Trust the Financial Times of London to get it right, as usual. At least their press hasn’t folded up like cheap lawn chairs in adoration:
About a third of the present stimulus bill – the welfare and social service parts – will be exceedingly hard to end. That includes the $92.3bn being spent on labour initiatives, hiring teachers and expanding pre-schools, and the $11bn in bail-outs to states. The core of the bill is $117bn in healthcare spending, which Republicans correctly see as a way of enacting, under false pretences, the national health plan that Democrats have lacked the mandate to legislate in non-emergency times.
with 5% of the 800+B going towards actual infrastructure, the truth is revealed about promises made. The ones that matter are the long standing ones made to supporters early in the process, years ago, behind closed doors. Private promises made by public faces.
If you wanted a real stimulous for the economy you would remember that small businesses are the engines of job creation and that you have to try a lot of things in a low risk way. My sense of what is needed is a combination of:
(1) microloans made by community banks and credit unions to members of their opwn community who are willing to to risk their own efforts, time and equity on small businesses, as validated by the local community. That’s where real oversight comes from.
(2) fully funded, expert venture capitalists who would use their proven skills in finding excellent opportunities to fund slightly larger-in-scope ventures.
Now, like in all things, a lot of these would fail, BUT you would be rewarded entreprenurial behavior and actually risk making successes out of independent small businessmen. Therefore I conclude this will not become policy because clearly the current administration is all about wealth redistribution after government takes its cut first. We have vacuumed up all the loose cash for the next 20 years which might have actually fueled good startup business ideas and shipped it to people who’s ideas couldn’t attract enough money to get funded when private capital evaluated them. We have set the economy back at least 20 years with these actions.
this is the text of an info paper I wrote for our Deputy Commandant to send to the 3 and 4 star generals in charge of Army leader education and training. It describes the motivation for and purpose of our inquiry into “the education gap of force generation”, and lays out a methodology and strategy for accomplishing the mission. Upon close examination, you would recognize all the elements of Participatory Action Research and a collaborative inquiry in the action research tradition. It’s easier to get the project moving and going thru the PAR and AR steps without getting bogged down in the “naming”, so I intend to get irresistable momentum built and introduce the concepts as required and as we go.
Force Generation Curriculum Project:
Educational gap: based on feedback from the DC, the field, and our current students and faculty, we have identified “Leading Army units through the Force Generation Process to build ready units” as one of our most important educational gaps in the field.
Results of initial curriculum analysis:
1. All departments teach on some aspects of the Force Generation process, but we need to do more in AOWC to get our officers to the “Apply” level of learning.
2. Existing curriculum can be integrated and leveraged for part of the solution, but we need more attention to and information on the Reset phase, and on integrating the insights of supporting organizations.
3. A Terminal Learning Objective for AOWC that incorporates “Force Generation”, that is developed through Enabling Learning Objectives and the appropriate standards which includes insights from all departments, fully integrated through the ongoing AOWC Working Group will lead us to an integrated solution, and follow our own Accountable Instructional System (AIS)
Force Generation. Research Questions:
What we want to learn:
by focusing on the specific topic of “force generation” within the CGSC curriculum, we want to answer the following questions:Our top level questions are:
1. What do Army Majors (and sister service equivalents) need to know about Force Generation?
2. What are the qualities of the educational environment that will best support their learning? translation: How can we best create the conditions for learning? How sho9uld we teach it?))Our supporting questions: (these are what we are asking of all the stakeholders to help construct our group knowledge)
