Skip to comments.(Vanity) Educators and Management by Exception (with a nod to Niels Bohr)
Posted on 09/11/2011 10:42:03 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
There has been a good deal of hand-wringing over the state of our nation's schools -- whether at the elementary, the secondary, or the University level.
And instead of a circular firing squad so beloved of the Republican Party, those closest to the situation are involved in an almost unfathomable degree of both psychological projection and transferrence, coupled with a goodly measure of 1984-style groupthink, in which they chant in unison, "You can't blame us!"
In a limited sense, this is true: in the cloud-cuckoo land of government largesse and union employment, punching the clock, obeying the party line, and above all, not rocking the boat, is what gets rewarded. And if you play the union game according to the rules, you are exempt from political blame, no matter what happens. But, like the libertarian discussions of economics which treat The Wealth of Nations as foundational gospel truth, rather than the results of an over-simplified model of the world with NO externalities, the union model of "See No Evil, Report No Evil, Admit No Evil" is not -- in the current fashionable parlance -- sustainable.
And this is true on a multitude of levels.
First, there is the problem of increasing numbers of students who lack even rudimentary skills for sustaining themselves as productive adults: not only is the current Obama Mediocre DepressionTM making the competition for jobs more fierce, it is also hitting the less-educated more severely: among high school dropouts, the unemployment rate in Oct. 2010 was 27.7% for men and 31.4% for women; for college graduates, the percentages are 9.9% and 9.3% respectively.
Second, there is the problem that a high school degree, or even a college degree, does not confer the implicit guarantee of "applicability or fitness for a particular task" (language borrowed from the disclaimer on a computer program) which it once did. This is partly due to the new choices of major available, and the government loans to sponsor the education:
Reason Magazine passes on a story from the New York Slimes of a young woman who went $100,000 into debt for an interdisciplinary degree in religious studies and women's studies and cannot find a job. But this is not all of the reason: The Boston Herald passes on a story of a *LAW STUDENT* (gasp!) who is suing Boston College for a tuition refund since he cannot get a job as a lawyer.
And of course, there are any number of stories about students who graduate high school without being able to read, of students (even at prestigious universities) who need extensive remedial courses as freshmen, the influx of highly motivated Indian and Asian students into the graduate departments for hard science (in preference to -- presumably Caucasian -- native-born US citizens).
Most of these stories go on to lament the imminent death of the United States, that we cannot compete with the rest of the world, and so on.
So it is clear that there *are* larger repercussions; and, in a geopolitical sense, if these deficiencies grow large enough, the United States will no longer have the economic base to SUPPORT the teachers' unions: in fact, we are seeing problems of this sort in various states and counties already, due to the large pensions which the educators have negotiated for themselves upon retirement.
And the usual solution proposed -- higher taxes -- merely underscores the need for more rigorous mathematics education, instead of an increased focus on Diversity Studies, Self-Esteem Workshops, and Condom Conventions. Because we're broke! (It is ironic,isn't it, that increasing the rigor of the educational requirements might even stimulate the economy enough to allow the bloated pensions to be paid a little longer.)
But back to the students. Cicero wrote,
"Cuiusvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare." -- which is roughly translated, "Any man can make a mistake; only a fool keeps making the same one" -- or, as applied to our schools "If at first you don't succeed, get a social promotion to the next higher grade and you're no longer our problem."
