Tuesday, May 10, 2016

the F-scale.

I now have a "new" book out, which is actually a compilation of my first two box-making books that the publisher had let go out of print.  My complimentary copies arrived by UPS today, so they will be ready to ship from Amazon within the week.

I signed a new contract, received a small advance and I went through all my old slides to bring these projects back to life. Included at the tail end of the book are the philosophical sidebars that led me to consider writing the books in the first place.

Today the upper and lower elementary students and teachers at the Clear Spring School are leaving for the spring camping trip. I'm supplying them with whittling sticks, knives and sharpeners. Yesterday we finished the garden gates. Students planed the edges of the boards to eliminate splinters, and then all the students applied paints, hands-on.

Following the end of World War II, people were left wondering how a single politician could gather so many mindlessly subservient followers and lead them to do such horrible things. Psychologists came up with a personality profile they called the Authoritarian Personality Type.  Theodor Adorno and others devised a simple test that you can take online to determine whether you are ready for mindless obedience such as that demanded by Hitler before and during WWII.
According to Adorno's theory, the elements of the Authoritarian personality type are:
  • Blind allegiance to conventional beliefs about right and wrong
  • Respect for submission to acknowledged authority
  • Belief in aggression toward those who do not subscribe to conventional thinking, or who are different
  • A negative view of people in general - i.e. the belief that people would all lie, cheat or steal if given the opportunity
  • A need for strong leadership which displays uncompromising power
  • A belief in simple answers and polemics - i.e. The media controls us all or The source of all our problems is the loss of morals these days.
  • Resistance to creative, dangerous ideas. A black and white worldview.
  • A tendency to project one's own feelings of inadequacy, rage and fear onto a scapegoated group
  • A preoccupation with violence and sex
Along the same lines, I was telling friends about the work of Herman T. Epstein, whom I've mentioned before in the blog. Epstein and others had determined that only about 30% of people were capable of rational thought, thereby presenting a great danger to American democracy.  There appears to be a relationship between the way we school our children and the potential for developing the Authoritarian Personality Type. While Herman T. Epstein is no longer with us, his explanation of the consequences, The fourth R, why johnny can't reason should be on every educator's summer reading list.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the love of learning likewise.

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