De -Acadamize Knowledge, De-institutionalize Learning And de-intellectualizing experience!

Learning Knowledge

Let me share with you why the project to de-school, de-colonize or even develop a knowledge system to counter Western hegemony is a failed initiative from the start itself. The real solution doesn’t lie in the modern paradigm of education at all. One has to go deeply to explore the way human beings CREATE knowledge itself and how modern education turns us into analyzers and storage bins for second-hand information masquerading as knowledge.

Western knowledge system or the operating system of the modern Western mind/worldview has evolved due to dependence on the written text. This also means dependence on codified readymade knowledge. This rewires the cognitive process totally and west has taken centuries to perfect this cognitive damage. Even though they are aware of mind-body split, left brain-right brain issues, fragmentation, etc they think it is natural and it can be solved by taking certain measures. This can never happen because their linear mind will not be able to even understand the real issue. It is beyond the linear paradigm and outside the realm of language.

We, who are attempting to challenge the Western knowledge hegemony, are also trapped in this paradigm of ‘text’, ‘linearity’, and ‘certainty’.

In this paradigm, written text is the cognitive source and conscious reasoning is the cognitive tool. You can deduce how and when the celebrated ‘Age of Reason’ happened in Western history. (This is the age of treason).

Dependence on Literacy creates the formative condition for Linear, rational thinking, and dependency on certainty creates fear of the unknown and intangible thus initiating in Western culture the obsession with making things tangible, measurable, and controllable. The loss of subtlety stems from this making everything black and white as they say.

 Modern schooling (world view) is based on four fundamental flaws and they are –

1. De-contextualized education cutting the learner from the real context

2. The learner has no active role in the creation of knowledge as experience is removed completely with no role for the senses- the tool given by life to make sense of the real world.

3. Language is the cognitive source – The real world is replaced with the written word as the cognitive source

4. Reasoning as the cognitive tool to conclude instead of the life-given ability of self-organization.

Cognition can take place only in the real world and in real-time and senses are the tools that connect us to reality. Senses can only deal with the ‘now’. In the real world, we are sandwiched between the known and the unknown. Unknown being a constant element in the act of cognition reason cannot play any role. Because reason can only deal with what is known! Reasoning and language are for communication.

What has been comprehended due to self-organization has the semblance of order and this order is misunderstood as if this has been achieved through reasoning. So, by decontextualized and textualized education you remove the being who is learning from the context.

As we are accustomed to dealing with ready-made, second-hand knowledge cognitive rewiring takes place and reason is established as the tool for cognition. No wonder there is no creativity in modern schooling. Talk about creativity is pointless as the creator has been removed from the cognitive act. But mental tricks are misunderstood as creativity. This is where the De Bonos thrive- lateral thinking and all that stuff.

It is no surprise that Howard Innis and Marshal McLuhan- the medium is the message- took up communication rather than cognition as the subject to study. As you can see both were concerned about how means of communication impacts culture or the individual. They are located within the realm of the language/linguistic world.

The digital, textual, and experiential paradigms need to be understood not from the way they communicate but from the way they cognize. It is but natural that communication gets priority in the textual paradigm and everything gets defined as per its paradigm. It is interesting to note that the terms literate and illiterate or literacy and orality (Walter Ong) are all based on language and communication and not on cognition- that is not on how one makes sense of the world.

 I propose to rename ‘literates’ as ‘text cognites’ and ‘illiterates’ as ‘sense cognites’ indicating how one connects/ relates to the world or cognizes. In reality, only through ‘senses’ one can connect and text disconnects one from the context.

The fundamental shift in our being-ness is caused by cognition and then it extends to communication.

Modernity is the result of language –literacy- which primarily is a communication media becoming the source of cognition. Naturally, it impacts our sensorium. Language removes senses, body, and experience from the scene. TV, film, etc brings them back, not the natural senses but senses distorted and dictated by the fragmented and mentally constructed media. This gives an illusion of the senses functioning but in reality, it is still controlled by the mind. No wonder the modern feminist movement coincides with the coming of TV, Films, etc

Is it possible to see beyond the paradigm in which we belong? Can the linear, rational, fragmented mind understand the whole?

So how do even begin to address this without some fundamental transformation in ourselves?

The fundamental difference between indigenous non-literate cultures and the Western literate culture is that the indigenous cultures use intuition and insight as frameworks for creating, transmitting, and sustaining knowledge and the West uses reason. Through the present educational system, this shift is being brought about thus cutting us off from our roots in a very fundamental way. 

So, recovering our cultural roots lies in recovering our natural cognitive system which relies more on intuition.

Only from this state of being can we begin to address our problems and to search for solutions.

Otherwise, we will continue the plunder the earth, the reason-dominated human beings have been doing this for the past 600 years. The present destruction of the ecosystems is a direct result of the domination of reason over intuition, conscious over sub-conscious, individual over collective, self over self-less, materialism over spiritual, anthropocentrism over nature centrism and so-called scientific (western) knowledge over indigenous wisdom knowledge.

Recovering indigenous culture does not lie in getting back the artifacts from the Western museums or doing all kinds of research and documentation or sending our children to present day schools. There is no true knowledge in the schools. It also destroys intuition, our very tool for acquiring ‘life-sustaining wisdom knowledge’. In fact recovering indigenous culture might even mean doing away with the present school system, the present institutions/museums, documentation, etc.

Our main obstacle will be how to get rid of the ghost of reason and intellectuality from our being.

I am interested in a collaborative exploration of these issues.

I have also been involved in developing a process for de-fragmentation to cognize the whole and to be whole and integrated.

The attempt is to go from the realm of words and ‘concepts’ (mental world) to the realm of senses and experience.

K.B. Jinan is a designer, [email protected]

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Jinan KB

Jinan KB is a designer, seeker of knowledge who has been involved in existential research to understand the processes involved in the CREATION OF KNOWLEDGE, the formation of creativity, intelligence, aesthetics and its relation to the content of learning and the context. His primary interest has been to understand our own formation- how we develop various abilities and qualities that enable us to make sense of the world or in other words how our cognitive system gets developed in the process of exploring the world around us. This has led him to research on what conditions are favourable for the development of our ABILITY TO CREATE KNOWLEDGE, creativity, intelligence, humility, sensitivity and what conditions inhibit and distort. He has conducted several pedagogical experiments in various contexts – design and architectural education (especially the foundation year), children in formal and informal situations and with the nonliterate traditional artisans. His exposure to how children and nonliterate learn made him explore the biological roots of learning as well as the loss of biology among the so-called educated. His present research is on understanding how children learn the real world and world’s impact on children’s formation (psychological and physical) in order to re-imagine how to create conducive conditions for learning, creation of knowledge not only for children but also in ‘higher’ education. He can be reached at [email protected]

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