We’re scheduling a tour for nonfiction / education / economics “The Failure of University Education for Development & What To Teach Instead”.
The tour runs from October 3 to November 3. We’re setting up book reviews, book excerpt posts, author interviews and promo posts during the tour.
Please let us know if you’d like to host this tour.
About the Book
Title: The Failure of University Education for Development & What To Teach Instead
Author: Samuel A. Odunsi, Sr.
Genre: Nonfiction, education, economics
Finally, a New Big Idea that Solves Our Toughest Problems.
New book by Samuel A. Odunsi, Sr. defines the problem of tacit cultural knowledge in education and how to solve it.
University education may benefit the individual, but it has not led to overall economic development. For many developing countries, the hope behind university education far exceeds the results. The ideas and solution presented in this book provides a way to equalize the results of university education with the hope and unrealized expectations behind it.
- Education cannot teach everything about development. The most crucial aspects of development are tacit in nature and cannot be directly expressed or taught. Instead, they are acquired passively in culture.
- Liberal Education has struggled with this problem. While its lofty goals are well defined, they cannot be met without the tacit knowledge for development, which it can barely define, much less teach.
- The concept of “Cultural Diversity” recognizes that there are differences between cultures, including tacit cultural knowledge.
- The tacit knowledge needed for development is not specific knowledge. Instead it is the connection of the elements of the western economic model, that may be learned in school, to the language capacity that all human beings already possess and use for creatively expressing the spoken language.
- This is why expatriates from the West and the developed countries of Asia often perform successfully as managers and entrepreneurs in the developing countries, despite the constraints of underdevelopment. To them, the elements of the economic model are merely vocabulary to be expressed as management, administration, or entrepreneurship, using the language capacity.
- The purpose of university education should be to connect technical knowledge about economic development with the language capacity that students already possess. In the same way that the human language capacity can be repurposed for the use of a second language. Graduates can then express the economic model with the versatility and creativity they already use for expressing the spoken language.
- The means for achieving this purpose is now available and presented in the book and on this site: www.HumanRethink.net.
- Help bring real change to our world. Make it happen now. Contact mail@HumanRethink.net
Born in Nigeria, Samuel A. Odunsi, Sr. left for college in Texas in 1982 and has lived in Austin ever since.
A new big idea about how education actually works and how to bring real development to the rest of the world has finally been developed.
I stumbled on this discovery decades ago, after years of working as a freelance research assistant in the Austin, Texas area. I realized that this is what marked the difference between education that could make the university graduate an effective manager, no matter the area of specialization, and education that merely promised to do so. It was the difference between the disorder of the world in which we live, and one where every country can be as developed as the western nations.
But I was not an academic, and I’m still not one. This meant I couldn’t pursue the new ideas full time. Nevertheless, I spent much of my free time researching and substantiating these ideas. However, the demands of making a living in a business that is unrelated, and the demands of family made it a never ending project.
Meanwhile, 9-11 happened, then the Arab Spring, then ISIS. In all these events, I believe my ideas had an important role to play. I believe they provide the essential but missing narrative in these events as well as in many others. The new ideas provide the answer to a lot of questions.
In 2015, after the loss of my father and younger sister, I realized I may never have the time to present the ideas in the 5 volumes I had always planned. At the same time, I also realized that the solution was more important than the presentation or its length. I then proceeded to write down my key ideas in 1 short volume, using language that is accessible to the casual reader. I now have a book ready!
I’m in the process of presenting the contents of the book on Humanrethin.net, broadcasting them as much as I can, taking on all challengers, and raising funds to begin implementation anywhere on the planet.
But first, I need to get the ideas out there. I’m hoping this book tour will help.
“The problem of persistent underdevelopment has only one cause. It is the failure of university education to fulfill the promise to underdeveloped countries that it provides more than technical training. The consistent failure of university education to provide graduates with the ability to perform as effectively as expatriates from the West and from the developed countries of Asia is the single cause of underdevelopment.
