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robertogreco : supervision   13

On Bullsh*t Jobs | David Graeber | RSA Replay - YouTube
"In 2013 David Graeber, professor of anthropology at LSE, wrote an excoriating essay on modern work for Strike! magazine. “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs” was read over a million times and the essay translated in seventeen different languages within weeks. Graeber visits the RSA to expand on this phenomenon, and will explore how the proliferation of meaningless jobs - more associated with the 20th-century Soviet Union than latter-day capitalism - has impacted modern society. In doing so, he looks at how we value work, and how, rather than being productive, work has become an end in itself; the way such work maintains the current broken system of finance capital; and, finally, how we can get out of it."
davidgraeber  bullshitjobs  employment  jobs  work  2018  economics  neoliberalism  capitalism  latecapitalism  sovietunion  bureaucracy  productivity  finance  policy  politics  unschooling  deschooling  labor  society  purpose  schooliness  debt  poverty  inequality  rules  anticapitalism  morality  wealth  power  control  technology  progress  consumerism  suffering  morals  psychology  specialization  complexity  systemsthinking  digitization  automation  middlemanagement  academia  highered  highereducation  management  administration  adminstrativebloat  minutia  universalbasicincome  ubi  supplysideeconomics  creativity  elitism  thecultofwork  anarchism  anarchy  zero-basedaccounting  leisure  taylorism  ethics  happiness  production  care  maintenance  marxism  caregiving  serviceindustry  gender  value  values  gdp  socialvalue  education  teaching  freedom  play  feminism  mentalhealth  measurement  fulfillment  supervision  autonomy  humans  humnnature  misery  canon  agency  identity  self-image  self-worth  depression  stress  anxiety  solidarity  camaraderie  respect  community 
january 2019 by robertogreco
What It Would Take to Set American Kids Free | The New Yorker
"My trip coincided with the publication of “The Anti-Helicopter Parent’s Plea: Let Kids Play!” in the Times Magazine, a masterful bit of parental trolling whose comment section reached a symbolic two thousand and sixteen entries before it was closed. The dozens of adventure playgrounds in Tokyo offer, as a public amenity, what Mike Lanza (the “anti-helicopter parent” in question) says he created in his private Menlo Park, California, back yard: a challenging and unscheduled place for physical play that is largely free of parental supervision. Lanza is far from alone in believing that American children have a play problem. Take a look at Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids blog, which is peppered with reports of cops and child-protective services being called when parents leave their kids to play unsupervised. Lanza’s own book, “Playborhood,” describes the kids-can’t-play problem as both a social one and a spatial one. Without broader community support, such back-yard attempts at free play like his are doomed to become exercises in vanity. Look at them on the roof! My kids are more resilient than yours!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of my favorite moments in Tokyo occurred late one afternoon at a smaller adventure playground, Komazawa Harappa, a long sliver of space in a tight residential neighborhood, masked from the street by a simple hedge. Three kids fanned the flames in a fire pit; a baby padded about a dirty pool dressed in a diaper; two small boys, hammering on a house, had remembered to take their shoes off on the porch. But not everyone felt the need to be busy. Two teen-age girls had climbed up on the roof of the play workers’ house, via a self-built platform of poles and planks, and seemed deep in conversation. Suddenly, they began to sing, their clear voices ringing out over the open space."
alexandralange  children  unschooling  deschooling  community  2016  infrastructure  parks  playgrounds  adventureplaygrounds  risk  risktaking  hazards  japan  parenting  openstudioproject  messiness  johnbertelsen  kenishiomura  ladyallen  emdrup  copenhagen  tokyo  kodomoyumepark  srg  urban  urbanism  play  lenoreskenazy  hanegiplaypark  tools  dirt  order  rules  mikelanza  supervision  safety  independence  us  shokoomura  diy  risklyplay  lcproject  tcsnmt  sfsh 
september 2018 by robertogreco
What should teachers understand about the snapchat back-channel? - Long View on Education
"When I find my students on their phones or off-task on their computers, I try to first ask them the honest question, ‘What are you up to?’ Even though I usually re-direct them back on task, I want to understand them better as people with the hopes that I can make school as meaningful for them as possible.

