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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 
5 days ago by robertogreco
ZigZag ALC
“We are a transformative Agile Learning community of diverse people of all ages in Asheville, NC. We practice Self-Directed Education, empathy-based communication, consent, and liberation. Liberation means freeing ourselves and our children from oppressive systems and schoolish mindsets of perfection, conformity, compliance, and zero sum games. We grow, discover, and celebrate our kids and ourselves exactly as we are. 

Agile Learning at its core is about giving kids genuine choice about how to spend their time throughout their day, and this self-direction works best when done with intention and as part of a vibrant community. Facilitators and mentors offer classes, projects, activities, and weekly field trips based on the interests of the kids enrolled. We believe in the importance of play, nature, community, intention-setting, and trust-centered decision making. We practice power-with instead of power-over, which means that all of our needs matter, kids and grownups alike. 

We are an alternative to public/private schools for kids ages 3-13. We want to help families that never intended to pull their kids out of school, but find their kid is stressed, losing their curiosity, being bullied, etc., and needs help finding another way forward. We can help with that transition and be a resource in creating an education that is more meaningful and fun. ​

We are also a resource for unschoolers and homeschoolers already happy and comfortable with their education and just looking for another wonderful opportunity to enrich their lives.”

[via: “Unschooled Asheville: A day in the life of homeschooling's boldest movement”
https://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2020/01/22/asheville-unschooling-homeschool-zig-zag-gains-popularity/4419234002/ ]
unschooling  agilelearningcenters  self-directed  self-directedlearning  education  deschooling  asheville  northcarolina  homeschool  lcproject  openstudioproject  agilelearning  learning  children 
20 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 
24 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 
24 days ago by robertogreco
The Secret Grace of Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers - Mn Artists
“Thanks to Alec Soth and the team of Little Brown Mushroom, a group of international artists and writers find themselves immersed in finding the stories hiding in plain sight within the marvelous mundanities of the Midwest.

“ALL OF THIS COULD JUST BE A MASSIVE FAILURE, one never knows,” Alec Soth shrugs, his slim frame curled into a Thinker pose as he rests in a swivel chair in the converted garage space that serves as his studio and office. He’s speaking about the Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers, a recent arts workshop held at Little Brown Mushroom, the Saint Paul publishing house Soth co-founded. His “take it as it comes” attitude is fitting to the project, as Soth and his fellow instructors envisioned the camp as something of a repudiation of the glut of tightly scheduled, for-profit workshops that dominate the photography landscape.

As an internationally celebrated photographer, Soth gets invited to participate in those workshops all the time. “I’ve always avoided them for a variety of reasons,” he says, running a hand over his dark, close-cropped beard. “If it’s somewhere else, I don’t want to just fly off and go do a thing in Cuba or wherever. It always sounds exotic, but then that’s also problematic. They tend to be very expensive for the participants so that it can make money. And that’s fine, but it attracts dentists.”

Affordability and accessibility have always been cornerstones of the Little Brown Mushroom philosophy – their photo essay books generally retail for less than $20, with pricier special editions available for serious collectors. The idea is to produce high-quality artwork that stays in the price range of students, casual arts patrons and other folks who can’t or won’t pony up for the usual high-end art books. Not long ago, it dawned on Soth that the same ethos could be applied to those big-ticket workshops.

“I thought, I keep getting asked to do these workshops, but what if I did a workshop here? Because I’m hungry to be involved in education in some way, but I also want to do it on my own terms,” Soth explains. Once the seed was planted, the framework came together quickly: Little Brown Mushroom would invite artists to apply for a free, five-day workshop based in the cozily industrial confines of the company’s Saint Paul offices. Making the workshop cost-free was hugely important, not just because it kept things affordable for the applicants, but also because it provided Soth and his collaborators with a little more room to move. “It relieves some of the burden of having to fulfill a specific expectation,” Soth says. “It’s free to be more experimental. Also, it allowed us to cherry-pick really interesting applications. We got a ton of applications, really fascinating ones. We could’ve done it 20 times over. The only negative to this whole process so far has been saying no to people with these wonderful applications.”

That freedom also allowed the Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers to focus on perhaps the stickiest aspect of the Little Brown Mushroom mission: exploring the possibilities of photo-centric narratives. In a side room the staff refers to as “The Cave” stands Soth’s sizable collection of photography books. The library ranges from well-known classics to recent obscurities, but in Soth’s eyes the real jewels are a smattering of books that attempt to wed photos to some sort of overarching narrative. There are children’s books, Mexican fotonovelas, even a few more adult-oriented artistic efforts like Daniel Seymour’s A Loud Song. Soth has long explored the intersection of storytelling and photography in his own work, most recently in his series of LBM Dispatch collaborations with author and Little Brown Mushroom team member Brad Zellar.

“The thing about Little Brown Mushroom is it’s always a combination of text and image,” Soth says. “We use a storybook, like Little Golden Books, as sort of a template for visual storytelling. It’s really storytelling at its most basic form. And then something like these “dispatches,” that’s more modeled after newspaper journalism, but also something like Life photo essays. It’s kind of a dated thing, but Dorthea Lange and Paul Taylor collaborated, Margaret Bourke-White and Erskine Caldwell, these writer-photographer collaborations. It’s kind of a bygone era.”

Despite Soth’s fascination with and enthusiasm for narrative photography, he’s not convinced that it’s a particularly effective format. “Truthfully,” he says, “I don’t think they go together very well, images and text. I think they fight each other. But I feel hungry for it. As an artist, [this workshop] is a way for me to play around and experiment with other artists in terms of, ‘what are the possibilities of this?’”

With that loose mission statement in hand, Soth and the Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers staff – Zellar, photographers Carrie Thompson and Ethan Jones, designer Hans Seeger, visual artist Jason Polan and filmmaker Galen Fletcher – sorted through the more than 400 applications and picked out 15 attendees from all around the world. The final roster included artists from corners as far-flung as Germany and Venezuela, with just one Minnesotan in the mix. (In the interest of getting as diverse a selection of perspectives as possible, the staff intentionally decided to limit the locals and only consider applicants with whose work they were unfamiliar.)

The campers roll in on Tuesday with little idea of what to expect from the undertaking. Much of their trepidation has to do with working in teams. “Collaboration is kind of a new thing for me,” says Jeff Barnett-Winsby, a photographer from New York. “But it’s definitely something that I’ve been enjoying. I think a lot of photographers [are concerned that], because our work is so representational, it’s also easily replicated or at least emulated. It makes for a really insecure artist. Those artists are notoriously bad at collaborating, because you have to give up control and authorship. I think we did a really great job – but maybe I’m just talking about me.”

When we speak, before camp starts, Soth admits that he himself has only a basic idea of how the week will unfold. “We’re going to pair people off for the first day to do little collaborative projects. Ideally we’ll get as much of a mix of mediums between those people as possible,” Soth explains. “They go out and they have to generate some sort of story. It can be a very simple thing… It’s like a children’s book, the primal form of storytelling. Like, ‘I went to Hawaii. I saw the dolphin.’ Except in a more sophisticated way: ‘I went to Menards. I photographed someone in a wedding dress.’”

He’s not kidding about Menards, either. Exploring the untapped wonders of Saint Paul, especially the nearby Saint Anthony and Midway neighborhoods, is very much a part of the workshop agenda. William Faulkner once said that a key to his success as a novelist was the realization that “my own little postage stamp of soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it.” Soth clearly abides by a similar philosophy.

“They’re going out in this vicinity,” he says. “A big belief of mine is that I don’t have to go to Cuba to do a photo workshop, or to see the exotic people. It’s exotic here. It’s interesting. Menards is very interesting. One can do a photo workshop here as well as anywhere else. In some ways it helps to avoid some of the clichés.”

And so it is that a group of international artists and writers find themselves checking in at Al’s Diner in Dinkytown, wandering the woods outside of the city and otherwise immersed in the marvelous mundanities of the Midwest. The unstructured nature of the undertaking foments some peculiar – and, it seems, welcome – digressions. Easter Trouble Press founder Jim Reed, a fan of Soth’s work who traveled from Frankfort, Germany to take part in the camp, finds himself inspired to experiment with William Eggleston’s “democratic camera” concept during the group’s trip to the forest. “I decided I’m going to drink beer and get intoxicated, in the spirit of Eggleston, and go around and sit and stare at objects, try to give objects their full worth the way that Eggleston gave objects their full worth,” Reed says. He eventually evolves that idea into a sort of conceptual Easter egg hunt for the other campers.

There are probably a lot of arts workshops where that sort of thing wouldn’t fly, but as far as Soth is concerned, anything that helps an artist tap into a vein of storytelling is fair game. “Part of the name, the whole ‘Socially Awkward’ thing, is that photographers and writers are generally more reclusive people. Certainly I was. That’s part of my reason for doing it. But I am interested in storytelling as communication. Wouldn’t it be interesting just to experiment with this form of presenting material in a slideshow? And in part it comes from personal experience, because I’ve been forced into this situation. I’m not saying I’m good at it at all. I give the standard slideshow, like an artist’s lecture. But I thought there was potential here for something.”

From the look of things around the Little Brown Mushroom offices on Wednesday evening, after the second full day of workshops, the campers are finding the challenge daunting but are eager to rise to it. A dimly lit back room hums with quiet energy as duos hunch over MacBooks and try to pull loose narratives out of their day’s outing in the forest. Soth and some Little Brown Mushroom staffers mill about up front, chatting about upcoming projects and allowing the artists to go well over their allotted work time.

It’s pushing on past 8 pm when the instructors finally give the “pencils down” call. The campers have prepared a series of slideshows in which they’ve tied their photos together with some … [more]
2013  irabooker  campforsociallyawkwardstorytellers  aprildobbins  alecsoth  littlebrownmushroom  storytelling  camp  conferences  creativity  lcproject  openstudioproject  walkerartcenter  minnesota  books  publishing  selfpublishing  visual  pop-ups  writing  photography  bradzellar  slideshows  stories  socialmedia  tarawray  wenxinzhang  serendipity  spontaneity  unschooling  deschooling  education  curriculum  summerinwintercamp  ephemeral  ephemeralinstitutions  ephemerality  hansseeger  delaneyallen  horatiobaltz  jeffbarnett-winsby  julianbleecker  elainebleakney  bradfarwell  adamforrester  colinmatthes  buckymiller  dianarangel  jimreed  caitlinwarner  classideas  photobooks  ncmideas  carriethompson  galenfletcher  ethanjones  jasonpollan  projectideas  stpaul  self-publishing  adventure  fun  unconferences  experientialeducation  design  conferenceideas  camps  learning  collaboration  experientiallearning 
25 days ago by robertogreco
Popsicle #27: LBM Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers « Little Brown Mushroom
“The other day my daughter and I had a conversation about the event I was hosting at my studio, The Camp For Socially Awkward Storytellers. While she agreed that I’m something of an expert on social-awkwardness, she disputed the notion that I’m a storyteller. “You take pictures and put them into books,” she said, “but they aren’t really stories.”

Her words bruised a bit, but deep down I knew she was right. I know very little about storytelling. If anything, the camp was an elaborate con to get fifteen exceptional artists from around the world to travel to Minnesota to teach me about storytelling. Man, did it work. In five short days I learned more about the possibilities of visual storytelling than I’d probably learn in a year of grad school. But there was another lesson of equal importance: the value of having real encounters with real people in the real world.

I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in digital culture. More and more of my daily life is lived in a virtual space behind the screen of my computer. On Saturday night, this virtual space was turned inside out. Fifteen flesh and blood artists projected images onto a screen in front of a flesh and blood audience. The result was, in a word, alive.

In the last few weeks I’ve expanded my “social network” to include Instagram. As expected, I quickly became caught up in the Pavlovian ego-boost of the ‘like’ count. After Saturday night, I understand why screen actors return to the stage. The sound of people laughing and clapping means more than a million ‘likes.’

For the fourth time in 27 posts, George Saunders:
I began to understand art as a kind of black box the reader enters. He enters in one state of mind and exits in another… The writer… can put whatever he wants in there. What’s important is that something undeniable and nontrivial happens to the reader between entry and exit… The black box is meant to change us.

A ‘like’ is not a change. Nor is a thousand ‘likes.’ I believe virtual social networks have great creative potential, but it is almost impossible to quantify. Sometimes you just need to climb into the black box with other people.

I’m so grateful to everyone who climbed into that box with me last week. Along with thanking the Soap Factory and their amazing audience, I want to individually thank the camp participants:

Wenxin Zhang, Tara Wray, Caitlin Warner, Jim Reed, Diana Rangel, Bucky Miller, Colin Matthes, Adam Forrester, Brad Farwell, April Dobbins, Elaine Bleakney, Julian Bleecker, Jeff Barnett-Winsby, Horatio Baltz, Delaney Allen.

The visiting artists: Brian Beatty, David Sollie, Vince Leo.

Our interns: Yara Van der Velden, Kayla Huett, Phil Bologna.

And the LBM team: Brad Zellar, Carrie Thompson, Hans Seeger, Jason Polan, Ethan Jones, Galen Fletcher.

I truly feel changed.

Alec”
campforsociallyawkwardstorytellers  2013  alecsoth  littlebrownmushroom  storytelling  camp  conferences  creativity  lcproject  openstudioproject  walkerartcenter  minnesota  books  publishing  selfpublishing  visual  pop-ups  writing  photography  bradzellar  slideshows  stories  socialmedia  tarawray  wenxinzhang  serendipity  spontaneity  unschooling  deschooling  education  curriculum  summerinwintercamp  ephemeral  ephemeralinstitutions  ephemerality  hansseeger  delaneyallen  horatiobaltz  jeffbarnett-winsby  julianbleecker  elainebleakney  aprildobbins  bradfarwell  adamforrester  colinmatthes  buckymiller  dianarangel  jimreed  caitlinwarner  classideas  photobooks  ncmideas  carriethompson  galenfletcher  ethanjones  jasonpollan  projectideas  stpaul  self-publishing  adventure  fun  unconferences  experientialeducation  design  conferenceideas  camps  learning  collaboration  experientiallearning 
25 days ago by robertogreco
Photographer Alec Soth mounts storyteller's summer camp awkwardly | MPR News
“Internationally acclaimed St. Paul photographer Alec Soth constantly pushes the boundaries of his medium. This week, he’s running a summer camp for artists from around the world. No one – particularly Soth – claims to know how it will turn out.

Until now, there’s never been a Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers.

Sitting in one of the workrooms in his St. Paul studio, Soth tells the 15 participants he has decided speed dating is the best way to get everyone to meet as quickly as possible. Moments later, the room is filled with animated conversations across a very long table. Every two minutes at the clang of a cowbell everyone moves and meets another camper.

They are photographers, illustrators and writers. Soth and his staff selected them from more than 400 applicants for this free summer camp sponsored by Soth’s small press, Little Brown Mushroom. One came from Germany, another from Venezuela. All responded to a simple post on Soth’s website. There were few details.

Soth and Brad Zellar, his long-time collaborator writer, claim they are making up the camp as they go along. They use the speed dating session to decide what to do next.

Given that Soth called the camp Socially Awkward Storytellers because he’s so uncomfortable speaking publicly, that next thing - a slideshow - makes sense.

“This whole thing about social awkwardness and public speaking is that the slide projector is a great way to, like, pull people’s attentions away,” Soth says, switching on his projector. “That’s why I am diving right into it.”

This really is a camp about telling stories – with pictures. In a world where smart phones have made cameras ubiquitous, Soth challenges the group to return to an older form of storytelling – the slideshow.

“Given that we have a limited amount of time,” he says, “why don’t we use that as the model for this workshop and practice telling stories that way.”

And just to raise the ante, everyone will present their slideshow Saturday evening at the Soap Factory gallery in Minneapolis. It’s open to the public – another detail omitted from the original description of the summer camp.

No one seems too put off.

“You know I like Alec’s work, and I’d heard him talk and he didn’t seem like a jerk,” Brad Farwell says during a break.

Like many of the participants, Farwell, who came to the camp from New York, is interested in how photography has changed. He says for many people it’s become a performance, with people taking them without the intention of ever making a print.

“They sort of make a photograph, and then see it on the back of the camera and then a lot of those photographs exist on the back of the camera in the instant of their making, and then disappear.”

As the group ate lunch cooked on the grill in the parking lot, Wenxin Zhang – formerly of China, now of San Francisco – and Colin Matthes of Milwaukee, a visual artist who denies having any photography skills, compared notes.

“I think the schedule is like a spy schedule,” she says. “You are going to bomb this building today. Tomorrow you are going to dig into the ground and find some gold.”

“I like that we didn’t know anything beforehand,” says Matthes. “We had no idea about the schedule besides it starts around 9 or 10 every day.”

Twenty-four hours later the group is standing in a clearing in a Minneapolis park learning about their next mission.

It’s an artistic capture the flag game where they have to find their group leader hiding somewhere in the woods and document whatever he’s looking at. That group leader will be chugging beer too, so he may not be that focused.

Soth looks on, loving it. The previous evening he had sent the campers out to hunt down stories in the city.

“I mean they, within four hours, produced so much quality work, it was staggering,” he says.

There were explorations of Minneapolis, and a documentation of a receptionist’s life. One of the staff interns said they produced more in one evening than an entire year of grad school. Soth says the camp is still an exercise in spontaneity, but he this already thinks it’s been a success.

“This is fantastic,” he adds. “And it’s also a story. Something unexpected happened. I mean I had no clue that a fellow was going to run off in the woods and hide and we’re going to track him down. It’s an adventure, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Soth and Zellar both say, if nothing else, it’s given them a chance to get to know some interesting people.

“Some of these people are mind-blowingly talented,” Zellar says. “I mean some of these applications … they created a little project and a .pdf (document). It’s light years beyond anything I could conceive of, ever.””
campforsociallyawkwardstorytellers  2013  alecsoth  littlebrownmushroom  storytelling  camp  conferences  creativity  lcproject  openstudioproject  walkerartcenter  minnesota  books  publishing  selfpublishing  visual  pop-ups  writing  photography  bradzellar  slideshows  stories  socialmedia  tarawray  wenxinzhang  serendipity  spontaneity  unschooling  deschooling  education  curriculum  summerinwintercamp  ephemeral  ephemeralinstitutions  ephemerality  hansseeger  delaneyallen  horatiobaltz  jeffbarnett-winsby  julianbleecker  elainebleakney  aprildobbins  bradfarwell  adamforrester  colinmatthes  buckymiller  dianarangel  jimreed  caitlinwarner  classideas  photobooks  ncmideas  carriethompson  galenfletcher  ethanjones  jasonpollan  projectideas  stpaul  self-publishing  adventure  fun  unconferences  experientialeducation  design  conferenceideas  camps  learning  collaboration  experientiallearning 
25 days ago by robertogreco
Artists from around the world gather in St. Paul for Little Brown Mushroom’s Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers – Knight Foundation
"Little Brown Mushroom’s Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers culminates in a public event Saturday July 13 at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis.

This weekend, 15 “visual storytellers” from all over the world are convening at the headquarters of Little Brown Mushroom (LBM), an interdisciplinary publishing outfit based out of photographer Alec Soth’s St. Paul studio. The LBM team – including Soth and photographers Carrie Thompson, Ethan Jones, Galen Fletcher, writer Brad Zellar, plus a rotation of interns and collaborative partners – invited artists of all kinds to apply for a spot in their week-long Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers. LBM selected a final list of 15 artists and writers from the pool of more than 400 who responded to the call; the international assortment of “campers” gathered in Soth’s studio for the free, five-day workshop this week.

The original call for artists describes the endeavor this way:
Visual storytelling tends to be a lonely business. As such, it attracts more than its share of wallflowers. Here at LBM (home to more than a couple introverts), we thought it would be worthwhile to bring creative loners together to see what we can learn from each other. We’re envisioning a gathering that is more summer camp than classroom. After various daytime outings, we’ll sit around the digital projector and tell each other stories. From there we’ll discuss the ways in which visual stories can be translated into book form.

In a recent email, Soth said the group will spend four days this week in various workshops. On the fifth and final evening, Saturday, July 13, the participants will offer brief, Pecha Kucha-style presentations of their work, at a public event emceed by comedian and writer Brian Beatty at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis. A party will follow, with a cash bar, socializing and dancing to tunes spun by DJ Vu-Vu Zella (aka Brad Zellar).

Participating “campers” include: the LBM team, plus Hans Seeger, Delaney Allen, Horatio Baltz, Jeff Barnett-Winsby, Julian Bleecker, Elaine Bleakney, April Dobbins, Brad Farwell, Adam Forrester, Colin Matthes, Bucky Miller, Diana Rangel, Jim Reed, Caitlin Warner, Tara Wray and Wenxin Zhang.

Photo courtesy of Little Brown Mushroom. Pro tip: The “summer camp” t-shirts pictured on the LBM team above will be available to buy at the event on Saturday, July 13. As far as I know, the RV is not for sale.

I’m telling you – this can’t help but be interesting. Little Brown Mushroom has been publishing such surprising, compelling stuff in recent years. Of particular note is the “LBM Dispatch,” occasional road trip photo and text collaborations by Soth and writer Brad Zellar – tabloid-sized newsprint pieces produced in the style of a small-town newspaper. Thus far, LBM has published five installments: “Ohio,” “Upstate,” “Michigan,” “Three Valleys” and, most recently, “Colorado.” (The pair recently wrote a fabulous piece on the project for Vice magazine, if you’re interested in reading more.)

Little Brown Mushroom’s Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers runs from July 9 through 13. The camp culminates with an event, The Socially Awkward Storytellers’ Slideshow and Dance, on Saturday, July 13 at 7 p.m. at the Soap Factory, 514 Second Street SE, Minneapolis. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.littlebrownmushroom.com."
alecsoth  littlebrownmushroom  2013  camp  conferences  storytelling  writing  photography  bradzellar  slideshows  stories  socialmedia  tarawray  wenxinzhang  serendipity  spontaneity  unschooling  deschooling  education  curriculum  summerinwintercamp  campforsociallyawkwardstorytellers  ephemeral  lcproject  pop-ups  ephemeralinstitutions  ephemerality  hansseeger  delaneyallen  horatiobaltz  jeffbarnett-winsby  julianbleecker  elainebleakney  aprildobbins  bradfarwell  adamforrester  colinmatthes  buckymiller  dianarangel  jimreed  caitlinwarner  creativity  openstudioproject  walkerartcenter  minnesota  books  publishing  selfpublishing  visual  classideas  photobooks  ncmideas  carriethompson  galenfletcher  ethanjones  jasonpollan  projectideas  stpaul  self-publishing  adventure  fun  unconferences  experientialeducation  design  conferenceideas  camps  learning  collaboration  experientiallearning 
25 days ago by robertogreco
Ariella Aïsha Azoulay: Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism (2019) — Monoskop Log
"“A passionately urgent call for all of us to unlearn imperialism and repair the violent world we share

In this theoretical tour-de-force, renowned scholar Ariella Aïsha Azoulay calls on us to recognize the imperial foundations of knowledge and to refuse its strictures and its many violences.

Azoulay argues that the institutions that make our world, from archives and museums to ideas of sovereignty and human rights to history itself, are all dependent on imperial modes of thinking. Imperialism has segmented populations into differentially governed groups, continually emphasized the possibility of progress while it tries to destroy what came before, and voraciously seeks out the new by sealing the past away in dusty archival boxes and the glass vitrines of museums.

By practicing what she calls potential history, Azoulay argues that we can still refuse the original imperial violence that shattered communities, lives, and worlds, from native peoples in the Americas at the moment of conquest to the Congo ruled by Belgium’s brutal King Léopold II, from dispossessed Palestinians in 1948 to displaced refugees in our own day. In Potential History, Azoulay travels alongside historical companions—an old Palestinian man who refused to leave his village in 1948, an anonymous woman in war-ravaged Berlin, looted objects and documents torn from their worlds and now housed in archives and museums—to chart the ways imperialism has sought to order time, space, and politics.

Rather than looking for a new future, Azoulay calls upon us to rewind history and unlearn our imperial rights, to continue to refuse imperial violence by making present what was invented as ‘past’ and making the repair of torn worlds the substance of politics.”

Publisher Verso Books, London, 2019
ISBN 9781788735711, 1788735714
656 pages"
ariellaaïshaazoulay  imperialism  decolonization  books  unlearning  history  2019  via:todrobbins  politics  space  time  palestine  congo  archives  museums  libraries  knowledge  violence  srg  institutions  sovereignty  humanrights  howwethink  progress  destruction  erasure  belgium  kingléopoldii  1948  refugees  unschooling  deschooling 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
k'eguro on Twitter: "(I'll never forget that Canadian Africanist telling a room of Kenyans to write books like the one he had written as though we couldn't possibly have our own interests and methods yes, yes he was)" / Twitter
"(I’ll never forget that Canadian Africanist telling a room of Kenyans to write books like the one he had written

as though we couldn’t possibly have our own interests and methods

yes, yes he was)


(I would love to see more talk about how African scholars create knowledge and innovate methods

Less talk about how African scholarship does not measure up to X or Y standard)


(Why assume scholarship should look or read a particular way?

Also, who gets applauded for writing in nonconventional ways?

Imagine someone claiming you’re a bad thinker because you don’t write sentences in “the approved way”?)


(I can write many different kind of sentences.

Depends on audience and material and mood and what I had to eat and drink.

My water prose does not sound like my cake prose.)"
kaguromacharia  2020  form  writing  howwewrite  africa  kenya  knowledge  knowledgecreation  innovation  scholarship  academia  highered  highereducation  deschooling  unschooling  howwethink  standards  standardization  audience  mood  material  prose  conventions 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Flying Squads | Providing young people with time to practice making their own decisions
"“A city that is really concerned with the needs of its young will make the whole environment accessible to them, because, whether invited to or not, they are going to use the whole environment.” -Colin Ward, The Child in the City

***

Our Program

Flying Squads provide young people with time to practice making their own decisions in a nurturing community of human connections through which they can develop relationships and work on self-confidence with genuine feedback from peers and society.

Unlike school field trips, the Flying Squad does not have a predetermined destination but instead practices the crucial skills of deciding together where to go and how to spend their time. Each day starts in a public space (typically a library) documenting and reflecting on previous time together in a communal journal. The group then sets out into the world to explore common interests as a collective, experimenting on how to build community and deciding how to voice group concerns on the social justice issue of being youth in a city built for adults.

Even in the most caring of school and homeschooling coop spaces, a definitive line is drawn on where children learn and what space and materials are and are not for them. By intentionally not using a learning space or having predetermined tools and materials, Flying Squad participants learn the important value of abolishing these distinctions as the young people involved interact with the world outside on a regular basis, carving out a space for themselves in their city. And as they do so, they learn perhaps one of life’s most important lessons: how to find self-identity while caring for and developing a community with others.

***

A Brief History

Flying Squads started in a library in Brooklyn in the fall of 2018. But the concept behind them began years earlier, when I was working to co-found the junk playground, play:groundNYC, which wonderfully gives children free choice, but still within a confined space.

At the time, I was reading Colin Ward’s gorgeous book, The Child in the City, which discusses how, to truly be free, children must be a part of the city itself. Children need to feel comfortable on their own streets and must be welcomed in public spaces– a concept that no longer exists in today’s modern culture.

And so, I spent a year running a program helping children “get lost” in the city (called Ramble the City), but that too still felt too top-down, dictating where and why children went around to various spaces in the city. Ultimately this led to Flying Squads, a program specifically designed to encourage young people to take back their city and to again be accepted in society as autonomous individuals in a communal space.

Now in our second year, we are thrilled to announce that our project has grown, with Bria and David starting a second community in Portland and Brooklyn starting a third community in Eugene.

—Alexander Khost (what’s my title… Initiator? Provocateur?)

***

Facilitators

Bria Bloom (Portland Flying Squad) grew up unschooled, and now is a passionate advocate for Self-Directed Education and children’s rights. Bria loves to work and play as an SDE facilitator, and has experience doing so from her work in free schools, alternative spaces, and her experience as a parent. She spends her time exploring questions and ideas with young people and adults, supporting young people in whatever way they need, laughing often, and marveling at all of the positive risk-taking, creative thinking, and passion that lives in self-directed communities every day. Bria is also a martial artist and a dancer, a happy Portland cyclist, and a writer. She spends a lot of her time reading and discussing education and parenting ideas with anyone who is interested.

