robertogreco + childhood   240

Arthur Jafa: Not All Good, Not All Bad on Vimeo
"We went to Los Angeles and visited the winner of the prestigious Venice Biennale's 2019 Golden Lion, American artist and filmmaker Arthur Jafa. In this extensive interview, he talks about black identity in connection with his critically acclaimed video ‘Love is the Message, The Message is Death’, which became a worldwide sensation.

“I’m trying to have enough distance from the thing, that I can actually see it clearly. But at the same time, be able to flip the switch and be inside of it.” Jafa describes how he has rewired himself to push towards things that disturb him. He grew up in the Mississippi Delta, one of the poorest regions in America, and admires the fearless and relentless pictures from that region by Danish photographer Jacob Holdt in ‘American Pictures’ (1977): “They exist outside of the formal parameters of art photography. I think they exist outside of journalism. They’re something else.”

Since childhood, Jafa has collected images in books, as if he was window-shopping, “compiling things that you don’t have access to.” The act of compiling and putting things together helps him figure out “what it is you’re actually attracted to.” When he “strung together” ‘Love is the Message, The Message is Death’, it was engendered by the explosion of citizen cellphone-documentation – the point in time where people discovered the power of being able to document. Jafa comments that his “preoccupation with blackness is fundamental philosophical” rather than political, and considers ‘whiteness’ a “pathological construction that’s come about as a result of a lot of complicated things.” In continuation of this, Jafa is against “highs and lows,” and some of the power of the work, he finds, is that it doesn’t make those distinctions. Instead of doing hierarchies, it accepts that opposites don’t have to negate each other, and tries to understand the diversity, differentiation and complexity in the world: “It’s not all good, it’s not all bad.”

Arthur Jafa (b. 1960) is an American Mississippi-born visual artist, film director, and cinematographer. His acclaimed video ‘Love Is the Message, The Message Is Death’ (2016), shows a montage of historical and contemporary film footage to trace Black American experiences throughout history. Jafa has exhibited widely including at the Hirshhorn in Los Angeles, Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Tate Liverpool in Liverpool and Serpentine Galleries in London. His work as a cinematographer with directors such as Spike Lee and Stanley Kubrick has been notable, and his work on ‘Daughters of the Dust’ (1991) won the ‘Best Cinematography’ Award at Sundance. In 2019, Jafa was awarded the Golden Lion for best artist at the Venice Biennale for his film ‘The White Album’. Jafa has also worked as a director of photography on several music videos, including for Solange Knowles and Jay-Z. Jafa co-founded TNEG with Malik Sayeed, a “motion picture studio whose goal is to create a black cinema as culturally, socially and economically central to the 21st century as was black music to the 20th century.” He lives and works in Los Angeles.

Arthur Jafa was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at his studio in Los Angeles in November 2018. In the video, extracts are shown from ‘Love Is the Message, The Message Is Death’ (2016) by Arthur Jafa. The seven-minute video is set to Kanye West’s Ultralight Beam.

Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2019

Supported by Nordea fonden"
arthurjafa  art  film  filmmaking  identity  blackness  whiteness  photography  imagery  collection  images  books  compilation  compiling  access  collecting  collections  documentation  documentary  complexity  video  montage  marc-christophwagner  childhood  mississippi  bernieeames  distance  survival  experience  culture  mississippidelta  seeing  perspective  democracy  smarthphones  mobile  phones  cameras  jacobholdt  clarksdale  tupelo  patriarchy  race  racism  billcosby  duality  hitler  thisandthat  ambiguity  barackobama  keepingitreal  donaldtrump  diversity  hope  hierarchy  melancholy  differentiation  audience  audiencesofone  variety  canon 
july 2019 by robertogreco
My Childhood in a Cult | The New Yorker
"To people who grew up in more ordinary circumstances, my childhood sounds exotic, scandalous, and fascinating. Cults are fascinating—but one thing the Manson Family and the Lyman Family have in common is the banality of daily life inside these worlds. If you live in a large group of people, there are always dishes to wash and heaps of laundry to hang up to dry. The travel plans for Venus took place against a backdrop of these everyday chores. As I like to say when I tell people about my background, “It wasn’t all acid and orgies.” (Acid was used by adults, as a tool for spiritual growth. To my knowledge, there were no orgies.) What I don’t always say is that I also had a happy childhood, or, anyway, parts of one. The young Family members sang together almost every day as we harvested strawberries or corn—Woody Guthrie songs, or folk songs like “Down in the Valley.” We foraged in the woods for morel mushrooms. Fishing was big, and every time an adult caught a bluefish or a bass I pasted one of the scales in my diary. We had dogs, goats, cows, chickens, a Shetland pony named Stardust, and a cockatiel named Charles. Older kids read younger kids stories before bed—“The Chronicles of Narnia,” “A Wrinkle in Time”—and we fell asleep in piles, three or four to a bed.

Even the mystical stuff had a mundane quality for those of us who didn’t know anything else. The Ouija board, for instance, was a regular part of our lives. Shelves were lined with notebooks containing transcriptions of the conversations adults had had with various spirits. We kids were allowed to talk to only one spirit, Faedra, and sometimes after dinner we’d gather around the board to summon her. The Ouija board was hand carved, the woodgrain beautifully polished, the pointer covered in purple velvet. Only the older kids were allowed to ask questions, and our eyes would be glued to the pointer as it slid over the smooth surface, gaining momentum, the low swish of felt on wood the only sound as we held our breath for answers. One night, one of the questions was “What does Guinevere need to learn?” The answer came back that I was a lazy little girl. After that, I cleaned every ashtray in the compound for weeks, ashamed but also secretly thrilled that Faedra even knew who I was.

It might make sense, then, that when I was told I had to leave the Family, in 1979, I begged to stay, tears streaming down my face. That night, August 25th, I wrote in my diary, “I am totally stunned and heartbroken. I am speechless. . . . I can’t live away from everything I love. I can’t sleep tonight, nothing. . . . But I swear to god I am coming back and I will be the same person. I will fight the world and get back where I belong.” Even now, it’s hard for me to write about the Lyman Family. It’s been four decades since I begged to stay, and I still care what they think."



"Then came a new frontier: school. I was nervous (because, you know, the soul thing). But I was excited, too. Accustomed to being surrounded by dozens of kids my own age, I had been cooped up in my grandmother’s house for two months. I was dying for people. I was wearing green velour bell-bottoms and a blouse with big purple flowers on it, both prized items I had sewn myself. My hair hung down to the small of my back, and I brushed it until it shone."



"Years later, when I visited the Lyman Family’s compound on Martha’s Vineyard, I noticed how everyone I grew up with looked into one another’s eyes, always. It all seemed perfectly normal again.

I was eighteen at the time. I had been out in the world for six years. In high school, I had effectively erased any signs of my childhood—I didn’t talk about it, and that made life so much simpler. A year after I left the Family, one of the more powerful adults had written me a letter. “I want you to know that you are always welcome here and that everyone misses you,” it said. A letter I received a few weeks later explained, “We work at it, striving for inner consciousness, self development on the inside instead of the outside. This life we live is not for everyone, only if you have Mel inside of you. ” When I was about to go off to college, I wrote to the Lyman Family to ask if I could visit before I went. The members welcomed me warmly, and I spent a glorious few days there. Slowly, people in the Family encouraged me to stay with them instead of going to college: this was home, they said, where I belonged. I did feel as if I were home, and, after a day or two, I thought I might not go to college after all. These people really knew me. They looked into my eyes."



"I went off to Sarah Lawrence, where I discovered that an ironic inversion had taken place. When I was in high school, I effectively erased my past; at college, my background became a valuable commodity. Everyone there tried to outdo one another with his or her wild backstories. Mine inevitably won. When people asked me where I was from and I grew circumspect, my best friend would egg me on: “Tell them about the Moonies! Tell them about the Moonies!” He couldn’t wait to see their reaction to my stories."



"For the cult members who’ve survived over the decades, it’s possible that the ideals they started with have given way to the demands of their daily lives, to the buffeting effects of the larger culture, to the familiarity of routine. Or maybe they just haven’t been found out.

There will always be people in search of what cults have to offer—structure, solidarity, a kind of hope. In the back yard of our Los Angeles compound, the adults built a wooden pyramid, big enough to hold about twenty kids, small stilts raising it a few feet off the ground. The smell of blooming jasmine surrounded us as we climbed into it at night, sat cross-legged in a circle, and sang one note all together. We would do this for hours. There were skylights in the ceiling, and we stared up at the stars as we sang. I loved those moments, holding on to the note until I thought my lungs would burst, then taking a deep breath and starting again. It felt as if we were one being, and we were proud of that. Most of all, we hoped that the spaceships could hear us, and that they would be summoned at last."
childhood  cults  belief  school  schooling  identity  2019  children  guinevereturner 
may 2019 by robertogreco
An Essay by Miho Nonaka | Kenyon Review Online
[So good. There's really no good way to quote this one, so here are just a few sections.]

"Heavenly Worm

Mrs. Itō, our fourth-grade teacher, drew a new kanji character on the board: 蚕. “Worm from heaven,” she announced, “as you can see.” Heaven splits open like a curtain (天) and inside it dwells the worm (虫). For each student, she took out five worms from her basket and put them in a small paper box to take home. Having just hatched from their eggs, these worms were still covered in little black hairs. That’s why at this stage they are called kego (hairy baby), Mrs. Itō told us. To feed these dark babies, julienne your mulberry leaves first."



"Platinum Boy, 2006

After decades of research, Japanese silkworm breeders discovered a reliable method of hatching exclusively male silkworms. Female silkworms eat more, sleep more, take up more space, and are measurably less efficient in transforming mulberry leaves into silk. The verdict was clear: female silkworms are inferior for silk production.

Silk spinners and kimono weavers are unanimous in their praise of male silk: their thread is consistently finer, sturdier, glossier, whiter, and their cocoons are easier to harvest when boiled.

The birth site of Platinum Boy is literally black and white. When you look at a piece of paper where silkworm eggs are laid, white eggs are the empty shells from which male larvae have already hatched. They will thrive on the diet of tender mulberry shoot which, combined with their spit, will eventually turn into raw silk, translucent like frosted glass. The dark eggs contain female larvae that will never hatch and only keep darkening."



"Ten Thousand Leaves I

Compiled in the mideighth century, Man’yōshū (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) is the oldest Japanese anthology: more than forty-five hundred poems in twenty books. In the sweltering heat of the attic, I wasn’t looking for any particular motif when I happened on poem No. 2495, composed by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, a low rank courtier and one of the “Saints of Japanese Poetry”:
like my mother’s
silkworms confined
inside cocoons,
how can I see my love
who lives secluded at home?

Poem No. 2991 is almost the same poem by another poet, simply tagged “unknown”:
like my mother’s
silkworms confined
inside cocoons,
sadness clouds my heart
when I cannot see her

The motif of a silk cocoon as the inaccessible, lyrical interior goes back to the dawn of Japanese poetics. The cocoon encases the image of the beloved, the poet’s longing that keeps building inside, and in my poem it holds the mother as a mythical seamstress, stitching blue in each wrist of her unborn daughter."



"職人 I

I used to blame my grandmother on my father’s side, who was described to me as fierce, frantic, funny, a destructive visionary and unsuccessful business entrepreneur during the critical times of the Second World War. When I felt defeated by the radical pull of my own emotion, I would attach them to the face of the woman I had never met in person, only in a fading picture where she stands next to my young father without glasses, still a student with surprisingly gentle eyes.

My father recently told me during one of our late-night international calls from Tokyo: “Your grandfathers were both shokunin (craftsman), remember? It’s in your DNA, too.” His father had come from a large family of silk farmers. After he left home, adopting the newly introduced Singer sewing machines, he began manufacturing Japanese cloven-toed socks, the traditional kind that used to be hand-sewn, and during the war, he took the assignment to sew parachutes for the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. While he worked under dimmed light, my young father put up his primitive drawing of warplanes on the wall, covered in fine grains of sand."



"Small Things

They say (I love the convenience, but who are “they”?) that attention to detail is a characteristic of the Japanese. I am drawn to small things: tadpoles, silica beads, star sands in a vial, a notebook the size of a thumbnail, fish scales, a nativity scene inside half a walnut shell. I am terribly myopic like my father, and I like things that are near. Large things loom over and terrify: airports, Costco, churches in Texas, the Tokyo Skytree, Mount Rushmore (those granite faces I once believed had surfaced in response to the historic atomic bombing), and that elusive word “global.”"



"Komako

It didn’t occur to me until I tried translating a few passages from Snow Country that the young geisha’s name Komako (駒子) means Pony Child. What inspired the author Kawabata to portray his heroine as a woman of equine grace? We don’t know her family name. On the other hand, we don’t know the first name of Shimamura, who is referred to only by his last name.

I imagine if your family name is a gate to the house, your first name must be its interior. In the days when the first book of Man’yōshū was composed, asking a maiden’s first name was synonymous with proposing to her. Knowing it meant possessing the person.

Komako’s body is translucent like a silkworm, and an unearthly room encloses her fruitless passion like a white cocoon. While writing Snow Country, Kawabata says he distanced himself from Shimamura, who serves merely as a foil to Komako. “As an author, I entered deep inside the character of Komako, but casually turned my back to Shimamura,” he writes in the afterward. “Especially in terms of emotion—Komako’s sadness is nothing other than my own sadness. . . .” And so it is; his heart has become subsumed into her heart."



"Body

I find it impossible to talk about the body (mine and everyone else’s) without sounding embarrassed or oddly distant. I don’t mean to self-deprecate, but it has been almost too fashionable, too charged a topic for me to feel safe around. (A cowardly thing to say—the truth is, no one is safe.)

I won’t pretend my body is a plain blockhouse, or a slab of flesh aching with desire or lack thereof. Who could have taught me to stay at home in my own body all the while I traveled from one country to another, turning from the spontaneous, if careless, music of my mother tongue to the cautious economy of English, reaching out, in the hope of actually reaching and being reached?

For the subjects most critical to me, I find no teachers. Perhaps there is not enough demand? I believe I am badly behind everyone and that I missed an opportunity to ask questions long ago. People my age in this country sound fluent in the body, discussing it with just the right amount of sarcasm and laughter without revealing much, like they have been on intimate terms with it since they learned to speak. I suppose I should have listened to the body harder, without ulterior motives."
mihononaka  silk  essays  canon  howwewrite  2017  silkworms  multispecies  japan  japanese  language  gender  via:ayjay  poetry  writing  fabric  textiles  srg  glvo  insects  history  cocoons  craft  translation  languages  childhood  change  materials  process  form  details  weaving  texture  morethanhuman  shinto  bodies  body  small  slow 
february 2019 by robertogreco
On Instagram, Seeing Between the (Gender) Lines - The New York Times
"SOCIAL MEDIA HAS TURNED OUT TO BE THE PERFECT TOOL FOR NONBINARY PEOPLE TO FIND — AND MODEL — THEIR UNIQUE PLACES ON THE GENDER SPECTRUM."



"Around the same time, Moore became aware of a performance-and-poetry group (now disbanded) called Dark Matter. Moore became transfixed by videos of one of its members, Alok Vaid-Menon, who was able to eloquently dismiss conventional notions of gender, particularly the idea that there are only two. Seeing people like Vaid-Menon online gave Moore the courage to reconsider how they approached gender. Moore began experimenting with their outward appearance. Before Moore changed the pronoun they used, Moore had favored a more masculine, dandy-like aesthetic — close-cropped hair, button-down shirts and bow ties — in large part to fit in at work. Moore began wearing their hair longer and often chose less gender-specific clothing, like T-shirts or boxy tops, which felt more natural and comfortable to them. Vaid-Menon’s assuredness, Moore said, “boosted my confidence in terms of defining and asserting my own identity in public spaces.”

A shift in technology emboldened Moore, too. In 2014, Facebook updated its site to include nonbinary gender identities and pronouns, adding more than 50 options for users who don’t identify as male or female, including agender, gender-questioning and intersex. It was a profound moment for Moore. “They had options I didn’t even know about,” Moore told me. That summer, Moore selected “nonbinary,” alerting their wider social spheres, including childhood friends and family members who also used the site. For Moore, it saved them some of the energy of having to explain their name and pronoun shift. Moore also clarified their gender pronouns on Instagram. “I wrote it into my profile to make it more explicit.” To some, the act might seem small, but for Moore, their identity “felt crystallized, and important.”

Several societies and cultures understand gender as more varied than just man or woman, but in the United States, a gender binary has been the norm. “In our cultural history, we’ve never had anything close to a third category, or even the notion that you could be in between categories,” said Barbara Risman, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Risman, who recently published a book called “Where the Millennials Will Take Us: A New Generation Wrestles With the Gender Structure,” contrasted her early research with what she is seeing now. Few of the people she interviewed for the book in 2012 and 2013 were openly using nongendered pronouns, if they even knew about them. Just four years later, she began researching nonbinary young adults because the landscape had changed so radically. “It was reflexive with their friends at school, social groups. Many colleges classes start out with ‘Name, major and preferred pronouns,’ ” Risman told me. In Risman’s experience, it used to take decades to introduce new ideas about sex, sexuality or gender, and even longer for them to trickle upstream into society. “What’s fascinating is how quickly the public conversation has led to legal changes,” Risman said. California and Washington, among others, now allow people to select “x” as their gender, instead of “male” or “female,” on identity documents. “And I am convinced that it has to do with — like everything else in society — the rapid flow of information.”

Helana Darwin, a sociologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook who began researching nonbinary identities in 2014, found that the social-media community played an unparalleled role in people’s lives, especially those who were geographically isolated from other nonbinary people. “Either they were very confused about what was going on or just feeling crushingly lonely and without support, and their online community was the only support in their lives,” Darwin told me. “They turned to the site to understand they aren’t alone.” Most of her subjects said social media was instrumental in deepening their understanding of their identities. “A 61-year-old person in my sample told me that they lived the vast majority of their life as though they were a gay man and was mistaken often as a drag queen after coming out. They didn’t discover nonbinary until they were in their 50s, and it was a freeing moment of understanding that nothing is wrong. They didn’t have to force themselves into the gay-man or trans-woman box — they could just be them. They described it as transcendent.”

When Darwin began her study four years ago, she was shocked to discover that the body of research on nonbinary people was nearly nonexistent. “Even as nonbinary people are becoming increasing visible and vocal, there were still only a handful of articles published in the field of sociology that were even tangentially about nonbinary people and even fewer that were explicitly about nonbinary people.” What little research there was tended to lump the nonbinary experience into trans-woman and trans-man experience, even though all signs pointed to deep differences. The void in the field, she thinks, was due to society’s reliance on the notion that all humans engage in some sense of gender-based identity performance, which reaffirms the idea that gender exists. “There was an academic lag that isn’t keeping with the very urgent and exponentially profound gender revolution happening in our culture.”

Her research found that social media is a gathering place for discussing the logistics of gender — providing advice, reassurance and emotional support, as well as soliciting feedback about everything from voice modulation to hairstyles. The internet is a place where nonbinary people can learn about mixing masculine and feminine elements to the point of obscuring concrete identification as either. As one person she interviewed put it, “Every day someone can’t tell what I am is a good day.”

Nearly everyone Darwin interviewed remarked about the power of acquiring language that spoke to their identity, and they tended to find that language on the internet. But Harry Barbee, a nonbinary sociologist at Florida State University who studies sex, gender and sexuality, cautioned against treating social media as a curative. “When the world assumes you don’t exist, you’re forced to define yourself into existence if you want some semblance of recognition and social viability, and so the internet and social media helps achieve this,” Barbee said. “But it’s not a dream world where we are free to be you and me, because it can also be a mechanism for social control.” Barbee has been researching what it means to live as nonbinary in a binary world. Social media, Barbee said, is “one realm where they do feel free to share who they are, but they’re realistic about the limitations of the space. Even online, they are confronted by hostility and people who are telling them they’re just confused or that makes no sense, or want to talk to them about their genitals.”"



"Psychologists often posit that as children, we operate almost like scientists, experimenting and gathering information to make sense of our surroundings. Children use their available resources — generally limited to their immediate environment — to gather cues, including information about gender roles, to create a sense of self. Alison Gopnik, a renowned philosopher and child psychologist, told me that it’s not enough to simply tell children that other identities or ways of being exist. “That still won’t necessarily change their perspective,” she said. “They have to see it.”

In her 2009 book, “The Philosophical Baby,” Gopnik writes that “when we travel, we return to the wide-ranging curiosity of childhood, and we discover new things about ourselves.” In a new geographic area, our attention is heightened, and everything, from differently labeled condiments to streetwear, becomes riveting. “This new knowledge lets us imagine new ways that we could live ourselves,” she asserts. Flying over feeds in social media can feel like viewing portholes into new dimensions and realities, so I asked Gopnick if it’s possible that social media can function as a foreign country, where millions of new ideas and identities and habitats are on display — and whether that exposure can pry our calcified minds open in unexpected ways. “Absolutely,” she said. “Having a wider range of possibilities to look at gives people a sense of a wider range of possibilities, and those different experiences might lead to having different identities.”

When we dive into Instagram or Facebook, we are on exploratory missions, processing large volumes of information that help us shape our understanding of ourselves and one another. And this is a country that a majority of young adults are visiting on a regular basis. A Pew study from this year found that some 88 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds report using some form of social media, and 71 percent of Americans between ages 18 and 24 use Instagram. Social media is perhaps the most influential form of media they now have. They turn to it for the profound and the mundane — to shape their views and their aesthetics. Social media is a testing ground for expression, the locus of experimentation and exploration — particularly for those who cannot yet fully inhabit themselves offline for fear of discrimination, or worse. Because of that, it has become a lifeline for many people struggling to find others just like them."



"Although social media generally conditions users to share only their highlights — the success reel of their lives — Vaid-Menon thinks it’s important to share the reality of living in a gender-nonconforming body; they want people to understand what the daily experience can be like. “The majority of nonbinary, gender-nonconforming cannot manifest themselves because to do so would mean violence, death, harassment and punishment,” Vaid-Menon told me. … [more]
jennawortham  2018  instagam  internet  web  online  gender  gendernonconforming  culture  us  alisongopnik  maticemoore  alokvaid-memon  barbararisman  helanadarwin  psychology  learning  howwelearn  nonbinary  sexuality  jacobtobia  pidgeonpagonis  danezsmith  akwaekeemezi  jonelyxiumingaagaardandersson  ahomariturner  raindove  taylormason  asiakatedillon  twitter  instagram  children  dennisnorisii  naveenbhat  elisagerosenberg  sevaquinnparraharrington  ashleighshackelford  hengamehyagoobifarah  donaldtrump  socialmedia  socialnetworks  discrimination  fear  bullying  curiosity  childhood  identity  self  language 
february 2019 by robertogreco
A year of drawing
"My son Jules woke up on Christmas last year and started drawing. He was 2. (His birthday is in March.)

Inspired by Sylvia Fein’s book Heidi’s Horse, which collects her daughters drawings from toddler to teenage years, I thought it’d be interesting to see how his drawings developed over the next 12 months."
childhood  children  drawing  art  children'sdrawings  austinkleon  2018  2019  juleskleon 
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
Playing at City Building | MIT Architecture
"A century ago, American children regularly played at city building in schools and youth serving institutions. Much of this activity took the form of “junior republics” – miniature cities, states, and nations run by kids. With supervising adults in the background, the young officials made laws, took civil service exams, paid taxes, ran restaurants, printed newspapers, and role played other civic activities. This talk, which draws on my forthcoming book States of Childhood, explores the historical and contemporary significance of these participatory simulations. I'll argue that the history of the republic movement helps to make visible children’s widespread contributions to American city building, and how their varied contributions were rendered invisible through an earlier era’s discourse about simulation and play. I'll also discuss the republic movement's resonances with a range of contemporary techniques and technologies from role playing and gamification to virtual worlds and augmented reality games, and suggest how recent work in the history of computing and information technology is making available new bodies of theoretical and empirical research for scholars and practitioners seeking a “usable past.”

Playing at City Building
A century ago, American children regularly played at city building in schools and youth serving institutions. Much of this activity took the form of “junior republics” – miniature cities, states, and nations run by kids. With supervising adults in the background, the young officials made laws, took civil service exams, paid taxes, ran restaurants, printed newspapers, and role played other civic activities. This talk, which draws on my forthcoming book States of Childhood, explores the historical and contemporary significance of these participatory simulations. I'll argue that the history of the republic movement helps to make visible children’s widespread contributions to American city building, and how their varied contributions were rendered invisible through an earlier era’s discourse about simulation and play. I'll also discuss the republic movement's resonances with a range of contemporary techniques and technologies from role playing and gamification to virtual worlds and augmented reality games, and suggest how recent work in the history of computing and information technology is making available new bodies of theoretical and empirical research for scholars and practitioners seeking a “usable past.”

Jennifer Light

Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society; Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology; Professor of Urban Studies and Planning
Jen Light’s eclectic interests span the history of science and technology in America over the past 150 years. She is the author of three books as well as articles and essays covering topics from female programming pioneers, to early attempts to organize smart cities, to the racial implications of algorithmic thinking in federal housing policy, to the history of youth political media production, to the uptake of scientific and technical ideas and innovations across other fields. Professor Light is especially fascinated by smart peoples’ bad ideas: efforts by well-intentioned scientists and engineers to apply scientific methods and technological tools to solve social and political problems—and how the history of their failures can inform contemporary scientific and engineering practice.

Light holds degrees from Harvard University and the University of Cambridge. She has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study and the Derek Brewer Visiting Fellow at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge. Her work has been supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and honored with the Catherine Bauer Wurster Prize from the Society for American City and Regional Planning History and an honorary doctorate from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Light serves on the editorial boards IEEE Annals of the History of Computing; Information and Culture; Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences; and Journal of Urban History. Professor Light was previously on the faculty of the School of Communication and the Departments of History and Sociology at Northwestern University."
jenniferlight  2018  children  youth  teens  urban  urbanism  cityplanning  cities  citybuilding  schools  education  civics  modeling  participatory  simulations  participation  government  governance  democracy  politics  computing  technology  society  history  via:nickkaufmann  childhood  play  roleplaying  gamification  virtualworlds  worldbuilding 
december 2018 by robertogreco
AnjiPlay (@anjiplay) • Fotos y vídeos de Instagram
“We have discovered that some teachers, if they really want to hear what children have to say, that their whole state of being is at ease, and they listen closely and that in the process of listening they discover that children are speaking a wealth of information, and these teachers will be receptive to the information that they are hearing. And then some teachers want to hear children say what they the teachers, deep down, want the children to say, things that they want to hear, and will unconsciously overlook what children are actually saying. They can't hear clearly and are unable to truly understand the child's expression. And you can see that their physical state of being is one of anxiety.” —Wang Zhen, Vice Principal, Jiguan Kindergarten, Anji County interviewed by Dr. Chelsea Bailey on November 7, 2018.
wangzhen  children  childhood  preschool  anjiplay  listening  howweteach  teaching  pedagogy  hearing  attention  presence  receptivity 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Jacob Sam-La Rose en Instagram: “Decluttering. These are the keepers. I harbour a fantasy of my future kids being fascinated with these in the same way I raided my mother’s…”
"Decluttering. These are the keepers. I harbour a fantasy of my future kids being fascinated with these in the same way I raided my mother’s record collection. Not just for the music itself, but the cover design, the appeal of the tangible object... In a digital world, it’s good to have analog anchors..."

[Commented: "Oh, those spacial, ambient, tactile, smell, taste, and sound memories that come from the places where we are raised. Swoon. I just tracked down a book about whales that was in our house as a child. I’d been referencing it for years without remembering the name (The Whale), but recalling so many details of its contents and the situations I was in while pouring over the book. The confines of small-ish collections encourage repeated reencounters that just don’t come as easily in the near infinite expanse of YouTube, Spotify, etc. Maybe this is why I have been so keen to create my on digital collections, something that I can move around in over and over again?"]

[See also: https://www.instagram.com/p/BmL5xv5HcOo/]
jacobsam-larose  2018  decluttering  memory  space  sound  music  collections  senses  mariekondo  taste  smell  sounds  place  finite  curation  tangible  tactile  analog  digital  books  childhood  memories 
august 2018 by robertogreco
BBC Radio 4 - Pick a Sky and Name It
"How did Momtaza Mehri go from net savvy 6th former to successful millennial poet?

A house belonging to her grandmother is the closest poet Momtaza Mehri has ever come to having a permanent home. Aside from summer months in London, Momtaza's family picked its way across the Middle East.

"Then I just realise, I'm having this typical Somali experience where we're literally going to the places that would be considered the bad 'hoods."

Across a sea, another gulf, was the country her parents no longer called home.

Talking with her mother, Momtaza revisits the childhood experiences that shaped her outlook and her coming of age as a millennial poet.

Poetry extracts are taken from:
I believe in the transformative power of cocoa butter and breakfast cereal in the afternoon
Manifesto for those carrying dusk under their eyes
The Sag
Shan
Wink Wink
November 1997

"The internet just switched up the entire game," Momtaza says.

Producer: Tamsin Hughes
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4."
momtazamehri  poets  poetry  poems  howwelearn  online  internet  web  blogging  autodidacts  somalidiaspora  tamsinhughes  2018  interviews  radio  profiles  somalia  middleeast  london  experience  childhood  dubai  mogadishu  civilwar  tumblr  publishing  howwewrite  freedom 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Children, Learning, and the Evaluative Gaze of School — Carol Black
"That's when I understood: when you watch a child who is focused on learning, and you let them know you’re watching, and you let them know your opinion as though your opinion matters, you just took that thing away from them. You just made it yours. Your smell is all over it now.

