Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Beginning of the End

The current insistence by the Department of Education educators that they alone are the gatekeepers to all learning possible, is already a sign that their hoped for monopoly is on the verge of its own self-destruction and implosion -- much as the existent publications demanded similar obeisance, as the self-appointed gatekeepers of information -- before they were overrun, ruined and made irrelevant.

That's the thing about people determined to maintain a self-exclusive monopoly on any human activity and impulse -- they get leapfrogged, and made irrelevant, powerless and useless, when they thought they were on the verge of supreme mastery and control. When the barriers are too exclusive, many will find an easier way, a better way -- without all the control issues and bureaucracies demanding that one can only go through their way.

That is no longer true of the universities, and is even more true at any other level of learning. The critical factor is the desire for that learning -- rather than obedience to that hierarchy of the status quo, which more and more, in every human activity and organization, is seen to be superfluous and unnecessary -- when people are clear on the true objectives, meaning and purpose.

Those in the field of "education," seem to think that "learning" is for the sake of their own job security, and not that it is the basic right and drive of human life that supersedes all attempts to suppress, oppress and control it. That is the story of civilization -- despite the many attempts throughout history for one group of people to fix themselves permanently at the top of the organizational charts for all activities permanently pertaining to that powerful primal drive of humanity. They will be swept away.

St. Augustine, had the very powerful metaphor of the boy on the beach digging a hole in the sand in which he intended to capture and hold the ocean, as his homily on the tendency for humans to drastically overestimate their abilities to this task, and fail to understand what they are attempting before undertaking, while fully confident that they have already achieved by their audacity and presumption.

That's pretty much where the labor representatives have led their constituencies -- over the edge of the precipice, while confident they are still on solid ground. The land and landscape meanwhile, have shifted by miles so that even the most intrepid realize they are on uncertain ground. Only the truly foolish and unaware, think they are still in the old world of their own certainty and unquestionable preeminence. And so, with that smug certainty, once again lay down their ultimatums -- which are the terms of their irrelevance.

We don't need teachers to learn in a world of unlimited opportunities for doing so. Welcome to the New World!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Teaching Is A Calling

What the teachers (professors) have to decide is whether they want to be regarded as "professionals," or assembly line automatons -- who need a labor union to speak for all of them and negotiate the working conditions for all of them. If university professors cannot do that for themselves, then what good is this education they have to "teach," as though they were mindless, assembly line workers incapable of speaking for themselves. What then do they have to teach?

And then if they decide they really are professionals, training, planning and preparations are necessary adjuncts to support of the time they actually get paid for -- which is the actual instruction time, and not as an inconvenience to their career advancement days and programs.

The doctor or lawyer can only charge you for actual time devoted to your specific concerns and not just amortize the cost of whatever is required to qualify them to do their job.

That's what the teachers or any professionals have to decide -- and what makes them professionals or just brute labor.

That's the difference between a professional association and a labor union: in the first, every individual regards their service as unique, rather than identical to every other practitioner in that field, and so, the only thing that makes a difference, is number of years of doing that same thing.

But we know these days, that one's year's of experience is likely to be inversely related to how current one is to the state-of-the-art knowledge being developed right now -- since they are likely to be heavily invested in the knowledge of the past. That's why in seeking out a professional, the last thing one wants to know, is their seniority of doing things the old ways -- and that is true for any profession, which implies being on the leading edge of information, and not at its lagging end of being well-worn wives tales. That -- you can get from the most hardened, unquestioning fool that is all too willing to volunteer what they know at every opportunity.

This is particularly true of times like these when there is a paradigm shift in which what used to be valued, becomes a liability. Thus we see financial and real estate empires come crashing down because the cost of carrying them become disrupted by the flow of reliable income based on projections of them always going up.

Those are the big-ticket items, but what is more subtle and pervasive, is how the old computers and communication devices become worthless and should be discarded rather than allowed to increase one's clutter. It doesn't matter how long one holds onto the present obsolete electronic devices, they will not increase in valuable. Even knowledge has become that kind of accumulation, and what has real value, is the same ability to learn the new -- but that skill is not taught as the primary skill, but instead, all the old learning, as an accumulation of knowledge, as in a previous time, when memory, storage and accessibility were not so universal.

