Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sacred Values In Education

From http://www.reverendfun.com
This is from a series of excellent Atran articles up at Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution.  What's interesting to consider is whether some of this applies to education?

Sincere attachment to sacred values entails: 

  1. commitment to a rule-bound logic of moral appropriateness to do what is morally right no matter the likely risks or rewards, rather than following a utilitarian calculus of costs and consequences , 
  2. immunity to material tradeoffs, coupled with a “backfire effect," where offers of incentives or disincentives to give up SVs heighten refusal to compromise or negotiate, 
  3. resistance to social influence and exit strategies, which leads to unyielding social solidarity, and binds genetic strangers to voluntarily sacrifice for one another, 
  4. insensitivity to spatial and temporal discounting, where considerations of distant places and people, and even far past and future events, associated with sacred values significantly outweigh concerns with here and now, 
  5.  brain-imaging patterns consistent with processing obligatory rules rather than weighing costs and benefits, and with processing perceived violations of such rules as emotionally agitating and resistant to social influence. (Atran, 2015, pp. 46)


When internalized, sacred values lessen societal costs of policing morality through self- monitoring, and blind members to exit strategies. (Atran, 2015, pp. 46)

To me, it seems likely that education experiences some sacredizing.  This accounts for some of the fairly non-rational sacrifices and decisions people make with regard to educational direction and change.  It also accounts for some of the rather incoherent protectionist strategies.

One of the issues is why more (any?) successful competitors to traditional institutionalized education haven't emerged?  There are lots of hybrids, but its hard to consider most of these as being fundamentally different from the status quo. The only thing I can think of as really different are radical versions of homeschooling and potpourri buffet hybrid learning options based on student created curriculum & outcomes.

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