From John Ohliger.org

Complete text of all the Second Thoughts Newsletters
Second Thoughts Vol. 2, No. 1, April 7, 1979


In this Issue:

Highlander Conference Set for June 1-3
Ohliger/Lisman Response Good
A 30 Billion Dollar Market for MCE?
Theobald Builds Network
Professional & Reformer: Work of McKnight
"Parenting Skills" to be Required?
Existentialism and MCE
Caveats on Lifelong Learning/Sam Brightman
AHA & MCE
Librarians and MCE: Some Suggestions
The Story Behind the Story

Highlander Conference set for June 1-3 in Tennessee

As we noted in ST 2, an organizational meeting for those concerned about MCE and related issues will be held at the Highlander Center, near Knoxville, Tennessee. Through the responses received from an initial mailing sent to some 150 persons interested in this broad concern, we have established the dates—June 1-3—as well as made tentative plans for format and content.

The feedback from the 75 or so respondents indicated that many wished a flexible and informal structure in which to explore together in some depth both the "problem" in terms of definition and ramification, as well as alternatives to MCE. They also indicated an interest in having the opportunity to meet in small groups as well as a chance for suggestions about, and leadership of, workshops by participants. It should be added that some indicated their desire that the conference not be limited to a single issue, but locate MCE within a broader social context.

Beginning with registration on Friday afternoon, June 1, this organizational conference will conclude with a Sunday morning plenary session at which reports from the task groups meeting the previous day will be heard and strategies and plans for the future discussed.

We appreciate the many suggestions received and will be glad to share a summary of this feedback as well as more information about the conference schedule with any of our readers who may request such.

As of this writing we have 25 reservations and another 10 have indicated interest but are not yet clear whether their schedules and/or finances will permit their attendance. Over and above travel, the costs of the conference are $40. Some scholarship assistance is available. Highlander can, incidentally, accommodate a maximum of 35 people.

Early June is a lovely time in the Tennessee hill in which Highlander is located. Highlander also has played a significant and historic role in many of the struggles for a better society in the Appalachian region and throughout the South, from its beginning in 1932 to the present. These added attractions make it an excellent place in which to continue together our own reflection and action in relation to the issues of social control, freedom and equity—of which the struggle against MCE represents for us a tangible expression. We hope that others of our readers may be able to join us for this organizational meeting.

Ohliger/Lisman Response Good

There has been a very favorable response to the Lisman and Ohliger article, "Must we All go Back to School?" published in the October, 1978 issue of The Progressive.

The article was reviewed in the "Notable Current Articles" section of The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 16, 1978. "Must We All Go Back to School?" so far has been or will be published in at least five publications, including the Lifelong Learner and the Adult Years.

The authors have also received at Basic Choices many valuable comments about the article. There have been responses from graduate students and faculty from Harvard, Columbia, Berkeley, several Canadian universities as well as independent educators.

Here are several excerpts from letters. Barbara J. Wrede, who has been involved in college education for twenty-six years and is getting ready for her second bid for the U.S. Congress in Fortuna, California, writes, "I read your article with excitement, as I had thought I was alone in my distrust of and disappointment in so called 'continuing education'...! have sat at curriculum committee meetings where the hot topic of discussion was, 'How do we cash in on the new ruling that says nurses must take units to qualify for relicensing?'—or some variation of that theme, as you point out in your article. Often the courses are scratched together by someone with little or no expertise in the field of study, and staffed by what is quaintly called 'a teacher of record', which means that some teacher lends her/his name and credential to cover the class, while the actual instruction is done by someone else, generally ineligible for a teaching credential... Your analysis of one of the misuses of these continuing education classes—to force the poor and the nonproductive to view their poverty as stemming from some lack within themselves rather than from a planned economy that plans them out—is a very important point and one that needs wider circulation."

John G. Hurst, Professor of Education, University of California, Berkeley, writes, "Your article strikes me as accurate and to the point with respect to compulsory mis-education for Adults. One more tip of a gigantic iceberg growing at a generally subconscious level to fully mechanize and turn the human species into objects...The license, the credential becomes the criteria, not the existential human being."