It’s from that position that I ask: What should teachers understand about the Snapchat back-channel that has become so pervasive in our schools and classrooms?

It’s really nothing like passing notes, day-dreaming, or staring out the window.
Snapchat uses gamification techniques to incentivize participation, which I can’t help but read in the context of how Uber uses similar techniques to coerce its drivers, all without the appearance of coercion:
“To keep drivers on the road, the company has exploited some people’s tendency to set earnings goals — alerting them that they are ever so close to hitting a precious target when they try to log off. It has even concocted an algorithm similar to a Netflix feature that automatically loads the next program, which many experts believe encourages binge-watching. In Uber’s case, this means sending drivers their next fare opportunity before their current ride is even over.”

We live in a culture where active listening, deep reading, and quiet reflection must compete with the incentivization to constantly participate and score points. I don’t read this as a lesson in psychology like a 5 Unusual Ways to be More Productive listicle, but rather as a lesson in politics and democracy: 5 Sneaky Ways Corporations Keep You Focused on Yourself in a Precarious World.

The last thing I want to do is normalize surveillance in schools by prying into what kids are doing on their devices or to outright ban things. That kind of approach both reflects ableism, ignoring how some people might rely on devices to learn, and classism, ignoring how people with low-incomes might rely on smartphones for internet access.

Should we turn Snapchat into an educational tool? I doubt that kids want school to bleed into their social space any more than my generation wanted their teachers to post homework assignments in mall food courts, on basketball hoops, or Facebook.

Should teachers aim to be more entertaining than Snapchat? I view education as kind of conversation which requires both parties to make an effort to listen. The classroom should explicitly examine and address the conditions under which people have a voice. As someone with power in the classroom, I am less worried about kids paying attention to me than I am worried about them paying attention to each other. What student would want to become vulnerable by sharing their important thoughts if they are really entering into a combat for attention, trying to out-entertain an app designed to be addictive?

Should we just butt out, as Gary Stager suggests? Amy Williams poses an important question in reply:

[tweet by Benjamin Doxtdator @doxtdatorb
https://twitter.com/doxtdatorb/status/863648814724505600 ]
"@garystager Which doesn't mean monitoring or surveilling the kids or banning it"

[tweet by Amy Williams @MsWilliamsEng
https://twitter.com/MsWilliamsEng/status/863688181811687425 ]
"@doxtdatorb @garystager Can a school follow anti-discrimination laws (i.e. really claim that it's preventing harassment) & ignore what happens in backchannels?"

Relegating Snapchat to a completely unsupervised space in schools makes no more sense than not supervising playgrounds, especially given the unprecedented power of social media to quickly spread images far and wide. Supervising the playground does not mean that I don’t allow kids the freedom to talk without me hearing every word, but somehow balancing the freedoms that kids need with obligations to care for them.

I think I worry most about students taking photos and sharing them without consent. Who could learn under those conditions? I couldn’t. Imagine taking a risk by trying a new move in PE class or giving a speech and then seeing a phone peek back at you. As a teacher that uses a lot of technology, I play a role in modelling best practices. If I want to tweet something from my classroom, I tell my students why I want to take a picture of them, show them the photo, and then ask if they are willing to let me post it.
Mostly, I’d love to hear what students think. Imagine the possibilities in large-scale research that solicited anonymous feedback and also made use of in-depth interviews. We might be missing an opportunity to really learn something."

