robertogreco + competition   287

0675 – being smart vs being kind - 1,000,000 words by @visakanv
"When I was a child, I was told that I was smart. I wasn’t great at socializing, but I was alright. I was the class clown, the smartass, so I did have some friends. But I never really developed the deep, lasting sort of friendships that some people have for life. Sometimes I felt like I was missing out, but most of the time – even now – I think of it as, ‘that’s just what life is like for misfits’. There’s good and bad, and that’s the ‘bad’. The price you pay.

It took me two decades to really begin to aspire to be kind.

What’s so good about being smart?

1. There is a certain intrinsic pleasure to knowing things. Richard Feynman describes this beautifully in “the pleasure of finding things out”. (He was also a very kind person, I believe.)

2. There’s a practical value to it. Smartness is generally correlated with making good decisions that lead to superior outcomes. (It’s necessary but insufficient – smartness is the sharpness of the knife. You still need to handle the knife well, and apply it to the right things. Lots of smart people obsessively sharpen their knives but don’t use it for anything useful or constructive.)

If you’re smart, in the conventional sense, you should recognize opportunities (in my view this requires sensitivity, in the ‘perceptive’ sense) and take advantage of them (in my view this requires strength, in the ‘executive’ sense). You should also spot potholes and avoid them. (Spotting the pothole is perception. Avoiding it is execution. Smartness is the gap between seeing and doing – smartness is orienting and deciding, maybe.)

3. There’s also a social aspect to smartness. I’m not saying that smartness guarantees social success (though I do believe that if you’re truly smart rather than superficially smart, you’ll figure out how to achieve your social desires and/or modulate them appropriately). What I mean is that there’s a sort of global subculture that venerates smartness. Think of all the tropes of trickster type characters, and how people love brilliant assholes like Tony Stark and Dr. House. If you’re smart, you can satisfy quite a lot of your social needs by scoring points with smartness geeks.

The smartness-as-spectator-sport trap

Here’s where it gets a little dicey – winning friends in most smartness tribes – their approval requires being right. It requires Winning. I’m talking about smartness as a contact sport for spectators. You get rewarded for the most brutal takedowns (“Liberal DESTROYED conservative with simple argument, leaves him SPEECHLESS!”)

When you start to get addicted to winning, you start to get attached. You start to avoid certain things – particularly areas that you’re not so sure about. You start picking your battles according to what’s winnable, rather than what’s most interesting or useful.

This is where we get to what separates the pros from the noobs. The smartest people embrace their ignorance. They are intimately familiar with the limitations of their models, and they are excited when they discover that they’re wrong about something. (I recall this book about physics – “Time, Space and Things” – where the author would spend paragraphs explaining the imperfections of all the models he was about to show us. It was lovely.)

Where does kindness enter the picture? Kindness nourishes (not coddles) fragile things and makes them strong

I find myself thinking about Pixar’s Braintrust. It’s a sort of council of storytellers who provide advice and counsel to whoever’s working on a story. They understand that ideas in their formative stages are precious, fragile things, like babies. You can’t shake them too hard at the start, or they’ll die. You need to nourish them and let them flourish first. You need to ask lots of exploratory questions with good-faith, rather than cross-examine them looking for flaws and mistakes. Once it’s found its legs, THEN you can start to challenge it, spar with it, and it’ll grow stronger as a result.

When I was younger, I truly believed that the best way to learn and grow and progress was to subject everything to relentless scrutiny. To debate, argue, attack from all sides. I still believe that that can be true in some cases, and that individuals who are deeply committed to learning and intellectual development can benefit tremendously from welcoming such behavior. Inviting criticisms and takedowns. Soliciting negative feedback.

BUT, I’ve also grown to learn that there’s this whole other side to the picture. What you see is NOT all there is. There’s a lot that you haven’t seen, that you can’t see – and if you saw it with an open mind, you’d almost definitely revise your model of reality.

In the past, I used to argue violently with everything and everyone. Not in a vicious way, just in a high-contact way. It was a sport, it was a way of life. With every fight, I was learning. (On retrospect, I was often just learning how to fight better, or to pick fights where I’d have a higher probability of winning, but that seemed like progress at the time.)

I lost some friends along the way, which I was sad about. But I usually found a way to live with it – mostly by convincing myself that they had in some way been too sensitive.

I had a Kurt Cobain quote in mind – “Better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you’re not”. It seemed radically profound at the time, but on retrospect that’s entire oversimplistic thinking. We have more than two options. (Also, I’m now the same age Kurt Cobain was when he died, and next year I’ll be older than he’ll ever be. Just a thought.)

Here’s what you miss if you’re unkind or non-kind: people opening up to you in private.

A lot of the most interesting information in the world is locked up inside other people’s heads.

If you care about having an interesting life, you have to care about winning over other people – so that you can access that information. If you really want to be smart, you’re going to have to tap into people’s perspectives, insights, questions and so on. You can’t learn it all from books and essays – because there’s a lot of “living knowledge” that never makes it into those things.

People only started opening up to me in private in the last 3-5 years or so, and it’s completely changed my life. I mean, I did have conversations with a handful of close-ish friends a decade ago, but now I have people actively coming to me and telling me things that they wouldn’t dare say publicly. And that’s some very powerful, very interesting stuff. It’s great at many levels. And it’s a very beautiful feeling to be that person that earns other people’s trust.

Just to wrap up – it’s possible to be both smart and kind, obviously. That’s the end goal. Being smart doesn’t mean you’re going to be kind, not-kind or unkind. Being kind doesn’t mean you’re going to be smart, not-smart or stupid.

What I’m saying is – there’s definitely a subset of smart people (and people who aspire to smartness) who think that being kind is unnecessary, or tedious, or for pussies, and so on. And I think that’s extremely unfortunate. Your intelligence gets enriched by kindness. That’s the case I’m making here."
visakanveerasamy  smartness  kindness  directives  intelligence  interestedness  listening  kurtcobain  learning  howwelearn  canon  winning  competition  spectators  action  activism  theory  richardfeynman  knowitalls  social  relationships  grace  reality  argument  2017 
24 days ago by robertogreco
Opinion | Let’s Hear It for the Average Child - The New York Times
"Parents, we ask you to hold your applause until the names of all the medal winners have been announced. When the ceremony is over and your child has not left her seat, though nearly every other kid is taking home ribbons and trophies and enough scholarship offers to make a real dent in the national debt, please take a few moments to congratulate the winners as they head off to their well-earned celebrations. Then we ask that you return to your seats. We have a few special achievements left to acknowledge.

To the student who does all the homework in his hardest subject and turns it in promptly, who studies diligently for tests and shows up at every before-school help session, who has never once read an online summary instead of the actual book and who nevertheless manages to earn no grade higher than a C: You have already aced the real tests. School is the only place in the world where you’re expected to excel at everything, and all at the same time. In real life, you’ll excel at what you do best and let others excel at what they do best. For the rest of your life, you will never again think of this C, but you’ll bring your character and your capacity for hard work to all your future endeavors.

To the student with friends scattered hither and yon, across grades and groups and genders: You may feel like an outsider at every insider gathering. You may wonder what it’s like to feel deeply enfolded within a group whose very membership confers identity. How easy it would be, you may think, to be told where to go and what to wear and whom to stand next to when you get there! In truth, membership in a group always feels provisional; insiders inevitably wonder if they’re the next to be cast out. But a gift for friendship that transcends circumstance, for recognizing kinship wherever it blooms? That gift will make the world your home.

To the student who sits in the back of the room with the chemistry textbook propped open and a library book tucked inside: You’ll have to learn chemistry, there’s no getting around it, but we revel in your love for the written word. In times of trial and worry, of disappointment and despair, a book will be your shield. Immersing yourself in a grand story will be a respite from your troubles, and a lifetime spent lingering over language will give you the right words when you need them yourself. No one writes a better love letter than a lifelong reader.

To the bench warmers and the water boys and the equipment managers who follow every play without getting a smudge on their pristine jerseys: We delight in your love for the game, and we salute your loyalty to the team. You may never score the winning goal or hit a walk-off home run or feel the exultation of your teammates as they carry you from the field, but you will know the pleasure of belonging, and you will be spared the sadness of fading glory, too. When you look back on these years, what you’ll remember is the pride of wearing that jersey, the privilege of supporting your team.

To the student who fled for the restroom on dissection day and took a zero in biology lab: It’s a great gift to love animals. When you can sit quietly in the presence of another creature, when you can earn a fearful animal’s trust, you are participating in the eons. Whatever it may seem to almost everyone else, this planet is a great breathing, vulnerable beast, and we are each of us only one of its cells. We celebrate the tender heart that has taught you this truth, so urgent and so easily overlooked.

To the student who bombed the history final because you stayed up all night talking to a friend whose heart is breaking: There is honor in your choice. You can make up the history lessons, but compassion is not a subject we offer in summer school. Today we rejoice for the A you’ve earned in Empathy, the blue ribbon you’ve won in Love.

To the daydreamer and the window-gazer, to the one who startles when called on by the teacher or nudged by a classmate, whose report card invariably praises your good mind but laments your lack of focus: We are grateful for your brown study. Here’s to the wondering reveries of the dreamers and the dawdlers, for the real aha! moments in life are those that cannot be summoned by will. They arrive by stealth during moments of idleness, creeping in while you’re staring out a window or soaking in the bathtub or just wandering aimlessly along.