David Jacobo (Portland Flying Squad) is a Self-Directed Education advocate and facilitator. He has a passion for children’s rights, Self-Directed Education, and social justice. He was born in Los Angeles and raised between Oregon and California. A second generation immigrant of Mexican and Guatemalan descent, David and his family moved constantly to find work opportunities until finally landing in Salem. He graduated with a B.S. in Sociology at Portland State University. After working for three years in public schools, David sought to find alternative education styles that focused less on conforming and authority and more on creativity and autonomy. David is an avid photographer and a working musician. He hopes to not only inspire kids but to be inspired by them as well.

Alexander Khost (Brooklyn Flying Squad) is a father and children’s rights advocate. He volunteers running Friends of the Modern School, supporting the history and maintaining current models of anarchistic education. He works with young people at the homeschooling coop, Brooklyn Apple Academy; he is the Editor-in-Chief of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education’s online magazine, Tipping Points; and he is the founder of Voice of the Children, promoting and facilitating art and activism for young people.

He previously founded the Teddy McArdle Free School, a democratic free school in New Jersey, and more recently co-founded play:groundNYC, a junkyard playground for children on Governors Island in New York City.

Brooklyn Wetzel (Eugene Flying Squad) is an adult self-directed learner with a passion for freedom and autonomy. From a young age, she rejected institutional schooling and sought her own path in music promotion, art, and small business. Over the last 5 years, she has facilitated at a democratic school, ran a photo booth business and worked at an indigenous language game development start-up in rural Montana. After moving to Oregon in 2018 she completed the Agile Learning Facilitator training and started work on a community non-profit supporting people in end of life issues. A digital native and idea person, one of her favorite things is to connect people with new resources to explore their passions. Brooklyn has a deep trust in people of all ages to grow and learn to be their best selves without coercion judgment or hierarchical structures."
unschooling  education  adventuredays  flyingsquads  alexkhost  davidjacobo  briabloom  brooklynwetzel  eugene  oregon  portland  brooklyn  nyc  via:derek  openstudioproject  lcproject  cv  self-directed  self-directedlearning  colinward 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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
My So-Karen Life - The New York Times
“All our teachers were Jeans, and the Jeans loved the Karens of course, for their neat, sexy cursive and their indifference to pedagogy. “Why is our state bird the chickadee?” I wanted to know. “Why not the robin, or the blue jay, or the sea gull? Why, in fact, not the mallard duck?”

Karens never asked why we had to memorize all the state birds. They just did it. If Karens were a state, their motto would be “Because.””



“You know how Karens are because we live on Planet Karen.”
patriarchy  sarahmiller  feminism  generations  2019  centrism  selfhood  freedom  happiness  karens  whiteness  pettiness  sameness  bullying  economics  education  pedagogy  unschooling  deschooling  groupthink  brainwashing  injustice  justice  socialjustice  intersectionality  race  racism  gender  power 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Ivan Illich's Late Critique of Deschooling Society: “I Was Largely Barking Up the Wrong Tree” - Bruno‐Jofré - 2012 - Educational Theory - Wiley Online Library
[.pdf: https://www.are.na/block/5605220 ]

"In this article, Rosa Bruno‐Jofré and Jon Igelmo Zaldívar examine Ivan Illich's own critique of Deschooling Society, and his subsequent revised critique of educational institutions and understanding of education, within the context of both his personal intellectual journey and the general epistemological shift that started to take shape in the early 1980s. Bruno‐Jofré and Zaldívar consider how, over time, Illich refocused his quest on examining the roots (origin) of modern certitudes (such as those related to education) and explored how human beings are integrated into the systems generated by those “certainties.” Illich engaged himself in historical analysis rather than providing responses to specific contemporary problems, while maintaining an interest in the relation between the present and the past. Under the metaphors of the word, the page, and the screen, he identified three great mutations in Western social imaginaries and the reconstruction of the individual self. Bruno‐Jofré and Zaldívar argue that while his written work, including Deschooling Society, generally had an apophatic character, his critique of education, particularly in the late 1980s and 1990s, is intertwined with his analysis of the parable of the Good Samaritan and his belief that modernity is an outcome of corrupted Christianity."
ivanillich  2012  deschoolingsociety  rosabruno-jofré  jonigelmozaldívar  education  unschooling  deschooling  certainty  certainties  christianity  goodsamaritan 
10 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 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Grown Unschoolers [GrownUnschoolers.com]
"What's the big idea?
GrownUnschoolers.com is a free website that shares long-form profiles of grown unschoolers, ages 20-99, in their own words.

How do you define "unschooler?"
We think of an “unschooler” as anyone who enjoyed large amounts of autonomy and self-direction as a child, mostly outside of conventional school.

If you attended a highly self-directed school (like a democratic free school), went to community college, or participated in another structured learning environment, we still consider you an unschooler—as long as you were the one making the decision to attend or not.

Why does the world need this website?
People love stories. When parents and young people consider homeschooling, unschooling, and self-directed education centers, they benefit from reading detailed stories of those who have done it before—especially concerning the transition from K-12 into college, career, and general adulthood.

While many stories of grown unschoolers may be found online and in books, a central repository of detailed profiles didn’t exist. That’s why we believe this site needs to exist.

Who's behind this?
Editor-in-Chief: Maya Landers (21-year-old grown unschooler in Austin, Texas)
Consultant & Technical Support: Blake Boles (who originally devised the idea)
How can I get in touch?
Send questions, comments, and glowing praise to grownunschoolers@gmail.com.

If you’d like to get in touch with someone profiled on this site, please compose an email to that person, send it to grownunschoolers@gmail.com, and we will forward it.

How can I find out when new profiles are posted?
Sign up below to receive new profiles via email. An RSS reader also works (old school, but effective)."
unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  self-directedlearning  self-directed 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Spaces of the Learning Self - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
"In the 2015 UNESCO-sponsored policy paper entitled “The Futures of Learning,” notions such as “active learner,” “metacognitive development” and “participatory learning” are abound. The most important, however, seems to be the “personalization” and “customization” of learning, or even “learner-designed learning.” As if copy-pasted from Van der Ryn’s 1969 tract, the advice reads as follows: “With personalized learning, individuals approach problems in their own way, grasp ideas at their own pace, and respond differently to multiple forms of feedback.” Neuroscience research is cited to the effect that instead of preparing “lessons” (so old school), the task of a instructor should be “designing project-based forms of learning.” This proposition rests on the assumption that learners improve better on “core subject matter” and benefit from emphasis on “depth over breadth” when learning in a personalized environment. “Instructional design” is presumed to become the central agency of such infinitely customized collaborative pedagogy. The key instructional designer, however, is going to be the learner herself, equipped with networked hand-held devices: “Future learning processes will inevitably take place in environments in which learners select their own modes of learning and bring personal technologies into education,” thereby dissolving not only any difference between formal and informal learning, but also between inner and outer, psychic and physical spatialities of learning.

This exit from the old systems and architectures of both education and class and enter into mobile learning capsules, however they may be defined, has been a political project and designer’s dream since at least the 1960s. Yet considering Didier Eribon’s self-critical account of class flight into self-organized learning, Ruth Lakofski’s appreciation of the bag lady’s mode of spatializing her “exploring soul,” or Sim Van der Ryn’s proposals for an education revolution based on radical individualism, the vista of “pedagogy 2.0” and lifelong personalization (read: commodification) as is promoted today is truly disheartening. That said, the self still waits to be designed. Improved enclosures for enhanced learning experiences will be proposed, with no end in sight. The paradox of programmed autodidactism and the responsibilization of the neoliberal subject to watchfully manage their own lifelong learning curriculum will stimulate the knowledge industry of instructional design schemes. It might thus be convenient to recall what Ivan Illich, author of the influential 1971 Deschooling Society, self-critically wrote in retrospect when he called for “the reversal of those trends that make of education a pressing need rather than a gift of gratuitous leisure.” Drug-like addiction to education, Illich bemoaned, would make “the world into a universal classroom, a global schoolhouse.” Something surely to be avoided, at all cost."
tomholert  ivanillich  deschooling  unschooling  deschoolingsociety  leisure  education  economics  individualism  californianideology  teachingmachines  edtech  technology  automation  autodidacts  responsibility  neoliberalism  personalization  commodification  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  teaching  simvanderryn  ruthlakofski  didiereribon  self-directed  self-directedlearning  openstudioproject  lcproject  informallearning  formal  networkedlearning  collaboration  collectivism  instructionaldesign  projectbasedlearning  neuroscience  lifelonglearning  michelfoucault  pierrebourdieu  annieernaux  raymondwilliams  chantaljaquet  self-invention  ruthlakosfski  mobile  mobility  cybernetics  1968  1969  anthonyvidler  mikekelley  environment  howardsingerman  autonomy  chrisabel  jerrybrown  california  robertsommer  antfarm  archigram  psychology  participatory  michaelwebb  architecture  design  society  networks  esaleninstitute  unesco  philosophy  educationalphilosophy 
11 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 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Noel Ignatiev’s Long Fight Against Whiteness | The New Yorker
“In the eighties, the economy began to shift. Automation took root, and plants began laying off workers. Contemplating the large, industrial workforces of prior decades, Ignatiev had been able to imagine workers forming councils, seizing the means of production, and deposing their bosses. But, as factories emptied out, he no longer knew where to look. In his forties, he, too, was laid off. He decided to go back to school. A friend from S.T.O. who had been admitted to Harvard’s Graduate School of Education persuaded the administration to admit Ignatiev, despite the fact that he lacked a bachelor’s degree. Ignatiev enrolled, then transferred to the history department, where he worked toward his doctorate.

Ignatiev was now a student at the most prestigious university in the world. But he still believed in creating literary projects unencumbered by the traditional press and its credentialled demands. In 1993, he and his friend John Garvey, a former New York City cab driver whom he’d met on the radical labor circuit, started Race Traitor, a journal with the motto “Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.” John Brown, the white man who led a small militia of black men as they raided an arsenal, at Harpers Ferry, in hopes of sparking an armed slave rebellion, became their lodestar—an example of what it might look like to reject one’s whiteness. Ignatiev and Garvey, who is also an editor at Hard Crackers, called for an “abolition of the white race.” This prompted the expected outrage from right-wingers, who heard a call for extinction, but also upset liberals, who saw them as impractical troublemakers.

In 1995, Ignatiev finished the dissertation that would become “How the Irish Became White.” Not long ago, someone asked him why he had written the book. “The country is divided into masters and slaves,” Ignatiev wrote:
A big political problem is that many of the slaves think they are masters, or at least side with the masters at crucial moments—because they think they are white. I wanted to understand why the Irish, coming from conditions about as bad as could be imagined and thrown into low positions when they arrived, came to side with the oppressor rather than with the oppressed. Imagine how history might have been different had the Irish, the unskilled labor force of the north, and the slaves, the unskilled labor force of the South, been unified. I hoped that understanding why that didn’t happen in the past might open up new possibilities next time.

The book was a hit, by academic standards. Ignatiev now had a powerful platform. But he was also a decade removed from the steel mills, and he was unsure how much a book could really do. Privately, he questioned the value of his new life in the highest reaches of the academy. His on-campus provocations—which included a 1992 incident in which he called for the removal of a kosher toaster oven in a student dormitory—only caused bewilderment among students and administrators.

By 1998, it was time for him to move on. He accepted a post at Bowdoin College, a small school in Maine that mostly catered to white New England prep schoolers. The first class he taught there was a freshman seminar on the making of race; his most adoring student that semester was me, a naïve, vain eighteen-year-old Korean immigrant from North Carolina who desperately wanted to live outside the confines dictated by his race and his own privilege. Ignatiev, with his stories of working in the steel mills, his scorn for credentialled people, and his unwavering belief that a society free from white supremacy was possible, provided a model of a life worth living. I attended all of his office hours, learned to idolize John Brown, and read everything he put in front of me. In my dorm room and in the cafeteria, I talked excitedly to my confused friends about revolutionary politics and abolishing whiteness. At the end of that year, I dropped out and enrolled in Americorps, in hopes of becoming a radical.

I learned, ultimately, that I didn’t have the strength of his convictions. I could never see a new society in my co-workers or, perhaps more importantly, in myself. Even so, I kept looking for traces of what Ignatiev was talking about. There are moments—observing a seemingly small gesture of kindness between two protesters in St. Paul, or noticing the elegant design of the food halls at Standing Rock—when some great possibility seems to reveal itself. When that happens, I think immediately of Ignatiev and his belief in the revolutionary potential of ordinary Americans.

Acouple of months before he died, I drove up to see Ignatiev at his home, in Connecticut. His illness prevented him from swallowing, but he wanted to cook dinner for me in his back yard, where he had fitted a large wok over a rusty propane ring. “Even though I can’t eat anymore, I still find it relaxing to cook,” he told me. As we chopped up the vegetables in a light rain, we talked about all the things we had discussed in his office—John Brown, labor movements, the need to break away from credentialled society. Just as he would a few weeks later, at Freddy’s Bar, he expressed doubt about whether his work had amounted to anything.

I am not so vain as to believe that Noel’s influence on my life provides proof that his work, in fact, made a difference. If his ideas about whiteness and of “white privilege” became fashionable within the academy, they later took on forms he could barely recognize, and oftentimes, despised. He was bewildered by the rise of a style of identity politics that reified the fictions of race and, through its fixation on diversity in élite spaces, abandoned the working class. And as a lifelong radical he took little solace in the rise of a young, insurgent left drawn to the reformist revolution of Democratic Socialism. These movements, I imagine, must have felt like defeats to Ignatiev. We are very far from the abolition of the white race, and there are very few people who believe that changing the minds of five, much less five hundred thousand people, could potentially revolutionize the world.

