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The Trouble with Knowledge | Shikshantar
"First Main Trouble with Knowledge and Education is Dishonesty

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

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

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

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

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



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



"Building Learning Societies

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. We need to affirm that people are the real solution, not the obstacle and … [more]
munirfasheh  education  unschooling  schooling  schooliness  deschooling  diplomas  credentials  wisdom  degrees  faith  honesty  generosity  hope  learning  howwelearn  love  loving  lving  happiness  duties  duty  development  progress  excellence  rights  schools  community  learningcommunities  lcproject  openstudioproject  grades  grading  assessment  dishonesty  culture  society  hegemony  knowledge  influence  power  colonization  globalization  yemen  israel  palestine  humanism  governance  government  policy  politics  statism  children  egypt  india  westbank  religion  cordoba  cordova  gaza  freedom  failure  labeling  canon 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Can You Hear What I’m SayingPeri Himsel | Interfictions Online
"Spotlight 1

In 1988, Gallaudet University elected another hearing president. The students of Gallaudet believed that the time had come for a deaf person to run the university for the deaf and hard of hearing—they created the Deaf President Now protest movement. The DPN movement eventually received national recognition and support, becoming the first time the struggles of the deaf community had been acknowledged on such a massive scale.

It changed the way the hearing looked at the deaf. In the years following, it urged an increase of new laws and bills that promoted rights for the deaf and disabled."



"Breaking Bad

Though he got comparatively little screen time on Breaking Bad, Walter (Flynn) White Junior was a complex character with cerebral palsy. He had thoughts, feelings and storylines that did not revolve around his disability. He suffered to be seen as cool by his peers and later from the emotional turmoil and anger over the reveal that his father was a psychotic meth king all along.

The actor, R.J. Mitte, also has cerebral palsy, though a milder case."



"Passing

I took off my hearing aids around the age of thirteen. Just before I stopped going to the audiologist, there was some talk of me being a good candidate for the cochlear implant. I considered but in the end, I didn’t want to them to slice my head open. I didn’t want to be shackled to a piece of metal and plastic I could never take off. I didn’t want to be always stuck in a weird limbo of just barely hearing things. I could never be fully hearing and I didn’t want to pretend.

Pity

Marlee Matlin won an Academy Award and Golden Globe in 1987 for her role as Sarah Norman in Children of a Lesser God. In the movie, her boyfriend, James Leeds (played by William Hurt), is listening to music then shuts it off. He tells Matlin’s character, who is deaf, that he feels bad listening to this music because she can’t. This is one of the few scenes in which Matlin’s character does not express rage and resentment towards this hearing man with all his assumptions of the deaf that he has carried throughout the entire film. Rather, she nods and smiles placidly.

This is the point in the movie where I stopped caring for her character."



"Accessibility

When I started watching Doctor Who, like anyone, I wanted to become the Doctor’s companion and travel around in the TARDIS. In retrospect, I’m not really sure how that would work out. The TARDIS is supposed to translate all known languages for the Doctor and his companions but there’s never been a deaf companion (or a deaf character for that matter). Would the TARDIS make it look like everyone around me was signing? Would she put captions that would float in the air above them? Would she translate their words and just implant them in my head? What about other sounds for that matter? At this point, does the TARDIS just become a glorified, advanced technology interpreter?

Labeling

I don’t really consider myself disabled. To me, I am deaf. But then I have to tell them I need an interpreter for this class, captions for this movie, a script for this radio show. That I need something that these other people don’t. Then I must say, yes, I am disabled."



"Lucky

If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me “you’re lucky you’re deaf right now,” I would have paid off my college loans years ago.

Inspiration

August 30, 2012: S.E Smith, a woman with a disability, publishes an article concerning the Paralympics and perceptions of disabilities called “Disabled People Are Not Your Inspiration.” In this piece, she discusses how disabled people, especially Paralympics competitors, are used too often as “inspiration porn”: there’s an assumption that disabled people live horrible lives, which makes their basic everyday actions inspiring to others. It’s a harmful attitude because “people who insist that we’re so inspiring are turning us into objects, not people…you’re saying we need to be singled out as remarkable because of our disabilities, and it pushes us further to the margins.” 4

Naïve

There was this girl in my sociology class in my sophomore year in college. One day, towards the end of the semester, as I was leaving class, she stopped me and handed me a note. I read it as I walked down the hallway. She told me, in this note, that she found me inspiring because I woke up every day, came to class, and functioned with my disability. Attached to it, she had taped a candy bar, the way one would try to bribe a three year old. For the rest of the semester, I never looked at her again.

