good listeners or communicators. A graduate from MIT told me that when he was in class trying to grasp a lecture, it was as if someone was going along with an eraser and erasing the language before he could get it.

The critical role of this function to cognition and the quality of life provokes some questions. One frequently asked me is whether or not this function can be developed and applied to higher order thinking skills? The answer is yes. Just as phonemic awareness can be developed and decoding and spelling established, an individual’s sensory system can be stimulated to image and process the gestalt-enabling the higher order thinking skills of main idea, conclusion, inference, prediction to be improved. Reasoning, logical thinking, problem solving, and perhaps even creativity can be developed.

Another question often asked me is whether or not weakness in concept imagery is increasing? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be yes. Scores from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) show continuing deficiencies in higher order reasoning skills. The NAEP found, as have other recent assessments, that problems in reading and expressing ideas in writing stem mainly from difficulty with verbal reasoning.

What might be contributing to this apparent decline? One answer is television, not because of the content television brings, but because of the process television denies. Since individuals do not have to image when watching television, imagery is not being stimulated, at least not like it was when story-telling, old radio shows, and reading for pleasure were our recreation.

As we process information through our sensory system, concept imagery brings the sensory information together enabling us to create the gestalt. And, the gestalt is a necessary piece for cognition. Furthermore, there is little question that imagery is directly related to cognition. Aristotle said, long before phonemic awareness was thought about, “It is impossible to think without a mental picture.”

Lastly, as I speak nationally and internationally to professionals about the role of sensory-cognitive functions in language processing, I am heartened by their enthusiastic response and improved awareness about reading. I have hope that we are entering the era of gestalt thinking in the field of reading, and consequently may be entering a time where we institute solutions-solutions that might eradicate learning problems for all individuals. No more Joes. No more IT.

The Purpose of Education – Creating Responsible, Productive Citizens

“The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards”. – Anatole France

The purpose of education is to create responsible, productive and socially contributing citizens – people who can provide for their own families as well as contribute to their communities. As Toffler says, education in the 21st century should allow people to learn, unlearn and relearn. But I am not sure our schools and colleges are committed to this.

Education is one of the most unscientific human endeavors. You do well in school to get into a good college and earn a good degree. A good degree is supposed to be a passport to a good job. Based on your educational qualifications, you can climb to a reasonably high position without having to demonstrate any exceptional ability.

Beyond that, however, you may have problems. There is no established link between your performance in school and your performance in a job. Even more importantly, there is no link between your performance on the job and your performance in life.

To be true to purpose, education should support a child develop three fundamental capabilities:

1. Discover, develop and continually evolve a vision to become a useful member of society:

Many of us have an advantage – our parents envision our future for us, driving us to work towards achieving this vision. However, this is not as common among the poor. The education system has to step in to help everyone create this vision, and to build even the poor child’s confidence to pursue the vision.

Balaji Sampath, who runs Eureka Child – an NGO committed to improving literacy and math ability in government schools, told us a touching story in this context. Coming back from the US to do something meaningful in education, he immersed himself in local issues by spending a few months in a village. He was in a village classroom when a child asked the teacher whether it was possible to travel to the moon. “You and I cannot fly to the moon,” the teacher answered. “But scientists in the U.S. can…” We must stop robbing our children of goals and dreams.

2. Understand that questions are more important than answers:

Our education system places undue emphasis on providing answers – often to questions that children do not have. In other words, too often we teach children concepts without context; we need to show them why learning is important. We need to focus on awakening kids’ natural curiosity and teaching them to love learning. A good way to do this is to place children in natural experiences or in games where they can ask questions. In these settings, learning is immediate and strong. Learning can be a structured discovery process, offering students varied learning outcomes – just as our situations and decisions later in life offering different outcomes.

For example, an NGO in Mumbai went to schools with an experiment to teach students about water conservation. The pupils measured the amount of water consumed while brushing their teeth with the tap open, and then again with the tap off. Imagine, if we all learn this type of lesson in school, how we can apply the principles to so many other aspects of our home and work later in life.

3. Learning to Learn:

The world is evolving too fast for schools and colleges to keep up. What is being taught is inadequate and outdated, or will be soon. It is important that children are encouraged to discover answers on their own – through the Internet, through experimenting and by having access to experts on the cutting edge of every field.

It is important that students learn the scientific method –

(a) creating a hypothesis based on observations,

(b) designing and conducting experiments to prove or disprove these hypotheses and

(c) arriving at conclusions while recognizing that the conclusions could change with additional information.

With the level of knowledge available in the world today, it is also important to exercise judgment what to learn, and how and when you need to learn it. We need to teach kids when to rely on their own judgments,, and when to rely on the expertise of others. Our children must learn that even when you outsource the effort, you retain responsibility over the result.

What do you think? Do you agree with these ideas about the critical capabilities that our children need? Is our educational system addressing this? Do share your thoughts and experiences with all of us.

Concerning Cancer and Plato’s Science of Human Survival

Scientists are telling us that we must stop polluting the oceans with rubbish or face catastrophic consequences. Over two thousand years ago Plato, using geometrical logic, was well ahead of that problem. He replaced fanatical aggressive religious emotion with an evolving ethical emotive mathematics belonging to his axiom that “All is Geometry”. His educational system was specifically designed to gain spiritual scientific access to infinity rather that getting any illusory deity’s permission to do so.

Plato’s atomic ‘Science for Ethical Ends’ was outlined in his ‘The Republic’ to guide an ennobling system of government for the health of the universe. That concept was far greater than stopping the pollution of the oceans. Its specific objective was, that by becoming an integral emotional part of universal wellbeing, civilization would not become extinct. Plato was advocating a medical solution to the problem of tribal compulsion to evolve by developing weaponry. His life’s work is now considered to be the crucial basis for the ethical workings of an infinite living holographic universe.

