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On making work in new surroundings Visual artist Cory Arcangel discusses leaving NYC and moving to Norway, the change in process and perspective that results from having a child, and how he will always be just a media artist from Buffalo.
"Yes. It’s like everything else. It`s always worse before you jump. It’s been liberating to let things go, especially all the things that I’m not really good at. And the Scandinavians are such chill people. They’re very talented, and really understated.

It’s the opposite of New York in a way. In New York, there’s a focus on money or success. It’s what a lot of culture is built on, and all arrows are pointing in those directions. In Norway, and in Scandinavia as a whole, everything is built for family life."
norway  nyc  money  priorities  coryarcangel  2019  family  slow  small  scandinavia  success  culture  society 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Wrongest Profession | Dean Baker
[via: https://economicsociology.org/2018/07/21/bb-populism-rostows-economics-and-vietnam-war-informal-economy-grows-universities-privatization-failures-deficit-hawks-deceive-you-inequality-one-sided-economists/ ]

"How economists have botched the promise of widely distributed prosperity—and why they have no intention of stopping now"



"OVER THE PAST TWO DECADES, the economics profession has compiled an impressive track record of getting almost all the big calls wrong. In the mid-1990s, all the great minds in the field agreed that the unemployment rate could not fall much below 6 percent without triggering spiraling inflation. It turns out that the unemployment rate could fall to 4 percent as a year-round average in 2000, with no visible uptick in the inflation rate.

As the stock bubble that drove the late 1990s boom was already collapsing, leading lights in Washington were debating whether we risked paying off the national debt too quickly. The recession following the collapse of the stock bubble took care of this problem, as the gigantic projected surpluses quickly turned to deficits. The labor market pain from the collapse of this bubble was both unpredicted and largely overlooked, even in retrospect. While the recession officially ended in November 2001, we didn’t start creating jobs again until the fall of 2003. And we didn’t get back the jobs we lost in the downturn until January 2005. At the time, it was the longest period without net job creation since the Great Depression.

When the labor market did finally begin to recover, it was on the back of the housing bubble. Even though the evidence of a bubble in the housing sector was plainly visible, as were the junk loans that fueled it, folks like me who warned of an impending housing collapse were laughed at for not appreciating the wonders of modern finance. After the bubble burst and the financial crisis shook the banking system to its foundations, the great minds of the profession were near unanimous in predicting a robust recovery. Stimulus was at best an accelerant for the impatient, most mainstream economists agreed—not an essential ingredient of a lasting recovery.

While the banks got all manner of subsidies in the form of loans and guarantees at below-market interest rates, all in the name of avoiding a second Great Depression, underwater homeowners were treated no better than the workers waiting for a labor market recovery. The Obama administration felt it was important for homeowners, unlike the bankers, to suffer the consequences of their actions. In fact, white-collar criminals got a holiday in honor of the financial crisis; on the watch of the Obama Justice Department, only a piddling number of bankers would face prosecution for criminal actions connected with the bubble.

There was a similar story outside the United States, as the International Monetary Fund, along with the European Central Bank and the European Union, imposed austerity when stimulus was clearly needed. As a result, southern Europe is still far from recovery. Even after another decade on their current course, many southern European countries will fall short of their 2007 levels of income. The situation looks even worse for the bottom half of the income distribution in Greece, Spain, and Portugal.

Even the great progress for the world’s poor touted in the famous “elephant graph” turns out to be largely illusory. If China is removed from the sample, the performance of the rest of the developing world since 1988 looks rather mediocre. While the pain of working people in wealthy countries is acute, they are not alone. Outside of China, people in the developing world have little to show for the economic growth of the last three and a half decades. As for China itself, the gains of its huge population are real, but the country certainly did not follow Washington’s model of deficit-slashing, bubble-driven policies for developing countries.

In this economic climate, it’s not surprising that a racist, xenophobic, misogynist demagogue like Donald Trump could succeed in politics, as right-wing populists have throughout the wealthy world. While his platform may be incoherent, Trump at least promised the return of good-paying jobs. Insofar as Clinton and other Democrats offered an agenda for economic progress for American workers, hardly anyone heard it. And to those who did, it sounded like more of the same."



"At this point, the deficit hawks typically start raising apocalyptic fears about higher taxes impoverishing our children. I have three responses to this claim.

The first is that we are all paying much higher Social Security and Medicare taxes than our parents and grandparents did. Are we therefore the victims of generational inequity? What’s more, the main reason Social Security costs are rising is that our kids will live longer lives than we will. In other words, the dire specter of a generously subsidized cohort of older Americans is actually a sign of widespread social progress. (High Medicare costs are due to an incredibly inefficient health care system, but that’s another story—one that deficit hawks are also in the midst of monkey-wrenching in order to delegitimize any state-supported solution.)

My second reply is that we should be worried about after-tax income, not the tax rate. Recall that austerity policies favored by deficit hawks may have already cost us the equivalent of an increase in the payroll tax of 14 percentage points. We’re supposed to get hysterical over the prospect that our kids may pay 2 to 3 more percentage points in payroll taxes, but be unconcerned about this huge and needless loss of before-tax income?

More generally, if we manage to reverse the wage stagnation of the past thirty-plus years and see ordinary workers once more take a share of the gains of economic growth, their before-tax pay will be 40 to 50 percent higher in three decades than it is today. If they have to give back some of these gains in higher payroll taxes in order to support a longer retirement, it’s hard to see just what the problem would be. (The bigger question, of course, is whether we can succeed in creating a political economy in which ordinary workers will once again share in generalized economic growth.) And taxes are just one way in which the government imposes costs on citizens. Donald Trump wants to have a massive infrastructure program financed by the creation of toll roads. These tolls will be paid to private companies and will not count as taxes. Feel better?

On a much larger scale, the government grants patent and copyright monopolies as an incentive for research and creative work. In the case of prescription drugs alone, these patent monopolies cost close to $350 billion a year (approximately 1.9 percent of GDP) over what the price of drugs would be in a truly free market. Even as deficit hawks try to convince us that the government can’t afford to borrow another $50 billion a year to finance the research done by the pharmaceutical industry, they tell us not to worry about the extra $350 billion we pay for drugs because of government-granted patent monopolies. This monomaniacal obsession with tax burdens, to the exclusion of any reckoning with the burden of patent monopolies, shows yet again that the deficit hawks’ oft-professed concern for our children’s well-being is purely rhetorical, and in no way serious.

We should remember that we will pass down a whole society to our kids—including the natural environment that underwrites the quality of life of future generations. If the cost of ensuring that large numbers of children do not grow up in poverty and that the planet is not destroyed by global warming is a somewhat higher current or future tax burden, that hardly seems like a bad deal—especially if the burden is apportioned fairly. Now suppose, by contrast, that we hand our kids a country in which large segments of the population are unhealthy and uneducated and the environment has been devastated by global warming, but we have managed to pay off the national debt. That is, after all, the future that many in the mainstream of the economics profession are prescribing for the country. Somehow, I don’t see future generations thanking us."
economics  economists  us  policy  politics  deanbaker  health  healthcare  deficits  government  governance  gdp  priorities  labor  markets  capitalism  socialsecurity  bubbles  greatrecession  2018  china  portugal  spain  españa  greece  eu  paulryan  timothygeitner  donaldtrump  taxes 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Time for Self | Akilah S. Richards [Episode 61]
"In this episode, Atlanta-based SDE facilitator and education entrepreneur, ANTHONY GALLOWAY II, speaks on moving past the mental aspect of self-care over to the literal practice. You’ll also learn about two Atlanta events in support of Self-Directed Education, both of which Anthony is playing a major role in bringing to the city. Also, the Jamaican patois term “Dat nuh mek it” basically means “that isn’t nearly enough.” In other words, something needs leveling up, because in its current state, it just won’t do. You’re welcome! #POCinSDE"
akilahrichards  anthonygalloway  unschooling  deschooling  self-care  self-directed  self-directedlearning  creativity  art  howweteach  howwelearn  work  labor  focus  artleisure  leisurearts  play  teaching  mentoring  practice  criticism  advice  decisionmaking  schools  schooling  schooliness  decisions  skepticism  pedagogy  priorities  process  technology  2018 
july 2018 by robertogreco
A response, and second Open Letter to the Hau Journal's Board of Trustees — Association of Social Anthropologists of Aotearoa New Zealand
"In Māori communities, whanaungatanga - the process of building strong relationships - ideally comes before the pursuit of other goals. But before such relationships can be built with others, good intent and sound actions have to be well demonstrated."

[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/1009545786206502912 ]

[See also:

https://maoridictionary.co.nz/word/10068

"1. (noun) relationship, kinship, sense of family connection - a relationship through shared experiences and working together which provides people with a sense of belonging. It develops as a result of kinship rights and obligations, which also serve to strengthen each member of the kin group. It also extends to others to whom one develops a close familial, friendship or reciprocal relationship.

Kōrero ai ngā whakapapa mō te whanaungatanga i waenganui i te ira tangata me te ao (Te Ara 2011). / Whakapapa describe the relationships between humans and nature."

***

https://maoridictionary.co.nz/word/12711

"1. (noun) process of establishing relationships, relating well to others.

Kei te whakapapa ngā tātai, ngā kōrero rānei mō te ao katoa, nā reira ko ngā whakapapa he whakawhanaungatanga ki te ao, ki te iwi, ki te taiao anō hoki (Te Ara 2011). / Whakapapa is the recitation of genealogies or stories about the world, so whakapapa are ways by which people come into relationship with the world, with people, and with life."

***

http://www.imaginebetter.co.nz/good-life-kete/whanautanga-positive-and-meaningful-relationships-within-the-community/

"Whanaungatanga – positive and meaningful relationships within the community

We use the term whanaungatanga to highlight the importance of positive and meaningful relationships to the creation of the good life.
Whanaungatanga = Relationship, kinship, sense of family connection – a relationship through shared experiences and working together which provides people with a sense of belonging. It develops as a result of kinship rights and obligations, which also serve to strengthen each member of the kin group. It also extends to others to whom one develops a close familial, friendship or reciprocal relationship (Te Aka Online Māori Dictionary)

Whanaungatanga values a wide range of relationships, like family and friendships, and points to feelings of belonging and inclusion. Whanaungatanga captures the belief that the more relationships people have in their lives the happier and healthier they are.

Relationships come in many shapes and forms: they may be a regular friendly chat with someone based on a shared interest or a long-term loving intimate relationship. Each relationship is unique, because every person is different. And, having a wide range of relationships is important. A diverse social network made up of relationships with a variety of people enriches people’s lives.

Relationships are the heart of the community. And a sense of being connected to the community through relationships is at the core of the good life. In fact, the community provides endless opportunities for the creation of relationships.

The community is a fantastic resource, rich with possibilities for developing and growing relationships through jobs, volunteering, and recreation. Relationships help us connect to the community, and this connection provides more opportunities to get to get to know a range of people and expand our social networks.We believe people with disability should have the same opportunities to be involved in their community, meet people and develop friendships as anyone else.

Natural and Formal Supports
Natural supports describe the naturally occurring or informal relationships experienced in the community, for example, between neighbours, within cultural groups, and through working lives. We believe natural supports are the most effective way forward in terms of support for people with disability to achieve a good life in the ordinary spaces of the community.

One of the great things about natural supports is that they aren’t associated with any financial cost! People are not paid to offer support, instead they do it because of a shared interest or connection. Natural support can come in many forms, for example, it may be a ride to the supermarket, assistance filling out a form, or help with meeting new friends.

Experience shows us that people with disability are more likely to be included in the community if natural supports are encouraged around their participation. This is because it is difficult to become part of a community from the outside. It is much easier if it happens from within the community. A good example of this is when someone has an interest in joining a particular club or group. It is better to have a member of that group introduce the person, because they will be known by the rest of the group already, and they will know how to introduce the person in a way that fits with the group.

In saying this, we also know that for many people with disability and their whānau, paid services and professionals, also known as formal supports, play an important role in their lives. Formal supports may usefully be part of people’s search for the good life, but care needs to be taken to make sure it does not over-ride the authority and power of the person and their whānau. Paid services and supports should complement, not take over or exclude the natural supports that already exist or could be developed."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMe_5ERYWzk ]
communities  maori  relationships  cv  sfsh  2018  whanaungatanga  words  priorities  via:anne  tcsnmy  community  support  interdependence 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Why we should bulldoze the business school | News | The Guardian
"There are 13,000 business schools on Earth. That’s 13,000 too many. And I should know – I’ve taught in them for 20 years. By Martin Parker



Visit the average university campus and it is likely that the newest and most ostentatious building will be occupied by the business school. The business school has the best building because it makes the biggest profits (or, euphemistically, “contribution” or “surplus”) – as you might expect, from a form of knowledge that teaches people how to make profits.

Business schools have huge influence, yet they are also widely regarded to be intellectually fraudulent places, fostering a culture of short-termism and greed. (There is a whole genre of jokes about what MBA – Master of Business Administration – really stands for: “Mediocre But Arrogant”, “Management by Accident”, “More Bad Advice”, “Master Bullshit Artist” and so on.) Critics of business schools come in many shapes and sizes: employers complain that graduates lack practical skills, conservative voices scorn the arriviste MBA, Europeans moan about Americanisation, radicals wail about the concentration of power in the hands of the running dogs of capital. Since 2008, many commentators have also suggested that business schools were complicit in producing the crash.

Having taught in business schools for 20 years, I have come to believe that the best solution to these problems is to shut down business schools altogether. This is not a typical view among my colleagues. Even so, it is remarkable just how much criticism of business schools over the past decade has come from inside the schools themselves. Many business school professors, particularly in north America, have argued that their institutions have gone horribly astray. B-schools have been corrupted, they say, by deans following the money, teachers giving the punters what they want, researchers pumping out paint-by-numbers papers for journals that no one reads and students expecting a qualification in return for their cash (or, more likely, their parents’ cash). At the end of it all, most business-school graduates won’t become high-level managers anyway, just precarious cubicle drones in anonymous office blocks.

These are not complaints from professors of sociology, state policymakers or even outraged anti-capitalist activists. These are views in books written by insiders, by employees of business schools who themselves feel some sense of disquiet or even disgust at what they are getting up to. Of course, these dissenting views are still those of a minority. Most work within business schools is blithely unconcerned with any expression of doubt, participants being too busy oiling the wheels to worry about where the engine is going. Still, this internal criticism is loud and significant.

The problem is that these insiders’ dissent has become so thoroughly institutionalised within the well-carpeted corridors that it now passes unremarked, just an everyday counterpoint to business as usual. Careers are made by wailing loudly in books and papers about the problems with business schools. The business school has been described by two insiders as “a cancerous machine spewing out sick and irrelevant detritus”. Even titles such as Against Management, Fucking Management and The Greedy Bastard’s Guide to Business appear not to cause any particular difficulties for their authors. I know this, because I wrote the first two. Frankly, the idea that I was permitted to get away with this speaks volumes about the extent to which this sort of criticism means anything very much at all. In fact, it is rewarded, because the fact that I publish is more important than what I publish.

Most solutions to the problem of the B-school shy away from radical restructuring, and instead tend to suggest a return to supposedly more traditional business practices, or a form of moral rearmament decorated with terms such as “responsibility” and “ethics”. All of these suggestions leave the basic problem untouched, that the business school only teaches one form of organising – market managerialism.

That’s why I think that we should call in the bulldozers and demand an entirely new way of thinking about management, business and markets. If we want those in power to become more responsible, then we must stop teaching students that heroic transformational leaders are the answer to every problem, or that the purpose of learning about taxation laws is to evade taxation, or that creating new desires is the purpose of marketing. In every case, the business school acts as an apologist, selling ideology as if it were science."



