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The Misguided Drive to Measure ‘Learning Outcomes’
Consider that holy grail of learning outcomes, critical thinking — what the philosopher John Dewey called the ability “to maintain the state of doubt and to carry on systematic and protracted inquiry.” Teaching it is not a cheap or efficient process. It does not come from trying to educate the most students at the lowest possible cost or from emphasizing short, quantifiable, standardized assignments at the expense of meandering, creative and difficult investigation.
learning  education  statistics  university  thinking  capitalism 
11 hours ago by basemaly
Gun Sales in America Have Stopped Spiking After Mass Shootings
Over the past two decades, a predictable cycle emerged in the wake of U.S. mass shootings: gun-control advocates would demand stricter laws, gun-rights supporters warned of an imminent crackdown and gun buyers rushed to lock in purchases before it was too late.

Under President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress, however, such urgency seems to have dissipated. Would-be gun buyers hardly budged after last month's Las Vegas shooting that left 58 people dead and hundreds more injured at an outdoor concert venue. There was virtually no uptick in federal background checks for gun sales as one had come to expect.
guns  capitalism  statistics  economy  gunViolence 
20 hours ago by campylobacter
How Black Panther Asks Us to Examine Who We Are To One Another
"While interviews with Coogler reveal he based Wakanda on Lesotho, a small country surrounded on all sides by South Africa, it has become clear that most discussions about the film share a similar geography; its borders are dimensional rather than physical, existing in two universes at once. How does one simultaneously argue the joys of recognizing the Pan-African signifiers within Wakanda, as experienced by Africans watching the film, and the limits of Pan-Africanism in practice, as experienced by a diaspora longing for Africa? The beauty and tragedy of Wakanda, as well as our discourse, is that it exists in an intertidal zone: not always submerged in the fictional, as it owes much of its aesthetic to the Africa we know, but not entirely real either, as no such country exists on the African continent. The porosity and width of that border complicates an already complicated task, shedding light on the infinite points of reference possible for this film that go beyond subjective readings."

"How then does one criticize what is unquestionably the best Marvel movie to date by every conceivable metric known to film criticism? How best to explain that Black Panther can be a celebration of blackness, yes; a silencing of whiteness, yes; a meshing of African cultures and signifiers — all this! — while also feeling like an exercise in sustained forgetting? That the convenience of having a fake country within a real continent is the way we can take inspiration from the latter without dwelling on its losses, or the causes of them. Black Panther is an American film through and through, one heavily invested in white America’s political absence from its African narrative.

When Killmonger goads a museum curator early on in the film, calling out a history of looting, it is condemnation that falls squarely on Britain’s shoulders. Rarely must the audience think about the C.I.A.’s very real history in Africa. The fact that viewers were steered, at any point, into rooting for Martin Freeman, a British actor playing an American C.I.A. operative who attempts to purchase stolen resources from a white South African arms dealer, means that even a cinematic turducken of imperialist history gets a pass."

"Nonetheless, Black Panther is an undeniable joy to watch, even it if it is, at times, hard to experience. I can tell you that one of the most important things I saw, in a film set in Africa in 2018, wasn’t just the film’s lack of whiteness, but the almost complete absence of China, a country whose economic expansion throughout the continent has been singular and complicated. What’s more, for all of Killmonger’s liberation talk, Black Panther is also about the unrooted feelings of first-generation Americans, which for all intents and purposes Killmonger is. People, who despite knowing their origins, know that they will to some extent always be lost to them. Killmonger’s Wakandan-American rage and potential liberation comes from a uniquely complicated place, but we’ve yet to conjure a word for the pain of that proximity. Understandably, Black Panther only has room for so much politics, but it is important to acknowledge that it is in this selection that it reaches and abandons so many people. The film was never going to be everything to everyone — even if it meant everything to everyone. The film’s righteous anger is grounded in a real America with real problems, while its hopes lie in a fictional country distinctly removed from the reality of Africa.


