The Fear of Admonition Seems Widespread

This is a problem because it is the constant search for approval which is the glue which holds societies together. Countering (and balancing) that must be the underlying threat of disapproval.

If it becomes understood by the child that disapproval is nonexistent – or worse that disapproval itself will be considered counter-societal and crushed – a considerable societal imbalance results. This may well promote lethargy or social fractionation.

By JOANNE LIPMAN

I had a teacher once who called his students “idiots” when they screwed up. He was our orchestra

conductor, a fierce Ukrainian immigrant named Jerry Kupchynsky, and when someone played out of

tune, he would stop the entire group to yell, “Who eez deaf in first violins!?” He made us rehearse until

our fingers almost bled. He corrected our wayward hands and arms by poking at us with a pencil.

Today, he’d be fired. But when he died a few years ago, he was celebrated: Forty years’ worth of

former students and colleagues flew back to my New Jersey hometown from every corner of the

country, old instruments in tow, to play a concert in his memory. I was among them, toting my long-
neglected viola. When the curtain rose on our concert that day, we had formed a symphony orchestra

the size of the New York Philharmonic.

Mr. K began teaching at East Brunswick High School when it opened in 1958.

I was stunned by the outpouring for the gruff old teacher we knew as Mr. K. But I was equally struck

by the success of his former students. Some were musicians, but most had distinguished themselves

in other fields, like law, academia and medicine. Research tells us that there is a positive correlation

between music education and academic achievement. But that alone didn’t explain the belated surge

of gratitude for a teacher who basically tortured us through adolescence.

We’re in the midst of a national wave of self-recrimination over the U.S. education system. Every day

there is hand-wringing over our students falling behind the rest of the world. Fifteen-year-olds in the

U.S. trail students in 12 other nations in science and 17 in math, bested by their counterparts not just

in Asia but in Finland, Estonia and the Netherlands, too. An entire industry of books and consultants

has grown up that capitalizes on our collective fear that American education is inadequate and asks

what American educators are doing wrong.

I would ask a different question. What did Mr. K do right? What can we learn from a teacher

whose methods fly in the face of everything we think we know about education today, but who was

undeniably effective?

Luci Gutiérrez

As it turns out, quite a lot. Comparing Mr. K’s methods with the latest findings in fields from music to

math to medicine leads to a single, startling conclusion: It’s time to revive old-fashioned education.

Not just traditional but old-fashioned in the sense that so many of us knew as kids, with strict

discipline and unyielding demands. Because here’s the thing: It works.

Now I’m not calling for abuse; I’d be the first to complain if a teacher called my kids names. But the

latest evidence backs up my modest proposal. Studies have now shown, among other things, the

benefits of moderate childhood stress; how praise kills kids’ self-esteem; and why grit is a better

predictor of success than SAT scores.

All of which flies in the face of the kinder, gentler philosophy that has dominated American education

over the past few decades. The conventional wisdom holds that teachers are supposed to tease

knowledge out of students, rather than pound it into their heads. Projects and collaborative learning

are applauded; traditional methods like lecturing and memorization—derided as “drill and kill”—are

frowned upon, dismissed as a surefire way to suck young minds dry of creativity and motivation.

But the conventional wisdom is wrong. And the following eight principles—a manifesto if you will, a

battle cry inspired by my old teacher and buttressed by new research—explain why.

1. A little pain is good for you.

Psychologist K. Anders Ericsson gained fame for his research showing that true expertise requires

about 10,000 hours of practice, a notion popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers.”

But an often-overlooked finding from the same study is equally important: True expertise requires

teachers who give “constructive, even painful, feedback,” as Dr. Ericsson put it in a 2007

Harvard Business Review article. He assessed research on top performers in fields ranging

from violin performance to surgery to computer programming to chess. And he found that all of

them “deliberately picked unsentimental coaches who would challenge them and drive them to higher

levels of performance.”

Mr. Kupchynsky helps his daughter with her bow stroke in 1966.

2. Drill, baby, drill.

Rote learning, long discredited, is now recognized as one reason that children whose families come

from India (where memorization is still prized) are creaming their peers in the National Spelling Bee

Championship. This cultural difference also helps to explain why students in China (and Chinese

families in the U.S.) are better at math. Meanwhile, American students struggle with complex math

problems because, as research makes abundantly clear, they lack fluency in basic addition and

subtraction—and few of them were made to memorize their times tables.

