Effective Learning Report Updates—September 2017


By Richard John Stapleton, Editor & Publisher

The world has always been a screwed-up place. And there has never been enough food, furs, spears, game, land, water, fish, timber, shoes, shotguns, rifles, fishing tackle, plows, cotton, houses, horses, cattle, clothes, cars, tractors, oil, gasoline, electricity, video games, computers, cell phones, helicopters, Humvees, SUVs, pickups, nuclear weapons, medicine and other goods to go around.

There are now some six billion people aboard Spaceship Earth and probably one billion people go to bed hungry every night. Millions of people exist on the brink of starvation every year. The starvation hellhole in 2004 is the Darfur region of Sudan, as usual in Africa, where one million people may die of genocidal ethnic cleansing, starvation, and disease. Only about one billion of us aboard Spaceship Earth are in generally good shape, in the United States, Western Europe, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Iceland, Australia and in a few other places. Among the two hundred or so countries on Earth one finds various levels of affluence and poverty, happiness and misery, freedom and slavery—the poorer the country in general the greater the gap between a rich elite few and masses of poor. In general the poorer the country the more corrupt the government.
 As bad as things are now, they are probably better than they ever were. Average incomes in recent years have increased worldwide. Although a few countries have become worse off, many of the poorest countries are now less poor than they were. Even so, it is not easy to live on $500 per year, a common income for people in some countries of Africa, South America, and Asia. Compare that with a $30,000 or so median yearly income for employed people in rich countries.

It’s no wonder that have-nots are continuing their struggle against the haves worldwide. Numerous rebel groups, communist and otherwise, led by warlords and leaders by various names now roam about in South America, Africa, and Asia raping, pillaging, and skirmishing with right-wing paramilitary groups and other military coalitions; intellectually and morally bankrupt dirt-poor communist North Korea playing with nuclear fire may be the biggest threat at present to humanity; and rapidly-developing communist China with its new variety of capitalism is significantly increasing its production, driving up the prices of raw materials worldwide. Educated information technology workers in poor countries are now able to do computer and information services work, thanks to the Internet, sitting at their computer screens in their poor countries, out-competing similar workers in rich countries without ever leaving home, all part of a new phenomenon known as “outsourcing”.

As bad as environmental pollution and global warming are now, caused by burning crude oil and coal, imagine what would happen if all poor countries were to develop the production, transportation, and consumption systems now used by rich countries and were to produce the same output per capita.

Politicians have increasingly polarized voters in the US in the last twenty-five years in their quest for personal political power. In general Republicans want to lower taxes for the rich, increase military might, and promote their religious beliefs; in general Democrats want to restore the taxes of the rich and insure Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social programs. The last two US presidential elections, in which voters were almost exactly divided between Republicans and Democrats, serve as evidence for this assertion.

There are now ominous signs in the US that atavistic forces lurking apparently in all humanity such as religious fanaticism and intolerance, military fatalism, ideological magical thinking, racism, sexism, ageism, and disrespect for facts and reason are spreading. Almost every day one can read in newspapers about politicians attempting to enact laws promoting religious belief that will enable religious groups to secure tax money to further their religious agendas. Articles appear almost daily in newspapers about the loss of individual freedom in America and the imposing of increasingly authoritarian measures such as denying due legal process to suspected terrorists and prisoners. Although terrorism is a threat to some people in developed nations, and strong police and military measures are required to deal with terrorists, in the face of such threats we must not allow the darker power-hungry, irrational and fatalistic side of human nature to destroy the blessings of freedom that millions of Americans have worked and fought so hard to achieve in the last 250 years.

In the past few years I have had more and more students in my classes with political agendas who seem to think facts are irrelevant and that political propaganda is truth. Apparently they have been taught by authority figures in their lives that they have a right to disseminate their personal dogma and propaganda as truth and others have no right to contest them or point out the deleterious consequences of such thinking and behavior. I am sure Hitler’s empowered brown- shirted youths felt much the same. Just today a page-one story in our local newspaper is about an attempt by a legislator in a midwestern state to pass legislation to force professors to allow students to promote “conservative” dogma in college classrooms without being challenged by the teacher even, apparently, if the dogma is completely out of context. I think this sort of thing is worse than absurd; it is abhorrent.

What this move amounts to in transactional analysis terms is an attempt to legitimize by law a Parent ego state contamination of the Adult ego state functioning of the educational process. The move entails an attempt to legally enfranchise an I’m OK—You’re Not OK life position based on political propaganda, dogma, and doctrine in classrooms. Good teaching entails teachers establishing an I’m OK—You’re OK life position among themselves and all students in the classroom, based on an honest attempt using the Adult ego state to discover and teach the truth of the matter based on a rigorous study of facts and evidence.

It seems obvious to me the purpose of teaching in classrooms is to teach truth—verifiable truth supported by facts, observation, and reason. Labeling professors as liberal or conservative is an insult to real professors. This assumes professors teach dogma and propaganda and ignore truth based on fact and reason. As far as I am concerned any professor who tells his or her students she or he is liberal or conservative and teaches propaganda, dogma, or doctrine conforming to a political party line in a classroom as actual truth is not qualified to be a professor.

