robertogreco + anxiety   122

“Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem,” says psychologist / Boing Boing
People don't procrastinate because they are lazy, says Dr. Piers Steel, author of The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done. “It’s self-harm,” he told The New York Times.

Dr. Fuschia Sirois, professor of psychology at the University of Sheffield, agrees. “This is why we say that procrastination is essentially irrational,” she told the Times “It doesn’t make sense to do something you know is going to have negative consequences... People engage in this irrational cycle of chronic procrastination because of an inability to manage negative moods around a task.”

From the article:
Procrastination isn’t a unique character flaw or a mysterious curse on your ability to manage time, but a way of coping with challenging emotions and negative moods induced by certain tasks — boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt and beyond.

...

In fact, there’s an entire body of research dedicated to the ruminative, self-blaming thoughts many of us tend to have in the wake of procrastination, which are known as “procrastinatory cognitions.” The thoughts we have about procrastination typically exacerbate our distress and stress, which contribute to further procrastination, Dr. Sirois said.

But the momentary relief we feel when procrastinating is actually what makes the cycle especially vicious. In the immediate present, putting off a task provides relief — “you’ve been rewarded for procrastinating,” Dr. Sirois said. And we know from basic behaviorism that when we’re rewarded for something, we tend to do it again. This is precisely why procrastination tends not to be a one-off behavior, but a cycle, one that easily becomes a chronic habit.
procrastination  pschology  2019  via:davidtedu  fusciasirois  boredom  anxiety  self-doubt  frustration  resentment 
24 days ago by robertogreco
What It Takes to Put Your Phone Away | The New Yorker
"During the first few days of my Internet decluttering, I found myself compulsively checking my unchanged in-box and already-read text messages, and scanning the same headlines over and over—attempting, as if bewitched, to see new information there. I took my dog out for longer walks, initially trying to use them for some productive purpose: spying on neighbors, planning my week. Soon I acquiesced to a dull, pleasant blankness. One afternoon, I draped myself on my couch and felt an influx of mental silence that was both disturbing and hallucinatorily pleasurable. I didn’t want to learn how to fix or build anything, or start a book club. I wanted to experience myself as soft and loose and purposeless, three qualities that, in my adulthood, have always seemed economically risky.

“Nothing is harder to do than nothing,” Jenny Odell writes, in her new book, “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy” (Melville House). Odell, a multidisciplinary artist who teaches at Stanford, is perhaps best known for a pamphlet called “There’s No Such Thing as a Free Watch,” which she put together while in residence at the Museum of Capitalism, in Oakland. Odell investigated the origins of a blandly stylish watch that was being offered for free (plus shipping) on Instagram, and found a mirrored fun house of digital storefronts that looked as though they had been generated by algorithm. The retailers advertised themselves as brands that had physical origins in glitzy Miami Beach or hip San Francisco but were, in fact, placeless nodes in a vast web of scammy global wholesalers, behind which a human presence could hardly be discerned.

Like Newport, Odell thinks that we should spend less time on the Internet. Unlike him, she wants readers to question the very idea of productivity. Life is “more than an instrument and therefore something that cannot be optimized,” she writes. To find the physical world sufficiently absorbing, to conceive of the self as something that “exceeds algorithmic description”—these are not only “ends in and of themselves, but inalienable rights belonging to anyone lucky enough to be alive.” Odell details, with earnest wonder, moments in her life when she was reoriented toward these values. After the 2016 election, she began feeding peanuts to two crows on her balcony, and found comfort in the fact that “these essentially wild animals recognized me, that I had some place in their universe.” She also developed a fascination, via Google Maps, with the creek behind her old kindergarten, and she went to see it with a friend. She followed the creek bed, which, she learned, runs beneath Cupertino’s shopping centers and Apple’s headquarters. The creek became a reminder that under the “streamlined world of products, results, experiences, reviews” there is a “giant rock whose other lifeforms operate according to an ancient, oozing, almost chthonic logic.”

Odell elegantly aligns the crisis in our natural world and the crisis in our minds: what has happened to the natural world is happening to us, she contends, and it’s happening on the same soon-to-be-irreparable scale. She sees “little difference between habitat restoration in the traditional sense and restoring habitats for human thought”; both are endangered by “the logic of capitalist productivity.” She believes that, by constantly disclosing our needs and desires to tech companies that sift through our selfhood in search of profit opportunities, we are neglecting, even losing, our mysterious, murky depths—the parts of us that don’t serve an ulterior purpose but exist merely to exist. The “best, most alive parts” of ourselves are being “paved over by a ruthless logic of use.”

“Digital Minimalism” and “How to Do Nothing” could both be categorized as highbrow how-to—an artist and a computer scientist, both of them in their thirties, wrestling with the same timely prompt. (At one point, Odell writes, she thought of her book as activism disguised as self-help.) Rather than a philosophy of technology use, Odell offers a philosophy of modern life, which she calls “manifest dismantling,” and which she intends as the opposite of Manifest Destiny. It involves rejecting the sort of progress that centers on isolated striving, and emphasizing, instead, caregiving, maintenance, and the interdependence of things. Odell grew up in the Bay Area, and her work is full of unabashed hippie moments that might provoke cynicism. But, for me—and, I suspect, for others who have come of age alongside the Internet and have coped with the pace and the precariousness of contemporary living with a mixture of ambient fatalism and flares of impetuous tenderness—she struck a hopeful nerve of possibility that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Odell writes about the first electronic bulletin-board system, which was set up, in Berkeley, in 1972, as a “communal memory bank.” She contrasts it with Nextdoor, a notoriously paranoid neighborhood-based social platform that was recently valued at $1.5 billion, inferring that the profit motive had perverted what can be a healthy civic impulse. Newport, who does not have any social-media accounts of his own, generally treats social media’s current profit model as an unfortunate inevitability. Odell believes that there is another way. She cites, for example, the indie platform Mastodon, which is crowdfunded and decentralized. (It is made up of independently operated nodes, called “instances,” on which users can post short messages, or “toots.”) To make money from something—a forest, a sense of self—is often to destroy it. Odell brings up a famous redwood in Oakland called Old Survivor, which is estimated to be almost five hundred years old. Unlike all the other trees of its kind in the area, it was never cut down, because it was runty and twisted and situated on a rocky slope; it appeared unprofitable to loggers. The tree, she writes, is an image of “resistance-in-place,” of something that has escaped capitalist appropriation. As Odell sees it, the only way forward is to be like Old Survivor. We have to be able to do nothing—to merely bear witness, to stay in place, to create shelter for one another—to endure."



"My Newport-inspired Internet cleanse happened to coincide with a handful of other events that made me feel raw and unmanageable. It was the end of winter, with its sudden thaws and strange fluctuations—the type of weather where a day of sunshine feels like a stranger being kind to you when you cry. I had just finished writing a book that had involved going through a lot of my past. The hours per day that I had spent converting my experience into something of professional and financial value were now empty, and I was cognizant of how little time I had spent caring for the people and things around me. I began thinking about my selfhood as a meadow of wildflowers that had been paved over by the Internet. I started frantically buying houseplants.

I also found myself feeling more grateful for my phone than ever. I had become more conscious of why I use technology, and how it meets my needs, as Newport recommended. It’s not nothing that I can text my friends whenever I think about them, or get on Viber and talk to my grandmother in the Philippines, or sit on the B54 bus and distract myself from the standstill traffic by looking up the Fermi paradox and listening to any A Tribe Called Quest song that I want to hear. All these capacities still feel like the stuff of science fiction, and none of them involve Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. It occurred to me that two of the most straightforwardly beloved digital technologies—podcasts and group texts—push against the attention economy’s worst characteristics. Podcasts often demand sustained listening, across hours and weeks, to a few human voices. Group texts are effectively the last noncommercialized social spaces on many millennials’ phones.

On the first day of April, I took stock of my digital experiment. I had not become a different, better person. I had not acquired any high-value leisure activities. But I had felt a sort of persistent ache and wonder that pulled me back to a year that I spent in the Peace Corps, wandering in the dust at the foot of sky-high birch trees, terrified and thrilled at the sensation of being unknowable, mysterious to myself, unseen. I watered my plants, and I loosened my StayFocusd settings, back to forty-five daily minutes. I considered my Freedom parameters, which I had already learned to break, and let them be."
jiatolentino  2019  internet  attention  jennyodell  capitalism  work  busyness  resistance  socialmedia  instagram  twitter  facebook  infooverload  performance  web  online  nature  nextdoor  advertising  thoreau  philosophy  care  caring  maintenance  silence  happiness  anxiety  leisurearts  artleisure  commodification  technology  selfhood  identity  sms  texting  viber  podcasts  grouptexts  digitalminimalism  refusal  calnewport  mobile  phones  smartphones  screentime  ralphwaldoemerson  separatism  interdependence 
27 days ago by robertogreco
Anxiety ‘epidemic’ brewing on college campuses | University of California
"The number of 18- to 26-year-old students who report suffering from anxiety disorder has doubled since 2008, perhaps as a result of rising financial stress and increased time spent on digital devices, according to preliminary findings released Thursday by a team of UC Berkeley researchers.

The percentage of all students nationally who reported being diagnosed with or treated for anxiety disorder climbed from 10 percent in 2008 to 20 percent in 2018, according to the findings by a research team led by Richard Scheffler, a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy and School of Public Health.

Rates of anxiety disorder grew at higher rates for students who identified as transgender, Latinx and black, and they increased the closer all students got to graduation.

“It is what I am calling a ‘new epidemic,’ and that the data supports using that term, on college campuses,” Scheffler said. “We need a heightened national awareness of this very serious epidemic.”

Scheffler and his team examined nine years of data from the annual student National College Health Assessment survey and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth — two nationwide examinations of student well-being. The group also conducted 45-minute interviews with 30 UC Berkeley students who identified as suffering from anxiety.

While Scheffler said he cannot firmly establish the causes for the rise in anxiety, he found strong correlations between anxiety disorder and financial instability, the amount of leisure time spent on digital devices and the level of education attained by a young adult’s mother.

“The correlations and the data are pretty powerful,” he said.

Factors increasing anxiety

Specifically, the findings show that:

• Young adults who come from families that have trouble paying bills are 2.7 times more likely to have anxiety than students who come from families that have no difficulty paying bills.

• Young adults who spend more than 20 hours of leisure time per week on digital devices were 53 percent more likely to have anxiety than young adults who spend fewer than 5 hours a week on digital devices.

• Young adults with mothers who had at least an undergraduate degree had a 45 percent greater chance of having anxiety than young adults whose mothers had less than a college degree. The surveys used in the analysis did not ask about the fathers’ level of education.

Scheffler also found that anxiety is associated with other serious problems beyond the overwhelming feelings of worry or nervousness associated with the disorder.

A student with anxiety is 3.2 times more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs, the findings show. Other negative outcomes correlated with anxiety included increased probability of having been sexually assaulted or attempting suicide.

All factors being equal, Scheffler also found that between 2008 and 2014, young adults with anxiety earned 11 percent less than those without anxiety.

“Anxiety has really very dire consequences for these students,” Scheffler said. “That’s a lot of pain and suffering.”

‘Something’s going on here’
Scheffler, who joined UC Berkeley’s faculty in 1981, said he first began thinking about student anxiety 10 years ago, when he looked out at the 100 students in his lecture hall and saw faces stricken with worry.

“More than half the students were not looking at me, they were looking at their phones or their computers,” Scheffler said. “I told everyone to turn their phones off and put their computers away. I had four or five students who were so addicted, they could not do it. I actually had to go and take their phones away from them.”

“I said to myself, ‘You know, something’s going on here,’” he added. “That was the beginning. And then I watched for several years.”

While Scheffler doesn’t make policy recommendations in his preliminary findings, he said the first step in dealing with the rise in anxiety is increasing awareness among faculty and college administrators.

“I want the faculty and the university leadership here at UC Berkeley and across the country to know that this epidemic is out there, and they need to understand it,” he said. “The students need help.”

To that end, the Berkeley Institute for the Future of Young Americans, a research center affiliated with the Goldman School of Public Policy, is hosting a panel discussion on the findings Thursday afternoon that will feature Chancellor Carol Christ, student leaders and UC Berkeley health system administrators.

“We know that Millennials and GenZ are experiencing anxiety like no previous generation,” said Sarah Swanbeck, the executive director of the institute. “While there’s a lot we still don’t know about what’s causing the spike in anxiety disorder, this report highlights that the problem is actually getting worse. It’s an important signal to college administrators that much more must be done to tackle this issue.”

Scheffler will present his findings and hopes the audience of deans, counselors, students and program coordinators will take his message to heart.

UC Berkeley offers a number of resources for students, including counseling at the Tang Center, help meeting basic needs and other programs."
education  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  anxiety  mentalhealth  psychology  2019 
29 days ago by robertogreco
From Harvard to UChicago, Elite Colleges Are an Anomaly - The Atlantic
"A focus on highly selective schools obscures the experience of the vast majority of American undergraduates."



"Every year at this time, headlines reveal once again what everyone already knows: America’s top institutions are selective—very. Harvard took a record-low 4.5 percent of the applicants to its 2023 class. Yale accepted 5.9 percent, the same as the University of Chicago.

These numbers—albeit wild—are outliers, representing an almost-negligible slice of the United States’ higher-education ecosystem. Approximately 10.8 million undergraduates were enrolled in the country’s more than 2,500 four-year universities in the fall of 2017, according to an Atlantic analysis of raw figures from the Education Department’s data center.

The majority of students—more than 80 percent—attend schools, such as Texas A&M, Rutgers, and Simmons University, that accept more than half their applicants. In 2017, our analysis shows, roughly 3 percent of the country’s bachelor’s-degree candidates were enrolled at a four-year university that accepts fewer than a quarter of undergraduate applicants; only 0.8 percent of undergraduates were attending one of the handful of universities that accept fewer than one in 10 applicants.

Most schools are not these highly selective institutions, and the application process for millions of students is not the stress-inducing nightmare that gets so much public attention. Excluded from the narrative are the thousands of four-year colleges that serve millions of undergraduates, including many historically black colleges and universities—not to mention the 1,000-plus community colleges.

Various characteristics set these more-typical institutions apart from their brand-name counterparts, such as the fact that the former are more likely to enroll Pell grant recipients (read: very low-income individuals), as well as “nontraditional” students (that is, those who are 24 or older and/or have children of their own) and military veterans, according to the New America higher-education policy analyst Iris Palmer. They’re also less likely to be considered research universities—generally those that offer doctoral-degree programs—and more likely to be commuter campuses, according to Georgetown University researchers. Of all the country’s four-year institutions, slightly more than half are private, nonprofit schools, such as Massachusetts’s Endicott College and Texas’s Trinity University. About 29 percent are public—Mississippi’s Alcorn State University, for instance, and the University of California at Merced, near Fresno. The remaining 17 percent are for-profit, such as the College of Westchester in New York, and Oregon’s Pioneer Pacific College.

These schools dominate the options for most American high schoolers; attending them is a far more common experience than that provided by the Dartmouths and Dukes and Davidsons of the country. The landscape of higher education is far more sprawling than a focus on selective schools allows.

Moreover, the student bodies of the upper tier of competitive colleges are not representative of the demographics of the country at large. Research published by Opportunity Insights, a think tank led by the economists Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Nathaniel Hendren, has found that roughly three dozen of the country’s “elite” colleges—schools including Washington University in St. Louis, Trinity College (Connecticut), Tufts, Yale, and Brown—enroll more students from households in the top 1 percent of the income scale than they do students from the bottom 60 percent of that scale. In fact, students from the top 1 percent are 77 times more likely to attend “elite” colleges, here defined as schools that accept fewer than a quarter of undergraduate applicants, than are their peers in the bottom 20 percent.

Another often-overlooked feature of higher education in the U.S.: community colleges. Of the nearly 2 million bachelor’s degrees granted last year, roughly half of the recipients had community-college credit. In some states, a solid majority of bachelor’s-degree recipients at some point attended community college—in Texas, for example, the rate last year was three in four. In the fall of 2017, 5.8 million people were enrolled at community colleges, most of them as part-time students.

The most selective schools produce many of the people who populate the top ranks of American business, media, and political leadership. But the country is much bigger and more multitudinous. The work of educating its people falls by and large not to the small set of famous schools, but to the much wider array of ordinary schools, where millions of Americans go to learn every day."
admissions  collegeadmissions  2019  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  elitism  anxiety  education 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Great American Meritocracy Machine – alex posecznick
"Cheating is a thing. It happens a lot. A few years ago, I was having a conversation with Gregoire, who ran the testing center at an institution I will call “Ravenwood College.” Although Ravenwood accepted SAT and ACT scores, they also had their own in-house entrance exam which was administered on site. Gregoire was meticulous in proctoring exams, checking paperwork and especially photo identification carefully. He recalled one time, when an applicant claimed to have left her ID in the Office of Admissions and said she would be right back. Later, the applicant returned with the ID and escorted by an admissions counselor, but it was an entirely different person.

She tried to persuade Gregoire that he was mistaken – that they had just spoken and she had come back as instructed. But he responded, with a roll of the eyes and a dry comment: “Okay, who did you get to take your exam for you?”

Sound familiar?

The Operation Varsity Blues admissions scandal has splatted hard in the middle of the media, and already faded from our attention. Several days of non-stop coverage and opinion, followed by fatigue. Our attention is nothing if not fickle. It is outrageous that wealthy elites and influential celebrities and their consultants have falsified documents and bribed coaches so their kids can go to extremely selective universities. And it makes sense that this would catch our collective attention. The story fundamentally undermines our trust in American meritocracy.

Maybe it should. Maybe that’s a good thing. Because the most noteworthy thing about the scandal is not the cheating. There are other important observations to be made. And there have been many who have made important observations about how affluent families already game the system in entirely legal ways. But there is more still to consider here.

I’ve spent a lot of my professional life around colleges and universities and seen wonderful and transformative things happen there. But we have to also recognize that a big part of what colleges do is sort students into piles based on merit. “Going to college” is one sort of meritorious pile that employers pay a lot of attention to; and in some circles the most relevant pile is which college we went to. And even affluent parents are under a tremendous amount of pressure to make sure their kids are sorted into the most distinctive pile. There is thus a lot of consequence here.

The contradiction, however, is that the more people obtain degrees, the less distinctive those degrees become. This pushes people to find new ways to be distinctive: a degree from this elite college, or perhaps a master’s degree. But this is an anxiety-fueled, credentials arms race – and although it can benefit colleges and universities financially, I’m not sure it is sustainable. How many loans can the average American family bear?

Elite institutions flourish when demand is high and admission low. Demand is measured by how many people you reject every year. But admission offices need to constantly balance the demands of coaches, wealthy donors, trustees, campus executives, ranking metrics, and alumni. One’s job could be at risk if the wrong donor is unhappy, or if the institution falls in a popular ranking system. We therefore need to acknowledge that colleges and universities are not the ivory towers we like to pretend they are. Not any longer. Colleges and universities are extremely competitive, profit-focused enterprises that must reconcile competing aims: educational mission on one side and market on the other. The big secret is that admission offices are under as much pressure as parents are.

This pressure shifts in less-selective spaces, but does not diminish.

Less-selective institutions flourish based on higher enrollments, because their budgets are so closely tied to the number of students sitting in their classrooms. Such institutions may have some strong standing locally, but like “Ravenwood” College, are not household names across the country. For these colleges, the consequence to a bad year could be layoffs, contractions, budget cuts, or closures. In fact, Ravenwood itself experienced some of these challenges. And this is increasingly a concern: by some accounts, private colleges are closing at the rate of 11 per year!

Public universities are not cushioned from such pressures either; many states have so severely cut funding to public higher education in recent years that they must learn to play the market like private institutions. Colleges and universities want to appear distinctive for the same reasons that we all do.

In short, we have built a massive, comprehensive infrastructure to “objectively” identify, evaluate, measure, and sort us into piles. And this sorting machinery involves high school administrations, college recruiters, College Board test designers, marketing teams, private test prep centers, university administrations, college athletics, federal regulatory agencies, voluntary accrediting agencies, magazine publishers, student loan lenders, employers, faculty, students, and their families.

Attending college does not define our value as human beings, but it would be naïve to pretend that there was no consequence to how we get sorted. When employers take note of a particular name or brand, what they are really interested in is how we’ve been continuously sorted into the right bins across our lifetimes. This scandal (and the many editorials since it broke) has revealed that this infrastructure is not objective. The notion of meritocracy has long been at the heart of the rhetoric of education in American society, but is that machinery broken?

Students of history should know that we’ve never had an objective, merit-measuring machine; this is not the story of national decline that some have been preaching. As many have been pointing out, affluent families systemically use their resources to give their kids advantage all the time – and always have. There are boarding schools, expensive test-prep programs, legacy admissions, private counselors and coaches, private violin lessons and extravagant service trips to other countries that make for a great personal statement. And despite some recent and limited interventions through affirmative action, communities of color have been systematically and appallingly excluded for centuries.

Operation Varsity Blues reveals that although the meritocracy machine is powerful and active, we should not always accept it at face value. Not only in elite space, but at all levels, we must recognize individuals for their achievements while weighing them critically and skeptically. In short, the best measure against a broken meritocracy machine is vigilant, morally-grounded people willing to challenge what they see. As long as we have the credentials arms race, there will be cheats and scammers – and the most noteworthy part of this scandal is not that some cheated, but that the wealthy perpetrators will face consequences.

Unless of course the siren call of some new big scandal distracts us."
meritocracy  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  2019  operationvaristyblues  alexposecznick  markets  degree  sorting  ranking  rankings  society  degreeinflation  employment  elitism  objectivity  testing  standardizedtesting  cheating  credentials  scams  corruption  admissions  anxiety  education 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
For Anxious Kids, Parents May Need To Learn To Let Them Face Their Fears : Shots - Health News : NPR
"For instance, when Joseph would get scared about sleeping alone, Jessica and her husband, Chris Calise, did what he asked and comforted him. "In my mind, I was doing the right thing," she says. "I would say, 'I'm right outside the door' or 'Come sleep in my bed.' I'd do whatever I could to make him feel not anxious or worried."

But this comforting — something psychologists call accommodation — can actually be counterproductive for children with anxiety disorders, Lebowitz says.

"These accommodations lead to worse anxiety in their child, rather than less anxiety," he says. That's because the child is always relying on the parents, he explains, so kids never learn to deal with stressful situations on their own and never learn they have the ability to cope with these moments.

"When you provide a lot of accommodation, the unspoken message is, 'You can't do this, so I'm going to help you,' " he says.

Lebowitz wondered if it would help to train parents to change that message and to encourage their children to face anxieties rather than flee from them.

Currently the established treatment for childhood anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy delivered directly to the child.

When researchers have tried to involve parents in their child's therapy in the past, the outcomes from studies suggested that training parents in cognitive behavioral therapy didn't make much of a difference for the child's recovery. Lebowitz says that this might be because cognitive behavioral therapy asks the child to change their behavior. "When you ask the parents to change their child's behavior, you are setting them up for a very difficult interaction," he says.

Instead, Lebowitz's research explores whether training only the parents without including direct child therapy can help. He is running experiments to compare cognitive behavioral therapy for the child with parent-only training. A study of the approach appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry last month."
children  parenting  anxiety  2019  elilebowitz  fear  psychology  accommodation  comfort  behavior 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Young Adulthood in America: Children Are Grown, but Parenting Doesn’t Stop - The New York Times
"Dad shows up at your job interview. Mom makes your medical appointments. The college bribery scandal is an extreme example of a broader pattern."



"Bribing SAT proctors. Fabricating students’ athletic credentials. Paying off college officials. The actions that some wealthy parents were charged with Tuesday — to secure their children a spot at elite colleges — are illegal and scandalous. But they’re part of a broader pattern, albeit on the extreme end of the continuum: parents’ willingness to do anything it takes to help their grown children succeed.

As college has become more competitive and young adults’ economic prospects less assured, parents have begun spending much more time and money on their children — including well after they turn 18. Modern parenting typically remains hands-on, and gets more expensive, when children become young adults, according to a new survey by Morning Consult for The New York Times.

A significant share of parents, across income levels, say they’re involved in their adult children’s daily lives. That includes making doctor’s appointments, reminding them of school and other deadlines, and offering advice on romantic life, found the survey, which was of a nationally representative sample of 1,508 people ages 18 to 28 and 1,136 parents of people that age. More than half of parents give their adult children some form of monthly financial assistance.

Bribing SAT proctors. Fabricating students’ athletic credentials. Paying off college officials. The actions that some wealthy parents were charged with Tuesday — to secure their children a spot at elite colleges — are illegal and scandalous. But they’re part of a broader pattern, albeit on the extreme end of the continuum: parents’ willingness to do anything it takes to help their grown children succeed.

As college has become more competitive and young adults’ economic prospects less assured, parents have begun spending much more time and money on their children — including well after they turn 18. Modern parenting typically remains hands-on, and gets more expensive, when children become young adults, according to a new survey by Morning Consult for The New York Times.

A significant share of parents, across income levels, say they’re involved in their adult children’s daily lives. That includes making doctor’s appointments, reminding them of school and other deadlines, and offering advice on romantic life, found the survey, which was of a nationally representative sample of 1,508 people ages 18 to 28 and 1,136 parents of people that age. More than half of parents give their adult children some form of monthly financial assistance.

Bribing SAT proctors. Fabricating students’ athletic credentials. Paying off college officials. The actions that some wealthy parents were charged with Tuesday — to secure their children a spot at elite colleges — are illegal and scandalous. But they’re part of a broader pattern, albeit on the extreme end of the continuum: parents’ willingness to do anything it takes to help their grown children succeed.

As college has become more competitive and young adults’ economic prospects less assured, parents have begun spending much more time and money on their children — including well after they turn 18. Modern parenting typically remains hands-on, and gets more expensive, when children become young adults, according to a new survey by Morning Consult for The New York Times.

A significant share of parents, across income levels, say they’re involved in their adult children’s daily lives. That includes making doctor’s appointments, reminding them of school and other deadlines, and offering advice on romantic life, found the survey, which was of a nationally representative sample of 1,508 people ages 18 to 28 and 1,136 parents of people that age. More than half of parents give their adult children some form of monthly financial assistance.

[chart:

"Parents of adults 18 to 28 who said they ...

Reminded their adult children of deadlines they need to meet, including for schoolwork 76%
Made appointments for them, including doctor’s appointments 74%
Offered them advice on relationships and romantic life 42%
Helped them study for a college test 22%
Helped write all or part of a job or internship application 16%
Called or texted to make sure they did not sleep through a class or test 15%
Told them which career to pursue 14%
Helped them get jobs or internships through professional network 14%
Gave more than $500 per month for rent or daily expenses 12%
Helped write an essay or school assignment 11%
Would contact a child's employer if he or she had an issue at work 11%
Contacted a professor or administrator to discuss child's performance or grades at college 8%
Wrote all or part of an essay or other school assignment 4%"]

Colleges now routinely have offices of parent relations. Companies including LinkedIn, Amazon and Google have hosted bring-your-parents-to-work days. Parents have applied to jobs on behalf of their children; lobbied their employers for a raise; and attended job interviews with them. They have called their children’s roommates to resolve disagreements or to check on their children’s whereabouts.

For certain members of the superrich, the tactics have been extraordinary — nobody would equate accusations of bribery with helping a college-aged child with homework or a job application. The factors driving most parents, researchers say, are widening inequality, the growing importance of a college degree, and the fact that for the first time, children of this generation are as likely as not to be less prosperous than their parents.

“It’s the same thing but on a much different level,” said Laura Hamilton, author of “Parenting to a Degree: How Family Matters for College and Beyond” and a sociologist at the University of California, Merced. “It’s really hard for parents to understand why you wouldn’t do anything you could do to assist your children. If you have the influence, the connections and the money, it’s not surprising to me that the parents made these choices.”

Even more typical parental involvement can backfire, many experts say, by leaving young adults ill-prepared for independent adult life, and unable to succeed at the schools and jobs their parents helped them get to.

“When one is hand-held through life, they don’t develop a sense of self-efficacy and life skills,” said Julie Lythcott-Haims, the author of “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success” and a former dean of freshmen at Stanford. “This sense among parents that I’ve got to get my kid to the right future is overlooking the fact that your kid has to get themselves there.”

It’s a continuation of the kind of intensive parenting that has become the norm in the United States. Today’s parents, especially mothers, are spending more time and money on their children than any previous generation — on things like lessons, tutors and test prep. Many parents’ anxiety only intensifies after 18, when children start the education and jobs they’ve been preparing for.

“Professional helicopter parents are really focused on using education to get their children into a professional career,” Ms. Hamilton said. “Their goal is basically to prevent their children from ever making a mistake.”

This kind of behavior is most prevalent among privileged parents, those with collegiate experience and wealth. In places with the biggest gaps between the rich and the poor, rich parents spend an even larger share of their incomes on their children, a recent paper found. The bribery scandal shows how far some parents will go — in one example, parents were accused of paying $1.2 million to help get their child into an Ivy League college.

More commonly, financial help comes in the form of tuition or rent payments. Parents used to spend the most money on their children during high school, according to Consumer Expenditure Survey data analyzed by the sociologists Sabino Kornrich and Frank Furstenberg. But now they spend the most before age 6 and after age 18 and into children’s 20s.

The increases in later years are because so many more children are going to college, which has become much more expensive, Mr. Kornrich said. Also, about a third of children this age still live at home. In the new survey by Morning Consult and The Times, about two-thirds of those who lived with their parents said it was because they could not afford to live on their own or were still in school.