That changes the game for everybody but the real masters of their art -- in science, medicine, law, journalism, research, and especially teaching, which is actually this ability to learn the new -- and no longer be just a storehouse of the past accumulated knowledge. But master teachers have always been mindful of this difference -- and it is only those teachers, who make a great difference.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Unions Are The Problem

If one tunes into the mass media regularly, increasingly one comes to feel that Hawaii is overwhelmed by problems -- which turn out to be almost exclusively the problem of the unions promoting their narrow self-interest to the expense and detriment of the population at large. Quite conceivably, if there were no unions, and certainly not the domination of Hawaii society by the unions, there would be very few, if any, problems, because the people would make their decisions and decide their fate based upon the goodness and fairness of those decisions for all -- equally.

But the unions introduce this corruptive bias that the basis of work and play, should be seniority, rather than the basis of equality, or even merit -- and so the unions regard merit, as a threat to society, rather than its greatest virtue. When one regards their virtues as vices, and vices as virtues, then all manner of calamity and corruption become possible, and inevitable, because there is no basis for any virtue and justice, except that one grabbed more than their fair share, and has a right to it, because he did it before anyone else did.

Thus, decisions are no longer considered on the basis of whether they make sense and are just -- but simply because it has always been done that way, and one cannot question and challenge any further. This is a tactic and feature of medieval and feudal life -- and it's own reason for being, whether it makes sense and is inevitably, the source now of all our problems.

So if one reads the newspapers or watches the news, the problem is invariably with a union lobbying to get more than its fair share, and trying to stay on top and ahead of everyone else, rather than the paradise of people having only as much as every other person has. Of course, some people feel entitled to be the king -- and that the rest of society exists to serve only themselves, and their petty little kingdom in which they are its dictators., That's how power corrupts -- but only those who are not worthy of it.

Those who are worthy of power, never think they are entitled to more than their fair share, because they know that with the same as everybody else has, they will do much more with it, because that is what their ability and merit is. Even Jesus recognized that truth as probably the great cultural imperative -- that to whom much is given, much is expected, and they will always prove themselves worthy of that faith and trust.

The less worthy, always demand more, because what little they have, even if it is more than everybody else has, they will waste -- and their waste will be unlimited. And so it is not a matter of how little they have, but this spirit of theirs, not to appreciate whatever they have -- and invariably waste it, and so there is this constant cry for "More" -- without end. And that is the problem and storyline of Hawaii now.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Making a Difference

A lot of people ask, "What can I do to make a difference?". and if they ask that of someone else, then they won't make a difference, because to really make a difference, one has to do what only they can do, and are uniquely qualified to do -- and not just what everybody else is already doing. That, obviously, will make very little difference -- because there is already somebody else doing it. But what makes the biggest difference, is doing what nobody else even thinks to do, but is obvious to one, that is what he must do. That is everyone's greatest contribution to the world -- how they make a difference.

Otherwise, one just goes through the motions of what he thinks he ought to do -- and not what he feels very passionately and intimately about, as that which is he unique calling and responsibility in life -- that if he doesn't do, won't get done. And that is the difference, between the world transformed and transcending, or history merely repeating itself, because it cannot find the missing link that enables it to break through.

We've lost and don't understand that feeling in Hawaii -- where many are coming to feel that nothing they do matters anymore -- that the powers that be are so entrenched and corrupt, that one can only go along. Such conditioning begins in the schools, where children are taught to conform and obey, rather than to question and challenge everything, which is the purpose of any real education.

In the off years between elections, many vow to vote wisely the next time, but as the year wears on, they forget their resolve, and go along with how they are expected to vote -- for the same people because they are conditioned to think they cannot vote any otherwise. It doesn't matter who wins the election. What matters is that one realizes he has a choice -- and not that he can only vote the one way he always has.

Those people make a difference.