By Richard John Stapleton

This is insane.

The man has no moral or ethical basis for saying this in this Tweet.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Biden can only enter the White House as President if he can prove that his ridiculous “80,000,000 votes” were not fraudulently or illegally obtained. When you see what happened in Detroit, Atlanta, Philadelphia &amp; Milwaukee, massive voter fraud, he’s got a big unsolvable problem!</p>&mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href=”https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1332352538855747584?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>November 27, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

The problem is not unsolvable.

All Trump has to do is do the right thing and honor the decisions of legally elected officials of state legislatures and federal judges who have emphatically stated in all ways Biden won fair and square in one of the most secure elections ever. As anyone with any common sense knows no US presidential election could ever be declared 100 percent accurate with human-counted numbers in a voting process this large. Some errors and maybe a little fraud are bound to happen in a counting process with numbers this large in a US presidential race covering fifty states and almost unnameable voting precincts and locations. How many finalists in USian presidential races in recent memory could have done what Trump has done, claim their loss was caused by fraud?  Quite a few. But none of them did. Why not? Because all of them had common sense and some sense of honor, decency, and fair play.

Trump is psychologically lying about the reality of this situation and is in effect psychologically threatening civil war and the destruction of our democratic voting system with this Tweet. He’s a fascist dictator at heart who accidentally got to be president of the US thanks to the insane USian Electoral College and who now does not want to give it up like a petulant spoiled brat child not wanting to give up a piece of candy. He’s never been a believer in democracy and has never obeyed rules he did not like in his life, running the corporations his inherited money enabled him to own like a fascist dictator (six of them into bankruptcy), basically a thug with the morals and ethics of an alley cat. Why should he start believing in democracy now?

Hopefully the only hope of US citizens who believe in real democracy to avert civil violence will not wind up the US military who have historically pledged themselves to uphold the US democratic rule of law and Constitution by not following the orders of irrational presidents should any order attacks on USian civilians to stay in power. Whether the military will in this case remains to be seen if worse comes to worst if the US Supreme Court stacked 6-3 with right wing Repug loyalist ideologues should decide to give Trump the presidency another four years despite his democratic vote loss, which, should it happen, would be a tragic case indeed: six ideological Repug loyalist Supreme Court judges overriding the judgments and verdict of over eighty million real jurors in this case who did what it took to vote against Trump .

On the other hand, Trump it seems has decided it will behoove him to contest the election while knowing he does not have enough power to override the US Constitution backed by his 73.9 million voters, or his six lackeys on the Supreme Court, after losing the presidential race according to traditional rules of the US voting system by over seven million real votes to Biden’s over eighty million real democratic votes, while Biden also beat Trump with over three hundred funny votes to Trump’s 232 funny votes, i.e., Electoral College votes.

And as anyone with a lick of common sense should know there is almost zero chance there could have been over seven million votes involving errors and fraud in Biden’s favor in the 2020 election, with no error and fraud votes in Trump’s favor.

Only a world class a_ _&*#$ would do what Trump has done under these conditions, demand absolute proof he did not lose because of fraud and illegality.

As I have previously discussed in an Effective Learning Report article I think Trump is a second and possibly third-degree psychological Game player, especially playing NIGYSOB, NOW I’VE GOT YOU, YOU SOB. Trump probably knows there is no chance he can get the election overturned, but is demanding proof he did not lose the election due to fraud and illegality before moving out of the White House to fleece and shake down his deluded supporters with fund-raising Tweets, emails, and other communication contacts demanding that they contribute money to his legal offense fund to get the election overturned, knowing some of the proceeds of the hustle/scam (now reputed to be over $200 million) will remain in his own coffers after he leaves office. Is the man capable of this kind of venal duplicity and lying? You bet.

After one of the most secure and accurate US presidential votes in history the US still has a sociopath in the White House creating anxiety and anguish for millions of people while fanning fires of chaos in the US and around Spaceship Earth with his insane Tweets, this last one hopefully being the last straw, grasped by a desperate dangerous greedy man with no conscience.

Unlike Nero who merely fiddled while fires burned Rome of their own volition, Trump has so far spent his last almost three months as USian president after losing the election playing golf and stoking fires of blind ignorant class hatred doing what he has always done for a living after his parents gave him 400 million dollars to play with—hire people and fire those who cannot do, or refuse to do, what his majesty orders.


Richard John Stapleton, PhD, CTA, certified transactional analyst, educator, octogenarian emeritus professor of management, writer, editor and publisher.   



Dear beloved we are gathered once more at the altar of the almighty truth.

Our sermon for today is entitled ‘Joe Biden: war or peace?’

As outgoing President Trump does his last hustle to collect as much as he can, obtain allegedly to support his litigation to retain the presidency  with the court’s assistance, our time and attention is better spent more realistically focusing one’s mind on the prospects and policies of President-elect Joe Biden. To do so with a measure of realism the structure of the US system needs to be understood.

US system

There are two critical constants for any president of the United States of America:-

1.         The dictates of the military-industrial complex; and

2.         The foreign policy trajectory, as actual military policy, of ‘full spectrum dominance’.

The US economy is dominated by military production. In a  succinct and prescient manner, in the early 1960s in his farewell speech, then President Eisenhower explained in a quite precise way how the military had begun to dominate and dictate to the US economy :-


As a compliment to that reality, investment in the military is extended by doctrine into a policy that since the end of World War 11( WW11) assures that the US aims to  achieve  control over all dimensions of the global battlespace.

For decades each new President has presided over a new war or US military intervention. Carter had Panama; Reagan had Grenada; George Bush senior had Iraq/Gulf War 1; Clinton had Yugoslavia; George Bush Jr. had Iraq/Gulf War 11; Obama had Libya; Trump did not have a new war.

It is interesting that Trump is embraced by his supporters as an America first ‘isolationist’. He did try to secure troop reduction in both Afghanistan and Syria. He found himself in conflict with the US military and Pentagon. His ultimate undoing was that his leadership style was chaotic, erratic, unpredictable and inadequately consultative. In consequence, he succeeded in either insulting or annoying sufficient numbers within the electorate that he was voted out of office.

Within the framework just described one can rest assured, President-elect Joe Biden shall remain safely within the confines of  established US military policy.

Whether Biden claims for himself a new war is a matter one but  can guess on. His history and personality provide helpful predictive hints. In large measure Joe Biden’s voting record confirms that he has voted far more consistently to support US war efforts than he has ever opposed overseas military ventures. His political predisposition reveals a status quo middle of the road politician inclined more to the centre and right than to the left. At his age he is not likely to change when in office as president.

The question therefore is – war or peace?

I anticipate more likelihood of the former than the latter if history is the best predictor of the future. 

Circumstances so dictate. 

Should there be doubt as to the nature and record of the politician with whom we shall be dealing with as President, then let us examine the factual and quite accurate record on Joe Biden when he helped march the US into the Iraq war:- 

Joe Biden – over to you.



COURTENAY BARNETT is a graduate of London University. His areas of study were economics, political science and international law. He has been a practising lawyer for over thirty years, and has argued public interest and human rights cases. He has published several articles in the Effective Learning Report. He lives and works in the Caribbean




Do Your Duty! As an equal Spaceship Earth, Inc. stockholder, owning one imaginary share of stock, I hereby grant you, just like everybody else around Earth, tell other stockholders what you think the problems are, what the alternatives are, and what you think should be done to better manage Spaceship Earth, Inc.

Go to my Facebook Page  and say whatever you want to say in regard to anything I or anyone else has said on the Effective Learning Company website, including the Effective Learning Report and The Earthian.

Just type your response at the top of my Facebook Page where it says

What’s On Your Mind?

You can start a new conversation about a new topic, or you can respond to conversations others have started on the page.  I will respond to your post if I think a response is appropriate, as may others. 

But, Please, no ad hominem attacks, no slanders, no profanity. Say whatever you want to say in response to the facts of what was said, pro or con, but please no ad hominem attacks, i.e., don’t try to prove you are right in your argument by illogically attacking or slandering the personal characteristics, beliefs, feelings, or behaviors of the person you are arguing against.

As I read articles on the Internet during a month from various publications here and yon I post some of them to my Facebook page and then use most of them as sources for The Earthian, published about once a month.   After you get to the Facebook page you can find most of the articles listed as sources in The Earthianposted on the Facebook page, and you can respond beneath them with any comment you want to make about the article or what anyone has said about the article.

As a reincarnated Don Quixote I gain satisfaction from trying to give moral support to Earthians of any sort in their battles for survival, giving back a little in my retirement years, having survived many threats and battles in my long life, still standing in relatively good shape at age 80. I got bored with hunting, fishing, playing golf, and traveling some years ago, especially after being forced to obey and accept militaristic TSA attitudes, rules, intimidation, indignities, and stress to board airplanes, thanks to Bush II’s insane War on Terror, an aggressive offensive war that did irreparable harm to the social fabric of the US, not to mention the incomparably greater irreparable harm inflicted on millions of humans and other Earthians in other nations, caused by dropping bombs on them.

I have no desire to sell subscriptions or advertising or solicit donations for my blogs, but I would like to sell more books. If you feel you have gained value from my blogs or any page on our website and want to reciprocate please go to our Effective Learning Publications page , Amazon.com , or any brick and mortar bookstore and purchase one or more of my books.

Best wishes, RJS


Case 17

Games Educators Play

EDITOR’S NOTE: This case was first published in Business Voyages:  Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata, and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds in 2008.  I (Richard) wrote the case during the fall of 2003.

I posted this case here July 11, 2016 primarily to enable readers to gain some understanding of a metric I develped for measuring the productivity of teachers to increase the fairness of student evaluations used to measure the performance of teachers, a CITP, or Composite Indicator of Teaching Productivity, first published in our (Stapleton & Murkison) article, “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations:  A Study of Correlations Between Instructor Excellence, Study Production, Learning Production, and Expected Grades,” published in 2001 in the Journal of Management Education by the Organizational Behavior Teaching Society.  The article has been cited by now in 2024 in 90 referred journal articles in several disciplines, from physics to psychology, 20 since 2021, showing it is still being read and used.  This case presents the context prompting the development of Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluastions and some of its major findings and implications.  I would have posted the article itself if I could.  Unfortunately it contains tables, charts, and graphs that would be impossible to format on this website.

This case focuses primarily on my use of transactional analysis concepts and techniques in my teaching career as a professor of business policy, entrepreneurship, organizational behavior, ethics, operations management and management information systems.  

Transactional analysis appealed to me in 1970 because it was readable, learnable, and teachable. Eric Berne, the founder of TA, was clear and concise in his books defining terms and concepts such as ego states, transactions, Games, scripts, time structuring, group cultures, group imagos, group etiquette, organizational boundaries, agitations, and cohesions (Berne, 1957, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1970). I was first exposed to his teaching in What Do You Say After You Say Hello, which I received in 1970 through the Book of the Month Club when I was teaching general management, my first year in full-time teaching, in a business school at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. I had just earned a doctor’s degree in business administration with a major in management science with minors in economics and finance in 1969 from Texas Tech University.  Eric Berne’s most popular book, still selling today, selling over two million copies, is Games People Play (1964).

Despite the fact I had never had a business course as a student that entailed nothing but the analysis and discussion of cases for grades, I was teaching in a department that required all teachers to use the case method (Christensen & Hanson, 1986; Christensen, Garvin & Sweet, 1991; Christensen, 1992; Gragg, 1940; Towl, 1969), that required the reading and discussion of a case a day, with no standardized tests, the final grade being based solely on class participation and one case write-up used as the final exam.

I was told by Bernard Bienvenu (1969), a full professor and head of the department with a Harvard business doctorate, a native of the area, to just go in the classroom and talk with the students about the cases. Knowing what to say to these students in this situation after you said hello was not a simple problem. In a case of the blind leading the blind, not only did I have little understanding of how the case method worked, I had doubts about how well I could explain all those management science, economics, finance, accounting, marketing, and organizational behavior theories, procedures, and concepts I had read and been tested on in my doctoral studies.

I had good recommendations from my professors at Texas Tech and one of them, Carlton Whitehead, Coordinator of Graduate Studies in business, from Louisiana, had taught under Bernard for a year or so using the case method.  Carlton thought I would like the case method and South Louisiana culture, replete with good fishing and good seafood, especially crawfish etoufee.  Bernard told me he did not have enough money to even think about hiring Harvard doctorates to teach in his department, but he thought I would be able to learn the case method on the job, given my background and proclivities.  He offered me a decent salary and the associate professor rank, enabling me to skip the assistant professor rank, a feat almost unheard-of in those days.

I left the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now University of Louisiana-Lafayette) my first year, largely because of my feelings of inadequacy using the case method. I moved on to Georgia Southern College (now University) where I have remained 33 years and where no one used the case method, but me.  In a surprising and frustrating twist of fate, after I had already accepted my new position at Georgia Southern and had submitted my letter of resignation to USL, after it was too late to back out, during my second semester at USL it dawned on me how the case method worked. I became comfortable using the case method, I enjoyed talking with students using the case method, I felt successful using the case method, and I have used almost nothing but the case method in my business teaching since. This was one of the most significant if painful learning experiences of my life, probably the most significant academic learning experience.  To this day I am convinced business students learn more and better about business in general using the case method than they do memorizing theories and concepts for standardized tests.

I became a full professor at Georgia Southern at age 36, having published a book (Managing Creatively:  Action Learning in Action, University Press of America, 1976) containing cases and case method procedures, and a little transactional analysis, but I was a lone wolf or a voice in a case method wilderness throughout my career, missing good years of dialogues with my case method mentors at USL, the best business teachers I have encountered. Probably less than 5 percent of all business teachers worldwide use the case method, and fewer still use transactional analysis. Shortly before I left USL, Bernard Bienvenu signed me a copy of his book New Priorities in Training (1969), published by the American Management Association, and included this inscription, “Good wishes for the gift of perseverance which leads to accomplishment.”

Accidental Causes of Learning

Fate, blind luck, evolution, or historical accidents cause us to be exposed to the most significant teaching and learning in our lives—especially the teaching we received from our parents in our earliest years. Not only do we learn how to walk, talk, and squawk in this school, we learn about how to feel, think, and do for good or ill throughout our lives by what we decide about the winner, loser, or non-winner scripts that are passed down to us from our ancestors.

What else we are taught and learn is also largely a matter of luck or fate, in my opinion, depending on what is taught in the media, religious institutions, communities, schools and universities, and culture on the particular terra firma spot on which we are accidentally born and reared. Although few would argue reading, writing, and arithmetic should not be taught to all children, even teaching such as this is not yet universal, not taught at all among isolated indigenous tribes, and, while taught, is not learned by many students even in advanced societies. Even if these basic skills are taught to all children in compulsory schools, if a student is accidentally exposed to a poor-enough teacher or school she or he may not learn one or more of these skills because of the inadequate teaching, and, if a student has already been accidentally taught by parents in a powerful enough way not to think, learn, or be successful such a student may not learn how to read, write, or do arithmetic even if exposed to the best of teachers and schools. Adding more unfairness and uncertainty to this cosmic learning lottery, some students apparently inherit genes through biological processes that predispose them to be good learners of various skills, otherwise how could people such as Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglas, and Thomas Edison have learned and accomplished what they did with less than 6th grade educations?

Had I not encountered Vince Luchsinger a professor of management at Texas Tech who told me in 1966 I could work on a doctorate at Texas Tech I would never have become a university professor and for sure I would not have learned what I have learned since then. Had I not encountered Carlton Whitehead the coordinator of graduate studies in business at Texas Tech who told me about the USL case method position, I would never have learned how to use the case method. Had I not accidentally received Eric Berne’s What Do You Say After You Say Hello through the Book of the Month Club, I might never have ever learned anything about TA, and I would not have written this case. Because of reading this book and because of previous books I had read and experiences I had involving my own script, I was able to understand how TA concepts could be used to deal with problems I was experiencing as a teacher. One’s lifetime education, therefore, largely depends on the people and reading matter one accidentally stumbles across, assuming one learns to read in the first place.

Learning To Teach TA

It seems to me teachers in TA certification programs for educators have generally been taught some TA beyond what they might have learned on their own reading transactional analysis books and articles and were left to their own devices to figure out how to use TA in whatever kind of teaching they might do. One might think it might help for teachers certified in education by TA associations to have a degree or two from a college of education, since some good research and literature have been published in this field. I have read some of this literature (Dewey, 1935; Dressel, 1961; Freire, 1970; Gagne, 1977; Giroux, 1992), but most of us in higher education, outside schools and colleges of education, have had little or no teaching or training about how to teach by experts in the field of education. We may be relative experts in our fields, such as business, finance, physics, or whatever, but anything we know about teaching we have generally picked up by copying the teachers who taught us. I am convinced most teachers are scripted by the teachers who taught them in their undergraduate and graduate courses in their fields. Teachers generally copy or introject the values, attitudes, group imagoes, ego states, transactions, and teaching methods exhibited and used in the classroom by their favorite or most influential teachers, which they then pass on to their own students. I am the only teacher I have heard of who adopted a teaching method used throughout his teaching career that was not used by his undergraduate and graduate teachers. Based on my observations teachers almost never change their teaching scripts throughout a teaching career.

I encountered some of the brightest and best teachers and fellow students I have experienced as a student learning transactional analysis at the Southeast Institute at Chapel Hill, North Carolina during 1975-1980—Martin Groder (1977), Vann Joines (1987), Graham Barnes (1994), Ken Ernst (1972), John O’Hearn, Ken Sowers, Pam Dickson-White, Shep Gellert (1983), Buzz Lee, Nick Moore, Grady Hough, Tim Schnabel, Russ Osnes (1974), Pamela Navarro, Pam Jelly, Jake Jacobs (1991) and many others. All of these people were adults with degrees in several fields, including medical doctors, psychologists, a registered nurse who taught in a medical school, an elementary school teacher, two university professors of mathematics, a CPA, a minister, an ex-Army chaplain, an ex-college president, and others. We discussed complex, vexing, sometimes insidious problems, yet we had some fun, and most of us would try to give anyone a straight answer about any problem. While there was probably some Game-playing going on even here, there was far less of it than I have experienced in other schools. I was amazed and encouraged by what Ken Ernst (1972) was teaching his grade school students in California, and I hoped he might become a role model for public schools everywhere. He was teaching students in a public grade school about ego states, transactions, Games, and scripts in ways they could understand and was giving them tools for dealing with horrific psychological problems some of them had experienced in their lives at school and at home. Unfortunately he may have been one of a kind, since he is the only teacher I have known who did this kind of teaching in a public grade school.  Almost all my teaching experience has been teaching business students in colleges and universities who were 18 or more years old and adults of various ages in continuing education and consulting programs. While I have innovated some techniques and procedures I consider effective in my classes, I have had no firsthand experience indicating they work in classes at all grade levels.

In 1980 I thought about teaching TA to all kinds of teachers anywhere. I had 1,000 coated, folded 4-page brochures printed in two colors that I mailed to curriculum directors throughout the United States, which resulted in the sale of one contract, six hours worth of didactic teaching in one day for a county school system, in a Southern state other than Georgia, as in-service training for all teachers in the system before school started. I think I was paid $50 an hour. The curriculum director said she hoped I was good because the school system would have her head if the teaching bombed since it cost so much. While the teaching did not bomb as such, I was, in my opinion, less than successful, and I did not mail out any more brochures to school systems pell-mell. Some of the teachers in this experience told me personally they benefited from my TA teaching, but it was obvious many did not like what they heard or me personally, and I did not like what I saw in some of them. Here I was teaching supposedly-mature professional teachers about how to motivate students and create positive attitudes when some of these teachers had worse attitudes and were more immature than were some of my college students. Some of them needed therapy, and there was no way I could deal with these issues in this setting, ethically or otherwise. One attractive teacher in her forties became upset when I suggested that they might randomly select students to talk about homework in class. Accosting me before a group of 100 or more teachers, she said, “I would never dare do that with my students. It would embarrass them to death.”

