May 222019
 

SCIENCE: WHAT IS IT?

Introduction

I am a scientist, raised in a family of scientists. My father, Boris, was a famous scientist, and I have three cousins who are scientists. Due to my father’s prominence in the field of physics, I got to spend a fair amount of time in the presence of other experienced and accomplished scientists. So I think I have some knowledge about science, as well as its uses and limitations.

In recent years I’ve become increasingly convinced that the American population is being deliberately deceived about the very nature of science and have decried the logical consequences of that deceit. It’s as though the educational system has been persuaded to withhold from the student body the most vital information that people need if they are to make any sense of the world around them. Critical thinking is under attack. Logic and reason are out the window. And some of the most bizarre concepts are gaining popularity – concepts that, when embraced, cause the average mind to become incapable of simple reason. I regard this as very unfortunate for those caught up in it, and it is my hope to restore some scientific sanity in the course of writing this article.

Historical Perspective

The world of scientists has a distinct culture which gradually changes as new true information comes to light and new technical words are added to science vocabularies. In spite of these changes, some of the basic language of science has become a permanent feature of our culture because thousands of scientists in interrelated fields find that language to be consistently useful. That basic language embodies a number of powerful definitions and conceptual tools without which our analytic process would cease to be science. And it is the logical and mathematical consistency of that set of conceptual tools that is currently under attack.

The fundamentals of science are very simple. Understanding them requires no math whatever. If you can enjoy reading a novel you can understand the foundations of science. Here they are, numbered for future reference.

1. Truth and Falsehood

The methodology we call “science” has but one purpose – to distinguish true information from false information. Many other purposes have been attributed to science, and it does support other purposes; but in and of itself, its sole purpose is just to divide information into two categories – True and False.

In order to understand how science accomplishes this feat, it is necessary to define another concept: Intelligence. There are two logically equivalent ways of doing this.

A. Intelligence is the ability to predict and control events in the discernible universe.

B. Intelligence is the ability to initiate and maintain causal relationships between events in the discernible universe.

With intelligence so defined, we can now define the terms “true information” and “false information.”

True information is that which, when believed to be true, increases the intelligence of the believer – and which, when believed to be false diminishes the intelligence of the believer.

False information has the opposite effect. When believed to be true it diminishes the intelligence of the believer and when believed to be false increases said intelligence.

The usual way of determining the truth of a statement is by means of experiment, though statements that are internally inconsistent are deemed false without resort to experimentation. So, for example, the statement, “2+2=4 AND 2+2=5” would be considered false without experimental testing.

2. Methodology

Most people are aware that in the most simplistic descriptions of science, the methodology employed consists of defining a hypothesis (statement) about an observable phenomenon and then testing that hypothesis experimentally. If the results of the experiment are repeatable and replicable by multiple observers and the results are consistent,the hypothesis is promoted to the status of a theory, in which case the hypothesis has been heuristically accepted as True information. While this description of the scientific method suffices for the novice, it is not quite adequate for a sophisticated scientist. To complete the explanation of the scientific method we need to recognize that an experiment is presumed to answer a question about the adequacy of the hypothesis under the conditions to which the hypothesis is presumed to apply. To do this properly, in the context of “science” the question to be answered must meet the criterion known as the Operational Point of View.

3. Operational Point of View

The experiment performed to test a hypothesis has to answer a properly formed scientific question, and not all questions meet this criterion. Think of an experiment as an operation that answers a question. When the question is of the form, “Is statement X true?”, we do not have a properly formed scientific question, because to be “scientific” a question must define, or at least imply, the specific operation that is to be performed in order to determine the answer.

So, for example, the question, “What time is it?” is not a scientific question; whereas the question “What time is it according to my mechanical clock?” is scientific, because it defines the operation or experiment that is to give us the answer. In this case the experiment consists of reading the dial on a particular clock.

This definition of a scientific question is often regarded by scientists as the “Basic Philosophy of Science”.

4. Theoretical Domains

Still another important understanding shared by all knowledgeable scientists is the concept of the Theoretical Domain. A theory is not expected to apply everywhere, at all times, and under all conditions. So to be scientific a theory must include a definition of the physical domain or realm to which it applies.

So, for example, the theory known as Newtonian Mechanics applies to objects that Isaac Newton was able to observe – objects like planets, apples, pulleys, buckets, and bullets. What these objects have in common is that they have “mass”; their speed is very slow compared with the speed of light; and they are very large (massive) compared with electrons and atoms. For objects that don’t fit these criteria, different theories must be applied. The theory of Electrodynamics works really well for things that move at speeds approaching the speed of light; and the theory of Quantum Mechanics works very reliably to describe the behavior of very small things, like photons and electrons.

