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Here's What Teens Say They Need
"Educators are trained to provide students with the help they need to thrive both academically and socially. We even have the firsthand knowledge and experience of having been teenagers ourselves. It's important, however, to recognize that our experiences may be, and most likely are, very different from what our students experience today. For that reason, we must ask students about their experiences and use their perspectives to inform our approach to teaching and leading. I recently interviewed over 40 teens in grades 6 through 12 and asked them, "What do you need from schools to feel supported both academically and socially?" I share their responses, both honest and illuminating, here.

Finding #1: Teens want explicit proof that the adults in their lives know them as individuals.

Teachers who take the time to learn about their students as individuals send a clear message that they care about them. Students say the best teachers " really care … and actually want to help the students rather than just stand up and give a lesson," (11th grader). "I know I learn better with teachers I like, teachers I feel I can trust," (9th grader). Recommendations related to this finding include the following:

• Teens want teachers to know about their learning styles, their interests, and what causes them stress. Differentiation and flexibility are key components of classrooms where students feel like the adults in their lives have their best interests at heart.

• Teens want teachers to work together as a team; they want adults to talk to each other about the amount of work that is expected in each class. "We have seven or eight hours of school, then after-school sports, and then we have three hours of homework" (9th grader). Teens want schools to intentionally create and maintain structures that lead to a more balanced workload.

• Face-to-face communication is the most powerful way to build relationships. Teens want adults to initiate regular check-ins with them.

• Teachers must demonstrate they believe in their students. "Don't stereotype kids … keep an open mind," (9th grader).

Finding #2: Teens want easily accessible resources.

Students said knowing where and when to find help was a key component in feeling supported. One senior said being able to "get connected with who you need and having a lot of resources" was one way his school helped him succeed. The following recommendations are related to this finding:

• Schools should have designated and well-advertised physical spaces for students to go to when they need help. Teens appreciate help centers that are staffed with adults who can assist before, during, and after school hours with homework, friend issues, and other problems.

• Schools should build time into the schedule for students to meet with teachers outside of regular class time.

• Teachers should provide online resources for all classes so that students who need additional support can access the information. This was especially important for students when they had been absent from class.

• Adults should step in when they see students struggling if the teens do not initiate the conversation. "I'm really bad about going to an adult and saying, 'I need help with this' because it feels like I'm asking too much," (7th grader).

Finding #3: Teens demand authentic, meaningful work.

Teens are savvy. They know when an assignment is busy work. "They [teachers] should give you more important homework that actually focuses on the topic," (8th grader). Recommendations related to this finding include the following:

• Problem-based learning makes a greater impact on depth and retention of learning. Teens want more hands-on activities and assignments where they can explore creative endeavors.

• Work should employ multiple strategies and allow for individuality. Teens want teachers to spend time exploring the different strategies so that they can feel confident about deciding which strategies to use and when.

• Classrooms need to be interactive and teacher lecture needs to be kept to a minimum; otherwise, "they're just saying things at you," (11th grader).

• Teenagers want adults to focus less on grades. "Instead of focusing on the process of learning, they [teachers] only care about the execution and grade you receive about it," (9th grader).

Finding #4: Teenagers crave human interaction.

Between schoolwork and busy schedules, "there's not a lot of time hang out with your friends," say several 9th graders. Recommendations related to this finding include the following:

• Teens want more time for collaboration and group work with their peers.

• Social media means teens have many friends online, but younger teens say they struggle to socialize with those same friends face-to-face and want schools to teach them this skill.

• Schools should create structured opportunities for teens to socialize with the entire school community and to "bond" with students outside their typical social groups.

Finding #5: Teens want the opportunity to fail.

"Kids have to learn how to do it themselves. When we go out into the real world, we're not going to have adults there helping us. We're going to have to do it ourselves," (7th grader). The following recommendations are related to this finding:

• Adults should create safe spaces, activities, and opportunities that allow teens to work through a process independently.

• Adults should avoid stepping in too soon, or too often, to assist struggling students, because teens need the time and practice to learn to work together.

Whether the thoughts of my students or your own inform your practice, remember: if we're really doing what's best for teens, then we need to listen to their voices. Just asking teens, "how can I help?" or "what do you need from me?" is the first step in determining what teens need from schools.
teens  youth  2019  jodymarberry  relationships  respect  teaching  howweteach  authenticity  work  learning  howwelearn  social  socialmedia  failure  howwlearn  education  schools  middleschool  highschool 
12 days ago by robertogreco
The Trouble with Knowledge | Shikshantar
"First Main Trouble with Knowledge and Education is Dishonesty

I do believe that one aspect which characterizes education, development and the production and dissemination of knowledge, in today’s world, is the lack of intellectual honesty. This belief is an outcome of reflecting on my experience during my school and university years and my almost 40 years of work. The dishonesty is connected to the values, which govern the thinking and practice in the fields of education, knowledge and development (mirroring the values in dominant societies and serving mainly the lifestyle of consumerism): control, winning, profit, individualism and competition. Having a syllabus and textbooks, and evaluating and judging people (students, teachers, administrators, and academics) through linear forms of authority and through linear symbolic values (such as arbitrary letters or grades or preferential labels), almost guarantee cheating, lack of honesty, and lack of relevance. (The recent reports that cheating and testing are on the rise in the Maryland and Chicago areas are just one example that came up to the surface. And of course teachers, principles and superintendents were blamed and had to pay the price.) I taught many years and put exams both at the level of classrooms and at the national level, and I labored and spent a lot of time and effort in order to be fair. But, then, I discovered that the problem is not in the intentions or the way we conduct things but, rather, in the values that run societies in general and which are propagated by education, development and knowledge -- among other venues. Thus, the main trouble with knowledge and education, is not so much their irrelevance or process of selection or the issue of power (though these are definitely part of the trouble) as it is with the lack of intellectual honesty in these areas. Giving a number or a letter to measure a human being is dishonest and inhuman; it is a degrading to the human mind and to human beings. Grading, in this sense, is degrading. It is one of the biggest abuses of mathematics in its history! Moreover, as long as the above-mentioned values remain as the governing values, education will continue to be fundamentally an obstacle to learning. Under these conditions, talking about improving or reforming education is naïve at best and hypocritical at worst. At most, it would touch a very small percentage of the student population in any particular region. Of course, we can go on putting our heads in the sand and refusing to see or care. But one main concern I will continue to have is what happens to the 80 some pecent of students whom the “compulsory suit” does not fit. Why imposing the same-size suit on all bodies sounds ridiculous but imposing the same curriculum on all minds does not?! The human mind is definitely more diverse that the human body.

Labeling a child as a “failure” is a criminal act against that child. For a child, who has learned so much from life before entering school, to be labeled a failure, just because s/he doesn’t see any sense in the mostly senseless knowledge we offer in most schools, is unfair – to say the least; it is really outrageous. But few of us around the world seem to be outraged, simply because we usually lose our senses in the process of getting educated. We are like those in Hans Christian Anderson’s story that lost their ability to see and had to be reminded by the little child that the emperor is without clothes.

Most people in the educational world (students, teachers, administrators, scholars, suprintendents, …) are dishonest (often without realizing it) either because we are too lazy to reflect on and see the absurdities in what we are doing (and just give to students what we were given in schools and universities, or during training courses and enrichment seminars!), or because we are simply afraid and need to protect ourselves from punishment or from being judged and labeled as inept or failures. This dishonesty prevails at all levels. I had a friend who was working in a prestigious university in the U.S. and who often went as an educational consultant and expert to countries to “improve and develop” their educational systems. Once, when he was on his way to Egypt as a consultant to help in reforming the educational system there, I asked him, “Have you ever been to Egypt?” He said no. I said, “Don’t you find it strange that you don’t know Egypt but you know what is good for it?!” Obviously, the richness, the wisdom and the depth of that 7000-year civilization is totally ignored by him, or more accurately, cannot be comprehended by him. Or, he may simply believe in what Kipling believed in in relation to India: to be ruled by Britain was India’s right; to rule India was Britain’s duty! In a very real sense, that friend of mine does not only abstract the theories he carries along with him everywhere but also abstracts the people by assuming that they all have the same deficits and, thus, the same solution – and that he has the solution.

Let’s take the term “sustainable development,” for example, which is widely used today and it is used in the concept paper for this conference. If we mean by development what we see in “developed” nations, then sustainable development is a nightmare. If we all start consuming, for example, at the rate at which “developed” nations currently do, then (as a friend of mine from Mexico says) we need at least five planets to provide the needed resources and to provide dumping sites for our waste! If “developing” nations consume natural resources (such as water) at the same rate “developed” nations do, such resources would be depleted in few years! Such “development” would be destructive to the soil of the earth and to the soil of cultures, both of which nurture and sustain human beings and human societies. The price would be very high at the level of the environment and at the level of beautiful relationships among people. Thus, those who believe in sustainable development (in its current conception and practice) are either naïve or dishonest or right out indifferent to what happens to nature, to beautiful relationship among people, and to the joyful harmony within human beings and between them and their surroundings. Nature and relationships among human beings are probably the two most precious treasures in life; the most valuable things human beings have. The survival of human and natural diversity (and even of human communities) are at stake here.

We do not detect dishonesty in the fields of education, knowledge and development because usually we are protected (in scools) from having much contact with life, through stressing verbal, symbolic and technical “knowledge,” through avoiding people’s experiences and surroundings, through the means we follow in evaluating people, and through ignoring history (history of people, of ideas, …). The main connection most school textbooks have with life is through the sections that carry the title “applications” – another instance of dishonesty. During the 1970s, for example, and as the head supervisor of math instruction in all the schools of the West Bank (in Palestine), one question I kept asking children was “is 1=1?” 1=1 is true in schoolbooks and on tests but in real life it has uses, abuses and misuses, but no real instances. We abstract apples in textbooks and make them equal but in real life there is no apple which is exactly equal to another apple. The same is true when we say that Newton discovered gravity. Almost every child by the age of one discovers it. (When my grandson, for example, was 15 months old, I was watching him once pick up pieces of cereal and put them in his mouth. Everytime he lost a piece, he would look for it down, never up!) By teaching that Newton discovered gravity, we do not only lie but also fail to clarify Newton’s real contribution. Similarly with teaching that Columbus discovered America …. Everyone of us can give tens of examples on dishonesty in the way we were taught and the way we teach."



"Second Main Trouble with Knowledge and Education: Lack of Connection with the Lives of the Social Majorities in the World"



"Building Learning Societies

From what has been said so far, two main approaches to knowledge and learning can be identified: (1) learning by doing; i.e. by the person being embedded in life, in one’s cultural soil. In this approach, learning is almost synonymous to living, and (2) the formal approach, which usually starts with ready pre-prepared content (usually fragmented into several subjucts, and usually put together in the absence of the two most important “actors” in learning: teachers and students). This approach also embodies tests and grades."



"Finally, I would like to affirm -- as a form of summary -- certain points, and point out to the need of dismantling others:

1. We need to dismantle the claim that learning can only take place in schools.

2. We need to dismantle the practice of separating students from life For at least 12 years) and still claim that learning is taking place.

3. We need to dismantle the assumption/ myth that teachers can teach what they don’t do.

4. We need to dismantle the myth that education can be improved through professionals and experts.

5. We need to dismantle the hegemony of words like education, development, progress, excellence, and rights and reclaim, instead, words like wisdom, faith, generosity, hope, learning, living, happiness, and duties.

6. We need to affirm that the vast mojority of people go to school not to learn but to get a diploma. We need to create diverse environments of learning.

7. We need to affirm our capacity for doing and learning, not for getting degrees.

8. We need to affirm and regain the concept and practice of “learning from the world,” not “about the world.”

9. We need to affirm that people are the real solution, not the obstacle and … [more]
munirfasheh  education  unschooling  schooling  schooliness  deschooling  diplomas  credentials  wisdom  degrees  faith  honesty  generosity  hope  learning  howwelearn  love  loving  lving  happiness  duties  duty  development  progress  excellence  rights  schools  community  learningcommunities  lcproject  openstudioproject  grades  grading  assessment  dishonesty  culture  society  hegemony  knowledge  influence  power  colonization  globalization  yemen  israel  palestine  humanism  governance  government  policy  politics  statism  children  egypt  india  westbank  religion  cordoba  cordova  gaza  freedom  failure  labeling  canon 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Cory Doctorow: Things that happen in Silicon Valley and also the...
"Anton Troynikov: [https://twitter.com/atroyn/status/1014974099930714115 ]

• Waiting years to receive a car you ordered, to find that it’s of poor workmanship and quality.
• Promises of colonizing the solar system while you toil in drudgery day in, day out.
• Living five adults to a two room apartment.
• Being told you are constructing utopia while the system crumbles around you.
• ‘Totally not illegal taxi’ taxis by private citizens moonlighting to make ends meet.
• Everything slaved to the needs of the military-industrial complex.
• Mandatory workplace political education.
• Productivity largely falsified to satisfy appearance of sponsoring elites.
• Deviation from mainstream narrative carries heavy social and political consequences.
• Networked computers exist but they’re really bad.
• Henry Kissinger visits sometimes for some reason.
• Elite power struggles result in massive collateral damage, sometimes purges.
• Failures are bizarrely upheld as triumphs.
• Otherwise extremely intelligent people just turning the crank because it’s the only way to get ahead.
• The plight of the working class is discussed mainly by people who do no work.
• The United States as a whole is depicted as evil by default.
• The currency most people are talking about is fake and worthless.
• The economy is centrally planned, using opaque algorithms not fully understood by their users."
ussr  russia  economics  siliconvalley  disruption  politics  indoctrination  centralization  policy  2018  currency  planning  conformity  conformism  drudgery  work  labor  humor  tesla  elonmusk  jeffbezos  wageslavery  failure  henrykissinger  us  government  governance  ideology  experience  class  collateraldamage  elitism  antontroynikov  consequences  space  utopia  workmanship  quality  accountability  productivity  falsification  workplace  colonization 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Brian Selznick: By the Book - The New York Times
"I learned that Leonardo da Vinci was a failure. Walter Isaacson’s wonderful biography turns Leonardo from an icon into a human being. For me Leonardo becomes the most human in the explorations of his endless failures: unfinished paintings and statues, ruined frescoes, unpublished ideas, unbuilt machines. Michelangelo even made fun of Leonardo for never managing to finish a giant bronze horse. Of course, these failures are tied to Leonardo’s deep curiosity, which kept him endlessly moving forward, questing for more knowledge and understanding, while the things that we recognize as his “work” often seemed to suffer. Isaacson points out that many experts bemoan all the unfinished work left in the wake of Leonardo’s self-education, but he also points out that it’s the same self-education that enabled Leonardo to create the “Vitruvian Man,” the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper.” Not bad for a failure, I guess."
failure  leonardodavinci  2018  brianselznick  unfinished  curiosity  michelangelo  messiness  self-education  education  howwelearn  learning  distraction  art  invention  ideas 
february 2018 by robertogreco
9 tools to navigate an 'uncertain future,' from new book, Whiplash - TechRepublic
[See also:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



"I have posted this before, but it popped into my head again today, as it’s one of the truest things I’ve ever heard about having a career doing creative work:
When I talk to students about the distinction between professionalism and personal development, I very often put it this way: In professional life, you must discover a kind of identity for yourself, that becomes a sort of trademark, a way of working that is distinctive that people can recognize. The reason for this is that the path to financial success and notoriety is by having something that no-one else has. It’s kind of like a brand, one of my most despised words.

So what you do in life in order to be professional is you develop your brand, your way of working, your attitude, that is understandable to others. In most cases, it turns out to be something fairly narrow, like ‘this person really knows how to draw cocker spaniels,’ or ‘this person is very good with typography directed in a more feminine way,” or whatever the particular attribute is, and then you discover you have something to offer that is better than other people have or at least more distinctive. And what you do with that is you become a specialist, and people call you to get more of what you have become adept at doing. So if you do anything and become celebrated for it, people will send you more of that. And for the rest of your life, quite possibly, you will have that characteristic, people will continue to ask you for what you have already done and succeeded at. This is the way to professional accomplishment–you have to demonstrate that you know something unique that you can repeat over and over and over until ultimately you lose interest in it. The consequence of specialization and success is that it hurts you. It hurts you because it basically doesn’t aid in your development.

The truth of the matter is that understanding development comes from failure. People begin to get better when they fail, they move towards failure, they discover something as a result of failing, they fail again, they discover something else, they fail again, they discover something else. So the model for personal development is antithetical to the model for professional success. As a result of that, I believe that Picasso as a model is the most useful model you can have in terms of your artistic interests, because whenever Picasso learned how to do something he abandoned it, and as a result of that, in terms of his development as an artist, the results were extraordinary. It is the opposite of what happens in the typecasting for professional accomplishment.

Emphasis mine."
success  personaldevelopment  professionalism  miltonglaser  careers  identity  notoriety  personalbranding  specialization  expertise  accomplishment  stasis  failure  risk  risktaking  cv  neoteny  lifelonglearning  learning  howwelearn  life  living 
june 2017 by robertogreco
ISTE | Learning happens in a zigzag – and that’s OK
"Jad Abumrad is quick to say he doesn’t feel comfortable giving educators advice, and yet his career in radio touches on many topics educators are familiar with.

Tinkering. Curiosity. Messy experiences. Failing forward. Transformation.

Abumrad, host and creator of public radio’s “Radiolab,” will be the opening keynote speaker at ISTE 2017.

“I firmly believe that if the act of teaching could be closer to the act of living, that would be a good thing,” Abumrad said.

“Teaching and learning shouldn’t be things that happen in an artificial space," he said. "They should happen in as messy and chaotic a way as the rest of our life happens.”

Sounds like he speaks ISTE.

On tinkering.

Abumrad has said that “Radiolab” was a product of his tinkering with an idea for a show that would include dialogue, sound effects, music and interviews. Educators might call it inductive learning, and the idea of tinkering certainly connects with today’s makerspaces.

But what Abumrad knows for sure is that tinkering can help learners externalize their thinking “by fumbling around to find the other piece of your idea.”

He recalls tinkering around to solve the problem of defining a radio show without using a theme song, but instead by using sound. He spent hours creating 25 versions of layered voices and glitchy edits that would play at the top of “Radiolab.” It became a signature of the show.

“I feel a lot of my own development has been like that. The material somehow teaches you something and you keep tinkering until it feels good,” Abumrad explained.

On curiosity.

It’s an education industry debate. Can curiosity and creativity be taught? Abumrad says, based on his experience, the answer is “yes.”

He says “Radiolab” co-host Robert Krulwich turned him on to the idea that nothing propels you like a really well-asked question. “If you have a good question, you have tension and suspense. It’s like having booster rockets on,” Abumrad said. “I’ve learned that if you surround yourself with people who are relentlessly curious, you begin to get that practice and get that muscle.”

He describes it as having a sense of unease about the information that’s being provided and then pressing to know the question behind the question.

“I didn’t start by being someone who woke up and had a relentless curiosity about the world. I worked with people who do, and I just sort of stole their moves,” Abumrad said. “We need to allow kids to understand what it feels like to have a question and then give them permission to ask it.”

On messy experiences.

As a self-proclaimed late bloomer, Abumrad acknowledges that he didn’t learn in a straight line, but rather stumbled his way through things, wishing along the way that others were familiar with the way he learned.

“Learning happens in a strange zigzag that’s not neat. We try to clean it up and make it a set of facts, but it’s not that way.”

In his experience, if there was room for learning to be messy, it might be more interesting for students.

On failing.

“Radiolab” listeners have become accustomed to the show’s cadence. The interviews are not always clean. Speakers stumble. There are pauses. Flubs are part of the vibe.
Abumrad says those mistakes make the show more authentic and acknowledge the unnatural artifice that exists when people are placed in a studio in front of mics and separated by panes of glass.

Mistakes happen and they don’t have to be edited out. Imagine if that thinking were applied to learners.

“If you start in a prosaic place and think, ‘what’s going on here,’ and you fumble and you ask the dumb questions that get you to the next questions, and you don’t pretend you know more than you know and you flail through the dark until you hit on something ... the spirit of the show is more of a stumble than a podium-style presentation,” Abumrad described.

And he thinks that willingness to make mistakes is beneficial, even scientific.
“Nothing we do is definitive. We do our best and we try to get everything right, but at the end of the day, every sentence that comes out of our mouths is provisional. And that’s how science is.”

On transformation.

The New York Times asked Abumrad why anyone would create a new aesthetic for the retrograde form that is radio. A similar question could be asked of the education system. Why attempt to change the factory model?

Abumrad said his contribution to transforming radio was inadvertent, based in trying to do something others hadn’t and rooted in his experience as a musician.

But he pondered the question, why try and change the way things are taught?

“I actually think the way things are taught is a little like how I feel about any meeting I go to. You can have a plan for a meeting, but every third meeting, you have to throw the plan away. You have to blow it up.

“Teaching is one of those things that inherently has to be blown up every few years. By its essential nature, it should be continually rethought because in some sense, the act of learning should embody the spirit of learning. And the people doing the teaching should be constantly learning how to recalibrate. I feel like the idea of blowing up your preconceived forms should just be something that has to happen – like every quarter.”"
2017  jadabumrad  sfsh  learning  howwelearn  tinkering  failure  transformation  messiness  radiolab  nonlinear  non-linear  alinear  linearity 
may 2017 by robertogreco
3 destructive things you learned in school without realizing it - Vox
"1) You learned that success comes from the approval of others



"External performance markers are fine, and likely even necessary, but they're not sufficient. There has to be a new starting point. There has to be personal purpose introduced into education at some point. There needs to be a why to learning to go with the what. The problem is that everybody's why is personal, and it's impossible to scale. Especially when teachers are so overworked and underpaid."



2) You learned that failure is a source of shame



3) You learned to depend on authority

… That doesn't mean authority is always harmful. It doesn't mean authority serves no purpose. Authority will always exist and will always be necessary for a well-functioning society.

