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“When You Get That Wealthy, You Start to Buy Your Own Bullshit”: The Miseducation of Sheryl Sandberg | Vanity Fair
"Harvard Business School invented the “leadership” industry—and produced a generation of corporate monsters. No wonder Sandberg, one of the school’s most prominent graduates, lacks a functioning moral compass."



"The truth is, Harvard Business School, like much of the M.B.A. universe in which Sandberg was reared, has always cared less about moral leadership than career advancement and financial performance. The roots of the problem can be found in the School’s vaunted “Case Method,” a discussion-based pedagogy that asks students to put themselves in the role of corporate Übermensch. At the start of each class, one unlucky soul is put in the hot seat, presented with a “what would you do” scenario, and then subjected to the ruthless interrogation of their peers. Graded on a curve, the intramural competition can be intense—M.B.A.s are super-competitive, after all.

Let’s be clear about this: in business, as in life, there isn’t always one correct answer. So the teaching of a decision-making philosophy that is deliberate and systematic, but still open-minded, is hardly controversial on its face. But to help students overcome the fear of sounding stupid and being remorselessly critiqued, they are reminded, in case after case—and with emphasis—that there are no right answers. And that has had the unfortunate effect of opening up a chasm of moral equivalence in too many of their graduates.

And yet, there are obviously many situations where some answers are more right than others. Especially when it comes to moral issues like privacy, around which both Sandberg and Facebook have a history of demonstrating poor judgment. While H.B.S. is correct in its assertion that it produces people who can make decisions, the fact of the matter is that they have never emphasized how to make the right ones.

Consider investment banker Bowen McCoy’s “The Parable of the Sadhu,” published in Harvard Business Review in 1977, and again 20 years later. It addressed what seemed, at least to the H.B.S. crowd, to be an ethical dilemma. McCoy was on a trip to the Himalayas when his expedition encountered a sadhu, or holy man, near death from hypothermia and exposure. Their compassion extended only to clothing the man and leaving him in the sun, before continuing on to the summit. One of McCoy’s group saw a “breakdown between the individual ethic and the group ethic,” and was gripped by guilt that the climbers had not made absolutely sure that the sadhu made it down the mountain alive. McCoy’s response: “Here we are . . . at the apex of one of the most powerful experiences of our lives. . . . What right does an almost naked pilgrim who chooses the wrong trail have to disrupt our lives?”

McCoy later felt guilt over the incident, but his parable nevertheless illustrated the extent to which aspiring managers might justify putting personal accomplishment ahead of collateral damage—including the life of a dying man. The fact that H.B.S. enthusiastically incorporated said parable into its curriculum says far more about the fundamental mindset of the school than almost anything else that has come out of it. The “dilemma” was perfectly in line with the thinking at H.B.S. that an inability to clearly delineate the right choice in business isn’t the fault of the chooser but rather a fundamental characteristic of business, itself.

Here’s a slightly more recent example: remember Jeff Skilling? Like Sandberg, he graduated from H.B.S. and went to work at McKinsey. And like Sandberg, he left McKinsey for a C-suite gig—in his case, Enron—that took him to the stratosphere. Again like Sandberg, he basked in adulation over his ability to deliver shareholder returns. Skilling had done so, of course, by turning Enron into one of the greatest frauds the world has ever seen.

One of Skilling’s H.B.S. classmates, John LeBoutillier, who went on to be a U.S. congressman, later recalled a case discussion in which the students were debating what the C.E.O. should do if he discovered that his company was producing a product that could be potentially fatal to consumers. “I’d keep making and selling the product,” he recalled Skilling saying. “My job as a businessman is to be a profit center and to maximize return to the shareholders. It’s the government’s job to step in if a product is dangerous.” Several students nodded in agreement, recalled LeBoutillier. “Neither Jeff nor the others seemed to care about the potential effects of their cavalier attitude. . . . At H.B.S. . . . you were then, and still are, considered soft or a wuss if you dwell on morality or scruples.”

Why do so many M.B.A.s struggle to make the ethical decisions that seem so clear to the rest of us? Is it right to employ a scummy P.R. firm to deflect attention from our failures? Is it O.K. if we bury questions about user privacy and consent under a mountain of legalese? Can we get away with repeatedly choosing profits over principles and then promising that we will do better in the future?

If you think this kind of thing isn’t still going on at Harvard Business School—or wasn’t going on when Sandberg graduated in 1995—I refer you to Michel Anteby, who joined the faculty 10 years later, in 2005. At first enthusiastic, Anteby was soon flummoxed by the complete absence of normative viewpoints in classroom discussion. “I grew up in France where there were very articulated norms,” he told the BBC in 2015. “Higher norms and lower norms. Basically, you have convictions of what was right or wrong, and when I tried to articulate this in the classroom, I encountered . . . silence on the part of students. Because they weren’t used to these value judgments in the classroom.”

