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robertogreco : selflessness   22

The Daily Show Highlights How Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Harms Sikh-Americans
"MINHAJ: Why don't you just go, "hey, I'm not Muslim?"

GUEST: It's just not an option for us to throw another community under the bus. Even if it means things are harder for us, we believe it's the right thing to do.

GUEST #4: Like, we need to be better than that as Americans and that's what our Sikh values teach as well.

[...]

MINHAJ: Come on, even Barack Obama was like, "hey, I'm not Muslim." Look, I can't hide it. If I were you, I would throw me under the bus so fast.

AHLUWALIA: That's not the way I was raised. That's why I wear this turban. As a reminder to myself to treat humanity with care and kindness. So that's -- so I'm not here to point fingers."

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RskvZgc_s9g ]
sikhism  sikhs  islam  islamophobia  us  politics  xenophobia  2016  selflessness  humanism 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Cheerful to a Fault: “Positive” Practices with Negative Implications - Alfie Kohn
"We live in a smiley-face, keep-your-chin-up, look-on-the-bright-side culture. At the risk of being labeled a professional party pooper, I’d like to suggest that accentuating the positive isn’t always a wise course of action where children are concerned. I say that not because I’ve joined the conservative chorus whose refrain is that kids today have it too damn easy and ought to be made to experience more failure (and show more “grit”).[1] Rather, my point is that some things that sound positive and upbeat turn out not to be particularly constructive.

1. Praise. The most salient feature of a positive judgment is not that it’s positive but that it’s a judgment. And in the long run, people rarely thrive as a result of being judged. Praise is the mirror image of criticism, not its opposite. Both are ways of doing things to kids as opposed to working with them. Verbal rewards are often more about manipulating than encouraging — a form of sugar-coated control. The main practical effect of offering a reward, whether it’s tangible, symbolic, or verbal, is to provide a source of extrinsic motivation (for example, trying to please the rewarder), and this, according to a considerable body of research, tends to undermine intrinsic motivation (a commitment to the activity or value itself).

While “Good job!” may seem like a supportive thing to say, that support is actually made conditional on the child’s doing what we ask or impressing us. What kids most need from adults, apart from nonjudgmental feedback and guidance, is unconditional support: the antithesis of a patronizing pat on the head for having jumped through our hoops. The solution, therefore, isn’t as simple as praising children’s effort instead of their ability, because the problem isn’t a function of what’s being praised — or, for that matter, how often praise is offered — but of praise itself.[2]

2. Automatic reassurance. Deborah Meier once remarked that if a child says one of her classmates doesn’t like her,
we need to resist reassuring her that it’s not true and getting the classmate to confirm it; then we must ask ourselves what has led to this idea. Probably there is truth to the cry for help, and our refusal to admit it may simply lead the child to hide her hurt more deeply. Do we do too much reassuring – ‘It doesn’t hurt,’ ‘It’ll be okay’ – and not enough exploring, joining with the child’s queries, fears, thoughts?[3]

A reflexive tendency to say soothing things to children in distress may simply communicate that we’re not really listening to them. Perhaps we’re offering reassurance more because that’s what we need to say than because it’s what they need to hear.

3. Happiness as the primary goal. How can we help children grow up to be happy? That’s an important question, but here’s another one: How can we help children grow up to be concerned about whether other people are happy? We don’t want our kids to end up as perpetually miserable social activists, but neither should we root for them to become so focused on their own well-being that they’re indifferent to other people’s suffering. Happiness isn’t a good thing if it’s purchased at the price of being unreflective, complacent, or self-absorbed.

Moreover, as the psychologist Ed Deci reminds us, anger and sadness are sometimes appropriate responses to things that happen to us (and around us). “When people want only happiness, they can actually undermine their own development,” he said, “because the quest for happiness can lead them to suppress other aspects of their experience. . . .The true meaning of being alive is not just to feel happy, but to experience the full range of human emotions.”[4]

*

And here are four specific cheerful-sounding utterances or slogans that I believe also merit our skepticism:

4. “High(er) expectations.” This phrase, typically heard in discussions about educating low-income or minority students, issues from policy makers with all the thoughtfulness of a sneeze. It derives most of its appeal from a simplistic contrast with low expectations, which obviously no one prefers. But we need to ask some basic questions: Are expectations being raised to the point that students are more demoralized than empowered? Are these expectations being imposed on students rather than developed with them? And most fundamentally: High expectations to do what, exactly? Produce impressive scores on unimpressive tests?

