Wise Integration: Sea Squirts, Tech Bans, and Cognitive Artifacts (Summer Series) | Brent Kaneft | 22 Min Read

July 25, 2023

“If we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re going.”

“Professor” Irvin Corey

A sea squirt will metabolize its own brain. This hermaphroditic organism produces tadpole-like larvae that immediately swim to their eternal home, connecting headfirst, and then proceeding to absorb their eye, their spine, and their brain. The sea squirt isn’t being reckless, but prudent—this cannibalizing process supports the development of their “digestive, circulatory, and reproductive organs.” Once the eye, spine, and brain navigate home, they don’t serve another function. There is a well-worn joke that this is the same thing that happens to tenured professors. More charitably to tenured professors, this is a process most humans participate in: find a home, design for homeostasis, and then reduce the need for the brain through automatic processes or default modes—the brain is an “energy hog” and will take shortcuts whenever possible. Efficiency is its goal.

This isn’t a criticism, it’s biology (and sociology): brains crave predictability, and they seek efficiency; more or less, both attributes make predictable, routinized environments desirable —disruption demands effort, and brains want to conserve energy. This reality makes change hard, at least initially. Think about the first…

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Brent Kaneft

Brent Kaneft is Head of School at Wilson Hall School, a PK-12 independent school, in South Carolina. He holds a master’s in literature from James Madison University and earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from Indiana University (Bloomington) in May 2022. Since 2016, Brent has led teacher workshops on how to translate Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) research strategies into the classroom, and since 2020, he has focused on research-informed practices in the areas of social-emotional learning, mindfulness, and equity and inclusion. Brent’s recent publications include "The Belonging Apocalypse: Woke Bypassing, Contemplative Practices, and a Way Forward for DEI" (IntrepidEd News) and "The Problem with Nice: Moving from Congenial to Collegial Cultures" (Independent School Magazine).