The Unusual replacing the Usual i.e., avoiding the back edge

Education needs to move on. Once the memorizing of 19th Century Strictures, such as greed is good and force needs to be met with stronger counter-force, sort of worked in life. Now we see the consequences of 19th Century industrialization, e.g.:

– climate change consequences of greed as good,

– trickle-down economics from”horse shit theory,”

– rethinking what people don’t need, don’t want and nature cannot accommodate

– encouraging people to return to age old networks and dump industrial hierarchies

Alternative models of business are becoming essential, especially the unorthodox and the unusual.  Pursuing a predictable MBA sitting in out-of-date courses and incompetent instruction that simply waste time while watching business drown in drivel.

2005 – The Interim Dean’s Position Statement To Student’s Interested in Learning for  21st Century Business

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To invite those excited about helping to reform a somewhat tired School of Business in 2005 the Interim Dean’s posted a “welcome” on the NJIT Website. It ended in an outline of the program offering international business as an exciting doorway into the 21st Century.  As a sign of changes in the School a posture was on the wall behind the Dean’s desk. It was a picture of Clint Eastwood above his purpose of life:

“It’s the fight against shit. That’s what it’s all about.”

During the 1980s David Hawk’s Ph.D advisees in the Stockholm School of Economics posted the quotation on their doors.

At NJIT Hawk’s students had similar intellects and humor.  When they entered Hawk’s office they would see the above poster, smile then seek advice on their problems of interest.

NJIT professors behaved differently. A third of them, those with nothing to profess and a deep dislike of students, would withdraw from Hawk’s office after reading the caption on the photo. Four of them would later testify to the untruths in the minds at the NJIT vs Hawk trial. Their emphasis was on Hawk being “non collegial.”

Yes, he treated them like they treated students. They also gave each other teaching awards without asking student opinions.

Hindy the Queen

Another third of the professors, mostly the non-tenured younger ones, really loved their opportunity to teach and be around interested students.

The remaining third were trying to figure out which third to join while also getting tenure.  Sad bunch with funny smiles.

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The following is the Dean’s welcome to speculative students and faculty as posted on the NJIT website from 2005 until 2015. Three following deans chose to plagiarize this statement as their own “welcome.”

“As Interim Dean I welcome your interest in NJIT’s School of Management for your business education needs. The students, faculty, staff and advisers of the School have invested the last six months in reconsidering what the School collectively represents, while redesigning the means to better deliver what it should be. We are in full operation while undergoing “reconstruction.” The rebuilding is driven by an urgent sense that the social systems of which we are a part have grown beyond traditional management capabilities. Business-as-usual responses, in the class room and at the workplace, are clearly insufficient to the emerging needs. New educational ideals, platforms, protocols and content are needed.

We find the opportunities inherent in current challenges exciting. With our students we are experimenting with a variety of ways to sense and respond to the changing needs of social, technical and natural systems, and the connections between them. Our short-term response it to offer greater flexibility via hybrid models of distance learning and shorter programs. In the longer term we are shifting our focus from instruction in the functional areas of industrial organizations towards systems management of network-formed organizations. Several SOM faculty members are leaders in this transformation.

New goods, services and institutions are needed to improve the economic exchange activities that serve humans. Some existing products and organizations are no longer needed, and/or stand in the way of improvement. It is time to look more deeply for the opportunities in our current challenges. While there may be a rationale for the continued strategic outsourcing the content of functional areas, as proposed in the 1980s and begun in the 1990s, there may be greater value in 2006 in innovatively reconnecting the functional parts that were disconnected.

We embrace development of information technology platforms in our work at SOM, but as a means to link actions to missions, not as an end in itself. Applications of IT are a limited set of the many means available to those working to improve our systems. We are skeptical of the traditions that bring reverence to any fixed means to solve all of an organization’s problems, including score cards, strategic thinking, sub-optimization and MIS.

The School of Management and its students are facing the same challenges as most organizations in today’s world. As such we are making efforts to establish links to those organizations in our region and world. We hope you will come help us to make this work successful.”

 

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The Essence of What Finance Means in an Economy

Within the MBA the subject of Finance via stockexchanges is introduced at a somewhat superficial level. Why leading companies mostly avoid such is seldom introduced to MBA students. Then the MBA Coursework moves to human resource management (HRM) instruction as key to managing what you  know nothing about producing or servicing.  This HRM area is seen as something between common sense and intellectual garbage by most students in most MBA programs.

Attitude problem.....

History of the School:

“The 1988 foundation of the School was to provide a standard business education to those well versed in technology design and control but somehow uncertain about the larger business value stream in which it is placed. In 2006 we continue with this mandate while also responding to the challenges of change. We are experimenting with delivery of special learning situations for those who design and manage cutting edge technologies, and have little patience for the security of the standard. As an example of what this means, part-time students were once considered a lesser market for business schools. Our School considers our students who daily work at the edge of change as one of our most valuable resources. They are our advanced warning system of the challenges that we have yet to prepare for, but for which we must prepare. We value them greatly. The School of Management has 26 faculty and many adjuncts to serve over 600 undergraduate and graduate students. We offer degree programs in the Bachelor of Science in Management, the Master of Science in Management, the MBA and the Executive MBA. And Executive MS. SOM was accredited by the AACSB International in 1995.

To see what this means please come visit us.”

Interim Dean, David L. Hawk, PhD

 

A PREAMBLE TO BUSINESS:

International Business operations offer an access point to the new, to the needed. Therein your will find alternatives to business as usual, especially to Angry Americans like Donald Trump who mostly rely on bankruptcy to survive.  Its easy to see the limitations of business as usual via a curriculum at places like the Harvard Business School. Harvard prises the American tradition developed in the 1950s when challenges were very soft. Harvard also took ideas of military strategy and transposed it in the current world of strategic nonsense.

In the world of business as usual form and its marketing hide low level content, while insuring that misplaced hierarchy, again in the Donald Trump sense, is more important than quality of output. MBA programs slide downhill via the growing influence and ignorance of those claiming to know Human Resource Management. HRM dissertations illustrate the downward trend from deceitful strategic management and marketing, both as sewage in business operations. We illustrate the alternative to this in my wife’s 150,000 employee firm.

Professors who profess the HRM crap mostly miss the humor of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, as they teach it, shun the role of critical thinking via discouraging questions, and talk of successes that teach nothing while avoiding the learning gold mine in mistakes.   The resulting smoke masks the shame of pushing  products unknown to the pusher upon those not needing them, and that are desperately not needed for a planet supporting life.

While learning to learn is of immense value it is seldom part of a business education. Much time is instead invested in “becoming educated.” This is often reduced to acquiring information on how to do the wrong thing but ever more efficiently.  Use of 19th Century ideas of industrialization and management provide stability for the exercise. This is unfortunate in light of the role of business in bringing about climate change.

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International business teaching offers an ideal platform from which to question much of traditional MBA teaching from the 1950s. Traditional teachers and employers become nervous about international business teaching and research. NJIT was noted by its accrediting body in 2008 for being the most improved school based on its move into international business in 2005.  This was corrected by NJIT leadership in 2009 by bringing two FBI agents to lecture faculty on the evils of the international.

At the Stockholm School of Economics in 1976 Hedlund and Hawk addressed the need for change in business education via an Institute of International Business (IIB). They started it and gained sponsorship by Swedish business leaders. The Institute soon came to be a richly funded PhD research program able to critique business as usual teaching in the larger Stockholm School of Economics. It quickly came to attract unusual students, many whose intellect would normally lead them to study medicine, mathematics or the sciences. They produced some of the best PhD dissertations in Europe, if not the world, prior to the demise of the Institute in 1996. One graduate, according the the London Times, became one of the top four corporate lecturers in the world. He also wrote two of the best selling business books published in non-English languages.

