Teaching and control

[From Rick Marken (2000.09.09.1000)]

Re: Ray Bennett (2000.09.10.2100)

Hi Ray. Your header looks great but could you try to put
it in the body of the post (like mine, above). Your headers
have been going into the subject line and I think people may
not notice them there.

Me:

Yes. Though they may never have to use force or get into an
active conflict. The job of the teacher is to teach. To do
this, the teacher must control certain aspects of the kids'
behavior; the teacher must keep the kids in class, being quiet,
working on their lessons, not disturbing other kids. What I
have described is the reference state for a teachers' perceptions
of student behavior. I think they are good reference states.

Ray

Are you saying here that a good classroom is one that is quiet?

No. I'm saying that I _think_ teachers generally have a reference
for kids being quiet, at least while the teacher is teaching. And
I was saying that I, personally, think that that's a reasonable
goal (reference) for the teacher to have. As an ex-teacher myself
I've found it easier to teach when the students are quiet and, at
least ostensibly, attentive (not talking to each other). Of course,
if the kids are putting on a performance of the Mikado, the teacher
is likely to change her reference for the level of quiet in class.

What do you see as the reason that in some classes there are few
disturbances while in others there are many?

I think there are probably many different reasons. I would guess,
however, that one of the biggest reasons is _how_ a teacher controls
the class. Teachers who feel compelled to "make students behave"
_in class_ probably have far more disturbances than teachers who
deal with the same problem by politely ejecting the disturbing
students from class.

I would be interested in hearinh what do you see as the reason(s)
why some classes have few disturbances and others have many?

Does it have to do with the reference state for the teacher or
the reference state of the students?

I don't think it has to do with the reference states for the
perceptions being controlled (by teacher or student). I think
it has more to do with _how_ the teacher acts to get the
perception to its reference. Since this involves setting lower
level references for certain perceptions (like having a reference
for getting disturbing kids out rather than keeping them in the
class) by the teacher, I guess I would say that the level of
disruption in classes probably depends largely on how the teacher
sets references for the perceptions used to control other
perceptions (like the perception of order in the class).

What do you think?

Schools are being compared on the basis of tests administered each
year. Students are being compared on the results of the test. Is
this a way of controlling others?

Testing and comparing are only part of controlling. If people are
acting to keep the test results matching some reference then,
yes, there is controlling going on. And this controlling would
involve control of a perception of the behavior of others (their
test results).

What help do you (& any others reading this) see competition as
having?

Competition is just conflict. I don't think conflict is ever a
good thing in the long run but it can produce interesting short
term results. You would have to be more specific about the
kind of competition that is proposed for schools. What I've
heard sounds terrible but at least these proposals reflect a
concern about improving the quality of education.

But we're getting a bit off topic, which I thought was something
like "what does PCT tell us about the nature of classroom
teaching"? Do you at least agree that teachers do (and are
even required to) control at least some perceptual aspects of
the behavior of their students? If we can agree on this, then
I think we can move on to talking about what PCT suggests about
how certain teaching goals might be best achieved.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: marken@mindreadings.com
mindreadings.com

[From Rick Marken (2000.09.09.2010)]

Marc Abrams (2000.09.09.2215)

I don't think it [teaching] envolves "controlling" someone elses
behavior.

Could you tell me why you don't think so? I explained why I think
teaching involves some obvious examples of control of behavior.
For example, I explained how one could see that a teacher is
controlling for a certain level of order in the class; when
disruptive behavior occurs the teacher acts in some way -- either
by saying something to the disrutive kid, removing the kid from
class or whatever -- to restore order to the class. Isn't this
clearly an example of controlling the behavior of others (the
disruptive kid, in this case)?

It [teaching] is a matter of finding out how to "reach" the
students. _not_ an easy thing to do.

What is "reaching", in PCT terms?