Finally Elizabeth Noble writes, "One of the interesting aspects of the article is the implication of growth of compulsory education ...That this trend is big business is proven by a simple review of corporate expenditures and of government expenditures in the area of education and training. The Department of Labor expenditures, which are used in various training programs, now are multimillion dollar operations. Xerox and IBM, not to mention the insurance industry, are spending millions on training. Of course the professions and the Departments of education are also in line... Schools are set up as mini production plants; persons are trained to respond to authoritarian structures, the training and education received places them into tracks or channels through which they can expect to achieve mobility, and so on. The power to imply to any group that they have certain deficiencies and to imply that these can be remedied through certain educational experiences is impressive, but is also needed by a capitalistic system which must control human resources as well as material and capital resources."

How Your University Can Capitalize on a 30 Billion Market

That's the topic of a conference to be put on this spring by the University of Tampa. Phyllis Cunningham has sent us a copy of a large ad in the February 13th issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education with those words in bold type at the top.

The ad continues: "The experts have hoisted the warning signals. And college and university administrators had better read them correctly. Because the strategies you blueprint today could make or break your in situation tomorrow. Soon there will be tremendous changes to cope with: sharply declining enrollments; budget cuts; soaring costs. But instead of dwelling on these problems, it's time to focus on the unprecedented opportunity that awaits your institution. Three distinct Continuing Education markets have recently emerged:

"Two of these three markets are related to MCE: (1) "Short courses for practicing professionals, including mandatory relicensure requirements in such fields as management, law, engineering and health care." and (2) "The career development and mid-career change market including courses for paralegals, executive secretaries, insurance adjusters, and many other rapidly growing, high demand occupations."

Among the things the ad says you will learn how to do at this two day conference are: (1) "Convert recertification trends into preparatory courses..." and (2) "Develop education and training policies consistent with realities in the marketplace."

We've received several letters recently from folks claiming that the trend toward MCE is part of a larger trend toward socialism in the United States and away from "free enterprise." If those letter writers and the University of Tampa are correct, it's going to be a strange new form. What should we call it? Free Enterprise Socialism? Market Socialism? Capitalistic Socialism?

Theobald Establishes Network

Robert Theobald, author of many social, political and economic works, and most recently Beyond Despair: Directions for America's Third Century (New Republic Press, 1976), has founded a unique network, Linkage, with the purpose, in Theobald's words, "of linking people who share a belief that they can work together on a cooperative basis to realize the potential and deal with the problems which exist during this transformational period when both the risks and the opportunities are very great."

Essentially those wishing to join the network will fill out a resume of past history, experience, interest, activities and possible accomplishments to be shared with the other people in the network, now numbering over one hundred of a quite diverse background. It is assumed that one will pick and choose from among the network people those who share sufficiently common interests and concerns to link up together for whatever common objectives that may be mutually desirable. One of the interesting aspects of Linkage is that upon reading the resumes, one realizes, if it isn't already obvious, there are plenty of people in our society concerned about promoting important social change and that these people come from all aspects of life, from business and academia as well as people who are simply attempting to make it on their own without being "plugged into the system."

If you are interested in joining Linkage, write: Robert Theobald, Box 2240, Wickenburt, Ar., 85358.

Second Thoughts

Second Thoughts is a newsletter intended 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., a project in values clarification of Madison Campus Ministry, 731 State St., Madison, WI 53703

For the newsletter to continue we need responses from you including suggestions, criticisms, statements, articles, and financial contributions. The address for Second Thoughts is 1121 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53715. Exchanges with other publications are welcome.


The Professional and the Reformer: Work of John McKnight
By Mark McFadden

It sometimes seems that those of us most concerned with progressive thinking in the areas of MCE and professional certification find ourselves with little time to put our brilliant ideas into practice. One man who has no problem establishing the link between criticism and practice is John McKnight.

In a recent essay McKnight exhibits a keen critical eye: "One is reminded of the child's riddle asking someone to describe a glass that has water in its lower half. Is it half full or half empty? The basic function of modernized professionalism is to legitimize human beings whose capacity it is to see their neighbor as half empty."

But to just sit in a Northwestern faculty office is not exactly McKnight's half-full cup of tea. Instead he went to work in an impoverished neighborhood in Chicago and tried to help a community take hold of its own resources, its own power. Helping the community improve its health by taking action on its own, McKnight made theory take shape in action on its own by lessening the neighborhood's dependence on the professional class.