The school reform movement driven by slogans such as “tougher standards,” “accountability,” and “raising the bar” arguably lowers meaningful expectations insofar as it relies on dubious indicators of progress — thereby perpetuating a “bunch o’ facts” model of learning. Expecting poor children to fill in worksheets more accurately just causes them to fall farther behind affluent kids who are offered a more thoughtful curriculum. Indeed, as one study found, such traditional instruction may be associated with lower expectations on the part of their teachers.[5]

5. “Ooh, you’re so close!” (in response to a student’s incorrect answer). My objection here is not, as traditionalists might complain, that we’re failing to demand absolute accuracy. Quite the contrary. The problem is that we’re more focused on getting students to produce right answers than on their understanding of what they’re doing. Even in math, one student’s right answer may not signify the same thing as another’s. The same is true of two wrong answers. A student’s response may have been only one digit off from the correct one, but she may have gotten there by luck (in which case she wasn’t really “close” in a way that matters). Conversely, a student who’s off by an order of magnitude may grasp the underlying principle but have made a simple calculation error.

6. “If you work hard, I’m sure you’ll get a better grade next time.” Again, we may have intended to be encouraging, but the actual message is that what matters in this classroom isn’t learning but performance. It’s not about what kids are doing but how well they’re doing it. Decades’ worth of research has shown that these two emphases tend to pull in opposite directions. Thus, the relevant distinction isn’t between a good grade and a bad grade; it’s leading kids to focus on grades versus inviting them to engage with ideas.

Similarly, if we become preoccupied with effort as opposed to ability as the primary determinant of high marks, we miss the crucial fact that marks are inherently destructive. Like demands to “raise expectations,” a growth mindset isn’t a magic wand. In fact, it can distract us from the harmfulness of certain goals — and of certain ways of teaching and assessing — by suggesting that more effort, like more rigor, is all that’s really needed. Not only is it not sufficient; when the outcome is misconceived, it isn’t even always desirable.[6]

7. “Only Positive Attitudes Allowed Beyond This Point.” I’ve come across this poster slogan in a number of schools, and each time I see it, my heart sinks. Its effect isn’t to create a positive atmosphere but to serve notice that the expression of negative feelings is prohibited: “Have a nice day . . . or else.” It’s a sentiment that’s informative mostly for what it tells us about the needs of the person who put up the poster. It might as well say “My Mental Health Is So Precarious That I Need All of You to Pretend You’re Happy.”

Kids don’t require a classroom that’s relentlessly upbeat; they require a place where it’s safe to express whatever they’re feeling, even if at the moment that happens to be sadness or fear or anger. Bad feelings don’t vanish in an environment of mandatory cheer — they just get swept under the rug where people end up tripping over them, so to speak. Furthermore, students’ “negativity” may be an entirely apt response to an unfair rule, an authoritarian environment, or a series of tasks that seem pointless. To focus on students’ emotions in order to manufacture a positive climate (or in the name of promoting “self-regulation” skills) is to pretend that the problem lies exclusively with their responses rather than with what we may have done that elicited them.[7]"

[Also posted here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/07/14/things-we-say-to-kids-that-sound-positive-but-can-be-detrimental/ ]
alfiekohn  education  listening  howweteach  teaching  pedagogy  praise  reassurance  happiness  reflection  expectations  grades  grading  effort  attitudes  positivity  behavior  manipulation  criticism  judgement  feedback  constructivecriticism  support  schools  selflessness  kindness  tests  testing  standardizedtesting  accuracy  deborahmeier 
july 2015 by robertogreco
The centripetal force of life
"I don't quite know what I'm doing to myself these days. Last night was an episode of The Americans in which a marriage was ending, another family was trying to keep itself intact, and a young boy struggles to move on after his entire family dies. This morning, I watched an episode of Mad Men in which a mother tries to reconcile her differences with her daughter in the face of impending separation. And then, the absolute cake topper, a story by Matthew Teague [http://www.esquire.com/lifestyle/a34905/matthew-teague-wife-cancer-essay/ ] that absolutely wrecked me. It's about his cancer-stricken wife and the friend who comes and rescues an entire family, which is perhaps the truest and most direct thing I've ever read about cancer and death and love and friendship.
Since we had met, when she was still a teenager, I had loved her with my whole self. Only now can I look back on the fullness of our affection; at the time I could see nothing but one wound at a time, a hole the size of a dime, into which I needed to pack a fistful of material. Love wasn't something I felt anymore. It was just something I did. When I finished, I would lie next to her and use sterile cotton balls to soak up her tears. When she finally slept, I would slip out of bed and go into our closet, the most isolated room in the house. Inside, I would wrap a blanket around my head, stuff it into my mouth, lie down and bury my head in a pile of dirty clothes, and scream.

There are very specific parts of all those stories that I identify with. I struggle with friendship. And with family. I worry about my children, about my relationships with them. I worry about being a good parent, about being a good parenting partner with their mom. How much of me do I really want to impart to them? I want them to be better than me, but I can't tell them or show them how to do that because I'm me. I took my best shot at being better and me is all I came up with. What if I'm just giving them the bad parts, without even realizing it? God, this is way too much for a Monday."
parenting  cv  fathers  jasonkottke  children  self-doubt  humans  humanness  relationships  friendships  fatherhood  families  kindness  matthewteague  death  health  cancer  marriage  selflessness  love 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The All and Nothing of Teaching | Diana Senechal
"This part strikes me as presumptuous. Yes, it is true that teachers who look inward are better equipped to solve daily problems than those who do not. But he assumes that it is the defective teachers who criticize the conditions and larger picture, whereas the effective teachers function well “under even under the most debilitating conditions of work” (as he says just a little later). He assumes, from the start, that the teacher who feels stress is deficient in some way. He states outright that teaching conditions simply are what they are and that good teachers work within them. He assumes that if you examine yourself and face your anger effectively, the stress of teaching will not take a toll. He disregards the possibility that introspection of this kind can make your work even more taxing, as you end up pondering problems, humbling yourself, admitting to your faults (even when they involved no “impulsive negative behavior” or anything close) and thinking about your work all around the clock.

But even those are not my main objection. Running through his argument is an assumption that teachers deserve nothing but must give fully of themselves. He does not consider that you can be a highly dedicated teacher, you can love your work, yet you might ask at some point, “when do I get to live as myself again?”

I have never had a job that I loved as deeply as teaching. Yet as a teacher I miss some basic things sorely. One of these is friendship. Over time, it has become more and more difficult to get together with friends; I almost always have something due the next day, have my mind on school, and can’t handle the complex process of finding a time to meet. (In New York City, it is not uncommon to make a phone appointment for the purpose of setting a time to get together: “Give me a call next Thursday, and then we can work out a plan.”) From my perspective, I have made many efforts to stay in touch, but the very problem lies in that phrase “staying in touch.” Friendship has a rhythm. Once the rhythm is broken down, it can be difficult to revive.

Friendships within the school are guarded and limited. Some colleagues may be potential friends, but you are usually in too much of a rush to say more than a quick hello. Students cannot be your friends; in fact, your responsibility is to build respectful and bounded rapport with them within the work you undertake together. As for parents, you may feel affinity toward them, but there’s a boundary, for understandable reasons.

I also miss the freedom of expression and reception that I had before becoming a teacher. I didn’t have to worry about what would happen if students came upon my writing and music (or, for that matter, favorite books and records). There’s no offensive material in there, but it hasn’t been pre-screened for teenagers, either. As a teacher, I have come to pre-screen everything I say and do, sometimes without realizing it. I rarely read a book that I am not planning to include in a lesson. I miss reading Philip Roth, for instance, or watching Godard films.

On the other hand, there are things I could not have done except as a teacher. CONTRARIWISE may be the most rewarding project of my life. I see the students taking off with it, defining it, making it more than I originally imagined, yet I help see this through and work on it day after day. The philosophy teaching itself has been an extraordinary experience: writing a curriculum, putting it into practice, dealing with many challenges, and seeing it take shape and grow in meaning. The Philosophy Roundtables have been delightful and moving. The last one (about the philosophy of humor) was one of my favorites, but each one carries a distinct memory.

So, there are no regrets, and I am in no rush, but I am starting to look beyond teaching. No situation is perfect, but certain combinations work better than others. This has nothing to do with bitterness, frustration, or inability to reach goals. It has more to do with wanting to do certain things that don’t fit in the teaching persona. What Haberman fails to acknowledge is that this persona cloaks a life; the thicker the introspection, the greater the weight of the cloth."
teachers  teaching  dianasenechal  friendship  2014  self  expression  self-expression  selflessness  burnout  introspection  self-care 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Svetlana Boym | Off-Modern Manifesto
"1. A Margin of Error

“It's not my fault. Communication error has occurred,” my computer pleads with me in a voice of lady Victoria. First it excuses itself, then urges me to pay attention, to check my connections, to follow the instructions carefully. I don't. I pull the paper out of the printer prematurely, shattering the image, leaving its out takes, stripes of transience, inkblots and traces of my hands on the professional glossy surface. Once the disoriented computer spat out a warning across the image “Do Not Copy,” an involuntary water mark that emerged from the depth of its disturbed memory. The communication error makes each print unrepeatable and unpredictable. I collect the computer errors. An error has an aura.

To err is human, says a Roman proverb. In the advanced technological lingo the space of humanity itself is relegated to the margin of error. Technology, we are told, is wholly trustworthy, were it not for the human factor. We seem to have gone full circle: to be human means to err. Yet, this margin of error is our margin of freedom. It's a choice beyond the multiple choices programmed for us, an interaction excluded from computerized interactivity. The error is a chance encounter between us and the machines in which we surprise each other. The art of computer erring is neither high tech nor low tech. Rather it’s broken-tech. It cheats both on technological progress and on technological obsolescence. And any amateur artist can afford it. Art's new technology is a broken technology.

Or shall we call it dysfunctional, erratic, nostalgic? Nostalgia is a longing for home that no longer exists or most likely, has never existed. That non-existent home is akin to an ideal communal apartment where art and technology co-habited like friendly neighbours or cousins. Techne, after all, once referred to arts, crafts and techniques. Both art and technology were imagined as the forms of human prosthesis, the missing limbs, imaginary or physical extensions of the human space."



2. Short Shadows, Endless Surfaces



Broken-tech art is an art of short shadows. It turns our attention to the surfaces, rims and thresholds. From my ten years of travels I have accumulated hundreds of photographs of windows, doors, facades, back yards, fences, arches and sunsets in different cities all stored in plastic bags under my desk. I re-photograph the old snapshots with my digital camera and the sun of the other time and the other place cast new shadows upon their once glossy surfaces with stains of the lemon tea and fingerprints of indifferent friends. I try not to use the preprogrammed special effects of Photoshop; not because I believe in authenticity of craftsmanship, but because I equally distrust the conspiratorial belief in the universal simulation. I wish to learn from my own mistakes, let myself err. I carry the pictures into new physical environments, inhabit them again, occasionally deviating from the rules of light exposure and focus.

At the same time I look for the ready-mades in the outside world, “natural” collages and ambiguous double exposures. My most misleading images are often “straight photographs.” Nobody takes them for what they are, for we are burdened with an afterimage of suspicion.

Until recently we preserved a naive faith in photographic witnessing. We trusted the pictures to capture what Roland Barthes called “the being there” of things. For better or for worse, we no longer do. Now images appear to us as always already altered, a few pixels missing here and there, erased by some conspiratorial invisible hand. Moreover, we no longer analyse these mystifying images but resign to their pampering hypnosis. Broken- tech art reveals the degrees of our self-pixelization, lays bare hypnotic effects of our cynical reason.




3. Errands, Transits.



4. A Critic, an Amateur

If in the 1980s artists dreamed of becoming their own curators and borrowed from the theorists, now the theorists dream of becoming artists. Disappointed with their own disciplinary specialization, they immigrate into each other's territory. The lateral move again. Neither backwards nor forwards, but sideways. Amateur's out takes are no longer excluded but placed side-by-side with the non-out takes. I don't know what to call them anymore, for there is little agreement these days on what these non-out takes are.

But the amateur's errands continue. An amateur, as Barthes understood it, is the one who constantly unlearns and loves, not possessively, but tenderly, inconstantly, desperately. Grateful for every transient epiphany, an amateur is not greedy."
philosophy  technology  svetlanaboym  via:ablerism  off-modern  canon  nostalgia  human  humanism  amateurs  unlearning  love  loving  greed  selflessness  homesickness  broken  broken-tech  art  beausage  belatedness  newness  leisurearts  walterbenjamin  errors  fallibility  erring  henribergson  billgates  prosthetics  artists  imagination  domestication  play  jaques-henrilartigue  photography  film  fiction  shadows  shortshadows  nearness  distance  balance  thresholds  rims  seams  readymade  rolandbarthes  cynicism  modernity  internationalstyle  evreyday  transience  ephemeral  ephemerality  artleisure 
november 2013 by robertogreco
metacool: The heart of leadership
"Mo Cheeks helped Natalie because, much like those leaders in Boston, he prioritized the change needed in the world over how he might fare in the process of making it happen. He shows us that leadership demands that we act even if in doing so we jeopardize our own well-being."
kindness  leadership  coaching  basketball  mocheeks  selflessness  servantleadership  2013  diegorodriguez  2003 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Technology, love, and paying attention | A Thinking Reed
"Being attentive to another person, however, does require an act of the will. It does not come naturally. It involves deliberate effort and sometimes the setting aside of our own desires. It may even be a kind of sacrifice to give our attention to another and to be kind an act of heroism."

"[G]iving someone our attention requires an act of will or a kind of discipline. Maybe this is partly why so many spiritual traditions have cultivated practices that require people to focus their attention. I’m thinking especially of various forms of meditation and contemplative prayer. What these practices seem to have in common is an effort to focus on a reality beyond the self–to the extent that the ego recedes into the background."

[via: http://plsj.tumblr.com/post/46444396743/technology-love-and-paying-attention ]
attention  love  relationships  technology  discipline  focus  listening  meditation  religion  contemplation  prayer  selflessness  presence  singletasking  monotasking 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Deep Springs College and the Liberal Arts Ideal
"In order to understand what “is suited to the education of a free person,” we need to first know what freedom amounts to. At the core of Nunn’s conception of freedom is self-governance, for he views freedom and self-government in obedience to law as one and the same. He recognizes that on the face of it this doesn’t make sense. How can obedience be synonymous with freedom?

To understand this it will help to contrast the fee person with the slave. The free person lives in free society with others. Free societies can be small and large, ranging from, for example, the small association of students at Deep Springs, to the state government of Pennsylvania or the government of the United States of America. When people live in society with one another they choose to establish laws governing the conduct of their members, for the maintenance and flourishing of the society as a whole, and they curtail their own rights, for the benefit of the common good.

Slavery, like freedom, requires society. Unlike freedom, which is participation in society, however, slavery is subjugation to it. The slave does not choose to enter into society with others, but is coerced into obeying orders out of fear. Both the slave and the free person recognize and respect the law, but they do so in extremely different ways. The free person wills the law, takes responsibility for it, and has her part in determining it. The slave submits to it and is bound by it in servitude.

At the individual level, Nunn thinks that we find a situation analogous to that of the free person and the slave at the social level. He thinks there are laws governing our right conduct, laws of morality that we can all be aware of through our good common sense. We can rebel against these and instead follow our personal inclinations, desiring our own pleasure and our own gain, at the expense of others. Such intemperance, according to Nunn is the mark of poor self-governance. When we follow our good judgment, will our action in accord with it, and take responsibility for this action, however, then he thinks we govern ourselves well individually.

Now in a free society, the authority of the body politic derives from each individual’s choice to enter into that society. Accordingly, the authority of the society is in part vested in it from each of its members, and in respecting its authority the members are indirectly respecting their own authority over themselves. In this way, when a free person respects the laws of their free society, they are engaged in a further form of self-government."



"The main difference between my years at Deep Springs and those spent elsewhere perhaps is just this: life there was simpler. It was simpler because it was preparatory. It was about surveying the space of possibilities, laying foundations, and getting one’s bearings. This was mostly an internal process. It was about getting one’s heart in order. And while this process couldn’t happen alone, in isolation, it could happen in a relatively simple, small community of fifty or so people, largely cut off from the mad complexity of life in the real world and of what our future lives in that world would be. The tremendous privilege that Deep Springs students receive is, then, just two years in this simple space in which they can orient themselves and prepare for the complexities of life to come."
deepspringscollege  time  simplicity  education  lcproject  tcsnmy  tcsnmy8  learning  liberalarts  llnunn  life  well-being  self-governance  democracy  democraticschools  democratic  alternative  service  servicelearning  selflessness  community  labor  freedom  liberty  society  slavery  authority 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Dad’s Idea – Jack Cheng
“Just my thought,” he’ll continue. He always says “just my thought” before anything he knows is a hunch, an uninformed, unscientifically-proven, unwikipediaed hypothesis. But hunch or not, the words that follow are always spoken with absolute conviction. His eyes light up & his forehead wrinkles and he leans forward, & his mouth is half open and his top teeth are showing & he has a look of sheer amazement on his face…

