Flocking

Self-organising ourselves

The methods for organising ourselves are not obvious, mostly because we are all institutionalised. The fact that you can read this means you have learned to read, and this has most probably be done through a schooling system. 

We are interested in exploring techniques which do not call for a complete break from institutional structures, but techniques which operate within our current institutions and simultaneously transform them. We are the agents of such change.

 

Tendency to Categorisation

I would rather resist the tendency for categorisation which is endemic to academic practices, and thus inevitable in a PhD. I see this as mostly a spurious attempt to assert control over a dynamically complex environment, to effect a false simplicity, what Ackoff described as academics defining problems (which are solvable) as compared to the mess which people must deal with. There are various ways to slice the pie, which belie the perceptual framework and purpose of the pie-cutter; we shall be exploring theoretical frameworks later, but again, which theoretical framework to adopt. I am not satisfied with any of it. That is not to say that we can not make progress, but that near-all the ways laid out for us as academics adopt unsatisfactory theoretical position which inform practical methods and result in output of thesis and reports which are not applicable for practice in schools. If this is the necessary modus operandi of academia, then I am not fit to conduct a PhD. However, if it is not necessary, then it behooves me to point out the theoretical error, consequential methodological fault, and to propose an alternative.

Ideally, I would like to provide a mathematical model of the problem space, but to do so would be to adopt the customary misuse of mathematics (graphic ‘models’ using lines and words to map relationships between concepts, or misuse of statistical modelling and its stochastic philosophical basis). I have also been restricted from adopting prevelant tools to within the frame of reference (academics reading this paper), and I am forced to adopt an ‘object-based’ positionality, regarding students and teachers through a theoretical lens, even to the point of using ‘telescopic’ methodology, indicating the distance we as academic readers adopt in our study of ‘them’, the ‘other’. This positionality of the ‘altern‘ is well known in social anthropology, and is implicit, inherent, and apparently unavoidable in ‘harder’ social sciences such as Information System Department.

It might be suggested that I adopt qualitative methods in the PhD research, but these suffer from the same epistemological assumptions, highlighted strongly in critical realism. It might be further suggested I explore the problem within a ‘softer’ discipline like social anthropology, a discipline which allows a more post-modern, interpretivist lattitude. But this misses the point: the disorder is in the adoption of ‘hard’ science methodology in social sciences. It is suggested that social science is itself a mess. It is the unfortunate combination, and re-combination, of wholesale adoption of the authority of mathematical techniques which have evolved in the study of objects (geometry, statistics), with the false precision of ‘categorisation’ and ‘logic’. I am not saying anything new. Bhaskar has pointed out the latter as the ‘epistemological fallacy’, while the scientific endeavour of ‘after-the-fact’ experimentation and analysis has been criticised by many phenomenologists, well summarised and exemplified by Shotter.

Simple Solutions are Excluded

I would like to put forward a simple potential solution for low-level disruption in secondary school, a solution I derived as a teacher. But the theoretical tools are not sufficiently understood and adopted by academics who are in the whole suffering from the same problem that teachers are, and indeed all adults within paid hierarchical structures. The solution can never be created from within. It appears, from my experience of Information School academics and reviewers, and a reasonable review of academic literature, and observance of the critical and chronic disorder of practice-theory divide and replication crisis that the problem is systematic beyond school structures. If social science had comparable gains to the hard sciences in the last 100 years, it would be equipped with the economic and political tools to support the scientific evidence of our environmental degradation. Sadly, science is as much a political football as education is, something I heard my fellow teachers complain of throughout my teaching career. There appears to be no way out of this problem, something certain the postmodernists attempted to conceal in their explication: their powerlessness, the futility of the western philosophical tradition. Nevertheless, philosophy departments continue and indeed thrive in a consumer led world. Business as usual. Much like a recent trend in chess, despite its death-knell when Kasparov was defeated by an AI twenty years ago. Which is to say, that AI will no doubt eradicate the need for much academic practices, but the legacy and the ‘entertainment’ of such mental practices will continue, like the games of chess. Indeed, philosophy and much of social sciences as Wittgenstein’s language games.

Of course stochastic processes are useful for big-data analysis. What is being described, or admitted, is the mess that is mathematical methods to the psycho-social condition we find ourselves in, as academics in university, as teachers in school, or indeed politicians in goverment and business leaders in companies. Removed from the frontline of environmental sufferance, we can continue operating in our cities. There appears to be no way out of this problem.

Which is precisely what ABC state does: it provides the space for non-institutional activity. And it is precisely because it was formed with non-institutional partners, that is children, that gives it validity. And it is thus expected that such a solution will be invisible to teaching practice, and neglected in academia, and even resisted by those who read this. Nevertheless, the ABC State intervention is simple. Simple enough for young people to adopt. The problem is, the system of adults. This is not to say that the ABC State ‘works’. It is merely an information-system tool. Students will not magically develop the skills to collaborate. They are not ‘innocent’ or ‘blank slates’, but already exhibit various states of institutionalisation resulting from formal education (learning to ‘behave’), while experiencing a wide variety of cultural practices while living at home, which anthropologists may term ‘enculturation’, or therapists ‘personality’, or sociologists ‘dispositions’. We are operating within institutional contexts, secondary schools and in our case university departments, with paid roles and job-titles and remits. This is much ‘harder’ in social ontological terms than the ‘softer’ psychological proclivities or dispositions or psychic forms which inform our thought, feeling, action. Children are inherently ‘softer’ in their state, than adults. Pullman’s imaginative rendition of a changeable ‘demon’ for children which fixes in adulthood, comes to mind; a more accurate model might be that the adults fulfilling specific roles have fixed ‘demons’, and it is this ‘fixedness’ which constitute the cogwheels of our institutional social ontology.

Are We Trapped in Institutional Forms?

To escape from this, we require the adoption of certain conceptual forms which do not map well to ‘categories’ and ‘logic’. The mathematics of fractals, for example, or the oddity of Mobius strip, have only had minor impact on the social sciences. Fractals have evolved from iterative geometry, and have significant application in biology. It is not surprising that nature is predominantly non-linear in biological nature, as compared to the relative simplicity of physical nature. It is the physics of natural objects which has developed most of the mathematical methods we have evolved, and the stochastic development in particle physics. The adoption of fractal mathematics to social sciences has been minimal, and certainly there is no formal application in language or psycho-social space that I know of — other than as metaphor, in the same way conceptual models are represented using triangles of associated terms, eg Bandura agent-relationship-environment.