[See also:

https://twitter.com/doxtdatorb/status/863799711098130433

"Nope, it's this kind of nonsense that equates education with entertainment and immediate gratification that's the problem."

in response to

"If kids in your class are more engaged by a fidget spinner than they are by your lesson, the spinner isn't the problem. Your lesson is."
https://twitter.com/plugusin/status/863389674223669248 ]
technology  education  schools  snapchat  socialmedia  distraction  entertainment  coercion  gamification  classism  garystager  learning  supervision  surveillance  modeling  reflection  silence  quiet  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  sfsh  middleground  amywilliams  edutainment  engagement  gratification  fidgetspinners  discrimination  backchannels 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Disciplining Education Technology
"Why discipline ed-tech?

I cannot help but think here of Michel Foucault and his Surveiller et punir, translated into English, of course, as Discipline and Punish. The book is certainly best known for the theory of Panopticism, Foucault’s history of the development of a disciplinary society through specific mechanisms, movements, technologies, and processes of surveillance. But this disciplinary society isn’t simply a function of an architectural or technological Panopticon. This is always for Foucault about knowledge and power. And importantly, in Discipline and Punish, he traces the rise of academic disciplines in the 18th century alongside the establishment of the modern prison – they share the practices of investigation, intervention, examination, interrogation, control. “The disciplines characterize, classify, specialize; they distribute along a scale, around a norm, hierarchize individuals in relation to one another and, if necessary, disqualify and invalidate.”

Education technology is already a discipline; education technology is already disciplinary. That is its history; that is its design; that is its function.

Education is replete with technologies of discipline. It has been, Foucault argues, since it was formalized in the late eighteenth century. By ranking students, for example, by assigning students to rows, these disciplinary technologies and practices “made the educational space function like a learning machine, but also as a machine for supervising, hierarchizing, rewarding” [emphasis mine].

Can a discipline of education technology challenge or undo or even see its own disciplinary practices, mechanisms, technologies?

Weller suggests that a discipline “creates a body against which criticism can push.” But I’m not sure that that’s the case. It seems more likely that the almost utter lack of criticality in education technology is because of how disciplined the field already is. It works quite hard to re-inscribe its own relevance, its own power – that's what all disciplines do, no doubt; it forecloses contrary ideas – most importantly, the idea that these technologies might not be necessary, that they might in fact be so tightly bound up in practices of surveillance and control that they forestall teaching and learning as practices of freedom and liberation.

The very last thing that education technology needs right now is to become more disciplinary. We need, as I said last week in my keynote at DeL, a radical blasphemy, a greater willingness for undisciplining."
edtech  disciplines  education  criticaleducation  criticism  audreywatters  2016  hierarchy  rewards  supervision  unschooling  deschooling  technology  schools  michelfoucault  foucault 
october 2016 by robertogreco
The Unsupervised Kids of 'Stranger Things' Would Be a Nightmare for Today's Parents - Curbed
"These days, only kids in movies are free to explore"

"If Stranger Things feels even more eerily familiar, that’s because the show’s aesthetic is meant to evoke great ‘80s thrillers like Stand by Me, The Goonies, and E.T., in some cases, providing shot-by-shot references. As in those classic films, the kids are left at home by themselves to get spooked, then make their (sometimes gruesome) discoveries deep in the nearby woods, without an adult in sight.

It’s the bike moments of Stranger Things that really resonate. The kids ride their banana-seat and BMX bikes to school, to each others houses—even at night!—and without a single helmet. Bikes also represent a type of freedom compared to car-bound adults that works to the kids’ advantage. One of the best scenes shows the kids evading the bad guys by navigating a network of cut-throughs that slice through the culs-de-sac.

Those who grew up in the suburban US probably have similar memories. But this was in fact the real-life experience for those who grew up in Hawkins, Indiana, in 1983—or rather, the Hebron Hills neighborhood of Atlanta, where the subdivision scenes in Stranger Things were filmed.

Even the cut-throughs the characters use are actually there, says Valerie Watson, an urban designer who works for LADOT’s Active Transportation Division, whose childhood home was featured in one of the chase scenes. She rode her bike everywhere, including the creepy forest nearby where old trucks and burnt-down cabins were draped in kudzu.