William Klemm of Texas A&M University argues that the U.S. needs to reverse the bias against

memorization. Even the U.S. Department of Education raised alarm bells, chastising American

schools in a 2008 report that bemoaned the lack of math fluency (a notion it mentioned no fewer than

17 times). It concluded that schools need to embrace the dreaded “drill and practice.”

3. Failure is an option.

Kids who understand that failure is a necessary aspect of learning actually perform better. In a 2012

study, 111 French sixth-graders were given anagram problems that were too difficult for them to

solve. One group was then told that failure and trying again are part of the learning process. On

subsequent tests, those children consistently outperformed their peers.

The fear, of course is that failure will traumatize our kids, sapping them of self-esteem. Wrong again.

In a 2006 study, a Bowling Green State University graduate student followed 31 Ohio band students

who were required to audition for placement and found that even students who placed lowest “did not

decrease in their motivation and self-esteem in the long term.” The study concluded that educators

need “not be as concerned about the negative effects” of picking winners and losers.

4. Strict is better than nice.

What makes a teacher successful? To find out, starting in 2005 a team of researchers led by

Claremont Graduate University education professor Mary Poplin spent five years observing 31 of

the most highly effective teachers (measured by student test scores) in the worst schools of Los

Angeles, in neighborhoods like South Central and Watts. Their No. 1 finding: “They were strict,” she

says. “None of us expected that.”

The researchers had assumed that the most effective teachers would lead students to knowledge

through collaborative learning and discussion. Instead, they found disciplinarians who relied on

traditional methods of explicit instruction, like lectures. “The core belief of these teachers was, ‘Every

student in my room is underperforming based on their potential, and it’s my job to do something about

it—and I can do something about it,'” says Prof. Poplin.

She reported her findings in a lengthy academic paper. But she says that a fourth-grader summarized

her conclusions much more succinctly this way: “When I was in first grade and second grade and third

grade, when I cried my teachers coddled me. When I got to Mrs. T’s room, she told me to suck it up

and get to work. I think she’s right. I need to work harder.”

5. Creativity can be learned.

The rap on traditional education is that it kills children’s’ creativity. But Temple University psychology

professor Robert W. Weisberg’s research suggests just the opposite. Prof. Weisberg has studied

creative geniuses including Thomas Edison, Frank Lloyd Wright and Picasso—and has concluded

that there is no such thing as a born genius. Most creative giants work ferociously hard and, through

a series of incremental steps, achieve things that appear (to the outside world) like epiphanies and

breakthroughs.

Prof. Weisberg analyzed Picasso’s 1937 masterpiece Guernica, for instance, which was painted

after the Spanish city was bombed by the Germans. The painting is considered a fresh and original

concept, but Prof. Weisberg found instead that it was closely related to several of Picasso’s earlier

works and drew upon his study of paintings by Goya and then-prevalent Communist Party imagery.

The bottom line, Prof. Weisberg told me, is that creativity goes back in many ways to the basics. “You

have to immerse yourself in a discipline before you create in that discipline. It is built on a foundation

of learning the discipline, which is what your music teacher was requiring of you.”

6. Grit trumps talent.

In recent years, University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth has studied

spelling bee champs, Ivy League undergrads and cadets at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point,

N.Y., all together, over 2,800 subjects. In all of them, she found that grit—defined as passion and

perseverance for long-term goals—is the best predictor of success. In fact, grit is usually unrelated or

even negatively correlated with talent.

Tough on the podium, Mr. K was always appreciative when he sat in the audience. Above, applauding

his students in the mid-1970s.

Prof. Duckworth, who started her career as a public school math teacher and just won a 2013

MacArthur “genius grant,” developed a “Grit Scale” that asks people to rate themselves on a dozen

statements, like “I finish whatever I begin” and “I become interested in new pursuits every few

months.” When she applied the scale to incoming West Point cadets, she found that those who

scored higher were less likely to drop out of the school’s notoriously brutal summer boot camp known

as “Beast Barracks.” West Point’s own measure—an index that includes SAT scores, class rank,

leadership and physical aptitude—wasn’t able to predict retention.

