4 = 5

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

always return to Spring
A comprehensive field theory for normative human/cultural development/growth

Dr [PhD] Storrer first discovered the pattern of normative human growth while researching the structural elements of tragedy. He discovered that Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? followed the same structure as did classic Greek tragedy. Further, in this pattern of 4 = 5 lay the only way, according to attic Greeks, for permanent learning, comprehensive learning that guaranteed a pattern of failure would not be repeated.

To see the preamble to this presentation, CLICK HERE.


Science is the process of taking known facts and reducing them to singular formulas.

Art is the process of taking singular ideas and exploring all possible expressions thereof.

No wonder our schools fail, for we rarely reward the person who comes up with an answer that we cannot "prove" by the scientific method. Art leads to Truth, while Science necessarily limits itself to Facts.


First there was pre-history (or her-story, if you like, because it was matricentric or even matriarchal) before the record of our achievements and activities could be recorded. Then there was history (okey, his-story, as the ancient priests turned the world patriarchal), the word made flesh. Now there is post-history (you name it; our-story?).

AOL bought Time Warner. Not the other way 'round, which would have been history. For Time Warner has the product, AOL the process. Time Warner the knowledge (passive), AOL the delivery (active). This was the biggest merger in all of history.

AOL provides delivery ot 54% of the American market while Time Warner through its cable service provides delivery to 20% of the market.

Time Warner publishes 33 magazines (product) which are read by 120 million people. TIME reaches 4 million, PEOPLE 3.25 million and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 3.15 million. Time Warner is also the country's eighth largest book publisher.

Time Warner's films grossed $1.4 billion last year, 18% of the U S market. With the Warner Brothers Network and its three top cable channels, TBS, HBO and TNT, Time Warner has over 9% of the television market. Time Warner sold 119 million records in 1999, 16% of the market.

The difference is, that in the past, history, you took what was given you by the knowledge providers. In the present, post-history, you ask for what you want when you want it. No longer should you have to wait "til Friday" to see the movie when HBO is scheduled to broadcast it. Instead, you dial up your internet provider and ask for it now. (No matter that this is only in its infancy and is yet to be implemented in any major market at a significant level, it is what is next because of this change in the world).

In 4 = 5 terminology, pre-history is 1, history is 2 and post-history is 3. A thousand years from now historians will identify the AOL purchase as the defining moment in "history" of the change from 2 to 3, while we, involved in it, see no such sharp delineation.

The summer of 2000 I hope to be able to settle down and do nothing but write the book on this subject. If this site sees too little change compared to my other web pages, this is why; the book comes before short excerpts on the web.


Why schools fail, or, how do we prevent Littleton and the like.

Why do schools fail? Why do we overlook the obvious? Because the obvious is too expensive, and we are really unwilling to spend what it will cost. Suburbanites who fled the inner city either when the riots hit in the late sixties, or for other reasons, don't see why the burden of improving those inner city schools should fall on them, when they've already been taxed for the nice new schools in the suburbs. But their fleeing to the suburbs is a partial and significant reason for the failure of the inner-city schools.

An unbeautiful environment provides no incentives to a student to achieve or excel. Yet, while suburban high schools have campuses, inner-city schools face tenements and drug-infested high-rises (where the rich suburbanites come to get their drugs). One school in which I have taught, K-6, the oldest part of the building dates to four years after the Civil War!

To improve our schools, the first thing we need to do is upgrade the facilities. In the fifties, when I was in high school, I was politically Republican (as were most of my smart upper middle classmates). I knew we were the future rich, for the Republican party was the party of the wealthy. But why? Well, I thought, it was in their interest to make the schools, particularly the high school, the most modern, up-to-date building in the city. School should be better than home, newer, more inviting. For this cultivated a desire to do better than your parents. Which was Republican.

So why do Republicans reject every school spending project they can? Because the very rich can afford to send their kids to private schools, or live in suburban districts with good schools. In such suburban districts, it is good to ask how many high school buildings are more than 30 years old. At 50 years, you'll get something closely approximating zero.