"The easiest summary of all of the above, and one that would inform most people’s understandings of what goes on in the B-school, is that they are places that teach people how to get money out of the pockets of ordinary people and keep it for themselves. In some senses, that’s a description of capitalism, but there is also a sense here that business schools actually teach that “greed is good”. As Joel M Podolny, the former dean of Yale School of Management, once opined: “The way business schools today compete leads students to ask, ‘What can I do to make the most money?’ and the manner in which faculty members teach allows students to regard the moral consequences of their actions as mere afterthoughts.”

This picture is, to some extent, backed up by research, although some of this is of dubious quality. There are various surveys of business-school students that suggest that they have an instrumental approach to education; that is to say, they want what marketing and branding tells them that they want. In terms of the classroom, they expect the teaching of uncomplicated and practical concepts and tools that they deem will be helpful to them in their future careers. Philosophy is for the birds.

As someone who has taught in business schools for decades, this sort of finding doesn’t surprise me, though others suggest rather more incendiary findings. One US survey compared MBA students to people who were imprisoned in low-security prisons and found that the latter were more ethical. Another suggested that the likelihood of committing some form of corporate crime increased if the individual concerned had experience of graduate business education, or military service. (Both careers presumably involve absolving responsibility to an organisation.) Other surveys suggest that students come in believing in employee wellbeing and customer satisfaction and leave thinking that shareholder value is the most important issue, and that business-school students are more likely to cheat than students in other subjects."



"The sorts of doors to knowledge we find in universities are based on exclusions. A subject is made up by teaching this and not that, about space (geography) and not time (history), about collectives of people (sociology) and not about individuals (psychology), and so on. Of course, there are leakages and these are often where the most interesting thinking happens, but this partitioning of the world is constitutive of any university discipline. We cannot study everything, all the time, which is why there are names of departments over the doors to buildings and corridors.

However, the B-school is an even more extreme case. It is constituted through separating commercial life from the rest of life, but then undergoes a further specialisation. The business school assumes capitalism, corporations and managers as the default form of organisation, and everything else as history, anomaly, exception, alternative. In terms of curriculum and research, everything else is peripheral.

Most business schools exist as parts of universities, and universities are generally understood as institutions with responsibilities to the societies they serve. Why then do we assume that degree courses in business should only teach one form of organisation – capitalism – as if that were the only way in which human life could be arranged?

The sort of world that is being produced by the market managerialism that the business school sells is not a pleasant one. It’s a sort of utopia for the wealthy and powerful, a group that the students are encouraged to imagine themselves joining, but such privilege is bought at a very high cost, resulting in environmental catastrophe, resource wars and forced migration, inequality within and between countries, the encouragement of hyper-consumption as well as persistently anti-democratic practices at work.

Selling the business school works by ignoring these problems, or by mentioning them as challenges and then ignoring them in the practices of teaching and research. If we want to be able to respond to the challenges that face human life on this planet, then we need to research and teach about as many different forms of organising as we are able to collectively imagine. For us to assume that global capitalism can continue as it is means to assume a path to destruction. So if we are going to move away from business as usual, then we also need to radically reimagine the business school as usual. And this means more than pious murmurings about corporate social responsibility. It means doing away with what we have, and starting again."
mba  business  education  capitalism  businessschools  latecapitalism  2018  martinparker  highereducation  highered  corporatism  universities  colleges  society  priorities  managerialism  exclusions  privilege  environment  sustainability  markets  destruction  ethics  publicgood  neoliberalism  finance  money 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Wendell Berry: Budget cuts to University Press of Kentucky 'barbaric'
"Like a good many others these days, I would welcome an earnest public discussion about education. What is it now? What should it be? What is the right ratio of its cost to its worth? Perhaps the discussion could begin with the proposition that to be properly human our species should include a significant number of politicians and others who are competently literate, which means in part having a familiar and usable knowledge of literature and history.

Though I have doubts and questions about our state’s system of education, I am its product, its sometime employee, and in many ways its beneficiary. As such, and as a tax-paying citizen, I want to say that the part of this system that has most steadily served the great cause of literacy in my lifetime has been the University Press of Kentucky, which is now marked for destruction by one of Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget cuts that is both petty and barbaric. If it should happen, this destruction would amount to an act of censorship, for the knowledge made available by the Press belongs to the people of Kentucky, to readers now and to come. It is a part of our commonwealth, which the governor and the government are entrusted to protect, not destroy.

In defending the Press, I have in mind the geographic, economic and historical uniqueness of Kentucky. Perhaps no other state is so regionally divided as ours. Perhaps there is no other where the interests of agriculture, industry and urban development have competed so hurtfully. No other state’s experience of the Civil War closely resembled ours, and no others suffered its influences in the way we have. And so our need for books about our land and our people, our history and natural history, our political and economic life, is not going to be adequately served by the great commercial publishing companies, or by the university presses of other states. That need can only be served, and it has been admirably served, by The University Press of Kentucky.

Because we have sustained that press for 75 years with a very modest investment of public money, we have The Kentucky Encyclopedia and Lowell Harrison’s and James Klotter’s New History of Kentucky, books that have the distinction of being indispensable to Kentucky students young and old; and we have in print books by James Still, Harlan Hubbard, Jim Wayne Miller, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Crystal Wilkinson that will be needed by coming generations of literate Kentuckians. Any concerned citizens who want to understand this state as it was and now is, and how it became what it now is, will find themselves immediately and continuously indebted to the University Press of Kentucky.

We have this priceless asset, not only at a small monetary cost, but also by the efforts freely given over many years by our state’s dedicated teachers and scholars. Foremost among these, as literate Kentuckians would expect, was Thomas D. Clark. As one of his hundreds of students and friends, I knew Dr. Clark fairly well. He was, by any measure, an eminent historian and teacher. He was also one of this state’s preeminent public servants. According to his entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, he “started [the University of Kentucky] library’s Special Collection;” he “was the primary mover behind the founding of a state archives;” and he “was in the vanguard of the movement that established the University of Kentucky Press in 1943 and the University Press of Kentucky in 1968.”

In the lists of the Press’ officers and the members of its board and committees, I find names of men and women I knew and respected, and names of others I knew only by reputation and respected. Among them, I am most touched by the name of Thomas B. Stroup. Of all the teachers I had at the University of Kentucky, he was the one who was most demanding, who therefore taught me most, and is therefore the one to whom I am most grateful. Though he was not specialized in his love of literature, he taught especially the work of John Milton and other poets of the seventeenth century. One time I heard him say to a quarrelsome student: “Of course I think this is important! Why else would I have devoted my life to it?” He said “devoted.”

To destroy the University Press of Kentucky, as our governor now proposes to do, may be required to uphold our state’s reputation for ignorance, but it is not required by poverty. The sum to be withheld is a small fraction of what we pay into the salaries of university administrators. But of all that is to be considered, what is most heart-sickening to me is to see the devoted work of such people as Dr. Clark and Dr. Stroup officially appraised as worthless."
wendellberry  universitypressofkentucky  education  kentucky  economics  money  priorities  publishing  2018  literacy  mattbevin  books 
march 2018 by robertogreco
How the Appetite for Emojis Complicates the Effort to Standardize the World’s Alphabets - The New York Times
"nshuman Pandey was intrigued. A graduate student in history at the University of Michigan, he was searching online for forgotten alphabets of South Asia when an image of a mysterious writing system popped up. In eight years of digging through British colonial archives both real and digital, he has found almost 200 alphabets across Asia that were previously undescribed in the West, but this one, which he came across in early 2011, stumped him. Its sinuous letters, connected to one another in cursive fashion and sometimes bearing dots and slashes above or below, resembled those of Arabic.

Pandey eventually identified the script as an alphabet for Rohingya, the language spoken by the stateless and persecuted Muslim people whose greatest numbers live in western Myanmar, where they’ve been the victims of brutal ethnic cleansing. Pandey wasn’t sure if the alphabet itself was in use anymore, until he lucked upon contemporary pictures of printed textbooks for children. That meant it wasn’t a historical footnote; it was alive.

An email query from Pandey bounced from expert to expert until it landed with Muhammad Noor, a Rohingya activist and television host who was living in Malaysia. He told Pandey the short history of this alphabet, which was developed in the 1980s by a group of scholars that included a man named Mohammed Hanif. It spread slowly through the 1990s in handwritten, photocopied books. After 2001, thanks to two computer fonts designed by Noor, it became possible to type the script in word-processing programs. But no email, text messages or (later) tweets could be sent or received in it, no Google searches conducted in it. The Rohingya had no digital alphabet of their own through which they could connect with one another.

Billions of people around the world no longer face this plight. Whether on computers or smartphones, they can write as they write, expressing themselves in their own linguistic culture. What makes this possible is a 26-year-old international industrial standard for text data called the Unicode standard, which prescribes the digital letters, numbers and punctuation marks of more than 100 different writing systems: Greek, Cherokee, Arabic, Latin, Devanagari — a world-spanning storehouse of languages. But the alphabet that Noor described wasn’t among them, and neither are more than 100 other scripts, just over half of them historical and the rest alphabets that could still be used by as many as 400 million people today.

Now a computational linguist and motivated by a desire to put his historical knowledge to use, Pandey knows how to get obscure alphabets into the Unicode standard. Since 2005, he has done so for 19 writing systems (and he’s currently working to add another eight). With Noor’s help, and some financial support from a research center at the University of California, Berkeley, he drew up the basic set of letters and defined how they combine, what rules govern punctuation and whether spaces exist between words, then submitted a proposal to the Unicode Consortium, the organization that maintains the standards for digital scripts. In 2018, seven years after Pandey’s discovery, what came to be called Hanifi Rohingya will be rolled out in Unicode’s 11th version. The Rohingya will be able to communicate online with one another, using their own alphabet."



"Unicode’s history is full of attacks by governments, activists and eccentrics. In the early 1990s, the Chinese government objected to the encoding of Tibetan. About five years ago, Hungarian nationalists tried to sabotage the encoding for Old Hungarian because they wanted it to be called “Szekley-Hungarian Rovas” instead. An encoding for an alphabet used to write Nepal Bhasa and Sanskrit was delayed a few years ago by ethnonationalists who mistrusted the proposal because they objected to the author’s surname. Over and over, the Unicode Consortium has protected its standard from such political attacks.

The standard’s effectiveness helped. “If standards work, they’re invisible and can be ignored by the public,” Busch says. Twenty years after its first version, Unicode had become the default text-data standard, adopted by device manufacturers and software companies all over the world. Each version of the standard ushered more users into a seamless digital world of text. “We used to ask ourselves, ‘How many years do you think the consortium will need to be in place before we can publish the last version?’ ” Whistler recalls. The end was finally in sight — at one point the consortium had barely more than 50 writing systems to add.

All that changed in October 2010, when that year’s version of the Unicode standard included its first set of emojis."



"Not everyone thinks that Unicode should be in the emoji business at all. I met several people at Emojicon promoting apps that treat emojis like pictures, not text, and I heard an idea floated for a separate standards body for emojis run by people with nontechnical backgrounds. “Normal people can have an opinion about why there isn’t a cupcake emoji,” said Jennifer 8. Lee, an entrepreneur and a film producer whose advocacy on behalf of a dumpling emoji inspired her to organize Emojicon. The issue isn’t space — Unicode has about 800,000 unused numerical identifiers — but about whose expertise and worldview shapes the standard and prioritizes its projects.

“Emoji has had a tendency to subtract attention from the other important things the consortium needs to be working on,” Ken Whistler says. He believes that Unicode was right to take responsibility for emoji, because it has the technical expertise to deal with character chaos (and has dealt with it before). But emoji is an unwanted distraction. “We can spend hours arguing for an emoji for chopsticks, and then have nobody in the room pay any attention to details for what’s required for Nepal, which the people in Nepal use to write their language. That’s my main concern: emoji eats the attention span both in the committee and for key people with other responsibilities.”

Emoji has nonetheless provided a boost to Unicode. Companies frequently used to implement partial versions of the standard, but the spread of emoji now forces them to adopt more complete versions of it. As a result, smartphones that can manage emoji will be more likely to have Hanifi Rohingya on them too. The stream of proposals also makes the standard seem alive, attracting new volunteers to Unicode’s mission. It’s not unusual for people who come to the organization through an interest in emoji to end up embracing its priorities. “Working on characters used in a small province of China, even if it’s 20,000 people who are going to use it, that’s a more important use of their time than deliberating over whether the hand of my yoga emoji is in the right position,” Mark Bramhill told me.

Since its creation was announced in 2015, the “Adopt a Character” program, through which individuals and organizations can sponsor any characters, including emojis, has raised more than $200,000. A percentage of the proceeds goes to support the Script Encoding Initiative, a research project based at Berkeley, which is headed by the linguistics researcher Deborah Anderson, who is devoted to making Unicode truly universal. One the consortium recently accepted is called Nyiakeng Puachue Hmong, devised for the Hmong language by a minister in California whose parishioners have been using it for more than 25 years. Still in the proposal stage is Tigalari, once used to write Sanskrit and other Indian languages.

One way to read the story of Unicode in the time of emoji is to see a privileged generation of tech consumers confronting the fact that they can’t communicate in ways they want to on their devices: through emoji. They get involved in standards-making, which yields them some satisfaction but slows down the speed with which millions of others around the world get access to the most basic of online linguistic powers. “There are always winners and losers in standards,” Lawrence Busch says. “You might want to say, ultimately we’d like everyone to win and nobody to lose too much, but we’re stuck with the fact that we have to make decisions, and when we make them, those decisions are going to be less acceptable to some than to others.”"
unicode  language  languages  internet  international  standards  emoji  2017  priorities  web  online  anshumanpandey  rohingya  arabic  markbramhill  hmong  tigalari  nyiakengpuachuehmong  muhammadnoor  mohammedhanif  kenwhistler  history  1980  2011  1990s  1980s  mobile  phones  google  apple  ascii  facebook  emojicon  michaelaerard  technology  communication  tibet 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Robinson Meyer en Instagram: “The equivalent of Greenland’s west wing and Eisenhower EOB is in the same building as the country’s biggest mall. Notice especially floor 8.”
"The equivalent of Greenland’s west wing and Eisenhower EOB is in the same building as the country’s biggest mall. Notice especially floor 8."

[floor 8 (second to highest) is The Ministry of Nature, Environment and Justice]
greenland  government  priorities  nature  environment  justice  2017 
july 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger, Written in the night: The pain of living in the present world
"I WANT to say at least something about the pain existing in the world today. Consumerist ideology, which has become the most powerful and invasive on the planet, sets out to persuade us that pain is an accident, something that we can insure against. This is the logical basis for the ideology's pitilessness.

Everyone knows, of course, that pain is endemic to life, and wants to forget this or relativise it. All the variants of the myth of a Fall from the Golden Age, before pain existed, are an attempt to relativise the pain suffered on earth. So too is the invention of Hell, the adjacent kingdom of pain-as-punishment. Likewise the discovery of Sacrifice. And later, much later, the principle of Forgiveness. One could argue that philosophy began with the question: why pain?

Yet, when all this has been said, the present pain of living in the world is perhaps in some ways unprecedented.

I write in the night, although it is daytime. A day in early October 2002. For almost a week the sky above Paris has been blue. Each day the sunset is a little earlier and each day gloriously beautiful. Many fear that before the end of the month, US military forces will be launching the preventive war against Iraq, so that the US oil corporations can lay their hands on further and supposedly safer oil supplies. Others hope that this can be avoided. Between the announced decisions and the secret calculations, everything is kept unclear, since lies prepare the way for missiles. I write in a night of shame. By shame I do not mean individual guilt. Shame, as I'm coming to understand it, is a species feeling which, in the long run, corrodes the capacity for hope and prevents us looking far ahead. We look down at our feet, thinking only of the next small step.

People everywhere, under very different conditions, are asking themselves - where are we? The question is historical not geographical. What are we living through? Where are we being taken? What have we lost? How to continue without a plausible vision of the future? Why have we lost any view of what is beyond a lifetime?