But we should all be capable of choosing the authority in our lives. Adherence to authority should never be compulsory, and it should never go unquestioned — whether it's your preacher, your boss, your teacher, or your best friend. No one knows what's right for you as well as you do. And not letting kids discover that fact for themselves may be the biggest failure of all."
schools  schooling  sfsh  unschooling  deschooling  markmanson  2015  failure  shame  approval  compliance  authority  dependence  purpose  branfordmarsalis 
may 2017 by robertogreco
4 Things Worse Than Not Learning To Read In Kindergarten | HuffPost
"Limited time for creative play. Young children learn by playing. They learn by digging and dancing and building and knocking things down, not by filling out piles of worksheets. And they learn by interacting with other children, solving problems, sharing and cooperating, not by drilling phonics. Mrs. Gantt and Mrs. Floyd created fabulous centers and units that allowed children to learn about everything from houses to trucks to pets to oceans. And they snuck in some reading and math skills that the children didn’t even notice, because they were so busy playing and creating! Teachers today, however, often have to limit (or even eliminate) time for centers and units, because the academic requirements they are forced to meet don’t allow time for creative learning.

Limited physical activity. Few things are more counterproductive than limiting recess and other types of physical play time for children. Children learn better when they move. Parents and teachers know this intuitively, but research also confirms it. Children who have more opportunities to run around and play have better thinking skills and increased brain activity. And don’t assume that young children are naturally active and are getting all of the exercise they need; researchers have found that children as young as three and four are surprisingly inactive. Yet many schools are limiting or even eliminating recess, even for very young children.

Teaching that focuses on standards and testing. Teachers are increasingly under pressure to prepare their students to perform on standardized tests. This means that their focus is shifting from teaching children in ways that match their development and learning styles to “teaching to the test.” As one teacher reported, “I have watched as my job requirements swung away from a focus on children, their individual learning styles, emotional needs, and their individual families, interests and strengths to a focus on testing, assessing and scoring young children...” This shift in focus means that teachers have less time to nurture and develop children as lifelong learners, because they’re required to focus their efforts on standards that are unrealistic for many children.

Frustration and a sense of failure. Children know when they aren’t meeting the expectations of teachers and other adults. What they don’t know, however, is that those expectations often make no sense. And because they don’t know that, they experience frustration and a sense of failure when they don’t measure up. So the boy who thrived in his experiential preschool, but struggles in his academic -focused kindergarten may become frustrated to the point that he “hates school.” And the girl who can’t sit still for 30 minutes and fill out worksheets knows that she’s disappointing her teacher, but doesn’t know that the task isn’t appropriate for her. Which means that many normal children are becoming frustrated - and are being labelled - by an entirely unrealistic system. As one report has bluntly stated, “Most children are eager to meet high expectations, but their tools and skills as learners as well as their enthusiasm for learning suffer when the demands are inappropriate.”"
kindergarten  reading  schools  education  sfsh  literacy  children  2017  play  health  psychology  testing  failure  frustration  readiness  gayegrooverchristmus 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Courtney Martin: The new American Dream | TED Talk Subtitles and Transcript | TED.com
[via: https://twitter.com/campcreek/status/792521887343607810 ]

"Now, artist Ann Hamilton has said, "Labor is a way of knowing." Labor is a way of knowing. In other words, what we work on is what we understand about the world. If this is true, and I think it is, then women who have disproportionately cared for the little ones and the sick ones and the aging ones, have disproportionately benefited from the most profound kind of knowing there is: knowing the human condition. By prioritizing care, men are, in a sense, staking their claim to the full range of human existence.

Now, this means the nine-to-five no longer works for anyone. Punch clocks are becoming obsolete, as are career ladders. Whole industries are being born and dying every day. It's all nonlinear from here. So we need to stop asking kids, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and start asking them, "How do you want to be when you grow up?" Their work will constantly change. The common denominator is them. So the more they understand their gifts and create crews of ideal collaborators, the better off they will be.

The challenge ahead is to reinvent the social safety net to fit this increasingly fragmented economy. We need portable health benefits. We need policies that reflect that everyone deserves to be vulnerable or care for vulnerable others, without becoming destitute. We need to seriously consider a universal basic income. We need to reinvent labor organizing. The promise of a work world that is structured to actually fit our 21st century values, not some archaic idea about bringing home the bacon, is long overdue -- just ask your mother.

Now, how about the second question: How should we live? We should live like our immigrant ancestors. When they came to America, they often shared apartments, survival tactics, child care -- always knew how to fill one more belly, no matter how small the food available. But they were told that success meant leaving the village behind and pursuing that iconic symbol of the American Dream, the white picket fence. And even today, we see a white picket fence and we think success, self-possession. But when you strip away the sentimentality, what it really does is divides us. Many Americans are rejecting the white picket fence and the kind of highly privatized life that happened within it, and reclaiming village life, reclaiming interdependence instead.

Fifty million of us, for example, live in intergenerational households. This number exploded with the Great Recession, but it turns out people actually like living this way. Two-thirds of those who are living with multiple generations under one roof say it's improved their relationships. Some people are choosing to share homes not with family, but with other people who understand the health and economic benefits of daily community. CoAbode, an online platform for single moms looking to share homes with other single moms, has 50,000 users. And people over 65 are especially prone to be looking for these alternative living arrangements. They understand that their quality of life depends on a mix of solitude and solidarity. Which is true of all of us when you think about it, young and old alike. For too long, we've pretended that happiness is a king in his castle. But all the research proves otherwise. It shows that the healthiest, happiest and even safest -- in terms of both climate change disaster, in terms of crime, all of that -- are Americans who live lives intertwined with their neighbors.

Now, I've experienced this firsthand. For the last few years, I've been living in a cohousing community. It's 1.5 acres of persimmon trees, this prolific blackberry bush that snakes around a community garden, all smack-dab, by the way, in the middle of urban Oakland. The nine units are all built to be different, different sizes, different shapes, but they're meant to be as green as possible. So big, shiny black solar cells on our roof mean our electricity bill rarely exceeds more than five bucks in a month. The 25 of us who live there are all different ages and political persuasions and professions, and we live in homes that have everything a typical home would have. But additionally, we share an industrial-sized kitchen and eating area, where we have common meals twice a week.

Now, people, when I tell them I live like this, often have one of two extreme reactions. Either they say, "Why doesn't everyone live like this?" Or they say, "That sounds totally horrifying. I would never want to do that." So let me reassure you: there is a sacred respect for privacy among us, but also a commitment to what we call "radical hospitality" -- not the kind advertised by the Four Seasons, but the kind that says that every single person is worthy of kindness, full stop, end of sentence.

The biggest surprise for me of living in a community like this? You share all the domestic labor -- the repairing, the cooking, the weeding -- but you also share the emotional labor. Rather than depending only on the idealized family unit to get all of your emotional needs met, you have two dozen other people that you can go to to talk about a hard day at work or troubleshoot how to handle an abusive teacher. Teenagers in our community will often go to an adult that is not their parent to ask for advice. It's what bell hooks called "revolutionary parenting," this humble acknowledgment that kids are healthier when they have a wider range of adults to emulate and count on. Turns out, adults are healthier, too. It's a lot of pressure, trying to be that perfect family behind that white picket fence.

The "new better off," as I've come to call it, is less about investing in the perfect family and more about investing in the imperfect village, whether that's relatives living under one roof, a cohousing community like mine, or just a bunch of neighbors who pledge to really know and look out for one another. It's good common sense, right? And yet, money has often made us dumb about reaching out. The most reliable wealth is found in relationship.

The new better off is not an individual prospect at all. In fact, if you're a failure or you think you're a failure, I've got some good news for you: you might be a success by standards you have not yet honored. Maybe you're a mediocre earner but a masterful father. Maybe you can't afford your dream home, but you throw legendary neighborhood parties. If you're a textbook success, the implications of what I'm saying could be more grim for you. You might be a failure by standards you hold dear but that the world doesn't reward. Only you can know.

I know that I am not a tribute to my great-grandmother, who lived such a short and brutish life, if I earn enough money to afford every creature comfort. You can't buy your way out of suffering or into meaning. There is no home big enough to erase the pain that she must have endured. I am a tribute to her if I live a life as connected and courageous as possible. In the midst of such widespread uncertainty, we may, in fact, be insecure. But we can let that insecurity make us brittle or supple. We can turn inward, lose faith in the power of institutions to change -- even lose faith in ourselves. Or we can turn outward, cultivate faith in our ability to reach out, to connect, to create.

Turns out, the biggest danger is not failing to achieve the American Dream. The biggest danger is achieving a dream that you don't actually believe in."
happiness  interdependence  courtneymartin  life  living  relationships  economics  success  solidarity  community  agesegregation  cohousing  us  2016  vulnerability  policy  health  housing  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  privacy  hospitality  radicalhospitality  kindness  bellhooks  intergenerational  emotionallabor  labor  work  domesticlabor  families  money  wealth  individualism  failure  insecurity  meaningmaking  consumerism  materialism  connectedness  courage  sfsh  openstudioproject  lcproject 
october 2016 by robertogreco
The dark side of Silicon Valley, according to a teen who grew up there - Business Insider
"Home of the brightest engineers, the coolest new technology, and the highest salaries in the world, Silicon Valley is also home of the most cutthroat competitive high schools.

Let's take a look at the schools with the highest SAT scores in the nation. Unsurprisingly, 6 of the top 20 are located in Silicon Valley: Monta Vista (#15), Mission San Jose (#18), Lynbrook (#7), Gunn (#12), Leland (#20), and Harker (#2).

In many of these schools, getting a 3.5 GPA could put you in the bottom half of the class (especially at academic powerhouses Gunn, Monta Vista, and Harker).

In other schools, athletics play a bigger role in the culture, but success is still expected nonetheless (Bellarmine, Los Gatos, Mitty). Also, it's a given that the student body is not only talented, but also well accomplished in many different areas.

It's unbelievable when you see the sheer numbers these schools put out. Harker has had 173 people admitted to Berkeley in the past 3 years. In just 2015, Harker had a 43% acceptance rate to Berkeley (69 admitted out of 162 who applied).

For the No. 1 public university in the world, those are some crazy numbers. Not to be out-matched, Mission San Jose High boasted a 29% acceptance rate to Berkeley in 2015, with 93 admitted. I understand admission to Berkeley isn't the best metric to judge competitiveness/success, but it shows a small part of the bigger picture.

Evergreen Valley, my home school, is considered one of the middle-tier competitive schools, but it's slowly becoming a microcosm of the Palo Alto/Cupertino areas. It's reflected in our college admissions.

This year alone, we have 32 students going to Berkeley and 4 going to Stanford. Now, it's great and all that we're succeeding in the college admissions game, but at what cost?

The bottom line is that behind these stellar numbers and phenomenal extracurricular activities lies a culture of overwork and incessant competition. There no longer exists a free summer for high school kids.

Everyone is competing — who can get the best internship? Who can pack their schedule the most? Who can get admitted to the best, most prestigious summer programs? Even in school, everyone is competing — who can work the hardest? Who can sleep the least and still get straight A's? Who can do it all? Who can be a part of the most clubs?

Going through it, it always seemed like a giant race to nowhere. There are a few features that distinguish Silicon Valley high schools:

1. Fear of failure

This sounds counterintuitive. I mean, we live in the freaking Silicon Valley, right? Home of entrepreneurship, risks, and solving the world's problems, right?

No, not really — high school isn't like that. We stick to what we know best. You play the piano really well? Keep doing that. You dance well? Stick to it.

Don't try other things — didn't you know you have to commit to an activity in order to put it on your college app? Why try new things and fail when you can stick to what you've been doing, work hard, and accomplish great things? Because, after all, isn't the point of life to get into college?

2. Stifling competition

We're ambitious and we're talented and we're hardworking — no doubt about it. We start companies and publish books and become nationally ranked in every extracurricular activity possible while juggling a 4.0 GPA. But with all of it comes a price.

By most of society here, you are judged by your numbers. I've lost track of the number of times I've heard parents ask about my SAT score and where I'm going to college, and then change their perception of me because of it. I want to tell them that these superficial things don't define me — that I'm more than these arbitrary numbers and test scores.

3. Ridiculous over-scheduling

You'll see kids with schedules more packed than an exec in the corporate world. After school, go to sports practice for 2-3 hours. After sports practice, practice your instrument for 1-2 hours. Now, it's time for dinner.

Eat for an hour, do homework for an hour, and then sleep at 9 p.m.? Not really. Not when you have five AP courses that each assign Herculean loads of homework. Not when you're managing several clubs and organizations. Not when you're also involved in student government.

Where's the time to relax? Where's the time to enjoy? We're bogged down in this mindset that happiness is to be postponed.

It's this mentality that says "I'll work hard now, so that I can enjoy my life later. It's OK if I don't enjoy now because it'll get better." But when does it end? Caught in this vicious cycle, it's hard to see what makes life worth it.

The only thing I want to say to the Silicon Valley teens out there is to enjoy your time. Be ambitious, be hardworking, be everything you've wanted to be and more — but don't forget to stop and smell the flowers. After all, what's life without enjoyment?"
siliconvalley  schools  competition  education  harker  children  parenting  kalvinlam  overscheduling  failure  colleges  universities  admissions  via:jolinaclément  sanjose  losgatos  paloalto 
august 2016 by robertogreco
How a single conversation with my boss changed my view on delegation and failure — Medium
"“Listen, if there isn’t something going off the rails on your team, then I know you are micro-managing them. You are really good at what you do, and if you stay in the weeds on everything, you’ll keep things going perfectly, for a while. But eventually two things will happen. One, you will burn out. And two, you will eventually start to seriously piss off your team. So I better see some things going sideways, on a fairly regular basis.”

My head exploded. This was so counter to traditional management philosophy: keeping everything going smoothly and hold leadership accountable when things went awry. This philosophy is certainly better than blaming the team itself, but ultimately it makes leaders paranoid about failing, and that has enormous repercussions. It makes us more conservative in our decisions to avoid failure and embarrassment. It teaches us to cover up our mistakes instead of being open about and learning from them. And worst of all, it keeps us from delegating and growing our leadership bench.

As leaders, we must learn to hand off significant portions of our jobs in order to grow and scale our teams. Sometimes these hand-offs are necessarily to people who may not be quite ready for it. They have to learn a bunch of things that we already know how to do, and initially they will do it slower and less effectively. The short term thinker in us may want to stay involved in everything because it’s less risky. But in doing so, we may unintentionally rob high potential members of our teams of leadership opportunities. We have to give them the space to fail in the short term so they can succeed and grow in the long term. And of course, there is that magical moment when we delegate and allow an emerging leader to grow into their new responsibilities, and they end up being way better at it than we ever were. That’s real management success.

That single conversation with my boss has had a big effect on me. His management philosophy has created a safe space for our leadership team to share what’s not going well. As a result, we are less likely to judge each other for the things that go “off the rails” in our teams. It feels good to be in a place where I can talk about areas of concern without fear of being judged, and instead even be praised for it. And because we share our challenges openly with each other, we are much more able to collaborate in productive ways to help each other succeed."
management  leadership  administration  failure  2016  micromanagement  margaretgouldstewart 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window - Wikipedia
"Totto-chan, the Little Girl at the Window is a children's book written by Japanese television personality and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. The book was published originally as 窓ぎわのトットちゃん (Madogiwa no Totto-chan) in 1981, and became an instant bestseller in Japan.[1] The book is about the values of the unconventional education that Kuroyanagi received at Tomoe Gakuen, a Tokyo elementary school founded by educator Sosaku Kobayashi during World War II, and it is considered her childhood memoir.[1][2]

The Japanese name of the book is an expression used to describe people who have failed."



"The book begins with Totto-chan's mother coming to know of her daughter's expulsion from public school. Her mother realizes that what Totto-chan needs is a school where more freedom of expression is permitted. Thus, she takes Totto-chan to meet the headmaster of the new school, Mr. Kobayashi. From that moment a friendship is formed between master and pupil.

The book goes on to describe the times that Totto-chan has, the friends she makes, the lessons she learns, and the vibrant atmosphere that she imbibes. All of these are presented to the reader through the eyes of a child. Thus the reader sees how the normal world is transformed into a beautiful, exciting place full of joy and enthusiasm. The reader also sees in their role as adults, how Mr. Kobayashi introduces new activities to interest the pupils. One sees in Mr. Kobayashi a man who understands children and strives to develop their qualities of mind, body and his concern for the physically handicapped and his emphasis on the equality of all children are remarkable. This was especially remarkable in light of the fact Japan was in the throes of a regime not unlike Nazi Germany. Handicaps and religions that were different from the worship of the Emperor were not tolerated. But, we see that "Totto-chan" making best friends with a boy who has polio. And to top things off, this boy is raised in a Christian family which could have jeopardized everyone who associated with them. Another boy that has joined the school was raised in America for all his life and cannot speak Japanese, let alone know some of the basic rules of etiquette. But the headmaster tells the children to learn English from him, despite governmental restraints against using the "enemy's" language.

The headmaster should have been reprimanded for such actions. But in the epilogue, we find that Headmaster Kobayashi had good connections with leaders in government. This connection is hinted when one of "Totto-chan's" friends is mentioned as having an aunt who was a poet laureate of the Imperial Court. That a child with such heritage would be in such an orthodox school would have been unthinkable during this time. There had to be something special about Headmaster Kobayashi.

But in this the school, the children lead happy lives, unaware of the things going on in the world. World War II has started, yet in this school, no signs of it are seen. There are hints of something awry when "Totto-chan" cannot buy caramel candies from the vending machine on her way to school, and it becomes harder for her mother to meet the requirements for a balanced lunch. In another scene, there is a boy who is bawling his eyes out at being removed from the school by his parents, with Headmaster Kobayashi helplessly letting the student vent with tears forming in his own eyes.

But one day, the school is bombed, and is never rebuilt, even though the headmaster claims that he looked forward to building an even better school the next time round. This ends Totto-chan's years as a pupil at Tomoe Gakuen."
books  education  schools  schooling  sfsh  tetsukokuroyanagi  1981  1984  children  japan  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  equality  totto-chan  tomoegakuen  failure  sosakukobayashi  childhood  memoirs  toread 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Failure of Failure
"Alas, the fundamental difference between approaching success and avoiding failure will be missed by anyone who tends to focus only on behaviors — what can be observed and measured — rather than on how an individual interprets what happened. The good news is that not every goof in setting up a math problem will register in the child’s mind as a spirit-crushing Failure.

The bad news is that coming up short may indeed be experienced by children as debilitating, particularly under certain circumstances. As Deborah Stipek of Stanford University explains, that experience may change kids’ understanding of why they succeed or fail. Unlike “children who have a history of good performance,” those who have learned to see themselves as failures are “more likely to attribute success [when it does happen] to external causes, and failure to a lack of ability.” A kid who doesn’t do well assumes that if he does succeed, he must have just gotten lucky — or that the task was easy. And he assumes that if he fails again, which he regards as more likely, it’s because he doesn’t have what it takes.

This quickly becomes a vicious circle because attributing results to causes outside of one’s control makes people feel even more helpless, even less likely to do well in the future. The more they fail, the more they construct an image of themselves that leads to still more failure. That’s particularly true when students are deliberately given overly difficult tasks in the name of “rigor.” Or when the failure occurs in the context of intense pressure to succeed — or, worse, to defeat other students who are also trying to succeed. (If little evidence demonstrates the value of failing, no evidence has ever found any value in losing — or in pitting children against one another in general.)

Under certain circumstances, yes, it’s possible for a child to pick herself up and try again, just as we might hope. But it’s simply not the most likely outcome. The experience of having failed is a uniquely poor bet for anyone who wants to maximize the probability of future success. Moreover, it’s not just achievement that suffers. Kids who fail also tend to (1) lose interest in whatever they’re doing (say, learning), and (2) prefer easier tasks. It’s hard for someone to stay excited about something she has reason to think she can’t do well, and it’s even harder for her to welcome a more difficult version of whatever she was doing. In fact, failure often leads kids to engage in what psychologists call “self-handicapping”: They deliberately make less of an effort in order to create an excuse for not succeeding. They’re able to tell themselves that if they had tried, they might have done much better.

Even someone who really does buckle down and try harder when he fails may be doing so out of an anxious, compulsive pressure to feel better about himself rather than because he takes pleasure from what he’s doing. (This is only one of many possible concerns about the idea of “grit” that has taken the field of education by storm.) To that extent, anyone concerned about children’s mental health, not just how well they do in school, has even more reason to be skeptical about the tendency to romanticize failure.

All these findings are sobering — or at least they should be. But as with many similar claims about what’s good for children, I’ve noticed that assertions about the value of failure aren’t always based on its actual effects. People who believe it’s good for children to fail tend not to back down when presented with contrary evidence. Instead, they insist that “kids these days” are overprotected and have things too easy. Thus, what was originally offered as an empirical claim (about the allegedly positive impact of failure) is revealed to be a matter of ideology: Children ought to have to struggle, regardless of its effects.

One last point: What’s so powerful about making structural changes — adopting the kind of curriculum and pedagogy described in that Singapore study, for example — is that they really can help students to be more successful (and excited) learners. But to reframe the issue as “productive failure” may distract us from the need for such changes and lead us instead to accept the misleading idea that what kids mostly need is more opportunities to fail. This is closely related to the “fix the kid, not the schools” narrative lurking in the grit fad that I mentioned a moment ago — and also in the closely related enthusiasm for promoting a “growth mindset.”

