Robert L. Arnold
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Robert (Bob) Arnold, Professor of Education, Emeritus, resides in Willsboro, New York with his wife Mary Sue of seventy years. Willsboro is a rural upstate community, twenty-six miles south of Plattsburgh, New York, across Lake Champlain from Burlington, Vermont. He was invited in the spring of 1966 to design and implement a new teacher education curriculum at Plattsburgh State University of New York, developed from his many years of teaching experience in the public schools of this and other states.
His ideas reflect experimentation conducted at the State University at Potsdam and Jersey City State College. He designed and implemented experimental studies at several research and demonstration centers, created innovative demonstration projects, work-shopped with parents and faculties in several states and authored many proposals designed to create a new system of education. These many experiences led to a comprehensive analysis of public education and a systemic design for the rational overhaul of our conventional schools.
For the past several years while in retirement he has been culling through stacks of papers and publications that represent a lifetime of experiences in education and business. He consolidated the highlights of this experience in a single volume aimed at Remaking Our Schools. As a professor of education, Bob has observed over the decades the problems in education that have resulted in social, economic and political difficulties in this country. He has described how schools contribute to troubled youth and what can be done about it.
Professor Arnold holds a fervent hope he’ll find opportunities to demonstrate what our public schools could become when these ideas are fully implemented.
On July 14th, 2018, Bob Arnold of Willsboro received from SUNY Potsdam’s Alumni Association the St. Lawrence Academy Medal for “outstanding contributions in the field of education.” In his remarks of appreciation he stated that his teaching career underwent an epiphany while serving as a demonstration teacher in the Congdon Campus School of Potsdam State Teachers College.
Teamed with Dr. Charles Lahey of the History Department, they developed what came to be known as the “Discovery Approach to the Teaching of Social Studies.” His students were creating knowledge as young historians and geographers, using primary source documents, and his role became a facilitator of learning. Together they focused their studies on the early development of St. Lawrence County, the home of the students.
That approach was so successful it convinced Bob to spend the rest of his career explaining, refining and promoting its virtues. Reproducing and accessing legible primary documents was a problem, but that has recently been solved with digital imaging and accessing technologies. After many years he has come full circle in promoting this approach with elementary and middle school learners, but from an updated systems approach. The present plan is called America’s Past Through the Eyes of Local History, sponsored by the Valcour Battle Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. Its website can be accessed at: americaspastthroughtheeyesoflocalhistory.com
Members of the SAR recognize that an in-depth study of local history and geography is a missing link in the education of our youth, due partly to a limited local market for educational products. In response, they have established a prototype for on-line access to local documents and a website that provides the rationale and supporting literature that underlies its continuous progress plan. The approach begins with ancestral studies that sets the stage for inquiry into the wider history and geography of local areas. It features an individualized, computer-based and compatible assessment, record keeping and evaluation procedure.
Refining this approach to learning has a long history recognized by the SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association when granting the St. Lawrence Academy Medal. That medal commemorates Benjamin Raymond’s founding in 1816 of the oldest unit of the State University System. It’s particularly rewarding for Bob since he shares a commitment to teacher education.
After graduating from Potsdam in 1953, he taught in public schools, the U.S. Army, two and four year colleges and graduate schools, including forty years at Plattsburgh State. He has conducted major projects and workshops across this country focusing on curriculum and teaching with concern for developmental appropriateness. He has written extensively about issues in education over the past many years.
Bob’s experiences were particularly important in the selection committee's decision to honor him with this award. The underpinning for his innovations began in 1957 at Potsdam when he discovered how exciting inquiry could be for students and how rewarding it was to make the shift to a facilitator of active learning. He’s truly grateful for the recognition awarded him by the Potsdam Alumni Association, for an unwavering commitment to the improvement of education at all levels.
Developing a new system for educating our youth
Introduction: These ten components depict the parts of a proposed school system that has a history of development based on direct experiences. This treatise is an attempt to reveal some of those experiences and their integration within a proposed new systemic design. Each component will be discussed in the order in which it appears, clockwise from Philosophical/Theoretical Assumptions and Beliefs, with one exception, components nine and ten will appear in reverse order.
The experiences that created this alternative to present school practices, and the testing of theory-based propositions, resulted in this new system to be revealed in detail throughout this text.
Philosophical/Theoretical Assumptions and Beliefs
Having provided leadership in the establishment of a teacher education program, a competency-based curriculum known as the Open Curriculum, that lost out to the forces of convention at the end of the nineteen sixties, I began an extensive effort to define and seek implementation of a new system with an updated, theory-based foundation.
This effort stems from the premise that if a change in the assumptions and beliefs that currently direct the conduct of conventional public schools were to be changed to a new updated foundation, a far better school system could be envisioned. Over my years of study and experimentation I determined that four essential areas of theory are involved in that change, detailed in Chapter I. Each topic thereafter will be discussed in the order in which they appear on the model except Pre-Service and In-Service Demonstration Sites will exchange positions with Information Management and Technology.
Contents of chapters I through VII provide background needed for an understanding of the assumptions and beliefs that are incorporated into the vision for this new system, summarized in Chapter VIII, Demonstration Sites.
It might be useful to first read the contents of Chapter VIII, then spend time digesting the contents especially of Chapter I, followed by the contents of Chapters II through VII and then return to reread Chapter VIII.
A glimpse into the background of this author provides further evidence of the role experiences have had in formulating this treatise. The bibliography provides a few of the sources found useful in this formulation.
Philosophical/Theoretical Assumptions and Beliefs
The first set of assumptions and Beliefs has to do with what we know and can validate in our experiences and in the experiences of those who have studied. in depth, individual learners. Especially important are theories about all dimensions of individual development, including learning, and about the dimensions of mind that influence learning.
Teacher candidates enrolled in my seminars went into the elementary schools
of the area, administered a battery of tests designed to reveal the stages of development of learners across dimensions of growth and development. These data were used in the preparations for becoming facilitators of learning. My advanced graduate education was focused on curriculum and teaching with a minor in developmental psychology that utilized the concepts found with these student teachers.
While studying at this level, I participated in the replication study conducted at Teachers College Columbia University under the direction of Professor Millie Almy. She and Professor Arthur Gersild later conducted an advanced seminar in developmental psychology that I attended. Gersild conducted the first three-week portion covering child development, based on his many years of study and his texts on the subject. Almy conducted the remaining three-week portion specifically focused on the work of Jean Piaget.
At the end of the three-week session with Professor Gersild, we were given a test that covered the extensive contents of his lectures. Gersild was dedicated to the multiple-choice test, the more items the better. His test contained over three hundred questions that covered every aspect of his presentations.
I had developed a model of my personality dynamics that was tied to the events that happened in my life that I felt made me what I had become. This model was formed with my students while teaching Psychology 101 at a four-year college. The details will be described later in this text.
I brought this model to Gersild’s presentations. Everything he said was interpreted through that model. If he said something that did not match my experience, I would adjust the model to reflect the change. Most everything he said found a place within the model, reinforcing its value. When the test was given, I was confident in being able to answer his questions, since I had elaborated my system with his information, and it all made sense to me.
Fellow students were up all the night before the test reviewing all the information, cramming for the test. I went home and slept the night through. I was sure I did well on the test.
At the next session Professor Gersild distributed his grades. When he spoke about the results found with my test he said:”Arnold, I would like to talk with you after class today. Recollections of past anxieties about my test scores resurfaced and I said to myself: “I must have failed. But how could that have happened.”
I entered his office to find him sitting at his desk behind a pile of books, and he directed me to come sit in a chair where we could talk. His first words were: “You’re not a psychology major, are you?” “No sir, I replied.” “How then can you explain that you received the highest score in this class of psychology majors? I assumed he thought I cheated.
I then described the process of developing a model of my personality dynamics and how it had been shaped by experiences of my past. I explained how I had used my model to organize my thoughts, modified by his, that gave me confidence in what he said and what I had done to update my model. I thought I knew the answer to every question. He said I only had three incorrect answers and I said which ones were those. After discussing reasons for our answers, he agreed my answers could be legitimate when approaching them from different assumptions.
I used the same model during the next three-week session. Almy’s replication study of Piaget’s work had shown conclusively that not only was Piaget’s theory (“Genetic Epistemology”) valid, but it was a core theory with profound implications in education, philosophy, psychology and psychiatry, as the title of her book on the research depicts.
I continued over the years gathering data using Piaget’s conservation experiments with my teacher candidates involving approximately fifteen hundred learners, grades kindergarten through the sixth grade. I combined with Piaget’s methods the work of Viktor Lowenfeld, who formulated a developmental theory about children’s drawings that correlates with Piaget’s theory of cognitive development.
Our studies also included the work of Lev Vygotsky concerning language development and Robert Gagne’s theory of learning. These and other developmental theories became integrated into our positions on developmental appropriateness, especially emphasizing the detrimental effects of developmentally inappropriate instruction that was found in the public schools.
These theories all acknowledge the absolute need for hands-on experience in all matters of learning and development, that enhances meaning in the language of signs and abstract symbols, a need unfulfilled in the public schools.
The workings of the active human mind and its relationship to learning:
In addition to the extensive studies of cognitive development, my experience in areas of mental health services at the community level was highlighted by the years serving on the board of directors responsible for the operation of a county- level mental health clinic. During that time I also served as President of the County Mental Hygiene Association. This experience brought me in direct supervisory contact with psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and social workers.
Their focus on the nature of mental health and the conduct of services prompted me to research the literature on the psychiatric basis for learning and the treatment of mental health disorders. I discovered in that process that conventional education was being conducted with little of no awareness of the importance of pre-conscious and unconscious dimensions of mind, and the treatment of the conscious dimension was superficial and troublesome for learners. I set about gaining background on this subject that led me to the book by Psychiatrist Lawrence Kubie entitled: The Neurotic Distortion of the Creative Process.
a) The mind is the center of all intellectual activity operating within the brain and the nervous system, linking sensory experiences to thoughts, images and actions. It functions with three interactive dimensions, the pre-conscious, the conscious and the unconscious.
b) The pre-conscious is considered an intuitive, subliminal processor that automatically receives input from the senses and combines and recombines each impression received with prior experiences and relays some of its creative products to consciousness where logical organization and symbolic language is applied. In computer language it is the CPU, the central processing unit.
c. Phenomena in human experience that indicate the nature of pre-conscious activity is observed during hypnosis when enormous amounts of sensory input can be processed instantaneously, and in dreams where the results of experience are conveyed through symbols in combinations often remaining a mystery to its participants. Intuitive and creative ideas are considered reflections of the pre-conscious in action.
d) The center of creativity rests primarily with pre-conscious processes provided they are not interfered with by an imposed conscious and/or unconscious rigidity. Learning is thought to begin with sensory input from experiencing random access data and long-term memories responded to by the pre-conscious that relays information to consciousness for cognitive processing.
e) The conscious receives its input from the pre-conscious and organize that content, logically and chronologically, and attaching language that describes what is taking place during its processing and the results that are constructed during it.
f. Both conscious and pre-conscious processes are influenced and often directed by unconscious patterns of response, characteristics of personality, developed over time from past experiences.
g) The details of past experiences have mostly been forgotten, but for everyone, a distillation is maintained in unique attitudes, values, beliefs and personal orientations that are unconsciously projected onto each new, old and future experience, achieving conformity with its biased patterns of response.
h. If the unconscious patterns reflect rigidity, they obstruct creative pre-conscious capabilities. That results in superficial language that forms stereotypes and repetitious unconscious biases.
i) These attitudes, values, beliefs, and orientations are unconsciously reflected in the behaviors of individuals, they are seldom recognized during consciousness. Gaining changes in these behaviors requires self-knowledge and self-understanding aided by feedback from others. Education must have a hand in their development.
j) As Psychiatrist Kubie explained, we cannot have wisdom or maturity without self-knowledge. “…self-knowledge in depth is a process which like education itself is never complete. It is a point on a continuous and never-ending journey. Without self-knowledge we can have no adults, but only aging children who are armed with words, and paint and clay and [lethal] weapons, none of which they [fully] understand.”
“Self-knowledge is not all there is to wisdom and maturity; but it is an essential ingredient which makes maturity at least possible. Yet it is the one ingredient which is almost totally neglected. This lack is both an index and a cause of the immaturity of our culture.”
k) Therapy and education must go hand in hand, seeking to facilitate self-understanding. Therapy is focused primarily on matters within the individual while education extends that goal to connect the individual with the many extensions of human experience in all matters of life, from the smallest to the largest elements.
l) Gaining self-understanding can be accomplished through introspection during psycho-therapy, but also during group situations that feature mature processes of communication characterized by consensual validation between communicants.
m) Since personality characteristics have their origins stored in the unconscious and are manifested in response patterns that have been developed over time, they are only modified with the cooperation of the person exhibiting them.
a) Public education functions as if there did not exist an unconscious or a pre-conscious dimension of mind. It focuses essentially through instruction on the assimilation of shallow language, signs, that simply denote prior-approved meanings, rather than symbols which are the vehicles for rich concepts filled with connotative meanings acquired through active learner participation.
b) Education that focuses on a prescribed set of signs assumes one correct answer for every question.
c) Current discourse about change in education is generally based on behavior modification that considers the external manifestation of attitudes, values, beliefs etc. are modifiable through imposed instruction and training, motivated by punishment and reward procedures.
d) While behavior modification techniques will in certain situations modify external and observable behavior, the likelihood these appearances will be internalized as concepts of self-understanding is remote at best. When imposed upon the more flexible, healthy personalities, behavior modification creates serious dissonance.
e) Fundamental consideration must be given to the development of healthy, flexible personalities in all people, and especially those in the helping profession known as teaching.
f) The act of teaching must embrace the concept of a teaching/learning transactions that can only be perpetuated from open-ended personal orientations, open to experiences.
g) Good teachers who have flexible personalities will rebel against the imposition of narrowly defined procedures and structures like the common core curriculum and standardized testing, recognizing the need for individualized experience.
h) A healthy personality emerges from constructive personal experience that exhibits the following achievable characteristics (Maslow/Shostrom):
* Lives predominately in the present rather than predominately in the past or in the imagined future.
* Is predominately inner-directed, and self-supported rather than overly dependent on others.
* Is flexible in the application of values rather that rigid in their applications.
* Is Sensitive rather than insensitive to own needs and feelings and those of others.
* Is free to express feelings behaviorally with consideration for their impact on others.
* Exhibits a high degree of realistic self-worth.
* Accepts self despite weaknesses.
* Maintains a vision of humankind as essentially good, and learns to be bad, as opposed to being bad to begin with.
* Sees opposites of life as meaningfully related rather than in opposition.
* Accepts personal feelings of anger or aggression and works to resolve the origins of such behaviors.
* Capable of exhibiting warm interpersonal relationships.
* Accepts the values of self-actualizing people with tolerance for ambiguity.
i) Any teacher education program, and likewise any educational enterprise that does not recognize the fundamental importance of personality traits and fails to take the necessary steps to assist each person in acquiring healthy personal orientations, cannot be considered adequate education capable of making improvements in our educational systems. The time to initiate self-understanding occurs when concrete operational abilities emerge during the early years of schooling. That period in an individual’s life usually exhibits a curiosity and flexibility that bodes well for establishing the frame of mind that exhibits flexibility.
j) There are well-established procedures for engaging individuals in the analysis and transformation of restrictive personal orientations and the behaviors that follow from those orientations. Those procedures are not employed in the preparation of teacher/facilitators for our schools and universities and therefore are non-existent in the classrooms of our public schools.
Individual human development and related behavior including learning:
a) The first and irrefutable fact is that, except for identical births, no two people are identical, not their DNA, not their experiences, nor what they have done with their experiences.
b) Human development is multi-dimensional. It has intellectual, physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and moral dimensions.
c) Individual development progresses through an invariant sequence, unless driven off course by outside forces such as the imposition of developmentally inappropriate experiences often administered by well-meaning but ignorant educators or prevented from occurring by internal conditions such as physical or psychological impediments to learning.
d) Individual human development is genetically programmed to progress from one level of capability to a more sophisticated level unless blocked or driven off course. Some develop sooner than others, some later, and the time of the arrival of each level is unpredictable. Over time with observation, averages can be determined, but they do not describe an individual’s actual growth sequence.
e) These developmental dimensions are guided by an individual’s unique genetic code and experiential background. Experiences can disrupt development or enhance development, but they do not accelerate the arrival of levels of maturity.
f) Consideration of the emergence of intellectual capabilities for logic, as formulated by Rousseau and Piaget, are of particular importance in determining the early experiences with formal education. Rousseau identified the age of ten as the beginning of the age of reason. Piaget provided far greater specificity regarding the development of capabilities for reasoning or logic.
g) Piaget’s formulation has four levels of cognitive development beginning with sensory experience and an automatic response, mainly physical in nature. This is followed by a level of pre-logical responses to sensory experience, called pre-operations.
This level is followed by beginning logic that occurs only regarding concrete or direct experiences, labeled concrete operations. The most mature stage of cognition contains capabilities for formal logic called formal operations that enables logical processing of hypothetical and abstract experiences, along with concrete.
h) Other dimensions of behavior such as children’s drawings, early language development and moral decision making have been correlated with Piaget’s formulation, each reflecting logical processes based on his findings.
i) Viktor Lowenfeld demonstrated a similar developmental sequence beginning with children’s ability to hold a marking instrument and apply it to a surface. The result is random scribbling. This is followed with controlled scribbling when small muscle development occurs.
Representational art begins with pre-schematic drawing followed by schematic drawing based on beginning logic. Pre-schematic drawing features two dimensional objects placed at the bottom of the page on a baseline. If mother is in the picture, she might appear taller than a house. Proportionality is missing.