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: marken@mindreadings.com
mindreadings.com

from Marc Abrams (2000.09.10.0725)

[From Rick Marken (2000.09.09.2010)]

Marc Abrams (2000.09.09.2215)

> I don't think it [teaching] envolves "controlling" someone elses
> behavior.

Could you tell me why you don't think so?

I thought I did. Let me try again.

The word teaching _to me_ implies something that you try to do to someone
else. I don't believe a teacher is especially helpful when the basis of that
teaching is setup on a reward-punishment basis. In order for a teacher to be
"effective" a teacher needs to do 2 basic things. Niether of which is
"controlling" someelse's behavior. (At least according to the limited survey
my daughter took). They are;
1) Show respect for the person ( ie. Don't treat me like a 3 year old ).
Understand that I have feelings and have good days and bad days just like
you do.

2) Show and _feel_ some passion for what you are presenting. Always have the
question " Why would someone want to learn this stuff " in the forefront of
your thinking. As a yeacher, your primary goal is to make a person _want_ to
learn the material. If a person has no interest and interest cannot be
created, you are looking at a potential "problem".

I am not suggesting that this is _easy_ to do. It requires a lot of
commitment an the part of the teacher and a love of learning.

Having "control" issues is a by product of _not_ being an effective teacher.

I explained why I think

teaching involves some obvious examples of control of behavior.
For example, I explained how one could see that a teacher is
controlling for a certain level of order in the class;

This "order" in the class is a result of boredom and lack of interest.
Eliminate the boredom you eliminate the "order" problem

when disruptive behavior occurs the teacher acts in some way -- either
by saying something to the disrutive kid, removing the kid from
class or whatever -- to restore order to the class. Isn't this
clearly an example of controlling the behavior of others (the
disruptive kid, in this case)?

Maybe. It depends on how you approach the "problem". If your purpose is to
"make" the child behave differently then it becomes a control problem. If
you try to understand why the child _is_ a problem so _you_ can change the
way you approach the child then it is not a control problem. If the child
remains distruptive then removal is the only option.

> It [teaching] is a matter of finding out how to "reach" the
> students. _not_ an easy thing to do.

What is "reaching", in PCT terms?

First, what is "teaching", in PCT terms?

I think I explained reaching in my opening paragraph. I don't think
"reaching" is a control process.

Marc

[From Rick Marken (2000.09.10.1000)]

Me:

Could you tell me why you don't think [teaching involves control]?

Marc Abrams (2000.09.10.0725) --

As a yeacher, your primary goal is to make a person _want_ to
learn the material.

What you sare saying is that the primary goal of a teacher _is_
to control other people. What you are saying here is that the
teacher's job is to control what a person _wants_; the percpetual
variable controlled by the teacher is "what the person wants";
the teacher's reference (goal) for this perceptiual variable
is "wants to learn the material", as opposed to other things the
teacher might see the person wanting, such as "wants to listen
to the Wallflowers" or "wants to smoke some weed in the bathroom".

Me:

I explained why I think teaching involves some obvious examples
of control of behavior. For example, I explained how one could see
that a teacher is controlling for a certain level of order in the
class;

Marc:

This "order" in the class is a result of boredom and lack of
interest. Eliminate the boredom you eliminate the "order"
problem

But the process of "eliminating" boredom is part of a control
process, isn't it? There would be no "order problem" if someone
didn't have a reference in their mind specifying the _right_ level
of classroom order to perceive. I think most teachers have such
a reference in their mind and when, for whatever reason, kids
act up, the teacher's perception of classroom order does not match
his or her reference for this perception. So the teacher acts -- by
tryng to eliminate boredom, trying to eliminate disruptive kids, or
whatever -- to bring the class back to the reference level of order.

