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robertogreco : mediocrity   26

Damian Bariexca on Twitter: "Two must-read blog posts for my #LTPS friends by @chrislehmann (http://t.co/GVPN7L2QQe) and @garystager (http://t.co/M4QJe4UVdH). Thoughts?"
Damian Bariexca: "Two must-read blog posts for my #LTPS friends by @chrislehmann (http://practicaltheory.org/blog/2014/11/20/curriculum-design-putting-the-horse-before-the-cart/ …) and @garystager (http://stager.tv/blog/?p=3408 ). Thoughts?"

[Pointing here for the subsequent back-and-forth between Chris Lehmann and Gary Stager (selectively chosen here), including a couple of comments from Ira Socol.

I share Gary's philosophy of education much more than that of Chris Lehmann's and I admire Gary's knowledge and body of work, but Gary's condescending tone often does his attempts to convince others a disservice. He frequently dismisses others with snide remarks and belittling comments. Gary also falls into self-aggrandizement. For example, complaining the other day that *he* hadn't ever been invited to the White House* (see end for references). So, while I don't share Chris's interest and preference for structure (more the type and source of structure than the presence of structure), I agree with his responses here, especially regarding the day-to-day realities of progressive schools and the need for measures to make working in them sustainable. That's why the majority of the tweets quoted here come from him. Notes added.]

Chris Lehmann: "Gary's a great revolutionary but a lousy policy-maker. Sooner or later, the May Day speeches need to lead somewhere."
[I would love to see Gary get off the workshop and conference circuit and start a school to show others how his approach and philosophy can be the core program of a school and stay intact over time.] https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535788736374910976

"Gary, I think you fundamentally underestimate the need for useful structures to help teachers teach this way." [I'd add that there is also a fundamental underestimation of the day-to-day toll that countercurrents have on those in progressive schools.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867057074872320

"It isn't just about workshops. It's about sustaining the effort over years and finding ways to keep getting better." [Standalone workshops, events, or summer classes are one reality that is often embraced. A core progressive/constructivist/constructionist program is something different altogether and it comes with an unrelenting set of apprehensions, anxieties, doubts, ambivalence, undermining, and accusations from adults who aren't fully committed.] https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867165208231936

"And you, too often, downplay any effort to create structure because of your own dislike of structure. But that is+"
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867291507130368

"too much about you, and not enough about the people you would support - teachers and students. The many failures of+" [Here Chris calls Gary out for making things about him. I have seen this too. For example, rather than critiquing what went on during #FutureReady and suggesting others (day-to-day educators) who should have been there, he griped about not being included, placing himself at the center of the conversation.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867469966352384

"progressive schools that had beautiful visions and insufficient roadmaps toward implementation and therefore suffered"
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867633892347904

"mission drift and founder fatigue, and in time, regressed to the mean is the thing we work daily to avoid. Thus, the+" [Regression to the mean. I've seen that happen in a school. I know of many other schools where that has happened. And sometimes I wonder if it's even worth the while to work in a progressive school rather than focus my energy on supporting those that opt out of school altogether.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867774846119936

"need for thoughtful systems and structures that help good people do the work together through reflective practice."
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867907071541248

"I impune nothing, Gary. I think you are brilliant. I also think you let the perfect being the enemy of the good." [Agreed. There is no need to pit one school against the other. Again, why not create a new school (or lea an existing school) as an example rather than cut down those that are doing their best, aligned with their philosophy? I often say that I have no problem with traditional schools as long as they own what they are doing and don't belittle what others are doing through direct comparison or bashing.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535881338604498945

"not discredit. Merely speak to different experiences. Everything I do is toward SLA as a sustainable structure."
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535881898250473473

"I do not reduce your work. I'm tired of you reducing ours. We at SLA believe in more structure than you. We know." [Here Chris is owning what he believes and what he tries to deliver at SLA. So much respect.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535884701266092032

Ira Socol: "the everyday is very different. It just is" [This. The everyday cannot be compared to workshops, camps, conferences, theory, etc. It's also dangerous to hide (by not sharing or by implying that everything is unanimously embraced by the adults in the community) the very vocal contrary voices that begin to appear when implementing a constuctionist program as the core school day.]
https://twitter.com/irasocol/status/535885352788303872

Gary Stager: "I don't think balance is the goal. This is a matter of stance, of choices." [I agree with Gary here, but that is our philosophy and it's not for everyone. Similar thoughts by Alfie Kohn: http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/progressive.htm ]
https://twitter.com/garystager/status/536214550329044993

Ira Socol: "and where/how one chooses to work" [Yes. One can choose to disagree with the way SLA does things, but one doesn't have to work there.]
https://twitter.com/irasocol/status/536215980184465408

