Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Personal Ideology, education and change

Personal Ideology: What's yours?

Lindsay Meisel poses this interesting question, asking environmentalists to reflect on the confluence between individual values and political beliefs in the formation of their individual ideologies. Her question presumes that environmentalists have individual ideological perspectives that differ and can be distinguished from the collective dogma of the prevailing paradigm that (like most religions) requires the individual to buy the whole package of constructs rather than choosing from a smorgasbord of constructs in the development of an individual perspective.

Where does this learning and self -reflection occur? In part it is life experience. But when people are young or their life experience constrained by familiarity (for example, just observe how many people always order the same items in restaurants, frequent the same restaurants and participate in loyalty programs that signify their comfort level with the same service provider wherever they travel), the majority of their constructs are learnt and dependent upon their education for breadth of exposure and reflective versus structured learning.

So how is our educational system doing with respect to reflective learning, independent acquisition of constructs and breadth of ideology?

Well, it seems that kids will learn and want to learn, but the educational process does not always facilitate their learning style.

Moreover, once students enter higher education the system is predisposed to reflect only certain learning objectives and paradigms.

Recently, I reflected on my own experiences with academic freedom and its absence within the university system.

So, the question remains: are the majority of environmentalists capable of realizing an independent ideology, or will they remain bound and shackled to the limits of prevailing dogma?

One indicator this week has been the continued rhetoric and reaction of environmental activists to comments on articles that integrate the latest empirical data on climate and look to the future without presuming catastrophic AGW as a key parameter. Absent AGW, what does preclude us from perpetual progress? The reaction reveals that most activists accept AGW despite the contradictory empirical evidence precisely because their political beliefs are so well merged with their learnt constructs about the presumption of environmental limits and the desecration of pristine nature by humans.

Facts don't change an individual's perspective. Perspective changes an individual's facts.