Plato’s mathematical logic about infinity did not need permission to understand its nature by being subservient to warring gods. He constructed a spiritually ethical scientific map in order to gain understanding about the nature of infinity, to replace the compulsion driving tribes to kill each other. However, Plato’s human survival science’s mathematical logic could not possibly become functional until the biological necessity for tribal science to wage wars of survival became an observable form of a mental cancerous disorder.

When DNA revealed that humans belong to a single species harming itself, tribal science was diagnosed as a form of cancer in 1972. The founding father of the American National Cancer Research Foundation the Nobel Laureate in Medicine, Szent-Gyorgyi, referred to this cancer as being inherited from our Neolithic ancestors.

Many cancer researchers now argue that cancer, being unique to biological systems, is an essential part of the evolution of tribal science but not necessarily part of the evolution of species. Tribal science is associated with the sexual compulsion to destroy life in obedience to the ‘kill or be killed’ survival of the fittest paradigm observed in nature. Male dominance to impregnate females desiring offspring best suited to protect the tribe from other predators led to the evolution of human intellect through the development of weaponry.

The transformation of tribal science to one that will work for all members of the human species is now a medical problem requiring antidote information. Such information is readily available but has been incorrectly classified by tribal medical science as belonging to obsolete junk DNA. This vital non-junk information can be found in human survival communication and information devices recently discovered throughout the entire length of DNA itself.

Plato’s research was destined to become the basis of an atomic science belonging to the workings of a holographic universe. It warned of a far greater threat to civilization than throwing physical rubbish into the sea. Plato referred to a destructive ‘evil’ belonging to the properties of unformed matter within the physical atom. His research led to a human survival map to follow so that civilization could avoid extinction from developing a science leading to the emergence of this nuclear destruction from within the atom.

Plato used the effects of the magnetic properties of lodestone upon human emotional thought, to construct his spiritual human electromagnetic survival compass. He argued that illusory artistic, aesthetical, pleasurable excitement spread the seeds of tribal conflict and required a spiritual ethical wisdom as an antidote to such demonizing of primitive, tribal, artistic emotion. He very clearly pointed out the electromagnetic direction associated with future human survival. It started with the chaos of unformed matter within the dark abyss moving forward to create light and matter.

The European Space Agency’s Planck Observatory, which mapped the existence of the oldest light in the universe, revealed that it was asymmetrical in nature. Therefore, Plato’s electromagnetic human survival direction was one that started from nuclear chaos and moved toward the creation of asymmetrical light. In 1957 the New York Library of Science published the book “Babylonian Mythology and Modern Science”, stating that Einstein derived his theory of relativity from the mythological, mathematical intuitions belonging to Babylonian culture.

Einstein’s quantum mechanistic tribal worldview required physical reality to belong to a state of symmetrical balance. His observer participant theories associated with the nature of symmetrical light instead of asymmetrical light simply headed backwards from human survival to the chaos of unformed matter.

Einstein, being locked into Babylonian tribal science had every right to perceive certain aspects of Babylonian mathematics as belonging to great genius. However, Babylonian understanding of the nature of infinity was governed by warring gods and goddesses that forbade any mathematical access to infinity. This fear of infinity is made clear written on baked clay Babylonian tablets recording the mythological conflict that followed when one of the gods bestowed immortality to a keeper on the Ark during the Great Flood. Another tablet exists showing mathematical deceit was purposely embedded into the Babylonian legal system to enslave the populace to a warlike sexual violence. That legality became embedded into the functioning of global tribal science.

The Sumerian culture measured time as a seven day week with days of twenty four hours and each hour of sixty minute duration, together with direction being measured from a circle containing three hundred sixty degrees. These mathematical concepts were destined to one day become an integral aspect of deep space exploration.

The Babylonian culture developed the more ancient astrological Sumerian mathematics in order to predict eclipses. A clay tablet written by a Babylonian priest to the King exists. It advises him of the forthcoming 673BC Lunar eclipse, which the gods demanded was to be used to terrorize the populace. The people were thereby to be animated into a sexual frenzy to wage war through the worship of their goddess of prostitution and war, Ishtar. This was required by ‘the gods’ in order to expand the boundaries of the Kingdom.

Einstein’s tribal science logic led toward the chaos associated with unformed matter within the dark abyss. His quantum mechanics and every other aspect of his tribal sciences were governed by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that inevitably all energy becomes unavailable to support life as chaos steadily increases, causing all life in the universe to become extinct. Einstein could never have known that during the 21st Century quantum biology cancer researchers would discover that healthy living information flowed in the opposite direction to the energies of chaos.

As the cancer researcher Szent-Gyorgyi has insisted, healthy living information entangled itself with the energies of chaos in order to evolve universal consciousness. He wrote that the cause of cancer was an incorrect understanding associated with the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

The mathematician Georg Cantor has been acclaimed to be the greatest mathematician in history as well as the most despised one. He agreed with Szent-Gyorgyi’s observation that modern science’s understanding of the Second Law of Thermodynamics carried a mental carcinogenic disorder. He classified this disorder as “a myopic fear of infinity inhabiting the modern scientific mind”. His ‘pagan’ heresy attacked the salaried security of every scientist employed by Christian University scientific research departments throughout the Western educational system. Cantor was driven to his deathbed because these influential Christian scientists created incorrect mathematical theorems ridiculing his now accepted mathematical description of infinite reality.

Isaac Newton believed that Plato’s evolving, infinite universe was scientifically authentic. In his published 28th Query Discussions he wrote that the first cause of gravitational force was certainly not created by the mass of objects in space but by a spiritual force in accordance with ancient Greek science. Although accused of being insane for this criminal heresy his earlier writings that the church had been theologically incorrect suggests that he was well aware of what he had written. His nervous breakdown may well have been brought about by the threat of being burnt alive for publishing that heresy.