Special people were attracted to the Stockholm IIB PhD program. Its graduates were offered professorships at leading business programs around the world, including Harvard. During the 21st Century similar programs emerged in Europe, Asia and North America. The program attracted attractive students.

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To take advantage of what was learned at IIB in Stockholm NJIT in Newark initiated a track in International Business in 1992 within the MS in Management Degree. It prepared students for new kinds of jobs in international firms in the New York Region. The MS in IIB quickly grew to several hundred students with international business interests. The dean in 1996, who held a PhD in marketing, then moved international business to a sub component of marketing. The program quickly was reduced to several dozen students. Students with international interests moved to other programs or left school. Due to lack of student interest the dean closed most of the MS in Management down and shifted emphasis towards a traditional MBA. Student population was further reduced. Studies had been interested in the why and how things were done unusually in the emerging Silicon Valley firms. In 2005 NJIT returned to an international business BS and MS emphasis until a new dean left.

Photos of one of our foreign study classes. Upper left is Wall of China. Upper right is lecture by Professor Yu of Tsinghua University to the NJIT class. Professor Yu is responsible for leadership education in China’s leading university, where China’s current president graduated from. Below that is an image of the CEO of the world’s largest construction company giving a lecture to the group. Bottom photo is of an NJIT class in Hong Kong.

Via the leadership mentality of places like NJIT and Trump University international business learning was frowned upon and mostly discontinued.  Neither organization understood that the world was moving towards a position where the international qualifier would be dropped as all business would necessarily be part of an international fabric.  This is part of a larger call to order and hankering after the good old days that never were.  NJIT leadership was very concerned, like the larger society, in the emergence of globalization. Such people see much that has not worked out well in their lives and they blame most what they understand least. This gives us members of Congress, mostly trained as lawyers, where more than two-thirds do not hold passports. They truly represent the downside of human interactions, especially of business. They act to mostly encourage 20th Century business to make us of 19th Century principles to “recapture” the 21st Century. This is their call to return to and remake “business as usual,” and make it great again. Most such dreams of history never occurred and those that did were expensive to life. Change is needed.  Just now the “return to what was not” is based on a call for nationalism as a means for the few to have power over the small; i.e., .5% controlling the isolated United States to their selfish wills.

The anti-international is restricted to some angry white males and their intimidated and captive wives. They spend their spare time, which they have much of, in watching Fox News, or black athletic performing sports in colleges, and/or cartoons. Sometimes they dabble in low exercise golf.  Mortality is solving life’s problems from this group but such can take decades. The consequences of the results of this group are becoming ominous. Greater intelligence is urgently required in the species. Via intelligence or very rude experience the white male Trumpery will subside and rehabilitation can begin. Chances are growing that the second will be the initiator of change.  It’s called climate change.

More need to be like the very smart EMBA students that were attracted to a reconstituted NJIJT leadership program that grew from 12 in 2005 to 75 in 2007 and had 200 scheduled for entry in Fall, 2008, including groups from IBM, Nokia and a major Chinese firm. NJIT Administration removed the dean organizing this group of 200 in 2008 and installed a new dean who in this “first hundred days” canceling its leadership, enterprise-development and international degree programs. The EMBA returned to its quietly irrelevant agenda that attracted 10 students/year.

Students dreams and they providing an additional $10 million/year in revenue for the university seemed to not be noticed nor matter to NJIT leadership. Getting rid of David Hawk was a high priority. Resources taken from tax payers and students tuition, running in the millions of dollars and thousands of hours was deemed as unlimited to attain his removal at any cost. There much anger, perhaps from fear of being dispensed with as irrelevant by the growing voice of student customers?   Yes, Dean Hawk was sometimes rude to NJIT’s President and his VPs. He was clearly blunt about their wrong doing but only to their faces, never behind their backs.

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This is one of Hawk EMBA classes on a course trip to Washington, D.C. to meet elected leaders and lobbyist to see why the latter were the smartest and most evil people running the Government, although seldom in the public interest.  This Washington, D.C. trip and the international studies trip each class would be taken on was to illustrate the difference between education via “Harvard Case Studies” and learning via meeting then raising questions to actual decision-makers.  CEOs, such as the President of Ikea and Medco would often visit Hawk’s lectures. The above group is asking some tough questions of a New Jersey Congressman after he presented his political presumptions on business.

The above group is asking some tough questions of a New Jersey Congressman after he presented his five well rehearsed political presumptions on business, but could not remember the second one.

(During legal case hearings on Hawk’s Deanship in 2012 NJIT Leadership testified that Hawk’s EMBA classes were usually 15 students and only once 33. This picture showing a typical group of 30, where there were multiple classes each year, was seen as a doctored photo, typical of Hawk’s forgeries?  Truth to power is expensive. The alternative is more expensive.  The New Jersey State Mandated Hearing was a comedy, not a tragedy, except for the students who paid in excess of $5 million for it from tuition money and the acts of Interim Dean English that knew nothing of business, education and perhaps life.  The Hearing Office was a nice and good man, but probably needed the $500/hour paid him during 18 months of Hearing.  NJIT’s outside counsel, affectionately called “Trish and Trevor” were fine as well, but also seemed to need the $500/hour each received for what it was they were doing for NJIT leadership.)

No particular disrespect is intended for NJIT in this storyline. Due to its leadership it is sort of like many other mainstream institutions of higher learning in the world. The low aspirations and mentality of the leadership and those who find and select such leaders for public institutions is common.  The following outlines how and why Hawk was such a problem for NJIT, and become the only professor who had his professors tenure removed, for what he did as dean, in the 130 history of this Newark trade school.

Timetable of a Deanship:

July 2005: I was contacted by the incoming NJIT Provost, Priscilla Nelson. She asked me to serve as interim dean for a year, based on what she said was her review of my resume and website. We had never met. She had worked at the National Science Foundation whre I had given lectures and had represented them on National Academy of Sciences Committees.  I asume if she had met me she would have hesitated in endangering her job by asking me to work with her as an academic administrator. As an Associate Dean of the School of Architecture it has changed much; more than NJIT could accept. I had started the Honors Program and worked hard to keep it from ever becoming a college, but eventually lost so Joel Bloom could have a deanship.  I turned down Priscilla’s offer initially. When we met and we discussed the deanship further she argued how the survival of the business school might just depend on me taking over its leadership. (This was later substantiated by two CEO members of the NJIT Board, that were replaced by President Altenkirch for their disagreeing with him.)

I eventually accepted the role with a warning that I would change many things to emphasize better ways to serve students and the families supporting them. I hoped she would be with me. (I liked her and continue to respect her, even though in the NJIT Hearings she was reluctant to speak openly for fear of losing her job like all others did that supported me.) This decision cost me. I was to be at China’s leading university that Fall to lead a “leadership center development.”  I thus needed to drop that opportunity to deal with the unsolveable problems of NJIT.

Late July 2005: I was told by students that their professor, a Cheicha Sylla, missed the first three weeks of a summer course. I asked the Associate Dean Barbara Tedesco why this Sylla person had been allowed to teach summer courses, as he missed classes. I was told he begged for the summer job in order to get money.  When I found Sylla to ask why he had missed so many classes he didn’t explan. I then asked him to apologize profusely to the students that had paid for him.  In apparent frustration to my request he sent a message to students saying:  “I had something more important to do.”  Hmmm……not good sign of a good professor….

