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What It Would Take to Set American Kids Free | The New Yorker
"My trip coincided with the publication of “The Anti-Helicopter Parent’s Plea: Let Kids Play!” in the Times Magazine, a masterful bit of parental trolling whose comment section reached a symbolic two thousand and sixteen entries before it was closed. The dozens of adventure playgrounds in Tokyo offer, as a public amenity, what Mike Lanza (the “anti-helicopter parent” in question) says he created in his private Menlo Park, California, back yard: a challenging and unscheduled place for physical play that is largely free of parental supervision. Lanza is far from alone in believing that American children have a play problem. Take a look at Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids blog, which is peppered with reports of cops and child-protective services being called when parents leave their kids to play unsupervised. Lanza’s own book, “Playborhood,” describes the kids-can’t-play problem as both a social one and a spatial one. Without broader community support, such back-yard attempts at free play like his are doomed to become exercises in vanity. Look at them on the roof! My kids are more resilient than yours!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of my favorite moments in Tokyo occurred late one afternoon at a smaller adventure playground, Komazawa Harappa, a long sliver of space in a tight residential neighborhood, masked from the street by a simple hedge. Three kids fanned the flames in a fire pit; a baby padded about a dirty pool dressed in a diaper; two small boys, hammering on a house, had remembered to take their shoes off on the porch. But not everyone felt the need to be busy. Two teen-age girls had climbed up on the roof of the play workers’ house, via a self-built platform of poles and planks, and seemed deep in conversation. Suddenly, they began to sing, their clear voices ringing out over the open space."
alexandralange  children  unschooling  deschooling  community  2016  infrastructure  parks  playgrounds  adventureplaygrounds  risk  risktaking  hazards  japan  parenting  openstudioproject  messiness  johnbertelsen  kenishiomura  ladyallen  emdrup  copenhagen  tokyo  kodomoyumepark  srg  urban  urbanism  play  lenoreskenazy  hanegiplaypark  tools  dirt  order  rules  mikelanza  supervision  safety  independence  us  shokoomura  diy  risklyplay  lcproject  tcsnmt  sfsh 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Harvard EdCast: Lifelong Kindergarten | Harvard Graduate School of Education
"The concept of kindergarten — as a place for young children to learn by interacting with materials and people around them — has existed for over 200 years, but never has the approach been so suited to the way the world works as it is today, says Mitchel Resnick, the LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab.

“That approach to kindergarten is really aligned with the needs of today’s society," says Resnick, citing the need to adapt to the speed at which things change in the world. "As kids in the traditional kindergarten were playfully designing and creating things, they were developing as creative thinkers…. That’s exactly what we need.”

Being given the room to explore, experiment, and express oneself is vital to becoming a creative thinker — and to the learning process as a whole — says Resnick, author of Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play. If people aren't encouraged in their creativity at an early age, and if this isn't nutured throughout their schooling, then they aren't as prepared to deal with the unexpected when it arises.

“We’re trying to spread that approach to learners of all ages," says Resnick, who also leads the Lifelong Kindergarten research group at MIT. "We want to take what’s worked best in kindergarten and here at the Media Lab and provide opportunities for all kids of all ages to be able to explore and experiment and express themselves in that same spirit.”

In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Resnick talks about the importance of nurturing creativity in learning and explains why kindergarten is the greatest invention of the last millennium."

[See also:
"Mitchel Resnick - MIT Media Lab: Lifelong Kindergarten" (2014)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRxD-pe3PN0

"Helping Kids Develop as Creative Thinkers" (2017)
https://vimeo.com/244986026 ]
mitchresnick  lifelongkindergarten  mitmedialab  2017  interviews  kindergarten  play  projects  projectbasedlearning  passion  collaboration  experimentation  creativity  medialab  scratch  making  pbl  teaching  sfsh  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  risks  risktaking  education  schools  lcproject  openstudioproject  curiosity  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  mindstorms  writing  coding  programming  leaning  creating  lego  reasoning 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Raising a Teenage Daughter* — The California Sunday Magazine
"by Elizabeth Weil *with comments and corrections by Hannah W Duane
photograph by Tabitha Soren"

[from the annotations]

"Parents underestimate kids’ ability to figure out what is right for them. My parents originally thought the public arts high school where I just started would be a terrible choice, and now they understand how perfect it is for me."



"I receive, on average, a dozen book titles when I ask for a recommendation from my parents. It would be impossible to read them all. Plus, I want to choose what to focus on and file the rest away. Parents seem to need immediate return on their advice and assume no ideas get recorded for later use."



"Well, I wanted to know everything, back when that seemed reasonable, and I thought adults knew and understood everything, so it made sense to ask. Back then, all of my questions had answers."



"Adults think that kids are going to break if they hear something bad has happened. However, from a fairly young age kids know that terrible things happen, and they know when someone is trying to shelter them. It’s like when I was 4 and I found a dead robin on my grandparents’ deck, and my parents told me, “The bird is done being a bird.” That was OK, but it would have been OK, too, to just say the bird was dead. If you allow a kid to believe that things live forever, it’s going to be a worse experience later because they’re going to learn they were lied to."



"I think this is a complex point. It’s old-fashioned and sexist to think clothing is a major indicator of values. People should be able to wear what they want without worrying about others’ feedback."



"Everyone is “pretty flawed.” Isn’t the whole idea that you grow up and realize nobody is perfect and learn to live with the ways you’re messed up?"



"In my daily life, I take almost no risks. I do my homework; I’m absurdly early to most things. The mountains are the one place where I can relax and take advantage of this calm. I don’t know if I want a risk manager. I want to get better at accepting risk. It’s hard to learn, especially when your parents are cautious people themselves and you have anxiety about disappointing them. And yourself."



"I know my life is going to take some trial and error. I know I need to make the mistakes, and I know I’m going to be humiliated. I’m trying to gather up my courage. People can tell you to take deep breaths, they can tell you to close your eyes, but they can’t make you calm."
teens  parenting  daughters  2017  elizabetheil  hannahduane  annotation  families  children  childhood  death  growingup  adolescence  anxiety  adults  risk  risktaking  disappointment 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Teacher Tom: Our Catastrophic Imaginations
"Awhile back, I was watching a boy playing around under the swings as a classmate was swinging. It wasn't a particularly risky activity in my view. I mean, I was standing right there, taking pictures, discussing it with him, and it didn't set off any alarm bells for me in the moment, although after the fact, while going through the photos, it occurred to me that it was something that would be scuttled in other settings. My lack of concern probably stems from the fact that it's far from the first time this sort of thing has happened:

In fact, I think what caught my attention about it was that it was the first time I'd seen a kid do more than just lie there giggling. Of course, many schools have removed their swings altogether, so maybe the very existence of swings is shocking to some.

I imagine that in some dystopian future we'll become notorious for being the only school left with a swing set, let alone for not having a set of rules about how the kids can use them. That's because, in our six years with swings, since our move to the Center of the Universe, we've not found a need for safety rules, because the kids, the ones that live in the world outside our catastrophic imaginations, haven't shown a particular propensity to hurt themselves or one another.

Oh sure they get hurt like all kids do, like all people, but most of the injuries don't come from what people call "risky play," but rather from day-to-day activities, things you would think children had mastered. For instance, the worst injury we've seen during my 16 year tenure at Woodland Park came when a boy fell on his chin while walking on a flat, dry, linoleum floor. He needed a couple stitches. Another boy wound up with stitches when he fell while walking in the sandpit.

Increasingly, I find myself bristling when I hear folks talk about "risky play," even when it's framed positively. From my experience, this sort of play is objectively not risky, in the sense that those activities like swinging or climbing or playing with long sticks, those things that tend to wear the label of "risky" are more properly viewed as "safety play," because that's exactly what the kids are doing: practicing keeping themselves and others safe. It's almost as if they are engaging in their own, self-correcting safety drills.

When a group of four and five year olds load up the pallet swing with junk, then work together to wind it up higher and higher, then, on the count of three, let it go, ducking away as they do it, creating distance between themselves and this rapidly spinning flat of wood that they've learned is libel to release it's contents in random directions, they are practicing keeping themselves and others safe. They don't need adults there telling them to "be careful" or to impose rules based on our fears because those things are so manifestly necessary to this sort of thing that they are an unspoken part of the play.

When children wrestle they are practicing caring for themselves and their friends.

When preschoolers are provided with carving tools and a pumpkin they automatically include their own safety and that of others into their play. Adult warnings to "be careful" are redundant at best and, at worst, become focal points for rebellion (which, in turn, can lead to truly risky behavior) or a sense that the world is full of unperceived dangers that only the all-knowing adults can see (which, in turn, can lead to the sort of unspecified anxiety we see so much of these days). Every time we say "be careful" we express, quite clearly, our lack of faith in our children's judgement, which too often becomes the foundation of self-doubt.

The truth is that they already are being careful. The instinct for self-preservation is quite strong in humans. It's a pity that we feel we must teach them to live within our catastrophic imaginations."
tomhobson  children  risk  play  risktaking  safety  sfsh  experimentation  2017  schools  swings  playgrounds  injury  care  caring  wrestling  carefulness 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — Milton Glaser: “The model for personal development...
“The model for personal development is antithetical to the model for professional success.”



"I have posted this before, but it popped into my head again today, as it’s one of the truest things I’ve ever heard about having a career doing creative work:
When I talk to students about the distinction between professionalism and personal development, I very often put it this way: In professional life, you must discover a kind of identity for yourself, that becomes a sort of trademark, a way of working that is distinctive that people can recognize. The reason for this is that the path to financial success and notoriety is by having something that no-one else has. It’s kind of like a brand, one of my most despised words.

So what you do in life in order to be professional is you develop your brand, your way of working, your attitude, that is understandable to others. In most cases, it turns out to be something fairly narrow, like ‘this person really knows how to draw cocker spaniels,’ or ‘this person is very good with typography directed in a more feminine way,” or whatever the particular attribute is, and then you discover you have something to offer that is better than other people have or at least more distinctive. And what you do with that is you become a specialist, and people call you to get more of what you have become adept at doing. So if you do anything and become celebrated for it, people will send you more of that. And for the rest of your life, quite possibly, you will have that characteristic, people will continue to ask you for what you have already done and succeeded at. This is the way to professional accomplishment–you have to demonstrate that you know something unique that you can repeat over and over and over until ultimately you lose interest in it. The consequence of specialization and success is that it hurts you. It hurts you because it basically doesn’t aid in your development.

The truth of the matter is that understanding development comes from failure. People begin to get better when they fail, they move towards failure, they discover something as a result of failing, they fail again, they discover something else, they fail again, they discover something else. So the model for personal development is antithetical to the model for professional success. As a result of that, I believe that Picasso as a model is the most useful model you can have in terms of your artistic interests, because whenever Picasso learned how to do something he abandoned it, and as a result of that, in terms of his development as an artist, the results were extraordinary. It is the opposite of what happens in the typecasting for professional accomplishment.

Emphasis mine."
success  personaldevelopment  professionalism  miltonglaser  careers  identity  notoriety  personalbranding  specialization  expertise  accomplishment  stasis  failure  risk  risktaking  cv  neoteny  lifelonglearning  learning  howwelearn  life  living 
june 2017 by robertogreco
The Amazing, Tumultuous, Wild, Wonderful, Teenage Brain - Mindful
"Brain changes during the early teen years set up four qualities of our minds during adolescence: novelty seeking, social engagement, increased emotional intensity, and creative exploration. There are changes in the fundamental circuits of the brain that make the adolescent period different from childhood. Each of these changes is necessary to create the important shifts that happen in our thinking, feeling, interacting, and decision-making during adolescence.

NOVELTY SEEKING emerges from an increased drive for rewards in the circuits of the adolescent brain that creates the inner motivation to try something new and feel life more fully, creating more engagement in life.

Downside: Sensation seeking and risk taking that overemphasize the thrill and downplay the risk resulting in dangerous behaviors and injury. Impulsivity can make an idea turn into an action with a pause to reflect on the consequences.

Upside: Being open to change and living passionately develop into a fascination for life and a drive to design new ways of doing things and living with a sense of adventure.

SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT enhances peer connectedness and creates new friendships.

Downside: Teens isolated from adults and surrounded only by other teens have increased-risk behavior, and the total rejection of adults and adult knowledge and reasoning increases those risks.

Upside: The drive for social connection leads to the creation of supportive relationships that are the research-proven best predictors of well-being, longevity, and happiness throughout the life span.

INCREASED EMOTIONAL INTENSITY gives an enhanced vitality to life.

Downside: Intense emotion may rule the day, leading to impulsivity, moodiness, and extreme sometimes unhelpful reactivity.

Upside: Life lived with emotional intensity can be filled with energy and a sense of vital drive that give an exuberance and zest for being alive on the planet.

CREATIVE EXPLORATION with an expanded sense of consciousness. An adolescent’s new conceptual thinking and abstract reasoning allow questioning of the status quo, approaching problems with “out of the box” strategies, the creation of new ideas, and the emergence of innovation.

Downside: Searching for the meaning of life during the teen years can lead to a crisis of identity, vulnerability to peer pressure, and a lack of direction and purpose.

Upside: If the mind can hold on to thinking and imagining and perceiving the world in new ways within consciousness, of creatively exploring the spectrum of experiences that are possible, the sense of being in a rut that can sometimes pervade adult life can be minimized and instead an experience of the “ordinary being extraordinary” can be cultivated. Not a bad strategy for living a full life!"
teens  sfsh  adolescence  youth  brain  novelty  creativity  engagement  bahavior  psychology  social  risk  risktaking  emotions  consiousness  vulnerability  peerpressure 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Complacent Class (Episode 1/5) - YouTube
[See also: http://learn.mruniversity.com/everyday-economics/tyler-cowen-on-american-culture-and-innovation/ ]

"Restlessness has long been seen as a signature trait of what it means to be American. We've been willing to cross great distances, take big risks, and adapt to change in way that has produced a dynamic economy. From Ben Franklin to Steve Jobs, innovation has been firmly rooted in American DNA.

What if that's no longer true?

Let’s take a journey back to the 19th century – specifically, the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. At that massive event, people got to do things like ride a ferris wheel, go on a moving sidewalk, see a dishwasher, see electric light, or even try modern chewing gum for the very first time. More than a third of the entire U.S. population at that time attended. And remember, this was 1893 when travel was much more difficult and costly.

Fairs that shortly followed Chicago included new inventions and novelties the telephone, x-ray machine, hot dogs, and ice cream cones.

These earlier years of American innovation were filled with rapid improvement in a huge array of industries. Railroads, electricity, telephones, radio, reliable clean water, television, cars, airplanes, vaccines and antibiotics, nuclear power – the list goes on – all came from this era.

After about the 1970s, innovation on this scale slowed down. Computers and communication have been the focus. What we’ve seen more recently has been mostly incremental improvements, with the large exception of smart phones.

This means that we’ve experienced a ton of changes in our virtual world, but surprisingly few in our physical world. For example, travel hasn’t much improved and, in some cases, has even slowed down. The planes we’re primarily using? They were designed half a century ago.

Since the 1960s, our culture has gotten less restless, too. It’s become more bureaucratic. The sixties and seventies ushered in a wave of protests and civil disobedience. But today, people hire protests planners and file for permits. The demands for change are tamer compared to their mid-century counterparts.

This might not sound so bad. We’ve entered a golden age for many of our favorite entertainment options. Americans are generally better off than ever before. But the U.S. economy is less dynamic. We’re stagnating. We’re complacent. What does mean for our economic and cultural future?"

[The New Era of Segregation (Episode 2/5)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNlA_Zz1_bM

Do you live in a “bubble?” There’s a good chance that the answer is, at least in part, a resounding “Yes.”

In our algorithm-driven world, digital servants cater to our individual preferences like never before. This has caused many improvements to our daily lives. For example, instead of gathering the kids together for a frustrating Blockbuster trip to pick out a VHS for family movie night, you can simply scroll through kid-friendly titles on Netflix that have been narrowed down based on your family’s previous viewing history. Not so bad.

But this algorithmic matching isn’t limited to entertainment choices. We’re also getting matched to spouses of a similar education level and earning potential. More productive workers are able to get easily matched to more productive firms. On the individual level, this is all very good. Our digital servants are helping us find better matches and improving our lives.

What about at the macro level? All of this matching can also produce more segregation – but on a much broader level than just racial segregation. People with similar income and education levels, and who do similar types of work, are more likely to cluster into their own little bubbles. This matching has consequences, and they’re not all virtual.

Power couples and highly productive workers are concentrating in metropolises like New York City and San Francisco. With many high earners, lots of housing demand, and strict building codes, rents in these types of cities are skyrocketing. People with lower incomes simply can no longer afford the cost of living, so they leave. New people with lower incomes also aren’t coming in, so we end up with a type of self-reinforcing segregation.

If you think back to the 2016 U.S. election, you’ll remember that most political commentators, who tend to reside in trendy large cities, were completely shocked by the rise of Donald Trump. What part did our new segregation play in their inability to understand what was happening in middle America?

In terms of racial segregation, there are worrying trends. The variety and level of racism of we’ve seen in the past may be on the decline, but the data show less residential racial mixing among whites and minorities.

Why does this matter? For a dynamic economy, mixing a wide variety of people in everyday life is crucial for the development of ideas and upward mobility. If matching is preventing mixing, we have to start making intentional changes to improve socio-economic integration and bring dynamism back into the American economy."]
safety  control  life  us  innovation  change  invention  risk  risktaking  stasis  travel  transportation  dynamism  stagnation  economics  crisis  restlessness  tylercowen  fiterbubbles  segregation  protest  communication  disobedience  compliance  civildisobedience  infrastructure  complacency  2017  algorithms  socialmobility  inequality  race  class  filterbubbles  incomeinequality  isolation  cities  urban  urbanism 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Cecilia Cissell Lucas, Commencement, May 19, 2013 - YouTube
"PhD graduate speech, University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Education, Social and Cultural Studies Program"

[transcript: https://pdiehl.blogspot.com/2013/06/you-must-see-hear-and-read-this-speech.html

"Good afternoon! Thank you all for being here, and for all of your support for one another over the years. And thank you also to those who would like to be here today, but could not. This includes my Mom, who always made fun of me for taking forever to graduate -- but she passed away a couple of years ago and I am missing her today.

Of course, death is not the only thing that keeps people apart. Friends and families are ripped apart every day in this country due to an immigration system which criminalizes and deports people without “documentation”; and due to a prison industrial complex which disproportionately criminalizes and locks up dark-skinned people.

I raise these issues at an education graduation not only to honor those who may not be able to be with us today, but to raise the question of what it means for educators to be there for and with our students.

I think the answer to this question is, simply: to love. Simple, but not easy. Love is a discipline that must be practiced rigorously, and often involves taking risks.

Bell hooks has argued that where there is domination, love is impossible because domination is the opposite of love. To love, then, means being committed to bringing about justice.

This is also a pragmatic issue in our classrooms, if we are concerned with equity. We know that social policies and structures impact our students. Poverty, hunger, and housing insecurity impact a person’s ability to learn. So do the daily micro- and macro-aggressions of racism, nationalism, sexism and homophobia – all of which are systems of domination. These issues require our engagement beyond the classroom. But as educators, we should also interrogate the ways in which our curricula, pedagogies, disciplinary practices and school policies are supporting and justifying, rather than countering, economic and social systems of domination.

For example, I am inspired by the strong and growing movement against high stakes standardized testing. However, aren’t all tests -- and isn’t grading itself -- “high stakes” in the context of a society that thinks it is okay to discriminate on the basis of educational achievement?

All of us know that while, yes, we worked hard to get into UC Berkeley and to be here graduating today, this does not necessarily make us any smarter or more hard-working than others who do not have these degrees. And certainly our credentials do not make us more or less worthy as human beings. But that is what our society teaches us when our credentials are correlated with greater income and greater positions of power and influence.