Chris Lehmann: "so when you say "Bridging Differences," you mean "convince Chris he is wrong."" [I think Chris is right here. Impasse is impasse. Time to move on.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/536217394193383425

----------

*"Anyone led more professional development on teaching for the future than me? Funny how I never get invited to the tea party."
https://twitter.com/garystager/status/535485803552456706

"Perhaps a Republican President will invite me to the White House."
https://twitter.com/garystager/status/535487172225146880
garystager  chrislehmann  education  progressive  teaching  structure  2014  irasocol  cv  tcsnmy  disagreement  policy  practice  constructivism  burnout  regression  mediocrity  balance  missiondrift  fatigue  implementation  purity  condescension  alfiekohn  respect  difference  differences 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Balance : Stager-to-Go
"Ah, balance!

Balance is the Fabreze of education policy. It is a chemical spray designed to mask the stench of a two year-old tuna sandwich found in the minvan with the artificial bouquet of an April rain dancing on a lily pad.

• Balanced literacy got us systemic phonics.
• Balanced math begot Singapore Math worksheets.
• Balanced standards produced The Common Core.
• Balanced policy debates produced No Child Left Behind and Race-to-the-Top

A balanced approach to educational technology made computer science extinct in schools and has now taught two generations of children to find the space bar in a computer lab-based keyboarding class.

I could go on.

Balance is elusive. It is fake and lazy and cowardly and sad. Balance is embraced by those who don’t know or can’t/won’t articulate what they truly believe. Balance fills the void left by the absence of alternative models and excellence. It is anonymous.

Educators are told that passion should be tempered. Every pedagogical idea is just fine as long as it is “for the children.” We should just do our jobs and not complain about outrageous attacks on our dignity, paycheck, curriculum, working conditions, or the living conditions of the students we serve.

Balance fills the school day with mandates and directives and lots of interruptions that while offering an illusion of options make it impossible for a learner to focus on anything long enough to become good at it.

Balance teaches children that teachers are helpless pawns in a system they don’t control or cannot understand.
Balance is the absentee parent of incrementalism. As educators take “baby steps” towards what they know is right or righteous they lead a long and meandering hike after which the followers cannot remember the original destination.
“This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” (Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963)


Educators are to remain neutral and seek consensus at all-costs. Balance programs us to find the silver lining in tornados. There MUST be SOMETHING good in what Bill Gates or Sal Khan or any number of a million corporations with ED or MENTUM or ACHIEVE or VATION in their names happen to be peddling.

The laws of the political universe, and education is inherently political, greet each embrace of “balance” as ten steps in a more conservative direction. There is no balance – just weakness.

I urge you to read one of my favorite passages ever written about “balance” in education. It is from a lesser-known classic, On Being a Teacher,”  by the great American educator, Jonathan Kozol. Please take a few minutes to read, “Extreme Ideas. [http://stager.tv/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Kozol-Extreme-Ideas.pdf ]”
garystager  balance  compromise  mediocrity  submission  2014  jonathankozol  resistance  hybridmodel  politics  policy  weakness  dilution  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  curriculum  commoncore  phonics  rttt  nclb  mandates  directives  rules  standardization  helplessness  gradualism  teching  pedagogy  schools  education  khanacademy  socialjustice  leadership  learning 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Rox and Roll: Parents: let Harvard go
"I want to tell every parent reading this post that you need to assume, right now, that your child is not getting into Harvard no matter what he or she does. (And no, he's not getting into Stanford either, or Yale, or Dartmouth, or MIT. Probably not UC Berkeley either. No, I'm not kidding.) Your kid isn't getting into the college you think he is.

What? So-and-so's child is at Princeton right now? and got what on his SATs? and did those activities? Hmmm. Interesting. Sure, you can prove me wrong with some examples. And I can prove myself right with a hundred more. Stanford's rate of admission was below 5% last year. Do the math.

In the spirit of "I want to do something," I offer below some Q & A that I hope y'all read and take to heart. These are real questions asked by real parents of real kids I know within the past year. I didn't answer these questions at the time exactly like I did below, but I answer them here and now based on a combination of my expertise in admissions (noting that nothing I say here should be construed as official advice or information given on behalf of any school) as well as my experience as a community leader and parent.

And be forewarned: I'm going to be a bit of a wise-ass, 'cause we all need to calm down like Martha says, which also means "lighten up" in my book.

But also, I promise a reward at the end: questions that I wish people would ask me instead. And I think -- I hope -- it's some valuable stuff."