I had been conducting some night TA courses through continuing education at Georgia Southern for adults in my community from any profession or walk of life that were successful in my opinion. The difference was the teaching method. In the six-hour contract with 200 teachers I had to generally fill up the airtime by lecturing, defining terms, and giving my own opinions. In my continuing education courses I had passed out TA material I discussed in groups of 30 or fewer students as students leisurely applied the material to their own situations. Unfortunately, by 1985 or so few students were signing up for these courses. Either I had taught by then almost everyone in my community who wanted to learn about TA or almost everyone around here had decided TA did not work. Or maybe everyone had heard about me as a TA teacher and did not enroll because of my persona and proclivities. Regardless, I have done very little continuing education TA teaching since 1985. I have, however, continued to use TA in my teaching of undergraduate business students in my business policy and entrepreneurship courses.

I also conducted some successful TA training programs with some businesses in this area during the late 70s and early 80s. I worked with one local manufacturing plant off and on for 5 years, teaching TA to about 300 employees at all levels in didactic sessions and working with them in group meetings discussing plant problems. I worked with them on contracts involving not only interpersonal conflicts but also such things as purchasing new computers, inventing new information systems, and changing the scheduling system of the plant. Unfortunately this plant has since been sold twice and most of its jobs have been moved to a low-wage country.

De-Gaming Teaching and Learning

When I was teaching at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, Rex Hauser, one of the two Harvard Business School doctorates teaching in the department, would randomly select students to start case method discussions by picking a card from a deck of computer data cards he shuffled in front of the class every day. These cards were turned in by students the first day of class to prove they had enrolled in the course. Whoever’s card got picked had to tell the class what he or she thought was the problem in the case and what to do about it. I had never seen or heard of such a thing. Part of my learning at USL entailed learning that this random-selection process worked. It became obvious to me that Rex’s students read the cases before they came to class and were learning more than my students were learning because of this random-selection process. While I never had the confidence to try this data card-shuffling idea at USL, after I got to Georgia Southern after a year or two I decided to have my students position their desks around the perimeter of the classroom and play spin the bottle.

The coke bottle would roll and rattle around on the floor, creating a distraction, so I started spinning a pen on my seating chart, which was also circular reflecting the circle classroom layout of the class. The person whose name the point of the pen stopped on became the accidental discussion starter of the day. This solved the rolling- around problem of the bottle, but since I sat in a desk just like those students sat in, which had a slanted top, my pen would often roll off the desktop before it stopped spinning.

By this time, I had learned about psychological Games and the Karpman Drama Triangle (1968) at the Southeast Institute, so I concocted a circular piece of wood 9″ in diameter to which I affixed a spinner, also made of wood, which I labeled the Classroom De-Gamer, which I described in an article I sent to the Transactional Analysis Journal, which was accepted and published under the title “The Classroom De-Gamer” (Stapleton, 1979a). I drew concentric circles of numbers on the De-Gamer, corresponding to different class sizes. Each student in a class would have a permanent number for the course corresponding to where he or she had decided to sit in the circle the first day, numbers being assigned in sequence around the room starting with any student I might pick. Students sitting near me in the circle day in and day out could see that the spinner stopped on particular numbers, and they would know I was not playing Games when I called out the number for someone to start the discussion and prove they had fulfilled their contract for the day by reading the case before class. Since I sat in different desks on different days different students would watch the spinner spin.

I created my own publishing company in 1979, Effective Learning Publications, and printed 500 copies of a book I wrote titled De-Gaming Teaching and Learning:  How to Motivate Learners and Invite OKness.  The book was built around the Classroom De-Gamer, describing how it De-Gamed Games such as NIGYSOB, KICK ME, GEE, YOU’RE WONDERFUL PROFESSOR, POOR ME, DO ME SOMETHING, COPS AND ROBBERS, I’M ONLY TRYING TO HELP YOU and ISN’T EDUCATION WONDERFUL. I pointed out no student could logically feel or think I was acting out the Persecutor or Rescuer role when she or he was selected by the De-Gamer to start discussions, and no student could logically think he or she was a picked-on Victim when selected. I am sure much of my motivation for writing this book stemmed from the disgust I felt as a student in grade school and high school in classes taught by teachers who had teacher’s pets.

I am indebted to Martin Groder, MD at Chapel Hill, North Carolina for his help writing this book, not only for his powerful TA ideas published and cited in the book, but also for his insights and feedback regarding the overall problem of de-gaming Games.  Marty gave me a great stroke for the book, which I used as a blurb marketing the book, with his permission, which I am convinced significantly increased its sales, primarily through Trans-Pubs, the ITAA bookstore, that marketed TA books internationally through direct mail and in bookstores.  Trans-Pubs set up traveling bookstores at ITTA conferences in various locations around Earth.  

Marty said, “De-Gaming Teaching and Learning is a major new application of transactional analysis.”

This short blurb was a high compliment, coming from Martin Groder, printed with the book listing in all Trans-Pubs catalogs and mail-outs.  Marty was a major leader of TA at the time.  He was a protege of Eric Berne, having worked with Berne in San Francisco as a trainee, and was a leading contender for president of the International Transactional Analysis Association when De-Gaming Teaching and Learning was published in 1979.  The ITAA at that time was a vibrant and growing inter-disciplinary professional association with about ten thousand international members. 

In De-Gaming Teaching and Learning I described in 132 pages how I thought ego states (Berne, 1970), transactions (Berne, 1970), ego-grams (Dusay, 1972), scripts (Goulding & Goulding, 1976; Steiner, 1974), time structuring (Berne, 1970), strokes (McKenna, 1974; Steiner, 1971), Games (Berne, 1964; Karpman, 1968), rackets (English, 1971, 1972), mini-scripts (Kahler, 1974), and OKness (Ernst, F., 1971; Groder, 1977) related to classroom situations. I made recommendations in the book, such as teachers using appropriate ego states in the classroom—generally more Adult, Nurturing Parent, and Free Child, but yet some positive Critical Parent and Adapted Compliant Child to maintain discipline and productivity; encouraging, for college students at least, more Adult—Adult transactions than others in the classroom; giving permission to students to overcome detrimental drivers and injunctions; allowing students where appropriate to express real feelings; allowing and encouraging students to think, learn, and contribute in class at the highest level of which they are capable; and managing the class in such a way as to maximize Okness among all participants. I used TA to explain how I thought classrooms should be designed and built, arguing that circle classroom layouts with the teacher sitting in a desk or chair just like everyone else tended to create a more I’m Ok—You’re Ok, Adult— Adult culture, as did amphitheater classrooms; whereas classrooms with students sitting in desks in fixed rows and columns with the teacher standing behind a lectern or sitting behind a big desk tended to create a more Parent—Child, I’m Ok—You’re Not Ok culture. I also recommended that teachers develop clear contracts with students at the outset of a course through course syllabi, a major feature of the contract being that students would read and do homework before class and share and discuss ideas about it in class.

I printed up some more coated two-color brochures offering for sale De-Gaming Teaching and Learning and mailed them out nationally and internationally to names I had purchased from a mailing list broker. Each mail-out would sell a few books, generating about a one-half of one percent response rate, which would not cover the cost of the printing and mailing of the brochures. I sold 300 or so copies through Trans-Pubs, and sold all the 500 copies in the first printing over the next few years. The book is still listed in Books in Print and is still available through Effective Learning Publications, although no orders have been received in 6 years. 

(Postscript:  I updated De-Gaming Teaching and Learning in 2016, retitleing it Born to Learn: A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning, publishing it through Effective Learning Publications.  It’s not a best seller yet but it has received some good reviews and book royalties are trickling in.  You can find the reviews by typing Born to Learn:  A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning into Google.  You will find several results).

In the late 1970s and early 80s transactional analysis concepts were sometimes included in standard textbooks published by major publishers in business disciplines such as organizational behavior and business policy, which I taught and still teach. TA concepts are no longer there in new editions of those books. I have not seen any mention of TA in any business book, except mine, in several years, and almost no one ever mentions TA to me anymore, including people in the community whom I taught TA. One exception is Jack Mallard, a successful retired businessman, who has asked me several times in recent years around town, “Do you remember that TA class we had back in the ’70s?”

I have written a 79-page monograph I call Business Voyages (Stapleton, 1998), printed by Georgia Southern Printing Services and sold to students by the university bookstore, paying no royalties, that I use in my Applied Small Business course, a course that entails students consulting with and writing cases about small businesses in the community, involving about 30 students per year. This monograph has a chapter explaining how I think TA concepts and procedures relate to entrepreneurs and small business. In written feedback about the course students often say the TA material was among the most interesting parts of the course. It seems none of my business students in recent years have heard of TA before they read Business Voyages.

The metaphor of Business Voyages is that business people sail in a boat with others, whether in companies or countries, for the short time of their lives, in rivers, lakes, and oceans. Inertia created by scripts and currents and winds in the environment inexorably sweep everyone somewhere, but it is possible for individuals to chart courses and reach ports of call on Earth they might personally prefer.

As I pointed out in my original Classroom De-Gamer article (1979), I am still convinced the Classroom De-Gamer makes my business classes more Adult, fun and productive than they otherwise would have been and that the De-Gamer reduces Game-playing in my classrooms.

Although I have never had problems attracting my share of good students for my undergraduate or graduate classes at Georgia Southern, some students have always shied away from my courses because of the Classroom De-Gamer, which is generally referred to by students as “The Spinner”, although it has also been called “The Death Wheel”, among other things. Several years ago I became convinced that teachers might be more inclined to use De-Gamers if the device were called something else. I had a new batch of 15 made by a local woodworker and had the name “Wheel of Fate” printed on them as a trademark. While some students seem to like this name better, apparently most still call it “The Spinner”. Teachers still do not like the idea. I sold 5 of the new batch and 10 are stored in my attic. They are made to last from sturdy oak wood.


Teaching generally entails teachers tasked to teach students the content and skills of subjects specified by a school curriculum. These subjects range from reading in the first grade to calculus in high school with all subjects in between—geography, English, plane geometry, history, chemistry, physics, psychology, vocational agriculture, whatever. In most cases, textbooks are specified by a state agency, but in some cases they are not, especially in colleges and universities with academic freedom in which professors may select or write books they require students to read, as have I (Stapleton, 1976, 1985, 1998, 2003). A given for a teacher is to cause students to learn the content or skills mandated by the curriculum regardless of the books or methods he or she might adopt (Gagne, 1970).

Most of my students have performed teaching functions since I have delegated them the freedom and responsibility to write cases they publish to their classes. They educate one another when their cases are discussed in class, which usually consumes about 25 percent of the airtime of my courses. Most of the books I have adopted for my courses have been written by business professors at Stanford (Collins & Lazier, 1995) and Harvard (Stevenson, Roberts, and Grousbeck, 1999). An exception is a business policy and strategy book I have used for about 30 years written by professors at the University of Alabama (Thompson & Strickland, 2003).

According to accounts I have read and seen in various media and conversations I have had with people familiar with what goes on in public schools, it appears some public school teachers are more or less forced to be more concerned with discipline problems and keeping order than with causing learning to occur. I sympathize with these teachers and respect and admire the abilities and efforts required to deal with problem students in these situations. While I think knowing TA concepts and techniques can help them deal with these situations, I do not think TA is a panacea. I have been fortunate since most students where I am do not create discipline problems. I have experienced no violent behavior in my classes, although in recent years I have had increasing problems with anti-social behavior such as students coming in class late and gossiping in class when responsible students are discussing the assigned reading. Because of this phenomenon, 5 years ago I wrote laws in my syllabi that students must agree to as a contract at the beginning of the course that this sort of behavior is outlawed, specifying they will lose letter grades if they violate the law, which has happened in several cases. Unfortunately I suspect college and university teachers will have more problems with discipline and anti- social behavior in future years than I have experienced in my career. This past summer I taught a beginning business course in which there were 4 or 5 students in the class of 40 who obviously had experience with gangs in high schools. Up until the past year or so I was unaware that gangs existed in this area. While I recognize that violence (Gilligan, 1997) and anti-social behavior are serious problems in many schools, my emphasis in this article is on how to produce relevant learning and De-Game students, teachers, and administrators.

Designing the Course

It seems to me most teachers including grade and high school teachers have some freedom to decide how to cause learning to occur, and there are two basic strategies for making this happen, in my opinion: (A) the teacher can do most of the talking in class and basically tell students what to remember for tests, or (B) the teacher can require students to do most of the talking in class by discussing and applying what is in the books, cases, and other reading.

Most teachers adopt strategy A. The teacher fills up the airtime talking in class, thereby seeming to be earning his or her pay. Students do not have to do homework day in and day out and are relatively easy to control since all they are generally supposed to do in class is stay awake and pay attention to the teacher and remember what the teacher tells them for tests.

Strategy B requires students to read homework and participate in class. Students have to think about what to say in class. They exercise their personalities and sometimes argue with one another in class. The teacher may say very little. Students are harder to control and may waste the time of the class saying things that will not show up on tests. Some observers may think the teacher is too lazy to teach.

As you might expect, I think strategy B causes more and better learning to occur. For one thing it gives students practice reading empirical and intellectual material, but more than that it requires students to think for themselves about what is relevant (Bateson, 1972; Fuller, 1969) and communicate dialogically and dialectically in class with fellow students about significant issues (Abercrombie, 1960; Buber, 1966, 1969; Habermas, 1981). With a little supplementing and explaining on the part of a qualified teacher most students can understand and remember much of the content specified by the curriculum—plus they will develop valuable work habits and communication skills.

A major social problem with the latter approach is that it becomes obvious as the course unfolds who are the better students, and if you grade based on class participation, rather than true-false, multiple- choice or other so-called objective test questions you might have spoon-fed answers to before tests, it becomes obvious who are relatively the excellent, good, average, and poor learners and contributors. If one is to be fair grading, most of the grades will be Cs, since on a 4-point system C=average, and there will be relatively few As, since A=excellent. Since grades are based largely on class participation, and since the students in the class also had their eyes and ears open, they too know who were the excellent, good, average, and poor contributors, and since they are believers in the equity theory of management just like everyone else, that is, that a worker, student, or contributor to anything should be rewarded the same as others who contributed the same, the teacher must give each student what he or she actually deserves, since students quite naturally will compare their final grades after the course is over.

I have been criticized because I have not used so-called objective tests with true-false, multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, or short-answer questions to prove students have learned. I strongly disagree with this criticism. In the first place, does memorizing answers for such tests prove relevant learning occurred, especially when one considers that answers are often spoon-fed, that test questions can be calibrated downward in difficulty to make sure all students can make A’s and B’s, and, if this does not work, that raw scores can be curved upward to make sure all students receive A’s and B’s.

Almost all my grades have been based 80 percent on class participation and 20 percent on case write-ups and long essays. I have not required students to memorize specific points or derive exact answers for mathematical problems. After students have read the text material and cases (most of which contain numbers and require mathematical reasoning) before class and have discussed it in class, especially while being subject to the draconian penalty of losing a letter grade if caught unprepared by the Classroom De-Gamer (Stapleton & Stapleton, 1998), a good bit of the material will stick with them, probably more than would have been the case had I attempted to tell them everything they needed to know for tests (Stapleton & Stapleton, 1998). Most of my students agree with me on this. Many say they forget everything they memorized for tests two weeks after the course is over.

A primary gain from using multiple-choice, true-false and other so-called objective tests as sole determinants of final grades is creating an illusion of objectivity, achievement, and fairness for students, teachers, administrators and parents. A secondary gain is absolving students, teachers, administrators and parents from the responsibility of learning in daily class discussions how much some students know about the subject and how little others know.

I ultimately agreed with my colleagues in Louisiana who had been trained in the Harvard Business School, probably the most successful business school in the world (Forbes, 2003), that the purpose of university business teaching is not to teach students to learn how to understand and remember theories, opinions, models, or procedures, or solve algorithmic puzzles but to learn how to understand business situations as they exist, make good decisions, create workable policies and strategies for dealing with real situations, and convince others that one’s ideas should be implemented. I also agree with other colleagues that most schools are not business schools, and their purposes are different. The purpose of most schools is to teach students how to understand and remember geographic and historical facts, theories, concepts, mathematical procedures, and the like. While my colleagues in colleges of education know much more than I about the accepted theory and techniques of testing and proving whether learning has occurred (Dressel, 1961), it is obvious that passing tests does not prove whether one will be able to understand business situations as they are encountered in real life, when the stakes are high, otherwise some of my colleagues with PhDs in business would not have lost half their retirement savings in 2000 in the stock market.


Grade inflation—teachers giving students grades higher than they deserve—which entails teachers playing Games such as GEE, YOU’RE WONDERFUL STUDENTS, I’M ONLY TRYING TO HELP YOU, and ISN’T EDUCATION WONDERFUL, is rampant, not only in colleges and universities, but also in public schools (Healy, 2001; Johnson, 2002; The Economist, 2001, 2002). According to The Economist (2002), notable exceptions to the problem of grade inflation internationally are graduate schools such as the Harvard Business School “who have manfully maintained a rigorous grading curve.”

I have been engaged in research dealing with this problem for 7 years. I invented a metric in 1997 I call the Composite Indicator of Teaching Productivity, or CITP, which entails estimating the success of a teacher based on an average of ranks for four variables—Instructor Excellence, Study Production, Learning Production, and Relative Expected Grades—taken from student responses on student evaluations of teachers. Unfortunately, while the CITP has been published in the Journal of Management Education (Stapleton & Murkison, 2001), and I have emailed the article to all administrators and teachers in my college (Stapleton, 1978), some 90 people, as well as the provost of the university, I have seen little evidence the CITP has been significantly used in our college. The CITP forces administrators to take into account how much teachers motivate students to study and the grades teachers have led students to expect, not just how well teachers pleased students as evidenced by instructor excellence scores.

After emailing the CITP article to all teachers and administrators in our college, I received two responses. One administrator told me in confidence he agreed with me about the pernicious effects of expected grades and that he thought it would be easy to program a computer to compute CITPs every semester for every faculty member. The other response came from a faculty member who told me he basically agreed with the CITP concept but most faculty were threatened by it and were upset that I had sent them the article in an email attachment. He said he told them that no one had forced them to open the attachment and read the article, but he also said he thought it was more or less traditional in academia that faculty members should not try to force other faculty to read and use research.

Despite my success five years ago causing study production, learning production, and expected grades questions to be added to the student evaluation form used campus-wide at our university (Stapleton & Murkison, 2001), administrators generally persist in only paying attention to instructor excellence, which shows how well the teacher pleased students, despite the fact my research (Stapleton & Murkison, 2001, Stapleton & Stapleton, 2003a, 2003b) and the research of others (Chacko,1983; Greenwald & Gillmore,1997a, 1997b) has clearly shown that instructor excellence scores are significantly affected by relative expected grades—the grades students expect in a course relative to the grades they normally expect in a course for a given amount of work—and the higher the relative expected grades the higher the instructor excellence score, and vice versa. These are cases, in TA Game words, of students playing GEE YOU’RE WONDERFUL PROFESSOR when their relative expected grades are high and NIGYSOB (Now I’ve Got You, You S.O.B.) when their relative expected grades are low.

In my opinion administrators persist in counting only instructor excellence and discounting study production and expected grades, despite research indicating how Game-infested this is, because this increases their own evaluations and raises as administrators. Counting only instructor excellence makes most teachers look better than they otherwise would, and since teachers also evaluate administrators, administrators must please most of the teachers in their units to receive high administrator evaluation scores.

Such behavior contributes to maintaining the moral equilibrium (Baier, 1958) of the system, morality being doing what is thought to be right based on abstract principles such as honesty and truth and agency theory (Goldman, 1970) such as doing what will advance your own interests and/or the interests of others. Although it seems to me abstract principles such as honesty and truth should supersede acting in a self-interested manner in schools, it seems this is often not the case. Unfortunately there are no criteria for grading students, teachers, and administrators in a school that will advance the interests of all others. It may be that in most school systems challenging teachers who honestly grade based on relative academic achievement are sacrificed, since the utilitarian criterion of justice (Rawls, 1999), i.e. attempting to create the greatest happiness for the greatest number, may be optimal (Stapleton & Murkison, 2001). Students, after all, really do need high grades to get scholarships and job offers, and teachers and administrators need high merit raises in order to be able to save money to send their own children to college, and so forth.