I am not in a position to offer a fundamental for mathematising social dynamics. The equivalent to ‘distance’, the primary measurement in physics. Nor an alternative to the geometry, which is inherently spatial in nature, and thus bears structural contiguity with physical objects, despite their 2d reduction. The shape of a triangle can be formed in the constellation of stars, a circle abstracted from a flower-head. The fundamental of psycho-social engagement is not physical. It may be emergent from physical basis, brains and responses to physical behaviours. With the most basic adoption of a HIERARCHY of emergence, there are generative mechanisms which have no determination from a lower level. Indeed, we may even entertain influence from a higher ontological striation: the eyeball which tracks the words on this page move according to some higher level intention, not the intentionality of the eye-ball (though a minor aspect of this construct may exist in the neuronal structure of the eye, or the brain structure which evolved from tracking objects like birds; the intentionality of composing meaning is still well within our hypothetical understanding of academia, even though computers appear to be simulating it rather well).

A Mathematics of our Psycho-Social State

The fundamental for the ‘mapping’ of psycho-social dynamics remains outwith the efforts of this PhD: however, the core practice which is suggested, is contained in this PhD. It is described as ABC state meta-method (and the Reflexive Reading meta-method which was rejected in the first Confirmation Report). The self-enclosed nature of ABC State, that the data derived is useful for the practitioners, tacitly imbedded within individual behaviours, nominally evaluated and expressed by participants, operating at the collective level while interfacing with the institutional role of the teacher, bears the principle upon which fundamental of psycho-social dynamic may be discovered. ABC state is ‘data’, in that an ABC may be attributed to a class. It is ‘information’ in that the ABC data may be interpreted as a possible description of the social dynamics within a class. The ABC State is ‘knowledge’ in that teachers may act upon this data, behave in prescribed ways, and indeed be receptive to non-institutionalised or spontaneous thoughts, feelings or actions. It is ‘wisdom’, in that the ABC state is contingent on not only the students, but the teacher, and indeed anyone who interacts with said class. It is, almost entirely, vacuous to non-interacting participants. This goes for other teachers, or indeed academics. However, if any adult, teacher or academic, was to interact with a class, this evaluation, and its longitudinal evaluation may prove helpful. It would be wise to consider it, and to compare it with the actual experience the adult may have with that class. It may correlate to the interacting adult’s own notion of what ABC state means, and it may differ. This is inherent in the ABC state tool. It is a meta-method. It is necessarily meta-cognitive, or meta-evaluative, or meta-theory.

The mathematical potential lies in the sensitivity we might bring to the ABC state. The nominal data of ABC state is hardly precise. However, it frames what we are interested in: the psycho-social dynamic. Within the ABC state, is a potential mapping of intention as exhibited by individuals and manifested collectively. And the ABC state is also fractal in nature, where the ABC state of the class, is similar to the ABC state of the individual, or the school as an instance of an institution, or education as an institution, and other institutions such as academia, or indeed the entire social structure of western living. There are self-similar forms between categorising and linear logic (thinking), with personality and dyadic relations (conversing), organisations and institutional logics (school and university). ABC state correlates the individual with the collective, or part with whole, with the part being an active agency and the whole being a sum of all active agencies; correctly speaking it is whole and other wholes in a non-linear arrangement. Less like linear thinking and more like imaginative, emotional, or ‘spiritual’ ‘thinking’, and engagements across a dinner table or at a party, or the meshwork of organisations; that is, non-linear engagement. ABC provides a framework for this non-linear engagement. The benefit of any bunch of human beings establishing an ‘A’ state amongst themselves, is a greater sensitivity to the psycho-social dynamics by which mathematisation becomes more feasible. That is, when people listen to one another in a harmonious way; where there are not ‘thirty people’ in a room, but rather a unity of attention, or motive, or purpose, or behaviour, while at the same time a diversity of attention, motive, purpose, behaviour.

This may appear contradictory, and indeed it is according to standard logic, law of excluded middle, etc. However, we are operating within non-linear logics. We ares imply attempting to provide ourselves with such meta-methods which help us coordinate ourselves according to these non-linear practices (achieving an A state) rather than collapsing back to linear practices (achieving a C state). Our global sibling status, in our differing cultures and social structures, are C-state. We will not be able to resolve the level of disorder we exhibit if we remain at C state. We must pursue potentials for achieving A state amongst us. Whether this is in classes with students as peers, or amongst us as academics as peers, or between organisations as adults, as peers. And I suggest, it might be useful for social science to lead in this way. To derive methods which are conducive for enabling A state, and thereby demonstrating the skills, attitude, mentality and behaviour which exemplifies A state.

What will this Maths Look Like?

At some point, we may then introduce a form of mathematics which is reflexive in practice. It is not a mathematics of objects, but a mathematics of subjects. That is, this new form of mathematics is not about projecting shapes or algebra on the physical world, but to reflect on the mathematics as representing our psycho-social state. This may appear outlandish or extreme, but it is actually rather mundane and is happening already. It is what children see when they learn numbers, or shapes, or algebra, or words. It is simply we are not often listening to what they think or see or feel when they are engaging these ‘virtual’ forms. We have been adopting techniques which treat them as objects, rather than subjects. Another, more prosaic example would be to observe the simulation of birds flocking on a computer screen: the computer program does not have a definition of flocking, it is an emergent phenomenon of multi-agent modelling. The observation that it is ‘flocking’ is made by the observer. There is an ontological phenomenon of ‘flocking’ best exemplified by starling murmuration perhaps. But again, the birds are not ‘flocking’. They are doing whatever each bird is doing, the result is the phenomenon we can observe externally (or another bird perhaps) as flocking. This mental image (at whatever level of mind which observes it) is enough to amaze humans, and to invite other starlings to join in — not to ‘flock’ but to operate whatever the rules are (ie stay close, head in the same direction). The individual is not ‘flocking’; the collective is ‘flocking’. Such is the state of ABC state: an A state is ‘flocking’. At some point, we may introduce a graph, or some algebra, that is not ‘about’ psycho-social dynamics, but reflect the individual’s understanding or experience of psycho-social dynamics. More precisely than a film, book, music and other complex symbolic presentations, as we resonate, appreciate, enjoy. That is, a more full-bodied ‘understanding’ of our psycho-social condition.