Prof. Duckworth believes that grit can be taught. One surprisingly simple factor, she says, is

optimism—the belief among both teachers and students that they have the ability to change and thus

to improve. In a 2009 study of newly minted teachers, she rated each for optimism (as measured by

a questionnaire) before the school year began. At the end of the year, the students whose teachers

were optimists had made greater academic gains.

7. Praise makes you weak…

My old teacher Mr. K seldom praised us. His highest compliment was “not bad.” It turns out he was

onto something. Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck has found that 10-year-olds praised

for being “smart” became less confident. But kids told that they were “hard workers” became more

confident and better performers.

“The whole point of intelligence praise is to boost confidence and motivation, but both were gone in

a flash,” wrote Prof. Dweck in a 2007 article in the journal Educational Leadership. “If success meant

they were smart, then struggling meant they were not.”

8.…while stress makes you strong.

A 2011 University at Buffalo study found that a moderate amount of stress in childhood promotes

resilience. Psychology professor Mark D. Seery gave healthy undergraduates a stress assessment

based on their exposure to 37 different kinds of significant negative events, such as death or illness

of a family member. Then he plunged their hands into ice water. The students who had experienced a

moderate number of stressful events actually felt less pain than those who had experienced no stress

at all.

“Having this history of dealing with these negative things leads people to be more likely to have a

propensity for general resilience,” Prof. Seery told me. “They are better equipped to deal with even

mundane, everyday stressors.”

Prof. Seery’s findings build on research by University of Nebraska psychologist Richard Dienstbier,

who pioneered the concept of “toughness”—the idea that dealing with even routine stresses makes

you stronger. How would you define routine stresses? “Mundane things, like having a hardass kind of

teacher,” Prof. Seery says.

My tough old teacher Mr. K could have written the book on any one of these principles. Admittedly,

individually, these are forbidding precepts: cold, unyielding, and kind of scary.

But collectively, they convey something very different: confidence. At their core is the belief, the

faith really, in students’ ability to do better. There is something to be said about a teacher who is

demanding and tough not because he thinks students will never learn but because he is so absolutely

certain that they will.

Decades later, Mr. K’s former students finally figured it out, too. “He taught us discipline,” explained

a violinist who went on to become an Ivy League-trained doctor. “Self-motivation,” added a tech

executive who once played the cello. “Resilience,” said a professional cellist. “He taught us how to

fail—and how to pick ourselves up again.”

Clearly, Mr. K’s methods aren’t for everyone. But you can’t argue with his results. And that’s a lesson

we can all learn from.

Ms. Lipman is co-author, with Melanie Kupchynsky, of “Strings Attached: One Tough Teacher and the

Gift of Great Expectations,” to be published by Hyperion on Oct. 1. She is a former deputy managing

editor of The Wall Street Journal and former editor-in-chief of Condé Nast Portfolio.

A version of this article appeared September 28, 2013, on page C1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall

Street Journal, with the headline: Tough Teachers Get Results.

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Predictability, profiling and patterning.

What is often regarded as “consciousness” is a limited number of senses, which allow measurement of the external environment and most particularly changes in context.

There are, of course, a large number other senses which relate to the human mileau interieu but, by convention, these are not generally regarded as “senses” and it is notable that they not included in the “five senses” so commonly regarded as being essential to the capacities of humankind.

Thus prediction is the capacity to interpret and anticipate changes in the external context, clearly a well-developed survival mechanism.

Profiling. This is the capacity of humans, now under considerable suppression and indeed legal admonition, which endeavours to allow prediction of the behaviour, of a given individual, as interpreted from the context of that individuals “group”.

Patterning differs from profiling in that it looks at patterns of behaviour in the individual, again with the purpose of predicting future behaviour, and particularly antisocial behaviour. It is therefore differs significantly from profiling in that it is confined to an assessment of a given individual. This is a daily activity of humans and pertinent to a wide number of relationships, including the financial, sexual, and protective/safety anticipation.

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The Implied Sequitur.

Law attempts to be all-encompassing, and this desperate effort is attempted by trying to cover every linguistic loop-hole.

This attempt is doomed to failure, because the more branches which are grown legal-wise, and the more leave cultivated to provide this “legal shelter”, so the more gaps are created exponentially.

