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Education : Second Thoughts Newsletters : Complete text of all the Second Thoughts Newsletters Last Updated: Sep 8th, 2009 - 08:07:52

Second Thoughts Vol. 3, No. 3, July 1981

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In this issue:


(The focus is more on issues related to MCE in this July 1981 Second Thoughts.)

-- Political literacy
-- New World Alliance
-- Social workers nix MCE
-- Power, Poverty, & Politics
-- Wisconsin MCE
-- Research in progress: Illich, Neese, Kiener, Davison Crews, Jensen, et al
-- Community Scholars' Roundtable
-- Teachers' MCE
-- Medical news
-- New Basic Choices Member
-- Ohliger on "Learning Never Ends"
-- Publications: Learning Connection, Convergence, Catholic Worker, etc.
-- Manuscripts (Bryn & Dauber)
-- Along the network: Godbey, Conroy, & McCoy
-- Phil Newton offers "A Genuine Validation Process"


One of our continuing concerns at Basic Choices has centered around the work and thought of Paulo Freire. Specifically, we have been interested in: How can we implement a post-literacy program in our North American context? What kind of learning process will facilitate a growing political awareness and collective activity on the part of participants?

A recent opportunity to work on community problem solving from a Freirean, dialogical perspective occurred when Art Lloyd of Basic Choices and Mike Sack, former President of the Madison City Council, made contact with a small group of senior citizens from several public housing projects in Madison. This group had come together over shared concerns relating to maintenance, security, and services for residents of public housing. Several meetings were held with discussion focused on developing a "grievance list."

Since the original group was quite small, the group decided to send a letter to all 11 housing projects with some 2200 residents, inviting wider participation. As a result, 64 people turned up at the next meeting, representing projects which include elderly, handicapped, and single, low Income residents. Those present have begun to work on building "grievance lists" around which some collective pressure could be organized.

The Madison Tenant Union was also represented at the larger meeting and made contact with one housing project for handicapped persons who are now in the process of organizing their own tenant union.

Another aspect which the larger group is exploring is the possibility of developing a media presentation with the help of residents to portray what life in public housing is like and what some of the problems are. The use of slides, interviews, or film would be for consciousness raising among residents about their shared lives and concerns and would perhaps even be used as a political tool for securing better services — if, for example, such media were shown publicly.

Although it is too early to assess how useful this experience will be as an attempt to create political consciousness and action, it seems clear to us that at least with the present participants, it is important to begin with some kind of common action. The action will give us a common experience from which to learn, as well as provide a means for breaking out of the tendencies to individualize both experience and response.


As the tide of MCE seems to be turning back at least for some groups in some states, concern about it is beginning to spread to general interest and national political organizations. The recently formed New World Alliance convened in Washington, D.C. and adopted a "transformation platform" with a plank calling for the discontinuance of MCE for teachers and other professionals.

The Alliance was born from a process of cross-country networking by Mark Satin, author of New Age Politics (New York: Delta paperback, 1979).

In its platform the Alliance contends that MCE is "principally a device to make work for educational bureaucrats and experts and increases taxpayer costs." The platform also has this to say about licensing: "Mandatory occupational and professional licensing has too often been a scheme to limit entry and maintain profits for a privileged few. In most cases, such licensing should be converted to voluntary certification, but only when full information to prospective consumers can be provided."

The Alliance claims it is working to foster a politics of hope, healing, rediscovery, human growth, ecology, participation, appropriate scale, globalism, technological creativity, and spirituality. For more information write New World Alliance, 733 15th St., N.W., #1131, Washington, DC 20005. Or call (202) 347-6082.


The March 1981 issue of the NASW (Nation al Association of Social Workers) News reports that NASW's Board of Directors voted in February to reverse a 1976 policy requiring 90 hours of continuing education every three years for renewal of ACSW (Academy of Certified Social Workers) certification. The MCE requirement had originally been adopted as an alternative to requiring periodic examinations for recertification. However, the MCE policy "proved administratively complex and costly to implement." Furthermore, the effectiveness of MCE to assure competent practitioners was increasingly called into question.

Howard Prunty, Chair of the Competence Certification Board, which recommended the reversal, said: "Research to date shows no demonstrable relationship between continuing education and continued competence, and actually the focus on continuing education may divert attention from a pressing professional problem: how to assess and ensure competence."

The NASW News also reports that the Board voted to establish continuing education standards for social workers and agencies for voluntary participation, as well as standards for providers of continuing education. However, the issue of what should be required to re-certify ACSW members has not yet been resolved. Perhaps it won't be satisfactorily resolved as long as the NASW insists upon looking only at the tip of the iceberg.