Summer beckons, a great, green, gorgeous gift. We’ve already kept you far too long, so let us send you forth with just one last reminder of a truth that somehow you already understand, though school is not the place where you learned it:

Life is not a contest, and the world is not an arena. Just by being here, unique among all others, offering contributions that no one else can give, you have already won the one prize that matters most."
schools  awards  competition  children  schooling  education  learning  life  living  2019  margaretrenkl  trophies  summer  generalists  specialists  whatmatters  unschooling  deschooling  howwelearn 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Pedagogy of Design in the Age of Computation: Panel Discussion - YouTube
“I wish y’all could teach designers without using any Adobe products.” —@tchoi8 (9:11)

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

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

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

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

[See also:

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

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

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

Rik Lomas
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uk_XYIkyZM ]
towatch  mindseu  design  computation  2019  atifakin  riklomas  coding  publishing  digital  history  education  adobe  designeducation  howweteach  art  creativity  programming  decolonization  tools  longview  longgame  ellenullman  accessibility  access  inclusivity  inclusion  craft  curiosity  imagination  learning  howwelearn  insecurity  exposure  humility  competition  unschooling  deschooling  comparison  schools  schooliness  resistance  ethics  collaboration  cooperation  community  conversation  capitalism  studentdebt  transparency  institutions  lcproject  openstudioproject  emancipation  solidarity  humanrights  empowerment  activism  precarity  curriculum  instruction 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Isabel Rodríguez on Twitter: "I am more and more convinced that our thinking in education should move away from improving learning to an imperative to respect the rights of children and young people, combat all forms of discrimination and violence agains
"I am more and more convinced that our thinking in education should move away from improving learning to an imperative to respect the rights of children and young people, combat all forms of discrimination and violence against them, and rethink how we organize life and work. 1/

Not that improving learning is not important, but regardless of how we define and measure it, it is secondary to the well-being and status of children and young people in our societies. 2/

As matter of justice, educational results should not be used to justify, normalize and maintain inequality in income and status. Regardless of our education, all human beings are entitled to a life with dignity and to be regarded as equals. 3/

As a matter of justice, educational results should not be used as an excuse to deny a voice to those deemed as uneducated in the matters affecting their lives. 4/

As a matter of justice, education should not be used to normalize the practice of denying consent to those deemed as uneducated and to all marginalized populations in the matters affecting their lives. 5/

As a matter of justice, we must acknowledge that poverty has not much to do with education and much to do with power imbalances and structures of protection and access to land and other resources. 6/

And we must acknowledge that in order to maintain all forms of inequality and violence, they must first be learnt and normalized through the treatment of children at home and at schools.

If you want to learn more about this, you can follow @TobyRollo. 7/

Learning is important, no doubt about it, but it is not everything. At the end of the day, what we need more is about being more humane. Our priorities should be clear. 8/
https://www.holocaustandhumanity.org/about-us/educational-philosophy/

Can we do both? Absolutely, but ultimately, we should be willing to respect the full equality, dignity and consent of those choosing not to learn what we deem as important they should learn. 9/

We should also be willing to respect the full equality, dignity and consent of what kids choose to learn according to their own purposes, interests, rhythms and talents. 10/

And this may seem too far out, but let's think about what this means in terms of how neurodiversity, linguistic diversity, cultural diversity, and disabilities are crushed and disrespected on a routine basis. 11/

Let's think about how interests, needs, rhythms and expressions falling outside of what school requires are punished routinely. 12/

Some people argue that by respecting the consent of children, we risk having them not learn what they need. But this is a slippery slope.... 13/

Once we accept that we can violate the right of children to consent and a differential treatment on an arbitrary basis, we normalize and facilitate the violation of their rights in other scenarios and with the use of arbitrary norms. 14/

Finally, if we are serious about moving away from the abuse of standardized tests and about decoupling education from the needs of markets.... 15/

We must be willing to stop defining accountability in terms of learning measurements and instead define it in terms of how students are treated and the resources and opportunities that are made available to them in order to learn according to their own purposes and needs. 16/

Currently, schools are not accountable to students, families and communities. Students are accountable to teachers and administrators, and teachers and administrators are accountable to authorities and big power brokers who don't have the best interests of students in mind. 17/

In order to transform the world outside school, we must rethink education. Alternatively, in order to rethink education, we must think about how we want to transform the world outside school. Both visions should match. Both visions should be adequate. 18/

And because in the world outside school, poverty is more a result of rights denied, power imbalances, structures of protection and access to land and other resources, and how we organize life and work... 19/

The treatment of children should prioritize the respect of their rights, granting them power, their access to resources, their access to learning according to alternative ways of organizing life and work, etc... 20/

And of course, this is especially important in the case of marginalized population whose oppression is based on the denial of power and resources. Teaching them that poverty is defined by lack of education is abusing and gaslighting them. 21/

A few more things, I almost missed... 22/

If we are serious about decoupling education from the needs of markets, learning should be about no other reason than for our own fun and pleasure as much as it should be about what we need to survive. 23/

And in this sense, the right to an education should be defined in terms of access to resources and opportunities to learn what individuals want and/or deem important according to their own purposes, and not in terms of forcing them to learn according to someone else's agenda. 24/

The erasure of what is not quantifiable and what is deemed as not important by conventional schools serves to maintain the lower status attached to activities performed by those considered as less educated. 25/

Such activities are performed disproportionately by women and marginalized populations. In many cases, within the domestic realm, these activities are not remunerated. 26/

But if we were all regarded as equals, all truly useful activities would be held in a similar status and acknowledged as what makes possible everyone else's jobs. So then again, there's no reason income differences should be so dramatic and justified by education. 27/

And it is the exploitation, discrimination and exclusion of many, that we should be centering in our thinking about education in connection to how we organize life and work. 28/

Enjoying being able to work with our hands and bodies, and enjoying being able to take care of others, should be regarded as a right, not as a sacrifice or as a punishment for losing in the game of school. 29/

Likewise, enjoying working in a science, technology, or in the arts, should also be regarded as a right, as perhaps a lifelong learning opportunity, and not as a reward for eliminating others in the game of school. 30/

Rights within communities where people collaborate and take care of each other, knowledge thought as a public good, not something privatized and individualized... 31/

Individual failures and accomplishments as belonging to the entire community, not rewards and punishments according to a competition where many are excluded, diversity, not standardization.

The end. 32/"
isabelrodríguez  2019  unschooling  education  learning  children  rights  discrimination  violence  children'srights  society  community  dignity  inequality  sorting  standardization  poverty  power  hierarchy  humanism  humanity  equality  consent  purpose  interests  deschooling  economics  schools  schooling  schooliness  communities  accountability  imbalance  diversity  rewards  punishment  competition  collaboration  collectivism  opportunity 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Ocean Vuong on being generous in your work [The Creative Independent]
"I find a home in feeling. I feel at home in feeling. When I collaborate or talk with my friends, the place doesn’t matter. We could be on Mars and it would feel like home, because I feel free. I can be myself. I can be uber-queer, uber-strange, and we can be uber-curious with one another. That’s comforting. Perhaps it’s even harder to protect a home that doesn’t exist in a physical space, because we have to continually tend to this abstract feeling: “How do I create the parameters in which I am safe enough to be free amongst my peers?”

My whole artistic life has been in New York City—the past 11 years—and I learned that one has to work. Competition is a patriarchal structure that privileges conquest. The most pivotal thing for me as an artist was to be able to say “no” to those structures in order to say “yes” to the structures I want to create. That’s why it’s so scary."



"Take the long way home, if you can."



"Competition, prizes and awards are part of a patriarchal construct that destroys love and creativity by creating and protecting a singular hierarchical commodification of quality that does not, ever, represent the myriad successful expressions of art and art making. If you must use that construct, you use it the way one uses public transport. Get on, then get off at your stop and find your people. Don’t live on the bus, and most importantly, don’t get trapped on it."



"The agency for joy is safety—and vice versa. It is not a place, but a feeling. But you can see it, even in the dark."
oceanvuong  competition  prizes  awards  patriarchy  hierarchy  love  creativity  art  poetry  conquest  2019  commodification  canon  capitalism  neoliberalism  freedom  artmaking  making  privilege  joy  safety  slow  small  meaning  purpose  beauty  relationships  identity  expression  home  comfort  collaboration 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
An Honest College Rejection Letter - McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
"Dear Applicant,

The Admissions Committee has carefully considered your application and we regret to inform you that we will not be able to offer you admission in the entering class, or a position on one of our alternate lists. The applicant pool this year was particularly strong, and by that I mean the Admissions Committee once again sent candidates like you multiple enticing pamphlets encouraging you to apply, knowing full well we had no intention of accepting you.

However, you will be pleased to know that you have contributed to our declining admissions rate, which has helped our university appear exclusive. This allows us to attract our real candidates: upper-class kids and certified geniuses who will glean no new information from our courses or faculty, whose parents can incentivize us with a new swimming pool or lacrosse stadium.

As a reminder, we don’t aspire to be a socially exclusive learning environment. In fact, we have chosen to actively pursue a more diverse campus and welcome all minorities. But our admissions program is quite unique; we combat past discrimination by discriminating in the present. It is one of the many techniques that our Nobel, Peabody, and Oscar award-winning faculty has helped to develop.

While we consider applicants from all backgrounds who excel both in and out of the classroom, we really want student savants who relentlessly pursue a single instrument, sport, or other activity. Unless you have written a New York Times bestseller, won first place in the Intel Science Fair, or cured type 1 diabetes using only solar power and a tampon string, we’ll put you at the bottom of the pool.

