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Making the Ordinary Visible: Interview with Yasar Adanali : Making Futures
"Yaşar Adanalı defines his work over the past decade as being that of a “part time academic researcher and part time activist”. He is one of the founders of the Center for Spatial Justice in Istanbul, an urban institute that focuses on issues of spatial justice in Istanbul and beyond. In this interview, he reflects upon “continuance” as a tool of engagement, the power of attending to the ordinary within the production of space, and the different types of public that this works seeks to address.

What led to the founding of the Center for Spatial for Justice and how does its work relate to the worlds of academia, activism and urbanism?

I’m interested in questions regarding spatial production in general and more specifically justice – the injustices that derive from spatial processes or the spatial aspect of social injustices. The Center for Spatial Justice takes the acronym MAD in Turkish – a MAD organisation against mad projects, that’s our founding moto. We bring together people from different disciplines such as architects, urban planners, artists, journalists, filmmakers, lawyers and geographers to produce work in relation to what’s going here: grassroots struggles in the city and in the countryside. The Center for Spatial Justice believes in the interconnectedness of urban and rural processes.

As educator and an activist, you work both within and outside an institutional setting. Have you been able to take the latter experience back into the academy and if so, what in particular? How do these two roles inform each other?

Since 2014 I have been teaching a masters design studio at TU Darmstadt. It’s a participatory planning course that both follows and supports a cooperative housing project in Düzce, Turkey, produced for and by the tenants who were badly affected by the 1999 earthquake. Over the course of the past five years, the master students have been developing a 4000 sq m housing project from scratch. The students from Darmstadt come to Istanbul as interns, working partly on the project. The result is a long-lasting relationship with the neighbourhoods in question and with the organisations we have been working with.

Apart from that, through MAD and Beyond Istanbul we develop summer and winter schools – non-academic experiences that similarly bridge the gap between the alternative universe and the mainstream universe. When you start to put critical questions into the minds of the students, these linger and they then take them back to the university, so their friends and professors also become exposed to that. We prefer to develop this approach outside of the university so that we are freed from bureaucracy and rigid structures but we keep it open to enrolled students and professors.

What are some particular strategies and methodologies that you adopt to engender this approach to urban practice? How do you involve local residents, for example?

That building of long-term relationships with communities is why we do a lot of walking. Our research questions are informed by the community and the site we arrive at – we do not predetermine hypotheses in advance. We remain in direct contact with different groups in the city and walk through these territories – with the neighbourhood association – not just once but every week. We listen to a lot of stories and record them. Oral histories are an important part of the ethnographic enquiry.

We also use mapping, a tool commonly used to exert power but that nature can be reversed. Through mapping we reclaim territories that have perhaps been “erased” – that is, transformed by injustice. We also map informal areas and then give those maps to the communities there because the way they appear on official plans often doesn’t reflect how things look on the ground. What looks like a carpark in the plan might be someone’s house; what’s represented as a commercial development might currently be a neighbourhood park or some other form of already existing social infrastructure.

In addition, we try to embed journalistic means within our academic interests, which is why we work with documentary journalists and photographers on each of our projects. We broadcast spatial justice news videos, in depth films that offer 8-10 minutes of reporting on a particular issue, giving it context and also pointing towards possible solutions. Solution journalism, which doesn’t just focus on crisis, is very important in the work we do.

As part of its work making spatial injustices visible, MAD publishes a wide range of materials. Which are the publics you try to communicate with through this?

Research has to be coupled with a conscious effort to communicate because you want to make change. We don’t want to make research for the sake of research or produce publications for the sake of publishing. We want to create those publics you allude to – and to influence them. We are addressing people involved in the discipline in its broadest sense: planners, architects, sociologists, activists, but perhaps most especially students who are interested in spatial issues, urban questions and environmental concerns. They are our main target. We want them to understand that their discipline has much more potential than what they are learning at university. I’m not saying the entire education system is wrong but there is much larger perspective beyond it and great potential for collaboration with other disciplines and engagement with different publics as well.

Another important public is the one directly involved with our work, i.e. the community that is being threatened by renewal projects. These groups are not only our public but also our patrons – we are obliged to be at their service and offer technical support, whether that’s recording a meeting with the mayor or analysing a plan together. Then there is the larger audience of broader society, who we hope to encourage to think of and engage with these issues of inequality and spatial justice.

I found an interesting quote on your webpage that says that the founding of MAD “is an invitation to understand the ordinary in an extraordinary global city context”. Can you talk a little about the urban context of Istanbul, Turkey and why the focus on the ordinary?

Everything about Istanbul is extraordinary: transformation, speed, scale. We are interested in making the ordinary visible because when we focus so much on the mega-projects, on the idea of the global city, then the rest of the city is made invisible. We look beyond the city centre – the façade – and beyond the mainstream, dominant discourse. This “ordinary” is the neighbourhood, nature and that which lies beyond the spectacle – other Turkish cities, for example. This approach can entail initiatives that range from historical urban gardening practices, working with informal neighbourhoods subject to eviction and relocation processes, or rural communities on the very eastern border currently threatened by new mine projects.

More specifically, today we live in an extraordinary state. The public arena is in a deep crisis and the democratic institutions and their processes do not really deserve our direct involvement right now. Having said that, there are different pockets within these systems, municipal authorities that operate differently, for example, and when we find these we work with them, but we remain realistic with regards to our limits. The “now” in Turkey has been lost in the sense that its relevance is not linked to the future beyond or to the next generation. That is a deep loss. But if you have the vision and the production means, if you set up a strong system, build the capacity first of yourself and then of the groups your work with, then when the right moment comes, all of these elements will flourish."
urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  cities  maps  mapping  neighborhoods  unschooling  deschooling  education  independence  lcproject  openstudioproject  justice  visibility  istanbul  turkey  ethnography  inquiry  erasure  injustice  infrastructure  socialinfrastructure  2018  rosariotalevi  speed  scale  transformation  walking  community  yasaradanali  space  placemaking  interconnectedness  interconnected  geography  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  socialjustice  architecture  design  film  law  legal  filmmaking  journalism  rural  engagement 
december 2018 by robertogreco
The Creative Independent: On exploring how to be online in radical ways [interview with Tara Vancil, co-creator of Beaker Browser]
"Web developer Tara Vancil discusses the peer-to-peer web, the current state of self-publishing, and the future of the internet."


"[Q] I love that Beaker has a built-in editor. There’s this all-in-one feel to it where you can browse and publish websites from the browser. I was curious what self-publishing means for you and why it’s important?

[A] Well, there’s this myth floating around on the web that the very first web browser, it was called WorldWideWeb, made by Tim Berners-Lee actually had an editor built into it. Now, I’ve never been able to 100% confirm this with him, or anybody, but there’s kind of just the shared history that goes around on the web, so I’m willing to believe it. When I found that out, it was really interesting because we had been building the early prototype of Beaker and it was quite different from what it is now. It did have a button that let you create a website from the browser, so self-publishing was a part of Beaker very early on. But we didn’t fully understand how important facilitating self-publishing would be. It was fairly recently that we decided to put in an editor. We thought it would be too much work to maintain, we thought people wouldn’t care, we thought they’d prefer to use their own editors. And then one day, we just realized like, “You know what? No, a browser really should help people participate in the web.”

So self-publishing, for me, is not necessarily about owning your content. It’s not all about enabling creativity. There are other tools that enable creativity. I think it’s about creating opportunities for the widest swath of people to participate on the web. I think right now, there are so many barriers that can pop up at any given moment when you decide, “I want to make an app, I want to make a game, I want to publish my portfolio, or I want to create an interactive art piece.” With Beaker, self-publishing is about reducing as many of those barriers as possible, so that literally everybody can have some hope of meaningfully participating on the web. Because why not? That’s what the web is. It’s this really strange thing.

I like to call the web humanity’s shared language. We’ve all come together, by some miracle, as a society to define a set of rules and technical standards about how we will communicate, how our computers will communicate with each other, and people all over the world use this. I mean, that’s pretty miraculous that we’ve managed to do that. So why shouldn’t everybody be able to build stuff on it, and share things on it? It seems really sad that right now that’s not the case, and I think it’s also boring.

[Q] There seems to be a general feeling that HTTP doesn’t provide a productive space any longer. Recently there’s been a lot of interest in going offline or just slowing down. I wanted to get your thoughts on the offline first movement and if you align yourself with it?

[A] Offline first is a funny concept to me because it’s rooted in both very corporate ideology and very anti-corporate ideology. So there’s one meaning for offline first, I think it was coined by Google, and this was a way for building applications such that low-power devices in places that have really bad connectivity could cache an application’s or website’s assets so that it can still function well. I think this is an honorable effort to build applications with the expectation that we don’t live in an equitable world, but we have to remember that a corporation like Google is motivated to do that because they want to sell more devices, and they want to further the reach of Gmail and their other tools.

And then there’s the other side of the movement, where offline first means something very different to another group of people. If you’ve heard of Secure Scuttlebutt, it’s a peer-to-peer online friends space. It’s a place for people to post content and share things with their friends without having to connect through something like Twitter or Facebook. And a lot of the folks that participated there in the early days were really interested in finding ways to live a little more independently, to maybe not depend entirely on the electrical grid, or to be able to live on a boat, or to maintain their own garden. I think that reflects an interest in slowing down, and a reaction to the speed of consumption that the web of today demands of us.

So at the end of the day, I think offline first—by both definitions—is rooted in the observation that we don’t live in an equitable world, and modern applications do not serve everybody. They don’t serve every kind of lifestyle. I’m definitely interested in living in a home with electricity and modern amenities but I’m also really interested in doing that responsibly, and I care a lot about my own sanity and other people being able to maintain their sanity in this hyper-connected world. I think a lot of us are perhaps exploring how we do that for the long-term. So I like being online and I want to continue being online, but I think looking to these communities that are exploring how to be online in radical ways, is really important.

[Q] Beaker is a good example of that. In my own exploration of the peer-to-peer web, I’ve needed to either be sent a link directly from somebody, or be in connection with the HTTP web to find websites on the p2p web. I’m curious what the longer-term goals are? Is it sort of like in tandem with the current web, or is the goal to replace HTTP with peer-to-peer protocols?

[A] Yeah, there’s an interesting effect on the peer-to-peer web where you kind of have to bootstrap your experience somehow. You either have to have a chat open with a friend so that you can send links between each other, or you need to have a curated list of websites and projects that you want to visit. And interestingly, I think that’s a problem that the HTTP web suffers from as well. It’s an aggregation problem. If you think back to the early days of the HTTP web, someone—or some company—had to go out there and crawl the web, and collect the links that they found, and then publish them somewhere. That’s just a fact of how networks work. It’s hard to aggregate content independently.

So I think what that means is that if the peer-to-peer web is going to become a part of the web as we know it, then so are search engines and aggregators. And maybe those search engines will use HTTP just because it’s easier for that purpose. Maybe not. I’m not sure that we need to replace HTTP entirely to fix what’s wrong with the web. I think we need to replace HTTP in cases where it encourages centralization of governance over our communities, and it discourages innovation and the ownership of our online experiences. That’s why I think it’s so important that people are able to publish their own websites, for example, because a website can be anything. It can be the place where you post your micro-blogs, like your tweets. It can be a place where you post blog posts, which is pretty obvious. It could be a place where you post photos or art projects, and I feel that the HTTP web makes it so difficult to do that right now. As a result, we’re cornered into the situation where we have to publish on Twitter, and Facebook, and Instagram. And that’s fine, those are pretty cool platforms, but they also constrain us, and I think we’re starting to understand the limits and the consequences of that.

[Q] It might be a positive thing that you can’t search the peer-to-peer web currently, in that it has to be such a personal connection where my friend will send me a link to a website. HTTP is a constant process of following links to other links. On the p2p web it’s more about accessing a page and then reading it to the end, and then maybe going offline after that.

[A] Yeah, there’s a certain finiteness to it, which is blissful at times. I’m not sure it’ll stay that way forever. There’s a lesson to be learned about how it feels to use the peer-to-peer web. I’ve found websites where I couldn’t believe I found them. It felt like I’d just stumbled upon a treasure. Like, “Wow, this person is out there and they’ve made this thing. I want to read everything they’ve posted,” and then that’s the end of it. It’s a really satisfying experience.

[Q] It also feels like you have to forget what you thought the web was when you’re approaching the p2p web. I find it pretty difficult to describe what the peer-to-peer web is, and I think maybe that’s not just me. It’s broad, it’s many different things, it’s multi-layered.

What does your ideal web look like?

[A] I want a web that I can build on. I love building on the web so much. To me, websites are my canvas. I grew up in a family that I think looked down on anything that smelled of creativity. I grew up hunting, watching football, and playing sports. There’s no creative exploration in that. I became exposed to the creative process fairly late in my life, and the canvas for me is websites. I love the feeling that I get when I sit down with a blank slate, and I know how to use the tools, I know how to wield HTML and CSS and bend it to my will. I want a web that is conducive to that, and I don’t want to just build standalone websites. I would love to build things that are meaningful to people, that have users, and then I want those users to be able to take what I’ve made and be able to shape it into something new.

On the web today, I feel like I can build something amazing, and I can go out and find people who want to use what I’ve built. But it’s a very rigid process. To build something, I first of all probably have to find investment because launching a service on the web, launching an app that’s actually going to get wide usage, is really, really expensive. So I think I want a web that makes that process cheaper, and distributes the cost of bandwidth and storage across its users. And then beyond that, I want a web that doesn’t try to lock down the experience of … [more]
beakerbrowser  taravancil  2018  publishing  self-publishing  online  internet  time  longevity  ephemeral  ephemerality  collaboration  technology  design  decentralization  radicalism  web  webdev  webdesign  seeding  p2p  peertopeer  http  dat  decentralizedweb  independence  hashbase  p2ppublishing  p2pweb  selfpublishing  distributed 
october 2018 by robertogreco
What It Would Take to Set American Kids Free | The New Yorker
"My trip coincided with the publication of “The Anti-Helicopter Parent’s Plea: Let Kids Play!” in the Times Magazine, a masterful bit of parental trolling whose comment section reached a symbolic two thousand and sixteen entries before it was closed. The dozens of adventure playgrounds in Tokyo offer, as a public amenity, what Mike Lanza (the “anti-helicopter parent” in question) says he created in his private Menlo Park, California, back yard: a challenging and unscheduled place for physical play that is largely free of parental supervision. Lanza is far from alone in believing that American children have a play problem. Take a look at Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids blog, which is peppered with reports of cops and child-protective services being called when parents leave their kids to play unsupervised. Lanza’s own book, “Playborhood,” describes the kids-can’t-play problem as both a social one and a spatial one. Without broader community support, such back-yard attempts at free play like his are doomed to become exercises in vanity. Look at them on the roof! My kids are more resilient than yours!

The overprogrammed, oversterilized, overprotected lives of (some of) America’s youth are the result of a nexus of changes to work life, home life, and street life that have made bringing up babies into a series of consumer choices, from unsubsidized day care forward. It is the public realm—where the Tokyo playgrounds operate—that needs to change for American children to have unstructured afternoons and weekends, for them to bike and walk between school and the playground, to see packs of kids get together without endless chains of parental texts. Kawasaki City, where Kodomo Yume Park is located, created its own Ordinance on the Rights of the Child, in 2001, which includes an article promising to make “secure and comfortable places for children.”

But independence requires infrastructure. Hanegi Playpark was founded in 1975 by Kenichi Omura, a landscape architect, and his wife Shoko Omura, an English teacher. They translated the key book on adventure play into Japanese and then travelled to Europe to meet with the woman who was their prime mover from the nineteen-fifties on: Lady Allen of Hurtwood. Lady Allen had seen the first such “junk playground” in Emdrup, outside Copenhagen, where it became a refuge for youth then under German occupation. She spent subsequent decades as a “propagandist for children’s play.” In Tokyo, a low crime rate and a society accustomed to community ownership of public space has created, around Hanegi and approximately thirteen other such parks, a city where there is more room for innocent error.

The road to Kodomo Yume Park (which means “children’s dream”) was narrow and winding, and there was no sidewalk for much of the way. And yet it was safe, because the tiny cars knew to look for pedestrians and cyclists, and drove at slower speeds. There were people in the houses and stores along the route, and few of the buildings were more than three or four stories tall, offering “eyes on the street” as well as adults who might be appealed to for help. The neighborhood, like the adventure playground, operated as a safety net, ready in case of trouble but not often deployed. A mother who was camped out at Yume Park with five children, the youngest a three-month-old, told me a story—hilarious for her—that would have been a nightmare for me. Her two-year-old, who had observed his five-year-old brother being sent to the corner to buy bread, decided he could do the same, and turned up at the shop with an empty wallet. I looked around at the protected bike lanes, the publicly funded playground workers, and the houses where people are home in the afternoon. Do I wish that my kids—who are five and nine**—**could roll on their own from school to the park, meet friends, and appear on the doorstep at 5 p.m., muddy, damp, and full of play? I do, but then I think of the Saturdays dominated by sports schedules, the windswept winter playgrounds, the kids hit by cars in crosswalks, with the light. It isn’t the idea of my kids holding a hammer or saw that scares me but the idea of trying to make community alone.

At the adventure playgrounds, the kids build the equipment they need under the hands-off supervision of play workers trained to facilitate but not to interfere. I’ve read the diary of the first play worker, John Bertelsen, who ran the adventure playground that Lady Allen visited at Emdrup. His account of the day-to-day in 1943 sounds quite similar to what I observed in 2016.
At 10:45 am today the playground opened . . . We began by moving all the building material in the open shed. Bricks, boards, fireposts and cement pillars were moved to the left alongside the entrance, where building and digging started right away. The work was done by children aged 4 to 17. It went on at full speed and all the workers were in high spirits; dust, sweat, warning shouts and a few scratches all created just the right atmosphere. The children’s play- and work-ground had opened, and they knew how to take full advantage of it.

The do-it-yourself rule is, to a certain extent, self-limiting, as towers built with simple tools are shorter than those ordered from catalogues. I saw plenty of children up on roofs—the rule was, if you can climb up without a ladder, relying on your own strength and ingenuity, it’s O.K. In a documentary on The Land, a Welsh adventure playground, a play worker describes the difference between risk and hazard: a risk you take on knowingly; a hazard is unexpected, like a nail sticking out of a board. The play workers are there to remove hazards and leave the risks.

Journalism about adventure play tends to emphasize the danger, but these spaces actually need to be seen as exceptionally porous community centers, in which lots of social activities, for parents and children, occur. “Risky play” is a way for children to test their own limits, and because the parks are embedded in residential communities they can do so at their own pace. Hitoshi Shimamura, who runs the organization Tokyo Play, told me that he has sessions to teach parents to use the tools, because their fear derived from their own lack of experience. Kids also need time to ease into the freedom and figure out which activity most appeals to them. If adventure play were to become permanent in New York, it would do better as a permanent fixture in a neighborhood than as a weekend destination. At a temporary adventure playground set up by Play:Ground on Governors Island this summer, a sign on the fence read, “Your children are fine without advice and suggestions,” though legally, children under six had to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The “adventure” can be with water, with tools, with real fire, or just with pretend kitchen equipment, allowing the parks to appeal to a broad array of children, and over a longer period of time. What this means, in practice, is a range of activity during days, weeks, or even years. In the morning, adventure playgrounds become settings for an urban version of a forest preschool, where small children learn the basics of getting along outdoors. In the afternoon, they become a place for older kids to let off steam between school and homework; many communities in Tokyo play a public chime at five in the afternoon—a mass call that is it time to go home. On the weekends, Yume Park might ring with the hammers of children, but for teen-agers there are other options: a recording studio with padded walls; a wooden shed piled with bike parts for the taking; a quiet, shaded place for conversation. Bertelsen wrote in his diary,
Occasionally, complaints have been made that the playground does not possess a smart enough appearance, and that children cannot possibly be happy playing about in such a jumble. To this I should only like to say that, at times, the children can shape and mould [sic] the playground in such a way that it is a monument to their efforts and a source of aesthetic pleasure to the adult eye; at other times it can appear, to the adult eye, like a pigsty. However, children’s play is not what the adults see, but what the child himself experiences.

One of my favorite moments in Tokyo occurred late one afternoon at a smaller adventure playground, Komazawa Harappa, a long sliver of space in a tight residential neighborhood, masked from the street by a simple hedge. Three kids fanned the flames in a fire pit; a baby padded about a dirty pool dressed in a diaper; two small boys, hammering on a house, had remembered to take their shoes off on the porch. But not everyone felt the need to be busy. Two teen-age girls had climbed up on the roof of the play workers’ house, via a self-built platform of poles and planks, and seemed deep in conversation. Suddenly, they began to sing, their clear voices ringing out over the open space."
alexandralange  children  unschooling  deschooling  community  2016  infrastructure  parks  playgrounds  adventureplaygrounds  risk  risktaking  hazards  japan  parenting  openstudioproject  messiness  johnbertelsen  kenishiomura  ladyallen  emdrup  copenhagen  tokyo  kodomoyumepark  srg  urban  urbanism  play  lenoreskenazy  hanegiplaypark  tools  dirt  order  rules  mikelanza  supervision  safety  independence  us  shokoomura  diy  risklyplay  lcproject  tcsnmt  sfsh 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Camilla Power: Did Gender Egalitarianism Make us Human? or, if Graeber and Wengrow won’t talk about sex … 15 March 2018 on Vimeo
"Camilla Power: Did gender egalitarianism make us human? or, if David Graeber and David Wengrow won't talk about sex and gender, it's not surprising they have almost nothing to say about equality or what drives change. Talk given on the picket line in the lobby of the Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW on 13 March 2018, organised by Anthrostrike: students supporting UCU lecturers' dispute.

Responding to Graeber and Wengrow's recent article 'How to change the course of human history (at least, the part that's already happened)' (Eurozine, 2018) and their earlier piece in JRAI 'Farewell to the "childhood of man": ritual, seasonality, and the origins of inequality' (2015), Camilla Power assesses their confusing claims about human 'origins' (or is that rather: some examples of upper palaeolithic archaeology in Europe and some old suppositions about where we come from), and highlights the question of equality as the crucial preliminary for a serious examination of the spread of social inequality. Power shows how, for evolutionary anthropology in this century, the recognition of female strategies and perspectives has become central to the understanding of how humans became what they are. A balance of power between the sexes was critical to the origin of symbolic culture and gender as our species emerged in Africa.

