Viewpoint: You Cant "Apply" est

by Earl Babbie
Earl Babbie, a mentber of tlre est Adz,isory Board, is cltairntan of tlte sociolttgy deytartment at the Unittersityof Hazuaii. Among other accom1tlislmrerrts, lrc utrites textbooks tltat ltate prouedtctbe urrusually uitlt st udents. Ttopular Like other enthusiastic graduates of the training, I have made numerous attempts to "apply" esf to what I do in the rest of the world, particularly in my work. For me, this has come up in connection with writing, teaching, and administration. Applying esf has never worked for me, and I am now clear that it never will. Here are some examples of what I mean. Shortly after the training, I began writing an introductory sociology textbook, based on the notion of "agreements." I knew that it was a powerful way of organizing and presenting the field of sociology, and I was determined to apply what Werner had said about agreements in my sociology textbook. I studied Werner's definition, I compared notes with other graduates, and I discussed it with Werner for hours on end. I wrote paraphrases of Werner and the training. Yet no matter how hard I tried to "apply" what Werner had said, it never ouite worked. Finaliy, I gave up and wrote about agreements and sociology the way they looked to m e. Suddenly, my writing began to flow naturally. What I wrote was clear. It made sense. It communicated what I wanted to communicate, and, to my surprise and delight, what I wrote was clearly aligned with what Werner had said in the training. The story of my teaching is similar. For example, the ground rules of the training seemed like a dynamite way of organizing a college course, so I adapted them to my large lecture courses. Students had to agree to come to class, for instance; they had to needed only to refine nlrT view of agree to do the reading. It didn't work. sociology, nly teaching techniques, nly After a semester or two of trying to philosophy, and simply impose on the make the ground rules work, I gave up world those things that the transformed me had created. Wrong again. and began simply talking with my students about participation and Once, without thinking, I simply ordered a friend to take the training about being responsible for their own education. Suddenly, I found them and said I'd explain later. He took it participating in class and taking re- a n d l o v e d i t . " H u z z a h l " I h a d d i s c o v ered "natural enrollment." So I orsponsibility for their education. dered another friend to take the trainWhen I became a department chairman, shortly after taking the ing and he told me to stuff it. Eventually, it re-dawrred on me that t r a i n i n g , I k t r e u tt h a t w h a t I h a d l e a r n e d i n t h e t r a i n i n g c o u l d b e p e r h a p sW e r n e r h a d m e a n t i t w h e n h e said the experience of the training applied to academic administration. Every time I tried to apply some'thing wasn't abor,rt"things"-gvgn the spedirect from the training, however, it c i a l t h i n g s k n o w i n g - f l o w i n g didn't work. I would make a polictlt>f t r a n s f o r m e d E a r l k e p t c r e a t i n g . open communication, for example. U n f o r t u r . r a t e l y , " a p p l y i n g " c s lN o g o o d . A t t h e s a m e t i m e , I n o t i c e d even ,lu c'sl or uottr t'sl- mc.ans conthat whenever I simply did what verting the c-xperienceof the training seemed appropriate- just having into "things," and the training isn't open communication, say, without the things. It's a context for holLiitrg things. policy- it worked beautifully. I was T h e c o n t e x t i t s e l f i s n o t h i n g , h o w e v e r , enjoying the job and being acknowand you c,an't apply nothing. ledged as a good administrator. Whenever I manage to convert that Eventually it dawned on me that c o n t e x t i n t o s o m e t h i n g I c a n a p p l y , i t perhaps Werner had meant it when he t u r n s o u t t o b e a t h i n g i n s t e a d o f a said that the experience of the training c o n t e x t , a n d t h e t h i n g I c r e a t e d w a s n ' t a b o u t " t h i n g s . " I t w a s a b o u t doesn't work. All this has led me to formulate context and the experience of Self. I Rule: noticed that I had been trying to con- what I've modestly calledBnhbie's "Don't try to apply cs/." Now there's vert my experience of the training into t h i n g s o f s u b s t a n c e : t e c h n i q u e s , something any graduate can put to ideas, beliefs, philosophies, etc. I had w o r k i n l i f e , O f c o u r s e , t h e r u l e mastered fecal alchemy* but not trans- doesn't necessarily work. Actually, Werner said all this much better sevformation. I had missed the whole eral years ago when he published: point. That realization cleared the way for my next misunderstanding. As I now saw it, the experience of The Rules of Life the training had transformed Earl Babbie so that what seemed natural by and appropri ate to me would work out Werner Erhard there in the world. The training had gotten my act together such that I

alchemy is theprocess hy zuhiclr one "Fecal canttrrn antlthing irttoshit.

1. Life doesn't have any rules. 2.