You may be wondering how a near-perfect SAT and ACT, a dozen perfect AP scores, and your presidency of four clubs did not distinguish you from the pack. Please know that we take many other factors into account as well, including socio-political-monetary context, Asian-ness of name, BMI, and modified-Rorschach (in which one of our assistants holds your application from across the room and we try to discern the outline of your profile).

You should also know that our committee did not fall for your attempts to look “humble” or “well-rounded.” Volunteering in developing countries is nice, but truly generous individuals volunteer to improve their local communities, while truly wealthy families buy a third-world country for their child to gentrify. We also realize that your extensive study of how “Novel cyclic di-GMP effectors of the YajQ protein family control bacterial virulence” was not influenced by your passion for “volunteering with the elderly,” nor was it anything but a résumé inflator. Most importantly, we know that your minimum-wage job did not teach you “patience, teamwork and leadership.” No one learns anything from minimum-wage jobs except how much they hate people and that they shouldn’t have majored in political science.

The reality is that we are no longer looking for students who are remarkable candidates for college; we are looking for people who have already made a difference, so that we can grow our list of impressive alumni. Your value to our college depends solely on your ability to attract future applicants. Since you are no Emma Watson or James Franco, we urge you to consider your acceptance letters from state universities and equally expensive second-tier schools, and commence nursing an inferiority complex for the rest of your life.

We sincerely hope that you find it in your heart to forgive us for not “seeing” your “full potential.” Please remember that we will need your tiger-parent instincts in approximately three decades when you push your own children to the brink of death, and once again help us boost our US News & World Report ranking.

Best,
Dean of Admissions"
education  colleges  universities  diversity  admissions  collegeadmissions  2019  satire  mimievans  selectivity  competition  rankings  highered  highereducation 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Luxury Interiors – Popula
"The question of “U.S.C. versus A.S.U.” in this piece was unclear to me; to what extent was Hess underwriting this hierarchy? I wrote to ask her, and she replied that she wished she’d had the space to elaborate in the piece. And for good reason:
I’m from a Sun Devil family. My mom worked at Arizona State… I don’t think any of the jokes about ASU are based on a real understanding of the kind of education you could receive there; it’s based on the number of people who can access that education […]

The same people who surely believe that every child should have access to a college education also make sure to rank some of those educations as enviable and others as embarrassing. The idea of an elite, high-class education must be hoarded by a select few, because if everybody had it, it would lose its value to the elite.

Which just begins to explain why someone like Mossimo Giannulli might want to be able to say, “my daughter is at U.S.C.”

***

When people are willing to drown themselves in debt and even commit literal crimes in order to obtain an elite college education for themselves or their kids, what, really, what exactly, do they they think they are buying?

Or selling. What are people thinking, who are selling an “education” that is actively harming a whole society; that wrecks the fabric of a city, that causes people to lose their grip on their conscience, their sanity; that makes them set so catastrophic an example, somehow both before, and on behalf of, their children. All this makes a mockery of the Enlightenment values—by which I mean the egalitarianism and erudition of Alexander Pope, and not Edmund Burke getting himself in a lather over Marie Antoinette—that a Western education was once imagined to represent.

Reaction to the admissions scandal has so far centered on these rich parents and their unworthy spawn, whose lawyers now prepare to spin a tale of misguided, but forgivable, parental devotion. No less a cultural authority than the playwright David Mamet wrote an “open letter” defending accused admissions cheat Felicity Huffman; according to him, “a parent’s zeal for her children’s future may have overcome her better judgment for a moment.” Except that the “moment” went on for months, according to court filings, and involved Huffman’s paying $15,000 to ensure that her daughter would have twice the time to complete her SAT exam that an ordinary, non-bribery-enabled kid would have. Also to hire a crooked proctor afterwards, who could change some of her daughter’s wrong answers to correct ones.

In any case, Hess is right: You can get an ultrafine education at A.S.U. That place is an R1 university, positively bristling with Nobel laureates and MacArthur fellows. Walter V. Robinson, who led the famous “Spotlight” newsroom at the Boston Globe, teaches there. It’s wild to think anyone would be willing to blow half a million dollars to ensure an admission to U.S.C. over A.S.U.

Anyone who has been to (any) college can tell you that the proportion of enlightenment to hangovers varies greatly from customer to customer. It’s something else altogether that calls for the half-million bucks.

***

Coming from a quite different angle—and on March 27th, the very same day as Hess’s piece—Herb Childress, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, asked: “How did we decide that professors don’t deserve job security or a decent salary?” (“This is How You Kill a Profession.”) Childress is one of tens of thousands of Ph.D.s in the United States who failed to find a place on the tenure track, and who were slowly forced out of a professional academic career as their prospects faded year by year in the academic Hunger Games, as this brutal process is not uncommonly described.

You might assume that people like Childress just “didn’t make it” through some fault of their own, but you’d be wrong. Over the last fifty years academic work has come to look more and more like indentured servitude: Grad students and postdocs are a species of flexible workers in a gig economy, toiling in low-paying jobs waiting for their once-a-year chance to play the tenure track lottery.

Please note that these are the very people who work in the “good schools,” who are compelled to “teach,” for insanely low pay—like, a few thousand dollars per class—people like Mossimo Giannulli’s daughter Olivia Jade, a famous YouTube “Influencer.” This lady’s dad paid hundreds of thousands to put her in the orbit of hugely educated, committed, job-insecure people like Childress. She, meanwhile, impishly bragged to her legion of YouTube followers that she doesn’t really “care about school.”

And yet scholars like Childress can’t let go of their romantic notions of the academy, and their sense of vocation, which can easily be exploited; unfortunately they’ll agree to live the dream even at cut rates, as Childress himself openly admitted in the Chron.
The grief of not finding a home in higher ed—of having done everything as well as I was capable of doing, and having it not pan out; of being told over and over how well I was doing and how much my contributions mattered, even as the prize was withheld—consumed more than a decade. It affected my physical health. It affected my mental health. It ended my first marriage. […]

Like any addict, I have to be vigilant whenever higher ed calls again. I know what it means to be a member of that cult, to believe in the face of all evidence, to persevere, to serve. I know what it means to take a 50-percent pay cut and move across the country to be allowed back inside the academy as a postdoc after six years in the secular professions. To be grateful to give up a career, to give up economic comfort, in order to once again be a member.

Consider the benefits-free, pension-free pittance paid to the vast majority of people providing the elite education, who never saw a dime of all those millions in bribes, and a more complicated and larger picture than we’ve yet seen emerges."



"I wasn’t nearly as much of a paragon, but as a brown-trash “gifted” kid who came up poor and went to fancy schools I can easily understand how listening to this brilliant lecturer dazzled my friend, and changed the course of his life. This feeling comes to students anywhere, everywhere, in every school with a good teacher with time and attention to give us. There was and still is something vital, something good and real, to want out of an “education,” something quite beyond the ken of the kind of people who would pay an SAT proctor to cheat.

Then there’s this other angle. I first went off to college already inured to the idea that I was involved in an economy; that we were trading. Everything had been made easier for the rich kids, of course, and it wasn’t their fault, all had been bought and paid for by their parents and grandparents, but also—a crucial thing—they had also lacked our luck; they lacked certain desirable qualities, qualities as randomly distributed as wealth, things with which some of us had won a different lottery, had skipped grades with and been celebrated for: the sort of “intelligence” that made school easy. There seemed to be a natural symbiosis in this structure, crazy and shameful as the whole business of “meritocracy” appears to me now.

But also like all college kids we mainly didn’t give a fuck about any of that and just got to be friends for true reasons, just loved one another. The rich kids happened to be able to teach the poor ones what fork to use and how to ski, and the poor and/or brown kids of halfway reasonable intelligence gave them books, new kinds of food and family, music and art, a view of the other side of the tracks, new ways to have fun. We poor ones brought, say, a taste for Lester Bangs, arroz con pollo, Brian Eno and Virginia Woolf; they treated us to foie gras and Tahoe and big old California cabs on our 18th birthday. Gross, right? Really gross. But the (grotesquely mistaken) idea was that we were bringing each other into a better world, a different world, and a little at a time the true, good world would finally come.

This may sound a bit tinfoil but now I suspect that the problem may have been, all along, that all the college kids started to realize together (as I think they are still) that there was something sick at the roots of this tree of knowledge as it was then constituted. Strangely, dangerously healing, egalitarian ideas began to take hold; demographics changed, and the country began to move to the left. The 90s was the era of the tenured radical on campus, and the culture wars grew white-hot. Al Gore was elected president, and was prevented by the merest whisker from taking office. Even a barely left of center President Gore would have made things a little too parlous for the powers that be, who are on the same side as the Giannullis of the world.

Hess told me that some people think there’s one kind of education within the purview of everyone willing to work to get it, the “embarrassing” kind, and then there’s another kind that is luxury goods, strictly for “elites” from “elite” institutions—however corrupt the latter may be—served tableside by an underpaid servant class.

But the egalitarian view of education and the luxury view are mutually exclusive. Pulling up the drawbridge around your ivory tower only cuts it off from the global commons, which alone can provide the intellectual atmosphere in which a free society, and its academy, can breathe and thrive. Power wants its “meritocracy”: thus the eternal cake-having rhetoric around higher education, the queasy mingling of “exclusivity” and “diversity.”

