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You Can’t Ruin Your Kids | Alliance for Self-Directed Education
"Why parenting matters less than we think"



"What Parents Can Do
Harris moves on to tackle specific issues concerning teenagers, gender differences, and dysfunctional families. She holds fast to her thesis, marshaling massive evidence for the influence of peer groups and genetics over parents and home environment.

It’s not that parents and home life don’t matter, she constantly reminds us — they obviously do matter in the short-run, because kids do react to their parents’ actions and expectations — but rather that life at home is just a temporary stop in the child’s journey, and the parents are temporary influencers. The direct effects of parenting that you believe you observe in your kids are either (1) simply your genes expressing themselves or (2) are temporary behavioral adjustments made by children, soon to be cast off when they enter the peer world “as easily as the dorky sweater their mother made them wear.”

So what can parents do, beyond carefully choosing a peer group (as discussed above)? Harris ends her book with an entire chapter dedicated to this question.

Some things that parents do — like teaching language to their young children — don’t hurt. That means that the child “does not have to learn it all over again in order to converse with her peers — assuming, of course, that her peers speak English.” Harris continues:

The same is true for other behaviors, skills, and knowledge. Children bring to the peer group much of what they learned at home, and if it agrees with what the other kids learned at home they are likely to retain it. Children also learn things at home that they do not bring to the peer group, and these may be retained even if they are different from what their peers learned. Some things just don’t come up in the context of the peer group. This is true nowadays of religion. Unless they attend a religious school, practicing a religion is something children don’t do with their peers: they do it with their parents. That is why parents still have some power to give their kids their religion. Parents have some power to impart any aspect of their culture that involves things done in the home; cooking is a good example. Anything learned at home and kept at home — not scrutinized by the peer group — may be passed on from parents to their kids.

Religion, cooking, political beliefs, musical talents, and career plans: Harris concedes that parents do influence their kids in these areas. But only because these are essentially interests and hobbies, not character traits. If you had a personal friend living with you for 18 years, their favorite meals, political beliefs, and career plans might rub off on you, too.

If your kid is getting bullied or falling in with the wrong crowd, you can move. You can switch schools. You can homeschool. These actions matter, because they affect the peer group.

You can help your kid from being typecast in negative ways by their peer group. You can help them look as normal and attractive as possible:

“Normal” means dressing the child in the same kind of clothing the other kids are wearing. “Attractive” means things like dermatologists for the kid with bad skin and orthodontists for the one whose teeth came in crooked. And, if you can afford it or your health insurance will cover it, plastic surgery for any serious sort of facial anomaly. Children don’t want to be different, and for good reason: oddness is not considered a virtue in the peer group. Even giving a kid a weird or silly name can put him at a disadvantage.

In Self-Directed Education circles where “being yourself” is holy mantra, such “conformist” concessions can be looked down upon. But Harris encourages us to remember what it is actually like to be a child: how powerfully we desire to fit in with our peers. Be kind to your children, Harris suggests, and don’t give them outlandish names, clothing, or grooming. Give them what they need to feel secure, even when that thing feels highly conformist.

Harris offers just a few small pieces of common-sense advice. There’s not much in the way of traditional “do this, not that” parenting guidance. But her final and most significant message is yet to come.

Saving the Parent-Child Relationship
My favorite quote from The Nurture Assumption introduces Harris’ approach to thinking about parent-child relationships:

People sometimes ask me, “So you mean it doesn’t matter how I treat my child?” They never ask, “So you mean it doesn’t matter how I treat my husband?” or “So you mean it doesn’t matter how I treat my wife?” And yet the situation is similar. I don’t expect that the way I act toward my husband today is going to determine what kind of person he will be tomorrow. I do expect, however, that it will affect how happy he is to live with me and whether we will remain good friends.

While a spouse and a child are clearly not the same — a spouse has a similar level of lifetime experience to you, they are voluntarily chosen, and they (hopefully) don’t share your genes — Harris holds up marriage as a better relationship model than one we typically employ as parents.

You can learn things from the person you’re married to. Marriage can change your opinions and influence your choice of a career or a religion. But it doesn’t change your personality, except in temporary, context-dependent ways.

Yes, the parent-child relationship is important. But it’s not terribly different from a relationship with a spouse, sibling, or dear friend. In those relationships we don’t assume that we can (or should) control that person or how they “turn out.” Yet with children, we do.

Implicit in this analysis is a powerful message: Children are their own people, leading their own lives, worthy of basic respect. They are not dolls, chattel, or people through whom we might live our unfulfilled dreams. Just because parents are older, have more experience, and share genes with our children doesn’t give us long-term power or real control over them. That is the attitude that leads to the bullying, condescension, and micromanaging that scars too many parent-child relationships.