Camilla recommends for further reading:

'Introduction' to Human Origins: Contributions from Social Anthropology, edited by Camilla Power, Morna Finnegan and Hilary Callan, Berghahn, New York/Oxford, 2016
http://berghahnbooks.com/title/PowerHuman

'Egalitarianism and Machiavellian Intelligence in Human Evolution' by David Erdal and Andrew Whiten, in Modelling the Early Human Mind, edited by Paul Mellars and Kathleen Gibson, McDonald Institute, Cambridge, 1996, 139–150
http://researchgate.net/publication/273292486_Egalitarianism_and_Machiavellian_Intelligence_in_Human_Evolution

'Egalitarianism, Evolution of' by Cathryn Townsend in The International Encyclopaedia of Anthropology, edited by Hilary Callan Wiley Blackwell, Oxford, 2018
http://researchgate.net/publication/323126751_%27Egalitarianism_Evolution_of%27_2018_In_H_Callan_ed_%27The_International_Encyclopaedia_of_Anthropology%27_Wiley_Blackwell "
camillapower  egalitarianism  davidgraeber  davidwengrow  inequality  hunter-gatherers  equality  gender  humans  sex  archaeology  power  anthropology  mornafinnegan  hilarycallan  paulmellars  communism  mutualaid  evolution  kathleengibson  cathryntownsend  autonomy  independence  women  feminism  hierarchy  horizontality 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Capitalism and the Family
"Issues of gender and sexuality are dominating the American public in a way that has few precedents in the recent past. From the alarmingly open misogyny of the president to the cascading revelations of sexual attacks in the workplace on one side, to the energy behind the historic women’s marches on the other, gender relations have risen to the top of the political debate. In a wide-ranging conversation, historian Stephanie Coontz places the current juncture in historical perspective, and offers her thoughts on how gender relations have been affected by the recent stagnation in working-class incomes and skyrocketing inequality. She closes with an eloquent plea to integrate gender politics into a broader progressive political vision."
capitalism  families  history  us  economics  gender  sexism  feminism  2018  stephaniecoontz  politics  labor  work  inequality  class  donaldtrump  women  marriage  society  stability  independence  progressive  progress  via:samir 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Letting Go Of School In Order To Think About Education
"On all of my social media profiles I self-identify as “Educator” among other titles and descriptors. I chose “educator” because it’s an umbrella term which encompasses both doing and being. To educate others may include teaching, coaching, facilitating, or guiding; providing space, opportunities, materials, structure, collaborators, audience, relevance, push-back and acceptance. As an educator I create possibilities to be speaker and listener, instructor and learner, producer and consumer, writer and reader, expert and novice, role model and seeker, professional and amateur.

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

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

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

I don’t have the answer.

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

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

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

• practice being kind.

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

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

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

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

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

But where do I go with these ideas then?

* * *

The Answer To How Is Yes. (This is a book title you should look up) [https://www.worldcat.org/title/answer-to-how-is-yes-acting-on-what-matters/oclc/830344811&referer=brief_results ]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If that sounds ‘pie in the sky’ idealistic to you and me, that’s precisely the problem. To change what we have, there seem to be a lot of things we need to let go of. Idealism is not one of them, however."
sherrispelic  education  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  schools  learning  children  sfsh  doing  being  freedom  thinking  criticalthinking  evidence  pedagogy  authority  expertise  wisdom  interdependence  independence  help  self-advocacy  culture  society  needs  care  caring  childhood  empowerment  life  living  survival  humans  human  idealism  innovation  economics  capitalism  systemsthinking  neoliberalism  inequality  publicgood  engagement  canon  cv  openstudioproject  lcproject 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Ghost In the Machine
"Children, of course, come into the world as very powerful, highly competent learners, and the learning they do in the first few years of life is actually awesome. A child exploring the immediate world does that pretty thoroughly in an experiential, self-directed way. But when you see something in your immediate world that really represents something very far away -- a picture of an elephant, for example -- you wonder how elephants eat. You can't answer that by direct exploration. So you have to gradually shift over from experiential learning to verbal learning -- from independent learning to dependence on other people, culminating in school, where you're totally dependent, and somebody is deciding what you learn.

So that shift is an unfortunate reflection of the technological level that society has been at up to now. And I see the major role of technology in the learning of young children as making that shift less abrupt, because it is a very traumatic shift. It's not a good way of preserving the kid's natural strengths as a learner.

With new technologies the kid is able to explore much more knowledge by direct exploration, whether it's information or exploration by getting into his sources, or finding other people to talk about it. I think we're just beginning to see, and we'll see a lot more non-textual information available through something like the Web or whatever it develops into. So there will be much more opportunity to learn before running into this barrier of the limitations of the immediate."

[via: https://larrycuban.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/seymour-papert-on-how-computers-fundamentally-change-the-way-kids-learn/ ]
seymourpapert  sfsh  technology  mindstorms  edtech  learning  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  1999  exploration  computation  education  schools  constructivism  contsructionism  experientiallearning  self-directed  self-directedlearning  verballearning  dependence  independence  interdependence  society 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Delete Your Account Podcast: An American Colony
"On this episode, Kumars is joined by guest co-host Samantha Jacobs, a Chicago-based comedy writer and member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). Become a Patreon subscriber to hear our premium After Hours episode with Sam, in which we run the gamut from her PSL work to socialist memes, rap, and standup comedy. In the intro, we talk about the People's Congress of Resistance, a project of PSL and other organizations that Sam has been organizing around, as well as the health care debacle.

For the interview, Kumars and Sam talk to Sofía Gallisá Muriente, a Puerto Rican activist and artist who works mainly with video, photography, text and installation. Sofia's work has been displayed at the San Juan Poligraphic Triennial, Teorética, the Walker Art Center and the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires. She’s currently one of the co-directors of Beta-Local, a non-profit supporting art and critical thought in Puerto Rico. After learning about how Sofia became involved in politics, we learn the history of Puerto Rico's transition from a US colony to a "free associated state", a gimmick designed to relieve scrutiny of Puerto Rico's lack of sovereignty while still facilitating exploitation by US companies. Sofia explains how the current crises gripping Puerto Rico, caused or exacerbated by the US government, are rooted in the legacy of colonialism and enshrined in Puerto Rico's own constitution. Puerto Rico owes over $70 billion to foreign investors, money it is constitutionally required to pay back before it can spend a penny on social services. We also learn about the often overlooked $50 billion needed to fund Puerto Rico's pension system, as well as steep Medicaid cuts and loss of tax breaks affecting the island. We discuss the recent referendum on statehood vs. independence vs. status quo, boycotted by over 80% of the country. Sofia explains that no side of the debate has a plan for how to deal with the current crises, making the statehood vs. independence question less relevant. The only thing that is certain is that prevailing institutions will never save Puerto Rico, and alternative, grassroots structures must be built to weather the storm.

You can follow Sam on Twitter at @comradeSammy. You can check out Sofia's work at her website [http://hatoreina.com/ ]."
puertorico  history  2017  via:javierarbona  sofíagallisámuriente  kumarssalehi  samanthajacobs  us  politics  resistance  activism  sanjuan  betalocal  colonialism  exploitation  socialism  statehood  independence 
july 2017 by robertogreco
OUT NOW! Shitgulls and environmental education – SAND
"“We were standing at the edge of an uncovered compost area with the child. Rest of the children were further away. The area was filled with birds scavenging for food. A Seagull flew over our heads. ‘That’s a SHITgull!’ said the boy pointing at the bird. ‘My dad says they’re SHIT birds and they ought to be SHOT’ he said, looking at me.

The shitgull as a child–within–nature configuration was a fleeting bond that was simultaneously enabled by and transgressed the boundaries of ‘child’ and ‘nature’. The bird was looking for food when we interrupted him. Leftover food that had been collected from humans and dumped in the huge open compost. Causing seagulls, ravens, crows and magpies to flock and populate the compost heaps, attracting also rats and smaller rodents. Causing the landfill personnel to put up scarecrows and nets to which the birds would get tangled and hang flapping upside down until their slow death. Because of eating human waste. Shit. The relation between the Seagull and the boy was that of mutual disaffect and avoidance – of categorical, concrete and symbolic using of each other. The Seagull for food, the boy for seeking a let out for his feelings and confusion over his dad, it seemed. Without the bird, the boy could not have been an unhappy, angry, death-wishing child – an adamant and intentional non-child. Knowing that I take care of injured birds, plenty of seagulls included, his wish for the bird to be dead, pointed at me, was especially weighty. As the child declined his childness the bird declined his wildness. He survived on human waste and witnessed his fellow gulls dying, tangled in the nets above the compost. The ‘shitgull’ was an event of ill-being for all involved; yet it was an event of the utmost interdependence. An interdependence gone wrong.”"

[points to: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504622.2017.1325446 ]
multispecies  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  2017  pauliinarautio  riikkahohti  riita-marjaleinonen  tuuretammi  seagulls  gulls  animals  nature  birds  children  ravens  crows  corvids  magpies  interdependence  independence 
june 2017 by robertogreco
The Wonder Years: Creating a Middle School Launching Pad - Urban Planning and Design - architecture and design
"As a way of summarizing our findings, we created 10 “rules of the road” that we are continually referring to as a check on our design:

1. The range of growth between 6th and 8th grade is vast, but they’re all still just children.
2. Our children are transforming every day, so our school should too.
3. Retaining the benefits of grade-affiliation is crucial in the move toward project—and discipline-based work.
4. Middle school is the “starting point,” when you begin to become who you will be (as an adult).
5. Let’s leverage technology to provide two-way conversation, and have a ‘push-out’ / ‘pull-in’ dynamic.
6. We still need places for quiet and spaces for personal, sometimes sensitive conversations.
7. Aim to create a facility that encourages parents to “let go.”
8. Access to nature is a “need to have,” not a “nice to have.”
9. A happy faculty means happy students.
10. And, make it MAGIC.

Now here’s a deep-dive into what we discovered for each of the stakeholder groups:

6th Grade

Profile

We found that 6th graders need their own lane before they fully merge into the greater middle school community. This is their first taste of independence—their world just expanded! Although they experience massive change in maturity level from September to June, they still need space to play, both outdoors and in. This is a time to celebrate their imaginations because they are not yet self-conscious about risk-taking. Additionally, 6th graders still need help with organization, study skills and daily prep.

Design Strategies

We believe there should be a 6th grade-centric space that can close and open to the larger school. The design of the space will highlight creativity, provide ample areas to pin up/showcase work, minimize distractions, offer direct connection to the outdoors and create a space for play (maybe designed by kids). Overall, the 6th grade space will be a cozy, home-like atmosphere with bright colors.

7th Grade

Profile

Seventh graders are beginning to build awareness of the outside world and a desire to make a difference. Social life takes on a new importance, and they are ready to expand their world. With that said, they are still easily distracted, as well as awkward and insecure; they feel “stuck in the middle.” Seventh graders tend to have a strong connection to teachers, and while they are ready to make more of their own choices, creativity now feels risky. They are just beginning to attack “maker” activities.

Design Strategies

To cater to the needs of a 7th grader, the middle school environment needs hangout spaces, as well as distributed spaces for quiet group work/focus work. It’s critical to have visual and physical access to shared areas with 8th graders to provide exposure to mentorship. In terms of play, 7th graders need a connection to outdoors, age-appropriate play opportunities and access to “maker” space. The classroom should provide choice and flexibility with furniture, such as fidget chairs, that students can move on their own.

8th Grade

Profile

Eighth graders tend to be curious and intellectual, but not yet jaded. They are learning to think critically for the first time and handle ambiguity. They are ready to take on leadership roles and are increasingly interested in the “real world” and their place in it. As pre-teens who feel torn between childhood and adulthood, the social life of an 8th grader has started to expand beyond the school.

Design Strategies

Flexible classrooms will allow 8th grade students to toggle between learning modes, a learning style that hints at upper school culture. This age group needs central flex space for showcasing, broadcasting, making and talking about work, as well as places to sit and reflect.

Faculty

Profile

Middle school faculty are intensely dedicated to their students. Teachers are challenged to find private space to have sensitive conversations with students, parents, and colleagues, and they get stressed when limitations of space get in the way of delivering active education. They are always looking for moments of calm and focus.

Design Strategies

Middle school faculty need one-on-one meeting spaces, private phone space, “behind the scenes” teacher areas, tutoring/teaching bars, teacher-only bathrooms, access to beauty and nature to reduce stress, and places to sit and reflect.

Parents

Profile

Middle school parents are learning to let go. They don’t yet know how to handle their kids’ growing independence, so they need reassurance and communication from the school. They need to feel wowed and inspired by DE facilities, tech presence and student work. Additionally, children are embarrassed by parents’ presence on campus, and helicopter parents can be a distraction to both students and teachers.

Design Strategies

To fulfill the needs of both parents and students, the middle school should have a large lobby space with transparency to student work, but limited access to classrooms. The lobby will serve as an exhibit space for student projects and could feature a tech space as public face of school. The building should look fun, cool and tech-forward with two-way broadcasting.

What’s Next
We are currently in the process of interpreting and integrating these strategies into the design of the new middle school. Under the guidance of Dr. Rodney De Jarnett, Dwight-Englewood’s Head of School, we will be looking to create an environment where, in Dr. De Jarnett’s words, “our children, faculty, and parents will walk in and immediately feel something special.” Stay tuned for a design update in the coming months."
middleschool  sfsh  schools  schooldesign  2016  parenting  independence  quiet  children  education  learning  organization  studyskills  markthaler 
january 2017 by robertogreco
#183: On independence, part 3
"Last week I wrote about the myth of the independent artist—about how even going solo comes with its own systems and processes. I focused largely on the side of the myth that involves operation, and dissemination. This week I want to talk more from the other side—from the side of creative freedom.

One part of the myth involves how art is made in the first place—that it’s a matter of having an idea, and putting atoms to it, making it materialize out of thin air. Or not even thin air, but the thinnest air—in a vacuum. If the creator has complete freedom (or control), the myth goes, then that vision will be realized.

If you’ve been getting my letters for a while, you can probably already guess: it doesn’t work like this in practice. The making of art is less an explosion in a vacuum than it is the growth of a tree in the forest. We share a common soil and air; we respond to the shade of other trees; we look for gaps into which to grow. We exist in the world, in the culture, and the art we make is reflective of our personal, psychological, social, physical, cultural ecosystems. The practice is the daily exchange we make between ourselves and our community; we inhale the world and exhale it, too—a photosynthesis, a conversion, conversation. The work is that conversation captured, distilled.

There is no such thing as total independence. When we talk about independence what we are really talking about is the authority to decide who and what to serve. Real independence is getting to pick your masters. It’s willing obedience to people and systems. It’s the acknowledgement of interdependence, the awareness that no one is entirely free from outside influence.

The creative environment most supportive of real independence—an established system or new and alternative systems—depends on the individual artist. The authority is an internal authority, yet it’s external, too—subject to its own influence. It’s circular in the way that all important things are.

I’m not sure if that makes sense. But I seem to have ended up where I usually end up, and that is: Don’t sweat the labels. Listen to the work. Listen to the world around you, and the world inside. They will, like they always do, tell you everything you need to know."
jackcheng  2017  independence  listening  choice  systems  process  art  interdependence 
january 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Four - John Berger: The Art of Looking
[video currently available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3VhbsXk9Ds ]

"Art, politics and motorcycles - on the occasion of his 90th birthday John Berger or the Art of Looking is an intimate portrait of the writer and art critic whose ground-breaking work on seeing has shaped our understanding of the concept for over five decades. The film explores how paintings become narratives and stories turn into images, and rarely does anybody demonstrate this as poignantly as Berger.

Berger lived and worked for decades in a small mountain village in the French Alps, where the nearness to nature, the world of the peasants and his motorcycle, which for him deals so much with presence, inspired his drawing and writing.

The film introduces Berger's art of looking with theatre wizard Simon McBurney, film-director Michael Dibb, visual artist John Christie, cartoonist Selçuk Demiral, photographer Jean Mohr as well as two of his children, film-critic Katya Berger and the painter Yves Berger.

The prelude and starting point is Berger's mind-boggling experience of restored vision following a successful cataract removal surgery. There, in the cusp of his clouding eyesight, Berger re-discovers the irredeemable wonder of seeing.

Realised as a portrait in works and collaborations, this creative documentary takes a different approach to biography, with John Berger leading in his favourite role of the storyteller."
2016  johnberger  documentary  towatch  simonmcburney  michaeldibb  johnchristie  selçukdemiral  jeanmohr  katyaberger  yvesberger  waysofseeing  seeing  looking  noticing  biography  storytelling  skepticism  photography  rebellion  writing  howwewrite  collaboration  canon  conspirators  rebels  friendship  community  migration  motorcycles  presence  being  living  life  interestedness  interested  painting  art  history  france  belonging  place  labor  home  identity  work  peasants  craft  craftsmanship  aesthetics  design  vision  cataracts  sight  teaching  howweteach  attention  focus  agriculture  memory  memories  shit  pigs  humans  animals  childhood  perception  freedom  independence  storytellers  travelers  nomads  trickster  dead  death  meaning  meaningmaking  companionship  listening  discovery  understanding  sfsh  srg  books  publishing  television  tv  communication  engagement  certainly  uncertainty 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Alternative Art School Fair Radio | Clocktower
"The Alternative Art School Fair at Pioneer Works presents an introduction to alternative art schools from around the US and the world, November 19-20, 2016. The entire event, including workshops, discussions, and keynote presentations by Carol Becker, Luis Camnitzer, Craig Wilkins and Dorothea Rockburne, will be streamed live and archived on clocktower.org.

See the radio schedule below to plan your listening party. The live listening link can be found HERE.

Art education is a reflection of social and cultural evolution; it engages with structures of meaning-making and considers different frameworks for experience. The impetus to create an alternative art school is rooted not only in a desire to create “better” art, but to create the conditions for greater freedom of expression. Often run as free, artist-run initiatives, the values and visions of alternative art schools vary widely in methodology, mission and governance. But even when they are relatively small in scale they provide vital models of cultural critique and experimentation.

Listening Schedule:
November 19
Keynote panel -- 12:00-1:30PM
Carol Becker
Luis Camnitzer
Dorothea Rockburne
Victoria Sobel
Interviewer/Moderator: Catherine Despont

How can alternative systems impact traditional arts education? -- 2-3:30PM
Ox-Bow
Daniel Bozhkov
School of the Future
Interviewer/Moderator: Regine Basha

Art and Democracy -- 3:45-5:15PM
UNIDEE
The Black Mountain School
UOIEA (Anna Craycroft)
Interviewer/Moderator: Provisions Library

Self-Governance as Pedagogy: Of Other Spaces -- 5:30-7:30PM
Art and Law Program
Interviewer/Moderator: Associate Director Lauren van Haaften-Schick
Art & Law Program Fellows: Abram Coetsee & Alex Strada (Fall 2016), Damien Davis (Spring 2016)

November 20
Keynote -- 12:00-1:30PM
Dr. Craig L. Wilkins, PhD, RA

Hybrid Practice -- 2:00-3:30PM
SFPC
Zz School of Print Media
Southland Institute
Interviewer/Moderator: Archeworks

Responsive Programming: A Conversation Between The Ventriloquist Summerschool and Sheila Levrant de Bretteville -- 3:45-5:15PM
The Ventriloquist Summerschool
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville

(Re)incorporating Art in Everyday Life -- 5:30-7:00PM
Chad Laird (Sunview Luncheonette)
Tal Beery (School of Apocalypse)
Tatfoo Tan (NERTM)
Moderator/Interviewer: Grizedale Arts"
tolisten  education  altgdp  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  schools  artschools  2016  radio  art  pioneerworks  alternative  diy  small  democracy  local  play  self-directed  self-directedlearning  unschooling  deschooling  architecture  nyc  brooklyn  chicago  uk  guatemala  london  egypt  puertorico  sanjuan  northcarolina  portonovo  benin  statenisland  design  michigan  saugatuck  curriculum  pedagogy  learning  howelearn  organizations  cooperatives  publishing  networks  fairfax  virginia  losangeles  oslo  accrá  edinburgh  making  craft  mexicocity  mexicodf  df  mexico  noray  stavanger  paris  france  brussels  mutlidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  kansascity  missouri  seoul  biella  italia  italy  systemsthinking  socialjustice  independence  carolbecker  victoriasobel  reginebasha  transart  marywallingblackburn  craigwilkins  sheilalevrantdebretteville  michaelnewton  shannonharvey  hragvartanian  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  communication  technology  socialnetworks  artschool 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Alternative Art School Fair | Pioneer Works
[See also: The Alternative Art School Fair Radio
http://clocktower.org/series/the-alternative-art-school-fair-radio ]

"The Alternative Art School Fair
November 19-20, 2016

The Alternative Art School Fair presents an introduction to alternative art schools from around the US and the world.

Art education is a reflection of social and cultural evolution; it engages with structures of meaning-making and considers different frameworks for experience. The impetus to create an alternative art school is rooted not only in a desire to create “better” art, but to create the conditions for greater freedom of expression. Often run as free, artist-run initiatives, the values and visions of alternative art schools vary widely in methodology, mission and governance. But even when they are relatively small in scale they provide vital models of cultural critique and experimentation.

The Alternative Art School Fair event, including workshops, discussions, and keynote presentations by Carol Becker, Luis Camnitzer, Craig Wilkins and Dorothea Rockburne, will be streamed live and archived by Clocktower Productions on clocktower.org.