Looking deeper I found other student comments consistent with thoes unhappy with his performance in the summer course. One student’s comment about his teaching was: “Awful. Stay away from his classes. You won’t learn anything but at the end you are expected to learn from his bad pre-recorded classes.  He missed a lot of the scheduled meetings.”  (ratemyprofessor.com)

I related this to the faculty in our first faculty meeting without using his name.  He left the meeting in anger thus devoted much of his life thereafter to creating and presenting “alternative facts” to NJIT administration about David Hawk.  He is now the Associate Dean for the School of Management. He is pretty typical of NJIT Associate Deans and Chairs, in that they had difficulties in teaching.  As long deans and associate deans treat students badly they are trusted by the faculty that dislike teaching and students.

September 2005: I was told that the NJIT Board of Trustees wanted an outside review of the School of Management, to act on its future prospects. I asked to have a meeting with the NJIT Board or Trustees.

December 2005: I made a presentation on the Schools possible future to the Board of Trustees.  It is available on one of three NJITBS websites.

March 2006: I composed a committee of local business representatives, a sort of academic opposed to accreditation that the president wanted on the committee, a leader in international entrepreneurship, and Russell Ackoff, lead professor from the Wharton School of Business. I asked the Chief of Staff of IBM Headquarters to act as the committee’s chair.  Their conclusion was I should turn the school into a place that concentrated on preparing future business leaders, and continue with my bringing of international business to the school. The NJIT Board endorsed the report. The NJIT President did not.

April 2006: President Altenkirch sent out a memo to committee members on the agenda of their three days at NJIT. An hour later Professor Ackoff sent back an email damning the president for being an idiot and wasting his time. A day later Professor Ackoff contacted me by phone and offered to help with the final report writing, but coming to spend time with NJIT leadership was simply a waste of his time.

April 30, 2006: The report was submitted. It emphasized the need for leadership and international business in the schools agenda for students.  They also recommended I stay one more year as actual not interim dean to see the school changed.

May 25, 2006:  The School of Management Faculty voted via 75% wanting me to stay on as the actual dean, no longer an interim dean. I accepted as long as my salary would only increase by adding three months for the summer and I was allowed to continue to teach my full course load as a faculty member.

June 20, 2006: A proposal was presented to a Foundation to name the School for them for $50 million in construction money for a new building.  They offered a $2 million chair instead in order to keep an eye on how the school would make use of their money.

July 1, 2006: The School entered its formal accreditation process with AACSB.

Learning is Intrinsically Opposed to Education

Education deals in acquisition of assumptions in and about life. Learning is different. Learning is about questioning assumptions. Learning situations are far different from classrooms, although perhaps assumptions need to be raised prior to their being questioned?  Business as usual has brought us results that are bringing us the consequences such as a war against nature via environmental deterioration resulting in destruction of the stability needed for systems of life. While the old rely on what they learned to make industrialization ever more efficient the young question those presumptions and seek non-industrialized business as unusual.  The process offers optimism for humans, but time is short.

Yes, in Institutions trying to maintain a stable state and resist change, there is a clear sign of they being Not Just In Time. Its worth questioning if schools like NJIT are a force for not just in time. Students taking out large loans to pay for  college athletics to entertain their elders are skeptical of how this relates to learning for a new future. The CBS report on the state of NJIT students in this dilemma was informative.  The later study by Princeton Review that found NJIT faculty to be some of the worst in North America did not ease student discomfort.  Improvement in leadership is in order but may be too late. Signs are not good.

“Not Just In Time” marketing is one more indication of leadership in need of improvement, or change.

An Example: Reorganization of Truth, or Just Another Faustian Bargain?

In mid-April, 2017 news.njit.edu announced “NJIT’s Computer Science Program Ranked #2 in the World”   They and others that don’t believe in qualifiers and/or are very unfamiliar with computer science subject matters cobbled together a good news bandwagon. One of the roles of good leadership is to show institutional character by keeping such from happening via showing healthy skepticism of lawyers and press people.

My skepticism comes from watching NJIT leadership for three decades and seeing its limited ability to build institutional character in service to its students and alum. From this I see how NJIT students clearly have character while its faculty and administration largely come up short.  The NJIT press release seems to fall clearly into the 2005 Princeton University Press best selling book: “On Bullshit.”  For those with interest in where American society is now at you might look at this as a guide book for Trump leadership.   Following is a more factual basis for the NJIT approach to a news release.

As posted on LinkedIn.com from news.njit.edu

“NJIT’s Computer Science Program Ranked #2 in the World”

Likes

  • Yvel Clovis
  • Parth Shah
  • Dean R Catlett Jr.
  • Oranis Pimentel
  • Kihyun Kim
  • Jamar K Davis
  • Tony Farthing, Jr.
  • Edward Ovalles
  • Rimsha Warda Syeda
  • Arif Arifi
1d
Christopher Sam

Christopher Sam

Woo Hoo! That is awesome!!!

Afolawemi Afolabi

Tony Howell

And, we didn’t pay for it !! Lol !!

David L. Hawk

David L. Hawk

As prior comments certified, this has nothing to do with reality. Did you pay LinkedIn to erase the more informative comments on why this ranking has nothing to do with IT rankings on this planet? Tonjgi is not number one in China, let alone the world as we know it? Maybe NJIT is number one in Newark?

Jamar K Davis

Jamar K Davis

David does this ranking affect you personally? If I had to guess, I’d say NO! Let’s not rain on anyone’s parade. NJIT did not create the algorithm used to yield these rankings. If you have any issues with the results reach out to the source not the recipients. Have a good day Sir and Salute to the many IT professionals representing NJIT!

Joshua Adegboye
David L. Hawk

David L. Hawk

Jamar, yes, if it impacts NJIT students it gets to me, just as Trump University marketing scams got to me until the New York AG finally looked into my comments. This item is bad but not as bad. Since I spent some time at NJIT and now spend some time at Tongji but mostly Tsinghua they laugh a bit much about NJIT. If nothing else please qualify the “ad” to let it be known that the ranking was not Computer Science per se, but in only one of seven sub categories of computer science. It, cybernetics, is the one mostly eliminated by the better schools. NJIT has no showing in the six mainstream CIS categories, or so the director of the CWUR head told me. He also mentioned that NJIT as a university is not to be found on their listing of 1,000 best universities in the world. I can send Joel a copy of the letter I received today when I sent your notice to CWUR. Tsinghua is clearly the world’s leading program in computer science in three of the CIS categories that matter. In 2006-2007 NJIT had an MOU with Tsinghua, until NJIT dropped it from never having heard of the place. Tongji will soon drop the cybernetics group, and its three people, per one of my CIS Ph.D students now there. Of course if accuracy doesn’t matter continue…. For those interested here are the contents of the evaluation as sent to me from CWUR, “Center for World University Rankings”Categories used by CWUR to evaluate Computer Science Programs. There were seven categories as subsets of the field. They and the leaders in each are:

  1. Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Number One: Nanyang Technical University
  2. Computer Science, Cybernetics, Number One: Tongji University, Number Two: NJIT
  3. Computer Science, Hardware and Architecture, Number One: Tsinghua University
  4. Computer Science, Information Systems, Number One: Tsinghua University, Two:Nanyang Tech, Three:Stanford, Four:MIT
  5. Computer Science, Interdisciplinary Applications,  Number One:Harvard, Two:Stanford, 3:University of Michigan
  6. Computer Science, Software Engineering, Number One:Stanford, Two:MIT, Three:Tsinghua
  7. Computer Science, Theory and Methods, Number One:Tsinghua, Two:MIT, Three:Nanyang

Obviously Tsinghua University, according to this study, which is only one of many you might look at, has a lead role in the subject area, not Tongji or the American Schools.  One troubling issue was how CWUR was unable to evaluate “Computer Science Security systems” and “Open Source systems”.   KTH of Stockholm has become the leader in the first area but was not evaluated via the criterion used. No programs in China address open source systems that are hard for governments to control, but all governments in the world make use due to their better security.   If interested in where computer science is moving you need to look outside CWUR’s evaluation.  A David Ing forthcoming dissertation done in conjunction with IBM will be a good source.For most this may not matter, as much in education does not matter for many involved in teaching its untested presumptions. Learning Institutions are different, they not only allow questions but encourage, sometimes even demand them of their students. The best schools have the best students, where the best faculty get out of the way of learning, not detour it.  NJIT has very good students. Someday it needs good leadership. Faculty is a different matter. A third love students and teaching, a third hate students and teaching and only want release time, and the final third tries to figure out which side to join to get tenure.