We do know for certain that the Christian Church incorrectly promoted the false claim that Leonardo da Vinci was a genius master of the Great Italian Renaissance. The teaching of Plato’s human survival atomic educational system, banished by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th Century, had moved to Toledo in Spain to later become the basis of Islam’s Scientific Golden Age. Sultan Memhed II later provided the Medici Scholars in Italy with the relevant scholarly manuscripts belonging to Plato’s Academy, to be reinstated in Florence during the 15th Century.

Plato’s education system of an ennobling political science to nullify the threat of unformed matter bringing about nuclear destruction was explicit. It consisted of arithmetic, plane geometry, solid geometry, astronomy, and harmonics. Once these were mastered then the student could proceed to philosophical research. Plato argued that plane geometry must not be studied for its practical uses but for training the mind in spiritual mathematics. He let arithmetic become the first of the subjects of education, after which research into its relevant science was to become the student’s concern associated with a future ethical, atomic science.

Leonardo da Vinci, as the Chief Military Engineer of the Pope’s Army was employed by a Christian tribal cult engaged upon waging wars of conquest on behalf of its religious faith. He wrote a statement that completely divorced his tribal scientific genius from Plato’s human survival concept of ethical science. From his published Notebooks, Leonardo had written “The first object of the painter is to make a flat plane appear as a body in relief and projecting from that plane… “, he incorrectly claimed that the flat plane of a painting surface could never contain a true 3D image.

During the 20th Century the artist Salvador Dali, familiar with Plato’s scientific worldview was convinced that paintings could contain important invisible, stereoscopic 3D images. His famous 3D art exhibition, now on show at the Dali Stereoscopic Museum in Spain proved indisputably that Leonardo was not correct in arguing otherwise. Although it suited the purpose of the Church to claim that he was a master of the Renaissance, this was certainly not the case.

Australian Science-Art researchers in partnership with the Australian Sustainability Research Institute, Italian quantum biological cancer researchers and Quantum Art International presented this crucial human survival information to the public, along with paintings presenting far clearer 3D images than Dali had pioneered. By viewing the paintings through 3D, asymmetrical, electromagnetic, stereoscopic glasses much clearer interlocking planes became visible without the technical equipment used to pioneer Dali’s evolving medical phenomenon. Leonardo da Vinci had no understanding whatsoever that the flat plane of a painting’s surface could contain the spiritual human survival information that Plato had predicted.

During 2016 such human survival theory, along with the visual evidence, was presented to the International Contemporary Art Competition held under the auspices of the World Fund for Arts in Moscow during the Russian Art Week. After being awarded a First Prize that organization instigated a relevant Science-Art Research Project in 2017, in association with the Quantum Art Group International Movement and leading Italian quantum biology cancer researchers. 

Many prominent scientists during the 20th Century claimed that Plato’s research laid the foundations for modifying the prevailing mechanistic worldview in order to understand the working of a holographic universe. The Journal of Neurophysiology, established in 1938, publishes articles on the function of the nervous system. During the 21st Century it published about experimental, holographic evidence that is relevant to Szent-Gyorgyi’s cancer research. That evidence was about living 3D optical information interacting with Einstein’s extinction processes to evolve universal consciousness. This line of research opened new avenues for mapping holographic activity, within the brain, associated with the importance of evolutionary theory for understanding cancer.

One paper in particular, entitled ‘Human Cortical Activity Correlates with Stereoscopic Depth Perception’ is important. The paper provides indisputable evidence that neuron activity within the outer layer of the evolving brain’s cerebrum responded to stereoscopic magnetic stimulation by exhibiting two symmetrical geometrical planes of 3D information, interlocking to bring about a state of asymmetrical information, demonstrating the existence of psychophysical reasoning beyond the parameters of prevailing tribal scientific logic. Leonardo’s conviction that plane geometry could not contain true 3D imagery has been shown to be false by electromagnetic medical cancer research as well as by paintings proving he was not part of Plato’s futuristic educational system.

Immanuel Kant, the founding father the electromagnetic ‘Golden Age of Danish Science’, agreed that Plato’s concern that demonized aesthetical, artistic pleasure needed to be balanced by a spiritual, artistic wisdom. He wrote that this wisdom was in fact an asymmetrical electromagnetic, spiritual field evolving within the creative, artistic mind.

This transition of dysfunctional tribal information to fragments of 3D human survival science comprehension, must obviously be creating a serious global medical problem. Epidemiologists appointed by governments to be responsible for such epidemics have classified the 3D dysfunctional information as a global epidemic transmitted by the mass production of dysfunctional communication and information devices. Being subservient to tribal science dictates that they have no antidote for the social damage it is causing. However, the nature of the antidote has been discovered by developing Szent-Gyorgyi’s cancer research, in which the energies of destructive chaos entangle with healthy information to evolve universal consciousness.

A high resolution picture exists of the geometrical shape that the human cell adopts prior to forming its divisional process to create replica cells. It is obviously an infinite fractal expression undergoing an electromagnetic function associated with the dividing process. Epidemiologists looking for an antidote to the global 3D disinformation epidemic realized that Cantor’s infinite mathematics must somehow be involved. They referred to the dividing process as one obeying some form of Cantorian ‘sensibility’. David Hilbert is acknowledged as one of the most influential mathematicians of the 19th and 20th Centuries. He was one of the few scientists who agreed that Cantor’s mathematics was a bridge to the understanding of the nature of infinity.

Hilbert and Einstein worked together on the differences between symmetrical physical reality and electromagnetic biological reality. The main difference was that mechanistic, symmetrical, electromagnetic fields rotate in the opposite direction to living asymmetrical fields. Kant had identified the latter as belonging to Plato’s search for an ethical, spiritual, electromagnetic field evolving within the creative, artistic mind.