I bought some lights in preparation for recordings. I also set up a projector and played around with looping the computer camera to the projector which projected on me. Very hard to get the right effect. Have a look at the experiment below. Very crude. And in this case the projection was recorded: I recorded my face before, and then projected it upon me, which my phone captured from the side. I can’t get the right balance of live camera and reflective projection; the complexity of size/angle, and lighting beyond my capacities and tech.

 beep

Projective Viewing

The idea is to project live onto myself. It should create an interesting visual effect. A bit like jaxing, where you loop your voice into your listening of some music. There is a slight delay, which may be artificially increased. There’s a sweet spot where one really does become aware of what one is saying as one is saying it. I tend to surprise myself by what comes out. The camera-projector is a variation on this. And it might be useful to play around with this wrt to the viewer, who might then bring into question their projective processes, what they see, what they interpret, what they co-create, or construct. Creating that meta-positionality is important.

Which leads finally to the plan.

The Plan

Combining the last few posts, Academia, Atemporal Fallacy and Light Show, we start to get the idea of what I am up to. I hope to record the various system solutions I have developed, with some background material on how I came up with them to support them. And perhaps some meta commentary. The idea is to bring all the systems together and within one hour describe the super-system, which is inconceivable by any one of us.

It is important to stack the systems, embody them, practice them, all simultaneously. It is not just about pointing out some thoughts, at arms distance, or laughably at telescopic distance. It is about the viewer, like the reader in reflexive reading, being concurrent. And it is about my communicating or sharing in such a way which embodies this too. It is a thing to practice, so that the actual talking/listening is consistent with the larger scale tools we are using, such as sqale, or the fiction being created in Urb, and the exploration in maths with XQ or with business people.

To perform all this over a potential ‘viewership’ of twenty years. A bit like Harry Sheldon of Asimov’s Foundation. The idea is to iterate this over winter, perhaps only to the end of 2020.

Imagine people who might be able to develop the skills if they entertain the possibility of multi-system change in 2021, they will be formidable practitioners by 2030, let alone 2040. Earth-Time-Zero, etc.

Invent some practices, like equinox all gathering to concurrently exist, meditate or attend to specific things. Not quite a ritual. Or the simple math of π^20; requiring only just over 3 people over a year to ‘see’ the possibility; in 20 years, the population of the earth.

Decided to do a search on self-discipline in education, and the results were rather thin. Most were spurious analysis confirming what we know, and then plaintive recommendations. See below for three examples.

‘Results suggest that discipline infractions are associated with more negative perceptions of school climate and provide a rationale for the use of proactive approaches to school discipline as a way to enhance student perceptions of school climate.’

Sarah A. Fefer & Kayla Gordon (2020) Exploring perceptions of school climate among secondary students with varying discipline infractions, International Journal of School & Educational Psychology, 8:3, 174-183.

‘Findings suggested that creating a sense of a whole school team-oriented culture may hold promise for enhancing school connectedness.’

Carney JV, Joo H, Hazler RJ, Geckler J. Students’ Perceptions of School Connectedness and Being Part of a Team: A Brief Report Evaluating Project TEAM™. J Prim Prev. 2019

‘Overall, the findings provide novel evidence suggesting that students’ engagement can be fostered by supportive teacher-student interactions.’

Pöysä S, Vasalampi K, Muotka J, Lerkkanen MK, Poikkeus AM, Nurmi JE. Teacher-student interaction and lower secondary school students’ situational engagement. Br J Educ Psychol. 2019

 

Clearly a form of lunacy is being demonstrated. The tendency of academia to pathologise both psychological and sociological behaviour, means they analyse what the problem is and provide evidence of it, and then suggest vacuous recommendations like these. Only evidence of problems, no solutions.

Academia This Week

The papers which actually tested interventions weren’t much better. Some reported conflict of interests because the interventions were supported by tech and the owner of the providing tech were amongst the writers; others who had the same authors didn’t even reveal conflict of interest. All involved training of staff, which means high overheads.

Critical Realism

Pragmatism and Critical Realism –
Transcending Descartes’ Either/Or? In: Understanding Management Research
By: Phil Johnson & Joanne Duberley Pub. Date: 2011

Phe-noumenal

Pragmatism and Critical Realism –
Transcending Descartes’ Either/Or? In: Understanding Management Research
By: Phil Johnson & Joanne Duberley Pub. Date: 2011

how we treat kids

Managing with Mindfulness: Connecting with Students in the 21st Century
Author Tony Yeigh
Publisher Cambridge University Press, 2020

Some nice content on the way, though. Critical realism as between Empirical realism and Superidealism, or alternatively ontological realism and epistemic relativism; a nice model of Kant’s noumenal as real and phe-nomenal is experienced; and a nice timeline of how science has changed how we deal with kids in class. Trust business management to come up with some nice diagrams.

During my walk to get some bread this morning, I ruminated over the fact that the other participants at this Critical Realism group did not contribute to my observation, and in fact the leading professor argued against it. We read this paper (the Johnson & Duberley one mentioned above), and it seemed clear to me that the difference being made between ‘standard’ critical realism and ‘pragmatic’ CR was that standard CR used retroduction and pragmatic CR introduced all manner of terms which indicated a future orientation: ‘anticipation’ and ‘manipulating’ implies intent and agency, ‘Thus Dewey defined truth as ‘processes of change so directed so that they achieve an intended consummation’ (Dewey 1929b: iii) where justified knowledge was a socially constructed artefact created so as to aid humans in their practical endeavours of ‘settling problematic situations’’, ‘Man must prove the truth, i.e. the reality and power, the this-sideness of his thinking in practice [sic]. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking that is isolated from practice is purely a scholastic question. (Remmling 1975: 3)’, ‘actual realisation of expectations’, ‘projective role of epistemic subject’. The Prof didn’t see it that way.

“Atemporal Fallacy”

I think I will call it the ‘atemporal fallacy’. It is equivalent to the epistemic fallacy which is to take the experienced or theorised world for the actual world itself. The disembodied academic is also atemporal. Words appear to exist as static thing on the page. There’s a big move to include theoreticians in their social context, which is what postmodernism was about. Critical Realism attempts to find a spot between this subjective reality and the ‘external’ (this word was actually used in this article, obliviously it seemed to me) world. The nature of it is caught in some kind of co-emergence of structure-agency. Not well defined, and everyone is confused about it. Bhaskar, the originator of critical realism, emphasised retroduction, which obviously contains the word ‘retro’ in it, a clue which is dismissed by the prof, in order to explain present conditions; one invents some mechanism which accounts for actual events. Whereas the thrust of this paper was to emphasise the testing of an idea, which necessarily involves a future projected intention.

