Application IV: Education

Reading and writing and arithmetic, the 3 R’s, carry communication and cognition (C&C) into the educational curriculum as elementary concerns, which is to say as the adoption (learning of) linguistic product-tool usages (: Behavioral Manifold) that will serve us throughout our lives in this or that community. Specialized language tools may follow later in special interest communities (see ). Vocational tracks and professional curricula are dominated by tool usage training (instruction and practice). Special reading and writing capabilities accompany these developments — as jargon reminds us. These tools enable the formation and transfer of observations, an important (but limited) resource in helping, being helped and helping to be helped.

Formal instruction (i.e., observations, messages) only partially meets our total informational need, given the incomplete instruction condition of behavioral entities under the Nature of Things. We need to take a more basic view of both reading and writing (as composed expression) in order to determine their appropriate role in education – at all levels.

As reading development goes, linguistic reading is secondary. It depends on composed expression, on writing and speaking as forms of composed expression. Writing, like speaking, is the report of a prior read. This latter, more primary, kind of reading occurs as we (from infancy through adulthood) attend cognitively to matters of consequence: differences, changes and similarities in the environs, others and ourselves – any or all of which may make a difference to us. (Recall Stevens’ view of “communication.”)

(It turns out, as scientists like Boltzmann and Heisenberg have pointed out, that composed expressions [e.g., hypotheses, mathematical equations] can assist in our primary reads of things, to the extent that the ordering in the compositions map order [conceived of as agent-ordered or not] in the latter. It is also possible, however, in ways more severe than envisioned by Whorf and Sapir that modes of composed expression will mislead us in primary reads.)

Curiosity helps bring out the distinction in kinds of reading – and their treatment in elementary education. Students can be curious about word meanings and/or about words to use to represent what they observe. (This helps to make languages and education-as-instruction work.) But students are also curious (more curious?) about “What if?”, “How do I?”, “How did that happen?”, “Why?” and other such matters of consequence. Primary reading does not get the same curricular attention that secondary reading does. “Social intelligence” and “the smarts” (and the rest of what they hint at) are left to “evolve.” Pointed questioning pretty much goes undeveloped (scientific hypotheses excepted). Even though lip service is paid to “critical thinking,” in practice criticism may greatly outweigh analysis. (Indeed, the act of questioning itself may be extinguished by single-minded or lazy instructors.)

(Students are encouraged to learn and then to come to believe that the language investment [i.e., secondary reading] and its growing capital of observations are worthwhile. This is in the face of evidence that there is much else of obvious consequence to be curious about.)

Practical pedagogical questions arise here. Would more attention to primary reading improve secondary reading capability (or, at least, increase interest among students in developing it)? Would primary reading practice make a difference – or the same difference – in the two approaches to secondary reading instruction (i.e., phonics vs. sight)?

Primary reads are basic to behavioral development, meeting the need for self-instruction. (See Dervin’s “sense making” in this regard.) Linguistic reading and writing are too narrow in that respect. They are more the adopting of elementary solutions (: Sbeh) than the developing of basic capabilities (: Pbeh); ). There is a dynamic imbalance here: Elementary education is too elementary, not basic enough. A companion curriculum in all kinds of primary reading (e.g., reading faces, gestures, postures, intentions, traces, feelings) could usefully accompany language learning in the earliest grades.

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What we make of things is important. So is what we make with and/or by them. More early attention should also be given to composed expression. (Unfortunately the term “write,” re writing, does not enjoy the same linguistic latitude that “read” does re reading. We dare not speak of primary and secondary “writes.” (But “tells? See .) What this actually tells us is that the behavioral roots of writing are not as apparent as those for reading. “Art” has a similar linguistic difficulty; it lacks a verbal form [no "en-art"] to indicate process in consequence of need. “Composition,” with “compose,” must fill the bill – and that too requires some modification [composed expression] to distinguish synthetic products from purely circumstantial products, the latter which we commonly analyze after the fact for their components.

Composed expression is responsive to, and refractive of, the Nature of Things, in that it gives emphasis to possibility per se, to that which might come about via constructive effort. That our world is a world of possibility is not to be lost in the rush to provide instruction in what was and is.