One in three parents said they gave their 18-and-over children $100 or more a month, and 44 percent of those with children in college made tuition or loan payments for them. When asked at what age people should be financially independent from their parents, the largest share of young people said 25 to 28.

Recent research shows that even parents who can’t afford to give their grown children money increasingly provide them with significant support of other kinds. In the survey, wealthier parents were more likely to report giving their children money than less affluent ones were, but many nonfinancial measures of parental support remained consistent across income and education levels.

For example, three-quarters of parents with children ages 18 to 28 said they had reminded their children of school and other deadlines they needed to meet — whether the parents reported a low or high income. Four in ten parents, across income and education levels, said they offered romantic advice to their children.

Parents gave their children less money, professional advice and job application help as they got older. Romantic advice, however, did not taper off.

Parents reported a more engaged relationship with their grown children than they once had with their own parents. They said they spent more time with their children, communicated with them more often and gave more advice than their parents had when they were the same age. … [more]
parenting  2019  helicopterparenting  kevinquealy  clairecainmiller  youngadults  economics  anxiety  depression  inequality  relationships  helicopterparents  education 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Economic Anxiety Is Not Just for White Men
"At some point in his 56 years of life, Cesar Alteri Sayoc—the man charged with mailing explosive devices across the country and who is the mixed son of Italian and Filipino parents—learned to cloak himself in the construct of whiteness and the benefits he likely presumed it would provide.

Among those were the benefit of the doubt—a privilege generally not granted black men in similar economic stations—that being lost, angry and homeless precipitated his descent into violence. This may be true. It is also apparent that Sayoc’s hopelessness could find salvation in bigotry.

He is just one in a spate of white men who found comfort for their white supremacy in America’s highest executive office and sympathy for their socioeconomic conditions in mainstream media over the course of two violent weeks last fall. Soon after Sayoc was identified as the suspect who spent several days sending package bombs to Democratic officials and terrorizing the country, the public learned about his bankruptcy, the house that was foreclosed, and the van out of which he was reportedly living.

In a world where white interests are prioritized, the black lives that they threaten are collateral damage, afterthoughts in the white imagination. And it begs the question: Where is this attention to the systemic failures of capitalism when black people are its victims, let alone if they are criminal perpetrators?"



"Cesar Sayoc bounced around odd jobs and conjured some imagined ones. “He said he worked for the Hard Rock casino booking all their venues,” Debra Gureghian tells me over the phone as she prepares her work at a Fort Lauderdale pizza shop. She supervised Sayoc at the shop for several months, where he drove his infamous white Dodge Ram van on delivery runs. Hard Rock Cafe Inc. denied that it had ever employed him. “I didn’t know any of this was a lie,” Gureghian shares.

When Sayoc wasn’t insulting his boss’ sexuality—“a proud lesbian,” Debra affirms—he was comparing black people to apes and hearkening back to the Hitler regime. Sayoc and others like him, Gureghian observes, “are becoming entrenched in hatred and have become foot soldiers for Donald Trump. The hatred is being bred nightly, daily.”

Gureghian was prepared to defend herself before I had a chance to ask. “I couldn’t fire him. He did his work. Being a non-corporate restaurant, my hands were tied.”

Like Eric Garner and other men dealing with economic insecurity, Sayoc had multiple jobs and no particular career. He, too, became a bouncer. He also had several run-ins with the law. Prior to his gig delivering pizza, Sayoc had multiple arrests. This is about where the comparison ends. As described in a Wired report, Sayoc’s charges “related to fraud, possession of a controlled substance, battery...and more. [He] appears not to have served any jail time in Florida, but was placed on probation in three separate instances.” Sayoc was extended chances in both the legal system and the job market. Despite an extensive record, dating at least as far back as 1986, he kept getting hired.

Unfortunately, that leeway hasn’t been equally extended to black men and women who began falling behind in America’s restructured economy and those still reeling from the devastating blow of the Great Recession. Their rap sheets don’t get ignored by employers. Their anger hasn’t been assuaged by humane news profiles or blessed by America’s high profile public officials.

Black pain, instead, becomes mere background noise. Until it is not. And in those rare moments—when fires rage in post-industrial wreckage—civil unrest is dismissed as rioting. Nonviolent protest framed as extremism. Disillusionment pinned exclusively on Facebook, Russians, and outside agitators instead of our decades of tireless struggle.

When cities no longer provide material comfort and companies abandon us like obsolete machinery, left to rust when we’ve reached our useful life, the pioneers among us engage in a “silent pilgrimage.” From the south to the north and back south again, we search elsewhere in the country’s boundaries looking for a reprieve, searching for a world that has been engineered to never exist. And the cycle continues, as the dreams of our ancestors suffocate, left to die on a concrete sidewalk."
economics  anxiety  malaikajabali  capitalism  2019  race  us  policy  extremism  work  labor  unemployment 
10 weeks ago 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
The Acceptance Rate Of Elite US Colleges From 2015 To 2018, Visualized - Digg
"If you have your heart set on getting into an Ivy League school these days, then we have some bad news for you: it's definitely not going to be an easy ride.

As the number of applications for prestigious colleges has risen — thanks in part to the emergence of Common Application, a process that allows students to apply to multiple schools with ease, and the increase of international applicants — acceptance rates for the elite colleges of the US have declined quite sharply in the past few years. In fact, this year, with the exception of Yale, all Ivy League schools produced the lowest acceptance rates in their respective histories.

To get a better idea of how admission rates have declined in the most selective colleges in the US, we can look to this graph made by Hunter Blakewell of Ivy Academic Coach, which charts the changes in acceptance rates of elite colleges from 2015 to 2018. The 43 colleges included in this chart are academic institutions that had an acceptance rate of less than 20% in 2018.

As you can see, there has been a noticeable decrease in acceptance rates among the majority of elite colleges in the US. Some are more minimal decreases. For instance, Stanford, the most selective school in the US, only saw its acceptance rate drop from 5.04% in 2015 to 4.36% this year.

New York University, on the other hand, has had one of the most drastic drops in admission rates. According to Ivy Academic Coach, NYU's admission rate dropped from 32% in 2016 to merely 19% in 2018, an over-40% decrease within the span of two years.

The drop in acceptance rates among the US's elite colleges is a worrying trend. Although there are studies that show attendance at an elite college may bear little relationship with a person's long-term earnings, further research has clarified that going to an Ivy League school matters less when you're a rich, white man — but if you're a woman or a minority, attendance at an elite university still has a palpable effect on your future income."
colleges  universities  admissions  anxiety  selectivity  2018  visualization  srg  edg  highered  highereducation  ivyleague  elitism  education 
january 2019 by robertogreco
How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation
[some follow-up notes here:
https://annehelen.substack.com/p/how-millennials-grew-up-and-burned
https://annehelen.substack.com/p/its-that-simple ]

[See also:

“Here’s What “Millennial Burnout” Is Like For 16 Different People: “My grandmother was a teacher and her mother was a slave. I was born burned out.””
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/annehelenpetersen/millennial-burnout-perspectives

“This Is What Black Burnout Feels Like: If the American dream isn’t possible for upwardly mobile white people anymore, then what am I even striving for?”
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/tianaclarkpoet/millennial-burnout-black-women-self-care-anxiety-depression

“Millennials Don’t Have a Monopoly on Burnout: This is a societal scourge, not a generational one. So how can we solve it?”
https://newrepublic.com/article/152872/millennials-dont-monopoly-burnout ]

"We didn’t try to break the system, since that’s not how we’d been raised. We tried to win it.

I never thought the system was equitable. I knew it was winnable for only a small few. I just believed I could continue to optimize myself to become one of them. And it’s taken me years to understand the true ramifications of that mindset. I’d worked hard in college, but as an old millennial, the expectations for labor were tempered. We liked to say we worked hard, played hard — and there were clear boundaries around each of those activities. Grad school, then, is where I learned to work like a millennial, which is to say, all the time. My new watchword was “Everything that’s good is bad, everything that’s bad is good”: Things that should’ve felt good (leisure, not working) felt bad because I felt guilty for not working; things that should’ve felt “bad” (working all the time) felt good because I was doing what I thought I should and needed to be doing in order to succeed."



"The social media feed — and Instagram in particular — is thus evidence of the fruits of hard, rewarding labor and the labor itself. The photos and videos that induce the most jealousy are those that suggest a perfect equilibrium (work hard, play hard!) has been reached. But of course, for most of us, it hasn’t. Posting on social media, after all, is a means of narrativizing our own lives: What we’re telling ourselves our lives are like. And when we don’t feel the satisfaction that we’ve been told we should receive from a good job that’s “fulfilling,” balanced with a personal life that’s equally so, the best way to convince yourself you’re feeling it is to illustrate it for others.

For many millennials, a social media presence — on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter — has also become an integral part of obtaining and maintaining a job. The “purest” example is the social media influencer, whose entire income source is performing and mediating the self online. But social media is also the means through which many “knowledge workers” — that is, workers who handle, process, or make meaning of information — market and brand themselves. Journalists use Twitter to learn about other stories, but they also use it to develop a personal brand and following that can be leveraged; people use LinkedIn not just for résumés and networking, but to post articles that attest to their personality (their brand!) as a manager or entrepreneur. Millennials aren’t the only ones who do this, but we’re the ones who perfected and thus set the standards for those who do.

“Branding” is a fitting word for this work, as it underlines what the millennial self becomes: a product. And as in childhood, the work of optimizing that brand blurs whatever boundaries remained between work and play. There is no “off the clock” when at all hours you could be documenting your on-brand experiences or tweeting your on-brand observations. The rise of smartphones makes these behaviors frictionless and thus more pervasive, more standardized. In the early days of Facebook, you had to take pictures with your digital camera, upload them to your computer, and post them in albums. Now, your phone is a sophisticated camera, always ready to document every component of your life — in easily manipulated photos, in short video bursts, in constant updates to Instagram Stories — and to facilitate the labor of performing the self for public consumption.

But the phone is also, and just as essentially, a tether to the “real” workplace. Email and Slack make it so that employees are always accessible, always able to labor, even after they’ve left the physical workplace and the traditional 9-to-5 boundaries of paid labor. Attempts to discourage working “off the clock” misfire, as millennials read them not as permission to stop working, but a means to further distinguish themselves by being available anyway.

“We are encouraged to strategize and scheme to find places, times, and roles where we can be effectively put to work,” Harris, the Kids These Days author, writes. “Efficiency is our existential purpose, and we are a generation of finely honed tools, crafted from embryos to be lean, mean production machines.”

But as sociologist Arne L. Kalleberg points out, that efficiency was supposed to give us more job security, more pay, perhaps even more leisure. In short, better jobs.

Yet the more work we do, the more efficient we’ve proven ourselves to be, the worse our jobs become: lower pay, worse benefits, less job security. Our efficiency hasn’t bucked wage stagnation; our steadfastness hasn’t made us more valuable. If anything, our commitment to work, no matter how exploitative, has simply encouraged and facilitated our exploitation. We put up with companies treating us poorly because we don’t see another option. We don’t quit. We internalize that we’re not striving hard enough. And we get a second gig."



"That’s one of the most ineffable and frustrating expressions of burnout: It takes things that should be enjoyable and flattens them into a list of tasks, intermingled with other obligations that should either be easily or dutifully completed. The end result is that everything, from wedding celebrations to registering to vote, becomes tinged with resentment and anxiety and avoidance. Maybe my inability to get the knives sharpened is less about being lazy and more about being too good, for too long, at being a millennial.

That’s one of the most ineffable and frustrating expressions of burnout: It takes things that should be enjoyable and flattens them into a list of tasks, intermingled with other obligations that should either be easily or dutifully completed. The end result is that everything, from wedding celebrations to registering to vote, becomes tinged with resentment and anxiety and avoidance. Maybe my inability to get the knives sharpened is less about being lazy and more about being too good, for too long, at being a millennial."



"In his writing about burnout, the psychoanalyst Cohen describes a client who came to him with extreme burnout: He was the quintessential millennial child, optimized for perfect performance, which paid off when he got his job as a high-powered finance banker. He’d done everything right, and was continuing to do everything right in his job. One morning, he woke up, turned off his alarm, rolled over, and refused to go to work. He never went to work again. He was “intrigued to find the termination of his employment didn’t bother him.”

In the movie version of this story, this man moves to an island to rediscover the good life, or figures out he loves woodworking and opens a shop. But that’s the sort of fantasy solution that makes millennial burnout so pervasive. You don’t fix burnout by going on vacation. You don’t fix it through “life hacks,” like inbox zero, or by using a meditation app for five minutes in the morning, or doing Sunday meal prep for the entire family, or starting a bullet journal. You don’t fix it by reading a book on how to “unfu*k yourself.” You don’t fix it with vacation, or an adult coloring book, or “anxiety baking,” or the Pomodoro Technique, or overnight fucking oats.

The problem with holistic, all-consuming burnout is that there’s no solution to it. You can’t optimize it to make it end faster. You can’t see it coming like a cold and start taking the burnout-prevention version of Airborne. The best way to treat it is to first acknowledge it for what it is — not a passing ailment, but a chronic disease — and to understand its roots and its parameters. That’s why people I talked to felt such relief reading the “mental load” cartoon, and why reading Harris’s book felt so cathartic for me: They don’t excuse why we behave and feel the way we do. They just describe those feelings and behaviors — and the larger systems of capitalism and patriarchy that contribute to them — accurately.

To describe millennial burnout accurately is to acknowledge the multiplicity of our lived reality — that we’re not just high school graduates, or parents, or knowledge workers, but all of the above — while recognizing our status quo. We’re deeply in debt, working more hours and more jobs for less pay and less security, struggling to achieve the same standards of living as our parents, operating in psychological and physical precariousness, all while being told that if we just work harder, meritocracy will prevail, and we’ll begin thriving. The carrot dangling in front of us is the dream that the to-do list will end, or at least become far more manageable.

But individual action isn’t enough. Personal choices alone won’t keep the planet from dying, or get Facebook to quit violating our privacy. To do that, you need paradigm-shifting change. Which helps explain why so many millennials increasingly identify with democratic socialism and are embracing unions: We are beginning to understand what ails us, and it’s not something an oxygen facial or a treadmill desk can fix.

Until or in lieu of a … [more]
capitalism  neoliberalism  millennials  burnout  chores  work  parenting  2019  annehelenpetersen  cv  society  us  performance  meritocracy  inequality  competition  labor  leisure  perfectionism  success  schooliness  helicopterparenting  children  academia  economics  genx  genz  generations  generationx  socialmedia  instagram  balance  life  living  gigeconomy  passion  self-care  self-optimization  exhaustion  anxiety  decisionmaking  congnitiveload  insecurity  precarity  poverty  steadiness  laziness  procrastination  helicopterparents  work-lifebalance  canon  malcolmharris  joshcohen  hustling  hustle  overwork  arnekalleberg  efficiency  productivity  workplace  email  adulting  personalbranding  linkedin  facebook  consumption  homelessness  context  behavior 
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
You Don’t Want Hygge. You Want Social Democracy.
"It’s the holidays, and you long to be cozy.

You want to curl up in a plush armchair next to a crackling fire. You want the softest of blankets and wooliest of sweaters. You want to devour grandma’s pecan fudge, get tipsy on eggnog with your cousins, and watch Miracle on 34th Street — mom’s favorite — for the thirty-fourth time. Or maybe neither Christmas nor family gatherings are your thing, but you like the idea of sipping hot toddies and playing board games with a few close friends while outside the snow falls and the lights twinkle.

But you can’t have it, because you couldn’t spring for a plane ticket. Or relatives are in town, but times are tight, and it seemed irresponsible to pass up the Christmas overtime pay. Maybe everything circumstantially fell into place, but you can’t relax. You’re eyeing your inbox, anxious about the work that’s not getting done. You’re last-minute shopping, pinching pennies, thinking Scrooge had some fair points. Or you’re hiding in your childhood bedroom, binge-watching television and scrolling social media, because a rare break from the pressures of daily life feels more like an occasion to zone out than to celebrate and be merry.

Either way, you feel terrible, because you know that someone somewhere is literally roasting chestnuts on an open fire, and you’re missing out.

The Danes have a word for the thing you desperately want but can’t seem to manifest: hygge.

The word isn’t easy to translate. It comes from a Norwegian word that means “wellbeing,” but the contemporary Danish definition is more expansive than that.

In The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, author Meik Wiking writes, “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It’s about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allowed to let our guard down.”

You can have hygge any time, but Danes strongly associate it with Christmas, the most hyggelig time of the year. When asked what things they associate most with hygge, Danes answered, in order of importance: hot drinks, candles, fireplaces, Christmas, board games, music, holiday, sweets and cake, cooking, and books. Seven out of ten Danes say hygge is best experienced at home, and they even have a word for it — hjemmehygge, or home hygge.

But Wiking stresses that while hygge has strong aesthetic properties, it’s more than the sum of its parts. You don’t just see it, you feel it.

“Hygge is an indication that you trust the ones you are with and where you are,” he writes, “that you have expanded your comfort zone to include other people and you feel you can be completely yourself around other people.” The opposite of hygge is alienation.

It’s no coincidence that this concept is both native to and universally understood in the same country that consistently dominates the World Happiness Report and other annual surveys of general contentment. On rare occasions when Denmark is surpassed by another country, that country is always a Scandinavian neighbor.

What makes people in these countries happier than the rest of us is actually really simple. Danes and their neighbors have greater access to the building blocks of happiness: time, company, and security.

Scandinavians don’t have these things just because they value them more, or for cultural reasons that are congenital, irreplicable, and beyond our reach. People all over the world value time, company, and security. What Scandinavians do have is a political-economic arrangement that better facilitates the regular expression of those values. That arrangement is social democracy.

The Politics of Hygge

Denmark is not a socialist country, though like its neighbor Sweden, it did come close to collectivizing industry in the 1970s. That effort was driven by “unions, popular movements, and left parties,” write Andreas Møller Mulvad and Rune Møller Stahl in Jacobin. “It was these mass forces — not benevolent elites, carefully weighing the alternatives before deciding on an enlightened mix of capitalism and socialism — who were the architects and impetus behind the Nordic model. They are the ones responsible for making the Nordic countries among the happiest and most democratic in the world.”

A strong capitalist offensive stopped this Scandinavian coalition from realizing the transition to socialism, and the legacy of their efforts is a delicate compromise. The private sector persists, but taxes are both progressive and high across the board. The country spends 55 percent of its total GDP publicly, making it the third-highest government spender per capita in the world. Meanwhile, the power of employers is partially checked by strong unions, to which two-thirds of Danes belong.

This redistributive arrangement significantly reduces the class stratification that comes from capitalism. As a result, Denmark has one of the highest degrees of economic equality in the world.

All of that public spending goes to funding a strong welfare state. Everybody pays in, and everybody reaps the rewards. This egalitarian, humane, and solidaristic model allows the values associated with hygge to flourish. It also gives people more opportunities to act on them.

In Denmark, health care is free at the point of service. Same goes for education, all the way through college and even grad school. Twenty percent of the Danish housing stock is social housing, regulated and financially supported by the state but owned in common by tenants, and organized in the “tradition of tenants’ participation and self-governance.” Denmark offers year-long paid parental leave, and guarantees universal child care for all children beginning the moment that leave ends, when the child is one year old.

Similarly, due in large part to the past and and present strength of unions, Denmark has worker-friendly labor laws and standards which make for a more harmonious work-life balance. Danes get five weeks’ paid vacation, plus an additional nine public holidays. Unlike the United States, Denmark has a national paid sick-leave policy. Denmark also has generous unemployment benefits and a wage subsidy program for people who want to work but, for reasons outside their control, need more flexible arrangements.

The normal work week in Denmark is set at thirty-seven hours, and people tend to stick to it. Only 2 percent of Danes report working very long hours. In a survey of OECD countries Denmark ranked fourth for people spending the most time devoted to leisure and personal care. (The US ranked thirtieth.)

All of this has a profound effect on individuals’ ability to experience pleasure, trust, comfort, intimacy, peace of mind — and of course, the composite of these things, hygge.

For one thing, there are only so many hours in a day. And there are some activities that make us happy, and some that make us unhappy.

The Princeton Affect and Time Survey found that the activities that make us happiest include playing with children, listening to music, being outdoors, going to parties, exercising, hanging out with friends, and spending time with pets. (These are also the activities that Danes associate with hygge.) The ones that make us least happy include paid work, domestic work, home maintenance and repairs, running errands, personal medical care, and taking care of financial responsibilities.

Everyone has to do activities in the unhappy category in order to keep their affairs in order. But it makes sense that if you take some of those responsibilities off people’s plate and design the economy to give them more time to do activities in the happy category, they will be more content and lead more enriching lives.

Many working-class Americans don’t have much time for activities in the happy category, because they work multiple jobs or long hours and also have to keep a household in order without much assistance. Many more are afraid that if they take time away from their stressful responsibilities, they will overlook something important and fall behind, and there will be no social safety net to catch them — a pervasive anxiety that creeps up the class hierarchy. This breeds alienation, not intimacy.

Additionally, working people in highly capitalist countries, where economic life is characterized by cutthroat competition and the punishment for losing the competition is destitution, tend to develop hostile relationships to one another, which is not very hyggelig.

The social-democratic model is predicated instead on solidarity: my neighbor and I both pay taxes so that we can both have a high standard of living. We care for each other on the promise that we will each be cared for. By working together instead of against each other, we both get what we need. Universal social programs like those that make up the Scandinavian welfare states are thus engines of solidarity, impressing upon people that their neighbor is not an opponent or an obstacle, but a partner in building and maintaining society.

By pitting people against each other, neoliberal capitalism promotes suspicion and animosity. This frequently maps onto social divisions and manifests as racism, sexism, xenophobia, and so on. But it also just makes people guarded and antisocial in general. People who live in social democracies are far from invulnerable to prejudice or misanthropy, but the social compact remains more likely to promote kindness, trust, and goodwill among people than neoliberal capitalism — and indeed the Danes are some of the most trusting people in the world, of friends and strangers alike.

One of these political-economic arrangements strengthens people’s connection to the fundamentals of happiness, and of hygge — time, company, and security — while the other severs it. The abundance or scarcity of these fundamentals forms the material basis of collective social life.

The Ambiance Agenda

Hygge is not just a cultural … [more]
hygge  meaganday  2018  denmark  socialdemocracy  socialism  socialsafetynet  politics  policy  happiness  comfort  us  coreyrobin  scandinavia  solidarity  wellbeing  responsibility  uncertainty  anxiety  neoliberalism  capitalism  risk  civics  qualityoflife  pleasure  multispecies  family  trust  intimacy  peaceofmind  leisure  work  labor  health  healthcare  unions  time  slow  fragility  taxes  inequality  company  security 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Laziness Does Not Exist – Devon Price – Medium
"I’ve been a psychology professor since 2012. In the past six years, I’ve witnessed students of all ages procrastinate on papers, skip presentation days, miss assignments, and let due dates fly by. I’ve seen promising prospective grad students fail to get applications in on time; I’ve watched PhD candidates take months or years revising a single dissertation draft; I once had a student who enrolled in the same class of mine two semesters in a row, and never turned in anything either time.

I don’t think laziness was ever at fault.

Ever.

In fact, I don’t believe that laziness exists.



I’m a social psychologist, so I’m interested primarily in the situational and contextual factors that drive human behavior. When you’re seeking to predict or explain a person’s actions, looking at the social norms, and the person’s context, is usually a pretty safe bet. Situational constraints typically predict behavior far better than personality, intelligence, or other individual-level traits.

So when I see a student failing to complete assignments, missing deadlines, or not delivering results in other aspects of their life, I’m moved to ask: what are the situational factors holding this student back? What needs are currently not being met? And, when it comes to behavioral “laziness”, I’m especially moved to ask: what are the barriers to action that I can’t see?

There are always barriers. Recognizing those barriers— and viewing them as legitimate — is often the first step to breaking “lazy” behavior patterns.



It’s really helpful to respond to a person’s ineffective behavior with curiosity rather than judgment. I learned this from a friend of mine, the writer and activist Kimberly Longhofer (who publishes under Mik Everett). Kim is passionate about the acceptance and accommodation of disabled people and homeless people. Their writing about both subjects is some of the most illuminating, bias-busting work I’ve ever encountered. Part of that is because Kim is brilliant, but it’s also because at various points in their life, Kim has been both disabled and homeless.

Kim is the person who taught me that judging a homeless person for wanting to buy alcohol or cigarettes is utter folly. When you’re homeless, the nights are cold, the world is unfriendly, and everything is painfully uncomfortable. Whether you’re sleeping under a bridge, in a tent, or at a shelter, it’s hard to rest easy. You are likely to have injuries or chronic conditions that bother you persistently, and little access to medical care to deal with it. You probably don’t have much healthy food.

In that chronically uncomfortable, over-stimulating context, needing a drink or some cigarettes makes fucking sense. As Kim explained to me, if you’re laying out in the freezing cold, drinking some alcohol may be the only way to warm up and get to sleep. If you’re under-nourished, a few smokes may be the only thing that kills the hunger pangs. And if you’re dealing with all this while also fighting an addiction, then yes, sometimes you just need to score whatever will make the withdrawal symptoms go away, so you can survive.


[image of cover of "Self-Published Kindling: The Memoirs of a Homeless Bookstore Owner," by Mik Everett with caption "Kim’s incredible book about their experiences being homeless while running a bookstore."]

Few people who haven’t been homeless think this way. They want to moralize the decisions of poor people, perhaps to comfort themselves about the injustices of the world. For many, it’s easier to think homeless people are, in part, responsible for their suffering than it is to acknowledge the situational factors.

And when you don’t fully understand a person’s context — what it feels like to be them every day, all the small annoyances and major traumas that define their life — it’s easy to impose abstract, rigid expectations on a person’s behavior. All homeless people should put down the bottle and get to work. Never mind that most of them have mental health symptoms and physical ailments, and are fighting constantly to be recognized as human. Never mind that they are unable to get a good night’s rest or a nourishing meal for weeks or months on end. Never mind that even in my comfortable, easy life, I can’t go a few days without craving a drink or making an irresponsible purchase. They have to do better.

But they’re already doing the best they can. I’ve known homeless people who worked full-time jobs, and who devoted themselves to the care of other people in their communities. A lot of homeless people have to navigate bureaucracies constantly, interfacing with social workers, case workers, police officers, shelter staff, Medicaid staff, and a slew of charities both well-meaning and condescending. It’s a lot of fucking work to be homeless. And when a homeless or poor person runs out of steam and makes a “bad decision”, there’s a damn good reason for it.

If a person’s behavior doesn’t make sense to you, it is because you are missing a part of their context. It’s that simple. I’m so grateful to Kim and their writing for making me aware of this fact. No psychology class, at any level, taught me that. But now that it is a lens that I have, I find myself applying it to all kinds of behaviors that are mistaken for signs of moral failure — and I’ve yet to find one that can’t be explained and empathized with.



Let’s look at a sign of academic “laziness” that I believe is anything but: procrastination.

People love to blame procrastinators for their behavior. Putting off work sure looks lazy, to an untrained eye. Even the people who are actively doing the procrastinating can mistake their behavior for laziness. You’re supposed to be doing something, and you’re not doing it — that’s a moral failure right? That means you’re weak-willed, unmotivated, and lazy, doesn’t it?

For decades, psychological research has been able to explain procrastination as a functioning problem, not a consequence of laziness. When a person fails to begin a project that they care about, it’s typically due to either a) anxiety about their attempts not being “good enough” or b) confusion about what the first steps of the task are. Not laziness. In fact, procrastination is more likely when the task is meaningful and the individual cares about doing it well.

When you’re paralyzed with fear of failure, or you don’t even know how to begin a massive, complicated undertaking, it’s damn hard to get shit done. It has nothing to do with desire, motivation, or moral upstandingness. Procastinators can will themselves to work for hours; they can sit in front of a blank word document, doing nothing else, and torture themselves; they can pile on the guilt again and again — none of it makes initiating the task any easier. In fact, their desire to get the damn thing done may worsen their stress and make starting the task harder.

The solution, instead, is to look for what is holding the procrastinator back. If anxiety is the major barrier, the procrastinator actually needs to walk away from the computer/book/word document and engage in a relaxing activity. Being branded “lazy” by other people is likely to lead to the exact opposite behavior.

Often, though, the barrier is that procrastinators have executive functioning challenges — they struggle to divide a large responsibility into a series of discrete, specific, and ordered tasks. Here’s an example of executive functioning in action: I completed my dissertation (from proposal to data collection to final defense) in a little over a year. I was able to write my dissertation pretty easily and quickly because I knew that I had to a) compile research on the topic, b) outline the paper, c) schedule regular writing periods, and d) chip away at the paper, section by section, day by day, according to a schedule I had pre-determined.

Nobody had to teach me to slice up tasks like that. And nobody had to force me to adhere to my schedule. Accomplishing tasks like this is consistent with how my analytical, hyper-focused, Autistic little brain works. Most people don’t have that ease. They need an external structure to keep them writing — regular writing group meetings with friends, for example — and deadlines set by someone else. When faced with a major, massive project, most people want advice for how to divide it into smaller tasks, and a timeline for completion. In order to track progress, most people require organizational tools, such as a to-do list, calendar, datebook, or syllabus.

Needing or benefiting from such things doesn’t make a person lazy. It just means they have needs. The more we embrace that, the more we can help people thrive.