The evaluative gaze does the greatest harm, of course, to the kids who live under a biased eye; the ones who enter school with a test score or a disciplinary record or a skin color that shades the gaze against them. Once an assessment of a child's ability has been made, positive or negative, that child will feel it; if you think you can conceal it from them, you're wrong. They know. They always know. Studies have shown that even lab rats learn more slowly if their researchers believe that they aren't smart rats. The kids who grow up under a negative gaze, the ones who day after day, year after year, feel themselves appraised and found wanting –– these kids pay the greatest price, their psyches permanently damaged by it, their futures irrevocably harmed. (The fact that our appraisals are shown again and again to be wrong never seems to discourage us from making them.) But even the kids who get the good grades, the high scores, the perfect "10's" –– even they are subtly blighted by it. They've won the prize, and lost their power.

Why is it clear to us that it's degrading and objectifying to measure and rank a girl’s physical body on a numeric scale, but we think it’s perfectly okay to measure and rank her mind that way?

Over the years I've watched the many ways that children try to cope with the evaluative gaze of school. (The gaze, of course, can come from parents, too; just ask my kids.) Some children eagerly display themselves for it; some try to make themselves invisible to it. They fight, they flee, they freeze; like prey animals they let their bodies go limp and passive before it. Some defy it by laughing in its face, by acting up, clowning around, refusing to attend or engage, refusing to try so you can never say they failed. Some master the art of holding back that last 10%, of giving just enough of themselves to "succeed," but holding back enough that the gaze can't define them (they don't yet know that this strategy will define and limit their lives.) Some make themselves sick trying to meet or exceed the "standards" that it sets for them. Some simply vanish into those standards until they don't know who they would have been had the standards not been set.

But the power of the gaze goes beyond the numbers and letters used to quantify it. It exists in looks and tones and body language, in words and in the spaces between words. It is a way of looking at another human being, of confronting another human life; it is a philosophical stance, an emotional stance, a political stance, an exercise of power. As philosopher Martin Buber might have put it, the stance of true relationship says to the other, "I–Thou;" the evaluative gaze says "I–It." It says, "I am the subject; you are the object. I know what you are, I know what you should be, I know what 'standards' you must meet." It is a god-like stance, which is actually a big deal even if you think you are a fair and friendly god.

The evaluative gaze of school is so constant a presence, so all-pervasive an eye, that many people have come to believe that children would actually not grow and develop without it. They believe that without their "feedback," without their constant "assessment," a child's development would literally slow or even stop. They believe that children would not learn from the things they experience and do and see and hear and make and read and imagine unless they have an adult to "assess" them (or unless the adult teaches them to "self-assess," which generally means teaching them to internalize the adult gaze.) For people whose experience is with children inside the school system, it may seem self-evident that this is true. For people whose experience is with children outside the school system, it may seem like believing that an acorn would not grow into an oak tree unless you measure it and give it your opinion. Because an oak tree does not actually require your opinion, and believe it or not, 90% of the time, neither does a child.

A pot boils whether you watch it or not. It just needs water and fire.

There are ever-increasing numbers of people raising their kids outside this Panopticon of constant evaluation and measurement and feedback, and what they find is simply this: they grow and develop very much like other kids. Like other kids, they don't all conform to the same "standards;" like other kids, they are individual and diverse. Like other kids, they have triumphs, and struggles, and doldrums, and passions, and frustrations, and joys. "Assessment," or the lack of it, seems to have remarkably little to do with it. Because what an oak tree actually needs is not your opinion but soil and water and light and air, and what a child needs is love and stories and tools and conversation and support and guidance and access to nature and culture and the world. If a kid asks for your feedback, by all means you can give it; it would be impolite not to. But what we should be measuring and comparing is not our children but the quality of the learning environments we provide for them. "
carolblack  canon  unschooling  deschooling  evaluation  assessment  schools  schooling  schooliness  cv  petergray  judgement  writing  art  sfsh  rubrics  children  childhood  learning  howwelearn  education  discipline  coercion  rabindranathtagore  panopticon  observation  teaching  teachers  power  resistance  surveillance  martinbuber  gender  race  racism  measurement  comparison  praise  rewards  grades  grading  2018 
june 2018 by robertogreco
World'sSmartestGman on Twitter: "Imagine thinking taking the most inquisitive creature in the world, human children, and putting them into a prison with nothing but punishment to enforce learning and wondering why they don't"
"Imagine thinking taking the most inquisitive creature in the world, human children, and putting them into a prison with nothing but punishment to enforce learning and wondering why they don't

Have you ever met a child that hasn't been to public school yet, or been raised by telescreens? They want to know everything. You don't have to try to get them to learn

If you have a kid, everything you do is a chance to teach. When you're cooking dinner, there's physics, botany, history, chemistry, metallurgy, anything. Encourage them to ask questions.

"What if he/she needs to learn something that I don't?"

If it's important to know, why don't you know it? If you have trouble with it, get a book for them, and read through it so you understand it better too.

Involve your kids in everything. Teach them how to be safe around dangerous tools, then gradually let them learn to use them. Have books about everything. They'll read them.

If your kid brings you a rock, or a stick, or a bug, learn about that thing, whatever's appropriate for their age and knowledge. "This is a branch from a tree" or "This is from an Elm tree" or "This is Ulmus laevis"

We live in a miraculous time, where the monopoly on information is broken, where texts can be copied infinitely and effortless and knowledge is trivial to communicate. Schools are stone age, comparatively.

We're so prosperous that people all over take their free time to put information about their areas of expertise online for anyone to see, for free. We should rejoice at our fortune.

You can ask questions on any topic of millions of experts on anything, from your kitchen, and they'll answer, for free. To squander this resources and waste a childhood in govt school is a sin.

It would be like sending your kid to carry water home all day, when you have a faucet in your house. That's what govt schooling is like in the age of free information.

I'm not saying it isn't challenging, but you're also losing a tremendous amount of challenges associated with 12 years of govt schooling that you are taking for granted.

And more than anything, it's your child. They trust their parents. Govt school teachers them to trust whatever rando in whatever school you are forced into because of your street address.

When you're wrong, you can tell them, and explain why. When the rando teacher's wrong, they have to learn the wrong thing or be punished.

You also have friends and family, who are smart and good at stuff. When you're socializing, they're still learning. If your brother's a mechanic, they'll ask him mechanical questions.

We're so conditioned to think of learning as structured, formal, teaching, education, at school, because people are getting paid off it. But it happens all the time, naturally.

Some things are better taught sitting down, like reading and maths, but once those are mostly out of the way, a lot of things can be taught in situ.

Even sports and games are teaching. Trigonometry, statistics, history, biology, sociology, culture. We don't think of things as teaching because we're used to kids hating learning, because learning is punishment in govt schools.

When you go to the park, history, botany, biology, geology. When you go to the library, art, architecture, English, history, chemistry. When you go to the grocery store, botany, history, chemistry, sociology, economics.

Most of the people I interact with on here, I can tell have the joy of learning and knowledge in their hearts. That's all you need. If you never had it, because of govt school, find it, it's wonderful.

Because if you have the joy and love of learning and knowledge in your own heart, it will flow out to everyone around you, especially if you have children."
unschooling  education  deschooling  homeschool  learning  children  parenting  schooling  schools  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  schooliness  internet  web  online  curiosity  childhood  publicschools  2018 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Common World | Children’s Relations with Other Species
"In following children’s relations with other species, our research works against the premises of exclusive human agency and paramount human interests. Instead it draws upon frameworks and methodologies that re-focus upon child/plant/animal interactions, entanglements and co-shapings. These include multispecies ethnographies, multi-sensory and affect-focused methods, and textual methods that examine the role of child/animal/plant narratives and deconstruct their discursive formations and effects. Much of this research responds to colonial and ecological legacies, such as the anthropogenic escalation of species extinctions, which provide context to contemporary children’s relations with other species. It seeks news ways of fostering ethical, recuperative and flourishing multispecies futures."
children  multispecies  morethanhuman  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  childhood  plants  animals  nature 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Children raised by wolves: Spaniard raised by wolves disappointed with human life | In English | EL PAÍS
"Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja was once the “Mowgli” of Spain’s Sierra Morena mountain range, but life has changed a lot since then. Now the 72-year-old lives in a small, cold house in the village of Rante, in the Galician province of Ourense. This past winter has been hard for him, and a violent cough interrupts him often as he speaks.

His last happy memories were of his childhood with the wolves. The wolf cubs accepted him as a brother, while the she-wolf who fed him taught him the meaning of motherhood. He slept in a cave alongside bats, snakes and deer, listening to them as they exchanged squawks and howls. Together they taught him how to survive. Thanks to them, Rodríguez learned which berries and mushrooms were safe to eat.

Today, the former wolf boy, who was 19 when he was discovered by the Civil Guard and ripped away from his natural home, struggles with the coldness of the human world. It’s something that didn’t affect him so much when he was running around barefoot and half-naked with the wolves. “I only wrapped my feet up when they hurt because of the snow,” he remembers. “I had such big calluses on my feet that kicking a rock was like kicking a ball.”

After he was captured, Rodríguez’s world fell apart and he has never been able to fully recover. He’s been cheated and abused, exploited by bosses in the hospitality and construction industries, and never fully reintegrated to the human tribe. But at least his neighbors in Rante accept him as “one of them.” And now, the environmental group Amig@s das Arbores is raising money to insulate Rodríguez’s house and buy him a small pellet boiler – things that his meager pension cannot cover.

Rodríguez is one of the few documented cases in the world of a child being raised by animals away from humans. He was born in Añora, in Córdoba province, in 1946. His mother died giving birth when he was three years old, and his father left to live with another woman in Fuencaliente. Rodríguez only remembers abuse during this period of his life.

They took him to the mountains to replace an old goatherd who cared for 300 animals. The man taught him the use of fire and how to make utensils, but then died suddenly or disappeared, leaving Rodríguez completely alone around 1954, when he was just seven years old. When authorities found Rodríguez, he had swapped words for grunts. But he could still cry. “Animals also cry,” he says.

He admits that he has tried to return to the mountains but “it is not what it used to be,” he says. Now the wolves don’t see him as a brother anymore. “You can tell that they are right there, you hear them panting, it gives you goosebumps … but it’s not that easy to see them,” he explains. “There are wolves and if I call out to them they are going to respond, but they are not going to approach me,” he says with a sigh. “I smell like people, I wear cologne.” He was also sad to see that there were now cottages and big electric gates where his cave used to be.

His experience has been the subject of various anthropological studies, books by authors such as Gabriel Janer, and the 2010 film Among wolves (Entrelobos) by Gerardo Olivares. He insists that life has been much harder since he was thrown back into the modern world. “I think they laugh at me because I don’t know about politics or soccer,” he said one day. “Laugh back at them,” his doctor told him. “Everyone knows less than you.”

He has encountered many bad people along the way, but there have also been acts of solidarity. The forest officer Xosé Santos, a member of Amig@s das Arbores, organizes sessions at schools where Rodríguez can talk about his love for animals and the importance of caring for the environment. “It’s amazing how he enthralls the children with his life experience,” says Santos. Children, after all, are the humans whom Rodríguez feels most comfortable with"
childhood  spain  wolves  españa  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  morethanhuman  feral  animals  wildlife  society  crying  communication  children 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit on a Childhood of Reading and Wandering | Literary Hub
"In the most egalitarian of European—and New Mexican—traditions, forests were public commons in which common people could roam, graze flocks, hunt and gather, and this is another way that forests when they are public land and public libraries are alike: as spaces in which everyone is welcome, as places in which we can wander and collect, get lost and find what we’re looking for.

The United States’s public libraries sometimes seem to me the last refuges of a democratic vision of equality, places in which everyone is welcome, which serve the goal of an informed public, offering services far beyond the already heady gift of free books you can take home, everything from voter registration to computer access. I’ve joked for a long time that if you walked up to people in the street and asked them whether we could own our greatest treasures collectively and trust people to walk away with them and bring them back, a lot of people would say that’s impossibly idealistic and some would say it’s socialist, but libraries have been making books free for all for a very long time. They are temples of books, fountains of narrative pleasure, and toolboxes of crucial information. My own writing has depended on public libraries and then university libraries and archives and does to this day. I last used a public library the day before yesterday."



"So let’s begin by recognizing that all this was—and in many moral ways still is—Coast Miwok land, before the Spanish came, before Spanish claims became Mexican claims, before this was considered to be part of Mexico, before it was part of the United States."



"Browsing, woolgathering, meandering, wandering, drifting, that state when exploring, when looking to find what it might be possible to find rather than seeking one particular goal, is the means of locomotion. I often think that hunter-gatherers must move a lot like this, seeking game or plant foods, flexible about what might show up on any given day. I was lucky that children were weeds, not hothouse flowers, in those days, left to our own devices, and my own devices led in two directions: north to the hills and the horses, south to the library."



"These linked paths and roads form a circuit of about six miles that I began hiking ten years ago to walk off my angst during a difficult year. I kept coming back to this route for respite from my work and for my work too, because thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented culture, and doing nothing is hard to do. It’s best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking. Walking itself is the intentional act closest to the unwilled rhythms of the body, to breathing and the beating of the heart. It strikes a delicate balance between working and idling, being and doing. It is a bodily labor that produces nothing but thoughts, experiences, arrivals. After all those years of walking to work out other things, it made sense to come back to work close to home, in Thoreau’s sense, and to think about walking.

Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts."



"Moving on foot seems to make it easier to move in time; the mind wanders from plans to recollections to observations."



"Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go…"



"Like many others who turned into writers, I disappeared into books when I was very young, disappeared into them like someone running into the woods. What surprised and still surprises me is that there was another side to the forest of stories and the solitude, that I came out that other side and met people there. Writers are solitaries by vocation and necessity. I sometimes think the test is not so much talent, which is not as rare as people think, but purpose or vocation, which manifests in part as the ability to endure a lot of solitude and keep working. Before writers are writers they are readers, living in books, through books, in the lives of others that are also the heads of others, in that act that is so intimate and yet so alone."



"Libraries are sanctuaries from the world and command centers onto it: here in quiet rooms are the lives of Crazy Horse and Aung San Suu Kyi, the Hundred Years War and the Opium Wars and the Dirty War, the ideas of Simone Weil and Lao Tsu, information on building your sailboat or dissolving your marriage, fictional worlds and books to equip the reader to reenter the real world. They are, ideally, places where nothing happens and where everything that has happened is stored up to be remembered and relived, the place where the world is folded up into boxes of paper. Every book is a door that opens into another world, which might be the magic that all those children’s books were alluding to, and a library is a Milky Way of worlds. All readers are Wu Daozi; all imaginative, engrossing books are landscapes into which readers vanish."
rebeccasolnit  2017  children  unschooling  deschooling  parenting  education  libraries  wandering  howwelearn  freedom  autonomy  forests  childhood  novato  california  learning  canon  publicgood  us  egalitarianism  democracy  socialism  thoreau  walking  cv  unknowing  uncertainty  woods  writing  howwewrite  books  literature  stories  storytelling  listening  reading  sanctuary  vanishing  nature  plants  wildlife  multispecies  morethanhuman  society 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Feral children: settler colonialism, progress, and the figure of the child: Settler Colonial Studies: Vol 8, No 1
"Settler colonialism is structured in part according to the principle of civilizational progress yet the roots of this doctrine are not well understood. Disparate ideas of progress and practices related to colonial dispossession and domination can be traced back to the Enlightenment, and as far back as ancient Greece, but there remain unexplored logics and continuities. I argue that civilizational progress and settler colonialism are structured according to the opposition between politics governed by reason or faith and the figure of the child as sinful or bestial. Thus, it is not contingent, but rather necessary that justificatory frameworks of European empire and colonialism depict Indigenous peoples as children. To illustrate how the theoretical link between Indigenous peoples and children emerges not as a simple analogy, but rather, as the source of the premodern/modern and savage/civilized binaries, I trace the various historical iterations of the political/childhood opposition through the classical, medieval, enlightenment, and modern eras. I show how the model of civilizational progress from a premodern and savage state of childhood continues to serve as the model for settler colonial exclusion and domination of Indigenous peoples."

[Also here (and elsewhere):
https://www.academia.edu/26087622/Feral_Children_Settler_Colonialism_Progess_and_the_Figure_of_the_Child ]
tobyrollo  2016  settlercolonialism  children  colonialism  childhood  unschooling  deschooling  dispossession  domination  civilization  feral  ageism 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Michael Ian Black on Twitter: "Getting a lot of grief from teachers for my earlier take on k-12 education. I meant no offense to teachers, who I think, by and large, do their best. My criticisms have to do with the whole dang public education apparatus, w
"Getting a lot of grief from teachers for my earlier take on k-12 education. I meant no offense to teachers, who I think, by and large, do their best. My criticisms have to do with the whole dang public education apparatus, which feels hopelessly outmoded and moribund.

I advocate an new model of education which focuses on two things: creativity and critical thinking. That's it. All else would be in service of those two skills. Why? Because the history of public education has been about readying workers to work in predictable industries.

Those predictable industries no long exist or are undergoing radical transformation. What cuts across all industries in this new economy are creativity and critical thinking. If you have those two skills, you can do anything.

Those skills also happen to be the most fun things to work on. "Draw something." "What do you think about you drew?" We're not grading you, we're asking your opinion. What works about this? What doesn't work? Exactly how tasks are approached in the workplace.

Also, why are we gearing everything to the tests? The tests are snapshots, rarely illuminating, and often overweighted. As testing has increased, childhood depression and anxiety has risen with it. For what? An extra hundredth on your GPA?

To what end? Why are moving these kids through the production line? My kids are in high school and I promise they aren't excited about anything they're doing. They can tolerate it. They like lunch. But they're mostly just moving through the day.

Wouldn't it better if they were excited to attend school because school was where they did all the cool shit they want to do? Play video games and read cool books and study music and, yeah, maybe write a paper about that cool video game, and maybe learn a little coding.

You want to play guitar? Great. Here's a guitar. Here's how music relates to math. Here's how math relates to science. How's the song coming? Take an hour for lunch. You want to leave early today? Leave early. Treat kids the way you want to be treated, excite them...

Connect them with experts in the fields they're studying. Develop mentorships, make sure they take a hike every day. Make school the place you wish you could have hung out when you were their age. Teachers can be guides, a support system, one-on-one counselors. it can work."

[previous thread: https://twitter.com/michaelianblack/status/955470909669892098

"Been thinking a lot about k-12 education since last night. (I mean, before that too, but I hadn't written about it on Twitter.) My conclusion: it's total shit.

I'm going to make some points that are probably obvious to most people but they're worth saying. First, the average education destroys children's natural inquisitiveness. "This rock is cool!" "Great. Memorize everything about its composition. then I'm going to test you on it."

Second, the grading system is meaningless. A good grade denotes mastery of a subject about as much as having shiny teeth means you eat a healthy diet.

Third, kids are bored because school is boring because the way things are taught is boring. It's not the teacher's fault. It's a system that values compliance over creativity. It teaches kids how to regurgitate instead of how to think.

Why isn't school fun? Why doesn't it look more like kindergarten all the way through high school? Why isn't it student-driven instead of administration-driven? After they know how to read and perform basic math why can't they pursue subjects about which they show interest?

If a kid likes to read, why can't she spend her time with other kids who love literature? If she likes science, why not spent her time doing science? Why funnel everybody through the same stupid curriculum that has no real-world application?

The goal of k-12 education should to nurture kids towards an excitement of lifetime learning instead of towards getting into a college they can't afford. Anybody who wants to learn something can learn it. But they need to want to learn. School kills desire to learn.

Would any adult choose to go back to k-12 schooling? No fucking way. For most people, it's an endless drudge. Why not preserve childhood as a time of exploration and joy? Who is well-served by this system?

We know k-12 education doesn't work well. Kids hate it. Parents hate it. Teachers hate it. Employers hate it. Everybody hates it. So why do we keep it? Why are we inflicting so much misery on ourselves?"]

[And a thread prior to that: https://twitter.com/michaelianblack/status/955263135254016006

"One of my life's great stress-reducing realizations is that I don't care about my kids' grades.

Not only do I not care about their grades, I honestly think I'd be fine with it if they decide to drop out before graduating. The way we educate kids is 100% garbage. (Maybe 75% garbage.)

Here's the only thing school needs to teach kids: reading, how to construct a coherent thought, and basic math. After that, kids should be free to pursue whatever interests them, supplemented with broad exposure to the humanities.

There should be more: art, music, game playing, movie watching, physical activity. Schooling through high school should bear more than a passing resemblance to kindergarten. The way we do things is stultifying and soul-crushing.

Everything I value as an adult was treated as extracurricular and slightly distasteful by the school administration. The arts had no "practical value," but somehow trigonometry did. It made no sense.

When I decided to become an actor, I was told (and believed) I would never make a dime. I took that trade-off to do what I wanted in exchange for little to no pay. But a funny thing happened. The gig economy of the actor became the gig economy of the entire country.

So I found myself much more comfortable in uncertainty as traditional occupational structures began falling by the wayside. I felt like I had the flexibility and creativity to tackle unfamiliar jobs with minimal training because I believed in my own adaptability.

The kids I see these days can do anything on a computer. They are good collaborators and their egos seem more in check than mine. They'll do fine in the coming years, but I'd like to see their kids the beneficiaries of this new kind of schooling, a student-directed schooling.

That draws from the expertise of the faculty to augment studies, but also to be able to access the world's great minds on your narrow question. Slow, non-grade work that moves towards a defining and meaningful goal/solution. Applied education. Seems like a better way to handled"]
michaelianblack  schools  education  grades  grading  homework  schooling  learning  children  parenting  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  2018  self-directed  self-directedlearning  howwelearn  freedom  autonomy  creativity  misery  sfsh  criticalthinking  middleschool  highschool  teachers  howweteach  schooliness  oppression  publicschools  childhood 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Culture of Childhood: We’ve Almost Destroyed It
[previously posted here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201609/biological-foundations-self-directed-education ]

"Children learn the most valuable lessons with other children, away from adults."



"I don’t want to trivialize the roles of adults in children’s lives, but, truth be told, we adults greatly exaggerate our roles in our theories and beliefs about how children develop. We have this adult-centric view that we raise, socialize, and educate children.

Certainly we are important in children’s lives. Children need us. We feed, clothes, shelter, and comfort them. We provide examples (not always so good) of what it’s like to be an adult. But we don’t raise, socialize, or educate them. They do all that for themselves, and in that process they are far more likely to look to other children than to us adults as models. If child psychologists were actually CHILD psychologists (children), theories of child development would be much less about parents and much more about peers.

Children are biologically designed to grow up in a culture of childhood.
Have you ever noticed how your child’s tastes in clothes, music, manner of speech, hobbies, and almost everything else have much more to do with what other children she or he knows are doing or like than what you are doing or like? Of course you have. Children are biologically designed to pay attention to the other children in their lives, to try to fit in with them, to be able to do what they do, to know what they know. Through most of human history, that’s how children became educated, and that’s still largely how children become educated today, despite our misguided attempts to stop it and turn the educating job over to adults.

Wherever anthropologists have observed traditional cultures and paid attention to children as well as adults, they’ve observed two cultures, the adults’ culture and the children’s culture. The two cultures, of course, are not completely independent of one another. They interact and influence one another; and children, as they grow up, gradually leave the culture of childhood and enter into the culture of adulthood. Children’s cultures can be understood, at least to some degree, as practice cultures, where children try out various ways of being and practice, modify, and build upon the skills and values of the adult culture.

I first began to think seriously about cultures of childhood when I began looking into band hunter-gatherer societies. In my reading, and in my survey of anthropologists who had lived in such societies, I learned that the children in those societies — from roughly the age of four on through their mid teen years — spent most of their waking time playing and exploring with groups of other children, away from adults (Gray, 2012, also here). They played in age-mixed groups, in which younger children emulated and learned from older ones. I found that anthropologists who had studied children in other types of traditional cultures also wrote about children’s involvement in peer groups as the primary means of their socialization and education (e.g. Lancy et al, 2010; Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1989). Judith Harris (1998), in a discussion of such research, noted that the popular phrase It takes a village to raise a child is true if interpreted differently from the usual Western interpretation. In her words (p 161): “The reason it takes a village is not because it requires a quorum of adults to nudge erring youngsters back onto the paths of righteousness. It takes a village because in a village there are always enough kids to form a play group.”

I also realized, as I thought about all this, that my own childhood, in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the 1950s, was in many ways like that of children in traditional societies. We had school (which was not the big deal it is today) and chores, and some of us had part time jobs, but, still, most of our time was spent with other children away from adults. My family moved frequently, and in each village or city neighborhood to which we moved I found a somewhat different childhood culture, with different games, different traditions, somewhat different values, different ways of making friends. Whenever we moved, my first big task was to figure out the culture of my new set of peers, so I could become part of it. I was by nature shy, which I think was an advantage because I didn’t just blunder in and make a fool of myself. I observed, studied, practiced the skills that I saw to be important to my new peers, and then began cautiously to enter in and make friends. In the mid 20th century, a number of researchers described and documented many of the childhood cultures that could be found in neighborhoods throughout Europe and the United States (e.g. Opie & Opie, 1969)."



"Children learn the most important lessons in life from other children, not from adults.
Why, in the course of natural selection, did human children evolve such a strong inclination to spend as much time as possible with other children and avoid adults? With a little reflection, it’s not hard to see the reasons. There are many valuable lessons that children can learn in interactions with other children, away from adults, that they cannot learn, or are much less likely to learn, in interactions with adults. Here are some of them.

Authentic communication. …

Independence and courage. …

Creating and understanding the purpose and modifiability of rules. …

The famous developmental psychologist Jean Piaget (1932) noted long ago that children develop a more sophisticated and useful understanding of rules when they play with other children than when they play with adults. With adults, they get the impression that rules are fixed, that they come down from some high authority and cannot be changed. But when children play with other children, because of the more equal nature of the relationship, they feel free to challenge one another’s ideas about the rules, which often leads to negotiation and change in rules. They learn in this this way that rules are not fixed by heaven, but are human contrivances to make life more fun and fair. This is an important lesson; it is a cornerstone of democracy.

Practicing and building on the skills and values of the adult culture. …

Getting along with others as equals."



"The adult battle against cultures of childhood has been going on for centuries.

Hunter-gatherer adults seemed to understand that children needed to grow up largely in a culture of childhood, with little adult interference, but that understanding seemed to decline with the rise of agriculture, land ownership, and hierarchical organizations of power among adults (Gray, 2012). Adults began to see it as their duty to suppress children’s natural willfulness, so as to promote obedience, which often involved attempts to remove them from the influences of other children and subordinate them to adult authority. The first systems of compulsory schooling, which are the forerunners of our schools today, arose quite explicitly for that purpose.

If there is a father of modern schools, it is the Pietist clergyman August Hermann Francke, who developed a system of compulsory schooling in Prussia, in the late 17th century, which was subsequently copied and elaborated upon throughout Europe and America. Francke wrote, in his instructions to schoolmasters: “Above all it is necessary to break the natural willfulness of the child. While the schoolmaster who seeks to make the child more learned is to be commended for cultivating the child’s intellect, he has not done enough. He has forgotten his most important task, namely that of making the will obedient.” Francke believed that the most effective way to break children’s wills was through constant monitoring and supervision. He wrote: “Youth do not know how to regulate their lives, and are naturally inclined toward idle and sinful behavior when left to their own devices. For this reason, it is a rule in this institution [the Prussian Pietist schools] that a pupil never be allowed out of the presence of a supervisor. The supervisor’s presence will stifle the pupil’s inclination to sinful behavior, and slowly weaken his willfulness.” [Quoted by Melton, 1988.]

We may today reject Francke’s way of stating it, but the underlying premise of much adult policy toward children is still in Francke’s tradition. In fact, social forces have conspired now to put Francke’s recommendation into practice far more effectively than occurred at Francke’s time or any other time in the past. Parents have become convinced that it is dangerous and irresponsible to allow children to play with other children, away from adults, so restrictions on such play are more severe and effective than they have ever been before. By increasing the amount of time spent in school, expanding homework, harping constantly on the importance of scoring high on school tests, banning children from public spaces unless accompanied by an adult, and replacing free play with adult-led sports and lessons, we have created a world in which children are almost always in the presence of a supervisor, who is ready to intervene, protect, and prevent them from practicing courage, independence, and all the rest that children practice best with peers, away from adults. I have argued elsewhere (Gray, 2011, and here) that this is why we see record levels of anxiety, depression, suicide, and feelings of powerlessness among adolescents and young adults today.

The Internet is the savior of children’s culture today

There is, however, one saving grace, one reason why we adults have not completely crushed the culture of childhood. That’s the Internet. We’ve created a world in which children are more or less prevented from congregating in physical space without an adult, but children have found another way. They get together in cyberspace. They play games and communicate over the Internet. They create their own rules and culture and ways of being with others over … [more]
childhood  culture  learning  children  play  rules  age  adults  parenting  schools  petergray  2016  sfsh  openstudioproject  lcproject  self-directed  self-directedlearning  games  unschooling  deschooling  society  behavior  howwelearn  democracy  change  practice  communication  autonomy  online  internet  web  authenticity  courage  hunter-gatherers  augusthermannfrancke  obedience  willfulness  youth  generations  jeanpiaget  ionaopie  peteropie  psychology  anthropology  peers 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Caveman drawings
"Our two-year-old, Jules, our little caveman, started drawing dozens of skeletons a few days ago, and in response to my posts about them, an Instagram follower commented, “They’re like ancient cave drawings.” I immediately thought of the work of Sylvia Fein, a painter who wrote two really interesting books about children’s artwork: Heidi’s Horse, a record of her daughter’s drawings of horses from the ages of 2 to 17, and First Drawings: Genesis of Visual Thinking, which compares children’s drawings to the cave paintings and drawings of our ancestors. The books can be hard to track down, so here are a few examples from First Drawings, below:

[images]

I love these books because they honor the work of children’s drawing — their play — by paying close attention to it, and they show how the development of children’s visual thinking echoes the development of our species’ visual thinking. Children do the work of developing powers that we have evolved over thousands of years, all in the span of a decade or two.