Business Education: To frame, form and conduct Economic Exchange

Is 21 Century business education focused on the past via usual Harvard Case Studies or the future via interactions with those who lead the unusual?

American business ideas developed rapidly during the early 20th Century and spread to other countries. American business education emerged about 1950 and spread rapidly for five decades, before slowing. All of this was via a Russell Ackoff Operations Research story line that seemed to inspire until the dawn of the 21st Century. Those teaching in and pursuing that story did not seem to notice that Ackoff moved on in 1975 to a more systemic story of business success. As he said at the time: “Operations Research had a large opportunity but missed it. They are now of the past.” Now the business model is being challenged as never before, and the educational mission is questionable at best. New kinds of leaders

In line with Ackoff, the business model changed via IT and systems thinking. While courses in IT were offered the systems aspect of the new business model were mostly missed in schools. New kinds of leaders were emerging in business, but not in business education. In response, many leaders ignored business education, especially MBA training.  E.g., leaders of Microsoft and Apple.

The American success story line began at the end of WWII, where the US was left as one of the only countries left with means to produce goods not destroyed by warfare. As such almost anything it could produce had eager customers. Quality and price were not foremost in the mind of customers. It seemed the US could do no wrong in the nineteen-fifties. From this context, several business schools expanded to attempt to prepare business leaders for this American approach to business. Mass consumption came to be presumed from mass production. In between was mass marketing.  All presumed that the future that would be pretty well like the present.

The two major actions laid out were 1) a very strong emergence of the Harvard Case Method approach to teaching business practices, and 2) thinking that there could be a science of management education that replicated the public adoration of genuine sciences via publications, sort of peer reviews and sort of scholarly conferences.

Case method idea emerged in Harvard’s low esteem compared to the prestige given the Harvard Law School, resting on “case method.” The idea of there being scientific management came from adoration of Fredrick Winslow Taylor’s work under that title, and seeing the unquestioned prestige of the process of the sciences in universities and society.  These two ideas set the tone for business education, the AACSB organization that certifies its qualities, and the mental skills of graduates from the more than seven hundred business schools that pledge their allegiance to the two ideas.

In both idea areas the title of “human resource management” became key. This type came to frame the idea, the implementation of it, and should take credit for the results, good and bad.

Overview of NJIT’s EMBA Program:  The program was to have been a flagship for a new Direction in business education for New Jersey Hawk helped create NJIT’s Executive Management program in 1993 with Dean Chakrabarti and President Fenster. It was to bring leadership education to the School of Business and then School of Engineering. Hawk created and led the international leadership component that helped the program quickly grow to 100 students/year. Student evaluations pointed out that the international program was what attracted them to the program. In 1999 Hawk went on leave from NJIT, leaving his EMBA role to others. During his absence the program declined to 12 students/year by turning the trips over to travel operatives to make it more fun and less work for NJIT staff, as well as accepting Newark high school teachers into the program.

Upper Left photo: An EMBA Stockholm trip to meet leaders of ABB, Ericsson, H &M and Ikea, each world leaders in their industries. Trip concluded with a presentation by  Jonas Ridderstale, close friend and former student of Hawk, listed as the 4th leading business adviser to companies in the world (per the Financial Times). Jonas is author of the largest selling business book outside the English language. Titled: “Funky Business.” you can see more of it on the Funky Business website.  Jonas has lectured to Putin’s G-8 meeting in St. Petersburg, to Bill Gates’ and his Board of Directors and to EMBA students at NJIT. (Via New Jersey Ethics rules Hawk was briefly charged with favouritism for paying a close friend,  Jonas, to lecture at NJIT, until it was then discovered that Jonas had received no pay for his lecture.)

Upper Right Photo: EMBA students leaving a corporate visit with the President and Board of one of Europe’s most successful bio-tech companies, that was then seeking a location to expand into New Jersey. They later decided on New York and California due to the university research in those states.

Right Side, second down Photo: EMBA Trip to Europe, Scandinavia and the former Eastern Germany to meet company heads managing successful industrial reunification via new production technologies.

Bottom Photo: EMBA class visit to one of the world’s most secretive and successful companies, Bouygues. Located at the Challenger in Paris day long meetings were held with its executives. From its President and staff students learned how company executives defined change as difference over time, and prepared for it via night courses and lectures. (Hawk had been an adviser to them.)  Martin Bouygues described how they emphasized learning as much as possible about American business practices, mostly from leading US professors and their books, and then working to avoid following them at all costs.  In this way they had no international competitors, nor could business analysts understand them. (When the WSJ writes about them, they point out that whatever Bouygues touches turns to gold, but the Journal Editors do not understand how they do it.)

Recovering from 19th Century management lore is a key challenge for business and the schools that attempt to prepare business employees. Clarifying and responding to 21st Century Business Opportunities is key to future business success. Students should graduate with this foremost in their passions. What is this 19the Century stuff? A long standing management problem has been  Frederick Taylor’s late 19th Century human resource themes of using time and motions studies to evaluate human performance. It was a means for HR people to locate the 10% to fire each evaluative period. Coupled to this was the HR use of Abraham Maslow’s silly hierarchy of needs relative to motivating employees more by always giving them less. Minimums were the rule, much like the current WalMart approach to using low minimum wages so that the government needs to subsidize most WalMart employees with good and housing assistance.

Current HR professors are special. They demonstrate how they know little about human behaviour, allocation of resources, Taylor’s studies and Maslow’s creation of a phoney hierarchy. There are reasons why HR Professors are the lowest paid in each business school faculty, per AACSB figures each year.  This may be why most HR professors thus pretend they also know the more highly paid areas of a curriculum and, unfortunately, even try to teach outside HR.

Taylor’s approach to turning humans into robots haunts social organizations. The humor in this and the common sense alternatives are seen best seen companies found in international business, which HR instructors have not heard of.  The self-actualization of Maslow was shown as worse then silly by Gandhi, King and all those we see to have self-actualized in life by abstaining from Maslow’s lower level needss.

19th Century information in Harvard cases keep Taylor and Maslow limitations alive. Hawk ever used such cases, instead providing examples via local and international executives into the classroom to discuss who they were and how they operated. For example, the President of IKEA, one of the world’s foremost companies according to BussinessWeek helped teach Hawk’s courses.  Hawk would also take students on foreign study trips to visit heads of unusual and successful companies, ever though NJIT opposed it, and eventually brought man charges against him for conduct of the trips. The only actual problem with one of the trips occurred with then President Altenkirch interviewed in the travel bidding process to insist on using a firm where he liked the owner. The firm ended up showing it had no international business experience by booking flights on an airline that went bankrupt during the trip thus stopping the agenda, cancelling company visits and stranding the students. Hawk was forced to buy the students one-way tickets home. Once Hawk came him he was told “it happens.”