Watson absolutely believes that being allowed to navigate her neighborhood on her own led her to become an active adult bicyclist and also influenced her decision to choose a career in street design. But she’s worried this might not be the case for today’s kids.

"I think our generation might have been at the turning point where society shifted on this," she says. "I remember getting the talk about what to do if a stranger approached you—’don't talk to them and ride away!’— and to move over to the side when cars were coming. Parental direction was more about ‘be polite and smart’ back then instead of ‘be afraid of everything’ like today."

And yet, statistically, kids in the US have never been safer.

This is a uniquely American problem, of course. Children in other countries are still allowed to roam unsupervised, which has inspired what’s been called the "free-range kids" movement here in the US, championed by parents who believe kids should be allowed to ride transit and walk to local parks by themselves.

The free-range kids movement even believes parental-induced paranoia might be deterring kids from biking. A recent article theorized that forcing kids to wear helmets and ride on sidewalks is scaring kids away from bikes, when in fact, American kids are far more likely to suffer brain injuries in car crashes. (Interestingly, as prop manager Lynda Reiss told Wired, the ‘80s-era bikes in Stranger Things were the hardest thing to find, thanks to the idea that older bikes are unsafe—so they ended up building replicas.)

My own suburban upbringing mirrors the setting of Stranger Things almost exactly. I, too, was allowed to wander freely—hoisting flimsy rope swings high into trees, building structurally unsound bike ramps, and wading a little too deep in the pond—as long as I came home before dark. The woods that backed up to our house served as both the innocent landscape of adventure and the horror film backdrop of my nightmares. It was often dangerous and sometimes scary. But mostly, it was awesome.

Then I look at my own daughter, whose hand I grip with white knuckles as we make our way along the incredibly busy street on our corner. The speed at which cars travel through this intersection is somehow far more frightening than anything I encountered in those woods.

I wonder at what age I’ll let her cross the street alone. Or if I’ll ever let her ride her bike to a friend’s house. I worry that the idea of letting kids explore their cities on their own is something she’ll only be able to see on TV."
alissawalker  parenting  strangerthings  2016  supervision  freedom  children  exploration  film  fear  movies  bikes  biking  goonies  et  standbyme  autonomy  mobility  helmets 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Poll: Most Americans Want to Criminalize Pre-Teens Playing Unsupervised - Reason.com
"A whopping 68 percent of Americans think there should be a law that prohibits kids 9 and under from playing at the park unsupervised, despite the fact that most of them no doubt grew up doing just that.

What's more: 43 percent feel the same way about 12-year-olds. They would like to criminalize all pre-teenagers playing outside on their own (and, I guess, arrest their no-good parents)."
helicopterparenting  lenoreskenazy  2014  children  freedom  supervision  authority  parenting  us  law  legal  unschooling  deschooling  safety  fear  helicopterparents 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Anab Jain: Designing the future
"Anab Jain talks about design in a future world of insect cyborgs, mass surveillance, DNA monetization and guerilla infrastructure. "This sort of speculative work explores the remarkable potential of technology and its new experiential aesthetics.""

[See also: http://www.superflux.in/work/staying-with-the-trouble ]

[Alt video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-stunrZcB24 ]
anabjain  superflux  design  future  cyborgs  surveillance  infrastructure  speculativedesign  designfiction  biotech  biotechnology  genetics  science  nearfuture  robots  bostondynamics  23andme  2013  drones  jugaad  thenewnormal  bees  humanism  bodies  humans  vision  blind  prosthetics  memory  consciousness  supervision  film  storytelling  speculativefiction  shanzai  china  innovation  resilience  ingenuity  poptech  body 
november 2013 by robertogreco
School is no Place for a Reader « Canadian Notes & Queries
[Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20140809200239/http://notesandqueries.ca/school-is-no-place-for-a-reader/ ]

"School is no place for a reader. An object of suspicion and a source of discord in the classroom, the reading child is a threat to school harmony. Her act of reading is itself a provocation to authority. She must be stopped and made to play team games or gaze dumbly at a screen. The silent reader dangerously escapes supervision and the escape is most threatening when the content of the book is unknown."