The well-heeled experts answer. Globalisation. Postmodernism. Communications revolution. Economic liberalism. The terms are tautological and evasive. To the anguished question of where are we, the experts murmur: nowhere. Might it not be better to see and declare that we are living through the most tyrannical - because the most pervasive - chaos that has ever existed? It's not easy to grasp the nature of the tyranny for its power structure (ranging from the 200 largest multinational corporations to the Pentagon) is interlocking yet diffuse, dictatorial yet anonymous, ubiquitous yet placeless. It tyrannises from off shore - not only in terms of fiscal law, but in terms of any political control beyond its own. Its aim is to delocalise the entire world. Its ideo logical strategy, besides which Osama bin Laden's is a fairy tale, is to undermine the existent so that everything collapses into its special version of the virtual, from the realm of which (and this is the tyranny's credo) there will be a never-ending source of profit. It sounds stupid. Tyrannies are stupid. This one is destroying at every level the life of the planet on which it operates.

Ideology apart, its power is based on two threats. The first is intervention from the sky by the most heavily armed state in the world. One could call it Threat B52. The second is of ruthless indebtment, bankruptcy, and hence, given the present productive relations in the world, starvation. One could call it Threat Zero.

The shame begins with the contestation (which we all acknowledge somewhere but, out of powerlessness, dismiss) that much of the present suffering could be alleviated or avoided if certain realistic and relatively simple decisions were taken. There is a very direct relation today between the minutes of meetings and minutes of agony.

Does anyone deserve to be condemned to certain death simply because they don't have access to treatment which would cost less than $2 a day? This was a question posed by the director of the World Health Organisation last July. She was talking about the Aids epidemic in Africa and elsewhere from which an estimated 68 million people will die within the next 18 years. I'm talking about the pain of living in the present world.

Most analyses and prognoses about what is happening are understandably presented and studied within the framework of their separate disciplines: economics, politics, media studies, public health, ecology, national defence, criminology, education. In reality each of these separ ate fields is joined to another to make up the real terrain of what is being lived. It happens that in their lives people suffer from wrongs which are classified in separate categories, and suffer them simultaneously and inseparably.

A current example: some Kurds, who fled last week to Cherbourg, have been refused asylum by the French government and risk being repatriated to Turkey, are poor, politically undesirable, landless, exhausted, illegal and the clients of nobody. And they suffer each of these conditions at one and the same second. To take in what is happening, an interdisciplinary vision is necessary in order to connect the fields which are institutionally kept separate. And any such vision is bound to be (in the original sense of the word) political. The precondition for thinking politically on a global scale is to see the unity of the unnecessary suffering taking place. This is the starting point.

I WRITE in the night, but I see not only the tyranny. If that were so, I would probably not have the courage to continue. I see people sleeping, stirring, getting up to drink water, whispering their projects or their fears, making love, praying, cooking something whilst the rest of the family is asleep, in Baghdad and Chicago. (Yes, I see too the forever invincible Kurds, 4,000 of whom were gassed, with US compliance, by Saddam Hussein.) I see pastrycooks working in Tehran and the shepherds, thought of as bandits, sleeping beside their sheep in Sardinia, I see a man in the Friedrichshain quarter of Berlin sitting in his pyjamas with a bottle of beer reading Heidegger, and he has the hands of a proletarian, I see a small boat of illegal immigrants off the Spanish coast near Alicante, I see a mother in Mali - her name is Aya which means born on Friday - swaying her baby to sleep, I see the ruins of Kabul and a man going home, and I know that, despite the pain, the ingenuity of the survivors is undiminished, an ingenuity which scavenges and collects energy, and in the ceaseless cunning of this ingenuity, there is a spiritual value, something like the Holy Ghost. I am convinced of this in the night, although I don't know why.

The next step is to reject all the tyranny's discourse. Its terms are crap. In the interminably repetitive speeches, announcements, press conferences and threats, the recurrent terms are Democracy, Justice, Human Rights, Terrorism. Each word in the context signifies the opposite of what it was once meant to. Each has been trafficked, each has become a gang's code-word, stolen from humanity.

Democracy is a proposal (rarely realised) about decision-making; it has little to do with election campaigns. Its promise is that political decisions be made after, and in the light of, consultation with the governed. This is depend ent upon the governed being adequately informed about the issues in question, and upon the decision-makers having the capacity and will to listen and take account of what they have heard. Democracy should not be confused with the freedom of binary choices, the publication of opinion polls or the crowding of people into statistics. These are its pretence. Today the fundamental decisions, which effect the unnecessary pain increasingly suffered across the planet, have been and are taken unilaterally without any open consultation or participation. For instance, how many US citizens, if consulted, would have said specifically yes to Bush's withdrawal from the Kyoto agreement about the carbon dioxide greenhouse effect which is already provoking disastrous floods in many places, and threatens, within the next 25 years, far worse disasters? Despite all the media-managers of consent, I would suspect a minority.

It is a little more than a century ago that Dvořák composed his Symphony From the New World. He wrote it whilst directing a conservatory of music in New York, and the writing of it inspired him to compose, 18 months later, still in New York, his sublime Cello Concerto. In the symphony the horizons and rolling hills of his native Bohemia become the promises of the New World. Not grandiloquent but loud and continuing, for they correspond to the longings of those without power, of those who are wrongly called simple, of those the US Constitution addressed in 1787.

I know of no other work of art which expresses so directly and yet so toughly (Dvořák was the son of a peasant and his father dreamt of his becoming a butcher) the beliefs which inspired generation after generation of migrants who became US citizens.

For Dvořák the force of these beliefs was inseparable from a kind of tenderness, a respect for life such as can be found intimately among the governed (as distinct from governors) everywhere. And it was in this spirit that the symphony was publicly received when it was first performed at Carnegie Hall (16 December 1893).

Dvořák was asked what he thought about the future of American music and he recommended that US composers listen to the music of the Indians and blacks. The Symphony From the New World expressed a hopefulness without frontiers which, paradoxically, is welcoming because centered on an idea of home. A utopian paradox.

Today the power of the same country which inspired such hopes has fallen into the hands of a coterie of fanatical (wanting to limit everything except the power of capital), ignorant (recognising only the reality of their own fire-power), hypo critical (two measures for all ethical judgments, one … [more]
johnberger  2013  presence  present  consumerism  pain  ideology  worldhealthorganization  aids  africa  health  healthcare  priorities  power  powerlessness  kurds  turkey  iraq  war  tyranny  baghdad  saddamhussein  democracy  decisionmaking  participatory  participation  dvořák  us  military  freedom  economics  capitalism  language  euphemisms  media  resistance  words 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Trump to scrap Nasa climate research in crackdown on ‘politicized science’ | Environment | The Guardian
"Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding as the president-elect seeks to shift focus away from home in favor of deep space exploration"
2016  climatechange  donaldtrump  nasa  earthscience  science  policy  priorities  funding  space  spaceexploration  politics 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Solving All the Wrong Problems - The New York Times
"We are overloaded daily with new discoveries, patents and inventions all promising a better life, but that better life has not been forthcoming for most. In fact, the bulk of the above list targets a very specific (and tiny!) slice of the population. As one colleague in tech explained it to me recently, for most people working on such projects, the goal is basically to provide for themselves everything that their mothers no longer do.

He was joking — sort of — but his comment made me think hard about who is served by this stuff. I’m concerned that such a focus on comfort and instant gratification will reduce us all to those characters in “Wall-E,” bound to their recliners, Big Gulps in hand, interacting with the world exclusively through their remotes.

Too many well-funded entrepreneurial efforts turn out to promise more than they can deliver (i.e., Theranos’ finger-prick blood test) or read as parody (but, sadly, are not — such as the $99 “vessel” that monitors your water intake and tells you when you should drink more water).

When everything is characterized as “world-changing,” is anything?

Clay Tarver, a writer and producer for the painfully on-point HBO comedy “Silicon Valley,” said in a recent New Yorker article: “I’ve been told that, at some of the big companies, the P.R. departments have ordered their employees to stop saying ‘We’re making the world a better place,’ specifically because we have made fun of that phrase so mercilessly. So I guess, at the very least, we’re making the world a better place by making these people stop saying they’re making the world a better place.”

O.K., that’s a start. But the impulse to conflate toothbrush delivery with Nobel Prize-worthy good works is not just a bit cultish, it’s currently a wildfire burning through the so-called innovation sector. Products and services are designed to “disrupt” market sectors (a.k.a. bringing to market things no one really needs) more than to solve actual problems, especially those problems experienced by what the writer C. Z. Nnaemeka has described as “the unexotic underclass” — single mothers, the white rural poor, veterans, out-of-work Americans over 50 — who, she explains, have the “misfortune of being insufficiently interesting.”

If the most fundamental definition of design is to solve problems, why are so many people devoting so much energy to solving problems that don’t really exist? How can we get more people to look beyond their own lived experience?

In “Design: The Invention of Desire,” a thoughtful and necessary new book by the designer and theorist Jessica Helfand, the author brings to light an amazing kernel: “hack,” a term so beloved in Silicon Valley that it’s painted on the courtyard of the Facebook campus and is visible from planes flying overhead, is also prison slang for “horse’s ass carrying keys.”

To “hack” is to cut, to gash, to break. It proceeds from the belief that nothing is worth saving, that everything needs fixing. But is that really the case? Are we fixing the right things? Are we breaking the wrong ones? Is it necessary to start from scratch every time?

Empathy, humility, compassion, conscience: These are the key ingredients missing in the pursuit of innovation, Ms. Helfand argues, and in her book she explores design, and by extension innovation, as an intrinsically human discipline — albeit one that seems to have lost its way. Ms. Helfand argues that innovation is now predicated less on creating and more on the undoing of the work of others.

“In this humility-poor environment, the idea of disruption appeals as a kind of subversive provocation,” she writes. “Too many designers think they are innovating when they are merely breaking and entering.”

In this way, innovation is very much mirroring the larger public discourse: a distrust of institutions combined with unabashed confidence in one’s own judgment shifts solutions away from fixing, repairing or improving and shoves them toward destruction for its own sake. (Sound like a certain presidential candidate? Or Brexit?)

Perhaps the main reason these frivolous products and services frustrate me is because of their creators’ insistence that changing lives for the better is their reason for being. To wit, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, who has invested in companies like Airbnb and Twitter but also in services such as LikeALittle (which started out as a flirting tool among college students) and Soylent (a sort of SlimFast concoction for tech geeks), tweeted last week: “The perpetually missing headline: ‘Capitalism worked okay again today and most people in the world got a little better off.’ ”

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, where such companies are based, sea level rise is ominous, the income gap between rich and poor has been growing faster than in any other city in the nation, a higher percentage of people send their kids to private school than in almost any other city, and a minimum salary of $254,000 is required to afford an average-priced home. Who exactly is better off?

Ms. Helfand calls for a deeper embrace of personal vigilance: “Design may provide the map,” she writes, “but the moral compass that guides our personal choices resides permanently within us all.”

Can we reset that moral compass? Maybe we can start by not being a bunch of hacks."
2016  allisonarieff  siliconvalley  problemsolving  disruption  claytarver  sanfrancisco  capitalism  jessicahelfand  books  invention  narcissism  theranos  comfort  instantgratification  hacking  innovation  publicdiscourse  publicgood  inequality  marcandreessen  morality  moralcompass  soylent  venturecapitalism  brexit  us  priorities 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Why Identity and Emotion are Central To Motivating the Teen Brain | MindShift | KQED News
"For years, common experience and studies have prescribed that humans learn best in their earliest years of life – when the brain is developing at its fastest. Recently, though, research has suggested that the period of optimal learning extends well into adolescence.

The flurry of new findings may force a total rethinking of how educators and parents nurture this vulnerable age group, turning moments of frustration into previously unseen opportunities for learning and academic excitement.

New evidence shows that the window for formative brain development continues into the onset of puberty, between ages 9 and 13, and likely through the teenage years, according to Ronald Dahl, professor of community health and human development at the University of California, Berkeley. Dahl spoke at a recent Education Writers Association seminar on motivation and engagement.

Adolescence is a tornado of change: Not only is it the period of fastest physical change in life – aside from infancy – but also newfound drives, motivations, and feelings of sexuality are amplified. There are profound shifts to metabolisms and sleeping cycles, as well as social roles – especially in the context of schools. During these years, motivation is propelled not by a tangible goal to work toward, but by a feeling of wanting and thirst. Within the tumult of pre-teens or teens is an opportunity to enhance their desire and interest to learn.

In the past decade, neuroscientists have been able to identify what makes the adolescent brain so geared for the kind of inquiry that can pay dividends in the classroom. As children enter adolescence, some developing neural systems have already stabilized, Dahl said. But puberty creates a whole new set of elastic neural systems that, when interacting with the already stabilized systems, offers unique windows of opportunity for engagement and experiencing the world around them in multiple ways.

“Adolescence is a perfect storm of opportunities to align these changes in positive ways,” Dahl said. “Learning, exploration, acquiring skills and habits, intrinsic motivations, attitudes, setting goals and priorities: There’s compelling need for transdisciplinary research to understand unique opportunities for social and emotional learning. But few people do it in fear of these challenges.”

These new scientific insights have large implications for how schools teach adolescents, which have traditionally viewed this age group as troublesome.

The feelings of acceptance, rejection, admiration, among others, are all the story of adolescence. Children in this age group also seek physical sensations and thrills. There’s heightened awareness of social status, especially as they realize that acts of courage can earn them higher social status among peers. Their wildly swinging neurological systems also mean that adolescents can readjust quickly – making those years critical for educators to engage students in “the right ways,” when the brain is learning to calibrate complex social and emotional value systems that use feelings as fast signals, Dahl said.

Contrary to common belief, children in this age range don’t actually have “broken brains.” Rather, these children are undergoing a profound update to how they process the world around them. Adolescents are often considered bad decision-makers who are thrill-seekers. These myths, however, stem from young people’s desire to display courage, which is valued across cultures — and adolescents constantly seek the emotional satisfaction of being admired. In fact, Dahl said that adolescents take risks to overcome their fears, not seek them out.

“[Adolescents] are learning about the complex social world they must navigate, including the hierarchies, social rules for gaining acceptance and status, and the mystifying discovery of a sexual self,” Dahl said. “This is a flexible period for goal engagement, and the main part of what’s underneath what we think about setting goals in conscious ways – the bottom-up-based pull to feel motivated toward things.”

Adding to the confusion over how best to respond to adolescents is a wave of research showing children around the world are entering puberty at younger ages. One report found that in the 1860s, puberty for girls began at age 16. In the 1950s, it occurred at 13. Today it’s closer to eight years old. The transition for boys is similar, according to the report. The earlier onset of these pronounced biological changes puts pressure on educators and parents to update their expectations for what it means to be young, and how youth plays into adulthood.

“This is an interesting potential opportunity, with the longer time to learn activated motivational systems, longer time to increase skills and develop patterns of developing knowledge,” Dahl said. “If kids grow up in opportune settings, they can take advantage of the scaffolding and freedom to go on to take adult roles. But the risks are probably more amplified than opportunities for kids in disadvantaged settings.”

It’s still unclear how the earlier development happening in children might create other sets of challenges, Dahl noted, but it’s evident that it’s a key development window of motivational learning, a time when the brain more intensely senses motivational feelings, strengthening the patterns of connections to heartfelt goals, and creates potential for deep, sustained learning.

This period of learning is exemplified by even the forbidden love of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The young couple is brought together by a single brief encounter, after which all mental processes of planning, goals, motivations, longing, and desire are transformed. They begin to obsess over reuniting, and would sacrifice anything – including comfort, safety, family, and friends – to be together again.