Although I abhor labeling people as liberal or conservative, it seems to me “conservatives” are winning the political language game in the United States because the word conservative resonates better than liberal with people en masse. Liberal makes a good smear word whereas conservative does not. The word conservative connotes morality, virtue, hard work, persistence, generally virtuous things; whereas the word liberal connotes immorality, laziness, loose morals, loose standards, generally weak sentiments and behaviors.

This past year for the first time in my teaching career I was labeled a liberal by a colleague who tells his students he is a conservative and proud of it. Although I do not think this colleague meant serious harm, his move was a form of attack in the overall context in which the transaction occurred. While the episode was disconcerting, what is more disturbing is to think that more and more people are being subjected to such moves in the US as a whole. I am no more a liberal than the colleague is a fascist, although it seems to me some so-called conservatives advocate behaviors that are fascist in nature. In addition to conservative vs. liberal, the political language game is also about fascism vs. democracy, rational vs. irrational, knowledgeable vs. dogmatic, fair vs. unfair, freedom vs. repression, smart vs. dumb, hopeful vs. fatalistic, courageous vs. cowardly, weak vs. strong, independent vs. dependent and other linguistic bifurcations. There are all sorts of labels one can put on people to put them down. Given the way our culture in the US has evolved in the last twenty-five years, any citizen can be attacked in a war of words on any day. A young chancellor of the University System of Georgia with a PhD in classical literature upon resigning his post a few years ago said Georgia was experiencing “a rising tide of anti-intellectualism.” Hopefully right, not might, shall win in the long run.

SOURCE: A Passage from Business Voyages, by Richard John Stapleton, written in 2004, first published in 2008, pages 580-583  


September 29, 2017

September has not been a good month in my opinion. Bad things are coming to a head. Our clownish seventy-year-old reality show billionaire president who inherited his money who never worked a day in his life at a real job for a real boss has been playing a potentially lethal psychological NIGYSOB Game with an infantilized thirty-three-year-old tryant in North Korea who inherited a whole nation who also never worked at a real job in his life for a boss. The name of the Game, well known in transactional analysis circles, is Now I’ve Got You, You S.O.B. The purpose of the Game is to vent your feelings of anger and frustration. The payoff, if you win, is feeling superior and one-up.

It’s one thing for people to play this Game backed up with the usual means of power and punishment in organizations such as those in which most of us live and survive—verbal insults and threats, paddles, fisticuffs, the power to give or not give someone a pay raise, the power to fire someone, the power to sue someone in court, the power to shoot someone with a gun, the power to put someone in jail.

Unfortunately, Trump and his North Korean dictator Game adversary, whom Trump calls the Rocket Man, who calls Trump the Dotard, are backed up with armies, navies, air forces, and nuclear bombs that could destroy humanity if their Game escalates to its highest degree.

According to President Jimmy Carter quoted in an article in the Intrepid Report, “Trump fails to understand North Korea existential fears,” by Wayne Madsen, this Game with North Korea could be terminated if the US would promise with a new treaty they would not harm North Korea so long as North Korea does not harm any other nation.

Seems to me if this is right the US would have to be insane not to sign such a treaty. But, unfortunately neither Jimmy Carter nor I is now president of the US. Why has this insanity and absurdity with North Korea happened? Has our military-industrial-intelligence-corporate complex agitated for it to justify military spending in the US budget to enrich and empower their vested interests even more? Has Trump done it just to play psychological Games attempting to satisfy his gargantuan and apparently insatiable ego needs? Has he done it to distract attention from problems and concerns such as hurricane relief, football players kneeling when the national anthem is played to protest against racism, his personal problems with his congressional investigation, his lawsuits, the US military involvement in the Middle East, the federal budget deficit, rising income inequality and dissatisfaction, his business dealings, and any of the thousands of details such gestalts entail?

SOURCE: “Trump fails to understand North Korea existential fears,” by Wayne Madsen, published in the Intrepid Report


September 29

Here is a brave analysis with sound conclusions, but what is the probability it could ever happen?

SOURCE: “Leftists and rightists agree: abolish the CIA,” by Roger Copple, published in the Intrepid Report.


September 28

Here is a video posted on my Facebook page titled “Have You Ever Thought America Has Become One Big Jerry Springer Show,” created by So That’s the Buzz.

No, I had not thought that exactly but I have thought similar things. Come to think of it though, calling America a Jerry Springer Show is a pretty good analogy. Facebook itself is somewhat of a Jerry Springer Show in which all sorts of people from any walk of life can speak their minds, however deranged and disordered they might be. Is it educational to expose your mind to this diversity of nonsense?

Who would have ever thought the US would ever have a president like Donald Trump—a spoiled rich kid, with at least six bankruptcies and thirteen or more business failures to his credit, five children by three different wives, a supporter of neo-Nazis, a racist, a misogynist, a bully, a tweeter who may never have read a whole book who probably never wrote and published anything by himself requiring more than a few paragraphs, a high-functioning narcissistic who requires constant approval, voted into office primarily by white Christians, who still approve of his lifestyle and behavior, which is contrary to what their bible says is right? While there were rumors on Facebook he snorted some cocaine during his campaign, according to Facebook posts, he does not smoke tobacco or drink alcohol, two good things some people might say about him. And so far on Facebook I have seen only one rumor about his having had some sort of sexual fling with one of his employees in the White House.