I brought up the necessity for us to develop reflexively well behaved tools. I don’t think academics have any idea how structure-agency works in terms of writing and reading. So obvious to me. They rejected my Confirmation Report and Reflexive Reading — in fact the prof above is one of the reviewers who failed me. We are prone to chase our tail if we don’t appreciate that this is happening as we talk/listen in the here and now; or as we write/read. The ‘chasing the tail’ is an external observation; the internal experience is chasing this thing as object of attention, like the authors of this article who think they can grasp a ‘concrete’ objective. And readers follow, and end up trying to reach some kind of ‘stable understanding’ within themselves, which is internally consistent.  What’s needed, if we want to have any understanding of how we work is to acknowledge that the intersubject state is inherently co-dependent, or interdependent. Unless we stabilise it ‘between us’, we fall foul of stabilising it in ‘writing’ or ‘in a person’. Classic Shotter, by the way, who promotes as well as demonstrates a before-the-fact hermeneutic.

Anyway, the simple bit is, ‘atemporal fallacy’. We need to understand our temporality. Pointing at things is the fastest way. Any form of extemporisation, and the moment is gone. And academia fills articles, books, libraries, harddrives with these extemporalisations, simply increasing the theory-practice divide. The practitioners is immersed in the temporal flow, within the moving structure of inter-dependence, the moving mind and intentions and actions of others. They need to act within this social context. And I think intellectuals should too. Might actually help us in some significant way.

Dialogical Organisational Development

Also got Dialogical Organisational Development from Wendy, which shows attempts at collaborative welfare state development in Denmark. Changes are occuring, but the question is, how deep. And the basis of the multiple-system change we are suggesting, the depth is unquestionably deep. I suspect the DOD will suffer from the same financial restrictions which traditional economic imposes. Incremental change is insufficient. A fundamental shift at multiple systems is required.

Here, study and experiment provided the basis for organizational learning and development rather  than analysis and implementation of known concepts. The term Dialogic OD marks a return to a  set of original virtues on taking action in changing organizations – taking into account the past
30 years of research and developments in practice.
The unifying point is that a family of ideas comprises a field of basic positions, with an  accompanying set of methods for practice. The basic positions are known as social  constructivism, complexity theory and self-organization, discourse and dialogue theory, the theory of complex responsive processes of relationship formation, generativity and collaborative studies (ibid). Together, these positions seek to paint a picture of organizations as complex social communities bound by interactions, language and conversation.

From p66 Towards More and Better Welfare Through Dialogic Organization  Development: The “We Figure It Out Together” Project, by Jacob Storch and Julie Nørgaard Aarhus, Denmark, International Journal of Collaborative-Dialogic Practices, 10(1), 2020: 61-83. And from p67:

The purpose of methods is their use in practice! Central to the aforementioned understanding of dialogic change is the confrontation of a classic dominant idea first articulated by Kurt Lewin (Bushe & Marshak 2015: 12) in 1947, which holds that interventions follow a three-stage process
of “unfreeze, move, re-freeze”. Underlying this assumption is the notion of organizations as stable, with change being temporary in nature. This perspective was suited to the industrialized organizations of that time, in a market where development was slow enough to allow for ongoing adaptation of organizations based on analysis. Today we know that organizations are dynamic, complex social phenomena, and that change is a constant ongoing activity. As the post-industrial age has come to dominate a global, digital world, the need for a new approach and understanding in relation to change is greatly needed.

I bring this level of change, and it comes from in-the-field practice, from the white-water constant change of engaging adolescents freshly. In terms of academia, I need to remind myself that academia is one of the oldest institutional structures we have, outdating companies while at the same time being the most recently commercialised sectors in the modern world, otherwise I shall end up waking up hot and bothered, rather than pursuing more pleasant mindflow.

If the methods I employ are not acceptable by this department or indeed this university, I put this down to the underlying archaic ‘stable’ structures of departments, outdated knowledge base, inferior study methods, ineffective social science axioms. It will change, but whether it will lead the change or be merely pulled along by changes (like it will be with advent of AI), is up to people like my supervisors. They are gatekeepers of change at the moment, and their understanding of collaboration is poor. They nonetheless are trying to help me, but only as much as they are fulfilling the traditional structures within which they are placed and which they are aware are insufficient for the level of disorder we face globally.

My supervisors are not exhibiting the level of courage needed, but this may be more to do with the discipline they are in. I must persist with trying to define the DIKW which ABC State appears to subvert.

 

It’s my birthday, 51, and I woke around 4 and thoughts buzzed around until I reached out to record them. Not the usual mindflow, but agitated. Disrupted. This, it appears, was my birthday gift for my 52nd year on this planet. 

I’m halfway through transcribing the 1.5 hour yabber, and I remember my original plan while teaching in 2007 which was to create a remarkable class and then invite academics etc to witness it. This was the only viable way that movement might be achieved in a relatively painless way. Result led. Let the academics try to work out what was happening in the class. Let them study what ABC state was, and what combination of motivation, self-discipline, self-efficacy, and the myriad constructs they use to understand psycho-social dynamics. As it happens, the job I took, the first full time teaching job in ten years, was a disaster. It ended up ok, but the kids didn’t respond as positively as I would have liked. A mixture of student institutionalisation where they wanted to test whether I could control them (C state), a personal liking of the previous teacher, and the requirement to create my own lessons in a virtual environment and create materials for every lesson. The conditions were against an uplifting experience for us all. The kids pulled through, though, and there was some enjoyment towards the end of the year, incredible loyalty by the toughest sets for the hassle they have put me through for the year. I had spent 10 years in education avoiding this, all of it, from the testing of discipline implementation (something I could do minimally), to the creation of content for lessons (I was more interested in social dynamics and metacognition).

And here I am in university, and experiencing the very thing I new back then would be difficult. And I am in a department which is quintessentially ‘category’ manipulators: Information School, a department which has evolved from librarians, can you believe it. I mean, the irony is ludicrous.

