27 August 2014

Educational ideology and the loss of clarity

One of my colleagues has a book that was given as a school prize in a State primary school 50 years ago, and which shows how the dominant ideology has developed since then. The book is entitled The Living World of History, the author Gareth H. Browning, and it was published by Collins in 1963. Evidently the book was regarded as respectable at the time, but it expresses an unfashionable world view by today’s standards. It is implied that the value of compulsory education is not unquestionable.
The Factory Act of 1833 (one of a long series to come) prohibited the employment of children under nine and limited the hours of those under thirteen to forty-eight per week. Then, as a doubtful treat, the latter group were given schooling for two hours a day. The government also made a money grant for educational purposes. These were the first effective steps made by the State towards the free, compulsory, universal education that children “enjoy” to-day. (p. 112)
Then again, the goodness and rightness of socialism, as opposed to capitalism, is also questionable.
In Britain, in the general election of 1945, the Socialists swept the country. There was an urgent feeling that society must be created anew on truly democratic lines. The State must ensure a higher standard of living for ordinary people. All the political parties were pledged to social reform. But, while the Socialists sought it through State ownership and control in industry and the public services, the Conservatives believed in private ownership, free competition and individual enterprise. (pp. 155-6)
Another sign of the changing times is the clarity with which the book expresses what it says. The attitudes described may or may not seem convincing to the reader, but it is clear what they are.

As the modern ideology became more dominant, although presented as unquestionable it was expressed with a certain vagueness or blurriness, which had the effect of making it difficult to criticise. This kind of blurriness, after a certain date, became fairly universal in academic productions. It became a feature, not just of subjects such as history or sociology, but also of ostensibly objective subjects such as physics.

‘We appeal for £5m as initial funding for our unrecognised and unsupported independent university. This would enable it to publish analyses of the unexamined assumptions underlying current discussion of the philosophy of education.’ Charles McCreery, DPhil

14 August 2014


People who are thinking of coming to form an association with us should be aware of the concept of ‘interns’.

People starting their careers are often glad to be allowed to work for a statusful organisation without being paid, as the work experience is supposed to enhance their chances of paid work later on. There are even people who are willing to pay a firm or university for allowing them to work as an intern. People have expressed objections to this, and say that employers should not be allowed to accept paying interns, because this is giving an advantage to those who can afford to pay for an internship, while the poor, who cannot afford to pay for one, are at a disadvantage.

As we are not a statusful organisation, or a socially recognised university department, people think that we should pay for any scrap of work they do for us, although the useful information and practical experience acquired by working here could be extremely valuable to them, even more so than that gained from working for an organisation with an accepted social position. It would actually be very reasonable, for someone who wanted to develop an association with us, to offer to pay us so much per annum for working here.

10 July 2014

Appeal for funding to lucid dream researchers

The following is an edited version of something I published on the web some years ago. Since that time, no financial contributions have been made by any of the individuals mentioned.
I continue to appeal to anyone who has derived advantage from the topic of lucid dreaming, either as a field for research, or as a topic of personal interest, to contribute not less than £2000 per annum towards funding for my research and my personal income.

When I was interviewed by the head of the Oxford University philosophy appointments board, a senior professor, to discuss how I might get onto a salaried university career track as an academic philosopher, I did not attempt to conceal my bitterness at the fact that my book on lucid dreaming, which I had written under duress because I had no other way of advertising my need for funding to do laboratory research to force my way back into a university career, had provided academics around the world, already safely on career tracks, with advantageous areas of research.

The professor hastened to defend the academics for doing nothing to improve my position, by saying that once a piece of work had been published it was free to anyone to work on it. And of course there is no law asserting that anyone should recognise the socially disadvantaged position of someone else, or do anything more than is strictly prescribed by law to help them. But spontaneous decency is not illegal, even where not socially prescribed. It is not explicitly recognised that it is socially proscribed. There was no law against the professor himself, having recognised that he had become aware of someone so seriously disadvantaged in life in comparison with himself, donating to me half of his own salary, or any other fraction of it, from that time forwards. Or he might have wished to make a mailing to all academics around the world known to have worked on lucid dreams, in which he could have expressed to them his own recognition of my disadvantaged position, and his own hope that each of them would make a significant annual donation out of their own salaries towards compensating me for my continuing lack of a university career, despite the fact that there was no legal obligation on them to do so.

