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Janelle Monáe: Living Out Loud - them.
"When Janelle Monáe came out as queer in a Rolling Stone cover story last April, the revelation made headlines around the world. As one of the most prolific multi-hyphenate artists of a generation, her declaration carried immense weight, both for herself and for queer black women and LGBTQ+ people everywhere. The announcement was followed by the release of her most brilliant, vulnerable work to date: Dirty Computer, an album that was at its core about embracing the freedom one finds in self-exploration and discovery. Bold, unabashedly fluid anthems like “Pynk,” “Screwed,” and “Make Me Feel” further solidified Monáe as a leader for “free-ass motherfuckers” (as she delightfully referred to herself when coming out) everywhere, one who challenges social binaries and norms alike with grace and strength.

Always evolving sonically and aesthetically, today, Monáe is entering a new era of her genre-bending career. The constant, though, is her work, which remains centered in advocacy, agency, and empowerment, regardless of what form it takes. With reverence for the responsibility of an artist and activist, Monáe uses every platform she builds to amplify intersectional discourse about race, gender, and sexuality in new ways. She takes action in a way that makes everyone take notice.

Monáe’s ascent as an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community has tracked alongside her own journey towards personal enlightenment and fulfillment of purpose. It has come with an understanding of the paradox of visibility, and a reckoning with the fears and challenges that queer people, specifically queer people of color, face when living authentically. In taking center stage to speak out and perform against aggressive oppression, Monáe’s voice and vision for humanity help to define what it means to advance emancipation for all.

That’s just a sliver of why we chose Monáe to star in them.’s debut cover story, “Janelle Monáe: Living Out Loud.” It would only be right to have one free-ass motherfucker interview another for the occasion, which is why we recruited Lizzo, an inimitable musical force in her own right and an unerring LGBTQ+ ally, to speak with Monáe below. Both women are known for hits that make you dance while reaching for something deeper, and both share a commitment to uplifting marginalized communities, championing self-love and self-care, subverting social expectations, and speaking their truths through their work. In the wide-ranging conversation below, they touch on that common ground and more, speaking to the terrifying, liberating process of challenging the world’s preconceptions about you, what it really means to live freely in our world today, and loving and living out loud."

[Janelle Monáe] "It's been a journey. For me, sexuality and sexual identity and fluidity is a journey. It's not a destination. I've discovered so much about myself over the years as I've evolved and grown and spent time with myself and loved ones. That's the exciting thing — always finding out new things about who you are. And that's what I love about life. It takes us on journeys that not even we ourselves sometimes are prepared for. You just adapt to where you are and how you've evolved as a free thinking person."

[Lizzo] "Absolutely. I was just talking about this the other day, about how fluidity can mean so many things. It's not just what you like in that moment. I've seen fluidity change with age. I've seen people come out in their sexual identity in their forties and fifties. Yet there's so much pressure on young people to choose an identity, when you're a teenager and your hormones are jumping off — it's like, "Choose an identity, choose a sexual orientation." It's like, "How?” When I like everything sometimes, and I like nothing sometimes.

Do you have any words for those who are struggling with their sexuality or coming out? At any age, but especially for young people."

[Lizzo] 'You know what I noticed? The more I started loving myself, and the more I started self-caring, the people around me changed and became more conducive to that. The people who were toxic and weren't conducive to a self-loving nature just were segued out by God, by the universe, by my energy just repelling them. And I wish it didn't have to be that way, I wish it was the other way around. I wish that the people around us could help us find self-care and self-love. But that's unfortunately not the world that we were given.

We have to create our own worlds. And I think that mentorship is so important. Like you were saying, therapy's expensive. But mentorship can be free. And that's something that we can start with. Especially in lower income communities, the black community. But for now, we just have you. [laughs] We have music. People are looking to Dirty Computer and artists like you as mentors, long distance mentors. And I think it's really special that you hold that place in people's hearts and that it's reaching a culture. You can watch Queer Eye and see your influence. I'm just so happy to breathe the same air as you.

[Janelle Monáe] Oh, please. I’m happy to breathe the same air as you. You also are a free ass motherfucker to me in the way that you approach how you perform, how you love yourself publicly, how you embrace your body. And you're just gorgeous. On stage, offstage, the fact that you play an instrument, the fact that you're writing, the fact that you have ideas as a black woman — you are redefining what it means to be young, black, wild, and free in this country. And you are someone I actively look to whenever I feel like second guessing if I should take risks or not. Because I see the risks that you're taking and the love and appreciation that you show for yourself makes me lean further into loving and respecting myself, and being patient with myself, and not allowing myself to live by anybody's standards."
janellemonáe  lizzo  2019  criticalthinking  feedom  sexuality  gender  interviews  queer  binaries  fluidity  dirtycomputer  identity  therapy  life  living  self-love  art  music  making  lorrainehansberry  bellhooks  meshellndegeocello  lenawaithe  rosettatharpe  janetmock  mjrodriguez  indyamoore  lavernecox 
4 days ago by robertogreco
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cloudinstitute  jaimecloud  sustainability  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  future  optimism  k12  highereducation  highered  systemsthinking  change  adaptability  ecosystems  responsibility  leadership  systems  criticalthinking  hope 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Opinion | What Straight-A Students Get Wrong - The New York Times
"A decade ago, at the end of my first semester teaching at Wharton, a student stopped by for office hours. He sat down and burst into tears. My mind started cycling through a list of events that could make a college junior cry: His girlfriend had dumped him; he had been accused of plagiarism. “I just got my first A-minus,” he said, his voice shaking.

Year after year, I watch in dismay as students obsess over getting straight A’s. Some sacrifice their health; a few have even tried to sue their school after falling short. All have joined the cult of perfectionism out of a conviction that top marks are a ticket to elite graduate schools and lucrative job offers.

I was one of them. I started college with the goal of graduating with a 4.0. It would be a reflection of my brainpower and willpower, revealing that I had the right stuff to succeed. But I was wrong.

The evidence is clear: Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years. For example, at Google, once employees are two or three years out of college, their grades have no bearing on their performance. (Of course, it must be said that if you got D’s, you probably didn’t end up at Google.)

Academic grades rarely assess qualities like creativity, leadership and teamwork skills, or social, emotional and political intelligence. Yes, straight-A students master cramming information and regurgitating it on exams. But career success is rarely about finding the right solution to a problem — it’s more about finding the right problem to solve.

In a classic 1962 study, a team of psychologists tracked down America’s most creative architects and compared them with their technically skilled but less original peers. One of the factors that distinguished the creative architects was a record of spiky grades. “In college our creative architects earned about a B average,” Donald MacKinnon wrote. “In work and courses which caught their interest they could turn in an A performance, but in courses that failed to strike their imagination, they were quite willing to do no work at all.” They paid attention to their curiosity and prioritized activities that they found intrinsically motivating — which ultimately served them well in their careers.

Getting straight A’s requires conformity. Having an influential career demands originality. In a study of students who graduated at the top of their class, the education researcher Karen Arnold found that although they usually had successful careers, they rarely reached the upper echelons. “Valedictorians aren’t likely to be the future’s visionaries,” Dr. Arnold explained. “They typically settle into the system instead of shaking it up.”

This might explain why Steve Jobs finished high school with a 2.65 G.P.A., J.K. Rowling graduated from the University of Exeter with roughly a C average, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. got only one A in his four years at Morehouse.

If your goal is to graduate without a blemish on your transcript, you end up taking easier classes and staying within your comfort zone. If you’re willing to tolerate the occasional B, you can learn to program in Python while struggling to decipher “Finnegans Wake.” You gain experience coping with failures and setbacks, which builds resilience.

Straight-A students also miss out socially. More time studying in the library means less time to start lifelong friendships, join new clubs or volunteer. I know from experience. I didn’t meet my 4.0 goal; I graduated with a 3.78. (This is the first time I’ve shared my G.P.A. since applying to graduate school 16 years ago. Really, no one cares.) Looking back, I don’t wish my grades had been higher. If I could do it over again, I’d study less. The hours I wasted memorizing the inner workings of the eye would have been better spent trying out improv comedy and having more midnight conversations about the meaning of life.

So universities: Make it easier for students to take some intellectual risks. Graduate schools can be clear that they don’t care about the difference between a 3.7 and a 3.9. Colleges could just report letter grades without pluses and minuses, so that any G.P.A. above a 3.7 appears on transcripts as an A. It might also help to stop the madness of grade inflation, which creates an academic arms race that encourages too many students to strive for meaningless perfection. And why not let students wait until the end of the semester to declare a class pass-fail, instead of forcing them to decide in the first month?

Employers: Make it clear you value skills over straight A’s. Some recruiters are already on board: In a 2003 study of over 500 job postings, nearly 15 percent of recruiters actively selected against students with high G.P.A.s (perhaps questioning their priorities and life skills), while more than 40 percent put no weight on grades in initial screening.

Straight-A students: Recognize that underachieving in school can prepare you to overachieve in life. So maybe it’s time to apply your grit to a new goal — getting at least one B before you graduate."
education  grades  grading  colleges  universities  academia  2018  adamgrant  psychology  gpa  assessment  criticalthinking  anxiety  stress  learning  howwelearn  motivation  gradschool  jkrowling  stevejobs  martinlutherkingjr  perfectionism  srg  edg  mlk 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Hay que reconciliar al cine mexicano con su público: Fernanda Solórzano - El Sol de México

Otro tema que para ella es importante a la hora de dignificar las películas que se hacen aquí es revisar la idea de que el cine es sólo una forma de entretenimiento, útil nada más para el escapismo y la evasión, sin dar oportunidad a las producciones que no tienen un mensaje cerrado y que apelan a que el espectador abra su inteligencia a distintas posibilidades de mensaje.

“A mí me gustaría que en las escuelas mismas se promoviera entre los niños la idea de que no todos tenemos que entender de inmediato los relatos sino que entre más preguntas puedan provocar más pueden enriquecer. Que seas capaz de salir de una película y la puedas comentar con alguien que quizá tenga un punto de vista distinto al tuyo, justamente porque no se les dio un mensaje definido…”

Reconoce que es un trabajo lento y que puede durar varias generaciones, pero que no hay nada como encontrarle virtud a lo complejo y entender que una película que te permite tener varias lecturas puede resultarte quizá más satisfactoria que una que no va a permitir que alguien te cambie tu propio punto de vista.

Y remarca: “El cine que más disfruto es el que me saca de mis certezas; el que me hace pensar y repensar mi realidad. Me choca darme cuenta de que me están manipulando. Me gusta que confíen en mi inteligencia. A mí me gusta que los directores también confíen en la inteligencia del público y el público en su propia inteligencia”.


Y de todo ese panorama destaca algo con lo que no está de acuerdo, la temática con la que se están haciendo algunas comedias mexicanas actuales, ya que le parece que refuerzan valores a los que como sociedad estamos tratando de oponernos, como el machismo o la homofobia, y que en este género suelen ser abordados como algo gracioso y normal.

“Voy a poner como ejemplo la cinta Qué culpa tiene el niño, cuya historia versa sobre una chica que en una fiesta queda embarazada, no sabe de quién porque estaba alcoholizada y entonces eso es presentado como chistoso, sin importar que es irresponsable que un hombre se aproveche de una mujer en esas condiciones”.

No ve que este tipo de producciones sean tan terribles y bajas como las sexy comedias de los años 80, donde los hombres literalmente violaban a las mujeres y nadie decía nada y todos se reían, pero asumen los mismos valores. “Obviamente son más sofisticadas estas comedias, son más pulidas, pero los chistes son los mismos, apelan al mismo tipo de moral, lo que me parece triste”.


Con respecto a los nuevos formatos de filmación y las modalidades de exhibición más allá de las salas cinematográficas, Fernanda percibe que ciertamente plantean nuevos problemas estéticos y económicos, lo cual también puede ser una oportunidad para que se abaraten las posibilidades de acceso para producir cine a quien actualmente no tiene los recursos para hacerlo.

“Al final lo importante es contar bien una historia y hacerlo estéticamente. Incluso hay historias que se pueden contar mejor en uno u otro formato. Por ejemplo, hay un director que filmó su primera película en iPhone, Tangerine, de Sean Baker, que fue muy premiada, y después decidió que su segunda producción se hiciera en 35 mm porque consideró que esa cinta no aguantaba lo digital y requería cierta profundidad. O sea hay narrativas para todo tipo de formato”.

Sobre el formato de miniseries, predominante en los servicios de streaming on line, la crítica de cine también los califica de oportunidad interesante. “A mí me gustan muchísimo, yo no las veo como un producto menor. Creo que muchos directores de cine, ante la imposibilidad de tener un presupuesto tan alto, están experimentando. Y pongo cono ejemplo la serie Un extraño enemigo de Gabriel Ripstein, que me pareció muy buena, bien contada, bien narrada y muy acentuada, a pesar de que era muy difícil que una serie más sobre el 68 tuviera impacto”."
fernandasolórzano  conemexicano  education  schools  stories  film  filmmaking  storytelling  linearity  ambiguity  certainty  complexity  howwethink  conversation  interviews  race  racism  homophobia  digital  2018  literature  children  medialiteracy  literacy  teaching  howweteach  unschooling  deschooling  criticalthinking 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Ten guidelines for nurturing a thriving democracy by Bertrand Russell
"In December 1951, British philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote a piece for the NY Times Magazine titled The Best Answer to Fanaticism — Liberalism with a subhead that says “Its calm search for truth, viewed as dangerous in many places, remains the hope of humanity.” At the end of the article, he offers a list of ten commandments for living in the spirit of liberalism:

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2. Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3. Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.

4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

9. Be scrupulously truthful, even when truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

Over the past few years, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to keep an open mind about many issues, particularly on those related to politics. Remaining curious and generous about new & different ideas, especially in public, is perhaps more challenging than it was in Russell’s time. We are bombarded on all sides by propaganda, conspiracy theories, and broadly discredited theories from the past pushed upon us by entertainment news outlets and social media algorithms — we’re under a constant denial-of-service attack on our ability to think and reason.

We can’t reasonably be expected to give serious consideration to ideas like “the Holocaust didn’t happen”, “the Earth is flat”, “the Newtown massacre was faked”, “let’s try slavery again”, “vaccines cause autism”, and “anthropogenic climate change is a myth” — the evidence just doesn’t support any of it — but playing constant defense against all this crap makes it difficult to have good & important discussions with those we might disagree with about things like education, the role of national borders in a extremely mobile world, how to address our changing climate, systemic racism & discrimination, gun violence, healthcare, and dozens of other important issues. Perhaps with Russell’s guidelines in mind, we can make some progress on that front."
bertrandrussell  rules  guidelines  howto  democracy  politics  fanaticism  liberalism  truth  thinking  criticalthinking  evidence  authority  opposition  opinions  happiness  curiosity 
june 2018 by robertogreco / block added by kmd k
"I’m distrustful of content-based pedagogy because I’m distrustful of any desire to reproduce identity, to make more of the same. I think pedagogy that seeks to reproduce little versions of the teacher is as suspect as parenting that seeks to reproduce little versions of the parent.

I think that good teaching, like good parenting, demands helping a younger person articulate their best self and understand themselves in relation to the world; it can’t do that by determining for a student who they are or what they need to be.

My approach to pedagogy is equally rooted in philosophy and in pragmatism. In my experience, you just can’t make people think or be what they don’t want to think or be, or what they’re not ready to think or be. You can point people in a certain direction; but if they don’t want to run with you, they’ll just be gazing vaguely in that direction while you sprint off towards the sunset.

It is inevitably the case that in a class with 6 or 12 or 40 students, only a few will share your investments and interests. It can be more or less depending on context and institution, but as a teacher you always have to be prepared for the possibility that you walk into a room and not a single student in there gives a shit about what you have to say. What do you do with those students? How do you serve those students? I absolutely reject the idea of just writing students off. I think if you’re going to stand in front of someone for 45 minutes and tell them what to do, you have to either bring in something they can find a way into or have the excuse of a prescribed curriculum. Nothing else will do.

This is why I consider my job to help students learn how to think whatever they’re thinking, rather than telling them what to think. I would love if my students learned about socialism or psychoanalysis or Spinoza from me; I would love it if they came out of the closet after I teach Sedgwick or whatever. But that’s not always going to happen, and it’s never going to happen with every student. Unless I am in a position to vet or choose each student individually - and unless each student is also in a position to leave my class - I don’t consider it ethical to demand students think or know in a particular way, in part because I know people can’t always overcome the modes of thinking they’ve internalized without a lot of work. I’ve never taught a graduate seminar, but if I could teach, say, a grad seminar on Spinoza and interview each potential student for 20 minutes first to see if they could hack it, that would be one thing. But if I’m walking into a room full of undergrads or high schoolers, some or all of whom don’t want to be there, I have to be able to offer them tools and concepts that don’t demand allegiance to a specific content or ideology.

-Fuck Theory Tinyletter"
content  pedagogy  education  unschooling  learning  identity  teaching  howweteach  colonization  pragmatism  philosophy  deschooling  experience  curriculum  spinoza  ethics  thinking  criticalthinking  ideology 
april 2018 by robertogreco
The Misguided Drive to Measure ‘Learning Outcomes’ - The New York Times
"It seems that the pressure to assess student learning outcomes has grown most quickly at poorly funded regional universities that have absorbed a large proportion of financially disadvantaged students, where profound deficits in preparation and resources hamper achievement. Research indicates that the more selective a university, the less likely it is to embrace assessment. Learning outcomes assessment has become one way to answer the question, “If you get unprepared students in your class and they don’t do well, how does that get explained?” Mr. Eubanks at Furman University told me.

When Erik Gilbert, a professor of history at Arkansas State University, reached the end of his World Civilization course last fall, he dutifully imposed the required assessment: an extra question on the final exam that asked students to read a document about Samurai culture and answer questions using knowledge of Japanese history. Yet his course focused on “cross-cultural connections, trade, travel, empire, migration and bigger-scale questions, rather than area studies,” Mr. Gilbert told me. His students had not studied Japanese domestic history. “We do it this way because it satisfies what the assessment office wants, not because it addresses concerns that we as a department have.”

Mr. Gilbert became an outspoken assessment skeptic after years of watching the process fail to capture what happens in his classes — and seeing it miss the real reasons students struggle. “Maybe all your students have full-time jobs, but that’s something you can’t fix, even though that’s really the core problem,” he said. “Instead, you’re expected to find some small problem, like students don’t understand historical chronology, so you might add a reading to address that. You’re supposed to make something up every semester, then write up a narrative” explaining your solution to administrators.

Here is the second irony: Learning assessment has not spurred discussion of the deep structural problems that send so many students to college unprepared to succeed. Instead, it lets politicians and accreditors ignore these problems as long as bureaucratic mechanisms appear to be holding someone — usually a professor — accountable for student performance.

All professors could benefit from serious conversations about what is and is not working in their classes. But instead they end up preoccupied with feeding the bureaucratic beast. “It’s a bit like the old Soviet Union. You speak two languages,” said Frank Furedi, an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Britain, which has a booming assessment culture. “You do a performance for the sake of the auditors, but in reality, you carry on.”

Yet bureaucratic jargon subtly shapes the expectations of students and teachers alike. On the first day of class, my colleagues and I — especially in the humanities, where professors are perpetually anxious about falling enrollment — find ourselves rattling off the skills our courses offer (“Critical thinking! Clear writing!”), hyping our products like Apple Store clerks.

I teach intellectual history. Of course that includes skills: learning to read a historical source, interpret evidence and build an argument. But cultivating historical consciousness is more than that: It means helping students immerse themselves in a body of knowledge, question assumptions about memory and orient themselves toward current events in a new way.

If we describe college courses as mainly delivery mechanisms for skills to please a future employer, if we imply that history, literature and linguistics are more or less interchangeable “content” that convey the same mental tools, we oversimplify the intellectual complexity that makes a university education worthwhile in the first place. We end up using the language of the capitalist marketplace and speak to our students as customers rather than fellow thinkers. They deserve better.

“When kids come from backgrounds where they’re the first in their families to go to college, we have to take them seriously, and not flatter them and give them third-rate ideas,” Mr. Furedi told me. “They need to be challenged and inspired by the idea of our disciplines.” Assessment culture is dumbing down universities, he said: “One of the horrible things is that many universities think that giving access to nontraditional students means turning a university into a high school. That’s not giving them access to higher education.”

Here is the third irony: The value of universities to a capitalist society depends on their ability to resist capitalism, to carve out space for intellectual endeavors that don’t have obvious metrics or market value.

Consider that holy grail of learning outcomes, critical thinking — what the philosopher John Dewey called the ability “to maintain the state of doubt and to carry on systematic and protracted inquiry.” Teaching it is not a cheap or efficient process. It does not come from trying to educate the most students at the lowest possible cost or from emphasizing short, quantifiable, standardized assignments at the expense of meandering, creative and difficult investigation.

Producing thoughtful, talented graduates is not a matter of focusing on market-ready skills. It’s about giving students an opportunity that most of them will never have again in their lives: the chance for serious exploration of complicated intellectual problems, the gift of time in an institution where curiosity and discovery are the source of meaning.

That’s how we produce the critical thinkers American employers want to hire. And there’s just no app for that."
learning  learningoutcomes  outcomes  academia  assessment  evaluation  quantification  measurement  accountability  highered  highereducation  2018  mollywhorthen  criticalthinking  johndewey  metrics  inquiry  efficiency  standardization  standardizedtesting  capitalism  content  complexity  howwelearn  howwethink  knowledge  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  unschooling  deschooling  schools  pedagogy  teaching  skepticism  bureaucracy  corporatism  corporatization  inequality 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Michael Ian Black on Twitter: "Getting a lot of grief from teachers for my earlier take on k-12 education. I meant no offense to teachers, who I think, by and large, do their best. My criticisms have to do with the whole dang public education apparatus, w
"Getting a lot of grief from teachers for my earlier take on k-12 education. I meant no offense to teachers, who I think, by and large, do their best. My criticisms have to do with the whole dang public education apparatus, which feels hopelessly outmoded and moribund.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[previous thread:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[And a thread prior to that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That draws from the expertise of the faculty to augment studies, but also to be able to access the world's great minds on your narrow question. Slow, non-grade work that moves towards a defining and meaningful goal/solution. Applied education. Seems like a better way to handled"]
michaelianblack  schools  education  grades  grading  homework  schooling  learning  children  parenting  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  2018  self-directed  self-directedlearning  howwelearn  freedom  autonomy  creativity  misery  sfsh  criticalthinking  middleschool  highschool  teachers  howweteach  schooliness  oppression  publicschools  childhood 
january 2018 by robertogreco
What If? And What’s Wrong? – Sherri Spelic – Medium
"According to Erikson’s analysis, Design Thinking favors those already positioned to benefit from and claim the best of what society has to offer. It stands to reason then those places where Design Thinking finds its most ardent supporters and enthusiastic practitioners will be among those with the resources of time, money and opportunity who can contemplate ‘What if’ questions in relative existential safety.

In his study of the lives of the vulnerable, Marc Lamont Hill challenges us to go beyond the headlines and video capture of numerous awful human interactions to see the system designs already in place which made those encounters more likely, more predictable, more damaging. He shows us the histories and patterns of disenfranchisement and exclusion of America’s vulnerable that are hiding in plain sight. Embedded in those patterns are hundreds of local, statewide and federal design decisions in urban planning, municipal budgeting, school district allocation, law enforcement strategy, and social service delivery all with the potential to support or suppress affected communities. The question ‘What’s wrong?’ is ever present in these contexts but when addressed with the kind of careful analysis that Hill provides we can name the elephant in the room, trace its origins, learn how it grew and was nourished over time.

Our students can see inequality. Many of them experience its injustices on a daily basis. Precisely here is where I would like to see us focus our educator energies: on helping students see and identify the faulty designs throughout our society that plague the most vulnerable among us. In order to dismantle and correct these designs and patterns, they must first be able to notice and name them. That’s the kind of design thinking I hope and wish for: Where ‘what’s wrong?’ drives our pursuit of ‘what if?’

I also imagine that would be a pretty tough sell in the current marketplace of ideas."
sherrispelic  designthinking  education  skepticism  criticalthinking  systems  systemsthinking  inequality  2018  marclamonthill  leevinsel  meganerikson  entrepreneurship  neoliberalism  optimism  enthusiasm  design 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Akala - Knowledge is Power | London Real - YouTube
"18:06 Society is designed by the cultural appetites of the thinkers and maintained by the powerful.

19:22 Difference in expectations for public and state educated children. Benefits of the Saturday morning schools."

[via: ]
education  akala  2014  schools  schooling  society  inequality  prisonindustrialcomplex  schooltoprisonpipeline  povery  racism  economics  meritocracy  politics  criticalthinking  criticalpedagogy  power  culture  unschooling  deschooling  music  football  soccer  activism  poetry  reading  writing  alberteinstein 
january 2018 by robertogreco
What the Arete Project stands for
"1. We offer a higher vision for higher education. Current academic culture values achievement over learning, knowledge over wisdom, research over teaching, and frills over substance. The Arete Project provides an education in the liberal arts and sciences that helps students become thoughtful, responsible, and virtuous human beings. Students are invested with responsibilities that extend far beyond their GPAs; instructors are valued first as teachers and mentors and second as scholars; and education takes place as a communal enterprise in a setting of rustic simplicity.

2. We educate for service and leadership – with real stakes. Many leadership programs are little more than simulations. Many service-work programs are guilty of “voluntourism.” But at the Arete Project, students must create, sustain, and govern their own educational community, as well as work towards the wellbeing of the institution itself. Student self-governance is real. If the cow isn’t milked, she may sicken, leaving the kitchen without dairy products. If recruitment emails aren’t sent, we may have no applicants the next year. Students must take real responsibility for these critical and other functions of the organization.

3. We provide an educational antidote to social fragmentation. It is no secret that our world has fractured deeply along lines of income, identity, and ideology. Our programs require students to step outside of their comfort zones and to build and share an educational space with people from very different backgrounds. The intimacy of the community (including students, staff, and faculty) allows trust and real relationships to flourish; these relationships, in turn, enable the difficult conversations that our society so badly needs to have.

4. We train thoughtful stewards of the natural world. Though we are all ultimately dependent on the ecosystems around us, few of us feel that dependence in our daily lives. The Arete Project asks students to live for extended periods of time in rustic accommodations within rural and wilderness settings, and much work and recreation is out of doors. The labor program in particular – by having students grow their own food and build their own shelter – provides a chance to think deeply about humans' relationship to nature."
education  areteproject  lauramarcus  highered  highereducation  learning  knowledge  wisdom  teching  research  substance  frills  liberalarts  mentoring  responsibility  service  leadership  voluntourism  servicelearning  self-governance  governance  fragmentation  society  inequality  inclusivity  inclusion  lcproject  openstudioproject  relationships  conversation  stewardship  nature  ecosystems  ecology  sustainability  interdependence  labor  work  ideology  criticalthinking  pedagogy  academia  colleges  universities 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Design Thinking is Kind of Like Syphilis — It’s Contagious and Rots Your Brains
"Miller never bothers to define all the modes, and we will consider them more below. But for now, we should just note that the entire model is based on design consulting: You try to understand the client’s problem, what he or she wants or needs. You sharpen that problem so it’s easier to solve. You think of ways to solve it. You try those solutions out to see if they work. And then once you’ve settled on something, you ask your client for feedback. By the end, you’ve created a “solution,” which is also apparently an “innovation.”

Miller also never bothers to define the liberal arts. The closest he comes is to say they are ways of “thinking that all students should be exposed to because it enhances their understanding of everything else.” Nor does he make clear what he means by the idea that Design Thinking is or could be the new liberal arts. Is it but one new art to be added to the traditional liberal arts, such as grammar, logic, rhetoric, math, music, and science? Or does Miller think, like Hennessy and Kelly, that all of education should be rebuilt around the DTs? Who knows.

Miller is most impressed with Design Thinking’s Empathize Mode. He writes lyrically, “Human-centered design redescribes the classical aim of education as the care and tending of the soul; its focus on empathy follows directly from Rousseau’s stress on compassion as a social virtue.” Beautiful. Interesting.

But what are we really talking about here? The’s An Introduction to Design Thinking PROCESS GUIDE says, “The Empathize Mode is the work you do to understand people, within the context of your design challenge.” We can use language like “empathy” to dress things up, but this is Business 101. Listen to your client; find out what he or she wants or needs.

Miller calls the Empathize Mode “ethnography,” which is deeply uncharitable — and probably offensive — to cultural anthropologists who spend their entire lives learning how to observe other people. Few, if any, anthropologists would sign onto the idea that some amateurs at a “boot camp,” strolling around Stanford and gawking at strangers, constitutes ethnography. The Empathize Mode of Design Thinking is roughly as ethnographic as a marketing focus group or a crew of sleazoid consultants trying to feel out and up their clients’ desires.

What Miller, Kelly, and Hennessy are asking us to imagine is that design consulting is or could be a model for retooling all of education, that it has some method for “producing reliably innovative results in any field.” They believe that we should use Design Thinking to reform education by treating students as customers, or clients, and making sure our customers are getting what they want. And they assert that Design Thinking should be a central part of what students learn, so that graduates come to approach social reality through the model of design consulting. In other words, we should view all of society as if we are in the design consulting business."

In recent episode of the Design Observer podcast, Jen added further thoughts on Design Thinking. “The marketing of design thinking is completely bullshit. It’s even getting worse and worse now that [Stanford has] three-day boot camps that offer certified programs — as if anyone who enrolled in these programs can become a designer and think like a designer and work like a designer.” She also resists the idea that any single methodology “can deal with any kind of situation — not to mention the very complex society that we’re in today.”

In informal survey I conducted with individuals who either teach at or were trained at the top art, architecture, and design schools in the USA, most respondents said that they and their colleagues do not use the term Design Thinking. Most of the people pushing the DTs in higher education are at second- and third-tier universities and, ironically, aren’t innovating but rather emulating Stanford. In afew cases, respondents said they did know a colleague or two who was saying “Design Thinking” frequently, but in every case, the individuals were using the DTs either to increase their turf within the university or to extract resources from college administrators who are often willing to throw money at anything that smacks of “innovation.”

Moreover, individuals working in art, architecture, and design schools tend to be quite critical of existing DT programs. Reportedly, some schools are creating Design Thinking tracks for unpromising students who couldn’t hack it in traditional architecture or design programs — DT as “design lite.” The individuals I talked to also had strong reservations about the products coming out of Design Thinking classes. A traditional project in DT classes involves undergraduate students leading “multidisciplinary” or “transdisciplinary” teams drawing on faculty expertise around campus to solve some problem of interest to the students. The students are not experts in anything, however, and the projects often take the form of, as one person put it, “kids trying to save the world.”

One architecture professor I interviewed had been asked to sit in on a Design Thinking course’s critique, a tradition at architecture and design schools where outside experts are brought in to offer (often tough) feedback on student projects. The professor watched a student explain her design: a technology that was meant to connect mothers with their premature babies who they cannot touch directly. The professor wondered, what is the message about learning that students get from such projects? “I guess the idea is that this work empowers the students to believe they are applying their design skills,” the professor told me. “But I couldn’t critique it as design because there was nothing to it as design. So what’s left? Is good will enough?

As others put it to me, Design Thinking gives students an unrealistic idea of design and the work that goes into creating positive change. Upending that old dictum “knowledge is power,” Design Thinkers giver their students power without knowledge, “creative confidence” without actual capabilities.

It’s also an elitist, Great White Hope vision of change that literally asks students to imagine themselves entering a situation to solve other people’s problems. Among other things, this situation often leads to significant mismatch between designers’ visions — even after practicing “empathy” — and users’ actual needs. Perhaps the most famous example is the PlayPump, a piece of merry-go-round equipment that would pump water when children used it. Designers envisioned that the PlayPump would provide water to thousands of African communities. Only kids didn’t show up, including because there was no local cultural tradition of playing with merry-go-rounds.

Unsurprisingly, Design Thinking-types were enthusiastic about the PlayPump. Tom Hulme, the design director at IDEO’s London office, created a webpage called OpenIDEO, where users could share “open source innovation.” Hulme explained that he found himself asking, “What would IDEO look like on steroids? [We might ask the same question about crack cocaine or PCP.] What would it look like when you invite everybody into everything? I set myself the challenge of . . . radical open-innovation collaboration.” OpenIDEO community users were enthusiastic about the PlayPump — even a year after the system had been debunked, suggesting inviting everyone to everything gets you people who don’t do research. One OpenIDEO user enthused that the PlayPump highlighted how “fun can be combined with real needs.”

Thom Moran, an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan, told me that Design Thinking brought “a whole set of values about what design’s supposed to look like,” including that everything is supposed to be “fun” and “play,” and that the focus is less on “what would work.” Moran went on, “The disappointing part for me is that I really do believe that architecture, art, and design should be thought of as being a part of the liberal arts. They provide a unique skill set for looking at and engaging the world, and being critical of it.” Like others I talked to, Moran doesn’t see this kind of critical thinking in the popular form of Design Thinking, which tends to ignore politics, environmental issues, and global economic problems.

Moran holds up the Swiffer — the sweeper-mop with disposable covers designed by an IDEO-clone design consultancy, Continuum — as a good example of what Design Thinking is all about. “It’s design as marketing,” he said. “It’s about looking for and exploiting a market niche. It’s not really about a new and better world. It’s about exquisitely calibrating a product to a market niche that is underexploited.” The Swiffer involves a slight change in old technologies, and it is wasteful. Others made this same connection between Design Thinking and marketing. One architect said that Design Thinking “really belongs in business schools, where they teach marketing and other forms of moral depravity.”

“That’s what’s most annoying,” Moran went on. “I fundamentally believe in this stuff as a model of education. But it’s business consultants who give TED Talks who are out there selling it. It’s all anti-intellectual. That’s the problem. Architecture and design are profoundly intellectual. But for these people, it’s not a form of critical thought; it’s a form of salesmanship.”

Here’s my one caveat: it could be true that the DTs are a good way to teach design or business. I wouldn’t know. I am not a designer (or business school professor). I am struck, however, by how many designers, including Natasha Jen and Thom Moran, believe that the DTs are nonsense. In the end, I will leave this discussion up to designers. It’s their show. My concern is a different one — namely that… [more]
designthinking  innovation  ideas  2017  design  leevinsel  maintenance  repair  ideation  problemsolving  davidedgerton  willthomas  billburnett  daveevans  stanford  natashajen  herbertsimon  robertmckim  ideo  singularity  singularityuniversity  education  schools  teaching  liberalarts  petermiller  esaleninstitute  newage  hassoplattner  johnhennessey  davidkelly  jimjones  empathy  ethnography  consulting  business  bullshit  marketing  snakeoil  criticism  criticalthinking  highereducation  highered  thomamoran  tedtalks  openideo  playpump  designimperialism  whitesaviors  post-its  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  art  architecture  complexity  simplicity  methodology  process  emptiness  universities  colleges  philipmirowski  entrepreneurship  lawrencebusch  elizabethpoppberman  nathanielcomfort  margaretbrindle  peterstearns  christophermckenna  hucksterism  self-promotion  hype  georgeorwell  nathanrosenberg  davidmowery  stevenklepper  davidhounshell  patrickmccray  marianamazzucato  andréspicer  humanitariandesign 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Letting Go Of School In Order To Think About Education
"On all of my social media profiles I self-identify as “Educator” among other titles and descriptors. I chose “educator” because it’s an umbrella term which encompasses both doing and being. To educate others may include teaching, coaching, facilitating, or guiding; providing space, opportunities, materials, structure, collaborators, audience, relevance, push-back and acceptance. As an educator I create possibilities to be speaker and listener, instructor and learner, producer and consumer, writer and reader, expert and novice, role model and seeker, professional and amateur.