Note too that the ruling class protects its interests as starkly on the fake left of the centrist Democrats as it does on the right, where the Koch brothers have long bought professors like they were so many cups of coffee. In Jacobin, Liza Featherstone’s … [more]
education  elitism  highered  highereducation  2019  mariabustillos  culture  society  smartness  petebuttigieg  operationvaristyblues  meritocracy  us  capitalism  competition  scarcity  lizafeatherstone  donaldtrump  centrism  herbchildress  academia  colleges  universities  rankings  admissions 
april 2019 by robertogreco
This Is How You Kill a Profession - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Like any addict, I have to be vigilant whenever higher ed calls again. I know what it means to be a member of that cult, to believe in the face of all evidence, to persevere, to serve. I know what it means to take a 50-percent pay cut and move across the country to be allowed back inside the academy as a postdoc after six years in the secular professions. To be grateful to give up a career, to give up economic comfort, in order to once again be a member.

Part of me still wants it. That kind of faith is in my bones, and reason can only bleach it away somewhat. The imprint is still there, faint, hauntingly imprecise, all the more venerable for its openness to dreams. I worked as a college administrator for seven years after that postdoc, because I couldn’t bear to be away from my beloved community even after it had set me aside. Because I couldn’t walk away.

All cults, all abusers, work the same way, taking us away from friends and family, demanding more effort and more sacrifice and more devotion, only to find that we remain the same tantalizing distance from the next promised level. And the sacrifice normalizes itself into more sacrifice, the devotion becomes its own reward, the burn of the hunger as good as the meal. "
herbchildress  academia  labor  work  cults  highereducation  highered  teaching  colleges  universities  health  inequality  tenure  competition  faith  abuse  adjuncts  service  class  precarity  capitalism  hungergames 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Malcolm Harris: College Admissions Scandal and Capitalism
"The idea that a high-achieving student is doing $100,000 worth of labor a year won’t be surprising to anyone who knows one. Without huge amounts of time and effort beginning at a young age, it’s incredibly hard to pull together the kind of résumé that’s needed in order to stand out to elite and competitive schools. These teens end up putting in so much labor that they are developing their specialized skills to professional levels before they finish high school. In some ways, the unmediated job market has lower standards than the most exclusive colleges do. The best child musicians and scientists and athletes are working very hard, and what they’re doing has value, too. We know it does, because their efforts are worth counterfeiting.

Student labor has a curious character. It’s unpaid, but the idea is that it will be compensated indirectly later. There are tests that are meant to validate kids along the way, including college admissions and ultimately the job market. A higher grade (in the broader but also in the specific, academic sense) is supposed to lead to a higher wage down the line, something everyone understands implicitly. The value from all that childhood work has to go somewhere; we can think of that place as a sort of internal battery that stores human capital, the skills and abilities that we put to work when we go to work. Counterfeit human capital is what William H. Macy and Mossimo Giannulli were allegedly buying for their kids: the appearance of skills and abilities that didn’t actually exist.

Human capital is an odd commodity because it’s inalienable. You can’t sell your ability to do 100 push-ups or your starting position on the soccer team or your Yale diploma. That means that workers can’t really be said to own their human capital, since it’s not transferable. It’s an abstract substance that can be weighed and compared, but also a relationship between workers and owners — that’s why companies can use it in place of “human resources.” Human capital belongs to workers, but only to be managed and exploited by employers. To monetize their abilities, workers need someone to hire or invest in them. (The number of workers who are able to save up their wages in order to start their own businesses is much smaller than we’re led to believe, and shrinking.) There is no fixed correlation between the accumulation of human capital and pay. You get paid to work, not to be smart.

Because no one is on the hook for compensating any particular young person for their hard work, there’s no reason to set a limit on how much of it they should do. The random distribution of talents and passions and the very predictable distribution of resources have left students with any number of ways to differentiate themselves from each other in the eyes of graders. An arms race arises as students are encouraged to try their hardest, to reach their full potentials, to use every advantage they have. We can see the scale of it in the forged applications: The aforementioned Yale admit claimed to be a nationally ranked soccer player in China, a nation of 1.4 billion people. The admissions committee had no reason not to believe it; I’m sure they see genuine applications like that all the time. There’s always someone who can try a little harder and stay up a bit later or whose parents can pay more. The level of competition gets higher and higher, and theoretically that’s great — as long as everyone eventually finds a job that will repay the investments they’ve made in their own capacities. You can see the problem.

The best thing you can do for your own future employment prospects is to invest in your human capital: learn to code or speak Mandarin or captain your sports team or whatever else the Aspen crowd wants from us this week. Training according to guesses about the notoriously unreliable future demands of rich people is not particularly fun, and it’s obvious why their own kids can’t be bothered. But most of us have to try, and there arises a supply-and-demand problem: If everyone teaches themselves to code and the supply of human capital goes up, it’s suddenly very easy for employers to find coders, and the demand (read: pay) goes down. What’s advantageous for the individual is self-defeating for the class.

The result is workers who have not only taken on an average of tens of thousands of dollars in educational debt, but have also put in what we can now understand as hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars’ worth of unpaid labor. Taking no responsibility for this situation, employers have used the flood of overqualified workers to lower job quality, sometimes so far as to stumble onto the wrong side of America’s meager labor laws. That leaves young people who had planned on higher-quality jobs (as they were told to) underwater on their own human capital. Having invested more in effort and money than their work can command on the market, they’re not in possession of distressed assets; they are the distressed assets. And they’re stuck with themselves.

I can’t speak to why people who will never have to work in their lives care about getting fancy degrees, but I know why everyone else does. As the distance between the rich and the rest increases, the stakes of childhood go up too. Failure at one of the crucial steps (like college admissions) means taking a loss on your investment in yourself, which is extremely depressing. Everyone is compelled to work harder to try to avoid that fate, except the business owners and landlords, who just have to pay higher bribes — which they can afford to do because all those people who are working harder are, in one way or another, working for them. Depending on whether or not you own the means of production, it’s all a virtuous or vicious cycle. For most of us, it’s the latter."
malcolmharris  2019  labor  education  schools  schooling  colleges  universities  admissions  collegeadmissions  children  work  capitalism  exploitation  competition  highereducation  highered  debt  unpaidlabor  humancapital 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Actresses, Business Leaders and Other Wealthy Parents Charged in U.S. College Entry Fraud - The New York Times
[using this bookmark as a placeholder for many links on this topic:

"Varsity Blues and the Destructive Myth of Meritocracy"
https://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/183433523388/varsity-blues-and-the-destructive-myth-of

"Inside the audacious college scheme to get kids of the rich and famous into elite schools"
https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-college-admission-scheme-varsity-blues-20190312-story.html

"The College Bribery Scam Reveals How Rich People Use 'Charity' to Cheat
Anand Giridharadas explains how alleged payoffs to test takers and athletic coaches are part of a larger ecosystem of elite hypocrisy."
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/panw7g/the-college-bribery-scam-shows-how-rich-people-felicity-huffman-lori-loughlin-allegedly-use-charity-to-cheat

"All College Admissions Are a Pay-to-Play Scandal"
https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/college-admissions-bribery-scandal-felicity-huffman-loughlin-analysis-explained.html

"One of Silicon Valley’s most prominent voices for ethical investing is implicated in a college admissions bribery scandal"
https://www.recode.net/2019/3/12/18262003/bill-mcglashan-college-admissions-scandal-tpg-stanford-usc-yale

"What the role of one Silicon Valley entrepreneur reveals about the college admissions scandal"
https://twitter.com/i/events/1105618857320865792

"The unfortunate reality behind meritocracy"
https://dellsystem.me/posts/fragments-71

"College Admission Scam Involved Photoshopping Rich Kids’ Heads Onto Athletes’ Bodies"
https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/college-admissions-scandal-kids-photoshopped-as-athletes.html

"Two CEOs. A wine magnate. A doctor: The Bay Area parents charged in a college bribe scandal"
https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/Two-CEOs-A-wine-magnate-A-doctor-The-Bay-Area-13683029.php

"Why the College-Admissions Scandal Is So Absurd: For the parents charged in a new FBI investigation, crime was a cheaper and simpler way to get their kids into elite schools than the typical advantages wealthy applicants receive."
https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2019/03/college-admissions-scandal-fbi-targets-wealthy-parents/584695/

"In the college admissions game, even the legal kind, money has always mattered"
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/In-the-college-admissions-game-even-the-legal-13683518.php

"Fifty charged in massive college admissions scheme"
https://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/fifty-charged-in-massive-college-admissions-scheme-1456907331756

"Bribes to Get Into Yale and Stanford? What Else Is New?: A new college admissions scandal is just the latest proof of a grossly uneven playing field."
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/12/opinion/college-bribery-admissions.html

"Bribery ringleader said he helped 750 families in admissions scheme"
https://www.axios.com/william-singer-college-bribery-fraud-scheme-d769eb2c-dfb2-4ea0-99f3-8135241c5984.html

"College admission scandal grew out of a system that was ripe for corruption"
https://theconversation.com/college-admission-scandal-grew-out-of-a-system-that-was-ripe-for-corruption-113439

"College Admissions Scandal Exposes Moral Rot at the Heart of US Plutocracy"
https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2019/03/13/college-admissions-scandal-exposes-moral-rot-at-the-heart-of-us-plutocracy/



Additional articles and resource predating the scandal, but relevant to the topic.