Many years ago an international conference on lucid dreaming was held at London University and I was invited to contribute by giving a paper, although no one had shown any sign of wanting to provide me with funding to contribute by way of research.

At the conference someone informed me that he was sure I should be really pleased that some more of my ideas for research were going to be tried out at Stanford University. I felt about as overjoyed as if I had been slapped in the face, and it just illustrates how insensitive to my predicament those who themselves benefited from my work on lucid dreams have always been.

I was (and still am), in my grievous and destitute position, very embittered that it did not occur to any of those who worked on lucid dreams, salaried as nearly all of them were, to send me money to relieve my unsalaried position. If each of those concerned had sent a contribution of £2000 per annum (even if only while they were actually working on lucid dreams) my position would have been significantly improved and by now I would probably have been able to publish enough research to force my way back into a university position. It is not too late for my position to be relieved in this way. In fact the urgency that it should be has only increased with the decades of delay, since I am still physically alive, and needing to get started on my forty-year academic career.

So I am appealing to anyone who has derived advantage from lucid dreaming, either as a field for academic research or as a topic of personal interest, to contribute either a lump sum towards the £2 million which I need to set up a residential college, or to contribute not less than £2000 per annum towards my research and my personal income.

Legacies of any size are also requested. There is no upper limit, as the endowment required for residential colleges and research departments is considerable. Please note that any donations or legacies should be made direct to me, and not to any organisation with which I may seem to be associated. The latter leads to so much complication that the benefit is severely reduced, and probably completely aborted.

I address this appeal particularly to the following, who are known to have made use of the concept of lucid dreaming in their careers.

List of lucid dream researchers

A. Baker
A. Brylowski
A.A. Sheikh
Alan Moffitt
Alan Worsley
B. Kediskerski
B. McLeod
B. McWilliams
B. Rodenelli
B. Shillig
B.G. Marcot
C. Sachau
C. Sawicki
C.N. Alexander
Charles Tart
D. Armstrong-Hickey
D. Davidson
D. Foulkes
D. Orme-Johnson
D.B. Jenkins
D.E. Hewitt
D.S. Rogo
David B. Cohen
Elendur Haraldsson
F.A. Wolf
Fariba Bogzaran
G.S. Sparrow
Gayle Delaney
George Gillespie
Gordon Halliday
H. Reed
Harry Hunt
Harvey J. Irwin
J. Adams
J. Dane
J. Walling
J. Wren-Lewis
Jane Bosveld
Janet Mullington
Jayne Gackenbach
Judith R. Malamud
K. Kelzer
K. McGowan
K. McKelvey

K.P. Vieira
Keith Hearne
L. L. Magallon
L. Levitan
L. Nagel
L. Rokes
L.L. Magallon
M. Walters
M.L. Lucescu
Mary Godwyn
Morton Schatzman
N. Heilman
O. Clerc
P. Maxwell
P.D. Tyson
Patricia Garfield
Paul Tholey
Peter Fellows
Peter Fenwick
R. Boyer
R. Cranson
R. Curren
R. George
R.J. Small
Robert D. Ogilvie
Robert F. Price
Robert Hoffmann
Robert K. Dentan
Robert Van de Castle
Roger Wells
Ross Pigneau
S. Boyt
S. Hammons
S. Stone
Sheila Purcell
Stephen LaBerge
Susan Blackmore
T. Neilsen
Thomas Snyder
V. Zarcone
W. Dement
W. Greenleaf
Wynn Schwartz

07 July 2014

Dream research

We recently received an enquiry from the magazine of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, requesting an interview. This is the text of my colleague Dr Charles McCreery’s reply.

“Thank you for your email addressed to Celia Green, to which she has asked me to reply. I am the co-author with her of Lucid Dreaming: the Paradox of Consciousness During Sleep, which was published by Routledge in 1994.

We were invited by Routledge to write this book. We would not otherwise have considered writing a follow-up to Dr Green’s first book on the subject, Lucid Dreams, published by Hamish Hamilton in 1968, since the latter had not resulted, as we had hoped, in any financial support being forthcoming to enable us to carry out any of the experimental work which Dr Green had in mind.