And yet, from another perspective, there is no political or literary trend—or President—capable of derailing Ignatiev’s true lifelong project. In his writing, and in Race Traitor and Hard Crackers, Ignatiev demonstrated the transformative power of working-class stories. His radicalism was always tethered to specific people, who, in their own ways, inspired sympathy and a desire for connection. That specificity will always be relevant; it may be especially so at a moment of cynical alienation, when identities have become recitations rather than communities. There is enduring power in the narratives he collected and shared—the stories of people he met as a child, in Philadelphia, or in the plants and mills of Chicago, or in his classrooms. My favorite of these stories is included in the introduction to “How the Irish Became White”:
On one occasion, many years ago, I was sitting on my front step when my neighbor came out of the house next door carrying her small child, whom she placed in her automobile. She turned away from him for a moment, and as she started to close the car door, I saw that the child had put his hand where it would be crushed when the door was closed. I shouted to the woman to stop. She halted in mid-motion, and when she realized what she had almost done, an amazing thing happened: she began laughing, then broke into tears and began hitting the child. It was the most intense and dramatic display of conflicting emotions I have ever beheld. My attitude toward the subjects of this study accommodates stresses similar to those I witnessed in that mother.

Sometimes, while walking around gentrifying Brooklyn, I will see young, white progressives talking to the people whom they are displacing. There’s an officiousness—an almost disingenuous toadying—to these interactions that I, with my modern, fashionable prejudices, find a bit funny and gross. Do they believe that the contradictions between their stated politics and their actual lives can be cleansed through ritualistic bonhomie? Or are they just saying an extended goodbye to their temporary neighbors? Ignatiev might have looked at those same conversations and seen people who desperately wanted to be saved from their whiteness. He might have walked by, with a generosity of spirit that I do not possess, and dropped a few leaflets at their feet, filled with enthusiastic, optimistic provocations, and unreasonable demands.”
jaycaspiankang  2019  noelignatiev  irish  history  race  racism  whiteness  marxism  socialconstructions  society  class  radicalism  us  clrjames  work  labor  privilege  whiteprivilege  behavior  expectations  falsehoods  kingsleyclarke  affirmativeaction  sto  johnbrown  johngarvey  credentials  convictions  kindness  democraticsocialism  abolition  abolitionism  organizing  workingclass  cv  classwarfare  radicals  unschooling  deschooling  labormovements  connection  sympathy  alienation 
november 2019 by robertogreco
#AbolitionMeansNoPrisons on Twitter: "When I ask reformers to point me to a historical moment when the systems they want to *redeem* were *intact* and working as they would like, it's always SILENCE because that time never existed... One would think that
"When I ask reformers to point me to a historical moment when the systems they want to *redeem* were *intact* and working as they would like, it's always SILENCE because that time never existed... One would think that this would provide a clue that they aren't to be redeemed."
mariamekaba  abolitionism  prisonabolition  systems  systemsthinking  reform  history  2019  redemption  unschooling  deschooling  dismantling  cv  canon 
november 2019 by robertogreco
How Helsinki Built ‘Book Heaven’ - CityLab
““This progress from one of the poorest countries of Europe to one of the most prosperous has not been an accident. It’s based on this idea that when there are so few of us—only 5.5 million people—everyone has to live up to their full potential,” he said. “Our society is fundamentally dependent on people being able to trust the kindness of strangers.”

That conviction has helped support modern Finland’s emphasis on education and literacy—each Finn takes out more than 15 books a year from the library (10 more than the average American). But Nordic-style social services have not shielded the residents of Finland’s largest city from 21st-century anxieties about climate change, migrants, disruptive technology, and the other forces fueling right-leaning populist movements across Europe. Oodi, which was the product of a 10-year-long public consultation and design process, was conceived in part to resist these fears. “When people are afraid, they focus on short-term selfish solutions,” Laitio said. “They also start looking for scapegoats.”

The central library is built to serve as a kind of citizenship factory, a space for old and new residents to learn about the world, the city, and each other. It’s pointedly sited across from (and at the same level as) the Finnish Parliament House that it shares a public square with.”



“Inside and out, the facility is as handsome as Finnish Modernism fans might expect, and it has proved to be absurdly popular: About 10,000 patrons stop by every day, on average (it’s open until 10 p.m.), and Oodi just hit 3 million visitors this year—“a lot for a city of 650,000,” Laitio said. In its very first month, 420,000 Helsinki residents—almost two-thirds of the population—went to the library. Some may only have been skateboarders coming in to use the bathroom, but that’s fine: The library has a “commitment to openness and welcoming without judgement,” he said. “It’s probably the most diverse place in our city, in many ways.””

[via: https://kottke.org/19/11/helsinkis-has-a-library-to-learn-about-the-world-the-city-and-each-other ]

[See also:
https://www.archdaily.com/907675/oodi-helsinki-central-library-ala-architects?ad_medium=gallery ]
helsinki  finland  libraries  citizenship  books  architecture  reading  community  communityspaces  democracy  openness  diversity  2019  design  oodi  literacy  progress  history  civics  society  lcproject  openstudioproject  learning  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  publicspaces  judgement  freedom  inclusion  inclusivity  purpose  fear  populism 
november 2019 by robertogreco
against lectures – Snakes and Ladders
"At the very heart of the academy we find a series of genres — discursive genres, which are also genres of social interaction — the mastery of which constitutes, more or less, mastery of the academic profession itself. Some of these are universal: that is, they may be found in all academic work. Others are specific to certain disciplines or disciplinary families. Some of them are performed in relation to colleagues, others in relation to students. Here are a few that I, as a professor of humanities, have had to practice:

- the classroom lecture
- the “job talk” lecture
- the invited public lecture
- the short lecture that you give when you’re on a panel at a conference
- the conference-panel discussion
- the “Socratic” seminar discussion
- the symposium based on a paper everyone is supposed to have read
- the peer-reviewed article
- the book review
- the peer-reviewed monograph

Some of these wear, over several decades, better than others. Some I will probably never do again (the peer-reviewed article, the job talk); others I will be doing to the end of my career (the classroom discussion, the monograph). Some I enjoy, some … not so much.

But I have one definitive and unshakeable opinion: I never want to hear, or deliver, another lecture as long as I live.

For one thing, lectures are very, very hard to do well. I’ve surely heard more than a hundred public or semi-public lectures in my life, and only one of them has been excellent: when I was a grad student at UVA I heard Stephen Greenblatt deliver a lecture that later became his famous essay “Shakespeare and the Exorcists,” and it was electrifying. (I was sitting next to one of my professors, and at the end of the talk he leaned over and said to me, sotto voce, “Do you still have your wallet?”) Otherwise they have been not-crushingly-boring at best. And while I work hard to make my lectures vivid and interesting, I am always aware that there are better ways to accomplish what the lecture is supposed to accomplish.

The lecture is an unfortunate holdover from the pre-Gutenberg age. It makes no sense to have me come and talk to you on a subject in circumstances in which I could write something, send it to you, and have you read it and think about it, after which you could bring me to your institution for a conversation. That would be more intellectually productive for everyone concerned. Of course, one might reply that a lecture is not as polished as a finished, publishable essay or article. Indeed: that’s a major reason why lectures aren’t much fun to listen to. Better to embrace the tentative and unfinished character of your thoughts by having a conversation about them instead.

It is true that fewer people can participate in such a conversation than can attend a lecture. But note the difference between “participate” and “attend.” Certain kinds of intellectual exchange simply do not scale. I truly believe that if, instead of asking me to deliver a lecture at your institution, you asked me to come prepared to talk with four different groups about my published work, or even my work-in-progress, the experience would be better for all of us. (And I would be much more likely to say yes, since I wouldn’t be committing myself to all those hours of lecture-writing — a problem for me, because my conscience won’t allow me to deliver the same lecture repeatedly at different places.)

Well, one can hope. Or lose hope. But this I am sure of: When I am lying on my deathbed, I shall heave a breath and whisper to whoever is near, “Thank you, Lord. I shall never have to attend, or deliver, another lecture.”"
alanjacobs  lectures  teaching  academia  conversation  2019  howweteach  howwelearn  print  writing  whywewrite  highered  highereducation  unschooling  deschooling  change  tradition  buckingtradition 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Eleanor Saitta on Twitter: "As technology is deployed at scale and becomes infrastructure, its governance ceases to be engineering or design and becomes (geo)politics." / Twitter
“As technology is deployed at scale and becomes infrastructure, its governance ceases to be engineering or design and becomes (geo)politics.

There are no large technology companies, only non-state actors currently only partially hostile to the goals of the population whose lives they have captured.

This is not a singular accident of the companies we have, but rather a necessary consequence of the programmability of infrastructure enabling scale to convert into social control and a doctrine of continual growth.

The scale of capital involved has bent the entire industry around it. Working at a small company may let you avoid contributing to the problem directly, but programmable infrastructure gains power and scale via interoperability.

As an engineer, a designer, a recruiter, a management coach, a consultant, the geopolitical goals of singular entities will define your work and its meaning.

When infrastructure metastisizes and becomes malignant toward the societies that host it, even maintenance work on functions critical for social continuity becomes in part capitulation and collaboration.

This problem will continue to accelerate until a new model for programmable infrastructure manages to constrain or fight off this current one, or society is unable to sustain programmability.

One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned over the past decade is the degree to which the political intent imbued into infrastrucutral systems maintains its meaning and function over time, even if added layers change the meaning of the conjoined system.

As a worker within these systems, your efforts at work must pay the maintenance penalty for the infrastructural system you sit within; this is balanced by the natural force multiplication of infrastructures of control. Outside work, you don’t have the same tools.

However, even if you work to resist the structural damage of the system you sit inside of, you’re still very likely to see the world from inside the same mental frame — of growth, of control, of “technology” as an end rather than a means.

Even if you can shift your thinking from the mindset of “technology at scale as power over” to “technology as formless servant of a community” — or whatever model you choose — you’ll be stuck with tools that want to create parasitic empires.

I don’t know what the mental model we want is. Some properties seem obvious, though — conviviality, power-to instead of power-over, an inherent orientation toward community, governance blended throughout the stack, a bias toward balance not growth, maintenance-centricity.

The challenges of reimagining our world, our professions, and our systems will consume the rest of our lives on earth; we sit at the culmination of generations of power grabs, and this is only the newest.

On the bright side, there is no larger challenge available, no more interesting and rewarding problem one could work on. This is a future as rich, complex, varied, and broad as any other one you’ve been offered.

And if it fails, well, there will always be another billionaire happy to pay you to help him more efficiently dismantle the society you used to call home.

There are other things we can do even without a new model, though — making the current model of exponential growth and metastic control nonviable is also useful. We need a new vision and a new world, but we also need resistance now.

Refuse to work on dangerous products. Unionize and fight for more control over your own work. Work for regulation that makes user data financially poisonous, that enshrines rights to privacy, self-determination, adversarial interoperability, and repair.

Over the next few decades, we will either learn to collectively manage global systems for the common good, learn to weaponize them for the good of a very small elite, or cease to have a globally-organized civilization.

There is only one fully-connected struggle here, and if we succeed, we will do so in the way we always have — piecemeal, half-assed, squeaking by, more bricolage than grand planning, but profoundly human.

Learn your history, and practice hope. History will teach you how little is novel about our position now, and training the muscle of hope will keep you going through all the dark nights we have to come.“
eleanorsaitta  technology  infrastructure  systems  systemsthinking  systemschange  conviviality  2019  society  power  civilization  governance  unions  organizing  labor  capital  utopia  history  vision  canon  interoperability  time  generations  maintenance  community  control  layering  layers  scale  growth  socialcontrol  deschooling  unschooling  capitulation  geopolitics  politics  policy  local  programmability 
october 2019 by robertogreco
English | シューレ大学 Shure University
"About Shure University
Shure Tokyo is the parent organization of Shure University, an NPO founded by students it in 1999 who wanted to continue their education.

No qualifications necessary
Anyone who is 18 or older that wants to learn and express themselves is welcome to join, and there are no GPA or otherwise academic-based matriculation requirements. However, because Shure University not an accredited university as recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Education, students are unable to obtain a bona fide diploma.

No pre-defined curriculum
There is no academic credit system, and students are not required to take compulsory courses. Each student chooses which days to attend school, and how many years he or she wants to attend. The students can thereby discover their deep passions by taking a variety of classes and activities in whatever subjects interest them. While there are many students who attend classes at the Shure University campus, there are also students who attend classes remotely via email, telephone, and Internet teleconferencing utilities like Skype.

Reaching out to others, slowly
There are approx. 40 students total at Shure University, and almost all have experienced episodes with previous school truancy or seclusion from society (hikikomori). However, since the desire to connect with other people remains, students strive to make friends and maintain relations.

Personal Courses and Group Projects
There are many unique courses available at Shure including: Alternative Education, Academic History, School Truancy, Family Discourse, Life Discourse, Cultural History, Politics and Economics, World History, Research Seminar, Creating Your Own Way of Life, Literary Discussion, Pop Music, Computer Science, Tokyo Cultural Activities, Live Theater, Modern and Fine Arts, as well as language classes such as English and Korean. A number of project -based classes are available as well including: Film, Drama, Solar Powered Cars (how to build and race), as well as Music.

Consulting with an Advisor
Meet with an advisor twice a year to develop and revise your academic plans at Shure. If you need to, you can also meet with an advisor at any time in between the bi-annual meetings.

Receive Counsel from Guest Lecturers as well as Compelling Advisors
Serizawa Shunsuke, Hirata Oriza, Shin Sugo, Hau Yasuo, Ozawa Makiko, Ueno Chizuko are just a few among approximately 50 advisors that you can choose from after deciding which lectures, courses, and workshops to attend.

Creating your own way of life
Most people in Japanese society assume that everybody graduates high school or university and then get jobs and become adults who thrive and engage in society. However, this way is not the only way to grow up.

Changing yourself to match society’s expectations is only one way to live. Another way is to create your own values through your own interests and experiences for the purpose of suiting your own lifestyle. How do you want to work? How do you want to spend your time? How do you want to build relationships with others? Students here try to create their own values with other students, staff members, advisers and other friends of Shure University.