In his discussion of the project in Science For The People, he talks of a huge medical facility in the area and its relation to the people in the community: "We do not need more of the Medical Center's therapy. We need to steal its resources, money, and power in order that the community organization will have the capacity to improve the health of the people."

The first quote comes from an essay which appears in Disabling Professions, a collection of essays by Ivan Illich, John McKnight and others. The book is available from Marion Boyars Publishers Inc.; 22 South Broadway; Salem, New Hampshire, 03079. The other quote appears in the November/December 1978 issue of Science for the People. That issue is available from 897 Main Street, Cambridge, MA, 02139.

But despite the above criticism of the role of the professional today, McKnight believes that there is a real and valuable though minimal place for professionals (what he calls the "residual role") in any worthwhile society. He is now engaged in research/ action with others to indicate what that place is. He would be very interested in hearing from you if you have any thoughts on the question. Write him at: Center for Urban Affairs, Northwestern University, 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60201.

MCE in Health Care: A Historical Perspective
By Christina Wagner

Today, once again, we hear people talking about a crisis of care in the helping professions. Some of the "solutions" that are being tossed around sound very much like the problems that the Popular Health Movement reacted against. One of these solutions is MCE. What we need to keep in mind is that lack of schooling is not the problem, and, therefore, further schooling cannot be a satisfactory solution.

Compulsory education and licensing are not new developments in health care; nor is radical opposition to them confined to recent times.

In the first decades of the 19th century in the United States, compulsory education and licensing began to systematically exclude "natural" healers from the helping professions. The clearest example of this is the shutting out of female midwives from their role in childbirth. The takeover by obstetrics resulted in the treatment of pregnancy as a "disease" and needless harmful interventions with drugs, forceps, and surgery into what was once considered a natural process. Medical historians tell us that female midwives were not only ignorant of technology but also had a tendency to save the mother's life over that of the child's regardless of the fact that the child might be a boy'.

The growth of the medical profession also resulted in the use of what was termed "heroic" measures in the treatment of almost any disease. These treatments mainly consisted of inducing excessive vomiting or bleeding in the patient in an effort to prove that the "treatment" could produce a stronger effect on the patient than the illness could and was therefore "superior" to the illness!

To quote a latter day leader of the Hygienic (Popular Health) Movement, Dr. Herbert Shelton:

"Any system that of itself creates a privileged class, who, can by law, or otherwise lord it over their fellow men, destroys true freedom and autonomy. Any system that teaches the sick that they can get well only through the exercise of the skill of someone else, and that they remain alive only through the tender mercies of the privileged class, has no place in nature's scheme of things, and the sooner it is abolished, the better mankind will be."

The Popular Health Movement of the 1830's was essentially a response to this takeover by medical school trained doctors of what was the domain of lay healers, herbalists, and midwives. It was, furthermore, largely a feminist movement. Due to the efforts of this widespread movement, every state that had laws restricting the practice of medicine was forced to change these laws to include a wider range of practitioners. Some states even repealed these laws altogether.

(Some of the information for this article has been taken from For Her Own Good: 150 Years of the Expert's Advice to Women by Barbara Ehrenreich and Dierdre English, Anchor Press, 1978.)

Publications

Here are some publications that may be of interest to the readers of Second Thoughts.

Health Link, Rt. 1, Box 162A, Toledo, Iowa, 52342. $10.00/year.

Published monthly by Jeff Weih, Health Link is a newsletter that provides a health network enabling persons to share health experiences, opinions and knowledge.

Jeff has recently written us: "As a physician's assistant, I am facing MCE. How can/could this be circumvented? Court action? Is MCE unconstitutional?" Some attorneys active with the American Civil Liberties Union say MCE is unconstitutional. Anyone have any suggestions for how Jeff can circumvent MCE?

Community Jobs, 149 Ninth Street, San Francisco, CA, 94103. $10/year.