"Post-publication note: This posts seems to have reached a lot of people who have a lot of strong reactions to it. I think the comment that reached me most on another person's Facebook page is one from a parent who thinks I am encouraging mediocrity. The snarky part of me wants to tell the dude he's right, that I tell my kids "aim low." But the truth is, this post is far from encouraging mediocrity or "settling" for anything less than a child can feel good about achieving. As a Palo Alto parent, I am tired of our culture of 'achievement' as defined by grades, scores, college admissions, and the like. And I am unapologetic about that. I have worked with our community's teens as a coach, as a youth minister, as a mentor, and as a parent, and I encourage every kid to be their best self. That means being proud of their work, whether in the classroom, on the playing field, and/or in the world. Do I think they need to engage in competition for one of those 15 slots at Stanford (there is no fixed number, and I wouldn't know it if there were) by trying to outwit, outplay, and outlast (to borrow "Survivor" lingo)? Nope. And beyond that, there are going to be times when our kids just don't want to work hard because they're kids and continue to push boundaries. They're going to blow off studying for a test. They're going to fail something. Good. That's right -- I said good. Their mistakes teach them that actions have consequences and that their effort ties to their outcomes. We can't give them that with carrots or with sticks. They'll figure it out. They want to do well -- as they define it. (They know what's up with college admissions without us even getting involved, parents.) And the more they figure out for themselves, with no message from us other than "we take you as you are and want you to be healthy and fulfilled," the healthier our kids are going to be. I want nothing but the best for our village's kids -- for any kids-- and I stuck my neck out there with the post because I refuse to define the "best" as it has been anymore. The best for our kids is no more of them self-harming in any way, and I feel like we can alleviate some of that by changing our tone."
colleges  universityis  admissions  parenting  2014  via:willrichardson  stress  pressure  anxiety  aps  ivyleague  motivation  harvard  collegeadmissions  testing  standardizedtesting  success  achievement  mediocrity  grades  grading  standards  sleep  teens  adolescence  highschool  schools  education  competition  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  apclasses 
november 2014 by robertogreco
A Poet's Warning | Harvard Magazine Nov-Dec 2007
"Yet even as the College returns to its civilian pursuits and petty vanities—students struggling with the poems of Donne, “professors back from secret missions” bragging about their adventures—Auden sees another kind of conflict taking shape. This is the war between the two sensibilities, the two social and spiritual visions, that Auden names Apollo and Hermes. Apollo, the Greek god of light and music, becomes for Auden “pompous Apollo,” the patron saint of “official art.” Against him, Auden sets Hermes, the trickster god, protector of thieves and liars, who is “precocious” and undisciplined. Both of these gods can make a kind of music, but Auden asks the reader to decide “under which lyre” he will take his stand.

The comedy of the poem, and its prescience, lies in Auden’s description of Apollo, the presiding spirit of what he calls “the fattening forties.” The danger to postwar America, the poet suggests, lies in the soft tyranny of institutions, authorities, and experts—of people who know what’s best for you and don’t hesitate to make sure you know it, too. Auden gives a wonderful catalog of the things these Apollonians want to impose: colleges where “Truth is replaced by Useful Knowledge,” with courses on “Public Relations, Hygiene, Sport”; poems that “Extol the doughnut and commend/The Common Man” (did Byron Price flinch at those lines?); even processed foods: “a glass of prune juice or a nice/Marsh-mallow salad.” In short, Auden is already predicting the dullest, most conformist aspects of American life in the Cold War years, the kind of prosperous mediocrity that gave the 1950s a bad name.

But if it’s impossible to dislodge Apollo from his throne, Auden suggests, you can still follow Hermes in private. That is why the last stanzas of “Under Which Lyre” offer a “Hermetic Decalogue,” a set of commandments for free spirits who refuse to fall into line:

Thou shalt not do as the dean pleases,
Thou shalt not write thy doctor’s thesis
On education,
Thou shalt not worship projects nor
Shalt thou or thine bow down before
Administration.

Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,
Nor with compliance
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit
A social science.

This advice is half-joking, but only half. For Auden is reminding his Harvard audience that all the official apparatus of the university is extraneous to its highest purpose, which is to cultivate freedom and inwardness. It is a message that still needs to be heard today, when the expense of higher education forces so many students to look at it as an investment, rather than an adventure.

Auden knows that, if everyone lived by the Hermetic Decalogue all the time, the world would grind to a halt. “The earth would soon, did Hermes run it,/Be like the Balkans,” he ruefully acknowledges. A society run by Hermes would be a disaster; but a society without any followers of Hermes in it would be a nightmare. That message makes “Under Which Lyre” a truly American poem, in the tradition of Emerson and Whitman and Twain, all of them defenders of the individual against the collective. The continued life of Auden’s Phi Beta Kappa poem is a reminder that, when the generals and censors and other powers of the earth are forgotten, it is the mere poet who remains."

