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  • Curriculum and the Dream Paradigm

    - Stephen Schafer

     This is a prospective: and, as the reader knows, a prospective is not a proof.  It is a speculation about the future-in this case, hopefully, the very near future.  A prospective is a hypothesis that is unproved but logically feasible.  If successful, this prospective will serve to generate a great deal of discussion and research based on a set of what some might consider an unusual premise-complex.  However, it is only an ignorant posture that would consider them unusual.  Such ignorance could only be attributed to an outdated educational curriculum based on the scientific-materialistic paradigm.  Most of the elements of this study's premise have been scientifically and logically authenticated in myth, linguistics, literature, philosophy, science and the media. The following hypothesis relative to the efficacy of a game curriculum appears to be consistent with standard logic.

    I.  Human reality is like a dream.

    II. A cultural dreamer exists and can be viewed in terms of classical correspondence theory.

    III. A culture's media constitutes its dreams.  Moreover, the flexibility and indulgences of the free press allow the media in the United States to expresses the infinite content of a rich collective psyche.

    IV. A cursory analysis of the media of dreams leads to the prognosis that the personae of many cultures including the United States suffer from symptoms of disease.

    V. The existence and causes of psychological disease in a culture are consistent with symptoms and causes of disease in an individual.  Syndromes of cultural psychological distress can be observed and addressed using the Jungian principles of dream analysis.

    VI. The objective of dreams is Compensation (harmonization) in the psychic field (as defined by Jung).  The media dream can be viewed as compensation for cultural imbalance.  Educating a populace to recognize this and respond to the messages sent by the media dream will tend to the harmonization or correction of psychological problems in a culture.  Compensation is a teacher that operates in the psyche of healthy as well as disturbed individuals.

    VII. The media dream can be augmented and understood according to the methodology of Jungian dream analysis-as the dreams emerging from the psyche of a people.  Jungian methodology is based in three types of dreams and three principles.  Dream types are based on different gradients on a continuum of dreams arising mostly from the unconscious to dreams rising mostly from the conscious state.  The three Jungian principles are:

    • Conditionalism: (knowing the patient, patient centered treatment),
    • Amplification: (the psyche constantly adjusts to the process of analysis)
    • The Prospective Aspect: (a particular class of dreams that are prophetic of potentials and are characterized by the symbolism of universal archetype)

    VIII. Jungian principles of dream analysis can be programmed into a serious role-playing game based on Joseph Campbell's Journey of the Hero.  The parameters of analysis (i.e. dream principles and types, character types, clinical case studies, player self-analysis and objectives) would be keyed to an array of symbolic

    Archetypal content programmed with a degree of psychological authenticity.  The efficacy of role playing exercises for psychological growth and problem solving is well established, and Role Playing Games (RPGs) provide an obvious application format.  RPGs have enormous untapped potential for motivating students, incorporating synergistic curricular content, and improving content retention.  Most RPGs are already structured according to the implicit process of initiation that the Journey represents.  Game levels, their mechanisms and trials could easily be adjusted to incorporate significant curricular content, and the achievement of increasingly difficult levels would constitute mastery of the subject.  However, going beyond analytical processes, mastering a level would put a premium on a student's ability to apply learned principles synergistically.  Not only is roll playing and Journey structure built into RPGs, such games are predisposed to the incorporation of mythic content and value structures.  Such predisposition, if honestly deployed, would tend to maintain multi-cultural integrity.  Such games would be superior in their potential to motivate student/players by virtue of a quantum leap in player identification, plot complexity and depth of avatar and AI verisimilitude.  At the same time, the player would achieve significant levels of specific knowledge in areas of language, science, math, psychology, and logic.

    IX. Due to interactivity, the medium of games has all of the dimensions of the medium of dreams and can reinforce the dynamics of navigating the Psych-ecology.  The particular medium of games has the potential to trigger a more authentic (intensive and synchronistic) interactivity within the personal and collective psyche.  For this reason the game medium would constitute a quantum leap in potential for realization of the primary objectives of education: erudition, civility, and wisdom. Among the authentic skills that would be developed are:

    • Expertise in the practical use of the media (symbolic logic, language, and math) as it is applied to human creativity.
    • Practical experience with the laws of psyche-physics and correspondence as they apply to the personal or collective psyche.
    • Applied experience in enlightened citizenship. Significant experience with the making of authentic choices in a game context would enhance students' fundamental understanding of the dynamic relationships between the individual and collective and their sense of personal and collective responsibility within a Psych-ecology.
    • The development of intuition. Intuition can be understood as the rapid assimilation and interpretation of symbolic content in an environment--insight as a consequence of experience. As Erich Fromm observed: "Symbolic language is a [medium] in which we express inner experience as if it were a sensory experience, as if it were something we were doing or something that was done to us in the world of things (1951, p. 12)." All media are interactive at emotional/psychological levels, and interactivity in games allows for the development of a high degree of insight resulting from "minds-on" experience in which the player assimilates cues from the insubstantial illusions in the game medium. This is accomplished on a slightly more conscious level than is possible in a dream while retaining the essential virtues of the dream medium. Research has demonstrated that fast-paced interactive games contribute to enhancement of physical dexterity and multi-tasking skills.