Media Sponsor:
Hyperallergic

Participating Schools

AAPG – Alternative Art Program Guatemala • AltMFA • Anhoek School • Archeworks • Arts Letters & Numbers • ASCII Project • Beta-Local • Black Mountain School • Brooklyn Institute for Social Research • Center for Art Analysis • COLLABOR • école de Hogbonu • Enroll Yourself • Free School of Architecture • Islington Mill Art Academy • Grizedale Arts • Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists' Residency • NERTM - New Earth Resiliency Training Module • Nomad/9 • Pioneer Works • School of Apocalypse • School of Critical Engagement - SoCE • School of the Future • School for Poetic Computation • SOMA • Sommerskolen • Spring Sessions • Sunview Luncheonette • The Art & Law Program • The Black School • The Other MA - TOMA • The Public School • The School of Making Thinking • The Southland Institute • The Ventriloquist Summerschool • The Zz School of Print Media • Thinker Space • Transart Institute • Uncertainty School • UNIDEE - University of Ideas • Utopia School

Presses, Libraries, Resources

Arthur Fournier Fine and Rare • Booklyn • Brooklyn Art Library • Common Field • Inventory Press • OSSAI - Open Source and Space Administration Institute for Alternative Research • Provisions Library • Sketchbook • Project Zone Books

Saturday Schedule … [with session descriptions]

Sunday Schedule … [with session descriptions]

Schools [and a few other things, as noted, website links to descriptions, and to each school’s site if there is one]

AltMFA
London, United Kingdom

Alternative Art College
United Kingdom

Alternative Art Program
Guatemala

Anhoek School
Brooklyn, New York, USA

Antiuniversity Now
London, United Kingdom

Archeworks
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Arts Letters & Numbers
New York, USA

ASCII Project
Mohansein Giza, Egypt

Beta-Local
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Black Mountain School
Black Mountain, North Carolina, USA

GALLERY
Booklyn
Brooklyn, New York, USA

LIBRARY
Brooklyn Art Library
Brooklyn, New York, USA

SCHOOL
Brooklyn Institute for Social Research
Brooklyn, NY, USA

NETWORK
Common Field
National

école de Hogbonu
Porto Novo, Bénin

Enrol Yourself
London, United Kingdom

BOOKSTORE
Fournier Fine & Rare
Brooklyn, New York, USA

Grizedale Arts
Coniston, Lake District, UK

PRESS
Inventory Press
New York, New York, USA

New Earth Resiliency Training Module [NERTM]
Staten Island, NY, USA

Nomad/9 MFA
Hartford, Connecticut, USA

RESOURCE
Open Source and Space Administration Institute for Alternative Research [OSSAI]
nomadic

Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency
Saugatuck, Michigan, USA

Pioneer Works
Brooklyn, New York, USA

LIBRARY
Provisions Library
Fairfax, Virginia, USA

Ricean School of Dance
Hydra Island, Greece

School of Apocalypse
Brooklyn, New York, USA

School of Critical Engagement [SoCE]
Los Angeles / Oslo / Accra

School of the Future
Brooklyn, New York, USA

School for Poetic Computation
New York, NY, USA

Shift/Work
Edinburgh, Scotland

Spring Sessions
Amman, Jordan

SOMA
Mexico City, Mexico

Sommerskolen
Stavanger, Norway

Southland Institute
Los Angeles, California, USA

Sunview Luncheonette
Brooklyn, New York, USA

The Art & Law Program
New York, New York, USA

The Black School
Brooklyn, New York, USA

The Cheapest University
Paris, France

The Free School of Architecture
Los Angeles, California, USA

The Public School
Brussels, New York City, Los Angeles, and elsewhere

The School of Making Thinking
Brooklyn, New York, USA

The School of the Damned
London, United Kingdom

The Ventriloquist Summerschool
Oslo, Norway

The Zz School of Print Media
Kansas City, Missouri, USA

ThinkerSpace
Brussels, New York City, Los Angeles, and elsewhere

TOMA
Southend-on-Sea, United Kingdom

Transart Institute
Berlin, Germany, and New York, New York, USA

Uncertainty School
Seoul, New York, International

UNIDEE-University Of Ideas
Biella, Italy

Union of Initiatives for Educational Assembly (UOIEA)
Sites vary

PRESS
Zone Books
Brooklyn, NY, USA"
altgdp  art  artschools  pioneerworks  2016  alternative  diy  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  small  democracy  local  play  self-directed  self-directedlearning  unschooling  deschooling  architecture  nyc  brooklyn  chicago  uk  guatemala  london  egypt  puertorico  sanjuan  northcarolina  portonovo  benin  statenisland  design  michigan  saugatuck  curriculum  pedagogy  learning  howelearn  organizations  cooperatives  publishing  networks  fairfax  virginia  losangeles  oslo  accrá  edinburgh  making  craft  mexicocity  mexicodf  df  mexico  noray  stavanger  paris  france  brussels  mutlidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  kansascity  missouri  seoul  biella  italia  italy  systemsthinking  socialjustice  independence  carolbecker  victoriasobel  reginebasha  transart  marywallingblackburn  craigwilkins  sheilalevrantdebretteville  michaelnewton  shannonharvey  hragvartanian  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  communication  technology  socialnetworks  artschool 
december 2016 by robertogreco
With a little help from my (edu)friends – Jonathan D. Becker, J.D., Ph.D.
"If you were to meet my son, you wouldn’t immediately notice anything “atypical,” especially if you’re an adult; he loves talking to adults. He doesn’t have much use for other kids, though.  And, that’s pretty characteristic of kids on the spectrum. He has some other pretty classic non-neurotypical features as well. For example, he has some pretty serious sensory integration challenges. Big crowds and loud cacophonous spaces are a problem for him. He’s never worn jeans; he always wears sweatpants or shorts. I could go on…

Schools are designed for neurotypical kids, especially public schools, I would argue. But, my son never went to public school. From preschool through 4th grade, he attended a small, progressive independent school with a “child-centered” orientation1. And, I love this school dearly. I’m on the board of directors. My daughter is thriving there. My son never did. He just never wanted to be in school, anywhere.

In an article about the school from 6 years ago
[http://www.styleweekly.com/richmond/the-power-of-play/Content?oid=1441743 ], the Executive Director said of the school that “…the approach isn’t right for every child — an extremely introverted kid, or a fiercely independent learner, or one that learns better in a more structured school environment, for example.”

Fiercely independent learner. That’s exactly my son."
schools  homeschool  unschooling  education  2016  schooling  neurodiversity  parenting  diversity  introverts  independence  howwelearn  howweteach  allsorts 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Learning Despite School — LifeLearn — Medium
"While organised education and deliberate, goal-oriented practice has its place, and is indeed critical, it needs to be balanced with the development of social competence and intrinsic motivation. The vast majority of learning happens in informal social situations within communities of like minded people, where individuals take initiative and learn to work with other people in meaningful settings. Schools may hinder this important avenue of growth and increase stress and anxiety.

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

The role of informal learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Finnish schools enable informal learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Balancing academic, social and physical development

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

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

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

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

Summary

A clear majority of learning for any individual happens in informal settings. While formal education and on-the-job training play a role, they will be more effective if they can acknowledge and accommodate informal learning that individuals will engage in regardless. In practice this means at least giving time for non-directed social activities, reflection, and physical activities. In addition, utilising learners’ own life interests in making formal training more engaging and relevant will increase learning outcomes significantly. Combining formal and informal is at the core of learner-centric approaches."
education  unschooling  deschooling  learning  informal  informallearning  schools  social  training  finland  play  competition  freeplay  howwlearn  howweteach  teaching  hobbies  constructivism  experimentation  2016  schedules  time  independence  timemanagement  planning  criticalthinking  accountability  metacognition  laotzu  tarmotoikkanen  competence  motivation  stress  anxiety 
july 2016 by robertogreco
My Favorite Vacation: Summer Camp - The New York Times
"Camp days unfurled through hours of things utterly foreign to me: tennis, and beadwork, and operetta (yes, we sang farces, in French, of course) and swimming, miles of swimming in water so cold we would feel as if our hearts and lungs would explode in those first few weeks of summer. Water so dark we couldn’t see our fingers as they pulled through a stroke.

My childhood had been one of public school days, then hours at the piano practicing for the competitions in which my mother would enroll me, then hours and hours of homework. I didn’t have “play dates” — what a waste of time, and besides, these American girls weren’t properly raised, and their mothers! They wasted time playing tennis, and gardening. I certainly wasn’t allowed to participate in anything that involved balls hurtling at me at high speeds. I might break a finger.

Suddenly, my life was one long, wonderful play date. I developed deep friendships, with people of my choosing, and we not only talked about everything, a first for me, but we did things together. Active, sporting things."



"I am a creature of habit. When I find somewhere I like, I settle. I don’t have a bucket list of places I want to see before I die. But I do have a bucket list of ways I want to live until I die. When I visit any new place, I’m filled with fantasies of how, exactly, I could live in a cottage on the coast of Wales, or a beach shack on the shores of Baja. Easily. What I learned at camp was that I love the absorption into a communal culture, with its structures and values, but that I also enjoy that as a springboard for testing my limits, and that engaging with the magic and beauty of our natural world is deeply meaningful, and comforting, to me. I never want to be far from water, and I need a fireplace.

Eventually, the camp closed down. On its site is a state park. But a few times in my life, I’ve fallen in love with houses in which I could recreate some sense of the freedom, discovery and splendor of those days. Houses that were rough and creaky and could be opened to the outdoors without worry of what damp air might do to them. Houses against which I could bank up kayaks and canoes. Houses where I could garden, because I can give myself permission to get my hands dirty.

Continue reading the main story
One of the first things I do, wherever I spend my summer vacations, is to find the spot for a campfire. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to mix a Manhattan, head into the woods surrounding my house in Rhode Island, set up my campfire, and watch it burn.

I have a dear friend from camp days who lives nearby in summer. She and her spouse came over one evening with their young children. I had all the activities planned: the walk on the mossy path, the search for a salamander that had mysteriously appeared on my doorstep, and a campfire.

I had piled it high, carefully structured, just as I had been taught. I lit a match to it while the children sat on a couple of big rocks I had had dragged up to form a circle, and as the sky darkened, and the flames began flicking high up into the air, my dear old camp friend and I burst spontaneously into the song that always started campfires, a song neither of us had sung out loud in front of anyone in, who knows, probably 40 years. “Entendez-vous dans le feu”:

“Entendez-vous dans le feu, Tous ces bruits mystérieux?” (“Do you hear, in the fire, all those mysterious noises?”)

The children were saucer-eyed. So this is what grown-ups do at night. So this is the magic and mystery and pleasure of a fire to guard against the dark. And I was enthralled, too, watching those dear faces gathered around the fire. So this is love. And this is being a grown-up camper in the world, forever young enough to wonder at the mystery and magic and pleasure of it all."
summercamp  dominique  browning  2016  fire  campfires  camp  homes  exploration  learning  howwelean  independence  freedom 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The American Dream Is Alive in Finland - The Atlantic
"If the U.S. presidential campaign has made one thing clear, it’s this: The United States is not Finland. Nor is it Norway. This might seem self-evident. But America’s Americanness has had to be reaffirmed ever since Bernie Sanders suggested that Americans could learn something from Nordic countries about reducing income inequality, providing people with universal health care, and guaranteeing them paid family and medical leave.

“I think Bernie Sanders is a good candidate for president … of Sweden,” Marco Rubio scoffed. “We don’t want to be Sweden. We want to be the United States of America.”

“We are not Denmark,” Hillary Clinton clarified. “We are the United States of America. … [W]hen I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families.”

Opportunity. Freedom. Independence. These words are bound up with American identity and the American Dream. The problem is that they’re often repeated like an incantation, with little reflection on the extent to which they still ring true in America, and are still exceptionally American.

Anu Partanen’s new book, The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life, argues that the freedom and opportunity Americans cherish are currently thriving more in Nordic countries than in the United States. (The Nordic countries comprise Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Finland.) But she also pushes back—albeit gently—against the trendy notion that Nordic countries are paradises.

Partanen is an unusual messenger. After all, her personal story is a testament to the Land of Opportunity’s enduring magnetism and vibrancy; she recently became a U.S. citizen, after moving from her native Finland to the United States in part because she felt she was more likely to find work as a journalist in New York City than her American husband was as a writer in Helsinki. But her time in America has also convinced her that Finland and its neighbors are doing a better job of promoting a 21st-century version of the American Dream than her adoptive country.

Partanen’s principal question is the following: What’s the best way for a modern society to advance freedom and opportunity? She explains that Nordic governments do so by providing social services that the U.S. government doesn’t—things like free college education and heavily subsidized child care. Within that big question, Partanen poses more pointed questions about contemporary life in the United States: Is “freedom” remaining in a job you hate because you don’t want to lose the health insurance that comes with it? Is “independence” putting your career on hold, and relying on your partner’s income, so you can take care of a young child when your employer doesn’t offer paid parental leave or day care is too expensive? Is “opportunity” depending on the resources of your parents, or a bundle of loans, to get a university degree? Is realizing the American Dream supposed to be so stressful?

“What Finland and its neighbors do is actually walk the walk of opportunity that America now only talks,” Partanen writes. “It’s a fact: A citizen of Finland, Norway, or Denmark is today much more likely to rise above his or her parents’ socioeconomic status than is a citizen of the United States.” The United States is not Finland. And, in one sense, that’s bad news for America. Numerous studies have shown that there is far greater upward social mobility in Nordic countries than in the United States, partly because of the high level of income inequality in the U.S.

In another sense, though, it’s perfectly fine to not be Finland. As Nathan Heller observed in The New Yorker, the modern Nordic welfare state is meant to “minimize the causes of inequality” and be “more climbing web than safety net.” Yet the system, especially in Sweden, is currently being tested by increased immigration and rising income inequality. And it’s ultimately predicated on a different—and not necessarily superior—definition of freedom than that which prevails in America. “In Sweden,” Heller argued, “control comes through protection against risk. Americans think the opposite: control means taking personal responsibility for risk and, in some cases, social status.”

Last week, I spoke with Partanen about what she feels Nordic countries have gotten right, where they’ve gone wrong, and why, if Finland is really so great, she’s now living in America. An edited and condensed transcript of our conversation follows.

Uri Friedman: You make an argument in the book that if you think about the American Dream in a certain way—if you define it in terms of opportunity, independence, and freedom—it is actually flourishing in the Nordic region more than in the United States. Why?

Anu Partanen: For a long time now, we’ve all, both in the United States and in Europe, thought that the United States is the land of freedom. For a long time, it was certainly true: American democracy was leading the way, the American middle class was the wealthiest. America was really the place where you could make your own life and you could decide who you wanted to be and pursue the dream.

When I moved to the United States in 2008, that was the idea I had. [But] when I came here, I was actually surprised [to learn that] people were very anxious. They were in many ways very dependent on their circumstances, the opposite of being a self-made woman or man. And a lot of this is related to family: if, [when] you were a child, your parents could provide opportunities, if they could offer you a life in a good neighborhood, offer you a life in a good school.

…"
culture  economics  europe  finland  us  policy  norway  denmark  sweden  iceland  freedom  independence  opportunity  denamrk  anupartanen  urifriedman  democracy  socialism  inequality  middleclass  income  incomeinequality  immigration  taxes  daycare  healthcare  health  qualityoflife  government  society  nathanheller  politics 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — John Holt, How Children Learn Children do not...
"After I re-read that section, I was reminded of Laurence Weschler writing about David Hockney, and how “interest-ing” for Hockney is a verb: it is the continual projection of interest. (The more you look at something, the more interesting it gets.) This was certainly the case with me after I started reading this book, and Holt in general: I, who felt like a somewhat enlightened parent, started noting all the ways I wasn’t paying attention to them, and over time, they have become more interesting to me, not because I’m doting on them more, or even spending more time with them, but because I am looking at them like little scientists, or just little people, who are worthy of interest. (It sounds so stupid: of course a parent should find their kids interesting, but think about how many parents and teachers and adults you know — maybe including yourself — who, secretly, probably don’t.)

Holt’s work has really shaken me up, blown my mind, and given me a different way of thinking about my kids. Some of my favorite bits, below."
johnholt  howchildrenlearn  education  learning  children  trust  austinkleon  lawrencewescheler  davidhockney  art  interestedness  interested  interesting  attention  payingattention  noticing  parenting  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  librarians  teachers  purpose  belonging  work  community  conversation  cv  pacing  meaningmaking  unschooling  deschooling  departmentalization  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  control  independence  anxiety  howchildrenfail  testing  assessment  reggioemilia  punk  games  play  standardizedtesting  love  2016  listening 
july 2016 by robertogreco
In Praise of the Field Trip - Teacher in a Strange Land - Education Week Teacher
"I wondered--what is this field trip's ultimate purpose? How will the students apply what they have learned? What are their takeaways?

And--because these are the questions we hear most often in national policy discussion--was this content standards-based? Could it be delivered (and measured) more efficiently and effectively? Say, in a video or interactive computer game?

I'm going to go ahead and answer that question: No.

There is no replacement for the field trip. I know buses are expensive, ticket costs are soaring, and taking 30 ,60 or 100 kids on the road--even for a half day--is a monumental, fraught undertaking. But sometimes, you have to get out of Dodge, into the wider world.

Because leaving the desks and playground behind is much more than a treat, or a reward. It is--when done well--exactly what we should be doing with all children: making it possible for them to explore their world, sample new sights and sounds, interact in different ways. It's even common for children to experience local landmarks and institutions for the first time on a field trip.

A field trip is much more than just fitting new objects, buildings or facts into a mental framework, however. It's understanding that someone's mom or dad has volunteered to watch over you for a day, and must be listened to, and respected. It's the anticipation of a new experience. It's managing lunch, directional signs, backpack and a new restroom. It's being on your own in a roomful of precious objects, listening to an expert who isn't your teacher, and isn't on a screen.

Puff pieces on virtual field trips appear frequently in edu-media. These can be great supplementary instructional materials--pre-packaged, targeted to specific learning goals, a virtual glimpse of the Smithsonian for kids who live in rural Montana. But the non-virtual field trip--probably because it's not easy to set up and accomplish, and always subject to the unpredictable-- lingers in students' memory.

I remember clearly going to Deer Park, the "first grade trip" at Orchard View Elementary, and feeding deer from a flat-bottomed ice cream cone. There were brightly painted plywood cottages and a playground, and we ate our sack lunches at picnic tables. Awesome sauce. (This was the 1950s, mind you, when my family got two black-and-white channels on our new TV set.)

Here are some indelible things I learned on that trip: Deer can be friendly, but are not tame. Their most critical sense is smell, and they have a difficult time seeing the color red. Also: some of the room mothers who chaperoned the trip were smokers, lighting up their Pall Malls outside the fence at lunch, while other moms tut-tutted back at the picnic tables. (You might call that social-cue learning...)

Most of the enthusiasm for virtual field trips is prefaced by the assertion that a computer-based experience is cheap--or even free (with the obvious assumption, of course, that you have "free" devices for every child--and those devices all operate perfectly). In a time when students spend so much time being entertained, drilled and emotionally jolted in front of screens, why wouldn't you opt for a first-hand experience, even if the content was more pedestrian--the fire house, the local library or the apple orchard?

The Michigan Historical Center, in Lansing, offers a five-day immersive experience for local classrooms, bringing students to the museum every day for a week. Students are not led past exhibits (or sent on competitive "treasure hunts")--but instead sit down for discussion, sketching items, journal-writing and share-outs around essential questions about how Michigan was settled and shaped. Margaret Holtschlag, who developed the Big History Lesson program, in 1999, understood the value of letting questions bubble up, allowing students time to wonder what an unfamiliar farm implement might do--or what the impact of a wave of immigrants might mean to an industry or region.

So why don't more museums, zoos, galleries and science centers offer week-long, in-depth programs? It's not the money--money can be raised or donated. It's fear about the time away from tested skills and content. Think about that.

I looked around for the obvious teacher(s) at the MIM, thinking to approach and compliment them on their students' behavior and enthusiasm, and to congratulate them on whatever preparation had made the kids so responsive and excited about the musical wonders they were immersed in. But I couldn't tell which of the adults was Teacher. That, in itself, is success.

Go see the MIM, if you're in Phoenix. It's incredible. I hope you get lucky and go on a day when the place is delightfully full of schoolkids."
fieldtrips  curriculum  nancyflanagan  2016  schools  education  howweteach  howwelearn  teaching  experience  social  independence  society  vr  virtualreality  technology  edtech 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Personal and Personalized Learning ~ Stephen Downes
"We hear the phrase ‘personalized learning’ a lot these days, so much so that it has begun to lose its meaning. Wikipedia tells us that it is the “tailoring of pedagogy, curriculum and learning environments by learners or for learners in order to meet their different learning needs and aspirations.” i

Even this short definition provides us with several dimensions across which personalization may be defined. Each of these has been the subject of considerable debate in the field:
• Pedagogy – do we need to differentiate instruction according to student variables or ‘learning styles’, or is this all a big myth?
• Curriculum – should students study the same subjects in the same order, beginning with ‘foundational’ subjects such as reading or mathematics, or can we vary this order for different students?
• Learning environments – should students work in groups in a collaborative classroom, or can they learn on their own at home or with a computer?

In personalized learning today, the idea is to enable technology to make many of these decisions for us. For example, adaptive learning entails the presentation of different course content based on a student’s prior experience or performance in learning tasks.

What these approaches have in common, though, is that in all cases learning is something that is provided to the learner by some educational system, whether it be a school and a teacher, or a computer and adaptive learning software. And these providers work from a standard model of what should be provided and how it should be provided, and adapt and adjust it according to a set of criteria. These criteria are determined by measuring some aspect of the student’s performance.

This is why we read a lot today about ‘learning analytics’ and ‘big data’. The intent behind such systems is to use the data collected from a large number of students working in similar learning environments toward similar learning outcomes in order to make better recommendations to future students. The ‘optimized learning path’ for any given learner is found by analyzing the most successful path followed by the most similar students.

It’s an open question whether we improve learning employing such methods. Presumably, using trial and error, and employing a wide variety of pedagogical, curricular and environmental variables, we could come upon some statistically significant results. But the question is whether we should apply these methods, for two reasons.

First, individual variability outweighs statistical significance. We see this in medicine. While, statistically, a certain treatment might make the most sense, no doctor would prescribe such a treatment without first assessing the individual and making sure that the generalization actually applies, because in many cases it doesn’t, and the doctor is sworn to ‘do no harm’.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, it shouldn’t be up to the education system to determine what a person learns, how they learn it, and where. Many factors go into such decisions: individual preferences, social and parental expectations, availability of resources, or employability and future prospects. The best educational outcome isn’t necessarily the best outcome.

For these reasons, it may be preferably to embrace an alternative to personalized learning, which might be called personal learning. In the case of personal learning, the role of the educational system is not to provide learning, it is to support learning. Meanwhile, the decisions about what to learn, how to learn, and where to learn are made outside the educational system, and principally, by the individual learners themselves.

Personal learning often begins informally, on an ad hoc basis, driven by the need to complete some task or achieve some objective. The learning is a means to an end, rather than the end in itself. Curricula and pedagogy are selected pragmatically. If the need is short term and urgent, a simple learning resource may be provided. If the person wants to understand at a deep level, then a course might be the best option.