Schematic drawing is a deliberate attempt to represent reality as viewed by the individual. It evolves into dawning realism when two dimensional drawings begin to show three dimensions. A picture of a house would then be placed away from the baseline on a base plane with space around it. Dawning realism eventually becomes realistic three-dimensional drawing that reflects formal logic. Abstract drawing reflects deliberate combinations of all prior levels.
j) Lev Vygotsky found that early language begins with what he called pre-intellectual language, followed by naively psychological language. As language becomes representational it enters a level of sign dominance that denotes and points to the objects and actions being expressed. Eventually an in-growth and internalized language emerges, communicated with symbols that convey concepts rich in connotations.
k) Lawrence Kohlberg found that moral decision-making correlates with developmental formulations starting with pre-conventional considerations consistent with pre-logical abilities. Anything goes. These abilities are followed by conventional consideration for tradition and rules of conduct. Eventually, post-conventional decision making appears that considers what’s right or wrong as judged by the individual.
L) Learning is initiated with experiences that span a range from direct and purposeful to abstract symbols. Initial experiential data emerge into simple associations that are communicated with physical and verbal language. This is followed by multiple discrimination developed through varied experiences that lead to concept formation. Concepts retained and elaborated become the basis for the formulation of simple rules and the eventual development of principles and laws that enable problem solving capabilities.
m) Contrasting a formulation that describes the processes of learning as defined above by Robert Gagne, with the currently held behaviorist assumptions and beliefs about learning, as a process of remembering specific bits of information to be reproduced on a multiple-choice achievement test, one must conclude the predominate faith in standardization is a misplaced and misguided faith.
n) Similarly, ignoring the complex interrelationships of learning within the social, political, and economic context and dimensions of development is unfortunate since their influence on learning is pronounced. Recognition of their importance in the present discourse about the problems of education and what to do about them is missing.
a) Ignoring the uniqueness of individuals and the special nature of his or her developmental capabilities is a formula that creates many personal psycho/social problems. Each level of development embodies a specific readiness for learning. For instance, a pre-operational level of development precludes logic, it is pre-logical. When experiences of schooling demand logical behavior from a pre-logical youngster, these experiences are developmentally inappropriate, and if sustained, they cause serious psychological damage.
b) Schools organized around age and grade levels ignore the uniqueness of individual development. Ignoring individual differences invites alienation in learners and a false identification of perceived superiority of some over others.
c) Well-established conceptualizations of individual development and behavior, including learning, can and must become an integral part of the foundation for decision making about the nature and effectiveness of education.
d) How can a one-size-fits-all standardized testing program be considered an accurate and useful assessment and evaluation measurement technique when it defies the basic and most important reality that people are not identical?
e) How can any serious thinker believe that a standardized offering of pre-canned conclusions, a standardized core curriculum, can represent the heart of educational reform when it violates nearly everything known and validated about the nature of human developmental capacities and learning?
f) Only by blindly accepting the results of a one-size-fits-all assessment designed to legitimize erroneous assumptions and beliefs, can one rationalize the appropriateness of coverage of a pre-defined core curriculum through its instructional program and standardized assessment and evaluation program.
g) So-called research that bases its conclusions on incremental changes in test scores must be understood in a context that severely diminishes its importance as legitimate support for existing approaches to reform.
h) Kubie’s book and his other writings and lectures are a most detailed expose’ of the profound level of ignorance practiced in schools across this land regarding the three dimensions of mind, the pre-conscious, the conscious and the unconscious and their role in learning and development. Written in 1958, it is as relevant today and it was then then, even more so, with a special meaning for me in supporting the need for systemic changes in schools, especially at the elementary and middle school levels.
I found many of Kubie’s positions to be consistent with mine and have quoted liberally from his work. One quote I found pivotal is as follows:
“Our knowledge of the external world and our ability to represent the world as it is or as we would like it to be has grown enormously, but our ability to meet wisely the challenge of how to be human beings has not developed equally.”
“… education without self-knowledge can never mean wisdom or maturity; …self-knowledge in depth is a process which like education itself is never complete. It is a point on a continuous and never-ending journey. Without self-knowledge we can have no adults, but only aging children who are armed with words, and paint and clay and atomic weapons, none of which they [fully] understand.”
“Self-knowledge is not all there is to wisdom and maturity; but it is an essential ingredient which makes maturity at least possible. Yet it is the one ingredient which is almost totally neglected. This lack is both an index and a cause of the immaturity of our culture.”
For the same reasons, I have also frequently quoted Alfred North Whitehead who believed that the legitimate curriculum of the school is the study of “life in all its manifestations” and what is needed is the development of “an eye for the whole chessboard, for the bearing of one set of ideas on another.” Combine this with Kubie’s statement about self-understanding and together it defines the central thrust of a new systemic design, especially for the elementary and middle school- age levels.
Kubie’s summation of the mission of the school fits my biases, as well. He said and I agree: “The great cultural processes of human society, including art and literature, science, education in general, the humanities and religion, have three essential missions – namely; to enable human nature itself to change; to enable each generation to transmit to the next whatever wisdom it has gained about living; to free the enormous untapped creative potential which is latent in varying degrees in the preconscious processes of everyone. It is my belief that in all three respects all of our great cultural efforts have failed.”
As my understanding was broadened about the dimensions of mind, I consciously integrated these concepts with developmental theories I had studied and tested.
The second set of theories deals with what we know and can validate in our experiences and in the experiences of those who have studied the nature of communication and small group development, including interventions that facilitate growth toward maturity.
Communication and group processes including group/team development:
There were two experiences in formulating and testing concepts of group development that warrant highlighting. One occurred during a Psychology 101 class and the other during leadership development seminars in a textile factory.
I was assigned to teach a freshman class in Psychology 101 that served all departments of the college including mine, the teacher education department. When I entered the room of twenty-five or thirty students, I observed a large portion to appear to be defiant, staring straight ahead with arms crossed, daring me to teach them anything. Most of these students were from “liberal arts and sciences departments” who generally viewed educators as lacking content.
Faced with this situation I wondered how I would successfully approach this group. I had considerable experience working with adolescent students employing the methods and materials of history and geography with a special emphasis on the student’s local community.
The students were successfully engaged in an in-depth study of local history and geography like historians and geographers, gathering the facts regarding the past and constructing an understanding of the evolution of their community. Primary source documents gathered from the records of the past were required to construct a meaningful narrative of the dynamics of the place they were familiar with.
I assumed that much of the primary data that describes human behavior, the subject matter for psychology, is found in the past experiences of each student. Since self-understanding is seldom considered to be important as a source of information, the students were skeptical about its value. It took convincing to get them to try.
I wondered if a similar process could be used to engage these students in discovering what Psychology is about. After consideration that possibly the results from this experience would be satisfying the class agreed to participate.
The first step in the data gathering exercise was an assignment each student was asked to complete. Over several days they were to compile a listing of all the experiences they considered to have had a significant impact on who they had become. This was a confidential list unless voluntarily shared with another. These lists varied in size from twenty to fifty items, some many more.
The second step required students to examine their lists to organize them into categories based on commonalities found among the items. For instance, all matters relating to education were formed under the education category. All matters relating to religion were grouped under religion. Likewise, items relating to family, health, etc. were included in categories under those titles.
The third step involved consideration of how their categories were related. Were some categories more dominant than others, were some closely linked together, were some isolated from the rest, were any fixed or rigid, were some in process, yet to be determined? The answers to these questions entered the tasks of the next step.
The fourth step required each student create a visual/graphic aid to be used to present their findings to the group. They were asked to include visual information that depicted the major concepts of each category and the nature of the relationships between the categories. Students made posters, mobiles, models etc. that were used in their presentations.
The fifth step involved the presentations under the rule they were to seek clarity in what was presented regardless of how they felt about the subject matter or the presentation.
As these presentations began to be shared about the life and times of individual classmates, a recognizable change in the culture of the class was occurring from a skeptical, even hostile, orientation to one of interest and an appreciation of others. This change was something I had seldom experienced with any group I had worked with up to that point.
Not only did the subject matter of psychology, especially developmental psychology, become relevant, what was learned about learning and the importance of group development had a lasting impact on every student in that class. It stimulated me to do further study regarding the theories of communication and group dynamics, especially group development, and integrate these concepts into the plans for systemic changes in education.
It was this study that revealed to me what had transpired during the psychology class. The group was dependent upon my directions when we first met and could have remained dependent upon my directions for as long as we meeting.
However, I encouraged open dialogue based on shared viewpoints during sanctioned processes of personal disclosure. This is a stage of independence. When the group members had developed appreciation for the differences among the members and demonstrated empathy toward each other. They were ready to function at the level of consensual validation, engaging effective discourse while functioning as a mature group.
The other example occurred during leadership development seminars in a “Jobs70” program conducted with first line supervisors in a huge textile plant in North Carolina.
I was hired to conduct seminars with these supervisors to help prepare them to accept unemployed or under employed persons, mainly of color, into the production line whose product was top of the line denim used in making quality jeans.
These supervisors were white men who grew up in the mill following in the footsteps of their fathers and grandfathers. They were understandably worried these new recruits would alter their abilities to reach production quotas set by the plant’s management. They had reached the conclusion that these recruits would already be working if only they had ambition. A typical stereotype of the times.
I agreed to meet with the supervisors of each of three shifts for approximately two hours each workday for four weeks. The first group met between 8 and 10 AM, the second at 3 PM and the last group at midnight.
The organizing thrust at the outset was to develop with these men an understanding of how they acquired who they had become. The plan was to create a need for understanding their lives and times to better understand the lives and times of the recruits, before judging them as to their perceived lazy behavior. This involved introspection that was structured similarly to what had occurred in my Psychology class.
These men all had limited education, yet they were motivated to learn about the theories of human development that we all pass through on our way to becoming who we are in the present. They had a need to solve the problem of having to integrate these new recruits into their efficient production lines, therefore willing to explore anything that made sense to them. (I found them more open to learning than many college students I had worked with, due to their commonsense orientation to problem solving.)
Once we had considered relevant theories of human development that were easily related to actual events etc. in their lives, they were eager to learn more. We were able to consider a wide range of theory with exceptional clarity. They openly considered how these concepts applied to the recruits, recognizing that their stereotypes perhaps did not accurately describe these persons.
Once we had arrived at that point in our deliberations, we then considered what recruits would need to know about their jobs and how they would acquire this knowledge and its related skills. To accomplish this goal, systems concepts were introduced along with model building.
The production line contained a series of machines that produced the quality denim. The supervisors were experts regarding the operation and maintenance of each machine. They knew the roles of each machine in the process. It appeared to me that recruits would need to know the sequence and their role in the chain of events to recognize their critical roles in the production process.
I proposed we begin with the first machine in the sequence and each succeeding one thereafter until we had considered the role of each machine and how they contributed to the product. Each supervisor first described the workings of a machine and then drew a picture that captured that concept and displayed it for future use.
Each machine was likewise pictured and posted in the sequence in which they were found on the production line. This exercise demonstrated the fundamentals of systems design and model building wherein each machine was a part in the system of parts that functioned as a whole.
The supervisors understood this system, but they did not consider how important it would be for the line workers to understand the system as well, so as to recognize the importance of their role. Without that understanding they could unknowingly screw-up the system’s function. They would require experiences that would result in this insight.
The supervisors agreed they would need to offer with the recruits the experiences that would develop awareness and concern for their roles in the system. The exercise they just completed was recognized to be used successfully with the recruits.
In the course of the seminars, it became apparent that these supervisors were skilled and knowledgeable in their work. During our deliberations, the company was experiencing a problem with the quality of the denim as having side to side shading in the final product, a condition unacceptable for their primary customer, the manufacturer of jeans. This caused a panic throughout the mill. A bevy of engineers were brought in to solve the problem. The supervisors were not consulted.
Uninvited, each seminar spent considerable time discussing possible solutions. The midnight shift had determined that the problem could be solved with an adjustment to the sand roller.
I had met frequently with the plant manager before the morning shift to report our activities. I agreed to bring this solution to the manager on the following morning. His response was direct and certain. He said with annoyance: “Don’t you think if that were the solution our engineers would have found it?” I reported his response to each shift thereafter.
A week went by, and a memorandum came down that said change the adjustment on the sand roller, without recognition of where that came from. This angered the supervisors. I reminded them that they now knew how the recruits would have felt being thought of as lazy without a hearing. They accepted my observation without question.
Since the central thrust of these seminars was built around the need for self-understanding, the seminars resembled those of activity in the venues of the schools and in health care. This lent additional faith in the legitimacy of the process and its foundation.
a) Humans are social beings who depend on effective communication within oneself and with one’s friends, relatives and associates for achievement and maintenance of an intellectually productive, healthy personal orientation with life.
b) The first and most fundamental reality about communication between two or more humans is that the meanings transferred through verbal and non-verbal communications are never identical in the minds of participants.
c) The second reality is that humans cannot not communicate. We communicate both consciously and unconsciously through verbal and non-verbal behaviors. How that behavior is interpreted by others is dependent upon their unique internal structures.
d) The interpretation of any communication is governed by the unique intellectual structures or response patterns held by each participant.
e) Messages are assimilated into pre-organized structures; these structures impose their biases on the message and shape or mold it to fit a pre-determined orientation. Thus, the message sent is never the exact message received. Acceptance of an approximate correspondence of thought is achieved through repeated exchanges, yet its final conclusions are never identical.
f) Acceptable validation between the senders and the receivers of the meanings in communications are sought by continuing the exchanges that lead to a mutual acceptance of the similarities of meaning held by each participant. This level of communication is called consensual validation.
g) There are at least six intermediary conditions that can impede or encourage validation of meanings conveyed through communication. These are:
*The quality of the social context in which the communication takes place. For individual members it can be hostile or accepting, supportive or variously destructive.
*The motivation for pursuing the communication that is related to need, interest, one’s energy level or health status.
*The level of maturation reached by each participant at the time of the communication. For instance, a child who is pre-operational or pre-logical will not engage a logical argument. Instead, this youngster will be free to define messages in any way that occurs to him or her, a characteristic of the natural behavior at this level of functioning.
*The level, type, quality and quantity of experiences having been encountered creates a readiness for learning and communicating about a specific topic.
* The degree of self-knowledge and self-understanding each participant brings to the communication that allows and encourages or discourages constructive use of the subject matter.
* The physical/biological potential of each participant that defines the potential for processing information made available through communication with others.
The purpose to be achieved with group development is improved communication among all participants.
a) Group development proceeds along a predictable sequence when the conditions for growth are maintained. This sequence is seldom fully realized by students in conventional schools where instructional time is allotted in segmented and shortened timeslots, insufficient to develop validation in communication.
b) The sequences for group/team development are as follows:
* A level of dependency is dominant when a collection of individuals are gathered together for the first time. A state of dependency exists since clarification of purposes and procedures is left to be defined and explained by the appointed leader. Typically, the leader will issue directives for procedures and explain the consequences for deviant behavior. That group will likely remain dependent.
* If the group leader allows and encourages an opportunity for an airing of individual perceptions, needs and aspirations, and time to seek satisfying resolutions, the next level of group development can emerge.
* This level is labeled independence. The level of independence is seldom actualized in conventional schools due in large part to a misinterpretation of the meaning and value of relative freedom for the exchange of individually felt needs and aspirations.
When disclosures are encouraged, individual differences and similarities are discovered that lay the groundwork for an appreciation and acceptance of the uniqueness of each participant. An important rule for the conduct of these disclosures begins with an agreement to seek clarity rather than offer criticism.
* A mature group is interdependent, featuring consensual validation in their communications, where individual and collective problem solving becomes the central activity of the group.
* Constant vigilance is required that allows and encourages continuing expressions of personal views and the exchanges that lead to rectifying differences in points of view, defined as conflict resolution. In a mature group, members encourage individual pursuits regardless of personal differences, viewed as opportunities to learn and enhance appreciation for individual members.
* Participation in a mature group with continuous consensual validation results in maximized personal and collective development, increased productivity, appreciation for diversity, tolerance for ambiguity, and it results in effective and constructive problem-solving abilities.
a) Group/team development cannot occur in a segmented, departmentalized setting organized to move students from one short stay with instruction on a topic, followed by another short stay on a different topic. The time required for sorting out the meanings is not available, and the opportunity to confront the orientations that are getting in the way of maturity seldom occurs.
b) Personal satisfaction with the processes of communication in a departmentalized, compartmentalized instructional setting continuously leaves students with unfulfilled learning that has serious psychological consequences.
c) Achieving group maturity is not possible within an authoritarian, hierarchical organization since sharing honest feelings in an open setting is either tacitly or openly prohibited.
d) Public schools are organized as authoritarian structures. Despite elected school boards, authority is granted by statute to a CEO who maintains near ultimate power in the system.
e) In an authoritarian organization there is always someone at the top of the hierarchy responding to an authority higher up on the power ladder.
f) Teachers and janitors are participants with limited authority, modified somewhat by collective bargaining.
g) Since power rests with those in administrative positions, underlings, teachers, janitors and grounds keepers are obliged to maintain a facade that masks their true feelings, one that satisfies the power structure by giving the appearance of conformity.
h) Until there is a complete restructuring of this hierarchical organization, sustained changes that are based on consensus among participants are nearly impossible to attain.
A suggested model for reconstruction that is consistent with principles of group maturity is based on the three branches of our constitutional form of governance, the legislative, administrative, and judicial branches. Applied to schools it would feature a written constitution and bylaws that reflect the salient points and their implications covered in this text. All activity in the schools would be obliged to live under this document, the foundation concepts.
a. There would be an instructional/facilitating branch that involves only those who are directly involved with students charged with student development and learning.
b. There would be an administrative branch with responsibilities for budgeting, public relations, maintenance of buildings and grounds, administered with regard for the needs of the branch charged with facilitating learning.
c. A third branch would focus on quality assurance, monitoring the consistencies and inconsistencies between the activities of the two other branches and the requirements of the constitution and bylaws, and charged with continuing the study of the foundations required to give adequate guidance during decision making.