I had a student who was skipping class. Sometimes I’d see her lingering near the building, right before class was about to start, looking tired. Class would start, and she wouldn’t show up. When she was present in class, she was a bit withdrawn; she sat in the back of the room, eyes down, energy low. She contributed during small group work, but never talked during larger class discussions.

A lot of my colleagues would look at this student and think she was lazy, disorganized, or apathetic. I know this because I’ve heard how they talk about under-performing students. There’s often rage and resentment in their words and tone — why won’t this student take my class seriously? Why won’t they make me feel important, interesting, smart?

But my class had a unit on mental health stigma. It’s a passion of mine, because I’m a neuroatypical psychologist. I know how unfair my field is to people like me. The class & I talked about the unfair judgments people levy against those with mental illness; how depression is interpreted as laziness, how mood swings are framed as manipulative, how people with “severe” mental illnesses are … [more]
devonprice  2018  laziness  procrastination  psychology  mikeverett  kimberlylonghofer  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  mentalhealth  executivefunctioning  neurodiversity  discrimination  stress  anxiety  trauma  colleges  universities  academia  unschooling  deschooling  depression  mentalillness 
december 2018 by robertogreco
The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting - The New York Times
"Experts agree that investing in children is a positive thing — they benefit from time with their parents, stimulating activities and supportive parenting styles. As low-income parents have increased the time they spend teaching and reading to their children, the readiness gap between kindergarten students from rich and poor families has shrunk. As parental supervision has increased, most serious crimes against children have declined significantly.

But it’s also unclear how much of children’s success is actually determined by parenting.

“It’s still an open question whether it’s the parenting practices themselves that are making the difference, or is it simply growing up with college-educated parents in an environment that’s richer in many dimensions?” said Liana Sayer, a sociologist at the University of Maryland and director of the Time Use Laboratory there. “I don’t think any of these studies so far have been able to answer whether these kids would be doing well as adults regardless, simply because of resources.”

There has been a growing movement against the relentlessness of modern-day parenting. Utah passed a free-range parenting law, exempting parents from accusations of neglect if they let their children play or commute unattended.

Psychologists and others have raised alarms about children’s high levels of stress and dependence on their parents, and the need to develop independence, self-reliance and grit. Research has shown that children with hyper-involved parents have more anxiety and less satisfaction with life, and that when children play unsupervised, they build social skills, emotional maturity and executive function.

Parents, particularly mothers, feel stress, exhaustion and guilt at the demands of parenting this way, especially while holding a job. American time use diaries show that the time women spend parenting comes at the expense of sleep, time alone with their partners and friends, leisure time and housework. Some pause their careers or choose not to have children. Others, like Ms. Sentilles, live in a state of anxiety. She doesn’t want to hover, she said. But trying to oversee homework, limit screen time and attend to Isaac’s needs, she feels no choice.

“At any given moment, everything could just fall apart,” she said.

“On the one hand, I love my work,” she said. “But the way it’s structured in this country, where there’s not really child care and there’s this sense that something is wrong with you if you aren’t with your children every second when you’re not at work? It isn’t what I think feminists thought they were signing up for.”"
parenting  helicopterparents  anxiety  stress  surveillance  children  inequality  2018  schools  schooliness  glvo  hovering  capitalism  economics  freedom  free-rangeparenting  unschooling  deschooling  learning  youth  psychology  society  attention  helicopterparenting 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Opinion | What Straight-A Students Get Wrong - The New York Times
"A decade ago, at the end of my first semester teaching at Wharton, a student stopped by for office hours. He sat down and burst into tears. My mind started cycling through a list of events that could make a college junior cry: His girlfriend had dumped him; he had been accused of plagiarism. “I just got my first A-minus,” he said, his voice shaking.

Year after year, I watch in dismay as students obsess over getting straight A’s. Some sacrifice their health; a few have even tried to sue their school after falling short. All have joined the cult of perfectionism out of a conviction that top marks are a ticket to elite graduate schools and lucrative job offers.

I was one of them. I started college with the goal of graduating with a 4.0. It would be a reflection of my brainpower and willpower, revealing that I had the right stuff to succeed. But I was wrong.

The evidence is clear: Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years. For example, at Google, once employees are two or three years out of college, their grades have no bearing on their performance. (Of course, it must be said that if you got D’s, you probably didn’t end up at Google.)

Academic grades rarely assess qualities like creativity, leadership and teamwork skills, or social, emotional and political intelligence. Yes, straight-A students master cramming information and regurgitating it on exams. But career success is rarely about finding the right solution to a problem — it’s more about finding the right problem to solve.

In a classic 1962 study, a team of psychologists tracked down America’s most creative architects and compared them with their technically skilled but less original peers. One of the factors that distinguished the creative architects was a record of spiky grades. “In college our creative architects earned about a B average,” Donald MacKinnon wrote. “In work and courses which caught their interest they could turn in an A performance, but in courses that failed to strike their imagination, they were quite willing to do no work at all.” They paid attention to their curiosity and prioritized activities that they found intrinsically motivating — which ultimately served them well in their careers.

Getting straight A’s requires conformity. Having an influential career demands originality. In a study of students who graduated at the top of their class, the education researcher Karen Arnold found that although they usually had successful careers, they rarely reached the upper echelons. “Valedictorians aren’t likely to be the future’s visionaries,” Dr. Arnold explained. “They typically settle into the system instead of shaking it up.”

This might explain why Steve Jobs finished high school with a 2.65 G.P.A., J.K. Rowling graduated from the University of Exeter with roughly a C average, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. got only one A in his four years at Morehouse.

If your goal is to graduate without a blemish on your transcript, you end up taking easier classes and staying within your comfort zone. If you’re willing to tolerate the occasional B, you can learn to program in Python while struggling to decipher “Finnegans Wake.” You gain experience coping with failures and setbacks, which builds resilience.

Straight-A students also miss out socially. More time studying in the library means less time to start lifelong friendships, join new clubs or volunteer. I know from experience. I didn’t meet my 4.0 goal; I graduated with a 3.78. (This is the first time I’ve shared my G.P.A. since applying to graduate school 16 years ago. Really, no one cares.) Looking back, I don’t wish my grades had been higher. If I could do it over again, I’d study less. The hours I wasted memorizing the inner workings of the eye would have been better spent trying out improv comedy and having more midnight conversations about the meaning of life.

So universities: Make it easier for students to take some intellectual risks. Graduate schools can be clear that they don’t care about the difference between a 3.7 and a 3.9. Colleges could just report letter grades without pluses and minuses, so that any G.P.A. above a 3.7 appears on transcripts as an A. It might also help to stop the madness of grade inflation, which creates an academic arms race that encourages too many students to strive for meaningless perfection. And why not let students wait until the end of the semester to declare a class pass-fail, instead of forcing them to decide in the first month?

Employers: Make it clear you value skills over straight A’s. Some recruiters are already on board: In a 2003 study of over 500 job postings, nearly 15 percent of recruiters actively selected against students with high G.P.A.s (perhaps questioning their priorities and life skills), while more than 40 percent put no weight on grades in initial screening.

Straight-A students: Recognize that underachieving in school can prepare you to overachieve in life. So maybe it’s time to apply your grit to a new goal — getting at least one B before you graduate."
education  grades  grading  colleges  universities  academia  2018  adamgrant  psychology  gpa  assessment  criticalthinking  anxiety  stress  learning  howwelearn  motivation  gradschool  jkrowling  stevejobs  martinlutherkingjr  perfectionism  srg  edg  mlk 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Does It Matter Where You Go to College? - The Atlantic
"Research suggests that elite colleges don’t really help rich white guys. But they can have a big effect if you’re not rich, not white, or not a guy."


"These findings send three different messages to three different parties.

First, to high-strung affluent parents, well-compensated counselors, and other members of the elite-admissions industrial complex: Just relax, okay? You are inflicting on American teenagers a ludicrous amount of pointless anxiety. Even if you subscribe to the dubious idea that young people ought to maximize for vocational prestige and income, the research suggests that elite colleges are not critical to achieving those ends. In the aggregate, individual characteristics swamp institutional characteristics. It’s more important to be hardworking and curious than to receive a certain thick envelope.

Second, to academics researching the benefits of college: Keep working. The robust debate over the benefits of attending an elite college lives concentrically within a larger conversation about whether college is worth it in the first place. It’s critical—to not only the country’s economic future, but hundreds of millions of individual Americans’ futures—that we learn more about how and why college matters, so that it can help the right people.

Third, to admissions officers of elite colleges: Do better. America’s most selective colleges can, it seems, change the lives of minorities and low-income students. But they’re still bastions of privilege. They enroll more students from the top 1 percent of the income scale than the entire bottom 60 percent. In this way, elite institutions are like factories of social mobility being used as storage facilities for privilege; they have the potential to use their space to manufacture opportunity at scale, but mostly they clear out real estate for the already rich, who are going to be fine, anyway. In America today, high-income parents are desperate to find the right colleges for their kids. It should be the opposite: The highest-income colleges should be desperate to find the right kids for their seats."
derekthompson  colleges  universities  data  education  highered  highereducation  admissions  addedvalue  anxiety  parenting  competition  inequality  academia 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Talent. A Football Scholarship. Then Crushing Depression. - The New York Times
"Maybe you have never heard of Isaiah Renfro. He did not start at the University of Washington, nor did he play in the N.F.L. But you should know his struggle. There are scores like him, young athletes on college campuses grappling with mental illness — a crisis that is only now getting serious attention.

What experts know is this: Recent studies place suicide as the third leading cause of death for college athletes, behind motor vehicle accidents and medical issues.

And nearly 25 percent of college athletes who participated in a widely touted 2016 study led by researchers at Drexel University displayed signs of depressive symptoms.

Since that percentage is roughly in line with the general college population, the findings countered a long-held belief that athletes are less likely than their peers to become depressed — largely because they benefit from regular, emotion-lifting exercise.

As the stigma of mental illness has eased, the reporting of cases has increased. But experts also believe that young athletes now face more stress, which contributes to mental illness, than ever before.

“Performance and parental pressure, social media, more games on TV, more players who think they can go to the pros,” said Timothy Neal, the director of athletic training education at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a nationally recognized expert on mental health and college sports.

The N.C.A.A. is playing catch-up.

“We are still so young in addressing this,” said Brian Hainline, a neurologist who in 2013 became the N.C.A.A.’s first chief medical officer. He cited increasing concern not only about depression, but also about bipolar, eating, anxiety and attention deficit disorders, as well as addiction. “Mental health is our single most important priority.”

What happened to Isaiah Renfro seemed to be a result of this combustible mix, where brain chemistry meets the burdens of reaching success and then maintaining it.

He was hardly alone in his struggle."
athletics  anxiety  mentalhealth  depression  2018  universities  colleges  highered  highereducation  parenting  expectations  americanfootball  pressure  health 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Opinion | Everything Is for Sale Now. Even Us. - The New York Times
"Almost everyone I know now has some kind of hustle, whether job, hobby, or side or vanity project. Share my blog post, buy my book, click on my link, follow me on Instagram, visit my Etsy shop, donate to my Kickstarter, crowdfund my heart surgery. It’s as though we are all working in Walmart on an endless Black Friday of the soul.

Being sold to can be socially awkward, for sure, but when it comes to corrosive self-doubt, being the seller is a thousand times worse. The constant curation of a salable self demanded by the new economy can be a special hellspring of anxiety.

Like many modern workers, I find that only a small percentage of my job is now actually doing my job. The rest is performing a million acts of unpaid micro-labor that can easily add up to a full-time job in itself. Tweeting and sharing and schmoozing and blogging. Liking and commenting on others’ tweets and shares and schmoozes and blogs. Ambivalently “maintaining a presence on social media,” attempting to sell a semi-fictional, much more appealing version of myself in the vain hope that this might somehow help me sell some actual stuff at some unspecified future time.

The trick of doing this well, of course, is to act as if you aren’t doing it at all — as if this is simply how you like to unwind in the evening, by sharing your views on pasta sauce with your 567,000 followers. Seeing the slick charm of successful online “influencers” spurs me to download e-courses on how to “crack Instagram” or “develop my personal brand story.” But as soon as I hand over my credit card details, I am flooded with vague self-disgust. I instantly abandon the courses and revert to my usual business model — badgering and guilting my friends across a range of online platforms, employing the personal brand story of “pleeeeeeeeeeaassssee.”

As my friend Helena (Buy her young adult novel! Available on Amazon!) puts it, buying, promoting or sharing your friend’s “thing” is now a tax payable for modern friendship. But this expectation becomes its own monster. I find myself auditing my friends’ loyalty based on their efforts. Who bought it? Who shared it on Facebook? Was it a share from the heart, or a “duty share” — with that telltale, torturous phrasing that squeaks past the minimum social requirement but deftly dissociates the sharer from the product: “My friend wrote a book — I haven’t read it, but maybe you should.”

In this cutthroat human marketplace, we are worth only as much as the sum of our metrics, so checking those metrics can become obsessive. What’s my Amazon ranking? How many likes? How many retweets? How many followers? (The word “followers” is in itself a clear indicator of something psychologically unhealthy going on — the standard term for the people we now spend the bulk of our time with sounds less like a functioning human relationship than the P.R. materials of the Branch Davidians.)

Of course a fair chunk of this mass selling frenzy is motivated by money. With a collapsing middle class, as well as close to zero job security and none of the benefits associated with it, self-marketing has become, for many, a necessity in order to eat.

But what’s more peculiar is just how imperfectly all this correlates with financial need or even greed. The sad truth is that many of us would probably make more money stacking shelves or working at the drive-through than selling our “thing.” The real prize is deeper, more existential. What this is really about, for many of us, is a roaring black hole of psychological need.

After a couple of decades of constant advice to “follow our passions” and “live our dreams,” for a certain type of relatively privileged modern freelancer, nothing less than total self-actualization at work now seems enough. But this leaves us with an angsty mismatch between personal expectation and economic reality. So we shackle our self-worth to the success of these projects — the book or blog post or range of crocheted stuffed penguins becomes a proxy for our very soul. In the new economy you can be your own boss and your own ugly bug brooch.

Kudos to whichever neoliberal masterminds came up with this system. They sell this infinitely seductive torture to us as “flexible working” or “being the C.E.O. of You!” and we jump at it, salivating, because on its best days, the freelance life really can be all of that.

But as long as we are happy to be paid for our labor in psychological rather than financial rewards, those at the top are delighted to comply. While we grub and scrabble and claw at one another chasing these tiny pellets of self-esteem, the bug-brooch barons still pocket the actual cash.

This is the future, and research suggests that it’s a rat race that is already taking a severe toll on our psyches. A 2017 study suggests that this trend toward increasingly market-driven human interaction is making us paranoid, jittery, self-critical and judgmental.

Analyzing data from the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale from 1989 to 2016, the study’s authors found a surprisingly large increase over this period in three distinct types of perfectionism: “Self-orientated,” whereby we hold ourselves to increasingly unrealistic standards and judge ourselves harshly when we fail to meet them; “socially prescribed,” in which we are convinced that other people judge us harshly; and “other-orientated,” in which we get our revenge by judging them just as harshly. These elements of perfectionism positively correlate with mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and even suicide, which are also on the rise.

The authors describe this new-normal mind-set as a “sense of self overwhelmed by pathological worry and a fear of negative social evaluation.” Hmm. Maybe I should make that my personal brand story."
hustle  anxiety  capitalism  precarity  money  passion  2018  socialmedia  gigeconomy  microlabor  labor  work  perfectionism  happiness  ruthwhippman  sales  depression  mentalhealth  alwayson  personalbranding 
november 2018 by robertogreco
BEFORE YOU GO TO SCHOOL, WATCH THIS || WHAT IS SCHOOL FOR? - YouTube
"EVERY STUDENT NEEDS TO SEE THIS!

Check out the Innovation Playlist
http://www.innovationplaylist.org

Directed by Valentina Vee
Produced by Lixe Hernandez
Shot by Andrey Misyutin
Motion Design by Hodja Berlev (Neonbyte)
Music by Raul Vega (Instrumental track here: https://phantomape.bandcamp.com/track...)

Don't forget to like, comment & SUBSCRIBE: https://goo.gl/3bBv52

For more inspirational videos, watch:
I Just Sued The School System https://youtu.be/dqTTojTija8
Everybody Dies But Not Everybody Lives https://goo.gl/xyiH9C
Prince Ea Reacts to Teens React To The School System https://youtu.be/nslDUZQPTZA

Recommended Reading:

1) What School Could Be, Ted Dintersmith
2) The Element, by Sir Ken Robinson
3) How Children Learn, John Holt
4) The Global Achievement Gap, Tony Wagner

Works Cited

Galloway Mollie., Jerusha Conner & Denise Pope. “Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools,” The Journal of Experimental Education (2013) 81:4, 490-510, DOI: 10.1080/00220973.2012.745469

Medina, John. Brain Rules. Seattle: Pear Press, 2014. Print.

Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan. "Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 August 2017. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170818115831.htm

Moffitt Terrie., and Louise Arseneault. “A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
(2011) PSOR 5 May. 2018."
education  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  learning  2018  princeea  howwelearn  schooliness  sleep  homework  johnmedina  terriemoffitt  louisearseneault  molliegalloway  jerushaconner  denisepope  time  timemanagement  tonywagner  teddintersmith  kenrobinson  johnholt  valentinavee  video  self-care  suicide  well-being  self-control  bullying  stress  anxiety  depression  whatmatters  cooking  success  life  living  purpose  socialemotional  ikea  music  youtube  children  passion  socialemotionallearning  health  rejection  ingvarkamprad 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Opinion | The New Socialists - The New York Times
"Socialism means different things to different people. For some, it conjures the Soviet Union and the gulag; for others, Scandinavia and guaranteed income. But neither is the true vision of socialism. What the socialist seeks is freedom.

Under capitalism, we’re forced to enter the market just to live. The libertarian sees the market as synonymous with freedom. But socialists hear “the market” and think of the anxious parent, desperate not to offend the insurance representative on the phone, lest he decree that the policy she paid for doesn’t cover her child’s appendectomy. Under capitalism, we’re forced to submit to the boss. Terrified of getting on his bad side, we bow and scrape, flatter and flirt, or worse — just to get that raise or make sure we don’t get fired.

The socialist argument against capitalism isn’t that it makes us poor. It’s that it makes us unfree. When my well-being depends upon your whim, when the basic needs of life compel submission to the market and subjugation at work, we live not in freedom but in domination. Socialists want to end that domination: to establish freedom from rule by the boss, from the need to smile for the sake of a sale, from the obligation to sell for the sake of survival.

Listen to today’s socialists, and you’ll hear less the language of poverty than of power. Mr. Sanders invokes the 1 percent. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez speaks to and for the “working class” — not “working people” or “working families,” homey phrases meant to soften and soothe. The 1 percent and the working class are not economic descriptors. They’re political accusations. They split society in two, declaring one side the illegitimate ruler of the other; one side the taker of the other’s freedom, power and promise.

Walk the streets of Bushwick with a canvasser for Julia Salazar, the socialist candidate running to represent North Brooklyn in the New York State Senate. What you’ll hear is that unlike her opponent, Ms. Salazar doesn’t take money from real estate developers. It’s not just that she wants to declare her independence from rich donors. It’s that in her district of cash-strapped renters, landlords are the enemy.

Compare that position to the pitch that Shomik Dutta, a Democratic Party fund-raiser, gave to the Obama campaign in 2008: “The Clinton network is going to take all the establishment” donors. What the campaign needed was someone who understands “the less established donors, the real-estate-developer folks.” If that was “yes, we can,” the socialist answer is “no, we won’t.”

One of the reasons candidates like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Ms. Salazar speak the language of class so fluently is that it’s central to their identities. Al Gore, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton struggled to cobble together a credible self out of the many selves they’d presented over the years, trying to find a personal story to fit the political moment. Today’s young candidates of the left tell a story of personal struggle that meshes with their political vision. Mr. Obama did that — but where his story reinforced a myth of national identity and inclusion, the socialists’ story is one of capitalism and exclusion: how, as millennials struggling with low wages and high rents and looming debt, they and their generation are denied the promise of freedom.

The stories of these candidates are socialist for another reason: They break with the nation-state. The geographic references of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez — or Ms. Tlaib, who is running to represent Michigan’s 13th District in Congress — are local rather than national, invoking the memory and outposts of American and European colonialism rather than the promise of the American dream.

Ms. Tlaib speaks of her Palestinian heritage and the cause of Palestine by way of the African-American struggle for civil rights in Detroit, while Ms. Ocasio-Cortez draws circuits of debt linking Puerto Rico, where her mother was born, and the Bronx, where she lives. Mr. Obama’s story also had its Hawaiian (as well as Indonesian and Kenyan) chapters. But where his ended on a note of incorporation, the cosmopolitan wanderer coming home to America, Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez aren’t interested in that resolution. That refusal is also part of the socialist heritage.

Arguably the biggest boundary today’s socialists are willing to cross is the two-party system. In their campaigns, the message is clear: It’s not enough to criticize Donald Trump or the Republicans; the Democrats are also complicit in the rot of American life. And here the socialism of our moment meets up with the deepest currents of the American past.

Like the great transformative presidents, today’s socialist candidates reach beyond the parties to target a malignant social form: for Abraham Lincoln, it was the slavocracy; for Franklin Roosevelt, it was the economic royalists. The great realigners understood that any transformation of society requires a confrontation not just with the opposition but also with the political economy that underpins both parties. That’s why realigners so often opt for a language that neither party speaks. For Lincoln in the 1850s, confronting the Whigs and the Democrats, that language was free labor. For leftists in the 2010s, confronting the Republicans and the Democrats, it’s socialism.

To critics in the mainstream and further to the left, that language can seem slippery. With their talk of Medicare for All or increasing the minimum wage, these socialist candidates sound like New Deal or Great Society liberals. There’s not much discussion, yet, of classic socialist tenets like worker control or collective ownership of the means of production.

And of course, there’s overlap between what liberals and socialists call for. But even if liberals come to support single-payer health care, free college, more unions and higher wages, the divide between the two will remain. For liberals, these are policies to alleviate economic misery. For socialists, these are measures of emancipation, liberating men and women from the tyranny of the market and autocracy at work. Back in the 1930s, it was said that liberalism was freedom plus groceries. The socialist, by contrast, believes that making things free makes people free."
coreyrobin  socialism  liberation  capitalism  latecapitalism  freedom  2018  canon  dsa  wageslavery  billgates  markzuckerberg  liberalism  neoliberalism  taxes  society  anxiety  socialjustice  democrats  us  politics  economics  markets  berniesanders  sovietunion  nordiccountries  scandinavia  domination  alexandriaocasio-cortez  rashidatlaib  kevinphillips 
august 2018 by robertogreco
The Equality Trust | Working to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing economic inequality
[See also:
(book) "The Spirit Level"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit_Level_(book)
The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better[1] is a book by Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett,[2] published in 2009 by Allen Lane. The book is published in the US by Bloomsbury Press (December, 2009) with the new sub-title: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.[3] It was then published in a paperback second edition (United Kingdom) in November 2010 by Penguin Books with the subtitle, Why Equality is Better for Everyone.[4]

The book argues that there are "pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption".[5] It claims that for each of eleven different health and social problems: physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being, outcomes are significantly worse in more unequal countries, whether rich or poor.[1] The book contains graphs that are available online.[6]

In 2010, the authors published responses to questions about their analysis on the Equality Trust website.[7] As of September 2012, the book had sold more than 150,000 copies in English.[8] It is available in 23 foreign editions.

"The Spirit Level authors: why society is more unequal than ever"
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/09/society-unequal-the-spirit-level

[follow-up book] "The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Wellbeing"
https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/188607/the-inner-level/
Why is the incidence of mental illness in the UK twice that in Germany? Why are Americans three times more likely than the Dutch to develop gambling problems? Why is child well-being so much worse in New Zealand than Japan? As this groundbreaking study demonstrates, the answer to all these hinges on inequality.

In The Spirit Level Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett put inequality at the centre of public debate by showing conclusively that less-equal societies fare worse than more equal ones across everything from education to life expectancy. The Inner Level now explains how inequality affects us individually, how it alters how we think, feel and behave. It sets out the overwhelming evidence that material inequalities have powerful psychological effects: when the gap between rich and poor increases, so does the tendency to define and value ourselves and others in terms of superiority and inferiority. A deep well of data and analysis is drawn upon to empirically show, for example, that low social status is associated with elevated levels of stress, and how rates of anxiety and depression are intimately related to the inequality which makes that status paramount.

Wilkinson and Pickett describe how these responses to hierarchies evolved, and why the impacts of inequality on us are so severe. In doing so, they challenge the conception that humans are innately competitive and self-interested. They undermine, too, the idea that inequality is the product of 'natural' differences in individual ability. This book sheds new light on many of the most urgent problems facing societies today, but it is not just an index of our ills. It demonstrates that societies based on fundamental equalities, sharing and reciprocity generate much higher levels of well-being, and lays out the path towards them.

"Does inequality cause suicide, drug abuse and mental illness?"
https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2018/06/14/does-inequality-cause-suicide-drug-abuse-and-mental-illness

"“The Inner Level” seeks to push that debate forward, by linking inequality to a crisis of mental health. This time the authors’ argument focuses on status anxiety: stress related to fears about individuals’ places in social hierarchies. Anxiety declines as incomes rise, they show, but is higher at all levels in more unequal countries—to the extent that the richest 10% of people in high-inequality countries are more socially anxious than all but the bottom 10% in low-inequality countries. Anxiety contributes to a variety of mental-health problems, including depression, narcissism and schizophrenia—rates of which are alarming in the West, the authors say, and rise with inequality.

Manifestations of mental illness, such as self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse and problem gambling, all seem to get worse with income dispersion, too. Such relationships seem to apply within countries as well as between them. Damaging drug use is higher in more unequal neighbourhoods of New York City, in more unequal American states and in more unequal countries. The authors emphasise that it is a person’s relative position rather than absolute income that matters most. A study of 30,000 Britons found that an individual’s place in the income hierarchy predicted the incidence of mental stress more accurately than absolute income did. And in America, relative income is more closely linked to depression than absolute income. It is not enough to lift all boats, their work suggests, if the poshest vessels are always buoyed up more than the humblest.

The fact that relative status matters so much is a result of human beings’ intrinsically social nature, Ms Pickett and Mr Wilkinson argue. Group interaction and co-operation have been an essential component of humanity’s evolutionary success; indeed, the authors say, its social nature helped drive the growth of human brains. Across primates, they write, the size of the neocortex—a part of the brain responsible for higher-level cognitive functions—varies with the typical group size of a species. Living in complex social groups is hard cognitive work. Survival requires an understanding of roles within the social hierarchy, and intuition of what others are thinking. Thus people are necessarily sensitive to their status within groups, and to social developments that threaten it.

Such hierarchies are found in all human societies. But as inequality rises, differences in status become harder to ignore. There is more to be gained or lost by moving from one rung on the ladder to another. And however much some maintain that disparities in pay-cheques do not correspond to differences in human worth, such well-meaning pieties feel hollow when high-rollers earn hundreds or thousands of times what ordinary folk take home. Money cannot buy everything, but it can buy most things. The steeper the income gradient, the less secure everyone becomes, in both their self-respect and their sense of the community’s esteem.

And so people compensate. They take pills, to steel their nerves or dull the pain. Some cut themselves. Some adopt a more submissive posture, avoiding contact with others. Yet such withdrawal can feed on itself, depriving recluses of the social interaction that is important to mental health, undermining relationships and careers and contributing to economic hardship.

Others respond in the opposite way, by behaving more aggressively and egotistically. Studies of narcissistic tendencies showed a steep increase between 1982 and 2006, the authors report; 30% more Americans displayed narcissistic characteristics at the end of the period than at the beginning. Scrutiny of successive American cohorts found a progressive rise in those listing wealth and fame as important goals (above fulfilment and community). Over time, more people cited money as the main motivation for attending college (rather than intellectual enrichment).

Domineering responses to anxiety are associated with loss of empathy and delusions of grandeur. Thus highly successful people often display narcissistic or even psychopathic behaviour. In surveys, the rich are generally less empathetic and more likely to think they deserve special treatment than others. Modern capitalism, the authors suggest, selects for assertiveness, for a lack of sentimentality in business and comfort in sacking underlings, and for showy displays of economic strength. From the top to the bottom of the income spectrum, people use conspicuous consumption and other means of enhancing their image to project status.

The least secure are often the most likely to exaggerate their qualities. For example, countries with lower average life-expectancy tend to do better on measures of self-reported health; 54% of Japanese say they are in good health compared with 80% of Americans, though the Japanese live five years longer on average. Whereas 70% of Swedes consider themselves to be above-average drivers, 90% of Americans do. Such figures cast declamations of America’s greatness, and the politicians who make them, in a new light."

"The Inner Level review – how more equal societies reduce stress and improve wellbeing"
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/20/the-inner-level-review ]

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BmquJ7Ngvme/ ]
equality  inequality  society  trust  anxiety  well-being  stress  mentalhealth  uk  economics  community  socialmobility  class  education  drugs  drugabuse  health  violence  illness  consumption  hierarchy  horizontality  mentalillness  status  self-harm  gambling  depression  narcissism  schizophrenia  relativity  excess  cooperation  egotism  selfishness  empathy  dunning–krugereffect  greatness  politics  lifeexpectancy  japan  sweden  us  driving  capitalism  latecapitalism  fame  fulfillment  money  motivation  colleges  universities  exceptionalism  assertiveness  aggressiveness  richardwilkinson  katepickett  growth  erichfromm 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Dr. Lucia Lorenzi on Twitter: "I have two academic articles currently under consideration, and hope that they'll be accepted. I'm proud of them. But after those two, I am not going to write for academic journals anymore. I feel this visceral, skin-splitti
"I have two academic articles currently under consideration, and hope that they'll be accepted. I'm proud of them. But after those two, I am not going to write for academic journals anymore. I feel this visceral, skin-splitting need to write differently about my research.