Without the context that adolescents’ motives can explode entirely by the spark of a single passion, Romeo and Juliet’s story would be one of utter insanity, Dahl said. But adolescents’ abilities to rapidly reshape motivations and goals both supports their emotional volatility as well as presents a key period to find love – not necessarily romantically for others, but for academic activities and goals.

“With the feelings that pull you to persevere, maybe [adolescence is] a particularly opportune time to fall in love with learning itself, to love that feeling of exploring,” Dahl said. “There’s a new window to create that ‘Yes!’ feeling.”"
emmelinezhao  teens  motivation  identity  emotions  2015  adolescence  teaching  education  change  brain  acceptance  rejection  admiration  ronalddahl  parenting  sleep  inquiry  exploration  learning  intrinsicmotivation  goals  priorities  goalsetting  socialemotional  socialemotionallearning 
december 2015 by robertogreco
"I'm Doing Work" on Vimeo
[More from this series: https://vimeo.com/sluggish

"Sluggish is a video web series that brings together different stories around a single idea. Sometimes the stories are about art and sometimes they’re about science or history or sports but they are always about everyday things that are weird and esoteric and they are always fun.

It’s a bit like a visualized podcast.

The series is a completely independent project produced in Berlin and shot around the world. It is an ongoing experiment for me and there are many things I plan to try out here so I hope you stick around to see how it evolves. Season two is already in the works.
SEASON ONE

What are the upsides of doing nothing? The first season takes on the current universal obsession with the concept of productivity while trying to explore the benefits of wasting your time.

It’s pretty much your best chance to feel good about wasting your time watching online videos."

"The Art of Not Working"
https://vimeo.com/143685855

"To Dive or Not to Dive"
https://vimeo.com/143687704

"Fighting Blue Sky Thinking"
https://vimeo.com/143687714 ]
work  productivity  stevenpoole  leisure  effort  priorities  gtd  labor  idleness  michaelbar-eli  gavinpretor-pinney  doingnothing  football  soccer  economics  bias  actionbias  emotionallabor  care  caring  decisionmaking  timewasting  2015  ignaciouriarte  art  futbol  sports 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Back-to-School-Night Speech We'd Like to Hear* | Psychology Today
"Our top priority here -- and I mean a real, honest-to-goodness commitment, not just a slogan on the website or in a mission statement -- is to learn about and support each student's interests. What questions do they have about the world? How can we help them build on and find answers to those questions? When we meet as a staff, it's usually to think together about how best to do that, how to create a school that's not just academic but intellectual.

We don't want to write a detailed curriculum or devise a bunch of rules in advance and then spend the year demanding that kids conform to them. Our main concern is that what students are learning, and how they're helped to learn it, make sense for the particular kids in a given room. That's why our teachers spend a lot more time asking than telling -- and even more time listening to what the kids wonder about. The plan for learning is created with your kids, not just for them.

Take Ms. _______ and Mr. ________, who are both standing in the back of the room, over there near the fire alarm. (Say hello!) They teach the same grade and the same subjects, but do they have the same curriculum -- the same topics in the same order with the same reading list and assignments? Well, of course not! They teach different kids! And I happen to know that much of what each of them is teaching this year is different from what they were teaching last year. For the same reason.

A good way to tell how successful we are is how excited the students are about figuring stuff out and playing with ideas. Nurturing their desire to learn is more important to us than cramming them full of definitions and dates and details that they're likely to forget anyway. Plus, in my experience, when that excitement is there, academic excellence tends to follow – assuming they've been given the support and resources they need.

So if your children ever seem reluctant to come to school, if you get a sense that they see what they're doing here as a chore, please let us know! Hating school isn't a fact of life; it's a problem to be solved. We're not going to talk about "how to motivate them" or just expect them to "improve their attitude"; it's our responsibility to improve what happens in school. And if it turns out that the curiosity of our students is being smothered by practices that we've come to take for granted, well, we're not going to say, "Too bad. That's life." We're going to rethink those practices.

You want a couple of examples? Well, I think I can safely say -- and feel free, teachers, to contradict me here -- that all of us on the staff used to assume that things like grades, tests, homework, and textbooks were just part of the educational package. So we focused on the details of how we did them -- what seem to us now like piddly little questions. We would solemnly ask: Should grades be posted online -- and what's the best way to do that? Or: Exactly how many minutes of homework should be assigned? Should students be permitted to retake tests? Should textbooks be available digitally? (Boy, that's "innovation" for you, huh? The same collection of predigested facts from a giant publishing conglomerate but, hey, now it's on an iPad!)

Anyway, we gradually realized that because we were so busy asking how to implement x, y, and z, we had let ourselves off the hook by failing to ask whether x, y, or z should be done at all. For instance, a lot of studies have shown that when you give kids grades, they tend to lose interest in what they're learning – and also become less thoughtful in the way they learn it. So if we can offer kids (and also you parents) much more meaningful feedback about how they're doing in school – through written observations and, better yet, in-person conversations -- then why would we risk smothering their excitement about learning by slapping a letter or number on them? We were doing real damage by training kids to think that the point of going to school is to get A's. The solution wasn't to implement “standards-based grading,” or to change “A” to “greatly exceeds expectations,” or ramp up the use of rubrics (which basically take all that's wrong with grades and intensify it). No. The solution was to get rid of grading entirely and replace it with something better. So that's just what we've done. And the results have been nothing short of amazing.

The same thing is true with other old-fashioned practices. Homework creates frustration, anxiety, boredom, exhaustion -- and it's no fun for the kids either! (Ba-dum-bum). So we really paid attention when we discovered teachers -- some in our school, some in other schools -- who had completely stopped assigning homework and found real improvement in the way kids felt about school, about learning, about themselves, and about their teachers -- all without detracting from the quality of their learning. True, kids end up doing less drill and practice when they're free to do what they enjoy after school, but our teachers have gone way beyond the old drill-and-practice approach anyway!

We've seen similar benefits after educating ourselves about how to evaluate kids' understanding of ideas without using tests. And about how textbooks can be left on the shelves, to be consulted occasionally like reference sources, rather than dictating course content. What?? A school without tests or textbooks?? Yes. It's not only possible; it opens new possibilities for learning -- to the point that we wondered why we hadn't ditched these relics years ago.

Well, let's be honest. Some of us wondered that. Others of us are still a little, um, uneasy about completely getting rid of these traditional practices. Some of us understandably need help teaching with primary sources instead of textbooks. Or getting better at knowing how well students are doing (or how we're doing) without giving kids tests and quizzes. Or doing what needs to be done during class instead of saddling kids with more schoolwork after the school day is over.

So we're still struggling with some of this. But we're pretty sure at least we're asking the right questions now. And I'm happy to report that this shift is taking place in all the schools in our district -- elementary, middle, and high schools, since everything I'm talking about tonight is relevant to all grade levels. In fact, at the risk of making your head explode, I could mention that the same is true of a bunch of other features of Old Style education that we're also starting to look at skeptically now: segregating kids by age, or teaching different subjects separately, or even making kids raise their hands so that the teacher alone decides who gets to talk when. If there are solid reasons to keep doing these things, fine. If not, well, "that's the way things have always been done" is a pretty lame justification for not making a change, isn't it?"



"We talk a lot about the importance of creating a caring community of learners. Actually, I guess lots of schools use phrases like that, but one way we prove we really mean it is by making sure we don't do anything that disrupts a feeling of community -- like setting kids against each other in a contest for awards or recognition. The day we start publicly singling out one child as better than everyone else is the day we've given up on the ideal of community. This doesn't mean we don't care about excellence. Just the opposite! Real excellence comes from helping students to see one another as potential collaborators. Sorting them into winners and losers leads each kid to see everyone else as a rival. That undermines achievement (as well as caring and trust) for winners and losers alike. So instead of awards assemblies, you can expect to be invited to student-designed celebrations of what all of us have accomplished together. These ceremonies can be amazingly moving, by the way. If you're used to those rituals where a few kids are called up to the stage to be applauded for having triumphed over their peers, well, you're in for a real treat.

Because we take kids -- all kids -- so seriously here at _________, and because we treat them, and their ideas, with respect, we tend to have remarkably few discipline problems. Few, not none. When there is a problem, we don't talk about it in terms of a kid's "behavior" that needs to be changed; we ask what's going on beneath the behavior. Sometimes what's going on is that something about the school isn't working for that child. That's not a signal to fix the child, to lean on him until he does what he's told. You're sending us your children, not your pets, so we don't use rewards and consequences. We don't bribe or threaten them to make them behave. Hey, we don't like to be treated that way, so why would we treat our students that way? We don't use point systems, or dangle prizes in front of them, or use other strategies of control. Those gimmicks don't really work in the long run, and they're an awfully disrespectful way to treat people of any age. Besides, we find that when the learning is engaging, when our requests are reasonable, when we view students as people to be consulted rather than as bundles of behaviors to be reinforced, most of the time they live up to our expectations. Or even go beyond them.

As the year unfolds, we'll send you occasional letters and e-mails -- and update our website -- about how all this is playing out, about how your child is doing and, more important, what your child is doing. Some teachers host their own blogs or send out periodic newsletters. But don't be worried if sometimes they write things like, "We had a conflict in class that made some kids unhappy so we called a class meeting to work it out" or "Hey, I tried a new way to introduce an unfamiliar concept today, and it bombed so I'm not likely to do that again." If we sent you updates that were always upbeat, implying that every kid loved - and succeeded at - every activity, we'd quickly lose all credibility and you'd discount everything you heard from us. So we'll be tactful but honest in sharing … [more]
alfiekohn  emergentcurriculum  education  unschooling  deschooling  learning  children  schools  priorities  tcsnmy  agency  choice  homework  grades  grading  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  curriculum  reggioemilia  anxiety  boredom  exhaustion  play  democracy  textbooks  caring  progressive  discipline  behavior  competition  awards 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Are you raising nice kids? A Harvard psychologist gives 5 ways to raise them to be kind - The Washington Post
"Earlier this year, I wrote about teaching empathy, and whether you are a parent who does so. The idea behind it is from Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist with the graduate school of education, who runs the Making Caring Common project, aimed to help teach kids to be kind.

I know, you’d think they are or that parents are teaching that themselves, right? Not so, according to a new study released by the group. (Chat with Weissbourd here.)

About 80 percent of the youth in the study said their parents were more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether they cared for others. The interviewees were also three times more likely to agree that “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.”

Weissbourd and his cohorts have come up with recommendations about how to raise children to become caring, respectful and responsible adults. Why is this important? Because if we want our children to be moral people, we have to, well, raise them that way.

“Children are not born simply good or bad and we should never give up on them. They need adults who will help them become caring, respectful, and responsible for their communities at every stage of their childhood,” the researchers write.

The five strategies to raise moral, caring children, according to Making Caring Common:

1. Make caring for others a priority

Why? Parents tend to prioritize their children’s happiness and achievements over their children’s concern for others. But children need to learn to balance their needs with the needs of others, whether it’s passing the ball to a teammate or deciding to stand up for friend who is being bullied.

How? Children need to hear from parents that caring for others is a top priority. A big part of that is holding children to high ethical expectations, such as honoring their commitments, even if it makes them unhappy. For example, before kids quit a sports team, band, or a friendship, we should ask them to consider their obligations to the group or the friend and encourage them to work out problems before quitting.

Try this
• Instead of saying to your kids: “The most important thing is that you’re happy,” say “The most important thing is that you’re kind.”
• Make sure that your older children always address others respectfully, even when they’re tired, distracted, or angry.
• Emphasize caring when you interact with other key adults in your children’s lives. For example, ask teachers whether your children are good community members at school.

2. Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude

Why? It’s never too late to become a good person, but it won’t happen on its own. Children need to practice caring for others and expressing gratitude for those who care for them and contribute to others’ lives. Studies show that people who are in the habit of expressing gratitude are more likely to be helpful, generous, compassionate, and forgiving—and they’re also more likely to be happy and healthy.

How? Learning to be caring is like learning to play a sport or an instrument. Daily repetition—whether it’s a helping a friend with homework, pitching in around the house, or having a classroom job—make caring second nature and develop and hone youth’s caregiving capacities. Learning gratitude similarly involves regularly practicing it.

Try this
• Don’t reward your child for every act of helpfulness, such as clearing the dinner table. We should expect our kids to help around the house, with siblings, and with neighbors and only reward uncommon acts of kindness.
• Talk to your child about caring and uncaring acts they see on television and about acts of justice and injustice they might witness or hear about in the news.
• Make gratitude a daily ritual at dinnertime, bedtime, in the car, or on the subway. Express thanks for those who contribute to us and others in large and small ways.

3. Expand your child’s circle of concern.

Why? Almost all children care about a small circle of their families and friends. Our challenge is help our children learn to care about someone outside that circle, such as the new kid in class, someone who doesn’t speak their language, the school custodian, or someone who lives in a distant country.

How? Children need to learn to zoom in, by listening closely and attending to those in their immediate circle, and to zoom out, by taking in the big picture and considering the many perspectives of the people they interact with daily, including those who are vulnerable. They also need to consider how their decisions, such as quitting a sports team or a band, can ripple out and harm various members of their communities. Especially in our more global world, children need to develop concern for people who live in very different cultures and communities than their own.

Try this
• Make sure your children are friendly and grateful with all the people in their daily lives, such as a bus driver or a waitress.
• Encourage children to care for those who are vulnerable. Give children some simple ideas for stepping into the “caring and courage zone,” like comforting a classmate who was teased.
• Use a newspaper or TV story to encourage your child to think about hardships faced by children in another country.

4. Be a strong moral role model and mentor.

Why? Children learn ethical values by watching the actions of adults they respect. They also learn values by thinking through ethical dilemmas with adults, e.g. “Should I invite a new neighbor to my birthday party when my best friend doesn’t like her?”

How? Being a moral role model and mentor means that we need to practice honesty, fairness, and caring ourselves. But it doesn’t mean being perfect all the time. For our children to respect and trust us, we need to acknowledge our mistakes and flaws. We also need to respect children’s thinking and listen to their perspectives, demonstrating to them how we want them to engage others.

Try this:
• Model caring for others by doing community service at least once a month. Even better, do this service with your child.
• Give your child an ethical dilemma at dinner or ask your child about dilemmas they’ve faced.

5. Guide children in managing destructive feelings

Why? Often the ability to care for others is overwhelmed by anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings.

How? We need to teach children that all feelings are okay, but some ways of dealing with them are not helpful. Children need our help learning to cope with these feelings in productive ways.

Try this
Here’s a simple way to teach your kids to calm down: ask your child to stop, take a deep breath through the nose and exhale through the mouth, and count to five. Practice when your child is calm. Then, when you see her getting upset, remind her about the steps and do them with her. After a while she’ll start to do it on her own so that she can express her feelings in a helpful and appropriate way."
kindness  parenting  2015  psychology  society  richardweissbourd  values  caring  priorities  gratitude  morality 
september 2015 by robertogreco
How to turn a liberal hipster into a capitalist tyrant in one evening | Comment is free | The Guardian
"And because the theatre captures data on every choice by every team, for every performance, I know we were not alone. The aggregated flowchart reveals that every audience, on every night, veers towards money and away from ethics.

Svendsen says: “Most people who were given the choice to raise wages – having cut them – did not. There is a route in the decision-tree that will only get played if people pursue a particularly ethical response, but very few people end up there. What we’ve realised is that it is not just the profit motive but also prudence, the need to survive at all costs, that pushes people in the game to go down more capitalist routes.”

In short, many people have no idea what running a business actually means in the 21st century. Yes, suppliers – from East Anglia to Shanghai – will try to break your ethical codes; but most of those giant firms’ commitment to good practice, and environmental sustainability, is real. And yes, the money is all important. But real businesses will take losses, go into debt and pay workers to stay idle in order to maintain the long-term relationships vital in a globalised economy.

