Re: Where Do We Go From Here?
(at least the portions dealing with "keeping a commitment")
[From Erling Jorgensen (991212.0100)]
This is my attempt at condensing the more relevant points that
I think are coming out of this discussion. It is my own
ideosyncratic version, and not a full and fair "summary" of the
thread, as some have hoped would occur from time to time
with complicated threads.
I�ll reference a variety of posts from different participants
in highlighting what I consider helpful insights.
By way of introduction --
Rick Marken (991210.1030)
I like to teach PCT and I continue to imagine that there may
be _someone_ out there who wants to learn this stuff.
Don't worry. I'm not flustered by the gaming. I enjoy teaching
to my imaginary audience and I get all my other work done too.
There _are_ those of us who are listening, to *both* sides,
thinking hard about the issues, and learning in the process.
Unfortunately, responding and joining the discussion does not
always allow getting all _my_ other work done too.
Well, into the fray --
Bruce Nevin (991210.1640 EST)--
Rick Marken (991210.1500)
As means of controlling a self-concept, a principle of
keeping commitments or maintaining the reciprocity of reliable
social relationships is controlled by means of some particular
interaction with other people.
And I agree. Commitments are principle perceptions. And, as you
note, we control commitments _as the means_ of controlling
system (social) type perceptions, like "being an American".
I think I would say (with Bruce) that *keeping commitments* is
the principle perception. I believe any given commitment
is closer to a _program_ perception, that says "under this set of
circumstances [I will] do X." Whether I do so "consistently"
or "faithfully" is the principle perception of *keeping my
Just to be clear, the program-commitment that I am thinking
of here is not the one Bjoern raises -- [Bjoern Simonsen
(991211.10:15 EU-time)] -- about going to the RTC if I
disrupt, but the earlier and more basic commitment that
"when other students are trying to learn, I will not disrupt."
But if it is fair to say a given commitment is a particular path of
a program (i.e., "under this set of circumstances [I will] do X"),
I believe (with Rick) that it is well modeled by a spreadsheet
simulation that introduces a constant into a particular control
loop. *Making a commitment* is communicating (at least to
myself, perhaps to others) that that path will be followed in
This is what Rick mentioned in --
Rick Marken (991208.2130)
I understand "keeping a commitment" to mean keeping a
perceptual variable in some agreed to state. A child who is
keeping a commitment to be quiet in class, say, is
maintaining a perception of his own noise level in an agreed
to state of "quiet". A child who keeps such a commitment
is doing the equivalent of setting the reference value for
one of the intermediate level perceptual variables in my
spreadsheet hierarchy to a constant."
As a side issue, Rick�s particular 3-level spreadsheet doesn�t
quite capture it, because there it is a sensation perception and
not a program perception that is held constant. I agree that
the sensation of voice loudness is part of the implementation
of the commitment, but the commitment itself has to do with
under what circumstances I will do so, and thus a program
perception. Moreover, in Rick�s simulation there are no
input functions or control loops corresponding to principles,
and presumably those would provide the constant reference
signal for the program-commitment. But his demo does
demonstrate the concept of a fixed reference signal, and
how other control loops (especially those above) must then
work around that control loop. That is a useful way to
conceive of "commitments" (IMHO.)
I believe, however, that Bruce N. makes a crucial point that
the "What are you doing?" dialog of RTP, with a potential
follow up dialog of "I see you have chosen..." etc., involves
(or attempts to) the phenomenon we call *going-up-a-level*.
I am not sure if he has made that assertion in so many words,
but that is how I interpret several of his statements. I first got
that sense from the following post:
Bruce Nevin (991201.2343 EST)
The teacher is not watching behavior and inferring intentions,
the teacher is watching a disturbed variable (interference with
students' learning) and referring to a mutual commitment, on
the part of all present, to control that variable. Referring, not
The key words for me here are "referring to a mutual [prior
implied] commitment". My understanding is that when the
"rules" are first laid out in a RTP classroom, they are
presented in the context of a "standard" (which I see as a
principle in this setting) that everyone has a right to learn
free from undue disruption. I also thought (though I may be
wrong) that there was an attempt to get everyone to "sign on"
to that principle, as a fair way to run a classroom.