Which takes us back to the mantra of the unions. Those who are in the education establishment -- and, by extension, those who dominate the humanities in academia, the garden in which the weeds of the current cadre of educational professionals were nurtured -- share a common fatal trait. One which -- by its nature -- private enterprise is somewhat immune to. The fatal trait is to believe that words trump actions. That is, if you are ensconced in what is primarily a purely political, social, environment, where your costs are always borne by others -- and what's more, where your costs are exacted from those others without direct visibility or accountability -- you first develop a tendency to not want to upset the gravy train, never to say anything which might disturb the status quo. Then, as time goes on, and habits solidify, one develops a disturbing tendency to become intellectually and socially inbred: some thoughts have been excluded for so long (for fear of upsetting funding), that soon, for your group, the thoughts harden into a form of heresy: not only are there thoughts which must not be uttered, but there are subjects which must not be broached, except in rigidly pre-defined terms, for fear that the unmentionable, the blasphemous, may be uttered. And, like any clique, or intellectual discipline (I use the term *very* loosely), a particular specialized language appears. Think of the formal language one sees in medicine or in law: the same thing enters into education, except that people have been learning and teaching without all of the formal methodology and psychology classes, ever since there have been people. But without anyone from outside the educational classes whose thoughts are admitted, there is nothing to prevent the educational establishment from forming an isolated bubble divorced from reality: and of course, in a world where language rather than actions are paramount, there is no check on the language becoming overly stylized, and the thoughts from becoming, frankly, ridiculous. As the celebrated physicist Niels Bohr once stated, "Never express yourself more clearly than you can think." (+)
And it is in this sort of an environment which results in the educational establishment we have today: a sort of self-anointed aristocratic class which feels it is answerable to no-one outside of its own circle; a class which feels loathing for the very people from whom its funding derives; a class which feels that the fruit of others' labour is due to it almost by divine right, in perpetuity: even after their own "labour" (such as it is) has ceased.
A company in the real world, the competitive capitalist world, can operate like this for only a limited amount of time, before a competitor takes advantage of that company's neglect of reality and eats their lunch: and the leaders who were caught off guard are either fired, or they come to their senses, or the company is replaced. To help prevent this, some management gurus have come up with the idea of "Management by Exception": that is, as long as everything within a group, a department, a sales team, is progressing as expected, don't do anything different: but the moment anything comes up which is outside the realm of the expected, it's "all hands on deck" to isolate the cause of the problem and come up with a fix.
Unfortunately, this approach would not work in the current educational environment: because the current exception is the competent student. And if (small chance!) the educational establishment ever decided to get serious about management by exception with regard to underperforming students, the entire system would be swamped. Much easier, therefore, to keep pointing the finger of blame elsewhere, or even to deny any fundamental problem, while the ship of fools sails closer and closer to the Edge of the World. ("Who's to say the world is round? Isn't that a Eurocentric, patrilineal construct anyway?")
(+) For a *very* revealing look at this mindset, try reading about the Sokal hoax.
Edumacation Bird Cage *PING*
( I am shouting)
GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS ARE EVIL!!!
1) Government schools are godless! Simply by attending children **will** learn to think and reason godlessly. They must merely to cooperate with the classroom and curriculum. Even when they first opened in the mid-1800s to early 1900s, at best, they offered up a generic and lukewarm Protestantism. By my grandmother's day ( born 1894) they were godlessly secular humanist with a nod to God in the morning. Are we surprised then our nation has grown spiritually lukewarm and is now careening toward the godless abyss of illiteracy, illegitimacy, broken families, wilding, flash mobs, and knock-out games?
2) Government schooling has **always** been socialist-funded. Merely by attending children learn that government has great police power to force children to use the socialist service and to force tax payers to pay for it. Well?..Duh?...If government and the voting mob and force a tax payer to pay for tuition-free socialist schooling, why not thousands of other free goods and services? Franklin D. Roosevelt and, now, Obama are not accidents they are the direct result of making children comfortable with accepting and using socialism.
) It is impossible to have religiously, politically, and culturally neutral education. When government runs and owns schools, forces taxpayers to pay for it, and forces children to attend, the government is using its police power to **ESTABLISH** the religious, cultural, and political worldview of the most powerful voting mob!
Conclusion: Government schools teach children to be comfortable with godlessness, socialism, and submitting the hearts and minds to the control of the voting mob.
Conclusion: Government schools are a First Amendment and freedom of conscience abomination.
Government teachers are evil. Good teachers don't teach children to think and reason godlessly. Good teachers don't help children to be comfortable with socialism.
Edumaction = Edumacation? ;)
totally brainwashed leftists with ba’s, ma’s, phd’s
jobless and on welfare.
welcome to the democrat plantation.
I sent your commentary to an elected member of a state board of education. The reply came back, tell them to “read the Aug issue of any Education Reporter @ www.eagleforum.com to see what NEA actually does care about. It will be obvious when anyone reads the resolutions NEA members passed at their recent convention that they are not interested in students learning academic content but rather students be indoctrinated in left-wing baloney”.
Thank you so much for your wonderful essays, dear grey_whiskers!
Glad *someone* caught that one.
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