There is a movement for “college for all” – but even if everyone were to get a PhD, does this mean that there would miraculously be enough well-paying and meaningful jobs available for everyone? We are told we need to improve our schools so that we remain “globally competitive” and that we are being responsible parents when, if we have the resources, we remove our kids from public schools or insist on AP and honors tracks within schools – but what does this say about our attitude towards the worth of children in other countries, poor children and/or children who are left out of honors and AP?

In a ranked system there is no such thing as “no child left behind” because ranking means some people’s success depends on others being less successful; the term “race to the top” is at least more honest.

Can we refuse to participate in a system which brutalizes so many of our students in this way, and reclaim schools for the kinds of learning that can help us build more just and loving societies?

We deal with many institutional constraints, but we are not helpless. Many people are working to create change using a range of strategies: direct resistance, subversive actions under the radar, acquiring positions of decision-making power, and creating alternative institutions.

Regardless of the strategies, we need to remain aware of the ways in which we compromise with oppressive practices. And we need to be doing this work in collaboration with our students and communities because we need all of our efforts and insights to shift from a norm of domination to a norm of love.

This rigorous discipline of love also requires learning to distinguish between liberatory and oppressive perspectives. This means teachers should not attempt to be neutral. There is no such thing as neutrality. That which appears neutral typically appears that way because it resembles the norm. But when the norm is characterized by domination, that is what we end up supporting when we attempt to be neutral.

While I am raising many difficult issues, I am actually quite hopeful. Cornel West distinguishes between hope and optimism. Optimism, he says, is “based on the notion that there’s enough evidence out there to believe things are gonna be better.” Hope, however, looks at the evidence and says, “It does not look good at all. But gonna go beyond the evidence to create new possibilities based on visions that become contagious to allow people to engage in heroic actions always against the odds, no guarantee whatsoever.

And, the thing is, people have always done this. That is, people have always created liberatory visions that they’ve resiliently acted on against the odds. The question before us, as educators, is whether we are willing to join in that legacy of past and present love warriors.

In our classrooms, this means that instead of creating docile obedient bodies, we need to foster intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and physical daring. We also need to develop radical imaginations that can expand our sense of the possible. How many classrooms have you been in where you simultaneously developed rigorous analytical capacities, connected the classroom work to meaningful work beyond the classroom and experienced a learning process in which it was okay and even encouraged to publicly cry, laugh, rage, dance, be playful, be honest, be still, be unknowing, and take risks?

I ask my students to take many risks in the classroom, including trying things that might feel scary. It’s useful to practice in low-stakes situations so that we might be prepared in situations with higher-stakes consequences.

In the spirit of practicing what I preach, I’m going to conclude with something that feels scary to me. I don’t sing, and have certainly never done so into a microphone. So in the spirit of working together, I’m asking all of you -- in the audience and up on stage -- to please stand up and help me out; I know many of you know the words, and we’ll sing the chorus a few times so everyone can join in. If you don’t want to say “man,” you can say:

I’m starting with the one in the mirror. I’m asking her to change her ways. And no message could’ve been any clearer: if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.

Know that the mirror is not just on the wall but also in the eyes of other people who help us to see ourselves and the world in clearer ways. So commit to each other. Commit to loving as fiercely and uncontrollably as possible. Shout it out in your own way, in your own languages of the tongue and of the body: love, love, love, love, love. Thank you.”]
cecliacissell  oppression  domination  love  teaching  education  pedagogy  curriculum  2013  cornelwest  optimism  hope  justice  socialjustice  radicalism  liberation  risk  risktaking  bellhooks 
february 2017 by robertogreco
What It Would Take to Set American Kids Free - The New Yorker
"“Play freely at your own risk,” a well-known sign at Tokyo’s oldest adventure playground, Hanegi Playpark, reads. All three elements—play, freedom, risk—are in ample evidence at Kodomo Yume Park, a newer addition to the city’s play infrastructure. There’s an open space where young kids are building a village with their own hands, and a mesa of dirt, donated by a construction company, that has been riddled with canyons and holes. I was in Japan to visit adventure playgrounds for book research, and at every playground, at some point, a child poured a bucket of water down a trench, just to see where it would flow. News articles about adventure playgrounds tend to focus on the hammers and the saws, but for many urban children simply mucking about can be a pleasurable way of spending an afternoon. I was reminded of my own younger brother, who never found a stream or puddle too small to fall into. If Hanegi Park had been down the street, he would always have known where to go looking for mud.

My trip coincided with the publication of “The Anti-Helicopter Parent’s Plea: Let Kids Play!” in the Times Magazine, a masterful bit of parental trolling whose comment section reached a symbolic two thousand and sixteen entries before it was closed. The dozens of adventure playgrounds in Tokyo offer, as a public amenity, what Mike Lanza (the “anti-helicopter parent” in question) says he created in his private Menlo Park, California, back yard: a challenging and unscheduled place for physical play that is largely free of parental supervision. Lanza is far from alone in believing that American children have a play problem. Take a look at Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids blog, which is peppered with reports of cops and child-protective services being called when parents leave their kids to play unsupervised. Lanza’s own book, “Playborhood,” describes the kids-can’t-play problem as both a social one and a spatial one. Without broader community support, such back-yard attempts at free play like his are doomed to become exercises in vanity. Look at them on the roof! My kids are more resilient than yours!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of my favorite moments in Tokyo occurred late one afternoon at a smaller adventure playground, Komazawa Harappa, a long sliver of space in a tight residential neighborhood, masked from the street by a simple hedge. Three kids fanned the flames in a fire pit; a baby padded about a dirty pool dressed in a diaper; two small boys, hammering on a house, had remembered to take their shoes off on the porch. But not everyone felt the need to be busy. Two teen-age girls had climbed up on the roof of the play workers’ house, via a self-built platform of poles and planks, and seemed deep in conversation. Suddenly, they began to sing, their clear voices ringing out over the open space… [more]
japan  children  tokyo  parenting  alexandralange  2016  adventureplaygrounds  risk  helicopterparenting  diy  johnberthelsen  ladyallen  1943  lenoreskenazy  mikelanza  kenichiomura  shokoomura  play  playgorunds  risktaking  helicopterparents 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Dream cities: the New York that never was, the playgrounds we don't have.
"And finally: How many people sent me this article from the New York Times Magazine on "the anti-helicopter parent"? Many many, including my own father. What is he trying to tell me? It's a masterful troll, but one which, unfortunately, leaves out much historical and contemporary context on the role of playgrounds in urban life.

As it happened, the day it popped up online, I happened to be visiting one of Tokyo's dozens of adventure playgrounds, which offer all the community, risk and autonomy of Mike Lanza's Menlo Park backyard, without the misogyny, gender stereotypes and high price. At the adventure playgrounds, the kids get to make the equipment they need, under the hands-off supervision of play workers trained to facilitate but not interfere. Rather than emphasizing only risk (though I saw plenty of children up on roofs), the adventure playgrounds are open for all kinds of play: with water, with tools, with real fire and pretend kitchen equipment. Articles on adventure play tend to emphasize the danger, but these spaces actually need to be seen as exceptionally porous community centers, in which lots of types of social activities, for parents and children, occur. One playworker told me he had sessions for parents in how to use tools, because their fear derived from their own lack of experience.

For there to be a real revolution in American children's lives, leading to greater independence, it can't come down to individual consumer choices and Lanza's mom-shaming. Independence requires a whole infrastructure of changes, from protected bike lanes to publicly-funded playground workers, to eyes on the street in the afternoon to less homework. Did I wish my kids could roll, on their own, from school to the park, meet friends, and appear on the doorstep when the clock chimed five, muddy, damp, full of what they played? (There are literal chimes at 5 p.m. in Tokyo.) But one sanitized backyard, in one of the wealthiest towns in America, won't make that happen. It's going to take a village, public funding, and broad cultural change."
alexandralange  parenting  adventureplaygorunds  playgrounds  publicspace  tokyo  japan  children  play  cities  mikelanza  menlopark  2016  adventureplaygrounds  learning  fear  risk  risktaking  communitycenters  lcproject  openstudioproject 
october 2016 by robertogreco
more than 95 theses — Fusion’s Patrick Hogan counted 47 institutions and...
"
Fusion’s Patrick Hogan counted 47 institutions and industries that millennials have been accused of destroying so far, including credit, car culture, the American Dream, relationships, and golf. Of course, in each of these cases, there is a real story to be told: Yes, young people are buying less on credit; yes, car sales are down; and, not surprisingly, 48 percent of economically squeezed under-30s don’t buy into the uplift of the American Dream, according to one poll. But the language of these articles tells another story on top of those, one that isn’t backed up by any evidence at all: that millennials are ‘killing’ those things, choosing to eliminate them from our shared life. That’s a deeply frustrating story to keep reading, when headlines of 'Millennials are killing the X industry’ could just as easily read 'Millennials are locked out of the X industry.’ There’s nothing like being told precarity is actually your cool lifestyle choice.

—The Myth of the Millennial as Cultural Rebel, by Laura Marsh [https://newrepublic.com/article/136415/myth-millennial-cultural-rebel ]

This is right, and right in an important way. Now, by way of full disclosure: I think pretty much all generational characterizations are bullshit. But the blame-the-millennials narrative is one of the most pernicious.

However: I want to say something about that last sentence I quote. I know dozens and dozens of young people who could have boring 9-5 jobs in their home towns, or in other places lacking evident cultural amenities, but who have decided instead to live in New York or Austin or Chicago or L.A. in order to pursue certain intellectual and artistic aspirations which they believe they can only seriously pursue in such environments. To seek the way of life they want, they piece together temporary and poorly-paying work in the gig economy, they live in sketchy or downright dangerous neighborhoods, and they typically do without health insurance.

You can argue that the decision to live this way is a reasonable one, given these young people’s temnperaments and hopes. You can argue that in a well-ordered society people wouldn’t have to make choices like that. But you can’t say that these particular people haven’t made choices. They could have social and financial stability, or at least a lot more of it than they currently have, because in the places they come from they’re among the best and brightest; they’re desirable commodities. But they’ve chosen the risks of precarity because there are certain goods they believe they can only get access to by doing so.

The question I want to ask is: Do they really have to make that trade-off? Is it really impossible to pursue their aspirations in towns and cities other than the handful that seem, to them, to burn always with a gem-like flame?"

[See also: https://www.wnyc.org/story/truth-millennials-narrative/ ]
patrickhogan  alanjacobs  2016  millennials  generations  precarity  choices  cities  urban  stability  economics  socialsafetynet  lauramarsh  smalltowns  place  preference  risktaking 
september 2016 by robertogreco
‘Pokémon Go’ and the Persistent Myth of Stranger Danger — Pacific Standard
"For as long as we’ve had kids on the Internet, we’ve worried about adults with bad intentions luring them into an in-person meeting. If anyone can name a television crime procedural from the past 20 years that doesn’t feature the plotline, I’ll give them $10. “Parents and teachers today worry a lot about digital safety, in particular — and far more than young people do themselves,” write John Palfrey and Urs Gasser in the new, updated version of their book Born Digital: How Children Grow Up in a Digital Age. The book’s implied audience is adults who want a good explanation of kids from other adults, and safety is clearly a big concern, whether it’s reasonable or not. Citing a 2006 anecdote of an assault victim who’d been groomed on Myspace, the authors write: “Despite the absence of data to show that young people are at a greater risk in an Internet era, there is reason enough for young people to be very cautious about how much information they share.”

This expert perspective — both authors were at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society until Palfrey became head of school at Phillips Andover Academy — is the usual one when it comes to kids online. Somewhere between scholarship and a parenting manual, Born Digital manages somehow to be neither. “From an adult perspective,” Palfrey and Gasser write, “young people often divulge too much information about themselves online.” But despite this awareness of the limits of their perspective, the authors still aren’t able to think beyond their own point of view. As a result, they don’t display a very good understanding of youth risk-taking.

Take sexting, for example. The authors think it’s important to “develop approaches that include young people as problem-solvers” when it comes to sexting, but they also think they have the answer: “Sharing naked pictures of oneself, even on a service like Snapchat, which is supposedly ‘temporary,’ is not worth the risk of suffering public embarrassment, possibly having to register as a sex offender, and even potentially going to jail.” Palfrey and Gasser thinks it’s important to educate young people about Internet safety so that they make the right choices, like not meeting strangers or sending nudes.

I called up Jeffrey Temple, director of behavioral health and research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch (and a foremost authority on teenage sexting behavior), to check the data. Temple has authored or co-authored five studies on the actual practices of young sexters, and what he’s found doesn’t line up with the news. “Nothing ‘bad’ happens to the vast majority of those who sext,” he tells me. “There aren’t any legal complications, there aren’t any psycho-social consequences, anything like that.” There are risks of course, but a fully informed teen might reasonably decide to sext anyway. “The strongest correlate undoubtedly for teen sexting is a consensual sexual relationship,” Temple says. It’s important to remember, he tells me, that more teens are having actual sexual intercourse than are sexting.

Palfrey and Gasser write that sexting stories “rarely end well,” but the stories we hear are hardly representative of actual youth experiences. If two teens trade sexy pics and don’t share them with anyone else, we don’t hear about it. If a group of girls plan a mall meet-up with a grown Internet stranger just to gawk at him from the food court, their parents probably won’t find out, never mind the local cable affiliates. Combine scaremongering news reports and the fact that there’s no story when nothing bad happens, and we’re set up to be misled. If you look at the data, young people have a better sense of the risks they’re taking than commentators who base their thinking on the evening news.

When Palfrey and Gasser write about the absence of data to support the idea that Internet-era kids are at greater risk, they’re being a little disingenuous. They make it sound as though they looked everywhere and simply couldn’t find the statistics, when the truth is that all available data sets indicate that young Americans are increasingly safe from accidental and intentional victimization alike. The people who are most likely to violate children are known to them: Acquaintances, peers, and, yes, parents. Strangers only commit 1 to 10 percent of child abuse. Almost no one wants to harm children, and the ones who do tend to target kids close to them.



When Palfrey and Gasser write about the absence of data to support the idea that Internet-era kids are at greater risk, they’re being a little disingenuous. They make it sound as though they looked everywhere and simply couldn’t find the statistics, when the truth is that all available data sets indicate that young Americans are increasingly safe from accidental and intentional victimization alike. The people who are most likely to violate children are known to them: Acquaintances, peers, and, yes, parents. Strangers only commit 1 to 10 percent of child abuse. Almost no one wants to harm children, and the ones who do tend to target kids close to them.

From a parental or custodial perspective, Palfrey and Gasser write, it’s important that kids learn to manage risks — but the authors don’t ever acknowledge any apparent upside to particular instances of risky behavior: They aren’t so much interested in why a kid might decide to send a nude or chat with strangers or go hunting for a Flareon in an abandoned lot at three in the morning, as in how to convince them not to. Even looking at his own data, Temple stresses to me that, as the father of a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old, he doesn’t want to give the impression that underage sexting is “OK.” But, I ask him, is it fair to say that most teens who sext are OK? “Yes, most kids who sext are OK.”

It’s fine for parents and adult authorities to have a risk-averse perspective when it comes to youth behavior — nobody really wants too-cool parents with boundary issues. But adults also shouldn’t confuse paranoia with fact, which is easy to do when there aren’t many teen pundits around to explain what’s going on from their perspective. Sexual exploration is a valid and important part of healthy development. Going outside and talking to strangers is a valid and important part of healthy development. Kids assert their own judgment, they do it online and in real life at the same time, and they are, by and large, pretty good at it.

It’s OK, too, that adults aren’t the best at assessing risky youth behavior, especially on the Internet — kids are the ones who have to make those judgments for themselves. It only becomes a problem when adults want it both ways: when they want kids to learn decision-making, but also to automatically avoid unnecessary risks. But learning to navigate unnecessary risks is, well, necessary.

I started thinking about Pokémon and safety after I saw one of many viral tweets about interacting with kids who were playing the game. Lisa McKinley tweeted, “A little boy in my neighborhood just knocked on our door and said ‘sorry to bother you, but there’s a Pokémon in your house and I need it.’” She — “of course!” — let him in. This stuck with me because the skills a kid needs to ask their neighbor for Pokémon are not so different from the skills a boy named JaJuan needed to stay safe when his mother Shetamia Taylor was hit in the crossfire at the Dallas Black Lives Matter march. Separated from his mom, JaJuan found Angie Wisner, a stranger. Wisner told NBC that JaJuan bumped into her and asked “Ma’am can I come with you because I lost my mama?” Wisner said the same thing as McKinley, the same thing most adult strangers say when kids ask for their help: “Of course.”

In a parental nightmare scenario, Taylor was able to keep her son safe. JaJuan was prepared to handle an emergency on his own, even if that just meant finding a trustworthy stranger and asking for help. There are consequences to never taking unnecessary risks, and it’s dangerous not to let children talk to strangers, even if a parent’s risk-averse impulse might be to say, “Stop bothering that man, he hasn’t seen any Jigglypuffs!” Maybe the kid’s right. Maybe the stranger can help."
2016  malcolmharris  pokemongo  strangerdanger  risktaking  teens  children  youth  johnpalfrey  ursgasser  snapchat  sexting  paranoia  dange  safety  parenting  uber  internet  web  online  data  pokémongo 
july 2016 by robertogreco
What's the Greatest Edtech Tool? | Edutopia
"So, ironically, the greatest edtech tool isn't available on your tablet, smartphone, laptop or desktop. The greatest edtech tool is informed, inspired teacher leadership complemented by a culture of collaboration and risk taking. It's not about the technology, it's about the people and their commitment to meaningful learning."
edtech  teaching  sfsh  schools  education  relationships  learning  howwelearn  collaboration  risktaking  via:lukeneff  emileferlisi  2016 
july 2016 by robertogreco
“It’s a good school, of course, but…” — The Synapse — Medium
"And if your school is “good” because it doesn’t undo the born-in advantages of its students, it is not “good” at all, but simply a fairly efficient day care operation.

Allow me to step back for a moment — I said above that we meant rich white schools 95% of the time, but let’s look at the other 5%. In those cases we mean ‘compliance academies’ — African-American and Latino kids marching in straight lines wearing uniforms and being routinely humiliated for any violation of whiteness expectations. Whether KIPP or Success Academies or the all-minority school in your neighborhood, these are the contemporary equivalent of British colonial schools or American Indian Schools. They are “good” because they are more under control than the terrible public schools most big cities offer their poor, and because whites imagine that Black boys taught to march in step will be less of a threat on the street.

And if that is “good” we are very much the miserable racists we seem to be.

So, if our definition of “good schools” is painfully illusory, what might we measure to find “good”?

A Few Metrics

Is choice expected? More than a few times visitors to our Albemarle County high schools ask, “so kids are allowed to eat anywhere?” To which I tend to always reply, “of course.” When that conversation extends the objections people bring up tend to sound — to me — as if they think their school is filled with especially sloppy animals. Which is weird, except that kids will always drop to the level of your expectations.

I toured a new high school in Washington, DC once where the teachers had pulled all the new comfortable furniture from student spaces and hidden it in faculty offices — ”the kids,” an Assistant Principal assured us, “don’t know how to use this furniture.” “They don’t know how to use chairs and couches?” I asked. He ignored my question.

To me choice equals trust. And I have never seen a school where kids were really learning anything that didn’t involve a hell of a lot of mutual trust between kids and adults.

I ‘measure’ a few things. How many kids are in the hallways during class time? is one. Kids in the hallways means that kids are trusted — are trusted to be on their own, are trusted to go where they need to go — whether that’s the library, our mechatronics labs, or wherever. Are kids in classrooms sitting or standing in lots of different ways? Really, very few kids are comfortable in classroom chairs, and when kids are uncomfortable they’re focused only on discomfort. We made a rule a few years ago that we’d never buy less than three kinds of seating and worksurfaces for any learning space, but even where we’ve managed to refurnish, kids need to learn to create their best environment. If you don’t let kids choose how, where, or if to sit you are failing to help them prepare for life, and it is not “good.”

Choice in technologies? Are kids using phones? Do they get to really control the one-to-one devices you give them? (Download, add software, change the interface) Are kids in a class using different software or web tools/sites to work? “These are personal learning devices,” my boss Vince Scheivert is fond of saying, “if they can’t personalize them, they aren’t that.”

