04 November 2007

On BAH and Counter-BAH

An associate from my department wrote and asked me:
I am speaking to the way education seems to be veering more rapidly from the path that society is taking. I have singled out BAH as one of two issues that need addressing.

Do you feel that a person working within a strong BAH can actually develop structures that are counter-BAH? Is it within their thinking to see how they cannot be in control? Is BAH not a manifestation of a left brain dominated world? How do you see BAH and "the other" co-existing?
Here's my response:

You ask some very good, and very large questions. There is a lot of background that I can share with you that might help frame and contextualize your thinking. Much of it is contained in my paper, Why Johnny and Janey Can’t Read, and Why Mr. and Ms. Smith Can’t Teach (and echoed in How Do We Know: The changing culture of knowledge).

I see the change in education as inevitable, because historically, change has move through society as inexorably as a glacier, and left a corresponding reshaping of the cultural terrain. Societies take a very long time to recognize that change is occurring, and to adapt: Most people are vested in the world to which they have been born, and the unique reality that such a world constructs for them. As I describe in Johnny and Janey, each subsequent generation is born into a world that is ever more foreign to the progenitor generation – especially now, in our time, that we have passed what I call the break boundary of the current cultural epoch. As my children become educators, managers, politicians, policy makers, and even butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, and their children replace them, and so on, each subsequent generation will have an increasing number among them that see the inadequacies of older structures and norms. The relative rate of change will appear to increase as Western society moves toward the completion of its systemic reversal, a reversal for which structural evidence is historically clear.

In the same way that Antonio Gramsci (inspired by Lenin) describes “organic intellectuals” from whom a counter-hegemony emerges that reshapes a culture, so too do a different sort of organic intellectuals emerge from among the BAH-ness to achieve what McLuhan describes as integral awareness of the total environment – simply put, what is occurring right now that is unnoticed and effectively invisible to the majority of society. I do not think that it is a matter of left-brain thinking, primarily because both left- and right-brain thinking in the modern age were structured by the lineal effects stemming from the Gutenberg era (at least according to the discourse of the Toronto School of Communication). On the other hand, there is an awful lot of both left- and right-brain stuff that emerges from the UCaPP world that we would consider to be truly innovative, wondrous and amazing. And, of course, because we have only just passed the break boundary, we really ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

When you mention control, you have hit the nail on the head. Whereas BAH is all about control, the UCaPP world recognizes the dominance of complexity principles; in the words of a good friend of mine, “you might be in charge, but you’re never in control.” It is supremely difficult for anyone who is ensconced in a BAH organization to effect the types of changes that would truly reflect and inculcate a UCaPP culture. But, surprisingly, there are some who are effecting it naturally, as one might expect from an organic, but perhaps unwitting, intellectual. I have found several organizations, some of which might be participating in my research, that are precisely making that transition from the BAH world into becoming an organization that is more consistent with the UCaPP world. They may express themselves using different vocabulary than I have chosen, but that does not diminish my observation that they do indeed seem to be quite consistent with a Valence Theory orientation.

As the language we choose defines the world we experience, I hope that some of my vocabulary will find its way into management, education, and political psyches. With an increasing number of people beginning to learn, and use, a new vocabulary, perhaps those of us who become somewhat fluent in the new language can contribute to creating a new way of being, learning, and playing joyously in the world. If history is indeed a teacher, the period of co-existence of BAH and UCaPP will indeed continue to be uncomfortable for both generations, until a future generation looks at their fully-formed UCaPP world and proclaims, “it’s always been this way; it’s just human nature.”

[Technorati tags: | | | | | ]

No comments: