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(Self-Directed) Education is a Political Act | Alliance for Self-Directed Education
“With that said, I created the following diagram as a visual aid to help understand the many various SDE methods at work, how they generally are similar and different, how their sense of “freedom” is ideologically politicized, and how they are allied as trust based models in contrast with fear based counterparts in the top section of the diagram. This diagram seeks not to pigeonhole any one model into a political ideology but rather to provide a broad understanding of where each model lies on a spectrum of definitions and methodologies of “freedom” and education as a political act.

[image: “A chart showing fear based and trust based models of education"]

Since freedom is rooted and established in trust, the act of stripping away that freedom starts with fear and control. Therefore, I have simply distinguished these two overarching philosophies into “Fear Based” and “Trust Based” categories. The fear based models of education are out of scope for this article (for more on that, start with this excellent article). However, I want to briefly touch upon why “Democratic Schools” are listed under this category. Note that “Free Schools” are listed under the trust based model; while most Free Schools are also democratic, it is possible to have democratic decision-making in fear based schools (e.g. “Vote on whether we’re studying the Nile or the Pyramids first…”) This distinction is not always clear and earlier in my research caused me a lot of confusion, especially in my travels to Europe where I learned that visiting a “democratic” school did not necessarily mean I could expect the school to be self-directed as well. It is also important to note that often (but not always) this did not mean the educators there were not interested in SDE. Rather, they were often working constrained by laws that make SDE illegal in countries like Greece, Turkey and Germany. Meanwhile, in the United States the adoption of democratic education within conventional schools can also be seen in classroom meeting trends and in the work of organizations like the Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA).

On the “trust based” side of the diagram, most notable might be that I have placed unschooling under all three political ideologies. Unschooling is certainly the most difficult SDE methodology to pin down, since it is practiced for so many different reasons and in so many different ways. I broke it down into three general sub-groups:

- Self-Governed Unschoolers under the Libertarian label are generally those unschoolers looking for independence from institutionalization. These are families who are focused on the liberation of their learners. While they might be a part of some collective or taking classes in various places, ultimately their focus is their own freedom and learning, not the welfare of any collective or group they may temporarily be a part of.

- Decolonizing Unschoolers is best described by Zakiyya Ismail, who simply wrote, “It is about stepping out of an oppressive system and into a liberatory one.”20 For these unschoolers, this is not just about independence of one’s own learning; it is also about dismantling the oppressive system of conventional schooling in order to create an equitable world, and so, this model fits well under the Anarchism label.

- Communal Unschoolers is admittedly a term I made up for clarification and distinction in this diagram. However, this is a very real type of unschooling, a type that I run across often in my own work with unschoolers. Communal Unschoolers are families who unschool as a collective in order to make it possible to do so for each individual family. There’s a reliance on each other and a buy-in in order for each learner to be able to unschool. Therefore, this model fits best under the label of Socialism.

As for schools and centers, I’ve placed Sudbury Schools and Liberated Learners under the Libertarian umbrella. Liberated Learners are listed here for the same previously mentioned reason that Self-Governed Unschoolers are in this category. And while Sudbury Schools are communities, their standard of no adult offerings and policy of barring parent involvement align with the notion of learning based primarily on the individual’s needs. Their School Meeting and Judicial Committee structures reflect the Libertarian idea that governance is necessary but should be made as small as is necessary to maintain autonomy.

I have listed Free Schools and Summerhill on the other end of the spectrum, under the Socialist label. While individual freedom is certainly valued highly in these schools, Summerhill and Free Schools generally emphasize being a collective reliant on communal equity. In contrast to Sudbury Schools, these schools generally have communal offerings (or classes in the case of Summerhill) and often rely on parent involvement in the community (or the adult “House Parents” and older youth “Beddies” who foster a sense of “family” at Summerhill, which is a boarding school). There is a real sense that a culture needs to be developed for a healthy learning atmosphere to thrive (much like the nineteenth century SDE Swiss educational reformer Johann Pestalozzi’s premise that an “emotionally secure environment” needs to be present for “successful learning” to take place).

Judith Suissa compares Summerhill to the third category listed in the diagram, anarchism, when she writes, “What Neill was really after was an appreciation of freedom for its own sake– a far cry from the social anarchists, who viewed freedom… as an inherent aspect of creating a society based on mutual aid, socio-economic equality and cooperation.”22 From this reasoning, I have placed in the anarchistic category Agile Learning Centers, as well as the more obvious Free Skools and Modern Schools (which directly declare/d themselves anarchistic). Agile Learning Centers were a direct reaction to the Free School model, retooling and reframing Free School practices for meetings, conflict resolution, and so on. These consent driven structures and nonhierarchical systems align with anarchist ideologies. Additionally, the ALC Network’s intentional dedication to social justice and equity separate it from the other SDE models and also fall under the definition of anarchistic values.

With all of this said, it is important to remember that each individual and each center is different, and that such diagrams are only useful as a general guide to understanding the methodologies. At the same time, this comparison of SDE models to political ideologies is also an important reminder that, while one does not need to support radical politics to believe in SDE, a young person practicing Self-Directed Education will experience radical freedom and trust based ideologies, and those experiences will influence the development of their framing of the world. The same is also true of children being raised in conventional fear based environments, different as the politically ideological implications may themselves be.

Articulating these SDE model differences while holding as foundational their trust based alliance is a practice intended to establish a greater bond. With this understanding, all of us in this world of Self-Directed Education can learn more from one another. During this time period where partisanship is dividing humanity so severely, it is important to remember our similarities and to remember that all individuals, regardless of political beliefs or educational beliefs or any other beliefs that diversify humanity, all deserve to be approached with respect and kindness. I am proud to be in alliance with other members of this trust based Self-Directed Education movement, and I celebrate our many flavors and methods.”
alexanderkhost  via:derek  2020  politics  self-directed  self-directedlearning  freeschools  summerhill  sudbury  sudburyschools  education  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  anarchism  anarchy  socialism  individualism  society  radicalism  children  modernschools  autonomy  mutualaid  freedom  liberation  community  communities  progressive  sfsh  lcproject  tcsnmy  libertarianism  doctrine  authority  authoritarianism  conservatism  moderatism  moderation  permissiveness  liberalism  publicschools  conventionalschools  agilelearningcenters  waldorf  waldorfschools  montessori  montessorischools  charterschools  trust  fear  parenting  schooliness  indoctrination  judithsuissa  asneill 
10 days ago by robertogreco
Pedagogy, Otherwise: the Reader | Ecoversities
https://ecoversities.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Pedagogy-Otherwise-Reader.pdf
https://www.are.na/block/5983033

“Pedagogy, Otherwise: the Reader was assembled in the context of /and in conversation with the Eco-versities Alliance, a trans-local community of learning practitioners from around the world committed to cultivate and reclaim knowledges, relationships and imaginations. Most of the texts appeared originally in the series Pedagogy, Otherwise, as part of the line of inquiry Learning, Education and Pedagogy on ArtsEverywhere.ca, an online platform for artistic experimentation and exploration of the fault lines of modernity.

Editor Alessandra Pomarico, member of the Ecoversities Alliance and publication group, hoped through this compilaion, to give voice to “a wide range of perspectives, explore a diversity of ways of knowing, attempting to decolonize the structure of education, contesting universal dominant frames, and focusing on pedagogy as politics. Artistic perspectives, convivial/militant research, theoretical discourses, as well as praxis of both affects and cognition, embodied and land-based practices – these are some of the tools and processes through which we witness today how learning communities are unfolding in different contexts, reclaiming autonomous yet interconnected zones of knowledge, even in the most diring geopolitical conditions”.”
via:todrobbins  ecoversities  unschooling  deschooling  education  community  learning  communities  lcproject  openstudioproject  altgdp  alternative  schools  schooling  experientiallearning  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  decolonization  emplacement  place  solidarity  inquiry  emergence  emergentcurriculum  knowledge  unlearning  howwelearn  howweteach  culture  intercultural  ecology  consciousness 
29 days ago by robertogreco
Ecoversities | reclaiming knowledges, relationships and imaginations
"ecoversities: learners and communities reclaiming diverse knowledges, relationships and imaginations to design new approaches to higher education.

RE-CONNECTING

RE-IMAGINING

RE-GENERATING

What might the university look like if it were at the service of our diverse ecologies, cultures, economies, spiritualities and Life within our planetary home?

our vision

The Ecoversities Alliance is committed to radically re-imagining higher education to cultivate human and ecological flourishing. Ecoversities seek to transform the unsustainable and unjust economic, political and social systems/mindsets that dominate the planet.

our hope

Supporting learners and communities around the world to reclaim their own processes of un/learning, knowledge co-creation and sharing, and community building.

Inspiring, nourishing, connecting and giving visibility to diverse eco-versities initiatives around the world.

Building solidarities, collective inquiries, inter-cultural dialogue and new experiments in higher education.

Nurturing an ecology of knowledges, radical pedagogies and learning commons which expands human consciousness and cultural and ecological regeneration.
our actions

The Ecoversities Alliance is a trans-local community of over 100 transformative learning spaces from around the world who have been meeting and working together since 2015 through international and regional gatherings, learning exchanges, campaigns, workshops, learning journeys, film festivals and publications.

our values and orientations:

Emergence
An invitation to the unknown, allowing diverse ways of being, knowing, doing, relating to emerge.

Inquiry in Solidarity
An invitation to be authentic and critically engaged with co-learners, whilst invoking self-reflection, kindness, and compassion to support others in their own inquiries and discoveries.

Experiential Learning
Learning with our senses, stories, spirits, hearts, hands, heads and homes in order to find ways we are interconnected, and entangled in each other’s struggles and dreams.

Emplacement
An invitation to reconnect with and learn from the land, the place and the non-human. To engage in and promote deep localization.

De-colonising
An invitation to address, explore and unlearn the dimensions of oppression, power, and privilege that are part of our own lives, relations, tools, structures, histories and beliefs.

Inter(trans)cultural Dialogue
An invitation to learn in-between cultures, epistemologies, cosmologies, and to learning ways we might not recognize or have experienced before. To learn from/ within/ beyond diversity.

ecoversities
Here you will find an ecosystem of communities and organizations that are re-imagining the idea of the university and the purpose of higher education."
via:todrobbins  education  unschooling  deschooling  community  learning  communities  lcproject  openstudioproject  altgdp  alternative  schools  schooling  experientiallearning  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  decolonization  emplacement  place  solidarity  inquiry  emergence  emergentcurriculum  knowledge  unlearning  howwelearn  howweteach  culture  intercultural  ecology  consciousness  ecoversities 
29 days ago by robertogreco
Prenda
“What is Prenda?

A completely new take on education

Prenda is a new kind of educational experience. We combine flexible learning environments, cutting edge techniques, human-centered technology, and passionate people to help children develop creativity, problem solving, and 21st century skills. Our mission is to empower learners. Sounds cliche? Think about what it means to be a learner. We think it’s two things: 1) a learner makes a choice to learn, and 2) a learner has the skills and habits to learn whatever they want. It’s a powerful way of interacting with the world, and we want to help every student hone this power. We take our mission and values seriously.

How does it work?

Prenda microschools are small groups (8-10 kids) meeting in a home, office, or studio. We’ve found a great blend of in-person interaction, personalized learning through technology, and passionate adults committed to guiding the learning experience. We are more concerned with the helping kids learn how to learn than we are with regurgitating information. We care more about growing into confident, empowered learners than we do about getting the answers right the first time. In our model, kids take responsibility for their own learning, unlock their potential, and see amazing results. Read more about how our learning model works here.

TALK TO A GUIDE

Where do adults come in?

We’re looking for passionate people who love learning and are committed to helping open doors for the kids in their community. Do you want to help us build the next generation of child education? Feel free to read more about how learning guides are critical to a Prenda class.

If you’re interested in helping us build a Prenda microschool, apply today so you can help us build the future!

APPLY AS A GUIDE

The Prenda Story

In 2013, Prenda founder Kelly Smith started volunteering at the public library, teaching kids computer programming. Watching the kids come to code club each week and work hard to build cool projects, he realized that 1) learning can be engaging and fun, and 2) the model worked better when the adult didn’t know how to code. Startled, he dove into researching education and landed on a new model of informal microschools.“
microschools  schools  education  arizona  phoenix  schooling 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Approaching The Elephant roams the chaotic halls of a free school
"The Teddy McArdle Free School in New Jersey doesn’t look, sound, or operate like most people’s idea of a school. There are no desks, no grades, no exams. The classes themselves are voluntary, with students urged to study what interests them most. (For many of the preteen attendees, that list includes working with power tools, making paper airplanes, and running wild through the halls.) Everything is decided upon as a group, from rules to curriculum to disciplinary measures, and the kids’ votes count as much as the adults’. All of this may sound like a recipe for disaster, but there is method to the madness: Like the more than 250 other free schools in the world, Teddy McArdle was built on a belief that education should be democratic, individual passions should be fostered, and children should have a say in their own upbringing. But there’s a big gulf separating a good idea in theory and a successful one in practice.

With Approaching The Elephant, director Amanda Rose Wilder documents the first full year at Teddy McArdle, following an inaugural class of about a dozen students and the patient instructors overseeing their veritable daylong free period. Shooting in “Academy Ratio” black-and-white, in the fly-on-the-wall observational mode of Frederick Wiseman, Wilder captures the bumps and grinds of this educational experiment—the randomly attended lessons, the conflict resolution, the vote sessions that often devolve into screaming matches. The footage, edited by Actress director Robert Greene, coheres into what feels like one long, chaotic school day. You can practically feel the pulse of grown-up veins, the fraying of last nerves.

In other words, those seeking a cogent argument in favor of the free school model won’t find it here. The filmmaking mirrors the non-interference policy of the program: In addition to employing no dates, no name tags, and no talking-head interviews, Wilder declines to include statistics, or really anything that would place Teddy McArdle in the context of other schools (beyond an opening block of text tracing the free school philosophy back to early-20th-century Barcelona). What we get instead is a portrait of the sheer difficulty in establishing a democratic organization, especially when its prospective practitioners are between 5 and 12 years old. The kids love the meetings, where they get to loudly voice their opinions, but their passion rarely seems to extend to the learning process. Part of the problem, in this case, is that most of the students come from more conventional classroom environments, and hence treat Teddy McArdle like little more than a blessed alternative—all recess, no homework. Some of them, like a young girl who hesitates to use a saw because her parents probably wouldn’t let her, seem too indoctrinated by authority to embrace the guiding principles.

“Characters” gradually emerge before Wilder’s camera, the kids revealing themselves as troublemakers or team players, suited to the program or decidedly not. But it’s an adult personality that comes into sharpest focus: Alexander Khost, the school’s founder, bristles under the pressure of monitoring (without controlling) an unruly student body; the ideals of Teddy McArdle often seem in direct conflict with the difficulty in realizing them. Does a firm belief that school should be an encouraging, not discouraging, institution outweigh the property damage some of the rowdier kids cause? How does one honor a system of absolute voting rights when the need to overrule a foolish decision presents itself? Khost believes in treating children as equals, but more often than not, he sinks to their level instead of bringing them up to his—especially late in the film, when the behavior of a delinquent student provokes this once-bullied mentor to throw a tantrum and launch an expulsion crusade. (As in the lightly fictionalized The Class, there’s the troubling suggestion that some kids will have to fail for the others to succeed.)

At one point, Khost openly admits that it will probably be two decades—enough time for these first few groups of students to grow up and enter the “real world”—before they’ll know if the Teddy McArdle methodology is a sound one. It’s hard not to wonder what a longer filming commitment, à la Hoop Dreams, might have revealed about the sustainability and value of free schools. But as a microcosmic study of democratic growing pains, Approaching The Elephant is both gripping and often dryly, shockingly hilarious. When Khost is forced to honor a call for meeting and humor debate as to whether jumping off school property is an unalienable right, the occasional absurdity of what he’s sanctioned becomes painfully clear. Wilder gets the same impression across a few minutes earlier, during a long shot of the head instructor chastising a young boy for striking him while another writes “fuck” on a chalkboard nearby… and misspells it to boot. At least one lesson gets imparted within the walls of Teddy McArdle: Get the kinks out before inviting a camera to film your venture."
aadowd  amandarosewilder  approachingtheelephant  2015  teddymcardlefreeschools  summerhill  freeschools  democraticschools  alexkhost  film  documentary  education  unschooling  schools  schooling  children 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Approaching the Elephant | A documentary film by Amanda Rose Wilder
“Year one at the Teddy McArdle Free School in Little Falls, New Jersey, where all classes are voluntary and rules are determined by vote. Wilder is there from the beginning to end of the school year, documenting and observing founder Alexander Khost, eleven-year-old Jiovanni, seven-year-old Lucy, along with an entire indelible cast of young personalities as they form relationships, explore their surroundings and intensely debate rule violations, until it all comes to a head. APPROACHING THE ELEPHANT is a vivid portrait of unfettered childhood and human relationships.”
amandarosewilder  approachingtheelephant  2015  teddymcardlefreeschools  summerhill  freeschools  democraticschools  alexkhost  film  documentary  education  unschooling  schools  schooling  children 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
True/False Diary 1: Approaching The Elephant, Demonstration, Sacro GRA | Filmmaker Magazine
"Halfway through, it’s too early to take the overall temperature of True/False 2014 in its 11th year (my fifth attending, each year with the hotel paid; full disclosure). All smooth so far, though it’s early going, so let’s forego atmospherics at this point and jump into one of the festival’s world premieres, Approaching The Elephant. (“Thanks for everyone being here for basically the highlight of my life,” director Amanda Rose Wilder said in her introduction.) The subject is “free schools”: further left on the continuum than Montessori, and (at least as practiced by the subject school’s founder Alex Khost) an exercise in allowing children to set the educational agenda so they can discover their own identities and regard/empathize others as distinct individuals in their own valuable right.

Khost started the Teddy McArdle Free School in Little Falls, NJ in 2007. In Approaching the Elephant, the nascent institution’s first year is ruthlessly edited into initially disorienting black-and-white shards of faces, hands and bodies in close-up destructive action by festival mascot/director Robert Greene (director of big-time premiere Actress, to be covered in my next post). The film approximates the subjective chaotic world of children given the rare freedom to figure out what they want to do (namely, rage) in an ambiguously structured environment. “There’s definitely a certain amount of ‘is this really working,’” Khost concedes in a rare adults-only chat moment, but concludes it’ll take 20 years to find out.

Kids screaming all sound the same at first; it takes time for the film to unveil the ethical duel taking place between two of them. Jiovanni’s a long-haired wild child, prone to standing in the hallway and disruptively blaring a saxophone for attention. He’s dangerously close to being a bully, and regular foil Lucy doesn’t like it, though she’s not sure where the lines of permissible behavior should be drawn. At one of the school’s administrative meetings (a proto city council gathering, with points of order and votes on the issues of the day), she first voices her opposition to any school rule that would outlaw violent games, then turns around and proposes a rule that saying “stop” requires that someone else stop their negative actions.

Jiovanni’s meandering attempts at playing the piano increasingly dominate the soundtrack, drowning out others as a neat way of demonstrating how his individual presence threatens to extinguish the group project. There’s a scene where, after being chewed out for essentially being a total jerk, he sullenly refuses to admit fault. It took me straight back to third grade; for former problem kids like me, I suspect it’ll be hard not to look at Jiovanni and guiltily admire his relentless free spirit instincts. His repeated disruptions lead another child to yell at him in a meeting for taking every chance he’s given and throwing it away, a speech that’s remarkably similar to an intervention meeting or adult speech canceling a friendship with a self-destructive person.

Approaching The Elephant‘s adolescents are smarter than 80% of the regulars at my local, but intelligence won’t save them; this is a democracy in inaction. The kids do learn to have meetings and lay down the law for themselves, but it’s a victory of attrition against a charistmatic negative force. “Why are you mean?” Lucy asks. “Because I’m bored,” says Giovanni with the candor of self-aware self-destroyers who know exactly who their enablers are. The film works as a parodic demonstration of a nascent democracy, as a portrait of feckless youth, and a study in how charismatic jerks abuse their leeway; it’s a multivalent winner, all the better for its deliberate, focused confinement to one space."
vadimrizov  amandarosewilder  approachingtheelephant  2015  teddymcardlefreeschools  summerhill  freeschools  democraticschools  alexkhost  film  documentary  education  unschooling  schools  schooling  children 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
“To Film Children in Ways You Don’t Usually See on Film”: Amanda Rose Wilder on Approaching the Elephant | Filmmaker Magazine
"A gripping, obsessively watchable observation of adolescent behavior set free, first time feature filmmaker Amanda Rose Wilder’s Approaching the Elephant finds its inspiration in the inaugural semester of New Jersey’s Teddy McArdle Free School. Following co-founder Alex Khost, a wide-eyed, determined optimist who dreams of (and gets his chance to) run a not-entirely-anarchistic Free School, the film immerses itself amongst the young children experiencing a drastically unfamiliar educational environment. Neither polemical condemnation nor evidence of its success, Wilder’s camera observes the “experiment’s” highs and lows, as school rules/punishments are democratically voted on by the students.

Lovingly photographed (post-converted to black-and-white) and framed in the 4X3 aspect ratio, Approaching the Elephant opens Friday as part of IFP’s Screen Forward series. I spoke with 2013 Independent Filmmaker Lab alum Wilder about her interest in Free Schools, her favorite scene in the film, and always remaining a watchful observer.

Filmmaker: As a first time feature filmmaker, you possess a striking assuredness in your work, and one that feels well versed in documentary history. Who are some of your cinematic influences?

Wilder: I have quite a few. When it comes to filmmakers, I have to cite the Maysles, the Dardennes, Frederick Wiseman, and John Cassavetes. Other detached snippets from filmmakers, such as a camera motion in a Glauber Rocha film or a short by Jerzy Skolimowski, are also influential. There are some strange things too, like Field of Dreams and Gene Wilder in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’m also inspired by poetry and short stories — specifically, for this film, by J.D. Salinger and Roald Dahl.

Filmmaker: The clarity of your images is quite invigorating. What camera did you use? What made you want to shoot in 4X3?

Wilder: The DVX100. It’s still a great camera, and I like how the 4×3 aspect ratio frames people’s bodies. Approaching the Elephant is very involved with people.

Filmmaker: The film opens by noting the history of the Free Schools movement and how they came to popularity. What was your way into the subject? Had you been wanting to observe a Free School in action? Or did The Teddy McArdle Free School specifically pique your interest?

Wilder: I’d visited Summerhill, the longest running free school, when I was ten. My dad is an elementary school teacher and wanted to see what it was like. It was an experience that stuck in my mind. Then I went to an alternative school, Marlboro College, where I switched my focus from poetry to documentary. After I graduated, my film professor, Jay Craven, a Vermont-based filmmaker and producer of Approaching the Elephant, asked if I wanted to make a film with him exploring alternative education. I said yes, and that summer I attended an education conference where I met Alex Khost, who was about to start Teddy McArdle 20 minutes from where my mom lives in New Jersey. Alex was a person I felt I wanted to follow, and I asked him if I could visit on their first day. He went back to those who were involved at the time, and they voted that I could. On the first day I met Lucy and Jiovanni, who were to become the two other main people in the film, and got the sense that this school was going to allow me to film children in ways you don’t usually see on film. I also felt strongly that, beyond any agenda, there was a story.

Filmmaker: The film features numerous seasonal activities that feel rightly commonplace at an elementary school, i.e. a garage sale, a talent show, etc. These events indicate the passing of time, the progression of a full school year. Was it always your intent to observe this “experiment” from the fall through the summer?

Wilder: Yes, while days flow together, there is a clear passage of time. It was less about executing a predetermined intent than letting my developing interests and the unfolding story guide what was filmed. Beginning on the first day of school and ending on the last made sense, story-wise.

Filmmaker: Stationed in the school’s parking lot, you employ numerous establishing shots of the school, a prominent white cross displayed on its roof. It doesn’t seep into the narrative necessarily, but your camera features consistent reminders that this is a religious institution first.

Wilder: Well, there’s humor there, that this radically alternative school was renting space from a church. It’s just one of those details you could never make up, or I couldn’t. I love the cross shots. I wouldn’t want to run too far with it, it’s great as just a visual, but you certainly could – is this a story of heaven or hell, which is which, inside the school or the world surrounding? etc. The reality is that many free schools are housed, at least at first, in churches because of the relatively low cost of rent.

Filmmaker: One particularly striking sequence features the kids in shop class, using sharp saws to cut wood and hammers to strike down nails. Your camera gets dangerously close to the action, and I cringed at the potential danger prevalent throughout. And yet you always refrain from getting involved and imposing onto their world. How quickly did the students grow comfortable with you? Did you have a large crew?

Wilder: Not at all. Recently whenever I’m at screenings, I stay until the end of this first woodworking scene you’re talking about and then leave. Honestly I am a little tickled by audiences’ gasps and exclamations. I know that at that point in the film people are hooked into the story and weighing what’s going on. At no time did I ever feel the kids were being unsafe with the woodworking tools. Mostly they were using coping saws, from which the worst you can get is a minor cut. Organized sports are probably more dangerous!

Maybe it’s something about the closeness and low angle of one of the shots in that scene that scares people. A big issue in the film is safety – a determinant that has so much to do with what children can and cannot do and how they live their lives. My acceptance at Teddy McArdle was immediate. This was a new and small group, and everyone was very open. Two factors that probably helped a lot were, 1) everyone was very engaged with what they were doing, and 2) I was a one-person crew, operating camera and sound.

Filmmaker: You often position your camera down the end of a school hallway, observing from afar the rambunctious, uninterrupted (and often unsupervised) activity of the students roaming about. The camera is the watchful eye that’s never acknowledged. Was this your intent?

Wilder: I think it’s more my personality than intent. I love to observe, to move an audience through a story by how I move the camera and then with the editing. Some filmmakers like to be in the foreground, which is fine, but that’s just a different kind of person than me.

Filmmaker: In many ways, the film is about the silent reactions of others. You continuously cut to the face of a student in the room who is not the focal point of the discussion, the most poignant example of this being one you showcase on the film’s official poster: Jiovanni stares off into the distance as his fellow classmates debate whether or not to expel him.

Wilder: Thanks! That’s a nice observation. The film focuses on three people but relies just as much, if not more so, on the watchful observations of others, on what’s going on with someone’s hands as much as their face, processing as much as talking. As the narrative barrels forward, it sort of momentarily hovers in these moments and you can feel a sort of collective thinking.

Filmmaker: Some have used Lord of the Flies as a reference when describing the film, but the film feels more like a courtroom drama, a 12 Angry Men for first time jurors learning how to mature and respect their fellow man. You watch them closely as they become frustrated with the burden of decision-making and the grayness involved in doing what’s right. What drew you to featuring these key organized meetings?

Wilder: There is a lot of woodworking and meetings in the film because I found the meat of the story there. I’ve never gotten through William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, as I find the tone so disparaging of the kids. I haven’t seen 12 Angry Men. Are there any women in it? You really can’t deny the importance of Lucy in Approaching the Elephant.

Filmmaker: Speaking of Lucy, in one scene, she takes Alex to “court” and is confused when she discovers a loophole in the rules: since Alex is the grownup, he has the final say. Lucy struggles internally with her disappointment here, as she discovers a hidden bifurcation of student and teacher lines.

Wilder: It’s my favorite scene. I love how Alex and Lucy treat each other with complete respect, and yet at the same time firmly stand by their points. When we shot this, he was 32 and Lucy was seven. For people who aren’t used to treating kids as equals, it’s quite a mind warp. Lucy is such a force.

Filmmaker: Your editor and co-producer Robert Greene has been quite vocal about recognizing the performance-based aspects of documentary subjects. With that in mind, Jiovanni emerges from this film as a troubled but fascinating character, a misguided rebel who, by the film’s conclusion, encounters an unfortunate fate at the hands of his peers. Could you speak a little bit about what his presence brings to the film?

Wilder: I felt Jiovanni’s presence the minute I met him. He is one of those magnetic and fascinating figures, up against certain challenges and who you can’t help but hope succeeds. But will he? In this way, in my mind, Jiovanni is very much a young version of Alex. And Lucy exists in a different sphere. A.S. Neill, who started Summerhill said, “A child’s wish to be an adult is a power wish.” Lucy’s approach to this wish, to be as strong as Alex (and Jiovanni) is very different than Jiovanni’s approach, who bucks the… [more]
amandarosewilder  approachingtheelephant  2015  erikluers  teddymcardlefreeschools  summerhill  freeschools  democraticschools  alexkhost  film  documentary  education  unschooling  schools  schooling  children 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
The School Where Children Can Do Whatever They Want (Pretty Much) - VICE
“Amanda Rose Wilder’s new documentary Approaching the Elephant follows a year at the Teddy McArdle Free School in suburban New Jersey, an alternative elementary school organized around the principles of self-regulation. Named for a child prodigy from a J.D. Salinger story, Teddy McArdle consists of about a dozen students, several teachers, and no mandatory classes. At first glance, the school day seems to be improvised from moment to moment, with the adults relying on suggestion and a loose parliamentary style of rule-making to channel the students’ energies around one project or another for the day, or not. The school seems to operate in a limbo between class and recess.

At the center of this activity is the school’s founder Alex Khost, an endlessly energetic and patient man in his early 30s who hated school as a child and is determined to create something better as an adult. Much of the drama revolves around two of his pupils: Jiovanni, a sensitive and creative 11-year-old boy who often becomes a disruptive and destructive presence, and Lucy, an outspoken and critical seven-year-old, who swings back and forth between being attracted to Jio and being bullied by him. In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, Lucy tells Alex, “I don’t like the things he does, but it’s boring when he’s not here,” more or less framing everyone’s relationship with Jiovanni. Can Alex’s radical vision for a new kind of school deal with a bright, charismatic kid who won’t cooperate?

A disciple of the Maysles Brothers and their Direct Cinema revolution of the 1960s, Rose Wilder found a perfect subject in the Teddy McArdle Free School for her fast-moving, observational style, which arrives free of commentary or context in a timeless black-and-white presentation. This stylistic choice feels important, because it helps release the film from the realm of current events and moves it closer to a timeless study of childhood, capturing something raw and elemental about how children are that isn’t specific to any decade. No matter your opinions on education or your personal experience of childhood, you’ll find it hard to experience Approaching the Elephant without feeling affected.

VICE: How did you come across the Teddy McArdle Free School and why did you decide to make a film there?

Amanda Rose Wilder: I started the film when I graduated from college, about eight years ago. Before that, my main interest was poetry and then I sort of transitioned over to film, and I found Direct Cinema to be sort of an interesting mirror of poetry in film. I remember watching the Maysles Brothers’ Gimme Shelter and thinking about how you can unpack that film unendingly. It’s fun to unpack in the way that a poem is fun to unpack. Meeting Alex Khost had everything to do with my interest in making a film about the school because he was so open and charming. Opening the school really mattered to Alex. He’d been bullied and hated going to school when he was young, and didn’t want his newborn son to have to go through the same experience. I was excited by the idea of people starting something new and mostly doing it on their own, and I wanted to see it unfold. The individuals at Teddy McArdle and what happened between them are really the story.

One of things I was most impressed by was how the school charges its students with running an active democracy in order to get anything done. The idea that students and teachers are equal and have the same degree of power in the school sounds simple and appealing on the surface. Over the course of the film, you begin to appreciate how heavy this responsibility is, and it’s incredible to watch children work to deal with it. It’s very different from the traditional American public-school experience, which is not very democratic at all, or only in highly mediated and controlled situations.

There is a scene where Lucy calls a meeting on Alex for harassment—actually, for not allowing her to jump off of a storage bin—for making a rule by himself instead of voting on it as a democratic community. It’s such a mind warp because both Lucy and Alex are treating each other with such respect as equals, and yet she’s seven and he’s 31. For me, the movie is about kids making real decisions for themselves. Most of the time when you see a movie where this happens, it’s not about kids in school but kids who live on the street, like the documentary Streetwise. The free school model allowed me to capture something about childhood that you aren’t often allowed to see. The tensions and fighting and bullying, which exist in all schools, but the community and joy and inspiration as well.

The way the students and teachers resolve their problems with Jiovanni, the most disruptive kid in the school, was really surprising. Having to collectively decide whether or not to expel a disruptive classmate is not a situation that most elementary schools place their students in. By the time we arrive at this scene, you have to be impressed at how proactive the Teddy McArdle kids need to be in order to maintain a school that functions at all.

There have been conflicting reactions to how the narrative of the film unfolds. Some people see the school as dissolving into chaos, and some people see the school coming together and starting to work in functional way. For me, the school was like a family at that point. Everyone really cared about Jiovanni, the student who they had to make a huge decision about whether or not to expel, who had been given months and months of second chances. I was myself expelled from high school and it was such a different experience, a one-strike-and-you’re-out kind of thing. Jiovanni himself completely understood what was happening to him.

At screenings of the film, Alex is sometimes asked what he would have done differently. While many things could have been done differently, it’s hard to really do something for the first time again, you know what I mean? Everyone has a first time, and it’s always imperfect. I like that about the film, that it shows imperfections and shows people not always acting the best. Not every documentary has to be about a perfect hero. Alex does behave heroically at times, but he’s human and he has flaws, we all do.

What’s your hope for the film? What do you hope people see and take away from it? Can it contribute to a larger conversation about education or politics or life?
I think that whenever you’re filming something, you are promoting it in some way. What I hope the movies promotes is someone like Alex trying something new, and not necessarily doing it right the first time. Giving something new a shot. I remember meeting Alex and how his face was so alive and so excited when he was talking about starting this new and different school. I would rather film someone like that than someone who’s been doing the same thing for years and looks dead. I have my own feelings about free schools, but the movie is more about childhood in general and touches on larger questions about democracy and community. Lucy and Jiovanni are examples of how a child can be scary and inspiring all at once. Kids need to make mistakes and do things wrong and cry. Just like adults do. Focusing on two people who are under ten and showing all the qualities of their personalities was important for me, showing the rawness and messiness of childhood.”
amandarosewilder  approachingtheelephant  2015  matthewcaron  teddymcardlefreeschools  summerhill  freeschools  democraticschools  alexkhost  film  documentary  education  unschooling  schools  schooling  children 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
A Filmmaker Follows Education Without Required Classes — Even Math : NPR
“”So you don’t have to do math?” asks a child early on in the documentary Approaching the Elephant. His teacher, Alex, has just explained one of the rules of the Teddy McArdle Free School, where this student and a dozen or so others (who, from the looks of it, range in age from around five to ten) are now enrolled. There are no required classes and almost no prescribed rules. Instead, kids can focus on whatever interests them and teachers and students propose and vote on rules together.

So no, nobody at Teddy McArdle has to do math if they don’t want to, a piece of news that’s heralded with cries of “yay” and “awesome.”

Approaching the Elephant documents Alex’s attempts to implement this radical teaching philosophy during Teddy McArdle’s first year of classes, which began in September 2007. Director Amanda Rose Wilder came to the school with no crew, handling camera duties solo, an approach that undoubtedly helped foster the film’s immersive feel.

At a superficial level, the film continuously flirts with chaos. Its aspect ratio is narrow and confining. For much of the movie, we’re surrounded by the cacophony of shrills, yells and arguments and the unspecified noise that inevitably ensues when you allow kids to do almost whatever they want. The camera, right in the thick of things, sticks mainly to close-ups of the teachers’ and students’ faces. Very rarely does Wilder pull back into wide shots for a breather.

And on several levels, that’s just not the kind of movie Approaching the Elephant is. It’s not a documentary that takes that wider view and hopes to enlighten us about the principles of the Free School or argue for its merits or deficiencies. As edited by Robert Greene—who also edited Listen Up Philip, directed the fantastic documentary Actress and helps give Approaching the Elephant its entrancing, tight, whirlwind rhythm—the final effect ends up closer to 2012’s Leviathan than Waiting for Superman. It’s a visceral, experiential, and absorbing viewing experience, not an educational issue doc.

That said, beneath Approaching the Elephant’s manic surface lies an elementary structure provided by its focus on two students: Lucy and Jiovanni. Lucy is outspoken and, in some ways, a model student for the free school. At one point, she goes so far as to debate Alex about whether he has the right, in the name of safety, to unilaterally forbid students to jump off a filing cabinet onto a mattress. “What you decide by yourself, I’m not going to listen to it,” Lucy says, and in the context of this school, the argument has some merit.

Jiovanni is the troublemaker—rambunctious, angry and, in many cases, a bully. He particularly enjoys tormenting Lucy, and the two repeatedly wind up in emergency conflict resolution meetings. (Everything at the school is handled democratically, so when a student feels hurt, threatened, or insulted they can call an emergency meeting where all sides present their side of the story. Later, if necessary, a jury made up of students and teachers decide whether a punishment is merited.)

Eventually, as the misconducts pile up, Alex and others wonder whether Jiovanni can handle the freedoms that the Teddy McArdle School offers. The movie’s lingering question, though, is more general. With every new fight, yelling match, and emergency meeting, the school and its pedagogical experiment seems to inch closer to implosion. You begin to imagine the kind of disaster, the kind of injury, that might shut it down completely. You begin to expect it. It’s exhausting.

It’s also brilliant. Without delivering lectures about the tenets of the free school philosophy (we enter having been told only that it originated among Spanish anarchists in the early 20th century and that there over 250 free schools in the world today), Wilder initiates us into the tensions that produce its existential crises. Having created a space where children can express themselves with nearly no restrictions, Alex and the other teachers then must try to create some structure, some habitat for learning, without imposing a system. (The movie’s mixture of order and chaos, in this sense, mirrors the school.)

Another essential component of free school philosophy is respect—Alex continuously implores the kids to treat each other like human beings. But while that extends to how Alex hopes to interact with the students as well—as one adult among others rather than as a teacher enforcing edicts—the situation at times seems to backfire, pushing everyone toward bickering and petulance.

There are times when you see the benefits of Alex’s approach. By the end of the film, many of the students, who in meetings regularly propose and debate potential rules and practices for the school, are arguing their opinions with impressive eloquence and confidence.

But there’s also a moment where Alex, frustrated by the kids’ continuous misbehavior, threatens to quit the school. “I don’t like being around people who are mean to other people,” he tells the students. That makes you wonder whether teaching elementary school is really for him. It also highlights how, at least in the vision offered by Approaching the Elephant, Teddy McArdle seems persistently embroiled in conflicts.

Alex and other teachers offer a number of reasons for this frustration: that the kids, unaccustomed to their freedom, are taking advantage of it until they become bored (one person calls it the “gangster phase” of the school’s development); that the school needs a few years before its merits will be evident; that, because it’s an alternative school, the school attracts not just children who might benefit from its approach but also those who haven’t succeeded in other settings and are looking for any other option.

Wilder never declares which of these might be most true. She in fact shot two years of footage at Teddy McArdle, staying on until the school shut down in 2009, but her decision to focus only on the inaugural year was astute. It not only focuses the film, but also leaves us absorbed in the primal battle we’ve witnessed between well-intentioned philosophy and human nature. There’s no closure or natural victor. Only Alex talking about the changes he hopes to make in the school’s second year and the thought, in the back of our heads, that at no point in the movie did we see any of the kids doing math.”
amandarosewilder  approachingtheelephant  2015  tomashachard  teddymcardlefreeschools  summerhill  freeschools  democraticschools  alexkhost  film  documentary  education  unschooling  schools  schooling  children 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Getting Real With The Director of Must-See Documentary ‘Approaching the Elephant’ | BlackBook
“Imagine the scene of a group of precocious schoolchildren having a democratic meeting about who has the right to a piece of wood—each as expressive in their righteous anger or inquisitive silence, while patiently awaiting the final verdict—and you’ll begin to understand the allure of Approaching the Elephant, one of the finest American documentaries in recent memory. The feature debut by Amanda Rose Wilder depicts the inaugural year of the Teddy McArdle Free School in New Jersey, where director Alex Khost and his colleagues teach art history, woodworking, a variety of instruments, and whatever else the kids decide they want to do that day. It’s a bustling, genuinely curious portrait of communal education that seems incredibly generous, exciting, and even a little scary all at once.

Elephant is reminiscent of the films of Frederick Wiseman and the Maysles Brothers, which observe American institutions with patience and a deep faith in their subjects that feels wholly unburdened by commercial concerns. We’re never told how to watch these incredibly engaging children, much as they occasionally develop Brat Pack-esque roles and behaviors. A vague love story develops between fiery blonde Lucy and surly Jiovanni, who roughly function as protagonists under Wilder’s solitary roving camera—until Khost, the viewer and their fellow classmates are forced to accept that not all children thrive under these circumstances.

Shot nearly eight years ago, converted to black-and-white and pieced together by reliably efficient editor Robert Greene (Actress, Listen Up Philip), the film finally opens today for a weeklong run at the IFP Media Center in DUMBO. I had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Wilder about the origins and inspiration behind the film, and how the subjects responded to it many years later.

How did you first conceive or become involved with this project?

My dad is an elementary school teacher and was always interested in more progressive, unconventional models. He took me once to visit Summerhill, which is the longest-running and most famous free school in the UK. That was my first interaction with free schools, and it was a memorable experience—but he wanted to know if I wanted to enroll there, and it was way out over the ocean. I didn’t really get it at the time, that school could be riding horses all day.

Then he moved with my stepmom to Missouri, and I went on my own volition to a prep school in Connecticut. I had a bad experience in boarding school and didn’t really understand what prep culture was. Ultimately, I think bad experiences are good for you, but I kind of went the opposite way in college. I went to Marlboro in Vermont, which is more progressive—you design the last two years of your education and plan a concentration, which is more like a graduate program than a B.A. That’s where I switched over from poetry to documentary, and my thesis was on “the documentary poem”.

That’s when I became obsessed with the Maysles brothers, and the idea of observational filmmaking as this art, or poetry. And then my film professor, Jay Craven, a filmmaker who makes films about regional Vermont stories, asked if I wanted to make a movie with him exploring progressive education in some way. He raised some money for that and then asked if I wanted to go to this alternative education conference called Aero, and so after I graduated I went there and did all these interviews, and one of those people that I just met on the street was Alex [Khost], who was just about to start Teddy McArdle. It was going to be 20 minutes from where my mom was living, and I was sort of in transition, so I decided to shack up with my mom and basically film there the whole year. I shot about 178 hours the first year, and then 40 or 50 hours the year afterward.

Was your aesthetic for this film inspired by any particular films or filmmakers?

The Maysles were my first real film influence. When I saw Gimme Shelter for the first time, I watched it straight through again a second time, and just recognized something in it that I thought—that’s the kind of film I want to to make. I guess to me, direct cinema is related in a lot of ways to poetry, in that it’s about so many things—it’s so fun to unpack a film.

Richard Brody wrote a capsule review [in the New Yorker] that sort of criticized the fact that I wasn’t a presence in the film. It had me thinking a lot about being a presence, and obviously there’s a strong tradition in direct cinema of not really being present. People talk to you, and you kind of cut that out. But what I always liked about the Maysles’ films is that the filmmaker is…not in the foreground, but very much present. So much is [about] the eye of the camera and also the editor, which is how it was for this film as well. Robert Greene realized that I’m much more of a shooter, and that I needed someone who complements my talents with other necessary ones.

I was able to shoot a second camera with Albert Maysles and edit that material, to watch his footage and mine side-by-side, which was definitely a learning experience. Sean [Price] Williams, the cinematographer, who was also working with the Maysles at the time—I would go see films with him, and that’s how I originally met Robert, outside of Anthology Film Archives years and years ago.

There was some narrative influence as well. Le Fils by the Dardenne brothers is also very much about woodworking and a man-boy relationship and the idea of a naturalistic narrative, which breaks from the direct cinema form a little bit.

It reminded me a bit of Allan King’s Warrendale, in terms of the proximity you had to these kids, and with caregivers trying to contain the emotions of so many different troubled children all at once.

Yeah, there’s that whole alternative community. And you’re just constantly back and forth in Warrendale, whether their methods are horrible or their methods are working—which I think is a good place to put a viewer in.

During that scene where they hold a meeting to discuss Lucy’s harassment, I noticed how you were able to maneuver around the room to focus on each of the participants, while also getting that great insert of Olivia playing with Alex’s keys. These moments never feel hurried or strained. Was your filmmaking mostly intuitive, or did you have a game plan when dealing with these group sequences?

I think there were a lot of elements of Teddy McArdle that helped make it a consistent place for observational filmmaking—one being that it was really limited to one space. A lot of the movie takes place in maybe three rooms, and there were always a lot of people sitting around talking, so it was very easy to just be behind people. And I was there on the first day of school, so I think that helped. I think being there from the outset really helped people [get used to it], and that it was just me.

I think it was mostly working instinctually. I would get there and I would pick up on a conversation across the room, and I would go over and listen…I was always trying to find scenes, or shots that I felt captured me. Then there were scenes that I knew were going to happen, or there was a little bit more preconceived thinking, and that was one of those scenes. Alex knew that I was interested in filming that scene [once the hearing was called], and he approached me and said, why don’t we do this one now.

Another example is the scene at the end where they decide what to do with Jiovanni ultimately. I guess I sort of gathered in my head who I would want to focus on, and just remind myself not to get too distracted and bounce around a whole lot.

That was one thing I always noticed about Al Maysles was how patient he would be [with his subjects]. The best cinematographers always sort of inspire you. I remember watching this Glauber Rocha movie, where during a sewer scene, there was a shot I really liked where the camera just sort of moved forward into people talking. And in the sewer scene [in Approaching the Elephant] where Lucy’s talking into Olivia’s ear, I just moved in and picked up that shot. I decided to re-enact it in that moment.

I was also curious what the “inappropriate movies” were that Jiovanni was cited for watching at his hearing at the end.

That’s a good question! I can’t actually answer that. I don’t think it was sexual in nature. I think it was more like there was a rule for younger kids, like 5 years old who were more scared by violent things, and he just wasn’t respecting those rules.

Have any of the kids seen the film? It would be fascinating if you did a kind of Chronicle of a Summer-style screening for all of them together, and filming their reactions.

They’re all 16 to 17 years old now, and we had a screening for people in the film about a month before it premiered at True/False last year. Jiovanni flew up from Florida, where I am now, and he stayed with us in Brooklyn a few days ahead of screening the movie at Lucy’s house. That was neat, and I did really want to film at that time, because we had Alex and Jiovanni—who’s taller than Alex now!—and he works at the Indy 500 racetrack. But I did feel like it was important to have some time with him without filming, and to get to know each other better, since in a way I didn’t really get to know him as a person without the camera in hand.

Alex and I talk about what an interesting film it would have been to have made about the last year of our lives together. We’ve done all the Q&As together, in Copenhagen, Italy, elsewhere. I’ve definitely heard all the people’s impressions of the movie, which are so varied.

But most [of the participants] have seen it, and I think everyone likes it, thinks it’s a good or great film. Lucy loves it, I think, though she says she remembers she had more fun, and wished I had included more fun moments.

It looked like she was having fun to me!

She really did seek out attention from the boys, which was fun a lot of the time, and then it crossed the line. She… [more]
amandarosewilder  approachingtheelephant  2015  micahgottlieb  teddymcardlefreeschools  summerhill  freeschools  democraticschools  alexkhost  film  documentary  education  unschooling  schools  schooling  children 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Alec Resnick on Twitter: “OK, via prompt by @vgr, 1 like = 1 opinion about unschooling”
“1. Unschooling’s greatest mistake was situating itself in the negative space of school. It doesn’t have a coherent position on what learning is.

2. Because unschooling is reacting to school’s coercive structures, it has developed an overly naturalistic view of learning that’s about “getting out of the way” which idealizes youth, learning, and often glosses over the complexities of actually learning and working.

3. The future of unschooling is much more likely to be invented in the world of work than the world of school or unschooling. And it probably won’t even be named as education per se for much of its infancy.

4. Mostly we talk about “learning” only to make sense of either (a) doing something inauthentic, or (b) being a novice. At some point, you stop “learning” the guitar and start just getting better. The most radical perspectives abandon treating learning as a distinct activity.

5. The most meaningful part of “unschooling” is the phase people go through in learning to learn and get things done without school-like structures. Understanding why we go through that phase has much more to do with psychology than education and is woefully under-explored.

6. Education won’t see meaningful reform until the time and money associated with schooling is made available for invention and experimentation. Unschooling, as long as it remains an “exit” strategy (in the AO Hirschman) sense, will never be instrumental to this.

7. One’s opinion about the relative decomposition of the premia which formal education earns people into human, network, and social/cultural capital is a far more important term in the mid-term future of school, learning, and unschooling than anyone’s pedagogy.

8. Education is a prematurely professionalized sector. Basic standards of rigor, consistency, shared vocabulary, and similar which other professions take for granted don’t yet exist. Unschooling has inherited and amplified this hubris as a reactionary position and community.

9. Human development is slow. Experimentation requires longer time horizons than most investment vehicles permit. To a first approximation, you can probably ignore research or reform efforts which don’t have built into their structure deep acknowledgment of this.

10. By framing its superiority in terms of rights, humane-ness, and ethics (as opposed to, e.g., efficacy), unschooling opts for the losing side of the political economy in conversations about the future of learning. This is a harsh critique of both unschooling and education.

11. Unschooling hand-waves at the reasons school exists (e.g. “industrial revolution factory model”), but has failed to develop a coherent analysis of school’s robustness to change and staying power. “What’s adaptive about school for whom?” is an underappreciated question.

12. School [and un-schooling] have much more to learn from kindergarten and the world of work than either appreciate.

13. It is a deep and important question why, for the most part, graduates from graduate schools of education (having nominally studied how people learn and grow), are not some of the most highly paid and sought after designers/managers in fields where knowledge work dominates.

14. A basic incoherence in discussions of unschooling, learning, and education, is that [mostly] people treat learning as a domain-independent activity. Domain specificity of methods’ relevance/efficacy is ignored because of the political functions of discourse around learning.

15. The set of things people worry about learning is ~arbitrary, a minute sliver of what’s out there. The process of identifying, creating curricula for, and developing educators to support learning a topic is so slow so as to make content-first reformers largely irrelevant.

16. Most discussions of learning wildly overindex on “fit” of topic-defined interest. Learning and motivation are driven by the social and cultural contexts in which people find themselves.

17. When given the chance to focus on “cognitive” or “affective” factors in someone’s learning, returns are almost always higher emphasizing the affective. We don’t yet have fundamental explanations for this, but it is a fact largely ignored by unschoolers and schoolers alike.

18. At most conferences, you hear about new ideas and new work. Unschooling/alt-ed conferences are much more similar to a political caucus coming together around values. Whether this is cause or effect, the intellectual stagnation has yet to even be identified by the sector.

19. Unschooling [and school] has never really grappled with the reality that choice amongst “education options” is better understood as choice among “insurance products” than “investment products”. i.e. it is about raising the floor to which you can fall.

20. The timescale required to capture the long-term returns of human capital development mean that for all intents and purposes, only governments, churches, universities, and visionary billionaires will be in a position to meaningfully experiment with new K12 institutions.

21. Much of the work of unschooling has as little to do with school and learning as remediating an unhealthy relationship to body image has to do with the theory of nutrition.

22. One of the greatest unrecognized reform strategies is to leverage new, salient skills (e.g. programming) to create cover for new pedagogy. Doing this in K12 requires inventive, intellectual work connecting these skills to all the disciplines for which school is responsible.

23. Dewey, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, etc.—the extent to which these have succeeded or not has ~nothing to do with their pedagogical efficacy. It is a political/financial/cultural fact. Efforts which do not have a historical analysis and story about this are unserious.

24. One of the most important [false] things you learn in school is that you learn by being taught. In unschooling, many people never unlearn this, instead substituting other classes or courses for the classroom that’s now gone.

25. Many explain away counterfactuals about people who drop out/unschool/homeschool by pointing to privilege. This is a fascinating datum. If it were an honest point, then educators would be interested in the pedagogical and managerial insights of the upper-middle class family.

26. There are approximately as many people homeschooled as there are in charter schools. “Charter school” is a design and governance mechanism. As is “homeschooling”. Talking about them as though they are pedagogies—e.g. “Does homeschooling work?”—is pure confusion.

27. Just as corporations have offered us new [often dark] visions of what the next nation states look like, so too will the first entities to figure out how to leverage tools like income share agreements to securitize human capital offer us new [maybe dark] visions of cities.

28. The bias to emphasize the cognitive in education leads people to vastly overestimate the power of remote technologies and experiences to transform learning. If it is fundamentally social, much of it will be fundamentally local.

29. To the extent unschooling recognizes learning is a slow, social, high-touch, and therefore local process it has one up on every company tackling this space which aims to be the first in history to create a large-scale, high-touch organization anyone wants to join.

30. One of the most valuable skills those who unschool and support others who unschool develop is the ability to introduce people to a map of an intellectual territory without confusing exposure for attempted mastery. Formal education could learn a great deal from this.

31. The most important ratio in the future of learning is the relative balance of dollars and minutes which go into (a) investigating how school works and could be improved, (b) investigating how “non-traditional” learning works, & (c) inventing new tools/approaches.

32. Pick any organizational unit (company, lab group, whatever). The first 100h of activity on-boarding a junior colleague to that group likely represents 1000h (8–10m full-time) of rigorous activity for a young person. Unschooling should focus on organizing access to this.

33. One of the cleverest sleights of hand—whose provenance I’m still mystified by—is that we discuss learning’s future in terms of methods instead of entrants/products. Learning is one of the most “execution-dependent” and “recipe-resistant” activities I can imagine.

34. Once you assume the moniker of “alternative”, you’ve lost the whole ball game.

35. Unschooling is really a battle against legibility. Competing with school will mostly be about subverting or competing with its measures of legibility. School’s measures are far less meaningful than most will admit. In whose interest is it to improve them?

36. To the extent that unschooling (and school reform) must confront legibility, as work product becomes increasingly structured and digitized (e.g. Figma, GitHub, etc.) there is a growing opportunity to leverage passive process artifacts for analysis and evaluation.

37. Conversely, most attempts to leverage portfolios or similar dramatically underestimate the sensing bandwidth constraints they’re up against. Last I checked, MIT spends an average of eleven (11) minutes evaluating a candidate.

38. Unschooling rightly recognizes an opportunity to unbundle (often leveraging online and community resources). Its efficacy requires knowing youth well (which dramatically increases CAC). No one knows whether, including that, there’s any value to be unlocked by unbundling.

39. Many undertake alternative educational arrangements/endeavors prompted by their own children. Though an authentic motive, it is not durable: Starting and growing the organization will outlive your kid’s needs.

40. A core challenge in organizing for educational change (in unschooling and elsewhere) is that your constituency (youth and families) are definitionally … [more]
unschooling  alecresnick  education  learning  deschooling  legibility  credentials  charterschools  howwelearn  pedagogy  howweteach  schools  schooling  society  work  chezpaniesse  local  alicewatters  learningecologies  environment  rahcelcarson  resources  tools  organization  organizing  montessori  reggioemilia  portfolios  formal  informal  informallearning  mastery  labor  homeschool  waldorf  johndewey  history  psychology  humandevelopment  skills  coercion  alternative  altedu  greatbooks  networks  networking  class  canon  classism  inequality  universalbasicincome  ubi  constraints  economics  race  institutions  flexibility  disciplines  specialization  exposure  edg  srg  mitmedialab  ledialab  xeroxparc  access  identity  opportunity  edtech  branding  culture  culturalcapital  rent-seeking  bureaucracy  sudburyschools  sudburyvalleyschools  reality  social  technocrats  publicschools  publicgood  apprenticeships  mentoring 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
This Is How You Lose Your Mind
“Dani Fleischer recalls how a lifetime of perfectionism led her down a path of self-destruction.”



“Then this happens: I become the first 5th grader who can properly fill out a map of all 50 states, and something temporarily replaces that not-enoughness. I don’t even know what it is exactly, but the urge to steal away to a bathroom subsides for the week, and I spend the rest of the year chasing that feeling. State capitals, vocabulary words like doldrums and oxymoron, letters to Elie Wiesel: there’s so much to try to be the best at, and that pursuit carries me straight into summer. It turns out to be a good year for me. I adapt. I make friends, get straight A’s, and begin to feel comfortable in Jersey.

A few days before 6th grade starts, I find out that we’re moving back upstate again. The reasoning my parents give is muddled: the house upstate never sold, and Mom doesn’t like living so close to her mother. I begin to wonder about how the decisions shaping my life are being made.

I return upstate and bring with me the comfort of academic perfection. School becomes the perfect closed system, a way to quantify my worth, and for a long time that system serves me well. I’m good at it and it seems as good as anything else by which to define myself; it’s rigid and unforgiving, and it doesn’t account for my own humanity. The perfect vehicle for self-destruction: something that feels like control, but isn’t. A car speeding down an icy highway late at night.

I spend high school grinding away at perfection and show myself no mercy when I graduate second in my class. I still get to make a speech at graduation, which is nice. I quote Rilke and people congratulate me and I feel smart, even as I continue to eviscerate myself for not being first.

I get into a good college.”



“What I don’t know yet is that I’m just trading one idol for another — academics for pharmaceuticals — that what feels like freedom, finally, isn’t. That the trade won’t liberate me from anything, but will only trap me more.

And even if I knew any of it, I wouldn’t care. That’s the power of this new idol. What I do know is how good it feels to let myself fall. And so I do.”
danifleischer  schooling  schools  perfectionism  2019  mentalhealth  health  drugs  unschooling  deschooling 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Ed-Tech Agitprop
"Is technology changing faster than it's ever changed before? It might feel like it is. Futurists might tell you it is. But many historians would disagree. Robert Gordon, for example, has argued that economic growth began in the late 19th century and took off in the early 20th century with the invention of "electricity, the internal combustion engine, the telephone, chemicals and plastics, and the diffusion to every urban household of clear running water and waste removal." Rapid technological change -- faster than ever before. But he argues that the growth from new technologies slowed by the 1970s. New technologies -- even new digital technologies -- he contends, are incremental changes rather than whole-scale alterations to society we saw a century ago. Many new digital technologies, Gordon argues, are consumer technologies, and these will not -- despite all the stories we hear -- necessarily restructure our world. Perhaps we're compelled to buy a new iPhone every year, but that doesn't mean that technology is changing faster than it's ever changed before. That just means we're trapped by Apple's planned obsolescence.

As historian Jill Lepore writes, "Futurists foretell inevitable outcomes by conjuring up inevitable pasts. People who are in the business of selling predictions need to present the past as predictable -- the ground truth, the test case. Machines are more predictable than people, and in histories written by futurists the machines just keep coming; depicting their march as unstoppable certifies the futurists' predictions. But machines don't just keep coming. They are funded, invented, built, sold, bought, and used by people who could just as easily not fund, invent, build, sell, buy, and use them. Machines don't drive history; people do. History is not a smart car."


We should want a future of human dignity and thriving and justice and security and care -- for everyone. Education is a core part of that. But dignity, thriving, justice, and care are rarely the focus of how we frame "the future of learning" or "the future of work." Robots will never care for us. Unbridled techno-solution will never offer justice. Lifelong learning isn't thriving when it is a symptom of economic precarity, of instability, of a disinvestment in the public good.

When the futures we hear predicted on stages like this turn so casually towards the dystopian, towards an embrace of the machine, towards an embrace of efficiency and inequality and fear -- and certainly that's the trajectory I feel that we are on with the narratives underpinning so much of ed-tech agitprop -- then we have failed. This is a massive failure of our politics, for sure, but it is also a massive failure of imagination. Do better."
2019  audreywatters  edtech  agitprop  dystopia  technology  storytelling  propaganda  pressreleases  capitalism  neoliberalism  benjamindoxtdator  economics  education  learning  highered  highereducation  johnseelybrown  davos  worldeconomicforum  power  money  motivation  purpose  howwelearn  relationships  howweteach  schools  schooling  disruption  robots  productivity  futurism  robertgordon  change  history  jilllepore  security  justice  society  socialjustice  technosolutionism  californianideology  work  labor  future  machines  modernism 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Revolution and American Indians: “Marxism is as Alien to My Culture as Capitalism”
"The only possible opening for a statement of this kind is that I detest writing. The process itself epitomizes the European concept of "legitimate" thinking; what is written has an importance that is denied the spoken. My culture, the Lakota culture, has an oral tradition, so I ordinarily reject writing. It is one of the white world's ways of destroying the cultures of non-European peoples, the imposing of an abstraction over the spoken relationship of a people.

So what you read here is not what I've written. It's what I've said and someone else has written down. I will allow this because it seems that the only way to communicate with the white world is through the dead, dry leaves of a book. I don't really care whether my words reach whites or not. They have already demonstrated through their history that they cannot hear, cannot see; they can only read (of course, there are exceptions, but the exceptions only prove the rule). I'm more concerned with American Indian people, students and others, who have begun to be absorbed into the white world through universities and other institutions. But even then it's a marginal sort of concern. It's very possible to grow into a red face with a white mind; and if that's a person's individual choice, so be it, but I have no use for them. This is part of the process of cultural genocide being waged by Europeans against American Indian peoples' today. My concern is with those American Indians who choose to resist this genocide, but who may be confused as to how to proceed.

(You notice I use the term American Indian rather than Native American or Native indigenous people or Amerindian when referring to my people. There has been some controversy about such terms, and frankly, at this point, I find it absurd. Primarily it seems that American Indian is being rejected as European in origin--which is true. But all the above terms are European in origin; the only non-European way is to speak of Lakota--or, more precisely, of Oglala, Brule, etc.--and of the Dineh, the Miccousukee, and all the rest of the several hundred correct tribal names.

(There is also some confusion about the word Indian, a mistaken belief that it refers somehow to the country, India. When Columbus washed up on the beach in the Caribbean, he was not looking for a country called India. Europeans were calling that country Hindustan in 1492. Look it up on the old maps. Columbus called the tribal people he met "Indio," from the Italian in dio, meaning "in God.")

It takes a strong effort on the part of each American Indian not to become Europeanized. The strength for this effort can only come from the traditional ways, the traditional values that our elders retain. It must come from the hoop, the four directions, the relations: it cannot come from the pages of a book or a thousand books. No European can ever teach a Lakota to be Lakota, a Hopi to be Hopi. A master's degree in "Indian Studies" or in "education" or in anything else cannot make a person into a human being or provide knowledge into traditional ways. It can only make you into a mental European, an outsider.

I should be clear about something here, because there seems to be some confusion about it. When I speak of Europeans or mental Europeans, I'm not allowing for false distinctions. I'm not saying that on the one hand there are the by-products of a few thousand years of genocidal, reactionary, European intellectual development which is bad; and on the other hand there is some new revolutionary intellectual development which is good. I'm referring here to the so-called theories of Marxism and anarchism and "leftism" in general. I don't believe these theories can be separated from the rest of the of the European intellectual tradition. It's really just the same old song.

The process began much earlier. Newton, for example, "revolutionized" physics and the so-called natural sciences by reducing the physical universe to a linear mathematical equation. Descartes did the same thing with culture. John Locke did it with politics, and Adam Smith did it with economics. Each one of these "thinkers" took a piece of the spirituality of human existence and converted it into code, an abstraction. They picked up where Christianity ended: they "secularized" Christian religion, as the "scholars" like to say--and in doing so they made Europe more able and ready to act as an expansionist culture. Each of these intellectual revolutions served to abstract the European mentality even further, to remove the wonderful complexity and spirituality from the universe and replace it with a logical sequence: one, two, three. Answer!

This is what has come to be termed "efficiency" in the European mind. Whatever is mechanical is perfect; whatever seems to work at the moment--that is, proves the mechanical model to be the right one--is considered correct, even when it is clearly untrue. This is why "truth" changes so fast in the European mind; the answers which result from such a process are only stopgaps, only temporary, and must be continuously discarded in favor of new stopgaps which support the mechanical models and keep them (the models) alive.

Hegel and Marx were heirs to the thinking of Newton, Descartes, Locke and Smith. Hegel finished the process of secularizing theology--and that is put in his own terms--he secularized the religious thinking through which Europe understood the universe. Then Marx put Hegel's philosophy in terms of "materialism," which is to say that Marx despiritualized Hegel's work altogether. Again, this is in Marx' own terms. And this is now seen as the future revolutionary potential of Europe. Europeans may see this as revolutionary, but American Indians see it simply as still more of that same old European conflict between being and gaining. The intellectual roots of a new Marxist form of European imperialism lie in Marx'--and his followers'--links to the tradition of Newton, Hegel and the others.

Being is a spiritual proposition. Gaining is a material act. Traditionally, American Indians have always attempted to be the best people they could. Part of that spiritual process was and is to give away wealth, to discard wealth in order not to gain. Material gain is an indicator of false status among traditional people, while it is "proof that the system works" to Europeans. Clearly, there are two completely opposing views at issue here, and Marxism is very far over to the other side from the American Indian view. But let's look at a major implication of this; it is not merely an intellectual debate.

The European materialist tradition of despiritualizing the universe is very similar to the mental process which goes into dehumanizing another person. And who seems most expert at dehumanizing other people? And why? Soldiers who have seen a lot of combat learn to do this to the enemy before going back into combat. Murderers do it before going out to commit murder. Nazi SS guards did it to concentration camp inmates. Cops do it. Corporation leaders do it to the workers they send into uranium mines and steel mills. Politicians do it to everyone in sight. And what the process has in common for each group doing the dehumanizing is that it makes it all right to kill and otherwise destroy other people. One of the Christian commandments says, "Thou shalt not kill," at least not humans, so the trick is to mentally convert the victims into nonhumans. Then you can proclaim violation of your own commandment as a virtue.

In terms of the despiritualization of the universe, the mental process works so that it becomes virtuous to destroy the planet. Terms like progress and development are used as cover words here, the way victory and freedom are used to justify butchery in the dehumanization process. For example, a real-estate speculator may refer to "developing" a parcel of ground by opening a gravel quarry; development here means total, permanent destruction, with the earth itself removed. But European logic has gained a few tons of gravel with which more land can be "developed" through the construction of road beds. Ultimately, the whole universe is open--in the European view--to this sort of insanity.

Most important here, perhaps, is the fact that Europeans feel no sense of loss in all this. After all, their philosophers have despiritualized reality, so there is no satisfaction (for them) to be gained in simply observing the wonder of a mountain or a lake or a people in being. No, satisfaction is measured in terms of gaining material. So the mountain becomes gravel, and the lake becomes coolant for a factory, and the people are rounded up for processing through the indoctrination mills Europeans like to call schools.

But each new piece of that "progress" ups the ante out in the real world. Take fuel for the industrial machine as an example. Little more than two centuries ago, nearly everyone used wood--a replenishable, natural item--as fuel for the very human needs of cooking and staying warm. Along came the Industrial Revolution and coal became the dominant fuel, as production became the social imperative for Europe. Pollution began to become a problem in the cities, and the earth was ripped open to provide coal whereas wood had always simply been gathered or harvested at no great expense to the environment. Later, oil became the major fuel, as the technology of production was perfected through a series of scientific "revolutions." Pollution increased dramatically, and nobody yet knows what the environmental costs of pumping all that oil out of the ground will really be in the long run. Now there's an "energy crisis," and uranium is becoming the dominant fuel.

Capitalists, at least, can be relied upon to develop uranium as fuel only at the rate which they can show a good profit. That's their ethic, and maybe they will buy some time. Marxists, on the other hand, can be relied upon to develop uranium fuel as rapidly as possible simply because it's the most "efficient" production fuel available. That's their ethic, and I fail to see where it's … [more]
russellmeans  1980  writing  oraltradition  lakota  thinking  abstraction  indigeneity  genocide  resistance  marxism  culture  outsiders  education  unschooling  deschooling  leftism  anarchism  johnlocke  adamsmith  descartes  physics  politics  economics  christianity  religion  efficiency  spirituality  complexity  hegel  karlmarx  materialism  isaacnewton  dehumanization  despiritualization  progress  development  victory  freedom  loss  indoctrination  schools  schooling  scientism  rationalism  capitalism  redistribution  truth  revolution  society  industrialization  sovietunion  china  vietnam  order  indigenous  alternative  values  traditions  theory  practice  praxis  westernism  europe  posthumanism  morethanhuman  rationality  belief  ideology  nature  survival  extermination  whiteness  whitesupremacy  community  caucasians  deathculture  isms  revolt  leaders  idols  leadership  activism  words  language  canon  environment  sustainability 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
From Bureaucracy to Profession: Remaking the Educational Sector for the Twenty-First Century
"In this essay, Jal Mehta examines the challenges faced by American schooling and the reasons for persistent failure of American school reforms to achieve successful educational outcomes at scale. He concludes that many of the problems faced by American schools are artifacts of the bureaucratic form in which the education sector as a whole was cast: “We are trying to solve a problem that requires professional skill and expertise by using bureaucratic levers of requirements and regulations.” Building on research from a variety of fields and disciplines, Mehta advances a “sectoral” perspective on education reform, exploring how this shift in thinking could help education stakeholders produce quality practice across the nation."

[full article in .pdf: https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/33063300/Mehta_--_From_Bureaucracy_to_Profession_--_HER_2013.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y ]
jalmehta  us  schools  schooling  scale  bureaucracy  skill  edreform  education  publicschools  professions  policy  institutions  cynicism  johntaylorgatto  pisa  assessment  singapore  finland  korea  southkorea  canada  lindadarling-hammond  expertise  professionalization  teachers  teaching  howweteach  pedagogy  management  teachertraining  responsibility  standards 
october 2019 by robertogreco
What’s Happening In Sweden? – Bella Caledonia
"When it comes to making absurd exaggerations about this country to suit their beliefs, they are latecomers. If Sweden occupies an outsized position in the dystopian geography of the nativist right, this is derivative, a sacrilegious inversion of the role it has held for generations in the belief system of their progressive opponents.

It seemed harmless enough, a few years back, when no one talked about ‘fake news’ – but actually, what’s the difference between taking a small local experiment and blowing it up into a story about a whole country switching to a six-hour day, and taking a few local incidents involving immigrants and blowing these up into a story about a whole country where law and order is breaking down? The content is different, sure, and the consequences darker, but the basic pattern is the same."
sweden  dougladhine  myths  socialism  democracy  history  socialsafetynet  2019  bureaucracy  immigration  nationalism  whitesupremacy  arms  weapons  andrewbrown  dominichinde  scandinavia  nordiccountries  welfarestate  chile  pinochet  austerity  schools  schooling  education  privatization  markets  capitalism  labor  work  misinterpretation  england  uk  military  neutrality  foreignpolicy  coldwar  wwii  ww2  exceptionalism  modernity  socialdemocrats 
october 2019 by robertogreco
/text: A Good Education
"Laws which harm parents for not forcing their children to attend school share a premise. The premise is that making children spend most of their waking hours navigating a numbers-driven bureaucracy will make them competent adults. These laws also beg a shared question: they imply (without evidence) that these bureaucratic skills are good, because living to serve bureaucracies is good.

I’m saying systems of education are miserable. In order to see and avoid this misery, we need only believe the promise of a liberal education: by understanding the workings of the world, you understand yourself. The converse—that by understanding yourself, you understand the workings of the world—is also true.

As a kid I retreated from boredom and social pains by reading. For twenty years, I’ve read books at least a few hours per week. After reading and writing independently for over a decade, I attended a small school in which people habitually read, discussed, and wrote about books. After these experiences, I believe the most reliable method of educating yourself is to regularly read books and talk about them with others. To concentrate and clarify these efforts, it’s good to get in the habit of writing down your thoughts. In conversations and in your writing, communicate as precisely as you can. Finally: you must not to be forced to do any of this.

A person can lift weights in a gym in order to move more capably outside—in a more complex, unpredictable, and exciting environment. In a similar way, one can regularly visit the place created by reading a story, having a conversation, or constructing an argument. What does visiting that place produce? A self-driven education with a small community makes you more capable of social care and political decision-making. If systematized schools make obedient citizens (consumers), a curiosity driven education makes people full. In this fullness—a private, powerful feeling—a person is ready to act and judge according to their chosen ethical commitments. A self-educated person prefigures a free person.

To learn, you don’t need to read books: learning is constant, physical. A peasant farmer without access to written knowledge will be deeply knowledgeable about what is at stake for his living. Yet some skills and habits enrich a person’s understanding of their behavior, as well as their ability to sense and appreciate what’s in front of them—two capacities useful in every situation. This enrichment is optional. In fact, it’s often harmful (think of Simone Weil, motivated by reading, working in an automobile factory to better to better understand—to better feel—the living of the working class). Every good education is a risk, because wholeness is a risk. Industrialized culture abrades people, and undoing these abrasions makes one a threat to the continuing function of cultural machines.

Some encouragement to feel whole:

Books

Read mostly books. They’re burdensome for their authors, demanding more skin in the game. (If you can tell a text was written for money, don’t read it.) If a book has been in print in various forms for hundreds or thousands of years, it’s likely to stay in print just as long; this can be a criterion for what texts you prioritize. Canonical books needn’t be “Great Books”, but they are influential books; they account for much of the society we’re sitting in. And don’t trust critics: influential books are necessarily weirder and more nuanced than they’re represented to be.



Conversations

Conversations are not arguments, though are made of them (and jokes). A good conversation is surprising and helpful for all its participants; don’t leave anybody behind. The most useful move in a conversation is called “the principle of charity”: summarizing someone’s argument, checking with them to make sure you’re being fair. Ideally, you help them make the best possible version of their argument, and then argue otherwise. Ignore claims that what you’re reading is “just” this or “just” that; not one thing is just one thing. A rule of thumb: if you’ve worked together to ask good questions, you’ll have learned something.



Reading

Read what you want to read, not what you should. Though frustration—challenge—is necessary to becoming better. Rereading a book is extremely useful; reading slowly is extremely useful. If you love a book written first in another language, read multiple translations. In general, try to see how a book’s parts connect, using as many parts as possible. Reading aloud is good (for most of history, people automatically spoke the words they read). Finally, quantities—of books and pages read; of points refuted; of authors collected on your bookshelf—don’t mean shit.



Ethics

It’s useful to understand arguments which piss you off and disgust you; understand, then moralize. No life is lesser because they haven’t read what you’ve read. Plus, if you can’t teach it, you probably don’t understand it. If reading about a topic doesn’t seem helpful enough, the quickest and most thrilling way to learn about something is to make it. (If you want to learn about a plant, grow it; if you want to know how a sonnet works, write one; if you want to learn about labor struggles, join in.) Though remember that many people don’t have the means to experiment this; most who self-educate are among the lucky. Do not think less of the unlucky. In fact, wholeness comes with thinking more of the unlucky—since the lucky have deprived them of the power to cultivate their own luck, and this deprivation has defined much of society. Think, too, of the silent.



Why?

Existence is testimony. Make time to listen.



Tools

Library cards are still free; libraries still loan out books; many libraries have computers with internet access; Wikipedia and most .pdf’s are light on data plans. If you can’t afford it, find a way. Asking for help is beautiful."
kenbauman  2018  education  unschooling  learning  howwelearn  libraries  wikipedia  tools  existence  testimony  listening  society  children  parenting  schools  schooling  compulsory  bureaucracy  reading  writing  self-directed  self-directedlearning  self-education  books  howweread  howwewrite  conversation  ethics 
september 2019 by robertogreco
When Access to Knowledge Becomes a Weapon | Roca Gallery
"Education in general, including architecture education, has been a point of heated discussion for over a decade. The role of the university, now a commodified environment thanks to the objectification of knowledge, has changed from a place for discussion and learning to a place where knowledge and even empathy have acquired a material value. As described by the media activist Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, “the privatization of the education system and the assault of the media on human intelligence are lessening the critical ability of the social brain.” Students incur lifetime debts in order to obtain an accreditation that will supposedly get them a job and open the doors to a certain quality of life. Sadly, this is mostly a mirage, with social disparities and cultural anxieties a constant in daily life. Ivan Illich wrote about this already in 1971, pointing out that “School is both the largest and the most anonymous employer of all.

Indeed, the school is the best example of a new kind of enterprise, succeeding the guild, the factory, and the corporation.”

Faced with this reality, many unconventional experiments emerging all over the world are subverting this status quo by adopting approaches that aim to recover the spirit of the “schools under trees,” a reference to the old notion that the shade provided by a few trees was enough to shelter a classroom. It was also Ivan Illich who wrote about the revolutionary potential of deschooling, and it is possible to see this potential in the many attempts to challenge and propose alternative education models for what a school should be.

Perhaps the most interesting of these initiatives are those that have no intention of becoming an institution or university. Test Unit in Glasgow is a summer school and events program exploring cross-disciplinary approaches to city development by introducing concepts like play, memory, cooperation, and care as inspirations for new learning methodologies. The absence of hierarchy is at the center of this program, enabling a process of learning by doing that is horizontal and multilateral, and in which both tutors and students learn from each other."
ethelbaraona  2019  alternative  education  altgdp  lcproject  openstudioproject  testunity  glasgow  berlin  floatinguniversity  architecture  design  unschooling  deschooling  ivanillich  trees  schools  schooling  schooliness  theconcretent  campusincamps  palestine  lejardinessentiel  brussels  gillykarjevsky  judithwielander  alexanderroemer  forests  nature  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching 
september 2019 by robertogreco
Nate ¯_(ツ)_/¯ on Twitter: "Seeing Dr. Kendi speak was a privilege. I was really hit with one simple phrase and woke up still thinking about it: Assimilationist ideas are racist ideas. And I'm left wondering about the times I have encouraged assimilati
"Seeing Dr. Kendi speak was a privilege. I was really hit with one simple phrase and woke up still thinking about it:

Assimilationist ideas are racist ideas.

And I'm left wondering about the times I have encouraged assimilation for the sake of my students surviving the system.

On one level I am fully invested in the transformation & revolution of the education system (& all other systems) so that nobody need assimilate to learn, grow, succeed. On another level, I know that it's not going to happen overnight, & I desperately want my students to survive.

And so rather than encouraging assimilation, how can I be encouraging resistance & resilience? I think it all starts with the self. Teachers need to be building up their students, helping them develop a strong sense of who they are, a strong LOVE for who they are.

In how many ways is our current school system still doing exactly what the Carlisle Indian Industrial School started? Still forcing Native students, immigrant students, Black students, all students of color to conform to White American/Euro standards. We must actively resist this"
2019  assimilation  teaching  howweteach  race  racism  resistance  resilience  identity  conformity  schools  schooling  ibramkendi 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Going Home with Wendell Berry | The New Yorker
[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/1150867868696772608 ]

[Too much to quote, so here’s what Anne quoted:]

“Lancie Clippinger said to me, and he was very serious, that a man oughtn’t to milk but about twenty-five cows, because if he keeps to that number, he’ll see them every day. If he milks more than that, he’ll do the work but never see the cows! The number will vary from person to person, I think, but Lancie’s experience had told him something important.”
via:anne  wendellberry  rural  slow  small  empathy  kindness  georgesaunders  relationships  neighbors  amish  care  caring  maintenance  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  culture  farming  agriculture  local  locality  place  trees  history  multispecies  morethanhuman  language  restorativejustice  justice  climatejustice  socialjustice  johnlukacs  environment  sustainability  kentucky  land  immigration  labor  work  gender  ownership  collectivism  conversation  lancieclippinger  god  faith  religion  christianity  submission  amandapetrusich  individualism  stewardship  limits  constraints  memory  robertburns  kafka  capitalism  corporations  life  living  provincialism  seamusheaney  patrickkavanagh  animals  cows  freedom  limitlessness  choice  happiness  davidkline  thomasmerton  service  maurytilleen  crops  us  donaldtrump  adlaistevenson  ezrataftbenson  politics  conservation  robertfrost  pleasure  writing  andycatlett  howwewrite  education  nature  adhd  wonder  schools  schooling  experience  experientiallearning  place-based  hereandnow  presence 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Search Results for “ Toxic Philanthropy” – Wrench in the Gears
[from “A Skeptical Parent’s Thoughts on Digital Curriculum” (via comments here: https://larrycuban.wordpress.com/2019/07/08/goodbye-altschool-hello-altitude-learning/ )

“Toxic Philanthropy Part Three: The Silicon Valley Community Foundation”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/04/toxic-philanthropy-part-three-the-silicon-valley-community-foundation/

“Toxic Philanthropy Part 2: Hewlett Packard Re-Engineers the Social Sector”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2018/11/25/toxic-philanthropy-part-2-hewlett-packard-re-engineers-the-social-sector/

“Toxic Philanthropy Part 1: Surveillance”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2018/11/18/toxic-philanthropy-part-1-surveillance/

“Philanthropy’s lesser known weapons: PRIs, MRIs and DAFs”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/04/philanthropys-lesser-known-weapons-pris-mris-and-dafs/

“Hewlett Packard And The Pitfalls Of “Deeper Learning” In An Internet Of Things World”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/07/07/hewlett-packard-and-the-pitfalls-of-deeper-learning-in-an-internet-of-things-world/

“Pay for Success Finance Preys Upon The Poor: Presentation at Left Forum 6/29/19”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/06/26/pay-for-success-finance-preys-upon-the-poor-presentation-at-left-forum-6-29-19/

“Alice & Automated Poverty Management”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/06/19/alice-automated-poverty-management/

“What About Alice? The United Way, Collective Impact & Libertarian “Charity””
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/06/09/what-about-alice-the-united-way-collective-impact-libertarian-charity/

“Home Visit Legislation: A Sales Pitch For Family Surveillance?”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/02/17/home-visit-legislation-a-sales-pitch-for-family-surveillance/

“Stanley Druckenmiller and Paul Tudor Jones: The Billionaire Networks Behind Harlem’s Human Capital Lab”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/26/stanley-druckenmiller-and-paul-tudor-jones-the-billionaire-networks-behind-harlems-human-capital-lab/

“Charter, Public Health, and Catholic Charity Interests Help Launch “Disruptive” Pay for Success Program”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/04/charter-public-health-and-catholic-charity-interests-help-launch-disruptive-pay-for-success-program/

“When “Community Foundations” Go Global (Or Coastal)”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/04/when-community-foundations-go-global-or-coastal/

“To Serve Man: It’s A Cookbook!”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/04/to-serve-man-its-a-cookbook/

“Silicon Valley’s Social Impact Deal Maker”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/04/silicon-valleys-social-impact-deal-maker/

“New Governors Pritzker and Newsom Set Up For Their ReadyNation Gold Rush”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2018/11/11/readynation-pritzker-and-newsom-get-ready-for-the-next-gold-rush/

“Too big to map, but I tried.”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2018/03/18/too-big-to-map-but-i-tried/

“Who Is Pulling The Muppet Strings?”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2018/01/14/who-is-pulling-the-muppet-strings/

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2017/09/20/when-someone-shows-you-who-they-are-believe-them-the-first-time/

“Smart Cities & Social Impact Bonds: Public Education’s Hostile Takeover Part II”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2017/07/13/smart-cities-social-impact-bonds-public-educations-hostile-takeover-part-ii/ ]
education  edtech  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charterschools  charity  siliconvalley  californianideology  surveillance  schools  hewlettpackard  internetofthings  data  privacy  children  poverty  policy  unitedway  libertarianism  stanleydruckenmiller  paultudorjones  disruption  socialimpact  gavinnewsom  governance  government  readynation  smartcities  privatization  schooling  publicschools  inequality  charitableindustrialcomplex  dianeravitch 
july 2019 by robertogreco
David F. Noble: A Wrench in the Gears - 1/8 - YouTube
davidnoble  power  education  progressive  corporatism  highered  highereducation  documentary  rules  schools  schooling  deschooling  unschooling  cv  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  activism  authority  abuse  academia  resistance  canada  us  lobbying  israel  criticalthinking  capitalism  experience  life  living  hierarchy  oppression  collegiality  unions  self-respect  organizing  humanrights  corporatization  luddism  automation  technology  luddites  distancelearning  correspondencecourses  history  creditcards  privacy  criticaltheory  criticalpedagogy  attendance  grades  grading  assessment  experientialeducation  training  knowledge  self  self-directed  self-directedlearning  pedagogy  radicalpedagogy  alienation  authoritarianism  anxiety  instrinsicmotivation  motivation  parenting  relationships  love  canon  defiance  freedom  purpose  compulsory  liberation 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Jonathan Kozol: Joe Biden Didn’t Just Praise Segregationists. He Also Spent Years Fighting Busing | Democracy Now!
[See also:

"Part 2: Jonathan Kozol on “When Joe Biden Collaborated with Segregationists”"
https://www.democracynow.org/2019/6/26/jonathan_kozol_on_when_joe_biden

and

"When Joe Biden Collaborated With Segregationists: The candidate’s years as an anti-busing crusader cannot be forgotten—or readily forgiven."
https://www.thenation.com/article/joe-biden-education-busing-opposition/

"Unlike Bernie Sanders, who recently proposed a Thurgood Marshall Plan for public education that calls for a renewal and expansion of desegregation plans by means of transportation, Biden still believes his original position was correct and, according to one of his aides, Bill Russo, sees no reason to revise it. No matter how he tries to blur the edges of his past or present beliefs, no matter how he waffles in his language in order to present himself as some kind of born-again progressive, Biden has not shown that he can be trusted to confront our nation’s racist past and one of its most urgent present needs.

As the mainstream media repeatedly reminds us, Biden is a likable man in many ways. Even his critics often speak about his graciousness. But his likability will not help Julia Walker’s grandkids and her great-grandchildren and the children of her neighbors go to schools where they can get an equal shot at a first-rate education and where their young white classmates have a chance to get to know and value them and learn from them, as children do in ordinary ways when we take away the structures that divide them."]
jonathankozol  2019  joebiden  racism  race  elections  2020  education  schools  schooling  busing  segregation  integration  fannielouhamer  thrurgoodmarshall  juneteenth  corybooker  desegregation  amygoodman  newyork  california  illinois  delaware  maryland 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | Let’s Hear It for the Average Child - The New York Times
"Parents, we ask you to hold your applause until the names of all the medal winners have been announced. When the ceremony is over and your child has not left her seat, though nearly every other kid is taking home ribbons and trophies and enough scholarship offers to make a real dent in the national debt, please take a few moments to congratulate the winners as they head off to their well-earned celebrations. Then we ask that you return to your seats. We have a few special achievements left to acknowledge.

To the student who does all the homework in his hardest subject and turns it in promptly, who studies diligently for tests and shows up at every before-school help session, who has never once read an online summary instead of the actual book and who nevertheless manages to earn no grade higher than a C: You have already aced the real tests. School is the only place in the world where you’re expected to excel at everything, and all at the same time. In real life, you’ll excel at what you do best and let others excel at what they do best. For the rest of your life, you will never again think of this C, but you’ll bring your character and your capacity for hard work to all your future endeavors.

To the student with friends scattered hither and yon, across grades and groups and genders: You may feel like an outsider at every insider gathering. You may wonder what it’s like to feel deeply enfolded within a group whose very membership confers identity. How easy it would be, you may think, to be told where to go and what to wear and whom to stand next to when you get there! In truth, membership in a group always feels provisional; insiders inevitably wonder if they’re the next to be cast out. But a gift for friendship that transcends circumstance, for recognizing kinship wherever it blooms? That gift will make the world your home.

To the student who sits in the back of the room with the chemistry textbook propped open and a library book tucked inside: You’ll have to learn chemistry, there’s no getting around it, but we revel in your love for the written word. In times of trial and worry, of disappointment and despair, a book will be your shield. Immersing yourself in a grand story will be a respite from your troubles, and a lifetime spent lingering over language will give you the right words when you need them yourself. No one writes a better love letter than a lifelong reader.

To the bench warmers and the water boys and the equipment managers who follow every play without getting a smudge on their pristine jerseys: We delight in your love for the game, and we salute your loyalty to the team. You may never score the winning goal or hit a walk-off home run or feel the exultation of your teammates as they carry you from the field, but you will know the pleasure of belonging, and you will be spared the sadness of fading glory, too. When you look back on these years, what you’ll remember is the pride of wearing that jersey, the privilege of supporting your team.

To the student who fled for the restroom on dissection day and took a zero in biology lab: It’s a great gift to love animals. When you can sit quietly in the presence of another creature, when you can earn a fearful animal’s trust, you are participating in the eons. Whatever it may seem to almost everyone else, this planet is a great breathing, vulnerable beast, and we are each of us only one of its cells. We celebrate the tender heart that has taught you this truth, so urgent and so easily overlooked.

To the student who bombed the history final because you stayed up all night talking to a friend whose heart is breaking: There is honor in your choice. You can make up the history lessons, but compassion is not a subject we offer in summer school. Today we rejoice for the A you’ve earned in Empathy, the blue ribbon you’ve won in Love.

To the daydreamer and the window-gazer, to the one who startles when called on by the teacher or nudged by a classmate, whose report card invariably praises your good mind but laments your lack of focus: We are grateful for your brown study. Here’s to the wondering reveries of the dreamers and the dawdlers, for the real aha! moments in life are those that cannot be summoned by will. They arrive by stealth during moments of idleness, creeping in while you’re staring out a window or soaking in the bathtub or just wandering aimlessly along.

Summer beckons, a great, green, gorgeous gift. We’ve already kept you far too long, so let us send you forth with just one last reminder of a truth that somehow you already understand, though school is not the place where you learned it:

Life is not a contest, and the world is not an arena. Just by being here, unique among all others, offering contributions that no one else can give, you have already won the one prize that matters most."
schools  awards  competition  children  schooling  education  learning  life  living  2019  margaretrenkl  trophies  summer  generalists  specialists  whatmatters  unschooling  deschooling  howwelearn 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Abraham Verghese and Denise Pope — How Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? - The On Being Project
"Ms. Tippett: So I always worry about when any conversation veers into the “kids these days” mode. But that’s not what we’re doing here. We are talking about how this matter of success and what it means has shifted in our lifetimes. Those of us who’ve been around for a little while perceive that, and Denise, you have actually studied that. You have put research to that. You started to see, when you started to look at this, that there’s a lot of hyperactive attention to success in terms of academic achievement, study habits, classroom discipline, peer culture — dropout rates would be the opposite, and, as you said, just about no serious attention to classroom experiences and the character of their intellectual engagement.

Ms. Pope: Yeah. I always start my talks out with “How do you define success?” And if I say it to students in a student assembly, without fail, usually, the top couple of answers are money, grades, test scores, where you go to college, something like that. And that’s been consistent, now, for 15 years.

And when I ask the same question to the parents — and usually, it is the parents of those kids, who are coming at the same school that night — it’s never that. Now, they could be lying; they don’t want to say “money,” when — but usually —

Ms. Tippett: “I want my kid to make a lot of money.” [laughs] Right.

Ms. Pope: No one’s going to stand up and say that out loud. But they say happiness, well-being, give back to society, love and be loved — really different from what we’re hearing from the kids.

Ms. Tippett: That’s interesting, isn’t it, because I would presume, and I think you would too, that they mean that. But what it points at, to me, is that we know how to teach these other things, and we invest in them — that, it’s what I perceive, that we have lost our sophistication about investing in those things, even if we believe them.

Ms. Pope: And I think it’s in the everyday little messages that schools send and that parents send. When you walk into schools, you see awards. One of the first things, when you walk into a school, is usually the trophy case. Sometimes you see pictures of kids with 4.0s on the wall. We publish honor students in the newspaper. The first thing a parent says when the kid walks in the door is, “How’d you do on the history test?” You’re sending those messages that external, extrinsic — grades, test scores — that’s what matters more. They’re posting their report cards on the fridge. They’re not posting their public service activities on the fridge. They’re not raving to grandma about that when they talk about SAT scores. So it’s happening — we’re sending the messages to these kids to produce that result."



"Ms. Pope: There’s definitely a corollary in education around relationships, because we know that when you feel that there’s someone who has your back, when there’s an adult you can go to if you have a problem, if your teacher truly cares about you, knows your name, knows who you are, knows how you learn, kids are more engaged. They do better. And that’s where we say, it isn’t rocket science. We know how to get kids to learn. We know that if you feel safe, and you feel like you belong, and you’re excited and engaged, you’re more likely going to learn than if you’re not. And it’s just, the whole system is getting in the way of those relationships and that learning being able to happen. So we work very concretely with schools: Can you change your bell schedule so that not everyone’s running around eight times a day? Can you have a later start so that kids can get more sleep, because they need it? Can you build time in for teachers and students to work together and meet and talk and have advisory? We know how to do this; it’s just really hard to break what — everybody in their life has been through 14, 12, 16 years of school that all look the same, and we’re talking about something that’s pretty different and scary, particularly for those schools that have those high-achieving kids, because if it ain’t broke, and we’re saying, no, no, no, it’s broke …

[laughter]

… it’s broke — it looks different. You might be getting good grades and getting them into college …"



"Dr. Verghese: I think that the real education of my life was all the failures. That is, really, what shaped me. So I began medical school in Ethiopia, actually, and a very nice school run by the British consul for East Africa. And then civil war broke out. So, suddenly, in the middle of my third year of medical school, I was adrift. And it was the worst thing that could’ve ever happened to me, I thought.

My parents had come here a little before that, reading the writing on the wall, and I joined them in New Jersey. And I could not get back into medical school, because I didn’t have an undergraduate degree. In most parts of the world, you go straight from high school to premed to medical school. And I began to work as an orderly. And I think it was the hardest part of my life. At the time, I thought this was really the pits. And I was working night shifts and sharing a car with my parents.

But I look back now, and if I have any sort of reputation in America, I think it’s come from the fact that I got to see what happens to the patient in the 23 hours and 57 minutes that the doctors are not in the room. I feel a great solidarity with my colleagues in nursing, nursing assistants. And I think that that “failure,” so to speak, turned out to be the biggest success. And I don’t want to go on, but I would say that almost everything I learned — and I hope undergraduates really listen to this; in fact, I know, Dr. Costanzo and others have a whole project around resilience and failures — that is really where your education comes. The rest of it is fluff.

Ms. Tippett: I’ll just say here that every time I get introduced like I did tonight, which was so gracious and beautiful, but it’s like, we live in this presentational culture. And every time, I cringe a little bit because I know the real story.

[laughter]

And it’s not that all of those credentials don’t matter, but the real story, it’s just full of more — most of the time, for many years, even the things that look like a success, eventually, often feel like failure so much of the time — or just very uncertain. And if I look at my résumé now, of my 20s, I walked into all of these adventures. And it looks so impressive, and I know that every single minute of every single day of all of those years, I was constantly second-guessing myself and wondering what I should be doing that would be better.

And I actually think this is one reason that friendship across generations is really important. I think it’s really a calling for this century because the wisdom of young adulthood, I think, is actually an urgency and an impatience and this longing and this aspiration to see the world whole and make it better. We want that. But there’s something so relaxing about living for a while and knowing in your body that life is long and knowing that there will be another side to whatever is happening. And so that’s really the experience you have of failure.

But I will say, the wisest people I’ve interviewed — and the most successful, I would say, in human terms — are not successful in spite of what’s gone wrong for them but because of how — not just how they have walked through that, but how they integrated it into their wholeness on the other side.

Mr. Feineh: Switching to the perspective of an employer or a mentor or a professor, what can each of those roles and people do to encourage alternate ways of thinking about success, more from the extrinsic to the intrinsic mode of viewing success?

Dr. Verghese: Well, maybe I’ll start and say that I actually think that my mentees are teaching me what success means because I think the millennials, they really have a much better sense of what’s important. And sometimes our generation complains about that, that this is just a job for them, not a calling. But, on the other hand, they are much more ready to put their family and their children first in a way that I regret that I didn’t do. And so I’ve learned from them to be flexible, to be much more concerned about their personal health than I think we were. So, I’m not sure that I impart as much to them as they impart to me.

But that said, I think a lot of — when I do impart things that are not strictly medical and career, it’s mostly about just relaxing and making sure that they’re enjoying the journey.
I have a very simple definition of success, which is, any day above ground is a good day …

[laughter]

… given the alternative, and I see plenty of that. So if you start with that premise, and it’s not hard to do in medicine, then literally every day is a good day. How can you not bring your best to it?

Mr. Feineh: And the last question I have here is from a young person who went to a competitive school in Palo Alto …

[laughter]

… and finds him or herself struggling to question what success looks like. “I feel like I have few role models. Even the three of you have successful careers that were explored in your introductions.” And this person is curious to hear your thoughts about career, mentorship-building, how to create some of these pipelines, and a final direct action to help students expand some of their opportunities.

Ms. Pope: We hear this question a lot from kids. There’s a couple of different answers. One is that people assume that there’s a straight and narrow path, that I knew when I was 18 that I was going to be sitting up here today. And I can tell you, absolutely not. I didn’t even think I should be up here with this guy, anyway, now. So I think that idea of a straight and narrow path is really outdated, and as a young person — so part of this is, your prefrontal cortex — getting into the medical side of things — is not fully developed. And the … [more]
kristatippett  denisepope  abrahamverghese  2019  education  unschooling  success  youth  colleges  universities  life  living  highered  highereducation  schooliness  schooling  school  resilience  presence  markrothko  parenting  motivation  extrinsicmotivation  workllifebalance  generations  agesegregation  careers 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Spadework | Issue 34 | n+1
"By the time I started organizing so much that it felt like a full-time job, it was the spring of 2016, and I had plenty of company. Around the country there were high-profile efforts to organize magazines, fast-food places, and nursing homes. Erstwhile Occupiers became involved in the Bernie Sanders campaign and joined the exploding Democratic Socialists of America, whose members receive shabby business cards proclaiming them an “official socialist organizer.” Today’s organizers — not activists, thank you — make clear that they are not black bloc participants brawling with police or hippies plotting a love-in. They are inspired by a tradition of professional revolutionaries, by Lenin’s exhortation that “unless the masses are organized, the proletariat is nothing. Organized — it is everything.” Organizing, in other words, is unembarrassed about power. It recognizes that to wield it you need to persuade untold numbers of people to join a cause, and to begin organizing themselves. Organizing means being in it to win.

But how do you win? Historical materialism holds that crises of capitalism spark revolts, perhaps even revolutions, as witnessed in the eruption of Occupy and Black Lives Matter; uprisings in Spain, Greece, and Egypt; and the British student movement against tuition fees. But there’s no guide for what happens in the long aftermath, as the left has often learned the hard way.

In previous moments of upheaval and promise the left has often turned to Antonio Gramsci, who sought to understand why working-class revolts in Europe following the Russian Revolution had led to fascism. Gramsci concluded that on some level people consent to subservience, even take it for granted, when the order in which they live comes to seem like common sense. Hegemony was subtler than outright coercion, more pervasive, permeating the tempos of daily life.

It was hegemony, Stuart Hall argued in 1983, that was key to understanding the disappointment of his own generation — why Thatcher and the new right had triumphed in remaking common sense after a decade of labor union revolt. Hegemony shaped how people acted when they weren’t thinking about it, what they thought was right and wrong, what they imagined the good life to be. A hegemonic project had to “occupy each and every front” of life, “to insert itself into the pores of the practical consciousness of human beings.” Thatcherism had understood this better than the left. It had “entered the struggle on every single front on which it calculated it could advance itself,” put forth a “theory for every single arena of human life,” from economics to language, morality to culture. The domains the left dismissed as bourgeois were simply the ones where the ruling class was winning. Yet creating hegemony was “difficult work,” Hall reminded us. Never fully settled, “it always has to be won.”"



"The Thatcherite project was since then much advanced, and we had internalized its dictates. For our whole lives we had learned to do school very well; in graduate school we learned to exploit ourselves on weekends and vacations before putting ourselves “on the market.” Many of us still believed in meritocracy, despite learning every day how it was failing us. The worse the conditions of academic life became, the harder everyone worked, and the harder it became to contest them. Plus, we were so lucky to be there — at Yale! Compared to so many grad students, we had it good, and surely jobs were waiting on the other side for us, if for anyone. Who were we to complain? Organizing a union of graduate students at Yale seemed to many like an act of unbearable privilege — a bunch of Ivy League self-styled radicals doing worker cosplay."



"Realizing that it was not enough for people to like me was revelatory. I had to learn to be more comfortable with antagonism and disagreement, with putting a choice in front of people and letting them make it instead of smiling away tension and doing the work myself. I had to expect more from other people. With other organizers, I role-played the conversations I feared most before having them; afterward, I replayed them over and over in my head. I struggled to be different: the version of myself I wanted to be, someone who could move people and bend at least some tiny corner of the universe.

It’s not easy to be the site of a battle for hegemony. It’s not a beatific Whitmanesque “I contain multitudes”; it’s an often painful struggle among your competing selves for dominance. You have one body and twenty-four hours in a day. An organizer asks what you’ll do with them, concretely, now. You may not like your own answer. Your inner Thatcherite will raise its voice. You can’t kill it off entirely; you will almost certainly find that it’s a bigger part of you than you thought. But organizing burrows into the pores of your practical consciousness and asks you to choose the part of yourself that wants something other than common sense. It’s unsettling. It can be alienating. And yet I also often felt I was finally reconciling parts of myself I’d tried to keep separate — what I thought, what I said, what I did. To organize, and to be organized, you have to keep in mind Hall’s lesson: there is no true or false consciousness, no true self that organizing discovers or undoes. You too, Hall reminds us, were made by this world you hope to change. The more distant the world you want to live in is from the world that exists, the more deeply you yourself will feel this disjuncture. “I’m not cut out for this,” people often say when they struggle with organizing. No one is: one isn’t born an organizer, but becomes one."



"The relationality of organizing is maybe the hardest thing to understand before you’ve done it. But it is the most important. This is not because people are governed by emotions instead of reason, though they sometimes are. It’s because the entire problem of collective action is that it’s rational to act collectively where it’s not to act alone. And you build the collective piece by piece.

Organizing relationships can be utopian: at their best, they offer the feminist dream of intimacy outside of romance or family. In the union, I loved people I did not know very well. In meetings I was often overcome with awe and affection at the courage and wisdom of the people there with me. I came to count many of the people I organized with as my dearest friends. When I needed help, there were always people I could call, people who would always pick up the phone, people I could and did talk to about anything. These relationships often served as a source of care and support in a world with too little of those things. But they were not only friendships, and not only emotional ballast. The people I looked to for support would also push me when it was called for, as I would them; that, I knew, was the deal.

Our relationships forged the practical commitments to one another that held the union together. They made us accountable to each other. They were difficult and multifaceted, often frustrating, intensely vulnerable, and potentially transformative but no less prone than any other relationship to carelessness, hurt, and betrayal, and always a lot of work. We were constantly building them and testing their limits, pushing each other harder the closer we got. They had to bear a lot of weight. In more abject moments, I wondered whether they were anything more than instrumental. More often, though, I wondered what was so menacing about usefulness that it threatened to contaminate all else.

The word comrade, Jodi Dean argues, names a political relationship, not a personal one: you are someone’s comrade not because you like them but because you are on the same side of a struggle. Comrades are not neighbors, citizens, or friends; nor are they any kind of family, though you might call them brother or sister. The comrade has no race, gender, or nation. (As one meme goes: “My favorite gender-neutral pronoun is comrade.”) Comrades are not even unique individuals; they are “multiple, replaceable, fungible.” You can be comrades with millions of people you have never met and never will. Your relationship is ultimately with the political project you have in common. To many noncommunists, Dean readily admits, this instrumentalism is “horrifying”: a confirmation that communism means submitting to the Borg. But the sameness of the comrade is a kind of genuine equality.

Being an organizer is like being a comrade in some ways but different in others. The people you organize alongside may be comrades, but the people you are organizing often aren’t; the point of organizing, after all, is to reach beyond the people who are already on your side and win over as many others as you can. So you can’t assume the people you organize share your values; in fact, you should usually assume they don’t. This means that unlike comrades, organizers aren’t interchangeable. It matters who you are. McAlevey’s theory of the organic leader is that people have to be organized by people they know and trust, not by strangers who claim to have the right ideas. The SNCC looked for “strong people” — not necessarily traditional leaders, but people who were respected and trusted among their peers, on the logic that people would only take risky political action alongside people they trusted. When organizers reflect the people they organize, they win: when women of color organize other women of color, a 2007 paper by Kate Bronfenbrenner and Dorian Warren shows, they win almost 90 percent of elections. This cuts both ways: when women and people of color led the organizing in my department, we often struggled to get white men to take us seriously.

Yet the comradely element of organizing can also open up space for building relationships with people beyond those boundaries. It’s not that class and race and gender disappear, transcended by the cause — … [more]
alyssabattistoni  organizing  academia  academics  highereducation  highered  2019  labor  work  unions  thatcherism  reaganism  margartthatcher  communism  ronaldreagan  capitalism  meritocracy  hegemony  stuarthall  busyness  antoniogramsci  comrades  relationships  relationality  utopia  hierarchy  instrumentalism  equality  leadership  politics  class  race  gender  school  schooliness  schooling  transcontextualism  transcontextualization 
may 2019 by robertogreco
"The Ideal Education" - Sir Ken Robinson with Sadhguru - YouTube
"Someone said that education is a necessary evil. It is a necessary evil because there is a resident evil in the world. We have very convoluted aspirations. In the sense, largely, most part of the education is trying to manufacture cogs for the larger machine that we have built. Our children are the fuel unfortunately. We have to put them into some slot where they'll function well. And when we say the work, the world is no more about people. The world is about the economic engine that we are driving. It's become bigger than us. We have to keep the engine going. We are scared to stop it for a moment. We have to keep going. Now the problem is this that we have created a world if our economies fail we will be depressed. If our economies succeed we will be damned for good. I feel it's better to be depressed.

Now talking about the school as a way of manufacturing cogs for the machine, there are many ways to do it. Every nation has its own system. If I have to shape you into a particular shape that you must fit into a particular machine, it's a cruel process. But now we can't let the machine fail, it needs spare parts. Constantly it has to absorb and humanity is the spare parts. So our children are the fuel and the machine parts which go into this to run the larger machine. That's one aspect.

So this is why I have addressed education in three different dimensions, which people around me are still trying to grasp why these three different things? There is one form of education which is called Isha Vidhya, I think they might have showed something about that. This is for the rural masses in India where the problem is they are in a economic and social pit which they cannot get out by themselves. The only ladder for them is education. Employment generating education. But there are reasonably well-to-do people where they might have gone through that in the previous generation, but this generation need not think about how to earn my living. They have to look at how to expand who they are. So we have Isha Home School which caters to that. Because this kind of education costs money. So only people who can afford it can do that. Costs money means not like how it costs here, by Indian standards it costs money. And there is another form of education, where people are not interested in serving this machine or that machine, they want individuals to blossom, so we have Isha Samskriti where there is no academic education of any kind. They only learn music, dance, art, Sanskrit language, Kalari, which is a very .. the mother of all martial arts and classical dance, classical music, yoga, English language as a passport of the world.

So these children are a treat to watch. This is how children should have been. Just to give you a glimpse of what it is, at the age of fifteen, for three years, they go into monastic life. Compulsorily they must go and compulsorily they must come out at eighteen. They cannot continue. They'll take monastic life for three years, but after three years, they cannot continue, they have to discontinue that and get back to normal life. This is for discipline and focus. So I was to initiate this fifteen year olds and you know these sixty days, they are going through, from morning 3:30 to 9:00 in the evening, they are going through almost eight hours of meditation, varieties of Sadhana completely silent for sixty days, fifteen year old kids, totally silent. So I want to .. just another five days left for the initiation, I want to see how they are and I go there at 3:30 in the morning to see them. All these kids are just sitting like this unmoving. I just looked at them and they were literally glowing. I sat there and wept because I have never seen children like this in my life. Definitely I was not like this when I was fifteen. I was nowhere near what they are today but you can't make the entire world like that.

This is an ideal to work towards. The idea of this kind of schooling is just to develop human body and human brain without any intention. Without any intention as to what they should become. They can become whatever they want. Only thing is human body and human mind should grow to its fullest capability and attention is the main thing. An indiscriminate and unprejudiced attention is what we're trying to evolve in the children, that they learn to pay attention to everything the same way. That you don't divide the world as something as good and something as bad, something high, something low, something divine, something devil, something filthy, something sacred. No, you learn to pay the same attention to everything. This is the fundamental of this form of education. What will they do, what will they do is the aspiration, so I guaranteed them one thing. Twelve years, if you enter the school, the commitment is for twelve years. You have to.. six if you come, eighteen you can leave. So they asked me what will the children do. I said one thing I'll assure you, we will not give you a certificate at the end.

They said 'Sadhguru, what?' I said, 'Did anybody ask me what is my certification?' Only in the American embassy they asked me, you know when I almost .. about.. twenty years ago, or eighteen years ago when I went to apply for the visa to come to United States, the counsel general wanted to meet me. She was a lady. I went to meet her and she said, "Yes I know what you have done and all this but do you have a yoga certification because in America, you will need this." I said, "If I had asked for a certification from my guru, he would have killed me, so I don't have." So I said no certification because doors in the world may open little slowly for you, but when they open, they stay open. Because not because of qualification, but by competence you open doors."
unschooling  education  society  sadhguru  kenrobinson  2017  learning  children  schooling  schooliness  unlearning  certification  economics  politics  life  living  perfectionism  death  schools  purpose  depression  attention 
may 2019 by robertogreco
My Childhood in a Cult | The New Yorker
"To people who grew up in more ordinary circumstances, my childhood sounds exotic, scandalous, and fascinating. Cults are fascinating—but one thing the Manson Family and the Lyman Family have in common is the banality of daily life inside these worlds. If you live in a large group of people, there are always dishes to wash and heaps of laundry to hang up to dry. The travel plans for Venus took place against a backdrop of these everyday chores. As I like to say when I tell people about my background, “It wasn’t all acid and orgies.” (Acid was used by adults, as a tool for spiritual growth. To my knowledge, there were no orgies.) What I don’t always say is that I also had a happy childhood, or, anyway, parts of one. The young Family members sang together almost every day as we harvested strawberries or corn—Woody Guthrie songs, or folk songs like “Down in the Valley.” We foraged in the woods for morel mushrooms. Fishing was big, and every time an adult caught a bluefish or a bass I pasted one of the scales in my diary. We had dogs, goats, cows, chickens, a Shetland pony named Stardust, and a cockatiel named Charles. Older kids read younger kids stories before bed—“The Chronicles of Narnia,” “A Wrinkle in Time”—and we fell asleep in piles, three or four to a bed.

Even the mystical stuff had a mundane quality for those of us who didn’t know anything else. The Ouija board, for instance, was a regular part of our lives. Shelves were lined with notebooks containing transcriptions of the conversations adults had had with various spirits. We kids were allowed to talk to only one spirit, Faedra, and sometimes after dinner we’d gather around the board to summon her. The Ouija board was hand carved, the woodgrain beautifully polished, the pointer covered in purple velvet. Only the older kids were allowed to ask questions, and our eyes would be glued to the pointer as it slid over the smooth surface, gaining momentum, the low swish of felt on wood the only sound as we held our breath for answers. One night, one of the questions was “What does Guinevere need to learn?” The answer came back that I was a lazy little girl. After that, I cleaned every ashtray in the compound for weeks, ashamed but also secretly thrilled that Faedra even knew who I was.

It might make sense, then, that when I was told I had to leave the Family, in 1979, I begged to stay, tears streaming down my face. That night, August 25th, I wrote in my diary, “I am totally stunned and heartbroken. I am speechless. . . . I can’t live away from everything I love. I can’t sleep tonight, nothing. . . . But I swear to god I am coming back and I will be the same person. I will fight the world and get back where I belong.” Even now, it’s hard for me to write about the Lyman Family. It’s been four decades since I begged to stay, and I still care what they think."



"Then came a new frontier: school. I was nervous (because, you know, the soul thing). But I was excited, too. Accustomed to being surrounded by dozens of kids my own age, I had been cooped up in my grandmother’s house for two months. I was dying for people. I was wearing green velour bell-bottoms and a blouse with big purple flowers on it, both prized items I had sewn myself. My hair hung down to the small of my back, and I brushed it until it shone."



"Years later, when I visited the Lyman Family’s compound on Martha’s Vineyard, I noticed how everyone I grew up with looked into one another’s eyes, always. It all seemed perfectly normal again.

I was eighteen at the time. I had been out in the world for six years. In high school, I had effectively erased any signs of my childhood—I didn’t talk about it, and that made life so much simpler. A year after I left the Family, one of the more powerful adults had written me a letter. “I want you to know that you are always welcome here and that everyone misses you,” it said. A letter I received a few weeks later explained, “We work at it, striving for inner consciousness, self development on the inside instead of the outside. This life we live is not for everyone, only if you have Mel inside of you. ” When I was about to go off to college, I wrote to the Lyman Family to ask if I could visit before I went. The members welcomed me warmly, and I spent a glorious few days there. Slowly, people in the Family encouraged me to stay with them instead of going to college: this was home, they said, where I belonged. I did feel as if I were home, and, after a day or two, I thought I might not go to college after all. These people really knew me. They looked into my eyes."



"I went off to Sarah Lawrence, where I discovered that an ironic inversion had taken place. When I was in high school, I effectively erased my past; at college, my background became a valuable commodity. Everyone there tried to outdo one another with his or her wild backstories. Mine inevitably won. When people asked me where I was from and I grew circumspect, my best friend would egg me on: “Tell them about the Moonies! Tell them about the Moonies!” He couldn’t wait to see their reaction to my stories."



"For the cult members who’ve survived over the decades, it’s possible that the ideals they started with have given way to the demands of their daily lives, to the buffeting effects of the larger culture, to the familiarity of routine. Or maybe they just haven’t been found out.

There will always be people in search of what cults have to offer—structure, solidarity, a kind of hope. In the back yard of our Los Angeles compound, the adults built a wooden pyramid, big enough to hold about twenty kids, small stilts raising it a few feet off the ground. The smell of blooming jasmine surrounded us as we climbed into it at night, sat cross-legged in a circle, and sang one note all together. We would do this for hours. There were skylights in the ceiling, and we stared up at the stars as we sang. I loved those moments, holding on to the note until I thought my lungs would burst, then taking a deep breath and starting again. It felt as if we were one being, and we were proud of that. Most of all, we hoped that the spaceships could hear us, and that they would be summoned at last."
childhood  cults  belief  school  schooling  identity  2019  children  guinevereturner 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Isabel Rodríguez on Twitter: "I am more and more convinced that our thinking in education should move away from improving learning to an imperative to respect the rights of children and young people, combat all forms of discrimination and violence agains
"I am more and more convinced that our thinking in education should move away from improving learning to an imperative to respect the rights of children and young people, combat all forms of discrimination and violence against them, and rethink how we organize life and work. 1/

Not that improving learning is not important, but regardless of how we define and measure it, it is secondary to the well-being and status of children and young people in our societies. 2/

As matter of justice, educational results should not be used to justify, normalize and maintain inequality in income and status. Regardless of our education, all human beings are entitled to a life with dignity and to be regarded as equals. 3/

As a matter of justice, educational results should not be used as an excuse to deny a voice to those deemed as uneducated in the matters affecting their lives. 4/

As a matter of justice, education should not be used to normalize the practice of denying consent to those deemed as uneducated and to all marginalized populations in the matters affecting their lives. 5/

As a matter of justice, we must acknowledge that poverty has not much to do with education and much to do with power imbalances and structures of protection and access to land and other resources. 6/

And we must acknowledge that in order to maintain all forms of inequality and violence, they must first be learnt and normalized through the treatment of children at home and at schools.

If you want to learn more about this, you can follow @TobyRollo. 7/

Learning is important, no doubt about it, but it is not everything. At the end of the day, what we need more is about being more humane. Our priorities should be clear. 8/
https://www.holocaustandhumanity.org/about-us/educational-philosophy/

Can we do both? Absolutely, but ultimately, we should be willing to respect the full equality, dignity and consent of those choosing not to learn what we deem as important they should learn. 9/

We should also be willing to respect the full equality, dignity and consent of what kids choose to learn according to their own purposes, interests, rhythms and talents. 10/

And this may seem too far out, but let's think about what this means in terms of how neurodiversity, linguistic diversity, cultural diversity, and disabilities are crushed and disrespected on a routine basis. 11/

Let's think about how interests, needs, rhythms and expressions falling outside of what school requires are punished routinely. 12/

Some people argue that by respecting the consent of children, we risk having them not learn what they need. But this is a slippery slope.... 13/

Once we accept that we can violate the right of children to consent and a differential treatment on an arbitrary basis, we normalize and facilitate the violation of their rights in other scenarios and with the use of arbitrary norms. 14/

Finally, if we are serious about moving away from the abuse of standardized tests and about decoupling education from the needs of markets.... 15/

We must be willing to stop defining accountability in terms of learning measurements and instead define it in terms of how students are treated and the resources and opportunities that are made available to them in order to learn according to their own purposes and needs. 16/

Currently, schools are not accountable to students, families and communities. Students are accountable to teachers and administrators, and teachers and administrators are accountable to authorities and big power brokers who don't have the best interests of students in mind. 17/

In order to transform the world outside school, we must rethink education. Alternatively, in order to rethink education, we must think about how we want to transform the world outside school. Both visions should match. Both visions should be adequate. 18/

And because in the world outside school, poverty is more a result of rights denied, power imbalances, structures of protection and access to land and other resources, and how we organize life and work... 19/

The treatment of children should prioritize the respect of their rights, granting them power, their access to resources, their access to learning according to alternative ways of organizing life and work, etc... 20/

And of course, this is especially important in the case of marginalized population whose oppression is based on the denial of power and resources. Teaching them that poverty is defined by lack of education is abusing and gaslighting them. 21/

A few more things, I almost missed... 22/

If we are serious about decoupling education from the needs of markets, learning should be about no other reason than for our own fun and pleasure as much as it should be about what we need to survive. 23/

And in this sense, the right to an education should be defined in terms of access to resources and opportunities to learn what individuals want and/or deem important according to their own purposes, and not in terms of forcing them to learn according to someone else's agenda. 24/

The erasure of what is not quantifiable and what is deemed as not important by conventional schools serves to maintain the lower status attached to activities performed by those considered as less educated. 25/

Such activities are performed disproportionately by women and marginalized populations. In many cases, within the domestic realm, these activities are not remunerated. 26/

But if we were all regarded as equals, all truly useful activities would be held in a similar status and acknowledged as what makes possible everyone else's jobs. So then again, there's no reason income differences should be so dramatic and justified by education. 27/

And it is the exploitation, discrimination and exclusion of many, that we should be centering in our thinking about education in connection to how we organize life and work. 28/

Enjoying being able to work with our hands and bodies, and enjoying being able to take care of others, should be regarded as a right, not as a sacrifice or as a punishment for losing in the game of school. 29/

Likewise, enjoying working in a science, technology, or in the arts, should also be regarded as a right, as perhaps a lifelong learning opportunity, and not as a reward for eliminating others in the game of school. 30/

Rights within communities where people collaborate and take care of each other, knowledge thought as a public good, not something privatized and individualized... 31/

Individual failures and accomplishments as belonging to the entire community, not rewards and punishments according to a competition where many are excluded, diversity, not standardization.

The end. 32/"
isabelrodríguez  2019  unschooling  education  learning  children  rights  discrimination  violence  children'srights  society  community  dignity  inequality  sorting  standardization  poverty  power  hierarchy  humanism  humanity  equality  consent  purpose  interests  deschooling  economics  schools  schooling  schooliness  communities  accountability  imbalance  diversity  rewards  punishment  competition  collaboration  collectivism  opportunity 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Intrinsic motivation in the classroom is key – but schools kill it
"Intrinsic motivators can be key to student achievement – but extrinsic motivation dominates classrooms"



"Destiny, 18, is like most students in the United States. Surveys reveal a steady decline in student engagement throughout middle and high school, a trend that Gallup deemed the “school engagement cliff.” The latest data from the company’s Student Poll found that 74 percent of fifth graders felt engaged, while the same was true of just 32 percent of high school juniors.

One of the key components of engagement is students’ excitement about what they learn. Yet most schools extinguish that excitement.

It all comes down to motivation. In many schools, students do their work because their teachers tell them to. Or because they need to do it to get a certain grade. For students like Destiny, getting a good grade and outshining their peers – not learning itself – becomes the goal of school. For other students, they need minimum grades to be on sports teams or participate in extracurricular activities or please their parents, and that becomes their motivation. Students who do their work because they’re genuinely interested in learning the material are few and far between.

But that’s exactly backwards.

The teacher demands, the grades, the promise of additional opportunities – they’re all external rewards. Decades of research, both about educational best practice and the way the human brain works, say these types of motivators are dangerous. Offering students rewards for learning creates reliance on the reward. If they becomes less interesting to the student or disappear entirely, the motivation does, too. That’s what happened to Destiny in middle school when she no longer got the reward of being celebrated as the top of her class.

Inspiring students’ intrinsic motivation to learn is a more effective strategy to get and keep students interested. And it’s more than that. Students actually learn better when motivated this way. They put forth more effort, tackle more challenging tasks, and end up gaining a more profound understanding of the concepts they study.

Still, Deborah Stipek, a Stanford University professor of education and author of the book “Motivation to Learn: From Theory to Practice,” is pragmatic about the role of extrinsic motivation.

“I think most realistic people in the field say that you’ve got to have both,” Stipek said. “You can rely entirely on intrinsic motivation if you don’t care what children learn, but if you’ve got a curriculum and a set of standards, then you can’t just go with what they’re interested in.”

The problem is that the balance, in most schools, is way off. While some schools around the country are trying to personalize learning and, in doing so, to tap into students’ interests, Stipek estimates that most teaching minimizes students’ internal desire to learn.

In traditional schools, it’s easier to offer a steady stream of rewards and punishments to keep students in line. And preparing students to succeed on state tests tends to discourage the lessons that let them explore their own interests. Teachers who want to inspire intrinsic motivation have to swim against the current.

That’s not the case everywhere, though. Destiny’s trajectory of diminishing engagement took a turn in high school. Instead of getting increasingly uninterested and disconnected from school, she became more engaged. That’s because she enrolled in the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center, a public high school district in Rhode Island that goes by ‘The Met.’ She is now a senior.

The Met is at the extreme when it comes to tapping into intrinsic motivation. Students don’t take traditional classes. They spend virtually all of their time learning independently, with support from advisors or at internships. Students all have individual learning plans and accumulate credits toward traditional subject areas through projects, self-directed study, internship experience and dual enrollment with local colleges. Almost everything they do, all day, connects to a personal goal or something they’re interested in.

That’s what inspired Destiny to enroll at The Met. “I thought, oh my God, I have all this power to choose what I want,” she remembers.

Education researchers have been studying student motivation for decades, identifying the best classroom strategies to promote an intrinsic drive to learn. The Met puts many of them to use. Students learn through real-world, hands-on problem-solving; they tackle open-ended assignments that require sustained effort; they get the power to choose what and how they learn; they finish projects with something to show for their learning in portfolios and concrete products; they set their own academic goals; they need never focus more on a grade than the process of learning because they don’t get traditional grades. All of these things come straight out of playbooks for inspiring intrinsic motivation, including Stipek’s. And the impact on students can be profound.

Destiny started high school with the academic zeal she left middle school with – meaning very little. Her freshman-year report card reflected that. While The Met doesn’t give out traditional grades, students do get assessed on their mastery of the goals they set for each subject. The dominant note on Destiny’s report card from ninth grade is “meeting expectations.” She had very few instances of “exceeding expectations” and in some subjects, her mastery was only “in progress.” In her sophomore year, things started to shift, and “exceeding expectations” started to become a more common assessment. By junior year, Destiny exceeded expectations in almost every subject and “in progress” was nowhere to be found on her report card. Gone was the middle schooler who didn’t want to be in class. In her place was a driven young woman who again liked school.

Destiny’s experience is common for Met students. On state surveys, these students report being more interested in their coursework, more convinced that what they’re learning will matter to their futures, and more supported at school than their peers in almost every other district in Rhode Island. She and other students at The Met continually bring the conversation back to how much difference it makes to be in control of their learning."



"It tends to take a little while for students to rise to the challenge, though.

Beccy Siddons, Destiny’s advisor, considers watching that trajectory to be one of the most exciting parts of her job. As the main contact for an “advisory” of about 16 students who stay with her for their entire time at The Met, Siddons guides students through their internships, all of their academic work and, eventually, their college applications.

“Ninth graders who have spent their whole life being told what to learn, some of them don’t even know what they’re interested in because they haven’t been given the opportunity,” Siddons said.

That was Destiny as a freshman. Her first internship was at an elementary school in a bilingual classroom, a safe, familiar choice for the native Spanish- and English-speaker. Looking back, she’s grateful that experience made her realize she didn’t like teaching. But at the time, she didn’t know what to try next. As a sophomore, she saw another student present about an internship at the New England Aquarium, and it piqued her interest. She first worked there as a junior and quickly discovered a deep love of sea life. She now has a favorite creature she didn’t even know existed before: the puffer fish. And she has a career interest she otherwise might not have found until college, if ever: environmental science.

Siddons routinely oversees such meandering paths, and a key part of her job is helping students discover passions they didn’t know they might have. The freshmen she welcomes to The Met are a far cry from the seniors she sends out into the world.

The early part of that transformation does take work, though. And while it isn’t typical for schools to orient themselves around intrinsic motivation, hundreds do attempt it. Next Generation Learning Challenges has grown into a network of about 150 schools, all of which focus on tapping into students’ intrinsic motivation in one way or another. The Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools represents 102 school districts doing similar work; EdLeader21 has another 300 districts, many of whom aim to inspire students’ intrinsic desire to learn. And the Big Picture Learning network, built around the success of The Met, now counts more than 60 schools in the U.S. (and another 100 abroad)."
instrinsicmotivation  motivation  schools  schooling  schooliness  extrinsicmotivation  grades  grading  2019  taragarcíamathewson  deborahstipek  education  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  rhodeisland  providence  deschooling  unschooling  deprogramming  interestdriven 
april 2019 by robertogreco
401(k)s, abortion, youth football: 15 things we do now that will be considered unthinkable in 50 years - Vox
[via: https://kottke.org/19/04/what-do-we-do-now-that-will-be-unthinkable-in-50-years ]

"Youth tackle football
Bosses
Eating meat
Conspicuous consumption
The drug war
The way we die
Banning sex work
401(k)s
Ending the draft
Facebook and Google
Abortion
Self-driving cars
Our obsession with rationality
Abandoning public education
The idea of a “wrong side of history”



"Some 50 years ago, in 1964, 42 percent of Americans smoked cigarettes. Smoking in bars and offices was normal and cigarettes were given to soldiers as part of military rations. Half of American physicians smoked. Ads for cigarettes bombarded the American public. That year, the surgeon general released a report outlining the health risks of smoking. Two years later, only 40 percent of Americans said that they believed smoking was a major cause of cancer.

Today, we know that smoking is bad for our health. We’ve banned smoking in most indoor public spaces. We stopped allowing tobacco companies to advertise and forced them to put warning labels on cigarette boxes. By 2001, 71 percent of the country said they recognized smoking was a major cause of cancer, and by 2017, the rate of smokers dropped to 14 percent. The habit is now looked at as a relic of the past, something we’ve come to accept as unquestionably harmful.

When we think about what common habits, social norms, or laws that are widely considered unthinkable in today’s world, a variety of past atrocities come to mind. We could point to bloodletting, Jim Crow-era segregation, and drinking and driving as being on the “wrong side” of history.

But what modern practices will we one day think of as barbaric? It’s a framework invoked frequently in political or scientific beliefs: Actor Harrison Ford recently said leaders who deny climate change are on the “wrong side of history.” President Barack Obama said Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine was on the “wrong side of history.” Filmmaker Spike Lee said that President Donald Trump himself is on the “wrong side of history.”

So what, by 2070 — some 50 years in the future — will join this group? We asked 15 thinkers, writers, and advocates to take their best guess.

Bioethicist Peter Singer says people will stop the habit of conspicuous consumption. “The ostentatious display of wealth, in a world that still has many people in need, is not in good taste. Within 50 years, we’ll wonder how people did not see that,” he writes.

Historian Jennifer Mittelstadt predicts that our volunteer army will be widely considered a mistake: “Fifty years from now Americans will observe with shock the damage to both foreign policy and domestic institutions wrought by our acceptance of an increasingly privatized, socially isolated, and politically powerful US military.”

For philosopher Jacob T. Levy, the very idea of there being a “wrong side of history” is wrong itself.

Other answers range from kids playing tackle football to expecting workers to invest in 401(k)s."
us  future  obsolescence  barbarity  draft  cars  self-drivingcars  retirement  saving  drugwar  football  americanfootball  conspicuousconsumption  capitalism  consumption  rationality  scientism  publiceducations  publicschools  schools  schooling  education  facebook  google  abortion  war  military  sexwork  death  dying  meat  food  howwelive  predictions  history  petersinger  kristatippett  jaboblevy  jennifermittelstadt  haiderwarraich  kathleenfrydl  meredithbroussard  chrisnowinski  adiaharveywingfield  bhaskarsunkara  horizontality  hierarchy  inequality  jacobhacker  economics  society  transportation 
april 2019 by robertogreco
What Makes a Fair College Admissions Process? | JSTOR Daily
"Move Away from Meritocracy
Nadirah Farah Foley

Especially in the wake of the recent news of a coordinated bribery scheme, many people seem to agree our selective college admissions process is broken. There is far less consensus, however, about why we think it’s broken, and what a better, fairer admissions process would look like. Some think that the process would be fair if it were conducted without special considerations for legacy students, development cases, or athletic recruitment. Others go further, focusing on the myriad mundane ways—aside from bribery and donations—that the system allows privileged people to leverage their resources to secure and perpetuate their advantages. But I contend the process is inherently unfair because it is based on meritocratic principles designed to produce unequal outcomes. A truly fair system would reject meritocratic logics and instead operate on the principle that high-quality education is not a reward for the few, but a right of the many.

Our current process, in which applicants are stratified into a hierarchical higher education landscape, takes a meritocratic ideology as its foundational premise. Meritocracy, the term popularized by British sociologist Michael Young’s 1958 The Rise of the Meritocracy, is typically imagined as a system in which all have equal opportunity to compete on a “level playing field” on the basis of “talent” and “ability,” and all are rewarded equitably based on their “merit.” While this system sounds fair at first blush, a meritocratic ideology poses two problems, either of which should be sufficient cause to critically question it, and perhaps abandon it entirely.

First, upholding meritocracy necessarily entails accepting and upholding inequality. In the case of college admissions, we currently have a system in which some schools have more resources, are more prestigious, and are deemed “better” than others, and those schools have limited seats. We try to allocate those seats “fairly,” on the basis of demonstrated past success and evaluations of future potential. It’s far from a perfect system, but we can rationalize it as ideologically consistent with a meritocratic ideal of equal opportunity and reward for individual talent, effort, and ability. But perhaps, rather than focusing on who “deserves” the “best” schooling, our societal commitment should be to making a high-quality education available to all. Such a commitment would require a rejection of the stratification and inequality presupposed by a meritocratic system and lead us to question whether a stratified society—and assignment to places in an unequal education system—could ever be just.

Second, even if one were inclined to find inequality and stratification acceptable, the reality is that we are so far from the ideals of equal opportunity and a level playing field that the unfairness is glaringly obvious. As sociologist Jonathan Mijs argues, opportunities for demonstrating merit are far from equally distributed. In the United States, where racial residential segregation and local control of schools combine to disproportionately relegate nonwhite (especially black) students to underfunded schools, the claim that anything approaching equal opportunity exists is laughable. Our emphasis on standardized tests, which have roots in racist, ableist, eugenicist science, evinces a narrow understanding of what intelligence is or could be. Holistic admissions evaluations, which provide necessary latitude to consider students’ contexts and lived experiences, also provide privileged applicants another opportunity to show off well-filled extracurricular profiles and essays carefully coached and edited by counselors and consultants. In sum, our current admissions process is—top to bottom—built to misrecognize privilege as “merit,” and thus advantage the already advantaged. To say wealthy white applicants are gaming the system belies the fact that they’re really just playing the game—a game in which only they have full access to the equipment. Perhaps the way to fix this is not to try to change the rules, but to stop playing the meritocratic game entirely.

If that seems a drastic proposal, let me try to convince you it’s a necessary one. We could try to work within the current system, striking the policies that are most obviously and egregiously unfair: legacy, donor admissions, early decision, recruitment of athletes in country club sports. While an improvement, this does nothing to address the fact that even with those components stripped out, the process still falls far short of fairness, because our very metrics of merit are skewed toward privilege. We could try to calibrate for disadvantage, but that’s essentially what holistic evaluation tries to do now—and it’s not enough. Meritocracy is an arms race, one in which the privileged are always better equipped.

We could, as many scholars have proposed, move toward a lottery, which would go a long way toward making explicit the role of luck in college admissions. But I’m concerned by the way some thinkers discuss a potential admissions lottery. Proponents of a lottery often suggest that there should be some baseline level of “merit” in order to enter the lottery. Such a formulation of the lottery doesn’t entail a rejection of our metrics of merit, meaning it would likely reproduce existing inequalities. To avoid that, a lottery would need to not use simple random selection, but instead be carefully calibrated to ensure the resulting class is not just representative of the pool (in which wealthy white students are overrepresented), but of graduating high school students. That could be achieved by assigning different weights to students depending on their background, or by using a form of stratified random selection, in which the applicant pool would be divided into smaller pools based on, for example, demographic factors, and a certain number of students would be accepted at random from each pool.

The lottery is an exciting idea, but one likely to run into legal challenges. And beyond that, it doesn’t do enough to address the unfairness inherent in our unequal education system. I think we need to go a step further than asking what constitutes a fair admissions process, and instead ask what constitutes a fair society. We should recognize that our college admissions process is merely holding a mirror up to our society, reflecting how competitive, individualistic, unequal, and unfair the United States is. A truly radical solution would require the reorganization of our entire class structure and the redistribution of resources, thus obviating the need for such a high-stakes college application process.

It seems that we cling to meritocracy as a way of clinging to some hope of a better life in an increasingly unequal world. But rather than investing our hope in a fairer admissions system, I think we should dream bigger, and invest our hope in a more just society—one in which we live in community rather than competition. That might look like taking up Harvard professor Lani Guinier’s call to emphasize “democratic merit,” or it might look like dispensing with merit—and its attendant acceptance of deserved inequality—entirely.

Everyone deserves access to education. A fair admissions system would have that as a core premise and reject ostensibly just, “meritocratic” inequalities."
juliepark  christineyano  nadirahfarahfoley  2019  admissions  colleges  universities  meritocracy  lottery  collegeadmissions  highered  highereducation  merit  inequality  academia  academics  education  school  schooling  us  firness  laniguinier  democracy  privilege  jonathanmills  race  racism  michaelyoung 
march 2019 by robertogreco
The Burden of ‘Parent Homework’ - The New York Times
"This is not about a parent helping with homework. It is work given from teacher to parent, passing directly over a child’s head."
homework  education  schools  parenting  2019  karenbarrow  schooling 
march 2019 by robertogreco
The Parasitic Reading Room | dpr-barcelona
"“[Books] can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.”

—Neil Gaiman
‘Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming.’ The Guardian, 2013

Aristide Antonas and Thanos Zartaloudis define ‘The Parasitic Council’ as that place “where a public space can be the plateau for the occupancy of a commonhold in order that it performs multiple parasitic functions of common use without claims to property.” Following this protocol of action and occupancy of the city, and connecting them with the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial ‘A School of Schools,’ dpr-barcelona and the open raumlabor university joined forces to set up a Parasitic Reading Room for the opening days of the IDB, in September 2018, a nomad, spontaneous and parasitic set of reading spaces that took place along the biennale venues and other spots in the city, with the intention to ‘parasite’ the event participants, visitors, ideas, contents and places, and to provoke a contagion of knowledge. The Parasitic Reading Room is a spontaneous school, made by reading aloud a selection of texts that are related with the biennale’s scope.

On his book Deschooling Society, Ivan Illich states that most learning happens casually, and training of young people never happens in the school but elsewhere, in moments and places beyond the control of the school. When claiming for the revolutionary potential of deschooling, Illich makes a call to liberating oneself from school and to reckon that “each of us is personally responsible for his or her own deschooling, and only we have the power to do it.” This is why the wide domain of academia needs to be challenged in radical and unexpected ways and we need to envision other spaces of encounter and knowledge exchange out of its walls. Similarly, Michael Paraskos rightly pointed on his essay The Table Top Schools of Art, that “we might well say that if four individuals gather together under a tree that is a school. Similarly four individuals around a kitchen table. Or four individuals in the café or bar. By redefining the school in this way we also redefine what it means to be a student in a school or a teacher.”

Perhaps the essential question at this point is what kind of readings should form this alternative bibliography on different pedagogical models, about other sources of knowledge, that come not only [but also] from the pages of our favourite books? This question can have multiple answers which all of them are to be intertwined, multi-connected, overlapped. Poems, films, instagram photos—and its captions—, songs, e-mail exchanges, objects, conversations with friends over a glass of wine or a coffee, dreams; we learn from all of them albeit [or often because] the hectic diversity of formats, and sometimes its lack of seriousness.

By reading aloud we share a space of intimacy, a time and place of learning not only from the contents, but from the nuances, the accents, the cadence of the reading. Abigail Williams called this ‘the social life of books,’ “How books are read is as important as what’s in them,” she pointed—we call it ‘the book as a space of encounters.’ This means spaces where different books coexist and enrich each other; books as the necessary space where the author can have a dialogue with the reader, where different readers can read between the lines and find a place of exchange, where to debate, and discuss ideas. Books and encounters as an open school.

If everywhere is a learning environment, as we deeply believe, and the Istanbul Design Biennial intended to prove by transforming the city of Istanbul into a school of schools, we vindicate the importance of books—be them fiction, poetry or critical theory—as learning environments; those spaces where empathy and otherness are stronger than ideologies, where we can find space to ‘parasite’ each other’s knowledge and experience and create an open school by the simple but strong gesture of reading aloud together.

Because, what is a school if not a promise?"

[See also:

"For the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial ‘A School of Schools,’ dpr-barcelona and the open raumlabor university will set up for the opening days of the IDB a Parasitic Reading Room, a nomad, spontaneous and parasitic set of reading spaces that will take place along the biennale venues and other spots in the city, with the intention of 'parasite' the event participants, visitors, ideas, contents and places, and to provoke a contagion of knowledge. 'The Parasitic Reading Room' is a spontaneous school, made by reading aloud a selection of texts that are related with the biennale's scope. As initial readings—that can be paratised afterwards—we have collected some remarkable texts about education, radical thinking, literature, and many other sources of knowledge, and published them at The Parasitic Reader 01 and The Parasitic reader 02. Feel free to parasite them as well and share them."
https://issuu.com/ethel.baraona/docs/parasitic_reader_01
https://issuu.com/ethel.baraona/docs/parasitic_reader_02

"Based on previous conversations around the topic in the frame of “Body of Us”, the Swiss contribution to the London Design Biennale 2018, the project’s curator Rebekka Kiesewetter has invited friends to continue the discussion around political friendship: dpr-barcelona, initiators of the “Parasitic reading room” [along with the Open raumlabor University] at the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial 2018; architect Ross Exo Adams, one of the contributors to Body of Us publication, and continent., the experimental publishing collective, initiators of “Reading Friendships Paris“ at Centre Culturel Suisse 2016. At this same venue, three years later, the stage opens for an edition of the “Parasitic Reading Room” and a reprise of “Reading Friendships”, an evening of readings, thinkings, creating and discussion. A collective reading in Paris on March 20th, 2019."
https://issuu.com/ethel.baraona/docs/friend_ships_reader ]
ethelbaraonapohl  césarreyesnájera  2019  reading  howweread  learning  informallearning  informal  sharing  books  bookfuturism  aristideantonas  thanoszartaloudis  deschooling  unschooling  ivanillich  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  michaelparaskos  libraries  multimedia  multiliteracies  intimacy  encounters  experience  howwelearn  schools  schooling  film  instagram  raumlabor  dpr-barcelona 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Malcolm Harris: College Admissions Scandal and Capitalism
"The idea that a high-achieving student is doing $100,000 worth of labor a year won’t be surprising to anyone who knows one. Without huge amounts of time and effort beginning at a young age, it’s incredibly hard to pull together the kind of résumé that’s needed in order to stand out to elite and competitive schools. These teens end up putting in so much labor that they are developing their specialized skills to professional levels before they finish high school. In some ways, the unmediated job market has lower standards than the most exclusive colleges do. The best child musicians and scientists and athletes are working very hard, and what they’re doing has value, too. We know it does, because their efforts are worth counterfeiting.

Student labor has a curious character. It’s unpaid, but the idea is that it will be compensated indirectly later. There are tests that are meant to validate kids along the way, including college admissions and ultimately the job market. A higher grade (in the broader but also in the specific, academic sense) is supposed to lead to a higher wage down the line, something everyone understands implicitly. The value from all that childhood work has to go somewhere; we can think of that place as a sort of internal battery that stores human capital, the skills and abilities that we put to work when we go to work. Counterfeit human capital is what William H. Macy and Mossimo Giannulli were allegedly buying for their kids: the appearance of skills and abilities that didn’t actually exist.

Human capital is an odd commodity because it’s inalienable. You can’t sell your ability to do 100 push-ups or your starting position on the soccer team or your Yale diploma. That means that workers can’t really be said to own their human capital, since it’s not transferable. It’s an abstract substance that can be weighed and compared, but also a relationship between workers and owners — that’s why companies can use it in place of “human resources.” Human capital belongs to workers, but only to be managed and exploited by employers. To monetize their abilities, workers need someone to hire or invest in them. (The number of workers who are able to save up their wages in order to start their own businesses is much smaller than we’re led to believe, and shrinking.) There is no fixed correlation between the accumulation of human capital and pay. You get paid to work, not to be smart.

Because no one is on the hook for compensating any particular young person for their hard work, there’s no reason to set a limit on how much of it they should do. The random distribution of talents and passions and the very predictable distribution of resources have left students with any number of ways to differentiate themselves from each other in the eyes of graders. An arms race arises as students are encouraged to try their hardest, to reach their full potentials, to use every advantage they have. We can see the scale of it in the forged applications: The aforementioned Yale admit claimed to be a nationally ranked soccer player in China, a nation of 1.4 billion people. The admissions committee had no reason not to believe it; I’m sure they see genuine applications like that all the time. There’s always someone who can try a little harder and stay up a bit later or whose parents can pay more. The level of competition gets higher and higher, and theoretically that’s great — as long as everyone eventually finds a job that will repay the investments they’ve made in their own capacities. You can see the problem.

The best thing you can do for your own future employment prospects is to invest in your human capital: learn to code or speak Mandarin or captain your sports team or whatever else the Aspen crowd wants from us this week. Training according to guesses about the notoriously unreliable future demands of rich people is not particularly fun, and it’s obvious why their own kids can’t be bothered. But most of us have to try, and there arises a supply-and-demand problem: If everyone teaches themselves to code and the supply of human capital goes up, it’s suddenly very easy for employers to find coders, and the demand (read: pay) goes down. What’s advantageous for the individual is self-defeating for the class.

The result is workers who have not only taken on an average of tens of thousands of dollars in educational debt, but have also put in what we can now understand as hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars’ worth of unpaid labor. Taking no responsibility for this situation, employers have used the flood of overqualified workers to lower job quality, sometimes so far as to stumble onto the wrong side of America’s meager labor laws. That leaves young people who had planned on higher-quality jobs (as they were told to) underwater on their own human capital. Having invested more in effort and money than their work can command on the market, they’re not in possession of distressed assets; they are the distressed assets. And they’re stuck with themselves.

I can’t speak to why people who will never have to work in their lives care about getting fancy degrees, but I know why everyone else does. As the distance between the rich and the rest increases, the stakes of childhood go up too. Failure at one of the crucial steps (like college admissions) means taking a loss on your investment in yourself, which is extremely depressing. Everyone is compelled to work harder to try to avoid that fate, except the business owners and landlords, who just have to pay higher bribes — which they can afford to do because all those people who are working harder are, in one way or another, working for them. Depending on whether or not you own the means of production, it’s all a virtuous or vicious cycle. For most of us, it’s the latter."
malcolmharris  2019  labor  education  schools  schooling  colleges  universities  admissions  collegeadmissions  children  work  capitalism  exploitation  competition  highereducation  highered  debt  unpaidlabor  humancapital 
march 2019 by robertogreco
White progressive parents and the conundrum of privilege - Los Angeles Times
"Greg and Sarah live in a predominantly white neighborhood and send their children to a predominantly white private school. “I don’t want to believe we are hypocrites,” Greg tells me. “But if we say diversity is important to us, but then we didn’t stick around in the place that was diverse, maybe we are?” He looks at Sarah. “I dunno,” he continues, “I guess we made decisions based on other things that were more important. But what does that say about us then?”

For two years I conducted research with 30 affluent white parents and their kids in a Midwestern metropolitan area. Over and over I heard comments like Greg’s reflecting a deep ambivalence: As progressive parents, is their primary responsibility to advance societal values ­— fairness, equal opportunity and social justice — or to give their children all the advantages in life that their resources can provide?

More often than not, values lost out.

Parents I interviewed felt conflicted about using their social status to advocate for their kids to have the “best” math teacher, because they knew other kids would be stuck with the “bad” math teacher. They registered the unfairness in leveraging their exclusive social networks to get their teenagers coveted summer internships when they knew disadvantaged kids were the ones who truly needed such opportunities. They felt guilty when they protectively removed their children from explicitly racist and contentious situations because they understood that kids of color cannot escape racism whenever they please. Still, those were the choices they made.

Parents felt caught in a conundrum of privilege — that there was an unavoidable conflict between being a good parent and being a good citizen. These two principles don’t have to be in tension, of course. Many parents, in fact, expressed a desire to have their ideals and parenting choices align. In spite of that sentiment, when it came to their own children, the common refrain I heard was, “I care about social justice, but — I don’t want my kid to be a guinea pig.”

In other words, things have been working out pretty well for affluent white kids, so why rock the boat? And so parents continue to make decisions — about where to buy a house, which school seems best, or whether robotics club or piano lessons is a better after-school activity — that extend the advantages of wealth. Those choices, however, have other consequences: They shape what children think about race, racism, inequality and privilege far more than anything parents say (or do not say).

Children reach their own conclusions about how society works, or should work, based on their observations of their social environment and interactions with others — a process that African American studies scholar Erin Winkler calls “comprehensive racial learning.” So how their parents set up kids’ lives matters deeply.

Some children in my study, for instance, came to the conclusion that “racism is over” and that “talking about race makes you racist” — the kind of sentiments that sociologists identify as key features of colorblind racism. These were kids who were growing up in an almost exclusively white, suburban social environment outside the city.

The kids who lived in the city but attended predominantly white private schools told me that they were smarter and better than their public schools peers. They also thought they were more likely to be leaders in the future. One boy said proudly, “My school is not for everyone” — a statement that reflected how thoroughly he’d absorbed his position in the world in relation to others.

And yet, other white kids living in the city concluded that racism “is a way bigger problem than people realize. … White people don’t realize it… because they are scared to talk about it.” These young people spoke passionately about topics like the racial wealth gap and discrimination. They observed how authority figures such as teachers and police officers treated kids of color differently. They more easily formed interracial friendships and on occasion worked with their peers to challenge racism in their community. These were children who were put in racially integrated schools and extracurricular activities purposefully by their parents.

Still, even some of those parents’ actions reproduced the very forms of inequality they told me they intellectually rejected. They used connections to get their children into selective summer enrichment programs or threatened to leave the public school system if their children were not placed in honors or AP courses that they knew contributed to patterns of segregation. So even as parents promoted to their kids the importance of valuing equality, they modeled how to use privilege to get what you want. White kids absorbed this too; they expected to be able to move easily through the world and developed strategies for making it so.

If affluent, white parents hope to raise children who reject racial inequality, simply explaining that fairness and social justice are important values won’t do the trick. Instead, parents need to confront how their own decisions and behaviors reproduce patterns of privilege. They must actually advocate for the well-being, education and happiness of all children, not just their own.

Being a good parent should not come at the expense of being — or raising — a good citizen. If progressive white parents are truly committed to the values they profess, they ought to consider how helping one’s own child get ahead in society may not be as big a gift as helping create a more just society for them to live in in the future."
education  parenting  politics  progressive  2018  margarethagerman  schools  schooling  socialjustice  race  racism  privilege  cv  affluence  inequality  privateschools  segregation  civics  society  canon 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Ours First | Alliance for Self-Directed Education
"Have non-White families even considered this fascinating new way of educating?"



"Ours First: One

When unschooling is discussed, the practitioners presented or referenced tend to be families that are white and middle class or rich. The inevitable questions come up: Can poor or working class families afford to pull their children out of conventional schools? How can single-parent-families do this? Have non-White families even considered this fascinating new way of educating?

Then the inevitable responses: “Maybe poor families can do it, but with lots and lots of work.” Or, “Single parents will have to be quite creative in order to make this work.” Or, “Families of color don’t necessarily do this as often as White parents, but there’s a growing number that are. So that’s great!” The problem with these questions and subsequent responses is that they position Whiteness and wealth as the default standard-bearers of unschooling and other Self-Directed Education practices.

Of course, centering Whiteness and wealth is common practice in the settler-colonial, imperialist context that is the United States, which requires enslavement and genocide in order to maintain itself. However, in the name of resisting this practice, it is important for those of us interested in Self-Directed Education to take issue with the assumption that it falls under the purview of White wealth, as that assumption more accurately reflects the normalized and dominant identities of a Western-dominated global system, rather than the groups that historically practiced Self-Directed Education, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Indeed, a consideration of historic education Indigenous practices in the lands presently called the United States – and the practices of various groups who have been legally or circumstantially excluded from schooling – should remind us that the very groups not often seen as ‘typical’ unschoolers actually have extensive histories of Self-Directed Educative practice.

When discussing Self-Directed Education here, I speak as one existing at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities, as a member of groups whose survival within this settler colony hinges upon an understanding of the individual as an inextricable part of and dependent upon both human and non-human community. Based on this positionality, then, my understanding of unschooling and other unforced education practices is not merely ‘allowing’ children to ‘do what they want’ all day. Rather terms like unschooling, natural learning, and Self-Directed Education are, to me, shorthand for the fostering of a human existence that values each individual’s exploration of how to be – while also recognizing that this being occurs within a wider human- and non-human context, a context that is affected by and can affect the individual, and upon which the individual is dependent.

Under this definition, living without school is not only about the learner. It is about all who surround the learner – both human and non-human, alive and inanimate. Such living not only requires community, but it requires the health of that community. Not only a learner’s search for purpose, but a search for that purpose in a world of other purposes just as valuable as one’s own. It requires an awed humility – a recognition of one’s greatness and smallness, and the commitment to live fully within both. It requires a trust in instinct – an acknowledgement that our heart and gut have always been right, though the dominant culture tells us we are wrong.

Marginalized groups have been learning the world for a long time, and without school. Before and throughout this colonialist era, it is the way we learned to manage our food systems and organize communities. It is the way we learned to predict weather and navigate seas. It is the way we learned transportation routes and our stories. It is the way we learned ourselves and others. It is the way we learned who the oppressors really were, despite what they told us about themselves in their schools.

It is the way we learned to survive under Western colonialism and imperialism. And it is the way we will thrive beyond it.

Ours First: Two

I am not seeking someone else’s words on this one. I do not need another perspective. I do not need advice or input from someone I do not know, whose intentions will always be hidden from me. I do not need confirmation or affirmation when I say:

this was ours first.

A simple truth that has been made obscure, beaten down into the dirt and dust and grime so much that we believe we are dirty and dusty and grimy, too. So that we think the things that come from us are not worthy. So that we cannot even conceptualize what comes from us anymore, as it is so quickly spirited away, co-opted even as it is maligned, made into vulgar mutations that we, in our lack of imagination, prefer. We no longer recognize the things that come from us.

Even though they were ours first.

Sometimes we have an inkling, though. It sneaks up on us when we are not expecting it. A sad look in a child’s eye, for example. Or the sight of that child walking into a building simultaneously so close and so far away. Perhaps it comes as a hard awareness, slamming us with a rush of schedules, exhaustion, and conflict.

We have long known that we are fitting into a way of being that is not our own. Rather than wondering whether there is an alternative, however, we know that there is a better way. Maybe some of us always knew, but struggled to admit it to ourselves because of family schooling traditions or our own relationships with schooling. Maybe we’ve recently begun listening to the voice speaking inside us. Maybe the better way makes logical or logistical sense. Whatever reason brought you here, know that:

this was ours first.

That means that you can look to yourself and your people for solutions, for ideas, and for expertise. You can trust yourselves for the answers. You have those answers within you – and have had them for a long, long time. You can look beyond what is and toward a different way of being, a way of knowledge beyond oppression, of learning and living without compulsion. Your people have been doing this work of self-trust, knowledge creation, and liberatory imagination throughout their history... and it’s why your life is possible. Such non-compulsive living and learning, then, is not a new thing – it is, in fact, part of your ancestral tradition. Your very existence is evidence of that.

Were your people able to live lives where they were completely free to trust themselves and their knowledge-making practices all the time? Probably not. This lack of complete freedom is what it means to live as a marginalized person in a colonialist context. I assert, however, that any work leading to the health and endurance of a marginalized community requires knowledge-creation and -perpetuation that runs counter to the dominant model. Despite disruptions to marginalized groups’ liberatory, non-coercive educative practices, then, these groups’ continued existence within a White, settler-colonial context requiring their subjugation or elimination is evidence of this counter-education.

It is reductive, of course, to assume that marginalized groups, when given the chance, would not enact (or have not enacted) their own types of knowledge coercion and manipulation. This undoubtedly occurs, as forcing people to do things they do not want to do is not solely a Western concept. However, in a wider social and historical context that assumes Western dominance in all areas, and in which we currently find ourselves, the pressing issue is not that a marginalized group acts in ways similar to the dominant group – such a similarity may actually be expected. Rather, the issue is that Western knowledge-creation dictates that even divergence from the dominant model and institutions be White in order to be legitimate, palatable, or non-threatening – indeed, sometimes divergence must be White in order to be recognized as existing.

Such dictates lie, of course. Your people have been doing this – existing and resisting, learning the world and their freedom – for years and years. They’ve been doing it for themselves and with each other, and without school as we know it. Despite how the narrative is compiled around you, then, and despite whoever tries to sell you whatever is already inside of you, remember:

Ours. First."
unschooling  race  racism  kellylimes-taylorhenderson  erasure  colonialism  deschooling  self-directed  self-directedlearning  alternative  marginalization  imperialism  decolonization  schooling  history  whiteness  wealth  class 
march 2019 by robertogreco
A Middle-School Cheating Scandal | The New Yorker
"In an era of high-stakes testing, a struggling school made a shocking choice."



"The first teacher he approached was Lewis, who was resistant. Lewis told him, “Fuck the test. Our students are doing hot. We know they are learning.” But after several months, Lewis said, Waller “chewed away at me.” Waller reminded him that Parks was a “sanctuary,” a “safe haven” for the community. If the school didn’t meet its targets, Waller explained, the students would be separated and sent to different schools, outside Pittsburgh. Lewis said he felt that “it was my sole obligation to never let that happen.”"



"In 2007, Parks had to score even higher to surpass its falsely achieved scores from the previous year. According to statements later made by teachers and administrators (obtained through Georgia’s open-records act), the cheating process began to take the form of a routine. During testing week, after students had completed the day’s section, Waller distracted the testing coördinator, Alfred Kiel, by taking him out for leisurely lunches in downtown Atlanta. On their way, Waller called the reading coördinator to let her know that it was safe to enter Kiel’s office. She then paged up to six teachers and told them to report to the room. While their students were at recess, the teachers erased wrong answers and filled in the right ones. Lewis took photographs of the office with his cell phone so that he could make sure he left every object, even the pencils on Kiel’s desk, exactly as he’d found them.

Lewis dreaded the process. It felt to him like “a bad date where you’ve had too much to drink.” He woke up the morning after erasing answers and thought, I shouldn’t have gone that far. He worried that, because of the cheating, students wouldn’t develop “the feeling you get when you take a test and know whether you did all right or whether you knocked that shit out of the park,” he said. He also felt guilty that other teachers were deprived of feedback. Lewis never told his wife that other teachers were correcting her students’ answers. One year, she got the highest scores in the building. Lewis said, “I wasn’t going to burst her bubble. I was, like, ‘Good job. Keep going strong.’ ”"



"Of a hundred and seventy-eight educators named in the cheating investigation, Lewis was the first to be fired. “I felt like someone had hit me with the butt end of an axe,” he said. He shaved off his dreadlocks, which, in Rastafarian tradition—a culture with which he sporadically associated—signalled the loss of a child. What troubled him most, he said, was that “I was fired for doing something that I didn’t even believe in.”

He applied for jobs at charter and alternative schools, community centers, and jails, but he didn’t get any of them. “Education let me go,” he finally concluded. He broadened his search, applying for positions that required manual labor. In interviews, he promised employers that he had the “persistence and tough skin of a middle-school teacher to bring to the workforce.” He applied for a job installing cable, and, after getting a nearly perfect score on the applicant test, he daydreamed about how he would use his teaching skills to help employees streamline the process. But a few days later the company told him that he didn’t have enough experience.

His house was foreclosed on and his car was repossessed. Old friends came to him with alternative methods of earning money. “They had some of the most illegal propositions,” he said. “They were, like, ‘Man, remember when we used to take that trip to St. Louis? Don’t you want to take over that run?’ ” He supported his wife, their newborn son, and his daughter from his previous marriage by working as an auto mechanic.

At first, he was glad to see the district attorney bring charges against Christopher Waller, Beverly Hall, and thirty-three administrators and teachers, but he became troubled by the portrayal of their crimes as mercenary. On April 2, 2013, on the evening news, he watched his colleagues, nearly all of them black, report to the Fulton County Jail in an event that was described in the media as a “perp walk.” They were charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute—used to apprehend criminal organizations like the Mafia—and accused of conspiring in order to receive the bonuses tied to high test scores. Hall, who earned more than five hundred thousand dollars in bonuses, faces up to forty-five years in prison.

More than half of the defendants, including Christopher Waller, pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Now the senior pastor at a church three miles from Parks, Waller agreed to serve five years of probation, pay forty thousand dollars in restitution, and testify as a witness for the prosecution. He told me that he was offended by the idea that he would cheat in order to get what amounted to five thousand dollars in bonuses. He and other teachers at Parks spent their own money to buy groceries, H.I.V. medications, furniture, and clothes for students and their mothers, and this continued even after he was fired. “It wasn’t because of the money—I can promise you that,” he said.

In lengthy plea statements, Waller and the other defendants provided a miniature history of the past twelve years in education policy, describing how No Child Left Behind, in conjunction with the district’s targets, created an atmosphere in which cheating came to seem like a reasonable option. One principal described a “toxic culture throughout APS where all that mattered was test scores, even if ill-gotten.” Another said that the district’s “primary focus . . . became meeting targets instead of focusing on the needs of the students.”

In statements sent to me through their respective lawyers, Hall and Michael Pitts both denied wrongdoing and said they were confident that a jury would find them innocent of the charges. Hall wrote, “I did not order, request, or condone cheating to meet targets nor did I have knowledge of cheating.” She explained that in setting targets she had “relied on APS educators to behave with integrity.” She also said that, compared with the objectives set by No Child Left Behind, Atlanta’s targets were “decidedly more incremental in nature,” and the sanctions less “draconian.” (Many of her employees disagree; the district was unusual in that it required a certain percentage of students to exceed targets each year.)

