Why Assimilation Models have Failed
The biggest problem that Aboriginal people suffer from is that they have too rarely been accorded the consideration and dignity due to all people in this Nation. They have too often been treated as if they are the problem, and dysfunctional conditions are then imposed that ensure things become problematic.
Aboriginal people are not inherently evil, and they are not evolutionary primitive. These are old fashioned, dysfunctional, racist, religionist, inaccurate, and long outmoded false assumptions that represented the impoverished level of thinking of earlier times, and underlay early attempts at solutions, and helps to explaining the abject litany of failures ever since.
These ideas, clumsy and primitive by the best of today’s understandings, created many problems by mistreating people as if that were the case, and in doing so forced indigenous people into false moulds, creating a vicious circle and self-fulfilling dynamic, of people fitting into how they are treated. Too much of this antiquated, dysfunctional thinking persists in many mainstream circles even today.
Real Aboriginal Nature
Aboriginal people are more predominantly a sensing, feeling, intuiting, ‘right-brained’ people, as are most artists, mystics and poets, as well as many ‘natural’ actors and sportspeople in mainstream culture. Aboriginal traditional culture is highly right-brained – intuitive, sustainable, wholistic, attuned to nature, and has a natural order, which non-Aboriginal right-brain functional people are comfortable with, and can relate to quite easily and quite well.
We each have two primary ways of understanding ourselves and comprehending the world around us. One is to do with our feelings; the other is to do with our thinking. We have:
- a feeling, sensing, adapting, relating function, that all people are born with, and use freely in their formative years. It is our primary way of relating, and forms the basis of our inner, personal reality, and our deeper, more meaningful relationships.
- a comparing, analysing, deducing, interpreting function. It is the part of us of interest to schools and other learning institutions, so that people are trained to be compatible with existing mainstream systems, methods and processes.
As a form of symbolic shorthand, these have now become known as “right-brain” and “left-brain” functioning.
Right-brain refers to the natural, sensing, feeling, empathic, intuitive, artistic, poetic, impulsive, open-hearted, “feeling mind”, that is in touch with the natural world, and is considered to take place predominantly in the right-hemisphere and as nerves cross over at the back of the neck, the left-side of the body. It describes the traditional, indigenous approach to life that typifies their cultures around the world, and is represented by the arts in western cultures.
The right brain performs vital complementary and overseeing functions to left brain thinking, such scanning, linking, the capacity get feel and a grasp of something, and to a sense of proportion, and to be sensitive to nuances of meaning, etc. It is the primary, empathically responsive, flexible, sliding-scale, analogue, win/win, intuitive, shades-of-grey, feminine, cooperative, feeling ‘brain’, and is what the feeling part of the person connects to.
Left-brain refers to the logical, sequential, deductive, reductionist, analytical “thinking mind”, that is considered to take place, predominantly in the left hemisphere, and the right side of the body. It forms the western intellectual, scientific, rational, materialistic tradition. It is the secondary, rigid, inflexible, all-or-nothing, win/lose, black-or-white, masculine, competitive, thinking ‘brain’.
Limitations of the Left-Brain Paradigm
On its own, and without right-brain input, the left-brain mind is logical, good at deductive reasoning, convergent thinking and specialised detail within clearly defined boundaries; but is also locked into the past, cannot see the forest for the trees, and unable to think outside of the box, to use some of its own clichés about itself.
The left brain cannot join the dots, whether between synchronous or disjointed events, or those spanning over time, and thus true causal links are unseen. Looking ahead becomes reduced to a linear extrapolation of more-of-the-same. Breaking new ground becomes slow, incremental, jerky, haphazard and torturous, and often only happens in a crisis, when there is no longer any choice.
The left brain also suffers from the ‘frog-in-the-saucepan’ syndrome, where it adapts to, identifies with, and can no longer discern key changes in situations that it has become habituated and blinded to. Left-brain tends to misperceive changing conditions as a continuation of the same. The Global Financial Meltdown is a classic example and demonstrates it is not a trivial issue. It is disconnected from nature and from one’s own true inner nature, which is the right-brain’s highly important job. It cannot handle cognitive dissonance, and tends to reject all that does not fit existing programs that have been hardwired into memory, and it will then rationalise the decision. Taken together, it is comprehensively disconnected from the real reality.
The impaired, real-world decision-making capabilities of overly left-brain people has been long recognised in modern management circles, which are charged with getting the best all round performance from their staff, and many seek ways to increase right-brain input into the mix. Self-actualisation, or whole, left-and-right brain input in advanced management circles today is sought through facilitating emotional intelligence. We all enjoyed being relatively right-brain functional as children, which gives us our connectedness with life, present-centredness, natural understanding, excitement of life, joy of living and basic functionality in the natural world.
Right-brain people (which is all of us, anytime we can get out from under our rigid, left-brain, mechanistic, analytical overlay), respond to fun, humour, exuberance, exhilaration, appreciation and the very joy of living. They can understand things in a flash, and intuitively know the joy inherent in the nature of life. The real, positive, functional dynamic is for the left-brain to interact with the right brain without dominating or suppressing it.
When the right brain is included in learning, the fastest learning takes place. Studies going back to the 1960s have found that people learn far more quickly when their right-brain activity is functioning intact. One family in Wales brought their children up to be contented, curious, interested, and free to explore and experiment. They home-schooled their four children to each become child prodigies in different fields, including art, piano, computers and maths. One child completed a university degree at 15.
Many nuances of Aboriginal culture remain almost invisible to highly left-brain people who have misused their left-brain to suppress their own right-brain functioning into subconsciousness. Left-brain people misperceive nature’s natural orderliness to be chaotic and in need of controlling in a rigid, mechanical way. The disastrous effects on the natural world, including the ecology and indigenous peoples are a consequence of this. Left-brain-only functioning is now locked into an obsolete, mechanical, sequential, deductive, materialistic paradigm that has created problems through being out of tune with nature, which it now finds insoluble at every level of mainstream society, locally, nationally and globally.
An expansion of right, left and whole brain functioning is contained in Social and Consciousness Evolution.