When I teach at school, this is not necessarily the list going through my head. It is unlikely that my thinking is focused on the possibilities I am creating or opportunities I am affording myself or my students. No, I am thinking about brass tacks: doing the thing, getting it done in time, getting the class to do it my way (mostly). That is my teaching reality. In my planning I may find the chance to wax philosophical about what I want the real lesson to be (i.e., how to work equitably with people who are not your favorites vs. how to play 4 v 4 soccer). Or after the fact, when my colleague and I talk over what worked and didn’t work in an activity that we both tried, then I may discover an insight or two about what I am creating or perhaps sabotaging in the process. Reflection belongs to teaching. Doing and acting belong to teaching. Screwing up belongs to teaching.

Yet teaching as a set or series of actions does not add up to educating. Teaching is a piece of education, not the whole.

Often when conversations about education get hot, I find that we are actually talking about schools, teachers, policies, students, and families. What schools should do. What students should do. What families should do. What policies should do. We are talking about integral pieces of education but not about education as whole: what it is, what it can enable, how it serves us as a society. Of course this is a much more challenging task. How can we talk about what education is and what it should be when our schools are crumbling, our kids are not always safe (both inside and outside our classrooms), and the disparities between rich and poor are growing by the minute?

I don’t have the answer.

What I have come to understand, however, is that we will not achieve better education systems or outcomes without stepping back from the constraints of “school thinking.” I need to let go of what I know and think about school - its structures, history, and influence - in order to be able to think more openly about education and its possibilities. And in order to do that it feels necessary to break some rules, to upset some conventions, to seize authority rather than wait for it to be granted.

Free thinking is a political act. Even as I write this, my personal doomsday chorus is getting louder: “you can’t write that! Where’s your evidence? Where’s the data?” That’s the trenchant influence of the existing power structure. I have learned its lessons well. “There is no argument without a quote to back it up.” Authority, expertise, wisdom is always outside me. To ensure the validity of my own thoughts, I have been taught, I must ground my arguments in the theory and work of other scholars.

I’m going to place that rule aside for now and proceed with my free thinking on education. And my first instance is a selfish one: my own children. What is the education that they will need to serve them well in their lives?

• practice being kind.

• aim to be independent while recognizing that interdependence is also the way of the world and critical to our (I mean, everybody’s) survival.

• Learn to ask for and receive help. Practice offering help.

• There are lots of ways to learn things: by reading, observing, trying, asking, teaching, following, researching. Try out lots of different combinations and know that some methods will work better than others for different occasions and aims. Keep talking to people and asking questions. Practice. Get feedback. Practice more. Get more feedback.

• Get to know the culture and climate in which you live. Who seems to be at the top? Who’s on the bottom? Where do you seem to fit in? Where can you help someone? How do these systems work? Learn to ask: ‘What system is this?’

These are lessons I want my children to not only have but to internalize, practice, own in their very particular and individual ways. If I can also help my students travel on and take up these pathways, all the better.

But where do I go with these ideas then?

* * *

The Answer To How Is Yes. (This is a book title you should look up) [ ]

I start with people. What do people need? People need other people; positive, supportive and caring connections to others. People need purpose - reasons for doing the things they do. We investigate things we want to know more about. We go in search of the things we need. We enlist the help of others to accomplish what we cannot manage on our own. People tend to do well with challenge as long as it does not overwhelm them. Productive challenge cannot be the things which threaten our existence. People require a degree of safety and security in which they can pursue challenge and purpose. Safety and security are what communities build into their webs of relationships through trust and reciprocity.

When I embark on this kind of wide ranging, human needs-centered thinking, I quickly run into mental roadblocks: not so little voices which say, “Be careful! Writing these words, in this way, is risky. It is counter-cultural. It is against the rules of expository writing. This is no way to win a debate.”

As a teacher and educator, I am aghast at the idea that I would dare to go against the rules in a semi-professional setting. From childhood to now, I have been a firm upholder of rules of almost every kind: institutional rules, overt & covert socio-cultural rules, sports rules, you name it. And yet, in this case, I see a need to step outside certain rules, if only briefly, to consider something differently; to see what happens when the ropes are untied and the tension released. Rather than hosting a debate, I invite you to join me on an exploration.

What if, instead of trying to produce good or even excellent students, we aimed more for empowering excellent people, outstanding citizens, valuable community members? What if we created learning centers where people of various ages could gather to pursue purpose, challenge and connection with each other in meaningful ways? What if learning remained part and parcel of living, every day, and we acknowledged and recognized that publicly and privately?

We are so desperate to find secrets, shortcuts and foolproof solutions which will suddenly change everything. Yet, if we have learned nothing else from our extensive schooling titled ‘education’, we certainly know that this is not the way the world works. There will be no miracles and we need to accept that.

When students and teachers and support staff and administrators leave the school building, the question I have is: where do they go? What do they leave school to go work on? What dilemmas are they trying to solve? What new learning will they engage in, in order to meet a particular goal?

No doubt some of those tasks and questions will be directly related to survival: How do I ensure that we have enough income to keep this roof over our heads? How can I help my mom not worry so much about me and my sister when we have to wait alone for her to come home from work? What do I need to do to save this relationship? How do I even know if this relationship is worth saving? These are not genius hour questions. But they are the kinds of questions which occupy and preoccupy our minds and instigate a kind of built-in learning which inevitably shapes the lives we are able to lead and create for ourselves.

These are not school questions but they are the ones we will chew on and make meaning with throughout our lives. These are the questions which become our education once we take our rigid notions of school out of the picture. If we want to think differently, even innovatively about education, we need to re-center human needs rather what the “economy” claims it requires. We need to stop feeding the capitalist monster we have so happily created through our highly trained and supremely wasteful consumer behaviors. We need to uncouple “education” from the neoliberal agenda of deepening social inequality. We need to reclaim education as a human-centered public good that belongs to all of us.

If that sounds ‘pie in the sky’ idealistic to you and me, that’s precisely the problem. To change what we have, there seem to be a lot of things we need to let go of. Idealism is not one of them, however."
sherrispelic  education  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  schools  learning  children  sfsh  doing  being  freedom  thinking  criticalthinking  evidence  pedagogy  authority  expertise  wisdom  interdependence  independence  help  self-advocacy  culture  society  needs  care  caring  childhood  empowerment  life  living  survival  humans  human  idealism  innovation  economics  capitalism  systemsthinking  neoliberalism  inequality  publicgood  engagement  canon  cv  openstudioproject  lcproject 
december 2017 by robertogreco
When the narrative breaks - Long View on Education
"So, here’s one way to look at the whole narrative about education systems failing to provide skills of the future for employers:

Maybe schools should cultivate creativity & critical thinking not because the ‘jobs of the future’ demand these skills that are necessary for an educated citizenry, but because most jobs restrict these human capacities?

Often, the more we work in jobs with machines the more machine-like we need to become.

Yet, maybe some of the least recognize and most important work – caring for others – is precisely where we find creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and all the others skills that are apparently so desirable. That is, the ‘jobs of the future’ narrative has duped us on another level: because it never talks about care work, it seems as if that work is unimportant and low-skill. In a story on Vox, a support worker named Nathan Auldridge says that though “the pay is shit”, “You can’t make a robot do what I do.”"

"The ‘jobs of the future’ narrative is broken beyond repair: there’s no skills gap that education needs to fill, nor do the vast majority of the jobs that actually require many of the 21c skills pay very well. Why is that? The Vox article continues:
Caregiving — a low-paid, low-status job — is also most often done by disadvantaged workers. One in 10 working black women are employed in direct care; more than a quarter of direct care workers are black women. In contrast, while white women make up 35 percent of these jobs, only one in 37 working white women is employed in direct care. Latina women, as well as immigrant women, are also disproportionately represented.

Since women of color are disproportionately represented in these growing jobs of the future, why are they not represented in the forecasts about the future? In an article called Where are the Black Futurists?(2000), the author (listed as ‘Black Issues’) reflects on an all white male C-SPAN futurist panel:
“there are too many people talking about the future without considering the future of African Americans and other people of color.

By not considering us, is the majority implicitly suggesting that we don’t matter? Do they think that as America ages, we will continue to play the traditional service and support roles for their communities? When I hear estimates from the U.S. Department of Labor that we’ll need nearly a million home health aides in the next decade, and I know that most home health aides now are Black and Brown women, I conclude that unless the wage structure changes, the future implications for those women and their families are frightening.

But the futurists mainly seem to be predicting what an aging society will need without predicting who will provide it.”2
benjamindoxtdator  2017  care  caring  future  jobs  education  sfsh  collaboration  creativity  human  tcsnmy  cv  machines  technology  humanities  humanism  criticalthinking  civics  citizenry  democracy  work  labor  stem  steam  economics  caregiving  race  racism  futurism  sciences 
november 2017 by robertogreco
60-Second Check: Aircraft Waste Hits Cruise Ship | Hapgood
"When I say you can fact check a lot of things in one to two minutes, I mean, literally, one to two minutes. Here’s an example:

[embedded video: "60 second check: Cruise ship hit by aircraft waste" ]"
mikecaulfield  web  fakenews  online  debunking  search  2017  crapdetection  classideas  webliteracy  criticalthinking 
july 2017 by robertogreco
I'm Nowhere In-between: Why we need 'seriously uncool' criticism in education - Long View on Education
"You know those t-charts that divide approaches to education into the old and the new? Of course you do. And I bet that were we both to take five minutes to reproduce one from memory, we would come up with roughly the same list. All we’d need to do then is choose a side. Or perhaps stake out a position somewhere in the middle, a blend of the two. Nothing too extreme.

Let me show you one from nearly 100 years ago. In 1925, May R. Pringle experimented with ‘the project method’, which we would now call ‘Project Based Learning’.1


I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about how we need to be critical of the list of ‘the new and modern’ because it’s always backed by a corporate push. But that’s not why progressive educators find the list seductive. The very terms themselves act as a siren call to anyone who wants a more humane education for children: creative, student-centered, open, flexible, collaboration, choice. We are told that these are the qualities that schools kill and that CEOs would kill for.

But here is the problem. What if CEOs started to call for qualities that ran against our progressive values? In a report by The Economist (and sponsored by Google), Emiliana Vega, “chief of the Education Division, Inter- American Development Bank”, describes the kind of skills that he wishes schools would instill:
“In Latin America, socio- emotional skills are a big part of the gap between what employers need and what young people have. For example, tourism companies need people who will smile and be polite to guests, and often graduates just don’t possess those public- facing techniques.”

Think about that for a minute.

But opposing this new ‘skills agenda’ doesn’t mean that I’m a traditionalist or trying to cut a middle ground. My teaching is most certainly not some kind of ‘back to basics’ or mindless self-medicating prescribed by the ‘what works’ gurus.

The ‘what works’ agenda holds it’s own kind of seduction for self-fashioned rationalists in the vein of Richard Dawkins or Daniel Dennett, who somehow manage to hold onto the Modern faith in science as if most of the 20th century never happened. Geert Lovink sums up that limited critical terrain by looking at the work of Nick Carr, who often criticizes technology because of the effect it has on our cognition:
“Carr and others cleverly exploit the Anglo-American obsession with anything related to the mind, brain and consciousness – mainstream science reporting cannot get enough of it. A thorough economic (let alone Marxist) analysis of Google and the free and open complex is seriously uncool. It seems that the cultural critics will have to sing along with the Daniel Dennetts of this world (loosely gathered on in order to communicate their concerns.”

Most of the ‘seriously uncool’ criticism of the project of Modernity has exploded the dichotomies that the destructive myth of ‘rational’ and ‘objective’ scientific ‘progress’ rested on. While we might lament that teachers do not read enough research, we can’t mistake that research for a neutral, apolitical body of knowledge.

Allow me to use a famous study to illustrate my point. Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer’s ‘The Pen Is Mightier than the Keyboard’ (2014) seems to show that writing notes with pen and paper boosts retention and understanding of information compared to typing notes on a computer. In their study, the participants watched TED talks and took notes, completed distractor tasks, and about 30 minutes later answered questions. In one condition, the test was delayed by a week and some participants were allowed to study their notes for 10 minutes before taking the test. The TED talks were intentionally disconnected from any larger project they were learning about.

So rationally and scientifically speaking, we should have students take notes with pen and paper, right?

Yet, the study itself is not neutral with respect to pedagogy since it contains many in-built assumptions about how we should teach: we can say that the pen is mightier than the keyboard under the controlled conditions when students watch a short lecture once, about a topic they are not in the course of studying, when they are not permitted to take the notes home and perform more work with them, and when the assessment of knowledge uses short answer questions divorced from a meaningful purpose or complex project.

Is that how we want to teach? Would a democratic conversation about schools endorse that pedagogy?

In the lab, scientists try to reduce the complexity and heterogeneity in networks – to purify them – so as to create controlled conditions. Subjects and treatments are standardized so they become comparable. Drawing on systems theory, Gert Biesta argues that schools – like all institutions and our social life more broadly – engage in a kind of complexity reduction. We group children into grades and classes, start and end the day at the same time, in order to reduce “the number of available options for action for the elements of a system” which can “make a quick and smooth operation possible”.

Reducing options for action is neither good nor bad in itself, but it is always an issue of politics and power. So, cognitive science is no more a neutral guide than CEOs. As Biesta writes, “The issue, after all is, who has the power to reduce options for action for whom.”

Reliance on only ‘what works’ is a kind of complexity reduction that would eliminate the need for professional judgement. Biesta worries about the “democratic deficit” that results from “the uptake of the idea of evidence-based practice in education”. It’s a conversation stopper, much like relying on CEOs to provide us with the ‘skills of the future’ also raises the issue of a ‘democratic deficit’ and questions about who has power.

I’m not writing this because I feel like what I have to say is completely new, but because I feel like I need to affirm a commitment to the project of critical pedagogy, which does not rest somewhere in the middle of a t-chart. Critical pedagogy embraces hybridity over purification. Our classrooms should emphasize the very heterogeneity in networks in all their variation and glory that experiments – and corporations – seek to eliminate.2

If I’m nowhere in-between, I’m certainly not the first nor alone.

In Teaching to Transgress (1994), bell hooks tells us that “talking about pedagogy, thinking about it critically, is not the intellectual work that most folks think is hip and cool.” Yes, we still need more of that ‘seriously uncool’ critical work if education is to work in the service of freedom. hooks writes, “Ideally, education should be a place where the need for diverse teaching methods and styles would be valued, encouraged, seen as essential to learning.”

There’s lots of reason to think that the social media discussion of education is not a kind of paradise. But as hooks reminds us,
“…learning is a place where paradise can be created. The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom.”3
benjamindoxtdator  2017  dichotomies  dichotomy  spectrums  projectbasedlearning  bellhooks  criticalpedagogy  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  hybridity  purity  teaching  leaning  unschooling  deschooling  progressive  schools  freedom  homogeneity  heterogeneity  mayrpringle  history  modernity  emilianavega  richarddawkins  danieldennett  faith  geertlovink  criticism  criticalthinking  technology  pammueller  danieloppenheimer  tedtalks  democracy  democratic  gertbiesta  systemstheory  diversity  complexity  simplicity  agesegregation  efficiency  politics  power  authority  networks  possibility  nicholascarr 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Frontier notes on metaphors: the digital as landscape and playground - Long View on Education
"I am concerned with the broader class of metaphors that suggest the Internet is an inert and open place for us to roam. Scott McLeod often uses the metaphor of a ‘landscape’: “One of schools’ primary tasks is to help students master the dominant information landscape of their time.”

McLeod’s central metaphor – mastering the information landscape – fits into a larger historical narrative that depicts the Internet as a commons in the sense of “communally-held space, one which it is specifically inappropriate for any single individual or subset of the community (including governments) to own or control.” Adriane Lapointe continues, “The internet is compared to a landscape which can be used in various ways by a wide range of people for whatever purpose they please, so long as their actions do not interfere with the actions of others.”

I suspect that the landscape metaphor resonates with people because it captures how they feel the Internet should work. Sarah T. Roberts argues that we are tempted to imagine the digital as “valueless, politically neutral and as being without material consequences.” However, the digital information landscape is an artifact shaped by capitalism, the US military, and corporate power. It’s a landscape that actively tracks and targets us, buys and sells our information. And it’s mastered only by the corporations, CEOs and venture capitalists.

Be brave? I have no idea what it would mean to teach students how to ‘master’ the digital landscape. The idea of ‘mastering’ recalls the popular frontier and pioneer metaphors that have fallen out of fashion since 1990s as the Internet became ubiquitous, as Jan Rune Holmevik notes. There is of course a longer history of the “frontiers of knowledge” metaphor going back to Francis Bacon and passing through Vannevar Bush, and thinking this way has become, according to Gregory Ulmer, “ubiquitous, a reflex, a habit of mind that shapes much of our thinking about inquiry” – and one that needs to be rethought if we take the postcolonial movement seriously.

While we might worry about being alert online, we aren’t exposed to enough stories about the physical and material implications of the digital. It’s far too easy to think that the online landscape exists only on our screens, never intersecting with the physical landscape in which we live. Yet, the Washington Post reports that in order to pave the way for new data centers, “the Prince William County neighborhood [in Virginia] of mostly elderly African American homeowners is being threatened by plans for a 38-acre computer data center that will be built nearby. The project requires the installation of 100-foot-high towers carrying 230,000-volt power lines through their land. The State Corporation Commission authorized Dominion Virginia Power in late June to seize land through eminent domain to make room for the towers.” In this case, the digital is transforming the physical landscape with hostile indifference to the people that live there.

Our students cannot be digitally literate citizens if they don’t know stories about the material implications about the digital. Cathy O’Neil has developed an apt metaphor for algorithms and data – Weapons of Math Destruction – which have the potential to destroy lives because they feed on systemic biases. In her book, O’Neil explains that while attorneys cannot cite the neighborhood people live in as a reason to deny prisoners parole, it is permissible to package that judgment into an algorithm that generates a prediction of recidivism."

"When I talk to students about the implications of their searches being tracked, I have no easy answers for them. How can youth use the net for empowerment when there’s always the possibility that their queries will count against them? Yes, we can use google to ask frank questions about our sexuality, diet, and body – or any of the other ways we worry about being ‘normal’ – but when we do so, we do not wander a non-invasive landscape. And there few cues that we need to be alert or smart.

Our starting point should not be the guiding metaphors of the digital as a playground where we need to practice safety or a landscape that we can master, but Shoshana Zuboff’s analysis of surveillance capitalism: “The game is selling access to the real-time flow of your daily life –your reality—in order to directly influence and modify your behavior for profit. This is the gateway to a new universe of monetization opportunities: restaurants who want to be your destination. Service vendors who want to fix your brake pads. Shops who will lure you like the fabled Sirens.”

So what do we teach students? I think that Chris Gilliard provides the right pedagogical insight to end on:
Students are often surprised (and even angered) to learn the degree to which they are digitally redlined, surveilled, and profiled on the web and to find out that educational systems are looking to replicate many of those worst practices in the name of “efficiency,” “engagement,” or “improved outcomes.” Students don’t know any other web—or, for that matter, have any notion of a web that would be different from the one we have now. Many teachers have at least heard about a web that didn’t spy on users, a web that was (theoretically at least) about connecting not through platforms but through interfaces where individuals had a significant amount of choice in saying how the web looked and what was shared. A big part of the teaching that I do is to tell students: “It’s not supposed to be like this” or “It doesn’t have to be like this.”
banjamindoxtdator  2017  landscapes  playgrounds  georgelakoff  markjohnson  treborscolz  digitalcitizenship  internet  web  online  mckenziewark  privacy  security  labor  playbor  daphnedragona  gamification  uber  work  scottmcleod  adrianelapointe  sarahroberts  janruneholmevik  vannevabush  gregoryulmer  francisbacon  chrisgilliard  pedagogy  criticalthinking  shoshanazuboff  surveillance  surveillancecapitalism  safiyanoble  google  googleglass  cathyo'neil  algorithms  data  bigdata  redlining  postcolonialism  race  racism  criticaltheory  criticalpedagogy  bias 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Cassandra Plays the Stock Market | Quiet Babylon
"I imagined her playing the stock market. She starts buying dot-coms in 1994 and gets out in 2000. She sees the housing crisis from miles away and has sold all her subprime holding by early 2008.

But her story is a tragedy, so then I imagined her getting put away for insider trading. They don’t have any solid evidence, but no one believes her defence and the jury becomes certain she’s guilty. She’s the only person punished for the collapse of the banking system. Thankfully, it’s a white collar crime so pretty soon, she gets out. She’s like Martha Stewart.

I feel like I know a lot of people who kind of see themselves as a Cassandra. I feel that way sometimes, myself. We look at the world, we notice a lot of obviously terrible decisions that people and institutions are making, we point out that things won’t go well, no one listens to us, and then things don’t go well. We console ourselves that we’d seen it coming. It’s kind of a romantic feeling. You feel like you’re smarter than most people.

I was talking to my wife Pamela about all this and she gently pointed out that in my white-collar retelling, I’d missed the whole point of the Cassandra myth. In the story, things don’t go at all well for Cassandra. Her city burns. She is assaulted and kidnapped and eventually killed by the invaders. Cassandra doesn’t get to insulate herself from the worst of it. She suffers the consequences along with everyone else.

She is bound to the fate of her people. As we are bound to the fate of ours.

It’s not good enough to be right.

A funny thing has happened in my professional circles since the election.

In the wake of these terrible events, pretty much all of my colleagues have discovered the renewed importance of whatever it is we were working on in the first place. I, of course, have discovered the renewed importance of understanding the role of fiction and speculation in shaping the future of the world. I think we should be suspicious about this.

At the place where I work — a university — there has been a particular renewal in talking about how important it is that we teach everyone more critical thinking. The feeling is that the outcome of this election is the result of people being duped, and that if they’d had better critical thinking skills, that people would have been somehow inoculated against the bad ideas, and better able to think for themselves (and vote the way we thought they should).

I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit hanging around the online communities of the kind of people we are worried about reaching here, and I am here to tell you: They are using their critical thinking skills.

They are fully literate in concepts like bias and in the importance of interrogating sources. They believe very much in the power of persuasion and the dangers in propaganda and a great many of them believe that we are the ones who have been behaving uncritically and who have been duped. They think that we are the unbelieving victims of fraud.

Which is not to set up some kind of false equivalency between sides. But I do want us to consider the possibility that we don’t need to talk across that barrier, and that it might not be possible to talk across it. That we need to consider that if it’s true that vast swaths of the voting populace are unbelieving victims of fraud, that there’s not much we can do for them. That we may need instead to work to invigorate our allies, discourage our enemies, and save the persuasion for people right on the edge.

But, again, I’m saying all of this to you as someone who has not figured this out."
timmaly  future  futurism  speculation  cassandra  2017  fraud  kazysvarnelis  robertsumrell  gigurdjieff  belief  criticalthinking  allies  persuasion  speculativefutures  predictions 
july 2017 by robertogreco
This is what you shall do by Walt Whitman | The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor
"This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."

[via: ]
waltwhitman  leavesofgrass  manifestos  god  life  living  wealth  integrity  relationships  nature  canon  unlearning  learning  neoteny  deschoooling  unschooling  freedom  criticalthinking  unknowing  humility  outdoors 
june 2017 by robertogreco
A Weapon for Readers | by Tim Parks | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
"Imagine you are asked what single alteration in people’s behavior might best improve the lot of mankind. How foolish would you have to be to reply: have them learn to read with a pen in their hands? But I firmly believe such a simple development would bring huge benefits.

We have too much respect for the printed word, too little awareness of the power words hold over us. We allow worlds to be conjured up for us with very little concern for the implications. We overlook glaring incongruities. We are suckers for alliteration, assonance, and rhythm. We rejoice over stories, whether fiction or “documentary,” whose outcomes are flagrantly manipulative, self-serving, or both. Usually both. If a piece of writing manifests the stigmata of literature—symbols, metaphors, unreliable narrators, multiple points of view, structural ambiguities—we afford it unlimited credit. With occasional exceptions, the only “criticism” brought to such writing is the kind that seeks to elaborate its brilliance, its cleverness, its creativity. What surprised me most when I first began publishing fiction myself was how much at every level a novelist can get away with.

This extravagant regard, which seemed to reach a peak in the second half of the twentieth century as the modernists of a generation before were canonized as performers of the ever more arduous miracle of conferring a little meaning on life, is reflected in the treatment of the book itself. The spine must not be bent back and broken, the pages must not be marked with dog ears, there must be no underlining, no writing in the margins. Obviously, for those of us brought up on library books and school-owned textbooks (my copy of Browning bore the name of a dozen pupils who had used the text before me), there were simple and sensible reasons supporting this behavior. But the reverence went beyond a proper respect for those who would be reading the pages after you. Even when I bought a book myself, if my parents caught me breaking its spine so that it would lay open on the desk, they were shocked. Writing was sacred. In the beginning was the Word. The word written down, hopefully on quality paper. Much of the resistance to e-books, notably from the literati, has to do with a loss of this sense of sacredness, of a vulnerable paper vessel that can thrive on our protective devotion.

The absolute need to read with a pen in one’s hand became evident to me watching my students as we studied translation together. …"

"Aside from simply insisting, as I already had for years, that they be more alert, I began to wonder what was the most practical way I could lead my students to a greater attentiveness, teach them to protect themselves from all those underlying messages that can shift one’s attitude without one’s being aware of it? I began to think about the way I read myself, about the activity of reading, what you put into it rather than what was simply on the page. Try this experiment, I eventually told them: from now on always read with a pen in your hands, not beside you on the table, but actually in your hand, ready, armed. And always make three or four comments on every page, at least one critical, even aggressive. Put a question mark by everything you find suspect. Underline anything you really appreciate. Feel free to write “splendid,” but also, “I don’t believe a word of it.” And even “bullshit.”

A pen is not a magic wand. The critical faculty is not conjured from nothing. But it was remarkable how many students improved their performance with this simple stratagem. There is something predatory, cruel even, about a pen suspended over a text. Like a hawk over a field, it is on the lookout for something vulnerable. Then it is a pleasure to swoop and skewer the victim with the nib’s sharp point. The mere fact of holding the hand poised for action changes our attitude to the text. We are no longer passive consumers of a monologue but active participants in a dialogue. Students would report that their reading slowed down when they had a pen in their hand, but at the same time the text became more dense, more interesting, if only because a certain pleasure could now be taken in their own response to the writing when they didn’t feel it was up to scratch, or worthy only of being scratched."

"Some readers will fear that the pen-in-hand approach denies us those wonderful moments when we fall under a writer’s spell, the moments when we succumb to a style, and are happy to succumb to it, when suddenly it seems to us that this approach to the world, be it Proust’s or Woolf’s or Beckett’s or Bernhard’s, is really, at least for the moment, the only approach we are interested in, moments that are no doubt among the most exciting in our reading experience.

No, I wouldn’t want to miss out on that. But if writers are to entice us into their vision, let us make them work for it. Let us resist enchantment for a while, or at least for long enough to have some idea of what we are being drawn into. For the mindless, passive acceptance of other people’s representations of the world can only enchain us and hamper our personal growth, hamper the possibility of positive action. Sometimes it seems the whole of society languishes in the stupor of the fictions it has swallowed. Wasn’t this what Cervantes was complaining about when he began Don Quixote? Better to read a poor book with alert resistance, than devour a good one in mindless adoration."
howweead  howwethink  reading  annotation  marginalia  timparks  2014  teaching  howweteach  criticalthinking  underlining 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Once a fearsome murderer invaded a Zen master’s home
"It’s a funny thing about agency. People mistake it for power. Donald Trump didn’t run for office because he had agency. The Constitution attempts to secure that right for everyone, but of course it’s failed. The Constitution, in its bleak optimism, assumes that people will play fair. Agency plays fair. But power doesn’t.

In his last book, Pedagogy of Indignation, Paulo Freire offers:
I am convinced that no education intending to be at the service of the beauty of the human presence in the world, at the service of seriousness and ethical rigor, of justice, of firmness of character, of respect for differences...can fulfill itself in the absence of the dramatic relationship between authority and freedom. It is a tense and dramatic relationship in which both authority and freedom, while fully living out their limits and possibilities, learn, almost without respite, to take responsibility for themselves as authority and freedom...

The freedom that derives from learning, early on, how to build internal authority by introjecting the external one, is the freedom that lives out its possibility fully. Possibility derives from lucidly and ethically assuming limits, not from fearfully and blindly obeying them." (p.9-10) [emphases mine]

In other words, agency doesn’t so much exert itself upon others as it does float within the intersection of freedom and authority. Enacting one’s agency is always a balancing act between doing what is within your understanding of your own power and working with the boundaries of others’ understandings of theirs. It is a cooperative, chemical interaction. Freedom delimited by others’ freedoms delimited by yours.

In a classroom, this means that authority remains present. Sometimes, the authority of the teacher; but in the best situation, the shared authority of the group of learners (and the teacher). In the theatre of national politics, the agency of the president is limited by the needs of the people. This is not a system of checks and balances, though. A system of checks and balances assumes certain people have power over other certain people in specific circumstances. That’s a relationship of negotiation at best, manipulation at worst; and it’s a relationship of power.

Donald Trump doesn’t understand agency. He doesn’t understand that his will should be limited by the freedoms of others. He is not humane. He is not considerate. He is not wise. These are not the qualifications of every president, but they are the aspiration. No, they are the expectation. Yet no one expects consideration, humanity, or wisdom from Donald Trump. On both sides of the voting population, we expect rudeness, cruelty, and anti-intellectualism. This would mystify me if I didn’t recognize at least one source for this disappointing position.

For many reasons, I openly blame our current education system for the result of the election and the demise of the American president. To start, I am a critic of education, working within and outside the system to draw attention to its flaws; and therefore, the failings of the system are almost always foremost in my mind. Additionally, I have seen an alarming (deeply alarming, like finding out your child has run away from home alarming) reduction in the value of critical thinking in schools. This reduction runs parallel to an increasing emphasis on retention of information as a measure of “mastery.” I have met more than one college student and college graduate who love teachers who tell them what will be on the test, who ply rubrics to narrow the deviation from the norm, and who lecture, asking very little in the way of participation from students in the suscitation of their own education.

Education today assesses student knowledge based on their ability to repeat back. Questioning, criticizing, looking for wisdom past the usual authority—these are rare activities indeed. Even a class on creative writing—presumably a subject that grows from a student’s own subjectivity—can have rubrics, right and wrong answers, multiple choice tests.

We should want and demand more. This is not what education is meant to be. As John Holt reminds us:
Next to the right to life itself, the most fundamental of all human rights is the right to control our own minds and thoughts. That means the right to decide for ourselves how we will explore the world around us, think about our own and other persons’ experiences, and find and make the meaning of our own lives. (4)

This is the right of agency. It does not give us power over another, but it gives us mastery over ourselves. And an education that does not encourage or facilitate this agency is not an education. An education that convinces us of what needs to be known, what is important versus what is frivolous, is not an education. It’s training at best, conscription at worst. And all it prepares us to do is to believe what we’re told.

American education has worked tirelessly since the time of Skinner to make the American mind into a cipher. And when the American mind became a cipher, the Kardashians became model citizens, and Donald Trump rising up to silence the American presidency became an inevitability.

Change the way you teach."
seanmichaelmorris  agency  power  control  johnholt  paulofreire  choice  criticalthinking  authority  rubrics  creativity  questioning  criticism  education  learning  teaching  howweteach  sfsh  obedience  freedom  community  cooperation  collaboration  checksandbalances  government  donaldtrump  us  relationships  rotelearning  humanism  canon  humanrights  thinking  unschooling  deschooling  cv  belief 
january 2017 by robertogreco
All I Know Is What’s on the Internet — Real Life
"For information literacy to have any relevance, schools and libraries must assume that primary sources and government agencies act in good faith. But the social media prowess of a Donald Trump scuttles CRAAP logic. Not only does Trump disregard information literacy protocols in his own information diet — he famously declared during the campaign, “All I know is what’s on the internet” — but he operates with an entirely different paradigm for making public statements. He speaks as a celebrity, confident in the value of his brand, rather than as a politician or technocrat, making recourse to facts, tactical compromises, or polls.

There is no reason to think that the Trump administration will be a “valid” source in the sense of making truthful, accurate statements. Instead, Trump has backed into Karl Rove’s famous idea of the reality-based community: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again.”

Trump-based reality is now spreading into other government agencies. In late 2016, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology used its .gov homepage to question causes of climate change, while the Wisconsin State Department of Natural Resources recently changed reports to claim the subject is a matter of scientific debate.

Benjamin ends “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by arguing that “fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves.” This recasts social media in a more sinister light. Fascism is on the rise not because students can’t tell fake news from the slanted news promulgated by hegemonic interests. Rather, fascism is resurgent because freedom of expression has turned out to have little to do with what we can create and much more to do with how much we can consume.

The promise of social justice and upward mobility through education has largely gone unkept, and many citizens who believed in democratic progress have turned to different promises. Information literacy fails not only because it serves a broken system, but because it is affectively beside the point. Its cerebral pleasure pales in comparison with fascism’s more direct, emotive appeals.

Information today is content, a consumable whose truth value is measured in page views. To combat this, the validation of knowledge must be localized, shared in communities between engaged citizens. Information-literacy rubrics implemented by individuals are insufficient. We must value expertise, but experts must also commit to forging community through shared development. The one-way diffusion of knowledge must be upended.

Information literacy is less a solution than an alibi for the problems ailing education. “Solving” fake news will only compound the real problem. Without substantial work to subvert the traditional and promote the outside, the feel-good efforts of information literacy will not serve America’s promised rebound. Instead they will signify democracy’s dead-cat bounce."

[See also this response: ]
schools  libraries  information  informationliteracy  fakenews  internet  education  rolinmoe  2017  democracy  outsiders  content  knowledge  validation  socialjustice  upwardmobility  medialiteracy  literacy  multiliteracies  fascism  donaldtrump  propaganda  crapdetection  criticalthinking  walterbejnamin  consumption  creativity  freedom  engagement  vannevarbush  shielawebber  billjohnson  librarians  community  media  massmedia  hierarchizationknowledge  economy 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Game Worlds We Make: Why designing a simple board game with my son rivals anything he’s learning in school
"You will have already noticed the echo here: You design a complex system based on a hypothesis about how all its component parts will interact, then you test the system to see if it corresponds to your hypothesis. When it invariably deviates from your initial predictions, you refine your model and build a new hypothesis. The actual content you are analyzing is, literally, child’s play: imaginary baseball players; virtual crops. But the form of the cognition is the scientific method.

