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View Diary: Diane Ravitch Asks, I Write (24 comments)

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  •  Diane Ravitch and I are the same age, (14+ / 0-)

    and we went to public schools in Texas. She became a scholar in the field of education and even worked in the Department of Education under George Bush the Elder.

    It is very interesting that in recent years she has written that most of the education improvements that she supported have turned out to be failures.

    I was a teacher for a while before I began to design computer-based systems that were used to operate large enterprises. Some of the systems I helped develop nearly fifty years ago are still in use and they directly affect the daily lives of million of Americans--for the better.

    My systems-based experience enabled me to see that the education improvements that I heard about from my teacher friends would not work.

    I see this pattern throughout our society.

    So many large enterprises do not deliver what they are supposed to deliver. The reason is poor systems. This is because good systems design takes into account the effects of human nature. This is a consideration of the utmost importance. I see everywhere that human nature, as a general proposition, is almost never discussed rationally and in general terms. Instead we get caught up in human personalities. For example, many people today wonder why Mitt Romney lies so easily and cares nothing about the adverse consequences. It is because of his human nature. Examples of his nature are well-defined, have been known for centuries if not millennia, but are never taken into account in designing systems.

    In my working life,  I had to take into account power failures, equipment failures, fires, floods, staff recruiting and training, physical plant features, etc. It did not take me long to realize that I also had to take into account the possibility that a madman or madmen might be given control of the system I was designing. But I see nothing at all in our national institutions that takes cognizance of this need. No one seems to care if madmen should gain control of Wall Street banks, or political parties, or offices in the Senate and House, or the Presidency, or the medical system, etc. Yet madmen have taken control of many of our institutions and we can't do a thing about it. The reason they get control is that we never design in features to prevent it, and we never design in features that will enable us to easily remove them from power.

    This problem is as old as human society, and no one has done anything about it, except for the ancient Athenians. They alone, of all the nations I have studied, knew of the dangers and they organized their systems to deal with them, and they did so effectively. No other country has matched them.

    The Framers of our Constitution deliberately turned away from consideration of Athenian democracy as a model for our government. In fact they were rather insulting toward the Athenians. But the Framers were wrong and we have suffered and are suffering because of their error.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 08:38:51 AM PDT

    •  Nominate your comment as one of best of week (0+ / 0-)

      Bravo. Loved your comment and analysis. You should be hired in Obama's next term as Secretary of Education or at least Chief of Staff.


      Easter Bunny:

      The letter is great as is. Go with it. True to heart!

      "We must be the change we wish to see in the world" - Gandhi
      "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little" – FDR

      by smokey545 on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 04:27:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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