These countries now have an army of university graduates. Yet, they continue to wait for development to begin at some unknown future date. The university education received has been good mostly for technical skills which still needs to be supervised by somebody else.”
“The oil industry in underdeveloped countries is an example. The mining, drilling, distribution and refinement of oil cannot take place consistently and at current levels without Exxon, BP, Shell, and many other Western companies that supervise and manage these operations. Even when there is a “national oil company” that engages in oil extraction and refining on a large scale, such operations are not run by nationals. They cannot exist at the current scale and efficiency without expatriate leadership at multiple levels. That is why apparent competence in the oil business in a PUC (persistently underdeveloped country) has not spread to other areas of the economy. Supervisory competence is supplied by expatriates who are in short supply.”
“The symptoms of the failure of university education include corruption, poor governance, instability, poor infrastructure, terrorism, poverty and all the other problems that we see in underdeveloped countries. As long as university education remains ineffective, the symptoms are incurable. Nevertheless, expatriates have always operated and maintained successful businesses and other organizations of various sizes in these countries. The symptoms do not affect their performance. The symptoms “affect” only the indigenes of the country. The performance of expatriates shows that there is no “gradual” in real development. If the thousands of existing university graduates have been as effective as the expatriates who make things work in their countries, underdevelopment will not exist today, the symptoms will be gone.”
“…persistent underdevelopment is a problem that shows the same symptoms in every country, where university graduates often cannot independently or autonomously make things work effectively and perpetually without expatriates. Depending on the size of revenues from natural resources, the size of foreign aid, globalization, or a lack of these, the number and intensity of symptoms from this problem may differ from one country to the next. The history of each country also may be uniquely different. But in varying degrees, the incurable symptoms of the problem are the same. These symptoms are then forever studied as independent “causes.” We don’t do that here.
NOTHING IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE
“It is wrong to claim that university education is fine the way it is. The claim means that something is wrong with the people that education is not working for. That is not true. Nothing is wrong with people. Instead, something is wrong with the education.
It is also wrong to suggest that education does not work because the quality of education is low. In nearly all cases, the quality of the educational system that was handed over by the colonialists on Independence Day was higher than it is today. Better quality education did not bring real development back then. In addition, thousands of people from underdeveloped countries have received their degrees from ‘higher-quality’ Western universities.” Education has simply never met its expectations.
RESONANCE, THE MISSING COMPONENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION
“Our conception is that managerial, entrepreneurial, administrative, leadership or competence, and other such designations, refer to the same quality in the individual. Resonance is what we call this quality, the ability to consistently and contingently make effective managerial and entrepreneurial decisions, no matter the area of specialization.” When the individual expresses resonance, observers then choose to label it as management, or administration, or entrepreneurship, etc.”
Higher education is promoted as if it already imparts resonance. The evidence says otherwise. “Without resonance, technical skill is like sugar without the tea, spice without the food. No matter how advanced the university-acquired skill, it will contribute little to the goals of development, because resonance is missing.”
THE CRUSOE EFFECT
“The widely-held belief that development is taking place gradually in the PUCs is also wrong. What is taking place is modernization without development. China (and Korea before it) has demonstrated the only standard of development that should be acceptable in our world. Development was gradual in the West because development can only keep pace with the level of technology and productivity in the Western free market. For the most part, there was no already developed country to set an example for the West. In contrast, China shunned capitalist opportunities on ideological grounds and embraced isolation for decades (after ending imperialist meddling in its affairs). But when it chose to participate in capitalist industry, the example of the West was already there to be followed. China’s development became less a question of developing, and more about putting to work the resonance of its people. Catching up to the opportunities of available technology and industry was simply a byproduct of that.”
“When resonance is plentiful, development is automatic and will happen relentlessly fast. This should be seen as normal, not extraordinary. China’s economy may currently be slowing down, but that’s only because, at the top end, it is reaching the limits of available technology and human knowledge for growing the economy. The same limits are confronting the West. This phenomenon is what we call the “Crusoe Effect,” named after Robinson Crusoe.”