[Full poem: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/under-which-lyre-3/
Also here: http://members.wizzards.net/~mlworden/atyp/auden.htm
Audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZE_bhSUgG8 ]

"Professors back from secret missions
Resume their proper eruditions,
Though some regret it;
They liked their dictaphones a lot,
T hey met some big wheels, and do not
Let you forget it.



The sons of Hermes love to play
And only do their best when they
Are told they oughtn't;
Apollo's children never shrink
From boring jobs but have to think
Their work important.



But jealous of our god of dreams,
His common-sense in secret schemes
To rule the heart;
Unable to invent the lyre,
Creates with simulated fire
Official art.

And when he occupies a college,
Truth is replaced by Useful Knowledge;
He pays particular
Attention to Commercial Thought,
Public Relations, Hygiene, Sport,
In his curricula.



Thou shalt not do as the dean pleases,
Thou shalt not write thy doctor’s thesis
On education,
Thou shalt not worship projects nor
Shalt thou or thine bow down before
Administration.

Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,
Nor with compliance
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit
A social science."
via:lukeneff  trickster  whauden  poetry  experts  administration  authority  truth  mediocrity  unschooling  deschooling  edreform  education  learning  management  self-importance  hierarchy  poems  1946  highered  highereducation  tyranny  softtyranny  authorities 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Creativity is rejected: Teachers and bosses don’t value out-of-the-box thinking.
"“Everybody hates it when something’s really great,” says essayist and art critic Dave Hickey. He is famous for his scathing critiques against the art world, particularly against art education, which he believes institutionalizes mediocrity through its systematic rejection of good ideas. Art is going through what Hickey calls a “stupid phase.”

In fact, everyone I spoke with agreed on one thing—unexceptional ideas are far more likely to be accepted than wonderful ones.

Staw was asked to contribute to a 1995 book about creativity in the corporate world. Fed up with the hypocrisy he saw, he called his chapter “Why No One Really Wants Creativity.” The piece was an indictment of the way our culture deals with new ideas and creative people”
In terms of decision style, most people fall short of the creative ideal … unless they are held accountable for their decision-making strategies, they tend to find the easy way out—either by not engaging in very careful thinking or by modeling the choices on the preferences of those who will be evaluating them.


Unfortunately, the place where our first creative ideas go to die is the place that should be most open to them—school. Studies show that teachers overwhelmingly discriminate against creative students, favoring their satisfier classmates who more readily follow directions and do what they’re told.

Even if children are lucky enough to have a teacher receptive to their ideas, standardized testing and other programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top (a program whose very designation is opposed to nonlinear creative thinking) make sure children’s minds are not on the “wrong” path, even though adults’ accomplishments are linked far more strongly to their creativity than their IQ. It’s ironic that even as children are taught the accomplishments of the world’s most innovative minds, their own creativity is being squelched.

All of this negativity isn’t easy to digest, and social rejection can be painful in some of the same ways physical pain hurts. But there is a glimmer of hope in all of this rejection. A Cornell study makes the case that social rejection is not actually bad for the creative process—and can even facilitate it. The study shows that if you have the sneaking suspicion you might not belong, the act of being rejected confirms your interpretation. The effect can liberate creative people from the need to fit in and allow them to pursue their interests."



"Most people agree that what distinguishes those who become famously creative is their resilience. While creativity at times is very rewarding, it is not about happiness. Staw says a successful creative person is someone “who can survive conformity pressures and be impervious to social pressure.”

To live creatively is a choice. You must make a commitment to your own mind and the possibility that you will not be accepted. You have to let go of satisfying people, often even yourself."
business  creativity  education  psychology  jessicaolien  teachers  teaching  schools  schooliness  2013  bias  lcproject  tcsnmy  openstudioproject  mediocrity  davehickey  art  design  barrystraw  annawintour  gracecoddington  nclb  rttt  resilience  happiness  fulfillment  glvo  rejection  control 
december 2013 by robertogreco
minimum force, corporeal anticipation |
“For it is Sennett’s contention that “nearly anyone can become a good craftsman” and that “learning to work well enables people to govern themselves and so become good citizens.” This line of thought depends, among other things, upon the Enlightenment assumption that craft abilities are innate and widely distributed, and that, when rightly stimulated and trained, they allow craftsmen to become knowledgeable public persons.

And what is it that such persons know? They know how to negotiate between autonomy and authority (as one must in any workshop); how to work not against resistant forces but with them (as did the engineers who first drilled tunnels beneath the Thames); how to complete their tasks using “minimum force” (as do all chefs who must chop vegetables); how to meet people and things with sympathetic imagination (as does the glassblower whose “corporeal anticipation” lets her stay one step ahead of the molten glass); and above all they know how to play, for it is in play that we find “the origin of the dialogue the craftsman conducts with materials like clay and glass.”

