John Gall, Systemantics:  How Systems Work and Especially How they Fail
New York, Quadrangle Books, 1975
Page 71

Consider, for example, the System of the Family. The family has been around for a long time.... Clearly, this is a functioning family system. Its immense survival power is obvious. It has endured vicissitudes compared to which the stresses our own day puts on it are trivial. And what are the sources of its strength? They are extreme simplicity in structure; looseness in everyday functioning; “inefficiency” in the efficiency expert’s sense of the term; and a strong alignment with basic primate motivations.

Donald B. Kraybill,  Amish Schools Are Simple - But They Work
The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 1994

Amish teachers care as much if not more about character formation as they do about academic competence. Honesty, obedience, self-denial, hard work, persistence, patience, and responsibility are touted over scientific expertise.

But, nevertheless, Amish performance on aptitude tests related to reading, spelling, word use and arithmetic parallels that of non-Amish pupils in rural elementary schools.

Ayers, R.U., Ayres, L.W., and Warr, B. 2004. Is the U.S. Economy Dematerializing?
Main Indicators and Drivers
pp. 57-93 in Bergh, CJM van den, and Janssen, M.S. 2004.
Economics of Industrial Ecology: Materials, Structural Change, and Spatial Scales.
MIT Press: Cambridge, MA

“According to a recent study of 100 years of material use in the U.S. increased demand overcompensated for efficiency gains in every case we have investigated.”

Rizzo, Mario J.  Time, Uncertainty, and Disequilibrium
New York: 1979. ISBN 0699026980

Put another way, action is a learning process. As the individual acts to achieve his ends, he learns and becomes more proficient about how to pursue them. But in that case, of course, his actions cannot have been efficient from the start—or even for the end—of his actions, since perfect knowledge is never achieved, and there is always more to learn.

Interview with Dr. Ellen Langer, Author of The Power of Mindful Learning
The New York Philharmonic with Kurt Masur and Sarah Chang, March 3, 1998
www.pbs.org/lflc/backstage/march3/langer.htm (dead link)

DR. ELLEN LANGER: If an extraordinarily talented person is practicing mindlessly, then imagine what their performance would be like if they practiced mindfully! Most experts become experts because they don't take the basics for granted. Imagine what it means to take the basics for granted. You learn your task, whatever it is you're learning, when you're first learning it, and you don't want to freeze your understanding of it because you don't even know what it's going to entail later. The people who are most expert don't freeze their understanding, so then you can keep coming back and redoing and exploring the basics.

Michael Berube, “Why Inefficiency Is Good for Universities
March 27, 1998

The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Education Digest 9/1/98, Vol. 64, No. 1
Page 35

The problem is that the goals of the liberal arts -- "critical thinking," for example, and "intellectual cosmopolitanism" -- are usually intangible, whereas the costs of the liberal arts are all too tangible and (for efficiency-minded administrators) all too high. Therefore, we in the liberal arts have a special burden to bear whenever we insist that we are (or should be) a central part of the mission of higher education: We must convince administrators that a better university for students in the liberal arts is, above all, an inefficient university. It is a university where student writing is copious and carefully read, and where students themselves are names, faces, and advisees, not modular production units.

Commentary by TOM BOMAN  'Efficiency' isn't always best for education
Duluth News Tribune
Posted on Sun, Nov. 28, 2004

Parent participation drops in large schools when the school is not located in the neighborhood. Every so often, public education gets caught in the cross hairs of efficiency experts. It might be useful to examine who these efficiency experts are and how they operate.

In the 1920s, in a golden age for the United States that came to a crashing halt in 1929 with the collapse of the stock market, there was an amazing love affair with the new American manufacturing system. One of the kinds of people who rode to prominence during that era was the efficiency expert. Efficiency experts, so they claimed, could make any system work more efficiently and thus make more money for an organization. It was inevitable that efficiency experts would eventually descend on the public schools.

The early efficiency experts were into counting things that were simple to count and measuring how much those things cost. The efficiency experts were not often very sophisticated and tended to ignore the big picture or hard-to-grasp operations. But, nonetheless, they did seem to work wonders with simple systems like manufacturing washing machines and assembling cars.

The Minutes of the Lead Pencil Club
New York: 1996 ISBN 0916366847
Page 15

There is an educational channel. It’s called “off.”


Lily Henderson (Age 11)

Bromley, Daniel W. “The Ideology of Efficiency: Searching For a Theory of Policy Analysis
in Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 1990
Pages 86-107

Page 90

In a simple world, where the distinction between means and ends may be though clear, it is necessary to regard the means as simply factors of production or commodities in which there is no intrinsic merit attached to the components of either. This distinction is meaningless, however, in the real world of policy analysis in which there are few— perhaps no—policies (institutional arrangements) that can be assumed to be neutral means without intrinsic value of their own.

Page 93

The essence of markets is efficiency, and therefore analysis that focuses on changes in economic efficiency is “objective science.”