It just doesn't FEEL right. When I think about the projects I'm interested in (and I have things I want desperately to write about), but I think about writing them for an academic journal, I feel anxious and trapped. I've published academic work. It's not a matter of capability.

I think I've interpreted my building anxiety as some sort of "maybe I can't really do it, I'm not good at this" kind of impostor syndrome. But I know in my bones it's not that, because I'm a very capable academic writer. I know how to do that work. I've been trained to do it.

This is a question of form. It is a question of audience, too. The "what" and the "why" of my research has always been clear to me. The "how," the "where," and the "who," much less so. Or at the very least, I've been pushing aside the how/where/who I think best honours the work.

In my SSHRC proposal, I even said that I wanted to write for publications like The Walrus or The Atlantic or GUTS Magazine, etc. because this work feels like it needs to be very public-facing right now, so that's what I'm going to do. No more academic journal articles for now.

With all the immobilizing anxiety I've felt about "zomg my CV! zomg academic cred!" do you know how many stories I could have pitched in the past year alone? SO MANY. How much research and thinking I could have distilled into creative non-fiction or long-form journalistic pieces?

It's not like I haven't also been very clear about the fact that I probably won't continue in academia, so why spend the last year of my postdoc doing the MOST and feeling the WORST doing my research in a certain way just for what...a job I might not get or even want? Nah.

Whew. I feel better having typed all that out, and also for having made the decision to do the work in the way I originally wanted to do it, because I have been struggling so much that every single day for months I've wanted to just quit the postdoc entirely. Just up and leave.

In the end, I don't think my work will shift THAT much, you know? And I've learned and am learning SO much from fellow academics who are doing and thinking and writing differently. But I think that "no more scholarly journal submissions" is a big step for me.

I also feel like this might actually make me feel less terrified of reading academic work. Not wanting to WRITE academic articles/books has made me equally afraid of reading them, which, uh, isn't helpful. But now I can read them and just write in my own way.

I don't want to not have the great joy of sitting down and reading brilliant work because I'm so caught up in my own fears of my response having to replicate or mirror those forms. That ain't a conversation. I'm not listening if I'm already lost in thinking about how to answer.

That's what's so shitty about thinking as a process that is taught in academia. We teach everyone to be so hyper-focused on what they have to say that we don't let people just sit back and listen for a goddamn moment without feeling like they need to produce a certain response.

And we wonder why our students get anxious about their assignments? The idea that the only valid form of learning is having something to say in response, and in this way that is so limited, and so performative, is, quite frankly, coercive and gross.

As John Cage said, "I have nothing to say and I am saying it." When it comes to academic publications, I am saying that no longer have anything to say. I do, however, have things to say in other places to say them.

My dissertation was on silence. In the conclusion, I pointed out that the text didn't necessarily show all the silences/gaps I had in my years of thinking. I'd wanted to put in lots of blank space between paragraphs, sections, to make those silences visible, audible.

According to the formatting standards for theses at UBC, you cannot have any blank pages in your dissertation. You cannot just breathe or pause. Our C.V.s are also meant not to have any breaths or pauses in them, no turns away, no changes in course.

I am making a course change!"
form  academia  cvs  dissertations  johncage  pause  silence  reading  howweead  howwewrite  writing  2018  lucialorenzi  anxiety  coercion  response  performance  conversation 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Why Norway Is So Good at the 2018 Winter Olympics | Time
"But a distinctly Norweigan rule for their youth sports may strike a particular chord with many Americans. (This one included: I’m a youth sports parent, and wrote a TIME cover story on the booming kid sports industry last summer).

Ovrebo says that in Norway, organized youth sports teams cannot keep score until they are 13. “We want to leave the kids alone,” says Ovrebo. “We want them to play. We want them to develop, and be focused on social skills. They learn a lot from sports. They learn a lot from playing. They learn a lot from not being anxious. They learn a lot from not being counted. They learn a lot from not being judged. And they feel better. And they tend to stay on for longer.”"
norway  sports  play  games  winterolympics  olympics  2018  children  youth  judgement  competition  confidence  anxiety 
february 2018 by robertogreco
School is 'biggest concern' for children | News
"Nearly half of 12-year-olds report feeling sad or anxious at least once a week, survey finds
School is the biggest source of stress for young people, according to a new survey by children's charity Barnardo's.

The charity found that almost half of children aged 12 feel sad or anxious at least once a week, with the proportion rising as they get older.

Barnardo's commissioned YouGov to examine what is troubling young people and how they might be better supported.

According to the survey, nearly half of 12-year-olds in England (48 per cent) feel sad or anxious at least once a week. By the age of 16, 70 per cent report feeling this way at least once a week, with more than a fifth (22 per cent) having negative feelings as often as once a day.

Twelve-to-16-year-olds report that school is their main cause of stress (65 per cent), followed by thoughts about their future (42 per cent), problems at home (31 per cent), their weight (26 per cent) and offline bullying (25 per cent).

By the age of 16, stress at school is a worry for 83 per cent of children in England and 80 per cent are worrying about their future.

The survey found that social media has an important effect on mental health for young people, with 11 per cent reporting that they worry about getting enough "likes" or responses to posts.

Twelve per cent say they are concerned about online bullying, while 15 per cent say they have been troubled by something they have seen on social media.

According to the survey, which was commissioned to mark the beginning of Children’s Mental Health Week today, three-quarters (75 per cent) of 12-to-16-year-olds think it would be helpful if they had a counsellor or another professional at their school to talk to when they were feeling down.

When asked who they would talk to if they felt sad or anxious, 38 per cent said teachers, 63 per cent said friends and 71 per cent said family members.

Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: "It is deeply concerning that so many children in England are growing up feeling sad and anxious, and these feelings are intensified as they get older.

"Although these can be normal emotions experienced while growing up, children need support to deal with the pressures of everyday life.

"We need to create a culture where everyone has a greater understanding of what keeps children mentally well and when professional help is needed."

He added: "We want parents and carers to be confident in recognising if their children are unhappy, and teachers and other professionals to be sufficiently trained, adequately resourced and available to support them.""
children  stress  schools  schooling  mentalhealth  health  sfsh  pressure  socialmedia  bullying  anxiety  education 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Is everything you think you know about depression wrong? | Society | The Guardian
"So, what is really going on? When I interviewed social scientists all over the world – from São Paulo to Sydney, from Los Angeles to London – I started to see an unexpected picture emerge. We all know that every human being has basic physical needs: for food, for water, for shelter, for clean air. It turns out that, in the same way, all humans have certain basic psychological needs. We need to feel we belong. We need to feel valued. We need to feel we’re good at something. We need to feel we have a secure future. And there is growing evidence that our culture isn’t meeting those psychological needs for many – perhaps most – people. I kept learning that, in very different ways, we have become disconnected from things we really need, and this deep disconnection is driving this epidemic of depression and anxiety all around us.

Let’s look at one of those causes, and one of the solutions we can begin to see if we understand it differently. There is strong evidence that human beings need to feel their lives are meaningful – that they are doing something with purpose that makes a difference. It’s a natural psychological need. But between 2011 and 2012, the polling company Gallup conducted the most detailed study ever carried out of how people feel about the thing we spend most of our waking lives doing – our paid work. They found that 13% of people say they are “engaged” in their work – they find it meaningful and look forward to it. Some 63% say they are “not engaged”, which is defined as “sleepwalking through their workday”. And 24% are “actively disengaged”: they hate it.

Most of the depressed and anxious people I know, I realised, are in the 87% who don’t like their work. I started to dig around to see if there is any evidence that this might be related to depression. It turned out that a breakthrough had been made in answering this question in the 1970s, by an Australian scientist called Michael Marmot. He wanted to investigate what causes stress in the workplace and believed he’d found the perfect lab in which to discover the answer: the British civil service, based in Whitehall. This small army of bureaucrats was divided into 19 different layers, from the permanent secretary at the top, down to the typists. What he wanted to know, at first, was: who’s more likely to have a stress-related heart attack – the big boss at the top, or somebody below him?

Everybody told him: you’re wasting your time. Obviously, the boss is going to be more stressed because he’s got more responsibility. But when Marmot published his results, he revealed the truth to be the exact opposite. The lower an employee ranked in the hierarchy, the higher their stress levels and likelihood of having a heart attack. Now he wanted to know: why?

And that’s when, after two more years studying civil servants, he discovered the biggest factor. It turns out if you have no control over your work, you are far more likely to become stressed – and, crucially, depressed. Humans have an innate need to feel that what we are doing, day-to-day, is meaningful. When you are controlled, you can’t create meaning out of your work.

Suddenly, the depression of many of my friends, even those in fancy jobs – who spend most of their waking hours feeling controlled and unappreciated – started to look not like a problem with their brains, but a problem with their environments. There are, I discovered, many causes of depression like this. However, my journey was not simply about finding the reasons why we feel so bad. The core was about finding out how we can feel better – how we can find real and lasting antidepressants that work for most of us, beyond only the packs of pills we have been offered as often the sole item on the menu for the depressed and anxious. I kept thinking about what Dr Cacciatore had taught me – we have to deal with the deeper problems that are causing all this distress.

I found the beginnings of an answer to the epidemic of meaningless work – in Baltimore. Meredith Mitchell used to wake up every morning with her heart racing with anxiety. She dreaded her office job. So she took a bold step – one that lots of people thought was crazy. Her husband, Josh, and their friends had worked for years in a bike store, where they were ordered around and constantly felt insecure, Most of them were depressed. One day, they decided to set up their own bike store, but they wanted to run it differently. Instead of having one guy at the top giving orders, they would run it as a democratic co-operative. This meant they would make decisions collectively, they would share out the best and worst jobs and they would all, together, be the boss. It would be like a busy democratic tribe. When I went to their store – Baltimore Bicycle Works – the staff explained how, in this different environment, their persistent depression and anxiety had largely lifted.

It’s not that their individual tasks had changed much. They fixed bikes before; they fix bikes now. But they had dealt with the unmet psychological needs that were making them feel so bad – by giving themselves autonomy and control over their work. Josh had seen for himself that depressions are very often, as he put it, “rational reactions to the situation, not some kind of biological break”. He told me there is no need to run businesses anywhere in the old humiliating, depressing way – we could move together, as a culture, to workers controlling their own workplaces."



"After I learned all this, and what it means for us all, I started to long for the power to go back in time and speak to my teenage self on the day he was told a story about his depression that was going to send him off in the wrong direction for so many years. I wanted to tell him: “This pain you are feeling is not a pathology. It’s not crazy. It is a signal that your natural psychological needs are not being met. It is a form of grief – for yourself, and for the culture you live in going so wrong. I know how much it hurts. I know how deeply it cuts you. But you need to listen to this signal. We all need to listen to the people around us sending out this signal. It is telling you what is going wrong. It is telling you that you need to be connected in so many deep and stirring ways that you aren’t yet – but you can be, one day.”

If you are depressed and anxious, you are not a machine with malfunctioning parts. You are a human being with unmet needs. The only real way out of our epidemic of despair is for all of us, together, to begin to meet those human needs – for deep connection, to the things that really matter in life."
depression  society  psychology  johannhari  2018  work  labo  hierarchy  meaning  purpose  belonging  competence  culture  medication  pharmaceuticals  anxiety  workplace  democracy  cooperation  sfsh  joannecacciatore  irvingkirsch  michaelmarmot  meredithmitchell  johncacioppo  vincentfelitti  aintidepressants  brain  serotonin 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Teju Cole on Instagram: “⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 1 Reality takes no time off. Year end reckoning and new year anticipation are implicitly dyed with mortality. Some of those who…” • Instagram
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Reality takes no time off. Year end reckoning and new year anticipation are implicitly dyed with mortality. Some of those who will die this year already know it: they are terminally ill, and the clock moves inexorably. Many of those who will die this year, perhaps most, do not know it—could be you, could be me. Death comes as a surprise. Not living till the end of a given year having lived to the end of so many years, having lived to the end of all the years one has ever known (this is what being alive means), comes as a surprise, even for the terminally ill. Nor have we mentioned the many who will live but who will have come to live in a diminished way—I speak now not only of illnesses. Given these dark potentials, what are we then to do but to love each other and to move as best as we can without fear?
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I turn the year, each year, with a relief that is quickly overtaken by apprehension. As a social being, I briefly subsume these antisocial emotions under a mask of merriment. I raise my glass and cry out “Happy New Year!” with the others—and even mean it, as wish and prayer. But soon afterward, in solitude and quietness, I return to my uncertainties: that one simply doesn’t know what any year might bring beyond its reliably mixed bag of elation, cataclysm, grief, banality, and epiphany. In the presence of such an inchoate proximate future, what are we to do but to love each other and to move as best as we can without fear?
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Happy New Year!"
tejucole  love  fear  optimism  2017  2018  death  future  uncertainty  apprehension  anxiety 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Unschooling as a Journey of Self Discovery | Growing Minds
"Here’s some food for thought, the institutions that are most alike in our society are schools and jail. The strictly adhered to timetables, uniforms and all manner of rules and regulations that are designed to turn human beings into numbers on a piece of paper. I used to be one of those numbers. Hi, my name is Scout, I’m a seventeen-year-old vegetarian with a music addiction and a soft spot for zombies.

I went to Durban Girls College, considered one of the best private schools in South Africa, not to mention one of the most competitive and I couldn’t have been more miserable. I could never keep up with the work load and the teachers didn’t make me feel safe enough to ask for help. If you asked too many questions you were either wasting their time or you hadn’t been paying attention. My marks were always terrible and I saw them as a reflection of my self-worth. I didn’t fit the system. After six grades, two visits to an occupational therapist and about a thousand anxiety attacks, my mom decided to teach me and my brother from home. We didn’t use a curriculum and we had no set “lessons” but I learned more in those first few weeks of being deschooled than I did in the entirety of my main stream school career. I developed an appetite for learning. Without the constant pressure of trying to keep up with everyone else I found my own rhythm, no longer was I forced to memorize information and give text book answers, I could have an opinion.

Naturally everyone we knew thought that my mom was crazy. She was depriving us of a “good” education. What is a good education? And is it worth sacrificing your happiness for? I guess they all figured that my brother and I would end up on the street or at least our IQ levels would drop dramatically. Well it’s been six years since I started my learning journey, the road so far? I’m an avid reader and read everything from Austen to King. Creating is my passion whether its spending hours in the kitchen baking up a storm or sitting at my piano composing the day way and I have finished my second year as a part time student of a fine art, animation and design school that I got a scholarship to without a matric certificate, IBE or any other piece of paper that we allow to define our abilities. I take pictures, I go out with my friends, I attend a drama class every Thursday and have developed a unicorn obsession. Some days I don’t get out of bed till ten and that’s okay, everyday can be whatever I want it to be. Every day I learn something new, no matter how small.


I’m no Einstein and I have no magic tricks up my sleeve but I have had the opportunity to just be without measuring myself by the standards institutions set. I have no doubt in my mind that I would not be the person I am today if I had stayed in school, being unschooled has taught me about who I am, who I want to be in the world and that when we don’t limit ourselves anything is possible."
unschooling  learning  education  schools  schooling  anxiety  howwelearn  testing  learnign  southafrica  2017  identity  slow  small 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Raising a Teenage Daughter* — The California Sunday Magazine
"by Elizabeth Weil *with comments and corrections by Hannah W Duane
photograph by Tabitha Soren"

[from the annotations]

"Parents underestimate kids’ ability to figure out what is right for them. My parents originally thought the public arts high school where I just started would be a terrible choice, and now they understand how perfect it is for me."



"I receive, on average, a dozen book titles when I ask for a recommendation from my parents. It would be impossible to read them all. Plus, I want to choose what to focus on and file the rest away. Parents seem to need immediate return on their advice and assume no ideas get recorded for later use."



"Well, I wanted to know everything, back when that seemed reasonable, and I thought adults knew and understood everything, so it made sense to ask. Back then, all of my questions had answers."



"Adults think that kids are going to break if they hear something bad has happened. However, from a fairly young age kids know that terrible things happen, and they know when someone is trying to shelter them. It’s like when I was 4 and I found a dead robin on my grandparents’ deck, and my parents told me, “The bird is done being a bird.” That was OK, but it would have been OK, too, to just say the bird was dead. If you allow a kid to believe that things live forever, it’s going to be a worse experience later because they’re going to learn they were lied to."



"I think this is a complex point. It’s old-fashioned and sexist to think clothing is a major indicator of values. People should be able to wear what they want without worrying about others’ feedback."



"Everyone is “pretty flawed.” Isn’t the whole idea that you grow up and realize nobody is perfect and learn to live with the ways you’re messed up?"



"In my daily life, I take almost no risks. I do my homework; I’m absurdly early to most things. The mountains are the one place where I can relax and take advantage of this calm. I don’t know if I want a risk manager. I want to get better at accepting risk. It’s hard to learn, especially when your parents are cautious people themselves and you have anxiety about disappointing them. And yourself."



"I know my life is going to take some trial and error. I know I need to make the mistakes, and I know I’m going to be humiliated. I’m trying to gather up my courage. People can tell you to take deep breaths, they can tell you to close your eyes, but they can’t make you calm."
teens  parenting  daughters  2017  elizabetheil  hannahduane  annotation  families  children  childhood  death  growingup  adolescence  anxiety  adults  risk  risktaking  disappointment 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Show your support | Educationforward
"Education has to change – to move forward – so that our schools and students can face the unprecedented challenges of the future, with confidence, capability and compassion.

We believe:

1. That schools should be judged on a much broader set of outcomes (e.g. students’ resourcefulness; their ability to engage with political, economic and ecological issues; their confidence with digital technologies; their enjoyment of reading) than they currently face;

2. That the voices of parents, families, and students should be central to process of education policy formulation;

3. That students who neither want, nor need, to go to university should not be made to feel inadequate or failures by an overly narrow and overly academic curriculum;

4. That high-stakes testing has gone too far, has caused too much stress and anxiety to teachers and students, and is a wholly inadequate means of assessing a student’s full range of talents;

5. That the way teachers teach should foster more than the ability to recall snippets of knowledge – the future will ask students not simply what they know, but what they can do with what they know, how they critically evaluate data, and what to do when they don’t know what to do ;

6. That the knowledge that will matter to students in the mid-21st century will be very different to the knowledge that is currently considered core – re-thinking a curriculum fit for the future is an urgent, widespread concern;

7. That providing evidence of learning has attempted to become ‘teacher-proof’, whilst teaching to the test has become endemic. We have to trust teacher judgements more and invest in their professional development;

8. That too many people cast the debate around education in binary terms, despite the growing numbers of schools whose students get good grades and develop confidence, capability and self-direction in their learning.We need to learn from these schools so that their practices can spread like wildfire;

9. That politicians should focus their energies less on cherry-picking evidence to support their entrenched views, and more on the fundamental purpose of education. We need to improve, and deepen, the quality of public debate around schooling;

10. That we live in times of turbulence and anxiety, where truth is a casualty of intolerance. Education has to help people strengthen their dispositions to tolerate uncertainty, to think carefully about complex issues, to understand the position of others and, where necessary, to disagree gracefully. This matters – not just for our communities and our children’s well-being, but for the future of our world."
education  change  sfsh  outcomes  resourcefulness  policy  schools  acadmemics  testing  standardizedtesting  stress  anxiety  teaching  learning  society  howweteach  howelearn  knowledge  tcsnmy  openstudioproject  lcproject  curriculum  purpose  schooling  turbulence  intolerance  truth  uncertainty  complexity  understanding  grace  disagreement  uk 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Happiness Is Other People - The New York Times
"And according to research, if we want to be happy, we should really be aiming to spend less time alone. Despite claiming to crave solitude when asked in the abstract, when sampled in the moment, people across the board consistently report themselves as happier when they are around other people than when they are on their own. Surprisingly this effect is not just true for people who consider themselves extroverts but equally strong for introverts as well."
happiness  psychology  culture  2017  solitude  ruthwhippman  anxiety  individualism  society  community  self-care 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Virginia Heffernan on Learning to Read the Internet, Not Live in It | WIRED
"Anxiety is much more than a rookie response to internet-borne humiliation and weakness; sometimes it seems like the animating principle of the entire commercial web. That’s part of the reason for our decade-old retreat to apps, where McModern design and the illusion of walls seems like a hedge against the malware and rabble of the original web metropolis.

But leave standard consumer software aside and you’ll find that straight panic haunts the latest phase of digitization. Virtual reality, AI, the blockchain, drones, cyberwarfare—these things spike the cortisol in everyone but power users of Github and people with PGP session keys in their Twitter bios. The recent obsession with whether Barack Obama and James Comey did the right thing when confronted with evidence of Russian cyberattacks in 2016 misses the point: No one—no world leader, no FBI director, no masterful subredditor—knows exactly what to do about cyberattacks. The word alone is destabilizing.



To put it simply: Much of digital technology seems to be, in the words of our YouTube debunker, not in sync. It doesn’t quite track. Twitter emotion doesn’t rise and fall the way human emotions do. Similarly, death, final by definition, is not final in Super Mario 0dyssey. GPS tech is not true to the temperature and texture of physical landscapes. Alexa of Amazon’s Echo sometimes seems bright, sometimes moronic, but of course she’s neither; she’s not even a she, and it’s a constant category error to consider her one.

Living in the flicker of that error—interacting with a bot as if its sentiments were sentiments—is to take up residence in the so-called uncanny valley, home to that repulsion we feel from robots that look a lot, but not exactly, like us, a phenomenon identified nearly 50 years ago by robotics professor Masahiro Mori. When something gets close to looking human but just misses the mark—like that CGI creep in The Polar Express—it induces fear and loathing, the exact opposite of affection.

I’m unaccountably afraid. At root the anxiety is: Who is the human here, and who the simulacrum?
Mori used the notion of the uncanny valley to describe a restrictive aesthetic response to robots. But the internet, by aiming to represent a monstrous range of human experiences that includes everything from courtship and commerce to finance and war, introduces a near-constant dysphoria. An uncanny experience registers like a bad note to someone with perfect pitch. And bad notes are everywhere on the internet. Queasy-making GIFs, nonsense autocorrect, memes that suggest broken minds. The digital artifacts produced on Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify are identifiable as conversation, bodies, and guitars, and yet they don’t sync with those things in the three-dimensional world. Our bodies absorb the dissonance, and our brains work overtime to harmonize it or explain it away.

Consider my stock response to a friend’s honey-colored Instagram photos that show her on a yacht in Corsica. Is that what life is supposed to look like? Why does my own life by this loud municipal swimming pool look sort of—but not really—like that? We rightly call this jealousy, but the comparison of one’s multisensory experience to a heavily staged photo, passing for existence, entails cognitive discomfort too.

My poolside afternoon changes millisecond to millisecond. It also has a horizon line; robust unsweetened audio (yelps of “Marco” and “Polo” in my daughter’s pool-glee voice); a start-and-stop breeze; the scent of a nearby grill; ever-changing and infinitesimal shades that elude pixelation and suggest even hues outside the human spectrum that my sunblock (scented to evoke the tropics) is meant to guard against. What’s more, because it’s my experience, this scene is also inflected by proprioception, the sense of my own swim-suited body present in space. Compared to this robust and fertile experience as a mammal on Earth, isn’t it the Instagram image that’s thin, dry, and inert? “The imagined object lacks the vivacity and vitality of the perceived one,” philosopher Elaine Scarry wrote in Dreaming by the Book, her 1999 manifesto on literature and the imagination.

And yet. There’s that tile-sized cluster of pixels on my phone. The heightened portrait there, let’s call it Woman in Corsica, makes my own present moment—real life—seem like the impoverished thing. I’m unaccountably afraid. At root the anxiety is: Who is the human here, and who the simulacrum?

The good news is that the anxiety of the uncanny is nothing new or unique to digital experience. Every single realist form, the ones that claim to hold a mirror to nature, has made beholders panic—and worse. In the fifth century BC, the Greek artist Zeuxis is said to have painted voluminous grapes that looked so much like the real thing that birds pecked themselves to death trying to eat them. Novels, which were intended to show unfiltered middle-class life in everyday prose instead of fakey verse, drove women to promiscuity by representing their feelings so exactly. And, of course, there was the famous stampede in Paris in 1896, when audiences watching an early movie, Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, retreated to escape the train hurtling toward them from the screen.

A Snopes search for these stories turns up nothing; all of them are now considered folklore. But they’re useful. We like stories that suggest that experiences with art and entertainment we now take for granted—realist paintings, novels, the movies—once overwhelmed our ancestors. As a species, we must have learned something: how to stimulate ourselves with movies without being duped. And if we learned it then, we can learn it now. Because while the gap between the real and the replica can seem nauseatingly narrow, we do have a brilliant mechanism for telling reality from artifice. It’s literacy.

SKILLFUL READERS OF novels recognize language as a symbolic order with rules that set it apart from the disorder of real life. Musicians recognize sound signals in OGG format as decent representations of the sounds produced by their tubas and vocal cords, but not the music itself. Similarly, the Instagram image of Corsica is not life itself. It’s not even Corsica. It’s software. To read novels, hear recorded music, or scroll through Instagram is not to experience the world. It’s to read it.

But we forget this, over and over. Our eyes are still adjusting to the augmented reality of everyday life mediated by texts and images on phones. The oceanic internet has grown far too fast, with the highest aspirations to realism, for anyone to have developed guidelines for reading it without getting subsumed. Our phones even intercede between ourselves and the world. Like last year’s Pokémon Go, virtual artifacts now seem to embellish everything. And the enchantment they cast is potent: We will, it seems, drive off the road rather than resist the text. Literacy entails knowing when not to read.

As David Kessler has written about mental illness, thoughts, ideologies, and persistent images of past or future can “capture” a person and stall their mental freedom. If this is hard to grasp in the abstract, look at the captivating quality of sexting, doctored photos, or something as silly and fanciful as Twitter, with its birdies and secret codes. Even as artificial and stylized as Twitter is, the excitement there rarely seems like a comic opera to users. Encounter a troll, or a godawful doxer, and it’s not like watching a sitcom—it’s a bruising personal affront. “You’re a fool,” tweeted by @willywombat4, with your home address, makes the face flush and heart pound every bit as much as if a thug cornered you in a dark alley. Sometimes more.

But you don’t cool your anxiety by staying off the internet. Instead, you refine your disposition. Looking at a screen is not living. It’s a concentrated decoding operation that requires the keen, exhausting vision of a predator and not the soft focus that allows all doors of perception to swing open. At the same time, mindful readers stop reading during a doxing siege—and call the police to preempt the word being made flesh. They don’t turn quixotic and mix themselves up with their various avatars, or confuse the ritualized drama of social media with mortal conflicts on battlefields. The trick is to read technology instead of being captured by it—to maintain the whip hand.

Paradoxically, framing the internet as a text to be read, not a life to be led, tends to break, without effort, its spell. Conscious reading, after all, is a demanding ocular and mental activity that satisfies specific intellectual reward centers. And it’s also a workout; at the right time, brain sated, a reader tends to become starved for the sensory, bodily, three-dimensional experience of mortality, nature, textures, and sounds—and flees the thin gruel of text.

The key to subduing anxiety is remembering the second wave of YouTube commenters: the doubters. Keep skepticism alive. We can climb out of the uncanny valley by recognizing that the perceivable gap between reality and internet representations of reality is not small. It’s vast. Remember how the body recoils from near-perfect replicas but is comforted by impressionistic representations, like Monets and stuffed animals?

So imagine: Twitter does not resemble a real mob any more than a teddy bear resembles a grizzly. If you really go nuts and nuzzle up to a teddy, I guess you could swallow a button eye, but you’re not going to get mauled. Tell this to your poor rattled central nervous system as many times a day as you can remember. Make it your mantra, and throw away the benzos. Nothing on your phone alone can hurt you more than a teddy bear."
internetismyfavoritebook  virginiaheffernan  literature  literacy  internet  web  online  twitter  instagram  cv  2017  via:davidtedu  socialmedia  howweread  internetculture  trolls  blockchain  bitcoin  youtube  anxiety  drones  technology  cyberwarfare  cyberattacks  uncanneyvalley  presentationofself  reality  fiction  fictions  multiliteracies 
august 2017 by robertogreco
DIAGRAM >> The Structure of Boredom
"Part III, the structure of boredom, analogously, is as follows: The self (1) relates to the now or present actuality in the mode of immediate experiencing (2). When that present (3) is symbolized as being devoid of values regarded as necessary for one's existence, one experiences boredom (5). Boredom is the awareness that the essential values through which one fulfills himself are not able to be actualized under these present circumstances. To the degree to which these limited values are elevated to absolutes which appear to be unactualizable (6), one is vulnerable to intensive, depressive, demonic boredom."

[via: https://twitter.com/salrandolph/status/877349051049619457 ]
boredom  diagrams  thomasoden  psychology  theology  1969  now  present  awareness  presence  guilt  future  past  anxiety  responsiveness  imagination  trust  emptiness  meaning  meaningmaking 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Overview - Resilience
"THE CHILD MAY NOT REMEMBER, BUT THE BODY REMEMBERS.