1. Who are you and what do you know about Force Generation?
2. What does your organization do in Force Generation?
3. What do you think Majors need to know?
4. What can you contribute to our knowledge base?
5. What can majors do with your knowledge?
6. What are your questions about force generation? (we want everyone to learn)
7. What would you do with the answers and why is it important?
8. Who else should be part of our team?Initial stakeholder list:
· DLRO faculty
· CD & Faculty of other departments
· Army staff: G1, G3, G4, G8, ACSIM
· 1/1 HBCT (partnership with field unit entering reset & train/ready pools)
· Senior Warrant Officers at proponent schools
· IT support staff (for digital learning environments)
· BCKS forums (watering holes for interesting ARFORGEN conversations)
Methodology: Co-operative inquiry with all stakeholders in the Force Generation process, focusing on support to the education of field grade officers attending CGSC
Initial actions (already underway):
1. Establish POC at each stakeholder and begin staff work to answer initial supporting questions
2. Announce to all stakeholders we will have a 3 day workshop in May at Ft Leavenworth to review all supporting question inputs and then craft an answer to the top level questions
3. Begin planning for said conference
4. Identify wiki solution for an adaptive knowledge base that will support ongoing curriculum and reach back capability for FORGEN (done: Blackboard, in the reachback area)
5. Integrate concept of threaded Force Gen lesson theme into AOWC WG process with 1st order estimate of hours required (done: 10)
6. Plan for an AAP to catch any spillover from conference and this inquiry that will not fit within AOWC curriculum.
7. Develop project management framework to monitor progress and include in DLRO SigActs routinely (LTC Judy, LTC Hart)
8. Draft DC info summary describing FORGEN initiative (Mr Long)
1. Quality staff recommendation for AOWG FORGEN curriculum and an AAP for “spillover” material
2. An interdepartmental “application” level curriculum fully integrated through the AOWC Working Group process
3. An inquiry- based research process that models the principles of group-learning in real time, which can serve as an example for other inquiries in important topics
4. An infrastructure that supports student learning while in attendance, and after graduation as a reachback
5. A knowledge base that focuses on support of our student and faculty population, and wehich synthesizes quality research & knowledge from Army staff and support organizations
6. A documented staff process that will support our ongoing accreditation and scholarship standards
My commentary from a discussion thread at the CAC blogs on the topic of General Officers education and selection. I am interested in how we improve the capability of the college to support life long learningi nour student officers (and faculty). I argue that our college should be as flexible as the organizations we are telling these officers they will have to create and lead when they leave our building.
Marshall fired a ton of old guys prior to WW2 who were optimized for their peacetime positions based on their experiences and the nature of the pre-war environment. The discontinuity that was WW2, in Marshall’s judgment, required a bold shift in selection criteria for GO. It’s a young man’s game? But is there a substitute for the years of practical experience and intuition honed by the career paths of GOs prior to their promotion? Doesn’t the top leader have to go through all those formative experiences to develop the skill sets required for the thorniest problems? Perhaps, if you believe that we are looking for leadership to be contained within a single node inside the network organization.
But if you believe we are in a world of complex adaptive systems, filled with wicked problems, then the probability goes to zero you can have anticipated all the requirements the GO leader must have in place prior to the challenge emerging. You would tend to prefer selection systems that reward the kind of attitude toward learning and developing that Jim Greer describes above, where ideal GOs candidates have a record of modelling the lifestyle of life long learning and building organizations. Particularly if you believe that the solutions for or management of wicked problems are to be found in quickly framing problems and assembling the right team from the network of resources to satisfy the challenge.
In that kind of organization you would expect to see officer students inside Army schools taking on more responsibility for their own education, particularly those attending colleges that aim for graduate level education and seeking to leverage the insights and potential of soldiers fresh from the cauldron. You would expect to see a broad diversity of topics, approaches, methods and reflections, a flexibility towards learning that models the kinds of open and inquiring attitudes we say the future battlefield will require. You would expect risk to be taken within schools, rather than say, an approach of standardized curriculum, methods and assessments that aim to certify performance against an established, seductively time-tested checklist.
within CGSC, for example: do we “give students voice” to shape their personal learning environment? Are our students speaking their minds or are they waiting for permission to speak? If they aren’t speaking is it because they are certain about the probable outcome of their feedback? How much authority do they have to steer their own learning course? We see stats from student feedback in curriculum meetings but there are no students present when we make crucial decisions, and our curriculum meetings are not assessed on quality and performance like we do for every lesson, block, and graded student product. Are students satisfied with the payoff of giving feedback for themselves? Or is it really indirect, weak “feed forward”?