It is essential — in this century — that kids learn to use the tools of their lifespans, and your kids are going to live their lives in the mid to late 21st Century. Whine all you want about the good ol’ days on your own time, but if you are working in education you must be modeling, you must be helping children learn to live well by making good technological choices. They cannot do that, your school is not “good,” if you ban, lock down, and tightly direct technology use.

A library with a lot of noise, collaboration, tools. About seven years ago I heard it said that, “in this century a library had to become the community kitchen, and stop being a supermarket.” Around that time I stumbled into that Fifth Avenue, New York Apple Store at 2.00 am and came to the conclusion that this century’s libraries needed to be community centers for contagious creativity. The point being that the world needed very few libraries with massive collections, after all Google was already scanning the entirety of the University of Michigan, Harvard, and New York Public Library, creating the incredible database of the world’s words. For ten years already schools I worked in had been using Fordham University’s Ancient History Sourcebook to connect kids to history. We needed our libraries to have tools kids wouldn’t find at home or in classrooms. We needed space for kids to gather, to process information together, to make things, to create.

Our libraries have tools, 3D printers, music construction studios, zones for writing, microcomputers, one has a laser cutter. They are the active academic core of our schools, crowded and noisy and full of invention — though yes, we create quieter zones as well, and rooms for teams to work in.

If your library is not a place that works for today, your school has a problem.

The Corridor Climate supports all kids. I often tell the story of working in two neighboring high schools. One was small (about 300 kids), and was always near the top of the state in test results. The other was large (2,700), far more diverse, with many more “challenges.”

The small school was a brutal place, with constant bullying by kids and teachers. The big school felt very safe for most everyone.

The big one created safety many ways, but it began in the corridors which were carpeted for sound control, had very wide stairways and doorways to eliminate passing time crush points, and had teachers standing outside every classroom doorway during passing times, constantly interacting with kids. The small school had none of that. The big school also gave kids 10 minutes between classes, a long enough time that the typical pressure we see disappeared.
Time, sound control, relationships in action. Those are things you can do. Here’s a test, if SpEd kids sometimes need to leave classes early in order to change classes safely, your school is, by definition, unsafe. And kids made unsafe in your corridors will do badly. In life if not academically.

Remember, ending bullying is all about adult behaviors. Kids imitate adults.

Kids are taking risks, teachers are taking risks. Risk is how we grow. Risk is the essential modus operandi of both childhood and adolescence. If I walk a school and I don’t see kids taking risks, in class, in the library, on the playground, in the halls, I know we have a school that is fighting that essential mode. And that can’t be a good school. But kids won’t take risks unless teachers and administrators are daily risk takers. The teacher who repeats last year’s lesson almost exactly is a problem that needs to be addressed. The teacher whose classroom always looks the same is a problem. And the administrators who don’t encourage and demonstrate risk taking are a problem.

When schools squelch risktaking they stop being educational institutions and become, simply, institutions.

Now, go back over the past year. How does your school do when you change your measuring sticks? “Good” cannot be about either socioeconomics or compliance. “Good” has to be about kids growing, about every kid being ok, about every kid learning the tools and environments they will live in.

In the end, you know. A really good school doesn’t end with a “but…” or a “just…” or a wish that kids would all come even if they didn’t have to."
2016  irasocol  choice  schools  sfsh  openstudioproject  lcproject  libraries  technology  edtech  risktaking  teaching  learning  education  schooldesign  safety  bullying  behavior  making  diversity 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Bret Easton Ellis on Living in the Cult of Likability - The New York Times
"On a recent episode of the television series “South Park,” the character Cartman and other townspeople who are enthralled with Yelp, the app that lets customers rate and review restaurants, remind maître d’s and waiters that they will be posting reviews of their meals. These “Yelpers” threaten to give the eateries only one star out of five if they don’t please them and do exactly as they say. The restaurants feel that they have no choice but to comply with the Yelpers, who take advantage of their power by asking for free dishes and making suggestions on improving the lighting. The restaurant employees tolerate all this with increasing frustration and anger — at one point Yelp reviewers are even compared to the Islamic State group — before both parties finally arrive at a truce. Yet unknown to the Yelpers, the restaurants decide to get their revenge by contaminating the Yelpers’ plates with every bodily fluid imaginable.

The point of the episode is that today everyone thinks that they’re a professional critic (“Everyone relies on my Yelp reviews!”), even if they have no idea what they’re talking about. But it’s also a bleak commentary on what has become known as the “reputation economy.” In depicting the restaurants’ getting their revenge on the Yelpers, the episode touches on the fact that services today are also rating us, which raises a question: How will we deal with the way we present ourselves online and in social media, and how do individuals brand themselves in what is a widening corporate culture?

The idea that everybody thinks they’re specialists with voices that deserve to be heard has actually made everyone’s voice less meaningful. All we’re doing is setting ourselves up to be sold to — to be branded, targeted and data-mined. But this is the logical endgame of the democratization of culture and the dreaded cult of inclusivity, which insists that all of us must exist under the same umbrella of corporate regulation — a mandate that dictates how we should express ourselves and behave.

Most people of a certain age probably noticed this when they joined their first corporation, Facebook, which has its own rules regarding expressions of opinion and sexuality. Facebook encouraged users to “like” things, and because it was a platform where many people branded themselves on the social Web for the first time, the impulse was to follow the Facebook dictum and present an idealized portrait of their lives — a nicer, friendlier, duller self. And it was this burgeoning of the likability cult and the dreaded notion of “relatability” that ultimately reduced everyone to a kind of neutered clockwork orange, enslaved to the corporate status quo. To be accepted we have to follow an upbeat morality code where everything must be liked and everybody’s voice respected, and any person who has a negative opinion — a dislike — will be shut out of the conversation. Anyone who resists such groupthink is ruthlessly shamed. Absurd doses of invective are hurled at the supposed troll to the point that the original “offense” often seems negligible by comparison.

I’ve been rated and reviewed since I became a published author at the age of 21, so this environment only seems natural to me. A reputation emerged based on how many reviewers liked or didn’t like my book. That’s the way it goes — cool, I guess. I was liked as often as I was disliked, and that was OK because I didn’t get emotionally involved. Being reviewed negatively never changed the way I wrote or the topics I wanted to explore, no matter how offended some readers were by my descriptions of violence and sexuality. As a member of Generation X, rejecting, or more likely ignoring, the status quo came easily to me. One of my generation’s loudest anthems was Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” whose chorus rang out: “I don’t give a damn about my reputation/ I’ve never been afraid of any deviation.” I was a target of corporate-think myself when the company that owned my publishing house decided it didn’t like the contents of a particular novel I had been contracted to write and refused to publish it on the grounds of “taste.” (I could have sued but another publisher who liked the book published it instead.) It was a scary moment for the arts — a conglomerate was deciding what should and should not be published and there were loud arguments and protests on both sides of the divide. But this was what the culture was about: People could have differing opinions and discuss them rationally. You could disagree and this was considered not only the norm but interesting as well. It was a debate. This was a time when you could be opinionated — and, yes, a questioning, reasonable critic — and not be considered a troll.

Now all of us are used to rating movies, restaurants, books, even doctors, and we give out mostly positive reviews because, really, who wants to look like a hater? But increasingly, services are also rating us. Companies in the sharing economy, like Uber and Airbnb, rate their customers and shun those who don’t make the grade. Opinions and criticisms flow in both directions, causing many people to worry about how they’re measuring up. Will the reputation economy put an end to the culture of shaming or will the bland corporate culture of protecting yourself by “liking” everything — of being falsely polite just to be accepted by the herd — grow stronger than ever? Giving more positive reviews to get one back? Instead of embracing the true contradictory nature of human beings, with all of their biases and imperfections, we continue to transform ourselves into virtuous robots. This in turn has led to the awful idea — and booming business — of reputation management, where a firm is hired to help shape a more likable, relatable You. Reputation management is about gaming the system. It’s a form of deception, an attempt to erase subjectivity and evaluation through intuition, for a price.

Ultimately, the reputation economy is about making money. It urges us to conform to the blandness of corporate culture and makes us react defensively by varnishing our imperfect self so we can sell and be sold things. Who wants to share a ride or a house or a doctor with someone who doesn’t have a good online reputation? The reputation economy depends on everyone maintaining a reverentially conservative, imminently practical attitude: Keep your mouth shut and your skirt long, be modest and don’t have an opinion. The reputation economy is yet another example of the blanding of culture, and yet the enforcing of groupthink has only increased anxiety and paranoia, because the people who embrace the reputation economy are, of course, the most scared. What happens if they lose what has become their most valuable asset? The embrace of the reputation economy is an ominous reminder of how economically desperate people are and that the only tools they have to raise themselves up the economic ladder are their sparklingly upbeat reputations — which only adds to their ceaseless worry over their need to be liked.

Empowerment doesn’t come from liking this or that thing, but from being true to our messy contradictory selves. There are limits to showcasing our most flattering assets because no matter how genuine and authentic we think we are, we’re still just manufacturing a construct, no matter how accurate it may be. What is being erased in the reputation economy are the contradictions inherent in all of us. Those of us who reveal flaws and inconsistencies become terrifying to others, the ones to avoid. An “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”-like world of conformity and censorship emerges, erasing the opinionated and the contrarian, corralling people into an ideal. Forget the negative or the difficult. Who wants solely that? But what if the negative and the difficult were attached to the genuinely interesting, the compelling, the unusual? That’s the real crime being perpetrated by the reputation culture: stamping out passion; stamping out the individual."
socialmedia  facebook  culture  2015  likeability  presentationofself  breteastonellis  online  internet  conservatism  via:rushtheiceberg  uber  relatability  genx  generationx  ratings  criticism  critics  yelp  society  authenticity  liking  likes  reputation  data  biases  imperfections  subjectivity  virtue  anxiety  sharingeconomy  paranoia  blandness  invention  risktaking  conformity  censorship  groupthink 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Entrepreneurs don’t have a special gene for risk—they come from families with money - Quartz
"We’re in an era of the cult of the entrepreneur. We analyze the Tory Burches and Evan Spiegels of the world looking for a magic formula or set of personality traits that lead to success. Entrepreneurship is on the rise, and more students coming out of business schools are choosing startup life over Wall Street.

But what often gets lost in these conversations is that the most common shared trait among entrepreneurs is access to financial capital—family money, an inheritance, or a pedigree and connections that allow for access to financial stability. While it seems that entrepreneurs tend to have an admirable penchant for risk, it’s usually that access to money which allows them to take risks.

And this is a key advantage: When basic needs are met, it’s easier to be creative; when you know you have a safety net, you are more willing to take risks. “Many other researchers have replicated the finding that entrepreneurship is more about cash than dash,” University of Warwick professor Andrew Oswald tells Quartz. “Genes probably matter, as in most things in life, but not much.”

University of California, Berkeley economists Ross Levine and Rona Rubenstein analyzed the shared traits of entrepreneurs in a 2013 paper, and found that most were white, male, and highly educated. “If one does not have money in the form of a family with money, the chances of becoming an entrepreneur drop quite a bit,” Levine tells Quartz.

New research out this week from the National Bureau of Economic Research (paywall) looked at risk-taking in the stock market and found that environmental factors (not genetic) most influenced behavior, pointing to the fact that risk tolerance is conditioned over time (dispelling the myth of an elusive “entrepreneurship gene“).

Resilience is undoubtably a necessary trait for success; many notable entrepreneurs experienced success only after leading failed ventures. But the barrier to entry is very high.

For creative professions, starting a new venture is the ultimate privilege. Many startup founders do not take a salary for some time. The average cost to launch a startup is around $30,000, according to the Kauffman Foundation. Data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor show that more than 80% of funding for new businesses comes from personal savings and friends and family.

“Following your dreams is dangerous,” a 31-year-old woman who runs in social entrepreneurship circles in New York, and asked not to be named, told Quartz. “This whole bulk of the population is being seduced into thinking that they can just go out and pursue their dream anytime, but it’s not true.”
1
So while yes, there’s certainly a lot of hard work that goes into building something, there’s also a lot of privilege involved—a factor that is often underestimated."
entrepreneurship  economics  business  inequality  wealth  2015  startups  aimeegroth  oligarchy  plutocracy  establishment  risk  risktaking  capital  capitalism  finance  privilege  conservatism 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Seven Reasons We Hate Free-Range Parenting - Bloomberg View
"Danielle and Alexander Meitiv of Maryland want to raise their children as "free-range kids," which is to say giving them the kind of range of movement that those of us over 30 recall as a normal part of childhood. One of my cherished childhood memories is the long walks my best friend and I would take home from church through New York's Riverside Park, which Google Maps records as a distance of a mile and a half, stopping at every playground along the way. This is slightly longer than the walk home from the playground that caused Montgomery County's Child Protective Services to investigate the Meitivs last year, after someone called the police to report the alarming sight of ... children walking down the street alone. On Sunday, after another "good Samaritan" called the cops, CPS seized the children, leaving the parents frantic with worry for hours.

One could argue that this is a good lesson for the parents. One could also argue that it would be bracing to have the police periodically break into our homes to educate us about weak points in our security systems. In fact, the sort of abduction that CPS apparently wants the Meitivs to obsess over is incredibly rare and always has been.

Why has America gone lunatic on the subject of unattended children? Parents hover over their kids as if every step might be their last. If they don't hover, strangers do, calling the police to report any parent who leaves their child to run into the store for a few minutes. What's truly strange is that the parents who are doing this were themselves left to their own devices in cars, allowed to ride their bikes and walk to the store unsupervised, and otherwise given the (limited) freedom that they are now determined to deny their own kids. The police are making arrests that would have branded their own parents as criminals. To hear people my age talk about the dangers of unsupervised children, you would think that the attrition rate in our generation had been at least 30 percent.

Even people who haven't gone crazy are afraid of the Pediatric Patrol. A mom of my acquaintance whose house backs up to a school playground, with a gate that lets her children walk straight into the schoolyard, is afraid to let them go through the gate without an adult, for fear that someone would call the same nutty CPS that has taken to impounding the Meitiv children. She compromises by letting them play alone in the playground only when she is in the backyard, so that she can intervene if the police arrive.

Think about that: Kids have the priceless boon of a playground right in their backyard, but they can't use it unless Mom drops everything to accompany them. I am running out of synonyms for "insane" to describe the state we have worked ourselves into. What on earth has happened to us?

As it happened, I looked into that for my book, and the disappointing news is that I didn't find much good research to explain this mass shift in American parenting. I did, however, develop some theories from watching parents, law enforcement officials and others discuss the pros and cons of free-range parenting.

I should add a caveat: I don't have kids, so I lack an important perspective. And I should say that if I did have kids, I'm sure I too would be a safety paranoiac, making my own baby food from organic ingredients just in case pesticides in their unsweetened applesauce turn out to cause cancer. So I'm not blaming individual parents; this is a collective insanity, not a personal foible.

So how can we explain it?

1. Cable news. When you listen to parents talk about why they hover, you'll frequently hear that the world is more dangerous than it used to be. This is the exact opposite of the truth. The New York City where I walked to school, past housing projects with major crime problems and across busy streets, was much more dangerous than the New York of today. And that is true of virtually everywhere. The world is not more dangerous. But it feels more dangerous to a lot of people because the media landscape has shifted.

Think of it this way: There were always stranger abductions, but they were always extremely rare, perhaps 2 or 3 per 1 million children under 12 in the U.S. each year. However, in the 1970s, you most likely only heard about local cases, and because these were rare, you would hear about one every few years in a moderately large metropolitan area. This made it sound like what it is: an unimaginably terrible thing that thankfully almost never happens. Very occasionally, a case would catch the imagination and make national news, like the Lindbergh baby. But these almost always happened in big cities like New York, or to rich people, so people didn't imagine that this was a risk that faced them.

Then along came cable news, which needed to fill 24 hours a day with content. These sorts of cases started to make national news, and because our brains are terrible at statistics, we did not register this as "Aha, the overall rate is still low, but I am now hearing cases drawn from a much larger population, so I hear about more of them." Instead, it felt like stranger abductions must have gone up a lot.

The Internet also enables parents to share stories of every bad thing that happens to their children. We used to be limited to collecting these stories from people we actually met, which meant that we didn't hear a lot of truly terrible stories. Now we have thousands at the tips of our fingers, and the same failures of statistical intuition make it feel like wow, terrible things are happening all the time these days.

2. Economic insecurity. As college degrees, and particularly elite degrees, have become more valuable, parents have come to feel that they must micromanage their children's lives in order to make a good showing on college applications. The result is vastly more supervised activities. This has shrunk the pool of kids who are around to play with, making free-range childhood less rewarding.

3. Mothers working. In suburbs and small towns, stay-at-home moms formed "eyes on the street," so that even if your kid was roaming the neighborhood, there was a gentle adult eye periodically sweeping across their activity. But I don't think we can lean on this too much, because kids in cities also had a lot more independence back then, and the Broadway of my youth was not exactly a sweet, sheltered world where nothing much could go wrong.

There's another reason I think this matters, however. More mothers are paying others to take care of their children. It's easy to impose severe limits on the mobility of your children when you are not personally expected to provide 24-hour supervision. When I was a kid, there were a lot of mothers at home who believed that being home with kids was important but did not actually personally enjoy playing with 4-year-olds. Those parents would have rebelled at being told that they should never let their kids out of hearing range. Those mothers are now at work, paying someone else to enjoy playing with their 4-year-old or at least convincingly fake it.

4. Collective-action problems. When it comes to safety, overprotective parents are in effect taking out a sort of regret insurance. Every community has what you might call "generally accepted child-rearing practices," the parenting equivalent of "generally accepted accounting principles." These principles define what is good parenting and provide a sort of mental safe harbor in the event of an accident. If you do those things and your kid gets hurt -- well, you'll still wish that you'd asked them to stay home and help bake cookies, or lingered a little longer at the drugstore, or something so that they weren't around when the Bad Thing happened. But if you break them and your kid gets hurt, you -- and a lot of other people -- will feel that it happened because you were a bad parent. So you follow the GACP.

Over time, these rules get set by the most risk-averse parent in your social group, because if anything happens, you'll wish you had acted like them. This does not mean that the kids are actually safer: Parents in most places "shelter" their kids from risk by strapping them into cars and driving them to supervised activities, which is more dangerous than almost anything those kids could have gotten up to at home.

5. Lawsuits. In the U.S., the liability revolution of the 1970s has made every institution, from parks departments to schools, much more sensitive about even tiny risks, because when you go before the jury in a case about a hurt child, arguing that what happened was less likely than getting hit by a bolt of lightning is going to have much less impact than the evidence of a hurt child.

6. Mobile phones. All these strangers calling 911 to report a 6-year-old who has been left in a car outside a store for a few minutes are probably doing so because it's easy. If that person had to dig for a piece of paper and a pen to write the license plate down, then take time out of their day to find a pay phone, dial the police and stand around talking to the 911 operator, most would probably think "You know, I bet his mom is going to come out of the store in a minute, and I really need to get home to start dinner." Now you can just take a picture of the license plate and call from the comfort of your car. It would be surprising if we lowered the price of being an officious busybody and didn't get a lot more of it.

7. We're richer. Richer countries can afford more safety. That's a good thing, but there can be too much safety. There are major downsides to this form of parenting, as many authors have laid out: It's hard on the parents, may result in the kids developing more phobias, and stunts the creativity and self-reliance that we theoretically want to develop in children so that they can become happy and productive adults.

I don't think there's one easy answer to why we've become insane; rather, there are a lot of forces that are pushing in this direction. But that doesn't mean we can't push back. And a good start would be for … [more]
parenting  children  safety  meganmcardle  freedom  free-rangeparenting  2015  media  news  statistics  liability  litigiousness  law  legal  helicoperparents  helicopterparenting  labor  work  economics  insecurity  micromanagment  lawenforcement  childcare  overprotection  risk  riskassessment  risktaking  lawsuits  mobile  phones  wealth  cps  via:ayjay  helicopterparents 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The Value Of Wild, Risky Play: Fire, Mud, Hammers And Nails : NPR Ed : NPR
"Something that's hard for us to accept is that safety, security, is a myth to a degree. There's no such thing as complete safety; it's impossible, unfortunately. But we are interested in being as safe as possible. So that is reflected very obviously in children's culture in America these days. Certainly fear culture is a barrier to adventure play in the U.S. But my sense is that people are growing bored of that. [They are] exhausted by worrying about everything all the time, constantly trying to preempt disaster and enjoying the permission to let go that comes from this adventure play movement."