Regardless, it does seem Trump has turned the White House into a Jerry Springer Show of sorts with on-stage characters expressing mundane off-the-wall ideas. His family members, cronies, and appointees sometimes look like characters in a TV soap opera.

SOURCE: “Have You Ever Thought America Has Become One Big Jerry Springer Show,” a video created by So That’s the Buzz, posted on Facebook.


September 28

Violence is a waste of time and energy

Rather than rationally deal with the root causes of their problems, fears, and frustrations, many humans vilify, demonize, scapegoat, and tear the tissue of enemies.

What Earth needs now is unlearning and new learning. Humans need to learn how to get their needs met without playing Games and resorting to violence, as in wars and acts of terrorism such as occurred last week on the campus at the University of Virginia.

Violence rarely solves anything. It just kicks the can further down the road, where the problem rears its ugly head again.

As Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King demonstrated, non-violent action can produce real change.

Born to Learn: A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning is full of ideas for producing peaceable change.


September 27, 2017

Here’s how our CEO in Chief Trump deals with money. Spend it like there is no tomorrow, and cut taxes. “Business” might boom a bit in the short run because of this stimulus if he can make it happen, but the US financial house of cards will become more and more flimsy, as corporations and the elite rich plunder anything they can get their hands on. Instead of a $19 trillion federal debt, we will soon have a $38 trillion federal debt, if the Trumpster gets what he says he wants for a US budget.

SOURCE: “Trump and the Great Debt Betrayal,” by Bill Bonner, published in the Daily Reckoning blog.


September 27

It’s worse than I ever thought it would be. I wonder how many of his voters have any conception of what Trump is really doing in the White House? Most of them probably think all he does is threaten leaders in foreign countries and bluster about football players not standing up for the national anthem, or saying white supremacists and neo-Nazis are good people, or crowing about how many people show up when he deigns to observe hurricane disaster results.

This article would open their eyes if they were to read it.

SOURCE: “The White House as Donald Trump’s New Casino,” by Nomi Prins, published in The Daily Reckoning.


September 27

As the rich continue to get richer….

SOURCE: “The growing danger of dynastic wealth,” by Robert Reich, published in the Intrepid Report


September 27, 2017

Say it aint so Joe….

SOURCE: “I Just Know I’ll be Rich Someday,” John Giarratana, published in CounterPunch


September 27

Many sorries for these people.  At least Trump finally waived the Jones Act and real help can be provided by the US.

SOURCE: “’This Bankrupt Island’: Debt and Disaster in Puerto Rico,” by Maria Del Pilar Blanco, published in CounterPunch


September 27

Say it aint so Joe.

SOURCE: “The Preacher and Vietnam: When Billy Graham Urged Nixon to Kill One Million People,” by Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn, published in CounterPunch.


September 27

Here’s another great article by John Whitehead, a constitutional lawyer. In a free society patriotism is not mandatory. Going down on one knee when the national anthem is being played is legal under the constitution of the US. This is a form of non-verbal speech guaranteed by the constitution. People arguing football players do not have a right to do this are wrong. The real problem here is that most people have been brainwashed into believing all people have to be obedient to all symbols of national authority, believing they are deprived of their constitutional rights when they are paid to do a job by someone else, becoming de facto slaves, especially when working for the military, or, apparently, when they are paid to play football. This whole hullabaloo is a symptom of the increasing militarization of the US, implying more and more people have been brainwashed into believing they have to obey all authoritarian commands and messages, regardless of their guaranteed constitutional rights.

SOURCE: “Patriots and Protesters Should Take a Knee for the Constitution,” by John W. Whitehead, published in CounterPunch.


September 27

This is about a fellow named Roger Goodale, who, according to a Facebook post, is the commissioner of the National Football League, a so-called non-profit organization, who was paid a salary of $44.2 million dollars in 2012. This does seem to be a bit much for a salary for a non-profit organization. Think there might be just a little something wrong here?

SOURCE: Facebook post by Edward Devine, September 7, 2016.


September 27

Why did Hatch and McConnell get so much more than the others?

Remember the 13 alt-right senators who tried to take away America’s healthcare behind closed doors? This is how much money they accepted from insurance companies and Big Pharma.

SOURCE: Facebook post by Milan Pokorny, September 22.


September 26

There are Large Parts of America Being Left Behind…including us. “It is fair to wonder whether a recovery that excludes tens of millions of Americans and thousands of communities deserves to be called a recovery at all…”

SOURCE:  “There are Large Parts of America Being Left Behind”, by Tyler Durden, published in ZeroHedge


September 25

Here’s to Bernie Sanders. Hope it somehow works in our moribund society.

SOURCE: “Why healthcare should be managed as a natural monopoly,” by Richard John Stapleton, Effective Learning Report


September 24

Say it aint so Joe.

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. For the traitor appears not a traitor—He speaks in the accents familiar to his victims, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation—he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city—he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared.”