Creativity and invention require more than what language learning and usage now afford as composed expression. Art, in the sense of composed expression, needs developing as a constructive capability – despite its linguistic neglect as a verb. Just adding the use of tools for artistic creativity (e.g., painting and acting) to the curriculum is no substitute for the composed expression that compositional change’s “all that it takes” requires for problem solving. We need art with a small “a,” so to speak, an art of and for behavior, of and for problem solving.

Appreciation is the read for artistic endeavor as composed expression. To appreciate is to see the process in the product. If we have no sense of the structure of process, of the HOW and not just the WHAT of construction, then where is the schooling in constructive change to come from? Must it always be a deviation from previous practice, more evolution than development?

An introduction to constructive problem solving would not be out of place in the lowest grades. Better this than a decision making orientation, with its emphasis on to choose instead of to build. What might an elementary grader make – or, importantly, help to make or be helped to make? Relationships of all kinds: friends, collections, arrangements, omelettes, shakes, fortifications, conversations, clothes, etc.

At, say, middle grades, an introduction to minding and moving options (; : ideational mechanics) might parallel the introduction of other kinds of mechanics (e.g., levers and pulleys) of consequence. Even earlier, children should be asking questions of “What’s inside?” “What’s outside?” What comes after?’ What comes before” – not just to discover, but to imagine.

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Fundamentally then, early education needs to be more basic. This on the assumption that education implies development of capabilities – as many as possible (see the partial listing inV: Behavioral Manifold).

How helpful are education and educators? Helping (see App. I) is implicit in any profession. (As is the precept of “First, do no harm.”) Successful helping requires an understanding of behavioral need by both helper and the helped. On this criterion, education is faltering, if not failing. CMU and COG capabilities (as per the 3R’s) provide the thread for a composed life, but all of BFPS might and ought to find applicability to the constructed fabric of life.

Why? Because whatever we do or try to do in life, problem solving is always with us. The behavioral problem (: Pbeh) is here, whatever the situational problem (: Psit), whatever the availability of behavioral solutions (: Sbeh), and even in the absence of a particular situational problem.

The Nature of Things, we have seen, makes ADEPT a relevant stratagem along with ADOPT and ADAPT. We need to be responsive to the behavioral problem (: Pbeh). We need to be constructive in our change efforts (: ATIT) if we are to maximize the quality of our lives through problem solving. So let’s look at “3R’s plus 3A’s” as an early curriculum model:

Picture several rectangles intersecting with a triangle. (See accompanying illustration): Reading and writing define the horizontal axis of each rectangle. Natural language reading and writing constitute the lower rectangle. Arithmetic (mathematics, actually), the next rectangle up, pertains to a special type of reading and writing capability – a language of its own, so to speak. Additional layers can follow, as special modes of expression find appreciation to be an appropriate read. The points of the triangle are. ADEPT, ADOPT, and ADAPT. These are strategies for coping with the incomplete instruction condition of the behavioral entity.

(There is room here for those who are ADEPT to produce new reading and writing instrumentalities. It is important also to keep in mind that we “read” twice when using a language: the language itself and the conditions represented by that language. [The best language may be the one we can "see through" – without missing something consequential and worthy of attention.] We may also write twice, so to speak. As we compose, we may express ourselves in some language as well as in other performance and product consequences. CMU & COG can “score” – as in choreographing and blueprinting – that which it engineers, before and/or after the fact. In this compositional case it is critical that the linguistic expression be capable of representing any and every condition that is IN and/or OF consequence. Representation of primary reads, especially regarding behavior, is still struggling in this regard. We attempt to build relationships [indeed, our lives] with incomplete and often inaccurate representation of behavior’s components – especially the micromolecular [e.g., CMU and COG acts and moves] relative to the macromolecular [e.g., actions].)

Elementary aspects of ADAPT and ADOPT are familiar enough: formally in the discipline of the school room and in attention to learning’s subject matter (including adaptation to adoption per se, which reduces concern for the behavioral to disciplinary issues of deportment and industry), and informally in the imitation and conformity involved in activities engaged in with peers and adults. What is missing in the elementary grades are the elementary and basic aspects of ADEPT. Behavior is not in the curriculum. Behaviors are taught, but not behavior.