Since the investigation, the stakes for testing in Georgia have escalated. Although the state is replacing the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test with a more comprehensive method of evaluation, this fall Georgia is implementing a new teacher-evaluation program that bases fifty per cent of a teacher’s assessment on test scores. The program, along with a merit-pay system, is required as a condition for receiving a four-hundred-million-dollar grant from President Obama’s Race to the Top program. Tim Callahan, the spokesman for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, which represents eighty-four thousand teachers, told me, “The state is going down the same path as Atlanta, and we are not exactly enthused.” He said that many teachers have become so demoralized that they’re retiring early or transferring to private schools. He told me, “Our teachers’ best qualities—their sense of humor, their love for the subject, their excitement, their interest in students as individuals—are not being honored or valued, because those qualities aren’t measurable.”"

[though I'd bookmarked this when it came out, but doesn't seem to be in my collection]
2014  testing  standardizedtesting  cheating  atlanta  education  schools  schooling  incentives  rachelavivrttt  nclb  high-stakestesting  us  scandal  howweteach  teaching  learning 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Yong Zhao "What Works May Hurt: Side Effects in Education" - YouTube
"Proponents of standardized testing and privatization in education have sought to prove their effectiveness in improving education with an abundance of evidence. These efforts, however, can have dangerous side effects, causing long-lasting damage to children, teachers, and schools. Yong Zhao, Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas, will argue that education interventions are like medical products: They can have serious, sometimes detrimental, side effects while also providing cures. Using standardized testing and privatization as examples, Zhao, author of the internationally bestselling Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World, will talk about his new book on why and how pursuing a narrow set of short-term outcomes causes irreparable harm in education."
yongzhao  2018  schools  schooling  pisa  education  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  china  us  history  testscores  children  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  sideeffects  privatization  tims  math  reading  confidence  assessment  economics  depression  diversity  entrepreneurship  japan  creativity  korea  vietnam  homogenization  intolerance  prosperity  tolerance  filtering  sorting  humans  meritocracy  effort  inheritance  numeracy  literacy  achievementgap  kindergarten  nclb  rttt  policy  data  homogeneity  selectivity  charterschools  centralization  decentralization  local  control  inequity  curriculum  autonomy  learning  memorization  directinstruction  instruction  poverty  outcomes  tfa  teachforamerica  finland  singapore  miltonfriedman  vouchers  resilience  growthmindset  motivation  psychology  research  positivepsychology  caroldweck  intrinsicmotivation  choice  neoliberalism  high-stakestesting 
march 2019 by robertogreco
The Trouble with Knowledge | Shikshantar
"First Main Trouble with Knowledge and Education is Dishonesty

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

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

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

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

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



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



"Building Learning Societies

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. We need to affirm that people are the real solution, not the obstacle and … [more]
munirfasheh  education  unschooling  schooling  schooliness  deschooling  diplomas  credentials  wisdom  degrees  faith  honesty  generosity  hope  learning  howwelearn  love  loving  lving  happiness  duties  duty  development  progress  excellence  rights  schools  community  learningcommunities  lcproject  openstudioproject  grades  grading  assessment  dishonesty  culture  society  hegemony  knowledge  influence  power  colonization  globalization  yemen  israel  palestine  humanism  governance  government  policy  politics  statism  children  egypt  india  westbank  religion  cordoba  cordova  gaza  freedom  failure  labeling  canon 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Chevanni Davids on Unschooling - YouTube
"Chevanni's comments on unschooling, critically looking at a quest for humanity through self directed education."

[from this longer video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3z6z0dyX0U ]
unschooling  chevanni  2018  history  self-directed  self-directedlearning  education  learning  indigeneity  socialjustice  classism  humanism  english  schooling  nature  everyday  food 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Let’s Be Clear: Sudbury Valley School and “Un-schooling” Have NOTHING in Common | Sudbury Valley School
[See also this response: "SVS/Unschooling Controversy"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22N5WaTXNrc ]

"All in all, the contrasts—perhaps better labeled as “contradictions”—between the principles underlying homeschooling and those of Sudbury Valley lead to an important outcome, that is well worth recognizing: for the most part, any marriage between the two ends up in an unpleasant parting of ways. From a recruitment point of view, it is always best for those involved in the admissions process at SVS to do their best to discourage unschoolers from enrolling, or at least warn them of the possible pitfalls of such a move. From the point of view of unschooling families thinking about finding an “unschooling school” where their children could spend time away from home, while still being basically homeschooled in the way the family would like them to be, it is always best to look somewhere else.

Actually, the most concise summing-up was given by the person who made homeschooling famous: John Holt. Here is what Pat Farenga, a leading advocate for homeschooling/unschooling, reported he learned from his mentor:

I’ve been asked to define unschooling since 1981. The simple answer I learned from John is unschooling is NOT school.

And, as John Holt himself informed us directly when he looked into our school at the time of its founding in 1968, unschooling is most certainly NOT Sudbury Valley School."
unschooling  deschooling  sudburyschools  education  2016  johnholt  self-directed  self-directedlearning  patfarenga  schools  schooling  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  children  parenting  homeschool  sudburyvalleyschool  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy 
january 2019 by robertogreco
SVS/Unschooling Controversy - YouTube
"This is a commentary on the currently controversial article by Daniel Greenberg https://sudburyvalley.org/article/lets-be-clear-sudbury-valley-school-and-un-schooling-have-nothing-common . The article is not summarised during the commentary so it will be necessary to read it before listening. Further discussion is available to join on the forums at www.self-directed.org.

"Differences Between Self-Directed and Progressive Education" can be read here https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/comment/924407 . This commentary is offered by Jeanna L Clements in her private capacity and does not represent any other individual or collective. Please feel free to share. Thank you."
education  schools  schooling  sudburyschools  self-directed  self-directedlearning  progessive  petergray  je'annaclements  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  learning  unschooling  homeschool  deschooling  montessori  northstar  agillearningcenters  agilelearning  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  jeannaclements  individualism  collective  collectivism  parenting  danielgreenberg  children  2018  johnholt  patfarenga  sudburyvalleyschool  agilelearningcenters 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Raising Free People | Raising Aware People #LRC2018 - YouTube
"What are your experiments with the intersection of Unschooling / Self Directed Education and Social Justice. And your understanding of this intersection. While, hey are inextricably linked, the practice of unschooling as social justice and raising aware people isn't widely understood, spoken about or shared.

So at Learning Reimagined 2018, we hosted an interactive panel discussion as an introduction to the relationship and practice of the two, with the hope that this will help participants and now viewers to think around these issues and to then discuss and share further in their communities and here with us online so we can learn too.

The panel consisted of a mix of young unschoolers and featured speakers (Akilah Richards, Bayo Akomolafe, Teresa Graham Brett) at Learning Reimagined 2018."

[from the Learning Reimagined 2018: Unschooling As Decolonisation conference conference: https://www.growingminds.co.za/learning-reimagined-conference-2018/ ]
unschooling  education  socialjustice  self-directed  self-directedlearning  akilahrichards  bavoakomolafe  teresagrahambrett  liberation  justice  zakiyyaismail  deschooling  learning  politics  southafrica  us  difference  scaffolding  parenting  poc  howwelearn  decolonization  2018  race  racism  inclusivity  conferences  lrc2018  bias  inclusion  community  privilege  kaameelchicktay  elitism  schools  schooling  indigeneity  class  classism  humanism  language  english  africa  colonization  agilelearningcenters  agilelearning  lcproject  openstudioproject  children 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Inequality - how wealth becomes power (1/2) | (Poverty Richness Documentary) DW Documentary - YouTube
"Germany is one of the world’s richest countries, but inequality is on the rise. The wealthy are pulling ahead, while the poor are falling behind.

For the middle classes, work is no longer a means of advancement. Instead, they are struggling to maintain their position and status. Young people today have less disposable income than previous generations. This documentary explores the question of inequality in Germany, providing both background analysis and statistics. The filmmakers interview leading researchers and experts on the topic. And they accompany Christoph Gröner, one of Germany’s biggest real estate developers, as he goes about his work. "If you have great wealth, you can’t fritter it away through consumption. If you throw money out the window, it comes back in through the front door,” Gröner says. The real estate developer builds multi-family residential units in cities across Germany, sells condominium apartments, and is involved in planning projects that span entire districts. "Entrepreneurs are more powerful than politicians, because we’re more independent,” Gröner concludes. Leading researchers and experts on the topic of inequality also weigh in, including Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, economist Thomas Piketty, and Brooke Harrington, who carried out extensive field research among investors from the ranks of the international financial elite. Branko Milanović, a former lead economist at the World Bank, says that globalization is playing a role in rising inequality. The losers of globalization are the lower-middle class of affluent countries like Germany. "These people are earning the same today as 20 years ago," Milanović notes. "Just like a century ago, humankind is standing at a crossroads. Will affluent countries allow rising equality to tear apart the fabric of society? Or will they resist this trend?”"

[Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYP_wMJsgyg

"Christoph Gröner is one of the richest people in Germany. The son of two teachers, he has worked his way to the top. He believes that many children in Germany grow up without a fair chance and wants to step in. But can this really ease inequality?

Christoph Gröner does everything he can to drum up donations and convince the wealthy auction guests to raise their bids. The more the luxury watch for sale fetches, the more money there will be to pay for a new football field, or some extra tutoring, at a children's home. Christoph Gröner is one of the richest people in Germany - his company is now worth one billion euros, he tells us. For seven months, he let our cameras follow him - into board meetings, onto construction sites, through his daily life, and in his charity work. He knows that someone like him is an absolute exception in Germany. His parents were both teachers, and he still worked his way to the top. He believes that many children in Germany grow up without a fair chance. "What we see here is total failure across the board,” he says. "It starts with parents who just don’t get it and can’t do anything right. And then there’s an education policy that has opened the gates wide to the chaos we are experiencing today." Chistoph Gröner wants to step in where state institutions have failed. But can that really ease inequality?

In Germany, getting ahead depends more on where you come from than in most other industrialized countries, and social mobility is normally quite restricted. Those on top stay on top. The same goes for those at the bottom. A new study shows that Germany’s rich and poor both increasingly stay amongst themselves, without ever intermingling with other social strata. Even the middle class is buckling under the mounting pressure of an unsecure future. "Land of Inequality" searches for answers as to why. We talk to families, an underpaid nurse, as well as leading researchers and analysts such as economic Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz, sociologist Jutta Allmendinger or the economist Raj Chetty, who conducted a Stanford investigation into how the middle class is now arming itself to improve their children’s outlooks."]
documentary  germany  capitalism  economics  society  poverty  inequality  christophgröner  thomaspiketty  brookehrrington  josephstiglitz  neoliberalism  latecapitalism  brankomilanović  worldbank  power  influence  policy  politics  education  class  globalization  affluence  schools  schooling  juttaallmendinger  rajchetty  middleclass  parenting  children  access  funding  charity  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  status  work  labor  welfare  2018  geography  cities  urban  urbanism  berlin  immigration  migration  race  racism  essen  socialsegregation  segregation  success  democracy  housing  speculation  paulpiff  achievement  oligarchy  dynasticwealth  ownership  capitalhoarding  injustice  inheritance  charlottebartels  history  myth  prosperity  wageslavery  polarization  insecurity  precarity  socialcontract  revolution  sociology  finance  financialcapitalism  wealthmanagement  assets  financialization  local  markets  privateschools  publicschools  privatization 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Inside and Outside the Cage – spottedtoad
"School, as I’ve said a number of times, serves this purpose already. I’ll sometimes encounter people who treat the idea that kids learn relatively little in school, that it’s a pointless hamster wheel that doesn’t get anyone anywhere, as some kind of scandal or shock. Maybe, but have you seen adult life lately? Is what kids do on an average school day so much more pointless and lonely and anomic than what you did yesterday- not than your ideal of what a ten year old or thirty year old should be doing, but what you actually, personally did? American parents are insanely competitive and push their kids and their kids’ schools to do all kinds of pointless shit, because we literally don’t have any other idea how to fill their and our days. They’re already staring at screens for nine hours a day. It could get worse. Four times as many young women 25-34 years old overdosed last year as in 1999. I don’t think school is the problem.

Maybe it’s a Tragedy of the (Missing) Commons. Maybe if you, and you, and you, and you, all pulled your kid out of school, tuned in, turned on (to Jesus or Allah or John Dewey or whoever), and dropped out, let them run around and build forts and make out or read Dante or whatever, maybe they can reinvent society on better grounds. The Benedict Option, like Rod Dreher says.  I’m not saying it’s impossible, and maybe we all need to be more utopian on our home turf even while being less so on other people’s. The ideal- or at least our own ideals- might be more within our grasp than we think. Maybe.

Or maybe what limited store of self-reliance we have is going to be destroyed, utterly, by the next wave of technology, or the next, and the best we can hope for is a benevolently paternalist technostate, the FitBit vibrating on our wrist to tell us to stop being inert, urging us to less self-destruction than we’d otherwise tend, telling us, whether we’re ten or fifty, to turn in our homework next time they see us and to remember to put our names on our papers if we want to get credit on the test."
education  homeschool  2017  unschooling  deschooling  commons  johndewey  benedictoption  roddreher  utopia  self-reliance  individualism  schools  schooling  freedom  technology  via:ayjay 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Captain Awkward on Twitter: "Fellow #ADHD kids, what elaborate new planning/organization systems and rituals are we going to embrace enthusiastically for the first half of January?"
"Fellow #ADHD kids, what elaborate new planning/organization systems and rituals are we going to embrace enthusiastically for the first half of January?

If we can crowdsource data about price, fiddliness, cult following, # of dedicated subreddits, # of naturally organized people who swore it would change our lives or said “if I can do it anyone can!”, etc, then I can get a jump start on shame spiral trajectory calculations!

My poor therapists (all): Have you tried to-do lists?

Me: Yes! I love making them, but I constantly forget to check. Also putting a task on the list can “solve” its urgency & I forget. Whereas if I DON’T write it, the terror of forgetting might keep it in focus!

Therapists: [gif]

Me: I basically exist inside a giant perpetual-motion machine of prcrastination, forgetting stuff, guilt, and anxiety and sometimes I can harness it as motivation!

Therapists: [gif]

Therapists: But you DO accomplish things?

Me: Yes?

Therapists: But...how?

Me: Oh, that’s easy, I have enough raw intelligence & ability that sometimes the crippling fear of failure makes a volcano instead of an abyss, and work erupts out of the crater instead of collapsing in.

Therapists: But...wouldn’t be easier to keep a to-do list?

Me: Obviously!

Therapists: So, what CAN we work on?

Me: Could we maybe make the creative work volcanoes a little bigger and the crushing paralysis & shame abysses a little smaller?

Therapists: [gif]

In all seriousness, the thing about getting finally getting dx’d with #ADHD that helps me most isn’t the meds, which do mitigate it a bit, but that I stopped hating myself for being this way.

My whole childhood & life before diagnosis, my intelligence and literally everything I am good at was used as proof that I must be lazy & deliberately fucking up career & academic & household stuff out of spite.

The paradox of #ADHD - being excellent at complex, high-stimulus tasks and fuck-all at routine, “easy” tasks was a weapon in the hands of parents, teachers, & employers and a constant abusive echo in my brain.

What I internalized was that accomplishments that were fun or that came easy to me had no value, only the ones that involve effort “count.” But the things that involved the most effort for me were mundane tasks that came easy to others, so they had no value, either.

“But you are so good at ______ it should be easy to _____?” became “But I am so good at ____, I should be good at ____ and since I am not actually good at ____ I must be a hopeless fuckup.”

I also internalized a fallacy that I was not “allowed” to do rewarding ambitious enjoyable things until all my “chores” were done. Meaning I set impossible traps for myself for YEARS b/c I would never get the chores done?

TBH sometimes the right thing for me to do is put the laptop down & clean the house but also one main reason I can be a prolific writer is an internal shift in permissions, like, chores CAN actually wait if I’m in the grip of an idea, & I DON’T have to read/answer every email.

My condition comes with gifts like creativity and intense bursts of focus & enthusiasm and it is ok to ride those bursts and enjoy them and give my effort & time to “fun” work. It is also ok to kinda suck at some things.

This article was a turning point for me in getting dx’d - I had raised the prospect before and been told I was “too smart” & “too high-functioning.” Therapist was using (incredibly common) idea of hyperactive boys. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/04/adhd-is-different-for-women/381158/ ["ADHD Is Different for Women"]

This book by Sari Solden, rec’d by a friend, was also really helpful: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/women-attention-deficit-disorder-embrace-your-differences/id548946872?mt=11 ["Women With Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life"]

Finally, #ADHD is buds with Depression & Anxiety, and a lot of its symptoms overlap with PTSD. If you never get a clear ADHD dx it doesn’t mean you are not having real trouble with executive function. Your treatment (esp. meds) might differ, tho, so get checked out if you can.

Ok, actually finally finally finally there is tons of productivity & organizing advice from people who are naturally good at organization. You will often recognize it by the word “just” - “I just take 10 seconds to put things back where they belong!” “I just make lists!”

For us #ADHD buds this advice can be so, so, so overwhelming. It isn’t factually untrue (It does save time to put things away as you go? Or, er, I believe organized people when they say this?) but your instinct that the word “just” does not apply to you is CORRECT.

If the actual tips sound helpful and you want to try them, by all means! We can work on new habits and find better workarounds. But if it’s difficult, please know, that’s expected & you’re not imagining it. Please also don’t add it to the ways you beat yourself up.

I tweet for the kids who got their messy desks dumped out as an example to others. I tweet for the ones who never once brought a permission slip home, and got it signed, and brought that same piece of paper back in time for the field trip.

I tweet for the kids who peed their pants sometimes not b/c they weren’t potty-trained but b/c they got too absorbed in something & forgot to switch tasks.

I tweet for #ADHD couples, esp. brides, who are like “I want to marry YOU but what the hell is WEDDING PLANNING and why do people think I know how?”

I tweet for the ones who are panicking that “you have so much potential!” is turning into “you *had* so much potential.” Every day is a race against the sun and our own runaway brains.

BTW I also tweet for the parents who are like “oh crap I lost my kid’s permission slip...again...”

Also, hi to the people who really need an assistant but have no idea how to delegate things to an assistant and/or find the whole assistant thing terrifying b/c someone will know how truly, truly disorganized you are & how much you rely on adrenaline & charisma. [gif]

I see you, I am you, I have been you, and I have been your assistant. Let the nice person help you if you possibly can. They want to. They *like* it. You just have to be nice and honest & give them money.

If anyone has ever told you, patiently & kindly, that the best way to accomplish a big project is to break it down into small, digestible chunks, and you’ve nodded in agreement but internally screamed b/c you know a long list = more ways to lose focus, come here: [gif]"

[Via/see also: https://twitter.com/emilesnyder/status/1078020204016263168

This thread made me cry. I have never considered ADHD as something that might describe me. Depression, anxiety, yes. ADHD? Not so much.

But holy shit does this thread have my number re: procrastination, organization, shame spirals, etc..

https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1078060070078840833
Oh, but Emile. It's not you with the disorder, it's society. You're just made for a better, slower, simpler, more attuned, more holistic world. 90% of the shit people do when they get shit done is actually destroying the planet. If everybody just did less we could save the world.

https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1078106307536728064
Have you seen this research on the cultural dimensions of attentional stance? https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3dbc/c3420a3d1afa391fb46370cac52cf59ba98a.pdf ["Open Attention as a Cultural Tool for Observational Learning" by Suzanne Gaskins

"ABSTRACT:
Learning through observation in everyday activities is widely recognized in the ethnographic literature as a central way that children learn from others. There are two well-described
characteristics of learning through observation: participation in meaningful activities with people who are important in the children’s lives and a belief that children are active, motivated learners who take initiative to garner experiences and make meaning from them. Gaskins and Paradise (2010) have proposed that there is a third characteristic central to observational learning: open attention, defined as attention that takes in information from the full environmental context (that is, wide-angled) and is sustained over time (that is, abiding). This paper will describe open attention in some detail, giving examples of how open attention is encouraged in a variety of cultures, its value as a component of observational learning, the role of concentration, and the implications for understanding children’s learning (in and out of school) and play. The presentation will conclude that, while learning through observation is present in all cultures, in cultures where open attention is encouraged and expected, and where the responsibility for learning is given to the children, observational learning is both more powerful and more central to children’s mastery of the full range of cultural knowledge." ]]
attention  adhd  neurodiversity  2018  productivity  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  organization  anxiety  depression  context  procrastination  shame  forgetfulness  executivefunction  creativity  add  children  childhood  schools  schooling 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Objectivity as standardization in data-scientific education policy, technology and governance: Learning, Media and Technology: Vol 0, No 0
"New data-driven technologies appear to promise a new era of accuracy and objectivity in scientifically-informed educational policy and governance. The data-scientific objectivity sought by education policy, however, is the result of practices of standardization and quantification deployed to settle controversies about the definition and measurement of human qualities by rendering them as categories and numbers. Focusing on the emerging policy agenda of ‘social and emotional learning and skills,’ this paper examines the practices of ‘objectivity-making’ underpinning this new field. Objectivity-making depends on three translations of (1) scientific expertise into standardized and enumerable definitions, (2) standardization into measurement technologies, and (3) the data produced through measurement technologies into objective policy-relevant knowledge, which consolidates a market in SEL technologies. The paper sheds light on knowledge-making practices in the era of big data and policy science, and their enduring reliance on the precarious construction of objectivity as a key legitimator of policy-relevant scientific knowledge and ‘evidence-based’ education governance."
data  education  policy  objectivity  evidence  schools  schooling  scientism  benwilliamson  nellipiattoeva  technology  quantification  measurement  bigdata  edtech  standardization  standards 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Bria Bloom: A Grown Unschooler Dedicated to Liberating the Next Generation - YouTube
"Bria Bloom is the Community Manager of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education (ASDE). In this interview with ASDE board member Scott Noelle, Bria shares her educational journey and provides a behind-the-scenes look into her work with the Alliance, advancing the SDE movement."
briabloom  2018  unschooling  homeschool  education  self-directed  self-directedlearning  srg  edg  schools  schooling  learning  howwelearn  scottnoelle 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Ida Bae Wells on Twitter: "Probably the most amazing thing that has come from me working on my book is how researching and writing it has proven so revelatory for *me.* I’ve come to understand in such a profound way how racism is at its heart and above
"Probably the most amazing thing that has come from me working on my book is how researching and writing it has proven so revelatory for *me.* I’ve come to understand in such a profound way how racism is at its heart and above all else a capitalist endeavor.

THIS is why our schools are unequal. Black children, black people, from the beginning, were never intended to be able to compete with white labor and white success. Our schools were and are designed to ensure that on scale, this will never happen, that we will serve not rule.

I’ve my whole life been trying to understand the why of racism. Why this hatred? Why couldn’t block people simply be left alone to thrive? Why the intentional destruction and neglect t of our businesses, schools, our neighborhoods, our *dreams*...

And, my God, tracing the denial of literacy,education from slavery until now, it has become starkly clear to me in a way that it never had been before. I knew, but I did not know. One can look at Detroit, NYC, Newark, LA and see nothing is broken. It is all operating as designed.

As famous abolitionist once said: That which is illegitimate from its beginning cannot be made so simply by the passage of time."
education  slavery  history  capitalism  economics  2018  race  racism  schools  schooling  literacy  srg  abolition  publicschools  nikolehannah-jones 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Teaching for people who prefer not to teach | independentsunited
"Teaching for people who prefer not to teach is a manual that fits in your pocket.

It’s a messy collection of ideas: contributions our friends and colleagues sent us, our own learning experiences and rumours we heard. You might ask yourself who this manual is for. Is it for teachers? Is it for students? Is it only relevant for teaching art? The answer is: Yes and No. We don’t know. Probably both. As self-employed artists, we have become used to performing our services anywhere, for anybody who books us. One day we might be doing a happy crafty afternoon in a primary school, the next day a post-graduate seminar on exhibition-making, the day after we’re making soup for the reading group we organised. And our methodologies need to work in all of these contexts' (from the editor's notes)"
teaching  howweteach  learning  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  art  books 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Are Civics Lessons a Constitutional Right? This Student Is Suing for Them - The New York Times
"Many see the lack of civics in schools as a national crisis. A federal lawsuit says it also violates the law."



"Aleita Cook, 17, has never taken a class in government, civics or economics. In the two social studies classes she took in her four years at a technical high school in Providence, R.I. — one in American history, the other in world history — she learned mostly about wars, she said.

Left unanswered were many practical questions she had about modern citizenship, from how to vote to “what the point of taxes are.” As for politics, she said, “What is a Democrat, a Republican, an independent? Those things I had to figure out myself.”

Now she and other Rhode Island public school students and parents are filing a federal lawsuit against the state on Thursday, arguing that failing to prepare children for citizenship violates their rights under the United States Constitution.

They say the state has not equipped all of its students with the skills to “function productively as civic participants” capable of voting, serving on a jury and understanding the nation’s political and economic life."
2018  civics  publicschools  democracy  law  legal  schooling  schools  education  economics  voting 
november 2018 by robertogreco
New Podcast Network for People of Color in Self-Directed Education [Episode 71]
"his week I’m sharing my plans to expand the Fare of the Free Child unschooling podcast community! I’ll be producing a set of short-run series (podcasts that have a small, set number of episodes), and co-facilitating some Self-Directed Education training, and you should be part of that mix. I’ll tell you how to get involved in those projects, and you’ll meet Anjel Berry, a mother of five daughters, and a co-organizer for Imagimatics, a maker-space project for outside the city limits of Atlanta. So much goodness in this episode; the show notes page is lit! #POCinSDE"

[Also here: https://soundcloud.com/radicalselfie/ep-71-raising-free-people ]
akilahrichards  parenting  unschooling  deschooling  education  schools  learning  johnholt  anjelberry  atlanta  schooling  self-directed  self-directedlearning  testing  imagimatics  makerspaces  2018  decolonization  liberation 
november 2018 by robertogreco
When starting school, younger children are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, study says – Harvard Gazette
"Could a child’s birthday put him or her at risk for an ADHD misdiagnosis? The answer appears to be yes, at least among children born in August who start school in states where enrollment is cut off at a Sept. 1 birth date, according to a new study led by Harvard Medical School researchers.

The findings, published Nov. 28 in The New England Journal of Medicine, show that children born in August in those states are 30 percent more likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis, compared with their slightly older peers enrolled in the same grade.

The rate of ADHD diagnoses among children has risen dramatically over the past 20 years. In 2016 alone, more than 5 percent of U.S. children were being actively treated with medication for ADHD. Experts believe the rise is fueled by a combination of factors, including a greater recognition of the disorder, a true rise in the incidence of the condition and, in some cases, improper diagnosis.

The results of the new study underscore the notion that, at least in a subset of elementary school students, the diagnosis may be a factor of earlier school enrollment, the research team said.

“Our findings suggest the possibility that large numbers of kids are being overdiagnosed and overtreated for ADHD because they happen to be relatively immature compared to their older classmates in the early years of elementary school,” said study lead author Timothy Layton, assistant professor of health care policy in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School.

Most states have arbitrary birth date cutoffs that determine which grade a child will be placed in and when they can start school. In states with a Sept. 1 cutoff, a child born on Aug. 31 will be nearly a full year younger on the first day of school than a classmate born on Sept. 1. At this age, Layton noted, the younger child might have a harder time sitting still and concentrating for long periods of time in class. That extra fidgeting may lead to a medical referral, Layton said, followed by diagnosis and treatment for ADHD.

For example, the researchers said, what may be normal behavior in a boisterous 6-year-old could seem abnormal relative to the behavior of older peers in the same classroom.

This dynamic may be particularly true among younger children given that an 11- or 12-month difference in age could lead to significant differences in behavior, the researchers added.

“As children grow older, small differences in age equalize and dissipate over time, but behaviorally speaking, the difference between a 6-year-old and a 7-year-old could be quite pronounced,” said study senior author Anupam Jena, the Ruth L. Newhouse Associate Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School and an internal medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. “A normal behavior may appear anomalous relative to the child’s peer group.”

Using the records of a large insurance database, the investigators compared the difference in ADHD diagnosis by birth month — August versus September — among more than 407,000 elementary school children born between 2007 and 2009, who were followed until the end of 2015.

In states that use Sept. 1 as a cutoff date for school enrollment, children born in August had a 30 percent greater chance of an ADHD diagnosis than children born in September, the analysis showed. No such differences were observed between children born in August and September in states with cutoff dates other than Sept. 1.

For example, 85 of 10,000 students born in August were either diagnosed with or treated for ADHD, compared with 64 students of 10,000 born in September. When investigators looked at ADHD treatment only, the difference was also large — 53 of 10,000 students born in August received ADHD medication, compared with 40 of 10,000 for those born in September.

Jena pointed to a similar phenomenon described in Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers.” Canadian professional hockey players are much more likely to have been born early in the year, according to research cited in Gladwell’s book. Canadian youth hockey leagues use Jan. 1 as a cutoff date for age groups. In the formative early years of youth hockey, players born in the first few months of the year were older and more mature, and therefore likelier to be tracked into elite leagues, with better coaching, more time on the ice, and a more talented cohort of teammates. Over the years this cumulative advantage gave the relatively older players an edge over their younger competitors.

Similarly, Jena noted, a 2017 working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggested that children born just after the cutoff date for starting school tended to have better long-term educational performance than their relatively younger peers born later in the year.

“In all of those scenarios, timing and age appear to be potent influencers of outcome,” Jena said.

Research has shown wide variations in ADHD diagnosis and treatment across different regions in the U.S. ADHD diagnosis and treatment rates have also climbed dramatically over the last 20 years. In 2016 alone, more than 5 percent of all children in the U.S. were taking medication for ADHD, the authors noted. All of these factors have fueled concerns about ADHD overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

The reasons for the rise in ADHD incidence are complex and multifactorial, Jena said. Arbitrary cutoff dates are likely just one of many variables driving this phenomenon, he added. In recent years, many states have adopted measures that hold schools accountable for identifying ADHD and give educators incentives to refer any child with symptoms suggesting ADHD for medical evaluation.“The diagnosis of this condition is not just related to the symptoms, it’s related to the context,” Jena said. “The relative age of the kids in class, laws and regulations, and other circumstances all come together.”

It is important to look at all of these factors before making a diagnosis and prescribing treatment, Jena said.

“A child’s age relative to his or her peers in the same grade should be taken into consideration and the reasons for referral carefully examined.”

Additonal co-authors include researchers from the Department of Health Care Policy, the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Department of Health Policy and Management, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health."
adhd  children  schools  schooling  schooliness  2018  psychology  health  drugs  diagnosis  behavior 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Educator: In Finland, I realized how 'mean-spirited’ the U.S. education system really is - The Washington Post
"The public school system is free to all, for as long as they live. Compulsory education extends from age 6 to 16. After that, students can choose schools, tracks and interests. Students can track academically or vocationally, change their minds midstream, or meld the two together. Remember the goal: competency.

Though students are required to go to school only until age 16, those who leave before secondary school are considered dropouts. Programs designed to entice these youngsters — typically those who struggle academically for a variety of reasons — back into education address the national 5 percent dropout rate. We visited one of these classrooms where teachers rotated three weeks of instruction with three weeks of internships in area businesses.

We toured a secondary school with both a technical and academic wing. The teachers were experimenting with melding the two programs. In the technical wing, we visited a classroom where adults were receiving training to make a career switch. Free.

The fact that students can fail and return, or work and return, or retire and return had a palpable effect on the mood and the tone of the buildings. Surprisingly, considering their achievements, Finnish students spend less time in the classroom, have more breaks throughout the day, and benefit from receiving medical, dental, psychiatric care and healthful meals while in school. It was ... nice.

In comparison, the United States public school system (an idea we invented, by the way) seems decidedly mean-spirited.

Our students enter at around age 5 and have some 13 years to attain a high school diploma. Failure to earn a diploma is a dead end for most. In the United States, when students fail at school — or leave due to many other factors, sometimes just as resistant teenagers — we are done with you. Sure, there are outliers who are successful through luck, sweat, connections or all three, but for most, the lack of a diploma is a serious obstacle toward advancement.

Without a high school diploma, educational aspirations can be severely truncated. Students need a high school diploma to attend community colleges and many technical schools which provide access to advanced skills that impact the living standard.

With or without the needed diploma, any additional education is at the student’s expense in time or money — a further blow to financial standing.