I also love these books because they are about intense looking and observation, and they explore their arguments through simple juxtaposition. I know of at least two other books — both favorites of mine — that use this method: David Hockney’s Secret Knowledge, which compares post-photography painting to medieval pre-optics paintings, and Norman Brosterman’s Inventing Kindergarten, which compares the art of kindergarteners to the art of modernist artists and architects.

Sylvia Fein is a terrific painter who, to my knowledge, is still working at the age of 98. Here’s a 2014 documentary about her life and work. There’s a wonderful moment when she speaks of discovering working in miniature when her daughter was very little: “I was just in heaven. Everything seemed to go together: my life and my painting.” I’m inspired by the way Fein was able to integrate motherhood and art-making. (Above is my favorite painting of hers, obviously a self-portrait, from 1947, called “Lady With Her Baby.”)

The only thing remotely similar to Fein’s book Heidi’s Horse that I can think of is a 1939 exhibit at the MoMA, Creative Growth, Childhood to Maturity, which showcased the work of Dahlov Ipcar, from the age 3 to 22. (She was, by the way, the first woman with a solo exhibition at MoMA.) Ipcar’s parents, William Zorach and Marguerite Zorach, were both artists, and they saved much of the artwork she made as a young child. The press release of the show outlines a goal very similar to Heidi’s Horse: “it shows the creative growth from infancy to adulthood of an individual who is neither a genius nor a prodigy.”

Ipcar wrote about her unique upbringing in her essay, “My Family, My Life, My Art”:
My parents had always encouraged me to develop my own style of art. They both had undergone conventional art school training, but when they became involved in the modern art movement, they found they had to unlearn everything they had been taught…. They had deliberately left me unschooled in art, wanting to see what would happen if I were left alone to develop in my own way.

Ipcar and Fein share another connection: they both found a way to integrate their life and art-making. It came naturally to Ipcar, who recalled painting in the studio alongside her mother, and later, painting with her own children:
People always ask me how I managed to paint when my two boys were small. My children were a joy to me, and there was no problem working with them around — I just let them play at my feet as I painted. They would even run toy fire engines up and down my easel, but it didn’t bother me.

This is very much what I am attempting here, at the kitchen table, at this very moment, while the two boys draw quietly beside me, long enough for me to press “Publish.”
children'sdrawings  children'sart  2017  austinkleon  sylviafein  parenting  dahlovipcar  drawing  children  art  artists  moma  childhood 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Tricia Wang on Instagram: “🏆📚🎉BEST SELF-REFLECTION BOOK OF 2017 AWARD GOES TO: Supernormal! If you’ve been through any childhood adversity (e.g. family instability…” • Instagram
"🏆📚🎉BEST SELF-REFLECTION BOOK OF 2017 AWARD GOES TO: Supernormal! If you’ve been through any childhood adversity (e.g. family instability, racial/ethnic shit immigrant background, health or mental illness, etc) and if as an adult you tend to dive into work in a way that compromises your health or mental stability, GET THIS BOOK! You are likely what the author, Meg Jay, calls a “supernormal, “everyday superheros who have made a life out of dodging bullets and leaping over obstacles, hiding in plain sight as teachers, artists, doctors, lawyers, parents, students….” This is the first book I’ve read that effectively explains the befuddling phenomena of why a subset of kids who have grown up in adverse situations succeed as adults COMBINED with the latest neuroscience research on what longterm stress does to the brain and body. I put up quotes from my favorite sections on my website.
And if you happen to have experienced a perfectly supportive, emotional stable childhood, gift this book to someone special. Thanks to #1 life meddler @latoyap for the invaluable recommendation."
books  toread  triciawang  megjay  psychology  adversity  health  stress  childhood 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Joy and Sorrow of Rereading Holt’s "How Children Learn" | Psychology Today
[Also here: https://medium.com/the-mission/the-joy-and-sorrow-of-rereading-holts-how-children-learn-ffb4f46485e9 ]

"Holt was an astute and brilliant observer of children. If he had studied some species of animal, instead of human children, we would call him a naturalist. He observed children in their natural, free, might I even say wild condition, where they were not being controlled by a teacher in a classroom or an experimenter in a laboratory. This is something that far too few developmental psychologists or educational researchers have done. He became close to and observed the children of his relatives and friends when they were playing and exploring, and he observed children in schools during breaks in their formal lessons. Through such observations, he came to certain profound conclusions about children's learning. Here is a summary of them, which I extracted from the pages of How Children Learn.

• Children don’t choose to learn in order to do things in the future. They choose to do right now what others in their world do, and through doing they learn.

Schools try to teach children skills and knowledge that may benefit them at some unknown time in the future. But children are interested in now, not the future. They want to do real things now. By doing what they want to do they also prepare themselves wonderfully for the future, but that is a side effect. This, I think, is the main insight of the book; most of the other ideas are more or less corollaries.

Children are brilliant learners because they don’t think of themselves as learning; they think of themselves as doing. They want to engage in whole, meaningful activities, like the activities they see around them, and they aren’t afraid to try. They want to walk, like other people do, but at first they aren’t good at it. So they keep trying, day after day, and their walking keeps getting better. They want to talk, like other people do, but at first they don’t know about the relationships of sounds to meanings. Their sentences come across to us as babbled nonsense, but in the child’s mind he or she is talking (as Holt suggests, on p 75). Improvement comes because the child attends to others’ talking, gradually picks up some of the repeated sounds and their meanings, and works them into his or her own utterances in increasingly appropriate ways.

As children grow older they continue to attend to others' activities around them and, in unpredictable ways at unpredictable times, choose those that they want to do and start doing them. Children start reading, because they see that others read, and if they are read to they discover that reading is a route to the enjoyment of stories. Children don’t become readers by first learning to read; they start right off by reading. They may read signs, which they recognize. They may recite, verbatim, the words in a memorized little book, as they turn the pages; or they may turn the pages of an unfamiliar book and say whatever comes to mind. We may not call that reading, but to the child it is reading. Over time, the child begins to recognize certain words, even in new contexts, and begins to infer the relationships between letters and sounds. In this way, the child’s reading improves.

Walking, talking, and reading are skills that pretty much everyone picks up in our culture because they are so prevalent. Other skills are picked up more selectively, by those who somehow become fascinated by them. Holt gives an example of a six-year-old girl who became interested in typing, with an electric typewriter (this was the 1960s). She would type fast, like the adults in her family, but without attention to the fact that the letters on the page were random. She would produce whole documents this way. Over time she began to realize that her documents differed from those of adults in that they were not readable, and then she began to pay attention to which keys she would strike and to the effect this had on the sheet of paper. She began to type very carefully rather than fast. Before long she was typing out readable statements.

You and I might say that the child is learning to walk, talk, read, or type; but from the child’s view that would be wrong. The child is walking with the very first step, talking with the first cooed or babbled utterance, reading with the first recognition of “stop” on a sign, and typing with the first striking of keys. The child isn’t learning to do these; he or she is doing them, right from the beginning, and in the process is getting better at them.

My colleague Kerry McDonald made this point very well recently in an essay about her young unschooled daughter who loves to bake (here). In Kerry’s words, “When people ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, she responds breezily, ‘A baker, but I already am one.”

• Children go from whole to parts in their learning, not from parts to whole.

This clearly is a corollary of the point that children learn because they are motivated to do the things they see others do. They are, of course, motivated to do whole things, not pieces abstracted out of the whole. They are motivated to speak meaningful sentences, not phonemes. Nobody speaks phonemes. They are motivated to read interesting stories, not memorize grapheme-phoneme relationships or be drilled on sight words. As Holt points out repeatedly, one of our biggest mistakes in schools is to break tasks down into components and try to get children to practice the components isolated from the whole. In doing so we turn what would be meaningful and exciting into something meaningless and boring. Children pick up the components (e.g. grapheme-phoneme relationships) naturally, incidentally, as they go along in their exciting work of doing things that are real, meaningful, and whole.

• Children learn by making mistakes and then noticing and correcting their own mistakes.

Children are motivated not just to do what they see others do, but to do those things well. They are not afraid to do what they cannot yet do well, but they are not blind to the mismatches between their own performance and that of the experts they see around them. So, they start right off doing, but then, as they repeat what they did, they work at improving. In Holt’s words (p 34), “Very young children seem to have what could be called an instinct of Workmanship. We tend not to see it, because they are unskillful and their materials are crude. But watch the loving care with which a little child smooths off a sand cake or pats and shapes a mud pie.” And later (p 198), “When they are not bribed or bullied, they want to do whatever they are doing better than they did it before.”

We adult have a strong tendency to correct children, to point out their mistakes, in the belief that we are helping them learn. But when we do this, according to Holt, we are in effect belittling the child, telling the child that he or she isn't doing it right and we can do it better. We are causing the child to feel judged, and therefore anxious, thereby taking away some of his or her fearlessness about trying this or any other new activity. We may be causing the child to turn away from the very activity that we wanted to support. When a child first starts an activity, the child can’t worry about mistakes, because to do so would make it impossible to start. Only the child knows when he or she is ready to attend to mistakes and make corrections.

Holt points out that we don’t need to correct children, because they are very good at correcting themselves. They are continually trying to improve what they do, on their own schedules, in their own ways. As illustration, Holt described his observation of a little girl misreading certain words as she read a story aloud, but then she corrected her own mistakes in subsequent re-readings, as she figured out what made sense and what didn’t. In Holt’s words (p 140), “Left alone, not hurried, not made anxious, she was able to find and correct most of the mistakes herself.”

• Children may learn better by watching older children than by watching adults.

Holt points out that young children are well aware of the ways that they are not as competent as the adults around them, and this can be a source of shame and anxiety, even if the adults don't rub it in. He writes (p 123), “Parents who do everything well may not always be good examples for their children; sometimes such children feel, since they can never hope to be as good as their parents, there is no use in even trying.” This, he says, is why children may learn better by watching somewhat older children than by watching adults. As one example, he describes (p 182) how young boys naturally and efficiently improved their softball skills by observing somewhat older and more experienced boys, who were better than they but not so much better as to be out of reach. This observation fits very well with findings from my research on the value of age-mixed play (see here and here).

• Fantasy provides children the means to do and learn from activities that they can’t yet do in reality.

A number of psychologists, I included, have written about the cognitive value of fantasy, how it underlies the highest form of human thinking, hypothetical reasoning (e.g. here). But Holt brings us another insight about fantasy; it provides a means of “doing” what the child cannot do in reality. In his discussion of fantasy, Holt criticizes the view, held by Maria Montessori and some of her followers, that fantasy should be discouraged in children because it is escape from reality. Holt, in contrast, writes (p 228), “Children use fantasy not to get out of, but to get into, the real world.”

A little child can’t really drive a truck, but in fantasy he can be a truck driver. Through such fantasy he can learn a lot about trucks and even something about driving one as he makes his toy truck imitate what real trucks do. Holt points out that children playing fantasy … [more]
childhood  learning  parenting  play  sfsh  johnholt  petergray  unschooling  deschooling  education  howwelearn  control  children  motivation  intrinsicmotivation  schools  schooling  future  homeschool  present  presence  lcproject  openstudioproject  reading  skills  keerymcdonald  doing  tcsnmy  workmanship  correction  mistakes  howchildrenlearn  hurry  rush  schooliness  fantasy  mariamontessori  imagination  piaget  jeanpiaget 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Edwidge Danticat - Wikipedia
"When asked in an interview about her traditions as a child, she included storytelling, church, and constantly studying school material as all part of growing up."
edwidgedanticat  childhood  storytelling  church  school 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Letting Go Of School In Order To Think About Education
"On all of my social media profiles I self-identify as “Educator” among other titles and descriptors. I chose “educator” because it’s an umbrella term which encompasses both doing and being. To educate others may include teaching, coaching, facilitating, or guiding; providing space, opportunities, materials, structure, collaborators, audience, relevance, push-back and acceptance. As an educator I create possibilities to be speaker and listener, instructor and learner, producer and consumer, writer and reader, expert and novice, role model and seeker, professional and amateur.

When I teach at school, this is not necessarily the list going through my head. It is unlikely that my thinking is focused on the possibilities I am creating or opportunities I am affording myself or my students. No, I am thinking about brass tacks: doing the thing, getting it done in time, getting the class to do it my way (mostly). That is my teaching reality. In my planning I may find the chance to wax philosophical about what I want the real lesson to be (i.e., how to work equitably with people who are not your favorites vs. how to play 4 v 4 soccer). Or after the fact, when my colleague and I talk over what worked and didn’t work in an activity that we both tried, then I may discover an insight or two about what I am creating or perhaps sabotaging in the process. Reflection belongs to teaching. Doing and acting belong to teaching. Screwing up belongs to teaching.

Yet teaching as a set or series of actions does not add up to educating. Teaching is a piece of education, not the whole.

Often when conversations about education get hot, I find that we are actually talking about schools, teachers, policies, students, and families. What schools should do. What students should do. What families should do. What policies should do. We are talking about integral pieces of education but not about education as whole: what it is, what it can enable, how it serves us as a society. Of course this is a much more challenging task. How can we talk about what education is and what it should be when our schools are crumbling, our kids are not always safe (both inside and outside our classrooms), and the disparities between rich and poor are growing by the minute?

I don’t have the answer.

What I have come to understand, however, is that we will not achieve better education systems or outcomes without stepping back from the constraints of “school thinking.” I need to let go of what I know and think about school - its structures, history, and influence - in order to be able to think more openly about education and its possibilities. And in order to do that it feels necessary to break some rules, to upset some conventions, to seize authority rather than wait for it to be granted.

Free thinking is a political act. Even as I write this, my personal doomsday chorus is getting louder: “you can’t write that! Where’s your evidence? Where’s the data?” That’s the trenchant influence of the existing power structure. I have learned its lessons well. “There is no argument without a quote to back it up.” Authority, expertise, wisdom is always outside me. To ensure the validity of my own thoughts, I have been taught, I must ground my arguments in the theory and work of other scholars.

I’m going to place that rule aside for now and proceed with my free thinking on education. And my first instance is a selfish one: my own children. What is the education that they will need to serve them well in their lives?

• practice being kind.

• aim to be independent while recognizing that interdependence is also the way of the world and critical to our (I mean, everybody’s) survival.

• Learn to ask for and receive help. Practice offering help.

• There are lots of ways to learn things: by reading, observing, trying, asking, teaching, following, researching. Try out lots of different combinations and know that some methods will work better than others for different occasions and aims. Keep talking to people and asking questions. Practice. Get feedback. Practice more. Get more feedback.

• Get to know the culture and climate in which you live. Who seems to be at the top? Who’s on the bottom? Where do you seem to fit in? Where can you help someone? How do these systems work? Learn to ask: ‘What system is this?’

These are lessons I want my children to not only have but to internalize, practice, own in their very particular and individual ways. If I can also help my students travel on and take up these pathways, all the better.

But where do I go with these ideas then?

* * *

The Answer To How Is Yes. (This is a book title you should look up) [https://www.worldcat.org/title/answer-to-how-is-yes-acting-on-what-matters/oclc/830344811&referer=brief_results ]

I start with people. What do people need? People need other people; positive, supportive and caring connections to others. People need purpose - reasons for doing the things they do. We investigate things we want to know more about. We go in search of the things we need. We enlist the help of others to accomplish what we cannot manage on our own. People tend to do well with challenge as long as it does not overwhelm them. Productive challenge cannot be the things which threaten our existence. People require a degree of safety and security in which they can pursue challenge and purpose. Safety and security are what communities build into their webs of relationships through trust and reciprocity.

When I embark on this kind of wide ranging, human needs-centered thinking, I quickly run into mental roadblocks: not so little voices which say, “Be careful! Writing these words, in this way, is risky. It is counter-cultural. It is against the rules of expository writing. This is no way to win a debate.”

As a teacher and educator, I am aghast at the idea that I would dare to go against the rules in a semi-professional setting. From childhood to now, I have been a firm upholder of rules of almost every kind: institutional rules, overt & covert socio-cultural rules, sports rules, you name it. And yet, in this case, I see a need to step outside certain rules, if only briefly, to consider something differently; to see what happens when the ropes are untied and the tension released. Rather than hosting a debate, I invite you to join me on an exploration.

What if, instead of trying to produce good or even excellent students, we aimed more for empowering excellent people, outstanding citizens, valuable community members? What if we created learning centers where people of various ages could gather to pursue purpose, challenge and connection with each other in meaningful ways? What if learning remained part and parcel of living, every day, and we acknowledged and recognized that publicly and privately?

We are so desperate to find secrets, shortcuts and foolproof solutions which will suddenly change everything. Yet, if we have learned nothing else from our extensive schooling titled ‘education’, we certainly know that this is not the way the world works. There will be no miracles and we need to accept that.

When students and teachers and support staff and administrators leave the school building, the question I have is: where do they go? What do they leave school to go work on? What dilemmas are they trying to solve? What new learning will they engage in, in order to meet a particular goal?

No doubt some of those tasks and questions will be directly related to survival: How do I ensure that we have enough income to keep this roof over our heads? How can I help my mom not worry so much about me and my sister when we have to wait alone for her to come home from work? What do I need to do to save this relationship? How do I even know if this relationship is worth saving? These are not genius hour questions. But they are the kinds of questions which occupy and preoccupy our minds and instigate a kind of built-in learning which inevitably shapes the lives we are able to lead and create for ourselves.

These are not school questions but they are the ones we will chew on and make meaning with throughout our lives. These are the questions which become our education once we take our rigid notions of school out of the picture. If we want to think differently, even innovatively about education, we need to re-center human needs rather what the “economy” claims it requires. We need to stop feeding the capitalist monster we have so happily created through our highly trained and supremely wasteful consumer behaviors. We need to uncouple “education” from the neoliberal agenda of deepening social inequality. We need to reclaim education as a human-centered public good that belongs to all of us.

If that sounds ‘pie in the sky’ idealistic to you and me, that’s precisely the problem. To change what we have, there seem to be a lot of things we need to let go of. Idealism is not one of them, however."
sherrispelic  education  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  schools  learning  children  sfsh  doing  being  freedom  thinking  criticalthinking  evidence  pedagogy  authority  expertise  wisdom  interdependence  independence  help  self-advocacy  culture  society  needs  care  caring  childhood  empowerment  life  living  survival  humans  human  idealism  innovation  economics  capitalism  systemsthinking  neoliberalism  inequality  publicgood  engagement  canon  cv  openstudioproject  lcproject 
december 2017 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
Competition Is Ruining Childhood. The Kids Should Fight Back. - The New York Times
"Like the crack of a starting pistol, November begins the official college application season. But for students, this race started long ago.

Many of today’s kids have lived their entire lives, from sunup until midnight, in a fierce tournament with their peers. (I was one of them. A decade after graduation, I still can’t think of a period when I’ve worked harder than in high school.) From kindergarten to 12th grade, schools brag about how “competitive” they are. That means it’s not enough for students to do their best. Whether in the classroom, on the athletic field or at home on the computer, they must always be better. Youth has become a debilitating endurance test.

The thing is, we don’t even really know what we are racing for, much less how to tone down the competition. And most people don’t seem to be benefiting from this frantic contest, either as students or as adult workers. Americans are improving themselves, but the rewards keep flowing uphill to the 1 percent.

Everyone tells students that the harder they work to develop their job skills — their “human capital” — the better off they will be. It’s not true. In fact, the result is the opposite: more and better educated workers, earning less.

An analysis in September of Census Bureau data by the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank, found that between 2000 and 2016 — years when many millennials first entered the job market — there was “little to no gain” in median annual earnings. This isn’t some limited fallout from the 2008 financial crisis; it’s a different type of phenomenon and part of a longer trend of wage stagnation that reaches back to the 1970s.

Educational achievement, on the other hand, follows a different trend. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over the same period (2000 to 2016), the percentage of young people with a high school diploma or its equivalent passed 90 percent for the first time. In the same period, the portion of graduates seeking and obtaining both two- and four-year degrees increased consistently, and the percentage of people ages 25 to 29 with postgraduate degrees jumped to 9 percent from 5.

And this cohort of young Americans hasn’t only put in the classroom work — to say nothing of extracurricular activities and internships. This cohort of young Americans has also taken on incomprehensible amounts of debt in order to do it.

Despite what we’ve heard, money isn’t a reward America hands out for hard work. Not only is more education not leading to higher wages, there isn’t even a positive correlation between the two. If anything, the flood of human capital puts employers in a position to offer workers a shrinking slice of the pie and get more in return. Kids are getting conned. I got conned, too.

If enough students manage to master cutting-edge job skills, it will be great for the “economy,” but as workers they will find themselves rewarded with lower wages. The dynamic may seem counterintuitive but not totally unexpected. In the ’70s, the economist Gary Becker theorized that employers would shift the costs of developing human capital onto workers, from paid on-the-job training to unpaid schooling. He figured that, though they need skilled labor, corporations would be disinclined to pay for training since other companies could then lure away “their” human capital.

As training left the factory and the office for the classroom, it also meant that work could be shifted to children, who are mostly not eligible for wage labor but can, it turns out, do a whole lot of school. If firms want workers who can speak Mandarin or code Python, why should they pay trainees to learn when they can scare kids into training themselves? Within this system, all an individual kid can do is try to put a sufficient number of their peers between themselves and poverty.

There are some winners, but the real champions are the corporate owners: They get their pick from all the qualified applicants, and the oversupply of human capital keeps labor costs down. Competition between workers means lower wages for them and higher profits for their bosses: The more teenagers who learn to code, the cheaper one is.

The struggle for success has heavy financial and psychological costs for the participants. Constant competition has affected how young Americans see themselves in relation to the world. That’s why the United States has measured huge increases in youth anxiety and depression, as well as a sharp decline in social trust. If kids are told to find comfort in the idea that they are sacrificing their mental health now for security in adulthood, they are being tricked once more.

At the end of their journey into adulthood they aren’t reimbursed for their efforts. And in this winner-take-all economy, most of them just lose. They can’t increase the size of Harvard’s freshman class just by working harder; all they can do is drive one another to anxiety, depression, paranoia and exhaustion. That, and save money for their future bosses.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The kids don’t have to keep getting conned.

This system may work for a small number of bosses and shareholders, but it’s not in the interest of education in a broad, exploratory sense — and it’s clearly not in the interests of young people themselves. But even though older adults are ostensibly worried about the kids, policymakers will never scale back academic competition, and most educators and parents are understandably loath to tell children, “Don’t work so hard.”

If change is going to come, it should come from students, in the classroom.

As individuals, students have no choice but to compete. But together, there’s no telling what kind of power they could exercise. They face an age-old collective action problem, but they are smart. Schools can’t run without students, and the economy can’t run without schools; their work matters, and they can withdraw it.

Unions aren’t just good for wage workers. Students can use collective bargaining, too. The idea of organizing student labor when even auto factory workers are having trouble holding onto their unions may sound outlandish, but young people have been at the forefront of conflicts over police brutality, immigrant rights and sexual violence. In terms of politics, they are as tightly clustered as just about any demographic in America. They are an important social force in this country, one we need right now.

It’s in students’ shared interest to seek later start times for the school day to combat the epidemic of insufficient sleep among high schoolers. It’s in their shared interest to improve their mental health by reducing competition. They could start by demanding an end to class rank or a cap on the number of Advanced Placement courses each student can take per year. It’s in their shared interest to make life easier and lower the stakes of childhood in general. Only young people, united, can improve their working conditions and end the academic arms race."
mlcolmharris  2017  children  competition  schools  schooling  homework  education  unions  organization  childhood  admissions  humancapital  achievement  economics  garybecker  sfsh  work  labor  wagelabor  corporatism  depression  paranoia  exhaustion  exploration  violence  us  policy  capitalism 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Frontiers | Less-structured time in children's daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning | Psychology
"Executive functions (EFs) in childhood predict important life outcomes. Thus, there is great interest in attempts to improve EFs early in life. Many interventions are led by trained adults, including structured training activities in the lab, and less-structured activities implemented in schools. Such programs have yielded gains in children's externally-driven executive functioning, where they are instructed on what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. However, it is less clear how children's experiences relate to their development of self-directed executive functioning, where they must determine on their own what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. We hypothesized that time spent in less-structured activities would give children opportunities to practice self-directed executive functioning, and lead to benefits. To investigate this possibility, we collected information from parents about their 6–7 year-old children's daily, annual, and typical schedules. We categorized children's activities as “structured” or “less-structured” based on categorization schemes from prior studies on child leisure time use. We assessed children's self-directed executive functioning using a well-established verbal fluency task, in which children generate members of a category and can decide on their own when to switch from one subcategory to another. The more time that children spent in less-structured activities, the better their self-directed executive functioning. The opposite was true of structured activities, which predicted poorer self-directed executive functioning. These relationships were robust (holding across increasingly strict classifications of structured and less-structured time) and specific (time use did not predict externally-driven executive functioning). We discuss implications, caveats, and ways in which potential interpretations can be distinguished in future work, to advance an understanding of this fundamental aspect of growing up."

[via: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/924720295465721856 ]
2014  deschooling  unschooling  psychology  executivefunctioning  self-directed  self-directedlearning  learning  education  sfsh  childhood  freedom  children  experience  structure  janebarker  andreisemenov  lauramichaelson  lindsayprovan  hannahsnyder  yukomunakata 
october 2017 by robertogreco
[Readings] | The Working Classroom, by Malcolm Harris | Harper's Magazine
"The main thing is that twenty-first-century American kids are required to work more than their predecessors. This generation is raised on problem-solving to the exclusion of play. Authorities from the Brookings Institution to Time magazine have called for an end to summer vacation and the imposition of year-round compulsory schooling. But the possible downsides of this trade-off are almost never discussed.

Parents, teachers, policymakers, and employers are all so worried that children won’t “meet the demands of a changing world” that they don’t bother asking what kids are expected to do to meet those demands, and what problems they’re being equipped to solve. The anxious frenzy that surrounds the future has come to function as an excuse for the choices adults make for kids."



"This sort of intensive training isn’t just for the children of intellectuals; the theory behind the rhetoric advocating universal college attendance is that any and all kids should aspire to this level of work. College admissions have become the focus not only of secondary schooling but of contemporary American childhood writ large. The sad truth, however, is that college admissions are designed to funnel young adults onto different tracks, not to validate hard work. A jump in the number of Harvard-caliber students doesn’t have a corresponding effect on the size of the school’s freshman class. Instead, it allows the university to become even more selective and to raise prices, to stock up on geniuses and rich kids. This is the central problem with an education system designed to create the most human capital possible: an increase in ability within a competitive system doesn’t advantage all individuals.

In a world where every choice is an investment, growing up becomes a complex exercise in risk management. The more capital new employees already have when they enter the labor market, the less risky it is for their employers. Over time, firms have an incentive, as the economist Gary Becker put it, to “shift training costs to trainees.” If an employer pays to train workers, what’s to stop another company from luring them away once they’re skilled? The second firm could offer a signing bonus that costs less than the training and still benefit. Paying to train a worker is risky, and risk costs money. As American capitalism advanced, the training burden fell to the state, and then to families and kids themselves.

Childhood risk is less and less about death, illness, or grievous bodily harm and more and more about future prospects. But if it is every parent’s task to raise at least one successful American by America’s own standards, then the system is rigged so that most of them will fail. The ranks of the American elite are not infinitely expandable; in fact, they’re shrinking. Given that reality, parents are told that their children’s choices, actions, and accomplishments have lasting consequences. The Harley Avenue letter is merely one of the more dramatic examples of this fearmongering. With parental love as a guide, risk management has become risk elimination.

By looking at children as investments, it’s possible to see where the product of children’s labor is stored: in their human capital. It’s a kid’s job to stay eligible for the labor market (and not in jail, insane, or dead). Any work beyond that adds to their résumé. If more human capital automatically led to a higher standard of living, this model could be the foundation for an American meritocracy. But millennials’ extra work hasn’t earned them the promised higher standard of living. By every metric, this generation is the most educated in American history, yet its members are worse off economically than their parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. Every authority from moms to presidents told millennials to accumulate as much human capital as they could; they did, but the market hasn’t held up its end of the bargain. What gives?

As it turns out, just because you can produce an unprecedented amount of value doesn’t necessarily mean you can feed yourself under twenty-first-century American capitalism. Kids spend their childhoods investing the only thing they have: their effort, their attention, their days and nights, their labor time. (And, sometimes, a large chunk of whatever money their parents may have.) If the purpose of all this labor, all the lost play, all the hours doing unpleasant tasks, isn’t to ensure a good life for the kids doing the work, if it isn’t in the “interests of all children,” then what is it for?

When you ask most adults what any kid in particular should do with the next part of her life, the advice will generally include pursuing higher education. As the only sanctioned path, college admissions becomes a well-structured, high-stakes simulation of a worker’s entry into the labor market. Applicants inventory their achievements, being careful not to underestimate them, and present them in the most attractive package possible.

Then, using the data carefully and anxiously prepared by millions of kids about the human capital they’ve accumulated over the previous eighteen years, higher education institutions make decisions: collectively evaluating, accepting, and cutting hopeful children in tranches like collateralized debt obligations that are then sorted among the institutions according to their own rankings (for which they compete aggressively, of course). It is not the first time children are weighed, but it is the most comprehensive and often the most directly consequential. College admissions offices are rating agencies. Once the kid-bond is rated, it has four or so years until it’s expected to produce a return."
malcolmharris  education  colleges  universities  admissions  2017  children  childhood  meritocracy  capitalism  neoliberalism  economics  labor  work  competition  inequality  highered  highereducation  sfsh  homework  purpose  training  unschooling  deschooling  risk  value  fear  fearmongering  parenting  riskmanagement 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Why there’s no such thing as a gifted child | Education | The Guardian
"Even Einstein was unexceptional in his youth. Now a new book questions our fixation with IQ and says adults can help almost any child become gifted"



"When Maryam Mirzakhani died at the tragically early age of 40 this month, the news stories talked of her as a genius. The only woman to win the Fields Medal – the mathematical equivalent of a Nobel prize – and a Stanford professor since the age of 31, this Iranian-born academic had been on a roll since she started winning gold medals at maths Olympiads in her teens.

