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* BFU Weekly Journal *
documenting creation of a
Visionaries Learning Center

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Rediscover the pleasures found in self directed learning.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Accelerating Change

Consider your world view.

We are entering a depression, a valley that our leaders have led us toward. In the bottom of that valley we will leave much of what we knew about how the world works. As we leave the depression in 5, 10, or 15 years we will be entering a new world with new rules.

Think of pioneers crossing a desert in their wagons. The had to drop off cherished possessions so as to survive; but they kept moving. Their goal was an entirely new style of life. It would have been nice to arrive with baggage from the past, but proceeding toward the goal was most important.

The changes that are before us are foundational, much of what succeeds today will no longer work where we are headed. It is our adaptability, not what we think we know, that will allow us to excel. Our education to this point has been centered on facts, retention of specific knowledge, and the quest to obtain proof of completion.

Where we are going we don't need roads.

Not only will society change, but the very assumptions that underlie our actions will be challenged. It is not facts and knowledge you will be pursuing, it will be action derived from understanding processes you will be seeking.

This will not be a time for sitting and learning over extended periods - we are entering a time when learning will be accomplished while in motion. Changes will be made as an action is evaluated, new vectors will emerge.

You might as well get used to embracing change - you will be living with it.

Start preparing now.

Think, do, then think again.


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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

We Need New Questions - school success

I woke with my head racing with important thoughts, I stumbled to the computer and wrote down this headline "We Need New Questions," and went back to bed. Unlike the last time I had a dream and wrote down its meanings this time I returned to bed without anything more than a headline.

Today that is all I remember.

Next time I will write more before returning to sleep; frequently my best work is done in the middle of the night. I will guess at what new question started this line of thought, perhaps you might add a new perspective or question in the comments.

At BFU we have spent time trying to understand where government sponsored education went wrong. Why are the students so poorly served, spending more than a decade in forced education and finishing with less curiosity, less spontaneity, very little actionable knowledge, and no desire to act independently.

"What's the difference between a bright, inquisitive five-year-old, and a dull, stupid nineteen-year-old? Fourteen years of the British educational system." - Bertrand Russell

  • Yes -- the educational bureaucracies were charged with creating useful citizens and participants in industry, but the results even there have been pitifully poor. Continually praising academics and giving more money to their institutions has resulted in graduates with declining functional abilities.

  • Yes -- bureaucracies were the most efficient way to handle masses of people back before information technology. Treat everyone the same, and most will receive some benefit.

Bureaucratic persistence as a system after its grievous faults became known is understandable - many institutions had a symbiotical relationship with mankind's larval endeavors and aggressively resist separation from the source of their sustenance.

But perhaps these are answers to the wrong question.

Consider all the time, money, and sophistication that have been applied to schools. Do the dropouts and inept graduates created represent success? Perhaps students we consider poorly served are an intentional byproduct of motives other than those of the citizens.

What if a uniformly dependent culture within a controlled society is the goal?

Then formal education would not be a failure that needs to be remedied, but an overwhelming success that needs to be eradicated.

"A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body." — John Stuart Mill


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Monday, November 12, 2007

What Communications Imperative?

Is it time to expand the debate?

For quite a while we at BFU have ranted about the end of bureaucracies. We see technology empowered individuals sucking the air out of over inflated organizations; education, corporations, government, religions, unions, and others of the ilk.

This has happened before, Gutenberg and his printing press empowered individuals to share knowledge that had been the exclusive domain of governments and the Church. New organizations flourished and morphed -- change came.

It is happening again, on a much greater scale, and much faster. I've just read an essay that has an interesting take on this. I may disagree with some of the premises, but that is never a good reason to ignore the arguments. The fact I disagree with the author on some points is a reason to pay closer attention. I might be wrong, his different point of view might uncover truths I would never have considered.

This does create hope. If what I see as a cause for the diminishment of bureaucracies, and the bureaucrats that inhabit them, is but one part of the puzzle; this may result in an implosion rather than a slow deflation.

Read the essay, even if you don't believe it, what will be the effect if The Inner Ring does believe it? This will impact your life, that should make knowledge about the reshaping of communications an imperative.

Change is upon us -- it is our responsibility to prepare.

"In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists." - Eric Hoffer


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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Sharp Essays On Communication

A very nice collection of essays by Richard Mitchell can be found by clicking on the title of this post.

Short, tart, and only a little sweet, they offer insight into the taste of words we serve. One of Mitchell's favorite quotes displays the fire over which he crafts his appetizers to thought.