Cicero, Roman Statesman, 42 BC, speaking from his grave.

SOURCE: Facebook post by Detong Choyin, September 23


September 23

How to get that 46.9 percent voting for a truly progressive candidate is the problem.

And this is why we can’t have nice things.

2016 presidential election turnout rate: 46.9 percent didn’t vote, 25.6 percent voted for Clinton, 25.5 percent voted for Trump, and 1.7 percent voted for Johnson.

SOURCE: Posted on Facebook by Join the Coffee Party Movement.


September 22

Here’s a particularly cogent economic update by Richard Wolff.

SOURCE: Audio podcast, “Economic Update: Capitalism, Revolution and Socialism,” published in Truth-Out.


September 21

Last night, the Senate overwhelmingly approved an $80 billion annual increase in military spending. Trump had asked for just $48 billion…

As shown here, the US makes thirty-six percent of all military expenditures around Earth, including some two hundred countries, more than the next eight largest nations spend combined.

Why is this?

SOURCE: Posted on Facebook by Robert Reich


September 21

Capitalism won’t be killed by communism. Capitalism will be killed by low-wage workers who can’t buy products, aka lack of aggregate demand.

SOURCE: Visual meme posted on Facebook by Matt Matsuoka


September 16

More corruption in our government. This should not be happening.

Insurance industry contributions to Democratic Senators. Of thirty-five listed, Bernie Sanders was the only one not receiving anything.

SOURCE: Posted on Facebook by Cindy Barnes McDougal  


September 15

It was way worse than I thought it was then when I saw it on TV in the waiting room of the Volvo dealership in Savannah, Ga. I thought it strange at the time that a young woman would walk in the room and tell us with certainty, “Osama Bin Laden!” I had never heard of him at the time.

Hunter S. Thompson’s 9/11 Essay is Still Chillingly Accurate 16 Years Later.

When terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001 no one knew exactly what the future would hold.

SOURCE: “Hunter S. Thompson’s 9/11 Essay is Still Chillingly Accurate 16 Years Later,” by David Moye, published in HuffPost, Sept. 11, 2017


September 15

McDonald’s prices go up regardless of wages.

Big Mac cost in 2009, $3.57; Federal Minimum Wage, $7.25

Big Mac cost in 2017, $5.30; Federal Minimum Wage, $7.25

Wages don’t matter.

Fight for $15 per hour.

SOURCE: Meme posted by Fight for $15


September 14

Why We Need Medicare for All

Well said by Bernie Sanders.

This is a pivotal moment in American history. Do we, as a nation, join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee comprehensive health care for all?

SOURCE: “Why We Need Medicare for All,” by Sen. Bernard Sanders, published in CounterPunch


September 14

Look closely at this chart of federal spending. Somewhere within the tiny orange sliver at the bottom is the food stamp program that Republicans blame for our budget deficit.

SOURCE: Meme posted on Facebook by The Other 98% 


September 13

Declaring peace would be a dangerous thing. Some thoughts and facts on war in this article by David Swanson. Well worth a read.

SOURCE: “How Outlawing War Changed the World in 1928,” by David Swanson, published in CounterPunch


September 13

Do we really know what we’re doing?

One of the major differences between working and middle to upper-class parents, when it comes to their children’s education, and specifically how to best maximize…

SOURCE: “Beyond the Class Ceiling: Education and Upward Social Mobility,” by Pascal Blackfoot, published in CounterPunch


September 12

Premature disappearance is a terrible thing.

Remembering the disappeared. Of the 2,753 victims of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, no physical trace has been found for 1,112 of them. Thus for 40…

SOURCE: “Remembering the Disappeared,” by Ariel Dorfman, published in CounterPunch


September 11

Say it aint so Joe.

The US War on Terror has resulted in over 1 million deaths.

SOURCE: “9/11: The Beginning of the End of the US Empire Project,” by Dahr Jamail, published in Truthout


September 7

Is North Korea and the US now analogous to Cuba and the US then and is Kim and Trump analogous to Khrushchev and Kennedy? Here is an excellent article pointing out gruesome realities of the relationship with North Korea. We know Trump is not analogous to Kennedy, and we know Kim is not analogous to Khrushchev. Nuclear bombs did not fall from the sky on the US then; will they fall from the sky on the US now?

Cold War strategists led by such men as Henry Kissinger, Thomas Schelling and Bernard Brodie believed that ultimately relationships among nations were…

SOURCE: “America on the Brink of Nuclear War: What Should We Do?”, by William R. Polk, published in CounterPunch


September 6

All this is doing is turning machines into what humans used to be. Humans cannot compete with these digitized machines. The only hope is to turn these machines into the equivalent of human machines and promote former human machines into the elite stockholder manager class of corporations, to live off the work of the robot machines like the elite live off the work of human machines now.