"Children are an indicator species, in a way. And if kids are stressed out and confined and constrained, they're living in the world we created for them. So really this should really be an opportunity for us to look at ourselves and what we're doing in a larger cultural capacity.

[Q] It's still weird to me that we just don't have more of these in the U.S.

The biggest barrier now is staffing fees. The key ingredient to an adventure playground is a staff that is specifically using a playwork approach to support the kids. You never see a parent at a European adventure playground. But you see parents all over the America play sites.

Another serious barrier is the ugly factor. Junk playgrounds are junky and they don't look cute. They aren't tidy. So for that reason it's a tough sell — even to people who easily get on board with the self-directed and risky play ideas. Of course, that's where the fence comes in. The Land is surrounded by an 8-foot privacy fence that protects neighbors from an eyesore while enabling kids their own independent experiences — playful ones like we remember fondly from our own childhoods."

[Embedded video is here: https://vimeo.com/89009798 ]
children  play  society  culture  fear  parenting  danger  risk  risktaking  playgrounds  adventure  securiy  wales  fire  erindavis  adventureplaygrounds 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The Case for Free-Range Parenting - NYTimes.com
"BETHESDA, Md. — ON her first morning in America, last summer, my daughter went out to explore her new neighborhood — alone, without even telling my wife or me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Besides overriding our natural protective impulses in order to loosen the reins of our kids, my wife and I now also have to ponder the possibility of running afoul of the authorities. And we thought we had come to the land of the free."
clemenswergin  2015  parenting  children  autonomy  freedom  exploration  fear  safety  risktaking  helicopterparents  childhood  cities  petergray  self-reliance  independence  us  nannystate  freerangeparenting  helicopterparenting 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Turning Japanese: coping with stagnation
"Coping with stasis: how the supposed 'sick man of Asia' might be a model for us all"



"As I ease into town, usually via the limousine bus service, the sidewalks outside are teeming with well-dressed urbanites heading home from work or out to restaurants, everyone in motion with purpose and meaning.

But that’s not what the papers say. Japan has seen over two decades of a stagnant-to-recessionary economy since its 1989-90 juggernaut bubble burst. It has become the world’s economic whipping boy, described repeatedly as ‘the sick man of Asia’, incapable of revival, doddering off into the sunset.

Reports of Japan’s societal stagnation are no prettier. Stories about the country’s ageing population and plummeting birth rate abound – with the latter hitting a record low last year amid dire predictions of a disappearing Japan. At current rates, demographers estimate that the overall population will drop 30 million by 2050."



""Do rich societies really need to get richer and richer indefinitely?" he asks. "A lot of improvements in standard of living come not through what we normally consider as growth, but through technological improvements."

In fact, Pilling sees Japan's globally stagnant years as a time of dramatic domestic growth, if not the kind associated with standard economic measurements like GDP. "Many would agree that the standard of living, particularly in big cities like Tokyo, has improved significantly in the so-called lost decades. The city's skyline has been transformed, the quality of restaurants and services improved greatly. Despite the real stresses and strains and some genuine hardship, society has held together reasonably well. If this is what stagnation looks like, humanity could do a lot worse."

What makes one society hold together 'reasonably well', while others fail? You only have to look to the language for insight. Common words like ganbaru (to slog on tenaciously through tough times), gaman (endure with patience, dignity and respect), and jishuku (restrain yourself according to others' needs) convey a culture rooted in pragmatism and perseverance.

After the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in northern Japan, the international media was awash with stories about the dignity and superhuman patience of survivors, many of whom peacefully waited hours in single-file lines for relief supplies, only to be turned away in the frigid weather, asked to try again the next day. No one rushed to the front; no one rioted. In shelters, meagre foodstuffs like rice balls were split in half or in quarters to make sure everyone had something to eat.

Nearly everyone was on the same proverbial page: Japan's population is 98.5 per cent Japanese, as defined by citizenry. While ethnic diversity has its strengths (and some academics point out that, when you analyse the population's regional roots, Japan is quite diverse), a set of common cultural values, instilled from birth, may strengthen resilience in the face of crisis and adversity.

Journalist Kaori Shoji tells me that having few resources and learning to make the most of them is essential to the Japanese character. "The Japanese temperament is suited to dealing with poverty, scarcity and extremely limited resources. If [American Commodore Matthew Perry's] black ships didn't show up [to open Japan to Western trade] in the 19th century, we'd still be scratching our heads over the workings of the washing machine or the dynamics of a cheeseburger. On the other hand, with four centuries of frugality behind us, we have learned to be creative. Frugality doesn't have to mean drab stoicism and surviving on fish heads.”

Japan's stagnancy, pilloried by economists and analysts in the west, may turn out to be the catalyst for its greatest strengths: resiliency, reinvention and quiet endurance.

Until a couple of years ago, I lectured Japan's best and brightest at the University of Tokyo. My Japanese students were polite to a fault. They handed their essays to me and my teaching assistant with two hands affixed to the paper, like sacred artefacts. They nodded affirmatively when I asked if they understood what I'd said, even when they didn't . They were never late to class, and they never left early.

But when I pressed them on their future plans, they expressed a kind of blissful ambivalence. "I'd like to help improve Japan's legal system," Kazuki, a smart and trilingual student from Kyushu told me. "But if that doesn't work out, I just want to be a good father."

Sayaka, a literature major from Hokkaido, asked me if I understood her generation's dilemma. "We grew up very comfortable," she said. "We learned not to take risks."

No risk-taking – anathema to today’s 'fail-fast', Silicon Valley culture – would seem to indicate stagnation writ large. But what if it's a more futuristic model for all of us, even superior to Japan's sleek, sci-fi bubble-era iconography: all hi-tech and flashy yen, but no soul?

Waseda University professor Norihiro Kato, Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, sees a radical example in Japanese culture that he describes as a model of 'de-growth', of returning to other measures of growth that transcend stagnancy, focused instead on quality of life.

"The shape of wisdom as well as self-worth has drastically changed,” he tells me at his office in Takadanobaba, north west Tokyo. "We can point to periods of change, the late 80s with Chernobyl, or early 90s with the end of the USSR and communism [the end of history, according to Francis Fukuyama], or the early 00s with September 11. And finally the early the early 10s, with March 11 and Fukushima Daiichi."

Kato sees our world as one of fundamental transition, from dreams of the infinite to realities of the finite – a transformation Japan grasps better than most of us. "I consider younger Japanese floating, shifting into a new qualified power, which can do and undo as well: can enjoy doing and not doing equally."

I ask him if Japan's model – stagnancy as strength – can inform the rest of the world, educate us in the possibilities of impoverishment?

"Imagine creating a robot that has the strength and delicacy to handle an egg," he says. “That robot has to have the skills to understand and not destroy that egg. This is the key concept for growing our ideas about growth into our managing of de-growth."

Handling that egg is tricky. A spike in youth volunteerism in Japan post 3/11 suggests that young Japanese, despite the global hand-wringing over their futures, are bypassing the old pathways to corporate success in favour of more humble participation."



"Mariko Furukawa, researcher for Japanese giant advertising firm Hakuhodo, reckons the think-small mentality of young Japanese is turning stagnancy into sustainability. She cites the proliferation of agri-related startups – peopled by young Japanese who are leaving the cities for rural environs, despite the low returns, and who don’t seem to care about globalisation.

"These small techs should really add up to something, and we may be able to replace [stagnation] with new innovation, not necessarily new technology," Furakawa says. "I think (the) Japanese ability to innovate in such things is very strong. And so, because these city planners and urban designers are talking about downsizing the cities, wrapping up into smaller furoshikis (Japanese rucksacks), so to speak, the awareness is there, they know what needs to be done. In this sense, we may be at the forefront of developed economies."

Furukawa notes that many European nations facing similar dilemmas don't have the same tools to address them. "Europe has been suffering from low growth. But I don't know if they are that innovative at new ways of living."

Japan's Blade Runner image of yesteryear, a futuristic amalgamation of high-tech efficiency coursing through neon-lit, noirish alleyways in sexy, 24-hour cities, is really a blip in the nation's 4,000-year-old history. Today the country is more about quality of life than quantities of stuff. In its combination of restraint, frugality, and civility, Japan may serve as one of our best societal models of sustenance for the future."

[See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/20/business/international/japans-recovery-is-complicated-by-a-decline-in-household-savings.html ]
culture  economics  japan  stagnation  sustainability  growth  2015  rolandkelts  resilience  reinvention  endurance  risktaking  norihirokato  qualityoflife  wisdom  self-worth  marikofurukawa  frugality  kaorishoji  fertility  davidpilling 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Lagos Wide and Close Online
"An Interactive Journey into an Exploding City"

"Every day, hundreds of people start new lives in Lagos, Nigeria. This megacity is home to an estimated 13 million people who very survival depends on improvisation, networking, and risk-taking.

In 2001, architect Rem Koolhaas and filmmaker Bregtje van der Haak went to Lagos to document one of fastest growing cities in Africa. Based on research by the Harvard Project on the City, this website represents a unique engagement with an exploding city, capturing multiple perspectives of a volatile moment in its evolution.

In this interactive documentary film, the information has been organised according to distance. Loosely based on the trajectory of bus driver Olawole Busayo, it presents intimate encounters with the city and its people on the one hand, and a more removed perspective of Lagos on the other. In the one hour film, viewers join Busayo for his daily journey in the yellow minivan. Switch between a wide and a close view of Lagos and choose between three audio tracks: comments by Rem Koolhaas, conversations with Lagos citizens, or city sounds."



"This interactive documentary is an online adaptation of the DVD Lagos Wide & Close - An Interactive Journey into an Exploding City (2004). As one of the first interactive documentaries ever made, and a rare documentation of Lagos at a volatile moment in its evolution, we decided to make it available on the Internet in 2014.

The interactive film presents a selection of video and audio of Lagos recorded in 2001. It separates the distant – wide — and the intimate – close — views of the city enabling the viewer to switch between these perspectives interactively. Rather than following a dramatic storyline, it aims to bring the viewer close to the reality of what it means to live and work in Lagos, to move alongside bus driver Olawole Busayo and other Lagosians, and to delve into the city’s layered fabric, slowly making sense of the rules, the possibilities, and lifestyles of Lagos.

Increased bandwidth makes it now possible to play the two video channels and three audio channels in parallel online. The Lagos research project by Rem Koolhaas and The Harvard Project on the City, on which this interactive film is based, has not been published yet. With this online adaptation, we hope to provide a permanent and accessible resource for those interested in understanding Lagos and rapid urban growth.

The Explosive Growth of Lagos

Reliable statistics are not available, but based on UN reports and the Lagos city census, it is estimated that every day, hundreds of people start new lives in the African city of Lagos. As the largest port and commercial centre of Nigeria, it is now home to approximately 15 million people. This dangerous, polluted, and in many ways, dysfunctional city, has drainage problems, relentless traffic jams, and shortages of water and electricity, but is somehow working for those who move there to start new lives.

How and why does a city with so many problems continue to grow against all odds? In 2000, architect Rem Koolhaas decided to study Lagos in an attempt to understand the hidden logic that makes a “dysfunctional” city function. His research revealed a population’s unique ability to cope inventively with an urban landscape of disorder and to bring order into it. Lagosians have equipped their expanding metropolis with a finely meshed web of efficient self-organizing networks, challenging the dominant idea that “Lagos doesn’t work.”

Loosely based on the trajectories of bus driver Olawole Busayo, this interactive film provides a wide and a close perspective on an expanding city. In three separate audio tracks, it provides a glimpse of the lives of eight Lagos inhabitants, revealing the creative relationships they develop with their urban environment. In parallel to Busayo’s journey and interviews with Lagosians, Rem Koolhaas voices his reactions, interpretations, and changing attitudes towards Lagos during his five years of research.

Recording in 2001

In 2001, Rem Koolhaas invited filmmaker Bregtje van der Haak to help document his research in Lagos with the Harvard project on the City and photographer Edgar Cleijne. To present Lagos through the eyes of Koolhaas, Van der Haak created the documentary Lagos/Koolhaas that premiered in the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam and the Volksbühne in Berlin in the fall of 2002. As the title suggests, Lagos/Koolhaas is as much a portrait of the architect and his research methods as it is an image of the city of Lagos.

But another, more personal interpretation of the city was embedded in the 55 hours of material she shot with cinematographer Alexander Oey during their three trips to Nigeria — a collection of up-close encounters with the people of Lagos and a tracing of the paths and rhythms of their daily lives. If Koolhaas looked at the patterns of Lagos from afar and then zoomed in on the details, Van der Haak started from within letting personal encounters gradually reveal clues for deciphering the larger picture.

No Event No History

Because filming had long been prohibited in Nigeria, very few images of Lagos existed before 2001. This project involves an extended, chaotic and intimate engagement with a then hardly documented city, capturing multiple perspectives of a unique moment in its evolution, presenting experiences and observations, rather than a linear argument.

As one of the few contemporary records of a city that has been largely ignored by western media – with the exception of ‘news events’ like religious riots and military coups - this project is an invitation to look and listen to Lagos – at a moment in which the energy of change may reveal valuable insights into the uncontrollable forces of urbanization.

Credits

This project has been developed by documentary filmmaker Bregtje van der Haak and designer Silke Wawro in close collaboration with architect Rem Koolhaas, photographer Edgar Cleijne, and the Harvard Project on the City. The concept and scenario for Lagos Wide & Close was developed by Van der Haak and Wawro during a masterclass of the Sandberg Institute and Dutch Cultural Media Fund in 2003 and produced by Submarine. Most of the footage was originally shot in 2001/2002 by Alexander Oey for the linear documentary Lagos/Koolhaas (2002, 55 minutes), directed by Bregtje van der Haak and produced by Pieter van Huystee Film & TV in co-production with VPRO Television. Alexander Oey also edited Lagos Wide & Close. The soundscape was designed by Rik Meier."
lagos  nigeria  via:litheland  cities  interactive  urban  urbanism  storytelling  documentaries  improvisation  risktaking  networking  megacities  remkoolhaas  bregtjevanderhaak  africa  2001  olawolebusayo  soundscapes  2004  2014  edgarcleijne  silkewawro  rikmeier 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Why has human progress ground to a halt? – Michael Hanlon – Aeon
"Some of our greatest cultural and technological achievements took place between 1945 and 1971. Why has progress stalled?"



"Yet there once was an age when speculation matched reality. It spluttered to a halt more than 40 years ago. Most of what has happened since has been merely incremental improvements upon what came before. That true age of innovation – I’ll call it the Golden Quarter – ran from approximately 1945 to 1971. Just about everything that defines the modern world either came about, or had its seeds sown, during this time. The Pill. Electronics. Computers and the birth of the internet. Nuclear power. Television. Antibiotics. Space travel. Civil rights.

There is more. Feminism. Teenagers. The Green Revolution in agriculture. Decolonisation. Popular music. Mass aviation. The birth of the gay rights movement. Cheap, reliable and safe automobiles. High-speed trains. We put a man on the Moon, sent a probe to Mars, beat smallpox and discovered the double-spiral key of life. The Golden Quarter was a unique period of less than a single human generation, a time when innovation appeared to be running on a mix of dragster fuel and dilithium crystals.

Today, progress is defined almost entirely by consumer-driven, often banal improvements in information technology. The US economist Tyler Cowen, in his essay The Great Stagnation (2011), argues that, in the US at least, a technological plateau has been reached. Sure, our phones are great, but that’s not the same as being able to fly across the Atlantic in eight hours or eliminating smallpox. As the US technologist Peter Thiel once put it: ‘We wanted flying cars, we got 140 characters.’

Economists describe this extraordinary period in terms of increases in wealth. After the Second World War came a quarter-century boom; GDP-per-head in the US and Europe rocketed. New industrial powerhouses arose from the ashes of Japan. Germany experienced its Wirtschaftswunder. Even the Communist world got richer. This growth has been attributed to massive postwar government stimulus plus a happy nexus of low fuel prices, population growth and high Cold War military spending.

But alongside this was that extraordinary burst of human ingenuity and societal change. This is commented upon less often, perhaps because it is so obvious, or maybe it is seen as a simple consequence of the economics. We saw the biggest advances in science and technology: if you were a biologist, physicist or materials scientist, there was no better time to be working. But we also saw a shift in social attitudes every bit as profound. In even the most enlightened societies before 1945, attitudes to race, sexuality and women’s rights were what we would now consider antediluvian. By 1971, those old prejudices were on the back foot. Simply put, the world had changed."



"Lack of money, then, is not the reason that innovation has stalled. What we do with our money might be, however. Capitalism was once the great engine of progress. It was capitalism in the 18th and 19th centuries that built roads and railways, steam engines and telegraphs (another golden era). Capital drove the industrial revolution.

Now, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite. A report by Credit Suisse this October found that the richest 1 per cent of humans own half the world’s assets. That has consequences. Firstly, there is a lot more for the hyper-rich to spend their money on today than there was in the golden age of philanthropy in the 19th century. The superyachts, fast cars, private jets and other gewgaws of Planet Rich simply did not exist when people such as Andrew Carnegie walked the earth and, though they are no doubt nice to have, these fripperies don’t much advance the frontiers of knowledge. Furthermore, as the French economist Thomas Piketty pointed out in Capital (2014), money now begets money more than at any time in recent history. When wealth accumulates so spectacularly by doing nothing, there is less impetus to invest in genuine innovation."



"But there is more to it than inequality and the failure of capital.

During the Golden Quarter, we saw a boom in public spending on research and innovation. The taxpayers of Europe, the US and elsewhere replaced the great 19th‑century venture capitalists. And so we find that nearly all the advances of this period came either from tax-funded universities or from popular movements. The first electronic computers came not from the labs of IBM but from the universities of Manchester and Pennsylvania. (Even the 19th-century analytical engine of Charles Babbage was directly funded by the British government.) The early internet came out of the University of California, not Bell or Xerox. Later on, the world wide web arose not from Apple or Microsoft but from CERN, a wholly public institution. In short, the great advances in medicine, materials, aviation and spaceflight were nearly all pump-primed by public investment. But since the 1970s, an assumption has been made that the private sector is the best place to innovate."

[See also this response from Alan Jacobs: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/105225967233/the-future-of-ambition

"I’m not sure this essay by Michael Hanlon on the lack of technical and scientific progress over the past 40 years adds much to other recent speculations on the same theme: Tyler Cowen’s book The Great Stagnation, talks by Neal Stephenson on our lack of visionary imagination, and so on.

But it’s an indication at least of a growing awareness that, despite the determined efforts of the advertising world to suggest that everything is getting better all the time, our society is stuck in something of a technological rut, especially with regard to travel and, more important, medical care. Flying is a more frustrating experience than it has ever been and is only getting worse; only Google and Elon Musk are even trying to innovate in automobiling; and, as Hanlon points out, a person getting cancer today will receive treatment not fundamentally different than he or she would have received in 1970, and doesn’t stand a much greater chance of beating the disease.

So why aren’t we doing better? Hanlon offers a few fairly vague suggestions, as does Cowen, but this is an inquiry in its early stages. Let me just offer my two cents — precisely two.

Cent number one: Litigiousness. Every technological development in every field, but especially in health care, is hamstrung by the need to perform due diligence, and then beyond-due diligence, and then absurdly-over-the-top diligence, before putting a product on the market lest the developing company be sued by someone unhappy with their results. How many times have you read about some exciting new cancer treatment — and then never hear about it again, as it disappears into the endless Purgatory of tiny clinical trials that dying people beg (usually unsuccessfully) to be allowed to participate in?