[syllabus] "Reconsidering Merit(ocracy)In K-12, Higher Education, and Beyond"
https://www.nadirahfarahfoley.com/reconsidering-meritocracy

"guest post: “legacy” admissions vs familial capital and the importance of precision"
https://scatter.wordpress.com/2017/09/02/guest-post-legacy-admissions-vs-familial-capital-and-the-importance-of-precision/

"Against Meritocracy: Culture, power and myths of mobility"
https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781317496045

"The Unfulfillable Promise of Meritocracy: Three Lessons and their Implications for Justice in Education"
https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/6w9rg/

"A Radical Plan to Combat Inequality in College Admissions: It's time universities began to think of themselves as producers of value, not arbiters of merit."
https://psmag.com/education/a-radical-plan-to-combat-inequality-in-college-admissions

"Racial Literacy as a Curricular Requirement: A core curriculum must be institutionalized and mandated for all students, argues Daisy Verduzco Reyes."
https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2019/03/08/colleges-should-have-required-core-curriculum-racial-literacy-opinion

"'I'm Tired Of Justifying My Admissions Letter To People'"
https://www.wbur.org/edify/2019/02/25/affirmative-action-self-advocacy

"White parents are enabling school segregation — if it doesn't hurt their own kids
This is what happens when anti-racism is no longer a major goal of educational policy."
https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/white-parents-are-enabling-school-segregation-if-it-doesn-t-ncna978446

"White progressive parents and the conundrum of privilege"
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-hagerman-white-parents-20180930-story.html

"How Elite Schools Stay So White"
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/24/opinion/affirmative-action-new-york-harvard.html ]
colleges  universities  admissions  privilege  wealth  inequality  varsityblues  scandals  legacy  legacyadmissions  race  racism  power  meritocracy  bribery  elitism  siliconvalley  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  anandgiridharadas  margarethagerman  noahberlatsky  nadirahfarahfoley  2019  education  parenting  economics  class  cheating  sats  testing  standardizedtesting  daisyverduzcoreyes  us  competitiveness  worth  value  merit  competition  motivation 
march 2019 by robertogreco
How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation
[some follow-up notes here:
https://annehelen.substack.com/p/how-millennials-grew-up-and-burned
https://annehelen.substack.com/p/its-that-simple ]

[See also:

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Until or in lieu of a … [more]
capitalism  neoliberalism  millennials  burnout  chores  work  parenting  2019  annehelenpetersen  cv  society  us  performance  meritocracy  inequality  competition  labor  leisure  perfectionism  success  schooliness  helicopterparenting  children  academia  economics  genx  genz  generations  generationx  socialmedia  instagram  balance  life  living  gigeconomy  passion  self-care  self-optimization  exhaustion  anxiety  decisionmaking  congnitiveload  insecurity  precarity  poverty  steadiness  laziness  procrastination  helicopterparents  work-lifebalance  canon  malcolmharris  joshcohen  hustling  hustle  overwork  arnekalleberg  efficiency  productivity  workplace  email  adulting  personalbranding  linkedin  facebook  consumption  homelessness  context  behavior 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Should America Be Run by … Trader Joe’s? (Ep. 359) - Freakonomics Freakonomics
"ROBERTO: “I’d like to open a new kind of grocery store. We’re not going to have any branded items. It’s all going to be private label. We’re going to have no television advertising and no social media whatsoever. We’re never going to have anything on sale. We’re not going to accept coupons. We’ll have no loyalty card. We won’t have a circular that appears in the Sunday newspaper. We’ll have no self-checkout. We won’t have wide aisles or big parking lots. Would you invest in my company?”



"So we put on our Freakonomics goggles in an attempt to reverse-engineer the secrets of Trader Joe’s. Which, it turns out, are incredibly Freakonomical: things like choice architecture and decision theory. Things like nudging and an embrace of experimentation. In fact, if Freakonomics were a grocery store, it might be a Trader Joe’s, or at least try to be. It’s like a real-life case study of behavioral economics at work. So, here’s the big question: if Trader Joe’s is really so good, should their philosophy be applied elsewhere? Should Trader Joe’s — I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but … should Trader Joe’s be running America?"
traderjoes  2018  freakanomics  retail  groceries  psychology  choice  paradoxofchoice  decisionmaking  michaelroberto  competition  microsoft  satyanadella  markgardiner  sheenaiyengar  economics  behavior  hiring 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Does It Matter Where You Go to College? - The Atlantic
"Research suggests that elite colleges don’t really help rich white guys. But they can have a big effect if you’re not rich, not white, or not a guy."


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

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

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

Third, to admissions officers of elite colleges: Do better. America’s most selective colleges can, it seems, change the lives of minorities and low-income students. But they’re still bastions of privilege. They enroll more students from the top 1 percent of the income scale than the entire bottom 60 percent. In this way, elite institutions are like factories of social mobility being used as storage facilities for privilege; they have the potential to use their space to manufacture opportunity at scale, but mostly they clear out real estate for the already rich, who are going to be fine, anyway. In America today, high-income parents are desperate to find the right colleges for their kids. It should be the opposite: The highest-income colleges should be desperate to find the right kids for their seats."
derekthompson  colleges  universities  data  education  highered  highereducation  admissions  addedvalue  anxiety  parenting  competition  inequality  academia 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Educator: In Finland, I realized how 'mean-spirited’ the U.S. education system really is - The Washington Post
"The public school system is free to all, for as long as they live. Compulsory education extends from age 6 to 16. After that, students can choose schools, tracks and interests. Students can track academically or vocationally, change their minds midstream, or meld the two together. Remember the goal: competency.

Though students are required to go to school only until age 16, those who leave before secondary school are considered dropouts. Programs designed to entice these youngsters — typically those who struggle academically for a variety of reasons — back into education address the national 5 percent dropout rate. We visited one of these classrooms where teachers rotated three weeks of instruction with three weeks of internships in area businesses.

We toured a secondary school with both a technical and academic wing. The teachers were experimenting with melding the two programs. In the technical wing, we visited a classroom where adults were receiving training to make a career switch. Free.

The fact that students can fail and return, or work and return, or retire and return had a palpable effect on the mood and the tone of the buildings. Surprisingly, considering their achievements, Finnish students spend less time in the classroom, have more breaks throughout the day, and benefit from receiving medical, dental, psychiatric care and healthful meals while in school. It was ... nice.

In comparison, the United States public school system (an idea we invented, by the way) seems decidedly mean-spirited.

Our students enter at around age 5 and have some 13 years to attain a high school diploma. Failure to earn a diploma is a dead end for most. In the United States, when students fail at school — or leave due to many other factors, sometimes just as resistant teenagers — we are done with you. Sure, there are outliers who are successful through luck, sweat, connections or all three, but for most, the lack of a diploma is a serious obstacle toward advancement.

Without a high school diploma, educational aspirations can be severely truncated. Students need a high school diploma to attend community colleges and many technical schools which provide access to advanced skills that impact the living standard.

With or without the needed diploma, any additional education is at the student’s expense in time or money — a further blow to financial standing.

The 13-year window of opportunity does not factor in the developmental level of students at the time of entry. Any educator knows that children do not arrive with the same readiness to learn.

There are many other differences. Unlike the Finnish competency system, ours is based on meeting a prescribed set of standards by passing tests of discrete knowledge. Our students face a gauntlet of tests, even though any standards can be woefully outdated by the time a graduate enters a quickly evolving job market. The Finns take matriculation tests (there is choice in these as well) at the end of secondary but all interviewed said the scores did not have much bearing on what students could do next.""
finland  schools  us  education  policy  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  competition  competitiveness  marytedro  valeriestrauss  politics  economics  assessment  testing  standardizedtesting  competency  vocational  schooling  2018  readiness  standardization  standards  work  labor  opportunity  dropouts  care  caring 
november 2018 by robertogreco
“When You Get That Wealthy, You Start to Buy Your Own Bullshit”: The Miseducation of Sheryl Sandberg | Vanity Fair
"Harvard Business School invented the “leadership” industry—and produced a generation of corporate monsters. No wonder Sandberg, one of the school’s most prominent graduates, lacks a functioning moral compass."



"The truth is, Harvard Business School, like much of the M.B.A. universe in which Sandberg was reared, has always cared less about moral leadership than career advancement and financial performance. The roots of the problem can be found in the School’s vaunted “Case Method,” a discussion-based pedagogy that asks students to put themselves in the role of corporate Übermensch. At the start of each class, one unlucky soul is put in the hot seat, presented with a “what would you do” scenario, and then subjected to the ruthless interrogation of their peers. Graded on a curve, the intramural competition can be intense—M.B.A.s are super-competitive, after all.

Let’s be clear about this: in business, as in life, there isn’t always one correct answer. So the teaching of a decision-making philosophy that is deliberate and systematic, but still open-minded, is hardly controversial on its face. But to help students overcome the fear of sounding stupid and being remorselessly critiqued, they are reminded, in case after case—and with emphasis—that there are no right answers. And that has had the unfortunate effect of opening up a chasm of moral equivalence in too many of their graduates.

And yet, there are obviously many situations where some answers are more right than others. Especially when it comes to moral issues like privacy, around which both Sandberg and Facebook have a history of demonstrating poor judgment. While H.B.S. is correct in its assertion that it produces people who can make decisions, the fact of the matter is that they have never emphasized how to make the right ones.