The Impossible Academic Space

There are a combination of conditions which make it particularly hard to put forwards the ABC State solution which I developed. After my attempt with the Confirmation Report, which rejected or rather dismissed the Reflexive Reading solution I proposed, I have spent a few weeks revising a Report which focusses exclusively on the ABC State. And I wake up in the middle of the night realising that what I am attempting is impossible. I have developed methods to support the results I achieved in schools, involving simultaneous systems etc (see left column below); but these methods are rejected because of multiple assumed positionality of current academic practices (middle column below). The ABC state is rejected and the methods which I use to validate it are also rejected; I am encouraged to adopt categorical and stochastic methods, employ thin linear logic, reduced model of agency, distance to the subject, critical position. If I accept these, and by extension into the object system, ABC State is invalidated. I will never be able to put together an appropriate argument. Just look at how ABC state is defined, how it relates individual to collective, the subjective evaluation of the ‘state’, and non-definition of ‘self-discipline’, and the expected institutionalised response of teachers…

My Methods

  • simultaneous systems
  • immersed social
  • self-organisation
  • meta-cognition
  • result-based (try first)
  • self-organisation
  • social fractal seed

Academic

  • categorical thinking
  • stochastic math
  • models
  • ineffective theory; Bhaskar not used well 
  • distance; first order maybe second order cybernetic
  • invisible academic; 
  • invisible subject
  • after-the-fact science
  • atemporal
  • academic gaslighting

Social science

  • reflexive reading
  • verification
  • third order cybernetic
  • transformative praxis
  • relational ethics
  • before-the-fact
  • correspondence
  • dissipated control
  • action research
  • meta-method
  • positive Hippocratic Oath

I have described this before. I need to redirect my attention along a different channel: that an alternative academy awaits, which is network-based, which escapes from the institutional problems which current academia, universities, colleges, schools currently suffer from. And the only way this may be achieved realistically, is if there is sufficient funds to enable it. And by funds, I mean through Sqale, because if the funds are directed through traditional organisational methods, then the same institutional problems will persist. We need an economic for networks to fund the academia-network. Think mycelium, think soil. This is the level I need to keep working at. Not at ‘knowledge tree’ level, or the tiny branches which I am encouraged to pursue.

So, in the end, the Confirmation Report document is not really to pass the restrictive gateway to a PhD. But to collect together the evidence such that retrospectively, it may be accepted because of the altered structure of PhD, perhaps through another discipline, and conducted by someone else.

It is obvious that I am in a C State environment. I haven’t thought about how does an individual act when surrounded by students who demonstrate C state behaviour, being institutionalised, and being administered by people who are using institutional violence? This is a bit harsh, because the review process for PhD is to invite someone into the fraternity of PhD holders. However, if they reject my argument and RR without actually addressing the issues and solutions I have brought up, ‘because they don’t understand’ is inexcusable, considering how simple Reflexive Reading is.

 

The economic condition has corrupted academia thoroughly. The notion of creating a space within which people are free to pursue exploration of ‘truth’ or ‘knowledge’ for the sake of truth or knowledge, is no longer viable. Perhaps this bubble of freedom remains intact in the arts, but the financial concerns of the university as an entity are thoroughly commercialised.

“Regressive Pedagogical Practices”


“…the introduction of new technologies (e.g. Edwards & Clinton, 2018), the harvesting of big data to enact ‘learning analytics’ (Munro, 2018; Williamson, 2018), the recruitment of very large student cohorts (Arvanitakis, 2014), and the promotion of the ‘student-as-consumer’ model (Nixon, Scullion, & Hearn, 2018) may foment a perfect storm of regressive pedagogical practices. Students are unlikely to develop efficacious agency whilst subjected to a barrage of such restrictive interventions.”

from Langer, S., Bunn, G., & Fellows, N. (2018). Towards a Psychosocial Pedagogy: The ’student journey’, intersubjectivity, and the development of agency. Learning and Teaching in Action, 13(1).

Accept the Situation

The trick is to let myself understand this is the case. Those within the institution find it hard to buck the effect, because they are paid by the institution, and their sense of identity and positional power is dependent on the fraternity of practitioners in that institution.

I am in the unusual position of being at the boundary, as always. Not sufficiently trained to demonstrate the skills required to ‘enter’ the institution as a qualified PhD. A PhD student, in the antechamber. And I am aware that by acceding to the demands of entry, I forgo some aspect of the change I bring. And thus, I am the unreasonable man who expects the system to change in order to accommodate me. It is not quite this, in truth. It is genuinely my lack of skill. However, the problem remains that should I have the skill to promote the positionality of Reflexive Reading, I shall be a member of the academy and suffer from the institutional pressures, should I try to take a position and become a paid worker.

Since I am not interested in being a paid worker, since I can do that as a teacher, though perhaps the life of being an academic would suit me, my age, temperament, and might provide better service. So, I would like to continue with the PhD, conduct the research in schools, or conduct the Delphic Study on Reflexive Reading.

However, what I must acknowledge is that, in all likelihood, any significant change is only going to happen through economic shift. That is Sqale. When academics and practitioners are freed from the organisational payment structure, and yet have some serious flow of money which enables them to keep pace with the brightest minds in the world. I think there are plenty of ‘retired’ academics who have more freedom of thought and action, but why should they commit to the level of conceptual and institutional change that is required? I’m happy to work with anyone, of course, who is willing.

“grow the network of participants, readers and authors, who have the courage to introduce the system wide changes we need.”

USE SCALE

startup

 

  • Sqale for everything: projects are created on sqale, contact with others are done through sqale, tracking thanks for people who help with projects, remunerate participants; use Sqale with any form of engagement
  • Urb: come up with narrative stories which reflect my experience, challenges; metaphoric, and explorative, so that not just like boring blog posts exploring possible solutions, but emergent within the fantasy world… perhaps? Perhaps share stories which suggest the transformation required to others… Certainly have characters yabber on about what they are trying to do in their respective system, and someone yabbering on about whole system change
  • ABC State: Yes, I need to push this along. Can ABC state be used for all social engagements beyond a dyad? Actually, I need to relate it to tango, perhaps.
  • Action Cycles: and other business related practices relevant for confluence collective. We are working together.
  • Reflexive Reading: and the other techniques to provide basis for social science. Use the theoretical underlabour of Bhaskar, third order cybernetics etc. The social version of Hippocratic Oath.
  • XQ: Define the maths for this. Use maths to explain.
  • Zero Social-Distance: Need to practice this, while engaging others live. And Jaxing for the sharing of internal and responsive content.

