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robertogreco : hybridity   6

I'm Nowhere In-between: Why we need 'seriously uncool' criticism in education - Long View on Education
"You know those t-charts that divide approaches to education into the old and the new? Of course you do. And I bet that were we both to take five minutes to reproduce one from memory, we would come up with roughly the same list. All we’d need to do then is choose a side. Or perhaps stake out a position somewhere in the middle, a blend of the two. Nothing too extreme.

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

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

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

Think about that for a minute.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s lots of reason to think that the social media discussion of education is not a kind of paradise. But as hooks reminds us,
“…learning is a place where paradise can be created. The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom.”3
"
benjamindoxtdator  2017  dichotomies  dichotomy  spectrums  projectbasedlearning  bellhooks  criticalpedagogy  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  hybridity  purity  teaching  leaning  unschooling  deschooling  progressive  schools  freedom  homogeneity  heterogeneity  mayrpringle  history  modernity  emilianavega  richarddawkins  danieldennett  faith  geertlovink  criticism  criticalthinking  technology  pammueller  danieloppenheimer  tedtalks  democracy  democratic  gertbiesta  systemstheory  diversity  complexity  simplicity  agesegregation  efficiency  politics  power  authority  networks  possibility  nicholascarr 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Kenzi Shiokava | Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only | Hammer Museum
[via: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/miranda/la-et-cam-kenzi-shiokava-hammer-museum-20160705-snap-story.html ]

"Kenzi Shiokava’s work of the past fifty years has revolved around two very different sculptural forms, wood carving and assemblage. His elegantly carved totems and his staged groupings of plastic figurines offer a stark contrast in materials and methods. While wood carving is as old as the human species itself, assemblage is a form squarely rooted in the history of the twentieth century. Together each tradition bookends an art historical narrative, whose opposing poles are the sacred and the profane.

Born in Brazil, Shiokava is ethnically Japanese. His parents were among thousands of immigrant families fleeing severe economic hardship in the early twentieth century. Over the course of three generations, beginning with the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in 1908, there was little if any assimilation. Yet Shiokava’s work embodies a cultural hybridity that is readily played out in the distinction between his wood and macramé totems, which he says represent, respectively, the Japanese and Brazilian sides of himself.

Prompted by his older sister’s move to the area, Shiokava arrived in Los Angeles in 1964. He attended art school in the city, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Chouinard Art Institute (a predecessor of California Institute of the Arts) in 1972 and a master’s degree from Otis Art Institute in 1974. Among Shiokava’s peers were a notable number of African American artists—including John Outterbridge, Noah Purifoy, and Betye Saar—all of whom were engaged with assemblage, a practice that by the early 1970s qualified as a Los Angeles tradition. Found objects are featured in Shiokava’s various types of work, such as the sculptures, reliefs, and totems. His assemblages are often marked by their juxtaposition of natural and industrially produced forms. Featuring plastic cartoon figures—the Hulk, Power Rangers, and Smurfs, to name but a few—the dioramas are a discrete turn away from the natural world, focusing instead on the lowest form of entertainment industry merchandising. But no matter how industrial, these figurines are for Shiokava a form of culture ripe for resuscitation from the places where they were once discarded when tastes changed. Paying keen attention to their poses, he arranges the figures within various found box forms, crafting ensembles whose costumes, gestures, and expressions, set within an arena and juxtaposed, produce a form of theater. They are restored and reanimated as products of the imagination."

[See also: https://vimeo.com/165919705 ]
kenzishiokava  artists  art  losangeles  assemblage  wood  totems  hybridity  johnoutterbridge  noahpurifoy  betyesaar 
may 2017 by robertogreco
What Does It Mean to Become Californian? | Boom: A Journal of California
"The habits of 19th century Californians framed what becoming Californian would mean. Bitterly for Californians today, those habits did not come with a moral compass. The California Dream had been limitless in its promise of health, wealth, and happiness in the sunshine. Today’s Californians dream differently. As California becomes less exceptional, how will we describe California when it’s not exactly “Californian” anymore? The insights of critical regionalism and Foucault’s notion of “a particular, local, regional knowledge” may provide a guide."
2016  history  california  goldrush  environment  johnmuir  josiahroyce  hybridity  richardrodriguez  fredericklawolmstead  stephaniepincetl  joandidion  lanscape  nature  anseldams  williamhenryjackson  kevinstarr  michelfoucault  foucault 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Should You Fear the Pizzly Bear? - NYTimes.com
"In New England today, trees cover more land than they have at any time since the colonial era. Roughly 80 percent of the region is now forested, compared with just 30 percent in the late 19th century. Moose and turkey again roam the backwoods. Beavers, long ago driven from the area by trappers seeking pelts, once more dam streams. White-tailed deer are so numerous that they are often considered pests. And an unlikely predator has crept back into the woods, too: what some have called the coywolf. It is both old and new — roughly one-quarter wolf and two-thirds coyote, with the rest being dog.