But while she calls for relinquishing a sense of control, Harris isn’t onboard with highly permissive parenting (what some call “unparenting”) either:
Parents are meant to be dominant over their children. They are meant to be in charge. But nowadays they are so hesitant about exerting their authority — a hesitancy imposed upon them by the advice-givers — that it is difficult for them to run the home in an effective manner. . . . The experiences of previous generations show that it is possible to rear well-adjusted children without making them feel that they are the center of the universe or that a time-out is the worst thing that could happen to them if they disobey. Parents know better than their children and should not feel diffident about telling them what to do. Parents, too, have a right to a happy and peaceful home life. In traditional societies, parents are not pals. They are not playmates. The idea that parents should have to entertain their children is bizarre to people in these societies. They would fall down laughing if you tried to tell them about “quality time.”


The message again is: Think of the parent-child relationship more like that of a healthy friendship or marriage. Hold them to a normal standards. Be frank and direct with them. Don’t worry about constantly entertaining them or monitoring their emotions. And whenever possible, Harris, says enjoy yourself! “Parents are meant to enjoy parenting. If you are not enjoying it, maybe you’re working too hard.”

In the end, Harris wants to free us from the guilt, anxiety, and fear that plagues so much of modern parenting, largely bred from the “advice-givers” who have convinced us that parenting is a science and you’re responsible for its outcomes:
You’ve followed their advice and where has it got you? They’ve made you feel guilty if you don’t love all your children equally, though it’s not your fault if nature made some kids more lovable than others. They’ve made you feel guilty if you don’t give them enough quality time, though your kids seem to prefer to spend their quality time with their friends. They’ve made you feel guilty if you don’t give your kids two parents, one of each sex, though there is no unambiguous evidence that it matters in the long run. They’ve made you feel guilty if you hit your child, though big hominids have been hitting little ones for millions of years. Worst of all, they’ve made you feel guilty if anything goes wrong with your child. It’s easy to blame parents for everything: they’re sitting ducks. Fair game ever since Freud lit his first cigar.


Take care of the basics. Give your kid a home and keep them healthy. Connect them to positive peer groups. Teach them what you can. Build a home life that works for everyone. Try to enjoy the person who your child is. Do your best to build a bond between child and parent that will last for a lifetime. This is what Judith Rich Harris says we can do.

But when it comes to influencing your child’s behavior, personality, attitudes, and knowledge in the long run: stop. Recognize how little impact you have, give up the illusion of control, and relax. We can neither perfect nor ruin our children, Harris says: “They are not yours to perfect or ruin: they belong to tomorrow.”"
blakeboles  parenting  children  nature  nurture  environment  naturenurture  genetics  relationships  respect  peers  conformity  social  youth  adolescence  religion  belonging  authority  authoritarianism  marriage  society  schools  schooling  education  learning  internet  online  youtube  web  socialmedia  influence  bullying  condescension  micromanagement  judithrichharris  books  toread  canon  culture  class  youthculture 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Getting Others Right - The New York Times
"A woman holds a little dog in the crook of her arm. Her sleeveless open-necked top is richly patterned. She wears lipstick, earrings, a bangle. The dog, a puppy perhaps, is both alert and relaxed, looking directly at the camera, just as the woman does. The photograph has such an informal mood, such disarming warmth, that we might suppose it had been made recently, were it not in antique-looking black and white. It’s wonderful when an old picture lets us in like this, obliterating the distance between its then and our now.

The woman in this photograph was named Trecil Poolaw Unap, and the photographer was her brother, Horace Poolaw. They were Kiowa, born and raised in Oklahoma. Horace Poolaw made the photograph in 1928, near the beginning of a career in which he went on to become an avid photographer of Native American life. His photographs, some of which he sold at fairs, often came with a stamp: “A Poolaw Photo, Pictures by an Indian, Horace M. Poolaw, Anadarko, Okla.” It was clear that he wanted to assert that these were pictures with a particular point of view.

Compare the portrait by Poolaw with a few made in the same decade by the most famous photographer of Native Americans, Edward S. Curtis. Curtis’s portraits look different because they were intended for publication in “The North American Indian,” a hugely expensive and intricate photographic undertaking that occupied him for decades. The project was championed by Theodore Roosevelt and financially supported by J.P. Morgan. There’s a portrait of a Hupa woman wearing fur and beads, another of an elderly Cheyenne man in a feathered headdress, yet another of a female Hupa shaman. The lined faces and stoic expressions of these sitters, as well as their “traditional” regalia, announce them as types. They are in keeping with the hope Curtis expressed in the General Introduction to his project: “Rather than being designed for mere embellishment, the photographs are each an illustration of an Indian character or of some vital phase in his existence.”

There’s no denying the meticulous beauty of Curtis’s pictures (and there are thousands of them: The project, published between 1907 and 1930, ran to 20 volumes). But his approach, as laid out in his introduction, was precisely the opposite of Horace Poolaw’s, and it shows: When we look at Trecil Poolaw Unap with her dog, with her ironic smile, we don’t think of her as an “illustration of an Indian character,” nor do we surmise that she is caught in some “vital phase” of her existence. A certain ease and immediacy sets her apart from the beautiful but frozen characters that populate Curtis’s work.

