Saturday, January 28, 2017

Taking A little Time Off From The Terrible Mr. T.

Honestly, my "it's just too much meeter" has been so pegged of late it's finally coiled itself around the peg post. How could it not be time to take a step back (at least for a bit), and just focus more on what this blog is supposed to be primarily about, and not just from the "Capitalism Stinks" side of things either. In fact, I think it's high time I spent more text on the various "how would it be" considerations that I would expect from the alternative I've been proposing.

To kick things off I thought I'd talk about education. A reasonable person might want to ask: "How would that work? Would you get rid of full time teachers and class rooms? If so, what would replace them?

And right at the get go I want to emphasise that the idea here is to have a Federation of City States (using "City States" loosely in that it might entail a wide range of sizes, both in respect to population density or total population, and/or physical size); and I mean a Federation where each City State would have a great deal of leeway in the details of how they could go about organizing themselves. There would still be Federation wide dictates (as in having a direct vote as a part of personal participation in City operations; ownership of items you made; the ability of citizens to move about as they may, taking the items they made with them, or at least a resource equivalent; the free movement of information; Federation mandated levels of trade, technical, and social skills, etc.), of course, but specific things like what would be taught would be up to each City.

The first thing to emphasize here is that we need to get away from the idea that "what needs to be done" will be accomplished by anybody other than the community itself, which is to say that every adult (or nearly so) needs to be involved in teaching the community's kids as a whole, and doing it so that it's a constant process of being out in the community as much as possible so that the kids can see exactly why different things are important to know. Not to say classroom time would be eliminated, mind you, just not relied upon nearly so much as now.

The second thing to emphasize here is that a fundamental part of a City's State operation would be the establishment of process categories that would encompass all aspects of city operation. For instance you might group things like this: 1. Rapid Response. 2. Physical Care. 3. Education. 4. Infrastructure Maintenance. 5 Infrastructure Development.

The point of the groupings would be to set up a system in which each citizen, subject to non emergency situations, would be able to select tasks to rotate through as a part of their work responsibilities. A certain minimum number of total tasks would be set, as well as the requirement that you could pick what you wanted, as long as it was at least one from each, and perhaps a few extra from groups deemed especially important.

So let's say you picked "policing" from "Rapid response," "Retirement Aid" from "Physical Care," "Primary School Age" from "Education," "Software Repair" and "City Sanitation" from "Infrastructure Maintenance," and "Heavy Machine Operation" from "Infrastructure Development." You would then spend one to two weeks in each specific task before rotating to the next. Staffing in these rotations would also be set up as to be staggered in such a way that ongoing continuity of specific tasks could be maintained as much as possible, with someone there to always provide hand off.

With teaching you would get a group of kids, "located hopefully close to where you actually live, and you would then see how much reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, history sociology, and science you could impart by showing the kids how it all comes together everyday in your work life; as in what you have to be able to read to do policing, how much writing and arithmetic is involved in all of the jobs you do; of how geography determines the advantages, and disadvantages, of building or growing anything in particular places; of how that feeds into history, not only locally, but for everywhere else, and how older people understand how good, or bad things used to be. Of how science makes it possible to have computers in the first place, as well as a beginning to understand how they work, and why someone has to tell them how to actually do things. And finally about how important it is for people to try and understand who people are, what's important to them, and how finding ways of working together, even when we don't necessarily like, or understand, everything other people believe in, is the only way we can get things done in the world, and still not hurt or kill each other in the process.

What I'm describing here is no more than an organic process integrated into the everyday life of every community. As opposed to locking kids up in "fact factories" where knowledge acquisition is no more than an assembly line of pieces slapped on, or plugged in, as haphazardly as utility and limited resources might allow. Followed by the obligatory testing to see if any of it stuck or not, and caring only insomuch as it justifies resource allocation or not.

Perhaps more importantly, however, is the fact that we would change the stark demarcation between grossly different environments; much as Marshall McLuhan lamented (back in the fifties and sixties) when he pointed out just how ridiculous it was in thinking you could maintain one information environment, trying to impart certain facts, from another larger environment where, for the rest of the day, the kids are awash in multi sense communication urging want, need, consumption, and ever more mesmerizing distraction.

What we're talking about here is direct connection with each other, and with each priority the community faces on a day to day basis. A connection that automatically propagates incentives to make things work because we are all, as a community, directly responsible for the outcome. Automatic incentives to help each other because there will always be great need for bodies and brains to be applied, and the simple fact that not everyone is going to be very good at everything. I may know everyting about programming an application, but dick about how joists should be cut and placed properly in building a house. You may know everything about fixing motors, or pumps, etc,. but very little about handling people in emotional situations. The list goes on and on.

I talk a lot about "thoughtful, loving structure." What that might be at any given moment is not so easy to define precisely because it would need to be able to be in constant motion; always adjusting itself, and accommodating new circumstances, but what one can say is that it applies a lot in how you go about achieving it; as much to say that it's just as much about process as it is about an endpoint. And in this, working together, like folks doing a quilting bee, or the Amish doing a house raising, or even folks separated now by our specialist society coming together in moments of great crisis; when all that matters is helping your neighbor. At that moment, even if only for a short time, do we achieve thoughtful, loving structure. Wouldn't it be nice if we could find a way to make that kind of interaction a more permanent state of affairs? Well... I think we can, if we put our minds to it. Especially if we give up on old notions of how things are supposed to be arranged. Easy to say, certainly, and a hell of a lot harder to actually do, but consider what might be gained if we do. Consider what might be lost if we do not.