education in a time between worlds

Education in a Time Between Worlds by Zachary Stein (Book Summary)

“An Education in a Time Between Worlds” by Zachary Stein is a collection of thought-provoking essays on the future of schools, technology, and society. In it, stein explores the various meta-crises of our time which he says all emerge from the crisis of education. He goes on to break down outdated educational practices and measurement systems that contribute to this societal dysfunction. Finally, he applies his vast knowledge of human development and systems thinking to present an empowering new vision for education. 

*All sentences in quotations are direct quotes from “An Education in a Time Between Worlds” and are attributed to Zachary Stein. Bold is added for skimmability. 


Understanding Human Development 

  • “In most cultures around the world, so-called “grown-ups” are usually quite immature relative to the full spectrum of human capacities and potentials that are latent inside them.”
  • “Many grown-ups are actually emotionally young, having been infantilized by consumer culture and traditional religion or alienated from their own creative powers by dull and meaningless jobs.”
  • “Overcoming neuroses, exploring latent potentials, and pursuing Self-actualization are all part of what lies beyond merely conventional definitions of what it means to be a mature adult.”
  • “Much of what we take as “common sense” and “rationality” is, in fact, a historically-emergent ecosystem of human capabilities which must be reconstructed by the individuals of each new generation and could, by implication, potentially cease to broadly characterize humanity if educational systems change significantly — for better and for worse.”
  • “Late-stage capabilities are fragile, domain specific, and context-sensitive accomplishments which can be stabilized over time, but are likely to remain transient optimal performances that are heavily dependent on social and environmental scaffolding.” 
  • “People are not always admirable just because they are highly developed along certain important parameters and just because someone has shown up in one context as highly developed does not mean they will show up in all contexts that same way. The farther reaches of human development are as messy and complex as the rest.”
  • “Each person’s mind is an ecosystem of evolving capacities, each and every mind is autonomous, creative, and unique, and each is worthy of respect.” 
  • “Development is a dynamic process of individuation through socialization; an individual negotiates their identity in relation to the desires of significant elders, peers, and broad cultural patterns.” 

Understanding and applying Integral Meta-Theory to education 

  • “Meta-theories can be understood as a wide-ranging set of new approaches to understanding the nature of knowledge, reality, and human inquiry.
  • “One of the defining aspects of our postmodern culture is its lack of meta-theory and meta-narrative, and the related inability of individuals to build universalized and historicized self-understandings.” 
  • “One of the most powerful things a meta-theory can do is to convince the world it does not exist, or more typically, that there is simply no alternative.”
  • The idea at the core of reductive human capital theory as an educational meta-theory is that the main function of educational systems is to supply the economy with the next generation of workers.”
  • “In no other time during the history of educational systems has there been such a need for an orienting “theory of everything” as there is today. There is simply too much information to use.”

3 worlds: 

The subjective world   The intersubjective world   The objective world
The Beautiful  The Good The True 
Art Morals Science
Self Culture Nature




  • “These sets of three “worlds” can also be understood as a system of basic perspectives or stances that can be taken up: first-person, second-person, and third-person.” 

The Four Quadrants Model from Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory:  

Upper Left Quadrant – I – Subjective 

(thoughts, emotions, memories, states of mind, perceptions, and immediate  sensations)

Upper Right Quadrant – It – Objective 

(material body (including brain) and anything that you can see or touch (or observe scientifically in time and space)

Lower left quadrant  – We – Intersubjective 

(shared values, meanings, language, relationships, and cultural background)

Lower Right Quadrant Its – Interobjective  – 

(systems, networks, technology, government, and the natural environment. )


  • “The point of the quadrants is to suggest that any view that leaves out any of these realities is partial and lacking some essential insight.”
  • “Social reality consists at least of individuals enmeshed in cultural and social systems that are reproduced in relation to natural realities.” 
  • “An integral meta-theory of education contrasts with reductive human capital theory. Education is conceived as not only or primarily about the limited technical challenge of arranging for the “functional fit” of individuals into the economy and social system. Education is also and primarily an ethical and cultural challenge concerning the meaning-making of individuals and groups.” (Note – education has traditionally been designed through the lens of the low right quadrant while neglecting the left quadrant perspectives) 
  • “At certain times in history Lower-Right contexts exert disproportionate influence; that is, specifically during times when these contexts are shifting rapidly and seemingly outside the intentional control of humanity.”
  • “The climate has been an ever-present factor in evolution, catalyzing both extinctions and emergence. In human social systems, war and economic crises often have the same kind of impact as a climatological catastrophe.” 
  • “An integral meta-theory of education states that the goals of education should not be predominantly concerned with Lower-Right outcomes; education is more than job training and socialization.
  • “Education today cannot be primarily about achieving a functional fit between new generations and the existing social system, because the existing system is in a state of flux.”
  • “Integral Education is simply education that is good, true, and beautiful.”