Researchers have recently discovered a dangerous biological syndrome caused by abuse and neglect during childhood. As the new documentary Resilience reveals, toxic stress can trigger hormones that wreak havoc on the brains and bodies of children, putting them at a greater risk for disease, homelessness, prison time, and early death. While the broader impacts of poverty worsen the risk, no segment of society is immune. Resilience, however, also chronicles the dawn of a movement that is determined to fight back. Trailblazers in pediatrics, education, and social welfare are using cutting-edge science and field-tested therapies to protect children from the insidious effects of toxic stress—and the dark legacy of a childhood that no child would choose."
film  documentary  childhood  children  trauma  abuse  neglect  health  towatch  robertanda  vincentfelitti  adversechildhoodexperiences  jamesredford  stress  anxiety  resilience  nadineburkeharris 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Slow Professor movement: reclaiming the intellectual life of the university - Home | The Sunday Edition | CBC Radio
"You have heard of the slow food movement...now, there's a "slow professor" movement.

Two university professors say they feel time-crunched, exhausted and demoralised. They say they are being asked to be more efficient at the expense of more thoughtful teaching.
"Really, we're being encouraged to stay away from the really big questions because they're going to take too long to think through. You want to pump out as much stuff as quickly as you can. That's going to have a consequence for how thoughtful things are." — Barbara K. Seeber

Maggie Berg, a professor of English at Queen's University, and Barbara K. Seeber, a professor of English at Brock University, are co-authors of The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy.

Berg and Seeger argue universities squeeze as much intellectual capital out of professors as possible, and closely monitor the output of their mental exertions.

They spoke to Michael about their book and their mission to "reclaim the intellectual life of the university.""

[Update: See also: "We need a “slow food” movement for higher education"
https://qz.com/947480/we-need-a-slow-food-movement-for-higher-education/ ]
slow  highereducation  highered  education  academia  reflection  2017  barbaraseeber  maggieberg  deliberation  slowprofessor  productivity  standardization  speed  homogeneity  slowfood  knowledgeproduction  universities  corporatism  corporatization  competition  economics  fastknowledge  research  adminstrativebloat  teaching  howweteach  wisdom  faculty  howwelearn  friendship  benjaminginsberg  management  power  labor  work  casualization  adjuncts  busyness  time  anxiety  stress  davidposen  credentials  credentialization  joy  beauty  transferableskills 
february 2017 by robertogreco
POLITICAL THEORY - Karl Marx - YouTube
"Karl Marx remains deeply important today not as the man who told us what to replace capitalism with, but as someone who brilliantly pointed out certain of its problems. The School of Life, a pro-Capitalist institution, takes a look.



FURTHER READING

“Most people agree that we need to improve our economic system somehow. It threatens our planet through excessive consumption, distracts us with irrelevant advertising, leaves people hungry and without healthcare, and fuels unnecessary wars. Yet we’re also often keen to dismiss the ideas of its most famous and ambitious critic, Karl Marx. This isn’t very surprising. In practice, his political and economic ideas have been used to design disastrously planned economies and nasty dictatorships. Frankly, the remedies Marx proposed for the ills of the world now sound a bit demented. He thought we should abolish private property. People should not be allowed to own things. At certain moments one can sympathise. But it’s like wanting to ban gossip or forbid watching television. It’s going to war with human behaviour. And Marx believed the world would be put to rights by a dictatorship of the proletariat; which does not mean anything much today. Openly Marxist parties received a total of only 1,685 votes in the 2010 UK general election, out of the nearly 40 million ballots cast…”"
karlmarx  marxism  capitalism  2014  work  labor  specialization  purpose  alienation  disconnection  hierarchy  efficiency  communism  belonging  insecurity  economics  primitiveaccumulation  accumulation  profit  theft  exploitation  instability  precarity  crises  abundance  scarcity  shortage  productivity  leisure  unemployment  freedom  employment  inequality  wealth  wealthdistribution  marriage  relationships  commodityfetishism  feminism  oppression  ideology  values  valuejudgements  worth  consumerism  materialism  anxiety  competition  complacency  conformity  communistmanifesto  inheritance  privateproperty  banking  communication  transportation  eduction  publiceducation  frederickengels  generalists  specialists  daskapital 
january 2017 by robertogreco
CHAMPS and the Compliance Classroom | Ryan Boren
"My stomach dropped when I saw CHAMPS at our elementary school. "Eyes front, knees front, closed mouth" leapt off the wall and rose from memory. I was in school in the 70s and 80s. Some teachers were really into table readiness and proper student posture, and some principals thought a paddle made them persuasive. Compliance was the soul of their pedagogy. Those are not fond memories. I was an undiagnosed autistic in a culture without the vocabulary to understand me or help me understand myself. But I understood authoritarians well enough. They are a straightforward grok.

I handled the thoughtless compliance better than many of my peers. I could disappear into myself and hide in almost still silence. The tugging of my hair betrayed my perpetual anxiety and my yearning to scratch my scalp. In the head beneath the scalp I wanted to scratch and the hair I wanted to pull, a young mind churned: Scratching is not conforming; I must not break the envelope and compromise table readiness; that will rouse them. Hide in compliance. Don't talk; don't move; align your body on the auditor at the front of the room. The safe places are your head, books, and libraries. The books are waiting on the other side of compliance.

I sometimes close my eyes to better parse the speech coming at me. I swim in sensory overwhelm. I must pick a firehose. Eyes front preserves the illusion of compliance, so I'll stop listening. I'm not interested anyway. The books are so much more. The books are waiting. The written word is where my soul abides. This place in which I layover is just where my body resides – an eyes front, knees front, raise your hand to piss layover that I secretly indict. I tell no one.

Within the constant overwhelm is a pilot flame of anxiety, burning always. Anxiety and overwhelm, the torrid pas de deux that belies the silent, almost still compliance. Their dance is steam and froth, resonance foam on the sensory ocean I swim beneath the almost stillness – still but for the tugging of my hair. Don't disallow me that, but some of them will. Fidgeting is a threat.

The memories subside, and I'm again staring at a wall in my son's school where the words "eyes front, knees front, closed mouth" hover over the teacher's pulpit. Through 30 odd years those words time travelled. The pedagogy is the same. Compliance still reigns. What we seek to depose with the voice, choice, and agency of project-based learning asserts its durable status quo. It enjoys a sinecure in its pickled culture. Oblivious to neurodiversity, oblivious to the software-eaten world coming for it, it endures in the false safety of trying nothing new. Safety for them, for now, but not for the neurodivergent they still don't understand."
via:carolblack  compliance  ryanboren  teaching  howweteach  education  learning  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  neuroiverisity  schools  silence  stillness  conformism  conforming  anxiety 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Welcome to the new age of uncertainty | World news | The Guardian
"Much of our current mood of uncertainty has specific causes. Some of it is due to the consequences of the 2008 financial meltdown. The resultant rise of zero-hour contracts, exploitative internships and the Sisyphean labour of so-called portfolio careers has made the future seem head-spinningly uncertain. That mood is also due to the agenda, pursued by successive governments, of introducing choice into public services, from education to hospitals. The reason I was sitting in a school hall listening to a headteacher make her case to look after my daughter for five years was that the government has extended choice to state education. Thanks to that policy, I’m encouraged to explore a dizzying array of choices (girls only, mixed, grammar, mixed, faith, academy, comp) and yet I’m uncertain which is the best option. My only consolation is what Bertrand Russell wrote in The Triumph of Stupidity: “In the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” The parents who know, with vexing self-confidence, which school would be best for their little horrors are really deluded, while I’m a genius because of my very uncertainty. That must be what’s happening."



"What the headteacher meant, I suspect, when she said she would prepare children for jobs that don’t yet exist, is that kids should emerge from her school literate, numerate, with some experience of coding, probably little French but maybe some Mandarin, be unlikely to respond to a teacher telling them to pipe down by pulling a knife and generally able to initiate social interactions without going pre-verbal or sub-automatic. But most of all, I suspect she was extolling the virtues of a very old way of being, one set out by the poet John Keats nearly 200 years ago, when he wrote about “negative capability” – roughly, the ability to thrive in uncertain circumstances – of which more later."



"Good for Jonathan Fields. His life story is a homily to mastering uncertain conditions. There is, though, another option. Instead of mastering uncertainty, go with the proverbial flow and accept that uncertainty is the cosmic deal. Keats, when he coined the phrase “negative capability”, imagined something along these lines. Negative capability, he supposed, was “when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason” – and Keats took that passivity or willingness to let things remain uncertain to be essential to literary achievement."



"In 1996, Belgian Ilya Prigogine, a Nobel laureate, argued in The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature that uncertainty is an inherent cosmic expression, deeply embedded within the core of reality. To be fair, Buddhists got there before Prigogine. But what is striking is that some psychologists have applied the Nobel laureate’s thoughts on uncertainty in physics to our human lot. We may think we’re particularly cursed, that our current uncertainty is an unusual fate, but rather, uncertainty is deeply embedded in the structure of reality. In the face of that (possible) truth, what’s the best solution to living in uncertainty? Acceptance – even of the very anxiety we feel in the face of that uncertainty."
uncertainty  anxiety  brexit  ilyaprigogine  2016  stuartjeffries  choice  paradoxofchoise  wernerkarlheisenberg  jonathanfields  bertrandrussell  stupidity  confidence  self-confidence  genius  fate  psychology  politics  education  parenting  johnkeats  nagativecapability 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Learning Despite School — LifeLearn — Medium
"While organised education and deliberate, goal-oriented practice has its place, and is indeed critical, it needs to be balanced with the development of social competence and intrinsic motivation. The vast majority of learning happens in informal social situations within communities of like minded people, where individuals take initiative and learn to work with other people in meaningful settings. Schools may hinder this important avenue of growth and increase stress and anxiety.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~ Lao Tzu.

The role of informal learning

The importance of informal learning in all areas of life cannot be overstated. For anyone observing people going about their life, it is obvious that every waking moment (and indeed, also sleeping moments) presents experiences which shape our brains, and thus, learning happens. Historically, informal learning has been off the spotlights since it is more difficult to study than organised forms of education. However, during the 21st century, surveys have shown that the majority of learning happens in informal settings[1], and even governmental policies have changed to encourage informal learning[4].

Learning within workplaces can be divided into non-formal and informal learning. If these terms are unfamiliar, here are short definitions:

• Formal education is highly institutionalised, bureaucratic, curriculum driven, and formally recognised with grades, diplomas, or certificates.[1]

• Non-formal learning is organised learning outside of the formal education system.[1]

• Informal learning occurs in community, where individuals have opportunities to observe and participate in social activities.[2]

The clear majority of learning within workplaces is informal[3], even though companies spend huge resources on non-formal training of their employees.

Likewise it can be argued that a large portion of learning that happens in schools stems from informal activities, such as social interactions during recess. The magnitude of this informal learning clearly depends on how strictly pupils and their time use are controlled by the faculty. Most resources in educational systems are spent in the advancement of formal education.

How Finnish schools enable informal learning

Finnish primary schools consistently rank high in various international studies, and produce excellent educational outcomes. While there are several reasons behind the success of Finnish schools, one of their typical features is the large amount of free time pupils are given.

• For every 45 minutes of class time, 15 minutes of recess are provided. Recess is free undirected time, usually spent outdoors.

• 30–45 minutes are reserved each day for lunch, provided by the school.

• Children enter school the year they turn 7, giving them more years of free childhood than in most other educational systems.

• School days are short, starting with 4–5 hours in the lower grades, and growing to 6–8 in higher grades.

• The amount of homework is light, usually between 0–4 hours per week.

• Classroom time often includes group work, project work, and personalised learning activities.

All this generates lots of time in children’s lives where they can independently (or with partial guidance) decide what to do, explore their surroundings, and experience new things. All of this is informal learning and it can cultivate skills such as independence, critical thinking, accountability, social competence, self-efficacy, metacognition, time management, planning, and emotional intelligence.

Balancing academic, social and physical development

Finnish studies on pupils’ hobbies and free time use show that the constructive and positive spirit in classrooms increases as pupils spend more of their free time with each other; as their classmates become closer friends, motivation to attend classes increases; and continuing into higher education is more likely. Results also highlight the importance of non-programmed time, where teens are not supposed to do anything or achieve something. Exploration and experimentation are important. Creative crossing of boundaries of accepted behaviour is also important for the teens’ ethical development.[5] Social competence even as early as age 5 has been shown to be connected with adult life quality and productivity[8].

The effects of physical exercise to cognitive capacity and ability to focus are clear and are changing even workplace practices (e.g. walking meetings). Studies of Finnish students have shown that physical exercise has a positive effect on learning and cognitive functions, such as memory and executive functions, and can possibly affect academic achievement[6].

On the other hand, it is clear that to develop top talent in any field (including sports), young people need a balance of training, competition, and free play and exploration. Focusing too early on serious practice activities that are not enjoyable will damage intrinsic motivation[7].

In countries where schools control their pupils more strictly, opportunities for informal learning are diminished. Children then tend to focus their interests and motivation on their hobbies that happen after school. In some countries, children spend nearly all their waking hours on formal learning tasks, which may produce good academic outcomes, but limits severely the benefits that informal learning could provide. Finnish schools show that an approach that emphasises children’s natural tendencies for exploration and learning, can also provide excellent academic results.

Summary

A clear majority of learning for any individual happens in informal settings. While formal education and on-the-job training play a role, they will be more effective if they can acknowledge and accommodate informal learning that individuals will engage in regardless. In practice this means at least giving time for non-directed social activities, reflection, and physical activities. In addition, utilising learners’ own life interests in making formal training more engaging and relevant will increase learning outcomes significantly. Combining formal and informal is at the core of learner-centric approaches."
education  unschooling  deschooling  learning  informal  informallearning  schools  social  training  finland  play  competition  freeplay  howwlearn  howweteach  teaching  hobbies  constructivism  experimentation  2016  schedules  time  independence  timemanagement  planning  criticalthinking  accountability  metacognition  laotzu  tarmotoikkanen  competence  motivation  stress  anxiety 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — John Holt, How Children Learn Children do not...
"After I re-read that section, I was reminded of Laurence Weschler writing about David Hockney, and how “interest-ing” for Hockney is a verb: it is the continual projection of interest. (The more you look at something, the more interesting it gets.) This was certainly the case with me after I started reading this book, and Holt in general: I, who felt like a somewhat enlightened parent, started noting all the ways I wasn’t paying attention to them, and over time, they have become more interesting to me, not because I’m doting on them more, or even spending more time with them, but because I am looking at them like little scientists, or just little people, who are worthy of interest. (It sounds so stupid: of course a parent should find their kids interesting, but think about how many parents and teachers and adults you know — maybe including yourself — who, secretly, probably don’t.)

Holt’s work has really shaken me up, blown my mind, and given me a different way of thinking about my kids. Some of my favorite bits, below."
johnholt  howchildrenlearn  education  learning  children  trust  austinkleon  lawrencewescheler  davidhockney  art  interestedness  interested  interesting  attention  payingattention  noticing  parenting  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  librarians  teachers  purpose  belonging  work  community  conversation  cv  pacing  meaningmaking  unschooling  deschooling  departmentalization  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  control  independence  anxiety  howchildrenfail  testing  assessment  reggioemilia  punk  games  play  standardizedtesting  love  2016  listening 
july 2016 by robertogreco
A Framework for Thinking About Systems Change · Intense Minimalism
"I found the following diagram recently and I thought it was interesting: Unfortunately the source is a single book titled “Restructuring for Caring and Effective Education: Piecing the Puzzle Together” that contains a chapter by Knoster, Villa and Thousand. Apparently nobody quotes the content of it in any way around the web, and it’s without a digital edition, so I wasn’t able to evaluate the proper context and what the authors meant with each terms.

However, I find this valuable even in this unexplained form, so here it is:

[image]

While the original context seem education, the above seems more framed in terms of initial action around complex systems, which makes it interesting.

The aspect I find valuable about this diagram is that it highlights the outcomes of missing a piece, more than saying that you really need all of them. In other words, you can still achieve change without steps, but you have to consider the negative effect that comes out of it and address it."
systems  change  management  systemschange  confusion  vision  frustration  resistance  anxiety  falsestarts  actionplans  incentives  resources  skills 
april 2016 by robertogreco
The Perils of "Stranger Danger" | On Being
"One of the first lessons many of us learn as children is “Don’t talk to strangers.” Not “don’t get into a car with strangers” or “don’t let strangers into your house,” but “don’t talk to strangers.”

As a parent of two young children, I’m sure I’ve said it myself without giving much thought to what I was actually asking of them. Do I really want them to heed that advice? Taken literally, not talking to a stranger means not saying “Hello” or “Happy Holidays.” It means not making eye contact or smiling, body language that could lead to a conversation. It’s the kind of advice that has led us to a place where two people standing in an elevator less than three feet apart will look everywhere but at each other.

We like to say it takes a village, but we’re scared to death of the villagers. And so we erect boundaries around our children and get incensed if people cross them. Scold someone else’s child at your own peril, and keep your unsolicited parenting advice to yourself. The message to our fellow citizens is clear: hands off my child."



"Years ago, a friend of mine took a trip to the Caribbean island of Barbados. She had just boarded a packed city bus when she felt a tugging on her purse. Her fight response kicked into gear; clearly, she was being robbed. She tugged back hard, then saw that the “thief” was a woman in the seat right next to her. On the buses in Barbados, apparently, it is not uncommon for those seated to hold the bags of the people standing, thus relieving their load.

Of course, sometimes you really are being robbed, and some people actually are scary — though it’s worth mentioning that most crimes involving children are committed not by strangers but by people known to the family, and violent crime has plunged in the last few decades.

Teaching kids how to be careful and to exercise intuition when dealing with strangers is essential. But hanging a "no trespassing" sign around their necks only increases our, and their, sense of fear and isolation. Distance is not always safety. Indeed, the opposite might well be true. Americans are lonelier and more depressed than ever before. For the better part of a decade, suicide rates among young people have been steadily increasing. Perhaps now more than ever, we need to cherish every scrap of authentic human connection that comes our way.

So this year I resolve to be a little less cautious instead of more. Rather than bemoan my lack of a village, as I often do, I will take a long, hard look at the boundaries that I put up, and what those boundaries signal to the world. The rewards of letting people in — like watching a perfect stranger enchant my little one with Spanish nursery rhymes or serenade her in Punjabi — are too good to miss."
stangers  strangerdanger  parenting  2016  rikhasharmarani  caution  fear  children  isolation  society  anxiety  onbeing 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Teju Cole on Instagram: “Seminyak, October 2015. Let like be the emotion and "like" be the Instagram action, the double tap on the picture or the single tap on the blank heart. For some of you, I like that you post, I like the fact of your posting. Rela
"_tejucole:

Seminyak, October 2015.
Let like be the emotion and "like" be the Instagram action, the double tap on the picture or the single tap on the blank heart. For some of you, I like that you post, I like the fact of your posting. Related but not at all the same, I like everything you post (you know who you are). I don't "like" everything anyone posts in part because I want to be able to find things in the "likes" later. I "like" in order to indicate that I like, or to note, or to encourage, or as a thank you. I don't hate-"like." For some of you, I don't like what you post generally, maybe your style doesn't appeal, but I'll "like" a photo you post that I like. I think of a repost as a kind of "superlike" of certain pairings of word and image. Sometimes if I like something a lot, I can't "like" it, because it's too close to my skin. Sometimes, when something makes my spinal cord throb, I'll 🌟 it as well as "like" it, almost helplessly and inadvertently, like a monkey in a psychological experiment.

If someone should "like" something I post, I don't mentally interrogate their "like"—I simply prefer to assume that they like the picture, the words, the sequence of images I've been presenting, or me, which all comes to the same thing, at least at that moment. I notice how many "likes" a given post of mine receives, up to a certain minimum (which I will not reveal), beyond which a shit I giveth not. A "like" from certain people (you know who you are, except for those of you who don't) I mentally calculate as ten ordinary civilian "likes." I seldom but sometimes post with "likes" in mind, either to garner "likes" or to stymie them. I never shoot with "likes" in mind.
#_thehive

giache_I:

'superlike' your writings on this activity and these relations of Instagram ✨✨✨

jetudier:

(is it a function of this medium & platform, that I came to at the age that I did, or pure whimsy, that I find the need to write rather than double tap.. this I went private for just such reasons. to not care or be distracted but I find that a tension still exists .. thinking aloud bout this essay. thank you :)

simplymoraa:

On this one my "like" was primarily for the writing.

creetilda:

And I love you.

achp__:

I assumed your liking politics were very specific, but I didn't imagine they'd be that specific. For me, I try to like less and observe more. Sometimes I can't be bothered, and don't like nor observe, and it makes me wonder about the use I do of this space.

1001sarahs:

🌟✨🌟✨🌟
_tejucole:

@achp__ My liking poetics, you mean. 😬 What I realize is also that one likes here, the same way an author signs book. It is one understood (and largely friendly) form of exchange. Until I published books, I hated getting books signed, much less contemplating signing them myself. The purity of literature was the thing! Then things changed and I did too."

[Continued: https://www.instagram.com/p/BBsHGZvvVtv/

"_tejucole

Ubud, October 2015. Within the system of likes which cannot be turned off, and which implicitly sets up a rivalry not only among one photographer's photos, but between different photographers, lending a mild but never to be mentioned element of anxiety into the presentation of every photo, certain forms of sequencing are imperiled. Repetition is imperiled, slow shifts of photographic phase are imperiled. No one imposes these rules. It's only that Instagram, like any society, has unspoken notions of good behavior, of behavior worthy of reward (and even how that reward is to be assessed: relative to total follower count: a hundred likes has different meanings depending on who's getting it). At direct odds with our individual interests in exploration is our individual talent for popularity. "This one will get plenty of likes" is a thought many of us have had, and not always happily. Read the terrain. Certain work can happen here. Certain work cannot happen here.
#_thehive"
tejucole  likes  liking  favorites  favoriting  faves  socialmedia  2016  instagram  psychology  gamification  terrain  behavior  popularity  motivation  photography  writing  whywewrite  whyweshare  socialdynamics  anxiety  rivalry 
february 2016 by robertogreco
If you want to produce drones, teach kids nothing but STEM |
"The problem is, if we want people to be creative as scientists and engineers, discouraging them from taking arts classes (or for that matter discouraging them from playing rugby or football** or whatever) is exactly the wrong way to do it.

While I was writing REST, some of the most interesting studies I read compared the hobbies of high-achieving and low-achieving scientists. In particular, there was a study started in the late 1950s by UCLA sociologist Bernice Eiduson to understand what separated great scientists from their less accomplished colleagues.

Lots of psychologists had tried to figure out what marked some people for greatness, but no one had found the thing— the single personality trait, the “genius gene,” the cognitive edge— that all successful scientists share. Eiduson thought that by watching their careers unfold over several decades, and talking to and testing them at regular intervals, she might see things in successful lives that one-off interviews and short studies couldn’t.

Eiduson found forty young and mid-career scientists who agreed to be interviewed about their life and work, sit for psychological tests, and most crucially, keep doing so. All of them were products of top graduate programs, promising researchers, and young enough to have long, productive careers. Eiduson would follow this group for more than twenty years, and in that time the lives of the forty diverged. Some were elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. Others received promotions and prestigious chairs at their universities. One became a presidential science advisor. Four won the Nobel Prize; one, Linus Pauling, won it twice. Others settled into less distinguished careers. Some continued to struggle to do serious science, but couldn’t keep up. They became administrators, or focused on teaching.

From a sociological standpoint, it was an ideal outcome. A group that looked roughly the same decades earlier had split into two parts. The challenge now was to figure out why.

So what did she find that separated the top performers from the rest?

It wasn’t performance on intelligence tests— there didn’t seem to be a genius gene— nor were there personality traits that were really unusual. (The high performer were ambitious and competitive, but so are lots of people.) No, what separated the great from the good were— as Eiduson’s collaborators would discover after she died in 1985— other factors.

• It turned out that the best scientists showed “an unusual urge to experiment athletically as well as scientifically,” and selected “athletic activities that could be carried from youth into old age.” (These quotes are from an article by Maurine Bernstein, Robert Scott Root-Bernstein, and Helen Garnier, who continued and extended Eiduson’s work.) The top scientists took full advantage of the region’s geography: they played tennis, went swimming, hiking, and skiing. This being southern California, there was also an over-representation of surfers and sailors. Their less distinguished colleagues, in contrast, reported low rates of participation in sports.

• They saw rest and recreation as connected. As Robert Scott Root-Bernstein put it, elite scientists shared the belief that “time relaxing or engaging in their hobbies could be valuable” to “their scientific efficiency and thus to their careers.” For them, playing the piano or painting was just another “expression of a general aesthetic sensibility about nature.” What they did in the lab, the court, the climbing wall, and the lecture hall were woven together, different activities linked by common interests and shared passions. Low achievers, in contrast, said nothing about serious hobbies. They “had none or found them irrelevant to their work.”

• They expressed fewer anxieties about time pressure. For the Nobel laureates and world leaders, swimming or hiking didn’t compete with their time in their laboratory, and they didn’t feel that the time they spent on deliberate rest was stolen from more productive things. Because they practiced deliberate rest, seeking out activities that gave their conscious minds a break and provided a mental and psychological boost, but left their subconscious minds free (free to run through ideas, test and reject possibilities, and hone in on a solution), their sense of how much time they worked, and how much time they had at their disposal, differed from their less successful colleagues. In contrast, less well-cited, well-known scientists saw themselves as too time-pressed for hiking or surfing or playing the piano: they had too many commitments, too many obligations, too many demands on their time.

There are tons of examples I could give— and do give in the book— of world-class minds who are also great athletes, serious painters, musicians, even pool players (Albert Michelson, who measured the speed of light, was a master billiards player). And there’s good evidence that being good at these different activities strengthens creative ability, and provides much-needed deliberate rest for busy, hard-charging people.

So extrapolating from Eiduson’s work, if you want to produce people who have technical skills, but never will be able to do anything more imaginative than quality control for LG, then teach them lots of science and math, and nothing else. In contrast, if you want to produce people who’ll create category-defining products, overturn paradigms, and make scientific breakthroughs, by all means offer the physics and chemistry— but also encourage them to play sports, learn to paint, and play music.

Or as Vogt-Vincent put it,
Stopping young people from expressing themselves at such a young age is not doing them any favours…. To study arts subjects, you have to take risks, push yourself emotionally, expressively and creatively in every lesson, you have to persevere and be interpretive, passionate and collaborative. I’ve worked harder in these subjects than I’ve ever worked in my life.
"
education  stem  steam  unschooling  lcproject  openstudioproject  time  anxiety  science  engineering  innovation  creativity  2016  alexsoojungkimpang  schools  parenting  scientists  ucla  orlivogt-vincent  rest  idelenss  linuspauling  berniceeiduson  life  happiness  balance  well-being 
february 2016 by robertogreco
23 New Words for Emotions That We All Feel, but Can't Explain
"Sonder:
(n) The realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own

Opia:
(n) The ambiguous intensity of Looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable
Read: Wondering where you feel emotions in your body? These heat maps will shed light on the subject

Monachopsis:
(n) The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.

Énouement:
(n) The bittersweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.

Vellichor:
(n) The strange wistfulness of used bookshops.

Rubatosis:
(n) The unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.

Kenopsia:
(n) The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.

Mauerbauertraurigkeit:
(n) The inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like.

Jouska:
(n) A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.
Read: Worry and anxiety linked to high IQ?

Chrysalism:
(n) the amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm.

Vemödalen:
(n) The frustration of photographic something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist.

Anecdoche:
(n) A conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening

Ellipsism:
(n) A sadness that you’ll never be able to know how history will turn out.

Kuebiko
(n) A state of exhaustion inspired by acts of senseless violence.

Lachesism:
The desire to be struck by disaster – to survive a plane crash, or to lose everything in a fire.

Exulansis:
(n) The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.

Adronitis:
(n) Frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone.

Rückkehrunruhe:
(n) The feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness.
Read: Does The Sound Of Chewing Bother You? You May Be A Creative Genius!

Nodus Tollens
(n) The realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.

Onism
(n) The frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time.

Liberosis:
(n) The desire to care less about things.

Altschmerz:
(n) Weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had – the same boring flaws and anxieties that you’ve been gnawing on for years.

Occhiolism:
(n) The awareness of the smallness of your perspective."
words  emotions  dictionaryofobscuresorrows  sonder  2015  language  feelings  sadness  frustration  weariness  smallness  exhaustion  anxiety 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Students and the Pressure to Perform — To the Point — KCRW
"Silicon Valley's Palo Alto school district is in crisis. The suicide rate for teenagers there is four to five times the national average. This tragic statistic has made the city a symbol of the pressure kids live under in affluent communities to get into elite colleges, to excel at everything, to succeed at all costs. This week, as high school seniors and their families gather around computers racing to finish their college applications, we ask whether the obsession with getting into the best colleges is hurting kids more than helping them, and what schools, parents and students can do lessen the stress."
education  stress  class  barbarabogarev  suniyaluthar  julielythcott-haims  gwyethsmighjr  carolynwalworth  paloalto  siliconvalley  colleges  universities  admissions  homework  schools  parenting  anxiety  success  suicide 
december 2015 by robertogreco
After a String of Suicides, Students in Palo Alto Are Demanding a Part in Reforming Their School's Culture | VICE | United States
"There are a few encouraging signs that the community is coming around to recognizing and ultimately fixing these flaws. In March, the school board voted to allocate $250,000 of the district's budget to hiring two more full-time therapists for the high schools, which will relieve the strained workload of the counseling staff. At Gunn, students took the matter of improving mental health into their own hands, organizing the Student Wellness Committee with the help of Herrmann. It organically grew out of their discussions on what needed to change at the school after Cameron Lee's death. One of the things they set up was a referral box, which allowed students to anonymously refer their friends to counseling. "A startling number of people have told me that they wouldn't talk to a counselor if they had a friend who was in trouble," Gunn sophomore class president Chloe Chang Sorensen explained.