The basic aspects of ADEPT, those dealing with the persisting behavioral problem of capability development, remain missing at the secondary level and beyond. What goes into making a step is something everyone should become acquainted with as soon as possible. Even formal education may be too late if it presumes instruction, not developmental engagement, to be its primary challenge. Lacking ADEPT development (i.e., instruction and practice in constructive behavior) our behavioral foundation for living is weak. As individuals and communities we have many unsolved problems – including, ironically and tragically, how we might develop better reading and writing capabilities.

***

Educational investment has to answer the question, “Education for what?” Behavioral necessity’s answer is, “For living, step by step.” Our investments reflect our understanding of what a life ought to be and what it might be, in the steps we make as well as the steps we take – not just our understanding of what the steps of other lives have been like and what they are like now.

Parents, teachers, administrators, communities and students each have investments to make. We could usefully ask what the requisites and imperatives in BFPS have to say about the educational process for each of these stakeholders. But let’s focus on the child as prestudent and student. For the child, the major investment is effort. Tragically, that investment is too often lost or misdirected.

Control imperative: From its beginning cries for attention as its (then only) control mechanism the child progresses to an initial sense of consequentiality per se, in that its moves, by sounding or otherwise, have an outcome (so the child may do it again – for a while at least). Further efforts are made and the sense of consequentiality expands to include outcomes re self in consequence of others’ steps (e.g., as in parent response to the child’s moves, such as offering encouragement). Then on to more consequentiality: moves by others which produce outcomes and feelings (: personal knowledges such as pleasure and pain). Then language is encountered and life changes … drastically.

The child wants adult outcomes and often adopts (imitatively) adult ways to get those outcomes. Language usage is an adult way. Adults encourage early linguistic effort. But pretty soon, even before entering school, “correct” usage becomes a concern. What may be accidents are interpreted as failures and the spearhead of effort is blunted. Effort may have to be transformed to courage in the face of apparent disapprobation. (Note that even among adults the difficulty we may have in distinguishing criticism of ourselves from criticism of what we do [: Agreement x understanding].) More than linguistic curiosity may be dulled.

Functional requisite: Sensory capacities are challenged by educational instruction. This too may dampen enthusiasm for effort (hard to maintain focal attention; so much to remember, tired and hungry, etc.). Enhanced sensory capacity may be sought (e.g., drugs of various kinds).

Educational instruction also challenges the child’s initial focus on consequentiality via means-ends. Instruction offers observations that may, sooner or later – or never, serve the minding function. Rebelliously perhaps, the initial focus on the two solutions (behavioral and situational (: Sbeh and Ssit) will persist throughout life, abetted by the demand for tool usage skills if one is to be gainfully employed.

But what of capability development? What of the two problems: situational and behavioral (: Psit and Pbeh)? If the persisting problem of behavioral capability is not understood, a reverence for power may displace a dedication to self-strengthening. “Whatever it takes,” an assertion of effort, may substitute for “all that it takes,” a realization of constructive possibility and necessity, given the Nature of Things (, ).

How, not just what, is the child to think? Logically, to be sure – as applicable. But how about thinking constructively, where communication and cognition have much to offer? The child (and adults as well) can pretty much get by without a familiarity with the atoms and molecules of various bodies, but if steps are to be made, as for constructive change, and not just taken, then the working components and relations in the behavioral molecule do have to become familiars. As soon as possible. Behavior as subject matter has to become part of the curriculum, not something picked up in particular means-ends or misnamed and demeaned as “frills” in some extracurricular activity.

How, constructively, does the child distinguish itself (e.g., stylistically and by character development) while not risking estrangement from the community by mere deviance? Why are grasping by involving and involving by grasping so important to reading and writing? Why must the child believe (Og => Mg) in order to do anything but not be captive to this or that belief (On)?

All of this functionality to pursue…. And if the child is to become an effective member of an effective community, that developed capability will have to be shared by and with others. A new kind of “common sense,” this time not of what things are known experientially to work but a knowledge of how people must, might and can work together.

“Those who can, do….”

Those who know, can.

Singularity requisite: Starting and stopping are critical to effective step taking. Unbridled effort is a sad thing to see. The child comes ill prepared to make use of non-singularities (when to stay stopped [ignorance and uncertainty] and when to stop [cybernetic and elicited criteria] and, most importantly, what to do when stopped [e.g., to think, to question, to ask someone a question]). What’s worse, children come equipped with a tool usage that frustrates the development of this capability: They have learned to decide.