Maybe someone just figured that the language of productive failure is a clever way to sell valuable progressive practices to a wider audience, rather like rebranding them as “21st-century skills” or “brain-based education.” But that just raises the question: How in the world did this come to be a selling point? Why have so many people accepted the idea that kids need to fail more?"
alfiekohn  education  struggle  failure  progressiveeducation  progressive  2016  psychology  children  curriculum  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  via:willrichardson  grit  misreadingings  sfsh 
june 2016 by robertogreco
[Easy Chair] | The Habits of Highly Cynical People, by Rebecca Solnit | Harper's Magazine
"In April 24, 1916 — Easter Monday — Irish republicans in Dublin and a handful of other places staged an armed rebellion against British occupation. At the time, the British Empire was the strongest power on earth; Ireland was its first and nearest colony. That the puny colony might oust the giant seemed far-fetched, and by most measures the endeavor was a failure. The leaders were executed; the British occupation continued. But not for long: the Easter Uprising is now generally understood as a crucial step in a process that led, in 1937, to full independence for most of the island. A hundred years on, some view 1916 as the beginning of the end of the British Empire.

This year also marks the fifth anniversary of the Arab Spring. It seems to be taken for granted that these uprisings, too, were a failure, since many of the affected countries are now just different kinds of dire than they were before. But the public display of a passionate desire for participatory government, the demonstration of the strength of popular power and the weakness of despotic regimes, and the sheer (if short-lived) exhilaration that took place five years ago may have sown seeds that have not yet germinated.

I am not arguing for overlooking the violence and instability that are now plaguing North Africa and the Middle East. Nor am I optimistic about the near future of the region. I do not know what the long-term consequences of the Arab Spring will be — but neither does anyone else. We live in a time when the news media and other purveyors of conventional wisdom like to report on the future more than the past. They draw on polls and false analogies to announce what is going to happen next, and their frequent errors — about the unelectability of Barack Obama, say, or the inevitability of the Keystone XL pipeline — don’t seem to impede their habit of prophecy or our willingness to abide them. “We don’t actually know” is their least favorite thing to report.

Non-pundits, too, use bad data and worse analysis to pronounce with great certainty on future inevitabilities, present impossibilities, and past failures. The mind-set behind these statements is what I call naïve cynicism. It bleeds the sense of possibility and maybe the sense of responsibility out of people.

Cynicism is first of all a style of presenting oneself, and it takes pride more than anything in not being fooled and not being foolish. But in the forms in which I encounter it, cynicism is frequently both these things. That the attitude that prides itself on world-weary experience is often so naïve says much about the triumph of style over substance, attitude over analysis.

Maybe it also says something about the tendency to oversimplify. If simplification means reducing things to their essentials, oversimplification tosses aside the essential as well. It is a relentless pursuit of certainty and clarity in a world that generally offers neither, a desire to shove nuances and complexities into clear-cut binaries. Naïve cynicism concerns me because it flattens out the past and the future, and because it reduces the motivation to participate in public life, public discourse, and even intelligent conversation that distinguishes shades of gray, ambiguities and ambivalences, uncertainties, unknowns, and opportunities. Instead, we conduct our conversations like wars, and the heavy artillery of grim confidence is the weapon many reach for.

Naïve cynics shoot down possibilities, including the possibility of exploring the full complexity of any situation. They take aim at the less cynical, so that cynicism becomes a defensive posture and an avoidance of dissent. They recruit through brutality. If you set purity and perfection as your goals, you have an almost foolproof system according to which everything will necessarily fall short. But expecting perfection is naïve; failing to perceive value by using an impossible standard of measure is even more so. Cynics are often disappointed idealists and upholders of unrealistic standards. They are uncomfortable with victories, because victories are almost always temporary, incomplete, and compromised — but also because the openness of hope is dangerous, and in war, self-defense comes first. Naïve cynicism is absolutist; its practitioners assume that anything you don’t deplore you wholeheartedly endorse. But denouncing anything less than perfection as morally compromising means pursuing aggrandizement of the self, not engagement with a place or system or community, as the highest priority.

Different factions have different versions of naïve cynicism. There is, for example, the way the mainstream discounts political action that proceeds outside the usual corridors of power. When Occupy Wall Street began five years ago, the movement was mocked, dismissed, and willfully misunderstood before it was hastily pronounced dead. Its obituary has been written dozens of times over the years by people who’d prefer that the rabble who blur the lines between the homeless and the merely furious not have a political role to play.

But the fruits of OWS are too many to count. People who were involved with local encampments tell me that their thriving offshoots are still making a difference. California alone was said to have more than 100 Occupy groups; what each of them did is impossible to measure. There were results as direct as homeless advocacy, as indirect as a shift in the national debate about housing, medical and student debt, economic injustice, and inequality. There has also been effective concrete action — from debt strikes to state legislation — on these issues. Occupy helped to bring politicians such as Bernie Sanders, Bill de Blasio, and Elizabeth Warren into the mainstream.

The inability to assess what OWS accomplished comes in part from the assumption that historical events either produce straightforward, quantifiable, immediate results, or they fail to matter. It’s as though we’re talking about bowling: either that ball knocked over those pins in that lane or it didn’t. But historical forces are not bowling balls. If bowling had to be the metaphor, it would be some kind of metaphysical game shrouded in mists and unfolding over decades. The ball might knock over a pin and then another one in fifteen years and possibly have a strike in some other lane that most of us had forgotten even existed. That’s sort of what the Easter Rising did, and what Occupy and Black Lives Matter are doing now.

Then there is the naïve cynicism of those outside the mainstream who similarly doubt their own capacity to help bring about change, a view that conveniently spares them the hard work such change requires.

I recently posted on Facebook a passage from the February issue of Nature Climate Change in which a group of scientists outlined the impact of climate change over the next 10,000 years. Their portrait is terrifying, but it is not despairing: “This long-term view shows that the next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far.” That’s a sentence about catastrophe but also about opportunity. Yet when I posted the article, the first comment I got was, “There’s nothing that’s going to stop the consequences of what we have already done/not done.” This was another way of saying, I’m pitting my own casual assessment over peer-reviewed science; I’m not reading carefully; I’m making a thwacking sound with my false omniscience.

Such comments represent a reflex response that can be used to meet wildly different stimuli. Naïve cynicism remains obdurate in the face of varied events, some of which are positive, some negative, some mixed, and quite a lot of them unfinished.

The climate movement has grown powerful and diverse. On this continent it is shutting down coal plants and preventing new ones from being built. It has blocked fracking, oil and gas leases on public land, drilling in the Arctic, pipelines, and oil trains that carry the stuff that would otherwise run through the thwarted pipelines. Cities, states, and regions are making stunning commitments — San Diego has committed to going 100 percent renewable by 2035.

Remarkable legislation has been introduced even on the national level, such as bills in both the House and the Senate to bar new fossil-fuel extraction on public lands. Those bills will almost certainly not pass in the present Congress, but they introduce to the mainstream a position that was inconceivable a few years ago. This is how epochal change often begins, with efforts that fail in their direct aims but succeed in shifting the conversation and opening space for further action.

These campaigns and achievements are far from enough; they need to scale up, and scaling up means drawing in people who recognize that there are indeed opportunities worth seizing.

Late last year, some key federal decisions to curtail drilling for oil in the Arctic and to prevent the construction of a tar-sands pipeline were announced. The naïvely cynical dismissed them as purely a consequence of the plummeting price of oil. Activism had nothing to do with it, I was repeatedly told. But had there been no activism, the Arctic would have been drilled, and the pipelines to get the dirty crude cheaply out of Alberta built, before the price drop. It wasn’t either-or; it was both.

David Roberts, a climate journalist for Vox, notes that the disparagement of the campaign to stop the Keystone XL pipeline assumed that the activists’ only goal was to prevent this one pipeline from being built, and that since this one pipeline’s cancellation wouldn’t save the world, the effort was futile. Roberts named these armchair quarterbacks of climate action the Doing It Wrong Brigade. He compared their critique to “criticizing the Montgomery bus boycott because it only affected a relative handful of blacks. The point of civil… [more]
rebeccasolnit  2016  cynicism  change  time  occupywallstreet  ows  hope  optimism  idealism  perfectionism  obstructionism  simplification  oversimplification  possibility  economics  justice  climatechange  keystonepipeline  patience  longview  blacklivesmatter  civilrightsmovement  politics  policy  conversation  easterrising  power  community  systemsthinking  standards  metrics  measurement  success  failure  dissent  discourse  uncertainty  opportunity 
may 2016 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.

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.

4. 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  learning  youth  fitness  health  skill  care  self-discipline  memory  imagination  consumerism  spectatoritis  locomotion  williamtemple  stimulation  expeditions  projects  projectbasedlearning  self-discovery  howwelearn  outwardbound  unitedworldcolleges  collaboration  competition  nature  outdoors  solitude  reflection  compassion  service  servicelearning  howweteach  education  pedagogy  experientiallearning  experience  success  failure  empathy  caring  responsibility 
april 2016 by robertogreco
3 destructive things you learned in school without realizing it - Vox
" So in the spirit of graduation season, I figured it'd be nice to talk about what school does and does not teach you. Because if I've learned one thing, it's that who you were in school is not necessarily who you are destined to be in life. In fact, often it's quite the opposite.

1) You learned that success comes from the approval of others

We seem to live in a culture today where people are more concerned with appearing to be something important rather than actually being something important. See: the Kardashian sisters, Donald Trump, 63 percent of all Instagram users, athletes who make rap albums, the entire US Congress, etc.

There are a number of reasons for this, but a large part of it is that as we grow up, we are rewarded and punished based on meeting the approval of other people's standards, not our own. Make good grades. Take advanced courses. Play on sports teams. Score highly on standardized tests. These metrics make for a productive workforce but not a happy workforce.

Our education system is performance-based and not purpose-based. It teaches mimicry and not passion.

The whys of life are far more important than the whats of life, and that's a message that is rarely communicated growing up.

You can be the best advertiser in the world, but if you're advertising fake penis pills, then your talent is not an asset to society but a liability. You can be the best investor in the world, but if you're investing in foreign companies and countries that make their profits through corruption and human trafficking, then your talent is not an asset to society but rather a liability. You can be the best communicator in the world, but if you're teaching religious fanaticism and racism, then your talent is not an asset but rather a liability.

Growing up, everything you're told to do is for no other purpose than to earn the approval of others around you. It's to satisfy somebody else's standard. How many times growing up did you ever hear the complaint, "This is pointless. Why do I have to learn this?" How many times do I hear adults saying, "I don't even know what I like to do; all I know is I'm not happy"?

Our education system is performance-based and not purpose-based. It teaches mimicry and not passion.

Performance-based learning isn't even efficient. A kid who is excited about cars is going to have a hell of a better time learning about math and physics if math and physics can be put in the context of what he cares about. He's going to retain more of it and become curious to discover more on his own.

But if he isn't responsible for the why of what he is learning, then what he's learning isn't physics and math, it's how to fake it to make someone else happy. And that's an ugly habit to ingrain into a culture. It churns out a mass of highly efficient people with low self-esteem.

In the past few decades, concerned parents and teachers have tried to remedy this self-esteem issue by making it easier for kids to feel successful. But this just makes the problem worse. Not only are you training kids to base their self-worth on the approval of others, but now you're giving them that approval without them having to actually do anything to earn it!

Or as Branford Marsalis, one of the greatest saxophone players of all time, so eloquently put it:

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rz2jRHA9fo , previously bookmarked https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:f9d0b4b244e0 ]

External performance markers are fine, and likely even necessary, but they're not sufficient. There has to be a new starting point. There has to be personal purpose introduced into education at some point. There needs to be a why to learning to go with the what. The problem is that everybody's why is personal, and it's impossible to scale. Especially when teachers are so overworked and underpaid.

2) You learned that failure is a source of shame

Earlier this year I had lunch with one of those people who you just can't believe exists. He had four degrees, including a master's from MIT and a PhD from Harvard (or was it a master's from Harvard and a PhD from MIT? I can't even remember). He was at the top of his field, worked for one of the most prestigious consulting firms, and had traveled all over the world working with top CEOs and managers.

And he told me he felt stuck. He wanted to start a business, but he didn't know how.

And he wasn't stuck because he didn't know what to do. He knew exactly what he wanted to do. He was stuck because he didn't know if it was the right thing to do.

He told me that throughout his entire life he had mastered the art of getting it right on the first try. That's how schools reward you. That's how companies reward you. They tell you what to do, and then you nail it. And he could always nail it.

But when it came to creating something new, doing something innovative, stepping out into the unknown, he didn't know how to do it. He was afraid. Innovation requires failure, and he didn't know how to fail. He had never failed before!

There has to be personal purpose introduced into education at some point



3) You learned to depend on authority

Sometimes I get emails from readers who send me their life stories and then ask me to tell them what to do. Their situations are usually impossibly personal and complex. And so my answer is usually, "I have no clue." I don't know these people. I don't know what they're like. I don't know what their values are or how they feel or where they come from. How would I know?

I think there's a tendency for most of us to be scared of not having someone tell us what to do. Being told what to do can be comfortable. It can feel safe, because ultimately you never feel entirely responsible for your fate. You're just following the game plan.

Blind obedience causes more problems than it solves. It kills creative thinking. It promotes mindless parroting and inane certainty. It keeps crap TV on the air.

That doesn't mean authority is always harmful. It doesn't mean authority serves no purpose. Authority will always exist and will always be necessary for a well-functioning society.

…"
markmanson  education  failure  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  authority  conformity  success  dependence  independence  shame  mimicry  passion  schools  schooling  branfordmarsalis 
december 2015 by robertogreco
YaleNews | VICE editor explains how art and journalism can intersect in ‘reportage art’
"Crabapple spoke about her early years, shared some insights she gained through her art and journalism, and talked about the future of journalism.

“I was a terrible student. I didn’t get into a single academic college. … It’s probably not surprising that I never worked an office job [too],” remarked Crabapple. “Instead of doing my tests, I filled the blank spaces where the answers belonged with pictures of Kurt Cobain, my imaginary boyfriend.”

Crabapple then was sent to “a school shrink” who diagnosed her with oppositional defiant disorder, which she described as the “clinical basis of being a journalist.”

The first lesson Crabapple learned “by being a bad kid, being a failure early on,” she said, was that “trouble is the best school for an artist and a journalist.”

“Being the bad kid teaches you to work from an ‘internal compulsion’ that propels you to do something you want to or need to do — you don’t do something for external validation or an external reward.”

Crabapple’s “internal compulsion” propelled her to draw. “Through it all, I drew. I was terrible for the first 20 years that I drew pictures, but I kept doing it because I was obsessed. I drew … and even if I was locked up in a room, I would draw,” she said."
mollycrabapple  art  unschooling  education  learning  howwelearn  schools  journalism  academics  failure  deschooling  compulsion  instrinsicmotivation 
december 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
Austin Kleon — 10 lessons from designer Tibor Kalman: Perverse...
"1. Everything is an experiment.

You can get a great feel for what Tibor Kalman (1949–1999) was about just from the opening pages of Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist…

[image]

2. Learn on the job.

Peter Hall points out that Tibor was always “learning on the job—or, as someone side of the journalistic vocation, conducting an education in public.”

One way he did that was to hire young designers more talented than him and learn from them:
That was the way I learned. I stood over their shoulders, and learned how graphic design is done. But I was always the boss. It has been a curious phenomenon in my life that I’ve continued pretty much throughout my career; I would try to get the job I couldn’t get, and not know how to do it, and then I would hire people who did know how to do it, and I would direct them. That to me is always the ideal way to work, because you learn very quickly and you have the means to do something, and yet you know nothing about the field, so you can do something original.

3. As soon as you learn how to do something, move on.

[image]
I did two of a number of things. The first one, you fuck it up in an interesting way; the second one, you get it right; and then you’re out of there… I think as long as I don’t know how to do something, I can do it well; and as soon as I have learned how to do something, I will do it less well, because it will be more obvious. I think that goes for most people. I think most people spend too much time doing one thing.

4. Having a style is a kind of death.

[image]

David Byrne, for whom Kalman designed many album covers, including Remain In Light:
Tibor and company don’t have a signature style, and that is a worthy ambition in life…. Having a recognizable style relegates you to the status of quotable icon. And while being an icon is flattering, I imagine, once it happens, you become irrelevent.

My own ambition is to write a song that sounds like I stole it—like “I” didn’t write it, but it has always been there. To get the “I” out of the song is the ultimate compositional coup, whether in music or design.

5. Visual literacy isn’t enough. Designers have to read everything.

Kalman said that “an enormous amount of graphic design is made by people who look at pictures but don’t know how to think about them.”
I started asking job candidates, “What have you read in the last year?” Because I suddenly began to realize that the difference between a good and a bad designer is how much did they know about everything else—biology, history. Because graphic design is just a means of communication, a language, and what you choose to communicate, and how and why on a particular project, that is all the interesting stuff.

6. You don’t necessarily have to be visually motivated to be a designer.

Rick Poynor on Kalman’s red-green colorblindness (I have it, too):
Most designers are designers because of an exceptional intensity in their response to visual form coupled with a degree of talent for manipulating it. Kalman is unusual among those who choose design as a profession in not being a visually motivated person in this sense. He is red-green color blind and, although this is not severe, it means that he treats color as an “idea” rather than as a sensation to which he responds according to intuition or taste. He will know intellectually that “sky blue” is called for to get an effect he wants to achieve without being able to specify for himself which shade of blue it should be.

7. Don’t steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style.

Kalman said it was okay to borrow ideas, but “transform” is the key word: you have to know the context of the ideas and not de-contextualize them, but re-contextualize them:
Reference means just that: You refer to something. It gives you an idea. You create something new.

Real modernism is filled with historical reference and allusion. And in some of the best design today, historical references are used very eloquently. But those examples were produced with an interest in re-contextualizing sources rather than de-contextualizing them.

There’s an important difference between making an allusion and doing a knock-off. Good historicism is… an investigation of the strategies, procedures, methods, routes, theories, tactics, schemes, and modes through which people have worked creatively…. We need to learn from and interrogate our past, not endlessly repeat its recipes.

8. Photographs are neither true nor false.
Early in the history of photography models were used to enact situations for a camera to record. Later, we learned how to retouch images, first by hand, later by rearranging the tiny dots that make up the images. Meanwhile, there has always been the cheapest and easiest way of making photographs lie—simply changing the caption to change the meaning of the image. Some people accept this but still argue the photograph remains in some way uniquely “honest.” They say that for it to exist, some kind of real-life situation also had to exist. They claim that the fact that a camera can be set up by remote control to record whatever passes in front of it somehow confers objectivity. They cling to the idea that the photograph is an inherently “real” or honest image and as such is always on a different plan from an obviously subjective form of visual communication, such as painting. However, I believe that photography is just like painting and that it can lie just as effectively. I do not accept that there is necessarily a “true” moment that the camera captures, because that moment can be manipulated as much as anything else.

9. Children give you new ways of looking at things.

[image]
We chose to increase the complexity of our lives by having children. The greatest benefit of having those children has been to look at the world through their eyes and to understand their level of curiosity and to learn things the way they learn things.

[image]

10. Marry well.

At first, I only new Tibor Kalman as Maira Kalman’s late husband. Isaac Mizrahi might argue that’s as it should be:
Tibor’s most brilliant contribution was to marry Maira. If he hadn’t, I would have. I don’t mean to sound corny and romantic, just that his relationship with her is a work of art. She has an incredible in-born ability to be a touchstone, and pick out what’s good in a room, whether it’s a screenplay, a piece of music, or a piece of furniture. I never think of them seperately, or, his sense of humor or her sense of humor, I think about them together, how much he owes to her and she owes to him.

Maira Kalman painted the closing pages of the book:

[image]
[image]

It’s out-of-print and can be a little hard to get your hands on, but anyone interested in design should give Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist a read."
tiborkalman  mairakalman  design  graphicdesign  howwelearn  learning  lifelonglearning  reading  photography  complexity  parenting  children  howwework  style  aesthetics  thinking  howwethink  vidualliteracy  literacy  visuals  steallikeanartist  influences  canon  reality  truth  isaacmizrahi  marriage  partnerships  context  invention  creativity  classideas  favoritebooks  rickpoynor  davidbyrne  talkingheads  failure  careers  work  education  unschooling  deschooling  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Preparing Our Kids for Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet — Making DIY — Medium
"Childhood passions that seem like fads, sometimes even totally unproductive, could be mediums for experiencing the virtuous cycle of curiosity: discovering, trying, failing and growing."

"When I was 11 I loved designing web pages and playing Sim City. Adults in my life didn’t recognize these skills as valuable, so neither did I. Actually, I began to feel guilty for using my computer so much. In high school I stopped making web pages altogether to focus on sports. It wasn’t until college, when strapped to pay my tuition, that I picked it back up and started making sites for small businesses. I graduated and teamed up with a few others I knew with these skills and moved to New York City to work on the Internet for a living. Three years later, in 2007, we sold our company, Vimeo, to a larger, publicly traded one. That passion I first developed quietly by myself, that went unnoticed by my parents and teachers, proved to be extraordinarily valuable to the economy just ten years later and the focus of many ambitious people today.

It’s difficult to predict which skills will be valuable in the future, and even more challenging to see the connection between our children’s interests and these skills. Nothing illustrates this better than Minecraft, a popular game that might be best described as virtual LEGOs. Calling it a game belies the transformation it has sparked: An entire generation is learning how to create 3D models using a computer. It makes me wonder what sort of jobs, entertainment or art will be possible now. Cathy Davidson, a scholar of learning technology, concluded that 65% of children entering grade school this year will end up working in careers that haven’t even been invented yet. I bet today’s kids will eventually explore outcomes and create businesses only made possible by the influence of Minecraft in their lives.

At least one business will have been inspired by the so-called game. In 2011, I co-founded DIY, the online community I wish I had when I was young. Our members use discover new skills and try challenges in order to learn them. They keep a portfolio and share pictures and videos of their progress, and by doing so they attract other makers who share their interests and offer feedback. The skills we promote range from classics likes Chemistry and Writing, to creativity like Illustration and Special Effects, to adventure like Cartography and Sailing, to emerging technology like Web Development and Rapid Prototyping. We create most of our skill curriculum in collaboration with our members. Recently the community decided to make Roleplayer an official skill; It’s a fascinating passion that involves collaboratively authoring stories in real time.