Einstein, along with the epidemiologists were locked into a physical, symmetrical world-view. As a consequence Einstein lost interest in Hilbert’s research. Einstein’s view of the physical structure of quantum mechanics embraced a symmetrical concept of reality. He was unable to associate this reality being entangled with Kant and Hilbert’s spiritual, asymmetrical, electromagnetic field belonging to the evolution of healthy artistic wisdom, associated with infinite consciousness.

From the high resolution picture of healthy cell division it became obvious that when poised to divide, the cell generated an electromagnetic field that simply prevented the dysfunctional information from being transmitted to its replica cell. The transfer of the carcinogenic information at a later stage of cellular development is a medical problem requiring antidote information encoded into what, as previously mentioned, has been incorrectly classified as junk DNA.

Both tribal science and human survival antidote science are part of human evolution, so they can be entangled together within a computer program in order to generate a balanced medical human survival diagnosis. All that is required is for the program to be controlled by relevant indisputable human survival scientific instructions to obtain the human survival blueprint.

A relevant computer medical diagnosis can be programmed to emulate the effects of dopamine, a compound in the body controlling human emotions causing compulsive behaviour. At junctions within the nervous system dopamine can build up to create overpowering electromagnetic cravings, constantly governing various aspects of a dysfunctional personality. A simple low powered medical device exists, which can emit a signal that allows the mind to free itself from the overpowering emotional ‘lust’ compulsion, bringing about the capacity to rationalize over self harming rather that a compulsion to inflict harm upon others.

A quote from George Bernard Shaw “Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people think they think; and ninety-five percent of the people would rather die than think.” can be considered to be relevant regarding the fact that so called geniuses, who think they can think, are actually being governed by the emotive tribal genius of very few people.

The shrewd, intuitive, emotional ingenuity of world leaders is extremely valuable. If a computer medical analysis providing the balancing antidote to unscrupulous Plutocratic tribal desires is obtained, then it would also include information giving them access to ethical wealth and power far beyond their tribal mindset’s ability to imagine. It is up to the three percent of the people who think they think, to provide rock solid evidence supporting human survival within the working of a holographic universe in order to bring Plato’s Science for Ethical Ends into existence. Once that is done then world leaders can begin to entertain dialogue concerning an ethical antidote ethos, now that science has come to understand the workings of the holographic universe that we inhabit. They can modify Rene Descates’ tribal axiom “I think, therefore I am” to read “We feel and think, therefore we are”.

Bertrand Russell, known for his emotional allegiance to Babylonian mathematical culture, in 1903 wrote his most famous essay entitled ‘A Free Man’s Worship’ advocating that civilization must worship the Second Law of Thermodynamics that Einstein insisted must govern all of the sciences.

The Russell-Einstein Manifesto proclaimed on the 9th of July, 1955, was about the dangers of nuclear weapons development and called for world leaders to seek peaceful resolutions to international conflict. This famous manifesto was not worth the paper it was written on, as the prevailing North Korean nuclear crisis demonstrates. Plato’s science intended to prevent nuclear destruction caused by the emergence of unformed matter from within the atom, now warrants a crucial investigation concerning the upgrading of tribal science into a science capable of generating the human survival blueprint.

The Australian 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Group, working with the United Nations Security Council regarding the need to nullify the threat of Nuclear weapon proliferation, surely warrants input from scientists who understand the basic functioning of the holographic universe. By collaborating with world leaders about implementing Plato’s Science for Ethical Ends as a medical antidote to avoid nuclear destruction, scientists can be seen as honourung the greatest responsibility associated with their scientific professions.

Is The Use Of Calculators Good Or Is The Myth That Says Calculators Make Students Lazy True?

A calculator is a great tool that allows for the mathematical exploration and experimentation and thus enhances the students understanding of concepts. Before I go into the benefits of the use of calculators in education and how to efficiently use them I would like to, first, state the types of calculators available today.

We can classify calculators into two types. The fist type is a calculator that evaluates expressions. This type is used to replace the manual tedious paper and pencil arithmetic. The second type of calculator is the special functionality calculator for example the graphing calculator, the algebra calculator, the matrices calculator… etc. These calculators are used for exploration of concepts. Each type of calculator can fit in mathematics education in its unique way and needs the syllabuses to be specially written to incorporate it in education.

Recent studies show that calculators are evaluable tools for mathematics educations. Instead of the student spending his time in tedious arithmetic calculations he can spend his time in developing and understanding concepts. Many students in the past have been turned off mathematics because of the long tedious calculations and students who were efficient in these calculations were considered good at mathematics. Little attention was made to the dissolve of concepts. They hardly had anytime left to concentrate on concepts. Today with the use of calculators the students spend all their time understanding concepts and the logic behind mathematics. They can relate the concepts to real life application. The overall education experience became richer. This is why calculators are recommended for all education classes from kindergarten to college.

Some may argue that this way the student may become lazy. The reply to this question is consider you are giving a primary school student a problem that he has 100 dollars and went to the market and bought five items of one commodity for a certain price and three items of another commodity for another price and he paid the 100 dollars then what is the remainder that he will receive. Now what is the mathematical quest of this problem? Is the question here how to do arithmetic multiplication, addition, and then subtraction? Or is the question is that the student should know what is going to be multiplied by what and what is going to be added to what and at the end what is going to be subtracted from what? Of coarse the mathematics of this problem is the procedure he is going to do to find the remainder and not the arithmetic process itself. In the past overwhelming the student with the arithmetic operations made many students miss the idea and the concept behind the problem. Some others did not miss the concept but were turned off altogether from mathematics because of the arithmetic operations.

Here I have to emphasize that it is true that calculators are good for education but still one must know how to make them fit nicely in the education process. Students need to know the arithmetic hand calculations. They must study how to do that manually. When the prime concern of the mathematics problem is how to do the arithmetic students should only use the calculator to check for the answer i.e. to see if it matches his hand calculation.

