robertogreco + challenge   39

Michael Wesch at Pasadena City College - YouTube
[Questions that burn in the souls of Wesch's students:
Who am I?
What is the meaning of life?
What am I going to do with my life?
Am I going to make it?]

[See also: http://mediatedcultures.net/presentations/learning-as-soul-making/ ]
education  teaching  michaelwesch  identity  cv  soulmaking  spirituality  why  whyweteach  howweteach  learning  unschooling  deschooling  life  purpose  relationships  anthropology  ethnography  canon  meaning  meaningmaking  schooliness  schools  schooling  achievement  bigpicture  counseling  society  seymourpapert  empathy  perspective  assessment  fakingit  presentationofself  burnout  web  internet  wonder  curiosity  ambiguity  controversy  questions  questioning  askingquestions  questionasking  modeling  quests  risk  risktaking  2014  death  vulnerability  connectedness  sharedvulnerability  cars  technology  telecommunications  boxes  robertputnam  community  lievendecauter  capsules  openness  trust  peterwhite  safety  pubictrust  exploration  helicopterparenting  interestedness  ambition  ericagoldson  structure  institutions  organizations  constructionism  patricksuppes  instructionism  adaptivelearning  khanacademy  play  cocreationtesting  challenge  rules  engagement  novelty  simulation  compassion  digitalethnography  classideas  projectideas  collaboration  lcproject  tcsnmy  op 
july 2014 by robertogreco
"Networked Norms: How Tech Startups and Teen Practices Challenge Organizational Boundaries"
"Building lifelong learners means instilling curiosity, but it also means helping people recognize how important it is that they continuously surround themselves by people that they can learn from. And what this means is that people need to learn how to connect to new people on a regular basis."
danahboyd  youth  social  networks  networking  learning  lifelonglearning  newness  freshness  curiosity  challenge  2013  cv  connectivism  connectivity 
february 2013 by robertogreco
How to Choose a College - NYTimes.com
"I use the word “claim” deliberately and urge skepticism with rankings."

"SO dig as deeply as you can into what the statistics that colleges showcase do and don’t assure. And treat your undergraduate education as a rare license, before you’re confined by the burdens of full-fledged adulthood and before the costs of experimentation rise, to be tugged outside your comfort zone. To be yanked, preferably."

" The world is in constant flux, life is a sequence of surprises, and I can think of no better talents to pick up in college than fearlessness, nimbleness and the ability to roll with change, adapt to newness and improvise."
2013  education  frankbruni  learning  comfortzone  challenge  diversity  colleges  universities  admissions  advice  rankings  undergraduate  from delicious
january 2013 by robertogreco
acts of Frankenstein | the m john harrison blog
"Brutalise all plans & conceptions. Lose patience with last 10 years of ideas, now seen as prison. Bolt wrong components to wrong components! Sustained acts of Frankenstein & self-piracy! Address current emotional issues not 5 year old ones! New observations/notes; new philosophical/political insight; new structural problems/solutions. New imagery. Sense of adventure. Sense of risk in the material. Explore & affront your hopes for yourself. Glee at breaking own definitions & taboos. Carnage in the files. Parameters missing at the outset may be the things that writing will show you. In the end you have to get frightened enough to push down the pillars of your own establishment."
examinedlife  progressivism  progressive  deschooling  unschooling  perspective  self-examination  criticalthinking  mindchanging  mindchanges  notetaking  observations  observation  frankenstein  rebirth  establishment  disestablishment  fear  writing  radicalism  taboos  challenge  change  freedom  self-piracy  exploration  risk  2012  via:robinsonmeyer  yearoff  cv  shaking  canon  mjohnharrison  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
Doyen of American critics turns his back on the 'nasty, stupid' world of modern art | Art and design | The Observer
""Money and celebrity has cast a shadow over the art world which is prohibiting ideas and debate from coming to the fore," he said yesterday, adding that the current system of collectors, galleries, museums and art dealers colluding to maintain the value and status of artists quashed open debate on art.

"I hope this is the start of something that breaks the system. At the moment it feels like the Paris salon of the 19th century, where bureaucrats and conservatives combined to stifle the field of work. It was the Impressionists who forced a new system, led by the artists themselves. It created modern art and a whole new way of looking at things.