The animal comes from an area above the Great Lakes, where wolves and coyotes live — and sometimes breed — together. At one end of this canid continuum, there are wolves with coyote genes in their makeup; at the other, there are coyotes with wolf genes. Another source of genetic ingredients comes from farther north, where the gray wolf, a migrant species originally from Eurasia, resides. “We call it canis soup,” says Bradley White, a scientist at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, referring to the wolf-coyote hybrid population.

The creation story White and his colleagues have pieced together begins during European colonization, when the Eastern wolf was hunted and poisoned out of existence in its native Northeast. A remnant population — “loyalists” is how White refers to them — migrated to Canada. At the same time, coyotes, native to the Great Plains, began pushing eastward and mated with the refugee wolves. Their descendants in turn bred with coyotes and dogs. The result has been a creature with enough strength to hunt the abundant woodland deer, which it followed into the recovering Eastern forests. Coywolves, or Eastern coyotes, as White prefers to call them, have since pushed south to Virginia and east to Newfoundland. The Eastern coyote is a study in the balancing act required to survive as a medium-size predator in a landscape full of people. It can be as much as 40 percent larger than the Western coyote, with powerful wolflike jaws; it has also inherited the wolf’s more social nature, which allows for pack hunting. (In 2009, a pack of Eastern coyotes attacked and killed a 19-year-old Canadian folk singer named Taylor Mitchell in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.) But it shares with coyotes, some 2,000 of which live within Chicago’s city limits, a remarkable ability to thrive in humanized landscapes.

“We’re kind of privileged in the last 100 years to watch the birth of this entity,” White told me, “and now the evolution of this entity across this North American landscape that we’ve modified.” Evolutionarily speaking, coyotes diverged from gray wolves one million to two million years ago, and dogs from wolves roughly 15,000 years ago. Yet over the past century, as agriculture moved to the Midwest and California, farmland in the East reverted to woodlands. The rise of fossil fuels reduced the demand for firewood. Forests spread, and deer and other prey proliferated, while human intolerance for wolves kept a potential competitor at bay.

Thus did humans inadvertently create an ecological niche for a predator in one of the most densely populated regions of the country. In an exceedingly brief period, coyote, wolf and dog genes have been remixed into something new: a predator adapted to a landscape teeming with both prey and another apex predator, us. And this mongrel continues to evolve. Javier Monzon, an evolutionary biologist at Stony Brook University, has found that Eastern coyotes living in areas with the highest densities of deer also carry the greatest number of wolf genes. Another scholar of the Eastern coyote — Roland Kays, a zoologist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh — estimates that the Eastern coyote’s hybrid ancestry has allowed it to expand its range five times as fast as nonhybrid coyotes could have. In the urbanized Northeast, of all places, an abundance of large prey seems to have promoted a predator whose exceptional adaptability has derived, in large part, from the hodgepodge nature of its genome."



"The widespread evidence of intermixing has spurred a reassessment of the notion that hybrids are born failures. In its place a more nuanced view has taken hold: While hybridization can certainly be destructive, it may also expedite adaptation. New creatures may emerge seemingly overnight from cross-species mating. “Long after speciation, even nonsister species can actually exchange genes, some of which are useful,” James Mallet, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard, told me.