So the rule for using calculators is that the teacher should check the point of the mathematics problem and the concept it is teaching. If the calculator is doing a lower level job than the concept behind the mathematics exercise than it is fine. However, if the calculator is doing the intended job of the exercise then it should be used only to check the correct answer.

In addition, education books should write examples that use calculators to investigate concepts and teachers should lead students in classrooms to show them how to use these examples with calculators to dissolve concepts.

Book Summary: Becoming Your Own Banker – Unlock the Infinite Banking Concept – By R Nelson Nash

This book is not about getting rich quick. It talks about emulating the entities that contain all the wealth – “Banks”. This is a big deal because you can leverage tax deferred growth, pay interest to yourself, leverage tax write-offs and see the power of compounded growth over time. This strategy is very powerful and is how the rich preserve wealth through the generations. I am a big believer in Financial Education and this book will help you in that endeavor. As always, I am not a financial planner and always recommend you do your own research. This summary is designed to help you with that research.

Why is this important to me?

This may not be important to you but in my opinion, it should be. Most people work their asses off to make money and then do nothing to preserve it and build upon it. Remember that your financial goal should be to have your money work 10 times harder than you. I know this is an easy statement to make but it requires diligence and education.

Money flow is a key concept. It is either flowing toward you or away from you – there is no standing still. This is why they call money – “currency”. Remember that if you pay cash for a car then you lose the earning potential of that money. Likewise, if you finance it then you pay interest to the bank. In both scenarios, the money flows away from you.

Infinite banking will show you how to eliminate this problem.

This book is broken down into 5 parts. I will touch on each part and drill into the most important aspects of the Infinite banking Concept.

1. Becoming your own banker – The problem with not doing this concept is the “volume of interest” paid by people to buy stuff. Most people focus on the interest rate without truly thinking about the volume of interest paid. Here is a quick example: Let’s suppose you were going to buy a house for $200,000 at 6% interest over 30 years. You end up paying $431,677. So basically the house costs you double. If you look at the rule of 72’s then your money should double every 7 years then this is not a bad tradeoff. Here is the killer. Let’s suppose you sell the house 10 years in, you will still owe over $167,000. Guess what – the banks know this.

On average you can calculate for the average person that about 30% of every dollar goes to interest in some form or another. Thus you need to focus on the “Volume of Interest” and not the Interest rate. Think about this – what if you could have purchased that house with your “savings” and paid yourself the interest instead of the bank?

2. Dividend paying life insurance – Let me caution some of you who listen to Dave Ramsey. His stuff is excellent and he hates whole life insurance as an investment. I disagree with him and can show you why. This book will touch on that. There are some real secrets with this device as an investment strategy. They include: tax free growth, instant access to the money, law suit exempt & the money stays in the policy. This is the real secret. When you take a policy loan, you still receive your dividend. Thus it is like your investment is still growing and you can write off the policy interest on your taxes. Everybody focuses on rate of return using investment vehicles but you need to look at all the pieces that make up the pie and I can tell you nothing beats this concept. Why do you think Warren Buffet loves insurance companies and insurance vehicles for his investments?

Capital Buildup – Just like any business, you have to build it before it starts making money. You need to do the same thing with Insurance to have the Banking concept work. If you think of a Grocery store, you have to rent the space, hire the people, stock the shelves, advertise and work the business. It takes time before the business starts spitting off money and you have a ton of risk. With the insurance vehicle as the funding component for the Bank of YOU, you have to build it for at least 4 years. Once you hit the 4 year mark, then you can start using the money to buy things and pay yourself the interest.

Human Behavior – For the Bank of You concept to work, you need to make sure you pay yourself the payments just as you would a bank. If you don’t then it is like stealing. You really need to cement this concept into your head for this to work. You would not pillage your grocery store so don’t pillage the insurance policy.

Compound Growth – For sake of time, I won’t go over all the numbers but Insurance as a vehicle investment blows every other type of investment like 401K, 529 plans, CD’s, mutual funds and other restrictive types out of the water. Most financial planners will disagree with this because they don’t understand ALL the benefits of the insurance – not to mention that they may not be able to sell it to you…….. The compounded growth tax free really becomes strong in the mid to late years. When you pay yourself back the interest and the principle then the policies values grow even faster. The true hook here is that you are now saving the 34.5 cents out of every dollar in interest because you are paying it to yourself. This interest then grows tax free in the policy. One huge advantage is that you get the loan money from the policy delivered to your door and it is not taxable. This is that way because it is a loan to you. When you look at other investment vehicles, you are encouraged to put the money away and hope it will be there. You have to follow guidelines on when you can access the money. If you do it too early then you have to pay penalties. I don’t know about you but I don’t want people telling me what I can and cannot do with my money.

I just touched on the important factors in this great book. I can tell you that you can even put this strategy to work on steroids when you buy other investments that spit off cash flow. In the examples in the book, Nelson talks about buying cars and shows the power over time when you pay yourself the interest. Now consider if you buy a small business that is making money. You setup to pay for the business with a good interest rate to pay yourself back and NOW the payments come from OPM (other people’s money). I can tell you that the tax advantages and the growth potential of this strategy are unbelievable. I have done this both with purchasing other businesses and with purchasing cash flow real-estate. This really helps when you pay yourself back because you make interest income and you can charge yourself more interest.

Remember that interest income to YOU is taxed less than ordinary income. This is a huge magnifier when taken into account over time. You get to grow more money faster this way.

I hope you have found this short summary useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. Habits form in as little as 21 days.

One thing you can take away from this book is to GET EDUCATED. The concepts in this book are excellent and I recommend you study them. If it makes sense for you then find qualified advisers to help you build wealth.

