“I'm afraid I can't put it more clearly,' Alice replied very politely, 'for I can't understand it myself, to begin with, and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing” ― Lewis Carroll
Is BIGGER better?
21st century Economy has been intoxicated and dominated by the concept of the large scale which asserts that unit profit can be maximized by "scaling up" an operation so that fixed costs are amortized over an ever-larger number of units driving the unit cost down. The result has been
financial and management centralization,
labor-killing and technological automation,
toxin and cost externalization and
product and service standardization
thru mega-mergers creating massive institutions which dominate our lives and, when the times of duress finally come, are "bailed out" [annually or periodically] and declared [always in the name of the public interest] to be TOO BIG TO FAIL leaving us as virtual slaves to their continued existence.
In education this issue is expressed in the grade-level classroom and student:teacher ratio with pro and con structures ranging
from SOLEs [self-organized learning environments] and homeschooling on the smallest scale
to public schools and MOOCs [massive online open courses] on the largest scale.
Is smaller more beautiful?
On the other hand, perennial Ecology honors the notion of biodiversity which inherently limits centralization, automation, externalization and standardization by distributing the task of production across a large number of small, autonomous entities which cooperate and share services instead of merging. A practical outworking of this might be a small secondary school, a local YMCA and a community orchestra coming together to provide a range of services to families in a given area without attempting to "bundle" them all in one large institution to "lower unit costs" at the expense of other benefits which are lost in the bundling process.
This approach puts the ecological family at the center of a social hierarchy in an acknowledgement that small is beautiful. For a better understanding of the issues at stake when it comes to the scale of a given operation, JBS Haldane's essay On Being the Right Size is an excellent starting point. And, for us, family is just the right size ... which is why Ecology has honored it as the keystone species of all Economy ... and we should too.