Bruce N. continued in the same post --
One purpose is to teach the students to control the variable
"no disruptions to other students' learning" and to control the
rule "second disruption, then go the the RTC to figure out
how to be in class without disruption." I think the reason for
the verb "choose" was to re-frame "misbehavior" (the disruptions)
as the first step of a constructive program. In this way of
construing events, the student is in charge of carrying out
this program and has taken the first step in doing so.
If each student has already established a (principle-level)
control system capable of perceiving and controling for what
would make a fair classroom, namely, that each student is
free to learn without undue disruption, then the point of the
"What are you doing?" etc. dialogs are to help the student
move up to that level. Once there, then programs other than
disrupting antics can be chosen -- the program level as a
whole is free to vary. This would include *choosing* the
previously established program path "in this learning setting,
do not disrupt," which probably _every_ student is controling
to some degree. [See Bill P.�s point about gain in the thread,
"Purposeful conflict" -- Bill Powers (991201.0933 MDT);
for instance: "It's too easy to think of control either existing
or not existing. Actually, it exists on a continuous scale from
none to perfect." ]
I think this matter of existing control systems in each student
is what Bruce N. is getting at in a later post --
Bruce Nevin (991207.1858 EST)
The intent, as I see it, is to frame events in terms of this
conflict within the child. This conflict is the basis for a
choice. The child resolved the conflict by lowering the gain on
control of "no distractions". The reason for the verb "choose"
is to affirm the child's responsibility for controlling both sides
of the conflict, not just the side that resulted in distracting
While it may not be the best wording, "I see you have chosen
..." can still lead to the student�s going up a level -- [at least
in an imagination-mode scenario I can think of ].
Teacher: I see you have chosen to go to the RTC room.
Student: No, I haven�t!
Teacher: Haven�t you?? I thought you had agreed not to
Student: Well, ...
Teacher: I�m simply expecting that you�ll keep your word,
either by staying here without disrupting, or by going to the
RTC room so others can learn.
This is also why I think Rick�s point about the fixed reference
is important. The teacher is explicitly asking that the student
maintain that prior commitment at its previously established
level, and find other ways to achieve his/her other goals.
Where I disagree with Rick is in this matter of other available
degrees of freedom, which are not present in the streamlined
teaching tool of his spreadsheet model. I believe this was the
point Bruce Abbott was making --
Bruce Abbott (991210.1450 EST)
A control system employs variable means to achieve a
single end. Example: If the child wants to have Sally laugh
at his joke he can opt to tell the joke to Sally after class
rather than during it. This may accomplish the same end
(if Sally is amused by the joke) while allowing the child to
keep his commitment not to disrupt the class. So a model
of this would just do what control systems always do --
if one means doesn't achieve the end, use another.
Getting back to Bruce N.�s assertion that an up-a-level
phenomenon is involved for the student (or at least attempted
and promoted by the teacher). This is the part that I believe
addresses Rick�s recent question --
Rick Marken (991210.1940)
For example, what
was it about the PCT model that led the developers of RTP to
decide that an important part of the program would be getting
a child to keep a commitment?
I know Ed Ford came the Glasser route. But from hearing
and talking with Ed at either the 1993 or 1994 CSG meeting
in Durango (or both), I believe Ed and other developers /
implementers of RTP realized that the child�s own goals had
to be an essential part of the program. That led (as I understand
it) to the importance of having at least implicit agreement on a
key premise, namely, that students in school have a right to
learn without undue disruptions from other students. I believe
when first implementing the program there is extensive
discussion with students, with a view to committing to that
as a fair principle.
That is the "reorganization process", as I understand it, that
establishes in each student a control system capable of
monitoring (i.e., perceiving and controling) such a principle,
and program control systems *committed* (i.e., locked in,
at least in theory) to �avoiding being a disruption�.
If such does occur, then a process of questions and/or
statements designed to help a student go up a level and
utilize all those control systems, would seem a fair procedure
in a program labelled "Responsible Thinking."
As I said at the beginning, this is a selective sampling and
response to a number of important points that have been
made in this thread, and is simply how I am currently
combining all the pieces.
Thanks to all the contributors. Best to all.