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The Rebel Alliance: Extinction Rebellion and a Green New Deal - YouTube
"Extinction Rebellion and AOC’s Green New Deal have made global headlines. Can their aims be aligned to prevent climate catastrophe?

Guest host Aaron Bastani will be joined by journalist and environmentalist George Monbiot and economist Ann Pettifor."
extinctionrebellion  georgemonbiot  gdp  economics  capitalism  growth  worldbank  2019  greennewdeal  humanwelfare  fossilfuels  aaronbastani  climate  climatechange  globalwarming  mainstreammedia  media  action  bbc  critique  politics  policy  currentaffairs  comedy  environment  environmentalism  journalism  change  systemschange  left  right  thinktanks  power  influence  libertarianism  taxation  taxes  ideology  gretathunberg  protest  davidattenborough  statusquo  consumerism  consumption  wants  needs  autonomy  education  health  donaldtrump  nancypelosi  us  southafrica  sovietunion  democrats  centrism  republicans  money  narrative  corruption  diannefeinstein  opposition  oppositionism  emissions  socialdemocracy  greatrecession  elitism  debt  financialcrisis  collapse  annpettifor  socialism  globalization  agriculture  local  production  nationalism  self-sufficiency  inertia  despair  doom  optimism  inequality  exploitation  imperialism  colonialism  history  costarica  uk  nihilism  china  apathy  inaction 
yesterday by robertogreco
Yong Zhao "What Works May Hurt: Side Effects in Education" - YouTube
"Proponents of standardized testing and privatization in education have sought to prove their effectiveness in improving education with an abundance of evidence. These efforts, however, can have dangerous side effects, causing long-lasting damage to children, teachers, and schools. Yong Zhao, Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas, will argue that education interventions are like medical products: They can have serious, sometimes detrimental, side effects while also providing cures. Using standardized testing and privatization as examples, Zhao, author of the internationally bestselling Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World, will talk about his new book on why and how pursuing a narrow set of short-term outcomes causes irreparable harm in education."
yongzhao  2018  schools  schooling  pisa  education  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  china  us  history  testscores  children  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  sideeffects  privatization  tims  math  reading  confidence  assessment  economics  depression  diversity  entrepreneurship  japan  creativity  korea  vietnam  homogenization  intolerance  prosperity  tolerance  filtering  sorting  humans  meritocracy  effort  inheritance  numeracy  literacy  achievementgap  kindergarten  nclb  rttt  policy  data  homogeneity  selectivity  charterschools  centralization  decentralization  local  control  inequity  curriculum  autonomy  learning  memorization  directinstruction  instruction  poverty  outcomes  tfa  teachforamerica  finland  singapore  miltonfriedman  vouchers  resilience  growthmindset  motivation  psychology  research  positivepsychology  caroldweck  intrinsicmotivation  choice  neoliberalism  high-stakestesting 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
On Bullsh*t Jobs | David Graeber | RSA Replay - YouTube
"In 2013 David Graeber, professor of anthropology at LSE, wrote an excoriating essay on modern work for Strike! magazine. “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs” was read over a million times and the essay translated in seventeen different languages within weeks. Graeber visits the RSA to expand on this phenomenon, and will explore how the proliferation of meaningless jobs - more associated with the 20th-century Soviet Union than latter-day capitalism - has impacted modern society. In doing so, he looks at how we value work, and how, rather than being productive, work has become an end in itself; the way such work maintains the current broken system of finance capital; and, finally, how we can get out of it."
davidgraeber  bullshitjobs  employment  jobs  work  2018  economics  neoliberalism  capitalism  latecapitalism  sovietunion  bureaucracy  productivity  finance  policy  politics  unschooling  deschooling  labor  society  purpose  schooliness  debt  poverty  inequality  rules  anticapitalism  morality  wealth  power  control  technology  progress  consumerism  suffering  morals  psychology  specialization  complexity  systemsthinking  digitization  automation  middlemanagement  academia  highered  highereducation  management  administration  adminstrativebloat  minutia  universalbasicincome  ubi  supplysideeconomics  creativity  elitism  thecultofwork  anarchism  anarchy  zero-basedaccounting  leisure  taylorism  ethics  happiness  production  care  maintenance  marxism  caregiving  serviceindustry  gender  value  values  gdp  socialvalue  education  teaching  freedom  play  feminism  mentalhealth  measurement  fulfillment  supervision  autonomy  humans  humnnature  misery  canon  agency  identity  self-image  self-worth  depression  stress  anxiety  solidarity  camaraderie  respect  community 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Overgrowth - e-flux
"Architects and urban practitioners, toiling daily at the coalface of economic expansion, are complicit in the perpetuation of growth. Yet they are also in a unique position to contribute towards a move away from it. As the drivers of growth begin to reveal their inadequacies for sustaining life, we must imagine alternative societal structures that do not incentivize unsustainable resource and energy use, and do not perpetuate inequality. Working on the frontline of capitalism, it is through architecture and urban practice that alternative values, systems, and logics can be manifest in built form and inherited by generations to come.

Editors
Nick Axel
Matthew Dalziel
Phineas Harper
Nikolaus Hirsch
Cecilie Sachs Olsen
Maria Smith

Overgrowth is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Oslo Architecture Triennale within the context of its 2019 edition."

[See also: https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221902/editorial/ ]

[including:

Ateya Khorakiwala: "Architecture's Scaffolds"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221616/architecture-s-scaffolds/
The metaphor of grassroots is apt here. Bamboo is a grass, a rhizomatic plant system that easily tends towards becoming an invasive species in its capacity to spread without seed and fruit. Given the new incursions of the global sustainability regime into third world forests to procure a material aestheticized as eco-friendly, what would it take for the state to render this ubiquitous material into a value added and replicable commodity? On one hand, scaffolding offers the site of forming and performing the subjectivity of the unskilled laborer—if not in making the scaffolding, then certainly in using it. Bamboo poles for scaffolding remain raw commodities, without scope for much value addition; a saturated marketplace where it can only be replaced by steel as building projects increase in complexity. On the other hand, bamboo produces both the cottage industry out of a forest-dwelling subject, on the margins of the state, occupying space into which this market can expand.

Bamboo is a material in flux—what it signifies is not transferable from one scale to another, or from one time to another. In that sense, bamboo challenges how we see the history of materials. In addition to its foundational architectural function as scaffolding, it acts as a metaphorical scaffolding as well: it signifies whatever its wielders might want it to, be it tradition, poverty, sustainability, or a new form of eco-chic luxury. Bamboo acts more as a scaffolding for meaning than a material with physical properties of flexibility and strength. Scaffolding, both materially and metaphorically, is a site of politics; a space that opens up and disappears, one that requires much skill in making.

Edgar Pieterse: "Incorporation and Expulsion"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221603/incorporation-and-expulsion/
However, what is even more important is that these radically localized processes will very quickly demand spatial, planning, and design literacy among urban households and their associations. The public pedagogic work involved in nurturing such literacies, always amidst action, requires a further institutional layer that connects intermediary organizations with grassroots formations. For example, NGOs and applied urban research centers with knowledge from different sites (within a city and across the global South) can provide support to foster these organizational literacies without diminishing the autonomy and leadership of grassroots movements. Intermediary organizations are also well placed to mediate between grassroots associations, public officers, private sector interests, and whoever else impinge on the functioning of a neighborhood. Thinking with the example of Lighthouse suggests that we can think of forms of collective economic practice that connect with the urban imperatives of securing household wellbeing whilst expanding various categories of opportunity. The transformative potential is staggering when one considers the speed with which digital money systems and productive efficiencies have taken off across East Africa during the past five years or so.

There is unprecedented opportunity today to delink the imperatives of just urban planning from conventional tropes about economic modernization that tend to produce acontextual technocracy. We should, therefore, focus our creative energies on defining new forms of collective life, economy, wellbeing, invention, and care. This may even prove a worthwhile approach to re-signify “growth.” Beyond narrow economism there is a vast canvas to populate with alternative meanings: signifiers linked to practices that bring us back to the beauty of discovery, learning, questioning, debate, dissensus, experimentation, strategic consensus, and most importantly, the courage to do and feel things differently.

Ingerid Helsing Almaas: "No app for that"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221609/no-app-for-that/
Conventionally, urban growth is seen in terms of different geometries of expansion. Recent decades have also focused on making existing cities denser, but even this is thought of as a process of addition, inscribed in the conventional idea of growth as a linear process of investments and profits. But the slow process of becoming and disappearance is also a form of growth. Growth as slow and diverse accretion and shedding, layering, gradual loss or restoration; cyclical rather than linear or expansive. Processes driven by opportunity and vision, but also by irritation, by lack, by disappointment. In a city, you see these cyclical processes of accretion and disruption everywhere. We just haven’t worked out how to make them work for us. Instead, we go on expecting stability and predictability; a city with a final, finished form.

Peter Buchanan: "Reweaving Webs of Relationships"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221630/reweaving-webs-of-relationships/

Helena Mattsson and Catharina Gabrielsson: "Pockets and Folds"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221607/pockets-and-folds/
Moments of deregulations are moments when an ideology of incessant growth takes over all sectors of life and politics. Returning to those moments allows us to inquire into other ways of organizing life and architecture while remaining within the sphere of the possible. Through acts of remembrance, we have the opportunity to rewrite the present through the past whereby the pockets and folds of non-markets established in the earlier welfare state come into view as worlds of a new becoming. These pockets carry the potential for new political imaginaries where ideas of degrowth reorganize the very essence of the architectural assemblage and its social impacts. These landscapes of possibilities are constructed through desires of collective spending—dépense—rather than through the grotesque ideas of the wooden brain.

Angelos Varvarousis and Penny Koutrolikou: "Degrowth and the City"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221623/degrowth-and-the-city/
The idea of city of degrowth does not attempt to homogenize, but rather focus on inclusiveness. Heterogeneity and plurality are not contrary to the values of equity, living together and effective sharing of the resources. Difference and plurality are inherent and essential for cities and therefore diverse spatial and social articulations are intrinsic in the production of a city of degrowth. They are also vital for the way such an idea of a city could be governed; possibly through local institutions and assemblies that try to combine forms of direct and delegative democracy.
]
growth  degrowth  architecture  overgrowth  2018  nickaxel  matthewdalziel  phineasharper  nikolaushirsch  ceciliesachsolsen  mariasmith  ateyakhorakiwala  edgarpieterse  ingeridhelsingalmaas  peterbuchanan  helenamattsson  catharinagabrielsson  angelosvarvarousis  pennykoutrolikou  2019  anthropocene  population  sustainability  humans  civilization  economics  policy  capitalism  karlmarx  neoliberalism  systemsthinking  cities  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  urbanization  ecology  consumption  materialism  consumerism  oslo  bymelding  stability  change  predictability  design  africa  southafrica  postcolonialism  ethiopia  nigeria  housing  kenya  collectivism  dissensus  experimentation  future  learning  questioning  debate  discovery  wellbeing  intervention  care  technocracy  modernization  local  grassroots  materials  multiliteracies  ngos  autonomy  shigeruban  mumbai  bamboo  burkinafaso  patrickkeré  vikramadityaprakash  lecorbusier  pierrejeanneret  modernism  shivdattsharma  chandigarh  india  history  charlescorrea  scaffolding 
november 2018 by robertogreco
/addressbar • heracl.es
"…or laments about the loss of autonomy on the web.

MUSING

The web has lost a great battle, one that it was never given a chance to fight for. Apps got the upper hand for good. They’re easy to find: available through your favorite walled garden of a store. They’re are easy to use: they stay right there in your device, making use of all your device’s sensors; have access to all your files and contacts; they make sharing easy. Although HTML5 APIs are a huge leap forward, they are still in their infancy, whereas apps were the first to bear the benefits of sensors, notifications and offline functionality. All without breaking many UX conventions and the people’s safe zone.

No usage study would argue that people use their mobile phone’s browser more than they actually use the in-app browsers offered by default by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Search and co.

What was by design the core aspect of the World Wide Web, the “URL”, also known as web address, was irrelevant for in-app browsers. The user only needs to peek outside for a minute, then return to the silo. There’s really no need for multiple user journeys. And thus the address bar has vanished. I am frequently reminded of this from my parents, as they discovered mobile phones on their own, had little experience with computers beforehand. Even close friends, so called digital natives that can barely remember their life without internet, forget how to use the address bar. Why do if you can Google the website’s name?
The user can type a URL into the bar to navigate to a chosen website.


…says the collective author in Wikipedia: Address Bar. It still has a bit of truth in it. You can type a URL into it, if you can find where to type it. Even if you do have one, you are most likely using it for Google-ing.

All supporters of the open web should be alarmed. Reclaim your autonomy and make your property visible. Make the URL of your pages visible. Please don’t harm any beautiful hyperlinks in the process."
web  internet  online  openweb  autonomy  applications  appification  ux  walledgardens  html  html5  worldwideweb  urls  browsers  digitalnatives  heraclespapatheodorou 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Maya Children In Guatemala Are Great At Paying Attention. What's Their Secret? : Goats and Soda : NPR
"So maybe the Maya children are more attentive in the origami/toy experiment — not because they have better attention spans — but because they are more motivated to pay attention. Their parents have somehow motivated them to pay attention even without being told.

To see this Maya parenting firsthand, I traveled down to a tiny Maya village in Yucatan, Mexico, and visited the home of Maria Tun Burgos. Researchers have been studying her family and this village for years.

On a warm April afternoon, Tun Burgos is feeding her chickens in backyard. Her three daughters are outside with her, but they doing basically whatever they want.

The oldest daughter, Angela, age 12, is chasing a baby chick that's gotten out of the pen. The middle girl, Gelmy, age 9, is running in and out of the yard with neighborhood kids. Most of the time, no one is really sure where she is. And the littlest daughter, Alexa, who is 4 years old, has just climbed up a tree.

"Alone, without mama," the little daredevil declares.

Right away, I realize what these kids have that many American kids miss out on: an enormous amount of freedom. The freedom to largely choose what they do, where they go, whom they do it with. That means, they also have the freedom to control what they pay attention to.

Even the little 4-year-old has the freedom to leave the house by herself, her mother says.

"Of course she can go shopping," Tun Burgos says. "She can buy some eggs or tomatoes for us. She knows the way and how to stay out of traffic."

Now the kids aren't just playing around in the yard. They're still getting work done. They go to school. They do several after-school activities — and many, many chores. When I was with the family, the oldest girl did the dishes even though no one asked her to, and she helped take care of her little sisters.

But the kids, to a great extent, set their schedules and agendas, says Suzanne Gaskins, a psychologist at Northeastern Illinois University, who has studied the kids in this village for decades.

"Rather than having the mom set the goal — and then having to offer enticements and rewards to reach that goal — the child is setting the goal," Gaskins says. "Then the parents support that goal however they can."

The parents intentionally give their children this autonomy and freedom because they believe it's the best way to motivate kids, Gaskins says.

"The parents feel very strongly that every child knows best what they want," she says. "And that goals can be achieved only when a child wants it."

And so they will do chores when they want to be helpful for their family.

With this strategy, Maya children also learn how to manage their own attention, instead of always depending on adults to tell them what to pay attention to, says Barbara Rogoff, who is a professor at the University of California Santa Cruz.

"It may be the case that [some American] children give up control of their attention when it's always managed by an adult," she says.

Turns out these Maya moms are onto something. In fact, they are master motivators.

Motivating kids, the Maya way
Although neuroscientists are just beginning to understand what's happening in the brain while we pay attention, psychologists already have a pretty good understanding of what's needed to motivate kids.

Psychologist Edward Deci has been studying it for nearly 50 years at the University of Rochester. And what does he say is one of the most important ingredients for motivating kids?

"Autonomy," Deci says. "To do something with this full sense of willingness and choice."

Many studies have shown that when teachers foster autonomy, it stimulates kids' motivation to learn, tackle challenges and pay attention, Deci says.

But in the last few decades, some parts of our culture have turned in the other direction, he says. They've started taking autonomy away from kids — especially in some schools.

"One of the things we've been doing in the American school system is making it more and more controlling rather than supportive," Deci says.

And this lack of autonomy in school inhibits kids' ability to pay attention, he says.

"Oh without question it does," Deci says. "So all of the high stakes tests are having negative consequences on the motivation, the attention and the learning of our children."

Now, many parents in the U.S. can't go full-on Maya to motivate kids. It's often not practical — or safe — to give kids that much autonomy in many places, for instance. But there are things parents here can do, says cognitive psychologist Mike Esterman.

For starters, he says, ask your kid this question: 'What would you do if you didn't have to do anything else?' "

"Then you start to see what actually motivates them and what they want to engage their cognitive resources in when no one tells them what they have to to do," Esterman says.

Then create space in their schedule for this activity, he says.

"For my daughter, I've been thinking that this activity will be like her 'passion,' and it's the activity I should be fostering," he says.

Because when a kid has a passion, Esterman says, it's golden for the child. It's something that will bring them joy ... and hone their ability to pay attention."
children  attention  education  parenting  psychology  passion  2018  maya  barbararogoff  maricelacorrea-chavez  behavior  autonomy  motivation  intrinsicmotivation 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Thread by @ecomentario: "p.31 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… p.49 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.co […]"
[on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/1007269183317512192 ]

[many of the captures come from: "From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy" by Gustavo Esteva, Madhu S. Prakash, and Dana L. Stuchul, which is no longer available online as a standalone PDF (thus the UTexas broken link), but is inside the following document, also linked to in the thread.]

[“Rethinking Freire: Globalization and the Environmental Crisis" edited by C.A.Bowers and Frédérique Apffel-Marglin
https://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A.+Bowers,+Frdrique+Apffel-Marglin,+Frederique+Apffel-Marglin,+Chet+A.+Bowers+Re-Thinking+Freire+Globalization+and+the+Environmental+Crisis+Sociocultural,+Political,+and+Historical+Studies+in+Educatio+2004.pdf ]
isabelrodíguez  paulofreire  ivanillich  wendellberry  subcomandantemarcos  gandhi  2018  gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  deschooling  colonialism  future  environment  sustainability  cabowers  frédériqueapffel-marglin  education  campesinos  bolivia  perú  pedagogyoftheoppressed  globalization  marinaarratia  power  authority  hierarchy  horizontality  socialjustice  justice  economics  society  community  cooperation  collaboration  politics  progress  growth  rural  urban  altruism  oppression  participation  marginality  marginalization  karlmarx  socialism  autonomy  local  slow  small  capitalism  consumerism  life  living  well-being  consumption  production  productivity  gustavoterán  indigeneity  work  labor  knowledge  experience  culture  joannamacy  spirituality  buddhism  entanglement  interdependence  interbeing  interexistence  philosophy  being  individualism  chiefseattle  lutherstandingbear  johngrim  ethics  morethanhuman  multispecies  humans  human  posthumnism  transhumanism  competition  marxism  liberation  simplicity  poverty  civilization  greed  p 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Camilla Power: Did Gender Egalitarianism Make us Human? or, if Graeber and Wengrow won’t talk about sex … 15 March 2018 on Vimeo
"Camilla Power: Did gender egalitarianism make us human? or, if David Graeber and David Wengrow won't talk about sex and gender, it's not surprising they have almost nothing to say about equality or what drives change. Talk given on the picket line in the lobby of the Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW on 13 March 2018, organised by Anthrostrike: students supporting UCU lecturers' dispute.

Responding to Graeber and Wengrow's recent article 'How to change the course of human history (at least, the part that's already happened)' (Eurozine, 2018) and their earlier piece in JRAI 'Farewell to the "childhood of man": ritual, seasonality, and the origins of inequality' (2015), Camilla Power assesses their confusing claims about human 'origins' (or is that rather: some examples of upper palaeolithic archaeology in Europe and some old suppositions about where we come from), and highlights the question of equality as the crucial preliminary for a serious examination of the spread of social inequality. Power shows how, for evolutionary anthropology in this century, the recognition of female strategies and perspectives has become central to the understanding of how humans became what they are. A balance of power between the sexes was critical to the origin of symbolic culture and gender as our species emerged in Africa.

Camilla recommends for further reading:

'Introduction' to Human Origins: Contributions from Social Anthropology, edited by Camilla Power, Morna Finnegan and Hilary Callan, Berghahn, New York/Oxford, 2016
http://berghahnbooks.com/title/PowerHuman

'Egalitarianism and Machiavellian Intelligence in Human Evolution' by David Erdal and Andrew Whiten, in Modelling the Early Human Mind, edited by Paul Mellars and Kathleen Gibson, McDonald Institute, Cambridge, 1996, 139–150
http://researchgate.net/publication/273292486_Egalitarianism_and_Machiavellian_Intelligence_in_Human_Evolution

'Egalitarianism, Evolution of' by Cathryn Townsend in The International Encyclopaedia of Anthropology, edited by Hilary Callan Wiley Blackwell, Oxford, 2018
http://researchgate.net/publication/323126751_%27Egalitarianism_Evolution_of%27_2018_In_H_Callan_ed_%27The_International_Encyclopaedia_of_Anthropology%27_Wiley_Blackwell "
camillapower  egalitarianism  davidgraeber  davidwengrow  inequality  hunter-gatherers  equality  gender  humans  sex  archaeology  power  anthropology  mornafinnegan  hilarycallan  paulmellars  communism  mutualaid  evolution  kathleengibson  cathryntownsend  autonomy  independence  women  feminism  hierarchy  horizontality 
june 2018 by robertogreco
The Convivial Society, No. 4: Community
"More recently, however, I've come to think that community is a yuppie word. Let me explain. I'm borrowing the formulation from Bob Dylan, who, when asked if he was happy on the occasion of his 50th birthday, after a long pause responded, "these are yuppie words, happiness and unhappiness. It's not happiness or unhappiness, it's either blessed or unblessed." I suppose one either takes his meaning or not. It occurred to me that Dylan's sentiment worked well with how the word community tends to get thrown around, especially by someone with a new technology to sell. It's just another commodity or accoutrement of the self. 

There's another problem, too. I once heard someone observe that only sociologists talk about community. No one who is actually in a community calls it a community. They call it what it is: a synagogue, a family, a neighborhood, a school, a sorority, etc. Or you don't call it anything at all for the same reason that a fish wouldn't talk about water, the reality is too pervasive to notice and name. If it names anything at all, it names an absence, a felt need, and object of desire. Unfortunately, it might also be the sort of thing, like happiness, that will almost certainly not be found when one sets out deliberately to search for it. What we find, if we find anything at all, will probably not be exactly like what we hoped to discover. A pursuit of community in this manner is burdened with a self-consciousness that may undermine the possibility of achieving the desired state of affairs. On this score, social media does not exactly help. 

To express wariness of community talk, whatever its sources, is not, however, to dismiss the importance, indeed, the necessity of the thing we desire when we talk about community. That thing, let us call it Community with a capital in order to distinguish it, is vital and people suffer and die for the lack of it. At its best, Community sustains us and supplies the context for our flourishing in the fullness of our humanity. Apart from it we are less than what we could be. Community, in its most satisfying forms involves the whole person, including the body. It nurtures us as individuals precisely by directing our attention and our care outward toward those to whom we are bound. And bound is the right word. In a Community, we are bound by ties of obligation and responsibility. To be in a community is to have the self spun out into the world rather than in upon itself.

The question that remains is whether or not that thing we seek can be found online. Or, whether it is useful to think of Facebook, or any other social media platform, as a community. Consider, for example, that the root from which we derive our word community reminds us that a community is bound together by what the hold in common, by their common wealth. But what exactly do we hold in common with every other user of a social media platform? For that matter, what exactly do we hold in common with those who are our Friends or Followers? What is our common wealth?

I have no interest in the denying the obvious fact that genuine and valuable human interactions occur online and through Facebook everyday. I'm certain that some have found a measure of companionship, joy, and solace as a result of these interactions. But do these interactions amount to a community? Or, to put it another way, what definition of community is being assumed when Facebook is called a community?

It seems clear to me that connection does not imply the existence of community much less Community. It also seems clear that while we may speak of Facebook as a platform that can theoretically help support certain kinds of communities, it is meaningless to call the network as a whole a community. Moreover, if the only fellowship we knew was a fellowship mediated through a social network such as Facebook, then our experience would be impoverished. But I don't imagine that there are many people who explicitly and consciously choose to use Facebook as a substitute for fully embodied experiences of community.

There are also important questions to consider about how we are formed by our use of social media, given the design and architecture of the respective platforms, and what this does to our capacity to experience community on the platform or find Community beyond it. Chiefly, I'm thinking about how social media tends to turn our gaze inward. The platforms foreground for its users the experience of being a self that is always in the midst of performing for an audience, and at a consequential remove from the immediacy of a face-to-face encounter. Moreover, it seems to me that the experience of community ordinarily presumes a degree of self-forgetfulness. Self-forgetfulness is not something social media tends to encourage.

Belonging is a critical aspect of the most satisfying kind of community. But belonging is an interesting word. When we speak of belonging to a community, we ordinarily mean to say that we associate with the community, that we count ourselves among its members. We might also mean that we are at home in the community, that we belong in the sense that we are accepted. But the word also implies that we belong to the community in the sense that the community has a claim on us. I think this last sense of belonging is critical; the most satisfying and fulfilling experiences of community presuppose this kind of claim upon our lives and we will, ultimately, be better for it, but it is also the case that we tend to mightily resist such a claim because we value our autonomy too much. As is often the case, we haven't quite counted the cost of what we say we want. "
communities  community  lmsacasas  2018  facebook  socialmedia  online  web  internet  conviviality  ivanillich  self  happiness  unhappiness  boundedness  belonging  experience  self-forgetfulness  purpose  autonomy  michaelsacasas  amish 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit on a Childhood of Reading and Wandering | Literary Hub
"In the most egalitarian of European—and New Mexican—traditions, forests were public commons in which common people could roam, graze flocks, hunt and gather, and this is another way that forests when they are public land and public libraries are alike: as spaces in which everyone is welcome, as places in which we can wander and collect, get lost and find what we’re looking for.

The United States’s public libraries sometimes seem to me the last refuges of a democratic vision of equality, places in which everyone is welcome, which serve the goal of an informed public, offering services far beyond the already heady gift of free books you can take home, everything from voter registration to computer access. I’ve joked for a long time that if you walked up to people in the street and asked them whether we could own our greatest treasures collectively and trust people to walk away with them and bring them back, a lot of people would say that’s impossibly idealistic and some would say it’s socialist, but libraries have been making books free for all for a very long time. They are temples of books, fountains of narrative pleasure, and toolboxes of crucial information. My own writing has depended on public libraries and then university libraries and archives and does to this day. I last used a public library the day before yesterday."



"So let’s begin by recognizing that all this was—and in many moral ways still is—Coast Miwok land, before the Spanish came, before Spanish claims became Mexican claims, before this was considered to be part of Mexico, before it was part of the United States."



"Browsing, woolgathering, meandering, wandering, drifting, that state when exploring, when looking to find what it might be possible to find rather than seeking one particular goal, is the means of locomotion. I often think that hunter-gatherers must move a lot like this, seeking game or plant foods, flexible about what might show up on any given day. I was lucky that children were weeds, not hothouse flowers, in those days, left to our own devices, and my own devices led in two directions: north to the hills and the horses, south to the library."



"These linked paths and roads form a circuit of about six miles that I began hiking ten years ago to walk off my angst during a difficult year. I kept coming back to this route for respite from my work and for my work too, because thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented culture, and doing nothing is hard to do. It’s best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking. Walking itself is the intentional act closest to the unwilled rhythms of the body, to breathing and the beating of the heart. It strikes a delicate balance between working and idling, being and doing. It is a bodily labor that produces nothing but thoughts, experiences, arrivals. After all those years of walking to work out other things, it made sense to come back to work close to home, in Thoreau’s sense, and to think about walking.

Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts."



"Moving on foot seems to make it easier to move in time; the mind wanders from plans to recollections to observations."



"Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go…"



"Like many others who turned into writers, I disappeared into books when I was very young, disappeared into them like someone running into the woods. What surprised and still surprises me is that there was another side to the forest of stories and the solitude, that I came out that other side and met people there. Writers are solitaries by vocation and necessity. I sometimes think the test is not so much talent, which is not as rare as people think, but purpose or vocation, which manifests in part as the ability to endure a lot of solitude and keep working. Before writers are writers they are readers, living in books, through books, in the lives of others that are also the heads of others, in that act that is so intimate and yet so alone."



"Libraries are sanctuaries from the world and command centers onto it: here in quiet rooms are the lives of Crazy Horse and Aung San Suu Kyi, the Hundred Years War and the Opium Wars and the Dirty War, the ideas of Simone Weil and Lao Tsu, information on building your sailboat or dissolving your marriage, fictional worlds and books to equip the reader to reenter the real world. They are, ideally, places where nothing happens and where everything that has happened is stored up to be remembered and relived, the place where the world is folded up into boxes of paper. Every book is a door that opens into another world, which might be the magic that all those children’s books were alluding to, and a library is a Milky Way of worlds. All readers are Wu Daozi; all imaginative, engrossing books are landscapes into which readers vanish."
rebeccasolnit  2017  children  unschooling  deschooling  parenting  education  libraries  wandering  howwelearn  freedom  autonomy  forests  childhood  novato  california  learning  canon  publicgood  us  egalitarianism  democracy  socialism  thoreau  walking  cv  unknowing  uncertainty  woods  writing  howwewrite  books  literature  stories  storytelling  listening  reading  sanctuary  vanishing  nature  plants  wildlife  multispecies  morethanhuman  society 
april 2018 by robertogreco
'The connection between education and democracy should be clear'
"Simon Creasey meets the academic calling for teachers to revolt against the ‘pedagogy of oppression’ and demand due payment for their overlooked role in underpinning democracy

Henry Giroux wants teachers to mobilise. He wants them to rise up and launch a revolutionary movement in order to eradicate what he calls a “pedagogy of oppression” that has permeated the education system, both in the UK and in his native US. Teachers and teachers’ unions should work with parents to pressure governments to focus education on creating “informed citizens”, he says, not learning-by-rote simply to get students to pass their exams and become workforce-ready.

This is a push for change that Giroux has been working on for some time. He currently holds the McMaster University chair for scholarship in the public interest, in Ontario, Canada. But he has been an education academic for decades and penned numerous books. He’s insistent on this course of action because “you cannot have a democracy without an informed citizenry”.

“We live in a culture that thrives on ignorance, refuses to invest in education, flees from the obligations of shared citizenship and ignores what it means to provide a decent life for everyone, especially children,” says Giroux.

“[In this environment,] politics degenerates into a pathology and education is reduced to a form of training.”

'We need to have a dialogue'
To emphasise his point, he cites the election of Donald Trump – a president who is on record claiming that he “loves the poorly educated”.

“[Trump’s election win] is not just about a crisis of politics; it’s about the crisis of education, it’s about the crisis of civic literacy,” he says. So, how do teachers contribute to putting this right?

As a starting point, he thinks a discussion needs to be had about the true purpose of education. “We need to have a dialogue about what teachers can do to, in a sense, ensure that education is viewed as a public good and that it is tied to a democratic project that would be used to prepare students to be engaged, critical and informed citizens,” Giroux says. “We’ve got to ditch this notion that the only purpose of education is basically to educate people for the workforce or that the most important aspect of education is learning 25 different ways to teach. That’s just silly, it’s reductionistic and it turns teachers into automatons.

“This type of educational reform is really about deskilling teachers and turning education into an adjunct of the corporate workplace. It kills any notion of the imagination, and what we usually end up with is people teaching for the test. We end up with people basically implementing what I call ‘pedagogies of oppression’.”

Giroux explains that a pedagogy of oppression is one that essentially “assaults” a student’s imagination. “It often emphasises memorisation; it places a strong emphasis on harsh forms of discipline; it can result in enormously unproductive and poisonous forms of racism; it usually teaches for the test,” he says. “It embraces standardisation as a measure of knowledge and it does everything it can to basically shut down any sense of curiosity and any sense of teaching students – and teachers for that matter – what it means to exercise a degree of civic courage, to take risks, to doubt, to in some way be critically conscious of the world, to explore the full capacity of their imagination, and to open the world and themselves in a way in which they can embrace and expand their capacity to be real social-political agents.”