There have been scientific experiments conducted to discover what goes on in our brains when we experience near-death events—like getting hit by a car or falling off a ladder—as if they were happening in slow motion. The findings are in line with Dad’s hunch…

But I don’t tell Dad any of this. I don’t tell him because I don’t want to dispel its magic by inserting my own. I don’t want him to stop being excited about his idea. I don’t want him to ever stop asking me about it, because every time he asks, it’s a reminder. To make next week longer & more memorable than this…"
slow  life  experience  offline  online  routine  repetition  neuroscience  brain  learning  motion  travel  movement  attention  selfishness  selflessness  engagement  magic  excitement  relationships  hunches  2012  parents  presence  time  memories  memory  jackcheng 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Aporia. Writing and lesser things by Mills Baker. Friendship.
"1. Before real friendship comes lucid self-awareness…

2. But we do not deserve the consolations of friendship if they are based on misrepresented or misunderstood expressions of selfhood…[or] secret needs…

3. Know yourself or know none, know nothing, disappear…high school as I remember it was mostly the exchange of blinded and unarticulated selves for approximations of friendship…

4. …it is necessary to be mercilessly ‘objective,’…with oneself: do not admit into evidence subjectively sympathetic excuses, do not contextualize one’s own actions with justificatory narratives…be endlessly ‘subjective,’ again so to speak, with others: imagine anything and everything one can to excuse them, explain them, understand and love them…

5. When I have been lonely, I have thought of myself subjectively and others objectively. This is the only real means to the self-pity which defines loneliness: to think of oneself as the world…

6. Friendship is something one exercises, like compassion; it is a solitary choice, requiring the approval or affection of no one at all. Every desire which seeks a psychological state as its result should be suspected of superficiality at least, but in the case of those who seek friendship as an antidote to loneliness, it is not merely a vice but a countermanding of what’s sought. One is not a friend, of course, when one’s friends are means to an end: means to escape solitude, tools rather than accomplices.

(To consider: “Friendship should be a gratuitous joy like those afforded by art or life.” What sort of joys are those? What does it mean that they’re gratuitous?)."
listening  understanding  grace  simoneweil  2012  wisdom  happiness  relationships  selflessness  love  highschool  loneliness  friendship  millsbaker 
june 2012 by robertogreco
School Is Not School
"To become a citizen, one must learn how to live and participate in a community — the most attractive ideal for any society, in religious or secular terms. It is one of the pillars of civilization. We cannot hope to endure without it.

School, then, is the place where we’re inspired to forget ourselves and become aware of the hopes and needs of somebody else—our neighbors, other citizens.

It’s where we begin active, deliberate and rational participation in a citizen community; and learn how to use the instrument of citizenship to manage, if not eradicate, our inner selfishness, our petty private passions, our personal interests. It’s where we feed and nurture the better part of our natures by channeling the collective efforts toward a higher, nobler purpose: the common weal.

But, somewhere along the way, school became school…"


[FULL TEXT BELOW]

"School isn’t school.

It is the birthplace of the citizen ideal.

It’s where we learn to live a life of selfless service on behalf of the community; it’s where we find the path to virtue, subordinating innate self-interest as individuals to the interests of the community, the good of the whole. And where, on graduation day, the highest possible title in a free society is conferred upon us: citizen.

To become a citizen, one must learn how to live and participate in a community — the most attractive ideal for any society, in religious or secular terms. It is one of the pillars of civilization. We cannot hope to endure without it.

School, then, is the place where we’re inspired to forget ourselves and become aware of the hopes and needs of somebody else—our neighbors, other citizens.

It’s where we begin active, deliberate and rational participation in a citizen community; and learn how to use the instrument of citizenship to manage, if not eradicate, our inner selfishness, our petty private passions, our personal interests. It’s where we feed and nurture the better part of our natures by channeling the collective efforts toward a higher, nobler purpose: the common weal.

But, somewhere along the way, school became school…

…a diurnal detention camp where children are framed up as human capital, livestock actually, not human beings. School, where bitter, resentful educators — who are almost always underpaid and, as a result, incented only to underperform — shy away from teaching any form of critical thinking; and indoctrinate students through rote memorization with the most basic, backward-looking knowledge, reconstituted as trivia and delivered through canned lesson plans. It’s a place where an education is still measured by a test score; and future success is defined only by the placement of the decimal point on a paystub.