There were usually four trips per year with 20 to 40 EMBA students in each group. Visits were to companies in at least three countries in Asia, Europe, Scandinavia and South America on each trip. They were mostly companies with which Hawk had a prior advising relationship. Follow are some photos the provide a sketch of the trips.

When Hawk became Dean in 2005 he fired several involved in teaching in the EMBA Program. He hired several new faculty and the program again rose to 75 students/year.  The program was scheduled to reach 200 students/year in September, 2008, with the expansion coming via three off-site corporate programs arranged with the CEOs of China Construction, IBM and Nokia. The off-site teaching would use non-NJIT teachers. The expansion would bring an additional $1o million/year to NJIT and esteem to  its reputation. When Hawk was fired in January, 2008. The three companies cancelled the relationship to NJIT in March, 2008 due to the selection of Robert English as Acting Dean, a man with no Ph.D. and no knowledge of business education but was the university connection to athletics development.

English also took over management of a $2 million Chair Hawk had established for bio-tech entrepreneurship, disallowing the funds to go to the newly appointed Chair holder. English then banned Hawk from any involvement in the EMBA, fired some faculty Hawk had recruited, and returned the faculty to the EMBA that Hawk had removed. Under English’s leadership the EMBA went from 70 students back to 8 students/year. The $14,000/faculty research and conference allowance, derived from the EMBA, was suspened and Central NJIT Administration was forced to provide $200,000/year to keep the EMBA alive. After five years the accreditation Hawk had brought back from AACSB probation was once again was put into question due to low quantity and quality of faculty and lack of monetary support needed for faculty development. The EMBA was more like a broken mast then a School flagship.

2. A 21st Century Management opportunity:  Aspirations outside the normal to prepare for leadership challenges.  Upper right photo below is a sample of Hawk taking NJIT students to visit the world’s top universities, e.g, an NJIT group visiting China’s top university, Tsinghua University in Beijing where Hawk was a long term lecturer.  Below that is a photo of a visit to Russia to meet with government and business leaders. Bottom photo is of Russian cultural exhibits seen during a visit to St Petersburg, crucial to Russian pride, which is crucial to Russian life and thinking.

The top left photo is from one of Hawk’s EMBA annual trips to Washington, DC, jointly organized with the Director of the EMBA, Ms. Elaine Frazier,  to meet with Congressmen and lobbyist to see how US public policies were largely framed by lobbyist then acted on by Congress. Here we are meeting with the New Jersey Congressional delegation. This was to better understand where and how US Governmental practices fit into international business. Below the group is being taken on a tour of the Capital by New Jersey’s Congressional representatives.

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3. Management Education Relative to 21st Century Opportunities, Where we are?

 

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Leaving the dictates of the well-traveled road of education, where students become fed mostly irrelevant human resource confusion by less than knowledgeable human resource titled teachers. These teachers are mostly overpaid because HR faculty have the lowest salaries in business schools, yet after they pretend they know finance or governance they get their salaries raised far above their worth. Then tend to be rather bad instructors, regardless of what they attempt to teach. This may explain why the HR department in many companies is seen as a low point for purposeful accomplishment. Per school records the HR trained teachers have as their greatest desire to gain release time from meeting students so they might write incoherent and irrelevant human resource articles that perhaps six people read, including three reviewers. Their pretense at scientific peer review is carried out by editor friendly souls that they take to dinner at conferences where they meet. Records at AACSB and articles in the Economist are especially enlightening about this weakness in US business schools. A better model is sorely needed. Perhaps HR should be dropped from business curricula.

The 19the Century paradigm, outlined above, was further structured by bringing trade school education into the university to limit questions raised and conflict initiated. This was done under the guise of “professional” studies in the university.  Initiated during the Germany of the 1930s it s not helpful in a changing society.  The widespread political scandal of students being charged extreme interest on exorbitant student loans is only half the ethical problem. The mostly ignored other half lies with what students are charged via mismanagement of academic resources by leaders following each other in taking student money and time to follow the personal sports fantasies of university presidents and non governed governing boards.  

This is being challenged in life-long learning skills as developed in life and on internet via asking why, then why not, then seeing the wow in new pathways, then inviting others to join the vision? This is seen world wide in beautiful side roads that by-pass crumbling infra-structures, avoid the out of date dead-ins and see the systemic in connections while seeing no need for the traditional analytic that requires weaker thinkers to find cause-effect conclusions in non causal networks.

The most that can be and often is said about formal education while faculty review the best student of student work is “It’s very hard to kill a talent.” The clearest evidence of current wrong doing in education is seen in how leaders in the leading industries became leaders by avoided the worst of traditional classroom and faculty pretending to know all while knowing little, to even nothing. Small values are being sold at large costs. Its time to ask the process for creating disabling professions why?

Thus, its time to ask why along with where shall we go?  One pathway is to work to see and and reduce Human Wrongs while working to Enhance Human Rights.

4. A way Forward in Management Education via confronting the Ethics in the 1776 Faustian Tragedy, a Dilemma bound into the US Constitution  (Scalia, a Sicilian representative on Reagan’s Supreme Court illustrates how to insure no resolution to the dilemma of soul selling, ever.)