My objective with this wide-ranging set of skills, and involving the community so closely in their development, is to give kids the chance to practice whatever makes them passionate now and feel encouraged — even if they’re obsessed with making stuff exclusively with duct tape. It’s crucial that kids learn how to be passionate for the rest of their lives. To start, they must first learn what it feels like to be simultaneously challenged and confident. It’s my instinct that we should not try to introduce these experiences through skills we value as much as look for opportunities to develop them, as well as creativity and literacy, in the skills they already love.

Whether it’s Minecraft or duct tape wallets, the childhood passions that seem like fads, sometimes even totally unproductive, can alternatively be seen as mediums for experiencing the virtuous cycle of curiosity: discovering, trying, failing and growing. At DIY, we’ve created a way for kids to explore hundreds of skills and to understand the ways in which they can be creative through them. Often, the skills are unconventional, and almost always the results are surprising. I don’t think it’s important that kids use the skills they learn on DIY for the rest of their lives. What’s important is that kids develop the muscle to be fearless learners so that they are never stuck with the skills they have. Only this will prepare them for a world where change is accelerating and depending on a single skill to provide a lifetime career is becoming impossible."

[Also posted here: https://www.edsurge.com/n/2015-05-26-how-minecraft-and-duct-tape-wallets-prepare-our-kids-for-jobs-that-don-t-exist-yet ]
zachklein  diy.org  education  2015  unschooling  deschooling  childhood  learning  howwelearn  minecraft  passion  change  creativity  invention  cathydavidson  simcity  webdesign  discovery  failure  informallearning  game  gaming  videogames  making  webdev 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The male suicides: how social perfectionism kills | Mosaic
"Impulsivity, brooding rumination, low serotonin, poor social problem-solving abilities – there are many vulnerabilities that can heighten the risk of suicide. Professor Rory O’Connor, President of the International Academy of Suicide Research, has been studying the psychological processes behind self-inflicted death for over 20 years.

“Did you see the news?” he asks when I meet him. The morning’s papers are carrying the latest numbers: 6,233 suicides were registered in the UK in 2013. While the female suicide rate has remained roughly constant since 2007, that for men is at its highest since 2001. Nearly eight in ten of all suicides are male – a figure that has been rising for over three decades. In 2013, if you were a man between the ages of 20 and 49 who’d died, the most likely cause was not assault nor car crash nor drug abuse nor heart attack, but a decision that you didn’t wish to live any more.

In every country in the world, male suicides outnumber female. The mystery is why? What is it about being male that leads to this? Why, at least in the UK, are middle-aged men most at risk? And why is it getting worse?

Those who study suicide, or work for mental health charities, are keen to press upon the curious that there’s rarely, if ever, a single factor that leads to any self-inflicted death and that mental illness, most commonly depression, usually precedes such an event. “But the really important point is, most people with depression don’t kill themselves,” O’Connor tells me. “Less than 5 per cent do. So mental illness is not an explanation. For me, the decision to kill yourself is a psychological phenomenon. What we’re trying to do in the lab here is understand the psychology of the suicidal mind.”

We’re sitting in O’Connor’s office on the grounds of Gartnavel Royal Hospital. Through the window, the University of Glasgow’s spire rises into a dreich sky. Paintings by his two children are stuck to a corkboard – an orange monster, a red telephone. Hiding in the cupboard, a grim book collection: Comprehending Suicide; By Their Own Young Hands; Kay Redfield Jamison’s classic memoir of madness, An Unquiet Mind.

O’Connor’s Suicidal Behaviour Research Lab works with survivors in hospitals, assessing them within 24 hours of an attempt and tracking how they fare afterwards. It also carries out experimental studies, testing hypotheses on matters such as pain tolerance in suicidal people and changes in cognition following brief induced periods of stress.

After years of study, O’Connor found something about suicidal minds that surprised him. It’s called social perfectionism. And it might help us understand why men kill themselves in such numbers."



"If you’re a social perfectionist, you tend to identify closely with the roles and responsibilities you believe you have in life. “It’s not about what you expect of yourself,” O’Connor explains. “It’s what you think other people expect. You’ve let others down because you’ve failed to be a good father or a good brother – whatever it is.”

Because it’s a judgement on other people’s imagined judgements of you, it can be especially toxic. “It’s nothing to do with what those people actually think of you,” he says. “It’s what you think they expect. The reason it’s so problematic is that it’s outside your control.”

O’Connor first came across social perfectionism in studies of American university students. “I thought it wouldn’t be applicable in a UK context and that it certainly wouldn’t be applicable to people from really difficult backgrounds. Well, it is. It’s a remarkably robust effect. We’ve looked at it in the context of the most disadvantaged areas of Glasgow.” It began in 2003 with an initial study that looked at 22 people who had recently attempted suicide, as well as a control group, and assessed them using a 15-question quiz that measures agreement with statements such as “Success means that I must work even harder to please others” and “People expect nothing less than perfection from me”. “We’ve found this relationship between social perfectionism and suicidality in all populations where we’ve done the work,” says O’Connor, “including among the disadvantaged and the affluent.”

What’s not yet known is why. “Our hypothesis is that people who are social perfectionist are much more sensitive to signals of failure in the environment,” he says.

I ask if this is about perceived failure to fulfil roles, and what roles men feel they should fill? Father? Bread-winner?

“Now there’s this change in society,” O’Connor replies, “you have to be Mr Metrosexual too. There are all these greater expectations – more opportunities for men to feel like failures.”"



"If you’re a social perfectionist, you’ll have unusually high expectations of yourself. Your self-esteem will be dangerously dependent on maintaining a sometimes impossible level of success. When you’re defeated, you’ll collapse.

But social perfectionists aren’t unique in identifying closely with their goals, roles and aspirations. Psychology professor Brian Little, of the University of Cambridge, is well known for his research on ‘personal projects’. He believes we can identify so closely with them that they become part of our very sense of self. “You are your personal projects,” he used to tell his Harvard class.

According to Little, there are different kinds of projects, which carry different loads of value. Walking the dog is a personal project but so is becoming a headteacher in a lovely village, and so is being a successful father and husband. Surprisingly, how meaningful our projects are is thought to contribute to our wellbeing only slightly. What makes the crucial difference to how happy they make us is whether or not they’re accomplishable.

But what happens when our personal projects begin to fall apart? How do we cope? And is there a gender difference that might give a clue to why so many men kill themselves?

There is. It’s generally assumed that men, to their detriment, often find it hard to talk about their emotional difficulties. This has also been found to be true when it comes to discussing their faltering projects. “Women benefit from making visible their projects and their challenges in pursuing them,” Little writes, in his book Me, Myself and Us, “whereas men benefit from keeping that to themselves.”

In a study of people in senior management positions, Little uncovered another salient gender difference. “A clear differentiator is that, for men, the most important thing is to not confront impedance,” he tells me. “They’re primarily motivated to charge ahead. It’s a clear-the-decks kind of mentality. The women are more concerned about an organisational climate in which they’re connected with others. You can extrapolate that, I think, to areas of life beyond the office. I don’t want to perpetrate stereotypes but the data here seem pretty clear.”

Additional support for this comes from a highly influential 2000 paper, by a team lead by Professor Shelley Taylor at UCLA, that looked at bio-behavioural responses to stress. They found that while men tend to exhibit the well-known ‘fight or flight’ response, women are more likely to use ‘tend and befriend’. “Although women might think about suicide very seriously,” says Little, “because of their social connectedness, they may also think, ‘My God, what will my kids do? What will my mum think?’ So there’s forbearance from completing the act.” As for the men, death could be seen as the ultimate form of ‘flight’.

But that deadly form of flight takes determination. Dr Thomas Joiner, of Florida State University, has studied differences between people who think about suicide and those who actually act on their desire for death. “You can’t act unless you also develop a fearlessness of death,” he says. “And that’s the part I think is relevant to gender differences.” Joiner describes his large collection of security footage and police videos showing people who “desperately want to kill themselves and then, at the last minute, they flinch because it’s so scary. The flinch ends up saving their lives.” So is the idea men are less likely to flinch? “Exactly.”

But it’s also true, in most Western countries, that more women attempt suicide than men. One reason a higher number of males actually die is their choice of method. While men tend towards hanging or guns, women more often reach for pills. Martin Seager, a clinical psychologist and consultant to the Samaritans, believes this fact demonstrates that men have greater suicidal intent. “The method reflects the psychology,” he says. Daniel Freeman, of the University of Oxford’s department of psychiatry, has pointed to a study of 4,415 patients who had been at hospital following an episode of self-harm; it found significantly higher suicidal intent in the men than the women. But the hypothesis remains largely uninvestigated. “I don’t think it’s been shown definitively at all,” he says. “But then it would be incredibly difficult to show.”

For O’Connor, too, the intent question remains open. “I’m unaware of any decent studies that have looked at it because it’s really difficult to do,” he says. But Seager is convinced. “For men, I think of suicide as an execution,” he says. “A man is removing himself from the world. It’s a sense of enormous failure and shame. The masculine gender feels they’re responsible for providing and protecting others and for being successful. When a woman becomes unemployed, it’s painful, but she doesn’t feel like she’s lost her sense of identity or femininity. When a man loses his work he feels he’s not a man.”

It’s a notion echoed by the celebrated psychologist Professor Roy Baumeister, whose theory of suicide as ‘escape from the self’ has been an important influence on O’Connor. “A… [more]
suicide  men  via:anne  2015  perfectionism  roryo'connor  middleage  behavior  impulsivity  rumination  serotonin  socialperfectionism  responsibility  responsibilities  society  failure  judgement  urbanization  success  self-esteem  socialesteem  pressure  stress  gender  manhood  roybaumeister  martinseager  thomasjoiner  shelleytaylor  brianlittle  self-concept  korea  china  us  uk  kayredfieldjamison 
may 2015 by robertogreco
No Dickheads! A Guide To Building Happy, Healthy, And Creative Teams. — Medium
"There is a perpetuated myth within the design community, that a single visionary is required to build great products. Rubbish. Great teams build great products; moreover, in my experience, the greatest teams prioritize and nurture a healthy and positive internal culture because they understand it is critical to the design process itself.

In 20 years of leading design studios and teams, ranging from a small boutique consultancy to several in global corporations, I have become obsessed with the differences between a successful studio and a merely effective one. Inevitably what makes or breaks a studio depends on its ability to evolve skills and competencies while remaining fastidiously creative. However, simple adaptability is not enough. In an ever-changing hyper-competitive landscape, what I’ve found to be even more important is the value of laughter, empathy, a collective responsibility and a distinct lack of ego.

My measure of success — beyond incredible products — has been creating studios and a studio culture where the creative capacity of the collective team is palpable; where designers love to come to work, and visitors remark how positive and creative it feels.

The following, is an attempt to create a guide for the (often-overlooked, humanist leaning) behaviors that make a studio happy, functional and sustainable. I believe there is a straight line between how the studio feels, how we as designers treat each other, and the innovative impact of the team. The value of articulating the characteristics of an effective studio will hopefully make each team member a more conscientious contributor. Of course, these characteristics will ebb and flow to varying degrees and should not be considered concrete rules. Rather, these behaviors serve as a guideline for creating a consistently positive, and as a result, a consistently more creative place to work.

SAY GOOD MORNING AND GOOD NIGHT … While it may appear trivial, the act of observing (and even encouraging) these subtle cultural rituals increases a studio’s functionality by making it more personal.

BE OPTIMISTIC, EMBRACE FAILURE, AND LAUGH MORE… Design, through a humanist’s lens, sees optimism as a choice and creativity as an optimistic act. Therefore, constant optimism is a key ingredient to iteration. It fuels the persistence and tenacity necessary for sustaining the creative process, especially during challenging times. For example, the difficulty of innovating within a large corporation reflects a work environment where people often say, “No” or “I don’t understand” because change in corporate culture is often uncomfortable and slow. As a result, negativity must be confronted and countered — not just in a brainstorming session or during a proposal — but on a daily basis. …

EAT AND COOK TOGETHER … Team events within a big corporation are set up to facilitate these informal conversations but often do the opposite: you go to a nice restaurant, everyone orders expensive food and lots of wine, they drink until they get drunk, and you go back to your hotel room. One year, our budget ran low so we thought, “What if we did the opposite? Go to the wilderness, buy food, and cook for each other.”

What happened next was amazing! Somebody invariably took responsibility for cooking, another for preparing food, and someone else for laying the table. Without much discussion the whole team was buzzing around the kitchen, like a hive working towards a common goal. There’s something inherently vulnerable about cooking together and for each other. It’s humbling to serve and to be served.

GOOD STUDIOS BUILD GOOD WALLS It is important when you walk into any studio that you feel as much as see what is being built — the studio should crackle with creative energy. Specifically, I believe you can determine the health of any design studio simply by looking at its walls. …

READ FICTION … As designers we are often asking people to take a leap of faith and to picture a world that doesn’t quite exist. We are, at our essence, doing nothing more than creating fiction and telling good stories — an essential part of human communication. Wouldn’t it then make sense to, at the very least, invite fiction into the studio or at the most encourage it to flourish?

Storytelling is a craft. It’s emotional and it’s part of the design process. We should therefore read and study fiction.

DESIGN THE DESIGNING There’s one very simple rule when innovating: design the process to fit the project. …

EMBRACE THE FRINGE I believe creative people want “to make”. In corporations or complex projects, the products we make often take an inordinate amount of time. As a result, I assume that most designers (myself included) work on fringe projects — creative projects made outside of the studio. …

MIND YOUR LANGUAGE Language defines the territory of projects. It is therefore important to constantly check that people share the same understanding of a word, phrase or name. Ideally at the outset of the project you should define the language, almost to the point of giving each person on the team a list: when we say this, this is what ‘this’ means. This pedantic approach is particularly important in multicultural studios where a diverse language encourages multiple, sometimes volatile, interpretations …

MEET OUT IN THE OPEN There are very few highly confidential things in an effective studio, so why go in a room and close the door? Instead, move most conversations out in the open. They will be better as a result. …

EVERYONE LEADS AT SOME POINT … At any point everyone should feel the responsibility, or the opportunity, to lead. It is so important to be collectively responsible. No one person can lead these dynamic projects effectively in a studio because they are never two-dimensional. …

INVERT EVERYTHING Designing products for people requires that you get inside their minds, feelings, motivations and values. To do so, a smart designer must invert their own worldview and see the world through someone else’s eyes in order to empathize with them. This ability to empathize with others, a very humanist behavior, is perhaps the most important capability and characteristic of both a studio and a designer. …

HIRE A BOOKIE Competition motivates a team, that’s a given. But betting on shit seems to be galvanizing and brings a team together. …

BRING THE OUTSIDE, INSIDE … We spend most of our time with our colleagues at work rather than with our partners or families. So whether we like it or not, we are all going through this life together. We should embrace that fact.

Yes, I understand people value privacy and you must respect that boundary. But the reality of the modern studio is that boundaries often blur. In fact, I think it is good that they are blurred. Children, pets, and hobbies — shared human connections and interests — promote this intimacy. …

….. ALLOWED! … I believe it is a perpetuated myth that great products are built by a single visionary. Often the people who think they are visionaries are just egomaniacal Dickheads. I honestly believe that great teams build great products and that careers are made by people that prioritize great products first, not their own ambition. …

FIND A GOOD MIRROR The studio mirror is a distinct role and a job title. In our studio Luke’s role was to archive our work and reflect it back to the team in a unique way, much like the documentation of these principles. Pursued with persistence and the eye of a journalist, the Studio Mirror should capture not only WHAT is being made but HOW and by WHOM. This isn’t simply dumping files on a server but rather curating the content in a way that is compelling and consumable for the team. For example, our studio created a quarterly magazine. You can read ADQ2.1: The Launch Issue here."
rhysnewman  lukejohnson  teams  creativity  studios  openstudioproject  lcproject  2015  collaboration  tcsnmy  leadership  open  openness  transparency  process  fun  play  intimacy  sharing  language  storytelling  fiction  walls  design  place  work  food  optimism  failure  laughter  howwework  conviviality  cohabitation  facetime  relationships  publishing  reflection  documentation  jpl  omata  culture  fringe  display  planning  outdoors  criticism  connection  conflict 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Eric's Archived Thoughts: Inadvertent Algorithmic Cruelty
"I didn’t go looking for grief this afternoon, but it found me anyway, and I have designers and programmers to thank for it. In this case, the designers and programmers are somewhere at Facebook.

I know they’re probably pretty proud of the work that went into the “Year in Review” app they designed and developed. Knowing what kind of year I’d had, though, I avoided making one of my own. I kept seeing them pop up in my feed, created by others, almost all of them with the default caption, “It’s been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it.” Which was, by itself, jarring enough, the idea that any year I was part of could be described as great.

Still, they were easy enough to pass over, and I did. Until today, when I got this in my feed, exhorting me to create one of my own. “Eric, here’s what your year looked like!”

[image]

A picture of my daughter, who is dead. Who died this year.

Yes, my year looked like that. True enough. My year looked like the now-absent face of my little girl. It was still unkind to remind me so forcefully.

And I know, of course, that this is not a deliberate assault. This inadvertent algorithmic cruelty is the result of code that works in the overwhelming majority of cases, reminding people of the awesomeness of their years, showing them selfies at a party or whale spouts from sailing boats or the marina outside their vacation house.

But for those of us who lived through the death of loved ones, or spent extended time in the hospital, or were hit by divorce or losing a job or any one of a hundred crises, we might not want another look at this past year.

To show me Rebecca’s face and say “Here’s what your year looked like!” is jarring. It feels wrong, and coming from an actual person, it would be wrong. Coming from code, it’s just unfortunate. These are hard, hard problems. It isn’t easy to programmatically figure out if a picture has a ton of Likes because it’s hilarious, astounding, or heartbreaking.

Algorithms are essentially thoughtless. They model certain decision flows, but once you run them, no more thought occurs. To call a person “thoughtless” is usually considered a slight, or an outright insult; and yet, we unleash so many literally thoughtless processes on our users, on our lives, on ourselves.

Where the human aspect fell short, at least with Facebook, was in not providing a way to opt out. The Year in Review ad keeps coming up in my feed, rotating through different fun-and-fabulous backgrounds, as if celebrating a death, and there is no obvious way to stop it. Yes, there’s the drop-down that lets me hide it, but knowing that is practically insider knowledge. How many people don’t know about it? Way more than you think.

This is another aspect of designing for crisis, or maybe a better term is empathetic design. In creating this Year in Review app, there wasn’t enough thought given to cases like mine, or friends of Chloe, or anyone who had a bad year. The design is for the ideal user, the happy, upbeat, good-life user. It doesn’t take other use cases into account.

Just to pick two obvious fixes: first, don’t pre-fill a picture until you’re sure the user actually wants to see pictures from their year. And second, instead of pushing the app at people, maybe ask them if they’d like to try a preview—just a simple yes or no. If they say no, ask if they want to be asked again later, or never again. And then, of course, honor their choices.

It may not be possible to reliably pre-detect whether a person wants to see their year in review, but it’s not at all hard to ask politely—empathetically—if it’s something they want. That’s an easily-solvable problem. Had the app been designed with worst-case scenarios in mind, it probably would have been.

If I could fix one thing about our industry, just one thing, it would be that: to increase awareness of and consideration for the failure modes, the edge cases, the worst-case scenarios. And so I will try."

[follow-up post: http://meyerweb.com/eric/thoughts/2014/12/27/well-that-escalated-quickly/ ]

[previously: https://vimeo.com/114393677 ]
facebook  algorithms  design  cruelty  2014  failure  ericmeyer 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Hullabaloo: Rewarding failure by design?
"For the investor class, it is a tragedy of the commons when they don't get a cut from it. That's why, for example, they are so hot to see a middle man in every middle school."



"David Dayen wrote yesterday at Salon about Sen. Elizabeth Warren's opposition to investment banker, Antonio Weiss, President Obama's nominee for Treasury Department undersecretary for domestic finance. One of Weiss' biggest clients is Brazilian private equity fund 3G. Dayen describes deals that would make Paul Singer blush. (Okay, maybe not.) They seem almost designed to reward failure:
The deals also exhibit the modern hallmark of corporate America: financial engineering. Decisions are made to satisfy shareholder clamoring for short-term profits rather than any long-term vision about building a quality business. The manager class extracts value for their own ends, and the rotted husk of the company either sinks or swims. It doesn’t matter to those who have already completed the looting.
"
capitalism  investment  investors  middlemen  privatization  2014  failure  tomsullivan  us  policy  politics  education  schools  forprofit  infrastructure  commons  bankruptcy  finance  banking  bankers  barrysummers  looting  corporatism  financialengineering  management  roads  tollroads 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Junot Diaz - Art, Race and Capitalism - YouTube
"Despite what we think, we're more isolated and atomized than ever before. […] The fact is that most poor people are more segregated and isolated than they've ever been. […] There's something really bewildering about the fact that we feel so rhizomatically interconnected to people, but we've never been more isolated. Classes no longer come into contact with each other in any way that's meaningful. I look at my mom and people are like “oh, she's that old generation.” My mom had more interclass contact than the average person has today. Because these great barriers — what we would call the networked society in which we live — hadn't been put into place yet. Think about how much public space my mother inhabited where she was going to encounter people from different cultures and different classes every day. There's almost no public space left at all. And any public space that we have is so patrolled and under so much surveillance and has been schematized and culturalized in certain ways that we're not really coming into contact with anyone who isn't like us. […] You basically encounter people in your network. So that if you are of a certain class, that's who you're encountering in the village. If you come from a certain educational background or from a certain privilege, that's who you're encountering in Williamsburg, these quote-unquote diverse spaces."