The assumption that craft abilities are widely diffused leads Sennett into a meditation on our love of those intelligence tests by which we supposedly single out the very smart and the very stupid so that some will go to college and others go to bagging groceries. Sennett points out that such sorting ignores the “densely populated middle ground” where most of the population is actually found. Rather than celebrating a “common ground of talents,” we tend to inflate “small differences in degree into large differences in kind” and so legitimate existing systems of privilege. Thinking of the median as the mediocre creates an excuse for neglect. This is one reason, Sennett argues, that “it proves so hard to find charitable contributions to vocational schools” while currently the wealth of the Ivy League schools is compounding at an astounding rate.”

[from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/06/books/review/Hyde-t.html?pagewanted=all ]
crafy  autonomy  craftsmanship  richardsennett  authority  resistance  force  forces  minimumforce  imagination  sympathy  play  materials  making  middleground  talent  talents  privilege  mediocrity  median  vocationalschools  wealth  knowing  knowledge  understanding  enlightenment  sarahendren  citizenship  openstudioproject  glvo  lcproject  cv  corporealanticipation  learning  work  tcsnmy  progressiveeducation  elitism  2008  lewishyde 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Disciplined Minds - Wikipedia
"…book by physicist Jeff Schmidt, published in 2000…describes how professionals are made; the methods of professional & graduate schools that turn eager entering students into disciplined managerial & intellectual workers that correctly perceive & apply the employer's doctrine & outlook. Schmidt uses the examples of law, medicine, & physics, & describes methods that students & professional workers can use to preserve their personalities & independent thought.

Schmidt was fired from his position of 19yrs as Associate Editor at Physics Today for writing the book on the accusation that he wrote it on his employer's time. In 2006…it was announced that the case had been settled, with the dismissed editor receiving reinstatement and a substantial cash settlement. According to the article, 750 physicists & other academics, including Noam Chomsky, signed public letters denouncing the dismissal…"

[ http://www.amazon.com/Disciplined-Minds-Critical-Professionals-Soul-battering/dp/0742516857/ ]
intellectualworkers  workplace  bureaucracy  control  employment  labor  noamchomsky  cv  professionals  disciplinedminds  institutionalization  mediocrity  management  managementstudies  middlemanagement  criticalthinking  personality  law  medicine  physics  2006  2000  unschooling  deschooling  independentthought  independentthinking  professionalization  jeffschmidt 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Redefining Success and Celebrating the Unremarkable - NYTimes.com
"I wonder if there is any room for the ordinary any more, for the child or teenager — or adult — who enjoys a pickup basketball game but is far from Olympic material, who will be a good citizen but won’t set the world on fire.

We hold so dearly onto the idea that we should all aspire to being remarkable that when David McCullough Jr., an English teacher, told graduating seniors at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts recently, “You are not special. You are not exceptional,” the speech went viral."

“In this world, an ordinary life has become synonymous with a meaningless life.”

“You make a lot of money or have athletic success. That’s a very, very narrow definition. What about being compassionate or living a life of integrity?”
unremarkable  ordinariness  middlemarch  georgeeliot  jeffsnipes  brenebrown  meritocracy  mediocrity  madelinelevine  davidmccullough  alinatugend  2012  meaningmaking  ordinary  wisdom  life  well-being  success  commencementspeeches  commencementaddresses 
july 2012 by robertogreco
The Philanthropic Complex
"The truth is that organizations whose missions foreground the “sociological and spiritual” go mostly without funding. Take for instance the sad tale of the Center for the New American Dream (NAD), created in 1997 by Betsy Taylor (herself a funder with the Merck Family Fund). NAD’s original mission statement gave a priority to “quality of life” issues.

We envision a society that values more of what matters—not just more…a new emphasis on non-material values like financial security, fairness, community, health, time, nature, and fun.

This is exactly the sort of “big picture” that philanthropy has been mostly unwilling to fund because, it argues, it is so difficult to provide “accountability” data for issues like “work and time” and “fun” (!). (To which one might reasonably reply, “Why do you fund only those things that are driven by data?”)…