The committee also launched a mental health awareness campaign to educate students about causes, symptoms, and resources available to them. And finally, the committee collaborated with an organization called Youth Empowerment Seminar (YES!) to implement a mindfulness curriculum in physical education classes starting in the fall. These students were not interested in waiting for the adults to act. They made themselves into agents of change."



"Students were not willing to passively accept the superintendent's decision. Two Gunn juniors, Ben Lee and Nina Shirole, co-founded the Palo Alto Student Union to advocate for and promote the student voice. They put up posters with the words SUPPORT STUDENT CHOICE, SUPPORT STUDENT VOICE all over Gunn. And many teachers supported their efforts. With the superintendent sitting behind him on stage, retiring Gunn mathematics teacher Peter Herreshoff said in a speech at graduation, "Your class this year witnessed the imposition of an unjust policy regarding zero period. Although it didn't affect you directly, you united in solidarity with future graduating classes to oppose that policy. Although you didn't win, yet, you learned about taking agency over your lives and working collectively to do that." The student union considered holding a student walkout over the zero-period change but ultimately decided to host a sit-in at a school-board meeting.

A few weeks after the decision was announced, dozens of students attended a Tuesday-evening board meeting. This was the meeting at which zero period was originally meant to be discussed, but McGee had unexpectedly made a unilateral decision beforehand. One after another, students came up to the podium and blasted the superintendent. Gunn senior and school-board student representative Rose Weinmann called the move "misguided paternalism." What students were most peeved about was that the zero-period decision was orchestrated in a top-down manner without their consultation. Ben Lee told me later, "We were blatantly disregarded by the community. It was good to show that we weren't lesser beings. We were going to fight for our right to be heard." He believes that the decision was rashly made to "appease a few people." Shirole also thinks it's a contradiction that physical education and broadcasting classes during zero period will remain when the underlying intention of the change was to help all students get more sleep. And she says the research on later start times does not "account for the element of choice," as zero period is optional."
nikhilgoyal  paloalto  suicide  education  schools  2015  culture  society  siliconvalley  mentalhealth  academics  gunnhighschool  depression  anxiety  stress  parenting  studentvoice  studentchoice 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Bret Easton Ellis on Living in the Cult of Likability - The New York Times
"On a recent episode of the television series “South Park,” the character Cartman and other townspeople who are enthralled with Yelp, the app that lets customers rate and review restaurants, remind maître d’s and waiters that they will be posting reviews of their meals. These “Yelpers” threaten to give the eateries only one star out of five if they don’t please them and do exactly as they say. The restaurants feel that they have no choice but to comply with the Yelpers, who take advantage of their power by asking for free dishes and making suggestions on improving the lighting. The restaurant employees tolerate all this with increasing frustration and anger — at one point Yelp reviewers are even compared to the Islamic State group — before both parties finally arrive at a truce. Yet unknown to the Yelpers, the restaurants decide to get their revenge by contaminating the Yelpers’ plates with every bodily fluid imaginable.

The point of the episode is that today everyone thinks that they’re a professional critic (“Everyone relies on my Yelp reviews!”), even if they have no idea what they’re talking about. But it’s also a bleak commentary on what has become known as the “reputation economy.” In depicting the restaurants’ getting their revenge on the Yelpers, the episode touches on the fact that services today are also rating us, which raises a question: How will we deal with the way we present ourselves online and in social media, and how do individuals brand themselves in what is a widening corporate culture?

The idea that everybody thinks they’re specialists with voices that deserve to be heard has actually made everyone’s voice less meaningful. All we’re doing is setting ourselves up to be sold to — to be branded, targeted and data-mined. But this is the logical endgame of the democratization of culture and the dreaded cult of inclusivity, which insists that all of us must exist under the same umbrella of corporate regulation — a mandate that dictates how we should express ourselves and behave.

Most people of a certain age probably noticed this when they joined their first corporation, Facebook, which has its own rules regarding expressions of opinion and sexuality. Facebook encouraged users to “like” things, and because it was a platform where many people branded themselves on the social Web for the first time, the impulse was to follow the Facebook dictum and present an idealized portrait of their lives — a nicer, friendlier, duller self. And it was this burgeoning of the likability cult and the dreaded notion of “relatability” that ultimately reduced everyone to a kind of neutered clockwork orange, enslaved to the corporate status quo. To be accepted we have to follow an upbeat morality code where everything must be liked and everybody’s voice respected, and any person who has a negative opinion — a dislike — will be shut out of the conversation. Anyone who resists such groupthink is ruthlessly shamed. Absurd doses of invective are hurled at the supposed troll to the point that the original “offense” often seems negligible by comparison.

I’ve been rated and reviewed since I became a published author at the age of 21, so this environment only seems natural to me. A reputation emerged based on how many reviewers liked or didn’t like my book. That’s the way it goes — cool, I guess. I was liked as often as I was disliked, and that was OK because I didn’t get emotionally involved. Being reviewed negatively never changed the way I wrote or the topics I wanted to explore, no matter how offended some readers were by my descriptions of violence and sexuality. As a member of Generation X, rejecting, or more likely ignoring, the status quo came easily to me. One of my generation’s loudest anthems was Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” whose chorus rang out: “I don’t give a damn about my reputation/ I’ve never been afraid of any deviation.” I was a target of corporate-think myself when the company that owned my publishing house decided it didn’t like the contents of a particular novel I had been contracted to write and refused to publish it on the grounds of “taste.” (I could have sued but another publisher who liked the book published it instead.) It was a scary moment for the arts — a conglomerate was deciding what should and should not be published and there were loud arguments and protests on both sides of the divide. But this was what the culture was about: People could have differing opinions and discuss them rationally. You could disagree and this was considered not only the norm but interesting as well. It was a debate. This was a time when you could be opinionated — and, yes, a questioning, reasonable critic — and not be considered a troll.

Now all of us are used to rating movies, restaurants, books, even doctors, and we give out mostly positive reviews because, really, who wants to look like a hater? But increasingly, services are also rating us. Companies in the sharing economy, like Uber and Airbnb, rate their customers and shun those who don’t make the grade. Opinions and criticisms flow in both directions, causing many people to worry about how they’re measuring up. Will the reputation economy put an end to the culture of shaming or will the bland corporate culture of protecting yourself by “liking” everything — of being falsely polite just to be accepted by the herd — grow stronger than ever? Giving more positive reviews to get one back? Instead of embracing the true contradictory nature of human beings, with all of their biases and imperfections, we continue to transform ourselves into virtuous robots. This in turn has led to the awful idea — and booming business — of reputation management, where a firm is hired to help shape a more likable, relatable You. Reputation management is about gaming the system. It’s a form of deception, an attempt to erase subjectivity and evaluation through intuition, for a price.

Ultimately, the reputation economy is about making money. It urges us to conform to the blandness of corporate culture and makes us react defensively by varnishing our imperfect self so we can sell and be sold things. Who wants to share a ride or a house or a doctor with someone who doesn’t have a good online reputation? The reputation economy depends on everyone maintaining a reverentially conservative, imminently practical attitude: Keep your mouth shut and your skirt long, be modest and don’t have an opinion. The reputation economy is yet another example of the blanding of culture, and yet the enforcing of groupthink has only increased anxiety and paranoia, because the people who embrace the reputation economy are, of course, the most scared. What happens if they lose what has become their most valuable asset? The embrace of the reputation economy is an ominous reminder of how economically desperate people are and that the only tools they have to raise themselves up the economic ladder are their sparklingly upbeat reputations — which only adds to their ceaseless worry over their need to be liked.

Empowerment doesn’t come from liking this or that thing, but from being true to our messy contradictory selves. There are limits to showcasing our most flattering assets because no matter how genuine and authentic we think we are, we’re still just manufacturing a construct, no matter how accurate it may be. What is being erased in the reputation economy are the contradictions inherent in all of us. Those of us who reveal flaws and inconsistencies become terrifying to others, the ones to avoid. An “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”-like world of conformity and censorship emerges, erasing the opinionated and the contrarian, corralling people into an ideal. Forget the negative or the difficult. Who wants solely that? But what if the negative and the difficult were attached to the genuinely interesting, the compelling, the unusual? That’s the real crime being perpetrated by the reputation culture: stamping out passion; stamping out the individual."
socialmedia  facebook  culture  2015  likeability  presentationofself  breteastonellis  online  internet  conservatism  via:rushtheiceberg  uber  relatability  genx  generationx  ratings  criticism  critics  yelp  society  authenticity  liking  likes  reputation  data  biases  imperfections  subjectivity  virtue  anxiety  sharingeconomy  paranoia  blandness  invention  risktaking  conformity  censorship  groupthink 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Why Affluent Parents Put So Much Pressure on Their Kids - The Atlantic
"With financial success ought to come some measure of relief—a chance to take in a deep breath, exhale, and survey the world from the top.

But, as Hanna Rosin’s recent Atlantic cover story on the high rate of suicide among high-school students in Palo Alto, California, captures, that’s not how things work. To the contrary, kids living in one of the wealthiest zip codes in the country are stressed and miserable. As Rosin writes:
On the surface, the rich kids seem to be thriving. They have cars, nice clothes, good grades, easy access to health care, and, on paper, excellent prospects. But many of them are not navigating adolescence successfully.

The rich middle- and high-school kids [Arizona State professor Suniya] Luthar and her collaborators have studied show higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse on average than poor kids, and much higher rates than the national norm.* They report clinically significant depression or anxiety or delinquent behaviors at a rate two to three times the national average. Starting in seventh grade, the rich cohort includes just as many kids who display troubling levels of delinquency as the poor cohort, although the rule-breaking takes different forms. The poor kids, for example, fight and carry weapons more frequently, which Luthar explains as possibly self-protective. The rich kids, meanwhile, report higher levels of lying, cheating, and theft.

Why is this? As Rosin reports, a major factor is “pressure”—from parents, teachers, themselves, whoever—to excel not just in school but in a host of other activities as well. All of that pressure and the resulting hyper-activity seem to leave kids feeling very tired, very inadequate, and very alone. No wonder they are miserable.

But that does little to answer the question of why there is so much pressure in the first place. It turns out that there is a pretty straightforward—and ultimately very troubling—answer: It’s because the competition for a place among the country’s well-off is so vicious. To secure one of those spots, kids must gain admission to a relatively small number of elite colleges and universities, which “essentially did not grow but rather became increasingly selective” since the 1970s. (By contrast, in Canada, where higher education “lacks a steep prestige hierarchy,” the admissions competition is less dire.)

In part, this is because of what sort of people make up America's elite today: not the owners of family businesses but professionals with impressive educations. Family businesses are heritable; education, by contrast, is not. No matter how successful parents are, their kids have to earn their own way in (albeit, of course, with the incredible advantages that come from having highly educated, well-off parents). As sociologist Hilary Levey Friedman put it in an interview with Jessica Grose at Slate, “If you’re a doctor, lawyer, or MBA—you can’t pass those on to your kids.”

All of this results in what the economists Garey and Valerie Ramey of the University of California, San Diego, brilliantly termed “the rug rat race.” As they wrote in a 2010 paper, “The increased scarcity of college slots appears to have heightened rivalry among parents, which takes the form of more hours spent on college preparatory activities.” In their findings, the rug rat race takes place primarily among the most educated parents, because there simply aren’t enough spots at elite schools for less-educated parents to even really have a shot, especially as the competition accelerates. It’s for this reason that the most educated parents spend the most hours parenting, even though they are giving up the most in wages by doing so.

This intense competition does more than serve as a giant sieve for college admissions; it is also a intensive training process for the actual skills that it takes to succeed at the upper echelons of the American economy. As one soccer parent told Friedman during her research on parenting in such a competitive culture, “I think it’s important for [my son] to understand that [being competitive] is not going to just apply here, it’s going to apply for the rest of his life. It’s going to apply when he keeps growing up and he’s playing sports, when he’s competing for school admissions, for a job, for the next whatever.” Friedman concludes, “Such an attitude prepares children for winner-take-all settings like the school system and lucrative labor markets.”

This leaves affluent parents with little choice. Even for those who fear the consequences of the pressure on their kids, they may figure it’s worth getting through a few tough years for a lifetime of economic security. One thing that bolsters this rationale: the steep dropoff in incomes and wealth from the very, very rich to America’s struggling middle class. There is a lot to be gained by being among the very elite. If that's something you have a reasonable shot at, there’s a good argument for taking it.

The conversation about the intense pressure on kids is normally focused on parenting culture, on what parents are doing wrong. But this all needs to be considered in the broader context of the American economy. The pressure on kids may come from parents, but it’s the result of systemic forces so much bigger and so much more powerful than anything any household has control over.

In a sense, what wealthy parents are doing is working. There is very little social mobility in America, up or down, and most of those born into the richest and best-educated households will someday run their own high-earning, highly educated households.

Then again, it’s not working at all. There is very little social mobility in America, up or down, and most of those born into the poorest and least-educated households will someday run their own low-earning, poorly educated households. How is it that a country so prosperous shines its munificence on so few? And, for those who do find success, why does getting there leave them feeling so hopeless?"
education  affluence  precarity  economics  inequality  society  socialmobility  us  incomeinequality  fear  parenting  schools  learning  competition  fragility  hannahrosin  pressure  anxiety  stress  selectivity  colleges  universities  rebeccarosen  gareyramey  valerieramey  admissions  scarcity  jessicagross  suniyaluthar  paloalto  siliconvalley 
november 2015 by robertogreco
First they make you crazy. Then they sell you the cure: Be Mindful of Mindless Mindfulness
"So – if I’m not against art, or coloring, or relaxation or mindfulness what is my problem? Here it is: The explosion of mindfulness as the cure-all du jour. And I’m wondering why is this happening? Why now?

Brave New World is Aldous Huxley’s ironic title for his dystopian novel. In this future the fictional drug soma has “All of the benefits of Christianity and alcohol without their defects.” Huxley takes the word soma – this “Christianity without tears” – from an unknown drug believed to have been used in ancient Indian Vedic cults as part of religious ceremonies. The soma of Brave New World is a perversion of that ancient drug. Rather than conferring insight and wisdom it clouds reality. It is not used to deliver enlightenment but rather to blunt ugly truths that arise to disturb the surface of experience. Soma is a tool of the state to keep its citizens quiet and to prevent them from the seeing the truth and demanding change."



"I have no problem with children learning anything that can help them thrive in our stress-inducing, anxiety-ridden age. My problem lies with the fact that we must first stop creating and exacerbating the problems to which all this is then the answer. As a society we are driving our kids crazy and we have to stop."



"Let’s return for a moment to those backpacking counter cultural wanderers and to those who have searched for inner peace and meaning and found answers that include the moral and spiritual wisdom of the Buddhist tradition. That tradition is about enlightenment and developing our intellectual capacity to the fullest. It is about waking up, compassion and kindness. Admirable goals and worthy aspirations. Nothing wrong with that. It would be good to see schools helping children know themselves better and see themselves as a part of the great universe. But the mindfulness fad is often about mindless acceptance of the unacceptable – more to do with mitigating symptoms of sickness rather than true self-awareness and personal growth."

[See also (referenced within): http://www.salon.com/2015/11/08/they_want_kids_to_be_robots_meet_the_new_education_craze_designed_to_distract_you_from_overtesting/ ]
josieholford  mindfulness  buddhism  schools  buzzwords  fads  2015  children  mentalhealth  anxiety  nclb  grit  health  injustice  testing  standardizedtesting  wellness  trends  education  learning  teaching 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The Suicide Clusters at Palo Alto High Schools - The Atlantic
"In the late 1990s, when she was an assistant professor in Yale’s psychiatry department, Suniya Luthar was doing research at an inner-city school in Connecticut. She wanted to know whether misbehavior correlated more with poverty or with a stage of adolescence. She needed a second school to use as a comparison. An undergraduate student she worked with had connections at a school in a Connecticut suburb that was more upscale, and Luthar got permission to distribute her surveys there. The results were not what she expected. In the inner-city school, 86 percent of students received free or reduced-price lunches; in the suburban school, 1 percent did. Yet in the richer school, the proportion of kids who smoked, drank, or used hard drugs was significantly higher—as was the rate of serious anxiety and depression. This anomaly started Luthar down a career-long track studying the vulnerabilities of students within what she calls “a culture of affluence.” I called Luthar, now a professor at Arizona State University, in March to find out whether the anxiety she was recording amounted to familiar teenage angst or something more serious. As it happened, she was about to fly to Palo Alto. A meeting on adolescents and suicide, hosted by Stanford’s psychiatry department, had been organized in a hurry. Earlier that month a fifth kid had killed himself, Byron Zhu, a 15-year-old sophomore at Palo Alto High. He had walked in front of an early-morning northbound train. The police were still at the scene when kids were biking to school that morning; the principal, who had rushed over, asked the police to put up a special barrier so they wouldn’t see.

Luthar had been invited to give a presentation on affluent youth as a largely unrecognized at-risk group. Convincing people that rich kids are at high risk isn’t easy, she said. But she has amassed the most thorough data set we have on that group, from schools scattered across the country. Luthar’s data come from school districts where families have median incomes of more than $200,000, and private schools where tuition is close to $30,000 a year. Her research suggests a U‑shaped curve in pathologies among children, by class. At each extreme—poor and rich—kids are showing unusually high rates of dysfunction. On the surface, the rich kids seem to be thriving. They have cars, nice clothes, good grades, easy access to health care, and, on paper, excellent prospects. But many of them are not navigating adolescence successfully.

The rich middle- and high-school kids Luthar and her collaborators have studied show higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse on average than poor kids, and much higher rates than the national norm. They report clinically significant depression or anxiety or delinquent behaviors at a rate two to three times the national average. Starting in seventh grade, the rich cohort includes just as many kids who display troubling levels of delinquency as the poor cohort, although the rule-breaking takes different forms. The poor kids, for example, fight and carry weapons more frequently, which Luthar explains as possibly self-protective. The rich kids, meanwhile, report higher levels of lying, cheating, and theft.

“We assume that because [these kids] have money and a good education, everything is fine,” Luthar says. And in the long run, money and education will protect them. But in adolescence, the dangers posed by the culture of affluence can be “quite potent.” That doesn’t mean rich kids are more likely to kill themselves. Studies on youth suicide have generally turned up few differences among social classes. But it does mean many are deeply suffering.

One of the two major causes of distress, Luthar found, was the “pressure to excel at multiple academic and extracurricular pursuits.” In one study, for example, kids were asked to choose and rank their parents’ top five values, from a list of 10. Half of the values were related to achievement (“attend a good college,” “make a lot of money,” “excel academically”), and the other half to well-being and personal character (“are honest,” “are kind to others,” “are generally happy with yourself and your life”). When the kids chose a greater number of achievement-related goals, that usually correlated with personal troubles, Luthar said.

The kids were also asked how much they identified with sentences such as “The fewer mistakes I make, the more people will like me” and “If someone does a task at work/school better than I, then I feel like I failed the whole task.” From their answers, Luthar constructed a profile of elite American adolescents whose self-worth is tied to their achievements and who see themselves as catastrophically flawed if they don’t meet the highest standards of success. Because a certain kind of success seems well within reach, they feel they have to attain it at all costs—a phenomenon she refers to as “I can, therefore I must.” Middle-class kids, she told me, generally do not live with the expectation that they should go to Stanford or earn $200,000 a year. “If I’ve never been to the moon,” she said of middle-class families, “why would I expect my kids to go there?” The yardstick for the children of the meritocratic elite is different, and it can intimidate as much as it can empower.

The second major cause of distress that Luthar identified was perhaps more surprising: Affluent kids felt remarkably isolated from their parents. When I wrote “The Overprotected Kid” for this magazine last year, I assumed that the brand of helicopter parenting I described as typical of my cohort involved a trade-off. Parents might be sheltering their kids, but at least they were more emotionally in tune with them than, say, the parents of the ’70s divorce generation were with their children. Luthar disabused me of this comforting narrative. The kids in the affluent communities she studied felt their parents to be no more available to them, either emotionally or physically, than the kids in severe poverty did.

Some of the measures Luthar used were objective: Did the family eat dinner together, or hang out in the evenings? Here, she discovered that some busy parents would leave adolescents alone in the afternoon and evening and often weren’t home at all during those hours. She also measured the kids’ feelings of closeness—“My father understands me,” or “My mother knows when I am upset.” Here again Luthar saw a fissure: Children had the sense that their parents monitored their activities and cared deeply about how they were spending their time, but that didn’t translate into feeling close. Many children felt they were being prodded toward very specific goals and behaviors by parental cues, some subtle, some less so. Their parents glowed warmly when they did well in school or sports but seemed let down when they didn’t. Often the kids learned to hide their failures—real or imagined—for fear of disappointing their parents. Other research has shown that a feeling of closeness to parents was inversely linked to household income, meaning that the most-affluent kids felt the most alienated. “It’s mind-boggling,” Luthar says. “We are comparing them to a group of parents we think of as being in dire straits—largely single mothers on welfare whose circumstances are assumed to affect the quality of their parenting. And yet kids from these affluent families, mostly Caucasian, say they feel no closer to their parents than the poor kids do.”

Luthar’s research was incorporated into the 2006 best seller The Price of Privilege, by Madeline Levine, a child psychologist who practices in the Bay Area. She reported that the adolescents she was encountering would “complain bitterly of being too pressured, misunderstood, anxious, angry, sad, and empty.” In the past couple of years, other best sellers have sounded a similar note. William Deresiewicz, a former Yale professor who contributes to this magazine, argues in Excellent Sheep that elite education “manufactures students who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose.” The New York Times columnist Frank Bruni’s Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania warns of the dangers of insisting that admission to an elite college is necessary for a successful life.

After leaving Stanford, Julie Lythcott-Haims wrote a book, published in June, called How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. In it, she confesses that as a dean, she had interacted with students who relied on their parents “in ways that felt, simply, off” and who seemed “existentially impotent.” She detailed the growing mental-health crisis at colleges, and described the brilliant, accomplished students who “would sit on my couch holding their fragile, brittle parts together, resigned to the fact that this outwardly successful situation was their miserable life.”

I’ve read all these books, and so have many of my friends. We have kids this age, or about to be this age, and yet somehow we can’t absorb the message. I didn’t, really, until I spent some time in Palo Alto.

Since Levine wrote The Price of Privilege, she’s watched the stress in the Bay Area and in affluent communities all over the country become more pervasive and more acute. What disturbs her most is that the teenagers she sees no longer rebel. A decade ago, she used to referee family fights in her office, she told me, where the teens would tell their parents, “This is bad for me! I’m not doing this.” Now, she reports, the teenagers have no sense of agency. They still complain bitterly about all the same things, but they feel they have no choice. Many have also fallen prey to what Levine calls a “mass delusion” that there is but one path to a successful life, and that it is very narrow. Adolescents no longer typically identify… [more]
hannahrosin  suicide  siliconvalley  affluence  parenting  schools  education  2015  hannarosin  paloalto  gunnhighschool  anxiety  mentalhealth  children  youth  adolescence  psychology  depression  academics  suniyaluthar 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The Back-to-School-Night Speech We'd Like to Hear* | Psychology Today
"Our top priority here -- and I mean a real, honest-to-goodness commitment, not just a slogan on the website or in a mission statement -- is to learn about and support each student's interests. What questions do they have about the world? How can we help them build on and find answers to those questions? When we meet as a staff, it's usually to think together about how best to do that, how to create a school that's not just academic but intellectual.

We don't want to write a detailed curriculum or devise a bunch of rules in advance and then spend the year demanding that kids conform to them. Our main concern is that what students are learning, and how they're helped to learn it, make sense for the particular kids in a given room. That's why our teachers spend a lot more time asking than telling -- and even more time listening to what the kids wonder about. The plan for learning is created with your kids, not just for them.

Take Ms. _______ and Mr. ________, who are both standing in the back of the room, over there near the fire alarm. (Say hello!) They teach the same grade and the same subjects, but do they have the same curriculum -- the same topics in the same order with the same reading list and assignments? Well, of course not! They teach different kids! And I happen to know that much of what each of them is teaching this year is different from what they were teaching last year. For the same reason.

A good way to tell how successful we are is how excited the students are about figuring stuff out and playing with ideas. Nurturing their desire to learn is more important to us than cramming them full of definitions and dates and details that they're likely to forget anyway. Plus, in my experience, when that excitement is there, academic excellence tends to follow – assuming they've been given the support and resources they need.

So if your children ever seem reluctant to come to school, if you get a sense that they see what they're doing here as a chore, please let us know! Hating school isn't a fact of life; it's a problem to be solved. We're not going to talk about "how to motivate them" or just expect them to "improve their attitude"; it's our responsibility to improve what happens in school. And if it turns out that the curiosity of our students is being smothered by practices that we've come to take for granted, well, we're not going to say, "Too bad. That's life." We're going to rethink those practices.

You want a couple of examples? Well, I think I can safely say -- and feel free, teachers, to contradict me here -- that all of us on the staff used to assume that things like grades, tests, homework, and textbooks were just part of the educational package. So we focused on the details of how we did them -- what seem to us now like piddly little questions. We would solemnly ask: Should grades be posted online -- and what's the best way to do that? Or: Exactly how many minutes of homework should be assigned? Should students be permitted to retake tests? Should textbooks be available digitally? (Boy, that's "innovation" for you, huh? The same collection of predigested facts from a giant publishing conglomerate but, hey, now it's on an iPad!)

Anyway, we gradually realized that because we were so busy asking how to implement x, y, and z, we had let ourselves off the hook by failing to ask whether x, y, or z should be done at all. For instance, a lot of studies have shown that when you give kids grades, they tend to lose interest in what they're learning – and also become less thoughtful in the way they learn it. So if we can offer kids (and also you parents) much more meaningful feedback about how they're doing in school – through written observations and, better yet, in-person conversations -- then why would we risk smothering their excitement about learning by slapping a letter or number on them? We were doing real damage by training kids to think that the point of going to school is to get A's. The solution wasn't to implement “standards-based grading,” or to change “A” to “greatly exceeds expectations,” or ramp up the use of rubrics (which basically take all that's wrong with grades and intensify it). No. The solution was to get rid of grading entirely and replace it with something better. So that's just what we've done. And the results have been nothing short of amazing.

The same thing is true with other old-fashioned practices. Homework creates frustration, anxiety, boredom, exhaustion -- and it's no fun for the kids either! (Ba-dum-bum). So we really paid attention when we discovered teachers -- some in our school, some in other schools -- who had completely stopped assigning homework and found real improvement in the way kids felt about school, about learning, about themselves, and about their teachers -- all without detracting from the quality of their learning. True, kids end up doing less drill and practice when they're free to do what they enjoy after school, but our teachers have gone way beyond the old drill-and-practice approach anyway!

We've seen similar benefits after educating ourselves about how to evaluate kids' understanding of ideas without using tests. And about how textbooks can be left on the shelves, to be consulted occasionally like reference sources, rather than dictating course content. What?? A school without tests or textbooks?? Yes. It's not only possible; it opens new possibilities for learning -- to the point that we wondered why we hadn't ditched these relics years ago.

Well, let's be honest. Some of us wondered that. Others of us are still a little, um, uneasy about completely getting rid of these traditional practices. Some of us understandably need help teaching with primary sources instead of textbooks. Or getting better at knowing how well students are doing (or how we're doing) without giving kids tests and quizzes. Or doing what needs to be done during class instead of saddling kids with more schoolwork after the school day is over.

So we're still struggling with some of this. But we're pretty sure at least we're asking the right questions now. And I'm happy to report that this shift is taking place in all the schools in our district -- elementary, middle, and high schools, since everything I'm talking about tonight is relevant to all grade levels. In fact, at the risk of making your head explode, I could mention that the same is true of a bunch of other features of Old Style education that we're also starting to look at skeptically now: segregating kids by age, or teaching different subjects separately, or even making kids raise their hands so that the teacher alone decides who gets to talk when. If there are solid reasons to keep doing these things, fine. If not, well, "that's the way things have always been done" is a pretty lame justification for not making a change, isn't it?"



"We talk a lot about the importance of creating a caring community of learners. Actually, I guess lots of schools use phrases like that, but one way we prove we really mean it is by making sure we don't do anything that disrupts a feeling of community -- like setting kids against each other in a contest for awards or recognition. The day we start publicly singling out one child as better than everyone else is the day we've given up on the ideal of community. This doesn't mean we don't care about excellence. Just the opposite! Real excellence comes from helping students to see one another as potential collaborators. Sorting them into winners and losers leads each kid to see everyone else as a rival. That undermines achievement (as well as caring and trust) for winners and losers alike. So instead of awards assemblies, you can expect to be invited to student-designed celebrations of what all of us have accomplished together. These ceremonies can be amazingly moving, by the way. If you're used to those rituals where a few kids are called up to the stage to be applauded for having triumphed over their peers, well, you're in for a real treat.