Giroux believes that we should educate educators in a way that enables them to fulfil the “civic purpose” of education.

“I think that increasingly gets lost in the commercialisation, the corporatisation, the commodification and the standardisation of education,” he says. “These are forces that have been highly influenced by a corporate state that doesn’t really recognise the relationship – and doesn’t want to recognise the relationship – between education and democracy, and I think teachers need to seize upon and develop a new language for understanding the purpose of education.”

Giroux identifies another issue: the things that children are being taught in schools typically bear no relation to the world in which they live – a world that is heavily influenced by social media, popular culture and mainstream media.

“To me, this is tragic because when that happens, schools often translate into dead zones of education and spaces of abandonment,” he argues. “They become places that seem irrelevant to young people. They seem to have no meaning except for an elite who need the credentials to get into Oxford, Cambridge, Yale or Harvard.”

He is similarly depressed by what he perceives to be a “deskilling” of teachers that has been brought about by the “audit culture” that pervades the education system in the US and UK. Educators, he believes, should push against or ignore it.

“Teachers can’t just close their door and say ‘I’m going to do everything I can to avoid this’,” says Giroux. “They need to organise collectively. They need to bring the power of a collective teacher’s union, and the power of working with parents and young people, to begin to put pressure on governments because in the final analysis what is at stake here is changing policy. That is, changing policies that are oppressive and endlessly put into play.”

‘Great social movement’

What is important, he says, it that such a reaction is not politically aligned. Giroux explains that “the notion of creating informed and critical students cuts across ideological lines” and that it “should be attractive to anyone who believes that schooling is crucial to creating informed citizens”.

To do this, teachers need to have a clear idea of their larger role in society and this role needs to be self-defined. “Teachers have to become part of a great social movement in which they define themselves as a public resource,” says Giroux.

He argues that, as part of this movement, teachers should fight for policies that advocate more funding for education, more autonomy for teachers and higher pay.

“Teachers should be paid like doctors and they should be professionalised in ways that suggest they are a valued part of any society, which is what they are,” says Giroux. “Schools matter in a democracy and teachers should be one of the most valued groups of people that we have in our society, yet at the same time they are the most belittled, the most dehumanised and the most exploited among professionals – and I think that’s because we have no faith in democracy.

“We can’t seem to make the connection between teaching, education and democracy, and I think that teachers need to make that connection and they need to make it loud and clear. They need to talk about public schools and higher education as democratic public spheres and they need to make clear that what they do is absolutely vital to the nature of society itself – and they need to fight for it.”

Picking sides

Although he concedes that he is “utterly pessimistic” about the changes that have taken place to the education system in the US since the 1980s – the public schools sector in particular – he is quietly optimistic about the future. “I think we’ve reached a breaking point where many people are refusing to accept what we call the ‘school to prison’ pipeline,” says Giroux.

“They’re refusing to accept the racism that goes on in schools with kids being expelled and thrown out of schools, and we have also seen this huge revolt in the US against teaching for the test. More and more people are now realising that education is one of the few protected spaces and battlefronts left over which we can defend any notion of a liberal education. An education that is engaged in creating critical citizens and furthering the parameters of a democratic society.”

Regardless of whether this change is happening as quickly as Giroux feels it must, he is clear that we are at a point where teachers need to pick sides.

“Democracy is in crisis around the world and to address that crisis, education needs to be reclaimed as a moral and political project willing to address the future with a degree of civic courage and educated hope,” he says. “In this case, the struggle to reclaim the democratic function of education is not an option, it is a necessity.”"
simoncreasey  henrygiroux  children  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  teachers  teaching  democracy  oppression  pedagogy  civics  politics  pathology  education  standardization  racism  race  rote  rotelearning  learning  corporatism  memorization  resistance  socialmedia  popularculture  society  elitism  credentials  us  uk  policy  autonomy  unions  organization  2018  sfsh 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Michael Ian Black on Twitter: "Getting a lot of grief from teachers for my earlier take on k-12 education. I meant no offense to teachers, who I think, by and large, do their best. My criticisms have to do with the whole dang public education apparatus, w
"Getting a lot of grief from teachers for my earlier take on k-12 education. I meant no offense to teachers, who I think, by and large, do their best. My criticisms have to do with the whole dang public education apparatus, which feels hopelessly outmoded and moribund.

I advocate an new model of education which focuses on two things: creativity and critical thinking. That's it. All else would be in service of those two skills. Why? Because the history of public education has been about readying workers to work in predictable industries.

Those predictable industries no long exist or are undergoing radical transformation. What cuts across all industries in this new economy are creativity and critical thinking. If you have those two skills, you can do anything.

Those skills also happen to be the most fun things to work on. "Draw something." "What do you think about you drew?" We're not grading you, we're asking your opinion. What works about this? What doesn't work? Exactly how tasks are approached in the workplace.

Also, why are we gearing everything to the tests? The tests are snapshots, rarely illuminating, and often overweighted. As testing has increased, childhood depression and anxiety has risen with it. For what? An extra hundredth on your GPA?

To what end? Why are moving these kids through the production line? My kids are in high school and I promise they aren't excited about anything they're doing. They can tolerate it. They like lunch. But they're mostly just moving through the day.

Wouldn't it better if they were excited to attend school because school was where they did all the cool shit they want to do? Play video games and read cool books and study music and, yeah, maybe write a paper about that cool video game, and maybe learn a little coding.

You want to play guitar? Great. Here's a guitar. Here's how music relates to math. Here's how math relates to science. How's the song coming? Take an hour for lunch. You want to leave early today? Leave early. Treat kids the way you want to be treated, excite them...

Connect them with experts in the fields they're studying. Develop mentorships, make sure they take a hike every day. Make school the place you wish you could have hung out when you were their age. Teachers can be guides, a support system, one-on-one counselors. it can work."

[previous thread: https://twitter.com/michaelianblack/status/955470909669892098

"Been thinking a lot about k-12 education since last night. (I mean, before that too, but I hadn't written about it on Twitter.) My conclusion: it's total shit.

I'm going to make some points that are probably obvious to most people but they're worth saying. First, the average education destroys children's natural inquisitiveness. "This rock is cool!" "Great. Memorize everything about its composition. then I'm going to test you on it."

Second, the grading system is meaningless. A good grade denotes mastery of a subject about as much as having shiny teeth means you eat a healthy diet.

Third, kids are bored because school is boring because the way things are taught is boring. It's not the teacher's fault. It's a system that values compliance over creativity. It teaches kids how to regurgitate instead of how to think.

Why isn't school fun? Why doesn't it look more like kindergarten all the way through high school? Why isn't it student-driven instead of administration-driven? After they know how to read and perform basic math why can't they pursue subjects about which they show interest?

If a kid likes to read, why can't she spend her time with other kids who love literature? If she likes science, why not spent her time doing science? Why funnel everybody through the same stupid curriculum that has no real-world application?

The goal of k-12 education should to nurture kids towards an excitement of lifetime learning instead of towards getting into a college they can't afford. Anybody who wants to learn something can learn it. But they need to want to learn. School kills desire to learn.

Would any adult choose to go back to k-12 schooling? No fucking way. For most people, it's an endless drudge. Why not preserve childhood as a time of exploration and joy? Who is well-served by this system?

We know k-12 education doesn't work well. Kids hate it. Parents hate it. Teachers hate it. Employers hate it. Everybody hates it. So why do we keep it? Why are we inflicting so much misery on ourselves?"]

[And a thread prior to that: https://twitter.com/michaelianblack/status/955263135254016006

"One of my life's great stress-reducing realizations is that I don't care about my kids' grades.

Not only do I not care about their grades, I honestly think I'd be fine with it if they decide to drop out before graduating. The way we educate kids is 100% garbage. (Maybe 75% garbage.)

Here's the only thing school needs to teach kids: reading, how to construct a coherent thought, and basic math. After that, kids should be free to pursue whatever interests them, supplemented with broad exposure to the humanities.

There should be more: art, music, game playing, movie watching, physical activity. Schooling through high school should bear more than a passing resemblance to kindergarten. The way we do things is stultifying and soul-crushing.

Everything I value as an adult was treated as extracurricular and slightly distasteful by the school administration. The arts had no "practical value," but somehow trigonometry did. It made no sense.

When I decided to become an actor, I was told (and believed) I would never make a dime. I took that trade-off to do what I wanted in exchange for little to no pay. But a funny thing happened. The gig economy of the actor became the gig economy of the entire country.

So I found myself much more comfortable in uncertainty as traditional occupational structures began falling by the wayside. I felt like I had the flexibility and creativity to tackle unfamiliar jobs with minimal training because I believed in my own adaptability.

The kids I see these days can do anything on a computer. They are good collaborators and their egos seem more in check than mine. They'll do fine in the coming years, but I'd like to see their kids the beneficiaries of this new kind of schooling, a student-directed schooling.

That draws from the expertise of the faculty to augment studies, but also to be able to access the world's great minds on your narrow question. Slow, non-grade work that moves towards a defining and meaningful goal/solution. Applied education. Seems like a better way to handled"]
michaelianblack  schools  education  grades  grading  homework  schooling  learning  children  parenting  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  2018  self-directed  self-directedlearning  howwelearn  freedom  autonomy  creativity  misery  sfsh  criticalthinking  middleschool  highschool  teachers  howweteach  schooliness  oppression  publicschools  childhood 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Culture of Childhood: We’ve Almost Destroyed It
[previously posted here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201609/biological-foundations-self-directed-education ]

"Children learn the most valuable lessons with other children, away from adults."



"I don’t want to trivialize the roles of adults in children’s lives, but, truth be told, we adults greatly exaggerate our roles in our theories and beliefs about how children develop. We have this adult-centric view that we raise, socialize, and educate children.

Certainly we are important in children’s lives. Children need us. We feed, clothes, shelter, and comfort them. We provide examples (not always so good) of what it’s like to be an adult. But we don’t raise, socialize, or educate them. They do all that for themselves, and in that process they are far more likely to look to other children than to us adults as models. If child psychologists were actually CHILD psychologists (children), theories of child development would be much less about parents and much more about peers.

Children are biologically designed to grow up in a culture of childhood.
Have you ever noticed how your child’s tastes in clothes, music, manner of speech, hobbies, and almost everything else have much more to do with what other children she or he knows are doing or like than what you are doing or like? Of course you have. Children are biologically designed to pay attention to the other children in their lives, to try to fit in with them, to be able to do what they do, to know what they know. Through most of human history, that’s how children became educated, and that’s still largely how children become educated today, despite our misguided attempts to stop it and turn the educating job over to adults.

Wherever anthropologists have observed traditional cultures and paid attention to children as well as adults, they’ve observed two cultures, the adults’ culture and the children’s culture. The two cultures, of course, are not completely independent of one another. They interact and influence one another; and children, as they grow up, gradually leave the culture of childhood and enter into the culture of adulthood. Children’s cultures can be understood, at least to some degree, as practice cultures, where children try out various ways of being and practice, modify, and build upon the skills and values of the adult culture.

I first began to think seriously about cultures of childhood when I began looking into band hunter-gatherer societies. In my reading, and in my survey of anthropologists who had lived in such societies, I learned that the children in those societies — from roughly the age of four on through their mid teen years — spent most of their waking time playing and exploring with groups of other children, away from adults (Gray, 2012, also here). They played in age-mixed groups, in which younger children emulated and learned from older ones. I found that anthropologists who had studied children in other types of traditional cultures also wrote about children’s involvement in peer groups as the primary means of their socialization and education (e.g. Lancy et al, 2010; Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1989). Judith Harris (1998), in a discussion of such research, noted that the popular phrase It takes a village to raise a child is true if interpreted differently from the usual Western interpretation. In her words (p 161): “The reason it takes a village is not because it requires a quorum of adults to nudge erring youngsters back onto the paths of righteousness. It takes a village because in a village there are always enough kids to form a play group.”

I also realized, as I thought about all this, that my own childhood, in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the 1950s, was in many ways like that of children in traditional societies. We had school (which was not the big deal it is today) and chores, and some of us had part time jobs, but, still, most of our time was spent with other children away from adults. My family moved frequently, and in each village or city neighborhood to which we moved I found a somewhat different childhood culture, with different games, different traditions, somewhat different values, different ways of making friends. Whenever we moved, my first big task was to figure out the culture of my new set of peers, so I could become part of it. I was by nature shy, which I think was an advantage because I didn’t just blunder in and make a fool of myself. I observed, studied, practiced the skills that I saw to be important to my new peers, and then began cautiously to enter in and make friends. In the mid 20th century, a number of researchers described and documented many of the childhood cultures that could be found in neighborhoods throughout Europe and the United States (e.g. Opie & Opie, 1969)."



"Children learn the most important lessons in life from other children, not from adults.
Why, in the course of natural selection, did human children evolve such a strong inclination to spend as much time as possible with other children and avoid adults? With a little reflection, it’s not hard to see the reasons. There are many valuable lessons that children can learn in interactions with other children, away from adults, that they cannot learn, or are much less likely to learn, in interactions with adults. Here are some of them.

Authentic communication. …

Independence and courage. …

Creating and understanding the purpose and modifiability of rules. …

The famous developmental psychologist Jean Piaget (1932) noted long ago that children develop a more sophisticated and useful understanding of rules when they play with other children than when they play with adults. With adults, they get the impression that rules are fixed, that they come down from some high authority and cannot be changed. But when children play with other children, because of the more equal nature of the relationship, they feel free to challenge one another’s ideas about the rules, which often leads to negotiation and change in rules. They learn in this this way that rules are not fixed by heaven, but are human contrivances to make life more fun and fair. This is an important lesson; it is a cornerstone of democracy.

Practicing and building on the skills and values of the adult culture. …

Getting along with others as equals."



"The adult battle against cultures of childhood has been going on for centuries.

Hunter-gatherer adults seemed to understand that children needed to grow up largely in a culture of childhood, with little adult interference, but that understanding seemed to decline with the rise of agriculture, land ownership, and hierarchical organizations of power among adults (Gray, 2012). Adults began to see it as their duty to suppress children’s natural willfulness, so as to promote obedience, which often involved attempts to remove them from the influences of other children and subordinate them to adult authority. The first systems of compulsory schooling, which are the forerunners of our schools today, arose quite explicitly for that purpose.

If there is a father of modern schools, it is the Pietist clergyman August Hermann Francke, who developed a system of compulsory schooling in Prussia, in the late 17th century, which was subsequently copied and elaborated upon throughout Europe and America. Francke wrote, in his instructions to schoolmasters: “Above all it is necessary to break the natural willfulness of the child. While the schoolmaster who seeks to make the child more learned is to be commended for cultivating the child’s intellect, he has not done enough. He has forgotten his most important task, namely that of making the will obedient.” Francke believed that the most effective way to break children’s wills was through constant monitoring and supervision. He wrote: “Youth do not know how to regulate their lives, and are naturally inclined toward idle and sinful behavior when left to their own devices. For this reason, it is a rule in this institution [the Prussian Pietist schools] that a pupil never be allowed out of the presence of a supervisor. The supervisor’s presence will stifle the pupil’s inclination to sinful behavior, and slowly weaken his willfulness.” [Quoted by Melton, 1988.]

We may today reject Francke’s way of stating it, but the underlying premise of much adult policy toward children is still in Francke’s tradition. In fact, social forces have conspired now to put Francke’s recommendation into practice far more effectively than occurred at Francke’s time or any other time in the past. Parents have become convinced that it is dangerous and irresponsible to allow children to play with other children, away from adults, so restrictions on such play are more severe and effective than they have ever been before. By increasing the amount of time spent in school, expanding homework, harping constantly on the importance of scoring high on school tests, banning children from public spaces unless accompanied by an adult, and replacing free play with adult-led sports and lessons, we have created a world in which children are almost always in the presence of a supervisor, who is ready to intervene, protect, and prevent them from practicing courage, independence, and all the rest that children practice best with peers, away from adults. I have argued elsewhere (Gray, 2011, and here) that this is why we see record levels of anxiety, depression, suicide, and feelings of powerlessness among adolescents and young adults today.

The Internet is the savior of children’s culture today

There is, however, one saving grace, one reason why we adults have not completely crushed the culture of childhood. That’s the Internet. We’ve created a world in which children are more or less prevented from congregating in physical space without an adult, but children have found another way. They get together in cyberspace. They play games and communicate over the Internet. They create their own rules and culture and ways of being with others over … [more]
childhood  culture  learning  children  play  rules  age  adults  parenting  schools  petergray  2016  sfsh  openstudioproject  lcproject  self-directed  self-directedlearning  games  unschooling  deschooling  society  behavior  howwelearn  democracy  change  practice  communication  autonomy  online  internet  web  authenticity  courage  hunter-gatherers  augusthermannfrancke  obedience  willfulness  youth  generations  jeanpiaget  ionaopie  peteropie  psychology  anthropology  peers 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Verso: Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power, by Byung-Chul Han
"Exploring how neoliberalism has discovered the productive force of the psyche

Byung-Chul Han, a star of German philosophy, continues his passionate critique of neoliberalism, trenchantly describing a regime of technological domination that, in contrast to Foucault’s biopower, has discovered the productive force of the psyche. In the course of discussing all the facets of neoliberal psychopolitics fueling our contemporary crisis of freedom, Han elaborates an analytical framework that provides an original theory of Big Data and a lucid phenomenology of emotion. But this provocative essay proposes counter models too, presenting a wealth of ideas and surprising alternatives at every turn.

Reviews

“How do we say we? It seems important. How do we imagine collective action, in other words, how do we imagine acting on a scale sufficient to change the social order? How seriously can or should one take the idea of freedom in the era of Big Data? There seems to be something drastically wrong with common ideas about what the word act means. Psychopolitics is a beautifully sculpted attempt to figure out how to mean action differently, in an age where humans are encouraged to believe that it's possible and necessary to see everything.” – Timothy Morton

“A combination of neoliberal ethics and ubiquitous data capture has brought about a fundamental transformation and expansion of capitalist power, beyond even the fears of the Frankfurt School. In this blistering critique, Byung-Chul Han shows how capitalism has now finally broken free of liberalism, shrinking the spaces of individuality and autonomy yet further. At the same time, Psychopolitics demonstrates how critical theory can and must be rejuvenated for the age of big data.” – Will Davies

“The new star of German philosophy.” – El País

“What is new about new media? These are philosophical questions for Byung-Chul Han, and precisely here lies the appeal of his essays.” – Die Welt

“In Psychopolitics, critique of the media and of capitalism fuse into the coherent picture of a society that has been both blinded and paralyzed by alien forces. Confident and compelling.” – Spiegel Online"
books  toread  neoliberalism  technology  labor  work  latecapitalism  capitalism  postcapitalism  byung-chulhan  psychology  philosophy  liberalism  individuality  autonomy  willdavies  timothymorton  society  culture  action 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Escola Aberta
"Escola Aberta1,2 is:

a) autonomous b) reflexive c) temporary

1.The Escola Aberta will be a temporary design school based in Rio de Janeiro. Teachers and students of graphic design from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie (Amsterdam) will conduct a week of workshops, lectures and activities, aiming to ignite a discussion on ways of teaching and learning and to establish an exchange of ideas with Brazil.

2. Directed at students, young professionals and artists, masters and apprentices, the Escola Aberta will be free of charge and take place from the 6th till the 11th of August, at the Carioca Design Center, Tiradentes square.

Escola Aberta1,2 will be:

a) free of charge b) in Rio de Janeiro
c) on August 2012 d) from monday to friday

1.Application deadline is 1st of July 2012. A total of 60 participants will be selected.
2. Please note that the Escola Aberta is unable to provide or organize any accommodation, board or transportation. Attendance is expected for the entire duration of the school, i.e. every day from Monday till Friday.

Escola Aberta1,2 seeks:

a) students e) craftsmen i) Brazilians
b) teachers f) artists j) foreigners
c) masters g) designers k) you
d) apprentices h) philosophers

1.The Gerrit Rietveld Academie is a dutch art and design academy, based in Amsterdam. It has grown to be a uniquely international school, open to applicants from all over the world. As a consequence an increased multicultural exchange of ideas, customs, knowledge and skills is cultivated. Particularly in the graphic design department the gap between teachers and students has become eminently narrow. This closeness ultimately opens up an intensified reciprocal exchange of opinions and ideals.

2.The Escola Aberta is looking for people with open minds, will for exchange, a questioning attitude and love for debate. Participants will be challenged to assume different roles during the week, to act as teachers and students, masters and apprentices, designers and artists. They must be able to switch from theory to practice and from protest to action.

T (true) or F (false):
( ) An art school, simply put, is a representative of the institutionalization of art.
( ) When our view of art is limited, so is our view of society.
( ) If questions aren’t asked in art schools, where then?
From Teaching to Learn by Joseph Kosuth, 1991.

Knowledge is something that:
a) You have to repeat and memorize, in order to get a diploma.
b) When in fact you need it, you can get it anywhere.

In 1971, conceptual artist John Baldessari was asked to exhibit his work at an art school in Nova Scotia. Since the school had no funds to fly him out for the installation, Baldessari sent a piece of paper printed with the words, ‟I will not make any more boring art,” and instructed the school to recruit students to write the sentence repeatedly all over the gallery walls, ‟like punishment.”

Art cannot be taught. However, one can teach _______________. The School is the servant of the _____________. One day the two will merge into one. Therefore, there are no teachers and pupils, but ________________ and ________________.
From the ‟Bauhaus Manifesto”, Walter Gropius, 1919.

“We do not need to consciously learn anything in order to learn something”. Do you agree? Explain. ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________
From Robert Fillou’s interview with John Cage in ‟Teaching and Learning as performing arts”.

Schools are:
a) on demand d) museums
b) commodities e) all of them
c) social events
School (from Greek “scholè”) means “free time”, being the time when people don’t have to act economically or politically. Within the domain of the school, neither accumulation and profit-seeking nor power games take center stage, but only the subject matter."

[via: https://walkerart.org/magazine/never-not-learning-summer-specific-part-1-intro-and-identities ]
brasil  brazil  lcproject  openstudioproject  altgdp  design  art  artschools  riodejaneiro  2012  ephemerality  ephemeral  autonomy  reflection  temporary  escolaaberta  bauhaus  bmc  blackmountaincollege  robertfillou  johncage  johnbaldessari  franklloydright  hermannvonbaravalle 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear
"Consider: Who pursues their goals with monomaniacal focus, oblivious to the possibility of negative consequences? Who adopts a scorched-earth approach to increasing market share? This hypothetical strawberry-picking AI does what every tech startup wishes it could do — grows at an exponential rate and destroys its competitors until it’s achieved an absolute monopoly. The idea of superintelligence is such a poorly defined notion that one could envision it taking almost any form with equal justification: a benevolent genie that solves all the world’s problems, or a mathematician that spends all its time proving theorems so abstract that humans can’t even understand them. But when Silicon Valley tries to imagine superintelligence, what it comes up with is no-holds-barred capitalism."



"Insight is precisely what Musk’s strawberry-picking AI lacks, as do all the other AIs that destroy humanity in similar doomsday scenarios. I used to find it odd that these hypothetical AIs were supposed to be smart enough to solve problems that no human could, yet they were incapable of doing something most every adult has done: taking a step back and asking whether their current course of action is really a good idea. Then I realized that we are already surrounded by machines that demonstrate a complete lack of insight, we just call them corporations. Corporations don’t operate autonomously, of course, and the humans in charge of them are presumably capable of insight, but capitalism doesn’t reward them for using it. On the contrary, capitalism actively erodes this capacity in people by demanding that they replace their own judgment of what “good” means with “whatever the market decides.”"



"
It’d be tempting to say that fearmongering about superintelligent AI is a deliberate ploy by tech behemoths like Google and Facebook to distract us from what they themselves are doing, which is selling their users’ data to advertisers. If you doubt that’s their goal, ask yourself, why doesn’t Facebook offer a paid version that’s ad free and collects no private information? Most of the apps on your smartphone are available in premium versions that remove the ads; if those developers can manage it, why can’t Facebook? Because Facebook doesn’t want to. Its goal as a company is not to connect you to your friends, it’s to show you ads while making you believe that it’s doing you a favor because the ads are targeted.

So it would make sense if Mark Zuckerberg were issuing the loudest warnings about AI, because pointing to a monster on the horizon would be an effective red herring. But he’s not; he’s actually pretty complacent about AI. The fears of superintelligent AI are probably genuine on the part of the doomsayers. That doesn’t mean they reflect a real threat; what they reflect is the inability of technologists to conceive of moderation as a virtue. Billionaires like Bill Gates and Elon Musk assume that a superintelligent AI will stop at nothing to achieve its goals because that’s the attitude they adopted. (Of course, they saw nothing wrong with this strategy when they were the ones engaging in it; it’s only the possibility that someone else might be better at it than they were that gives them cause for concern.)

There’s a saying, popularized by Fredric Jameson, that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. It’s no surprise that Silicon Valley capitalists don’t want to think about capitalism ending. What’s unexpected is that the way they envision the world ending is through a form of unchecked capitalism, disguised as a superintelligent AI. They have unconsciously created a devil in their own image, a boogeyman whose excesses are precisely their own.

Which brings us back to the importance of insight. Sometimes insight arises spontaneously, but many times it doesn’t. People often get carried away in pursuit of some goal, and they may not realize it until it’s pointed out to them, either by their friends and family or by their therapists. Listening to wake-up calls of this sort is considered a sign of mental health.

We need for the machines to wake up, not in the sense of computers becoming self-aware, but in the sense of corporations recognizing the consequences of their behavior. Just as a superintelligent AI ought to realize that covering the planet in strawberry fields isn’t actually in its or anyone else’s best interests, companies in Silicon Valley need to realize that increasing market share isn’t a good reason to ignore all other considerations. Individuals often reevaluate their priorities after experiencing a personal wake-up call. What we need is for companies to do the same — not to abandon capitalism completely, just to rethink the way they practice it. We need them to behave better than the AIs they fear and demonstrate a capacity for insight."
ai  elonmusk  capitalism  siliconvalley  technology  artificialintelligence  tedchiang  2017  insight  intelligence  regulation  governance  government  johnperrybarlow  1996  autonomy  externalcontrols  corporations  corporatism  fredericjameson  excess  growth  monopolies  technosolutionism  ethics  economics  policy  civilization  libertarianism  aynrand  billgates  markzuckerberg 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Mindset Marketing, Behaviorism, and Deficit Ideology | Ryan Boren
"The marketing of mindsets is everywhere. Grit, growth mindset, project-based mindset, entrepreneurial mindset, innovator’s mindset, and a raft of canned social-emotional skills programs are vying for public money. These notions jump straight from psychology departments to aphoristic word images shared on social media and marketing festooned on school walls.

Growth mindset and Positive Behavior Support marketing have joined Leader in Me marketing at our elementary school. Instead of being peppered with synergy and Franklin Covey’s trademarks and proprietary jargon, we’re now peppered with LiM and growth mindset and PBS. Like every marketed mindset going back to the self-esteem movement, these campaigns are veneers on the deficit model that ignore long-standing structural problems like poverty, racism, sexism, ableism, and childism. The practice and implementation of these mindsets are always suborned by deficit ideology, bootstrap ideology, meritocracy myths, and greed.

“Money Doesn’t Have to Be an Obstacle,” “Race Doesn’t Matter,” “Just Work Harder,” “Everyone Can Go to College,” and “If You Believe, Your Dreams Will Come True.” These notions have helped fueled inequity in the U.S. public education system. Mindset marketing without structural ideology, restorative practices, and inclusion is more harmful than helpful. This marketing shifts responsibility for change from our systems to children. We define kids’ identities through the deficit and medical models, gloss over the structural problems they face, and then tell them to get some grit and growth mindset. This is a gaslighting. It is abusive.

Canned social-emotional skills programs, behaviorism, and the marketing of mindsets have serious side effects. They reinforce the cult of compliance and encourage submission to authoritarian rule. They line the pockets of charlatans and profiteers. They encourage surveillance and avaricious data collection. Deficit model capitalism’s data-based obsession proliferates hucksterism and turn kids into someone’s business model. The behaviorism of PBS is of the mindset of abusers and manipulators. It is ideological and intellectual kin with ABA, which autistic people have roundly rejected as abusive, coercive, and manipulative torture. We call it autistic conversion therapy. The misbehavior of behaviorism is an ongoing harm.

Instead, acknowledge pipeline problems and the meritocracy myth, stop bikeshedding the structural problems of the deficit model, and stop blaming kids and families. Develop a school culture based not on deficit ideologies and cargo cult shrink wrap, but on diversity & inclusion, neurodiversity, the social model of disability, structural ideology, and indie ed-tech. Get rid of extrinsics, and adopt instead the intrinsic motivation of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Provide fresh air, sunlight, and plenty of time for major muscle movement instead of mindset bandages for the pathologies caused by the lack of these three critical things.

“Self-esteem that’s based on external sources has mental health consequences.” Stop propagating the latest deficit/bootstrap/behaviorism fads. Develop the critical capacity to see beyond the marketing. Look beyond deficit model compliance to social model inclusion. The social model and structural ideology are the way forward. Growth mindset and behaviorism, as usually implemented, are just more bootstrap metaphors that excuse systems from changing and learning.

Deficit ideology, surveillance capitalism, mindset marketing, and behaviorism are an unholy alliance. Fix injustice, not kids. “It essentially boils down to whether one chooses to do damage to the system or to the student.”"
ryanboren2017  mindset  marketing  behavior  behaviorism  deficitideology  disabilities  disability  race  education  learning  grit  growthmindset  projectbasedlearning  entrepreneurship  innovation  psychology  racism  poverty  sexism  bootstrapping  meritocracy  greed  childism  ableism  socialemotional  surveillance  surveillancecapitalism  capitalism  health  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  diversity  inclusion  neurodiversity  edtech  autonomy  mastery  purpose  self-esteem  compliance  socialemotionallearning 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Adventures in lifelong learning: Towards an Anti-Fascist Curriculum
"Yesterday's Warsaw demonstrations were shocking in their scale (60,000 nationalists marched on Poland's independence day; many calling for 'a white Europe of brotherly nations'), but were also disturbing in the way that, whilst confronted with new displays of far-right extremism almost daily - we just don't seem shocked enough. Fascism is like that, of course. It is out-there in the Charlottesville marches, echoed in the words of Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson, yet it is also insidious. It creeps into lives - and becomes normalised in our language and behaviours. As Umberto Eco wrote in 'Ur-Fascism' (1995, p.8), 'Fascism..can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances – every day, in every part of the world.'

The warning signs

I won't use this blog to attempt to summarise important political discussions or try to analyse fascism in any detail; I am not a historian. But given the international rise of the far-right I believe that, as educators, we have a duty to be sensitive to these shifts and as a result should be reshaping our curricula and pedagogy to take account of it.

According to Merriam Webster, fascism is 'a political philosophy, movement, or regime... that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition'. Eco suggests a list of features that are typical of what he calls Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. As he states, 'These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it'. The first principle, that fascism derives from individual or social frustration, is enough in itself to set alarm bells ringing. Four other key features are:

1. The cult of tradition. The desire to return to a better age, and a fear of modernism: 'Truth has been already spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message'. (It should be noted that the first thing that fascist states seize is the curriculum).

2. Irrationalism, and the promotion of action over thought. 'Distrust of the intellectual world'.

3. Fear of difference (fascism is racist by definition). 'The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders.'

4. The fostering of a spirit of war, heroism and machismo. 'Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual 8 habits, from chastity to homosexuality).'

An anti-fascist curriculum

I suggest here that an anti-fascist curriculum should take account of warning signs such as Eco's, and should also pay heed to Lawrence Britt's 'Fourteen signs of fascism' which include Cronyism and Corruption, the suppression of organised labour, obsession with national security and identification of scapegoats as a unifying cause.