The 13-year window of opportunity does not factor in the developmental level of students at the time of entry. Any educator knows that children do not arrive with the same readiness to learn.

There are many other differences. Unlike the Finnish competency system, ours is based on meeting a prescribed set of standards by passing tests of discrete knowledge. Our students face a gauntlet of tests, even though any standards can be woefully outdated by the time a graduate enters a quickly evolving job market. The Finns take matriculation tests (there is choice in these as well) at the end of secondary but all interviewed said the scores did not have much bearing on what students could do next.""
finland  schools  us  education  policy  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  competition  competitiveness  marytedro  valeriestrauss  politics  economics  assessment  testing  standardizedtesting  competency  vocational  schooling  2018  readiness  standardization  standards  work  labor  opportunity  dropouts  care  caring 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Surveillance Kills Freedom By Killing Experimentation | WIRED
"In my book Data and Goliath, I write about the value of privacy. I talk about how it is essential for political liberty and justice, and for commercial fairness and equality. I talk about how it increases personal freedom and individual autonomy, and how the lack of it makes us all less secure. But this is probably the most important argument as to why society as a whole must protect privacy: it allows society to progress.

We know that surveillance has a chilling effect on freedom. People change their behavior when they live their lives under surveillance. They are less likely to speak freely and act individually. They self-censor. They become conformist. This is obviously true for government surveillance, but is true for corporate surveillance as well. We simply aren’t as willing to be our individual selves when others are watching.

Let’s take an example: hearing that parents and children are being separated as they cross the U.S. border, you want to learn more. You visit the website of an international immigrants’ rights group, a fact that is available to the government through mass internet surveillance. You sign up for the group’s mailing list, another fact that is potentially available to the government. The group then calls or emails to invite you to a local meeting. Same. Your license plates can be collected as you drive to the meeting; your face can be scanned and identified as you walk into and out of the meeting. If instead of visiting the website you visit the group’s Facebook page, Facebook knows that you did and that feeds into its profile of you, available to advertisers and political activists alike. Ditto if you like their page, share a link with your friends, or just post about the issue.

Maybe you are an immigrant yourself, documented or not. Or maybe some of your family is. Or maybe you have friends or coworkers who are. How likely are you to get involved if you know that your interest and concern can be gathered and used by government and corporate actors? What if the issue you are interested in is pro- or anti-gun control, anti-police violence or in support of the police? Does that make a difference?

Maybe the issue doesn’t matter, and you would never be afraid to be identified and tracked based on your political or social interests. But even if you are so fearless, you probably know someone who has more to lose, and thus more to fear, from their personal, sexual, or political beliefs being exposed.

This isn’t just hypothetical. In the months and years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many of us censored what we spoke about on social media or what we searched on the internet. We know from a 2013 PEN study that writers in the United States self-censored their browsing habits out of fear the government was watching. And this isn’t exclusively an American event; internet self-censorship is prevalent across the globe, China being a prime example.

Ultimately, this fear stagnates society in two ways. The first is that the presence of surveillance means society cannot experiment with new things without fear of reprisal, and that means those experiments—if found to be inoffensive or even essential to society—cannot slowly become commonplace, moral, and then legal. If surveillance nips that process in the bud, change never happens. All social progress—from ending slavery to fighting for women’s rights—began as ideas that were, quite literally, dangerous to assert. Yet without the ability to safely develop, discuss, and eventually act on those assertions, our society would not have been able to further its democratic values in the way that it has.

Consider the decades-long fight for gay rights around the world. Within our lifetimes we have made enormous strides to combat homophobia and increase acceptance of queer folks’ right to marry. Queer relationships slowly progressed from being viewed as immoral and illegal, to being viewed as somewhat moral and tolerated, to finally being accepted as moral and legal.

In the end it was the public nature of those activities that eventually slayed the bigoted beast, but the ability to act in private was essential in the beginning for the early experimentation, community building, and organizing.

Marijuana legalization is going through the same process: it’s currently sitting between somewhat moral, and—depending on the state or country in question—tolerated and legal. But, again, for this to have happened, someone decades ago had to try pot and realize that it wasn’t really harmful, either to themselves or to those around them. Then it had to become a counterculture, and finally a social and political movement. If pervasive surveillance meant that those early pot smokers would have been arrested for doing something illegal, the movement would have been squashed before inception. Of course the story is more complicated than that, but the ability for members of society to privately smoke weed was essential for putting it on the path to legalization.

We don’t yet know which subversive ideas and illegal acts of today will become political causes and positive social change tomorrow, but they’re around. And they require privacy to germinate. Take away that privacy, and we’ll have a much harder time breaking down our inherited moral assumptions.

The second way surveillance hurts our democratic values is that it encourages society to make more things illegal. Consider the things you do—the different things each of us does—that portions of society find immoral. Not just recreational drugs and gay sex, but gambling, dancing, public displays of affection. All of us do things that are deemed immoral by some groups, but are not illegal because they don’t harm anyone. But it’s important that these things can be done out of the disapproving gaze of those who would otherwise rally against such practices.

If there is no privacy, there will be pressure to change. Some people will recognize that their morality isn’t necessarily the morality of everyone—and that that’s okay. But others will start demanding legislative change, or using less legal and more violent means, to force others to match their idea of morality.

It’s easy to imagine the more conservative (in the small-c sense, not in the sense of the named political party) among us getting enough power to make illegal what they would otherwise be forced to witness. In this way, privacy helps protect the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

This is how we got Prohibition in the 1920s, and if we had had today’s surveillance capabilities in the 1920s it would have been far more effectively enforced. Recipes for making your own spirits would have been much harder to distribute. Speakeasies would have been impossible to keep secret. The criminal trade in illegal alcohol would also have been more effectively suppressed. There would have been less discussion about the harms of Prohibition, less “what if we didn’t…” thinking. Political organizing might have been difficult. In that world, the law might have stuck to this day.

China serves as a cautionary tale. The country has long been a world leader in the ubiquitous surveillance of its citizens, with the goal not of crime prevention but of social control. They are about to further enhance their system, giving every citizen a “social credit” rating. The details are yet unclear, but the general concept is that people will be rated based on their activities, both online and off. Their political comments, their friends and associates, and everything else will be assessed and scored. Those who are conforming, obedient, and apolitical will be given high scores. People without those scores will be denied privileges like access to certain schools and foreign travel. If the program is half as far-reaching as early reports indicate, the subsequent pressure to conform will be enormous. This social surveillance system is precisely the sort of surveillance designed to maintain the status quo.

For social norms to change, people need to deviate from these inherited norms. People need the space to try alternate ways of living without risking arrest or social ostracization. People need to be able to read critiques of those norms without anyone’s knowledge, discuss them without their opinions being recorded, and write about their experiences without their names attached to their words. People need to be able to do things that others find distasteful, or even immoral. The minority needs protection from the tyranny of the majority.

Privacy makes all of this possible. Privacy encourages social progress by giving the few room to experiment free from the watchful eye of the many. Even if you are not personally chilled by ubiquitous surveillance, the society you live in is, and the personal costs are unequivocal."
freedom  surveillance  authoritarianism  privacy  2018  bruceschneier  experimentation  ostracization  prohibition  history  legalization  society  liberty  creativity  unschooling  deschooling  us  parenting  schooling  learning  howwelearn  behavior 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Educational Tyranny of the Neurotypicals | WIRED
"Ben Draper, who runs the Macomber Center for Self Directed Learning, says that while the center is designed for all types of children, kids whose parents identify them as on the autism spectrum often thrive at the center when they’ve had difficulty in conventional schools. Ben is part of the so-called unschooling movement, which believes that not only should learning be self-directed, in fact we shouldn't even focus on guiding learning. Children will learn in the process of pursuing their passions, the reasoning goes, and so we just need to get out of their way, providing support as needed.

Many, of course, argue that such an approach is much too unstructured and verges on irresponsibility. In retrospect, though, I feel I certainly would have thrived on “unschooling.” In a recent paper, Ben and my colleague Andre Uhl, who first introduced me to unschooling, argue that it not only works for everyone, but that the current educational system, in addition to providing poor learning outcomes, impinges on the rights of children as individuals.

MIT is among a small number of institutions that, in the pre-internet era, provided a place for non-neurotypical types with extraordinary skills to gather and form community and culture. Even MIT, however, is still trying to improve to give these kids the diversity and flexibility they need, especially in our undergraduate program.

I'm not sure how I'd be diagnosed, but I was completely incapable of being traditionally educated. I love to learn, but I go about it almost exclusively through conversations and while working on projects. I somehow kludged together a world view and life with plenty of struggle, but also with many rewards. I recently wrote a PhD dissertation about my theory of the world and how I developed it. Not that anyone should generalize from my experience—one reader of my dissertation said that I’m so unusual, I should be considered a "human sub-species." While I take that as a compliment, I think there are others like me who weren’t as lucky and ended up going through the traditional system and mostly suffering rather than flourishing. In fact, most kids probably aren’t as lucky as me and while some types are more suited for success in the current configuration of society, a huge percentage of kids who fail in the current system have a tremendous amount to contribute that we aren’t tapping into.

In addition to equipping kids for basic literacy and civic engagement, industrial age schools were primarily focused on preparing kids to work in factories or perform repetitive white-collar jobs. It may have made sense to try to convert kids into (smart) robotlike individuals who could solve problems on standardized tests alone with no smartphone or the internet and just a No. 2 pencil. Sifting out non-neurotypical types or trying to remediate them with drugs or institutionalization may have seemed important for our industrial competitiveness. Also, the tools for instruction were also limited by the technology of the times. In a world where real robots are taking over many of those tasks, perhaps we need to embrace neurodiversity and encourage collaborative learning through passion, play, and projects, in other words, to start teaching kids to learn in ways that machines can’t. We can also use modern technology for connected learning that supports diverse interests and abilities and is integrated into our lives and communities of interest.

At the Media Lab, we have a research group called Lifelong Kindergarten, and the head of the group, Mitchel Resnick, recently wrote a book by the same name. The book is about the group’s research on creative learning and the four Ps—Passion, Peers, Projects, and Play. The group believes, as I do, that we learn best when we are pursuing our passion and working with others in a project-based environment with a playful approach. My memory of school was "no cheating,” “do your own work,” "focus on the textbook, not on your hobbies or your projects," and "there’s time to play at recess, be serious and study or you'll be shamed"—exactly the opposite of the four Ps.

Many mental health issues, I believe, are caused by trying to “fix” some type of neurodiversity or by simply being insensitive or inappropriate for the person. Many mental “illnesses” can be “cured” by providing the appropriate interface to learning, living, or interacting for that person focusing on the four Ps. My experience with the educational system, both as its subject and, now, as part of it, is not so unique. I believe, in fact, that at least the one-quarter of people who are diagnosed as somehow non-neurotypical struggle with the structure and the method of modern education. People who are wired differently should be able to think of themselves as the rule, not as an exception."
neurotypicals  neurodiversity  education  schools  schooling  learning  inequality  elitism  meritocracy  power  bias  diversity  autism  psychology  stevesilberman  schooliness  unschooling  deschooling  ronsuskind  mentalhealth  mitchresnick  mit  mitemedialab  medialab  lifelongkindergarten  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  pedagogy  tyranny  2018  economics  labor  bendraper  flexibility  admissions  colleges  universities  joiito 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Real Enemy of Education Reform: It’s the Colleges, Stupid | The New Republic
"Colleges do very well under the status quo. And that’s bad for students and our economy."



"Where is all this money going? Many point to the rise of university administrator salaries and staffs. (You might know them as the college presidents complaining about all these changes Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want to make to the higher education system.) Another possible culprit is bloated construction costs, which go toward building show palaces for…well, for the administrators to crow about, and attract more students to pay those high tuition rates.

Whatever explanation appeals to you, the failures of the current system point clearly toward supplying a public debt-free option as a way to drive down costs. This would provide an anchor against skyrocketing costs, and force the cleanup of administrative bloat and unnecessary construction spending. You can force public colleges to lower costs as a condition of accepting tuition reimbursement. And if a glut of student loans causes prices to rise, then a free public option would reverse the effect.

This goes back to the core issue: Incumbents prospering from a system don’t have much interest in seeing it change. And those wanting to reform the system must challenge those incumbents. It’s easier to single out the easy villains, the Sallie Maes and the Corinthian Colleges. But that just sidesteps the real opponent, and will lead to something far less than reform.

Most colleges are seen in a fairly benevolent light. Large higher-education institutions are often major employers in their communities. They drive innovation, and provide sanctuary to some of our best thinkers. And for many adults, they are wrapped in the warm and fuzzy gauze of nostalgia. It’s hard to get people to see them as propping up a crisis that is over-burdening students and even stunting the growth of our economy. But until we do, it’s going to be very difficult to see any change."
colleges  universities  education  schools  schooling  deschooling  unschooling  hierarchy  inequality  economics  capitalism  elitism  highered  highereducation 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Societies | Free Full-Text | Inequality Is a Problem of Inference: How People Solve the Social Puzzle of Unequal Outcomes
"A new wave of scholarship recognizes the importance of people’s understanding of inequality that underlies their political convictions, civic values, and policy views. Much less is known, however, about the sources of people’s different beliefs. I argue that scholarship is hampered by a lack of consensus regarding the conceptualization and measurement of inequality beliefs, in the absence of an organizing theory. To fill this gap, in this paper, I develop a framework for studying the social basis of people’s explanations for inequality. I propose that people observe unequal outcomes and must infer the invisible forces that brought these about, be they meritocratic or structural in nature. In making inferences about the causes of inequality, people draw on lessons from past experience and information about the world, both of which are biased and limited by their background, social networks, and the environments they have been exposed to. Looking at inequality beliefs through this lens allows for an investigation into the kinds of experiences and environments that are particularly salient in shaping people’s inferential accounts of inequality. Specifically, I make a case for investigating how socializing institutions such as schools and neighborhoods are “inferential spaces” that shape how children and young adults come to learn about their unequal society and their own place in it. I conclude by proposing testable hypotheses and implications for research."
inequality  meritocracy  2018  schooling  schools  education  unschooling  deschooling  democracy  neighborhoods  society  institutions  jonathanmijs 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Kitchen Table Cult
"Kitchen Table Cult unpacks all the things Kieryn and Hännah learned at the kitchen tables of their childhoods in conservative Christian homeschooling families. Every week we take your questions and drill down on various topics about Quiverfull, the Religious Right, and our childhoods in high-demand groups (otherwise known as cults).

We’re not surprised about the rise of Trump, Christian fascism, or evangelical white women voting for someone like Mike Pence, and we want to take you back through the beginning of it all to explain why."

[Kieryn and Hännah on Twitter and elsewhere online:

Kieryn Darkwater
https://twitter.com/mxdarkwater
https://www.responsiblehomeschooling.org/about-crhe/who-we-are/kieryn-darkwater/
https://homeschoolersanonymous.org/?s=Kierstyn+King
https://mxdarkwater.com/

Hännah Hettinger
https://twitter.com/haettinger
https://tinyletter.com/haettinger/archive ]

[Fascinating conversation with harrowing experiences. One apprehension (from Episode 1): seems to oversell public (and private) school education and doesn't mention the many, many terrible outcomes that come from it.
https://soundcloud.com/kitchentablecult/episode-one-beginning-at-the-end
https://kitchentablecult.com/2018/07/18/episode-one-beginning-at-the-end/ ]

[Some other episodes of note:

Episode Three: Diligently Taught
"Hännah and Kieryn discuss the intersections of homeschooling, race, privilege, and children's rights."
https://soundcloud.com/kitchentablecult/episode-three-diligently-taught
https://kitchentablecult.com/2018/08/01/episode-three-diligently-taught/

Episode Five: What is HSLDA? (lots of refs in post)
"Hännah and Kieryn talk with Kathryn Brightbill, Legislative Policy Analyst at CRHE about the Homeschool Legal Defense Association – what their role is in the current state of things, where they came from, and why they’ve managed to win so far."
https://soundcloud.com/kitchentablecult/episode-five-what-is-hslda
https://kitchentablecult.com/2018/08/20/episode-5-what-is-hslda/

Episode 10: Educational Neglect
"Kieryn and Hännah delve into the negative aspects of their homeschool educations, and why they are so passionate about advocating for homeschool reform. When homeschooling goes wrong, it can go very very wrong..."
https://soundcloud.com/kitchentablecult/episode-10-educational-neglect
https://kitchentablecult.com/2018/09/26/episode-ten-educational-neglect/ ] ]

[more from Kieryn
https://www.autostraddle.com/i-was-trained-for-the-culture-wars-in-home-school-awaiting-someone-like-mike-pence-as-a-messiah-367057/
https://www.autostraddle.com/author/kieryn/ ]
homeschool  education  evangelical  school  schooling  learning  neglect  unschooling  howwelearn  christianity  children  parenting  2018  fundamentalism  girls  stayathomedaughters  women  gender  hslda  sexuality  politics  religion  hännahettinger  kieryndarkwater  christofascism  resistance  activism 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Tawana aka Honeycomb on Twitter: "In my plot to actually undo racism, I find myself thinking about the ways we have allowed the narrative of "privilege" to stagnate antiracism organizing."
"In my plot to actually undo racism, I find myself thinking about the ways we have allowed the narrative of "privilege" to stagnate antiracism organizing.

It reinforces hierarchy. It reinforces Blackness/POC identities as inferior (underprivileged), and it promotes performative testimonials of white guilt and acceptance of hierarchy as a "fact" with a never-ending solution.

What would it mean to actually tell white people that they aren't privileged. That the things that are being claimed as a privilege are basic human rights? How do we get beyond the notion of civil rights, if we make human rights a privilege?

At what point in antiracism organizing do we allow white people to truly look inward at the deficit to their humanity, caused by the notion and system of white supremacy?

It is typically those white people who feel they have failed to live up to the notion of white superiority/system of white supremacy, that we find creating the levels of violence we see in white communities. The very same system that creates violence in Black & POC communities.

It's time for a new conversation. New language. The way we've been doing things has turned into a performance. People still get to go home feeling either superior or inferior.

The way to systemically challenge white supremacy is to call to attention it's need to create an underclass, an othering in order to survive. Without the inferior, there is no superior. Where are the people who truly want to dismantle white supremacy? They aren't allies . . .

They are co-liberators who recognize that their humanity is tied up into dismantling white supremacy as well. They aren't opting in with white privilege testimonials. They are standing up against police brutality, gun violence, etc., because they see the connection.

They aren't entering rooms thinking they are more intellectual than their Black & POC comrades. They recognize that there is a difference between schooling and education. And they respect the expertise that comes from Black & POC communities, about their own experiences.

If we are truly going to systemically struggle against this white supremacist system that is killing us all, we gotta be willing to listen to each other. We have to be willing to admit that we haven't gone deep enough in the struggle against racism.

I don't need to hear another white person perform a privilege testimonial for me. I know that most don't even believe it. I can see it in your faces. I would argue you are right. I would never argue that anti-Black racism isn't a global phenomenon, or that we don't experience

inordinate amounts of blatant racism because of the color of our skin. They translate into policy, police brutality, schooling, etc. However, what I need folks to do is pause and look at the impact in white communities. This is not a comparison, it's a mirror.

None of us are living up to the system or standard of white supremacy. We are literally dying! On our street corners, in schools, in churches, in mosques, in synagogues, in movie theaters, at marches, at marathons . . . I don't have all the answers. I have a bunch of questions.

Somebody gotta start asking them."
privilege  race  humanrights  2018  antiracism  performance  superiority  inferiority  schooling  education  liberation  humanity  humanism  racism  whitesupremacy  guilt  whiteguilt  hierarchy  civilrights 
november 2018 by robertogreco
We can’t educate our kids out of inequality
"Those who tout the advantages of a good education like to conjure an image of some future society full of educated professionals all working stable, fulfilling, and salaried jobs. But even the worst students can look around the world and see through this. They can see the economic instability facing most people, and they know that a good education won’t undo the vagaries of the gig economy, or replace the protections of a union. But, they’re told, if you do well enough in school, then hopefully you won’t have to worry about that stuff.

This false promise was more disheartening that any other realization I had while working with students. Unfair tests, confusing admissions policies, unequal schools — all that is bad but sadly unsurprising, so you can prepare yourself for it. On the other hand, I was not prepared to lie to students about how, if they just figured out trig functions, then everything would be OK.

Education fetishism gives the illusion of fairness to society’s inequalities. Grades and test scores and college rankings mirror the stratification of the economy, and apply a thin veneer of meritocracy to that hierarchy. What students internalize about school is that it is primarily about ranking people. So attempts to improve education are really attempts to make those rankings more accurate, instead of making them less determinative. As long as this is true, then education is not really the solution to society’s problems. Even bold steps to improve schools and bring down college costs will not fix the problem of inequality, since status and sorting are also the results of education in America.

None of this is to say that education is bad or that schools should not be improved for their own sake. Learning things, after all, is fun. Education is great when it’s about teaching people stuff they want to know. But because school has to serve this burden of fixing social problems it is not equipped to fix, it cannot simply teach students interesting things they want to learn. Students should learn trig functions because they are an elegant solution to a complicated problem. They should read Hamlet because it’s a good play. They should learn things because there is value in learning them.

Instead, educators have to rend these subjects apart, breaking them into supposedly marketable skills like “reading comprehension” and “analytical reasoning” so that they can be used to demonstrate a student’s market value and justify patently unjust economic outcomes. As long as this is the case, then not only will inequality fail to get better, but education will continue to get worse. Instead of insisting we can educate ourselves out of the social problems capitalism creates, we should learn something new."



"This false promise was more disheartening that any other realization I had while working with students. Unfair tests, confusing admissions policies, unequal schools — all that is bad but sadly unsurprising, so you can prepare yourself for it. On the other hand, I was not prepared to lie to students about how, if they just figured out trig functions, then everything would be OK.

Education fetishism gives the illusion of fairness to society’s inequalities. Grades and test scores and college rankings mirror the stratification of the economy, and apply a thin veneer of meritocracy to that hierarchy. What students internalize about school is that it is primarily about ranking people. So attempts to improve education are really attempts to make those rankings more accurate, instead of making them less determinative. As long as this is true, then education is not really the solution to society’s problems. Even bold steps to improve schools and bring down college costs will not fix the problem of inequality, since status and sorting are also the results of education in America.

None of this is to say that education is bad or that schools should not be improved for their own sake. Learning things, after all, is fun. Education is great when it’s about teaching people stuff they want to know. But because school has to serve this burden of fixing social problems it is not equipped to fix, it cannot simply teach students interesting things they want to learn. Students should learn trig functions because they are an elegant solution to a complicated problem. They should read Hamlet because it’s a good play. They should learn things because there is value in learning them.

Instead, educators have to rend these subjects apart, breaking them into supposedly marketable skills like “reading comprehension” and “analytical reasoning” so that they can be used to demonstrate a student’s market value and justify patently unjust economic outcomes. As long as this is the case, then not only will inequality fail to get better, but education will continue to get worse. Instead of insisting we can educate ourselves out of the social problems capitalism creates, we should learn something new."
education  inequality  tutoring  schools  2018  hierarchy  economics  admissions  class  meritocracy  sorting  johnschneider  schooling  society  capitalism  gigeconomy  colleges  universities  grades  grading  learning  deschooling  unions  socialsafetynet  testing  bias 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Compulsory SRE? How about we stop teaching children that their consent doesn’t matter in the first place. | Sophie Christophy
"Consent isn’t something you can teach, it is an experience and a feeling. When someone asks you for your consent, to be able to consent in an meaningful way, a person needs to be able to pause, think and reflect – Do I want to do this? Do I want this to happen to me? – without coercion. They experience a feeling of being in control of their own destiny, of looking within themselves, to see if they do indeed want to consent to what is being proposed, or not. They need to know that the person asking for their consent genuinely means it, and will respect their response, in order for the consent to be meaningful.

Trying to ‘teach’ this, whilst persistently exposing children to a non-consensual environment, I just don’t see how it works."
sophiechristopy  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  howwelearn  consent  sexed  sexuality  schooling  schooliness  2017 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Rethinking Learning to Read, by Harriet Pattison — A Book Review | Alliance for Self-Directed Education
[via: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1056254550397485056 ]

"Parents in the sample drew on a diversity of approaches and practices when supporting their children in learning to read. Perhaps unsurprisingly parents’ views in the sample were heavily influenced by phonics. However what was significant was that not all families used phonics based methods, some were openly critical of it and some of the children did not respond well and resisted a phonics based approach. Families shared: “No phonics, no flash cards, no traditional teaching methods were used in our home – for reading or anything else” and “Phonics doesn’t suit every child – as a very strong visual learner my daughter finds the individual sounds in words meaningless ... she hears words as a single sound.”

Some families drew on whole word learning approaches, some an eclectic mix, while others acknowledged the limitations of using methods and a number preferred to use no methods at all because this is what they felt was the best approach for their particular child and that they would learn to read naturally by engaging in everyday life. “Living a life style of literacy”; “Living life in a world where words are everywhere” and “Given time and exposure children will learn to read and will enjoy it.”

Some children also developed their own methods which drew on word recognition, memorisation and guessing, or together with a parent they co-created a unique approach which suited them. It was apparent that what suited one child may not suit another and this included children within the same family, one parent said: “There is not a “one-size-fits-all” magic formula” and another family: “often requiring different resources to be available at different times rather than following a single ‘method’ throughout.”

Away from phonics families were actively and pragmatically choosing methods and approaches with the best fit for the child and they were using those methods in ways that were facilitative of their relationships, the child’s learning and their emotional well being. In taking this open and flexible approach families were placing the child at the centre of the learning experience. For example, a parent said “Go with what works for that particular child” and another “The method is not important; the important [thing] is that the child likes it.“

The sample was characterised by a diversity of accounts, there was no one singular approach that could be used to describe the theoretical positions adopted by this group of parents. In fact as a home educating parent and also as a researcher Pattison explains that it is not necessary for a parent to hold an understanding of what reading is or how reading happens for it is precisely this “not knowing”, questioning and flexible state of mind that enables a parent to be reflexive and responsive to their child, putting the relationship first and re-thinking what reading actually is."
howweread  reading  education  unschooling  phonics  pedagogy  2017  emmaforde  harrietpattison  children  language  deschooling  schooling  schools  homeschool 
october 2018 by robertogreco
The Reading Wars: Why Natural Learning Fails in Classrooms | Psychology Today
[via: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1056258640028491776 ]

"So, we have this puzzle. Out of school, children learn to read by what appear to be whole-word, whole-language methods. They read right off for meaning and they learn to recognize whole words and read whole passages before they pay much attention to individual letters or sounds. Phonics comes later, based on inferences that may be conscious or unconscious. Learning to read out of school is in some ways like learning oral language; you learn it, including the rules, with little awareness that you are learning it and little awareness of the rules that underlie it. But that doesn’t work well for learning to read in school. Learning there is better if you master the rules (the rules relating letters to sounds) before attending much to meaning.

The mistake of the progressive educators, I think, has been to assume that the classroom is or can be a natural learning environment. It isn’t, and (except in unusual circumstances) it can’t be. The classroom is a setting where you have a rather large group of children, all about the same age, and a teacher whose primary tasks are to keep order and impart a curriculum—the same curriculum for everyone. In that setting, the teacher decides what to do, not the students. If students decided, they would all decide on different things and there would be chaos. No matter how liberal-minded the teacher is, real, prolonged self-direction and self-motivation is not possible in the classroom. In this setting, children must suppress their own interests, not follow them. While children out of school learn what and because they want to, children in school must learn or go through the motions of learning what the teacher wants them to learn in the way the teacher wants them to do it. The result is slow, tedious, shallow learning that is about procedure, not meaning, regardless of the teacher’s intent.

The classroom is all about training. Training is the process of getting reluctant organisms to do or learn what the trainer wants them to do or learn. Under those conditions, methods that focus on the mechanical processes underlying reading—the conversion of sights to sounds—work better than methods that attempt to promote reading through meaning, which requires that students care about the meaning, which requires that they be able to follow their own interests, which is not possible in the classroom."
petergray  reading  howwelearn  education  unschooling  deschooling  2013  training  schools  schooling  wholelanguage  phonics  learning  progressive  curriculum  pedagogy 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Black Mountain College: "The Grass-Roots of Democracy" - Open Source with Christopher Lydon
"Our guest, the literary historian Louis Menand, explains that B.M.C. was a philosophical experiment intent on putting the progressive philosopher John Dewey‘s ideas to work in higher education. The college curriculum was unbelievably permissive — but it did ask that students undertake their own formation as citizens of the world by means of creative expression, and hard work, in a community of likeminded people.

The college may not have lived up to its utopian self-image — the scene was frequently riven by interpersonal conflict — but it did serve as a stage-set to some of modern culture’s most interesting personalities and partnerships."
bmc  blackmountaincollege  rutherickson  louismenand  teddreier  theodoredreier  sebastiansmee  taylordavis  williamdavis  2016  robertcreeley  jacoblawrence  josefalbers  robertrauschenberg  annialbers  davidtudor  franzkline  mercecunningham  johncage  charlesolson  buckminsterfuller  johndewey  democracy  art  music  film  poetry  cytwombly  bauhaus  experientiallearning  howwelearn  education  johnandrewrice  unschooling  deschooling  schools  schooling  learning  howelearn  howweteach  pedagogy  christopherlydon  abstractexpressionism  popart  jacksonpollock  arthistory  history  arts  purpose  lcproject  openstudioproject  leapbeforeyoulook  canon  discovery  conflict  artists  happenings  openness  rural  community  highered  highereducation  curriculum  willemdekooning  small  control  conversation  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  mitmedialab  medialab  chaos  utopia  dicklyons  artschools  davidbowie  experimentation  exploration  humanity  humanism  humility  politics 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Carol Black: Alternatives to Schooling on Vimeo
"Carol Black is an education analyst, television producer, and director of the film Schooling the World. This is her plenary talk at the Economics of Happiness conference, held in Portland, Oregon, in February 2015. The conference was organized by Local Futures, a non-profit organization that has been promoting a shift from global to local for nearly 40 years."
carolblack  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  howelearn  schools  schooling  happiness  alternative  work  play  experimentation  development  children  age  segregation  experience  experientialeducation  readiness  compulsion  control  authoritarianism  authority  power  standardization  centralization  publicschools  corporations  corporatism  compulsory  agesegregaton  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  conviviality  ivanillich  community  howwelearn  2015  institutions  institutionalizations  diversity 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Carol Black: Reclaiming Our Children, Reclaiming Our World - YouTube
"Carol Black directed the documentary film Schooling the World, which describes how western-style schools help destroy indigenous cultures worldwide. This talk was given at ISEC's Economics of Happiness conference in Berkeley, California, in March 2012."
carolblack  unschooling  deschooling  economics  humans  learning  howwelearn  schools  schooling  brains  development  children  education  agesegregation  us  history  literacy  standardization  centralization  publicschools  corporations  corporatism  compulsory  control  power  agesegregaton  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  2012 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Carol Black on Twitter: "FYI: Dr. Chester M. Pierce, who coined the term "microaggression," also coined the term "childism:" https://t.co/vYyMkeWWpj HT @TobyRollo #Childism… https://t.co/2ZOH24MVIf"
"FYI:

Dr. Chester M. Pierce, who coined the term "microaggression," also coined the term "childism:"

https://www.healio.com/psychiatry/journals/psycann/1975-7-5-7/%7B289c676d-8693-4e7a-841e-2ce5d7f6d9f2%7D/childism HT @TobyRollo #Childism
"We contend that childism is the basic form of oppression in our society and underlies all alienation and violence, for it teaches everyone how to be an oppressor and makes them focus on the exercise of raw power rather than on volitional humaneness...

"Like its derivatives, sexism and racism, it is found in virtually everyone. Modification of childist practices would alter other oppressive systems that retard the development of humankind to its full potential."

—CHESTER M. PIERCE, MD GAIL B. ALLEN, MD

2. "In childism, the child-victim is put on the defensive. He is expected to accommodate himself to the adult-aggressor, and is hardly ever permitted to initiate action or control a situation."

3. "The vehicle for most adult action is microaggression; the child is not rendered a gross brutalization, but is treated in such a way as to lower his self-esteem, dignity, and worthiness by means of subtle, cumulative, and unceasing adult deprecation."