"Lord knows we need that now more than anything. We need artists to work outside the establishment and start looking at the world in a different way – to start challenging preconceptions instead of reinforcing them." …"
glvo  art  debate  deschooling  unschooling  outsiders  questioning  challenge  establishment  subversion  statusquo  money  celebrity  quitting  artworld  rant  davehickey  2012  outsider 
november 2012 by robertogreco
'Children Succeed' With Character, Not Test Scores : NPR
"the scientists, the economists and neuroscientists and psychologists who I've been studying and writing about are really challenging the idea that IQ, that standardized test scores, that those are the most important things in a child's success."

"There are two stages [of parenthood] and it's hard to tell where the transition goes from one to the other. When kids are really young — when they're in their first year or two of life — my sense from the research is you can't be too loving. ... What kids need at that point is just support, attention, parents who are really attuned to the child's needs. But at some point somewhere around 1, or 2 or 3, that really starts to change and what kids need is independence and challenge. And certainly as kids get into middle childhood and into adolescence, that's exactly what they need. They need less parenting. ... They need parents to really stand back, let them fall and get back up, let them fight their own battles."
cognitiveskill  iq  sucess  stressmanagement  stress  goal-setting  curiosity  grit  books  paultough  challenge  assessment  testing  confidence  childhood  adolescents  adolescence  independence  via:steelemaley  2012  parenting  learning  children  character  education 
september 2012 by robertogreco
How to Join the Ranks of the Digital “Supercreatives:” An Interview with Leslie Bradshaw | Business 2 Community
"of course we could make the infographic, but we need to keep pushing ourselves as an agency to do larger, more programmatic engagements…

Infographics are a high-level tactic that is good for educated audiences; they are not actually good for consumer audiences…

We look for a clearly demarcated point of contact; someone who is either empowered with decision-making abilities themselves or who can internally “socialize” ideas and come back to us…

We also look for focus…

I rely on three pillars for inspiration. Pillar No. 1 is entrepreneurship & leadership. I look for entrepreneurial leaders that have been in my shoes at some point building a company, people like Sheryl Sandberg [COO of Facebook]. Seeing how other people are thriving and surviving inspires me.

The second pillar would be social sciences. I have a background in gender studies, anthropology, political science and economics, & they all frame how I think about approaching client problems.

The last pillar is agriculture."
infographics  2012  howwework  challenge  genderstudies  anthropology  politicalscience  digitalhumanities  socialsciences  economics  agriculture  committees  focus  clientwork  interviews  lesliebradshaw  datavisualization  clients  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
Mapping The Future Of Education Technology | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation
"Gamification is not "achievements and badges" but the use of participant engagement, storytelling, challenge, instant feedback, collaboration and emotion (among others). Badges and achievements are simply the means by which some of those things are recorded. Sadly, people who think just giving a badge for an achievement is "gamification" are diminishing the power of the concept."

[Quote from a comment (link points there)]

[Found the article via: http://branch.com/b/what-s-broken-in-education ]
lcproject  mapping  maps  schools  teaching  future  2012  achievements  collaboration  emotion  badges  instantfeedback  challenge  storytelling  engagement  learning  motivation  gaming  gamification  education  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
A Jester’s Guide to Creative See[k]ing across Disciplines | American Journal of Play
"For many centuries and in many cultures, jesters recited tales of heroic exploits, but they did more than simply recount past events—they amused, cajoled, and spun tales that transported listeners to the edge of mysterious, unmapped territories. Through the transformative power of play and the imagination, they reworked what was already understood and created from it new realities that transcended the established order. The author maintains that such imaginative play is vital to creativity in any medium and is fundamental for optimal human development. She explores possibilities for cultivating creativity through the playful, paradoxical stance of the jester—a serendipitous and purposeful, strange and familiar, disruptive and productive figure. Her discussion, grounded in a visual-arts practice that leverages uncertainty and randomness, considers the role of play in light of its wider implications for knowledge and creativity."

