Ways to Run Away from An Educational Problem

I found an old sheet in my files. It was a mimeograph copy of a writing by Paul B. Diederich that was published in Today’s Education, 1968. The title was “Twenty-seven Ways to Run Away from an Educational Problem.” Unfortunately, the twenty-seventh item was on a missing page. So all I have are twenty-six!*

But here they are! Worth reading and applying to any particular problem involving business, education, politics, whatever! Enjoy.

  1. Find a scapegoat and ride him. Teachers can blame administrators, administrators can blame teachers, both can blame parents, and everyone can blame the system.
  2. Profess not to have the answer. That lets you out of having any answer.
  3. Say that we must not move too rapidly. That avoids the necessity of getting started
  4. For every proposal, set up an opposite and conclude that the “middle ground” (no motion whatever) represents the wisest course of action.
  5. Post out that an attempt to reach a conclusion is only a futile “quest for certainty.” Doubt and indecision promote growth.
  6. When in a tight place, say something that the group cannot understand.
  7. Look slightly embarrassed when the problem is brought up. Hint that it is in bad taste, or too elementary for mature consideration, or that any discussion of it is likely to be misinterpreted by outsiders.
  8. Say that the problem cannot be separated from other problems. Therefore, no problem can be solved until all other problems have been solved.
  9. Rationalize the status quo; there is much to be said for it.
  10. Point out that those who see the problem do so because they are unhappy–rather than vice versa.
  11. Ask what is meant by the question. When it is sufficiently clarified, there will be no time left to answer.
  12. Discover that there are all sorts of dangers in any specific formulation of conclusions: of exceeding authority or seeming to, of asserting more than is definitely known, of misinterpretation by outsiders, and of revealing the fact that no one has a conclusion to offer.
  13. Look for some philosophical basis for approaching the problem, then  a basis for that, then a basis for that, and so on back to Noah’s Ark.
  14. Move away from the problem into endless discussion of various ways to study it.
  15. Put off recommendations until every related problem has been definitely settled by scientific research.
  16. Retreat into general objectives on which everyone can agree. From this higher ground you will either see that the problem has solved itself, or you will forget it.
  17. Find a face-saving verbal formula like “in a Pickwickian sense.”
  18. Carry the problem into other fields; show that it exists everywhere; hence everyone will just have to live with it.
  19. Introduce analogies and discuss them rather than the problem.
  20. Explain and clarify over and over again what you have already said.
  21. As soon as any proposal is made, say that you have been doing it for ten years.
  22. Appoint a committee to weigh the pros and cons (these must always be weighed) and to reach tentative conclusions that cans subsequently be used as basis for further discussions of an exploratory nature preliminary to arriving at initial postulates on which methods of approach to pros and cons may be predicated.
  23. Wait until some expert can be consulted.
  24. Say, “That is not on the agenda; we’ll take it up later.” This may be extend ad infinitum.
  25. Conclude that we have all clarified our thinking on the problem, even though non one has thought of any way to solve it.
  26. Point out that some of the greatest minds have struggled with this problem, implying that it does us credit to have thought of it in the first place.
  27. *Be thankful for the problem. It has stimulated our thinking and thereby contributed to our growth. It should get a medal.

*Thank you  Travis Beddingfield for finding #27 and sharing it on Facebook!



About Darryl Willis

Darryl has been working for non-profits for over 38 years. His current work takes him to Central and Eastern Europe several times a year. He has fallen in love with the the people of these varied nations. Darryl writes poetry and his work has appeared in several online and print journals.
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