The Community Jobs newsletter is published monthly by the Community Jobs Clearinghouse, a project of the Western office of Youth Project. As stated in the January, 1979 issue, this publication provides "information on social change career opportunities with the dual purpose of promoting access to community work as a profession and supporting the development of effective community organizations." The recent January issue lists numerous openings for those interested in such jobs as project organizer.

The Alternative Free-Neighborhood Universities Catalogue (AFC) 1978 Verlag Freie Nachbarschaft Gmbh.: D6145 Lindenfels, West Germany 148 pages. Dm 7.50 postage included.

Edited by Dr. Bernhard A. Suin de Boutemard, the AFC includes 220 offers and requests of 150 collaborators in Germany and Western European countries.

The AFC is becoming a transnational network of mutual aid in learning from one another. AFC is "a convivial tool of people, who take heart to do in important things what is in the strict sense self-evident." (Ivan Illich in the first edition).

AFC started in 1976 as a self-help initiative of farmers and female peasants in an undeveloped rural district of Germany by reviving the tradition of the autonomous cooperation of the UNIVERSITAS of villages, later copied by students and professors and called university. The aim was to stop the social and cultural erosion of their villages by offering and requesting mutual and integral teaching and learning everyday life knowledge like baking bread, sheep shearing, mill building, deer stalking, etc. Soon urban individuals and groups cooperated, offering and requesting their own themes.

Self Help Reporter, 33 W. 42nd St., Room 1227, New York, NY, 10036.

Published by the National Self Help Clearinghouse, Graduate School and University Center, SUNY, the Self Help Reporter is a newsletter devoted to providing self-help information in such fields as health, gerontology, the family, and social services.

Film

Myles Horton, the founder of Highlander, recommends the documentary film, Forced Work: A Day in the Life of Three Women on Welfare, University Community Video, Studio 506A, Rarig Center, U OF M, 330 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN, 55455. 46:03 Rental: ls"$50,3/4" $60. Sale:1/2" $165, 3/4" $180. For information on reduced rates, contact UCV.

Forced work programs are becoming the major trend in national welfare policy. Under these programs, state and federal agencies give aid only to those welfare recipients who "work off" their grants. Forced Work follows three women to work, to the welfare office, and to their homes to present an intimate portrait of their experiences with the WIN welfare program, which requires all women with children over six years of age to look for full-time work. Each woman's experience is different, but the women find common frustrations with the welfare system, as shown in this personal story of life on welfare.

Overemphasis on learning

From Christopher Lasch, Haven in a Heartless World: The Family Besieged, "As learning becomes the focus of socialization theory, fantasy, the unconscious, and sexuality slip back into the darkness from which psychoanyalsis tried to bring them to light."

'Parenting Skills' May Be Mandated for all Parents in Future

Lea Zeldin is a founding editor of an excellent and feisty monthly publication with the motto "Helping Health Consumers Help Themselves." It's called the Health Newsletter and you can get a free sample copy by writing Lea Zeldin at Health Writers, 306 N. Brooks St., Madison, WI 53715.

Here's an example of the kind of writing she does as it appeared, following publication in the newsletter, in condensed form in The Progressive magazine (Reprinted by per mission from The Progressive, 408 West Gorham Street, Madison, WI 53703. Copyright 1978, The Progressive, Inc.):

"The Road to Hell... Widespread abuse of children by their parents and other adults has commanded increasing attention lately in the mass media and among law enforcement officials and health care professionals. Such concern is both understandable and over due but as often happens, some of the proposed preventive steps are creating new abuses against privacy and civil liberties...preventive steps are creating new abuses against privacy and civil liberties..."

"At a recent Community Forum on Child Abuse and Neglect sponsored by the state of Wisconsin, a registered nurse described her hospital's program for early identification of potential child abusers: Obstetrical nurses observe mothers with their newborn babies and take notes that become part of the medical record. A mother who is 'diagnosed' as a potential abuser is reported to a central state registry, established by statute."

Another participant in the Wisconsin meeting, Professor Ray Heifer of Michigan State University, declared that 'basic training' in what he called 'parenting skills' should be 'mandated and coerced' for all parents to prevent child abuse. "

Such suggestions are undoubtedly prompted by sincere commitment to the welfare of children; the road to hell is proverbially paved with good intentions. But before mounting new official intrusions into our lives and liberties, professionals concerned about preventing child abuse might well turn their attention to its principal causes such stress factors as poverty and unemployment, overcrowded living conditions, discrimination, alienation from our 'affluent' society. When those conditions have been dealt with, there will be no need to protect children by adding to our burden of coercion and surveillance."