[PDF: http://www.journalofplay.org/sites/www.journalofplay.org/files/pdf-articles/4-3-article-jesters-guide-to-creative-seeking-across-disciplines.pdf ]
challenge  howwelearn  howwework  productivity  strangeness  purpose  generalists  randomness  uncertainty  visualarts  imagination  play  serendipity  dianerosen  jester  jesters  cv  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  creativity  disruption  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
russell davies: on tackling misconceptions
"This is a great 8 minute film about science education on video. And about the value of tackling misconceptions. And about the idea that people learn less from things they think are clear and concise than from things they find complex or challenging.

Is this applicable in other circumstances? I bet it is."

[See also: http://fnoschese.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/khan-academy-and-the-effectiveness-of-science-videos/ ]

[Direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVtCO84MDj8 ]
via:russelldavies  video  science  learning  education  misconceptions  challenge  complexity  khanacademy  salmankhan  teaching  reinforcement  salkhan  derekmuller 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Diversity Lecture: Ta-Nehisi Coates - YouTube
"As part of our Bob and Aliecia Woodrick Diversity Learning Center Diversity Lecture Series, Grand Rapids Community College presents Ta-Nehisi Coates speaking on "A Deeper Black: The Meaning of Race in the Age of Obama.""
ta-nehisicoates  civilwar  2011  martinlutherkingjr  race  barackobama  identity  dropouts  learning  education  observation  obsession  blackhistory  us  abrahamlincoln  slavery  history  africanamerican  truth  hemingway  huckleberryfinn  marktwain  malcolmx  acceptance  understanding  safety  incarceration  society  bodyscanners  airports  convenience  inconvenience  comfort  self-esteem  justice  challenge  segregation  success  progress  policy  politics  desegregation  parenting  books  homeenvironment  reading  curiosity  exposure  youth  adolescence  teens  adults  moralauthority  wisdom  mlk 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Tim O'Reilly - Google+ - This article about gamers solving a thorny protein folding…
"This article about gamers solving a thorny protein folding problem important in AIDS research is being touted as a triumph of "gamification," the application of game mechanics to other problem domains. But there's an important lesson here. Much of what is written about gamification (including some books published by my own company) focuses mainly on what I might call "the shallow end of gamification," namely extrinsic motivators like points, leaderboards, and scoring. But game experts concur that the heart of most games is the intrinsic motivation of challenge and learning. And it is precisely that deep end of gamification that was on display here."
gamification  timoreilly  2011  motivation  intrinsicmotivation  learning  challenge  foldit  deschooling  unschooling  meaning  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
The end of zero risk in childhood? | Tim Gill | Comment is free | The Guardian
"In 1980s & 90s we collectively fell prey to what I call the zero-risk childhood. Children were seen as irredeemably stupid, as fragile as china plates, & utterly unable to learn from their mistakes. Hence the role of adults was to protect them from all risk, no matter what the cost.

In the past years we have begun to realise the flaws in this zero-risk logic. The constant stream of jaw-dropping anecdotes – children arrested for building a tree house, teachers having to complete reams of paperwork to take classes to the local church, schools banning chase games – has brought home an insight that should have been obvious from our childhoods: children need challenge…adventure…uncertainty…risk.

Children learn a great deal from their own efforts, & from their mistakes. If we try too hard to keep them safe, we starve them of the very experiences that they need if they are to learn how to deal w/ the everyday ups & downs of life. What is more, children themselves recognise this."
resilience  timgill  parenting  teaching  tcsnmy  lcproject  overparenting  helicopterparents  helicopterparenting  experience  learning  unschooling  deschooling  risk  riskaversion  2011  uk  danger  safety  policy  fear  uncertainty  adventure  adversity  challenge  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
Olbermann's Exit: The Inside Story
"I'm difficult for management. That's why I have the reputation because nobody challenges management." He adds that his run-ins are simply out of good conscience: "I stand up to people. I do not believe that simply because I signed a contract that that gives people the right to make [unilateral] decisions. As part of the process by which you hire me, you hire me. You just don't hire an hour of me to do a performance." [More people should approach their work this way, see part of their job as challenging management, have some conviction, be willing to be fired for speaking out.]
keitholbermann  convictions  cv  management  administration  leadership  reputation  conscience  decisionmaking  process  hiring  employment  employees  challenge  2011  tcsnmy  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement (Paperback) - Routledge
"This unique and ground-breaking book is the result of 15 years research and synthesises over 800 meta-analyses on the influences on achievement in school-aged students. It builds a story about the power of teachers, feedback, and a model of learning and understanding. The research involves many millions of students and represents the largest ever evidence based research into what actually works in schools to improve learning. Areas covered include the influence of the student, home, school, curricula, teacher, and teaching strategies. A model of teaching and learning is developed based on the notion of visible teaching and visible learning.