Basic Choices recently cosponsored a series of three one day conferences on Power, Poverty, and Politics with ten other community and university groups in Madison. Attempts were made to get beyond conventional thinking about these themes in these days of profound social transformation. Conferences took place at the University of Wisconsin, a local neighborhood center, and a nearby residential adult education center over three Saturdays in February, March, and May.

Keynote speakers were: Kirkpatrick Sale, author of Human Scale (New York: Coward, McCann, & Geoghegan, 1980), on Power; Sister Leona Sullivan of the Peace and Justice Center in Lansing, Michigan, on Poverty; and Jane Mansbridge, author of Beyond Adversary Democracy (New York: Basic Books, 1980), on Politics.

Between 100 and 150 persons attended each session. Keynote speeches were followed by reactor panels of community activists and academic humanists with many additional small group discussions. Reactions from participants have been highly favorable. Tapes of each conference are available from one of the co-sponsors, Madison Urban Ministry, 1127 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53715.


In April of this year the Madison, Wisconsin City Council passed an ordinance requiring all of the several thousand holders of beer or wine sales or tavern licenses to take a course on "alcohol abuse." One local councilman told us it was supported by the dealers themselves to take the pressure off demands for prohibiting take out sales of beer in bars after the liquor stores close.

Wisconsin has some other interesting forms of MCE, including a counseling requirement for all couples who want to get divorced which amounts to sitting in a packed classroom for an evening, and "group dynamics" courses for drunk drivers. One recipient of the eight session "group dynamics" course reported (Isthmus, March 6, 1981) that all the students "spent the time staring at each other's shoes and looking at the clock, which has never moved so slowly in all my recollection, not even as a kid in grade school."


Ivan Illich

Ivan Illich (APDO 479, Cuernavaca, Mexico) author of Deschooling Society, Medical Nemesis and other books, is preparing yet another, tentatively titled The War Against Subsistence. Drafts of essays as "work in progress" for this book have just appeared as part of the Open Forum series published by Marion Boyars, Inc. (99 Main St., Salem, NH 03079). It's called Shadow Work ($5.95 in paperback). Peter Berger reviewing it for the New York Times (March 8, 1981) says the essays are "brilliant, intensely argued, full of erudition, idiosyncratic, simultaneously irritating and inspiring."

Recently, Basic Choices held a small group discussion on the provocative title essay. "Shadow Work" is Illich's term for "unpaid work...unique to the industrial economy (which) ravages subsistence." Most housework fits here, as does, apparently, most MCE. As a result of our discussion we wrote Illich for some clarification and he has promised us a three page paper for future publication in ST on his current views re: MCE and education in general.

Lila Neese

Lila Neese (9431 SW 64th Terrace, Miami, FL 33173) is preparing a paper on the Continuing Education Unit (CEU) as a form of social control and as an aspect of MCE.

Mary Kiener

Mary Kiener (Enderis 653, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201), is doing a study on the legal challenges to MCE including the Harrah vs. Martin Supreme Court decision.

Estlle Davison Crews

Estlle Davison Crews (7001 Rene St., Shawnee, KS 66216) is researching "the impact of state legislation on mandated requirements (MCE) and the reasons why some states have remained voluntary." The questionnaire she has sent out focuses on MCE for nurses.

Walter Jensen and Sharon Merriam

Walter Jensen (College of Business, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061) writes that he and Sharon Merriam in the VPI College of Education "are conducting research concerning MCE requirements for professionals in ALL FIELDS." They seek data "pertaining to licensing requirements covered by public statutes or laws," and say they "are interested in studying this phenomenon (MGE) on a national basis for each individual state."

Jean-Claude Cuzzi & Jeff Mitchiner

Two related dissertations are in progress. Jean Claude Cuzzi (French Cultural Services, 2030 Union St., San Francisco, CA 94123) is researching the "North American origins of Ivan Illich's pedagogical theory." And Jeff Mitchiner (Creative Learning Center, 809 Myrtle St., NE, Atlanta, GA 30308) is working on a thesis with the tentative title "In Defense of Man: The Humanist Case for Individual Liberty and Social Justice Versus Social Planning and Institutional Control of Learning in the Deschooling Argument of Everett Reimer." Reimer was Illich's companion and mentor on their mutual criticism of schooling and wrote School Is Dead.

Council of State Governments

According to Beverly Watkins in the March 9, 1981 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Council of State Governments in Lexington, Kentucky is forming a clearinghouse on Licensure Enforcement and Regulation so state licensing officials can exchange information on laws for certifying members of the professions, on MCE requirements, and on enforcement of these laws. We'll be sure the Clearinghouse receives a complimentary copy of Second Thoughts so they'll know what the really bright people are saying about the MCE issue.