Eight years after his arrival, Anteby published Manufacturing Morals: The Values of Silence in Business School Education. The book was not published by Harvard but the University of Chicago Press. Calling the case system an “unscripted journey” for students, it was one of the first times an insider had joined the chorus of outsiders who have long criticized the case method as one that glamorizes the C.E.O.-as-hero, as well as the overuse of martial terminology in business curricula. (The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Mark Zuckerberg currently considers Facebook “at war.”)

“H.B.S. studies everybody under the sun,” Anteby told me in early 2015. “There is no reason we should be off limits.” Alas, they were. Not long after his book was published, Anteby came to believe that H.B.S. would not grant him tenure, and left the school soon after. “He is an unbelievably productive and smart guy,” one of his supporters, the University of Michigan’s Jerry Davis, told me later that year. “And they fired him. Probably because H.B.S. wasn’t the right place to have a conversation about itself. It would be like being at Versailles in 1789, offering up leadership secrets of Louis XIV. The really unfortunate part is that he wasn’t as harsh as he should have been, because he was up for tenure.”

The absence of voices like Anteby’s are evident to this day, and an ongoing indictment of the culture that turned Facebook from a Harvard sophomore’s dorm-room project into what passes for a Harvard Business School success story. Return one last time to the H.B.R. Web site, and you will find a case study that was published just a few months ago entitled “Facebook—Can Ethics Scale in the Digital Age?” Set aside the abuse of the English language in the question—M.B.A.s specialize in that kind of thing. The mere fact that it’s being asked serves as resounding proof that the moral equivalence problem is still with us today. The question is not whether or not a company of Facebook’s size and reach can stay ethical. The question is whether it will even try."
harvard  harvardbusinessschool  ethics  sherylsandberg  facebook  2018  business  careerism  morality  hbs  via:nicoleslaw  leadership  billclinton  mba  mbas  harvardbusinessrevie  hbr  duffmcdonald  competition  competitiveness  winning  decisionmaking  billgeorge  larrysummers  abrahamzaleznik  johnleboutillier  jeffskilling  bowenmccoy  michelanteby  norms  values  capitalism  neoliberalism 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Vito Acconci, Performance Artist and Uncommon Architect, Dies at 77 - The New York Times
"Some performances might have gotten him arrested, though Mr. Acconci also seemed to possess the instincts of a cat burglar. In one of his most famous early works, “Following Piece,” from 1969, he spent each day for almost a month following a person picked at random on the streets of Manhattan, sometimes taking a friend along to photograph the action. The rules were only that Mr. Acconci had to keep following the person until he or she entered a private place where he couldn’t go in.

Mr. Acconci saw himself not as a stalker but as an unmoored soul searching for direction.

“It was sort of a way to get myself off the writer’s desk and into the city,” he once told the musician Thurston Moore. “It was like I was praying for people to take me somewhere I didn’t know how to go myself.”

The dozens of performance pieces that followed through the early 1970s, many of them now little-known, featured varying elements of bodily discomfort, exhibitionism and gender play — elements he shared with other artists of the time, particularly female — as well as a devious wit and a Svengali aura that were Mr. Acconci’s own.

In “Seedbed” (1972) — Mr. Acconci’s most infamous piece, which came to overshadow much of his other work — he constructed an angled false floor at the Sonnabend Gallery in SoHo and hid himself beneath it with a microphone; as people walked above him he spoke to them as he masturbated. The piece became a touchstone of performance art in part because of its sheer, outlandish audacity.

But it also underscored Mr. Acconci’s abiding interest in art that did not exist as an object set apart from the world, in a frame or on a plinth, but as something deeply embedded in everyday life.

“I wanted people to go through space somehow, not to have people in front of space, looking at something, bowing down to something,” he said of the performance in an interview with The New York Times in 2016 on the occasion of a retrospective at MoMA PS 1 in Queens. “I wanted space people could be involved in.”

That ambition took hold fully in the mid-1970s, when, in a radical career turn, he abandoned the gallery world and remade himself as a highly unorthodox architect and designer, creating works like public parks, airport rest areas and even an artificial island on a river in Austria.

The move confused his peers and caused his profile in the art world to recede, to the point where many younger artists who were indirectly influenced by his work had little idea who had created it. In his later years, Mr. Acconci sometimes agonized over this situation, but he said he had no choice but to follow his interests where they took him — which was no less than an ambition to change the way people lived.

“I wish we could make buildings that could constantly explode and come back in different ways,” he said in one interview. “The idea of a changing environment suggests that if your environment changes all the time, then maybe your ideas will change all the time. I think architecture should have loose ends. This might be another problem with Modernism — it’s too complete within itself.”

Vito Hannibal Acconci was born on Jan. 4, 1940, and raised in the Bronx in a tightly knit Italian-Catholic family. His father, Hamilcar — Hamilcar Barca was the father of the Carthaginian general Hannibal, hence Mr. Acconci’s unusual middle name — was a bathrobe manufacturer whose business was never very good. His mother, Chiara, known as Catherine, worked as a school cafeteria attendant to help makes ends meet.