One of the most maddening experiences for those who seek the support of private philanthropy is the lack of transparency…"
nonprofits  halclifford  orion  markets  publicadvocacy  nad  newamericandream  95-5  corruption  investment  conflictsofinterest  gatesfoundation  transparency  anonymity  self-preservation  wealth  thephilanthropiccomplex  privilege  mediocrity  influence  wallstreet  2012  riskmanagement  ngo  biggreen  environmentalism  change  government  policy  environment  restrictedgifts  control  fear  foundations  jacobinmag  progressivism  power  money  capitalism  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofit 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Designing Design – Kenya Hara — The Designer's Review of Books
"If you are a designer involved in the making of objects, it is certainly up there with Papanek’s Design for the Real World as a book that should make you think deeply about your profession. If you are in the digital design world or graphic design or branding, it will make you yearn for materiality and ask yourself how you can bring a stillness of the senses back into an area that feels perpetually hyperactive. You won’t agree with everything Hara has to say, but you will enjoy the journey he takes you on and be wiser for it."
mediocrity  adequacy  muji  tangibility  technology  sustainability  japan  designingdesign  2009  graphicdesign  interactiondesign  reviews  books  design  kenyahara 
april 2012 by robertogreco
The Aporeticus - by Mills Baker · Design & Compromise [So much more within, read the whole thing and the comments too.]
"…why does compromise have its “undeservedly high reputation”?…b/c we are discomfited by philosophical implications of fact that some ideas are objectively better. We exempt science from our contemporary anxieties because its benefits are too explicit to deny, but in most creative fields we are no longer capable of accepting the superiority of some solutions to others; unable to sustain confidence in soundness of artistic problem-solving process, we will not provoke interpersonal/organizational conflict for sake of mere ideas.

This sad, mistaken epistemological cowardice turns competing hypotheses into groundless, subjective opinions, & reasonable course of action when managing conflicting, groundless opinions…is to compromise, because there is no better answer.

But the creative arts are not so subjective as we tend to think, which is why a talented, dictatorial auteur will produce better work than polls, fcus groups, or hundreds of compromising committees."
creativecontrol  dictatorship  dictators  dictatorialcreativity  violence  stevejobs  wateringdown  choice  debate  persuasion  2011  waste  stagnation  innovation  creativity  madetofail  setupforfailure  problemsolving  hypotheses  brokenbydesignprocess  democracy  control  procedure  process  inferiority  superiority  average  averages  means  politics  policy  howwework  meetings  committees  mediocrity  epistemology  philosophy  authoritarianism  cowardice  ideas  science  art  design  millsbaker  compromise 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Les Petites Échos, The Kids Are All Right// The Meaning is the...
"In the end, the film worked for the same reasons any piece of art works: it was very well made. The handheld shots and playful editing seamlessly accompanied the whimsical pop navigations of Girl Talk’s music; the movie built up a slow, compelling love triangle between Marsen and the two nameless male dancers as they drifted through the urban landscape, meeting and parting, meeting and parting. This gave me hope: craft still matters. Despite the evening’s hispterish veneer, despite all of its Web 2.0 trappings, a piece of art must still stand on its own. An audience will still respond to quality and shun mediocrity."
reiflarsen  kickstarter  film  art  glvo  making  generations  socialnetworking  mashups  meaning  facebook  millennials  communication  sharing  inbetweeness  girltalk  girlwalk  annemarsen  2011  audience  craft  quality  mediocrity  happiness 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Times Higher Education - The unseen academy
[Again, too much to quote, so just a clip.]

"Neoliberalism is totalising: it is justified only if everyone participates in its markets, and if all human inter-relatedness becomes mercantile transactions. Hence, we get the agenda for "widening participation", but for widening participation in a market, not in a university education. In that market, the university's "product" needs its own measurements and standards. Everything is now a commodity; and anything that is not obviously a commodity is either eradicated or officially ignored: it goes underground. And the Quality Assurance Agency will measure; but it will measure and validate only that which is official or transparent, only that which it can call a commodity.

The QAA, a key driver of the Transparent-Information mythology, makes one basic error: it confounds a concern for standards (meaning quality) with a demand for standardisation (assured by quantity-measurement); and this drives the sector steadily towards homogenisation."
neoliberalism  homogeneity  highered  uk  highereducation  2011  thomasdocherty  learning  criticalthinking  standardization  standards  measurement  academia  history  control  knowledge  commoditization  transparency  information  quantification  resistance  tcsnmy  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  objectives  outcomes  curiosity  exploration  knowledgemaking  truthseeking  bureaucracy  kis  economics  mediocrity  collaboration  martinamis  1995  1984  georgeorwell  authoritarianism  intellectualism  governance  immeasurables 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Not Your Father's School: Be True to Your School
"So, a challenge to all schools: What does it mean to be true to your school, to its essence (and not just its mission, although you may be in a wise and fortunate place where the two are the same) and its highest aspirations? Are you making this your highest priority, or are there areas in which your programs or your messages are in danger of regressing to the mean? Has fear of change stifled not just innovation but even staying the current course?