A computer scientist at Rice University says that accountants, lawyers and even construction are about to find their work changing substantially, if not entirely taken…

SOURCE: “The rise of robots taking human jobs will be ‘painful and enduring’,” by Moshe Y. Vardi, published in the Daily Mail,


September 5

David Stockman in my opinion does an admirable job explaining the Federal tax situation. On the other hand, he is being disingenuous regarding what he calls a payroll tax, calling it the major problem for middle and lower income citizens. What he calls a payroll tax of fifteen percent is really FICA deductions for Social Security, absolutely necessary to prevent the destruction of the Social Security system, an investment, not a tax. Pundits, especially good ones like Stockton, calling FICA deductions payroll taxes is a dangerous thing. The day when Social Security goes down the tube is the day the US becomes a Third World country.

Former Reagan White House cabinet official, David Stockman levels that Donald Trump’s tax plan is destined for complete failure…

SOURCE: “The Donald’s Seinfeld Tax Plan—A Big Show About Nothing,” by David Stockman, published in the Daily Reckoning


September 5

Here is a good general overview of climate change around Earth. The author asserts human activity caused it. I say it makes little difference who or what caused it. The relevant point is that climate change is creating hell around Earth, and we better hope we humans did cause it, because if we did then we can theoretically make changes to uncause it; otherwise, if nature caused it, and the trend continues for several decades, humans are toast, since there is nothing we can do about it.

We are in the age of climate-caused humanitarian crises.

SOURCE: “Greenland is Burning: Wildfires and Floods Surge Worldwide,” by Dahr Jamail, published in Truth-Out.


September 5, 2017

Here’s something to think about.

Countries ranked by prosperity: Norway, Socialist; Switzerland, Socialist; New Zealand, Socialist; Denmark, Socialist; Canada, Socialist; Sweden, Socialist; Australia, Socialist Welfare; Finland, Socialist; Netherlands, Socialist; United States, number ten

SOURCE: Meme post on Facebook by Patricia Dowling    


September 4

A sad Labor Day indeed.

SOURCE: “Trump’s Labor Day,” by Robert Reich, posted in the Intrepid Report


September 4

Let’s hope not.

SOURCE: “The American military empire: Is Trump its would-be emperor?, “ by Dr. Rodrique Tremblay, posted in the Intrepid Report


September 3

Here’s another great audio discourse by Richard Wolff, discussing the financial crises in 1929 and 2008.

SOURCE: “Economic Update: A Tale of Two Crises,” by Richard Wolff, posted in Truth-Out

Further Thoughts on Politics

by Richard John Stapleton

In my immediately preceding Effective Learning Report post I published an article I wrote titled “An Inspiring Educational Meeting in the Country Club near Statesboro, Georgia” in which I said I am an Independent politically and have primarily voted for Republicans in local and state elections, but only one time did I vote for a Republican in a presidential election in my life, voting for Bob Dole in the 1966 Clinton-Bob Dole election. This statement is generally true, on the face of it. However, I had the thought today it could be misleading and I wish I had phrased it differently.

It is true I have primarily voted for Republicans in local elections because I knew them personally or someone I knew knew them as good and honorable people who would do the right thing in office and they just happened to be Republicans. I have always voted for Republican State Senator Jack Hill because I knew him personally and knew he was a good politician. I am not sure now however after giving the matter more thought that this would be “primarily voting for Republicans in local and state elections,” especially considering whether US senator and representative races would be considered local and state elections or national elections, since these politicians vote for federal legislation.

I have maybe never voted for Republicans in US Senator or Representative races because I disagree with the policies of the Republican Party on macro-economic and political issues, particularly regarding taxation, government regulation of business and the environment, healthcare, education, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and military spending, and it seems to me almost all politicians vote their party line once they get seated in the US Congress, however good and honorable they might have been back home.

After giving the matter more thought, I have probably voted for more Democrats than Republicans taking all elections I have voted in into account.

Regardless, I think both the Republican and the Democratic Parties in Washington have poorly performed in recent decades, and we need a new third party, a truly progressive party to insure the perpetuation of the human species. Here are some policies for such a party I invented, posted on our Effective Learning Company website, the FreeFairProgressParty, at http://www.effectivelearning.net/freefairprogressparty.html.

An Inspiring Educational Meeting in the Country Club near Statesboro, Georgia

By Richard John Stapleton

Debbye and I attended a meeting Saturday afternoon September 16 hosted for Dr. Sid Chapman by Bill Herring, president of the local Democratic Party, at the Forrest Heights Country Club in Statesboro, Georgia. My wife Debbye is the star mathematics tutor in our Stapleton Learning Company small business in downtown Statesboro, located in the Parker Real Estate Building right across the street from the Emma Kelly Theater.

Dr. Chapman is campaigning for the Georgia State School Superintendent position. He spent about two hours telling about twenty of us in the meeting about his background, policy positions, and recent experiences, and answering questions we had in an open discussion. For more detail about Sid’s background click here.

He told us he had recently returned from a trip to Finland where he observed first hand the best public school system around Earth, easily verified by a Google search.

According to Dr. Chapman, Finland has the best school system around Earth because of the value Finns place on education as a society. In Finland teaching is a more prestigious profession than medicine. He said it’s harder to get certified as a teacher in Finland than it is to get certified as a medical doctor. Teachers are highly respected in their communities and they interact with local citizens and their children to decide locally what and how to teach. Schools are locally controlled and there is little or no teaching to the test or anything like the No Child Left Behind scheme, hatched by the disingenuous anti-intellectual Bush II administration in the US, which was inflicted on public schools throughout the US.