Consider investment banker Bowen McCoy’s “The Parable of the Sadhu,” published in Harvard Business Review in 1977, and again 20 years later. It addressed what seemed, at least to the H.B.S. crowd, to be an ethical dilemma. McCoy was on a trip to the Himalayas when his expedition encountered a sadhu, or holy man, near death from hypothermia and exposure. Their compassion extended only to clothing the man and leaving him in the sun, before continuing on to the summit. One of McCoy’s group saw a “breakdown between the individual ethic and the group ethic,” and was gripped by guilt that the climbers had not made absolutely sure that the sadhu made it down the mountain alive. McCoy’s response: “Here we are . . . at the apex of one of the most powerful experiences of our lives. . . . What right does an almost naked pilgrim who chooses the wrong trail have to disrupt our lives?”

McCoy later felt guilt over the incident, but his parable nevertheless illustrated the extent to which aspiring managers might justify putting personal accomplishment ahead of collateral damage—including the life of a dying man. The fact that H.B.S. enthusiastically incorporated said parable into its curriculum says far more about the fundamental mindset of the school than almost anything else that has come out of it. The “dilemma” was perfectly in line with the thinking at H.B.S. that an inability to clearly delineate the right choice in business isn’t the fault of the chooser but rather a fundamental characteristic of business, itself.

Here’s a slightly more recent example: remember Jeff Skilling? Like Sandberg, he graduated from H.B.S. and went to work at McKinsey. And like Sandberg, he left McKinsey for a C-suite gig—in his case, Enron—that took him to the stratosphere. Again like Sandberg, he basked in adulation over his ability to deliver shareholder returns. Skilling had done so, of course, by turning Enron into one of the greatest frauds the world has ever seen.

One of Skilling’s H.B.S. classmates, John LeBoutillier, who went on to be a U.S. congressman, later recalled a case discussion in which the students were debating what the C.E.O. should do if he discovered that his company was producing a product that could be potentially fatal to consumers. “I’d keep making and selling the product,” he recalled Skilling saying. “My job as a businessman is to be a profit center and to maximize return to the shareholders. It’s the government’s job to step in if a product is dangerous.” Several students nodded in agreement, recalled LeBoutillier. “Neither Jeff nor the others seemed to care about the potential effects of their cavalier attitude. . . . At H.B.S. . . . you were then, and still are, considered soft or a wuss if you dwell on morality or scruples.”

Why do so many M.B.A.s struggle to make the ethical decisions that seem so clear to the rest of us? Is it right to employ a scummy P.R. firm to deflect attention from our failures? Is it O.K. if we bury questions about user privacy and consent under a mountain of legalese? Can we get away with repeatedly choosing profits over principles and then promising that we will do better in the future?

If you think this kind of thing isn’t still going on at Harvard Business School—or wasn’t going on when Sandberg graduated in 1995—I refer you to Michel Anteby, who joined the faculty 10 years later, in 2005. At first enthusiastic, Anteby was soon flummoxed by the complete absence of normative viewpoints in classroom discussion. “I grew up in France where there were very articulated norms,” he told the BBC in 2015. “Higher norms and lower norms. Basically, you have convictions of what was right or wrong, and when I tried to articulate this in the classroom, I encountered . . . silence on the part of students. Because they weren’t used to these value judgments in the classroom.”

Eight years after his arrival, Anteby published Manufacturing Morals: The Values of Silence in Business School Education. The book was not published by Harvard but the University of Chicago Press. Calling the case system an “unscripted journey” for students, it was one of the first times an insider had joined the chorus of outsiders who have long criticized the case method as one that glamorizes the C.E.O.-as-hero, as well as the overuse of martial terminology in business curricula. (The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Mark Zuckerberg currently considers Facebook “at war.”)

“H.B.S. studies everybody under the sun,” Anteby told me in early 2015. “There is no reason we should be off limits.” Alas, they were. Not long after his book was published, Anteby came to believe that H.B.S. would not grant him tenure, and left the school soon after. “He is an unbelievably productive and smart guy,” one of his supporters, the University of Michigan’s Jerry Davis, told me later that year. “And they fired him. Probably because H.B.S. wasn’t the right place to have a conversation about itself. It would be like being at Versailles in 1789, offering up leadership secrets of Louis XIV. The really unfortunate part is that he wasn’t as harsh as he should have been, because he was up for tenure.”

The absence of voices like Anteby’s are evident to this day, and an ongoing indictment of the culture that turned Facebook from a Harvard sophomore’s dorm-room project into what passes for a Harvard Business School success story. Return one last time to the H.B.R. Web site, and you will find a case study that was published just a few months ago entitled “Facebook—Can Ethics Scale in the Digital Age?” Set aside the abuse of the English language in the question—M.B.A.s specialize in that kind of thing. The mere fact that it’s being asked serves as resounding proof that the moral equivalence problem is still with us today. The question is not whether or not a company of Facebook’s size and reach can stay ethical. The question is whether it will even try."
harvard  harvardbusinessschool  ethics  sherylsandberg  facebook  2018  business  careerism  morality  hbs  via:nicoleslaw  leadership  billclinton  mba  mbas  harvardbusinessrevie  hbr  duffmcdonald  competition  competitiveness  winning  decisionmaking  billgeorge  larrysummers  abrahamzaleznik  johnleboutillier  jeffskilling  bowenmccoy  michelanteby  norms  values  capitalism  neoliberalism 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Thread by @ecomentario: "p.31 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… p.49 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.co […]"
[on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/1007269183317512192 ]

[many of the captures come from: "From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy" by Gustavo Esteva, Madhu S. Prakash, and Dana L. Stuchul, which is no longer available online as a standalone PDF (thus the UTexas broken link), but is inside the following document, also linked to in the thread.]

[“Rethinking Freire: Globalization and the Environmental Crisis" edited by C.A.Bowers and Frédérique Apffel-Marglin
https://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A.+Bowers,+Frdrique+Apffel-Marglin,+Frederique+Apffel-Marglin,+Chet+A.+Bowers+Re-Thinking+Freire+Globalization+and+the+Environmental+Crisis+Sociocultural,+Political,+and+Historical+Studies+in+Educatio+2004.pdf ]
isabelrodíguez  paulofreire  ivanillich  wendellberry  subcomandantemarcos  gandhi  2018  gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  deschooling  colonialism  future  environment  sustainability  cabowers  frédériqueapffel-marglin  education  campesinos  bolivia  perú  pedagogyoftheoppressed  globalization  marinaarratia  power  authority  hierarchy  horizontality  socialjustice  justice  economics  society  community  cooperation  collaboration  politics  progress  growth  rural  urban  altruism  oppression  participation  marginality  marginalization  karlmarx  socialism  autonomy  local  slow  small  capitalism  consumerism  life  living  well-being  consumption  production  productivity  gustavoterán  indigeneity  work  labor  knowledge  experience  culture  joannamacy  spirituality  buddhism  entanglement  interdependence  interbeing  interexistence  philosophy  being  individualism  chiefseattle  lutherstandingbear  johngrim  ethics  morethanhuman  multispecies  humans  human  posthumnism  transhumanism  competition  marxism  liberation  simplicity  poverty  civilization  greed  p 
june 2018 by robertogreco
School is Literally a Hellhole – Medium
"By continually privileging and training our eyes on a horizon “beyond the walls of the school” — whether that be achievement, authentic audiences, the real world, the future, even buzz or fame — have we inadvertently impoverished school of its value and meaning, turning it into a wind-swept platform where we do nothing but gaze into another world or brace ourselves for the inevitable? Here we have less and less patience for the platform itself, for learning to live with others who will be nothing more than competitors in that future marketplace."



"What would be possible if we instead were to wall ourselves up with one another, fostering community and care among this unlikely confluence of souls? Does privileging the proximate, present world render any critique of or contribution to the larger world impossible?

I don’t think so. Learning to protect, foster, and value the humans in our care will often automatically put us in direct conflict with the many forces that disrupt or diminish those values. More than reflecting the real world or the future or some outside standard or imperative, kids need to see themselves reflected and recognized in these rooms. This is true even in the most privileged of environments. Providing recognition means valuing students' perspectives and experiences, but also helping them gain critical consciousness of themselves and their world, which they often intuit.

These tasks aren’t disconnected from the outside world, but often need a smaller, more human-sized community in which to flourish. The impulse to test and measure continually intrudes upon this process. But so do other prying eyes, ones that cast our students as entrepreneurial, capitalistic, future-ready, self-motivated, passionate individuals — and that often shame those who can’t or won’t conform to this ideal.

We should ask ourselves to what extent those outside standards and ideals are antithetical to the values of education — civic discourse, collectivity, cooperation, care. I realize this post is short on specifics, but let’s be more cautious about always forcing one another out into unforgiving gaze of others, commending the merits of a world beyond this one."
arthurchiaravalli  schools  schooling  schooliness  presence  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  highschool  competition  coexistence  community  benjamindoxtdator  engagement  blogging  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  personalbranding  innovation  johndewey  work  labor  nietzsche  collectivism  collectivity  cooperation  care  caring  merit  entrepreneurship  passion  2018  foucault  michelfoucault 
june 2018 by robertogreco
[Easy Chair] | Abolish High School, by Rebecca Solnit | Harper's Magazine
"I didn’t go to high school. This I think of as one of my proudest accomplishments and one of my greatest escapes, because everyone who grows up in the United States goes to high school. It’s such an inevitable experience that people often mishear me and think I dropped out.