Personalized learning is like being served at a restaurant. Someone else selects the food and prepares it. There is some customization – you can tell the waiter how you want your meat cooked – but essentially everyone at the restaurant gets the same experience.

Personal learning is like shopping at a grocery store. You need to assemble the ingredients yourself and create your own meals. It’s harder, but it’s a lot cheaper, and you can have an endless variety of meals. Sure, you might not get the best meals possible, but you control the experience, and you control the outcome.

When educators and policy-makers talk about personalized learning, they frequently focus on the quality of the result. But this is like everybody should eat at restaurants in order to be sure they always get the healthiest meal possible. It may seem like the best option, but even the best restaurant can’t cater to the wide range of different tastes and nutritional needs, and no restaurant will help the person learn to cook for themselves.

Ultimately, if people are to become effective learners, they need to be able to learn on their own. They need to be able to find the resources they need, assemble their own curriculum, and forge their own learning path. They will not be able to rely on education providers, because their needs are too many and too varied. "
2016  education  teaching  learning  differentiation  personallearning  personalization  personalizedlearning  unschooling  deschooling  independence  schools  stephendowns  lcproject  openstudioproject  pedagogy  curriculum  adhoc  informallearning  decisionmaking  self-directed  self-directedlearning  tcsnmy  howwelearn  howweteach  data  bigdata  measurement  analytics  sfsh 
february 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
[Essay] | The Neoliberal Arts, by William Deresiewicz | Harper's Magazine
"I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.

leadership
service
integrity
creativity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because Lythcott-Haim’s book inspired Anna’s question, I thought she’d be a great person to field it. Some of her responses have been edited for length.

Lythcott-Haims: School leaders and teachers are in a really tough spot these days, particularly in communities where parents are used to doing a lot of hand-holding for their children and exerting influence. Still, I agree with Anna that yes, in many ways they’ve become enablers of overparenting behaviors and are inhibiting opportunities for kids to develop independence – such as the example of the principal setting the independence bar for his middle-schoolers absurdly low.

Middle-schoolers can handle things far more challenging than packing their own backpack. Take registration – reviewing the forms, signing them and turning them in. Middle-schoolers can handle that, and they probably should, particularly if we want them to be capable of handling it when they’re in high school, or college.

When my eldest began middle school, I caved to the overparenting mindset by filling out the forms and going to registration with him, which meant standing in long lines with hundreds of other parents doing the same. (The lines were so long, in part, because an excessive number of people were there instead of just the new middle-schoolers). When my second child was starting middle school two years later, I’d learned my lesson. She filled out the forms, asked me and her dad for signatures as needed and went off to registration by herself. The point is, life is full of bureaucracy and our kids have to learn to navigate it.

In terms of counteracting overparenting instead of enabling it, I’ve seen progress at the level of the individual teacher (who, for example, might announce at Back to School Night that parental involvement in homework is absolutely not allowed and a child’s grade will be docked a few points if there’s evidence of any such thing). But in my view, the bolder step would be adopting a school-wide and even district-wide philosophy that proclaims that part of getting an education is taking responsibility and being accountable for one’s own actions, and that as a result, parents doing things kids should be able to do for themselves is highly discouraged and might even be penalized (e.g. completing homework and projects, bringing homework and lunch to school, talking with teachers about the course material and concerns over grades).

MK: How do “parent portals” or school websites factor into over-parenting?

Lythcott-Haims: Parents obsessively checking the school website/portal isn’t good for the teacher, child or parent. Yes, the portal can deliver information quickly when we need it. The question we must ask ourselves as parents is, how frequently do we really need that information? Like the ability to track our children via GPS at all moments, just because the technology is there doesn’t mean we should use it all the time. …

Obsessively checking up on our kids’ performance means we then end up talking with our kids about their academic performance on a weekly or even daily basis – which sends a rather insidious message that their worth and value to us is based on grades – instead of what they’re learning and enjoying about school. Instead of building a relationship of trust with our kids where we’d expect them to inform us when they are struggling or need help, it erodes trust, raises anxiety and makes our kids feel that every single homework assignment or quiz is a “make or break” moment for their entire future.

As for me, I refuse to look at the online portal. I’m fine with a quarterly report. I expect my kids to update me as needed, and if they don’t, and it turns out there’s a greater consequence such as failing a class, I accept that that’s a part of childhood and something we’ll just have to work through when that time comes. To me, the developmental benefits to my kids that come from having greater autonomy, privacy and personal responsibility are more important than whatever short-term “win” I could achieve by trying to fix every micro-moment of imperfection."
parenting  helicopterparents  helicopterparenting  2015  mariokoran  children  schools  education  autonomy  independence  julielythcott-haims  responsibility  privacy 
september 2015 by robertogreco
We need to ditch generational labels – Rebecca Onion – Aeon
"Generational thinking is seductive and confirms preconceived prejudices, but it’s a bogus way to understand the world"



"But in real life, I find generational arguments infuriating. Overly schematised and ridiculously reductive, generation theory is a simplistic way of thinking about the relationship between individuals, society, and history. It encourages us to focus on vague ‘generational personalities’, rather than looking at the confusing diversity of social life. Since I’m a ‘Gen-X’er born in 1977, the conventional wisdom is that I’m supposed to be adaptable, independent, productive, and to have a good work/life balance. Reading these characteristics feels like browsing a horoscope. I see myself in some of these traits, and can even feel a vague thrill of belonging when I read them. But my ‘boomer’ mother is intensely productive; my ‘Greatest Generation’ grandmother still sells old books online at age 90, in what I consider to be the ultimate show of adaptability and independence.

enerational thinking doesn’t frustrate everyone. Indeed, there is a healthy market for pundits who can devise grand theories of generational difference. Neil Howe and William Strauss, authors of Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584-2069 (1991) and founders of the consulting firm LifeCourse Associates in Virginia, have made a fine living out of generational assessments, but their work reads like a deeply mystical form of historical explanation. (Strauss died in 2007; Howe continues to run the consultancy LifeCourse.) The two have conceived an elaborate and totalising theory of the cycle of generations, which they argue come in four sequential and endlessly repeating archetypes.

In the Strauss-Howe schema, these distinct groups of archetypes follow each other throughout history thus: ‘prophets’ are born near the end of a ‘crisis’; ‘nomads’ are born during an ‘awakening’; ‘heroes’ are born after an ‘awakening’, during an ‘unravelling’; and ‘artists’ are born after an ‘unravelling’, during a ‘crisis’. Strauss and Howe select prominent individuals from each generation, pointing to characteristics that define them as archetypal – heroes are John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan; artists: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson; prophets: John Winthrop, Abraham Lincoln; nomads: John Adams, Ulysses Grant. Each generation has a common set of personal characteristics and typical life experiences.

Plenty of kids at less-privileged schools weren’t intensely worried about grades or planning, like the stereotypical millennial

The archetypal scheme is also a theory of how historical change happens. The LifeCourse idea is that the predominance of each archetype in a given generation triggers the advent of the next (as the consultancy’s website puts it: ‘each youth generation tries to correct or compensate for what it perceives as the excesses of the midlife generation in power’). Besides having a very reductive vision of the universality of human nature, Strauss and Howe are futurists; they predict that a major crisis will occur once every 80 years, restarting the generational cycle. While the pair’s ideas seem far-fetched, they have currency in the marketplace: LifeCourse Associates has consulted for brands such as Nike, Cartoon Network, Viacom and the Ford Motor Company; for universities including Arizona State, Dartmouth, Georgetown and the University of Texas, and for the US Army, too.

The commercial success of this pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo is irritating, but also troubling. The dominant US thinkers on the generational question tend to flatten social distinctions, relying on cherry-picked examples and reifying a vision of a ‘society’ that’s made up mostly of the white and middle-class. In an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2009 on the pundits and consultants who market information about ‘millennials’ to universities, Eric Hoover described Howe and Strauss’s influential book about that generation, Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation (2000), as a work ‘based on a hodgepodge of anecdotes, statistics, and pop-culture references’ with the only new empirical evidence being a body of around 600 interviews of high-school seniors, all living in wealthy Fairfax County, Virginia.

Hoover interviewed several people in higher education who voiced their doubts about the utility of Howe and Strauss’s approach. Their replies, informed by their experience teaching college students from across the socioeconomic spectrum, show how useless the schematic understanding of ‘millennials’ looks when you’re working with actual people. Palmer H Muntz, then the director of admissions of Lincoln Christian University in Illinois, noticed that plenty of kids he encountered on visits to less-privileged schools weren’t intensely worried about grades or planning, like the stereotypical millennial. Fred A Bonner II, now at Prairie View A & M University in Texas, pointed out that many of the supposed ‘personality traits’ of coddled and pressured millennials were unrecognisable to his black or Hispanic students, or those who grew up with less money. Siva Vaidhyanathan, a cultural historian and media scholar at the University of Virginia, told Hoover: ‘Generational thinking is just a benign form of bigotry.’"



"Ryder had harsh words for the theorists he called ‘generationists’. He argued that thinkers about generation on a large scale had made illogical leaps when theorising the relationship between generations and social change. ‘The fact that social change produces intercohort differentiation and thus contributes to inter-generational conflict,’ he argued, ‘cannot justify a theory that social change is produced by that conflict.’ There was no way to prove causality. The end result, he wrote, was that grand generational theories tended toward ‘arithmetical mysticism.’"



"As the French historian Pierre Nora wrote in 1996, the careful analyst trying to talk about generations will always struggle: ‘The generational concept would make a wonderfully precise instrument if only its precision didn’t make it impossible to apply to the unclassifiable disorder of reality.’ The problem with transferring historical and sociological ways of thinking about generational change into the public sphere is that ‘unclassifiability’ is both terrifying and boring. Big, sweeping explanations of social change sell. Little, careful studies of same-age cohorts, hemmed in on all sides by rich specificity, do not.

Perhaps the pseudoscientific use of supposed ‘generations’ would irk less if it weren’t so often used to demean the young. Millennials, consultants advise prospective employers, feel entitled to good treatment even in entry-level jobs, because they’ve been overpraised their whole lives. Millennials won’t buckle down and buy cars or houses, economists complain; millennials are lurking in their parents’ basements, The New Yorker cartoon stereotype runs, tweeting and texting and posting selfies and avoiding responsibility."



"Popular millennial backlash against the stereotyping of their generation makes use of the same arguments against generational thinking that sociologists and historians have spent years developing. By drawing attention to the effects of the economic situation on their lives, pointing out that human experience isn’t universal and predictable, and calling upon adults to abandon broad assessments in favour of specific understanding, millennials prove the point: generational thinking is seductive, and for some of us it confirms our preconceived prejudices, but it’s fatally flawed as a mode of understanding the world. Real life is not science fiction."
rebeccaonion  generationalthinking  generations  age  ageism  complexity  humans  society  adaptability  independence  history  individuals  neilhowe  williamstrauss  stereotypes  lifecourse  palmermuntz  sivavaidhyanathan  agesegregation  millenials  genx  generationx  generationy  erichoover  karlmannheimaugusteconte  gottfriedleibniz  normanryder  sociology  causality  robertwohl  pierrenora  bigotry  generationalwarfare  malcolmharris  digitalnatives  hypocrisy  via:ayjay 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Audrey Watters Casts a Skeptical Eye on Tech Boosters - The Digital Campus - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Audrey Watters describes herself as a Cassandra of educational technology, but the comparison is only partially apt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"There are lots of places where the battle has to be fought," Ms. Watters says. "The stakes feel pretty high to me right now.""
audreywatters  2015  awesomepeople  edtech  technology  education  policy  independence  independents  criticism  criticalthinking  cassandras  truth  honesty  journalism  power  mansplaining  society  jimgroom  skepticism  mooc  moocs  radicals  culturalcriticism  siliconvalley  technosolutionism 
april 2015 by robertogreco
SUMÉ - THE SOUND OF A REVOLUTION official website | Greenland's fight for independence began with a rock band
"SYNOPSIS
From 1973 to 1976 the Greenlandic rock band Sumé released three albums and changed the history of Greenland. The group’s political songs were the first to be recorded in the Greenlandic language – a language that prior to Sumé didn’t have words for “revolution” or “oppression”. After 250 years of Danish colonization Sumé set in motion a revival of Greenlandic culture and identity, and paved the way for a Greenlandic home rule government."

[Trailer on YouTube: https://youtu.be/BDm2DyPEnLo ]
music  revolution  greenland  documentary  towatch  film  independence  sumé  politics  oppression  denmark  history  1970s  1973  1974  1975  1976  culture  identity  resistance  language 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Leon Botstein for Democracy Journal: Are We Still Making Citizens?
[via: http://willrichardson.com/post/115896934920/on-secret-keeping-and-forgetting ]

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



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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

I share the émigré generation’s quite romantic optimism for the potential of a democratic school system, one marked by excellence and equity. I think such a system is worth fighting for. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic. There is evidence that we can improve schools. A welcome first step would be to instill in the best of our current college students and future … [more]
leonbostein  democracy  publicschools  civics  citizenship  2015  individualism  collectivism  publicgood  education  society  us  privatization  government  disagreement  debate  participation  capitalism  hannaharendt  hansweil  christianmackauer  progressive  progressivism  freedom  interdependence  independence  politics  learning  johndewey  egalitarianism  americandream  equality  inequality  generalists  specialization  hierarchy  informality  formality  horizontality  standards  standardization  competition  universities  colleges  highered  highereducation  criticalthinking  accessibility  europe  history  leostrauss  kurtwolff  wernerjaeger  jacobklein  robertmaynardhutchins  stringfellowbarr  heinrichblücher  elitism  privateschools  content  process  methodology  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  purpose  sputnik  truth  canon  discourse  isolation  technology  internet  schooling  schooliness  science  wikipedia  communication  language  eliascanetti  teaching  information  research 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Maisonneuve | Collective Independents
"A FEW MONTHS AGO I moved into a one-bedroom basement apartment. The landlord penciled the stipulation “one person only” into the lease. I superimposed memories of Anna’s perfectly appointed home over the windowless, lineoleum-floored, beige-walled reality that is my new place. But how exciting to live without anonymous hair clogging the drain! I imagined little designer flourishes that would soon fill my space—an Edison lightbulb for the stucco ceiling perhaps, or a hanging plant that will likely die from the lack of light.

It took weeks for me to stop hoarding my possessions in the bedroom and claim the terrain of the new kitchen, bathroom, living room. Here, on top of the microwave, I will put my laundry money, important receipts, my wallet and cell phone. Here, on my bedside table, I will keep my passport, diary and what I’m reading. This floating shelf above my bed will house my most presentable books. Not only will the electric kettle, with its crusty metal coil, be thrown away, but I will purchase a shiny new whistling model that will sit proudly on the gas stove.

The inside of my new refrigerator appears mammoth; sometimes there’s only one item to a shelf. So much time I’ve wasted digging through shared fridges, only to discover diseased-looking tubs of yogurt and yellowing broccoli inside that cold jungle. What a pleasure to buy food that needs preserving.

How I love these little groupings of objects, all in their appropriate places where I might need them most. Playboy’s description of the bachelor pad is an understatement—this space feels as intimate as the compartments of my brain. I delight in the quirks of my domain—the way the gas element clicks three times, with a little stutter on the third beat, before bursting into blue flames. The silence around me has deepened to such an extent that I startle at the sound of water moving through the pipes or, when I’m lying in the bath, the sound of footsteps which turn out to be my own heartbeat.

But, a month and a half into living alone, I woke feeling wretched. Overnight, a throat tickle had morphed into full-on infection; my lymph nodes had hardened into painful, pronounced gills. I could barely swallow. I was nauseated and weak. Dirty dishes accumulated in the sink. My hair exploded into a greasy rat’s nest. I rotated sleeping shifts on the couch and the bed, never changing out of my sick-person uniform of the same sweat pants and flannel shirt.

By the third day, the novelty had worn off. Who cared that I could watch and re-watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes for days on end? I missed the outside world and, worse, I was nowhere near coming out of quarantine. That night, my throat as raw as a ragged tailpipe, I tossed and turned until dawn. When I woke the next afternoon, the sun was already low in the sky. My apartment was dark and silent. The fridge and cupboards were bare. No one had called or emailed or texted or tweeted or Facebooked.

As I lay in bed spinning dark thoughts, like how long it would take someone to find my body if I died right then and there, grunts and groans and sighs came through the ceiling. The couple upstairs was having sex. Now? Of all times? I took a deep breath and dived into a downward spiral of self pity. In my mind, beloved friends and family acquired dark shadows. If they were sick and lonely, I certainly would have taken care of them—so where were they now? As soon as I got better, I resolved to look out for myself and only myself. Why stick your neck out for people if they only leave you in the end? These thoughts, at the time, felt all-consuming and true. That is the self-reinforcing power of loneliness."
loneliness  isolation  modernism  2015  lauratrethewey  housing  introverts  community  intimacy  independence 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The Case for Free-Range Parenting - NYTimes.com
"BETHESDA, Md. — ON her first morning in America, last summer, my daughter went out to explore her new neighborhood — alone, without even telling my wife or me.

Of course we were worried; we had just moved from Berlin, and she was just 8. But when she came home, we realized we had no reason to panic. Beaming with pride, she told us and her older sister how she had discovered the little park around the corner, and had made friends with a few local dog owners. She had taken possession of her new environment, and was keen to teach us things we didn’t know.

When this story comes up in conversations with American friends, we are usually met with polite disbelief. Most are horrified by the idea that their children might roam around without adult supervision. In Berlin, where we lived in the center of town, our girls would ride the Metro on their own — a no-no in Washington. Or they’d go alone to the playground, or walk a mile to a piano lesson. Here in quiet and traffic-safe suburban Washington, they don’t even find other kids on the street to play with. On Halloween, when everybody was out to trick or treat, we were surprised by how many children actually lived here whom we had never seen.

A study by the University of California, Los Angeles, has found that American kids spend 90 percent of their leisure time at home, often in front of the TV or playing video games. Even when kids are physically active, they are watched closely by adults, either in school, at home, at afternoon activities or in the car, shuttling them from place to place.

Such narrowing of the child’s world has happened across the developed world. But Germany is generally much more accepting of letting children take some risks. To this German parent, it seems that America’s middle class has taken overprotective parenting to a new level, with the government acting as a super nanny.

Just take the case of 10-year-old Rafi and 6-year-old Dvora Meitiv, siblings in Silver Spring, Md., who were picked up in December by the police because their parents had dared to allow them to walk home from the park alone. For trying to make them more independent, their parents were found guilty by the state’s Child Protective Services of “unsubstantiated child neglect.” What had been the norm a generation ago, that kids would enjoy a measure of autonomy after school, is now seen as almost a crime.

Today’s parents enjoyed a completely different American childhood. Recently, researchers at the University of Virginia conducted interviews with 100 parents. “Nearly all respondents remember childhoods of nearly unlimited freedom, when they could ride bicycles and wander through woods, streets, parks, unmonitored by their parents,” writes Jeffrey Dill, one of the researchers.

But when it comes to their own children, the same respondents were terrified by the idea of giving them only a fraction of the freedom they once enjoyed. Many cited fear of abduction, even though crime rates have declined significantly. The most recent in-depth study found that, in 1999, only 115 children nationwide were victims of a “stereotypical kidnapping” by a stranger; the overwhelming majority were abducted by a family member. That same year, 2,931 children under 15 died as passengers in car accidents. Driving children around is statistically more dangerous than letting them roam freely.

Motor development suffers when most of a child’s leisure time is spent sitting at home instead of running outside. Emotional development suffers, too.

“We are depriving them of opportunities to learn how to take control of their own lives,” writes Peter Gray, a research professor at Boston College. He argues that this increases “the chance that they will suffer from anxiety, depression, and various other mental disorders,” which have gone up dramatically in recent decades. He sees risky, outside play of children among themselves without adult supervision as a way of learning to control strong emotions like anger and fear.

I am no psychologist like Professor Gray, but I know I won’t be around forever to protect my girls from the challenges life holds in store for them, so the earlier they develop the intellectual maturity to navigate the world, the better. And by giving kids more control over their lives, they learn to have more confidence in their own capabilities.

It is hard for parents to balance the desire to protect their children against the desire to make them more self-reliant. And every one of us has to decide for himself what level of risk he is ready to accept. But parents who prefer to keep their children always in sight and under their thumbs should consider what sort of trade-offs are involved in that choice.

At a minimum, parents who want to give their children more room to roam shouldn’t be penalized by an overprotective state. Cases like the Meitivs’ reinforce the idea that children are fragile objects to be protected at all times, and that parents who believe otherwise are irresponsible, if not criminally negligent.

Besides overriding our natural protective impulses in order to loosen the reins of our kids, my wife and I now also have to ponder the possibility of running afoul of the authorities. And we thought we had come to the land of the free."
clemenswergin  2015  parenting  children  autonomy  freedom  exploration  fear  safety  risktaking  helicopterparents  childhood  cities  petergray  self-reliance  independence  us  nannystate  freerangeparenting  helicopterparenting 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Howard Zinn: The Problem is Civil Obedience
"We all grow up with the notion that the law is holy. They asked Daniel Berrigan's mother what she thought of her son's breaking the law. He burned draft records-one of the most violent acts of this century- to protest the war, for which he was sentenced to prison, as criminals should be. They asked his mother who is in her eighties, what she thought of her son's breaking the law. And she looked straight into the interviewer's face, and she said, "It's not God's law." Now we forget that. There is nothing sacred about the law. Think of who makes laws. The law is not made by God, it is made by Strom Thurmond. If you nave any notion about the sanctity and loveliness and reverence for the law, look at the legislators around the country who make the laws. Sit in on the sessions of the state legislatures. Sit in on Congress, for these are the people who make the laws which we are then supposed to revere.

All of this is done with such propriety as to fool us. This is the problem. In the old days, things were confused; you didn't know. Now you know. It is all down there in the books. Now we go through due process. Now the same things happen as happened before, except that we've gone through the right procedures. In Boston a policeman walked into a hospital ward and fired five times at a black man who had snapped a towel at his arm-and killed him. A hearing was held. The judge decided that the policeman was justified because if he didn't do it, he would lose the respect of his fellow officers. Well, that is what is known as due process-that is, the guy didn't get away with it. We went through the proper procedures, and everything was set up. The decorum, the propriety of the law fools us.