The third set of theories deals with what we know and can validate in our experiences and in the experiences of those who have studied the nature of knowledge and how it can be acquired using the disciplines of general education that are organized into categories or realms of meaning.
a) There has been an ever-present chasm maintained between incompatible approaches in education that feature an emphasis on disseminating prescribed information by instruction within pre-defined procedures and an orientation based on the unique and individualized creative processes of learning. These competing ideas are referred to as subject centered vs. child centered education.
b) The subject centered interests focus on the acquisition of prescribed information that was selected by so-called experts in the absence of the students who are required to participate in its activities.
c) The prescribed information handed down is contained in the “core curriculum” broken into separate subjects such as social studies, mathematics, science, literature, reading and writing. Little mention is made of the creative sources of this information.
d) Teachers are obliged to teach/instruct at each grade level with regard to the prescribed content whether or not it is relevant or developmentally appropriate for their students.
e) Since there are usually three different levels of capacity for logic at each grade level, instruction in a commonly prescribed content is developmentally inappropriate for many students in each grade.
f) The psychological damage inflicted on students through developmentally inappropriate instruction is reflected in a diminished capacity for full development of intellectual potential as well as increasing concerns about mental health.
g) Even though there is cursory reference given to higher level thought processes, that reference is rendered meaningless when standardized tests have only one correct answer for every question.
h) The “core curriculum” is a re-casting of the typical subject matter courses maintained in the traditions of education at least since the late eighteen hundreds. The students are consumers of information, not creators of personal knowledge.
i. The child centered interests currently attempt with limited success to sandwich-into the core curriculum some projects that enable students to actively participate in problem solving activity. The life span of those projects is limited by the forces of conformity and eventually are dissolved in favor of direct instruction in bits and pieces of information.
Shortly after the Russian Sputnik Space accomplishments in 1957, our federal government invested millions to improve instruction in mathematics and sciences and brought college professors in to help. (Note: today’s obsession with STEM gives testimony as to the early lack of success.)
a) In the late 1950’s, a conference of math and science professors was convened at Woodshole to consider how and what changes were needed.
b) Jerome Bruner authored a summary of the conference in a very popular book entitled: The Process of Education, published in 1960.
c) The position of the professors purportedly as authored by Bruner stated that any legitimate aspect of subject matter can be taught to students at any age or stage of development, a behaviorist position to be sure. He misquoted Piaget as support for this proposition. Piaget vigorously objected to his interpretation but nevertheless it became the mantra for the core curriculum that emerged after the No Child Left Behind legislation of 2001 and continues in 2021.
d) To counter the post-sputnik movement that excluded concern for the humanities, Philip Phenix launched a study of the nature of all the general education subjects through structured interviews with those persons who were producing the contents that ended up in the texts and workbooks/worksheets of the common core. I actively participated in the data collection process for Phenix’s book and lobbied for geography as a synoptic discipline, not a science.
e) Experts provided detailed descriptions of their disciplines, their structures, modes of inquiry, key concepts and organizing principles. Special emphasis was placed on the processes of creating and communicating knowledge pertaining to the area of responsibility each took responsibility for; geologists focused on geology, historians on history etc.
f) Based on similarities, the disciplines were categorized into six interrelated realms of meaning, described in Phenix’s book: Realms of Meaning – A Philosophy of Curriculum for General Education.
*The realm of Empirics contains all the sciences including social sciences.
*The realm of Symbolics includes mathematics and all other languages.
*The realm of Synoptics includes history, geography, and cultural anthropology.
*The realm of Aesthetics includes all the arts and architecture.
* The realm of Ethics includes a search for the bases for moral and ethical decision making.
* The realm of Synnoetics includes matters relating to acquiring self-knowledge and self-understanding.
g. The processes or modes of inquiry in each discipline within each realm provide the tools for creating and communicating personal knowledge, meanings that translate into intelligent decision making and productive mental health.
a) If students were to engage the disciplines utilizing the methods and materials of each in ways developmentally appropriate, beginning in early years of schooling, and progressing seamlessly in their pursuit of competency throughout their elementary and middle school years, their lives would be enormously enhanced.
b) The methods and materials of the disciplines would be focused in the service of what Whitehead believed is the legitimate curriculum of the school, the study of life in all its manifestations. An eye for the whole chessboard would be accomplished through personal inquiry and organization of personal insights with systems thinking.
c) When each discipline is viewed as a system and students are system designers, the products of their inquiry analyzed through system analysis will reveal clear and lasting concepts of large chunks of the world’s knowledge that reduces the complexities exacerbated by the added confusion of social media and worldwide communication technologies.
d) Phenix’s schematic of realms of meaning offers the opportunity to lend needed revisions within the curriculum in ways that bridges the gap between the content and the child development interests.
The fourth set of theories deals with what we know and can validate in our experiences and in the experiences of those who have studied in depth general systems theory applied to education, especially systems design as a process of learning and systems analysis as a strategy for assessment and evaluation of learning outcomes.
Growing up on a nearly self-sufficient farm, I was steeped in awareness that relationships between components of the environment were real and predictable. I worked with environmental systems every day of my early years.
a) As with all the theories referred to in this treatise, the theory of general systems is no exception. Its systemic concepts are not considered yet-to-be-tested hypotheses, they are valid and reliable theories that have been thoroughly tested by professionals who toil in the subjects they assume responsibility for. They are valid since they accurately represent their subject matter, and they are reliable since they consistently and accurately explain and predict at different times and in different situations.
b) The theory of systems is built on a seemingly simple but profound idea, systems are made of parts that form a whole. Applied to early, elementary and middle school education, these systems are made of the parts of the school system that include the facilities and operational structures, the individual students who are capable of change, the exchanges between individuals, one-on-one, or in groups of varying levels of maturity, led by a learning facilitator, the subject matter that makes up the general education curriculum and the strategy for engaging students in active pursuit of meaning in all disciplines in six realms of the general education program.
c) Two components of systems theory particularly relevant in education are systems design, considered a process of learning, and systems analysis as a strategy for authentic assessment and evaluation of learning outcomes.
d) Systems design is a process of identifying parts and constructing relationships between those parts that shows them related and functioning as a unit. A fully functioning system is one whose parts have been integrated into a structure where parts relate compatibly with each other. Those concepts are constructed through the cognitive processes of analysis, synthesis, and critical/creative evaluation.
e) Systems analysis is a process of determining the efficacy of the system, whether it remains valid and functions reliably at different times and in different locations and conditions.
f) The initial experiences of students with systems design and systems analysis requires direct and concrete exposure to the parts and their relationships first found within the local environs. This is consistent with any valid and reliable theory of learning and individual development.
g) In general, the parts of local environs include the rocks and minerals, the relief features, soils, water and drainage, flora, fauna, weather and climate, and location. In every local physical setting, there are also social/cultural characteristics of the inhabitants, their economic and political structures, and processes, all of which have existed during periods of the past and have a present and projected future.
h) For youngsters who are pre-operational or pre-logical, they would profit from encouraged explorations of these parts of their environment, stimulated by natural curiosity. Responses to these experiences by young students are expressed in drawings and other forms of language available to individuals at this level. These responses must be compiled in a computerized record of experiences that will travel with each student, available for reference as more advanced levels of attainment are sought and reached.
I) For concrete operational youngsters, they are beginning to be logical regarding concrete or direct experiences, can begin identifying the parts of the local environment and recognize simple relationships among the parts that gives early form to its system. The products of these experiences with the parts and their relationships is recorded along with previous entries when they were at the pre-logical stage.
j) When youngsters become formal operational, they will build upon their concrete and direct experiences that form concepts and will attach language that deals with hypothetical and abstract ideas. Without the concrete experiences and record keeping, this language will not have sufficient meaning to be sustained in memory available for lifelong learning.
k) Having pieced together the parts like a puzzle, the result is a recognizable pattern of relationships where the parts become defined for their characteristics and functions. Once this pattern is internalized, it can be reconstructed at any future point in time, a process of remembering or reconstructing details.
l) The process of systems design that features piecing together parts to form a whole, contrasted with conventional instruction through a bombardment of isolated bits and pieces of information, provides the context for the vital need to adopt systems theory to vastly improve the development of competency and the enhancement of everyone’s mental health status.
a) Since a steady flow of information has been thrust into the twenty-first century with instant worldwide communications, individuals without a systems orientation can easily become overwhelmed with information overload. This has wreaked havoc on the physical and mental well-being of major portions of our population, struggling to find meaning in their lives. Lack of meaning has contributed to an anti-intellectual orientation.
b) Without an internalized frame of reference wrought out of an in-depth analysis, synthesis and critical/creative evaluation of the local setting, individuals will know even less about environs more remote in time and location., and little about their own self-understanding.
c) Such deficiencies render individuals incapable of self-understanding, leaving schooling with half-baked insights and a superficial language of signs that can sound authentic but upon scrutiny are found to be starved of concepts and internalized meanings.
d) Systems concepts cannot survive in a hierarchically organized conventional school system that is controlled from the top down, often guided by uninformed understandings and antiquated traditions about individuals and how they grow and develop, about the nature of communication between individuals and among groups that are guided by an appointed leader with or without the necessary expertise to facilitate group processes and individual development.
e). A hierarchical organization fosters the continued maintenance of traditional subjects to be consumed by the student as opposed to a conceptualization of realms of meaning with emphasis on the processes of inquiry and modes of communication, available through active participation in all realms of meaning that fulfills individual potentialities.
The four sets of theories form the foundation for a new system of education, one much different from the existing one. These four sets are the parts that must be compatible to function as a unified whole. They define the components illustrated on the model at the beginning of this treatise.
Administrative Organization, Decision-Making, and Accountability Procedures
Frequently visiting classrooms of students in action throughout the elementary school gave me direct experience with the governing system employed in the public schools. Teachers are controlled by relative outsiders, the department heads, principals, superintendents, and boards of education.
Teaching of the prescribed subject matter that each of these outsiders tacitly accept from their superiors is their job, regardless of relevance to the specific developmental levels of students. The students are expected to conform without complaints or like those at each level above, suffer consequences.
a) Encouraging my teacher candidates to develop and use sound judgment placed them frequently in opposition with the requirements handed down; they and I were often in direct conflict with the affected administrators. I spent much of my time attempting to maneuver a reasonable solution to the problems. This led me to search for a better governing structure to replace the basically authoritarian model used in the public schools.
b. I had observed many administrators who seemed to relish being in charge and that prompted me to research the literature on the authoritarian personality. It was not until later that I learned about the development of personality types that relate to the three dimensions of mind, the pre-conscious, conscious and the unconscious.
c. Personality types result from past experiences long since forgotten, but nevertheless have been distilled into personal attitudes, values, beliefs and orientations. Coupled with a unique DNA, these distillations form the dimensions of the authoritarian personalities I had witnessed.
d. I found the work of Rensis Likert particularly relevant regarding leadership types found in schools. He wrote about four types of leaders. The first was called an exploitative authoritarian.
*This type assumes absolute authority and will exploit associates to achieve his or her selfish ends, usually an advancement up the chain of command.
School systems often support such behavior, rationalized as necessary to maintain order. Frequently, superintendents of schools are selected from a pool of football coaches with a commanding physical appearance, reinforcing the authoritarian model.
*The second type is called a benevolent authoritarian who is also absolutely in charge, but with one important difference from the exploitative type. If the benevolent type approves of an individual’s work effort, he or she will reward that person by granting latitude to act independently.
I worked for such an administrator at Jersey City State College. He liked what I was about and not only allowed me to pursue my goals but he actively protected me from the critics who inevitably arise when anyone does something that challenges the status quo.
*The third type is referred to as consultative. This type likely emerged as a response to those who objected to the authoritarian models, either the exploitative or the benevolent type. The consultative type is a popular model for authoritarian types since it gives the appearance of a democratic model while maintaining an absolute position of authority.
This type of leadership is the most dishonest type of leadership that lures many into thinking they are having a say in shaping decisions that affect them, when in fact if that happens it is by coincidence not by design. Often this leader will seek input for decisions already made but held secret from the underlings. This type of leadership is frequently found at all levels of schooling, from elementary through higher education.
* The fourth type of leadership is called participative, a longed-for democratic model that almost never survives the other three. Developing a governing system, based on the participative model, became an important component in defining the second component of my design model, Administrative Organization, Decision-Making, and Accountability Procedures.
I served as president of our local Kiwanis Club nine consecutive years during which I practiced a participative model. Based on validated theories of group development, we as a club were able to achieve phenomenal teamwork that resulted in our establishing a comprehensive model primary health care center for the surrounding area.
a) Local communities had lost their primary care physicians to retirement, health problems and departure, so there was a need this Club took on, seeking the recruitment of doctors. During those efforts I became aware of a project sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to fund the establishment of nine model primary healthcare centers across rural America. With the support of the club members, I set about attempting to formulate a response to their RFP, a request for proposal.
b) It was clear they were looking for innovative designs that allowed proposals with a wide latitude of ideas. I recognized the opportunity to design a participative governance model that featured consensus decision-making, requiring the staff, the administration, and the legally responsible board to practice a process that sought consensus rather than simply a majority vote of approval.
c) Consensus according to Warren Bennis is not the same as unanimity. It is a point in the decision-making process whereby all members have had their positions known but some still do not agree with the decision of the group but are willing to support its decision until further deliberations might occur.
d) Our proposal featured patient education as an integral part of health care, both physical and mental. It gained funding of $517,000 and we raised another amount locally to capture the generous grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
We proposed to establish a health care center that would serve as a hub for surrounding communities as the center of a network designed to ensure sufficient income for its operation.
e) We began establishing satellite offices in several surrounding communities served by the center hub. The hub had a laboratory and radiation capability and three doctors who were purportedly a team interested in serving rural communities.
f) As it turned out, these doctors were not a team and their commitment to serve in the rural satellites was marginal at best. The results were financial shortfalls that left the administrator holding the bag while the health care providers complained that consensus was not being practiced. This was a serious problem that eventually led to the abandonment of the consensus model and replacing it with a return to the traditional authoritarian model with a CEO and a Board of Directors.
g) A major lesson learned about the possibility for establishing an innovative health care network within an existing hierarchical system that places legal demands on the Board and its Administrator that shows that the system runs contrary to the proposal for widespread consensus decision making. That prevented continuation of our innovative model.
h) Nevertheless, the health care center reverted to a traditional model and has continued to serve its community with other communities that have since established their affiliations with a larger network that resembles the much smaller network tried in the proposal.
I) While the consensus model proposed did not survive, the lessons learned from the attempt played an important role in the development of a response to the need for a participative governing system to be applied in the public schools.
Looking for an existing model that could be adapted to the needs for a democratic system of governance, I decided a modification of our national governing system had its merits. That system has three parts, legislative, administrative and judicial branches that operate under rules of conduct outlined in the constitution and bill of rights.
a) The proposed governing organization for the school would also have three parts, an instructional branch composed of all those who work directly with students, an administrative branch whose responsibility would be budgeting, public relations, buildings and grounds maintenance, etc. serving the instructional branch, and a quality assurance branch that judges consistencies or inconsistencies between decisions made and the system’s constitution and bill of rights. This branch also is to be responsible for continuing the study of the underlying theories/assumptions of the constitution and engaging the staff in its findings.
b) The theories and assumptions outlined in this treatise are proposed to serve as the foundation for the constitution and by-laws. All participants will be obliged to abide by these as the law of the school, providing continuing guidance for decision making until changes become warranted because of new discoveries from the research in relevant fields of study.
c) Existing theories in the new system cannot be replaced except with other validated theories. This model of governance is explained in detail in my book of 2013: Remaking Our Schools for the Twenty-First Century – A Blueprint for Change/Improvement in our School Systems.
Current assumptions and beliefs about education run counter to each of the four essential areas of an effective foundation for decision making in public schools, beginning with the first element in the design model.
Goals and objectives, curriculum, and transactional-learning strategies:
There are six authors and their books I have especially relied upon for language to express many of the concepts and beliefs I hold with great value. They are A.N. Whitehead, Lawrence Kubie, Leland Bradford, Bela Banathy, Philip Phenix, and Robert Davis. Whitehead’s book is entitled: The Aims of Education and Other Essays, Kubie’s is: The Neurotic Distortion of the Creative Process, and Bradford’s magazine article is entitled: “The Teaching-Learning Transaction.”
Bela Banathy is found in the book: Comprehensive Systems Design: A New Educational Technology. The Phenix book is: Realms of Meaning – A Philosophy of Curriculum for General Education. Davis’s book is entitled: Learning Mathematics – The Cognitive Science Approach to Mathematics Education.
The one person who contributed most directly to my background was Dr. Charles Lahey, Professor of Local and State History at SUNY Potsdam.
a) I was working with sixth graders as a demonstration teacher in the Congdon Campus School at the State University of New York at Potsdam when I met with Lahey in a parent conference regarding his daughter. He was not pleased with my teaching of history, in fact said bluntly that I might be the worst history teacher he had ever known. I didn’t argue with him but reminded him of the fact that I had “taken” two courses in history from him.
b) After the dust settled, we agreed to launch a project where I would move with this group of students to the seventh grade where New York State History and Geography are required to be taught. Lahey at the time was finishing his dissertation that featured an entrepreneur who had developed St. Lawrence County.
c) He had collected a massive amount of documentation about this man and his transactions throughout the early years of the county’s development. Lahey said he thought my students, including his daughter, would enjoy doing the research he was doing, describing it like putting together a puzzle, a mystery in the making.
d) He agreed he would furnish copies of the documents for our use as a seventh-grade class and help us learn the ways of research by real historians. I had no reasonable alternative, so I agreed to participate.
e) When we began searching the meaning contained in the primary historical documents, we realized that these happenings occurred in a physical environment that influenced the activities expressed in them. This led us into the study of physical geography as a discipline.
f) Since there were many documents, we needed to keep organized we went looking for a path of pursuit. We decided that we would first build a three-dimensional model, to scale, that contained the area of the county. We could plot on this model any pertinent information we dug up about events in the early years of county development.
This was the first time in my professional career that my experiences on the farm were an asset for aiding in formulating an accurate and detailed model of the county’s natural/physical environment.
g) We built replica mills and industries, found pictures of people and activities of the past along with agricultural activities etc. that we placed on the model at their actual location. This activity was developed in response to making history become concrete and meaningful even though it occurred in the early 1800’s.
h) We kept a journal of our activities that we could continuously refer to as needed. Every student participated in the project daily, planning each day’s work to pick up on where we left off the day before and doing tasks that were suited to the project consistent with their needs and abilities. At the end of most days, we made entries into our journal.