"The shame of speaking unskilfully were small if the tongue onely thereby were disgrac'd: But as the Image of a King in his Seale ill-represented is not so much a blemish to the waxe, or the Signet that seal'd it, as to the Prince it representeth, so disordered speech is not so much injury to the lips that give it forth, as to the disproportion and incoherence of things in themselves, so negligently expressed.

Neither can his Mind be thought to be in Tune, whose words do jarre; nor his reason in frame, whose sentence is preposterous; nor his Elocution clear and perfect, whose utterance breaks itself into fragments and uncertainties.

Negligent speech doth not onely discredit the person of the Speaker, but it discrediteth the opinion of his reason and judgement; it discrediteth the force and uniformity of the matter and substance.

If it be so then in words, which fly and ‘scape censure, and where one good Phrase asks pardon for many incongruities and faults, how then shall he be thought wise whose penning is thin and shallow?

How shall you look for wit from him whose leasure and head, assisted with the examination of his eyes, yeeld you no life or sharpnesse in his writing?" - Ben Jonson

Enjoy the sensory indulgence of thoughts well expressed. Prepare yourself for a meal of significant thought.


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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Education Quotes And Ideas

Before I get back to journal posts, perhaps we need some expert quotes about the formal education question. Actually the first and the last quote may be enough ...

The desire to know is natural to good men. — Leonardo da Vinci

Make me the the master of education, and I will undertake to change the world. — Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz

One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself. — Leonardo da Vinci

In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists. — Eric Hoffer

I know very well that because I am unlettered some presumptuous people will think they have the right to criticize me, saying that I am an uncultured man. What stupid fools! Do they not know that I could reply to them as Marius did to the Roman patricians: 'Do those who pride themselves on the works of other men claim to challenge mine?'" — Leonardo da Vinci

The philosophy in the classroom of this generation is the philosophy of government in the next. — Abraham Lincoln

I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more if they had known they were slaves. — Harriet Tubman

The children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone would be interdependent. — John Dewey

Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul. — Mark Twain

Government will not fail to employ education, to strengthen its hands and perpetuate its institutions. — William Godwin

In summary, the present survey of biographical information on a sample of twenty men of genius suggests that the typical developmental pattern includes as important aspects: (1) a high degree of attention focused upon the child by parents and other adults, expressed in the intensive educational measures and, usually, abundant love; (2) isolation from other children, especially outside the family; and (3) a rich efflorescence of fantasy as a reaction to the preceding conditions. It might be remarked that the mass education of our public school system is, in its way, a vast experiment on the effect of reducing all three factors to a minimum: accordingly, it should tend to suppress the occurrence of genius. — Harold Grier McCurdy

Every child is born a genius. 9,999 out of every 10,000 are swiftly, inadvertently, de-geniused by grown-ups. — R. Buckminster Fuller

The group consisting of mother, father and child is the main educational agency of mankind. — Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr

To be nobody but yourself — in a world which is doing it's best, night and day, to make you like everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting. — e.e. cummings

The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking. — John Kenneth Galbraith

To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical. — Thomas Jefferson

Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature. — Benjamin Franklin

In the eighteenth century it was not common to suggest that slavery was a sin against fellow human beings. In the nineteenth century it was not common to suggest that women deserved the same privileges of citizenship as men. In the twentieth century it is not common to suggest that children can learn without attending schools. All three are examples of how the cultural attitudes of a population influence not only their view of reality, but also create social structures that reinforce and perpetuate those views. Science, medicine, and law were used to keep slaves and women in their place until cultural attitudes towards these people changed; likewise, I think, we are in the midst of a gradual change in our perception of children. — Patrick Farenga

School was the unhappiest time of my life and the worst trick it ever played on me was to pretend that it was the world in miniature. For it hindered me from discovering how lovely and delightful and kind the world can be, and how much of it is intelligible. — E. M. Forster

My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school. — Margaret Mead

Education rears disciples, imitators, and routinists, not pioneers of new ideas and creative geniuses. The schools are not nurseries of progress and improvement, but conservatories of tradition and unvarying modes of thought. — Ludwig von Mises

Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality. — Beatrix Potter

I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays and have things arranged for them that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas. — Agatha Christie

I am beginning to suspect all elaborate systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less showily. Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself , instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he builds a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experiences. — Anne Sullivan

People who make careers out of helping others - sometimes at great sacrifice, often not - usually don't like to hear that those others might get along fine, might even get along better, without their help. - John Holt


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