5. Cause and Effect

Until the appearance of Quantum Mechanics, scientists of every variety recognized the “law” of cause and effect. The basics of this constraint are that every event has a cause, and that the cause must always precede the effect. The usual description of a causal relationship between two events requires that the earlier event transfers energy or momentum to the time and location of the second event. This presumption applies perfectly to both the Newtonian domain and the Electrodynamic domain. The Quantum Mechanical domain, however, doesn’t work quite the same way, for reasons that are not altogether clear to scientists today. In the Quantum domain, highly accurate predictions can be made that do not require the same kind of causality needed in the other theories, and one can make a case to the effect that some events take place without any cause.

6. Logical and Mathematical Inference

There are phenomena in the physical universe that are not discernible to the human senses – things like energy, momentum, fields, and probability. Despite this fact, scientists regard these phenomena as part of reality, and name them accordingly. Scientists understand that their mathematical descriptions of reality are not the realities themselves – that metaphorically the map is not the territory. But as long as the resulting predictions are accurate, precise, and consistent, the mathematical constructs are usefully interchangeable with direct observation.

As an example, consider the motion of a large solid object such as a baseball. As long as the object undergoes no rotation, its motion in response to (causal) external forces can be accurately predicted by calculating the trajectory of a particle of equal mass located at a point within the object called the “center of mass” of the object. The mass of the object is not all located at a point, but the calculation yields an extremely accurate prediction of how the center of the object will move. This is particularly useful when calculating missile ballistics and planetary orbits.

7. Indirect Observation

In science it is always satisfying when observations can be made with the unaided “naked eye”. Unfortunately, there are many phenomena of interest to scientists that do not permit this approach. On the bright side, scientists have created tools and instruments that extend the capabilities of the human senses in a variety of ways. Microscopes, telescopes, light-sensitive films, scintillation counters, X-ray scanners, dosimeters, and radar detectors are just a few of these devices. In science it is assumed that observations and measurements made by such indirect means provide valid information as long as the inherent limitations of the devices used are taken into account and the logical inferences relating the devices to the real world are themselves predictably consistent.

8. Other Considerations

There are a few other ideas implicit in the scientific method. For instance it is assumed that space exists and that it is the same everywhere – so that the physics and chemistry that are applicable here work the same way elsewhere. Until we have reason to think otherwise, we presume that causality works differently at the quantum level and we look forward hopefully to a day when we can resolve the Gödelian paradoxes that have prevented us from creating a theory that combines Newtonian Mechanics, Electrodynamics, Quantum Mechanics, and General Relativity in a single unified structure. Science acknowledges many unanswered questions – some as simple as, “Why do electrons all have the same charge?” – a still unanswered question after 100 years or so of inquiry.

Science Under Attack

It is widely understood that western schools, including private schools to some degree, are “dumbing the kids down” – withholding important information about money, ethics, law, government, and science. Instead of creating innovative pioneering entrepreneurs, the schools are, for the most part, producing obedient employees incapable of creative thinking – most of them convinced that their emotional reactions are far more important than facts, logic, and rational inquiry. Observing this, I used to think it was just due to the bureaucratization of the school system hierarchy – the gradual elimination of corrective feedback that accelerated with the advent of the “common core” curriculum. Now I’ve come to believe something even much more sinister is taking place.

It has been apparent to me for quite some time that the control of the world has been taken over by a gang of psychopathic bandits who plunder more than 99% of the resources that each of us would have had access to were it not for their depredations. Most of us are literally living off the crumbs that fall from their tables. At this point I am very suspicious of the possibility that they are buying the work of some really pernicious propagandists to discourage critical thinking on an enormous scale. The specific activities to which I am referring are popularly referred to as “Flat Earth” and “Rational Science”.

The Flat Earth Proposition

I trust most people are aware that there is a growing number of people who claim that the earth is not a spinning, almost spherical ball exhibiting the characteristics described by astrophysics, solid geometry, and Newtonian Mechanics. No no. We are to believe that that model of the earth is a hoax created by NASA – and the basic “argument” to that effect is that government (especially NASA) lies. This statement is credible to many because government is primarily comprised of politicians who lie all the time. Based on video evidence I’ve seen, I think it likely that NASA never made it to the moon, which of course would mean they lied about it. But the fact that NASA lies doesn’t prove that the earth is flat – and neither do any of the other “proofs” that flat earth proponents set forth. Most of those “proofs” ignore all of the characteristics outlined above that define science.

The really intriguing feature of this phenomenon is the way flat earthers deride, belittle, and make fun of anyone who engages with them in the spirit of collaborative scientific investigation. In my 70+ years as a scientist, that is something I’ve never witnessed before. It seems in some way pathological – but there it is.