The word 'curriculum' here refers to more than just the syllabus; it incorporates all influences on a child (or adult's) education (buildings, pedagogy, classroom management, the implicit and explicit things that are taught). As teachers we often distract ourselves from the bigger picture; arguments about the specifics of practice give a sense that our classrooms operate as micro-entities, where children are unaffected by the social dysfunction surrounding them. Managing behaviour is seen as a battle of 'them versus us,' and the 'othering' of pupils causes us to neglect the development of our own self-awareness. For this reason, such a curriculum can only start with the teacher.

Below are a few ideas for what an anti-fascist curriculum manifesto might practically include. It can only ever be a guideline; wanting it to become policy or enacted in some way defeats the object of a movement that should sit outside the state. Likewise, it should not dictate the behaviour of teachers, only act as a stimulus that has the potential, not to make large-scale change, but to spark a 'line of flight' that disrupts the status quo. If any of the manifesto chimes with you or you want send any thoughts or ideas as I continue to extend it, please do not hesitate to comment or get in touch with me.

Towards an Anti-Fascist Curriculum - A Manifesto for Educators

1. We start by examining the 'fascist inside us all.'

“The strategic adversary is fascism... the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.” (Foucoult, 1983)

We recognise our own interior desire for power and accept our responsibility as educators to reflect on this with others in spirit of critical challenge. We undertake critically reflective processes that make us question our own assumptions and prejudices, such as tests of cognitive dissonance to expose gender, race, age, disability bias, and intersections of these and other identities. We examine our own values, as individuals and within our organisations and consider the roots of these and their influences on our practice. Our reflective activity extends to our roles as leaders; we aim to continually refine and develop ourselves as human beings, alongside our students.

2. We promote difference over uniformity.

This includes de-centring the Enlightenment idea of the 'perfect human' in order to augment the voices of oppressed 'others'. We celebrate the living knowledge of our students, and examine the genealogy of the subjects we teach to decolonise and diversify our curricula. We make efforts to connect with others globally to inform our practice and maintain perspective. We challenge the threat of toxic masculinity through deliberate educational approaches which liberate men and boys from the need to conform to 'gender-specific' ideals (which further male supremacy). We reflect on our own privilege.

3. We accept complexity and uncertainty.

Whilst welcoming research-informed practice, we reject the fetishisation of science and the search for the 'ultimate truths' of education theory, which can limit educational autonomy.

4. We resist the reduction of 'education' to instrumentalism.

We widen the purpose of education to take into account the socialisation and subjectification of our students (Biesta, 2010). We believe in education as the practice of freedom (hooks, 1994) and consider each subject we teach as a potential vehicle to promote agency and social justice.

5. We are pro-social, critical pedagogues.

We use teaching methods that place an emphasis on the building of community, togetherness and belonging, which have a strong critical and reflective focus. Specific teaching innovations may include philosophical inquiry, restorative practice and thinking environments (and would include the implementation of critical digital pedagogies)."
fascism  sfsh  2017  education  uniformity  difference  complexity  cv  uncertainty  instrumentalism  schools  learning  freedom  community  togetherness  belonging  criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  bellhoooks  teaching  howweteach  openstudioproject  lcproject  restorativejustice  thinking  socialization  agency  socialjustice  science  scienticsm  autonomy  truth  enlightenment  humansism  othering  others  decolonization  diversity  curriculum  masculinity  gender  race  reflection  disability  power  responsibility  canon  love  exploitation  xenophobia  irrationalism  action  machismo  war  heroism  nationalism  tradition  modernism  cronyism  corruption  classroommanagement  manifesto  foucault  supremacy  patriarchy  privilege  disabilities  michelfoucault 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs vs. The Max Neef Model of Human Scale development
"Maslow wanted to understand what motivated people , in order to accomplish that he studied the various needs of people and created a hierarchy out of those needs. The idea was that the needs that belong towards the end of the Pyramid are Deficit Needs/ Basic Needs (Physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem) and Growth Needs (Self Actualization).

One must satisfy lower level basic needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs. Once these needs have been reasonably satisfied, one may be able to reach the highest level called self-actualization.

CRITICISM

The strongest criticism of this theory is based on the way this theory was formed. In order to create a definition of Self Actualization, Maslow identified 18 people as Self Actualizers and studied their characteristics, this is a very small percentage of people. Secondly there are artists, philosophers who do not meet the basic needs but show signs of Self Actualization.

One of the interesting ways of looking at theories that I learned in class was how a person’s place and identity impacts the work he/ she does. Maslow was from US, a capitalist nation, therefore his model never looks at group dynamics or the social aspect.

Contemporary research by Tay & Diener (2011) has tested Maslow’s theory by analyzing the data of 60,865 participants from 123 countries, representing every major region of the world. The survey was conducted from 2005 to 2010.
Respondents answered questions about six needs that closely resemble those in Maslow’s model: basic needs (food, shelter); safety; social needs (love, support); respect; mastery; and autonomy. They also rated their well-being across three discrete measures: life evaluation (a person’s view of his or her life as a whole), positive feelings (day-to-day instances of joy or pleasure), and negative feelings (everyday experiences of sorrow, anger, or stress).

The results of the study support the view that universal human needs appear to exist regardless of cultural differences. However, the ordering of the needs within the hierarchy was not correct.
“Although the most basic needs might get the most attention when you don’t have them,” Diener explains, “you don’t need to fulfill them in order to get benefits [from the others].” Even when we are hungry, for instance, we can be happy with our friends. “They’re like vitamins,” Diener says about how the needs work independently. “We need them all.”

Source : http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

vs.

Max Neef Model of Human Scale Development

Manfred max- Neef is a Chilean Economist. He defines the model as a taxonomy of human needs and a process by which communities can identify their “wealths” and “poverties” according to how these needs are satisfied.

He describes needs as being constant through all cultures and across historical time periods. The thing that changes with time and across cultures is the way that these needs are satisfied. According to the model human needs are to be understood as a system i.e. they are interrelated and interactive.

According to Max Neef the fundamental needs of humans are

• subsistence
• protection
• affection
• understanding
• participation
• leisure
• creation
• identity
• freedom

Max-Neef further classifies Satisfiers (ways of meeting needs) as follows.

1. Violators: claim to be satisfying needs, yet in fact make it more difficult to satisfy a need.

2. Pseudo Satisfiers: claim to be satisfying a need, yet in fact have little to no effect on really meeting such a need.

3. Inhibiting Satisfiers: those which over-satisfy a given need, which in turn seriously inhibits the possibility of satisfaction of other needs.

4. Singular Satisfiers: satisfy one particular need only. These are neutral in regard to the satisfaction of other needs.

5. Synergistic Satisfiers: satisfy a given need, while simultaneously contributing to the satisfaction of other needs.

It is interesting to note that Max-Neef came from Chile which was a socialist nation and therefore his model was more inclusive by considering society at large.

Hi, this article is a part of a series of articles I am writing while studying Design Led Innovation at Srishti Institute of Art, Design & Technology. They are meant to be reflections on things I learn or read about during this time.I look forward to any feedback or crit that you can provide. :)"
nhakhandelwal  2016  abrahammaslow  manfredmaxneef  psychology  self-actualization  humans  humanneeds  needs  motivation  safety  self-esteem  respect  mastery  autonomy  emotions  humandevelopment  creation  freedom  identity  leisure  understanding  participation  affection  protection  subsistence  classideas  sfsh  chile  culture  systemsthinking  humanscale  scale 
august 2017 by robertogreco
9 tools to navigate an 'uncertain future,' from new book, Whiplash - TechRepublic
[See also:

"Joi Ito’s 9 Principles of the Media Lab"
https://vimeo.com/99160925

"Joi Ito Co-Author of Whiplash: How To Survive Our Faster Future"
https://archive.org/details/Joi_Ito_Co-Author_of_Whiplash_-_How_To_Survive_Our_Faster_Future ]

""Humans are perpetually failing to grasp the significance of their own creations," write Joi Ito and Jeff Howe in Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future. In the new title, released today, Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, and Howe, a journalism professor at Northeastern University and Wired contributor, make the case that technology moves faster than our ability to understand it.

As technology quickly advances, it's important to separate inventions from use: Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, but it was Eldridge Reeves Johnson who brought it into homes and laid the groundwork for the modern recording industry. In the same way, we often don't know how modern technology—from the iPhone to the Oculus Rift—will truly be used after it is created. "What technology actually does, the real impact it will have on society, is often that which we least expect," write the authors.

Drawing from a series of case studies and research, the authors offer nine guidelines for living in our new, fast-paced world. The principles, writes Joi Ito, are often displayed on a screen at the MIT Media Lab's main meeting room.

1. Emergence over authority
According to the authors, the Internet is transforming our "basic attitude toward information," moving away from the opinions of the few and instead giving voice to the many. Emergence, they argue, is a principle that captures the power of a collective intelligence. Another piece here, the authors say, is reflected in the availability of free online education, with platforms such as edX, and communities like hackerspace that pave the way for skill-building and innovation.

2. Pull over push
Safecast, an open environmental data platform which emerged from Kickstarter funding, a strong network of donors, and citizen scientists, was an important public project that helped residents of Fukushima learn how radiation was spreading. The collaborative effort here, known as a "pull strategy," the authors argue, shows a new way of compiling resources for real-time events. "'Pull' draws resources from participants' networks as they need them, rather than stockpiling materials and information," write the authors. In terms of management, it can be a way to reduce spending and increase flexibility, they write. For the entrepreneur, it is "the difference between success and failure. As with emergence over authority, pull strategies exploit the reduced cost of innovation that new methods of communication, prototyping, fundraising and learning have made available."

3. Compasses over maps
This principle has "the greatest potential for misunderstanding," the authors write. But here's the idea: "A map implies detailed knowledge of the terrain, and the existence of an optimum route; the compass is a far more flexible tool and requires the user to employ creativity and autonomy in discovering his or her own path." This approach, the authors say, can offer a mental framework that allows for new discoveries. It's a bit like the "accidental invention" method Pagan Kennedy noticed when researching for her New York Times magazine column, "Who Made This?"

4. Risk over safety
As traditional means of manufacturing and communicating have slowed due to tech like 3D printing and the internet, "enabling more people to take risks on creating new products and businesses, the center of innovation shifts to the edges," write the authors. They spent time trying to find the reasons for the success of the Chinese city Shenzhen, one of the world's major manufacturing hubs for electronics. Its power, they found, lies in its "ecosystem," the authors write, which includes "experimentation, and a willingness to fail and start again from scratch."

5. Disobedience over compliance
Disobedience is, in part, woven into the DNA of the MIT Media Lab. Great inventions, the authors write, don't often happen when people are following the rules. Instead of thinking about breaking laws, the authors challenge us to think about "whether we should question them." Last July, to put this principle to the test, the MIT Media Lab hosted a conference called "Forbidden Research," which explored everything from robot sex to genetically modified organisms. It was a chance to move past the "acceptable" parameters of academic dialogue and bring rigorous dialogue to issues that will surely have an impact on humanity.

6. Practice over theory
"In a faster future, in which change has become a new constant, there is often a higher cost to waiting and planning than there is to doing and improvising," write the authors. We live in a world in which failure is an important, and sometimes essential, part of growth—but that can only happen when we get out there and start putting our ideas into action. The approach, the authors write, can apply to anything from software to manufacturing to synthetic biology.

7. Diversity over ability
Research shows that diverse groups, working together, are more successful than homogenous ones. And diversity has become a central piece in the philosophy of many schools, workplaces, and other institutions. "In an era in which your challenges are likely to feature maximum complexity...it's simply good management, which marks a striking departure from an age when diversity was presumed to come at the expense of ability," write the authors.

8. Resilience over strength
Large companies, the authors write, have, in the past, "hardened themselves against failure." But this approach is misguided. "Organizations resilient enough to successfully recover from failures also benefit from an immune-system effect," they write. The mistakes actually help systems build a way to prevent future damage. "There is no Fort Knox in a digital age," the authors write. "Everything that can be hacked will, at some point, be hacked."

9. Systems over objects
How can we build accurate weather forecasts in an age of climate change? Or trustworthy financial predictions amid political changes? These types of issues illustrate why it may be worth "reconstructing the sciences entirely," according to neuroscientist Ed Boyden, quoted in the book, who proposes we move from "interdisciplinary" to "omnidisciplinary" in solving complex problems. Boyden went on to win the Breakthrough Prize, awarded by Mark Zuckerberg and other tech giants, for his novel development of optogenetics, in which neurons can be controlled by shining a light."
joiito  future  emergence  authority  safecast  systems  systemsthinking  small  agility  agile  donellameadows  jayforrester  influence  risk  safety  disobedience  compliance  autonomy  reslilience  decentralization  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  self-organization  practice  theory  arabspring  ruleoflaw  jeffhowe  networks  mitmedialab  collectivism  collectiveintelligence  compasses  institutions  invention  innovation  failure  scale  diversity  ability  heterogeneity  homogeneity  management  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  omnidisciplinary  complexity  internet  web  attention  edboyden  climatechange  medialab 
july 2017 by robertogreco
ROAR Magazine: Dismantling neoliberal education: a lesson from the Zapatista
"The non-hierarchical education of the Zapatistas cries dignity and suggests that the suffering of the neoliberal university can be withstood and overcome."



"Power was trying to teach us individualism and profit… We were not good students." — Compañera Ana Maria, Zapatista Education Promoter



"As indigenous rebels, the Zapatistas astutely refer to state-sanctioned schools and universities as “corrals of thought domestication.”



"Without question, neoliberalism has launched a full-fledged assault on the mental health of faculty and students alike, not to mention the well-being of heavily-exploited, contracted, typically non-unionized workers in the food service and maintenance sectors of many universities. These nearly impossible circumstances are often the only choices many have in simply making a go of it in life. And a situation in which it is compulsory for people to discipline and punish themselves, as well as others, into becoming hyper-competitive, self-promoting functionaries of capitalism is — as a Zapatista education promoter so vividly put it — olvido: oblivion."



"In successfully liberating themselves from belligerent edicts of the Mexican government (el mal gobierno, “the bad government”), the Zapatistas now practice education on their own terms. They are not beholden to the parochial oversight of managerialist bureaucracies like many of us in neoliberal universities are. On the contrary, Zapatista teaching philosophy comes “from below” and is anchored in land and indigenous custom. Their approach is best illustrated by the duelling axiom Preguntando Caminamos (“Asking, We Walk”), which sees Zapatista communities generate their “syllabi” through popular assembly, participatory democracy and communal decision-making."



"A kind and good-humored education promoter explained the notion of Zapatismo to me on a brisk and fog-blanketed weekday morning in the misty highlands of Chiapas. In describing it, they noted: “Zapatismo is neither a model, nor doctrine. It’s also not an ideology or blueprint, rather, it is the intuition one feels inside their chest to reflect the dignity of others, which mutually enlarges our hearts.”"



"They also do not distribute final marks to signify an end to the learning process, and no grades are used to compare or condemn students. In these ways, the Zapatistas underscore how education is neither a competition, nor something to be “completed”. These transgressive strategies have essentially aided the Zapatistas in eradicating shame from the learning process, which they deem necessary because of just how toxic, petty and vicious neoliberal education can become.

To conclude, the academic status quo is punishing — and must be abandoned. Neoliberalism has hijacked education and is holding it hostage. It demands ransom in the form of obedience, conformity and free labor, whilst also disciplining the curiosity, creativity and imagination out of students, faculty and workers. The neoliberal university itself is sterile, negligent and conformist; as well as suffocating, lonely and gray.

Collective resistance is exigent because we need a new burst of hope amidst such a “heavy darkness” — and Zapatismo nurtures hope. Not hope in an abstract sense of the word, but the type of hope that when sown through compassion and empathy, and nourished by shared rage, resonates and is felt."
zapatistas  education  autonomy  authority  2017  levigahman  capitalism  neoliberalism  compulsory  deschooling  olvido  exploittion  horizontality  hierarchy  pedagogy  colonialism  decolonization 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Are You Being Served? → Summit_afterlife.md
"A few months after “Are You Being Served?“ some of us met up in the Feminist Server Summit at Art Meets Radical Openness (AMRO <http://radical-openness.org>), ESC in Graz. The theme of this edition, Autonomy (im)possible sparked discussions on relationality, dependency and what that would mean for an (imaginary) Feminist Server. The following embryonic manifesto was written in response to these discussions.
A feminist server…

* Is a situated technology. She has a sense of context and considers herself to be part of an ecology of practices
* Is run for and by a community that cares enough for her in order to make her exist
* Builds on the materiality of software, hardware and the bodies gathered around it
* Opens herself to expose processes, tools, sources, habits, patterns
* Does not strive for seamlessness. Talk of transparency too often signals that something is being made invisible
* Avoids efficiency, ease-of-use, scalability and immediacy because they can be traps
* Knows that networking is actually an awkward, promiscuous and parasitic practice
* Is autonomous in the sense that she decides for her own dependencies
* Radically questions the conditions for serving and service; experiments with changing client-server relations where she can
* Treats network technology as part of a social reality
* Wants networks to be mutable and read-write accessible
* Does not confuse safety with security
* Takes the risk of exposing her insecurity
* Tries hard not to apologize when she is sometimes not available


Another version will be developed and presented at The Ministry of Hacking (ESC, Graz) <http://esc.mur.at/de/projekt/ministry-hacking>. You are welcome to contribute to this text through comments, rewriting, additions or erasure: <http://note.pad.constantvzw.org/public_pad/feministserver>."
via:caseygollan  feminism  servers  technology  ecology  community  software  hardware  materiality  efficiency  scalability  slow  small  immediacy  networking  autonomy  security  safety  readwrite  service  manifestos  context  sfsh  care  caring  transparency  open  openness 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society Schools are...
"Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
Schools are designed on the assumption that there is a secret to everything in life; that the quality of life depends on knowing that secret; that secrets can be known only in orderly successions; and that only teachers can properly reveal these secrets.

Intense book to add to the unschooling shelf. Published in 1972, probably still as radical now as it was then, as many of the “symptoms” of the schooled society he describes have only gotten worse. Some of the big ones, below:

“School is the advertising agency which makes you believe you need the society as it is.”
The pupil is… “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is “schooled” to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work.

“School is an institution built on axiom that learning is the result of teaching.”
Teaching, it is true, may contribute to certain kinds of learning under certain circumstances. But most people acquire most of their knowledge outside school… Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting.

Most learning happens outside of the classroom.
Most learning happens casually, and even most intentional learning is not the result of programmed instruction. Normal children learn their first language casually, although faster if their parents pay attention to them. Most people who learn a second language well do so as a result of odd circumstances and not of sequential teaching. They go to live with their grandparents, they travel, or they fall in love with a foreigner. Fluency in reading is also more often than not a result of such extracurricular activities. Most people who read widely, and with pleasure, merely believe that they learned to do so in school; when challenged, they easily discard this illusion.

“The public is indoctrinated to believe that skills are valuable and reliable only if they are the result of formal schooling.”
School teaches us that instruction produces learning. The existence of schools produces the demand for schooling. Once we have learned to need school, all our activities tend to take the shape of client relationships to other specialized institutions. Once the self-taught man or woman has been discredited, all nonprofessional activity is rendered suspect. In school we are taught that valuable learning is the result of attendance; that the value of learning increases with the amount of input; and, finally, that this value can be measured and documented by grades and certificates.

“School initiates young people into a world where everything can be measured, including their imaginations, and, indeed, man himself…”
People who submit to the standard of others for the measure of their own personal growth soon apply the same ruler to themselves. They no longer have to be put in their place, but put themselves into their assigned slots, squeeze themselves into the niche which they have been taught to seek, and, in the very process, put their fellows into their places, too, until everybody and everything fits. People who have been schooled down to size let unmeasured experience slip out of their hands. To them, what cannot be measured becomes secondary, threatening. They do not have to be robbed of their creativity."
austinkleon  ivanillich  deschooling  unschooling  learning  schools  society  deschoolingsociety  life  living  self-directed  self-directedlearning  schooliness  fluency  reading  howwelearn  howweteach  education  sfsh  lcproject  openstudioproject  children  professionalization  ratings  rankings  grading  hierarchy  credentials  dependency  autoritarianism  freedom  autonomy  institutions  institutionalization  foreignlanguages  talking  specialization  personalgrowth  experience  experientiallearning 
november 2016 by robertogreco
The Great Affluence Fallacy - The New York Times
"In 18th-century America, colonial society and Native American society sat side by side. The former was buddingly commercial; the latter was communal and tribal. As time went by, the settlers from Europe noticed something: No Indians were defecting to join colonial society, but many whites were defecting to live in the Native American one.

This struck them as strange. Colonial society was richer and more advanced. And yet people were voting with their feet the other way.

The colonials occasionally tried to welcome Native American children into their midst, but they couldn’t persuade them to stay. Benjamin Franklin observed the phenomenon in 1753, writing, “When an Indian child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our customs, yet if he goes to see his relations and make one Indian ramble with them, there is no persuading him ever to return.”

During the wars with the Indians, many European settlers were taken prisoner and held within Indian tribes. After a while, they had plenty of chances to escape and return, and yet they did not. In fact, when they were “rescued,” they fled and hid from their rescuers.

Sometimes the Indians tried to forcibly return the colonials in a prisoner swap, and still the colonials refused to go. In one case, the Shawanese Indians were compelled to tie up some European women in order to ship them back. After they were returned, the women escaped the colonial towns and ran back to the Indians.

Even as late as 1782, the pattern was still going strong. Hector de Crèvecoeur wrote, “Thousands of Europeans are Indians, and we have no examples of even one of those aborigines having from choice become European.”

I first read about this history several months ago in Sebastian Junger’s excellent book “Tribe.” It has haunted me since. It raises the possibility that our culture is built on some fundamental error about what makes people happy and fulfilled.

The native cultures were more communal. As Junger writes, “They would have practiced extremely close and involved child care. And they would have done almost everything in the company of others. They would have almost never been alone.”

If colonial culture was relatively atomized, imagine American culture of today. As we’ve gotten richer, we’ve used wealth to buy space: bigger homes, bigger yards, separate bedrooms, private cars, autonomous lifestyles. Each individual choice makes sense, but the overall atomizing trajectory sometimes seems to backfire. According to the World Health Organization, people in wealthy countries suffer depression by as much as eight times the rate as people in poor countries.

There might be a Great Affluence Fallacy going on — we want privacy in individual instances, but often this makes life generally worse.

Every generation faces the challenge of how to reconcile freedom and community — “On the Road” versus “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But I’m not sure any generation has faced it as acutely as millennials.

In the great American tradition, millennials would like to have their cake and eat it, too. A few years ago, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis came out with a song called “Can’t Hold Us,” which contained the couplet: “We came here to live life like nobody was watching/I got my city right behind me, if I fall, they got me.” In the first line they want complete autonomy; in the second, complete community.

But, of course, you can’t really have both in pure form. If millennials are heading anywhere, it seems to be in the direction of community. Politically, millennials have been drawn to the class solidarity of the Bernie Sanders campaign. Hillary Clinton — secretive and a wall-builder — is the quintessence of boomer autonomy. She has trouble with younger voters.

Professionally, millennials are famous for bringing their whole self to work: turning the office into a source of friendships, meaning and social occasions.

I’m meeting more millennials who embrace the mentality expressed in the book “The Abundant Community,” by John McKnight and Peter Block. The authors are notably hostile to consumerism.

They are anti-institutional and anti-systems. “Our institutions can offer only service — not care — for care is the freely given commitment from the heart of one to another,” they write.

Millennials are oriented around neighborhood hospitality, rather than national identity or the borderless digital world. “A neighborhood is the place where you live and sleep.” How many of your physical neighbors know your name?

Maybe we’re on the cusp of some great cracking. Instead of just paying lip service to community while living for autonomy, I get the sense a lot of people are actually about to make the break and immerse themselves in demanding local community movements. It wouldn’t surprise me if the big change in the coming decades were this: an end to the apotheosis of freedom; more people making the modern equivalent of the Native American leap."
society  capitalism  davidbrooks  2016  history  sebastianjunger  communalism  nativeamericans  abundance  depression  us  affluence  millenials  johnmcknight  peterblock  consumerism  care  hospitality  nationalism  local  community  privacy  isolation  competition  autonomy  berniesanders  solidarity  wealth  atomization  well-being  qualityoflife  hectordecrèvecoeur 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The Unsupervised Kids of 'Stranger Things' Would Be a Nightmare for Today's Parents - Curbed
"These days, only kids in movies are free to explore"

"If Stranger Things feels even more eerily familiar, that’s because the show’s aesthetic is meant to evoke great ‘80s thrillers like Stand by Me, The Goonies, and E.T., in some cases, providing shot-by-shot references. As in those classic films, the kids are left at home by themselves to get spooked, then make their (sometimes gruesome) discoveries deep in the nearby woods, without an adult in sight.

It’s the bike moments of Stranger Things that really resonate. The kids ride their banana-seat and BMX bikes to school, to each others houses—even at night!—and without a single helmet. Bikes also represent a type of freedom compared to car-bound adults that works to the kids’ advantage. One of the best scenes shows the kids evading the bad guys by navigating a network of cut-throughs that slice through the culs-de-sac.

Those who grew up in the suburban US probably have similar memories. But this was in fact the real-life experience for those who grew up in Hawkins, Indiana, in 1983—or rather, the Hebron Hills neighborhood of Atlanta, where the subdivision scenes in Stranger Things were filmed.

Even the cut-throughs the characters use are actually there, says Valerie Watson, an urban designer who works for LADOT’s Active Transportation Division, whose childhood home was featured in one of the chase scenes. She rode her bike everywhere, including the creepy forest nearby where old trucks and burnt-down cabins were draped in kudzu.

Watson absolutely believes that being allowed to navigate her neighborhood on her own led her to become an active adult bicyclist and also influenced her decision to choose a career in street design. But she’s worried this might not be the case for today’s kids.

"I think our generation might have been at the turning point where society shifted on this," she says. "I remember getting the talk about what to do if a stranger approached you—’don't talk to them and ride away!’— and to move over to the side when cars were coming. Parental direction was more about ‘be polite and smart’ back then instead of ‘be afraid of everything’ like today."

And yet, statistically, kids in the US have never been safer.

This is a uniquely American problem, of course. Children in other countries are still allowed to roam unsupervised, which has inspired what’s been called the "free-range kids" movement here in the US, championed by parents who believe kids should be allowed to ride transit and walk to local parks by themselves.

The free-range kids movement even believes parental-induced paranoia might be deterring kids from biking. A recent article theorized that forcing kids to wear helmets and ride on sidewalks is scaring kids away from bikes, when in fact, American kids are far more likely to suffer brain injuries in car crashes. (Interestingly, as prop manager Lynda Reiss told Wired, the ‘80s-era bikes in Stranger Things were the hardest thing to find, thanks to the idea that older bikes are unsafe—so they ended up building replicas.)

My own suburban upbringing mirrors the setting of Stranger Things almost exactly. I, too, was allowed to wander freely—hoisting flimsy rope swings high into trees, building structurally unsound bike ramps, and wading a little too deep in the pond—as long as I came home before dark. The woods that backed up to our house served as both the innocent landscape of adventure and the horror film backdrop of my nightmares. It was often dangerous and sometimes scary. But mostly, it was awesome.

Then I look at my own daughter, whose hand I grip with white knuckles as we make our way along the incredibly busy street on our corner. The speed at which cars travel through this intersection is somehow far more frightening than anything I encountered in those woods.

I wonder at what age I’ll let her cross the street alone. Or if I’ll ever let her ride her bike to a friend’s house. I worry that the idea of letting kids explore their cities on their own is something she’ll only be able to see on TV."
alissawalker  parenting  strangerthings  2016  supervision  freedom  children  exploration  film  fear  movies  bikes  biking  goonies  et  standbyme  autonomy  mobility  helmets 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Dewey knew how to teach democracy and we must not forget it | Aeon Essays
"In 1897, Dewey described his ‘pedagogic creed’ as ‘individualistic’ and ‘socialistic’ because it sees the need to nurture each child’s unique talents and interests in a supportive community. …

For Dewey, however, it was not enough to ensure that his own children received a good education. He maintained that the future of US democracy hinged on offering a well-rounded, personalised education to all children and not just those of the wealthy, intelligent or well-connected. Dewey’s pedagogic creed is that ‘education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform’. Schools could teach students and communities to exercise autonomy and make democracy a concrete reality. The very name of the Laboratory School suggests that Dewey wanted the ideas developed there to be disseminated among education researchers and policymakers. What was unacceptable was a two-tiered education system that reinforced class and racial divisions. …

Why does this matter? Progressive education teaches children to pursue their own interests and exercise their voice in their community. In the 20th century, these kinds of young people participated in the movements against the Vietnam War and for civil rights. They founded Greenpeace and Students for a Democratic Society, listened to the Beatles and attended Woodstock, and established artistic communities and organic groceries. Though Dewey was not a beatnik, a hippy or a countercultural figure himself, his philosophy of education encourages young people to fight for a world where everyone has the freedom and the means to express their own personality. The education reform movement is not just about making kids take standardised tests; it is about crushing a rebellious spirit that often gives economic and political elites a headache. …

Dewey’s philosophy exercised a profound impact on US education in the mid-20th century. One reason is that many powerful individuals and groups advocated his ideas, including at Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as at the Progressive Education Association, at the US Office of Education and at state departments of education. Dewey’s influence peaked during the ‘Great Compression’, the decades after the Second World War when the middle class had the clout to say that what is good for wealthy people’s kids is what is good for their own. In Democracy and Education, Dewey envisioned schools ‘equipped with laboratories, shops and gardens, where dramatisations, plays and games are freely used’. If a public school has a gymnasium, an art studio, a garden, a playground or a library, then one can see Dewey’s handiwork.

In 1985, a few scholars wrote a book called The Shopping Mall High School to deride the tendency in the US to offer a wide array of courses, many of which have a tenuous connection to academic subjects. For Dewey, however, the other side of this story is that schools and communities were trying to find ways to engage children. As we shall see, Dewey did not think that schools should simply pander to children’s current interests. At the same time, he opposed efforts to impose a ready-made curriculum on children across the country – or, more pointedly, on those whose parents could not afford to send them to private schools. …

The task of the teacher, according to Dewey, is to harness the child’s interest to the educational process. ‘The problem of instruction is thus that of finding material which will engage a person in specific activities having an aim or purpose of moment or interest to him.’ Teachers can employ Dewey’s insight by having a pet rabbit in the classroom. As students take care of the animal, and watch it hop about the classroom, they become interested in a host of topics: how to feed animals, the proper care of animals, the occupation of veterinarians, and biology. Rather than teach material in an abstract manner to young children, a wise teacher brings the curriculum into ‘close quarters with the pupil’s mind’.

According to Dewey, teachers should cultivate a student’s natural interest in the flourishing of others. It is a mistake to interpret interest as self-interest. Our thriving is intimately connected with the flourishing of other people. The role of democratic education is to help children see their own fate as entwined with that of the community’s, to see that life becomes richer if we live among others pursuing their own interests. Democracy means ‘equitably distributed interests’. All children – rich, poor, black, white, male, female, and so forth – should have the opportunity to discover and cultivate their interests. Schools ought to be the site where we model a society that reconciles individualism and socialism, and that allows each child to add her own distinct voice to society’s choir.

What is controversial about Dewey’s concept of interest? Sometimes, far-right groups share the following quote attributed to Dewey: ‘Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society, which is coming, where everyone is interdependent.’ There is no factual basis for this attribution, and for good reason: it contravenes Dewey’s ambition to achieve a higher synthesis between strong-willed individuals and a democratic society, not to crush a child’s individuality for the sake of social uniformity. Dewey makes this point crystal clear in his essay ‘The School and Society’ (1899), where he announces a Copernican revolution in education whereby ‘the child becomes the sun about which the appliances of education revolve’.