Creating the perfect school isn't about appearances. Just as our highest ideals for our students should be to support and inspire them toward becoming the best possible versions of themselves, we need to make our institutional work about epitomizing not the type "independent school" but realizing the finest possibilities of the school itself."
tcsnmy  lcproject  schools  independentschools  cv  petergow  meaning  purpose  armsrace  mediocrity  difference  differentiation  whatisaid  2011 
october 2011 by robertogreco
Charlie Trotter, a Leader Left Behind - NYTimes.com
“You know the old adage that the customer’s always right?” he said. “Well, I kind of think that the opposite is true. The customer is rarely right. And that is why you must seize the control of the circumstance and dominate every last detail: to guarantee that they’re going to have a far better time than they ever would have had if they tried to control it themselves.”<br />
<br />
[via: http://metacool.typepad.com/metacool/2011/06/metacool-thought-of-the-day-charlie-trotter-1-1.html ]
charlietrotter  toomanychefs  tcsnmy  lcproject  creativecontrol  control  design  glvo  counter-practices  howwework  cv  consensus  compromise  mediocrity 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Seth's Blog: The opportunity is here
"The opportunity is the biggest of our generation…there for anyone smart enough to take it—to develop a best in class skill, tell a story, spread the word, be in demand, satisfy real needs, run from the mediocre middle & change everything.

…Like all revolutions, this is an opportunity, not a solution [or] guarantee…opportunity to poke & experiment & fail & discover dead ends on way to making a difference…old economy offered a guarantee—time plus education plus obedience = stability…new one, not so much…offers chance for you to…make an impact.

¡Note! If you're looking for 'how', if you're looking for a map, for a way to industrialize the new era, you've totally missed the point & you will end up disappointed. The nature of the last era was that repetition & management of results increased profits. The nature of this one is the opposite: if someone can tell you precisely what to do, it's too late. Art & novelty & innovation cannot be reliably & successfully industrialized."
sethgodin  yearoff  change  mediocrity  opportunity  economics  gamechanging  risk  risktaking  deschooling  unschooling  lcproject  iteration  learning  innovation  stability  obedience  authority  hierarchy  management  leadership  freelancing  industrialization  industrialschooling  industrialsociety  society 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Bill Williams' Blog: The Mailmen
"In the past few years I’ve seen the high end & low end of education in NYC. I’ve taught in private school…& public school…

What the schools share in common is their steadfast adherence to the status quo. Kids at both schools are like the mail…already pre-sorted & classed…teacher’s job…is to ensure the mail gets to its proper destination. The First Class/Special Delivery to be sped to destinations in Cambridge, MA, New Haven, CT, or Palo Alto, CA. Kids from public school are bulk mail, delivered to every doorstep in their neighborhood…

Great teaching gets done in places where people make or are given the room to be remarkable. Schools or classrooms that seek not to define who students are & what they should know, but ask who they can be and what they might create. A few teachers risk being poets who write beautiful letters. The rest, alas, keep heads safely attached and deliver the mail. Going home promptly at end of the school day to lock in a deep embrace w/ mediocrity."
teaching  education  statusquo  cv  organizations  bureaucracy  class  society  socialmobility  socialimmobility  nyc  billwilliams  self  self-awareness  privateschools  publicschools  tcsnmy  mediocrity  compliance  hierarchy  stoprockingtheboat  rockingtheboat  passivecompliance  passivity  success  cynicism  grades  grading  sorting  people  us  2011 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Minneapolis: Inside the multimillion-dollar essay-scoring business: Behind the scenes of standardized testing
"Then came the question from hell out of Louisiana: “What are the qualities of a good leader?”

One student wrote, “Martin Luther King Jr. was a good leader.” With artfulness far beyond the student’s age, the essay delved into King’s history with the civil rights movement, pointing out the key moments that had shown his leadership.

There was just one problem: It didn’t fit the rubric. The rubric liked a longer essay, with multiple sentences lauding key qualities of leadership such as “honesty” and “inspires people.” This essay was incredibly concise, but got its point across. Nevertheless, the rubric said it was a 2. Puthoff knew it was a 2.

He hesitated the way he had been specifically trained not to. Then he hit, "3."

It didn't take long before a supervisor was in his face. He leaned down with a printout of the King essay.

"This really isn't a 3-style paper," the supervisor said."

[Also here: http://www.citypages.com/2011-02-23/news/inside-the-multimillion-dollar-essay-scoring-business/ ]
tcsnmy  writing  essays  standardizedtesting  standardization  mediocrity  rewardingmediocrity  fiveparagraphessays  rubrics  grading  organization  assemblylinewriting  sausagemaking  pearson  cv  questar  testgrading  dandimaggio 
february 2011 by robertogreco
How many people have you upset today? - Walk in the park, look at the sky.
"The world is full of very average things made by people who don't want to upset anyone, or too eager to please their peers. I believe you have to have an opinion - choose daddy or chips, I really don't mind, just don't say "I don't really know". And when you have opinions and strongly held beliefs you've got to be prepared to get some flack - in fact that's part of the deal.You can't have the nice feedback without accepting that some people are going to hate what you do.