In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, Black Panther spent its opening weekend sold out five times a day out of a possible five showings. A question I repeatedly found myself asking is where Africans watching this film fit within the Afrofuturist possibility of Wakanda? How do you watch the dream of Africa, set within the real Africa, created by filmmakers in the diaspora, and then emerge to martial law? How hollow does Killmonger’s posturing and desire for a bloody uprising of the masses come across to a viewer living in the throes of one?

I know that when I leave my theater in Oakland, a disabled elder and real Black Panther will be on the verge of a no-fault eviction from her home. Five months will have passed since I watched the premiere of an Oakland-based web series about the racialized disaster of gentrification in the Bay Area at the Grand Lake Theater, the same place where Coogler made an appearance on the opening night of Black Panther. It is worth noting, that the word “capitalism” does not appear once in Black Panther, despite its focus on black liberation. Killmonger’s slash-and-burn approach to freedom, and T’Challa’s future coding boot camp for black American youth, both fail to address how oppression, particularly in the 21st century, is systemic."

"Analyzing the film’s antagonist is more complicated. Killmonger is written as pure rage, and it’s hard for a man written as pure rage, however justified, to be a good villain. What’s impressive about Black Panther is that it asks us to examine the grey area of that designator. Unfortunately, the Killmonger we see on screen is one who has read the Baldwin line “To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage,” and ignored Audre Lorde’s “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” The film is an ode to the exceptionalism of black American rage that, while singular, cannot speak for the majority of the diaspora. There is no precedent for worldwide liberation.

What’s more, Killmonger’s politics completely ignore the ways power structures overlap to oppress individuals. He is the type of man who would shoot down the concept of intersectionality if he met it in the streets. He kills his girlfriend. He brags about killing people of color in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as his own brothers and sisters in Africa. He is quick to assault an unarmed priestess who questions his orders. He delights in killing one of the Dora Milaje. In truth, I can only see him as a sympathetic victim if I squint hard enough at the past that made him instead of his actions on-screen."

"Black Panther may be a Disney product, but it would be foolish to see a film of this historical significance as intended solely for casual consumption. “This is not just a movie about a black superhero; it’s very much a black movie,” wrote journalist Jamil Smith for TIME. That blackness is global. Its very existence — Coogler’s singular execution of its $200 million budget — is a declaration of self-worth, an act of defiance aimed at an industry that has long undervalued black creatives on both sides of the camera. The film as a statement on black virtue should be celebrated, its examination of black possibility exalted, and its disparate philosophies parsed to the extent the viewer wishes.

The fact that my focus in this piece was less about the film as product and more about its politics is itself an accomplishment, a signifier of its exceptional quality. Every frame in Black Panther felt like a gift. A beautifully lit, well-moisturized, spectacularly choreographed gift. What I will remember about Black Panther’s opening weekend is the tragic relief of arguing the ideological calisthenics of a fictional African country instead of whether it is a shithole.

Black Panther’s audience hears the question “Who are you?” repeatedly over the course of two hours. The Queen-Mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) shouts at T’Challa, “Show him who you are!” when M’Baku has the upper hand at Warrior Falls. It is the question Killmonger, bound by Wakandan chains, begs the king’s council to ask him when they first meet him. Indeed, it is the line that ends the film, uttered by a young black boy in Oakland peering up at a king no longer in hiding. That we have spent the week that follows asking ourselves the same question is the film’s lasting gift. Not only reflecting on who we are, but who are we to each other. T’Challa never apologizes to Killmonger for what his father did, for everything that was taken from him, and it is the film’s most damning omission. There is no healing that can come without the voiced expression of empathy. And I hope those who navigate the waters of their identity can eventually be greeted at a lasting shore with just that."
rahawahaile  blackpanther  2018  film  africa  utopia  diaspora  us  geopolitics  capitalism 
21 hours ago by robertogreco
The Misguided Drive to Measure ‘Learning Outcomes’ - The New York Times
"It seems that the pressure to assess student learning outcomes has grown most quickly at poorly funded regional universities that have absorbed a large proportion of financially disadvantaged students, where profound deficits in preparation and resources hamper achievement. Research indicates that the more selective a university, the less likely it is to embrace assessment. Learning outcomes assessment has become one way to answer the question, “If you get unprepared students in your class and they don’t do well, how does that get explained?” Mr. Eubanks at Furman University told me.