Forms of Education 

  • “Schooling, as we have known it, is just one form of education — albeit a particularly important and powerful form.”
  • “Recent educational configurations have also involved the rise of publishing industries, television, film,  and Internet content providers.”
  • “All these new mediums of modern education must be transcended and included within a new kind of educational system.” 


The Educational Crisis (problems of education)

  • An educational crisis occurs when the complexity of task demands outstrips the available capabilities.”
  • “There is a false sense of scarcity surrounding human potential, learning, and education.”
  • “We are scrambling for solutions to an educational crisis involving profound inequalities of learning opportunity between the haves and have-nots.”
  • “Education must no longer be something that is kept behind closed doors, requiring special privileges and capital to obtain.”
  • “All current global crises might best be understood as crises of education.”
  • “Large public schools as we have known them are in the process of receding from the center of social life and will soon no longer be synonymous with education.” 
  • “Since the 1980s, the American mass-schooling model has expanded. It has been dumbing-down culture, burdening students with billions of dollars of personal debt, and limiting our collective sense of what is possible economically, ethically, and personally.”
  • “Ivan Illich, wrote the now classic book, Deschooling Society, published in 1971. It remains one of the most radical pieces of educational theory ever written. Just as the title suggests, Illich argues for getting rid of schools altogether and, in effect, taking education away from the nation-state and handing it back over to the local community, family, and individual.”
  • “This is preferable because modern mass-schooling creates a culture in which individuals are dependent upon experts to tell them what to think, and are this disempowered with regards to their own knowledge and learning.” 
  • “Beginning in the 1980s and leading up through the first decades of the twenty-first century, global educational systems became subject to a form of authoritarian modernization, wherein neoliberal reductive human-capital theorists aligned with conservative (and in the US, religious fundamentalist) political actors to create a hegemonic block. During these decades, educational systems became increasingly characterized by career-oriented technical knowledge, conservative social values, standardized forms of curriculum and testing, authoritarian social relations, privatization, and marketization.”
  • “A few wealthy organizations are drastically and unilaterally impacting the shape of schooling, displaying without disguise the interests and power of capital in shaping human development.”
  • “Education can be either a liberating factor or a force of oppression. “
  • Schools have been built largely to control and channel populations, disseminate what counts as “official knowledge,” and socialize new generations into particular economic and social structures.”
  • When social systems are in periods of rapid transformation the role of schools becomes contradictory. They teach knowledge that is no longer relevant, socialize individuals into roles that no longer exist, and provide the mindsets needed to continue ways of life that are rapidly disappearing.”
  • “Those preoccupied with “fixing” the existing system of schools do not stop to ask questions about what schools are for, who they serve, and what kind of civilization they perpetuate.”
  • “Schooling still largely consists of teachers filling passive students with information and then asking them to recite it back.” 
  • We appear to have been so amazed by our unprecedented levels of access to information that we have forgotten how to ask questions about the quality of information.
  • As psychology grew beyond the laboratory, the importance and prestige of measurement remained and the practice of mental testing became central to the identity of the emerging discipline. IQ testing in particular captured the public imagination and quickly found its way into the plans of policy makers and educational reformers. 
  • “Modern educational systems are dominated by testing infrastructures that neglect the all-quadrant complexity of social reality, levels of human development, and dynamics of human learning.”
  • “Reasonable individual responses (like restlessness) to repressive institutional conditions — like disassociation from the environment, extreme boredom, and inability to find relevance in the assignment — have become the basis for the identification of disease and the prescription of drugs.” 
  • “When educationally oriented psychopharmacology are used to affect the outcome of identity formation, a child’s ability to negotiate their own identity can be lost, as the preferences of parents or prevalent cultural norms are literally built into their biology.”
  • “Parents, cultures, or schools that severely constrain the choices available to children during identity formation are rightfully seen as repressive.
  • “All children have “the right to an open future” in which they can act autonomously and responsibly.” 
  • A common misconception in so-called progressive and alternative educational theory is that students will learn better of they are more or less left alone in an environment rich with resources.”
  • “Deschooling and constructivist pedagogies often take too far the (true and good) idea that real learning requires some degree of autonomy on the part of the student.”
  • Freedom is unhealthy and inappropriate to the extent that exercising it disallows greater future freedom.”
  • “Children (and many adults) do not know what is good for them and often cannot be recruited to their own cause.”
  • “There is a difference between doing something to someone, doing something for someone, and doing something with someone. Ideally, education is undertaken with someone.”
  • When it is clear that an individual is not willing or able to take responsibility for his or her own development, we are obligated to override this individual’s autonomy to some degree.”
  • “In coercive and unjust educational interventions, a person becomes someone they would not have chosen to be had they known what was possible and been empowered to choose. This is education done to them, not for them.” 