Instead, several years after the publication of Lucid Dreams, we found other people entering the field, who were funded by university appointments in most cases. They began to carry out work which acknowledged Dr Green’s priority and the influence it had had on their own decision to enter the field of research, but which did not represent the sort of research which she had had in mind to do herself. Nor did it have any effect in making it any more possible for us to raise funds for our own work.

We are still appealing for funding to continue our work in this and other fields. We are also appealing for funding to keep Dr Green’s first book on lucid dreams in print, as well as books on other topics which we have written and published, and further books which we could write, or edit and publish, if we had funding to do so.

We are short-staffed on account of our lack of funding. Dr Green does not give interviews as we have found it impossible to avoid misinterpretations.

I add below three links to pieces which Dr Green has published on the topic of lucid dreaming in recent years on her blog, and which describe our attempts to get funding for continuing her research in this area.”

Lucid dreams: watching others get the benefit

An appeal to Harvard

More on lucid dreams and the BBC

04 July 2014

An evil headmaster

I reproduce below an account by one of my associates of an experience they had with the headmaster of their primary school. The account illustrates what is seldom acknowledged: that teachers, especially those employed in the state sector, may have destructive motivation towards some (or all) of their pupils, particularly those of high ability.

“Mr ‘X’ was the headmaster of the primary school I attended. When I was nine, he was in charge of the relatively small class of pupils deemed as possibles for passing the 11-plus exam. There was a parallel, and larger, lower-ability class. Although I was not aware of any formal policy on this, there were clear signs that this second class were regarded as no-hopers for the 11-plus exam. For example, the first class were occasionally given hints about how to do well in the exam, which was not done for the second class.

At that time, pupils of age 9 at the school entered either the 11-plus class or the parallel class, and left the school at 11 to go to secondary school – normally a grammar school if they had passed the 11-plus, or a secondary modern school if they had not.

At nine, I was among those selected to enter the ‘top’ class (as I, not the school, called it). I was at that time a bouncy, sociable and self-confident person. I was also conscientious, and felt identified with working hard and doing my best.

However, after entering the top class it soon emerged that I had not completely learnt my multiplication tables by heart, as I was apparently supposed to have done. This gave Mr X an excuse to punish me. As a result of my relative weakness in multiplication, I scored badly in the mental arithmetic tests Mr X gave regularly, and he began threatening me with the idea that I might be relegated to the ‘lower’ class. I was too full of shame and panic to tell my parents about these threats.

In due course I was relegated to the lower class, which happened towards the end of the first term. I did not tell my parents immediately that it had happened, because I felt ashamed. Mr X made no attempt to teach me the tables himself, nor did he contact my parents to encourage them to do so.

Mr X generally treated me as if I were a criminal or similar moral reprobate. He appeared to attribute my not having learnt the multiplication tables to laziness and frivolity, and hinted that my defect might consist in something even worse. When I thought about it later, I realised that (at the time) I felt that I had not known how wicked I was until Mr X had told me.

Eventually I had to tell my parents about the situation, and they reacted as I feared they would. They assured me that they ‘loved’ me but took it for granted that my being relegated to the lower class by Mr X meant that I was deficient in arithmetic, and that I would not pass the 11-plus. They started to console themselves with the idea that even if I went to a secondary modern school, I might still have a chance to take O-levels, like the children who got into grammar school.

Being in the ‘lower’ class damaged my self-confidence and did not improve my prowess at mental arithmetic. In neither the ‘top’ class nor the ‘lower’ class were the multiplication tables actually taught. I felt cowed.

One thing I remember vividly is that I had been in the school choir, which Mr X was in charge of, and that I had greatly enjoyed it. However, it appears I was penalised for my ‘sins’ by being excluded from choir events as well. That school year, the school choir performed with a number of other choirs at a concert in a nearby town, and one of my brothers was on stage as a member of the choir, but I was not. Instead, I was in the audience with my parents and younger siblings (they were too young to be in the choir).

At the end of that school year, I only managed to come third in the ‘lower’ class, even though I had previously come top of my year. I am sure this was because I felt demoralised and unable to identify with myself.