Cent number two: Self-soothing by Device. I suspect that few will think that addition to distractive devices could even possibly be related to a cultural lack of ambition, but I genuinely think it’s significant. Truly difficult scientific and technological challenges are almost always surmounted by obsessive people — people who are grabbed by a question that won’t let them go. Such an experience is not comfortable, not pleasant; but it is essential to the perseverance without which no Big Question is ever answered. To judge by the autobiographical accounts of scientific and technological geniuses, there is a real sense in which those Questions force themselves on the people who stand a chance of answering them. But if it is always trivially easy to set the question aside — thanks to a device that you carry with you everywhere you go — can the Question make itself sufficiently present to you that answering is becomes something essential to your well-being? I doubt it." ]
science  technology  progress  michaelhanlon  tylercowen  attention  distraction  litigiousness  law  legal  funding  economics  capitalism  research  society  channge  inequality  innovation  riskaversion  risktaking  risk  medicine  healthcare 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Joi Ito's 9 Principles of the Media Lab on Vimeo
"In a brief address delivered at the MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference, Media Lab director Joi Ito proposed the "9 Principles" that will guide the Media Lab's work under his leadership… some in pointed contrast to those of the Lab's founder, Nicholas Negroponte.

Ito's principles are:

1. Disobedience over compliance
2. Pull over push
3. Compasses over maps
4. Emergence over authority
5. Learning over education
6. Resilience over strength
7. Systems over objects
8. Risk over safety
9. Practice over theory"
joiito  mitmedialab  disobedience  compliance  authority  emergence  learning  education  resilience  systemsthinking  systems  2014  practice  process  risk  risktaking  safety  leadership  administration  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  knightfoundation  money  academia  internet  culture  business  mbas  innovation  permission  startups  power  funding  journalism  hardware  highered  highereducation  agile  citizenjournalism  nicholasnegroponte  citizenscience  medialab 
december 2014 by robertogreco
A Conversation With Goucher’s New President - NYTimes.com
"What makes for active learning?

Give students something to do before they come to class, and then when they get to class, make that assignment more complex. Teaching is not just getting the facts across to the students, but sharing the context and the complexity of what we know. I teach jazz, so after students listen to Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, I ask them to articulate the differences between them, using a different context. If they’re talking to a carpenter, the analogy might be shag carpet, hardwood and stained concrete, or in terms of alcohol, cabernet, champagne and whiskey. That’s how learning works, comparing something new to something you know, and trying to integrate it.

What makes for successful pedagogy?

Transparency improves learning. If you tell students that what they’re doing is critical thinking, they retain it more than if you don’t name it. We know a lot about what works. For example, using a highlighter when you read doesn’t increase student learning; what does is reading the chapter, then taking out an index card and putting it in your own words. We talk about the three Rs: relationships, resilience and reflection. If you increase those things, students will learn more, and teaching content becomes less important.

We don’t have to teach you the periodic table because there’s a guy online who teaches it. But those guys online don’t know the names of their students. And there’s hard evidence that students learn more when they feel you know and care about them.

You encourage faculty to use Facebook groups, Twitter, email, Skype. Why?

I meet faculty all the time who say they’re sitting during their office hours alone, and they don’t do social media. The first thing I say is: “Tell your students you’ll be online to answer questions for an hour the night before the exam or before the paper’s due. You’ll be flooded with responses, and students will see it as a sign that you really care about how they’re doing.” You can also use Facebook or Twitter to make the point that class is not Las Vegas, that what happens here is not supposed to stay here, that it’s all about connections. If you’re reading Hamlet, find something in the world that you can tweet about that relates to it, to help students learn to make those connections.



What else is in store for Goucher?

I think about myself as a curator of risk. I want to encourage more innovation, more risk-taking. We are medieval institutions. I’m talking to the faculty about how we might improve things, and the first thing we’re talking about is freshman grades. They add stress and I don’t think we need them. We need to be willing to try new things, even if they fail, because that’s how we get progress. And I’m willing to fail. I don’t know if this video application is going to work, but I do see a problem with how college admissions has been working, so I think it’s worth a try."
joséantoniobowen  teaching  howwetach  howwelearn  gouchercollege  2014  interviews  technology  pedagogy  learning  colleges  context  comparison  resilience  relationships  reflection  transparency  socialmedia  risk  risktaking  cv 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Stop waiting, start making: Lessons in liveability from Jeanne van Heeswijk | Design Indaba
"A lot of your work spans a long period of engagement, often five, six years. What is the value of time in your design process?

I think spending time is a very important design element – to learn about the situation; to learn about the questions. Sometimes you have to hear things ten times just to understand the nuances of the way things are articulated. Quite often, when you enter a community for the first time or do work within a community, the first people you meet are already organised in one way or another. So they are often outspoken and they have a certain way to speak about the situation that is either angry or optimistic, depending whose side they are on. Spending time gives you the opportunity to hear more people’s opinion and different nuances of the same thing.

For example in Anfield, Liverpool, [where a housing renewal scheme meant people’s homes where bought up by the state for redevelopment that never took place] people repeatedly said: “We don’t like what is happening in our area. We don’t like these boarded-up houses. We are angry with the council.” But it was not until someone said that they were “sick of the waiting” that we really came to the crux of the matter. And what we’re talking about here is two things: waiting as an activity and not feeling well about it. In an area where you want to encourage living well, it is interesting to start working with this idea: to stop the waiting and to start making. This might seem like a very simple idea, but it is about the way it is formulated. We could have said: “Ok, you don’t like the boarded-up houses, let’s open up the houses again” but actually I don’t think that would have created the same process in order to stop the waiting.

By creating something collectively, by doing and making, whether it is a building or a loaf of bread, once you start producing again, it moves people from waiting into action. For me it is a very important condition for all my projects: to co-produce change, to co-produce an environment. And for that you need to work together and learn together and you basically just need to spend time. In practical terms that doesn’t mean I necessarily stay around all the time. Sometimes it is good to go back and forth. Often I spend of chunk of time, three to four months at a time, working on a specific project.

You work in communities across the globe. How do you overcome being an outsider?

I don’t believe in the local as a fixed unity. Locality is a mix of what I call local experts. A local expert can be someone who lives there but it can also be someone who works there. For example in the Afrikanerwijk, Rotterdam, the market stallholders, who are only there on market days, are very important for what happens in the area. They come from all over the Netherlands and even outside the Netherlands but they have an expertise because they know what it means to be at that market. This is an important dynamic. Sometimes certain localities have certain emergent issues that need experts to come from outside because they don’t have that specific expertise on location.

What are the ingredients for successful participation?

I think there is no recipe for it. That is the thing. Too often we want to try to package participation into recipes, strategies or deliverables so that we can easily tick the boxes at the end of the day. In my work I set up a situation where we can start producing again. You have to set up camp; set up shop; set up your studio there. Start working on site with people in the conditions that are there.

I think it is vital that all projects should be site-specific, context-specific, people-specific. There is no recipe for that because every situation is really different. Although there are some global trends and the pressure of capitalism drives the need for renewal everywhere, every situation is so specific: of course you have to work with the people who are there. I don’t think you should enter into a process completely blind: I do my research very well, but you have to go in there with the ability and the desire to learn about the situation and not with a preconceived plan or criteria or ideas. You can’t arrive with something and say: “Oh, I already drew something that you might like … ”

If capitalism has made us passive consumers, then how can we become active producers? How do you overcome passivity and bring people to action?

You keep poking them. Sometimes this is the hardest thing for people to do; to step over that boundary, to leave that passive consumerism behind and really start taking part. It is hard because becoming an active participant in producing an environment means taking risks. If you take risks, you make mistakes. People might not like what you produce, so you are continuously confronted with “the other” and confrontation is not something that makes us comfortable. But it is something we need in order to have a relationship with anyone or anything.

We need to confront and negotiate the difference; the different perception of what self and identity is or what we are together or can be together. The future you imagine and my vision might look completely different, yet here we are sitting together on this couch and we have to figure it out.

What is the value of making or producing?

To make is very important. Almost in a Marxist way we need to reclaim the right and means of production. I think at this moment in time we need to claim the right to produce culture; to produce cultural relationships and the cultural sphere. We need to reclaim this right from advertising, mass media and consumerism. I am an old-fashioned believer in the idea that we have to make things ourselves in order to get a grip on reality."

[See also:
http://www.designindaba.com/videos/interviews/jeanne-van-heeswijk-becoming-co-producers-our-own-future
http://www.designindaba.com/videos/conference-talks/jeanne-van-heeswijk-community-development-co-production ]
jeannevanheeswijk  art  making  production  participatory  2013  local  participation  consumerism  marxism  capitalism  identity  self  learning  howwelearn  outsiders  time  progress  urbanrenewal  gentrification  risks  risktaking 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Children Who Never Play | Michael J. Lewis | First Things
"Students in my history of architecture course are amused to discover that the final exam offers a choice of questions. Some are bone dry (“discuss the development of the monumental staircase from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century, citing examples”) and others deliberately open-ended (“General Meade overslept at Gettysburg and the South has won the Civil War; you are commissioner for the new national capital and must tell us which architects you will choose and what instructions you will give them.”) In offering this whimsical range of options, I do nothing original; my own professors at Haverford College did much the same in their day.

But a peculiar thing has happened. When I began teaching twenty-five years ago, almost all students would answer the imaginative question but year in, year out, their numbers dwindled, until almost all now take the dry and dutiful one. Baffled, I tried varying the questions but still the pattern held: Given the choice, each successive cohort preferred to recite tangible facts rather than to arrange them in a speculative and potentially risky structure. In other respects, today’s students are stronger than their predecessors; they are conspicuously more socialized, more personally obliging, and considerably more self-disciplined. To teach them is a joy, but they will risk nothing, not even for one facetious question on a minor exam.

I am hardly the only one to notice the risk-avoidance. William Deresiewicz gave a harrowing account of the problem in a widely noted New Republic essay with the incendiary title “Don’t Send Your Kids to the Ivy League.”
So extreme are the admission standards now that kids who manage to get into elite colleges have, by definition, never experienced anything but success. The prospect of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them. The cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential. The result is a violent aversion to risk. You have no margin for error, so you avoid the possibility that you will ever make an error.
Deresiewicz’s analysis begins with the college admissions process itself but says little about the habits and behavior patterns that these students acquired on the way to college, in early childhood. For some reason, my students were viewing playful questions as inherently risky, as if by collective instinct. Was it possible that they never learned to play in the first place?


Now if one goes by the strict dictionary definition of play as “to occupy oneself in amusement,” these young men and women have played a great deal indeed. But while thirty minutes in front of television or atop the elliptical trainer may be recreation or entertainment, it is not play. Certainly not that special kind of play that is the gleeful anarchy of children left to their own devices. This summer a woman was arrested in South Carolina on the charge of letting her nine-year-old daughter play unsupervised, something incomprehensible to those born in the 1950s or 1960s. For us, unsupervised play constituted the entirety of our childhood. Launched from the house and banished till mealtime, we roamed our allotted territory, from this house to that driveway, and not a step farther (fifty years later the electric charge of those invisible barriers still tingles). Each year the boundaries would expand, but even in the nutshell of six front yards, the child was a king of infinite space, with room aplenty for tag, hide and go seek, or relieveo.

In the last generation this sort of free and unsupervised play lost ground, along with those institutions that sustained it: platoon-sized families, stay-at-home moms, and multiple “eyes on the street.” Its place has been taken by the play date, negotiated in advance with the kind of deliberation required by the marriage of a Hapsburg and a Tudor. No longer the posse of shrieking kids, hurtling around the block, but instead the purposefully organized activities of contemporary childhood: tee-ball and soccer camp, swim class and 5k runs—the interstices filled with the distractions of the DVD and Nintendo 3DS.

For children who know only supervised play, there is no conflict that is not resolved by an adult. One never learns to negotiate and resolve conflicts with one’s peers. This was not always an amiable or tear-free process; playground justice was just as harsh and swift as medieval justice. But it was justice, and even that most brutal aspect of playground life in the 1960s, the afterschool fistfight, was regulated by the standing circle of classmates who yelled out encouragement or insults, and who stopped the proceedings when it went too far. In all of this was a restless testing of the limits of freedom, with little feints and modest rebellions. These often ended unhappily, especially when the offending instrument was a stick, stone, or pack of matches, but here were those first lessons in overstepping the bounds that seem essential for the development of an individual conscience.

More and more, parents feel obliged to steer their children toward those activities that might have a future payoff, already thinking ahead to that harrowing ivy league gauntlet that Deresiewicz describes. Such is the instrumental view, play as a means to an end and not an end in itself. But as any cultivator of plants knows, to promote one trait can cause others inadvertently to atrophy. One thinks of the modern tomato, indestructible yet flavorless, or the modern rose, exquisite and almost completely devoid of scent. And the process of producing the well-socialized, well-tempered contemporary child has inadvertently blunted some of those qualities that can only be acquired, as it were, when no one is looking. Chief of these is initiative—the capacity to size up a situation and take quick decisive action. Only those children who play under minimal supervision—“free range kids” in the happy phrase of Lenore Skenazy—get the chance to develop this sense of dash or pluck. They do this in the process of deciding what to play, establishing the rules, choosing sides, and resolving the inevitable dispute. In short, by acting as miniature citizens with autonomy rather than as passive subjects to be directed.

There is an extraordinary scene in Abel Gance’s 1927 silent classic Napoléon, which shows the future emperor as a ten-year-old schoolboy. Persecuted by older boys, Napoléon organizes an epic snowball fight and leads his small group to victory over a much larger party. In all of cinema there is no more spirited depiction of childhood play, and the moment of joyous discovery of skills and capabilities—in this case independent leadership—that will form the indispensable toolkit of the adult to follow."
2014  via:ayjay  michaeljlewis  williamderesiewicz  autonomy  creativity  play  imagination  conformity  unstructured  lenoreskenazy  risk  risktaking  innovation  behavior  freedom  childhood  parenting  education  schools  schooliness  schooling  highered  highereducation 
september 2014 by robertogreco
When Scientists Give Up : Shots - Health News : NPR
"But it was not a surefire idea. Like a lot of science, it might not have worked at all. Glomski never found out. His repeated grant applications to the National Institutes of Health never made the cut. Funding is so competitive that reviewers shy away from ideas that might not pan out.

"You actually have to be much more conservative these days than you used to," Glomski says, "and being that conservative I think ultimately hurts the scientific enterprise." Society, he says, is "losing out on the cutting-edge research that really is what pushes science forward."

Historically, payoffs in science come from out of the blue — oddball ideas or unexpected byways. Glomski says that's what research was like for him as he was getting his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. His lab leader there got funding to probe the frontiers. But Glomski sees that farsighted approach disappearing today.

"That ultimately squashed my passion for what I was doing," he says. So two years ago, at the age of 41, he quit.

Instead of helping society improve its defenses against deadly anthrax, he's starting a liquor distillery, Vitae Spirits. He's actually excited about that. It's a big challenge, and it allows him to pursue an idea with passion, rather than with resignation.

Meanwhile, Randen Patterson is not passionate about his post-science career as a grocery store proprietor. He recently bought the Corner Store in the tiny town of Guinda, Calif.

Patterson, 43, once worked for Dr. Solomon Snyder at Johns Hopkins University in one of the top neuroscience laboratories in the world. His research is published in some of the most prestigious journals.

And Patterson got there against the odds. He was raised in a trailer park in Pennsylvania by a single parent, he says, and stumbled into science quite by accident. Mentors realized his potential and encouraged him to make a career of it.

He landed a tenure-track assistant professorship at Penn State University, and then moved on to a similar job at University of California, Davis (a 45-minute drive from his new "hometown" of Guinda).

But Patterson struggled his entire career to get grants to fund his research, which uses computer simulations to probe the complex chemistry that goes on inside living cells. And he chose an arcane corner of this field to focus his intellectual energy.

"When I was a very young scientist, I told myself I would only work on the hardest questions because those were the ones that were worth working on," he says. "And it has been to my advantage and my detriment."

Over the years, he has written a blizzard of grant proposals, but he couldn't convince his peers that his edgy ideas were worth taking a risk on. So, as the last of his funding dried up, he quit his academic job.

"I shouldn't be a grocer right now," he says with a note of anger in his voice. "I should be training students. I should be doing deeper research. And I can't. I don't have an outlet for it."

When the writing was on the wall a few years ago, Patterson says he bought his own souped-up computer so he could continue dabbling in research on the side. But those ideas aren't adding to the world's body of knowledge about biology.

"The country has invested, in me alone, $5 million or $6 million, easily," Patterson says, thinking back on the funding he received for his education and his research. And he's just one of many feeling the brunt of the funding crunch.

There are no national statistics about how many people are giving up on academic science, but an NPR analysis of NIH data found that 3,400 scientists lost their sustaining grants between 2012 and 2013. Some will eventually get new funding, others will retire; but others, like Glomski and Patterson, will just give up.

"We're taking all this money as a country we've invested ... and we're saying we don't care about it," Patterson says.

He watches with some trepidation as his daughter, a fresh college graduate, hopes to launch her own career in science.

The funding squeeze could persist for his daughter's generation as well. So Patterson is hoping she will settle on a field other than biomedical research — one where money isn't quite so tight."

[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/509993455913680896 ]
academia  research  funding  2014  conservatism  risk  risktaking  certainty  uncertainty  competition  us  highered  highereducation 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Unschooling: The Case for Setting Your Kids Into the Wild | Nature | OutsideOnline.com
"There’s a name for the kind of education Fin and Rye are getting. It’s called unschooling, though Penny and I have never been fond of the term. But “self-directed, adult-facilitated life learning in the context of their own unique interests” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, so unschooling it is."



"Fin and Rye are proficient with most of the hand and power tools that form the backbone of any working farm. By the time they were eight, both of them could operate the tractor and, in a pinch, drive the truck with a load of logs. They split firewood alongside us, swinging their mauls with remarkable accuracy. They are both licensed hunters and own .22 rifles and 20-gauge shotguns. They wear belt knives almost everywhere, oblivious to the stares of the adults around them, some concerned, some perplexed, and some, it often seems to me, nostalgic.

Our sons are not entirely self-taught; we understand the limits of the young mind and its still-developing capacity for judgment. None of these responsibilities were granted at an arbitrary, age-based marker, but rather as the natural outgrowth of their evolving skills and maturity. We have noticed, however, that the more responsibility we give our sons, the more they assume. The more we trust them, the more trustworthy they become. This may sound patronizingly obvious, yet I cannot help but notice the starring role that institutionalized education—with its inherent risk aversion—plays in expunging these qualities."



"“I look back at unschooling as the best part of my life,” Chelsea Clark told me between classes at the University of South Carolina School of Law, where she was accepted on full scholarship after graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the university’s undergraduate program. “It was a huge advantage, actually. I had the confidence of knowing what I wanted to do, and I wasn’t burned out on classroom learning like most college kids.” Chelsea was unschooled throughout her high school years in the small town of Dorchester, South Carolina.

Still, perhaps the best answer I can give to the question of what price my children might pay is in the form of another question: What price do school-going children pay for their confinement? The physical toll is easy enough to quantify. Diabetes rates among school-age children are sky-high, and the percentage of 6-to-11-year-olds who qualify as obese has nearly tripled since 1980. And what do children do in school? Exactly. They sit.

Inactivity is also bad for the brain. A 2011 study by Georgia Health Sciences University found that cognitive function among kids improves with exercise. Their prefrontal cortex—the area associated with complex thinking, decision making, and social behavior—lights up. The kids in the study who exercised 40 minutes per day boosted their intelligence scores by an average of 3.8 points.

Yet the physical and cognitive implications of classroom learning have played minor roles in our decision to unschool Fin and Rye. It’s not that I don’t want them to be healthy and smart. Of course I do—I’m their father.

But, in truth, what I most want for my boys can’t be charted or graphed. It can’t be measured, at least not by common metrics. There is no standardized test that will tell me if it has been achieved, and there is no specific curriculum that will lead to its realization.