Are our classrooms and learning environments truly a network of learning organizations or are we a set of isolated, compartmentalized homogenized standard parts designed to teach the same things in generally the same way against a single consensus view of what’s required for the next 10 years of service?
If you’d argue that we can’t teach everything the officers will need to know in the next 10 years I’d agree, and then ask if we are helping jointly create the environment that promotes lifelong learning, providing the infrastructure to support it through reachback and the ability to adapt quickly to emerging educational requirements in whatever scope and size is required for the next surprise, rather than trying to get the curriculum “correct and stable, once and for all”.
The Romans had tribunes of the people to directly represent the people, with real authority to act in real time on their behalf. Do our officers have an equivalent voice to take on real responsibility for their education?
Could our college routinely solicit the educational needs of our newly arriving officers in August, do a needs assessment and create curriculum for learning inquiries that satisfied most of the expressed “needs to know” within 3 months? We couldn’t if you believed that each new piece of curriculum would have to be exhaustively researched, vetted and synthesized and approved for mass consumption before the first day of class, and we couldn’t if you thought every new piece of curriculum must meet the standard of “every MAJ for the next 10 years needs to know”. And yet that’s the kind of organizational flexibility and adaptability we are asking them to develop in their units upon graduation. College, teach thyself?
Chapters 25 and 27 of “The Future of the Army Profession” (2nd ed) are scholarly treatments of these issues
says it nicely in few words: not harsh, or only as harsh as capitalism itself, from Bridgewater Associates:
“There is no easy way out of a debt restructuring. Someone will have to bear the cost of prior bad decisions. The people who should bear the cost are those who made the bad decisions to make the loans or those who financed the people who made the loans. They intended to profit and would have profited if they were right. But they were wrong, so they should lose. The government needs to allow the losers to lose and focus their actions on minimizing the knock-on effects of their failure on people who didn’t do anything wrong (to minimize systemic risk). They should then take action to minimize the future exposure of the innocent to the future dumb decisions of the small minority, because no amount of regulation will ever eliminate dumb decisions, so you have to plan for them (through much lower bank leverage limits to cushion losses, bank size limits and non-bank entities playing bank-like roles to improve diversification, safety nets to prevent losers from poisoning the whole system, etc.).”
1. The teaching is good in our new state-of-the-art college building at Fort Leavenworth. Everyday as I walk to the new building I go past the old building which is being demolished. I’ve been watching the wrecking ball taking apart beautiful building and I can’t help but noticing how quickly the heavy ball takes apart the work of many months of skilled craftsmen to put together the old building brick by brick. It sure is coming down a lot faster than it went up. But these days, but times change quickly and we are adapting to the new educational requirements. The old rules no longer apply. But the same attention to detail and level of professional craftsmanship which enabled the first building to weather Kansas storms for 60 years went into the making of the new building from which I take a great deal of comfort when the tornadoes blow across the Kansas plains.
2. I can’t help but think as I listen to the news coming out of Washington DC a spending bill after spending bill commits our future stream of income into pursuits would not be supported by the free markets and pure capitalists. I still have the sinking feeling that the best case for us 20 to 30 years of zero real growth in the Japanese model at our current rate of mortgaging the future.
3. Meanwhile the market lurches along in their normal mode, volatility which had decreased from historic highs is slowly on the rise once more and oil has apparently found support and is quietly climbing northwards and only gold seems to have any kind of staying power is money off from sector to sector in search of temporary security. It is precisely at times like these that the discipline of daily and weekly review of technical indicators helps me keep my judgment calibrated in these unusual times. Keep your powder dry and your risk managed and your eyes on the prize.