A major message is that what works best for students is similar to what works best for teachers – an attention to setting challenging learning intentions, being clear about what success means, and an attention to learning strategies for developing conceptual understanding about what teachers and students know and understand…"
johnhattie  education  learning  teaching  schools  practice  meaning  challenge  success  attention  strategy  curriculum  visiblelearning  via:cervus  books  routledgeinternational  toread  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
Don’t leave learning to the young. Older brains can grow, too. - NYTimes.com
"Whether it is by learning a new language, traveling to a new place, developing a passion for beekeeping or simply thinking about an old problem in a new way, all of us can find ways to stimulate our brains to grow, in the coming year and those to follow. Just as physical activity is essential to maintaining a healthy body, challenging one’s brain, keeping it active, engaged, flexible and playful, is not only fun. It is essential to cognitive fitness."
brain  neuroscience  plasticity  oliversacks  learning  openminded  curiosity  adaptability  flexibility  challenge  growth  2011  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
How Design Can Get Kids On the Path to Tech Careers | Co.Design
"whenever you say the word 'school,' it conjures up mental images & models of our experiences and behavior in a place -- & accompanying that 'place model' is a kaleidoscope of memories & emotions about how that place looked & worked -- how we felt in it, what was rewarded, celebrated & expected, & who we were supposed to be as learners in that place. Unfortunately, many of these mental models of how we should learn in school are completely at odds w/ how real learning happens & how it's demonstrated in the real world. False proxies for learning often erode our children's vibrant intellectual & creative potentials because they diminish the excitement of real learning & discovery. Everyone knows that finishing a course and a textbook does not mean achievement. Listening to a lecture does not mean understanding. Getting a high score on a high-stakes standardized test does not mean proficiency. Credentialing does not mean competency. Our children know it, too, yet it persists."
education  design  management  designthinking  learning  unschooling  discovery  deschooling  trungle  stephaniepacemarshall  imsa  illinois  chicago  science  math  gifted  talented  schools  schooldesign  credentials  credentialing  whatmatters  cv  ap  collaboration  teaching  challenge  interaction  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  problemsolving  criticalthinking  teacherasmasterlearner  teacherascollaborator  inquiry  inquiry-basedlearning  studentdirected  research  names  naming  language  words  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
At the Core of the Apple Store: Images of Next Generation Learning (full-length and abridged article) | Big Picture
"What are the essential features of the Apple Store’s learning culture?

* The learning experience is highly personalized and focused on the interests and needs of the individual customer.

* Customers can make mistakes with little risk of failure or embarrassment. Thinking and tinkering with the help of a staff member provide opportunities for deep learning.

* Challenges are real and embedded in the customer’s learning and work.

* Assessment is built right into the learning, focusing specifically on what needs to be accomplished.

A disruptive innovation? We think so. The Apple Store has created a new type of learning environment that allows individuals to learn anything, at any time, at any level, from experts, expert practitioners, and peers."
apple  applestore  learning  schooldesign  innovation  via:cervus  education  lcproject  technology  williamgibson  geniusbar  retail  studioclassroom  openstudio  thirdplaces  problemsolving  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  personalization  individualized  challenge  disruption  assessment  deeplearning  21stcenturylearning  learningspaces  thirdspaces  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Institute for Advanced Study - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Richard Feynman on the place: "When I was at Princeton in the 1940s I could see what happened to those great minds at the Institute for Advanced Study, who had been specially selected for their tremendous brains and were now given this opportunity to sit in this lovely house by the woods there, with no classes to teach, with no obligations whatsoever. These poor bastards could now sit and think clearly all by themselves, OK? So they don't get any ideas for a while: They have every opportunity to do something, and they're not getting any ideas. I believe that in a situation like this a kind of guilt or depression worms inside of you, and you begin to worry about not getting any ideas. And nothing happens. Still no ideas come.