This brief editorial piece in The Progressive caused quite a flurry of letters in subsequent issues. One of them came from Thomas J. Reed, the Supervisor for the Dane County Department of Social Services' Child and Family Services Unit (Dane County includes Madison, WI). Reed wrote:

"Lea Zeldin maintains that while concern for child abuse is 'understandable and overdue, ' new proposed preventive steps are creating abuses against privacy and civil liberties.

"This simply is not true.

"She states that one hospital reports potential child abusers to a central state registry 'as established by law.' There is no law requiring reports on 'potential abusers' to a central registry. The Wisconsin law, as in most other states, instead requires certain professionals (doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers) to report to their local department of social services a child who has severe bruises, broken bones, burns, when they suspect the injury was not accidentally inflicted. They must also report sexual assault against children by other family members, as well as deliberate neglect that threatens the physical health of a child.

There was a recent law passed establishing a central registry of child abuse cases not potential abusers. The law was necessary because in our highly mobile society, families of children who are abused in one county frequently move to other locations. The child has a greater chance of being protected if his records go with him. However, these records are not public documents and can be seen only by the county social service agency.

Lea Zeldin also attacks the proposal by Dr. Ray Heifer that parenting skills be mandated for all parents. She says such suggestions only intrude in lives when the real culprits of child abuse are poverty, unemployment, overcrowded living conditions, discrimination, and alienation from affluent society. While these are certainly causes of child abuse, even if each of them was eliminated, we would still have abused children. Even in homes free from financial stress and with stable marriages, children are still abused. Public agencies get reports of child abuse from all social levels. Parenting is a hard, demanding job whatever your social, educational, or economic background. It would benefit all parents to study parenting before they plunge into parenthood. Heifer's proposal deserves serious consideration even if we mean only a required course in high school.

"While I would be the first to defend rights of privacy and civil liberties, I think well- intentioned people such as Lea Zeldin are often guilty of expounding on liberties as an excuse to avoid something in society that is badly needed. She speaks so fervently for the liberties of the adult, but how about the freedoms and the rights of young children? Who speaks for them? As new laws are passed against child abuse, I don't propose that we take liberties from adults but rather equalize them for all people, including those under eighteen. No one 'deserves' to be injured or neglected at the cost of 'protecting' another's rights."

Lea replied to Reed this way: "Concern about protecting the civil rights of accused child abusers must rank in popularity with defending the civil rights of Nazis. But the establishment of central registries in which the state keeps dossiers on private citizens and the compilation of raw data gathered from professionals (no matter how qualified) and neighbors (no matter how well intentioned) are in themselves, a grave matter one to be viewed by civil libertarians as a potential source of abuse against people holding unpopular opinions. "

Thomas Reed attended the same conference I did. He heard a nurse tell how nurses at Beaver Dam Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin are observing mothers and judging them to be potential child abusers by the way they hold their babies. He also heard the nurse say that the mothers are not told of the assessment, but that the reports are sent to the County Child Abuse Team, and from there transmitted as raw data to the state. If what the nurse said is true (and there seems no reason to doubt her word), a gross violation of the right to privacy has occurred that goes far beyond the intent of Wisconsin's new law.

"Prospective parents who are, in Dr. Heifer's worked, 'coerced' or 'mandated' into taking courses in 'parenting skills' run the risk of being indoctrinated in state approved public morality. That morality, that way of life may even be 'good' for us. But what about people who have 'different' political views, come from 'different' cultures, have 'different' sexual preferences? "

"As a social worker, Thomas Reed knows that the effects of poverty, unemployment, and economic exploitation are not confined to the poor. Battered wives and cruelly beaten children of all classes are individually subjected to the savageries that are collectively inflicted upon the poor and defenseless in our society. I applaud the zeal with which Thomas Reed would protect the children. In the interests of correcting one wrong, let us guard against the perpetration of another."