I) As we progressed in our daily work, we began assembling an historical narrative, like historians and geographers do. When we finished our narrative, we met with our historian consultant and compared notes with him. He had used essentially the same information we had so we expected our narratives to be similar. However, on several occasions we found our narrative to differ from his. Our interpretations of the facts were different and therefore our conclusions were different.
j) We discussed at length the reasons for the differences and the result were a much greater appreciation of the statement that much is in the eye of the beholder, that history and geography are fallible as are other bodies of knowledge and should be viewed as such.
Having constructed a three-dimensional model that was validated with field trips etc. it became obvious this was a vehicle for assessment of what is known about the fundamental parts of the local environmental system. Transferred to a paper version, the Environmental Relationships Test (ERT) was formulated.
a) The ERT contains a listing of the common terms used to identify each part within each environmental category. Examples found under each category for instance, iron, oil, coal, etc. is found under the minerals category. Likewise specific examples are listed under each category for the bedrock, relief features, soils, flora, fauna, weather, climate, and location.
b) The examinee is asked to select one or more terms from each category that are found in their own backyard and to draw or build a model that shows the basic concept of each and how they fit together as a system. Any items unknown were/are to be left blank.
c) Over three decades since this test has been administered by me to hundreds of learners within and outside of school, the results are found to be seriously troublesome. Less than a handful of learners have exhibited a satisfactory level of competency, enough to warrant a passing grade, even though the subject matter involves to them the most familiar environment in the world, each person’s back yard. If that is not understood what can be understood about the many parts of environments elsewhere? These results appeared among teachers of elementary school as well.
d) This test was often used to introduce workshops to the plan from which it grew, The Discovery Approach to the Teaching of Social Studies. Workshops occurred in several states involving demonstrations with students with intensive teacher involvement. I conducted a demonstration on the stage in front of members of the National Association of Social Studies Teachers and published a chapter describing the plan in a Yearbook of the Association.
e) The plan was reviewed favorably by teachers who realized how much more involvement they could have with students in solving problems connected with their inquiry, anticipating the enthusiasm of the students as a result.
f) I had attempted to complete my doctoral dissertation featuring a validation study of the ERT only to find no one at Teachers College who would endorse the idea. I was in Illinois during that time consulting on a project in earth science for elementary students and while there visited with Ben Bloom in his office at the University of Chicago.
g) reviewed the features of the ERT and asked if it measured the higher thought processes of his Taxonomy, analysis, synthesis, and critical evaluation. He immediately responded that indeed it did and followed by asking if I would be interested in coming to work with him, I was in the process of moving to Plattsburgh to establish the Open Curriculum for teachers, so although pleased with the offer I did not accept.
Observing the extraordinary effectiveness of the utilization of the methods and materials of the disciplines of history and geography with elementary and middle school students, I was motivated to spread the discovery using workshops to the extent possible. In addition, I enrolled in a graduate course entitled “Ways of Knowing” offered by Professor Pillip Phenix of Teachers College Columbia University and participated in exploring the natures of the other disciplines in the general education programs of schools that led to his book on realms of meaning.
a) The primary goal for each learner in this new system is self-understanding writ large. It includes what one does or does not know about oneself, others, and the universe as a whole.
b) Objectives are formed in the service of continuously finding out the answers to those questions utilizing the creative methods and unique materials of the disciplines drawn from within all realms of meaning.
c) Changes in curriculum will perhaps be most traumatic since the traditional curriculum that is divided into arbitrary segments and dished out to students is so firmly established it will be like losing an arm or leg.
d) Harking back once again to the words of Whitehead; what is needed is an eye for the whole chessboard, for the bearing of one set of ideas on another and the goal is to find meaning in life in all its manifestations.
e) As stated earlier, Kubie says that wisdom is not possible without self-understanding and self is a part of the environmental system that surrounds each of us.
f) That environmental system is composed of four categories, the natural/physical and manmade portion, the social/cultural characteristics of its inhabitants, individuals, families, ancestors and distant relatives, and the economic/political structures and processes that have been established among those inhabitants.
g) There are disciplines for inquiry and communication in the six realms of meaning that continue the search for meaning in everything that exists in the universe from the very small to the very large. They are constantly changing as inquiry proceeds, including the language created to communicate or express their findings.
h) Likewise, education based on active inquiry in disciplines ensures continuous change based on the facts as known at each interval.
h) Any individual will eventually make choices as to which area will be selected for an avocation, selected from a pool of possibilities drawn from the six realms of meaning, providing each has had the opportunity to internalize a preferred area of interest.
a) The essential elements in this text are based on updated, 21st century information that is uniquely different from what governs today’s public-school systems. It addresses the shortcomings of that conventional system.
b) The new system places primary authority for the conduct of the school in the hands of local educators. It’s based on faith that local personnel can and will master the guiding framework represented by the essential elements and be held accountable for their actions.
c) No longer will decision making rest with a remote entity that mandates arbitrary rules and regulations along with a rigidly defined curriculum that is often found to be developmentally inappropriate for many students.
d) This new system will address the origins of ignorance, incompetency, immorality and unethical behaviors, as well as issues relating to mental health.
e) It’s outcome will provide the necessary insight to preserve a democratic philosophy and a citizen participation form of governance.
Working with the local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) a 21st century model of this system’s curricular orientation was demonstrated. Three adjacent counties in northeastern New York State were selected as part of the prototype.
a) The goal was to create an accessible data bank of primary source documents drawn from the records of the past and from reputable secondary sources that provide authenticated data about the history and geography of these three counties, made available on-line to classrooms.
b) Two websites were established:
1) America’s Past Through the Eyes of local History http.americaspastthroughtheeyesoflocalhistory.com
2) Data For America’s Past Through Local History
c) The first website contains directions for students in its use including how to do ancestry research, and the review of literature that teachers would need in support of this approach.
d) The activities suggested were geared to the developmental levels of each student. For instance, pre-operational youngsters would explore first-hand, wherever possible, the many parts of of the local natural/physical setting and social/cultural matters and express their reactions through appropriate means of communication available at the time.
e) These records would be stored in a computerized personal data bank that keeps track of the details such as the date and time of the experience and what meaning it had that could be expressed in drawings or other forms of communication such as narratives and drama.
j) It will be the responsibility of the adults who work with young children to initiate the record keeping system (discussed later) and ensure entries if not daily, at least frequently.
k) When students reach concrete operations, consistently able to apply logic with direct/hands-on experiences, they will engage in constructing models that represent the results of their inquiry. These students could build or construct a physical model that would be like the one from which the ERT evolved. Photographs of these products would be entered cooperatively into each student’s record.
l) It is imperative that group development practices are employed to develop a learning atmosphere that allows and encourages differences of opinion without ridicule. Reference must be made to how this is accomplished and maintained. See the material in the section “Communication and Group Development” discussed earlier.
k) When students reach the level of formal operations, they are capable of dealing logically with abstract and hypothetical information and language. This opens many possibilities and avenues for learning that spans all levels of language. However, adolescence presents its challenges that often clouds the logic they are capable of. Patience with this challenge is required.
Assessment, evaluation, record keeping and reporting procedures:
We have learned the hard way, with the increased emphasis on the use of standardized testing since 2001 with The No Child Left Behind legislation, just how controlling testing is over the conduct of the school. It is an example of the tail wagging the dog. Unless there is a change in the assessment and evaluation programs of schools, we can never achieve success in a plan to individualize the education of our youth.
a) Current testing is wrought out of a behaviorist philosophy which says unless behavior can be precisely measured it is not legitimate as assessment and evaluation data. This position precludes consideration of the processes of learning that are described in, for instance, Robert Gagne’s theory of stages in learning or consideration of the differences in logical abilities related to stages of intellectual development.
b) A precise measurement to the behaviorists is one that reduces human behavior to a single digit that can be manipulated statistically to present the illusion of progress.
c) The standardized test is essentially a multiple choice written test with only one correct answer to each question.
d) The behaviorists take the position that legitimate subject matter can be taught to most any student, at any age or stage of development. This is true if what is considered legitimate is superficial knowledge and language acquired through the repetition of behavior modification techniques. Such beliefs encourage low level cognition. The higher levels of analysis, synthesis and critical/creative evaluation are vacated in their plans.
d) The creation of a common core designed in the absence of all students is required as the basis for a uniform and conforming body of subject matter to be taught and tested. This common core may represent important subject matter, but acquiring the underlying concepts included in that core would require active student participation in personal inquiry. Otherwise, the result is likely superficial language development and half-baked understandings of life’s many manifestations, measured by a standardized test.
e) Creating an alternative assessment and evaluation plan based on constructionist philosophy that matches human development and learning, has become a major part of this new systemic plan for early schooling.
f) The title of the new plan is: The Constructive Assessment, Record Keeping, Evaluation and Reporting System, a computerized record of experiences maintained by and for each learner, designed to travel with them for use by the student and adult facilitators in pursuit of wisdom.
The CARES System --–The Constructive Assessment, Recordkeeping and Evaluation System
CARES is a systems-oriented assessment and evaluation plan that uses modern communication technology to develop and maintain an individualized record of learning experiences, and the results achieved from those experiences. The CARES system is an integral part of an educational program that emphasizes the processes of learning and new methods of systems assessment and evaluation of learning outcomes. It’s focus is on the analysis, synthesis and critical evaluation of life’s regional manifestations, also applicable in regards to all the disciplines in each realm of meaning.
How does the CARES model work?
a) Each student upon entering school is assigned a secure software package that contains six folders:
1) A strictly confidential folder, called “Who am I,” to be shared between students, their parents, and other authorized and important participants in the life of the individual.
2) A folder that contains files pertaining to what has been learned about the parts of the local and regional natural/physical world.
3) A folder that contains files pertaining to what has been learned about the parts of local and regional social/cultural phenomena.
4) A folder that contains files pertaining to what has been learned about the parts of the local and regional economic structures and processes.
5) A folder that contains files pertaining to what has been learned about the parts of the local and regional political structures and processes.
6) A sixth folder that contains the models constructed by each learner as they inquire into the various dimensions of life in all its manifestations.
(Models are representations of any subject of inquiry with four important functions: 1) Organization of information into systems, 2) Measurement of progress, 3) Prediction of events and 4) Heuristic considerations.)
This record travels with the learner and is available with a computer command for re-visitation and revisions.
b) Beginning with an in-depth study of the local setting, its present, past and projected future, learners first construct from hands on experiences a comprehensive model of the local area that establishes a foundation for learning that transfers to the development of insights concerning other times and regions throughout the larger world.
c) The kinds of information to be entered into a record of experiences include validated information/facts about each of these items drawn from firsthand experiences and from primary and secondary documents that are reinforced with direct experiences wherever possible.
Natural physical Social/Cultural factors Economic activities Political
Location Religion Money Local
Bedrock Education Banking State
Mineral deposits Customs Jobs Federal
Relief features Manners Trade constitutions
Soils Orientations Corporations Government
Drainage patterns Recreation Profit Laws
Flora Arts Loss Regulations
Fauna Literature Stocks Courts
Weather Architecture Investment Boundaries Climate Legislation Communication
Outer space Languages Credit
Ancestries Income Parties
Industry etc. Freedoms etc.
How will skills and abilities be developed?
a) Each learner will engage in inquiry using the creative tools for learning found in disciplines within each of the six realms of meaning. The results of inquiry will be verified through first-hand observations and through the sharing of insights with others, all under the watchful eye of adult facilitators.
b) As learners develop authentic knowledge derived through their own efforts there will be increased personal need to focus on development of the language skills and abilities required in life. Teamwork that fosters communication at a level of consensual validation is central to the mission of CARES, offering numerous opportunities to consider ethical and moral behaviors along the way.
c) As inquiry proceeds, a diary is kept electronically that prevents the loss of important information, making it possible for learners to construct models over time that illustrate their findings. These models represent the integration of subject matter, reducing the complexities to simpler formulations called systems.
d) CARES (The Constructive Assessment, Record Keeping and Evaluation System) focuses on the mastery of systems. A system is any set of parts that function together, forming a unitary whole. There are hundreds if not many thousands of systems within the universe, each capable of being mastered at a much higher level of competency than we see nowadays because of piecemeal experiences in conventional schooling.
e) The parts of a system can be isolated and studied independently, but to fully understand any system, the parts must be seen as integrated and functioning interactively. To fully understand a system, one must be able to differentiate the parts, one from another, and create through direct experience a mental image (a concept) of the relationships and interactive processes found between and among the parts.
f) In general, there are six steps in the process of building, recording, and storing the evidence of construction of a validated system. (1) Defining/re-defining an initial listing of the parts of the system to be mastered. (2) Accumulating experiences that lead to translating/conceptualizing the parts and inserting evidence of those experiences into a computerized record. (3) Model building by organizing and re-organizing the experiential findings stored in the record. (4) Synthesis and critical/creative evaluation formulated in communications representing the authentic levels of achieved mastery. (5) Verification through comparing one’s constructions with others. (6) Identification of new systems that result from prior constructions.
On what is CARES based?
a) The CARES System is a translation of general systems theory, namely, systems design as a process of learning and systems analysis as a strategy for assessment and evaluation of learning outcomes. Developmentally sensitive learning-processes are required of inquiry contained in the traditional disciplines within all realms of meaning.
b) A beginning focus is on the development of a frame of reference through an in-depth study of the local community, its past, present, and future – its natural/physical features, its social/cultural characteristics, and its economic and political structures and processes.
c) This emphasis is designed to teach the learner HOW to learn in six realms of meaning that organize the contents of process-oriented experiences, rather than an outcomes-based common core curriculum. The application of systems concepts takes the place of standardized tests and their pre-determined outcomes which stifle individually unique formulations of insight.
d) There are core theories that underlie the CARES system that have been validated but ignored by the behaviorist advocates of standardization and standardized tests. The first one is attributed to Jean Piaget. He described the development of cognitive abilities in individuals from early childhood through adolescence.
Piaget developed a data gathering strategy that employs “conservation experiments” to determine cognitive functioning at four levels of biological development, starting with sensory motor responses to experience, to pre-operational/pre-logical intelligence, to concrete operations or simple logic based on concrete experiences, to formal operations characterized by the ability to deal logically with abstract and hypothetical situations.
e) These experiments are available for use by teachers, important in determining the level of cognitive functioning of each learner that shapes the expectations for learning. Without this information, learners are often treated as if they are the same as others at their age level when in fact age alone does not determine the developmental capacities for thinking logically.
f) The second theory is attributed to Viktor Lowenfeld. He describes the levels of cognitive development exhibited by children’s drawings. When asked to draw a familiar subject like their home the first drawings depict the house as curved lines floating in the air. While adults may not recognize the drawing of a house, to the youngster this is indeed a house. This is equivalent to a late motor-sensory, early pre-operational capability.
g) As the child develops, the next level of cognition exhibited in drawings is a two-dimensional house anchored to the bottom of the page. This is a level of beginning logic. It is followed by a gradual sequence of moving the house away from the baseline onto a base-plane, followed by showing the house taking on a beginning third dimension where the front portion is three-dimensional and the rear view is two-dimensional, a level called dawning realism.
A picture that exhibits a realistic view with a fully dimensional house and its surroundings proportional with overlapping is the next level. The final level is abstract drawing which deliberately includes bits and pieces of all the prior levels to achieve a particular effect.
h) With information about the levels of cognition, demonstrated in the drawings of each learner, the teacher can know what the learner’s capabilities for logic are, whether it pertains to science, grammar, mathematics, or art etc.
i) The third theory is attributed to Lev Vygotsky. It deals with the sequence of language development beginning with pre-intellectual language, to naively psychological language, to external signs dominance, to an internalization/in-growth/ symbolic phase.
j) It’s often said that talk is cheap. Language is first a mimicked version of the adult language voiced by children before full comprehension is achieved. The uses of words often do not distinguish how the language is being used, whether the words are reflective of one phase or another. Knowing the definitions of each phase makes it possible for teachers to more precisely determine the level of meaning each learner is exhibiting as reflected in the records of experience developed with the CARES system.
k) The next theory is contained in the handbook entitled The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives – Cognitive Domain attributed to Benjamin Bloom. It lists the levels of complexity regarding educational objectives correlated with cognitive development.
*The least complex level of cognition is acquisition of knowledge or facts, information.
*The next increasingly complex level of cognition is translation of that knowledge.
* Interpretation of what has been translated is the next level.
*Extrapolation beyond what has been interpreted is the next level. (Levels 2, 3, and 4 are referred to as comprehension.)
*Analysis through examination is the taking apart of what has been comprehended.
*Synthesis is the construction of systems where sets of parts are integrated into unifying wholes.
*Critical Evaluation is the apex of cognitive abilities that invites creative solutions to problems.
l) The next theory concerns a model of learning developed by Robert Gagne. billed as an accumulative model; its stages are:
*Learning begins with experiences that range from direct and purposeful to abstract verbal language.
*Experiences are linked to associated experiences, a simple connection.
*Simple associations are expressed first through physical responses and later verbal responses.
*Continued attention paid to associations, consisting of an examination from varying points of view, achieves multiple discrimination.
*Multiple discrimination produces concepts or mental images that are retained and applied to the interpretation of objects and events. (Take note: language used to express associations and concepts appear to sound the same but contain vastly different levels of meaning.
The language that expresses associations is composed of signs that denote the objects they refer to. The language of symbols is the vehicle for expressing connotations, the concepts that define its meaning. The words and sentences can sound the same in both language uses and unless probing of those differences occurs, those meanings remain unchallenged, leading to unreliable conclusions.
*Concepts that are predictable, form simple rules that become principles that eventually become laws that meet the tests of validity and reliability.
*Valid and reliable laws that govern decision making enable effective problem solving involving critical evaluation and creative solutions.
