Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Why don't we get real reform in schools?

 I was astounded a few days ago to learn that Promise Neighborhoods is not revealing the results of the $60 million grant it made to the Castle Park neighborhood in Chula Vista two years ago.  I attended Castle Park Elementary as a student and worked there as a teacher, so I'm quite familiar with the culture of the school.  I had a feeling that the Promise grant wasn't going to help much because the people in charge were basically the same people who had driven Castle Park Elementary into the ground ten years ago.

Here's my recent post on the problem.

Below is an article with some thoughts about why we have inadequate leaders most of the time in most areas of endeavor.

The problem?  Hypocognition.  We just don't know enough, and we don't know what we're missing.  It's the "unknown unknowns" that Donald Rumsfeld talked about.

Why are these clowns winning?  Neuroscience explains incompetence of all sides 
Paul Rosenberg

...[W]hen a very smart idea or very smart person comes along, the organizations are not necessarily very skilled at recognizing that person’s genius,” Dunning said.  “We have lots of data showing that very top performers, their top performances are very much missed. The genius of their ideas are just missed by the group.”

...University of California, Berkeley, cognitive linguist George Lakoff, whose work illuminating the cognitive and communicative differences between liberals and conservatives—”Moral Politics,” “Don’t Think of An Elephant,” “Whose Freedom,” etc.—has found a wide audience centered in the progressive activist base, but has yet to seriously impact the political professionals whose collective failure I alluded to in this story’s first paragraph.

When I interviewed him recently for Salon, Lakoff even highlighted the concept of hypocognition—that “we don’t have all the ideas we need.” One example he cited was the concept of reflexivity, “the fact that thought is part of the world. That when you’re thinking, it’s not separate from reality, it’s part of reality. And if your understanding of the world is reflected in what you do, then that thought comes into the world through your actions,” which helps to explain, in part, the power of conservative mythos, even when it’s mistaken as a matter of fact, a matter of logos.
Lakoff also pointed out that “Hypocognition itself is an idea that we need.” There are things going on in our social and political world that we don’t have names for—and because we don’t have names for them, we can’t think and talk about them coherently.  So, we have conservatives on the one hand acting on their mythos, mistakenly believing it’s true as a matter of logos—which is one kind of incompetence—and yet, nonetheless reshaping reality through the power of reflexivity. (Think of how invading Iraq in response to 9/11 helped bring ISIS into existence, for example.) On the other hand, we have liberals seeing things only in terms of logos, who can’t understand how wildly mistaken conservatives can nonetheless reshape the world to reflect their paranoid fantasies, because they’re missing the crucial concept of reflexivity (and even the very concept of missing concepts, the concept of hypocognition)—which is another, very different, but very real form of incompetence.
So, when Dunning told me, “The genius of their ideas are just missed by the group,” Lakoff’s discussion of hypocognition naturally came to mind.  What could be a worse idea to miss than the very idea of missing ideas?  If you don’t think they’re out there, you’ll never go looking for them—never believe anyone who claims to have found one of them, either.

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