Mr. Acconci spoke often about how his father’s unusual name, and his love of literature and opera, sparked a fierce interest in words at an early age. (“I prefer Hannibal to Vito,” he once told an interviewer, “but, then again, that was before ‘Silence of the Lambs.’”)

His father died when Mr. Acconci was in his early 20s. He said he was spoiled and protected long into adulthood by his mother, whom he labored to keep in ignorance of the shocking specifics of his work.

In 1962, he enrolled in the graduate writing program at the University of Iowa, in thrall to postmodern writers like Alain Robbe-Grillet and John Hawkes. He married a fellow artist, Rosemary Mayer (they divorced in the late 1960s), and with her sister, the poet and artist Bernadette Mayer, he published a journal called “0 to 9,” after the numeral paintings of Jasper Johns.

By 1969, in what he called “a kind of fever,” he was making performances at a rate of sometimes several a week, documenting them in a decidedly analog archive of metal filing cabinets that grew vast toward the end of his life, taking up a large room in the studio in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he and Maria Acconci ran Acconci Studios, a design and architecture firm.

Holland Cotter, describing Mr. Acconci’s sui-generis performance persona in The Times in 2016, wrote: “Thirty-something, hirsute, in slack shape, he looks and acts the part of sleazoid voyeur, stand-up comic, psychopath and self-martyred saint.”

He added: “In ways not so different from Cindy Sherman’s in photography, he was creating multiple characters who happened to share a body — his — that he wanted both to explore and escape, and that was coming apart under stress.”

In 1980, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago organized a retrospective, and by that time videos, photographic documentations and other works of his had entered numerous important public collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

To support himself throughout a career that was never careerist, he taught and lectured in art schools around New York, and his classroom presence became legendary, a kind of performance work itself — with his long unruly hair, his all-black wardrobe, his gravel-bed voice with its distinctive loping stutter and, before he quit, the endless cigarettes he would light, stub out, pocket, retrieve and light again.

Even when thinking about the end of his life, he seemed to conceive of it as consonant with his work, a performance. In a letter to an unknown recipient in 1971, he spoke of his fears of dying on a plane trip to Canada and stated that before the flight he would deposit an envelope with a key to his apartment at the registrar’s desk at the School of Visual Arts.

“In the event of my death,” the letter, a kind of will, concluded, “the envelope can be picked up by the first person who calls for it; he will be free to use my apartment, and its contents, any way he wishes.”"
vitoacconci  2017  names  naming  art  artists  public  architecture  design  careers  careerism  body  bodies  multitudes  modernism  change  environment 
april 2017 by robertogreco
From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy [.pdf]
Gustavo Esteva
Madhu S. Prakash
Dana L. Stuchul

"At the end of his life, Freire wrote a short book, Pedagogía de la autonomía. (Freire, 1997) In it, he offers a meditation on his life and work, while returning to his most important themes. Freire reminds us that his education, his pedagogy, is pointedly and purposively ideological and interventionist. It requires mediators. Here again, it addresses those mediators: a final call to involve them in the crusade.
The leitmotiv of the book, the thread woven through every page as it occurred everyday in the life of Freire, is the affirmation of the universal ethic of the human being --- universal love as an ontological vocation. He recognizes its historical character. And he reminds us that it is not any ethic: it is the ethic of human solidarity. (Freire, 1996, p.124) Freire promotes a policy of human development, privileging men and humans, rather than profit. (Freire, 1996, p.125) He proclaims solidarity as a historical commitment of men and women, as one of the forms of struggle capable of promoting and instilling the universal ethic of the human being. (Freire, 1997, p.13)

Similar to liberation theology (an option for the poor) courageously adopted by an important sector of the Catholic Church in Latin America, Freire finds a foundation and a destiny for his theory and practice in the ideal of solidarity. Solidarity expresses an historical commitment based on a universal ethics. Solidarity legitimizes intervention in the lives of others in order to conscienticize them. Derived from charity, caritas, the Greek and Latin word for love, and motivated by care, by benevolence, by love for the other, conscientization becomes a universal, ethical imperative.

Certainly, Freire was fully aware of the nature of modern aid; of what he called false generosity. He identified clearly the disabling and damaging impact of all kinds of such aid. Yet, for all of his clarity and awareness, he is unable to focus his critique on service: particularly that service provided by service professionals. Freire's specific blindness is an inability to identify the false premises and dubious interventions --- in the name of care --- of one specific class of service professionals: educators.

In its modern institutional form, qua service, care is the mask of love. This mask is not a false face. The modernized service-provider believes in his care and love, perhaps more than even the serviced. The mask is the face. (McKnight, 1977, p.73) Yet, the mask of care and love obscure the economic nature of service, the economic interests behind it. Even worse, this mask hides the disabling nature of service professions, like education.

All of the caring, disabling professions are based on the assumption or presupposition of a lack, a deficiency, a need, that the professional service can best satisfy. The very modern creation of the needy man, a product of economic society, of capitalism, and the very mechanism through which needs are systematically produced in the economic society, are hidden behind the idea of service. Once the need is identified, the necessity of service becomes evident. It is a mechanism analogous to the one used by an expert to transmogrify a situation into a "problem" whose solution --- usually including his own services --- he proposes.