So when I see feedback like this, when something we're doing prompts people to get hot under the collar and take the time to write to us, I simply sit back, smile and think to myself "good, it's working"."
brendandawes  meaning  mediocrity  confrontation  opinions  controversy  risk  risktaking  tcsnmy  glvo  creativity  feedback 
september 2010 by robertogreco
America Via Erica: Coxsackie-Athens Valedictorian Speech 2010 [Wow. Wish I was this wise and aware at that age. Go read the whole thing.]
"A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition—a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class & doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I'm scared."

[Update 22 Jan 2014: now made into a comic: http://scudmissile.tumblr.com/post/108840471396/pretentioususernametosoundsmart-gooseko ]
valedictorians  ericagoldson  johntaylorgatto  unschooling  deschooling  criticalthinking  passion  tcsnmy  toshare  topost  learning  education  policy  schools  schooliness  schooling  courage  authoritarianism  slavery  busywork  pleasing  democracy  publiceducation  industrial  goals  process  graduation  emptiness  sameness  mediocrity  cv  storyofmylife  innovation  rote  memorization  standardizedtesting  testing  grades  grading  commencementspeeches  rotelearning  commencementaddresses 
july 2010 by robertogreco
for the love of learning: Unconditional Recognition
"Three years ago, I was a part of a committee of teachers who decided to abolish our school's Awards Ceremony. Rather than inviting only the honors students, and openly excluding everyone else, we decided to unconditionally recognize all of our students."
joebower  awards  achievement  education  learning  love  schools  tcsnmy  classideas  mediocrity  recognition  ceremonies 
july 2010 by robertogreco
dy/dan » You Have No Life
"We have watched some incredible videos lately—Rube Goldberg machines & time lapse photography—& if video smacks even slightly of concentrated effort or advance planning, someone will inevitably scoff that subject has "too much time on his hands" or "no life."...I would so much rather my students understood the value of turning stupid ideas into reality than the entire sum of Algebra1. It's so obvious to me that the kind of person who would create a cocktail-mixer from balsa wood & twine is simply blowing off steam that life will eventually focus in a direction that will be extremely constructive and/or profitable. I can't make this obvious to my students. After six years I lack a succinct, meaningful response to my students' defensive, clannish embrace of mediocrity, though I'm grateful for this tweet, which comes pretty close: dwineman: You say "looks like somebody has too much time on their hands" but all I hear is "I'm sad because I don't know what creativity feels like.""
attitudes  creativity  geek  criticism  lifehacks  motivation  productivity  ingenuity  persistence  danmeyer  fun  mediocrity 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Are you on a Consensus Project? - Ewan McIntosh | Digital Media & Education
"I'm reading Scott Belsky at the moment. One phrase strikes me on page 188 of the US edition. I've worked on a couple of these types of projects. What about you?
tcsnmy  ewanmcintosh  scottbelsky  gamechanging  consensus  cv  mediocrity  learning  leadership  risk  risktaking  change  reform  creativity  innovation 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Barry Schwartz on our loss of wisdom | Video on TED.com
"Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for “practical wisdom” as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world."
baryschwartz  psychology  education  wisdom  morality  bureaucracy  economics  change  leadership  administration  management  character  motivation  incentives  ethics  philosophy  process  behavior  morals  failure  decisionmaking  exceptions  human  flexibility  inflexibility  commonsense  procedure  simplicity  moreofthesame  rules  rulemaking  tcsnmy  learning  teaching  mediocrity  banking  crisis  2009  improvisation 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Teaching in the 408: The Ledge
"profession incentivizes mediocrity...professional stagnation...leaving...mythical path out of classroom....You want to be pushed and challenged, and when you rise to the challenge you want to receive some form of acknowledgement"
education  learning  meritocracy  mediocrity  teaching  work  cv  administration  management  performance  pay  schools  culture  gamechanging  policy 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Seth's Blog: Curious
"masses in the middle have brainwashed themselves into thinking it is safe to do nothing...difficult for someone to become curious...for 7, 10, 15 years of school you are required to not to be curious...over and over again the curious are punished"
creativity  curiosity  fundamentalism  unschooling  deschooling  schools  society  television  tv  risk  mediocrity  sethgodin  learning  philosophy  lcproject  education 
january 2008 by robertogreco

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