The case of Edward S. Curtis is complex. He was no dilettante: He made serious ethnographic studies of indigenous communities, from the Piegan of the Great Plains to the Kwakiutl of Vancouver Island. And in the 1920s in New Mexico, he became involved in political initiatives that sought to defend Native Americans against government control. But the general tenor of his work idealized Native Americans in the name of preserving vanishing ways of life. He was not above removing, through later photographic manipulation, an offending clock from a carefully arranged scene. Curtis, a knowledgeable and determined man, knew exactly how he liked his Indians.

Horace Poolaw, in contrast, made pictures that were great in their testimonial simplicity and democracy of vision; a relaxed group of Kiowa and Cherokee deacons in slacks and jackets, his son Jerry on leave from Navy duty in his sailor’s uniform and a feathered headdress. Curtis, meanwhile, was inclined to invent scenarios, expunging inconvenient details in order to emphasize a concept of primitivism. One photographer thus gave us lively pictures of life as it was being lived, and the other, at much greater cost and with much more ambition, ended up delivering stilted images of dubious value. Is the lesson here that the truth of a given community can only be delivered by an insider?

A century on, the conundrum remains. There are now many Native American photographers doing outstanding work, bringing to their seeing all the advantages of insider knowledge. Brian Adams is an Inuit photographer of Inuit culture, with a body of work characterized by inquisitiveness and joy. Some of the most rousing photographs of the Standing Rock protests were taken by Josué Rivas, who is Mexica, and Camille Seaman, of the Shinnecock tribe.

But for outsiders to any culture, the situation remains tricky. Take the British photographer Jimmy Nelson, whose “Before They Pass Away” was published as a lush large-format coffee table book in 2013 and has since become ubiquitous in bookstores around the world. “Before They Pass Away” is made explicitly in homage to Edward S. Curtis, whom Nelson often cites as a hero. It proceeds from the same idea as Curtis’s: that certain peoples, on the verge of disappearing, must be captured in illustrative, archetypal photographs. “Before They Pass Away” is accordingly full of postcard-pretty images of the Mursi in Ethiopia, the Huaorani in Ecuador, the Dani in Indonesia. The sitters look out mutely from Nelson’s ark, and scant concession is made to the fact of their contemporaneity. They occasionally tote guns, but do they use boat engines or watch television? If they have any mobile phones, they’re hidden away. What we get, instead, is feathers, fur, cowrie shells, leaves and lots of body paint.

Like Curtis — but without Curtis’s ethnographic rigor — Nelson places his subjects in a permanent anthropological past, erasing their present material and political realities. He is sentimental about those he photographs and often proclaims their beauty, but having invested himself so deeply in the idea of their “disappearance,” he is unable to believe that they are not going anywhere, that they are simply adapting to the modern world. No wonder he is flummoxed by the various tribal leaders who have protested the inaccuracy of his pictures.

What a relief it is then to consider a markedly different project, by the American photographer Daniella Zalcman. In 2016, she published “Signs of Your Identity,” a book featuring First Nations Canadians. But by her own admission, she had a false start. For a month in 2014, Zalcman (who, I should mention, was an acquaintance of mine in college, though I only recently re-encountered her through her work) photographed indigenous Canadians who were struggling with substance abuse and H.I.V. The images she came away with, she thought, risked further stigmatizing the community. When she returned the following year, she began to explore a different story, one that was urgent but that also allowed her to focus on individual experience.

That project was about indigenous people who had been forced to attend Canada’s Indian Residential Schools during the 19th century (the last of which closed only in 1996). Young children were taken from their families and placed in these institutions to enforce their assimilation into mainstream Canadian culture. Indigenous languages were suppressed, and physical and sexual assaults were common. Zalcman interviewed several dozen people, of varying ages, who had spent time in these schools and were haunted by their memories.

Zalcman’s challenge was how to make these memories visible. Her solution, as old-fashioned as it was elegant, was to make double exposures, joining two instants into one by overlaying images of places with portraits of people. She presented these double exposures with written fragments of her interviews with the sitters. Looking at the doubled images, you imagine that the mind of the person pictured is literally occupied by space on which it is overlaid: the decrepit school buildings, the grass where a demolished school once stood. But you also sense that this could be you, that these images are not a report on tribal peculiarities but on the workings of human memory. Uncertain about her right to shape the story, Zalcman lets the subjects speak for themselves. This hesitancy is productive: She manages to accomplish quietly forceful reportage from material that could easily have been sensationalized.

Sympathy is often not enough. It can be condescending. But taking on the identity of others, appropriating what is theirs, is invasive and frequently violent. I have heard appropriation defended on the grounds that we have a responsibility to tell one another’s stories and must be free to do so. This is a seductive but flawed argument. The responsibility toward other people’s stories is real and inescapable, but that doesn’t mean that appropriation is the way to satisfy that responsibility. In fact, the opposite is true: Telling the stories in which we are complicit outsiders has to be done with imagination and skepticism. It might require us not to give up our freedom, but to prioritize justice over freedom. It is not about taking something that belongs to someone else and making it serve you but rather about recognizing that history is brutal and unfinished and finding some way, within that recognition, to serve the dispossessed.