Make it Happen

I need to start practicing all the systems.

I can’t keep going on about each one of them.

I need to operate all of them. So when I am operating one, they make use of the others.

I can not proceed with eg trying to talk to environmental folk in Hope Valley using eg email. I need to operate the business method of human-to-human engagement, using Sqale. And not to simply give a talk about, but to invite action while listening.

 

“I need to practice simultaneous systems in my mind, so that I do not fall into using traditional methods.”

 

 

I am compiling a new introduction and structure for Confirmation Report for PhD, and hit upon the brilliant idea of inviting supervisors to help me with the initial ‘translation’ of my concepts, constructs into the linear format of ‘problem’, ‘aims & objectives’, ‘research questions’ of the Confirmation Report. No can do. Back to submitting my best guess, getting detailed written feedback without engaging the basic concepts or errors I am making. Ho hum.

My Lack of Categorical Expertise

The problem is, I think in terms of systems, simultaneous systems, and a thoroughly temporal immersion. I don’t think of ‘constructs’ as academics do, or ‘theoretical lenses’, and certainly not correlations between categories. I am sure there are other academics (probably in different departments) would might appreciate how I think, because they do so too, but probably not as naturally I do. I have developed this from a natural talent, and honed in the field, the fast, live, thriving environment of classroom of kids, what I think might be called ‘dense multi-reflexive environment’ according to third order cybernetics. I’m not sure, because the complexity of the theoretical construct is quite high level, a scaffolding of concepts, rather than something which has emerged from first-person engagement. Nevertheless, I am fairly confident the description fits what I have experienced. But more academics are category people, defining terms, and then relating terms in complex structures of logic. I must admit, however, that even were I to meet with academics who can appreciate how I work, and perhaps appreciate what I am attempting to do, I suspect there will be other problems to face, like their allergy to mathematics. Systemic Inquiry seems like a good fit, but it is born from therapy, from minute dissection or at best appreciation of individual human beings, or at best small groups or constellations of people. To accept the level of dynamic I am suggesting (the madness of 30 kids in a classroom), and to talk about a tool which operates for such participants, again takes the control away from their ‘therapeutic’ control. And though I can follow the theoretical flow of eg Shotter who weaves together Wittgenstein, Merleau-Ponty, I can’t reproduce the arguments. I simply don’t have the linguistic control.

The Holy Shrine of Logos

Right. So. This much we know. Should this exclude me from PhD? Of course not. Most of science is conducted in a non-verbal field. It is only social science which is category-bound. Now, being in Information Studies sounds like a good place because it has something to do with data, numbers, and how they are applied to human engagement. However, it seems to be mostly an extreme form of category-manipulators. Librarians. Where words have meanings defined in libraries. It is quintessentially the place for order. The holy shrine of Logos. Good… grief…

The Idea of Front-Wheel Drive in Academia

The supervisors are used to the student (me) providing some document, they critique, and then we have a meeting where they go over points. All after-the-fact. I produce something, then they criticise it. It is so dull, and so obviously does not fit what I am doing, my method, and what I am describing… I just can not believe they don’t get this. But that’s the situation.

Then late Friday evening I had the brain-wave of inviting them at the front-end of the process. They can still critique what I have written, and I often add all the small corrections into the next version. But the bit problem is, we aren’t getting the basics right. I have failed to do the basics. And the basics really are basic. What does ‘problem’ mean to them? I have listed six which are compounding the issue of why kids in schools are still being disciplined, there is no joy, liveness is killed, and all the attempts to get ‘love of learning’ and ‘learning facilitation’ and ‘child-centred learning’ and ‘discovery learning’ all mean a hill of beans because of a vertical chain of conditions which reinforce a factory setting of social organisation. The criticism of education has been done for decades. Alternative solutions proposed at all levels of the problem, but in the end nothing has worked. I have come up with a solution which worked for me, and I’ve spent a few months encountering the problems which inhibit the kind of solution I have come up with, not only theoretically delineating but in practice while attempting to do this PhD. Six problems, vertically aligned, or aligned in psycho-social conceptual and institutional structures, which inhibit liveness in classrooms. Now, which of these should I be describing as the ‘problem’?

And nowhere in their headings is ‘solution’. Just aims. And objectives.

So, instead of having a meeting to go over issues they write about in their critique, things I am capable of reading and implementing without a meeting — what if we have a meeting before I write? That is, to answer the basic question above?

This is in light with reflexive reading of course. Another ‘technique’ which naturally arises, if we consider the constructing process of the writer, live, tapping out these letters one at a time, and you reading this a phrase at time, and somehow meaning assembling in the mind with whatever passes as meaningful in your mind. The process. Not the object, the content. The process. And so, the basic process of deciding which of the problems should be addressed in what they call ‘the problem’. Or where in the main document should I introduce the theoretical framework of Critical Realism, in the Literature Review or the Methodology? The mind boggles with such basic questions.

So, I am inviting them to take part in the initial matching of my fluid, system thinking with their cups of meaning, their categories. Basic stuff.

PhD are Not Creative, but Scientific

That’s the response I got. Can you imagine…?

Left to my own devices, I describe things as they are necessary to compile meaning in the reader’s mind. However, I am dealing with academics. Categorical, logical thinkers. Not system, fluid, bodily-immersed thinkers. And the processes and structures which they are only willing to accept, delimit, restrict and deny the very processes I am operating, demonstrating, controlling in order to communicate, and are the very nature of psycho-social dynamics in a class — the live bits, not the chalk-and-talk information-download version of education which I suspect is somewhere in their heads.

They took my request for a single meeting to try this out as a request for iterative collaboration. They seem to be ignorant of the fact that their feedback to my submissions is iterative, and if I listen to them as I tend to do, in some sense collaborative. They are not mere examiners. Though even examiners are part of the iterative process of learning, it seems to me.

Good Grief

I was hoping to write something which clarifies. I don’t want this blog to be a sequence of moans. 

The level of miscommunication… makes me ill.

I am 50. I have experience of solutions which worked. And I can’t communicate them. Or at least, I can write about them and describe them simply enough, but the people reading/listening, the institutional structure, the linguistic categories, the intellectual filtering… is mind-boggling. It only self-replicates itself. And so education will continue in its sorry way, and indeed social science.