This overarching theory has to do with the dimensions of mind which impacts all the prior theories. This theory is attributed to Psychiatrist Lawrence Kubie MD. Kubie’s work is unique in the literature on psychiatric theory since he applied it to education. His writings provide the context for all the developmental theories that are applied in the processes and structures of the school, especially in early education.
a) The focus of all the developmental theories deals with cognitive processes and outcomes related essentially to the conscious dimension of mind. Without consideration of the pre-conscious and the unconscious dimensions, the processes and outcomes of the conscious cognitive dimension are not fully understood.
b) The pre-conscious is considered the central processing unit of the dimensions of mind. It receives input from the senses and combines and re-combines this information with memories of past data and relays some of the results to consciousness where it is organized and attached with language used to communicate the outcomes.
c) The pre-conscious is considered an intuitive subliminal processor that automatically receives and responds to experiential information, the beginning of the processes of learning. Awareness of this information is conditioned by the levels of development that emerge according to a timetable programmed in a genetic code, unique to everyone.
d) Both the conscious dimension and the pre-conscious are influenced, if not controlled, by the unconscious dimension.
e) The unconscious dimension contains the residue of past experiences, the details of which have been forgotten but distilled to form attitudes, beliefs, values and orientations, the unique biases each person displays in everyday transactions.
F) The unconscious manifestations of attitudes, beliefs, values and orientations, the elements of personality, are projected onto all new experiences, shaping them to conform to whatever pattern of response has been acquired or constructed over time.
g) Attitudes can be positive or negative, beliefs are those positions taken that can be supported in fact or fiction, values are those things in life we each hold dear to ourselves, and our personal orientations can be flexible or rigid.
h) A rigid pattern of response is a major problem for learning, thus for education. Since it has its origins in the unconscious dimension it is repetitive until it is challenged by the owner of the pattern. Education can play a role in facilitating this change but to date has not met this challenge and instead has reinforced the behaviors that reward rigidity. This is having serious consequences for mental health, conflict resolution and productive problem solving.
I) Behaviorism as a philosophy of learning and development has capitalized upon the lessons of Thorndike’s and Watsons’s animal studies of the early twentieth century, taking over many dimensions of life with the features of animal training programs or instructional procedures and standardized tests that ignore individual human differences and sound learning theory.
j) Awareness of the significance of understanding individual differences, enhanced by understanding the theories discussed herein, unless used within a mature, fully functioning group, the impact will be limited. Every group of learners will require group dynamics that moves from a level of dependence to independence to interdependence. This guarantees cooperation rather than unchecked competition. It ensures a fruitful communication with peers that is honest and open and growth producing.
a) Behaviorism took over the processes of education with the “No Child Left Behind” legislation of 2001. An arbitrary body of content to be taught was established, known as the common core, and standardized tests were designed to measure recall of that content after instruction or training has occurred.
b) Training and formal instruction deals with lower-level learning, a stimulus and response activity with shallow language attached. It does not respond to developmental differences in learners nor the pre-conscious and unconscious dimensions of mind. It ignores full development of cognitive, affective, and psyho-motor dimensions.
c) These deficiencies in training and instruction account for the fact that individuals can receive extensive training and formal instruction but fail to change established attitudes, beliefs, values or orientations. Personality traits remain unchanged and problem-solving abilities remain underdeveloped after training unless the individual takes action to make the changes in their unique response patterns.
d) Self-understanding, a main goal of education, would reveal the consequences of unconscious motivations, but it is ignored. Consequently, unconscious motivations based on rigid personality traits remain repetitive.
e) As Lawrence Kubie stated: Again, we must ask, “…does the educative process, even at its current best, tend to reinforce the neurotic process? I believe that it has precisely this effect, and primarily through the misuse of the techniques of repetitive drill. “…repetitive drill makes imperfect at least as frequently (and probably far more frequently) than it makes perfect.”
“…. education will continue to perpetuate a fraud on culture until it accepts the full implications of the fact that the free creative velocity of our thinking apparatus is continually being braked and driven off course by the play of unconscious forces. Educational procedures which fail to recognize this end up by increasing the interference from latent and unrecognized neurotic/rigid forces - emphasis added).
“It has long been known that in early years children have an extraordinarily inventive imagination, transposing experience freely among the various sensory modalities, using delightful and original figures of speech and allegory.”
“What happens to this poetic gift under the stultifying impact of that which we call our educational system?”
“What happens to the free play of pre-conscious functions in the course of conventional education?”
“My unhappy conviction is that much of the learning which has traditionally been looked upon as an essential attribute of the educated man (or woman – emphasis added) has no necessary relevance either to creativity or to maturity, and that instead many ingredients in the process by which men become learned tend actively to obstruct them both.”
Our knowledge of the external world and our ability to represent the world as it is or as we would like it to be has grown enormously, but our ability to meet wisely the challenge of how to be human beings has not developed equally.”
“… education without self-knowledge can never mean wisdom or maturity; …self-knowledge in depth is a process which like education itself is never complete. It is a point on a continuous and never-ending journey. Without self-knowledge we can have no adults, but only aging children who are armed with words, and paint and clay and atomic weapons, none of which they [fully] understand.”
“Self-knowledge is not all there is to wisdom and maturity; but it is an essential ingredient which makes maturity at least possible. Yet it is the one ingredient which is almost totally neglected. This lack is both an index and a cause of the immaturity of our culture.”
“The failure of education to make it possible for Man (and Woman) to change is due to a specific component in human nature: to wit, that psychological rigidity which is the most basic and most universal expression of the neurotic process…”
CARES is compatible with the foregoing models of human development and behavior. It utilizes each model during its implementation.
What criteria apply when evaluating the emerging individualized CARE’s records of learners with developmental capabilities at or above concrete/logical operations? (Piaget)
#1. Clarity and Organization: The record and all its sub-parts are to be logically arranged with a brief explanation for the basis of the organization, with definitions for each folder, file or classification, written with correct spelling, grammar, sentence structure etc. All written statements and visual representations (example – charts, graphs, models, etc.) must ultimately be error-free regarding formal language usage – spelling, grammar, sentence structure, etc.
#2. . Accuracy or Plausibility: Explanations, whether they come from the learner or from authors on the internet, from books, etc. must be verified as accurate, or at the very least, plausible as determined through logical analysis.
#3 Comprehensiveness: Inclusion of materials must be representative of the total possible items (the parts of each system) that fall within its scope. (Note: systemic parts and interrelationships include all ways of knowing and realms of meaning that engage life in all its manifestations, for example, the field of mathematics, the sciences, arts, history, geography, ethics, and self-knowledge.)
#4 Support from Personal Experience: All explanations and statements of beliefs must be supported as much as possible by, and/or derived from, personal experience.
#5 Support from Others’ Experiences: Support for personal beliefs wherever possible must be supported by others, especially those of experts drawn from scholarly literature.
#6 Intra-File Consistency: Each file must contain ideas, propositions, etc. that are found to be internally consistent (non-contradictory). Any possible inconsistencies must be identified.
#7 Inter-File Consistency: Materials contained in each file should not be conflicting with the contents of other files without identifying the possible conflicts that inhibit integration.
#8 Generativity: Hypotheses untested, ideas in process, and creative solutions must be identified.
Younger learners with pre-logical intellects are to engage in explorations of as many real life situations, objects and events, as possible, so as to have knowledge to react to with creative and imaginative responses. The evidence of those experiences and the reactions are recorded in the electronic folders for use at the time of their creation during a pre-logical stage, and later when logical abilities emerge, developmentally.
j) Analyses of the personal records of learners will yield judgments at four levels appropriate to the developmental capabilities of each learner: mastered, competent, needs work or inadequate. Judgments are based on the analysis of each system that is contained in the record.
Mastery at the levels of concrete and formal operations is defined as the ability to differentiate/conceptualize the parts of a system, create an integration or synthesis of the parts, illustrate the synthesis by constructing models – iconic that look like the subject of inquiry, symbolic that represent the subject but do not look like it or analogies that can either be iconic or symbolic, anticipate the consequences of change within the system, freely compare and contrast the system with formulations created by others and modify and utilize the system to effectively interpret and solve problems. Mastery at the pre-operational or pre-logical levels is judged with deference to the uniqueness of the responses to experience and the existence of restrictive behavior that prevents full development.
What equipment and supporting technologies, materials and services are required for implementation of the CARES Model?
Storing and displaying input data is enhanced with a variety of existing electronic devices such as tablets, laptops, cell phones etc.
The software would be assigned to individual accounts with connections to a master computer for storing the record of experiences, enhanced as inquiry proceeds consistent with the CARES protocols.
Access to ample art supplies and basic scientific equipment are required that supports inquiry into the manifestations of life.
On-demand access to primary information, especially pertaining to the learner’s immediate environment, and quality secondary sources including fiction and non-fiction are required.
As learners record their experiences the evidence are scanned or otherwise inputted into the record requiring access to scanning, word processing and duplication equipment.
Hands-on experiences are necessary for meaningful inquiry; there is therefore needs for getting learners out into the world, frequently. Standardized tests and costly standardized tests will be eliminated from the budget, these funds to be shifted to the field trip requirements for hands-on learning.
How will it affect the lives of students and teachers?
Teachers will be able to interact authentically with developing youngsters under their care with realistic expectations that are shaped by the developmental characteristics of individuals.
No longer will it be necessary to pretend to be experts in fields of inquiry, expected to somehow transfer their wisdom to students. Teachers, having experienced life during more years than their charges and having studied the foundations of education, are able to become fellow learners with their students making inquiry the centerpiece of their shared activities.
The results of learning will be made available through the extensive record that is maintained by each learner with the help of teacher/facilitators. Continuity will be maintained within individuals as learning experiences are recorded and added to the record.
Learners will be personally involved in helping to shape learning activities with a freedom to arrive at unique interpretations. Through a cooperative group setting, each learner will have ample time to develop unique thoughts, express them in their own language and seek input from others that will lead to refinements and elaborations. Intrinsic rewards will result from these meaningful experiences that will stimulate a lasting motivation to learn.
We have learned the hard lesson that a change in the way we assess and evaluate learning changes the whole system of education, for better or worse.
We shouldn’t be hoodwinked into believing that standardized tests are the best and only way to assess and evaluate what students have learned, when there are far better ways available, today.
For example: (The Constructive Assessment, Recordkeeping and Evaluation System- CARES)
Simple ideas are often the best ideas and the CARES Model, an individualized assessment and evaluation strategy, is just such an idea that has undergone extensive development over many years, by educators.
Systems design and systems analysis are the two simple ideas that will replace the standardized testing frenzy. (Bela Banathy)
We all have heard of systems but often know little substantively about them, whether it’s the solar system, the digestive system, the braking system on our cars or the public school system. Being instructed in information about systems is not the same as engaging in systems design through active inquiry. According to Webster, a system is a set of parts that form a unitary whole; sets of interrelated parts are recognized as having a boundary that separates one set or system from another. Each system can be viewed as related to other systems or as sub-systems of larger systems.
Systems thinking consolidates the complexities of life into manageable units by bringing together isolated bits of information into unitary wholes that make effective problem solving possible. Systems thinking leads to the development of maturity and wisdom, building upon the uniqueness of individuals, developing sensitivity to the need for compassion and shared understandings.
When we think about systems, we take note of the parts and their relationships that make sense to us. We understand the parts and their relationships are needed to solve problems. When we design systems, we select some parts and form them into a unit. When the system doesn’t work, we analyze which parts are not functioning well within the set of parts that form the system.
A systems-oriented learning process is enhanced with a diary constructed during the school day that can be added-to during other times when thoughts and activities occur that are important to be remembered; a record maintained as part of a process of mastering the skills and abilities needed in life. Picture an authentic, detailed record that provides the basis for assessing and evaluating learning, maintained by learners under the patient eye of adult facilitators. This is the essence of the CARES Model: The Constructive Assessment, Recordkeeping and Evaluation System.
A process-oriented learning strategy and a compatible system of assessment and evaluation of learning-outcomes begins by collecting the evidences of learning as they occur, starting in early childhood - the art work, dramatizations, the interactions, movements, explorations, joys and challenges, and continues to build upon that foundation as each learner develops maturity in the capabilities for logic and logical construction of meanings about life that are gleaned from personal experiences and those shared with others.
The CARES record is organized, stored and maintained in computer systems with instant availability. It offers the opportunity to re-examine at any time the experiences, thoughts and actions that occurred in the past, organized as systems, and made available for reference whenever the need arises; a record that travels with the learner to be shared with others.
Think of a system of assessment and evaluation that is consistent with the processes of systems design, the putting together of parts into unitary wholes in any and all fields of inquiry. Each discipline whether mathematics or chemistry or history or geography, (among six realms of meaning – Philip Phenix) are considered systems containing processes of inquiry with strategies for communication of the results from inquiry, each providing guidance for achieving mastery.
Think of a system of assessment and evaluation called systems analysis that renders an authentic evaluation of each systems-oriented personal record of learning.
Providing guidance for developing competency is based on a process of language development that occurs in an invariant sequence starting with automatic reactions to experiences, then matures to iconic or graphic visual representations of the after images of those experiences and finally arrives at representations that convey meaning through symbols including words, sentences, paragraphs and poetry etc. (Bruner) Note: The language of signs simply denote their objects, and they sound the same as the language of symbols.)
A record managed by the learner with assistance from adults is much more than a random collection of information, it’s an organized and computerized record that contains descriptions of all the important events that occurred in the course of learning about life, in all its manifestations, and what was done with those experiences, displayed as systems that maximize their value as a primary source of information important for developing self-understanding. The record displays the integration of information each learner has conceptualized, instantly available through the uses of modern technology.
An introduction to the CARES Model, an approach to assessment and evaluation that takes the place of standardized testing, is available to aid in understanding the system. Personnel in every school system and concerned citizens who recognize the need for an individualized system for assessment and evaluation of learning will find this information useful. Here is a chance to adopt a process-oriented strategy for assessment and evaluation that will counter the devastation caused by standardized testing and an outcomes-based curriculum.
Explore the CARES Model and take it to the Board of Education and other decision-makers, urge them to review its processes and expected outcomes. Insist on a change in the assessment and evaluation systems in our schools based on this field-developed strategy for improving learning outcomes.
CARES will significantly reduce spending while increasing the professional standing of today’s educators and stimulate the development of competencies among all students seldom if ever witnessed in today’s schools. It will rescue our public schools from the clutches of big business interests. Don’t be surprised if business interests are not accepting of the CARES Model, since it challenges the lucrative profits from the development and publishing of tests and canned instructional materials.
Facilities and Utilization Patterns:
a) Architects who designed school buildings in the late 1960’s, when money was made available under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, tried to capture the spirit of revolution that was being expressed as open education. They designed buildings with flexible space for flexible learning activities.
b) Little did they realize the extent of commitment among educators for private spaces/classrooms in which they could conduct instruction. The open spaces were soon walled off with cardboard boxes and filing cabinets thus creating a private space that didn’t isolate the sounds of activities next door. An unhappy bunch of teachers was the result.
c) Since construction of these open spaces, teachers have permanently walled off their classrooms, looking much like the egg crate construction of school classrooms of the past.
d) I supervised student teachers in the maze constructed out of the boxes and cabinets and it took days to locate some of my students for a conference.
e) Clearly, there will always be a need for spaces designed for dispensing and receiving information, but in a plan such as this one that features active inquiry, the learning center must maintain various spaces the are custom designed to maximize learning in which the learners are involved in their planning and direction as well as in its activities.
f) Learners would infrequently attend lecture sessions but would more likely freely explore with facilitation from adults, with access to the latest technical equipment for communication, data access, data storage and data manipulation capabilities.
a) Public schools have remained a central focal point for the community it serves. Many attract attendance for athletic events but seldom learning events, especially events that involve the lay public. Clearly, if a community center is designed to involve the community members, community involvement will be encouraged and sustained to be involved in inquiry with young learners.
b) Given requirements for student learning, the school could become the learning center for the entire community, capitalizing upon the reservoir of talent, especially among the retired community, that could greatly enhance the learning opportunities of everyone.
c) A community center has recently been proposed but is incompatible with departmentalized and compartmentalized organizations that require formal instructional settings.
d) Such a center is compatible with this system, required for maximizing its success.
Community Involvement and Support Services
There are different types of community involvement within the schools. One is voluntary, another is contracted services and a third comes in the form of consultants. Support services also include members of the professional staff, such as guidance counselors, nurses, doctors, and school psychologists, and occasional outside consultants. Each are expected to enhance the health and welfare of students in their pursuit of a satisfactory educational experience.
a) While there are many potential volunteers, within the community at large, relatively few are ever called upon. This will likely remain an underdeveloped resource if a prescribed curriculum is mandated from above, along with standardized assessment and evaluation requirements that allow little deviation from their plan.
Teachers have little control over these mandates so inviting others in is not a viable option, even when teachers desire to make that move. They are left in isolation from community resources, and often alienated from parents and guardians.
b) One of the best examples of contract services that seems to function effectively is speech therapy. Therapists are knowledgeable about speech difficulties and have acquired the techniques for addressing them to the extent possible within the formalized educational setting geared to instruction and testing. Their orientation is focused on helping the individual student, having many positive influences on their success in their academic programs.
c) While guidance counselors are staff members within the school, they function as service providers designed to assist the students throughout their school experiences. These services range from occasional counseling about plans, but their main focus has become one of coordinating the testing procedures and assembling and publishing the statistics. Helping students select further education or training programs after graduation from high school is often a major service to students along with finding financial aid sufficient to meet the high costs of college. Use of the term guidance counselor does not adequately reflect the actual role of this provider who is an administrator responsible for manipulation of student data required by the system’s leadership. This would be a more appropriate description.
d) Many psychologists, in support of a standardized curriculum, have assumed the role of ensuring that students who are finding it difficult to conform to the rules of the system find ways to conform and fit in to project a resolution of their deviant behavior. Many school psychologists today have adopted behaviorist psychology that focuses on changing student behavior to at least an appearance of conformity through behavior modification techniques.
e) These techniques do not acknowledge developmental concepts and the existence of developmentally inappropriate instruction as the major source of the problems. It’s my belief that today’s preparation programs for school psychologists have adopted behaviorist concepts throughout their training, consistent with the standardization movement.
f) A service provider mainly for teachers and staff is a technology/computer specialist who is there to facilitate the uses of modern computers and computerized instructional programs. The needs for on-line instruction during the pandemic has highlighted the deficiencies of this medium as the main delivery system for instruction in content.
g) This medium is often erroneously referred to as remote learning. Instruction is the correct term for the system delivered electronically. Whether it results in learning is another matter to be determined upon examination of outcomes.
h) Recall of information is the main evidence of learning from instruction in this age of behaviorism. That falls woefully short of revealing the full dimensions of learning, especially higher levels of learning, namely analysis, synthesis and critical evaluation.