Language, which is the modus operandi in human behaviour, and the inherent regulator of behaviour, operates via implication, inference and common assumption which are sub-liminal to the meaning of the word alone or when taken out-of-context.

If law is to succeed as an all-encompassing endeavour, recognition must be given to these sub-liminal qualities of human social interchange.

It is therefore suggested that the inherent and extensile (but not necessarily spoken) qualities of language be recognised by a firm legal premise, which is recognition of the implied, inherent and subliminal qualities of language. Let us call that the implied sequitur.

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What is Consciousness?

Consciousness and the human’s “soul” are considered indivisible. Consciousness is regarded as the all-pervading expression of the person and personality.

But what is consciousness? Is it all pervading? Probably not. Humans are unaware of the greatest part of their functioning persona.

Therefore, what is consciousness and what part does it play in the life of a human and in society generally?

This essay claims that consciousness is only a tiny part of overall human function: more than that, a tiny part of individual and social behaviour.

It is postulated that the function of “consciousness” is the ability to adapt to changes in context. “Consciousness” allows identification by the senses, and consequently adaptation to change. [The senses should include both the “conscious” senses and the far more numerous “sub-conscious” senses]

Consciousness therefore allows observational knowledge, now called “inductive” logic. This grand term means that it is possible to interpret cause-and-effect from (some) contextual changes such as are observed by the limited spectrum of the mechanisms of appreciation from a distance. Such observations are preserved in memory to allow a later attachment to other observed contextual variations. That has become known as “deductive” logic. In reality such logic (often grandified by pseudo-mathamatics and linguistic tags as syllogistic logic) is an everyday task, in multiple contexts, deducing casus and effect. Will I avoid this collision on the road(given my existing knowlege of closure distances and the performance of my car?

The human knows very little of their functioning mechanism, both the physiological and its extension, behavioural patterning.

An analogy would be a large aircraft with radar. The radar is designed to extract contextual changes, so necessary for survival. The aircraft can, naturally, fly perfectly well without radar. But it is the radar which allows long term survival, those deviations necessitated by the need to survive and perpetuate the existence of the far more complex aircraft. That radar is also only a tiny fragment of the total functioning aircraft.

Therefore “consciousness”, like that radar, forms only a tiny component of the entire organism – perhaps as little as 1 or 2% as a wild guess. It could be measured using listing of all physiological and behavioural mechanism present in the individual. Some skills seem to straddle, such as proprioception. However that is just another observational parameter used to adjust to contextual change (what else allows avoidance of stumbling?) and from that the concept of “body image” arises. Others, like hard-wired behaviour are interpreted (incorrectly) as conscious behaviour, and so also straddle the perceived divide between the “conscious” and the “biological”

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Ruminations on Ideology

An ideology can be looked at as a system of beliefs. This then raises questions:

  1.       An explanation as to the cause of the agglomeration of separate smaller or lesser beliefs, one to another, to form the complexity which is an ideology.
  2.      Whether the individual components of that complex can also exist independently.
  3.      Whether an outward expression of those beliefs is a necessary part of ideology.
  4.      To ask why individuals continue to adhere to those beliefs.

Approbation. The need for approval seems to be a (or the sole) driving force in integrating individuals into societal conformity (aka social cohesion) and so (ultimately) ideology. It is telling that those who seem to have a deficiency in that quality are termed “sociopaths”.

Social accord. Approval implies agreement, the social prevalence and acceptance of the concept. .

Critical Mass. To survive a belief system must reflect the opinion of a critical mass of a society (or social sub-set)

Transmission. Perhaps the mechanism of the (necessary) spread of a belief system is entirely ad hominem and is transmitted piecemeal by the beliefs of others. This has been labeled a “meme” and describes an idea or a behavioral pattern which spreads from person to person within the context of given culture

Parental influence. It seems that parental attitudes and ideology have a stronger impact than those ideological inputs of later life.

“Culture”. The distance between a “culture” and any system of beliefs needs exploration. Both involve patterns of behaviour, which depend upon, emanate from and are justified by that system of beliefs. The contentment with that system of beliefs which is “owned” by an individual seems to generate additional powerfully self-sustaining effects.