Rational Science”

I recently encountered another group that seem intent on discrediting science and that engages in ridicule, ad hominem attacks, and actual name-calling when asked politely to answer a few reasonable questions about their “rational scientific method”. My core observation of this group’s idea is that it violates almost all the definitive criteria that I’ve outlined above as fundamental to what I know as science. They claim (falsely) that the purpose of science is to “explain” how the world works; but the only explaining they recognize as valid is a kind of Newtonian intuition that can only be applied to objects of known shape and position.

While there are some interesting features to this fantasy, it does nothing to increase intelligence while systematically misleading the reader as to the nature of science. The most problematic feature is the fact that it uses many words commonly used in science and claims to be science, when in fact it is not – at least not as I’ve defined science above, and not as scientists have defined it for hundreds of years. I suggested to a “rational science” forum that their interesting new discipline should perhaps be called Gaedence instead of science – in honor of Bill Gaede, the method’s chief creator – who called me names when I started asking questions based on my understanding of what science is. I disengaged from that conversation as soon as the ridicule began, knowing that further inquiry would be futile – that I was confronting a propagandist, not a scientist.

Conclusion

Science, as I’ve defined it above, is the best, most accurate, most reliable means humans have created to distinguish true information from false information. So concern about the possible disenfranchisement of science and scientists is something to be taken seriously.

To that end I would pose the question, “Who stands to gain if people distrust science or are confused about what it is or why it is needed”?

I speculate that those individuals who are spending billions of dollars to suppress truth itself are behind this evil trend. We know who some of these people are. They are the politicians, the professional liars who are supporting, condoning, and implementing the current massive attack on truth and those who tell the truth. They are, however, the robotic servants of another group – the ultra-wealthy bankers and industrialists who own the world and who are intent on owning the world’s people. I usually refer to this group, somewhat sarcastically, as the “nobility”, because just a few centuries ago they were the kings and high priests of the world – slaughtering their enemies and plundering the commoners. It’s the same group today. Only the labels have changed.

A world characterized by peace, prosperity, and freedom is possible, but unlikely. For it to be achieved, certain steps are necessary. Establishment of a truly free market, emancipation of the law enforcers (Yes, they too are slaves), and the worldwide proliferation of small ethical societies are the most effective outcomes available to us. There is no guarantee these goals are attainable – but there is also no guarantee that they are not.

Clearly, we dreamers who have not given up have a lot of work to do.

Titanian Academic Education Project

 

TITANIAN™ ACADEMIC EDUCATION PROJECT

Introduction

Our current educational system is fraught with many obstacles to the development of a student’s creativity. Not the least of these is the long-established custom of motivating students with rewards and punishments. Students under this system earn rewards and avoid punishments by achieving high test scores on tests that measure their ability to regurgitate old information rather than to create new information. The resulting culture instills fear in the students affected: fear of getting the “wrong” answer, fear of getting low grades, and fear of embarrassment and humiliation. Such fears inevitably limit or diminish the student’s ability to be creative, and in many instances destroys this ability utterly.

Japanese Historical Lesson

In 1950 a similar situation plagued the manufacturing industries of Japan, which were still attempting to recover from World War II. At that time Japanese industrial creativity was at an all time low, so the words “made in Japan” were considered worldwide to mean “cheap shoddy imitation”. Having little to lose, Japanese industrialists decided to apply the management methodology suggested to them by the American expert, William Edward Deming. So effective were Deming’s suggestions, which he unassumingly labeled “Statistical Quality Control”, that within five years Japanese industry had regained the respect of industrialists the world over. By 1960 Japanese industries ranked among the world’s best, and by 1965 they were outperforming their overseas competitors without exception. Clearly, this phenomenal success by Japanese industry proves that Dr. Deming’s suggestions acted as a powerful catalyst of industrial creativity.

In the years that followed, Japanese educators attempted to apply Deming’s management methodology to the field of education. But this worthy experiment failed to do for Japanese education what the preceding experiment had done for Japanese industry. We know now how it failed and how to correct the errors made in the attempt.

The Podolsky-Sulliger Contribution

In 1991 two mental health professionals, Robert E. Podolsky and Gregory R. Sulliger, were haunted by the fact that humanity is failing to evolve socially in spite of making rapid advances technologically. Seeing this situation as potentially fatal for humankind, they set out to discover what would have to happen for the trend to be reversed and for humanity to thrive in a realistically imaginable future. In 1993, after analyzing and discussing this question for two years, the two put down on paper a set of definitions and principles which, if widely adopted by our societal institutions, might suffice to ensure humanity’s long-term success as a species. They called this document the Bill of Ethics.