This is what I want for my sons: freedom. Not just physical freedom, but intellectual and emotional freedom from the formulaic learning that prevails in our schools. I want for them the freedom to immerse themselves in the fields and forest that surround our home, to wander aimlessly or with purpose. I want for them the freedom to develop at whatever pace is etched into their DNA, not the pace dictated by an institution looking to meet the benchmarks that will in part determine its funding. I want them to be free to love learning for its own sake, the way that all children love learning for its own sake when it is not forced on them or attached to reward. I want them to remain free of social pressures to look, act, or think any way but that which feels most natural to them.

I want for them the freedom to be children. And no one can teach them how to do that."

[See also: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/09/04/345827467/these-kids-grew-up-with-the-woods-as-their-only-classroom OR
http://www.wbur.org/npr/345827467/these-kids-grew-up-with-the-woods-as-their-only-classroom ]
benhewitt  homeschool  unschooling  education  parenting  vermont  2014  nature  learning  howwelearn  petergray  families  responsibility  tcsnmy  glvo  edg  srg  outdoors  risk  risktaking 
august 2014 by robertogreco
9 powerful lessons Punk Rock teaches you
"1. If you’re scared of failing you’ll never try.
One of the ethos punk teaches you is to just go for it, consequences be damned. Yes, that can be foolhardy, but success should be the byproduct of passion, not the goal.

2. Question everything, especially authority.
For many, punk rock is their intro into politics and corruption, mostly through reading Dead Kennedys lyrics and then having their minds blown by bands like Discharge and Crass. More importantly, punk shows us that not just politicians are to be questioned, but everyone in authority, including your parents.

3. You don’t have to be perfect.
The beauty of punk rock is that it is pure, raw emotion, an exposed nerve that doesn’t need to be slick and polished to get its point across. I mean, Sid Vicious was probably the world’s worst bassist but did that stop the Sex Pistols from making history? Hell. No. All punk asks is that you give it your all, and if you make a mistake then even better.

4. You’re an individual, so express it however you like.
It’s your hair, it’s your body. Do what you will with it. Just no Crocs, please.

5. Sometimes you’re better off doing it yourself.
The DIY philosophy implemented by punk rock was birthed from necessity, with bands and fans having to do everything on their own — including fanzines, record sleeves, etc. — knowing that no one was going to give them a hand. With that ideology, you can take on the world in all its aspects, since at the end of the day, the only person you can truly depend on is yourself.

6. The pit can be cathartic.
Especially as a youth, when your hormones are out of control and it seems like the world is against you, there is nothing better than getting out your frustration by violently hurtling yourself and other youths doing the exact same thing. In the end you feel like you just ran a marathon, which, depending on how many times you ran around the circle, you probably did.

7. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Some of the nicest, gentlest, sweetest people you will ever meet will be wearing a studded leather jacket with liberty spikes atop their heads. Just because someone isn’t a cookie-cutter citizen doesn’t make them a threat, it just makes them different.

8. There is more out there than just punk rock.
Punk is the perfect gateway to other genres of music, since its family tree is thick with branches — some that lead to metal, some that lead to ska and reggae, some to hip-hop, etc. Diving into punk really means diving into music in general.

9. You are not alone.
The greatest gift punk rock offers is the fact that there are other people like you out there. There is nothing worse than feeling isolated, feeling like no one understands, and then — BAM! — here’s this music and this community that instantly gets you. It’s the reason you fell in love with it, and the reason that no matter what, you’ll always be punk at heart."
punk  risk  risktaking  failure  solidarity  individuality  authority  anarchy  anarchism  questioning  diy 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The New Rules of Public Art | Public Art Now
"Demand new rules for public art now!

An organisation born in Bristol, UK, Situations reimagines what public art can be and where and when it can take place. We like to think and reflect on what happens when the spark of an idea is lit. We test out new ways in which to share those ideas through new commissions, events, interviews, books and blogs – just like this, The New Rules of Public Art.

Sign-up here to receive a link to download your free ‘The New Rules of Public Art’ poster or scroll down to get hold of your very own rulebook. In the meantime enjoy, share and debate The Rules.

THE NEW RULES OF PUBLIC ART

Rule no. 01: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO LOOK LIKE PUBLIC ART.

The days of bronze heroes and roundabout baubles are numbered. Public art can take any form or mode of encounter – from a floating Arctic island to a boat oven – be prepared to be surprised, delighted, even unnerved.

[Futurefarmers, Flatbread Society, Oslo, 2013. Photo: Max McClure]

Rule no. 02: IT’S NOT FOREVER.

From the here-today-gone tomorrow of a “one day sculpture” to the growth of a future library over 100 years, artists are shaking up the life expectancy of public artworks. Places don’t remain still and unchanged, so why should public art?

[BC System, New Works Forever, Bristol, 2013. Photo: Georgina Bolton]

Rule no. 03: CREATE SPACE FOR THE UNPLANNED.

Commissioning public art is not a simple design-and-build-process. Artworks arrive through a series of accidents, failures and experiments. Moments of uncertainty and rethinking are the points at which the artwork comes into focus. Let responses to the artwork unfold over time and be open to the potential for unforeseen things to happen.

Rule no. 04: DON’T MAKE IT FOR A COMMUNITY. CREATE A COMMUNITY.

Be wary of predefining an audience. Community is rarely born out of geography, but rather out of common purpose – whether that be a Flatbread Society of farmers, bakers and activists building a bakehouse or 23,000 citizens across 135 countries writing a constitution for a new nation. As Brian Eno once said, “sometimes the strongest single importance of a work of art is the celebration of some kind of temporary community.”

[Alex Hartley, Nowhereisland, Mevagissey, 2012. Photo: Max McClure]

Rule no. 05: WITHDRAW FROM THE CULTURAL ARMS RACE.

Towns and cities across the world are locked into a one-size fits all style of public art. In a culture of globalized brands and clone towns, we hanker after authentic, distinctive places. If we are place-making, then let’s make unusual places.

Rule no. 06: DEMAND MORE THAN FIREWORKS.

Believe in the quiet, unexpected encounter as much as the magic of the mass spectacle. It’s often in the silence of a solitary moment, or in a shared moment of recognition, rather than the exhilaration of whizzes and bangs, that transformation occurs.

[Wrights & Sites, Everything You Need to Build a Town is Here, Weston-super-Mare, 2010. Photo: Max McClure]

Rule no. 07: DON’T EMBELLISH, INTERRUPT.

We need smart urban design, uplifting street lighting and landmark buildings, but public art can do so much more than decorate. Interruptions to our surroundings or everyday activities can open our eyes to new possibilities beyond artistic embellishment.

[One Day Sculpture Heather & Ivan Morison, Journée des Barricades, Wellington, 2008. Photo: Steven Rowe]

Rule no. 08: SHARE OWNERSHIP FREELY, BUT AUTHORSHIP WISELY.

Public art is of the people and made with the people, but not always by the people. Artists are skilled creative thinkers as well as makers. They are the charismatic agents who arrive with curious ideas – a black pavilion could be barnraised in a Bristol park, a graveyard could be built to commemorate the Enrons and West India Companies of our fallen economy, the sounds of a church organ might bleed out across the city through a mobile app. Trust the artist’s judgment, follow their lead and invest in their process.

Rule no. 09: WELCOME OUTSIDERS.

Outsiders challenge our assumptions about what we believe to be true of a place. Embrace the opportunity to see through an outsider’s eyes.

[page 32 One of the Nowhereisland Ambassadors introducing the Embassy Photo Max McClureNowhereisland Ambassador, Weymouth, 2012 . Photo: Max McClure]

Rule no. 10: DON’T WASTE TIME ON DEFINITIONS.

Is it sculpture? Is it visual art? Is it performance? Who cares! There are more important questions to ask. Does it move you? Does it shake up your perceptions of the world around you, or your backyard? Do you want to tell someone else about it? Does it make you curious to see more?

Rule no. 11: SUSPEND YOUR DISBELIEF.

Art gives us the chance to imagine alternative ways of living, to disappear down rabbit holes, to live for a moment in a different world. Local specifics might have been the stepping off point – but public art is not a history lesson. Be prepared that it might not always tell the truth.

[Tony White, Missorts, Bristol, 2012. Photo: Max McClure]

Rule no. 12: GET LOST.

Public art is neither a destination nor a way-finder. Artists encourage us to follow them down unexpected paths as a work unfolds. Surrender the guidebook, get off the art trail, enter the labyrinth and lose yourself in unfamiliar territory.

[Jeppe Hein, Follow Me, Bristol, 2009. Photo: Jamie Woodley­. Courtesy University of Bristol]

Situations opens up the potential for artists to make extraordinary ideas happen in unusual and surprising places, through which audiences and participants are encouraged to explore new horizons.

We choose to work with artists who want to connect directly with people’s lives, creating space for them to take risks, to test limits and cross boundaries. Since 2002, artists have led us and thousands of others into unchartered territories, brought us together to build, bake, grow and marvel, transformed familiar surroundings, provoked us to ask ourselves challenging questions and told us tall tales of the future.

Demand new rules for public art now!"
publicart  glvo  canon  manifestos  performance  impermanence  ephemeral  ephermerality  rules  via:ablerism  imagination  community  conversation  socialpracticeart  culture  risktaking  ownership  open  openness  outsiders  empathy  perspective  listening  resistance  situationist  authorship  collaboration  participatory  cocreation  small  slow  unplanned  spontaneity  unfinished  uncertainty  ephemerality 
july 2014 by robertogreco
What are you drawing, Lily?
""When I think about kids watching a TV show like American Idol or The Voice, then they think, ‘Oh, OK, that’s how you become a musician, you stand in line for eight fucking hours with 800 people at a convention center and… then you sing your heart out for someone and then they tell you it’s not fuckin’ good enough.’ Can you imagine?

It’s destroying the next generation of musicians! Musicians should go to a yard sale and buy an old fucking drum set and get in their garage and just suck. And get their friends to come in and they’ll suck, too. And then they’ll fucking start playing and they’ll have the best time they’ve ever had in their lives and then all of a sudden they’ll become Nirvana. Because that’s exactly what happened with Nirvana. Just a bunch of guys that had some shitty old instruments and they got together and started playing some noisy-ass shit, and they became the biggest band in the world. That can happen again! You don’t need a fucking computer or the internet or The Voice or American Idol."

—Dave Grohl, drummer for Nirvana

I was watching my nieces the other day, Madeline and Lily. Madeline is 3. Lily is 4. They both sat there eagerly making things. They didn’t have excuses that they didn’t have the right markers or the right paper or the right idea.

I had run out of blank printer paper, so they started making paper airplanes out of magazine inserts. Madeline was thrilled to draw with whatever utensil she could get her hands on. Lily had found a pink ribbon someone had dropped on the street. She picked up the forgotten trash and later turned it into a kite.

Of course, their airplanes didn’t work. I have no idea on earth what Madeline had drawn. And the kite didn’t have a chance of actually flying. But it didn’t matter. They didn’t care. It was a start and you can see them just get better and better at making these things.

Later I heard of a conversation Lily had with her mom that sums up how little these kids care of perfection, and how much they just care about putting something, anything, that they’ve created into the world.

Lily’s mom: Lily, what are you drawing?

Lily: I don’t know, Mom. I haven’t drawn it yet."
doing  making  art  music  risktaking  joy  howthingswork  nirvana  children  davegrohl  materials  circumstances  perfectionism 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Mark Allen Artist Lecture on Vimeo
"The LA Times writes that Mark Allen is “Nikola Tesla by way of P.T. Barnum, with a dash of ‘The Anarchist Cookbook.’” Come hear a talk by Machine Project founder Mark Allen at the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry: Step right up!

Mark Allen is an artist, educator and curator based in Los Angeles. He is the founder and executive director of Machine Project, a non-profit performance and installation space investigating art, technology, natural history, science, music, literature, and food in an informal storefront in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Machine Project also operates as a loose confederacy of artists producing shows at locations ranging from beaches to museums to parking lots. Under his direction Machine has produced shows with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, the Contemporary Art Museum St Louis, and the Walker Museum in Minneapolis. He has produced over 500 events in Los Angeles at the Machine Project storefront space, and recently concluded a year long artist residency addressing topics of public engagement at the Hammer Museum.

Machine Project events emphasize intersections between fields and practices, particularly where the arts and sciences meet. In a 2006 LA Weekly article, writer Gendy Alimurung described Machine Project as, “Nikola Tesla by way of P.T. Barnum, with a dash of ‘The Anarchist Cookbook.’ “[2] Machine Project facilitates conversations between poets, technicians, artists, scientists, and obscure hobbyists and supports work that arises out of unusual combinations of interests. Past activities have included urban plant foraging and needlepoint therapy based on classic oil paintings. Machine Project prioritizes accessibility, explicitly courting amateur practitioners and curious locals. Workshops are regularly offered in sewing electronics, soldering, Arduino and Processing for artists.

In addition to weekly events held in the storefront gallery space in Echo Park, Machine Project operates as a gathering place for local and visiting artists to produce shows at various cultural institutions and events in Los Angeles. Frequent collaborators include Brody Condon, Liz Glynn, Kamau Patton, Corey Fogel, Jason Torchinsky, Chris Kallmyer, and Adam Overton. Machine Project has curated performances at the Glow Festival at Santa Monica Pier and at several art museums. Through their Artist in Residence program, Machine Project invites previous collaborators to develop larger projects that generally include a pedagogical element in addition to performances and exhibitions.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and the CMU School of Art."
markallen  collaboration  participatoryart  2013  poetry  art  lcproject  openstudioproject  capitalism  machineproject  events  learning  education  museums  howwelearn  arts  audience  process  howwework  experimentation  gender  curiosity  identity  titles  ambiguity  adaptability  makerspaces  hackerspaces  community  communitycenters  collectives  horizontality  organizations  flexibility  accessibility  humor  riskaversion  risk  institutions  failure  risktaking  curation 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Michael Wesch at Pasadena City College - YouTube
[Questions that burn in the souls of Wesch's students:
Who am I?
What is the meaning of life?
What am I going to do with my life?
Am I going to make it?]

[See also: http://mediatedcultures.net/presentations/learning-as-soul-making/ ]
education  teaching  michaelwesch  identity  cv  soulmaking  spirituality  why  whyweteach  howweteach  learning  unschooling  deschooling  life  purpose  relationships  anthropology  ethnography  canon  meaning  meaningmaking  schooliness  schools  schooling  achievement  bigpicture  counseling  society  seymourpapert  empathy  perspective  assessment  fakingit  presentationofself  burnout  web  internet  wonder  curiosity  ambiguity  controversy  questions  questioning  askingquestions  questionasking  modeling  quests  risk  risktaking  2014  death  vulnerability  connectedness  sharedvulnerability  cars  technology  telecommunications  boxes  robertputnam  community  lievendecauter  capsules  openness  trust  peterwhite  safety  pubictrust  exploration  helicopterparenting  interestedness  ambition  ericagoldson  structure  institutions  organizations  constructionism  patricksuppes  instructionism  adaptivelearning  khanacademy  play  cocreationtesting  challenge  rules  engagement  novelty  simulation  compassion  digitalethnography  classideas  projectideas  collaboration  lcproject  tcsnmy  op 
july 2014 by robertogreco
danah boyd | apophenia » Whether it’s bikes or bytes, teens are teens
"If you’re like most middle-class parents, you’ve probably gotten annoyed with your daughter for constantly checking her Instagram feed or with your son for his two-thumbed texting at the dinner table. But before you rage against technology and start unfavorably comparing your children’s lives to your less-wired childhood, ask yourself this: Do you let your 10-year-old roam the neighborhood on her bicycle as long as she’s back by dinner? Are you comfortable, for hours at a time, not knowing your teenager’s exact whereabouts?

What American children are allowed to do — and what they are not — has shifted significantly over the last 30 years, and the changes go far beyond new technologies.

If you grew up middle-class in America prior to the 1980s, you were probably allowed to walk out your front door alone and — provided it was still light out and you had done your homework — hop on your bike and have adventures your parents knew nothing about. Most kids had some kind of curfew, but a lot of them also snuck out on occasion. And even those who weren’t given an allowance had ways to earn spending money — by delivering newspapers, say, or baby-sitting neighborhood children.

All that began to change in the 1980s. In response to anxiety about “latchkey” kids, middle- and upper-class parents started placing their kids in after-school programs and other activities that filled up their lives from morning to night. Working during high school became far less common. Not only did newspaper routes become a thing of the past but parents quit entrusting their children to teenage baby-sitters, and fast-food restaurants shifted to hiring older workers.

Parents are now the primary mode of transportation for teenagers, who are far less likely to walk to school or take the bus than any previous generation. And because most parents work, teens’ mobility and ability to get together casually with friends has been severely limited. Even sneaking out is futile, because there’s nowhere to go. Curfew, trespassing and loitering laws have restricted teens’ presence in public spaces. And even if one teen has been allowed out independently and has the means to do something fun, it’s unlikely her friends will be able to join her.

Given the array of restrictions teens face, it’s not surprising that they have embraced technology with such enthusiasm. The need to hang out, socialize, gossip and flirt hasn’t diminished, even if kids’ ability to get together has.

After studying teenagers for a decade, I’ve come to respect how their creativity, ingenuity and resilience have not been dampened even as they have been misunderstood, underappreciated and reviled. I’ve watched teenage couples co-create images to produce a portrait of intimacy when they lack the time and place to actually kiss. At a more political level, I’ve witnessed undocumented youth use social media to rally their peers and personal networks to speak out in favor of the Dream Act, even going so far as to orchestrate school walkouts and local marches.

This does not mean that teens always use the tools around them for productive purposes. Plenty of youth lash out at others, emulating a pervasive culture of meanness and cruelty. Others engage in risky behaviors, seeking attention in deeply problematic ways. Yet, even as those who are hurting others often make visible their own personal struggles, I’ve met alienated LGBT youth for whom the Internet has been a lifeline, letting them see that they aren’t alone as they struggle to figure out whom to trust.

And I’m on the board of Crisis Text Line, a service that connects thousands of struggling youth with counselors who can help them. Technology can be a lifesaver, but only if we recognize that the Internet makes visible the complex realities of people’s lives.

As a society, we both fear teenagers and fear for them. They bear the burden of our cultural obsession with safety, and they’re constantly used as justification for increased restrictions. Yet, at the end of the day, their emotional lives aren’t all that different from those of their parents as teenagers. All they’re trying to do is find a comfortable space of their own as they work out how they fit into the world and grapple with the enormous pressures they face.

Viewed through that prism, it becomes clear how the widespread embrace of technology and the adoption of social media by kids have more to do with non-technical changes in youth culture than with anything particularly compelling about those tools. Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook may be fun, but they’re also offering today’s teens a relief valve for coping with the increased stress and restrictions they encounter, as well as a way of being with their friends even when their more restrictive lives keep them apart.

The irony of our increasing cultural desire to protect kids is that our efforts may be harming them. In an effort to limit the dangers they encounter, we’re not allowing them to develop skills to navigate risk. In our attempts to protect them from harmful people, we’re not allowing them to learn to understand, let alone negotiate, public life. It is not possible to produce an informed citizenry if we do not first let people engage in public.

Treating technology as something to block, limit or demonize will not help youth come of age more successfully. If that’s the goal, we need to collectively work to undo the culture of fear and support our youth in exploring public life, online and off."
teens  adolescence  children  trust  mobility  internet  online  risk  risktaking  2014  danahboyd  via:lukeneff  creativity  ingenuity  problemsolving  isolation  fear  parenting  overprotection  snapchat  tumblr  twitter  facebook  society  culture  safety  social  socialmedia  labor  experience 
april 2014 by robertogreco
The Overprotected Kid - The Atlantic
"A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution."
children  parenting  risk  playgrounds  play  risktaking  safety  education  2014  helicopterparents  hanarosin  independence  strangers  strangerdanger  danger  exploration  helicopterparenting 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Expensive cities are killing creativity - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"Today, creative industries are structured to minimise the diversity of their participants - economically, racially and ideologically. Credentialism, not creativity, is the passport to entry.