“Where that is not the case, where resonance is in short supply, then we see ‘gradual development’ that never seems to make development happen, another name for persistent underdevelopment and its symptoms.”
MALFUNCTIONING WESTERN ECONOMIES
“A PUC (persistently underdeveloped country) is not an economy that has the option to choose between whether it should develop like the West or not to develop like the West. Colonialism has already made these countries Western economies, on paper and in practice. These countries were remade by force in the image of the Western economy as a condition of colonialism. On Independence Day, the colonialists handed over a Western economy, complete with government administration, public institutions, a bureaucracy…”
“Colonialism disrupted the continuity of traditional institutions and methods that were used for generations to independently provide the economic needs of local populations, replaced them with Western methods, and ensured their permanence with arbitrary territorial boundaries and a central government.”
“These imposed systems were not later disbanded by indigenes. Neither were the arbitrary territorial boundaries. Instead, the boundaries defined by colonialism have been enforced by all available means, including war. The imposed institutional systems have been expanded, and additional ones from the West have been voluntarily adopted and implemented as the ideal. The PUCs are bound to their malfunctioning Western economies to the same degree of “irresistible force” that the developed countries are bound to theirs.”
THE PAIN OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT
“The real war of ideas, which is ongoing, but is unstated by either side, is between the promise of the Western economic model, on the one hand, and disillusion from the permanent and humiliating inability to attain it, on the other hand. This inability includes the historical failure of remedies that seem to have worked as expected in the developed countries, such as education, capital investment, loans, and privatization. For numerous PUCs, decades of revenues from the export of oil, gas, and other raw materials belong on the list of failed remedies. Globalization can now be added to the list. This disillusion is rampant and widespread. It is expressed sometimes as belligerence for the West. Fortunately, much of that is vented harmlessly in response to polling questions, not with terrorism. But the source of disillusion is never mentioned in any situation. It is frustration with the permanent inability to realize the promises of the Western economic model that is in place, and from which there is no escape. It is frustration with the failure of all attempts to remedy the inability, and the consequences of this impotence. This is the pain that all the PUCs have in common. This is the unspoken grievance.”
THE HIDDEN LANGUAGE (CHAPTER 8)
“Academia has not been able to articulate and sustain a unitary concept, along the lines of resonance, without a determinist and offensive Darwinian, genetic, or racial component, or a derogatory moral component, such as religious work ethic and laziness. The steady ascendance of political correctness…has therefore meant the unofficial ban of a unifying concept. In today’s academia, the idea of resonance is fragmented to a ridiculous extent. On the one hand are the professional schools that claim to impart the skills of management, entrepreneurship, administration, and other subdivisions of resonance. On the other hand, we repeatedly hear in graduation speeches that the liberal education curriculum has imparted the same skills to all graduates, through the study of literature, humanities, natural science, social science, and so on. While this fragmented approach has been less controversial, it has served to permanently divert attention from a unifying concept that is essential and unavoidable.”
“…science does not know enough about how language works to claim that the human language capacity is reserved only for using the visible language that we speak, write, read and listen to. Instead, science claims a “poverty of the stimulus.” This means that humans learn language faster and more efficiently than can be accounted for by the sights and sounds and interaction with other humans in the environment of a young child. It means that humans are born with a special power to learn and use language that science cannot explain. Humans are born with an unconscious organizing concept for language, and ‘poverty of the stimulus’ is a complicated way of saying ‘we don’t know what that is.’”
“…the claims made for the effectiveness of liberal education in the developed countries rely 100% on this foundation of resonance that is passively acquired in culture, primarily outside the classroom. Regardless of the intention of the academy, or the claims made for liberal education, higher education has only been able to build on the foundation of resonance that is passively supplied by culture.”
“When a person who speaks one language learns to speak another, the language capacity of the individual is repurposed for use with the second language. Higher education does not know how to similarly repurpose the capacity for visible language for use with the hidden language of resonance, as is possible with a second visible language. The West never had to do so for itself… does not know how to do so for people who do not acquire resonance passively in culture.” It never did.