It would be easy to assume that someone as special as Mirzakhani must have been one of those gifted children who excel from babyhood. The ones reading Harry Potter at five or admitted to Mensa not much later. The child that takes maths GCSE while still in single figures, or a rarity such as Ruth Lawrence, who was admitted to Oxford while her contemporaries were still in primary school.

But look closer and a different story emerges. Mirzakhani was born in Tehran, one of three siblings in a middle-class family whose father was an engineer. The only part of her childhood that was out of the ordinary was the Iran-Iraq war, which made life hard for the family in her early years. Thankfully it ended around the time she went to secondary school.

Mirzakhani, did go to a highly selective girls’ school but maths wasn’t her interest – reading was. She loved novels and would read anything she could lay her hands on; together with her best friend she would prowl the book stores on the way home from school for works to buy and consume.

As for maths, she did rather poorly at it for the first couple of years in her middle school, but became interested when her elder brother told her about what he’d learned. He shared a famous maths problem from a magazine that fascinated her – and she was hooked. The rest is mathematical history.

Is her background unusual? Apparently not. Most Nobel laureates were unexceptional in childhood. Einstein was slow to talk and was dubbed the dopey one by the family maid. He failed the general part of the entry test to Zurich Polytechnic – though they let him in because of high physics and maths scores. He struggled at work initially, failing to get academic post and being passed over for promotion at the Swiss Patent Office because he wasn’t good enough at machine technology. But he kept plugging away and eventually rewrote the laws of Newtonian mechanics with his theory of relativity.

Lewis Terman, a pioneering American educational psychologist, set up a study in 1921 following 1,470 Californians, who excelled in the newly available IQ tests, throughout their lives. None ended up as the great thinkers of their age that Terman expected they would. But he did miss two future Nobel prize winners – Luis Alvarez and William Shockley, both physicists – whom he dismissed from the study as their test scores were not high enough.

There is a canon of research on high performance, built over the last century, that suggests it goes way beyond tested intelligence. On top of that, research is clear that brains are malleable, new neural pathways can be forged, and IQ isn’t fixed. Just because you can read Harry Potter at five doesn’t mean you will still be ahead of your contemporaries in your teens.

According to my colleague, Prof Deborah Eyre, with whom I’ve collaborated on the book Great Minds and How to Grow Them, the latest neuroscience and psychological research suggests most people, unless they are cognitively impaired, can reach standards of performance associated in school with the gifted and talented. However, they must be taught the right attitudes and approaches to their learning and develop the attributes of high performers – curiosity, persistence and hard work, for example – an approach Eyre calls “high performance learning”. Critically, they need the right support in developing those approaches at home as well as at school.

So, is there even such a thing as a gifted child? It is a highly contested area. Prof Anders Ericsson, an eminent education psychologist at Florida State University, is the co-author of Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. After research going back to 1980 into diverse achievements, from music to memory to sport, he doesn’t think unique and innate talents are at the heart of performance. Deliberate practice, that stretches you every step of the way, and around 10,000 hours of it, is what produces the expert. It’s not a magic number – the highest performers move on to doing a whole lot more, of course, and, like Mirzakhani, often find their own unique perspective along the way.

Ericsson’s memory research is particularly interesting because random students, trained in memory techniques for the study, went on to outperform others thought to have innately superior memories – those you might call gifted.

He got into the idea of researching the effects of deliberate practice because of an incident at school, in which he was beaten at chess by someone who used to lose to him. His opponent had clearly practised.

But it is perhaps the work of Benjamin Bloom, another distinguished American educationist working in the 1980s, that gives the most pause for thought and underscores the idea that family is intrinsically important to the concept of high performance.

Bloom’s team looked at a group of extraordinarily high achieving people in disciplines as varied as ballet, swimming, piano, tennis, maths, sculpture and neurology, and interviewed not only the individuals but their parents, too.

He found a pattern of parents encouraging and supporting their children, in particular in areas they enjoyed themselves. Bloom’s outstanding adults had worked very hard and consistently at something they had become hooked on young, and their parents all emerged as having strong work ethics themselves.

While the jury is out on giftedness being innate and other factors potentially making the difference, what is certain is that the behaviours associated with high levels of performance are replicable and most can be taught – even traits such as curiosity.

Eyre says we know how high performers learn. From that she has developed a high performing learning approach that brings together in one package what she calls the advanced cognitive characteristics, and the values, attitudes and attributes of high performance. She is working on the package with a group of pioneer schools, both in Britain and abroad.

But the system needs to be adopted by families, too, to ensure widespread success across classes and cultures. Research in Britain shows the difference parents make if they take part in simple activities pre-school in the home, supporting reading for example. That support shows through years later in better A-level results, according to the Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary study, conducted over 15 years by a team from Oxford and London universities.

Eye-opening spin-off research, which looked in detail at 24 of the 3,000 individuals being studied who were succeeding against the odds, found something remarkable about what was going in at home. Half were on free school meals because of poverty, more than half were living with a single parent, and four in five were living in deprived areas.

The interviews uncovered strong evidence of an adult or adults in the child’s life who valued and supported education, either in the immediate or extended family or in the child’s wider community. Children talked about the need to work hard at school and to listen in class and keep trying. They referenced key adults who had encouraged those attitudes.

Einstein, the epitome of a genius, clearly had curiosity, character and determination. He struggled against rejection in early life but was undeterred. Did he think he was a genius or even gifted? No. He once wrote: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.”

And what about Mirzakhani? Her published quotations show someone who was curious and excited by what she did and resilient. One comment sums it up. “Of course, the most rewarding part is the ‘Aha’ moment, the excitement of discovery and enjoyment of understanding something new – the feeling of being on top of a hill and having a clear view. But most of the time, doing mathematics for me is like being on a long hike with no trail and no end in sight.”

The trail took her to the heights of original research into mathematics in a cruelly short life. That sounds like unassailable character. Perhaps that was her gift."
sfsh  parenting  gifted  precocity  children  prodigies  2017  curiosity  rejection  resilience  maryammirzakhani  childhood  math  mathematics  reading  slowlearning  lewisterman  iq  iqtests  tests  testing  luisalvarez  williamshockley  learning  howwelearn  deboraheyre  wendyberliner  neuroscience  psychology  attitude  persistence  hardwork  workethic  andersericsson  performance  practice  benjaminbloom  education  ballet  swimming  piano  tennis  sculpture  neurology  encouragement  support  giftedness  behavior  mindset  genius  character  determination  alberteinstein 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Nadine Burke Harris, M.D.,MPH, FAAP
"A pioneer in the field of medicine, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris has earned international attention for her innovative approach to addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, as a risk factor for adult disease such as heart disease and cancer. Her work has demonstrated that it’s time to reassess the relationship between early childhood adversity, child development and health, and how the practical applications of the Adverse Childhood Experiences study can improve health outcomes.

A pediatrician, mom and the founder/CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness, Burke Harris has brought these scientific discoveries and her new approach to audiences at the Mayo Clinic, American Academy of Pediatrics and Google Zeitgeist.

Burke Harris’ TED Talk, “How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime,” has been viewed more than one and half million times. Her work has been profiled in the New Yorker, in Paul Tough’s best-selling book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, and in Jamie Redford’s soon to be released feature film, “Resilience.”

Dr. Burke Harris serves as an expert advisor on the Too Small to Fail initiative championed by the Clinton Foundation in association with Next Generation to improve the lives of children ages birth to five. She also serves as an advisor on Governor Brown’s Let’s Get Healthy California Task Force and as a committee member for the Medical Home for Children Exposed to Violence Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Burke Harris’ work has also earned her the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award presented by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Burke Harris and the Center for Youth Wellness are partnering with the University of California Benioff Children’s Hospital (San Francisco & Oakland) in the first ever research collaborative on toxic stress to validate an ACEs screening tool, evaluate promising interventions and identify predictive biomarkers.

With partners and allies, Dr. Burke Harris and the Center for Youth Wellness are also spearheading a national public education campaign to get the message out on early adversity to parents and pediatricians across the country, just as previous campaigns did for seat belts and secondhand smoke. "

[See also:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadine_Burke_Harris
http://www.centerforyouthwellness.org/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95ovIJ3dsNk ]
nadineburkeharris  adversechildhoodexperiences  health  childhood  children  trauma  adversity  pediatrics 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Overview - Paper Tigers
"More than two decades ago, two respected researchers, clinical physician Dr. Vincent Felitti and CDC epidemiologist Robert Anda, published the game-changing Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. It revealed a troubling but irrefutable phenomenon: the more traumatic experiences the respondents had as children (such as physical and emotional abuse and neglect), the more likely they were to develop health problems later in life—problems such as cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. To complicate matters, there was also a troubling correlation between adverse childhood experiences and prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse, unprotected sex, and poor diet. Combined, the results of the study painted a staggering portrait of the price our children are paying for growing up in unsafe environments, all the while adding fuel to the fire of some of society’s greatest challenges.

However, this very same study contains the seed of hope: all of the above-mentioned risk factors—behavioral as well as physiological—can be offset by the presence of one dependable and caring adult. It doesn’t need to be the mother or the father. It doesn’t even need to be a close or distant relative.

More often than not, that stable, caring adult is a teacher.

It is here, at the crossroads of at-risk teens and trauma-informed care, that Paper Tigers takes root. Set within and around the campus of Lincoln Alternative High School in the rural community of Walla Walla, Washington, Paper Tigers asks the following questions: What does it mean to be a trauma-informed school? And how do you educate teens whose childhood experiences have left them with a brain and body ill-suited to learn?

In search of clear and honest answers, Paper Tigers hinges on a remarkable collaboration between subject and filmmaker. Armed with their own cameras and their own voices, the teens of Paper Tigers offer raw but valuable insight into the hearts and minds of teens pushing back against the specter of a hard childhood.

Against the harsh reality of truancy, poor grades, emotional pain, and physical violence, answers begin to emerge. The answers do not come easily. Nor can one simply deduce a one-size-fits-all solution to a trauma-informed education. But there is no denying something both subtle and powerful at work between teacher and student alike: the quiet persistence of love.

Resilience logo"
film  documentary  towatch  robertanda  vincentfelitti  adversechildhoodexperiences  children  childhood  sfsh  health  parenting  wallawalla  washingtonstate  trauma  teens  youth  love  education  schools  abuse  neglect  jamesredford 
may 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
SAND – Social and Material Conditions of Education
"SAND (est. 2012) is a collective of researchers of the social, historical, cultural and material discourses which underlie and condition educational practices and structures. The collective members employ postfoundational, discursive, poststructuralist and/or posthumanist approaches. We are located in multiple universities and cities in Finland.

We conduct research of the material and discursive processes within which children become subjects as human children, teachers become subjects as teachers and students as students. This entails engaging with the theoretical assumptions on which current educational thought is based, and re-imagining the materially and discursively co-emerging conditions of education and childhoods.

Some of the inter/over/multidisciplinary research foci of the collective are:

• Exclusionary discourses in educational institutions
• Discourse of research based teacher education
• Children’s everyday life beyond developmental discourses
• Human–animal relations in challenging the humanist foundations of education
• Emerging praxes in empirical posthumanist research of education and childhoods"
multispecies  posthumanism  childhood  children  education  teaching  learning  pedagogy  howweteach  poststructuralism  materiality  everyday  pauliinarautio  maijalanas  annekoskela  johannasitomaniemi-san  tuijahuuki  kristiinavälimäki  riikkahohti  ayakoshimada  annavladimirova  tuuretammi  anttipaakkari  virpitimonen  noorapyyry  päivijokinen  hannaguttorm  mariantutmnyan  sfsh 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Significant Others - How Animals Matter in Children's Everyday Lives (AniMate; 2017-2019) by Pauliina Rautio - Research Project on ResearchGate
"Institutions: University of Oulu

Goal: The objective of AniMate is to understand the ways in which animals matter to children as parts of their everyday lives. With this information child–animal relations can be supported even in the midst of societal and environmental changes.

Previous studies confirm that animal contacts have undeniably positive effects in children's lives but that these contacts are decreasing. Furthermore, it is still unknown how significant child-animal relations form and are sustained in children's daily life - how these relations matter to children beyond the adult-imposed viewpoint of
'development'.

AniMate takes children's views of what matters in their everyday life seriously. Core data are in-depth multispecies ethnographies conducted in four locations with 10-12 participating children and the animal participants named by these children. Prior to this the social and cultural contexts that shape these relations are studied with further 100 participating children."

[See also: http://commonworlds.net/portfolio_page/significant-others-how-animals-matter-as-part-of-childrens-everyday-life-communities/
https://sandpost.net/2016/11/17/congratulations-funding-for-study-of-child-animal-relations/ ]
children  multispecies  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  childhood  animals  pets  everyday  ethnography  pauliinarautio  riikkahohti  tuuretammi  2017  sfsh 
march 2017 by robertogreco
DECOLONISING EARLY CHILDHOOD DISCOURSES PROJECT
​"This project seeks to bring together national and international experts from the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences, to investigate how a new theoretical framework - one that is grounded in critical posthumanism, the affective turn and socially just pedagogies can explain this injustice and inform decolonising postdevelopmental theories and practices in higher education. What will be examined in particular is how critical posthumanism could contribute towards a reconfiguration of childhood in the design and content of postcolonial curricula and research projects. It includes some internationally acclaimed experts and philosophers and early career emerging researchers, incl Karen Barad and Rosi Braidotti. More than 30 team members interact, share and disseminate ideas with each other and more broadly, through colloquia and writing workshops as well as social media and synchronous virtual meeting spaces."
posthumanism  education  earlychildhood  karenbarad  rosibraidotti  pedagogy  injustice  childhood  children  curriculum  sfsh 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Rautio, P. (2017)
[via: "Children who carry stones in their pockets: on autotelic material practices in everyday life" https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263040600_Children_who_carry_stones_in_their_pockets_on_autotelic_material_practices_in_everyday_life
via https://twitter.com/steelemaley/status/843866564982194177 ]

"Pauliina Rautio
Adjunct Professor | Dosentti
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow (PhD, Education) | Tutkijatohtori (KT)
University of Oulu (Finland) – Faculty of Education
(firstname.lastname@oulu.fi)

Research areas and interests

Multispecies Childhoods & Sociomaterial Pedagogies
(Or: Who and what take part in education in addition to humans, in which ways and why should we care?)

fields: childhood studies, human geography, everyday life aesthetics, environmental education
approaches: posthumanism, (new) materialism / sociomaterialism
interests: children’s intra-activity with their more than human companions / child-animal relations, human-environment relations in everyday life

Research collective and project affiliations

AniMate: How Animals Matter in Children’s Everyday Life
Principal Investigator
Partner Investigators: Riikka Hohti, Riitta-Marja Leinonen and Tuure Tammi
Funded by Emil Aaltonen Foundation, 2017-2019

Naming the World: Early years literacy and sustainability learning
Partner Investigator
Chief Investigators: Margaret Somerville, Anette Woods, Iris Duhn
Funded by Australian Research Council, 2016-2018

SAND – Social and Material Conditions of Education
Founding member
SAND is a collective of researchers of the social, historical, cultural and material discourses which underlie and condition educational practices and structures.

Common World Childhoods Research Collective
Associate Researcher
Principal Investigators: Affrica Taylor (University of Canberra, Australia), Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw (Victoria University, Canada), Mindy Blaise (Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia)

SIRENE: Interdisciplinary network of environmental and sustainability education research
Member of the board of research coordination

Mother | Photographer | Dogs, chickens, other birds, horses
Son I (11), Son II (9), Partner (40), Dog I (5), Dog II (5), Chickens + a varying number of other birds (see Instagram @pihalintu for updates on our injured wild bird patients!)

Yes, yes. But what has she published? [https://onnekas.wordpress.com/julkaisut-publications/ ]"

[See also:
https://twitter.com/PauliinaRautio
https://www.instagram.com/ipauliina/
https://sandpost.net/ ]
pauliinarautio  multispecies  children  animals  pets  nature  sfsh  everyday  environmentaleducation  geography  human  sociomaterialism  childhood  pedagogy  education  teaching  learning  howweteach 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Common World | Research Collective
"The Common Worlds Research Collective is an interdisciplinary network of researchers concerned with our relations with the more-than-human world. Members work across the fields of childhood studies, early childhood education, children’s and more-than-human geographies, environmental education, feminist new materialisms, and Indigenous and environmental humanities.

We approach our lives as situated and embedded in ‘common worlds’ (Latour, 2004). The notion of common worlds is an inclusive, more than human notion. It helps us to avoid the divisive distinction that is often drawn between human societies and natural environments. By re-situating our lives within indivisible common worlds, our research focuses upon the ways in which our past, present and future lives are entangled with those of other beings, non- living entities, technologies, elements, discourses, forces, landforms.

Common worlds researchers are involved in two strands of inquiry. One strand experiments with feminist common worlds methods. The other strand features inquiries into children’s common worlds relations with place, with the material world, and with other species."
children  childhood  education  indigenous  environment  geography  earlychildhood  commonworlds  brunolatour  human  nature  multispecies  feminism  place  experientialeducation  interdisciplinary  sfsh  experientiallearning 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Urban Omnibus » City as Playground
"How does the design of your childhood environment affect you? For the better part of a decade, painter Julia Jacquette has been excavating memories of her childhood playground on the Upper West Side. Her family history dovetails with a chapter in New York’s built environment that has been largely forgotten: a “playground revolution” in the 1960s and ’70s. Designers like Paul Friedberg, Richard Dattner, and Jacquette’s own father created innovative adventure playgrounds, child-size cities for imaginative play.

Adventure playgrounds appeared all over New York City, from Central Park to residential buildings and vacant lots. They were part of larger changes in the design and use of the city’s public spaces during the Mayoral administration of John V. Lindsay (1966-1973) that responded to accelerating suburbanization, changing demographics, displeasure with the functionalist environments of urban renewal — in short, a sense of impending “urban crisis.” The playgrounds were meant to make the city more inclusive, more attractive, and more malleable: a place where everyone could thrive.

What happens to a playground when it’s torn down? Many of the playgrounds are now gone, others have been renovated beyond recognition. In her graphic memoir, Playground of My Mind, Julia Jacquette revisits and reconstructs the playgrounds that marked her childhood and have stayed with her ever since. We are pleased to publish an excerpt of Playground of My Mind in the slide show above. Then, Jacquette and writer James Trainor, who is also at work on a book on the city’s playgrounds, explore their childhood memories and grown-up investigations of a critical chapter in the history of New York’s public spaces."
cities  urban  urbanism  2016  jamestrainor  juliajacquette  publicspace  playgrounds  sfsh  glvo  nyc  illustration  childhood  paulfriedberg  richarddattner  sesamestreet  rossryanjacquette  adventureplaygrounds  children  play  aldovaneyck 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Robert Coles — The Inner Lives of Children - | On Being
"DR. COLES: Which I think is what I’m trying to say here as I speak with you, as I go back to my parents and to my childhood and try to recapture some of that spirit that I knew as a boy.

MS. TIPPETT: It’s interesting to me that those words you used, “questioning spirit,” and not a conventional religious sense are also qualities that you found in children and even in children who came from homes in which the tradition was much more set.

DR. COLES: That’s a very good point you’ve just brought up. Children are by nature questioning. I mean, I know it as a pediatrician and a child psychiatrist. I know it as a parent. I think we all know that children are questioning. And I think there is no doubt that a lot of the religious side of childhood is a merger of the natural curiosity and interest the children have in the world with the natural interest and curiosity that religion has about the world, because that’s what religion is.

MS. TIPPETT: Right.

DR. COLES: It’s our effort in this planet as creatures who have a mind and use language to ask questions and answer them through speculation, through story-telling, to explore the universe and answer those fundamental questions: Where do we come from? What are we? And where, if any place, are we going? And those fundamental questions inform religious life and inform the lives of children as children, and that merger is a beautiful thing to behold when you’re with children.

MS. TIPPETT: You know what’s nice about what you just said to me too, is I suddenly realized that what you discovered in speaking with these children and listening to them is not only revealing about childhood but it’s revealing of an aspect of religion which we probably don’t pay as much attention to as we should.

DR. COLES: That’s the great tragedy, isn’t it?

MS. TIPPETT: Yeah.

DR. COLES: Because after all, if you stop and think about Judaism, the great figures in Judaism are those prophets of Israel, Jeremiah and Isaiah and Amos. They were prophetic figures who asked the deepest kinds of questions and were willing to stand outside the gates of power and privilege in order to keep asking those questions. And then came Jesus of Nazareth who was a teacher. You might call him the migrant teacher who walked about ancient Israel — now called Israel, Palestine, whatever, the Middle East — seeking and asking and wondering and reaching out to people and daring to ask questions that others had been taught not to ask or even forbidden to ask. And this kind of inquiring Jesus, this soulful Jesus, searching for comrades and, let’s call them in our vernacular, buddies. They were his buddies, and they were willing to link arms with him in this kind of spiritual quest that he found himself, shall we say, impelled toward or driven toward. I don’t want to use driven in any psychoanalytic way …

MS. TIPPETT: Right.

DR. COLES: … but just in a human way. And this was the rabbi, the teacher, the exalted figure, a descendant, really, of Jeremiah and Isaiah and Amos. It’s that prophetic tradition of Judaism which is so profound and important and which the Christian world is, at its best, the beneficiary of.

MS. TIPPETT: Right.

DR. COLES: Now, both in Judaism and Christianity, of course, there are rule setters, and at times they can be all too insistent, some would say even a bit tyrannical. But in any event, the spirit or religion, I think, is what children connect with.

MS. TIPPETT: Right.

DR. COLES: The questions, the inquiry, the enormous curiosity about this universe, and the hope that somehow those answers will come about, which is what we do when we kneel in a church and sit and pray in a synagogue or whatever.

[Sound bite of music]

MS. TIPPETT: Also what I think you’re getting at there and what is also in this compatibility between children and religion also has something to do with, I mean, there’s something mysterious in it as well, something about the mystery of those questions.

MR. COLES: Mystery is such an important part of it. And mystery invites curiosity and inquiry. You know, Flannery O’Connor — talk about a religious person, she was Catholic in background but she was beyond Catholicism; she was a deeply spiritual person. And she once was talking about the kind of person who becomes a good novelist, hoping that she would be included in that company but not daring to assume that that had happened. But once she said, beautifully — it’s in her letters if the listeners want to get one of her books. It’s called, The Habit of Being — but in one of those letters she says, “The task of the novelist is to deepen mystery.” And then she pauses and she says, “But mystery is a great embarrassment to the modern mind.” And there’s our tragedy, that we have to resolve all mystery. We can’t let it be. We can’t rejoice in it. We can’t celebrate it. We can’t affirm it as an aspect of our lives because, after all, mystery is an aspect of our lives.

We come out of nowhere, don’t we, in the sense that we’re a total accident. Our parents met. There’s the accident. And, you know, we’re born. Obviously, we come from someplace physiologically. And then comes the emergence of our being, which is the psychological and spiritual emergence of our being that takes time, experience, education of a certain kind with parents and neighbors and teachers and relatives and from one another humanly. And this slow emergence of our psychological being and our spiritual being is itself a great mystery. And mystery, you bet — mystery is a great challenge. It’s an invitation, and it’s a wonderful companion, actually."
robertcoles  kristatippett  children  religion  2009  mystery  curiosity  questioning  neoteny  questionasking  askingquestions  judaism  christianity  catholicism  flanneryo'connor  wonder  parenting  spirituality  inquiry  rules  teaching  teachers  howweteach  interestedness  interested  childhood 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Teju Cole en Instagram: “When someone dies whom we love, a relative, friend, or hero, the losses have something in common, though the intensity naturally varies. (I cannot speak to the death of a lover, which seems to be something else again—but perha
"When someone dies whom we love, a relative, friend, or hero, the losses have something in common, though the intensity naturally varies. (I cannot speak to the death of a lover, which seems to be something else again—but perhaps even there, there is this commonality.) What they have in common is this: there was this other who helped us in a particular way, and now this other is gone, and the help they gave has gone with them. To be bereaved is to be bereft. It is to be deprived. In mourning, in addition to raw grief, there is the loss of help. There used to be complicity, a task (an emotional task, for instance) that two people accomplished together. Now one, the survivor, no matter how reluctant, must do it alone. This is why one aspect of loss is a feeling of suddenly being forced to "grow up." It is not only a hollowing sadness that demarcates grief, it is the knowledge that what two used to do, whatever that was, whether or not it was even given a name, whether or not it was reciprocal (in the case of heroes it rarely is), one now must do alone. In the zone of your complicity with the one you love, this relative, friend, or hero, you are a child. Possibly you are children there together. Death compels you to put away childish things, and always too soon."

[also from Teju Cole on day of John Berger’s death: https://www.instagram.com/p/BOxl2gejlXz/ ]
tejucole  death  loss  childhood  grief  mourning  deprivation  complicity  togetherness  2017  johnberger 
january 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Four - John Berger: The Art of Looking
[video currently available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3VhbsXk9Ds ]

"Art, politics and motorcycles - on the occasion of his 90th birthday John Berger or the Art of Looking is an intimate portrait of the writer and art critic whose ground-breaking work on seeing has shaped our understanding of the concept for over five decades. The film explores how paintings become narratives and stories turn into images, and rarely does anybody demonstrate this as poignantly as Berger.

Berger lived and worked for decades in a small mountain village in the French Alps, where the nearness to nature, the world of the peasants and his motorcycle, which for him deals so much with presence, inspired his drawing and writing.

The film introduces Berger's art of looking with theatre wizard Simon McBurney, film-director Michael Dibb, visual artist John Christie, cartoonist Selçuk Demiral, photographer Jean Mohr as well as two of his children, film-critic Katya Berger and the painter Yves Berger.

The prelude and starting point is Berger's mind-boggling experience of restored vision following a successful cataract removal surgery. There, in the cusp of his clouding eyesight, Berger re-discovers the irredeemable wonder of seeing.

Realised as a portrait in works and collaborations, this creative documentary takes a different approach to biography, with John Berger leading in his favourite role of the storyteller."
2016  johnberger  documentary  towatch  simonmcburney  michaeldibb  johnchristie  selçukdemiral  jeanmohr  katyaberger  yvesberger  waysofseeing  seeing  looking  noticing  biography  storytelling  skepticism  photography  rebellion  writing  howwewrite  collaboration  canon  conspirators  rebels  friendship  community  migration  motorcycles  presence  being  living  life  interestedness  interested  painting  art  history  france  belonging  place  labor  home  identity  work  peasants  craft  craftsmanship  aesthetics  design  vision  cataracts  sight  teaching  howweteach  attention  focus  agriculture  memory  memories  shit  pigs  humans  animals  childhood  perception  freedom  independence  storytellers  travelers  nomads  trickster  dead  death  meaning  meaningmaking  companionship  listening  discovery  understanding  sfsh  srg  books  publishing  television  tv  communication  engagement  certainly  uncertainty 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Downward Slide of the Seesaw - The New York Times
"The two young brothers seesawed in Riverside Park recently, testing and tormenting each other, absorbed in a playground ritual familiar to generations of children.

What they did not know was that they were in one of the last places in New York City where they could seesaw. Once ubiquitous in the city’s hundreds of public playgrounds, as they were around the country, the seesaws adults remember have largely vanished from the city and much of the nation because of safety concerns and changing tastes.

The old wooden seesaws that pivot on a central fulcrum have survived in only one city park, park officials believe — the Classic Playground at Riverside Park at West 74th Street. And just north of there, at River Run Playground at West 83rd Street, are three metal fulcrum seesaws that were installed at the community’s request in the 1990s. They are lower and safer, rising only 32 inches off the rubber play mat at the highest point.

The history of New York City playgrounds is intertwined with the seesaw. Charity associations gave seesaw demonstrations when playgrounds were introduced at the turn of the 20th century. They were standard fixtures in the more than 600 playgrounds constructed between 1934 and 1960 under the direction of Robert Moses, along with monkey bars, sandboxes and slides, according to the city parks department.

But federal safety guidelines for playgrounds, which were created in 1981, began to limit their use. The older seesaws were wooden planks that often hit asphalt directly, leading to occasional tailbone and spinal injuries, falls and pinched fingers, not to mention splinters. Children could slam each other by dismounting suddenly. Playgrounds that retained old seesaws were exposed to lawsuits.

Current federal guidelines state that fulcrum seesaws can be installed safely if car tires are embedded under the seats and adequate space is left around them in case of a fall. But they are not recommended for toddlers or preschoolers, and they take up a lot of space. So the reaction to the guidelines in New York City, and many other places, was just to phase seesaws out.

[Photo: "An old wooden seesaw — a long board that pivots on a fulcrum — at the Classic Playground in Riverside Park. Credit Tess Mayer for The New York Times"]

In 2000, 55 percent of playgrounds around the nation had a seesaw, according to the National Program for Playground Safety, which makes estimates based on visits to about 3,000 parks. By 2004, that number was 11 percent. Seesaws were even less popular in schoolyards, declining from 13 percent in 2000 to 7 percent in 2004, the last year for which data was available.

As a result, relatively few playground injuries are now attributable to seesaws. According to data collected by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, which sets the safety standards, the top three pieces of equipment associated with emergency room visits between 2009 and 2014 were monkey bars, swings and slides. Only 2 percent of injuries were from teeter-totters.