Far from developing necessary skills and natural talents, this kind of school prepares students only for one possible future: college — school by another name. A pricey, pointless weigh station where students, future members of the work force, are scouted and sized-up with the wrong metrics; and where successful students, model students, acquire the knack, often times accidentally, to package and sell their skills in the form of labor to the highest bidder in a free market economy, which helps to maximize consumption among the lower and middle classes, while increasing the capital of the upper class, shielding the present establishment from ruin, protecting the economic wealth of the one percenters, and perpetuating the cycle of school.

Somewhere along the way, we detected a problem. Former students, now adults, became gainfully employed, living and working the way their parents lived and worked. They worked hard to make it big by doing something, anything in the world but not anything for the world. By and large, these former students were ambitious to be sure, but also unhappy and depressed and unfulfilled.

Communities fell apart.

“Enlightened” self-interest led to self-destruction.

We began to think that maybe the problem wasn’t school itself; maybe it was the school building. Naturally, we thought the answer was a sustainable school, an environmentally friendly school, a Green school, retooled and refitted for LEED certification, tricked out with ergonomic chairs and desks made from recycled materials. A different, healthier skin for a fetid, festering form.

But school remained school…

…It’s still “all about the kids” who are still learning old lessons the old way. It’s still school, that prepares young, choice-conscious consumers for a Market, not citizens for a Society; it shows students the old path to an old idea of prosperity, only now under energy saving bulbs in a cost-efficient, climate-controlled building.

The problem persists. It won’t go away until school stops being school.

It won’t stop until we start designing for school as a community-wide resource; it won’t stop until we start creating school as a dynamic social engine for entire towns and cities that drive every citizen toward a higher, greater good: the public interest.

It’s a platform that enables children to self-actualize not only as individuals but also as citizens; who learn and live and thrive by thinking and doing, not just for themselves, but for the entire community, for all citizens.

The logic that we must solve for, then, is neither fiscal nor physical, but moral:

No schools without citizens. No citizens without schools."
humanism  self-interest  education  learning  deschooling  unschooling  lcproject  purpose  via:monikahardy  2012  self-actualization  community  selflessness  citizenship  schooliness  schools 
april 2012 by robertogreco
The Thoreau Problem | Rebecca Solnit | Orion Magazine
"If he went to jail to demonstrate his commitment to freedom of others, he went to the berries to exercise his own recovered freedom, the liberty to do whatever he wished, & the evidence in all his writing is that he very often wished to pick berries. There’s a widespread belief, among both activists & those who cluck disapprovingly over insufficiently austere activists, that idealists should not enjoy any pleasure denied to others, that beauty, sensuality, delight all ought to be stalled behind some dam that only the imagined revolution will break. This schism creates, as the alternative to a life of selfless devotion, a life of flight from engagement, which seems to be one way those years at Walden Pond are sometimes portrayed. But change is not always by revolution, the deprived don’t generally wish that the rest of us would join them in deprivation, & a passion for justice & pleasure in small things are not incompatible. That’s part of what the short jaunt from jail to hill says."
walden  selflessness  via:steelemaley  justice  revolution  change  2007  protest  imprisonment  civildisobedience  walking  berries  deprivation  freedom  rebeccasolnit  thoreau 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Steve Nash, Basketball's Selfless Socialist? : NPR
"Phoenix Suns basketball star Steve Nash says he's read Karl Marx's The Manifesto of the Communist Party. On the court, Nash is famous for passing the ball to teammates, giving up scoring opportunities himself so others can score. In a league full of flashy, high-scoring players, could Nash be an example of a Marxist player?"
communism  marxism  stevenash  nba  basketball  teamwork  teamplayers  2006  via:cburell  sharing  selflessness 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Adult Principles, from JPBarlow - Miguel de Icaza
"Be patient; Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn't say to him; Never assume motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are; Expand your sense of the possible; Don’t trouble yourself w/ matters you cannot change; Don't ask more of others than you can deliver; Tolerate ambiguity; Laugh at yourself frequently; Concern yourself w/ what is right rather than who is right; Try not to forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong; Remember your life belongs to others as well. Don't risk it frivolously; Never lie to anyone for any reason;  Learn the needs of those around you & respect them; Avoid pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission & pursue that; Reduce your use of 1st personal pronoun; Praise at least as often as you disparage; Admit your errors freely & quickly; Become less suspicious of joy; Understand humility; Remember love forgives everything; Foster dignity; Live memorably; Love yourself; Endure"
johnperrybarlow  life  philosophy  principles  certainty  ambiguity  forgiveness  wisdom  howto  love  selflessness  empathy  happiness  humor  possibility  responsibility  respect  humility  patience  blame  motivation  nobility  tolerance  laughter  uncertainty  dignity  endurance  understanding 
february 2011 by robertogreco
rhoner comments on Have you ever picked up a hitch-hiker?
"But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke a lick of the language. But one of those dudes had a profound affect on me.