Last fall Basic Choices sponsored a colloquium with Ron Gross, nationally known author on education, and director of the first national project for the study and advocacy of Independent Scholarship. Ron defines Independent Scholarship as doing "significant research without academic affiliation." Thirty-five persons participated in the Madison colloquium and several expressed an interest in a continuing group. As a result, a core group of Independent Scholars met and planned the first in a series of "Community Scholars' Roundtables." Since then, there have been five more such meetings.

The Roundtables are for persons who are doing research without the traditional support or control from universities, large corporations, or governments to meet and share their ideas, information, experiences, research, and energy in order to strengthen participants' research activities.


At its most recent meeting, the Roundtable was privileged to once again have Ron as a guest. This time Ron focused on the practical problems and solutions the nuts and bolts of doing research independently, such as how to obtain financial support, how to find publishing and teaching opportunities, and how to get access to resources.

According to Ron, several other larger cities are beginning to form Roundtables, thanks to his pioneering work in this area. For more information read his article in The New York Times (September 9, 1979) "Scholarship Is Their Joy, But Not Their Job," or write him at 17 Myrtle Drive, Great Neck, New York 11021. Also, watch for his upcoming book, on Independent Scholarship In 1982.


Dave Lisman of Basic Choices has published two articles on MCE and teachers in the past year after interviewing Mary Jane Martin, the subject of the recent Supreme Court decision "Harrah Independent School District et al versus Mary Jane Martin (No. 78 443)." (See ST Vol. 2, No. 2, October 1979, p. 16.)

Martin was a tenured teacher who taught Physical Education, Business, and typing while coaching high school basketball and volleyball in the evenings in a small school district near Oklahoma City. She was denied contract renewal in 1974 by the Harrah School Board when she declined to comply with a local requirement that teachers holding a bachelor's degree must earn five semester hours of college credit every three years.

Martin appealed through the courts on the basis of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Oklahoma courts and a federal district court decided against her, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled she had been denied due process of law. However, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the appellate court and upheld her firing in February 1979.

Lisman: "Will MCE enrich lives?'

In his articles, Lisman asks, Will such [MCE] serve to enrich lives, to foster happiness and well being or will it instead, as I suspect, encourage an even more highly competitive and stratified society of people who may have limited mastery of testable skills but a reduced capacity to understand the society they serve?"

For more of Lisman's insights and more details on the case read his articles "MCE and Teachers," Phi Delta Kappa. October 1980, pp. 125-126, and "Should Continuing Education Be Mandated?" American Educator, Summer 1980, pp. 29-31.


Whether the growing opposition to MCE in the medical field is an indication that health care professionals are beginning to question what they do to people in the name of medicine is unclear. But it is clear that financial questions are involved.


The American Medical Association, supported by other medical groups, now calls for a moratorium on MCE, in part, because MCE "has been commercialized, resulting in costly and questionably effective continuing medical education courses." The AHA resolution (See Continuing Medical Education Newsletter, Nov. 1980) also concludes that MCE "may give the public a false sense of security as to the competence of physicians." Indeed!

A Billion Dollar Industry

As Ronald Sullivan points out in the New York Times (Sept. 7, 1980), "Continuing Education for physicians is becoming a billion dollar industry.... CME has become an increasingly lucrative source of revenue, especially for universities near resort areas that can fill empty classrooms in the summer with physicians who can meet their (MCE) requirements and take a vacation at the same time."

A sprightly new publication The Press, (well worth looking at for its coverage of often unreported stories especially about the media themselves, write 33 Peters Place, Red Bank, MJ 07701 for a sample) carried a story recently with the headline: "The country club scheme that mocks medical education." Fred Schulte, a reporter for The Medical Tribune, points out in The Press that the AMA has accredited a MCE program housed in a "plush" $1,000 a month suite at a Fort Lauderdale resort hotel and country club. Students are billed $109 an hour for MCE credits, in addition, are required to stay at the hotel at rates reaching $355 a night. The hotel boasts two golf courses, two swimming pools, 30 tennis courts, health studios, billiard and backgammon parlors, a gourmet restaurant, and a disco.

As the surgeon who started the program told The Press reporter, "Doctors don't want to go back to medical school and sit on a hard chair. They need a place to study that is comfortable." Apparently, they've found it, and with the AMA's blessing.