When Erik Gilbert, a professor of history at Arkansas State University, reached the end of his World Civilization course last fall, he dutifully imposed the required assessment: an extra question on the final exam that asked students to read a document about Samurai culture and answer questions using knowledge of Japanese history. Yet his course focused on “cross-cultural connections, trade, travel, empire, migration and bigger-scale questions, rather than area studies,” Mr. Gilbert told me. His students had not studied Japanese domestic history. “We do it this way because it satisfies what the assessment office wants, not because it addresses concerns that we as a department have.”

Mr. Gilbert became an outspoken assessment skeptic after years of watching the process fail to capture what happens in his classes — and seeing it miss the real reasons students struggle. “Maybe all your students have full-time jobs, but that’s something you can’t fix, even though that’s really the core problem,” he said. “Instead, you’re expected to find some small problem, like students don’t understand historical chronology, so you might add a reading to address that. You’re supposed to make something up every semester, then write up a narrative” explaining your solution to administrators.

Here is the second irony: Learning assessment has not spurred discussion of the deep structural problems that send so many students to college unprepared to succeed. Instead, it lets politicians and accreditors ignore these problems as long as bureaucratic mechanisms appear to be holding someone — usually a professor — accountable for student performance.

All professors could benefit from serious conversations about what is and is not working in their classes. But instead they end up preoccupied with feeding the bureaucratic beast. “It’s a bit like the old Soviet Union. You speak two languages,” said Frank Furedi, an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Britain, which has a booming assessment culture. “You do a performance for the sake of the auditors, but in reality, you carry on.”

Yet bureaucratic jargon subtly shapes the expectations of students and teachers alike. On the first day of class, my colleagues and I — especially in the humanities, where professors are perpetually anxious about falling enrollment — find ourselves rattling off the skills our courses offer (“Critical thinking! Clear writing!”), hyping our products like Apple Store clerks.

I teach intellectual history. Of course that includes skills: learning to read a historical source, interpret evidence and build an argument. But cultivating historical consciousness is more than that: It means helping students immerse themselves in a body of knowledge, question assumptions about memory and orient themselves toward current events in a new way.

If we describe college courses as mainly delivery mechanisms for skills to please a future employer, if we imply that history, literature and linguistics are more or less interchangeable “content” that convey the same mental tools, we oversimplify the intellectual complexity that makes a university education worthwhile in the first place. We end up using the language of the capitalist marketplace and speak to our students as customers rather than fellow thinkers. They deserve better.

“When kids come from backgrounds where they’re the first in their families to go to college, we have to take them seriously, and not flatter them and give them third-rate ideas,” Mr. Furedi told me. “They need to be challenged and inspired by the idea of our disciplines.” Assessment culture is dumbing down universities, he said: “One of the horrible things is that many universities think that giving access to nontraditional students means turning a university into a high school. That’s not giving them access to higher education.”

Here is the third irony: The value of universities to a capitalist society depends on their ability to resist capitalism, to carve out space for intellectual endeavors that don’t have obvious metrics or market value.

Consider that holy grail of learning outcomes, critical thinking — what the philosopher John Dewey called the ability “to maintain the state of doubt and to carry on systematic and protracted inquiry.” Teaching it is not a cheap or efficient process. It does not come from trying to educate the most students at the lowest possible cost or from emphasizing short, quantifiable, standardized assignments at the expense of meandering, creative and difficult investigation.

Producing thoughtful, talented graduates is not a matter of focusing on market-ready skills. It’s about giving students an opportunity that most of them will never have again in their lives: the chance for serious exploration of complicated intellectual problems, the gift of time in an institution where curiosity and discovery are the source of meaning.