They are intelligent, and mature, people. To have this level of miscommunication… is embarrassing to me.

I can’t even go forwards with the material I want to think about, with experimental material to do with economics, or even academia, because of this… bottleneck.

Makes me sick.

However, I have to make use of the fact that this is the condition. I am in the worst place. And so, if I manage to write something which works, here, then it will work anywhere. If a seed grows in concrete, then that’s one resilient plant, and the seeds will grow anywhere. 

Or, and here’s the danger, the gobblidigook of pseudo-academic jargon-rich material is unreadable by both academics and lay people. In which case, what have I achieved?

I don’t mind failing. I have had the backup belief that whatever I produce will be useful in some sense. It shows my attempt. It contains the concepts, and quite precisely describes the problems, together with solutions.

Also, the process has helped me gather a little more information, deep information, on the state of academia, update my understand of postmodernism and its after-effects. I am informed, to some extent, on academic developments over the last 30 years.

However, the conclusion, and it is a sad one at that, is that social science is completely useless. Like dolphin caught in a net, tumbling around, the more it has attempted to riggle free, like the incredible efforts Bhaskar has demonstrated with critical realism, the more ensconced in category complexity, the net around his work so dense even proponents of his reject his later material. Ludicrous.

Basic, basic errors of practice. So, social science requires a revision. A major one. And Reflexive Reading and its consequences are fundamental. However, that is only going to get traction because another aspect of the system works, not because RR itself is going to persuade an academic of change.

Maths

I think, I need to devote myself to creating a mathematical description. I didn’t want to. Not for some time, but it looks like I need to give it a go. Consolidate some of my thinking about maths into academese.

If I am going to fail doing this PhD, then I might as well learn something on the way. Not just how shitty the procedure for doing a PhD is. That’s obvious. Not much learning there. I need to come away with having learning something about maths and its interface with psycho-social dynamics.

Three possible PhD’s. Education. Economics. Maths. I wrote proposals for the first two. Only education was ‘accepted’, but in reality, it hasn’t been. I didn’t want to do maths. I just thought I am not ready to do it. Actually, it won’t be about XQ. It is about mathematising social engagement. A little more like the economic, Sqale, but more extending from RR, or ABC.

Purely academic. Interesting, I think.

I need material so that when I write a book, or maybe attempt to write an academic paper, I have explored some of the academic terrain, so I can orientate myself with the reader, and perhaps provide some interesting views and concepts for the edification of passive readers, and pioneering thought-scapes for active readers.

Thanks for being here.

 

Believe in Love

We individually possess the power to grow one or the other: shoots of peace, or weeds of war.

And if any one of us feels we do not, then possess the humility to apologise and trust those who hold that power for us that we may one day reclaim it. 

Get Started

And by seed, I mean tiny.

In the Means, Is the Making of the Ends

Memorial weekend. Hour of worship on Sunday passes without a word. The convener does not convene. A friend shares her thoughts about the seeds of peace and the seeds of war are within, and we need to ensure we plant and nourish seeds of peace, in the wider world and within our own local community, the relationships we have between one another.

I add one of my threads of thought which was a small realisation that the work that a student puts in on any specific day (learning a bit of maths) is completely continuous with the future reality they will live. We tend to think of consequences, something happening later as a separate thing: if you study, get your qualifications, you will get a job. They are ‘logical’ consequences. Whereas, it is the moment of mathematising, practicing a bit of maths, which is essential foundation for whatever job they do, say in engineering. And this goes for maths, as for all things, social dynamics, and spiritual practices — all conducted moment to moment in our daily lives. To which, the friend retorted with a concise statement: “in the means, is the making of the ends”. Nice.

However, the meeting was dour. People not contributing, not shining their light. I asked if everyone was ok, and there were grumbles that everything was fine. Obviously it wasn’t. After the meeting, I asked the friend who had piped up, who was not aware of anything, and then my contact person who then revealed various things which had happened in the last few days. A kind of back-biting which involved me, and also a confrontation of misery with light. I am not going into the details of it. Suffice to say, no matter what level of politic, international or around a kitchen table, the dynamics are the same. And it comes down to ABC state: are we operating self-discipline to overcome the negative aspects which might arise within us (AB), or are we letting those aspects out and then backing them up with our conscious state (C)? And the mis-state, of accidentally allowing negative seeds to develop as shoots in our social world, but when addressed, they are gardened, or they are brought up and presented tor others to help us in our inner turmoil, both of which are B state?

The recourse to an external authority (with teachers it is the use of sanctions) is based on an institutional relationship and empowerment of individuals. In my community, I am in the dependent state that I am not a member and decisions are made by a collective body of members. It is the nature of community, that collective decisions are made, which is rather different than having a teacher in a class appointed by state. There is ‘dissipated control’ in the members. However, I am not a member. So, abuses are easily manifested, just as with teachers or any individual or group of individuals who have governing control over others.

Religious Community Harbours Appeal to Spirit

The second national lockdown began last week, and preceding it I volunteered that this time we are entering winter, not spring as the first had been. The days are getting shorter, the nights longer, and I suggested that this is the time where we need to fortify and intensify our spiritual efforts, or as Quakers like to call it, light within. This is my intention. I have not brought it up formally, but I think it needs to be said, and put forwards as a possible thing for people to practice. A week into lockdown and I hear of careless and mindless judgement, and worse, the collective reinforcement which only goes to make things worse.

The good thing about a religious, or a spiritual, community, is that they attempt to attribute authority to an ideal form. Whether it is buddhism with their mindfulness training precepts, christian or islam or judaism with their sacred texts, commandments or rules (which is why we call religion ‘religion’, rules which bind), or pagan sacred animism (the sacred in all things), there is something which is appealed to beyond profane and pragmatic matter. Yes, religion as institutions have a lot to answer for historically, but that is a socio-political dynamic which is problematic for all hierarchies. The difference between political and religious is the notion of a spiritual force or forces at work, personified in some way or other, an abstract symbol which is beyond the reasonable ‘flag’ or ‘constitution’ of a nation or mission statement of a company, or any figurehead. There is a spiritual dimension, even if this dimension dissolves into the unknowing of ‘God’ or the unknowing of ‘nothing’ or the unknowable ‘life-force’ of all living things. And it is this force which is appealed to, and exercised, rather than any institutionally derived procedure (like teachers with their discipline policy), or even religious procedure (excommunication, mediation, etc). 