John McKnight

But all may not be as hopeless as the above seems. John McKnight at Northwestern University's Center for Urban Affairs has spent a lot of time recently talking with physicians and other professionals. He writes: "In the last few years I have spoken to numerous professional associations regarding the degrading professional 'manufacture of need' and the iatrogenic effects of professionalized service. While one might expect a negative reaction to this message, the response by professionals in subsequent question periods, workshops, and dialogue sessions is almost always positive. Instead of an argument, I find professionals consistently giving me examples of their own useless and iatrogenic activities." John wrote this in an unpublished paper but for more of his helpful views see his chapter in Disabling Professions (Salem, NH: Marion Boyars Publishers, 1977).


Basic Choices, Inc. recently invited Vince Kavaloski, an independent scholar and former professor at the progressive Shimer College, to join our staff and Board. Vince will be working about ten hours a week, mostly on fundraising. He has already been involved in several aspects of Basic Choices work including: being the first speaker at the Community Scholars' Roundtable (topic: "The Socratic Amateur as Independent Scholar"), meeting with community persons who use our Resource Center, and taking on a number of administrative duties. Vince's insights and abilities have been refreshing to all of us here at Basic Choices. Welcome!


by John Ohliger

(The following is adapted from a talk I gave at the close of the Second Annual Conference of the Illinois Adult & Continuing Educators' Association (IACEA) in late March. The theme of the conference was CHOICES '81. Among the questions Noreen Lopez, the Conference Coordinator, posed for us all to consider were these: "What are the alternatives to schooling for the learner who wants to choose a less traditional approach?" and "What are the roles and responsibilities of the adult educator in the larger society and in the improvement of education at all levels?")

Here is my positive and personal image of the future. Few people doubt that the future will be very different. Most thoughtful observers agree that we are in the midst of a profound social transformation leading to some kind of a post-industrial society. But these same observers differ greatly about what kind of a society it will be. My picture is of a future where we live more relaxed and more modest lives with an abundance of unmeasurable and infinitely available non-material (or better, trans-material) resources. All the travail and pressure we're going through right now may be paving the way for that future. This future could be one where we will have a choice of "goodies;" not ones requiring scarce energy, minerals, or dollars; or ones permitting some people to get rich while others go hungry, but choices that we create out of our own hearts and heads and hands among people we know and care for. Many other people share this view of the future. One book, which presents this image as a hopeful possibility, is Kirkpatrick Sale's Human Scale (New York: Coward, McCann & Geohegan, 1980).

How do we get to this better future? Of course, there are many paths. Here is one way we as learners and adult educators can be part of a path.

Those of you who listened to Mike Vance, the former Dean of the University of Disney land, lead off this conference earlier this week heard him say that we're still suffering from the load of guilt dropped on us by our Puritan ancestors. H.L. Mencken once defined a Puritan as one who has a haunting fear that someone, somewhere might just possibly be enjoying a single moment of happiness.

Vance said that our historic heritage from our Puritan forefathers and foremothers is an overload of "oughts" or "shoulds," but then Mike himself laid a "should" on us: we should be able to experience ecstasy (and agony) every day if we will drop many of those Puritan "oughts." Though I enjoyed Mike's speech very much, that was one of .the few things I agreed with him about. But even here we need to be a little cautious about the "shoulds." A life spent in ecstasy and agony would be like a life on a never-ending roller coaster ride, or on the Matterhorn at Disneyland that Mike kept plugging. We would soon get very tired of it. A moderate approach to the highs and lows of life is certainly worth considering. "Every thing in Moderation, Including Moderation," reads the illustrated postcard that Ron Gross, the author of The Lifelong Learner, once sent me. Maybe he was trying to tell me something.

What I'm getting at for us as learners and as adult educators is that we might want to practice some of that moderation or balance when it comes to our oft repeated slogans like LIFELONG LEARNING or LEARNING NEVER ENDS. One more thing that Mike Vance said that I agreed with was that there are often, in addition to the Teachable Moments, Non-Teachable Moments, Non-Learning Moments. A life spent in the never-ending pursuit of learning would be very narrow and probably impossible. When would there be time for feeling and doing? If LEARNING NEVER ENDS, then living never begins! We really don't need to continually lay such Puritan guilt trips on others and on ourselves.

If all this sounds like sheer blasphemy at an adult educators' conference, I assure you that this cautionary view has a long tradition of support. To prepare for this talk I looked up the word "learning" in about fifteen books of quotations at the library where I work part time as a clerk in Madison, Wisconsin. Here are just a few of the choice morsels of the hundreds I found:

"Learning is but an adjunct to ourself," wrote William Shakespeare in Love's Labour's Lost.

Benjamin Franklin, who some call the "Founding Father of American Adult Education," (I've always wondered who the "Founding Mother" was), said: "A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one." Even more to the point, was Franklin's saying: "He was so learned that he could name a horse in nine languages; so ignorant that he bought a cow to ride on."