Heifer and Reed are far from the only professionals who call for some form of compulsory schooling for all parents or potential parents. At least since the early 1970s many behaviorists and others have been pushing it (see, for instance, "Parenthood Training or Mandatory Birth Control," in the October 1973 issue of Psychology Today or the Phil Hilts book. Behavior Mod published in 1974 by Harper's Magazine Press).

Phil Newton has called our attention to one of the latest such demands-- Jerry Bergman's article "Licensing Parents' in the December 1978 issue of The Futurist. Ironically Bergman attempts to place the pressure for parent licensing within the recent children's rights movement, citing Bea and Ron Gross' book The Children's Rights Movement as an example. But Ron Gross has frequently characterized the trend toward MCE as "misguided."

Existential Consequences of Mandatory Continuing Education
By Russell S. Knudson

Jean Paul Sartre never wrote about continuing education issues, but some of his works may shed some light on the MCE question.

For example, in the play, The Flies, a philosophical adaptation of the Greek trilogy Oresteia, which Sartre wrote and produced in response to the oppressiveness of the German occupation of France during World War II, he metaphorically but realistically warns us of the existential consequences of any kind of oppressive force. In The Flies he clearly illustrates that any kind of oppressive force not only denies a person his existential freedom, but also prevents him from exercising it.

"The flies," from which the play gets its name, symbolize for Sartre the fear, remorse, and guilt that has overcome the French people at the hand of the Nazis. In other words, "the flies" symbolize the origin and the consequences of oppression. In terms of the MCE issue, "the flies" may be seen as those who support MCE and the consequences of this support for those workers who are affected by it. Metaphorically, Sartre wrote these "flies" were sent by Zeus to continually remind the people of Argos (the Greek god and city upon which Oresteia is based) of their inferiority and their need for greater and greater repentance. MCE can be viewed in much the same way. It is a means to "force" people to think they are inferior with their present educational background and that they "need" more and more education in order to live up to the standards of a changing society set by someone else (Zeus).

For Sartre, such action is existentially unethical because it treats human beings as though their existential freedom were dependent upon the choices made by others. (Zeus, for example symbolizing employers). Sartre responds to this view in at least two places in the play. As the character Orestes, Sartre says "I am my freedom. No sooner had you (Zeus) created me than I ceased to be yours"; and "For who except yourself can know what you really want? Will you let another decide for you?" Applying these passages to MCE, one can see that Sartre would be against it for two reasons: (1) it denies a person his existential freedom by making him feel he "needs" education in order to BE, to rightfully exist in society; and (2) it makes a person dependent upon the decisions of others, concluding that they know what is right for him, thus taking from him his ability to freely act on his existential freedom.

Using Sartre's concept of "situation," which is also illustrated in the play, once can see the broad consequences of promoting MCE. For clarity a diagram is offered which helps to illustrate these consequences:

This cylinder represents the "American human situation." It is composed of five basic dimensions: (a) political; (b) economic; (e) social; (d) educational; and (e) technological. The large circles within the cylinder represent these dimensions. Further more, within these dimensions are others dimensions. These are individuals that interact. These individuals are represented by the smaller overlapping dotted circles. The line that runs vertically through all five dimensions indicates that they are related in an ecological ecosystem sense. That is, any change in one of the dimensions stimulates a change or reaction in all of the other dimensions. For example, the creation of the airplane (technological) stimulated a corresponding change in all four of the other dimensions: educational programs were developed to train people to maintain the equipment; people throughout the country became closer together (social); and new policies (political) were created to finance (economic) the development of air technology. The human situation or the facts of the American society are that these dimensions are never isolated from each other.

With this diagram in mind let's look at the consequences of promoting MCE. MCE not only affects the existential freedom of a few (for example, within a corporation where employees are threatened with dismissal if they do not continue their education by taking night courses or participating in in-service training programs), but the existential freedom of all humans within the American situation. It is not only the employee who feels threatened by having to continue his education but this employee's family as well. When an employee's existential freedom is denied his attitudes change. He loses interest in his job. Friction may develop between himself and his family because he is burdened with studying in addition to his usual workload which may take time away from interacting with his family. In this same sense MCE, which is within the educational dimension of the cylinder, affects the existential freedom of others in the other dimensions of the human situation. They too are soon burdened with the same problems. The promotion of MCE denies all humans within the situation their existential freedom and their ability to express it.