Here, then, we understand the explosive core of Dewey’s philosophy of education. He wants to empower children to think for themselves and cooperate with each other. The purpose of widely distributing interests is to break down ‘barriers of class, race, and national territory’ and ‘secure to all the wards of the nation equality of equipment for their future careers’. Imagine a world without racism or sexism, one where all children get the same kind of education as the wisest and wealthiest parents demand for their own children, and one that trains workers to question whether their interests are being served by the current ownership and use of the means of production. Dewey is the spiritual head of the New Left whose writings have both inspired teachers and infused schools, and provoked a reaction from those who detest this political vision. …

Dewey believes that educators need to place themselves in the mind of the child, so to speak, to determine how to begin their education journeys. ‘An end which is the child’s own carries him on to possess the means of its accomplishment.’ Many parents who take their families to children’s museums are acting upon this idea. A good museum will teach children for hours without them ever becoming conscious of learning as such. Climbing through a maze gives children opportunities to solve problems; floating vessels down an indoor stream teaches children about water and hydrodynamics; building a structure with bricks and then placing it on a rumbling platform introduces children to architecture: all of these activities make learning a joy.

For Dewey, however, it is essential that educators lead children on a considered path to the cutting-edge of scientific knowledge on a multitude of topics. A good teacher will place stimuli in front of children that will spark their imagination and inspire them to solve the problem at hand. The goal is to incrementally increase the challenges so that students enter what the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky in the 1920s called ‘the zone of proximal development’ where they stretch their mental faculties. At a certain point, children graduate from museums and enter a more structured curriculum. There can be intermediary or supplementary steps – say, when they make a business plan, learn to sail, or intern at an architect’s office. Eventually, teachers have to rely on traditional methods of reading, lecturing and testing to make sure that students learn the material.

In the conclusion to ‘The Child and the Curriculum’, Dewey enjoins: ‘Let the child’s nature fulfil its own destiny, revealed to you in whatever of science and art and industry the world now holds as its own.’ He has faith that the child’s nature will find expression in the highest forms of human endeavour and that, for example, a kindergarten artist might grow into an accomplished painter. Dewey also believes that individual expression tends to lead to socially beneficial activities. These articles of faith are not necessarily vindicated by experience. Sometimes children choose the wrong path, and sometimes well-educated individuals seek to profit from other people’s misery. …

Dewey shows us that appeals to democracy carry weight. We recoil at the notion that some children deserve a better education than others because of their parents’ political or economic status. Nobody will say with a straight face that wealthy children should be raised to lead, while middle- or lower-class children are raised to follow, or that the kind of education available at the finest private schools in the US should be an exclusive privilege of those born with silver spoons in their mouths. ‘What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon, it destroys our democracy.’ Dewey’s words ring as true today as they did a century ago. In the face of the unrelenting attack of the education reform movement, we must fight to actualise Dewey’s vision of great schools providing the foundation for a living democracy."
via:anne  education  johndewey  sfsh  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  lcproject  democracy  schools  learning  pedagogy  society  individualism  individuals  community  class  inequality  us  policy  rttt  nclb  anationatrisk  race  training  howweteach  meaning  purpose  elitism  theshoppingmallhighschool  edhirsch  hannaharendt  vygotsky  zpd  interests  interest-basedlearning  children  criticalthinking  autonomy  interest-drivenlearning 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Make Games - This is an excerpt from the Spelunky book, which...
[via: "Thinking about this but for learning:"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/754162176345210880
along with
http://tevisthompson.com/saving-zelda/
https://medium.com/@helvetica/full-thoughts-on-pokemon-go-from-my-interview-on-the-verge-178b97b1112b ]

"Indifference

I played games everywhere as a kid—on my parents’ PC and their Atari 2600, at the arcades, in the car with my Game Boy, and at friends’ houses where I was introduced to Chinese pirate multicarts and exotic game systems like the Neo Geo and TurboGrafx-16. But for me, that era still belongs to Nintendo. My uncle was the first in my family to get a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), and I spent entire visits playing Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. When I wasn’t playing, I’d read my new issue of Nintendo Power compulsively until the next month’s issue. No one in the 80s built worlds as magical and well-crafted as Nintendo did. And although many talented men and women deserve credit for that, the one who stands out among them all is the developer who I was most excited to see in the crowd at IGF 2007: Shigeru Miyamoto.

Miyamoto once said that his childhood exploration of the Kyoto countryside was the inspiration for creating The Legend of Zelda, a top-down action-adventure game set in the fictional land of Hyrule. Recalling the time he discovered a lake while hiking, he explained, “It was quite a surprise for me to stumble upon it. When I traveled around the country without a map, trying to find my way, stumbling on amazing things as I went, I realized how it felt to go on an adventure like this.“ It’s the perfect way to describe my experience with The Legend of Zelda as a child, when my dad and I spent many hours meticulously exploring and mapping Hyrule. As I moved from screen to screen, slaying monsters and prodding the environment for hidden secrets, he would mark them down on our map with colored pencils.

It felt like we were Lewis and Clark trekking across the American West. I’ll never forget the first time I entered a dungeon and watched the bright greens, browns, and yellows of the overworld give way to ominous blues and reds—the sound of Link’s footsteps on stairs heralding the eerie dungeon music that still echoes in every Nintendo kid’s ears. It seems strange now, but in The Legend of Zelda no one tells you where the first dungeon is located. It’s possible to wander into the farthest reaches of Hyrule before locating it, and when you find the entrance—a gaping black “mouth” beckoning you into a giant tree—you may not necessarily know what you have found.

In a 2003 interview with SuperPlay magazine, Miyamoto recalled the day the game was released: “I remember that we were very nervous since The Legend of Zelda was our first game that forced the players to think what they should do next.” This bold and risky design, based on the joy of discovery, had a huge impact on me as a game designer. In Spelunky, as in all of my games, I wanted to capture the same emotions I had on that first adventure.

Unfortunately, that feeling about Hyrule waned with each successive game. Even as the worlds grew more beautiful and vibrant, a feeling of disappointment clouded my initial wondrous experience. Part of it is that I grew up. Zelda is 30 years old now, and in that time I’ve played 30 years’ worth of games and released some of my own. But while it’s harder to surprise me now, it also doesn’t appear that the series is as interested in trying. If the original Zelda game was made only for children, I might chalk it up to my age, but revisiting it as a “Classic Series” Game Boy Advance reissue, I was amazed at how strange and wild it still felt compared to the later games, and to modern games in general. It was like returning to the wilderness after a long hiatus, trying to get back in touch with senses that had been steadily dulled.

In Tevis Thompson’s brilliant 2012 essay “Saving Zelda,” Thompson likened modern installments of the game to theme parks, saying, “Skyward Sword, with its segregated, recycled areas and puzzly overworld dungeons, is not an outlier; it is the culmination of years of reducing the world to a series of bottlenecks, to a kiddie theme park (this is not an exaggeration: Lanayru Desert has a roller-coaster).” Gone is the wild frontier that I explored with my dad and the Kyoto countryside that inspired the series, replaced by something that feels too linear, too elegant, too smooth, too… designed? Quests have been turned into fun house games with obvious goals and rewards. “Secrets” are outlined with bright, flashing signposts. A theme park is exactly what it feels like.

Is a theme park necessarily a bad thing, though? I also have great memories of going to Disneyland, Magic Mountain, and other amusement parks. But leaving the park after a full day of riding rides and eating cotton candy, I’m not eager to go back the next day or even the next week or month. The thrills are garish and over-the-top, but also obvious and safe. Compare a theme park to that Kyoto countryside—Miyamoto purportedly came across a cave during his explorations and hesitated for days before eventually going inside. Why did that cave feel so dangerous to him, even though there was likely nothing inside? Why did my wife and I feel the same trepidation as adults in Hawaii, when we ducked into a little path carved into a bamboo field off the side of the road?

Thompson continues:
Hyrule must become more indifferent to the player. It must aspire to ignore Link. Zelda has so far resisted the urge to lavish choice on the player and respond to his every whim, but it follows a similar spirit of indulgence in its loving details, its carefully crafted adventure that reeks of quality and just-for-you-ness. But a world is not for you. A world needs a substance, an independence, a sense that it doesn’t just disappear when you turn around (even if it kinda does). It needs architecture, not level design with themed wallpaper, and environments with their own ecosystems (which were doing just fine before you showed up). Every location can’t be plagued with false crises only you can solve, grist for the storymill.

It’s easy to mistake Thompson’s assertion that “Hyrule must become more indifferent to the player” for an assertion that game developers shouldn’t care about the player or shouldn’t guide the player toward their ultimate vision. What it means is that the guides must be a natural part of the world, and the world, like Miyamoto’s cave, must simply exist. If a world is independent and self-sufficient, so are its inhabitants. If every part of a world exists only for the player, both the world and the hero will feel artificial.

Nintendo wasn’t the only developer to lose sight of that cave in Kyoto. All game creators must control the player’s experience to a degree, and it’s easy to take it too far—this is particularly true of large studios with bigger budgets that they have to recoup from audiences that include many casual players. Designers often mistake intentionality for good game design: We think that a cave must have a treasure chest in it, and if there’s a treasure chest it must be guarded by a monster, and if there’s treasure in the cave, then the player must find it, and if the player must find it, then there has to be a map that leads the player to the cave. That feels like good design because we took the time to plan it out and in the end the player did what we expected. But it doesn’t guarantee that the player will feel like they’re on a true adventure, making genuine discoveries.

Creating Spelunky was the perfect project to help me think about what a true adventure meant to me. Working by myself on a small freeware game made it easier to focus on my personal vision instead of what other people wanted. Using Game Maker allowed me to focus on game design rather than technology. And then there was the randomization of the levels, which made it impossible to fully control the player’s experience. All I could do was create the building blocks of the world and set them in motion—what came out could be as surprising and indifferent to me as it was to the players."
derekyu  games  gaming  videogames  spelunky  zelda  edg  srg  learning  howwelearn  shigerumiyamoto  exploration  worlds  kyoto  caves  hyrule  zpd  design  gamedesign  maps  mapping  techgnology  autonomy  experience  amusementparks  themeparks  legendofzelda  nintendo 
july 2016 by robertogreco
ROAR Magazine: Defeating fear: lessons from Mexico’s housing movement
"Los Panchos has taken back land and collectively built thousands of homes since the late-1980s. What could Global North movements learn from its successes?"



"As with the housing movements in London, New York, Berlin and beyond, the emergence of Los Panchos was a response to rising property prices in the twenty-million-dense Mexican capital. “You can buy or sell everything in Mexico,” Enrique told the small gathering in South London, “but the poor couldn’t afford the basics after housing became a commodity. In the cities, land had been given to developers to build housing that people who live and work there couldn’t afford. As the price of land increased, we realized the only way we could survive was to organize together.”

So that’s what they did. Following on the heels of a failed attempt by party-political forces to provide basic housing for 500 families on disused land in the suburb of Iztapalapa in 1984, many families stayed behind and fought for the land without institutional support. They formed the Allepetlalli cooperative and negotiated the space for 384 homes to be built in 1987.

With the wind of this landmark victory in their sails, Los Panchos was formed in 1988 with the explicit aim of taking back land. With the Mexican state having so recently demonstrated its inability to provide for peoples’ needs, Los Panchos began to occupy another tract of land in the Iztapalapa neighborhood, establishing the El Molino settlement and building homes with whatever materials they could get their hands on.

Initially things were basic; a mix of wood and cardboard structures dotted the settlement. But the humble resources available were no impediment to construction. “The dignity of housing comes from the people who live in it,” Enrique reminded the London crowd. “Even if materials were at first basic or precarious, the houses were dignified.”

Of course, property owners were not immediately ingratiated by this demonstration of collective dignity. Mexican police were dispatched – as they had been in the early days of the Allepetlalli coop – and innumerable battles ensued as the occupiers defended their new homes from regular violent eviction attempts.

The battles made clear that more than housing was required, as injuries required greater healthcare provision than was typically available in one of Mexico City’s poorest suburbs. Thus, as the community fortified their living spaces, day-by-day, they also began to train one another in First Aid and other essential medical skills to maintain the community’s wellbeing, while living under sporadic states of siege.

As the number and quality of homes increased between police raids, the movement began to negotiate with the land owners for a selling price that they could afford to pay. Their steadfast presence on the land offered a strong incentive for the landlords to make a deal and cut their losses.

Alongside the financial negotiations, Los Panchos established a security commission, coordinating voluntary community patrols and establishing borders to keep the police out (unless their guns were left outside and they were accompanied by members of the community). Once established, (as has been the case in other such experiments in Mexico where police have been barred from a community), Enrique told us that “the crime rate dropped to almost zero.” Even some of the movement’s early critics came around to supporting them as the community solidified its presence in the area: “When we first took over the land, the neighbors viewed us as criminals,” Enrique remembers. “Now the neighbors join us on community patrols.”

Los Panchos were and are reclaiming the autonomy needed to live their lives beyond the dual tyrannies of the state and the market. It began with housing, but it couldn’t stop there. Today, 28 years on, El Molino, is one of ten occupied neighborhoods in Mexico City. The most recent, in the neighborhood of Tlahuac, was only established in 2012 and continues to grow.

The Acapatzingo settlement houses over 600 families and 2,400 residents. Between them, the ten communities are home to over 9,000 people who have managed to build alternative ways of living and working together, beyond government initiative or private property ownership.

Acapatzingo boasts education, health, sport and leisure facilities, all built and maintained by members of the community. Families take part in local assemblies in order to make collective decisions, and rotate representative roles for any decisions that require the input of other communities, beyond the immediate neighborhood.

“We don’t want to grow individual neighborhoods,” Enrique emphasizes, “we want our neighborhoods to inspire others to take action where they are. Rather than grow the scale of our assemblies, we want these assemblies to multiply in other places, in whatever ways are appropriate.”"
housing  mexico  protest  alternatives  mexicocity  mexicodf  lospanchos  community  collectivism  autonomy  development  acapatzingo  df 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Popular lecturer at Berkeley will lose job despite strong record of promoting student success | Inside Higher Ed
"Students at the University of California at Berkeley like Alexander Coward. A lot.

“He is not just one of the best math teachers, but one of the best teachers that Berkeley has ever had the fortune of having,” proclaims the Protest to Keep Coward at Cal Facebook page.

Coward, a full-time lecturer four years away from a more permanent "continuing status" (but very much off the tenure track), revealed recently in a public blog post on his website that the Berkeley mathematics department would not renew his contract to teach multiple sections of introductory calculus courses. Students immediately flocked to his support on social media. Some used the hashtag #IStandWithCoward, and nearly 3,000 signed up to attend the protest on Oct. 20 -- the day the university will formally review the nonrenewal decision.

Coward, who earned a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Oxford, used his blog post to detail years of combative interactions with faculty and administration in his department. He linked to pages of email chains and hundreds of student evaluations that collectively seem to paint the picture of a lecturer who is very good at his job, but not so good at doing it within the confines of departmental norms or expectations. Specifically, Coward opted to forgo standard measures of student progress such as graded homework and quizzes in favor of what he sees as a more natural approach.

"We all know hard work is important, but there's a question about how to motivate students to work hard," he said in an interview. Tangible rewards like better grades for better work are one option, Coward said, but piles of research -- some of which he references in an open letter he sent the department chair in December 2014 -- point to a more effective system: intrinsic motivation. Encouraging the "motivation that's bubbling up inside ourselves because we're curious and like to learn and like to improve is much more powerful than saying, 'I'm going to do this because it's 0.7777 of my GPA.'"

In his classes, Coward says, he works to foster a feeling of autonomy, competency and personal affinity rather than rely on humdrum grades to spark motivation in students. In his class sessions, he asks repeatedly if everyone understands concepts. He repeats explanations several times, which he says is important for teaching math. And students say he always has time for them.

Actual course grades are based on final exams, which he does give, so his students do receive formal, traditional assessment at the end of the course.

That strategy spurred sweeping approval in the student evaluations he posted, many of which point to his enthusiasm, accessibility and outgoing demeanor in class. "He genuinely cares about his students," one student wrote. "And his love for learning and teaching really shines through his work."

Coward noted, and documentation he posted including an internal “Report on A. Coward” appears to confirm, that his students performed at or above average in subsequent mathematics courses -- a key piece of evidence that his teaching works. But even though students love him and go on to succeed in other courses, the department still found his approach to be problematic.

Arthur Argus, former chair of the math department, wrote a 2013 email, Coward says, “I do think it [sic] that it is very important that you not deviate too far from the department norms.” The sentiment came up again in emails and memos in the following years.

“This raises the question,” Coward writes in his blog, “What does it mean to adhere to department norms if one has the highest student evaluation scores in the department, students performing statistically significantly better in subsequent courses and faculty observations universally reporting ‘extraordinary skills at lecturing, presentation and engaging students’?”

“In a nutshell: stop making us look bad. If you don't, we'll fire you,” says Coward.

“We cannot address individual personnel matters, as they are confidential,” university spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said in a statement emailed to Inside Higher Ed. “However, many lecturers have appointments that may be for a single term or up to two years. They often fill in for regular faculty who are on leave, provide additional teaching to cover surges in enrollment and teach large undergraduate classes. Lecturers do not receive a commitment to ongoing employment until after they have taught for six years and have undergone a rigorous academic review of their teaching.”

Emails Coward received and subsequently posted include similar statements, but taken with the evaluations and other data Coward put online, they portray a man beloved by students.

A letter from a teaching evaluation coordinator about Coward’s student evaluations says, “Both of Dr. Coward's Math 1A scores were markedly higher than those of any of the regular faculty who taught Math 1A during the six-year period ending in spring 2013.” He averaged 6.4 and 6.5 on a seven-point scale, and both sections attracted nearly four times as many students as another section of the same course taught by another faculty member. In fact, the letter goes on to say, “Dr. Coward's scores are higher than any of the scores earned by regular faculty for at least the last 18 years."

More than 500 actual student evaluations follow the letter. Most of them are entirely positive.

“Professor Coward is by far the best professor I have ever had at Cal so far,” writes one student. “He has an extremely positive attitude when it comes to math, which makes the course really enjoyable.” Asked about his or her instructor’s weaknesses, that student wrote, “no weaknesses; his teaching is perfection.”

Some students do mention the same critiques the department raised, though -- that they wished he assigned more homework or kept a clearer schedule and record of progress.

Coward also alleges that administrators suppressed his glowing reviews and watered down statistical evidence that his students go on to perform better in other classes. In an open letter he sent to the department, Coward also revealed he had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital for suicidal depression, saying, "The entire faculty in the mathematics department should introspect on this fact. Bullying is something that affects adults as well as children, and where it occurs it should be addressed very seriously."

He added, “I absolutely love teaching the students at Berkeley, but I cannot in good conscience follow the instructions you have given me. I am unwilling to go to work and feel ashamed of what I am doing any more.”"
2015  teaching  learning  howweteach  alexandercoward  autonomy  assessment  rules  norms  ucberkeley  bullying  academia  highered  highereducation  pedagogy  homework  testing  motivation  math  mathematics  competency 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Return to Black Mountain College - WSJ
"“Black Mountain is a myth, but it was mythic in its inception,” says Helen Molesworth, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, who is organizing the first major American museum show to examine the school’s legacy, Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College, 1933–1957, opening this month at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. “The people who made it had a lofty sense of what they were doing before it even started. They were trying to form a better world.” The exhibition will feature work by nearly 100 artists. Along with stars like the architect Walter Gropius and the Alberses, it includes figures like the sculptor Ruth Asawa, the collagist Ray Johnson and the funk potter Peter Voulkos, together with scores of photos and archival materials, as well as dance and music performances held within the galleries.

Other 20th-century art luminaries passed through the college too, including the abstract expressionists Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline, Russian-born WPA muralist Ilya Bolotowsky and Jacob Lawrence, the African-American painter whose Great Migration pictures were the subject of a recent MoMA retrospective, all drawn largely by Josef Albers’s allure. From the start, “Albers had an international reputation, and so did the college,” says Alice Sebrell, program director of the Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center in nearby Asheville, which was founded in 1993 to honor the school. “He was very open to artists whose work was different from his own. The whole package was appealing to artists who were doing non-mainstream work.”

From today’s vantage point, the reality of Black Mountain College as a crucial nexus for artistic, intellectual and even political activity is coming into sharp focus. Artists, scholars, educators and curators are increasingly recognizing that its unique environment was essential to the flowering of midcentury American art and culture, a place where the avant-garde of Europe and the United States came together and created something new. The past year has seen another major show, Black Mountain: An Interdisciplinary Experiment 1933–1957, at Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof, which explored the creative contributions made by German refugee artists and intellectuals who converged at the school during the Nazi era. A new book, The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College, was published last December.

“Today Black Mountain seems so avant la lettre, so proto-Beat, proto-hippie, so completely off the known of the region but also of the nation,” says Eva Díaz, the book’s author. In a contemporary art world riveted by the idea of experimentation, she adds, “Black Mountain is often invoked as a touchstone.”

The school’s interdisciplinary outlook is like catnip to curators and academics because it anticipated the current interest in performance art, craft and design. Artists are fascinated by it too: “There’s a growing need for us to be socially engaged, to want an interaction with a larger aspect of society,” says photographer and sculptor Sara VanDerBeek, whose father, the experimental filmmaker Stan VanDerBeek, studied at the college from 1949 to 1951. “That’s in keeping with the things they were discussing and engaging in at Black Mountain.”"



"“The teachers who were at Black Mountain were there because they really believed in freedom and education,” says abstractionist Dorothea Rockburne, who heard of it as a teenager in Montreal and began saving money to attend, which she finally did, from 1950 to 1954. She took science with the physicist Goldowski, but her most profound connection was with the German mathematician Max Dehn, with whom she studied topology, linear algebra and Euclidean geometry.

Part of what made Black Mountain special was the mix of disciplines, the intensity and the fact that everyone was together so constantly in the remote location. “We were all foreigners, so to speak, in that setting,” says Theodore Dreier Jr. (the son of the co-founder), who studied music there before transferring to Harvard, later becoming a psychiatrist. “It enhanced that kind of participatory, creative openness.”

The college was never accredited, largely because the founders wanted to remain independent from outside influences. Its largest class was 100, and only 66 students ever graduated. But great teaching was always the byword. Although the constantly evolving curriculum always included classroom instruction, Rockburne recalls that most of Dehn’s teaching “took place on our morning walks to the waterfall five days a week. He would explain to me the mathematics of nature,” pointing out examples of probability theory and Fibonacci progression as they occurred in plants. “I always had the sense that my teachers were living for me.”

By 1941, just before the United States joined the war, the school had raised the money to buy its own lakeside campus. It moved after the faculty and students had spent a year and a half constructing a two-story, 202-foot-long, streamlined modernist compound known as the Studies Building. When its summer art and music sessions, initiated by Albers, began in 1944, a dizzying array of instructors arrived, including the art critic Clement Greenberg, the choreographer Agnes de Mille, the gamelan composer Lou Harrison and the photographer Harry Callahan—most long before they became well known."
bmc  blackmountaincollege  2015  carolkino  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  art  education  schools  unschooling  deschooling  democracy  freedom  autonomy  learning  history  robertrauschenberg  johncage  johnandrewrice  rollinscollege  highered  highereducation  stanvanderbeek  saravanderbeek  mercecunningham  jeromerobbins  josefalbers  bauhaus  communes  cytwombly  annialbers  buckminsterfuller  helenmolesworth  robertmotherwell  jacoblawrence  franzkline  ilyabolotowsky  alicesebrell  theodoredreier  jonathanwilliams  walking 
october 2015 by robertogreco
I keep coming back to this, and I question everything. | The Reason I Do This
"Audrey Watters @audreywatters: “I think this is one of our major challenges, right? Because it shouldn't be "is this part of the curriculum"...”
4:55 PM - 8 Oct 2015

Will Richardson @willrich45: “The "curriculum" should be discovered (not delivered) based on events and questions that are relevant to "our world." @audreywatters”
4:58 PM - 8 Oct 2015

"This morning my class and I began our day on the carpet, chatting about issues currently presenting themselves in the Canadian election campaign. This was a continuation of yesterday’s conversation and debate, as the kids wanted it to continue. Over the two days we covered the niqab fiasco, marijuana legalization, and the role of Canada’s military. We’re not done, either, as the students have requested that we keep this going. They have a vote coming up, as part of the Student Vote initiative, and they are taking these issues to heart as they try to make a decision on who they want to vote for. They have so many questions, even though they don’t get to vote for “real,” and it’s hard for me to keep up.

I left school feeling sad today, though, because when moments like these happen in my classroom I am reminded of how little autonomy students really have over their own learning. And I start thinking — for the millionth time, I’m sure — about what I wish school actually was: a place where students could come and learn about whatever they want.

Will Richardson says it perfectly in the tweet above. I’ve seen him speak, and I’ve been in email contact with him, and he’s dead serious about this. He — and many others out there, myself included — argues that by definition a curriculum is outdated, due to the fact that it’s being written by adults whose grade school or high school days are long behind them. Sir Ken Robinson adds to that argument that the jobs today’s students will have when they are adults likely haven’t been conceived of yet. And this begs the question: Are we truly preparing them well for the world they will inherit? By basically telling them what they need to learn? It’s an old question, but I keep coming back to it. I can’t help it.

For now, though, I need a work around, and for that I have my friend and colleague Stacey to thank. I’m going to have my students start a passion project, which means that essentially they can learn about whatever they want. The only catch is (because I have to address curriculum) that it must relate to government in Canada in some fashion. Stacey’s students have already begun this venture, and she’s been thrilled with the results so far, especially in the realm of engagement.

Is this enough? No. Richardson would say that I’m still putting limitations on my students, and I agree with him completely. I will never think it fair that, in the information age, kids should be told what to learn about. Fortunately, this mandated government unit relates directly to the current events in their world at the moment, so in that respect it meets Richardson’s criteria. But there’s so much else that doesn’t.

I think I will always keep coming back to this question, because it is at the heart of any change — either big or small — that we teachers make in our classrooms. We’re all teaching because we want what’s best for kids. But what’s best for them now isn’t necessarily what was best for them 10 years ago. Or five. Or even last year. The world is changing quickly. My students tell me that, through their words and actions, almost every day. And they expect me to keep up. They expect us all to."
tomfuke  2015  autonomy  education  teaching  emergentcurriculum  curriculum  relevance  kenrobinson  willrichardson  audreywatters  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  canada 
october 2015 by robertogreco
[Essay] | The Neoliberal Arts, by William Deresiewicz | Harper's Magazine
"I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.

leadership
service
integrity
creativity

Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.

A spatial structure, the sentence also suggests a temporal sequence. Thinking clearly, it wants us to recognize, leads to thinking independently. Thinking independently leads to living confidently. Living confidently leads to living courageously. Living courageously leads to living hopefully. And the entire chain begins with a college that recognizes it has an obligation to its students, an obligation to develop their abilities to think and live.

Finally, the sentence is attributed to an individual. It expresses her convictions and ideals. It announces that she is prepared to hold herself accountable for certain responsibilities.

The second text is not a sentence. It is four words floating in space, unconnected to one another or to any other concept. Four words — four slogans, really — whose meaning and function are left undefined, open to whatever interpretation the reader cares to project on them.

Four words, three of which — “leadership,” “service,” and “creativity” — are the loudest buzzwords in contemporary higher education. (“Integrity” is presumably intended as a synonym for the more familiar “character,” which for colleges at this point means nothing more than not cheating.) The text is not the statement of an individual; it is the emanation of a bureaucracy. In this case, a literally anonymous bureaucracy: no one could tell me when this version of the institution’s mission statement was formulated, or by whom. No one could even tell me who had decided to hang those banners all over campus. The sentence from the founder has also long been mounted on the college walls. The other words had just appeared, as if enunciated by the zeitgeist.

But the most important thing to note about the second text is what it doesn’t talk about: thinking or learning. In what it both does and doesn’t say, it therefore constitutes an apt reflection of the current state of higher education. College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.

This is education in the age of neoliberalism. Call it Reaganism or Thatcherism, economism or market fundamentalism, neoliberalism is an ideology that reduces all values to money values. The worth of a thing is the price of the thing. The worth of a person is the wealth of the person. Neoliberalism tells you that you are valuable exclusively in terms of your activity in the marketplace — in Wordsworth’s phrase, your getting and spending.

The purpose of education in a neoliberal age is to produce producers. I published a book last year that said that, by and large, elite American universities no longer provide their students with a real education, one that addresses them as complete human beings rather than as future specialists — that enables them, as I put it, to build a self or (following Keats) to become a soul. Of all the responses the book aroused, the most dismaying was this: that so many individuals associated with those institutions said not, “Of course we provide our students with a real education,” but rather, “What is this ‘real education’ nonsense, anyway?”"



"So what’s so bad about leadership, service, and creativity? What’s bad about them is that, as they’re understood on campus and beyond, they are all encased in neoliberal assumptions. Neoliberalism, which dovetails perfectly with meritocracy, has generated a caste system: “winners and losers,” “makers and takers,” “the best and the brightest,” the whole gospel of Ayn Rand and her Übermenschen. That’s what “leadership” is finally about. There are leaders, and then there is everyone else: the led, presumably — the followers, the little people. Leaders get things done; leaders take command. When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge.

“Service” is what the winners engage in when they find themselves in a benevolent mood. Call it Clintonism, by analogy with Reaganism. Bill Clinton not only ratified the neoliberal consensus as president, he has extended its logic as a former president. Reaganism means the affluent have all the money, as well as all the power. Clintonism means they use their money and power, or a bit of it, to help the less fortunate — because the less fortunate (i.e., the losers) can’t help themselves. Hence the Clinton Foundation, hence every philanthropic or altruistic endeavor on the part of highly privileged, highly credentialed, highly resourced elites, including all those nonprofits or socially conscious for-profits that college students start or dream of starting.

“Creativity,” meanwhile, is basically a business concept, aligned with the other clichés that have come to us from the management schools by way of Silicon Valley: “disruption,” “innovation,” “transformation.” “Creativity” is not about becoming an artist. No one wants you to become an artist. It’s about devising “innovative” products, services, and techniques — “solutions,” which imply that you already know the problem. “Creativity” means design thinking, in the terms articulated by the writer Amy Whitaker, not art thinking: getting from A to a predetermined B, not engaging in an open-ended exploratory process in the course of which you discover the B.

Leadership, service, and creativity do not seek fundamental change (remember, fundamental change is out in neoliberalism); they seek technological or technocratic change within a static social framework, within a market framework. Which is really too bad, because the biggest challenges we face — climate change, resource depletion, the disappearance of work in the face of automation — will require nothing less than fundamental change, a new organization of society. If there was ever a time that we needed young people to imagine a different world, that time is now.

We have always been, in the United States, what Lionel Trilling called a business civilization. But we have also always had a range of counterbalancing institutions, countercultural institutions, to advance a different set of values: the churches, the arts, the democratic tradition itself. When the pendulum has swung too far in one direction (and it’s always the same direction), new institutions or movements have emerged, or old ones have renewed their mission. Education in general, and higher education in particular, has always been one of those institutions. But now the market has become so powerful that it’s swallowing the very things that are supposed to keep it in check. Artists are becoming “creatives.” Journalism has become “the media.” Government is bought and paid for. The prosperity gospel has arisen as one of the most prominent movements in American Christianity. And colleges and universities are acting like businesses, and in the service of businesses.

What is to be done? Those very same WASP aristocrats — enough of them, at least, including several presidents of Harvard and Yale — when facing the failure of their own class in the form of the Great Depression, succeeded in superseding themselves and creating a new system, the meritocracy we live with now. But I’m not sure we possess the moral resources to do the same. The WASPs had been taught that leadership meant putting the collective good ahead of your own. But meritocracy means looking out for number one, and neoliberalism doesn’t believe in the collective. As Margaret Thatcher famously said about society, “There’s no such thing. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” As for elite university presidents, they are little more these days than lackeys of the plutocracy, with all the moral stature of the butler in a country house.

