Where Do We Go From Here / Summary

[From Erling Jorgensen (991213.1530 CST)]

Bill Powers (991212.0809 MDT)

There is a simple question that remains unanswered. Suppose
a child has committed to being quiet so others can learn.
If he or she has really adopted that reference condition,
how is it even _possible_ for the child to be noisy and
disrupt the learning of others? Even starting to do so would
cause an immediate error in the child, which would be
immediately corrected -- unless that control system had
come into conflict with another one in the same child
that required being noisy to achieve its own ends. Or, of
course, if the committment had never actually been made.

I think the answer lies in your post about gain that I quoted
-- Bill Powers (991201.0933 MDT).

The commitment may have been made in a system with
moderate gain, so that *as long as nothing else more
interesting* is going on, the commitment _is_ maintained
at that reference. But if Bruce A. just told me a neat joke
and I want to get Sally to laugh at it, the gain in that
program path may take precedence. The previous
commitment to not disrupt is presumably still being
controlled, (at a lower gain), but the condition of that
program path "does not apply until after I finish my
joke". (Incidently, this sounds remarkably like the
excuses students give all the time about their disruptions.)

I have not simulated systems at the same level having
different gain, so I do not know if this proposal
actually happens in a working model. In particular,
I do not know of _any_ model that has both program
control systems *and their referencing* systems at a
higher level as a working part of the simulation. So
I do not know whether this is an accurate way to
think of switching among program paths -- what we
once called "making choices," though it seems we
are now using that term when overt conflict is involved.
In this proposal the gain levels are doing the arbitrating,
so it does not really seem to be a choice per se. (It begs
the question, however, as to what sets the gain levels --
and whether there is a way in which they dynamically

BTW, this proposal about gain is not mine. I think
I am picking up on Kent McClelland's work on
conflicting control systems, and then the comments
you recently made re: purposeful conflict.

As I read further, I hear you talking in a similar way
about _other_ commitments/interests the child may have --

If you think a child has made a committment (as we
interpret it in PCT) to being quiet, then the first time the
child becomes noisy you have to revise your belief,
because it has just been disproven. Either the child
made no such committment (despite saying the right
words), or there is something else the child feels is
just as important that requires being noisy.

Your words here do sound a little all-or-nothing, however.
I remind you of your own caution in that previous post about
purposeful conflict --

It's too easy to think of control either existing or not existing.
Actually, it exists on a continuous scale from none to perfect.

If that is true, why do we have to speak as if there were
_no_ previous commitment at all about not disrupting?

I like how you phrase the problem in the rest of this post,
especially --

The basic problem is to find a level at which the child is
not just willing but eager to agree to a reference condition.
Perhaps you could ask, "Would you like to be able to
get along with me, other teachers, and other kids without
being angry or afraid? Would you like us all to be friends?"
Somewhere in there there must be a reference condition
already present, or easily accepted, on which or under
which to build a structure that is socially viable.

My sense is that some of this is part of the initial discussions
with students that introduce the RTP program and which
try to instill some bonding and commitment to each other.

I am not sure that your words --

...sticking stubbornly to
your word and slavishly obeying rules...

is a fair way to describe the commitments that the RTP is
attempting to teach. I think there is a social utility in having
control systems *capable* of keeping one's word. But
I agree that word-keeping is done _for a reason_, and
moving up a level or two to those reasons is (or should be)
the main point of RTP.

All the best,

[From Bill Powers (991214.0832 MDT)]

Erling Jorgensen (991213.1530 CST)--

I should just let you speak for me on this matter, Erling. You're doing
fine, in my estimation.


Bill P.