"Why should school be such hostile territory for readers? Why this ambivalence toward reading?

In part, at least, a difficulty is thrown up by the imperative to pursue a “literacy agenda” – the teaching of reading as a functional skill and the concomitant concern about testing results has left little place in school for literature.

In the fulfilment of the literacy agenda – enabling functional and useful reading – it really doesn’t matter what books kids are reading, so long as they’re learning how to read. Levelled readers, The Magic Treehouse, The Ninjago Guidebook, Barbie movie derivatives – the texts are disposable and fundamentally interchangeable. Because it is easier to test and assess based on a system of sequential readers, because it is easier to trick students into picking up a book because it looks and sounds like a television programme, the shelves are stocked with such things in the name of efficiency. The way that literacy is pursued in schools has profound implications for books. Readers of CNQ – writers, editors, publishers, critics, booksellers – take heed. Children’s education in literature and, but more often or, literacy prepares the field on which you carry out all your endeavours. The literacy agenda has resulted in the near elimination of actual books from schools. Peter Hunt describes the situation in Children’s Literature: “[A] utilitarian culture sees the ability to read and write as paramount and looks for simple methods of achieving it. . . . The teaching methods . . . eliminate fiction on the overt grounds that it is too complex, and on the covert grounds that the unrestrained imagination is not politically malleable.”

Arguably, the literacy agenda is a limiting approach that ill serves all children in schools. It is inarguable that it ill serves those who are already readers."
reading  schools  education  schooling  control  supervision  authority  power  jenniferfranssen  suspicion  unschooling  deschooling  libraries 
november 2013 by robertogreco
A Practical Utopian’s Guide to the Coming Collapse | David Graeber | The Baffler
[Now here: http://www.thebaffler.com/salvos/a-practical-utopians-guide-to-the-coming-collapse ]

"What is a revolution? We used to think we knew. Revolutions were seizures of power by popular forces aiming to transform the very nature of the political, social, and economic system in the country in which the revolution took place, usually according to some visionary dream of a just society. Nowadays, we live in an age when, if rebel armies do come sweeping into a city, or mass uprisings overthrow a dictator, it’s unlikely to have any such implications; when profound social transformation does occur—as with, say, the rise of feminism—it’s likely to take an entirely different form. It’s not that revolutionary dreams aren’t out there. But contemporary revolutionaries rarely think they can bring them into being by some modern-day equivalent of storming the Bastille."



"Revolutions are thus planetary phenomena. But there is more. What they really do is transform basic assumptions about what politics is ultimately about. In the wake of a revolution, ideas that had been considered veritably lunatic fringe quickly become the accepted currency of debate. Before the French Revolution, the ideas that change is good, that government policy is the proper way to manage it, and that governments derive their authority from an entity called “the people” were considered the sorts of things one might hear from crackpots and demagogues, or at best a handful of freethinking intellectuals who spend their time debating in cafés. A generation later, even the stuffiest magistrates, priests, and headmasters had to at least pay lip service to these ideas. Before long, we had reached the situation we are in today: that it’s necessary to lay out the terms for anyone to even notice they are there. They’ve become common sense, the very grounds of political discussion.

Until 1968, most world revolutions really just introduced practical refinements: an expanded franchise, universal primary education, the welfare state. The world revolution of 1968, in contrast—whether it took the form it did in China, of a revolt by students and young cadres supporting Mao’s call for a Cultural Revolution; or in Berkeley and New York, where it marked an alliance of students, dropouts, and cultural rebels; or even in Paris, where it was an alliance of students and workers—was a rebellion against bureaucracy, conformity, or anything that fettered the human imagination, a project for the revolutionizing of not just political or economic life, but every aspect of human existence. As a result, in most cases, the rebels didn’t even try to take over the apparatus of state; they saw that apparatus as itself the problem."