Yet the seesaw remains paramount in the public consciousness, along with swings and slides, as a playground staple. The universal sign for a playground — the image on a road sign warning that a playground is near — is usually of two stick figures on a seesaw. And seesaws have retained fans.

Among them were parents watching their children play at River Run Playground recently. The three seesaws were in heavy use — parents balanced toddlers on the seats, older children whooshed each other skyward, and one father tried to stand in the middle of the seesaw and balance.

“We’re child-proofing childhood,” said Milanee Kapadia, when told that these seesaws were among the last in the city. One of her 4-year-old twins has special needs, and the seesaw, which requires cooperation and coordination, is just the kind of equipment her therapists recommend. So she comes regularly. “One little fall or a tooth broken and the next thing you know they are out,” she said.

Marissa Dennis watched as her boys Kale, 8, and Asher, 6, slipped off the seesaw and banged each other down as hard as they could. She was nervous, but neither boy was hurt, because the seesaw ends hit tires embedded in the soft play mat.

[Photo: "A seesaw at Blackwell playground on Roosevelt Island has a more modern design. Credit An Rong Xu for The New York Times"]

“I think we have to take the kids out a little bit from the safety bubble,” she said, placing her 2-year-old daughter, Sadie, on a seesaw too.

Traditional seesaws have other supporters, including occupational and physical therapists, who have noted with concern the increasing number of children who have problems regulating themselves emotionally and physically as childhood becomes more sedentary.

“To adults, seesaws might look like an accident waiting to happen,” said Lauren Drobnjak, a physical therapist in Cleveland and co-author of the book “Sensory Processing 101.” But “by rapidly moving the child through vertical space,” she said, seesaws provide input to a child’s vestibular — or balance regulation — system “in a way that no other playground equipment can.” And children learn strength and coordination when they hit the ground and push themselves back up.

“A seemingly simple plaything actually provides so many important sensory experiences for kids,” she said.

In some places, the seesaw has not gone out of style. A spokesman for the best-known manufacturer of a metal traditional-style seesaw, SportsPlay, based in St. Louis, said that the company still sells “a lot of seesaws.” AAA State of Play, a playground equipment supplier in Greenfield, Ind., said that seesaws remained popular with schools, parks and homeowner associations in smaller towns and cities.

“We actually sold some to a group of people who were in their early 70s,” Nancy Breedlove, one of the owners of AAA State of Play, said. “And I said, ‘Oh, is this for your grandkids?’ And she said, ‘No, we like to go out there and relive our youth and have cocktails.’”

[Photo: "Seesaws in Central Park in 1953. Credit Bettmann, via Getty Images
In New York City, the old fulcrum seesaws were replaced over time by newer styles of equipment, like multilevel structures that integrate slides and climbing walls."]

The main reason was safety. “New York City Parks has not installed seesaws for at least 30 years due to safety concerns,” said a spokesman, Sam Biederman.

But there were exceptions. One was in River Run Playground, which was able to install the metal seesaws in a 1990s renovation because the community requested it, said Nancy Prince, deputy chief for design at the city parks department.

And there have been attempts at more futuristic versions of the seesaw over the decades, such as a standing seesaw at Ciccarone Park in the Bronx that was installed in 2007 but has since broken, and a crescent-shaped modern version at Melrose Playground in the Bronx that remains in use.

Another reason seesaws remain rare is that equipment that moves is very hard to maintain in crowded city parks, Ms. Prince said.

But the seesaw’s fortunes may be on the rise.

Last month, Central Park unveiled its first take on the seesaw in decades — something called a spring rider seesaw — at a newly renovated playground on West 84th Street. At its center are two large springs, which means children cannot plunk each other to the ground. Other city playgrounds have experimented with spring rockers, which move up and down slightly.

Lane Addonizio, who plans playgrounds for the Central Park Conservancy, said she believed the return of an old-fashioned fulcrum seesaw might not be far behind.

“The more we live with the safety standards, the more you see people kind of innovating to bring back types of experiences that maybe for a while you weren’t seeing,” she said. “There’s no reason to think we won’t have traditional seesaws in the park at some point.”"
play  toys  seesaws  playgrounds  safety  fear  2016  sharonotterman  change  children  parenting  childhood  via:alexandralange 
december 2016 by robertogreco
A Work In Progress... | When we adults think of children there is a simple...
"When we adults think of children there is a simple truth which we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life, childhood is life. A child isn’t getting ready to live, a child is living. The child constantly confronted with the question, “What are you going to be?” Courageous would be the youngster who, looking the adult squarely in the face, would say, I’m not going to be anything; I already am.“ We adults would be shocked by such an insolent remark for we have forgotten, if indeed we ever knew, that a child is an active participating and contributing member of society from the time he is born. Childhood isn’t a time when he is molded into a human who will then live life; he is a human who is living life. No child will miss the zest and joy of living unless these are denied him by adults who have convinced themselves that childhood is period of preparation.

How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would save ourselves if we would recognize the child as a partner with partner with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing him as an apprentice. How much would teach each other… adults with the experience and children with the freshness. How full both our lives could be. A little child may not lead us, but at least we ought to discuss the trip with him for, after all, life is his and her journey, too."

–Professor T. Ripaldi, Notes On An Unhurried Journey [https://pippahirst.wordpress.com/notes-on-an-unhurried-journey/ ]
children  childhood  preparation  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tripaldi  slow 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Robin Hunicke's extraordinary journey • Eurogamer.net
"Hunicke's path to this moment was unorthodox and unexpected. She grew up near the mountains in Saratoga Springs, New York, close to Vermont. Her mother taught maths and weaved. Her father was a nuclear engineer. They lived on a street alongside 20 or so other families, all with children of similar ages. In the summer Hunicke and her friends would build forts in the forest, and race twig boats in the frothing river. In the winter there were board-games and NES. It was a playful, often idyllic childhood, she recalls. Each summer during high school, Hunicke would be sent to art camp, where she'd paint and build.

One year Hunicke and her father built a grandfather clock. It had been, rather befittingly, her grandfather's project originally. He built the base from African red hardwood then, upon realising the scale of the job, shipped the materials to his son and granddaughter to finish. Hunicke's father ordered the clock mechanism from Germany. The finished clock still lives at her father's house. Every time she returns home she listen to the rounded tock of the mechanism. "It fills me with joy," she says. "I love the experience of seeing something you've made come to life."

Video games were a natural fit for Hunicke's nascent interests, combining her mathematical talent ("At night, when I couldn't get to sleep, I'd count the leaves on a branch out side of my bedroom window," she recalls. "I'd multiply that by the number of branches I estimated the tree to have, and that figure by the number of trees in our yard, then our road, then our town, then our State") and her artistic sensibilities. But she has a magpie temperament. "I was interested in everything", she says. "So when I went to college I made up my major, a combination of fine art, film studies, women's studies and computer science." While at the University of Chicago Hunicke's aptitude for computers earned her a job at a police station where she would schedule the officers on a database system. "I soon discovered that was less fun than working on the computer lab at college so I got a new job managing the Mac lab there." As Hunicke learned more and more computer languages her focus narrowed. She began studying for a doctorate in artificial intelligence.

Video games had, up to this point, played only a supporting role in Hunicke's life. Her first love was M.U.L.E., the Commodore 64 game in which players compete against each other and the computer in a bid for survival, which she'd play at a friend's house when she was 12. "I loved trying to outwit each other and the game at the same time," she recalls. It was only when Hunicke started her PhD in AI, and became interested in adaptive difficulty in video games, specifically Half-Life, that she began hanging out with game-makers."



""I needed a break," she says. Perhaps, but the peak she faced in Bhutan mirrored other towering questions in her life. Was she going to stay in Los Angeles? Was she going to stay in her current relationship? Was she going to continue making games? While ascending the mountain Hunicke met other English-speaking climbers who were also taking a step back to examine their goals and challenges. "It made me realise we are all on a similar journey," she says. "That helped me with imposter syndrome." As she came over the top of the mountain, a burden lifted, she says. Then, when she arrived in Los Angeles, she received a message from an old friend, Jenova Chen: would she like to be lead designer on his new project, a game about a pilgrimage to a mountain where, en route, you meet people who fleetingly join you. "It felt right," she says.

When Hunicke joined thatgamecompany she was the sixth employee. The team was working from a "closet-sized room" and had just completed a prototype of the game, which would later be named Journey, in Flash, in which players were represented as coloured dots. "I supervised the first four player playtest," Hunicke recalls. "We brought people in through different doors so nobody knew it was a multiplayer game. Then we brought them together to discuss what they'd seen. These were just coloured dots that could only move or, if the player hit the space bar, say 'hey!', but people immediately would project emotions and personalities onto the dots they were playing with, calling them the 'mean' one, or the 'helpful' one. That's when I knew the idea was special.""



"Takashi and Hunicke make for a harmonious paring. Both designers have a background in arts and crafts and Hunicke's new studio Funomena, founded in 2012 with her former colleague Martin Middleton, is filled with sand, clay, pipe-cleaners, wire toys and so on. "We often model stuff by hand before putting them in our games," she says. Funomena is currently working on three games, one of which, Wattam, is being directed by Takahashi. Wattam, for which a release date has not yet been announced, reflects the foundations of Hunicke's childhood: playfulness, creativity, collaboration. "Keita's view on childhood and play is similar to mine," she says. "People should make things. We want this game to be more about you as a player than about us as the designers, artists and musicians behind it."

Games that encourage this kind of playfulness rather than than seek to force a specific message are at the core of Hunicke's interest. While she holds up Papers, Please and Cart Life as prime examples of what games can achieve she wants her work to have looser interpretations. "I know people who make films who feel their film has a single interpretation," she says. "But they are rare. The majority of people who write or make films and art are just trying to get something out of them. When it's in the world it's there for everybody to draw what they will from the work. Besides, you can't control the context. For example, art that's made in this moment around Brexit could have a very different interpretation in ten years depending on what happens to Britain's fortunes."

For today's context with its climate of fear and uncertainty, of strongmen on the rise, of nations baring teeth, playfulness is, Hunicke believes, a necessity. "We've been spending a lot of time thinking about mechanics and systems as an industry," he says. "Doing something a little more open is important right now for this difficult, sad and important time. We're having conversations about all of the forces that inform how we behave, and how we sustain our planet. They are crucial conversations. But that needs the counterbalance of playfulness. All of the games I'm working on at the moment are about interacting with others in purely playful ways. I hope they encourage people to help one another, not for what they can get out of it, but just for the sake of it.""
robinhunicke  games  gaming  videogames  gamedev  2016  funomena  thatgamecompany  jenovachen  keitatakahashi  childhood  computers  compsci  education  learning  play 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Visiting Scarfolk, the Most Spectacular Dystopia of the 1970s | Collectors Weekly
"Though adults tend to look back on youth as a time of innocence, childhood is actually terrifying. Kids are always privy to more of the world’s horrors than we realize, and those glimpses of war on the evening news or the mutilation on display in anti-drunk-driving films leave permanent scars on their permeable little minds.

Richard Littler had a frightening childhood, too, but as a designer and screenwriter, he turned his memories of life in suburban Britain during the 1970s into a haunting and hilarious blog and book about the fictional dystopian town of Scarfolk. Littler mined the dark side of his childhood to create pamphlets, posters, book covers, album art, audio clips, and television shorts—remnants of life in a paranoid, totalitarian 1970s community, where even babies are not to be trusted.

What started as a handful of faux-vintage images for friends’ birthday cards grew into this universe of fake memorabilia, so complete that the Scarfolk concept was recently optioned for a British TV series. Littler borrows liberally from authentic designs of the era to craft his artfully decaying images, which are so familiar at first glance that many have been mistaken for authentic found objects rather than re-creations.

We recently spoke with Littler about the real-world inspiration for Scarfolk and what we can learn from its language of fear."
scarfolk  childhood  art  culture  design  history  richardlittler  children  1970s  memory  fear  paranoia 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Why Children's Drawings Matter - YouTube
"Children can’t draw very well in the technical sense - but their art has important value for us nevertheless."
bobbykennedy  children'sdrawings  art  drawing  children  schooloflife  childhood  imagination  play  playfulness  inaccuracies  accuracy  glvo  sfsh 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Prof Carla Rinaldi on 'Reclaiming Childhood' - YouTube
[For a quick taste, go to 52:15 https://youtu.be/dqgvW-IRXKg?t=3135:

"Schools, in general, they are considered as a place to learn to read, to learn to write, to be disciplined. Especially the schools for the youngest, they are the famous place to pre-: to pre-pare for the future, to pre-pare for life, to pre- pre- pre-. Pre-school, pre-reading, pre-writing. To take children to pre-ordained outcomes. Pre-, pre-. It’s time to really cancel pre- because school is not a preparation for life, but life. It is a real, deep important part of your life. […] School is life. […] Life itself is school, but for sure, school is life. And the question becomes more urgent nowadays because we are talking about the role of school in contemporary society. Contemporary that is a digital era, e-learning, everything. And somebody says maybe it's time to cancel schools. Why do we continue to build schools? Why does a society looking at the future have to continue to have a school? […] I think the answers still continues to be that we need to have good schools because they are a fundamental place of education of the citizen and communities. […] Not only a place to transmit culture, but nowadays more than ever a place to construct culture and values. Culture of childhood and culture from childhood. That means that the children are bearers and constructors of elements that can renew the culture. They are our best source for our renewing culture. […] The way in which they approach life is not something that we observe without them in our life, it is an amazing source for renewing our questions and our way of approaching life. They are the source for creativity, for creative thinking. They can be the source for changing the concept of ecological approach, holistic approach. We have to explain [these] to each other. Children know exactly what it means. […] We continue to talk about teaching nature to children. Children *are* nature."
carlarinaldi  2013  education  schools  teaching  sfsh  childhood  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  reggioemilia  children  agesegregation  aborigines  australia  pedagogy  inclusivity  accessibility  competence  life  living  meaning  meaningmaking  beauty  humanism  humanity  humans  humannature  self-discipline  thewhy  creativity  trust  parenting  unschooling  deschooling  listening  respect  knowing  relationships  joy  canon  otherness  howeteach  makingvisible  ethnography  welcome  reciprocity  community  interdependence  negotiation  rights  nature  culture  culturemaking  responsibility  duty  duties  authority  rule  freedom  co-constuction 
july 2016 by robertogreco
BOMB Magazine — Edwidge Danticat by Garnette Cadogan
"Despite her accomplishments, it is clear from talking to her and reading her books that her ambition is to be nothing less than an attentive observer—her works display exemplary watchfulness and empathy. Over the course of a weeks-long correspondence about her writing, she kept gently nudging me to listen more closely, to be the kind of reader on whom nothing is lost, a reader who recognizes people as irreducibly various and complex. And she made it seem so simple. Except it’s not. (Relatedly, her prose’s deceptive simplicity is part of its appeal.) She has been described as “the bard of the Haitian diaspora,” but, really, her terrain is whatever world her fertile imagination takes her to. Her latest stop is the fictional town of Ville Rose, in which Claire of the Sea Light is set—a heartbreaking-yet-wondrous world."



"GC Claire, this “luminous child,” comes to us in a fable-like series of interrelated stories. Why that structure? Was there something about the themes you wanted to tackle, or about the way you wanted to delineate linked lives in Haiti, that made you choose this form?

ED Initially I wanted to write a book that was like a transcript of a popular radio show in Haiti, featuring news, gossip, interviews, and testimonials. I was not going to use the transcript format, but each chapter was going to be a story that was an episode of the show. The book is as much about Claire and her father as it is about the other residents of Ville Rose. We meet many different characters and get into each of their houses and heads. There is a schoolmaster and his wayward son. There is an undertaker, as well as Louise George, the radio hostess, and others. I imagine the reader as a visitor to Ville Rose on the one night that the book takes place. You arrive on the beach and you start meeting people and you try to piece all the pieces together. I like books, like mysteries, that leave something for the reader to do, a puzzle to solve. I hope this book does that.

GC Were you worried that the fantastical elements of your story might be taken as allegorical and therefore lessen the blow of the horrors you describe?

ED There are not that many fantastical elements in this book. Everything that is mentioned can and actually has happened in different parts of the world. Rogue waves happen. Supernovas happen. Frogs die en masse in many places. Also, even when fantastical elements appear in stories, in my experience, they often highlight rather than reduce horrors.

GC The tiny seaside town of Ville Rose is painted with magical strokes that point to a life beyond the one we can see. They reveal the townspeople’s connection with each other and also their connection to the world beyond. How do you perceive the world that we can’t see shaping the one we do see?

ED I am certainly of the belief that there is more to us than what we see. This is why I would resist the notion of death as ultimate exile. I believe that we remain connected to our ancestors long after they’re gone. It is a deep spiritual connection that is hard to explain. I sometimes think, for example, that I see traces of my grandmother in my daughter’s expressions. This is both genetic and magical at the same time. We are all part of a cycle of life, shaped by all that has come before. Some call it evolution. Some call it God, by whatever name they call God. In Haiti you might say Gran Mèt la, the Grand Master or Creator, which would be part of most religions, even ones where people have trouble agreeing what God should be or look or sound like.

GC In an essay published on the year since the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, you quoted a saying of your grandmother’s: “In Haiti, people never really die.” The dead are still among us, you pointed out. How does your awareness of your ancestors and your intimate connection to the dead influence your writing?

ED Again, not to sound too mysterious, but there is so much happening when I am writing that I don’t quite understand. In many ways this is linked to the fact that your subconscious is doing most of the work when you’re in the middle of any creative act. Yet sometimes, on good days when the writing is going well, you feel like there is someone on your shoulder whispering things in your ear that you are just transcribing. You’re a vessel. You don’t even notice time going by. The words just flow. On those days, some people say that the muse has been by. I like to say that my ancestors have been by, sharing with me some of what they have learned over several lifetimes, because there is no way I can individually know what everyone in my bloodline has known together, collectively."



"GC You seem to carry the burden—and liberation—of being from multiple worlds, Haiti and the United States, and speaking to and on behalf of both. Do you see yourself speaking from one world to another, or speaking to both worlds simultaneously? Or speaking to both worlds and the diaspora, that homeland caught between the two?

ED I carry no such burden, frankly. If you give yourself that burden, that is your burden. If I thought of myself as this person “being from multiple worlds,” then I would probably just shut down and do something else with my life. No one elected me to speak on their behalf either in Haiti or the United States. I’m certainly not going to assign myself that role because it would be presumptuous and arrogant and just plain too much. To express an opinion, I would have to take a survey first. I can add my voice to someone else’s. I can help raise other voices. But I can’t take on this massive undertaking that you’re suggesting. I would fail miserably. I don’t have the personality for it or the stamina. Also, the idea of this great anguish of living between two worlds has diminished somewhat for many immigrant people, artists and non-artists alike. Not that there is not some uneasiness, but it is no longer the single most urgent anxiety of every immigrant’s life. And honestly, maybe it never was—except, perhaps, in literature.

Recently I read Patricia Engel’s It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris, in which a father wants to convince his daughter to join the family business, but she wants to be an artist. He says to her that all immigrants are artists, that the overall action of recreating your life in another country is a work of art. That was a wonderful intergenerational moment about the pressures of immigration—something I personally needed to hear, something that moves the conversation beyond culture clash and “I am neither here nor there,” to a more nuanced situation where people are talking intimately about immigration and not screaming, “I don’t know where I belong!” I would like us to move beyond these tropes of speaking to or for, and of being only between two worlds. We are at the same time speaking to no one and everyone."



"GC One truth that stands high in your work is that love is a potent combatant to loss. Elaborate on the hopefulness that runs through your recent novel and your work in general.

ED I don’t know how to do this without singing a corny love song, but if you have ever suffered a loss, or have been deprived of a love, or have watched someone’s life slip away—of course all positive emotions can offer some kind of comfort. Love is certainly one of the best for that. When things are difficult, the love a parent has for a child, romantic love, or the love a neighbor has for a stranger or a friend, can sustain a person in ways that even the person being sustained might not fully understand at the moment. The year my father and uncle both died, I can’t imagine how I would have survived if not for the love of my friends and family who got me through a pregnancy, a birth, and all the craziness—mostly with words. Words of comfort in cards, texts, and emails, when I could not even pick up the phone. Not to sound too corny, but sometimes love can also be the difference between life and death. Countless poems, novels, essays, and films vouch for this."
edwidgedanticat  garnettecadogan  writing  literature  haiti  2014  interviews  immigration  migration  howwewrite  whywwewrite  exile  motherhood  subconscious  identity  patriciaengle  nikkigiovanni  love  childhood  fiction  alienation  history  ancestry  noticing  observing  listening 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window - Wikipedia
"Totto-chan, the Little Girl at the Window is a children's book written by Japanese television personality and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. The book was published originally as 窓ぎわのトットちゃん (Madogiwa no Totto-chan) in 1981, and became an instant bestseller in Japan.[1] The book is about the values of the unconventional education that Kuroyanagi received at Tomoe Gakuen, a Tokyo elementary school founded by educator Sosaku Kobayashi during World War II, and it is considered her childhood memoir.[1][2]

The Japanese name of the book is an expression used to describe people who have failed."



"The book begins with Totto-chan's mother coming to know of her daughter's expulsion from public school. Her mother realizes that what Totto-chan needs is a school where more freedom of expression is permitted. Thus, she takes Totto-chan to meet the headmaster of the new school, Mr. Kobayashi. From that moment a friendship is formed between master and pupil.

The book goes on to describe the times that Totto-chan has, the friends she makes, the lessons she learns, and the vibrant atmosphere that she imbibes. All of these are presented to the reader through the eyes of a child. Thus the reader sees how the normal world is transformed into a beautiful, exciting place full of joy and enthusiasm. The reader also sees in their role as adults, how Mr. Kobayashi introduces new activities to interest the pupils. One sees in Mr. Kobayashi a man who understands children and strives to develop their qualities of mind, body and his concern for the physically handicapped and his emphasis on the equality of all children are remarkable. This was especially remarkable in light of the fact Japan was in the throes of a regime not unlike Nazi Germany. Handicaps and religions that were different from the worship of the Emperor were not tolerated. But, we see that "Totto-chan" making best friends with a boy who has polio. And to top things off, this boy is raised in a Christian family which could have jeopardized everyone who associated with them. Another boy that has joined the school was raised in America for all his life and cannot speak Japanese, let alone know some of the basic rules of etiquette. But the headmaster tells the children to learn English from him, despite governmental restraints against using the "enemy's" language.

The headmaster should have been reprimanded for such actions. But in the epilogue, we find that Headmaster Kobayashi had good connections with leaders in government. This connection is hinted when one of "Totto-chan's" friends is mentioned as having an aunt who was a poet laureate of the Imperial Court. That a child with such heritage would be in such an orthodox school would have been unthinkable during this time. There had to be something special about Headmaster Kobayashi.

But in this the school, the children lead happy lives, unaware of the things going on in the world. World War II has started, yet in this school, no signs of it are seen. There are hints of something awry when "Totto-chan" cannot buy caramel candies from the vending machine on her way to school, and it becomes harder for her mother to meet the requirements for a balanced lunch. In another scene, there is a boy who is bawling his eyes out at being removed from the school by his parents, with Headmaster Kobayashi helplessly letting the student vent with tears forming in his own eyes.

But one day, the school is bombed, and is never rebuilt, even though the headmaster claims that he looked forward to building an even better school the next time round. This ends Totto-chan's years as a pupil at Tomoe Gakuen."
books  education  schools  schooling  sfsh  tetsukokuroyanagi  1981  1984  children  japan  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  equality  totto-chan  tomoegakuen  failure  sosakukobayashi  childhood  memoirs  toread 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Here Comes Hilda - The New Yorker
"It began, as adventures often do, with a trip: a family holiday in Norway, parents and their teen-agers, that seemed entirely straightforward at the time. “My imagination was really going for it on that trip—the landscape of the place stuck with me,” Luke Pearson, the British author of the Hildafolk series of graphic novels, told me. “At the time, I was reading about trolls and daydreaming, knowing I wanted to do something with that one day.”

Next, there was a map. “When I was at university, everyone who studied illustration was given a project to do an illustrated map of a country, and I was given Iceland,” he said. “I made a map of Icelandic folktales—you can still play it.” Move the digital clouds on Pearson’s “Hidden Iceland” and see, in their shadows, the giants and sprites and Viking ships just beneath that country’s peaks and fjords.

Finally, there was a girl: Hilda, now the star of four (soon to be five) comics. Netflix is planning a twelve-episode animated series, based on the first four books, for early 2018. The fifth book, “Hilda and the Stone Forest,” comes out in September.

When Pearson was still in school, in 2009, he submitted a one-page drawing to a competition run by Nobrow, now his publisher. “She’s basically wearing her outfit”—beret, scarf, red top, blue skirt, and big red boots—Pearson said, of Hilda. “She’s standing at the end of a pier, with a Scandinavian-esque city behind her and all kinds of creatures around, including a giant troll and a zeppelin in the sky.” A similar scene occurs in the third Hilda book, “Hilda and the Bird Parade,” but at the beginning Pearson didn’t have a story, just this “curious image” of a small girl with blue hair and a question: “Where is she and what does she get up to?”

What she gets up to is a string of adventures, first in the Heidi-esque hills above Trolberg, and then in the city itself—a move made (spoiler alert!) after a giant steps on the cozy ancestral cottage that she shares with her mother. That Hilda herself has long been a giant to a set of thumb-size invisible elves, living on the same patch of grass that her cabin sits on, is just another part of a life in which mythical creatures hide within mountains and behind bureau drawers. (There’s a lot of unused space in Hilda’s house, you see.)

For such a small girl, Hilda is about to get very big, and I am not at all surprised. My five-year-old daughter brought the first book home from a friend’s house, and it took reading only the first few pages, beautifully laid out, with the rich color palette of a Nordic sweater, to know that Hilda was something special. Trolberg may have a complex of bell towers (bells keep trolls at bay, we learn), but it also has a glassy downtown à la Houston. “All of these stories are riffs on folktales that are as old as time, that have taken a hard left turn through Luke’s imagination and all of these contemporary pop-cultural sensibilities,” Kurt Mueller, the executive vice-president at Silvergate Media, which will produce the Hilda series, said. (The company’s other series include “The Octonauts” and “Peter Rabbit.”) “Like the movies of Miyazaki, she feels totally of the moment, but she’s reacting to something that feels ancient and archetypal,” Mueller said. The nostalgic Northern European setting recalls Miyazaki’s romanticism, while Hilda’s communion with the conjoined natural and spirit worlds recalls San from “Princess Mononoke” or Satsuki from “My Neighbor Totoro.”

My first point of comparison was Lewis Carroll’s Alice, though Pearson said that he never thought of her. But, greeted by a little girl in an unchanging outfit, who is confronted with all manner of creatures great and small, in landscapes giant and miniaturized, who else are we to think of? What’s markedly different with Hilda is the attitude with which she greets her wonderland. She does not fall down a hole but strides, prepared with sketchbook and satchel, into the wind and weather. The first words of the first book, “Hilda and the Troll,” are delivered by a radio announcer: “But tonight clouds rolling in from the east . . . temperatures remain mild . . . with the likelihood of heavy rain.” Hilda, reading a tome on trolls at the breakfast table, rushes outside her red, peak-roofed cabin to see storm clouds forming over an adjacent peak. “Mum! Mum! It’s going to rain tonight! Can I sleep in the tent?” And Mum says yes.

Pearson’s aesthetic is sophisticated for the often candy-colored world of children’s animation, and the plots fit neatly into a number of present-day parenting preoccupations. Do children need dream time or organized activities? Nature or urban exploration? Pearson himself is too young to have friends with kids, so one suspects that his sensitivity to children’s desire for independence, combined with a need for a secure nest, may stem from his own childhood. Hilda’s mum wants her to have friends, to go to school, to participate in organized activities, but Hilda is always wandering off, learning Scout lessons on her own terms. Pearson says the scenes of the Sparrow Scouts were taken directly from his own Cub Scout experiences, down to the design of the church hall in which they meet (made of Nordic wood rather than Tamworth brick).

In the countryside, Hilda runs free, but the city brings greater conflict between her and her mother—who works from home at a drafting board, perhaps as an architect or an illustrator. Pearson’s panels are filled with such suggestive details, rewarding the close and repeated reading of small children. One of my daughter’s favorite spreads is at the back of the paperback version of “Hilda and the Troll”: a glimpse of Hilda’s realistically messy desk and shelves, stocked with Easter eggs from this and future tales, allowing young readers to put a few things together for themselves. Pearson extends the respect he has for Hilda to his audience, giving it room to discover the good kind of troll for themselves.

Pearson’s utter lack of pretension keeps Hilda feeling fresh, while his reading of folktales and Tove Jansson’s Moomin series embeds Hilda in the long history of children’s stories. Spunky heroines abound, but they don’t always speak to the present day. Hilda’s dilemmas, while fantastic, also feel real: Does she throw a rock at a pigeon to fit in? Does mother know best? Can one, or both, of them draw their way out of their latest adventure? Pearson has found a lovely new way to dramatize childhood demons, while also making you long for your own cruise down the fjords."

[See also:
https://islingtoncomic.blogspot.sg/2012/05/hilda-and-midnight-giant.html
http://www.tcj.com/i-wanted-a-character-who-was-very-positive-an-interview-with-luke-pearson/
http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2014/09/how-to-read-hilda/
http://comicsalliance.com/learning-and-inspiring-in-luke-pearsons-hilda-comics-review/
https://thebookwormbaby.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-amazing-world-of-hilda.html ]
books  childrensbooks  childhood  alexandralange  2016  lukepearson  comics  graphicnovels  toread  hilda  nordiccountries  hayaomiyazaki  girls  heroines  aliceinwonderland  lewiscarroll  play  maps  mapping  parenting  sfsh  iceland  pippilongstocking  tovejansson  princessmononoke  myneighbortotoro  studioghibli  scandinavia  illustration  folktales  moomin  childrensliterature 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Sesat School: On parents’ involvement in education
"My friend Martin Varsavsky posted on Facebook about Michael Moore’s upcoming new film “Where to Invade Next“, which features the Finnish education system (the clip is embedded below).