Educational technologies

  • “Informational technologies are not, by definition educational technologies.”
  • “The design of educational technologies must be a deeply deliberate practice, informed by philosophical meta-theory, human development, and the new sciences of learning.” 
  • “Today it is mostly market dynamics that determine what educational technologies are available, and there is no oversight or quality control in the educational technologies industries, which are rapidly growing nonetheless.”
  • “Search engines and social networking sites are not epistemologically reflective, nor are they developmentally challenging, both of which are important aspects of healthy and powerful educational environments.”
  • “Most open-source content platforms cede all authority to the user, which is the classic mistake of progressive and constructivist pedagogies.”
  • “Educational technologies should be bringing people together away from screens — not isolating individuals alone in front of screens.”
  • “Adults largely use the internet to engage advertisment-laden streaming content and social media.”
  • “The internet does not facilitate the kind of transparent freedom of expression that is suitable for healthy socialization and learning. Rather social media-based forms of communication involve a basic funneling and distorting of expression and discourse, which become wrapped in surveillance by advertisers and government agencies and then packaged to induce narcissism and addiction.”
  • “The technologies of intimacy we use to communicate ourselves to the world literally force us to sell ourselves in the process, which leaves us feeling exploited. The co-optation of our personal communication as a means for selling advertisements reinforces the messages from our broader culture that the self is only a means to the end of profit making.”