Decision making imposes a Procrustean solution to the behavioral problem. You focus on available alternatives (e.g., issues instead of problems); the act of decision makes you start toward the chosen option; you stop when the chosen alternative is in hand. (Then the devil is in the details of the chosen behavioral solution – assuming that the decision was completely and accurately informed – which, as a general rule, it is not.)

Not only have children learned to decide as a behavioral metastrategy, so have the adults before them. They impose decisions on children, to which the children respond as you might expect from their means-end perspective. They don’t like it (e.g., “terrible two’s”). In school they may rebel – or leave. Arbitrariness of act plus irrelevance of content is a potent turnoff. There are notable cases of leaders who have succeeded in spite of, not because of, their educational experiences.

Evaluation imperative: Children begin early their lifetime of paying attention to step outcomes. Experience is a teacher, we say – but noting that the lesson comes after the test. But there are steps yet to take so the potential contribution is welcome. Cognition of the relation between outcome and self provides an observation, a personal knowledge which we typically see as a feeling: of better or worse, with obvious implications for future steps.

With attention to the minding and moving of one’s self (or that of an observed other), the outcome can also be related to the step’s minding (e.g., right or wrong) and/or the moving (e.g., good or bad). That personal knowledge may be shared – as best one can, given our communication capabilities. This sharing can inspire some confidence for using the observation later as the basis for a step to be taken. (Science would have us test any observation, if possible, before adopting it, converting a personal knowledge to a public knowledge – and preferring understanding by test to agreement by acclaim.)

This knowing process runs head on against instruction’s learning process. The school’s agenda of accepted means-ends practices confronts children who are inherently curious about trying things out to see what will happen. And they are interested in seeing the happenings in others’ behavior – an interest that survives into the reading and viewing of biographies and autobiographies. (The dynamics of knowing viz. learning – and not just of the balance between them – has to be a concern of educational helpers.)

Construction imperative: When do we see the student’s best effort? When that student is engaged. Tool and procedure usages provide an example (, ), as demonstrated by vocational training interests. Some usages are more engaging than others, depending on their difficulty and their anticipated payoffs – which does not usually work to languages’ advantage.

Constructive effort can be very engaging, but only if the student is knowledgeable and practiced in constructive change – as for producing, or helping to produce, solutions to situational problems. But the means-end focus (Sbeh => Ssit) does not augur well for needed Pbeh preparation. And, as “all that it takes,” given the Nature of Things, reminds us, this is not common knowledge. Yet what is more appropriate in this World of Possibility than a commitment to develop and use a constructive capability? Relationships are there to be made, if we understand how relationships are to be made. In the case of communities, relationships have to be made. (Metaphor notwithstanding, teamwork is definitely not chemistry! That we say it is reveals how little we actually know about the behavior of constructive change)

(Call constructive effort Positive Pragmatism: Consequentiality can be extended as far as we develop our capability to construct. And that’s pretty far [infinitely for our enterprise], because we are able to make the steps we take. Humans are not limited to stereotyped building, such as that of bird nests, bee hives, and termite mounds.)

Usage is also just a stage of engagement. The most complete, the most profound engagement involves the invention of such tools and procedures. We need not wait on individual “genius” for invention – nor tolerate untutored, uninspired and undeveloped capacity exhibitions (e.g., most flagrantly, bullying). We need not wait, that is, if we comprehend the ideational mechanics of construction, where communication and cognition (App. III) do key work, providing minding with an involve x grasp capability (, ) to guide moving’s involve x grasp capacity.

C&C’s pointed questions provide us with something of a skyhook, enabling us to rise above and out of the stream of circumstantial change long enough to execute compositional change. Our results have been spectacular. But, in light of the problems remaining, we still have much inventing (not least, linguistic) to do in order to enhance the strength of the C&C capabilities.

BFPS’s structure of process details construction’s components, the difference makers we can use to make a difference in and by the steps we take (see ). With that specification, learning becomes a plausible helper as a path to understanding. And to aid instruction we can even co-opt decision making (in a “mitochondrial” way) so that behavior’s difference makers constitute a palette from which to select compositional components to choreograph behavioral molecules. (Imagine a set of building blocks for serious play, in which the block faces show representations of ATIT components, communicative acts [e.g., points FOR whom: self, other, both], and cognitive element and relation options. See drawings in App. III. [If not physical blocks, then a software-furnished repertoire for computer-assisted use.])