I) So-called outside authorities in current circles are often hired as guest speakers on superintendent’s days, costing exorbitant fees with little or no return on the investment.
a) Labeling interchangeably the delivery of remote information through electronics as either remote learning or remote instruction indicates a serious deficiency, conceptually, regarding a validated learning model such as the one described herein by Robert Gagne. There is an apparent lack of differentiation between the two concepts, likely due to a lack of grounding in learning theories that are consistent with developmental realities.
b) Students are bombarded with instruction in the bits and pieces of selected information, but their learning as reported in the recent national report card shows failures for 75% of students 4 through the 8th grade in English and Mathematics. It is my belief this is due to developmentally inappropriate instruction for these students and a lack of understanding of the nature of learning as described in reputable literature.
Information management and Communication Technology:
My initial implementation of the Discovery Approach to the Teaching of Social Studies, that featured the methods and materials of history and geography as disciplines, had many important primary source documents supplied by our history consultant. He had photocopied many of the documents he had used in constructing his doctoral dissertation.
Together with my class of seventh graders, we supplemented his collection with those we discovered in our research. With the availability of these documents, we completed the development of a detailed narrative of the history and geography of the county of residence for the class that demonstrated exceptional achievement of higher level thinking seldom found in conventional education. This program was developed in the late nineteen fifties.
This approach became the basis for numerous attempts at implementation in public schools in several states along with promotions that included conference demonstrations, writings, and consultancies. The approach received the endorsement of state and national historical societies with foundation and government funding. The approach was reviewed at major universities and received enthusiastic support.
If workshop activities stayed within New York State, we had available primary source documents that were used to present/engage the approach with teachers in numerous schools. Outside of NYS was soon discovered a problem.
a) The first major effort to implement the approach occurred in Reidesville, North Carolina’s public schools. Documents that exist in various repositories within this and other states were sought after for photocopying as had been accomplished in New York State. This process was time consuming and costly.
b) In the late nineteen sixties and early seventies there were bountiful financial resources available from the federal government that were tapped into to try to solve the problem of finding and copying documents for use in the classrooms of Reidesville City Schools.
c) We found that black and white microfilm was used for storage of documents, accessed with cumbersome readers. The difficulties of this medium as a source for use in classrooms began with the quality of the images. Microfillm notoriously provided a sub-standard image quality, making this medium useless. Additionally, the readers were large and cumbersome to use and displayed a very poor image on its screen.
d) We began experimenting with color filmstrips on 35mm film to be projected with projectors already available in classrooms. Filmstrips were a well used medium but did not lend itself to computerization which was emerging in schools at the time.
e) This prompted experimentation with half-frame 35mm images mounted in an aperture card that could be data punched for mechanical sorting and retrieval. Projectors could be adapted to project the information on each card.
These images were shot on an animation stand with a Belle and Howell camera that was used in the Disney productions of an earlier era. The quality of the images met much higher standards, in fact at that juncture they exceeded the pixel standards of images across a variety of digital media.
f) Introducing this change required considerable investment in equipment and expertise that led to discounting its usefulness in making historical and geographical data available in the classroom.
g) Determined to find a solution to storage and accessing technologies for uses of ultra-high definition color images on film led to extensive experimentation with color microfiche. These images were shot on special cameras using films and processing technologies from Kodak and Japanese films.
h) Having assembled a huge quantity of documents from a variety of sources, including government agencies, we set about photographing sets of microfiche that contained as many as nine hundred images on one fiche.
I) This effort was funded by a large government small business loan that established an R and D enterprise under the title Tru-Vu International, Inc. Data researchers and camera operators were hired to produce classroom ready documents for use in public schools.
j) There was still a need for a modern projection system that needed inventing. That corporation under my direction designed and patented a computerized projection system that was compatible with existing computer systems employed in schools.
k) In spite of all these innovations there still existed resistance to inquiry in the classroom due to the standardized curriculum and mandated procedures.
l) Expecting to make headway as a fledgling business, the emergence of digital technology was looming in the background, and it ultimately took over the imaging fields with phenomenal image quality and computerized storage and accessing capabilities.
This spelled the death of film technologies. We did a comparison study between digital and film image quality at the time and demonstrated film’s superiority, but the digital mania had already taken over and Tru-Vu went out of business.
j) Hundreds of color microfiche containing data from worldwide sources were available for marketing but without customers.
The emergence of digital innovations did not solve the problem of availability of historical and geographical data for use in the classrooms, especially data that pertains to local environments. Those data produced for commercial profits do not have a sufficient customer base, so that resource has not been developed.
My ancestral lineage enables my eligibility to join the organization: The Sons of the American Revolution. As a member of like-minded persons with similar backgrounds in an important event in our history, I thought this group might be persuaded to join the effort to get historical and geographical inquiry into the public-school curriculum.
Under the banner, America’s Past Through the Eyes of Local History, a project was launched as a prototype involving three contiguous counties in northeastern New York State. The sponsoring organization was the Valcour Battle Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.
a) History and geography as disciplines are considered synoptic, that is, they provide an overview of happenings that includes a wide range of variables that represent what life was like in times past. As synoptic disciplines they bring together the authenticated facts and form them into a comprehensive narrative, a system, that attempts to depict life in all its manifestations.
The synoptic disciplines unlike the specialties like botany or geology, focus on logically related events reflecting life’s situations. They play an important role in the curricular experiences of the school since they have the orientation to seek out the facts and their relationships concerning human events, thus integrating findings from all the specialty disciplines within the six realms of meaning.
b) The first step was to form an education committee composed of five members, the president and a past president both retired educators, the registrar of the chapter who was the ancestry researcher, a member at large and me. We set about reviewing the research and literature that defined the rationale for the project along with an identification of the scope and sequence of the plan.
c) I had developed over the years a close relationship with a school system in Clinton County that had participated in the research on Piaget. A principal of an elementary school expressed an interest in the plan and volunteered three of his fifth-grade teachers to participate. Two were regular classroom teachers with an excellent reputation and another a special education teacher at the same grade level.
d) The Chapter’s Educational Committee had developed two handbooks, one for teachers that outlined the rationale and review of the literature that spelled out their roles and responsibilities. The other handbook was for students, providing them with directions for historical research that included how to do ancestral research and historical and geographical research of the community in which the school was located and its surrounding area.
e) The handbooks were displayed on a website entitled; www.americaspastthroughtheeyesoflocalhistory.com made available for the teachers and students on line to be used during in-service seminars and with students needing direction in their research.
f) A second website was developed entitled: www.dataforamericaspastthroughlocalhistory.com full of historical and geographical information including many primary sources and reputable secondary sources for the three county area and important state and national evens and persons for a period from their inception through the Civil War. This website was designed around the four features of that area and other areas throughout the world, the natural and manmade physical features, the social/cultural characteristics of its inhabitants, the economic and the political structures and processes.
g) I was born in Franklin County, lived in Essex County, and worked in Clinton County so I was familiar with the location of resources and persons who could contribute to our plan.
h) We began with a series of seminars/workshops with the teachers to introduce them to the handbooks and begin to assist them in ways to engage students in history and geography of the local area.
I) The first seminar focused on ancestry research for students. Permission was obtained to involve students in potentially troublesome family information, and we received unanimous endorsements.
J) The students, teachers and their parents and families reportedly became enthusiastically involved in ancestral research. This was so successful as a project that involved not only the teachers and the students but many members of the community, we decided to hold a family night and invite family members to an exposition of what each of their children had worked on. A night was set aside for the exposition in the gymnasium and displays were set up in advance of a capacity crowd. The superintendent was in attendance along with the press and everyone went home satisfied this project was a huge success.
k) This segment of the project was to involve students in the process of researching their ancestors using techniques and data bases available for this purpose. What we found was parents did most of the research before or during the period of this activity and helped prepare that information for the display. In other words, the adults once again did the work for the students and they mostly reaped the rewards.
l) We had anticipated the ancestral research would stimulate motivation to investigate the broader history and geography of the region. This connection did not occur. The ancestral study was treated as a separate “unit plan” that fit with the other curricular units in its place within the curriculum.
The upcoming unit on the broader history and geography was another matter, far more complicated than ancestral research. It would not produce instant gratification since it required longer periods of time and effort to produce a working model of the community that would provide the student with internal satisfaction. Nothing in their usual programming would compare with what was required of this part of the plan.
m) Furthermore, students are accustomed to instruction in separate subjects, some of which were included in this plan, but they never were required to seek out the relationships between the units to form a system. Keeping a daily journal was also beyond their experiences for keeping track of their activities so this requirement was never fully realized.
n) It was concluded that the ancestral segment could easily become part of the standard curriculum composed of separate units, but as long as a standardized curriculum of separate subjects was mandated, an inquiry-oriented plan that promotes an integration of subject matter could not survive. In fact, it was determined to be unfair to even expect the teachers to fully embrace this plan since it could jeopardize their professional reputation and peace of mind.
o) It was determined to not pursue a second year of experimentation with the broader history and geography, but the ancestral research portion would remain a viable option. The teachers picked out bits and pieces of the experience for use in the second year but that did not resemble what we had envisioned.
It’s abundantly clear, based on this experience and others, as long as the hierarchical organization of schools remains in force, decision making at the local level will remain subservient and limited to what has been demanded by the higher-ups. Ideas researched and documented will never survive in such an environment and progress will remain in stalemate.
The education of teachers will require a reconstruction that reflects validated and reliable theories about the individual, groups, and the curriculum, structured around systems thinking. This is not an impossible task but a daunting challenge, given the rigid mind sets of educators and their ardent supporters.
From a broadened view of this project there are points that need to be reiterated here:
a) The goal of this new system of schooling is to facilitate self-understanding with all students in personal pursuit of meaning in their lives, focused on all its manifestations, region by region across the universe, beginning with the study of the local region familiar to each learner.
b) The most useful tools of learning about self and the universe are included in the academic disciplines as ways of creating and communicating knowledge. These tools are used to reveal insights already formulated and will reveal the methods and materials for creating new insights from various points of view called realms of meaning.
c) Utilization of the disciplines in developmentally appropriate ways during cooperative group processes will require the simultaneous refinement of the skills of communication, reading, writing, computer language and mathematics.
Instead of offering formal instruction in anticipation of their usefulness sometime in the future, these skills will be confronted when they become required in the context of inquiry, reflected in the daily diary of experiences.
d) These activities will promote learning how to learn, consistent with the creative tools of the disciplines and the skills of communication.
e) The information needs required for inquiry are specific to each realm of meaning dedicated to revealing matters relating to aspects of life in all its manifestations.
f) Based on reputable learning theory, learning starts from personal experience with the manifestations of life, beginning with direct in-depth engagement with concrete and immediate surroundings. This is a missing link in curricular offerings within the present curriculum due in large part to a lack of grounding in learning theory that specifies the need for direct and purposeful experiences.
g) Without this in-depth experience that develops a frame of reference utilized in later considerations of more remote places and times, what can be known about more distant times and places is significantly diminished.
h) Introducing the methods and materials of disciplines with young children begins with a study of life in their world, along with its history and geography which deals with real life situations in times past that can be related meaningfully to the present. It is introduced when formal schooling begins and continues seamlessly throughout the development for pre-operational through formal operational capacities in each learner.
I) Introduced at these early years before rigid lifestyles are developed provides the opportunity to maintain flexible orientations with life with more flexible attitudes and beliefs that are based on facts and firsthand observations, and values that show appreciation and respect for the differences in humans across this land and beyond.
j) The current relationships between current social unrest and the lack of flexibility in the application of values is apparent and must be addressed for improvements in the future.
This prototype project initiated with fifth grade students in the study of local history and geography revealed the needs for technology and information management.
a) The lack of accessible primary and reputable secondary documents for the local regions of this nation remains a major obstacle to meaningful change.
b) Computerized technology has advanced at warp speed, but its utilization is geared to a severely limited behaviorist theory of learning. This encourages the use of instruction with packaged units of study that are mainly isolated one from another.
c) Each discipline has raw materials from which meaning is constructed according to the rules of inquiry within each realm of meaning. The example in history and geography illustrates this need.
d) How data is organized for continuous use in these disciplines is an important consideration. The website that contains the raw data in our example shows how the information is organized for inquiry and how it is accessed in response to on-going needs that emerge in the study of local history and geography.
e) If this information is unavailable, the process cannot be fulfilled. An effort is needed to identify and organize the information for every county or parish across this country and made available online to classrooms.
f) We attempted to encourage the National Headquarters of the Sons of the American Revolution to take on this task instead of spending their money on the development of a museum remote from the schools and students who need the information. Our request landed on deaf ears. There must be other organizations that could take on this task.
g) The storage, accessing, manipulation of data and the output from inquiry is accommodated by present technology that will continue to improve. It needs to be adapted for use in inquiry that requires primary source data, unique to each discipline, readily available for use in the construction of systems of meaning.
h) The needs for this technology in record keeping cannot be minimized. Without a record of experiences learners will not be able to keep track of the events that occur as inquiry proceeds. The construction of models requires time and without a record much vital information will be lost.
I) Furthermore, the daily record written in the language of the learner refines their skills of language. This will be seriously diminished without the record of experiences.
Pre-service and In-service Demonstration Sites
To make up for lost ground, we will need to bring to bear extraordinary resources to the problem, to catch up with what is known that can be validated in our experiences and in those who have conducted reputable research regarding individuals and how they develop and learn, how communication and small group development occurs, about the knowledge disciplines cataloged within six realms of meaning and how systems thinking will be used as a process of learning and as assessment and evaluation strategies compatible with the other topics.
For those who for whatever reason are not up to date regarding these matters, affecting an understanding of the need for change and its preferred direction will remain a formidable challenge.
Consistent with the need for direct and purposeful experiences in learning and change, it will be necessary for educators and the lay public to have available.
early education demonstration sites available for observation and in the case of facilitators a place to participate to establish a new set of assumptions, beliefs, and orientations.
This proposed new system is for the future. It’s designed to correct the ills of current educational practices. Since the damage has already been done, what can be accomplished now that the horse is out of the barn is limited in its options. It may be impossible to affect any long-range changes that can adequately meet the needs of this conflict-ridden society since current systems are held in high esteem, protected from criticism like the sacred cow. For the true believers in current practices, here is a quote worth contemplating.
Psychiatrist Lawrence Kubie MD made this observation sixty years ago:
“It has long been known that in early years children have an extraordinarily inventive imagination, transposing experience freely among the various sensory modalities, using delightful and original figures of speech and allegory.”
“What happens to this poetic gift under the stultifying impact of that which we call our educational system?”
“What happens to the free play of pre-conscious (creative) functions in the course of conventional education?”
“My unhappy conviction is that much of the learning which has traditionally been looked upon as an essential attribute of the educated man (or woman – emphasis added) has no necessary relevance either to creativity or to maturity, and that instead many ingredients in the process by which men (and women) become learned tend actively to obstruct them both.”
What was observed then is even a greater problem today with stultifying educational practices being pushed down into the pre-kindergarten years where nearly all students are pre-operational/pre-logical, not yet logical due to genetic differences and experiences that impact learning for better or worse. That move is for the worse.
Nothing short of a systemic change will address the ills of our educational system. This must start with a commitment to the essential goal, namely, to develop an eye for the whole chessboard, for the bearing of one set of ideas on another. This goal is reached in the study of life in all its manifestations, the only legitimate curriculum for the school. (Whitehead)
a) The creative elements found in academic disciplines contain the tools for extracting/constructing meaning from life’s manifestations that includes acquiring self-knowledge and self-understanding.
b) Extracting/constructing meaning is enhanced by organizational designs and practices that promote individual and collective maturity.
c) A systemic design constructed with these ideas in mind will hopefully emerge in time to fully address needs some time in the future. In the meantime, we must deal with current problems as best we can and pray it’s not too late to change.
d) The first step for affecting change is to establish an updated foundation based on the theories of the four elements identified in Chapter I in this text.
The individual student:
Elements of this plan are to be initiated in the early years of schooling before rigid orientations have become adopted as a way life, when personalities are being formed, molded by experiences that hopefully do not run counter to the realities of human growth and development. Knowing how to recognize capabilities for logical thinking in young students is pivotal for facilitating the processes of their learning, assuming an understanding exists derived from a legitimate learning theory.
During a period between 1973 and 2003, students enrolled in my educational foundation seminars fanned out into local school districts to gather information about the intellectual development of students, kindergarten through the sixth grade. They each were provided a packet of tests with instructions for how to conduct their research.
Included in the packet were three “conservation experiments” representing three levels of complexity from concrete to abstract that reveal pre-operational, concrete operational and formal operational thinking. Piaget used these and other similar ones in his research that were found valid through a replication study conducted at Teachers College Columbia University. This author participated in that study.
Students were found to reach the cognitive stages of logical development driven by a genetic code unique to each person. The percentage of students at Piagetian stages is illustrated here, adapted from the work of Joyce L. Epstein, PhD. 1980, validated by data of several decades earlier in the research of this author.
Each grade level and age category show the variability of developmental capabilities for logic that is vital to learning. For example:
Students in the fifth grade, age ten, are found to be at four different levels. 12% were pre-logical, 52% were inconsistently logical (sometimes logical and other times illogical) regarding concrete experiences, 35% were consistently logical when confronted with concrete or direct experiences, 1% could begin to deal logically with abstract experiences but not abstract or hypothetical information such as what appears on a standardized test.