Neoliberalism disarms us in another sense as well. For all its rhetoric of freedom and individual initiative, the culture of the market is exceptionally good at inculcating a sense of helplessness. So much of the language around college today, and so much of the negative response to my suggestion that students ought to worry less about pursuing wealth and more about constructing a sense of purpose for themselves, presumes that young people are the passive objects of economic forces. That they have no agency, no options. That they have to do what the market tells them. A Princeton student literally made this argument to me: If the market is incentivizing me to go to Wall Street, he said, then who am I to argue?

I have also had the pleasure, over the past year, of hearing from a lot of people who are pushing back against the dictates of neoliberal education: starting high schools, starting colleges, creating alternatives to high school and college, making documentaries, launching nonprofits, parenting in different ways, conducting their lives in different ways. I welcome these efforts, but none of them address the fundamental problem, which is that we no longer believe in public solutions. We only … [more]
williamderesiewicz  education  highereducation  neoliberalism  capitalism  learning  purpose  stevenpinker  2015  individualism  economics  leadership  missionstatements  courage  confidence  hope  criticalthinking  independence  autonomy  liberalarts  wealth  inequality  citizenship  civics  society  highered  publicpurpose  business  ronaldreagan  billclinton  margaretthatcher  government  media  lioneltrilling  socialgood  creativity  innovation  amywhitaker  service  servicelearning  change  fundamentalchange  systemsthinking  us  civilization  transformation  money  power  aynrand  meritocracy  plutocracy  college  colleges  universities  schools  markets  wallstreet  helplessness  elitism  berniesanders  communitycolleges  aristocracy  reaganism  clintonism  politics  entrepreneurship  volunteerism  rickscott  corporatization  modernity  joshuarothman  greatbooks  1960s  stem  steam  commercialization  davidbrooks 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Whole of Work - Features - Source: An OpenNews project
"I shouldn’t have to say this, but here we are: work that is excessive, consuming north of 40 hours a week and without regular holidays, leads to burnout and reduced productivity, not to mention a toll on workers’ mental and physical health. We should build workplaces that encourage healthy work habits because we are not monsters, but also because we benefit from sane work cultures because they achieve better results.

With that out of the way, parental leave, holidays, paid sick time, flexible hours, and remote-friendly environments are all table stakes for a holistic work culture. Holistic technologies rely on the creativity and leadership of all parties involved—so they are especially sensitive to environments that engender fatigue. Too often, work cultures neglect the fact that workers have bodies, forgetting that food, exercise, and rest are design requirements.

In addition to long hours, push notifications arriving 24/7 and expectations that workers are “always on” are similarly dangerous. A lot of recent technology makes connecting with far-off colleagues trivial, but that’s both a boon and a responsibility. Team leaders have to set an example by promoting responsible time off policies and setting expectations that off time is off limits. Likewise, unlimited vacation policies are only a perk if workers make use of them.

Most importantly, the egalitarianism necessary for productive collaboration requires that we work to reduce the effects of structural discrimination—otherwise, not every team member will be able to contribute fully. We don’t—we cannot—live in a meritocracy, so habits and expectations that force workers to prioritize work over life silently privilege the young, healthy, wealthy, and childless. If we’re going to build diverse workplaces—and we’d better—then it’s critical that we support the whole life of every worker, regardless of the circumstances of their birth.

***

There’s one final point I’ll make about holistic technology: it need not be constrained to the work of making products, but can extend to the products themselves. Many of the products most in vogue today—Slack, GitHub, Trello, or any member of the somewhat misnamed category of content management systems—are themselves tools for collaboration. Which means those tools can also aspire to holistic processes, creating environments in which individuals can take control of their work rather than being controlled by it.

Franklin notes that the real danger of prescriptive technologies is that they lend themselves to a culture of compliance: that is, a prescriptive process teaches people that they must do things a certain way, and so instills in them habits of following the rules. She writes:
The acculturation to compliance and conformity has, in turn, accelerated the use of prescriptive technologies in administrative, government, and social services. The same development has diminished resistance to the programming of people. (19)

The programming of people. In other words, prescriptive technologies lend themselves towards systems and structures that treat people as automatons, diminishing both their talents and their humanity. If we want communities of creative people—that is, people who do not merely accept the way things have always been done but try to improve them—then we cannot afford to breed compliance, in either our workplaces or among our users. The Times expose of Amazon also notes, almost as an aside, that the inhumane culture extends all the way down to warehouse workers who are expected to operate under conditions better suited to robots. If we bristle at working under those kinds of conditions ourselves, what excuse have we for imposing them on others? Moreover, what makes us believe that the programming of people will be limited to those on the lower rungs?

We can’t hoard holistic processes for ourselves—we need to also imbue the tools and systems we create with those same principles. That is, we should encourage collaboration and documentation; anticipate needs for both synchronous and asynchronous workflows; create meaningful ways to denote time working and time away; and most importantly we should resist, at all costs, the temptation to build rigid, prescriptive processes that users must slavishly follow.

Holistic technologies represent better ways of working—and living. We should both enthusiastically adopt them and work to ensure they are the norm, not the exception."
mandybrown  work  collaboration  communication  diversity  2015  ursulafranklin  generalists  specialists  labor  technology  burnout  care  caring  productivity  autonomy  competition  documentation  process  transparency 
september 2015 by robertogreco
A Guide to Grounding Helicopter Parents
"Considering things like school websites, where parents can track grades, are schools actually enabling helicopter parents – and hurting students’ chances to be independent?

Because Lythcott-Haim’s book inspired Anna’s question, I thought she’d be a great person to field it. Some of her responses have been edited for length.

Lythcott-Haims: School leaders and teachers are in a really tough spot these days, particularly in communities where parents are used to doing a lot of hand-holding for their children and exerting influence. Still, I agree with Anna that yes, in many ways they’ve become enablers of overparenting behaviors and are inhibiting opportunities for kids to develop independence – such as the example of the principal setting the independence bar for his middle-schoolers absurdly low.

Middle-schoolers can handle things far more challenging than packing their own backpack. Take registration – reviewing the forms, signing them and turning them in. Middle-schoolers can handle that, and they probably should, particularly if we want them to be capable of handling it when they’re in high school, or college.

When my eldest began middle school, I caved to the overparenting mindset by filling out the forms and going to registration with him, which meant standing in long lines with hundreds of other parents doing the same. (The lines were so long, in part, because an excessive number of people were there instead of just the new middle-schoolers). When my second child was starting middle school two years later, I’d learned my lesson. She filled out the forms, asked me and her dad for signatures as needed and went off to registration by herself. The point is, life is full of bureaucracy and our kids have to learn to navigate it.

In terms of counteracting overparenting instead of enabling it, I’ve seen progress at the level of the individual teacher (who, for example, might announce at Back to School Night that parental involvement in homework is absolutely not allowed and a child’s grade will be docked a few points if there’s evidence of any such thing). But in my view, the bolder step would be adopting a school-wide and even district-wide philosophy that proclaims that part of getting an education is taking responsibility and being accountable for one’s own actions, and that as a result, parents doing things kids should be able to do for themselves is highly discouraged and might even be penalized (e.g. completing homework and projects, bringing homework and lunch to school, talking with teachers about the course material and concerns over grades).

MK: How do “parent portals” or school websites factor into over-parenting?

Lythcott-Haims: Parents obsessively checking the school website/portal isn’t good for the teacher, child or parent. Yes, the portal can deliver information quickly when we need it. The question we must ask ourselves as parents is, how frequently do we really need that information? Like the ability to track our children via GPS at all moments, just because the technology is there doesn’t mean we should use it all the time. …

Obsessively checking up on our kids’ performance means we then end up talking with our kids about their academic performance on a weekly or even daily basis – which sends a rather insidious message that their worth and value to us is based on grades – instead of what they’re learning and enjoying about school. Instead of building a relationship of trust with our kids where we’d expect them to inform us when they are struggling or need help, it erodes trust, raises anxiety and makes our kids feel that every single homework assignment or quiz is a “make or break” moment for their entire future.

As for me, I refuse to look at the online portal. I’m fine with a quarterly report. I expect my kids to update me as needed, and if they don’t, and it turns out there’s a greater consequence such as failing a class, I accept that that’s a part of childhood and something we’ll just have to work through when that time comes. To me, the developmental benefits to my kids that come from having greater autonomy, privacy and personal responsibility are more important than whatever short-term “win” I could achieve by trying to fix every micro-moment of imperfection."
parenting  helicopterparents  helicopterparenting  2015  mariokoran  children  schools  education  autonomy  independence  julielythcott-haims  responsibility  privacy 
september 2015 by robertogreco
The Problem With Grit - Learning Deeply - Education Week
"In recent years, Angela Duckworth's work around "grit" has been widely taken up in school reform circles as a way of thinking about building students "non-cognitive skills," which are presumably critical for later life success.

As with any concept that gains popularity, there have been detractors. The most prominent critique is that an emphasis on grit is a way of "blaming the victim"--rather than take up larger questions of social, economic, and racial justice, if only the most disadvantaged kids were a little "grittier" they could make it in life. I am sympathetic to this critique, but I also understand why schools and parents would want to focus on the variables they can control, and thus see building students' abilities to persevere and respond to adversity as critical in their success.

Today I want to raise a different sort of critique, one which has actionable consequences for schools that are interested in work around grit. And that is that a focus on grit is taking a heavily impoverished view of human motivation; in the long run, most people do not persevere at things because they are good at persevering, they persevere because they find things that are worth investing in. The implication for schools is that they should spend less time trying to boost students' grit, and more time trying to think about how their offerings could help students develop purpose and passion.

One good starting point for this discussion is Benjamin Bloom's 1985 book, Developing Talent in Young People. Bloom retrospectively studied people who by their early twenties had achieved considerable success in their fields--Carnegie Hall pianists, Olympic swimmers, among other fields. In a recent talk at Harvard, Duckworth cited this study as an example of the role of grit in producing exceptional practice. But the book actually tells a much more ecological story of how these people developed: the swimmers, for example, began by playing in the pool when they were little, then they became part of local swim clubs and swim teams, then somewhere between 8 and 12 their identities shifted from "I'm someone who swims" to "I'm a swimmer," then there was a long period of deliberate practice, a shift from local coaches to regional and eventual national coaches, and finally another period of play, this time at a much more sophisticated level.

You can see in this trajectory a mix of formal and informal learning, individual fortitude, and becoming part of a community of practice. And, for most of these folks, as is true for many who have become real experts in a domain, intrinsic motivation and identity as someone who cares about the domain is more important than sheer stick-to-it-iveness; and success and increasing mastery provides its own reward which in turn motivates more effort and engagement. Boiling that down to "grit" seems certainly reductionist and potentially highly misleading, in that the implications of the grit argument would be more about boosting perseverance, whereas the more holistic view would show how institutional environments can and should be shaped to create opportunities for growth and mastery.

Relatedly, if you spend a lot of time in classrooms, you will see why national surveys continue to report that 70 percent of high school students see themselves as bored or disengaged. Many classes are terribly unengaging places, with lots of worksheets and little connection to an authentic purpose. The places where many of these schools seem most alive are actually in their extracurriculars--in plays, musical performances, student newspapers--where students have the opportunity to connect to a real domain, where there are opportunities for repetition and practice, but where it is linked to an adult world that students want to emulate and join. The best disciplinary classes have the same characteristics--students are learning how to be historians, thinking like mathematicians, doing real world projects--but these are relatively few and far between. There are two ways to see this situation: 1) that students in most contemporary classes should increase their grit and perseverance; or 2) that many classes need to be made more interesting and engaging places that are more connected to authentic purposes. While some might subscribe to the eat-your-broccoli theory of school reform, I tend to think that, in the long run, schools will be more successful if they are places that students would actually want to attend.

While grit gets all the play in school reform circles, it is not actually the leading theory of motivation among psychologists. The most well-known scholarship on motivation is actually Edward Deci and Richard Ryan's "self-determination theory," which synthesized decades of research to argue that people are fundamentally seeking autonomy, competence, and relatedness, and that they thrive in environments that enable them to maximize these qualities. Research on (and experience with) adolescents also suggests that they are particularly developmentally primed to explore their individual identities (autonomy), take on roles where they can assume responsibility (competence), and have opportunities to connect and work with others (relatedness).

Most high schools are organized in ways that run directly against these needs: students are expected to sit passively, assimilate the thinking of others, work individually, and are rarely given opportunities to take significant responsibility either for others or for their own learning. Not surprisingly, some of the schools that are most known for "deeper learning" in the Hewlett Foundation networks and elsewhere feature heavy doses of project- or problem-based methods, stances that create opportunities for students to exercise autonomy, develop competence, and work within communities of practice.

One interesting wrinkle of self-determination theory is that it does not rely exclusively on intrinsic motivation. The theory acknowledges that as people set goals they are seeking to pursue, or work in fields in which they are developing competence and capacity, there will frequently be tasks that are not intrinsically enjoyable but are necessary as part of the larger goal. Thus to say that schooling needs to create more opportunities for authentic engagement and opportunities for students to grow towards mastery is not to deny the reality that there are some basic things to be learned and some portion of this learning will be tedious and dull. But the key, as was true for the practice of the Olympic swimmers or Carnegie Hall pianists, is that the learner is willing to accept this tradeoff as necessary for a larger objective which s/he does feel is worth achieving.

Pushing grit is the easy way out. It not only enables us to bypass harder conversations about structural inequalities, it also frees us from thinking harder about whether basic elements of the "grammar" of schooling need to be rethought. Young people show grit all the time - they pick themselves up after losses on the playing field, retake the stage after flubbing their lines, continue to search for love after having their hearts broken. What these experiences have in common is that there is something they are seeking, something that they are hoping to attain. Our goal should be to organize schooling in ways that similarly promote the kind of purpose and meaning that will sustain students' commitment when the going gets tough."
grit  jalmehta  2015  education  schools  angeladuckworth  benjaminbloom  perseverance  curriculum  fortitude  practice  motivation  psychology  mastery  growth  edwarddeci  richardryan  self-determination  self-determinationtheory  autonomy  competence  relatedness  responsibility  deschooling  unschooling  projectbasedlearning 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Alexandra Lange: Letter to LACMA
"Letter to LACMA

I’ve only been to LACMA one time. But this is what I did when I was there.

1. Took a photo (not a selfie) of Chris Burden’s Urban Light.
2. Signed up to see the James Turrell on an iPad at an outdoor kiosk.
3. Listened to the jazz band on the plaza.
4. Rode the escalator up and the elevator down inside what will soon be the old Broad.
5. Walked up and down the stairs and through Tony Smith’s Smoke.
6. Rapped on the enamel panels of the Art of Americas Wing.
7. Saw some art.

That motley list of movements and buildings and sights is, it seems to me, the essence of what LACMA is right now, a museum in many parts, a sum of choices, without hierarchy. A place where you can go in and you can go out at will, not when the architecture tells you to.

That’s an experience rare in large urban museums today, where the impulse always seems to be to agglomerate more real estate, connected indoors, around a central atrium or a central staircase. To go out you have to retrace your steps through long sequences of galleries, or pass to and fro past the store, café, coatcheck. There are many layers of architecture between you and the outside, however many slot-like windows the architect has inserted to tell you where you are. There’s a relentlessness to the arrangement that says, You should see it all, rather than, at LACMA, Why don’t you just pop in for a minute?

In fact, the only large museum I’ve been to that has a similar feeling, and was designed all at the same time, is Pedro Ramirez Vasquez’s Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. There, you can also go in and out easily, as each gallery has doors to its own garden as well as a central courtyard. A gap between two galleries becomes an outdoor display space, a level change leads to a shady café. You can skip stops, criss-cross, go up and down, sit by the fountain, and you always know where you are. The courtyard of the Anthropology Museum is shaded by a giant parasol, akin to OMA’s 2001 LACMA plan, which used a transparent roof to unite the parts without tearing so many of them down. [Ed. note: I realized last night I’ve had the details of this plan wrong in my mind for years, having reframed it as a greenhouse of the past and future.)

When I first read Peter Zumthor’s remarks about his plan for LACMA, it seemed like he got this. Liking small museums rather than large museums, creating a series of separate themed entrances to the collection, and pulling back the building to make room for outdoor activities, were all interpretations of the same motley path I followed. I thought the museum could create a tear-off ticket that would let you pay once and experience the museum over days or weeks, one leg at a time. But then I saw the blob or, I later decided to call it, the blot. It was still a giant totalizing figure, even though it looked different from the more mannerly toplit boxes elsewhere – even on other parts of the LACMA site. The fragmentary nature that seems part of LACMA’s DNA – it is #4 on the most Instagrammed museums list, even without a recognizable front door – seemed to disappear into the blackness. Would the LACMA selfie now include the museum as a dark cloud overhead?

Any architectural design has to win fans through suspension of disbelief. The model, the rendering, something has to make you believe that the architect can deliver the experience he or she has in mind. Zumthor’s LACMA hasn’t cleared that bar for me yet. We haven’t been given enough detail about how the parts would work together to knit together a possible experience, or even a good answer to the question: Why is this the best way to accomplish the museum’s goals? When it was a blot I wanted him to take the liquid metaphor further: A liquid should insinuate itself between solids (like the existing buildings) or soak in to the base layer, creating a new landscape. This did neither.

Nothing in his Zumthor’s previous museum work was similar enough to create a mental collage of how the blot might be to visit. The new version, released this week, comes a little closer to reality. What Zumthor seems to have done is embed galleries closer to his previous, petite museums in the inky form, eliminating many of the legs (too bad), and breaking it down into trapezoids as if to find a scale closer to his comfort zone. I’m worried about the circulation (once you go up, how to you get down, or outside?) and the underneath (is it like the underside of a highway?).

The ease of movement between inside and outside is gone once you raise it up on stilts to get over Wilshire Boulevard. And for an architect whose Swiss projects are embedded in the landscape, it seems strange to impose these flat black pancake floors around the galleries. Peter Zumthor is a critics’ darling because his buildings feel like special places and trust me, we’ve been to too many generic art spaces. What kind of place will this be?"
lacma  2015  alexandralange  museums  experience  peterzumthor  art  artmuseums  architecture  design  autonomy  hierarchy  control  choice  freedom  disbelief  architectire  fragmentation  losangeles 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Case for Free-Range Parenting - NYTimes.com
"BETHESDA, Md. — ON her first morning in America, last summer, my daughter went out to explore her new neighborhood — alone, without even telling my wife or me.

Of course we were worried; we had just moved from Berlin, and she was just 8. But when she came home, we realized we had no reason to panic. Beaming with pride, she told us and her older sister how she had discovered the little park around the corner, and had made friends with a few local dog owners. She had taken possession of her new environment, and was keen to teach us things we didn’t know.

When this story comes up in conversations with American friends, we are usually met with polite disbelief. Most are horrified by the idea that their children might roam around without adult supervision. In Berlin, where we lived in the center of town, our girls would ride the Metro on their own — a no-no in Washington. Or they’d go alone to the playground, or walk a mile to a piano lesson. Here in quiet and traffic-safe suburban Washington, they don’t even find other kids on the street to play with. On Halloween, when everybody was out to trick or treat, we were surprised by how many children actually lived here whom we had never seen.

A study by the University of California, Los Angeles, has found that American kids spend 90 percent of their leisure time at home, often in front of the TV or playing video games. Even when kids are physically active, they are watched closely by adults, either in school, at home, at afternoon activities or in the car, shuttling them from place to place.

Such narrowing of the child’s world has happened across the developed world. But Germany is generally much more accepting of letting children take some risks. To this German parent, it seems that America’s middle class has taken overprotective parenting to a new level, with the government acting as a super nanny.

Just take the case of 10-year-old Rafi and 6-year-old Dvora Meitiv, siblings in Silver Spring, Md., who were picked up in December by the police because their parents had dared to allow them to walk home from the park alone. For trying to make them more independent, their parents were found guilty by the state’s Child Protective Services of “unsubstantiated child neglect.” What had been the norm a generation ago, that kids would enjoy a measure of autonomy after school, is now seen as almost a crime.

Today’s parents enjoyed a completely different American childhood. Recently, researchers at the University of Virginia conducted interviews with 100 parents. “Nearly all respondents remember childhoods of nearly unlimited freedom, when they could ride bicycles and wander through woods, streets, parks, unmonitored by their parents,” writes Jeffrey Dill, one of the researchers.

But when it comes to their own children, the same respondents were terrified by the idea of giving them only a fraction of the freedom they once enjoyed. Many cited fear of abduction, even though crime rates have declined significantly. The most recent in-depth study found that, in 1999, only 115 children nationwide were victims of a “stereotypical kidnapping” by a stranger; the overwhelming majority were abducted by a family member. That same year, 2,931 children under 15 died as passengers in car accidents. Driving children around is statistically more dangerous than letting them roam freely.

Motor development suffers when most of a child’s leisure time is spent sitting at home instead of running outside. Emotional development suffers, too.

“We are depriving them of opportunities to learn how to take control of their own lives,” writes Peter Gray, a research professor at Boston College. He argues that this increases “the chance that they will suffer from anxiety, depression, and various other mental disorders,” which have gone up dramatically in recent decades. He sees risky, outside play of children among themselves without adult supervision as a way of learning to control strong emotions like anger and fear.

I am no psychologist like Professor Gray, but I know I won’t be around forever to protect my girls from the challenges life holds in store for them, so the earlier they develop the intellectual maturity to navigate the world, the better. And by giving kids more control over their lives, they learn to have more confidence in their own capabilities.

It is hard for parents to balance the desire to protect their children against the desire to make them more self-reliant. And every one of us has to decide for himself what level of risk he is ready to accept. But parents who prefer to keep their children always in sight and under their thumbs should consider what sort of trade-offs are involved in that choice.

At a minimum, parents who want to give their children more room to roam shouldn’t be penalized by an overprotective state. Cases like the Meitivs’ reinforce the idea that children are fragile objects to be protected at all times, and that parents who believe otherwise are irresponsible, if not criminally negligent.

Besides overriding our natural protective impulses in order to loosen the reins of our kids, my wife and I now also have to ponder the possibility of running afoul of the authorities. And we thought we had come to the land of the free."
clemenswergin  2015  parenting  children  autonomy  freedom  exploration  fear  safety  risktaking  helicopterparents  childhood  cities  petergray  self-reliance  independence  us  nannystate  freerangeparenting  helicopterparenting 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Knyttan and the question of design autonomy | Material World
"Although I found the project’s motivation to make production visible, to relate production to consumption even in an industrial context and to draw us back into the relational nature of clothing, I do not entirely agree with the way they promote their unique offering. While I did enjoy the playfulness of designing ‘my’ jumper, I remained nonetheless disappointed by the limits that had been set in terms of design and creativity. How could choosing from four pre-defined designs, a few pre-set colour combinations, fixed sizes as well as fiddling around on a tablet possibly fulfil the promise of ‘designing my own’? How could the design of someone else magically transform into my own by being given only a handful of altering options? The knitters I worked with in Austria would have quite a different view on what it means to design your own jumper.

Putting aside the fact that in the knyttan project design and making are necessarily divorced from each other, which would probably be the main difference between hand knitting and knyttan, we are dealing with two very diverging notions of design autonomy here. In the first case, designing is much more like customising, which means the pre-existing design will only be transformed to the extent that it is still recognisable as such. The original (professional) designer is still visible in the design, albeit some parameters of the design have been altered.

In the second case, designing (and making) means matching (relations of) relations between yarn, needles, pattern, cut and the knitting as well as the body that is destined to wear it. Always underpinned by intentions which are themselves grounded in social relations (cf. Gell 1998), design is an empathetic process which correlates the myriad possibilities of yarn weight, yarn quality, yarn colour, needle size, pattern (does it stretch or not?), cut (waisted or not?), knitting and wearing body to each other. In this case, designing your own pullover means relating needle-to-yarn-to-pattern-to cut-to-body and materialising these relations in practice. In doing so, the designs render the knitters, their skills and their preferences with respect to yarn quality and colour visible. Although knitters nowadays mostly draw on industrially produced yarn and colour ranges that are themselves constrained by the fashion industry, the possible combinations are unquestionably more diverse. The possibilities of harmonising one’s internal self and with its textile externalisation in the design and making processes are therefore equally manifold.

But then again, knyttan does not define itself within the framework of hand knitting, but within the conventional fashion industry. In that sense, one cannot criticise them for their limitations in relation to hand knitting, but one must instead acknowledge that their ambition is quite extraordinary within the context of the dominant fashion industry. Design autonomy, then, equally needs to be seen as relative to the context within which the concept is used. Whereas costumers who usually consume ready-made clothing will appreciate the chance to be granted a participation in the design process, in light of the limitedness of participation possibilities adept knitters might, however, regard it as a sham."
knyttan  via:anne  2015  lydiamariaarantes  haidygeismar  knitting  design  autonomy  textiles  fashion  participation  participatory 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Deep Culture: A New Way of Work — Work Futures — Medium
"I will be keynoting at the Social Now conference on 21 April 2015 in Amsterdam. The topic is the theme of the book I am writing, Deep Culture: A New Way of Work.
The future attitude to work is to question all assumptions, and only retain what works, what adds to the mix, and what opens options. This is why autonomy, purpose, and the regard of those you respect will become the first theorems of a new logic in business: not because it sounds good when trying to hire people, but because it works, and because the legacy, shallow culture left over from the last century has led to the highest levels of disengagement since we started to pay attention. — Stowe Boyd

I intend to explore a number of contradictions that define the new way of work emerging today, which I am calling deep culture. For example, deep work culture is based on embracing dissent, not slavishly pursuing consensus. It embraces widespread democracy, and rejects oligarchic control of the many by the few. Deep culture is based on distributed and emergent leadership, where any and all can step forward to lead when it makes sense, instead of leadership being limited to an elite caste of managers.

The changing nature of work is happening so fast and we are so close to it that we have a hard time seeing what’s different, or to abstract the new principles that underlie the new practices. I hope to tease some of those out, and to treat them as a new set of requirements for work technologies of the next five or so years."

[via: "So what do you think @stoweboyd’s deep culture of work mean for k12 edu https://medium.com/the-future-of-work-and-business/deep-culture-a-new-way-of-work-857da007d11f "
https://twitter.com/Braddo/status/574427438110797824

replied: “@Braddo @stoweboyd Great question. Maybe moving from ~Monopoly to ~Calvin Ball / Nomic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomic )? https://twitter.com/rogre/status/574283912878252032 * ”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/574434845050318848

*referencing: “often the case ☛ school : learning :: finite game: infinite game*

*defined: https://twitter.com/Bopuc/status/574279146727194626 …”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/574283912878252032

""A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play."
Finite & Infinite Games
Carse"
https://twitter.com/Bopuc/status/574279146727194626 ]
stoweboyd  work  autonomy  howwework  deepculture  change  2015  via:braddo  purpose  democracy  horizontality  dissent  consensus  control  leadership  emergent  management  administration  nomic  infinitegames  finitegames  jamescarse 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Web’s Grain by Frank Chimero
"We’re building edgeless environments of divergency. Things are added in chaos, then if successful, they expanded further and further out until they collapse and rearrange. This is probably why responsive design feels so relevant, maddening, and divisive: its patterns mimic the larger patterns of technology itself.

What we build is defined and controlled by its unresolvable conflicts. In responsive design, it’s the text and image conundrum I showed earlier. In other, more grand arenas, there is capital versus labor, or collective control versus anarchic individualism. In technology, I believe it comes down to the power dynamics of convenience. To create convenience—particularly the automated convenience technology trades in—someone else must make our choices for us.

In other words: the less you have to do, the less say you have.

Up to a point, swapping autonomy for ease is a pretty good trade: who wants run the math on their accounting books or call the restaurant to place a delivery order? But if taken too far, convenience becomes a Trojan Horse. We secede too much control and become dependent on something we can no longer steer. Platforms that promised to bring convenience to a process or intimacy to a relationship now wedge themselves into the transaction as new middlemen. Then, we’re left to trust in the benevolence of those who have the power to mold our dependencies. Citing a lot of the concerns I mentioned earlier, those people are less responsible and compassionate than we had hoped. In pursuit of convenience, we have opened the door to unscrupulous influence.

You could say that our current technological arrangement has spread out too far, and it is starting to look and feel wrong. Fortunately, we can treat this over-expansion just like everything else I’ve mentioned. We can draw a line, and create a point of reassembly for what we’ve made. We can think about how to shift, move, and resize the pieces so that they fall back in line with our intentions. This power is compounded for those of us who make this technology.

But this is not a technological response. It is an explicit act of will—an individual’s choice to change their behaviors about what to use, where to work, what to adopt, what to pay attention to. It is simple mindfulness, that thing which needy technology makes so hard to practice. And it starts with a question: what is technology’s role in your life? And what, really, do you want from it?

As for me? I won’t ask for peace, quiet, ease, magic or any other token that technology can’t provide—I’ve abandoned those empty promises. My wish is simple: I desire a technology of grace, one that lives well within its role.

How will we know that we’re there? I suppose we’ll look at what we’ve built, notice how the edges have dropped away, and actually be pleased it looks like it could go on forever."
frankchimero  davidhockney  joinery  web  webdev  internet  responsive  responsivedesign  design  technology  grace  clarity  simplicity  complexity  dependencies  edges  purpose  adaptability  divergency  thisandthat  convenience  autonomy  control  influence  responsivewebdesign  webdesign 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Make School a Democracy - NYTimes.com
"ARMENIA, Colombia — IN a one-room rural schoolhouse an hour’s drive from this city in a coffee-growing region of Colombia, 30 youngsters ages 5 to 13 are engrossed in study. In most schools, students sit in rows facing the teacher, who does most of the talking. But these students are grouped at tables, each corresponding to a grade level. The hum of conversation fills the room. After tackling an assignment on their own, the students review one another’s work. If a child is struggling, the others pitch in to help.

During my visit to one of these schools, second graders were writing short stories, and fifth graders were testing whether the color of light affects its brightness when seen through water. The teacher moved among the groups, leaning over shoulders, reading and commenting on their work. In one corner of the classroom were items, brought to school by the kids, that will be incorporated in their lessons. The students have planted a sizable garden, and the vegetables and fruits they raise are used as staples at mealtime, often prepared according to their parents’ recipes.

During the past four decades, this school — and thousands like it — have adopted what’s called the Escuela Nueva (New School) model.

A 1992 World Bank evaluation of Colombia’s schools concluded that poor youngsters educated this way — learning by doing, rather than being endlessly drilled for national exams — generally outperformed their better-off peers in traditional schools. A 2000 Unesco study found that, next to Cuba, Colombia did the best job in Latin America of educating children in rural areas, where most of the schools operate with this model. It was also the only country in which rural schools generally outperformed urban schools. Poor children in developing nations often drop out after a year or two because their families don’t see the relevance of the education they’re getting. These youngsters are more likely to stay in school than their counterparts in conventional schools.

Escuela Nueva is almost unknown in the United States, even though it has won numerous international awards — the hyper-energetic Vicky Colbert, who founded the program in 1975 and still runs it, received the first Clinton Global Citizenship prize. That should change, for this is how children — not just poor children — ought to be educated.

It’s boilerplate economics that universal education is the path to prosperity for developing nations; the Nobel-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz calls it “the global public good.” But while the number of primary school-age children not in class worldwide fell to 57.2 million in 2012 from 99.8 million in 2000, the quality of their education is another matter. Escuela Nueva offers a widely adaptable model, as Unesco has described it.

“Unesco reported the successful diffusion of Escuela Nueva in 20,000 Colombian schools with poorly trained teachers,” Ernesto Schiefelbein, rector of the Autonomous University of Chile, who has evaluated the program, told me. “As far as I know, there is no other example of massive educational improvement in a democratic developing country.”

Another Nobel-winning economist, Amartya Sen, posits that political repression impedes economic growth — that prosperity requires that social and economic well-being be tethered to democratic values. Escuela Nueva turns the schoolhouse into a laboratory for democracy. Rather than being run as a mini-dictatorship, with the principal as its unquestioned leader, the school operates as a self-governing community, where teachers, parents and students have a real say in how it is run. When teachers unfamiliar with this approach are assigned to these schools, it’s often the students themselves who teach them how to apply the method. “In these schools, citizenship isn’t abstract theory,” Ms. Colbert told me. “It’s daily practice.”