Why do so many decent people, when asked to pretend they’re CEOs, become tyrants from central casting? Part of the answer is: capitalism subjects us to economic rationality. It forces us to see ourselves as cashflow generators, profit centres or interest-bearing assets. But that idea is always in conflict with something else: the non-economic priorities of human beings, and the need to sustain the environment. Though World Factory, as a play, is designed to show us the parallels between 19th-century Manchester and 21st-century China, it subtly illustrates what has changed."



"The whole purpose of this system of regulation – from above and below – is to prevent individual capitalists making short-term decisions that destroy the human and natural resources it needs to function. Capitalism is not just the selfish decisions of millions of people. It is those decisions sifted first through the all-important filter of regulation. It is, as late 20th-century social theorists understood, a mode of regulation, not just of production.

Yet it plays on us a cruel ideological trick. It looks like a spontaneous organism, to which government and regulation (and the desire of Chinese migrants to visit their families once a year) are mere irritants. In reality it needs the state to create and re-create it every day.

Banks create money because the state awards them the right to. Why does the state ram-raid the homes of small-time drug dealers, yet call in the CEOs of the banks whose employees commit multimillion-pound frauds for a stern ticking off over a tray of Waitrose sandwiches? Answer: because a company has limited liability status, created by parliament in 1855 after a political struggle.

Our fascination with market forces blinds us to the fact that capitalism – as a state of being – is a set of conditions created and maintained by states. Today it is beset by strategic problems: debt- ridden, with sub-par growth and low productivity, it cannot unleash the true potential of the info-tech revolution because it cannot imagine what to do with the millions who would lose their jobs.

The computer that runs the data system in Svendsen’s play could easily run a robotic clothes factory. That’s the paradox. But to make a third industrial revolution happen needs something no individual factory boss can execute: the re-regulation of capitalism into something better. Maybe the next theatre game about work and exploitation should model the decisions of governments, lobbyists and judges, not the hapless managers."
capitalism  economics  ethics  money  values  2015  rationality  behavior  priorities  policy  sustainability  survival  worldfactory  paulmason  latecapitalism  psychology  zoesvendsen  growth  productivity  banks  banking  government  governance  regulation  longterm  shortterm 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Christian Parenti on Climate Change, Militarism, Neoliberalism and the State
"When the left turns its back on the social democratic features of government, stops making demands of the state, and fails to reshape government by using the government for progressive ends, it risks playing into the hands of the right. The central message of the American right is that government is bad and must be limited. This message is used to justify austerity. However, in most cases, neoliberal austerity does not actually involve a reduction of government. Typically, restructuring in the name of austerity is really just a transformation of government, not a reduction of it.

Over the last 35 years, the state has been profoundly transformed, but it has not been reduced. The size of the government in the economy has not gone down. The state has become less redistributive, more punitive. Instead of a robust program of government-subsidized and public housing, we have the prison system. Instead of well-funded public hospitals, we have profiteering private hospitals funded by enormous amounts of public money. Instead of large numbers of well-paid public workers, we have large budgets for private firms that now subcontract tasks formerly conducted by the government.

We need to defend the progressive work of government, which, for me, means immediately defending public education. To be clear, I do not mean merely vote or ask nicely, I mean movements should attack government and government officials, target them with protests, make their lives impossible until they comply. This was done very well with the FCC. And my hat goes off to the activists who saved the internet for us. The left should be thinking about the ways in which it can leverage government.

The utility of government was very apparent in Vermont during the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The rains from that storm destroyed or damaged over a hundred bridges, many miles of road and rail, and swept away houses. Thirteen towns were totally stranded. There was a lot of incredible mutual aid; people just started clearing debris and helping each other out. But within all this, town government was a crucial connective tissue.

Due to the tradition of New England town meeting, people are quite involved with their local government. Anarchists should love town meetings. It is no coincidence that Murray Bookchin spent much of his life in Vermont. Town meetings are a form of participatory budgeting without the lefty rigmarole.

More importantly, the state government managed to get a huge amount of support from the federal government. The state in turn pushed this down to the town level. Without that federal aid, Vermont would still be in ruins. Vermont is not a big enough political entity to shake down General Electric, a huge employer in Vermont. The Vermont government can't pressure GE to pay for the rebuilding of local infrastructure, but the federal government can.

Vermont would still be a disaster if it didn't get a transfer of funds and materials from the federal government. Similarly in New York City, the public sector does not get enough praise for the many things it did well after super storm Sandy. Huge parts of the subway system were flooded, yet it was all up and running within the month.

As an aside, one of the dirty little secrets about the Vermont economy is that it's heavily tied-up with the military industrial complex. People think Vermont is all about farming and boutique food processing. Vermont has a pretty diverse economy, but agriculture plays a much smaller role than you might think, about 2 percent of employment. Meanwhile, the state's industrial sector, along with the government, is one of the top employers, at about 13 percent of all employment. Most of this work is in what's called precision manufacturing, making stuff like: high performance nozzles, switches, calibrators, and stuff like the lenses used in satellites, or handcrafting the blades that go in GE jet engines. But I digress … As we enter the crisis of climate change, it's important to be aware of the actually existing legal and institutional mechanisms with which we can contain and control capital."
christianparenti  climatechange  militarism  neoliberalism  2015  goverment  politics  policy  progressivism  progressives  economics  austerity  priorities  military  surveillance  inequality  wealth  anarchism  mutualaid  activism  epa  environment  infrastructure  vermont  townmeetings 
may 2015 by robertogreco
For the love of God, rich people, stop giving Ivy League colleges money - Vox
"But it's hard to imagine a worse way to use the money that still entitles Schwarzman to a charitable tax deduction. Yale is not a charity. It is a finishing school that overwhelmingly serves children of wealth and privilege. Supporting its scientific and particularly biomedical research is worthwhile, but the school is already far richer than all but one of its peer institutions and has access to considerable federal funds in that area, as well. And, of course, Schwarzman isn't supporting Yale's biomedical research. He's giving its dancers a nicer stage upon which to pirouette.

Literally any other charity, save maybe Harvard, is a better choice. Schwarzman could give $150 million to distribute bednets in sub-Saharan Africa, a highly cost-effective way to save lives. He could give $150 million directly to poor people in Kenya and Uganda through GiveDirectly. He could give $150 million to deworming efforts that spare children ailments that can cause immense pain and poverty. He could give $150 million to the Open Philanthropy Project or the Gates Foundation or another group doing careful, rigorous work to determine the best ways to use charitable resources to make the world a better place. He could, in fact, do all of the above because he's crazy stupid rich.

Of course, even the most generous among the rich spend heavily on themselves. Bill Gates may hope to spend down his fortune by fighting HIV and malaria in the developing world, but he also found the money to buy his daughter a 228-acre horse farm with 121 stalls, a race track, and staff lodging for up to 32 people. And maybe that's how Schwarzman's profligacy is best interpreted. He's a Yale alum, and this donation clearly provides some kind of emotional benefit to him.

But it's not philanthropy. It's not helping people who need help, and it's obscene that Schwarzman is getting a massive tax write-off for it. Giving to Yale is not an act of altruism. It's a gigantic, immoral waste of money, and it's long past time we started treating it as such."
plutocracy  blackstone  highereducation  2015  highered  ivyleague  stephenschwarzman  dylanmatthews  billgates  taxcode  charities  charitableindustrialcomplex  money  us  economics  priorities  philanthropy  donations  yale  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charity  capitalism  power  control 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Edutopia | Jacobin
[Too much to quote (still tried and exceeded Pinboard's visible space) so go read the whole thing.]

"Education is not a design problem with a technical solution. It’s a social and political project neoliberals want to innovate away."



"Tim Brown, IDEO’s CEO and a regular at Davos and TED talks, has described design thinking as a way to inject “local, collaborative, participatory” planning into the development of products, organizational processes, and now schools.

Design Thinking for Educators is full of strikingly drawn graphic organizers and questions like, “How might we create a twenty-first century learning experience at school?” with single paragraph answers. “Responsibility” is used three times in the text, always in reference to teachers’ need to brainstorm fixes for problems together and develop “an evolved perspective.” (The word “funding” is not used at all — nor is the word “demand.”)

We’re told faculty at one school embarked on a “design journey” and came to an approach they call “Investigative Learning,” which addresses students “not as receivers of information, but as shapers of knowledge,” without further detail on how exactly this was accomplished.

Of course, the idea of engaging students as experienced co-teachers in their own education isn’t novel, nor is it an innovation that sprang forth from a single group of teachers using graphic organizers to brainstorm and chart solutions.

Marxist educator Paulo Freire developed his critique of the “banking model” of education — in which students’ minds are regarded as passive receptacles for teachers to toss facts into like coins — while teaching poor Brazilian adults how to read in the 1960s and ’70s. His book Pedagogy of the Oppressed helped reignite the progressive education movement during that era, and his collaborative approach to learning remains influential in American schools of education today.

Peter McLaren, who taught elementary and middle school in a public housing complex for five years before becoming a professor of education, has since further developed Freire’s ideas into an extensive body of revolutionary critical pedagogy, which I was assigned in my first class as a master’s student in education. The Radical Math project, launched a decade ago by a Brooklyn high school teacher whose school was located within a thousand feet of a toxic waste facility, draws heavily on Freire’s perspective in its curriculum for integrating social and economic justice into mathematics.

Yet, here we are, a “nation at risk,” with lower test scores than our international peers and children still arriving at school every day without breakfast.

Like all modern managerial philosophies that stake their name on innovation, “design thinking” has been framed by creative-class acolytes as a new way to solve old, persistent challenges — but its ideas are not actually new.

According to Tim Brown, design thinkers start with human need and move on to learning by making, “instead of thinking about what to build, building in order to think.” Their prototypes, he says, “speed up the process of innovation, because it is only when we put our ideas out into the world that we really start to understand their strengths and weakness. And the faster we do that, the faster our ideas evolve.”

What design thinking ultimately offers is not evolution, but the look and feel of progress — great graphics, aesthetically interesting configurations of furniture and space — paired with the familiar, gratifying illusion of efficiency. If structural and institutional problems can be solved through nothing more than brainstorming, then it’s possible for macro-level inputs (textbooks, teacher salaries) to remain the same, while outputs (test scores, customer service) improve. From the perspective of capitalism, this is the only alchemy that matters.

Design Thinking for Educators urges teachers to be optimistic without saying why, and to simply believe the future will be better. The toolkit instructs teachers to have an “abundance mentality,” as if problem-solving is a habit of mind. “Why not start with ‘What if?’ instead of ‘What’s wrong?’” they ask.

There are many reasons to start with “What’s wrong?” That question is, after all, the basis of critical thought. Belief in a better future feels wonderful if you can swing it, but it is passive, irrelevant, and inert without analysis about how to get there. The only people who benefit from the “build now, think later” strategy are those who are empowered by the social relations of the present.

The same people benefit when analysis is abandoned in favor of technical solutions — when the long history of education for liberation, from Freire to the SNCC Freedom Schools to Black Panther schools to today’s Radical Math and Algebra projects (none of them perfect, all of them instructive) is ignored."



"IDEO puts forth the fact that Innova students perform higher than the [Peruvian] national average on math and communication tests as proof that they’ve delivered on their mantra for the project: “affordability, scalability, excellence.”

But if test scores are higher than those of public schools, it is not because of the soul-searching of teacher/designers. It’s because tuition is about a quarter of the national median income. After all, a consistent pattern in the educational research of the past half-century is that the socioeconomic status of a child’s parents is one of the strongest predictors of his or her academic success."



"Design thinking, embraced by key figures in business and especially in the tech industry, insists that educators adopt a perpetually optimistic attitude because that is what it takes to believe everything will turn out okay if we just work together to streamline our efforts. That is what it takes to believe that the best idea is the one that survives group discussion and is adopted. The rabid optimism of the techno-utopian vernacular, with its metaphors that no longer register as metaphors, obscures the market imperatives behind the industry’s vision for the future.

This is intentional. Conflating the future with unambiguous, universal progress puts us all on equal footing. Participating as a citizen in this framework consists of donating your dollar, tweeting your support, wearing your wristband, vowing not to be complacent.

Critiquing the solution only impedes the eventual discovery of the solution. And why make demands for power if you yourself are empowered? Empowerment, as Duncan uses it, is a euphemism. Anger is empowering, frustration is empowering, critique is empowering. Competence is not empowering.

The fact is, education is not a design problem with a technical solution. It is nothing like building a spaceship. It is a social and political project that the neoliberal imagination insists on innovating out of existence. The most significant challenges faced today in education are not natural obstacles to be overcome by increasing productivity — they are man-made struggles over how resources are allocated."



"The United States is one of just three OECD countries, along with Israel and Turkey, where schools that serve rich families have better resources and more funding than schools that serve poor families. The other thirty-four countries included in the index either provide equal funding for all students or spend a disproportionate amount of money on students from low-income families.

In a country where the top 20 percent of the population earns eight times as much as the bottom 20 percent, this inevitably leads to two distinct and parallel systems of education, one for the rich and one for the poor. It’s not that “money doesn’t matter” for reforming the education system, or that technology can be a substitute, but that children from working-class and poor families score lower on standardized test scores than their wealthy peers — and America has many more poor families than rich."



"One example of the importance of this kind of flexible and evolving practice — especially for children from low-income families — comes from Lisa Delpit, educator and author of Other People’s Children. In talks, Delpit uses a situation she witnessed in a preschool in which a teacher handed out a tray of candy and instructed children to each take a piece and pass on the tray. Some of the children took multiple pieces, and there was not enough to go around.

A teacher evaluating the children without interpreting the context, like a machine, would conclude that the children did not successfully complete the task and need more practice in sharing. In fact, after asking why the children took extra pieces, the human teacher found that they were simply engaging in a different kind of creative economy, saving up a couple of pieces to take home to siblings later.

I suspect the innovation Gates is investing in is not a technological one, but a managerial one. The only truly novel thing Sal Khan has done is produce a cheap and popular way to distribute basic lectures and exercises to a large number of people who like them."



"The firing and disciplining of teachers is also an ideological choice: teachers threaten the ruling class. Though they are atomized as workers into separate classrooms and competing districts, teachers are, as Beverly Silver puts it, strategically located in the social division of labor. If they don’t go to work, no one can — or at least, no one with children to look after. As caretakers, teachers are by definition important and trusted community figures, public care workers who can shut down private production.

In the United States, where the vast majority of families continue to rate their own child’s teacher highly, even while believing the political mantra that the nation’s education system is rapidly deteriorating — unique job protections like tenure serve to further strengthen teachers’ capacity to resist … [more]
meganerickson  2015  whigpunk  education  designthinking  timbrown  ideo  policy  canon  paulofreire  oppression  capitalism  inequality  management  petermclaren  salkhan  khanacademy  billgates  gatesfoundation  arneduncan  politics  economics  edwardthorndike  history  bfskinner  psychology  control  power  technosolutionism  progress  technology  edtech  funding  money  priorities  optimism  empowerment  distraction  markets  lisadelpit  otherpeople'schildren  hourofcode  waldorfschools  siliconvalley  schooling  us  democracy  criticalthinking  resistance  criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  efficiency  rote  totelearning  habitsofmind  pedagogyoftheopressed  anationatrisk  rotelearning  salmankhan 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Lazy, Forgetful Creatures of Habit — Research Things — Medium
"When we talk about designing and marketing, a lot of times we’ll focus on the techniques, the specific practices. Shop talk is fun.

The hardest part of any design project isn’t figuring out how to write well, or lay out a page, or code a website. We have a solid body of knowledge. The challenge is dealing with the humans. Humans are a pain in the ass. But we love them, because our work depends on them. And because they are us.

Humans, especially those of us who spend a lot of time on and around the Internet, all of us are

Lazy, forgetful creatures of habit.

That is your core behavior pattern right there. I just saved you a lot of work creating personas.