[via: http://botpoet.tumblr.com/post/103750710570/you-gotta-remember-and-im-sure-you-do-the

quoting these lines: “You gotta remember, and I’m sure you do, the forces that are arrayed against anyone trying to alter this sort of hammerlock on the human imagination. There are trillions of dollars out there demotivating people from imagining that a better tomorrow is possible. Utopian impulses and utopian horizons have been completely disfigured and everybody now is fluent in dystopia, you know. My young people’s vocabulary… their fluency is in dystopic futures. When young people think about the future, they don’t think about a better tomorrow, they think about horrors and end of the worlds and things or worse. Well, do you really think the lack of utopic imagination doesn’t play into demotivating people from imagining a transformation in the society?”]
junotdíaz  capitalism  race  class  segregation  dystopia  utopia  hope  faith  humans  2013  humanism  writing  literature  immigration  life  living  classism  activism  ows  occupywallstreet  punk  hiphop  compassion  identity  failure  guilt  imperfection  politics  self  work  labor  courage  howtobehuman  forgiveness  future  oppression  privilege  society  change  changemaking  futures  schools  education  business  funding  policy  resistance  subversion  radicalpedagogy  burnout  teaching  howweteach  systemschange  survival  self-care  masculinity  therapy  cultureofcare  neolithic  optimism  inventingthefuture  humanconstructs  civilization  evolution  networkedsociety  transcontextualism  paradigmshifts  transcontextualization 
november 2014 by robertogreco
We Don’t Need New Models, We Need a New Mindset | Art Museum Teaching
"The old models we’re using aren’t matching up with the deeply complex challenges we’re faced with right now.

Income/Revenue
Old model: Ticket sales + government + foundation + corporate + wealthy patrons + small donors + endowment income = Balanced budget
New challenge: To generate new sources of sustained revenue and capital

Audience development
Old model: Sell subscriptions and market shows
New challenge: To engage new and more diverse groups of people in meaningful arts experiences

Governance
Old model: Give/get boards focused on fiduciary oversight and maintaining stability
New challenge: To cultivate boards that are partners in change

Evaluation
Old model: More ticket sales, more revenue, bigger budget, nice building = Success!
New challenge: To evaluate the success of our organizations based on the value they create in people’s lives

Leadership development
Old model: Attend leadership conferences and seminars, build your network, wait for your boss to finally leave/retire/die. (Alternatively, change jobs every year.)
New challenge: To develop a generation of new leaders equipped with the tools they’ll need to tackle the wickedly complex challenges the future has in store

Artistic development
Old model: MFA programs, residencies, commissions, occasionally a grant, get a day job
New challenge: To support artists in making a living and a life

Strategic planning
Old model: Decide where you want to be in 5 years. Outline the steps to get there in a long document no one will read.
New challenge: To plan for the future in a way that allows us to stay close to our core values and make incremental improvement while also making room for experimentation, failure, and rapidly changing conditions.

Funding allocation
Old model: The money goes to whoever the funder says it to goes to. Usually bigger organizations run by white people in major cities.
Our challenge today: To distribute funds in a way that is equitable, geographically diverse, and creates the most value

Note: I decided I was too ignorant in the areas of creative placemaking, advocacy and arts education to weigh in. I’ll leave that to my colleagues.

Here’s my main argument

Over 60 years in the field, we’ve developed standard practices, or models, in all these different areas. They worked for a while. Now they don’t. This has given us a false notion that we need new models in each area. This is wrong.

Models, best practices, recipes, and blueprints work only when your challenge has a knowable, replicable solution. Sure, there are some challenges that fit this mold. I’d argue that having a great website, designing an effective ad, doing a successful crowd funding campaign, and producing a complicated show are all challenges where best practices, models, and experts are really valuable. You might not know the solution, but someone does, and you can find it out.

But what happens when there actually isn’t a knowable solution to your challenge? When there is no expert, no model to call upon? When the only way forward is through experimentation and failure?

I’d argue that every one of the big challenges I name above falls into the realm of complexity, where the search for replicable models is fruitless. There isn’t going to be a new model for generating revenue that the field can galvanize around that will work for every or even most arts organizations. Nor is there going to be a long lasting model for community engagement that can be replicated by organizations across the country. For the deeply complex challenges we face today, there simply isn’t a knowable solution or model that can reliably help us tackle them. These kinds of challenges require a new way of working.

We don’t need new models, we need a new theory of practice

Instead of new models, I’d argue that we need a new theory of practice, one that champions a different set of priorities in how we do our work.

Our old models imply a vision of success that’s rooted in growth, stability, and excellence. They drive us towards efficiency and competition by perpetuating an atmosphere of scarcity. They are not as creative as we are.

What if a new vision of success in our field could prioritize resilience, flexibility, and intimacy? What if we could be enablers, not producers? What if we could harness the abundance of creative potential around us?

This new vision of success doesn’t demand consensus around a new set of standards, best practices, or “examples for imitation,” it demands a new way of thinking and acting that empowers us to shift and change our routines all the time, as needed.

A proposed theory of practice for the future

Here is my call to the field: a proposed set of practices that align with the world as it is today, not as it was before:

• Let’s get clear about the challenges we’re facing and if they’re complex, treat them as such
• Let’s ask hard questions, listen, do research, and stay vulnerable to what we learn.
• Let’s question our assumptions and let go of what’s no longer working.
• Let’s embrace ambiguity and conflict as a crucial part of change
• Let’s bring together people with different experiences and lean into difference
• Let’s experiment our way forward and fail often
• Let’s recognize the system in which we’re operating.
• Let’s rigorously reflect and continuously learn

In conclusion

When I set out to write this post, I wanted to question the premise that a conversation about “broken models” could even be useful in a time when expertise, excellence and replicability are the values of the past. I wanted to propose that we move past the very notion of models – let’s jettison the word itself from our vocabulary.

In the end, I guess you could call what I’ve proposed a kind of “new model.” But I’d rather think of it as a new mindset."
change  museums  museumeducation  2014  complexity  organizations  models  paradigmshifts  theory  karinamangu-ward  practice  bestpractices  experience  difference  funding  strategicplanning  corevalues  values  experimentation  failure  art  arteducation  leadership  evaluation  purpose  governance  audience  income  revenue 
september 2014 by robertogreco
from "Copan: Historicity Gone" by William Bronk
"At Copan [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cop%C3%A1n ], the line of history broke a short generation after the dating of the Hieroglyphic Stairway and Altar Q. No monument discovered has a date later than the year we number 800 A. D. They may have continued the reckoning of time after this without recording it in monuments. Perhaps they deserted the city; perhaps they stayed nearby. Life can continue without a reckoning of time. It has a kind of latitude, and time is one way to speak of that latitude. But when time comes to a stop as it seems to have come to a stop around Copan, the latitude remains. Perhaps the people went away. More probably they stayed and not too far from there. They stopped making monuments and may have no longer reckoned the calendar or thought consciously of the temples and sacred precincts, but remained as much or as little as they were before. The whole set of our minds is splinted so in time and history, our thinking structure fails to stand without them, and we are reluctant and uneasy, thinking of timeless man, of man without history. When we come back now to Copan, we feel at home there because, however remote or alien its terminology, we sense through all our ignorance that time and history have been here once. It seems entirely natural, too, the only human reaction, to feel regret and melancholy and bewildered protest that all these structures are empty and fallen, that something stopped here a thousand years ago. We assume of time and history that they are continuous and progressive and always were. The insistent questions that confront us here and characterize us are, "Where did these people come from?" and "Where did they go to?" We are brought to face the discontinuity of time and history, the continuance nevertheless of man, and the equivalence as answers to these questions of nowhere and here. We assume that we, too, came from somewhere, go someplace; but of ourselves also we would have to answer nowhere and here, and know that one answer said the same as the other. And, together, the answers say, insofar as we can be characterized, we are they and they are we, timeless and unhistorical. It is true that we have on either occasion invented times and histories for ourselves and, by an act of will, imposed them as long as strength lasted. We invented these the way we invented speech and buildings and costumes and the changes of modes in these; but, whatever we are, we are without them and apart from the changes in them. These things in themselves can be said to have times and histories; but they have little or nothing to do with us. We lean on inventions, though, to give us standing. We dress ourselves in inventions and house ourselves there. We give ourselves mythic identity, find something we ought to do and project rewards. We are never what our pretensions claim though at times we seem to be when our pretensions succeed for awhile, when will and self-denial and force mold us into some image we impose upon ourselves and on those around us, so that common consent gives us the role we claim for ourselves. To say we make something of ourselves is a form of praise for a person or a culture.

There is a large mask on a stairway in the East Court, a wide-eyed human face with symbols beside it that show it to mean the planet Venus. It is something to say of Venus, and what else should we say? But without the label, we should never have found it out. The Mayan culture and this whole site as exemplar are mask and metaphor. So are we.

One of the strongest impressions that we have is that under the mask and metaphor something is there though it is not perhaps man that is there. There is something which is. Nothing else matters. Copan is a liberation. It is all gone, emptied away. To see it is to see ourselves gone, to see us freed from the weight of our own world and its limitations. One aspect of the roles we assume is taken as something more than whimsical self-indulgence. It is the assumption of the responsibility for our own natures and environment. It is to say that both can be bettered and that we know the direction of betterment and can work that way, and that given time enough and good will and energy, we can evolve a world subject to our reason and wisdom which are sufficient for that, and that this then will be the world, the world that is. One supposes that whoever may have lived at Copan may have thought this way and that the development of this city may have been directed toward that end; one supposes that whoever may have lived here is we. That the idea is historically absurd is only in part our own absurdity: it is the absurdity of our historicity. Whatever we are, we are not historical. The world we make and ourselves, so far as we make ourselves, ourselves in the particularities of time and place, as cultural man -- all this can be destroyed and make no matter. We are happy at Copan to witness our own destruction and how we survive it. If something may be said to happen, what happens to us is not what happens. The evident destruction of Copan is witness to this as we, in our own lives, are witness to the same things. We are delivered from our continuous failures and frustrations. Perhaps more importantly, we are delivered from our self-limited successes, the awful banalities of the good life.

Joy and desire surround us without our doing, without our understanding.

The world or what we term the world, that medium in which we find ourselves, and indeed whatever of it we set apart and term selves, is not related to what we make of it and not dependent on what we make of the world or make of ourselves. It is not in the least altered, nor is our basic nature altered, by any cosmology or culture or individual character we may devise, or by the failure or destruction of any of these, as all of them fail. If they seem for a time to succeed, they blind us as though they were real; and it is by our most drastic failures that we may perhaps catch glimpses of something real, of something which is. It merits our whole mind. The good society and the good life are more than we could imagine. To devise them or to assert and defend their devising is not the point."

[via: http://www.pseudopodium.org/search.cgi?William+Bronk
via https://twitter.com/ekstasis/status/504525256787496961

See also: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1883689325/kokoninokounty
http://www.fauxpress.com/kimball/res/bronk.htm ]
williambronk  copan  maya  civilization  culture  end  collapse  destruction  mysteries  liberation  survival  endgame  failure  society  environment 
august 2014 by robertogreco
New Left Review - Wolfgang Streeck: How Will Capitalism End?
"In summary, capitalism, as a social order held together by a promise of boundless collective progress, is in critical condition. Growth is giving way to secular stagnation; what economic progress remains is less and less shared; and confidence in the capitalist money economy is leveraged on a rising mountain of promises that are ever less likely to be kept. Since the 1970s, the capitalist centre has undergone three successive crises, of inflation, public finances and private debt. Today, in an uneasy phase of transition, its survival depends on central banks providing it with unlimited synthetic liquidity. Step by step, capitalism’s shotgun marriage with democracy since 1945 is breaking up. On the three frontiers of commodification—labour, nature and money—regulatory institutions restraining the advance of capitalism for its own good have collapsed, and after the final victory of capitalism over its enemies no political agency capable of rebuilding them is in sight. The capitalist system is at present stricken with at least five worsening disorders for which no cure is at hand: declining growth, oligarchy, starvation of the public sphere, corruption and international anarchy. What is to be expected, on the basis of capitalism’s recent historical record, is a long and painful period of cumulative decay: of intensifying frictions, of fragility and uncertainty, and of a steady succession of ‘normal accidents’—not necessarily but quite possibly on the scale of the global breakdown of the 1930s."
capitalism  disaster  economics  failure  finance  decline  labor  government  democracy  plutocracy  oligarchy  inequality  comingrevolution  wolfgangstreeck  corruption  politics  latecapitalism  commodification  growth 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Three Cups of Fiction
[also here: http://carolblack.org/three-cups-of-fiction/ ]

[previously bookmarked here: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:8d8c57761fd4 ]

"The reality is that there are few better ways to condemn a child to a life of poverty than to confine her in a bad school, and a very high percentage of schools in low-income areas are and will remain bad schools.  Many NGO’s as well as international programs like “Education for All” are focused on the body count, on getting more and more children into classrooms.  What happens to those kids in those classrooms is harder to quantify or to track.  One thing that seems clear is that an awful lot of them learn very little. A Brookings Institution study of education in Pakistan by Rebecca Winthrop and Corinne Graff reports that “the education system produces many unemployable youths with few skills for economic survival…..In a recent survey of Pakistani youth, half the students say that they believe they lack the skills necessary to compete in today’s labor market.”  A World Bank Policy Research working paper indicates that, contrary to popular belief, money spent on education often increases inequality in a country. This is partly because those who already have substantial assets are better positioned to take advantage of educational resources than those who have their hands full trying to get food on the table.  But it’s also because from its inception school was designed as a sorting mechanism, a rigged competition where only one form of intelligence is valued, only one way of learning is permitted, and one child’s success means another child’s failure.  We forget that the structure of schools as we know them today was developed during a time when people believed in racist eugenics and Social Darwinism; modern schools were structurally designed to perpetuate a hierarchical class system, and – despite the best efforts of many dedicated teachers – that’s exactly what they still do, through the non-democratic, hierarchical ranking of children which is hard-wired into our entire system of grading, testing, and one-size-fits-all standards.  Until we change that – at home as well as abroad –  education will continue to perpetuate and justify poverty, not to ameliorate it.

Of course, even if everybody succeeded at school, you would just run into the fact that the current structure of the global economy does not provide enough good jobs for the growing number of graduates. As Winthrop and Graff say about Pakistan, “Many young people express fears about their ability to find employment, and they believe there are too few jobs available and that their prospects are getting worse, not better. One complains that ‘if you have an MA or an MBA you do not get a job. People are roaming around with degrees in their hands.’” Economists at the World Bank have a fanciful theory – a fairy tale much bigger than any of Greg Mortenson’s – that by schooling the world and expanding our “human resources” we will endlessly expand the growth economy to a point where we will all live in affluence. This is pure fantasy, of the “it’s-okay-to-buy-this-house-that-you-can’t-afford-because-the-housing-market-always-goes-up” variety. The planet doesn’t have the physical resources to sustain a middle-class lifestyle for a white-collar world, and in any case, who will mine the coal, collect the garbage, and work at Walmart when all seven billion of us have college degrees? China now has millions of unemployed college graduates, and it turns out they are as free to work in sweatshops as everybody else. As the New York Times reports, “While some recent graduates find success, many are worn down by a gauntlet of challenges and disappointments. Living conditions can be Dickensian, and grueling six-day work weeks leave little time for anything else but sleeping, eating and doing the laundry.” Zhang Ming, a political scientist and vocal critic of China’s education system says, “College essentially provided them with nothing…. For many young graduates, it’s all about survival. If there was ever an economic crisis, they could be a source of instability.”"



"The World Bank isn’t giving us any data on this. Girls’ education raises GDP, the development agencies all crow! Yes, but transitioning rural people from self-sufficient farming into sweatshops also raises GDP. Girls’ education lowers the infant mortality rate! Yes, but what if introducing school failure into rural areas also raises the sex trafficking rate? It’s commonly assumed that lack of education in developing areas is a risk factor for trafficking, but apparently the evidence suggests the opposite; according to the Strategic Information Response Network, vulnerability to human trafficking correlates with more schooling and the migration to urban areas in search of money that usually follows it. “Dream big,” Greg Mortenson exhorts girls from tiny villages in Pakistan. But what happens when those dreams don’t materialize, and a well-oiled international network that trades in girls not just for sex but for domestic servitude and sweatshop labor is ready to fill the breach? A multitude of pathologies, including suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, obesity, and diabetes go up when traditional cultures are disrupted and people transition rapidly from a land-based non-cash economy into the modern global economy, but news like this doesn’t get you on the bestseller list. The aid agencies cherry-pick statistics to prove that the impact of their programs is good, and the popular press repeats their conclusions without question the way they repeat much official propaganda."



"Most importantly, solutions begin with the truth. We can’t start working toward real answers until we stop lying to ourselves about what schools do to children – in the real world, not in our dreams. We need to acknowledge that no system that discards millions of normal, healthy kids as failures – many of them extremely smart, by the way – will ever provide a lasting or universal solution to anything. We need to innovate with learning here at home and abroad, to put our resources into developing the many promising models that already exist for sharing knowledge, skills and ideas without humiliating children or branding them as failures. We need to recognize the real value of the intellectual traditions of other cultures – including non-literate cultures – and look for ways to share useful information in both directions which does not completely disrupt or undermine the social structures, traditional livelihoods, and knowledge systems of those cultures.

And most of all, we need to stop falling for the popular fiction of schooling as a cure for everything and recognize that a romanticized idea of education is being used as a PR device and a smokescreen to obscure the real economic issues at play for powerful nations and corporations – who extract natural resources and cheap labor from weaker nations, and then turn around and tax their own citizens to provide “aid” and “education” to help “end poverty.” It’s an elaborate shell game, a twisted road to nowhere. It should be clear by now that the “rising tide” does not “float all boats” – that’s another fairy tale – and it’s time to start talking seriously about the underlying global economic structures which are creating poverty, so that people everywhere can educate their own children in the way they think best –– without charity.

Greg Mortenson’s second book, Stones Into Schools, revolves around his efforts to build a school for Kyrgyz nomads in Afghanistan. He built the school, and it stands empty, never having been used. Many development people, including Mortenson, would tut about this, and try to find ways to convince the Kyrgyz people of the importance of education for their children’s futures. But to me, this empty school is a small sign of hope. I mean, Greg. Hello. They’re nomads. Should they give up their horses and their high mountain valleys and their yurts and sit in a classroom for years so at the end they can look for work hauling bricks or driving trucks in Kandahar or Kabul? As it turns out, the New York Times reports that Kyrgyz parents want their children to learn to read and write; it’s just that they also want them to herd sheep. Mortenson’s representative in the region was frustrated by this: “The Kyrgyz only care about sheep and yaks…They say if we have sheep and yaks, we have success in life.” Hmm. Perhaps the Kyrgyz don’t understand the value of education. Or perhaps they still have a sense of what’s real and what’s not in this world. Sheep are definitely real; “big dreams” may not be. The Afghan government, to its credit, seemed to recognize this, and sent teachers to teach the children at home in their yurts. Apparently it’s working out quite well. I just hope the Kyrgyz remain unschooled enough to continue to be able to tell fact from fiction."
metrics  quantification  education  schooling  gregmortenson  children  schools  carolblack  unschooling  deschooling  nomadism  nomads  trafficking  failure  girls  worldbank  development  economics  competition  society  poverty  colonization  colonialism 
august 2014 by robertogreco
9 powerful lessons Punk Rock teaches you
"1. If you’re scared of failing you’ll never try.
One of the ethos punk teaches you is to just go for it, consequences be damned. Yes, that can be foolhardy, but success should be the byproduct of passion, not the goal.

2. Question everything, especially authority.
For many, punk rock is their intro into politics and corruption, mostly through reading Dead Kennedys lyrics and then having their minds blown by bands like Discharge and Crass. More importantly, punk shows us that not just politicians are to be questioned, but everyone in authority, including your parents.

3. You don’t have to be perfect.
The beauty of punk rock is that it is pure, raw emotion, an exposed nerve that doesn’t need to be slick and polished to get its point across. I mean, Sid Vicious was probably the world’s worst bassist but did that stop the Sex Pistols from making history? Hell. No. All punk asks is that you give it your all, and if you make a mistake then even better.

4. You’re an individual, so express it however you like.
It’s your hair, it’s your body. Do what you will with it. Just no Crocs, please.

5. Sometimes you’re better off doing it yourself.
The DIY philosophy implemented by punk rock was birthed from necessity, with bands and fans having to do everything on their own — including fanzines, record sleeves, etc. — knowing that no one was going to give them a hand. With that ideology, you can take on the world in all its aspects, since at the end of the day, the only person you can truly depend on is yourself.

6. The pit can be cathartic.
Especially as a youth, when your hormones are out of control and it seems like the world is against you, there is nothing better than getting out your frustration by violently hurtling yourself and other youths doing the exact same thing. In the end you feel like you just ran a marathon, which, depending on how many times you ran around the circle, you probably did.

7. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Some of the nicest, gentlest, sweetest people you will ever meet will be wearing a studded leather jacket with liberty spikes atop their heads. Just because someone isn’t a cookie-cutter citizen doesn’t make them a threat, it just makes them different.

8. There is more out there than just punk rock.
Punk is the perfect gateway to other genres of music, since its family tree is thick with branches — some that lead to metal, some that lead to ska and reggae, some to hip-hop, etc. Diving into punk really means diving into music in general.

9. You are not alone.
The greatest gift punk rock offers is the fact that there are other people like you out there. There is nothing worse than feeling isolated, feeling like no one understands, and then — BAM! — here’s this music and this community that instantly gets you. It’s the reason you fell in love with it, and the reason that no matter what, you’ll always be punk at heart."
punk  risk  risktaking  failure  solidarity  individuality  authority  anarchy  anarchism  questioning  diy 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Toward a Poetics of Skateboarding | The American Reader
"But for all of its private jargon, skateboarding’s poetry has never been linguistic. It is forever embodied and also, though this is difficult to speak of seriously, spiritual. How else to explain its appearance in Uganda without even a single retail outlet to support it? In fact, the only conveyable language of skateboarding, outside of participation and socialization in the activity itself, has always been spoken through film.