Nothing happens because there's not enough real activity and challenge: You're not in contact with the experimental guys. You don't have to think how to answer questions from the students. Nothing!"
education  princeton  science  thinking  ideas  richardfeynman  teaching  explaining  constraints  freedom  challenge  motivation  instituteforadvancedstudy  freemandyson  alberteinstein  paulerdos  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
Marco.org - Thank you, internet
"After a weekend of vacation-forced brainfreeze & dealing w/ immense family drama, it’s incredibly nice to get back to my life of being surrounded by intelligent people doing great things & always challenging me to become a better person.
culture  geek  identity  internet  cv  people  interactions  relationships  marcoarment  lifeonline  challenge 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Dancing Towards Uncertainty - Notes from the Classroom - GOOD
"Brandon did not have a formal education of any kind until the 4th grade (his parents were content to let him run around in woods), he still managed to get higher scores on more AP tests than any student in the history of our school...since it is my job, I told him to stay in school, work hard, & climb ladder...Brandon, however, does not want the ladder. He wants to dance.

&...I want to join him. I, too, am tired of the coldly constructed educational approach that demands a clear answer to every question. I believe that before growth can happen there has to be a period of doubt & uncertainty. Certainty kills innovation, & while I need a degree of certainty in the surgeon poking around in my brain or the pilot flying my plane, I also hope that somewhere along the line they have learned how to be creative. When problems develop for which they have been provided no textbook answer, I need them to be able to step back, take a breath, & lose themselves in the dance of the moment."
certainty  uncertainty  art  dance  education  learning  passion  talent  highschool  genius  unschooling  design  deschooling  society  ratrace  challenge  tcsnmy  lcproject  creativity  problemsolving  criticalthinking  teaching  purpose 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Challanged | Yurock
Stuart McMillen felt challenged by school, but now has to challenge himself. It's too bad his school didn't help him learn how to do that, as opposed to addicting him to the stream of "challenges" presented by others. [via: http://twitter.com/kruithoph/status/16096544499 via @droomschool] [blogged here: http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/694991645 ]
idleness  tcsnmy  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  stuartmcmillen  challenge 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team | Video on TED.com
"Tom Wujec presents some surprisingly deep research into the "marshmallow problem" -- a simple team-building exercise that involves dry spaghetti, one yard of tape and a marshmallow. Who can build the tallest tower with these ingredients? And why does a surprising group always beat the average?"