Sid is a high school dropout who got a GED and later a doctor’s degree who is now president of the Georgia Association of Educators, with some thirty thousand members, according to one of the attendees. He said he has taught in public schools almost all social studies subjects, including economics, which was my undergraduate major. He obviously has outstanding interpersonal and administrative skills as evidenced by his success as president of the GAE. He is also a part-time Methodist minister. I told him and the group my granddaddy was a Methodist preacher. I am now a friend of the Statesboro Unitarian Universal Fellowship. Several members of that fellowship were in attendance at the meeting.

Dr. Chapman advocates decreasing the use of high stakes testing, fully funding public education, equity for all students, not using public taxes to fund private schools, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics), Vocational and Technical Education, fostering creative and critical thinking and communication skills, improving incentives to recruit and retain quality teachers and educators, and protecting the current teacher retirement system.

Having no experience teaching in grade, junior, or high school, there is no way I could know for sure what it’s like to work day in and day out as a public school teacher or administrator. Regardless, based on what I learned last Saturday, I agree with Dr. Chapman’s policies and ideas on how to do public education, and I wish him success with his campaign. Having no knowledge about his competitors in the race, it seems to me he will be tough man to beat in the state school superintendent’s race and Georgia would be fortunate to have him as its school superintendent.

I learned how little I knew about Georgia public school education associations in the meeting. I had no knowledge of PAGE, the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, which has about ninety thousand members in Georgia, about three times as many members as the GAE, the Georgia Association of Educators, the Georgia affiliate of the NEA, the National Educational Association, according to one of the attendees, who told me this after the meeting was over. I have little understanding of the differences in these two education organizations. I presume both of them exist to support grade, junior, and high school students and teachers, while having differences in philosophies and policies. As I scanned the PAGE homepage on the Internet, a link devoted to Teacher Evaluations jumped out at me, rubber-banding me back to some of my experiences as a teacher dealing with faculty evaluations.

I understand very well the intricacies and problems of daily life as a college teacher and administrator, having done it for forty years, as my RJS Academic Vita page on our Effective Learning Company website shows. I know very well what it’s like to be subjected to problems of faculty evaluations for merit raises, tenure, and promotion. I got so fed up with the faculty evaluation system used for decades in the business school at Georgia Southern that I cajoled the administrator of our department in the late 1990s to supply me with departmental student evaluation data for one semester for a statistical analysis, agreed to by all departmental faculty, for research purposes only. A colleague Gene Murkison and I used the data to produce, write, and publish an article, “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations: A Study of Correlations Between Instructor Excellence, Study Production, Learning Production, and Expected Grades,” in the Journal of Management Education, in 2001, that has now been cited as a reference in sixty-five refereed professional journals in several disciplines. To verify these citations click here to see the results of this Google search.

I presented in this article a new metric for teacher productivity I invented, which I think public schools could use, what I called a Composite Indicator of Teaching Productivity (the CITP), that requires not only taking into consideration the opinions of students regarding how good they thought the teacher was as a teacher but how much the teacher motivated them to study, how much they thought they learned in the course, and what they thought about the grade they expected to receive in the course given how much they had studied for and learned in the course. I have no idea how much the CITP has been used in higher education around Earth since 2001 but I know it has been used and is still being read by serious educators and educational researchers writing refereed journal articles for raises, tenure, and promotions.

Good teachers are just like good producers in any line of work. They want to be recognized and rewarded commensurately to what they produce. In order to fairly reward teachers you have to have some means of estimating how much they have produced relative to their peers. What is it teachers are paid to produce? Learning. How do you measure learning? Is learning memorizing right answers for multiple choice and true false questions? How about learning how to think about what is relevant and right in a situation? How about learning how to be a better human being? How about asking students how much they have learned in the course relative to how much they normally learn in courses?

The CITP averages ranks for learning production, study production, instructor excellence scores, and expected grades. Expected grades are important because teachers in some cases can dumb down their test questions to raise their expected grades to raise their instructor excellence scores and their learning production scores, as we proved in our Optimizing Fairness paper. To make things fair you have to inversely weight expected grades in the rank averaging process to get the final CITP. It gets complicated but it can be done. Read the article to get the whole picture by clicking here.

I used this research to convince Georgia Southern in 2000 to add study production, learning production, and expected grades questions to the student evaluation form used campus-wide. Things got a little better for me after that when faculty evaluation time rolled around every year. I normally ranked in the lower twenty-five percent of the faculty for teaching in our department when only instructor excellence was ranked. Using the CITP I ranked in the upper twenty-five percent. I was a productive teacher; not a popular teacher, and my grades weren’t inflated, and our research proved it. My assigned grades averaged about 2.4 per class on a 4-point scale, about the lowest in our department, according to Pick-A-Prof.com, a website maintained by some enterprising students at the University of Texas. I read an article the other day on the Internet stating that in most colleges today forty or so percent of students in most classes make A’s. It seems to me it’s possible that now and then teachers might have that many truly excellent students in a class, but not most of the time.