Being a lazy, forgetful creature of habit is completely rational. We only have so much energy and attention, and we have ever increasing demands on it. Why should you do anything that requires more work? Why should you go out of your way? Or commit something to memory, when Google will remember it for you?

But what works for each of us as individuals can make life very difficult for our businesses. How do you reach people who have so much competition for their attention and such well-honed abilities to ignore things? It’s not just “banner blindness”. People are often blind to absolutely everything that doesn’t match the thing they’re looking for. It’s baked into our brains — the part of pattern matching that happens below conscious awareness. (And we’re well on our way to notification blindness now.)

And how do you make sure you are working with a realistic view of the priorities of actual humans, instead of making assumptions or relying on wishful thinking? You ask yourself that question every day. “What am I assuming?”

(Wishful thinking is the lazy habit that will doom an entrepreneur.)

Established organizations are lazy, forgetful creatures of habit as well, because they are made up of humans — plus an extra layer of inertia. So, while you are considering the users of the new product or service you are designing, you had better think about all of the existing habits of the organization that has to support it. Those habits can be even harder to change because they are baked into the culture and the business model.

Many an ambitious new strategic direction with complete buy-in from the top has fallen apart because someone further down the chain lacked incentive to change what they were doing. And again, this is rational, or at least understandable, behavior on the individual level.

And researchers — design researchers, market researchers — they can be lazy, too. A lot of bad research is bad because the study was designed based on what questions were easy and oh so satisfying to ask, not based on what was going to yield the most useful information.

If your success depends on people taking action, or remembering your name, or doing anything at all new, you had better make it as easy and satisfying as possible. And the only way to make it as easy as possible is to be really and truly realistic about what makes something feel difficult to someone who is not you.

Optimism is the death of design. Cultivating a habit of critical thinking is the first step to saving it.

Next time, I’ll talk about the Fear."
behavior  erikahall  2015  laziness  attention  priorities  humans  design  designresearch  criticalthinking  forgetting  users  marketing  optimism 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us | Paul Verhaeghe | Comment is free | theguardian.com
"We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces. But over decades of research and therapeutic practice, I have become convinced that economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities. Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you’re reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.

There are certain ideal characteristics needed to make a career today. The first is articulateness, the aim being to win over as many people as possible. Contact can be superficial, but since this applies to most human interaction nowadays, this won’t really be noticed.

It’s important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you’ve got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently completed a major project. Later, people will find out that this was mostly hot air, but the fact that they were initially fooled is down to another personality trait: you can lie convincingly and feel little guilt. That’s why you never take responsibility for your own behaviour.

On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won’t be you who has to pick up the pieces. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare, the best-known specialist on psychopathy today.

This description is, of course, a caricature taken to extremes. Nevertheless, the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being to extract more profit from the situation than your competition. Social ties with colleagues weaken, as does emotional commitment to the enterprise or organisation.

Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it’s known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other.

Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms. This results in what the sociologist Richard Sennett has aptly described as the “infantilisation of the workers”. Adults display childish outbursts of temper and are jealous about trivialities (“She got a new office chair and I didn’t”), tell white lies, resort to deceit, delight in the downfall of others and cherish petty feelings of revenge. This is the consequence of a system that prevents people from thinking independently and that fails to treat employees as adults.

More important, though, is the serious damage to people’s self-respect. Self-respect largely depends on the recognition that we receive from the other, as thinkers from Hegel to Lacan have shown. Sennett comes to a similar conclusion when he sees the main question for employees these days as being “Who needs me?” For a growing group of people, the answer is: no one.

Our society constantly proclaims that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough, all the while reinforcing privilege and putting increasing pressure on its overstretched and exhausted citizens. An increasing number of people fail, feeling humiliated, guilty and ashamed. We are forever told that we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before, but the freedom to choose outside the success narrative is limited. Furthermore, those who fail are deemed to be losers or scroungers, taking advantage of our social security system.

A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal. For those who believe in the fairytale of unrestricted choice, self-government and self-management are the pre-eminent political messages, especially if they appear to promise freedom. Along with the idea of the perfectible individual, the freedom we perceive ourselves as having in the west is the greatest untruth of this day and age.

The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman neatly summarised the paradox of our era as: “Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless.” We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference. Yet, on the other hand, our daily lives have become a constant battle against a bureaucracy that would make Kafka weak at the knees. There are regulations about everything, from the salt content of bread to urban poultry-keeping.

Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, “make” something of ourselves. You don’t need to look far for examples. A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success. A young woman who wants to become a primary school teacher is told by her parents that she should start off by getting a master’s degree in economics – a primary school teacher, whatever can she be thinking of?

There are constant laments about the so-called loss of norms and values in our culture. Yet our norms and values make up an integral and essential part of our identity. So they cannot be lost, only changed. And that is precisely what has happened: a changed economy reflects changed ethics and brings about changed identity. The current economic system is bringing out the worst in us."
neoliberalism  economics  politics  psycopathy  paulverhaeghe  2014  capitalism  ethics  behavior  identity  zygmuntbauman  power  freedom  meritocracy  responsibility  society  hegel  lacan  richardsennett  roberthare  impulsivity  markets  privatization  articulateness  boasting  personalbranding  lying  dishonesty  personality  bullying  parenting  priorities 
october 2014 by robertogreco
How Different Cultures Understand Time - Business Insider
"Both the linear-active northerner and the multi-active Latin think that they manage time in the best way possible. In some Eastern cultures, however, the adaptation of humans to time is seen as a viable alternative. In these cultures, time is viewed neither as linear nor event–relationship related, but as cyclic. Each day the sun rises and sets, the seasons follow one another, the heavenly bodies revolve around us, people grow old and die, but their children reconstitute the process. We know this cycle has gone on for 100,000 years and more. Cyclical time is not a scarce commodity. There seems always to be an unlimited supply of it just around the next bend. As they say in the East, when God made time, He made plenty of it.

It’s not surprising, then, that business decisions are arrived at in a different way from in the West. Westerners often expect an Asian to make a quick decision or to treat a current deal on its present merits, irrespective of what has happened in the past. Asians cannot do this. The past formulates the contextual back- ground to the present decision, about which in any case, as Asians, they must think long term—their hands are tied in many ways. Americans see time passing without decisions being made or actions performed as having been “wasted.” Asians do not see time as racing away unutilized in a linear future, but coming around again in a circle, where the same opportunities, risks and dangers will re- present themselves when people are so many days, weeks or months wiser. As proof of the veracity of the cyclical nature of time, how often do we (in the West) say, “If I had known then what I know now, I would never have done what I did?”

Figure 4.6 compares the speed of Western action chains with Asian reflection. The American, German and Swiss go home satisfied that all tasks have been completed. The French or Italian might leave some “mopping up” for the following day. John Paul Fieg, author of A Common Core: Thais and Americans, describing the Thai attitude toward time, saw it as a pool one could gradually walk around. This metaphor applies to most Asians, who, instead of tackling problems immediately in sequential fashion, circle around them for a few days or weeks before committing themselves. After a suitable period of reflection, tasks A, D and F may indeed seem worthy of pursuing (refer to Figure 4.6). Tasks B, C and E may be quietly dropped. Contemplation of the whole scene has indicated, however, that task G, perhaps not even envisaged at all earlier on, might be the most significant of all.

In a Buddhist culture (e.g., Thailand, Tibet), not only time but also life itself goes around in a circle. Whatever we plan, however we organize our particular world, generation follows generation; governments and rulers will succeed each other; crops will be harvested; monsoons, earthquakes and other catastrophes will recur; taxes will be paid; the sun and moon will rise and set; stocks and shares will rise and fall. Even the Americans will not change such events, certainly not by rushing things."



"Cultures observing both linear and cyclic concepts of time see the past as something we have put behind us and the future as something that lies before us. In Madagascar, the opposite is the case (see Figure 4.7). The Malagasy imagine the future as flowing into the back of their heads, or passing them from behind, then becoming the past as it stretches out in front of them. The past is in front of their eyes because it is visible, known and influential. They can look at it, enjoy it, learn from it, even “play” with it. The Malagasy people spend an inordinate amount of time consulting their ancestors, exhuming their bones, even partying with them.

By contrast, the Malagasy consider the future unknowable. It is behind their head where they do not have eyes. Their plans for this unknown area will be far from meticulous, for what can they be based on? Buses in Madagascar leave, not according to a predetermined timetable, but when the bus is full. The situation triggers the event. Not only does this make economic sense, but it is also the time that most passengers have chosen to leave. Consequently, in Madagascar stocks are not replenished until shelves are empty, filling stations order gas only when they run dry, and hordes of would-be passengers at the airport find that, in spite of their tickets, in reality everybody is wait-listed. The actual assignation of seats takes place between the opening of the check-in desk and the (eventual) departure of the plane."
time  communication  perception  culture  2014  richardlewis  via:blubirding  past  present  future  planning  priorities  madagascar  us  uk  asia  japan  china  thailand  italy  spain  españa  switzerland  northamerica  cycles  howwethink  scheduling  schedules 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Why Kids Care More About Achievement Than Helping Others - Jessica Lahey - The Atlantic
"While 96 percent of parents say they want to raise ethical, caring children, and cite the development of moral character as “very important, if not essential,” 80 percent of the youths surveyed reported that their parents “are more concerned about achievement or happiness than caring for others.” Approximately the same percentage reported that their teachers prioritize student achievement over caring. Surveyed students were three times as likely to agree as disagree with the statement “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my class than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.”

Study author Richard Weissbourd says he was surprised by the results. As he wrote to me in an email:
We were especially surprised and troubled to find how many youth value aspects of achievement over caring and fairness. We were also surprised by what seems to be a clear gap between what parents say they're prioritizing and the messages that youth are picking up day to day. We need to take a hard look at the messages we're sending to children about success versus concern for others and think about how we can send different messages.

Child psychologist and author Michele Borba told me the study was “incredibly important,” a “wake up call to parents, a clear indication that we need to reprioritize our parenting agendas ASAP. The science reveals the irony of the situation: happier and more successful kids care about others, they are able to relate, be concerned, and respect differences, and a lack of empathy makes kids less successful, and less happy.” Her email went on to explain,
Studies show that kids’ ability to feel for others affects their health, wealth and authentic happiness as well as their emotional, social, cognitive development and performance. Empathy activates conscience and moral reasoning, improves happiness, curbs bullying and aggression, enhances kindness and peer inclusiveness, reduces prejudice and racism, promotes heroism and moral courage and boosts relationship satisfaction. Empathy is a key ingredient of resilience, the foundation to trust, the benchmark of humanity, and core to everything that makes a society civilized.

Children are not the only ones hearing parents’ implicit message. Educators, too, understand that parents value achievement and happiness over empathy and caring. When the study’s authors surveyed educators as part of their research, this is what they found:
The great majority of teachers, administrators, and school staff did not see parents as prioritizing caring in child-raising. About 80% of school adults viewed parents as prioritizing their children’s achievement above caring and a similar percentage viewed parents as prioritizing happiness over caring.

If there is any good news to be found in this report, it is that while we may value other things above empathy, we still care about it, and want our children to value it. While only 22 percent of the students surveyed ranked caring first on their list of priorities, almost half of them students ranked caring second, and 45 percent thought their parents would rank caring second as well.

The authors offer parents and teachers a number of guidelines. First, they suggest that parents give their children opportunities to practice being good, empathetic people. “Daily repetition—whether it’s helping a friend with homework, pitching in around the house, having a classroom job, or working on a project on homelessness” can give kids the skills they need to make caring a part of their day-to-day lives. The study also recommends that parents teach their children to see the world from multiple perspectives and help them find positive ways to channel negative feelings such as envy, shame, and anger.

As the report shows, simply talking about compassion is not enough. Children are perceptive creatures, fully capable of discerning the true meanings in the blank spaces between well-intentioned words. If parents really want to let their kids know that they value caring and empathy, the authors suggest, they must make a real effort to help their children learn to care about other people—even when it’s hard, even when it does not make them happy, and yes, even when it is at odds with their personal success. "
achievement  success  caring  empathy  parenting  character  charactereducation  2014  jessicalahey  hypocrisy  richardweissbourd  competition  grades  grading  micheleborba  education  schools  priorities  compassion  perspective  happiness 
june 2014 by robertogreco
A Disaster Brought Awareness but Little Action on Infrastructure - NYTimes.com
"How the United States allowed some of its most precious assets to decay so badly may say something about both its character and its leadership. This is a nation ever in the thrall of innovation. We like to build new things. We’re not so crazy about the drudgery of keeping the old in decent shape. Most bridges are meant to last 50 years; those classified as structurally deficient are, on average, a good deal older than that. As for political leaders, spending time and money on essential maintenance holds scant sex appeal. How many elected officials are just dying to preside over a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new gusset plate?"
infrastructure  us  2014  priorities  government  politics  economics 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The Learning State
"Now that I seem to be building a relationship with some readers, it is time to own up to my hitherto secret purpose in writing this column. I want to see "VACATIONLAND" off the car license plates. I want to see it replaced by "The Learning State." Of course the point is not about license plates, which I suppose could be changed by decree from Augusta. It is about how we in Maine think about ourselves and our state, something that cannot be changed "top down" by government. It has to be created "bottom up" by the people of the state. By you and me and all of us.

It would be good for us to have the title of champion state in the field of learning. It would bring business and talent from away. But the driving reason to achieve excellence in learning is necessity. More than most states, our future depends on the capacity of the next generation to adapt to changing economic needs and possibilities. Mainers must be learners.

What would qualify us for the title is a combined score based on the quantity and quality of learning that takes place in the state and on our attitude towards learning and the role of learning in our future. On quality of learning we have a lot going for us. Although our schools have many problems, their students rank high on national tests. Outside of the curriculum itself the state is rich in nuggets of homegrown excellence in learning. As just one example drawn from a large collection I'll be sharing with you in the next months consider the fact that the kids of Deer Isle-Stonington have achieved national status in junior chess contests. And, of course, nobody would expect me to pass over the laptop initiative that has the eyes of the education world focused on our state.

On attitude we have work to do and this is where I hope to make a modest contribution through this column. Last December I wrote on these pages that the time has come for a change of ownership of the laptop initiative: it must stop being "the governor's laptop initiative" to become "our initiative." I outlined ways in which citizens could help and argued that only if many do will the initiative achieve true greatness. But the same arguments apply to all learning. The quality of learning in schools will advance best if the quality of the "learning culture" in our homes and communities advances.

The "home learning culture" is reflected in how we talk about and think about learning in our families. In my column about Bode Miller I tried to show how one can see every event in the world through lenses focused on the learning aspect. In a family with a strong learning culture people who see skiers jump fifty feet into the air and spin their bodies all the way up and down might respond as I did; my wife and I spent the next ten minutes talking about how anyone could possibly learn to do that. The quality of the family learning culture also shows itself in the response to kids knowing more than the grown-up. When your eight-year-old figures out faster than you how to do something with the VCR or the computer are you embarrassed or proud? Do you try to learn from the kid? Do you recognize that kids are experts on learning and can often teach you a lot about how to do it?

I'm trying to use this column to set an example, but using a monologue as an example defeats my purpose. I want dialog. I want to see discussion of learning. Starting next week I am going to make a point of dealing directly with the comments of readers that have begun to trickle into my email. To make this work please send more comments. So please tell me why you think I am crazy to think that Maine can be Number 1 in learning."

[Papert's Bode Miller column: http://www.papert.org/articles/BodeMiller.html ]

[Other column in this series:

"It Takes a Whole State to Raise its Schools"
http://www.papert.org/articles/ItTakesAState.html

"Hard Fun"
http://www.papert.org/articles/HardFun.html

"Computer as Condom"
http://www.papert.org/articles/ComputerAsCondom.html ]
seymourpapert  maine  learning  education  bodemiller  homeschool  unschooling  deschooling  2001  schools  policy  priorities 
january 2014 by robertogreco
What the Smithsonian needs in a leader - The Washington Post
"The next secretary of the Smithsonian will face serious challenges including a decaying campus of buildings that needs major renovation and fundraising concerns that may complicate the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. And then there are the perennial issues: maintaining relations with Congress, keeping budgets intact, negotiating the cultural politics of the 21st century, and redefining the institution for new generations with an insatiable appetite for digital interaction and spectacle.