Experience

I made the mistake of reading the comments on S.E. Smith’s article. Most were angry, either annoyed at feeling they were “not being allowed to be inspired” because they had never been disabled themselves, or enraged, listing people they had known who had “faced and overcome adversity” as if this somehow made them a better person.

Maybe we didn’t read the same article."



"Censorship

After being sued by the National Association of the Deaf in 2011, Netflix releases a statement in 2012 that they will caption all of their content by 20145. However, they don’t take into account the accuracy of their captions. In an open letter to Netflix in 2013, Sam Wildman, hard-of-hearing, weighs in on the problem of censorship within captions:

“But if someone says “Kill that motherfucker!” then shouldn’t everyone be able to have the same shocked reaction to the word ‘motherfucker’ as anyone else? Why should people using subtitles be spared? Alternatively, why should they be deprived?” 6

Half Life

Half-Life 1, a science-fiction first person shooter video game, came out in 1998. I used to watch my brother play, controlling the main character Gordon Freeman as he attempts to survive the fallout of a bad science experiment in the Black Mesa facility. When I finally got a chance to play, I knew how to beat every level. Half-Life 1 didn’t have captions. I had a fragmented idea of the story for the most part, until I managed to find the script online. Towards the middle of the game, deep in the tunnels of Black Mesa, the Hazardous Combat Unit soldiers fighting Gordon scrawled a message on the wall.

It reads: Give Up, Freeman."
perihimsel  deafness  deaf  disability  2015  accessibility  labeling  closedcaptions  netflix  videogames  gaming  disabilities  closedcaptioning 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Russell Davies: The power of stickers
"There's a brilliant Swiss idea called Pumipumpe. It's just a set of stickers depicting the kind of stuff people have in their home. The idea is that you stick stickers on your mailbox in the communal hallway of your block of flats, declaring what things in your flat you're willing to share. It's brilliantly simple, solving splendidly with stickers the kind of thing people are always trying to solve with apps.

Stickers are like Minimum Viable Entities. They're just enough to demonstrate that something exists and is real, but they're lightweight and disposable and attachable in all kinds of places.

Tampon Club describes it as making it look proper. Stickers help with that."
stickers  russelldavies  2015  minimumviableentities  pumpipumpesharing  existence  tangibility  disposability  labeling  labels  tamponclub 
march 2015 by robertogreco
▶ Calls to Action: Noam Chomsky on the dangers of standardized testing - YouTube
"“The assessment itself is completely artificial," Chomsky asserts. "It’s not ranking teachers in accordance with their ability to help develop children who will reach their potential . . . It’s turning us into individuals who devote our lives to achieving a rank.""

[via: http://willrichardson.com/post/110534364640/doesnt-need-any-additional-commentary ]
measuement  ranking  noamchomsky  2015  schools  policy  testing  assessment  evaluation  standardizedtesting  teaching  propaganda  economics  power  capitalism  control  behavior  children  money  markets  consumerism  psychology  marketing  nagging  rank  culture  society  status  wealth  labeling  class  unschooling  deschooling 
february 2015 by robertogreco
DrupalCon Portland 2013: DESIGN OPS: A UX WORKFLOW FOR 2013 - YouTube
"Hey, the dev team gets all these cool visual analytics, code metrics, version control, revision tagging, configuration management, continuous integration ... and the UX design team just passes around Photoshop files?