I have a case titled Games Educators Play posted on our Effective Learning Company website showing some of the problems and issues involved in producing and administering educational offerings in a university business school.

Since retiring at Georgia Southern in 2005 I have published two books, Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata, and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds, and Born to Learn: A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning through my independent publishing house Effective Learning Publications. Both of these books draw upon my training and experience using transactional analysis, a new psychiatric discipline invented by Eric Berne, MD and his protégés in the 1960s. Both books show my experience using what I called a Classroom De-Gamer™ to randomly select students in class to discuss assigned reading for the day, and present data showing the process caused students to study and learn more than they otherwise would have because of the Classroom De-Gamer reducing psychological Game-playing in the classroom. When students are selected by the De-Gamer to respond to classroom challenges all ego states in students feel and know they are not being picked on or rewarded as a Victim by a Persecutor or Rescuer teacher. Born to Learn shows how alternative teaching methods, classroom layouts, and testing methods affect the productivity and overall “OKness” of teachers and students.

I first published Born to Learn in 1979, titled at the time De-Gaming Teaching and Learning, which I reedited and retitled adding a new summary chapter in 2016. I received a good Kirkus Review for Born to Learn in 2016. The book will be included in a special edition of the Kirkus Magazine for book industry professionals in November 2017 in a section called “Twenty 2016 Indie Books Worth Reading.”

In the interests of full disclosure, I am not a Democrat. I am an Independent, as Bill Herring told the group Saturday. Regardless, I have voted for almost nothing but Democratic presidents throughout my life, mostly voting for Republicans for state and local offices in recent decades. I voted for Bob Dole, the only Republican presidential candidate I ever voted for, instead of Clinton in Clinton’s second election. I was too young to vote for Eisenhower. In my opinion John F. Kennedy was by far the most intellectually honest president of my lifetime, and look at what happened to him. The intellectual honesty of presidents has generally declined since Kennedy’s assassination, Jimmy Carter being an exception, a breath of fresh air after Nixon. I voted for Jill Stein of the Green Party in the 2016 presidential election, not because I thought she had a chance of winning, but because I agreed with her policies, and I thought she was intellectually honest, playing relatively few psychological Games.

Come to think of it, intellectual honesty seems to have declined in most places through the years in the US.

Here is a new synopsis of my educational history, written by me today at age seventy-six, inspired by the meeting on education last Saturday at the country club.