  • Human Wrongs: Humans doing wrong are clearly expensive to humans and their larger environment. Some costs are immediate with some longer term, and some very long term and quite ominous for conditions of life. Even if some humans are smart enough to know they are doing wrong why do they continue?  Those humans seem to have a passion  for egocentric power as primarily measured via private wealth. To them the 1965 idea of “the commons,” or that which we hold in common to support the community, is only one more resource available to support their God-right to succeed. Or where success seems to go wrong the same God can be seen to have a plan to bring believers home to a nicer place while setting the earth on fire, or letting some enter heaven to retrieve their god given rights to many virgins. Supposedly this scheme of heavenly power is designed by men for men. These private rights for select men are clearly a basis for much wrong regardless of where the platform is for evangelical or Isis fighters. The private is what matters, where Darwinian theory of survival of the fittest (measured as fattest in humans) overrides all other ideas for human right and wrong.
  • Measuring the Wrong: Context is everything, even the basis of the long term health of all living systems.  It is clearly easy to see wrong doing where the commons are being deteriorated or emptied of resources in the name of glorification of self. As was shown in 1970s research the context is the common basis for social and environmental stability and well-being. When in the words of Eric Trist the environment becomes “turbulent” it endangers all living systems, including the social. 1975-1977 research in Sweden, carried out via major multinational corporations working in many countries illustrated many things. First was how the unquestioned quest for power in the short term often comes at the price of deteriorating the long term.  Often the short term defines the long term, where there is no long term. Arguing that there are long term technical solutions to ameliorate the wrong over time, as the National Environmental Policy Act public sector lawyers did in 1969, or arguing its not even a wrong, as private sector lawyers did, or even going so far as to say it doesn’t happen, as Congressional Representatives do in writing laws, is simply wrong. How can those concerned about the long term consequences of wrong headed results achievement in the short term respond? To start, how can we even know the difference between human wrongs and rights with certainty? Can we know a priori or must we wait until its too late?  There are at least two categories of human wrongs in terms of what they result from: 1) Some wrongs derive from simple lack of knowledge as to what is right. This relates to the infinite lack of knowledge in and about our world. The focus here is not with this stimulus for research. 2) Herein we look to areas where the right is known but purposefully ignored or avoided. The first category can be dealt with via better better research, more genuine leadership and improved management. How to deal with the second category poses intriguing challenges.  It is an integral aspect of strategy. It involves situations where the right is clearly known and clearly avoided. The first category deals with the right and wrong of purpose while the second takes us into the good and bad of morality.
  • Wrong versus Right, Bad versus Good: Wrongful actions are widely accepted as a threat to human existence yet from where do our responses to wrongs arise? Than, added to this is the more fine grained distinction between what is good and bad, via an ethical standard. A right action can be bad, as well as good. A bad actions can be good as well as bad. This is much like the first year law school course that instructs students to distinguish between the law and ethics, then “go with the law as written,” and “avoid the swamp of ethics.”  a) Practicing in a profession under this advice may be why lawyers are the least trusted profession in society, and most void of ethics, as well as writers of the incomprehensible.
  • Lawyers Insuring The Word and its Estranged Interpretation is always above Ethics: Since three quarters of the members of Congress were trained as lawyers this may be the crucial link to why politicians are so universally distrusted, especially in their competence to govern. If true, then we need to unravel the relations between the wrong and right and bad and good. Each is judged as based on a context, where the bad good comes from a larger context. b) Good/bad comes from two major sources:   1) Seeking purpose to escape mortality, and morality. To be remembered outweighs the moral merit. It has been noted by others how seeking the momentous overrides the ethics of what is being sought. This problem of humanity is presented in Ernest Becker’s 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Denial of Death,” that links the quest for the most significant with the highest forms of evil, often ending in war. Providing a foundation for this line of thought in the making of Western Man is the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faustian notes of 1775.
  • The Faustian Dilemma, or Tragedy, of seeking short term results at whatever ethical costs, while ignoring the longer term consequences from achieving those results, has become the definition of Western Man; perhaps even a changing Eastern Man. 2) Then, perhaps of greater longest term concerns, are human aspirations associated with explicit and implicit defying of the entropy law. The Second Law of Thermodynamics provides the longest term measure of merit of all human endeavors. c) Then, finally, we need look at education and its role in the equation of change of human wrongs in that it prepares humans to achieve results, to bypass entropic concern and to emphasize achieving results ever more efficiently; to do wrong things ever more efficiently.
  • Productivity and Attainment of the Trivial: It is as if the editors of the Economist Magazine had finally managed to elevate productivity to life’s purpose.  Associated with this is a legal system set up to administer the context for all social systems, to sort out definitions of right/wrong, order/disorder and lawfulness. With time legal systems come to be controlled by those with property to protect the rights of property, property accrued via our achievement of results. With time education becomes construed to enhance the process, not a quest for knowledge in general. Students are taught of the importance of purpose and results achievement, with little concern for the right or wrong of results.  Meanwhile separate results coalesce into a systemic whole were the distinction between right and wrong emerges in the consequences that were largely unknown and mostly unintended. In this manner results coalesce into context, thus context soon becomes everything. This everything becomes the challenge of our time but makes context largely unrecognizable until its mostly too late to respond.   While we invest considerable resources to avoid seeing the connections between intended results and unexpected consequences the links on occasion become embarrassing clear.
  • The human condition faces Climate Change: Humans increasingly face the dangers of the unresolved dilemmas in conditions of consequence emerging in their environments and their souls. The dual challenge from entropy processes and Faustian bargains seem intractable. We see this in the wrongs of families, organizations, nations and in the consequential climate of the planet. This phenomenon was researched in 1975 in “Environmental Protection: Analytic Solutions in Search of Synthetic Problems.” It deals the human centered short-term quest to build perpetual motion machines and organizations, where neither is possible. This is the Faustian Bargain on the grand scale.  The bargain is nurtured by too optimistic of science (i.e., we can do anything) and too pessimistic legal processes (we must be hard on rule breakers that often just seek another way home).
  • Context is Everything, Ethics is Important: Perhaps the best response it to simply include more context in science and and more ethics in law. Each will enhance the necessary appreciation of human wrongness.  Just now scientists and lawyers rely of ego-worship combined with very limited and often wrong knowledge to rely on case methods. Both can then point to  false clarity while demanding higher salaries. Both groups then avoid seeing their Faustian dealings while heading towards Faustian Tragedies. Both groups work to corrupt Socratic truths. Professional schools seem to be the proving ground for scientist and business people to achieve unfortunate objectives while lawyers are groomed to become corrupt politicians, judges and business advisers.
  • Human Rights: For example, learning to envision humans as members of a systemic cosmic whole, where life, ethics, context and knowledge matters, and shifting humans from unsupportable beliefs in unlimited worship of material wealth or dreams of immaterial religious escape hatches into a make-believe world of the irrational outside life allowing suspend of all reasoning.
  • From Human Wrongs to Rights, Corrective Actions: Suspending the arrogance encouraged in the educational process gained from education and instead turn to the fundamental questioning supporting learning.  Using criticism learning via questioning to look for and recognize the very fundamental difference between practices of leadershit and espousals of leadership. This will allow humans to shift from fiddling with the fixed to managing the moving.

Until concern for deeply seated human rights replaces extensive, almost limitless, investing in human wrongs we need to keep the societal pot on which we depend from boiling over. Our best short term approach is to “stir it.” Periods of boiling over, such as Europe in the 1930s, illustrates life facing challenges it cannot meet until the conditions of societal life are destroyed and humans give up on their trivial differences, i.e., differences that do not make a difference to life.

WHERE SHALL WE GO: ARRIVING AT AN AGENDA WHILE  STIRRING THE POT TO GAIN TIME

NOTES: 

1) Questioning the Educational, 2) Challenging the Judicial, 3) Nurturing the process of Questioning (i.e., Learning). Learning is denied by a legal order and supported in a negotiated order.  

General Objective: Having a social fabric based on Negotiated Order, not Legal Order

The legal order/negotiated order distinction emerged in 1970 while I was studying in Darmstadt, Germany.  It was quickly noted that in German culture the idea of “order” appeared as the most desirable of human conditions, to be achieved at all costs. One approach to order was seen as a legal order based on closely prescribed written rules of conduct. That order was mostly fixed and harshly enforced. I later saw this same attitude influencing the US approach to bringing and maintaining order in the US as seen in my international research comparing methods of environmental regulation. The US, largely counter productive, approach  was  designed to be extensively specified, sometimes oppressive, often ignorant in how it used naive lawyers seeking employment to oversee the process. Often their persona; wealth outranked societal objectives. The “strategy” of the 1969 NEPA Act was to build a legal order based on forcing others to come up with impossible technologies under legal threat. The result was extensive hiring of lawyers to delay the process and insure wrong doing was not punished.

Due to US law being based on case method interpretation it was more aware of variations in case by case discussion. The US system of “negotiation” perhaps needs to not be based on corporate status and personal wealth.  This is where those who risk billions in public monies are give public financed bonuses while those caught with a small amount of health related drugs go to prison for decades or those said to been involved in attracting a esteemed scientist in her field to teach NJ students is fired.

Human wrongs have come to be associated with legal order, human rights with negotiated order. Negotiated order is of transparency in process, open discourse of evolving result. Legal order requires secrecy of process and obfuscation of fixed result. Negotiated order lies on the qualities of the verbal, legal order on the quantities of the written, usually in incomprehensible legalese.

