1973 - when I started asking questions, like, "Why are we all dressed so funny?"

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Cult of Experts

An irreverent prologue.

Question: How many bureaucrats does it take to solve a simple problem?

Answer: An indefinite number because the number of bureaucrats (=B) is always inversely related to the simplicity of the problem (=P): P1 = B10; P2 = B5; P3 = B1.

For example, a simple problem like too few books in a classroom will likely be solved by (A) hiring a consultant to determine why books are needed in the modern classroom or (B) a seminar for all staff on how to be more creative in the classroom or (C) some combination of the above or (D) or other "solutions" equally useless.

Notice in the "formula" above that the more intractable the problem, the fewer bureaucrats to be found. Real problem require work, which is antithetical to the bureaucratic faith that there is no problem they cannot solve, unless it involves actual work.

The real problem: Intelligence outsourced.

"Thanks to the progress of technology, the greater part of the restraints imposed on us by the cosmos have disappeared and, along with the, the crative personal effort which thos restraints demanded ... The frontiers of good and eviil have vanished in a mist of ideologies, whims, and appetites ... As everyone knows, few observations and much discussion are conducive to error: much observation and little discussion to truth" (Alexis Carrel, Reflections on Life).

Put into an educational context, there is much talk but little observation of occuring reality within actual classrooms with the aim of solving problems. More often there is so-called research which is bandied about without doing much of anything about the status quo. In fact, the cult of research may simply mask problems by creating a sense that "something is being done" when in fact, nothing is being done.

Let us vow to place our experience at the forefront of our judgments. This does not mean despising research or avoiding study; rather, let the theory be tested and "read" through the lenses of our "I"s.

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