So, to repeat, to improve our schools, the first thing we need to do is upgrade the facilities. This does not mean putting computers in ancient buildngs. It means putting computers in modern buildings. It means closing structures built before WW II now, and before the Korean War next year. Don't tell me how much it will cost, we either spend the money or America has no future. Japan will soon wake up to the educational reform in Singapore, and will in a generation or two move light years ahead of us. United Europe, where the French fine individuals and companies that respass the limits of their 35-hour work week, will impos punitive import taxes on us for our hidden subsidies to business (such as motor fuel that costs half to a third what it does in Europe). I kid you not.

Aside from the buildings, however, is the question of surroundings. Every school must have campus space around it, green space with sports facilities. A city block in each and every direction from the school building should be open space. For high schools, this open space needs to be expanded on at least one side to include sports facilities. Football for the boys (and perhaps lacrosse for the girls), baseball and softball diamonds for boys and girls, soccer for girls and boys, track (usually around the football field) for both genders and so on, as a minimum.

For every sports facility, there should be equivalent offerings in the arts for the student and each student should be required to take a broad base of arts subjects over the four years of high school. Singing, drawing, movement, speaking/acting, non-prose writing (including poetry and dramatics) should be as expected as reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic.

Why? Because. Such courses expand the problem-solving capabilities of the human brain. They give the possessor more strtegies by which to solve problems. Linear thinking can only do so well on the various college entrance tests such as the SAT, while the arts take us into right-brain capabilities that are complementary to the left-brain skills taught in the 3 Rs.

Because BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER. Our greed-oriented culture (where CEOs reap obscene bonuses far beyond the CEO's talents, particularly given the democratic underpinnings of our country) places the emphasis on the "beholder" part of this statement, but that is wrong. The individual beholder is not the judge of beauty, as history constantly proves. Some of us can tell what of today will be beautiful tomorrow and centuries from now; others cannot even identify what is beautiful today. Beauty is in the EYE of the beholder. The eye is composed of receptors, some which see color, others which see black & white and shades of gray between. We know that certain forms in nature and in abstract geometric renderings are pleasing to the eye. A square, a circle, an equilateral triangle, the golden mean, , 2 and a variety of other shapes and ratios please us. They have pleased us over millenia. Because the eye can SEE these within its retinal limits. Some of these pleasing shapes or ratios are not ratio-nal. Pie is simplified as 22/7, but this runs out rather quickly for 22/7 = 3.14285 while = 3.14159. So what? Well, many things that are beautiful defy rational description. This does not mean, however, that they are not beautiful, only that we have not yet found a way of describing them. So some people can accurately say something is beautiful and be right in historical terms, while others make fools of themselves by pronouncing the ugly to be beautiful.

Yet, to an extent, some can predict what will soon be recognized as beautiful. Nadia Boulanger, listening to Debussy, knew that the interval of the 11th was useful and could be beautiful, and the 13thwas not far behind. Yet in Mozart's day the 7th and 9th were beyond consideration. Monody was followed by parallel lines at the octave. Then the perfect fifth, the next overtone, came in as an harmonic element. The third followed in due time, and the fourth (an inverted fifth). With each acceptable addition came ears retrained to the new sound and soon this needed to be extended, to provide new interest. But the direction of the new extension followed predictable direction, it was not the dissonance someone found pleasing to him/her.

The musical analogy carries into the visual arts and the shapes and ratios that are there acceptible.

The artistic analogies carry into the humanities. Once one perceives beauty in the arts, and has built into ones body the rhythms and ratios of nature, society becomes a whole. When this happens, no one need be left out of the social entity that is called "school," and the recent incidents in Colorado and Georgia high schools need not happen.