If teachers were really not controlling for, say, order in the
classroom then, when there were disturbances of any kind the
teacher would do nothing about it. If the class happens to be very
orderly, because the teacher has the students all rapt with
interest, that doesn't mean that the teacher is _not_ controlling
for order in the class. In fact, it might mean that the teacher
is controlling very effectively for order (by keeping the kids
rapt). But you can easily test this by having a kid disturb the
class. If the teacher is really not controlling for order in the
classroom, he or she will do nothing; if the teacher is controlling
for order, the teacher will do _something_ aimed at eliminating
the disruption are returning his or her perception of order to
its reference state.

Me:

when disruptive behavior occurs the teacher acts in some way --
either by saying something to the disrutive kid, removing the kid
from class or whatever -- to restore order to the class. Isn't this
clearly an example of controlling the behavior of others (the
disruptive kid, in this case)?

Marc:

It depends on how you approach the "problem". If your purpose
is to "make" the child behave differently then it becomes a
control problem. If you try to understand why the child _is_ a
problem so _you_ can change the way you approach the child then
it is not a control problem.

I don't understand this? Control is control, isn't it? The child's
behavior is just a perception for the teacher. Even if the teacher
makes an effort to understand why the child is acting up the
teacher will still try to bring order to the classroom. The same
is true in any control situation. Even if I make an effort to
understand why the cursor doesn't stay where I want it -- and
even if I come to understand _why_ the cursor doesn't stay
where I want it -- I am still controlling the cursor when I act
to keep it where I want it.

First, what is "teaching", in PCT terms?

I would say that "teaching" is a word that refers to a whole
collection of behaviors that are the observable side effect of
perceptual control. Teachers (like everyone else) are perceptual
control systems. We catagorize activities in terms of what we
can see. Teachers do a whole list of observable things that
distinguish their behavior from that of people we call doctors,
engineers, plumbers, etc. Teachers walk into classrooms, they
call roll, they give lessons, etc. etc. PCT suggests that all these
activities are observable side effects of keeping various controlled
variables under control. I am guessing that some of the variables
teachers control involve perceptions of the behavior of other
people: their students. They are controlling for non-disruptive
behavior in class; they are controlling for bright, shiney,
interested faces looking back at them; etc. Since people are
not particularly easy to control, teachers vary in how well they
are able to control these perceptions. Teachers have also learned
different means for trying to control these perceptions. I believe
teachers can learn more effective ways of controlling the variables
they control by learning from the more effective teachers -- the
teachers who seem to be able to keep perceptions of things like
classroom orderliness under control.

My guess is that the most effective teachers are the ones who
control using the methods you suggests -- they make class
interesting, they are firm but not rigid, they show obvious
concern for the welfare of the kids, they don't waste class time
trying to get difficult kids to behave correctly in class.

I guess I don't understand why people seem to be arguing that
teaching, unlike everying else people do, is _not_ the control
of perception? Does PCT apply only up to the classroom door?

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: marken@mindreadings.com
mindreadings.com

[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0910.1758)]

Marc Abrams (2000.09.10.0725)

I think I explained reaching in my opening paragraph. I don't think
"reaching" is a control process.

It helps to keep in mind that as far as PCT is concerned, _all_ purposeful
actions are part of control processes. If the teacher attempts to reach the
students he or she is looking for some behavior on the part of the students
that indicates that they have been "reached."

BG

[From Rick Marken (2000.09.10.1710)]

Bruce Gregory (2000.0910.1758)--

It helps to keep in mind that as far as PCT is concerned, _all_
purposeful actions are part of control processes. If the teacher
attempts to reach the students he or she is looking for some
behavior on the part of the students that indicates that they
have been "reached."

That's exactly right. Excellent PCT analysis of "reaching".

The behavior called "reaching" is the control of a perceptual aspect
of another person's behavior. It's probably control of a perception
of the degree to which the other person is interested or paying
attention to you (the controller). The perception of a person who
has been "reached" is probably a perception of a person looking
directly at you, even as you move, with eyes wide open and mouth
asking pertinent questions. The teacher who is trying to reach
students is doing whatever he or she can do to produce this
perception for him or herself. The teacher is controlling for a
perception of "reached".

