Flim-Flaming Our Way to Perfection
The world needs big thinkers. Where would we be without them? We wouldn’t have airplanes, automobiles, computers, submarines, etc. The list goes on and on. What all of those things have in common is that they are devices – conceived in the minds of man, built by man. The ability to have an idea and to build it is what distinguishes mankind from the rest of the animal kingdom.
Another thing that they all have in common is that they are engineered using the laws of physics and scientific method. They are mechanical and the manufacture of every part in them is quantifiable and predictable. We can build factories to produce the devices and with a high degree of certainty, know that they will work the same way every time.
I don’t think anybody would question that the people who conceived and produced the machines and the machines to build the machines were exceptional people. Probably few if any appeared to be exceptional as children. No doubt they were bright. But being bright is not the same thing as being exceptional.
If people were as predictable and moldable as machined parts, we could have a near perfect society that hums like a machine – the desirability of that notwithstanding. So what is it about the fact that people are not moldable and predictable that the social engineers don’t understand? When one reviews the history of social engineering by simply looking at our society as a whole, there is no other conclusion than that social engineering is an abject failure as an idea because the social engineers don’t know the limits of their ability to manipulate the environment and the people to achieve their desired goals.
The impetus for writing this commentary is that a friend sent a paper to me titled, “Systems thinking: critical thinking skills for the 1990s and beyond”. This paper exemplifies the folly in the thinking of social engineers and the reason for their failures becomes apparent when you read it. Implicit in the thinking of the author is that the failures of social engineering are due to the fact that people have no appreciation for the systems of man and nature so if we teach systems thinking to everybody, then all of our problems will be solved and society will hum.
The following is an excerpt from the first paragraph from the paper:
"The problems that we currently face have been stubbornly resistant to solution, particularly unilateral solution. As we are painfully discovering, there is no way to unilaterally solve the problem of carbon dioxide buildup, which is steadily and inexorably raising the temperature around the globe. The problems of crack cocaine, ozone depletion, the proliferation of nuclear armaments, world hunger, poverty and homelessness, rain forest destruction, and political self-determination also fall into the category of "resistant to unilateral solution." Why is it no longer possible for some world power to pull out a big stick and beat a nasty problem into submission? The answer is that it probably never was. It's simply that the connections among the various subsystems conspiring to manifest a problem were less tight…. System dynamics and systems thinking to the rescue?"
With the muddle of thinking in this paper, one would be tempted to snicker and say, “what a maroon… this paper isn’t worth reading”. But that would be a mistake because the thinking expressed in this paper is the prevailing wisdom of today’s social engineers who have been empowered to redesign our systems of government and society. Barry Richmond is a “Great Society” social engineer and the method of thinking that he is attempting to teach, has become the main goal of our education system. We don’t educate children, we just teach them to think – supposedly. Impossible you say? I offer as evidence, the “Learning a Living – Blueprint for High Performance” publication by the U.S. Department of Labor produced in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education that is the implementation guide for the “new system” of education that is supposed to produce a nation of “thinkers” who will then be capable of “doing”.
Page 40 –
THE INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGY: TEACH IN CONTEXT
In its 1991 report, this Commission argued that learning in order "to know" should not be separated from learning in order "to do." We concluded that the two could be combined by teaching "in context," that is, learning content while solving realistic problems. Teaching in context implies that students and teachers will learn and apply knowledge in real-life situations, for example, by participating in work-based projects, internships, and mentor programs and by "shadowing" workers on the job. IndianaPLUS is a work-based project, and the Fort Worth experiment offers students and teachers all these activities.
Another of the promising "applied academics" developments being implemented in Fort Worth and by high schools and community colleges across the nation is the 2+2 tech-prep/associate degree program, which could easily incorporate the SCANS know- how.
…Teaching in context requires more complex integration with real-world experience. It also
often requires cooperative learning opportunities (e.g., peer teaching and group problem solving). It always demands that students be active learners-that is, workers- who are promoting the growth of their own knowledge as they undertake realistic tasks.
Exhibit G, drawn from experience in Fort Worth, outlines how the conventional classroom differs from the SCANS classroom. The conventions of today’s classroom (teacher omniscience, student passivity and isolation, rigid disciplinary borders, and "abstracted" knowledge and facts) are replaced with sophisticated and more realistic concepts of instruction and learning (the teacher may not know best, students often learn best in groups, and knowledge should be related to real problems).
Wishful thinking will not create such classrooms. Fort Worth found that these classrooms require community support, parental leadership, business support, and site-based management that allows individual schools to get out from under the dead hand of regulation. The school system is making a searching examination of instructional strategies to make sure that "in context" learning is encouraged around the SCANS workplace competencies.
The question you should be asking now is “how does this get implemented in the real world”? The answer to that question is “Trojan Triangle”. The Trojan Triangles that I described in a series of reports is the system of manufactured contexts for learning. To be specific, small businesses in specially designated zones (for tax and control purposes) are being established to provide contextual learning spaces for students. And you, the taxpayer, are paying for those small businesses and you are offering up America’s young people as free labor in those contextual learning spaces.
It’s a big con – a social engineering flim-flam. The joke is on you, the taxpayer but the real harm is to America’s young people. To think that the education establishment is pulling this scam on the young people they are supposed to be serving is beyond comprehension. The one thing it serves though, is to show the limitations of Systems Thinking. Knowing a method to do something is useful only when the practitioner has the talent to use it properly which includes knowing his limitations. You can give an ape a hammer but he won't be able to do anything with it but destroy things around him. That's what the social engineers are doing to our society. They are apes with a hammer who need to be caged so that they can't hurt anybody with it.
September 24, 2010
[Note: "maroon" - descriptive term in the sense used by Bugs Bunny].