You have been taught, therefore you think you’ve learned? How dumb are you?


Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam CO2The education craze, bizarre as it is, works on the theory that you become a super-being after getting your college degree, and that you have “learned”. WRONG. Except at the higher levels, where you’re obliged to actually think, you’re basically being checked to see if you’ve absorbed whatever you’ve been taught.

At great expense, and in the US with a few therapeutic shootings, you emerge refreshed, enlightened, and able to take on the world. Like hell.

Your education can be at any standard, rubber stamped by an apathetic/ shell shocked education profession which is itself drowning in the stupidity of basic education policies. The few pitiful remnants of academic culture cling on to the glory days of quiet insularity, however illusory.

So you’ve learned something, have you? You can only have learned what some tiresome committee could be bothered to put in the syllabus. You can only have learned to the ever-lowering standards of education, anyway.

This is a book about learning. READ IT. It’ll save you a lot of time.

Your teachers, god help them, are stuck with this. Even Da Vinci couldn’t teach well in this environment. Most will make a real effort to teach at least a bit beyond the straitjackets. The best teachers will inject/inflict as much realism as possible in to their disciplines to avoid the risks of a collection of starry eyed graduates entering the blender of professional life unprepared.

You’ve done some experience, inevitably. Does that experience not teach you that you still have a hell of a lot to learn, particularly about how money behaves in the professions? You make a point of trying to be as un-naïve as possible, rightly so. Can you be?

Meanwhile the disaster known as planet Earth continues to stagger around like a drunken clown, mismanaged, maladministered, and deformed beyond reason in practical terms in just about all respects.

You’ve learned that? You can see that. Doesn’t mean you understand it, or have learned how to dodge the bullets.

You can see the endless cascades of new knowledge which will ultimately submerge your current level of teaching and learning. Can you work with this new knowledge, or do you have to learn how? Have you learned how to do that?

The greatest mistake in learning anything is to fail to realize how much more there is to learn. Science is about the unknown, not the known. Any fool can recite whatever’s trying to pass itself off as knowledge. The truly educated can learn the unknown, explore the options, and effectively create knowledge.

That’s learning.  Do NOT, EVER, assume superior knowledge, because all knowledge evolves. In some cases, it evolves to refute prior knowledge, and beyond recognition from any point of prior knowledge.

To quote Clausewitz:

Pity the theory which sets itself in opposition to the mind! 

Theories do NOT learn; they teach. It’s the mind that learns – To go beyond the theories. Sufficient hint?

Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam, Paul Wallis books

Book review – Hermann Balck – Order in Chaos


Hermann Balck Order in Chaos, University Press of Kentucky, 2015.

BalckBalck came to prominence in F.W. von Mellenthin’s classic work Panzer Battles. He was von Mellenthin’s commander, and fought as a Panzer commander at various levels in the tough, appalling, endless battles of Army Group South, Army Group G in the West, and the final struggles in Hungary. He’s considered, with considerable reason, to be one of the war’s finest senior tank commanders.

The significance of Balck’s military achievements is unique in many ways. Balck’s tactics were studied intensively by the Americans during the Cold War, as an antidote to the “sea of armor” of the Soviet armies. His 11th Panzer division stopped an entire Russian Guards army in its tracks at the Chir River, and his victory at Radomysl destroyed another army in a Sherman-like march in to the void. Von Mellenthin covers these battles in some depth.

Balck, however, doesn’t do that, at least not to the same depth, in Order in Chaos. This isn’t a “military text” in the conventional sense. It’s a soldier’s story, told by an exceptional soldier.

This book is a combination of biography and anecdotes, studies and thoughts about situations, and above all, a unique perspective in to the working principles of modern war. Interestingly, Balck has provided some insights in to the thinking of the battles and the war as a whole, as much as history. Continue reading