Best

Rick

···

--

Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
Life Learning Associates e-mail: marken@mindreadings.com
mindreadings.com

[From Marc Abrams (2000.0911.0430)]

[From Rick Marken (2000.09.10.1710)]

Bruce Gregory (2000.0910.1758)--

> It helps to keep in mind that as far as PCT is concerned, _all_
> purposeful actions are part of control processes. If the teacher
> attempts to reach the students he or she is looking for some
> behavior on the part of the students that indicates that they
> have been "reached."

That's exactly right. Excellent PCT analysis of "reaching".

Seems reasonable to me.

Marc

[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0911.1014)]

Here's an example of teaching with minimal efforts to control. After I
had several hundred hours flying "nose-draggers" I decided to learn to
fly a tail-dragger--a cub. My initial efforts at landing were less than
ideal. (They were spectacular, but not in a way I would have liked.) As
we were going around yet again to try to get the cub on the runway, my
flight instructor casually said, "When you've done it your way often
enough to convince yourself that it doesn't work, why not try my way for
a change?"

BG

[From Rick Marken (2000.09.11.0900)]

Bruce Gregory (2000.0910.1758)--

It helps to keep in mind that as far as PCT is concerned, _all_
purposeful actions are part of control processes. If the teacher
attempts to reach the students he or she is looking for some
behavior on the part of the students that indicates that they
have been "reached."

Marc Abrams (2000.0911.0430)--

Seems reasonable to me.

Great. I'd like to hear what other educators, particularly Ray
Bennett and David Wolsk, think about this analysis.

Bruce Gregory (2000.0911.1014)

Here's an example of teaching with minimal efforts to
control.

Excellent example of low gain control. It's particularly
extraordinary since, by controlling with low gain in this
situation, the flight instructor seems to be putting his
or her life on the line.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
MindReadings.com mailto: marken@mindreadings.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0911.1250)]

Rick Marken (2000.09.11.0900)

Excellent example of low gain control. It's particularly
extraordinary since, by controlling with low gain in this
situation, the flight instructor seems to be putting his
or her life on the line.

I had thought to add the note that if things got too far out of line, my
flight instructor would utter the magic words, "I've got it!" and, since
my life was important to me, I quickly abandoned attempts to control the
airplane. Perhaps this sort of "incentive" could be incorporated into
classroom practice.

BG

[From Norman T. Hovda (2000.09.11.1245MST)]

[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0911.1250)]

Rick Marken (2000.09.11.0900)

> Excellent example of low gain control. It's particularly
> extraordinary since, by controlling with low gain in this
> situation, the flight instructor seems to be putting his
> or her life on the line.

I had thought to add the note that if things got too far out of line, my
flight instructor would utter the magic words, "I've got it!" and, since my
life was important to me, I quickly abandoned attempts to control the
airplane. Perhaps this sort of "incentive" could be incorporated into
classroom practice.

BG

Notice the voluntary / non-coercive nature of the teacher / pupil
relationship.

nth

[From Rick Marken (2000.09.11.1400)]

Me:

Excellent example of low gain control. It's particularly
extraordinary since, by controlling with low gain in this
situation, the flight instructor seems to be putting his
or her life on the line.

Bruce Gregory (2000.0911.1250)

I had thought to add the note that if things got too far
out of line, my flight instructor would utter the magic words,
"I've got it!" and, since my life was important to me, I quickly
abandoned attempts to control the airplane. Perhaps this sort
of "incentive" could be incorporated into classroom practice.

Norman T. Hovda (2000.09.11.1245MST)-

Notice the voluntary / non-coercive nature of the teacher / pupil
relationship.