In this way, Freire constructed the human need for the conscience he conceived. In attributing such need to his oppressed, he also constructed the process to satisfy it: conscientization. Thus, the process reifies the need and the outcome: only conscientization can address the need for an improved conscience and consciousness and only education can deliver conscientization. This educational servicing of the oppressed, however, is masked: as care, love, vocation, historical commitment, as an expression of Freire's universal ethic of solidarity. Freire's blindness is his inability to perceive the disabling effect of his various activities or strategies of conscientization. He seems unaware that the business of modern society is service and that social service in modern society is business. (McKnight, 1997, p.69) Today, economic powers like the USA pride themselves in being post-industrial: that is, the replacement of smoke stacks and sweatshops moved to the South, with an economy retooled for global supremacy in providing service. With ever increasing needs, satisfaction of these needs requires more service resulting in unlimited economic growth.

Freire was also unaware that solidarity, both the word and the idea, are today the new mask of aid and development, of care and love. For example, in the 1990s, the neoliberal government of Mexican president Carlos Salinas used a good portion of the funds obtained through privatization to implement the Programa Nacional de Solidaridad. The program was celebrated by the World Bank as the best social program in the world. It is now well documented that, like all other wars against poverty, it was basically a war waged against the poor, widening and deepening the condition it was supposed to cure, a condition that, in the first place, was aggravated by the policies associated with the neoliberal credo.

Freire could not perceive the corruption of love through caring, through service. Furthermore, he was unable to perceive that the very foundation of his own notion of universal, globalized love, God's love for his children through Christ, is also a corruption of Christianity. (Cayley, 2000)

Freire was particularly unable to perceive the impact of the corruption which occurs when the oppressed are transformed into the objects of service: as clients, beneficiaries, and customers. Having created a radical separation between his oppressed and their educators, Freire was unsuccessful in bringing them together, despite all his attempts to do so through his dialogue, his deep literacy --- key words for empowerment and participation. All these pedagogical and curricular tools of education prove themselves repeatedly to be counterproductive: they produce the opposite of what they pretend to create. Instead of liberation, they add to the lives of oppressed clients, more chains and more dependency on the pedagogy and curricula of the mediator.iii.

During the last several centuries, all kinds of agents have pretended to "liberate" pagans, savages, natives, the oppressed, the under-developed, the uneducated, under-educated, and the illiterate in the name of the Cross, civilization (i.e. Westernization), capitalism or socialism, human rights, democracy, a universal ethic, progress or any other banner of development. Every time the mediator conceptualizes the category or class of the oppressed in his/her own terms, with his/her own ideology, he is morally obligated to evangelize: to promote among them, for their own good, the kind of transformation he or she defines as liberation. Yet, a specific blindness seems to be the common denominator among these mediators: an awareness of their own oppression. In assuming that they have succeeded in reaching an advanced level or stage of awareness, conscience, or even liberation (at least in theory, in imagination, in dreams), and in assuming, even more, that what their oppressed lack is this specific notion or stage, they assume and legitimate their own role as liberators. Herein, they betray their intentions.

In response to colonization, Yvonne Dion-Buffalo and John Mohawk recently suggested that colonized peoples have three choices: 1) to become good subjects, accepting the premises of the modern West without much question, 2) to become bad subjects, always resisting the parameters of the colonizing world, or 3) to become non-subjects, acting and thinking in ways far removed from those of the modern West. (Quoted in Esteva and Prakash, 1998, p.45)"



"In his denunciation of the discrimination suffered by the illiterate, Freire does not see, smell, imagine or perceive the differential reality of the oral world. While aspiring to eliminate all these forms of discrimination from the planet, he takes for granted, without more critical consideration, that reading and writing are fundamental basic needs for all humans. And, he embraces the implications of such assumptions: that the illiterate person is not a full human being.

Freire's pedagogic method requires that literacy should be rooted in the socio- political context of the illiterate. He is convinced that in and through such a process, they would acquire a critical judgement about the society in which they suffer oppression. But he does not take into account any critical consideration of the oppressive and alienating character implicit in the tool itself, the alphabet. He can not bring his reflection and practice to the point in which it is possible, like with many other modern tools, to establish clear limits to the alphabet in order to create the conditions for the oppressed to critically use the alphabet instead of being used by it."



"IV. Resisting Love: The Case Against Education

Freire's central presupposition: that education is a universal good, part and parcel of the human condition, was never questioned, in spite of the fact that he was personally exposed, for a long time, to an alternative view. This seems to us at least strange, if not abhorrent.
Freire was explicitly interested in the oppressed. His entire life and work were presented as a vocation committed to assuming their view, their interests. Yet, he ignored the plain fact that for the oppressed, the social majorities of the world, education has become one of the most humiliating and disabling components of their oppression: perhaps, even the very worst.