Photography is particularly treacherous when it comes to righting wrongs, because it is so good at recording appearances. Capturing how things look fools us into thinking that we’ve captured their truth. But appearance is bare fact. Combined with intuition, scrupulous context and moral intelligence, it has a chance to become truth. Unalloyed, it is worse than nothing."
tejucole  photography  2017  ethnography  othering  time  memory  appropriation  edwardcurtis  horacepoolaw  nativeamericans  jimmynelson  sympathy  daniellazalcman  storytelling  condescension  context  dispossession  identity  complexity  memories 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Hating Comic Sans Is Ableist
"The line of thinking behind anti-Comic Sans movements is elitist, belittling, and condescending"



"There are fonts that have been specifically created for people with dyslexia, all of which lack the clean minimalism or elegant balance and perfect kerning favored by typography snobs. But they are crucial disability aids. Some are free, such as Lexie Readable (which calls itself “Comic Sans for grown-ups”), Open-Dyslexic, and Dyslexie. Others are for purchase or are publisher-owned and unavailable to the general public.

But for Jessica, Comic Sans is still the best. “I don’t use Open Dyslexic because it’s not as easy for me to read,” Jessica says. “It’s not my font. I was dyslexic before Open Dyslexic happened. My mind has been getting used to Comic Sans.”"
ableism  comicsans  laurenhudgins  2017  accessibility  elitism  condescension 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Trump: Tribune Of Poor White People | The American Conservative
"My grandma (Mamaw) recognized this instinctively. She said that most people were probably prejudiced, but they had to be secretive about it. “We”–meaning hillbillies–“are the only group of people you don’t have to be ashamed to look down upon.” During my final year at Yale Law, I took a small class with a professor I really admired (and still do). was the only veteran in the class, and when this came up somehow in conversation, a young woman looked at me and said, “I can’t believe you were in the Marines. You just seem so nice. I thought that people in the military had to act a certain way.” It was incredibly insulting, and it was my first real introduction to the idea that this institution that was so important among my neighbors was looked down upon in such a personal way. To this lady, to be in the military meant that you had to be some sort of barbarian.



"At the same time, the hostility between the working class and the elites is so great that there will always be some wariness toward those who go to the other side. And can you blame them? A lot of these people know nothing but judgment and condescension from those with financial and political power, and the thought of their children acquiring that same hostility is noxious. It may just be the sort of value we have to live with.

The odd thing is, the deeper I get into elite culture, the more I see value in this reverse snobbery. It’s the great privilege of my life that I’m deep enough into the American elite that I can indulge a little anti-elitism. Like I said, it keeps you grounded, if nothing else! But it would have been incredibly destructive to indulge too much of it when I was 18.



the point that the meta-narrative of the 2016 election is learned helplessness as a political value. We’re no longer a country that believes in human agency, and as a formerly poor person, I find it incredibly insulting. To hear Trump or Clinton talk about the poor, one would draw the conclusion that they have no power to affect their own lives. Things have been done to them, from bad trade deals to Chinese labor competition, and they need help. And without that help, they’re doomed to lives of misery they didn’t choose.

Obviously, the idea that there aren’t structural barriers facing both the white and black poor is ridiculous. Mamaw recognized that our lives were harder than rich white people, but she always tempered her recognition of the barriers with a hard-noses willfulness: “never be like those a–holes who think the deck is stacked against them.” In hindsight, she was this incredibly perceptive woman. She recognized the message my environment had for me, and she actively fought against it.

There’s good research on this stuff. Believing you have no control is incredibly destructive, and that may be especially true when you face unique barriers. The first time I encountered this idea was in my exposure to addiction subculture, which is quite supportive and admirable in its own way, but is full of literature that speaks about addiction as a disease. If you spend a day in these circles, you’ll hear someone say something to the effect of, “You wouldn’t judge a cancer patient for a tumor, so why judge an addict for drug use.” This view is a perfect microcosm of the problem among poor Americans. On the one hand, the research is clear that there are biological elements to addiction–in that way, it does mimic a disease. On the other hand, the research is also clear that people who believe their addiction is a biologically mandated disease show less ability to resist it. It’s this awful catch-22, where recognizing the true nature of the problem actually hinders the ability to overcome.

Interestingly, both in my conversations with poor blacks and whites, there’s a recognition of the role of better choices in addressing these problems. The refusal to talk about individual agency is in some ways a consequence of a very detached elite, one too afraid to judge and consequently too handicapped to really understand. At the same time, poor people don’t like to be judged, and a little bit of recognition that life has been unfair to them goes a long way. Since Hillbilly Elegy came out, I’ve gotten so many messages along the lines of: “Thank you for being sympathetic but also honest.”

I think that’s the only way to have this conversation and to make the necessary changes: sympathy and honesty. It’s not easy, especially in our politically polarized world, to recognize both the structural and the cultural barriers that so many poor kids face. But I think that if you don’t recognize both, you risk being heartless or condescending, and often both.