Martin commented:

“What nobody addresses when speaking about the Finnish education miracle is that maybe the secret is not so much what is happening at school but the level of parental attention and education these kids are getting at home.”

Below is my response:

"Martin, you nailed the issue. I have looked into the parent involvement question a little bit as part of running Sesat School in California, and found some surprising results. Also, my father is a Professor at the Department of Education at the University of Helsinki, which probably colors my thinking.

What I found is that Finns (surprisingly, perhaps!) do not emphasize parental involvement in children’s schooling very much. Instead (not so surprisingly, and in direct contrast with the U.S.), they care a lot about involvement in the sense of children being trusted with responsibility to make decisions that genuinely impact their own lives.

Data correlates this approach with results. In 2012 the OECD (Education Working Paper 73) compared parental involvement in 14 PISA countries. Finland wasn’t part of the sample, but the findings are informative: the three kinds of parental involvement highlighted by the OECD as most effective are (1) reading books to young children (2) discussing complex issues with children (3) parents reading to themselves for enjoyment.

In contrast, the American conversation on parental involvement has focused on (1) parents attending school functions and responding to school obligations (parent-teacher conferences, for example); (2) parents helping children improve their
schoolwork; (3) parents monitoring homework and actively tutoring their children at home. These are the top three modes of parent involvement highlighted in a paper by Cotton & Reed Wikelund, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

When I compared this with the Finnish literature, I was surprised how little had been written in Finland about parents’ involvement in schooling (in the U.S. sense). Instead, Finns have been very concerned about children’s involvement in decision-making. When you search Google in Finnish for “parents’ involvement”, Google suggests results about “children’s involvement”! The Finns pay particular attention to kids’ involvement in decisions related to their own education, as well as decisions that impact their lives more broadly (urban planning, for instance).

To give you an example, here’s what Finland’s Ministry of Education wrote in 2011:

“It is recommended that student bodies be made obligatory on all levels of education, and that their objectives and responsibilities be enacted into law. Moreover, special methods [of involving very young children in decision-making] must be developed for kindergartens and preschools.”

This paper was co-signed by the Minister of Education and his deputy of Youth Affairs.

Perhaps instead of encroaching more on their kids’ lives in and out of school, U.S. parents should redefine “involvement” as courage to let their kids start making more of their important life decisions earlier, so they grow up learning that it’s perfectly normal and OK to expect to have real responsibility for one’s actions.

Food for thought :)""
jyriengestrom  finland  parenting  2016  us  education  sfsh  michaelmoore  reding  responsibility  learning  children  childhood  trust  decisionmaking 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Teacher Tom: Revolution
"We need a revolution in how we perceive children. They are not incomplete adults or empty vessels or anything less than full-fledged human beings with rights, including the right to be respected, heard, and responded to as fellow human beings and not inferior ones to be bossed around.

We need a revolution in how we view learning. It's not the job of adults to decide what and when children learn. That is the children's job. Our responsibility as adults is to role model our values in day to day life, strive to be the person we want our kids to grow up to be, take a genuine interest in what our children are excited about, and know that childhood exists, first and foremost, for play.

We need a revolution in how we view "stuff." I recently returned from China. In the US, we tend to think of "communist" China, but that somehow hasn't been an impediment to their decision-makers deciding that the nation should move toward a "consumer economy" more like those found in western societies. The thing is, the Chinese people apparently haven't been particularly accommodating. They don't seem overly interested in more stuff, they've learned to love what they already have, and it is putting the skids on their central plan. Yes, I'm sure part of that is generations of official education emphasizing that consumerism is an evil of the west, but it is noteworthy nevertheless. Many of the barriers to improving our educational system have to do with our consumption of stuff, the cars and houses and electronics and space we think we need. It makes us need two incomes and long work days. None of it is necessary, and probably detrimental, to a satisfying life.

We need a revolution against authoritarianism. Yes, I'm talking about politics, but also about day to day life. We must rise up against the entire concept of obedience. As Utah Phillips sang, "I will not obey." And then he sang, "But I'm always ready to agree." That is, at its heart, is what this revolution is about.

All of it is scary. Our revolution requires upending at least four sacred cows. All of it is daunting. This revolution requires generations of work. I used to be uncomfortable using the word revolution, but I've come to realize that human history is one of continual revolution, we're all a part of every one of them by either our actions or inactions. Revolution is the engine of progress and we are it's fuel. We either choose our revolution or it chooses us.

Of course, I hear you: all of this is well and good for some ivory tower blogger, but what about my kid, right now? This is where idealism meets reality. Public schools are looking increasingly like test score coal mines, private education is too much of a financial stretch for most of us, we love our kids with every ounce of our beings, and we want what's best for them. Something's got to give. Given reality, given our fears, given how daunting it is, what do we do? At bottom it's a question each of us can only answer for ourselves, but I think we make a mistake when we don't err on the side of revolution because in that direction lies the better future we want for those we love.

We must be firm, I think, in our defiance of standardization in our schools and specifically I'm talking about opting our children out of high stakes testing and home work. Be assured, high stakes testing and home work are not evidence-based aides to learning: indeed the evidence points to testing and homework mostly succeeding in making our children hate school even more. Your child is objectively more likely to grow into an avid, life-long learner if he is not subjected to high stakes testing and homework. The more of us who stand up for this, the more revolutionary it will be.

The second thing you can do for your child right now is talk to your friends and family. Talk to them about their own childhoods, ask them about their memories, revel in their stories about playing outdoors, unsupervised, with their friends and few toys. Share your own stories along with your concerns about today's children missing out on that. Revolutions must speak to the souls of every day people and I've found that there is no more direct way to get there than through connecting folks with their own childhoods.

Thirdly, we can all work on how we speak with the children in our lives, striving to avoid the directives of obedience, those commands like, "Come here" or "Sit down" or "Eat this" or "Stop it!" Better is to practice replacing those commands with informative statements, like "It's time to go" or "The people behind you can't see if you stand up" or "I don't want you to do that." Yes, it takes more words, but it is trading out commands for the space of simple truth in which children can practice thinking for themselves. A revolution will not be told what to do.

And finally, perhaps most difficult, and definitely most important is coming to appreciate the beauty of living with less. This would be the greatest revolution of all. The time it would give us as parents would set our children free.

The only thing we can do is to try. Just try. I give all my respect to each one of you who does. And ultimately this is the only way to guarantee that you will be doing the best you can to make a better future for your child. A revolution will never be a result of what you do, but it will always be a result of what we do. Everything is daunting if you feel you're going it on your own. If we all try at the same time, we cannot be stopped.

Our children love freedom and so do we."
tomhobson  children  youth  rights  2016  ageism  authoritarianism  politics  schooling  policy  china  us  consumerism  consumption  childhood  play  learning  unschooling  deschooling  education  standardization  testing  standardizedtesting  freedom  sfsh  high-stakestesting 
may 2016 by robertogreco
On the Wildness of Children — Carol Black
"When we first take children from the world and put them in an institution, they cry. It used to be on the first day of kindergarten, but now it’s at an ever earlier age, sometimes when they are only a few weeks old. "Don’t worry," the nice teacher says sweetly, "As soon as you’re gone she’ll be fine. It won’t take more than a few days. She’ll adjust." And she does. She adjusts to an indoor world of cinderblock and plastic, of fluorescent light and half-closed blinds (never mind that studies show that children don’t grow as well in fluorescent light as they do in sunlight; did we really need to be told that?) Some children grieve longer than others, gazing through the slats of the blinds at the bright world outside; some resist longer than others, tuning out the nice teacher, thwarting her when they can, refusing to sit still when she tells them to (this resistance, we are told, is a “disorder.”) But gradually, over the many years of confinement, they adjust. The cinderblock world becomes their world. They don’t know the names of the trees outside the classroom window. They don’t know the names of the birds in the trees. They don’t know if the moon is waxing or waning, if that berry is edible or poisonous, if that song is for mating or warning.

It is in this context that today’s utopian crusader proposes to teach “eco-literacy.”

A free child outdoors will learn the flat stones the crayfish hide under, the still shady pools where the big trout rest, the rocky slopes where the wild berries grow. They will learn the patterns in the waves, which tree branches will bear their weight, which twigs will catch fire, which plants have thorns. A child in school must learn what a “biome” is, and how to use logarithms to calculate biodiversity. Most of them don’t learn it, of course; most of them have no interest in learning it, and most of those who do forget it the day after the test. Our “standards” proclaim that children will understand the intricate workings of ecosystems, the principles of evolution and adaptation, but one in four will leave school not knowing the earth revolves around the sun.

A child who knows where to find wild berries will never forget this information. An “uneducated” person in the highlands of Papua New Guinea can recognize seventy species of birds by their songs. An “illiterate” shaman in the Amazon can identify hundreds of medicinal plants. An Aboriginal person from Australia carries in his memory a map of the land encoded in song that extends for a thousand miles. Our minds are evolved to contain vast amounts of information about the world that gave us birth, and to pass this information on easily from one generation to the next.

But to know the world, you have to live in the world.

My daughters, who did not go to school, would sometimes watch as groups of schoolchildren received their prescribed dose of “environmental education.” On a sunny day along a rocky coastline, a mass of fourteen-year-olds carrying clipboards wander aimlessly among the tide pools, trying not to get their shoes wet, looking at their worksheets more than at the life teeming in the clear salty water. At a trailhead in a coastal mountain range, a busload of nine-year-olds erupts carrying (and dropping) pink slips of paper describing a “treasure hunt” in which they will be asked to distinguish “items found in nature” from “items not found in nature.” (We discover several plastic objects hidden by their teachers along the trail near the parking lot; they don’t have time, of course, to walk the whole two miles to the waterfall.) By a willow wetland brimming with life, a middle-school “biodiversity” class is herded outdoors, given ten minutes to watch birds, and then told to come up with a scientific hypothesis and an experimental protocol for testing it. One of the boys proposes an experiment that involves nailing shut the beaks of wild ducks.

There is some dawning awareness these days of the insanity of raising children almost entirely indoors, but as usual our society’s response to its own insanity is to create artificial programs designed to solve our artificial problems in the most artificial way possible. We charter nonprofit organizations, sponsor conferences, design curricula and after-school programs and graphically appealing interactive websites, all of which create the truly nightmarish impression that to get your kid outside you would first need to file for 501(c)3 status, apply for a federal grant, and hire an executive director and program coordinator. We try to address what's lacking in our compulsory curriculum by making new lists of compulsions.

But the truth is we don’t know how to teach our children about nature because we ourselves were raised in the cinderblock world. We are, in the parlance of wildlife rehabilitators, unreleasable. I used to do wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and the one thing we all knew was that a young animal kept too long in a cage would not be able to survive in the wild. Often, when you open the door to the cage, it will be afraid to go out; if it does go out, it won’t know what to do. The world has become unfamiliar, an alien place. This is what we have done to our children.

This is what was done to us."



"If you thwart a child’s will too much when he is young, says Aodla Freeman, he will become uncooperative and rebellious later (sound familiar?) You find this view all over the world, in many parts of the Americas, in parts of Africa, India, Asia, Papua New Guinea. It was, of course, a great source of frustration to early missionaries in the Americas, who were stymied in their efforts to educate Indigenous children by parents who would not allow them to be beaten: “The Savages,” Jesuit missionary Paul le Jeune complained in 1633, “cannot chastise a child, nor see one chastised. How much trouble this will give us in carrying out our plans of teaching the young!”

But as Odawa elder and educator Wilfred Peltier tells us, learning -– like all human relationships –– must be based in the ethical principal of non-interference, in the right of all human beings to make their own choices, as long as they’re not interfering with anybody else. As Nishnaabeg scholar and author Leanne Betasamosake Simpson tells us, learning –– like all human relationships –– must be based in the ethical principal of consent, in the right of all human beings to be free of violence and the use of force. Simpson explains:
If children learn to normalize dominance and non-consent within the context of education, then non-consent becomes a normalized part of the ‘tool kit’ of those who have and wield power… This is unthinkable within Nishnaabeg intelligence.


Interestingly, the most brilliant artists and scientists in Euro-western societies tell us exactly the same thing: that it is precisely this state of open attention, curiosity, freedom, collaboration, consent, that is necessary for all true learning, discovery, creation."



"We no longer frame people as either “civilized”or “savage,” but as “educated” or “uneducated,” “developed” or “developing” (our modern terms for the same thing). But we retain the paternalistic attitudes of our forebears, toward our children and toward the “childlike” adults we find all over the world — a paternalism in which the veneer of benevolence is underpinned by the constant threat of violent force.

Control is always so seductive, at least to the "developed" ("civilized") mind. It seems so satisfying, so efficient, so effective, so potent. In the short run, in some ways, it is. But it creates a thousand kinds of blowback, from depressed rebellious children to storms surging over our coastlines to guns and bombs exploding in cities around the world."
education  unschooling  children  childhood  carolblack  attention  culture  society  learning  wildness  wild  wilderness  thoreau  ellwoodcubberley  williamtorreyharris  schooling  schools  johntaylorgatto  outdoors  natureanxiety  depression  psychology  wellness  adhd  mindfulness  suzannegaskins  openattention  miniaodlafreeman  paulejeune  wilfredpeltier  leannebetasamosakesimpson  consent  animals  zoos  nature  johannhari  brucealexander  mammals  indigenous  johnholt  petergray  work  play  howwelearn  tobyrollo  chastisement  civilization  control  kosmos  colonization  colonialism 
may 2016 by robertogreco
On technology, culture, and growing up in a small town
"Rex Sorgatz grew up in a small and isolated town (physically, culturally) in North Dakota named Napoleon.
Out on the prairie, pop culture existed only in the vaguest sense. Not only did I never hear the Talking Heads or Public Enemy or The Cure, I could never have heard of them. With a radio receiver only able to catch a couple FM stations, cranking out classic rock, AC/DC to Aerosmith, the music counterculture of the '80s would have been a different universe to me. (The edgiest band I heard in high school was The Cars. "My Best Friend's Girl" was my avant-garde.)

Is this portrait sufficiently remote? Perhaps one more stat: I didn't meet a black person until I was 16, at a summer basketball camp. I didn't meet a Jewish person until I was 18, in college.

This was the Deep Midwest in the 1980s. I was a pretty clueless kid.

He recently returned there and found that the physical isolation hasn't changed, but thanks to the internet, the kids now have access to the full range of cultural activities and ideas from all over the world.
"Basically, this story is a controlled experiment," I continue. "Napoleon is a place that has remained static for decades. The economics, demographics, politics, and geography are the same as when I lived here. In the past twenty-five years, only one thing has changed: technology."

Rex is a friend and nearly every time we get together, we end up talking about our respective small town upbringings and how we both somehow managed to escape. My experience wasn't quite as isolated as Rex's -- I lived on a farm until I was 9 but then moved to a small town of 2500 people; plus my dad flew all over the place and the Twin Cities were 90 minutes away by car -- but was similar in many ways. The photo from his piece of the rusted-out orange car buried in the snow could have been taken in the backyard of the house I grew up in, where my dad still lives. Kids listened to country, top 40, or heavy metal music. I didn't see Star Wars or Empire in a theater. No cable TV until I was 14 or 15. No AP classes until I was a senior. Aside from a few Hispanics and a family from India, everyone was white and Protestant. The FFA was huge in my school. I had no idea about rap music or modernism or design or philosophy or Andy Warhol or 70s film or atheism. I didn't know what I didn't know and had very little way of finding out.

I didn't even know I should leave. But somehow I got out. I don't know about Rex, but "escape" is how I think of it. I was lucky enough to excel at high school and got interest from schools from all over the place. My dad urged me to go to college...I was thinking about getting a job (probably farming or factory work) or joining the Navy with a friend. That's how clueless I was...I knew so little about the world that I didn't know who I was in relation to it. My adjacent possible just didn't include college even though it was the best place for a kid like me.

In college in an Iowan city of 110,000, I slowly discovered what I'd been missing. Turns out, I was a city kid who just happened to grow up in a small town. I met other people from all over the country and, in time, from all over the world. My roommate sophomore year was black.1 I learned about techno music and programming and photography and art and classical music and LGBT and then the internet showed up and it was game over. I ate it all up and never got full. And like Rex:

Napoleon had no school newspaper, and minimal access to outside media, so I had no conception of "the publishing process." Pitching an idea, assigning a story, editing and rewriting -- all of that would have baffled me. I had only ever seen a couple of newspapers and a handful of magazines, and none offered a window into its production. (If asked, I would have been unsure if writers were even paid, which now seems prescient.) Without training or access, but a vague desire to participate, boredom would prove my only edge. While listlessly paging through the same few magazines over and over, I eventually discovered a semi-concealed backdoor for sneaking words onto the hallowed pages of print publications: user-generated content.

That's the ghastly term we use (or avoid using) today for non-professional writing submitted by readers. What was once a letter to the editor has become a comment; editorials, now posts. The basic unit persists, but the quantity and facility have matured. Unlike that conspicuous "What's on your mind?" input box atop Facebook, newspapers and magazines concealed interaction with readers, reluctant of the opinions of randos. But if you were diligent enough to find the mailing address, often sequestered deep in the back pages, you could submit letters of opinion and other ephemera.
I eventually found the desire to express myself. Using a copy of Aldus PhotoStyler I had gotten from who knows where, I designed party flyers for DJ friends' parties. I published a one-sheet periodical for the residents of my dorm floor, to be read in the bathroom. I made meme-y posters2 which I hung around the physics department. I built a homepage that just lived on my hard drive because our school didn't offer web hosting space and I couldn't figure out how to get an account elsewhere.3 Well, you know how that last bit turned out, eventually.4"
jasonkottke  kottke  rexsorgatz  2016  rural  internet  web  isolation  connectivity  change  subcultures  media  culture  childhood  youth  teens  socialmedia  college  education  universities  highered  highereducation  midwest  cv  music  film  television  tv  cable  cabletv  cosmopolitanism  worldliness  urban  urbanism  interneturbanism  1980s  northdakota  minnesota  homogeneity  diversity  apclasses  aps  religion  ethnicity  race  exposure  facebook 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Has the Internet Really Changed Everything? — Backchannel
[See also: http://kottke.org/16/04/on-technology-culture-and-growing-up-in-a-small-town ]

"How have decades of mass media and technology changed us? A writer returns to his remote hometown — once isolated, now connected. And finds unexpected answers."



"In the Napoleon of the 1980s, where I memorized the alphabet and mangled my first kiss, distractions were few. There were no malls to loiter, no drags to cruise. With no newsstand or bookstore, information was sparse. The only source of outside knowledge was the high school library, a room the size of a modest apartment, which had subscriptions to exactly five magazines: Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, and People. As a teenager, these five magazines were my only connection to the outside world.

Of course, there was no internet yet. Cable television was available to blessed souls in far-off cities, or so we heard, but it did not arrive in Napoleon until my teens, and even then, in a miniaturized grid of 12 UHF channels. (The coax would transmit oddities like WGN and CBN, but not cultural staples like HBO or Nickelodeon. I wanted my MTV in vain.) Before that, only the staticky reception of the big three — ABC, CBS, NBC — arrived via a tangle of rabbit ears. By the time the PBS tower boosted its broadcast reach to Napoleon, I was too old to enjoy Sesame Street.

Out on the prairie, pop culture existed only in the vaguest sense. Not only did I never hear the Talking Heads or Public Enemy or The Cure, I could never have heard of them. With a radio receiver only able to catch a couple FM stations, cranking out classic rock, AC/DC to Aerosmith, the music counterculture of the ’80s would have been a different universe to me. (The edgiest band I heard in high school was The Cars. “My Best Friend’s Girl” was my avant-garde.)

Is this portrait sufficiently remote? Perhaps one more stat: I didn’t meet a black person until I was 16, at a summer basketball camp. I didn’t meet a Jewish person until I was 18, in college.

This was the Deep Midwest in the 1980s. I was a pretty clueless kid."



"“Basically, this story is a controlled experiment,” I continue. “Napoleon is a place that has remained static for decades. The economics, demographics, politics, and geography are the same as when I lived here. In the past twenty-five years, only one thing has changed: technology.”

Photog2 begins to fiddle with an unlit Camel Light, which he clearly wants to go smoke, even if it is 8 degrees below zero outside. But I am finding the rhythm of my pitch.

“All scientific experiments require two conditions: a static environment and a control — a testable variable that changes. Napoleon is the static environment; technology, the control. With all else being equal, this place is the perfect environment to explore societal questions like, What are the effects of mass communications? How has technology transformed the way we form ideas? Does access to information alone make us smarter?”

“How am I supposed to photograph that?” asks Photog2."



"As we discuss other apps on his home screen — YouTube, eBay, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo — I realize that my line of questions are really just attempts to prove or disprove a sentence that I read on the flight to Dakota. The sentence appears on page 20 of Danah Boyd’s book, It’s Complicated, a study of the social lives of networked teens:
What the drive-in was to teens in the 1950s and the mall was in the 1980s, Facebook, texting, Twitter, instant messaging, and other social media are to teens now.

I cannot shake the sentence, which seems to contain between its simple words a secret key, a cipher to crack my inquiries into technology and change. Napoleon didn’t have a drive-in in the 1950s, or a mall in the 1980s, but today it definitely has the same social communications tools used by every kid in the country. By that fact alone, the lives of teenagers in Napoleon must be wildly different than they were 20 years ago. But I lack the social research finesse of Boyd, who could probably interrogate my thesis about technology beyond anecdote. So I change the topic to something I know much better: television."



"Whether with sanguine fondness or sallow regret, all writers remember their first publishing experience — that moment when an unseen audience of undifferentiated proportion absorbs their words from unknown locales.
I remember my first three.

Napoleon had no school newspaper, and minimal access to outside media, so I had no conception of “the publishing process.” Pitching an idea, assigning a story, editing and rewriting — all of that would have baffled me. I had only ever seen a couple of newspapers and a handful of magazines, and none offered a window into its production. (If asked, I would have been unsure if writers were even paid, which now seems prescient.) Without training or access, but a vague desire to participate, boredom would prove my only edge. While listlessly paging through the same few magazines over and over, I eventually discovered a semi-concealed backdoor for sneaking words onto the hallowed pages of print publications: user-generated content.

That’s the ghastly term we use (or avoid using) today for non-professional writing submitted by readers. What was once a letter to the editor has become a comment; editorials, now posts. The basic unit persists, but the quantity and facility have matured. Unlike that conspicuous “What’s on your mind?” input box atop Facebook, newspapers and magazines concealed interaction with readers, reluctant of the opinions of randos. But if you were diligent enough to find the mailing address, often sequestered deep in the back pages, you could submit letters of opinion and other ephemera.

This was publishing to me. My collected works were UGC."



"“What are your favorite apps?”

This time my corny question is fielded by Katelyn, another student who my mother suggests will make a good subject for my harebrained experiment. During her study hall break, we discuss the hectic life of a millennial teenager on the plains. She is already taking college-level courses, lettering in three varsity sports, and the president of the local FFA chapter. (That’s Future Farmers of America, an agricultural youth organization with highly competitive livestock judging and grain grading contests. It’s actually a huge deal in deep rural America, bigger than the Boy and Girl Scouts. Katelyn won the state competition in Farm Business Management category.)

To the app question, she recites the universals of any contemporary young woman: Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest. She mentions The Skimm as a daily news source, which is intriguing, but not as provocative as her next remark: “I don’t have Facebook.”

Whoa, why?

“My parents don’t support social media,” says the 18-year-old. “They didn’t want me to get Facebook when I was younger, so I just never signed up.” This is closer to the isolationist Napoleon that I remember. They might not ban books anymore, but parents can still be very protective.

“How do you survive without Facebook?” I ask. “Do you wish you had it?”

“I go back and forth,” she avers. “It would be easier to connect with people I’ve met through FFA and sports. But I’m also glad I don’t have it, because it’s time-consuming and there’s drama over it.”

She talks like a 35-year-old. So I ask who she will vote for.

“I’m not sure. I like how Bernie Sanders is sounding.”

I tell her a story about a moment in my junior civics class where the teacher asked everyone who was Republican to raise their hand. Twenty-five kids lifted their palms to the sky. The remaining two students called themselves Independents. “My school either had zero Democrats or a few closeted ones,” I conclude.

She is indifferent to my anecdote, so I change the topic to music.

“I listen to older country,” she says. “Garth Brooks, George Strait.” The term “older country” amuses me, but I resist the urge to ask her opinion of Jimmie Rodgers. “I’m not a big fan of hardcore rap or heavy metal,” she continues. “I don’t understand heavy metal. I don’t know why you would want to listen to it.”

So no interest in driving three hours in the snow to see AC/DC at the Fargodome last night?

“No, I just watched a couple Snapchat stories of it.”

Of course she did.

While we talk, a scratchy announcement is broadcast over the school-wide intercom. A raffle drawing ticket is being randomly selected. I hear Jaden’s name announced as the winner of the gigantic teddy bear in my mother’s office.
I ask Katelyn what novel she read as a sophomore, the class year that The Catcher in the Rye was banned from my school. When she says Fahrenheit 451, I feel like the universe has realigned for me in some cosmic perfection.

But my time is running out, and again I begin to wonder whether she is proving or disproving my theories of media and technology. It’s difficult to compare her life to mine at that age. Katelyn is undoubtedly more focused and mature than any teenager I knew in the ’80s, but this is the stereotype of all millennials today. Despite her many accomplishments, she seems to suppress the hallmark characteristic of her ambitious generation: fanatic self-regard. Finally, I ask her what she thinks her life will be like in 25 years.

“I hope I’ll be married, and probably have kids,” she says decisively. “I see myself in a rural area. Maybe a little bit closer to Bismarck or Fargo. But I’m definitely in North Dakota.”

I tell her that Jaden gave essentially the same answer to the question. Why do you think that is?

“The sense of a small community,” she says, using that word again. “Everyone knows each other. It’s a big family.”"
internet  technology  rexsorgatz  2016  isolation  cv  web  online  culture  distraction  media  film  music  quietude  publishing  writing  worldliness  rural  howwelive  thenandnow  change  community  smalltowns  schools  education  journalism  books  censorship  fahrenheit451  raybradbury  thecatcherintherye  jdsalinger  newspapers  communication  socialmedia  snapchat  facebook  instagram  pinterest  theskimm  news  danahboyd  youtube  ebay  yahoo  twitter  videogames  gaming  subcultures  netflix  teens  youth  connectivity  childhood  college  universities  highered  highereducation  midwest  television  tv  cable  cabletv  cosmopolitanism  urban  urbanism  interneturbanism  1980s  northdakota  homogeneity  diversity  apclasses  aps  religion  ethnicity  race  exposure 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Will · We’re Trying To Do “The Wrong Thing Right” in...
[Also here: https://medium.com/@willrich45/we-re-trying-to-do-the-wrong-thing-right-in-schools-210ce8f85d35#.g134rm67t ]

"Whenever I think about the way most schools are structured today, I always come back to the same question: Do we do the things we do because they’re better for kids or because they are easier for us? For instance: separating kids by age in school. Is that something we do because kids learn better that way? Or do we do it because it’s just an easier way organizing our work? I think all of us know the answer to that. And there are quite a few other comparisons like those that are worth thinking about:

• Do kids learn better when we separate out the content into different subjects, or is it just easier for us?
• Do kids learn better when we have every one of them pretty much go through the same curriculum in the same way, or is it just easier for us?
• Do kids learn better when we have them turn off all of their technology in school, or is it just easier for us?
• Do kids learn better when we we assess them all the same way, or is it just easier for us?
• Do kids learn better when we decide what they should learn and how they should learn it, or is it just easier for us?
• Do kids learn better in 50 or 90 minute blocks, or is it just easier for us?

To be sure, these are not new questions, nor are they unique to my thinking. Many of us in the edu online community have been writing about these things for years. As with much of the “we need to change schools” conversation, it’s another part of the repeatedly articulated argument that appeals to common sense but hasn’t much moved the needle when it comes do doing things any differently in schools.

So why bring it up yet again? Well, for me at least, two words: Russell Ackoff.

A couple of weeks ago, thanks to some serendipitous surfing online, I came across this 10-minute snip of an interview with Ackoff, a pioneer in the field of systems thinking who was a professor at the Wharton School prior to his death in 2009. I was staggered a bit after watching it because he was able to articulate something I have been feeling for a while now but had been unable to find the words for:
“Peter Drucker said ‘There’s a difference between doing things right and doing the right thing.’ Doing the right thing is wisdom, and effectiveness. Doing things right is efficiency. The curious thing is the righter you do the wrong thing the wronger you become. If you’re doing the wrong thing and you make a mistake and correct it you become wronger. So it’s better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right. Almost every major social problem that confronts us today is a consequence of trying to do the wrong things righter.”

Here’s the video. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzS5V5-0VsA ]

I’ve been thinking about Ackoff pretty much consistently since I watched it, and the application of that lens to our current practice in schools is profound. Can there be a more apt example of trying to “do the wrong thing right” than in schools? Look again at that list above. Are we in search of efficiency, or effectiveness?

I think the answer is obvious. If you watch the clip, you’ll hear Ackoff dive into the education issue head on. He says, and I agree, that the system is not about learning (effectiveness). It’s about teaching (efficiency). And believe me, I understand why we have that focus. Given our devotion to an overstuffed curriculum, standardized tests, “college and career readiness” and more, about the only way we can see our students navigating the school experience is to “teach” it, to organize it, pace it, and assess it in some way that allows us to confer the adjective “educated” to each student. This despite the obvious truth that the vast majority of what we “learn” in school is quickly forgotten, and the truest “education” for our life’s work comes on the job, not in school.