Perpetuation and Defense. Systems of beliefs, once ensconced, and widely accepted will become regarded as the optimum or “ideal”. As a result they will be defended vigorously. This might also be because they form such an immutable part of self-image and these become inseparable from body image. As such they are protected much as the physical body is assiduously protected.

Parasitic or saprophytic variation. Perhaps the complexity of an ideology, in itself, acts as a fertile substrate for the incorporation of other (additional or parasitic) beliefs, and so allowing that ideology to grow.

Certainty and Conviction. Once a critical mass is reached individuals come to believe that the system is certain and “Absolute”. As belief systems become defended energetically the resultant conviction of their “absoluteness” might be expressed by a variety of emotions, including “righteousness”.

Self Perpetuation. Contentment with the validity of the belief system might originate from within the system itself. In other words it may develop an autonomous, endoteric validity.

Structured Professions as examples of Ideologies. When I began to study law I became concerned that the “rationality” of law would become an entity in itself and allow me to be convinced of its validity, simply because each component was groomed to “interlock” with the other compounds. My concern was whether my identification with the system of law could divorce that (legal) system from a greater world and trump other systems of my own beliefs which I wanted to preserve. Notable among these was my belief in the system of medicine.

Leading into the field of medicine: of concern to me has been the contentment of those within medicine, who show self-satisfied with both their own capabilities and the (purported) all encompassing and prevailing comprehensiveness of “conventional” medicine. Out of this come undesirable components which include inflexibility and arrogance (which might be simply a component of inflexibility).

Dynamic variation. It is common cause that belief systems alter dynamically.

Senility of Ideology. As societies fail, even marginally, so the infrastructure of that society will begin to fail. Each summates with the other causing exponential acceleration of degradation of both the ideology and the infrastructure. Once that occurs the context changes. Since ideology is closely related to context, the ideology itself then begins to weaken – early by an attempt to adjust to, and compensate for, these changes. However that fragmentation itself is sufficient to break the absoluteness which charecterises ideology, so further accelerating the demise.

 

 

 

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The Poisoned Honeypot

The lure to those from impoverished lands and circumstances was put in place by the European Union and the United Kingdom. It was the lure of “a better life”, provided by wealthy, socialist nations. A component of this was to offer refuge to “asylum seekers”, however that might be defined.

But it was the consequences which were so terrible. Consequences would which could and should have been envisaged – the consequences of arduous journeys resulting in death and disease in terrible circumstances whether by deserts or unsafe waters.

How has come about? At least part of it was the arrogant paternalism of the European Union, believing that they could provide to groups onto which they projected their image of paternalism and the assumptions that those people had established themselves as puerile dependence on Western paternalism.

For each and every death, each and every illness, each and every loss of livelihood, the Western European countries are to be held totally and undeniably culpable. Their “feel- good” intentions, self-righteousness and arrogant assumptions of superiority, paved the way to this hell.

There are sound arguments that the EU is now vulnerable to legal class action for damages. The reasoning is that both the individual and any “entity” will be held responsible for the consequences of their actions. The EU provided the lure and should have anticipated these consequences. If it is argued that these consequences were unforeseen it would have taken only the first handful of deaths to make these consequences quite certain.

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The Vulnerable Status of Social Behavior

Although race has long been held as the demarcation of physical factors with a resulting intense assembly of moral, social and legal adjuncts, it might be that race is only an outward demarcation which signals the variance in social behaviour  or “societal personality” of that group.

That racial differences exist has been conclusively demonstrated by DNA research into early Europeans, where distinct groups of humans have been identified by their DNA similarities and dissimilarities. By definition this is the ultimate proof of the existence of “race”.

The difficulties that social groups face are the intrusions of other groups which have different patterns of behaviour. Recognising the extreme complexity and subtlety of group behaviour in humans, such intrusions can produce marked disruption to the host societies and irreparably alter the behaviour patterns of those societies. Given that the behaviour patterns of societies are expressions of a long (behavioural or “cultural”) evolution, extending back many centuries, such destruction alters forever the pattern of living of the individuals in those disturbed societies, and hence threatens the ultimate aim of all those humans, which is “contentment”.

The belief that immigrant groups can “learn” behaviour patterns, (otherwise known as “cultures”) is a naive simplification of a complexity which has evolved over generations and became at the same time deeply inherent but vulnerably sensitive.

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