Indeed, today’s hybrids may signify more than just the erosion of biodiversity. They may signal a kind of resilience in the face of sudden environmental change."
biology  evolution  species  nature  animals  hybrids  hybridity  anthropocene  climatechange  crossbreeding  via:javierarbona  science  2014  biodiversity  genetics  environment  ecology  ecosystems 
august 2014 by robertogreco
pensamientos genericos - 10th Year Anniversary
"Tijuana’s Haunt
Rene Peralta

In Tijuana everybody seems to be a poet or a painter.
Anthem magazine (2004)1

Artistic practice in the border region has tended to be multidisciplinary in nature. The
mechanisms and infrastructures that support cultural production elsewhere are limited
or absent here, so this multidisciplinary model has been developed as a survival
mechanism, countering the lack of economic stability as well as academic and institutional
support. Economic and sociopolitical dynamics have encouraged the creation
of countless “alternative” praxes in the city of Tijuana, as artists have addressed contemporary
issues pertaining to the volatile life of the U.S.-Mexico border. The most
considerable experimentation has taken place in the realms of literature and visual art.
A search for an understanding of border identity has produced conceptual reflections
on the city from writers and academics alike, ranging from counterculture narratives to
works of postmodern theory.

The challenges that the region presents have led to an effort to reach a general or
open definition of “border” urban and social space. Néstor García Canclini became
an important influence in the rereading of social and urban space produced by an
incongruent urban visual system made up of constructions characterized by cultural
hybridity and their users. In his seminal text Hybrid Cultures: Strategies for Entering
and Leaving Modernity, hybridity is presented as an important concept through which
we can understand the processes that create the social and spatial conditions of
the border city. Canclini explains three processes that define the hybrid condition:
the breakup and mixture of the symbolic collections that organize cultural systems, the
deterritorialization of symbolic process, and the expansion of impure genres. Processes
combining decollection and deterritorialization have changed the structure of and
relationships between image and context as well as the semantic and historical references
that tie them together. In the space of the contemporary city, the lack of urban
regulation and a hybrid architectural culture create a mismatch of styles, together with
the interaction of monuments and advertising, situating the visual order and memory
of the city in heteroclite networks. Lastly, Canclini explains tensions of deterritorialization
and reterritorialization: the loss of innate relationships among culture, geography,
and social territories and at the same time territorial relocations of new and old
symbolic productions.2

Tijuana then is an example of this great hybrid experiment wherein the notion of
authentic culture and identity is no longer credible.



What is fascinating is the determination of the population to appropriate
urbanism and model it through their own idiosyncrasies. If a certain hybridism
characterized the informal self-built shacks, these mono-logical constructions include
seriality, production-line planning, and nonplace iconography as part of their pedigree. Architects have had a passive role in the construction of the urban realm. Major
urban developments have been made through forceful intervention, foreign and
national, in the name of decodifying the Mexican border with a national modern style
or marking it as a place of architectural decontextualization, as in the case of the Agua
Caliente Casino, designed in a Moorish/mission revival style for the mob by a San
Diego teenage draftsman named Wayne McAllister in 1928.6 Since its conception, this
city that the border created has had episodes of urban consolidation as well as
instances of rampant and irregular development. Art practices have evolved very efficiently
within the codes and concepts that define the urban border. It seems that urban
spatial practices still need to mature into elaborate multifunctional networks that can
find resources and mechanisms for a sense of criticality and adaptation. It may be that
in Tijuana everybody is (only) a poet or a painter, at least for now."
tijuana  2004  reneperalta  2008  art  design  architecture  urban  urbanism  nonplaces  border  borders  mexico  sandiego  multidisciplinary  survival  hybridity  deterritorialization  decollection  reterritorialization  culture  geography  heribertoyépez  néstorgarcíacanclini  literature  marcosramirezerre  jaimeruizotis 
april 2014 by robertogreco
AC2012 - Wanted, Dead or Alive: Critical Geographies of Human-Animal Encounters (1): Dead?
"The emergence of a ‘more-than-human geographies’ approach to the natural world has seen the dissolution of nature-culture binaries, challenged understandings of “the animal”, and heightened the appreciation of hybridity and subjectivities. Despite these important developments, it has been suggested that ‘something is lost’ with this analysis; and the danger of denying difference altogether remains (Castree, 2003). As Philo (2005: 829) reflects: ‘might it not be that the animals – in detail, up close, face-to-face, as it were – still remain somewhat shadowy presences? They are animating the stories being told, but in their individuality – as different species, even as individuals – they stay in the margins.’

This ambitious session strives to reconsider the original aims of the new animal geographies project, documenting all manner of encounters between humans and animals, showing the spatiality of human-animal orderi"ngs, and revealing how such relationships shaped ideas, practices…"
marginality  animalgeography  captivity  pets  philiphowell  haydenlorimer  islaforsyth  angelacassidy  danielallen  relationships  hybridity  2012  criticalgeographies  human-animalencounters  humans  animals 
june 2012 by robertogreco

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