Contact
Address: 28-27, Wakamatsu-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan (Google Map)
Tel: (+81)3-5155-9801
Fax: (+81)3-5155-9802
Mail: univ@shure.or.jp"
japan  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  tokyo  unschooling  deschooling  slow  slowpedagogy  srg 
september 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
College students think they learn less with an effective teaching method | Ars Technica
"One of the things that's amenable to scientific study is how we communicate information about science. Science education should, in theory at least, produce a scientifically literate public and prepare those most interested in the topic for advanced studies in their chosen field. That clearly hasn't worked out, so people have subjected science education itself to the scientific method.

What they've found is that an approach called active learning (also called active instruction) consistently produces the best results. This involves pushing students to work through problems and reason things out as an inherent part of the learning process.

Even though the science on that is clear, most college professors have remained committed to approaching class time as a lecture. In fact, a large number of instructors who try active learning end up going back to the standard lecture, and one of the reasons they cite is that the students prefer it that way. This sounds a bit like excuse making, so a group of instructors decided to test this belief using physics students. And it turns out professors weren't making an excuse. Even as understanding improved with active learning, the students felt they got more out of a traditional lecture."

...

"Explanations abound
So why is an extremely effective way of teaching so unpopular? The researchers come up with a number of potential explanations. One is simply that active learning is hard. "Students in the actively taught groups had to struggle with their peers through difficult physics problems that they initially did not know how to solve," the authors acknowledge. That's a big contrast with the standard lecture which, being the standard, is familiar to the students. A talented instructor can also make their lecture material feel like it's a straight-forward, coherent packet of information. This can lead students to over-rate their familiarity with the topic.

The other issue the authors suggest may be going on here is conceptually similar to the Dunning-Kruger effect, where people who don't understand a topic are unable to accurately evaluate how much they knew. Consistent with this, the researchers identified the students with the strongest backgrounds in physics, finding that they tended to be more accurate in assessing what they got out of each class.

Whatever the cause, it's not ideal to have students dislike the most effective method of teaching them. So, the authors suggest that professors who are considering adopting active learning take the time to prepare a little lecture on it. The researchers prepared one that described the active learning process and provided some evidence of its effectiveness. The introduction acknowledged the evidence described above—namely, that the students might not feel like they were getting as much out of the class.

In part thanks to this short addition to the class, by the end of the semester, 65% of the students reported feeling positive toward active learning. That's still not exactly overwhelming enthusiasm, but it might be enough to keep instructors from giving up on an extremely effective teaching technique."
learning  perception  education  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  deschooling  unschooling  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  cv  stem  lectures  activelearning  2019  science  participatory  participation  conversation  progressive 
september 2019 by robertogreco
Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom | PNAS
"Despite active learning being recognized as a superior method of instruction in the classroom, a major recent survey found that most college STEM instructors still choose traditional teaching methods. This article addresses the long-standing question of why students and faculty remain resistant to active learning. Comparing passive lectures with active learning using a randomized experimental approach and identical course materials, we find that students in the active classroom learn more, but they feel like they learn less. We show that this negative correlation is caused in part by the increased cognitive effort required during active learning. Faculty who adopt active learning are encouraged to intervene and address this misperception, and we describe a successful example of such an intervention."
learning  perception  education  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  deschooling  unschooling  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  cv  stem  lectures  activelearning  2019  science  participatory  participation  conversation  progressive 
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
BMCM+AC Bookstore on Instagram: “The one idea most commonly agreed upon was that “living” and “learning” should be intertwined. Education should proceed everywhere, not…”
The one idea most commonly agreed upon was that “living” and “learning” should be intertwined. Education should proceed everywhere, not only in classroom settings—which in fact, at least as usually structured, are among the worst learning environments imaginable. A favorite slogan at Black Mountain was that “as much real education takes place over the coffee cups as in the classrooms.”⁠⠀
-Martin Duberman in "Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community"⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Photo: Professor Charles Lindsley teaches a chemistry class on the lawn of the Blue Ridge Assembly. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives/State Archives of North Carolina
blackmountaincollege  bmc  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  unschooling  life  living  howwelearn  howweteach  experience  experientiallearning  classrooms  martinduberman 
september 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
Sarah Marshall on Twitter: "I think a lot abt how boomers are alarmed by what they see as millennial inactivity--our rented rooms, lack of purchases, houseplant children--& how their lives were often abt doing BIG things for their BIG careers w/o thinking
“I think a lot abt how boomers are alarmed by what they see as millennial inactivity–our rented rooms, lack of purchases, houseplant children--& how their lives were often abt doing BIG things for their BIG careers w/o thinking abt the consequences. We live in the consequences.

It’s like swooping through a big buffet, loading your plate, and then wondering why ppl in the next group are just eating rolls? And trying to take rolls out to the parking lot to give to the people out there who can’t get into the buffet? What’s happening??

And you, with your tummy full of chicken a la king, go through a range of emotions. Should I question the idea that I could take as much as I want because I thought there would always be plenty? Should I accept that there were things I didn’t understand then?

I’ve also been thinking a lot, lately, about how hostility often arises when we feel our vulnerability. The ego tenses to protect us from self-insight. & at the boomer/millennial buffet it appears as: why are you being such a self-righteous baby, HAVE STEAK. (There is no steak)

I find it most interesting when boomer ire is raised by the littleness of our lives. We want quiet things, we want to be peaceful, we want to adopt old dogs instead of having children. The inability to let people be when they quietly abstain for your way of life is so telling.

Because what if you really wanted to live in a room in a house with your friends and have an old dog and some plants and never amass debt or be the hero of anything and then quietly die? But you thought you couldn’t??

(I realize a lot of you have kids or want them, we’re sort of talking about my dreams now)

This is also why STONER is secretly a millennial novel: it’s about achieving the great dream of dying quietly without ruining anyone’s life by living yours”
slow  small  life  living  generations  2019  unschooling  deschooling  suceess  debt  children  sarahmarshall 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Why books don’t work | Andy Matuschak
"Books are easy to take for granted. Not any specific book, I mean: the form of a book. Paper or pixels—it hardly matters. Words in lines on pages in chapters. And at least for non-fiction books, one implied assumption at the foundation: people absorb knowledge by reading sentences. This last idea so invisibly defines the medium that it’s hard not to take for granted, which is a shame because, as we’ll see, it’s quite mistaken.

Picture some serious non-fiction tomes. The Selfish Gene; Thinking, Fast and Slow; Guns, Germs, and Steel; etc. Have you ever had a book like this—one you’d read—come up in conversation, only to discover that you’d absorbed what amounts to a few sentences? I’ll be honest: it happens to me regularly. Often things go well at first. I’ll feel I can sketch the basic claims, paint the surface; but when someone asks a basic probing question, the edifice instantly collapses. Sometimes it’s a memory issue: I simply can’t recall the relevant details. But just as often, as I grasp about, I’ll realize I had never really understood the idea in question, though I’d certainly thought I understood when I read the book. Indeed, I’ll realize that I had barely noticed how little I’d absorbed until that very moment.

I know I’m not alone here. When I share this observation with others—even others, like myself, who take learning seriously—it seems that everyone has had a similar experience. The conversation often feels confessional: there’s some bashfulness, almost as if these lapses reveal some unusual character flaw. I don’t think it’s a character flaw, but whatever it is, it’s certainly not unusual. In fact, I suspect this is the default experience for most readers. The situation only feels embarrassing because it’s hard to see how common it is.

Now, the books I named aren’t small investments. Each takes around 6–9 hours to read. Adult American college graduates read 24 minutes a day on average, so a typical reader might spend much of a month with one of these books. Millions of people have read each of these books, so that’s tens of millions of hours spent. In exchange for all that time, how much knowledge was absorbed? How many people absorbed most of the knowledge the author intended to convey? Or even just what they intended to acquire? I suspect it’s a small minority Unfortunately, my literature reviews have turned up no formal studies of this question, so I can only appeal to your intuition..

I’m not suggesting that all those hours were wasted. Many readers enjoyed reading those books. That’s wonderful! Certainly most readers absorbed something, however ineffable: points of view, ways of thinking, norms, inspiration, and so on. Indeed, for many books (and in particular most fiction), these effects are the point.

This essay is not about that kind of book. It’s about explanatory non-fiction like the books I mentioned above, which aim to convey detailed knowledge. Some people may have read Thinking, Fast and Slow for entertainment value, but in exchange for their tens of millions of collective hours, I suspect many readers—or maybe even most readers—expected to walk away with more. Why else would we feel so startled when we notice how little we’ve absorbed from something we’ve read?

All this suggests a peculiar conclusion: as a medium, books are surprisingly bad at conveying knowledge, and readers mostly don’t realize it.

The conclusion is peculiar, in part, because books are shockingly powerful knowledge-carrying artifacts! In the Cosmos episode, “The Persistence of Memory,” Carl Sagan exalts:

What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
Indeed: books are magical! Human progress in the era of mass communication makes clear that some readers really do absorb deep knowledge from books, at least some of the time. So why do books seem to work for some people sometimes? Why does the medium fail when it fails?

In these brief notes, we’ll explore why books so often don’t work, and why they succeed when they do.Let’s get it out of the way: I’m aware of the irony here, using the written medium to critique the written medium! But if the ideas I describe here prove successful, then future notes on this subject won’t have that problem. This note is mere kindling, and I’ll be very happy if it’s fully consumed by the blaze it ignites. Armed with that understanding, we’ll glimpse not only how we might improve books as a medium, but also how we might weave unfamiliar new forms—not from paper, and not from pixels, but from insights about human cognition."



"Why lectures don’t work"



"Why books don’t work"



"What about textbooks?"



"What to do about it

How might we make books actually work reliably? At this point, the slope before us might feel awfully steep. Some early footholds might be visible—a few possible improvements to books, or tools one might make to assist readers—but it’s not at all clear how to reach the summit. In the face of such a puzzle, it’s worth asking: are we climbing the right hill? Why are we climbing this particular hill at all?

I argued earlier that books, as a medium, weren’t built around any explicit model of how people learn. It’s possible that, in spite of this “original sin,” iterative improvements to the form, along with new tools to support readers, can make books much more reliable. But it’s also possible that we’ll never discover the insights we need while tethered to the patterns of thought implicit in this medium.

Instead, I propose: we don’t necessarily have to make books work. We can make new forms instead. This doesn’t have to mean abandoning narrative prose; it doesn’t even necessarily mean abandoning paper—rather, we can free our thinking by abandoning our preconceptions of what a book is. Maybe once we’ve done all this, we’ll have arrived at something which does indeed look much like a book. We’ll have found a gentle path around the back of that intimidating slope. Or maybe we’ll end up in different terrain altogether.

So let’s reframe the question. Rather than “how might we make books actually work reliably,” we can ask: How might we design mediums which do the job of a non-fiction book—but which actually work reliably?

I’m afraid that’s a research question—probably for several lifetimes of research—not something I can directly answer in these brief notes. But I believe it’s possible, and I’ll now try to share why.

To begin, it’s important to see that mediums can be designed, not just inherited. What’s more: it is possible to design new mediums which embody specific ideas. Inventors have long drawn on this unintuitive insightSee e.g. Douglas Engelbart’s 1962 “Augmenting Human Intellect” for a classic primary source or Michael Nielsen’s 2016 “Thought as a Technology” for a synthesis of much work in this space., but I’ll briefly review it in case it’s unfamiliar. Mathematical proofs are a medium; the step-by-step structure embodies powerful ideas about formal logic. Snapchat Stories are a medium; the ephemerality embodies powerful ideas about emotion and identity. The World Wide Web is a medium (or perhaps many mediums); the pervasive hyperlinks embody powerful ideas about the associative nature of knowledge.

Perhaps most remarkably, the powerful ideas are often invisible: it’s not like we generally think about cognition when we sprinkle a blog post with links. But the people who created the Web were thinking about cognition. They designed its building blocks so that the natural way of reading and writing in this medium would reflect the powerful ideas they had in mind. Shaped intentionally or not, each medium’s fundamental materials and constraints give it a “grain” which make it bend naturally in some directions and not in others.

This “grain” is what drives me when I gripe that books lack a functioning cognitive model. It’s not just that it’s possible to create a medium informed by certain ideas in cognitive science. Rather, it’s possible to weave a medium made out of those ideas, in which a reader’s thoughts and actions are inexorably—perhaps even invisibly—shaped by those ideas. Mathematical proofs, as a medium, don’t just consider ideas about logic; we don’t attach ideas about logic to proofs. The form is made out of ideas about logic.

How might we design a medium so that its “grain” bends in line with how people think and learn? So that by simply engaging with an author’s work in the medium—engaging in the obvious fashion; engaging in this medium’s equivalent of books’ “read all the words on the first page, then repeat with the next, and so on”—one would automatically do what’s necessary to understand? So that, in some deep way, the default actions and patterns of thought when engaging with this medium are the same thing as “what’s necessary to understand”?

That’s a tall order. Even on a theoretical level, it’s not clear what’s necessary for understanding. Indeed, that framing’s too narrow: there are many paths to understanding a topic. But cognitive scientists and educators have mapped some parts of this space, and they’ve distilled some powerful ideas we can use as a starting point.

For example, people struggle to absorb new material when their working memory is already overloaded. More concretely: if you’ve just been introduced to a zoo of new terms, you … [more]
books  learning  howwelearn  text  textbooks  andymatuschak  2019  canon  memory  understanding  lectures  cognition  cognitivescience  web  internet  howweread  howwewrite  reading  writing  comprehension  workingmemory  michaelnielsen  quantumcountry  education  unschooling  deschooling 
june 2019 by robertogreco
THE THINKBELT: THE UNIVERSITY THAT NEVER WAS | Discover Society
"In this commentary, I revisit an article from New Society which evokes a moment in the development of British higher education in the post-war period but also, I argue, could still illuminate thinking on debates about the roles and responsibilities of universities within their wider social settings. The Potteries Thinkbelt piece, published in 1966, proposes an unbuilt project that today serves as a parable of what higher education did not become, of a path not taken. To contemporary eyes, aspects of the Thinkbelt proposal may seem fantastical; yet, if we can enable what Coleridge named ‘that willing suspension of disbelief’, it could offer us lessons about the relationship between universities and the cities or regions that host them.