He was the guy that stopped to help me with a blow out with his whole family of 6 in tow… [Great story here.]

So, to clarify, a family that is undoubtedly poorer than you, me, and just about everyone else on that stretch of road, working on a seasonal basis where time is money, took an hour or two out of their day to help some strange dude on the side of the road when people in tow trucks were just passing me by. Wow...

But we aren't done yet… [story continues]"

[via: http://tumble77.com/post/2908951786/ ]
immigration  kindness  strangers  selflessness  storytelling  karma  life  hoyportimañanapormí 
january 2011 by robertogreco
The Tree of Life (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"The story ends in hope, acknowledging the beauty and joy in all things, in the everyday and above all in the family—our first school—the only place that most of us learn the truth about the world and ourselves, or discover life’s single most important lesson, of unselfish love." — Terrence Malick
film  thetreeoflife  terrencemalick  family  unschooling  learning  life  love  joy  well-being  hope  truth  selflessness 
december 2010 by robertogreco
SlowTV | Anthropology and the passion of the political. Ghassan Hage | The Monthly
"Ghassan Hage is an internationally acclaimed thinker, both as an academic and an arresting public intellectual. In this Inaugural Distinguished Lecture for the Australian Anthropological Society, he looks at the function of anthropology today. He asks, what is the discipline's potential to help us understand, and be, 'other than what we are'?"

[via: http://plsj.tumblr.com/post/1190216571/anthropology-and-the-passion-of-the-political ]
ghassanhage  anthropology  otherness  understanding  dialogue  conversation  purpose  primitivist  traditionalism  academia  selflessness  empathy  learning  philosophy  colleges  universities  perspective  perception  sociology  differentiation  dialog 
september 2010 by robertogreco
12 Things Really Educated People Know
"1. Establish an individual set of values but recognize those of the surrounding community and of the various cultures of the world.

2. Explore their own ancestry, culture, and place.

3. Are comfortable being alone, yet understand dynamics between people and form healthy relationships.

4. Accept mortality, knowing that every choice affects the generations to come.

5. Create new things and find new experiences.

6. Think for themselves; observe, analyze, and discover truth without relying on the opinions of others.

7. Favor love, curiosity, reverence, and empathy rather than material wealth.

8. Choose a vocation that contributes to the common good.

9. Enjoy a variety of new places and experiences but identify and cherish a place to call home.

10. Express their own voice with confidence.

11. Add value to every encounter and every group of which they are a part.

12. Always ask: “Who am I? Where are my limits? What are my possibilities?”"
johntaylorgatto  education  learning  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  lcproject  community  self  identity  purpose  glvo  values  culture  personhood  relationships  mortality  creativity  make  making  experience  wisdom  criticalthinking  truth  curiosity  love  reverance  empathy  wealth  well-being  vocation  selflessness  homes  home  confidence  voice  participation  teaching  principles  philosophy  knowledge  life  advice 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Human Kind: Sissela Bok reviews "The Price of Altruism" by Oren Harman | The American Scholar
"For Darwin, the question of human morality never had to do with pure selflessness. In The Descent of Man he expressed his considered conviction that cultural factors such as “the effects of habit, the reasoning powers, instruction, religion, &c.” play a much more important role than natural selection in advancing what he called the moral qualities of human beings, “though to this latter agency the social instincts, which afforded the basis for the development of the moral sense, may be safely attributed.”

Harman, in his closing pages, underscores the role that culture and education still play in human altruistic behaviors, despite claims by biological determinists that genes run the show. His book is an important contribution to the collaborative work on altruism as it relates to self-interest now increasingly under way, not only in the natural sciences but also in philosophy, political science, economics, and anthropology."
humans  humanism  altruism  selflessness  education  teaching  learning  culture  economics  philosophy  politics  anthropology  collaboration  empathy  biology  evolution  darwin  behavior  society  genetics  naturenurture  nature  biologicaldeterminism  determinism  orenharman  sisselabok  morality  humannature  charlesdarwin 
september 2010 by robertogreco

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