[via: http://scudmissile.tumblr.com/post/554987122]
building  business  challenge  collaboration  creativity  design  prototyping  ted  teamwork  teams  leadership  management  motivation  inspiration  innovation  process  tcsnmy  learning  problemsolving  iteration  failure  administration  tomwujec  psychology  extrinsicmotivation  intrinsicmotivation  success  incentives 
may 2010 by robertogreco
FutureEverything Blog | Serendipity City Challenge
"...creating a mesmerising, outrageous app, or mapping spaces of serendipity in your city, & the way these give rise to creativity, energy & diversity.
serendipity  android  ubicomp  urbancomputing  urbanism  ux  iphone  community  cities  opensystems  mobile  challenge  applications  classideas  openstudioproject  ios 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Four pointers to the chasm between elearning and video game designers - Ewan McIntosh | Digital Media & Education
"E-learning designers [ELD] believe that people learn through "content"...Games designers [GD] believe that people learn through "experience"...[ELD] believe we must be "nice" to our learners in case they go away...[GD] believe that we can challenge people and they'll stick with it. Indeed, it is progressive challenges that form much of the motivation for gamers...[ELD] believe that we learn step by step (hence linearity, page-turning etc.) [GD] believe we absorb lots of things all at once (hence HUDs, complex information screens etc.)....[ELD] believe that learning experiences are emotionally neutral...[GD] always seek an "angle", an attitude...[GD] slow in general to pick up on the potential of social gaming...[ELD] picked up on the potential of social-network-like features relatively quickly...there is a creative opportunity for game-makers and webheads to work together towards new horizons, leaving those chasms back in the decade where they belong."
ewanmcintosh  games  gaming  education  experience  learning  elearning  social  collaboration  motivation  seriousgames  emotion  gamedesign  content  challenge  complexity  absorption 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Project Euler
"Project Euler is a series of challenging mathematical/computer programming problems that will require more than just mathematical insights to solve. Although mathematics will help you arrive at elegant and efficient methods, the use of a computer and programming skills will be required to solve most problems.
math  programming  computing  coding  challenge  learning  tcsnmy 
december 2008 by robertogreco
MTV Multiplayer » “A Higher Standard” — Game Designer Jonathan Blow Challenges Super Mario’s Gold Coins, “Unethical” MMO Design And Everything Else You May Hold Dear About Video Games
"if people get things out of games different from other media ... those things obviously can't be pure escapism"; "the way people act & think 50 years from now will in significant part be determined by the games we create now"; "happiness comes at a cost"
via:preoccupations  games  braid  gaming  culture  videogames  gamedesign  gamechanging  society  escapism  narrative  play  challenge  creativity  storytelling  design  fiction  film  books  industry  gamedev  reward 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Cities and Ambition
"Even when a city is still a live center of ambition, you won't know for sure whether its message will resonate with you till you hear it...You'll probably have to find the city where you feel at home to know what sort of ambition you have."
paulgraham  cities  living  life  lifestyle  happiness  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  paris  entrepreneurship  employment  work  careers  demographics  economics  proximity  urban  geography  society  bayarea  boston  california  education  knowledge  universities  psychogeography  location  art  restaurants  technology  science  math  research  money  business  challenge  wealth  class  social  insiders  intelligence  culture  commentary  losangeles  washingtondc  berkeley  comparison  dc 
may 2008 by robertogreco
The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs: Google putting up fence and gate to keep execs from leaving
"you put them into this horribly dull & easy drone work on AdWords/AdSense & they're all bored to tears & totally disappointed because they really really thought they were going to do something meaningful with their lives & now they're just worker bees"
google  work  culture  humor  challenge  organizations  business 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Montreal 2007: Why Kids' Games Don't Have To Be Crap | Game | Life from Wired.com
"Complicated toys may be where they start, but Sawyer hopes that by teaching kids game literacy at a young age, they will advance to more complicated games faster than previous generations. As he says, "I don't want to wait six or seven years to have fun
videogames  gaming  play  children  challenge  learning 
november 2007 by robertogreco
BEST Robotics, Inc. :: Middle and High School Robotics Competition
"BEST is a non-profit, volunteer organization whose mission is to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science, and technology through participation in a sports-like, science- and engineering-based robotics competition."
robotics  electronics  education  competition  science  schools  technology  contests  challenge  robots 
august 2007 by robertogreco
Spotlight on DML | Shaffer: This just in—games are not fun
"Well, of course many games are fun. But a recent psychological study shows that fun isn’t the main reason people play games."
games  play  learning  education  mind  brain  psychology  challenge  videogames 
february 2007 by robertogreco
ARGN: Steorn: A Game or Not A Game, That Is The Question
"It also sounds, based on the activity at Unfiction and the number of tips in our inbox, like the perfect premise for an Alternate Reality Game or a Hoax."
energy  physics  technology  free  challenge  science  games  play  hoaxes 
august 2006 by robertogreco
:: Steorn Watch .com
"News & Analysis of the Steorn ‘Free Energy’ Claim"
energy  physics  technology  free  challenge  science 
august 2006 by robertogreco
Steorn
" We have developed a technology that produces free, clean and constant energy. This means never having to recharge your phone, never having to refuel your car. A world with an infinite supply of clean energy for all. Our technology has been independently
energy  physics  technology  free  challenge  science 
august 2006 by robertogreco
Guardian Unlimited | Science | Steve Boggan: The men who can produce limitless amounts of clean, free energy
"Heard the one about the two Irishmen who say they can produce limitless amounts of clean, free energy? Plenty of scientists have - but few are taking them seriously. Steve Boggan investigates"
energy  physics  technology  free  challenge  science 
august 2006 by robertogreco
Essay: On the Uses of a Liberal Education (As Lite Entertainment For Bored College Students)
by Mark Edmundson at the University of Virginia (Harper's September 1997)

"For someone growing up in America now, there are few available alternatives to the cool consumer worldview. My students didn't ask for that view, much less create it, but they bring a consumer weltanschauung to school, where it exerts a powerful, and largely unacknowledged, influence."