The final part of this step to improving our schools must deal with school size. Not class size, though that, too, can be a problem. Littleton was a school of 1900 students. Classmates didn't know each other. Obviously, some felt left out. My own high school class involved 360 students. There were faces at graduation that I didn't recognize, as schoolmates let alone as class mates! I don't know what the optimal size for a student body is, but I suspect it is 250 per grade level maximum. I also went to a very cozy school leading up to high school where the largest grade included 27 students, and this is too small, not enough diversity, particularly concerning choices when one begins dating. To be socially adept, one needs a variety of opportunities, and a dozen is not enough!

There are further ways in which all students can be integrated to the fabric of school life, particularly in the area of the teaching/learning equation. Should you wish to explore this.


Reaching for 5's, or, Reinventing the Wheel

You know how Olympic skaters are rated on a 6.0 basis as perfect, or how the gymnasts are rated on a 10.0 scale. Well, in education, we should be using a scale of 5s. Anything less is undemocratic and, currently, perhaps 95% of all teaching in the United States of America is UNdemocratic.

Undemocratic because teaching is done to only 1/8 of the ways students learn. 7/8 goes untouched except in the classrooms of teachers whom most principals would have fired.

Most classrooms are quiet. Good teaching needs to be noisy at times. Perhaps 7/8 of the time.

Most classrooms are neat. Good teaching is most often messy. Perhaps 7/8 of the time.

Most classes are taught by lecture. The teacher teaches, but the learner does not learn, because 7/8 of learning has to be within the learner.

There are eight types of learners, and we teach only to one. That is why education fails in America. We teach only to the left-brain "what" learners, not the "how," "why," or "what if" types. Though the latter two can adapt, sometimes successfully, we really fail the needs of these three. We teach only to half the brain, avoiding the right, visual hemisphere. Why should anyone expect our schools to succeed? There are methodologies that meet this challenge.


WHEN YOU REACH FOR THE STARS, MOUNTAINTOPS SEEM NEARBY

Phylogeny follows . . .

Or does it? Maybe it is the reverse. Ontogeny follows phylogeny.

"Form follows function," proclaimed Louis Sullivan.

"Form and function are one," corrected Frank Lloyd Wright.

"Function follows form," at least in some instances, proved Richard Neutra.

So all structures are possible given certain environments for their development.

In WESTERN CULTURE, however, there is only one pattern that has proven workable for sustainable, renewable growth in individuals, neighborhoods, villages/towns/cities, cultures and nations. It is a pattern of four equals five, Spring to Summer to Autumn to Winter, and back to Spring. When you reach for the Stars, Mountaintops seem nearby. Stars are Five, Mountaintops Four.

The Attican Greeks knew this pattern. It informs all of their tragic dramas. Tragic drama, in whatever age, follows the structural pattern established in Attic drama. From Aeschylus through Shakespeare to Edward Albee, the pattern has not changed. The Prince of Verona still suffers most from the devastation brought upon his town by the family feud of the Montagues and Capulets. However strange it may seem, it is he who is the tragic hero of this Elizabethan drama, even as our interest is directed to the youthful characters of Romeo and his Juliet. It is he who opens the drama by proclaiming that, for the health of Verona, the two families must make peace. But he takes too little concern with daily matters, goes back to his palace, and all hell breaks loose. It is the Prince who closes the drama by admitting that he did too little to prevent the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet from happening, and he who, as leader of Verona, who suffers most.

In Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? it is George who suffers and learns as he and Martha destroy their imaginary creation, their child, their "blue haired, blonde eyed" boy. Martha, like Medea, does not learn from the experiences delineated within the bounds of the play, so remains a martyr, not a tragic heroine (a concept beyond male-dominant Attic Hellas).

Even the structure of the fully-developed Sonata-allegro movement, the heart of classical composition,is 4 = 5. A slow introductory prologue is followed by the statement of the contrasting themes, the pro- and ant-agonists of the work. The development reorients our entire thinking on these elements, and the recapitulation, now harmonized to the original tonic tonality, sums up our learning, only to be disrupted by a coda that suggests that there is more, perhaps many mores.