[to liberals:] stop pretending that every problem is a structural problem, something imposed on the poor from the outside. I see a significant failure on the Left to understand how these problems develop. They see rising divorce rates as the natural consequence of economic stress. Undoubtedly, that’s partially true. Some of these family problems run far deeper. They see school problems as the consequence of too little money (despite the fact that the per pupil spend in many districts is quite high), and ignore that, as a teacher from my hometown once told me, “They want us to be shepherds to these kids, but they ignore that many of them are raised by wolves.” Again, they’re not all wrong: certainly some schools are unfairly funded. But there’s this weird refusal to deal with the poor as moral agents in their own right. In some cases, the best that public policy can do is help people make better choices, or expose them to better influences through better family policy (like my Mamaw).

There was a huge study that came out a couple of years ago, led by the Harvard economist Raj Chetty. He found that two of the biggest predictors of low upward mobility were 1) living in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty and 2) growing up in a neighborhood with a lot of single mothers. I recall that some of the news articles about the study didn’t even mention the single mother conclusion. That’s a massive oversight! Liberals have to get more comfortable with dealing with the poor as they actually are. I admire their refusal to look down on the least among us, but at some level, that can become an excuse to never really look at the problem at all.



Well, I think it’s important to point out that Christianity, in the quirky way I’ve experienced it, was really important to me, too. For my dad, the way he tells it is that he was a hard partier, he drank a lot, and didn’t have a lot of direction. His Christian faith gave him focus, forced him to think hard about his personal choices, and gave him a community of people who demanded, even if only implicitly, that he act a certain way. I think we all understate the importance of moral pressure, but it helped my dad, and it has certainly helped me! There’s obviously a more explicitly religious argument here, too. If you believe as I do, you believe that the Holy Spirit works in people in a mysterious way. I recognize that a lot of secular folks may look down on that, but I’d make one important point: that not drinking, treating people well, working hard, and so forth, requires a lot of willpower when you didn’t grow up in privilege. That feeling–whether it’s real or entirely fake–that there’s something divine helping you and directing your mind and body, is extraordinarily powerful.

General Chuck Krulak, a former commandant of the Marine Corps, once said that the most important thing the Corps does for the country is “win wars and make Marines.” I didn’t understand that statement the first time I heard it, but for a kid like me, the Marine Corps was basically a four-year education in character and self-management. The challenges start small–running two miles, then three, and more. But they build on each other. If you have good mentors (and I certainly did), you are constantly given tasks, yelled at for failing, advised on how not to fail next time, and then given another try. You learn, through sheer repetition, that you can do difficult things. And that was quite revelatory for me. It gave me a lot of self-confidence. If I had learned helplessness from my environment back home, four years in the Marine Corps taught me something quite different.



After so many years of Republican politicians refusing to even talk about factory closures, Trump’s message is an oasis in the desert. But of course he spent way too much time appealing to people’s fears, and he offered zero substance for how to improve their lives. It was Trump at his best and worst.

My biggest fear with Trump is that, because of the failures of the Republican and Democratic elites, the bar for the white working class is too low. They’re willing to listen to Trump about rapist immigrants and banning all Muslims because other parts of his message are clearly legitimate. A lot of people think Trump is just the first to appeal to the racism and xenophobia that were already there, but I think he’s making the problem worse.

The other big problem I have with Trump is that he has dragged down our entire political conversation. It’s not just that he inflames the tribalism of the Right; it’s that he encourages the worst impulses of the Left. In the past few weeks, I’ve heard from so many of my elite friends some version of, “Trump is the racist leader all of these racist white people deserve.” These comments almost always come from white progressives who know literally zero culturally working class Americans. And I’m always left thinking: if this is the quality of thought of a Harvard Law graduate, then our society is truly doomed. In a world of Trump, we’ve abandoned the pretense of persuasion. The November election strikes me as little more than a referendum on whose tribe is bigger."
donaldtrump  us  elections  2016  politics  poverty  roddreher  jdvance  agency  personalagency  race  economics  policy  optimism  bias  hostility  elitism  tribalism  progressives  liberals  resilience  military  christianity  structure  discipline  willpower  mentors  self-management  character  education  society  class  judgement  condescension  helplessness  despair  learnedhelplessness  sympathy  honesty  rajchetty  snobbery  complexity 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions
"IN SUM, THE West’s establishment credibility is dying, and their influence is precipitously eroding — all deservedly so. The frenetic pace of online media makes even the most recent events feel distant, like ancient history. That, in turn, makes it easy to lose sight of how many catastrophic and devastating failures Western elites have produced in a remarkably short period of time.

In 2003, U.S. and British elites joined together to advocate one of the most heinous and immoral aggressive wars in decades: the destruction of Iraq; that it turned out to be centrally based on falsehoods that were ratified by the most trusted institutions, as well as a complete policy failure even on its own terms, gutted public trust.

