Monday, January 31, 2011

Fordlandia: What Happens When We Work Against Nature? (Part II)

Most of the heveas brasilis trees succumbed quickly to a local fungus that would have normally been curtailed by the natural vegetation, which was now absent. Healthy trees also need space between one anther, which they also lacked in Fordlandia. The subsequent flooding, caused by depleting the area of vegetation, washed away the few surviving trees.

Almost no trees were harvested, since they could not reach maturity. In the unforgiving nature-driven rainforest, manufacturing schedules and carefully planned production levels were the priorities, in spite of what nature had in store. The results were physically and financially disastrous.

Ultimately, Ford's $20 million agricultural fiasco was terminated and the now-useless land was sold back to the government of Brazil for $250,000. This relegated Fordlandia to the classic "case studies" list of prime examples of the high price paid for ignoring, rather than working with, nature.

On countless occasions in our human history, we have demonstrated how defying Mother Nature can be a sin that is accompanied by severe punishment. Contemporary classrooms are not exempt. Force-fitting more than 4 million years of brain evolution into a 150 year-old American classroom model has also been punished by conspicuous academic shortcomings. This is evidenced by an abundance of "brain antagonistic" educational practices that yield consistently poor learning results.

As the 20th-century British leader Winston Churchill once said, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing one’s enthusiasm.” Many of the instructional failings about which we’ve been most enthusiastic for several generations should be substituted with “brain-considerate” approaches that reflect how our brains have developed over the past 4 million years of evolutionary enhancements.

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