I was a withdrawn, bookish kid all through elementary school, but the difficulty of being a misfit intensified when I started seventh grade. As I left campus at the end of my first day, people shouted insults that ensured I knew my clothes didn’t cut it. Then there was P.E., where I had to don a horrendous turquoise-striped polyester garment that looked like a baby’s onesie and follow orders to run or jump or play ball — which is hard to do when you’re deeply withdrawn — after which I had to get naked, in all my late-bloomer puniness, and take showers in front of strangers. In science class we were graded on crafting notebooks with many colors of pen; in home economics, which was only for girls — boys had shop — we learned to make a new kind of cake by combining pudding mix with cake mix; even in English class I can remember reading only one book: Dickens’s flattest novel, Hard Times. At least the old history teacher in the plaid mohair sweaters let me doze in the front row, so long as I knew the answers when asked.

In junior high, everything became a little more dangerous. Most of my peers seemed to be learning the elaborate dance between the sexes, sometimes literally, at school dances I never dreamed of attending, or in the form of the routines through which girls with pompoms ritually celebrated boys whose own role in that rite consisted of slamming into one another on the field.

I skipped my last year of traditional junior high school, detouring for ninth and tenth grade into a newly created alternative junior high. (The existing alternative high school only took eleventh and twelfth graders.) The district used this new school as a dumping ground for its most insubordinate kids, so I shared two adjoining classrooms with hard-partying teenage girls who dated adult drug dealers, boys who reeked of pot smoke, and other misfits like me. The wild kids impressed me because, unlike the timorous high achievers I’d often been grouped with at the mainstream school, they seemed fearless and free, skeptical about the systems around them.

There were only a few dozen students, and the adults treated us like colleagues. There was friendship and mild scorn but little cruelty, nothing that pitted us against one another or humiliated us, no violence, no clearly inculcated hierarchy. I didn’t gain much conventional knowledge, but I read voraciously and had good conversations. You can learn a lot that way. Besides, I hadn’t been gaining much in regular school either.

I was ravenous to learn. I’d waited for years for a proper chance at it, and the high school in my town didn’t seem like a place where I was going to get it. I passed the G.E.D. test at fifteen, started community college the following fall, and transferred after two semesters to a four-year college, where I began, at last, to get an education commensurate with my appetite.

What was it, I sometimes wonder, that I was supposed to have learned in the years of high school that I avoided? High school is often considered a definitive American experience, in two senses: an experience that nearly everyone shares, and one that can define who you are, for better or worse, for the rest of your life. I’m grateful I escaped the particular definition that high school would have imposed on me, and I wish everyone else who suffered could have escaped it, too.

For a long time I’ve thought that high school should be abolished. I don’t mean that people in their teens should not be educated at public expense. The question is what they are educated in. An abolitionist proposal should begin by acknowledging all the excellent schools and teachers and educations out there; the people who have a pleasant, useful time in high school; and the changes being wrought in the nature of secondary education today. It should also recognize the tremendous variety of schools, including charter and magnet schools in the public system and the private schools — religious, single-sex, military, and prep — that about 10 percent of American students attend, in which the values and pedagogical systems may be radically different. But despite the caveats and anomalies, the good schools and the students who thrive (or at least survive), high school is hell for too many Americans. If this is so, I wonder why people should be automatically consigned to it.

In 2010, Dan Savage began the It Gets Better Project, which has gathered and posted video testimonials from gay and lesbian adults and queer-positive supporters (tens of thousands of them, eventually, including professional sports stars and the president) to address the rash of suicides by young queer people. The testimonials reassure teenagers that there is life after high school, that before long they’ll be able to be who they are without persecution — able to find love, able to live with dignity, and able to get through each day without facing intense harassment. It’s a worthy project, but it implicitly accepts that non-straight kids must spend their formative years passing through a homophobic gauntlet before arriving at a less hostile adult world. Why should they have to wait?

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens, responsible for some 4,600 deaths per year. Federal studies report that for every suicide there are at least a hundred attempts — nearly half a million a year. Eight percent of high school students have attempted to kill themselves, and 16 percent have considered trying. That’s a lot of people crying out for something to change.

We tend to think that adolescence is inherently ridden with angst, but much of the misery comes from the cruelty of one’s peers. Twenty-eight percent of public school students and 21 percent of private school students report being bullied, and though inner-city kids are routinely portrayed in the press as menaces, the highest levels of bullying are reported among white kids and in nonurban areas. Victims of bullying are, according to a Yale study, somewhere between two and nine times more likely to attempt suicide. Why should children be confined to institutions in which these experiences are so common?

Antibullying programs have proliferated to such an extent that even the Southern Poverty Law Center has gotten involved, as though high school had joined its list of hate groups. An educational video produced by the S.P.L.C. focuses on the case of Jamie Nabozny, who successfully sued the administrators of his small-town Wisconsin school district for doing nothing to stop — and sometimes even blaming him for — the years of persecution he had suffered, including an attack that ruptured his spleen. As Catherine A. Lugg, an education scholar specializing in public school issues, later wrote, “The Nabozny case clearly illustrates the public school’s historic power as the enforcer of expected norms regarding gender, heteronormativity, and homophobia.”

I once heard Helena Norberg-Hodge, an economic analyst and linguist who studies the impact of globalization on nonindustrialized societies, say that generational segregation was one of the worst kinds of segregation in the United States. The remark made a lasting impression: that segregation was what I escaped all those years ago. My first friends were much older than I was, and then a little older; these days they are all ages. We think it’s natural to sort children into single-year age cohorts and then process them like Fords on an assembly line, but that may be a reflection of the industrialization that long ago sent parents to work away from their children for several hours every day.

Since the 1970s, Norberg-Hodge has been visiting the northern Indian region of Ladakh. When she first arrived such age segregation was unknown there. “Now children are split into different age groups at school,” Norberg-Hodge has written. “This sort of leveling has a very destructive effect. By artificially creating social units in which everyone is the same age, the ability of children to help and to learn from each other is greatly reduced.” Such units automatically create the conditions for competition, pressuring children to be as good as their peers. “In a group of ten children of quite different ages,” Norberg-Hodge argues, “there will naturally be much more cooperation than in a group of ten twelve-year-olds.”

When you are a teenager, your peers judge you by exacting and narrow criteria. But those going through the same life experiences at the same time often have little to teach one another about life. Most of us are safer in our youth in mixed-age groups, and the more time we spend outside our age cohort, the broader our sense of self. It’s not just that adults and children are good for adolescents. The reverse is also true. The freshness, inquisitiveness, and fierce idealism of a wide-awake teenager can be exhilarating, just as the stony apathy of a shut-down teenager can be dismal.

A teenager can act very differently outside his or her peer group than inside it. A large majority of hate crimes and gang rapes are committed by groups of boys and young men, and studies suggest that the perpetrators are more concerned with impressing one another and conforming to their group’s codes than with actual hatred toward outsiders. Attempts to address this issue usually focus on changing the social values to which such groups adhere, but dispersing or diluting these groups seems worth consideration, too.

High school in America is too often a place where one learns to conform or take punishment — and conformity is itself a kind of punishment, one that can flatten out your soul or estrange you from it.

High school, particularly the suburban and small-town varieties, can … [more]
rebeccasolnit  2015  highschool  education  schools  schooling  adolescence  unschooling  deschooling  oppression  teens  youth  hierarchy  agesegregation  internships  apprenticeships  mentoring  mentors  popularity  jockocracies  sports  rapeculture  us  society  peers  hatecrime  conformity  values  helenanorberg-hodge  lcproject  openstudioproject  cooperation  competition  segregation  bullying  bullies  splc  persecution  gender  sexuality  heteronormativity  homophobia  angst  cruelty  suicide  dances  prom  misfits  friendship  learning  howwelearn  srg  glvo  edg 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Learning Reimagined Conference: Why Unschooling as Decolonisation | Growing Minds
"Almost 600 words later and you still don’t know why unschooling as decolonisation. It’s simple. Because schooling is colonising. Compulsory schools are designed in the image of colonialism. Colonialism’s modality was power and violence. Compulsory Schools’ modality is power and violence. Colonialism was/is oppressive. Compulsory schooling is oppressive. Colonialism took away people’s freedoms to define the trajectory of their cultures and nations for themselves. Compulsory schooling takes away from young people the freedom to define their own growths and potentials. Colonialism imposed on nations and peoples an economic system that is rigged in favour of a minority to the detriment of the majority. Its values are competition, winning, control, profit, individualism. Schooling imposes on young people an education system that is rigged in favour of a minority and to the detriment of the majority. The values of schooling are competition, winning, control, results and individualism. We’re all hurting in this system.

That the schooling system is fashioned in the image of colonialism is not its worst attribute. It’s real danger is that compulsory schooling upholds and maintains colonialism by upholding colonial values that the colonising countries or settlers still benefit from. It is one of the master’s primary tools that keeps the master’s house intact. It is a system of separation of parents and siblings, separation of different groupings, of the creation of the ‘other’, of separating knowledge into subjects while devaluing some knowledge and privileging others, of the ‘class’room that maintains the class structure, of dominion of humans over nature, of endless wars, of poverty, of loneliness, of diminishing mental health, of……..

As unschoolers we can see that the master’s tool won’t dismantle the master’s house. But unschooling potentially can!