In broad terms, skate media splits time between documentation and advertisement, and their commercial evolution has skewed ever more crass and spectacular. Recent work from select video artists, however, attempts to confront the activity’s basic mystery and meaningful meaninglessness. Non-skateboarders have tended not to look very closely at these films. They mostly do not care. Skateboarders meanwhile care far too much to care exactly why. In any case, it’s here that an attempt toward a poetics of skateboarding must begin."



"Nor can we call such an effort unselfish. My own struggle with the mystery of skateboarding began five years ago, fifteen after I first stepped onto a board, when I began work on my second novel. The problem I encountered was that none of skateboarding’s confectionary can or should be dismissed. Speaking technically and contra Ian Mackaye, skateboarding today is a sport and a hobby both, along with countless other things: a therapy, an obsession, a conservative anti-drug. In its basic meaninglessness, skateboarding has become the tool that takes the shape of whoever’s hand it’s in."



"What in those first years had fit awkwardly into a de facto rubric of athletics—a sport to be timed and judged for athletic merit—became in the 1970s something more rhetorical. The ethos was the punk scavenging of revolution by way of repurposing. Whatever prefigurations of the object we had seen, never before had they been deployed creatively. To speak in China Mieville’s terms, what emerged was something counterposed to the comfort of the uncanny. The activity, new, unrecognized, and bounded only by imagination, was abcanny."



"While the basic spirit of skateboarding might have remained constant since the addition of polyurethane, the marketplace around it quite obviously has not. Now and once again the importance of skateboarding in our time is on the increase. Today, it is on Fox. It is on ESPN with real-time algorithms for evaluating tricks. Once more the marketplace would have us comprehend skateboarding as a sport.

We know on first glance that skateboarding, in its dominant form of street activity, stands apart from ball and net athletics. It seems uninterested, too, in velocity and stopwatch performances. But the first challenge to the rubric of sport begins even lower, at a semiotic level. You and I could, if we wanted, go and shoot lazy jumpshots on a netless schoolyard hoop, or go to the driving range and smack buckets of balls into the green void. We can take our gloves to the park and throw grounders and pop flies and apply tags to invisible runners. But for any of these to qualify as “basketball,” “golf,” or “baseball,” we would require the structure of competition and order of rules.

Systems such as these have no bearing on skateboarding, of which even the most negligible acts, no matter how brief or private, simply are skateboarding. Consider: between my home and the nearest skatepark is a well-paved boulevard with sewer caps embedded into the blacktop every half block or so. A source of joy for me is to push down this boulevard and pop tiny ollies over these sewer caps, sometimes barely scraping my tail, other times popping hard and pulling my knees up to my chest. These are not tricks proper, just ways to see and engage with the street’s reality. This is not, as athletes might call it, practice; I am not training for a future event. It is travel, yes, but the joy has little to do with the scenery or distance covered. In the purview of skate competition, this pushing down the boulevard, the single most fun I have in any given day, is not a scorable act of skateboarding. It is worth zero and it is worth everything.

In a world increasingly data-driven and surveilled, skateboarding lives beneath scoring and resists all datazation by establishing everything as a performance. It deflects the surveillance state by its primal devotion to documenting and sharing itself, monitoring every possible development, repetition, and failure. It pre-empts the onslaught of observation by embracing it. To pre-empt is to deflect, but also to admit defeat. Luckily, skateboarders are shameless—in this way, they’re the perfect actors to play the role of themselves.

Our potential heuristic now approaches what literary and cultural theorists today speak of, with a smirk, as the so-called authentic self. But a skater, whether standing on his stage, behind a camera, or at a keyboard, sees and thinks and performs precisely as what and who he is. What other memberships function in this or a similar manner? Parenthood. Romantic partnership. Citizenship. Does artistry?

***

To date, the most complete attempt to theorize skateboarding has been Iain Borden’s Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body (Berg, 2001). Borden, a Professor of Architecture and Urban Culture at The Bartlett, University College London, treats the activity of skateboarding as a Lefebvrian practice with a potential to become its own sort of architecture: not of construction, but by the “production of space, time, and social being.” He traces the history of skateboarding into the 1990s’ street skating movement, and speaks of the way this “oppositional subculture” rethinks architecture “as a set of discrete features and elements…recomposing it through new speeds, spaces and times.” The gears of capitalism create spaces in which behavior is prescribed and easily accounted for. Skateboarding’s opposition is thus a compositional process, partially of the individual body, which is recomposed against the “intense scopic determinations of modernist space,” and partially of a deeper critique of urban life: “production not as the production of things but of play, desires and actions.”"



"By contrast, today’s most compelling skateboarding films aim to capture not only the play of skateboarding, but enact what Borden calls the “positive dialectic that restlessly searches for new possibilities of representing, imagining and living our lives.” The “Panoramic Series” from Philip Evans, for example, relieves the actor from the full burden of attention. Here Evans follows Phil Zwijsen through his hometown of Antwerp:"



"The skater, Austyn Gillette, appears only after the environmental context, resulting in a portrait not of one or the other, but both. The subject is, as skateboarding’s always has been in practice, the interactions between city and individual body. Alongside recent work by Mike Manzoori, Evan Schiefelbine and select others, these films find energy beyond the progressive trickery of athletics, or the documentation of extant geographies. They combine the skateboarder’s practice—creative, productive—with a distinctly non-skateboarding meta-awareness of the activity’s potential for meaning. Their grounding within the geist of skateboarding is obvious: there is nothing a skater spots more quickly than the fraud, or tourist. These are films made by skateboarders who have lived within the activity’s world, and who choose to leverage the activity as a tool to understand itself. How long, they ask, must a toy endure before it becomes something else? What does it become, and does this mean it has ceased to be a toy?"



"Roberto Bolaño called surrealism “something convulsive and vague, that familiar amorphous thing.” If indeed there is ever to be a poetics of skateboarding, familiarity will have to play a role. Suvin argued that science fiction’s value lay in its ability to effect cognitive estrangement. Campbell’s film documents and creates ostranenie by the re-presentation of a familiar world as captured by, and portrayed through, the glance of the radical dreamer. In fact, what Cuatros does better than any film I’ve seen is remind us that skateboarding’s heuristic usefulness is ontological. Its topos is not that there is a world inside the world, but rather: there is a world the exact shape and texture of the world that you know laid seamlessly over top of it, and you, for some reason, fail to see how beautiful it can be.

Convulsive, vague, and conveyed by slidy looks. Campbell’s subject is our ineffable, binding thing, that lurking, trembling essence that he can only render by images and motions of the surreal. The artist whose art was born from skateboarding has made an object about skateboarding that conveys this birth and mode of being. Skateboarding infects the filmmaker infects the musicians infects the viewer. Viewer goes out skating. Skateboarding is self-perpetuating in this way. It is always itself and something else, it is infectious, it is comprehensive and sublatable to the core. This is how the infinite comes to be—once born, skateboarding can never now die.

But the dreamscape of Cuatros Sueños Pequeños is not an expression of this infinity. Rather, it is mimetic. What world is this?, asks the skateboarder. A familiar one we have seen so many times that it’s rendered unseeable. More importantly, what is to be done in it? The answer, like Campbell’s film, is incoherent, and thank goodness. The answer is anything at all."
skating  skateboarding  skateboards  quantification  measurement  urban  urbanism  surveillance  iainborden  meaning  film  video  robertobolaño  thomascampbell  cuatrosueñospequeños  performance  datazation  repetition  monitoring  failure  documentation  process  capitalism  henrilefebvre  space  place  play  culture  movement  infectiousness  inspiration  feral  ecosystems  socialbeing  time  architecture  landscape  kylebeachy  understanding  experience  robertzemeckis  pontusalv  punk  metrics  schematics  markets  poetics  filmmaking  darkosuvin  sciencefiction  ianmackaye  technology  history  circumstance  california  socal  sports  chinamieville  abcanny  zines  creativity  competition  commercialization  commercialism  commoditization  diy  systems  rules  revolution  resistance  practice  authenticity  artistry  philipevans  philzwijsen  colinkennedy  stasis  motion  austyngillette  mikemanzoori  evanschiefelbine  javiermendizabal  madarsapse  dondelillo  cities  meaninglessness  participation  participatory  democracy  tribes  belonging  identity  spirituality  social  socializati 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Mark Allen Artist Lecture on Vimeo
"The LA Times writes that Mark Allen is “Nikola Tesla by way of P.T. Barnum, with a dash of ‘The Anarchist Cookbook.’” Come hear a talk by Machine Project founder Mark Allen at the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry: Step right up!

Mark Allen is an artist, educator and curator based in Los Angeles. He is the founder and executive director of Machine Project, a non-profit performance and installation space investigating art, technology, natural history, science, music, literature, and food in an informal storefront in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Machine Project also operates as a loose confederacy of artists producing shows at locations ranging from beaches to museums to parking lots. Under his direction Machine has produced shows with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, the Contemporary Art Museum St Louis, and the Walker Museum in Minneapolis. He has produced over 500 events in Los Angeles at the Machine Project storefront space, and recently concluded a year long artist residency addressing topics of public engagement at the Hammer Museum.

Machine Project events emphasize intersections between fields and practices, particularly where the arts and sciences meet. In a 2006 LA Weekly article, writer Gendy Alimurung described Machine Project as, “Nikola Tesla by way of P.T. Barnum, with a dash of ‘The Anarchist Cookbook.’ “[2] Machine Project facilitates conversations between poets, technicians, artists, scientists, and obscure hobbyists and supports work that arises out of unusual combinations of interests. Past activities have included urban plant foraging and needlepoint therapy based on classic oil paintings. Machine Project prioritizes accessibility, explicitly courting amateur practitioners and curious locals. Workshops are regularly offered in sewing electronics, soldering, Arduino and Processing for artists.

In addition to weekly events held in the storefront gallery space in Echo Park, Machine Project operates as a gathering place for local and visiting artists to produce shows at various cultural institutions and events in Los Angeles. Frequent collaborators include Brody Condon, Liz Glynn, Kamau Patton, Corey Fogel, Jason Torchinsky, Chris Kallmyer, and Adam Overton. Machine Project has curated performances at the Glow Festival at Santa Monica Pier and at several art museums. Through their Artist in Residence program, Machine Project invites previous collaborators to develop larger projects that generally include a pedagogical element in addition to performances and exhibitions.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and the CMU School of Art."
markallen  collaboration  participatoryart  2013  poetry  art  lcproject  openstudioproject  capitalism  machineproject  events  learning  education  museums  howwelearn  arts  audience  process  howwework  experimentation  gender  curiosity  identity  titles  ambiguity  adaptability  makerspaces  hackerspaces  community  communitycenters  collectives  horizontality  organizations  flexibility  accessibility  humor  riskaversion  risk  institutions  failure  risktaking  curation 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The Principles at MIT Media Lab
"There are nine or so principles to work in a world like this:

Resilience instead of strength, which means you want to yield and allow failure and you bounce back instead of trying to resist failure.

You pull instead of push. That means you pull the resources from the network as you need them, as opposed to centrally stocking them and controlling them.

You want to take risk instead of focusing on safety.

You want to focus on the system instead of objects.

You want to have good compasses not maps.

You want to work on practice instead of theory. Because sometimes you don’t why it works, but what is important is that it is working, not that you have some theory around it.

It disobedience instead of compliance. You don’t get a Nobel Prize for doing what you are told. Too much of school is about obedience, we should really be celebrating disobedience.

It’s the crowd instead of experts.

It’s a focus on learning instead of education."
mitmedialab  mit  joiito  openstudioproject  lcproject  resilience  failure  practice  praxis  crowds  expertise  education  learning  howwelearn  disobedience  compliance  compasses  safety  risk  via:sebastienmarion  medialab 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Failure in the Archives | A conference celebrating the failures & frustrations of archival research.
"‘Failure in the Archives’ will provide a forum to examine everything that doesn’t belong in traditional conferences and publications, from dead-end research trips to unanswered questions.

How do we respond to the resistance, or worse, the silences and gaps, that we find in the archives? Scholarship tends toward success stories, but this conference seeks presentations from a range of disasters that arise when navigating the depths of the archive: damaged, destroyed, mislabelled, misrepresented materials, forgeries, exaggerated significance, and gaps in the historical record. Overall, the experience of failure in the archive is truly interdisciplinary, skewing the warp and woof of close reading and big data alike, not to mention posing everyday problems for archivists and librarians working on the frontlines to make their collections accessible

We welcome proposals on any aspect of early modern archival work, manuscript or print, covering the period 1500-1750. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

• Materials which challenge cataloguing standards
• Uncatalogued material – how to find it, how to access it, how to use it
• Inaccurate cataloguing – tensions between past and present.
• Broken or dispersed collections
• Damaged, destroyed, or compromised collections
• The ethics of maintaining archives
• The ethics of archival research – especially when working with sensitive material
• Absences and silences in the archive
• Difficulties conserving and preserving materials
• Conflicts of information between archival sources
• Digitisation and its discontents
• Agents in the archives: collectors, archivists, researchers"
archives  failure  loss  2014  conferences  cataloging  ethics  damage  destruction  maintenenance 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Systemantics: How Systems Work and Especially How They Fail
"The immediate motivation for undertaking this work was provided by the bizarre experience of a colleague of the author (let us call him Jones), a medical scientist specializing in the study of mental retardation. This field, until recently, was a very unfashionable one, and Jones considered himself fortunate to be employed as Research Associate at a small State Home for retarded children. In the humble, even despised, position he was too low on the Civil Service scale to merit the attention of administrators, and he was therefore left alone to tinker with ideas in his chosen field. He was happily pursuing his own research interests when, following presidential interest and national publicity, mental retardation suddenly became a fashionable subject. Jones received an urgent invitation to join an ambitious federally funded project for a systematic attack upon the "problem"[*] of mental retardation.

[Footnote. See The "Problem" Problem, Chapter XI.]

Thinking that this new job, with its ample funds and facilities, would advance both his research efforts and his career, Jones joined. Within three months his own research had come to a halt, and within a year he was completely unable to speak or think intelligently in the field of mental retardation. He had, in fact, become retarded relative to his previous condition.

Looking about him to discover, if possible, what had happened, Jones found that a dozen other skilled professionals who made up the staff of the project had experienced the same catastrophe. That ambitious project, designed to advance solutions to the "problem," had, in fact, taken most of the available workers in the field and neutralized them.

What had gone wrong? Jones, knowing of the author's interest in systems operation, turned to him for advice, and the two of us, jointly, tried to analyze the problem. We first reviewed Parkinson's classic essay on Institutional Paralysis,[*] hoping to find enlightenment there. Was the disease a fulminating case of Injelititis?[*] Obviously not. The professional staff of the Institute were competent, dedicated, and hardworking. Furthermore, the administrators were experienced, energetic, and extremely logical in their approach to problems. The Institute was failing in spite of the best efforts of every one of its members."
johngall  1975  systemsthinking  systems  problemsolving  bureaucracy  institutions  via:caseygollan  organizations  failure  systemicfailure  purpose  paralysis 
march 2014 by robertogreco
6, 4: Block quotes
"So! In some of NASA’s actions you can detect a flavor of institutional hypervigilance against controversy. For example, most of what I’m in contact with is EO (Earth Observation, under what to my great pleasure was once called MTPE, Mission to Planet Earth), and for them climate change is a big, big deal. But they have to bend over backwards not to say anything that could be interpreted as even a little partisan, which is a tough move when simple, contextualized facts are very partisan. Likewise, two different people have politely reminded me that their communications are subject to FOIA, giving me the impression that they feel they have to avoid volunteering opinions outside narrow technical topics, even when they’re squeaky clean of any bias that could possibly affect the quality and independence of their work.

The impression that one sometimes gets is of a sticky note on the monitor frame reading “Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to hear read out in Congress by someone who intends to defund your program”.

It’s a shame. You add friction to people’s work when you make them second-guess themselves and not express even well-supported, carefully framed, intellectually honest, professionally relevant opinions.

I wish the squint-inducing sunlight were felt in agencies whose failures cause secret murders, foolish wars, and the creation of surveillance states more than in an agency whose most salient failures so far – seventeen suited astronaut deaths – were caused by institutional lock-up more than by anything else. It should scare us how much Columbia was a repeat of Challenger: in both cases, a good understanding of the problem and solution was diffused within NASA, but it never converged on the point where it was needed. Too little jidoka. It’s not that transparency causes Crew Module Catastrophic Events, but there’s a chain from “we need to make sure the taxpayers are getting their money’s worth” through “let’s make sure we have solid procedures for everything” to “no, don’t just say ‘STOP! I see a problem that could kill the crew.’ to your boss; write up a nice report in rock-solid formal language” that has to be broken somewhere.

Astronaut deaths are the most salient failure, but to my mind the much bigger one is the failure to go further, which is the fault of the Executive and Legislative branches. One illustration of the problem is the Landsat program. As a series of satellites, you might assume it would be NASA’s responsibility to manage the space side of things. Nope. Obama reached over with scissors and glue to move Landsat to its own authority within the Geological Survey, because we was rightly counseled that Congress (and the presidency) cannot be trusted to fund NASA consistently enough to let it run Landsat. The consequence is very good: USGS’s Landsat operation is one of my stock examples when folks ask about doing open data right. But it bodes bogus of our handling of our primary space program when we have to take satellites away from it because we can’t trust ourselves to let it run them.

And so I see the hypervigilance as another face of the imposed institutional conservatism that has made NASA an anxious genius of an agency, never sure whether it will have the funding to do anything ambitious even after it’s been promised, tired of being scolded for not finishing what it doesn’t have the mandate to start, trying to get through a few short-sighted decades while doing justice to its domain. It’s amazing it’s as sure-handed as it is.

This, then, I think, is why we don’t see even more radical innovation from NASA: because Congress hates funding costly failures, even ones that are small and necessary parts of hugely worthwhile successes. And that’s why I doubt we’re anywhere close to the fail-hard/win-big r strategy program that Maly envisions. NSF grants are one good back door. Universal healthcare and a better social net in general is another: read Bill Gates’s “half” story and go ask a single mother who can’t afford daycare how she thinks the US economy is doing at letting her best ideas compete. I bet we’ll get there, but what happens between now and then still counts. America is waiting.

One of many causes for hope is that, even as its funding for outreach is cut, it’s NASA’s figured out how to put on a show on the web."
charlieloyd  2014  nasa  bureaucracy  universalhealthcare  healthcare  research  government  failure  science  hypervigilance  observation  imagery  congress  funding  landsat  usgs  remotesensing  earth  satellites  satelliteimagery 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The social mobility myth: Everyone agress that social mobility has stalled and that education is the answer. They’re wrong.
"We fall for the myth of schooling because comprehensives replaced grammars at the tip of an industrial revolution. The country went from blue to white-collar. The people who in one era would have walked through the factory gate started walking through the office door instead. They went up the social scale and society seemed mobile just because a lot more clerical and professional jobs were created. Next to this major change, the impact of grammar schools was negligible. We have heard so often that social mobility is all about schools that we assume it must be so. But, really, it had nothing to do with schools. Education was serving the industrial revolution, not causing it.

Absolute mobility could still make a comeback. If Britain creates more professional jobs then more people will be able to make a class journey during their lives. Relative social mobility, however, has a major political deficiency. No politician will make an appeal to the electorate based on the desire that the children of the middle class should do less well than they do now. However, in order for relative social mobility to be possible, downward movement is critical. What Gore Vidal said about friendship is also true of social mobility: “it is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.”

Social mobility really is a troublesome idea whose complexity hides some very difficult questions that politicians tend to evade. Let us pass by without really going into the controversy about genetics, which places a major limitation on this entire argument. The consensus is that somewhere between a third and a half of our talent is programmed at birth but there is no sense of this from the political debate. The other truth that the stickiness of relative social mobility forces a reluctant politician to face is that widening inequalities of condition are difficult to bridge. The reason that the UK and, despite its myth of mobility, the US are the least socially mobile countries in the developed world is that they are also the most unequal. Anyone concerned to combat relative social mobility needs to be anxious about inequality but equality sounds like a much more radical proposition than the obscure objective of social mobility.

The truth is that politicians will probably continue to talk about the easy version of social mobility, in which everyone rises but nobody falls. The accompaniment of this wish is probably an interventionist industrial policy which seeks to create jobs in computer technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology, tourism and finance.

But there is a hardcore version, a meritocratic zero-sum version of social mobility in which my rise requires your fall. In the competition for the best jobs, my children’s victory means the defeat of yours. That is what social mobility really means and that is why nobody really means it."
society  socialmobility  class  education  policy  gorevidal  success  failure  competition  2014  philipcollins 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Expensive cities are killing creativity - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"Today, creative industries are structured to minimise the diversity of their participants - economically, racially and ideologically. Credentialism, not creativity, is the passport to entry.

Over the past decade, as digital media made it possible for anyone, anywhere, to share their ideas and works, barriers to professional entry tightened and geographical proximity became valued. Fields where advanced degrees were once a rarity - art, creative writing - now view them as a requirement. Unpaid internships and unpaid labour are rampant, blocking off industry access for those who cannot work without pay in the world's most expensive cities.

Yet to discuss it, as artist Molly Crabapple notes in her brilliant essay "Filthy Lucre", is verboten. Recalling her years as a struggling artist, she remembers being told by a fellow artist - a successful man living off his inherited money - that a "real artist" must live in poverty.

"What the artist was pretending he didn't know is that money is the passport to success," she writes. "We may be free beings, but we are constrained by an economic system rigged against us. What ladders we have, are being yanked away. Some of us will succeed. The possibility of success is used to call the majority of people failures."

Failure, in an economy of extreme inequalities, is a source of fear. To fail in an expensive city is not to fall but to plummet. In expensive cities, the career ladder comes with a drop-off to hell, where the fiscal punishment for risk gone wrong is more than the average person can endure. As a result, innovation is stifled, conformity encouraged. The creative class becomes the leisure class - or they work to serve their needs, or they abandon their fields entirely."