This view of learning goes back many hundreds of years. In The New Testament of The Bible, Acts of the Apostles we find: "Much learning doth make thee mad," in the Satyricon of Petronius, "We know that you are mad with much learning." And later in Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy: "Out of too much learning become mad."

In the sixteenth century the French essayist Montaigne declared, "We need but little learning to live happily." And Ron Gross says that Montaigne's only personal motto asked simply, "What do I know?"

We have all heard of Pope's "A little learning is a dangerous thing." But the modern American editor William Allen White countered with, "A little learning is not a dangerous thing to one who does not mistake it for a great deal."

And our own President Teddy Roosevelt said, "A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad."

Margaret Ayer Barnes said it even more simply, "Character comes before scholarship." Or as this old English proverb notes, "Learning makes the wise wiser, and the fool more foolish."

Of course, these quotations refer to only one type of learning the type that I believe is still over-dominant in our industrial scientistic technofix society as we go through the narrow tunnel into the better future. Call it conscious skill building, official knowledge, storing up knowledge, classification of information, structured knowledge, etc. This type of learning, while very valuable often threatens to overtake our active lives. It needs to be balanced with another type of learning. Some would deny that this second type of learning is learning at all because the results of it can't be regurgitated on a test or measured objectively in some kind of a performance evaluation as official knowledge can. Call this second type, after Ivan Illich in Tools for Conviviality (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), Personal Knowledge. It comes from "Yada," a Hebrew verb for knowing. When we say "We knew each other in the Biblical sense," we're talking about this kind of learning: direct, personal, spontaneous, unrepeatable, non-replicable, intercourse with reality itself. Learning as experience, not learning from experience. Not learning something, but learning PERIOD.

People getting together through Freirean groups, learning networks, free universities, or in other self-directed learning projects like independent scholarship, are often engaged in this Personal Knowledge type of learning, as well as others.

People joining together as equals to keep foreign troops and weapons out of El Salvador, or to help end dependence on nuclear power, get rid of nuclear weapons, and foster alter native sources of energy, find they are learning in action, not just by conscious study.

If we take a more modest view of LIFELONG LEARNING and work toward a better balance between Official and Personal Knowledge, we as adult educators and as just plain people will be going a long way toward meeting our individual and social responsibilities in the coming years. And we will be helping ourselves and others move toward a better future where, instead of today's mainly cosmetic choices, there will be real choices that we can cherish.

One last quotation that I found sums it up. The novelist Taylor Caldwell wrote, "Learning should be a joy and full of excitement. It is life's greatest adventure; it is an illustrated excursion into the mind's noble and learned humanity, not a conducted tour through a jail. So its surroundings should be as gracious as possible."
The Learning Connection

The Spring 1981 issue of The Learning Connection (1221 Thurston, Manhattan, KS 66502) contains an exclusive interview with the recently retired executive director of the Adult Education Association of the U.S.A. Linda Hartsock's first response to the question "What issues or themes do you see for adult education in the near future?" was, "MCE is a raging debate. It is more front and center now, and will continue to be."

Perspectives in Adult Learning & Development

Volume I, Number 1 (Spring 1981) of Perspectives in Adult Learning and Development (College of Education, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506) carries a thoughtful piece by Ralph Brockett on "The MCE Debate: A Policy Perspective."


"Professionalism in science and technology, as in adult education, is said to serve clients' needs but is often, instead, self serving. Knowledge is held within restricted circles rather than being freely disseminated. The amorphousness of adult education should be seen as a strength, and adult education should not be fenced off as a distinct, exclusive, professional territory."

From Convergence, Volume 13, Number 3, 1980 (PO Box 250, Station F, Toronto, Canada M4Y 2L5). Special issue on poverty & aid.

Economic & Political Weekly

Ross Kidd (35 Charles St. West, #414, Toronto, Canada M4Y 1R6) has sent us an excellent and trenchant article he and Krishna Kumar did for the January 3, 1981 issue of Economic & Political Weekly called "Co-opting Freire: A Critical Analysis of Pseudo Freirean Adult Education." This article is a "must read" for anyone interested in the work of World Education, Inc. in adult literacy (AIM, etc.). It shows what a shrewd predictor Rick Williams was when he wrote in a 1971 issue of Convergence (Vol. IV, No. 2) that "Freire's word will be co opted."

The Catholic Worker

Lee Hoinacki (RR 2, Cobden, IL 62920) was a prominent university professor until about three years ago he quit and moved to a farm with his family. In "Culture and Cultivation" (The Catholic Worker. March 1981) Lee discusses his rural experiences in light of philosophy drawn from Aristotle, Sophocles, the Bible, Wendell Berry, Ivan Illich, and elsewhere.