Teachers playing ISN’T EDUCATION WONDERFUL by lowering their standards to create high expected grades generally win—because it only takes a small percentage of students in a class taking revenge with NIGYSOB to destroy the departmental ranking of a teacher with high study production and low relative expected grades scores if only instructor excellence is counted in the process of evaluating teachers.

Administrators in my department up to the present time (March 2004) have ranked faculty based on instructor excellence scores and have discounted (Schiff & Schiff, 1971) study production and relative expected grades scores. I usually rank in the bottom 25 percent of these instructor excellence ranks. After my study production and learning production questions and the administration’s absolute expected grade question were added to the campus-wide form three years ago, administrators in our college stopped furnishing teachers scores for all questions on the student evaluation form. By making a special request I have been able to secure this data, and I know my study production score has been high and my expected grades have been low (Stapleton & Stapleton, 2003a, 2003b).

Despite the Game-playing student evaluations create, student evaluations in colleges and universities do more good than harm in my opinion, primarily because they show what all students in a class thought about the teaching of a teacher. In the absence of student evaluation data teachers are at the mercy of administrative opinion picked up in hallways and offices based on small samples of student opinion, which are more contaminated and Game-infested than student evaluation data, since most administrators have been taught they do not have time to actually see what is going on in the classrooms of teachers.

I have no firsthand experience with teacher evaluation systems in public schools, but as I understand the situation, since students in public schools are presumed to be too young and immature to evaluate teachers, student evaluation forms are not used; administrators sometimes visit classes to observe teachers teaching; there is more peer review; and student test scores on standardized tests are sometimes used to judge how well a teacher taught. In my college we have had almost no observing and peer review, and student test scores are almost never used to prove anything. About the only thing that counts in teaching evaluations is the instructor excellence score produced by student evaluations.

In at least one sense the problem of teacher evaluation is less significant in public schools than in colleges and universities, since most public schools do not have merit raises, salary raises being based instead on degrees earned and seniority. In colleges such as our business college there are merit raises, and differences in merit raises among teachers year in and year out can cumulate to significant yearly salary differentials over time. Therefore Game-playing around teacher evaluations is probably generally heavier in colleges and universities than in public schools. If the merit raise is based on receiving relatively high scores for instructor excellence, one can see why grade inflation is rampant in colleges and universities that have merit raises, and since using a Classroom De-Gamer increases one’s study production score which reduces one’s instructor excellence score, it is easy to see why most college and university teachers would never dream of using a Classroom De-Gamer.

Managing Colleges and Universities

The grade inflation issue has significant implications for the management of colleges and universities. If professors who assign the highest grades also receive the highest student evaluations and the highest yearly merit salary increases then the amount and quality of learning among students will almost surely decline and deteriorate.

Although in overall perspective I think the University System of Georgia has adequately administered Georgia’s colleges and universities, I have been critical of the fact that most administrators in the business school at Georgia Southern did little teaching and accomplished little or no research and yet generally received some 10 percent or more in salary than professors. They did useful work—overseeing records and paperwork, conducting and attending meetings, talking with students and alumni, using student evaluations to evaluate faculty for salary raises—but this is not something you need a PhD to do. Although it may be that most state university systems automatically pay administrators more than teachers, it seems to me this policy is flawed and invalid. It seems to me administrative work is not inherently more difficult or more valuable than teaching and research, and probably the contrary is true. To verify that administrators in the business school have in general received some 10 percent or more in salary than professors all one has to do is read the data published yearly in the State of Georgia Auditor’s Reports in the Georgia Southern library or in other libraries around the state.

According to Mieczkowski (1991, 1995), college and university administrators are often not subjected to meaningful evaluations because few people are in a position to know what they do or have any idea how well they do what they are supposed to do. Colleges and universities have the same problem large corporations have enforcing effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity at the top. Most board members are unable to understand the details, subtleties, and intricacies of operational matters yet they enjoy the prestige of being on the board. Consequently they tend to rubber stamp whatever they discuss. Many executives and administrators tell their board members they need more compensation because their counterparts in similar organizations are being given that much compensation and they might leave if they do not receive as much. The process is somewhat analogous to children extracting more allowance money from parents, by telling their parents that Johnny or Sally gets this much allowance and they should too, since they have been just as good as Johnny or Sally.

In general college and university professors use the same strategy, but at least in their cases they can point to their personal research and publication results, the numbers of courses and students they have taught, the numbers and types of courses or programs they have created, and evidence from former students that what they taught was valuable to demonstrate productivity relative to peers. It is often difficult for an administrator to point to something specific that s/he personally accomplished that demonstrates productivity relative to peer administrators. Most college administrators make little effort to accurately learn and measure how relatively well professors teach truth and produce learning in classrooms; instead they focus primarily on pleasing their superiors and rely on students and student evaluations to grade the teaching of professors.

As a participant in the unfair race in which all humans compete, I have no right to complain compared with most people in most walks of life, organizations, and countries about my career income at Georgia Southern, especially considering the fact I did not decide to become a college professor in the first place to get rich. In overall perspective I have been relatively well compensated compared to people generally and I have enjoyed more freedom, job security, and opportunity for self-actualization and travel in my work than most people. Yet it surprised me to see printed in a State Auditor’s report in the Georgia Southern library a year or so before I retired that quite a few administrators and professors in the business school at Georgia Southern had higher salaries than I, who in my opinion had contributed less of significance to Georgia Southern and to their academic fields. I was the top scorer and playmaker on every junior high, high school, and college basketball team I ever played on, and I do not like to lose, especially because of poor rules, referees, and scorekeepers.

In our “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations” study, when Instructor Excellence scores alone were ranked, I ranked 23rd of 25 faculty members in the study; based on a summary CITP, Composite Indicator of Teaching Productivity, ranking, I ranked 3rd of 25 faculty members in the study.

Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations, published in 2001, has by now been cited in 68 refereed professional journals, proving it has been and still is being used by serious academics as a guide for evaluating teaching.

Like most people I believe in the equity theory of management, that is, that people doing the same thing should be rewarded and compensated commensurately to what they produce. Unfortunately in reality I wonder how widespread the equity theory of management is applied. I suspect in most organizations if they published salaries in auditor’s reports for all employees that many employees would wonder why many salaries are as they are. In many cases employees, teachers, professors, administrators, managers, CEOs, etc. are rewarded not for producing meritorious contributions of value to students, customers, stockholders, and humanity but for conforming to the organizational script and for pleasing the personalities of supposed superiors (Stapleton, 1978). The preacher in Ecclesiastes in the Bible was right about races not necessarily being won by the swift.

To cure the problem of salary inequities between administrators and professors all a system has to do is create a policy that does away with career administrators in academic units that provides for the random selection or selection in rotation of temporary administrators from the ranks of tenured faculty with terminal degrees for no more than three-year terms, giving them reduced teaching loads for three years but evaluating them using the same criteria that are used for fulltime professors. There is no need for a permanent class of career administrators in the academic units of colleges and universities. Anyone responsible enough to earn a PhD is responsible enough to serve as a temporary administrator in an academic college or department for three years. Being drafted to serve as a temporary administrator for a professor would be like a US citizen being drafted to serve a three-year term in state or federal government. Randomly selecting temporary administrators will help De-Game (Stapleton, 1979b) the administrative process by reducing pandering, flattering, favoritism, and cronyism.

We had some excellent administrators at Georgia Southern from the president’s office on down whom I thought conscientiously did their best to advance the interests of the university and their academic units, and we had no administrators at Georgia Southern that I knew that I considered truly incompetent or corrupt, and I thought most of them did their jobs adequately given their requirements and constraints. I think most of them did what they thought was right taking everything into account.

We had numerous professors in the academic departments, schools, and colleges of Georgia Southern whom I thought were exemplary scholars, researchers, writers, teachers, and human beings—who did their best to advance the interests of their students and mankind.

I think most administrators and professors played some psychological games, being forced to for survival in some cases; but the major problem, in my opinion, was that university system precedents and processes caused a chronic general overcompensating of administrators relative to professors. This problem is apparently common in school and university systems. Colleagues at professional meetings throughout the country told me they thought university systems in most states bestowed higher incomes on administrators who did relatively little or no scholarly or intellectual work who had somehow nevertheless been ordained as superior to professors. How this metamorphosis from professor to administrator comes about remains a mystery. For a definition and discussion of psychological games see Chapter 3, People Along the Way, in Business Voyages.

On the other hand, a major cause of salary inequities in AACSB business schools is the market for new PhDs. If new PhDs in a business field are scarce and you have to hire them to maintain AACSB standards—the AACSB among other things requires for accreditation that 40 percent or more of business faculty in all business disciplines in a school must have a PhD, DBA, or other qualified terminal degree—and if your school is competing with various states and several universities you may have to offer new PhDs with slim or no track records competitive salaries determined by current supply and demand in the market for new PhDs, which may be higher than the salaries of your long-service productive professors with good or excellent proven track records, and if the system thinks administrators should be paid as much as or more than the highest paid new PhDs, and if merit raises are percentage-based in subsequent years, salaries become increasingly inequitable through time. This problem is known as “compression” and probably most AACSB (American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business) business schools have a problem keeping their faculty and administrative salaries equitable over time because of compression.

Getting and keeping AACSB accreditation for over 30 years, as we managed to accomplish in our business school at Georgia Southern during my tenure, was not easy. Only about 20 percent of 2,000 or so US colleges and universities offering business courses during this period achieved AACSB accreditation. We were one of four of twenty or so four-year colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia—Georgia Southern, University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Georgia State—to maintain AACSB standards during most of this period.


Last year I asked one of my classes why so many students dropped after the first day. A student blurted out “You only give 11 percent A’s,” which amazed me since that was about right for that course. I asked him how he knew that. He said it’s on pickaprof.com. Answering my question “What is pickaprof.com?” he said, “It’s a site on the web.”

Sure enough, it’s there, for the whole world to see. To find out the grade point averages of grades assigned by professors in my university and in many other universities all anyone in the world has to do is punch pickaprof.com in a computer search engine and hit the search button.

The advent of the Internet and pickaprof.com enabled me to learn Fall 2002 some of the most significant and relevant facts I have ever learned about my teaching. Since grade distributions assigned by teachers were always kept secret in our business school, I had no idea how my grades compared to the grades of other teachers. According to pickaprof. com, my grades have been considerably lower than the grades of all other teachers teaching the same courses I have taught and have been lower than those of most teachers in the college. My grade point average posted on pickaprof.com for an integrative capstone business policy course required for all business majors I had taught for undergraduate students 32 years was 2.47, which was, I had always thought, about right. According to pickaprof.com, the next lowest grade point in the course assigned by my colleagues was 2.86, and, among 6 or so teachers usually teaching the course every semester, they ranged from 2.86 up to 3.78, on a 4-point scale. Perhaps as many as half the teachers were assigning almost nothing but A’s and B’s in some undergraduate courses, particularly in courses that were designed to teach students to think and integrate different business disciplines such as economics, accounting, finance, management, and marketing.

Grade point averages posted on pickaprof.com are real since they are downloaded directly from registrar’s offices in states that have open records laws, as does our state. A faculty member who assigned relatively high grades whose salary was higher than mine bullshooting with me in the hall one day about the morality of grading (Baier, 1958; Bedeian, 2002; Haskell, 1997; Mieczkowski, 1995) said, “Hey, I’m just a working class guy doing what I thought I was supposed to do.”

The student entrepreneurs starting pickaprof.com may do more to De-Game higher education than any innovation so far, if they stay in business, since they are putting a lot of truth on the table. They have already removed a veil of ignorance from many eyes. While hundreds of Internet businesses have gone bankrupt and have vanished since the technology bubble burst in 2000, some, like eBay, have generated accounting profits. It would be helpful, in my judgment, if several new Internet businesses like pickaprof.com were started to post the grade distributions of all teachers in all schools and could make enough profit to stay in business indefinitely.

The Internet is not only causing people to know more about grades in education; it is causing people to know more about prices in business. While grade inflation in education has been rampant, price inflation in business has been quiescent in recent years. Because of people knowing more about prices for goods, services and wages worldwide, businesses and businesspeople everywhere are subject to more competition, which holds down prices for consumers. Whether this will happen with grades because of the Internet remains to be seen. If employers can easily learn which grades are most inflated, this might cause schools and teachers producing inflated grades to improve, since few employers would want to hire their students at competitive salaries (Forbes, 2003). Rather than simply requiring job applicants to have a high grade point average, businesses and other employers might be more concerned with what and how much students actually learned in school.

Global business practices aided and abetted in recent years by personal computers, the Internet, cell phones and rapid delivery services for real goods are changing at an increasing rate, helping some people and hurting some people, in rich and poor countries alike. How human relationships will sort out worldwide because of this process is far from clear. Hopefully an ultimate result will be that life will become more truthful, honest, fair and just for more people. Most schools, businesses, governments, and other organizations as usual are sailing in uncharted waters, hoping current courses and practices will work for most students, members, participants, employees, associates, managers, workers, stockholders, administrators, proletarians, parishioners, congregants, devotees, aristocrats, voters, citizens, monarchs, officials, subjects, or whatever as long as possible.

Academic Alchemy

Teaching evaluation processes would be improved if educated and fair-minded adults would read the grading procedures and tests used in courses and randomly visit classrooms to see, hear, and feel what is going on when teachers teach. This is not allowed or encouraged in most cases because administrators say they do not have time to personally visit the classes of faculty within their units or supervise parents or other faculty observing teaching. Most college teachers and administrators would probably say in-class observations would create more problems than they would solve. I invited administrators to randomly visit my classes to see what was going on. No one ever accepted my offer for a random visit. Two or three administrators visited my classes once or twice each in my 35-year career by appointment. One administrator became upset when I suggested he randomly visit my classes to see what was going. He accused me of being unethical since he said I should have known he did not have time to visit the classes of all professors in the department randomly or otherwise. Consequently, almost all colleges and universities use student evaluations to grade teachers. Numerical grades assigned by students are summed and averaged to develop ranks of teachers. Teachers with the highest numerical scores are assumed to be the best teachers. This is problematic for several reasons.

In the first place, using student evaluations to rank faculty assumes all students are ethical, capable, and rational evaluators. Some students are far from ethical, rational and capable when they evaluate teachers. Some take revenge against teachers if they feel a teacher has been too demanding or unfair. Only a small percentage of students taking revenge against a teacher in a student evaluation can insure that the teacher will be ranked in the lower half of the department, even if the majority of the students in the class thought the teacher was a good teacher, even if some students thought the teacher was excellent.

In the second place, using student evaluations to rank faculty assumes all teachers are ethical, capable, and rational. While most teachers are ethical, capable, and rational, some are not dealing with the ethical problems student evaluations entail. In order for a teacher to insure that she or he is not ranked poorly in a student evaluation, a teacher must make sure that he or she pleases almost every student in the class, including students who are below average in the subject, and like it or not, most college or university classes will include some students who are below average in the subject of the course. Pleasing all students entails the teacher not requiring anything that below average achievers cannot or will not do, spoon-feeding sound-bite-like answers in class to tell all students what to memorize for tests, or curving grades in such a way that D grades look like C or better grades.

Taking numbers on a scale of 1-5, from poor through excellent, reflecting the judgments of poor, average, good, and excellent students in a class regarding a teacher and then summing these numbers and then dividing by the number of students in the class to derive an average class score is like combining baskets of apples, oranges, plums, bananas, and grapes to create a basket of pears in a process of academic alchemy. If 20 percent of the students in the class thought the teacher was poor and 20 percent thought the teacher was excellent, which group was really right? Assuming truth about teaching exists, this is an important question. Both groups cannot be right, and a rating in between is also not right. The difficulty of the problem is compounded if the 20 percent of the students who thought the teacher was poor were poor students and the 20 percent of the students who thought the teacher was excellent were excellent students. Adding 20 percent apples to 20 percent grapes will not magically produce any percent of any other kind of fruit.

Student evaluations are not true propositions. Ranking faculty based on averages generated by student opinions, biases, prejudices, emotions, and the like and then using the ranks as if they were true propositions is a form of academic alchemy; yet supposedly intelligent and educated administrators do this almost everywhere year in and year out. Administrators do this because using these mindless ranks is the easiest way out for them, not requiring them to take responsibility for taking into account and analyzing all the facts and evidence generated by the teaching of teachers within their administrative units. They also use these ranks to defend themselves from faculty who might complain about a merit raise based on teaching. The administrator can point to the numerical rank and tell the faculty member his or her raise relative to the raises of other faculty was proportionate to the teaching rank of the faculty member relative to other faculty members.

Student evaluations are necessary in colleges and universities to provide evidence showing what all students thought about the teaching of teachers, to prevent teachers being at the mercy of random student hearsay conveyed to administrators personally in hallways and offices, but they should not be used to develop ranks obviating the need for rational analysis of all the facts and evidence generated by the teaching of a teacher, or the learning of his or her students. Summary ranking in some cases may be helpful if the summary ranks are created in an appropriate way, but even this ranking should be but one part of the overall analysis of the teaching of a teacher.

Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations

For more information on how to create appropriate ranks for teaching evaluations, see my article “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations: A Study of Correlations Between Instructor Excellence, Study Production, Learning Production, and Expected Grades” (Stapleton & Murkison, 2001), published as a lead article by the Journal of Management Education. Summaries of this article have been posted on the Internet by professors concerned about student evaluations internationally. You can probably still find my Optimizing Fairness article on the Internet by typing my name into a search engine. On the other hand, you can secure an electronic copy of “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations” from the Internet by typing Journal of Management Education into a search engine.

My article “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations” has by now January 23, 2010 been cited as a reference by university researchers in 32 published journal articles concerned with the problem of student evaluations, according to a Google Internet search. Various professors around the world on their personal web sites have posted the article, and several centers and Sage Publications, the publisher of the Journal of Management Education, have included the article in anthologies of important articles dealing with educational issues and problems. To read from your computer these articles, anthologies, and a PDF copy of “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations” all you have to do is punch Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations into your Internet search engine and access the web sites that will appear on your screen. See especially “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations,” in Learning from Journal Articles: Strategies for Maximizing Student Learning by Larry C. Holt and Marcella Kysilka (www.sagepub.com/ holt/articles/index.htm).

If student evaluation ranks are used, ranks should be created for instructor excellence, study production, learning production, and relative expected grades, and all four of these ranks should be shared with faculty. If a summary rank is to be created for each teacher in the department, it should be a rank of the averages of ranks for instructor excellence, study production, learning production, and relative expected grades. I call this summary rank a Composite Indicator of Teaching Productivity (CITP) (Stapleton & Murkison, 2001). The most important letter in the CITP is the I (Indicator). The CITP, as relatively sophisticated as it is, is merely an indicator of teaching productivity. As with all summary ranks of teaching, the CITP should not be used to obviate the need for an overall analysis of all the facts and evidence generated by the teaching of teachers. Whoever is responsible for evaluating teaching should not be allowed to abdicate his or her responsibility for fairly evaluating and rewarding the teaching of a teacher relative to other teachers by irresponsibly and mindlessly adding up some numbers, deriving a simplistic rank, and then dividing up the strokes and the merit raise money for teaching accordingly.

I did not reprint “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations” in Business Voyages because of the length of the article, 33 pages, and because it contains some tables and graphs that would have been difficult to reproduce in the Business Voyages format. Basically the article contains correlations between 14 variables (representing14 questions on the student evaluation questionnaire) in pairs of two using data aggregated by the department of management as a whole, 29 faculty members and 1,251 student evaluation forms, creating a 14 row by 14 column matrix, and 4 correlations using data aggregated by specific faculty members. The 4 correlations aggregating data by specific faculty members, including all 29 members and all 1,251 forms, are between Instructor Excellence and Study Production, Instructor Excellence and Learning Production, Instructor Excellence and Relative Expected Grades, and Study Production and Learning Production. The SPSS statistical package was used to compute the matrix containing 14 rows and 14 columns showing the correlations between all 14 variables using both means and medians, and Pearson correlation coefficients using means and Spearman correlation coefficients using ranks were computed between the four pairs of variables mentioned above. Scatter diagram graphs are used to show visually the correlations of the four pairs of variables for both the Spearman and Pearson correlations. There were no statistical differences between the correlations of the means and medians in the SPSS matrix, so medians were discarded.