I wish I could tell you that this story ends with a Charles Darrow-style runaway hit game. (Though even that triumph turned out to be fiction.) After a few cycles of revisions, I made up a bunch of cards on the computer and color-printed the whole thing out to glossy paper. That alone was a meaningful threshold for Dean: We’d graduated into the world of color illustrations and proper typefaces, and left behind our magic-marker sketches. We played it start-to-finish in its final draft form probably a dozen times. We investigated a few services that self-publish board games, but somehow once we had figured out the rules, the possibility of sharing (or even selling) the game seemed less intriguing. (Though it didn’t stop Dean’s brothers from demanding a percentage of future royalties, thanks to their work as unpaid “consultants” on the project.) Blossom never became a hit. But as a creative project shared by parent and child, it was pure magic.

The kind of blended thinking you have to do in creating a playable game — particularly one that models some kind of real-world equivalent — is, by my measure at least, every bit as rich as the more conventional classroom experiences, and much more fun. I’m hardly the first person to make this observation; game design has already made its way onto many curricula around the world, and there are wonderful institutions dedicated to exploring the pedagogical opportunities that games present."

"That, of course, is the beauty of game design as a learning experience. It doesn’t feel like learning. It feels like the other side of play: not play in the sense of escape, the breaking of boundaries, but play in the sense of figuring out the rules, and figuring out the way the rules aren’t quite working yet and dreaming up better ones. You don’t do that kind of thinking when you memorize state capitals, or read novels, or solve quadratic equations, or write expository essays, as important as all those enterprises are. It’s one of those rare skills that happens to play well at both tables of general and vocational education. You’re learning the scientific method when you conjure up a game, but you’re also learning product design. If we’re lucky, more of our schools will come around to the power of game creation as a pedagogical tool. But in the meantime, parents can make their own luck — dice or no dice. Designing a game teaches your kid how to think. And it reminds you how much there is to learn from playing."
stevenjohnson  2017  games  boardgames  gamedesign  children  parenting  classideas  systems  systemsthinking  play  scientificmethod  learning  howwelearn  modeling  education  schools  productdesign  criticalthinking  thinking 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Colin Kaepernick and What It Means To Be Patriotic In Schools – Student Voices
"In our classrooms, students are constantly asked to think deeper about the presented information, but simultaneously, our schools are structures for American obedience and compliance. Saying the pledge of allegiance before any learning happens means that any learning from the end makes the pledger assume that the learning happening shortly thereafter is part of this set of lessons that is impervious to critique and dissent. Every book, every equation, every piece of work that’s provided by every adult in the classroom is not worth amending or correcting because these are all American, and, if it’s American, it can’t be wrong. Obedience. Compliance.

Even though history scholars must read from multiple sources, first-hand accounts along with critical analyses of histories in order to get a larger scope of the narrative. In our K-12 schools, too many of our students are still dependent on one source, generally the story given by the winners. Slavery in America, for example, doesn’t always get taught as a longstanding crime against humanity that literally subjugated millions of people from the African continent that still has consequences until today. It gets taught as something that happened in the past and we’re all better now. The same goes for segregation, redlining, Native American genocide, Japanese internment, immigration policy during the 1920s and 30s, and any number of policies that don’t get taught as part of the grand American history.

Or that the pledge was part of a marketing scheme for the flags in schools. Or that it’s unconstitutional to compel kids to pledge allegiance to the flag.

America is religious about its American football, too. Certainly, football has taken over baseball as America’s most enthralling pastime. During the season, fans draw themselves along major league team lines and use pronouns like “our” and “we” to discuss the dozens of robust men on the field of play. Fans yell at other teams for their fortunes,embrace an unhealthy level of schadenfreude for successful teams that aren’t theirs, yell at their own teams for losses, and pick scapegoats they were once rooting for almost weekly. Sports fans don’t like to think that their players think about anything besides their given sport. They love to see ads showing players driven to success in the off-season. They love to see athletes signing memorabilia even after they’ve long retired from the game. They love to see athletes bruised, broken, beaten but ultimately coming back in the service of their teams i.e. billion-dollar corporations.

But the minute the athlete, especially the athlete of color, thinks to step out of line with their own visions of America, they’re relegated to the very status that made said protest possible.

When we look at post-9/11 America, our country offers “freedom” for countries which supposedly can’t speak for themselves and patriotism / nationalism for its own citizens. When our youngest citizens see the events of the past weekend, they should wonder why there’s been so much retaliation against a man who America otherwise forgot lead his team to a Super Bowl appearance. They should wonder why so few voters chose the current Democratic and Republican presidential nominees.

They should wonder why they’re told to wait and wait to engage in learning the depth and breadth of atrocities and victories that make our country what it is today.

They should ask themselves why so many of the people critical of a black millionaire athlete and a black President of the United States, who unironically wear Make America Great Again hats, also believe it’s unscrupulous to sit for the very America they don’t consider great anymore. Perhaps to many of its underserved and underrepresented citizens, especially the marginalized, this country’s never been great, but they do what they can. We need a new patriotism that embodies the labor and suppression that’s made the “America is great” narrative permissible.

Until then, it’s liberty and justice for some. I’ll pledge to that."
schools  education  2016  colinkaepernick  josévilson  protest  patriotism  nationalanthem  criticalthinking  compliance  obedience  publicschools  allegiance  pledgeofallegiance  us  policy  politics  history  flags  race  racism  sports  americanfootball  nfl  freedom  democracy 
september 2016 by robertogreco
more than 95 theses — Now how about this: We know that greenhouse gases...
Now how about this: We know that greenhouse gases are producing destabilizing changes in the Earth’s climate. And that human beings evolved from other species over millions of years. And that Barack Obama is a Christian. And that Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with the death of Vince Foster.

Large numbers of Americans deny those and many other assertions. Why? Because the trustworthiness of the authorities that make the claims has been under direct and continuous attack for the past several decades — and because the internet has given a voice to every kook who makes a contrary assertion. What we’re left with is a chaos of competing claims, none of which has the authority to dispel the others as untrue.

—Damon Linker [ ]

Most of what Damon says here is exactly right, but he’s leaving out another major factor: the toxic combination of habitual arrogance and habitual error that afflicts so many of our “authorities.” Consider the amazingly inaccurate track record of expert economic forecasters [ ]. Consider the vast claims made by neuroscientists wielding fMRI machines — machines that consistently yield false results [ ]. And consider the constant cheerleading for expert bullshit from much of the media.

It is true that “the trustworthiness of the authorities that make the claims has been under direct and continuous attack for the past several decades” — but it is also true that some of those authorities deserve to be attacked, and indeed to be attacked more strongly than they are. So in this situation, what is the ordinary person to do? How is she supposed to tell the difference between the reliable expertise of climate scientists and the unreliable “expertise” of yet another neuroscience charlatan? Isn’t it perfectly understandable that in such a noisy environment she will say, “Yeah, right, ‘experts’ — who needs that crap?”"
alanjacobs  damonlinker  arrogance  experts  trustworthiness  science  neuroscience  2016  confidence  skepticism  economics  economists  politics  debate  information  criticalthinking  media 
september 2016 by robertogreco
The Educator’s Secret and Modern Stupidity
[Followed by:

"The Educator’s Dilemma and the Two Big Lies"

and "The Educator’s Folly and the Shadow of the Future" ]

"Several years ago, a distraught mother who knew I was an “educator” called me in tears. She had just come from a parent/teacher conference where she had been informed by her son’s kindergarten teacher that he was “four months behind.” (In kindergarten!) She imagined her son’s future possibilities slipping away and hoped I could give her some advice, or at least some sympathy. “Is there anything I can do for him?” she wondered.

I told her what her son’s kindergarten teacher should have known: that no two children are alike; that each child develops in his or her own mysterious way; that a child who is “four months behind” when he is five might be “two years ahead” when he is seven.

I told her that when Albert Einstein was her son’s age his teachers thought he was slow and simple-minded and that Thomas Edison was expelled from first grade because his teacher thought he was retarded. (In Edison’s case, we can have some sympathy for the teacher. It was probably difficult to assess his school work in the dim light.) “I’m sure that with a concerned parent like you,” I told her, “your son will be all right.”

This kindergarten teacher was probably not being malicious. She was probably doing what she had been trained to do; what she thought her job required her to do. How can we explain such an absurd situation?

In The Art of the Novel, the Czech writer, Milan Kundera, claims that one of the greatest ills facing the contemporary world is “the modernization of stupidity.” In pre-modern times, stupidity implied ignorance, “a simple absence of knowledge, a defect correctable by education.” In its modern form, however, stupidity is something else. It is “not ignorance but the nonthought of received ideas.”1

Modern stupidity is closely related to what Ivan Illich called “modern certainties,” ideas that have become so ingrained they are almost never questioned because we are hardly aware of having them. “Nonthought” also underlies the “modern superstitions” that Wendell Berry has criticized, for example, in books like Life is a Miracle.2

Ironically, the field of education is as rife with this “nonthought” as any other. One example of modern stupidity is the superstitious belief that there is such a thing as an “average child,” whom a five-year-old could be “four months behind.” In succumbing to what philosopher Alfred North Whitehead called “the fallacy of misplaced concreteness” – that is treating an abstraction as if it were a concrete reality – educators start their work in the wrong place.3

In his book Citizenship Papers, Wendell Berry recounts a conversation between a well-known, highly respected horse trainer and someone curious about his methods. “How do you train horses?” the latter asks. The former replies, “Which one do you have in mind?”4

If such a response makes sense for horses, then surely, given the complexity of human development, the answer to the question “How do you educate children?” must be “Which one do you have in mind?”

Instead of beginning with the pernicious abstraction of the “average child” and tracking students into the “gifted and talented” at one end of “the bell curve” and those needing “special education” at the other, we should try to free our approach to “education” from modern stupidity. Since no two children are identical, there cannot be one best way to educate all of them. And we should certainly stop frightening parents with pronouncements about their children’s status compared to some abstract and arbitrary standard."

"“Most of what we learn before, during, and after attending school is learned without it being taught to us. A child learns such fundamental things as how to walk, talk, eat, dress, and so on without being taught these things. Adults learn most of what they use at work or at leisure while at work or leisure. Most of what is taught in classroom settings is forgotten, and much of what is remembered is irrelevant.” 10

Ivan Illich was even more to the point when he said: “It is really an alienation to believe that learning is the result of teaching.” 11

The “science” upon which the structure of schooling rests is flimsy at best and certainly out-of-date. Roger Schank, the Director of the Institute for the Learning Sciences [sic] at Northwestern University, summed up the latest research about the approaches to “learning” used in schools this way:

“From elementary school to college, educational systems drive the love of learning out of kids and replace it with the “skills” of following rules, working hard, and doing what is expected…We all learn in a very specific way, and the method schools use in antithetical to this learning model.” 12

After reviewing the various claims educators have made for the “scientific” basis for their theories of “learning,” Bruce Goldberg concluded:

“There is no such thing as educational science. When the views that have been offered as scientific are examined closely, they turn out to be not scientific at all but rather a combination of personal taste and simplistic, distorted versions of philosophical theories about how the mind works.” 13

I think the obsession with science itself must be questioned. Philip Sherrard and others have shown that the assumptions upon which modern science is based inevitably dehumanize people.14 Scientists investigating human nature are confronted with a dilemma: Either human beings can be reduced to observable, predictable energy and matter, or we must remain unknowable to ourselves. And, as Wendell Berry observed, if we accept the reductive premises of modern science, we get caught in a paradox:

“Reductionism…has one inherent limitation that is paramount, and that is abstraction: its tendency to allow the particular to be absorbed or obscured by the general. It is a curious paradox of science that its empirical knowledge of the material world gives rise to abstractions such as statistical averages which have no materiality and exist only as ideas. There is, empirically speaking, no average and no type.” 15

There is no such thing, for example, as an “average child,” which brings me back to the anxious mother of the boy in kindergarten. When she had calmed down, I decided to take a risk and to share with her “The Educator’s Secret.”

Professional educators, at least those trapped in what Richard Mitchell (and Flannery O’Connor before him) called “educationism,” keep the secret because they want gullible people to believe their services are indispensable.16 They realize that if the general public knew about it, the entire project of compulsory schooling, which costs more than $500 billion each year in the United States, would be threatened.

“If you love your son and feed him,” I confided, “he will grow up.”

“And who knows?” I added. “Someday, he may come up with an idea that will light up the world.”"
culturaldarkmatter  darkmatter  ivanillich  2010  danielgrego  milankundera  alfrednorthwhitehead  education  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  schools  teaching  howweteach  aldoushuxley  wendellberry  supersticion  skepticism  criticalthinking  children  scientism  educationism  sfsh 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Study Finds Chinese Students Excel in Critical Thinking. Until College. - The New York Times
"Chinese primary and secondary schools are often derided as grueling, test-driven institutions that churn out students who can recite basic facts but have little capacity for deep reasoning.

A new study, though, suggests that China is producing students with some of the strongest critical thinking skills in the world.

The unexpected finding could recast the debate over whether Chinese schools are doing a better job than American ones, complementing previous studies showing Chinese students outperforming their global peers in reading, math and science.

But the new study, by researchers at Stanford University, also found that Chinese students lose their advantage in critical thinking in college. That is a sign of trouble inside China’s rapidly expanding university system, which the government is betting on to promote growth as the economy weakens.

The study, to be published next year, found that Chinese freshmen in computer science and engineering programs began college with critical thinking skills about two to three years ahead of their peers in the United States and Russia. Those skills included the ability to identify assumptions, test hypotheses and draw relationships between variables.

Yet Chinese students showed virtually no improvement in critical thinking after two years of college, even as their American and Russian counterparts made significant strides, according to the study.

“It’s astounding that China produces students that much further ahead at the start of college,” said Prashant Loyalka, an author of the study. “But they’re exhausted by the time they reach college, and they’re not incentivized to work hard.”"

"“The common narrative that we hear is that Chinese educational system kills creativity and kills innovation,” he said. “But China is probably one of the most entrepreneurial societies in the world.”

The slowing economy has made it difficult for university graduates to find work, with about one-fifth remaining unemployed immediately after graduation and many settling into low-paying jobs.

Lu Jiawei, 22, who studies engineering management at Beijing Information Science and Technology University, said the gloomy job market was to blame for a lack of motivation among students.

“Some students just give up, because no matter how hard they work, they still will never get their dream jobs,” she said.

The shortcomings of the higher education system have left students struggling to find programs that match their aspirations.

Niu Fuzhi, an aspiring computer scientist at Harbin University of Commerce, had high hopes when she enrolled in 2014. But she was quickly disappointed. Professors focused on teaching high-level theories, she said, and classrooms were chaotic.

“I feel like the past two years were a waste,” said Ms. Niu, 20, who ranks near the top of her class.

But Ms. Niu is hoping to make up for the skills she failed to learn in college — by enrolling in graduate school."
china  criticalthinking  2016  schools  education  highered  highereducation  universities  colleges 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Dewey knew how to teach democracy and we must not forget it | Aeon Essays
"In 1897, Dewey described his ‘pedagogic creed’ as ‘individualistic’ and ‘socialistic’ because it sees the need to nurture each child’s unique talents and interests in a supportive community. …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dewey shows us that appeals to democracy carry weight. We recoil at the notion that some children deserve a better education than others because of their parents’ political or economic status. Nobody will say with a straight face that wealthy children should be raised to lead, while middle- or lower-class children are raised to follow, or that the kind of education available at the finest private schools in the US should be an exclusive privilege of those born with silver spoons in their mouths. ‘What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon, it destroys our democracy.’ Dewey’s words ring as true today as they did a century ago. In the face of the unrelenting attack of the education reform movement, we must fight to actualise Dewey’s vision of great schools providing the foundation for a living democracy."
via:anne  education  johndewey  sfsh  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  lcproject  democracy  schools  learning  pedagogy  society  individualism  individuals  community  class  inequality  us  policy  rttt  nclb  anationatrisk  race  training  howweteach  meaning  purpose  elitism  theshoppingmallhighschool  edhirsch  hannaharendt  vygotsky  zpd  interests  interest-basedlearning  children  criticalthinking  autonomy  interest-drivenlearning 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — Neil Postman & Charles Weingartner, Teaching as a...
"The game is called “Let’s Pretend,” and if its name were chiseled into the front of every school building in America, we would at least have an honest announcement of what takes place there. The game is based on a series of pretenses which include: Let’s pretend that you are not what you are and that this sort of work makes a difference to your lives; let’s pretend that what bores you is important, and that the more you are bored, the more important it is; let’s pretend that there are certain things everyone must know, and that both the questions and answers about them have been fixed for all time; let’s pretend that your intellectual competence can be judged on the basis of how well you can play Let’s Pretend."

"Almost any sensible parent knows this, as does any effective top sergeant. It is not what you say to people that counts; it is what you have them do…. What students do in the classroom is what they learn (as Dewey would say), and what they learn to do is the classroom’s message (as McLuhan would say). Now, what is it that students do in the classroom? Well, mostly, they sit and listen to the teacher. Mostly, they are required to believe in authorities, or at least pretend to such belief when they take tests. Mostly, they are required to remember. They are almost never required to make observations, formulate definitions, or perform any intellectual operations that go beyond repeating what someone else says is true."

"A syllabus not only prescribes what story lines you must learn…. It also prescribes the order in which your skills must be learned."

"The good teacher “regards learning as a process, not a terminal event… he assumes that one is always in the process of acquiring skills, assimilating new information, formulating or refining generalizations.”"

[See also Matt Thomas's Neil Postman posts (linked within): ]
austinkleon  neilpostman  charleswingartner  teaching  education  teachingasasubversiveactivity  2016  1969  crapdetection  hemingway  criticalthinking  howweteach  pedagogy  learning  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  alanwatts  linear  linearity  nonlinear  textbooks  tests  testing  non-linear  alinear 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Learning Despite School — LifeLearn — Medium
"While organised education and deliberate, goal-oriented practice has its place, and is indeed critical, it needs to be balanced with the development of social competence and intrinsic motivation. The vast majority of learning happens in informal social situations within communities of like minded people, where individuals take initiative and learn to work with other people in meaningful settings. Schools may hinder this important avenue of growth and increase stress and anxiety.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~ Lao Tzu.

The role of informal learning

The importance of informal learning in all areas of life cannot be overstated. For anyone observing people going about their life, it is obvious that every waking moment (and indeed, also sleeping moments) presents experiences which shape our brains, and thus, learning happens. Historically, informal learning has been off the spotlights since it is more difficult to study than organised forms of education. However, during the 21st century, surveys have shown that the majority of learning happens in informal settings[1], and even governmental policies have changed to encourage informal learning[4].

Learning within workplaces can be divided into non-formal and informal learning. If these terms are unfamiliar, here are short definitions:

• Formal education is highly institutionalised, bureaucratic, curriculum driven, and formally recognised with grades, diplomas, or certificates.[1]

• Non-formal learning is organised learning outside of the formal education system.[1]

• Informal learning occurs in community, where individuals have opportunities to observe and participate in social activities.[2]

The clear majority of learning within workplaces is informal[3], even though companies spend huge resources on non-formal training of their employees.

Likewise it can be argued that a large portion of learning that happens in schools stems from informal activities, such as social interactions during recess. The magnitude of this informal learning clearly depends on how strictly pupils and their time use are controlled by the faculty. Most resources in educational systems are spent in the advancement of formal education.

How Finnish schools enable informal learning

Finnish primary schools consistently rank high in various international studies, and produce excellent educational outcomes. While there are several reasons behind the success of Finnish schools, one of their typical features is the large amount of free time pupils are given.

• For every 45 minutes of class time, 15 minutes of recess are provided. Recess is free undirected time, usually spent outdoors.

• 30–45 minutes are reserved each day for lunch, provided by the school.

• Children enter school the year they turn 7, giving them more years of free childhood than in most other educational systems.

• School days are short, starting with 4–5 hours in the lower grades, and growing to 6–8 in higher grades.

• The amount of homework is light, usually between 0–4 hours per week.

• Classroom time often includes group work, project work, and personalised learning activities.

All this generates lots of time in children’s lives where they can independently (or with partial guidance) decide what to do, explore their surroundings, and experience new things. All of this is informal learning and it can cultivate skills such as independence, critical thinking, accountability, social competence, self-efficacy, metacognition, time management, planning, and emotional intelligence.

Balancing academic, social and physical development

Finnish studies on pupils’ hobbies and free time use show that the constructive and positive spirit in classrooms increases as pupils spend more of their free time with each other; as their classmates become closer friends, motivation to attend classes increases; and continuing into higher education is more likely. Results also highlight the importance of non-programmed time, where teens are not supposed to do anything or achieve something. Exploration and experimentation are important. Creative crossing of boundaries of accepted behaviour is also important for the teens’ ethical development.[5] Social competence even as early as age 5 has been shown to be connected with adult life quality and productivity[8].

The effects of physical exercise to cognitive capacity and ability to focus are clear and are changing even workplace practices (e.g. walking meetings). Studies of Finnish students have shown that physical exercise has a positive effect on learning and cognitive functions, such as memory and executive functions, and can possibly affect academic achievement[6].

On the other hand, it is clear that to develop top talent in any field (including sports), young people need a balance of training, competition, and free play and exploration. Focusing too early on serious practice activities that are not enjoyable will damage intrinsic motivation[7].

In countries where schools control their pupils more strictly, opportunities for informal learning are diminished. Children then tend to focus their interests and motivation on their hobbies that happen after school. In some countries, children spend nearly all their waking hours on formal learning tasks, which may produce good academic outcomes, but limits severely the benefits that informal learning could provide. Finnish schools show that an approach that emphasises children’s natural tendencies for exploration and learning, can also provide excellent academic results.


A clear majority of learning for any individual happens in informal settings. While formal education and on-the-job training play a role, they will be more effective if they can acknowledge and accommodate informal learning that individuals will engage in regardless. In practice this means at least giving time for non-directed social activities, reflection, and physical activities. In addition, utilising learners’ own life interests in making formal training more engaging and relevant will increase learning outcomes significantly. Combining formal and informal is at the core of learner-centric approaches."
education  unschooling  deschooling  learning  informal  informallearning  schools  social  training  finland  play  competition  freeplay  howwlearn  howweteach  teaching  hobbies  constructivism  experimentation  2016  schedules  time  independence  timemanagement  planning  criticalthinking  accountability  metacognition  laotzu  tarmotoikkanen  competence  motivation  stress  anxiety 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Werner-Herzog comenta en I am Werner Herzog, the filmmaker. AMA.
"Q: You’ve covered everything from the prehistoric Chauvet Cave to the impending overthrow of not-so-far-off futuristic artificial intelligence. What about humankind's history/capability terrifies you the most?

A: It's a difficult question, because it encompasses almost all of human history so far. What is interesting about this paleolithic cave is that we see with our own eyes the origins, the beginning of the modern human soul. These people were like us, and what their concept of art was, we do not really comprehend fully. We can only guess.

And of course now today, we are into almost futuristic moments where we create artificial intelligence and we may not even need other human beings anymore as companions. We can have fluffy robots, and we can have assistants who brew the coffee for us and serve us to the bed, and all these things. So we have to be very careful and should understand what basic things, what makes us human, what essentially makes us into what we are. And once we understand that, we can make our educated choices, and we can use our inner filters, our conceptual filters. How far would we use artificial intelligence? How far would we trust, for example into the logic of a self-driving car? Will it crash or not if we don't look after the steering wheel ourselves?

So, we should make a clear choice, what we would like to preserve as human beings, and for that, for these kinds of conceptual answers, I always advise to read books. Read read read read read! And I say that not only to filmmakers, I say that to everyone. People do not read enough, and that's how you create critical thinking, conceptual thinking. You create a way of how to shape your life. Although, it seems to elude us into a pseudo-life, into a synthetic life out there in cyberspace, out there in social media. So it's good that we are using Facebook, but use it wisely."
via:savasavasava  wernerherzog  2016  reading  ai  artificialintelligence  humanity  humans  humanism  criticalthinking  coneptualithinking  thinking  howwething  howwelearn  socialmedia  cyberspace  redditama 
july 2016 by robertogreco
A Letter to Past Graduate-Student Me - The Chronicle of Higher Education
[via: ]

[my response:

"Why this inventory first at grad school?
1. “grades are no longer the yardstick”
2. “be critical”
3. “colleagues-in-the-making”
4. “conversation between you & the other students”
5. “skimming”
6. “curtail your competitive nature”
7. summary: responsibility ]

"Your grades. I know you’re pretty pleased with yourself for earning an A- on your senior thesis, but you need to learn that grades mean something different in graduate school. Nearly everyone gets an A- or an A in every history class, and after a certain point everything will be pass/fail. Sure, if you decide to change programs, you’ll want a high GPA. But you should stop stressing over the outcome of each semester because your grades are no longer the yardstick by which your successes will be measured.

What your professors expect — more than anything — is for you to want to learn because you’re passionate about a topic, not because you’re passionate about doing well. Stop trying to figure out grading criteria, and start wrapping your head around new trends in your subfield. "Success" is measured, in part, by your ability to identify omissions in current scholarship, and to win funding to write about them and why they matter.

Your seminars. Another thing your professors will want you to be enthusiastic about is their seminars. The hours we spend teaching graduate students are when we as faculty are most able to draw upon our own research.

Go to class regularly but remember that, at this level, professors are not here to chase you about attendance. If you have to miss seminar for a reasonable reason (you’re legitimately sick, you have a job interview, or you have a childcare or family crisis), let us know, as most of us will be sympathetic. But if you need to miss seminar because you’re hungover, didn’t do the reading, or planned a vacation without looking at the semester’s calendar, don’t explain any of that to your professors. Just take the absence, and assume that it reflects poorly on you as a student.

When you do come to class, it won’t be the same as your senior-year seminars. You’ll encounter more challenging readings. Many professors use graduate courses to both run through established, canonical texts, and to catch up on the newest scholarship in the field. So get ready for some easy readings, some articles that will make you want to throw things, and some texts that will prompt you to question why you were asked to go through them at all. As you read, remember that graduate school should transform you into a good scholar and colleague. It’s OK to be critical of a book, but you need to learn how to be critical in a constructive, respectful way. (Keep in mind: The professor might be friends with the author.)

Our teaching style might also surprise you. If it does, it’s because we are thinking of you as colleagues-in-the-making, rather than students. That means: Expect less guidance on what to make of the readings, and minimal stretches of time when we seem to feed you information. Don’t count on being told whether your comments on the reading are on track or not — you may even find that you’re expected to lead discussion and to tell fellow students whether their assessments of the reading seem convincing.

Perhaps the most significant change is that you and your fellow students’ contributions are expected to fill almost the entirety of the seminar time. You are our peers-in-training, and we expect to hear you speak more than we do during these meetings. Don’t use class time to try to have an extended conversation featuring just you and the professor. Think of seminar as a conversation between you and the other students, with the professor there to moderate discussion.

Is there someone in class who always seems to have grasped the author’s argument and the book’s significance? You should be picking up tips for strategic reading from them, rather than wondering why no one else besides you had a problem with the footnote on page 394. And while we’re at it, learn to skim (and no, Past Me, "skimming" does not mean putting the book on your lap and turning the pages faster than usual), and become best friends with book reviews.

You should be getting the sense that graduate school — starting with the master’s — is about strategic study. Spend the most time with the texts and sources that interest you. But be smart about how what you’re reading will help you write your M.A. thesis, how it will help you study for comprehensive exams, or how it will aid you as you conceptualize the dissertation (if you plan to go that far).

Be deliberate about your end-of-semester research papers. Many professors will be willing to let you bend the chronological and geographic scope of our classes if it means you will write the seminar paper that is most useful for you in the future.

Your work versus your life. So, Past Me, that’s a lot of advice about coursework — but graduate school should have work/life balance.

You’ll need to curtail your competitive nature in graduate school. Don’t get me wrong: You can and should be aware of what other people in your cohort and the cohort above you are writing and planning to publish, and you should have a sense of the significant grants in your discipline and who’s recently won them. But do not try to write "better" or faster than other people. Figure out your writing and reading styles, do what works for you, and remember that a few of your fellow students might be future colleagues. Save your competitiveness for your department’s intramural sports teams, which will provide excellent opportunities to pursue work/life balance and to get humiliated by undergraduates who are in much better shape.
You should also be a good citizen. Turn up to departmental seminars, and, if graduate students are invited, to job talks. Seminars and university lectures are good opportunities to take the pulse of a given field, and sitting in the audience might spark research ideas you hadn’t considered for your own work. Attending job talks will give you an excellent opportunity to see what works — and what doesn’t — as A.B.D.s and new Ph.D.s try to sell themselves on the job market.

Finally, banish the following phrase from your vocabulary: "No one told me that …"

Graduate school is an exercise in people not telling you things. It’s also an exercise in learning when to ask questions, and whom to ask. Make it your job to be informed. Read your graduate school’s handbook, and go speak with your department’s amazing administrators if you have initial questions. They will not say no to chocolate. Read The Professor Is In, but also ask people who were recently on the job market whether her advice worked for them in your discipline. When senior scholars come to give talks, take the opportunity to go for drinks with them if that option is available to graduate students, and seek their advice about research and publishing. Read The Chronicle’s forums. Meet regularly with your adviser, but keep in mind that you are the one who should request those meetings.

Most of all, take responsibility for your graduate-school experience. It’s going to be tough; but it’s going to be fun, too.

Hugs, caffeine, and work/life balance,

Future Me"
via:davidtheriault  skimming  howwelearn  gradschool  responsibility  highered  highereducation  sfsh  conversation  learning  criticism  criticalthinking  competition  grades  grading  measurement  assessment  seminars  rachelherrmann  tcsnmy 
june 2016 by robertogreco
my first commencement speech | Abler.
"Congratulations, class of 2016. It’s an honor to be with you. I want to start with a story from candidates’ weekend this past February. As you all know, Candidates’ Weekends are when the applicants for admission who’ve made the first cut come to campus for a full weekend of events—events we design to help us understand them as people. You all did this some four years ago now.

So one thing I did on Candidate’s Weekend was the solo interview session. The setup is three of us: myself, as the faculty member, plus one current student, and one recent alumnus sit together to ask a series of questions of these young people. And—they’re 17, right, so they’re nervous. It’s a profound and moving thing to see up close their quivering hands, their flushed cheeks. We try to set them at ease and to learn something in a short amount of time: about what makes them tick, what they’re passionate about.

And at the end of each interview, as instructed, we allow for questions from the candidates themselves: and they do have questions—about Olin life, or what we like about engineering, things you would expect.

And on that day, these questions from the candidates were indeed more or less the usual fare. With one exception. We asked this one affable young high school student if he had any questions, and without missing a beat, he said, right away, he said: “What’s up with the doors here?” Just like that, totally unself-conscious. What’s up with the doors here? And my interview partners—the student and the alumnus—just *erupted* in recognition and laughter. Because apparently the doors at Olin are notorious among students for their poor design: it has been, for all these years, weirdly unclear whether and where you push or pull. It’s not intuitive where your weight should fall to hold them open. It’s awkward entering and exiting all over campus.

Lots of Olin students have remarked on and complained about this phenomenon, and here was this young person: so immediately alert to the subtlety of this condition in his first weekend here, and brazen enough to call it out.

That guy got in. I checked.

This young hopeful candidate for engineering school had found himself among his people. And I’m happy to say that in the intervening weeks and months since then, somehow some door cues—saying “push here” or “pull” have mysteriously appeared on various handles around campus. Not sure who’s responsible for that, but someone got the message.

Now. That story might seem like just a funny anecdote, but it actually reveals something big, I think, about engineering and engineers. Asking What’s up with the doors is more than an idle observation. I think it indicates a way of being in the world.

A lot of times engineering is framed as a penchant for problem-solving, in various permutations and with various caveats. Problem-solving: that is, skills and knowledge to materially improve the operations of the world. You’ve heard this.

But What’s up with the doors, I think, signals something more profound. It’s the full knowledge that the inherited conditions of the natural and built environment need not be as they are. It’s the understanding that atoms and bits—the material and the digital—these conditions aren’t permanent. They don’t have to remain mysterious. Atoms and bits, bits and atoms: unlocked, un-black-boxed, malleable, contingent.

To understand the systems of the built world is to know, in your bones, something powerful: that things might be otherwise. The doors, the engines, the mechanisms, the software and systems: you all know that these are the results of design decisions that can be reversed, unwound, utterly reconceived. Because you understand how they work. What’s up with the doors underscores that power, and it’s a power that you all now have. We send you out to the world with it. So: it’s a good day.

However. However.

I won’t cheapen this day by offering you a simple victory narrative. If only, IF ONLY the doors of the world were entirely made of wood and steel. If only it were so simple—to make the world better, just using atoms and bits.

Think about the doors of the immaterial kind: the portals, the thresholds, the entry points to human flourishing that are only open to some, and sealed shut for others. These are doors whose pushing open and pulling closed are social, political, interpersonal mechanisms—mechanisms that no amount of physics alone can sway.

In other words: to find yourself equipped as an engineer in the physical, technical sense—to be able to intervene and even dismantle the doors of the tangible, built world—is still to find yourself an ordinary citizen with a much harder set of questions to engage. How do we share this planet? How do we talk to each other, people unlike ourselves? How do we grapple with the legacies of history? How do we build not only the future we can construct, but the just and sustainable future we want to live in, one that includes all of us? To pry open and build these kinds of entrances, you will use your engineering, yes, but you’ll need so much more than that. You’ll need wisdom, and you’ll have to look for it and recognize it far outside of technology.

Be brave with these questions. Keep asking them. See that all kinds of openings and closings are everywhere.

And as you go out from here, know that the doors of this campus remain open to you."
sarahendren  olincollege  commencementaddresses  accessibility  engineering  2016  access  criticalthinking  problemsolving  doors  power  howthingswork  portals  thresholds  intervention  wisdom  technology  politics 
may 2016 by robertogreco
The Bad Habits You Learn in School
"There is an ongoing debate about whether leadership can be taught, and whether business schools, in particular, are teaching it. There are fair arguments on both sides, but I would broaden the discussion. Our entire education system, from elementary school to graduate school, is poorly constructed to teach young people leadership. Schools do many things well, but they often cultivate habits that can be detrimental to future leaders. Given that most of us spend 13-20 years in educational institutions, those habits can be hard to break.

Consider first the emphasis schools have on authority. Schools are hierarchical: The teacher is the authority in the classroom. Principals or deans preside over teachers and professors. Seniors “rank” higher than juniors, and so on. In our years in the educational system, many of us become obsessed with hierarchy. We think we’re leaders if we’re the “boss,” and if we’re not the boss, we should simply do as we’re told. In reality, even the most senior people in organizations can’t rely solely on hierarchy, particularly given the much needed talents, experiences, and intelligence of the others who surround them. Leadership is an activity, not a position, a distinction explored deeply by Ron Heifetz in Leadership Without Easy Answers. Many great leaders like Gandhi and Nelson Mandela have led others, despite having little to no formal authority, and writers are now exploring methods for leading without formal authority. While some hierarchy may be needed, leaders who learn to lean too hard on formal authority often find themselves and their organizations frustrated, stunted, and stagnant.