The Western world has stumbled through war after war, through plague and famine, taking four steps backward for every five forward, since the first city-state &emdash; father god-focused &emdash; cultures displaced hunter-gatherer &emdash; mother earth-centered &emdash; cultures as the focus and center of cultured life. Wars and economic depressions (the modern version of the plague) will continue endlessly and needlessly until we move beyond science and technology into an artistic environment, much as religion has been (is still being) displaced by science. These patterns are natural to growth at all levels, from the individual to the corporate. Where observed and fully assimilated into the organism, growth and constant renewal, without decay, is possible and normal.

Further, without 4=5, a healthy world is impossible.

The infant cries out to its mother for welcome, acceptance, into this world.

The child turns to its father for direction in the community.

The adolescent looks to its peers for its place in the world it will create.

The adult seeks union with another to start new life.

Containing all of the above, the citizen cries out to th world . . .

This is not a proscription, but a prescription. It is the way of the world, a path we avoid at our peril. The ancient Greeks thought that only by suffering could we learn anything permanently, but, then, life was short in Greece two and a half millenia ago. In current times we've learned that a healthy progress through life's stages can be without the burning fire.

Why are we here?

What do we know?

How do we do it?

What if we did this instead?

Perhaps it hurts to learn from our elders, thinking that such knowledge is complete and inviolable, only to find that we can alter it to better advantage. Perhaps that is the suffering of our time, but instead it should be the joy of having understood knowledge passed to us with which we can do more than have those who passed it on to us.

The newborn infant clings to its mother's breast and cannot control its own bodily functions. As it gains control of these, its eyes wandering around its strange and exciting environment, the parent notices its interest in all things and demands attention; "Pay attention, I'm talking to you," and the infant loses its first level of innocence, as it is expected to organize its gathering of knowledge. But play still lays ahead, as the young one enters learns to stand aright and walk, thus gaining its first freedom from parental control, as it moves into association with other children, and becomes socialized for the first time. Then the first level of true self-sufficience arrives; the infant learns to put on its own clothes and tie its own shoe laces. It is ready for school.

Childhood has arrived.

What, then, of our educational system. Too often based on the lecture. A quarter of our students don't know why they should be intersted in the subject! So, at the beginning of the learning session, the first thing that must happen is we must be given reasons why we are there, perhaps what we bring with us that is relevant to the session's program. Only then does the what, the facts, become meaningful. But we must go beyond the what, or most of us will forget what we have been taught. We must try it out, see how it is useful in real life; this implants it strongly in our memory banks, so that we can recall it whenever it can be useful. This, however, is yet not enough, we need to inspect what we have learned, see if we can improve it in any way, and test it in front of our peers, to share our knowledge with others and celebrate the completion of the learning process, which moves us to a higher level of human knowledge, from which we BEGIN the next sessions work as a continuation of the process, back to the why at this new improved level of human activity.

Yet our culture is based on suffering, so the preceeding scenario is, of course, not possible! Learning must not be easy!

Mother Theresa told Danny Hillis (the first Disney scholar) that hunger could not be prevented nor stopped; she was devoting her life to alleviating the suffering caused by hunger. Danny believes hunger can be eliminated.

I do, too. We are at an historical cusp, and MUST move beyond.

America had its suffering in the War Between the States/Civil War/War of Northern Beligerance (call it what you will from your own viewpoint) before it could become a player in world politics. Then it fell into line with other nations and punished Germany severely for its starting the first World War. What did we reap from this punishment, but another World War. We learned from this suffering to be generous in victory, and have reaped fifty years of peace in Europe (and the Pacific). The first World War was the old Attic Greek pattern with tragic consequences while the second demonstrates the principle of WhoWhatHowWhatIf learning.

 


Email to William Allin Storrer, PhD, should be sent to MINDaLIVE@storrer.com. If you do not receive an acknowledgement, phone 231/352-9343.