    The use of games as a significant aspect of curriculum would result in a much better understanding of the dynamics for navigating the Psych-ecology.  Game experience would corroborate the nature of personal responsibility within the dream-game of life, and a collective understanding of dream dynamics will eventually result in a more enlightened "real life" cultural expression. 

    X. Programming a serious game with a data base of correspondences is feasible because cybernetic structure (specificity & control theory) and the structure of language are the same.  Because of the fundamental dichotomy of the human brain and reason that requires "mediation" between two elements, the law of correspondence is inherent to all media:  Language (metaphorical resonance & Aristotelian definition of metaphor), physics and biology (Alfred North Whitehead's hierarchy of organism, Molecules of Emotion, and Biology of Belief); mathematics (equation & harmony, calculus, trigonometry, and Pythagorean theory of color and sound); dreams (archetypes, coincidence and synchronicity in the waking dream and Jungian psychology); myth (the TAO); and games (interactivity).  The media establishes proportionality.

    XI. As comprehensive curriculum, the proportionality inherent in serious games has the potential for teaching an array of knowledge comparable in depth and scope to existing curricula but based on a synergistic (proportional, harmonious) organic approach to acquisition of knowledge rather than a linear rote-memory approach.   This synergistic approach has been advocated by many and defined as the single critical missing dynamic in our system of education.  The holistic principle of synergy must play a major role in any new-millennium unified field/psyche curriculum.  Most of our critical problems today can be traced to the fact that Americans are educated to take things apart but not to put them together again.  Principles of intelligent insight such as Abraham Maslow's Peak experience, Pythagoras' Eureka experience, Gestalten, and analogical intelligence testing are grounded in the principle of synthesis.  Right/left brain coordination and speed of analogical insight are measures of the principle.  Synthesis is the key to minds-on experience, retention, and motivation.  It is the creative, synthetic choice that carries a psychic charge, and personal identification with the choice that results in memory (retention).  Serious games have the potential to alter the state of student motivation and retention by quantum leaps.

    XII. As a medium susceptible to the dynamics of language, physics, and analytical psychology, a curriculum-game designed as a Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) could trigger a state change (quantum leap) in the psychic field.  In the unified field of physics, superconductivity is called a state change.  A comparable state in the psyche is called metanoia,[3]  Metanoia might be a psychic state comparable or analogous to the insights of a patient experiencing dream therapy, a peak experience, or epiphany.  Such a state might also be studied from the standpoint of research in fields of science other than psychology: Holography, chaos theory, string theory, and research on Bose-Einstein condensates in human tissues.  A curriculum based on the potential for such a change of state in the unified field would be in synch with the emergent paradigm of the new millennium.

    Obviously, in an article this length, one cannot effectively make such a complex argument.  A more detailed development of each point appears in the follow-up article and the book.  In summary, relative to creating a curriculum game:

    • The objective is to provide state-of-the-art education within the parameters of the Psych-ecology, to produce graduates educated optimally in the use of minds-on skills; and, by educating, to heal (whole) culture beginning with the present generation.
    • The means for achieving our objectives reside in the development of a serious, interactive game medium based on the paradigm of dreams. Notwithstanding the heated dialogue contesting the efficacy of games in education, games have already proven successful in complex training environments such as the military and medicine. In the context of curriculum, the game would be more conceptually advanced than any game extant.
    • The method for healing includes two components: 1) Application of Jungian dream analysis to the media dream, and 2) Development of a curriculum-as-game design that includes substantive curricular content and employs the pedagogy of Jungian dream analysis in conjunction with the role-playing dynamics of the game. If successful, this method will not only satisfy rigorous standards of the acquisition of knowledge, it will amplify student retention and motivation, and succeed in establishing a synergy between the educational domain and the reality of the psyche-"minds-on" experience. More specifically, methodology would begin with the establishment of a detailed authentic profile of correspondences between an individual persona and a cultural persona. In conjunction with the parameters of dream analysis, such a profile would provide a valid comprehensive data structure upon which to base curriculum design.


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