Emotion driven learning: Social Engineers of Standardized Education
Emotion as defined by Webster’s concise dictionary:
Any feeling; especially a strong or intense feeling, as of love, joy, fear, etc. often accompanied by complex physiological changes.
Such feelings collectively, or the power of experiencing them.
Emotion is natural and necessary to the blessings of being human.
Emotion is also the best way to seal experiences into long-term memory.
When a child or adult modifies their behavior in response to an experience, that action becomes a “learned response.” It’s obvious that this learning depends on the individual being able to retain this response, or this memory over a long period of time.
Therefore, memory and learning are intimately intertwined, literally as in neurons and dendrites, glial cells, muscle memory and emotions.
For simplification we can categorize memory into three types of memory:
1. Reflexive memory, as in a muscle stretch reflex; 2) Procedural memory, as in a skills that are practiced so often that they become cerebellar driven, such as walking, riding a bike, using language etc. 3) Declarative memory, the conscious recall of facts, events, or experiences.
Memories of varying degrees and components are stored all over the brain.
(Not to tax your memories we’ll keep this simple, because if we put you into overwhelm, we may push your dendrites into trauma, back into the limbic system, and then that would hinder our best thinking from taking place in the cortical levels of your brain.)
Let’s just review for a moment. Memory ie. Learning is best seeded when associated with emotion.
The emotion of fear is the most effective formatter of permanence in memory. But, most of us do not want to revisit fearful memories. So, a memory based in fear is not the optimal emotion for retrieval of memories.
Yet fear and its associations are powerful conditioners of avoiding certain subjects, locales, behaviors and the like. This is one example of operant conditioning of Pavlov and Skinner. This would be negative conditioning. That is, associating a negative reinforcement with a certain behavior; this also integrates any other sensory information associated with that negative experience, such as visual, tactile, auditory, smell, taste, environment and even companions etc.
Emotions, memory, and behaviors can also be positively reinforced through rewards, applause, celebrations, grades, scholarships, prosody in voice, a smile etc. that can reinforce an absolute falsehood just as well as truth. The American culture is a prime example of this reality of positive reinforcement.
Emotional “thinking” processing, first pops up in the midbrain, because it is the amygdala of the midbrain that interprets all our incoming sensory information and decides where to send it. The amygdala acts as a sort of triage nurse. Similar to any triage nurse, she can be kept quite busy, interpreting sensory information determining what to pass where and when.
This midbrain triage nurse is being kept quite busy in school classrooms of today via an increase in what is labeled in the education realm as: Social Emotional Learning or SEL.
Classrooms today have entirely Too Much Drama; too much fluff and flux.
“How do you feel about your math homework?
What do you think they think about you?
What makes you feel stressed?
Are you feeling stressed by anyone?
How do you think those folks felt about that?
What do you think it feels like to be a whatever?
How would you feel if you were a monster…an animal going extinct…a deep-sea creature…a victim of global warming…. a Greek god…a widget on a treadmill?
What can you do about your emotions?
Who at school can you share your feelings with?
Write down your thoughts in your journals on your IPADs…. and be sure to email your school counselor or this handy on-line site, if you are feeling …well emotional. Remember the school staff is here to meet all your emotional, physical and educational needs…”
There are many problems with this highly personal social emotional approach to what parents are assuming is equipping in basic education; the most obvious is that emotions are driven by the limbic system.
Emotions are not taking place in the areas of the brain noted for higher abstract thinking i.e. the cortical levels of the brain.
Living in the emotion driven limbic system is not developing cognition for rocket science, or for much of any other higher-level “thinking”, like insight to learn from the past, learn in the present, and project a positive future.
Another significant problem with emotional driven learning is that once the emotional memory has been created, conditioned, it becomes highly integrated into other areas of the brain, and it is nearly impossible to remove.
Pretty much all you can do with emotional memories, is to try to develop cognitive functions or strategies to override them when they rear their frightened emotional heads. Emotions are not like our left hemisphere friends of linear, logical, linguistic, or literal thinking. Sadly emotions often play havoc with our right brain friends as well.
Consider this neuroscience with the highly sensory driven Visual media in both chaotic texts and on-line curriculums; brains are literally drowning in stimulation reinforcing emotional conditioning. Integrate the physical movement of keyboarding, writing, or a Video game type app, which adds more myelin to the nerve fibers, resulting in faster conduction and poof! At lightspeed, these memories are in for life, and like grapeshot, they are everywhere. Good, bad and ugly. They are there.
Oh yes, emotional education engineers make it sound like it’s all just fun and games. Perhaps it is, to those who view children as Lab rats of the innovation lab network or to those bent on aligning preschool through high school social emotional learning “standards” with national standardization for creating climate and culture change.
For those of us that think otherwise, it echoes all to closely with the brave new global world leaving minds empty of abilities to think as individuals.
Minds that are formatted and driven by emotions will be vulnerable as reflexive replicators responsive to the charismatic “Fuhrer” that will continue to manipulate their emotions to control and conform them as history has revealed in countless episodes before.
Emotions are a rich part of being a living breathing human individual.
There is nothing wrong about being excited about learning absolutes or celebrating creative ingenuity of individual accomplishments. But, when emotions becomes the driving force of learning, we’ve put the cart before the horse, once again allowing the passions of the mob, to lead the revolution down a well worn path to destruction.
The only thing that is stressing most students, parents, and teachers in the American education system today, is the incessant surveying, testing, assessing, practicing for tests, and the snooping into students minds.
The next thing to disappear in public classrooms, besides the disappearing textbooks, paper and teachers, will be the desks and chairs.
It’s no exaggeration that the virtual classroom of tomorrow will be replaced by comfy couches, futons and bean bag cushions so that the student patients can relax and do group counseling, yoga, and experiential sessions as they group journal their collective emotions, and interpret Freudian pictograms in the brave new world rerun.
All brought to you by The Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning and the College of Emotional Engineering lowering the Iron Curtain once again.
The Brave New World by Aldous Huxley