What intrigues us is the distinction between the necessity and the joy of learning he and his family experienced on the farm and the attempts to impose learning through MCE in so much of urban society. It's an absorbing and profound article well worth your time. If you can't locate it, write Lee and he might send you a copy.

Social Theory & Practice

Carl Hedman has done a masterful job on the differences and similarities in the work of Ivan Illich and Jonathan Kozol in "Illich, Kozol, and Rousseau on Public Education" in the Fall 1980 issue of Social Theory and Practice.

Adult Learner on Campus

Jerry Apps has a new Follett book out called The Adult Learner on Campus which has this to say about MCE: "The results of MCE have a profound effect, not only on the professionals who may participate only because they are forced to, but also on the learning environment generally.... Interestingly, enough there is no clear research evidence so far to show that, because someone has been forced to participate in continuing education, he or she performs any better on the job."

Jossey-Bass Series

In ST for November 1978 (Vol. I, No. 2) we announced that Jossey Bass Publishers would soon be coming out with a book edited by Burt Kreitlow containing two MCE related chapters- Kathy Rockhlll on "In Opposition to Mandatory Continuing Professional Education," and Emanual Corso on "Lifelong Learning Ought Not Become Lifelong Schooling."

Now more than two years later the book has finally come out as Examining Controversies in Adult Education, but without Corso's interesting chapter. Basic Choices also had a chapter requested and accepted for the same Jossey-Bass series in a book edited by Bob Boyd and Jerry Apps called Redefining the Discipline of Adult Education. It didn't appear in the published version either. Could it be writing chapters that are accepted by editors, then rejected by "higher ups," is a new more subtle form of MCE for some dissenting adult educators?

Other Networks

Seth Horowitz is one of the editors of a helpful new newsletter called Other Networks (P.O. Box 14066, Philadelphia, PA 19123) "devoted to promoting better, more efficient, self-organizing communications among people in communities everywhere." Write Seth for a sample copy.


From time to time we receive manuscripts which are far too long to print and much too good to condense. Here are some excerpts to whet your appetite:

Steiner Bryn
Steiner Bryn (Radyrveien 3a7, Oslo 5, Norway) has produced a 130 page gem, based on his experiences in the United States and elsewhere, called "Toward a Personalistic Politics:"

"Out of [the present] chaos I see a new guiding philosophy emerging,... from the fringes of present social movements, or actually the meeting ground of feminists, men’s liberation, human potential, spiritual, non-violent action, humanistic education, decentralization, deinstitutionalization, simple living, appropriate technology, third world, and human rights activists. While the participation only includes a small minority, it is widespread over the Western world...My major sources of inspiration are political parties, social movements and individual authors operating in different Western countries, independent of each other, but addressing the same phenomena.

"Political parties such as the Ecological Party (England), 'The Greens' (France), the 'Green' partei (Germany), The Citizens Party (U.S.), and Venstre (A Norwegian environmental party). Social movements such as Turning Point (England), Movement for a New Society and New World Alliance (U.S.), 'Revolt from the Middle' (See the English translation of the Danish Revolt from the Center, just published by Marion Boyars in the U.S.), and 'The Future in our Hands' (Norway). Individual authors such as Ivan Illich (Mexico), James Robertson and E.F. Schumacher (England), Ole Thyssen (Denmark), Ted Roszak and Mark Satin (U.S.), or Erik Damman and Olav Benestad (Norway)....

"The important question we must address is: How does the humanistic image of the person translate into action?...Within the human potential movement social change is viewed as composed primarily of changes in individual consciousness. It is this subjectivistic limitation we must transcend...Carl Rogers has recently started to ask: What are the political implications of my work? He has worked with opposing groups in Northern Ireland, oppressed people in Brazil and groups consisting of blacks and whites. His conclusion is that 'personal growth' helps the people involved to a clearer understanding of the causes of their oppression, and to a clearer perception of what can be done about these causes. Rogers states that his own theories are close to those of Paulo Freire, a man who certainly cannot be accused of neglecting the more pressing issues of poverty and oppression."

[Ed. note: In On Personal Power (Mew York: Delta paperback, 1977) Rogers states:
"Freire's book. The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, was first published in Portuguese in 1968 and translated into English in 1970. My book, Freedom to Learn, was published in 1969. There is no indication that he had ever heard of my work, and I had never heard of his....Yet the principles he has come to build his work on are so completely similar to the principles of Freedom to Learn that I found myself open mouthed with astonishment....! concur with Freire's basic views. I have already indicated, in speaking of education, that I would extend the basic principles, on which we both seem to agree, to all learning situations."]

