[permaculture] Schooling- was homeschooling

jedd jedd at progsoc.org
Sat Jul 15 03:47:14 EDT 2006

On Saturday 15 July 2006 11:51 am, Kathy Evans wrote:
 ] ...  I fear it will be like Schroedinger's cat, and something will
 ] die in the process of trying to measure it. Measurement and evaluation are
 ] the enemies of creativity. I would think to stick with anecdotal evidence,

 With the implicit acknowledgement that Heisenberg's uncertainty
 principle was never intended to scale above the quantum level, and
 that Schrödinger was merely attempting to demonstrate the paradox
 in a way that non-physicists would find easier to understand .. it
 should be noted that the cat doesn't actually have to die.  In fact,
 the cat is neither dead nor alive (or rather, it's both) until you
 look at -- or measure -- it.  The corollary of this is that the act of
 evaluating (by opening the box) neither kills nor saves the cat.

 That's probably not important (other than to remove confusion
 about the nature of this particular cultural icon) though.

 What I think is important is your belief that measurement and
 evaluation are the enemies of creativity -- a claim that seems most
 especially contraindicated on a permaculture list.

 Observe and [then] interact --- to pick a commonly cited aphorism.

 Is the observing component of this dictum inherently anti-creative?

 I'd suggest it isn't.  Permaculture is rarely claimed to be anything
 if not scientific -- and for good reason -- so denying the ability to
 measure the inputs, outputs, efficiency, and any other aspect of a
 permaculture [-designed] system would do practitioners a disservice.

 From my own, hopefully pragmatic point of view, I think measurement
 and/or evaluation can not be inherently evil -- the tools used to come
 up with metrics are merely tools, and so long as the results you
 glean from these are treated within the context of their own strengths
 and weaknesses, they can be immensely useful.

 Sticking, as you suggest, with anecdotal evidence would IMO be quite
 misleading -- anecdotes are by their nature a form of exception
 reporting -- they do not, can not, reflect the overall quality of a
 system.  Instead they highlight the extremeties of the bell curve,
 as it were, and typically distract from the reality.

 And anyway, anecdotal evidence is just another form, albeit
 a poor one, of evaluation and measurement.

 I'd also be careful of the causality logic with some of these claims.
 The absence of measurement and evaluation does not guarantee a 
 creative child at the end of the process .. more's the pity.

 Similarly, while I suspect there isn't a strong correlation between,
 as you say "... academic performance in school and happiness in
 later life"  -- there's a logic trap in there.  Be wary of anyone
 concluding school provides no skills that can facilitate subsequent
 happiness later in life.  The ability to read, is the obvious example,
 but so too are math skills, an understanding of history, science,
 logic and critical thinking skills.

 Swinging ineluctably back towards the topic, my take on KNat's
 ideal solution was a system that could *track* the progress of
 students, with an implied human element in the *evaluation* of
 that progress.   Similar to the way that I might measure how fast
 my snow peas grow at different times of the year, but will put a
 'how happy they look' rating next to their entry in my spreadsheet,
 rather than coming up with a programmatic / algorithmic approach to
 performing the evaluation per se.   The verbal (or non-numeric) data
 is important and useful to me later on, and would be pointless and
 probably misleading for me were I to try and convert it into a single
 number for example.

 It's this aspect that I suspect you were warning of in your message.


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