Legal order requires teaching the core. This is via fixed subjects such as Euclid’s postulates, for example, 4c, “the law of parallels.” While it is only a speculative postulate it is offered up as a law. It thus said to be a part of a foundation, to be believe and remember forever, not simple postulated upon. It is thus a basis for building a life with meaning and a chance to be productive. For those interested in moving above all this, for operating above education, is that they would ask why is this a rule, and it certainly is not a law? In fact it is a highly arbitrary postulate about how to deal with our world. As one moves to the edges one sees that our world is structured by such postulates yet it could all be different. In the universe and in nature there are no parallels. If Euclid were to be suspended or disallowed our environment, e.g., our buildings, would all be different. The results, where they occur, point to exciting alternatives to business as usual. It is similar with too great of reliance on the Bible, especially by those in leadership who have never read the document.

Herein education is set in an historic context. This is to see the basis of the long-held presumptions beneath education, and its widely assumed role at the center of a society. Based on growing conflicts within and between social groups, as well as between humans and their natural environment, a re-examination appears timely.

There are growing conflicts at the individual level relative to what education prepares us to anticipate relative to what we actually encounter in our separate realities. Armed with the growing sophistication of  armaments and information on how and where to use them the individual has more options for bad then the social group they hold a grievance for. Teaching people that they have a fundamental and unassailable right to bear arms to protect themselves and their social groups in order to maintain security insures that they will encounter the consequences of great danger and  significant social instability.  Perhaps attention should begin with that which is presumed to be most sacred and most timeless to the human project.

Education is crucial to society and fundamental to how a society defines itself and its ideals. Education has brought much to the idea of human situation over the past century. Since that situation is now facing serious questions then so must the educational component. The results of industrialization are at best seen as a mixed blessing for systems of life. At worse they are seen as a threat to life. Thus, at minimum we should see what the options are. There are different approaches in the form and content of education. Students have changed, the world has changed, and the challenges to the environment of live are great.

Individuals and species need new ideas and practices for relating to each other and to nature. As a basis there needs to be a renewed understanding of our universe. The widely accepted idea of “Business as Usual” is seen to be in decline as the consequences of its results. If it continues it may mean the end of business as we humans have come to know it.  Much innovation is needed all around.

At the base of human aspirations we see how conquest over nature, including human nature and the nature we see in humans that we may disagree with, is not working. One likely outcome will be irrational usage of the technology of industrial progress, including nuclear explosives by governments or individuals. Social change to deal with this will need to emerge alongside climate change. Change in the social and technical areas is expensive. Changelessness, the current societal operating ideal, is expensive to maintain until we arrive at its troublesome end state.

The time is limited for viable responses. To gain a bit of time we need to delay the boiling point. Thus, the metaphor behind this is: “How do you keep a pot from boiling over? You stir it.”  Now begins the stirring.

Humans made a fateful choice in 5th Century BC, Pre-Socratic Greece, a choice that continued throughout all Western empires and major social groups, including public and private organizations. Consequences of the choice continues into the present. The choice came from a seductive image of humans believing they were capable of maintaining stability and a status quo in the face of change; most of the change being unpredictable. This grew from a homo-centric image of people overpowering nature via innovative social and technical means. This allowed for dreams of permanence of some ideas and some individuals via the omnipotence allowed by “maintenance.”

Humans embraced an idea that they could create and maintain a state of “timelessness.”  The attention once given to designing the timeless has lately shifted towards and idea of humans working to achieve  “sustainability.”

It is perhaps worth noting that the same choice was taken in 5th Century BC China as in Greece.

The dream of changelessness can be seen to drive a nightmare of environmental consequences, categorized as natural change, catching up with humans and their preference for focusing on short term results. It is similar to the work of Chainsaw Al Dunlap when he won rave reviews on Wall Street for doubling Scott Paper productivity in the very short term by laying off half the employees and closing down all longer term activities. This was not a problem for Dunlap in that he moved on from Scott prior to Scott moving down.

The alternative is for humans to learn to live in the more fluid world of natural and continuous evolution and change. This is the essence of what underlies global climate change, and what it says about human prospects.

Steeped in early fear of the unknown, Greek society adopted to the idea of stability. Along with this came an exaggerated fear of difference within and over time and a growing reverence for sameness. The culture of the usual was embraced while the unusual was shunned, even feared. In more poetic terms the few escaped the cultural bondage of Plato’s Cave, but even they returned to its warmth. Standing against this ideology of timelessness was Socrates, but alas he did lose his version of the fight. Other versions continue in the wider contemporary societies, especially in their schools and courtrooms.  The idea of maintenance of the static resisting the flow of the fluid continues beyond ancient Greece.

Significant societal resources have gone into the maintenance required for stability. Perhaps as high as 90% of human effort in invested in maintaining business as usual. In an environment of change maintenance become expensive. It must build walls against change from external and internal forces. Education is key to maintaining was is or in dealing with internal change. The emphasis as been on the former, with the later being the most challenging. Climate change illustrates the difficulties for the human project in the latter.

Were humans right to place business as usual as the central value in the human project, and thus the purpose for education? The pre-Socratic choice was fundamental to the challenges facing humans then and now perhaps even more so. They are the source for human conflict with their environment and each other over the scare resources flowing in business as usual. This is easy to see in our conflict with  nature via costs of climate change intrinsic to that conflict.  Did humans get it wrong in 500 BC? Would an emphasis on change and allowing the questions that invite change via learning have been a less expensive means to build the human project?  This is the key question in that which follows.

The choices about educating a society’s youth can be characterized in many ways. Should we depend on what others have called po dunk universities, carrying out a largely unquestioned agenda in the shadow of Ivy League leadership?  This would be seen in many Rutgers and New Jersey Institutes of Technology working as yomen, via public sponsorship, to meet ill defined public interests. These would be operating under the halo of a Princeton University that is presumed to know about where the educational system is going. Widely accept in New Jersey is this system the best New Jersey can do? If we discover that Princeton doesn’t know and NJIT doesn’t care what would we do?  Both are often seen to behave like small fiefdoms managed by badly prepared individuals who act like presidents of second rate profit making company, with no profit.

Probably we can do better. Education, widely accepted as a doorway into the future, is an important subject for examination. What should the content be? What should the means of transmission look like?

The NJIT/Princeton dichotomy seems managed to extract money from students and their families, all for questionable ends. There is a much sounder, more historic difference in society that once selected would profoundly effect education form and content. Herein the choice will be between reality as changeless of changing.

One side of the dichotomy over change was articulated in 5th Century BC Greece by Parmenides. He spoke of “the way of truth” where reality is on and thus change is not possible. Existence becomes timeless, unchanging, uniform and necessary. This is called the world of “changelessness.”  He advises us to close down our sensory conceptions as they only access he world of appearances which are deceitful and false. This came to have a large impact on all of Western Philosophy via the teachings of Plato. In his famous cave metaphor the Princeton graduates were the few allowed to escape from the bondage and see the daylight above before returning to manage the cave.While not the subject matter herein almost the same value system was present in the East during the same time, where Confusion values came to be the package for Eastern Changelessness. What is the alternative? In the East it was clearly Lao Tzu.  What is it in our culture of the West? That will be the emphasis herein.

Where a society emphasizes the importance of the wonders of what was and what now it there will be a concentration of timelessness. Humans naturally strive for stability to live out life but does this stability need to be anti change? What will be the price paid for this stability, especially if what humans do in their actions to maintain stability is what creates instability? Those actions to preserve changelessness are the actions that mask the initiation of major changes. It is like the result we strive for is to resist change yet in our actions to resist change we create more momentous change as a consequence.  Another way to see this is to see how our educational processes focus inward on the core of what humans know, while the avoiding the turmoil at the edges. If true the consequences are frightening for our species.

