Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Get Unstuck

Today I met with a good friend called Michael Bungay Stainer. His blog link is:
Michael rates as not only one of the most decent guys I have got to know in the past year but one of the most creative and brilliant. His book called, Get Unstuck is an extremely helpful tool and his workshop is entertaining and quite genius. I would highly recommend signing up to his newsletter and if you have a team that you would like to help encourage to think outside of the box it would be very worth it to retain his services for the day.

Mark Dowds

Monday, April 24, 2006

The World Wide Web - A New World Order

When considering the world of the web in context of our lives it doesn't take a computer programmer to recognize how it is shaping the potential for independant work, remote work, and self-managing teams. It doesn't take long to find a client facing project management tool, a sales tracking tool, an invoice and time tracking system, along with all of the means to collaborate with a team that lives beyond your home office.

For those who are interested in looking some more and doing research, the following site can lead to endless browsing and discovery. I reveal this site with a warning that it may take many hours of "aha's" and learning to realize what you can now do for cheap or free that is better than what you have in the corporate office.

Mark Dowds

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Is there any positive benefit to IQ testing?

I have been studying IQ testing as part of my Masters in I/O Psychology and have been considering the influence of many historical figures. The information below may not connect with everyone who has not researched into the history of psychology but may give a hint towards the way our perspectives and visions in life can have harmful results for large portions of the population.

If we were to accept that even the most positive intent can lead to the most negative behavior, we can recognize that even a great discovery can have very destructive results. When considering the IQ controversy and assessing fairness one needs to first consider what action the outcome of the tests point to. For instance, when someone is discovered to be in the 80-90 IQ (dullness, rarely classifiable as feeble-mindedness) other than being branded as below the norm the information has limited worth unless applied to some form of streaming. Although Binet did not see himself as rigid a hereditarian as Galton, and stated that a test could only show the present state of a child (not the past, or future), he actively participated in the future of a child by bringing data that would lead to a specified path such as a socially segregated life within a special education environment.
In Northern Ireland, my home country, there is still a test invoked upon 11 year old children at the end of Primary (elementary) school. The result of this test, called the 11+, predicts the next level of education the child will receive. If a child receives less than an A it is more than likely that they will have the following 5 years in what is called “High School”. High School in Northern Ireland has a more technical blue collar or tradesman bent. If a child receives an A they are almost guaranteed to get into “Grammar School”. Grammar school is more academic in nature and extends 2 years longer that high school. In most cases Grammar schools have the better teachers and resources and have the respect in the industrial community when it comes to finding a job. Someone who fails the 11+ or does not get into grammar school can excel and transfer into grammar school at 16 to receive 2 more years of education in preparation for university. This however is a challenge against the odds and often against the culture of a school. Many do make it through like a salmon swimming upstream, however it still seems unfair to test a child at 11 in a way that streams much of their future life and opportunity.

The 11+ illustration is used here to emphasize how information and testing can limit a person’s potential in the same way it can within a special education environment that was being proposed at the time of Galton and Binet. The other side of the argument is interesting, that without segregation things would default to a lower norm or mediocrity. This reflection of eugenics and social positioning is a strange mix of a survival of the fittest mentality (except in this case the fit need to be separated to survive) with the increasing effects of urbanization and industrialization. With future vision casters like Bacon and the rhetoric they embedded in society the natural organic world needed to be altered and mechanized in order to fit the world of the future. Thankfully there were some people like Walter Lippmann who saw things differently and made compelling arguments that highlighted self-fulfilling prophecies and experimenter expectancy effects.

The development of IQ testing in my opinion has led to mostly negative societal results such as, biased immigration laws, data to support racism, xenophobia, educational streaming, and predominance of the white middle class. It can be argued that we have gained through these tests from things like SAT and job fit profiling. A process however that eliminates prior to participation is still one that appreciates the intellect as more superior than the entire system.

Mark Dowds