In 2001 it came to Podolsky’s attention that Dr. Deming’s admonitions to Japanese industry, as well as to industry generally, had a logical relationship to the Bill of Ethics. By analyzing the two sets of principles together he soon proved that Deming’s Admonitions comprise a subset of the logical consequences of the Bill of Ethics and wrote up this proof in an article called, “Dr. Deming’s Admonitions” This discovery is significant in two ways. First, it proves that application of the principles contained in the Bill of Ethics to the workings of industry produces a massive increase in that industry’s creativity and vastly increases its success, thus confirming the validity of the Bill of Ethics as applied to industry.

Secondly, Podolsky’s discovery opened the way for him to examine the Japanese’ ill-fated experiment with Demingized education through the “logical lens” of the Bill of Ethics. In doing so he quickly discovered how the Japanese had gone astray in their attempt to apply Deming’s industrial admonitions to their educational system. He then went on to derive from the Bill of Ethics a new set of Deming-esque admonitions that comprise the core of the new student-centered educational paradigm that we call the Titanian Academic Education Project. To follow his reasoning and read his conclusions, refer to “Ethical Education” reproduced below.

Conclusion

We in Titania stand ready to share with you the new educational paradigm and, should you choose to adopt it, to consult with you concerning the challenges that you will doubtlessly encounter as you begin to deploy it in practice. We are confident that if you and your colleagues learn and persevere, we may all one day live in a world of peace, love, creativity, and freedom.

ETHICAL EDUCATION
The Application of Deming
Management Methods to Education

An Excerpt from
Heart and Mind
by Robert E. Podolsky

Abstract:

This article points out briefly some of the weaknesses in the Japanese interpretation of Deming’s principles as applied to education and explains how the success of Deming’s method in industry is due mainly to the ethical principles inherent in that method.  Then a new set of Deming-style admonitions for education is derived to conform to these ethical principles and the suggestion is made that future experiments in quality-conscious education utilize these admonitions rather than Deming’s original “fourteen points”. 

Introduction

On the website of the International Journal of Educational Management appears a well written 1995 article by Kosaku Yoshida “Kosaku Yoshida”  of the School of Management, California State University, Carson, California, USA.  The article is entitled The Deming Approach to Education: A Comparative Study of the USA and Japan [1].  This article contains much that is excellent concerning the managerial principles pioneered by Dr. William Edwards Deming and proven so efficacious by the great experiment conducted by Japanese industry.  The article also explains many of the features of the Japanese system of public education, especially the relation between cooperative education as practiced in Japanese classrooms and Deming’s admonition to reduce variation in a company’s products.

It is indeed most laudable that the Japanese have the courage and wisdom to attempt applying Deming’s management methods to education; and it is most encouraging that a similar attempt is being made in some American school systems.  As Dr. Yoshida points out, however, the Japanese educational system is not without its flaws.  It is desirable therefore that those wishing to emulate the Japanese attempt at Deming-style education be aware of the mistakes that have been made by the Japanese in this attempt; and hopefully avoid duplicating the mistakes along with the successful elements of the method.

In the present article I point out briefly some of the weaknesses in the Japanese interpretation of Deming’s principles as applied to education and explain how the success of Deming’s method in industry is due mainly to the ethical principles inherent in that method.  Then I derive a new set of admonitions for education to conform to these ethical principles and suggest that future experiments in quality-conscious education utilize these admonitions rather than Deming’s original “fourteen points”.

The Power of Dr. Deming’s Method

As the Japanese have proven industrially there can be no doubt that the Deming management method is powerful and effective; in fact the most successful approach to industrial management in existence today.  This fact is widely known.  Not so well understood is the source of this managerial power.  Many newcomers to Deming’s methodology have assumed that the power is derived from the mathematics tying managerial statistics to measurable observables that characterize the performance of the system under scrutiny.  This assumption is false.  While measurement and mathematical precision are necessary to the successful application of the Deming method they are not sufficient.  They are artifacts of the system; but they are not the source of its power.

As I have suggested elsewhere, the source of the power of Dr. Deming’s admonitions as applied to industry is the fact that their application results in improved ethical relations between all the people who come in contact with one another as a result of the presence of the company using the method.  In order to apply the Deming method successfully outside the industrial realm for which it was intended the relation between Deming’s method and its underlying ethics must be clearly understood.  Only then can this powerful method be properly reformatted for use in education, government, charity, religion, and any number of other settings in which one might want to derive the benefits inherent in the method’s power.  In examining the method from this perspective we can gain a still more “profound” appreciation of the forces at work when the Deming method is properly applied.