The nation then, was founded on disrespect for the law, and then came the Constitution and the notion of stability which Madison and Hamilton liked. But then we found in certain crucial times in our history that the legal framework did not suffice, and in order to end slavery we had to go outside the legal framework, as we had to do at the time of the American Revolution or the Civil War. The union had to go outside the legal framework in order to establish certain rights in the 1930s. And in this time, which may be more critical than the Revolution or the Civil War, the problems are so horrendous as to require us to go outside the legal framework in order to make a statement, to resist, to begin to establish the kind of institutions and relationships which a decent society should have. No, not just tearing things down; building things up. But even if you build things up that you are not supposed to build up-you try to build up a people's park, that's not tearing down a system; you are building something up, but you are doing it illegally-the militia comes in and drives you out. That is the form that civil disobedience is going to take more and more, people trying to build a new society in the midst of the old.

But what about voting and elections? Civil disobedience-we don't need that much of it, we are told, because we can go through the electoral system. And by now we should have learned, but maybe we haven't, for we grew up with the notion that the voting booth is a sacred place, almost like a confessional. You walk into the voting booth and you come out and they snap your picture and then put it in the papers with a beatific smile on your face. You've just voted; that is democracy. But if you even read what the political scientists say-although who can?-about the voting process, you find that the voting process is a sham. Totalitarian states love voting. You get people to the polls and they register their approval. I know there is a difference-they have one party and we have two parties. We have one more party than they have, you see.

What we are trying to do, I assume, is really to get back to the principles and aims and spirit of the Declaration of Independence. This spirit is resistance to illegitimate authority and to forces that deprive people of their life and liberty and right to pursue happiness, and therefore under these conditions, it urges the right to alter or abolish their current form of government-and the stress had been on abolish. But to establish the principles of the Declaration of Independence, we are going to need to go outside the law, to stop obeying the laws that demand killing or that allocate wealth the way it has been done, or that put people in jail for petty technical offenses and keep other people out of jail for enormous crimes. My hope is that this kind of spirit will take place not just in this country but in other countries because they all need it. People in all countries need the spirit of disobedience to the state, which is not a metaphysical thing but a thing of force and wealth. And we need a kind of declaration of interdependence among people in all countries of the world who are striving for the same thing."
howardzinn  1970  civildisobedience  disobedience  civilobedience  law  authority  civics  unschooling  deschooling  independence  declarationofindependence  resistance  interdependence  wealth  politics  government  power  frankzappa  noamchomsky 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 15: Scribbled Leatherjackets
[Update 23 Jan 2015: a new version of this is now at The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/why-i-am-not-a-maker/384767/ ]

"HOMO FABBER: Every once in a while, I am asked what I ‘make’. When I attended the Brighton Maker Faire in September, a box for the answer was under my name on my ID badge. It was part of the XOXO Festival application for 2013; when I saw the question, I closed the browser tab, and only applied later (and eventually attended) because of the enthusiastic encouragement of friends. I’m always uncomfortable identifying myself as a maker. I'm uncomfortable with any culture that encourages you take on an entire identity, rather than to express a facet of your own identity (‘maker’, rather than ‘someone who makes things’). But I have much deeper concerns.

Walk through a museum. Look around a city. Almost all the artifacts that we value as a society were made by or at the the order of men. But behind every one is an invisible infrastructure of labour—primarily caregiving, in its various aspects—that is mostly performed by women. As a teenager, I read Ayn Rand on how any work that needed to be done day after day was meaningless, and that only creating new things was a worthwhile endeavour. My response to this was to stop making my bed every day, to the distress of my mother. (While I admit the possibility of a misinterpretation, as I haven’t read Rand’s writing since I was so young my mother oversaw my housekeeping, I have no plans to revisit it anytime soon.) The cultural primacy of making, especially in tech culture—that it is intrinsically superior to not-making, to repair, analysis, and especially caregiving—is informed by the gendered history of who made things, and in particular, who made things that were shared with the world, not merely for hearth and home.

Making is not a rebel movement, scrappy individuals going up against the system. While the shift might be from the corporate to the individual (supported, mind, by a different set of companies selling things), and from what Ursula Franklin describes as prescriptive technologies to ones that are more holistic, it mostly reinscribes familiar values, in slightly different form: that artifacts are important, and people are not.

In light of this history, it’s unsurprising that coding has been folded into ‘making’. Consider the instant gratification of seeing ‘hello, world’ on the screen; it’s nearly the easiest possible way to ‘make’ things, and certainly one where failure has a very low cost. Code is 'making' because we've figured out how to package it up into discrete units and sell it, and because it is widely perceived to be done by men. But you can also think about coding as eliciting a specific, desired set of behaviours from computing devices. It’s the Searle’s 'Chinese room' take on the deeper, richer, messier, less reproducible, immeasurably more difficult version of this that we do with people—change their cognition, abilities, and behaviours. We call the latter 'education', and it’s mostly done by underpaid, undervalued women.

When new products are made, we hear about exciting technological innovation, which are widely seen as worth paying (more) for. In contrast, policy and public discourse around caregiving—besides education, healthcare comes immediately to mind—are rarely about paying more to do better, and are instead mostly about figuring out ways to lower the cost. Consider the economics term ‘Baumol's cost disease’: it suggests that it is somehow pathological that the time and energy taken by a string quartet to prepare for a performance--and therefore the cost--has not fallen in the same way as goods, as if somehow people and what they do should get less valuable with time (to be fair, given the trajectory of wages in the US over the last few years in real terms, that seems to be exactly what is happening).

It's not, of course, that there's anything wrong with making (although it’s not all that clear that the world needs more stuff). It's that the alternative to making is usually not doing nothing—it's nearly always doing things for and with other people, from the barista to the Facebook community moderator to the social worker to the surgeon. Describing oneself as a maker—regardless of what one actually or mostly does—is a way of accruing to oneself the gendered, capitalist benefits of being a person who makes products.

I am not a maker. In a framing and value system that is about creating artifacts, specifically ones you can sell, I am a less valuable human. As an educator, the work I do is, at least superficially, the same year after year. That's because all of the actual change is at the interface between me, my students, and the learning experiences I design for them. People have happily informed me that I am a maker because I use phrases like 'design learning experiences', which is mistaking what I do for what I’m actually trying to elicit and support. The appropriate metaphor for education, as Ursula Franklin has pointed out, is a garden, not the production line.

My graduate work in materials engineering was all about analysing and characterizing biological tissues, mostly looking at disease states and interventions and how they altered the mechanical properties of bone, including addressing a public health question for my doctoral research. My current education research is mostly about understanding the experiences of undergraduate engineering students so we can do a better job of helping them learn. I think of my brilliant and skilled colleagues in the social sciences, like Nancy Baym at Microsoft Research, who does interview after interview followed by months of qualitative analysis to understand groups of people better. None of these activities are about ‘making’.

I educate. I analyse. I characterize. I critique. Almost everything I do these days is about communicating with others. To characterize what I do as 'making' is either to mistake the methods—the editorials, the workshops, the courses, even the materials science zine I made—for the purpose. Or, worse, to describe what I do as 'making' other people, diminishing their own agency and role in sensemaking, as if their learning is something I impose on them.

In a recent newsletter, Dan Hon wrote, "But even when there's this shift to Makers (and with all due deference to Getting Excited and Making Things), even when "making things" includes intangibles now like shipped-code, there's still this stigma that feels like it attaches to those-who-don't-make. Well, bullshit. I make stuff." I understand this response, but I'm not going to call myself a maker. Instead, I call bullshit on the stigma, and the culture and values behind it that reward making above everything else. Instead of calling myself a maker, I'm proud to stand with the caregivers, the educators, those that analyse and characterize and critique, everyone who fixes things and all the other people who do valuable work with and for others, that doesn't result in something you can put in a box and sell."

[My response on Twitter:

Storified version: https://storify.com/rogre/on-the-invisible-infrastructure-of-often-intangibl

and as a backup to that (but that doesn't fit the container of what Pinboard will show you)…

“Great way to start my day: @debcha on invisible infrastructure of (often intangible) labor, *not* making, & teaching.”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/536601349756956672

“[pause to let you read and to give you a chance to sign up for @debcha’s Metafoundry newsletter http://tinyletter.com/metafoundry ]”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/536601733791633408

““behind every…[maker] is an invisible infrastructure of labour—primarily caregiving, in…various aspects—…mostly performed by women” —@debcha”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/536602125107605505

“See also Maciej Cegłowski on Thoreau. https://static.pinboard.in/xoxo_talk_thoreau.htm https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eky5uKILXtM”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/536602602431995904

““Thoreau had all these people, mostly women, who silently enabled the life he thought he was heroically living for himself.” —M. Cegłowski”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/536602794786963458

“And this reminder from @anotherny [Frank Chimero] that we should acknowledge and provide that support: “Make donuts too.”” http://frankchimero.com/blog/the-inferno-of-independence/
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/536603172244967424

“small collection of readings (best bottom up) on emotional labor, almost always underpaid, mostly performed by women https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/t:emotionallabor”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/536603895087128576

““The appropriate metaphor for education, as Ursula Franklin has pointed out, is a garden, not the production line.” —@debcha”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/536604452065513472

““to describe what I do as 'making' other people, diminish[es] their own agency & role in sensemaking” —@debcha”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/536604828705648640

“That @debcha line gets at why Taylor Mali’s every-popular “What Teachers Make” has never sat well with me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxsOVK4syxU”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/536605134185177088

““I call bullshit on the stigma, and the culture and values behind it that reward making above everything else.” —@debcha”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/536605502805798912

“This all brings me back to Margaret Edson’s 2008 Commencement Address at Smith College. http://www.smith.edu/events/commencement_speech2008.php + https://vimeo.com/1085942”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/536606045200588803

“Edson’s talk is about classroom teaching. I am forever grateful to @CaseyG for pointing me there (two years ago on Tuesday).”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/536606488144248833

““Bringing nothing, producing nothing, expecting nothing, withholding … [more]
debchachra  2014  making  makers  makermovement  teaching  howweteach  emotionallabor  labor  danhon  scubadiving  support  ursulafranklin  coding  behavior  gender  cv  margaretedson  caseygollan  care  caretaking  smithcollege  sensemaking  agency  learning  howwelearn  notmaking  unproduct  frankchimero  maciejceglowski  metafoundry  independence  interdependence  canon  teachers  stigma  gratitude  thorough  infrastructure  individualism  invisibility  critique  criticism  fixing  mending  analysis  service  intangibles  caregiving  homemaking  maciejcegłowski 
november 2014 by robertogreco
All Technology is Assistive — Backchannel — Medium
"You might imagine that “disability studies” is just one more category of identity research that’s been created primarily for political advocacy, interesting only to those directly affected by issues of accessibility, accommodation, or special rights. But “disabled-ness” is another matter altogether. There are at least two big reasons why disability concerns are everyone’s concerns.

First, it’s a false divide to make a we/them: either able-minded, able-bodied, or disabled. After all, how cultures define, think about, and treat those who currently have marked disabilities is how all its future citizens may well be perceived if and when those who are able-bodied become less abled than they are now: by age, degeneration, or some sudden — or gradual — change in physical or mental capacities. All people, over the course of their lives, traffic between times of relative independence and dependence. So the questions cultures ask, the technologies they invent, and how those technologies broadcast a message about their users — weakness and strength, agency and passivity — are critical ones. And they’re not just questions for scientists and policy-makers; they’re aesthetic questions too.

Second, in many cultures — and certainly in the US — a pervasive, near-obsession with averages and statistical norms about bodies and capacities has become a naturalized form of describing both individuals and populations. But this way of measuring people and populations is historically very recent, and worth reconsidering."



"Well — it’s worth saying again: All technology is assistive technology. Honestly — what technology are you using that’s not assistive? Your smartphone? Your eyeglasses? Headphones? And those three examples alone are assisting you in multiple registers: They’re enabling or augmenting a sensory experience, say, or providing navigational information. But they’re also allowing you to decide whether to be available for approach in public, or not; to check out or in on a conversation or meeting in a bunch of subtle ways; to identify, by your choice of brand or look, with one culture group and not another.

Making a persistent, overt distinction about “assistive tech” embodies the second-tier do-gooderism and banality that still dominate design work targeted toward “special needs.” “Assistive technology” implies a separate species of tools designed exclusively for those people with a rather narrow set of diagnostic “impairments” — impairments, in other words, that have been culturally designated as needing special attention, as being particularly, grossly abnormal. But are you sure your phone isn’t a crutch, as it were, for a whole lot of unexamined needs?"



"In the name of good friction, then, I want to suggest some possible dispositions for designers and artists taking a look at ability and disability.

1. Invisibility is overrated.



2. Rethink the default bodily experience.



3. Consider fine gradations of qualitative change.



4. Uncouple medical technologies from their diagnostic contexts.



5. Design for one.



6. And this is perhaps the most important: Let the tools you make ask questions, not just solve problems."

[Previous versions/references here:
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:7cf533b38f8e
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:cf3e53f397e3 (now gone) ]

[See also this exchange: https://twitter.com/quinnnorton/status/523744699983478784 ]
sarahendren  2014  technology  assistivetechnology  disability  ablerism  activism  design  audiencesofone  tolls  askingquestions  canon  experience  bodies  humans  norms  standards  standardization  individualization  personalization  bellcurve  normalcy  normalness  lennarddavis  ideal  dependence  independence  questionasking  disabilities  body 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Pirates and Prodigals on Vimeo
"A conversation between Kester Brewin, Peter Rollins, and Barry Taylor on the tragedy of the pirate and prodigal son archetypes and what this means for the future church. The discussion drew from ideas presented in Kester Brewin’s latest book, Mutiny! Why We Love Pirates, and How They Can Save Us.

The Berry Center for Lifelong Learning and The Inititive for the Church and Contemprary Culture, Fuller Theologcial Seminary

Wednesday, October 24, 2012"
pirates  theology  christianity  religion  belief  2012  radicaltheology  kesterbrewin  peterrollins  barrytaylor  courage  brokenness  honesty  responsibility  otherness  humanism  empathy  perspective  understanding  life  living  death  piracy  slavery  freedom  autonomy  independence  god  liberation  prodigalson  unbelief  decay  zombies 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Solarpunk: Notes toward a manifesto | Project Hieroglyph
"It’s hard out here for futurists under 30.

As we percolated through our respective nations’ education systems, we were exposed to WorldChanging and TED talks, to artfully-designed green consumerism and sustainable development NGOs. Yet we also grew up with doomsday predictions slated to hit before our expected retirement ages, with the slow but inexorable militarization of metropolitan police departments, with the failure of the existing political order to deal with the existential-but-not-yet-urgent threat of climate change. Many of us feel it’s unethical to bring children into a world like ours. We have grown up under a shadow, and if we sometimes resemble fungus it should be taken as a credit to our adaptability.

We’re solarpunks because the only other options are denial or despair.

The promises offered by most Singulatarians and Transhumanists are individualist and unsustainable: How many of them are scoped for a world where energy is not cheap and plentiful, to say nothing of rare earth elements?

Solarpunk is about finding ways to make life more wonderful for us right now, and more importantly for the generations that follow us – i.e., extending human life at the species level, rather than individually. Our future must involve repurposing and creating new things from what we already have (instead of 20th century “destroy it all and build something completely different” modernism). Our futurism is not nihilistic like cyberpunk and it avoids steampunk’s potentially quasi-reactionary tendencies: it is about ingenuity, generativity, independence, and community.

And yes, there’s a -punk there, and not just because it’s become a trendy suffix. There’s an oppositional quality to solarpunk, but it’s an opposition that begins with infrastructure as a form of resistance. We’re already seeing it in the struggles of public utilities to deal with the explosion in rooftop solar. “Dealing with infrastructure is a protection against being robbed of one’s self-determination,” said Chokwe Lumumba, the late mayor of Jackson, MS, and he was right. Certainly there are good reasons to have a grid, and we don’t want it to rot away, but one of the healthy things about local resilience is that it puts you in a much better bargaining position against the people who might want to shut you off (We’re looking at you, Detroit).

Solarpunk punkSolarpunk draws on the ideal of Jefferson’s yeoman farmer, Ghandi’s ideal of swadeshi and subsequent Salt March, and countless other traditions of innovative dissent. (FWIW, both Ghandi and Jefferson were inventors.)

The visual aesthetics of Solarpunk are open and evolving. As it stands, it’s a mash-up of the following:

• 1800s age-of-sail/frontier living (but with more bicycles)
• Creative reuse of existing infrastructure (sometimes post-apocalyptic, sometimes present-weird)
• Jugaad-style innovation from the developing world
• High-tech backends with simple, elegant outputs

Obviously, the further you get into the future, the more ambitious you can get. In the long-term, solarpunk takes the images we’ve been fed by bright-green blogs and draws them out further, longer, and deeper. Imagine permaculturists thinking in cathedral time. Consider terraced irrigation systems that also act as fluidic computers. Contemplate the life of a Department of Reclamation officer managing a sparsely populated American southwest given over to solar collection and pump storage. Imagine “smart cities” being junked in favor of smart citizenry.

Tumblr lit up within the last week from this post envisioning a form of solar punk with an art nouveau Edwardian-garden aesthetic, which is gorgeous and reminds me of Miyazaki. There’s something lovely in the way it reacts against the mainstream visions of overly smooth, clean, white modernist iPod futures. Solarpunk is a future with a human face and dirt behind its ears."

[via: https://twitter.com/jqtrde/status/519152576797745153 ]
solarpunk  future  futures  jugaad  green  frontier  bikes  biking  technology  imagination  nearfuture  detroit  worldchanging  ted  ngos  sustainability  singularitarianism  individuality  cyberpunk  steampunk  ingenuity  generativity  independence  community  punk  infrastucture  resistance  solar  chokwelumumba  resilience  thomasjefferson  yeomen  ghandi  swadeshi  invention  hacking  making  makers  hackers  reuse  repurposing  permaculture  adamflynn  denial  despair  optimism  cando  posthumanism  transhumanism  chokweantarlumumba 
october 2014 by robertogreco
ind.ie — Designing Hope
"Our fundamental freedoms and democracy are under threat from the monopoly of a business model called corporate surveillance.

Corporate surveillance treats human beings as natural resources to be surveilled, studied, and exploited for profit.

It is the business model of offering you free and subsidised products in exchange for the right to mine your data and to profile you. In this relationship, you are the quarry being mined. Your data is the raw materials that corporations study to analyse, predict, and manipulate your behaviour and motivations.

Corporate surveillors strive to understand you better by creating a profile of you. This is a virtual you; a digital self. It is a simulation of you (your sim).

Corporate surveillors cannot keep your corporeal self locked up in a lab to study you and experiment on you to understand you better but there are currently no regulations against them doing that to your sim. In our current system of laws, although your corporeal self has rights, your virtual self — your sim — does not. (We must work to change this so that your sim is eventually afforded the legal rights of a person.)

The goal of these corporations is to eventually exploit what they learn about you for financial gain by influencing your behaviour to their actual customers.

Corporate surveillance is the dominant business model on the Internet today. It is the business model of huge publicly-traded transnational corporations like Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, and Twitter as well as many other venture-capital-subsidised smaller companies and startups that are currently looking for exits either to larger corporate surveillors or to the public in the form of an IPO.

Corporate surveillors tell us that if we do not want to be spied on, we do not have to use their tools, services, and platforms. They say that their products are optional, not essential.

This is not true.

The tools and services provided by corporate surveillors are essential to participating in modern life today and are becoming even more so with every day that passes.

The lack of viable alternatives to corporate surveillance leaves people with an unacceptable decision to make: either accept being spied on, studied, and manipulated for profit, or disconnect from modern life.

Corporate surveillors tell us that if we oppose their business model, we are Luddites who oppose technology, innovation, and the creation of jobs.

This is poppycock.

We oppose neither technology, nor innovation, nor the creation of jobs. We simply oppose their toxic business model of corporate surveillance that treats human beings as walking bags of mostly data and is detrimental to our fundamental freedoms and democracy.

As concerned individuals and organisations, we are working to change this status quo by shifting the ownership and control of consumer technology and data from corporations to individuals.

To achieve this goal, we will create new organisations that are independent, sustainable, design-led, and diverse.
Independent

We will not play in your gilded sandboxes.

We reject the myopic and destructive cycle of venture capital and exits that leads to the proliferation of ‘free’ services. We spend our time creating businesses that we love to work in, not dreaming up exit strategies. We are not sponsored by corporate surveillors. Our companies are sustainable businesses guided by the social mission in this manifesto. We fund our organisations in ways that help us to protect that social mission (e.g., bootstrapping, non-equity-based crowdfunding, revenue-based investment).
Sustainable

We are to corporate surveillance what organic farming is to factory farming.

We do not reject making a profit; we simply want to make an ethical, sustainable profit. We want to create successful, sustainable businesses that grow organically. We reject the excessive greed of the venture-capital-backed business model of corporate surveillance. We adopt alternate business models that are transparent, forthright, and easy to understand.

We sell products and we sell services that help people to maintain their tools and data. We sell seamlessness, we sell ease-of-use, we sell time saved.

We do not sell people. We will never build businesses that monetise people’s data or violate their privacy.

We start small and grow organically.
Design-led

We must design the organisation before we can design the product.

Design is not a layer, it is a cross-cutting concern. Design does not bubble up an organisation, it must trickle down from the top. Design begins at the business model and affects everything that comes after it.
Diverse

The problems of a diverse audience can only be solved by diverse organisations.

The problems we face are societal ones. They affect a diverse population and they require diverse, interdisciplinary teams to tackle them.

We will use these organisations to create a new category of consumer products that are beautiful, free, social, accessible, secure, and distributed.
Beautiful

We design for the whole-term.

We have a design vision for our products. We filter everything through this vision. We create beautiful defaults and we layer the seams. We understand that features are commodities. We understand that without a unified design vision, a product is far lesser than the sum of its features. We understand the difference between a component of a consumer product and a consumer product. We understand that we cannot compete with consumer products if we are making components of consumer products. We understand that a consumer product today is a combination of hardware, software, services, and connectivity that work seamlessly together to create a beautiful continuous experience. We compete on experience.

We design from first principles. We build focussed, beautiful experiences that give people superpowers. We don’t shy away from making tough decisions. We say ‘no’ a lot. We make every feature go through a trial by fire to earn its right to exist. We understand that design is not decoration.

We design iteratively; design leads development and development informs design. Our process is unapologetically and necessarily undemocratic. We do not design by committee. We listen to the community but we filter feedback and requests through our own design vision. We focus on making simple, beautiful products that work exceptionally well. If differences of opinion exist, others are welcome to fork our work and to take it in different directions. And we, in return, are free to pull that work back into our products if we eventually realise that it does, in fact, fit our design vision.