The consequences of a steady diet of abstract, developmentally inappropriate classroom experiences offered ten-year-old students, as with other ages of the elementary and middles school population, is accumulative and its impact is realized in social/emotional maladies and faulty judgments that are manifested in their unconscious behaviors.
Here is a summary of Joyce Epsteins research that shows the approximate distribution of capacities for logical thinking at each age and grade level.
Age Grade Motor Sensory Preoperational Concrete Operational Formal Operational
Onset Mature Onset Mature
(%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%)
4 PreK 45 50 5
5 Kdg 85 15
6 1st 60 35 5
7 2nd 35 55 10
8 3rd 25 55 20
9 4th 15 55 30
10 5th 12 52 35 1
11 6th 6 49 40 5
12 7th 5 32 51 12
13 8th 2 34 44 14 6
14 9th 1 32 43 15 9
Every facilitator of learning must be prepared to recognize the capacities for logic, as defined by Piaget and others, being utilized by each student in a variety of ways and must use this information as a guide to choose developmentally appropriate educational experiences with each learner. This includes information that correlates with Piaget’s formulations relating to children’s drawings, their judgments during independent and social activities, and language usage influenced and tempered by a unique experiential background.
This formula holds for all age groups exhibiting differing levels of logical
capacity, and during all curricular activities that are focused on life, found in life’s manifestations in local surroundings readily available for study.
The information derived about developmental capacities will be matched with developmentally appropriate experiences guided by the creative processes of the disciplines. The results of those processes engaged, and their outcomes will be displayed in the student's computerized record according to the protocols of the CARES System.
Elementary and middle school level students will investigate aspects of life as it occurs and has occurred in the local surroundings and develop an in-depth frame of reference that transfers to the understanding of other peoples, places and times. As inquiry proceeds this teaches the student how to learn.
This begins with the use of the “synoptic disciplines” that seek an integration of all ways of knowing in formulating a comprehensive view of the natural/physical features, the social/cultural characteristics, and the economic and political structures and processes in familiar surroundings.
This activity takes place within a small group setting that operates within the rules of conduct researched by members of the National Training Laboratory of Bethel, Maine.
The salient concepts concerning communication and group processes, especially group development follows:
a) Classroom instruction is based on erroneous assumptions that communication between two or more individuals can transfer information from one to the other in the exact form, with its exact meaning, if clearly stated and reinforced with repetition. In fact, the assessment strategies penalize the student if an exact interpretation is not given, and rewards are given when they do.
b) This is consistent with instruction expected to transfer intact the contents of the “common core” and to test for recall with a standardized test that features one correct answer for every question. Improvements in the scores of correct answers gives the illusion that learning has occurred, defined in behaviorist terms.
c) Since there are always differences between what is sent and what is received, students each have their own views that often are denied, and they are left with feelings of rejection. For those who respond “correctly” to the messages, they are provided a false security they often fail to realize.
The message is clear, a facilitator of learning must provide the time necessary for an exchange of the meanings to be clarified, requiring non-judgmental communication and probing dialogue that encourages understanding and a sense of appreciation for each as a unique person in the transaction.
These rules of conduct hold throughout all activities involving students either alone or in groups. There are also factors to be considered:
An individual’s level of intellectual development
Level, type, quality, and quantity of experience
Quality of the social context
Energy level, need and motivation.
The quality of communication between two or more persons is greatly enhanced/facilitated with increased awareness of who each participant is, deliberately shared.
The goal of group development is to improve communication. If the group does not support the differences among individual students, the quality of communication will remain low. Group development is aimed at maximizing the satisfaction in communication transactions, thus contributing to productive work experience within the group setting. Both individual and group productivity is enhanced by this process.
When a group of students are first assembled, they are dependent upon the appointed leader to define the purposes and procedures of the upcoming group experiences. This dependency remains with group members if the leader does not encourage active participation in negotiations and independent expressions of needs and aspirations.
If this level of dependency becomes the norm because of actions controlled by group leaders during many years of schooling, it is carried over into all other aspects of an individual’s life experiences, restricting creative capacities that were once available during early years of life.
It’s apparent that widespread dependency has permeated today’s society, likely the result of these actions. Group thinking within political parties is an example of the consequence of dependency where independent thinking is not the norm.
When a group leader encourages independent thinking and its expression, that results in the second stage of group development, labeled independence.
If authentic thoughts and feelings are expressed openly within the group, conflicts will inevitably emerge between members with differing views. To minimize these conflicts rules of discourse must be established and maintained during this stage of group development and beyond.
The rule is based on an objective to seek clarity in each communication, rather than take issue with what is being communicated. This rule provides the opportunity for individuals to exchange ideas that reveal authentically worthy individuals.
This disclosure presents the opportunity for other members to see the differences and similarities between them. A much greater appreciation among the membership results, making it possible to move to the highest level of group development, interdependence. Without a genuine appreciation for the uniqueness of individuals, the group will not mature to its highest capacities for productive group activity.
Communication at this level is characterized by a process of seeking consensual validation with the content of each exchange. This requires probing dialogue that results in an agreement regarding the meanings being communicated. It provides opportunities to challenge the origins of differences; whether there is logical justification or authentic evidence to support individual positions.
This is the point in group development when the attitudes, values, beliefs, and personal orientations of members can be directly challenged. When this happens within this group setting that has established an appreciation for individual differences, there is provided an opportunity for individuals to consider change in their positions. The exchanges in this level of discourse are enhanced by exposure to other group members. This at least enables change and usually results in it.
Without this opportunity to peacefully consider the bases for an individual’s positions on matters, these differences unresolved will continue to fester and eventually erupt in society’s conflicts like we see today.
A result of appreciation of individual differences allows and encourages opportunities to challenge those attitudes, values, beliefs, and personal orientations that are not based in fact or logic.
Schools that transfer arbitrary information to the students, and expect compliance, maintain a level of dependency by controlling the dialogue, they become the breeding ground for society’s conflicts, unresolved and openly hostile. Furthermore there is lacking any experiences that would produce skills in conflict resolution, so the patterns of hostility remain in place.
Human beings are socially dependent, making group experiences a legitimate organization for productive learning. What is generally misunderstood is that an effective group honors individuality, recognizing it as enhancing the education of others, worthy of being encouraged.
Group thinking is not an option, but seeking group consensus is an appropriate outcome. Group consensus is not the same as unanimity. Group members can live with decisions made by group consensus, even though they disagree with the decision, if it is understood that the issue will be reopened upon discovery of new information.
Support for individuality is vital to group productivity, provided it is based on the practice of consensual validation where differences of opinion are considered natural and useful in developing insight into others and oneself. This dynamic will not happen with groups remaining at the dependency stage under the control of authoritarian principles and will not occur if the independence stage is not allowed and encouraged to happen.
Every group, to become productive in support of individuals within that group must adhere to the principles of group development. Facilitators of productive group development must recognize their role in achieving growth from one stage to another, reaching for the highest level of functioning, the stage of interdependence. The absolute requirement for facilitators, for knowing a great deal about individual involvement in the communications within the group, has been outlined earlier in this text.
Six Realms of Meaning and the academic disciplines found therein, are the most productive ways of creating and communicating personal knowledge known today:
Whitehead’s admonition that what is needed is an eye for the whole chessboard, for the bearing of one set of ideas on another is easily understood in today’s world as widespread separate specialties exist that compound the problems of overly dependent citizens, a condition witnessed daily.
The school curriculum is currently divided into specialties where one set is almost never considered related meaningfully to other sets. The curriculum is arbitrarily compartmentalized and departmentally and distributed in classrooms with teachers/instructors. Dependent students are expecting to be consumers of the information displayed in conformity with the intended messages sent from the higher-ups.
The subject matter chosen to be taught is selectively culled from the products of specialists who have dedicated their careers to understanding and communicating about the part of life’s manifestations they have taken responsibility for.
Descriptions of their creative processes are usually mentioned as a topic among others, almost never to be actualized by students in the classroom. Packaging the instructional modules and the tests have become a lucrative business, securely entrenched within the schools.
I experienced an epiphany when I was introduced to history’s methods and materials by an historian who recommended them for use in my seventh-grade social studies class in New York State History and Geography. I had been instructing information from texts expecting students to consume the information and become knowledgeable about their state and local history.
This historian disapproved of that method and suggested I engage my students in activities that resemble that of historians and geographers. Being bored with the subject along with my students, I agreed to participate under his direction.
He agreed to furnish primary and reputable secondary documents that depicted happenings of the past concerning the local communities, and the state, from which a narrative was to be formulated. He agreed to help guide our inquiry but did not agree to tell us what to conclude. We would convene discussions later about our findings as compared with his having used the same documents in his research.
Our research began with the construction of a scaled model of the county of residence of the students. This model was large enough for plotting on it information we gleaned from reputable sources about the natural/physical features of the county, along with information about the social/cultural characteristics of its early inhabitants, and its economic and political structures and processes.
This model enabled us to seek out the meaning of data and the relationships between sets of ideas. It was required to keep track of information and provide a graphic and comprehensive view of the early history of the county and the state.
We kept a diary of our activities and ideas that we used to construct an historical and geographical narrative. We met with our mentor when finished writing to compare notes with him regarding his narrative. The discussion proved to be very valuable.
The seventh graders discussed with intelligence the history of their county and questioned the differences in conclusions we reached as compared with his. An important and lasting reality was displayed that conclusions are based in the eye of the beholder and conclusions should always be thought of from that viewpoint.
This experience led our mentor and I to enter a partnership to widely promote the Discovery Approach to the Teaching of Social Studies. This occurred in1959.
At that time discovery was a popular watch word that referred to learning the standard curriculum by being instructed in a different way.
That was not what we considered discovery to be. We viewed it as discovering yet to be revealed end products of inquiry using the methods and materials of history and geography; the answers unknown at the outset of the inquiry.
One additional byproduct of this project was the Environmental Relationships Test that measured cognitive abilities for analysis, synthesis and critical evaluation of specific locations and periods in time. This test was used extensively in workshops designed to introduce the discovery approach to teachers in several states and other locations across this country.
It received endorsements from many reputable organizations, but full utilization was seriously hampered by a lack of accessible documents suitable for inquiry in these two disciplines, especially documents relating to local communities.
Fortunately, that problem has been solved with the advent of digital technologies and computerized data banks available to classroom networks across this land.
This project with seventh graders led me to participation in the data collection that assisted Professor Philip Phenix’s research on ways of knowing that resulted in his book on Realms of Meaning – A Philosophy of Curriculum for General Education.
His schematic reorganizes the components of the curriculum in general education for the first time in centuries. It is logically organized and reflective of significant aspects of human discourse in this modern age. The realms of meaning include all the traditional disciplines, arranged to represent the ways we have divided up the responsibilities for conveying points of view undertaken by thoughtful humans.
The first of six realms is labeled Empirics. This includes all the sciences including social sciences that had been relegated elsewhere.
The realm labeled Symbolics includes all languages, including mathematics and computer languages along with verbal and non-verbal languages inherent in different cultures.
The aesthetics realm includes all the arts and architectural design that performs as a mode of language that expresses intuitive insights as opposed to that derived from cognition.
The realm of Synoptics includes history, geography, and cultural anthropology. This realm is particularly important as a mode of inquiry to be engaged by students as opposed to a body of pre-defined knowledge to be consumed.
Synoptics provide an overview or an integration of products from other realms by directly addressing Whitehead’s admonishment to seek the relationships between one set of ideas and another. Heretofore, these subjects have been treated as isolated information to be consumed along with other bodies of information.
The realm of Ethics address matters of morality, of what is right and what is wrong.
The realm of Synnoetics embraces the need for self-knowledge and self-understanding, perhaps the most pervasive and important realm to be defined.
As Psychiatrist Lawrence Kubie has stated, maturity and wisdom are not attainable without self-knowledge and self-understanding. Therefore, this becomes an overall goal of education of particular importance during the student’s early years when there is still an openness to experience and flexibility to adopt changes.
Adoption of this schematic requires experience in each of the six realms of meaning. It’s important to note that all the viewpoints subsumed under each realm have similarities in their approaches to the study of the topics they have addressed. Transfer of skills for inquiry and communication within the members of each realm is therefore more easily accomplished.
This new system of education initially addresses the years of schooling for individuals whose logical abilities begin with pre-operational intelligence through concrete operations and to formal operations. This spans the current early childhood, elementary and middle school ages of the present system.
Current distinctions however have little meaning since facilitators of this plan are to be able to assess the salient dimensions during continuous development, determine developmentally appropriate experiences and operate groups that seek to achieve consensual validation.
With extensive records of experiences with indicators of what was accomplished with those experiences, each student functions within the group setting in a continuous progress framework aimed at the study of life in all its manifestations. This begins with the local environment, its past, present and future for reasons taken from reputable learning theory. It continues later, building upon the foundation established during the local study.
Learning experiences are most profitable when they are direct and purposeful. (Dale) The local setting offers both of those motivating factors. Students in early education are familiar with their local setting since they experience it daily, but it has not been studied in-depth within the present curricular offerings in conventional schools. In fact, it isn’t addressed even in more advanced education during high school or in college, unless one intends to select environmental study for a particular career.
This involves a small segment of the total population. The rest remain relatively ignorant about what in in their own back yards. That ignorance severely limits accuracy regarding insights into other cultures found in more remote places and times. Witness today’s misconceptions about immigrants who come to this country seeking a better life.
History that deals with the past, cultural anthropology that deals with the present, and geography that deals with the past, present and future, initiated from within the local setting, are selected to provide the main thrust of this new general education curriculum.
The reason for this has to do with the fact that these disciplines are synoptic, seeking relationships between sets of facts or ideas with other facts or ideas. Since history and geography and anthropology draw insights from the results of inquiry in other realms, they can establish a frame of reference that facilitates the transfer and integration of knowledge across the boundaries of disciplines. An important byproduct is the discovery of resources for a better life that exist right there in plain sight but often left unrecognized and underdeveloped.
A facilitator who understands individual students, is skilled in fostering group development and can provide guidance for inquiry in developmentally appropriate ways will facilitate freeing the potential that remains dormant in nearly every student who attends school. These students will seek maturity and wisdom with vast improvements in mental health and general wellbeing.
Systems design and systems analysis from general systems theory applied to education is the fourth element in the foundation for effective education.
Without systems theory, we would not be witnesses to a landing on the moon or on Mars. Each of the persons in the command center who are manning a computer are monitoring the functioning of systems that have been isolated for this task from a major system that combines all the sub-systems on display. If there is a glitch in any sub-system, the whole system is placed on hold until the problem has been located and fixed.
Who would have thought that a simple idea like the definition of a system as a set of parts that function would set this activity in motion with successes almost beyond belief. Think what it can do for education if only it is applied as the late Bela Banathy has done as part of a NATO conference on technology in education conducted and published in the early 1990’s.
General systems theory applied to education has been kept at the wayside by the traditions in education that are stuck in the beliefs of centuries earlier. Almost every intellectual activity uses systems concepts except education. A sad situation.
There are two dimensions of systems theory that could have a direct application in education. Systems design is a process of learning that utilizes model construction as a tool for organizing ideas and for communicating the results of learning. Models are representations of the products of any field of inquiry. Systems analysis is a strategy for assessing and evaluating the products of systems design.
Systems thinking can apply to many aspects of education starting with the formulation of a viable system for facilitating human growth and development. Each component addressed in the model displayed at the beginning of this treatise can be viewed from a systems perspective starting with the items discussed under Philosophical/Theoretical Assumptions and Beliefs and all subsequent items in the model. Each of these components are sub-systems connected to the larger system of a learning and training center that produces competent and informed citizens of the U.S. ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Each part must function compatibly with all other components, or the system is in trouble.
This section dedicated to systems concepts and the three prior sections that make up the foundation concepts for an effective school each are part of the system for this new system of education.
The plan for implementation begins with the setting in which it would be ideally located, in a community center for learning and training for effective citizenship. This facility would feature many flexible spaces that can be adapted to the needs of inquiry for students of varying developmental capacities from early childhood through adolescence. The needs for what is referred to as high school would be reassessed as a result of in-depth student experiences initiated in earlier years. Determination of how that would appear is premature at this time.
The second requirement for implementation is the need to upgrade the professional preparation of educators reflecting the four theoretical positions that form the foundation for the system. This process is not likely to be managed effectively in current institutions responsible for teacher and administrator education, nor the education of supporting professions. This need must be integrated into the administrative organization of the new system. This proposal gives attention to this need assigned to the division for quality assurance in the new decision-making plan.
Above all else, a new assessment, record keeping, evaluation and reporting procedure is key to affecting this major change. As stated, we are painfully aware of the control assessment and evaluation strategies have over the curriculum, its contents and delivery. Without this change nothing else will improve.
How Can Change Be Initiated?
Changing established attitudes, values, beliefs, and orientations is a difficult task in narrowly defined areas of education for adults, it is even more complex regarding early education involving groups of unique learners just entering their formal schooling. Yet the challenges are similar.
For example: I was hired to coordinate the work of a select group of cell scientists who were instructors in various medical schools across this land and elsewhere, who were commissioned to improve learning in cell science for medical students.
This was a high-powered group convened at the W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center in Lake Placid by the Tissue Culture Association and other interested parties, directed by a Cell Scientist from the medical school in Saskatoon Saskatchewan. Partnered with this Doctor was a person from the University of California at Davis, one who was steeped in the jargon of educators who at the time were on a mission to promote in schools lesson planning with behavioral objectives. His participation was limited to an occasional visit during which he would bring with him others who were of that mission.
The cell scientists and I met at the Cell Science Center during the day and were housed in a first-class hotel in the area. Our meetings spanned a period of several weeks.
The first step was to prepare a survey to determine what was being taught in medical schools across Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central America. The survey results indicated instruction in cell biology in the majority of medical schools was approximately equivalent to what was typically taught at a sixth-grade level in our public schools, mainly cell division. This evidence corroborated what had been surmised by this group at the start of deliberations, cell science for medical students needed serious attention.
