NLA Discussion: The Philosophy of Measurement
cbking at flash.net
Thu Nov 18 10:49:51 EST 1999
Below is, I think, a relevant paragraph on the history of measurement and
how it relates to human development. It is taken from Bernard Lonergan's
"Insight, A Study in Human Understanding," p. 463. I thought it might help
sort some of these issues out.
>"The extra-ordinary success of the physical sciences naturally enough led
>investigators of the organism, the psyche, and intelligence, to a servile
>rather than an intelligent adoption of the successful procedures. In
>physics and chemistry, measuring is a basic technique that takes inquiry
>from the relations of things to our senses to their relations to one
>another. But when one mounts to the higher integrations of the organism,
>the psyche, and intelligence, one finds that measuring loses both in
>significance and in efficacy. It loses in significance, for the higher
>integration is, within limits, independent of the exact quantities of the
>lower manifold it systematizes. Moreover, the higher the integration, the
>greater the independence of lower quantities, so that the meaning of one's
>dreams is not a function of one's weight, and one's ability in mathematics
>does not vary with one's height. Besides this loss in significance, there
>is also a loss of efficacy. Classical method can select among the
>that solve differential equations by appealing to measurements and
>empirically established curves. What the differential equation is to
>classical method, the general notion of development is to genetic method.
>But while the differential equation is mathematical, the general notion of
>development is not. It follows that while measurement is an efficacious
>technique for finding boundary conditions that restrict differential
>equations, it possesses no assignable efficacy when it comes to
>particularizing the general notion of development."
It is the struggle between these two kinds of movements--classical data and
developmental data--and their various treatments, that is at the bottom of
the problems at the policy and accountability level.
Education is first and foremost developmental, which falls under genetic
method. It's not that we cannot be accountable; it is rather that
accountability at the higher levels of development, e.g., psyche,
intelligence, morality, spirituality, etc., cannot be developed around
orders of time and mathematical numerations--it is extremely naive to do so.
First, the nuances of quality are not of the same order as quantity. Those
orders must be developed in a completely different way, and we should know
what we are doing when we are doing it. We are not there yet. EFF is a
start, but only that.
Second, the emphasis is on the individual and not on cumulative orders of
individuals. The flow of power is from the teacher to the individual
student, and not from the students as a statistical number to some happy
cumulative order. It is not to get rid of statistical science. It is to
rather know that the emphasis here is out of order and doesn't fit the
structure of the data--individual, conscious, developing human beings.
Best to all,
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