“The apparent effectiveness of Western education in a few Asian countries and their diaspora can only mean that, like Westerners, they acquire resonance passively in culture. But without the culturally supplied foundation, without resonance, higher education would be ineffective even in the developed countries…However, we really do not care about how the developed countries do something that they themselves cannot explain. Instead, we have discovered a curriculum that bypasses the vagaries of culture, and independently imparts resonance in the academic setting, systematically and far more consistently than its passive learning in culture ever did for even the developed countries.”
CULTURE AND LANGUAGE (CHAPTER 9)
“Development is part of Western culture. This means that everything that has been accomplished to date in development is within the easy conceptual reach of the members of the culture. This will include not only the symbols, artifacts, customs, concepts and technologies of the culture that are teachable, but also this: A tacit grasp, a feeling that cannot be expressed in words, about the concepts and ideas that these various aspects of culture have in common, for the apparent purpose of maintaining the culture, for the purpose of at least maintaining the existing level of development. This is knowledge within the individual about how everything works together, about how everything should work together, and about how everything could work together for the purpose of at least maintaining culture and perhaps, for extending it. This knowledge is… a common thread that runs through all this knowledge, providing at least a vague but unceasing theme or sense of unity, a central organizing concept or principle that serves as an unconscious guide at all times.”
“A visible language usually consists of thousands of words. A person learns to speak and use a visible language when the words of the language become connected with his or her inborn central organizing concept for language. When that happens, the words become vocabulary. For someone who doesn’t understand or speak a specific visible language, the words are not vocabulary. Instead, they are just a long and overwhelming list of meaningless disparate terms. Even with the aid of a conversion dictionary, that person cannot communicate effectively with the language or construct coherent sentences on a contingent basis, and any attempt to do so will quickly overwhelm the person.”
“Similarly, the “words” of resonance consist of the ideas and concepts of the Western economic model. They include the empirical and technical information about government, public and private institutions, communities, organizations of people, businesses and commercial enterprises, human and material resources, technology, etc. We learn the “words” of resonance by growing up in culture and through formal education.”
“Without a connection to the inborn central organizing concept for language, however, these “words” cannot be coherently used for the efficient and productive implementation of the Western economic model. But when that happens, when the ideas and concepts of the Western economic model become integrated with the central organizing concept for language, then the “words” of resonance are converted into vocabulary that can be implemented as management, administration, entrepreneurship, the Crusoe Effect, etc. Hence, the use of resonance demands no more of our reasoning faculties than we need for using visible language. The use of resonance does not require special intelligence.”
“On the other hand, Western-style economic development is not part of the culture of the PUCs. By definition, resonance is not automatically acquired through culture. The Western economic model of a PUC is largely external to local culture. They do not “own” the Western economic model in which they live, like Westerners and Asians do. They cannot use the hidden language of resonance to make development happen because knowledge about the Western economic model, acquired informally or in school, is not connected with the central organizing concept for language. Such knowledge remains a long and list of terminology. It is not a vocabulary for resonance because it’s not integrated with the central organizing concept of language. Hence, it cannot be effectively used for the efficient and productive implementation of the Western economic model. Instead, such knowledge is used as a list of fixed protocols that is consulted and directly practiced or applied.”
WHAT TO TEACH INSTEAD (CHAPTER 10)
“The central organizing concept is the autonomous ability of humans to use language, whether or not the language is visible. Resonance is the connection of this central organizing concept to the empirical and technical information that has been acquired by the individual, or that might be acquired through education. The job of higher education is to ensure this connection in students, while broadening and completing their resonance vocabulary. For those who are yet to make the connection, for students of the PUCs, higher education should do so thoroughly and completely…for those who acquired resonance passively in culture, higher education should complete their resonance vocabulary, and nurture to full strength, the connection of their economic model with their central organizing concept. The same curriculum should accomplish these goals for both types of student. This is what liberal education has implicitly promised to do, already claims to do, but doesn’t know how to do.”
We describe how our curriculum will do this in 3 years for every graduate. Real development can then begin, as the new graduates disperse in society in the roles that university graduates normally occupy.