Some advice for a friend grappling with the difficulty of finding and keeping a tight focus of the issues emerging from his group research into sex discrimination in the workplace. I wish i could foloow my own advice and stay focused
Phil: here’s a thought experiment: what would happen if you treated your research inquiry as a journey and proceeded step by step out from your start point, sensing and responding to the co-researchers needs as you go?
i see you trying to get your arms around a topic that is miles wide and deep; it addresses one of the most complex sociological issue-complexes of all time; i hear you devleoping plans to “understand all of it” in order to do….what?
what if you had in your hand something precious already being developed thru the voluntary contribution sof your trusted others in your group. what are the questions with the most energy that are emanating from that group? which you CAN get your arms around? what research is needed to satisfy their hunger to know, and do, and be and become? what’s the emotional driver that keeps this group going? to satisfy what end? what need? maybe, let the research direction and depth support that hunger to know
do all the members of your group share your interest in the massive research undertaking you are describing? have you already mentally left the group to climb your own mountain?
just thinking out loud, as i go through the same cycles of trying to solve the largest problems i can imagine, often at the expense of taking care of my own little garden plot
The first time I prepared this for an entry on our doctoral discussion forum , I constructed it inside Moodle (our discussion environment; its horrible), attached the file, pushed the upload button only to lose it in hyperspace when my Internet connection crashed. It was important enough to me to rework the piece, however and so here it is.I will now and forever construct in Word and then paste to Moodle. I wonder how many times I have to learn this before it becomes a habit?
The original posting was a self reflection in the form of a stream of consciousness conversation with myself as part of my first person action research work. I have noticed that as I have become more reflective and critical of my own beliefs and assumptions that every thought and piece of communication I craft is becoming subjected to an inner voice that questions everything I say and mean. This is still in the interesting phase and has not quite yet become annoying. In the table below I will reconstruct the original stream of consciousness dialogue by showing in the left column the phrases I was initially writing and in the right column the inner voice of reflection and its effect on my writing and thinking.
One of the consequences of continuous first person inquiry is that you weigh and measure everything you say in the search for deeper hidden meanings and alternative insights into your own purposes. The utility of this is that in these few simple sentences I’ve come up with three or four very important fundamental questions to ask of the college administration and leadership and the students themselves with respect to my central research question which is circling around the idea of student voice in education.
What I began to write
What my inner critical reflective voice noted and demanded that I write
In my PAR
Well, it’s really not your PAR isn’t it? Isn’t it our PAR? Or the PAR? No, it’s our PAR because we are co-researchers and I am an active part of it. If it were my PAR I would be in outside expert consultant dictating the outcome and process. If it was the PAR I would be a third person objective outsider trying to measure objects at a distance. I am a part of this, for better or worse and then committed to the process and outcomes whatever they may be. So, it’s our PAR
In our PAR we are asking the question: how can we give students a voice…?
Now, why did I frame that is giving students a voice? I must ask them why they don’t take their own voice?
Now I must ask myself why am I framing this as a power struggle between give-and-take? Is that the only form of dialogue I know?
Is there something about our culture and hierarchy and situation that frames this question in a power struggle format?
What if we consider this to be a choir? or an open forum of free and independent voices who more or less respectfully asked to be heard and are prepared to listen when it’s others’ turn?
Or are we a formal parliament following Roberts rules of order?
I could ask the students a provocative question like what are you waiting for? Why aren’t you taking charge of your own education? Now, that would be fun!
I also have to ask the Dean and Commandant why we don’t have students represented in our curriculum decision-making meetings?
Why don’t we evaluate the quality of our meetings in the same way that we evaluate the quality of our classrooms? If accountability of the classroom experience is important to validate our educational program, shouldn’t we also be validating the quality of our management system itself?
Right now the student voices are disembodied statistics and their feedback is always after the fact. They have no voice in shaping the curriculum when they determine it’s going astray.
I am thinking of the equivalent of a tribune of the people in ancient Rome elected representatives who had the veto authority to protect the interests of the club means.
Note to self: do I think of the students is lesser citizens? Am I a patrician acting for the benefit of those below me? If true, what an arrogance!
Actually, not an issue because upon reflection the plebeian class were full citizens while the patricians simply had long and distinguished family names and money.
However, I must be on guard for that creeping attitude of superiority entering into my framing and speaking, since I know I have a tendency to think I’m smarter than the average bear.
In our PAR we seek to create conditions where student voices are encouraged, heard and thoughtfully considered. We established a professional blog in order to give voice to important and interesting discussions that spilled outside of the contents of formal classes and classrooms and gave students and faculty alike a way to engage on issues of concern.