The data and analysis show that making assertions, generalizations, or propositions about student evaluations is not a simple matter. The data and analysis of Optimizing Fairness show that results vary not only by the way statisticians aggregate the data of student evaluations, that is, whether as a department or university as a whole or by specific faculty members, but also by what they use as data for the correlations, that is, means or ranks. If you lump all student evaluation questionnaires into the computer by department, school, university, or whatever, correlations between study production and instructor excellence are nonsignificantly positive (.09, p = ns, in our case), indicating the teachers rated highest as instructors may require as much homework as teachers rated poorest as instructors. On the other hand, if you tell your computer to lump the student evaluations of each faculty member together, as I did, and then compute a correlation between instructor excellence and study production between faculty members using ranks, the resulting correlation is negative (-.2793, p < .07), indicating those instructors requiring the most homework were generally rated poorest as instructors and those instructors requiring the least homework were generally rated highest as instructors. What this boils down to is that if researchers aggregate data by whole administrative units the computer treats the data as if students were taught in one huge class by one teacher, washing out the differences among instructor excellence scores and study production levels among different teachers, hiding the differences between the hard and the easy teachers.

On the other hand, the correlation between instructor excellence and relative expected grades was negative regardless of how correlations were computed, although the negative correlations using data aggregated by specific faculty members were much higher than the correlation using data aggregated by the department as a whole. The correlations between instructor excellence and relative expected grades using data aggregated by specific faculty members were -.56, p = .00 using means and -.61, p = .00 using ranks, whereas the correlation from the SPSS matrix compiled from data aggregated by the department as a whole using means was -.26, p < .10.

Here is the conclusion of the article:

“Because a positive linear relationship between study production and learning production ranks does not exist in this study, (see Table 5) and because there is a negative relationship between study production and instructor excellence ranks (see Table 2), it is possible for some percentage of faculty members to lower homework requirements and grading standards to increase expected grades production (see Table 4) and to increase their instructor excellence scores and learning production scores (see Table 3) on some student evaluations; and conversely, it is possible for some percentage of faculty members to lower their instructor excellence scores on some student evaluations by increasing homework requirements, raising grading standards, and lowering expected grades” (Stapleton & Murkison, 2001, pp. 289-290).

The article is titled “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations” because there is no way you can devise a system that will please all teachers in a school. If you only rank Instructor Excellence you will discriminate against challenging teachers. If you rank only Learning Production you will discriminate against teachers who score high on Instructor Excellence but low on Study Production and Learning Production. Since a CITP weights equally ranks for Instructor Excellence, Study Production, Learning Production, and Relative Expected Grades, it tends to create the greatest possible satisfaction for the greatest number of faculty members, an optimum solution providing a modicum of fairness for all players. This is the best you can hope for, since there apparently is no perfect solution.

This CITP solution is better than inanely ranking only Instructor Excellence, as was done in the business school at Georgia Southern by many administrators for many years, and as has been done, and is still being done, by thousands of administrators in schools worldwide. I think I have about taught administrators in the business school at Georgia Southern at least that you should not do this. On the other hand, Georgia Southern still refuses to put a relative expected grades question on the student evaluation form used campus-wide, including the business school. In 2000 I convinced Georgia Southern they should put study production and learning production questions on the campus-wide form, but instead of following my instructions to use a relative expected grades question asking students if they expected a grade in the course higher or lower than they normally expect in courses given how much they worked and studied in the course, Georgia Southern decided to simply ask students what absolute grade (that is whether A, B, C, etc.) they expected in the course, which diminishes the effectiveness of the CITP process, biasing the game in favor of the less challenging teachers in a clearly sub-optimum way. Asking students whether they expect an A, B, C, D, or F proves very little, since many students expect A’s and B’s, no matter what, otherwise they will lambast the teacher on the student evaluation. Some students expect B’s even if they have 60 averages at the time they fill out their teacher evaluation forms even in courses taught by challenging teachers, since they expect the teacher to cave in and use a curve if necessary to produce a B for a final grade. Many students have been taught to expect this teacher behavior in high schools and in other college and university courses. A’s and B’s, after all, are necessary to get and keep a Hope Scholarship in Georgia. Yet, even if students expect high grades from challenging teachers, and even if there are small differences in means generated from numbers for absolute expected grades, if you rank the mean scores, in most cases the ranks will show much of the real difference between challenging and pandering teachers, which is another reason ranks and not means should be averaged for the summary ranking.

My research findings regarding the significant and pernicious effects of relative expected grades at Georgia Southern substantiate and generally replicate earlier research and findings of Greenwald and Gillmore (1997a, 1997b) regarding the significance and effects of relative expected grades at the University of Washington.

For an example of a relative expected grade question and how it can be used please skip ahead to page 516 in Business Voyages and see how one was actually used as reported in my Transactional Analysis Journal article “Teaching Business Using the Case Method and Transactional Analysis: A Constructivist Approach” (Stapleton & Stapleton, 1998).

A Relative Expected Grade Question

The relative expected grade variable is the most significant determinant of the overall teacher evaluation by students.  Here is an example of a relative expected grade question that should be on all student evaluation forms to optimize fairness:  

Given my efforts in this course, the grade I expect to receive may not be the same I think I deserve. It will be
1 = much lower
2 = lower
3 = the same
4 = higher
5 = much higher.

(I added the immediately above paragraph and question to this case August 15, 2016 as an afterthought.  The question is an exact copy of the relative expected grades question we used on the student evaluation form used for our Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations study and article).

An exhaustive and thorough research study dealing with problems of student evaluations was recently published by Judith D. Fischer (2004) an associate professor in the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville in Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute titled “The Use and Effects of Student Ratings in Legal Writing Courses: A Plea for Holistic Evaluation in Teaching,” that included some of my research and the research of Greenwald & Gillmore, as well as many other studies. Here is what Fischer had to say about my research in “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations”:

“A recent study by Stapleton and Murkison (2001) dramatically showed the limits of the term “valid” as applied in student ratings. Their study showed a positive correlation between student ratings and student-reported learning. But theirs was perhaps the only study to break down and report data by professor. Broken down that way, the data revealed that some instructors confounded the general trend: of the twenty-nine instructors studied, four who produced learning in the top half received ratings in the bottom half, while four who produced learning in the bottom half received ratings in the top half. Had personnel decisions been made on the basis of these data, with a cutoff at the median, four of the more effective professors would have been punished or dismissed, while four of the less effective ones would have been rewarded. This study highlights an important point about statistical data: an overall correlation between two variables does not mean that one variable is always correlated with the other in particular instances.

“Stapleton and Murkison did not attempt to explain why eight professors confounded the general pattern. But studies have demonstrated that a number of factors other than teaching effectiveness influence ratings” (Fischer, 2004, pp. 123-124).

Professor Fischer then goes on to discuss in her article some of the major factors affecting student ratings, citing the work of Greenwald and Gillmore (1997a, 1997b) regarding the importance of relative expected grades and the findings of several other studies. Apparently law schools have many of the same problems as business schools using student evaluations and there are also pressures in law schools for professors to spoon-feed right answers to make it easy for students to make high grades on tests. Apparently grading the thinking, reasoning, and relative comprehension of students on written exams, class participation, and papers in law schools is fraught with hazards. Given the importance of law students graduating with a high overall academic ranking relative to their peers for professional purposes, law school professors may have to worry even more than other kinds of professors about vengeful students retaliating on student evaluations.

Entertaining teaching by cheerful and attractive teachers may attract fun-loving students and build up enrollments, but such teaching may not produce significant learning. Significant learning is generally produced by people being exposed to perturbing experiences that convince them their current scripts and schemata are obsolete and that new or better ones are necessary for dealing with environmental threats. Rather than produce happy-meal experiences in class, some effective teachers produce perturbing experiences that motivate students to learn in significant ways. Needless to say, this will not produce a high student evaluation rank given the averaging process most such ranks entail. A CITP averaging process, however, improves the summary ranks of challenging teachers because it weights equally instructor excellence (pleasing most students), study production (displeasing many students), learning production, and relative expected grades (displeasing many students). The CITP gives challenging teachers credit for displeasing some students, which was necessary to produce perturbing experiences necessary to produce significant learning.

Hundreds of articles have been published in professional journals, magazines, and newspapers in the last 50 years dealing with problems created by students evaluating teachers in colleges and universities, yet to this day student evaluations continue to create frustrations and injustices that bedevil many teachers. It’s possible most teaching evaluation systems will always be based on academic alchemy and serious teachers will have little choice but to put up with the make- believe realities of teacher evaluation systems. Although professors in colleges and universities may attain tenure and academic freedom, they are never free from being subjected to yearly teaching evaluations conducted by students and supposed superiors in administrative positions. Going through the yearly teaching evaluation process in colleges and universities is like being a defendant in court every year, with students serving as the jury and an administrator serving as the judge.

The process has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand it creates pressure and stress because no one wants to be labeled a bad teacher and student evaluations can have significant consequences, low raises for those with tenure, and even higher stakes for those without tenure, not getting tenure, and possibly no promotion to associate or full professor for those with tenure. On the other hand, student evaluations create goals for professors which if achieved result in satisfaction and a feeling that one has accomplished something worthwhile. Successful teaching is causing students to learn new skills, knowledge, and dispositions; but securing a high student evaluation score entails creating a strategy that requires no or some or much homework, no or some or much research and writing, essay or quantitative or multiple-choice or true-false exams, no or some or much graded class participation. Creating and implementing this strategy entails uncomfortable and stressful moral and ethical choices and tradeoffs.

The Morality of Grading

There is evidence grade inflation is rampant, not only in public schools, but in colleges and universities, including teachers at top tier universities such as Harvard as well as those at Podunk State (Fischer, 2004; Greenwald & Gillmore, 1997a, 1997b; Healy, 2001; Johnson, 2002; Stapleton & Murkison, 2001; Stapleton & Stapleton, 2003b; The Economist, 2001, 2002). What’s wrong with grade inflation you might ask? It’s wrong because it’s immoral. Telling falsehoods is immoral (Baier, 1958); inflating grades is telling falsehoods; therefore inflating grades is immoral.

Students in most classes are not equal achievers. If you calibrate (dumb down if you will) your questions and course requirements in such a way and to such a degree that the poorest achievers in all or most of your classes make A’s and B’s you are telling the falsehood that your poor students are really good or excellent. To fairly grade you should give each student what she or he deserves based on achievement relative to his or her peers. What is a peer in this context is debatable but in general it is any student subject to doing and learning what you teach. If you give the same grade to excellent and poor achievers in your class you are being unfair to your excellent achievers by depriving them of recognition for their achievements. If you lower your standards in such a way as to make it impossible for your better students to achieve at an excellent level relative to your poorer students you are depriving your better students of the opportunity to achieve at an excellent level, which is unfair because you are depriving your better students of recognition they could have earned.

If you eliminate these opportunities for your better students you will probably decrease the incentives and motivation to learn of all students in your classes, including your poorer students, since they will not be stimulated to exert themselves attempting to stay up with the better students. If it is your purpose not to grade students at all that is one thing, but if your system says you are supposed to grade students as excellent, good, average, poor, and failing, if you lower your standards in such a way that poor students can answer all or most of the questions right or do everything you say they are supposed to do in what you define as an excellent or a good way and all students make A’s or B’s you in effect are not grading students as your system says you are supposed to grade, which is also immoral, assuming your system is moral and honestly wants you to grade students as excellent, good, average, poor, and failing.

But what if all students actually learn 80 percent or more of the content of the subject you are teaching in your course, shouldn’t all students in the course receive A’s and B’s? Yes they should if that really is the case. On the other hand it seems to me in the vast majority of cases it is ridiculous to say students learn 80 percent or more of everything there is to learn about the subject being taught in a course. The content of courses is almost always a sample of the total content of the subject; and if you make your sample unduly small and spoon-feed students everything they need to know for tests you are engaging in a form of immorality as outlined above.

In my opinion the moral way to do it is to set your standards high enough that they truly challenge your excellent students and grade the achievements of all your students relative to the achievements of your excellent students, ascertaining whether your students achieve at good, average, poor, or failing levels relative to your excellent students, and let the chips fall where they may. What do you think would happen if football and basketball coaches were to say all their players were good and excellent and tried to let all of them play on the first string?

You can honestly build a case that grading people is immoral period because it stigmatizes and all people should be accepted unconditionally; and you can honestly argue that grading in schools, colleges, and universities should be abolished, or that schools, colleges, and universities should be abolished. Given the way things are, however, I can also honestly argue that if someone does not want to be fairly and honestly graded then he or she should not enroll in mainstream courses in schools, colleges, and universities.

In the case of grading in schools, colleges, and universities you can argue that inflating grades is moral because it helps the worst off and it might cause the greatest good for the greatest number. But it seems to me after all is thought and said, in an educational environment, truthfulness as a moral criterion should trump all others (for sure no pun intended these days, circa July 16, 2016).

Why is morality important you might ask? In my book morality is essential for the functioning of a decent, productive, and satisfying culture—which a good teacher can create in a classroom in some countries. The more teachers there are creating good cultures in classrooms in as many countries as possible the greater the chance decent, productive, and satisfying cultures shall some day exist among all people aboard Spaceship Earth.

A Question of Free Will

Whether free will exists is a relevant question. If it exists humans can learn to be autonomous as TA people espouse, and humans can use their Adult ego states to read and observe facts, phenomena, processes, books, articles, and other intellectual and artistic creations and create and choose profitable and ethical things to feel, think, and do regardless of script messages, rackets, and Games passed down from ancestors that are introjected into and stored in Parent and Child ego states in brain cells and sub-conscious minds (Allen, 2003; Barnes, 1994; Clarke, 1999; Erskine & Moursund, 1988; James, 1974; McCulloch, 1988; Osnes & Gesme, 2000; Popper & Eccles, 1977; Steiner, 2003).

On the other hand, we humans may be like dominoes falling in cause-effect chains. A Princeton professor A. L. Goldman in his book A Theory of Human Action (1970) proposed and presented sound analysis and reasoning for the proposition that every effect has a cause, even effects such as human feelings, thoughts and wants and therefore human action is deterministic. It seems to me this is plausible even if humans never develop the capability to detect and track the exact cause- effect sequences leading up to specific human actions. It seems plausible to me that human actions that appear to be spontaneous, random, or accidental were actually caused, deterministic, and inevitable. If this is true in general let us pray humanity is being caused to evolve structures and processes that will result in survival and satisfaction.

According to Ron Powers in his new biography Mark Twain: A Life (2006), Mark Twain thought humans were machines doing what was inevitable with their lives. I have no idea what sort of reasoning Mark Twain might have used to reach this conclusion but most likely the conclusion was based on his observation of humans in real life. No doubt Mark Twain had greater powers of visual and auditory recall than most people or he could not have written the stories and books he wrote and he probably accurately saw and heard people talking and acting in programmed ways. Most psychiatric theories of human behavior were also based on similar observation of people, except in this case most of the observations took place in counseling sessions in offices and clinics. Most transactional analysis theories were developed based on observing human behavior and hearing about human behavior in clinical sessions. Albert Einstein was a strong believer in determinism and strict cause-effect relationships making things happen in the physical universe, including people.

Eric Berne the founder of transactional analysis wondered if he was like a player piano producing music written by his parents. If so he wrote it was probably better music than he could have written himself (Berne, 1970). He also thought only trivial decisions are generally made in the here and now using facts and reason, and that major decisions are generally a function of scripts co-constructed through time in the minds of decision-makers to enhance what are considered to be their best interests.

Some Greek Stoic philosophers and later philosophers such as David Hume believed it was possible for determinism and free will to simultaneously exist since although people might be caused to feel, think, and do what they feel, think, and do by external events, in most cases they are not forced to choose what they choose by an external force such as a more powerful person, and therefore their choices can be free. This view that it is possible for determinism and free will to simultaneously exist is known as compatibilism (wikipedia.org/compatibilism).

Strict determinists, on the other hand, argue that people are not free to make arbitrary choices because they must choose what they choose because of decision rules and criteria previously recorded in their brains. In other words, given the internalized rules and decision criteria people have come to learn and believe because of past experience, individuals have no choice but to choose what they choose when confronted with facts, objects, and decisions in external reality, and therefore their choices are not free.

The case can be made that people are analogous to computers and can only do what they have been programmed to do. In such a case the good news is that old programs can theoretically be changed and new programs can be read in; the bad news is that dysfunctional and deleterious programs in people most of the time are difficult to reprogram or replace. Since most people have been programmed to compete, many will fight to prove their existing programs are superior no matter what. For progress to occur powerful programmers must be caused to learn good programs that enable them to cause people with deleterious programs to learn good programs who then pass on their new good programs to others, and so on, in salutary never-ending cause-effect chains. Something causing schools, colleges, and universities to be populated with good programmers programmed with good programs is vital for such a process.

The most knowledgeable and intelligent physicist does not know with certainty what caused the Big Bang, assuming a Big Bang occurred some 10 billion years ago creating this universe as many scientists think. No one knows with certainty whether there is an infinite regress of causes, behind the Big Bang, or whether there is a non-caused cause, i.e. an infinitely intelligent free will, existing eternally that caused all phenomena in space starting from nothing. No one knows with certainty whether there have been any number of Big Bangs creating any number of universes in an infinity of time and space.

It’s possible we humans are not presently equipped to prove what is the root cause of life, although some scientists have come close (Kauffman, 1993; Weiner, 1995). A tough relevant test question is: How could a reproductive life form spring forth from rocks, chemicals, gases, liquids, and electromagnetic forces in a primordial soup billions of years ago on Earth? Was life transported to Earth via asteroids?

According to Buckminster Fuller, Albert Einstein, and other top scientists (Fuller, 1969, p. 62), the purpose of science is to “honestly attempt to set in order ‘facts of experience’.” Based on this definition I think most case method teachers and transactional analysts have been scientists.

I retired after 38 years of business teaching in May 2005, 29 years of which involved the use of transactional analysis. I received a high annual stroke income (McKenna, 1974) from students throughout my career for which I am grateful. Because of this it’s possible my spinal column has shriveled relatively little compared to most people my age, 64. I think learning about transactional analysis in the 1970s caused my teaching career to be more productive and satisfying than it otherwise would have been, and I trust my teaching transactional analysis will help my former students navigate satisfactory business voyages. Many have told me they thought it did up to some point in time (Stapleton, 2003). I have taught some 3,500 students in university business classrooms all of whom were OK.

These issues are discussed in all my books offered for sale on this website on the Effective Learning Publications page.  Business Voyages covers the CITP in more detail than Born to Learn or Recommendations for Waking Up From the America Nightmare.  On the other hand, Born to Learn provides a more comprehensive coverage of transactional analysis (TA) concepts and techniques, showing how they apply to such specifics as teaching methods, classroom layouts, testing and grading methods, student motivation, classroom management, and learning contracts.   

On the other hand you can find print copies of Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations in the Journal of Management Education in any good academic library, but few readers will take the time to look the article up.  The article is thirty-three pages long and contains numerous exhibits, charts, graphs, diagrams and the like substantiating the findings.  The article provides hard evidence, proof some say, that teachers can in some cases increase their student evaluation scores and their merit raises by lowering the requirements and grading standards of their courses, by dumbing them down and teaching to easy tests.  Using the CITP, a Composite Indicator of Teaching Productivity, as described above, in the department or school will eliminate this possibility and optimize fairness for all teachers in the department or school.  Most teachers are just like most people in any vocation or profession.  They like to be recognized for doing a good job and want to be fairly rewarded based on their relative productivity and contributions.  The CITP will insure this happens.


Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations:  A Study of Correlations Between Instructor Excellence, Study Production, Learning Production, and Expected Grades,” by Stapleton and Murkison was published in the Journal of Management Education in 2001 by the Organizational Behavior Teaching Society. The article has by now (December 4, 2021) been cited in 83 refereed professional journal articles in several academic disciplines, with eight new citations since April, 2021, proving the article is still being read and used by serious researchers,educators, and administrators as a guide for evaluating teaching productivity. 

Read a free PDF copy of “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations” by clicking on this web address, http://www.sagepub.com/holt/articles/Stapleton.pdf

Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations” is thirty-three pages long and contains numerous exhibits, charts, graphs, diagrams, statistical significance tests, correlation coefficients, and the like substantiating the findings.  The article provides hard evidence that teachers can in some cases increase their student evaluation scores and their merit raises by lowering standards and teaching to easy tests. 

Using a Composite Indicator of Teaching Productivity, as developed and recommended in “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations” can help optimize fairness for teachers in schools and universities. Most teachers like to be recognized for doing a good job and want to be fairly rewarded based on their relative teaching productivity. A CITP can help make this happen. 

ELR Editor’s Genealogical Scripting

This picture was taken in 2005. In the interests of full disclosure here’s a video created by the Statesboro Herald  showing what I look like now (February 19, 2020) in context with the members of the Southeast Georgia Scottish Heritage Society carrying in the haggis at our 17th annual Robert Burns Supper at the Forrest Heights Country Club (https://statesboroherald.cdn-anvilcms.net/media/media/2020/02/15/media-6478/ren-6682/1351620000001-100020/SHR_21420.mp4Ann).

I start off this family scripting article with a bit of transactional analysis theory explaining how I view the process of family formation and functioning, having become a certified transactional analyst. If it bores you skip down about ten paragraphs to get into the meat of the what, when, and where’s of my family history that actually happened. If the TA theory interests you read my book Born to Learn: A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning  that is described in the Effective Learning Publications page posted on the masthead of this blog at the top of this page.

My father’s name is Richard Gathright Maury Stapleton and my mother’s name is Ida Belle Coston Stapleton. My grandparents’ birthright names are Sidney Clay Stapleton, Katharine Gathright Maury, Elbert Harry Coston, and Darlie Brown Walker.

Frank Parker, a Statesboro, Georgia hobby genealogist, located all my great grandparents, however many times removed from me in every generation, including basic data for each one such as name, date and location of birth and death, marriages, and offspring in North America, also including anecdotal information about the quality of life some of them had, filling three thick click-open three-ring notebooks filled with copied information on letter sized paper, back to before the American Revolution in 1776 in unbroken family lines starting with all four of my grandparents. Not all of my great grandparents are mentioned in this article, just some seeming to have had unusual interesting lives. Frank said my great grandparents of every generation were easy to find, the easiest search of this type he had conducted with his computerized genealogical system.

Ego states are states of being including thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, feelings, gestures, body language, and other signals determining how people come across with others in communication episodes, whether parent-like, adult-like, or child-like, in all kinds of situations.  People switch ego states depending on who they are communicating with and what sort of circumstances they are in, whether they are parenting, working, socializing, teaching, having fun, playing Games, or whatever.  They transmit messages from three ego states in themselves to three ego states in others in pair vectors, Parent-Parent, Adult-Adult, Child-Child, Parent-Child, Child-Adult, Adult-Parent, or whatever possibility.  These transactions are especially meaningful in situations in which there is some sort of authoritarian system involved, such as parents parenting children in homes, teachers teaching students in schools, or bosses bossing subordinates in a business or political organization, which normally entail primarily Parent-Child transactions. In general however the more Adult-Adult transactions there are the better things go in families, schools, businesses, and political organizations. 

Script messages are transmitted socially and psychologically as I have shown and explained with diagrams in my books. Unfortunately I have not shown one of these diagrams in this blog, having not taken the time to get jpeg pictures of them made to get them posted to my computer desktop to download into this WordPress program. If you want to see what a transactional analysis script diagram looks like right now scroll to the top of this page and click on ELR Editor’s Daily Shares. You can see a picture of a TA script diagram in the assemblage of pictures on the left of the page that will pop up, having been accepted by my Facebook program in a non-jpeg format.

A TA life script diagram shows the three stacked Parent, Adult, and Child ego state circles representing parent, adult, and child ego states for each parent and child. The solid lines in the diagram denote overt spoken social messages and dotted lines denote covert psychological unspoken ulterior messages.  Social messages are verbalized overt auditory messages; psychological messages are covert non-spoken ulterior messages transmitted by body language, emotional states, and after the fact positive or negative stroking as people react to situations and feel and do things.

Scripts in families are created automatically when parents transmit various messages to their children from various ego states socially and psychologically, in and out of awareness.  Scripts are life plans generally decided before the age of eight by offspring based on script messages transmitted to them by their parents and others.  Since parents by and large transmit the same script messages that were transmitted to them before they were eight years old script messages in families can remain intact for many generations.  According to transactional analysts script decisions made before the age of eight have lasting effects determining three general life outcomes:  winner, loser, and non-winner.  These decisions can be redecided and updated later in life but it’s not easy for most people. 

Psychological Child-Child ego state script injunctions are what cause the most trouble for people in their lives.  Script injunctions forbid appropriate behavior in the here and now. Script injunctions are caused by emotional and behavioral requirements created by families through time as they adapted to and coped with problems and environmental forces that may have been appropriate in past environments, but which are inappropriate in here and now more benign and hospitable environments. 

Opposing script messages transmitted by parents can put a child in a Not-OK bind in childhood and throughout adolescence, assuming a divorce has not already occurred, causing considerable trouble within a family, since the child cannot please both parents in the presence of both parents, which can put parents in worse Not-OK positions if the child makes a decision about which parent is right, increasing Not-OKness in the family system as a whole.  

What many people need is psychological permission to violate and ignore their psychological outdated obsolete family Child ego state script message Injunctions, not only to increase their own OKness but the OKness of all living members of the family system, and the OKness of Earthian humans in general, for that matter.

Two common family script Injunctions in most cultures are Don’t Think about the true nature and causes of states of affairs and Don’t Feel certain feelings, such as glad, mad, sad, or scared, when certain things happen in certain environments.

I became a certified transactional analyst in education and organizations, a CTA, after passing written, oral, and experiential comprehensive exams administered by the International Transactional Analysis Association in 1978, after undergoing three years of once-a-month training, all day Saturday and half of Sunday, at the Southeast Institute at Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

I have covered ego states and scripts in my books Business Voyages  and Born to Learn: A Transactional Analysis of Human Learninglisting common Parent ego state script messages and Child ego state injunctions.  All parents do not transmit the same script messages creating considerable variety among family scripts and outcomes.  Certain life scripts conveniently fit certain roles, jobs, professions, careers, and what have you more than others, providing fresh recruits already scripted for job openings, slots, roles, and positions in an economy, which is fine so long as the economy does not change very much.  Unfortunately in recent years in the United States the offshoring of high wage blue collar jobs to foreign low wage countries and the use of more and more automation has rendered many family scripts obsolete. 

Here are some parent and child script messages that were passed down to me by my parents, which were passed down to them from their ancestors.

Father overt Parent ego state social script messages:  Work hard and long; think; know the details; don’t make mistakes; be successful; be productive; Don’t work for anyone but yourself.

Father covert Child ego state psychological script injunctions:  Don’t be a child; Don’t Belong; Don’t be Close; Don’t feel glad or sad; Don’t be sexually promiscuous; Don’t waste time on sports and hobbies; Don’t make good grades in school.

Mother overt Parent ego state social script messages:  Obey the law; know what you’re doing; be good in competitive sports; understand things; pay your bills on time; make money.

Mother covert Child ego state psychological script injunctions:  Don’t be spontaneous or wild; Don’t be happy; Don’t be imperfect; Don’t belong; Don’t feel glad; Don’t act silly; Don’t associate with riffraff; Don’t be sexually promiscuous; Don’t waste time on trivia.      

My brother James Clay Stapleton and I have been generally successful, having been exposed to and ruled by the above script messages, him becoming a multi-millionaire entrepreneur and me becoming a tenured full professor and published author; but both he and I have suffered more from depression and psychological frustrations than most people.  There are no free lunches it seems, and there are advantages and disadvantages to almost everything, including script messages.  The major advantage to knowing about and understanding transactional analysis is that it gives you more Adult ego state knowledge of what caused the Parent and Child ego states and script messages you introjected before you were eight years old that cause you to psychologically function in organizations as they do, giving you more social control over them, enabling you to be more successful than you otherwise would have been, not only making a living, but living harmoniously with others, to live a satisfying life.  

Following are descriptions of some interesting ancestors whose lives in North America were determined by script messages that were probably similar to script messages that percolated up to me on my shoot of my branch of the family tree, contributing to the creation of the family story I present herein.

A great-grandfather many times removed, The Reverend Doctor James Maury, a French Huguenot, taught four American presidents, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, in a boarding school in Virginia.

A distant cousin, Matthew Fontaine Maury, a West Point graduate, a commodore in the Civil War, fighting for the South, published a book still in print, Physical Geography of the Sea.  He was a founder of Virginia Tech, retiring as a professor of physics at Virginia Military Institute, included in a Hall of Fame of great Americans in New York, among other honors, including recognition from kings in other countries for his scientific achievements.

Another distant cousin Dabney Herndon Maury, also a West Point graduate, a general in the Civil War fighting for the South, published a widely circulated book titled, Recollections of a Southerner in the Mexican, Indian, and Civil Wars.

A 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. Having a liberal arts academic background amid faculty and funding turmoil he was fired as president of Texas A & M after a few years and replaced by a Southern civil war hero with a more agricultural and mechanical academic background.

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, Texas 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 grave site 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. A bachelor, he died mysteriously at age 34 driving his automobile alone when it collided with a cow on a highway, according to a newspaper article, or when he drove his new automobile off a bridge, according to a story someone in the family told.

Richard Gathright Maury’s father, my great great grandfather, Matthew Henry Maury, attended the University of Mississippi two years and was later killed by an African-American on a plantation in Mississippi, probably a freed slave, or the son of one, possibly in a rebellion or uprising of some sort according to an anecdote someone wrote in handwriting years ago on one of Frank Parker’s copied genealogical record sheets. According to my father he was killed by an African-American farm worker because he somehow insulted the worker’s wife.

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 African-Americans, freed slaves apparently, managed by her mother-in-law, Mattie Elizabeth Allen Coston, born on a ranch in Texas in 1854, shortly after 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 six 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.

I lived with Moma and Snazzy, my maternal grandparents, for two years while I took my doctorate at Texas Tech University. Snazzy had a personal library he had collected through the years containing a thousand or more books on various subjects.  I named him myself when I was about three years old, Snazzy being the name of a radio character I had listened to.  He was called Snazzy by almost everyone the rest of his life.

Snazzy took a few courses at East Texas State College before he became an ordained Methodist minister, becoming a minister according to my hard-working father so he wouldn’t ever have to work at all. One of his brothers graduated from the University of Texas and became a county school superintendent. Another brother graduated from East Texas State College and became a lawyer. His youngest brother, who wanted to farm, inherited the whole farm, near Enloe, Texas, thanks to his five older brothers disclaiming their inherited shares of the family farm to him. According to my mother Snazzy was “the doctor” at the Coston farm. He would “see about” the African-American workers who did the work on the farm when they got sick. He had a Coston uncle who was a real medical doctor with whom he would consult about serious cases.

My mother Ida Belle Coston Stapleton took a few business courses at a Draughn’s Business College 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, born in 1913 at Jasper, Texas, in the Piney Woods of East Texas, where his father managed a sawmill, took some courses in agronomy at Texas Tech before he dropped out to become a successful entrepreneur, farming and ranching, building houses, starting and owning a lumber yard and hardware store for twelve years, installing and servicing two hundred miles of natural gas pipeline, installing and servicing irrigation pumps, starting a bank, in and around Wolfforth, Texas, having never taken a business course or read a 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 it.  He told me he was glad his father taught him a trade (carpentry) and he liked to work with his hands. He sold his lumber yard and other holdings on the South Plains of Texas in 1963 at age 51 and bought himself a 1,000 acre ranch near Eastland, Texas, in Central Texas, spending the rest of his life farming and ranching. His cattle brand was the Spear X, the same brand his father had used on his 10,000 acre cattle ranch near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico before he sold out and moved to Northwest Texas when my father was in junior high school, spending the rest of his life as a carpenter and contractor in Northwest Texas and Oklahoma, spending several years at Muscogee, Oklahoma. He had a brother who was a Chevrolet dealer in Lone Wolf, Oklahoma. My father graduated from high school at Carnegie, Oklahoma at age twenty, after dropping out of high school for two years to work to help support his family during the Great Depression. My father said he changed high schools five times. He said his father’s favorite saying was, “A rolling stone gathers no moss.”

My father did however assiduously read the local newspaper, farm magazines, and the US News & World Report. He put me to work building houses when I was eight years old.  I had no desire to work with my hands and took no satisfaction doing carpenter work.  I fell asleep one time in the closet of a house he was building, which he  thought was a seriously disgraceful thing for a son twelve or so years old to do, making him look bad in the eyes of the adult carpenters working on the job.  He never forgot it. My brother told me about ten years ago he had seriously criticized me for it during recent visits he had had with him.

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 United States in 1954, at age thirteen, one hundred ten pounds, 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 made two A’s in high school, in plane geometry and physics, winning a gold medal in a regional science fair for a project in which I explained in a paper and demonstrated how to generate and measure electricity with magnets and Ohm’s law.  I also scored relatively high on aptitude tests administered by the county.

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 instructor position 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, while living with my Coston grandparents. I taught Eco 133, American Economic History, twelve times, two courses in the fall and spring semesters each academic year during 1966-69 at Texas Tech. I got pretty good at it by the end of my tenure there. A fellow doctoral student who knew someone in the dean’s office several years after we had graduated told me I had scored high on student evaluations as a professor but had never been recognized for it because I was just a graduate student.

The Office of Manpower Evaluation and Research of the US Department of Labor awarded me a $6500 grant to write my dissertation in 1968, An Analysis of Rural Manpower Migration Patterns in the South Plains Region of Texas, free download copies of which are still available online from Texas Tech University.

Frank Parker, the above-mentioned Statesboro real estate developer, investor, and hobby genealogist, traced all four of my grandparents back to Virginia before the American Revolutionary War, in which several ancestors fought. At least two of them, a Walker and a Maury, were mentioned as especially courageous Indian fighters in Virginia, sometimes spending weeks at a time horseback in the woods in all kinds of weather, not living long. Descendants of my Virginia ancestors, many of whom became cotton farmers, spread out from Virginia migrating into South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and New Mexico.

One of my great grandparents many times removed Ludovic Stapleton migrated from Virginia to Marlboro County, South Carolina from which his son Stephen Stapleton migrated into what is now Long County, Georgia in the early 1800s, about 75 miles from where I live now, surrounded by cotton fields six miles south of Statesboro, Georgia.

Stephen Stapleton’s descendants later embarked on my Stapleton family intermittent westward trek (and back east in my case) up to now some 200 years later, establishing cotton farms in five states in the process. The first wave of runaways or castaways found cheap land in Florida, near the Alabama line, with excess descendants migrating farther west in search of new cheap land freshly stolen from Indians every generation or two thereafter, after descendant numbers in the immediate family grew too large for the established family farm in that state to support, to Alabama to Mississippi to Texas to New Mexico and back to Northwest Texas where I grew up, starting off in life living on my parents’ cotton farm near Wofforth, Texas, ten miles southwest of Lubbock.

My almost-cousin Dave Thompson and I pulled bolls in our uncle Duck Thompson’s cotton field five miles west of Wolfforth with African-American field hands one day when we were about five years old in 1945, learning what hard work was like on a cotton farm at a young age, however little of it we did that day, in my case learning how unfair life could be for some people, especially black people at that time. “Pulling ” bolls in some ways was easier than “picking” cotton, which required picking cotton out of the opened boll or husk on the stalk with your fingers, a much more tedious task that all “cotton pickers” in history in the Deep South had to do. To “pull” a boll all you had to do was run two of your fingers to each side of a stalk and pull up on the boll to separate it from the stalk, and then drop the whole thing in your cotton sack. I think Dave and I pulled about one hundred pounds apiece working four or five hours that day, both of us having our own custom-made scaled-down cotton sacks, made from feed sacks, about three feet long, paid as I recall $1.25 per one hundred pounds pulled, and weighed, the same as the other field hands. Some of the fastest, strongest, and most skillful of the 30 or so adults in the field could pull one thousand pounds of cotton bolls a day as I recall, dragging cotton sacks behind them in the cotton rows ten or more feet long that when full were weighed with a spring actuated scale hanging from a tripod about seven feet off the ground and recorded in a book by the name of each worker by someone who did nothing but weigh cotton and record the results. The weighed and recorded full cotton sacks, most weighing 100 pounds or more, were emptied in a cotton trailer which when filled was hauled off to a cotton gin, replaced in the field by another empty cotton trailer. Most seasoned boll pullers would fill, empty, and refill their cotton sacks six or more times a day, possibly from sunup to sundown, till the harvest season was over. Most of the cotton field hands working on farms around Wolfforth chopping cotton with hoes in the summer and pulling bolls in the fall lived in the nearby city of Lubbock in 1945, riding to and from the fields each day on the beds of large trucks. Herbicides and mechanical cotton strippers came along in Northwest Texas in about ten years eliminating the need for this labor.

I was working at a full time job in a Litton Industries electronics plant in Lubbock as a production control expediter and dispatcher and publishing my weekly newspaper the Wolfforth-Frenship Gazette when I took the Graduate Record Exam (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 when I woke up from those 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 after finishing my doctorate in 1970, skipping the assistant rank, at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now Louisiana University—Lafayette, after completing 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 in 1970, behind Jim Oliver, in biology, maybe third after Fielding Russell, in English, when I started at age thirty, hired by President Pope Duncan.

My son Jonathan Walker Stapleton was the Star Student for our Congressional District in Georgia in 1990, scoring 1520 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (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.

Jonathan is the inventor 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. Reptangles™ have been demonstrated and explained on national TV, on ABC’s Good Morning America.

According to Frank Parker’s data, one of my great great grandfathers William Anthony Stapleton, according to the 1850 US Census, was a farmer in Dale County, Alabama, owning twenty-one slaves.  According to a first cousin, Stephen Carter, also a hobby genealogist, this great great grandfather made several trips to England, for reasons unknown, apparently doing business of some sort during his adult life.  According to Frank, William Anthony Stapleton was relatively wealthy, since slaves at the time according to Frank were worth about $100,000 each in today’s money.  According to Stephen Carter, who had his Stapleton mother’s DNA line searched using Ancestry.com, the Stapletons and Maurys in our family tree were descended from English, Irish, Scottish, and French aristocracy.  Stephen said he was distantly related to President Jimmy Carter on his father’s side.

One Brian De Stapleton, an English baron, signed Magna Carta in 1215. I have no idea if my Stapleton ancestors were actually related to this guy but they could have been.

I had my own DNA tested at Ancestry.com.  According to the results, my genes are similar to the genes of humans now living aboard Spaceship Earth in the following places in the following percentages:  Europe, 98 percent; Western Asia, 2 percent, broken down as follows:  Scotland, England, and Wales, 45 percent; Ireland, 23 percent; Western Europe, 22 percent;  Scandinavia, 4 percent; the Mediterranean, 4 percent; and Western Asia, 2 percent.

Here is a passage from my book Business Voyages, a family business bible, first published in 2011, pages 47-50. Read all about it free at https://www.amazon.com/Business-Voyages-Schemata-Discovering-Co-Constructing/dp/1413480810.