In the schools, students elected by their peers shoulder a host of responsibilities. In a school I visited in a poor neighborhood here in the city of Armenia, the student council meticulously planned a day set aside to promote peace; operated a radio station; and turned an empty classroom into a quiet space for reading and recharging. I was there last Halloween, when students put on a costume contest for their pets.

PARENTS become involved in the day-to-day life of these schools, and the educational philosophy influences their out-of-school lives. Research shows that the parents of Escuela Nueva students are less prone to use corporal punishment; more likely to let their youngsters spend time at play or on homework, rather than making them work when they’re not in school; and more likely, along with their children, to become engaged in their communities.

Decades ago, John Dewey, America’s foremost education philosopher, asserted that students learned best through experience and that democracy “cannot go forward unless the intelligence of the mass of people is educated to understand the social realities of their own time.” Escuela Nueva puts that belief into practice. I’ve witnessed the demise of many ballyhooed attempts to reform education on a mass scale. But I’ve tabled my jaded skepticism after visiting Escuela Nueva schools, reviewing the research and marveling at the sheer number of youngsters who, over 40 years, have been educated this way.

I’m convinced that the model can have a global impact on the lives of tens of millions of children — not just in the developing world but in the United States as well.

There’s solid evidence that American students do well when they are encouraged to think for themselves and expected to collaborate with one another. In a report last year, the American Institutes for Research concluded that students who attended so-called deeper learning high schools — which emphasize understanding, not just memorizing, academic content; applying that understanding to novel problems and situations; and developing interpersonal skills and self-control — recorded higher test scores, were more likely to enroll in college and were more adept at collaboration than their peers in conventional schools.

But these schools are far from the mainstream. “It’s really different and quite impressive,” David K. Cohen, an education professor at the University of Michigan, told me. “I know of no similar system in the U.S.”

Rachel Lotan, a professor emeritus at Stanford, added, “Doing well on the high-stakes test scores is what drives the public schools, and administrators fear that giving students more control of their own education will bring down those scores.” Officials, and those who set the policies they follow, would do well to visit Colombia, where Escuela Nueva has much to teach us about how best to educate our children."

[Update: a response post from Josie Holford:
http://www.josieholford.com/surprise/ ]
education  democracy  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  democraticeducation  colombia  2015  johndewey  testing  standardizedtesting  escuelanueva  davidkirp  vickycolbert  schools  ernestoschiefelbein  amartyasen  oppression  authority  autonomy  self-determination  economics  citizenship  josephstiglitz  josieholford 
march 2015 by robertogreco
What We Can Learn from Homeschooling - Hybrid Pedagogy
"I explain all of this not to suggest that homeschooling creates prodigies. It doesn’t, although some homeschoolers are advanced students. My daughter is a regular, bright kid who is flourishing because she has had the opportunity to follow a personal educational path with guidance and participation from the adults in her life. She has had the opportunity to work several grades ahead in her areas of strength and take her time with math, ultimately winding up ahead there, too. In addition, she has far more options for elective study. When I was in high school, I had to choose between orchestra and chorus. There wasn’t time for both. Using free or low-cost resources, my daughter has been able to pursue subjects that are important to her: art, music, computer programming, creating videos, writing novels, and reading — lots and lots of reading. She earns PE credit by taking karate classes, where she is always working towards the next goal of a tournament or belt test. Offering a selection of electives that aren’t necessarily offered by the school, and allowing students to choose several of them would either be impossible in or highly disruptive to the current system. Most kids in traditional school are riding atop an educational super tanker, huge, powerful, and slow to stop or change course, but because we can work outside that system, we’ve been able to speed around on a jet ski.

Let me clarify that I am not using personal learning to mean “personalized learning,” the theory advocating adaptive learning as a panacea for the efficiency problems seen in educating children. Education is a messy process. Like human history itself, it’s not linear but iterative, and we need to pay attention to where each child is on that somewhat unpredictable journey. I am an educational technology advocate who would agree that adaptive learning software is good (even fun) for learning certain things, and technology, used thoughtfully, is a tremendous tool in the hands of practiced educators. However, I would also assert that personal learning ultimately prioritizes human relationships, both faculty/student and students/peers. As in the case of my daughter’s math class, using telecommuting technologies may simply allow us to extend our network of faculty and peers beyond geographical constraints.

If we build this kind of flexibility with accountability into the curriculum, will teaching look different? Yes, and in many ways it will be more difficult. It will require working one on one with students in a very intense way. The hours may be longer, the scheduling different, and more will be expected in terms of collaboration, preparation, and continuing professional development. Finally, because such highly qualified professionals will require more compensation, they may be working with larger class sizes. That’s not ideal, just realistic. I suggest, though, that being an educator in this sort of environment will also be infinitely more rewarding. When educators become facilitators or even, as Chris Friend and Sean Michael Morris argue, “lab managers,” the student truly moves to the center of his or her own learning. If we prepare them, over time, to take control of that learning, then even when some require additional help, students are more likely to thrive."



"The University of Pennsylvania admissions page welcomes homeschooled applicants as “academically talented and often courageous pioneers who chart non-conventional academic paths.” The University of Arizona has a dedicated recruiter for homeschooled students, just as they do for each county in the state. MIT claims that they have long accepted homeschooled students, who become “successful and vibrant members of our community.” If the point of an education is to foster the kind of “intellectual vitality” noted by Reider in his search for Stanford University applicants, why wouldn’t we take what we’ve learned from homeschooling successes and apply it to the education of all our students? Forget iPads. Students need what homeschooling offers: autonomy, versatility, and freedom — in other words, jet skis."
melanieborrego  education  srg  edg  glvo  unschooling  deschooling  learning  colleges  universities  admissions  2015  chrisfriend  seanmichaelmorris  autonomy  homeschool  versitality  freedom  howwelearn  howweteach  messiness  relationships  personalization  personalizedlearning  personallearning  flexibility  johnholt  stanford  ucriverside  mit  penn  leifnelson  finland 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Listening for Student Voices - Hybrid Pedagogy
"If we decide that our classrooms are places where trying happens, then we transform them into laboratories; and in a laboratory, with happy people of varying skill sets working side by side, anyone can make a discovery. As lab managers, then, we do not approach our work as “I’ve solved this problem, let’s see if you can too” but as, “here’s a problem with many possible solutions.” Everyone is invited to try, allowed to fail, encouraged to succeed. Our job becomes making sure that all the appropriate equipment is available for success to occur."



"Teachers should not be gatekeepers for student voices, and once we suppose we are, we miss half the conversation. When teachers serve as gatekeepers, when we tell students explicitly what they should learn for our courses, when we establish requirements or procedures for their learning, we aren’t functioning as teachers; we aren’t allowing students to engage in genuine, self-directed, natural learning. We are instead being scriptwriters. The more elaborate direction, specific instruction, and constraining requirements we provide, the less our students rely on themselves to think and learn. They work to adopt our mindset, to decipher and satisfy our expectations, and to gain our knowledge and experience, rather than using their own curiosity and their own experimentation to risk learning something new… and we stifle learning. Instead, we need to be in the business of manufacturing opportunities.

Classrooms murmur. They hum and buzz — with experimentation, with discoveries at all scales. Underneath the lectures, slideshows, and exams, voices rustle. These are the voices of students, learners of all shapes and variety, online and on-ground, higher ed and K-12, formal and lifelong. These voices don’t talk just of course materials and content. They talk about what is taught, and how, and about what and how they want to learn. They talk about the things that matter to them. Students have plenty to say about learning, about the failings of higher education, about their own futures and careers. If we think they’re only concerned with life outside of school, we’re mistaken; learners have a deeper investment in our teaching than we do."
education  teaching  lcproject  tcsnmy  openstudioproject  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  chrisfriend  seanmichaelmorris  2013  pedagogy  school  paulofreire  studentvoice  autonomy  experimentation 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Just Asking - The Atlantic
"Are some things still worth dying for? Is the American idea1 one such thing? Are you up for a thought experiment? What if we chose to regard the 2,973 innocents killed in the atrocities of 9/11 not as victims but as democratic martyrs, “sacrifices on the altar of freedom”?2 In other words, what if we decided that a certain baseline vulnerability to terrorism is part of the price of the American idea? And, thus, that ours is a generation of Americans called to make great sacrifices in order to preserve our democratic way of life—sacrifices not just of our soldiers and money but of our personal safety and comfort?

"The key to the John Ziegler Show," says the angry, outraged, and apocalyptically gleeful talk-radio host John Ziegler, "is that I am almost completely real." A report from deep inside the mercenary world of take-no-prisoners political talk radio.
In still other words, what if we chose to accept the fact that every few years, despite all reasonable precautions, some hundreds or thousands of us may die in the sort of ghastly terrorist attack that a democratic republic cannot 100-percent protect itself from without subverting the very principles that make it worth protecting?

Is this thought experiment monstrous? Would it be monstrous to refer to the 40,000-plus domestic highway deaths we accept each year because the mobility and autonomy of the car are evidently worth that high price? Is monstrousness why no serious public figure now will speak of the delusory trade-off of liberty for safety that Ben Franklin warned about more than 200 years ago? What exactly has changed between Franklin’s time and ours? Why now can we not have a serious national conversation about sacrifice, the inevitability of sacrifice—either of (a) some portion of safety or (b) some portion of the rights and protections that make the American idea so incalculably precious?

In the absence of such a conversation, can we trust our elected leaders to value and protect the American idea as they act to secure the homeland? What are the effects on the American idea of Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, PATRIOT Acts I and II, warrantless surveillance, Executive Order 13233, corporate contractors performing military functions, the Military Commissions Act, NSPD 51, etc., etc.? Assume for a moment that some of these measures really have helped make our persons and property safer—are they worth it? Where and when was the public debate on whether they’re worth it? Was there no such debate because we’re not capable of having or demanding one? Why not? Have we actually become so selfish and scared that we don’t even want to consider whether some things trump safety? What kind of future does that augur?

FOOTNOTES:
1. Given the strict Gramm-Rudmanesque space limit here, let's just please all agree that we generally know what this term connotes—an open society, consent of the governed, enumerated powers, Federalist 10, pluralism, due process, transparency ... the whole democratic roil.

2. (This phrase is Lincoln's, more or less)"
freedom  culture  terrorism  davidfosterwallace  2007  democracy  sacrifice  safety  mobility  autonomy  comfort  personalsafety  via:robinsonmeyer  johnziegler  risk 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Occupy Your Brain: On Power, Knowledge, and the Re-Occupation of Common Sense
[also here: http://carolblack.org/occupy-your-brain/ ]

"Once learning is institutionalized under a central authority, both freedom for the individual and respect for the local are radically curtailed. The child in a classroom generally finds herself in a situation where she may not move, speak, laugh, sing, eat, drink, read, think her own thoughts, or even  use the toilet without explicit permission from an authority figure.  Family and community are sidelined, their knowledge now seen as inferior to the school curriculum. The teacher has control over the child,  the school district has control over the teacher, the state has control over the district, and increasingly, systems of national standards and funding create national control over states. In what should be considered a chilling development, there are murmurings of the idea of creating global standards for education – in other words, the creation of a single centralized authority dictating what every child on the planet must learn.

The problem with this scenario should be obvious:  who gets to decide what the world’s children will learn?  Who decides how and when and where they will learn it? Who controls what’s on the test, or when it will be given, or how its results will be used? And just as important, who decides what children will not learn? The hierarchies of educational authority are theoretically justified by the superior “expertise” of those at the top of the institutional pyramid, which qualifies them to dictate these things to the rest of us.  But who gets to choose the experts? And crucially, who profits from it?"



"And what could we create, what ecological problems could we solve, what despair might we alleviate, if instead of imposing our rigid curriculum and the destructive economy it serves on the entire world, we embraced as part of our vast collective intelligence the wisdom and knowledge of the world’s thousands of sustainable indigenous cultures? If the internet is the collective intelligence of human beings connecting across the dimension of digital space, then indigenous wisdom is the collective intelligence of human beings connecting across the dimension of time. Every ecosystem in the world at one time had a people who knew it with the knowledge that only comes with thousands of years of living in place. A tribal person in New Guinea can still identify 70 species of birds by their songs; a shaman in the Amazon can identify hundreds of species of plants and which preparations will enhance their chemical potency in the human body; a traditional Polynesian navigator can detect an island miles beyond the horizon by a pattern in the waves and the behavior of birds. This kind of knowledge seems almost supernatural to a modern person stumbling noisily through the forest; but it’s not supernatural. It is human intelligence honed over millennia, through unimaginably vast numbers of individual observations, experiments, reflections, intuitions, refinements of art and experience and communication. It is the indigenous equivalent of a spacecraft sent to Mars; it is human intelligence shaped and perfected and then shot like an arrow, like a ray of light, deep into the heart of nature."
carolblack  education  unschooling  deschooling  centralization  decentralization  curriculum  power  control  policy  authority  colonization  hierarchy  autonomy  testing  standardization  local  freedom  globalization  knowledge  diversity  sustainability  indigeneity  colonialism 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Ai Weiwei is Living in Our Future — Medium
'Living under permanent surveillance and what that means for our freedom'



"Put a collar with a GPS chip around your dog’s neck and from that moment onwards you will be able to follow your dog on an online map and get a notification on your phone whenever your dog is outside a certain area. You want to take good care of your dog, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the collar also functions as a fitness tracker. Now you can set your dog goals and check out graphs with trend lines. It is as Bruce Sterling says: “You are Fluffy’s Zuckerberg”.

What we are doing to our pets, we are also doing to our children.

The ‘Amber Alert’, for example, is incredibly similar to the Pet Tracker. Its users are very happy: “It’s comforting to look at the app and know everyone is where they are supposed to be!” and “The ability to pull out my phone and instantly monitor my son’s location, takes child safety to a whole new level.” In case you were wondering, it is ‘School Ready’ with a silent mode for educational settings.

Then there is ‘The Canary Project’ which focuses on American teens with a driver’s license. If your child is calling somebody, texting or tweeting behind the wheel, you will be instantly notified. You will also get a notification if your child is speeding or is outside the agreed-on territory.

If your child is ignoring your calls and doesn’t reply to your texts, you can use the ‘Ignore no more’ app. It will lock your child’s phone until they call you back. This clearly shows that most surveillance is about control. Control is the reason why we take pleasure in surveilling ourselves more and more.

I won’t go into the ‘Quantified Self’ movement and our tendency to put an endless amount of sensors on our body attempting to get “self knowlegde through numbers”. As we have already taken the next step towards control: algorithmic punishment if we don’t stick to our promises or reach our own goals."



"Normally his self-measured productivity would average around 40%, but with Kara next to him, his productiviy shot upward to 98%. So what do you do with that lesson? You create a wristband that shocks you whenever you fail to keep to your own plan. The wristband integrates well, of course, with other apps in your “productivity ecosystem”."



"On Kickstarter the makers of the ‘Blink’ camera tried to crowdfund 200.000 dollars for their invention. They received over one millions dollars instead. The camera is completely wireless, has a battery that lasts a year and streams HD video straight to your phone."



"I would love to speak about the problems of gentrification in San Francisco, or about a culture where nobody thinks you are crazy when you utter the sentence “Don’t touch me, I’ll fucking sue you” or about the fact this Google Glass user apparently wasn’t ashamed enough about this interaction to not post this video online. But I am going to talk about two other things: the first-person perspective and the illusionary symmetry of the Google Glass.

First the perspective from which this video was filmed. When I saw the video for the first time I was completely fascinated by her own hand which can be seen a few times and at some point flips the bird."



"The American Civil Liberties Union (also known as the ACLU) released a report late last year listing the advantages and disadvantages of bodycams. The privacy concerns of the people who will be filmed voluntarily or involuntarily and of the police officers themselves (remember Ai Weiwei’s guards who were continually watched) are weighed against the impact bodycams might have in combatting arbitrary police violence."



"A short while ago I noticed that you didn’t have to type in book texts anymore when filling in a reCAPTCHA. Nowadays you type in house numbers helping Google, without them asking you, to further digitize the physical world."



"This is the implicit view on humanity that the the big tech monopolies have: an extremely cheap source of labour which can be brought to a high level of productivity through the smart use of machines. To really understand how this works we need to take a short detour to the gambling machines in Las Vegas."



"Taleb has written one of the most important books of this century. It is called ‘Anti-fragile: Things That Gain from Disorder’ and it explores how you should act in a world that is becoming increasingly volatile. According to him, we have allowed efficiency thinking to optimize our world to such an extent that we have lost the flexibility and slack that is necessary for dealing with failure. This is why we can no longer handle any form of risk.

Paradoxically this leads to more repression and a less safe environment. Taleb illustrates this with an analogy about a child which is raised by its parents in a completely sterile environment having a perfect life without any hard times. That child will likely grow up with many allergies and will not be able to navigate the real world.

We need failure to be able to learn, we need inefficiency to be able to recover from mistakes, we have to take risks to make progress and so it is imperative to find a way to celebrate imperfection.

We can only keep some form of true freedom if we manage to do that. If we don’t, we will become cogs in the machines. I want to finish with a quote from Ai Weiwei:
“Freedom is a pretty strange thing. Once you’ve experienced it, it remains in your heart, and no one can take it away. Then, as an individual, you can be more powerful than a whole country.”
"
aiweiwei  surveillance  privacy  china  hansdezwart  2014  google  maps  mapping  freedom  quantification  tracking  technology  disney  disneyland  bigdog  police  lawenforcement  magicbands  pets  monitoring  pettracker  parenting  teens  youth  mobile  phones  cellphones  amberalert  canaryproject  autonomy  ignorenomore  craiglist  productivity  pavlok  pavlov  garyshteyngart  grindr  inder  bangwithfriends  daveeggers  transparency  thecircle  literature  books  dystopia  lifelogging  blink  narrative  flone  drones  quadcopters  cameras  kevinkelly  davidbrin  googleglass  sarahslocum  aclu  ferguson  michaelbrown  bodycams  cctv  captcha  recaptcha  labor  sousveillance  robots  humans  capitalism  natashadowschüll  design  facebook  amazon  addiction  nassimtaleb  repression  safety  society  howwelearn  learning  imperfection  humanism  disorder  control  power  efficiency  inefficiency  gambling  lasvegas  doom  quantifiedself  measurement  canon  children 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Meta is Murder - Mills Baker's Internet Haus of Cards
"There’s enormous and increasing pressure on humans to achieve reach in their ideas, designs, morals, and policies. Despite having evolved in small groups with small-group habits of cognition and emotion, we now live in a global group and must coordinate hugely complex societies. The problems we face are problems at scale. Thus: reach is mandatory. A taxation, software design, or criminal justice solution that cannot be deployed at scale isn’t useful to us anymore; indeed, even opinions must scale up. For personal, political, governmental, commercial, literary, expediency-oriented, and many other reasons, we must have solutions that work for more human (H) units / instances, and H is always increasing (even as every sub-member of H is determined to be respected according to her or his unpredictable inimitability, range of action, moral agency, autonomy, freedom, etc.).

This pressure often inclines people to accept induction- or correlation-based models or ideas, which are inaccurate to varyingly significant degrees, in lieu of explanatory models. That is: in many situations, we’ll accept aggregates, groups, central plans, reductions, otherings, dehumanizations, short-hand-symbols, and so on because (1) they serve our ends, sometimes without any costs or (2) we have nothing else. In order to have explanations with reach in areas where we have no models, we commit philosophical fraud: we transact with elements and dynamics we cannot predict or understand and we hope for the best (better, it seems, than admitting that “I don’t know”). How we talk about speculative models, reductive schema, and plural entities —peoples, companies, generations, professions, events even— reveals a lot about how much we care for epistemological accuracy. And not caring about it is a kind of brutality; it means we don’t care what happens to the lives inaccurately described, not captured by our model, not helped by our policies, unaided by our designs, not included in our normative plan.

In politics, design, art, philosophy, and even ordinary daily thinking, being consciously aware of this tension, and of the pressure to exchange accuracy for reach, is as important as recognizing the difference between “guessing” and “knowing.” Otherwise, one is likely to adopt ideas with reach without recognizing the increased risk of inaccuracy that comes with it. One will be tempted to ignore the risk even if one knows it, tempted by how nice it is to have tidy conceptions of good and evil, friend and foe, progress and failure.

Reach is innately personally pleasing in part because it privileges the knower, whose single thought describes thousands or millions of people, whose simple position circumscribes civilization’s evolution, the history of religion, the nature of economics, the meaning of life. Exceptions be damned! But in general, if an idea has significant reach, it must be backed by an explanatory model or it will either be too vague or too inaccurate to be useful. And if it’s a political or moral idea, the innocent exceptions will be damned along with the guilty. Hence the immorality of reduction, othering, and inaccurate ideas whose reach makes them popular."
millsbaker  internet  scale  small  2014  politics  design  technology  reach  accuracy  knowing  guessing  induction  correlation  economics  globalization  dehumanization  othering  centralization  systems  systemsthinking  autonomy  freedom  agency  inimitability  notknowing  caring  progress  epistemology  thinking 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Seven ways schools kill the love of reading in kids — and 4 principles to help restore it - The Washington Post
"1. Quantify their reading assignments. …

2. Make them write reports. …

3. Isolate them. …

4. Focus on skills. …

5. Offer them incentives. …

6. Prepare them for tests. …

7. Restrict their choices. …

***

At this point, I’ll abandon the somewhat labored conceit of showing you how to kill interest and instead try to suggest, in more straightforward fashion, some ways to think about how students can play a more active role in their own learning. My assumption is that if you’ve read this far, you’d probably like to support their desire to learn and read.

First, then, a few general principles:

1. Supporting their autonomy isn’t just about having them pick this over that. …

2. Autonomy can be supported — and choices can be made – collectively. …

3. It’s not all or nothing. Teachers who favor a traditional approach to teaching sometimes offer a caricature of an autonomy-supportive classroom – one devoid of intellectual challenge where kids do whatever they feel like – in order to rationalize rejecting this model. But autonomy support not only doesn’t exclude structure, as Keith Grove reminds us; it also doesn’t rule out active teacher involvement. That involvement can be direct, such as when teacher and students negotiate a mutually acceptable due date for an essay. (Instead of “You folks choose,” it may be “Let’s figure this out together.”) Or the involvement can be indirect, with the teacher setting up broad themes for the course and students making decisions within those parameters. But that doesn’t mean we should be prepared to share power with students only about relatively minor issues. It may make sense to start with that and then challenge ourselves to involve them in thinking about bigger questions as you (and they) become more comfortable with a democratic classroom.

4. “See above.” The half-dozen suggestions for killing interest in reading in the first part of this essay don’t become irrelevant just because students are given more authority to direct their learning, individually and collectively. For example, rewards are still counterproductive even if kids get to choose what goodie they’ll get. And there’s reason to worry if a language arts course is focused mostly on narrowly defined facts and skills even if students are permitted to make decisions about the details. (As one of Bianca’s suitors observes in The Taming of the Shrew, “There’s small choice in rotten apples.”) Even autonomy support in its richest sense works best in the context of a course that’s pedagogically valuable in other ways – and avoids various familiar but counterproductive practices.

***

Finally, here are a few specific suggestions for bringing students in on making decisions, offered here in the hope that they will spark you to think of others in the same spirit:

* Let students sample a work of literature, then generate their own questions and discussion topics – for themselves and one another.

* Before having students help each other to revise their writing, invite them to brainstorm possible questions they might ask about its construction and its impact on the reader (rather than having them simply apply your editing guidelines or, worse, evaluating the writing against a prefabricated rubric[13]).

* Have students think together about ideas for the papers they’ll write, then follow up once the writing is underway by inviting each student to ask the group for suggestions. Encourage discussion about the rationale for, and usefulness of, each idea that emerges in order to promote reflection that may well benefit everyone.

* When you’re planning to respond to their journals or other writings, begin by asking students – individually and as a class – what kinds of responses would be most helpful to them. (Wouldn’t you prefer that administrators proceed that way when offering feedback on your teaching?)

* Let students choose the audience for whom they’re writing, as well as the genre in which they respond to something they’ve read (e.g., play, op-ed, speech).

* Check in periodically with students during class meetings about how the course is going for them, whether the decision-making process seems to be working, whether the climate is conducive to learning. Ask what might make discussions and assignments more productive and satisfying – but only if you’re really open to making changes based on what they tell you.

* Bring students in on the process of assessment by asking them to join you in thinking about alternatives to conventional tests. “How can you show me what you understood, where you still need help, and what I may need to rethink about how I taught the unit?” Beyond the format of the assessment, invite them as a class to suggest criteria by which someone’s work might be evaluated – and, later, have them apply those criteria to what they’ve done.

* Remember that group decision making doesn’t require voting, which is basically just adversarial majoritarianism. Help them to acquire the skills and disposition to reach for a deeper kind of democracy, one in which compromises are generated and consensus is reached."
alfiekohn  2014  reading  incentives  motivation  children  howwelearn  learning  choice  freedom  testing  standards  standardization  autonomy  teaching  howweteach  control 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 16: Fission-Fusion Society
"FEARLESS ASYMMETRY: Earlier this week, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Paul Graham wrote a short piece on about how successful people aren't mean, which—well, that’s surely a question of perspective. My daily commute to work takes me through a four-way stop in the affluent Boston suburb of Wellesley, so this is probably my favourite piece of research contradicting Graham's assertion. He also talked about how famous thinkers weren't ruthless, which I find an especially interesting example. Historically, one of the best things about academia, when it works well, is that it allows people to be intrinsically motivated [vid]: it provides them with sufficient income, security, and autonomy, as well as meaningful work—basically, it’s an environment where there is relatively little incentive to be mean. But it’s also worth noting that the idea of what constitutes ‘mean’ has changed appreciably over time, particularly in terms of how you treat people who are not like you: I recently re-read parts of Richard Feynman’s autobiography and some of his behaviour towards women, largely unremarkable at the time, is appalling by current standards.

But Graham and I do agree on the disutility of competition, which I cordially despise. I hate how it’s considered to be a motivating force, especially in education. I once asked ten STEM educators, from four continents, if they were motivated by competition themselves. Only two people said they were, both men. It’s possible that women are socialized to dislike competition, but it’s probably more an awareness of implicit bias, that most competitions they were likely to participate in were effectively rigged.

Apart from being an ineffective motivator for all but a few, my significant issue with competition is that it’s inefficient. By definition, in a competition, you are doing the same thing as other people. An enormous amount of effort is poured into leveling that playing field to absolutely ensure that everyone is doing the same thing. My issue with competitive spectator sports isn't that it’s pointless (it’s play; play is, by definition, pointless). It’s that it normalizes the idea that this ‘doing the same thing, only better’, should be valorized. By contrast, art is not fungible or directly comparable. This is why “It’s an honour to be nominated” is a cliché—being recognized for one’s work is lovely, but the concept of ‘winning’ at art is bolted on. Every comparison between works of art (painting, novels, and so on) is an apples-to-oranges comparison, not a level playing field. In casual conversation at a conference, a faculty member at another institution described himself to me as 'competitive', and I told him that I wasn't—that I was more interested in using the resources available to me to do new things, rather than doing the same thing as everyone else, only better (it's why I joined the faculty of a new college, where this is explicitly part of its mission). But that means I mostly do things that I am uniquely positioned or qualified to do, and—aside from that being a much more efficient use of my personal resources—it turns out that if you’re creating new playing fields, you are in a good position to convince other people (like funding agencies) that you know how to play on them. While Graham highlights how successful people like to create entirely new domains (hello, Apple), the impetus for doing so, at least in business, is usually to monopolize them (why hello again, Apple) rather than to open them up for other people to use. If your goal is to protect that new turf, having sharp elbows and sharper lawyers is certainly an advantage. By contrast, thinkers are often considered successful when they are influential—that is, precisely because they open up new spaces for others to explore.

Finally, I dislike competition because life is too short for zero-sum games. I've been thinking recently about the often-asymmetric nature of asking for favours. It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I got my driver's license and a car, which means I’m aware of the frequently quite significant difference in cost (in time more than money, but often both) between getting a ride somewhere and not. Offering someone a ride is often a positive-sum exchange: the cost to me of driving them is far less than the cost to them of making their own way. But it’s more than that: asking for and granting favours, even positive-sum favours, is an act of trust, and it helps to cement social bonds, in part because it’s not a one-to-one exchange of goods. Graham writes that, "For most of history, success meant control of scarce resources...That is changing." as if it were a natural progression with time, like stars leaving the main sequence. But to the extent that resources are non-scarce, and that positive-sum games are possible (and these characteristics are by no means uniformly distributed, even within the United States), it's a result of people--'successful' and otherwise--choosing to create a society where that's the case. The ability to be successful without being mean follows directly from this."
debchachra  2014  competition  paulgraham  motivation  economics  society  trust  winning  success  behavior  money  wealth  stem  gender  autonomy  income  security  academia  favors 
december 2014 by robertogreco
“But the overall inertia and immune system of “education” is very strong, and if we were to disappear tomorrow, I’m not sure anything would be different than it would have been 100 years from now.” – Alec Resnick, USA | Daily Edventures
"Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?

My English teacher, Mrs. Long, in high school, had the wisdom to lean into all my obsessions and interests, regardless of the curriculum, treating me like a peer. She loaded me up with books outside of the class, indulged my passion for words despite the way they made my papers unreadable, and more than anything, left me with a sense of learning being a lifelong, intellectual project in which I could participate. This all sounds trite—the stuff of commencement speeches—but I cannot overstate how formative the relationship was, far and above the curricula or books she shared."



"How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

I’ll quote Papert: “In many schools today, the phrase ‘computer-aided instruction’ means making the computer teach the child. One might say the computer is being used to program the child. In my vision, the child programs the computer and, in doing so, both acquires a sense of mastery over a piece of the most modern and powerful technology and establishes an intimate contact with some of the deepest ideas from science, from mathematics, and from the art of intellectual model building.” At their best, our programs do this.

In your opinion, how has the use of apps, cellphones, and mobile devices changed education? And your work?
Education? They’re distracting people from structural issues with the design of school and curricula by introducing an unfortunate technocentrism. Our work? They’ve enabled a totally novel class of computationally driven, hands-on experiences and experimentation focused on modeling and representation.

In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?

The expansion of “education” to include many efforts, stakeholders, and approaches that exist outside of “school”—not just in the sense of “afterschool” or “informal learning,” but in an institutional sense.

Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?

All the skills I’m passionate about were valuable in all the other centuries, too.

If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

Initially I considered snarkier answers like, “An adult who cares and intervenes in their lives regularly to expose them to a world full of interesting phenomenon.” But more to your point: A [laptop or tablet][DT1] , preloaded with Scratch, LOGO, XCode, and a carefully curated set of textbooks and videos like Turtle Geometry (and maybe a collection of texts intended to radicalize a bit, like Lies My Teacher Told Me or John Holt’s How Children Fail). Why? Because I think that powerful tools without an agenda that enable authentically interesting work are more valuable than most realize. To quote Ivan Illich,
"People need not only to obtain things, they need above all the freedom to make things among which they can live, to give shape to them according to their own tastes, and to put them to use in caring for and about others. Prisoners in rich countries often have access to more things and services than members of their families, but they have no say in how things are to be made and cannot decide what to do with them.”

What is your region doing well currently to support education?

My favorite initiative of late is Massachussetts’ Innovation School legislation; its focus on aggressively seeding and supporting sandboxes where fundamentally new models can be designed is awfully exciting.

What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

Resisting the variety of organizational and cultural forces which push you to do things to students, or maybe for them, but very rarely with them. This can look like anything from putting “the curriculum” ahead of real depth, uncomfortable conversations with parents about the [ir]relevance of the quadratic equation, liability policies which prohibit physical contact with students, etc.