Schools also teach us to deal with information as if it is certain and unchanging, when there’s rarely a stable “right answer.” In my first job, I was constantly frustrated by the lack of guidance I received. If you gave me a textbook, I could learn almost anything. But in the workplace, there were no textbooks. Real world problems are complex. They evolve. They’re organizational and analytical. And success is often driven as much (or more) by successful and rapid implementation as by developing the “correct” approach. Understanding that there’s rarely one right answer can make a person more adaptive, agile, and open to the thoughts of their peers. But that understanding is rarely cultivated through textbooks and multiple choice tests."

"Finally, while many schools tell us to serve others, they are rarely structured to actively show us that leadership is serving others. In most educational environments, our primary goal is to serve ourselves — to improve our individual grades, to compete for individual positions, and to maximize our own employment, college, or grad school placements. But as Bill George once said in a panel discussion on next generation leadership, “We are not heroes of our own journey.” People follow leaders who care for them, who share their vision, and who are dedicated to serving a cause greater than one’s self."
schools  education  authority  hierarchy  uncertainty  certainty  complexity  criticalthinking  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  ranking  leadership  service  billgeorge  johncoleman 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Feminist FrequencyDamsel in Distress (Part 1) Tropes vs Women «
'The Tropes vs Women in Video Games project aims to examine the plot devices and patterns most often associated with female characters in gaming from a systemic, big picture perspective. This series will include critical analysis of many beloved games and characters, but remember that it is both possible (and even necessary) to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of it’s more problematic or pernicious aspects."
anitasarkeesian  criticism  media  videogames  criticalthinking  2013  games  gaming  via:anne 
march 2016 by robertogreco
12 | March | 2016 | visual/method/culture: remembering Doreen
"I’m writing this short post after reading an email from OU colleague Steve Pile confirming that Doreen Massey did indeed pass away on the afternoon of Friday 11 March 2016. I saw earlier tweets to the same effect and tweeted myself, and now it’s for sure.

Doreen has accompanied all of my academic life. I read her book Spatial Divisions of Labour as an undergraduate (still an outstandingly important text, in my view). She examined my PhD thesis (and told me I needed to write a methods section at the end of it….). I met her on and off as I worked on feminist and cultural geographies in London and Edinburgh after my PhD. I joined The Open University in 1999 and in the following years I worked with her on an OU geography module on globalisation and on a small research project on public art in Milton Keynes. And even after she retired, for some time anyway, she often was in her OU office just down the corridor from mine, working on talks and projects and politics, always ready to discuss and engage.

She wasn’t always an easy person to work with. She could be very critical; she could insist on things being done her way; she didn’t like any kind of admin. She could also, far more often, be incredibly warm – to everyone and anyone, absolutely – and she was one of the most charismatic speakers I have ever heard. I remember her tiny frame absolutely filling one enormous lecture hall with energy and passion, extemporising from handwritten notes, intensifying the entire space. I can hear her voice now, and her laughter.

Some of her ideas – spatial divisions of labour, relationality, a global sense of place, throwntogetherness – have transformed huge swathes of human geography and beyond. So many of us simply would not be doing what we do and how we do it without her work, even if many of us are doing different things from her. Her work transformed human geography’s ideas, but she also transformed many scholars as people, supporting them, pushing them, inspiring them. And that’s not even to start on her political work, from the Greater London Council to the Kilburn Manifesto.

I think it’s that massive humanity – including its flaws – that made me realise, this morning, after reading those tweets, that it had literally never crossed my mind, even though I knew she was ill, that she might die. Her energy, commitment, the sheer intensity and consistency of her engagement, somehow made such an outcome an impossibility. But it’s happened and I feel a massive absence now, a silence.

My tweet said RIP. But actually, now, I don’t want to think of her resting in peace. I much prefer to think of her arguing on, being thoughtful and awkward and sometimes difficult, never ever taking things for granted, always thinking towards openness and a different kind of future."
doreenmassey  2016  obituaries  via:anne  argement  openness  future  relationality  geography  gillianrose  humanism  humanity  flaws  intensity  criticalthinking  criticism 
march 2016 by robertogreco
How to Read for Grad School | Miriam E. Sweeney
"In graduate school the work load increases and students will find that they are expected to master two to three times the material that they were used to as an undergraduate. This can be intimidating to the point of overwhelming a student into paralysis. Following these tips should help you master your readings instead of allowing the readings to master you!

1. Read Strategically, Not Linearly. Reading for graduate school is different than reading a book for pleasure. When we read for pleasure we often start at the beginning of the book, reading carefully in a linear fashion. If you do this with your academic material, it will take twice as long and it is likely you won’t retain the right kind of information from the reading. Instead of reading linearly, read strategically. As an academic reader your job is to mine the text you are reading for information. Instead of cruising along the narrative, you need to dive in, find the information you need, and move along to the next stack of readings for class.

If you are reading a book this means you should look over the table of contents, then read the entire introduction carefully. In academic books, the introduction is where the author states all of their main points, the framework they will use, and an outline of what information will be covered in each chapter. Next, look over the last chapter. This is the conclusion, which will restate the main arguments of the author and will often contextualize these arguments in a broader context, suggest next steps, or speculate solutions or alternatives. From here you can go to the parts of the book you want deeper knowledge about. Individual chapters will be laid out similarly to the book structure with an introduction, and middle and the conclusion. Skimming the beginning and end of the chapter will give you the main points, then you can gather evidence by browsing the middle parts of the chapter. Remember, you are not really expected to read every single word of the book; your mandate is to understand the author’s main ideas, arguments, and be able to articulate why this discussion matters.

If you are reading a journal article, start by checking the name of the journal that published the article. This will key you in to the scope and boundaries that the article is working within. Next, carefully read the title and the abstract of the piece. A good abstract should clearly explain the main argument of the article, the kind of evidence the author uses, and a succinct conclusion, or what the author found out. Armed with this information, look over the introduction to see how the author is framing their work, paying attention to the citations they use. This tells you who the author is trying to be in dialogue with. Next, flip to the discussion section. Sometimes this is separate than the conclusion, sometimes not, depending on the disciplinary standards of the author and journal. Read the discussion and conclusion carefully. These sections will explain the author’s main arguments and the “why you should care” piece. Now you can go back through the article armed with the knowledge of where the author is leading you and browse over methods and results sections. Pay attention particularly to images and data visualizations. Note how these things relate to or support the discussion and conclusion sections you read.

Reading strategically instead of linearly will make you a more efficient and effective academic reader. Getting familiar with how different formats of writing are structured will give you the confidence and control to find the information you need in them more efficiently.

2. Take Notes! As you are reading strategically, you absolutely must take notes simultaneously. Otherwise it is guaranteed you will not remember the kinds of details you need to recall in class, in your paper, in your own research down the road. Develop a system of your own whether it is sticking a post-it note in the book and jotting something down, or opening up RefWorks or Zotero, or Word and throwing some notes down as you read. Whatever you do, remember that future you will have NO IDEA what present you is thinking, no matter how brilliant a thought it is. Be specific, include detailed citations and pages numbers for direct quotes so you don’t have to chase them later.

If you are reading as preparation for a class, make sure you are also jotting down 3-5 questions, observations, or provocations that you can use in class for participation. In grad school, everyone is expected to participate on a high level, so have something to say ahead of time to avoid the high-blood pressure that comes from your professor’s cold, hard stare.

3. Be purposeful. Being purposeful in your readings means that as you are moving strategically through the text you are also being deliberate about what you want to glean from the reading, what are meant to glean, and how this fits with the other readings and conversations you have had in class, along with your own life experiences. Ask yourself, “What is the author trying to say? What is motivating her exploration of this topic? What does this research contribute? What academic conversations is the author trying to align with? What are the main arguments of this piece? How does this relate to my other assigned readings?” Going in with these questions in mind will focus you as you read and aid you in pulling out the most relevant information.

4. A Critical Perspective. Lastly, applying a critical perspective in your reading is helpful for situating a reading in broader contexts. Contrary to how it sounds, being critical does not simply mean being negative or criticizing wantonly. Critical perspectives are those that trace and name flows of power: Who has power and who does not? Who benefits from particular social arrangements, and whom do they marginalize? Critical perspectives also question assumptions and values that are implicit in arguments: What values are underlying this work? What experiences and perspectives do these values privilege? How might centering different values or experiences re-frame the argument or conversation? Asking questions like this will help you have deeper conversations about your readings, and really, isn’t that the whole point of graduate school?

Time to make your reading work for you- good luck!"
reading  pedagogy  teaching  2012  miriamsweeney  howto  tutorials  studying  notetaking  criticalthinking  gradschool  howtoread  academia  academics 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Teaching Rebellion: Schools Must Cultivate A Struggle for Justice | The Progressive
[Remarks by José Vilson:

"The issue with only focusing on literacy for its own sake is that some kids get to learn how to read manuals and some get to create them."

"Inequity isn't just about access to academics, but the actual pedagogy, which is largely a function of the adults and the systems within." ]

"“Our ultimate objective in learning about anything is to try to create and develop a more just society”-Yuri Kochiyama

These words from human rights activist Yuri Kochiyama are never far from my mind each morning as I think about my students. I plan our lessons as just one tiny sliver of a great, historic justice movement.

So much of the debate in education is about how poverty and other outside forces impact kids in school, but in many classrooms students are learning to use their education to fight poverty and systemic oppression. With a nod to Dr. King, if we are to win, we must focus all of our energy on tilting the moral arc of the universe toward justice and to counter those who are actively pushing in the opposite direction.

For many across the country right now, this idea is contained in the image of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old executed in a short minute by 16 shots from a Chicago police officer’s gun. Laquan didn’t need more academic rigor, he needed a city that valued his life.

But if the Laquan McDonald shooting is a wake up call to the nation, it reflects something we in Chicago have known all along. We live in city ruled by people who do not value the lives of black youth. Chicago Police rank third nationally in shooting and killing residents, and disproportionately shoot African Americans. Chicago police harass residents, especially youth of color, with a stop-and-frisk rate nearly sixty times that of New York police.

In Chicago, groups like Black Youth Project 100, STOP/FLY, VOYCE, and Project NIA have been fighting this battle for years. These young folks are very clear about the systemic nature of this deadly oppression. The Chicago Teachers Union and its social justice unionist caucus CORE (of which I am a member) have joined the students to take vocal stands against racist oppression both in the streets and within our schools.

We all agree that mayor Rahm Emanuel and the powerful people who worked to get him elected don’t care, or know how to care, about kids afflicted by poverty in our communities. We see this in the Laquan McDonald video and those of the killings of Ronald Johnson and Philip Coleman and others. The mayor and his cronies drop crocodile tears, apologies, and promises to change, even as they fight the release of news about the murder of another Chicago youth. We see the same callousness in the systemic protection of Dante Servin who murdered Rekia Boyd.

Thousands of people who poured into the streets demanding the resignations of Rahm Emanuel and other city leaders responsible for these injustices will not be placated by apologies and spin doctoring.

The Chicago Teachers Union has announced that 88% of its teachers voted to authorize a strike. Only 4% voted against. We have even invited parent and community groups to the bargaining table to voice their own demands, much to the board’s chagrin. Those opposed might paint our demands for more libraries, nurses, and social workers as unfeasible given the school district’s financial crisis. But our students’ lives matter, and they deserve the same services that Mayor Emanuel’s own children receive.

In this context, Kochiyama’s quote seems to me a deep universal truth to embed in the heart of every student. When a young person knows he or she might die in the street at the hands of a police officer who is supposed to be there to protect all kids’ safety, the respectability politics of “no excuses,” “academic rigor,” and “college and career ready,” add insult to a desperate, injurious reality.

Why waste precious class time doing a close read of a technical manual from a Pearson reader when we can read local newspapers and community blogs? Why should students learn docile obedience in class when the times call for us to civilly disobey and march in the streets? What does “College and Career Ready” matter when the bodies of students of color are being obliterated?

Kochiyama’s quote is not so much a directive, but a brilliant guiding light.

For the last month at my school, our 7th and 8th grade students have studied the Laquan McDonald case as part of a broader look at race, justice, policing, and violence in 21st century Chicago. The students have participated in actions of their choice, and built their own campaigns, for example a push to amend the uniform policy to allow all black dress for #BlackoutTuesday in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

They ask me each morning, “When’s the next protest? “Has Rahm Emanuel resigned yet?”

Students at Roosevelt High School are boycotting the unhealthy lunches served to them; at Dusable Campus students launched a sit-in to protest the closing of one of the few remaining libraries left in primarily black high schools. Student leaders are joining community activists for a walkout calling for Mayor Emanuel’s resignation.

Our youth are not failing. They are reacting with their whole hearts to what they feel and witness in their communities. For too long, school has been a place where righteous youth rebellion is smothered and placated. Too many teachers put a halt to social justice in their classrooms with the phrase: “It’s good you want to act, but don’t disrupt the teaching and learning here."

Let’s make school a place to plan, build skills and plot to smash injustice. Let’s teach our students that it is not only permissible, but desired for them wake up every single day with their minds set on justice, and that they can use their schools to fight for their own and our communities’ survival.

As Grace Lee Boggs put it, “We are the leaders we’ve been waiting for.”

In that sense, this isn’t just Chicago’s struggle. Yes, we have a particularly oppressive leadership. But the reality is the same elsewhere. If you are an educator, join us with your own students. Create a space for students to develop into leaders of this movement. If you are not a teacher, help us by recognizing that our communities need to stop waiting for outside leadership. Let’s grab the future!"
xianbarrett  yurikochiyama  2015  revolution  criticalthinking  schools  chicago  education  teaching  howweteach  local  community  relevance  empowerment  curriculum  josévilson  socialjustice  activism  democracy  publicschools  literacy  power  voice  pedagogy 
december 2015 by robertogreco
bell hooks: Buddhism, the Beats and Loving Blackness - The New York Times
"G.Y.: Absolutely. You’ve talked about how theory can function as a place of healing. Can you say more about that?

b.h.: I always start with children. Most children are amazing critical thinkers before we silence them. I think that theory is essentially a way to make sense of the world; as a gifted child growing up in a dysfunctional family where giftedness was not appreciated, what held me above water was the idea of thinking through, “Why are Mom and Dad the way they are?” And those are questions that are at the heart of critical thinking. And that’s why I think critical thinking and theory can be such a source of healing. It moves us forward. And, of course, I don’t know about other thinkers and writers, but I have the good fortune every day of my life to have somebody contacting me, either on the streets or by mail, telling me about how my work has changed their life, how it has enabled them to go forward. And what greater gift to be had as a thinker-theorist, than that?"

"G.Y.: Is there a connection between teaching as a space of healing and your understanding of love?

b.h.: Well, I believe whole-heartedly that the only way out of domination is love, and the only way into really being able to connect with others, and to know how to be, is to be participating in every aspect of your life as a sacrament of love, and that includes teaching. I don’t do a lot of teaching these days. I am semi-retired. Because, like any act of love, it takes a lot of your energy."

"G.Y.: You’ve conceptualized love as the opposite of estrangement. Can you say something about that?

b.h.: When we engage love as action, you can’t act without connecting. I often think of that phrase, only connect. In terms of white supremacy right now for instance, the police stopped me a few weeks ago here in Berea, because I was doing something wrong. I initially felt fear, and I was thinking about the fact that in all of my 60-some years of my life in this country, I have never felt afraid of policemen before, but I feel afraid now. He was just total sweetness. And yet I thought, what a horrible change in our society that that level of estrangement has taken place that was not there before.

I know that the essential experience of black men and women has always been different, but from the time I was a girl to now, I never thought the police were my enemy. Yet, what black woman witnessing the incredible abuse of Sandra Bland can’t shake in her boots if she’s being stopped by the police? When I was watching that video, I was amazed the police didn’t shoot her on the spot! White supremacist white people are crazy.

I used to talk about patriarchy as a mental illness of disordered desire, but white supremacy is equally a serious and profound mental illness, and it leads people to do completely and utterly insane things. I think one of the things that is going on in our society is the normalization of mental illness, and the normalization of white supremacy, and the evocation and the spreading of this is part of that mental illness. So remember that we are a culture in crisis. Our crisis is as much a spiritual crisis as it is a political crisis, and that’s why Martin Luther King, Jr. was so profoundly prescient in describing how the work of love would be necessary to have a transformative impact.

G.Y.: And of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t find an important place in your work for rage, as in your book “Killing Rage”?

b.h.: Oh, absolutely. The first time that I got to be with Thich Nhat Hanh, I had just been longing to meet him. I was like, I’m going to meet this incredibly holy man. On the day that I was going to him, every step of the way I felt that I was encountering some kind of racism or sexism. When I got to him, the first thing out of my mouth was, “I am so angry!” And he, of course, Mr. Calm himself, Mr. Peace, said, “Well, you know, hold on to your anger, and use it as compost for your garden.” And I thought, “Yes, yes, I can do that!” I tell that story to people all the time. I was telling him about the struggles I was having with my male partner at the time and he said, “It is O.K. to say I want to kill you, but then you need to step back from that, and remember what brought you to this person in the first place.” And I think that if we think of anger as compost, we think of it as energy that can be recycled in the direction of our good. It is an empowering force. If we don’t think about it that way, it becomes a debilitating and destructive force.

G.Y.: Since you mentioned Sandra Bland, and there are so many other cases that we can mention, how can we use the trauma that black people are experiencing, or reconfigure that trauma into compost? How can black people do that? What does that look like therapeutically, or collectively?

b.h.: We have to be willing to be truthful. And to be truthful, we have to say, the problem that black people face, the trauma of white supremacy in our lives, is not limited to police brutality. That’s just one aspect. I often say that the issue for young black males is the street. If you only have the streets, you encounter violence on all sides: black on black violence, the violence of addiction, and the violence of police brutality. So the question is why at this stage of our history, with so many wealthy black people, and so many gifted black people, how do we provide a place other than the streets for black males? And it is so gendered, because the street, in an imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, is male, especially when it is dark. There is so much feeling of being lost that it is beyond the trauma of racism. It is the trauma of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, because poverty has become infinitely more violent than it ever was when I was a girl. You lived next door to very poor black people, but who had very joyful lives. That’s not the poverty of today.

G.Y.: How is the poverty of today different?

b.h.: Let’s face it, one of the things white people gave us when they gave us integration was full access to the tormenting reality of desire, and the expectation of constant consumption. So part of the difference of poverty today is this sort of world of fantasy — fantasizing that you’ll win the lottery, fantasizing that money will come. I always cling to Lorraine Hansberry’s mama saying in “A in Raisin in the Sun,” “Since when did money become life?” I think that with the poverty of my growing up that I lived with and among, we were always made to feel like money is not what life is all about. That’s the total difference for everyone living right now, because most people in our culture believe money is everything. That is the big tie, the connecting tie to black, white, Hispanic, native people, Asian people — the greed and the materialism that we all invest in and share.

G.Y.: When you make that claim, I can see some readers saying that bell is pathologizing black spaces.

b.h.: As I said, we have normalized mental illness in this society. So it’s not the pathologizing of black spaces; it’s saying that the majority of cultural spaces in our society are infused with pathology. That’s why it’s so hard to get out of it, because it has become the culture that is being fed to us every day. None of us can escape it unless we do so by conscious living and conscious loving, and that’s become harder for everybody. I don’t have a problem stating the fact that trauma creates wounds, and most of our wounds are not healed as African-Americans. We’re not really different in that way from all the others who are wounded. Let’s face it — wounded white people frequently can cover up their wounds, because they have greater access to material power.

I find it fascinating that every day you go to the supermarket, and you look at the people, and you look at us, and you look at all of this media that is parading the sorrows and the mental illnesses of the white rich in our society. And it’s like everybody just skips over that. Nobody would raise the question, “why don’t we pathologize the rich?” We actually believe that they suffer mental illness, and that they deserve healing. The issue for us as black people is that very few people feel that we deserve healing. Which is why we have very few systems that promote healing in our lives. The primary system that ever promoted healing in black people is the church, and we see what is going on in most churches today. They’ve become an extension of that material greed.

G.Y.: As you shared being stopped by police, I thought of your book “Black Looks: Race and Representation,” where you describe whiteness as a site of terror. Has that changed for you?

b.h.: I don’t think that has changed for most black people. That particular essay, “Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination,” talks about whiteness, the black imagination, and how many of us live in fear of whiteness. And I emphasize the story about the policeman because for many of us that fear of whiteness has intensified. I think that white people, for the most part, never think about black people wanting to be in black only spaces, because we do not feel safe.

In my last book, “Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice,” I really wanted to raise and problematize the question: Where do we feel safe as black people? I definitely return to the home as a place of spiritual possibility, home as a holy place.

I bought my current house from a conservative white male capitalist who lives across the street from me, and I’m so happy in my little home. I tell people, when I open the doors of my house it’s like these arms come out, and they’re just embracing me. I think that is part of our radical resistance to the culture of domination. I know that I’m not who he imagined in this little house. He imagined a nice white family with two kids, and I think on some level it was very hard for … [more]
bellhooks  2015  georgeyancy  buddhism  christianity  spirituality  religion  race  class  patriarchy  racism  classism  mentalillness  money  greed  mentalhealth  society  capitalism  consumerism  materialism  domination  power  gender  feminism  idenity  listening  love  humor  martinlutherkingjr  cornelwest  allies  influence  homes  intellectualism  theory  practice  criticalthinking  pedagogy  writing  children  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  howweteach  oedagogy  solitude  workinginpublic  publicintellectuals  narcissism  healing  malcolmx  blackness  whitesupremacy  abandonment  betrayal  anger  masculinity  markmcleodbethune  resistance  safety  whiteness  terror  wealth  imperialism  inequality  pathology  poverty  truth  truthfulness  sandrabland  thichnhathanh  activism  estrangement  everyday  humanism  humanization  humility  grace  change  changemaking  transformation  canon  empowerment  composting  desire  lotteries  lorrainehansberry  araisininthesun  culture  trauma  sorrow  leadership  psychology  self-determination  slow  small  beatpoets  jackkerouac  garysnyder  beatpoetry  ethics 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Jacob’s Ladder of coding — Medium
"Anecdotes and questions about climbing up and down the ladder of abstraction: Atari, ARM, demoscene, education, creative coding, community, seeking lightness, enlightenment & strange languages"

"With only an hour or two of computer time a week, our learning and progress was largely down to intensive trial & error, daily homework and learning to code and debug with only pencil and paper, whilst trying to be the machine yourself: Playing every step through in our heads (and on paper) over and over until we were confident, the code did as we’d expect, yet, often still failing because of wrong intuitions. Learning this analytical thinking is essential to successful debugging, even today, specifically in languages / environments where no GUI debugger is available. In the late 90s, John Maeda did similar exercises at MIT Media Lab, with students role-playing different parts of a CPU or a whole computer executing a simple process. Later at college, my own CS prof too would often quote Alan Perlis:
“To understand a program you must become both the machine and the program.” — Alan Perlis

Initially we’d only be using the machine largely to just verify our ideas prepared at home (spending the majority of the time typing in/correcting numbers from paper). Through this monastic style of working, we also learned the importance of having the right tools and balance of skills within the group and were responsible to create them ourselves in order to achieve our vision. This important lesson stayed with me throughout (maybe even became) my career so far… Most projects I worked on, especially in the past 15 years, almost exclusively relied on custom-made tooling, which was as much part of the final outcome as the main deliverable to clients. Often times it even was the main deliverable. On the other hand, I’ve also had to learn the hard way that being a largely self-sufficient generalist often is undesired in the modern workplace, which frequently still encourages narrow expertise above all else…

After a few months of convincing my parents to invest all of their saved up and invaluable West-german money to purchase a piece of “Power Without the Price” (a much beloved Atari 800XL) a year before the Wall came down in Berlin, I finally gained daily access to a computer, but was still in a similar situation as before: No more hard west money left to buy a tape nor disk drive from the Intershop, I wasn’t able to save any work (apart from creating paper copies) and so the Atari was largely kept switched on until November 10, 1989, the day after the Berlin Wall was opened and I could buy an XC-12 tape recorder. I too had to choose whether to go the usual route of working with the built-in BASIC language or stick with what I’d learned/taught myself so far, Assembly… In hindsight, am glad I chose the latter, since it proved to be far more useful and transportable knowledge, even today!"

"Lesson learned: Language skills, natural and coded ones, are gateways, opening paths not just for more expression, but also to paths in life.

As is the case today, so it was back then: People tend to organize around specific technological interests, languages and platforms and then stick with them for a long time, for better or worse. Over the years I’ve been part of many such tool-based communities (chronologically: Asm, C, TurboPascal, Director, JS, Flash, Java, Processing, Clojure) and have somewhat turned into a nomad, not being able to ever find a true home in most of them. This might sound judgemental and negative, but really isn’t meant to and these travels through the land of languages and toolkits has given me much food for thought. Having slowly climbed up the ladder of abstraction and spent many years both with low & high level languages, has shown me how much each side of the spectrum can inform and learn from the other (and they really should do more so!). It’s an experience I can highly recommend to anyone attempting to better understand these machines some of us are working with for many hours a day and which impact so much of all our lives. So am extremely grateful to all the kind souls & learning encountered on the way!"

"In the vastly larger open source creative computing demographic of today, the by far biggest groups are tight-knit communities around individual frameworks and languages. There is much these platforms have achieved in terms of output, increasing overall code literacy and turning thousands of people from mere computer users into authors. This is a feat not be underestimated and a Good Thing™! Yet my issue with this siloed general state of affairs is that, apart from a few notable exceptions (especially the more recent arrivals), there’s unfortunately a) not much cross-fertilizing with fundamentally different and/or new ideas in computing going on and b) over time only incremental progress is happening, business as usual, rather than a will to continuously challenge core assumptions among these largest communities about how we talk to machines and how we can do so better. I find it truly sad that many of these popular frameworks rely only on the same old imperative programming language family, philosophy and process, which has been pre-dominant and largely unchanged for the past 30+ years, and their communities also happily avoid or actively reject alternative solutions, which might require fundamental changes to their tools, but which actually could be more suitable and/or powerful to their aims and reach. Some of these platforms have become and act as institutions in their own right and as such also tend to espouse an inward looking approach & philosophy to further cement their status (as owners or pillars?) in their field. This often includes a no-skills-neccessary, we-cater-all-problems promise to their new users, with each community re-inventing the same old wheels in their own image along the way. It’s Not-Invented-Here on a community level: A reliance on insular support ecosystems, libraries & tooling is typical, reducing overall code re-use (at least between communities sharing the same underlying language) and increasing fragmentation. More often than not these platforms equate simplicity with ease (go watch Rich Hickey taking this argument eloquently apart!). The popular prioritization of no pre-requisite knowledge, super shallow learning curves and quick results eventually becomes the main obstacle to later achieve systemic changes, not just in these tools themselves, but also for (creative) coding as discipline at large. Bloatware emerges. Please do forgive if that all sounds harsh, but I simply do believe we can do better!

Every time I talk with others about this topic, I can’t help but think about Snow Crash’s idea of “Language is a virus”. I sometimes do wonder what makes us modern humans, especially those working with computing technology, so fundamentalist and brand-loyal to these often flawed platforms we happen to use? Is it really that we believe there’s no better way? Are we really always only pressed for time? Are we mostly content with Good Enough? Are we just doing what everyone else seems to be doing? Is it status anxiety, a feeling we have to use X to make a living? Are we afraid of unlearning? Is it that learning tech/coding is (still) too hard, too much of an effort, which can only be justified a few times per lifetime? For people who have been in the game long enough and maybe made a name for themselves in their community, is it pride, sentimentality or fear of becoming a complete beginner again? Is it maybe a sign that the way we teach computing and focus on concrete tools too early in order to obtain quick, unrealistically complex results, rather than fundamental (“boring”) knowledge, which is somewhat flawed? Is it our addiction to largely focus on things we can document/celebrate every minor learning step as an achievement in public? This is no stab at educators — much of this systemic behavior is driven by the sheer explosion of (too often similar) choices, demands made by students and policy makers. But I do think we should ask ourselves these questions more often."

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coding  via:tealtan  2015  abstraction  demoscene  education  creativecoding  math  mathematics  howwelearn  typography  design  dennocoil  alanperlis  johnmaeda  criticalthinking  analyticalthinking  basic  programming  assembly  hexcode  georgedyson  computing  computers  atari  amiga  commodore  sinclair  identity  opensource  insularity  simplicity  ease  language  languages  community  communities  processing  flexibility  unschooling  deschooling  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  understanding  bottomup  topdown  karstenschmidt 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Banal Uselessness of the Utopian Binary Critique | Hapgood
"I was watching Jesse Stommel at NWeLearn this past week give an excellent presentation on grading. In it he suggested a number of alternatives to traditional grading, and outlined some of the ways that traditional grading is baked into the system.

And the end of the talk, the inevitable hand: “Your presentation seems so BINARY,” says the questioner, “Why is it so either/or? Why can’t it be both/and?”


I outlined my vision of a different approach to networked learning last week to a number of people at dLRN, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. But the negatives were very negative.

“I think it’s utopian,” they said, “You’re not going to eliminate all online nastiness with a different software format.”

I looked over my presentation to try to find the spot where we reached the Age of Aquarius via some Node server installs. I saw a lot of places where I said we could be doing much better, but couldn’t find the places where we cured all ills.

I was watching someone give a presentation on the struggles of the non-traditional student. After the presentation people were talking. I’m worried about the binaries here, they said. Why do we talk about non-traditional vs. traditional? Why can’t we just talk about STUDENTS?

I got some great feedback at dLRN. And I love cynical feedback more than anything. My favorite comment was from Justin Reich who said “So you show how this different, older, way could preserve complexity. But maybe we abandoned it because we hate complexity, right?”

That’s a great comment. I actually can’t get it out of my head it’s so good.

You know what’s not a great comment?

• “How does this solve world hunger, sexism, and inequality once and for all?”
• “Why is this so either/or?”
• “Why is this so utopian?”
• “We need to get past these binaries.”

These aren’t really useful questions, and I’ve come to realize they aren’t meant to be. The issue with Jesse’s call to action and mine is the same — we’re both arguing for things which are so far out of the mainstream of practice you have to squint to see them.

Saying “Why is this so binary?” when presented with an alternate, minority vision is simply a way of supporting the status quo, by not engaging with the reality that the dominant paradigm is NOT “both/and” but rather “almost entirely this”. The world of the person making the “utopian binary” critique is one where they get to ignore the existing disparities the binary calls to light — a trick most recently seen in the ridiculous #alllivesmatter hash tag: “But why single out *black* lives?”

The “utopian” critique is very similar —
Them: “If this cannot solve all problems, then how can we be excited about it?”

Me: “But I didn’t say it solved all problems!”

Them: “Aha! So you admit it doesn’t solve anything!”

Me: “Um, which one of us is utopian again?”

This approach suffers the same affliction, assuming that we must compare a proposed solution against the standard of an imagined perfect world rather than a screwed up current state.

I’ve come to realize that, no matter how many caveats you add to your writing, people for whom the status quo works will always reply that your ideas are interesting, but why are they so binary, so utopian? I used to take these critiques seriously, but I don’t anymore. It’s simply a rhetorical move to avoid comparing your solution with a status quo that is difficult for them to defend.

It’s like replying to a presentation on solar-powered cars with “But why can’t we have both solar powered cars AND gasoline cars?” Or with “But there will still be pollution from BUILDING the cars so you haven’t solved anything!”

It’s like replying to a presentation on scaling down the American military in favor of increasing foreign relief aid with “But why can’t we have both the American military AND foreign relief aid?” Or with “But foreign relief aid STILL doesn’t always reach the most vulnerable, so you haven’t solved anything!”

It’s like replying to a presentation on Global Warming with “But why can’t find a balance between controlling global warming and protecting business interest?” Or “But global warming is going to happen anyway, so you haven’t solved anything!”

There’s as little chance that the world is going to go overboard on Jesse’s Peter Elbow inspired grading models as there is that we’re going to veer too much toward addressing global warming or decreasing U. S. Military funding (appx. $2,000 per capita) relative to our foreign aid (about $70 per capita). There’s as little chance that our “Pull to Refresh” obsessed culture is going to go overboard with wiki as there is that solar-powered vehicles will result in a war against gas-powered cars.

People who make such objections are not serious people, or in any not case serious thinkers in that moment. The reason we make binaries in our comparisons is to show how unbalanced the status quo is. The “binary” of pitting military spending against foreign aid is to show how out of balance out priorities are, just as the “binary” of Jesse’s holistic grading against more rigid models is to show how little time we spend on the whole student. And the reason we posit the binary of the “nontraditional student” against the “traditional student” is that 90% of policy and conversation right now is directed at the latter, and separating these details can show this.

The Garden approach I outlined at dLRN might not work, and holistic grading might fail at the scale people need to use it at. That solar car may run up against physical and environmental realities that make it unfeasible. Our policies to help the nontraditional student may solve the wrong issues, or assume a political climate we don’t have right now. Foreign aid may be better directed at world hunger or medical research, or perhaps there are good reasons for spending $800 billion on a military. Perhaps, far from making things better, a set of proposals would make things worse in ways the historically literate can predict. All these are interesting points, and great follow-ups to presentations outlining potential courses of action.

Additionally, some binaries are ill-formed, and give a distorted picture of reality. That’s an interesting point as well. Is androgogy/pedagogy a more helpful lens on a particular issue than first-generation/nth-generation? Does the research support a division like “Digital Natives/Digital Immigrants”? (hint: it doesn’t).

These are great questions too.

“Why so utopian?” and “Why so binary?” Not so much.

Here’s my pitch to you, and it is always the same. I think we can do substantially better than we do now, in a way that benefits most people. I think it requires rethinking some assumptions about how we teach and how we tech. I think the positive impact is likely relative to how deep we’re willing to go in questioning current assumptions.

So, if you like the status quo, or think it’s better than what is proposed, then defend it! If you think my ideas will not be adopted or will make things worse, then show me why!

But to the Utopian Binary comment crowd: Stop pretending people like Jesse and I are making utopian, either/or arguments. It’s a lazy rhetorical move, I’m tired of it, and you’re taking time from people with real questions."

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mikecaufield  2015  utopia  criticism  critique  binaries  education  change  cynicism  jessestommel  tcsnmy  cv  unschooling  deschooling  utopianism  rhetoric  minorityview  statusquo  justinreich  complexity  falsebinaries  criticalthinking  grading  grades 
december 2015 by robertogreco
A venture capitalist searches for the purpose of school. Here’s what he found. - The Washington Post
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"I was now fully consumed with this cause. I stepped up my pace, criss-crossing the country to visit schools and gain perspective. I was in hot pursuit of the right answer to the question: “What is the purpose of school?” Everywhere I looked — mission statements, meetings with school leaders, websites — I’d find sensible, even inspiring, purposes:

• teach students cognitive and social skills
• teach students to think
• build character and soul
• help students in a process of self-discovery
• prepare students to be responsible, contributing citizens
• inspire students through the study of humanity’s great works
• prepare students for productive careers

I probed educators on these alternatives, trying to determine the purpose of school, as though answering an SAT question. But I gradually came to realize that this choice was poorly framed. For starters, each of these goals have merit. If some classrooms prepare students for productive careers, and others prioritize on character development, that’s a good thing. And shouldn’t we celebrate an educator who accomplishes one of these goals — not snipe over whether an alternative purpose is superior?