"For clarifying the issues of this essay, we chose to reflect on the life, the work, and the teachings of Gandhi, Subcommandante Marcos and Wendell Berry. Purposely, we juxtapose them to exacerbate their radical and dramatic differences. Is it absurd to even place them under the umbrella of public and private virtues we dwell on as we … [more]
gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  liberation  pedagogy  pedagogyoftheoppressed  wendellberry  solidarity  care  love  caring  carlossalinas  neoliberalism  teaching  howweteach  education  conscientization  liberationtheology  charity  service  servicelearning  economics  oppression  capitalism  mediators  leadership  evangelization  yvonnedion-buffalo  johnmohawk  legibility  decolonization  colonialism  karlmarx  ivanillich  technology  literacy  illegibility  bankingeducation  oraltradition  plato  text  writing  memory  communication  justice  modernism  class  inequality  humility  zapatistas  comandantemarcos  parochialism  globalphilia  resistance  canon  gandhi  grassroots  hope  individuality  newness  sophistication  specialization  professionalization  dislocation  evolution  careerism  alienation  self-knowledge  schooling  schools  progress  power  victimization  slow  small 
may 2016 by robertogreco
The best art criticism shouldn’t even talk about art – Steve Cottingham opens the door, but can’t walk through | Lebenskünstler
"I would not so humbly offer my own “practice” (which of course isn’t one, or can’t be called one without scare quotes) as a partial solution to some of the quandaries posed. Take the conversation out of the hands of the art journals, the symposia, the universities, and into all the disreputable, trivial places like facebook, blogs, and bars. Maybe the best art criticism shouldn’t even talk about art. Be polite. Be mean. Be drunk. Be angry. Be respectful. Be a fucking jerk. Each is an appropriate tactic at certain times. But above all, don’t take yourself too seriously especially if you insist on continuing to talk about art. We must truly address the “problem with professionalization” (something I’ve posted about extensively on this blog) as Cottingham puts it [emphasis added]:
Art criticism is in crisis because we have a problem with professionalization. We are steeped in the vernacular of capitalism, and we are afraid to leave it. Our world is rife with administration, mimicking the bureaucratic processes of the corporations so many of us profess to hate. We are content to let our artistry cease as soon we begin writing proposals, drafting business letters, and carefully collating our résumés. We push limits and subvert expectations everywhere except on the back-end, that realm which increasingly dominates artistic practices.

Too often, we seek to industrialize our passions. We simultaneously demand creative and financial nourishment from what my grandmother’s friend once dismissively called “a hobby.” Art critics laud artwork that resists capitalist pressures, but rarely does the criticism equally embody the form of this resistance.

I have also talked incessantly about monetizing passions and what that, along with adopting a language and culture of work implies for such passions. So, I would offer the same advice to art critics, that Kaprow offered to artists: “Once the task of the artist was to make good art [criticism]; now it is to avoid making art [criticism] of any kind.” Or: “Artists [art critics] of the world, drop out! You have nothing to lose but your professions!” And finally: “…the idea of art cannot easily be gotten rid of (even if one wisely never utter the word). But it is possible to slyly shift the whole un-artistic operation away from where the arts customarily congregate, to become, for instance, an account executive, an ecologist, a stunt rider, a politician, a beach bum. In these different capacities…[art] would operate indirectly as a stored code that, instead of programming a specific course of behavior, would facilitate an attitude of deliberate playfulness toward all professionalizing activities well beyond art.” So rather than being art critics, become unart critics. Congregate in those uncustomary places, use your creative/critical/empathetic/poetic/agitational powers in every nook and cranny – sometimes, if you insist, in the mausoleum of art , but don’t be “afraid to leave it” either because I “can’t imagine a more thrilling place to be.”"
randallszott  2015  art  artcriticism  criticism  professionalization  unart  stevecottingham  capitalism  work  hobbies  artleisure  leisurearts  resistance  bureaucracy  careerism 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Problem with 'Grit,' KIPP, and Character-Based Education | The New Republic
"The second problem with the new character education is that it unwittingly promotes an amoral and careerist “looking out for number one” point-of-view. Never before has character education been so completely untethered from morals, values, and ethics. From the inception of our public school system in the 1840s and 1850s, character education has revolved around religious and civic virtues. Steeped in Protestantism and republicanism, the key virtues taught during the nineteenth-century were piety, industry, kindness, honesty, thrift, and patriotism. During the Progressive era, character education concentrated on the twin ideas of citizenship and the “common good.” As an influential 1918 report on “moral values” put it, character education “makes for a better America by helping its pupils to make themselves better persons.” In the 1960s and 1970s, meanwhile, character education focused on justice and working through thorny moral dilemmas.

Today’s grit and self-control are basically industry and temperance in the guise of psychological constructs rather than moral imperatives. Why is this distinction important? While it takes grit and self-control to be a successful heart surgeon, the same could be said about a suicide bomber. When your character education scheme fails to distinguish between doctors and terrorists, heroes and villains, it would appear to have a basic flaw. Following the KIPP growth card protocol, Bernie Madoff’s character point average, for instance, would be stellar. He was, by most accounts, an extremely hard working, charming, wildly optimistic man.