Traditional Educational Institutions in Child Education in Sierra Leone

INTRODUCTION

Sierra Leone is bounded on the north-west, north and north-east by the Republic Guinea, on the south-east by the Republic of Liberia and on south-west by the Atlantic Ocean. It has an area of 27,925 square miles. The colony of Sierra Leone originated in the sale and cession in 1787 by native chiefs to English settlers of a piece of land intended as a home for African settlers who were waifs in London and later it was used as a settlement for freed African slaves. The hinterland was declared a British Protectorate on 21st August, 1896. Sierra Leone attained independence on 27th April, 1961 and became a Republic in 1971. Education is provided by both private and state-sponsored schools. The current system of education is 6-3-4-4 (that is six years Primary school, three years Junior Secondary School, four years Senior Secondary School and four years tertiary/higher education. This system is complemented by non- formal education.

CONCEPT OF EDUCATION

Education is frequently used in the sense of instruction in the classroom, laboratory, workshop or domestic science room and consists principally in the imparting by the teacher, and the acquisition by pupils, of information and mental as well as manual skills. A wider meaning than instruction is that of schooling. That is to say all that goes on within the school as part of the pupil’s life there. It includes, among other things, relationship between pupils and teachers, pupils and pupils both in and outside the school. J. S. Mill (1931) opined that whatever helps to shape the human being; to make the individual what he is or hinder him from being what he is not is part of his education. Implicitly education is lifelong and ubiquitous; it is the sum total of all influences which go to make a person what he is, from birth to death. It includes the home, our neighbors, and the street among others.

Education is to some extent a deliberate planned process devised and conducted by the educator with the purpose of imbuing the learner with certain information, skills, of mind and body as well as modes of behavior considered desirable. In part it is the learner’s own response to the environment in which he lives. Education has three focal points: the individual/person upon whom the educator’s influences are brought to bear; the society or community to which he belongs; and the whole context of reality within which the individual and society play their part. Man is a social creature; he grows as a person through the impact of personality on personality; and even for his basic physical needs he depends on the help and cooperation of his fellow men and women. Without society and the mutual support and enrichment of experiences which it provides civilization is impossible and the life of man, in Hobbes’ words, is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

One of the fundamental facts of human existence is the tension between the pull of the past and the forward urge into the future, between stability and change, tradition and innovation. For effective living,man needs a circle of security, an area of established habits and relationship which forms dependable relationships. This is also true of society. For its effective functioning there must be an underlying continuity of traditions and outlook which preserves its identity as a society and safeguards it against the disruptive effects of change. Change must be for life and not static but this change in turn must be controlled by the basic traditions of society. It is tradition which gives a nation its character and distinctiveness as a society. The conservation of tradition therefore is obviously crucial.

It has been recognized from time immemorial that the conservation of traditional education has a vital part to play in the development of the child. The children of today are the adults of tomorrow; they must be trained therefore, to inherit and perpetuate the beliefs and modes of life peculiar to the particular society to which they belong. For every society has the desire to preserve itself not only physically but as community consciously sharing certain aims, ideals and patterns of behavior. This type of education is not necessarily formal in schools by means of classroom instruction but that effected indirectly through the family and through the impact on the individual of social influences and customs which the child cannot evade. In Sierra Leone this social education included elaborate ceremonies of initiation involving feats of endurance in which young men and women must prove themselves worthy of the community. The ultimate goal was to produce an individual who was honest, respectful, skilled, cooperative, and who could conform to the social order of the day. As Aristotle once stated “the constitution of a state will suffer if education is neglected. The citizens of a state should always be educated to suit the constitution of the state. The type of character appropriate to a constitution is the power which continues to sustain it as it is also the state force which originally created it” (p. I).

TRADITIONAL EDUCATION IN SOCIETY

Traditional education has both a creative and conservation function in society; it is a powerful means of preserving a society’s customs, if not culture. In the past the nature and needs of society played a vital part in determining the nature of education. Professor M.V.C. Jeffreys (1950) once wrote in his book, Glaucon, that “in a tranquil society the educational system will tend to reflect the social pattern, while social uneasiness and instability create opportunity for using education as an instrument of social change”(p.7). A similar view was shared by John Dewey (1897) who opined that through education society can formulate its own purposes, can organize its own means and resources and thus save itself with definiteness and economy in the direction in which it wishes to move. Education looks both to the past and the future; inevitably it reflects the traditions and character of society. Traditional education can be used to prepare for changes in society and anticipate and prevent changes or the effects of changes in society.

Traditional education conserves and hands on the customs and ways of life which constitute the character of a society and maintains its unity. It also helps society to interpret its functions in new ways to meet the challenges of change, seeking ways or lines of development which are consistent with the traditions and customs and will at the same time raise society to a more complete fulfillment of itself.

TRADITIONAL EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS IN SIERRA LEONE

History reveals that there were no formal schools where children were educated in Pre-colonial Sierra Leone. The Poro and Bondo/Sande Secret Societies were looked upon as institutions to train children. They were bush schools. And the education these bush schools provided was informal. Children who went through these secret societies were considered capable of carrying out their civic responsibilities. They became adults and can marry and start life. They considered themselves as one family. In other words both Secret Societies created a sense of comradeship and unity among members irrespective of family, clan or ethnic affiliation. It was therefore considered that children who had not gone through these secret societies were not fully matured.