“In October 2009 I told and showed my friend Frank Parker a genealogist here in Statesboro, Georgia I had recently found proof on the Internet my grandmother Katharine Gathright Maury was related to Matthew Fontaine Maury, that one of her Maury ancestors taught four American presidents in Virginia, and she was descended from French Huguenots and the Randolphs of Virginia, starting with a family tree furnished me about 1985 by Mary Stapleton, wife of my uncle Matthew Henry Stapleton, that traced our Stapleton/ Maury line back four generations to James Woodville Maury and William Anthony Stapleton in 1850, that I used with Horace Randoph’s Updated Database at www.randolpharchives.org that traced Katharine Gathright Maury back to Abraham Maury in Virginia in 1758 that traced Abraham Maury through the Randolph line back to 17th century England, that I used with Some Descendants of Jean de la Fontaine in Bob Juch’s Kin Including 61,000 People at www.juch.org that traced the Maury line from Abraham Maury back to James Fontaine born in Barnstaple, Devonshire, England in 1686 to Guy de la Fontaine, Lord of Seville, born in 1400 in France and to Jean de la Fontaine born in 1375 in France.

“Frank then offered to use his computerized genealogical system to check out people down my family tree. Among much else, he found my father Dick’s grandfather Matthew Henry Maury, age 25, in the 1880 US census living on a plantation in Kemper County, Mississippi with his wife Virginia John Gathright Maury, age 24, and five offspring including Dick’s mother Katharine, infant, and her brother Richard, age 3, in one household and Dick’s great grandfather James Woodville Maury, age 59, living in another unusual household including his wife, Rachel Harris Maury, age 53, and a servant Milby, age 31, and her five young children, all named Maury. Included in another household on the plantation was Sarah Maury, age 55, listed as a mother and farmer, presumably the mother of Milby. Listed in another household was Aaron Maury, age 45, listed as a farmer, presumably the husband of Milby. Dick’s Maury grandfather and his great grandfather and their wives and children were listed as white and the rest of the Maurys on the census page were listed as black.

“Frank also found in the 1850 US census before the Civil War that Dick’s great grandfather William Anthony Stapleton was a farmer in Dale County, Alabama, owning twenty-one slaves. This family history was kept secret from Dick or he kept it secret from me. I would never have known about it had it not been for the Internet and Frank Parker’s genealogical skills in 2009. The slave owning was something not to be proud of and perhaps it should have been kept secret. I sometimes thought as a child Dick was a slave driver; now I know where he got the proclivity. If you Google Richard John Stapleton on the Internet you can find several Stapleton barons, lords and sirs that lived in England and Ireland through the centuries after 1215 and our Stapleton line is likely descended from lesser sons of some of these families who migrated to America in search of their own lands and fortunes.

“Life on the American frontier for most of my ancestors as they fanned out from Virginia into South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Texas, New Mexico, or Oklahoma was far from easy, secure, squeaky clean or pleasant much of the time. Many of them did not live long, and they were beset with all manner of problems on their farms, plantations and ranches—economic recessions and depressions, diseases of all sorts, psychological problems, hail, drought, sandstorms, hoof and mouth disease, slavery, the Civil War and much else. Dick thought his grandfather Matthew Henry Maury was killed by an African-American farm worker on a Mississippi plantation after the Civil War because Matthew insulted or made some sort of sexual advance toward the worker’s wife and he thought his mother was afterwards reared by her Gathright grandmother. He also said his Maury ancestors were either great or crazy. While his grandfather may or may not have been killed for this reason, his mother was not reared by her Gathright grandmother, at least not completely, although Dick did know something about what he was talking about. According to the 1900 US Census, Dick’s grandmother formerly Virginia John Gathright Maury now listed as age 40 had remarried Thornton Walters born in Illinois and was living in Brazoria, Texas in a reconstituted family consisting of 10 children, six named Maury including Dick’s mother Katharine now age 21 and four children named Walters ranging in age from 9 to 23. According to the 1910 US Census Virginia John Gathright Maury Walters, widowed, now age 50 was back in Lauderdale County, Mississippi listed as a patient in some sort of hospital or nursing home that included 24 other patients, all unrelated females ranging in age from 18 to 66.

“On Ida’s side of the family her grandmother Mattie Elizabeth Allen Coston born in Texas about 1854 according to the 1870 US Census was living in a reconstituted family headed by John Doak married to Catharine Doak, presumably Mattie’s mother, including six children, four named Doak and two named Allen, Mattie and Robert. According to Ida at 90 years of age not many years ago at Willow Pond here in Statesboro, Georgia, Mattie “traveled all over” and had a good time at a ripe old age after her one and only Coston husband died of natural causes in East Texas.  For whatever it’s worth my mother was probably related to Doak Walker, the All-American football player at Southern Methodist University, not by blood though the Doak’s, but through her mother’s Walker line .  She saw to it I got the same jersey number in high school that Doak Walker had at SMU, number 37.

“While some of Ida’s ancestors were intelligent, relatively well educated and successful professionally none to my knowledge equaled the intellectual achievements of some of Dick’s Maury ancestors. Our Maury ancestor making the most significant contribution, one of my great grandfathers however many times removed, was probably the Reverend Doctor James Maury who taught four American presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe, all instrumental in creating the US Constitution. The Reverend Doctor Maury taught classics, manners and morals, mathematics, literature, history, and geography in what was considered the best boarding school in Albemarle County,Virginia, attended by Thomas Jefferson who lived with the Reverend Maury and his family two years as a child (Wikipedia.org).

“I heard rumors of this family history growing up as a child, but I had no factual knowledge of it.  In general in our family talking about ancestors was taboo.  It was as if my parents had no knowledge of anyone in their families back past their parents.  I always thought they had something to hide, which I suppose they did, slavery.  They seemed shamed by their family history, either ashamed of what their ancestors did, or ashamed their social positions in their societies were generally lower than the social positions their ancestors had in their societies, having been de-classed by the Civil War, with good riddance, in my opinion.”

An unanswered question is Ludowic Stapleton, father of Stephen Stapleton, who may have immigrated to the US from Ireland or England. Frank Parker’s computerized genealogical system does not do tracking in Europe, so I have no verifiable official data about how my Virginia ancestors got over here. Frank did find an interesting tidbit about one of my early Virginia Scottish great grandmothers, whose name was listed as Donnell on official papers. Frank’s anecdotal information however indicates she had changed her name from MacDonald to Donnell. One of my Georgia Scottish Heritage Society friends told me it was common for Scottish immigrants to Americanize their names hoping to escape clan competition and enmity in the new world. Frank found anecdotal data that one of my Scottish great grandfathers, a Watson, got to North America as a stowaway.

Some forty-five percent of the USian population now living in Southeast Georgia apparently have Scottish ancestry. This is probably also true to some degree throughout the South, including Northwest Texas. When I was about five years old I asked my mother what we were and she said, “Oh, I don’t know, Scotch-Irish I guess.”

For whatever it’s worth while my parents and I seriously discussed political issues at the dinner table during my high school and college years neither of my parents as I recall ever said anything about who they voted for. To my knowledge neither of them had any interest in Democratic or Republican party-line politics.

Most likely a significant percentage of my hundreds of unknown and known relatives on the numerous branches down our family tree from today back to Virginia before the American Revolution in 1776 in the South of North America turned out to be hardcore redneck Republicans. I have been accused of being a redneck myself. My father in many ways was as fascist as you can get, telling me numerous times during my formative years, “There can only be one boss,” namely him. He may have been the only boss bossing his employees during work hours, but he never really bossed me. I did what I had to do to survive subject to his personality as a dependent child, but after age 21 I was on my own.

Having the fate of being the castoff descendants of aristocrats who willed their estates to the eldest sons in their families in Europe, many of my ancestors saw North America as a source of cheap land and a way to perpetuate their aristocratic patriarchal scripting with large families, while escaping grinding poverty, overpopulation, political injustice, and religious persecution and superstition in Europe. Some of them experienced success as they defined success in the so-called New World. Unfortunately the cheap North American land had to be conquered and stolen from its original owners, so some became Indian fighters; and getting control of relatively large plots of land in the South of North America where my parents, grandparents and great grandparents lived required cheap labor to make serious money growing cotton, so some of them owned slaves. Some of them claimed to oppose slavery and claimed to take good care of their slaves and treat them kindly and humanely given the laws and culture in which they lived. But this did not excuse the greed, harshness, and inhumanity required to own and employ slaves. Contrary to a good bit of contemporary opinion slave-based life was not an easy life for most humans in the South, including humans who happened to be “white” and who had enough money, connections, or credit to purchase slaves. Life in the South of North America was full of moral and ethical conflicts and tradeoffs for slavers, who worried about their inmates on their prison farms getting sick, rebelling, and turning violent. Participating in slavery caused white humans to get meaner, harder, and more hypocritical over time the farther West lesser sons moved every generation in search of new cheap land recently conquered and stolen from Indians. It’s a wonder the culture and process did not drive them crazier than they became, making it impossible for most of them to develop I’m OK—You’re OK life positions, causing them to operate with primarily Critical Parent and Adapted Child ego state energy, and adopt and enforce hard rigid doctrines and dogma, learning to live with little real fun, generally requiring the exclusion of Adult, Free Child, and Nurturing Parent ego state energy, obeying Don’t Think and Don’t Feel script injunctions. This evolutionary process has culminated in today’s polarized I’m OK—You’re Not OK hyper-aggressive and competitive USian culture and economy, where another civil war and another world war have again become serious topics of conversation. While Biden has a more I’m OK—You’re OK life position than Trump, I’m OK—You’re Not OK fascist life positions have grown stronger and more prevalent among the general USian population since 1980, as I’m OK—You’re OK democratic processes have grown weaker.

Joe Biden at least socially comes across projecting an I’m OK—You’re OK life position. Donald Trump unfortunately comes across socially and psychologically projecting an I’m OK, my buddy is OK, nothing else is OK, and we are going to make the world pay life position. Even more unfortunate for Spaceship Earth Trump’s buddies Putin, Kim Jong Un, Bolsonaro and others also operate from this sort of life position. No kind of economic or political system will work for everyone if bad guys get control of them at the top.

Here is what Martin Groder, MD, one of my transactional analysis mentors at Chapel Hill, NC in the late 1970s, had to say about this sort of thing in what I called Groder’s People Map, in a passage I wrote and published in 2011 in my book Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds, pp. 148-150:

The Human Spectrum

“Humans generally give little thought to what kind of human they are and where they fit in the spectrum of various types of humans. Innumerable philosophers, writers, social scientists, and others have categorized humans in various ways. Following is a schema developed by Martin Groder, MD, a psychiatrist, organizational development consultant, and entrepreneur (Groder, 1977). Groder developed this schema while working with inmates of the federal prison system at Marion, Illinois in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. He was involved in a process of changing hard-core criminals into law-abiding citizens. Such a process would challenge the abilities of the most skillful and powerful of change agents.

“According to Groder, humans vary on two fundamental spatial dimensions. One dimension is Okness, which is estimated on the horizontal axis of Figure 1 (sorry, I could not get the Figure 1 image to copy and paste here, so you’ll just have to imagine it); the other dimension is the energy level of the individual estimated on the vertical axis.

“People vary in terms of how OK they see, feel about, and experience, (1) themselves, (2) the other individual, (3) their group, (4) other groups, and (5) the world. In Groder’s terms, they are OK or not-OK with respect to I, You, We, They, and It (the world). Groder estimates how OK they are on each of these five existential dimensions on a scale of -1 to +1, -1 being as not-OK as possible and +1 being as OK as possible. Thus people with extremely high self-esteem might be at the +1 level regarding themselves; someone with extremely low self-esteem might be at the -1 level regarding themselves. People could exist at any level in between, at -.5, 0, +.25, etc. The same would be true of the positions of specific individuals with respect to buddies on a one-to-one basis, groups with which one belongs, other groups with which your group cooperates or competes, and the world in general. Summing the 5 existential OKness positions for an individual, I, You, We, They, and It, the highest possible OKness rating would be +5 and the lowest possible would be -5. A +5 person would have the highest possible feelings of Okness regarding his OKness, the OKness of his buddy, the OKness of his group, the OKness of other groups, and the OKness of the world. Such an individual would have very positive feelings and thoughts for self and others. On the other end of the spectrum, a -5 person would have the lowest possible feelings and thoughts for self and others. Very negative people tend to end up in prison. Very positive people tend to end up cultural heroes. Probably the most profitable attitude for an entrepreneur in a capitalistic economic system would be I’m OK, my employees are OK, my company is OK, the world is OK, but my competitors aren’t worth a damn, since this attitude would motivate his or her sales employees to steal business from competitors to increase the profit of the company.

“Entrepreneurs have higher energy levels than middle managers and normal people. It takes less energy to be a normal person than anything else. Entrepreneurs in Groder’s schema have approximately the same energy level on the vertical axis of Figure 1 as Monsters, the -3 OKness level convict leaders of other convicts. Monsters have the attitude “I’m OK, my buddy is OK, but everything else is not OK, and I am going to make the world pay.” According to Groder, it’s more difficult to change the energy level of a human than the OKness position. In rehabilitation work, Groder attempted to arc people across the gap of Figure 1, and make +3 OKness level entrepreneurs out of -3 monsters, +2 OKness middle managers out of -2 OKness creeps, slobs, lunch buckets, etc. Sometimes people arc across the gap the other way. Honest entrepreneurs can turn criminal. Entrepreneurs are winner-survivors; Monsters are loser-survivors. Winners achieve goals and objectives; losers do not.”

Unfortunately, a bitter pill to swallow found embedded in my books Business Voyages and Born to Learn is that everything that happens is either predetermined or accidental, as the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein postulated in his book of propositions, Prototractatus, and therefore no one is to blame or praise. Believing and acting otherwise will simply perpetuate the same sorry I’m OK—You’re Not OK life position that has bedeviled humankind since time immemorial contributing to if not causing repeats of historical abominations such as genocides, wars, economic depressions, famines, mental illnesses, and social collapses.

One might think with a background like mine I ought to be rounded up and summarily shot for the sins of my ancestors; but I don’t think it was my fault.  I did not make up the rules for how humans or human affairs happen on Earth.  They happen gradually and inexorably from generation to generation according to genetic codes and script messages passed down to children from parents biologically and from all ego states, socially and psychologically, like runners passing a baton in a track race.


De-Gaming And Saving Democracy

By Richard John Stapleton, PhD, CTA

A decision was made in June of 2018 to start a De-Gaming Democracy group to facilitate relevant face-to-face discussions about economic and political affairs using a new and different discussion process.  Humans spending more and more time listening to right wing and left wing talking heads on a radio, staring at TV, computer, and cell phone screens, watching and hearing talking heads dispensing what they want you to hear and see, now about eight hours per day per human on average in the US, has not stopped the political and economic degeneration and decline of the US, much less produce progress.  Something new needs to be tried.  As Albert Einstein pointed out, doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is insane. 

The Classroom De-Gamer™, shown under the inventor’s left hand in the above photo, is a three-quarter-inch-thick circular board twelve inches in diameter with concentric circles of numbers affixed to accommodate teaching and learning groups of various sizes. I have published articles describing the purpose and use of the device in Research in Education (1978), the Transactional Analysis Journal (1979), and The Organizational Behavior Teaching Review (1990). I used one over twenty years teaching case method management courses in a business school.

The Classroom De-Gamer™ De-games psychological Games in face-to-face learning processes by banishing from the discussion Persecutors, Rescuers, and Victims. No teacher or learner in a De-gamed process can psychologically feel or think s/he is being persecuted, rescued, or victimized if randomly selected by the Classroom De-Gamer™ to answer questions announced to the whole group.  All group participants have an Adult contract to socially participate in the process using their Adult ego states.  Drama Triangles around which Rescuers, Persecutors, and Victims switch roles as they transact with one another do not exist in Game-free discussion processes.

Unfortunately almost all political and economic discussions in political parties and in state and federal legislatures are polluted with Drama Triangles and psychological Games. Filabusters are there to destroy democratic discussions entirely.  

The De-Gaming process engenders liberty, equality, and fraternity among participants.  It encourages and develops response-ability that helps people get their needs met.  It causes people not to discount the emotional and intellectual worth and abilities of themselves and others.  The process is democratic, not authoritarian.

The De-Gaming teaching and learning process will work regardless of whether you understand transactional analysis concepts such as Parent, Adult, and Child ego states, transactions, scripts, rackets, discounts, the Drama Triangle, OKness, and I’m OK – You’re OK life positions.  For more information and understanding of what they are, if interested, read my book Born to Learn:  A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning at https://www.amazon.com/Born-Learn-Transactional-Analysis-Learning/dp/0692584331

For more information showing how I applied this De-Gaming process over five years in a US manufacturing corporation doing business internationally involving some three hundred employees from all departments and levels of a plant read my e-book Recommendations for Waking Up From the American Nightmare at https://www.amazon.com/Richard-John-Stapleton/e/B001KHS3P6.

The major objective after being selected as the Leader of the Moment by the Classroom De-Gamer™ is answering three Adult Questions below as honestly as you can:

What is the most significant economic or political problem right now?

What are the alternatives?

What do you recommend?

Most likely some participants will disagree with your answers. The group will then discuss alternative answers, hopefully developing a consensus by the end of the discussion about what they think is right.  Whether you are right or not is irrelevant. The important thing is to have an honest truthful discussion. Being left hanging at the end of a session may motivate you to think of better answers later.  Better answers may be brought up in later sessions.  Deciding what is the most important problem you know about is the most difficult decision you will have to make if the spinner lands on you. That’s what leaders do; decide what problem to focus on.  Most of the time the spinner will only be spun one time per session, at the very beginning.  In most sessions most of the time of the session will be spent discussing answers laid out by the De-Gamer-selected person, the most powerful person in the group that day, the randomly selected leader selected by fate at the beginning of the session, the start of a new day. On the other hand, some days the De-Gamer might be spun more than once, if a discussion runs out of steam, in which case the last person pointed out will spin the De-Gamer again to select another leader and set of answers for a different problem or opportunity.   

True democracy entails individual humans having an opportunity to influence and vote for actions and people that reflect their factual experiences, thoughts, decisions, and recommendations regarding how families, schools, businesses, social and civic groups, and political organizations should be run.  It seems to me all people should have a fundamental right to think about and discuss problems and opportunities facing the organizations that shape and control their lives.

Being a good citizen entails more that just voting. It also entails assuming responsibility for co-constructing consensual answers for what to do about economic and political problems, and making sure people vote for candidates who will vote for answers that are in the best interests of as many citizens as possible, not just an elite rich minority.

All humans around Spaceship Earth, Earthians, learn something every day in various ways, working, playing, and merely existing, from others, from various media, from schools and churches, and from being exposed to facts of experience doing life tasks.  The problem is most humans do not learn as well as they might qualitatively and as much as they might quantitatively because of getting set in their ways and because of political and social forces that cause them not to learn, forces that cause them not to think about certain problems and opportunities, not to feel what they feel, and not to say and do what they think is right. 

Discussing the three reality questions in De-gamed groups gives isolated individuals feedback from others in the group regarding what they feel, think, do, and want. This teaches and enables people to learn alternative ways of feeling, thinking, doing, and wanting, not just blindly follow what some supposed real leader on TV says. 

De-gamed discussion groups are dialectical, meaning people will argue with facts and reasoning about different answers, which tends to develop workable consensual synthetic answers over time, thereby reducing the pernicious effects of dogmatic and doctrinaire polarizations. 

Humans are enslaved around Earth in various ways to obsolete scripts, dogmas, and doctrines by family, religious, business, political, and military forces, having been taught by authoritarian teachers that tell their subjects what to feel, think, and do.  They primarily teach their subjects to obey and memorize right answers that are not to be quesitoned, not to think and learn.

Conformity is the order of the day in human history, humans feeling, thinking, and doing the same things the same way day after day generation after generation.

A way out of this box is for everyone to become a teacher and a learner in a bottom-up democratic process starting with the basics of reality confronting any child, woman, and man around Spaceship Earth, dealing with three fundamental survival questions: 

What is the problem or opportunity? 

What are the alternatives? 

What do you recommend?

