Effective Learning Publications

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Stapleton Learning Report


A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning

Richard John Stapleton
ISBN: 978-0-692-58433-0; February 24, 2016
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A refresher course in Transactional Analysis emphasizes its application to the classroom.


Transactional Analysis (TA) was invented by psychiatrist Eric Berne and then popularized in his classic book, Games People Play, originally published in 1964. Stapleton (De-Gaming Teaching and Learning: How to Motivate Learners and Invite OKness, 1979), a retired professor, acknowledges Berne’s contribution by providing a salient overview of TA principles, including ego states and “OKness,” in the early chapters of this book.


The focus of the content, though, is applying TA to “the total learning process” in a volume updating material that appeared in Stapleton’s previous work. While the author suggests his new book could generally apply to organizations and businesses, it seems most relevant to educators. Four of the eleven chapters concentrate on such specifics as classroom layouts, teaching methods, tests, grading, classroom management, and classroom games. The psychology behind classroom games is particularly intriguing; “classrooms are inherently Gamey,” writes Stapleton, “because of the natural presumption that students need teachers to help them, which more or less creates a Drama Triangle situation.” Perhaps most enticing is the author’s description of the “Classroom De-Gamer,” a “roulette”-type device he created to effectively spread out student anxiety.


Students spin the De-Gamer’s arrow to randomize being called on. With the De-Gamer’s proper usage, “all ego states in students can see and feel that they are not being Persecuted or Rescued by a teacher playing a Game when they are called on to respond to classroom requirements and challenges.” This idea alone should spark a creative teacher’s rethinking of the traditional classroom environment, but it is just one of a number of alternative learning concepts covered in this enlightening book. Stapleton uses the final chapter to reflect on his career from the perspective of a retired 75-year-old looking back on chapters he wrote as a 38-year-old. Somewhat loose, freewheeling, and maybe a bit beyond the book’s scope, Stapleton’s parting shot more broadly concerns the state of students, universities, society, politics, and the world.

Illuminating, if quirky at times; insightful, eye-opening observations about the interplay of teachers and students in the classroom.

A major feature of BORN TO LEARN is its transactional analysis of the significance and importance of classroom layouts, teaching methods, and testing methods used by teachers of all kinds in all environments, parents in homes, teachers in schools, managers in businesses, Sunday School teachers in churches, and others.


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Stapleton Learning Report

Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds


Copyright © 2008, 2010, 2011 by Richard John Stapleton
ISBN: Hardcover : 978-1-4134-8082-5; Softcover: 978-1-4134-8081-8

Why start a small business?

A good answer to this question, it seems to me, is because you thought about it. Your portion of life causes, your history up to this point, caused you to think about it; something in your family background, your early life experiences, your formal education, your work experience, your general reading, and so forth caused you to think about starting a small business of your own.


Most likely, you have visualized starting a business that involves selling products and services that you enjoy and have produced satisfaction for you personally. For young people, most visualizations of small businesses to start are gender-based. Females tend to want to start dress shops, beauty shops, and bridal shops; a lot of males want to start taverns and pubs, weight lifting gyms, sporting goods stores, and the like. Starting a business to sell products and services you like to buy in some cases works out, but in general, the probabilities of long term survival is low for businesses started for these reasons.


There are all kinds of small businesses, such as hobby businesses, moonlight businesses, businesses with or without employees, scripted businesses, and planned businesses. Should you start a small business just for the fun of it? Well, why not, if you can make a living while doing the business on the side. If it takes off, you might want to go at it full time down the road. If it does not work out, that is, generate enough revenue to justify your time, energy, and investment, just shut it down and move on to something else. So long as you don't lose too much money and can pay back any creditors, you might have considered the business successful learning experience, learning by doing. If you look into the backgrounds of successful entrepreneurs, most likely, you will find that most of them learned about entrepreneurship like this.


Scripted businesses are internal visualizations and fantasies someone creates in his or her head about what owning and running a business will be like, including not only the products and services to be sold but what it will be like to operate the business, where it will be located, what the employees and customers will be like, what sort of office furniture and fixtures will be required (the stage and scenery of the business), what sort of computers and so forth will be required—including visualizations of the owner talking with and interacting with people in the business.