I like that!
Attached is a snapshot in time of blog traffic from the last 30 days which shows on average over 100 hits a day and 25 high-quality essays on the area of change management and force generation for the U.S. Army.
I need to maintain and monthly log of traffic. The hypothesis sound something like: an increase in the confidence and power of student wastes should be reflected in elected forms of communication and if we are making progress then we should expect to see an increase in the amount of blog traffic. How to state and measure this will be a topic for the PAR.
At the last CTU residency, on the last day my breakthrough insight was to approach the research question on leader curriculum development at the Command and General Staff College from the perspective of giving voice to the students, who are professional military officers operating at the graduate level and fresh from combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.
My insight was to shift the perspective to the student point of view. Previously, I had been relying upon my expertise as a master practitioner of logistics and change management combined with my skill at curriculum development to generate my own ideas of the appropriate set of skills and classroom environment required for best classroom experiences. My insight was that of all the participants in the student education: command, administration, faculty, curriculum development, field army at large, and students, only the students were voiceless in the process. And yet it is a stated goal of the college to develop mature, critical thinking, leaders with a lifelong love of learning who are capable of acting with initiative under conditions of uncertainty, and yet we were not creating the conditions in the classroom for them to learn in this way. Our classroom retained the qualities of industrial age production and education which features mostly lecture from professors with little to no student input in their educational outcome.
Our discussions of personal learning environments allowed me to see that empowering students and ensuring that this change in perspective was established in the college’s infrastructure and processes was far more important and enduring than any specific curriculum content changes that I could arrange. And further, I understood that my own opinions, naturally heavily supported by facts and science, were simply one of the voices should have a vote in the outcome of the research.
We have a new school Commandant, a General officer. fresh from the field, with ideas about the most important educational gaps in the field army that it is our mission to bridge. We have a new civilian Dean who will be a long-term force for stability and wisdom for the processes of education in the college. His commitment to what we call the accountable instruction system is such that transformational changes to our functional processes are beyond the limits of my research. However, the accountable instructional system does allow for the kinds of action research that I propose to undertake. A very important part of my research will be my inquiry into self and improving my own educational practice, along the lines of living theory espoused by Jack Whitehead.
My insight from this week has been that I can be a force for good in this action research project r by becoming the best student I can be and in that inquiry help uncover the qualities we want all students to manifest in our college. A few examples: an attitude towards the value of independent research and critical thinking; speaking truth to power about the results of quality research; creating and using forums where that voice will have meaning and impact. In these times of transformational change in our society, country, politics, and Army, it is more important than ever that voices speak truth to power with conviction about important matters. I am in a position where my opinion will carry weight and have meaning for others. So, I want to ensure that I am an excellent student both in the doctoral process and in my capacity as a teacher and a curriculum developer and an opinion maker in the college.
It happens that our commandant shares my opinion that one of the most important gaps in our field army’s education is in the area of force generation. This is a curriculum area that is rich with the opportunity to educate students on important content and important process which will help them to experience taking responsibility for their own education and being leaders in the Army who will appreciate the importance of that freedom for their subordinates. So, we have an opportunity to model in the classroom the behaviors we expect our leaders to value when they return to the field.
My hypothesis is that by improving and understanding my own optimal personal learning environment I will be able to help create the conditions for improving the personal learning environments of our students in the college and beyond. Our belief is that education does not stop with graduation. Our educational mission continues on past graduation and so we must provide reach back capability to support our students lifelong learning. To that end, I expect to make significant infrastructure changes through use of digital technology to enhance our classroom learning and to support learning in the field. I have already started that project with a professional blog at the college where we revise and extend our remarks concerning classroom materials and seek to engage a wider audience of interested practitioners in the art of army change management. This is already paying dividends and came about as the result of initial rounds of action research that included faculty, administration, students, and curriculum developers.
The link to this “Blog of Log” is: http://usacac.leavenworth.army.mil/BLOG/blogs/dlro/
Our next step is to engage a much wider audience of interested researchers to answer important questions about the educational needs of our students in the area of force generation. This next round of action research will include students of course and we are looking to make an Army wife contribution. A wiki will be a central feature of our inquiry and infrastructure. Tied together with our existing blog to make this a dynamic learning environment for students while they’re here and when they return to the field army.