And the process starts with you.  You have to get people from various walks of life and ages in your community together for face-to-face democratic discussions, and explain the rules:

1 – A leader will be randomly selected to start all discussions by spinning the De-Gamer

2 – All randomly selected leaders will answer the three basic Adult survival questions if pointed out by the spinner

3 – No one may interrupt anyone in the discussions

4 – Holding up your hand to force someone to force everyone to remain silent so you can talk is outlawed

5 – You may say whatever you want after the randomly selected person finishes presenting his or her answers, but you have to assert yourself and start talking before anyone else does

6 – And so it goes throughout the time of the discussion

7 – How long good discussions should last is up to you but they will generally last an hour or so  

8 – Verbal and physical attacks are outlawed

9 – All members of the group must listen to what the person currently talking wants to say regardless of whether they agree.  After the person currently talking stops talking you can then rebut or say what you want if you can start talking before anyone else does.  Otherwise you have to wait until the person beating you to the punch stops talking before you can try to talk again

10 – Communicating with individuals sitting to your left or right, or anywhere in the circle, is outlawed, except when you are responding to an individual about something s/he has said to the whole group or in response to you about something you said to the whole group 

11 – Smirking and negative body language messages of all sorts are outlawed 

12 – There can be no private conversations during the discussion session

13 – All cell phones and electronic devices must be fully disabled during the discussion session

14 – If you are not willing to abide by the laws and rules of the process then you cannot be a member of the De-Gamed democratic community discussion group.

You may need other rules for your groups, depending on unique circumstances, but the above rules cover the basics.  You get the idea.  Everyone should have a chance to be the leader of the day.  This is not a novel idea.  The Greeks had this idea for doing democracy as early as the Sixth Century BCE.  True enough only free Greeks were eligible for random selection for discussions but at least leaders were freely and democratically chosen from a relatively large pool.  The process is known as sortition.   Everyone is a free Greek in the De-Gaming democratic process.  There are no slaves.  All participants, including you, learn by doing, by saying what they truly feel, think, and recommend and by getting feedback from members of the group that generates new Game-free discussion and learning for all participants.

How often should you get your group together for discussions?  Ideally several times a week for several years, but any frequency will be better than none, once a week, once a month, once a year, whatever.

In the interests of full disclosure I used the De-Gaming discussion process teaching with the case method thirty-six years in business schools primarily using paper cases written by casewriters at Georgia Southern, Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Alabama, while using the process using current facts as the case consulting with various groups, such as the above mentioned manufacturing plant.  I have described the process in various media, and I have reprinted and included articles, cases, and chapters dealing with complications and conflicts using such a process may entail, caused by agitated threatened teachers and learners in the environment not approving of the De-Gaming discussion process, especially the teacher and learners sitting in circles, also providing data and evidence the democratic De-Gaming discussion process works, in my 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, both published by Effective Learning Publications, available at:



You can find four articles I published in 1978, 1979, 1990, and 1998 on De-Gaming democracy processes in the Transactional Analysis Journal, a refereed professional journal at


I also described the democratic De-Gaming process in two out-of-print books of readings and cases I researched, wrote, and used in my small business and entrepreneurship courses, published by University Press of America, Managing Creatively: Action Learning in Action (1976) and The Entrepreneur: Concepts and Cases on Creativity in Business (1985) – and in one out-of-print trade book published by Effective Learning Publications, De-Gaming Teaching and Learning:  How to Motivate Learners and Invite OKness (1979).

For more information and some of my current thoughts on how I used the De-Gamer in my classrooms read my article, “The Classroom De-Gamer,” published June 6, 2018 in the Effective Learning Report at https://blog.effectivelearning.net/the-classroom-de-gamer/.  This article discusses in more detail some of the procedures, problems, opportunities, and advantages of using a Classroom De-Gamer teaching and learning.

Most teachers are authoritarians, having been taught they have to lecture and/or otherwise impose on hapless students right answers that can be tested with so-called objective tests, using true-false and multiple-choice questions.

It seems to me the best strategy for homo sapiens getting out of their on-going mess, now trending towards global fascism or anarchy, and chaos, is for all humans to become good citizens aboard Spaceship Earth, considering themselves the rightful owners of the planet, and assume responsibility for making political and business decisions necessary to successfully manage planetary affairs in a bottom-up process in the interests of all inhabitants.  It seems to me principles of management I espoused in “Academic Entrepreneurship: Using the Case Method and Transactional Analysis to Simulate Competitive Business Markets,” reprinted in full in Business Voyages, apply to citizens and owners of Spaceship Earth as well as they do to business students, small business owners, and employees of large fascist organizations.  This article was originally published in the Organizational Behavior Teaching Review (now Journal of Management Education), Vol. XIV, Issue IV, 1989-90.

 For more on how to manage Spaceship Earth according to me, read my recent Internet article “Toward the Creation of Spaceship Earth Incorporated,” first published in 2013 by MWC News (Media With Conscience) at http://mwcnews.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=31023&catid=38&Itemid=125

Awareness has been growing among independent Internet writers and publishers for several years that democracy in the Western World is in decline.  Governments have become increasingly dysfunctional meeting the needs of citizens.  The ideals of the French and US revolutions – liberty, equality, and fraternity – incrementally achieved to some degree in the West from about 1800 to about 1980 – are now waning.  Since the Reagan administration in the US and the Thatcher administration in the UK in the 1980s the aristocrats have gotten richer and the peasants, serfs, and slaves have gotten poorer, while the bourgeoisie has shrunk.  Inequality of incomes, wealth, and quality of life among citizens has skyrocketed in the last few years, while liberty and fraternity have plummeted.  Overpopulation, environmental pollution, and global warming increasingly threaten the sustainability of human life itself.  It is now obvious that unfettered capitalism does not work for most Earthians. Quasi-communist countries and quasi-dictatorships such as China and Russia are now in some ways as democratic and capitalistic as the US and the UK.

If trends continue … there is a good probability Earthians regardless of what kind of economic and political system they now live under will wind up through time being governed by an authoritarian totalitarian global military police system that rules all countries now geographically delineated aboard Spaceship Earth using a magnum computerized central control system, programmed at the top by a technocratic elite, with robots doing most of the physical work around Earth, with most humans doing what they are told living on handouts in reservations—or after a military nuclear catastrophe what’s left of the human species will atomize into superstitious tribal groups with no control system, with individuals living short hard brutish lives in poisoned inhospitable environments.

There is also some probability a system will evolve that enables humans in groups to democratically decide how to govern and manage their affairs around Spaceship Earth producing consensual approaches that produce peace and prosperity instead of war, and equality of opportunity and respect instead of hatred, while retaining the advantages of life-enhancing scientific and technological discoveries and innovations. 

Capitalism in the West and communism in Russia failed because they allowed and encouraged weak-minded greedy unethical individuals at the top of centralized hierarchical organizations to acquire and monopolize more and more power and money through time causing widespread hatred, corruption, and dysfunction in the whole system.

Decentralized ground-up De-Gamed democracy has never been tried aboard Spaceship Earth.  It’s time to give it a shot.  Bring out the Classroom De-Gamers and let’s see what real people can come up with. 

You don’t need a manufactured circular piece of wood with numbers and a spinner attached to De-Game your democratic face-to-face community discussion groups.  Anything that will spin on a firm level surface will work, such as a bottle.  The best size for discussion groups in my opinion is from ten to thirty people, but they can be larger.  Some case method classes in business schools contain as many as one hundred students. 

De-Gamed fact-based teaching and learning processes should not be limited to teaching elite students in elite schools that will use what they learn to manipulate economic and political systems to only benefit themselves after they graduate after they reach the top level of large fascist organizations:  De-Gamed fact-based discussion groups can cause effective learning to occur in anyone aboard Spaceship Earth in any community, village, town, or city in any sort of clearing or physical structure.

Have your participants sit in a circle and put your spinner in the middle of the group, spin the spinner, and give it a go, answering the three survival questions and discussing the answers, answering the questions yourself if the spinner lands on you: 

What is the problem or opportunity?

What are the alternatives? 

What do you recommend?

For once give anyone a chance to feel, think, and say what s/he wants face-to-face in a response-able Game-free democratic group of people.

Feel free to forward, share, print, reprint, publish or otherwise disseminate this article any way you see fit, on the Internet or elsewhere.

 Richard John Stapleton, Founder & Owner, Effective Learning Company, 32 East Main Street, Statesboro, Georgia, USA, www.effectivelearning.net, June 12, 2018  



Here’s a way you can learn at low cost how you can improve your performance and increase your satisfaction dealing with others in humane relationships.

Transactional analysis is a process of self-discipline, sometimes called verbate, the verbal art of self-defense, a set of concepts and tools you can use to help defend yourself, and others, from stress or loss in interpersonal states of affairs.

Humans transact with one another to get their psychological, social, and economic needs met using ego states. The first thing to learn in a TA tutoring session is what ego states are so you can recognize them in transactional episodes. Then learn how to use ego states and different kinds of transactions to increase your chances of participating in transactional episodes that build confidence and self-esteem that lead to success and satisfaction.

This process entails learning what psychological Games are and how to recognize them, and learning about different ways of structuring time.

You can learn the basics of how to do this one or two hours of one-on-one tutoring.

For TA tutoring contact Richard John Stapleton, PhD, CTA, an educational and organizational specialist in transactional analysis certified by the International Transactional Analysis Association.

Richard is a founder and owner of Effective Learning company, at https://www.effectivelearning.net/. For more detail regarding his TA experience see how he applied transactional analysis as a paid consultant and tutor as listed in his “RJS Academic Vita” at https://.effectivelearning.net/rjs-academic-vita.html.

Tutoring fee: $50 per hour, face-to-face at Effective Learning Company, 32 East Main Street, Statesboro, Georgia. Masks and social distancing are required.

To get started order and read a copy of Born to Learn: A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning, at https://www.amazon.com/Born-Learn-Transactional-Analysis-Learing/dp/0692584331#ace-g9859629705.

The transactional analysis tutoring fee is fractional: One-half hour, $25; fifteen minutes $12.50; etc. It’s your turn to present questions in your first tutoring session after reading Born to Learn to get specific tutoring on what you did not understand reading the book.

Satisfaction guaranteed: If you don’t think TA will work for you after your first tutoring session you owe nothing for the tutoring.


Effective Learning Publications

Established 1979 by Richard John Stapleton

Now located:
32 East Main Street
PO Box 2265
Statesboro, Georgia 30459
Tel: 912-687-5049

Email: rjstapleton@bulloch.net

Publisher of:

Born to Learn:  A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning





A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning  

Richard John Stapleton    

Effective Learning Publications (274 pp.)

$14.99 paperback, $4.50 e-book

ISBN: 978-0-692-58433-0; February 24, 2016

Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Your Local Bookseller

A refresher course in Transactional Analysis emphasizes its application to the classroom.

Transactional Analysis (TA) was invented by psychiatrist Eric Berne and then popularized in his classic book, Games People Play, originally published in 1964. Stapleton (De-Gaming Teaching and Learning: How to Motivate Learners and Invite OKness, 1979), a retired professor, acknowledges Berne’s contribution by providing a salient overview of TA principles, including ego states and “OKness,” in the early chapters of this book. The focus of the content, though, is applying TA to “the total learning process” in a volume updating material that appeared in Stapleton’s previous work. While the author suggests his new book could apply generally to organizations and businesses, it seems most relevant to educators. Four of the eleven chapters concentrate on such specifics as classroom layouts, teaching methods, tests, grading, classroom management, and classroom games. The psychology behind classroom games is particularly intriguing; “classrooms are inherently Gamey,” writes Stapleton, “because of the natural presumption that students need teachers to help them, which more or less creates a Drama Triangle situation.” Perhaps most enticing is the author’s description of the “Classroom De-Gamer,” a “roulette”-type device he created to effectively spread out student anxiety. Students spin the De-Gamer’s arrow to randomize being called on. With the De-Gamer’s proper usage, “all ego states in students can see and feel that they are not being Persecuted or Rescued by a teacher playing a Game when they are called on to respond to classroom requirements and challenges.” This idea alone should spark a creative teacher’s rethinking of the traditional classroom environment, but it is just one of a number of alternative learning concepts covered in this enlightening book. Stapleton uses the final chapter to reflect on his career from the perspective of a retired 75-year-old looking back on chapters he wrote as a 38-year-old. Somewhat loose, freewheeling, and maybe a bit beyond the book’s scope, Stapleton’s parting shot more broadly concerns the state of students, universities, society, politics, and the world.

Illuminating, if quirky at times; insightful, eye-opening observations about the interplay of teachers and students in the classroom.

See INSIDE BORN TO LEARN free at Amazon.com for the entire Table of Contents and much of the writing.

A major feature of BORN TO LEARN is its transactional analysis of the significance and importance of classroom layouts, teaching methods, and testing methods used by teachers of all kinds in all environments, parents in homes, teachers in schools, managers in businesses, Sunday School teachers in churches, and others.

ORDER NOW! by clicking here.

Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, your Local Bookseller

If you are someone with the responsibility of teaching others—a parent, a school teacher, a manager, a preacher, a leader of a civic club, a fraternity or sorority, or some sort of military organization—you should read this book.


Because it can help you do a better job of teaching and leading and gain more satisfaction from the process.

The most important lessons in life are not lessons memorized in school; they are messages learned about how to live life so as to increase satisfaction for everyone.

Born to Learn points out an obvious fact:  Everyone is indeed born to learn.  And they will learn, no matter how good or poor their teachers or leaders were or what they learn.  But the question is, what will the learning cause them to do?  Hopefully gaining some knowledge of transactional analysis will enable readers to gain more control of their personal learning process so as to get where they want to go. 

Born to Learn is based on clinical observations and research conducted by Eric Berne, MD, a psychiatrist, and millions of people have used his findings since the early 1960s to help themselves and others learn better messages for getting on with the business of surviving and succeeding in the world.

But much of Born to Learn is concerned with problems especially relevant to classroom teachers.

I wrote a short piece called Appendix I in the back of Born to Learn recommending readers read our (Stapleton & Murkison) article “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations:  A Study of Correlations Between Instructor Excellence, Study Production, Learning Production, and Expected Grades,” published in the Journal of Management Education in 2001 by the Organizational Behavior Teaching Society. 

The article is concerned with how to fairly evaluate and reward teachers, probably the most vexing problem in the teaching profession.  Teachers want to achieve something and be recognized for their achievements.  Achieving for teachers is causing students and to learn relevant and useful ideas, concepts, facts, techniques.  Excellent teachers are not satisfied with merely doing a passable job; they want to do an excellent job.  But how do you know what is excellent and what is good, average, and poor?

Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations”  provides hard evidence, proof some say, that teachers in some cases can increase their student evaluation scores and their merit raises by lowering the requirements and grading standards of their courses, by dumbing them down and teaching to easy tests, which is not good teaching. 

Using a CITP, a Composite Indicator of Teaching Productivity, a new computer-based quantitative metric I invented, presented in “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations,” in a department or school will eliminate this possibility and optimize fairness for all teachers in the department or school when it comes time to grade teachers and reward commensurately.  It will clearly show which teachers really were the top producers. 

To verify the 73 refereed journal articles citing “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations,” as a reference, just punch Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations into Google and read the sources. 

Here is a pdf copy of “Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations: A Study of Correlations Between Instructor Excellence, Study Production, Learning Production and Expected Grades.”  Read it by clicking here:


Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations gets to the heart of intractable problems of the teaching profession, the most serious of which is probably teacher evaluations. How can you as a teacher or evaluator know with any degree of certainty how well you or any other teacher is doing his/her job? What sort of criteria can you use for making this judgment? Certainly the purpose of teaching is to cause learning to occur in students, but how do you measure this? What kind of learning? How much learning? How much learning relative to what? What percentage of a prescribed content or syllabus a teacher causes students to memorize? Or how much learning a teacher produces in students relative to how much peer teachers produce? In other words are you attempting to measure absolute learning or relative learning?

Optimizing the Fairness of Student Evaluations presents a unique Composite Indicator of Teaching Productivity (CITP), one of the most sophisticated metrics of teaching productivity yet developed in the teacher evaluation literature for measuring how well a teacher relatively caused learning to occur in his/her students.

Read it by clicking here:


Business Voyages:  Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds

Copyright © 2008, 2010, 2011 by Richard John Stapleton
Library of Congress Control Number: 2004098342
ISBN: Hardcover : 978-1-4134-8082-5;  Softcover: 978-1-4134-8081-8
Effective Learning Publications, First printing, August 2008
756 pages, 76 illustrations, index, 5.5 x 8.5 inches in size

$28.99 softcover; $38.99 hardcover; $2.99 ebook

Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Your Local Bookseller

Why start a small business?

A good answer for this question it seems to me is because you thought about it.  Your portion of life causes, your history up to this point, caused you to think about it; something in your family background, your early life experiences, your formal education, your work experience, your general reading, and so forth caused you to think about starting a small business of your own.

Most likely you have visualized starting a business that involves selling products and services that you enjoy and have produced satisfaction for you personally.  For young people most visualizations of small businesses to start are gender-based.  Females tend to want to start dress shops, beauty shops, and bridal shops; a lot of males want to start taverns and pubs, weight lifting gyms, sporting goods stores, and the like.  Starting a business to sell products and services you like to buy in some cases works out, but in general the probabilities of long term survival is low for businesses started for these reasons.

There are all kinds of small businesses, such as hobby businesses, moonlight businesses, businesses with or without employees, scripted businesses, and planned businesses.  Should you start a small business just for the fun of it?  Well, why not, if you can make a living while doing the business on the side.  If it takes off you might want to go at it full time down the road.  If it does not work out, that is, generate enough revenue to justify your time, energy, and investment, just shut it down and move on to something else.  So long as you don’t lose too much money and can pay back any creditors you might have consider the business a successful learning experience, learning by doing.  If you look into the backgrounds of successful entrepreneurs most likely you will find that most of them learned about entrepreneurship like this.

Scripted businesses are internal visualizations and fantasies someone creates in his or her head about what owning and running a business will be like, including not only the products and services to be sold but what it will be like to operate the business, where it will be located, what the employees and customers will be like, what sort of office furniture and fixtures will be required (the stage and scenery of the business), what short of computers and so forth will be required—including visualizations of the owner talking with and interacting with people in the business.

Planned  businesses are based on facts, data, and evidence garnered from the real world, such as knowing what the total sales of the existing market is and what market share the business to be might capture, and how much start up capital will be required to hire employees and purchase facilities and equipment, leaving some over for working capital; and the plan will include a realistic knowledge of numbers to be recorded in income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, not only for the first few months but for next year and the years after.  Perhaps most important the plan will include an executive summary showing the experience of the founder(s) and key employees.

How long a business will last depends on many factors, including the management abilities, energy, and overall talent of the owne(s) and employees if any; but it also depends on whether the market really needed the additional small business.  Both management ability (being able to do the work) and entrepreneurial ability (knowing what sort of business to start in the first place) are important; but, all other things being equal, the market will make the final decision.  In general plan-based business last longer than script-based businesses. 

About forty percent of all new small businesses are discontinued after the first year.  Only about twenty percent last ten years.  A business discontinuance is a shut-down with all creditors satisfied; a business failure is a shut-down with creditors unsatisfied.  Most shut downs are business discontinuances.

Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.  Business Voyages provides information and techniques that will enable you to better assess how your script fits the profile of the typical successful entrepreneur.

The biggest cause of new small businesses not making it, according to Business Voyages, is not poor management but poor entrepreneurship.  It’s fairly easy to learn the management tasks of most small businesses once they are set up, but it’s not easy to set up the right small business in the right place in the first place.  In some cases if you set up the wrong small business in the wrong market you are doomed from the git go regardless of how hard and well you and your employees work once the business is set up.  In most cases it takes about one year operating a new business to learn all the nitty-gritty details required for success in the business. 

The only requirement in the long run is positive net cash flow, which is what is left over after you pay all your expenses, including your own living expenses.  Very few people are willing to own and run zombie businesses (businesses with negative cash flow) year after year, doing it just for the fun of it.

This can happen if there aren’t enough customers in the market you chose who will buy enough of whatever it is you sell at a price sufficient to generate a gross profit percentage sufficient to absorb all your fixed expenses, and leave something left over for you to live on.  This means you need to know how to calculate a break-even point for your business.  Business Voyages will teach you how to do this, before you start your business.

According to Business Voyages most new small businesses are not based on business plans but on personal psychological scripts, fantasies people carry around in their heads about what a business is like and how much they would enjoy running it.