In 2008, their economic worldview and unrestrained corruption precipitated a global economic crisis that literally caused, and is still causing, billions of people to suffer — in response, they quickly protected the plutocrats who caused the crisis while leaving the victimized masses to cope with the generational fallout. Even now, Western elites continue to proselytize markets and impose free trade and globalization without the slightest concern for the vast inequality and destruction of economic security those policies generate."



"Because that reaction is so self-protective and self-glorifying, many U.S. media elites — including those who knew almost nothing about Brexit until 48 hours ago — instantly adopted it as their preferred narrative for explaining what happened, just as they’ve done with Trump, Corbyn, Sanders, and any number of other instances where their entitlement to rule has been disregarded. They are so persuaded of their own natural superiority that any factions who refuse to see it and submit to it prove themselves, by definition, to be regressive, stunted, and amoral."



"BUT THERE’S SOMETHING deeper and more interesting driving the media reaction here. Establishment journalistic outlets are not outsiders. They’re the opposite: They are fully integrated into elite institutions, are tools of those institutions, and thus identify fully with them. Of course they do not share, and cannot understand, anti-establishment sentiments: They are the targets of this establishment-hating revolt as much as anyone else. These journalists’ reaction to this anti-establishment backlash is a form of self-defense. As NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen put it last night, “Journalists today report on hostility to the political class, as if they had nothing to do with it,” but they are a key part of that political class and, for that reason, “if the population — or part of it — is in revolt against the political class, this is a problem for journalism.”

There are many factors explaining why establishment journalists now have almost no ability to stem the tide of anti-establishment rage, even when it’s irrational and driven by ignoble impulses. Part of it is that the internet and social media have rendered them irrelevant, unnecessary to disseminate ideas. Part of it is that — due to their distance from them — they have nothing to say to people who are suffering and angry about it other than to scorn them as hateful losers. Part of it is that journalists — like anyone else — tend to react with bitterness and rage, not self-assessment, as they lose influence and stature.

But a major factor is that many people recognize that establishment journalists are an integral part of the very institutions and corrupted elite circles that are authors of their plight. Rather than being people who mediate or inform these political conflicts, journalists are agents of the forces that are oppressing them. And when journalists react to their anger and suffering by telling them that it’s invalid and merely the byproduct of their stupidity and primitive resentments, that only reinforces the perception that journalists are their enemy, thus rendering journalistic opinion increasingly irrelevant.

Brexit — despite all of the harm it is likely to cause and despite all of the malicious politicians it will empower — could have been a positive development. But that would require that elites (and their media outlets) react to the shock of this repudiation by spending some time reflecting on their own flaws, analyzing what they have done to contribute to such mass outrage and deprivation, in order to engage in course correction. Exactly the same potential opportunity was created by the Iraq debacle, the 2008 financial crisis, the rise of Trumpism and other anti-establishment movements: This is all compelling evidence that things have gone very wrong with those who wield the greatest power, that self-critique in elite circles is more vital than anything.

But, as usual, that’s exactly what they most refuse to do. Instead of acknowledging and addressing the fundamental flaws within themselves, they are devoting their energies to demonizing the victims of their corruption, all in order to de-legitimize those grievances and thus relieve themselves of responsibility to meaningfully address them. That reaction only serves to bolster, if not vindicate, the animating perceptions that these elite institutions are hopelessly self-interested, toxic, and destructive and thus cannot be reformed but rather must be destroyed. That, in turn, only ensures that there will be many more Brexits, and Trumps, in our collective future."
glenngreenald  economics  europe  politics  brexit  2016  vincentbevins  michaelsandel  elitism  garyyounge  ianjack  jeremycorbyn  hillaryclinton  donaltrump  neoliberalism  policy  government  eu  uk  us  establishment  inequality  greatrecession  2008  freemarket  markets  finance  refugees  iraq  libya  tonyblair  financialcrisis  disenfranchisement  alienation  corruption  journalism  media  jayrosen  class  classism  globalization  insularity  oppression  authority  berniesanders  christopherhayes  capitalism  nationalism  racism  xenophobia  condescension  michaeltracey  authoritarianism  fascism 
june 2016 by robertogreco
#TheDress and the Rise of Attention-Policing - The Atlantic
"This is a line of logic that will be familiar from most any Meme Event—the logic that says, basically, "don’t look at that; that is unimportant." It’s attention-policing, and it’s reminiscent of so many other strains of rhetorical legislation that play out in online conversations: You can’t say that. You can’t talk about that. GUYS, the attention-policer usually begins. How can you be talking about a dress/a leg/a pair of llamas/a dancing neoprene shark when climate change/net neutrality/marriage equality/ISIS/China/North Korea is going on?

The world, to be sure, is a complicated and often tragic and often deeply unfair place. It contains famines and genocides and war, births and deaths, Katy Perry and Björk, Big Macs and kale and Bloomin' Onions, privilege and the lack of it, llamas that are caged and llamas that are free. And we humans—animals who are striving to be so much more—have a big say in the balance between the good and the bad. We should not be glib about any of that. Nor should we lose sight of the fact that, if you find yourself with the ability to use the most transformational communications platform the world has ever known to engage in debates about the color of a dress being sold on Amazon dot com, you are, fundamentally, extremely privileged. And thus in a better position than most to make the world better. Attention is a valuable thing; we have an obligation to be selective about where we direct it.