Current education gives emphasis to the core of what perhaps once was and now is. Armed with fixed operating assumptions and set societal values citizens are seen to strive for stability. The other attitude is more in line with concerns of Socrates, of how to allow society to be more of a flow, more like natural processes. Advocating change he encouraged youth to learn of movement and growth in ideas relative to what a society is and what it wants to become. Thus, he was seen as an enemy of what many in charge saw as the most fundamental of tenants to keep society and their position in it fixed – stability. Many leaders, in name only, came to define stability as changelessness. This is most easily seen in the US Government where grid lock is seen as a good, or better then the obvious worse from change.  Socrates never spoke against stability, but did argue for a more dynamic form to accommodate the environmental surprises to a society, surprises that lead to the demise of the society.

Rethinking the downside of the tradition of everyone using the industrial highway is becoming ever more timely. Seeking less traveled byways to then find the yet to be known of our world seems crucial.  Even lacking this argument for supporting research and development, we now see how the current highway is expensive and hard to maintain, and its use has unfortunate consequences on the environment.  We need to pursue more informed information pathways, not remain fixated on those that are to move mas, not ideas.  We need to find ways to embrace the dynamics of Einstein while reducing the emphasis on Newtonian statics. Knowledge via the industrial route was highly mechanistic. The question for efficiency, of doing the wrong faster, replaced concern for doing the right. Early in industrialization nature stepped aside, temporarily, to watch. Now that the consequences are unfortunate, or untenable, humans are became angry, mostly at themselves and the consequences of their results.

Learning from alternative routes to knowing allows reconsideration of the more natural, the more systemic and less hierarchical. The differences can be seen in non-Euclidean geometry, systemic thinking and ethical transparency via via the metaphysics of presuppositions.

Education concentrates its process on acquisition/memorization of what is known. Stability of inputs and outputs is crucial. Learning is different. It comes from questioning, from asking why and why not. It moves from the core of what is know to the edges of what is constantly unfolding. It seems more dangerous in that by definition it lacks predictability. There are clear reasons for why our systems emphasize education and seem to shy from learning. Its somewhat close to the dilemma of the Catholic Church, “The Church is dead, long live the Church.” Of course there are costs associate with the stability of educating in the answers associated with the “I know.”  It is expensive to maintain fixations in a dynamic setting. There are cost associated with knowledge being relevant or even true.

Two important topics challenge the implied stability in knowing: The Second Law of Thermodynamics and The Faustian Tragedy.

The Mother Law, The Second Law, the “Entropy Law”

Humans’ seem shy, afraid, angry at, even repulsed by the Second law of Thermodynamics. This is where universal entropy processes move from order to disorder, from heat to cold, and the more active the more rapid is the transformation. Humans have no capacity to reverse this process het they market and trade in schemes of perpetual motion, carry out practices that rely on reversibility, hold to dreams of immortality, worship recycling and push dictates of 19th Century economic systems that bring 21st Century consequences.

This situation of entropic denial is important. It defines our current human aspirations. It invites perpetual motion fantasies in: machines, mechanisms and social processes, all of which are disallowed by entropy, but are widely praised.  Opposition to entropic considerations becomes a religion, a barrier to critical thinking. It seeks leadership in those appearing to exhibit the overblown confidence of “I know.” We thus seek and find leaders into unfortunate directions.

Yes, reality has a way of eventually presenting itself and dismantling the base of “I know” as is now seen in the  troubled beginnings of the 21st Century. While avoided in chemistry classes and totally left from courses on economic processes, the role of entropy has never been connected to problems in the educational processes. Entropy is at the core of the deterioration in climate change. Current economic ideas and ideals coupled to religious strictures encourage practices leading to consequences in our environments.

Humans seem out of touch with larger processes. How can we create cultures that are less expensive to their environments.

Entropy ought to be at the heart of educational processes. Avoidance of the role of entropy in our universe provides a clue as to the inherent flaw in educational thinking and practice. Short term results are what matters, while longer term consequences are left to the wonders of technological development, and then when those technologies are disallowed by entropy, to the conditions for our grandchildren.

“The Entropy Law is still surrounded by many conceptual difficulties and equally numerous controversies. But this is not the reason why most natural scientists would agree that it occupies a unique position among all laws of matter. Sir Arthur Eddington even maintained that the position is “supreme.” The important fact is that the discovery of the Entropy Law brought the downfall of the mechanistic dogma of Classical physics which held that everything which happens in any phenomenal domain whatsoever consists of locomotion alone and, hence, there is no irrevocable change in nature. It is precisely because this law proclains the existence of such a change that before too long some students perceived its intimate connection with the phenomena peculiar to living structures. By now, no one would deny that the economy of biological processes is governed by the Entropy Law, not by the laws of mechanics.”

“The Entropy Law and the Economic Process, Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, 1971, p xiii.

If perpetual motion associated with reversibility of machines and immortality of humans was disallowed to the human condition, how would education need to be changed?  If the education process was itself visualized as a perpetual machine that simply encourages perpetual motion thinking, and this was seen to be wrong, how might we change it? Where might we find the “road less travelled”?  Probably we would begin to look at the edges of our systems, especially for the cracks appearing at those edges.  In the words of Leonard Cohen, “Cracks are what lets the light in.”

The Faustian Tragedy:

Education ought to deal with light, not dark.

Humor in Levitation, Rigormortus in Education, Hope in Learning

A fundamental difference exist between the three categories of humans in school:  1) levitating, 2) sitting through professional education classes and the 3)pursuit of learning. Levitation is like floating, as in taking it easy. Education mostly requires acceptance of what is and memorization of the elements of the is. Learning is fundamentally different. It relies on individual passion, a need to know, and requires questioning 0f the is and speculating on the ought. Learning requires moving through data, finding relevant information, building knowledge and seeking wisdom. The first three are hierarchically connected while wisdom is not. It is of a different logical type. Wisdom is outside any idea of hierarchy, as is most of learning.

Except for wisdom the hierarchy of data-information-knowledge relies on the 10% rule, where moving to the next higher level finds only 10% of what was encountered in the lower level relevant. At least 90% must be left behind. More of one requires less of the lower level. This is the essence of the problems in data collection, such as that of NSA surveillance. Often they encounter too much data, too little information and almost no knowledge. Wisdom concerns do not come up in NSA processes, except to avoid them.

Levitation is similar to the zero base learning category of Gregory Bateson, wherein little note it taken of processes or result thus its an appearance of wisdom, without the wise. Education on the other hand is a societal process to pass on the basic assumptions thought to be required for societal stability. Stability is the crucial objective, even where the assumptions may not be valuable or viable.

Learning is of a different logical type. It involves raising questions about the assumptions presented in education.  Education offers predictability, continuity and stability.  Learning and its wow effect offers none of this.

In practice levitation simply avoids all issues of challenge and change. Education, on the other hand involves work and strives for stability of what is and what was, while seeking to maintain stability in what will be. Education management is mostly about setting parameters, limits and work schedules for teachers and students. Prescription of class and homework times is important to it success.

Learning processes are fundamentally different. They seek new assumptions for what was, is and ought to be. It sees “I know” as the greatest impediment to learning. Surprises are hard to schedule, or even locate. Schedules in fact tend to kill learning motivation.

In what follows the bias is with Learning. Learning is difficult to encourage but easy to kill. Students often learn despite an educational process, not because of it, except possibly as a motivator of questions as to why?