Foundations of our thinking LO6835

Peter Pflaum (
Sat, 20 Apr 96 13:13:17 UT

Replying to LO6810 --

I have been reading about " The Origins of Modern Humans" with the
question of what works ? Coming out of Africa, Humanoids evolved into a
tool making, tribal creature that seemed stuck for 100's of thousands of
years. Then the Sapiens ( new and improved )"caught on" and human cultures
took off. For eon's archaic people ( school boards ) did not ask the
important questions as you do above - "is there a better way of using what
we have to get what we need or want ?". First god made idiots, then he
created school boards, but I repeat myself.. ( Mark Twain )

Seems stupid not to think about how to use what we have or get what we
need but it is not uncommon. The soul of experimental design is to try to
find a better way and objectively measure the outcomes. Magic and religion
are both forms of problem solving in creating better rituals or
techniques, mental maps that guide us is using what we have, to get what
we need. The learning of new ways of doing is a paradigm depending on the
abstraction of the "map from the territory". Cultural and technological
maps or techniques are habits which can be improved not absolutes handed
down from the mountain.

We have inherited a public school system, universities, a federal
constitution, IRS, ( which like flush toilets which are clearly a
primitive technology ) we believe in a commercial, industrial model of
mass production and bureaucratic organizational power structures which get
in the way of clear thinking, we have a Protestant religion that sometimes
is outright foolish, these are "tools" that work ( sort of) but can be
easily improved. The way we organized our national affairs, the grade
levels in schools, the nature of international trade, domestic plumbing,
higher degrees; are not written in stone. BUT.. people act as if they

We now believe that competition from the environment including open trade
and information, with cooperation on the inside, produces the incentives
and means for success in improving our social habits. For example:

We have a tradition school, we need a learning system. There exists a vast
body of rules and procedures that waste a vast amount of resources, ( all
set up with good intentions, but produce a wasteful paper war - and too
much overhead ). The clients ( stake-holders ) include taxpayers, the
political system, the teachers, bus drivers, the students et al.

What do we have ? The social system and learning system is the existing
school is a terrible mess. Half of the 7th graders are functionally
illiterate, there are drugs, guns, teen mothers, violence against
teachers, lack of order or elementary discipline, all costing $6,000 per
student per year for very little learning or character development. The
teachers do not sent their own children, and those that care and can in
the community send their children to private ( mostly religious schools ).

The social reason for the existence of the institution is socialization of
the young to be more effective people. They can learn by example from an
effective learning system. If the system is "dumb" it teaches dumbness, if
a fake, then fraud, if without values, then teaches vagueness and
purposelessness. Quality arises from the soul of the system itself. A
soulless system doesn't work.

So, how do you have soul, teamwork, honesty, quality in a secular public
(open) system ? Visit Ms. Meirs district # 4 in East Harlem or see the PBS
(Weisman) High School II film. Small stable groups, charter schools, a
school is not a building, lots of things work - but people don't really
try - or are not allowed to break the mold. You and I could work with a
group of LT 50 students and come up with a workable program. SEE reform in and Edward Fiske's "Smart
Schools, Smart Kids.. " One room school teachers were "smart" because they
were free to be honest and use their heads. Now teachers are in chains and
forbidden to "do the right thing".

Liberty - less administration - more freedom
equality - the freedom of expression and experiment, empowerment
community - working as a team with young people to achieve
meaningful results - applies to all human institutions.


"Peter Pflaum" <>

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