And yet. The problem with attention-policing—besides the fact that it tends to be accompanied by humorlessness and marmery, and besides the other fact that it serves mostly to amplify the ego of the person doing the policing—is that it undermines the value of Internet memes themselves. Those memes, whether they involve #thedress or #llamadrama or #leftshark or #whathaveyou, are culturally lubricating. They create, and reinforce, the imagined community. Last night, we needed each other—not just to share and joke and laugh, but also to prove to ourselves that we weren’t going completely crazy. “TELL ME WHAT COLOR THIS DRESS IS,” I texted a friend. “OKAY, PHEW,” I texted again, when he saw it as white-and-gold. I also, on the other hand, mock-disowned a significant percentage of the people I love in a haze of #whiteandgold partisanship—but even that kind of faux-fighting has its value. Theorists of play, from Huizinga to Piaget, have pointed out how powerful the infrastructures of games can be. They allow us to explore ideas and bond in a mutually-agreed-upon environment. Jane McGonigal, the game designer and theorist, suggests that the alternate universes provided by video games allow us to think in terms of collaboration and problem-solving. Games’ constraints, she argues, are actually empowering.

And what are memes if not games? They are small; they are low-stakes; they are often silly. (Sorry, #llamadrama.) But they are also communal. They invite us to participate, to adapt, to joke, to create something together, under the auspices of the same basic rules. That is not a small thing. That is, in fact, a huge thing—particularly when it comes to the very concerns the attention police like to remind us of. If we have any hope of solving the world’s most systemic and sweeping problems, we will have to come together. Inequality, climate change, injustices both enormous and less so … these will require cooperative action. They will require us to collaborate and compromise and value diversity. The dress makes a pretty good metaphor for all that. Also, it is totally white and gold."
attention  megangarber  2015  attentionpolicing  #thedress  memes  games  play  seriousness  condescension  marmery  humor  humorlessness  playfulness  culture  society  twitter  internet  web  online  compromise  collaboration  problemsolving  interaction  community  cooperation 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Damian Bariexca on Twitter: "Two must-read blog posts for my #LTPS friends by @chrislehmann (http://t.co/GVPN7L2QQe) and @garystager (http://t.co/M4QJe4UVdH). Thoughts?"
Damian Bariexca: "Two must-read blog posts for my #LTPS friends by @chrislehmann (http://practicaltheory.org/blog/2014/11/20/curriculum-design-putting-the-horse-before-the-cart/ …) and @garystager (http://stager.tv/blog/?p=3408 ). Thoughts?"

[Pointing here for the subsequent back-and-forth between Chris Lehmann and Gary Stager (selectively chosen here), including a couple of comments from Ira Socol.

I share Gary's philosophy of education much more than that of Chris Lehmann's and I admire Gary's knowledge and body of work, but Gary's condescending tone often does his attempts to convince others a disservice. He frequently dismisses others with snide remarks and belittling comments. Gary also falls into self-aggrandizement. For example, complaining the other day that *he* hadn't ever been invited to the White House* (see end for references). So, while I don't share Chris's interest and preference for structure (more the type and source of structure than the presence of structure), I agree with his responses here, especially regarding the day-to-day realities of progressive schools and the need for measures to make working in them sustainable. That's why the majority of the tweets quoted here come from him. Notes added.]

Chris Lehmann: "Gary's a great revolutionary but a lousy policy-maker. Sooner or later, the May Day speeches need to lead somewhere."
[I would love to see Gary get off the workshop and conference circuit and start a school to show others how his approach and philosophy can be the core program of a school and stay intact over time.] https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535788736374910976

"Gary, I think you fundamentally underestimate the need for useful structures to help teachers teach this way." [I'd add that there is also a fundamental underestimation of the day-to-day toll that countercurrents have on those in progressive schools.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867057074872320

"It isn't just about workshops. It's about sustaining the effort over years and finding ways to keep getting better." [Standalone workshops, events, or summer classes are one reality that is often embraced. A core progressive/constructivist/constructionist program is something different altogether and it comes with an unrelenting set of apprehensions, anxieties, doubts, ambivalence, undermining, and accusations from adults who aren't fully committed.] https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867165208231936

"And you, too often, downplay any effort to create structure because of your own dislike of structure. But that is+"
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867291507130368

"too much about you, and not enough about the people you would support - teachers and students. The many failures of+" [Here Chris calls Gary out for making things about him. I have seen this too. For example, rather than critiquing what went on during #FutureReady and suggesting others (day-to-day educators) who should have been there, he griped about not being included, placing himself at the center of the conversation.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867469966352384

"progressive schools that had beautiful visions and insufficient roadmaps toward implementation and therefore suffered"
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867633892347904