"Creativity is sometimes described as thinking outside the box. Today the box is a gilded cage. In a climate of careerist conformity, cheap cities with bad reputations - where, as art critic James McAnalley notes, "no one knows whether it is possible for one to pursue a career" - may have their own advantage. "In the absence of hype, ideas gather, connections build, jagged at first, inarticulate," McAnalley writes of St Louis. "Then, all of a sudden, worlds emerge."

Perhaps it is time to reject the "gated citadels" - the cities powered by the exploitation of ambition, the cities where so much rides on so little opportunity. Reject their prescribed and purchased paths, as Smith implored, for cheaper and more fertile terrain. Reject the places where you cannot speak out, and create, and think, and fail. Open your eyes to where you are, and see where you can go."
arts  art  creativity  cities  housing  london  nyc  paris  failure  success  inequality  2013  sarahkendzior  credentialism  economics  risk  risktaking  meritocracy  inheritance  conformity  careers  ambition  opportunity  us  costofliving 
december 2013 by robertogreco
tim wright: digital writer: Some Thoughts About Innovation and Failure
"The trick, apparently, is to *learn* from failure. Only then is failure worth risking. That way the 'innovation' has a point even if it doesn't deliver immediate value. I'd argue, however, that we don't always have to learn from failure, and that sometimes making the same mistakes over and over again might even be part of the innovation (or rather the *invention*) process.

I've worked on lots of failed projects. I'm quite proud of it (in a way). I worked on a project recently, in fact, that was pretty much a failure. (Such a failure that it recently came *second* in an innovation contest - LOL.)"



"So for my money, this leaves 'innovation' as the poor second-cousin of genuine 'invention'. I'd also like to claim that invention can and does often happen in a bubble, and doesn't have to relate to anything that came before. *And* I'd also want to suggest that failure doesn't necessarily need to have a learning point or any value.

We can just noodle about and experiment and repeat and fail again and again and again without any obvious point. Many great artists have done this. It is allowed - and may even be a more natural way to get to truly great new things than enforcing a programme of 'innovation'.

Two cheers, then, for Tom Uglow for being brave enough to face the consequences of our failure and admit that the benefits and value of the #dream40 experiment are to a large extent 'unknown'. As he writes:
"Artistic projects like this do not fit one-size-fits all metrics; and I’m not sure what those metrics are anyway – though I do know that targets breed strategies to hit targets, so you’ll forgive us for ignoring them. Hitting targets reward organizations not audiences, or artists, or culture. This was a disruptive experiment and a hugely successful one if judged simply on what we learnt and where we now move forward from. We hope you understand why we did this and that you enjoyed and continue to enjoy it."
"

[via: http://proboscis.org.uk/5383/thoughts-on-failure/ ]
tomuglow  timwright  rewards  kickstarter  failure  innovation  strategies  targets  funding  fundraising  art  metrics  audiences  organizations  culture  learning  2013 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Surviving the post-employment economy - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"If you are 35 or younger - and quite often, older - the advice of the old economy does not apply to you. You live in the post-employment economy, where corporations have decided not to pay people. Profits are still high. The money is still there. But not for you. You will work without a raise, benefits, or job security. Survival is now a laudable aspiration.

Higher education is merely a symptom of a broader economic disease. As universities boast record endowments and spend millions on lavish infrastructure, administrators justify poor treatment of faculty by noting that said faculty: 1) "choose" to work for poverty wages, and 2) picked specialisations that give them limited "market value" - ignoring, of course, that almost no one is valued in this market, save those who are reaping its greatest profits.

The college major debate - in which "skill" is increasingly redefined as a specific corporate contribution - extends this inequity to the undergraduate level, defining as worthless, both the student’s field of study and the person teaching it. But when worthlessness is determined by the people handing out - or withholding - monetary worth, we have cause for reassessment.

Failure of the system

It is easy to decry a broken system. It is harder to figure out how to live in it.

What must be made clear is that this is not a crisis of individual choices. It is a systemic failure - within higher education and beyond. It is a crisis of managed expectations - expectations of what kind of job is "normal", what kind of treatment is to be tolerated, and what level of sacrifice is reasonable.

When survival is touted as an aspiration, sacrifice becomes a virtue. But a hero is not a person who suffers. A suffering person is a person who suffers.

If you suffer in the proper way - silently, or with proclaimed fealty to institutions - then you are a hard worker "paying your dues". If you suffer in a way that shows your pain, that breaks your silence, then you are a complainer - and you are said to deserve your fate.

But no worker deserves to suffer. To compound the suffering of material deprivation with rationalisations for its warrant is not only cruel to the individual, but gives exploiters moral license to prey.

Individuals internalise the economy’s failure, as a media chorus excoriates them over what they should have done differently. They jump to meet shifting goalposts; they express gratitude for their own mistreatment: their unpaid labour, their debt-backed devotion, their investment in a future that never arrives.

And when it does not arrive, and they wonder why, they are told they were stupid to expect it. They stop talking, because humiliation is not a bargaining chip. Humiliation is a price you pay in silence - and with silence.

People can always make choices. But the choices of today’s workers are increasingly limited. Survival is not only a matter of money, it is a matter of mentality - of not mistaking bad luck for bad character, of not mistaking lost opportunities for opportunities that were never really there.

You are not your job. But you are how you treat people.

So what can you do? You can work your hardest and do your best. You can organise and push for collective change. You can hustle and scrounge and play the odds.

But when you fall, know that millions are falling with you. Know that it is, to a large extent, out of your hands. And when you see someone else falling, reach out your hands to catch them."

[More from Sarah Kendzior (via Jen Lowe): http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/profile/sarah-kendzior-.html ]

[Like this one: "Zero opportunity employers" http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/09/2013923101543956539.html ]
sarahkendzior  universalbasicincome  2013  economics  employment  education  highereducation  highered  humiliation  suffering  millennials  failure  systemsthinking  labor  ubi 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Thoreau 2.0 - XOXO Conference Talk
[video now here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eky5uKILXtM ]

"So what I had thought was a convenience [mobile phone and 24hr alerts] had actually been the foundation for a little pyramid of anxieties. It made me wonder what other stuff in my life was behaving that way."



"Surveying, at least, let him work outside and in the woods, but he was often working for people who wanted to cut down the forest he spent all his free time in.

There's a pernicious idea that comes out of startup culture called "fail fast". I've always been a big believer in failing slowly. When you're not in for the money, success doesn't come to you pre-labeled. It can look just like failure. Chasing money makes it easier, because then you can quantify success unambiguously. Otherwise, you may have a hard time telling the two apart.

You can work on a lot of projects, but you will only get a couple of opportunities to work on something long-term. So I would say pick those carefully, do things that are intrinsically rewarding, and be very loath to abandon them. And work that day job if you have to!"



"The best piece of advice Thoreau ever got was from Emerson, who told him to keep a journal. And Thoreau did, for decades, using it as a personal diary, a record of his botanical and scientific observations, and a kind of staging ground for his serious writing. He would go back and mine it years later for passages to use in his work.

I don't think everyone needs to keep a literary journal, but I think it's vital to keep a work diary, for three reasons:

First, because it's the only honest record of what you're thinking at the time. Your memory will lie to you, almost immediately, about what you thought was going to happen on any given day. The only way you can trust it is to write down your state of mind - what you're worried about, what you expect will happen. And then over time you can go back and look for patterns of thought that you might want to fix. Maybe you're always too optimistic, or maybe you choose to work with toxic people, or chronically underestimate what things will cost. Writing it down will help you understand your mental habits, and correct for them.

Second, a work diary helps you track what you're actually doing. It's easy to get lost in the weeds from day to day, but are you ever spending time working on the things you think are most important? Thoreau was mistrustful of trivia the same way he mistrusted complexity, its capacity to take over our lives and push out what we value. An honest work record will tell you what you actually did, and what you spent your time thinking about.

Finally, and most importantly, writing things down captures the details that you only glean from experience. The one thing separating me from the high-IQ theoreticians on a message board is the fact that I've actually been running a bookmarking site for four years. Experience is priceless, you can't get it except by doing it, so you want to be sure not to fritter any of it away, and document the details as they happen.

They can come in useful later in the most surprising circumstances."



"It's not our job, Thoreau argues, to fix the world. We may not have the time for that. But we can't cooperate with injustice. If the law compels us to do something wrong, we have to break that law.

This doctrine of non-cooperation with civil authority would have a powerful effect on Gandhi and Martin Luther King."



"I've come to believe that it's time for us to take a stand, and refuse to cooperate with this apparatus of secrecy. We've already seen Lavabit, in an act of great moral courage, throw away ten years of hard work rather than acquiesce to blanket monitoring of its users. But the fact that Lavar wasn't even able to give the reasons for shutting his project down, that we had to infer them from his silence, demonstrates the problem.

If anyone is going to refuse to cooperate, it is going to be small independent projects, not large corporations. "The rich man—not to make any invidious comparison—is always sold to the institution which makes him rich"."



"We should commit to giving legal, financial and moral support to anyone who refuses to obey gag order, or publishes a National Security Letter. The secrecy exists because the programs it cloaks can't withstand the light of day. One good, timely push will break them.

Whether or not you agree with me, I would urge you to read Thoreau's essay, and decide for yourself: where do you draw the line? What will it take to make you stop cooperating?"



"So Thoreau had all these people, mostly women, who silently enabled the life he thought he was heroically living for himself.

But a gentler, more generous way to look at it is this. If you live a life by your own lights, and follow your principles, maybe once in a while someone will come and bring you a basket of donuts. And it's okay to eat the donuts! They're delicious!

Thoreau said about his two years at Walden:
I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Thoreau wrote this never having tasted any of traditional forms of success. He was thinking of a different, more fundamental kind of success, one that I wish for myself, and earnestly wish for all of you."
maciejceglowski  2013  xoxo  pinboard  philosophy  life  resistance  failure  success  money  protest  nsa  prism  ethics  law  legal  thoreau  maciejcegłowski 
september 2013 by robertogreco
XOXO Talk Notes (Pinboard Blog)
"XOXO was an event full of establishment figures (myself included) preaching an alternative gospel. This led to some strangely dissonant moments, like an online billionaire exhorting us to build a better web, which he had presumably forgotten to do earlier. The audience was similarly packed with fossils from the the early Yahoo, antedeluvian Odeo, and pre-Cambrian blog eras.

There needs to be a web equivalent to the Salon des Refusés, where young punk kids with no money can come, make everything we've ever done look lame, and then roast us in our own food trucks.

XOXO has the right spirit for that, but the wrong butts in the seats. If it happens next year, maybe the selection rule can change to help the audience match the message.

I realize I risk sounding ungrateful saying so. But part of the strength of this conference, and why I hope it continues in future years, is the organizers' unusual willingness to listen, and their sincere commitment to making the event wonderful. It can be thankless work organizing an event of this size, but I sure do hope they keep it going."
pinboard  xoxo  maciejceglowski  2013  punk  failure  success  web  change  maciejcegłowski 
september 2013 by robertogreco
Existential Depression in Gifted Children | The Unbounded Spirit
"It is such existential issues that lead many of our gifted individuals to bury themselves so intensively in “causes” (whether these causes are academics, political or social causes, or cults). Unfortunately, these existential issues can also prompt periods of depression, often mixed with desperate, thrashing attempts to “belong.” Helping these individuals to recognize the basic existential issues may help, but only if done in a kind and accepting way. In addition, these youngsters will need to understand that existential issues are not ones that can be dealt with only once, but rather ones that will need frequent revisiting and reconsideration."
depression  existentialism  structure  life  psychology  children  meaning  meaninglessness  gifted  potential  purpose  isolation  failure  aloneness  via:litherland 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Unambitious Loser With Happy, Fulfilling Life Still Lives In Hometown | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
"Longtime acquaintances confirmed to reporters this week that local man Michael Husmer, an unambitious 29-year-old loser who leads an enjoyable and fulfilling life, still lives in his hometown and has no desire to leave.

Claiming that the aimless slouch has never resided more than two hours from his parents and still hangs out with friends from high school, sources close to Husmer reported that the man, who has meaningful, lasting personal relationships and a healthy work-life balance, is an unmotivated washout who’s perfectly comfortable being a nobody for the rest of his life."
success  life  via:vruba  2013  theonion  humor  failure  well-being  happiness  living  relationships  ambition  belonging  identity  place 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Kenneth Goldsmith on How To Be Dumb
"Dumb doesn't go out of fashion because it is never in fashion. Dumb is stalled and irredeemable. It's too twisted, too weird, too contradictory and takes too many turns of thought to be reduced to a slogan or ad campaign. No matter how dumb they may appear, ad campaigns are invested in being smart; at the end of the day, you need to communicate smartly in order to get someone to buy something. Dumb muddies the waters. Likewise, juries and prizes don't recognize dumb. Juries and prizes were invented to award smart.

Dumb is not an inborn condition. You get to dumb after going through smart. Smart is stupid because it stops at smart. Smart is a phase. Dumb is post-smart. Smart is finite, well-trod, formulaic, known. The world runs on smart. It's clearly not working. I want to live in a world where the smartest thing you can do is the dumbest. I want to live in a world where a fluorescent tube leaned up against a wall is worth a million dollars. Or where a plumbing fixture on a pedestal is considered the most important art work of the century. Or where building an eternally locked Prada store in a vast expanse of empty Texas desert is considered a stroke of genius. Or where all of the numbers from one to a thousand can simply be classified by alphabetical order and published as a poem. Effortless and easy, dumb is free of failure, an infallible world where the best result is the one you happen to get."
kennethgoldsmith  2013  dumb  smart  art  creativity  learning  juries  prizes  experimentation  failure 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Futures Project | Centre for the Living Arts
Futures Project (May—January 2014) is a nine-month program that will examine  future possibilities for the Gulf Coast, with focus areas that are both expected and unexpected.

Futures Project will feature a group exhibition of emerging and established visual artists from around the world in our 16,000 square ft. gallery. In addition to the exhibition, the CLA will organize an extensive slate of educational and public programming to compliment and amplify Futures Project.

Artists’ projects are considered a springboard for new conversations, and the CLA welcomes their input and ideas for all public programs and activities. A different topic relating to the future will be examined each month through film screenings, public forums and conversations, studio classes and workshops for all ages, plus special programming for teens and seniors.

Topics under consideration for monthly programming include:
Future of:

Childhood & aging
Home, place & immigration
Race, class & ethics
Communication, information, knowledge & wisdom
Education & learning, success & failure
Health, wellness & spirituality
Environment, climate change, prediction & politics
Art & cultural organizations
Mobile & downtown economic development
centerforthelivingarts  art  futures  childhood  aging  home  place  immigration  race  class  ethics  communication  information  knowledge  wisdom  education  learning  success  failure  health  wellness  spirituality  environment  climatechange  prediction  politics  culture  mobile  economics  development  2013  2014  2x4  candychang  dawndedeaux  tomleeser  kennyscharf  artpark  xavierderichemont 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Neil Gaiman: Keynote Address 2012 | The University of the Arts
"The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It's Imposter Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police."



"People get hired because, somehow, they get hired."



"To all today's graduates: I wish you luck. Luck is useful. Often you will discover that the harder you work, and the more wisely you work, the luckier you get. But there is luck, and it helps.

We're in a transitional world right now, if you're in any kind of artistic field, because the nature of distribution is changing, the models by which creators got their work out into the world, and got to keep a roof over their heads and buy sandwiches while they did that, are all changing. I've talked to people at the top of the food chain in publishing, in bookselling, in all those areas, and nobody knows what the landscape will look like two years from now, let alone a decade away. The distribution channels that people had built over the last century or so are in flux for print, for visual artists, for musicians, for creative people of all kinds.

Which is, on the one hand, intimidating, and on the other, immensely liberating. The rules, the assumptions, the now-we're supposed to's of how you get your work seen, and what you do then, are breaking down. The gatekeepers are leaving their gates. You can be as creative as you need to be to get your work seen. YouTube and the web (and whatever comes after YouTube and the web) can give you more people watching than television ever did. The old rules are crumbling and nobody knows what the new rules are.

So make up your own rules."

[On Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikAb-NYkseI ]
neilgaiman  luck  howwework  freelancing  art  making  glvo  2012  commencementspeeches  life  living  worrying  rules  breakingrules  creativity  uncertainty  freedom  mistakes  failure  success 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Notational: Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable...
"Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit - all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them."

—Brian Eno, A Year With Swollen Appendices
distortion  brianeno  failure  ugliness  beauity  newness  glitches 
june 2013 by robertogreco
DrupalCon Portland 2013: DESIGN OPS: A UX WORKFLOW FOR 2013 - YouTube
"Hey, the dev team gets all these cool visual analytics, code metrics, version control, revision tagging, configuration management, continuous integration ... and the UX design team just passes around Photoshop files?

Taking clues from DevOps and Lean UX, "DesignOps" advocates more detailed and durable terminology about the cycle of user research, design and production. DesignOps seeks to first reduce the number of design artifacts, to eliminate the pain of prolonged design decisions. DesignOps assumes that the remaining design artifacts aren't actionable until they are reasonably archived and linked in a coherent way that serves the entire development team.

This talk will introduce the idea of DesignOps with the assumption that the audience has experience with a basic user research cycle — iterative development with any kind of user feedback.

DesignOps is a general approach, intended to help with a broad array of questions from usability testing issues, documentation archiving, production-time stress, and general confusion on your team:

What are the general strategies for managing the UX design process?
How do you incorporate feedback without huge cost?
What happened to that usability test result from last year?
How much space goes between form elements?
Why does the design cycle make me want to drink bleach?
WTF why does our website look like THIS?
* Features turnkey full-stack (Vagrant ) installation of ubuntu with drupal 7 install profile utilizing both php and ruby development tools, with all examples configured for live css compilation"
chrisblow  contradictions  just  simply  must  2013  drupal  drupalcon  designops  fear  ux  terminology  design  audience  experience  shame  usability  usabilitytesting  work  stress  archiving  confusion  relationships  cv  canon  collaboration  howwework  workflow  versioncontrol  versioning  failure  iteration  flickr  tracker  creativecommons  googledrive  tags  tagging  labels  labeling  navigation  urls  spreadsheets  links  permissions  googledocs  timelines  basecamp  cameras  sketching  universal  universality  teamwork  principles  bullshitdetection  users  clients  onlinetoolkit  offtheshelf  tools  readymadetools  readymade  crapdetection  maps  mapping  userexperience  research  designresearch  ethnography  meetup  consulting  consultants  templates  stencils  bootstrap  patterns  patternlibraries  buzzwords  css  sass  databases  compass  webdev  documentation  sharing  backups  maintenance  immediacy  process  decisionmaking  basics  words  filingsystems  systems  writing  facilitation  expression  operations  exoskeletons  clarification  creativity  bots  shellscripts  notes  notetaking  notebo 
may 2013 by robertogreco
On Burnout
I remember reading this published insight[1] from Marissa Mayer a few months ago:

Burnout is caused by resentment

Which sounded amazing, until this guy who dated a neuroscientist commented[2]:

No. Burnout is caused when you repeatedly make large amounts of sacrifice and or effort into high-risk problems that fail. It's the result of a negative prediction error in the nucleus accumbens. You effectively condition your brain to associate work with failure.

Subconsciously, then eventually, consciously, you wonder if it's worth it. The best way to prevent burnout is to follow up a serious failure with doing small things that you know are going to work. As a biologist, I frequently put in 50-70 and sometimes 100 hour workweeks. The very nature of experimental science (lots of unkowns) means that failure happens. The nature of the culture means that grad students are "groomed" by sticking them on low-probability of success, high reward fishing expeditions (gotta get those nature, science papers) I used to burn out for months after accumulating many many hours of work on high-risk projects. I saw other grad students get it really bad, and burn out for years.

During my first postdoc, I dated a neuroscientist and reprogrammed my work habits. On the heels of the failure of a project where I have spent weeks building up for, I will quickly force myself to do routine molecular biology, or general lab tasks, or a repeat of an experiment that I have gotten to work in the past. These all have an immediate reward. Now I don't burn out anymore, and find it easier to re-attempt very difficult things, with a clearer mindset.

For coders, I would posit that most burnout comes on the heels of failure that is not in the hands of the coder (management decisions, market realities, etc). My suggested remedy would be to reassociate work with success by doing routine things such as debugging or code testing that will restore the act of working with the little "pops" of endorphins.

That is not to say that having a healthy life schedule makes burnout less likely (I think it does; and one should have a healthy lifestyle for its own sake) but I don't think it addresses the main issue.

Then I finally realized how many times I've burnt out in my life, and I became much better into avoiding it. Which is really hard to do.

And it seems to me that this is one of the many points that Ben Horowitz talks about on his What’s The Most Difficult CEO Skill? Managing Your Own Psychology[3]

[1] http://iamnotaprogrammer.com/Burnout-is-caused-by-resentment.html
[2] http://iamnotaprogrammer.com/Burnout-is-caused-by-resentment.html#comment-478842490
[3] http://bhorowitz.com/2011/04/01/what%E2%80%99s-the-most-difficult-ceo-skill-managing-your-own-psychology/ "
life  working  burnout  neuroscience  failure  psychology  workhabits  work  via:tealtan 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Brown Alumna Recalls What She Failed to Learn - NYTimes.com
"Though I alone was responsible for insulating myself from challenge and failure and meaningful reward, an entire system buffers today’s children from such possibilities. Overprotective parents, schools dedicated to acing exams, a college preparatory system that offers zero capacity for error (unless it provides pathos fodder for the application essay) — all of these elements make it hard for the ambitious child to risk a misstep. There is no room for failure, let alone soap opera afternoons.