Motivated by this information to seek solutions we set out to direct our attention to a plan for deriving what was believed to have a chance of success. We first wanted to ensure we each had a similar idea of what cell biology involved at that time. I suggested we construct a visual model that would show the parts of the system and how the parts relate to other parts in a logical framework.
The model produced was labeled The Living Cell. It not only included all parts of cells but identified the various methods for constructing in-depth meaning. This information enabled the next step to be formulated around sound theories of learning that were used in developing learning modules to guide the learning of medical students. Each module emphasized the importance of direct experiences in constructing models of the sub-systems of the discipline of cell biology that was a consistent part of the total concept of the living cell.
When we were well along in the development of learning models derived from the group’s vast experience in the laboratory, the current jargon of education was entered which suggested our modules did not specifically include behavioral objectives. This was viewed as an insult to member’s intelligence and their enthusiasm quickly waned.
They had made great strides in accomplishing their goal and were faced with the rigidity of conventional thinking. This is frequently faced whenever changes are suggested regardless of how important or sound the solutions may be. Our new system will likely face the same challenge.
Among the components of systemic change in early education, there are three essential elements in the process of reform that can begin the process that can lead to a vastly improved system of education at all levels of engagement. These elements, considered together, will lead to a comprehensive rather than a piecemeal approach to school improvement. Principles of systems design applied to educational processes and structures portend the same kind of evolution we have witnessed in this modern age of breakthroughs in digital and electronics technology.
The first element of change can be affected without huge expenditures and without extensive teacher training, involving systems-oriented assessment, record keeping, evaluation and reporting procedures. Change can be underway with a commitment to engage its system which is guided by a validated set of assumptions and beliefs about how humans learn and develop alone and in groups. This innovation will set in motion a process that will build, with each generation of learners, an increased readiness to accept and affect the broader premises of an effective, sustainable educational system for the 21st century and beyond.
The CARES model (Constructive, Assessment, Recordkeeping and Evaluation System) is discussed at length in Remaking Our Schools for The Twenty-First Century – A Blueprint for Change/Improvement in our Educational Systems. Installing this system in our proposed public schools will change the educational structures, materials, and procedures, resulting in a dramatic increase in personal competency and improved mental health.
The second element in the process of change to a more effective system involves the identification and organization of primary source information to be made available electronically to local learning groups. These data are essential for learning how to learn about the history and geography of the learner’s local community. Primary source documents are essential in a process of development and validation of an understanding of the variables and their interrelatedness found in each local community and in other communities throughout the world.
An important frame of reference that is validated in the immediate world of the learner emerges from an in-depth study of the local community enabling meaningful transfer of insights to the understanding of remote places and times. Without this frame of reference, effective transfer is nearly impossible and without primary source data, development of this essential frame of reference is very unlikely. Local primary historical and geographical data have not been made available to schools since reproduction costs cannot be supported by a limited market potential. Primary data are not only needed for the study of local environments but for every discipline’s requirement for inquiry, including cell biology.
The third element in the process of reform involves intensive workshops aimed at current elementary, middle, and secondary school personnel, pre-service educators, parents and higher education faculty. The purpose of these workshops is to establish a foundation knowledge base – a shared set of assumptions and beliefs about how individuals learn and develop, alone and in groups and institutions. This shared knowledge base provides guidance in the development of programs that meet the needs of individual learners.
Preparation for the conduct of these workshops will require a trained cadre of persons willing and able to grasp the significant concepts of an articulated knowledge base, with the necessary skills to effectively conduct adult learning groups.
Realistically, returning to the past is not an option, and neither is continuing the movement to standardize education and turn it into a profit-making enterprise. We desperately need to focus our energies on creating a vision for the future that avoids both the pitfalls of the past with its lure for standardization. These workshops need to initiate that vision.
It’s inconceivable that a change this comprehensive can survive without adequate resources and intense efforts to re-educate the public to begin to see the needs for change.
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Robert L. Arnold
326 Bay Lane
Willsboro, New York 12996
Born: December 20, 1931 (Youngest of twelve children)
Married: Mary Sue LaVallee Arnold
Children: Michael R.
Education: Bloomingdale Union School (1-8)
Saranac Lake High School (7-12 Regents Diploma)
Paul Smiths College
State University at Potsdam (Bachelor of Science N-9)
Teacher’s College Columbia University (Master of Arts – Elementary Administration and Supervision)
Teacher’s College Columbia University (ABD EdD – Curriculum and Teaching/Developmental Psychology)
Business, Professional and Work Experience:
1938-42 - Performed odd jobs for neighbors and sold garden seeds and Grit Magazine to obtain spending money while living and working on the family farm.
1942- 47 - Trapped beaver, mink, fox and muskrat for spending money. Ran family farm while attending high school, with 20 cattle, 40 hens, 4 horses, 50 hogs, 40 sheep, two dogs and a dozen rabbits. Cut pulpwood, logs and stove wood. Became resident mechanic repairing machinery and autos during war years when parts were scarce.
1948-49 Left the farm to work for A&P Grocery as a stock clerk.
1949-53 Enrolled late at SUNY Potsdam majoring in elementary and junior high school teaching. Student teaching assignments were self-contained 7th grade, 7,8,9th grade departmentalized science and 11th grade English and Social Studies. Received appointment in 1952 as substitute teacher for 8th grade English and Social Studies at Massena Public Schools.
1950-53 Worked as assistant to the manager of food services at SUNY Potsdam, sold nursery stock, planned landscaping designs and planted residential, commercial and public buildings to pay for college. During summers, worked at Santa’s Workshop of North Pole, N.Y.. Graduated with Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education N-9 in June 1953. Married to Mary Sue LaVallee on August 26, 1953.
Completed Master of Arts in Administration and Supervision at Teacher’s College Columbia University, December 1955.
Taught graduate and undergraduate courses in audio-visual education, local and New York State History. Collaborated with colleague from the Department of History in developing “The Discovery Approach to the Teaching of Social Studies. Presented the “Discovery Approach” to numerous groups including the New York State Council for the Social Studies, the New York State Historical Society, the New York State Education Department, The National Council for the Social Studies and Statewide teachers and administrators. Co-authored The Discovery Approach to the Teaching of Social Studies – A Source Book, and published several professional articles.
Wrote proposal and received funding from the New World Foundation to install the “Discovery Approach” in the Potsdam Public Schools. Served as consultant to numerous school districts in New York and New England.
During summers while at Potsdam, became sales agent for lumber and building supplies, established, and served as NCO of a landscaping service with five employees, trucks, dozers, tractors and other construction equipment. Clients included Clarkson University, St. Lawrence University, State of New York Transportation Department, St. Lawrence Seaway Authority, Norwood-Norfolk Central School, SUNY at Plattsburgh and Potsdam, Plattsburgh City Schools, and others. Designed and built specialized equipment for more efficient landscape construction, including a mechanical stone-picker. During that same period, established, constructed and marketed a seventy-five-acre sub-division known as Leroy Heights in Potsdam.
Served as consultant/designer of earth science instructional materials for National Science Foundation Project at The State University of Illinois at Normal, Illinois.
Author and principal investigator of experimental program at Jersey City State College serving as one professor/facilitator of all subjects at the freshman level for students committed to the teacher education major. As part of the numerous hands-on experiences for a group of randomly selected participants (21) in this experimental project, a landscaping design was created and planted around several Campus buildings that included establishing formal botanical gardens. Published chapter in Yearbook for National Council for the Social Studies and several additional history source books through Brentwood Public Schools on Long Island with funding from the Ford Foundation.
1966-1973 Certified Candidate for the degree of Doctor of Education having completed all course requirements (plus) and passed comprehensive examinations. Submitted outlines for dissertation to include validation studies of the “Environmental Relationships Test.” Served as consultant to Reidsville and Greensboro public schools in North Carolina, New Jersey rural schools in Burlington County, and suburban schools in Englewood, Teaneck, and Red Bank.
Appointed Associate Professor of Education at Plattsburgh State University, tenured in 1968. Invited by Plattsburgh Administration to advance experimentation begun at Potsdam and continued at Jersey City State College. Designed the curriculum and conducted workshops for faculty of Upward Bound Program during summer of 1966. In Fall of 1966, established experimental teacher education program to “break the lock-step curriculum for teachers” typical of past practice. All methods courses were combined to form an eleven-hour instructional block coordinated and facilitated by one instructor. This project led to a total revision of teacher education at Plattsburgh State. The new program was labeled the “Open Curriculum” involving 350 education majors, 22 faculty from both Arts and Science and Education. Served as project coordinator/curriculum director from 1967-1970.
Wrote each revision of teacher education at Plattsburgh State University between 1967 and 1989, including “Competence Based Teacher Education” and the “Block Program.”
Served as Chair of the Committee on Terms and Conditions of Employment as a member of the local chapter Board of Directors of the United University Professions. Represented faculty and argued cases before the State human Rights Commission, the New York State Courts, and Federal District Courts. One case claiming reverse discrimination went to the review stage at the United States Supreme Court.
1966-2004 Conducted workshops in education and human relations at the Illinois State University, the University of California at Berkeley, SUNY units across the State, Temple University, Glassboro State and Trenton State in New Jersey and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Received grant from the New York Historic Trust to inventory and photograph historical sites in five county area of upstate New York.
Appointed a member of the Essex County Mental Health and Community Services Board and was president of the Essex County Mental Health Association for seven years. Served as member of Board of Visitors of Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, member of the Plattsburgh Crisis Center Board of Directors and the Health Systems Agency of Northeastern New York. Organized the Tri-County Council for Human Services and served as its chair for three years. Wrote and obtained grant for $125,000 from the NYS Department of Mental Health to create and establish a computerized directory of human services for the three-county area - Essex, Franklin and Clinton.
Taught courses in environmental education at North Country Community College at Elizabethtown Extension Center. Team-taught with Geology Department at SUNY Plattsburgh to improve student performance in that discipline. Served as Clinton County Youth Corp Project manager to create outdoor recreational areas for Morrisonville community.
Received fellowship from the Research Foundation of SUNY to explore curricula more relevant for Blacks and other minorities, held at New College in Florida.
Served seven terms as president of the Willsboro/Essex Kiwanis Club and organized the Willsboro/Essex Kiwanis Foundation, Inc. Obtained grant and coordinated fund raising to organize the Smith House Health Care Center ($1,000,000 total cost), one of nine model rural health care centers sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Rural Practice Project and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Organized the Associated Community Action of the North East Adirondack Region, Inc. (ACANEAR) and obtained health care operating permits for Smith House. Served as administrator of Smith House Health Care Center, on leave from SUNY Plattsburgh (1 1/2 years)
Organized and opened the Mineville Health Clinic as part of Smith House network.
Supervised development of innovative computerized health records system in consultation with programmers from Stanford University.
Assisted in the development and management of Consult Ed Inc. of Greensboro, N.C. Conducted numerous workshops with teachers and administrators in North Carolina schools and in Mentor, Ohio.
Served as special consultant in mathematics and environmental education at the Center for Individualized Instruction in Durham, North Carolina and the Regional Laboratory for the Carolinas and Virginia.
Conducted management/leadership training at Cone Mills in Greensboro, N.C. for Jobs 70 Program sponsored by the National Alliance of Businessmen and the Federal Bureau of Manpower Development.
Organized Environmental Resource Consultants, Inc. and served as its CEO to develop and publish educational, training and promotions programs. Developed safety and training programs for Interpace Corporation. Marketed promotional programs for Adirondack tourist attractions, Chambers of Commerce, and real estate ventures. Developed filmstrips, aperture card data banks, and instructional materials for schools.
Served as consultant/coordinator to the W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center, conducting study of medical school curricula in cell biology throughout the North American Continent. Designed instructional materials composed of slides, tapes, and booklets to be used in medical schools. Conducted workshops for Center Staff and visiting consultants. Facilitated the development of a conceptual framework for cell biology with noted cell biologists from the United States and England.
Designed and gained approval for promotions program for the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Served as Mentor for PhD candidates through Antioch University.
Principal organizer and developer of Spring Water Company, Adirondack Aquifer, Inc. developed marketing materials, promotions materials, marketing strategies, negotiated contracts and assisted in building a spring water bottling plant.
1984-87 - Published “An Inquiry Teacher Education Program” in Faculty Forum, Volume XII, Number II, SUNY Plattsburgh, 1987.
Assisted in the organization and development of sophisticated color micro-photo technologies. Supervised the development of formalized business plans, promotions materials, training programs and marketing activities for Tru-Vu International, Inc. Served as CEO of Corporation
(1987-93). Assisted in planning and establishing of facilities, contracts, and business relationships. Identified and secured resources both financial and human.
Designed and built a computer controlled micro fiche server with built-in digital scanning capabilities and conventional image projection.
Supervised and coordinated the development of worldwide geographic/historical data base on ultra-high resolution color fiche, catalogued for computer access. Designed and supervised development of Adirondack Regional Data Base, a combination digital and analog collection of primary source materials for classroom instruction.
During sabbatical leave from SUNY Plattsburgh, studied multimedia technologies and directed the production of a “benchmark” image set on ultra-high resolution color micrographics film for use by Kodak in comparative studies with digital images.
Wrote standards for diagnostic quality images for the American Academy of Dermatology.
Published “Color Microfiche: What its Future Holds” in The Sixth I International Conference on Technology and Education, Volume 2, 1989, CEP Consultants Ltd. Edinburgh, UK.
Designed program and taught Foundations of Education courses at SUNY Plattsburgh for elementary teacher candidates (35 yrs).
Taught graduate courses “Issues in Education,” Social Studies Methods K-12, Research Methods and Non-Verbal Communication.
Field tested the Environmental Relationships Test (Listed by the Educational Testing Service).
Developed and field tested the Constructive Assessment, Record Keeping, and Evaluation System (CARES).
Served as design team leader for New American Schools Development Corporation contract to develop “break-the-mold” schools for the USA. Ranked seventeen by Rand Corporation among seven hundred proposals.
Organized and led a series of twelve community development workshops for restructuring education in Willsboro, New York. Workshops were designed to prepare citizens to assume a more active role in educational change and achieve a consensus regarding fundamental assumptions that shape an effective school.
Assisted in organizing and served as president of the Willsboro-Essex Citizens’ Council.
Retired in 1993 after twenty-six years at SUNY Plattsburgh.
Organized and gained approval for establishing The Plattsburgh Research Institute for Defining Education (PRIDE). Served as its Director.
Wrote proposal and received funding from “SUNY Faculty Access to Computer Technologies” to conduct Statewide conference on developing a conceptual framework for decision making concerning the appropriate uses of technology in education.
Presented a computerized version of CARES (the Constructive Assessment, Record Keeping and Evaluation System) in cooperation with COMWEB Corporation of Taiwan at the annual conference of NYSCATE.
1997-04 Appointed to BOCES planning committee for Goals 2000 program.
Wrote successful grant proposals for establishing “A Rural School Consortium for New Standards Implementation” ($350,000, Essex County Schools) under NYS Goals 2000 Program. Served as coordinator and consultant/trainer for systemic reform.
Published in conjunction with Goals 2000 project, “A Professional Educator’s Handbook,” “A Framework for Frameworks,” “ Frameworks/Standards Analysis,” and “Constructive Learning and Instructional Planning with a Systems Orientation (CLIPSO).”
Taught pre-service component of Goals 2000 Project – Block I and Block II.
Appointed SUNY Plattsburgh Visiting Professor of Education and taught Foundations of Education and Curriculum and Instruction.
Nominated by President Horace Judson of SUNY Plattsburgh for the 1997 Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education.
Taught graduate seminar in “Curriculum and Instruction” Fall 1998.
Assisted the “North Country Consortium” of Minerva/Newcomb in planning and conducting in-service day on standards implementation. Assisted the consortium in planning and writing a comprehensive proposal for new standards implementation submitted to NYSED.
Wrote and published the Teacher Competence Profile.
Directed the development and submission of a comprehensive proposal for establishing a Charter School to serve Plattsburgh area and SUNY Plattsburgh to be located on the Plattsburgh Air Base Properties.
Taught Blocks I and II during 2002-2004 as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Childhood Education.
Wrote and distributed proposed Childhood Departmental Bylaws and a proposed Departmental Assessment Plan in preparation for NCATE evaluation.
Wrote and submitted on behalf of the Crown Point School System a proposal to fund a project in Teaching American History using local study as the focal point for learning. The project featured an on-line electronic connection between area museums and the classrooms of the school, including the use of CARES and CLIPSO models in training of teachers, within a research design. (2003)
Submitted proposal for changes in our educational systems to Facebook and the City of Newark, New Jersey.
2013– Published Remaking Our Schools for the Twenty-First Century- A Blueprint for Change/Improvement in Our School Systems, Ithaca Press.
2014-15 – Published numerous “Guest Commentaries” on educational issues in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and the Plattsburgh Press Republican.
2014 – Created and marketed 20 booklets aimed at educating the public and educators concerning professional development through Teachers Pay Teachers.com.
2014 Published book – Cursed With Insight – Essays from an education .
2015 – Proposed and instituted an innovative project with the Valcour Battle Chapter of the SAR to work in conjunction with the SAR’s National Education Center to create countrywide local primary source data banks to facilitate the study of history through the eyes of in-depth local studies.
2015 – Created and marketed four booklets through social media explaining The Constructive Assessment, Recordkeeping and Evaluation System (CARES), New Visions for our Public Schools, Making a superior Public School, and Teacher Education for the 21st Century.
2015 - Served as advocate in cases of elder abuse, including court appearances and construction of court documents.
2015 – Frequent contributor to various social media and maintenance of a website on education – remaking our schools for the 21st century.com.
2018 Established an on-line blog – Edupultz.com.
2016-2021 Defined and promoted through media, four foundation areas for superior education including updated information about: 1) Individual development and behavior, 2) communication and group development, 3) Disciplines as ways of creating knowledge within six realms of meaning (Phenix), 4) Systems theory applied to education, including systems design as a process of learning and systems analysis as a strategy for assessment and evaluation of design outcomes.