The Poro Secret Society is for boys. The spiritual head of the Poro Society is Pa Gbonu, seen only by the older graduates or members. The physical heads are the Pa Sama Yorgbors and Pa Somanos. They direct the activities of the institution. The senior instructors are the Pa Kashis, who generally teach and give instructions to other initiators. The Pa Manchiyas serve as teachers to the initiates while the Kachemas are the scaring spirits. They scare the women and children alike together with the new initiates. The Rakas are the errand boys carrying messages around. The Yambas are the head boys. The Bomos are the senior prefects while the Sayboms are the prefects; and the monitors are the Gbanaboms. Informal classes are held in the Secret Poro Bush. The subjects taught include Creative Practical Arts, Performing Arts, Practical Agriculture, Medicine i.e. use of local herbs for the treatment of different ailments), warfare and other skills. In Creative Practical Arts initiates are taught how to make fishing nets, baskets, mats, and carving wood and soap stones into different objects such as animals and humans; in Performing Arts initiates are taught singing, dancing and the use of Poro musical instruments. In Practical Agriculture initiates practice farming. Boys are taught to bear hardship without complaint and grow accustomed to it. Thus they are taken to the farms of their teachers and elders to work on pro bono basis. However during the harvest season initiates could pass through these farms taking whatever they need and eat without being questioned by farm owners. Initiates are taught to respect elders and use of guns to kill animals. In a similar vein initiates are taught how to use guns in fighting in defense of their communities. Other skills initiates are taught include making fish traps, fishing and hunting net, and basketry. In the use of herbs initiates pay money (some freely given) for healing various sicknesses as well as for protection against enemies, evil spirits and snake bites. Initiates who want to cause harm to others using herbs could ‘redeem’ the herb/medicine concerned. Over all initiates are taught a new Language spoken only by members called Ke Sornor. For example fonka trika meaning I am talking to you; fonka bonomi meaning Talk to me. The use of this new Language makes graduates very proud and feel different from non-initiates. Graduates come out with new names such as Lamp, Langba and Kolerr. A graduation ceremony climaxes the event.

Parents make massive preparations including sewing dresses for the graduates. To mark the graduation ceremony there is feasting, drinking, dancing and singing praise songs for the graduates and their parents. Those qualified for initiation must have been circumcised and grown to age of puberty. They have to live on their own during the period of training which ranges from one to seven years. Graduates are fully admitted to the general Poro society through another ceremony called Enkorie, which lasts for four days.

The Bondo/Sande Society is the institution where girls are trained for womanhood. Its spiritual head is Na Bondigba. The Na Gboyamas and Na Wulus are the physical heads. These have spiritual powers used to foretell the future and catch witches. They are the senior teachers. The Na Sokos are the service teachers. They can initiate girls even up to the advanced stage of the Society. The Digbas are the general teachers and stay close to the initiates. The Sampas are the skillful dancers and errand girls/women. They make announcements about the progress and activities or programs during the graduation ceremony.

The Na Fets, as the name implies do not know all the secrecy of the institution. They carry the institutional implements and regalia. The Karr Ayeamus are the ‘waiters’ to be initiated into the higher status of the institution. Girls admitted to the Bondo/Sande Society are trained informally. Classes are held at Kantha or sacred home. The teachers are largely concerned with the transmission to these adolescent girls the skills and knowledge which adult women are expected to possess in order to function properly and intelligently in their community. The subjects girls are taught include Cooking, Performing Arts, Fishing, Husband and Child Care, and Home Management. In Cooking girls are taught how to prepare food through observation and participation in the preparation of various dishes and are later allowed to have a go with little or no supervision. Those who could not cook properly are allowed to repeat. In Performing Arts girls are taught how to compose and sing songs and how to beat the Bondo/Sande drums (sambories). Alongside singing girls are taught how to dance and those who dance well may join the hierarchy of the Sampas. Girls are also taught how to fishing, make fishing nets, fishing baskets, sleeping mats from bamboo and palm leaves. Further girls are taught how to help their prospective husbands and how to take care of children especially those of senior members. Like the Poro Society graduation ceremonies are marked by massive preparations. Both parents and prospective husbands would buy new dresses, slippers, perfumes, powder, and beads to make neck laces. On the day of the graduation ceremony the new initiates are arrayed in white with coronets. They come out with new names such as Burah, Yeanor, Rukor and Yainkain. This demonstrates a sign of maturity. Initiating girls into Bondo/Sande society lasts between a few months and three years.

CHALLENGES

If education has the vital function of perpetuating the traditions and values of society, of adapting them to a changing environment, and of raising them to richer and more fruitful expression then both the Poro and Bondo/Sande Secret Societies, as traditional agents of this process should enjoy a position of the highest esteem. Through these secret societies the nation’s culture flows from one generation to the other and the aspirations of society are focused with intimate and telling persuasion upon the young. They stand at a point where the energies of children are released into new and creative possibilities. Through these secret societies children remember the past activities of their predecessors. They help in behavioral training patterns of society. These societies are institutions of inspiration and both politicians and chiefs use them to advantage. That is to either gain or maintain power. Major and binding decisions are taken in the Poro Bush of which only members are allowed to attend and take part. The Poro Secret Society acts as a check against the abuse of power. In crisis ridden situations major decision are taken in the Poro Bush. The Poro society even acts as arbitrator in chiefdom disputes and could promulgate general laws and regulate trading practices. It is also involved in the burial of chiefs and other important local officials (Alie, 1990).

Western education has existed in the country for long and is now so integral part of the civilized life that there is a tendency to assume that it is the main or sole means of imparting skills, knowledge and social values in children. This is not the case in Sierra Leone. The importance of the Poro and Bondo traditional secret societies cannot be over-sighted because of their enormous potentiality in educating children for life in society. Fundamental is that respect for persons as persons is the basis of traditional society. Linked with this is courtesy, sensitivity to the needs of others, cooperativeness, self-discipline, moral and physical courage, hard work and high standards of achievement. These are passed on to children in the environment in which they are part of their daily experiences. Notwithstanding, these traditional institutions as agents of education are currently faced with many challenges there-by forcing their demise. The practice of female genital circumcision is of international concern and in Sierra Leone people are agitating for its total ban. Currently girls are allowed to be circumcised at age eighteen during which time a child is perceived to be matured enough to choose whether or not to be initiated into the Bondo/Sande secret society. In addition the period of initiation is perceived too long and is being challenged. Besides children these days no longer have to be initiated into these societies to be taught how to be clean, cook, rear children, practice agriculture, and inculcate morals and virtues to cite a few examples. All these could be learnt either in or outside formal schooling through reading. What is more Religion, especially Christianity and Islam, western life, as well as rural-urban migration are forcing these secret societies to obliteration.