[…]

"It's not that some aren't nearly as bright -- in terms of intellectual ability, my students are all that I could ask for. Instead, it's that Joon Lee has decided to follow his interests and let them make him into a singular and rather eccentric man; in his charming way, he doesn't mind being at odds with most anyone.

It's his capacity for enthusiasm that sets Joon apart from what I've come to think of as the reigning generational style. Whether the students are sorority/fraternity types, grunge aficionados, piercer/tattooers, black or white, rich or middle class (alas, I teach almost no students from truly poor backgrounds), they are, nearly across the board, very, very self-contained. On good days they display a light, appealing glow; on bad days, shuffling disgruntlement. But there's little fire, little passion to be found.

[…]

"Most of my students seem desperate to blend in, to look right, not to make a spectacle of themselves. (Do I have to tell you that those two students having the argument under the portico turned out to be acting in a role-playing game?) The specter of the uncool creates a subtle tyranny. It's apparently an easy standard to subscribe to, this Letterman-like, Tarantinolike cool, but once committed to it, you discover that matters are rather different. You're inhibited, except on ordained occasions, from showing emotion, stifled from trying to achieve anything original. You're made to feel that even the slightest departure from the reigning code will get you genially ostracized. This is a culture tensely committed to a laid-back norm."

[…]

"What they will not generally do, though, is indict the current system. They won't talk about how the exigencies of capitalism lead to a reserve army of the unemployed and nearly inevitable misery. That would be getting too loud, too brash. For the pervading view is the cool consumer perspective, where passion and strong admiration are forbidden. "To stand in awe of nothing, Numicus, is perhaps the one and only thing that can make a man happy and keep him so," says Horace in the Epistles, and I fear that his lines ought to hang as a motto over the university in this era of high consumer capitalism.

It's easy to mount one's high horse and blame the students for this state of affairs. But they didn't create the present culture of consumption. (It was largely my own generation, that of the Sixties, that let the counterculture search for pleasure devolve into a quest for commodities.) And they weren't the ones responsible, when they were six and seven and eight years old, for unplugging the TV set from time to time or for hauling off and kicking a hole through it. It's my generation of parents who sheltered these students, kept them away from the hard knocks of everyday life, making them cautious and overfragile, who demanded that their teachers, from grade school on, flatter them endlessly so that the kids are shocked if their college profs don't reflexively suck up to them.

Of course, the current generational style isn't simply derived from culture and environment. It's also about dollars. Students worry that taking too many chances with their educations will sabotage their future prospects. They're aware of the fact that a drop that looks more and more like one wall of the Grand Canyon separates the top economic tenth from the rest of the population. There's a sentiment currently abroad that if you step aside for a moment, to write, to travel, to fall too hard in love, you might lose position permanently. We may be on a conveyor belt, but it's worse down there on the filth-strewn floor. So don't sound off, don't blow your chance."

[…]

"Teachers who really do confront students, who provide significant challenges to what they believe, can be very successful, granted. But sometimes such professors generate more than a little trouble for themselves. A controversial teacher can send students hurrying to the deans and the counselors, claiming to have been offended. ("Offensive" is the preferred term of repugnance today, just as "enjoyable" is the summit of praise.) Colleges have brought in hordes of counselors and deans to make sure that everything is smooth, serene, unflustered, that everyone has a good time. To the counselor, to the dean, and to the university legal squad, that which is normal, healthy, and prudent is best.