Sadly, “doing the right thing” for our kids in schools is difficult. In education, our structures, our histories, our nostalgia for trying to do the “wrong thing right” runs deep. Regardless of how we got here (and the story is complex [http://hackeducation.com/2015/04/25/factory-model ],) we are profoundly wedded to what now constitutes this “education system” that dominates our learning world. The roles and expectations of students and teachers and administrators and parents are so clearly reinforced by our own experience, our cultural representations, and by those who have millions of dollars invested in the status quo that any serious suggestion that we might be doing the “wrong thing” is simply layered over by a new initiative, a new technology, a new curriculum, or a new success story to avoid having to grapple with the more fundamental question.

But that will not work for much longer. The contexts for learning and education have changed. As Ackoff says in his book Turning Learning Right Side Up [http://www.amazon.com/Turning-Learning-Right-Side-Education/dp/0132887630/ ]:
There is no way that the vast majority of teachers, whatever their training, can ever hope to match in their classrooms what students can receive at will from sources of their own choosing (14).

Unfortunately, the vast majority of schools I’ve visited continue to try to do the “wrong thing right.” While few teachers or administrators really believe that learning happens best when kids are grouped by age, or when they are all forced to learn the same things on the same day in the same way, or when we chop up what we’ve chosen for the content into 50-minute periods and different subjects, we do that stuff anyway. And, if you look at the recent Gallup survey of engagement [http://www.gallup.com/services/189926/student-poll-2015-results.aspx ] of almost 1 million students across the US, trying to do the “wrong thing right” is having devastating consequences. Of high school juniors, just 32% say they are “involved and enthusiastic” in school, 17% say they have fun at school, 17% say they “get to do what they do best,” and 16% say they “will invent something that changes the world.”

Read those numbers again, and ask yourself can we possibly be doing the right thing? Can we possibly label our current practices as “effective?”

As with most addictions, the first step to changing this is to admit we have a problem. The signs that we are reaching “peak education” in the traditional system are becoming more and more apparent by the day. (More about that in a later post.) And while I’m not naive enough to suggest that policy makers and vendors and many educators are at all ready to begin the process of moving away from a focus on efficiency toward a focus on effectiveness, that shouldn’t stop individual teachers or school systems from starting down that path.

Doing the right thing in schools starts with one fairly straightforward question: What do you believe about how kids learn most powerfully and deeply in their lives? Once you’ve answered that as an individual and as a school community, the question that follows is does your practice in classrooms with kids honor those beliefs? In other words, if you believe that kids learn best when they have authentic reasons for learning, when their work lives in the world in some real way, when they are pursuing answers to questions that they themselves find interesting, when they’re not constrained by a schedule or a curriculum, when they are having fun, and when they can learn with other students and teachers, then are you giving priority to those conditions in the classroom? Are you acting on your beliefs?

I’m working with districts where this is the root question, and where the answer is the fundamental driver for every decision made within the system. It’s a recognition that the roles and responsibilities of the system have irrevocably changed due to the shifts in the world we’ve seen over the last two decades. And it’s also a recognition that we have to approach our work with children from an entirely different angle than what we are accustomed to. But make no mistake, it’s a long, difficult process of change to endure.

This is not the first time in our history that we’ve faced such a seismic shift in our needs regarding schools and education. As Ackoff writes:
Here, a culture declaring itself to be the protector of individual liberty, and affording seemingly boundless opportunities for the expression of personal freedom, the challenge of creating a large, docile population that would accept the dominance of the factory system in their lives was enormous. In the first decades of the nineteenth century, it became clear that the only way to succeed with industrializing (and hence modernizing) this country was to find a way to break the inherently free human spirit during childhood (Kindle 177.)

As we are confronted with “modernizing” this country once again, it’s a focus on that “inherently free human spirit during childhood” that is once again at the core of our work. But instead of finding ways to break that spirit in children, this time around we must “do the right thing” and allow it to flourish in profound and beautiful ways for learning."
2016  willrichardson  russellackoff  peterdrucker  unschooling  deschooling  learning  education  schools  schooldesign  lcproject  openstudioproject  howwelearn  teaching  efficience  data  childhood  children  school  agesegregation  disciplines  interdisciplinary  efficiency  edtech  politics  policy  schedules  scheduling  assessment  curriculum  sfsh 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Another look at museum nostalgia – Suzanne Fischer
"The new issue of Curator includes a fascinating article about nostalgia in museum contexts. The authors, David Anderson, Hiroyuki Shimizu, and Chris Campbell, interviewed 35 visitors to a museum of Showa-era Japan about what objects and exhibits prompted them to feel nostalgia. (“…nostalgia is a pan-cultural emotion shared by all humans regardless of nation or culture,” they assert, drawing on psychology research.) Visitor answers tracked with what we often see anecdotally in museums: objects relating to visitors’ youths promote memories of rosy good old days. This particular museum is designed specifically as a place to revisit household items, product packaging, etc, from this era of prosperity, so it is unsurprising that visitors had the reactions they did, telling stories about their childhoods and what they described as vanished cultural values.

The authors propose a typology of nostalgia that arose from the research results:

1. Objects tied to collective identity and values perceived to be lost.

2. Objects used or consumed as part of visitors’ life scripts.

3. Objects associated with individuals dear to the visitor.

4. Objects associated with childhood.

5. Objects that invoked vicarious nostalgia.

The fifth theme is a useful one, “vicarious nostalgia,” a longing for a time one has not experienced. It is also, in my opinion, the most corrosive. It settles like dust over the things of the past and hardens into an unscrubbable patina. Svetlana Boym, the late author of The Future of Nostalgia, might describe it as “reflective nostalgia,” a nostalgia that focuses on the longing for another place, rather than what she calls “restorative nostalgia,” a nostalgia that hopes to recreate the past, and in which category all the rest of the themes reside.

It is useful, certainly, to have visitor studies backing up our hunches that, as the authors of the Curator paper put it, “Like old friends, museum exhibits hold the capacity to usher in a suite of nostalgic and heartfelt memories of loved ones and time of lives long gone.” But to what end? Ushering in a suite of nostalgic memories cannot be our goal in making history exhibits–and if it is, it is a cowardly goal. I believe that as public historians we have a responsibility to show the past with blinders off, to engage visitors with the parts of the past they didn’t see, or may not want to remember. Simply reminding visitors that they lived through the past, simply evoking nostalgia, is an abdication. Evoking nostalgia is easy. Engaging visitors in the real past is hard, and it’s our job."
suzannefischer  2016  museums  objects  nostalgia  davidanderson  hiroyukishimizu  chriscampbell  japan  childhood  identity  vicariousnostalgia  svetlanaboym  patina  reflectivenostalgia  restorativenostalgia  past  history 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Magnetic Letters Taught Us More Than How to Spell
"Psychologists are still studying “colored hearing.” They call it synesthesia, and it’s expanded to include more than just colors associated with hearing a letter spoken out loud. Associations between letters and colors are the most common form of synesthesia, but you can also get associations between numbers and colors, sounds and smells, even swimming styles and colors.

In 2012, Nathan Witthoft, then a Ph.D. student in psychology at MIT, put group of synesthetes through a series of color-matching tests. During the course of the study, he noticed something odd.  “For this one person, every sixth letter was the same color,” he said. “When I asked them why, they said they had learned it from this toy”—specifically, from the plastic letters included in Fisher-Price’s School Days Desk playset.

Today, those plastic letters are at the center of a scientific debate over what synesthesia is and how it begins. For more than a century scientists have been asking how synesthetes’ brains make connections between colors and letters. Now, it turns out that question could have implications for everyone—how we learn and how we remember.

The School Days Desk came out in 1972. It was one of the first projects toy designer Victor Reiling worked on for Fisher-Price. Just a couple years before, Reiling had been the captain of a Navy ship stationed off the coast of Vietnam."
synesthesia  children  childhood  2016  psychology  colors  toys  letters  words  maggiekoerth-baker  marycalkins  nathanwitthoft 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Free-range education: Why the unschooling movement is growing - CSMonitor.com
"“Unschooling takes learning out of the realm of the school,” says Patrick Farenga of HoltGWS LLC, which works to continue the late educator’s mission. “It’s ‘What do you want to learn today? How do you want to set this up?’ Educators still don’t get this. They have bought into the idea that the only learning that matters is the learning they can grade in school.”

From its beginning, unschooling attracted a small but steady band of followers. “It has had some bohemian chic for 40 years,” says Stanford University sociologist Mitchell Stevens, who wrote the 2001 book “Kingdom of Children: Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement.” “It was out-there cool when John Holt championed it in the 1970s. It’s always getting rediscovered.”

But increasingly, Professor Stevens and others who have studied unschooling say, the practice is losing its rebel, alternative ethos. Although regulations differ state by state (one reason why accurate statistics on the movement are difficult to pin down), unschooling in some form is legal everywhere in the country. And the families who do it are increasingly mainstream, middle-class, and educated.

In a survey of some 5,500 home-schooling families, filmmakers Dustin Woodard and Jeremy Stuart, whose documentary about unschooling, “Class Dismissed,” came out in 2014, found that the vast majority of unschooling parents (almost 89 percent) were married, and 91 percent had at least some college experience. Almost half live in the suburbs, while the rest are split fairly evenly between urban and rural areas. Almost all say they are satisfied or extremely satisfied with their choice to unschool their children – whether because they have more time as a family, are able to travel more, or see their children learning successfully. While many unschoolers say they are opting out of the national obsession with college admissions and standardized test scores, literature about unschooling regularly mentions how unschoolers are often accepted into top colleges.

All of this, education experts say, means that unschooling is becoming a less risky choice for parents and increasingly represents a viable alternative to a public school system that has received a lot of bad press in recent years.

“My impression is that the drive to unschooling is in part a reaction to concerns that formal schooling has become too standardized,” says Kevin Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center, a Colorado-based research center. “Parents who are looking at sending a child to public school are likely to be more concerned now than a decade ago.”

While some critics have accused unschoolers and other home-schoolers of undermining the public school system by abandoning it rather than working for reform, many parents say they simply can’t wait for better schools. They want to do what’s right for their children now.

This is particularly true, says Cheryl Fields-Smith of the University of Georgia College of Education, among a growing number of minority families. Although home-schooling has the reputation of being a predominantly white enterprise, new statistics suggest that African-American and Latino families make up a rapidly growing number of unschooling families.

In her study of home-schooling families around the Atlanta area, Professor Fields-Smith found that many black families have essentially decided that it is a greater risk to keep their children – particularly boys – in school than to take them out.

For reasons that ranged from the perceived quickness of administrators to label black boys as “troublemakers,” to potential violence at schools, to a desire for a more holistic education at home, black families saw home-schooling as a way to protect their children and give them a better future. And although many black parents started out with more-rigid curriculum plans – “there’s not as much freedom in black families, because they know the odds are stacked against their children as soon as they walk out the door,” she points out – they tended to move toward unschooling as they went along.

At first, Fields-Smith says, this surprised her, given the long African-American history of fighting for quality public education. “But when you dig you see that we’ve always been determined to be self-taught,” she says. “When we were denied resources for school we did it ourselves ... I see this as a new iteration of the long history of [African-Americans] fighting for education.”

Mr. Stuart says that many of the parents he interviewed – black, white, and Latino – simply no longer believe the old equation that public schools will lead to college degrees that will lead to jobs that will lead to a good life. They see a decided lack of stability coming from traditional employment routes, with a particular absence of jobs for the middle class, the socioeconomic group that the vast majority of unschoolers belong to. Unschooling, they believe, may well give their children an advantage in an economy that values fresh, independent thinkers.

This sentiment shows up in Diane Flynn Keith’s unschooling workshops in Silicon Valley. Ms. Keith, who unschooled her own children, says her sessions are filled with tech industry employees and entrepreneurs, all excited about taking a different approach to education.

“People who are involved in the technology industry now, when they’re at work, they’re challenged to think out of the box,” Keith says. “They are challenging old norms. And the moment you begin to challenge one tradition you begin to challenge them all ... then they have children and they begin to think, well, what is this school thing? And why do we keep doing it the same way?”

With more parents taking the unschooling plunge, businesses have grown up to support them. There are international learning trips designed for unschoolers, a popular “not back to school” camp for unschooled teens, and self-directed learning co-ops and various school-like organizations, such as the busy Parts and Crafts Center for Semiconducted Learning in Somerville, Mass. There, 7- to 13-year-olds can either hang out or take classes ranging from computer animation to debate to fantasy geography.

“Look at this,” says 9-year-old Verity Gould, sitting with her laptop one recent morning in the eclectic library area of Parts and Crafts. She was eager to share a few of the cartoon animations she had built with the programming language Scratch. “This is way better than school.”"
unschooling  deschooling  parenting  children  childhood  education  johnholt  demographics  resistance  race  lifestyle  cv  freedom  society  democracy  community  2016  stephaniehanes  patfarenga  michaelapple  dustinwoodard  jeremystuart  cherylfields-smith 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The History of American Childhood / Backlist
"Contemporary American attitudes about childhood are rife with paradox. We’re convinced that our children are overprotected (this is a sentiment that seems politics-proof, reaching across party lines), yet parents find it impossible to step back from the many protective measures put in place over the past century. (Who wants to be the first one on the block to let their kid walk to school alone?) Or how about this: we’re convinced that our children are overprotected, yet 22 percent of American children live in families whose household incomes fall beneath the poverty level. These children, as well as black kids like Tamir Rice (shot to death by police at age twelve), are denied the protections accorded their upper- and middle-class counterparts. What is “childhood innocence,” and who gets to benefit from it?

Historians of childhood can offer crucial context, showing how children’s lives have changed over time. But the field of childhood studies, which blends a strong historical perspective with critical assessment of the evolution of attitudes and ideologies around childhood, is full of interesting theoretical approaches to the kinds of paradoxes above.

Here are ten books that can help you figure out how we came to be so confused about childhood.

PLACES TO START

Steven Mintz, Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood (2004).

This is a synthetic history of childhood that surveys a lot of finer-grained historical work on the social, political, and cultural changes that have affected American children’s lives between the colonial period and the present. Huck’s Raft is a great starting point if you want to know the historical basics—What was it like to be an enslaved child? What kinds of protections did children working in industrial workplaces have? When did a majority of American children gain access to public school?—and offers a solid bibliography with leads to the foundational work in the field.

Ann Hulbert, Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children (2003).

Another broad history, this one of American parenting advice in the twentieth century, amplifies some of the discussions in Huck’s Raft. Hulbert traces the influence of religion, psychology, and social science on American ideas about the proper shape of a good childhood. The sources Hulbert taps—infant-care manuals, government pamphlets, the famous Dr. Spock—are invaluable in revealing how concepts about childhood manifested themselves in pragmatic advice to those directly responsible for children’s care. Raising America, which is a trade book written by a journalist, is also very fun to read.

Viviana Zelizer, Pricing the Priceless Child: The Changing Social Value of Children (1985).

A book by a sociologist that you will find cited in almost every history of American childhood, Pricing the Priceless Child has a simple and irresistible thesis: just as American children were removed from the workforce in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, becoming what Zelizer calls “economically useless,” they were sentimentalized—made “emotionally priceless.” Zelizer looks at life insurance rates and the outcomes of wrongful death suits, showing through the seemingly impersonal records of courts and actuaries how children’s lives took on new significance.

Carolyn Steedman, Strange Dislocations: Childhood and the Idea of Human Interiority, 1780-1930 (1995).

When I took a graduate seminar in childhood studies with Julia Mickenberg at the University of Texas at Austin, she assigned this dense book, which initially terrified and then deeply engaged everyone in the class. Steedman looks at the way the figure of Mignon, the child acrobat character who appears in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s novel Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (1795-6), popped up across genres in the nineteenth century. But Steedman also taps archives of performance, medicine, science, law, and psychology, drawing connections between Mignon’s various appearances in literature and on stage and new ideas about what it might mean to have a self. I’m including this as a “Places to Start” book, despite its high level of difficulty, because it is a book that shows how ambitious childhood studies can be.

DIGGING IN

Karen Sánchez-Eppler, Dependent States: The Child’s Part in Nineteenth-Century American Culture (2005).

Most of the books on this list are about the twentieth century, but Karen Sánchez-Eppler’s Dependent States is (like the Steedman) an inspiring example of how to write about the theory of childhood within a specific historical period. Sanchez Eppler shows how nineteenth-century American adults thought through ideas about dependence, freedom, and citizenship by using children—real and fictional—as exemplars. The author is also great at writing about the way we can, or can’t, hear the voices of children while writing the history of childhood—another theoretical question that will pop up in most childhood studies books.

Kenneth B. Kidd, Making American Boys: Boyology and the Feral Tale (2004).

Starting at the end of the nineteenth century, psychologists and self-appointed “boy workers” at organizations like the YMCA, the Boy Scouts, and 4-H conversed among themselves regarding the correct conditions necessary for the production of an “upstanding” American boy. There are other histories of the Boy Scouts that are more complete, but Kidd’s book explores the way that ideas about ferality and domesticity, stemming from psychoanalysis and literature, shaped the pronouncements of those put in charge of “making boys.” Kidd makes it clear that the normative ideas about gender and age that still govern our conversations about growing up had deep roots in this era.

Nicholas Sammond, Babes in Tomorrowland: Walt Disney and the Making of the American Child, 1930-1960 (2005).

More work on constructed ideas of normality, but in this case intertwined most fascinatingly with a history of Disney. We commonly think of media as a corrupter of children, but Sammond shows how, in the early evolution of the American children’s media marketplace, developmental science was a key player. Disney’s ability to market itself as Better For Children was made possible by its alliance with social scientists who claimed knowledge of children’s minds, and its evocation of ideals of patriotism that focused on the child as the symbolic American. Read along with the Hulbert for maximum impact.

Marta Gutman and Ning De Coninck-Smith, eds. Designing Modern Childhoods: History, Space, and the Material Culture of Children (2008).

A collection of essays about twentieth-century purpose-built environments for children, ranging across the United States and the world. Each essay, whether by a social historian or a historian of architecture or design, keys into the idea outlined in John R. Gillis’s epilogue on “The Islanding of Children”: kids in Western cultures have been increasingly sidelined in “mythical landscapes” of their own. Essays on postwar “adventure playgrounds” in the UK, children’s hospitals in Canada, and birthday parties in the United States offer scope for imagination.

NEW MOVES

Lee Edelman, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (2004).

This book left blisters on the hands of my grad school reading group when we tackled it while preparing for oral exams. It’s probably the most abstract of the titles I have recommended here (it’s not really a history). Many books in childhood studies explore the way children come to stand in for “the future”—especially white, middle-class children—and talk about what that has meant for the shape of American politics and literature, and for children themselves. Edelman looks at that common association and shows how it’s been deployed against queerness. The argument turned everything we had been reading about on its head, in a most satisfying way.

Robin Bernstein, Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights (2011).

The paradigms of performance studies come to bear on childhood in Bernstein’s book about violence, innocence, and race. The idea of childhood innocence—another through-line in the literature of childhood studies—was crafted in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Bernstein shows how the quality came to adhere to white children rather than black—trying to illustrate everyday attitudes by analyzing material and visual culture, and making arguments about how their uses transferred these qualities of innocence to their users. You will never look at a Raggedy Ann doll the same way again."
books  booklists  rebeccaonion  history  childhood  children  stevenmintz  annhulbert  vivianazelizer  carolynsteedman  karensánchez-eppler  kennethkidd  nicholas  sammond  martagutman  ningdeconinck-smith  leeedelman  robinbernstein  race  gender  queer  queerness  feral  boys  us  culture  society 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Go Back to School With Mike Kelley's "Educational Complex" | Art for Sale | Artspace
"Though he has been based in Los Angeles since 1976, Mike Kelley’s birthplace of Detroit has always been a locus of his practice, as has his working method of creating psychologically charged architecture—as scale models and as life size environments—for chaotic, often scatological accumulations of personal memories and cultural detritus. Examples include works in which an imagined territory gives structure to a larger narrative, as with the landscape photographs in Three Valleys (1980) or the drawings in Monkey Island (1982-83); sculptural landscapes composed of found children’s blankets and pathetic pre-owned dolls or pet toys, such as Mooner or Arena 5 (both 1990); and the sock monkeys and related stuffed animals grouped and organized on generic industrial work tables in Craft Morphology Flow Chart (1991).

Kelley’s integration of personal, architectural, and cultural memory reached its apotheosis in 1995 with Educational Complex. In American culture of the 1980s and 1990s, the suburban school became a territory heavily charged with symbolism in the wake of several high-profile school shootings and child-abuse cases. Locations such as Columbine, Colorado, and Manhattan Beach, California—home of the McMartin preschool, another subject of Kelley’s—are indelibly etched in the American psyche as painful examples of aggression or “repressed memory syndrome” incubated in neighborhoods that had once held promise for upwardly mobile families fleeing the inner city. In Kelley’s work, this dark and paranoid side of American culture is exploited and filtered through the artist’s own memories of his childhood experiences in Detroit, one of the most economically blighted cities in the United States. Like other American artists, such as Paul McCarthy, who mines the territory of his own Mormon upbringing, or Matthew Barney, who has used the American West as the cinematic backdrop for his epic films, Kelley is interested in icons of the benign relics of his own psyche—in his case, the wishing well, the office, the museum, the classroom.

In 1995, addressing what he calls his “bias against architecture” Kelley created Educational Complex, a tabletop model that delineates the psychogeography of his childhood by reconstructing from memory the schools he attended and the house in which he grew up. “Buildings that I had occupied almost every day for years could barely be recalled. The teachers, courses and activities held within them are a vast undifferentiated swamp.” Generated through a process of drawing and modeling, the complex of structures was a combination of excavation and spatialization of memory. Classrooms, hallways and offices were recalled, drawn, and then matched to actual floorplans. The resulting form became a conflation of the two.

The gaps in memory—the lapses and repressed moments—are represented by actual blanks in the architecture of the model, spaces filled in. Doors recalled as opening on the left are represented as doing so on the right, while other mistakes are left uncorrected, representing what Anthony Vidler has called “a nostalgia for the homely.” As Kelley has said, “In utopian projects, moral and aesthetic dimensions are presented, often openly and dramatically, as mirrors of each other. Of course, my project is a perversion of such an attitude: I present an obviously dystopian architecture, reflecting our true, chaotic social conditions, rather than some idealized dream of wholeness.”"

[See also: http://aaaaarg.fail/thing/55a76208334fe06cd8fdc2cd]]

"One of the most influential artists of our time, Mike Kelley (1954--2012) produced a body of innovative work mining American popular culture as well as modernist and postmodernist art -- relentless examinations of subjectivity and of society that are both sinister and ecstatic. With a wide range of media, Kelley's work explores themes as varied as post-punk politics, religious systems, social class, and repressed memory. Using architectural models to represent schools he attended, his 1995 work, Educational Complex, presents forgotten spaces as frames for private trauma, real or imagined. The work's implications are at once miniature and massive. In this book, John Miller offers an illustrated examination of this milestone work that marked a significant change in Kelley's practice. A "complex" can mean an architectural configuration, a psychological syndrome, or a political apparatus, and Miller approaches Educational Complex through corresponding lines of inquiry, considering the making of the work, examining it in terms of education and trauma (sexual or otherwise), and investigating how it tests the ideological horizon of art as an institution. Miller shows that in Educational Complex, Kelley expands his political and aesthetic focus, including not only such artifacts as generic forms of architecture but (inspired by the infamous McMartin Preschool case) popular fantasies associated with ritual sex abuse and false memory syndrome. Through this archaeology of the contemporary, Miller argues, Kelley examines the mandate for education and the liberal democratic premises underpinning it."]
mikekelley  art  architecture  childhood  schools  memory  1995  psychogeography  detroit  2015  buildings 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Apple’s Modernism, Google’s Modernism: Some reflections on Alphabet, Inc. and a suggestion that modernist architect Adolf Loos would be totally into Soylent | Works Cited
"These temporal aesthetics, Google’s included, tell us something about the repurposing of modernist style for post-Fordist capital. Modernist style still succeeds in evoking newnesses even when wholly “unoriginal” because it so successfully dehistoricizes.20) That it still totally works, and that it remains congenial to capital in the face of capital’s transformations, hints that we have in modernist ideology a powerful actor.

Consequently, the study of early twentieth-century style can be understood as neither irrelevant nor innocent. The quasi-Darwinian, developmentalist ideologies of Silicon Valley have their correlates in styles that disguise their basic violence as design. Its results are, among other things, political transformations of the Bay Area that seek to do to San Francisco what Rob Rinehart did to his apartment—rely heavily on exploited labor that has been geographically displaced. It imagines people of the future living side by side with people who lag behind—but not literally side by side of course! because the laggards commute from Vallejo. Anyone who isn’t on board with the spatial segregation of the temporally disparate is an “enemy of innovation.” Again, this is actually less about time than about hierarchy. After all, the temporal difference between any two people in existence at the same time is completely made up: it’s an effect of style, which is in turn (if we follow Loos’s logic) a proxy for economic dominance. Time is, so to speak, money."
modernism  nataliacecire  2015  apple  google  siliconvalley  design  economics  atemporality  robrinehart  adolfloos  childhood  primitivism  developmentalism  aphabet  puerility  naomischor  siannengai  power  systemsthinking  displacement  innovation  ideology  californianideology  history  newness  exploitation  labor  segregation  hierarchy  technology  technosolutionism  domination 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Cas Holman; Identity in Play - YouTube
"Cas Holman talks about the inspiration behind her work designing for play, education, creativity and childhood. She explains the link between play and identity and the importance of imagination in both. Cas is a Professor of Industrial Design at RISD. Video by Jason Greene."

[See also: http://casholman.com/About-Cas-1
https://www.fastcodesign.com/3048508/the-case-for-letting-kids-design-their-own-play ]

[via: http://tumblr.austinkleon.com/post/124594623136 ]
casholman  toys  play  gender  identity  education  childhood  children  via:austinkleon  design 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Preparing Our Kids for Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet — Making DIY — Medium
"Childhood passions that seem like fads, sometimes even totally unproductive, could be mediums for experiencing the virtuous cycle of curiosity: discovering, trying, failing and growing."

"When I was 11 I loved designing web pages and playing Sim City. Adults in my life didn’t recognize these skills as valuable, so neither did I. Actually, I began to feel guilty for using my computer so much. In high school I stopped making web pages altogether to focus on sports. It wasn’t until college, when strapped to pay my tuition, that I picked it back up and started making sites for small businesses. I graduated and teamed up with a few others I knew with these skills and moved to New York City to work on the Internet for a living. Three years later, in 2007, we sold our company, Vimeo, to a larger, publicly traded one. That passion I first developed quietly by myself, that went unnoticed by my parents and teachers, proved to be extraordinarily valuable to the economy just ten years later and the focus of many ambitious people today.

It’s difficult to predict which skills will be valuable in the future, and even more challenging to see the connection between our children’s interests and these skills. Nothing illustrates this better than Minecraft, a popular game that might be best described as virtual LEGOs. Calling it a game belies the transformation it has sparked: An entire generation is learning how to create 3D models using a computer. It makes me wonder what sort of jobs, entertainment or art will be possible now. Cathy Davidson, a scholar of learning technology, concluded that 65% of children entering grade school this year will end up working in careers that haven’t even been invented yet. I bet today’s kids will eventually explore outcomes and create businesses only made possible by the influence of Minecraft in their lives.

At least one business will have been inspired by the so-called game. In 2011, I co-founded DIY, the online community I wish I had when I was young. Our members use discover new skills and try challenges in order to learn them. They keep a portfolio and share pictures and videos of their progress, and by doing so they attract other makers who share their interests and offer feedback. The skills we promote range from classics likes Chemistry and Writing, to creativity like Illustration and Special Effects, to adventure like Cartography and Sailing, to emerging technology like Web Development and Rapid Prototyping. We create most of our skill curriculum in collaboration with our members. Recently the community decided to make Roleplayer an official skill; It’s a fascinating passion that involves collaboratively authoring stories in real time.

My objective with this wide-ranging set of skills, and involving the community so closely in their development, is to give kids the chance to practice whatever makes them passionate now and feel encouraged — even if they’re obsessed with making stuff exclusively with duct tape. It’s crucial that kids learn how to be passionate for the rest of their lives. To start, they must first learn what it feels like to be simultaneously challenged and confident. It’s my instinct that we should not try to introduce these experiences through skills we value as much as look for opportunities to develop them, as well as creativity and literacy, in the skills they already love.

Whether it’s Minecraft or duct tape wallets, the childhood passions that seem like fads, sometimes even totally unproductive, can alternatively be seen as mediums for experiencing the virtuous cycle of curiosity: discovering, trying, failing and growing. At DIY, we’ve created a way for kids to explore hundreds of skills and to understand the ways in which they can be creative through them. Often, the skills are unconventional, and almost always the results are surprising. I don’t think it’s important that kids use the skills they learn on DIY for the rest of their lives. What’s important is that kids develop the muscle to be fearless learners so that they are never stuck with the skills they have. Only this will prepare them for a world where change is accelerating and depending on a single skill to provide a lifetime career is becoming impossible."

[Also posted here: https://www.edsurge.com/n/2015-05-26-how-minecraft-and-duct-tape-wallets-prepare-our-kids-for-jobs-that-don-t-exist-yet ]
zachklein  diy.org  education  2015  unschooling  deschooling  childhood  learning  howwelearn  minecraft  passion  change  creativity  invention  cathydavidson  simcity  webdesign  discovery  failure  informallearning  game  gaming  videogames  making  webdev 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Children prefer simple pleasures to organised trips, research finds - Telegraph
"While parents shell out an average of £183 per child on day trips over the course of a six-week summer holiday, their children would be happier doing simple and free activities such as playing with friends or going for bike rides.

