Closing the gaps- John Raven, 2017 (pdf) – and Bookchin’s Law

Closing the gaps
John Raven

This paper traces the origins of the educational system’s widespread inability (despite outstanding exceptions) to achieve its most widely agreed goal – i.e. to nurture and recognise the wide range of talents pupils possess. Among the reasons for this neglect is the absence of a shared framework for thinking about the nature, development, and assessment of high-level competencies. Unfortunately, more basic reasons include (i) the absence of a governance system which would facilitate experimentation, innovation, and learning, and (ii) a network of social forces which lead the system to concentrate on manufacturing and legitimising hierarchy in society. Evolving a new governance system and finding ways of harnessing the forces contributing to hierarchy thus become our top priorities.

Keywords: Systems roots of gross deficits in educational system; Nature, development, and assessment of competence; Requisite developments in governance; Hegemony of hierarchical thinking; Conceptualising, mapping, measuring, and harnessing social forces.


The second, which I will term ‘Bookchin’s law’ is an extension of Parkinson’s law – which asserts that work expands to fill the time allotted to it. Bookchin’s law, which I will discuss more fully later, asserts that, in a situation of surplus labour, a network of social processes result in the creation of huge amounts of hierarchically-organised work which delivers few benefits other than those delivered directly through participating in it