Viewing victory as defeat

I like A.E. a lot, but I am often puzzled by his analysis. His “Sideshow in the Desert” continues this trend. Take this paragraph, for instance:

Finally, Israel faces a grave threat from within – a threat worsened by its own counter-productive actions. The Israeli-American strategy of marginalizing Hamas and backing the unpopular and corrupt Fatah has led to open Palestinian civil war and humanitarian disaster in Gaza, which has now been cut off from electricity and fuel and declared a “hostile entity” by the Israeli government. Israel has also carried out a strategy of targeted assassinations and limited military incursions within Gaza in the hopes of undermining Hamas and deterring its frequent rocket attacks.

Isreal is a small country surrounded by hostile regimes. The only way such a state can continue to exist is if her neighbors distrust her neighbors more than they distrust her. (The United Arab Republic was so dangerous because it suggested that the Arabs would put aside their mutual animosity to finally destroy Israel.) The break-up of the Palestinian Authority into Fatah and Hamas controlled territory is a wonderful improvement for Israel, because it creates a revolutionary state whose main objective is the overthrow of her other neighbors.

Yet A.E. considers such progress “counter-productive.”


OODA Alpha, Part XI: Student Interaction

Human nature makes no sense except in the context of social interaction (Vygotsky, 1978; Boyd, 1986; Tooby & Cosmides, 1992; 2005; Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 2002; Alford & Hibbing, 2004). This allows the academic system to function. Whether learners are engaged in construction rationality through multiple perspectives and reflection (Piaget, 1932/1965, 1985, 2001; Moshman, 1995, 2005) or peer tutoring (Topping & Bryce, 2004), academics cooperation is used in a variety of contexts (Das & Das, 2004; Ping & Swe, 2004; Carter & Hughes, 2005; Nambissan, 2005).

However, while cooperation may come naturally and easily from learner’s orientation, it may not be the form of cooperation that educators wish. Various forms of fairness driven cooperation needs to be suppressed by teachers such as cheating (Lin & Wen, 2007) and classroom disruption (Paulsel & Chory-Assad, 2005). An approach to modify cooperation among learners is needed, so that it can be disrupted where it hurts and encouraged where it helps.

In order to make cooperation work, however, an environment must be created where cooperation makes more sense than non-cooperation. One such way to do this is by individuals encoring common standards of decency on each other (Boyd, et al., 2003; Orbell, et al., 2004). Teachers often encourage peer-on-peer sanctioning, whether directly (Mann, 2006) or indirectly (Ronen & Langley, 2004). This works because enough learners often both willing to help others but averse to being unfairly used (Hibbing & Alford, 2004; Smith, 2006), caring about fairness and procedural justice (Gold, et al., 1984; Hibbing & Theiss-Morse, 2001; Alford & Hibbing, 2004). The concern for fairness even manifests itself in the brain (Singer, et al., 2006) and heritable (Wallace, et al., 2007) though of course is mediated by the broader culture (Henrich, et al., 2001). In other words, it’s part of orientation.

Four options present themselves for altering behavior when orientation does not produce the desired actions. First, reorientation might be used. Yet as mentioned above, there are a host of positive forms of cooperation that may be impacted by such manipulation of minds.. Second, students can be removed from even social activities by computer systems that mimic experts (Lehman, Bruning, & Horn, 2003) or peers (Kim & Baylor, 2006). However, the feasibility of cyber- and robotic learning companions is not yet determined. Thirdly, the academic environment can be made more resilient if such manipulation of the social environment is unfeasible (Doll, Song, & Siemers, 2003; Doll, Zucker, & Brehm, 2004). To the extent that altering the nature of social contacts is not realistic, altering the context in which those contacts happen is the wise course.

Another approach is to use disorientation to interrupt the natural behavior of learners. Disorientating stimulus might vary by task or situation, so environments that are likely to produce beneficial forms of cooperation may lack it while situations that may lead to harmful forms of cooperation would be purposefully disorienting.

OODA Alpha, a tdaxp series
1. Abstract
2. Dual Processing Systems
3. The OODA Loop
4. Decision
5. Orientation
6. A Theory of Mind
7. Reorientation
8. Disorientation
9. Education
10. Instruction
11. Student Interaction
12. Creativity
13. Bibliography