4. "As a result of this constant barrage of micro-aggression, the child remains on the defensive, mobilizing constantly to conform and perform. This incessant mobilization is not without cost, psychologically and probably physiologically."

5. "These children have not been physically assaulted. They have, however, been subjected to a number of pejorative acts; the posture, gestures, tone of voice... were an abuse that indicates their inferiority, for no other reason than their social attribute of childhood."

6. "If such abuse were an isolated occurrence, it could be ignored. Yet in all probability these youngsters receive the same gratuitously abusive behavior many times a day from "loving parents," "devoted teachers," "kindly physicians," "concerned policemen..."

7. "This places the child in circumstances that bring about serious, protracted... stress... It has a cumulative effect that may exert a powerful influence on his adult behavior, just as sexist or racist practices affect the entire future of women or members of a minority group."

8. "Children remain the most oppressed group... The more we understand the oppression of children, the more we understand oppression of any individual or group. With a more informed understanding of this process, many traditional dominance patterns could be modified."

~ Chester M. Pierce, MD, former Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Education at Harvard University, and Gail B. Allen, MD. http://www.mghglobalpsychiatry.org/chesterpierce.php "
chesterpierce  gailallen  carolblack  childism  ageism  2018  microagression  tobyrollo  authoritarianism  deschooling  schooling  unschooling  schooliness  psychology  oppression  power  control  adults  behavior  stress  sexism  racism  children  dominance 
october 2018 by robertogreco
The History of the Future of High School - VICE
"The problem with American high school education, it seems, is not that students haven’t learned the “right skills.” The problem is that the systemic inequality of the school system has ensured that many students have been unable to participate fully in either the economy or, more fundamentally, in democracy. It’s not that there has been no tinkering, but that those doing the tinkering often have their own interests, rather than students’ interests, in mind."
audreywatters  2018  highschool  education  aptests  publicschools  schooling  change  betsydevos  power  privilege  inequality  democracy  history  larrycuban  davidtyack 
october 2018 by robertogreco
“Minding the Gap,” Reviewed: A Self-Questioning Documentary About What Happened to a Group of Young Skaters | The New Yorker
[Carol Black: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1052995478583836672

2-step lesson for teachers:

1. Watch this documentary about the kids who will NEVER adapt well to authoritarian environments like school. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5Vm_Awe3bw

2. Read how this skater kid learned to make brilliant films through self-directed learning, mentorships, discovery.

Through a slow process of experimentation, improvisation, exploration, director Bing Liu evolved from a skater kid with a video camera into a deep, accomplished filmmaker. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/minding-the-gap-reviewed-a-self-questioning-documentary-about-what-happened-to-a-group-of-young-skaters
As a teen-ager, a decade ago, in the small city of Rockford, Illinois, Bing Liu filmed himself and his friends skateboarding. He shot much of his footage while skating alongside them, and, as a result, the skating sequences of his documentary “Minding the Gap” (which opens today in theatres and streams on Hulu) have a surging, gliding, soaring, joyously speedy energy that offers a hypnotic whirl and rush. Those images of skating, however, are merely the background and context for the film, and the diverting thrill that they offer is crucial to the film’s substance. That substance—domestic trauma, systemic racism, and economic dislocation—is also the very stuff of society, and the near-at-hand intimacy gives rise to a film of vast scope and political depth.

Allowing his film to unfold over years of shooting and editing and re-editing, Liu uncovered the hidden depth and dimension in his subject matter.
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/minding-the-gap-reviewed-a-self-questioning-documentary-about-what-happened-to-a-group-of-young-skaters
“Minding the Gap” builds Liu’s investigations, and the personal and ethical considerations that they entail, into the film. What he discovers—and films—of his friends’ present-day lives disturbs him, and Liu grapples with his own conflicts even while filming himself grappling with them. The details of the film make for an exemplary work of reporting. Liu’s clear revelation of specific yet complex events brings out psychological causality and logical connections but doesn’t impose a narrative; rather, the drama crystallizes as the events unfold. It’s a documentary in which the very nature of investigation is established—intellectually, aesthetically, and morally—by way of the personal implication of the filmmaker in the subject, of the filmmaker’s own need to make the images, to talk with the participants, to get beyond the surfaces of the settings. “Minding the Gap” is a personal documentary of the highest sort, in which the film’s necessity to the filmmaker—and its obstacles, its resistances, its emotional and moral demands on him—are part of its very existence.

Learning technical skills from online forums and by emulating filmmakers who inspired him, Liu was then able to allow the personal, emotional story to emerge. https://filmmakermagazine.com/105737-i-had-a-moral-crisis-bing-liu-on-minding-the-gap-personal-doc-voiceovers-and-cycles-of-abuse/#.W8i8by-ZMWo
Filmmaker: I had seen part of a cut that you had about a year ago. What I remember is, there was a lot more voiceover and the structure was different. There was a scene in the first ten minutes where you’re going to meet your mom to do the interview about you being abused by your stepfather, and you’re being interviewed in the car on the way: “So how do you feel about this?” At a certain point, obviously a lot of those things changed. Documentary editing processes are inherently long and complicated, but I’d love it if you could talk about thinking through some of those changes.

Liu: I didn’t begin the film wanting to be in the film. My background is, I got a camera to make videos when I was 14. I watched movies that inspired me, like Waking Life, Kids and Gummo. Some of my first shorts when I was a teen were this sort of Slacker plot where I follow people around Rockford as they interact with each other. The structure is based off of hand-offs, to give you a slice of community and the people in it. Anyway, I learned cinematography and editing through going to forums. There’s this website called Skate Perception that was kind of the Reddit for skate media makers all over the country. This was in the 2000s, when the internet was still finding its identity in many ways. It no longer exists; forums aren’t really a thing, for the most part.

“I didn’t go to film school, because everybody that I worked with in film was like: if you go to school, don’t go to school for film.” https://nofilmschool.com/2018/08/minding-gap-bing-liu-interview
NFS: How did you develop your unconventional aesthetics over time, starting from such a young age?

Liu: It was a mix of just emulating other creators and films that I was watching and also just going online and learning. By the time I was 16, I had a camera that I could set exposure and color temperature and with ND filters on it. By the time I was 17, I had a 24p camera and I was building my own dollies, so it was sort of just like exploring and emulation of what was happening at the time, which was a mix of the internet connecting more people, and also the DIY-style filmmaking that was growing with the advent of DSLR shooting video. I never really saw a career in film as a viable thing. I thought making films was just what I did.
"The Glidecam was freeing because you can run down stairs when you get good enough at it, and even jump over things with the cameras."

NFS: How did you transition to realizing that you could actually do this professionally?

Liu: It was when I got a job as a PA when I was 19 and I was like, “Oh, I can get paid $50 a day to like fetch coffee and carry heavy camera cases around for 14 hours.” It was less about the $50 and more about the “Oh, you can do this.”

NFS: That's what we're always telling people who want to break into the business: just get on set.

Liu: Yeah, I didn't go to film school, because everybody that I worked with in film was like: if you go to school. don't go to school for film, and so I went to school for literature.
]
bingliu  mindingthegap  film  filmmaking  documentary  srg  unschooling  deschooling  authority  authoritarianism  school  schooling  schools  learning  skating  skateboarding  self-directed  self-directedlearning  howwelearn  canon  video  domesticviolence  2018  carolblack  teaching  howweteach  schooliness  online  internet  web  domestictrauma  economics  rustbelt  society  childabuse  children  teens  youth  streetculture  illinois  rockford  friendship  parenting  dropouts  aesthetics  filmschool  emulation  cinematography 
october 2018 by robertogreco
'Minding the Gap': How Bing Liu Turned 12 Years of Skate Footage into the Year's Most Heartfelt Doc
[Carol Black: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1052995478583836672

2-step lesson for teachers:

1. Watch this documentary about the kids who will NEVER adapt well to authoritarian environments like school. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5Vm_Awe3bw

2. Read how this skater kid learned to make brilliant films through self-directed learning, mentorships, discovery.

Through a slow process of experimentation, improvisation, exploration, director Bing Liu evolved from a skater kid with a video camera into a deep, accomplished filmmaker. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/minding-the-gap-reviewed-a-self-questioning-documentary-about-what-happened-to-a-group-of-young-skaters
As a teen-ager, a decade ago, in the small city of Rockford, Illinois, Bing Liu filmed himself and his friends skateboarding. He shot much of his footage while skating alongside them, and, as a result, the skating sequences of his documentary “Minding the Gap” (which opens today in theatres and streams on Hulu) have a surging, gliding, soaring, joyously speedy energy that offers a hypnotic whirl and rush. Those images of skating, however, are merely the background and context for the film, and the diverting thrill that they offer is crucial to the film’s substance. That substance—domestic trauma, systemic racism, and economic dislocation—is also the very stuff of society, and the near-at-hand intimacy gives rise to a film of vast scope and political depth.

Allowing his film to unfold over years of shooting and editing and re-editing, Liu uncovered the hidden depth and dimension in his subject matter.
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/minding-the-gap-reviewed-a-self-questioning-documentary-about-what-happened-to-a-group-of-young-skaters
“Minding the Gap” builds Liu’s investigations, and the personal and ethical considerations that they entail, into the film. What he discovers—and films—of his friends’ present-day lives disturbs him, and Liu grapples with his own conflicts even while filming himself grappling with them. The details of the film make for an exemplary work of reporting. Liu’s clear revelation of specific yet complex events brings out psychological causality and logical connections but doesn’t impose a narrative; rather, the drama crystallizes as the events unfold. It’s a documentary in which the very nature of investigation is established—intellectually, aesthetically, and morally—by way of the personal implication of the filmmaker in the subject, of the filmmaker’s own need to make the images, to talk with the participants, to get beyond the surfaces of the settings. “Minding the Gap” is a personal documentary of the highest sort, in which the film’s necessity to the filmmaker—and its obstacles, its resistances, its emotional and moral demands on him—are part of its very existence.

Learning technical skills from online forums and by emulating filmmakers who inspired him, Liu was then able to allow the personal, emotional story to emerge. https://filmmakermagazine.com/105737-i-had-a-moral-crisis-bing-liu-on-minding-the-gap-personal-doc-voiceovers-and-cycles-of-abuse/#.W8i8by-ZMWo
Filmmaker: I had seen part of a cut that you had about a year ago. What I remember is, there was a lot more voiceover and the structure was different. There was a scene in the first ten minutes where you’re going to meet your mom to do the interview about you being abused by your stepfather, and you’re being interviewed in the car on the way: “So how do you feel about this?” At a certain point, obviously a lot of those things changed. Documentary editing processes are inherently long and complicated, but I’d love it if you could talk about thinking through some of those changes.

Liu: I didn’t begin the film wanting to be in the film. My background is, I got a camera to make videos when I was 14. I watched movies that inspired me, like Waking Life, Kids and Gummo. Some of my first shorts when I was a teen were this sort of Slacker plot where I follow people around Rockford as they interact with each other. The structure is based off of hand-offs, to give you a slice of community and the people in it. Anyway, I learned cinematography and editing through going to forums. There’s this website called Skate Perception that was kind of the Reddit for skate media makers all over the country. This was in the 2000s, when the internet was still finding its identity in many ways. It no longer exists; forums aren’t really a thing, for the most part.

“I didn’t go to film school, because everybody that I worked with in film was like: if you go to school, don’t go to school for film.” https://nofilmschool.com/2018/08/minding-gap-bing-liu-interview
NFS: How did you develop your unconventional aesthetics over time, starting from such a young age?

Liu: It was a mix of just emulating other creators and films that I was watching and also just going online and learning. By the time I was 16, I had a camera that I could set exposure and color temperature and with ND filters on it. By the time I was 17, I had a 24p camera and I was building my own dollies, so it was sort of just like exploring and emulation of what was happening at the time, which was a mix of the internet connecting more people, and also the DIY-style filmmaking that was growing with the advent of DSLR shooting video. I never really saw a career in film as a viable thing. I thought making films was just what I did.
"The Glidecam was freeing because you can run down stairs when you get good enough at it, and even jump over things with the cameras."

NFS: How did you transition to realizing that you could actually do this professionally?

Liu: It was when I got a job as a PA when I was 19 and I was like, “Oh, I can get paid $50 a day to like fetch coffee and carry heavy camera cases around for 14 hours.” It was less about the $50 and more about the “Oh, you can do this.”

NFS: That's what we're always telling people who want to break into the business: just get on set.

Liu: Yeah, I didn't go to film school, because everybody that I worked with in film was like: if you go to school. don't go to school for film, and so I went to school for literature.
]
bingliu  mindingthegap  film  filmmaking  documentary  srg  unschooling  deschooling  authority  authoritarianism  school  schooling  schools  learning  skating  skateboarding  self-directed  self-directedlearning  howwelearn  canon  video  domesticviolence  2018  carolblack  teaching  howweteach  schooliness  online  internet  webapps  domestictrauma  economics  rustbelt  society  childabuse  children  teens  youth  streetculture  illinois  rockford  friendship  parenting  dropouts  aesthetics  filmschool  emulation  cinematography 
october 2018 by robertogreco
“I Had a Moral Crisis”: Bing Liu on Minding the Gap, Personal Doc Voiceovers and Cycles of Abuse | Filmmaker Magazine
[Carol Black: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1052995478583836672

2-step lesson for teachers:

1. Watch this documentary about the kids who will NEVER adapt well to authoritarian environments like school. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5Vm_Awe3bw

2. Read how this skater kid learned to make brilliant films through self-directed learning, mentorships, discovery.

Through a slow process of experimentation, improvisation, exploration, director Bing Liu evolved from a skater kid with a video camera into a deep, accomplished filmmaker. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/minding-the-gap-reviewed-a-self-questioning-documentary-about-what-happened-to-a-group-of-young-skaters
As a teen-ager, a decade ago, in the small city of Rockford, Illinois, Bing Liu filmed himself and his friends skateboarding. He shot much of his footage while skating alongside them, and, as a result, the skating sequences of his documentary “Minding the Gap” (which opens today in theatres and streams on Hulu) have a surging, gliding, soaring, joyously speedy energy that offers a hypnotic whirl and rush. Those images of skating, however, are merely the background and context for the film, and the diverting thrill that they offer is crucial to the film’s substance. That substance—domestic trauma, systemic racism, and economic dislocation—is also the very stuff of society, and the near-at-hand intimacy gives rise to a film of vast scope and political depth.

Allowing his film to unfold over years of shooting and editing and re-editing, Liu uncovered the hidden depth and dimension in his subject matter.
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/minding-the-gap-reviewed-a-self-questioning-documentary-about-what-happened-to-a-group-of-young-skaters
“Minding the Gap” builds Liu’s investigations, and the personal and ethical considerations that they entail, into the film. What he discovers—and films—of his friends’ present-day lives disturbs him, and Liu grapples with his own conflicts even while filming himself grappling with them. The details of the film make for an exemplary work of reporting. Liu’s clear revelation of specific yet complex events brings out psychological causality and logical connections but doesn’t impose a narrative; rather, the drama crystallizes as the events unfold. It’s a documentary in which the very nature of investigation is established—intellectually, aesthetically, and morally—by way of the personal implication of the filmmaker in the subject, of the filmmaker’s own need to make the images, to talk with the participants, to get beyond the surfaces of the settings. “Minding the Gap” is a personal documentary of the highest sort, in which the film’s necessity to the filmmaker—and its obstacles, its resistances, its emotional and moral demands on him—are part of its very existence.

Learning technical skills from online forums and by emulating filmmakers who inspired him, Liu was then able to allow the personal, emotional story to emerge. https://filmmakermagazine.com/105737-i-had-a-moral-crisis-bing-liu-on-minding-the-gap-personal-doc-voiceovers-and-cycles-of-abuse/#.W8i8by-ZMWo
Filmmaker: I had seen part of a cut that you had about a year ago. What I remember is, there was a lot more voiceover and the structure was different. There was a scene in the first ten minutes where you’re going to meet your mom to do the interview about you being abused by your stepfather, and you’re being interviewed in the car on the way: “So how do you feel about this?” At a certain point, obviously a lot of those things changed. Documentary editing processes are inherently long and complicated, but I’d love it if you could talk about thinking through some of those changes.

Liu: I didn’t begin the film wanting to be in the film. My background is, I got a camera to make videos when I was 14. I watched movies that inspired me, like Waking Life, Kids and Gummo. Some of my first shorts when I was a teen were this sort of Slacker plot where I follow people around Rockford as they interact with each other. The structure is based off of hand-offs, to give you a slice of community and the people in it. Anyway, I learned cinematography and editing through going to forums. There’s this website called Skate Perception that was kind of the Reddit for skate media makers all over the country. This was in the 2000s, when the internet was still finding its identity in many ways. It no longer exists; forums aren’t really a thing, for the most part.

“I didn’t go to film school, because everybody that I worked with in film was like: if you go to school, don’t go to school for film.” https://nofilmschool.com/2018/08/minding-gap-bing-liu-interview
NFS: How did you develop your unconventional aesthetics over time, starting from such a young age?

Liu: It was a mix of just emulating other creators and films that I was watching and also just going online and learning. By the time I was 16, I had a camera that I could set exposure and color temperature and with ND filters on it. By the time I was 17, I had a 24p camera and I was building my own dollies, so it was sort of just like exploring and emulation of what was happening at the time, which was a mix of the internet connecting more people, and also the DIY-style filmmaking that was growing with the advent of DSLR shooting video. I never really saw a career in film as a viable thing. I thought making films was just what I did.
"The Glidecam was freeing because you can run down stairs when you get good enough at it, and even jump over things with the cameras."

NFS: How did you transition to realizing that you could actually do this professionally?

Liu: It was when I got a job as a PA when I was 19 and I was like, “Oh, I can get paid $50 a day to like fetch coffee and carry heavy camera cases around for 14 hours.” It was less about the $50 and more about the “Oh, you can do this.”

NFS: That's what we're always telling people who want to break into the business: just get on set.

Liu: Yeah, I didn't go to film school, because everybody that I worked with in film was like: if you go to school. don't go to school for film, and so I went to school for literature.
]
bingliu  mindingthegap  film  filmmaking  documentary  srg  unschooling  deschooling  authority  authoritarianism  school  schooling  schools  learning  skating  skateboarding  self-directed  self-directedlearning  howwelearn  canon  video  domesticviolence  2018  carolblack  teaching  howweteach  schooliness  online  internet  web  domestictrauma  economics  rustbelt  society  childabuse  children  teens  youth  streetculture  illinois  rockford  friendship  parenting  dropouts  aesthetics  filmschool  emulation  cinematography 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Progressive Labels for Regressive Practices: How Key Terms in Education Have Been Co-opted - Alfie Kohn
[via: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1052629222089359361

"So here's the cycle:

1. Educators create valid term for needed reform.
2. Corporate/political forces co-opt term to sell bullshit to schools.
3. Regressive educators equate needed reform with bullshit "reform."
4. Needed reform is defeated & forgotten.

Example:

1. Educators advocate for differentiated/personalized learning as humane, relationship-based alternative to standardization.
2. Corporations co-opt term to sell algorithm-based-ed-tech bullshit.
3. Popular bloggers equate 'personalized learning' with edtech bullshit.
4. Public impression is created that 'personalized learning' is a negative, corporate-driven, bullshit concept.
5. Standardization prevails."

[my reply]

"“a dark commentary on how capitalism absorbs its critiques”" (quoting https://twitter.com/amandahess/status/1052689514039250945 ) ]

"“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

— Lewis Caroll, Through the Looking Glass

“Whole language” (WL), a collaborative, meaning-based approach to helping children learn to read and write, emerged a few decades ago as a grassroots movement. Until it was brought down by furious attacks from social conservatives, academic behaviorists, and others, many teachers were intrigued by this alternative to the phonics fetish and basal boom that defined the field. More than just an instructional technique, WL amounted to a declaration of independence from packaged reading programs. So how did the publishers of those programs respond? Some “absorbed the surface [features] of WL and sold them back to teachers.” Others just claimed that whatever was already in their commercial materials — bite-size chunks of literature and prefabricated lesson plans — was whole language.[1]

Until you can beat them, pretend to join them: WL is literally a textbook illustration of that strategy. But it’s hardly the only one. For example, experts talk about the importance of having kids do science rather than just learning about it, so many companies now sell kits for easy experimenting. It’s branded as “discovery learning,” except that much of the discovery has been done ahead of time.

A teacher-educator friend of mine, a leading student of constructivism, was once treated to dinner by a textbook publisher who sought his counsel about how kids can play an active role in the classroom and create meaning around scientific ideas. The publisher listened avidly, taking careful notes, which my friend found enormously gratifying until he suddenly realized that the publisher’s objective was just to appropriate key phrases that could be used in the company’s marketing materials and as chapter headings in its existing textbook.

Or consider cooperative learning. Having students spend much of their classroom time in pairs or small groups is a radical notion: Learning becomes a process of exchanging and reflecting on ideas with peers and planning projects together. When we learn with and from one another, schooling is about us, not just about me. But no sooner had the idea begun to catch on (in the 1980s) than it was diluted, reduced to a gimmick for enlivening a comfortably traditional curriculum. Teachers were told, in effect, that they didn’t have to question their underlying model of learning; students would memorize facts and practice skills more efficiently if they did it in groups. Some writers even recommended using grades, certificates, and elaborate point systems to reinforce students for cooperating appropriately.[2]

In short, the practice of “co-opting” potentially transformative movements in education[3] is nothing new. Neither, however, is it just a historical artifact. A number of labels that originally signified progressive ideas continue to be (mis)appropriated, their radical potential drained away, with the result that they’re now invoked by supporters of “bunch o’ facts” teaching or a corporate-styled, standards-and-testing model of school reform.[4]

A sample:

* Engaging doesn’t denote a specific pedagogical approach; it’s used as a general honorific, signifying a curriculum that the students themselves experience as worthwhile. But these days the word is often applied to tasks that may not be particularly interesting to most kids and that they had no role in choosing. In fact, the value of the tasks may simply be ignored, so we hear about student “engagement,” which seems to mean nothing more than prompt or sustained compliance. Such children have internalized the adults’ agenda and are (extrinsically) motivated to complete the assignment, whatever it is. If the point is to get them to stay “on task,” we’re spared having to think about what the task is — or who gets to decide — even as we talk earnestly about the value of having engaged students.[5]

* Developmental originally meant taking our cue from what children of a given age are capable of doing. But for some time now, the word has come to imply something rather different: letting children move at their own pace . . . up an adult-constructed ladder. Kids may have nothing to say about what, whether, or why — only about when. (This is similar to the idea of “mastery learning” — a phrase that hasn’t really been co-opted because it was never particularly progressive to begin with. Oddly, though, it’s still brandished proudly by people who seem to think it represents a forward-thinking approach to education.[6])

* Differentiated, individualized, or personalized learning all emerge from what would seem a perfectly reasonable premise: Kids have very different needs and interests, so we should think twice about making all of them do the same thing, let alone do it in the same way. But there’s a big difference between working with each student to create projects that reflect his or her preferences and strengths, on the one hand, and merely adjusting the difficulty level of skills-based exercises based on students’ test scores, on the other. The latter version has become more popular in recent years, driven in part by troubling programs such as “mass customized learning”[7] and by technology companies that peddle “individualized digital learning” products. (I have more to say about the differences between authentic personal learning and what might be called Personalized Learning, Inc. in this blog post.)

* Formative assessment was supposed to be the good kind — gauging students’ success while they’re still learning rather than evaluating them for the purpose of rating or ranking when it’s too late to make changes. But the concept “has been taken over — hijacked — by commercial test publishers and is used instead to refer to formal testing systems,” says assessment expert Lorrie Shepard.[8] Basically, an endless succession of crappy “benchmark” standardized tests — intended to refine preparation for the high-stakes tests that follow — are euphemistically described as “formative assessment.” Too often, in other words, the goal is just to see how well students will do on another test, not to provide feedback that will help them think deeply about questions that intrigue them. (The same is true of the phrase “assessment for learning,” which sounds nice but means little until we’ve asked “Learning what?”) The odds of an intellectually valuable outcome are slim to begin with if we’re relying on a test rather than on authentic forms of assessment.[9]

* A reminder to focus on the learning, not just the teaching seems refreshing and enlightened. After all, our actions as educators don’t matter nearly as much as how kids experience those actions. The best teachers (and parents) continually try to see what they do through the eyes of those to whom it’s done. But at some point I had the queasy realization that lots of consultants and administrators who insist that learning is more important than teaching actually have adopted a behaviorist version of learning, with an emphasis on discrete skills measured by test scores.

You see the pattern here. We need to ask what kids are being given to do, and to what end, and within what broader model of learning, and as decided by whom. If we allow ourselves to be distracted from those questions, then even labels with a proud progressive history can be co-opted to the point that they no longer provide reassurance about the practice to which the label refers."
alfiekohn  2015  progressive  education  schools  schooling  schooliness  lesicarroll  humptydumpty  wholelanguage  cooption  language  words  buzzwords  pedagogy  differentiation  teaching  business  capitalism  formativeassessment  assessment  learning  howweetach  howwelearn  development  engagement  grassroots 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Christi Belcourt on Twitter: "Education in schools is not the only form of education. The land has been my teacher for 25 years. I will never graduate and will always be an apprentice to her. The animals educate. The stars educate. Not everything can be t
"Education in schools is not the only form of education. The land has been my teacher for 25 years. I will never graduate and will always be an apprentice to her. The animals educate. The stars educate. Not everything can be taught in a brick box. Not everything should be.

Education from and on the land is needed for children. We need the next generation to be free thinkers. Unintentionally, the structures within the current education system are contributing in assimilating all children into a form of thinking that teaches them to conform.

Education in schools is affecting Indigenous nations. It’s not all positive. Hardly any of our kids knows the lands like the back of their hands any more. Hardly any knows animal traditional laws, protocols. Hardly any can survive on the land. And almost all are taught in English

Without intending it, by sending ALL our children to school, we are creating a society of dependence. Because unable to survive on the land means a dependence on goods and services. It also means a continued decline in our languages as the day is spent in English.

Even communities once entirely fluent not long ago are noticing their young people conversing in English. I was just in a community where the teenagers were fluent. But pre-teens weren’t. How can communities compete w/ English when their children are emmersed in it all day?

I don’t want to offend educators. Educators are some of the most selfless and kind people I’ve met. They go above and beyond for kids every day. My observations are about some of the long term boarder effects re: institution of education and its detrimental effects on our nations

The late Elder Wilfred Peltier once wrote that the education system harms children in a few ways. He was speaking specifically about Indigenous kids but his thoughts could be applied to all I suppose. He said it sets kids up with a skewed sense of self. (Con’t)

Elder Wilfred Peltier said children are taught early in school to be graded. He said the harm isn’t only in the child who gets low grades and is made to feel less than. The worse harm is to kids who get higher grades and are made to feel better than others.

He also said the structure of the classroom is problematic. It implies the teacher knows everything and the student knows nothing. In Indigenous communities we talk about how children are teachers and each one has unique gifts. But schools don’t nurture those gifts.

A child might be gifted in reading the stars or knowing traditional medicines. Schools eliminate that as a possibility to be apprenticed in those things. And they take up so much time in a child’s life there is no time left over for language and apprenticing in their gifts.

We will need scientists and people who have gone through school. But we also need medicine apprentices, land knowledge, language keepers and star readers. We need experts of the lakes and animals. This come from apprentiships w/ kokums and moshoms. It comes from the land itself.

In this time of climate change the world needs Indigenous knowledge more than ever. It’s in our lands and langusges. It can’t come from school. So we have to question this. And really look at it to suss out the good and the bad in a non emotional and non judgemental way.

Is there a way to have half of all Indigenous kids apprenticed full time with kokums or moshoms in land/water based education? Is there a way to identify what gifts kids will have early on and give them the life long training to nurture those gifts?

My concluding thought is the tendency will be towards “improving” or “fixing” schools to allow for more Indigenous languages or teachings etc without fundamentally changing anything. My point is the kind of education I’m talking about cannot be within the school system."
education  unschooling  deschooling  indigeneity  schooling  wilfredpeltier  christibelcourt  2018  inequality  children  authority  experience  apprenticeships  kokums  moshoms  multispecies  land  morethanhuman  canon  climatechange  experientiallearning  gifted  language  languages  landscape  colonialism  heterogeneity 
october 2018 by robertogreco
How Much Do Rising Test Scores Tell Us About A School?
"Reading and math scores have long been the currency of American schooling, and never more so than in the past two decades since the No Child Left Behind Act. Today, advocates will describe a teacher as “effective” when what they really mean is that the teacher’s students had big increases in reading and math scores. Politicians say a school is “good” when they mean that its reading and math scores are high.

So, how much do test scores really tell us, anyway? It turns out: A lot less than we’d like.

For all the attention to testing, there’s been a remarkable lack of curiosity about how much tests tell us. Last spring, for instance, researcher Collin Hitt, of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, and two coauthors examined the research on school choice and found a striking disconnect between test score gains and longer-term outcomes. They reported, “Programs that produced no measurable positive impacts on achievement have frequently produced positive impacts on attainment” even as “programs that produced substantial test score gains” have shown no impact on high school graduation or college attendance. More generally, they observe:

The growing literature on early childhood education has found that short-term impacts on test scores are inconsistent predictors of later-life impacts . . . Studies of teacher impacts on student outcomes show a similar pattern of results . . . It turns out that teacher impacts on test scores are almost entirely uncorrelated with teacher impacts on student classroom behavior, attendance, truancy, and grades . . . The teachers who produce improvements in student behavior and noncognitive skills are not particularly likely to be the same teachers who improve test scores.


You would think this disconnect would prompt plenty of furrowed brows and set off lots of alarm bells. It hasn’t. And yet the phenomenon that Hitt et al. note isn’t all that surprising if we think about it. After all, test scores may go up for many reasons. Here are a few of them:

• Students may be learning more reading and math and the tests are simply picking that up. All good.

• Teachers may be shifting time and energy from untested subjects and activities (like history or Spanish) to the tested ones (like reading and math). If this is happening, scores can go up without students actually learning any more.

• Teachers may be learning what gets tested and focusing on that. In this case, they’re just teaching students more of what shows up on the test—again, this means that scores can go up without students learning any more.

• Schools may be focusing on test preparation, so that students do better on the test even as they spend less time learning content—meaning scores may go up while actual learning goes down.

• Scores may be manipulated in various ways, via techniques as problematic as cheating or as mundane as starting the school year earlier. Such strategies can yield higher test scores without telling us anything about whether students actually learned more than they used to.

It matters which of these forces are driving rising scores. To say this is not to deny the value of testing. Indeed, this observation is 100% consistent with a healthy emphasis on the “bottom line” of school improvement. After all, results are what matters.

But that presumes that the results mean what we think they do. Consider: If it turned out that an admired pediatrician was seeing more patients because she’d stopped running certain tests and was shortchanging preventive care, you might have second thoughts about her performance. That’s because it matters how she improved her stats. If it turned out that an automaker was boosting its profitability by using dirt-cheap, unsafe components, savvy investors would run for the hills—because those short-term gains will be turning into long-term headaches. In both cases, observers should note that the “improvements” were phantasms, ploys to look good without actually moving the bottom line.

That’s the point. Test scores can convey valuable information. Some tests, such as the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), are more trustworthy than others. The NAEP, for instance, is less problematic because it’s administered with more safeguards and isn’t used to judge schools or teachers (which means they have less cause to try to teach to it). But the NAEP isn’t administered every year and doesn’t produce results for individual schools. Meanwhile, the annual state tests that we rely on when it comes to judging schools are susceptible to all the problems flagged above.

This makes the question of why reading and math scores change one that deserves careful, critical scrutiny. Absent that kind of audit, parents and communities can’t really know whether higher test scores mean that schools are getting better—or whether they’re just pretending to do so."
frederickhess  standardizedtesting  2018  education  reform  nclb  rttt  standardization  policy  measurement  assessment  attainment  naep  learning  howelearn  howweteach  teaching  publicschools  schools  schooling 
september 2018 by robertogreco