Because we take kids -- all kids -- so seriously here at _________, and because we treat them, and their ideas, with respect, we tend to have remarkably few discipline problems. Few, not none. When there is a problem, we don't talk about it in terms of a kid's "behavior" that needs to be changed; we ask what's going on beneath the behavior. Sometimes what's going on is that something about the school isn't working for that child. That's not a signal to fix the child, to lean on him until he does what he's told. You're sending us your children, not your pets, so we don't use rewards and consequences. We don't bribe or threaten them to make them behave. Hey, we don't like to be treated that way, so why would we treat our students that way? We don't use point systems, or dangle prizes in front of them, or use other strategies of control. Those gimmicks don't really work in the long run, and they're an awfully disrespectful way to treat people of any age. Besides, we find that when the learning is engaging, when our requests are reasonable, when we view students as people to be consulted rather than as bundles of behaviors to be reinforced, most of the time they live up to our expectations. Or even go beyond them.

As the year unfolds, we'll send you occasional letters and e-mails -- and update our website -- about how all this is playing out, about how your child is doing and, more important, what your child is doing. Some teachers host their own blogs or send out periodic newsletters. But don't be worried if sometimes they write things like, "We had a conflict in class that made some kids unhappy so we called a class meeting to work it out" or "Hey, I tried a new way to introduce an unfamiliar concept today, and it bombed so I'm not likely to do that again." If we sent you updates that were always upbeat, implying that every kid loved - and succeeded at - every activity, we'd quickly lose all credibility and you'd discount everything you heard from us. So we'll be tactful but honest in sharing … [more]
alfiekohn  emergentcurriculum  education  unschooling  deschooling  learning  children  schools  priorities  tcsnmy  agency  choice  homework  grades  grading  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  curriculum  reggioemilia  anxiety  boredom  exhaustion  play  democracy  textbooks  caring  progressive  discipline  behavior  competition  awards 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Blame Society, Not the Screen Time - NYTimes.com
"Even though multiple generations have now grown up glued to the flickering light of the TV, we still can’t let go of the belief that the next generation of technology is going to doom our kids. We blame technology, rather than work, to understand why children engage with screens in the first place.

I’ve spent over a decade observing young people’s practices with technology and interviewing families about the dynamics that unfold. When I began my research, I expected to find hordes of teenagers who were escaping “real life” through the Internet. That was certainly my experience. As a geeky, queer youth growing up in suburban America in the early 1990s, the Internet was the only place where I didn’t feel judged. I wanted to go virtual, for my body to not matter, to live in a digital-only world.

To my surprise — and, as I grew older, relief — that differed from what most youth want. Early on in my research, I met a girl in Michigan who told me that she’d much rather get together with her friends in person, but she had so many homework demands and her parents were often concerned about her physical safety. This is why she loved the Internet: She could hang out with her friends there. I've heard this reasoning echoed by youth around the country.

This is the Catch-22 that we’ve trapped today’s youth in. We’ve locked them indoors because we see the physical world as more dangerous than ever before, even though by almost every measure, we live in the safest society to date. We put unprecedented demands on our kids, maxing them out with structured activities, homework and heavy expectations. And then we’re surprised when they’re frazzled and strung out.

For many teenagers, technology is a relief valve. (And that goes for the strung-out, overworked parents and adults playing Candy Crush, too.) It’s not the inherently addictive substance that fretting parents like to imagine. It simply provides an outlet.

The presence of technology alone is not the issue. We see much higher levels of concern about technology “addiction” in countries where there’s even greater pressure to succeed and fewer social opportunities (e.g., China, South Korea, etc.).

If Americans truly want to reduce the amount young people use technology, we should free up more of their time.

For one thing, we could radically reduce the amount of homework and tests American youth take. Finland and the Netherlands consistently outperform the U.S. in school, and they emphasize student happiness, assigning almost no homework. (To be sure, they also respect their teachers and pay them what they’re worth.) When I lecture in these countries, parents don't seem nearly as anxious about technology addiction as Americans.

We should also let children roam. It seems like every few weeks I read a new story about a parent who was visited by child services for letting their school-aged children out of their sight. Indeed, studies in the U.S. and the U.K. consistently show that children have lost the right to roam.

This is why many of our youth turn to technology. They aren’t addicted to the computer; they’re addicted to interaction, and being around their friends. Children, and especially teenagers, don’t want to only socialize with parents and siblings; they want to play with their peers. That’s how they make sense of the world. And we’ve robbed them of that opportunity because we’re afraid of boogeymen.

We’re raising our children in captivity and they turn to technology to socialize, learn and decompress. Why are we blaming the screens?"
2015  danahboyd  teens  youth  freedom  internet  time  screens  screentime  online  social  socialmedia  freetime  homework  socializing  learning  technology  testing  safety  parenting  schools  education  society  us  finland  netherlands  anxiety  uk 
july 2015 by robertogreco
The future of loneliness | Olivia Laing | Society | The Guardian
"Loneliness centres on the act of being seen. When a person is lonely, they long to be witnessed, accepted, desired, at the same time as becoming intensely wary of exposure. According to research carried out over the past decade at the University of Chicago, the feeling of loneliness triggers what psychologists call hypervigilance for social threat. In this state, which is entered into unknowingly, the individual becomes hyperalert to rejection, growing increasingly inclined to perceive social interactions as tinged with hostility or scorn. The result is a vicious circle of withdrawal, in which the lonely person becomes increasingly suspicious, intensifying their sense of isolation.

This is where online engagement seems to exercise its special charm. Hidden behind a computer screen, the lonely person has control. They can search for company without the danger of being revealed or found wanting. They can reach out or they can hide; they can lurk and they can show themselves, safe from the humiliation of face-to-face rejection. The screen acts as a kind of protective membrane, a scrim that allows invisibility and transformation. You can filter your image, concealing unattractive elements, and you can emerge enhanced: an online avatar designed to attract likes. But now a problem arises, for the contact this produces is not the same thing as intimacy. Curating a perfected self might win followers or Facebook friends, but it will not necessarily cure loneliness, since the cure for loneliness is not being looked at, but being seen and accepted as a whole person – ugly, unhappy and awkward, as well as radiant and selfie-ready.

This aspect of digital existence is among the concerns of Sherry Turkle of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has been writing about human-technology interactions for the past three decades. She has become increasingly wary of the capacity of online spaces to fulfil us in the ways we seem to want them to. According to Turkle, part of the problem with the internet is that it encourages self-invention. “At the screen,” she writes in Alone Together (2011), “you have a chance to write yourself into the person you want to be and to imagine others as you wish them to be, constructing them for your purposes. It’s a seductive but dangerous habit of mind.”

But there are other dangers. My own peak use of social media arose during a period of painful isolation. It was the autumn of 2011, and I was living in New York, recently heartbroken and thousands of miles from my family and friends. In many ways, the internet made me feel safe. I liked the contact I got from it: the conversations, the jokes, the accumulation of positive regard, the favouriting on Twitter and the Facebook likes, the little devices designed for boosting egos. Most of the time, it seemed that the exchange, the gifting back and forth of information and attention, was working well, especially on Twitter, with its knack for prompting conversation between strangers. It felt like a community, a joyful place; a lifeline, in fact, considering how cut off I otherwise was. But as the years went by – 1,000 tweets, 2,000 tweets, 17,400 tweets – I had the growing sense that the rules were changing, that it was becoming harder to achieve real connection, though as a source of information it remained unparalleled.

This period coincided with what felt like a profound shift in internet mores. In the past few years, two things have happened: a dramatic rise in online hostility, and a growing awareness that the lovely sense of privacy engendered by communicating via a computer is a catastrophic illusion. The pressure to appear perfect is greater than ever, while the once‑protective screen no longer reliably separates the domains of the real and the virtual. Increasingly, participants in online spaces have become aware that the unknown audience might at any moment turn on them in a frenzy of shaming and scapegoating.

The atmosphere of surveillance and punishment destroys intimacy by making it unsafe to reveal mistakes and imperfections. My own sense of ease on Twitter diminished rapidly when people began posting photos of strangers they had snapped on public transport, sleeping with their mouths open. Knowing that the internet was becoming a site of shaming eroded the feeling of safety that had once made it seem such a haven for the lonely.

The dissolution of the barrier between the public and the private, the sense of being surveilled and judged, extends far beyond human observers. We are also being watched by the very devices on which we make our broadcasts. As the artist and geographer Trevor Paglen recently said in the art magazine Frieze: “We are at the point (actually, probably long past) where the majority of the world’s images are made by machines for machines.” In this environment of enforced transparency, the equivalent of the Nighthawks diner, almost everything we do, from shopping in a supermarket to posting a photograph on Facebook, is mapped, and the gathered data used to predict, monetise, encourage or inhibit our future actions.

This growing entanglement of the corporate and social, this creeping sense of being tracked by invisible eyes, demands an increasing sophistication about what is said and where. The possibility of virulent judgment and rejection induces precisely the kind of hypervigilance and withdrawal that increases loneliness. With this has come the slowly dawning realisation that our digital traces will long outlive us."



"This space, the future now, is characterised, he believes, by a blurring between individuals and networks. “Your existence is shared and maintained and you don’t have control over all of it.”

But Trecartin feels broadly positive about where our embrace of technology might take us. “It’s obvious,” he said, “that none of this stuff can be controlled, so all we can do is steer and help encourage compassionate usage and hope things accumulate in ways that are good for people and not awful … Maybe I’m being naive about this, but all of these things feel natural. It’s like the way we already work. We’re making things that are already in us.”

The key word here is compassion, but I was also struck by his use of the word natural. Critiques of the technological society often seem possessed by a fear that what is happening is profoundly unnatural, that we are becoming post-human, entering what Turkle has called “the robotic moment”. But Surround Audience felt deeply human; an intensely life-affirming combination of curiosity, hopefulness and fear, full of richly creative strategies for engagement and subversion."



"Somehow, the vulnerability expressed by Laric’s film gave me a sense of hope. Talking to Trecartin, who is only three years younger than me, had felt like encountering someone from a different generation. My own understanding of loneliness relied on a belief in solid, separate selves that he saw as hopelessly outmoded. In his worldview, everyone was perpetually slipping into each other, passing through ceaseless cycles of transformation; no longer separate, but interspersed. Perhaps he was right. We aren’t as solid as we once thought. We are embodied but we are also networks, living on inside machines and in other people’s heads; memories and data streams. We are being watched and we do not have control. We long for contact and it makes us afraid. But as long as we are still capable of feeling and expressing vulnerability, intimacy stands a chance."
2015  olivialaing  loneliness  internet  isolation  urbanism  edwardhopper  online  presentationofself  sherryturkle  behavior  shaming  scapegoating  vulnerability  honesty  conversation  connection  web  socialmedia  facebook  twitter  surveillance  sousveillance  trevorpaglen  brucebenderson  aloneness  technology  future  anxiety  jeancocteau  ryantrecartin  peterschjeldahl  laurencornell  joshkline  frankbenson  art  film  jenniferegan  aurroundaudience  compassion  oliverlaric  intimacy  networks  collectivism  individualism  transformation 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Insights: K-HOLE, New York — Insights: K-HOLE, New York — Channel — Walker Art Center
"K-HOLE exists in multiple states at once: it is both a publication and a collective; it is both an artistic practice and a consulting firm; it is both critical and unapologetically earnest. Its five members come from backgrounds as varied as brand strategy, fine art, web development, and fashion, and together they have released a series of fascinating PDF publications modeled upon corporate trend forecasting reports. These documents appropriate the visuals of PowerPoint, stock photography, and advertising and exploit the inherent poetry in the purposefully vague aphorisms of corporate brand-speak. Ultimately, K-HOLE aspires to utilize the language of trend forecasting to discuss sociopolitical topics in depth, exploring the capitalist landscape of advertising and marketing in a critical but un-ironic way.

In the process, the group frequently coins new terms to articulate their ideas, such as “Youth Mode”: a term used to describe the prevalent attitude of youth culture that has been emancipated from any particular generation; the “Brand Anxiety Matrix”: a tool designed to help readers understand their conflicted relationships with the numerous brands that clutter their mental space on a daily basis; and “Normcore”: a term originally used to describe the desire not to differentiate oneself, which has since been mispopularized (by New York magazine) to describe the more specific act of dressing neutrally to avoid standing out. (In 2014, “Normcore” was named a runner-up by Oxford University Press for “Neologism of the Year.”)

Since publishing K-HOLE, the collective has taken on a number of unique projects that reflect the manifold nature of their practice, from a consulting gig with a private equity firm to a collaboration with a fashion label resulting in their own line of deodorant. K-HOLE has been covered by a wide range of publications, including the New York Times, Fast Company, Wired UK, and Mousse.

Part of Insights 2015 Design Lecture Series."

[direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GkMPN5f5cQ ]
k-hole  consumption  online  internet  communication  burnout  normcore  legibility  illegibility  simplicity  technology  mobile  phones  smartphones  trends  fashion  art  design  branding  brands  socialmedia  groupchat  texting  oversharing  absence  checkingout  aesthetics  lifestyle  airplanemode  privilege  specialness  generations  marketing  trendspotting  coping  messaging  control  socialcapital  gregfong  denayago  personalbranding  visibility  invisibility  identity  punk  prolasticity  patagonia  patience  anxietymatrix  chaos  order  anxiety  normality  abnormality  youth  millennials  individuality  box1824  hansulrichobrist  alternative  indie  culture  opposition  massindie  williamsburg  simoncastets  digitalnatives  capitalism  mainstream  semiotics  subcultures  isolation  2015  walkerartcenter  maxingout  establishment  difference  89plus  basicness  evasion  blandness  actingbasic  empathy  indifference  eccentricity  blankness  tolerance  rebellion  signalling  status  coolness  aspiration  connections  relationships  presentationofself  understanding  territorialism  sociology  ne 
march 2015 by robertogreco
NINE WORLDS GEEKFEST
"Hi! I keep these on my computer and I wanted to make this post for someone… Feel free to add sources - I don’t have them :)

Breathe in and out with this box

imageimageimageimageFollow the brush with your eyesimage"Press" this buttonimageFollow the brush with your eyes (again)"
gifs  animatedgifs  via:tealtan  meditation  anxiety  soothing  gifzen 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Right to Control One's Learning - The Natural Child Project
"Young people should have the right to control and direct their own learning; that is, to decide what they want to learn, and when, where, how, how much, how fast, and with what help they want to learn it. To be still more specific, I want them to have the right to decide if, when, how much, and by whom they want to be taught and the right to decide whether they want to learn in a school and if so which one and for how much of the time.

No human right, except the right to life itself, is more fundamental than this. A person's freedom of learning is part of his freedom of thought, even more basic than his freedom of speech. If we take from someone his right to decide what he will be curious about, we destroy his freedom of thought. We say, in effect, you must think not about what interests and concerns you, but about what interests and concerns us.

We might call this the right of curiosity, the right to ask whatever questions are most important to us. As adults, we assume that we have the right to decide what does or does not interest us, what we will look into and what we will leave alone. We take this right for granted, cannot imagine that it might be taken away from us. Indeed, as far as I know, it has never been written into any body of law. Even the writers of our Constitution did not mention it. They thought it was enough to guarantee citizens the freedom of speech and the freedom to spread their ideas as widely as they wished and could. It did not occur to them that even the most tyrannical government would try to control people's minds, what they thought and knew. That idea was to come later, under the benevolent guise of compulsory universal education.

This right of each of us to control our own learning is now in danger. When we put into our laws the highly authoritarian notion that someone should and could decide what all young people were to learn and, beyond that, could do whatever might seem necessary (which now includes dosing them with drugs) to compel them to learn it, we took a long step down a very steep and dangerous path. The requirement that a child go to school, for about six hours a day, 180 days a year, for about ten years, whether or not he learns anything there, whether or not he already knows it or could learn it faster or better somewhere else, is such a gross violation of civil liberties that few adults would stand for it. But the child who resists is treated as a criminal.

The right I ask for the young is a right that I want to preserve for the rest of us, the right to decide what goes into our minds. This is much more than the right to decide whether or when or how much to go to school or what school you want to go to. That right is important, but it is only part of a much larger and more fundamental right, which I might call the right to learn, as opposed to being educated, i.e. made to learn what someone else thinks would be good for you. It is not just compulsory schooling but compulsory education that I oppose and want to do away with.

That children might have the control of their own learning, including the right to decide if, when, how much, and where they wanted to go to school, frightens and angers many people. They ask me, "Are you saying that if the parents wanted the child to go to school, and the child didn't want to go, that he wouldn't have to go? Are you saying that if the parents wanted the child to go to one school, and the child wanted to go to another, that the child would have the right to decide?" Yes, that is what I say. Some people ask, "If school wasn't compulsory, wouldn't many parents take their children out of school to exploit their labor in one way or another?" Such questions are often both snobbish and hypocritical. The questioner assumes and implies (though rarely says) that these bad parents are people poorer and less schooled than he. Also, though he appears to be defending the right of children to go to school, what he really is defending is the right of the state to compel them to go whether they want to or not. What he wants, in short, is that children should be in school, not that they should have any choice about going.

But saying that children should have the right to choose to go or not to go to school does not mean that the ideas and wishes of the parents would have no weight. Unless he is estranged from his parents and rebelling against them, a child cares very much about what they think and want. Most of the time, he doesn't want to anger or worry or disappoint them. Right now, in families where the parents feel that they have some choice about their children's schooling, there is much bargaining about schools. Such parents, when their children are little, often ask them whether they want to go to nursery school or kindergarten. Or they may take them to school for a while to try it out. Or, if they have a choice of schools, they may take them to several to see which they think they will like the best. Later, they care whether the child likes his school. If he does not, they try to do something about it, get him out of it, find a school he will like.

I know some parents who for years had a running bargain with their children, "If on a given day you just can't stand the thought of school, you don't feel well, you are afraid of something that may happen, you have something of your own that you very much want to do - well, you can stay home." Needless to say, the schools, with their supporting experts, fight it with all their might - Don't Give in to Your Child, Make Him Go to School, He's Got to Learn. Some parents, when their own plans make it possible for them to take an interesting trip, take their children with them. They don't ask the school's permission, they just go. If the child doesn't want to make the trip and would rather stay in school, they work out a way for him to do that. Some parents, when their child is frightened, unhappy, and suffering in school, as many children are, just take him out. Hal Bennett, in his excellent book No More Public School, talks about ways to do this.

To say that children should have the right to control and direct their own learning, to go to school or not as they choose, does not mean that the law would forbid the parents to express an opinion or wish or strong desire on the matter. It only means that if their natural authority is not strong enough the parents can't call in the cops to make the child do what they are not able to persuade him to do. And the law may say that there is a limit to the amount of pressure or coercion the parents can apply to the child to deny him a choice that he has a legal right to make.

When I urge that children should control their learning there is one argument that people bring up so often that I feel I must anticipate and meet it here. It says that schools are a place where children can for a while be protected against the bad influences of the world outside, particularly from its greed, dishonesty, and commercialism. It says that in school children may have a glimpse of a higher way of life, of people acting from other and better motives than greed and fear. People say, "We know that society is bad enough as it is and that children will be exposed to it and corrupted by it soon enough. But if we let children go out into the larger world as soon as they wanted, they would be tempted and corrupted just that much sooner."

They seem to believe that schools are better, more honorable places than the world outside - what a friend of mine at Harvard once called "museums of virtue." Or that people in school, both children and adults, act from higher and better motives than people outside. In this they are mistaken. There are, of course, some good schools. But on the whole, far from being the opposite of, or an antidote to, the world outside, with all its envy, fear, greed, and obsessive competitiveness, the schools are very much like it. If anything, they are worse, a terrible, abstract, simplified caricature of it. In the world outside the school, some work, at least, is done honestly and well, for its own sake, not just to get ahead of others; people are not everywhere and always being set in competition against each other; people are not (or not yet) in every minute of their lives subject to the arbitrary, irrevocable orders and judgment of others. But in most schools, a student is every minute doing what others tell him, subject to their judgment, in situations in which he can only win at the expense of other students.

This is a harsh judgment. Let me say again, as I have before, that schools are worse than most of the people in them and that many of these people do many harmful things they would rather not do, and a great many other harmful things that they do not even see as harmful. The whole of school is much worse than the sum of its parts. There are very few people in the U.S. today (or perhaps anywhere, any time) in any occupation, who could be trusted with the kind of power that schools give most teachers over their students. Schools seem to me among the most anti-democratic, most authoritarian, most destructive, and most dangerous institutions of modern society. No other institution does more harm or more lasting harm to more people or destroys so much of their curiosity, independence, trust, dignity, and sense of identity and worth. Even quite kindly schools are inhibited and corrupted by the knowledge of children and teachers alike that they are performing for the judgment and approval of others - the children for the teachers; the teachers for the parents, supervisors, school board, or the state. No one is ever free from feeling that he is being judged all the time, or soon may be. Even after the best class experiences teachers must ask themselves, "Were we right to do that? Can we prove we were right? Will it get us in trouble?"

What corrupts the school, and makes it so much worse than most of the people in it, or than they would like it to be, is its power - just as their powerlessness corrupts the students. The school is corrupted by the… [more]
1974  johnholt  education  children  schools  schooling  society  control  power  unschooling  deschooling  anxiety  competition  hierarchy  ranking  democracy  authoritatianism  parenting  via:willrichardson 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Don’t do away with the fairies: we need to relearn our sense of the magical | Sara Maitland | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Woods are magical. Throughout northern Europe they are deeply linked to older ways of being, to what we might now like to dismiss as superstitious, childish nonsense.

But we cannot so simply wipe this out. Woods are our original home. If we do not populate the woods with imagination, with stories, with wonders, we will destroy them, or limit our own flourishing – or both.

I believe that most of us have a deep yearning for the magical, for a secret “otherness”, for an environment flowing with abundance – not just with nature but with super-nature too; with a rich background of stories and concepts and images, to inform our individual imaginations and give them actual material to come to grips with.

We know that our children are growing up richer and safer, less likely to die in childhood than ever. We also know that they (and their grownups ) have increasingly poor mental health, with higher levels of depression, anxiety, attention deficit problems and eating disorders. There are lots of reasons for this, of course; it is complex and complicated. But in 2012 a survey suggested that more than half of Icelanders believe in, or at least entertain the possibility of the existence of, the huldufólk – the hidden people, the elves. Iceland ranks well above the UK in social stability, equality and most noticeably happiness (ninth in the world, compared with our 22nd). Is it possible that there is a connection? And would we lose anything by assuming that there might be?"
nature  forests  woods  children  imagination  creativity  fantasy  iceland  magic  mentalhealth  environment  hiddenpeople  huldufólk  depression  anxiety  otherness  trees 
march 2015 by robertogreco
In test-based systems, even young kids resist learning
"Children show a vastly improved ability to absorb knowledge when they are allowed to make some of their own decisions about what they want to learn.

Testing, in other words, gets in the way – and worse.

Indeed, as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation comes up for re-authorization this week President Obama has himself stated that testing should be cut down to “a bare minimum.”

Testing was introduced by policymakers during the eighties as a way to measure how much kids were learning in classrooms. But now there is research that shows it is detrimental and that technology may offer better ways to track learning.

Learning skills in first grade

My own research has shown that children develop a range of sophisticated capabilities when their learning environments allow them, at least in part, to decide how and what they learn.

I spent four years in Texas first grade classrooms, as part of my Agency and Young Children project where students - mostly children of immigrants - were allowed to choose research topics, move freely around their classroom, and collaborate on projects.

I observed these young children gain critical literacy and numeracy skills. Children, who had initially refused to learn English, became so engaged that they started writing Spanish and English words to label a model volcano. Instead of resisting learning in English or Spanish, they started asking for more and more words.

When children feel comfortable sharing their stories, they write better. When children can initiate conversations, they are more likely to listen to one another. And when children have what I call “agency” or the ability to influence or make decisions in their learning, they develop a wider and deeper range of capabilities than just standard math and literacy skills.

It was policy-makers, who without much input from teachers, researchers or parents, started pushing for testing, starting in the 1980s and leading upto the early 1990s.

Over time, it was seen that testing was not the best measure. Researchers at Stanford have, in fact, found that testing is a terrible, stand-alone measure of accountability.

Other evidence against testing has been mounting as well. Earlier in 2015, teachers testifying to Congress emphasized the effects of standardized testing on teaching and learning from NCLB.

Creative use of technology could replace testing

Perhaps, the most troubling of these are the harsh realities of how testing pressures change the learning experiences of kindergarteners and preschoolers.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) argues that testing for young children should be developmentally appropriate as well as have some benefit to the child.

In an attempt to move away from testing, some teachers are using technology to broaden and deepen the ways children can demonstrate what they know and can do. Relatively accessible recording devices found on phones, iPads and cameras can be used by children to demonstrate what they are learning.

For example, I recently visited a teacher in Austin who is using croak.it to share with parents what their children are learning about the civil rights movement and ideas about race, justice and community.

Early testing leads to labeling, and parent anxiety

Testing emphasizes learning as “right and wrong answers”, which is not the way most kids learn. Kids have been shown to learn through trial and error as well as discovery. Testing values directions and achievement over creativity and a range of learning experiences.

In addition, early testing leads to early labeling, parent anxiety as well as teacher recruitment and retention issues. Testing has a demonstrable detrimental impact even on children’s happiness.

As an early childhood teacher educator, I find myself sympathizing with teachers who, under pressure from administrators and policymakers, have to prepare young children to be successful on tests that begin in third grade.

Testing has pressured teachers to move away from experiments, discovery and creative projects to more instruction and directions. Kindergarten teachers are being asked to prepare children for right and wrong answers, instead of creating lesson plans that allow children to make their own decisions.

No longer do five year olds in schools spend their days in imaginative play, or design. In fact, young children often go hours without recess or the ability to move and explore.

Just a few months ago in a well-performing Texas school, I saw classrooms where five-year-old children were trying to follow their enthusiastic and kind teachers through 90 minutes of district-mandated literacy instruction using a 300-page textbook.

Teachers find it difficult to get to know children and their families or to build on the individual strengths and interests of the increasingly diverse groups of kids in their classrooms.

This is even more problematic for the over one in four children from immigrant communities whose parents face disproportionate barriers in working with teachers and schools.

Testing leads to teacher retention issues

Sometimes advocates for standardized testing argue that tests, including benchmark or “school readiness” tests help catch learning problems early.

Yet, usually, it is a smart, thoughtful, observant teacher who, by watching, engaging and interacting with children each day, spots someone having trouble with oral language, fine motor skills, conflict or letter recognition.

So much testing also puts us at risk of losing teachers.The National Education Association (NEA) reports that nearly half of teachers want to leave the profession because of standardized testing.

These concerns about testing are now being reflected in President Obama’s keenness to cutt down testing. But if leaders are serious about changing the testing climate in schools, they need to act fast for the sake of the youngest students.

As one teacher sadly explained to me during a workshop on children’s agency, “It is hard to give kids a lot of freedom in my classroom when I don’t really have any myself.”"
testing  learning  howwelearn  children  schools  2015  nclb  standardizedtesting  accountability  jenniferkeysadair  ece  earlychildhood  anxiety  howweteach  teaching 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Rev Dan Catt: The Pen
"I've been asked about my pen (for reals) a couple of times, so I thought I'd write a blog post about it. It's a Tombow Zoom 707 Ballpoint Pen (amazon UK/US), it cost £28 and I bought it for myself as a Christmas present.

I keep two Field Notes notebooks in my pocket, at night I take them out and put them on the bedside table. My life is dense, not hectic, not crazy busy, just every moment is filled. We have three kids, we home educate, the start-up I'm involved in is blowing up, I try to swim, I try to run, I'm learning the bass, I try and put together a podcast that takes an age, sometimes I even try to write a blog post or two. In all of that there's hardly any time to do other stuff, although that doesn't stop me thinking about other stuff. That other stuff goes down in one of the two notebooks.

When I think of something I often can't get to a laptop or my phone in time, I tried, the thoughts don't stay in my head long enough to survive the gauntlet of children asking me things on the way upstairs. If you've watched the film Memento it's like that scene where he's looking around for a pen to write the thing down before he forgets it. I decided I needed notebooks and a pen with me at all times.

I think it's the most I've ever spent on a pen.

Before this I used the Field Notes pen that came with the notebooks. It's a good pen, feels nice to hold, flows well but the clip doesn't clip it in my pocket properly. I can't slide it into my jeans without having to put a fingernail round the back of the clip to make sure it clips properly. When I sit down the pen didn't stay in the same place.

It was all kinds of wrong.

The Zoom 707 slides into the pocket right next to the seam, and better still it stays there, after all I didn't want to lose a £28 pen. For the next few days I'd reach down and feel for the red ball on the clip, to know it was still there.

Now it's a reflex action, I'll brush my hand past the side seam of my jeans and feel if the pen's clip is still there. When I feel it I know I can't forget anything, life is speeding on but in that one moment I know I haven't left anything behind. If I need to remember something it's in the notebook, if it's in the notebook I don't need to remember it. I can clear my mind and move onto the next thing.

When I stop to take a moment, I can touch the red ball feel it against my fingertips and the memory of the last thing I wrote comes back to me. It's a shortcut to having to open the notebook and read it back.

It's a memory machine, a meditation device and an anchor."
worrybeads  fidgettools  anxiety  anti-anxietydevices  2015  pens  revdancatt  notetaking  memory  notes  notebooks  outboardboardmemory  ideas  kombolói  cv 
february 2015 by robertogreco
what what. (There is a pervasive form of modern violence to...)
"There is a pervasive form of modern violence to which the idealist…most easily succumbs: activism and over-work. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.

The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his (or her) work… It destroys the fruitfulness of his (or her)…work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful."

—Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
thomasmerton  activism  burnout  rush  pressure  anxiety  urgency  slow  violence  work  labor  overwork 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Anab Jain, “Design for Anxious Times” on Vimeo
"As 2014 rushes past us, a venture capital firm appoints a computer algorithm to its board of directors, robots report news events such as earthquakes before any human can, fully functioning 3D printed ears, bones and guns are in use, the world’s biggest search company acquires large scale, fully autonomous military robots, six-year old children create genetically modified glow fish and an online community of 50,000 amateurs build drones. All this whilst extreme weather events and political unrest continue to pervade. This is just a glimpse of the increased state of technological acceleration and cultural turbulence we experience today. How do we make sense of this? What can designers do? Dissecting through her studio Superflux’s projects, research practice and approach, Anab will make a persuasive case for designers to adopt new roles as sense-makers, translators and agent provocateurs of the 21st century. Designers with the conceptual toolkits that can create a visceral connection with the complexity and plurality of the worlds we live in, and open up an informed dialogue that help shape better futures for all."
anabjain  superflux  2014  design  future  futures  via:steelemaley  criticaldesign  speculativedesign  speculativefiction  designfiction  designdiscourse  film  filmmaking  technology  interaction  documentary  uncertainty  reality  complexity  algorithms  data  society  surveillance  cloud  edwardsnowden  chelseamanning  julianassange  whistleblowing  science  bentobox  genecoin  bitcoin  cryptocurrency  internet  online  jugaad  war  warfare  information  politics  drones  software  adamcurtis  isolation  anxiety  capitalism  quantification  williamgibson  art  prototyping  present 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Fidget Tools: Anti-Anxiety Technology and Magic — In Real Life
"I was playing Twitter with @rogre the other night, and we made a conceptual leap that led me to recognize one of my favorite forms of technology. I was asking around for opinions on the best Qur’an translation (I ended up going with this one), and @rogre suggested some apps I could use for text search and audio while I read. He then added this, which I found inscrutable for only half a second:

@ablaze No substitute for beads, though. http://t.co/DVE93ngqYx + http://t.co/c5SDdvEC87 Maybe in a jam, I suppose.

— Roberto Greco (@rogre) November 2, 2014
His post showed this beautiful contrast between the car key remote he’d used for 11 years and the other key, which had never been used. The amount of wear on the object in 11 years was amazing, and @rogre reported missing the comforting texture of the old one after it was replaced with the immaculate copy. It “served not only as the key to the car,” @rogre said, “but also as my fidget tool or Kombolói-like Anti-Anxiety Device.”

If his point was that reading scripture is no substitute for fidgeting with a sacred object, I agreed wholeheartedly. I love tumbling sacred verses in my mind as much as the next religious person, but I need my fidget tools.

[image]

I did not have to look up what “kombolói” meant, because I was already intimately familiar with the idea. Since I was a kid, I’ve kept rocks and crystals I use as my “fidget tools.” I certainly think of them as anti-anxiety devices, although their significance to me is really on the level of magic or spiritual power. My latest one is a tektite, a rock-like glass formed from terrestrial debris by the impact of a meteorite. It means a great deal to me — it’s even implicated in the completion of In Real Life — and I roll it in my hands constantly to absorb its good vibes and release my bad ones.

As I told @rogre, I think I learned the practice from my mother’s father, who had a set of Baoding balls that mystified me. He gave me his tefillin, another kind of fidgety sacred object that I get plenty of use out of, but I think he took the Baoding balls with him to Heaven.

Sure enough, kombolói are a long-standing technology for passing time and defraying anxiety. They look like prayer beads, but they need not have explicitly religious meanings. Such objects can definitely serve as powerful totems — and mine do, as I said — but I’m particularly interested right now in just that more basic, immediate way of using them as “anti-anxiety devices.”

@rogre opened a vast wormhole of links to read here (his ongoing catalog of sacred objects and theories thereof can be found on Pinboard), but I think the treasure at the bottom is this post from Julian at Near Future Laboratory. He designed a high-tech, light-emitting kombolói with lots of craft and care.

There’s a category of technology here that I care deeply about. I’m still seeking a name for it that will suffice for me. “Totem” only covers the magic part, “worry bead” only the anxiety part. Neither name conveys the critical role of the tactile sensations by which this technology works. I could just go with “kombolói” precisely because of its enchanting lack of precise meaning for me. For the purposes of coming up with a tag for this blog, though, I’ll call them fidget tools like @rogre did.

I hope it’s clear that fidget tools are a technology, and that their technology-ness does not reside in components or engineering. Whether they’re painstakingly wired and programmed or fused in the blast of a meteorite impact, all fidget tools operate in the exact same way: by fitting reassuringly in a human hand."

[Referenced here: http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/101657563708/november-begins-with ]
worrybeads  jonmitchell  2014  comments  fidgeting  fidgettools  tefillin  baodingballs  kombolói  religion  anxiety  ritual  technology  tektite  anti-anxietydevices  rituals 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Rox and Roll: Parents: let Harvard go
"I want to tell every parent reading this post that you need to assume, right now, that your child is not getting into Harvard no matter what he or she does. (And no, he's not getting into Stanford either, or Yale, or Dartmouth, or MIT. Probably not UC Berkeley either. No, I'm not kidding.) Your kid isn't getting into the college you think he is.

What? So-and-so's child is at Princeton right now? and got what on his SATs? and did those activities? Hmmm. Interesting. Sure, you can prove me wrong with some examples. And I can prove myself right with a hundred more. Stanford's rate of admission was below 5% last year. Do the math.

In the spirit of "I want to do something," I offer below some Q & A that I hope y'all read and take to heart. These are real questions asked by real parents of real kids I know within the past year. I didn't answer these questions at the time exactly like I did below, but I answer them here and now based on a combination of my expertise in admissions (noting that nothing I say here should be construed as official advice or information given on behalf of any school) as well as my experience as a community leader and parent.

And be forewarned: I'm going to be a bit of a wise-ass, 'cause we all need to calm down like Martha says, which also means "lighten up" in my book.

But also, I promise a reward at the end: questions that I wish people would ask me instead. And I think -- I hope -- it's some valuable stuff."



"Post-publication note: This posts seems to have reached a lot of people who have a lot of strong reactions to it. I think the comment that reached me most on another person's Facebook page is one from a parent who thinks I am encouraging mediocrity. The snarky part of me wants to tell the dude he's right, that I tell my kids "aim low." But the truth is, this post is far from encouraging mediocrity or "settling" for anything less than a child can feel good about achieving. As a Palo Alto parent, I am tired of our culture of 'achievement' as defined by grades, scores, college admissions, and the like. And I am unapologetic about that. I have worked with our community's teens as a coach, as a youth minister, as a mentor, and as a parent, and I encourage every kid to be their best self. That means being proud of their work, whether in the classroom, on the playing field, and/or in the world. Do I think they need to engage in competition for one of those 15 slots at Stanford (there is no fixed number, and I wouldn't know it if there were) by trying to outwit, outplay, and outlast (to borrow "Survivor" lingo)? Nope. And beyond that, there are going to be times when our kids just don't want to work hard because they're kids and continue to push boundaries. They're going to blow off studying for a test. They're going to fail something. Good. That's right -- I said good. Their mistakes teach them that actions have consequences and that their effort ties to their outcomes. We can't give them that with carrots or with sticks. They'll figure it out. They want to do well -- as they define it. (They know what's up with college admissions without us even getting involved, parents.) And the more they figure out for themselves, with no message from us other than "we take you as you are and want you to be healthy and fulfilled," the healthier our kids are going to be. I want nothing but the best for our village's kids -- for any kids-- and I stuck my neck out there with the post because I refuse to define the "best" as it has been anymore. The best for our kids is no more of them self-harming in any way, and I feel like we can alleviate some of that by changing our tone."
colleges  universityis  admissions  parenting  2014  via:willrichardson  stress  pressure  anxiety  aps  ivyleague  motivation  harvard  collegeadmissions  testing  standardizedtesting  success  achievement  mediocrity  grades  grading  standards  sleep  teens  adolescence  highschool  schools  education  competition  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  apclasses 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Paul Ford, Ftrain - XOXO Festival (2014) - YouTube
"Paul Ford isn't easy to sum up, so we originally copped out and wrote the silly one-line bio we read before his talk. He's one of the most talented writers and programmers we know, frighteningly and frustratingly accomplished at both. He most recently created Tilde.club—a Unix server that is definitely not a social network—writes for The Message on Medium, and is working on a book about web pages for FSG while raising twins in Brooklyn, NY. He is a really great hugger."
paulford  internet  slow  time  notetaking  writing  depression  anxiety  2014  xoxo2014  xoxo  making  humility  harpers  quantifiedself  howwelearn  howwewrite 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Happiness and Its Discontents - NYTimes.com
"Over the past 30 years or so, as the field of happiness studies has emerged from social psychology, economics and other disciplines, many researchers have had the same thought. Indeed this “life satisfaction” view of happiness lies behind most of the happiness studies you’ve read about. Happiness embodies your judgment about your life, and what matters for your happiness is something for you to decide.

This is an appealing view. But I have come to believe that it is probably wrong. Or at least, it can’t do justice to our everyday concerns about happiness.

One of the most remarkable findings in this area of psychology, for instance, is just how many poor people say they are satisfied with their lives — very often a majority of them, even in harsh environments like the slums of Calcutta. In a recent study of poor Egyptians, researchers asked them to explain why they were satisfied, and their responses often took something like this form: “One day is good and the other one is bad; whoever accepts the least lives.” This sounds like resignation, not happiness. Yet these Egyptians were, in terms of life satisfaction, happy.

The problem is that life satisfaction doesn’t really mean what we tend to think it means. For you can reasonably be satisfied with your life even if you think your life is going badly for you, and even if you feel bad. To be satisfied is just to regard your life as going well enough — it is satisfactory. You might think even a hard slog through a joyless existence is good enough. It sure beats being dead, and maybe you feel you have no right to complain about what God, or fate, has given you."



"I would suggest that when we talk about happiness, we are actually referring, much of the time, to a complex emotional phenomenon. Call it emotional well-being. Happiness as emotional well-being concerns your emotions and moods, more broadly your emotional condition as a whole. To be happy is to inhabit a favorable emotional state.

On this view, we can think of happiness, loosely, as the opposite of anxiety and depression. Being in good spirits, quick to laugh and slow to anger, at peace and untroubled, confident and comfortable in your own skin, engaged, energetic and full of life. To measure happiness, we might use extended versions of existing questionnaires for anxiety and depression from the mental-health literature. Already, such diagnostics often ask questions about positive states like laughter and cheerfulness, or your ability to enjoy things.

The emotional state theory of happiness has significant advantages over the hedonistic view. Consider, for starters, that we don’t normally think of pain as an emotion or mood. It seems more natural, for example, to think of back pain as something that causes unhappiness, not as unhappiness itself. A more important point is that we are fundamentally emotional beings. Who we are is in great part defined by our emotional natures, by what ways of living make us happy. Yes, we have animal needs for food, shelter, clothing and the like. But we also have needs as persons, and happiness concerns the fulfillment of those needs.

What sorts of needs are we talking about? Among the most important sources of happiness are: a sense of security; a good outlook; autonomy or control over our lives; good relationships; and skilled and meaningful activity. If you are unhappy, there’s a good chance that it’s for want of something on this list.

Unhappiness is not just a brute physical or animal response to your life. It is you, as a person, responding to your life as being somehow deficient. Unhappiness, like happiness, says something about your personality. Whereas back pain does not: It is just a sensation, something that happens to you. Accordingly, Buddhists and Stoics do not counsel us not to feel pain; their training aims, instead, at not letting pain and other irritants get to us.

Our language also marks the difference: You merely feel a pain, but you are depressed, anxious, melancholy or whatever. Similarly, you might have a depressive or anxious or cheerful personality. But we never talk of someone having a “painful” or “pleasureful” personality."
life  happiness  satisfaction  socialpsychology  psychology  poverty  danielhaybron  unhappiness  well-being  anxiety  depression  emotions  2014 
may 2014 by robertogreco
The Agony of Perfectionism - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic
"The fortress of classic economics was built on the slushy marsh of rational consumer theory. The once-popular belief that we all possess every relevant piece of information to make choices about buying fridges, TVs, or whatever, has since given way to a less commendable, but more accurate, description of buyers, which is that we basically have no freaking clue what we're doing most of the time. Prices, marketing, discounts, even the layout of store and shelves: They're all hazards strewn about the obstacle course of decision-making, tripping us up, blocking our path, and nudging us toward choices that are anything but rational.

Today, rather than consider consumers to be a monolith of reason, some economists and psychologists prefer to think of us as falling into two mood groups: maximizers and satisficers. Maximizers are perfectionists. They want the best of everything, and they want to know they have the best of everything. Satisficers are realists. They want what's good enough, and they're happy to have it.

The trouble with perfectionists is that, by wanting the best, they aspire to be perfectly rational consumers in a world where we all agree that's impossible. It's a recipe for dissatisfaction, way too much work, and even depression.

In "Maximizing Versus Satisficing: Happiness Is a Matter of Choice," published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that maximizers are more likely to be have regret and depression and less likely to report being happy, optimistic, or have high self-esteem.

To be a maximizer requires an "impossible" and "exhaustive search of the possibilities," that invariably ends with regret when the person realizes, after the purchase, that there might have been a better choice. This regret actually "[reduces] the satisfaction derived from one’s choice." The paradox of caring too much about having the perfect version of everything is that you wind up feel dissatisfied with all of it.

A new paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research further illuminates the onerous woe of perfectionism. Maximizers apply for more jobs, attend more job interviews, spend more time worrying about their social status, and wind up less happy, less optimistic, "and more depressed and regretful" than everybody else.

In a battery of tests designed to prime subjects to act like maximizers and satisficers, the researchers validated just about every stereotype about perfectionists: They work harder, search more deeply, and perform better in their jobs, but the emotional byproducts of their accomplishments are regret and dissatisfaction. (You might say that hard-earned success in life is wasted on the people least likely to appreciate it.)

Both papers concluded that the Internet is a briar patch of misery for maximizers. Not only does it allow them to more easily compare their lot to the sepia-toned success stories of their peers on Facebook and Instagram, but also it makes comparison shopping hell. From the first paper's discussion section:
The proliferation of options [online] raises people’s standards for determining what counts as a success, [from] breakfast cereals to automobiles to colleges to careers. Second, failure to meet those standards in a domain containing multiple options encourages one to treat failures as the result of personal shortcomings rather than situational limitations, thus encouraging a causal attribution for failure that we might call “depressogenic.” [ed: had to look that one up.]

In short: The Internet doesn't have to make you miserable. But if you insist on comparing your choices and your life to every available alternative accessible through a Google search, it will.

For consumers, this means embracing the limitations of classical economics. We don't know everything. We don't have everything. And that's okay. Pretending otherwise is, in fact, anything but rational."

[See also: http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bschwar1/maximizing.pdf ]
choice  choices  paradoxofchoice  perfectionists  satisficers  economics  rationality  reason  2014  unhappiness  happiness  depression  jobhunting  perfectionism  optimism  regret  worry  anxiety  possibilities  satisfaction  caring  self-esteem  realism  derekthompson  advertising  internet  infooverload  information  comparison 
march 2014 by robertogreco
It's not only adults who need comfort reading | Books | theguardian.com
"A new report into what children are reading at school shows a "marked downturn in difficulty of books at secondary transfer", it was revealed today. The books children are reading in year 7, according to the report What Kids Are Reading, include tons of Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid titles and David Almond's (wonderful) Skellig, along with Roald Dahl's The Twits and George's Marvellous Medicine. By year 7, says the study, which calculates the reading level of a book using software that measures the text's complexity, "students are reading at over a year below their chronological age".

According to the report's author, Professor Keith Topping, this is a "matter for alarm". According to Philip Pullman, speaking on Radio 4 on Wednesday, there's not much need for panic. "Isn't it only the natural thing to do? You go from being a big child in a small school to a very small child in a very big school. There's all sorts of new anxieties, new people to meet, thousands of new things to do – so isn't it natural you turn back to the things you felt safe with when you were younger? I remember doing that myself," said Pullman. "I am a bit puzzled why there's all this anxiety, that they're not reading for pleasure, that they're reading the wrong books. Well, no, it's not the wrong book. If the child is enjoying it, it's the right book.""
via:ayjay  books  reading  howweread  education  anxiety  readinglevel  2014  pleasure  children  schools  philippullman 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Why Parents Hate Parenting -- New York Magazine
"Of course, this should not be a surprise. If you are no longer fretting about spending too little time with your children after they’re born (because you have a year of paid maternity leave), if you’re no longer anxious about finding affordable child care once you go back to work (because the state subsidizes it), if you’re no longer wondering how to pay for your children’s education and health care (because they’re free)—well, it stands to reason that your own mental health would improve. When Kahneman and his colleagues did another version of his survey of working women, this time comparing those in Columbus, Ohio, to those in Rennes, France, the French sample enjoyed child care a good deal more than its American counterpart. “We’ve put all this energy into being perfect parents,” says Judith Warner, author of Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety, “instead of political change that would make family life better.”"
parenting  via:tom.hoffman  2010  policy  anxiety  politics  families  us  france  happiness  judithwarner 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Body Atlas Reveals Where We Feel Happiness and Shame - D-brief | DiscoverMagazine.com
"Chests puffing up with pride — and happiness felt head to toe — are sensations as real as they are universal. And now we can make an atlas of them.

Researchers have long known that emotions are connected to a range of physiological changes, from nervous job candidates’ sweaty palms to the racing pulse that results from hearing a strange noise at night. But new research reveals that emotional states are universally associated with certain bodily sensations, regardless of individuals’ culture or language.

Once More With Feeling

More than 700 participants in Finland, Sweden and Taiwan participated in experiments aimed at mapping their bodily sensations in connection with specific emotions. Participants viewed emotion-laden words, videos, facial expressions and stories. They then self-reported areas of their bodies that felt different than before they’d viewed the material. By coloring in two computer-generated silhouettes — one to note areas of increased bodily sensation and the second to mark areas of decreased sensation — participants were able to provide researchers with a broad base of data showing both positive and negative bodily responses to different emotions.

Researchers found statistically discrete areas for each emotion tested, such as happiness, contempt and love, that were consistent regardless of respondents’ nationality. Afterward, researchers applied controls to reduce the risk that participants may have been biased by sensation-specific phrases common to many languages (such as the English “cold feet” as a metaphor for fear, reluctance or hesitation). The results are published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Hot-Headed

Although each emotion produced a specific map of bodily sensation, researchers did identify some areas of overlap. Basic emotions, such as anger and fear, caused an increase in sensation in the upper chest area, likely corresponding to increases in pulse and respiration rate. Happiness was the only emotion tested that increased sensation all over the body.

The findings enhance researchers’ understanding of how we process emotions. Despite differences in culture and language, it appears our physical experience of feelings is remarkably consistent across different populations. The researchers believe that further development of these bodily sensation maps may one day result in a new way of identifying and treating emotional disorders."
2013  psychology  science  physiology  emotions  shame  happiness  love  humans  anger  disgust  depression  contempt  pride  envy  anxiety  surprise  sadness  fear 
january 2014 by robertogreco
How to be less of a jerk to students with anxiety disorders | Critical Spontaneity
"This list is dedicated to all of the brilliant and emotional and scared students out there:

1.) The only way to get rid of anxiety is to stop procrastinating and just do it. Anxiety is a result of your guilt and procrastinating will only make your amount of anxiety grow!

Thanks, Nike. I’m pretty sure that Anxiety Disorders are a serious mental health issue that can’t be overcome by recognizing they’re not helpful. Those of us with anxiety issues don’t choose to have them because it seems like a reasonable choice for overcoming procrastination.

2.) Maybe you should just do what makes you happy and find an occupation or program that is easier for you.

So I understand that victim-blaming is easier than shifting the dominant elite framework that academia is founded upon, but struggling is not a sign that a student is less intelligent. It perhaps says that the institution itself is ableist and psychophobic. You know what would make me happier? Being able to stop kicking myself for having self-doubt and feeling overwhelming guilt when I don’t perform in an exceptional manner. You know what would make things easier for me? If people would realize that it’s not my fault for being afraid of authority, mistrusting counselors and administrators, or being afraid to ask for help. There is a lot of stigma out there for people with anxiety issues. It would be easier for me if that stigma was challenged, rather than me as an individual.

3.) We all went through it. We’re all tired and overworked.

Cool story bro, but I didn’t realize I was going through fraternity initiation. This is the most annoying answer. I’m super tired *yawn* of these one-upping competitions people engage in to dismiss mutual hardships. “I only slept 4 hours” and then the next person says “I only slept 3 hours and had an energy drink instead of breakfast!” doesn’t fix anyone’s problems. As a woman of color, I have heard “be less emotional” or “try harder to overcome” enough times.

4.) Have you been to the counseling center? A counselor would be a better person to talk to right now. …

5.) Have you considered taking medication? My friend Joe Smith takes medicine and he’s much better now. …

6.) You should just do yoga or start running. …

7.) Did you finish yet? How about now? How about now?

8.) You can’t prove that your dad is dying. If you have trouble coping, you should have filed your issue with Student Disability Services at the beginning of the semester.

9.) You should be less public about this. It might hurt your career.

Oh you mean like that one time I didn’t get a position because I talked about mental health advocacy as one of my most passionate topics? You mean like that one time I talked about my mental health issues and was magically seen as “crazy” whenever I had a legitimate critique of patriarchy at meetings? Pathologizing has always been a swift tool of dismissal. Guess what? It has hurt my career, but I don’t want to be a part of a space that can’t make room for mental health issues to be at the table. Even in “progressive” spaces I experience the same militancy and policing around emotions and mental health. We can’t dismantle systems of oppression by emulating them!

Furthermore, I’ve lost track of the amount of other students who message me about eating disorders, anxiety, and guilt because they don’t know who else to talk to. I do have to be public about it even if it alarms or annoys you because of all of these people who matter (just like me).

10.) You’ll get through it if you’re meant to get through it.

There are some very warm-hearted and lovely people I know that have quit graduate school because it felt more like The Hunger Games than a collaborative learning environment. We need to stop applying a “survival of the fittest” mentality to academic success, wherein intelligence is linked to ability to endure rigor. I think it’s a huge loss of the academy that people I know to be brilliant and life changing have quit due to a lack of support.

11.) Social media and your blog should be a marketing tool for you to boost your voice and platform, not a diary. …"
highered  highereducation  empathy  mentalhealth  health  hazing  2013  sueypark  anxiety  anxietydisorders  compassion  procrastination  guilt  work  life  careers  academia  gradschool  support 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Hyperemployment, or the Exhausting Work of the Technology User - Ian Bogost - The Atlantic
"Feeling overwhelmed online? Maybe it’s because you’re working dozens of jobs"



"When critics engage with the demands of online services via labor, they often cite exploitation as a simple explanation. It’s a sentiment that even has its own aphorism: “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” The idea is that all the information you provide to Google and Facebook, all the content you create for Tumblr and Instagram enable the primary businesses of such companies, which amounts to aggregating and reselling your data or access to it. In addition to the revenues extracted from ad sales, tech companies like YouTube and Instagram also managed to leverage the speculative value of your data-and-attention into billion-dollar buyouts. Tech companies are using you, and they’re giving precious little back in return.

While often true, this phenomenon is not fundamentally new to online life. We get network television for free in exchange for the attention we devote to ads that interrupt our shows. We receive “discounts” on grocery store staples in exchange for allowing Kroger or Safeway to aggregate and sell our shopping data. Meanwhile, the companies we do pay directly as customers often treat us with disregard at best, abuse at worst (just think about your cable provider or your bank). Of course, we shouldn’t just accept online commercial exploitation just because exploitation in general has been around for ages. Rather, we should acknowledge that exploitation only partly explains today’s anxiety with online services.

Hyperemployment offers a subtly different way to characterize all the tiny effort we contribute to Facebook and Instagram and the like. It’s not just that we’ve been duped into contributing free value to technology companies (although that’s also true), but that we’ve tacitly agreed to work unpaid jobs for all these companies. And even calling them “unpaid” is slightly unfair, since we do get something back from these services, even if they often take more than they give. Rather than just being exploited or duped, we’ve been hyperemployed. We do tiny bits of work for Google, for Tumblr, for Twitter, all day and every day.

Today, everyone’s a hustler. But now we’re not even just hustling for ourselves or our bosses, but for so many other, unseen bosses. For accounts payable and for marketing; for the Girl Scouts and the Youth Choir; for Facebook and for Google; for our friends via their Kickstarters and their Etsy shops; for Twitter, which just converted years of tiny, aggregated work acts into $78 of fungible value per user.

Even if there is more than a modicum of exploitation at work in the hyperemployment economy, the despair and overwhelm of online life doesn’t derive from that exploitation—not directly anyway. Rather, it’s a type of exhaustion cut of the same sort that afflicts the underemployed as well, like the single mother working two part-time service jobs with no benefits, or the PhD working three contingent teaching gigs at three different regional colleges to scrape together a still insufficient income. The economic impact of hyperemployment is obviously different from that of underemployment, but some of the same emotional toll imbues both: a sense of inundation, of being trounced by demands whose completion yields only their continuance, and a feeling of resignation that any other scenario is likely or even possible. The only difference between the despair of hyperemployment and that of un- or under-employment is that the latter at least acknowledges itself as an substandard condition, while the former celebrates the hyperemployed’s purported freedom to “share” and “connect,” to do business more easily and effectively by doing jobs once left for others competence and compensation, from the convenience of your car or toilet.

Staring down the barrel of Keynes’s 2030 target for the arrival of universal leisure, economists have often considered why Keynes seems to have been so wrong. The inflation of relative needs is one explanation—the arms race for better and more stuff and status. The ever-increasing wealth gap, on the rise since the anti-Keynes, supply-side 1980s is another. But what if Keynes was right, too, in a way. Even if productivity has increased mostly to the benefit of the wealthy, hasn’t everyone gained enormous leisure, but by replacing recreation with work rather than work with recreation? This new work doesn’t even require employment; the destitute and unemployed hyperemployed are just as common as the affluent and retired hyperemployed. Perversely, it is only then, at the labor equivalent of the techno-anarchist’s singularity, that the malaise of hyperemployment can cease. Then all time will become work time, and we will not have any memory of leisure to distract us. "
labor  2013  ianbogost  employment  economics  johnmaynardkeynes  leisurearts  work  leisure  hustling  wealth  income  incomeinequality  wealthdistribution  anxiety  hyperemployment  unemployment  time  artleisure 
november 2013 by robertogreco
potlatch: Santander 2013
"It is one of the most unsettling pieces of film that I've ever seen, reducing advertising to a set of blank and bland facts, to be recited out of the mouths of an apparently arbitrary collection of sports stars. What are the celebrities doing in other people's houses? Have they broken in illegally? Or are we to suppose that they are ghostly apparitions? The atmosphere of the ad is one of oppressive silence, like that of a family that has lost a member but refused to ever discuss it. It's difficult to know what is stranger: the fact that Jenson Button is standing behind someone's fridge door, dressed in his racing gear, or the fact that he is sharing tips on gas bills, or the strange resignation to all of this on the part of the man using the fridge. Jessica Ennis is represented as a sort of track-suit-clad bag lady, who bothers people in the street with unwanted - and almost certainly false - information. The ordinary people, trying to go about their days in peace and privacy, exude a sad resignation that capitalism now drops (real? hallucinatory?) celebrities into their bathrooms and kitchens, to talk at them uninvited. If they could speak, what would they say? Their faces project fear and anxiety, as if they are now are trapped. Mostly they just want to be left the hell alone, to live, walk and paint; but this is the wish that sport, finance and above all advertising clearly will not grant. Is this a warning of some kind?"
advertising  capitalism  celebrities  privacy  2013  resignation  anxiety  fear  sponsorship  endorsement 
march 2013 by robertogreco
The Snake in the Garden - NYTimes.com
"it’s uncanny how often we let ourselves out of the Garden by worrying about something that, if it did happen, would quicken us into a response much more practical than worry. All the real challenges of my, or any, life…[examples]…came out of the blue; they’re just what I had never thought to worry about…And every time some kind of calamity has come into my life, I and everyone around me have responded with activity, unexpected strength, even an all but unnatural calm.

It’s only when we’re living in the future, the realm of “what if,” that we brilliantly incapacitate ourselves. And it’s mostly when someone abruptly cries, “Watch out!” that we lose control of the car we’re driving. Yet all the Stoic arguments are hard to absorb in that part of ourselves that matters…

We worry only about exactly those things we can never do anything about. And then that very fact becomes something else we worry about."
writing  mind  precarity  uncertainty  statusanxiety  cv  worry  anxiety  stoicism  stoics  2012  picoiyer  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Radio Free School: This feels painful.
"…discovered…number of homeschoolers out there organizing workshops, events…but the atmosphere…is far from joyous…anxious people doing this thing…tend to be homeschoolers as opposed to unschoolers…feels painful…grim & serious…the feeling that 'we need to be the best.' 

Learning is not about being excited about something; it's about covered a unit…showing off what we know…less about collaborative & supportive inquiry, more about competition & every kid to herself.

…a disappointment…I was hoping for a meeting of adventurous minds…community whose members encourages one another & believe in learning for self discovery & contribution.

…not what I'm seeing. I see a lot of tired, strained looking mothers out there. Very uninspiring…

I worry about new people coming to unschooling. Who do they turn to? Where do they go?

As to those pained home educators, I suggest you take a walk around your city; relax…let those 'teaching moments' pass you by once in a while. It's all good."
trends  community  parenting  anxiety  deschooling  competition  2012  learning  unschooling  from delicious
march 2012 by robertogreco
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