Yes. But notice, also, how this shows that the flight instructor
was in control of the student's behavior all along. Low gain control,
perhaps, but control nevertheless. If the student is about to put
the plane nose first into the runway, this control becomes obvious.
The flight instructor is not volunteering assistance when he says
"I've got it!"; he's telling the student the way it's going to be.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
MindReadings.com mailto: marken@mindreadings.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0911.1713)]

Rick Marken (2000.09.11.1400)

Yes. But notice, also, how this shows that the flight instructor
was in control of the student's behavior all along. Low gain control,
perhaps, but control nevertheless. If the student is about to put
the plane nose first into the runway, this control becomes obvious.
The flight instructor is not volunteering assistance when he says
"I've got it!"; he's telling the student the way it's going to be.

The flight instructor was in control of _the plane's_ behavior all
along. He tolerated disturbances (my efforts to control the plane) as
long as they did not pose a threat to either our well being or the
airplane's. He allowed me to explore the domain of flight to a much
greater degree than I would have been willing to were he _not_ in the
plane.

BG

[From Norman T. Hovda (2000.09.11 1435 MST)]

[From Rick Marken (2000.09.11.1400)]

Me:

> Excellent example of low gain control. It's particularly
> extraordinary since, by controlling with low gain in this
> situation, the flight instructor seems to be putting his
> or her life on the line.

Bruce Gregory (2000.0911.1250)

> I had thought to add the note that if things got too far
> out of line, my flight instructor would utter the magic words,
> "I've got it!" and, since my life was important to me, I quickly
> abandoned attempts to control the airplane. Perhaps this sort
> of "incentive" could be incorporated into classroom practice.

Norman T. Hovda (2000.09.11.1245MST)-

> Notice the voluntary / non-coercive nature of the teacher / pupil
> relationship.

Yes. But notice, also, how this shows that the flight instructor
was in control of the student's behavior all along. Low gain control,
perhaps, but control nevertheless. If the student is about to put
the plane nose first into the runway, this control becomes obvious.
The flight instructor is not volunteering assistance when he says
"I've got it!"; he's telling the student the way it's going to be.

Best

Rick

Understood.

Still, IMO, this is a wonderfully descriptive example of a mutually
agreed, non-coercive, voluntary, consenting adult relationship according
to my reference levels.

The extent to which such "respectful" relationships can be brought to
the adult / child educational experience, i.e., the more such "low gain"
controlling methodologies are utilized the better... assuming
the majority is collectively controlling for less violence.

<g>
nth

[From Rick Marken (2000.09.11.1530)]

Bruce Gregory (2000.0911.1713)--

The flight instructor was in control of _the plane's_
behavior all along.

The plane's behavior _is_ your behavior while you are flying
the plane; the attitude, speed, etc of the plane -- the plane's
behaviors -- were variables you (and your instructor) were
controlling.

He tolerated disturbances (my efforts to control the plane) as
long as they did not pose a threat to either our well being or the
airplane's.

Right. He did not have to act to correct your behavior (the
behavior of the variables he was also controlling) until that
behavior deviated from _his_ references; but he was always
controlling your behavior (some of the variables you were
controlling).

Norman T. Hovda (2000.09.11 1435 MST)

Still, IMO, this is a wonderfully descriptive example of a
mutually agreed, non-coercive, voluntary, consenting adult
relationship according to my reference levels.

I agree.

The extent to which such "respectful" relationships can be
brought to the adult / child educational experience, i.e., the
more such "low gain" controlling methodologies are utilized
the better... assuming the majority is collectively controlling
for less violence.

Yes!! I agree with this. And thank you for articulating so well
the point I've been trying to make. Educators should, indeed, be
developing " "low gain" controlling methodologies" like the one
used by Bruce's flight instructor. But I don't believe it's
possible to develop such methodologies (systematically, anyway)
unless one if willing to recognize the obvious controlling that
is involved in teaching. This is why I am trying to show that
teaching involves control. I don't think you can really fix
something (teaching) until you understand how it works (it's
control of perception).