We make mistakes. We learn. We iterate.

Our products empower people in the short-term with great experiences and in the long-term by giving them ownership and control. We call this ‘design for the whole term’.
Free

Our licenses protect the freedom of our work and the freedom of the people who use it.

We license our work under free (as in liberty) licenses.
Social

We cannot cut people off from corporate surveillance, we must wean them off.

We do not cut people off from their existing networks, we wean them off by making the canonical location of their data a place that they own.

People use existing social networks and the tools that spy on them because they get short-term value from them. We cannot gain traction by ignoring this value or by cutting them off from their friends and their social spheres.

We must enable people to easily weave their existing networks and tools into their personal data stores. Inversely, we must also enable them to easily distribute their content to existing networks. When interacting with existing corporate surveillance networks, we must treat them as untrusted networks and strive to protect the privacy of the person to the highest degree possible.

A person using a tool that they own does not have to ask a corporate surveillor for permission to access and use data that should rightfully be theirs to begin with. We favour scraping over APIs. We understand that an ‘open’ API is just a key to a lock that can be changed at any time.

We must support the existing networks only so far as it is necessary to slowly wean people off them. We can only wean people off of corporate surveillance and retain them if we can create as great, if not better, consumer experiences.
Accessible

Accessibility is a core design concern.

Our products treat accessibility as a core design concern, not as an afterthought. Accessibility is simply usability applied to audiences with special requirements. To design accessible products, we must design accessible organisations that value diversity and equality.
Secure

Security must be seamless.

Encryption and security of people’s data cannot be an afterthought. We must include encryption at the core of our designs and make sure that it is as seamless and easy to use as possible.
Distributed

Making distributed systems seamless is one of the great design challenges of our time.

Our products will be distributed and peer-to-peer at their core. This will not be easy to achieve but it is the only way to ensure long-term structural change. We may support this core with centralised nodes that guarantee availability and findability in the short term. (Otherwise, we may not be able to match or exceed the user experience of current centralised systems.) But, if anything, we see this as part of the weaning process. Once our distributed networks have enough momentum, we can take the training wheels off.

We call this new category of technology ‘Independent Technology’.

We are tackling a societal problem that cannot be solved by technology alone but which also cannot be solved without the creation of viable technological alternatives. To tackle this societal problem, we must have a diverse, interdisciplinary base. We must be politically and socially active. We must avoid the pitfalls of technological determinism. We … [more]
mozilla  privacy  mobile  phones  surveillance  aralbalkan  2014  freedom  independence  technology  distributed  peertopeer  accessibility  security  corporatism  corporatization  corporatesurveillance 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Why Scotland Should Vote Yes | Jacobin
"Before turning to these arguments, it is worth considering one pro-independence position that can only be held in England. Expressed most recently (if eccentrically) by Will Self in the New Statesman, this holds that an independent Scotland would be a social-democratic — perhaps even socialist — inspiration to the English Left, finally galvanizing it into posing a serious challenge to neoliberalism and imperialism. And in some respects, a survey of social legislation in Scotland even under devolution, including that passed by the first two Liberal/Labour coalition governments, tends to support this perspective.

Scotland has free care for the elderly, free prescriptions for all, and no student tuition fees (at least for Scottish students). And the bedroom tax, while it is beyond the power of Holyrood to abolish, has effectively been neutralized by the current Scottish National Party (SNP) government’s declaration (in a move supported by Labour) that it would set aside £15 million to meet the additional costs of the 76,000 social housing tenants deemed to have a “spare bedroom.”

Furthermore, although there are longstanding private schools in Scotland, education has not been subjected to the disintegrative effect of academies and free schools; water remains in public hands; the extent of privatization of the National Health Service in England has not been replicated north of the border; private finance initiatives and public–private partnerships are no longer in use. And while it would be absurd to pretend that racism is not a problem in Scotland, the public culture in this respect is different from England, not least because the SNP government — to its endless credit — has argued for welcoming migrants rather than attacking them."
scotland  independence  2014  socialsafetynet 
september 2014 by robertogreco
All you need is publish — The Message — Medium
"Publish everything everywhere. Anything anywhere. Publish twice, thrice, just don’t break the contract if you got paid.

Copy the bits, it’s what they want. Data wanna be free. Call the Archive Team. Call the Internet Archive. Call the Library of Congress. Ask them for your tweets, Christmas 2009. 140-character drunken grandpa? Yes, please.

This is not the indie web, this is the web. The web itself has and always will be indie at its core. There are no edges here. The web excels at boundless. Everything sparkles intertwingular. Things connect and disconnect and multiply at will, as long as we’re willing. And willing we are."



"Mass Indie

Mass Indie is the zine publishing of web publishing. The everyperson indie. Godaddy a domain, snag a Tumblr, fiddle a DNS and Go Go Go. Don’t have eight bucks? Skip the domain and jump straight to Go Go Go. It’s right there and it’s faster than a Xerox at Kinkos. Don’t like Tumblr? Ghost it up. Livejournal’s still a thing. Wattpad welcomes all. Geo-plaster at hi.co. Kindle Single it and give it away. Toss it on Scribd. Pastebin the notion. Splatter your post across twenty tweets. Heck, Google Doc it. The Web Is Here For You To Use. Post to multiple platforms. Pledge allegiance to no one. You don’t owe ’em nuttin’. Everybody Minecraft — stake your claim. Then restake it again tomorrow. The land’s wide open and there’s always more IPv6 to go around.

***

Craft Indie

Craft Indie is calculated indie. Laborious indie. Tie-your-brain-in-a-knot indie. No easier than it’s ever been. I’m talking about breathing your bits — really possessing, sculpting, caressing, caring for, caring after your bits. Knowing. Takes buckets of effort. And buckets be heavy.

Craft Indie takes you back to the early ’90s hex editing Renegade BBS software. Takes you back to the mid ’90s with a shell account and PPP emulator — pry open Mosaic, cue exploding head. Craft Indie can never be Mass Indie because the required toolkit is too yawning, esoteric, painful for all but those willing to obsess.

Craft Indie is lose your afternoon to RSS 2.0 vs Atom specifications indie. Craft Indie is .htaccessing the perfect URL indie. Craft Indie is cool your eyes don’t change indie. Craft Indie is pixel tweaking line-heights, margins, padding … of the copyright in the footer indie. Craft Indie is #efefe7 not #efefef indie. Craft Indie is fatiguing indie, you-gotta-love-it indie, you-gotta-get-off-on-this-mania indie.

***

Both indies are united by and predicated on openness. Universal accessibility. This is why to impinge on Net Neutrality is to impinge on the very quintessence of what makes the web the web. Lopsided hierarchy woven into the fabric of the web upends the beautiful latent power of online publishing. The dudette should not abide.

Furthermore, the contours of our words published online shimmer. They exist at well defined URLs, yes, but those URLs can be tenuous, disappearing or rendered useless by server failure, a reconfiguration, a missed payment to a domain registrar. And yet those same words are more easily copied and distributed at scale than ever before. Thanks to vast search engines, their precise address is less important than knowing a snippet of the content. Three or four words. That’s all you need. They’re probably somewhere, indexed and waiting.

The ideas of the indie web sits somewhere within these fuzzy contours. With the vast array of online publishing tools comes multiplicity. Multiplicity is our friend."



"To do indie. To be indie. To publish indie. The indie web? To talk about the indie web — Mass or Craft — is to talk about the web itself. Vast and open and universally accessible.

People ask: What software should I use to publish? Where should I publish? Should I build a platform to publish? How should I do it?

And I say: Whether you own your URL or not, your own app or not, whether you Tumblr or Wattpad, just publish. Export often? Yes. Backup feverishly? Of course. But publish everything everywhere. Anything anywhere. Publish twice, thrice, just don’t break the contract if ya got paid."
web  writing  2014  craigmod  publishing  openweb  internet  archiving  independence  adomainofone'sown  indie  publising  hi.co  tumblr  livejournal  rss  urls  search  indexing  multiplicity  open  openness  netneutrality  redundancy  reclaimhosting  indieweb 
september 2014 by robertogreco
She’s Leaving Home | MORNING, COMPUTER
"Ever since she’s been old enough to take herself to bed, her last stop of the night has been to come into the office for a cuddle and a little talk and to say goodnight.  We’re ten days from lift-off and now she feels like every little household routine and tradition is happening for close to the last time.  She’s eighteen now — she started toddling into this room at less than my seated shoulder height — and she’s holding on a little longer at night, taking things slower, making them last a little bit longer.  The woman I helped raise is leaving home.  Off to university in ten days.  She’s ready for it.  She’s excited.  But every now and then I see her feel the chill of sudden altitude in the pit of her stomach.  Off to live alone for the first time in a place she’s barely visited and doesn’t know anyone in.  Working without a net and hanging between handholds.

Never let them think you don’t feel the chill too.  Never let them think they’re alone.  Never hold them back.  Never let them think for a second that a handhold is out of reach."
warrenellis  parenting  2014  children  life  handholding  love  support  safety  independence 
september 2014 by robertogreco
A Thousand Rivers: What the modern world has forgotten about children and learning.
[also here: http://carolblack.org/a-thousand-rivers/ ]

"The following statement somehow showed up on my Twitter feed the other day:
“Spontaneous reading happens for a few kids. The vast majority need (and all can benefit from) explicit instruction in phonics.”

This 127-character edict issued, as it turned out, from a young woman who is the “author of the forthcoming book Brilliant: The Science of How We Get Smarter” and a “journalist, consultant and speaker who helps people understand how we learn and how we can do it better.”

It got under my skin, and not just because I personally had proven in the first grade that it is possible to be bad at phonics even if you already know how to read. It was her tone; that tone of sublime assurance on the point, which, further tweets revealed, is derived from “research” and “data” which demonstrate it to be true.

Many such “scientific” pronouncements have emanated from the educational establishment over the last hundred years or so.  The fact that the proven truths of each generation are discovered by the next to be harmful folly never discourages the current crop of experts who are keen to impose their freshly-minted certainties on children. Their tone of cool authority carries a clear message to the rest of us: “We know how children learn.  You don’t.

So they explain it to us.

The “scientific consensus” about phonics, generated by a panel convened by the Bush administration and used to justify billions of dollars in government contracts awarded to Bush supporters in the textbook and testing industries, has been widely accepted as fact through the years of “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top,” so if history is any guide, its days are numbered. Any day now there will be new research which proves that direct phonics instruction to very young children is harmful, that it bewilders and dismays them and makes them hate reading (we all know that’s often true, so science may well discover it) — and millions of new textbooks, tests, and teacher guides will have to be purchased at taxpayer expense from the Bushes’ old friends at McGraw-Hill.

The problems with this process are many, but the one that I’d like to highlight is this: the available “data” that drives it is not, as a matter of fact, the “science of how people learn.” It is the “science of what happens to people in schools.”

This is when it occurred to me: people today do not even know what children are actually like. They only know what children are like in schools.

Schools as we know them have existed for a very short time historically: they are in themselves a vast social experiment. A lot of data are in at this point. One in four Americans does not know the earth revolves around the sun. Half of Americans don’t know that antibiotics can’t cure a virus. 45% of American high school graduates don’t know that the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. These aren’t things that are difficult to know. If the hypothesis is that universal compulsory schooling is the best way to to create an informed and critically literate citizenry, then anyone looking at the data with a clear eye would have to concede that the results are, at best, mixed. At worst, they are catastrophic: a few strains of superbacteria may be about to prove that point for us.

On the other hand, virtually all white American settlers in the northeastern colonies at the time of the American Revolution could read, not because they had all been to school, and certainly not because they had all been tutored in phonics, which didn’t exist at the time. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, not exactly light reading, sold over 500,000 copies in its first year of publication, the equivalent of a book selling sixty million copies today. People learned to read in a variety of ways, some from small one-room schools, but many from their mothers, from tutors, traveling ministers, apprentice’s masters, relatives, neighbors, friends. They could read because, in a literate population, it is really not that difficult to transmit literacy from one person to the next. When people really want a skill, it goes viral. You couldn’t stop it if you tried.

In other words, they could read for all the same reasons that we can now use computers. We don’t know how to use computers because we learned it in school, but because we wanted to learn it and we were free to learn it in whatever way worked best for us. It is the saddest of ironies that many people now see the fluidity and effectiveness of this process as a characteristic of computers, rather than what it is, which is a characteristic of human beings.

In the modern world, unless you learn to read by age 4, you are no longer free to learn in this way. Now your learning process will be scientifically planned, controlled, monitored and measured by highly trained “experts” operating according to the best available “data.” If your learning style doesn’t fit this year’s theory, you will be humiliated, remediated, scrutinized, stigmatized, tested, and ultimately diagnosed and labelled as having a mild defect in your brain.

How did you learn to use a computer? Did a friend help you? Did you read the manual? Did you just sit down and start playing around with it? Did you do a little bit of all of those things? Do you even remember? You just learned it, right?”



"City kids who grow up among cartoon mice who talk and fish who sing show tunes are so delayed in their grasp of real living systems that Henrich et al. suggest that studying the cognitive development of biological reasoning in urban children may be “the equivalent of studying “normal” physical growth in malnourished children.” But in schools, rural Native children are tested and all too often found to be less intelligent and more learning “disabled” than urban white children, a deeply disturbing phenomenon which turns up among traditional rural people all over the world."



"Human cognitive diversity exists for a reason; our differences are the genius – and the conscience – of our species. It’s no accident that indigenous holistic thinkers are the ones who have been consistently reminding us of our appropriate place in the ecological systems of life as our narrowly-focused technocratic society veers wildly between conservation and wholesale devastation of the planet. It’s no accident that dyslexic holistic thinkers are often our artists, our inventors, our dreamers, our rebels. "



"Right now American phonics advocates are claiming that they “know” how children learn to read and how best to teach them. They know nothing of the kind. A key value in serious scientific inquiry is also a key value in every indigenous culture around the world: humility. We are learning."



"“It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top,” a great artist once said. Science is a tool of breathtaking power and beauty, but it is not a good parent; it must be balanced by something broader, deeper, older. Like wind and weather, like ecosystems and microorganisms, like snow crystals and evolution, human learning remains untamed, unpredictable, a blossoming fractal movement so complex and so mysterious that none of us can measure or control it. But we are part of that fractal movement, and the ability to help our offspring learn and grow is in our DNA. We can begin rediscovering it now. Experiment. Observe. Listen. Explore the thousand other ways of learning that still exist all over the planet. Read the data and then set it aside. Watch your child’s eyes, what makes them go dull and dead, what makes them brighten, quicken, glow with light. That is where learning lies."
carolblack  2014  education  learning  certainty  experts  science  research  data  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  schooling  compulsoryschooling  history  literacy  canon  parenting  experimentation  listening  observation  noticing  indigeneity  howwelearn  howweteach  wisdom  intuition  difference  diversity  iainmcgilchrist  truth  idleness  dyslexia  learningdifferences  rosscooper  neurodiveristy  finland  policy  standards  standardization  adhd  resistance  reading  howweread  sugatamitra  philiplieberman  maori  aboriginal  society  cv  creativity  independence  institutionalization  us  josephhenrich  stevenjheine  aranorenzayan  weird  compulsory  māori  colonization  colonialism 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Our Unitarian Universalist Principles and Sources - UUA
"Unitarian Universalists hold the Principles as strong values and moral teachings. As Rev. Barbara Wells ten Hove explains, “The Principles are not dogma or doctrine, but rather a guide for those of us who choose to join and participate in Unitarian Universalist religious communities.”

1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part."
via:coreycaitlin  unitarianuniversalism  principles  religion  justice  dignity  acceptance  compassion  humanism  truth  meaning  conscience  democracy  peace  liberty  respect  independence 
may 2014 by robertogreco
The conservative case against capitalism - The Week
"But the distributists still have something to offer contemporary conservatives, namely the ideas that economic freedom is measured by the way families flourish; that economic freedom means more than just an income with a boss or a government agency at the end of it; that real freedom is the ability to say no to tyrants in both the public and private spheres. They could profit much from Belloc's insights into how the plutocracy corrupts both representative government and the market. And they could also benefit from grounding their politics, as the early distributists did, not just in theories of liberty or trust in the invisible hand of the market, but in the supreme dignity of man."



"Chesterton, always the better stylist than Belloc, could work himself into righteous fury in defense of the distributist ideal over the capitalist one. He gave that ideal a peroration in the book What's Wrong with the World that suffices as a conclusion for this article, because it has all the revolutionary romance and inevitability of Marx, but more moral force and beauty:
With the red hair of one she-urchin in the gutter I will set fire to all modern civilization. Because a girl should have long hair, she should have clean hair; because she should have clean hair, she should not have an unclean home: because she should not have an unclean home, she should have a free and leisured mother; because she should have a free mother, she should not have an usurious landlord; because there should not be an usurious landlord, there should be a redistribution of property, because there should be a redistribution of property, there shall be a revolution. That little urchin with the gold-red hair, whom I have just watched toddling past my house, she shall not be lopped and lamed and altered; her hair shall not be cut short like a convict's; no, all the kingdoms of the earth shall be hacked about and multilated to suit her. She is the human and sacred image; all around her the social fabric shall sway and slip and fall; the pillars of society shall be shaken, and the roofs of ages come rushing down; and not one hair of her head shall be harmed.
"
capital  capitalism  conservatism  economics  via:ayjay  2014  gkchesterson  thomaspiketty  ryancooper  michaelbrendandougherty  freedom  independence  distributists  hilairebeloc  dignity  labor  property 
april 2014 by robertogreco
The Overprotected Kid - The Atlantic
"A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution."
children  parenting  risk  playgrounds  play  risktaking  safety  education  2014  helicopterparents  hanarosin  independence  strangers  strangerdanger  danger  exploration  helicopterparenting 
march 2014 by robertogreco
If a cat could talk – David Wood – Aeon
[Related: "How Humans Created Cats: Following the invention of agriculture, one thing led to another, and ta da: the world's most popular pet." http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/12/how-humans-created-cats/282391/ ]

"Perhaps because we selected cats for their internal contradictions — friendly to us, deadly to the snakes and rodents that threatened our homes — we shaped a creature that escapes our gaze, that doesn’t merely reflect some simple design goal. One way or another, we have licensed a being that displays its ‘otherness’ and flaunts its resistance to human interests. This is part of the common view of cats: we value their independence. From time to time they might want us, but they don’t need us. Dogs, by contrast, are said to be fawning and needy, always eager to please. Dogs confirm us; cats confound us. And in ways that delight us.

In welcoming one animal to police our domestic borders against other creatures that threatened our food or health, did we violate some boundary in our thinking? Such categories are ones we make and maintain without thinking about them as such. Even at this practical level, cats occupy a liminal space: we live with ‘pets’ that are really half-tamed predators.

From the human perspective, cats might literally patrol the home, but more profoundly they walk the line between the familiar and the strange. When we look at a cat, in some sense we do not know what we are looking at. The same can be said of many non-human creatures, but cats are exemplary. Unlike insects, fish, reptiles and birds, cats both keep their distance and actively engage with us. Books tell us that we domesticated the cat. But who is to say that cats did not colonise our rodent-infested dwellings on their own terms? One thinks of Ruduyard Kipling’s story ‘The Cat That Walked by Himself’ (1902), which explains how Man domesticated all the wild animals except for one: ‘the wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.’

Michel de Montaigne, in An Apology for Raymond Sebond (1580), captured this uncertainty eloquently. ‘When I play with my cat,’ he mused, ‘how do I know that she is not playing with me rather than I with her?’ So often cats disturb us even as they enchant us. We stroke them, and they purr. We feel intimately connected to these creatures that seem to have abandoned themselves totally to the pleasures of the moment. Cats seem to have learnt enough of our ways to blend in. And yet, they never assimilate entirely. In a trice, in response to some invisible (to the human mind, at least) cue, they will leap off our lap and re-enter their own space, chasing a shadow. Lewis Carroll’s image of the smile on the face of the Cheshire cat, which remains even after the cat has vanished, nicely evokes such floating strangeness. Cats are beacons of the uncanny, shadows of something ‘other’ on the domestic scene.

Our relationship with cats is an eruption of the wild into the domestic: a reminder of the ‘far side’, by whose exclusion we define our own humanity. This is how Michel Foucault understood the construction of ‘madness’ in society — it’s no surprise then that he named his own cat Insanity. Cats, in this sense, are vehicles for our projections, misrecognition, and primitive recollection. They have always been the objects of superstition: through their associations with magic and witchcraft, feline encounters have been thought to forecast the future, including death. But cats are also talismans. They have been recognised as astral travellers, messengers from the gods. In Egypt, Burma and Thailand they have been worshipped. Druids have held some cats to be humans in a second life. They are trickster figures, like the fox, coyote and raven. The common meanings and associations that they carry in our culture permeate, albeit unconsciously, our everyday experience of them.

But if the glimpse of a cat can portend the uncanny, what should we make of the cat’s own glance at us? As Jacques Derrida wondered: ‘Say the animal responded?’ If his cat found him naked in the bathroom, staring at his private parts — as discussed in Derrida's 1997 lecture The Animal That Therefore I Am — who would be more naked: the unclothed human or the never clothed animal? To experience the animal looking back at us challenges the confidence of our own gaze — we lose our unquestioned privilege in the universe. Whatever we might think of our ability to subordinate the animal to our categories, all bets are off when we try to include the animal’s own perspective. That is not just another item to be included in our own world view. It is a distinctive point of view — a way of seeing that we have no reason to suppose we can seamlessly incorporate by some imaginative extension of our own perspective.

This goes further than Montaigne’s musings on who is playing with whom. Imaginative reversal — that is, if the cat is playing with us — would be an exercise in humility. But the dispossession of a cat ‘looking back’ is more disconcerting. It verges on the unthinkable. Perhaps when Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote (of a larger cat) in Philosophical Investigations (1953) that: ‘If a lion could talk we would not understand him,’ he meant something similar. If a lion really could possess language, he or she would have a relation to the world that would challenge our own, without there being any guarantee of translatability. Or if, as T S Eliot suggested in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939), cats named themselves as well as being given names by their owners (gazed on by words, if you like), then the order of things — the human order — would be truly shaken."



"Yet the existence of the domestic cat rests on our trust in them to eliminate other creatures who threaten our food and safety. We have a great deal invested in them, if now only symbolically. Snakebites can kill, rats can carry plague: the threat of either brings terror. Cats were bred to be security guards, even as their larger cousins still set their eyes on us and salivate. We like to think we can trust cats. But if we scrutinise their behaviour, our grounds for doing so evaporate.

