Michael Mendizza

Writer, Filmmaker

The real curriculum



Compulsory schooling was designed to imprint conformity, obedience to authority, and negate creativity and personal sovereignty to domesticate our uniquely human nature, open-ended development, to fit into “the system.” This fundamental design has been intensified by surveillance technologies being seamlessly infused into the curriculum, every click from birth being mined, including every response, or its lack, in school. That is a lot of personal data gathered to domesticate more effectively.

To discover what sovereign feels like, and strengthen its force as my children develop, homeschooling and unschooling were the preferred options thirty years ago. Today I meet the same challenge with Carly, age 7.5. Below are our core values as we meet this challenge together.

The real curriculum
What does it mean to be human today, and in the near future, our children’s future?

Prior to the gradual emergence of herding and farming, perhaps 10,000 years ago, over 95% of humanity’s existence was spent as small-band hunter-gatherers. Marinating in intimate relationships with kin and nature sculpted and defined what it means to be human. Civilization emerged from the rapid expansion of memory and the evolving capacity for abstract language, thought, and imagination. From this, we have been deeply conditioned to believe that being human is defined by the 3R’s, reading, writing, and arithmetic, expanding to nationalism with its biased history, and practical economic concerns, how to fit and take our place in the economic assembly belt, now replaced by digital technologies. The values defining what it means to be human flipped from entangled relationships to abstract, disembodied concepts, with devastating consequences to our true nature and the living world.

We forgot, the abstract, including our technologies, are dependent on, and serve, our embodied nature. Having lost sight of this biological imperative for 10,000 years, we have neglected, damaged, and severely crippled the foundation for appropriate use of our astonishing intellectual capacities, resulting in ‘children without conscious,’ the Sociopath, CIA, Predatory Capitalism, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and Christ’s last words, “forgive them father, they know not what they do.” We sacrifice our true nature on the altar of an abstract culture, crippling our children in the process, who, in turn, cripple society.

Appreciating that the body and how it relates define what is learned and therefore developed, leads to the axiom, ‘form is content.’ The form or structure of a learning experience is the primary content learned, with abstract content, the 3R’s, and other subjects, resting on top of embodied experience. Neglect that embodied experience and how it relates to the living world, and every abstraction, system, and technology becomes distorted.

Our real curriculum, drawing out of our children their true nature, rather than pouring in an abstract identity, flips our priorities back in alignment with our true design, that is; to nurture, build and support the highest, most complete ‘embodied’ foundation for knowledge and creative imagination to be used in the service of life and its wellbeing, not simply as another concept, rather as lived experience.

Imagine creating a learning environment, form and structure, that evokes empathy, altruism, how our body and its survival is intimately entangling with every other species, egalitarianism or social equality, intrinsic morality or goodness, emotional intelligence, empathic conflict resolution, what it means to be sovereign as a state of mind and being, to be completely free of comparison without hubris and its embarrassment and shame, to express how we feel and what we need clearly and with ease, to listen without judgment, to imagine with creative passion, like a laser, and prioritize that dream in practical steps (vision and project management), to stand without aggression and face the actions of others that harm and how to perceive the same harmful intent in ourselves, to know what basic trust feels like and be absolutely clear when it is absent, and upon that, respond in the safest way possible for everyone, to know what ecstatic joy fees like, real happiness, to see and appreciate the miracle and beauty of being a unique human being at this unique moment….. and to have this nonabstract, embodied, self-world-view or identity, serve as the guide for our creative imagination and actions.

Of course, reading and mathematics are important, like tying our shoes or driving a car. But how, why, and in what ways we use these skills are predetermined and defined by these ‘nonacademic’ capacities. The real curriculum is the development of these capacities to the highest levels possible, and upon that the academic, and the ‘practical’ rest and derive meaning. First things first, and with appropriate priority and balance.