Heinrich Dauber

Heinrich Dauber (Gesamthochschule Kassel FB 1. Postf. 101380, 3500 Kassel, West Germany) is known to some of our readers for his work with intercultural seminars in Canada, Mexico, England, France, and Germany. He has sent a 70 page manuscript titled "From 'Learning to Be' to the 'Human Dilemma': the 80s as a Challenge to Adult Educators and the 'Future of the One World'." Here is his summary of the first portion:

"We started with the slogan 'participatory learning,' a manifestation of expansionist
educational ideologies as promoted by UNESCO, OECD, and the Club of Rome in an attempt to implant not only the 'whole of life,' and the 'one world,' but also the 'future of humanity' in the consciousness of the Western public as learning problems which can be solved by institutional means.

"...At an analytical level it is useful to talk of the 'indivisible future of the one world,' but that this concept does not constitute a starting point for mass re-learning processes, since it cannot be experienced in practice. The internal contradictions and social development limitations in the one-sided economic progress of all embracing industrialization, become evident when we consider daily experience the destruction of autonomous abilities and 'natural' environments. This destruction is also taking place in and around our educational institutions, of all places.

"...Increasing numbers of people have begun to form citizens' action groups, to assume responsibility for their own interests, to found ecological and peace movements, to call for the limitation of deadly technologies and weapons systems, and to unite in small groups to try out new and culturally independent ways of life.... The learning process which is a feature of such groups runs in exactly the opposite direction from the logic of institutional learning processes."


Gordon Godbey

Gordon Godbey, Professor of Adult and Higher Education, Pennsylvania State University: " A comment on the quote from Ernest Mann ("If a system is making people sick should we attempt to cure the people and place them back into the system, or should we change the system?") in the February 1981 ST. The system indeed makes some people sick; all systems do. Probably some people would be sick of the harps in Heaven, wondering what happened to rock-n-roll, or Blue Grass. But the real question is 'How many or what percent of the people are made sick?' We must decide on whether the percent of sickened folk constitutes a just cause for change; and what kind of change; and how it can best be 'pulled off.' I do recall that both Jefferson and Lincoln said, and I agree, that if the government is wrong, the people have the right (if not always the power) to tear it up and start over. But that's a pretty tall order, and a lot of people get hurt. So let's be pretty damned clear what we are suggesting....The field of practice, as well as the field of study of adult education needs your continued voice and presence. Godspeed!"

Barbara Conroy

Barbara Conroy (Box 502, Tabernash, CO 80478) has sent us this from the March 1, 1981 Denver Post: "Colorado's turnaround on MCE has attracted national attention....Persons.. .who might gain financially from MCE tried to add continuing education to a number of regulatory agencies' licensing requirements. They were defeated in each instance and the Legislature removed such requirements from optometrists and real estate salesmen. Attempts to increase the number of mandatory hours for many professions were defeated and in several instances, such as physicians, the number of required hours were cut in half.... The state saved more than $100,000 a year in appropriations by not having to hire additional staff to monitor programs and count lecture hours taken.... " This is all due to Colorado's "Sunset Laws," says the article.

Mike McCoy

Mike McCoy with University of California Extension in Davis writes: "Lest you think your work is in vain, let me say that California is one of the few states with landscape architects licenses that does not have MCE. The reason for this is that I am a public member of the licensing board and I do not think MCE is in the consumer's interest. As chair of the board's Education Committee, I have regularly headed off these proposals. Your influence on my considerations has been considerable."


by Phil Newton, 150 Main Street Saranac Lake, NY 12983

(EDITORS' NOTE: As reported in Second Thoughts for October 1979, at the June 1979 Highlander Conference on MCE Frank Adams, Anne Fitzgerald, and Jane Vella "prepared a proposal for a genuine validation process as opposed to the present rigid, top-down certification and credentialing systems." Phil's proposal below is a similar one. Your comments are solicited.)

There must be about ten million people out there who have the desire and the ability needed to master any number of crafts, skills, etc., who are being short-circuited by the Corporate/Educational/Governmental Complex. Everyone, from bakers to electricians to health care providers to farmers. And there is a demand for such people if they are willing to work for less than twenty dollars an hour. Why not try to take a bite out of the Big Complex by starting up an "alternative apprenticeship locating service." But don't use the word "alternative"! My proposal in the February 1981 Second Thoughts on pages 5 & 6 could be a subset of this:

[1] Compile a list of potential sites focusing on hang-loose types, for instance, the alternative bakery, the independent electrician, the quasi-organic farmer.