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

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

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

What are the general strategies for managing the UX design process?
How do you incorporate feedback without huge cost?
What happened to that usability test result from last year?
How much space goes between form elements?
Why does the design cycle make me want to drink bleach?
WTF why does our website look like THIS?
* Features turnkey full-stack (Vagrant ) installation of ubuntu with drupal 7 install profile utilizing both php and ruby development tools, with all examples configured for live css compilation"
chrisblow  contradictions  just  simply  must  2013  drupal  drupalcon  designops  fear  ux  terminology  design  audience  experience  shame  usability  usabilitytesting  work  stress  archiving  confusion  relationships  cv  canon  collaboration  howwework  workflow  versioncontrol  versioning  failure  iteration  flickr  tracker  creativecommons  googledrive  tags  tagging  labels  labeling  navigation  urls  spreadsheets  links  permissions  googledocs  timelines  basecamp  cameras  sketching  universal  universality  teamwork  principles  bullshitdetection  users  clients  onlinetoolkit  offtheshelf  tools  readymadetools  readymade  crapdetection  maps  mapping  userexperience  research  designresearch  ethnography  meetup  consulting  consultants  templates  stencils  bootstrap  patterns  patternlibraries  buzzwords  css  sass  databases  compass  webdev  documentation  sharing  backups  maintenance  immediacy  process  decisionmaking  basics  words  filingsystems  systems  writing  facilitation  expression  operations  exoskeletons  clarification  creativity  bots  shellscripts  notes  notetaking  notebo 
may 2013 by robertogreco
The Uncataloged Museum: Checking out the Gallerie des Enfants: No French Needed!
"Like MassMOCA's children's gallery, which I also love, the museum [the Gallerie des Enfants, the Children's Gallery in Paris] assumes that children deserve and should see original artwork and that interactions should spring from that experience. Here's just a bit of what I observed. …

But here's the thing: there were virtually no labels telling you what to do or what to learn from the experience. When a little instruction was needed, it was provided graphically. Below, a pattern recognition and the hot pink illustration was the only information given.

This installation really made me think about my own practice. Could I do interactives with no instructions just symbols? Does this require a higher level of trust in your audience? Do we expect different kinds of learning from art and history organizations? What do you think?"
exhibitdesign  audience  trust  lindanorris  2012  ncmsd  ncm  interaction  interactive  experience  engagement  labeling  museums  art  children  children'smuseums  massmoca 
november 2012 by robertogreco
The Art of Distraction - NYTimes.com
"Biological determinism is one of psychology’s ugliest evasions, removing the poetic human from any issue."

"As we as a society become desperate financially, and more regulated and conformist, our ideals of competence become more misleading and cruel, making people feel like losers. There might be more to our distractions than we realized we knew. We might need to be irresponsible. But to follow a distraction requires independence and disobedience; there will be anxiety in not completing something, in looking away, or in not looking where others prefer you to. This may be why most art is either collaborative — the cinema, pop, theater, opera — or is made by individual artists supporting one another in various forms of loose arrangement, where people might find the solidarity and backing they need."
anxiety  conformism  confomity  medication  medicine  ritalin  psychology  frustration  boredom  humiliation  diversity  human  labels  labeling  education  schools  attention  winners  losers  winnersandlosers  stigma  society  2012  hanifkureishi  dyslexia  adhd  learning  distraction 
february 2012 by robertogreco
The American Crawl : Wonderstruck – A Kids Book About Curation (and Other Stuff)
"Currently, I’ve been working on a chapter of my dissertation that, in part, looks at youth as curators and the transformative possibilities of this role. By taking ownership, labeling, collecting, and displaying ephemera within their communities, my students help guide a collective consciousness for their peers that establish opportunities for social improvement. The act of curation is a liberatory one. Or at least that’s what I’m arguing so far.

Wonderstruck finds its protagonist desperately holding onto the artifacts that make up an unclear past in search of meaning amongst them. Selznick’s narrative illuminates the personal power of curation and imbues it with the same sense of wonder that I attempted to achieve in the ARG I created. The book opens up paths of discussion that I’d love to someday host with students."
anterogarcia  brianselznick  curating  curation  curatedlearning  learning  labeling  collections  collecting  2011  teaching  wonderstruck 
october 2011 by robertogreco
School colour-codes pupils by ability | Education | The Guardian
"A secondary school has divided its students by ability, complete with different uniforms. Innovative way to lure the middle classes, or worrying segregation?"

[Sneeches and "A Class Divided" come to mind.]
education  grouping  tracking  labeling  labels  uk  class  sorting  2011  segregation  ability  economics  ranking 
july 2011 by robertogreco

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