Citizen Action Monitor

Our Education system is becoming less relevant for the future we are facing – Nate Hagens (30)

Less specialization and more systemic understanding should be the order of the day.

No 2313 Posted by fw, June 24, 2018

To access links to all other posts in this series, click on the Tab titled “Where Are We Going? by Dr. Nate Hagens” in the top left margin. 

“Education from a lens of intelligent foresight would focus on science synthesis, understanding our own minds, on ecological principles, dealing with uncertainty, and on the problem-solving skills which will be increasingly needed in a lower-energy-throughput society.”Resilience.org 

In yesterday’s post, Pt. 29, continuum 28, Dr. Hagens expressed concern over American culture’s tendency to reward cleverness and intelligence while concurrently failing to cultivate wisdom. “But as we increasingly reward vertical expertise within a discipline, we lose the wisdom that comes from crossing disciplines.” 

To be candid, today’s post, Pt. 30, continuum 29, was not one of Dr. Hagens’ better efforts; it lacked clarity. For instance, I failed to get the point of the “gorilla and microwave” remark, or of the ecosystem graphic. For better or worse, here is my short take on this post, reflecting E.O. Wilson’s thinking on the fusion of systems synthesis and reductionist thinking:

Hagens transitions to Pt. 30 from Pt. 29 with this lead – “… which leads me to a related point.” His related point is that America’s universities are likewise emphasizing reductionist thinking, as opposed to a fusion of systems synthesis AND reductionist thinking, leading to a deep understanding of how the world really works.

Below is the embedded video of Hagens’ 60-minute address, followed by an 18-minute Q&A session. My transcript of Pt. 30, continuum 29, runs from 41:28 to 42:23.

Alternatively, a video of Hagens’ talk, along with a “loosely related” essay on the talk, are available by clicking on the following linked title. This version, published by Resilience.org, also includes excellent readers’ comments, including responses by Hagens.

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Where are we going? by Nate Hagens, Resilience.org, May 8, 2018

TRANSCRIPT (from 41:28 to 42:23)

[OUR CULTURE] –

41:28[Continuum 29: Trivia vs Relevance] … which leads me to a related point. Much of [what] our universities are teaching are incredibly word-based and thought-based and reductionist within a silo, all the way down to the super-micro expertise within biology or sociology or chemistry.

41:49 — What we need are generalists. We need sophisticated generalists who know how the real world works. None of us know how to build a microwave. We know how to put a sandwich in the microwave for 30 seconds and then we eat it. A gorilla can learn how to use a microwave in a couple of hours.

42:07 – So, we are amazingly rich, living at 50 times the throughput of ancestors [who lived] not that long ago. But we think there are going to be do-overs*. And most of us don’t really understand how the physical world works. [*do-overs — an instance or chance of doing something for a second time or further time after an unsuccessful or unsatisfactory first attempt].

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[Resilience.org Supplement] — Trivia vs Relevance – Our Education system is becoming less relevant for the future we are facing. Primary and secondary education are a product of energy surplus. Paradoxically, they also are one of the few investments that can contribute to ‘future surplus’. Education from a lens of intelligent foresight would focus on science synthesis, understanding our own minds, on ecological principles, dealing with uncertainty, and on the problem-solving skills which will be increasingly needed in a lower-energy-throughput society. Less specialization and more systemic understanding would be the order of the present day.

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About Dr. Nathan John Hagens – Hagens, 51, worked on Wall Street at Lehman Brothers and Salomon Brothers for 10 years before closing his own hedge fund in 2003 to develop a systems synthesis approach to the human predicament. At present, Dr. Hagens is a professor at the University of Minnesota where he teaches a systems synthesis Honors seminar called Reality 101, A Survey of Human Predicament. The readings and lectures cover literature in systems ecology, energy and natural resources, thermodynamics, history, anthropology, human behavior, neuroscience, environmental science, sociology, economics, globalization/trade, and finance/debt with an overarching goal to give students a general understanding of how our human ecosystem functions as a whole.

Visit Nate Hagens’ personal website at The Monkey Trap.

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