Learning the difference between a business plan and a business script could be worth far more than the cost of Business Voyages.

Business Voyages is not a get-rich-quick book making readers think that all people need is passion for doing what they do to make it big.  Passion is important but it won’t do any good if nobody wants or needs what you are selling.  Business Voyages is based on about forty years of experience and case research, telling it like it is with facts and cases to give you an accurate picture of what small business is like.

Most small business environments today are more insecure and uncertain than they were in the past, especially retail businesses, caused by the advent of Walmart type big box race-to-the-bottom pricing selling low priced imports produced in third world countries to which middle class income blue collar US manufacturing jobs were shipped.  Not only do US consumers now need cheaper goods produced in low wage countries because of their jobs being outsourced, small businesses find it harder to compete with the low priced goods in the big box stores, some of which are now suffering from Amazon type mail order selling, rendering even the big box model obsolete in some cases.

Round and round it goes, where markets will actually go, nobody knows, caused by today’s bizarre monetary policies.  Despite this new Federal Reserve monetary policy, e.g. quantitative easing and low interest rates, designed to stave off recessons, the US still suffers from insufficient aggregate demand, i.e., purchasing power among consumers sufficient for stimulating the creation of new small businesses and producing significant economic growth.

The tax reductions, military spending increases, money creation, and interest rate reductions since 1980 by the US Government, the US Federal Reserve System, and other governments and central banking systems around the world have primarily enriched the rich, and have done little or nothing to help middle and working classes, including small business people, who have experienced income decreases.

We may be in the eye of a monster economic depression that started in 2008.  If so, we will have to batten down the hatches and hope for the best when we hit the back side of it.   

Chapters and sections in Business Voyages are titled:  Causes and Influences; Where to Go?; What Lies Ahead?; People Along the Way; Running a Tight Ship; Mixing Business and Family; The Case Method; Cases; Articles; Exercises; Integration; On Living With and Changing Worlds; Recent Business History and the Future; Down to Earth Learning Right Now; Bibliography, Index.

It’s not easy to figure out today where to go on any business voyage.  Nobody knows for sure what lies ahead.  Read BUSINESS VOYAGES to learn cases, concepts, and techniques about how to cope with the process and the possibilities.

BUSINESS VOYAGES contains several cases showing the history of the Georgia Southern University business school during 1970-2005.  If you intend to study business, you should read the case “Evidence the Case Method Works” in the case section of Business Voyages.  The research data in this case alone is worth the price of the book.  Longitudinal ten-year data in the case, based on a survey of former students who had been in the real world at least five years after graduation, show that students taking courses in which the case method was used made more money than students taking the same courses in which the lecture, telling, or computer game methods were used.  Former students who became entreprenerurs who took case method courses reported the highest mean income of any group.  A large majority of the respondents said the case method is the best method for learning about business and recommended that more case method teaching be offered in the Georgia Southern University business school.  The case method is an experience-based learning process, such as you find among successful entrepreneurs in the real world.

Following are some comments by readers.

In his tour de force, of Business Voyages, Professor Stapleton combines the values of his pioneering American family, the leadership learned from quarterbacking winning football teams, the insights gained from decades of teaching future CEOs, and practical commercial acumen into a must-read chronicle for those seeking to recover from the economic chaos gripping our nation. 

William John Cox, public interest lawyer, retired prosecutor, author and political activist, Los Angeles, California 

Business Voyages is four books in one—it is an autobiography (so that we learn something about the author), a brief guide to transactional analysis (to learn briefly about scripts, ego states and games that people play), a small business case book (to learn from others) and it is a book for entrepreneurs (inviting them to look at the available web and other resources, encouraging them to plan a business voyage and challenging them to actually go on that voyage). The entrepreneurs will smile as they go through this book and just look forward to so much that life can bring. From a business learning and teaching viewpoint this book has much to offer.

(Dr.) Bill Dimovski, Former student and now Senior Lecturer in Finance, Deakin University, Australia, and a director of various companies engaged in construction and retail activities.

In an informative chapter called “Games Educators Play,” Richard Stapleton applies his expertise in management and mathematics to a persistent and vexing question: what weight should be given to university students’ ratings of their professors.  In a significant addition to the debate, Stapleton’s hard data show that neither professors nor their students are well served when student ratings are used in personnel decisions.

Judith D. Fischer, Associate Professor of Law, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

Finding the Way, September 16, 2010
By West Texan (Muleshoe, Texas), a review at amazon.com
This review is from:
Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata, and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds (Paperback)

A friend sent me a copy of Business Voyages, to entertain me in my early “retirement,” to encourage me in finding my way during these uncertain times, and, perhaps, to provide me with a map and some guidelines to get where I want to go.
It was a very nice and greatly appreciated gift.

The book is almost like a year-long, small-group graduate seminar with your favorite teacher, as Professor Stapleton reminisces about growing up as the son of the local successful entrepreneur in a small West Texas town, quarterbacking the football team, working his way through college and starting his own businesses, before deciding that he had something to offer to students who want to learn about running a business.

Take a while, read the book slowly and take to heart what the good professor has to say. It’s worth the time and the price.

See INSIDE THE BOOK (BUSINESS VOYAGES) free at Amazon.com for the Table of Contents and much of the writing.

Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, your Local Bookseller

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by Richard John Stapleton

Effective Learning Publications

Publication Date: October 19, 2012

Amazon.com eBook, 180 equivalent print pages, $2.99.

Recommendations For Waking Up From The American Nightmare is an analysis of how the US got in the predicament it is in and what the author recommends for getting out of it. 

A major feature of the book is a case study of an organizational development consulting engagement the writer experienced in the late 1970s and early 1980s with a manufacturing plant over five years, showing how he applied transactional analysis de-Gaming principles with some 300 members of the organization from several areas and levels in the chain of command, resulting in the creation of a new computerized scheduling and control system implemented plant wide, increasing the efficiency and profitability of the plant, and the cohesion and job satisfaction of organizational members—until the parent corporation owning the plant sold it, and most of its jobs were shipped overseas to a low wage country. 

Stapleton is convinced the root cause of American economic troubles is political, economic, religious and social polarization among US voters who since 1980 have voted into office polarized politicians out to feather their own nests and promote idiosyncratic economic interests, beliefs, values, dogmas, doctrines and ideologies, rather than use common sense to analyze the real causes of problems and recommend logical solutions.

Polarized politicians since 1980 voted for or against legislation based on their predetermined economic interests, ideologies, dogmas and doctrines, not the facts of cases, resulting in the deadlocked dysfunctional government we have today.

Recommendations For Waking Up From the American Nightmare advocates more dialectical democratic Game-free case method discussions among people from all walks of life in more and more Town Hall Meetings to foster more discussion of facts of cases and their logical solutions, hopefully resulting in more voters concerned about the facts of cases and inducing logical solutions, resulting in the election of like-minded politicians voting to do the right thing for we the people based on the facts of cases, not predetermined idiosyncratic ideologies, economic interests, beliefs, values, dogmas and doctrines.

In order for the performance of the US government to improve we need better politicians, and to get better politicians we need better voters.  To get better voters we need more and better adult education, and the place to start is by creating spaces where adults can discuss issues and cases by answering three adult questions:  What is the problem?  What are the alternatives?  What are the alternatives?

Recommendations for Waking Up From the American Nightmare  describes and explains a dialectical democratic case method process that can be used to discuss cases in a Game-free way to enable disparate groups to reach consensual truth about what to do about real problems and opportunities.

The author is convinced Republican neoconservative ideologies inflicted on the US economy since 1980 are major causes of the economic problems we have today; and, while he is not overly impressed with the neoliberal ideologies of the Obama administration since 2009 he thinks this administration has done more good than harm.  The Obama administration (OA) at least made a start toward creating a rational health care system in the US and did not create military disasters with new wars.  Whether any US president no matter how ethical or intelligent can do much about correcting the deformations and impediments created by the lobbyists of large corporations and the elite rich since 1980 that have disrupted and hamstrung the rational and orderly functioning of the US economy remains to be seen. 

The author recommends amending the US Constitution as soon as possible to eradicate Citizens United of 2010, the absurd and abominable 5-4 Supreme Court case in which five extreme right wing Republican judges ruled corporations are people with free speech, entitled to spend as much money as they wish buying propaganda in mainstream media to influence federal elections in their favor, at the expense of we the people.

Stapleton recommends the United States Voters’ Rights Amendment (USVRA), proposed by William John Cox, to improve the functioning of US democracy.  See Transforming America:  A Voter’s Bill of Rights, by William John Cox, Amazon.com, for a full analysis and discussion of how to amend the US constitution.

See INSIDE THE BOOK (RECOMMENDATIONS FOR WAKING UP FROM THE AMERICAN NIGHTMARE) free at Amazon.com for the Table of Contents and much of the writing.

Amazon.com, or other ebook sellers

To Order Now!, click here.


Debbye in action tutoring two tutorees at once

Learning mathematics with your tutor looking over your shoulder. Debbye has twice been voted the best math tutor in Statesboro.

Stapleton Learning Company

Established June 2005 by Deborah and Richard Stapleton


32 East Main Street
PO Box 2265
Statesboro, Georgia 30459

Cell phone Deborah: 912-687-1094
Cell phone Richard: 912-687-5049

Email: dstapleton@bulloch.net

Email: rjstapleton@bulloch.net

Website:  www.effectivelearning.net

Deborah Coleman Stapleton, BSED, MED, EDS, MSOR is an emeritus assistant professor of mathematics at Georgia Southern University.  She has an undergraduate degree in mathematics education from the University of Georgia, two masters degrees in mathematics education from Georgia Southern University, and a masters degree in operations research from Georgia Tech.  She started out at the University of Georgia majoring in speech pathology, following the lead of her Aunt Tommie, Tommie Jean Corbett, at one time secretary to President Zack Henderson at Georgia Southern University, who became a professional speech pathologist counseling primarily children and young adults with learning difficulties. 

Debbye was always relatively talented in mathematics, and she decided at the University of Georgia mathematics was her long suit, so she switched her major from speech pathology to become a math teacher. While teaching in Montgomery and Toombs County public schools near Vidalia she furthered her education in mathematics education driving to Statesboro for courses at Georgia Southern. At a later date she moved to Atlanta and lived with her Aunt Tommie while earning a masters degree at Georgia Tech in operations research, considering for a time pursuing a career in operations research in industry. After finishing her MSOR from Georgia Tech and interviewing a few corporations for operations research positions she decided the corporate life was not for her. She then came back to Georgia Southern and taught math in the mathematics and learning support departments. 

After marrying husband Rick in 1989 and after the learning support department at Georgia Southern was discontinued she transferred to the Georgia Southern business school where she taught business statistics and decision science courses, and crunched the statistical numbers for quite a few research papers she co-authored with Rick through the years.

Debbye co-founded Stapleton Learning Company in June 2005 after retiring at Georgia Southern and has tutored students in mathematics subjects ranging from basic grade school arithmetic to college-level Calculus II.  Most of her tutorees at Stapleton Learning Company have been high school students preparing for what lies ahead in university math courses and Georgia Southern students who have had difficulties in their math courses.  She has tutored high school students taking courses in college prep math and college students taking math department courses in modeling, algebra, statistics, plane geometry, trigonometry and calculus.  She has also tutored students taking courses in business school statistics, decision science, and operations management. 

She quickly flunked out of retirement in 2005.  In addition to teaching two modeling courses part-time each fall in the math department at Georgia Southern, she has been busy tutoring since 2005, generally from four to eight hours per day.  Debbye’s tutorees do well in their math courses and are satisfied with the results of their one-on-one tutoring.

For information regarding Mrs. Stapleton’s hourly fee and schedule contact her at 912-687-1094, or dstapleton@bulloch.net.

Richard John Stapleton, BS, MBA, PhD, CTA is an emeritus professor of entrepreneurship, small business, and business policy at Georgia Southern University where he taught small business, operations management, organizational behavior, management information systems, control, entrepreneurship, business policy, and business ethics 37 years.  He has a BS in economics, an MBA in organizational behavior, and a PhD in management science, all from Texas Tech University during 1962-1969.  He received a professional certification in transactional analysis in 1978 from the International Transactional Analysis Association, a CTA (Certified Transactional Analyst).  Richard trained and consulted using transactional analysis at the Southeast Institute at Chapel Hill, NC during 1975-1978. 

He worked 10 years for his parents to age 21 in 1962 in their small businesses at Wolfforth, Texas, ten miles from Lubbock, started from scratch in 1950, including a lumber yard and hardware store, farms, ranches, a housing subdivision, a natural gas pipeline installation and service business, a farm irrigation and home water pump installation and service business, and a bank. He started and ran two businesses of his own at age 22—a weekly newspaper, the Wolfforth-Frenship Gazette, and Rick Stapleton Agency, a fire and casualty insurance agency, a real estate brokerage, and a mortgage loan brokerage—before returning to Texas Tech for graduate work at age 25, having decided to move on from his small hometown.  He made a profit in his businesses, which he sold.  He documented these experiences in his 2008 book, Business Voyages.

In addition to teaching a full load of courses every quarter or semester throughout his career at Georgia Southern from July 1970-June 2005 he supervised student teams consulting with over 300 small businesses in Southeast Georgia and directed a Small Business Institute 18 years. He has researched, written and published 47 refereed scholarly articles and 5 books.  He founded the Entrepreneurship/Small Business Emphasis in the business school at Georgia Southern in 1987.

Since retiring from Georgia Southern and co-founding Stapleton Learning Company Richard wrote and published in 2008 Business Voyages, a 756-page summary of his life and experience, presenting what he considers the most relevant theories, concepts, techniques and learning processes anyone should know for coping with, surviving in, or succeeding in business worlds, primarily in small business worlds as an entrepreneur. 

Sometimes called a business bible, Business Voyages is must reading for anyone thinking about making money as an entrepreneur starting with little capital, the major determinant of high incomes under capitalism.

Richard published in 2016 Born to Learn:  A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning, a 245-page book explaining how people naturally learn, and what might be done to make timely changes, using transactional analysis concepts and models.

Born to Learn is must reading for teachers of all kinds, teachers in schools, parents in homes, managers in businesses, and many others.

Born to Learn will help anyone more fully understand how they came to learn what they naturally learned through experience.  A unique feature of the book is the insight it provides into how people learn scripts in families and organizations and what is required to get along, survive, or succeed in organizations.

For information regarding any of the concepts and techniques in the “Running A Tight Ship” chapter of Business Voyages such as balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements, break-even points, present value or business planning or concepts and techniques in the “People Along the Way” chapter of Business Voyages, or the transactional analysis content of Born to Learn contact Richard at 912-687-5049 or rjstapleton@bulloch.net.

In the process of writing
Business Voyages, Richard became increasingly dismayed by political developments in the US since 1980 that worked to the advantage of rich CEO employees hired at the top of large corporations and to the disadvantage of small business owners and middle and lower income citizens.  Small business people now have to worry about more than finding customers, hiring and training employees, and managing their cash flows; they also have to worry about politicians changing the rules of the game in favor of large public corporations.

Politicians not regulating greedy corporate money manipulators in Wall Street skyscrapers is one thing; it is another matter for politicians to increase the sales taxes of the poor and decrease the income taxes of corporations and the elite rich, thereby reducing aggregate demand for goods and services sold by small businesses on Main Streets, as has happened since 1980. 

Anyone could see the remains of small businesses in downtown areas and in malls in towns and cities that were shut down and discontinued after 2007; and there is a significant risk if politicians in most states up to the present time increase the sales taxes of the poor and decrease the income taxes of the rich while they cut state expenditures they will continue to decrease aggregate consumer demand to the point that a new wave of small business discontinuances will result, creating higher unemployment and more Mad Hatter-like demonstrations, diatribes and threats on town squares, on talk radio, and on Fox (so-called) News.  These issues are discussed in depth and detail in Business Voyages.

Business knowledge is not like mathematical knowledge. Math is hard because there are right answers you have to find that are provably true using deductive logic. Most business courses are considered easier than math courses because students do not have to work problems that are provably true. Unfortunately the real world is not cut and dried. Almost never can you prove anything is true in business or politics. The causes of real world problems are many, obscure and diverse, and most people have no way of proving what is causing what, causing them to live in a befuddled state making them susceptible to being exploited by whatever stories and lies unethical politicians and business communicators tell them.

One answer about the economy however seems clear. 

It has become harder and harder for most small business owners to make a profit and stay in business in the US since Ronald Reagan’s time in 1981 thanks to the machinations of large corporations and their political lapdogs, paying politicians to cut their taxes, outsourcing jobs to low wage countries, and the like; and the way to deal with this pernicious predicament is to educate all voters to help them separate fact from fantasy, form from substance and truth from lies, to better understand what is in their interests and in the interests of all people, not merely the elite rich.  At the same time, central banks of all developed nations, especially in the US, have resorted to expanding their money supplies in the form of debt by simply adding digits to bank accounts, flooding Earth with debt that has to be paid back, a process that slowly but surely sucks the blood out of real main street economies as debtors attempt to pay back their loans, siphoning money out of the system into the hands of creditors who issued the debt.

The above process worldwide has caused a process since 1980 that has resulted in the top ten percent of the human population owning and controlling about eighty percent of Earth’s wealth and resources resulting in extreme income inequality, which continues to worsen year after year.  Consequently humans now live under a Sword of Damocles waiting for the next financial crisis or the next political or military catastrophe, having to worry all the while about the possible consequences of climate change.

What the world needs now is better informed and educated voters who will elect better politicians who will pass better rules and laws.  How to produce this learning is one of the most pressing problems of our time.  What is needed are more and more public forums where adults can discuss relevant issues in face-to-face dialectical discussions.  Read Born to Learn for insights into how such processes work.  Good discussions should be Game-free, that is, devoid of psychological Games.  Born to Learn shows how to conduct Game-free discussions, a skill sorely needed by one of the most Game-infested groups on Earth, the US Congress.

See Inside the Book at Amazon.com for the Table of Contents and content samples of Born to Learn.

Most people think most small business owners are as rich as rich CEO employees hired by large corporations, when in reality there is a big difference between small business and big business.  Most small business owners make about as much money as the average lower-level employee of a large corporation.  According to William J. Dennis, Jr. of the National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation, in 2007 the median income of owners of small employing businesses was about $72,500; and 6 percent earned less than $12,500, when only 5 percent earned more than $250,000 (NFIB Small Business Facts, Vol. 7, Issue 7, 2007). 

The actual median income of CEOs of some 5,000 large public corporations in the US is hard to find, caused by the way large public corporations determine executive compensation, whether in salary, bonuses, stock options, etc.  Regardless, it’s safe to say the compensation of most hired CEO employees in large public corporations in the US is over $2,000,000 per year.  Some say the average compensation of CEOs of the largest corporations in the US is about $12,000,000 per year, making them salaried oligarchs. 

Do these corporate oligarchs really do this much valuable work?  Do they work harder and longer than most people?  Enough harder and longer to justify their salaries?  Are they intelligent and knowledgeable enough to justify their salaries?  Most of them are good politicians, skilled at bonding with cronies, which gives them power to negotiate and set their high salaries.  Power not work or productivity is the source of their high incomes.

Large corporations are as much public utilities as businesses since the actual stock owners in most cases are clueless about how to run them, and could care less so long as their stock price goes up; and many are too big to fail, so why not regulate them in the public interest, including the compensation packages of their top employees?

Why should the hired CEO employees of large US public corporations be paid ten to fifty times more per year than the elected President of the United States, the Chief Executive of about 3 million civil service workers and the Commander in Chief of about 2.25 million military workers?

Who should govern whom?  The corporate oligarchs the US government, or the US government the corporate oligarchs?

It’s not that the president of the United States is underpaid.  Most corporate CEOs in the US are overpaid.  Vote in politicians with strong characters and a clear sense of ethics who will vote for we the people of the US rather than large corporations and the elite rich.

Get rid of Citizens United of 2010, the abominable 5-4 right wing US Supreme Court decision that legalized the spending of unlimited sums of money by large corporations and the elite rich to bribe politicians to lower their taxes and legalize them favors in business markets.