Planned businesses are based on facts, data, and evidence garnered from the real world, such as knowing what the total sales of the existing market are and what market share the business to be might capture, and how much start-up capital will be required to hire employees and purchase facilities and equipment, leaving some over for working capital; and the plan will include a realistic knowledge of numbers to be recorded in income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, not only for the first few months but for next year and the years after. Perhaps most important, the plan will include an executive summary showing the experience of the founder(s) and key employees.


How long a business will last depends on many factors, including the management abilities, energy, and overall talent of the owner(s) and employees, if any, but it also depends on whether the market really needed the additional small business. Both management ability (being able to do the work) and entrepreneurial ability (knowing what sort of business to start in the first place) are important; but, all other things being equal, the market will make the final decision. In general plan-based business last longer than script-based businesses.

About forty percent of all new small businesses are discontinued after the first year—only about twenty percent last ten years. A business discontinuance is a shutdown with all creditors satisfied; a business failure is a shutdown with creditors unsatisfied. Most shutdowns are business discontinuances.


Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Business Voyages provides information and techniques that will enable you to better assess how your script fits the profile of the typical successful entrepreneur.


The biggest cause of new small businesses not making it, according to Business Voyages, is not poor management but poor entrepreneurship. It's fairly easy to learn the management tasks of most small businesses once they are set up, but it's not easy to set up the right small business in the right place in the first place. 

In some cases, if you set up the wrong small business in the wrong market, you are doomed from the get-go regardless of how hard and well you and your employees work once the business is set up. In most cases, it takes about one year operating a new business to learn all the nitty-gritty details required for success in the business.


The only requirement, in the long run, is positive net cash flow, which is what is left over after you pay all your expenses, including your own living expenses. Very few people are willing to own and run zombie businesses (businesses with negative cash flow) year after year, doing it just for the fun of it.


This can happen if there aren't enough customers in the market you chose who will buy enough of whatever it is you sell at a price sufficient to generate a gross profit percentage sufficient to absorb all your fixed expenses and leave something left over for you to live on. This means you need to know how to calculate a break-even point for your business. Business Voyages will teach you how to do this before you start your business.


According to Business Voyages, most new small businesses are not based on business plans but on personal psychological scripts, fantasies people carry around in their heads about what a business is like and how much they would enjoy running it.


Learning the difference between a business plan and a business script could be worth far more than the cost of Business Voyages.


Business Voyages is not get-rich-quick bookmaking readers think that all people need is the passion for doing what they do to make it big. Passion is important, but it won't do any good if nobody wants or needs what you are selling. Business Voyages is based on about forty years of experience and case research, telling it like it is with facts and cases to give you an accurate picture of what small business is like.


Most small business environments today are more insecure and uncertain than they were in the past, especially retail businesses, caused by the advent of Walmart type big box race-to-the-bottom pricing selling low priced imports produced in third world countries to which middle-class income blue-collar US manufacturing jobs were shipped. Not only do US consumers now need cheaper goods produced in low wage countries because of their jobs being outsourced, but small businesses also find it harder to compete with the low priced goods in the big box stores, some of which are now suffering from Amazon type mail order selling, rendering even the big box model obsolete in some cases.


Round and round it goes, where markets will actually go, nobody knows, caused by today's bizarre monetary policies. Despite this new Federal Reserve monetary policy, e.g., quantitative easing and low-interest rates, designed to stave off recessions, the US still suffers from insufficient aggregate demand, i.e., purchasing power among consumers sufficient for stimulating the creation of new small businesses and producing significant economic growth.

The tax reductions, military spending increases, money creation, and interest rate reductions since 1980 by the US Government, the US Federal Reserve System, and other governments and central banking systems around the world have primarily enriched the rich and have done little or nothing to help middle and working classes, including small business people, who have experienced income decreases.


We may be in the eye of a monster economic depression that started in 2008. If so, we will have to batten down the hatches and hope for the best when we hit the backside of it.


It's not easy to figure out today where to go on any business voyage. Nobody knows for sure what lies ahead. Read BUSINESS VOYAGES to learn cases, concepts, and techniques about how to cope with the process and the possibilities.