So, to which end of the ABC spectrum of social organisation does this appeal to spirit reside?

A Typological Quandary

I’d like to think it might be brought about through C state, but I must admit on reflection I think it is best placed as a pull in A state. To place it as an external force to ‘correct’ the wrong intention of an individual leads to the abuses of institutional force, the negative or dark form of the christian tradition, the threat of punishment in the fires of eternal damnation.

The positive appeal, the gardening of the soul which is espoused by the more gentle religious strains, such as Quakers or great vehicle of Buddhism, perhaps Sufism or Tao or white-witch shamanism, is a way to invite the positive state within the individual being. 

What then do we do with people who insist on backing the dark side, attaching themselves to ‘dislikes’ and ‘animosity’ or misery?

This is not to be confused with averting one’s attention from misery, suffering and so on. But to bring light into such spaces. To recognise the sacrifice of people giving their lives for their loved ones in a war, their families, their way of life, or even their God. Or to relate to those who have suffered in childhood, who carry with them forever the imprint of the wrongs done to them. Patience, temperance, acceptance. And yet, doing so in a way which is not hopeless, or desperate. To retain one’s light, the courage of facing manifest darkness, without wishing to change or transform it. As we know, the transformation of such things must be done from within. All we can do is sit with such sufferance, do what we can. It does not do to join another who is drowning if one does not have the skill of swimming. Neither should we walk away, but instead attempt to find someone who can help; or let go of those concurrent practices which are concurrently resulting in the other drowning. The first demands conscious attention and trust in others, the second involves relinquishing (or transforming) behaviours which are harmful. This latter is the hardest to point at, to address, to listen to, to action because it is the very darkness we see others suffer from.

Such interactions with the pain of living, the sufferance which we bear are truly a wonderful aspect of what it is to be human, our nature of compassion. However, what do we do when people attach themselves to behaviour or intent that is harmful? This is our problem, as humans, and it is problem we have not managed to resolve in our social institutions over the millennia.

Ok, So… What Can We Do About It..?

I have always had the opinion that this problem (of people attaching themselves to ill-will) is not something we are going to resolve in the individual. We are small-minded, this is our nature. And to generate a culture which eradicates this small-mindedness won’t happen for thousands of years. However, what we can do is rid ourselves of social institutions which aggrandise, celebrate such behaviours which are natural to us. Minimise social impact, celebrate it within ‘safe’ spaces. This was the original inspiration of the Olympics: to compete safely, rather than fatally. We appear to be caught up in politico-economic structures which have fatal consequences, to the point we are not only killing or exploiting our fellow human beings, but also causing irretrievable (in terms of human lifetimes) environmental harm. Like adolescents destroying the house they have grown up in, partly from the excesses of partying and partly rebellion to all the injustices suffered in it.

There are interpersonal techniques aplenty to resolve differences. Most of them are complicated, involving third parties and organisations (ie C state interventions). I devote my life to change of our social structures, using self-organised practices (capable of enabling AB states). Social fractal, if you will, where our moment in reading (Reflexive Reading), our means of sharing (Sqale), how we do business (Action Cycles) or learn in schools (ABC State) and so on are self-similar. They operate at the individual-to-individual level, and are different to the many social structures we have evolved ‘by accident’ or at higher levels of social organisation (kingdoms, empires, national governments, private companies). These ‘meta-methods’ operate within our individual psychology as they interface other internal psychologies without mediation of third parties or organisational empowered individuals. For example, ABC State, namely the space by which AB states may emerge contingent of consensual engagement.

But where does this put us with ‘spiritual’ practices? What do we do with people who are espousing ‘spiritual’ practice and yet exhibit intentional harmful action, or harbour negative judgement or ill-will towards another? I personally think that Descartes and Fox described it, and I suspect there are corollaries in other religions. The key psychic mechanism which enables a human being to orientate themselves appropriately. (I will write about it properly when I give myself the time.) I don’t think it means everyone is going to be ‘fine’, because of inherited problems both internally from childhood and presently impressed upon us socially. But it can help people at least understand how, and thus when they exhibit harmful actions and their attention drawn to it, they have recourse to a level of understanding they have met with consciously. That is, they are given the opportunity to not align their conscious state to it, to let go of it. That is, they apologise and inhibit that action immediately. If they repeat it, then they admit this problem to the community — not to retain it, but with collective acceptance comes the collective responsibility of others to address it, counter it, and with help, enable the individual to transform it themselves, empowered by their support.

Please Go To Your Room and Think About It

In smaller terms, closer to home, as a child may hear from a parent, “Please go to your room and think about it.” Please self-isolate. And actually, lock-down is a great time for this. 

I have done this with my life. Having failed to engage adults, and I mean my own parents and siblings, and friends I grew up with, I proceeded on a path of greater self-isolation. It might be called refuge, but not in Buddha or Sangha or any other form of religious body. Merely isolation from human social engagement. The roots of the problem are deep within individuals, but simultaneously manifest in massive social organisations which gives so much momentum to our destructive practices. As I have said, my attempt is not to join those doing a valiant attempt at countering such machinery higher levels of organisational complexity; rather, I have retained my focus on the minimal structural local, individual-to-individual, engagements.

The individual should get the idea of self-isolation, as I did. And remain in isolation working either on the roots within themselves (discerning seeds of peace from war), or the structures between us which cause the problems that we end up exhibiting (the mechanisms which feed seeds of war). After all, if we all have enough to eat, fair share of resources, I suspect the level of war we will inflict upon one another will be on the virtual battlefield, in sports and games, in the agony of scripted melodramas, and the real passions we will suffer from for millennia to come, love and its loss, may manifest fatality only between individuals, not replicating at collectively fatal level. Our tragedies remain personal, nor burned in to our social structures. This includes religious structures; these need to be ‘disaggregated’ just as monopolies should be.

This is doable. In our lifetime. The tools are in our hands. We simply need to have the courage to use them, and allow ourselves to be changed. To allow a new generation of human beings who are not warped by money or institutional violence and all the other things which seal adults in the interminable duality of “it’s the way things are” and “change others (or control others through organisations)”.

As the good friend said, “cultivate the seeds of peace”, with one another, and alone.