But what came across loud and clear in my journeys is that schools don’t have the luxury of striving for any meaningful purpose. We’ve somehow imposed a system on our educators that requires them to:

• cover volumes of bureaucratically-prescribed content
• boost scores on increasingly-pervasive standardized tests
• get kids through this year’s vacuous hoops to prepare for next year’s vacuous hoops
• produce acceptable graduation rates and college placements
• deal with parents who are either obsessive micro-managers or missing in action.

How did we get here? A deep dive into the history of education helped me appreciate that our school model was brilliantly designed. Over a century ago. In 1893, Charles Eliot of Harvard and the Committee of Ten anticipated a surge of manufacturing jobs as our country moved beyond agriculture. They re-imagined the U.S. education model, ushering in a factory school model to replace the one-room school house. This path-breaking system of universal public education trained students to perform rote tasks rapidly without errors or creative variation — perfect for assembly-line jobs. The system worked spectacularly, a robust middle class emerged, and America became the world’s most powerful country.

Somewhat incredibly, we still utilize this covered-wagon-era education model. Warning signs about its faltering effectiveness go back for decades. In 1983, the blue-ribbon report titled “A Nation At Risk” concluded that if our education system had been imposed on us by a foreign country, we’d declare it an act of war. Yet instead of reinventing the model (as the Committee of Ten did in 1893), we chose to muddle along with short-term, often counter-productive, tweaks. Teachers and students described to me endless additions to content, baffling new standards, and relentless high-stakes standardized tests of low-level cognitive skills. Our nation is hellbent on catching Singapore and South Korea on test scores — a goal those very countries have concluded is nonsensical. We’re betting millions of futures on No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top — our twin orbiting black holes of education — with annual reports on par with the season run-down for the Washington Generals.

And how much are our kids really learning? If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that they’re not learning. Practically anything.

In my travels, I visited the Lawrenceville School, rated as one of the very best high schools in the United States. To its credit, Lawrenceville conducted a fascinating experiment a decade ago. After summer vacation, returning students retook the final exams they had completed in June for their science courses. Actually, they retook simplified versions of these exams, after faculty removed low-level “forgettable” questions The results were stunning. The average grade in June was a B+ (87 percent). When the simplified test was taken in September, the average grade plummeted to an F (58 percent). Not one student retained mastery of all key concepts they appear to have learned in June. The obvious question: if what was “learned” vanishes so quickly, was anything learned in the first place?

The holy grail in our high schools is the Advanced Placement (AP) track. Pioneered 50 years ago by elite private schools to demonstrate the superior student progress, AP courses now pervade mainstream public schools. Over and over, well-intentioned people call for improving U.S. education by getting more of our kids — especially in poor communities — into AP courses. But do our kids learn in AP courses? In an experiment conducted by Dartmouth College, entering students with a 5 on their AP Psychology exam took the final exam from the college’s introductory Psych course. A pitiful 10 percent passed. Worse, when the AP superstars did enroll in intro Psych, they performed no better than classmates with no prior coursework in the subject area. It’s as though the AP students had learned nothing about psychology. And that’s the point.

Along the way, I met Eric Mazur, Area Dean for Applied Physics at Harvard University, and was surprised to discover that many of our country’s most innovative ideas about education come from this one physics professor. Over a decade ago, Eric realized that even his top students (800 on SAT’s, 5 on AP Physics, A in first-year Physics at Harvard) were learning almost no real science. When asked simple questions about how the world works (e.g., what’s the flight path of a pallet of bricks dropped from the cargo hatch of a plane flying overhead?), their responses were little better than guessing. He abandoned his traditional course format (centered on memorizing formulas and definitions), and re-invented his classroom experience. His students debate each other in engaged Socratic discussion, collaborate and critique, and develop real insights into their physical universe. While his results are superb, almost all other U.S. high-school and college science classes, even at top-rated institutions, remain locked into a broken pedagogy whose main purpose is weeding kids out of these career paths..

Systematic studies, such as the findings of Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s groundbreaking book “Academically Adrift,” reach similar conclusions about how little our students are learning, even at the college level. They report that “gains in student performance are disturbingly low; a pattern of limited learning is prevalent on contemporary college campuses.” Richard Keeling and Richard Hersh, in “We’re Losing Our Minds,” conclude that far too many college graduates can’t “think critically and creatively, speak and write cogently and clearly, solve problems, comprehend complex issues, accept responsibility and accountability, take the perspective of others, or meet the expectations of employers.”

The debate about the purpose of education ignores the elephant in the classroom. We have wrapped up our schools in rote memorization, low-level testing, and misguided accountability — preventing them from achieving any real purpose. It’s a fool’s errand to debate whether students are better off memorizing and forgetting Plato’s categorization of the three parts of a human’s soul, the quadratic equation, or the definition of the Cost of Goods Sold. If classroom “learning” is a mirage, it doesn’t matter whether it’s based on “The Odyssey,” a biology textbook, AP History flashcards, or a phone book.

At this point, a part of me felt like declaring education to be our domestic equivalent of Iraq. Maybe I’d be better off going back to my original travel-and-bad-golf plan. But, actually, I was inspired. Why? I was finding the most amazing rays of hope — schools offering powerful learning experiences. I realized moving our schools forward can happen, since we know what to do. Greatness is happening daily across our country, often in schools with scant financial resources. Our challenge is that these innovations are isolated, when they need to be ubiquitous.

The United States now has more than 500 “Deeper Learning” schools, most in our nation’s poorest communities. Clustered into a dozen networks, these schools aren’t “cookie-cutter” replicas of each other. But in their own creative ways, they deliver exceptional learning based on shared principles:

• self-directed learning
• a sense of purpose and authenticity in student experiences
• trust in teachers to teach to their passions and expertise
• a focus on essential skills (collaboration, communication, creativity, critical analysis)
• teachers as coaches, mentors, and advisers, not as lecturers
• lots of project-based challenges and learning
• public display of meaningful student work

Many focus on project-based learning (PBL), a bland phrase for a powerful approach to learning. One PBL leader, High Tech High in San Diego, now includes a dozen schools spanning K through 12, and offers its own graduate school of education. Curiously, out of 1,400 schools of education in our country training our next generation of K12 teachers, only two are integral to a K=12 school. In walking the halls of HTH (and they get more than 3,000 visitors each year), I observed a school experience that doesn’t look anything like what’s taking place today in most U.S. grade 7-16 classrooms. I felt real urgency in helping more people see the power of this pedagogy.

When it comes to PBL, two school networks are scaling rapidly with exceptional results — the New Tech Network and Expeditionary Learning. Both provide training for teachers along with a vetted curriculum, and cost-effectively … [more]
unschooling  deschooling  education  pedagogy  schools  us  2015  projectbasedlearning  learning  howwelearn  internships  apprenticeships  collaboration  communication  creativity  criticalthinking  tcsnmy  thefutureproject  bigpicturelearning  hightechhigh  mostlikelytosucceed  success  teaching  trust  mentoring  mentors  self-directed  self-directedlearning  richardarum  josiparoksa  ericmazur  bureaucracy  teddintersmith  purpose  schooling  schooliness  howweteach  curriculum  anationatrisk  williamderesiewicz 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Reading Right-to-Left |
"At a conference I attended recently, one of the speakers noted how the US army trains observers to “read” a landscape from right to left. The idea is that, as Anglophones accustomed to reading left to right, reversing the direction of attention brings more concentration to bear on the situation. Moving from right to left disrupts the soldier’s instinctual recognition patterns, and so they are more likely to spot things. This skill has apparently migrated from soldiers to photographers:
“One of the first tricks I learned many years ago had nothing to do with photography, but was drilled into me by an army sergeant. It only took a few smacks up the back of my head to learn how to look from right-to-left when scanning a landscape in an effort to see the hidden “enemy” in our mock battles. This process of reverse reading forced me to slow down and read each tree as if it were a syllable I was seeing for the first time. Even today, about thirty years after I called that sergeant every adjective not found in a decent dictionary, I still find myself scanning a landscape from right-to-left.”

The conference speaker contrasted this way of seeing, and the assumptions explicit within it, with the Japanese way of reading, which may be right-to-left, or vertical:


One might also, in the context of today’s military operations consider the right-to-leftness of Hebrew and Arabic script (and Farsi, and Urdu) – and from there consider the verticality and three-dimensionality of text and thought online, the way it branches and deepens, how it recedes through the screen, through hyperlinks, into an endless chain of connections and relationships.

This reversal and inversion of language patterns has many historical and thus military uses. In Reality is Plenty, Kevin Slavin relates a tale told to him by a photography professor, who was trained as a World War II radar operator.

When radar signals were received aboard an aircraft carrier, they were displayed on a radar oscilloscope. But in order for this information be used in the midst of battle, the positions needed to be transcribed to a large glass viewing pane, and as part of this process they needed to be inverted and reversed. To perform this operation quickly and accurately, the radar operators were trained and drilled extensively in “upside down and backwards town”, a classified location where everything from newspapers to street signs were printed upside down and backwards. This experience would not so much create a new ability for the radar operators, as break down their existing biases towards left-to-right text, allowing them to operate in multiple dimensions at once.


This process, in Kevin’s reading and in mine, is akin to much of our experience of new technology, when our existing frameworks of reference, both literary and otherwise, are broken down, and we must learn over once again how to operate in the world, how to transform and transliterate information, how to absorb it, think it, search for it and deploy it. We must relearn our relationship not only with information, but with knowledge itself.

And I was reminded of this once again when I found myself at the weekend defending, for the first time in a long time, but certainly not for the first time ever, the kind of thinking and knowledge production which is native to the internet. In this oft-rehearsed argument, whether it be about ebooks or social media or news cycles or or or, the central thrust is that x technology is somehow bad for us, for our thought, our attention, our cognitive processes etc., where x always tends towards “the internet”, as the ur-technology of our time.

And the truth is that I cannot abide this kind of talk. I know people don’t read books like they used to, and they don’t think like they used to, but I struggle to care. Most of this talk is pure nostalgia, a kind of mostly knee-jerk, mostly uncritical (although not thoughtless) response to entirely rational fears about technological opacity and complexity (this nostalgia, of course, was the basis for the New Aesthetic). But this understandable reaction also erases all the new and different modes of attention and thought which, while they are difficult to articulate because we are still developing and discovering the language to articulate them with, are nonetheless present and growing within us. And I simply do not see the damage that is ascribed to this perceived “loss” – I don’t see the generations coming up being any less engaged in culture and society, reading less, thinking less, acting less, even when they are by any measure poorer, less supported, forced to struggle harder for education and employment, and, to compound the injury, derided at every opportunity as feckless, distracted, and disengaged. I see the opposite.

I’m getting more radical in my view of the internet, this unconsciously-generated machine for unconscious generation. I’m feeling more sure of its cultural value and legacy, and more assertive about stating it. We built this thing, and like all directed culture of the past, it has an agency and a desire, and if you pay attention to it you can see which way it wants to go, and what it wants to fight. We made that, all of us, in time, but we don’t have full control of it. Rather, like the grain of wood, it’s something to be worked with and shaped, but also thought about and conceptualised, both matter and metaphor.

It’s possible, despite the faults of data and design, to be an unchurched follower of the internet: undogmatic, non-sectarian, wary of its faults, all too conscious of its occupation by the forces of capital and control, but retaining a deep faith in its message and meaning. A meaning which it is still up to us to explore and enact, to defend where possible and oppose when necessary. If there is progress, if things can be improved, then they must be improved by new inventions, by the things we have not tried before. No going backwards to the future."
culture  knowledge  internet  japanese  arabic  howweread  understanding  noticing  books  reading  meadia  online  socialmedia  newaesthetic  future  bookfuturism  control  change  data  design  technology  criticalthinking  kevinslavin  observation  seeing  howwesee  waysofseeing  perspective  rewiring  attention  knowledgeproduction  society  difference  cv  canon 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Meming of Life » Santa Claus – The Ultimate Dry Run Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders
"By allowing our children to participate in the Santa myth and find their own way out of it through skeptical inquiry, we give them a priceless opportunity to see a mass cultural illusion first from the inside, then from the outside. A very casual line of post-Santa questioning can lead kids to recognize how completely we all can snow ourselves if the enticements are attractive enough. Such a lesson, viewed from the top of the hill after exiting a belief system under their own power, can gird kids against the best efforts of the evangelists – and far better than secondhand knowledge could ever hope to do."
2007  dalemcgowan  parenting  belief  santaclaus  skepticism  inquiry  children  criticalthinking 
october 2015 by robertogreco
[Essay] | The Neoliberal Arts, by William Deresiewicz | Harper's Magazine
"I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have also had the pleasure, over the past year, of hearing from a lot of people who are pushing back against the dictates of neoliberal education: starting high schools, starting colleges, creating alternatives to high school and college, making documentaries, launching nonprofits, parenting in different ways, conducting their lives in different ways. I welcome these efforts, but none of them address the fundamental problem, which is that we no longer believe in public solutions. We only … [more]
williamderesiewicz  education  highereducation  neoliberalism  capitalism  learning  purpose  stevenpinker  2015  individualism  economics  leadership  missionstatements  courage  confidence  hope  criticalthinking  independence  autonomy  liberalarts  wealth  inequality  citizenship  civics  society  highered  publicpurpose  business  ronaldreagan  billclinton  margaretthatcher  government  media  lioneltrilling  socialgood  creativity  innovation  amywhitaker  service  servicelearning  change  fundamentalchange  systemsthinking  us  civilization  transformation  money  power  aynrand  meritocracy  plutocracy  college  colleges  universities  schools  markets  wallstreet  helplessness  elitism  berniesanders  communitycolleges  aristocracy  reaganism  clintonism  politics  entrepreneurship  volunteerism  rickscott  corporatization  modernity  joshuarothman  greatbooks  1960s  stem  steam  commercialization  davidbrooks 
october 2015 by robertogreco
"Our Bold Idea

Most education reform initiatives look at classroom size, instruction time or teacher qualification but these still center on marginal changes that never touch the learning core – the teacher-student-content relationship.

We transform just that.

1) We counter traditional models of education where content mastery is the goal. Instead, we see content as the vehicle to help students develop creativity and critical thinking skills – they learn to learn.

2) We constantly interchange roles of teacher and learner. Students are the life force of great learning and systemic reform, reinvigorating schools and their communities. Moreover, Tutoría transforms one’s identity. Students discover the joy in helping another learn and realize that it is in giving that they gain and excel. This creates a new social order where collaboration –rather than competition– drives excellence. This movement drives and generates itself, healing communities from the inside out."

[See also: ]
meixing  fiftyfold  redesdetutoría  education  socialjustice  creativity  criticalthinking  tutoría  learning  alternative  alted  identity  unschooling  deschooling 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Kurt Hahn - Wikipedia
"Six Declines of Modern Youth

1. Decline of Fitness due to modern methods of locomotion [moving about];
2. Decline of Initiative and Enterprise due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis;
3. Decline of Memory and Imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life;
4. Decline of Skill and Care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship;
5. Decline of Self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquilizers;
6. Decline of Compassion due to the unseemly haste with which modern life is conducted or as William Temple called "spiritual death".

Hahn not only pointed out the decline of modern youth, he also came up with four antidotes to fix the problem.

1. Fitness Training (e.g., to compete with one's self in physical fitness; in so doing, train the discipline and determination of the mind through the body)
2. Expeditions (e.g., via sea or land, to engage in long, challenging endurance tasks)
3. Projects (e.g., involving crafts and manual skills)
4. Rescue Service (e.g., surf lifesaving, fire fighting, first aid)


Ten Expeditionary Learning Principles
These 10 principles, which seek to describe a caring, adventurous school culture and approach to learning, were drawn[by whom?] from the ideas of Kurt Hahn and other education leaders[which?] for use in Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB) schools.[citation needed]

1. The primacy of self-discovery
Learning happens best with emotion, challenge and the requisite support. People discover their abilities, values, passions, and responsibilities in situations that offer adventure and the unexpected. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students undertake tasks that require perseverance, fitness, craftsmanship, imagination, self-discipline, and significant achievement. A teacher’s primary task is to help students overcome their fears and discover they can do more than they think they can.

2. The having of wonderful ideas
Teaching in Expeditionary Learning schools fosters curiosity about the world by creating learning situations that provide something important to think about, time to experiment, and time to make sense of what is observed.

3. The responsibility for learning
Learning is both a personal process of discovery and a social activity. Everyone learns both individually and as part of a group. Every aspect of an Expeditionary Learning school encourages both children and adults to become increasingly responsible for directing their own personal and collective learning.

4. Empathy and caring
Learning is fostered best in communities where students’ and teachers’ ideas are respected and where there is mutual trust. Learning groups are small in Expeditionary Learning schools, with a caring adult looking after the progress and acting as an advocate for each child. Older students mentor younger ones, and students feel physically and emotionally safe.

5. Success and failure
All students need to be successful if they are to build the confidence and capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges. But it is also important for students to learn from their failures, to persevere when things are hard, and to learn to turn disabilities into opportunities.

6. Collaboration and competition
Individual development and group development are integrated so that the value of friendship, trust, and group action is clear. Students are encouraged to compete not against each other but with their own personal best and with rigorous standards of excellence.

7. Diversity and inclusion
Both diversity and inclusion increase the richness of ideas, creative power, problem-solving ability, respect for others. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students investigate value their different histories talents as well as those of other communities cultures. Schools learning groups heterogeneous.

8. The natural world
Direct respectful relationship with the natural world refreshes the human spirit teaches[clarification needed] the important ideas of recurring cycles and cause and effect. Students learn to become stewards of the earth and of future generations.

9. Solitude and reflection
Students and teachers need time alone to explore their own thoughts, make their own connections, and create their own ideas. They also need time to exchange their reflections with others.

10. Service and compassion
We are crew, not passengers. Students and teachers are strengthened by acts of consequential service to others, and one of an Expeditionary Learning school's primary functions is to prepare students with the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service to others."
kurthahn  outwardbound  education  experience  experientialeducation  youth  self-discovery  service  compassion  solitude  reflection  nature  diversity  inclusion  collaboration  competition  success  failure  empathy  caring  responsibility  learning  howwelearn  thinking  criticalthinking  fitness  initiative  motivation  skills  care  projectbasedlearning  inlcusivity  inclusivity  experientiallearning 
september 2015 by robertogreco
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED Takes In-Depth Look at Outdated US Education - YouTube
"Published on Feb 15, 2015

Education is a persistent topic in national and local politics – with all parties proposing their own solutions to fix the problems in the traditional U.S. education system. This topic is considered in great detail in the Sundance documentary MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED, with an examination of how many American educational methods have remained in place for far too long, as well as how the problems in the system are having a profound impact on the U.S. economy. The documentary is discussed with director Greg Whiteley and executive producer Ted Dintersmith in a special BYOD episode direct from Sundance with host Ondi Timoner.

Where a college diploma once meant a guaranteed job, now more than half of America's new college graduates are unable to find employment. Director Greg Whiteley (Mitt, 2014 Sundance Film Festival) locates the source of the problem not in the economy but in our educational system, which was developed at the dawn of the Industrial Age to train obedient workers and has changed little since, despite radical changes in the marketplace wrought by technology and the outsourcing of labor. With a world of information available a click away, and the modern workplace valuing skills like collaboration and critical thinking, our rote-based system of learning has become outdated and ineffective.

Charter schools like San Diego's High Tech High, which replaces standardized tests and compartmentalized subjects with project-based learning and a student-focused curriculum, offer an alternative. Whiteley follows students, teachers, and parents to see if this different model can reawaken the love of learning and offer the potential for a paradigmatic shift in education.

Greg Whiteley is a director and producer - known for RESOLVED, MITT and NEW YORK DOLL – who founded his own production company One Potato Productions.



00:44 Introducing Greg Whiteley and the film's subject
03:22 How the filmmakers embedded in a San Diego tech high school
03:55 Qualcomm executive's role in starting the tech high school
08:05 Ted Dintersmith on the importance of innovative education
10:33 How Whiteley was given the freedom to tell his own story
11:56 Discovering successful schools across the country
16:46 Problems with the traditional classroom learning environment
19:22 Results of education experiences compared
22:44 The problem of high number of unemployed college graduates
25:05 Conclusion and goodbye"
education  hightechhigh  film  documentary  projectbasedlearning  gregwhiteley  teddintersmith  qualcomm  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  deschooling  progressive  criticalthinking  sandiego  schools  schooling 
september 2015 by robertogreco
The Problem With Math Problems: We're Solving Them Wrong - The New York Times
"The following question, from a mother concerned about her daughter’s math education, landed in my email box recently:
My husband and I talked to our daughter’s pre-calculus teacher about her poor grades. He said that many students hit a wall at this point in math, moving from memorization — apply this theorem to this problem — to more abstract how-can-I-solve-this-problem thinking. I accepted that because that’s what is happening for her. What I thought later was that why can’t we find a way to help these many students get over that wall, instead of using it as a tool to weed out less developed brains? I really feel I have no way to have an impact on this teacher’s blind spot since it is shared by all math teachers and so many other teachers: If you don’t understand, it’s your fault.

As I’m not a math teacher, I asked three experts on mathematics instruction to weigh in. They told me that this question perfectly illustrates what’s wrong with math education and why we need to change it. Much of what we teach kids during their first decade of math education relies on students’ blind compliance and memorization of rules and facts. We reward correct answers, but we do not not encourage students to think independently about what these rules and facts might mean in the bigger mathematical picture.

Tracy Zager, a math-education specialist and the author of the forthcoming book “Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had,” explained in an email why this kind of math education fails students: “It was never a sensible idea to try to have students memorize first and understand later; this approach to mathematics instruction is structurally flawed. I really feel for these parents and this kid, but the frustration they face is inevitable. If we teach kids math without understanding, we build on a house of cards.”

That house of cards will be fragile, and liable to collapse, when students move from elementary mathematics to complex problem-solving, said Steven Strogatz, an author and a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University.

“If you follow the rules, you can do pretty much everything that’s expected of you without ever having to think imaginatively,” Mr. Strogatz said in an email. “This is not the way math should be taught, even at an elementary level. There really ought to be problem solving and imaginative thinking all the way through while kids master the basics. If you’ve never been asked to struggle with open-ended, non-cookbook problems, your command of math will always be shaky and shallow.”

Mr. Strogatz suggested, however, that this math teacher isn’t wholly to blame for her students’ frustration. “This teacher may have been brought up in a culture in which skill at problem solving is seen as a matter of talent; either you have it or you don’t,” he said. “Everyone can be taught techniques and strategies for better problem solving, and can be taught to feel pleasure in the struggles that make us smarter. With practice, all of us can get much better at it.”

While avoiding the kind of frustration this mother describes in her letter will require a larger shift in mathematics education, there are some things this parent can do now to help her daughter.

Mr. Strogatz suggested playing with age-appropriate puzzles. “Kids love puzzles, and wrestling with good ones can help them fall in love with math and get stronger at it,” he said.

After playing around on a couple of recommended websites, I fell in love with with Steve Miller’s Math Riddles. Mr. Miller, a mathematics professor at Williams College, has amassed a wonderful collection of puzzles, ranging from easy to very challenging, and even I, an admitted math phobic, had a lot of fun playing on the site.

For teachers and parents looking to improve their own problem-solving abilities, Mr. Strogatz recommended George Polya’s book “How to Solve It.” While it’s not exactly light reading, it introduces new ways to approach problems, and is a classic in the field.

Purchase two copies of Carol Dweck’s Mindset, one for you and one for your child’s teacher. Ms. Dweck’s book is already required reading in many school districts because it articulates the difference between a fixed mindset (either you have it or you don’t) and a growth mindset (everyone can be taught to feel pleasure in the struggles that make us smarter). A growth mindset is a powerful thing and is an essential first step toward more effective teaching and learning (and parenting).

If you are frustrated by your child’s math homework and want to improve your capacity to help, read Christopher Danielson’s “Common Core Math for Parents for Dummies,” which will be published this month. Mr. Danielson’s book can help parents reorient their thinking about mathematics so that they can begin to help their children more effectively.

And check out Mr. Strogatz’s New York Times series, on the “Elements of Math.” It begins with a preschooler’s understanding of numeracy and progresses all the way through to an examination of infinity. Tellingly, the most advanced topic discussed in the series was inspired by a 6-year-old’s question.

Above all, Mr. Strogatz concluded: “It’s crucial to help our students realize that it’s fine to get stuck – after all, the life of a professional mathematician (or any other creative person) is about being stuck nearly all the time! It’s how you get past being stuck that matters. And that’s one of the most valuable lessons that math has to offer.”"
math  education  teaching  problemsolving  memorization  criticalthinking  2015  stevenstrogatz  tracyzager  howweteach  howwelearn  context  mathematics  via:christaflores 
september 2015 by robertogreco
I Could Do That | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios - YouTube
"So you look at a work of art and think to yourself, I could have done that. And maybe you really could have, but the issue here is more complex than that -- why didn't you? Why did the artist? And why does it have an audience? We delve into it by looking at work by artists like Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Piet Mondrian, and Cy Twombly, among others. You might find it’s not quite as simple as you think."
art  video  felixgonzalez-torres  pietmondrian  cytwombly  2015  craft  via:ablerism  production  ideas  photography  reproduction  skill  research  deduction  craftsmanship  though  thinking  criticalthinking  thewhy 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Peter Worley on Should children do philosophy?, Aeon...
"There is a story told about Socrates that just before he drank the poisonous hemlock he had been sentenced to drink by the citizens of Athens, following a charge of teaching false gods and corrupting the young men of Athens, he heard someone playing a tune on a flute. Socrates said to the player, ‘Can you teach me that tune?’ His friends said, ‘What use will learning that tune be, you are about to die?’ Socrates said, ‘No use, it’s just a beautiful tune.’ So, my first argument is non-instrumental. Anyone, including children, should engage in philosophy for the same reason that they do music, because it is good to do, in and of itself.

Just this morning I saw some 7-year-olds grappling with the question of whether or not it is possible to do nothing, this led to someone saying that you can do nothing only if you are dead; someone else said, ‘but when you are dead you are doing something: you’re being dead.’ Others disagreed: ‘But, when you’re dead you’re not being dead, you just are dead.’ This led to a discussion about the difference between the two ideas. Later, they were trying to establish whether statues do anything. ‘If a statue falls,’ said one child, ‘then it’s falling, which is doing something’, ‘but,’ objected another, ‘the statue is only falling because someone has pushed it, the statue isn’t doing anything, it is having something done to it.’ Finally, someone said that statues are made of rocks, but rocks don’t do anything. Then, one girl said, ‘Rocks do do something; they’re being a rock.’ Like Spinoza’s conatus or Schopenhauer’s will to life this 7-year-old was understanding being as a positive, active force against nothingness or non-existence.

I did very little in this session, my job was to provide a catalyst (I set the task to do nothing!) then I asked some simple questions at salient points such as ‘So did X do nothing?’ (After one of the children had made an attempt) or ‘So, is it possible to do nothing?’ or later, ‘If something moves does that mean that it is doing something?’ What I do is provide the conditions for a group of children (or adults) to see philosophical problems for themselves and then to afford them the opportunity to explore those problems and how they might solve them together. I help them to follow the dialectical demands and implications of their own ideas and explorations.

Apart from the fact that witnessing this is like hearing a beautiful tune, many readers may want more reasons why doing philosophy is something children should do. Just this month, some very positive research came out showing the benefits of doing philosophy with children, but this research focused on the non-philosophical benefits such as reading and maths scores. I would like to add to these findings by making an a priori, reasoned argument, from problems the children encounter in their everyday lives, for why children should do philosophy.

If children encounter puzzles and problems that have a philosophical basis then children need a systematic way of approaching and tackling them. Puzzles and problems that have a philosophical basis are those where a tension or conflict arises between the concepts we have and our experience of the world. For instance, a child may have a conceptual intuition that time is constant, but then experience time seeming to fluctuate (‘Time flies when you’re having fun!’) Another example might be: ‘I am always the same person, but I change physically and in terms of my personality, so I can’t be the same person, can I?’ These are real problems for children, but unless they are given the opportunity to stop, reflect on, and explore these puzzles and problems, they are unlikely to go any further with them. So, because children do, in fact, encounter philosophical puzzles and problems, I argue that they should be given an opportunity to explore them, but also be given a systematic method for doing so. Philosophy provides such a method. In short, I capture this with 4 Rs. Philosophy is…

- Responsive

- Reflective

- Reasoned

- Re-evaluative

So, when children encounter, as I argue they do, philosophical puzzles and problems they should be given the opportunity to respond to the problem and perhaps to acknowledge that there is one, to reflect on the nature of the problem or to reflect on the central concepts by asking and exploring questions such as, ‘What is time?’ or ‘What is change?’ Then they can try to order their thoughts and ideas in a process of rational thought using reasoned arguments, and finally they should be invited to evaluate and re-evaluate their answers in light of those and other reasons given by themselves or their peers. The important thing to understand here is that, when it is done well, philosophy - as much with children as with adults - is not simply a sharing exercise in which opinions are offered, it is an evaluative process based on the quality of reasons given. According to this picture of philosophy, one answers according to the demands of reason.

In addition to this, puzzles and problems of a non-philosophical nature (e.g. a maths or science one) share structural qualities with puzzles and problems of a philosophical nature (this is one possible reason the research yielded good results with maths), and so, by doing philosophy one is practising the sort of thinking that will also be needed in other subjects, when problem-solving for instance. But, because philosophy is dedicated to conceptual thinking, one does not need to know a body of knowledge to begin philosophising. All children need is a brain, ears and a mouth, something to think about (and perhaps a good facilitator!) in order to start practising good thinking - indispensible for all learning and all subjects.

And the reason this should be begun when children are young? For the same reason that children start doing maths or music when they are young, so that they can learn, as a disposition, to be proficient with maths, music and good thinking. And what could be more important to a learner than proficiency in good thinking?"
via:anne  education  schools  teaching  pedagogy  curriculum  philosophy  cv  2015  peterworley  thinking  reflection  classideas  reasoning  problemsolving  criticalthinking 
july 2015 by robertogreco
A sentimental education: inside the school that Tilda built | Film | The Guardian
"Late last year, Drumduan Upper School received its first government inspection. In an era of merciless performance targets and obsessive testing, any school administrator would naturally feel apprehensive. Drumduan’s head teacher, Krzysztof Zajaczkowski, a working-class son of Polish immigrants who has an instinctive distrust of authority, expected to be shut down. He had not forgotten his last school inspection, 10 years earlier, which he compares to a visit from the Gestapo, and he worried that Drumduan’s radical ideals – no exams, no tests, no hierarchies, no sitting at desks whenever possible – would count against the school.

That is not what happened: the inspectors sat in the classes and watched the students. And if you watch the students at Drumduan, you soon notice they are confident, articulate, highly motivated and respectful. These are, in fact, the words used by the inspectors in their subsequent report. You might even believe the students at Drumduan wanted to be there. The inspectors clearly felt so, but it was when they had retired to an office to confer that Krzysztof, a master of the spontaneous gesture, delivered the coup de grace. He sang to them.

Music is something of a hallmark at Drumduan, where children participate in regular workshops – often on instruments like a wheelie bin – and start each day singing in four-part harmonies. “We were rehearsing in another room, and I said: ‘This song is terrific, we have to show these inspectors,’” Krzysztof recalls. “So we burst into their office – they were a bit alarmed – and I said: ‘I’m sorry, we’ve just got to sing this song to you.’” The song was “Media Vita”, a medieval score of haunting beauty that reduced the inspectors to tears, according to Krzysztof. Bowled over by their praise – he is a man whose emotions are close to the surface – Krzysztof asked if he could give them a hug, probably a first for all of them.

I first heard about Drumduan from the actor Tilda Swinton, who cofounded the school in 2013 with Ian Sutherland McCook, a fellow parent at the Moray Steiner School, where their children were in the same class. The two sought to persuade the trustees there to take on the project of creating an upper school, as students at Moray Steiner must graduate at 14. When that failed, they decided to go it alone.

“There’s no grading, no testing at all,” Tilda had explained to me earlier. “My children are now 17, and they will go through this school without any tests at any time, so it’s incredibly art-based, practical learning. For example, they learn their science by building a Canadian canoe, or making a knife, or caramelising onions. And they’re all happy 17-year-olds. I can’t believe it – happy and inspired.”

It was this image of “happy and inspired students,” so foreign to the popular conception of school, that brought me to Drumduan. I wanted to see for myself this miracle of happy, boat-building, onion-caramelising teenagers. Tilda suggested I join them on a school trip to the tiny island of Colonsay (population: 120) where, deprived of their mobile phones, the students would be at the mercy of their own initiative. Some activities were planned, including a day studying the island’s protected black bee colony, but the week was left relatively unstructured. Tilda felt it was important for children to have the freedom to be bored. As the only award I ever won at school was for my services as secretary to the beekeeping club, I felt uniquely qualified to join the expedition."

"“We’re just doing a little chillaxing,” Tilda says one evening as everyone sits around eating wild garlic and nettle soup, the ingredients foraged earlier that day. Chillaxing is, in its way, the purpose of the trip – an opportunity for the students to find a measure of stillness. “We wanted Colonsay and Oronsay to be a settling of all that has happened, a distilling and digesting of the events and the hard work of the year,” Krzysztof explains.

This is the reason for the ban on new technologies and the emphasis on old – the group games, the sing-a-longs, the campfires. Tilda has brought a poem called “Happiness”, by the Gaelic-speaking poet, Meg Bateman. It describes two old friends, crofters “who after a brief murmured greeting, will stand wordlessly together, side by side, not facing each other, and look out on the land, whose ways and memories unite them.” The poem’s sentiment speaks to a hope and expectation that here, away from the mainland, the students will discover the power of silence, not in place of tumult and noise, but as a balance to it.

Of course for teenagers who have learned to make longbows, knives and canoes, a rocky, mossy, grassy island like this is paradise. There is a lot of room to run wild, and they do. Watching the lean, feral boys somersaulting off the dunes one evening, I imagine William Golding, somewhere, rubbing his hands in delight. But he based Lord of the Flies on Marlborough College, his alma mater, where children were bred and bullied to become the repressed defenders of Empire. The students of Drumduan are not they. On their first night in the backpackers’ lodge, overlooked by a giant bison’s head, they drink tea and sing “Media Vita”, while Tilda butters doorstop sandwiches for the next day. At night we listen to the corncrakes in the dark."

"We get to see the island’s famous bees on a rare, sunny day, with the island shimmering in the morning light. Andrew Abrahams is a local hero, having succeeded after many years in securing the Scottish government’s backing to have Colonsay and Oronsay declared a sanctuary for his beloved black bee, genetically pure and free of the Varroa mite. When the students hear him talk about the bee’s sad plight, the subsequent debate among them is lucid, smart and illuminating. They dissect capitalism and market economics; they talk about the challenge – and necessity – of creating altruistic societies, and occasionally they come up with a really great idea. Like creating a super bee, which Eliot, the impish daredevil of the group, is sure must already be under way in America. Tilda leans over later, and says: “Don’t you think the world would be a better place if we had a government of teenagers like these?”