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313
MindReadings.com mailto: marken@mindreadings.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0911.2003)]

Rick Marken (2000.09.11.1530)

Right. He did not have to act to correct your behavior (the
behavior of the variables he was also controlling) until that
behavior deviated from _his_ references; but he was always
controlling your behavior (some of the variables you were
controlling).

I find this way of describing the world unproductive. You'll forgive me, I
hope, for being unwilling to continue this exchange. We have both made our
points, let's leave it at that.

BG

from Ray Bennett (2000.12.9.2115 CST Aust)

Bruce Gregory wrote:

[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0911.1014)]

Here's an example of teaching with minimal efforts to control. After I
had several hundred hours flying "nose-draggers" I decided to learn to
fly a tail-dragger--a cub. My initial efforts at landing were less than
ideal. (They were spectacular, but not in a way I would have liked.) As
we were going around yet again to try to get the cub on the runway, my
flight instructor casually said, "When you've done it your way often
enough to convince yourself that it doesn't work, why not try my way for
a change?"

BG

It's great to be with people (teachers) who are patient but it seems to me
that there is still an aspect of control in that situation. It is not forced
control. By entering into the situation ther is an aspect of control. If
they had not said anything there may not be any control. I reckon they would
have been more controlling if it looked like you were going to crash the
plane. Some people give more time than others before they show control.
Sometimes it is not necessary because the person does what they would be
controlling for.
Do you have any more examples of strategies used to exhibit minimal control
(if there is such a thing as minimal control)? I reckon having said that
control would be control and is not a comparitive term. What do you think?
Ray

from Ray Bennett(2000.9.12. 2130 CST Aust)
Interesting comments Bruce. How would it go in a classroom? Could you
describe how this approach would take place? Classrooms at schools here,
have around 30 students in them doing things like writing, reading, math,
science etc.
Ray

Bruce Gregory wrote:

···

[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0911.1250)]

Rick Marken (2000.09.11.0900)

> Excellent example of low gain control. It's particularly
> extraordinary since, by controlling with low gain in this
> situation, the flight instructor seems to be putting his
> or her life on the line.

I had thought to add the note that if things got too far out of line, my
flight instructor would utter the magic words, "I've got it!" and, since
my life was important to me, I quickly abandoned attempts to control the
airplane. Perhaps this sort of "incentive" could be incorporated into
classroom practice.

BG

[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0912.0941)]

Ray Bennett (2000.12.9.2115 CST Aust)

Do you have any more examples of strategies used to exhibit
minimal control
(if there is such a thing as minimal control)? I reckon
having said that
control would be control and is not a comparative term. What
do you think?

In my experience, we learn by trial and error. Teachers are most
effective when they allow students to learning by doing. The fewer the
expectations teachers have about what this looks like, the less they
will be perceived as controlling by their students. A teacher cannot
relinquish control but he or she can allow students to assume control in
the domain in which they are learning. Rick seems to me to be obsessed
with the idea of control in the classroom. I feel confident that when he
taught, this obsession did not manifest itself often.

We all know what controlling individuals are like. They are concerned
with controlling the same things others are trying to control. To the
extent I am not concerned with controlling the same perceptions that you
are controlling, you will not feel that I am trying to control you.

BG

[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0912.0947)]

from Ray Bennett(2000.9.12. 2130 CST Aust)

Interesting comments Bruce. How would it go in a classroom? Could you
describe how this approach would take place? Classrooms at
schools here,
have around 30 students in them doing things like writing,
reading, math,
science etc.

You caught me red-handed. I was indeed being facetious. I am in fact
engaging in a modest study of the effect of turning over the role of
explaining from the teacher to the students. My conjecture is that this
will have a significant effect an classroom "behavior". Since you are
interested, I'll be glad to let you know what I discover--classes start
next week! (My first "subjects" will be students at the Harvard Graduate
School of Education. If the NSF thinks the topic worth pursuing, I plan
to work with middle school and high school science teachers.)

BG