The author of the Thinkbelt was Cedric Price, an architect with relatively few realized projects but who, through his teaching roles, writings and published drawings, has nonetheless exerted a deep influence on how leading members of a generation of architects think about architecture, and how their buildings sit within their wider social settings. In the Thinkbelt, Price outlined an ambitious project for a centre of higher education amongst the coal fields of Staffordshire. These pits originally served ceramics factories throughout the region but, by the early 1960s, had fallen into disuse – de-industrialisation came early to the Potteries. The landscape Price wished to regenerate spanned approximately 100 square miles, was triangular in shape, and stretched from Pitts Hill in the North, Madeley at its Western point and Meir to the East, with Stoke and Newcastle-Under-Lyme located at its heart.

The Thinkbelt would connect to outside rail, road and air networks via transfer areas at the points of the triangle. Industrial units at these points offered campus sites that could be reconfigured according to differing uses – so, in addition to public learning spaces, these units would also offer accommodation for visiting students and staff. The transfer sites would be connected together by continuously running railbuses using the disused railway network that previously had connected the pits with the potteries; Price was interested in enhancing the efficacy of the already there. Furthermore, the railbuses themselves could be reconfigured as learning spaces so that teaching might be carried out en route, with fold-out deck units offering more space for larger lectures and talks.

Price envisaged the Thinkbelt as offering education for 20,000 students, following mostly applied curricula in engineering and science subjects. Indeed, the Thinkbelt was an industrial undertaking in large part; its remit included working with regional industries as research and design centres, as well as offering re-training in new industries for local residents whose work in the pits and potteries had disappeared. The Thinkbelt was designed for 20,000 students, but with provision for 40,000 residential units that were flexible in form and adaptable to possible relocation and aggregation; Price wished to see student housing combined with local council tenancies. The four different forms of residential units were crudely named as sprawl, capsule, crate and battery housing, using terminology specifically intended to irritate professional designers.

The Thinkbelt rejected previous and contemporaneous ideas about appropriate university architecture, with Price’s aesthetic citing industrial forms such as the container, rather than what he perceived to be the pretensions of twentieth century university buildings. Typically, he viewed contemporaneous campus designs as aspiring to the medieval form of the castle (ivory towers included), making defensive spaces removed from the rest of their towns. Price made a virtue of his avoidance of the design principles that characterised the university movement in both pre-war and post-war periods. ‘While students’, he wrote in 1970, ‘are at present one of the most mobile social groups of technologically advanced societies the nature of their own particular production plants – schools, colleges and universities, is static, intro-spective, parochial, inflexible and not very useful’ (1).

If Price cared little for university architecture, he cared even less for the principles of university education, taking care to avoid the use of the word in his scheme. Certainly his scheme for such a large cohort of students by contemporaneous standards worked against the exclusivity typical of the sector at that time; his preference for science and engineering spoke to the idea that education should be seen as serving wider societal uses, rather than purely for the fulfilment of individuals from elite social groupings. The Thinkbelt sought to correct an imbalance in the esteem paid to ‘applied’ rather than ‘pure’ knowledge, through an architecture which was functional, flexible and impermanent rather than ornamental, fixed in purpose and inert.

The Thinkbelt was to be a site of learning premised on patterns of mobility, at individual, collective and even infrastructural scales. This mobility, embedded within the physical buildings themselves, spoke to a wider understanding of the word in debates about meritocracy and the opening out of higher education to a part of the population hitherto under-represented. Price’s project was far-sighted in its emphasis on flexibility within the curriculum, planning for access through life-long and part-time learning and hence alive to the needs of student groups that, as Paul Stanistreet has suggested, are often overlooked in contemporary debates. Certainly the Thinkbelt anticipates debates about whom and what higher education is for, pre-dating current arguments about the value of a university degree in terms of the ‘employability’ agenda for the individual learner and the value of an educated workforce for national industries. Price’s analysis of the social value of higher education more generally is incisive; towards the conclusion of the New Society piece he makes the case for student loans to become salaries, arguing that where ‘people are doing a job society wants them to do, they must be paid for it’.

Moreover, the Thinkbelt prompts consideration of the disjuncture that can arise between the places where we work and where we live. The combination of student residences with local council tenancies sought to integrate the student experience with that of the wider population, disrupting preconceived ideas about the housing of students on campus accommodation away from residents of the towns and cities that give universities their names. Indeed, the Thinkbelt was written in the shadow of early tensions, noted in the article itself, between managers and students at Keele, and the University’s apparent disregard for the surrounding region. In this magazine, Mary Stuart has questioned how alive universities are to their civic missions – the Thinkbelt, for all its hypothetical aspects, gives us a benchmark for thinking through such issues. Are our universities supplementary to the cities and regions that give them their names and that sustain them economically? How do academics and students engage with each other? And how do we interact with our neighbouring populations?

The Thinkbelt is an experiment in conceiving of a different type of learning environment; think about the dynamics of a lecture in a moving rail carriage, and how it might bring staff and students into contact in a way that we can all too easily avoid in the stratified spaces we build into our campus lives. The Thinkbelt is premised on a different social and political settlement for higher education to that which we labour under today; in its own time, it did not attract the attention of policy makers, falling as it did by the margins of planning for the University of the Air – later to become the Open University. Yet its focus on place remains of interest. In returning to the Thinkbelt here, my argument is not that Price’s proposal offers us answers to our debates about the public role of universities today – there are too many questions around the complexities of academic freedom, architectural design and political context to claim that. Nonetheless, as Samantha Hardingham reflects, ‘if there is a use for presenting this material again, here and now, it may be to ask whether we are looking at something we already know, or looking for something we still cannot see yet’ (2).

Whether Price’s proposal can offer clues about a future we cannot yet see is interesting for a number of reasons, not least in raising the question of why we find it difficult to imagine our futures in quite the same ways, with quite the same optimism as he did. At the beginning of this commentary, I suggested that adopting a ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ might be useful in approaching the Thinkbelt; for Coleridge, the suspension of disbelief is necessary to enable what he understood as ‘poetic faith’. Poetry and faith – it strikes me that these are qualities too often missing from thinking about higher education, and its planning; by these I mean a belief in the potential of universities to actively shape socially just economies and societies (rather than accelerating the reproduction of inequalities, as Stephen McKay and Karen Rowlingson argue), and the lyrical licence to imagine how they might do this."
darylmartin  2014  thinkbelt  cedricprice  universities  colleges  highered  highereducation  architecture  education  rail  transportation  unschooling  deschooling  cities  urban  urbanism  disbelief  transcontextualism  transcontextualization 
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
Opinion | How High School Ruined Leisure - The New York Times
"Summer is coming.

The season for school sports and activities is ending. For most high school seniors, it’s not just the season — it is, in some weird sense, their “career.” As a hockey, soccer, lacrosse player. A violinist, a debater, a singer in the a cappella choir. Unless they have professional aspirations or college commitments, whatever they’ve done outside of school — and for many kids, that thing has become a core piece of their identities — is shifting into a different gear.

It’s no longer going to help get them into college. They won’t step up to a better chair or make varsity. The conveyor belt of achievement has reached its end.

Now all that remains are the kinds of questions everyone comes to eventually: Do you still do your thing — whatever your thing is — when no one is watching? What do you do when it doesn’t matter any more?

“I’ve recently had to come to the realization that I won’t have a next year to prepare for as a member of this team,” said Sawyer Michaelson, a tennis player and senior at Southwest High School in Minneapolis. “This is the first time I haven’t had a future to look forward to. I hope to play tennis in college, but things aren’t set in stone like they were for me in high school.” This, he said, is “unnerving.”

“This is a real moment for a lot of kids,” said Christine VanDeVelde, an author of “College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step.” “For some, who’ve had adults guide them all their lives, they don’t know what they want or what they like or what motivates them. For others, who’ve been competent or successful at a lot of things, it can be hard to know which one sustains them.”

In many ways, that challenge is amped up by the rigorous approach teenagers are encouraged to take to what used to be seen as hobbies, done outside of school and on a student’s own time. (Thus the term “extracurriculars.”) As the sports and activities kids once did “just for fun” sometimes led to prestigious academic opportunities, the grown-ups caught on and took over, and everything from baseball to math modeling was commercialized and turned into a means to an end.

The message was clear: These activities were important. What they weren’t was optional, at least beyond the initial decision to sign up. The season was mapped out, the schedule on the fridge.

It’s that structure that makes this shift more than just a standard rite of passage for new graduates. Teachers, coaches and parents strive to give students the best experiences in competing, performing or creating, but the more professionalized the process becomes, the more difficult it can be to return to an amateur approach. When your artwork has been given the gallery treatment and your entry into the final game was marked by fireworks and a sound system worthy of the Super Bowl, painting for yourself or playing a pickup game in the park might feel pointless.

Add in the college admission process, and even the most passionate teenagers say they feel as if things have reached an end rather than a turning point.

“There is definitely this sense that you are putting work into activities so you can get some sort of payback — admission to a top college — and afterward, your work is done,” said Ella Biehn, a senior and a songwriter and guitarist at DeKalb School of the Arts near Atlanta. She plans to keep performing in college, majoring in vocal music, and yet, “In a lot of cases I feel like a spent battery.”

Ironically, in placing so much value on activities that our children came to out of love or interest, we grown-ups replaced the intrinsic motivations we often claim to value with extrinsic ones. When you’ve been taught that every action has a purpose, it’s harder to find meaning in just doing something you enjoy, and much more difficult to persuade yourself to do it.

And so, with an anticlimactic awards ceremony and a round of applause and tears, we welcome our former student athletes and artists into the real world, where art and sport beckon alluringly in other people’s Instagram feeds, but leisure itself — the act of engaging in something merely because we enjoy it — is not much valued. The opportunities are there, but the will to take advantage of them, to make choices for reasons other than profit or productivity, has to be yours.

Maybe this is the most important lesson our new graduates can learn. “This is part of the human experience,” said Susan Avery, a college counselor at Harvest Collegiate High School in Manhattan. “These kids have spent 17 years listening to adults. Now they have to learn to listen to themselves.”

Ms. Avery’s daughter, a dedicated pre-med student who never pursued the arts in high school, signed up for theater club for fun at a freshman fair in college and will soon be graduating as a theater major. “When she first mentioned it, I was like, ‘Do it!’” Ms. Avery said. “‘I like it, I want to try it’ — that’s a good reason.”

The secret of adulthood, the one those high school seniors don’t know but soon will, is that there are some questions we never really resolve. Do you still do your thing — whatever your thing is — when no one is watching? Both the magic of that question and its existential angst lie in the freedom it presents. Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t.

It really only matters — really only has to matter — to you."
highschool  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  education  parenting  kjdell’antonia  sports  leisure  artleisure  leisurearts  colleges  universities  admissions  performance  performative  music  art  arts  experience  life  living  adulthood  purpose  fun  play  freedom 
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
"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
The Pedagogy of Design in the Age of Computation: Panel Discussion - YouTube
“I wish y’all could teach designers without using any Adobe products.” —@tchoi8 (9:11)

“Michael Rock, would say that ideally the things that you are learning in a school setting should stick with you […] throughout your entire career. […] I think critical thinking, historical references, […] space, time, community — that’s much more valuable.” —@mind_seu (12:48)

In response to “Can you teach curiosity?” @mind_seu: “…this sinking feeling that the more that I learn, the less that I know. On the one hand, it’s exciting & it makes you more curious to go into this worm holes, but on the other side it brings you into this state of insecurity”

In response to the same @tchoi8: “… curiosities can be stolen away from an individual when there’s a discouragement or peer pressure in a toxic way. I think people, including myself, lose curiosity when I feel I can’t do it or I feel less equipped than a student next to me. In technical courses, it’s very easy to create a dynamic in which the start student, who probably has done the technical exercises before, end up getting most attention or most respect from the class. We [at @sfpc] try to revert that [discouragement] by creating homeworks that are equally challenging for advanced and beginner students and that opens up dialogues between students. For example, [goes on to explain an assignment that involves transfer of knowledge (at 22:22)]”

In response to “Can you teach autonomy?” @mind_seu: “Whether you can teach someone autonomy or not, again is maybe not the right question. Why do we want to solve problems by ourselves? I think it’s trying to work with people around you who know more than you do and vice versa, so you can work together to create whatever project you’re trying to implement. But going into a tutorial hole online to do something on your own? I don’t know if we actually need to do that. These tools… we’re trying to build collectives and communities, I think, and maybe that’s more meaningful than trying to do something on your own, even if it’s possible.” [YES]

[See also:

Mindy Seu
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM9mRYpnD7E

Taeyoon Choi
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfThnEo5xgE

Atif Akin
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-URUDBItB8

Rik Lomas
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uk_XYIkyZM ]
towatch  mindseu  design  computation  2019  atifakin  riklomas  coding  publishing  digital  history  education  adobe  designeducation  howweteach  art  creativity  programming  decolonization  tools  longview  longgame  ellenullman  accessibility  access  inclusivity  inclusion  craft  curiosity  imagination  learning  howwelearn  insecurity  exposure  humility  competition  unschooling  deschooling  comparison  schools  schooliness  resistance  ethics  collaboration  cooperation  community  conversation  capitalism  studentdebt  transparency  institutions  lcproject  openstudioproject  emancipation  solidarity  humanrights  empowerment  activism  precarity  curriculum  instruction 
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
S U N U en Instagram: "Clip of musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron explaining the meaning behind “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” on an episode of PBS’ “The 90s” discussing race and racism."
"The revolution wasn't televised in the 60s. Is it gonna it be televised in the 90s?"