This underscores how genuinely innovative performance-based character education is with respect to eschewing values, especially religiously and civically inspired values such as honesty and service. Kindness is spotlighted in the KIPP motto (“Work Hard, Be Nice”), but it is conspicuously absent from KIPP’s official list of seven character strengths. It is not an accident that KIPP’s list of character strengths does not include items with clear moral overtones. As Levin told Tough: “The thing that I think is great about the character-strength approach is that it is fundamentally devoid of value judgment. The inevitable problem with the values-and-ethics approach is that you get into, well, whose values? Whose ethics?”

The decision to avoid overt references to values was no doubt intended to avoid the potential minefields of the “culture wars.” The trouble is that values have a way of intruding on territory that is meant to be value-free. What happens when your list of character strengths excludes empathy, justice, and service? The basic principle of individual achievement rushes to the forefront, as if filling a vacuum. This is “tiger mother” territory here—a place where the “vulgar sense” of success prevails. Life is narrowed into an endless competition for money, status, and the next merit badge."



"If you click on the video at the top of the “Character” page on the KIPP website, you can watch a poignant clip of a parent describing how she wants her kids “to succeed” and to “have a better life.” KIPP and other similar schools are betting that the new character education will help students succeed academically and professionally. It is a risky bet, given how little we know about teaching character. It is also a bet without precedent, as there has never been a character education program so relentlessly focused on individual achievement and “objective accomplishments.” Gone are any traditional concerns with good and evil or citizenship and the commonweal. Gone, too, the impetus to bring youngsters into the fold of a community that is larger than themselves—a hopelessly outdated sentiment, according to the new character education evangelists. Virtue is no longer its own reward."
education  grit  kipp  2014  jeffreyaaronsnyder  psychology  angeladuckworth  virtue  kindness  ethics  values  schooling  schooliness  careerism  charactereducation  amorality  individualism  civics 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Humanity Surprised It Still Hasn’t Figured Out Better Alternative To Letting Power-Hungry Assholes Decide Everything | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
"Noting that it has had thousands of years to develop a more agreeable option, humankind expressed bewilderment this week that it has yet to devise a better alternative to governing itself than always letting power-hungry assholes run everything, sources worldwide reported.

Individuals in every country on earth voiced their frustration that, in spite of generations of mistreatment, neglect, and abuse they have suffered at the hands of those in positions of authority, they continue to allow control over the world’s governments, businesses, and virtually every other type of organization and social group to fall to the most megalomaniacal pricks among them.

“We’ve all seen what this system leads to, so you’d think that by now, someone, somewhere would have sat down and thought up another way to keep our societies functioning without giving all the power to arrogant, amoral dicks whose only concern is improving their own status,” said Mumbai software designer Ankan Rao, one of 7.1 billion humans who conveyed continued surprise that their species has so far proven incapable of formulating a method of governance that was even slightly more tolerable. “Everybody dislikes the people in charge and everybody knows they’re only serving their own personal agendas at the expense of everyone else, but we just keep allowing these jerks to make our decisions time and time again. And it’s not just here—it’s everywhere in the world.”

“Boy, maybe we shouldn’t do that anymore,” Rao added. “Anyone have any better ideas?”

Speaking with reporters, citizens across the planet unanimously expressed their bafflement at the consistency with which they either formally or informally select corrupt and self-obsessed sacks of shit for leadership roles in all facets of life, including positions atop corporate boards, judicial and legislative bodies, religious institutions, parent-teacher associations, the military, intramural softball teams, and international and national professional associations, as well as groups of friends deciding where to eat.

In addition, sources offered countless examples of the counterproductive and perplexing practice of entrusting power to the world’s least scrupulous individuals, ranging in scale from a domineering dictator who plunges his country into civil war in order to consolidate his power, to a Foot Locker shift manager who forces his subordinates to close up without him so that he can go home early.

Moreover, everyone across the planet acknowledged that the tradition of allowing an exploitative asshole to take charge of a given situation has been the principal system for group decision-making from the earliest formation of tribal societies to the present day, an admission that caused each member of the human race to either emit an exasperated sigh, shake his or her head, or mutter a profanity."
power  humor  satire  theonion  2014  careerism  authority  abuse 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Against Editors
[similar situation to education… teacher : writer :: administrator : editor]

"Here is the traditional career track for someone employed in journalism: first, you are a writer. If you hang on, and don't wash out, and manage not to get laid off, and don't alienate too many people, at some point you will be promoted to an editor position. It is really a two-step career journey, in the writing world. Writing, then editing. You don't have to accept a promotion to an editing position of course. You don't have to send your kids to college and pay a mortgage, necessarily. If you want to get regular promotions and raises, you will, for the most part, accept the fact that your path takes you away from writing and into editing, in some form. The number of pure writing positions that offer salaries as high as top editing positions is vanishingly small. Most well-paid writers are celebrities in the writing world. That is how few of them there are.