Questions Unasked…and Unanswered

It is a substantive weakness of the Japanese educational system that the following questions have not been properly asked and answered:

· Is it optimal that the “product” of Japanese education is competent (high-scoring) workers?
· If the “customer” is industry; who ultimately pays the costs and what are they?
· If the supplier is the student’s family, what is the quid pro quo?
· What is the competitive significance of the fact that cooperative groups evolve leaders?
· How are cooperatively taught children to learn to compete?
· Why change from cooperative education at lower levels to competitive college entrance later?
· What is the significance of the existence of “prestigious schools” successful competition for which confers financial rewards?
· What does it mean if variation of student performance is made less than variation of innate ability?

Omissions in Dr. Yoshida’s Article

It is possible that the Japanese have already considered the following points; but Dr. Yoshida’s article does not discuss them; and they are critical for optimization of the Deming-based educational system:

  • Until the ultimate purpose of education is well defined and the supplier / “manufacturer” / customer roles properly established (or dropped altogether) it is inappropriate to define what process corresponds to reduction of variation in the “product”.
  • Deming’s admonitions pertain to manufacturing; but not necessarily to education.  Translation from one realm to the other is more complex than treated in the article. In education maximization of academic test performance does not necessarily optimize the system; in fact probably not.
  • Before a system can be optimized strategically via the Deming method it must be optimized ethically.  If this is not done the system will amplify ethical weaknesses and eventually destroy itself.
  • The source of value in the Deming method is the fact that when applied in an industrial setting it adds positive ethical features to systems that are otherwise often devoid of true ethical controls.
  • Deming’s admonitions are shown elsewhere to be the logical consequences of a more general set of ethical principles (The Bill of Ethics)More about this is described below.
  • To translate the Deming method into the educational realm I suggest it is necessary to derive educational admonitions from the more general Bill of Ethics.
  • Competition is an important part of life and a cornerstone of evolution.  Ethical schools must provide an ethical means for children to learn to participate in competition.

Definitions
Throughout the rest of this article repeated mention will be made of several terms that must be defined at the outset.

  • Dr. Deming ’s Admonitions: I use this expression to include the original “Fourteen Points” that Deming called to the attention of American industry in combination with both the “Seven Deadly Diseases” that he said plagued western businesses and with the “Four Obstacles” that he said must be overcome to make an industrial company function optimally.  For details of these twenty-five admonitions I refer the reader to page 34 of Mary Walton’s excellent book for beginners in this field [2]. See also the previous chapter of this book.
  • The Ethics: In its simplest form this expression can be said to refer in this article to the definition of an ethical act and the logical consequences thereof.  For an extensive explanation of these terms I refer the reader to Book 2 of this series.  Briefly I choose to define an ethical act as any act that increases creativity, and/or any of its logical equivalents (see below), for at least one person (including the person acting) without limiting or diminishing creativity for anyone.

From the above definition the Bill of Ethics deduces the ten main principles needed to make ethical day-to-day decisions on a practical basis.  It also delineates the relationship between ethics and law implied by the definition above.  At times I will refer to the Bill of Ethics and its logical consequences as “the Ethics”.

  • Creativity may be seen as the product of ethical awareness and intelligence, as symbolized by the equation: C=EI.  As such it may be increased in two ways; by increasing someone’s ethical awareness (or equivalently their degree of personal evolution, love, and/or growth) or by increasing the intelligence of someone who doesn’t use their intelligence destructively (say by increasing their access to objective truth, their grasp of true information, their access to energy, or their freedom); where by intelligence generally I mean the ability to predict and control the environment or to initiate and sustain causal relationships between events in the observable world. Hence “increasing creativity” encompasses any increase in any of the resources listed above or in any other resource that increases awareness or intelligence.
  • Logical Equivalents of Creativity:  By this expression we refer to those resources that must increase when creativity is increased and decrease when creativity is diminished, or vice versa, as explained above.  Conversely when any logically equivalent resource is changed creativity must change accordingly. There is no limit to how many such equivalencies one may list.
  • Persons or People: Since ethical discrimination only applies to the acts of people or persons (the acts of young children and animals, for example, are ethically neutral or natural; neither ethical nor unethical) it is necessary that we define what we mean by “person” in this context.  I call a “person” any being that possesses awareness of his or her (or its) own awareness.  Thus dolphins, whales, elephants, and chimpanzees would be included in this definition; but chickens and butterflies would not.  In the not-too-distant future there are likely to be machines that qualify as “persons” in this sense.

Deming and Ethics

Now we are ready to discuss the relationship between Dr. Deming’s admonitions and the ethics of business.  I have shown elsewhere that the entire Deming methodology as defined by the Admonitions can be proven to be a subset of the logical consequences of the Ethics.  This makes it obvious that at their core the Admonitions are ethical admonitions rather than statistical or technical admonitions.  In other words, if an industrial company were to adopt the Bill of Ethics as the keystone of its bylaws, and if the terms of the bylaws were strictly enforced, the company would have to be managed in accordance with the Deming Admonitions.  And it is possible that other admonitions might also be derived that are not contained in the twenty-five principles set down by Dr. Deming.  But at the very least his admonitions would have to be upheld.  Let’s see what the implications are for education.