It is something of an accident that a cat’s lethal instincts align with our interests. They seem recklessly unwilling to manage their own boundaries. Driven as they are by an unbridled spirit of adventure (and killing), they do not themselves seem to have much appreciation of danger. Even if fortune smiles upon them — they are said to have nine lives, after all — in the end, ‘curiosity kills the cat’. Such protection as cats give us seems to be a precarious arrangement."



"Look into the eyes of a cat for a moment. Your gaze will flicker between recognising another being (without quite being able to situate it), and staring into a void. At this point, we would like to think — well, that’s because she or he is a cat. But cannot the same thing happen with our friend, or child, or lover? When we look in the mirror, are we sure we know who we are?"



"Cats, one at a time, as our intimates, our familiars, as strangers in our midst, as mirrors of our co-evolution, as objects of exemplary fascination, pose for us the question: what is it to be a cat? And what is it to be this cat? These questions are contagious. As I stroke Steely Dan, he purrs at my touch. And I begin to ask myself more questions: to whom does this appendage I call my hand belong? What is it to be human? And who, dear feline, do you think I am?"
cats  humans  pets  animals  2013  montaigne  tseliot  wittgenstein  jacquesderrida  gaze  michelfoucault  relationships  nature  consciousness  independence  codependence  rudyardkipling  domestication  davidwood  compatibility  trickster  magic  talismans  micheldemontaigne  foucault 
december 2013 by robertogreco
I AM FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER — Medium
"Dad once called me his frankenstein’s monster, now this sounds like a hard and possibly cruel way to refer to your one and only son, but I never took it as an insult. In fact, I think it tells us about one of the most important traits of how he approached fatherhood; his ultimate aim was to create something he wasn’t. In this simple approach, he did something strong, brave and good. With two children, Vicky and myself, he achieved his goal — we became something completely other to him.

At times he would say that we spoke a different language; our words, ideas and cultural references made him feel like he’d been parachuted into a strange land.. We presented to him, on almost a weekly basis, a challenge to his values and positions on the world. We wouldn’t let him rest with views that were dubious in their ethical and political position, we argued him into submission and frustration. In short, we were massive pains in the arse.

I would like to celebrate this. Without my dad, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t be armed with the passion and drive to argue about the world. In his quite, provocative charm, Dad managed to create his frankensteins. In his desire to make me different to him, he gave me the ultimate prize — a voice of my own.

In a world, where individuals find it hard to take control and direct their lives, my parents gave Vicky and myself the most important powers, that of: autonomy, self determination and independence.

Now, I know my dad never read Mary Shelley. I know that his understanding of Frankenstein was more Boris Karloff than a deep literary analysis. But I think it’s important to recognise that Dr Frankenstein always loved his creation, he just couldn’t fully understand or control it. And like the monster, I was let loose on the world, to wreak havoc!

My favourite story about how dad pushed and extended my life experiences, experiences that he would never enjoy or understand, was with something very close to my heart — food. As a child, I was aware that there were no barriers to me experiencing food. No price too high, or food to strange, my dad would order it off the menu. It was only as an adult did I fully realise that he never partook. The frogs legs, the snails, the chickens feet all appeared at the table for his family to try, without a morsel touching his lips. He relished our enjoyment, he loved introducing me to things that he would never like himself. He sat back, like a voyeuristic gourmet, watching his family experiencing wonderful things. Hedonistic at times, the drive to see pleasure from others demonstrated my dad’s underlying generosity.

Although today, by his own standards, should be spent enjoying good food, great conversation and copious amounts of alcohol. I think I need to reflect on the last two years and the gradual loss, the mental and physical decline, of dad. Dementia is without doubt one of the cruelest diseases to take a person. Those that loved dad have had to witness a slow and miserable loss of his life blood. We have been mourning the man we loved for a while now. But this sad time is over, what we have to hold onto the memories of the good times, the memories of a man who would desperately hold onto his holidays, always provoked deep conversations and ultimately strived to have a good time.

Over the last two years, not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about the world without Tony Ward. However, by the time I was ready to say important things to dad, by the time it was necessary for him to say important things to me, he’d lost his grip on reality. This means I feel that I didn’t get chance to say goodbye, With the overwhelming emotional awkwardness that stops people discussing their feelings towards the people they love, the moment slipped by without me realising it.

But this is okay, it was unlikely, even if he was of sound mind that he’d have said anything. He struggled to express his emotions in that way. He was a man of ‘that generation’ — hard and stoic — and I’ve been aware of this for years. It first struck me, as a teenager, when I’d give him a kiss on the top of his head as he dropped me off at the train station to go to school. I could sense his physical discomfort, but instead of being put off, his monster continued, relishing and forcing him to get used to a big man kissing him in public. The last time I saw dad, on the day he died, I kissed his head."
mattward  parenting  2013  love  children  autonomy  independence  frankenstein  voice  self-determination  storytelling  dementia  food  life  living  debate 
december 2013 by robertogreco
▶ Christina Xu, Breadpig - XOXO Festival (2013) - YouTube
"In many industries, publishers can sometimes hurt unknown artists more than they help. But a new model for publishing is emerging, and Breadpig is paving the way—helping independent artists find a wider audience without losing control over their work. In addition to her work running Breadpig, Christina Xu is co-founder of ROFLCon, the conference on Internet culture, and founding director of the Institute on Higher Awesome Studies, the nonprofit wing of the Awesome Foundation."

[Transcript:
http://breadpig.tumblr.com/post/62171738926/welcome-to-the-new-breadpig-blog-this-is-the ]

See also Frank Chimero:
http://frankchimero.com/blog/2013/09/the-inferno-of-independence/

and Anil Dash:
http://dashes.com/anil/2013/09/xoxo-and-reckoning-with-nice.html ]
christinaxu  breadpig  crowdfunding  xoxo  2013  trailblazing  support  creativity  logistics  supportservices  bootstrapping  independence  interdependence  supportstructures  kickstarter  structure  structurelessness  obsatacles  systemsthinking  darkmatter  norms  communities  meangirls  cliques  meritocracy  gatekeepers  disintermediation 
october 2013 by robertogreco
The Essence of the Japanese Mind: Haruki Murakami and the Nobel Prize |
"In other words, Murakami began to explore how putting the needs of the group before the needs of the individual — often assumed to be an elemental tenet of Japanese society — leads to a disregard for the sacredness of human life."



"Perhaps Murakami’s greatest feat in transitioning to more serious themes from the gleeful apolitical nature of his early work is that his later fiction does not feel drastically different. All of his stories assert that reality and time are bendy and subjective; that consciousness has unseen depths and imagination untold power; and that people are lonely.

But after 1993, Murakami applies the idea of memory as a constructed narrative to historical memory and to history itself. Just as he critiques the media’s description of current events, Murakami calls into question history’s presumed superiority over literature in rendering past and present events.

Unlike the feelings of dislocation and disbelief experienced by Murakami’s characters during actual traumatic moments, many characters feel the fictional stories they’ve read or been told seem more real than reality. Human beings are constantly searching for meaning, for a coherent narrative to bind together the information they are given. History and news can provide this narrative, but fiction, according to Murakami, does it better. Why? Because fiction honors the dignity of an individual consciousness, while history and news group people together, creating the illusion that a hundred, a thousand or a million lives can be analyzed as one.

When I was living with a Japanese family in Hokkaido in 2006, my host mother looked up one day from a TV news report about a woman who had drowned her baby in a bathtub and asked me how mothers in America kill their children. Foreigners in Japan often find themselves having these conversations: In Japan we do it this one, established way. How do you do it in your country? Sometimes, this makes sense. In America, public school students don’t wear uniforms. In Japan, they do.

I would often find holes in these seemingly universal pronouncements about “how we do things.” In Japan, only babies drink milk, an older woman told me once. Weeks later, I noticed a colleague sipping the stuff during a morning meeting.

Japan likes to believe itself to be unified in spirit and behavior, impervious to foreign influence. And to a certain extent, it is. But in the 21st century, no island is an island. If Murakami ever does win the Nobel, Japan will rally in celebration behind him, all past grievances forgotten, and his vision of the country — teeming with idiosyncratic individuals who know the chorus to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” better than the details of how to perform a tea ceremony — will enter the canon.

And somewhere, Yasunari Kawabata, whose Nobel lecture discussed Zen, cherry blossoms, flower arrangement, and calligraphy, will be rolling in his grave."
harukimurakami  2013  memory  time  history  memories  fiction  literature  amandalewis  japan  subjectivity  storytelling  narrative  independence  individuality  interdependence  culture  identity 
october 2013 by robertogreco
The apparent difficulty of living in my head, freelancing, working for large organisations and then descending in to paranoia. |
"So that’s where I am now. Toughing it out in the freelance world, sometimes turning down opportunities because I can’t reconcile my own feelings while at the same time running out of money and wondering if it’s more or less morally responsible to make sure my kids get fed vs working for an org where I’d feel uncomfortable."



"So I mistrust the government, home office and civil service, fine. I don’t need to go anywhere near them. I don’t think I’m going to end up in a position of being asked to A/B test the message on the side of the Home Office van.

I’m also not really a nail that’s standing out the furtherest.

But what happens, and this is something I probably do have the opportunity to mess around with, if I start getting all anti the Cameron Internet Firewall, and I get involved with building a secure decentralised news distrubution channel? What happens in 10 years time, when someone turns up and says… “You should see some of the things your son has been doing in private on the internet, maybe you want to come and help us?“, although of course that sounds stupid.

Here’s another ridiculous one, “Wouldn’t it be such a shame if your daughter was bullied, in just the way Cameron’s firewall was going to prevent but you opposed, and we all know how bullying can end”

Like, anything my family do on the internet could be used against me. How utterly foolish to think that could ever happen, obviously it won’t!

The chilling effect is basically me going “fuck it” and getting out of tech altogether. It’s a bit hard saying “Don’t be evil” when they’re twisting the arm of someone you love… and fortunately there’s been no examples of that kind of thing going on, so I bet we’re all fine.

I’m getting that much closer to jacking it all in and becoming an artist.

Who honestly wants to be the next brilliant mind to go up against the government?

I’m even begining to believe that agency world working for big brands isn’t that particularly evil after all, well, as long as they pay taxes and decent wages to their works… ah, fuck it all."
revdancatt  2013  work  labor  tradeoffs  freelancing  employment  cv  purpose  privacy  internet  web  google  yahoo  flickr  independence  trust  business  capitalism 
august 2013 by robertogreco
The Learning Project
"This is a free book that I have written for teenagers interested in taking control of their lives. It addresses learning in a general sense by interviewing different people and asking them to describe their learning process, why it's important, how they do it, and what it's done for them.

The interviews are with young, middle-aged, and older people working or interested in either of 11 different fields. The same interviews can be viewed by field of interest, by age, or by name. You can switch from one view to another using the radio buttons shown below. Each interview can be read online, or downloaded as a PDF document.

For some people school is important, for others it isn't. Curiosity, determination and self-confidence keep coming up in these stories, as do the teachers people have had and the discoveries they have made. Judgment is critical. Learn to trust your judgment, your own judgment."

[From the about page:]

"About The Project
The Learning Project makes deep insights available through interviews on the subject of learning, collected from people in different fields. The interviews come from young people of high school age, people in their middle-age who are pursuing a career, and established elders.

All the people interviewed in the project are asked:
- What are the most important things you've learned?
- How did you learn them?
- What have you, or do you hope to accomplish?

The learning project weaves a dialog on the subject of learning, where "learning" is used in the sense of building one's life. Learning to grow up human. This is a kind of learning that each person must define and execute for themselves.

How It Started

The Learning Project combines my experiences from learning as a young person through middle age. I was independent-minded from childhood . I began rock climbing at 13 and, without the help of anyone in my family or community, I was planning major mountaineering expeditions by 16. These early projects taught me that important questions were not easy to find or to answer.

Since I was interested in science but didn't know what it involved I went to speak to the best scientists I could find. I contacted Eugene P. Wigner, 1963 Nobel Laureat in quantum physics. He was so excited to hear from me, though he'd never heard from me before, that he offered to pick me up at the train station. From Eugene Wigner I began to learn the usefulness of wise advice. 45 years later I appreciate how important good advice is … and that it's almost entirely unavailable to young people.

Consider how these insights might be of use to you. It's your journey, and yours alone.

– Lincoln Stoller, New York, 2007"

[via: http://bcl.ece.illinois.edu/ via http://complexfields.org/ongoing-projects/bcl-igb ]
education  unschooling  deschooling  lincolnstoller  learning  teens  youth  interviews  schools  schooling  curiosity  lcproject  openstudioproject  independence 
july 2013 by robertogreco
nicoleslaw
“I think you’re suggesting that to live in illusion, to be a slave to the worldview of your time and place, or to be all your life a follower of orders—these are all in a way different forms of oppression. But I think you’re suggesting that all human beings have the capacity to collaborate in the task of guiding their own lives—and the life of the place where they work, the life of their community, the life of the world. It would be so amazing if people could take that possibility seriously.”

— Wallace Shawn in an interview with Noam Chomsky [http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/20040917.pdf ]
wallaceshawn  noamchomsky  oppression  community  interdependence  independence  agency  cooperation  hierarchy  hierarchies  time  place  2004  autonomy 
july 2013 by robertogreco
The Republic of Užupis: Bohemia in Lithuania
"In 1995, a group of Lithuanian artists and intellectuals erected a statue of Frank Zappa in the nation’s capital Vilnius. Two years later, on April Fool’s Day 1997, the city’s bohemian quarter declared itself an independent Republic, replete with approximately 12 man army."



"Užupis has been an independent Republic revolving around art and culture ever since. It now holds feasts, firework shows and open-air art exhibitions. The current mayor of Vilnius not only tolerates but supports the Republic and even takes part in their events. Užupis currently has four honorary citizens – Jonas Mekas, Dalai Lama, Ugnė Karvelis, and Zenonas Šteinys.

To read about another historical example of a republic intended as a bohemian utopia, follow the link to our article on the Free State of Fiume (1919-1920)."
1995  1997  vilnius  lithuania  užupis  anarchism  independence  micronations  frankzappa  jonasmekas  dalailama  ugnėkarvelis  zenonasŠteinys  fiume  governance  anarchy  culture 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Hiut Denim - Our user manual
"12, Judge the business over the long-term. The early years are never easy.

It takes time to build a business. The first couple of years are inevitably tricky. The basic systems and the infrastructure all have to be built up from scratch, the customer will have to be found, and the product refined. It is a time when the business is both time and cash hungry.

But we should not be quick to judge the business. It should be given time to grow slowly. Patience is what will be needed. Hard work takes time to show the fruits of all that labour.

We should view a young business as we would a young child. It needs love, time and a set of rules to adhere to. It will make mistakes, it will fall and it will need the parents to be there for it as it grows and becomes its own person. We should not make too many demands on it when it is young, let the child play for a while.

It will grow up before we know it.

[There is no #13?]

14, Lets not underestimate the importance of lady luck.

Luck matters. You can have a great product, a great team, and an idea how to change things, and still fail. All businesses need luck.

The best way to get luck on our side is to work hard at what we love doing, and have ideas that haven’t been done before. And be honest with people, keep our word, and sometimes do things for people without expecting anything in return.

The other aspect to luck is its close cousin called talent. To have a feel for what the customer wants, to imagine something that doesn’t exist, to come up with something that captures a zeitgeist, well, that has little to do with luck.

These two things are often confused with each other. But both are vital to success.

15, Stay independent. Stay in control. (See point 1&2)

It is important to be in control of your own destiny. William Blake said it best “you need to create your own system or be enslaved by another man’s”.

The reason our independence is important for us is that it allows us to shape the business by what we feel is right, it can grow at a pace that the company feels comfortable with, it can make decisions for the long term, it can do things that make no sense to the bottom line at the time, but may well do in the future.

This may mean that our company will not be the biggest, but it should ensure the company stays true, creative and loved. And, importantly, that it will keep making jeans in this town when there will always be cheaper places to make them.

I will settle for being great at this thing over being big at this thing."



"17, Make us all proud of the company we own.

We measure things mostly in numbers. But there are other important ways to measure how well a business is doing. These are things like ‘Are we proud of it?’, ‘Is it loved?, Is it insanely creative?

But these are just as important as ‘Are we growing?’ ‘Are the margins good?’ ‘Are the customers happy?’

If we build something we are incredibly proud of, that is loved, that is insanely creative, you can be sure that it will also be a great business too.

18, Work with great people. Go home early.

We are going to run a creative company. The good thing is we know how to work with creative people. If we work with great people, they will challenge us. They will push us. They will frighten us. But ultimately it will be a much easier life than working with average, mediocre, or middle of the road.

When we find great people, we will do the following: trust them, give them room that their talent deserves, and let them fly like they have never flown before.

19, Make it fun. Make it easy.

The wrong stress is not good for a business. Or, for the people running it.
But you can minimize the wrong stress by planning for less sales than you hope for and for keeping your costs lower than the business requires. And you can put in systems so that the business is easy to run. Systems that work almost without thinking.

Then we can get on with the serious stuff of making the business as creative and as fun as we possibly can. The ideas that will come out of that culture will make us stand out. They will increase sales. Help us get known. And define us.

In time, that will produce good stress of ‘how on earth are we going to get all these orders out of the door’. And ‘how do we come up with another idea as good as the last one’. That is good stress."



"23, Don’t be average.

Be great at what you do. Life is short."
hiut  via:ethanbodnar  business  slow  patience  tcsnmy  cv  small  luck  growth  manifestos  communitymanagement  inspiration  management  manifesto  administration  leadership  values  howwework  success  fulfillment  williamblake  independence  standingout  talent  time  control 
june 2013 by robertogreco
unphotographable please, do not mistake autonomy for individualism.
"individualism says i live in a box. says i have a worldview that is a reaction to the other. says i am so reactive that i shut me in my own self. says i carve my own grades and praise my own mirrors. there, in my comfortable box, i build me beautifully for myself. says i am gorgeous and who contradicts me will be shot. everyone around are threats. so, to do not shoot anybody, i stay in my box. nobody is good enough for me to get out of myself. i do not need anyone but me.

on the other hand, autonomy says there is no box. says there is no grid or mirror, because there is no projection. to be honest, it says, neither i exist. i am free not for not needing anyone, but for having overcome my own desires - thus, i am free from the main prison: myself. free to be whatever i want, as i want, with whomever i want. joins me the ones who celebrate not me, not her or himself, not us, but that celebrates the eternal path of liberation. says everyone around me are lovers. not of me, i don’t even exist, but lovers of the love we are when in union.

i don’t need anything, because i can embrace it all."
individualism  autonomy  independence  interdependence  libertarianism  humanism  anarchism  liberty  love 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Teresa Forcades, the radical Catalan nun on a mission - video | World news | guardian.co.uk
"Sister Teresa Forcades is one of Catalonia's foremost political figures, but uniquely for a faith-led figure in Spain, her ideology is feminist and left-wing. Against a backdrop of continued economic contraction and austerity, she spoke to the Guardian about the need for an alternative to capitalism and criticised the misogyny of the Catholic church."
teresaforcades  2013  spain  españa  catholicchurch  catholicism  religion  politics  catalonia  cataluña  feminism  left  economics  capitalism  independence  diversity  culturaldiversity  culture  homogenization  misogyny  pope  power  women  gender 
may 2013 by robertogreco
A Practical Utopian’s Guide to the Coming Collapse | David Graeber | The Baffler
[Now here: http://www.thebaffler.com/salvos/a-practical-utopians-guide-to-the-coming-collapse ]

"What is a revolution? We used to think we knew. Revolutions were seizures of power by popular forces aiming to transform the very nature of the political, social, and economic system in the country in which the revolution took place, usually according to some visionary dream of a just society. Nowadays, we live in an age when, if rebel armies do come sweeping into a city, or mass uprisings overthrow a dictator, it’s unlikely to have any such implications; when profound social transformation does occur—as with, say, the rise of feminism—it’s likely to take an entirely different form. It’s not that revolutionary dreams aren’t out there. But contemporary revolutionaries rarely think they can bring them into being by some modern-day equivalent of storming the Bastille."



"Revolutions are thus planetary phenomena. But there is more. What they really do is transform basic assumptions about what politics is ultimately about. In the wake of a revolution, ideas that had been considered veritably lunatic fringe quickly become the accepted currency of debate. Before the French Revolution, the ideas that change is good, that government policy is the proper way to manage it, and that governments derive their authority from an entity called “the people” were considered the sorts of things one might hear from crackpots and demagogues, or at best a handful of freethinking intellectuals who spend their time debating in cafés. A generation later, even the stuffiest magistrates, priests, and headmasters had to at least pay lip service to these ideas. Before long, we had reached the situation we are in today: that it’s necessary to lay out the terms for anyone to even notice they are there. They’ve become common sense, the very grounds of political discussion.

Until 1968, most world revolutions really just introduced practical refinements: an expanded franchise, universal primary education, the welfare state. The world revolution of 1968, in contrast—whether it took the form it did in China, of a revolt by students and young cadres supporting Mao’s call for a Cultural Revolution; or in Berkeley and New York, where it marked an alliance of students, dropouts, and cultural rebels; or even in Paris, where it was an alliance of students and workers—was a rebellion against bureaucracy, conformity, or anything that fettered the human imagination, a project for the revolutionizing of not just political or economic life, but every aspect of human existence. As a result, in most cases, the rebels didn’t even try to take over the apparatus of state; they saw that apparatus as itself the problem."



"In retrospect, though, I think that later historians will conclude that the legacy of the sixties revolution was deeper than we now imagine, and that the triumph of capitalist markets and their various planetary administrators and enforcers—which seemed so epochal and permanent in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991—was, in fact, far shallower."



"In fact, most of the economic innovations of the last thirty years make more sense politically than economically. Eliminating guaranteed life employment for precarious contracts doesn’t really create a more effective workforce, but it is extraordinarily effective in destroying unions and otherwise depoliticizing labor. The same can be said of endlessly increasing working hours. No one has much time for political activity if they’re working sixty-hour weeks.

