Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Reading, Writing, but no 'Rithmetic

How many books do I carry home each day? How much reading are we assigned each day?
Today, as I was leaving the Army Logistics University after class and lecture, I was happy to think that carrying this large, heavy pile of books home in my backpack was, in reality, preparing me for my upcoming backpack trip across Ireland. Perhaps even too much, as the load I carry home each day far outweighs whatever I would carry on my back trekking across the Emerald Isle.
Our readings vary from day to day, depending on what class(es) we have scheduled. Yesterday we didn’t have any readings to prepare for today's classes. That left the afternoon open to play “catch up” and work on some of the other long-term assignments, such as our persuasion essay (due 1 June), or our leadership/philosophy essay (due 13 July), or our argumentative essay (due 22 July), or our media plan (due 5 August), or our Individual Development Plan (due 27 May) or just to…play. But for today’s class, we did have a small-group assignment : to develop an “open system” model as it relates to National Security, based upon a reading from a prior class written by none other than our own instructor for that block. Simple instructions…and each team was to come up with, present and, if necessary, defend their model. My group consisted of Rosa, Missy, and Allison (real names, but won’t post last names). On Monday we sat down over chocolate chip cookies (which, if eaten in large numbers, reveal the secrets of the universe) and wrote an open system model based upon geography. Not only “geography” in the simple sense of maps and boundaries, but climatology, geomorphology, population, and political and medical geography. After the basis of this model was explained to me by its creator, I grasped the concept fairly quickly. Each of the “base” principles listed above have factors that affect it as well as (down the road) our national security. This input then directly affects the related output. But it’s not that simple as the input/output of geomorphology can interact with the output of population and so forth. There were a lot of arrows on our chart, pointing in each direction. Some of the students in my class openly expressed that they didn’t like the model, saying it was too passive or not related to national security.
But discussion is a major part of ILE so we welcomed the questions and comments and, IMHO, defended our model quite well.
After the presentations we were treated to a lecture by COL (retired) Doug MacGregor, who had a lot to say about military operations large and small. He has written a few books that I have added to my list of things to read.
Today’s readings for tomorrow’s classes are fairly extensive: probably about 40 pages or so across 2 separate but related topics. Same with Thursday’s preparations for Friday’s class. Then, of course, are the weekend’s readings to prepare for Monday’s three separate and unrelated classes. See how unorganized we can easily get without calendars, sticky notes, and reminders programmed into our phones?

The views expressed in this ILE Class 10-002 Blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US Government.

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