How can teachers or school leaders facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

Guard and expand your autonomy jealously and aggressively. Advocate for policies which encourage planting many seeds and trying out many approaches to see what works, rather than attempting to plan for or optimize The One Way. Leverage parents’ actual interests and concerns, rather than trying to satisfy bureaucratic incentives. Start a school. Start a not-school. Take a Hippocratic Oath. Read Mindstorms and take it seriously.

How have you incorporated mobile devices/apps into your classroom and have you seen any improvements?

Our programs’ focus on computation, modeling, and representation means apps (and programming tools, broadly) figure prominently into participants’ experiences. The capacity for these tools to offer hands-on, constructionist approaches to traditionally academic subjects is incredible; however, overall I’d have to say that the technocentrism/technoutopianism in the ed tech community really narrows the conversation to the extent that it limits discussions of technology to, “How can technology help us do what we’ve always done, better?” instead of, “What are the new activities and approaches technology enables?” "
alecresnick  via:ablerism  2014  sprout&co  somerville  massachusetts  schools  education  informallearning  making  science  learning  howwelearn  constructivism  michaelnagle  shaunalynnduffy  somervillesteamacademy  seymourpapert  mindstorms  ivanillich  teaching  howweteach  pedagogy  technology  johnholt  scratch  logo  xcode  turtlegeometry  relationships  freedom  autonomy  agency  unschooling  deschooling  steam  inquiry  sprout 
november 2014 by robertogreco
BBC - Blogs - Adam Curtis - HAPPIDROME - Part One
"In the battle for Kobane on the Syrian border everyone talks about the enemy - IS - and the frightening ideas that drive them. No-one talks about the Kurdish defenders and what inspires them.

But the moment you look into what the Kurds are fighting for - what you discover is absolutely fascinating. They have a vision of creating a completely new kind of society that is based on the ideas of a forgotten American revolutionary thinker.

He wanted to create a future world in which there would be no hierarchies, no systems that exercise power and control individuals. And the Kurds in Kobane are trying to build a model of that world.

It means that the battle we are watching night after night is not just between good and evil. It is also a struggle of an optimistic vision of the future against a dark conservative idea drawn from the past.

It is a struggle that may also have great relevance to us in the west. Because the revolutionary ideas that have inspired the Kurds also shine a powerful light on the system of power in Britain today. They argue that we in the west are controlled by a new kind of hierarchical power that we don’t fully see or understand.

There are two men at the heart of this story.

One is the American revolutionary thinker. He is called Murray Bookchin. Here is a picture of Bookchin looking revolutionary.

The other man is called Abdullah Ocalan. He is the leader of the Kurdish revolutionary group in Turkey - the PKK

Here he is in 1999 after he had been captured by Turkish security forces and was on his way to a jail on a tiny island in the Sea of Marmara where he would be the only prisoner.

In his solitude he would start to read the theories of Murray Bookchin and decide they were the template for a future world.

Both men began as hardline marxists.

Murray Bookchin was born in New York in 1921. In the 1930s he joined the American Communist Party. But after the second world war he began to question the whole theory that underpinned revolutionary marxism.

What changed everything for him was the experience of working in a factory. Bookchin had gone to work for General Motors - and he realized as he watched his fellow workers that Marx, Lenin and all the other theorists were wrong about the working class.

The Marxist theory said that once working men and women came together in factories the scales would fall from their eyes - and they would see clearly how they were being oppressed. They would also see how they could bond together to become a powerful force that would overthrow the capitalists.

Bookchin saw that the very opposite was happening. This was because the factory was organised as a hierarchy - a system of organisation and control that the workers lived with and experienced every second of the day. As they did so, that hierarchical system became firmly embedded in their minds - and made them more passive and more accepting of their oppression.

But Bookchin didn’t do what most disillusioned American Marxists in the 1950s did - either run away to academia, or become a cynical neo-conservative. Instead he remained an optimist and decided to completely rework revolutionary theory.

Here is Bookchin in 1983 talking about how his thinking became transformed - and how his factory experiences led him towards anarchism. It’s part of a fantastic film called Anarchism in America - as well as Bookchin it’s got a great bit with Jello Biafra, and it’s really worth watching if you can get hold of it.

[video]



Watching these sections of the film does make you think that what is being described is spookily close to the system we live in today. And that maybe we have misunderstood what really has emerged to run society since the 1980s.

The accepted version is that the neo-liberal right and the free market triumphed. But maybe the truth is that what we have today is far closer to a system managed by a technocratic elite who have no real interest in politics - but rather in creating a system of rewards that both keeps us passive and happy - and also makes that elite a lot of money.

That in the mid 1980s the new networks of computers which allowed everyone to borrow money came together with lifestyle consumerism to create a system of social management very close to Skinner’s vision.

Just like in the mental hospital we are all given fake money in the form of credit - that we can then use to get rewards, which keep us happy and passive. Those same technologies that feed us the fake money can also be used to monitor us in extraordinary detail. And that information is then used used to nudge us gently towards the right rewards and the right behaviours - and in extremis we can be cut off from the rewards.

The only problem with that system is that the pigeons may be getting restless. That not only has the system not worked properly since the financial crash of 2008, but that the growing inequalities it creates are also becoming a bit too obvious. The elite is overdoing it and - passive or not - the masses are starting to notice.

Which makes the alternative - the vision put forward by Lewis Mumford in the film, and which inspired Murray Bookchin - and the Kurds, seem more interesting as an alternative.

Here is Mumford from the film. He starts by criticising the managed utopia - how it turns people into sleepwalkers. He has a great quote:

“You reward them. You make people do exactly what you want with some form of sugar-coated drug or candy which will make them think they are actually enjoying every moment of it.

This is the most dangerous of all systems of compulsion. That’s why I regard Skinner’s utopia as another name for Hell. And it would be a worse hell because we wouldn’t realise we were there.

We would imagine we were still in Heaven.”

Mumford then goes on to describe eloquently the alternative, a system of direct democracy where we would all awake and become genuinely empowered - able to take part properly in deciding our destiny.

It is a powerful and optimistic vision of a new kind of progressive politics. But it has one very serious problem.

It means we would have to spend a lot of time going to meetings."
anarchism  2014  kurds  iraq  kobane  isis  murraybookchin  abdullahocalan  labor  marxism  hierarchy  hierarchies  horizontality  anarchy  oppression  revolution  optimism  jellobiafra  capital  capitalism  wagelabor  work  power  control  bfskinner  economics  domination  exploitation  gender  socialism  liberation  lewismumford  utopia  politics  oligarchy  neoliberalism  elitism  conditioning  compulsion  autonomy  behaviorism  hermankahn  hudsoninstitute  technocrats  1983  technocracy 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The Last of the Monsters with Iron Teeth | Carcinisation
"In all species, the play of the young is practice for the essential survival tasks of the adults. Human children play at many things, but the most important is the play of culture. Out of sight of adults, children learn and practice the rhymes, rituals, and institutions of their own culture, distinct from that of adults.

The Western child today is mostly kept inside his own home, associating with other children only in highly structured, adult-supervised settings such as school and sports teams. It was not always so. Throughout history, bands of children gathered and roamed city streets and countrysides, forming their own societies each with its own customs, legal rules and procedures, parodies, politics, beliefs, and art. With their rhymes, songs, and symbols, they created and elaborated the meaning of their local landscape and culture, practicing for the adult work of the same nature. We are left with only remnants and echoes of a once-magnificent network of children’s cultures, capable of impressive feats of coordination.

Iona and Peter Opie conducted an immense study of the children’s cultures of the British Isles. The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (1959) is comparable in richness to Walter Evans-Wenz’ The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries (1911) on the fairy faiths, or to Alan Lomax’ collections of American and European folk music.

These children of the recent past observed what the Opies call a “code of oral legislation” – cultural institutions for testing truthfulness, swearing affirmation, making bets and bargains, and determining the ownership of property – the adult legal code in miniature. These codes universally included a subject absent from adult law, however – that of asking for respite, what we recognize as “calling time out,” and what today’s children reportedly call “pause,” a usage imported from video games.

They had call-and-response shibboleths and rhymes about Mickey Mouse and Shirley Temple, but they also performed the rites of a calendar full of ancient meaning. In the northern countryside, they wore oak apples or oak leaves in their buttonholes on May 29 to commemorate the escape of Charles II – on pain of being whipped with nettles by other children. In the south, however, the children spent October preparing bonfires and making elaborate “guys” – effigies for burning on Guy Fawkes Day.

These children’s cultures recognized the existence of terrible monsters, and they were able to organize against these threats. In 1954, “hundreds of children in the Gorbals district of Glasgow were reported to have stormed a local cemetery, hunting for a ‘vampire with iron teeth.’ According to press reports at the time, they said that the vampire had ‘killed and eaten two wee boys.'” (Sandy Hobbs and David Cornwell, “Hunting the Monster with Iron Teeth,” in Perspectives on Contemporary Legend Vol. III, 1988). This incident was one of at least eight “hunts,” documented in newspaper articles and interviews, from the 1930s and continuing until the 1980s. Hundreds, or in one case thousands, of children participated in monster hunts that often lasted several nights – militias called up not just against the vampire with iron teeth, but also against such characters as Springheeled Jack, an unnamed banshee, and ghosts known as the “White Lady” and the “Grey Lady.” Adults in 1954 blamed horror movies and horror comics for the vampire hunt (much as video games would be blamed today), but Hobbs and Cornwell trace the children’s adversary back much further. Nineteenth-century parents (and perhaps generations before them) had threatened their misbehaving children with the fearsome Kinderschreck known as “Jenny wi’ the airn teeth,” and her characteristic dentition is displayed by ancient bogeymen from Yorkshire (Tom Dockin) to Russia (Baba Yaga).

In order to develop and express their culture and achieve such feats of coordination, children require time and space apart from adult supervision. In the West today, outside of tiny pockets, this independence is almost exclusively the prerogative of poor children surrounded by crumbling cultures that lack the will to monitor and protect them. Groups of these children still attempt organization and armed resistance (Act Two, “Your Name Written On Me”) to protect themselves from ubiquitous violence when adults refuse to do so.

Outside of pockets of extreme deprivation, children’s society is severely restricted by our practice of placing children under the equivalent of house arrest. In only three generations, children in the British Isles as well as the United States have lost their freedom to roam, their independently explorable territories shrinking from hundreds of acres to the dimensions of each child’s own back yard. This is not an accusation toward parents; their decisions reflect their judgments about their children’s safety in the world. Specifically, parents judge that there is no community beyond their doors that they can rely on to keep their children safe. Christopher Alexander’s Pattern 57: Children in the City (A Pattern Language) states that “If children are not able to explore the whole of the adult world around them, they cannot become adults. But modern cities are so dangerous that children cannot be allowed to explore them freely.” Unfortunately, this has become the case not just in large cities, but in small towns and even rural areas.

As a result, children’s society has less and less to do with the land around them – land which, anyway, they are unlikely to occupy when they become adults in our hypermobile society. Children’s society exists on the internet if at all, with raids in video games and chat rooms replacing geographically colocated monster hunts. (This is increasingly the case with adult society as well, which also lacks architectural and geographic support.) It should be noted that the internet is not the cause of these problems. Rather, the internet is the precarious reservation onto which culture has been driven, bleak and uncanny, inhuman in scale. And even the internet is increasingly monitored and reshaped by the same malignant tiling system that drove culture here in the first place. What will happen to culture when even this frontier is closed?

The failure of adult culture, both its physical architecture and its social institutions, has impoverished children’s culture. And in return, children no longer avidly train, in their play, to take over the burden of preserving and remaking adult culture. Somewhere a child alone in his room, wearing headphones, is fighting Jenny wi the airn teeth, a computer-controlled enemy in a video game. But perhaps at least it is a multiplayer game, and he has his fellows with him."
children  freedom  2014  unschooling  parenting  learning  autonomy  childhood  1959  ionaopie  peteropie  trust  culture  feer  chrisalexander  apatternlanguage  deprivation  society  housearrest  howwelearn  education  thechildinthecity  canon  internet  online  web  videogames  games  gaming  geography  place  frontier  safety  lindabarry  decentralization  schools 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Pirates and Prodigals on Vimeo
"A conversation between Kester Brewin, Peter Rollins, and Barry Taylor on the tragedy of the pirate and prodigal son archetypes and what this means for the future church. The discussion drew from ideas presented in Kester Brewin’s latest book, Mutiny! Why We Love Pirates, and How They Can Save Us.

The Berry Center for Lifelong Learning and The Inititive for the Church and Contemprary Culture, Fuller Theologcial Seminary

Wednesday, October 24, 2012"
pirates  theology  christianity  religion  belief  2012  radicaltheology  kesterbrewin  peterrollins  barrytaylor  courage  brokenness  honesty  responsibility  otherness  humanism  empathy  perspective  understanding  life  living  death  piracy  slavery  freedom  autonomy  independence  god  liberation  prodigalson  unbelief  decay  zombies 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Children Who Never Play | Michael J. Lewis | First Things
"Students in my history of architecture course are amused to discover that the final exam offers a choice of questions. Some are bone dry (“discuss the development of the monumental staircase from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century, citing examples”) and others deliberately open-ended (“General Meade overslept at Gettysburg and the South has won the Civil War; you are commissioner for the new national capital and must tell us which architects you will choose and what instructions you will give them.”) In offering this whimsical range of options, I do nothing original; my own professors at Haverford College did much the same in their day.

But a peculiar thing has happened. When I began teaching twenty-five years ago, almost all students would answer the imaginative question but year in, year out, their numbers dwindled, until almost all now take the dry and dutiful one. Baffled, I tried varying the questions but still the pattern held: Given the choice, each successive cohort preferred to recite tangible facts rather than to arrange them in a speculative and potentially risky structure. In other respects, today’s students are stronger than their predecessors; they are conspicuously more socialized, more personally obliging, and considerably more self-disciplined. To teach them is a joy, but they will risk nothing, not even for one facetious question on a minor exam.

I am hardly the only one to notice the risk-avoidance. William Deresiewicz gave a harrowing account of the problem in a widely noted New Republic essay with the incendiary title “Don’t Send Your Kids to the Ivy League.”
So extreme are the admission standards now that kids who manage to get into elite colleges have, by definition, never experienced anything but success. The prospect of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them. The cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential. The result is a violent aversion to risk. You have no margin for error, so you avoid the possibility that you will ever make an error.
Deresiewicz’s analysis begins with the college admissions process itself but says little about the habits and behavior patterns that these students acquired on the way to college, in early childhood. For some reason, my students were viewing playful questions as inherently risky, as if by collective instinct. Was it possible that they never learned to play in the first place?


Now if one goes by the strict dictionary definition of play as “to occupy oneself in amusement,” these young men and women have played a great deal indeed. But while thirty minutes in front of television or atop the elliptical trainer may be recreation or entertainment, it is not play. Certainly not that special kind of play that is the gleeful anarchy of children left to their own devices. This summer a woman was arrested in South Carolina on the charge of letting her nine-year-old daughter play unsupervised, something incomprehensible to those born in the 1950s or 1960s. For us, unsupervised play constituted the entirety of our childhood. Launched from the house and banished till mealtime, we roamed our allotted territory, from this house to that driveway, and not a step farther (fifty years later the electric charge of those invisible barriers still tingles). Each year the boundaries would expand, but even in the nutshell of six front yards, the child was a king of infinite space, with room aplenty for tag, hide and go seek, or relieveo.

In the last generation this sort of free and unsupervised play lost ground, along with those institutions that sustained it: platoon-sized families, stay-at-home moms, and multiple “eyes on the street.” Its place has been taken by the play date, negotiated in advance with the kind of deliberation required by the marriage of a Hapsburg and a Tudor. No longer the posse of shrieking kids, hurtling around the block, but instead the purposefully organized activities of contemporary childhood: tee-ball and soccer camp, swim class and 5k runs—the interstices filled with the distractions of the DVD and Nintendo 3DS.

For children who know only supervised play, there is no conflict that is not resolved by an adult. One never learns to negotiate and resolve conflicts with one’s peers. This was not always an amiable or tear-free process; playground justice was just as harsh and swift as medieval justice. But it was justice, and even that most brutal aspect of playground life in the 1960s, the afterschool fistfight, was regulated by the standing circle of classmates who yelled out encouragement or insults, and who stopped the proceedings when it went too far. In all of this was a restless testing of the limits of freedom, with little feints and modest rebellions. These often ended unhappily, especially when the offending instrument was a stick, stone, or pack of matches, but here were those first lessons in overstepping the bounds that seem essential for the development of an individual conscience.

More and more, parents feel obliged to steer their children toward those activities that might have a future payoff, already thinking ahead to that harrowing ivy league gauntlet that Deresiewicz describes. Such is the instrumental view, play as a means to an end and not an end in itself. But as any cultivator of plants knows, to promote one trait can cause others inadvertently to atrophy. One thinks of the modern tomato, indestructible yet flavorless, or the modern rose, exquisite and almost completely devoid of scent. And the process of producing the well-socialized, well-tempered contemporary child has inadvertently blunted some of those qualities that can only be acquired, as it were, when no one is looking. Chief of these is initiative—the capacity to size up a situation and take quick decisive action. Only those children who play under minimal supervision—“free range kids” in the happy phrase of Lenore Skenazy—get the chance to develop this sense of dash or pluck. They do this in the process of deciding what to play, establishing the rules, choosing sides, and resolving the inevitable dispute. In short, by acting as miniature citizens with autonomy rather than as passive subjects to be directed.

There is an extraordinary scene in Abel Gance’s 1927 silent classic Napoléon, which shows the future emperor as a ten-year-old schoolboy. Persecuted by older boys, Napoléon organizes an epic snowball fight and leads his small group to victory over a much larger party. In all of cinema there is no more spirited depiction of childhood play, and the moment of joyous discovery of skills and capabilities—in this case independent leadership—that will form the indispensable toolkit of the adult to follow."
2014  via:ayjay  michaeljlewis  williamderesiewicz  autonomy  creativity  play  imagination  conformity  unstructured  lenoreskenazy  risk  risktaking  innovation  behavior  freedom  childhood  parenting  education  schools  schooliness  schooling  highered  highereducation 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The Irony of the Overprotected Child | Family Studies
"There’s an irony in parents’ flawed perceptions, and their very real consequences: at the same time parents significantly limit the freedom and autonomy of their kids, they also want their kids to “think for themselves” and be independent. The same parents that won’t let their child out of their sight want her to be independent, make her own decisions, and think for herself. Parents value autonomy and independence, but they’re reluctant and frightened to give much of it.

It’s not that parents are unaware of this contradiction. They observe a “real culture for overprotecting kids,” as one mother put it, and many weren’t entirely comfortable with it, but most felt powerless to do anything about it.

Parents are bothered by the changing nature of childhood—they feel it was “better” to have more freedom and independence; they think their children are missing out on important formative experiences. But very few parents can even imagine giving their own children that freedom. Ironically, parents today both lament a world gone by and actively participate in the construction of a new world of constant monitoring and control."
parenting  children  helicopterparents  2014  jeffreydill  autonomy  fear  safety  irony  helicopterparenting 
august 2014 by robertogreco
How we teach the arts is as important as the fact we're doing it | Zurich School Competition | Guardian Professional
"I think we should be cautious about the claims we make for the arts in education. We need to make sure that how we do the art is as important as the fact that we're doing it. After all, it's quite possible to do arts in education in ways which, say, undermine children. For instance, it's quite possible to be authoritarian and dictatorial while doing the arts – and more often than not this will teach children that they should just obey orders or that the arts are about being bossy or snooty.

For practitioners of all kinds, I've sketched out a checklist, as much for myself as others, to keep in mind how best to ensure that arts in education is worthwhile for all.

Children and young people involved in the arts should:

1) have a sense of ownership and control in the process;

2) have a sense of possibility, transformation and change – that the process is not closed with pre-planned outcomes;

3) feel safe in the process, and know that no matter what they do, they will not be exposed to ridicule, relentless testing, or the fear of being wrong;

4) feel the process can be individual, co-operative or both;

5) feel there is a flow between the arts, that they are not boxed off from each other;

6) feel they are working in an environment that welcomes their home cultures, backgrounds, heritages and languages;

7) feel that what they are making or doing matters – that the activity has status within the school and beyond;

8) be encouraged and enabled to find audiences for their work;

9) be exposed to the best practice and the best practitioners possible;

10) be encouraged to think of the arts as including or involving investigation, invention, discovery, play and co-operation and to think that these happen within the actual doing, but also in the talk, commentary and critical dialogue that goes on around the activity itself.

As young people work, they will find their minds, bodies and materials changing. As agents of that change, they will inevitably change themselves. They will find out things about themselves as individuals – where they come from, how they co-exist with people and places around them – and they will pick up (or create) clues about where they are heading. They will also find new ways to talk about the arts. Demystifying them, if you like.

I believe that if we set out the stall for the arts in this way, we won't find ourselves trying to advocate a particular art form – say, painting – for what are deemed to be its intrinsic civilising qualities. Instead, we will be calling for a set of humane and democratic educational practices for which the arts provide an amenable home."
art  arts  arteducation  pedagogy  curriculum  teaching  howweteach  michaelrosen  2014  investigation  invention  discovery  play  cooperation  freedom  autonomy  ownership  process  control  education 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The Problem with “Personalization”
"What are the repercussions of radically “personalizing” education through computers? What do we gain? What do we lose?

There’s a very powerful strain of American individualism — and California exceptionalism — that permeates technology: an emphasis on personal responsibility, self-management, autonomy. All that sounds great when and if you frame new technologies in terms of self-directed learning.

But how do we reconcile that individualism with the social and political and community development that schools are also supposed to support? How do we address these strains of individualism and increasingly libertarianism as they permeate the classroom?

What do we do about the communal goals of education, for example — to produce good citizens, if nothing else — if we become maniacally focused on personal goals of education instead? What happens to meaningful moments to collaborate? What happens to discussion? What happens to debate? What happens to the idea that we must work through ideas together — not just in the classroom, but as part of our work and civic responsibilities?

And who gets the “personalized” education delivered through them via adaptive technology? And who gets the “personalization” that we hope a student-centered, progressive education would offer?

This image from a PBS documentary about Rocketship Education haunts me.

The chain of charter schools boasts personalization — “Rocketship uses the most adaptive and personalized programs available, and continues to push Silicon Valley vendors and others to create even more adaptive learning tools,” its website boasts.

So the problem with personalization via adaptive software isn’t simply that “it doesn’t work.” It’s that it might work — work to obliterate meaningful and powerful opportunities for civics, for connection, for community. Work to obliterate agency for students. And work not so much to accelerate learning, but to accelerate educational inequalities."

[Accompanies: "What Should School Leaders Know About Adaptive Learning?" https://modernlearners.com/what-should-school-leaders-know-about-adaptive-learning/ ]

[See also: http://thesprouts.org/blog/rendering-learners-legible ]
rocketshipschools  audreywatters  education  personalization  bigdata  legibility  autonomy  personallearning  learning  schools  policy  adaptivelearningtechnology  data  datacollection  adaptivelearning  adaptivetechnology 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Homeschooling and Finnish education :: Zengestrom
"Sahlberg’s reader will conclude that a great school is small, led by highly educated teachers who are free to do things their way, has short days and issues little homework. It relies on parents and other people who help the children learn to read early. When a child has difficulty learning something – which happens to many at some point – they get help from a specialized teacher without being stigmatized. Plus, everybody there benefits from well-designed spaces and good food.

To Sahlberg the key challenge now is personal media. Because children spend so much time on their screens, teachers find they are harder to reach. They read fewer books on their own and their learning is out of synch with their peers. Hence, more effort is required from teachers to engage each individual student. But schools are getting larger and as the kids get older, they become even less engaged and more dissatisfied. They no longer see any reason to be in class. They use their devices to access information and to communicate.

Sahlberg’s answer, which he calls the Big Dream, is school as a safe community where children are free to pursue their interests, learn more diverse things, and discover their unique talents. In the future he paints, classroom-based teaching gives way to customized, activity-based learning:
Rather than continue thinking of future schooling in terms of subjects and time allocations to them, the time is right now to make a bold move and rethink the organization of time in schools. This would mean having less time allocated to conventional subjects, such as mother tongue, mathematics, and science, and more time for integrated themes, projects, and activities.

He continues:
This would also mean a shift from common curriculum-baed teaching to individual learning-plan-based education. This would lead to extended time for all students to spend engaged in personally meaningful workshops, projects, and the arts.

Sounds a lot like homeschooling."

[Also posted here: http://sesatschool.blogspot.com/2013/12/can-homeschoolers-learn-from-finlands.html ]
yrizenhestrom  finland  education  homeschool  unschooling  schools  schooling  policy  small  pasisahlberg  2013  teaching  learning  autonomy  literacy  equality  children 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Reciprocal Needs in the Employment Relation
* Reciprocal Needs in the Employment Relation

We can look at two sides of the management coin: What do the individuals get out of it? And what benefit does the whole system derive from it?

I will disregard any benefits that accrue to managers just by holding the position of managing. Those are just circular logic. Circular logic abounds in discussions of management and hierarchy. For example, consider status reports. It will be said that status reports are necessary so managers know what their employees are working on. It's circular because it treats the existence of hierarchic management as axiomatic, then demands an interaction to serve that hierarchy. In other words, I will not consider interactions that only exist to serve the structure itself.

Let's look first at the needs that an individual has as an employee. From "Drive" we see that an individual is motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose\cite{Pink09}. Over the long-term, these positive motivators have the greatest effect. However, they do require security and trust. A developer working on a big, change-the-world project still can't be motivated if they fear layoffs will be coming next month.

Over the short term, an individual also needs to avoid the demotivators. A bad fit in workload, autonomy, rewards, fairness, community, or values\cite{Masl97} will outweigh long-term positives by about three to one.\cite{Amab11}

I will frame these needs in the form of questions to which an individual would like to have answers.

1. "What should I be working on now?"
1. "Do I know how to do it?"
1. "Can I work in a way that I enjoy?"
1. "Am I good at what I do?"
1. "Does my work mean anything?"
1. "Can I get my work done in time?"
1. "Can I get the resources I need to do the work? (Training,
equipment, assistance.)"
1. "Am I making enough money?"
1. "Am I being treated fairly, compared to my peers in the company?"
1. "Am I being treated fairly, compared to my peers in the rest of the
industry?"
1. "How do I fit in here?"
1. "Does anybody care about me?"
1. "Does anybody care about my work?"
1. "Do I agree with my colleagues about the right ways to work, act,
and interact?"
1. "Where am I going?"
1. "Can I get there from here?"

With each of these needs, they are not met by "the company", because "the company" is not a corporeal entity: it cannot talk, think, act, or feel. Rather, each of these needs can be met by interactions with other members of the company. By the same token, if a need goes unmet, it is unmet because some important interaction is not handled.

Some questions also address relations among people. These are not questions a person would ask about themselves, but rather questions a person would ask about how to affect other people in their company:

1. "How can I deliver a hard message to X?"
1. "I believe that X is not meeting their commitments. How can I get that fixed?"
1. "How do I ensure I never work with X again?"
1. "I know that X is creating legal or financial problems. What should I do?"

We will turn now to the reciprocal side of the employment relationship, which is the needs of the system as a whole.

In order to keep functioning, the system has to be able to deal with certain issues. When I say "the system", of course I mean that the individuals in the system need a way to arrive at collectively acceptable decisions and implement those decisions.[fn::Although John Gall would disagree with me. In his view the system has ends of its
own, namely those which cause the system itself to grow.] Unfortunately, there will always be some systemic needs that are not unanimously popular. For example, you can't ask for 100% decision about the need to terminate someone's employment. It may be necessary for the company, and even good for the majority of the people, but it won't be a unanimous decision. Other decisions may involve changing the character of the system by hiring people in new skill sets or service areas or exiting service areas that many of us enjoy.

These system mechanisms can't be expressed as personal questions, since there is no "I" to voice them. I'll write these as declarations of systemic needs. In order to function and scale, the system needs mechanisms to:

1. Limit expenditures to within available resources.
1. Ensure that all needed tasks get done, not just the fun ones.
1. Incorporate new people as the company grows.
1. Correct problems that could disrupt the system.
1. Reposition within the market.
1. Converge on cultural and community standards."
via:sha  reciprocity  employment  management  relationships  motivation  hierarchy  administration  leadership  autonomy  mastery  danielpink  purpose  security  trust  care  belonging  systems  systemsthinking 
april 2014 by robertogreco
March 26, 2014 : The Daily Papert
"Many reformers have tried to jigger the school system, to improve it by making small changes in the hope that it would eventually be transformed into a new modern, well functioning system. But I think these reforms are victims of the same illusion that beset Gorbachev in the early days of Perestroika. Reforming School requires more than jiggering. Here too we have to call into question the underlying, structuring ideas. But what are the structuring ideas of school?

A relatively easy step towards an answer is to note that what is wrong with our schools is not very different from what is wrong with the soviet economy–both suffer from rampant centralism. In fact, if we ask what aspect of American life is most like the Soviet economic system, it might well turn out that education is the closest parallel.

But it is easy to criticize bureaucracy superficially. It’s harder to realize that, in both cases our schools and the Soviet economy–the bureaucratic organization reflects underlying “structuring” ideas. I believe that a critique of bureaucracy can only be effective if it proceeds on this basis. Otherwise it cannot intelligently guide reform that will be more than jiggering. Gorbachev’s Perestroika started as jiggering but was forced to move quickly toward calling in question the fundamental ideas of Soviet society, among them its deep commitment to a centrally planned economy.

Does the parallel between the central plan and our school’s concept of curriculum need more explanation? In one case, a central authority decides what products will be manufactured in 5-year plans; in the other, it decides what children will learn in a 12-year plan: two-digit addition this year, three-digit addition next year, and so on. It is in the nature of this centralized planning that teachers be cast in the role of technicians whose job is to implement the plan. The very nature of a curriculum requires subordinating individual initiative to the Great Plan. Schools can see no way to make it work other than by exactly the methods and principles that have now been discredited in the Soviet system. All over the world, more and more people are recognizing that these principles do not work in economics. I think that more and more people are also beginning to see that they will not work in education either. These principles fail in the two cases ultimately for exactly the same reason: They hamper individual initiative, and deprive the system of the flexibility to adapt to local situations."

Papert. S. (1990, July). Perestroika and Epistemological Politics [http://stager.tv/blog/?p=928 ]. Speech presented at the World Conference on Computers in Education. Sydney, Australia.
seymourpapert  1990  bureaucracy  education  standardization  curriculum  centralization  standards  pedagogy  autonomy  learning  schoolreform  change  tcsnmy  cv  hierarchy  hierarchies  control  planning 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Artistic autonomy and subsumption – The New Inquiry
"Under neoliberalism, the ability to enjoy or make art can seem like a consolation prize for entrepreneurial subjectivity, the best modality of that sort of subjectivity rather than a respite from it. Enjoying and making art, in some ways, become more and more the same experience of curation in internet-based art — the value of an individual work becomes hard to differentiate from the value of being able to circulate it meaningfully and make its value augment itself through greater exposure. The “prosumer” mentality comes to govern aesthetics and autonomy, as autonomy is experienced in ersatz freedom to consume what you want and well, and to make what you want of yourself through those appropriative gestures. (Appropriative art being a kind of production that is necessarily marked by tasteful and clever consumption.)

But looking at this from the perspective of people who are  somehow supposed to be artists outside of capitalism is wrong. It’s not that artists are artists, then capitalism corrupts them. Its that capitalism sets up a situation where people with certain means can experience themselves as artists and try to move away from more determined-seeming modes of subjectivity within capitalism. The “artists” have the wherewithal and the habitus to try to distance themselves from wage drudgery and meaningless work and declare themselves autonomous — but within capitalism. It’s a measure of capitalism’s continued success and expansion that more and more people feel confident in describing themselves as creative, as artists. The neoliberalist turn hinges precisely on this, that more and more people can imagine themselves artists — in part because ordinary consumption has become a mode of personal expression, in part because capital has placed various forms of audience-building media at nearly every nonimpoverished individual’s disposal, in part because every scrap of one’s life gets turned to account as reputation, as human capital. We get an audience for our creative autonomy in action, a scenario which depends on (is subsumed by) the apparatus of communicative capitalism. If we are being “creative” without an audience, it no longer registers as an expression of autonomy; social media has crowded out the space in which an individual could be content to create without spectators. Now that is simply a failure of nerve, not independence — it’s too easy to circulate one’s gestures of creativity to rest easy in obscurity."