Besides the activities and work of these traditional societies are not in curriculum form and documented. Neither also is the use of herbs documented. Therefore by discontinuing these traditional secret societies Sierra Leoneans stand to lose their cultural heritage. If however, education has the vital function of perpetuating the traditions and values of society, of adapting them to a changing environment, and of raising them to a richer and more fruitful expression then these traditional secret societies, as agents of this process should enjoy a position of the highest esteem. Through these societies the national culture flows from one generation to another and the aspirations of society are focused with intimate and telling persuasion upon the young. These secret societies stand at the point where the energies of children are released into new and creative possibilities.

Breaking the Mould

Kalpana Pathak, Breaking the Mould: Alternative Schools in India, Chennai: Westland Ltd., 2016, ISBN 978-93-85152-29-0, pp. XVI + 230, Rs. 295.

Education is a field of interest in our times. The mushrooming of numerous institutes and centres providing education and the amount of propaganda done are witness to this fact. The scene of education in India is neither something worth admiring nor is it deserving of absolute condemnation. There is no doubt that India doesn’t feature anywhere among the top countries when it comes to education. According to the Legatum Prosperity Index 2016, India ranks 102nd among the 149 countries surveyed, in the field of education. Our education system does leave a lot to be desired. While on the one hand there are people who uphold the IIT’s and IIM’s as exemplars of success there are a greater number who lament the rote learning approach that is characteristic of the Indian educational system.

In Breaking the Mould, the author explores the world of alternative education in India and attempts to present the intensive study she has made in the field. The book has nine chapters besides an enlightening introduction. The chapters explain different facets of alternative education and thus comprehensively provide a good view of alternative education in the country.

Alternative education in its broadest sense can simply be defined as everything that mainstream education is not. One’s first impression upon hearing about alternative education may be to think of it as a Western idea. If that is the case then one will be surprised to know that there have been illustrious Indians who have also pioneered this concept locally. Famous Western names associated with alternative education are Montessori and Steiner. In the pre-independence period, social reformers and freedom fighters began to explore alternatives to the education system of the day. Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Jiddu Krishnamurthi and Gijubhai Badheka emphasized on experiential learning and innovative pedagogy (pg. 19). For some of these individuals like Tagore, seeking a method of alternative education arose from their own negative experience with mainstream education.

The first chapter despite being named ‘The Origins and History of Alternative Education’ offers very little in that regard. What it does in fact, is give a brief history of education in India, beginning from the Vedic period through the medieval and modern and culminating in the post-independence period. The final part of the chapter introduces the concept of alternative education and briefly describes the reasons for its origin.

Chapter two is a lengthy one as it deals with ‘Philosophies of Alternative Education Thinkers and their Schools’. This perhaps is the most crucial chapter of the book as it forms the basis on which all further explanation depends. The author examines the situation of the philosopher in the light of his/her views on education. Then, she goes on to describe with care to fine details, one institute associated with the philosopher.

The third chapter scrutinizes the rationale of alternative schools and their views on educational components like classrooms, pedagogy, art and craft, physical activity and assessment and study material. The next chapter is also a very important chapter from the point of view of the book for it presents the ‘Advantages, Disadvantages and Myths of Alternative Schooling’. In order to emphasize the point, the author compares alternative education to mainstream education and thereby shows the advantages and disadvantages of such a system. The advantages far exceed the disadvantages and myths thereby showing a favourable inclination towards alternative education. The myths and disadvantages are presented albeit not in a completely neutral manner; the author tends to be defensive towards alternative schools.

The fifth chapter discusses the ‘Challenges for Alternative Schools’. Once again the challenges presented are decisive but receive a subtly biased representation. The author tones down the potency of these challenges and makes it seem as if they are minor hurdles that alternative education can hop over. A closer and critical examination will reveal that it isn’t as easy to push them aside as the author makes it look. Chapter six is evidently added for dramatic effect and chronicles the interviews of students, parents and a teacher associated with alternative schools. At this point the author does appear to become pushy with the concept of alternative education. The repeated emphasis on the goodness of alternative education works on the unconscious mind much like advertisements.

Chapter seven assesses the ‘Impact of the Right to Education Act (RTE) on Alternative Schools’. RTE threatened the ideology of alternative education and brought it to its knees. The stress on infrastructure and teacher qualification for example, placed heavy burdens on the shoestring budget of such schools and the voluntary nature of its teachers. Chapter eight briefly touches upon the topic of ‘Homeschooling and Alternative Education’. The author ends the book with a detailed directory of alternative schools in India. As I went through the list I noticed that mostly the bigger states were mentioned. I engaged on a little search myself and found a site (alternativeeducationindia.net) which acts as an online directory for all registered alternative schools. The author gives a brief description of each school and furnishes their contact details and address.

The book explores the lesser known contender to mainstream education. However, the author bathes alternative education in milk and honey and presents it in a glorified manner. On some occasions the author has repeated quotations in an attempt to drill a point. Such repetitions become tiresome after a while. The pictures accompanying the text are a fail as they are not clear on account of their conversion from colour to grayscale. On the backcover one reads: “All in all, a must-have on the bookshelf of every parent.” I beg to differ. While reading this may influence some parents into putting their children in an alternative school, most parents will find such an option not-feasible despite the attractiveness of the concept. Basic factors like proximity and transport have to be considered before enrolling a child in a school. While alternative schools are cheaper they are not always located in proximate vicinities on account of their pedagogical requirements. The book is without doubt very informative but suffers from numerous grammatical errors and typos. The author deserves credit for painstakingly visiting such schools firsthand and gathering data and feedback. Her presentation however lacked journalistic neutrality but made-up with thoroughness and style characteristic of a journalistic background.