Leaderless Ant Colonies?

Milton Gaither has an interesting paragraph in his review of Greg and Martine Millman’s book:

Historians and organization theorists will be very interested in the Millmans’ chapter on Homeschool Groups. It begins by connecting homeschooling to the “emergence” scholarship of John H. Holland, explaining that homeschooling is an unplanned and uncontrolled system of networks built “from the bottom up by thousands upon thousands of individuals making free choices about education” who nevertheless coalesce into “educational communtities that are as stable and distinctive” as the city neighborhoods studied by Jane Jacobs or the leaderless ant colonies studied by Deborah Gordon. The Millmans also draw on the “social capital” framework of Robert Putnam’s influential Bowling Alone. They explain how homeschool groups provide rich social bonds of connectivity and reciprocity for their members.

“Leaderless ant colonies,” eh? That might explain a few things.

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2 Responses to Leaderless Ant Colonies?

  1. Susan on December 2, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Sometimes I feel like some want us on display in one of those ant farms to satisfy the extreme interest our homeschooling lives seem to have.

    I just had to look up leaderless ant colonies and this bbc article popped up:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4319739.stm
    “Having told us to consider the ant, Solomon points out that the ant “having no guide, overseer or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest”.

    This is the perfect model for society as seen by the 18th Century philosopher Adam Smith (a big influence on the monetarist economics of “Thatcherism”).

    The decentralised organisation of the ant-hill suits his idea that the economy needs no government intervention because the market is self-regulating.

    It is also a blueprint for the ideal communist society as envisaged by Marx.

    The association of ants and the “communist menace” was seized on by Hollywood at the height of the Cold War. ”

    My goodness…the power of those “leaderless ant colonies” is extreme. :-)

  2. Helen on December 2, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    And all this time I thought we were mere fruit flies…

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