Balance Requisite: Balance in the step differs significantly from balance in the body. The body is capacity-equipped, lack of trauma permitting, to return to a stable equilibrium, its former condition. But, as Easton has pointed out, neutral equilibrium is not to be overlooked, where equilibrium is to be found but not at the same place as it was before. Step equilibrium is like that. We need balance as we act and after we have acted – sort of like not staggering while we walk and not tipping over while we stand. (See App. V.)

Imbalance, it turns out, is a serious problem in behavior – for adults as well as children. Too much emphasis may be given one of a dynamic pair (e.g., elementary over basic) or triad (adopt over adept and/or adapt). Extremism carries the emphatic effort even farther, and lends itself to intolerance, partisanship or worse. What’s worse? In respect of the Nature of Things, this constitutes tangential behavior, akin in consequence to intellectual tool impediments, closing down our minding, blinding us to possibility.

For the child/student the demand for the balance requisite, like its dynamics, may be obscure at best. In the former case dynamic effort may not be forthcoming. Escape may be the order of the day. The occasionally observed dynamic pair may come across, perhaps, as an existential dilemma or a trade-off – or, as above, as an irreconcilable dichotomy (which might melt away in a more encompassing view of behavior and the Nature of Things). In the latter case, the student may make no distinction (e.g., between need and want) in violation of their functional independence, or perhaps miss potential complementarity (e.g., capacity plus capability), or neglect possible interdependency (e.g., agreements that enable understanding and understanding that enables agreement).

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What of other stakeholders’ efforts? How helpful are they? Do they see what helping is all about? Do they focus on student effort at all? How well do they understand the concept of engagement? Do they have a strategy for capability development, centered on behavioral necessity’s requisites and imperatives? Or are they focused on tactical considerations: Are rewards or punishments the more helpful to student effort? Does entertainment stimulate student effort? Is there a pill for inattention?

(c) 2009 R. F. Carter


FOOTNOTES (RELATED MATERIALS):
  1. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  2. C-8. Tertiary reads and tells
  3. App. I: Helping
  4. Topic III: The Nature of Things
  5. Topic IV: Impediments
  6. Topic X: Construction Imperative
  7. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  8. Topic I: Two problems, two solutions
  9. Topic I: Two problems, two solutions
  10. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  11. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  12. C-8. Tertiary reads and tells
  13. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  14. Topic II: All That It Takes (ATIT)
  15. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  16. Topic II: All That It Takes (ATIT)
  17. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  18. Topic VII: Functional Requisite
  19. Topic X: Construction Imperative
  20. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  21. App. I: Helping
  22. Topic I: Two problems, two solutions
  23. Topic I: Two problems, two solutions
  24. Topic I: Two problems, two solutions
  25. Topic III: The Nature of Things
  26. Topic I: Two problems, two solutions
  27. Topic II: All That It Takes (ATIT)
  28. Topics: Introduction - Quality of Life
  29. C-8. Tertiary reads and tells
  30. Topic III: The Nature of Things
  31. Topics: Introduction - Quality of Life
  32. Topic VI: Control Imperative
  33. Topic IX: Evaluation Imperative
  34. Topic VI: Control Imperative
  35. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  36. Topic VII: Functional Requisite
  37. Topic I: Two problems, two solutions
  38. Topic I: Two problems, two solutions
  39. Topic II: All That It Takes (ATIT)
  40. Topic III: The Nature of Things
  41. App. II: Community
  42. Topic VIII: Singularity Requisite
  43. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  44. Topic IX: Evaluation Imperative
  45. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  46. Topic X: Construction Imperative
  47. Topic II: All That It Takes (ATIT)
  48. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  49. Topic II: All That It Takes (ATIT)
  50. Topic I: Two problems, two solutions
  51. Topic III: The Nature of Things
  52. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  53. App. III: Communication and Cognition
  54. Topic VII: Functional Requisite
  55. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  56. Topic X: Construction Imperative
  57. C-11. Control foci
  58. App. III: Communication and Cognition
  59. Topic IX: Evaluation Imperative
  60. App. V: Health
  61. Topic IV: Impediments
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