The Measurement Crisis

  • “What a society chooses to measure is always tied into that society’s shared narrative about the way the world works and what is valuable within it.
  • “A measurement crisis occurs when society loses touch with reality because it has institutionalized a systematically distorted measurement infrastructure.
  • Measures and standards facilitate cooperation and trust at a distance across cultures, while also enabling complex institutional processes that are often exclusionary, exploitative, and oppressive. They constitute what the great moral theorist John Rawls would call basic structures.”
  • Basic structures are social structures we enter into by virtue of entering into society at all.”
  • Basic structures are a non-negotiable precondition of life in a complex society. We do not opt into or join up with society; we are always already members of it, and will always live in terms of at least some of its basic structures.”
  • We participate in these structures and conduct our lives according to them, yet we did not choose them — we just happened to be born in a certain time and place. They shape our fate as if they are a part of nature, yet they are social constructions.”
  • “The history of measurement has been a history in which the privileged and empowered have been the creators and institutionalizers, while the oppressed and powerless have had no choice but to use their master’s tools and definitions of reality.” 
  • “All ancient cultures had measurement practices that were modeled on the dimensions and proportions of the human body.”
  • “The difference between civilization and barbarism came to be seen as the difference between those who had good measures and those who did not.”
  • Measurement infrastructures are difficult structures to change once they have been in place for a time.”
  • “Path dependence…..once a complex system is far enough along a particular path it becomes cheaper and easier to just stay on that path. (This is one of the reasons that the United States does not use the metric system.)”
  • “Humanity must find a way beyond measures of total abstraction.” 
  • “A measure or standard built to address a reality in any one quadrant will have impacts on all other quadrants. This is to say that no matter what quadrant a measure focuses on, the measure itself is an all-quadrant affair.” 
  • “Measurement practices enact realities. They serve as lenses and function to represent aspects of the world in ways that garner consensus, thus profoundly shaping individual and cultural perceptions of reality.”
  • Measurement is intrinsically related to power. Those who have the power to create and institutionalize measures and standards control society.”
  • “Measurement induces reflection. We see ourselves through our measures and standards.”
  • There is a historical correlation between the availability of bathroom scales and incidents of anorexia, beginning with their widespread introduction into homes in the 1950s.”
  • “There is also correlations between the rising number of diagnostic categories in the DSM and the rising number of individuals diagnosed as mentally ill.”
  • “To measure something is to show it exists, and to think you see it clearly. This can be empowering or dangerously misleading.” 
  • Measures determine what counts as research and science.”
  • To make a new measure is to catalyze an expansion of what can be known, as well as what “counts” as known from a social systems perspective.” 
  • “The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is regarded by some as no less than the beginnings of a “world state.” 
  • “It is maintained and staffed by the very corporations and organizations that it certifies. This leads to the creation of “self-certifying codes of conduct” where compliance to a new standard and related measure is displayed as a public “seal of approval,” which has actually been self-constructed by a corporation as a smoke-screen against potential bad press or litigation.”
  • “The standards and measures created, sold, and disseminated by the ISO have encircled the planet in a kind of late capitalist “consensus reality” of homogenized processes and measurement-intensive regimes.”
  • “Postmodernism is about difference, and marking out more differences requires more measurement.”
  • It has been known for some time that GDP (gross domestic product) is a simplistic misrepresentation of the health of any national economy. It is also a poor index of cultural modernity, human rights violations, and democracy. Yet GDP continues to be discussed in a serious manner and continues to drive national economic agendas.”
  • “Highly profitable companies and nations with rapidly rising GDP often house staggering inequalities of wealth.”
  • “Take something that people can do or get for free and sell it back to them — that is what makes for economic value according to simplistic growth-oriented measures like GDP.”
  • Discourse, argumentation, and decisions by juries are good, because they are more participatory and qualitative. But the benefit of a simple vote is its straightforward and quantitative right/wrong determination.”
  • “Nevertheless, voting is a crude technology invented thousands of years ago, and does not do a good job of representing the complexity and stratified nature of human interiorities. It is not a good basis for the election of officials or for the creation of law.” 
  • “We are over-measured, super-standardized, and caught in a web of complex self-shaping infrastructures — all this right at the moment when we are least sure of what the shape of our humanity ought to be.”
  • “Simplistic summary statistics are totally inadequate for the task of understanding dynamic systems.
  • “Money reduces all other measures used in the marketplace to one universal measure of value.”
  • “The power of money to reduce all measures to one is also the source of its greatest danger. Money homogenizes value and renders invisible many important differences between commodities.”
  • “Innovations in the measurement and restlessness representation of interiority are necessary for the future of the democratic regulation of large-scale organizations.” 
  • “We must learn to respect the irreducibility of subjectivity and the irreducibility of the sacred and unique in every object and person.” 
  • “Measures reveal sameness, and can be used to standardize or homogenize perception. Or measures can be used in a way to literally reveal and see uniqueness, to display individual differences, and (ideally) to valorize the immeasurable.”
  • “Activism addressing the redesign of education, measurement infrastructures, and standards-based regulatory practices should be understood as a kind of sacred activism. It is an endeavor to make measurement practices sacred again by reclaiming ancient ideas about the role of measurement in the creation of basic structures that align with natural realities as well as human aspirations for justice, truth, and beauty.” 


The Identity Crisis

  • “Social media and popular culture suggest that we live in a time of identity crises, a time in which the self-understanding of humanity is changing.”   
  • “Our species is playing out an identity crisis on the world stage, and for the first time we are collectively facing the fact we do not know what it means to be human.”
  • “Pathological narcissism is a sign of a weak ego structure — of a personality not convinced of its true uniqueness.”  
  • “Narcissism involves compensating for doubts about one’s unique worth by emphasizing separateness and specialness, and thus setting up comparisons in which others are seen as less special.”
  • “The cure for the narcissism that plagues our culture is, in fact, a deepening of considerations about uniqueness.”