[2] Send a simple questionnaire to each of these sites to this effect: "Would you be willing to take on apprentices for an agreed upon period of time, promising to give the apprentices enough experience to become fairly competent, if they have some natural ability?" Pay would be an option, not a pre-condition.

[3] If there is sufficient response, recruit apprentices, match, and monitor them. Some negotiation would be necessary before and during the experience to make sure nobody is being ripped off.

[4] "Certification" could be through a letter countersigned by you and the site to • the effect that, for instance: "Phil Newton served an apprenticeship with our bakery from June to August 1981. He has mastered to our satisfaction the production of whole wheat and French bread, croissants, and cookies. He has also mastered the paperwork it takes to run a bakery. He is honest, dependable, and a good worker. I wholeheartedly recommend him as a baker."

[5] Along with providing learning, this process would serve as:

[A] A covert alternative employment service, since many sites would end up hiring the apprentices, although there would be no mention or assumption of this in negotiations between the site and the participants. The internships provided by Northern Illinois University and other graduate programs, in business, education, etc., result in hundreds of jobs by giving employers a no-risk chance to try out new employees without the unpleasantness of having to fire those who don't work out.

[B] A facilitator of communication and understanding among individuals and groups. The curious college student could learn what it is like to be a farmer, the computer executive what it is like to be a displaced homemaker, that is, by having her as an apprentice.

[C] It would also embrace positive personal growth. Remember that study that found that the only people who really made positive change in prison inmates were prison tradesmen working with prisoner helper-apprentices? It was because each depended on the other as more or less equals, rather than as helper helpee, a la doctors and patients, lawyers and clients, etc.

[D] It would admittedly, if successful, swell the ranks of the underground, unauthorized economy. Great! Let's have no tears for the doctor or plumber, who by virtue of artificial education and certification barriers, have been screwing us individually and socially for, lo, these many years. And none of that crap about one victim climbing out of oppression over the shoulders of her/his sisters and brothers. She or he will be fixing houses that have gone unfixed, providing health care at reasonable rates, food at reasonable prices. The affluent don't need this and will pass it up for providers with "real" credentials. Those who need alternative goods and services will be getting them, at least,, .from their neighbors.
Second Thoughts is a newsletter designed to serve as a link in a network of persons concerned with raising basic questions about mandatory continuing education (MCE) and related issues.

It is published by Basic Choices, Inc., which is a project in values clarification of Madison Campus Ministry, 731 State St., Madison, WI 53703. Members of the group are John Hill, Vincent Kavaloski, David Lisman, Art Lloyd, Sue Lloyd, Mark McFadden, John Ohliger, Vern Visick, and Chris Wagner.

For the newsletter to continue we need responses from you, including: suggestions, criticisms, comments, articles, subscriptions ($10 for individuals, $15 for institutions), and tax-deductible contributions. PLEASE CONSIDER RENEWING THE SUBSCRIPTION IF IT'S A YEAR OLD. WE DON'T HAVE THE FACILITIES TO SEND OUT RENEWAL NOTICES. ALSO, WE JUST RECENTLY RECEIVED OUR NON PROFIT STATUS FROM THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, SO ANY CONTRIBUTION TO BASIC CHOICES IS NOW TAX DEDUCTIBLE.



The June 1981 issue of Lifelong Learning-The Adult Years carries a "Dialogue on MCE" between John Ohliger of Basic Choices and Roxie Smith of the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education. If you can't get it elsewhere, send us a stamped self addressed envelope and we'll mail you a copy. Ditto for "The Social Uses of Theorizing in Adult Education" in the Fall 1980 issue of Adult Education. which was a collective effort of Basic Choices, not an individual effort, as incorrectly stated in the journal.


The Task Force Report (on MCE) of the AEA/USA Task Force on Voluntary Learning reported on extensively in the last issue of ST has now gone into a second printing. It is now available from AEA/USA (not from NAVL), 810 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20006. Price: $3.50 for AEA members, $5.00

© Copyright 2004 John

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Complete text of all the Second Thoughts Newsletters
New Additions
Second Thoughts Vol. 1 No. 1 May 1978
Second Thoughts Vol. 1, No. 2, November, 1978
Second Thoughts Vol. 2, No. 1, April 7, 1979
Second Thoughts Vol. 2, No. 2, October 1979
Second Thoughts Vol. 2, No. 3, April 1980
Second Thoughts Vol. 3, No. 1, October 1980
Second Thoughts Vol. 3, No. 2, February 1981
Second Thoughts Vol. 3, No. 3, July 1981
Second Thoughts Vol. 4, No. 1, October 1981
Second Thoughts Vol. 4, No. 2, January 1982