An air of caution and deference is everywhere. When my students come to talk with me in my office, they often exhibit a Franciscan humility. "Do you have a moment?" "I know you're busy. I won't take up much of your time." Their presences tend to be very light; they almost never change the temperature of the room. The dress is nondescript: clothes are in earth tones; shoes are practical -- cross-trainers, hiking boots, work shoes, Dr. Martens, with now and then a stylish pair of raised-sole boots on one of the young women. Many, male and female both, peep from beneath the bills of monogrammed baseball caps. Quite a few wear sports, or even corporate, logos, sometimes on one piece of clothing but occasionally (and disconcertingly) on more. The walk is slow; speech is careful, sweet, a bit weary, and without strong inflection. (After the first lively week of the term, most seem far in debt to sleep.) They are almost unfailingly polite. They don't want to offend me; I could hurt them, savage their grades.

Naturally, there are exceptions, kids I chat animatedly with, who offer a joke, or go on about this or that new CD (almost never a book, no). But most of the traffic is genially sleepwalking. I have to admit that I'm a touch wary, too. I tend to hold back. An unguarded remark, a joke that's taken to be off-color, or simply an uncomprehended comment can lead to difficulties. I keep it literal. They scare me a little, these kind and melancholy students, who themselves seem rather frightened of their own lives.

Before they arrive, we ply the students with luscious ads, guaranteeing them a cross between summer camp and lotusland. When they get here, flattery and nonstop entertainment are available, if that's what they want. And when they leave? How do we send our students out into the world? More and more, our administrators call the booking agents and line up one or another celebrity to usher the graduates into the millennium. This past spring, Kermit the Frog won himself an honorary degree at Southampton College on Long Island; Bruce Willis and Yogi Berra took credentials away at Montclair State; Arnold Schwarzenegger scored at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. At Wellesley, Oprah Winfrey gave the commencement address. (Wellesley -- one of the most rigorous academic colleges in the nation.) At the University of Vermont, Whoopi Goldberg laid down the word. But why should a worthy administrator contract the likes of Susan Sontag, Christopher Hitchens, or Robert Hughes -- someone who might actually say something, something disturbing, something offensive" -- when he can get what the parents and kids apparently want and what the newspapers will softly commend -- more lire entertainment, more TV?"

[…]

"My students' answers didn't exhibit any philosophical resistance to the idea of greatness. It's not that they had been primed by their professors with complex arguments to combat genius. For the truth is that these students don't need debunking theories. Long before college, skepticism became their habitual mode. They are the progeny of Bart Simpson and David Letterman, and the hyper-cool ethos of the box. It's inane to say that theorizing professors have created them, as many conservative critics like to do. Rather, they have substantially created a university environment in which facile skepticism can thrive without being substantially contested."

[…]

"Perhaps it would be a good idea to try firing the counselors and sending half the deans back into their classrooms, dismantling the football team and making the stadium into a playground for local kids, emptying the fraternities, and boarding up the student-activities office. Such measures would convey the message that American colleges are not northern outposts of Club Med. A willingness on the part of the faculty to defy student conviction and affront them occasionally -- to be usefully offensive -- also might not be a bad thing. We professors talk a lot about subversion, which generally means subverting the views of people who never hear us talk or read our work. But to subvert the views of our students, our customers, that would be something else again.

Ultimately, though, it is up to individuals -- and individual students in particular -- to make their own way against the current sludgy tide. There's still the library, still the museum, there's still the occasional teacher who lives to find things greater than herself to admire. There are still fellow students who have not been cowed. Universities are inefficient, cluttered, archaic places, with many unguarded comers where one can open a book or gaze out onto the larger world and construe it freely. Those who do as much, trusting themselves against the weight of current opinion, will have contributed something to bringing this sad dispensation to an end. As for myself, I'm canning my low-key one-liners; when the kids' TV-based tastes come to the fore, I'll aim and shoot. And when it's time to praise genius, I'll try to do it in the right style, full-out, with faith that finer artistic spirits (maybe not Homer and Isaiah quite, but close, close), still alive somewhere in the ether, will help me out when my invention flags, the students doze, or the dean mutters into the phone. I'm getting back to a more exuberant style; I'll be expostulating and … [more]
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january 2005 by robertogreco

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