“Well, you know, the catch phrase, what that was all about (“The revolution will not be televised.”) that was about the fact that the first change that takes place is in your mind. You have to change your mind before you change the way you live and the way you move. So, when we said that the revolution will not be televised, we were saying that, like, that the thing that’s going to change people is something that no one will ever be able to capture on film. It’ll just be something that you see and all of a sudden you realize, “I’m on the wrong page,” or “I’m on the right page, but on the wrong note and I’ve got to get in sync with everyone else to understand what's happening in this country.” But I think that the Black Americans have been the only real die-hard Americans here because we’re the only ones who’ve carried the process through the process. That everyone else has sorta, like, skipped stages. We’re the ones who marched…"
gil-scottheron  1990s  unschooling  thirdloop  transcontextualization  enlightenment  thinking  cognitiveleaps  transcontextualism  paradigmshift  race  racism 
may 2019 by robertogreco
‘People are finally talking about class’: Astra Taylor on US democracy, socialism and revolution | Film | The Guardian
"Astra Taylor hasn’t always been interested in democracy. “There was this vagueness about the word that just seemed to be not just corruptible but almost inherently corrupt,” says the writer, film-maker and activist. “I was attracted to words like liberation, emancipation, equality, revolution, socialism. Any other word would get my pulse going more than democracy.” For her, democracy was a word imperial America used to sell free markets and push its agenda.

Yet Taylor, a lifelong activist, says that she also always felt there was “a contradiction” inherent in democracy that puzzled her. For all the cynicism the word attracted, she could see there was power in an idea meant to strengthen the people, a power that she explores in her new documentary, What Is Democracy?, and her upcoming book, Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone.

In the US, the election of Donald Trump in 2016 sundered the body politic, while that same year, the Brexit referendum split the UK. Trump has used his office to undermine the media, the legal system, the electoral process itself and anyone who questions his will – all while praising dictators and suggesting the US may one day have “a president for life”.

Russia has shown how foreign powers can use technology to hack democracy, the economic success of China’s one-party capitalism has demonstrated a different model, and the seemingly unstoppable rise of the 1% has laid bare how big money skews the system.

The D word really started to grip Taylor while she was writing her previous book, The People’s Platform, a critique of Silicon Valley’s self-interested “utopianism”, published in 2014. “I wanted to look at what a ‘democratic internet’ would look like,” she says. “Not an empty, Silicon Valley-type democracy, but a real one.”

Then there was her work with Occupy. In 2011, New York’s Zuccotti Park, a grim sunken square near Wall Street, became the focal point of a leaderless movement calling for change. Exactly what it wanted or how it would get it never really seemed clear, but the movement swept the US and the world. Occupy protests spread to 951 cities in 82 countries.

Critics were, and still are, cynical about Occupy. History may be kinder. “We are the 99%,” shouted the activists. The 1% had taken the reins of power. That idea has stuck and can be seen in most progressive political campaigns today, down to the eschewing of corporate cash for the small donations that are funding US politicians including Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren.

Taylor also co-founded the Debt Collective, which grew out of Occupy; this buys student and medical debt on the debt markets and forgives it. It has wiped out $1bn (£770m) of debts so far and helped put student debt on the political agenda.

Occupy was “a shitshow – that’s a technical term,” says Taylor. Zuccotti Park was as divided by its constantly percussive drum circle as it was by its politics. “I love democracy more than I hate the drum circle,” read one sign in the park. Many Occupy activists were reluctant to engage with the existing system or even agree to properly define what changes they wanted, she says. There was a failure to translate protest into action. Democracy can’t be a place where “everyone has a voice but no one has any responsibility,” she says.

Taylor’s experience did get her thinking more about democracy. “There was this call for ‘real democracy’. So when you say that then you obviously believe there is ‘fake democracy’.”

In her new film and book, Taylor traces democracy back to its origins in Athens (a patriarchal slave state – we should have seen trouble coming) and then quizzes a diverse group of people, from the academic Cornel West to Syrian refugees and Trump-supporting Florida teens, asking what they now think of the word. The result? It’s not clear what any of us think democracy is or should be, or even if true democracy has ever existed (Taylor thinks not, although she thinks of democracy as a dynamic evolving concept that has yet to be achieved, and is more interested in exploring what the idea means to others than giving her own tight definition). That is Taylor’s aim: to make us think, to ask new questions and hopefully come up with new answers.

She is excited by some of the recent political shifts in the US. “For the first time in my life people are talking about class,” she says. “It’s just ridiculous that this was an unspeakable concept for so long – that is why we are in the predicament we are in.”

She is heartened to see a new generation of politicians, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, talking about “democratic socialism”. The S word was a no-no in US politics for generations, one that had “this sort of dated ring”, Taylor says. Now it is “something new, something that’s never been tried. Something in the future.”

While there has been plenty of bad news for democracy in recent years, there is no doubt that politics is changing. More women, more people of colour, teachers, LGBTQ candidates and people from low-income backgrounds are running for office, and winning. A new generation of activists are interested in union organising and strikes.

“People are thinking about power and how to take it, whereas the previous generation was more ambivalent about it, more anarchistic. Occupy was in that mould. There was a refusal to make demands – to do so was to legitimise the state,” she says.

And now? “You have millennials who are cheering on labour struggles. That’s amazing.”

While Taylor is hopeful change will come, she is wary of the powerful forces ranged against it and the left’s ability to mess it up. Nor does she think a “democratic socialist” future – if it’s even possible – would provide all the answers.

“We don’t live in an infinite world,” she says. Even a more equitable system would have to deal with inequality, not least in a world facing apocalyptic climate change. “To me, democratic socialism would just mean more interesting democratic dilemmas. We would no longer be arguing over whether billionaires should exist or be abolished – they should be abolished – but there are still so many questions,” she says.

Taylor is ready to ask those questions. Hip and lanky, she is the nice cool kid, the one in the band whose books and records you wanted to borrow, and who would let you. On top of her other work, Taylor is a musician who has played with her partner Jeff Mangum’s band, Neutral Milk Hotel. She’s a vegan who lives in Brooklyn (if this wasn’t obvious), and one of those interviewees who asks as many questions as she answers.

Her enquiring nature comes from her childhood. Born in Canada and raised in the other Athens, in the US state of Georgia, Taylor was “unschooled” – meaning she was allowed to learn, or not, when and how she liked and was never forced to go to school. The freedom inspired her. At 16, she enrolled at the University of Georgia, then quit for Brown, the elite Rhode Island university that counts John D Rockefeller Jr, the New York Times publisher AG Sulzberger and the actor Emma Watson among its alumni. She quit Brown too, deciding unschooling was a lifelong commitment.

The idea of unschooling is “built on a quite romantic notion of human nature”, she says. “That human beings are intrinsically good and curious and ambitious. Very Rousseau.”

She doesn’t think this is a good model for everyone. Some people need more structure, more guidance. “It’s almost rebellious of me that so much of my work as an adult activist is focused on public education, free public education,” she laughs.

But she believes in the ideas at the heart of unschooling – continual learning, encouraging curiosity, taking education outside the classroom and the school year and embracing trust. They are models we need now, she says, as we question a concept that many of us take for granted even as we worry about its future.

“For many, many students now education is anti-democratic,” she says. “It’s just a curriculum geared at essentially encouraging them to accept their lot in life.”

The decline in liberal arts and the rise of “practical” degrees in subjects such as pharmacology, nursing and construction management, she says, suggest a society that is tailoring people to the workplace rather than encouraging them to think about the big issues, while saddling them with major debts.

There is a structural reason for this, says Taylor. “I feel pretty pulled when young people ask me what to study, because I think they should study Plato and Rousseau. But not if it’s going to lead them to a lifetime of debt servitude. You can’t help but think of your education as something that needs a return on investment when it’s costing you $35,000 a year.”

Her book and film are an argument for the case that “of all academic disciplines, the one that demands to be democratised is political philosophy, which is basically the asking of the questions: how do we want to live? How should we live? What kind of people should we be? How should we govern ourselves? This is something that increasingly only the elites get to carve out time to think about. That is really a tragedy.”"
astrataylor  class  socialism  capitalism  democracy  2019  corruption  ows  occupywallstreet  activism  studentdebt  film  filmmaking  documentary  unschooling  publiceducation  education  curiosity  freedom  rousseau  plato  philosophy  debt  debtservitude  politics  policy  learning  howwelearn  donaldtrump  organizing  ancientgreece  athens  cornelwest 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Are.na Blog / Unlearning hierarchy at the Free School of Architecture
"The Free School of Architecture is an experimental, tuition-free program founded in 2016 that brings architectural thinkers to Los Angeles for several weeks of participatory learning. Four of the original participants – Elisha Cohen, Lili Carr, Karina Andreeva and Tessa Forde – took over the project in 2017 and organized the 2018 edition, which is extensively archived on Are.na. We caught up with them via email to hear their thoughts on alternative education in art and design."



"FSA takes a maximalist and inclusive approach; this has the advantage of allowing us to connect seemingly different people and projects who might never have met, and between whom unexpected collaborations start to happen. It attempts to bridge the gap between academia and practice and allow the space for conversations about architecture that are often overlooked. This maximalist approach means that there will be some unavoidable confusion as a result. We focused on growth and development of participants over clarity to outsiders. Still transparency was a constant topic of conversation and a goal for us as the organizers, and we realize that this is an area we drastically need to improve.

At the core are a few aspirational (and perhaps naive) values that we hope FSA can act as a testing ground for, no matter how the program evolves in the future:

- Non-hierarchy

- Interdisciplinarity and inclusivity

- Freeness (free from constraints of academy and practice, tuition-free, free to be silent or to question)

Leo: How did you structure things in 2018? Were there instructors and students, or did every participant take on a range of roles in relation to one another?

FSA: We sought to challenge the typical hierarchy of a school and emphasize the value of those attending by removing the impetus on the ‘teacher and student’ relationship. We purposefully avoided using those terms. Everyone involved became a ‘participant.’

This began with the application process. Anyone could apply to be a participant by writing a statement and demonstrating experience engaging with a form of practice relevant to architecture. Then, those who wanted to could also submit a teaching proposal. Not all participants had to host a session, but those who did were also there to listen to others.

This included the organizers—we also submitted our own application statements. This was important because the second stage of admissions was peer-evaluation. We sent each applicant three other essays to respond to in order to be accepted. Some responses were funny, some were graphic, while some wrote long, thoughtful reactions. Here is one example. Most importantly, it generated a dialogue before the school was in session and set the tone for what was to come.

Leo: What do you think you took away from the challenges and advantages of being a more "horizontal" organization?

FSA: The structure and organizational model was a huge learning experience for all of us. It had some incredibly powerful results, including a truly non-hierarchical working dynamic between the four of us that enabled unanimous decision-making and open discussion. We shared responsibility for almost every aspect of the organization. To do this productively took time, discussion, and trust. It is certainly not the most efficient, but we believe in its benefits over this downside.

Despite our intentions as organizers to make the program itself non-hierarchical, it became difficult for us to blend into the participant group and separate ourselves from those roles as we attempted to hand over the torch. The incredible complexity of running a school and the huge amount of admin work involved proved almost impossible to part with. This is an area that we plan to focus on in the future. In many ways we did too much, and further iterations of the school may reimagine it with more flexibility and with a more established system for handing off responsibility."



"Leo: Has working on Free School of Architecture offered ways to share knowledge with other groups thinking about alternative education?

FSA: We are only one example of many types of alternative educational initiatives arising, in the architecture education world but also in the art world, as education becomes increasingly more expensive and continues to perpetuate the agenda of those with cultural power and capital. We have been in touch with other schools with similar intentions, like Utopia School, Learning Gardens, and Aformal Academy, and there is an incredible opportunity to develop a kind of global network of knowledge and ideas exchange. Eventually, we would like to compile a “Free School Tool Kit” to allow others to run similar events and build on what we have learned so far. In fact, we used are.na throughout the summer as part of this same intention towards knowledge sharing. We wanted it to be both a resource for participants but also a growing archive to document the summer in the hopes that it might be interesting or useful to others. It still needs another layer of editing and uploading in order to work as a full archive or tool kit, but it did act as an ongoing platform for exchange at the time. Hopefully in the future we can continue to use it as a way for non-participants to engage as well.

Next up, we (the organizers) are traveling to the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany to take part in their “Parliament of Schools,” along with others from around the world, including Public School for Architecture, Open Raumlabor University, and many more. It should be a fantastic occasion to engage with and learn about other organizations and explore the future of pedagogy within the architectural field. We’re very excited about how it might influence what we do next!"
unlearning  hierarchy  horizontality  elishacohen  lillicarr  karinaandreeva  tessaforde  2019  freeschools  2017  2018  unschooling  interdisciplinary  freeness  inclusivity  responsibility  decisionmaking  participation  participatory  experimentation  experience  architects  architecture  design  are.na 
april 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
Temporary Academy for Un/Re/Learning
"TEMPORARY ACADEMY FOR UN/RE/LEARNING is a program driven towards the reformation of art and cultural production in the Philippines. Through a series of lectures, conversations, interventions, film screenings, performances, meditations, and other form of social activities, *URL aims to address local needs, find an effective approach in diluting existing hegemonies, and reevaluate our relationship with self, society, and the machine.

TAfURL No.1 is composed of Cru Camara, Czar Kristoff, Jem Magbanua, Aly Cabral, Abbey and Emen Batocabe. To be hosted by Dulo Manila.

IG @unrelearning
E unrelearning@gmail.com"

[See alo:
https://www.instagram.com/unrelearning/ ]
philippines  manila  unschooling  unlearning  learning  art  culture  society  lcproject  openstudioproject 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Project MUSE - On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scales
"Because computers zoom across magnifications, it is easy to conclude that both knowledge and things exist by nature in precision-nested scales. The technical term is “scalable,” the ability to expand without distorting the framework. But it takes hard work to make knowledge and things scalable, and this article shows that ignoring nonscalable effects is a bad idea. People stumbled on scalable projects through the same historical contingencies that such projects set out to deny. They cobbled together ways to make things and data self-contained and static, and thus amenable to expansion. In European New World plantations, the natives were wiped out; coerced and alienated plants and workers came to substitute for them. Profits were made because extermination and slavery could be discounted from the books. Such historically indeterminate encounters formed models for later projects of scalability. This essay explores scalability projects from the perspective of an emergent “nonscalability theory” that pays attention to the mounting pile of ruins that scalability leaves behind. The article concludes that, if the world is still diverse and dynamic, it is because scalability never fulfills its own promises."



"How is scalability created? It is not a necessary feature of the world. People stumbled on scalable projects through historical contingencies. They cobbled together ways to make raw materials (for both goods and knowledge) selfcontained and static, and thus amenable to expansion. In European sugarcane plantations, the natives were wiped out; exotic, coerced, and alienated plants and workers came to substitute for them. Profits were made because the general mess of extermination and slavery could be discounted from the books. Such historically indeterminate encounters formed models for later projects of scalability.