"In retrospect, though, I think that later historians will conclude that the legacy of the sixties revolution was deeper than we now imagine, and that the triumph of capitalist markets and their various planetary administrators and enforcers—which seemed so epochal and permanent in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991—was, in fact, far shallower."



"In fact, most of the economic innovations of the last thirty years make more sense politically than economically. Eliminating guaranteed life employment for precarious contracts doesn’t really create a more effective workforce, but it is extraordinarily effective in destroying unions and otherwise depoliticizing labor. The same can be said of endlessly increasing working hours. No one has much time for political activity if they’re working sixty-hour weeks.

It does often seem that, whenever there is a choice between one option that makes capitalism seem the only possible economic system, and another that would actually make capitalism a more viable economic system, neoliberalism means always choosing the former. The combined result is a relentless campaign against the human imagination. Or, to be more precise: imagination, desire, individual creativity, all those things that were to be liberated in the last great world revolution, were to be contained strictly in the domain of consumerism, or perhaps in the virtual realities of the Internet. In all other realms they were to be strictly banished. We are talking about the murdering of dreams, the imposition of an apparatus of hopelessness, designed to squelch any sense of an alternative future. Yet as a result of putting virtually all their efforts in one political basket, we are left in the bizarre situation of watching the capitalist system crumbling before our very eyes, at just the moment everyone had finally concluded no other system would be possible.

Work It Out, Slow It Down

Normally, when you challenge the conventional wisdom—that the current economic and political system is the only possible one—the first reaction you are likely to get is a demand for a detailed architectural blueprint of how an alternative system would work, down to the nature of its financial instruments, energy supplies, and policies of sewer maintenance. Next, you are likely to be asked for a detailed program of how this system will be brought into existence. Historically, this is ridiculous. When has social change ever happened according to someone’s blueprint? It’s not as if a small circle of visionaries in Renaissance Florence conceived of something they called “capitalism,” figured out the details of how the stock exchange and factories would someday work, and then put in place a program to bring their visions into reality. In fact, the idea is so absurd we might well ask ourselves how it ever occurred to us to imagine this is how change happens to begin.

This is not to say there’s anything wrong with utopian visions. Or even blueprints. They just need to be kept in their place. The theorist Michael Albert has worked out a detailed plan for how a modern economy could run without money on a democratic, participatory basis. I think this is an important achievement—not because I think that exact model could ever be instituted, in exactly the form in which he describes it, but because it makes it impossible to say that such a thing is inconceivable. Still, such models can be only thought experiments. We cannot really conceive of the problems that will arise when we start trying to build a free society. What now seem likely to be the thorniest problems might not be problems at all; others that never even occurred to us might prove devilishly difficult. There are innumerable X-factors.

The most obvious is technology. This is the reason it’s so absurd to imagine activists in Renaissance Italy coming up with a model for a stock exchange and factories—what happened was based on all sorts of technologies that they couldn’t have anticipated, but which in part only emerged because society began to move in the direction that it did. This might explain, for instance, why so many of the more compelling visions of an anarchist society have been produced by science fiction writers (Ursula K. Le Guin, Starhawk, Kim Stanley Robinson). In fiction, you are at least admitting the technological aspect is guesswork.