At the start of the next school year, Mr X graciously allowed me back into the ‘top’ class. I was relieved that I was back in the ‘land of the living’, i.e. in the same class as other obviously intelligent children, but my confidence had been damaged and I continued to think of myself as naturally lazy and frivolous.

All the pupils who turned 11 in that school year, including me, took the 11-plus. I made my best attempt at it. By that time I had learnt the multiplication tables by myself, at home. I didn’t feel I was doing particularly well at school (we didn’t get much feedback about how we were doing, until the end of a year) and so I fully expected not to pass the 11-plus. Nevertheless I did pass it, along with a few others in the top class. Also, at the end of the year it was announced, to my surprise, that I had come first in class, in terms of marks for schoolwork during the year.

I expect Mr X was fuming as he signed my book prize for coming first, as he evidently hated me. During the ‘demotion’ episode he had treated me as if I had somehow injured him, and as if he had to try to take revenge.

Although I could be said to have left that school on a relatively high note, my self-confidence did not return until many years later. I remained disconnected from my schoolwork throughout most of my time at the secondary school, and only achieved mediocre results in my O- and A-levels.

Thirty years later, I was only reminded that I had in fact come first at the end of the last year of primary school when I visited my parents, noticed the prize book there, and opened it to see the inscription signed by Mr X.

In retrospect, I expect Mr X had first noticed me when I went with my mother, at the age of four and half, to meet him for an interview about my attending the school in due course. At that time I could already read. While my mother was talking to Mr X, I took a great interest in the school noticeboards which I found in the corridors. Mr X asked me about what I could see, so I told him what I had read. I came to his attention again when I came top of my school year at the age of eight, and he was no doubt reminded to keep an eye on me.

By the time I was nine I was on the board of distinguished readers, an elite group of about ten pupils. One bad thing Mr X did not do when I was put down a year, though he had the capacity to, was to wipe my name off that list. But it was not my ability that he had called into question; it was my character. This may have done me more harm than if he had merely implied I was stupid.

My tentative interpretation of what happened is that Mr X was hostile to me because I was clever. Hence his desire to punish me by making me appear stupid. I think this reaction to ability, and desire to do someone down, is more common among teachers than is generally realised. The concept of the sadistic teacher is relatively commonplace, but the idea that hostility is particularly aroused by the able is less so. Of course this characteristic can be found among private school teachers as well as those working in the state sector. However, in the private sector there is at least a modicum of competitive pressure to keep anti-ability motivation suppressed.

Parents may not always care about the effects of a school as much as one might hope. However, they care more if they are paying, and are liable to transfer their children to another school if they think their money would be better spent elsewhere. By contrast, there is little pressure on state school teachers not to behave destructively. The parents aren’t paying and they typically have little power to change schools. Even if they do change, the school being rejected doesn’t suffer financially, so it has little reason to avoid teachers who behave like this, or to give them an incentive not to do so.”

27 June 2014

Lucid dreams: watching others get the benefit

text of a letter to a journalist sent a few years ago

When you came you asked me whether I regretted having written the first book on lucid dreams, and I should like to answer that in writing. It may be too late for your article, but I am often asked similar questions by journalists and maybe when I have written it down it can go in my forthcoming book.

In my previous letter to you I referred to academics who make applications for funding for a project, don’t get any, and then find someone else is doing a similar project. Do you suppose they regret making the application? Of course with hindsight they may think that if they had known the outcome they would not have bothered, but they could only have found out what the outcome would be by making the application, so in a sense I suppose they do not regret having made the attempt.

My position about lucid dreams is similar. I had no wish to write a book about lucid dreams, and would not have done so if I had had any way of proceeding with actual laboratory research on lucid dreams or on anything else, but all the possible sources of funding with which I had contact were impervious, and so I made what was in effect an application for funding. But I had no way of doing that except by publicising to the world my acquaintance with this potential field of research.

Of course, the academic who finds his ideas being copied has no cause for complaint. His ideas are not protected by patent or copyright, and if he makes them known to the personnel of a grant-giving body they may leak. There is no law against insider dealing in this area. In any case, even if there were, he would find it difficult to pin anything on anybody, unless his application drew on unpublished material known only to himself and this clearly appeared in the design of the other person’s project. This is very unlikely to be the case, and if specialised information is not involved, the other academic can always claim that he thought up the project independently. Great minds are said to think alike, and mediocre ones certainly do.