Adapting the Admonitions to Education

Since Dr. Deming’s Admonitions are logical consequences of The Ethics as applied to industry, there will be nothing lost ethically if we properly adapt the admonitions to the educational environment.  In the previous chapter I restated the Admonitions as follows with no loss of information and none added to the Deming formulation:

1. Adopt the new philosophy. Accept the Admonitions.
2. Take action. Accomplish the transformation [implied by the admonitions].
3. Commit to constantly and forever improve the product, the service, and the system that provides them.
4. Institute vigorous education, training, and retraining of workers to do their jobs. Stress teamwork and statistical technique.

5. Institute leadership.

5.a. Help people do a better job.
5.b. Encourage pride of workmanship.
5.c. Provide both opportunity and security, thereby reducing mobility of management.
5.d. Engage in long range planning.
5.e. Improve communication and cooperation between staff areas and between people.

6.  Do what works; stop doing what doesn’t work.

6.a. Stop mass inspection.
6.b. Stop basing long range decisions on short term considerations.
6.c. Stop trying to motivate educators with slogans, targets, and exhortations.
6.d. Stop relying on technology to solve problems; but incorporate it into the methodology
6.e. Stop following examples; develop specific solutions.
6.f. Stop purchasing based on price tag alone.
6.g. Drive out fear; stop intimidating your personnel.
6.g(1) Stop using numerical quotas, tests, and grades as “motivation”.
6.g(2) Stop using performance evaluations or reviews.
Clearly, Admonitions 1., 2., 4., and 5. are applicable and usable in their current forms.  Admonition 6. is applicable, but detailed admonitions 6.a. through 6.g. require some changes; so for the time being we will use the following list as a starting point for the new Educational Admonitions:

1. Adopt the new philosophy. Accept the Admonitions.
2. Take action. Accomplish the transformation [implied by the admonitions].
3. Institute vigorous education, training, and retraining of workers to do their jobs. Stress teamwork and statistical technique.
4. Institute leadership.

4.a. Help people do a better job.
4.b. Encourage pride of workmanship.
4.c. Provide both opportunity and security, thereby reducing mobility of management.
4.d. Engage in long range planning.
4.e. Improve communication and cooperation between staff areas and between people.

5. Do what works; stop doing what doesn’t work.

Now let’s consider Admonition 3.: Commit to constantly and forever improve the product, the service, and the system that provides them.  This is the crux of the challenge in adapting Dr. Deming’s Admonitions to the educational arena.  We need to know answers to these questions:

1.    What is the product?
2.    What is the service?
3.    Who is being served?
4.    What is the system that provides the product/service?
5.    Is a business model, involving products, services, providers, and customers, appropriate to education?

What Education Is

As young children we are told that we have to go to school to learn the skills we will need as adults in today’s world; to get jobs; to make a living.  In effect we are told that it is we who are being served by education.  Most us of accept this explanation; but few of us believe it.  And still fewer thrive on the experience.  The reality is that most children don’t like school.  They endure it.  Later they rationalize the coercion of school by saying, “It was for our own good; we couldn’t be making a living without it; and so forth.”  Then they go out and tell their own children the same lame excuses.  Who benefits from these lies?

Albert Einstein once compared attendance at public school with the experience of a ravenous tiger that is force-fed until it has no appetite left at all.  Children, in case the reader has forgotten, come into the world with an intense appetite for information… useful, true information.  This appetite is called “curiosity”.  Yet by the age of eighteen most children have had most of their curiosity drilled out of them.  They don’t love to learn any more.  What kind of “education” does this to children?  How can it possibly serve them?  In fact it doesn’t.  Why then has our educational system become what it is today?

I maintain that a publicly funded school system that trains competent workers to participate in the nation’s industries and which sorts and pigeonholes them by subject matter and grades predominantly benefits the prospective employers.  By perusing diplomas and grade transcripts the prospective employer can identify those individuals most likely to meet their needs at minimal cost for testing and training.  Who said it was the responsibility of the public, the student, the parents of the student, or the educational institution to spare the employer such costs?  Yet this is what the public has accepted the world over.  But it isn’t the employee who gets to enjoy the profits that a business generates; it is the employer or business owner.