A great-grandfather of mine many times removed, the Reverend Doctor James Maury, a French Huguenot, taught four American presidents, Washington (a distant relative down the branches of my family tree), Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, in a boarding school in Virginia. A distant cousin, Matthew Fontaine Maury, was a West Point graduate, a commodore in the Civil War, fighting for the South, who published a book still in print, Physical Geography of the Seas. He was a founder of Virginia Tech, retiring as a professor of physics at Virginia Military Academy. Another distant cousin Dabney Herndon Maury, also a West Point graduate, a general in the Civil War fighting for the South, published a book titled, Recollections of a Southerner in the Mexican, Indian, and Civil Wars. My great great grandfather Thomas Sanford Gathright, a Confederate draft dodger who opposed the South’s seceding from the Union, was the first president of Texas A & M University, recommended for his post by Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America. My father’s uncle, Richard Gathright Maury, was a prominent lawyer in his time, the youngest district attorney in Harris County history, the county in which Houston just got flooded, who once served papers in person on a golf course in New York to John D. Rockefeller, indicting him and his Standard Oil Trust for violating Texas anti-trust laws, whose gravesite in Center, Texas, replete with a statue, is now a designated historical site recognized by the Texas Historical Society. As near as I can tell Richard Gathright Maury never went to school at all. Based on genealogical records produced for me by Frank Parker, a real estate developer and investor and a hobby genealogist, here in Statesboro, he was home schooled on a plantation in Mississippi and read law with a law firm to pass the bar exam. His father, my great grandfather, Matthew Henry Maury, attended the University of Mississippi two years and was later killed by an African on a plantation in Mississippi, probably a freed slave, or the son of one. My grandfather, Elbert Harry Coston, a Methodist minister, the son of Isom Alexander Coston, who was blind, according to my grandmother, Darlie Brown Walker Coston, whose father David Montgomery Walker was a cotton farmer and a wagon manufacturer, “never did a day’s work in his life. All he ever did was sit up on the front porch with his brothers and read.” She said most of the work on the Coston farm near Palestine, Texas was done by Africans, freed slaves apparently, managed by her mother-in-law, Mattie Elizabeth Allen Coston, born on a ranch in Texas in 1845, the year Texas stopped pretending to be a nation and joined the Union as a mere state.  My mother told me in her last days in Willow Pond here in Statesboro that her grandfather Isom would swat each of his five boys on the rear one time with a razor strop when they came in for supper, telling them he didn’t know what they had done wrong that day but he knew they had been up to somethin’.  She also said somebody had to read the whole newspaper to him every day.  My Coston grandfather took a few courses at East Texas State College before he became an ordained minister, becoming a minister according to my hard-working father so he wouldn’t ever have to work at all. I lived with Moma and Snazzy for two years while I was working on my doctorate. My aunt Ted, Edna Mae Coston Thompson, at one point had Snazzy examined by a psychiatrist, apparently thinking he was going insane. The psychiatrist said quite to the contrary he had the highest IQ of any man his age he had ever examined. This confirmed my judgment. Snazzy always seemed to understand anything. He had a personal library he had collected through the years containing a thousand or more books. My mother Ida Belle Coston Stapleton took a few business courses at a Draughn’s Business College somewhere after she got out of high school. She told me shortly before she died here in Statesboro, at age 92, that she never made less than an A in school. My father Richard Gathright Maury Stapleton took some courses in agronomy at Texas Tech before he dropped out to become a successful entrepreneur, having never taken a single business course or read a single business book, or a book of any kind after I was born, to my knowledge, except maybe an arcane treatise or two on Free Masonry, to become a third degree Scottish Rite Mason, as I understand it. He saw to it I became a DeMolay in high school but I never had any interest in that sort of thing. All he ever read was the local newspaper, farm magazines, and the US News & World Report. He put me to work in his enterprises when I was eight years old. I made mostly C’s in grade, junior, and high school, but did better in college. I was according to the Lubbock Avalanche Journal probably the youngest and smallest Class A high school starting quarterback in the US in 1953, at age thirteen, weighing 110 pounds, standing five feet three inches tall. I played basketball on an athletic scholarship at Hardin-Simmons University two years before transferring to Texas Tech College (now university). I had a 3.0 in economics in undergraduate school but did better in the doctoral program, graduating with a 3.67 grade point average in a program that included all business disciplines in which A’s were not easy to come by. One of my classmates who became the dean of a business school graduated with a 3.0. Despite scoring 840 on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), at a time when 1000 was about average, Texas Tech accepted me provisionally into their doctoral program and gave me a part-time instructorship in economics that paid $3000 per academic year, enough for me to pay my way through the doctoral program and write my dissertation in three years. The Office of Manpower Evaluation and Research of the US Department of Labor awarded me a $6500 grant to write my dissertation, An Analysis of Rural Manpower Migration Patterns in the South Plains Region of Texas. Frank Parker traced all four of my grandparents back to Virginia before the American Revolutionary War, in which several ancestors fought. Their descendants, most of whom were cotton farmers, spread out from Virginia migrating into South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi before winding up in the cotton country of Northwest Texas where I grew up. I was working at a full time job in a Litton Industries electronics plant as a production control expediter and dispatcher and publishing my weekly newspaper the Wolfforth-Frenship Gazette when I took the GRE, having stayed up most of the night before the exam putting out the paper. I fell asleep several times taking the exam, not thinking it was important, just something I had to do to get into graduate school, filling in the remaining blanks for the various timed sections without reading the questions. I saw the exam proctor, the head of the psychology department at Texas Tech at the time, staring at me in amazement one time when I woke up from one of these naps. Considering the GRE computerized grading system took off more points for questions answered wrong than for those left blank, I was lucky to have scored as high as 840. I was hired at the associate professor rank, skipping the assistant rank, at the University of Southwestern Louisiana after finishing my doctorate in business administration, management science major, economics minor, at Texas Tech, becoming a full professor at age thirty-six at Georgia Southern College (now university), where I was the senior professor of the business school for about fifteen years, carrying the mace as the senior professor of the university for the spring graduation ceremony the year I retired in 2005. I was the highest paid professor in the business school and maybe the second-highest-paid faculty member at Georgia Southern, behind Jim Oliver, maybe third after Fielding Russell, when I started at age thirty, hired by President Pope Duncan in 1970. My son, Jonathan Walker Stapleton, was the Star Student for our Congressional District in Georgia in 1990, scoring 1520 on the SAT back in the days when 1600 was the maximum score. He maxed the math part of the GRE when he finished his undergraduate degree at Rice University in Houston, Texas in 1994, almost maxing the verbal part. He now invents and makes things in his home workshop and teaches physics and Earth sciences in a high school near Burlington, Vermont.  Hunting and fishing and organic gardening in his spare time, in a beautiful environment, he is a smart son indeed. He is the inventor and designer of Reptangles™, a plastic educational toy comprising twenty-four parts that snap together and pull apart to assemble into more than one hundred mathematically identifiable geometric shapes and symmetrical configurations, manufactured in China, licensed to, marketed, and distributed around Earth by the Fat Brain Toy Company, which was demonstrated on ABC’s Good Morning America.  Jonathan is married to Renee Doney Stapleton, MD, PhD, who teaches, researches, and practices pulmonary medicine at the University of Vermont. They have three children, Walker, Emmerson, and Orion, each of whom is learning well in and out of school. One of the major conclusions of  Born to Learn is that everything that happens happens by accident, as the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein pointed out in his book of propositions, Prototractatus, and therefore no one is to blame or praise for what happens.

Please feel free to share, forward, repost, reprint, copy, link, or otherwise disseminate this article any way you see fit.

Richard John Stapleton, Editor and Publisher, Effective Learning Report, 32 East Main Street, Statesboro, Georgia, USA




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