Other Relevant Meta-Crises 

  • “The economic crisis is a crisis of capacity and decision-making, as the sheer complexity of the global economy has long outstripped the analytical tools used to understand it.”
  • “The ecological crisis is better thought of as a crisis of consciousness — the noosphere is the problem, not the biosphere — what we is truly a crisis of decision-making, resulting from erroneous and demi-real worldviews.”
  • “The mind and body are connected, so it would make sense that crises in health care systems would correlate with crises in personality systems.” 
  • “The external crises of world-system and biosphere and the internal crises of identity and legitimation all require a fundamentally new approach to education, entailing the end of what we have known as schooling.” 


Understanding the Anthropocene 

  • “We have entered a new geological epoch known as the Anthropocene.
  • This term is now being used to mark a formal unit of geologic time suggesting that humanity has so impacted the Earth’s basic physical constitutes (especially its atmospheric and chemical composition) that our age constitutes a new geological phase of planetary development.”
  • Humanity’s fate is now intertwined with the fate of the planet itself.” 
  • Between 2011 and 2013 the Chinese poured 50% more concrete than was poured in the United States during the whole of the twentieth century.” 
  • The Anthropocene is a direct result of the modern capitalist world-system, which began to emerge during the sixteenth century and which today represents the largest functionally integrated social unit the human species has ever created.” 
  • When any complex system reaches its structural limits, an evolutionary crisis ensues and a fundamentally new kind of system must be painfully and violently born.
  • We are currently in just such an evolutionary crisis; we inhabit a transition between world-systems.”


The Problem of Bad Metaphors 

  • Metaphors form an inescapable and ubiquitous aspect of our meaning-making systems, especially when it comes to describing things we cannot see or do not quite understand, such as the human mind.”
  • We tend to speak about things we do not understand as if they worked like the things we do understand. This can be a powerful aid to understanding, but it can also lead to distortions, errors, and a comforting illusion of knowledge where there is really only confusion.” 
  • “By the 1980s, the metaphor of the “mind-as-computer” was fully embraced by the emerging field of cognitive science, and this metaphor continues to dominate thinking today.”
  • “Piaget argued that the mind is best understood as an evolving organism — living, growing, and self-regulating in a metabolic relationship to its environment. According to this view the mind is best understood as a complex and dynamic system — always in process, always changing, growing, and becoming more diverse and differentiated.” 
  • The mind-as-ecosystem metaphor allows educators to understand differences in how people learn, not as disabilities, but as alternative pathways of growth.”
  • “Variability should be expected and then leveraged.” 
  • “If the mind is both context sensitive and dynamically self-regulating, then this variability in performance makes sense. Change the context and you change what the mind can do.”
  • “Fundamentally changing our dominant metaphor for the mind requires fundamentally changing our educational practices. It would make us change everything, from standardized testing to classroom activities. “
  • Only by means of friction against other minds….does thought come to be conscious of its own aims and tendencies….We have on many occasions stressed the point that the need for checking and demonstration is not a spontaneous growth in the life of the individual; it is on the contrary a social product.”


Optimal Learning 

  • Your mind does not need to be coerced to learn — learning is its natural state.”
  • Schooling, on the other hand, is quite unnatural, and that is why all known public school systems have required some form of coercion.”
  • “The Skill Scale is a model of the basic qualitative and structural transformations characteristic of the development of thought, emotion, and action across the lifespan.”
  • “In this context, the term skill should be taken in a very general sense, as the most basic unit of psychological process.”
  • “Skills are built actively, dynamically, and by individuals in specific contexts.”
  • “Imagine that each different skill and idea you have is like a living organism: they all grow relative to the time and attention they are given, and as a result of being in some contexts rather than others.”
  • “All of your skills and ideas are co-evolving, sometimes joining together to create higher-order skills, and sometimes differentiating into sub-skills as they are refined relative to environmental niches.”
  • “Your skills and ideas also compete for energy and exercise”
  • “You may be on the verge of a major evolutionary leap forward, while at the moment you appear to be struggling.”
  • Learning is optimized when it involves sustained interpersonal relationships, emotional connection, embodiment, and dynamically interactive hands-on experiences. 
  • A big part of learning is being with other people and cooperating across generations and skill levels.”
  • “All good teaching requires that the teacher learn from their student, even if only to understand where they are coming from.” 