Over the past decade, as digital media made it possible for anyone, anywhere, to share their ideas and works, barriers to professional entry tightened and geographical proximity became valued. Fields where advanced degrees were once a rarity - art, creative writing - now view them as a requirement. Unpaid internships and unpaid labour are rampant, blocking off industry access for those who cannot work without pay in the world's most expensive cities.

Yet to discuss it, as artist Molly Crabapple notes in her brilliant essay "Filthy Lucre", is verboten. Recalling her years as a struggling artist, she remembers being told by a fellow artist - a successful man living off his inherited money - that a "real artist" must live in poverty.

"What the artist was pretending he didn't know is that money is the passport to success," she writes. "We may be free beings, but we are constrained by an economic system rigged against us. What ladders we have, are being yanked away. Some of us will succeed. The possibility of success is used to call the majority of people failures."

Failure, in an economy of extreme inequalities, is a source of fear. To fail in an expensive city is not to fall but to plummet. In expensive cities, the career ladder comes with a drop-off to hell, where the fiscal punishment for risk gone wrong is more than the average person can endure. As a result, innovation is stifled, conformity encouraged. The creative class becomes the leisure class - or they work to serve their needs, or they abandon their fields entirely."



"Creativity is sometimes described as thinking outside the box. Today the box is a gilded cage. In a climate of careerist conformity, cheap cities with bad reputations - where, as art critic James McAnalley notes, "no one knows whether it is possible for one to pursue a career" - may have their own advantage. "In the absence of hype, ideas gather, connections build, jagged at first, inarticulate," McAnalley writes of St Louis. "Then, all of a sudden, worlds emerge."

Perhaps it is time to reject the "gated citadels" - the cities powered by the exploitation of ambition, the cities where so much rides on so little opportunity. Reject their prescribed and purchased paths, as Smith implored, for cheaper and more fertile terrain. Reject the places where you cannot speak out, and create, and think, and fail. Open your eyes to where you are, and see where you can go."
arts  art  creativity  cities  housing  london  nyc  paris  failure  success  inequality  2013  sarahkendzior  credentialism  economics  risk  risktaking  meritocracy  inheritance  conformity  careers  ambition  opportunity  us  costofliving 
december 2013 by robertogreco
School of the Arts Dean Carol Becker Discusses Artist Education - YouTube
[See also:
School of the Arts Dean Carol Becker Explains Art's Role in Society
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZszW8NobfY

and

School of the Arts Dean Carol Becker on the Role of the Artist
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3sis8AjKWo ]
carolbecker  art  society  glvo  artists  2013  arteducation  openstudioproject  learning  risktaking  lcproject 
november 2013 by robertogreco
"Life is going to present to you a series of... - Noteworthy and Not
"Life is going to present to you a series of transformations. And the point of education should be to transform you. To teach you how to be transformed so you can ride the waves as they come. But today, the point of education is not education. It’s accreditation. The more accreditation you have, the more money you make. That’s the instrumental logic of neoliberalism. And this instrumental logic comes wrapped in an envelope of fear. And my Ivy League, my MIT students are the same. All I feel coming off of my students is fear. That if you slip up in school, if you get one bad grade, if you make one fucking mistake, the great train of wealth will leave you behind. And that’s the logic of accreditation. If you’re at Yale, you’re in the smartest 1% in the world. […] And the brightest students in the world are learning in fear. I feel it rolling off of you in waves. But you can’t learn when you’re afraid. You cannot be transformed when you are afraid."

—Junot Díaz, speaking at Yale
junotdíaz  education  accreditation  credentials  credentialism  2013  neoliberalism  efar  risktaking  risk  learning  transformation  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness 
november 2013 by robertogreco
How Can We Toughen Our Children Without Frightening Them? - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic
"First you leave your block. Then you leave your neighborhood. Then you leave your high school. The your city, your college and, finally, your country. At every step you are leaving another world, and at every step you feel a warm gravity, a large love, pulling you back home. And you feel crazy for leaving. And you feel that it is preposterous to do this to yourself. And you wonder who would do this to a child."

[Full set of dispatches from Paris here: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/category/paris ]
learning  parenting  psychology  maturation  exploringtheworld  howwelearn  2013  edges  concentriccircles  risk  risktaking  growingup  ta-nehisicoates 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Jazz-Inspired Leadership: Change Observer: Design Observer
"Anticipated, Emergent, and Opportunistic Change

To understand why improvisation is important, consider the three types of organizational change.



Create a Learning Environment

A learning environment is a precondition for improvisation. One company I know of sends employees to visit its global locations, so they can learn from each others’ innovations and practices. “Steal with pride,” it tells them. People informally develop ways of working that could have great value if shared. When managers encourage employees to improve practices on their own, rather than mandate a strict flowchart of activities, they can nurture emergent change. And managers have to be on the lookout for emergent outcomes, and learn how and when to leverage them.

If improvisation is to be encouraged, then senior managers also need to allow some flexibility in budgeting and timetables. Again, small-scale experiments can help by reducing upfront commitments and by helping to define the costs and benefits of a larger-scale roll-out. Just as important, employees’ evaluation criteria should accommodate improvisation. Employees should not be penalized for experimenting — and possibly failing. And they should be rewarded for developing innovative emergent practices in the face of this change. When everyone recognizes that conditions are uncertain and the rules of the game are being created in the playing, plans become effective guidelines rather than rigid prescriptions for action.

The lessons in improvisation contained herein are relevant even when there is no internal ‘change project’ per se. eBay’s evolution from a marketplace for Pez dispensers is a perfect example. When Pierre Omidyar founded eBay in 1995, did his business plan map out how he would create a leading global enterprise in a decade? Hardly. Users of eBay have been improvising and leading the development of eBay ever since. The normal way of doing business at eBay is to seek out emergent change and turn it into new opportunities.

That type of improvisation makes an organization more adaptive when marketplaces shift, technologies develop, companies globalize or the landscape changes in other unexpected ways. And an improvisational approach is best facilitated by combining planning with ongoing experimentation and learning. Budgets, timetables and reward criteria should reinforce the ability of individuals to improvise in a way that allows the organization to keep right on playing amidst change, without missing a beat."
leadership  change  administration  jazz  improvisation  planning  adaptation  uncertainty  flexibility  learning  wandaorlikowski  experimentation  prototyping  risk  risktaking 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Updated: My speech at The Economist (on innovation)
"First, most teams don’t work. They don’t trust each other. They are not led in a way that creates a culture where people feel trust. Think of most of your peers  – how many do you trust? How many would you trust with a special, dangerous, or brilliant idea?  I’d say, based on my experiences at many organizations, only one of every three teams, in all of the universe, has a culture of trust. Without trust, there is no collaboration. Without trust, ideas do not go anywhere even if someone finds the courage to mention them at all."



"Without teams of trust and good leaders who take risks innovation rarely happens. You can have all the budget in the world, and resources, and gadgets, and theories and S-curves and it won’t matter at all. Occam’s razor suggests the main barrier to innovation are simple cultural things we overlook because we like to believe we’re so advanced. But mostly, we’re not."



"Next, we need to get past our obsession with epiphany. You won’t find any flash of insight in history that wasn’t followed, or proceeded, by years of hard work. Ideas are easy. They are cheap. Any creativity book or course will help you find more ideas. What’s rare is the willingness to bet you reputation, career, or finances on your ideas. To commit fully to pursuing them. Ideas are abstractions. Executing and manifesting an idea in the world is something else entirely as there are constraints, political, financial, and technical that the ideas we keep locked up in our minds never have to wrestle with. And this distinction is something no theory or book or degree can ever grant you. Conviction, like trust and willingness to take risks, is exceptionally rare. Part of the reason so much of innovation is driven by entrepreneurs and independents is that they are fully committed to their own ideas in ways most working people, including executives, are not.

Lastly, I need to talk about words. I’m a writer and a speaker, so words are my trade. But words are important, and possibly dangerous, for everyone. A fancy word I want to share is the word reification. Reification is the confusion between the word for something and the thing itself. The word innovation is not itself an innovation. Words are cheap. You can put the word innovation on the back of a box, or in an advertisement, or even in the name of your company, but that does not make it so. Words like radical, game-changing, breakthrough, and disruptive are similarly used to suggest something in lieu of actually being it. You can say innovative as many times as you want, but it won’t make you an innovator, nor make inventions, patents or profits magically appear in your hands."
words  innovation  trust  teams  teamwork  leadership  administration  tcsnmy  ideas  howwework  howwelearn  risktaking  culture  conviction  gamechanging  disruption  invention  epiphanies  2010 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Eike König, Hort, Berlin - YouTube
"my rules:

1. enjoy what you are doing
2. get paid
2. don't work with assholes
4. only accept work that challenges you and you can build up a relation to
5. don't work 'for' people but 'with'
6. be honest to your client and yourself
7. keep on searching and exploring
8. quit when you don't enjoy it anymore

I like to invest in relationships rather than money and success"

[Presentation outline]

"1. Who the **** is Eike König? [0:07:47]
2. How to create a creative space
3. Bauhaus is dead, long live Bauhaus. [0:30:44]
4. Is it magic? [0:45:36]
5. How can you reach excellence? [0:51:28]
6. Create your own future [0:59:39]
7. Don't fear the future [1:14:34]"

[The Hort Band]

"1. collaboration is essential
2. the Hort band is in a state of constant evolution
3. repetition dulls creativity
4. the moment is more important than the documentation"

[See also:
http://blogs.walkerart.org/walkerseen/2013/03/14/designers-on-site-eike-konig/
http://www.walkerart.org/channel/2013/eike-koenig-hort-berlin
http://www.walkerart.org/calendar/2013/insights-eike-koenig-hort-berlin
http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/48414988312/this-is-eike-konig-of-hort-speaking-at-the-walker
http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/48414385349/hortfolio-mark-prendergast ]
eikekönig  hort  making  2013  walkerartcenter  design  burnout  graphicdesign  openstudioproject  work  howwework  money  relationships  studios  education  learning  dropouts  studiodesign  openspaces  bauhaus  collaboration  glvo  presence  attention  documentation  evolution  change  repetition  creativity  arial  courier  typography  fonts  success  play  fun  community  risk  risktaking  fear 
april 2013 by robertogreco
France, J'ai Vous Peur - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic
"What happens over there? Can I jog in the streets? Will people ask if I know Kobe Bryant? If I forget my place and say "tu" instead of "vous" will they cane me? And if I say "vous" instead of "tu" will they think I am being sarcastic? Who goes to another country and stays with people they don't know?

I don't know. I don't know anything. This is truly frightening--and exhilarating--part of language study. It's total submission. All around you will be people who know much more than you about everything. And the only way to learn is to accept this. You can't know what's coming next. You can't think about false goals like fluency. You just have to accept your own horribleness, your own ignorance and believe--almost on faith--that someday you will be less horrible and less ignorant. 

I've come to the point where I can accept that I am afraid and keep going. This is not courage, so much as understanding there's no other way. People who read this blog now send me notes in French. At speeches Haitian students approach me, and they speak French. My kid is starting to believe that learning a language is cool. I'm hemmed in by all of this, by ma grande bouche. 

And now there's no other way. Ces choses doit être fait."

[In a comment he left: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/03/france-jai-vous-peur/274132/#comment-833933574 ]

"It's funny because my first impulse was to have all of this read by my French tutor.

Two things stopped me.

1.) I wanted to communicate who I was to the family. Part of who I am is someone working out my French. It seemed important for them to know this.

2.) I really look forward to reading back over this entire series in five years.

With that said, correct away. Public correction is part of this."
ta-nehisicoates  language  languageacquisition  2013  french  ignorance  horribleness  learning  vulnerability  cv  canon  life  risk  honesty  identity  presentationofself  notknowing  uncertainty  certainty  thelearningmind  howwelearn  risktaking  culture 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Into the Woods | Trent Walton
"We were all afraid of pressing on, and everyone had his own excuse for why we shouldn’t go, but the fear of being grounded or getting lost in the dark woods overnight couldn’t compete with the weight of a double-dare. So we set out."

"We were Goonies, conquistadors, astronauts; we had forever changed our world."

"So many great childhood memories are the result of our decision to follow that one trail. It redefined everything for us and expanded our territory exponentially. These days, I’m happiest when I feel part of a team with the same adventurous spirit as that kid gang. The web is, after all, as limited as my old neighborhood with boundaries set by our current tools and technologies, as well as our understanding of each. I believe my work counts most when I’m looking for new trails and feel brave enough to blaze them. I know that the minute I dismiss new discoveries or ideas because the way forward isn’t clear is when I’ve lost my sense of wonder for web design…"
risktaking  gamechanging  astronauts  fear  memories  adventure  mystery  exploration  typography  css3  html5  webdev  trentwalton  2012  woods  goonies  childhood  webdesign 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Brown Alumna Recalls What She Failed to Learn - NYTimes.com
"Though I alone was responsible for insulating myself from challenge and failure and meaningful reward, an entire system buffers today’s children from such possibilities. Overprotective parents, schools dedicated to acing exams, a college preparatory system that offers zero capacity for error (unless it provides pathos fodder for the application essay) — all of these elements make it hard for the ambitious child to risk a misstep. There is no room for failure, let alone soap opera afternoons.

Today, perfect children check off boxes at all levels. At a Manhattan preschool last year, word spread about the magnificent child who had won acceptance at 12 — 12! — coveted kindergartens. “How did she manage it?” parents were heard to whisper. And then the answer was passed along the same gossip chain. “When asked to jump, my daughter will not only jump, she’ll ask, ‘How high?’ ” her mother explained."
universities  colleges  experience  riskaversion  fearoffailure  failure  competition  gamingthesystem  assessment  grading  grades  standardizedtesting  testcentricschools  collegeprep  missingthepoint  perfectionism  self-esteem  motivation  incentives  conditioning  checkboxes  schooliness  risktaking  learning  education  2012  princetonkid  pamelapaul 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Drawing Guns | Seth W.
"There are so many people writing about social media, sports, technology, and politics. But we’re all doing it while sitting behind our laptops. In coffee shops. In comfortable chairs. There is no danger. No risk. Write a post about the latest Apple product or upset win, add some keywords and a SEO-juiced headline and you’ll get traffic.

It’s a formula. There’s a map. It’s easy.

To get the story above, however, I had to live out of a bag. I quit my day job. I endured overnight bus rides, and slept on lots of couches.

More danger makes for better stories."
storytelling  hard  blogging  blogs  exploration  adventure  experience  2012  uncharted  learning  risktaking  risk  danfer  sethwerkheiser 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Eyeo2012 - Zach Lieberman on Vimeo
"Unexpected — Live Performance, Technology and the Risk of Something (or Everything) Going Wrong. ie, Learning to Love Chance."

"A world without heartbreak is a world without heart."

Don't miss the poem at the end about failure (full text here: https://github.com/ofZach/eyeo_2012_remarks/ ]:

"What can go wrong? …

… this is a love letter to those who are on the frontlines, and if you are not on the frontlines, an invitation to join us. What I say to students is the world is hungry for ideas. We need you. …

and so I say: go. press play. compile. turn on the power, turn off the lights, turn on the lights, open the curtain, open the doors, start the show, invite people, post the video, send the link, push the code to git, hit save, hit run, run with it. go with it. go.

what is the worst that can happen?

a world without heartbreak is a world without heart. all we need to do is keep pushing, and we'll get there."

[See also: http://thesystemis.com/ ]
risktaking  thezone  inthezone  zones  via:jenlowe  hillmancurtis  andycameron  openframeworks  electronics  heartbreak  happiness  life  human  golanlevin  versionitis  risk  love  technology  design  art  failure  eyeo  eyeo2012  2012  zachlieberman 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Charlie Kaufman: Screenwriters Lecture | BAFTA Guru
"we try to be experts because we’re scared; we don’t want to feel foolish or worthless; we want power because power is a great disguise."

"Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that in the end selling is what everyone must do. Try not to."

"This is from E. E. Cummings: ‘To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.’ The world needs you. It doesn’t need you at a party having read a book about how to appear smart at parties – these books exist, and they’re tempting – but resist falling into that trap. The world needs you at the party starting real conversations, saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and being kind."

[Giving up, too much to quote.]
danger  risktaking  risk  failure  simplification  fear  fearmongering  materialism  consumerism  culture  marketing  humannature  character  bullying  cv  meaningmaking  meaning  filmmaking  creating  creativity  dreaming  dreams  judgement  assessment  interpretation  religion  fanaticism  johngarvey  deschooling  unschooling  unlearning  relearning  perpetualchange  change  flux  insight  manifestos  art  truth  haroldpinter  paradox  uncertainty  certainty  wonder  bullies  intentions  salesmanship  corporatism  corporations  politics  humans  communication  procrastination  timeusage  wisdom  philosophy  ignorance  knowing  learning  life  time  adamresnick  human  transparency  vulnerability  honesty  loneliness  emptiness  capitalism  relationships  manipulation  distraction  kindness  howwework  howwethink  knowledge  specialists  attention  media  purpose  bafta  film  storytelling  writing  screenwriting  charliekaufman  self  eecummings  2011  canon 
august 2012 by robertogreco
10 things parents should unlearn… « What Ed Said
"10 things I think (some) parents should unlearn…

1.  Learning is best measured by a letter or a number.

2. Product is more important than process and progress.

3. Children need to be protected from any kind of failure.

4. The internet  is dangerous for children.

5. Parents and teachers should discuss students without the learner present.

6. Homework is an essential part of learning.

7. The school is responsible for the child’s entire education.

8. Your child’s perspective is the only one.

9. Learning looks the same as when you went to school.

10. Focus on (and fix) your child’s shortcomings, rather than their successes."
unlearning  parenting  unschooling  deschooling  2012  ednasackson  process  processoverproduct  tcsnmy  learning  assessment  testing  standards  standardization  responsibility  education  cv  teaching  studentdirected  students  failure  risk  risktaking  howwelearn  howweteach  schools  lcproject 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Transom » Jad Abumrad
"For some reason, at the beginning, every decision DID feel like life or death… There was a kind of existential dread that hung over the entire endeavor…"

"I used to talk about this period as a time of “benign neglect,” when WNYC was kind enough to leave me alone to suck (because that’s what I needed, a space to be bad without anyone listening)… It wasn’t benign. There was genuine terror involved."

"My own philosophy on storytelling is that people don't want to be told how to feel but they do want to be told what to pay attention to. One of the most basic ways to do this when you're telling a story is to use what's sometimes called a "pointing arrow," or signposting."

"Get comfortable with the idea that you won’t know what’s good until it’s already happened."

"All those people yelling at you? That just means you’re on the right track; that you’re doing your job."

"We’ve decided that the best way to reimagine yourself is to collaborate promiscuously."
storytelling  attention  cv  experimentation  change  growth  collaboration  howwework  interviews  2012  haters  risktaking  creativity  radiolab 
july 2012 by robertogreco
kung fu grippe • The trick to fostering collective creativity,...
“The trick to fostering collective creativity, Catmull says, is threefold: Place the creative authority for product development firmly in the hands of the project leaders (as opposed to corporate executives); build a culture and processes that encourage people to share their work-in-progress and support one another as peers; and dismantle the natural barriers that divide disciplines.”
administration  management  leadership  tcsnmy  cv  sharing  risktaking  peer-assessment  2008  teamwork  authority  hierarchy  creativity  pixar 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Resiliency, Risk, and a Good Compass: Tools for the Coming Chaos | Wired Business | Wired.com
"There are nine or so principles to work in a world like this:

1. Resilience instead of strength, which means you want to yield and allow failure and you bounce back instead of trying to resist failure.
2. You pull instead of push. That means you pull the resources from the network as you need them, as opposed to centrally stocking them and controlling them.
3. You want to take risk instead of focusing on safety.
4. You want to focus on the system instead of objects.
5. You want to have good compasses not maps.
6. You want to work on practice instead of theory. Because sometimes you don’t why it works, but what is important is that it is working, not that you have some theory around it.
7. It disobedience instead of compliance. You don’t get a Nobel Prize for doing what you are told. Too much of school is about obedience, we should really be celebrating disobedience.
8. It’s the crowd instead of experts.
9. It’s a focus on learning instead of education."
onthecheap  innovation  startups  collaboration  change  work  mapping  maps  compass  adaptability  howwework  cv  failure  systemsawareness  systemsthinking  systems  crowdsourcing  crowds  experts  disobedience  compliance  theory  practice  education  deschooling  hierarchy  control  unschooling  objects  tcsnmy  safety  pull  push  resiliency  2012  joiito  risktaking  risk  resilience  networks  learning 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Keynote by Sumana Harihareswara - Open Source Bridge wiki
“It can be pretty tough to decide that free is better than safe.”