And yet ask around, and when people think about what kind of person should replace G. Wayne Clough as the next secretary, they don’t talk in terms of skill sets, or professional background. Business prowess and fund raising skill aren’t even on the list, indeed, after years of wanton commercialization of the institution, they are in bad odor. What matters now, after a string of desultory and sometimes disastrous secretaries, is finding someone with three essential personal qualities: boundless curiosity, courage and generosity."



"The problems Clough inherited weren’t just a string of embarrassments from a venal leader. Small brought an ugly ethos to the Smithsonian, staffed its top leadership with people who shared it, and generally infected the place with the idea that the only bottom line was the bottom line. Old ideals about scholarship and the “increase and diffusion of knowledge” were discarded."

...

"For all his institutional prowess and his deft touch with the moneyed and political classes, Ripley is remembered primarily as a man who loved knowledge. Among the many things that rankle about Clough is his having paid more than a million dollars to a “brand experience” firm to come up with the tawdry tagline “Seriously Amazing.” Ripley would never have done that, mainly because his entire life was spent living out the founding idea of the best-branded institution in American cultural life, a Smithsonian devoted to the “increase and diffusion of knowledge.”



So it’s a troubling possibility that not only do men like Ripley not exist anymore, but that the world they mastered doesn’t exist anymore. Even more troubling, however, is the possibility that America is no longer producing leaders of this intellectual caliber. We may now be seeing the long-term impact of the fragmentation of knowledge, the contempt for art and the redefinition of accomplishment in exclusively commercial or entrepreneurial terms."



"The search committee’s choice will be scrutinized in light of a recent report by the American Academy of Arts and Letters that detailed an international trend away from education and funding for the liberal arts and social sciences, a potentially disastrous slight of things the authors says are “essential for the inventiveness, competitiveness, security, and personal fulfillment of the American public.” The next secretary may or may not be from the humanities (Ripley was a scientist), but he or she will have to love them deeply and without condescension, and be able to negotiate the intersection of art and science without trivializing the former or fetishizing the latter."
via:straup  2013  smithsonian  museums  culture  us  gwayneclough  lawrencesmall  sdillonripley  jcarterbrown  curiosity  generosity  knowledge  intellect  education  priorities  institutions  legacy 
december 2013 by robertogreco
STET | Clearing space
"There is a mechanical horse rescued from Coney Island. Imagine hitting its butt; imagine that makes it gallop. Imagine the grinding, the squeals of its metal skeleton forcing wood to life. If it worked, that’s how it would ride.

There is a 20-foot-high totem made from the legs of tables and chairs.

There was to be a sauna on the roof but it was Against Code.

We are starting a school from air."



"Strangers left notes on my Willy Wonka windshield. They wrote “Thanks!" and “I was having a bad day until I saw this.” I painted the car because I was half-crazy broken under other people’s expectations and I wanted to talk to strangers, to send them a message I couldn’t quite believe myself. I drove that message around until the axle broke in the middle of the road and the tow truck driver gave me a ride home and everyone knew it was beyond time to put the car down and my wheeled poetry was over."



"When I needed to escape the martyrdom that is teaching high school math, I went to grad school. A Los Alamos recruiter invited me to intern for the summer for more money than my mother ever made in a year (and we were not poor). I told him three times politely — and one time impolitely — that I wasn’t interested. For the next few years, I listened to my grad school friends insist that they weren’t working on defense problems at their classified summer internships at National Labs — they were only working on problems of fluids moving over a solid.

Numbers don’t lie, exactly. They tell a lot of different truths, surely. They’re like us that way.

Numbers from The Internet: one quarter of US mathematicians work in defense-related jobs. The NSA is the world’s single largest employer of mathematicians. Eighty-one percent of mathematicians employed by the federal government work for the Department of Defense.

We have a complicated relationship with computation.

Experiments with computation are restricted by marketing demands, by defense support, by the pressures of grant funding. AT&T killed Bell Labs one laid-off researcher at a time. What is the new Bell Labs? Where are the spaces for open-ended creative computational experiments?

There is very little support now for creating what one imagines. There never was much, but now there is less. You have to clear the space yourself. Paint the car at night for no good reason. Create an open community biolab. Start a school. Ignore everyone’s expectations but your own."



"Questions: How can we measure time with space? How can we get the machines to see each other? How do I make the world more loving? How do I know the machine understands me?

Discussions: What the hell is poetic computation, anyway? Are we being poetic enough? How do we decide what to make? What is the final show? Should we schedule workshops or should we schedule making? Should we find solitude or stick with the group? The theme recurs: now that we’ve cleared the space, how do we fill it?"



"Starting a school from air goes like this: First, clear a space. A floor of a building. Ten weeks of your time. Fill the space with people. Don’t let the flies get the best of you. Ask all the questions. Build some answers. There you have it."
jenlowe  sfpc  schoolforpoeticcomputing  2013  poetry  math  mathematics  canon  openstudioproject  education  learning  priorities  creativity  beauty  life  living  resistance 
november 2013 by robertogreco
BBC News - Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes
"For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It's like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates."
babies  culture  finland  parenting  2013  infantmortality  cardboard  health  healthcare  society  mothers  children  priorities 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Daily Kos: Colleges pour money into administration, football, and buildings—but teaching, not so much
"The number of employees hired by colleges and universities to manage or administer people, programs and regulations increased 50% faster than the number of instructors between 2001 and 2011, the U.S. Department of Education says. It's part of the reason that tuition, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has risen even faster than health-care costs."
education  universities  colleges  2013  athletics  priorities  adminstration  administrativebloat  highered  highereducation 
january 2013 by robertogreco
What I Learned Building A Startup like Dogster, Inc. — What I Learned Building… — Medium
"If doing what you love…allows you to make a business out of it, you’ll end up hating what you created because all you get to do is manage a very complex, challenging business.

Once I created a successful service and business out of nothing I became a lot more scared of blowing it than anything else, when really I should have just been content that I succeeded at all. It’s important to yell to no one in particular “I did it!”

If you do not prioritize friends, family, loved ones, pets, plants, hobbies while working on a start-up they will all decay and all you will be left with is a startup. …

If you have enough courage to run your own business, it is roughly 1,000,000 more rewarding than any job available, assuming you can make enough money and value out of it. …

Don’t believe anything you whiteboard. Ever. Only believe what you see customers enjoying.

Treat your employees as you wanted to be treated at your first jobs. …"
2012  tedrheingold  scaling  scale  observation  empathy  administration  management  entrepreneurship  relationships  priorities  business  dogster  life  work 
november 2012 by robertogreco
The Corporatization of Higher Education | Dissent Magazine
"If corporatization meant only that colleges & universities were finding ways to be less wasteful, it would be a welcome turn of events. But an altogether different process is going on, one that has saddled us with a higher-education model that is both expensive to run & difficult to reform as a result of its focus on status, its view of students as customers, & its growing reliance on top-down administration."

"At elite schools, 74 percent of the student body come from the top quarter of the socioeconomic scale, while just 3 percent come from the bottom quarter."

"The professor who takes time out from teaching & research to devote him- or herself to administration for a few years increasingly is an anachronism. A new, permanent administrative class now dominates higher education."

"In the last forty years…[faculty grew by] 50 percent…number of administrators has risen by 85 percent and the number of staffers required to help the administrators has jumped by a whopping 240 percent."
administrativebloat  administration  bloat  middlemanagement  tuition  admissions  top-down  hierarchy  corporatization  competition  2012  nicolausmills  usnewsandworldreport  us  priorities  rankings  wealth  finance  money  highereducation  highered  education  via:sebastienmarion  corporatism 
november 2012 by robertogreco
From Master Plan to No Plan: The Slow Death of Public Higher Education | Dissent Magazine
"The standard political criticism of the for-profit industry is that it exists only to vacuum up government subsidies; that it is a problematic byproduct of government actions. This diagnosis is perfectly in line with the Reaganite complaint against government interference in the workings of the market. If we look at California, however, we see that this critique has it backward. For-profit education flooded the market only after the state began to abandon its responsibility to create sufficient institutional capacity in the public system. The problem is not government action, but inaction. As the government gave up its Master Plan responsibility to educate California students, the for-profit sector expanded to fill the demand."

"While Proposition 13 dramatically limited the total revenue in the state‘s coffers, the prison boom diminished the percentage of total funds available for higher education."
funding  publiceducation  neoliberalism  capitalism  public  johnaubreydouglass  poland  korea  brazil  richardblum  government  higheredbubble  privatization  tuition  2012  mikekonczal  aaronbady  studentdebt  priorities  prisons  money  education  california  proposition13  uc  history  ronaldreagan  highered  forprofit  schooltoprisonpipeline  brasil  universityofcalifornia 
october 2012 by robertogreco
Demystification versus Understanding
"So in general, Russell was correct: when the experts disagree, the lay person had best reserve judgment.

But there is an exception to the rule. Expertise also comes with taking many basic things for granted. So when radical changes happen, sometimes it is the naive novice, wrestling with the basics, who ends up innocently asking the right questions. You can only re-examine foundational assumptions if they are not ingrained second nature for you.

Thinking like a novice: the Zen idea of “beginner’s mind” is really hard for an expert. Which is one reason disruptive changes are often triggered by relative outsiders and smart novices. But not so often as romantics like to think. I suspect “experts thinking like novices” happens more often than novices serendipitously asking the brilliant right questions."
judgement  questioning  askingquestions  thinking  beginner'smind  beginners  zen  bertrandrussell  priorities  expertise  disruption  disruptivechanges  learning  demystification  venkateshrao  2012  novices  experts  understanding  questionasking 
september 2012 by robertogreco
California Community Colleges Waitlist 470,000 Students | bavatuesdays
"half a million students can’t get community college courses in CA due to budget cuts… That’s an educational epidemic right there… in 1991 I headed out to Long Beach…to put myself through undergraduate. I attended Long Beach CC for a year & a half at the total tuition cost of $105. That breaks down to $35 a semester. I remember this because I could pay my community college tuition after one night of bussing tables at Parker’s Lighthouse. This, in turn, enabled me to then apply & get guaranteed admission to places like UCSC, UC Berkley, & UCLA—at the much more inflated price (at least at the time) of $500 a quarter, but I could still pay that with my job at Audio Visual Services in a semester. In our moment, you can’t even get into a class, it’s not an option, years of your life towards any idea of educational advancement are basically stonewalled. If there are any questions about the disinvestment of public higher education you really don’t have to look any further than CA right now."
budgets  priorities  statecolleges  educationalepidemics  learning  highereducation  highered  education  classwarfare  class  politics  money  2012  california  jimgroom 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Velocity 2012: Richard Cook, "How Complex Systems Fail" - YouTube
[Apply this to the design of education systems (or any other type of system). Notice how the school reform movement can be described by 'design for reliability', not 'design for resilience'.]

[Notes here by Taryn:]

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

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

@22:40 how to design for resilience: constant maintenance, transparency of operation, support mental simulations"
responsiveness  access  control  agency  education  schoolreform  monitoring  adaptablerules  adaptation  learning  via:taryn  2012  maintenance  transparency  operations  priorities  adaptability  reliability  accountability  redundancy  failure  complexity  resilience  organizations  systems  richardcook 
september 2012 by robertogreco
The North West London Blues by Zadie Smith | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
"If the losses of private companies are to be socialized within already struggling communities the very least we can do is listen to people when they try to tell us where in the hierarchy of their needs things like public space, access to culture, and preservation of environment lie. “But I never use the damn things!” says Mr. Notmytaxes, under the line. Sir, I believe you. However. British libraries received over 300 million visits last year, and this despite the common neglect of the various councils that oversee them. In North West London people are even willing to form human chains in front of them. People have taken to writing long pieces in newspapers to “defend” them. Just saying the same thing over and over again. Defend our libraries. We like libraries. Can we keep our libraries? We need to talk about libraries. Pleading, like children. Is that really where we are?"
london  books  reading  priorities  policy  libraries  2012  zadiesmith 
june 2012 by robertogreco
J: Save the Libraries. Cut University Funding Instead.
"Libraries do much better job of directly serving poor. Unis…indirectly, if at all…

Libraries efficiently provide valuable services to their communities w/ very little money. Unis…are constantly wasting huge sums of money…loading up 17-to-21-yos w/ crippling…loans.

Libraries are famously impartial & nonjudgmental, & have no agenda other than to provide equitable access to information to anyone who desires it. Most uni departments are rife w/ ideology…hostile to conflicting views.

Libraries are open & free to everyone. What they do only improves people’s prospects. The primary purpose of unis, granting credentials, is by definition exclusionary…improve the prospects of few at expense of others, by fostering environment where people are expected to have degrees before they can do anything of value…

One of these systems claims to serve the poor, be open to differing viewpoints, & drive greater knowledge & learning for all humankind. The other actually does all of these things."
priorities  highereducation  highered  colleges  informationaccess  information  education  money  class  poverty  universities  libraries  2012  policy  politics  liberalism  budget  california 
february 2012 by robertogreco
After September 11: What We Still Don’t Know by David Cole | The New York Review of Books
"How much are we spending on counterterrorism efforts? According to Admiral (Ret.) Dennis Blair, who served as director of national intelligence under both Bush and Obama, the United States today spends about $80 billion a year, not including expenditures in Iraq and Afghanistan (which of course dwarf that sum).1 Generous estimates of the strength of al-Qaeda and its affiliates, Blair reports, put them at between three thousand and five thousand men. That means we are spending between $16 million and $27 million per year on each potential terrorist. As several administration officials have told me, one consequence is that in government meetings, the people representing security interests vastly outnumber those who might speak for protecting individual liberties. As a result, civil liberties will continue to be at risk for a long time to come…"

"The rule of law may be tenacious when it is supported, but violations of it that go unaccounted corrode its very foundation."
9/11  waronterror  priorities  policy  civilliberties  us  georgewbush  politics  economics  money  spending  barackobama  torture  democracy  constitution  resistance  ruleoflaw  liberty  law  freedom  citizenship  equality  dueprocess  fairprocess  justice  margaretmead  history  dignity  terrorism  learnedhand  guantanamo  security  military  patriotact  nsa  cia  lawenforcement  lawlessness  war  iraq  afghanistan  alqaeda  2011  via:preoccupations 
september 2011 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: SOS March: Why Barack Obama could not find One Hour for America's teachers
"Yet therein lies the problem. Barack Obama is not an evil guy, but he is not a guy who really cares either. Watching Obama on poverty, yes, but especially on education, one is forced to realize that all his community organizing, all his time in rough neighborhoods in New York and Chicago, were the kind of resume preparation all too common in the Teach for America cohort, rather than a genuine, Bobby Kennedy style, interest in discovering the "other America."<br />
<br />
So, if giving education over to Wall Street turns on the spigots of campaign contributions, that is more important to him than the students who fill our classrooms. He doesn't actually wish these kids harm, not at all, he just doesn't perceive the lives of our children as a very important thing in his life.<br />
<br />
Which is why he sat in the White House today, hoping John Boehner would call, rather than picking up his Blackberry, and walking outside."
sosmarch  barackobama  2011  lindadarling-hammond  arneduncan  priorities  poverty  us  policy  politics  money  education  schools  publicschools 
july 2011 by robertogreco
What Carmageddon taught us about behavioral economics | MNN - Mother Nature Network
"It was supposed to be Carmageddon in L.A., but instead the two-day closure of the busiest freeway in Los Angeles reiterated a timeless lesson about cars: We lose less than we think when we make them a lower priority in our cities."
losangeles  carmageddon  2011  cars  behavior  transportation  walking  masstransit  cities  mobility  habits  priorities  freeways 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Europe Stifles Drivers in Favor of Mass Transit and Walking - NYTimes.com
"While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation."