It does often seem that, whenever there is a choice between one option that makes capitalism seem the only possible economic system, and another that would actually make capitalism a more viable economic system, neoliberalism means always choosing the former. The combined result is a relentless campaign against the human imagination. Or, to be more precise: imagination, desire, individual creativity, all those things that were to be liberated in the last great world revolution, were to be contained strictly in the domain of consumerism, or perhaps in the virtual realities of the Internet. In all other realms they were to be strictly banished. We are talking about the murdering of dreams, the imposition of an apparatus of hopelessness, designed to squelch any sense of an alternative future. Yet as a result of putting virtually all their efforts in one political basket, we are left in the bizarre situation of watching the capitalist system crumbling before our very eyes, at just the moment everyone had finally concluded no other system would be possible.

Work It Out, Slow It Down

Normally, when you challenge the conventional wisdom—that the current economic and political system is the only possible one—the first reaction you are likely to get is a demand for a detailed architectural blueprint of how an alternative system would work, down to the nature of its financial instruments, energy supplies, and policies of sewer maintenance. Next, you are likely to be asked for a detailed program of how this system will be brought into existence. Historically, this is ridiculous. When has social change ever happened according to someone’s blueprint? It’s not as if a small circle of visionaries in Renaissance Florence conceived of something they called “capitalism,” figured out the details of how the stock exchange and factories would someday work, and then put in place a program to bring their visions into reality. In fact, the idea is so absurd we might well ask ourselves how it ever occurred to us to imagine this is how change happens to begin.

This is not to say there’s anything wrong with utopian visions. Or even blueprints. They just need to be kept in their place. The theorist Michael Albert has worked out a detailed plan for how a modern economy could run without money on a democratic, participatory basis. I think this is an important achievement—not because I think that exact model could ever be instituted, in exactly the form in which he describes it, but because it makes it impossible to say that such a thing is inconceivable. Still, such models can be only thought experiments. We cannot really conceive of the problems that will arise when we start trying to build a free society. What now seem likely to be the thorniest problems might not be problems at all; others that never even occurred to us might prove devilishly difficult. There are innumerable X-factors.

The most obvious is technology. This is the reason it’s so absurd to imagine activists in Renaissance Italy coming up with a model for a stock exchange and factories—what happened was based on all sorts of technologies that they couldn’t have anticipated, but which in part only emerged because society began to move in the direction that it did. This might explain, for instance, why so many of the more compelling visions of an anarchist society have been produced by science fiction writers (Ursula K. Le Guin, Starhawk, Kim Stanley Robinson). In fiction, you are at least admitting the technological aspect is guesswork.

Myself, I am less interested in deciding what sort of economic system we should have in a free society than in creating the means by which people can make such decisions for themselves. What might a revolution in common sense actually look like? I don’t know, but I can think of any number of pieces of conventional wisdom that surely need challenging if we are to create any sort of viable free society. I’ve already explored one—the nature of money and debt—in some detail in a recent book. I even suggested a debt jubilee, a general cancellation, in part just to bring home that money is really just a human product, a set of promises, that by its nature can always be renegotiated."
debt  economics  politics  revolution  work  labor  davidgraeber  power  society  revolutions  2013  grassroots  punk  global  conformity  bureaucracy  feminism  1789  frenchrevolution  1848  1968  communism  independence  freedom  1917  thestate  commonsense  fringe  ideas  memes  socialmovements  war  collateraldamage  civilrights  gayrights  neoliberalism  freemarkets  libertarianism  debtcancellation  fear  insecurity  consumerism  occupy  occupywallstreet  ows  sustainability  growth  well-being  utopianism  productivity  environment  humanism  ideology  class  classstruggle  abbiehoffman  slow  supervision  control  management  taylorism  virtue  artleisure  discipline  leisurearts  globalization 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Things We Don't Say — nicoleslaw
"It's easy to know everything when you're on your own, following the voice inside. I've always been independent. But things are better with other people involved, especially if we speak up and listen to each other. It takes work to be open to those ups and downs.

Lately, I worry about the things we don't want to publish or put on the record. The things held under our breath or sent in whispers. The things we don't say.

Because those things are what really bind us together when they get out. Those things make us feel normal. Not crazy, or alone. Therapists call this normalizing; I would call it just being honest. I hope we can share emotional stories and uncover happy gasps of relief that say, "I feel the same way!" or "That's totally normal." I hope we don't tell people they're crazy if we dislike their ideas. I hope we don't equate strength with silence.

This is our work. Let's find a way to be real with each other."
trust  honesty  learning  normalizing  individualism  collectivism  cooperation  independence  interdependence  2013  howwework  writing  sharing  vulnerability  emotions  constructivecriticism  workingitout  listening 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Not An Employee
"You’re independent but you don’t have to be alone. In the past few years, the coworking movement has resulted in community-minded spaces for independent workers around the world. These are not stiff and stifling “business incubator” or “office condo” spaces. They are spaces where independent workers come together for collaboration and camaraderie.

If you are in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area, we invite you to join us at The Workantile Exchange - a coworking space in the heart of downtown. The location is outstanding, the community is vibrant and the benefits of membership are vast.

If you are not local to Ann Arbor, we encourage you to find not an employees around you. You can check the Coworking Wiki to see if there is an existing space near you, or you might consider starting your own ad hoc group. Most coworking spaces start out humbly, as groups of like-minded people getting together regularly at coffee shops or in other public spaces. Community comes first."
workantile  community  annarbor  independence  freedom  williamtozier  freelancing  freelance  coworking 
december 2012 by robertogreco
More than a club: FC Barcelona and Catalonia's road to independence – video | Football | guardian.co.uk
"As Catalonia votes in an election that could lead to a referendum on independence from Spain, Sid Lowe looks at one of the region's great cultural sporting icons, FC Barcelona, and its role in Catalan identity. Key figures in the club's history, including Johan Cruyff, Joan Laporta and current vice-president Carles Vilarrubí explore Barça's motto 'more than a club' and its role in today's political landscape"
sidlowe  carlesvilarrubí  joanlaporta  johancruyff  españa  spain  nationalism  barça  2012  futbol  sports  politics  independence  football  barcelona  catalonia  soccer 
november 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
'Children Succeed' With Character, Not Test Scores : NPR
"the scientists, the economists and neuroscientists and psychologists who I've been studying and writing about are really challenging the idea that IQ, that standardized test scores, that those are the most important things in a child's success."

"There are two stages [of parenthood] and it's hard to tell where the transition goes from one to the other. When kids are really young — when they're in their first year or two of life — my sense from the research is you can't be too loving. ... What kids need at that point is just support, attention, parents who are really attuned to the child's needs. But at some point somewhere around 1, or 2 or 3, that really starts to change and what kids need is independence and challenge. And certainly as kids get into middle childhood and into adolescence, that's exactly what they need. They need less parenting. ... They need parents to really stand back, let them fall and get back up, let them fight their own battles."
cognitiveskill  iq  sucess  stressmanagement  stress  goal-setting  curiosity  grit  books  paultough  challenge  assessment  testing  confidence  childhood  adolescents  adolescence  independence  via:steelemaley  2012  parenting  learning  children  character  education 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Albert Cullum, Pablo Picasso and The Art of Teaching | Teaching Out Loud
""I think teaching is pushing them away from you…through different doors. Not embracing them. When you embrace someone, you’re holding them back. Picasso really captured that in his art work, Mother and Child: a chunky mother, balancing the baby perfectly. She doesn’t hold him…it’s balance…he can go, anytime he’s capable of going, but he’s perfectly balanced until he takes the step. Classroom teaching should be that. Find a security spot for them and then they’re ready to go."

…the “balance” to which Cullum refers has more to do with allowing children to discover their own uniqueness, their own abilities and their own “script”. He creates the structures and the strategies that allow this discovery to take place,  but the goal is never to have them cling to him as teacher. Instead, the goal is to have them embrace that uniqueness and potential and run with it…as far as they can in whatever direction they choose."
children  parenting  learning  education  belesshelpful  deschooling  unschooling  potential  discovery  balance  howweteach  cv  2012  stephenhurley  albertcullem  dependence  independence  freedom  control  teaching 
may 2012 by robertogreco
A Field Guide to the Middle-Class U.S. Family - WSJ.com
"Anthropologist Elinor Ochs and her colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles have studied family life as far away as Samoa and the Peruvian Amazon region, but for the last decade they have focused on a society closer to home: the American middle class.

Why do American children depend on their parents to do things for them that they are capable of doing for themselves? How do U.S. working parents' views of "family time" affect their stress levels? These are just two of the questions that researchers at UCLA's Center on Everyday Lives of Families, or CELF, are trying to answer in their work."

"Among the findings: The families had very a child-centered focus, which may help explain the "dependency dilemma" seen among American middle-class families, says Dr. Ochs. Parents intend to develop their children's independence, yet raise them to be relatively dependent, even when the kids have the skills to act on their own, she says."

[Bane of my existence]
via:lauralavoie  counterproductivepractices  research  2012  society  trends  anthropology  elinorochs  familytime  child-centered  ucla  helicopterparents  helicopterparenting  independence  children  parenting  us  families 
march 2012 by robertogreco
tevis thompson: Saving Zelda
"A world is more than a space, more than a place; it is something to inhabit & be inhabited by. What you infuse a space w/ to make it habitable, to make it memorable (since memory is profoundly spatial), gives the place its character, its soul…

Zelda would be better if it had no story…no plot to structure the adventure…first Zs barely had any plot…were better for it. With plot, sequence matters too much…early Zs had situations, worlds & scenarios that framed action, gaps to be filled in by player, sequences to be broken. Optimal paths & shortcuts weren’t a given; they had to be earned. Items were the most prominent plot devices, & even they were not unduly strict about order. You could be slow & steady or blast straight through with a little know-how…basic rules of the gameworld were what bound you, not some artificial necessity imposed for the sake of plot."

…a world is not for you. A world needs a substance, independence, sense that it doesn’t just disappear when you turn around."

[Update [17 June 2016]:

Revisited thanks to:
"(And Thompson's essay, excerpted in the previous: http://tevisthompson.com/saving-zelda/ )"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/754162412484452352

See also:
"Thinking about this but for learning: http://makegames.tumblr.com/post/147367627844/this-is-an-excerpt-from-the-spelunky-book-which "
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/754162176345210880

"And the ideas of "intentional obtuseness" in Pokemon Go (and Snapchat): https://medium.com/@helvetica/full-thoughts-on-pokemon-go-from-my-interview-on-the-verge-178b97b1112b "
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/754162625802534912
2012  space  play  openendedness  open-ended  autonomy  exploration  memory  spatialmemory  worlds  worldbuilding  nintendo  videogames  gaming  zelda  games  gamecriticism  gamedesign  via:tealtan  tevisthompson  howwelearn  hyrule  legendofzelda  independence  zpd  howweplay 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Welcome to the Age of Overparenting - Boston Magazine - bostonmagazine.com
"…pushing kids can be just as bad for them as attending to their every desire…children of upper-class, highly educated parents…are increasingly anxious & depressed. Children with “high perfectionist strivings” were likely to see achievement failures as personal failures…being constantly shuttled between activities…ends up leaving suburban adolescents feeling more isolated from parents.

…while today’s middle- & upper-middle-class children have an unprecedented array of opportunities, their experiences are often manufactured by us…Nearly everything they do is orchestrated, if not by their parents, then by some other adult…But their experiences aren’t very rich in the messier way — in those moments of unfettered abandon when part of the thrill is the risk of harm, hurt feelings, or struggle. In our attempt to manage & support every moment of our children’s lives, they become something that belongs to us, not them.

[ http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/the_age_of_overparenting/ ]
parenting  children  stress  anxiety  anxiousparenting  helicopterparenting  helicopterparents  2011  caroldweck  petergray  suniyaluthar  behavior  messiness  play  unstructuredtime  learning  life  overparenting  unschooling  deschooling  freedom  independence  education 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Generation Make | TechCrunch
"We have a distrust of large organizations…don’t look down on people creating small businesses. But we’re not emotionless…We have anger…flares up to become Arab Spring & OccupyWallStreet…We have ego…every entrepreneur who thinks their tech startup is the best…We have passion, & an intense drive to follow…through, immediately. Our generation is autonomous…impatient. We refuse to pay our dues…want to be running the department. We hop from job to job…average tenure…is just 3 years. We think we can do anything we can imagine…hate the idea that we should ever be beholden to someone else. We do this because we have been abandoned by the institutions that should have embraced us…We are a generation of makers…of creators. Maybe we don’t have the global idealism of the hippies. Our idealism is more individual: that every person should be able to live their own life, working on what they choose, creating what they choose…"
socialmedia  makers  making  generations  millennials  2011  justinkan  williamderesiewicz  entrepreneurship  ows  arabspring  occupywallstreet  idealism  attitude  trends  passion  unschooling  deschooling  hierarchy  revolution  via:preoccupations  davidfincer  markzuckerberg  individualism  self-actualization  independence  work  labor  behavior  startups  startup  workplace  motivation  geny  generationy 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Our Unpaid, Extra Shadow Work - NYTimes.com
"Doing things for one another is, in fact, an essential characteristic of a human community. Various mundane jobs were once spread around among us, and performing such small services for one another was even an aspect of civility. Those days are over. The robots are in charge now, pushing a thousand routine tasks onto each of our backs."
fatigue  work  shadowwork  2011  craiglambert  shadowchores  brain  time  urgency  economics  well-being  technology  self-service  serviceeconomy  services  menialtasks  community  interdependence  independence  individualism 
october 2011 by robertogreco
What diversity means « Snarkmarket
"…if you’re broke or have less education, your child’s more likely to go undiagnosed/misdiagnosed & be treated as slow or mentally retarded…even if you get the “right” diagnosis, the therapies offered & your ability to take advantage of them will vary wildly depending on your resources. Maybe especially time.

…just as autism stories overwhelmingly focus on children, not adults, they also overwhelmingly focus on the wealthy, not the poor…& the link between autism & poverty is extraordinary once a child becomes an adult — what “independence” means in that context is very different.

This is also to say that while all these additional considerations are important, fuck that shit. Because autism does cut across class, race, gender, sexual identity & physical ability, etc…because of that, it changes what we mean by diversity, what kinds of diversity count, what diversity we ought to care about, & how we think about all of these issues of identity & privilege taken all together."
autism  aspergers  timcarmody  2011  poverty  class  race  diversity  gender  wealth  independence  childhood  parenting  adulthood  privilege  identity  education  diagnosis 
september 2011 by robertogreco
» A Focus on Founders: The Anatomy of a New Design Education Johnny Holland – It's all about interaction » Blog Archive
"In a word, the intent of our educational model is disruption. At AC4D, we intend to empower our alumni to make a difference in the world, using the persuasive, thoughtful, and provocative ualities of design (or “design thinking” combined with “design doing”) as the mechanism

But there’s another question that we ask, and strive to answer, and this question is more important: what should we design, in the first place?…

…our initial question – what should we design, in the first place – alters the conversation about “career.” When we start to question the fundamentals of our industry and the economic system that contains it, we arrive quickly at a rejection of “corporate vs. consultancy”, “job titles”, and the other baggage of our jobs…

And this poses a problem for designers acting as entrepreneurs: how can they remain focused, passionate, and excited during the process of packaging, refining, detailing, and producing the actual offering?"
ac4d  jonkolko  education  socialentrepreneurship  designeducation  independence  meaning  disruption  2011  focus  passion  creativity  designthinking  altgdp  entrepreneurship  empowerment 
july 2011 by robertogreco
» A Focus on Founders: The Anatomy of a New Design Education Johnny Holland – It's all about interaction » Blog Archive
"In a word, the intent of our educational model is disruption. At AC4D, we intend to empower our alumni to make a difference in the world, using the persuasive, thoughtful, and provocative ualities of design (or “design thinking” combined with “design doing”) as the mechanism.

But there’s another question that we ask, and strive to answer, and this question is more important: what should we design, in the first place?…
…our initial question – what should we design, in the first place – alters the conversation about “career.” When we start to question the fundamentals of our industry and the economic system that contains it, we arrive quickly at a rejection of “corporate vs. consultancy”, “job titles”, and the other baggage of our jobs…

And this poses a problem for designers acting as entrepreneurs: how can they remain focused, passionate, and excited during the process of packaging, refining, detailing, and producing the actual offering?"
ac4d  jonkolko  education  socialentrepreneurship  designeducation  independence  meaning  disruption  2011  focus  passion  creativity  designthinking  altgdp  entrepreneurship  empowerment 
july 2011 by robertogreco
South Sudan: The Newest Nation in the World - Alan Taylor - In Focus - The Atlantic
"Last Saturday, the Republic of South Sudan declared its independence, creating the newest nation in the world -- the 193rd nation to join the United Nations. The new country has been in the making since a referendum last January, when nearly 4 million southern Sudanese voted to secede from Sudan by a margin of more than 98 percent. The region has been involved in civil wars for at least the past 50 years, and the days-old nation is already battling several armed groups within its new borders. Many issues still remain unresolved -- the oil-rich region continues to rely on pipelines that run through Sudan, and a revenue-sharing agreement has not been reached. The new nation, which is comprised of more than 200 ethnic groups, has a largely rural economy, and poverty, civil warfare, and political instability will be the biggest of many challenges for the new administration. Gathered here are scenes from South Sudan as it made its debut on the world stage this weekend. [35 photos]"
southsudan  sudan  independence  2011  infocus  photography  classideas  moments 
july 2011 by robertogreco
My Summer at an Indian Call Center | Mother Jones
"Call-center employees gain their financial independence at the risk of an identity crisis. A BPO salary is contingent on worker's ability to de-Indianize: to adopt a Western name & accent &, to some extent, attitude. Aping Western culture has long been fashionable; in the call-center classroom, it's company policy. Agents know that their jobs only exist because of the low value the world market ascribes to Indian labor. The more they embrace the logic of global capitalism, the more they must confront the notion that they are worth less."

"In a sense, Arjuna is too westernized to be happy in India. He speaks with an American accent, listens to American rock music, & suffers from American-style malaise. In his more candid moments, he admits that life would have been easier if he had hewn to the traditional Indian path. "I spent my youth searching for the real me. Sometimes I feel that now I've destroyed anything that is the real me, that I am floating somewhere in between.""
culture  economics  work  india  outsourcing  callcenters  identity  thirdculture  independence  freedom  tradeoffs  unintendedconsequences  money  motivation  2011  tradition  westernization 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Muddying titles and Charlie Chaplin's Speech in "The Great Dictator (1940) - Artichoke's Wunderkammern
Chaplin [unmixed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLci5DoZqHU ]: "Greed has poisoned men's souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge as made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all."

Koolhaas: "Conceptually, each monitor, each TV screen is a substitute for a window; real life is inside, cyberspace has become the great outdoors..."
pamhook  charliechaplin  machines  technology  life  humans  humanity  humanism  human  freedom  independence  levmanovich  remkoolhaas  schools  education  inception  hanszimmer  collaboration  newmedia  2011  democracy  remix  remixing  collage  opensource  interactive  interactivity  authorship  internet  web  online  literacy  kindness  gentleness  tcsnmy  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  socialemotionallearning  relationships  artichokeblog  socialemotional  remixculture 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Cradles of Eminence?
"If you really learn more about the childhoods of men and women who would late  become eminent, the common factors were more that they were allowed to do what they wanted to do and immerse themselves in whatever interesting subject or idea struck them at the time. It looks very different from this scheduled routine of Junior Kumon, karate classes, and after preschool tutoring all before the age of 7. "
learning  motivation  eminence  flowtheory  neurolearning  deirdrelovecky  education  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  lcproject  freedom  independence  freetime  self-directedlearning  interestdriven  kumon  testing  testprep  math  mathematics  rote  rotelearning  non-traditional  alternative  experience  parenting  generalists  2011 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Valence Theory of Organization / FrontPage
"In a nutshell, my research finds that [Bureaucratic, Administratively controlled, & Hierarchical] organizations…replace the complexity of human dynamics in social systems with the complication of machine-analogous procedures that enable individual independence, responsibility, and accountability. In contrast, [Ubiquitously Connected & Pervasively Proximate] organizations encourage and enable processes of continual emergence by valuing and promoting complex interactions even though doing so necessitates ceding legitimated control in an environment of individual autonomy and agency, collective responsibility, and mutual accountability. The consequential differences in how each type of organization operates day-to-day are like comparing the societies of Ancient Greece, the medieval Church, the Industrial Age, and today's contemporary reality of Ubiquitous Connectivity and Pervasive Proximity."

[via: https://twitter.com/bopuc/status/71130524705492992 ]
complexity  hierarchy  bureaucracy  organizations  tcsnmy  leadership  management  administration  lcproject  learning  networkedlearning  networkculture  autonomy  agency  howwework  howwelearn  organization  accountability  innovation  valencetheory  toread  markfederman  emergentcurriculum  emergent  society  industrial  ubiquitousconnectivity  ubiquitouslearning  relationships  responsibility  independence  freedom 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Amazon.com: Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility (9780345341846): James P. Carse: Books
"An extraordinary book that will dramatically change the way you experience life.

Finite games are the familiar contests of everyday life, the games we play in business and politics, in the bedroom and on the battlefied -- games with winners and losers, a beginning and an end. Infinite games are more mysterious -- and ultimately more rewarding. They are unscripted and unpredictable; they are the source of true freedom.

In this elegant and compelling work, James Carse explores what these games mean, and what they can mean to you. He offers stunning new insights into the nature of property and power, of culture and community, of sexuality and self-discovery, opening the door to a world of infinite delight and possibility.

"An extraordinary little book . . . a wise and intimate companion, an elegant reminder of the real.""

[via: https://twitter.com/bopuc/status/71130524705492992 ]
books  play  life  experience  independence  freedom  jamescarse  motivation  power  property  culture  community  self-discovery  toread  open-ended  unscripted  predictablity  unpredictability  competition  work  everyday  finitegames  infinitegames 
may 2011 by robertogreco
OK Do | See, think, do pt. 5 – Skill
"As the division between work and leisure is blurred, we face a dilemma, as there is no more clear equation. We are what we do. Our identity is shaped by a passion for our work, and in the things we produce, not only the things we consume. Money is a means, not an end. It is what we do with a budget that matters, as big money can not ensure high-quality results; only skill and passion can.

Skill of living is the new wealth. This is wealth produced and consumed through both labour and leisure. It is skill demonstrated in the choices we make, the ideas we believe in, the works we create and the lives we live."

[Wayback: http://web.archive.org/web/20110103105512/http://www.ok-do.eu/articles/see_think_do_pt_5_skill/ ]
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may 2011 by robertogreco
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