Do we live in a world of scalable nonsocial landscape elements—nonsoels? Yes and no. The great “progress” projects of the last several centuries have built on the legacy of the colonial plantation to make scalability work in business, government, and technology. But scalability has never been complete. In recent years, changes in global capitalism have challenged the assumption of scalability for labor and natural-resource management, and at least some theorists in the social sciences have pointed out the malevolent hegemony of precision. Meanwhile, critics of scalability have raised distress signals about the fate of biological and cultural diversity on earth. It is an important time to develop nonscalability theory as a way to reconceptualize the world—and perhaps rebuild it."

[PDF here: http://www.lasisummerschool.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Tsing-2012-On-nonscalability.pdf ]

[via:
"I can’t say enough how good Anna Tsing’s essay on nonscalabilty is. “On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scales.” Common Knowledge 18, no. 3 (September 19, 2012): 505–24. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/485828/pdf "
https://twitter.com/samplereality/status/1098610615969562626

"Scalability is the enemy of difference. (Page 507)

via:
"On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scales by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing"
https://twitter.com/dantaeyoung/status/1108070233670123521 ]

[See also:
"“On Nonscalability” of teaching and learning"
https://www.jonbecker.net/on-nonscalability-of-teaching-and-learning/
annalowenhaupttsing  scale  scalability  slow  small  2012  difference  diversity  capitalism  knowledge  expansion  growth  degrowth  culture  technology  progress  labor  work  biology  humanism  humanity  sustainability  environment  sugar  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  antigrowth 
april 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
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
TUMO
"14,000 teens in charge of their own learning at the intersection of technology and design"



"TUMO is a new kind of educational experience at the intersection of technology and design.

At TUMO, teens learn because they want to. They’re given the tools and knowhow they need to reach their maximum potential, and they chart their own learning path through hands-on activities, workshops and projects.

This is TUMO
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB-Hs01eQ64

Coaches, Gurus & Pros
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSBKVdUAdzU

The Learning Path
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQsEDco8U5U

Sam & Sylva Simonian
Founders of TUMO
Born and raised in Beirut, the Simonians moved to the United States as teenagers. Sam enrolled in the engineering program of the University of Texas at Arlington and went on to co-found Inet, a leading telecommunications company. The Simonians have always noted the significant contributions Armenian organizations made to their education and success over the years, and have made it a personal endeavor to extend that gift to the current generation of bright and motivated Armenians. TUMO is their greatest step in that direction yet.

Marie Lou Papazian
CEO, Simonian Educational Foundation
As TUMO’s founding CEO, Marie Lou Papazian developed the center’s educational program and led the design and construction of its flagship facility. Prior to TUMO, Marie Lou led the Education for Development Foundation linking Armenian students to their global peers through online educational activities. Previously, she was lead construction manager on prominent high-rise buildings in New York City. Marie Lou holds a Master’s Degree in Computing in Education from the Teachers College at Columbia University, as well as degrees in engineering and construction management."
via:litherland  armenia  lcproject  openstudioproject  learning  schools  education  alternative  design  technology  samsimonian  sylvasimonian  marieloupapazian  self-directedlearning  self-directed  unschooling  deschooling 
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
Gnamma #5 - Some Lessons from Learning Gardens
"The Learning Gardens [http://learning-gardens.co/ ] Slack, which has been, emergently, the "home" of the initiative, is shutting down in two months. This is a decision by me, Éd, and Morgane to encourage decentralization and distributed ownership of the idea. You could see whiffs of this coming in my earlier newsletter [https://tinyletter.com/gnamma/letters/gnamma-2-to-grow-a-garden ].

The goal returns to the kernel of the initiative in the first place: encouraging people to make spaces to take on [learning] initiatives they believe in. A Slack may re-emerge, things may decentralize, circle around tools like Are.na and Twitter and Discord, one-off forums, group texts, email newsletters, IRL groups and meeting spaces. Or perhaps the whole thing will fizzle for a while until some future moment. We, the janitors, generally tried to keep our moderation and assertiveness minimal, but this represents a strong-armed push to catalyze something new.

With this change forthcoming, I'm asking myself, what have we learned over 2.5 years of Learning Gardens as a public concept?

If someone came to me today saying, "I want to start a group of people to study X together!" some of my first questions would be: Is X well-defined enough to rally a group behind it? If X is vague, is the group well-defined enough to organize? Do you have the bandwidth to deal with not only organizing "content" for the group, but also managing a social landscape or making the conditions such that it can self-manage?

Let me clarify: X here doesn't need to be a "topic." It can also be a "mode of organizing." The medium can be the message, here, and a lot of the value in Learning Gardens has been in bearing witness to a variety of organizational schemes. (But I do recommend either a well-defined topic, well-defined group of people, or well-defined structure!)

This comes as NO surprise to anyone who has run groups or shared spaces: good management takes a lot of energy. It takes either a lot of active management & conversation, or a lot of lead time to build a substrate of mutual trust such that self-management works. To keep people aligned in logistics, to keep momentum, to upkeep a value set that people connect with, to generate ideas of where to go next. If your group is one organized around discrete "events" (in-person meet-ups, skype-in conversations, workshops, publications, etc), it's important to remember that the bulk of the work happens around these things, too: in the preparation and post-facto follow-up. You, organizing, should prepare for this and think of it as a way to invite others to participate (rather than feeling like you need to take on the "extra-curricular" work by yourself).

Redundancy in information-sharing is necessary. I've learned this lesson repeatedly, given a general desire to be a bit terse in what I put up online. Oversharing is necessary to get the point across, to get people to see it twice, to get them to come back.

Online, even in a semi-closed gardens of the sort that Slack groups emerged to be, the line between "being there" and "not" is thin. We have a term for riding this line: "lurking." Lurking in its internet-native form can be quite positive. (If you "lurk" in real life spaces, you're creepy.) It allows for exploratory observations of new interests, for following along without the commitment of joining the room, for feeling a connection even when formal participation might be difficult or contentious.

Learning Gardens is about learning, however, and one thing I strongly believe is that you do not learn passively. I don't want LG to be a loose social space: there is enough of that already. I want LG to be about communities formed through action. Latent in my thoughts around the decision to retire the Slack is the desire to see people turn a lurking tendency into an organizing (or participating) one. Trust is necessary for the vulnerability and confidence that breeds effective learning experiences, and trust is easiest to build when you know who else is in the room.

Thanks to everyone who has made the Slack interesting and dynamic over these years. I am looking forward to what is next! Please drop me a line if you are in the Bay Area."
lukaswinklerprins  2019  learning  unschooling  deschooling  learninggardens  gardens  education  self-directed  self-directedlearning  mutualaid  trust  community  howwelearn  redundancy  momentum  slack  social  action  sharing  éduordurcades  morganesantos 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Gnamma #7 - The Teacher's Imposition
"The world is full of bad teaching. And somehow we all get on with it, of course.

Still, I have found it typical that people perk up when they think of their favorite, electrifying teachers. These are people we think about for the rest of our lives, largely because they inform our interests and ways of looking at the world (ontology, value systems, networked ideas, etc) at early ages. Let's talk about teachers, and I want to be clear: everyone directs teachable moments in life (especially guardians and managers). I'm referring to people in explicitly assigned roles to teach. (This thus puts these thoughts largely outside of the realm of unschooling [https://www.are.na/roberto-greco/unschooling ], I think, but I do not know enough to say—would love to understand more in this realm.)

"Why Education is so Difficult And Contentious" [https://www.sfu.ca/~egan/Difficult-article.html ]: TL;DR because when we say education we mean indoctrination, and everybody—teacher, parent, politician, etc—has different opinions on how people should be. It's touchy to talk about forced indoctrination because it both engenders fascism and is the founding idea behind of public education. There are obviously gradients of imposition on the student. Illich supports the need for the pedagogue to connect student to resources, but not much more—a fairly "hands-off" view of the teacher by today's standards. Still, the connective moments are going to reflect the ideology of the pedagogue.

Are teachers necessary for learning? No. Learning is between the student and the world. A quippish phrase I heard a couple times working at RenArts [https://www.renarts.org/ ] was "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it think." But education (structured learning with others) requires teachers, basically by definition. Teachers "lead to water" and apply social pressure to encourage partaking.

What makes for a good teacher? Well, I maintain the chief goals of structured learning are to build agency and cultivate awareness in the student (and maybe share specific skillsets). So, what kind of teacher builds agency in the student and cultivates awareness to the extent possible? Some modes of teaching quickly follow: I believe the teacher needs to support open-ended, coherent, and honest activities.

Without open-ended-ness, we lose exploratory and self-actualizing potential. Without coherence, students can get mired in lack of knowing where to start or end (but a little ambiguity isn't bad). Without honesty we lose touch with the world and how to work with our lived realities. By "honesty" here, I mean to be honest about application of material, about history of thought, and about context of the activity itself; as such, the best teaching acknowledges and works with its own context (/media) and the needs of the people in the room.

I am trying to recall where I heard the phrase that "teaching is making space." The teachers frames the room, the activities, the needs, the expectations, the discussions. In doing so, they embed indoctrination into the teaching. In the effort of honesty in the classroom, these framing decisions needs to be made explicit for the students. The effective teacher must constantly wrestle with their internalized epistemologies and ego in seeking to constantly be aware of and share their own framings of the world. (When I ran a workshop for the Free School of Architecture in Summer 2018 on alternative learning communities, I mostly brought with me a long list of questions to answer [https://www.are.na/block/2440950 ] in seeking to understand how one is framing a learning space.)

This need for constant "pariefracture" (a breaking of the frame, expanding the conceptual realm, or meta-level "zooming out"—my friend D.V.'s term) in teaching gave me quite a bit of anxiety, as a teacher, until reading Parker J. Palmer's book "The Courage to Teach," in which he outlines six paradoxes of teaching. [https://www.are.na/block/1685043 and OCRed below ] I like these paradoxes in themselves, but the larger concept that resonated with me was the ability to treat a paradox not as a dead end (as one does in mathematics, generally) but rather as a challenge that can be pulled out and embraced as the dynamo of an ongoing practice. Teaching never resolves: you just wake up tomorrow and give it another shot.

I think what I'm circling around, here, is how much of learning from a teacher involves inheriting their ways of looking, concurrent with the teacher's ways of looking being in constant, self-aware flux. We inherit snapshots of our teachers' worldviews, blend them together over our own substrate of grokking the world, and call it education."

[From Parker J Palmer’s “The Courage to Teach”:

“When I design a classroom session, I am aware of six paradoxical tensions that I want to build into the teaching and learning space. These six are neither prescriptive nor exhaustive. They are simply mine, offered to illustrate how the principle of paradox might contribute to pedagogical design:

1. The space should be bounded and open.
2. The space should be hospitable and "charged."
3. The space should invite the voice of the individual and the voice of the group.
4. The space should honor the "little" stories of the students and the "big" stories of the disciplines and tradition.
5. The space should support solitude and surround it with the resources of community.
6. The space should welcome both silence and speech.

I want to say a few words about what each of these paradoxes means. Then, to rescue the paradoxes and the reader from death by abstraction, I want to explore some practical ways for classroom teachers to bring these idea to life.“
lukaswinklerprins  teaching  howweteach  parkerpalmer  education  paradox  2019  indoctrination  ivanillich  exploration  boundaries  openness  hospitality  individualism  collectivism  community  silence  speech  support  solitude  disciplines  tradition  personalization  unschooling  deschooling  canon 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Agile Learning Centers, Liberated Learners, and Sudbury Schools: What’s the Difference? | Alliance for Self-Directed Education
"An exploration of three popular models for supporting self-directed learners.

Table of Contents
A Brief History
Is it a School?
Core Values
What’s Required?
Conflict Resolution
Who Makes the Decisions, and How?
Classes, Activities, Mentorship, and Asking for Help
Graduation
Conclusion: What’s the Same?"
blakeboles  unschooling  deschooling  schools  alternative  sudburyschools  agilelearningcenters  liberatedlearners  northstar  education  children  2018  democracy  democratic  freeschools  values  conflictresolution  authority  history  decisionmaking  teaching  howwelearn  learning  self-directed  self-directedlearning  agilelearning  lcproject  openstudioproject 
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
Deprived, but not depraved: Prosocial behavior is an adaptive response to lower socioeconomic status. - PubMed - NCBI
"Individuals of lower socioeconomic status (SES) display increased attentiveness to others and greater prosocial behavior compared to individuals of higher SES. We situate these effects within Pepper & Nettle's contextually appropriate response framework of SES. We argue that increased prosocial behavior is a contextually adaptive response for lower-SES individuals that serves to increase control over their more threatening social environments."
generosity  2017  poverty  wealth  behavior  social  research  ses  socioeconomicststatus  society  mutualaid  unschooling  deschooling  economics  psychology  care  caring  helpfulness 
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
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
David Graeber on a Fair Future Economy - YouTube
"David Graeber is an anthropologist, a leading figure in the Occupy movement, and one of our most original and influential public thinkers.

He comes to the RSA to address our current age of ‘total bureaucratization’, in which public and private power has gradually fused into a single entity, rife with rules and regulations, whose ultimate purpose is the extraction of wealth in the form of profits.

David will consider what it would take, in terms of intellectual clarity, political will and imaginative power – to conceive and build a flourishing and fair future economy, which would maximise the scope for individual and collective creativity, and would be sustainable and just."
democracy  liberalism  directdemocracy  borders  us  finance  globalization  bureaucracy  2015  ows  occupywallstreet  governance  government  economics  politics  policy  unschooling  unlearning  schooliness  technology  paperwork  future  utopianism  capitalism  constitution  rules  regulation  wealth  power  communism  authority  authoritarianism  creativity  neoliberalism  austerity  justice  socialjustice  society  ideology  inequality  revolution  global  international  history  law  legal  debt  freedom  money  monetarypolicy  worldbank  imf  markets  banks  banking  certification  credentials  lobbying  collusion  corruption  privatization  credentialization  deschooling  canon  firstamendment 
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
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