Here is the problem with this career path: writing and editing are two completely different skills. There are good writers who are terrible editors. (Indeed, some of the worst editors are good writers!) There are good editors who lack the creativity and antisocial personality disorders that would make them great writers. This is okay. This is natural. It is thoroughly unremarkable for an industry to have different positions that require different skill sets. The problem in the writing world is that, in order to move up, the writer must stop doing what he did well in the first place and transition into an editing job that he may or may not have any aptitude for. It is impossible to count how many great writers have made the dutiful step up the career ladder to become an editor and forsaken years of great stories that could have been written had they remained writers. Journalism's two-step career path is a tragedy, because it robs the world of many talented writers, who spend the latter half of their careers in the conceptual muddle of various editing positions.

It is also a farce. The grand traditional print media system—still seen today in top-tier magazines and newspapers—in which each writer's story is monkeyed with by a succession of ever more senior editors is, on the whole, a waste of time and resources. If you believe that having four editors edit a story produces a better story than having one editor edit a story, I submit that you have the small mind of a middle manager, and should be employed not in journalism but in something more appropriate for your numbers-based outlook on life, like carpet sales. Writing is not a field in which quantity produces quality. Writing is more often an endeavor in which the passion and vision of one person produces a piece of work that must then be defended against an onslaught of competing visions of a series of editors who did not actually write or report the story—but who have some great ideas on how it should be changed."



"When any industry fills itself with middle managers, those middle managers will quite naturally work to justify their own existence. The less their own existence is inherently necessary, the harder they will work to appear to be necessary. An editor who looks over a story and declares it to be fine is not demonstrating his own necessity. He is therefore placing himself in danger of being seen as unnecessary. Editors, therefore, tend to edit. Whether it is necessary or not.

This is not to say that editing is not a legitimate job. It is. It is also a necessary step in the writing process. But it is not the most important role in the writing process. That would be writing, which any honest editor will tell you is much harder than editing. (An editor who will not admit this is not worth listening to.) Reporting is a difficult chore. Writing is a psychologically agonizing struggle. Editing is not easy, but not as onerous as either of the two tasks that precede it. You would never know that, though, by looking at the relative salaries of the people who do the work."
journalism  writing  editing  administration  middlemanagement  administrativebloat  teaching  management  leadership  careers  careerism  2014  hamiltonnoland  thisisaboutteaching  education 
august 2014 by robertogreco
What Corporate Climbers Can Teach Us - WSJ
"The Manipulator: Influences others for own gain
Dark Side: Uses flattery to influence others. Deceives others to get desired results.
Silver Lining: Skilled in negotiating, enjoys combat. Good at forming political alliances.



Narcissist
Dark Side: Wants to be the center of attention. Uses appearance, charm to seek prestige and status.
Silver Lining: Pitches own ideas with enthusiasm, makes a good first impression.



Antisocial Personality: Unconcerned with others' feelings or welfare
Dark Side: Impulsive and thrill-seeking, tends toward antagonism.
Silver Lining: Tends to think creatively, tests limits."
personality  careerism  ambition  corporatism  2014  psychology  sociopaths  behavior  manipulation  narcissism  impulsivity  antagonism  attention  status 
july 2014 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
George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year - NYTimes.com
"You could call this desire — to really have that awareness, to be as open as possible, all the time, to beauty and cruelty and stupid human fallibility and unexpected grace — the George Saunders Experiment."

“He’s such a generous spirit, you’d be embarrassed to behave in a small way around him.”

“There’s no one who has a better eye for the absurd and dehumanizing parameters of our current culture of capital. But then the other side is how the cool rigor of his fiction is counterbalanced by this enormous compassion. Just how capacious his moral vision is sometimes gets lost, because few people cut as hard or deep as Saunders does.”

"the process of trying to say something, of working through craft issues and the worldview issues and the ego issues—all of this is character-building, and, God forbid, everything we do should have concrete career results. I’ve seen time and time again the way that the process of trying to say something dignifies and improves a person."

""...I don’t really think the humanist verities are quite enough. Because that would be crazy if they were. It would be so weird if we knew just as much as we needed to know to answer all the questions of the universe. Wouldn’t that be freaky? Whereas the probability is high that there is a vast reality that we have no way to perceive, that’s actually bearing down on us now and influencing everything. The idea of saying, ‘Well, we can’t see it, therefore we don’t need to see it,’ seems really weird to me.”"
struggle  progress  suicide  davidfosterwallace  canon  understanding  kindness  living  life  thinking  open  openminded  dignity  character  integrity  ideals  morality  humans  human  fallibility  aynrand  capitalism  careerism  compassion  junotdíaz  humanism  writing  economics  empathy  georgesaunders  2012  wisdom  storytelling 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Episode 253: Nils Norman : Bad at Sports
"Norman founded an experimental space called Poster Studio on Charing Cross Road, London. This space was a collaborative effort with Merlin Carpenter and Dan Mitchell. In 1998 in New York he set up Parasite, together with the artist Andrea Fraser, a collaborative artist led initiative that developed an archive for site-specific projects.