We’re just starting this project this week as a result of a successful briefing to my commanding general who has given me the green light and high priority to develop this project. I am assembling a team of expert faculty, curriculum developers and students will engage in a series of guided inquiries into future educational needs which I expect to be able to contribute to the future of education project and as the action research to guide my dissertation. I expect the dissertation to include the action research process and my own internal inquiry into improving my own educational practice. I have in mind the diagram we discussed about doing action research in one’s own organization but I don’t have the diagram handy.
Our top level questions are:
1. What do Army Majors need to know about Force Generation?
2. What are the qualities of the educational environment that will best support personal learning environments? (translation: How can we best create the conditions for learning?)
Our supporting questions: these are what we are asking of all the stakeholders to help construct our group knowledge:
1. Who are you and what do you know about Force Generation?
2. What does your organization do in Force generation?
3. What do you think Majors need to know?
4. What can you contribute to our knowledge base?
5. What can majors do with your knowledge?
6. What are your questions about force generation? (we want everyone to learn)
7. What would you do with the answers and why is it important?
8. Who else should be prt of our team?
Our stakeholders list includes a number of Army staff agencies, major commands and organizations that are part of the Generating Force, units and leaders in the field, equipment and personnel providers, administrations, faculty, students, curriculum developers, IT staff (for digital support) and other schools. We have ongoing partnerships with field units to help them learn as they (and we) go thru force generation together.
Pardon the length, but the tale grew in the telling.
No generation of people has had more things available to get in the way of finding excellence in the moment.
We are so busy and distracted by our lifestyle that we are never in the moment. We are always somewhere else.
When we are at work, we are thinkiing about dinner. At dinner we are thinking about the game tomorrow.
On vacation, we are thinking about work. Watching TV we are thinking about vacation.
Our cell fones and iPods and gamestations all create a pseudo-reality around us and take our attention away from where we are and what we are doing. we dont attend to the food we are eating, and jam calories down our throat. On the exercise bucycle we are distracted by earphones and TV screens so that our heads are effectively disconnected from our bodies.
We talk AT our children like objects at a distance, and are advised by experts to schedule time for family meetings and get togethers.
Should I need an agenda to talk to my kids about anything?
I was in line to get a sandwich when I experienced excellence in person in a very visceral way today. It reminded me to seek connection in each and every moment to what is going on, to turn off the chatter and the attention traps that divert the senses.
The nice lady at the counter in our college cafeteria was not very well educated, nor very polished in appearance. She was surrounded by movers and shakers of higher education studying deep, profound theory. They were so caught up in thinking elsewhere they had no time to see her and the quality of her work. She was eager to please and was committed to providing the best customer service she could possibly provide. She was fully engaged and ciommitted to her task. She knew what questions to ask and wasted neither words or motion in preparing sandwiches. Her skill and economy of motion were art in motion.
Not wanting to engage with a member of the great unwashed, the ladies in line in front of me made it a point to blurt out their order in a single complex thought-paragraph, fighting to get their words in edgewise so that the lady would not ahve an opportunity to intrude into their headspace. They couldnt wait to get back to their own conversation. The sandwich maker was unfazed and was perfect in creating their sandwiches which they took without a hint of acknowledging they just shared time and space with another human being. They never saw her.
When it was my turn, she had the opportunity to ask me every questions she want ed to ask. I let her guide me throughour process of building a sandwich together. When it was done i thanked her and remarked that she’d done one heck of a job during this lunch hour madness and that I appreciated her service. We shared a smile.
I never enjoyed a sandwich as much as I did this afternoon. I turned off the monitor, unhooked the phone, and just ate the sandwich and attended to every bite and taste. It was perfect.
The nice lady in the sandwich shop reminded me today about where to find excellence in the world. It’s all around you, if you will look. Where is your excellence? How do you express it everyday and in every way? Are you open to it in the here and now or are you planning to get it tomorrow or wherever else your attention has wandered?