"mission drift and founder fatigue, and in time, regressed to the mean is the thing we work daily to avoid. Thus, the+" [Regression to the mean. I've seen that happen in a school. I know of many other schools where that has happened. And sometimes I wonder if it's even worth the while to work in a progressive school rather than focus my energy on supporting those that opt out of school altogether.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867774846119936

"need for thoughtful systems and structures that help good people do the work together through reflective practice."
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867907071541248

"I impune nothing, Gary. I think you are brilliant. I also think you let the perfect being the enemy of the good." [Agreed. There is no need to pit one school against the other. Again, why not create a new school (or lea an existing school) as an example rather than cut down those that are doing their best, aligned with their philosophy? I often say that I have no problem with traditional schools as long as they own what they are doing and don't belittle what others are doing through direct comparison or bashing.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535881338604498945

"not discredit. Merely speak to different experiences. Everything I do is toward SLA as a sustainable structure."
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535881898250473473

"I do not reduce your work. I'm tired of you reducing ours. We at SLA believe in more structure than you. We know." [Here Chris is owning what he believes and what he tries to deliver at SLA. So much respect.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535884701266092032

Ira Socol: "the everyday is very different. It just is" [This. The everyday cannot be compared to workshops, camps, conferences, theory, etc. It's also dangerous to hide (by not sharing or by implying that everything is unanimously embraced by the adults in the community) the very vocal contrary voices that begin to appear when implementing a constuctionist program as the core school day.]
https://twitter.com/irasocol/status/535885352788303872

Gary Stager: "I don't think balance is the goal. This is a matter of stance, of choices." [I agree with Gary here, but that is our philosophy and it's not for everyone. Similar thoughts by Alfie Kohn: http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/progressive.htm ]
https://twitter.com/garystager/status/536214550329044993

Ira Socol: "and where/how one chooses to work" [Yes. One can choose to disagree with the way SLA does things, but one doesn't have to work there.]
https://twitter.com/irasocol/status/536215980184465408

Chris Lehmann: "so when you say "Bridging Differences," you mean "convince Chris he is wrong."" [I think Chris is right here. Impasse is impasse. Time to move on.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/536217394193383425

----------

*"Anyone led more professional development on teaching for the future than me? Funny how I never get invited to the tea party."
https://twitter.com/garystager/status/535485803552456706

"Perhaps a Republican President will invite me to the White House."
https://twitter.com/garystager/status/535487172225146880
garystager  chrislehmann  education  progressive  teaching  structure  2014  irasocol  cv  tcsnmy  disagreement  policy  practice  constructivism  burnout  regression  mediocrity  balance  missiondrift  fatigue  implementation  purity  condescension  alfiekohn  respect  difference  differences 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Twitter / tanehisicoates: So kids. Grammar is good. Even ...
"Would take an entire course on french prepositions and pronouns. Understanding what connects to what is the hardest part."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500661582977069056

"I've heard entire sentences in French, understood every word and found the sentence incomprehensible. Culprit? Pronouns and prepositions."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500661812069928960

"Also a good reason for English-speaking kids to master the basics of English grammar. I am suffering for that now."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500662013186818048

"French would be a lot easier if I hadn't had to to also learn the difference between a "direct object pronoun" and "indirect." At 38."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500662284684111872

"So kids. Grammar is good. Even the people teaching aren't always so good. Grammar is more than pedantry. It's cartography."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500662519619649536 [bookmark leads here]

"This is the consensus. RT @JimBuhler: .@tanehisicoates I never really understood English grammar until I learned German."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500663065202147330

"Worst word in the world. "Some of" is a close approximation. RT @nothingsmonstrd: @tanehisicoates I wish I understood "en." Still baffled."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500663705928220672

"Problem is that most of us encounter "grammar" via people who like to employ it to signal a kind of superiority."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500664335895896064

"But you SHOULD know how to use prepositions--but not because it impresses other snobs. Understanding language is good--ebonics or otherwise."
https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates/status/500664706907242496
ta-nehesicoates  language  french  grammar  prepositions  pronouns  english  cartography  superiority  condescension  snobbiness 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Deborah Meier's Blog on Education: What Price Control?
"My democratic leanings from childhood were strengthened as it became more & more obvious that 12+ years of schooling was such a poor preparation for democracy. The strong-willed, skepticism that is essential alongside of the habit of seeing & feeling the world from different perspectives (call it empathy?) is precisely what schooling dulls rather than nurtures, what is stronger at age 5 than 15.

...Susan Sontag: "Don't allow yourself to be patronized, condescended to" & "Don't be afraid."

When I visit many "acclaimed schools" for poor children I'm struck by how hard adults work at putting kids "in their place", at public humiliation & condescension. The way children's families are too often talked about by school adults is unnerving. Yet school adults are also object of similar condescension. But connection btwn the two is somehow lost.

Too many of our schools are organized around fear & thus "solutions"/reforms are too. The details are similar to those that drive prisons."
deborahmeier  susansontag  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  fear  condescension  control  empathy  education  policy  reform  childhood  schools  humiliation  2010  hierarchy  power  tcsnmy  skepticism  civics 
august 2010 by robertogreco

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