The importance of Spiritual teachers & Religious Education 

  • “Religiosity has become spirituality, and the religions, the spiritual.
  • “Religion has connotations of institutionalization, while spirituality is related with non-institutionalized and often eclectic beliefs and practices.”
  • “Both terms refer to configurations of education, practice, and belief that are basically ways of addressing topics of ultimate concern.”
  • “Hundreds of different religious groups could be found in New York City when its population was still only several hundred thousand.”
  • “Today Americans are paradoxically the most religious and the most modern; the most spiritual and the most materialistic. 
  • “Authority must be granted or given — one must arrange to be seen as an authority.”
  • “The teacher has a peculiar form of authority…. It is viewed as nonproblematic, and necessary, because, (1) it is affecting development, and (2) it is phase-temporary or phase-specific. That is, the teacher’s authority over the pupil is temporary; it effectively evaporates once the pupil’s degree of understanding approaches that of the teacher” – Ken Wilber
  • “Either religious teachers are there to bring you up to their level of understanding — in which case their authority is phase-temporary — or they exist to keep you in your place, which by definition is somewhere below or under them.” – Ken Wilber 
  • “Integral theory takes enlightenment and liberation seriously and offers them up as very real human potentials.” 
  • “Unique Self Theory involves an essential distinction between the personal before realization (of non-dual and radically impersonal Emptiness or Godhead) and the personal that re-emerges after this realization.”
  • The universal finds its expression only in and through an infinite variety of uniquely personal forms.”
  • “Gafni seeks to redefine enlightenment in its most basic terms as sanity.”
  • Unique Self Theory provides a framework for guiding individuals on a unique journey of awakening, which means that the teacher does not know the exact shape of the outcome, nor could a single teacher claim to be the one true guide on such a journey.”
  • Each person is a unique word in an endless sentence spoken by God, whose illocutionary goal is total self-expression.” 
  • “Today our enthusiasms for Eastern spiritual imports are leading us away from a language of individual rights and democracy leveraged so eloquently by Reverend Dr. King, a language which has served as the most powerful catalyst of social change in history.”
  • “In a cultural context where religious traditions are perceived in complex and contested ways — and religious believers are some of the most dynamic and dangerous ideologues and activists — the unabashed use of religious languages and practices by a highly educated subculture in the post-industrial West is cause for pause.” 
  • “With the exception of Wilber and Emerson, none of the aforementioned public intellectuals were religious adepts offering explicitly soteriological and eschatological message”. 
  • “Some of Wilber’s central concepts have explicit origins in spiritual practices and religious ideational frameworks, which makes his work part of an attempt to explicate what Habermas has referred to as the “untapped” semantic potentials of religious language.” 
  • “Religious discourse should be understood as being constituted by an anthropologically deep-seated interest in awakening to knowledge of God (Reality, Tao, Buddha-Nature, etc.)”
  • “Making sense of religion in the twenty-first century is a must for any viable world philosophy.”



A New Vision of Education (13 Pathways)

  • “A truly ideal and just educational system would be freed from all subservience to economic considerations and entirely dedicated to the furtherance of human potential.”
  • “Our great school systems need to be repurposed and redesigned, transformed into unprecedented institutions that are a combination of public libraries, museums, co-working centers, computer labs, and cooperative child care centers.”
  • “Funded to the hilt, staffed by citizen-teacher-scientists, these public and privately supported learning hubs would be the local centers of regionally decentralized pop-up classrooms, special interest groups, apprenticeship networks, and college and work preparation counseling.”
  • “There have been cultures in which the young were educated into a form of life known by their parents and grandparents. And there have been cultures in which adults prepared children for new forms of life, which they did not know but could envision and understand. We live today in a culture in which we must prepare children for forms of life we cannot anticipate.”
  • Changes in society impact education, just as changes in education impact society.
  • “What this dynamic implies is that educational reform can begin in many places, including changes in labor markets, family systems, military service requirements, and social welfare programs.” 

