A book is on the table next to a wooden shelf.

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

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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.

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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:


A book is on the table next to a pen.

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

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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.

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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.

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