"“In the United States, there has been much more of a tendency to adapt cities to accommodate driving,” said Peder Jensen, head of the Energy and Transport Group at the European Environment Agency. “Here there has been more movement to make cities more livable for people, to get cities relatively free of cars.”"
us  europe  cities  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  mobility  cars  walking  publictransit  pedestrians  livability  carfree  carfreecity  2011  london  stockholm  zurich  vienna  sanfrancisco  traffic  priorities  nyc  bikes  biking  sustainability  health  parking 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Bill Maher’s “Real Time” education debate failure - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post
"…a more important consideration of ranking and American exceptionalism may be the following data from David Morris about where the U.S. does rank No. 1:

• CEO pay compared to average worker pay.
• Income for top 0.1%
• Military spending
• Prisons per 100,000 population
• Murders per 100,000 population
• Health care costs as % of GDP
• Infant mortality per 1000 live births
• (As a reverse number one, meaning we are at the bottom) Social spending on families as % of GDP
• % children living in poverty, compared to like countries
• % experiencing homelessness from 1990-2006, compared to like countries

These are some of our exceptionalities because it is what we tolerate. To be blunt, we have corrosive and negative attitudes — as well as contradictory attitudes — about education because we do not want to face the fact of our country, the inequity and the real accountability that should be aimed at the top."
teaching  politics  policy  us  exceptionalism  2011  paulthomas  davidmorris  priorities  wealth  inequality  scapegoating  education  publicschools  poverty  plthomas 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Cranking | 43 Folders
"This is not me quitting the book. No fucking way. This is me doubling down on the book--on my book.

I will finish my book very soon. Not because of (or in spite of) any contract, and not because of (or in spite of) any editor, and certainly not because of (or in spite of) any tacit demand for empty cranking.

I will finish my book because I want to finish it. Because it is very, very important to me to finish it.

But, again, let's be clear-- what I finish will be my book. And, it will be done my way. And, yes--you Back to Work fans knew this one was coming--my book will have my cover that I choose. It will not have fucking pussy willows or desert islands or third-rate kerning. It will be, to quote my editor (who is awesome), "messy."

My book will help and comfort the people that I want to reach. And, yes, much like my editor, my book will be awesome."
parenting  writing  productivity  freedom  balance  priorities  meaning  values  merlinmann  2009  via:lukeneff  life  wisdom  storytelling  memory 
april 2011 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: The Big Lies (Part Two)
"Teach for America is a "noble" idea; A Core Curriculum is essential; "Core" subjects are more important than other subjects"<br />
<br />
Comment from Shelly Blake-Plock: "I've never understood why game theory and risk analysis, innovation and entrepreneurship, free improvisation and non-idiomatic problem solving, conflict negotiation, and community service aren't at the heart of the "Core Curriculum". I'm getting kinda bored of the usual "English", "Math", "Science" rigmarole. Oh, wait a second... Education is the product of Education. Whatever that is."
tfa  irasocol  policy  education  edhirsch  teaching  learning  deschooling  unschooling  reform  schools  schooling  coreknowledge  priorities  teachforamerica 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Ivory Towers of Debt | varnelis.net
"It's a giant ponzi scheme with little of value for students and, as Harper's described in a notorious graphic about the consequeneces of overbuilding in Brandeis (Brandeis has threatened a lawsuit and has accused Harper's of slander and libel over this piece), can collapse precipitously during times of economic crisis. But while bonds were hot, Wall Street couldn't have enough of them, so universities eagerly complied."
tcsnmy  fundraising  bonds  endowment  universities  highered  money  economics  recession  priorities  shortterm  longterm  kazysvarnelis  javierarbona  cities  architecture  buildings  finance  leadership  administration 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Bezoar: The sorrows of finance capital
""It's an outrage that the priority of this university is not in favor with the students," said Jessie Fernandez, an SFSU senior who attended the meeting. His major, **urban studies and planning**, is currently threatened by the plan." (emphasis mine)

Urban Studies, of all things! So, Michael Maltzan, that's the crux of the neoliberal frenzy here in California. Where does architecture step in? Do we proceed with bloated buildings as the idea of what an open, accessible city is, or do we defend the spaces of our own discipline?"
javierarbona  sdsu  universities  finance  capital  architecture  michaelmaltzan  priorities  2011  education  highereducation  highered  open  accessibility  cities  california  budgetcuts 
march 2011 by robertogreco
How The Other Side Thinks « stone soup
"I was curious to see whether this correlation between educational values and leadership carries for other countries, and did a little impromptu research. I looked at the top 9 leaders of each country, and found their undergraduate major and/or graduate field. I started with the U.S., China, India, Singapore, and Germany. I would be interested in seeing others; however, I lack the language skill or Googling will to look them up.

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions, but perhaps it should come as no surprise, given the results, that the Chinese government is less concerned about humanitarian issues than economic growth, infrastructure development, and technological advancement."
us  china  germany  india  singapore  policy  priorities  law  economics  government  leadership  leaders  humanities  humanrights  humanitarian  development  hujintao  barackobama  engineering  comparison  2011 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Good and Bad Procrastination
"If you want to work on big things, you seem to have to trick yourself into doing it. You have to work on small things that could grow into big things, or work on successively larger things, or split the moral load with collaborators. It's not a sign of weakness to depend on such tricks. The very best work has been done this way.

When I talk to people who've managed to make themselves work on big things, I find that all blow off errands, and all feel guilty about it. I don't think they should feel guilty. There's more to do than anyone could. So someone doing the best work they can is inevitably going to leave a lot of errands undone. It seems a mistake to feel bad about that."
procrastination  gtd  paulgraham  productivity  2005  distraction  attention  interruptions  focus  creativity  innovation  work  cv  efficiency  errands  priorities  lifehacks 
december 2010 by robertogreco
6 Questions from Kicker: Julian Bleecker ["5 things all designers should know? Humility; Listening skills; How to find 3 positive, thoughtful observations about something you dislike; be more adamantine about saying “no” to PowerPoint...]
Sadly, good ideas can be stymied by misalignment of goals & aspirations...happens in-between design sensibilities to do good in world & business priorities...Together...make up a maelstrom of entanglements often referred to...as product design...

I’m excited by expectation that designer should reflect on practice & redesign way design is done...something I learned more about studying scientists & engineers in grad school when I was learning how scientists make knowledge...tricky thing is that scientists & engineers couldn’t really be reflexive about what they were doing or they’d get in trouble w/ knowledge cops...

Follow your curiosity, even if weather smells like Rapture, everyone around you is losing heads & creek is rising pretty quick. Instinct rules out over any sense of rationality or attempts at an objective view on things...But—doing what you know in your gut is right by you? That kind of sensibility & clarity is something I continue to learn from, even in mistakes."
design  process  reflection  howwework  productdesign  risk  hunches  risktaking  clarity  sensibility  learning  julianbleecker  curiosity  doing  priorities  tcsnmy  cv  glvo  business  science  engineering  rationality 
july 2010 by robertogreco
We Need Finland’s School System - Get In The Fracas
Quotes from the Finnish education mission: "Competent teachers On all school levels, teachers are highly qualified and committed. Master’s degree is a requirement, and teacher education includes teaching practice. Teaching profession is very popular in Finland, and hence universities can select the most motivated and talented applicants. Teachers work independently and enjoy full autonomy in the classroom....
education  policy  finland  danbrown  schools  teaching  tcsnmy  priorities  learning  lcproject  lindadarling-hammond 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Advice for Teachers Scorned | Beyond School
"East Asia is blessed by Confucianism. When Han Dynasty...put political support behind [his] teachings...unknowingly rooted in Chinese spirit a devotion to education & scholarship...teachers, students, & schools.
politics  unschooling  schools  education  teaching  clayburell  confucius  confucianism  asia  china  korea  japan  respect  learning  academics  teachers  students  choices  braindrain  eastasia  priorities 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Steady Work Finland
"One wonders what we might accomplish as a nation if we could finally set aside what appears to be our de facto commitment to inequality, so profoundly at odds w/ our rhetoric of equity, & put the millions of dollars spent continually arguing & litigating into building a high-quality education system for all children. To imagine how that might be done, one can look at nations that started with very little & purposefully built highly productive & equitable systems, sometimes almost from scratch, in the space of only two to three decades.
education  finland  schools  us  priorities  pisa  oecd  systems  lindadarling-hammond  policy  disparity  inequality  politics 
june 2010 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: An Easter Monday Proclamation of Liberation
"When "reformers" in America today talk about education, they are not discussing students, children, learning or development - they are talking about political economics. They are interested in "efficiencies" not to make schools better, but to make government smaller. They are too often interested in Charter Schools not as innovative examples which lead to new thinking, but as way to bust some of last remaining American unions. They are interested in "choice" not for opportunity, but to continue vicious racial & class divides in US. Yes Michelle Rhee, Bill Gates, Joel Klein, Mike Bloomberg, Arne Duncan, Paul Vallas, Chris Christie - I am talking about you...teachers, who have more education behind them & work longer hours & are far more essential to general society than lawyers, get less respect & much less income. And we often build schools as concrete block bunkers because it is cheap, while our restaurants are far more engagingly designed - thus we are fat & stupid."
irasocol  economics  education  school  policy  reform  2010  us  priorities  billgates  michellerhee  arneduncan  joelklein  inequity  money  politics  change  gamechanging  learning 
april 2010 by robertogreco
The Pendulum or the Butterfly? » Edurati Review
"We will loft education anew when we generate an ever-increasing ratio of educators who believe in a mission to create spaces of inspiration for learners and learning. It will take more than 1 or 10 percent of us speaking the poetic and political voices of passion, joy, and drive to create those spaces in which young people and educators can thrive in these contemporary days. Our vision must become a vision of lift, influence, and power that creates a front channel for our voices, shifting us out of the backchannel. We need our best educational technologists, our courageous leaders, our creative geniuses to create the front channel we must become. It’s our job, and our time, to increase the inspiration ratio in every community in this nation." [via: http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2010/04/easter-monday-proclamation-of.html]
pammoran  education  reform  policy  2010  schools  publicschools  learning  lcproject  change  politics  us  priorities 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Stowe Boyd - /message - DeTumblrized, ReTwitterated
"So, I have had a massive few weeks, and one thing I have learned as a life lesson is that when things get hard, the things you stop doing are the least central to your core."
stoweboyd  bookmarking  tumblr  twitter  time  pruning  web  online  priorities  simplicity 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Columnist - The Happiest People - NYTimes.com
"Cross-country comparisons of happiness are controversial and uncertain. But what does seem quite clear is that Costa Rica’s national decision to invest in education rather than arms has paid rich dividends. Maybe the lesson for the United States is that we should devote fewer resources to shoring up foreign armies and more to bolstering schools both at home and abroad."
conversation  happiness  society  culture  education  economics  psychology  environment  military  trends  nicholaskristof  costarica  tourism  americas  green  2010  well-being  priorities  shrequest1 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Firedoglake » Terrorism Still Less Deadly in US Than Lack of Health Insurance, Salmonella
"If you count the Ft. Hoot shooting as a terrorist attack, which even the likes of Pantload doesn’t, 16 people have died in the United States as result of terrorism in 2009. The other three deaths include the Little Rock military recruiting office shooting (1), the Holocaust Museum shooting (1), and Dr. George Tiller’s assassination (1), the last two coming at the hands of right-wing extremists.
politics  statistics  healthcare  terrorism  reform  risk  death  medicine  policy  priorities 
december 2009 by robertogreco
California's deficit of common sense -- latimes.com
"This is the usual problem of the United States, which is not just the richest and most powerful nation on Earth now, but on Earth ever, and one of the most blessed in terms of natural resources. We just collectively make loopy decisions about how to distribute the money and water, and we could make other decisions. Whether or not those priorities will change, we could at least have a reality-based conversation about them...Turn­ing Cal­i­for­nia into a Third World nation where the envi­ron­ment is neglected, a lot of peo­ple are gen­uinely des­per­ate and a lot of the young have a hard time get­ting an edu­ca­tion or just can’t get one doesn’t ben­e­fit anyone. We're not poor in money or water. We've just chosen to allocate them in ways that benefit tiny minorities at the expense of the rest of us. We should at least have a conversation about how we distribute our abundant resources. Derek is right: California is a place of abundance, except when it comes to political sense."
us  california  money  water  resources  budget  policy  politics  economics  thirdworld  economy  agriculture  latimes  culture  society  2009  priorities  education  colleges  universities  farming 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Grant McCracken: Community colleges, another view
"Perhaps as a reply to the TV show that now holds the community college up to ridicule, Kay Ryan, the US poet laureate, has this to say: “I simply want to celebrate the fact that right near your home, year in and year out, a community college is quietly—and with very little financial encouragement—saving lives and minds,” said Ryan. “I can’t think of a more efficient, hopeful or egalitarian machine, with the possible exception of the bicycle.”"
education  kayryan  learning  society  efficiency  perception  juniorcolleges  communitycolleges  egalitarian  bikes  biking  ridicule  universities  funding  culture  priorities 
october 2009 by robertogreco
The 500-Pound Gorilla
"Indeed, we might even go so far as to identify as one of the most crucial tasks in a democratic society the act of limiting the power that corporations have in determining what happens in, and to, our schools. Not long ago, as historian Joel Spring pointed out, you would have been branded a radical (or worse) for suggesting that our educational system is geared to meeting the needs of business. Today, corporations not only acknowledge that fact but freely complain when they think schools aren’t adequately meeting their needs. They are not shy about trying to make over the schools in their own image. It’s up to the rest of us, therefore, to firmly tell them to mind their own businesses."
alfiekohn  2002  corporations  education  business  policy  politics  democracy  priorities  textbooks  tcsnmy  testing  assessment 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Unboxed - When Academia Puts Profit Ahead of Wonder - NYTimes.com
"Perhaps the most troublesome aspect of campus commercialization is that research decisions are now being based on possible profits, not on the inherent value of knowledge. “Blue sky” research — the kind of basic experimentation that leads to a greater understanding of how the world works — has largely been set aside in favor of projects considered to have more immediate market potential.
universities  academia  research  profit  motives  motivation  learning  discovery  priorities  education  science  business  incentives  competition 
may 2009 by robertogreco
So I'm The Valedictorian
"Umm yeah, so I'm the valedictorian. Number one. But, what separates me from number 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 50, or 120? Nothing but meaningless numbers. ... It is disturbing enough that throughout high school, GPA and grades are pushed as the most important things, while learning, the real reason we are in school, falls by the wayside. The MCAS serve as just another set of meaningless numbers that add one more reason to focus on scores and forget learning. ... Schools are being turned into factories churning out brainless, mindless, opinion-less hacks year after year. ... We hear GPA, class rank, SAT, test grade, midterms, finals, scholastic achievement but never once do we hear "never mind the grades, think about the learning, think about activism, think about life." We celebrate those who have earned good grades but don't bother to consider if they are at all worthy of the praise. Does anyone care about the human beings behind the numbers?"
grading  grades  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  valedictorians  activism  students  cv  schooliness  assessment  priorities  society  testing  colleges  learning  admissions  tcsnmy  teaching  meaning  children  youth  factoryschools  gpa  sat  lcproject  via:cburell  anneliseschantz 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Caterina.net: Vinod Khosla on Home Metrics
"Your company measures its priorities. People also need to place metrics around their priorities. I spend about 50 hours a week at work, and I could easily work 100 hours. So I always make sure that, at the end of it all, I get home in time to eat with my
work  priorities  homemetrics  families  personal  balance 
march 2008 by robertogreco

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