Like it or not this is the system that is.  As education changed from the “broadening experience” of Liberal Arts enjoyed by the well-to-do to the job-training experience almost universally experienced today, the customer for education shifted from the individual student to the future employer.  Seen as a business, today’s educational system manufactures workers for the use of employers.  The suppliers of raw materials are the parents of the students and, as far as publicly funded education is concerned, the taxpayer foots the bill.  Note too that most taxpayers don’t get to spend the corporate profits generated by the “use” of the product workers.  In most situations it is the customer who pays for the product and enjoys its use.  Somehow in this situation the taxpayer has been duped.  Surely this is not ethical.  Let’s not be fooled by rationalizations about how the taxpayer benefits from the resulting “good economy”; or how the public owns the stock that represents the hiring corporation; or any of the rest of such nonsense that we are commonly told.  The vast majority of taxpayers don’t receive any dividends.  A tiny minority enjoys the benefit of vast corporate dividends.  The rest of us just go along with the plan and facilitate the continuation of what is.

So we are ready now to examine education through the lens of The Ethics and to discover what education could be if it were truly ethical; as we might imagine Dr. Deming would have admonished us to make it if he had applied his principles to education rather than to industry.

Educational Ethics

Article 3 of the Bill of Ethics enumerates the following principles that are logical consequences of our definition of an ethical act and which apply directly to education:

3.1    …to act ethically each person must do their utmost to maximize creativity and its equivalents.
3.2    Ethical actions always increase someone’s creativity;
3.3    Ethical actions never destroy, limit or diminish anyone’s creativity;
3.4    From the foregoing we infer that unethical means can never achieve ethical ends, this principle rejecting the notion that we  can ethically sacrifice the creativity of the individual for the “greater good” of society, the “many”, and so forth; from which it follows that:
3.5    Unethical means always produce unethical results (ends); trivial means always produce trivial results at best; and similarly
3.6    Means which are not ethical ends in themselves are never ethical;
3.7    From the foregoing it is also apparent that inaction is unethical. Creativity cannot be passively expanded or increased… this must  be done actively to overcome entropic destruction inherent in the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This principle is basically equivalent to the adage that, “For evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.”;
3.8    It also follows that it is unethical to tolerate unethical behavior. To do so is to violate Section 3.7 above. For this reason we are ethically bound to defend ourselves and others actively against injury or deceit when we or they are imminently imperiled by   another’s unethical behavior; from which:

3.8.1 It follows that it is unethical to augment the creativity of anyone whom one reasonably believes will use such augmented resources unethically… and it is therefore ethical to withhold the augmentation of creative resources from anyone whose ethical commitment one reasonably distrusts; and furthermore:

3.9 It is ethical to learn and unethical to be certain. When we close our minds on a subject we cease to learn… to increase our own awareness and creativity. Learning always increases creativity; and
3.10 It is ethical to doubt. Ceasing to have doubts about a subject we become certain about it and have ceased to learn. Doubts create new questions …some of which yield new answers. Doubt is one of the cornerstones of creativity.

Before attempting to expand the Admonitions in the realm of education it is important that we create a suitable context for this endeavor.  To do this we must examine the ethical role of education in the activities of humanity.  If education must be seen as a means to provide industry a skilled work force (a goal which in and of itself is not necessarily unethical) then Article 3.6 above requires that education also be an ethical end in itself.  Article 3.9 tells us that it is ethical to learn, therefore as long as education is designed to increase creativity it is also ethical to teach.  There is no reason why education should not provide competent workers, if students desire to become competent workers and if we decide that fulfillment of this goal does not interfere with Article 3.1 which calls for the maximization of creativity.  However, if as a species we decided to take seriously the notion that ethical education is a valid end in itself, many educational practices would change, probably for the better.

So let’s examine this possibility.  What would happen if we put aside the goal of a skilled work force, maximized creativity, and observed the consequences?  Since all wealth and prosperity is the product of creativity we might find ourselves with a more skilled work force than we have now.  For starters we could abandon the industrial model upon which the Deming method is based.  We would no longer have to think in terms of suppliers, manufacturers, customers, etc.  Our goal would be simply to help our children and our youth to become the most creative adults possible.

Now the admonitions to be derived from the Deming model, as focused by the Bill of Ethics might look like this:

1. Adopt the new philosophy. Accept the Admonitions.
2. Take action. Accomplish the transformation [implied by the admonitions.
3. Institute vigorous education, training, and retraining of teachers and administrators to do their jobs more creatively. Stress teamwork and statistical technique.
4. Commit to constantly and forever expand the students’ creativity and improve the system that delivers this service.