"Social media use is arguably a masochistic practice that dissolves the self while simultaneously building it out as data/capital for media companies and marketers. (I spell out the masochism part here.) This empties the self phenomenologically, leaving a blankness that engages with the various interfaces. But this process feeds data into the networks’ algorithms which can then restore the self to the social media user as a processed good — a substantiated identity that is objective,a reflection of achieved reputation, achieved human capital. Once again, this resolves some of the pressure of neoliberal subjectivity while sustaining it as an essential form. The self is reported back to us as a jackpot of algorithmically synthesized personal “truths” — and these payoffs keep us somewhat mindlessly engaged with social media. The urgency of self-production as capital switches into a consumer experience of the produced self passively as pleasurable product and then switches back again into insecure search for confirmation through the production of more data in the same form — more updates, more Tweets, etc. to produce the desired feedback of a constituted identity. I will post these notes, and sit back awaiting confirmation of my reality."
robhorning  economics  capitalism  neoliberalism  art  making  creativity  2014  autonomy  usbsumption  humancapital  self  identity  socialmedia  labor 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Finnish Education Chief: 'We Created a School System Based on Equality' - Christine Gross-Loh - The Atlantic
"We used to have a system which was really unequal. My parents never had a real possibility to study and have a higher education. We decided in the 1960s that we would provide a free quality education to all. Even universities are free of charge. Equal means that we support everyone and we’re not going to waste anyone’s skills. We don’t know what our kids will turn out like—we can’t know if one first-grader will become a famous composer, or another a famous scientist. Regardless of a person’s gender, background, or social welfare status, everyone should have an equal chance to make the most of their skills. It’s important because we are raising the potential of the entire human capital in Finland. Even if we don’t have oil or minerals or any other natural resources, well, we think human capital is also a valuable resource."



"We created a school system based on equality to make sure we can develop everyone’s potential. Now we can see how well it’s been working. Last year the OECD tested adults from 24 countries measuring the skill levels of adults aged 16-65, on a survey called the PIAAC (Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies), which tests skills in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments. Finland scored at or near the top on all measures. But there were differences between age groups. The test showed that all younger Finns who had had a chance to go to compulsory basic school after the reforms had extremely high knowledge; those who were older, and who were educated before the reforms, had average know-how. So, our educational system is creating people who have extremely good skills and strong know-how—a know-how which is created by investing into education. We have small class sizes and everyone is put in the same class, but we support struggling students more than others, because those individuals need more help. This helps us to be able to make sure we can use/develop everyone’s skills and potential."



"Academics isn’t all kids need. Kids need so much more. School should be where we teach the meaning of life; where kids learn they are needed; where they can learn community skills. We like to think that school is also important for developing a good self-image, a strong sensitivity to other people’s feelings … and understanding it matters to take care of others. We definitely want to incorporate all those things in education.

I also believe that breaking up the school day with different school subjects is very important. We offer a variety of subjects during the school day. We’re also testing out what it’s like to have breaks in the middle of the school day for elementary school students. At a few elementary schools recently we’ve been offering sports, handcrafts, or school clubs during the middle of the school day, rather than just in the morning or after school as we already do. This is to help kids to think of something else, and do something different and more creative during the day. "
finland  education  schools  poverty  professionaldevelopment  2014  kristakiuru  vocationaltraining  arts  autonomy  teaching  learning  policy  equality  equity  publicschools  howwelearn  howweteach 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The Fall of Collaboration, The Rise of Cooperation
"Time to Retire Collaboration

The term "collaboration" has been so stretched by its use in dozens of very different apps and disciplines that we should retire the term, and a bunch of the tired thinking that is bound up with it. What does it mean, anyway? "Working together." So let’s just call them "work tools," and if we want to focus on the technology side, "work tech."

Consider the old school notions of business process, where the entire chain of work activities is mapped out by experts looking across many disciplines, with all the rules baked in, and everyone must be taught how to perform their roles and what degree of flex is allowed within the painted lines: that notion is being fractured. Things are changing too fast to devise a collection of end-to-end, top-down, totally designed business processes. Besides, anything that can be programmed is being handed off to algorithms, and the rest is left to humans to invent. Today, people are not blindly following rote instructions, but instead they reapply general principles to specific situations: they are not blindly stamping out license plates, or following a script.

The future of "process" in this new world of work is a general understanding of how work might be passed around, and which applications might be employed at different parts of a value chain. So the process involves people deciding how to do things after looking at guidelines. This decision making may involve tools cobbled together, through connections managed by infrastructure that may work like IFTTT (If This Then That), a service that supports transferring information from one app's API to another’s. In this way a company has structured the first stage of job applications as a file containing a resume being placed in a specific Dropbox folder, which initiates the creation of a task in Trello, and the automatic placement into the company’s Job Applications task list. What happens downstream of that would be up to the person who pulled that task to work on it. So instead of a big, totally defined and inflexible process we see a loose collection of smaller activities cascading along, with the eventual outcome not ordained by well defined rules, but instead determined by the individual decisions of those doing the work.

This change is already showing up in the most advanced technology firms, where lean approaches to software development have reflected back into thinking about lean organizations in general. For example, Asana’s "leanership" has built an organization of peers, not just a flat hierarchy. And similar changes are going on at Yammer, GitHub, Medium and other leading tech firms. That is where we will see the rise of cooperative work tech at the core of the new way of work."
collaboration  cooperation  hierarchies  hierarchy  horizontality  open  stoweboyd  2014  process  tools  ifttt  dropbox  flexibility  autonomy  yammer  github  medium  asana 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Educ-ação | Uma jornada em busca de inspiração
[Book (in Portuguese) is here: http://educ-acao.com/o-livro/ ]
[See also: http://educ-acao.com/

"Este projeto nasceu de uma motivação coletiva pela busca de modelos inspiradores de educação. Todos fomos e somos impactados profundamente por modelos educacionais desde cedo. Nosso aprendizado formal é um dos grandes responsáveis pelo que “vamos ser”. Quando crianças, nossa vida gira em torno das escolas. Quando jovens, nos deparamos com escolhas de disciplinas que vão delinear nosso futuro. Quando adultos, temos que tomar as mesmas decisões para nossos filhos. Movidos por inquietações ligadas à forma como entendemos educação hoje, um pequeno grupo se uniu em busca de reflexões e aprendizados em torno do assunto.

Foi assim, com estes desafios em mente, que um grupo de provocadores sonhou junto e desenhou um propósito em comum. Foi com um olhar não acadêmico em busca de inspiração que encontramos escolas, espaços de aprendizado, cursos formais e não formais que estão propondo novos formatos. Foi assim que chegamos a diversos modelos mundo afora: na India, na Suécia, na Indonesia, na Espanha, na Inglaterra, nos Estados Unidos… e no Brasil. Por acreditarmos na importância de escutar as experiências de quem está vivendo estes novos modelos, decidimos fazer uma jornada presencial por 13 destes espaços, em diferentes países e continentes. Vamos visitar estes locais, conversar com pessoas que compõem as histórias que dão vida e cor a estas iniciativas de educação.

Se quiser nos apoiar de alguma forma, por favor entre em contato: contato@educ-acao.com

//

This project was born out of a collective motivation to search for inspirational educational models. We are all profoundly impacted by educational models from an early age. Our formal training is largely responsible for the individual we’ll become when “we grow up”. When we are kids, our life revolves around school. When we are young adults, the disciplines we choose will help determine our future. As adults, we have to make these same decisions for our kids. Motivated by questionings related to the way we understand education today, a small group united in search for insights and learnings related to the subject. With this challenges in mind, a group of provocateurs came together, dreamt and designed a common goal.

It was with a non-academic viewpoint that we set out in search for inspiration, and we found schools, learning spaces, formal and informal courses that are proposing new formats. This is how we found diverse new models around the world: in India, Sweden, Indonesia, Spain, England, the US… and in Brazil. Some of these initiatives are still being selected in other countries. Because we believe in the importance of listening to whom is actually experiencing these new models, we decided to personally visit 13 of these spaces, in different countries and continents. We will visit them, talk to the people that are creating these stories and giving life and color to these new educational initiatives.

We believe this journey must be shared with the world, so the book will have a version for free download and will also share its contents through Creative Commons."
books  education  unschooling  alternative  deschooling  schools  northstar  quest2learn  argentina  brasil  brazil  spain  españa  cpcd  amorimlima  politeia  cieja  teamacademy  escuelasexperimentales  schumachercollege  yip  sweden  riversideschool  india  indonesia  greenschool  southafrica  sustainabilityinstitute  international  johnholt  paulofreire  rudolfsteiner  autonomy  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  lcproject 
january 2014 by robertogreco
The empty chair: Education in an ethic of hospitality | Claudia Ruitenberg - Academia.edu
"The ethical frameworks of autonomy and virtue often include direct instruction and assessment. For example, students can be asked to explain their moral reasoning or to demonstrate particular virtues in their interactions with peers. The emphasis of the ethic of care is on modeling caring, “so we do not tell our students to care; we show them how to care by creating caring relations with them.”33

Likewise, hospitality is not instructed but modeled. The onus is on teachers to offer hospitality, and to show that their interventions are aimed at leaving open a place where the other may arrive. This is a demanding and impossible ethic, one that cannot be perfected or completed, but that demands a response nonetheless. In this way, the ethic of hospitality in education does justice to critiques of subjectivity; as Derrida asks rhetorically, “is not hospitality an interruption of the self?”"

[Direct link to PDF: http://ojs.ed.uiuc.edu/index.php/pes/article/viewFile/3247/1150 ]
claudiaruitenberg  2011  via:steelemaley  hospitality  teaching  modeling  care  caring  behavior  tcsnmy  lcproject  ethics  autonomy  interdependence  morality  virtues  howweteach  jacquesderrida  learning  apprenticeships  mentoring 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Educate in resistance: the autonomous Zapatista schools | ROAR Magazine
"Zapatista education crosses wide areas of alternative knowledge and being, and offers a space where collective knowledge is aimed at social transformation.

The first surprise when you get to the Zapatista community of Cintalapa is the contrast between the beauty of the Lacandon Jungle and the Mexican federal army checkpoint, set up outside the ejido.

For the Zapatista children it seems normal that their little bags are reviewed at the checkpoint, or that they are asked questions when they go to the fields with their parents. They have lived through this their entire lives. The adolescent girls seem to be upset that the soldiers look up and down or yell things at them. So the lives of children in the Zapatista territory of tseltales remain full of contradictions.

These are children living between resistance and death, children who attend and together with their parents and siblings build up the autonomous education of the Zapatistas; a form of education based on their own needs and supported by the community through popular assemblies and collective work.

The Zapatista project of autonomy is more than a political and economic proposal for local, municipal and regional self-governance. It constitutes a broad-based social and cultural initiative, of which education is a core element. As a socializing space, the school reproduces culture, practices and discourses; but it can also generate change and resistance, not only in the form of education, but in the subjects themselves, in their forms of community organization and their family relationships.

Although there are differences between municipalities, Zapatista autonomous education is conceived as a university of life. Its objectives and contents arise from the experienced problems, and the possible solutions, through reflection and collective participation."



"The challenge for autonomous education is to turn the community into a classroom and to incorporate a formal system of Tseltal education, where children learn about planting and harvesting seasons, traditional festivals or about the oral tradition, in order to combine schooling with an indigenous upbringing."



"Autonomous education is an opportunity to form a different type of socialization, arising out of different ideas and practices of gender relations and collective identity. As such, it is not limited to the political, social and cultural spheres: it crosses wide areas of alternative knowledge and being. Zapatista schools are places where collective knowledge is aimed at social transformation."
via:caseygollan  2014  resistance  zapatistas  education  schools  autonomy  alternative  knowledge  being  transformation  cityasclassroom  community  communityasclassroom  gender  angélicarico  socialization  identity  collectivism  collectiveidentity  socialtransformation  deschooling  ivanillich 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Zappos is going holacratic: no job titles, no managers, no hierarchy - Quartz
"During the 4-hour meeting, Hsieh talked about how Zappos’ traditional organizational structure is being replaced with Holacracy, a radical “self-governing” operating system where there are no job titles and no managers. The term Holacracy is derived from the Greek word holon, which means a whole that’s part of a greater whole. Instead of a top-down hierarchy, there’s a flatter “holarchy” that distributes power more evenly. The company will be made up of different circles—there will be around 400 circles at Zappos once the rollout is complete in December 2014—and employees can have any number of roles within those circles. This way, there’s no hiding under titles; radical transparency is the goal.



“We’re classically trained to think of ‘work’ in the traditional paradigm,” says John Bunch, who, along with Alexis Gonzales-Black, is leading the transition to Holacracy at Zappos. “One of the core principles is people taking personal accountability for their work. It’s not leaderless. There are certainly people who hold a bigger scope of purpose for the organization than others. What it does do is distribute leadership into each role. Everybody is expected to lead and be an entrepreneur in their own roles, and Holacracy empowers them to do so.”

In its highest-functioning form, he says, the system is “politics-free, quickly evolving to define and operate the purpose of the organization, responding to market and real-world conditions in real time. It’s creating a structure in which people have flexibility to pursue what they’re passionate about.”

Twitter Co-Founder Ev Williams is one of the system’s early adopters; he uses Holacracy to run his publishing platform Medium, which has around 50 employees. Jason Stirman, whose roles include head of people operations and product designer at Medium, says that one of the best things about Holacracy is that it facilitates autonomy. “Ev isn’t the CEO of Medium to have another title for his Twitter bio. He wants the company to operate at the highest level possible, and he recognizes that all the power consolidated at top is great for people who are hungry but it can be a total bottleneck. There are decisions he wants to make and the rest can be absorbed in other areas of the organization.”

Still, Holacracy can feel unnatural, especially at first. Meetings are designed to rapidly process tensions. The focus is on the work, not the people. “It’s not a very human-centric model for things,” says Stirman. “For example, if you’re a junior designer, Holacracy says that you should bring up everything in this forum, but it can be difficult to ask for feedback or mentorship, especially when you’re new.”

Robertson says that Holacracy is meant to address structural issues, and that leaders will respond to the human element in different ways. Medium has created mentorship circles, and Zappos has similar plans. Williams and Hsieh both “have a high capacity to see the complex systems at play in their organizations,” says Robertson. “It’s not linear or a matter of just following the logical argument; it’s seeing the cloud of interconnections and influences, beyond just cause and effect thinking.”

At the Zappos “All Hands” meeting Hsieh said that at most companies, “there’s the org chart on paper, and then the one that is exactly how the company operates for real, and then there’s the org chart that it would like to have in order to operate more efficiently. … [With Holacracy] the idea is to process tensions so that the three org charts are pretty close together.”"
zappos  hierarchy  hierarchies  management  leadership  organizations  organization  tonyhsieh  aimeegroth  2013  horizontality  holacracy  autonomy  mentorship  power  evanwilliams  medium 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Big Spaceship: Our Manual [.pdf]
"Big Spaceship is different. The weirdness makes it special, but it can be a bit jarring if you’re used to another way of working. We wrote this manual to give you everything you need to survive and thrive here, whether on day one or day one thousand.

This book won’t provide details about your 401(k), show you how to access the internal server, or help you set up your email account. It will help you begin to understand our values and the way we make decisions as a team and as a company.

Our manual belongs to you. Read it.

Share it. Change it. Keep it close when you swim into the deep water."



"WE ARE HUMANS

We act like humans, we talk like humans, and we think like humans. And we call out anyone who does the opposite."



"YOU ARE NOT HERE BY ACCIDENT

We hired you for a reason. There’s no need to prove yourself or worry about “fitting in.” You’re here. You made it. You get it. Let your work do the convincing.

WE HIRE DIFFERENTLY

Most companies operate under the premise that employees should be replaceable like parts of an assembly line. We choose our people more carefully. We bring them in if we think they’re a good fit, regardless of whether we have work for them right away.

What that means: You are more than your title. Bring yourself (rough edges and all) to
work each day, not your “producer" or “designer” costume."

GET AUTONOMOUS

You’re given an incredible amount of freedom and autonomy at Big Spaceship. That goes for everyone – from interns on up. It’s up to you to figure out how to approach a problem. No one is going to make you do it their way. We know that sounds awesome, but here’s the rub: With freedom comes a ton of ownership and responsibility.

Life is easy when someone is telling you what to do. It’s also boring, and it prevents you
from being invested in what you’re doing. Since you control your own destiny here, you’ll likely
be more emotional about your work. We believe that’s better than the alternative. Can you imagine
coming to work each day and not caring? We can’t.

WORK TOGETHER

Our flat structure calls for it by necessity. Being a leader may feel unnatural at first, but we expect everyone to step up and own part of the project. It’s kind of like playing basketball: When someone passes you the ball, you’re in charge of what to do with it next."



"YOU’RE MORE THAN YOUR TITLE

Most workplaces (intentionally or not) train people out of normal human behaviors. They want you to be predictable. They want you to be replaceable. They don’t want you to challenge the status quo.

But humans don’t work that way. Humans are unpredictable. You can’t replace one person with another the same way you swap tires on a car. Workplaces that try to control human nature become miserable fast.

People who talk about themselves in terms of their title freak us out: “I’m a producer, so I do things like this.” No. You’re a person first and a producer second. Show your true colors.

EVERYONE IS CREATIVE

But nobody is a creative. Creativity is a quality, not a title. So don’t ever say, “I’m not creative.” We will find the creativity inside you and drag it out, kicking and screaming.

We don’t put our energy into questions like, “Whose name goes on the award entry?” Instead, we ask questions like, “Is this project right for us?” and “How can we do something unique and innovative that works for the business1?”

NOBODY’S GONNA HOLD YOUR HAND

This is a busy place, and you’ll often be on your own to figure things out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but don’t rely on others to hold your hand.

You might be tempted to say something such as, “It would be nice if someone would organize the [server, kitchen, furniture].” At Big Spaceship, you are that someone. If you want to update, change, or fix something, go for it. Seriously. Every awesome thing you see is like that because someone like you decided to do it.

HUMAN TRUTHS

truth #1: Humans are not perfect.
Don’t be afraid to fail. And when you do, you might as well fail spectacularly. This is how we grow and learn.

truth #2: Humans have voices.
Yours is as valuable as anyone else’s. Use it. Singing out loud is encouraged and it happens often.

truth #3: Humans are unique.
Do you love Norwegian death metal? Do you prefer your desk covered with sunflowers? There’s no need to hide it. Be yourself. That’s how you’ll fit in here.



HUMANS ARE NOT “RESOURCES”

Human resources. What an awful phrase. We don’t have an HR department. New hires are
interviewed by the people who will actually be working with them. This ensures that we’re
hiring for the right team and the right reasons.

So get ready to care a lot about the people you work with."

WE WORK TOGETHER

We insist on working collaboratively. No rockstars. No departments. The whole team owns the whole
project, together.

WE AREN’T BIG ON HIERARCHY

We don’t have an internal “org chart.” The reason is that a traditional hierarchy forms a bottleneck: One person has to ask someone else’s permission to do something, and then that person has to ask someone else’s permission, and so on. The whole process is just a waste of time and it prevents people from building things quickly.

You have mentors and collaborators, not commanders. In other words, you may have a boss, but you’ll never get bossed around.

And we all make things here. If you’ve come to climb a ladder, you’re in the wrong place. Those who show up and tell other people what to do don’t last long.

PLAY IS IMPORTANT

When you walk through our doors, you enter an environment where work and play often intertwine. But there’s a difference between being childish and child-like. We are adults. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun.

There’s no reason to pretend you’re busy. You don’t need to hide the video you’re watching if someone walks by your desk. No one is monitoring the websites you look at. We aren’t going to report you for taking a long lunch. Just do great work.

WE DESIGN FOR PEOPLE, NOT AT THEM

We make things for people. Not for consumers. We always ask ourselves (and our clients), “Would I want to use this?”

SHOW DON’T TELL

This is something we tell our clients all the time, and it’s important that we live by these words as well. A better way to put it might be: Don’t talk about it, do it.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR CREW

Much of the work we do is technical. But there’s another skill we all need to have: the interpersonal kind. It isn’t optional. Some people like to pretend that the technical work is all that matters. They’re wrong. This isn’t Rambo2; there are no teams of one here.

We know that sometimes it can be difficult to work with others. Our solution is simple: Get to know everyone. No one is just a designer or a strategist. They are people with many dimensions. Understand who they are and it’ll be much easier. You are part of a team, and the health and harmony of your team is part of your job.

WE ARE SMALL BY DESIGN

Every decision about how to structure a company has some upsides and some downsides. When you encounter something that’s a little frustrating about how we work, remember that it’s likely the result of something else about this place that you love.

We’ve kept our company small for more than 13 years, which allows us all to sit in the same room and know each other intimately. It also means we’ve had to sacrifice the economies of scale that come with hundreds or thousands of employees. Sometimes things break or get dirty. We don’t have a maintenance department, so it’s up to you.

DON’T MAKE A 70-PERSON COMPANY FEEL LIKE 700

We’re glad we don’t work at a place where the tech team is in another city. Try not to over-formalize communication. There’s no need to send an email to the person sitting one row away.

WE ALL SIT TOGETHER

At some companies, they make you go to a different floor (or building) to talk to someone outside of your team. That terrifies us. And it’s why we have an open floor plan.

You’re surrounded by smart people from every discipline. Talk to them. Learn from them.

ALL ARE WELCOME

We’ve designed our space for us, not to impress our guests. There’s no imported jellyfish aquarium in the lobby. We don’t have a doorman and we like it that way. Anyone is allowed anywhere, anytime. Make yourself at home.

If someone drops by, they’re going to see us working. That means it might be a bit messy. But that’s the real us.



WE ARE ALL STUDENTS; WE ARE ALL TEACHERS

This has nothing to do with seniority. We all snatch the pebble from each other’s hand. The idea of student becoming teacher and teacher becoming student is one of the greatest aspects of what we do. We share and learn from each other, daily.

And while we don’t expect you to hold anyone’s hand, we encourage you to be a mentor as much as possible. Maybe you’ll learn something too.

BE RESPECTFUL, BUT DON’T BE DELICATE

We’ve found that the best creative breakthroughs happen when people can have a good, passionate argument about an idea, not when they spend weeks tiptoeing around each other. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Just be honest and respectful.



WE ARE PROFESSIONALS

But we hate professionalism. Professional means handling your business with respect. Professionalism is when you’re so buttoned-up that you stop being yourself. It sands all the edges off your personality.

AVOID MEETINGS AT ALL COST

Meetings are the scourge of the modern workplace. A two-hour meeting with six people doesn’t waste two hours. It wastes twelve hours.

If all else fails and you absolutely must have a meeting, clearly state the purpose up front. If you can’t think of one, you probably don’t need to have it. And if you ever—EVER—find … [more]
bigspaceship  organizations  manifesto  2013  howwework  horizontality  culture  business  hierarchies  hierarchy  autonomy  change  adaptability  small  humans  humanism  design  language  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  sharing  teaching  learning  making  howweteach  howwelearn  lcproject  meetings  professionalism  collaboration  critique  careerism  camaraderie  agency  trust  community  manifestos 
december 2013 by robertogreco
I AM FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER — Medium
"Dad once called me his frankenstein’s monster, now this sounds like a hard and possibly cruel way to refer to your one and only son, but I never took it as an insult. In fact, I think it tells us about one of the most important traits of how he approached fatherhood; his ultimate aim was to create something he wasn’t. In this simple approach, he did something strong, brave and good. With two children, Vicky and myself, he achieved his goal — we became something completely other to him.

At times he would say that we spoke a different language; our words, ideas and cultural references made him feel like he’d been parachuted into a strange land.. We presented to him, on almost a weekly basis, a challenge to his values and positions on the world. We wouldn’t let him rest with views that were dubious in their ethical and political position, we argued him into submission and frustration. In short, we were massive pains in the arse.

I would like to celebrate this. Without my dad, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t be armed with the passion and drive to argue about the world. In his quite, provocative charm, Dad managed to create his frankensteins. In his desire to make me different to him, he gave me the ultimate prize — a voice of my own.

In a world, where individuals find it hard to take control and direct their lives, my parents gave Vicky and myself the most important powers, that of: autonomy, self determination and independence.

Now, I know my dad never read Mary Shelley. I know that his understanding of Frankenstein was more Boris Karloff than a deep literary analysis. But I think it’s important to recognise that Dr Frankenstein always loved his creation, he just couldn’t fully understand or control it. And like the monster, I was let loose on the world, to wreak havoc!

My favourite story about how dad pushed and extended my life experiences, experiences that he would never enjoy or understand, was with something very close to my heart — food. As a child, I was aware that there were no barriers to me experiencing food. No price too high, or food to strange, my dad would order it off the menu. It was only as an adult did I fully realise that he never partook. The frogs legs, the snails, the chickens feet all appeared at the table for his family to try, without a morsel touching his lips. He relished our enjoyment, he loved introducing me to things that he would never like himself. He sat back, like a voyeuristic gourmet, watching his family experiencing wonderful things. Hedonistic at times, the drive to see pleasure from others demonstrated my dad’s underlying generosity.

Although today, by his own standards, should be spent enjoying good food, great conversation and copious amounts of alcohol. I think I need to reflect on the last two years and the gradual loss, the mental and physical decline, of dad. Dementia is without doubt one of the cruelest diseases to take a person. Those that loved dad have had to witness a slow and miserable loss of his life blood. We have been mourning the man we loved for a while now. But this sad time is over, what we have to hold onto the memories of the good times, the memories of a man who would desperately hold onto his holidays, always provoked deep conversations and ultimately strived to have a good time.

Over the last two years, not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about the world without Tony Ward. However, by the time I was ready to say important things to dad, by the time it was necessary for him to say important things to me, he’d lost his grip on reality. This means I feel that I didn’t get chance to say goodbye, With the overwhelming emotional awkwardness that stops people discussing their feelings towards the people they love, the moment slipped by without me realising it.

But this is okay, it was unlikely, even if he was of sound mind that he’d have said anything. He struggled to express his emotions in that way. He was a man of ‘that generation’ — hard and stoic — and I’ve been aware of this for years. It first struck me, as a teenager, when I’d give him a kiss on the top of his head as he dropped me off at the train station to go to school. I could sense his physical discomfort, but instead of being put off, his monster continued, relishing and forcing him to get used to a big man kissing him in public. The last time I saw dad, on the day he died, I kissed his head."
mattward  parenting  2013  love  children  autonomy  independence  frankenstein  voice  self-determination  storytelling  dementia  food  life  living  debate 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Phone solo / Snarkmarket
"Generally, I would say that while I was actually pretty conscious of accessibility issues before my injury, I have a completely different understanding of it now, as I’m navigating the world in a wheelchair, trying to both capture and manage the attention of random passers-by, totally aware of just how much function I have, and that (unlike my friends) I’ll be hanging up the wheelchair in just a few weeks. (Rehabbing the arm will take a while longer.) Your cheerfulness about the situation varies almost directly with your autonomy — and the iPhone is GREAT at making you feel autonomous. Innovation in interface design isn’t just about creating a cooler experience. It’s about giving more and more people a shot at that experience to begin with."
timcarmody  accessibility  iphone  computersareforpeople  design  autonomy  empowerment  2009 
november 2013 by robertogreco
The Consortium for Slower Internet
"Slower Internet is about more than speed. The Consortium for Slower Internet pursues projects that promote the following principles.

DURATION

There is no inherent concern with information that is transmitted and distributed with great speed, but Slower Internet suggests that information be consumed at a more contemplative pace. If information is to be a central part of our lives, Slower Internet is interested in finding ways to live with it on more human time scales; news, facts, updates, etc should be absorbed slowly and given time for consideration. Systems that emphasize duration are central to a Slower Internet.

DEFAMILIARIZATION

The information delivered by Fast Internet is the white bread of data: predictable, lifeless, sanitized for mass appeal. Slow Internet delivers content in unexpected formats and spaces. The practice of defamiliarization encourages users to scrutinize their role and participation in a given system. Seamless experiences are suspect.

AUTONOMY

Fast Internet dazzles with maximum features at minimum price, but it often does so at the expense of user autonomy. Increasingly, users are encouraged to sacrifice their rights to own material they produce with a given system when services are rendered free of charge. Slower Internet respects user autonomy by giving creators control and ownership over their data. Charging reasonable fees for a service is always preferable to spying on customers and appropriating their data to serve advertisements.

DIVERGENCE

Computers have long been universal machines, able to perform any calculation regardless of content. A Slower Internet, however, requires that dissimilar tasks occur in a diversity of spaces on a multitude of devices. Living with information does not mean that we have to give any type of machine a monopoly over our attention. Slower Internet is a process of cultivating a garden of machines that fit localized, individual desires."
slow  internet  slowinternet  newmedia  networks  slowerinternet  duration  defamiliarization  autonomy  divergence  systemsthinking  human 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Are Private Schools Worth It? - Julia Ryan - The Atlantic
[A bit problematic (the part quoted below and reliance on test scores to distinguish good from bad), but worth noting]

"Most of the schools in your study are religious schools. What about private schools that serve purely academic purposes? Are they also underperforming?

STL: Actually, that was not a category in any of the data that we worked with. There’s this category of “other private” that doesn’t fit into Lutheran, Catholic, conservative Christian, et cetera, but that’s really a catch all-category. A very small sample. So we weren’t able to study that.

CAL: And from a policy perspective, that’s less useful because when you look at for example, voucher programs. The largest sector of schools that are accepting vouchers are Catholic, even though Catholic schools have declined a bit in terms of their market share. They are still the biggest player in the private-school sector."
privateschools  education  schools  juliaryan  2013  autonomy  religion  christopheralubienski  sarahtheulelubienski 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Duke Riley :: Artist + Patriot
"My work addresses the prospect of residual but forgotten unclaimed frontiers on the edge and inside overdeveloped urban areas, and their unsuspected autonomy. I am interested in the struggle of marginal peoples to sustain independent spaces within all-encompassing societies, the tension between individual and collective behavior, the conflict with institutional power. I pursue an alternative view of hidden borderlands and their inhabitants through drawing, printmaking, mosaic, sculpture, performative interventions, and video structured as complex multimedia installations.

I often work in the tradition of field naturalists, seeking and gathering data, artifacts, and specimens outdoors, transporting them inside for closer observation and study, displaying them in museum-like diorama settings. I combine populist myths and reinvented historical obscurities with contemporary social dilemmas, connecting past and present, drawing attention to unsolved issues. Throughout my projects I profile the space where water meets the land, traditionally marking the periphery of urban society, what lies beyond rigid moral constructs, a sense of danger and possibility."

[via: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/17/arts/design/avian-artistry-with-smuggled-cigars.html ]
art  artists  brooklyn  dukeriley  outdoors  frontiers  borders  urban  autonomy  margins  macollectivebehavior  borderlands 
october 2013 by robertogreco
nicoleslaw
“I think you’re suggesting that to live in illusion, to be a slave to the worldview of your time and place, or to be all your life a follower of orders—these are all in a way different forms of oppression. But I think you’re suggesting that all human beings have the capacity to collaborate in the task of guiding their own lives—and the life of the place where they work, the life of their community, the life of the world. It would be so amazing if people could take that possibility seriously.”

— Wallace Shawn in an interview with Noam Chomsky [http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/20040917.pdf ]
wallaceshawn  noamchomsky  oppression  community  interdependence  independence  agency  cooperation  hierarchy  hierarchies  time  place  2004  autonomy 
july 2013 by robertogreco
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