And, of course, it does the rejected academic no real harm, unless you count emotional bitterness as harmful, to see someone else implementing his ideas. In this respect, however, the emotional pain has been decidedly more severe in my case, in relation to lucid dreams, than that of the average rejected academic is likely to be. The academic has his status and salary; a certain lifestyle including ancillary staff and dining halls etc, facilitating intellectual activity, is assured. I was attempting to compensate for my lack of these things by getting funding to enable me to live a decent academic life, and this was a desperate long shot at best.

It therefore caused me some intensity of despair to observe that one of my long shots had in fact succeeded to the extent of providing other people, already safely on academic career tracks, with a field of research. As the minimal funding which had made possible the writing of the book had run out, there was no way in which I could hope to improve on the application for funding which I had just made.

A person on a desert island cannot exactly say that he regrets having fired a distress rocket without success. He understands what led him to do it, and in the same circumstances he would do the same again. But if I had known what the consequences of initiating this field of research might be, I might have refrained. The expansion of work and interest in this field can only appear to someone in my position as a cruel mockery of it, a refinement of torture which I could have done without.

25 June 2014

Article on lucid dreaming in BBC Focus Magazine

text of an email from the picture editor at BBC Focus Magazine:

Dear Ms. Green,

I am mailing from BBC Focus Magazine, a popular science and technology publication. In our August issue we are running a feature about dreams, and how you may be able to take control of them. We mention your early research into lucid dreaming in our piece, and I wondered if you might be able to provide us with an image of yourself that we can put alongside the copy.

I would be happy to credit the image and send you a copy of the magazine in return.

Best wishes,
James Cutmore

text of my colleague Dr Charles McCreery’s reply:

Dear Mr Cutmore,

Thank you for your message to Celia Green, to which Dr Green has asked me to reply. I am the co-author with her of her follow-up book Lucid Dreaming, the Paradox of Consciousness During Sleep, published by Routledge.

The position is not merely that Dr Green carried out ‘early research’ into lucid dreaming, but that she was the first to develop the subject as a field of scientific study, a programme for which she laid out in her book Lucid Dreams, first published in 1968 by Hamish Hamilton.

This priority was fully recognised by her successors in the field some years later, notably Professor Stephen LaBerge and Dr Keith Hearne.

I add below three links to pieces which Dr Green has published on the topic of lucid dreaming in recent years on her blog, which describe our attempts to get funding for continuing her research in this area.

I will send you a scan of a photograph attached to a separate email.

Yours sincerely,
Charles McCreery

text of James Cutmore’s reply:

Dear Charles,

Many thanks for sending the image through to me. We do, in fact, state that Dr Green was the first person to experiment extensively with lucid dreaming, and develop an understanding of it. My first email was written in haste, so many apologies for that.

Please enjoy the rest of your day, and thank you again for your help.

Best wishes,
James Cutmore

24 June 2014

More about the threat of intelligence

text of a letter to an academic

I have written to you about the IQ test that I did when I was ten, and in retrospect I realise that probably my father’s initiative had little to do with it; more likely the educational psychologist was set on by the local authority to spy on me and work out how best to damage my education.

I was very much in the dark at the time, and it was only in 1956 that a book* was published which discussed reading at two as indicating a mental age of six to seven, and thus an IQ of over 300. It was only then that I realised that the test score obtained by the educational psychologist could not very well have been less than 200, although I was told, via my father, that my IQ was 180.

In fact, it appears possible that all the new legislation concerning the ages at which external school exams could be taken, which was created at the time of my education, was made with me in mind, and affected me very badly.

When I told you how early I learnt to read, you quoted an official opinion to the effect that there are so many variations in early development that (by implication) anything of this kind is not meaningful.

No doubt this is what everyone wanted to think, even at that time (i.e. in the 40s). When the post-war Labour landslide occurred in 1945, the minimum age for taking the grammar school scholarship was raised; and if I had not taken the scholarship in the last year before it became the 11-plus, I would not have been able to take it for another two years.