13 social miracles that can lead to a transformation of education:

  1. Debt Jubilee for students (and nations)
  • “When you owe a lot of money, you don’t take the job you want that fits your unique gifts; you take whatever job you can find that offers enough to pay your bills.”
  • “If money is scarce, and education costs money, then I start to think about education in terms of money, which reduces education to a commodity.”
  • “Freeing students from a debt-based systems of education would free them to be learners again, instead of consumers caught up in the calculating logic of self-interest.”
  1. Basic Income Guarantee
  • “Every person has a basic right to live, regardless of the economic value they contribute to society.”
  • “For most people today, the scarcity of money is a barrier to the actualization of their most important potentials (of course, too much money can also be a barrier)”
  • “We distort our unique gifts into the shape of the job we need instead of being freed to find or create the job that needs us.”
  • Modern humans are the only animals that have to make and use money in order to get what they need to survive. And money does not grow on trees.”
  • “This connection between money and basic survival gives money and paid work a remarkable existential power, and explains to some extent why money can come to be confused with life and value itself.”
  1. Integral Decentralized Social Safety Net
  • “When governments build huge bureaucracies to handle education, health, and other social entitlements they are too often alienating, inefficient, and infantilizing. Instead of the “one-size-fits-all” dependency inducing welfare state, the integral social safety net must be engineered to emerge from a complex orchestration of decentralized cooperative hubs.”
  • It cannot be a top-down system, out of touch with those being helped, and run by some centralized bureaucracy.
  • “Lack of access to basic health care, sanitation, and safety can explain a great deal of the continued wide-spread under-actualization of human potential globally.”
  1. Democratic Governments, Workplaces, and Schools
  • Many democracies around the world (but especially in the United States) have largely devolved into dysfunctional oligarchies.”
  • Non-democratic forms of governance are antithetical to the emergence of educational abundance.”
  • “True democracy is intrinsically educational because it is a process that seeks a continued opening into new experience and learning.”
  1. Public Regulation of Investment and Finance Sectors
  • “Banks should serve the people and create value only insofar as they enable the expression of human potentials through extension of credit and the facilitation of value transactions.”
  • “Anyone who thinks that being liberated from debt and provided with an income guarantee would make people lazy and disincentivize work does not understand human nature.”
  • “Freed from work as a necessity, we would all be in a position to take up work as a vocation and carve out a unique path for ourselves.”
  • Imagine if all the surplus money went into a common, publicly controlled fund that was essentially used like a vast kickstarter platform, where projects of all sizes would be funded through the democratically determined allocation of society’s surplus resources.”
  1. Legal and Economic Systems That Value the Biosphere for Its Own Sake
  • “The idea here is not to “save” the biosphere in order to save humanity, which is an understandable but problematic view of the situation.”
  1. Renewable and Inexhaustible Energy
  • “Energy is not naturally scarce, as some things are (such as oil and diamonds). Alternative technologies have been systematically sidelined and shelved in order to secure the continuation of status quo perceptions of scarcity.”
  1. Reappropriation of the Land: Agriculture and Geography
  • “The arable land must be given back to the people and we must each know again what it is to grow, process, learn about, and live within our local food system.”
  • “Virtually all of the borders and claims to land ownership that now exists can be traced back to some kind of theft, violence, or war.”
  1. Total Planetary Demilitarization
  2. Mutual Respect Between Major Religions of the world

11. Absence of Oppression Based on Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation, etc.

  • “The majority of the forms of oppression based on difference that we encounter today are unique and stem from the dynamics of the capitalist world-system.”
  • “The systems of discrimination and oppression that exist today are the result of a long and complex socio-cultural history; including economic and educational systems that reproduce it.”
  1. Universal De-Alienation and Re-Humanization
  • “Each individual has massive reserves of untapped potential, often squandered and neglected during the struggle to make a living and conform to social roles that deny individual potency and uniqueness.”
  1. Science and Technology in the Interest of Human Flourishing and Exploration


Questions for Consideration 

  • “What and whose knowledge should be passed on to future generations and why?”
  • “How should this knowledge be organized, archived, made available, and taught?” 
  • “What if we understood the economy as merely an infrastructure enabling a vast educational system, with all of our entrepreneurial efforts channeled toward the betterment of human understanding and experience?”
  • “What broader social conditions need to be in place to enable educational institutions to be at their best, impacting all students in radically positive ways, enabling self-actualization of the whole person from childhood through old age?”
  • “Most of our major social structures, such as labor markets and legal systems, are designed to promote economic growth — period. What if they were designed to promote human development and learning instead?”
  • “Without money as the dominant metric governing society, what alternative hierarchies of value might emerge?”
  • To whom and for what kinds of reasons do we grant a teacher the authority to shape the religious and spiritual contours of our lives?”
  • “When no longer compelled by war and profit, and when no longer convinced of our specialness and separateness from nature, what might our future technologies look like?