By David Warfield Brown (auth.)
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Extra resources for America’s Culture of Professionalism: Past, Present, and Prospects
Dewey tried to find the answer that Mr. Dasher wanted. “Fussell didn’t tell me anything about conditions. ” Mr. Dasher looked pleased. “The conditions are very simple, Dewey. ” Dasher paused and blew his nose again. “If you want to work at the Ice Cream Factory, you have to choose a flavor. All your training will be in one flavor. You learn about making ice cream by learning how to make a flavor. ” Dasher rested on the last word as if it were to be put away in a desk drawer or lost in a shirt pocket—forever.
33 Scott Page, a leader in the study of complex systems, adds: “In making predictions, experts rely on a few dimensions at most. ”36 That is why the actual experience of nonexperts on the ground, so to speak, is of considerable importance. Many situations that academic experts seek to investigate are far from static, but researchers often prefer to make reality hold still in order to explain it. Any mutations are seen as exceptions to a static rule. This leads to what I call the “hold still” mentality of researchers who model what are exceedingly complicated and dynamic phenomena.
But the Lippmann expectations, shared by so many, turned out to be illusions: Too much faith had been placed in credentialed techniques. Significant contributions have been made by those with credentials, but knowledge-based problem solving has not won the day. 61 John Dewey, who was an ardent critic of the progressive era, and Alexis de Tocqueville long before him, saw that shutting citizens out of the process deforms their potential to be more knowledgeable and active. Wide-ranging professionalized government and nongovernmental organizations have undermined the self-confidence of many Americans 44 ● America’s Culture of Professionalism to look after problems within their reach or to collaborate with professionals, who often seem beyond their reach.