In conclusion, if MCE is promoted and gets a stronghold it will, according to Sartre's concept of "situation" and his concept of existential freedom, lead to a society devoid of human dignity. People will view each other as educational products or products of change rather than as creators of change. MCE is far more than an academic issue or a question of who should or should not be required to participate in "X" continuing education program. It is a question of a person's existential freedom to act as a being with human dignity.

(Ed. note: Based on a Ph.D. dissertation in progress titled "A Philosophical Analysis of Jean Paul Sartre's The Flies with Ethical Implications for Adult Education," University of Wisconsin Madison.)

Caveats on Lifelong Learning
By Samuel C. Brightman

Lifelong Learning. It has a nice lilt, offers something for everybody, cradle to grave, and one of these days Congress is going to pass a Lifelong Learning Act and there will be a federal program of Lifelong Learning.

Some educators, who will not be named for fear of libel suits, are moving to establish themselves as experts in Lifelong Learning. This is a danger signal. Remember how people could read and write simple declarative sentences before the reading experts took over?

In point of fact, Lifelong Learning is going on right now, but it is a sort of closet activity, done without the supervision of licensed teachers and without paying funds to some institution so that credit hours can be earned toward some kind of certification. Moreover, it is carried on pretty much on individual whim, without assessment and evaluation, and without criteria and regulation. It lacks even authorizing legislation stating that some great rational purpose is being served. Small wonder some educators regard this type of learning as worse than no learning at all.

But you can find persons who will tell you that Lifelong Learning guided by professional educators would be the best thing for professional educators since compulsory attendance laws.

To put the worst possible case before you for turning Lifelong Learning over to our present educational establishment, the educators offer the resources to train our citizenry to produce a society in which big corporations and big government curtail our individual freedom, in which we waste our natural and human resources; in which we breathe polluted air; in which we have millions idle; in which we spend more on bullets than on books.

Actually, what the adult needs is some "unlearning." We were taught that the economy would keep on growing and that anyone who really wants to work can find a job. Some 8 million are unlearning that without the help of professional educators. We were taught that our natural resources were boundless. Our friendly local gas station is helping us to unlearn that. We were taught that we have a free market economy that is obeying the law of supply and demand. Any retail establishment can unlearn you on that. We were taught that laws provide justice, but most of us have unlearned that and are becoming aware that "law and order" is not an accidental phrase; law is most conspicuously used to enforce order, even to justify police state intrusion on our freedom.

Once the mind is cleansed of the "get along by going along" debris, it might be helped to deal with a universal frustration, the failure of the individual to exercise any control over government and big business, any control over the society in which he lives.

If we're going to learn how to cope with today's conditions, with crowded cities, with pollution, with a permanent shrinkage of the job market, with, to put it bluntly, the problem of sharing less more fairly with more people, it's adults who will have to learn how to do these things.

There are, among the ranks of professional educators, those who have devoted years to attempting to help adults to learn things which will enable these adults to live richer lives. These people deeply want to see our nation become a site of universal adult learning. Perhaps these educators should be given some time and money to work on the problem of Lifelong Learning. They would be the most likely people in the education community to approach the problem from the viewpoint of what would be good for the learner rather than what would be good for the teacher. Since they have no elaborate institutionalized structure to protect, they might tend to look upon adults as clients to be served rather than as marks to be hustled. Because if Lifelong Learning turns out to be nothing more than a make work program for those now engaged in sequential education it's not likely to do much good for what ails us.

And quite a bit ails us.

AHA IS Concerned About MCE Feasibility

The American Hospital Association has just issued a four page set of "Guidelines" designed "to help state legislators, professional groups, and others evaluate requests for the passage or implementation of MCE legislation." The document provides 24 detailed questions to ask in order to determine whether requests for MCE legislation are "feasible and desirable."