Drumduan is still a very small school, just 17 students, so it doesn’t take long to develop an easy familiarity with everyone – which must also be characteristic of attending the school. (Students are encouraged to develop social lives outside.)

I’d suggested to Arran one afternoon that the conundrum with model enterprises like Drumduan was finding a way to grow them without diluting them, to which he shrugged and said, “Why grow them?” Abrahams had told us how bee colonies divide and separate when they get too big, the catalyst for swarms. “I don’t think these things can work worldwide,” Arran says."

"For eight hours they walk the island in the company of RSPB wardens, yet another lesson in the delicate equilibrium of the planet, and then Krzysztof sets them all a novel challenge: go and find a place, alone, no more than five paces in diameter, and stay there for an hour. An island on an island. Later, I call Angus in Forres, and ask: “How did you manage?” It was boring at first, he replies. “But you had to adjust to a different setting. You had to look at it in a different way.”

Imagine teenagers, taking an hour to be with themselves, no modern distractions, just the beat of their heart, the tick of their brain, the sweep of the sea. The students are asked not to talk about how they spend the hour, but I’m curious, and ask Angus to describe his time. He says he found a space on the sand, and set himself down to watch the waves. “At first, I thought, What am I doing here, but as I sat there, I started to think about lots of different things, like life, relationships, dreams that I’d had, family – I felt homesick at one point, I welled up a little bit, it was quite emotional.” When it was time to return to the group, he found it hard to believe that an hour could be so brief.

Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian founder of the Steiner schools movement, wrote: “To be free is to be capable of thinking one’s own thoughts – not the thoughts merely of the body, or of society, but thoughts generated by one’s deepest, most original, most essential and spiritual self, one’s individuality.”

We live in an age when people talk endlessly about individuality, but I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen it as clearly delineated as in the contrast between the students of Drumduan with those of more typical schools, like the one where Angus had been enrolled for so long. I remembered his mother’s observation that the pupils there, even on the coldest day, would remove their coats “two miles before getting to school” because someone had determined it wasn’t cool. “There’s so much of a horrible clique to what happens in mainstream education, whereas it’s a safe space at Drumduan to say, ‘I’m into this sport,’ or whatever, and it doesn’t matter that nobody else is doing it.”"
education  schools  lcproject  openstudioproject  waldorfschools  tildaswinton  scotland  2015  parenting  aaronhicklin  drumduanupperschool  krzysztofzajaczkowski  colonsay  tcsnmy  statism  anarchism  howwelearn  testing  standardizedtesting  cv  rudolfsteiner  individuality  individualism  technology  freedom  criticalthinking  howweteach  deschooling  unschooling  small  smallschools  intimacy  slow  iansutherlandmccook 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Caminar como último acto de libertad que nos queda | VICE | España
""No hay que olvidar que el trayecto es lo mejor del camino". Así se despide en nuestra entrevista Francisco Navamuel. El fotógrafo decidió crear un grupo en Facebook:Caminar como práctica anarquista, ética, estética y de pensamiento. Ahora reconoce que esta idea se le ha ido un poco de las manos. "Cuando te comento esto tiene que ver con el propio funcionamiento de la red social, en el que la información pasa a una velocidad incompatible con la reflexión".

En estos momentos el grupo cuenta con más de 4.600 seguidores. "Pero no siempre fue así. Arrancar el grupo costó más de tres años. El grupo contaba con unos 150 seguidores y decidí hacer administrador del grupo a todos. Actualmente, el grupo se autogestiona y seguimos creciendo, no solo en cantidad sino en calidad".

¿Y por qué esa necesidad de reivindicar el acto de caminar? "Sobre todo para mí es una manera de relacionarme con el territorio, de conocer en primera persona el espacio que habito, de reconocerme en las personas que voy encontrando cuando camino. Es una forma de conocimiento personal donde el espacio-tiempo confluyen al mismo ritmo que el pensamiento. Caminar tiene la capacidad de igualarnos, de hacernos ciudadanos en la medida que ocupamos y utilizamos un espacio y lo transitamos".

VICE: Entonces, ¿caminar va más allá del acto de desplazarse?

Francisco Navamuel: Caminar es un acto de libertad. Pero también de resistencia frente a las urgencias impuestas y las velocidades ajenas. Caminar se ha convertido en algo subversivo si no se practica para producir o para consumir y me niego a renunciar a esa capacidad transformadora y de conocimiento que recibimos cuando se camina, sea la manera elegida que sea: por placer, por obligación o por salud. Caminar tiene esa parte lúdica y pedagógica que tenemos que recuperar como fuente de conocimiento. Pero también entiendo el caminar como una experiencia estética. El paseo está asociado al paisaje y me interesa la percepción que cada persona tiene sobre cómo interpreta el territorio.

Y el grupo de Facebook, ¿cómo surge?

El grupo surge en un momento en el que comienzo a realizar una tesis doctoral en la que vinculo el caminar, la fotografía y el llamado 'Modelo Barcelona'. Desde el principio empecé a ser consciente de la cantidad de información que existía sobre el caminar desde disciplinas como la antropología, la sociología, el arte, el urbanismo. No todo lo que recopilaba para la tesis me era útil y pensé que ese esfuerzo de investigación y toda esa información no debía quedarse guardada en una pestaña del navegador. Decidí crear el grupo Caminar como práctica anarquista, ética, estética y de pensamiento porque pensaba que podría ser útil a otras personas el poner en común todo lo que generaba la investigación. Al mismo tiempo daba la oportunidad a otros caminantes a compartir sus experiencias, vivencias o conocimientos sobre el tema. Soy partidario de la transmisión de conocimientos de manera horizontal y el grupo permite esa transmisión no jerárquica que existe en espacios como la enseñanza reglada o la académica. Cualquiera puede compartir la información que considere oportuna, desde un paseo alrededor se su casa hasta el último proyecto participativo o la última publicación. Si bien Facebook no es precisamente un espacio de conocimiento, respeto y libertad, sí que permite este flujo de información compartida sobre un mismo tema.

Y el anarquismo del título.

Hay algo en la acción del caminar que lo vinculo con valores del anarquismo. Caminar es una manera de posicionarse en el mundo. Cada persona decide cuáles son los motivos que tiene para caminar, tiene libertad para decidir hacia dónde se desplaza y el mismo acto genera un bien en la comunidad. Las personas que caminan respetan y protegen los espacios por donde transita. Se es solidario con las personas que encuentras a tu paso. Caminar se ha convertido en un acto de resistencia y en muchos momentos de desobediencia, de compromiso y de acción directa. Caminar como experiencia libertaria, de respeto, conocimiento y reconocimiento del 'otro', caminar como acto de rebeldía, como respuesta a la especulación urbana. Caminar como penúltimo acto de dignidad, como último acto de libertad.

¿A qué te refieres cuando hablas de ética y estética?

La ética y la estética están íntimamente relacionadas en la medida que una experiencia estética está cargada de ética. La observación responsable genera pensamiento crítico. Como consecuencia de esa observación el ser humano ha materializado esa experiencia estética en objeto artístico por medio de la literatura, la escultura, la pintura, el dibujo, el sonido o como es en mi caso por medio de la fotografía. Caminar por tu entorno más inmediato te invita a mirar, a percibir, a conocer, a reflexionar y te permite ser crítico hacia las diferentes transformaciones que el poder fáctico impone. Ese conocimiento junto a ese pensamiento crítico genera un compromiso ético.

¿Se pueden cambiar las cosas con el acto de caminar?

Las cosas no se cambian por sí solas simplemente caminando. Se necesita el compromiso de una parte de la sociedad. Las personas que deciden caminar están en continuo cambio y ese movimiento genera unas sinergias que son capaces de transformar cualquier cosa. No basta con salir a la calle a caminar si no va implícito un grado mínimo de compromiso y de acción.

¿Necesitamos volver a ocupar los espacios públicos?

Necesitamos recuperarlos en la medida en que necesitamos socializar el espacio que ya ocupamos, y el desplazarse a pie ayuda a mantener ese equilibrio entre lo privado y lo público. Si algo caracteriza ese espacio público es la posibilidad de transitarlo con total libertad. Un espacio imperfecto y en continua transformación, donde el ser humano debe ser el protagonista frente a la especulación y a los intereses partidistas. El antropólogo Manuel Delgado llega a afirmar que el espacio público no existe en esta sociedad capitalista mientras se excluya de él a las personas y colectivos más vulnerables. Creo incluso que es necesario recuperar el espacio público como espacio de confrontación, donde dejemos de ser simples autómatas obedientes y materialicemos nuestros deseos. Una parte de urbanistas modernos, junto a ciertas políticas neoliberales, se han empeñado en proyectar las calles, las plazas, los barrios de tal manera que todo esté en orden, controlado y vigilado, de crear la ciudad perfecta con la intención de desactivar cualquier tipo de discrepancia y conflicto. Esto va en contra del propio concepto de ciudadano en la medida que se hace ciudad activando y socializando el espacio público.

¿Cómo ha influido tu pasión por caminar en tu proyecto personal?

Esa experiencia estética la materializo a través de mi trabajo artístico por medio de la fotografía y los registros sonoros. Pongo en práctica diferentes maneras de caminar, desde las deambulaciones perceptivas de los surrealistas, las derivas psicogeográficas de los situacionistas hasta las transurbancias que nos propone Francesco Careri con el grupo 'Stalker/Osservatorio Nomade'. De estas experiencias nace el proyecto WALKCELONA, en el que llevo trabajando los últimos siete años. Registro mis desplazamientos por la ciudad, que no dejan de ser pequeños momentos cotidianos, donde el conflicto está presente en sus calles, donde las contradicciones urbanas nos hacen errar en todas direcciones, donde los paisajes lingüísticos nos hace más humanos, sabiendo que la mayoría de las veces acaban censurados, generando muros de estéticas imposibles. Donde la arquitectura nos habla de cómo el espacio se convierte en tiempo y éste en historia, de lugares concretos que la cámara aísla y rescata de su anonimato para ser observados con la tranquilidad que la fotografía nos permite y que el ritmo de la propia ciudad nos arrebata."
walking  freedom  fernandobernal  2015  via:javierarbona  ethics  anarchism  aesthetics  thinking  solviturambulando  walkcelona  psychogeography  francisconavamuel  barcelona  españa  spain  knowing  scale  situationist  observation  criticism  criticalthinking  publicspace  space  manueldelgado  transurbanism  urbanism  urban  cities  anthropology 
may 2015 by robertogreco
blogging, being wrong, malcolm x & the pharcyde — cecile emeke
"Being wrong has taught me so much. You have to be wrong sometimes to be critical. Logically you can't always be right and think critically; you have to have a moment of realising you're incorrect to push you to move past your current line of thinking to something new. Even if your moments of being incorrect are in private or don't last long, they still happen, they are still necessary. So I guess the scary part about a blog is that you might be wrong in front of other people or that it's recorded 'permanently'. I personally really respect people who aren't comfortable with being wrong."

Malcolm X's autobiography was one of the first books I ever read that really changed how I saw the world. One of the things I respected about him is that he was wrong very publicly and had no qualms in owning that, forming a new conclusion and keeping it pushing. It made me value what he said more because it was clear he was committed to truth and liberation, not his own pride and the bragging rights that come with the fallacy of infallibility. So I'm not too scared about being wrong, I'm more scared about being silent. Audre Lorde always talked about how silence can't and won't protect you and how often what we fear has already happened, so why remain scared and quiet?"
cecileemeke  malcolmx  audrelorde  2015  blogging  criticism  criticalthinking  silence  wrongness  truth  liberation  thinkinginpublic  fallibility  infallibility  paulgilroy 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Audrey Watters Casts a Skeptical Eye on Tech Boosters - The Digital Campus - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Audrey Watters describes herself as a Cassandra of educational technology, but the comparison is only partially apt.

Like the Greek prophet, Ms. Watters tells people things they often don’t want to hear. Unlike Cassandra, though, her clear-eyed analyses do find an audience. Her Twitter feed has more than 28,000 followers. Her blog, weekly newsletter, and year-end roundups of top tech trends are must-reads for many in higher education and the tech world. She’s in demand as a conference speaker. (She recently published a collection, Monsters of Education Technology, which features 14 of the talks she gave in 2014.)

A self-employed writer, Ms. Watters, 43, speaks with an independent voice. She doesn’t run ads on her site or take money from sponsors. Beholden to no institutions or companies, she’s free to critique them. She supports herself through her writing and speaking and through donations that readers make to her blog, Hack Education.

Animating her work is a conviction that technology needs to be not just used but questioned, its power structures and exclusions challenged, its makers’ narratives not taken for granted. She explained why this matters in a recent talk, "Men (Still) Explain Technology to Me," also posted as an essay on her blog. It’s a tech-infused riff on the phenomenon of "mansplaining" identified by the writer Rebecca Solnit. But Ms. Watters looks beyond gender to explain why the trend is a serious social problem.

"The problem isn’t just that men explain technology to me," she says in the essay. "It isn’t just that a handful of men explain technology to the rest of us. It’s that this explanation tends to foreclose questions we might have about the shape of things."

That matters, she says, "because the tech sector has an increasingly powerful reach in how we live and work and communicate and learn."

Speaking your mind about the powerful, male-dominated tech world can come at a cost, especially if you’re a female commentator. Ms. Watters is no stranger to online harassment. "It’s an issue that’s magnified by the architecture of the technology we use," she says, with platforms like Twitter making it too easy for harassers to do what they do. "It’s been really difficult, and it’s made me rethink a lot of the things about how I work online." She blocks offenders, uses online-security strategies, and calls for anti-harassment policies at conferences and elsewhere. She pushes on.

Ms. Watters brings a rare and necessary skepticism to the omnipresent innovation-and-disruption boosterism that plagues ed tech, says Jim Groom. He’s director of the division of teaching-and-learning technologies at the University of Mary Washington. He calls Ms. Watters "the cultural critic that ed tech has needed for a decade."

"She’s doing a lot of the hard work that a lot of the people in ed tech haven’t," Mr. Groom says. "It’s hard to go up against MOOCs and Silicon Valley."

MOOCs loomed large in Ms. Watters’s 2012 overview of tech trends, which featured a "forgotten history" of the phenomenon’s origins and questioned what kind of future MOOCs would really deliver: "With MOOCs, power might shift to the learner; it’s just as likely that power shifts to the venture capitalists."

Now, in 2015, even as MOOC fever has cooled, she remains skeptical. "Part of the crisis of higher education is that we’ve followed this story that innovation has to come from the private sector," she says. "MOOCs are a great example of that — so much ink spilled over something that’s really not that exciting at all."

Her own eclectic schooling shaped her thinking about education, Ms. Watters says. The child of an American father and an English mother, she went to public school in Wyoming and spent two years in an English boarding school. "It radicalized me in all kinds of ways," she says. "It was very clear to some people there who belonged and who didn’t belong and who had status."

She went to the Johns Hopkins University, dropped out, followed the Grateful Dead, moved home with a child in tow, took traditional and distance-ed courses to earn a B.A. from the University of Wyoming, married an artist, and moved to Oregon in the mid-90s. A job at the University of Oregon led her to graduate school there; she earned a master’s degree in folklore and was working on a dissertation in comparative literature when her husband died of cancer. The lack of support she and her family received from the campus community, she says, along with her sense that higher education in general was mired in bureaucracy and politics, contributed to her decision to quit graduate school.

Ms. Watters, who considers herself a recovering academic, brings the intellectual rigor of a highly trained cultural critic to her work now. She’s completing a book project called "Teaching Machines," a history of learning technologies and a corrective to the ahistorical narrative that now prevails. (The title comes from B.F. Skinner’s attempts, in the 1950s, to create a system of machine-enabled, programmed-learning classrooms.)

"It’s partially a response to what I feel is a dominant ideology out of Silicon Valley — that the past is irrelevant, somehow decadent and useless and needs to be swept aside, and the future is all that matters," she says. "I’ve been struck by how many people in ed tech speak as though the day they decided to do a start-up was the day ed tech began."

Another book project, "Reclaim Your Domain," focuses on more of Ms. Watters’s urgent concerns: data privacy and users’ control (or lack thereof) over the content they create, whether they’re students enrolled in a class, faculty members teaching and publishing online, or tech-using members of the general public.

Tech boosters argue that data collection can deliver a better learning experience as well as deter terrorism and solve health-care problems.

But Ms. Watters points out that too often users don’t know what’s at risk or aren’t given a choice about whether to share their data. For instance, universities need to make sure they’re not signing away the intellectual property of students and faculty members who use a learning-management system, she says. And what happens to users’ data when a start-up folds or gets bought?

"There are lots of places where the battle has to be fought," Ms. Watters says. "The stakes feel pretty high to me right now.""
audreywatters  2015  awesomepeople  edtech  technology  education  policy  independence  independents  criticism  criticalthinking  cassandras  truth  honesty  journalism  power  mansplaining  society  jimgroom  skepticism  mooc  moocs  radicals  culturalcriticism  siliconvalley  technosolutionism 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Leon Botstein for Democracy Journal: Are We Still Making Citizens?
[via: ]

"Democracy requires a commitment to the public good. But for a long time now, our citizens have been taught to see themselves as only private actors."

"What the European émigrés discovered was a reality that partially resembled these principles. They saw from the outside, as it were, how vital the connection is between how we structure our schools and our capacity to maintain a functioning pluralist democracy. John Dewey, America’s greatest thinker on education since Mann, guided the ideology of public education. For Dewey, the justification for the proper pedagogy was not primarily political; his conception of teaching and learning derived largely from an epistemological conceit within Pragmatism. But for the European émigrés, the contrast between the school systems from which they came and the school system in the country in which they arrived—the virtue and attraction of American educational practice—was significant in terms of its political consequences.

In those years, the defining factor in the American system was the idea of a single, unitary public school system in which everybody enrolled. All citizens went to the same sort of schools through to the end of secondary school. Private schools were an elite phenomenon and relatively insignificant. Most European public systems, by contrast, were intentionally segregated by ability, creating distinct groups beginning at age 11. The state, using examinations, divided the school population into varying categories, each of which maintained a different track. The majority of citizens never completed school beyond elementary school. Some percentage went on to vocational schooling. A very small segment of the population went, as adolescents, either to a humanistic academic high school (Gymnasium) or to a less prestigious practical and science-oriented high school (Realschule) and received a secondary-school diploma. A Matura or Abitur, the diploma from these two types of secondary schools, permitted an elite student to enroll in the university.

Consequently, the unitary public school system that kept all children together until college and that built citizens of character, devoted to democratic values, was viewed by the émigré generation as a marvel. American education appeared to fit the idea that the nation and democracy were tied to a homogeneity of rights, and that diverse constituencies could not only obtain equal legal status but through education achieve the means to realize it in economic and social terms. Citizenship via a nominally nondiscriminatory and standard process accessible to all irrespective of birth, religion, ethnicity, or even language was unheard of in Europe, but it—and the concrete advantages education added—seemed possible in America.

Higher education was no less eye-opening. Undergraduates delayed specialization and studied more than one subject. They were, from the start, asked to do far more writing that called for the expression of their own arguments and judgments. What was equally shocking to a European was the way in which the American university system seemed immensely flexible and open to new ideas. There was not a rigid hierarchy with one professor running each “faculty.” Young scholars did not have to wait for their elders to retire or die. The university was able to create new fields and new positions. Not only was there less hierarchy and formality, but in graduate education there was even less deference to authority than in the public school system. The dissenter, rebel, and ambitious entrepreneur were prized more than in Europe. In terms of graduate education and academic career advancement, American university practice still stands in contrast to that of Europe.

That was the good news. The bad news was that the academic standards by which the American common school system operated seemed horrifically low. The price paid by the democratic culture of the American school system, the émigré observers concluded, was the low level of shared culture achieved at the end of secondary public education. Freshmen could not read or write properly, and they possessed little understanding of literature, art, philosophy, or history. The thinly veiled (at best) snobbery of the mid-century émigré scholars simply exploded when their members (such as Werner Jaeger, Leo Strauss, and Kurt Wolff) came to teach American college students."

"I distrust private languages and the tendency to rely on one’s personal narrative as the basis for talking about politics and, in particular, education, understood as a political good. The personal narrative is always contingent on those outside of it. What a child has to learn in school is not only to formulate a personal narrative but also to set it aside; children need to listen, to observe others, and thereby to distinguish their personal narrative from those of others as each individual constructs a role as a citizen. However, the two imperatives—personal growth and citizenship—don’t appear naturally to overlap. A child needs to learn things that allow him or her to function in a democratic context, to learn to consciously ignore personal self-interest and contemplate the public good. What a common public school ought to teach, therefore, is the capacity for disagreement, contest, and compromise. But if I think public goods are irrelevant, that we can do without government, I automatically subscribe to a kind of illusion of individualism against which criticism is hard, since the point of having a discussion or debate—the creation of the public space of a shared participatory politics—is rejected."

"The project of public education is fundamental to the notion of public goods in America. The restoration of public education seems a precondition for making the public sphere operate properly. Education must be about something more than personal happiness and benefit, economically defined; it has to map out the idea that there is more to the public good than the belief that through some free-market-style calculus of aggregate self-interests, the greatest good for the greatest number will emerge. In other words, public education is about educating the future citizen to consider a common ground in politics that can and will secure a more rewarding notion of personal security and tranquility for all.

But in the context of today’s disenchantment with the public sphere, what can a school-trained citizen do? Merely compete in the marketplace? Work for Google? What actually defines the public sphere today is not the government and Congress, but Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Conspiracy theorists when I was young pointed to the presence of socialists and communists who were said to undermine our system of values. Fear seemed reasonable in the Cold War and under the threat of nuclear war. The line between fear and paranoia was thin indeed. Fear was plausible.

But the people who frighten me and undermine the public sphere today are not terrorists and ideologues interested in overthrowing the government; they are not even those who work for the U.S. government within the NSA or the CIA. Rather, I’m afraid of the very large corporate giants that control our access to information, regulate our private lives by providing social networks—a platform for deceptive intimacy—and monitor every move we make in life and preserve a record of every message, thereby rendering secret-keeping and forgetting—two essential human experiences—impossible."

"So where does this bring us with regard to education? As a practitioner of education, I still hold to the idea that the most difficult and yet most vital thing to do is to construct and sustain a language of public conversation. And that language of public conversation will inevitably be different from our several private languages. We cannot expect it to be the same. The conversation on matters that affect us all has to take place in real space and time. School is one source of that essential opportunity.

One of the depressing aspects of our politics today is the extent to which our candidates think it is enough to be a personality and to rely on a private language in order to get elected. We are more interested in the personalities of our politicians, as if they were our neighbors or private friends, than we are in what they think. Today’s politicians cannot speak a comprehensible language of ideas in public conversation about public goods, the matters at stake in politics. We have lost the taste for a sustained debate about ideas.

To confront this lack of public discourse based on ideas—ideas bolstered by claims and evidence subject to open scrutiny—public education needs to work. It needs to create a community of very diverse citizens who are able to occupy a public space in which they can negotiate matters of shared concern, from foreign affairs to domestic policy, using a shared language. The Internet does not offer such a platform, nor does the virtual space or Facebook or any other social media.

I therefore think that we need to redouble the defense of a single system of public education to which our citizens have free access. We need to resist the privatization of schooling. That does not mean that every school should look alike. But since we will continue to be (I hope) an immigrant nation, we will have to champion a public school system if we are to reconcile increasing differences, inequalities of wealth, and class distinctions into a functioning, dynamic democracy made up of citizens.

I share the émigré generation’s quite romantic optimism for the potential of a democratic school system, one marked by excellence and equity. I think such a system is worth fighting for. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic. There is evidence that we can improve schools. A welcome first step would be to instill in the best of our current college students and future … [more]
leonbostein  democracy  publicschools  civics  citizenship  2015  individualism  collectivism  publicgood  education  society  us  privatization  government  disagreement  debate  participation  capitalism  hannaharendt  hansweil  christianmackauer  progressive  progressivism  freedom  interdependence  independence  politics  learning  johndewey  egalitarianism  americandream  equality  inequality  generalists  specialization  hierarchy  informality  formality  horizontality  standards  standardization  competition  universities  colleges  highered  highereducation  criticalthinking  accessibility  europe  history  leostrauss  kurtwolff  wernerjaeger  jacobklein  robertmaynardhutchins  stringfellowbarr  heinrichblücher  elitism  privateschools  content  process  methodology  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  purpose  sputnik  truth  canon  discourse  isolation  technology  internet  schooling  schooliness  science  wikipedia  communication  language  eliascanetti  teaching  information  research 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Ideas About Education Reform: 22 Things We Do As Educators That Will Embarrass Us In 25 Years by Terry Heick
"22 Things We Do As Educators That Will Embarrass Us In 25 Years
by Terry Heick

Saw a picture today from the 1970s of a mother driving her car with her newborn baby in the passenger seat (no car seat). This, of course, got me thinking about education. What do we do now that in 25 years we’ll look back on and shake our heads? What are our “doctors smoking cigarettes while giving check ups” moments? I have a feeling we’re going to look back and be really confused by quite a bit. There’s probably a lot more than this, but I had to stop somewhere.

22 Things Education Does That Will Embarrass Us In 25 Years

1. We separated literacy from content.
And were confused when we couldn’t properly untangle them.

2. Meter progress by grade levels.
Right now, progress through academia is incremental, like inches on a ruler. These increments are marked by “grade levels,” which really has no meaning other than the artificial one schools have given it in the most self-justifying, circular argument ever.

3. We frowned upon crowdsourced content (e.g., Wikipedia)
Even though it has more updates and cross-checks than more traditional sources of info. It’s not perfect, but it’s the future. Err, present.

4. We gave vacations.
Why do we feel the need to provide months off at a time from learning to read, write, and think? We made school so bad that students couldn’t stand to do it without “vacations”? We cleaved it so cleanly from their daily lives that they “stopped” learning for months at a time?

5. We closed off schools from communities.
Which was the first (of many) errors. Then we let the media report on school progress under terms so artificially binary that we ended up dancing to the drum of newspaper headlines and political pressure.

6. We made it clumsy and awkward for teachers to share curriculum.
Seriously. How is there no seamless, elegant, and mobile way to do this?

7. We turned content into standards.
This makes sense until you realize that, by design, the absolute best this system will yield is students that know content.

8. We were blinded by data, research, and strategies…. we couldn’t see the communities, emotions, and habits that really drive learning.

9. We measured mastery once.
At the end of the year in marathon testing. And somehow this made sense? And performance on these tests gave us data that informed the very structures our schools were iterated with over time? Seriously? And we wonder why we chased our tails?

10. We spent huge sums of money on professional development.
While countless free resources floated around us in the digital ether. Silly administrators.

11. We reported progress with report cards.
Hey, I’ve tried other ways and parents get confused and downright feisty. We did a poor job helping parents understand what
grades really meant, and so they insisted on the formats they grew up with.

12. We banned early mobile technology (in this case, smartphones).
And did so for entirely non-academic reasons.

13. We shoehorned technology into dated learning models.
Like adding rockets to a tractor. Why did we not replace the tractor first?

14. We measured mastery with endless writing prompts and multiple-choice tests.
Which, while effective in spots, totally missed the brilliant students who, for whatever reason, never could shine on them.

15. We had parent conferences twice a year.
What? And still only had 15% of parents show up? And we didn’t completely freak out? We must’ve been really sleepy.

16. We ignored apprenticeships.
Apprenticeship is a powerful form of personalized learning that completely marries “content,” performance, craft, and
communities. But try having a 900 apprentices in a school. So much for that.

17. We claimed to “teach students to think for themselves.”

18. We often put 1000 or more students in the same school.
And couldn’t see how the learning could possibly become industrialized.

19. We frowned on lectures.
Even though that’s essentially what TED Talks are. Instead of making them engaging and interactive multimedia performances led by adults that love their content, we turned passionate teachers into clinical managers of systems and data.

20. We ignored social learning.
And got learning that was neither personal nor social. Curious.

21. We tacked on digital citizenship.
The definition of digital citizenship is “the quality of actions, habits, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.” This is artificial to teach outside of the way students use these tools and places on a daily basis–which makes hanging a “digital citizenship” poster or teaching a “digital citizenship” lesson insufficient.
Like literacy, it needs to be fully integrated into the learning experiences of students.

22. We turned to curriculum that was scripted and written by people thousands of miles away.
We panicked, and it was fool’s gold.

Bonus 23. We chewed teachers up and spit them out
We made teachers entirely responsible for planning, measuring, managing, and responding to both mastery and deficiency. And through peer pressure, a little brainwashing, and appealing to their pride, somehow convinced them they really were."
education  schools  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  terryheick  literacy  content  curriculum  gradelevels  agesegregation  crowdsourcing  wikipedia  community  vacations  standards  standardization  preofessionaldevelopment  money  waste  bureaucracy  technology  edtech  mobile  phones  smartphones  criticalthinking  socialemotional  civics  citizenship  digitalcitizenship  social  learning  lectures  data  bigdata  quantification  apprenticeships  testing  standardizedtesting  assessment  fail  sharing  socialemotionallearning 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous - The Washington Post
"For most of its history, the United States was unique in offering a well-rounded education. In their comprehensive study, “The Race Between Education and Technology,” Harvard’s Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz point out that in the 19th century, countries like Britain, France and Germany educated only a few and put them through narrow programs designed to impart only the skills crucial to their professions. America, by contrast, provided mass general education because people were not rooted in specific locations with long-established trades that offered the only paths forward for young men. And the American economy historically changed so quickly that the nature of work and the requirements for success tended to shift from one generation to the next. People didn’t want to lock themselves into one professional guild or learn one specific skill for life.

That was appropriate in another era, the technologists argue, but it is dangerous in today’s world. Look at where American kids stand compared with their peers abroad. The most recent international test, conducted in 2012, found that among the 34 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranked 27th in math, 20th in science and 17th in reading. If rankings across the three subjects are averaged, the United States comes in 21st, trailing nations such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia and Estonia.

In truth, though, the United States has never done well on international tests, and they are not good predictors of our national success. Since 1964, when the first such exam was administered to 13-year-olds in 12 countries, America has lagged behind its peers, rarely rising above the middle of the pack and doing particularly poorly in science and math. And yet over these past five decades, that same laggard country has dominated the world of science, technology, research and innovation.

Consider the same pattern in two other highly innovative countries, Sweden and Israel. Israel ranks first in the world in venture-capital investments as a percentage of GDP; the United States ranks second, and Sweden is sixth, ahead of Great Britain and Germany. These nations do well by most measures of innovation, such as research and development spending and the number of high-tech companies as a share of all public companies. Yet all three countries fare surprisingly poorly in the OECD test rankings. Sweden and Israel performed even worse than the United States on the 2012 assessment, landing overall at 28th and 29th, respectively, among the 34 most-developed economies.

But other than bad test-takers, their economies have a few important traits in common: They are flexible. Their work cultures are non-hierarchical and merit-based. All operate like young countries, with energy and dynamism. All three are open societies, happy to let in the world’s ideas, goods and services. And people in all three nations are confident — a characteristic that can be measured. Despite ranking 27th and 30th in math, respectively, American and Israeli students came out at the top in their belief in their math abilities, if one tallies up their responses to survey questions about their skills. Sweden came in seventh, even though its math ranking was 28th.

Thirty years ago, William Bennett, the Reagan-era secretary of education, noticed this disparity between achievement and confidence and quipped, “This country is a lot better at teaching self-esteem than it is at teaching math.” It’s a funny line, but there is actually something powerful in the plucky confidence of American, Swedish and Israeli students. It allows them to challenge their elders, start companies, persist when others think they are wrong and pick themselves up when they fail. Too much confidence runs the risk of self-delusion, but the trait is an essential ingredient for entrepreneurship."
stem  education  testing  standardizedtesting  us  policy  sweden  israel  testscores  comparison  innovation  technology  science  conformity  conformism  standardization  diversity  williambennett  nclb  rttt  ronaldreagan  anationatrisk  writing  criticalthinking  liberalarts  fareedzakaria  2015 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Edutopia | Jacobin
[Too much to quote (still tried and exceeded Pinboard's visible space) so go read the whole thing.]

"Education is not a design problem with a technical solution. It’s a social and political project neoliberals want to innovate away."

"Tim Brown, IDEO’s CEO and a regular at Davos and TED talks, has described design thinking as a way to inject “local, collaborative, participatory” planning into the development of products, organizational processes, and now schools.

Design Thinking for Educators is full of strikingly drawn graphic organizers and questions like, “How might we create a twenty-first century learning experience at school?” with single paragraph answers. “Responsibility” is used three times in the text, always in reference to teachers’ need to brainstorm fixes for problems together and develop “an evolved perspective.” (The word “funding” is not used at all — nor is the word “demand.”)

We’re told faculty at one school embarked on a “design journey” and came to an approach they call “Investigative Learning,” which addresses students “not as receivers of information, but as shapers of knowledge,” without further detail on how exactly this was accomplished.

Of course, the idea of engaging students as experienced co-teachers in their own education isn’t novel, nor is it an innovation that sprang forth from a single group of teachers using graphic organizers to brainstorm and chart solutions.

Marxist educator Paulo Freire developed his critique of the “banking model” of education — in which students’ minds are regarded as passive receptacles for teachers to toss facts into like coins — while teaching poor Brazilian adults how to read in the 1960s and ’70s. His book Pedagogy of the Oppressed helped reignite the progressive education movement during that era, and his collaborative approach to learning remains influential in American schools of education today.

Peter McLaren, who taught elementary and middle school in a public housing complex for five years before becoming a professor of education, has since further developed Freire’s ideas into an extensive body of revolutionary critical pedagogy, which I was assigned in my first class as a master’s student in education. The Radical Math project, launched a decade ago by a Brooklyn high school teacher whose school was located within a thousand feet of a toxic waste facility, draws heavily on Freire’s perspective in its curriculum for integrating social and economic justice into mathematics.

Yet, here we are, a “nation at risk,” with lower test scores than our international peers and children still arriving at school every day without breakfast.

Like all modern managerial philosophies that stake their name on innovation, “design thinking” has been framed by creative-class acolytes as a new way to solve old, persistent challenges — but its ideas are not actually new.

According to Tim Brown, design thinkers start with human need and move on to learning by making, “instead of thinking about what to build, building in order to think.” Their prototypes, he says, “speed up the process of innovation, because it is only when we put our ideas out into the world that we really start to understand their strengths and weakness. And the faster we do that, the faster our ideas evolve.”

What design thinking ultimately offers is not evolution, but the look and feel of progress — great graphics, aesthetically interesting configurations of furniture and space — paired with the familiar, gratifying illusion of efficiency. If structural and institutional problems can be solved through nothing more than brainstorming, then it’s possible for macro-level inputs (textbooks, teacher salaries) to remain the same, while outputs (test scores, customer service) improve. From the perspective of capitalism, this is the only alchemy that matters.