Today, perfect children check off boxes at all levels. At a Manhattan preschool last year, word spread about the magnificent child who had won acceptance at 12 — 12! — coveted kindergartens. “How did she manage it?” parents were heard to whisper. And then the answer was passed along the same gossip chain. “When asked to jump, my daughter will not only jump, she’ll ask, ‘How high?’ ” her mother explained."
universities  colleges  experience  riskaversion  fearoffailure  failure  competition  gamingthesystem  assessment  grading  grades  standardizedtesting  testcentricschools  collegeprep  missingthepoint  perfectionism  self-esteem  motivation  incentives  conditioning  checkboxes  schooliness  risktaking  learning  education  2012  princetonkid  pamelapaul 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Nassim Taleb: my rules for life | Books | The Observer
"Modern life is akin to a chronic stress injury, he says. And the way to combat it is to embrace randomness in all its forms: live true to your principles, don't sell your soul and watch out for the carbohydrates."

"You have to pull back and let the system destroy itself, and then come back. That's Seneca's recommendation. He's the one who says that the sage should let the republic destroy itself."

"The "arguments" are that size, in Taleb's view, matters. Bigger means more complex, means more prone to failure. Or, as he puts it, "fragile". "

""Antifragile" is when something is actually strengthened by the knocks."

"In Taleb's view, small is beautiful."

"[He] claims that a janitor also has that kind of independence. "He can say what he thinks. He doesn't have to fit his ethics to his job. It's not about money.""

"He's also largely an autodidact."

"Between 2004 and 2008 were the worst years of my life. Everybody thought I was an idiot. And I knew that. But at the same time…"
math  teaching  fasting  diet  paleodiet  living  life  seneca  classics  war  thomasfriedman  honor  vindication  deschooling  autonomy  unschooling  anarchism  chaos  randomness  principles  honesty  freedom  academia  banking  money  ethics  socialmisfits  cv  independence  blackswans  failure  probability  antifragility  antifragile  small  fragility  autodidacts  2012  books  nassimtaleb 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Unbuilding — Lined & Unlined
[now here: https://linedandunlined.com/archive/unbuilding ]

Here's another something that's too large to unpack in a quote or two or three or more, so just one, then read and view (many images) the rest.

"Unlike the thesis, Antithesis was an optional class. Instead of a constant, year-long process, it was interstitial, happening during a “down time” in the year. We didn’t really have class meetings — instead, I spent my time hanging out in the studio. Everyone loosened up. After thinking intensively about the thesis for 12 weeks, it was time to stop thinking about it — at least, consciously. The goal was not to keep pushing forward on the thesis but to get new projects started in parallel."

[video: https://vimeo.com/63008758 ]
completeness  sourcecode  viewsource  critique  susansontag  webdesign  aestheticpractice  criticalautonomy  canon  andrewblauvelt  billmoggridge  khoivinh  community  communities  livingdocuments  constitution  usconstitution  metaphors  metaphor  borges  telescopictext  joedavis  language  culturalsourcecode  cooper-hewitt  sebchan  github  johngnorman  recycling  interboropartners  kiva  pennandteller  jakedow-smith  pointerpointer  davidmacaulay  stevejobs  tednelson  humanconsciousness  consciousness  literacy  walterong  pipa  sopa  wikipedia  robertrauschenberg  willemdekooning  humor  garfieldminusgarfield  garfield  danwalsh  ruderripps  okfocus  bolognadeclaration  pedagogy  mariamontessori  freeuniversityofbozen-bolzano  openstudioproject  lcproject  tcsnmy  howweteach  cv  anti-hierarchy  hierarchy  autonomy  anti-autonomy  anti-isolation  anti-specialization  avant-garde  vanabbemuseum  charlesesche  understanding  knowing  socialsignaling  anyahindmarch  thinking  making  inquiry  random  informality  informal  interstitial  antithesis  action  non-action  anikaschwarzlose  jona 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Saturn V Relaunch by Paul Sahre — Kickstarter [Great description, great video]
"Near the the end of the Apollo space missions of the early 1970's, my father…began work on his own Saturn V…1/100 scale…kit had hundreds of separate parts that took my dad months (my mom remembers it as YEARS) to meticulously cut, glue, sand, and paint.

When he finally finished, he brought the whole family out to an open field. We counted down, and my mom had the honor of pushing the button. The rocket shot 500 feet into the sky...but the chutes failed to deploy and we watched in horror as it plummeted—nose first—back to earth. Dad's Saturn V was destroyed and I've never forgotten.

My father passed away a few years ago, and I recently discovered his launch pad in the attic—along with dozens of snapshots of the original launch. I am a father now as well, and it struck me that this was the first time I remember seeing him fail at ANYTHING. It reminded me of a time when our fathers were omnipotent; when any dispute with the kid down the block could be settled with "I'll ask my dad.""
1970s  modelbuilding  timemachines  modelrocketry  rockets  modelrockets  paulsahre  kickstarter  2012  parenting  parents  failure  nostalgia 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Velocity 2012: Richard Cook, "How Complex Systems Fail" - YouTube
[Apply this to the design of education systems (or any other type of system). Notice how the school reform movement can be described by 'design for reliability', not 'design for resilience'.]

[Notes here by Taryn:]

"@19:00 [eg:] shiftworkers as the sources of resilience in "as found" systems (monitoring, responding, adapting, learning)

@20:00 design for reliability (boundaries, redundancy, interference protection, assurance, accountability, hiding-of-details) whereas we want resilience (withstand transients, recover swiftly from failure, prioritize high goals, respond to abnormal situations, adapt)

@22:40 how to design for resilience: constant maintenance, transparency of operation, support mental simulations"
responsiveness  access  control  agency  education  schoolreform  monitoring  adaptablerules  adaptation  learning  via:taryn  2012  maintenance  transparency  operations  priorities  adaptability  reliability  accountability  redundancy  failure  complexity  resilience  organizations  systems  richardcook 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Look at yourself objectively (Aaron Swartz's Raw Thought)
"Looking at ourselves objectively isn’t easy. But it’s essential if we ever want to get better. And if we don’t do it, we leave ourselves open to con artists and ethical compromisers who prey on our desire to believe we’re perfect. There’s no one solution, but here are some tricks I use to get a more accurate sense of myself:

Embrace your failings. …

Studiously avoid euphemism. …

Reverse your projections. …

Look up, not down. …

Criticize yourself. …

Find honest friends. …

Listen to the criticism. …

Take the outside view."
constructivecriticism  vulnerability  humility  honesty  oprah  mindchanging  mindchanges  change  behavior  ignazsemmelweis  learning  feedback  advice  self-improvement  wisdom  fear  failure  psychology  self-image  perspective  euphemisms  criticalfriends  collegiality  criticism  self-criticism  selfimprovement  2012  aaronswartz 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Believe you can change (Aaron Swartz's Raw Thought)
"Growth mindset has become a kind of safe word for my partner and I. Whenever we feel the other person getting defensive or refusing to try something because “I’m not any good at it”, we say “Growth mindset!” and try to approach the problem as a chance to grow, rather than a test of our abilities. It’s no longer scary, it’s just another project to work on."
failure  resilience  persistence  introverts  2012  growthmindset  via:litherland  caroldweck  aaronswartz  psychology 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Eyeo2012 - Zach Lieberman on Vimeo
"Unexpected — Live Performance, Technology and the Risk of Something (or Everything) Going Wrong. ie, Learning to Love Chance."

"A world without heartbreak is a world without heart."

Don't miss the poem at the end about failure (full text here: https://github.com/ofZach/eyeo_2012_remarks/ ]:

"What can go wrong? …

… this is a love letter to those who are on the frontlines, and if you are not on the frontlines, an invitation to join us. What I say to students is the world is hungry for ideas. We need you. …

and so I say: go. press play. compile. turn on the power, turn off the lights, turn on the lights, open the curtain, open the doors, start the show, invite people, post the video, send the link, push the code to git, hit save, hit run, run with it. go with it. go.

what is the worst that can happen?

a world without heartbreak is a world without heart. all we need to do is keep pushing, and we'll get there."

[See also: http://thesystemis.com/ ]
risktaking  thezone  inthezone  zones  via:jenlowe  hillmancurtis  andycameron  openframeworks  electronics  heartbreak  happiness  life  human  golanlevin  versionitis  risk  love  technology  design  art  failure  eyeo  eyeo2012  2012  zachlieberman 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Charlie Kaufman: Screenwriters Lecture | BAFTA Guru
"we try to be experts because we’re scared; we don’t want to feel foolish or worthless; we want power because power is a great disguise."

"Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that in the end selling is what everyone must do. Try not to."

"This is from E. E. Cummings: ‘To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.’ The world needs you. It doesn’t need you at a party having read a book about how to appear smart at parties – these books exist, and they’re tempting – but resist falling into that trap. The world needs you at the party starting real conversations, saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and being kind."

[Giving up, too much to quote.]
danger  risktaking  risk  failure  simplification  fear  fearmongering  materialism  consumerism  culture  marketing  humannature  character  bullying  cv  meaningmaking  meaning  filmmaking  creating  creativity  dreaming  dreams  judgement  assessment  interpretation  religion  fanaticism  johngarvey  deschooling  unschooling  unlearning  relearning  perpetualchange  change  flux  insight  manifestos  art  truth  haroldpinter  paradox  uncertainty  certainty  wonder  bullies  intentions  salesmanship  corporatism  corporations  politics  humans  communication  procrastination  timeusage  wisdom  philosophy  ignorance  knowing  learning  life  time  adamresnick  human  transparency  vulnerability  honesty  loneliness  emptiness  capitalism  relationships  manipulation  distraction  kindness  howwework  howwethink  knowledge  specialists  attention  media  purpose  bafta  film  storytelling  writing  screenwriting  charliekaufman  self  eecummings  2011  canon 
august 2012 by robertogreco
10 things parents should unlearn… « What Ed Said
"10 things I think (some) parents should unlearn…

1.  Learning is best measured by a letter or a number.

2. Product is more important than process and progress.

3. Children need to be protected from any kind of failure.

4. The internet  is dangerous for children.

5. Parents and teachers should discuss students without the learner present.

6. Homework is an essential part of learning.

7. The school is responsible for the child’s entire education.

8. Your child’s perspective is the only one.

9. Learning looks the same as when you went to school.

10. Focus on (and fix) your child’s shortcomings, rather than their successes."
unlearning  parenting  unschooling  deschooling  2012  ednasackson  process  processoverproduct  tcsnmy  learning  assessment  testing  standards  standardization  responsibility  education  cv  teaching  studentdirected  students  failure  risk  risktaking  howwelearn  howweteach  schools  lcproject 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Resiliency, Risk, and a Good Compass: Tools for the Coming Chaos | Wired Business | Wired.com
"There are nine or so principles to work in a world like this:

1. Resilience instead of strength, which means you want to yield and allow failure and you bounce back instead of trying to resist failure.
2. You pull instead of push. That means you pull the resources from the network as you need them, as opposed to centrally stocking them and controlling them.
3. You want to take risk instead of focusing on safety.
4. You want to focus on the system instead of objects.
5. You want to have good compasses not maps.
6. You want to work on practice instead of theory. Because sometimes you don’t why it works, but what is important is that it is working, not that you have some theory around it.
7. It disobedience instead of compliance. You don’t get a Nobel Prize for doing what you are told. Too much of school is about obedience, we should really be celebrating disobedience.
8. It’s the crowd instead of experts.
9. It’s a focus on learning instead of education."
onthecheap  innovation  startups  collaboration  change  work  mapping  maps  compass  adaptability  howwework  cv  failure  systemsawareness  systemsthinking  systems  crowdsourcing  crowds  experts  disobedience  compliance  theory  practice  education  deschooling  hierarchy  control  unschooling  objects  tcsnmy  safety  pull  push  resiliency  2012  joiito  risktaking  risk  resilience  networks  learning 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Agnes Martin Interview (20:00 version, 1997) on Vimeo
"An interview done by Chuck Smith & Sono Kuwayama with painter Agnes Martin at her studio in Taos in Nov. 1997."

[Shorter version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-JfYjmo5OA ]

[Via: https://twitter.com/CaseyG/status/223499478819287041 ]

Some highlights:

“I paint with my back to the world.”

"I think education is wrong. Education wants us to think that we are capable and we can do anything, teaches us to be ambitious, but that's the way to failure. To think to win and be ambitious instead of thinking what you're doing. The people that think they're ambitious and capable, they don't know they're only capable of repeating something that's already been done."

"The worst thing you can think about when you're working at anything is yourself."

"You can't think about beating the rest of them when you are painting. You have to keep a picture in your mind."
glvo  brucenauman  self  clarity  agnesmartin  inspiration  howwecreate  howwework  vacanmind  ideas  sonokuwayama  chucksmith  via:caseygollan  interviews  1997  loneliness  alone  life  painting  art  evolution  education  ambition  failure 
july 2012 by robertogreco
The Chumbawamba Principle: A Commencement Address : Krulwich Wonders... : NPR
"It's time to design a version of yourself that might work. That might make you happy…To Become Somebody ... defined by you…

In high school, in grade school, you didn't have to design yourself. The folks in charge were happy to do it for you. You were marched into a school building at age 3, 4 or 5, placed at a desk or put in a circle, inspected by your teachers. And after that, you did what you were told, what everybody is told to do: Show up and learn stuff…

You can't always name the thing you're going to be. For most people it doesn't work that way. You have to back into it…

My second thought is that — and I'm sorry to tell you this — the designing never ends…

I've had to redesign myself so many times, I can't tell you how many…

Here's the point: When you are trying to create a version of yourself that will one day make you happy, half the battle is know your insides — know your pleasures.

And the other half is to know your outsides — to find allies, partners, mentors."
teaching  cv  adaptability  schools  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  howwelearn  alternative  alternativeeducation  unorthodox  tcsnmy  chumbawambaprinciple  chumbawamba  deschooling  unschooling  schooliness  education  self-knowledge  happiness  work  learning  collegeoftheatlantic  2012  commencementspeeches  robertkrulwich  self-defintion  failure  mistakes  yearoff2  yearoff  change  self-reinvention  reinvention  radiolab  jadabumrad  why  yesbut  whynot 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Encouragement
Encouragement is like an apple; praise is like candy.
[Praise] can only be given after success. Encouragement is so potent that it can be given after failure.
Praise is general and high-energy. Encouragement is low-key.
By the way, “thank you” is a powerful form of encouragement.
thinking  appreciation  encouragement  psychology  failure  praise  teaching  learning  success  via:litherland 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Blue Man Group @ CNN's The Next List - YouTube
"Matt Goldman, Chris Wink, and Phil Stanton are best known for originating the international entertainment phenomenon, Blue Man Group. They founded Blue School with their wives as a parent-run playgroup in 2006 in answer to their struggles of finding an institution that celebrated curiosity, creativity, and a sense of adventure for their own children.

Since then, the founders have grown the concept exponentially, engaging a number of respected professionals on their advisory board including Sir Ken Robinson, an educational reform advocate, David Rockwell, a renowned architect who built the Imagination Playground, and Dan Siegel, a neuroscientist, among others.

Blue School's foundation is based in part on utilizing a "co-constructive approach" to learning in which the students have a hand in directing and developing their own curriculum through inquiry and exploration.

As a lab school, Blue School is blazing a trail in education and plans to encourage further innovation through…"
experimentation  divergentthinking  children  constructivism  co-construction  play  dansiegal  interdisciplinary  student-centered  emergentcurriculum  curriculum  teaching  philstanton  chriswink  mattgoldman  curiosity  learning  inquiry  2012  creativity  innovation  kenrobinson  progressive  nyc  blueschool  education  schools  failure  risk 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Alex Payne — On Business Madness
"We mistake dumb luck for a machine that produces success. We rely on induction when we should rely on deduction, and then, having realized our mistake, we lean on “data-driven decisions” in lieu of common sense. We chase patterns that aren’t there and miss eager markets right in front of us. All this while projecting the confidence, real or manufactured, that’s necessary to play the game.

This madness takes many forms…"

"How can we be like the successful ones and not like we are: tired, confused, scared, not-rich? Just tell us the secret. There is a secret, right? There must be. They make it look so easy.

I am not a business person. I don’t know what makes a good business. It seems like it helps to have a good idea, great people, the willingness to work hard, and an absolute shit-ton of luck. Being certain about much beyond that seems, well, a bit crazy to me."
nobodyknowswhatthey'redoing  patterns  patternrecognition  deducation  induction  2012  successworship  entrepreneurship  processcults  taylorism  processcult  process  failure  madness  startup  advice  luck  startups  success  business  alexpayne 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch | Fast Company
'Culture is a balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combined create either pleasure or pain, serious momentum or miserable stagnation. A strong culture flourishes with a clear set of values and norms that actively guide the way a company operates. Employees are actively and passionately engaged in the business, operating from a sense of confidence and empowerment rather than navigating their days through miserably extensive procedures and mind-numbing bureaucracy. Performance-oriented cultures possess statistically better financial growth, with high employee involvement, strong internal communication, and an acceptance of a healthy level of risk-taking in order to achieve new levels of innovation."
failure  success  accountability  responsibility  administration  leadership  spirit  cohesion  connection  agency  motivation  focus  lcproject  tcsnmy  business  innovation  strategy  management  culture 
january 2012 by robertogreco
AU 2011: Otherlab's Saul Griffith, Part 1 - Pneubotics Yields Soft Robots on Vimeo
"At Autodesk University 2011, Saul Griffith, founder of Otherlab, discusses his pioneering work in Pneubotics. Otherlab is working on soft, fabric-based robots that are actuated by compressed air."

"At Autodesk University 2011, Saul Griffith, founder of Otherlab, talks about inventing and the type of follow-up required to see that invention go out into the world." [ http://vimeo.com/33131553 ]

"Part 3 of our video chat with Saul Griffith, co-founder of Otherlab, at Autodesk University 2011. Griffith answers questions about Theory vs. Making Stuff in education, advice for design students, and how to enable yourself to make truly unique things." [ http://vimeo.com/33131913 ]

[Later: "Solve for X: Saul Griffith on inflatable robots" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqP3IpEqkk4# ]
design  tools  toolmaking  saulgriffith  education  projectbasedlearning  2011  core77  glvo  making  doing  learning  learningbydoing  advice  robots  invention  failure  howwework  howwelearn  pneubotics  otherlab  pbl 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking | Psychology Today
"1. You are creative.
2. Creative thinking is work.
3. You must go through the motions of being creative.
4. Your brain is not a computer.
5. There is no one right answer.
6. Never stop with your first good idea.
7. Expect the experts to be negative.
8. Trust your instincts.
9. There is no such thing as failure.
10. You do not see things as they are; you see them as you are.
11. Always approach a problem on its own terms.
12. Learn to think unconventionally."
creativity  psychology  innovation  art  designthinking  2011  michaelmichalko  cv  conformity  failure  tcsnmy  toshare  openminded  negativity  defensiveness  specialists  creativegeneralists  generalists  knowledge  instinct  problemsolving  brain  thinking  experts  paradox  biases  bias  mindset  closedmindedness  specialization 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Charles P. Pierce on the brutal truth about the crimes at Penn State - Grantland
"It happens because institutions lie. And today, our major institutions lie because of a culture in which loyalty to "the company," and protection of "the brand"…trumps conventional morality, traditional ethics, civil liberties, & even adherence to the rule of law. It is better to protect "the brand" than it is to protect free speech, the right to privacy, or even to protect children."

"Independent action is usually crushed. Nobody wants to damage the brand. Your supervisor might find out, & his primary loyalty is to the company…why he got promoted to be supervisor…

…institutions of college athletics exist primarily as unreality fueled by deceit…that universities should be in the business of providing large spectacles of mass entertainment…

It is not a failure of our institutions so much as it is a window into what they have become — soulless, profit-driven monsters, Darwinian predators w/ precious little humanity left in them…Too much of this country is too big to fail."
pennstate  religion  grantland  collegesports  colleges  universities  2011  toobigtofail  ethics  morality  corporatism  loyalty  humanity  humanism  fear  failure  jerrysandusky  romancatholicchurch  rape  childabuse  law  corruption  civilliberties  collegefootball  us  crime  truth 
november 2011 by robertogreco
MAKE | Zen and the Art of Making
"Some of the most talented and prolific people I know have dozens of interests and hobbies. When I ask them about this, the response is usually something like “I love to learn.” I think the new discoveries and joys of learning are the crux of this beginner thing I’ve been thinking about. Sure, when you’ve mastered something it’s valuable, but then part of your journey is over — you’ve arrived, and the trick is to find something you’ll always have a sense of wonder about. I think this is why scientists and artists, who are usually experts, love what they do: there is always something new ahead. It’s possible to be an expert but still retain the mind of a beginner. It’s hard, but the best experts can do it. In making things, in art, in science, in engineering, you can always be a beginner about something you’re doing — the fields are too vast to know it all."
philliptorrone  making  learning  unschooling  curiosity  education  experts  generalists  creativegeneralists  2011  zen  knowledge  expertise  lewiscarroll  makers  electronics  art  artists  science  scientists  tinkering  tinkerers  lifelonglearning  deschooling  mindset  beginners  invention  arduino  fear  risktaking  riskaversion  teaching  lcproject  failure  stasis  yearoff  openminded  children  interestedness  specialists  motivation  intrinsicmotivation  exploration  internet  web  online  constraints  specialization  interested  beginner'smind 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Will Dropouts Save America? - NYTimes.com
"Classroom skills may put you at an advantage in the formal market, but in the informal market, street-smart skills and real-world networking are infinitely more important.

Yet our children grow up amid an echo chamber of voices telling them to get good grades, do well on their SATs, and spend an average of $45,000 on tuition — after accounting for scholarships — while taking on $23,000 in debt to get a private four-year college education."
entrepreneurship  dropouts  2011  business  education  unschooling  deschooling  startups  psychology  careers  highered  highereducation  michaelellsberg  networking  mentoring  learning  schooliness  schooling  failure  risktaking  jobs  work  grades  grading  standardizedtesting 
november 2011 by robertogreco
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