However, I slipped through the net, although not without attracting attention. When, still aged ten, I was interviewed for entry to the Ursuline High School, the Reverend Mother told my parents that I had been one of the youngest candidates, and had got 100% on every paper of the grammar school scholarship (English, arithmetic and intelligence). She had clearly got this information from the local authority, and it was obviously accessible to the government as well.

So the local authority probably set their educational psychologist to spy on me and find out whether they had any grounds for attacking my father. Allegations about his pushing me were already circulating, and did not stop doing so when the educational psychologist could find no grounds for them.

I had been relatively inconspicuous between the ages of two and nine in a private preparatory school, from which I frequently stayed away, my parents paying the fees for the term and squaring it with the headmistress. This inconspicuousness did not last once I became exposed to the state educational system.

* C.W. Valentine, The Normal Child and some of his Abnormalities, Penguin, 1956.

Intelligence: a threat to the welfare state?

text of a letter to an academic

My life continues to be constricted by the anti-exceptionality syndrome of modern society.

When I was about ten and had come top of the grammar school scholarship, my father, wishing to show his dependence on expert opinion, had my IQ tested by an educational psychologist who lived nearby – possibly because he (my father) was sceptical about the result of the scholarship exam.

The psychologist’s verdict, as I was told, was that he had never tested a child like it before, and never expected to again. Testing school children for local authorities was, more or less, his occupation in life. He added that I had a phenomenal memory. Of course he was only able to test my short-term memory, which he had done by reading me lists of numbers and asking me to repeat them backwards. Eventually he had asked me how I did it, and I said that I fastened the numbers on my fingers and read them off again. (This may sound like a way of memorising things with eidetic imagery that some people use, so I think I should explain that no imagery was involved, it was just a case of connecting the associations of a number with an ordered sequence.)

I was told that my IQ was 180, which they described as ‘near genius’. Genius was defined as over 200, and there was apparently supposed to be a population of people with IQs between 180 and 200. Probably my father would not have told me my IQ was 180 if he had not realised it was an understatement.

The educational psychologist appeared to pride himself on his own IQ of 140, which he described as ‘a professor’s IQ’.

This was in about 1945.

This account of what happened to me may provide some indication of the accepted attitudes to intelligence at that time. But things were changing fast.

Nowadays the concept of IQ is considered of doubtful significance by most psychologists, and IQ tests have been progressively changed, supposedly to allow for cultural differences between different cultural and ethnic groups.

The concept of IQ was originally developed as a predictor of academic success within the academic system of that time. The academic system has changed, and IQ tests have changed with it.

As the system has changed, academic standards, both in universities and in professional environments, have also changed, so that in both environments it is common to find people writing English that routinely needs to be edited and proofread by somebody else.

‘We appeal for £5m as initial funding for a social science department in our unrecognised and unsupported independent university. This would enable it to publish analyses of the unexamined assumptions underlying current discussion of such issues as intelligence, and the history of the welfare state.’
Charles McCreery, DPhil

11 June 2014

Part-time ex-Oxford lecturers

text of a letter to an academic

I wonder if you know anyone who knows the Principal of Ripon Theological College, which is in Cuddesdon and fairly near to where we live?

The inflation continues to make it more difficult than it has always been to be even minimally productive in this incipient academic institution. Whatever the official figures may suggest, many of the types of expenditure which we face seem to have risen significantly in price over the last couple of years.

It would be helpful if we could alleviate the constrictive pressures by supplementing our incomes as part-time or temporary lecturers or tutors at university level. Three of the people here now have Oxford doctorates – two of them former Oxford college lecturers – and between us we cover a wide range of topics, including statistics, mathematics, accounting, psychology, philosophy and history of religion.

I do not know what areas are included in the courses provided by Ripon College, but it is likely that they include several in which somebody here could function as a tutor or lecturer. If the Principal of Ripon College knew about us, he might realise that we could provide a fill-in if there was a temporary absence or breakdown of some present lecturing arrangement. We could also act as temporary lecturers for Oxford University or for Oxford Brookes University, but these could only be very temporary on account of the travelling.

However, if a student in the Oxford area were having difficulties with his work and could drive himself into Cuddesdon for tutorials, it might be very significantly to his benefit to do so.

We should like our availability in these capacities to be known about on the academic network.

‘We appeal for £5m as initial funding for our unrecognised and unsupported independent university.’
Charles McCreery, DPhil