The association believes that asking these questions and finding satisfactory answers will: "(1) show whether the problem behind the request for a (MCE) statute is real; (2) ensure that there is an effective plan to resolve the problem; and (3) identify the level of commitment, financial and organizational, necessary to successfully implement the plan." The AHA document concludes: "It is obvious that establishing a MCE program for license renewal is not simple. Much time, effort, and money will be required to produce a workable system, which, in the long run, still may not be able to protect the public against incompetent practitioners. It is difficult, if not impossible, to legislate learning and its subsequent application. For this reason and because little evidence currently exists that continuing education in and of itself ensures continued competence, the American Hospital Association, in the interest of quality patient care at a reason able cost, continues to support and promote voluntary continuing education of health care professionals."

Copies of this document are available at $4.75 per 25 from Barbara Bloom, American Hospital Association, 840 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, 111., 60611. Ask for AHA # G037.

CLENE President Urges Librarians to Link Up with ST Network

James Nelson, President of the Continuing Library Education Network and Exchange (CLENE) has urged librarians to contact Second Thoughts.

In Nelson's column in the Journal of Education for Librarianship (Summer 1978) he writes:

"It seems wise for library educators to plug into this growing network of people who espouse a concern for the trend to MCE. Those of us in academic circles are more often guilty of inserting our fuzzy heads in the enveloping sands of proud tradition than of overt evil deeds, so this opportunity to join the debate should not go unnoticed."

In that same column Nelson writes: "This (MCE) issue is not a simple one and people standing on both sides are equally committed to their convictions, but to allow MCE its full head without question could be destructive to both sides."

Story Behind Story Tops Original Story
By David Lisman

If the article about the Progressive piece sounded too self-congratulatory. It can be tempered by the "real" story about the article Ohliger attempted to suppress. In the interest of "truly liberated" education we overruled Ohliger's attempt to compel us to keep silent. Here is the story:

"An event of international importance," said Ron Gross, noted educational journalist. "Who cares?" said his wife. "A truly memorable essay," wrote Norman Cousins of the Saturday Review, who had forgotten which article he was referring to.

These are but a few of the many comments the article, "Must We All Go Back to School?" by David Lisman and John Ohliger has prompted from a growing number of readers.

The article indeed has had a wide circulation. Some saw copies stuffed in trash cans all over the Madison campus. One was discovered as far away as East Towne Mall. It all happened when John Ohliger reported, "This has been reprinted 120 times." He was saying this to his personal Xerox copier with whom he has developed a very confidential relationship. "Sometimes it talks back to me," he admitted. When the University of Wisconsin learned that John Ohliger had run off his millionth page at the copy center, they honored him with a gift of his own copier. Unfortunately the copier proved to be something less than a blessing. After John had stated he had re printed 125 copies of the Progressive article, the copier refused to stop printing. Before John got the machine to listen to reason, his albatross had run off 14,000 copies. As he was trying to clean up the mess in his apartment, one of his many admirers burst through the door and thousands of copies blew out of the room and sailed through the streets.

It is reported that John is suing his copier for irresponsible conduct. If he wins his suit, he hopes his copier will be compelled to return to the Xerox Copier School for a refresher course. "There are issues of freedom here," John is reported as saying. "This damn computer is just too uppity. Compulsory education is the only way to keep it in line."

When reminded that this appeared to be a contradiction to his opposition to mandatory education, John tersely replied that contradiction was as natural for a thinker as passion for a lover. He declared that he was all for computers returning to school. "The more education the better," he said. "It's the only way to be sure machines remember what they are."

In order to learn more about John's arch-villain, this brilliant machine educator has infiltrated the enemy camp disguised as a library technician in the tape center. "The things I've discovered about the conduct of the Sony tape decks are appalling," he said. "They have lost all sense of proportion. I record classical music and they play show tunes of the forties. What these machines need is a good course in music appreciation."

So it's back to school for John's machines and though they may not like it, John expects them to rediscover the joy of learning and the limits of freedom. "Too much freedom can only make a machine unhappy," John wisely observed. "There is nothing worse than an unhappy machine. Witness what happened to my Xerox. It lost all sense of respect for my wishes."

John is a backseat supporter of the Alternative Technology movement, which is attempting to replace machines with people. John's final comment as he was retrieving a copy of his article that was flying across the campus: "Unless we can get machines back into the classroom, I think we may just have to scrap machines altogether. That goes for my copier too. Maybe even my television and bicycle."











© Copyright 2004 John Ohliger.org