4.a. Stimulate student curiosity at every opportunity.
4.b. Satisfy student curiosities in ways that further stimulate curiosity.
4.c. Make all information resources available to the student.
4.d. Teach students to doubt and to test the validity of new information.
4.e. Teach students the scientific method.
4.f. Share with students at the elementary level the excitement that a subject’s devotees experience at the most advance level.  Continue this process on an ongoing basis.
4.g. Eliminate all grading and rating activities for students and teachers alike.
4.h. Find ways to teach competition skills without making the educational  process competitive or stigmatic.
4.i.  Encourage the development of better teaching methods, teaching aids, and text books.
4.j. Expand the opportunity for learning experiences outside the classroom.
4.k. Involve the community in the teaching role with extensive “field trips.”
4.l.  Reward community members for participating in “field education.”
4.m. Teach students cooperative study and learning techniques.
4.n. Invent more such techniques.  Encourage such innovation.  Reward it.
4.o. Instill in every student excitement and joy in learning.
4.p. A teacher’s work with a student is done when the   student is so motivated to seek new learning, and is able to find it on his own, so that the teacher is no longer needed.

5. Institute leadership.

5.a. Help teachers do a better job. For starters, improve their education.
5.b. Encourage pride of teaching and learning.
5.c.  Provide teachers and administrators both opportunity and security, thereby reducing mobility of the educational force.
5.d. Engage in long range planning.
5.e. Improve communication and cooperation between staff and between all people involved in the education process.
5.f. Reward teachers for helping other teachers to be more effective.
5.g. Teach businesses better ways to evaluate the potential of “unsorted” job applicants who come without diplomas or transcripts.  Insist they bear the burden of paying for this activity.

6. Do what works; stop doing what doesn’t work.

6.a. Drive out fear; stop intimidating your teachers and students.
6.b. Stop using grades and ratings as “motivation”.
6.c. Stop using performance evaluations or reviews
6.d. Stop making long-term decisions based on short-term financial considerations.
6.e. Develop ways to measure the performance of the educational system without violating any of the foregoing admonitions.  Use this information to develop statistical models to further improve the system.

Who Says It’s Impossible?

Obviously there will be many naysayers responding to this set of Educational Admonitions.  But Dr. Deming would have liked it and seen its value.  You will note that most of the people who will object to this method are people with a vested interest in keeping education the way it is today.  Either their prestige or their finances will be seen as adversely affected if these admonitions are adopted.  The adoption of such a set of admonitions either here in the U.S. or overseas will meet with four kinds of resistance.

First, some who simply lack imagination and don’t want to change will say the transformation of education along these lines is impossible; it can’t work.   They will offer any number of spurious reasons why this is so; but the reality is simply that they don’t want to change and grow.  They have reputations and tenured teaching positions that they don’t want to risk losing; and they don’t know if they could be successful in the new educational environment that would result from the adoption of this new model.

Second, the corporate institutions that have been getting a free ride from public (tax-funded) education will bad-mouth this model even though their wealth is all built on creativity and this model maximizes creativity.

And third, since public education is a function of government, often delegated to incompetent local boards of education, the successful adoption of this methodology could have enormous implications suggesting the restructuring of many, if not all, parts of government.  Since government too is now mostly in existence to serve the big corporations, any such change would be perceived as a threat to people in many parts of government.  In this case not only are prestige and money at stake, but political power also.  This is likely to be the most vigorous source of resistance to such change.

And finally, there will be massive bureaucratic resistance to this idea. To the best of this author’s knowledge bureaucracy is the greatest source of unethical behavior on the face of our planet.  This certainly applies to every government on the planet and is the main reason so many governments have failed historically.  From the fall of ancient Rome to the recent demise of the Soviet Union the main problem has been bureaucracy.  Deming-style education will not really thrive until/unless government itself can be made less bureaucratic.

Conclusion: In his excellent article, Grading…The Deming Way [3], Del Nelson, Professor of Management at American River College, Sacramento, California asks,

“Where can we find the educational institution dedicated to inducing “joy in learning,” collaboration on a win/win basis to build a “better world” (improving health, declining poverty , decrease in bias, etc.), learning the System of Profound Knowledge, and dedicated to leading the student(s) to the path of never-ending-improvement in every facet of their lives? Our educational problems are only made worse by grades, grades on the curve, honor roles, competitive athletics, or ranking/testing of schools, none of which will support (in fact, they will directly prevent) attainment of any such system related/driven goals.”

In agreeing with this, I see that the Japanese have not gone far enough in applying the Deming Method to education.  Their system will ultimately fail unless the same ethical principles are applied to education and other parts of government that are applied to their industry.  The same is equally true in the U.S. and throughout the world.  We can only wonder where in the world these realities will first be recognized and acted upon creatively.

Having considered the Titanian Academic Education Project, let’s now turn our attention to the Titanian Law Project.

[1] Kosaku Yoshida, The Deming Approach to Education: A Comparative Study of the USA and Japan , International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 8 No. 5, 1994, pp. 29-40, © MCB University Press, 0951-354X

[2] Mary Walton , The Deming Management Method, Putnam Publishing Group, New York, 1986.

[3] Del Nelson, Grading the Deming Way,

 

© 2001 by Robert E. Podolsky