Myself, I am less interested in deciding what sort of economic system we should have in a free society than in creating the means by which people can make such decisions for themselves. What might a revolution in common sense actually look like? I don’t know, but I can think of any number of pieces of conventional wisdom that surely need challenging if we are to create any sort of viable free society. I’ve already explored one—the nature of money and debt—in some detail in a recent book. I even suggested a debt jubilee, a general cancellation, in part just to bring home that money is really just a human product, a set of promises, that by its nature can always be renegotiated."
debt  economics  politics  revolution  work  labor  davidgraeber  power  society  revolutions  2013  grassroots  punk  global  conformity  bureaucracy  feminism  1789  frenchrevolution  1848  1968  communism  independence  freedom  1917  thestate  commonsense  fringe  ideas  memes  socialmovements  war  collateraldamage  civilrights  gayrights  neoliberalism  freemarkets  libertarianism  debtcancellation  fear  insecurity  consumerism  occupy  occupywallstreet  ows  sustainability  growth  well-being  utopianism  productivity  environment  humanism  ideology  class  classstruggle  abbiehoffman  slow  supervision  control  management  taylorism  virtue  artleisure  discipline  leisurearts  globalization 
may 2013 by robertogreco
No Teachers, No Class, No Homework; Would You Send Your Kids Here? - Emily Chertoff - The Atlantic
"Many agree that the generation of Americans now in their teens and 20s had some of the most over-supervised and over-structured childhoods in U.S. history. It will be interesting to see whether these trends will continue, or whether these next-generation parents react to their own disciplined upbringings by becoming more hands-off. If they grow to resent the way they were raised, democratic schools may come to look like a pretty appealing option for their own children."
parenting  supervision  education  learning  sudbury  sudburyschools  sudburyvalleyschool  trends  deschooling  unschooling  2012  summerhill  schools  democratic  democraticschools  democraticeducation 
december 2012 by robertogreco
It’s Not About You - NYTimes.com
"…many ways in which this year’s graduating class has been ill served by their elders…enter a bad job market…hangover from decades of excessive borrowing…inherit a ruinous federal debt.

…their lives have been perversely structured…members of the most supervised generation in US history. Through their childhoods & teenage years, they have been monitored, tutored, coached & honed to an unprecedented degree.

Yet upon graduation they will enter a world that is unprecedentedly wide open and unstructured."

"No one would design a system of extreme supervision to prepare people for a decade of extreme openness. But this is exactly what has emerged in modern America…

…cultural climate that preaches the self as the center of a life. But…they’ll discover that the tasks of a life are at the center. Fulfillment is a byproduct of how people engage their tasks, & can’t be pursued directly…The purpose in life is not to find yourself. It’s to lose yourself."
education  learning  culture  society  life  generations  davidbrooks  economics  policy  boomers  generationy  geny  babyboomers  parenting  supervision  unstructured  structure  tcsnmy  unschooling  deschooling  jobs  2011  freedom  autonomy  disconnect  fulfillment 
june 2011 by robertogreco
If we try to engineer perfect children, will they grow up to be unbearable? - By Katie Roiphe - Slate Magazine
"In the long sticky hours of boredom, in the lonely, unsupervised, unstructured time, something blooms; it was in those margins that we became ourselves…our new ethos of control…contains a vision of right-minded child rearing that is in its own enlightened way as exclusive & conformist…Built into this model of the perfectible child is, of course, an inevitable failure. You can't control everything, the universe offers up rogue moments that will make your child unhappy or sick or ­broken-hearted, there will be faithless friends & failed auditions & bad teachers…All I am suggesting is that it might be time to stand back, pour a drink, & let the children ­torment, or bore or injure each other a little. It might be time to dabble in the laissez faire; to let the imagination run to art instead of art projects; to let the imperfect universe & its imperfect ­children be themselves." [Read it all.]
parenting  children  imperfection  learning  identity  boredom  supervision  control  unschooling  deschooling  perfection  failure  happiness  unhappiness  risk  risktaking  laissezfaire  imagination  glvo  self  teaching  cv  unstructuredtime 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Children Largely Surf the Web Unsupervised. ~ Stephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes
"OK, if these numbers reflect anything like similar trends over the last decade or so, shouldn't we have seen by now a wave of injury and trauma? I mean, if this sort of situation is dangerous, shouldn't we be seeing casualties by now? If 60 percent of children ran through red lights, we'd be hearing about it. So, given these statistics, what is the case for Internet Safety, properly so-called?"
stephendownes  children  safety  internet  data  supervision  parenting  filtering 
october 2009 by robertogreco

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