Design Thinking for Educators urges teachers to be optimistic without saying why, and to simply believe the future will be better. The toolkit instructs teachers to have an “abundance mentality,” as if problem-solving is a habit of mind. “Why not start with ‘What if?’ instead of ‘What’s wrong?’” they ask.

There are many reasons to start with “What’s wrong?” That question is, after all, the basis of critical thought. Belief in a better future feels wonderful if you can swing it, but it is passive, irrelevant, and inert without analysis about how to get there. The only people who benefit from the “build now, think later” strategy are those who are empowered by the social relations of the present.

The same people benefit when analysis is abandoned in favor of technical solutions — when the long history of education for liberation, from Freire to the SNCC Freedom Schools to Black Panther schools to today’s Radical Math and Algebra projects (none of them perfect, all of them instructive) is ignored."

"IDEO puts forth the fact that Innova students perform higher than the [Peruvian] national average on math and communication tests as proof that they’ve delivered on their mantra for the project: “affordability, scalability, excellence.”

But if test scores are higher than those of public schools, it is not because of the soul-searching of teacher/designers. It’s because tuition is about a quarter of the national median income. After all, a consistent pattern in the educational research of the past half-century is that the socioeconomic status of a child’s parents is one of the strongest predictors of his or her academic success."

"Design thinking, embraced by key figures in business and especially in the tech industry, insists that educators adopt a perpetually optimistic attitude because that is what it takes to believe everything will turn out okay if we just work together to streamline our efforts. That is what it takes to believe that the best idea is the one that survives group discussion and is adopted. The rabid optimism of the techno-utopian vernacular, with its metaphors that no longer register as metaphors, obscures the market imperatives behind the industry’s vision for the future.

This is intentional. Conflating the future with unambiguous, universal progress puts us all on equal footing. Participating as a citizen in this framework consists of donating your dollar, tweeting your support, wearing your wristband, vowing not to be complacent.

Critiquing the solution only impedes the eventual discovery of the solution. And why make demands for power if you yourself are empowered? Empowerment, as Duncan uses it, is a euphemism. Anger is empowering, frustration is empowering, critique is empowering. Competence is not empowering.

The fact is, education is not a design problem with a technical solution. It is nothing like building a spaceship. It is a social and political project that the neoliberal imagination insists on innovating out of existence. The most significant challenges faced today in education are not natural obstacles to be overcome by increasing productivity — they are man-made struggles over how resources are allocated."

"The United States is one of just three OECD countries, along with Israel and Turkey, where schools that serve rich families have better resources and more funding than schools that serve poor families. The other thirty-four countries included in the index either provide equal funding for all students or spend a disproportionate amount of money on students from low-income families.

In a country where the top 20 percent of the population earns eight times as much as the bottom 20 percent, this inevitably leads to two distinct and parallel systems of education, one for the rich and one for the poor. It’s not that “money doesn’t matter” for reforming the education system, or that technology can be a substitute, but that children from working-class and poor families score lower on standardized test scores than their wealthy peers — and America has many more poor families than rich."

"One example of the importance of this kind of flexible and evolving practice — especially for children from low-income families — comes from Lisa Delpit, educator and author of Other People’s Children. In talks, Delpit uses a situation she witnessed in a preschool in which a teacher handed out a tray of candy and instructed children to each take a piece and pass on the tray. Some of the children took multiple pieces, and there was not enough to go around.

A teacher evaluating the children without interpreting the context, like a machine, would conclude that the children did not successfully complete the task and need more practice in sharing. In fact, after asking why the children took extra pieces, the human teacher found that they were simply engaging in a different kind of creative economy, saving up a couple of pieces to take home to siblings later.

I suspect the innovation Gates is investing in is not a technological one, but a managerial one. The only truly novel thing Sal Khan has done is produce a cheap and popular way to distribute basic lectures and exercises to a large number of people who like them."

"The firing and disciplining of teachers is also an ideological choice: teachers threaten the ruling class. Though they are atomized as workers into separate classrooms and competing districts, teachers are, as Beverly Silver puts it, strategically located in the social division of labor. If they don’t go to work, no one can — or at least, no one with children to look after. As caretakers, teachers are by definition important and trusted community figures, public care workers who can shut down private production.

In the United States, where the vast majority of families continue to rate their own child’s teacher highly, even while believing the political mantra that the nation’s education system is rapidly deteriorating — unique job protections like tenure serve to further strengthen teachers’ capacity to resist … [more]
meganerickson  2015  whigpunk  education  designthinking  timbrown  ideo  policy  canon  paulofreire  oppression  capitalism  inequality  management  petermclaren  salkhan  khanacademy  billgates  gatesfoundation  arneduncan  politics  economics  edwardthorndike  history  bfskinner  psychology  control  power  technosolutionism  progress  technology  edtech  funding  money  priorities  optimism  empowerment  distraction  markets  lisadelpit  otherpeople'schildren  hourofcode  waldorfschools  siliconvalley  schooling  us  democracy  criticalthinking  resistance  criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  efficiency  rote  totelearning  habitsofmind  pedagogyoftheopressed  anationatrisk  rotelearning  salmankhan 
march 2015 by robertogreco
This is why you shouldn’t believe that exciting new medical study - Vox
"In 2003, researchers writing in the American Journal of Medicine discovered something that should change how you think about medical news. They looked at 101 studies published in top scientific journals between 1979 and 1983 that claimed a new therapy or medical technology was very promising. Only five, they found out, made it to market within a decade. Only one (ACE inhibitors, a pharmaceutical drug) was still extensively used at the time of their publication.

It’s a fact that all studies are biased and flawed in their own unique ways. The truth usually lies somewhere in a flurry of research on the same question. This means real insights don't come by way of miraculous, one-off findings or divinely ordained eureka moments; they happen after a long, plodding process of vetting and repeating tests, and peer-to-peer discussion. The aim is to make sure findings are accurate and not the result of a quirk in one experiment or the biased crusade of a lone researcher.

As science is working itself out, we reporters and our audiences seize on "promising findings." It's exciting to hear about a brand new idea that maybe — just maybe — could revolutionize medicine and stop some scourge people suffer through. We're often prodded along by overhyping scientists like Zamboni, who are under their own pressure to attract research funding and publications.

We don't wait for scientific consensus; we report a little too early, and we lead patients and policymakers down wasteful, harmful, or redundant paths that end in dashed hope and failed medicine.

This tendency could be minimized if we could only remember that the overwhelming majority of studies in medicine fail."

"We now live in an age of unprecedented scientific exploration. Through the internet, we have this world of knowledge at our fingertips. But more information means more bad information, and the need for skepticism has never been greater.


I often wonder whether there is any value in reporting very early research. Journals now publish their findings, and the public seizes on them, but this wasn't always the case: journals were meant for peer-to-peer discussion, not mass consumption.

Working in the current system, we reporters feed on press releases from journals and it's difficult to resist the siren call of flashy findings. We are incentivized to find novel things to write about, just as scientists and research institutions need to attract attention to their work. Patients, of course, want better medicines, better procedures — and hope.

But this cycle is hurting us, and it's obscuring the truths research has to offer. (Despite the very early and tenuous science behind liberation therapy, MS sufferers traveled the world seeking it out, and launched political movements calling for resources to fund the treatment.)

For my part, I've tried to report new studies in context, and use systematic reviews — meta-analyses of all the best studies on clinical questions — wherever possible. When scientists or other members of the media prematurely blow up a novel breakthrough, I've tried to convey the reality that it's probably not a breakthrough at all. The more I do this, the more I realize the truth in what Harvard's Oreskes, Stanford's John Ioannidis, and many other respected researchers have reiterated over the years: we need to look past the newest science to where knowledge has accumulated. There, we'll find insights that will help us have healthier lives and societies.

As we turn away from the magic pills and miracle treatments, I think we'll focus more on the things that actually matter to health — like education, equality, the environment.

It's not always easy, and the forces pushing us to the cutting edge are powerful. But I try to proceed cautiously, to remind myself that most of what I'm seeing today is hopelessly flawed, that there's value in looking back."

who quotes

"That “new scientific breakthrough discovery” you just read about on that news site/blog/Facebook page? It’s almost certainly wrong. This article from Vox is a seriously important thing that, if you care about science, you really need to read, like right now.

My take: The tendency of the media to report on what is *NEW* in science is indicative of what I think is the largest perspective gap between scientists and nonscientists.

The general public (<- apologies, I hate how homogenous that word is, because there is no single “general public”, but I have to use it here) seems to crave novelty and has a tendency to view every scientific finding as forwardprogress and individually meaningful, but science is a an ongoing process of self-correction and repetition. It doesn’t have an “end” and any single study is almost certainly wrong, or at the very least doesn’t tell the full story.

This is why I have tried to steer clear of reporting on “breaking” science news in my own efforts here on OKTBS. Science communicators and journalists, we need to make a commitment to covering science as a process and not as a series of breakthroughs. When science IS reported that way, we run the risk of losing people’s trust when science later must later correct or contradict itself, which is something that will absolutely happen, because that’s what science does. We must also make people comfortable with the idea uncertainty and science-as-a-process is a good thing!"]
juliabelluz  science  scientificmethod  criticalthinking  joehanson  journalism  research  medicine  2015  peerreview  journals  skepticism  popmedia  media  massmedia  pressreleases 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Lazy, Forgetful Creatures of Habit — Research Things — Medium
"When we talk about designing and marketing, a lot of times we’ll focus on the techniques, the specific practices. Shop talk is fun.

The hardest part of any design project isn’t figuring out how to write well, or lay out a page, or code a website. We have a solid body of knowledge. The challenge is dealing with the humans. Humans are a pain in the ass. But we love them, because our work depends on them. And because they are us.

Humans, especially those of us who spend a lot of time on and around the Internet, all of us are

Lazy, forgetful creatures of habit.

That is your core behavior pattern right there. I just saved you a lot of work creating personas.

Being a lazy, forgetful creature of habit is completely rational. We only have so much energy and attention, and we have ever increasing demands on it. Why should you do anything that requires more work? Why should you go out of your way? Or commit something to memory, when Google will remember it for you?

But what works for each of us as individuals can make life very difficult for our businesses. How do you reach people who have so much competition for their attention and such well-honed abilities to ignore things? It’s not just “banner blindness”. People are often blind to absolutely everything that doesn’t match the thing they’re looking for. It’s baked into our brains — the part of pattern matching that happens below conscious awareness. (And we’re well on our way to notification blindness now.)

And how do you make sure you are working with a realistic view of the priorities of actual humans, instead of making assumptions or relying on wishful thinking? You ask yourself that question every day. “What am I assuming?”

(Wishful thinking is the lazy habit that will doom an entrepreneur.)

Established organizations are lazy, forgetful creatures of habit as well, because they are made up of humans — plus an extra layer of inertia. So, while you are considering the users of the new product or service you are designing, you had better think about all of the existing habits of the organization that has to support it. Those habits can be even harder to change because they are baked into the culture and the business model.

Many an ambitious new strategic direction with complete buy-in from the top has fallen apart because someone further down the chain lacked incentive to change what they were doing. And again, this is rational, or at least understandable, behavior on the individual level.

And researchers — design researchers, market researchers — they can be lazy, too. A lot of bad research is bad because the study was designed based on what questions were easy and oh so satisfying to ask, not based on what was going to yield the most useful information.

If your success depends on people taking action, or remembering your name, or doing anything at all new, you had better make it as easy and satisfying as possible. And the only way to make it as easy as possible is to be really and truly realistic about what makes something feel difficult to someone who is not you.

Optimism is the death of design. Cultivating a habit of critical thinking is the first step to saving it.

Next time, I’ll talk about the Fear."
behavior  erikahall  2015  laziness  attention  priorities  humans  design  designresearch  criticalthinking  forgetting  users  marketing  optimism 
march 2015 by robertogreco
sevensixfive: Shaky Tripod
"From the inception of American architectural education, our discipline has always been an unstable hybrid. William Ware, the founder of MIT's program, observed in 1866, after studying architectural education in Europe, that: "the French courses of study are mainly artistic, and the German scientific, and the English practical." His program, one of the first in the nation, would represent an attempt at synthesis.

Today this uneasy balance of art, science, and practice is in more danger of collapsing than ever.

We've ceded speculation to designers from other disciplines, the best work about the future relationship between technology, design, and culture at large is now coming from the fields of product design and industrial design. Within architecture, the production of novel form is now almost instantly commodified in the global marketplaces, going wherever labor is cheap and politics are autocratic. We've lost the majority of the everyday built environment to dullness and risk-averse bad planning. Meanwhile, with the exception of too few responsible firms engaged in mentorship, we have a professional culture that privileges technical skill and low wages over critical thinking. And we have an academic culture that looks for hard, measurable, machine readable metrics to decide if education is taking place or not.

University cultures, now focused on quantitative assessment over narrative in annual reports, are asking how many faculty are licensed architects, and how many graduating students are going on to licensure, meanwhile our professional organizations are re-entering the academy in several ways. NAAB intends to merge with ACSA, and NCARB wants to retool curriculum so that students receive licensure upon graduation. This is against the backdrop of a university academic culture that's getting hollowed out from within, as administration expands while teachers are asked to do more with less. Never mind time for research and speculation about the future, the academy must produce students that serve the profession now, because offices want affordable labor in the seats at 9am Monday, and they'd best be proficient in the latest version of Revit.

What can American architectural education offer back to these challenges? We can re-emphasize the historical mandate of the M. Arch degree: sustained critique, sustained speculation, in parallel with practice, scholarship and service, as a complement to the profession-oriented pedagogy of the B. Arch, and the deep dive methodology of the PhD. We can advocate for a return to an attitude towards the study and practice of architecture that places it back alongside the liberal arts and the fine arts.

The most useful things that architectural education can offer students in regards to professional practice are being buried under a futile race to keep up with software. If we teach practical skills, then let us focus on methodology over technique, the "why" over the "what." The proliferation of job descriptions designated "X Architect", where "X" is "Software", "Experience", or "User Interface", shows that other disciplines are hungry for the rigorous systems-level design methodologies that architectural education offers. And if one of the things we do best is speculation about the future, then let us serve practice by speculating with our students about the future of practice. This way, they will be able to anticipate, not the new plugins for parametric modeling that come out next week, but the new paradigms that will change how the built environment is made over the next decade."
fredscharmen  2015  architecture  education  criticalthinking  highered  methodology  practice  software  design  architecturaleducation  measurement  algorithms  quantification  curriculum  culture  academia  metrics  howweteach  howwelearn  why  theywhy 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Awakening a Black Child’s Consciousness and Curiosity
"As a writer on race, ethnicity and culture in education, my frank words and activism are influenced and informed by my experiences as a mother. I read the research. I listen to the scholars and experts. And all of that data and information is filtered through the prism of a Black mom with a Black son in public schools.

The link between police in schools and overcriminalization of Black youth is about social justice. It’s also about whether my son could be next. Suspending Black boys at a disproportionate rate for non-violent infractions is the symptom of a racist and unjust system. It’s also a real thing that happens in public schools to students who look like my son. The importance of culturally relevant materials and diverse books is a prized educational value that moves from theoretical to concrete when my son is presented with a summer reading list with not one author of color.

I spend a lot of time documenting and commenting on outrages, so with admiration and appreciation I can share that something special is happening in my son’s ninth-grade Honors English class. With the new semester comes a new teacher. And a refreshing teaching philosophy.
Unless I'm in that book, you're not in it either. History is not a procession of illustrious people. It's about what happens to a people. Millions of anonymous people is what history is about. –James Baldwin

In the last three weeks my son was assigned a project on Emmitt Till (during which he learned for the first time that Till died on my son’s birthday!) Despite my prodding, he was lukewarm on seeing “Selma” until this English assignment. After seeing “Selma” he now wants to learn more about the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, the horrific act that opens Ava DuVernay's powerful movie. And his English class just started “To Kill A Mockingbird,” opening the door to more spirited conversations on race relations.

Interestingly, somewhere in his recent reading, he also settled on the belief that Coca-Cola and Pepsi are racist and decided to boycott both corporations. His historical take on these soft drink companies is accurate. His decision has made shopping for beverages and snacks a meticulous exercise requiring thorough assessment. As I do backflips inside, watching my child learn, grow and sharpen his social justice concerns.

In real-time I am seeing how culturally relevant teaching helps students develop critical-thinking and analytical skills, as well as disrupt student perceptions – laying the groundwork for adults who confront and challenge assumptions and structural inequalities. Seeing our history and culture reflected in his classroom has awakened my son’s consciousness and curiosity.

Because he’s a teenager, I guard against showing too much exuberance. For fear that anything Mom likes is questionable. But just between us…"
melindatanderson  2015  race  ethnicity  identity  learning  culture  relevance  emmitttill  education  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  socialjustice  readinglists  criticalthinking  analysis  inequality  assumptions  consciousness  curiosity 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Jen Delos Reyes | Rethinking Arts Education | CreativeMornings/PDX
[video on YouTube: ]

"On the complex terrain of arts education today and expanded ways of valuing knowledge.

What should an arts education look like today? Can education change the role of artists and designers in society? How does teaching change when it is done with compassion? How does one navigate and resist the often emotionally toxic world of academia? With the rising cost of education what can we do differently?


Streetwork: The Exploding School by Anthony Fyson and Colin Ward

Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks

Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope by bell hooks

Education Automation: Comprehensive Learning for Emergent Humanity by Buckminster Fuller

Talking Schools by Colin Ward

Learning By Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit by Sister Corita Kent and Jan Steward

The Open Class Room by Herbert Kohl

Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich

Why Art Can’t Be Taught by James Elkins

Education and Experience by John Dewey

Freedom and Beyond by John Holt

Notes for An Art School edited by Manifesta 6

Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community by Martin Duberman

Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner

We Make the Road By Walking by Myles Horton and Paulo Friere

Education for Socially Engaged Art by Pablo Helguera

Rasberry: How to Start Your Own School and Make a Book by Sally Rasberry and Robert Greenway

This Book is About Schools edited by Satu Repo

Art School: (Propositions for the 21st Century) edited by Steven Henry Madoff"
via:nicolefenton  jendelosreyes  2014  art  arteducation  education  booklists  bibliographies  anthonyfyson  colinward  bellhooks  buckminsterfuller  sistercorita  coritakent  jansteward  herbertkohl  ivanillich  jameselkins  johndewey  johnholt  manifesta6  martinduberman  blackmountaincollege  bmc  unschooling  deschooling  informal  learning  howwelearn  diy  riotgirl  neilpostman  charlesweingartner  paulofriere  pablohelguera  sallyraspberry  robertgreenway  saturepo  stevenhenrymadoff  lcproject  openstudioproject  standardization  pedagogy  thichnhathahn  teaching  howweteach  mistakes  canon  critique  criticism  criticalthinking  everyday  quotidian  markets  economics  artschool  artschoolconfidential  danclowes  bfa  mfa  degrees  originality  avantgarde  frivolity  curriculum  power  dominance  understanding  relevance  irrelevance  kenlum  criticalcare  care  communitybuilding  ronscapp  artworld  sociallyendgagedart  society  design  context  carnegiemellon  social  respect  nilsnorman  socialpracticeart  cityasclassroom  student-centered  listening  love  markdion  competition  coll 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Sarah Churchwell: why the humanities matter | Opinion | Times Higher Education
"The renowned scientist E. O. Wilson recently described the humanities as “the natural history of culture, and our most private and precious heritage”. The humanities are the study of what makes us human, of what it means to be human. As they penetrate every aspect of existence, they can, and should, intersect with the natural and social sciences, but literature, history, art, music, languages, theatre, film – and yes, television and computer games – are the stories and ideas through which we express our humanity.

We understand ourselves and our world through the telling of stories. Visual dramas teach us sympathy, empathy, pity, encouraging us to break out of our solipsistic shells. They explore ethical issues, ask challenging questions, inform the way we view each other. Today we live in a culture more defined by images and stories than ever before. Given this, it is vital that we approach the media, advertising and marketing discourses that influence and often manipulate us with critical thinking. We need improved communication skills; no one is born with them, and just chatting with your family and friends does not teach the precision of language needed to negotiate and reframe our complicated world. In a global age, we need to understand other societies. Anyone who has ever studied a foreign language knows that different phrases can prompt new perspectives and open our eyes to cultural values; studying foreign languages also improves mastery of our own. This rule holds by analogy more generally: when we learn about other people, we also learn about ourselves.

The politicians and corporations telling us that the humanities do not matter are, by no coincidence, the same people who think of us only as workers and consumers, not as citizens or individuals, and who strip away our human rights, one by one. It is the wealthy who insist that we should seek only to work: we don’t need the humanities, they tell us, all we need is to labour in a marketplace that will enrich them, not us.

If we agree that the humanities do not matter, or fail to challenge this assessment, we are colluding in the very practices that reduce our humanity, that impinge upon all the other ways in which we can enrich our lives, our abilities to express our creative individuality. Until we reconsider what it means to lead a truly satisfying life, what the ancient Greeks considered the “good life” – who are by no coincidence the people who invented the study of the humanities – we should not be surprised if we have the politicians and plutocrats we deserve. Why should any politician seek to challenge the source of his (rarely her) power?

The humanities conserve and safeguard those aspects of our being that intersect with the meanings of human existence beyond industry. A certain playwright was said to love humanity as a concept but to have less time for human beings. The same can be said of our so-called leaders, whose lofty rhetoric in support of humanity is belied by their contempt for the study of the humanities. That said, as the historian James Truslow Adams wrote some years ago, it is absurd to think that the powerful will abandon their power “to become spiritual leaders of a democracy that despises spiritual things”.

There is a story that may be apocryphal but is illustrative. Supposedly, Richard Dawkins was once visiting an art gallery in Florence, and as he left was heard to ask, “But what’s all this art for?” Regardless of whether Dawkins actually said it, this question articulates a widely held view among the instrumentalists and technocrats who decide our society’s priorities. Last year it was revealed that scientific studies had “proven” that reading made people more empathetic. At last, some book lovers cried, what we always knew has been proven: book lovers are better people! Anyone who has spent time in a literature department might challenge this jolly notion, but I agree with the critic Lee Siegel, who responded by defending his right to love books regardless of whether they “improved” him. Let me answer the question: what’s all this art for? It’s for us.

When we stopped being citizens and began to think of ourselves – or rather, each other – only as consumers, we relinquished thousands of years of human development. How can we sustain our civilisation if we don’t understand how it works? How can we interpret Magna Carta and defend our rights if no one reads Latin? How will we protect our own laws? How can we hope for transcendence in a secular age if we give up on beauty? Even in instrumentalist terms, the humanities represent 5,000 years of free research and development in what it means to be human. I think we should make use of that.

The humanities are where we locate our own lives, our own meanings; they embrace thinking, curiosity, creation, psychology, emotion. The humanities teach us not only what art is for, but what life might be for, what this strange existence might mean. What kind of humans would think that the humanities don’t matter? We need the advanced study of humanities so that we might, some day, become advanced humans."
humanities  2014  sarahchurchwell  eowilson  humanity  culture  literature  art  history  language  languages  stories  storytelling  theater  film  music  socialsciences  videogames  tv  television  humans  capitalism  policy  politics  markets  richarddawkins  technocracy  technocrats  instrumentalists  leesiegel  secularism  thinking  criticalthinking  thewhy  why  existence  existentialism  purpose 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Critical Digital Pedagogy: a Definition - Hybrid Pedagogy
"The entire enterprise of education is too often engaged in teaching that is not pedagogical. There are a whole host of other words I’d use to describe this work: instruction, classroom management, training, outcomes-driven, standards-based, content delivery. Pedagogy, on the other hand, starts with learning as its center, not students or teachers, and the work of pedagogues is necessarily political, subjective, and humane.

What is Critical Pedagogy?
Critical Pedagogy is an approach to teaching and learning predicated on fostering agency and empowering learners (implicitly and explicitly critiquing oppressive power structures). The word “critical” in Critical Pedagogy functions in several registers:

• Critical, as in mission-critical, essential;
• Critical, as in literary criticism and critique, providing definitions and interpretation;
• Critical, as in reflective and nuanced thinking about a subject;
• Critical, as in criticizing institutional, corporate, or societal impediments to learning;
• Critical Pedagogy, as a disciplinary approach, which inflects (and is inflected by) each of these other meanings.

Each of these registers distinguishes Critical Pedagogy from pedagogy; however, the current educational climate has made the terms, for me, increasingly coterminous (i.e. an ethical pedagogy must be a critical one). Pedagogy is praxis, insistently perched at the intersection between the philosophy and the practice of teaching. When teachers talk about teaching, we are not necessarily doing pedagogical work, and not every teaching method constitutes a pedagogy. Rather, pedagogy necessarily involves recursive, second-order, meta-level work. Teachers teach; pedagogues teach while also actively investigating teaching and learning. Critical Pedagogy suggests a specific kind of anti-capitalist, liberatory praxis. This is deeply personal and political work, through which pedagogues cannot and do not remain objective. Rather, pedagogy, and particularly Critical Pedagogy, is work to which we must bring our full selves, and work to which every learner must come with full agency.

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire argues against the banking model, in which education “becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor.” This model emphasizes a one-sided transactional relationship, in which teachers are seen as content experts and students are positioned as sub-human receptacles. The use here of “sub-human” is intentional and not exaggeration; for in the tenets set out in Freire’s work (and the work of other Critical Pedagogues, including bell hooks and Henry Giroux), the banking model of education is part and parcel with efforts most clearly summed up in the term dehumanization. The banking model of education is efficient in that it maintains order and is bureaucratically neat and tidy. But efficiency, when it comes to teaching and learning, is not worth valorizing. Schools are not factories, nor are learning or learners products of the mill.

I immediately become deeply skeptical when I hear the word “content” in a discussion about education, particularly when it is accompanied by the word “packaged.” It is not that education is without content altogether, but that its content is co-constructed as part of and not in advance of the learning.

Critical Pedagogy is concerned less with knowing and more with a voracious not-knowing. It is an on-going and recursive process of discovery. For Freire, “Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.” Here, the language echoes the sort of learning Freire describes. With a flurry of adjectives and clauses separated by commas, his sentence circles around its subject, wandering, pushing restlessly at the edges of how words make meaning — not directly through literal translation into concepts, but in the way words rub curiously against one another, making meaning through a kind of friction. Knowledge emerges in the interplay between multiple people in conversation — brushing against one another in a mutual and charged exchange or dialogue. Freire writes, “Authentic education is not carried on by ‘A’ for ‘B’ or by ‘A’ about ‘B,’ but rather by ‘A’ with ‘B’.” It is through this impatient dialogue, and the implicit collaboration within it, that Critical Pedagogy finds its impetus toward change.

In place of the banking model, Freire advocates for “problem-posing education,” in which a classroom or learning environment becomes a space for asking questions — a space of cognition not information. Vertical (or hierarchical) relationships give way to more playful ones, in which students and teachers co-author together the parameters for their individual and collective learning. Problem-posing education offers a space of mutual creation not consumption. In Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks writes, “As a classroom community, our capacity to generate excitement is deeply affected by our interest in one another, in hearing one another’s voices, in recognizing one another’s presence.” This is a lively and intimate space of creativity and inquiry — a space of listening as much as speaking."

"We are better users of technology when we are thinking critically about the nature and effects of that technology. What we must do is work to encourage students and ourselves to think critically about new tools (and, more importantly, the tools we already use). And when we’re looking for solutions, what we most need to change is our thinking and not our tools.

In short, Critical Digital Pedagogy:

• centers its practice on community and collaboration;
• must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires invention to reimagine the ways that communication and collaboration happen across cultural and political boundaries;
• will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather together a cacophony of voices;
• must have use and application outside traditional institutions of education.

A Critical Digital Pedagogy demands that open and networked educational environments must not be merely repositories of content. They must be platforms for engaging students and teachers as full agents of their own learning.

Critical Pedagogy is as much a political approach as it is an educative one. As Sean Michael Morris writes, it is “a social justice movement first, and an educational movement second.”

So, Critical Digital Pedagogy must also be a method of resistance and humanization. It is not simply work done in the mind, on paper, or on screen. It is work that must be done on the ground. It is not ashamed of its rallying cry or its soapbox. Critical Digital Pedagogy eats aphorisms — like this one right here — for breakfast. But it is not afraid to incite, to post its manifestos, to light its torches."
criticalpedagogy  paulofreire  2014  jessestommel  criticalthinking  criticism  education  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  content  process  inquiry  collaboration  community  digital  pedagogyoftheoppressed  critique  agency  empowerment  reflection  cv  henrygiroux  seanmichaelmorris  kathiinmanberensjohndewey  history  future  democracy  richardshaull  praxis  change  progressive  progress  socialmedia  mooc  moocs  politics  highered  highereducation  humanism  resistance  learning  tcsnmy 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Report: Teachers Better at Using Tech than Digital Native Students -- THE Journal
[Agree, but with some skepticism. While I agree that we shouldn't make assumptions about tech savviness and that the concept of digital natives is problematic, if the primary basis of “using tech better“ is about productivity and academic “success” than. On the other hand “using technology to solve daily problems” sounds like a great measurement. Time to dig into the details of the research. ]

"The report's conclusion: "Today's school-age learners are no more technology savvy than their teachers. The previous assumption used to profile students as digital natives did not apply to the students in this study. In fact, teachers' technology use experiences surpassed students whether it [was] inside or outside of school."

The researchers found that "students used technology outside of school for working on school projects, maintaining social networks and entertainment" — but mostly for playing games and listening to music. Teachers showed similar patterns of usage but with greater frequency. Teachers also tended to depend "much more on using technology to solve daily problems, to improve productivity, and as learning aids."

Wang noted that teacher age had no impact on the kinds of technology skills they have. The gap between them and their students lies with how little opportunity students get to practice technology beyond pursuing their personal interests.

"In many ways," the researchers wrote, "it is determined by the requirements teachers place on their students to make use of new technologies and the ways teachers integrate new technologies in their teaching."

The report recommends that "high-quality training" be provided to teachers to help them learn how to integrate content-specific technology into their lessons and how to teach their students how to use technology more effectively."

"School-age students may be fluent in using entertainment or communication technologies, but they need guidance to learn how to use these technologies to solve sophisticated thinking problems," Wang noted. "The school setting is the only institution that might create the needs to shape and facilitate students' technology experience. Once teachers introduce students to a new technology to support learning, they quickly learn how to use it."
technology  education  digitalnatives  2014  communication  entertainment  criticalthinking  problemsolving  learning  howwelearn  productivity 
october 2014 by robertogreco
You Are Asking The Wrong Questions About Education Technology
"Education technology is trendy. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t read an article or have a conversation in which someone makes the familiar argument that “education is the one industry that hasn’t embraced the technologies of the 21st Century.” The world has changed–so the story goes–and while business has adapted, school hasn’t.

It sounds convincing. We should certainly embrace tools and technologies that will help educators become more impactful. But we should do it because it works, not for the sake of modern humanity’s obsession with progress, newness, innovation, and disruption. These buzzwords of the industrial age, let’s remember, paved the road that led to the current landscape of education.

The very notion of education as an industry is problematic. School is about transmitting values and principles from one generation to the next, not skillfully organizing labor toward productivity. Education is the child-rearing activity of civilization. We nurture our young into reflective citizens by teaching them the social and epistemological agreements of an increasingly global collective. Educators need to understand that reading, writing, and arithmetic are primarily just mutually agreed upon languages through which we make meaning out of human experience. These disciplines are essentially useful, but only fashionably industrial. That is to say: the languages themselves have much more longevity than the current applications.

For industry, however, applicability is always prioritized over ideology. Thus, running schools according to the wisdom of the business world is precisely the thought paradigm which led to the high stakes testing procedures that currently plague the United States. We account for learning outcomes as if they were profit margins. We measure the dividends returned on technology and infrastructure investments. We see children as industrial resources evaluated according to their ability to download ‘workplace skills.’ And for some bizarre reason–and despite all evidence to the contrary–we continue to expect that these metrics will somehow correlate with intelligent, ethical, and responsible adult individuals. We’ve chosen the wrong perspective.

Implicitly arguing that the problem is poor implementation of industrialization, education pundits around the world often blame inefficient government infrastructures for preventing schools from embracing the appropriate technologies. But when I look at the multi-national corporate world, I’m thankful that bureaucracy provides a necessary filter–it keeps us from moving too fast. After all, the global economy is itself evidence that the hastiness of the digital revolution has been as tumultuous as it has been beneficial. Popular technologies have, in many cases, increased corporate productivity and profitability at the expense of the humans who operate them.

What works for industry will not work for education because, as one recent New York Times article aptly noted, “teaching is not a business.” By now, we should know better than to transplant the intellectual structures of one human activity onto another. The trouble, however, is that we mistakenly believe we can separate the medium from the message.

The Making Caring Common Project at Harvard University’s Graduate School Of Education, has already explained that students see how adults’ actions can betray the intended rhetoric. Studies show that while adults say they value empathy, compassion, and critical thinking, children learn to value achievement measured by grade points. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Students read systems’ implicit messaging while ignoring the explicit talking points. When schools are run according to the conventions of for-profit organizations, we move with impressive efficiency toward a world full of graduates who mistakenly believe enterprising entrepreneurship is a defining value system rather than an important skill set.

Alternatively, we might understand that school is ultimately a ‘technology of the self’ (to borrow a phrase from Michel Foucault). Then, we would first focus on the systematic process through which we nurture individuals’ sense of agency, decorum, and responsibility. School itself becomes the tool which refines individuals into reflective citizens and prioritizes opportunities for emerging human dignity. Education becomes the structure within which narratives of personal and collective identity are contextualized using the intellectual structures and academic skills that we’ve inherited from preceding generations.

Digital tools have the ability to enhance these educational technologies of the self. But we need to make sure that these tools are also aligned with learning outcomes which prioritize human dignity rather than haste, consumption, and algorithmic metrics. Game-based learning is especially useful because the presence of avatars encourages players to step outside of their familiar perspectives and embody alternate ones. Therefore, they nurture the kind of intellectual self-reflection that education psychologists call “metacognitive skills.” Learning games make the question of identity development explicit and therefore truly empower students with the agency to construct their own personal narratives.

Thus far, however, we’ve unfortunately been brainwashed into thinking that educational technologies are neutral. We imagine that tablets and computers are merely tools that transmit unbiased academic content to students. On the contrary, they do much more than that. Embedded in every technological solution is a moral/ethical stance, an image of the good life, and a narrative of the idealized self. The worldwide success of Apple’s marketing is evidence enough that digital gadgets are not only tools with which we manipulate our environment, but also props in a performed identity narrative.