Norman now lives and works in London Copenhagen. He exhibits internationally in commercial galleries, museum, and in public and alternative spaces. He writes articles, designs book covers and posters, collaborates with other artists, teaches and lectures in European and the US. Norman completed a major design project: an 80m pedestrian bridge and two islands for Roskilde Commune in Denmark in 2005 and is now working together with Nicholas Hare Architects on a school playground project for the new Golden Lane Campus, East London. He has recently finished an artist residency at the University of Chicago, Chicago, USA."
dogooderism  academia  careerism  culture  readerbrothers  lauraowens  making  authenticity  values  trust  productivity  production  productionvalue  local  deschooling  unschooling  communities  dinnerparties  supperclubs  formalization  access  creativepractice  contradiction  mfa  lowresidencymfa  purpose  posterstudio  soprah  situationist  culturalspace  privatespaces  publicspace  institutionalization  bohemia  bohemians  cityasclassroom  cities  gentrification  josefstrau  stephandillemuth  economics  neoliberalism  richardflorida  socialpractice  denmark  chicago  site-specificprojects  roskildecommune  collaboration  arteducation  education  2010  artproduction  nilsnorman  colinward  explodingschool  artists  interviews  art 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Some Advice for Young People | The Awl
"2. Yes, you should not worry too much about the consequences and you should definitely quit your job that you hate and it'll probably all work out great. Job quitters are the happiest people around…

The soulless careerists, though: they get where they are because social training doesn't allow us to stop them. They depend upon our unwillingness to say "bad things" about people. But if you don't, who will?

It is incumbent upon you to put a fucking boot in the face of the soulless careerist.

When people ask you about them, tell the truth. Practice saying "They're useless and horrible." Practice saying "They're soulless careerists who don't care about anything or believe in anything and they're just using us all to get ahead at any cost." Practice telling the truth. They can't stand the exposure in the light of day. They can't keep stepping on people if their previous steppings-on are known. You'll all be happier in the long run."
advice  people  workpolitics  careerism  2012  careerists  choiresicha 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Be Somebody or Do Something
"Here's a curious paradox: the more you insist on sticking to a straight-&-narrow path defined by your own evolving principles, rather than the expedient one defined by current situation, the more you'll have to twist & turn in the real world. The straight path in your head turns into spaghetti in the real world.

On the other hand, the more your path through the real world seems like a straight road, defined by something like a "standard" career path/script, the more you'll have to twist & turn philosophically to justify your life to yourself. Every step that a true Golden Boy careerist takes, is marred by deep philosophical compromises. You sell your soul one career move at a time.

If you are driven by your own principles, you'll generally search desperately for a calling, and when you find one, it will consume your life. You'll be driven to actually produce, create or destroy. You'll want to do something that brings the world more into conformity with your own principles…"
careerism  careers  principles  cv  besomebody  dosomething  do  doing  vision  purpose  learning  adaptability  conformity  unschooling  deschooling  education  racetonowhere  well-being  philosophy  meaning  tcsnmy  truth  truth-seeking  identity  measurement  progress  life  wisdom  johnboyd 
february 2011 by robertogreco
more than 95 theses: Wendell Berry, Life Is a Miracle
“All of the disciplines are increasingly identifiable as professionalisms, which are increasingly conformable to the aims and standards of industrialism. All of the disciplines are failing the test of propriety because they are failing the test of locality. The professionals of the disciplines don’t care where they are. Though they are inescapably in context, they assume or pretend that they think and work without context. They subscribe to the preeminence of the mind and (logically from that) of the career. The questions of propriety, calling as they must for local answers, call necessarily for small answers. But small local answers are now as far beneath the notice of professionalism as of commercialism.” — Wendell Berry, Life Is a Miracle
wendellberry  commercialism  professionalism  local  localism  property  careers  careerism  disciplines  industrialism  industrialization  multidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  isolationism 
december 2010 by robertogreco
The Case for Working With Your Hands - NYTimes.com
"If the goal is to earn a living, then, maybe it isn’t really true that 18-year-olds need to be imparted with a sense of panic about getting into college. Some people are hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, against their own inclinations and natural bents, when they would rather be learning to build things or fix things." ... "Those who work on the lower rungs of the information-age office hierarchy face their own kinds of unreality, as I learned some time ago." ... "A good job requires a field of action where you can put your best capacities to work and see an effect in the world. Academic credentials do not guarantee this." ... "The visceral experience of failure seems to have been edited out of the career trajectories of gifted students. It stands to reason, then, that those who end up making big decisions that affect all of us don’t seem to have much sense of their own fallibility, and of how badly things can go wrong even with the best of intentions"

[so much here to quote, see also: http://www.slate.com/id/2218650/pagenum/all/ ]
education  learning  well-being  life  cv  making  doing  crisis  highereducation  colleges  universities  middlemanagement  matthewcrawford  alternative  careers  unschooling  deschooling  careerism  society  class  failure  moralhazard  credentials  gradschool  degrees  meaning  happiness  fulfillment  economics  mechanics  macroeconomics  philosophy 
may 2009 by robertogreco

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