Affective Social Education: Toward a Hopeful Future


 Presenter (s) James Michael Brant, World Institute for Social Education Development

Throughout the history of Social and Political Science, many theories, philosophies, and schools of thought have surged. These all have one common thread, that none of them have completely solved the problems ailing humankind’s civilization. In six thousand years of man’s recorded history, we can also observe the common thread of strife, competition, war, fear, distrust, slavery, imperialism, militarization, economic imbalance, waste, and destruction. If any social hypothesis could ever be ranked as a reliable principle, it would have to be George Wilhelm Hegel’s poignant observation, “We learn from history that we don’t learn from history.”
In the long list of “isms” and “ologies”, interestingly enough, there seems to be one which is widely overlooked, or possibly, not given a fair chance, as far as a workable system for society or a profession worthy of study. When the topic has been approached, it has been considered simplistic, pseudo-religious, or as sometimes heard today, “new-age” or even a leftover from the “flower power generation”; anything but a viable way of politically ordering man’s common existence on the planet. Perhaps it does not sound academic enough. A simple term would be “Lovology”, but to be appropriately academic, we’ll call it here “Affective Social Education” and combine it with Global Citizenship to have relevance to the Global Village. We will call the first ASE and the second GC. The term “Affective” refers to the ability to move people to action through their emotions, yet in conjunction with the cognitive domain of their human psyche. In this case, the goal is to move them to be kinder than they normally are individually, as well as collectively, regardless of differences in background, race or culture.

Identifying the Problem
Traditionally, one region’s or country’s lifestyle or world view would be considered their own affair, as long as it did not infringe upon a neighboring region’s affairs, but in today’s world, there is much more interconnection, and so one country’s actions quickly affect the others. Disagreements or differences between regions have come to be considered as cultural, economic, or perhaps political inevitabilities; even the norm. The aggregate effect of so many of these situations currently weighs heavily upon our global village, rife with strife.

Exploring a Solution
In this study we identify human commonalities and explore the possibilities of forming bonds through them. The essence of being human does not vary in that the individual in each neighborhood of this global village seeks what we could broadly call happiness or fulfillment reflected in Maslow’s ascending forms of human needs: food and warmth, shelter and security, friends and love, accomplishment and recognition, fulfillment and creativity. Later was added an even higher, transcendental and eternal level; the meaning of one’s life in the context of the universe.

If these foundational characteristics of humanity are indeed universal; if agreed that all men aspire to them, although not all attain to the same levels; why can humanity not dwell in peace and harmony on the planet when our basic essence is the same? What keeps us from this? If some “magic potion” exists that can conciliate our conflicting interests, what could it be?

To facilitate our logical thinking process, we use a syllogism:
A: Education is recognized as an indicator for future development of humanity.
B: Some of the results of our combined education over the past 50 years or more are questionable, as to their effectiveness in bringing sustainable true development to humanity.
C: Therefore, the content, methodology, and or emphasis of the past 50 years or more of at least some of our education could be questionable.

Could it be that the components of what we consider human education are out of balance or proportion? Let’s take a heuristic look. Do we need Science in order to develop? Most would say yes. Technology? Yes. Engineering? Yes. Arts? Yes. Mathematics? Yes. (We just spelled out the acronym STEAM education.) Why is the global result of this education still ushering us to global conflict? Could it be that we have minimized the “soft skill” domain of human education and therefore those hard skills are being used as weapons rather than tools of construction? Could that be why most of the products of our economic progress become the possessions of relatively few? The current estimate is that 1% of the population owns 50% of the world’s wealth and 10% of the population owns 85%.

Consider a Picasso painting with the grotesque sideways nose, out-of-place mouth, melted ear, etc. Some people might find fascination at the artist’s imagination, but few, if any would want to marry that guy or girl in the painting. Making the analogy that our education and resulting society is “that guy or girl”, all the components are there, but “something is wrong in the picture”.

In our presentation, we report the effects of Affective Social Education applied in the contexts of neighborhood community centers called Bridge of Hope Centers, curriculum in school programs, teacher training, and in- service corporate business and management training. Love and compassion are not learned in a vacuum, but rather by acting upon them, and so the education is applied to concrete social action, simple people helping simple people, regardless of what the rich and powerful or governments might or might not be doing. This research covers a variety of countries and work across borders to promote cooperation and understanding.
Although the solution we posit may not solve all our world’s problems, we have seen that it does have a significant influence and can contribute to a solution.

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