Technologies teach our children how to make sense of the world, how to think about knowledge and information, and how to relate to themselves and to one another. Making sure we agree, in principle, with the tool’s implicit messaging is the most important question we can ask. Yet, it is the one question we most often skip."
jordanshapiro  2014  edtech  technology  luddism  neoluddism  education  learning  howwelearn  ideology  empathy  compassion  criticalthinking  competition  grades  grading  efficiency  entrepreneurship  foucault  agency  decorum  humanism  responsibility  empowerment  games  gaming  howweteach  schools  children  slow  michelfoucault 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Speed Kills: Fast is never fast enough - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"In the past 50 years, two economies that operate at two different speeds have emerged. In one, wealth is created by selling labor or stuff; in the other, by trading signs that are signs of other signs. The virtual assets scale at a speed much greater than the real assets. A worker can produce only so many motorcycles, a teacher can teach only so many students, and a doctor can see only so many patients a day. In high-speed markets, by contrast, billions of dollars are won or lost in billionths of a second. In this new world, wealth begets wealth at an unprecedented rate. No matter how many new jobs are created in the real economy, the wealth gap created by the speed gap will never be closed. It will continue to widen at an ever-faster rate until there is a fundamental change in values.

One of the most basic values that must be rethought is growth, which has not always been the standard by which economic success is measured. The use of the gross national product and gross domestic product to evaluate relative economic performance is largely the product of the Cold War. As the battleground between the United States and the Soviet Union expanded to include the economy, the question became whether capitalism or communism could deliver more goods faster."

"The problem is not only, as Michael Lewis argues in Flash Boys, finding a technological fix for markets that are rigged; the problem is that the entire system rests on values that have become distorted: individualism, utility, efficiency, productivity, competition, consumption, and speed. Furthermore, this regime has repressed values that now need to be cultivated: sustainability, community, cooperation, generosity, patience, subtlety, deliberation, reflection, and slowness. If psychological, social, economic, and ecological meltdowns are to be avoided, we need what Nietzsche aptly labeled a "transvaluation of values."

"The growing concern about the effectiveness of primary, secondary, and postsecondary education has led to a preoccupation with the evaluation of students and teachers. For harried administrators, the fastest and most efficient way to make these assessments is to adopt quantitative methods that have proved most effective in the business world. Measuring inputs, outputs, and throughputs has become the accepted way to calculate educational costs and benefits. While quantitative assessment is effective for some activities and subjects, many of the most important aspects of education cannot be quantified. When people believe that what cannot be measured is not real, education and, by extension society, loses its soul.

Today’s young people are not merely distracted—the Internet and video games are actually rewiring their brains. Neuroscientists have found significant differences in the brains of "addicted" adolescents and "healthy" users. The next edition of the standard Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will very likely specify Internet addiction as an area for further research. The epidemic of ADHD provides additional evidence of the deleterious effects of the excessive use of digital media. Physicians concerned about the inability of their patients to concentrate freely prescribe Ritalin, which is speed, while students staying up all night to study take Ritalin to give them a competitive advantage.

Rather than resisting these pressures, anxious parents exacerbate them by programming their kids for what they believe will be success from the time they are in prekindergarten. But the knowledge that matters cannot be programmed, and creativity cannot be rushed but must be cultivated slowly and patiently. As leading scientists, writers, and artists have long insisted, the most imaginative ideas often emerge in moments of idleness.

Many people lament the fact that young people do not read or write as much as they once did. But that is wrong—the issue is not how much they are reading and writing; indeed they are, arguably, reading and writing more than ever before. The problem is how they are reading and what they are writing. There is a growing body of evidence that people read and write differently online. Once again the crucial variable is speed. The claim that faster is always better is nowhere more questionable than when reading, writing, and thinking.

All too often, online reading resembles rapid information processing rather than slow, careful, deliberate reflection. Researchers have discovered what they describe as an "F-shaped pattern" for reading web content, in which as people read down a page, they scan fewer and fewer words in a line. When speed is essential, the shorter, the better; complexity gives way to simplicity, and depth of meaning is dissipated in surfaces over which fickle eyes surf. Fragmentary emails, flashy websites, tweets in 140 characters or less, unedited blogs filled with mistakes. Obscurity, ambiguity, and uncertainty, which are the lifeblood of art, literature, and philosophy, become decoding problems to be resolved by the reductive either/or of digital logic.

Finally, vocationalization. With the skyrocketing cost of college, parents, students, and politicians have become understandably concerned about the utility of higher education. Will college prepare students for tomorrow’s workplace? Which major will help get a job? Administrators and admission officers defend the value of higher education in economic terms by citing the increased lifetime earning potential for college graduates. While financial matters are not unimportant, value cannot be measured in economic terms alone. The preoccupation with what seems to be practical and useful in the marketplace has led to a decline in the perceived value of the arts and humanities, which many people now regard as impractical luxuries.

That development reflects a serious misunderstanding of what is practical and impractical, as well as the confusion between the practical and the vocational. As the American Academy of Arts and Sciences report on the humanities and social sciences, "The Heart of the Matter," insists, the humanities and liberal arts have never been more important than in today’s globalized world. Education focused on STEM disciplines is not enough—to survive and perhaps even thrive in the 21st century, students need to study religion, philosophy, art, languages, literature, and history. Young people must learn that memory cannot be outsourced to machines, and short-term solutions to long-term problems are never enough. Above all, educators are responsible for teaching students how to think critically and creatively about the values that guide their lives and inform society as a whole.

That cannot be done quickly—it will take the time that too many people think they do not have.

Acceleration is unsustainable. Eventually, speed kills. The slowing down required to delay or even avoid the implosion of interrelated systems that sustain our lives does not merely involve pausing to smell the roses or taking more time with one’s family, though those are important.

Within the long arc of history, it becomes clear that the obsession with speed is a recent development that reflects values that have become destructive. Not all reality is virtual, and the quick might not inherit the earth. Complex systems are not infinitely adaptive, and when they collapse, it happens suddenly and usually unexpectedly. Time is quickly running out."
speed  health  life  trends  2014  via:anne  marktaylor  filippomarinetti  futurists  futuristmanifesto  modernism  modernity  charliechaplin  efficiency  living  slow  thorsteinveblen  wealth  inequality  values  us  growth  economics  writing  finance  education  highered  highereducation  communication  internet  web  online  complexity  systemsthinking  systems  humanities  liberalarts  stem  criticalthinking  creativity  reflection  productivity  reading  howweread  howwewrite  thinking  schools  schooling  evaluation  assessment  quantification  standardization  standardizedtesting  society  interdisciplinary  professionalization  specialization  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  learning  howwelearn  howwethink  neuroscience  slowness  deliberation  patience  generosity  consumption  competition  competitiveness  subtlety  sustainability  community  cooperation  nietzsche  capitalism  latecapitalism 
october 2014 by robertogreco
More Educator Luddites Please
"The educator luddites I have in mind are people who have always understood school to be more than test prep and who see themselves as far more than the agents of a standardized testing industry. I see them leading the way to create inquiry driven schools where students and teachers are not too busy to think. Schools where the technology serves the learning rather than drives the teaching and where the demand for original work is a collaborate effort to solve compelling problems to which no one present knows the answer. In such a school, the curriculum is not driven by the textbook, the flow of information is not unidirectional, learning is networked and students and teachers work together across the boundaries of age and experience as active seekers, users and creators of knowledge. In this rosy picture, individual schools form a kind of globally aware and networked cottage industry of creative learning.

In order to start that journey we need a collective effort to figure out how to negotiate the changing world and make sense of it. Here, in a small collection of nutshells, are some observations about the context for the work:

1. The web is changing (us). For the most part we are oblivious to the bigger picture as we take each new gadget, or shift, or industry upheaval for granted. For the cultural anthropologist Michael Wesch, the machine is us and the machine is using us. In his prescient and chilling short story written in 1906 “The Machine Stops”, E. M, Forster imagined a world dependent on an all-powerful, all-knowing machine where humans became shrunken, feeble underground creatures alienated from nature and the natural landscape. In Forster’s story, the machine falters and fails. In our world, it does not look as if the machine is going to stop anytime soon. And that, according to Professor Wesch, means we are going to need to rethink a few things, including: copyright, authorship, identity, ethics, aesthetics, rhetoric, governance, privacy, commerce, love, family and ourselves.

2. In the networked world of ubiquitous and mobile access, boundaries are fluid and hierarchies broken. The ownership of knowledge is changed and the flow multidirectional. Students come to school wired and ready to join the knowledge stream. Learning needs to be organized around these networks and not contained in the traditional one way flow of teacher to student.

3. We have to think off the world of the web and interactive technology as a new ecosystem – one in which any person, in any place, at any time can participate, contribute, communicate, produce, share, curate and organize. It’s an ecosystem that has the potential to make prosumers of us all. That is, producers and not just consumers of information and media content. Anyone with a connection can generate content and the tools of social media mean it can be Stumbled, tagged in Delicious, uploaded to YouTube, sampled in Moviemaker, voted on at Digg, pushed in an RSS feed, shared on Facebook and Tweeted to the world. And then someone can create an interactive commentary, put it to music and turn it upside down, again. This interactivity blurs boundaries. As the New Yorker cartoon put it: “On the net, no one knows you are a dog”. Expertise and value may be perceived without the limiting filters of age, status, nationality or appearance.

4. We have both an explosion of creativity and an incessant need for problem solving and ethical thinking. Information, misinformation and disinformation are fast moving and in fluid abundance. In Teaching as a Subversive Activity Postman and Weingarten wrote of the need to develop “crap detectors” to filter the disinformation, propaganda and hype. To some www means a world wild web of mayhem, mischief and malice. But with a sense of purpose, and the skills of filtering and information navigation, it also holds great promise and potential.

5. Reading and writing are becoming less of a solitary and silent activity characteristic of the print era and more of a social activity. E-reading enables readers to interact with each other as well as the text and digital text is always on the move.

6. We are headed toward ubiquitous access and ever more speed. As quotidian objects such as umbrellas and shopping carts become digitized we are being linked with products just as we are linked with each other. Building community and creating relationships are what people, and social media, do well.

This then is the sea in which schools can swim, or – if they allow themselves to become irrelevant – sink. Professor Wesch had his list and here is my list of some of the things that schools may need to begin to rethink:

Classroom and school design; the school day and the schedule; segregation of learners by age and rather than by interest, passion and commitment; the segregation of knowledge into subjects; grading and assessment; social relationships, adult learning, the role of teacher, peer-to-peer learning and the isolation of the learner; textbooks, curriculum development and the sources of information; the nature of literacy; the nature of learning, creativity and the place of technology; citizenship and community; teamwork, collaboration, plagiarism and cheating; digital footprints, transparency and privacy; partnership with parents other adult learners; learning in the world and learning in school; what counts and what gets counted and how and by whom; and the dress code. (I added the last item because sometimes it’s useful to have a topic that gets everyone thoroughly engaged and busily distracted from important work.)

Above all it means a definition of education as going beyond the acquisition of knowledge. Critical thinking and digital literacy are essential but they don’t go far enough. We need to educate children for active and ethical participation. They need to be contributors and creators of knowledge and that means engaging in solving real problems from the very start.

Change is always hard. Socrates feared the effects of literacy on memory. He argued against it as harmful to young minds, short circuiting the arduous intellectual work of examining life. The scholar Elizabeth Eisenstein, who has written extensively on the effect on the world of the Gutenberg and the print revolution, has said it may be too soon to assess the full impact of that centuries old shift. If it’s too soon to gauge the effect of printing then we can only dimly imagine the effects of social media and the digital age.

Media has transformed our society before, but never at this dizzying rate. The unforeseen and unintended consequences of this revolution that sweeps all before it loom for many as dark clouds threatening the very roots of civilization. And here we are – smack in the epicenter. Unless we want to take ourselves right off the grid we had better start trying to make sense of it.

Educator luddites will be those who can learn with others, in and out of school, against the grain of narrowing definitions and toward what it means to be an educated citizen in a networked world.
I think it is our collective task to engage in the work of social imagination and envision our schools as we want, and need, them to be.

For schools it means some hard work and we are going to need all the help we can get."

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josieholford  2010  technology  luddism  michaelwesch  luddites  education  schools  schooling  change  media  internet  web  online  progressive  knowledge  learning  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  civilization  slow  sloweducation  slowpedagogy  criticalthinking  digitalliteracy  curriculum  howweteach  teaching  literacy  literacies  multiliteracies  cheating  plagiarism  creativity  purpose  values  grading  assessment  grades  isaacludlam  maxinegreene  socialimagination  civics  citizenship  writing  reading  networkedlearning  community  relationships  tcsnmy  neilpostman  charlesweingartner  crapdetection  social  socialmedia 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Teacher Tom: Equality Vs. Cruelty
"Yesterday, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced a "major shift" in how the federal government evaluates the effectiveness of special education programs. And by that he means, subjecting special needs students to the same sort of high stakes "tough love" rigor that is already reducing young children across the country to tears and causing them to hate school. He said, "We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to robust curriculum, they excel." He is not just wrong, he is lying. He does not know this. No one knows this. There is no data, research, or other reliable evidence to back him up. As with the rest of the corporate education "reform" agenda, this assertion is pure guesswork based upon an ideology that asserts that unleashing "powerful market forces" of competition, standardization, and punishment and reward, will magically make everything better.

Duncan is using the logic of the spanker: If I hit the kid hard enough and often enough, he'll come to see the light. Never mind that there is no science behind this "logic," indeed, most researchers point to significant negative consequences from spanking, just as they point to significant negative consequences from the drill-and-kill of high stakes testing, rote learning, teachers separated from unemployment by one bad batch of blueberries, and schools closing, only to be replaced by unproven, often shoddy, corporate charter schools that have no problem toeing the line Duncan, Bill Gates and the rest of these bullies have drawn in the sand.

The sick part is that the guys behind this purport to be all about data. They are forever throwing out assertions that start, like Duncan's did, with the words "We know . . . ," but they simply do not know. They conflate knowing with believing. As a teacher, as a person who wants what's best for young children, I want to really know. I have my beliefs and ideas and ideologies like everyone else, but when it comes right down to it, what I do in the classroom is ultimately based upon what science tells us is best for children intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically. Yet here are these guys with deep pockets and positions of great power who are worshipers at the alter of "free markets" (as if free markets have ever existed) hell bent on subjecting our children to the cruelty of competition, standardization, and punishment and reward, you know, for their own good, even if it robs them of their childhood and kills their joy of learning.

I've been struggling with this for some time. How can we get through to these guys? I started with the hope that they would respond to reason.

For instance, much of the rationale for this corporate "reform" push comes from the US's middling scores on the international PISA tests and the resulting fear that "the Chinese are beating us." Of course, Finland is beating us too, regularly joining the Chinese at the top of the charts. So why is it that these guys are seeking to emulate the Chinese model of romanticized suffering instead of the much more humane and effective methods of the Finns? They do this even as the communist dictatorship of China is backing away from its drill-and-kill methods in favor of "schools that follow sound education principles" and that "respect . . . students' physical and psychological development." Why are they ignoring the lessons of the democratic nation of Finland, a nation with a civic culture much more similar to the US, in favor of the admittedly failed methods of the dictatorial Chinese?

But reason is ineffective when it comes to ideologues.

This has been a frustrating thing for me these past several years as I've become increasingly involved in the pushback against those who would turn our schools into institutions of vocational training at the expense of everything else. The primary focus of the Finn's educational system is on equality, community, and citizenship, and that, after all, is the primary function of education in a democracy. The rest of their education success comes from that. And that is the sort of schools for which I am fighting.

Let corporations train their own damn workers. Our schools have more important work to do. And that, at bottom, is why I think these corporate "reformers" are so focused on creating Dickensian schools: they hope it results in the sorts of workers they are seeking to fill their cubicles. Fine. I'm an adult. I can chose to not take part, but forcing it on our children, even our children with special needs, that's pure cruelty, which sadly, seems to be the new American way.

I will be on the doorstep of the Gates Foundation this evening fighting for a different America, one based upon the democratic ideals of equality rather than the corporate ideology of cruelty."
tomhobson  gatesfoundation  arneduncan  rttt  education  edreform  schools  corporatism  billgates  pisa  us  policy  politics  training  democracy  criticalthinking  equality  community  civics  2014 
june 2014 by robertogreco
To Advance Education, We Must First Reimagine Society | MindShift
"Why haven’t education reform efforts amounted to much? Because they start with the wrong problem, says John Abbott, director of the 21st Century Learning Initiative.

Because disaffection with the education system reflects a much deeper societal malaise, it’s imperative that we first figure out what kind of world we really want: a world populated by responsible adults who thrive on interdependence and community, or a world of “customers” who feel dependent on products, services, and authority figures, and don’t take full responsibility for their actions? The answer, he says, will point to the changes needed in all three pillars of education — schools, families, and communities.

This is one of Abbott’s primary takeaways from a career spanning more than two decades of teaching in England, followed by three decades at the helm of an international nonprofit (begun in the U.S. but now headquartered in England), whose mission is to promote fresh thinking based on the existing body of research about how children learn. Its findings have been synthesized into policy briefings, reports, and a book, “Overschooled but Undereducated: How the crisis in education is jeopardizing our adolescents.” It has also just published a distillation of its work, called “Battling for the Soul of Education.”

As Abbott sees it, the need for reflection has never been greater. Spurred by technological advances, “civilization is on the cusp of a metamorphosis,” he says, that will lead either to societal collapse and chaos, or to a resurgence of liberty, community, and ethics. Either way, schools are stuck in the past: The emphasis has been on feeding children static information and rewarding them for doing only what they’re told, instead of helping them develop the transferable, higher-order skills they need to become life-long learners and thrive in an uncertain future.

This approach — a product of the Industrial Age, which relied on compliant factory workers and mass consumption — promotes weakness rather than strength. It has become even more regimented (and thus more disempowering) in recent years due to a lack of trust. Adults who feel hard-pressed to predict or control their own destinies, and who feel confused about the “big issues of life,” Abbott notes, are less willing to give children the time and space they need to shape their own futures.

Unfortunately, he adds, this approach to education goes against the grain of how young people learn. Research has confirmed what most parents of young children can already see for themselves — that children are born to learn, rather than to be taught, as Abbott puts it. Driven by an inborn desire to make sense of the world and find purpose in life, they naturally observe, deconstruct, piece together and create their own knowledge. They learn best when this intrinsic motivation is harnessed in what he calls “highly challenging but low-threat environments.”"
education  society  johnabbott  lubavangelova  2014  interdependence  community  consumerism  capitalism  purpose  unschooling  deschooling  reflection  civilization  gamechanging  technology  ethics  liberty  freedom  criticalthinking  civics  citizens  citizenship  learning  values  schooling  schools  work  labor  authority 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Explorable Explanations
"What does it mean to be an active reader?

An active reader asks questions, considers alternatives, questions assumptions, and even questions the trustworthiness of the author. An active reader tries to generalize specific examples, and devise specific examples for generalities. An active reader doesn't passively sponge up information, but uses the author's argument as a springboard for critical thought and deep understanding.

Do our reading environments encourage active reading? Or do they utterly oppose it? A typical reading tool, such as a book or website, displays the author's argument, and nothing else. The reader's line of thought remains internal and invisible, vague and speculative. We form questions, but can't answer them. We consider alternatives, but can't explore them. We question assumptions, but can't verify them. And so, in the end, we blindly trust, or blindly don't, and we miss the deep understanding that comes from dialogue and exploration.

Explorable Explanations is my umbrella project for ideas that enable and encourage truly active reading. The goal is to change people's relationship with text. People currently think of text as information to be consumed. I want text to be used as an environment to think in."
bretvictor  design  thinking  reading  howweread  criticalthinking  documents  2014  activereading 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The Miseducation of America - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"While I was watching Ivory Tower, a documentary about the state of college in America that appears in select theaters this month (the movie also airs on CNN this fall), it occurred to me that of the many problems with higher education these days, not the least concerns the way we talk about it. "Efficiency," "art-history majors," "kids who graduate with $100,000 in debt," "the college bubble," the whole rhetoric of crisis and collapse: The public discourse is dominated by sound bites, one-liners, hearsay, horror stories, and a very great deal of misinformation.

Higher ed is not unique in this respect, of course, but it is particularly bad. College, as the movie points out, was always treated as a black box: 18-year-olds were inserted at one end, 22-year-olds came out the other, and as long as the system appeared to be working, no one bothered to inquire what happened in between. Americans, as a result, have very little understanding of what college is about—how it works, what it’s for, what larger social benefits it offers—and those employed in higher education have had very little practice in explaining it to them. The debate has been left to the politicians, the pundits, and increasingly, the hustlers and ideologues. Few who talk about college in public understand it, and few who understand it talk about it.

Ivory Tower, for the most part, is an honorable exception."

"Ivory Tower shows us why it’s so important that we get this right: that we think with facts, with respect to college costs and what they get you, not emotions. When we cherry pick the scariest stories and numbers, we do two things: We open the door to hucksters selling easy answers, and we forget what college is really for. Apocalypticism leads to messianism. Close behind the anxious parents whom we see on college tours at Wesleyan and NYU—variously blithe or glum adolescents in tow—come, like vultures to a kill, a pair of now-familiar figures: Peter Thiel and Sebastian Thrun."

"The truth is, there are powerful forces at work in our society that are actively hostile to the college ideal. That distrust critical thinking and deny the proposition that democracy necessitates an educated citizenry. That have no use for larger social purposes. That decline to recognize the worth of that which can’t be bought or sold. Above all, that reject the view that higher education is a basic human right.

The film recounts the history and recent fate of that idea: its origin among the philanthropists of the industrial age, figures like Peter Cooper, founder of his eponymous Union; its progressive unfolding through the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, the GI Bill of 1944, the postwar expansion of the University of California, and the Higher Education Act of 1965, which created the federal student-loan and grant programs; and its deliberate destruction under Ronald Reagan and his ideological heirs.

Free, high-quality higher education (just like free, high-quality school, which we continue to at least pretend to endorse): that is what we used to believe in; that’s what many other countries still believe in; that is what we must believe in once again. The filmmakers undoubtedly knew what they were doing when they chose to show us the moment, during that seminar at Deep Springs, when the students are debating Hegel’s proposition that, as their professor puts it, "you need to have a common identity as citizens, because it creates the bonds of affection." Or in Delbanco’s words, "What kind of society do we want to be?" Cooper Union’s commencement speaker, that tumultuous spring of 2013, turns out to have been none other than Michael Bloomberg. "The debate you’re having really isn’t about whether education is free," we see him tell the students. "It’s really about who can and who is willing to pay for it."

On this the billionaire and I agree. In terms of the "can" (and it’s hard to believe the word could even pass his lips), the answer is clear. Not just the plutocrats, not just the upper class, but the upper middle class, as well. Everybody knows by now that the share of national income that accrues to the famous one percent has risen to about 23 percent, higher than at almost any time since 1928. But the share that accrues to the top 10 percent as a whole, which stayed around 33 percent from the 1950s through the 1970s, has risen to its highest level ever (or at least, since record-keeping started), more than 50 percent. In a $17-trillion economy, the difference represents a premium of nearly $3-trillion a year, about five times the federal deficit and more than enough for this and many other public purposes.

The problem of costs, to be sure, is not a one-way street. Higher education must indeed increase efficiency, but how? Institutions have been willing to spend on everything in recent years except the thing that matters most: instruction. Dorms, deans, sports, but not professors. Piglike presidential salaries, paid for by hiring adjuncts. Now, with MOOCs and other forms of online instruction, the talk is more of the same. My friends, they are coming for you. The professoriate no longer has the luxury of thinking that all this is someone else’s problem. If you want to save your skins, let alone ensure the future of the enterprise, you need to wake up and organize against the people who are organizing against you. The fact is that by focusing exclusively on monetary issues, the current conversation prevents us not only from remembering the higher objectives of an undergraduate education, but also from recognizing just how bad a job our institutions have been doing at fulfilling them. Colleges and universities have a lot to answer for; if they want to regain the support of the larger society, they need to prove that they are worthy of it.

Ivory Tower ends, in the manner of such films today, by referring us to a website. Under the rubric "Take Action," the site encourages us to sign a petition that calls on Congress to pass legislation, of the kind proposed by Elizabeth Warren (and just blocked by Senate Republicans), allowing individuals to refinance their student loans. That would certainly be a good thing, but we need to set our sights a great deal higher. If service workers can demand a $15 minimum wage, more than double the federal level, then those who care about higher education can insist on the elimination of tuition and fees at state institutions and their replacement by public funding furnished by taxes on the upper 10 percent. As with the minimum wage, the campaign can be conducted state by state, and it can and should involve a large coalition of interested groups: students, parents, and instructors, to start with. Total enrollment at American colleges and universities now stands at 20 million, on top of another million-plus on the faculty. That’s a formidable voting bloc, should it learn to exercise its power. Since the Occupy movement in 2011, it’s clear that the fight to reverse the tide of growing inequality has been joined. It’s time we joined it."
2014  williamderesiewicz  highered  highereducation  education  policy  politics  finance  money  studentloands  ivorytower  reform  faculty  solidarity  ows  occupywallstreet  inequality  purpose  canon  funding  publicfunding  mooc  moocs  unions  labor  deepspringscollege  colleges  universities  liberalarts  society  learning  criticalthinking  uncollege  dalestephens  peterthiel  sebastianthrun  peterschiff  efficiency  cooperunion  communitycolleges  debt  studentdebt  employment 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Beyond Pong: why digital art matters | Artanddesign | The Guardian
"When critical thinking is at its strongest, it often comes from exactly the sort of fluidity of practice that does run through Digital Revolution. The London-based architect and artist Usman Haque has been creating innovative software products alongside interactive artworks for more than 15 years. In 2007, he founded Pachube, a global data-sharing network that anticipated by years the current buzz around big data and the internet of things. In 2011, Pachube enabled hundreds of Japanese civilians to quickly and easily share weather and radiation data in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, boosting monitoring and relief efforts. Haque's Umbrellium team has produced a new artwork for Digital Revolution, which takes up the entirety of The Pit, the Barbican's subterranean theatre space. Called Assemblance, the piece allows about 25 people at a time to physically shape beams of light with their hands, pushing and pulling them around the space – while also bumping into and potentially messing up the shapes created by other people.

Haque calls it "a virtual reality", but not in the sense of a purely digital realm: "It's there, it's responding to you, you can see it, but as you try and approach it you can't actually feel it. For me, the idea is to question this distinction between the physical and the virtual." The process is akin to building a sandcastle on the beach, where you are building a structure that anyone else, or the elements, can destroy in a moment.

Assemblance attempts to answer the question: "How do we create things together in a shared environment, where we can't always trust each other, but we need to act together regardless?" This, indeed, is the situation we find ourselves in now. In the modern digital world, the question of participation is crucial as our various networks – social, media, national – require us to constantly mediate between acting as individuals and acting as a group. For Haque, the digital has given us "the capacity to have an effect on the other side of the world almost instantaneously", from news events and economic flows to disaster response and warfare. "We can do things to other people in distant lands, and so the question of our responsibility, and our culpability, is thrown up in ways that it hasn't been before. On the other hand, we now have the capacity to connect with each other, and develop new ways to work together, rather than against each other."

Assemblance asks the audience to see itself as part of a networked whole, where actions have consequences. It also points towards the fact that "the digital" is not a medium, but a context, in which new social, political and artistic forms arise. After 50 years, at least, of digital practice, institutions are still trying to work out its relevance, and how to display and communicate it – a marker, perhaps, that it is indeed a form of art."
jamesbridle  2014  digital  digitalart  art  usmanhaque  dotsasmen  umbrellium  assemblance  criticalthinking  pachube  collaboration  internet  web  online  audience  participatory  networks  context  social  socialnetworks  digitalarchaeology  olialialina  susankare  timberners-lee  liamyoung  dronestagram  jamesgeorge  jonathanminard  christophernolan  pong  raspberrypi  minecraft  geocities  martinbircher  chrismilk  aaronkoblin  wecreate  conradbodman  gta  cpsnow  eniac  grandtheftauto 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Is Coding the New Literacy? | Mother Jones
"Not every cook is a David Chang, not every writer is a Jane Austen, and not every computational thinker is a Guido van Rossum, the inventor of the influential Python programming language. But just as knowing how to scramble an egg or write an email makes life easier, so too will a grasp of computational thinking. Yet the "learn to code!" camp may have set people on the uphill path of mastering C++ syntax instead of encouraging all of us to think a little more computationally.

The happy truth is, if you get the fundamentals about how computers think, and how humans can talk to them in a language the machines understand, you can imagine a project that a computer could do, and discuss it in a way that will make sense to an actual programmer. Because as programmers will tell you, the building part is often not the hardest part: It's figuring out what to build. "Unless you can think about the ways computers can solve problems, you can't even know how to ask the questions that need to be answered," says Annette Vee, a University of Pittsburgh professor who studies the spread of computer science literacy."

"Or take Adopt-a-Hydrant. Under the hood, it isn't a terribly sophisticated piece of software. What's ingenious is simply that someone knew enough to say: Here's a database of hydrant locations, here is a universe of people willing to help, let's match them up. The computational approach is rooted in seeing the world as a series of puzzles, ones you can break down into smaller chunks and solve bit by bit through logic and deductive reasoning. That's why Jeannette Wing, a VP of research at Microsoft who popularized the term "computational thinking," says it's a shame to think CT is just for programmers. "Computational thinking involves solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior," she writes in a publication of the Association for Computing Machinery. Those are handy skills for everybody, not just computer scientists.

In other words, computational thinking opens doors. For while it may seem premature to claim that today every kid needs to code, it's clear that they're increasingly surrounded by opportunities to code—opportunities that the children of the privileged are already seizing. The parents of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg got him a private computer tutor when he was in middle school. Last year, 13,000 people chipped in more than $600,000 via Kickstarter for their own limited-edition copy of Robot Turtles, a board game that teaches programming basics to kids as young as three. There are plenty of free, kid-oriented code-learning sites—like Scratch, a programming language for children developed at MIT—but parents and kids in places like San Francisco or Austin are more likely to know they exist."

"The 1980s made computers personal, and today it's impossible not to engage in conversations powered by code, albeit code that's hidden beneath the interfaces of our devices. But therein lies a new problem: The easy interface creates confusion around what it means to be "computer literate." Interacting with an app is very different from making or tweaking or understanding one, and opportunities to do the latter remain the province of a specialized elite. In many ways, we're still in the "scribal stage" of the computer age.

But the tricky thing about literacy, Vee says, is that it begets more literacy. It happened with writing: At first, laypeople could get by signing their names with an "X." But the more people used reading and writing, the more was required of them."

"It may be hard to swallow the idea that coding could ever be an everyday activity on par with reading and writing in part because it looks so foreign (what's with all the semicolons and carets)? But remember that it took hundreds of years to settle on the writing conventions we take for granted today: Early spellings of words—Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote—can seem as foreign to modern readers as today's code snippets do to nonprogrammers. Compared to the thousands of years writing has had to go from notched sticks to glossy magazines, digital technology has, in 60 years, evolved exponentially faster.

Our elementary-school language arts teachers didn't drill the alphabet into our brains anticipating Facebook or WhatsApp or any of the new ways we now interact with written material. Similarly, exposing today's third-graders to a dose of code may mean that at 30 they retain enough to ask the right questions of a programmer, working in a language they've never seen on a project they could never have imagined."

"It's no surprise, then, that the AP computer science course is among the College Board's least popular offerings; last year, almost four times more students tested in geography (114,000) than computer science (31,000). And most kids don't even get to make that choice; only 17 percent of US high schools that have advanced placement courses do so in CS. It was 20 percent in 2005.

For those who do take an AP computer science class—a yearlong course in Java, which is sort of like teaching cooking by showing how to assemble a KitchenAid—it won't count toward core graduation requirements in most states. What's more, many counselors see AP CS as a potential GPA ding, and urge students to load up on known quantities like AP English or US history. "High school kids are overloaded already," says Joanna Goode, a leading researcher at the University of Oregon's education department, and making time for courses that don't count toward anything is a hard sell.

In any case, it's hard to find anyone to teach these classes. Unlike fields such as English and chemistry, there isn't a standard path for aspiring CS teachers in grad school or continuing education programs. And thanks to wildly inconsistent certification rules between states, certified CS teachers can get stuck teaching math or library sciences if they move. Meanwhile, software whizzes often find the lure of the startup salary much stronger than the call of the classroom, and anyone who tires of Silicon Valley might find that its "move fast and break things" mantra doesn't transfer neatly to pedagogy.

And while many kids have mad skills in movie editing or Photoshopping, such talents can lull parents into thinking they're learning real computing. "We teach our kids how to be consumers of technology, not creators of technology," notes the NSF's Cuny.

Or, as Cory Doctorow, an editor of the technology-focused blog Boing Boing, put it in a manifesto titled "Why I Won't Buy an iPad": "Buying an iPad for your kids isn't a means of jump-starting the realization that the world is yours to take apart and reassemble; it's a way of telling your offspring that even changing the batteries is something you have to leave to the professionals."

But school administrators know that gleaming banks of shiny new machines go a long way in impressing parents and school boards. Last summer, the Los Angeles Unified School District set aside a billion dollars to buy an iPad for all 640,000 children in the district. To pay for the program, the district dipped into school construction bonds. Still, some parents and principals told the Los Angeles Times they were thrilled about it. "It gives us the sense of hope that these kids are being looked after," said one parent.2"

""Our curriculum doesn't lead with programming or code," says Jane Margolis, a senior researcher at UCLA who helped design the ECS curriculum and whose book Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing provides much of the theory behind the lesson plans. "There are so many stereotypes associated with coding, and often it doesn't give the broader picture of what the field is about. The research shows you want to contextualize, show how computer science is relevant to their lives." ECS lessons ask students to imagine how they'd make use of various algorithms as a chef, or a carpenter, or a teacher, how they could analyze their own snack habits to eat better, and how their city council could use data to create cleaner, safer streets."

"IT WAS A LITTLE MORE THAN a century ago that literacy became universal in Western Europe and the United States. If computational skills are on the same trajectory, how much are we hurting our economy—and our democracy—by not moving faster to make them universal?

There's the talent squeeze, for one thing. Going by the number of computer science majors graduating each year, we're producing less than half of the talent needed to fill the Labor Department's job projections. Women currently make up 20 percent of the software workforce, blacks and Latinos around 5 percent each. Getting more of them in the computing pipeline is simply good business sense.

It would also create a future for computing that more accurately reflects its past. A female mathematician named Ada Lovelace wrote the first algorithm ever intended to be executed on a machine in 1843. The term "programmer" was used during World War II to describe the women who worked on the world's first large-scale electronic computer, the ENIAC machine, which used calculus to come up with tables to improve artillery accuracy 3. In 1949, Rear Adm. Grace Hopper helped develop the UNIVAC, the first general-purpose computer, a.k.a. a mainframe, and in 1959 her work led to the development of COBOL, the first programming language written for commercial use.

Excluding huge swaths of the population also means prematurely killing off untold ideas and innovations that could make everyone's lives better. Because while the rash of meal delivery and dating apps designed by today's mostly young, male, urban programmers are no doubt useful, a broader base of talent might produce more for society than a frictionless Saturday night. 4

And there's evidence that diverse teams produce better products. A study of 200,000 IT patents found that "patents invented by mixed-gender teams are cited [by other inventors] more often than patents … [more]
tasneemraja  coding  computationalthinking  programming  education  development  learning  gender  girls  teaching  blackgirlscode  codeforamerica  thinking  criticalthinking  problemsolving  literacy  race  diversity  janemargolis  ipads 
june 2014 by robertogreco