The findings are in a survey by the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, which asked 1,500 children aged between 5 and 11 to rank their favourite summer-time activities in order of preference.

Playing in the park or in the garden was ranked as the top pastime. Mud pie-making, tree-climbing and feeding the ducks also came in the top ten.

The first activity that would cost children’s parents money was named as going to the cinema, which was the 12th most popular pastime and came after planting flowers and picking berries.

Psychologists said the survey proved that children enjoy simple outdoor pleasures more than organised trips, which often involve hours in the car. Meanwhile parents admitted they spend so much on activities because they feel guilty that their children might get bored.

Youngsters even said that they prefer flying kites and playing in a paddling pool to going to the zoo. Surprisingly, playing on a computer was ranked as one of the least favourite summer activities.

Dr Linda Papadopoulos, a child psychologist, said: “While parents are busy spending money on costly activities to ensure their kids have a good summer, children mostly value the simple pleasures that summer brings. In terms of pleasure per penny, it’s the everyday outdoor fun which takes little time or money to organise that far outweighs the more orchestrated expensive excursions.”

Almost half of the children said they preferred playing in familiar places such as the back garden or local park than places they have not been to before.

The supermarket also questioned 2,000 parents as part of its Kids’ Simple Pleasures Per Penny Index. Parents said that they book at least one day trip or paid-for excursion per week over the six-week summer holiday, spending an average of £183 per child per holiday.

A third of parents said that they organised weekly trips to make their lives easier over the holiday period.

Four in ten adults said they had increased their spending on holiday excursions compared with last year despite the economic downturn.

Despite spending so much on their children, seven in 10 parents admitted that their most cherished childhood memories involved playing with friends or having “simple” fun in the garden.
Dr Papadopoulos said: “Summer memories last us a lifetime and parents can learn a lot from what their children have told us in this study.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “The summer holidays can be particularly expensive, especially for families, but it doesn’t have to be a burden if we take the lead from our youngsters and reappraise the value of the simple everyday pleasures loved by all.”"
children  parenting  play  2012  boredom  entertainment  everyday  small  slow  childhood  memory  summer 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Calvin And Hobbes embodied the voice of the lonely child · For Our Consideration · The A.V. Club
"There is a mythic Calvin And Hobbes strip that’s been bouncing around the internet for years. No one’s quite sure where it came from or who’s responsible for it. Part of its mystery is likely because it’s purported to be the lost final installment of the series, drawn by Bill Watterson himself. In it, a serious looking Calvin toils away at his schoolwork while Hobbes looks on. The tiger is curious that his friend is being so diligent about his studies, and the boy responds that “the pills” he’s taking have started working. Hobbes then asks Calvin to go play, but Calvin is too absorbed in his project to take notice. The final panel is the tiger as “just” a stuffed animal, with Calvin indifferent to the change. It is, in every sense of the word, an abomination.

This is not an actual installment of Calvin And Hobbes, and is instead a repurposed strip with a preachy message warning against the dangers of medicating children and ruining their creativity forever. There are any number of ways that this goes against the inherent spirit of the comic, but I will focus my disdain to a single point. Calvin And Hobbes was never about hyperactivity and Hobbes himself was never a manifestation of undiagnosed mania: He was a manifestation of pure, unadulterated loneliness.

Loneliness is a funny thing because generally it has less to do with being alone and more to do with not having other people around. That sounds paradoxical, but being alone and being isolated from your peers are two very different things. The former is a choice, the latter a decree. In truth, it’s even more complicated than that, as loneliness can strike at any time, even when surrounded by people. That niggling sense that maybe you don’t belong is all it needs to gain a foothold.

For as much as the brain of a child is growing and changing and maturing, for as many distractions as the world provides to developing minds, kids aren’t stupid, particularly children as highly sensitive and attuned to the world around them as Calvin. Disappearing into his own world is a coping mechanism for dealing with a world that seems to have little patience or place for him. His isolation breeds fantasy, which breeds isolation, which does him no favors at school or at home. To be a lonely child in the world means creating your own fun, your own friends, your own magic.



Calvin didn’t have trouble focusing on the world around him, he had trouble reconciling himself to the fact that the world around him was such a disappointment. The reason the strip appealed to people both young and old is because Calvin was feeling underwhelmed at a college graduate level. It’s not unheard of for children to experience this, particularly those who are more sensitive to their surroundings, and for many it was a relief to know that seeing the world without the luster and facade constantly created for us wasn’t so unusual. Calvin made it okay to be disheartened and disappointed by life and normalized the inherent loneliness that childhood can bring. He was there for us as we grew up and while we learned that things were capable of getting so much better and so much worse as we experienced puberty and beyond, he was still mired in the first grade, raging against the machine.

It’s quite the thing to sit down and read 10 years of a comic strip at once. It’s a comfort, like going home, the jokes warm and familiar. You grin when you come across the Sunday strips that served as the inspiration for the book collection titles, “Something Under The Bed is Drooling,” “Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat.” And though the strips are the same as they’ve ever been, you’ve come to them as a different person. Reading Calvin And Hobbes when you’re 33 is different from reading it when you’re 13. Now you’re struck by the struggle Calvin’s parents must have had keeping their child in line and loving him even as he drove them out of their minds, and you wonder if their single-income home would still be feasible in the current economic climate. But more than anything, you notice the sorrow buried in the strips, and you wonder how you missed how sad the children in the strips were the whole time.

Loneliness and sadness aren’t new fare for comic strips. If anything, Watterson’s characters are merely carrying on in the grand tradition of Charles Schultz’s Peanuts, where preternaturally clever children are nevertheless stymied by the world they live in. Like Peanuts, Calvin And Hobbes is timeless for the exact same reason: It appealed to adults just as much as it appealed to children. It spoke of things not always acknowledged in polite company, how people are mean, how we wish we had more friends, how being grown up seems weird and being a child even weirder, how the world doesn’t make sense, and how it’s hard to believe in things even though we desperately want to believe in them.

Calvin was a lot of things, just like every child. He was a budding inventor, a gifted artist, an enterprising entrepreneur, and a self-taught pundit. He was a good friend, an annoying neighbor, clever and conniving, lonely and loyal and, yeah, maybe a little hyperactive. But whatever he was, he taught an entire generation of children that though sadness and disappointment and loneliness may come prepackaged in life, that all could be weathered, so long as you had hope and a really good friend to see you through. For Calvin, that was Hobbes. For us, it was Calvin And Hobbes. And when the strip ended its 10 year run in 1995, it left in its wake a generation of children who, though now grown, could move forward in life confident that their magical friend would be with them always."

[Update: Tim Carmody put this in a small collection about loneliness: https://twitter.com/tcarmody/status/609837487414988800 ]
calvinandhobbes  loneliness  childhood  friendship  billwatterson  2015  libbyhill  comics  isolation  aloneness  life  living  children 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Why boarding schools produce bad leaders | Education | The Guardian
"The elite tradition is to send children away at a young age to be educated. But future politicians who suffer this 'privileged abandonment' often turn out as bullies or bumblers. A psychotherapist explains why"



"Bullying is inevitable and endemic in 24/7 institutions full of abandoned and frightened kids. Ex-boarders’ partners often report that it ends up ruining home life, many years later. Bullying pervades British society, especially in politics and the media, but, like boarding, we normalise it. When, in 2011, Jeremy Clarkson ranted that he would have striking public-sector workers shot, he was even defended by Cameron – it was apparently a bit of fun. No prizes for guessing where both men learned their styles. And no wonder that the House of Commons, with its adversarial architecture of Victorian Gothic – just like a public school chapel – runs on polarised debate and bullying."
psychology  education  schools  2015  nickduffell  leadership  bullying  bullies  bumblers  childhood  uk 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Travelling around, my hobbies are quite simple. I... - Mrs Tsk *
"Travelling around, my hobbies are quite simple. I buy secondhand clothes and books, visit antiquities, look at contemporary art. What I’m seeking in all of those things, I think, is contact with — and sympathetic, symbiotic union with — some sort of otherness, something which stretches and extends me.

Contact with what’s strange and fresh reminds me of the early part of my life, in which everything was strange and fresh. It also gives me a kind of “immortal head”: exposing myself to real difference allows me to peek into other centuries, other cultures. I become huge and wise and full of time. Maybe I also enjoy the sensation of becoming more and more alien to the very culture of airports and jeans which makes my self-stretching possible.

Lately, however, I’ve been noticing how little art really extends and freshens me. What I mostly get from art shows is a filling-in of details in a picture I already know. Many shows in so-called “contemporary” spaces are in fact academic takes on 20th century modernism. Zoomings-in on the known.

The current show at Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery, for instance, Possibilities of the Object, zooms in on Brazilian Tropicalia. At Tate Modern in London there’s Marlene Dumas, whose work I like but possibly know too well. It’s not that these artists don’t deserve their zooms, more that I don’t feel expanded enough. I get the same sense of cultural stagnation from these shows that I get from rock music: both seem mired in retro, overwhelmed by the achievements of the past, stuck in “repertory” or “academic” modes. Art seems to have become classical music, a sort of visual Classic FM.

Biennials and art student degree shows are the ideal places to escape this sense of endless retreads of the known. But the odd show in a major museum does surprise and delight me. At Moderna Museet in Stockholm, for instance — although the main “blockbuster” show of Louise Bourgeois, while good, falls into the “known” category — there’s a very good show downstairs of the work of Akram Zaatari, an artist from South Lebanon who investigates his home town of Saida with a careful and subdued archeological process.

I spent a lot of time with a film Zaatari had made in Saida’s souk, in which he got traders to look at old photos and identify shopkeepers and recall how their shops were. The videos I’ve posted here are of another piece, which looks at the bombing of a Saida school by the Israeli airforce in the early 1980s, and Zaatari’s documentation of it at the time, and the architect-pilot who refused and dumped his bombs at sea. This is the kind of art I travel to find, and it’s poignant to connect with Lebanon via Sweden. Suddenly the art textbook is snapped shut and we’re off somewhere fresh."
momus  otherness  neoteny  2015  children  childhood  exploration  difference  learning  art  travel  akamzaatari  unknown  discovery  newness  perspective  expansion  freshness  saida  lebanon 
april 2015 by robertogreco
THE WONDER YEARS, Involuntary Memory, and Mourning | judgmental observer
"This scene was just one of many that has resonated with me in new ways since I began rewatching The Wonder Years, some 24 years after it first aired. This experience has resulted in a doubled viewing position. On the one hand, I am watching as a 35-year-old and so the historical and cultural touchstones that I missed when I was 12 (the changing meaning of the suburbs in America in the 1960s; the anti-war movement; the students protests of 1968; The Feminine Mystique) are suddenly visible and significant. But at the same time, as I watch, I am still watching as a 12 year old."
thewonderyears  memory  nostalgia  childhood  parents  2015  via:jslr  amandaannklein  television  tv  proust  memories  mourning  age  aging  relationships 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Perhaps the immutable error of parenthood is that... - Austin Kleon
"Perhaps the immutable error of parenthood is that we give our children what we wanted, whether they want it or not." — Andrew Solomon, Far From The Tree
parenting  andrewsolomon  children  parenthood  childhood 
march 2015 by robertogreco
one after another | Fredrik deBoer
"I have two memories tonight, both from Wilbert Snow School, my childhood school, my childhood home.

In the first, it was a typical day on the blacktop, which means it could have been pretty much any grade, K-5. In those days the school was an actual campus; there was a main building with the office, the cafe, the auditorium, and the gym. Then there were a half-dozen or so satellite buildings, called units, which housed one grade apiece, plus an extra subject area room– art, music, so on. We called those specials. It was a campus, an elementary school campus. You had your classroom and across the hall was the other class in your same grade. In winter you’d load up your gear and trudge over to the other building for your special. It was all surrounded by forest, and on one thin side of the woods, the housing project that abutted my childhood house. In the back, there was a stretch of woods that George Washington was known to have once crossed through, and Mr. Shearer, my grumpy old Republican 5th grade teacher who I loved so dearly, walked us through and told us about it. There was a birch tree and you could pull off a switch and suck the end and taste the birch. I loved it, so much. Awhile after I left they tore it all down and built a one-building version. Efficiency. Anyway.

We were on the blacktop and one of the other boys, I’m thinking Kevin Hickman but I don’t really remember, accidentally kicked a playground ball deep into the woods by the blacktop. So he ran in to get it. It seemed like he was in there for ages, and then there was this shout of glee, and he came barreling out pushing a very different ball, a far larger one, a giant earth ball. It was literally taller than he was, but otherwise looked identical to the dull red playground balls we always had, and as he emerged the look of pure joy on his face was impossible, and every other kid let out this absolutely brilliant scream to see a ball that big, and we all ran to touch it. To this day I don’t know how it could have happened that the ball could have been lost in the woods– how could you just forget about a ball that large? — or how long it might have been out there, or how it stayed perfectly inflated for however long it was. But It doesn’t really matter. To this day, the feeling of communal exultation, that pure, unexpected joy, the look on his face as he tore out from the woods, and the fact that I can remember the look on his face but not whose face it was, these things are indelible, things I will remember forever.

And then the para came over and yelled at us and took the ball away.

The second memory is just a feeling. It was the day of my 5th grade graduation, the last day at Snow School. After that I would be sent to the weird, one-grade quasi-middle school in my hometown, Keigwin, and after that, the fresh hell that was Woodrow Wilson Middle School. The memory is just being at school on that day and suddenly realizing, with Snow over, that time was passing. I mean it in just that sense, not as something deeper or more symbolic. It wasn’t that I suddenly contemplated myself aging or growing up or, even worse, my mortality. Nothing so vulgar. I just suddenly realized that time was passing in a way that I never had before, that you left school eventually, and that things would be different instead of the same. It was profound and moving and frightening.

Now it seems as if the situation is quite the opposite; I feel that I can sense myself aging but not moving, that nothing passes but time, that there is nowhere for anything to go but for my life to pass grudgingly from year to year."
memory  time  freddiedeboer  2015  childhood  memories  emotions  feelings  joy  perception  school  play  balls  profundity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Case for Free-Range Parenting - NYTimes.com
"BETHESDA, Md. — ON her first morning in America, last summer, my daughter went out to explore her new neighborhood — alone, without even telling my wife or me.

Of course we were worried; we had just moved from Berlin, and she was just 8. But when she came home, we realized we had no reason to panic. Beaming with pride, she told us and her older sister how she had discovered the little park around the corner, and had made friends with a few local dog owners. She had taken possession of her new environment, and was keen to teach us things we didn’t know.

When this story comes up in conversations with American friends, we are usually met with polite disbelief. Most are horrified by the idea that their children might roam around without adult supervision. In Berlin, where we lived in the center of town, our girls would ride the Metro on their own — a no-no in Washington. Or they’d go alone to the playground, or walk a mile to a piano lesson. Here in quiet and traffic-safe suburban Washington, they don’t even find other kids on the street to play with. On Halloween, when everybody was out to trick or treat, we were surprised by how many children actually lived here whom we had never seen.

A study by the University of California, Los Angeles, has found that American kids spend 90 percent of their leisure time at home, often in front of the TV or playing video games. Even when kids are physically active, they are watched closely by adults, either in school, at home, at afternoon activities or in the car, shuttling them from place to place.

Such narrowing of the child’s world has happened across the developed world. But Germany is generally much more accepting of letting children take some risks. To this German parent, it seems that America’s middle class has taken overprotective parenting to a new level, with the government acting as a super nanny.

Just take the case of 10-year-old Rafi and 6-year-old Dvora Meitiv, siblings in Silver Spring, Md., who were picked up in December by the police because their parents had dared to allow them to walk home from the park alone. For trying to make them more independent, their parents were found guilty by the state’s Child Protective Services of “unsubstantiated child neglect.” What had been the norm a generation ago, that kids would enjoy a measure of autonomy after school, is now seen as almost a crime.

Today’s parents enjoyed a completely different American childhood. Recently, researchers at the University of Virginia conducted interviews with 100 parents. “Nearly all respondents remember childhoods of nearly unlimited freedom, when they could ride bicycles and wander through woods, streets, parks, unmonitored by their parents,” writes Jeffrey Dill, one of the researchers.

But when it comes to their own children, the same respondents were terrified by the idea of giving them only a fraction of the freedom they once enjoyed. Many cited fear of abduction, even though crime rates have declined significantly. The most recent in-depth study found that, in 1999, only 115 children nationwide were victims of a “stereotypical kidnapping” by a stranger; the overwhelming majority were abducted by a family member. That same year, 2,931 children under 15 died as passengers in car accidents. Driving children around is statistically more dangerous than letting them roam freely.

Motor development suffers when most of a child’s leisure time is spent sitting at home instead of running outside. Emotional development suffers, too.

“We are depriving them of opportunities to learn how to take control of their own lives,” writes Peter Gray, a research professor at Boston College. He argues that this increases “the chance that they will suffer from anxiety, depression, and various other mental disorders,” which have gone up dramatically in recent decades. He sees risky, outside play of children among themselves without adult supervision as a way of learning to control strong emotions like anger and fear.

I am no psychologist like Professor Gray, but I know I won’t be around forever to protect my girls from the challenges life holds in store for them, so the earlier they develop the intellectual maturity to navigate the world, the better. And by giving kids more control over their lives, they learn to have more confidence in their own capabilities.

It is hard for parents to balance the desire to protect their children against the desire to make them more self-reliant. And every one of us has to decide for himself what level of risk he is ready to accept. But parents who prefer to keep their children always in sight and under their thumbs should consider what sort of trade-offs are involved in that choice.

At a minimum, parents who want to give their children more room to roam shouldn’t be penalized by an overprotective state. Cases like the Meitivs’ reinforce the idea that children are fragile objects to be protected at all times, and that parents who believe otherwise are irresponsible, if not criminally negligent.

Besides overriding our natural protective impulses in order to loosen the reins of our kids, my wife and I now also have to ponder the possibility of running afoul of the authorities. And we thought we had come to the land of the free."
clemenswergin  2015  parenting  children  autonomy  freedom  exploration  fear  safety  risktaking  helicopterparents  childhood  cities  petergray  self-reliance  independence  us  nannystate  freerangeparenting  helicopterparenting 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Fun Palace | The Hairpin
"Back then, time, as it still does and always will, passed both far too quickly and in an agonizing trickle. Too soon my pitted paradise was tarred over. My mother wouldn't let me play on the lot a few doors down after she was forced to make a trip to the hardware store for turpentine; on my last afternoon in the basement-to-be, I was pulling my subjects through the black stuff that construction workers had spread around the dirt to insulate the clean concrete they would soon pour onto the earth. My hands and arms were covered in the half-set sticky goo that smelled, to me, like dragon's breath. It affixed little pebbles into my palms and I had a hard time climbing up and out. It was the first time I needed someone to rescue me from my own imagination. After she pulled me from the pit, my mom tried to pick the tiny rocks out of my hands, and couldn't. She soaked my hands in a dish of turpentine. (The memory came flooding back, equally irrepressible and insignificant, 15 years later when I experienced my first ever professional manicure.)"

[via: "One of my faves, @emilymkeeler, with a lovely mini-memoir of youth and testing out ways of being. http://thehairpin.com/2015/03/fun-palace …"
https://twitter.com/navalang/status/578044802895212544 ]
childhood  play  exploration  2015  emilykeeler  being  identity  roleplaying  memory  memories  children  adolescence  youth 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Lots of Cases of Synesthesia Are Based on Alphabet Magnets
"Although the first description of synesthesia dates back to ancient Greece, researchers still don’t know what causes some people to perceive two senses at the same time. Previous studies have shown that, surprisingly, it may be a learned association: a certain Fisher-Price alphabet magnet set manufactured from 1971-1990 directly maps onto some adult synesthetes’ color associations. In the current study, researchers wanted to see just how widespread this similarity was."
synesthesia  childhood  children  toys  2015 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The word-hoard: Robert Macfarlane on rewilding our language of landscape | Books | The Guardian
"For decades the leading nature writer has been collecting unusual words for landscapes and natural phenomena – from aquabob to zawn. It’s a lexicon we need to cherish in an age when a junior dictionary finds room for ‘broadband’ but has no place for ‘bluebell’"



"Eight years ago, in the coastal township of Shawbost on the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis, I was given an extraordinary document. It was entitled “Some Lewis Moorland Terms: A Peat Glossary”, and it listed Gaelic words and phrases for aspects of the tawny moorland that fills Lewis’s interior. Reading the glossary, I was amazed by the compressive elegance of its lexis, and its capacity for fine discrimination: a caochan, for instance, is “a slender moor-stream obscured by vegetation such that it is virtually hidden from sight”, while a feadan is “a small stream running from a moorland loch”, and a fèith is “a fine vein-like watercourse running through peat, often dry in the summer”. Other terms were striking for their visual poetry: rionnach maoim means “the shadows cast on the moorland by clouds moving across the sky on a bright and windy day”; èit refers to “the practice of placing quartz stones in streams so that they sparkle in moonlight and thereby attract salmon to them in the late summer and autumn”, and teine biorach is “the flame or will-o’-the-wisp that runs on top of heather when the moor burns during the summer”.

The “Peat Glossary” set my head a-whirr with wonder-words. It ran to several pages and more than 120 terms – and as that modest “Some” in its title acknowledged, it was incomplete. “There’s so much language to be added to it,” one of its compilers, Anne Campbell, told me. “It represents only three villages’ worth of words. I have a friend from South Uist who said her grandmother would add dozens to it. Every village in the upper islands would have its different phrases to contribute.” I thought of Norman MacCaig’s great Hebridean poem “By the Graveyard, Luskentyre”, where he imagines creating a dictionary out of the language of Donnie, a lobster fisherman from the Isle of Harris. It would be an impossible book, MacCaig concluded:

A volume thick as the height of the Clisham,

A volume big as the whole of Harris,

A volume beyond the wit of scholars.

The same summer I was on Lewis, a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published. A sharp-eyed reader noticed that there had been a culling of words concerning nature. Under pressure, Oxford University Press revealed a list of the entries it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood. The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow. The words taking their places in the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voice-mail. As I had been entranced by the language preserved in the prose‑poem of the “Peat Glossary”, so I was dismayed by the language that had fallen (been pushed) from the dictionary. For blackberry, read Blackberry.



I have long been fascinated by the relations of language and landscape – by the power of strong style and single words to shape our senses of place. And it has become a habit, while travelling in Britain and Ireland, to note down place words as I encounter them: terms for particular aspects of terrain, elements, light and creaturely life, or resonant place names. I’ve scribbled these words in the backs of notebooks, or jotted them down on scraps of paper. Usually, I’ve gleaned them singly from conversations, maps or books. Now and then I’ve hit buried treasure in the form of vernacular word-lists or remarkable people – troves that have held gleaming handfuls of coinages, like the Lewisian “Peat Glossary”.

Not long after returning from Lewis, and spurred on by the Oxford deletions, I resolved to put my word-collecting on a more active footing, and to build up my own glossaries of place words. It seemed to me then that although we have fabulous compendia of flora, fauna and insects (Richard Mabey’s Flora Britannica and Mark Cocker’s Birds Britannica chief among them), we lack a Terra Britannica, as it were: a gathering of terms for the land and its weathers – terms used by crofters, fishermen, farmers, sailors, scientists, miners, climbers, soldiers, shepherds, poets, walkers and unrecorded others for whom particularised ways of describing place have been vital to everyday practice and perception. It seemed, too, that it might be worth assembling some of this terrifically fine-grained vocabulary – and releasing it back into imaginative circulation, as a way to rewild our language. I wanted to answer Norman MacCaig’s entreaty in his Luskentyre poem: “Scholars, I plead with you, / Where are your dictionaries of the wind … ?”"

[via: http://caterina.net/2015/02/27/bluebells-and-buttercups/ ]
robertmacfarlane  2015  language  glossaries  dictionaries  childhood  words  english  nature  landscape  lexicon  flora  fauna  insects  rewilding  taxonomy  dictionary 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Obsolete Skill Set: The 3 Rs
"I see then a pattern of intellectual development that I shall oversimplify by casting it in three distinct phases. The first phase is one of universally successful learning. All children show a passion for interactive exploration of their immediate world. The diversity of possible activity is great enough for different individuals to find their own styles. The third phase is seen in intellectually awake adults. Here too we see a great diversity of styles. But not everyone gets there. The second phase is the narrow and dangerous passage in which many factors conspire to undermine the continuation of phase one. School is often blamed for imposing on children a uniformity that suffocates those who have developed markedly different intellectual styles; much as it used to suffocate left-handed people by forcing them to "write properly". Most of the blame is well-founded. But in these practices, schools reflect (and amplify) the poverty of media that has plagued society in the past. As long as writing was the only medium in town, schools did not have many choices.

The early and massive imposition on children of what I call "letteracy" carries risk not only because it suppresses diversity of style, but because it forces an abrupt break with the modes of learning shared by the first and third phases. New media promise the opportunity to offer a smoother transition to what really deserves to be called "literacy." Literacy should not mean the ability to decode strings of alphabetic letters. Consider a child who uses a Knowledge Machine to acquire a broad understanding of poetry (spoken), history (perhaps relived in simulations), and art and science (through computer-based labs), and thus draws on this knowledge to conduct a well-informed, highly persuasive campaign to preserve the environment. All this could happen without being letterate. If it does, should we say that the child is illiterate?

The use of the same word to mean both the mechanical ability to read as well as a rich connection with culture is one more reflection of today's paucity of media. As we enter an age in which diversity of media will allow individuals to choose their own routes to literacy, that dual meaning will pass away. For the next generation or two one must expect literacy to include some letteracy, since our culture's past is so connected with expression through writing. But even if a truly literate person of the future will be expected to know how to read books as well as understand the major trends in art history or philosophy, via whatever other media become available, it will not follow that learning the letters should be the cornerstone of elementary education.

My Knowledge Machine is a metaphor for things close enough in the future to demand serious consideration now. Although the software that can be purchased today gives only an inkling of what is to come, it should be seen in the same light as the first flight of the Wright Brothers' machine. Its importance for the future was not measured by its performance in feet of flight, but its ability to fuel the well-informed imagination. There are very few school environments in which the idea of the illetterate but literate child is plausible. The pundits of the Education Establishment have failed to provide leadership in this area. Perhaps the readers of Wired, who can see farther into the future, have a profoundly important social role in stirring up such debate."

[via: http://bengrey.com/blog/2013/10/the-space-between-where-our-role-as-teachers-changes-lives-and-learning/ ]
seymourpapert  literacy  internet  media  learning  children  curiosity  1993  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  culture  letteracy  knowledgemachine  illiteracy  canon  understanding  howweteach  schools  education  imagination  childhood  literacies  multiliteracies  multimedia  orality 
february 2015 by robertogreco
The Rise of Extreme Daycare - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society
"The main room at Dee’s Tots looks like a supersized slumber party, but the truth is this is an ordinary day. Dee’s is only one of a number of 24-hour child care centers around the country. Just on this single block in New Rochelle, New York, there’s another facility, Little Blessings, that offers overnights as well. Little Blessings and Dee’s are in a nearly comic decoration-off, competing for kids with colored lights, giant Doras, and Spider-Men. Some round-the-clock centers play more toward parents, with aspirational names like Success Kidz 24 Hour Enrichment Center.

The growth of this industry makes sense: We now have an expanded workweek, often composed of unpredictable hours. Nearly 40 percent of Americans have non-standard work lives. (The average American adult also now works one and a quarter jobs.) Working people who live below the poverty line are particularly afraid to say no to these unusual schedules. They may have no one to say no to, anyway—those schedules might have been created by computers, rather than human managers, in the hopes of saving a corporation money. Many companies now use data and algorithms to schedule employees so fewer hours will be spent sitting around. The software doesn’t care if a shift falls in the middle of the night, or that it might tear a big hole in an employee’s family life.

WELL-PAID PROFESSIONALS WHO work evenings may be able to afford one or two nannies, or they may have partners who stay at home. But parents like the ones who rely on Dee’s can’t afford such luxuries. Diana and Ivette’s mother, Marisol, for instance, is raising the girls on her own, working at a supermarket from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. and at Home Depot from 6 to 10 p.m., six days a week. The girls are at the Hogans’ for both of her shifts, and she’s with them between 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. each day. “I worked one job 29 hours a week, so I got a second job, as I can’t afford to take care of my kids—I need more money to be surviving,” says Marisol, a slim young woman with glasses and pulled-back hair who came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was four. Marisol works 29 hours at each of her jobs. This is common. If an employee works more hours, her employer is required to provide health insurance. “With car payments coming up, I applied for Home Depot,” she says. “The Hogans are very open about my schedule and were willing to work with me.”



"So what is a parent who needs to drop off her kid at 3:30 a.m. supposed to do? “It was all about 9-to-5 daycare 10 years ago,” says Deloris. “But now that the stores are open till 12 at night or even 24 hours a day, we are needed. We have to do this.” Soon somebody, if not Deloris, will open a business to accommodate the 3:30 a.m. drop-offs.

Ours is a forever clock.

TWENTY-FOUR-HOUR DAYCARE can seem shocking to people who have no need for it. When I mentioned extreme daycare to some middle-class parents—some of them parents much like me—a number recoiled at the thought. These same parents have their own children full time at tonier daycare centers or with a nanny. They also often work far into the night themselves, laptops aglow, making their dimly lit homes look like aquariums. Yet many found it strange to have a child at a facility overnight. A number were surprised that such places even exist.

Of course, bathing or wrapping a blanket around a child is intimate and can seem like the most important moment in the day. Yet many Americans now can’t necessarily choose when to work and when to parent."
daycare  children  us  work  labor  parenting  2014  childhood 
november 2014 by robertogreco
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