That’s how we produce the critical thinkers American employers want to hire. And there’s just no app for that."
learning  learningoutcomes  outcomes  academia  assessment  evaluation  quantification  measurement  accountability  highered  highereducation  2018  mollywhorthen  criticalthinking  johndewey  metrics  inquiry  efficiency  standardization  standardizedtesting  capitalism  content  complexity  howwelearn  howwethink  knowledge  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  unschooling  deschooling  schools  pedagogy  teaching  skepticism  bureaucracy  corporatism  corporatization  inequality 
22 hours ago by robertogreco
Vergib mir deine Punkte
Wenn der Nutzer nach seinem Urteil gefragt wird, gibt ihm das das Gefühl, seine Meinung sei wichtig. Dabei sieht er doch nur algorithmisch kuratierte Nachrichten, zu denen er vorinstallierte Emoticons verteilen darf. […]

Das Individuum reduziert sich auf einen Ort der Rückkopplung, eine Instanz, die auf bilderreiche Reize reagiert und über persuasiv-sophistische Interfaces konditioniert werden kann.

Der vormals urteilskräftige, selbstreflexive Akteur bewertet algorithmisch kuratierte Nachrichten mit vorinstallierten Emoticons, drückt «Individualität» über einheitlich gestaltete Profilmasken aus – und wird im Trommelfeuer der Feedbacks zur informierten wie uniformierten Schaltstation. Im Hochgefühl vermeintlicher Bewertungsmacht macht man es sich gemütlich im florierenden «walled garden», versteht die Optionsvielfalt als Freiheit und wird so – ganz bequem – zum vorgefertigten wie selbstgemachten Produkt.
nct  ncpin  DasGeileNeueInternet  Psychology  Reputation  Filterbubbles  Capitalism 
yesterday by walt74
Unenlightened thinking: Steven Pinker’s embarrassing new book is a feeble sermon for rattled liberals
Judged as a contribution to thought, Enlightenment Now is embarrassingly feeble. With its primitive scientism and manga-style history of ideas, the book is a parody of Enlightenment thinking at its crudest. A more intellectually inquiring author would have conveyed something of the Enlightenment’s richness and diversity. Yet even if Pinker was capable of providing it, intellectual inquiry is not what his anxious flock demands. Only an anodyne, mythical Enlightenment can give them what they crave, which is relief from painful doubt.

Given this overriding emotional imperative, presenting them with the actual, conflict-ridden, often illiberal Enlightenment would be – by definition, one might say – unreasonable. Judged as a therapeutic manual for rattled rationalists, Enlightenment Now is a highly topical and much-needed book. In the end, after all, reason is only the slave of the passions.
capitalism  critique  enlightenment  neoliberalism 
2 days ago by jstenner
>If the company CEO replaces half of the workers with robots that can make 1,000... | Hacker News
Where's the value add of the CEO here? They didn't create the robot. They are not operating it. They're a middleman.

Middlemen should typically have very low margins in an efficient market.
hackernews  capitalism  qft 
3 days ago by tatwell
American Giant’s Hoodie Can’t Save US Manufacturing By Itself - Racked
As impossible as it might seem, each individual’s choices do add up.

The story is about doing something instead of doing nothing because doing nothing is easier. It’s about worrying less about determining if something is Good or Bad than finding the pieces that could be improved and trying to improve them.

It’s doing that scary and maybe difficult thing that you hear will be good for you, and letting it be good for you, and letting it change you for the better.[...]

If the message is to be an engaged human citizen, regardless of the shirt on your back, that seems like something that’s worth saying again and again. And, looking around, like something we need to hear more and more and more, to combat the deafening buzz that says it’s not worth it. I know I need to hear it. I think I even believe it.
via:popular  manufacturing  usa  jobs  employment  capitalism  slavery  cotton  sweatshirts  textiles  clothing  industry  venture_capital  funding  capital  growth 
4 days ago by cglinka

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