A superb essay on the Utility (or otherwise) of Mathematics, via Armed and Dangerous had me thinking yet again as to whether the Law of the Excluded Middle was an issue with regard to the standard issue definition of coercion, ie: "coercion is defined as the state of being forced to enact a theory that is not active in the mind".
Is it the case that in attempting to phrase the definition so as to avoid accusations of pseudo-scientific status, the appeal to logical assertion oversimplifies the nature of the workings of the mind?
It's clear that coercion, as defined above, can indisputably describe a particular state, in the situation that the mind is in not engaged in any way with the activity that it is required to perform, and that in this situation no learning is taking place, but it could also be the case that some learning could result in a situation where there is some element of enacting a theory that is not fully active in the mind. The mind, afterall, remains a place of mystery, where the nature of active theory is poorly understood. Is it possible to be consciously coerced by a theory and yet be actively absorbing it beneath awareness?
Of course, the appended definition: "coercion limits rationality and creativity" allows for the fact that activity of thought is, in all probability, a matter of a sliding scale. School education, although it's apologists would probably be loathe to admit it, largely relies upon information sneaking in through the back door of the unconscious mind. This is how these institutions get away with claims to be places of learning, but a question that could then arise:
Could it be that this kind of mostly coerced, structured and directed learning (that sneaks in past conscious resistance), could this be is more profitable to the learner than the apparently more haphazard acquisition of knowledge that occurs with the self-directed, active learner?
The answer, that seems to be supported by a reality check, is that the more active the thought, on whatever the level of consciousness, the hard-fought scratching over a work sheet, or the lazy day-dream in the bath-tub, the greater the richness of experience, and the greater the possibility of creativity and rationalism. We would be better off working towards this, and in addition, helping our children acquire all the other necessary knowledge that will enrich their lives, within the remit of active theory.