"When you do outreach, help these kids fight their parents. And of course that's a bit strong -- we don't actually want fights. We want to help kids persuade their parents that we're legit and that this hobby is worthwhile."

"Providing random low-key social time is important ... and it's worthwhile to work towards diversity in the participants, so that girl can tell her mom, yes, there will be other girls there.”

“Empowerment is like turtles, it goes all the way down.”

“maybe you can start by giving them a tiny, tiny task that they can start with. That first free taste. Manager time versus maker time…”

“I'm asking you for the kind of hospitality that my parents showed new arrivals, sometimes on zero notice.”

"[T]his work of hospitality, of disciplined empathy, is how we get to a more perfect union."
hobbies  wikipedia  meaningmaking  meaning  permission  soacesofpermission  socialtime  low-keysocialtime  openstudio  cv  empowerment  risktaking  risk  safety  safe  society  deschooling  unschooling  freedom  gender  girls  culture  hospitality  makertime  2012  community  welcome  empathy  teaching  opensource  learning  sumanaharihareswara  makerstime  makersschedule 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Able Parris - Moments: Ten Year Anniversary
"Below are some thoughts (in no particular order) on relationships and life in general:

Health is a luxury.
Enjoying life doesn’t require money.
You don’t have to own the house to dance naked in it.
Marry your best friend.
Treat every day special.
Be patient and listen.
Get rid of your television.
Make time for yourself, each of you.
Make time for your own friendships.
Take risks together.
Question everything.
It’s not easy to disagree with crowds, but you must think for yourself.
Photograph (or draw) everything.
Travel as much as possible.
Claim the mundane.
Listen more than you speak.
Music."
money  ownership  friendship  travel  companionship  risktaking  mundane  patience  listening  wisdom  life  time  health  relationships  2012  ableparris  marriage 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Realizing Empathy: An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making by Slim — Kickstarter
"At the heart of it is an inquiry into the meaning of making. I am deeply interested in how making works (as a process), what it means (to make something), and why it matters (to our lives).

One of the central theme is the relationship between the act of empathizing with the act of making…

The second theme is exploring how we can design a space that facilitates the act of making, especially in the digital space…

The book is structured around a number of stories that talk about the humbling experiences I've had in art school. These are experiences that have lead to epiphanies, which changed my understanding of what it means to make something.

In response to these experiences are conversations I've had with an interdisciplinary group of friends (an animator, a programmer, a neuroscientist, a human-computer interaction researcher, and a theologian) about these epiphanies.

Weaving together the stories and conversations are both reflective and analytic essays that model…"
integrity  honesty  acting  knowledge  workspace  space  metaphors  trust  courage  comfort  computers  computing  safety  technology  seungchanlim  perspective  risktaking  risk  dignity  humility  meaningmaking  meaning  scale_slim  tools  howwework  openstudioproject  making  empathy  design  2012  language  workspaces 
february 2012 by robertogreco
nickd: Whatever's next; whatever's good.
"I like dabbling in small projects with good people, and I like making tiny amounts of money so I can eat burritos in a city with a comically low cost of living."

"I always keep an open mind about any sort of projects that involve some degree of research, play, and curiosity. So if you want to plan anything off-the-wall funny or pranksterish, then get at me. I love outlandish, ridiculous projects. Let’s scheme together."

"I would like to make cool things with good people. Maybe you’re one of these good people. And maybe you know other good people, too. I’m in a rare inflection point in my life where I don’t have to juggle competing priorities to take on new stuff. I would love if you got in touch (nickd//nickd/org or @nickd), and spread this far and wide. I am a little scared these days, but things are really only worth doing if they’re scary, so I figure I must be at least a little right."
focus  makingtime  projects  projectideas  curiosity  risktaking  time  leapsoffaith  design  yearoff  glvo  freelance  doing  making  play  quitting  2012  nickdisabato 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Future Perfect » Imperialist Tendencies
"There are a number of misconceptions about consumers in highly income/resource constrained (poor) communities that seem to repeat themselves with a depressing regularity and is often directed from passionate minds with a particular, accusatory venom:

» Consumers on low levels of income are incapable of making rational or “right” choices for themselves
» These same consumers are duty bound only to make rational choices (“rational” as in on things that have an immediate benefit to their current socio-economic situation, as defined by the person making the argument)
» Any time a consumer makes an “irrational” choice the “fault” lies with the company providing the products
» Companies that target consumers in countries with very low levels of income are inherently evil"

"Far, far more interesting are people who peel themselves away from their screens, get off their butt, and put something of themselves on the line in order to change the world out there."
participatorydesign  critique  risktaking  doing  intellectualproperty  capitalism  codesign  ethnography  poptech  2012  2011  janchipchase  designimperialism  globalization  design 
january 2012 by robertogreco
MAKE | Zen and the Art of Making
"Some of the most talented and prolific people I know have dozens of interests and hobbies. When I ask them about this, the response is usually something like “I love to learn.” I think the new discoveries and joys of learning are the crux of this beginner thing I’ve been thinking about. Sure, when you’ve mastered something it’s valuable, but then part of your journey is over — you’ve arrived, and the trick is to find something you’ll always have a sense of wonder about. I think this is why scientists and artists, who are usually experts, love what they do: there is always something new ahead. It’s possible to be an expert but still retain the mind of a beginner. It’s hard, but the best experts can do it. In making things, in art, in science, in engineering, you can always be a beginner about something you’re doing — the fields are too vast to know it all."
philliptorrone  making  learning  unschooling  curiosity  education  experts  generalists  creativegeneralists  2011  zen  knowledge  expertise  lewiscarroll  makers  electronics  art  artists  science  scientists  tinkering  tinkerers  lifelonglearning  deschooling  mindset  beginners  invention  arduino  fear  risktaking  riskaversion  teaching  lcproject  failure  stasis  yearoff  openminded  children  interestedness  specialists  motivation  intrinsicmotivation  exploration  internet  web  online  constraints  specialization  interested  beginner'smind 
november 2011 by robertogreco
The 1% are the very best destroyers of wealth the world has ever seen | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Our common treasury in the last 30 years has been captured by industrial psychopaths. That's why we're nearly bankrupt."

"In their book Snakes in Suits, Paul Babiak and Robert Hare point out that as the old corporate bureaucracies have been replaced by flexible, ever-changing structures, and as team players are deemed less valuable than competitive risk-takers, psychopathic traits are more likely to be selected and rewarded. Reading their work, it seems to me that if you have psychopathic tendencies and are born to a poor family, you're likely to go to prison. If you have psychopathic tendencies and are born to a rich family, you're likely to go to business school.

This is not to suggest that all executives are psychopaths. It is to suggest that the economy has been rewarding the wrong skills."
economics  economy  politics  inequality  wealth  occupywallstreet  georgemonbiot  uk  neoliberalism  psychopathy  risktaking  rewards  2011 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Will Dropouts Save America? - NYTimes.com
"Classroom skills may put you at an advantage in the formal market, but in the informal market, street-smart skills and real-world networking are infinitely more important.

Yet our children grow up amid an echo chamber of voices telling them to get good grades, do well on their SATs, and spend an average of $45,000 on tuition — after accounting for scholarships — while taking on $23,000 in debt to get a private four-year college education."
entrepreneurship  dropouts  2011  business  education  unschooling  deschooling  startups  psychology  careers  highered  highereducation  michaelellsberg  networking  mentoring  learning  schooliness  schooling  failure  risktaking  jobs  work  grades  grading  standardizedtesting 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Startup School 2011- Ashton Kutcher - YouTube
"People who genuinely want to solve a problem, a real problem, a problem that exists not just for themselves, but sometimes just for themselves and then it turns into a wave effect that solves other people's problems. Sometimes by solving your own problems. Generally, if you want to affect the world, you have to change yourself first…making uncomfortable choices…taking that risk…doing this thing that nobody else is doing."

"It's not about being like somebody else. It's not about the billion dollars. It's about how you can affect other people's lives — enrich them, improve them — how you can eliminate the space between people, how you can eliminate pain and friction."

"If you want to be a real entrepreneur, you have to be the cause, you have to be the creator of someone else's new reality, which eliminates time, space, motion, friction…"

Tells story about Carl Fisher: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_G._Fisher ]
ashtonkutcher  purpose  vision  problemsolving  dropouts  entrepreneurship  2011  startupschool2011  via:monikahardy  risktaking  lcproject  carlfisher  marketing  change  passion  focus 
october 2011 by robertogreco
43f Podcast: John Gruber & Merlin Mann's Blogging Panel at SxSW | 43 Folders
"My pal, John Gruber (from daringfireball.net), and I presented a talk at South by Southwest Interactive on Saturday, March 14th. We talked about building a blog you can be proud of, trying to improve the quality of your work, reaching the people you admire, and maybe even making a buck (in a way that doesn’t blow your deal). Here’s what we had to say:"
art  writing  creativity  business  media  blogging  delight  obsessiveness  obsession  passion  2009  sxsw  adamlisagor  purpose  risktaking  trying  making  doing  web  online  internet  twitter  credibility  favar  howwework  audience  idealreader 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Jad Abumrad, Radiolab’s ‘genius’ storyteller, on what public radio needs now: ‘more joy, more chaos’ » Nieman Journalism Lab
How do you hang on to a successful formula while also trying to break free from it?

“I think about Stefan Sagmeister,” the Austrian graphic designer, “who every six years, I think it is, seven years, he just quits his life and moves to some distant spot on the globe and just throws himself into some new art and comes back, refreshed. I think to myself, how can I do that without actually leaving?” he said.

“It’s also going to be about, frankly, it’s going to be about sucking, you know? The only way to really loosen the reins a little bit is to say to yourself, ‘Let’s do an experiment that makes me actually deeply nervous, because it could be bad.’ I’m prepared to suck for awhile.”…

“It needs more joy. It needs more chaos. It needs more anarchy. And it needs more moods. The range of human experiences is covered and reported about on NPR, but it’s not reflected in the tone, and it’s not reflected in the style…"
radiolab  radio  npr  jadabumrad  2011  stefansagmeister  sabbaticals  cv  risktaking  sucking  chaos  anarchy  messiness  work  disruption  thisamericanlife  iraglass  anarchism 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Thoughts on leadership - IBM100 THINK Forum - Joi Ito's Web
"Leadership today is about empowering those around you share your vision, embrace serendipity, have the courage to take risks and learn from failure rather than be crushed by it. Diversity must be embraced and organizational borders made porous. Assets such as intellectual property and lines of software code must not prevent aggressive agility. Organizations must be willing and able to pivot away from attachment to such assets lest these assets become liabilities holding back innovation and progress.

In this new world, leaders must be courageous, visionary and comfortable in an environment where control and complete knowledge are impossible and their pursuit futile and counterproductive."
joiito  leadership  flexibility  organizations  management  administration  tcsnmy  ip  intellectualproperty  agility  vision  risktaking  failure  innovation  progress  2011  attachment  courage  porous  iteration  planning  unpredictability  uncertainty 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Thoughts on leadership - IBM100 THINK Forum - Joi Ito's Web
"Leadership today is about empowering those around you share your vision, embrace serendipity, have the courage to take risks and learn from failure rather than be crushed by it. Diversity must be embraced and organizational borders made porous. Assets such as intellectual property and lines of software code must not prevent aggressive agility. Organizations must be willing and able to pivot away from attachment to such assets lest these assets become liabilities holding back innovation and progress.

In this new world, leaders must be courageous, visionary and comfortable in an environment where control and complete knowledge are impossible and their pursuit futile and counterproductive."
joiito  leadership  flexibility  organizations  management  administration  tcsnmy  ip  intellectualproperty  agility  vision  risktaking  failure  innovation  progress  2011  attachment  courage  porous  iteration  planning  unpredictability  uncertainty 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Bassett Blog, 2011/09: Insights from the College Front [Bassett gets it right, but seems to take credit for ideas that predate him & are contrary to some of what he pushed during his first many years at NAIS.]
"The university leaders also confirmed…that 30–40% of the undergrads on anti-depressants, and 10% of girls suffered from eating disorders. While the university leaders were quick to point out that their universities were mirroring national data, it is particularly interesting to me that the students at these colleges had already “won the lottery” by matriculating at places that were nearly impossible to get into for mere mortals, and yet so many were still stressed beyond belief and needing medication (prescribed or, probably in much larger numbers, self-medicating — see the next bullet point).

Footnote to “success-driven parents and college counselors”: beware what you wish for: What we actually do well is place students in the “best match” college, where they will be successful and can pursue interests that will keep them engaged and balanced."

[Also covered: alcohol abuse, demonstrations of learning / digital portfolios, foreign language requirements…]
patbassett  2011  criticalthinking  creativity  communication  admissions  highereducation  highered  collegeadmissions  technology  collaboration  character  antidepressants  students  parenting  education  stress  schools  learning  policy  balance  society  competition  digitalportfolios  nais  alcohol  demonstrationsoflearning  resilience  risktaking  foreignlanguage  languages  fluency  testing  standardizedtesting  self-medication  eatingdisorders  socialnorming 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Steve Jobs and the Rewards of Risk-Taking - NYTimes.com
"The academics identify five traits that are common to the disruptive innovators: questioning, experimenting, observing, associating and networking. Their bundle of characteristics echoes the ceaseless curiosity and willingness to take risks noted by other experts. Networking, Mr. Gregersen explains, is less about career-building relationships than a search for new ideas. Associating, he adds, is the ability to make idea-producing connections by linking concepts from different disciplines — intellectual mash-ups."
questioning  experimenting  experimentation  observation  observing  association  associating  networking  curiosity  disruptiveinnovation  stevejobs  2011  risktaking  tcsnmy  ideas  mashups  mashup  interdisciplinary  generalists  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  halgregersen 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Steve Jobs Insult Response - YouTube
"guy: "Mr. Jobs, you're a bright and influential man."

steve: "Here it comes."

guy: "It's sad and clear that add several counts you've discussed that you don't know what you're talking about.

(pause)

guy: "I would like, for example, for you to express in clear terms how say Java and any of its incarnations addresses the ideas embodied in OpenDOC. And when you're finished with that, perhaps you can tell us what you personally have been doing for the past 7 years""
stevejobs  change  gamechanging  business  decisionmaking  decisions  1997  risktaking  mistakes  customerexperience  backwards  apple  insults  humility  cohesion  bigpicture  focus 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Finding the Courage to Work for Change « Cooperative Catalyst
"I make a decent, middle-class salary as a college professor, healthcare costs are reasonable (in part because I don’t have children), and there is a pension plan for my future (assuming it does not go bankrupt!). While I do live rather frugally and have a good start on my own retirement savings, I just can’t seem to muster up the courage of potentially stepping away from all that. What if I quit my job to start a school and it goes kaput?"<br />
<br />
[Some good comments with pointers to other posts.]
entrepreneurship  socialentrepreneurship  startups  fear  security  aero  education  unschooling  deschooling  risktaking  honesty  kristanmorrison  alternativeeducation  teaching  cv  democraticschools  2011 
august 2011 by robertogreco
OLPC: The Beauty of Failure - Adaptive Path [via: http://berglondon.com/blog/2011/08/19/friday-links-10/ ]
"OLPC was a failure - but don’t products fail all the time?

In light of all the discourse on the shortcomings of the product, there seems to be little said on the things that OLPC accomplished that were interesting…Most of all, I believe OLPC at heart had a virtuous Buddha nature. It was created on the belief that people can improve their lives with technology & the desire to increase access to technology throughout the world.

Failure is part of the creative process & yet when we scathe each other on our individual failings, we make it difficult for people in our industry to take the creative risks necessary to push design & technology forward…

If we head for the ash heap of history, there are countless examples of failures that were necessary in order to realize a dream in the areas of science, transportation & technology…Perhaps like Apple Newton & Wright Brother’s early flyers, OLPC will be remembered as one of the colossal failures necessary to bridge the digital divide."
olpc  failure  technology  digitaldivide  risktaking  nicholasnegroponte  unschooling  technologicalleaps  progress  deschooling  learning 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Makin' Ads: 5 Rules from Wieden + Kennedy
"Act Stupid. "Our philosophy is to come in ignorant every day. The idea of retaining ignorance is sort of counterintuitive, but it subverts a lot of [problems] that come from absolute mastery. If you think you know the answer better than somebody else does, you become closed to being fresh."

Shut up. "The first thing we do when we meet with clients is listen. We try to figure out what their problems are. Then we come back with questions, not solutions. We write these out and put them on the wall. And then we circle the ones that we think are interesting. More often than not, the questions hold the answer."

Always say yes…

Chase Talent. "Find people who make you better. It's best to be the least talented person in the room. It's reciprocal. It challenges you to keep up."

Be Fearless. "Do anything, say anything. 'You're not useful to me until you've made three momentous mistakes.'…if you try not to make mistakes, you miss out on the value of learning from them."
advertising  rules  wk  wieden+kennedy  innovation  learning  danwieden  davidkennedy  ignorance  curiosity  listening  openminded  classideas  jellyhelm  optimism  failure  risktaking  mistakes 
august 2011 by robertogreco
danah boyd | apophenia » The Unintended Consequences of Obsessing Over Consequences (or why to support youth risk-taking) ["As I get older, I’m painfully aware of my brain getting more ‘conservative’ (not in a political sense)."]
"I’m worried about our societal assumption that risk-taking without thinking of the consequences is an inherently bad thing. We need some radical thinking to solve many of the world’s biggest problems. And I don’t believe that it’s so easy to separate out what adults perceive as ‘good’ risk-taking from what they think is ‘bad’ risk-taking. But how many brilliant minds will we destroy by punishing their radical acts of defying authority? How many brilliant minds will we destroy by punishing them for ‘being stupid’? It’s easy to get caught up in a binary of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ when all that you can think about is the consequences. But change has never happened when people simply play by the rules. You have to break the rules to create a better society. And I don’t think that it’s easy to do this when you’re always thinking about the consequences of your actions."
teens  creativity  youth  danahboyd  unintendedconsequences  risktaking  risk  learning  innovation  rulebreaking  rules  rulefollowing  adolescence  brain  conservatism  radicalism  anarchism  2011  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  divergentthinking  criticalthinking  problemsolving  tcsnmy  parenting  schools  education  consequences  mindset  age  aging 
july 2011 by robertogreco
metacool: Björgvin Tómasson's Gameleste
"when trying to bring something new to life, you will be faced w/ many challenges. Friends will question your vision, lawyers will come up w/ a million reasons why you shouldn't do what you want to do, & money people will demand the right to dig up your precious little seed of an idea each day to ensure it's growing (they have to be sure to get their full money's worth, you know).

In response, just start. Plunge in. Create. Excessive talking & planning is a sign that you are stuck in an emotional-intellectual mire of your own making. That mire gets its power from our fear of the unknown. In order to break its grip, you need to start - anywhere. It's hard to break out of, for sure. But we can all do it. How did Björgvin Tómasson manage to figure out what a gameleste would be like when it did not exist? By starting, by making it. & now we all also know what a gameleste is all about, for the person who acts not only brings a new thing to life, but brings all of us along, too."
starting  doing  making  glvo  yearoff  yearoff2  lcproject  diegorodriguez  cv  björgvintómasson  björk  music  musicalinstruments  invention  creativity  creation  entrepreneurship  biophilia  gamelan  celeste  gameleste  persistence  naysayers  tcsnmy  failure  risk  risktaking 
july 2011 by robertogreco
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