And that is why Unschooling as Decolonisation."
unschooling  education  schooling  schools  colonization  2018  compulsory  class  race  ethnicity  power  loneliness  poverty  relationships  families  agesegregation  colonialism  individualism  control  competition  interdependence  freedom  liberation  zakiyyaismail  deschooling  learning  culture  society  violence  decolonization 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Admit Everybody | Current Affairs
"There are two conclusions here, one of which I agree with and one of which I find objectionable. The conclusion I agree with is that the SAT may be the “least bad” of three options for competitive admissions, when compared with using grades or Mushy Holistic Factors, and that therefore eliminating the SAT alone won’t in and of itself produce greater equality and could backfire. (I even have a certain soft spot for the SAT because it enabled me, a person who didn’t know any of the weird upper-class “holistic” signals that impress colleges, to go to a good college.) But the conclusion I disagree with is that this somehow makes a “progressive case for the SAT,” or that we should “defend the SAT.” This is the same logic that causes people like Nicholas Kristof to argue that because sweatshops are supposedly better than farm labor, there is a progressive case for sweatshops and we should defend them. This is one of the differences between liberalism and leftism: liberalism argues for the least bad of several bad options, while leftism insists on having a better set of options.

It’s the talk about “powerful ways” to “distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack” that troubles me. My concern is about what happens to the rest of the pack! As my acquaintance Patrick Conner put it, the difference between meritocracy and socialism is “I don’t want everyone to have a fair shot at the 15% of non-shitty lives, I want everyone to have a decent life.” Instead of arguing for the least-unfair version of the brutally competitive war of all-against-all that is the contemporary college admissions system, the progressive case should be that we ought to have an actual fair admissions system.

In other words: just admit everybody. The whole “competitive” nature of undergraduate admissions is absurd to begin with, and the very fact that students are sorted according to “merit” is socially corrosive. Let’s face it: college isn’t like brain surgery or social work. People’s lives aren’t in your hands. Instead of finding the “top ten best people” we should be selecting “anyone who has proved they are capable of doing the expected work.” Competitive admissions are as irrational as grading curves. With a grading curve, only X percent of the class will get As on their papers, even if every single person in the class wrote an excellent paper, which forces you to start making silly and arbitrary distinctions in a contrived effort to pit the students against each other. The better way to grade is by developing a standard independently and giving students a qualification if they meet the standard. Here’s the admissions parallel: everyone who shows themselves capable of doing the work required of a Harvard undergrad is marked “qualified” for Harvard and allowed to apply. There are a limited number of places, of course, but those places will be filled by selecting a random group of students from among all of those marked “qualified.” You might still get a very low percentage of applicants admitted because space is limited, but it won’t be because those applicants have been deemed worthier, it will be because the lottery happened to favor them.

My vision of universities is as a place where anybody can come and learn, so long as they can do the work. Now, you could argue that at elite schools, the work is so hard that only a few people would be qualified to do it. That’s false, though. I have been a TF at Harvard, so I am acquainted with the level of rigor in the undergraduate curriculum, and it’s obvious that vastly more students than the 4.8% they actually admit are capable of passing the courses. In fact, possibly the majority of the applicants could do fine. We know that college admissions are a crapshoot. But let’s just make them an actual crapshoot, so that nobody would be deluded into thinking that merit was involved, beyond the merit of basic literacy and numeracy.

We might have a different system at the graduate level, where higher levels of specialized skill are required. But I think the same principle should be followed: set a clear standard for the minimum a student needs to be able to do. Make that standard public, so that everybody knows that if they can do X they will have the same shot at being admitted to a program as anybody else. Then choose at random from among those who have met the basic standard.

Alright, so you can probably come up with half a dozen criticisms of this system, the way you can criticize the idea of a randomly-selected congress or a jury trial. Colleges will raise the “basic standard” to unrealistic levels and thus recreate a highly-competitive admissions system, and Harvard will start pretending that you need to be able to do calculus in order to muddle your way to a Bachelor of Arts there. (You don’t.) As long as you still have underlying social and economic inequalities, you can’t actually have an equal system, because everything will reflect those inequalities until we get rid of them. Rich parents will always find ways to make sure their children get more than other children. This is part of Freddie’s point, and he is right: instead of fixing the admissions system you have to fix the economic system, because you can’t isolate the one from the other. It’s an important point, but it doesn’t amount to a defense of the “meritocracy” illusion or the concept of “distinguishing from the rest of the pack.” And the left’s education experts should be devising practical alternatives to meritocracy rather than slightly-less-awful versions of it.

We should always be clear on what the goal is: a world in which we don’t all have to fight each other all the time, where we can work together in solidarity rather than having to wage war against our friends for the privilege of having a good job. There is no reason why everyone shouldn’t have equal access to the highest-quality education, and in a properly organized society it would be perfectly simple to provide it. We don’t need “best” and “worst” universities, ranked from top to bottom, we just need “universities,” places where people go to explore human knowledge and acquire the skills that enable them to do things that need doing. Progressive education means an end to the illusion of meritocratic competition, an end to the SAT, and the realization of a vision of equal education for all."
sat  standardizedtesting  testing  nathanrobinson  2018  freddiedeboer  bias  elitism  inequality  meritocracy  liberalism  leftism  progressive  patrickconner  socialism  competition  selectivity  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  admissions  education  ranking  society  merit  fairness  egalitarianism 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Why Norway Is So Good at the 2018 Winter Olympics | Time
"But a distinctly Norweigan rule for their youth sports may strike a particular chord with many Americans. (This one included: I’m a youth sports parent, and wrote a TIME cover story on the booming kid sports industry last summer).

Ovrebo says that in Norway, organized youth sports teams cannot keep score until they are 13. “We want to leave the kids alone,” says Ovrebo. “We want them to play. We want them to develop, and be focused on social skills. They learn a lot from sports. They learn a lot from playing. They learn a lot from not being anxious. They learn a lot from not being counted. They learn a lot from not being judged. And they feel better. And they tend to stay on for longer.”"
norway  sports  play  games  winterolympics  olympics  2018  children  youth  judgement  competition  confidence  anxiety 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Stefano Harney on Study (Interview July 2011, Part 5) - YouTube
"we’re talking about getting together with others and determining what needs to be learned together and spending time with that material and spending time with each other without any objective, without any endpoint"



"[Study] almost always happens against the university. It almost always happens in the university, but under the university, in its undercommons, in those places that are not recognized, not legitimate…"

[See also Margaret Edson: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:181e6f50825b ]
2011  stefanoharney  study  studies  highered  highereducation  resistance  unschooling  deschooling  labor  work  informal  community  interdependence  cv  credit  credentialism  accreditation  slavery  blackness  debt  capitalism  fredmoten  universities  undercommons  freedom  practice  praxis  learning  communities  objectives  messiness  howwelearn  productivity  production  product  circumstance  producing  nothing  nothingness  idleness  relationships  imperatives  competition  howestudy  self-development  sharing  subversion  education  baddebt  studentdebt  completion  unfinished  margaretedson 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Ana Mardoll on Twitter: "The thing about every "I did [ableist thing] and everyone was happy with me" article is that it relies heavily on human confirmation bias.… https://t.co/2wRZLAj4yF"
"The thing about every "I did [ableist thing] and everyone was happy with me" article is that it relies heavily on human confirmation bias. https://twitter.com/nrsmithccny/status/934032393572356096

Most humans are poised to believe that our decisions will have good outcomes. That's why we MAKE the decisions, after all. We pick what seems like the best decision and we hope it turns out well.

Recognizing that the decision was a BAD one in retrospect is REALLY HARD, and becomes even harder when we have to grapple with the fact that we hurt people in the process.

So when teachers ban laptops or fidget spinners or whatever, or when employers force everyone to wear fitbits and take the stairs, they're STARTING with the belief that this will have a good outcome.

Then we look at the words Nicholas has used there: "Low cost" to ban electronics. Well, for him it surely was!

For the students who had to scramble to buy paper and pens and bags to carry them in when they'd been EXPECTING to use the laptop they already owned... a bit more cost.

"Minimal Resistance". That isn't really surprising when we understand that disabled students aren't the majority--which is why they're so easy to stomp all over.

Also not surprising when we understand the high COST of "resisting". Easier to drop the class.

"Learning improved dramatically" but based on what? Knowing that this is a situation heavily prone to bias, how do we measure that?

This isn't pedantry. We're talking about a school. Research methods are important.

We also need to understand how fucked up it is when the goal is to maximize the experience for the geniuses in the class and if the bottom 10% drop out because it's too hard, that's considered a GOOD thing.

If banning electronics causes a "sharpening" of the grade curve--fewer "middle" students, but the higher ones get higher and the lower ones go lower--that means embracing the destruction of the weak in order to elevate your preferred students.

The American school system is competitive in really messed up ways, and electronics bans play into that. If you can't "cut it" with paper notes, you're left behind. Teaching as social Darwinism.

I am going to add, and folks aren't going to like this, that professors are some of the most ableist people on the planet. In my experience.

They've risen to the top of a heavily ableist system that is DEEPLY invested in pretending that it's merit-based.

In the midst of that merit-based pretense, they're also urged to believe that they're biologically better, smarter, cleverer, deeper thinkers.

So you have people who believe they are biologically better than disabled people but also think they know how to accommodate us. Red flags right there.

They're also steeped in a competitive atmosphere where learning takes a backseat to rankings and numbers games and competition.

So very quickly any accommodation seems like "cheating".

You need an extra hour to take the test? How is that FAIR to the OTHER students?

We wouldn't ask these questions if we weren't obsessively ranking and grading and comparing students to each other in an attempt to sift out the "best".

Why do we do that? Well, part of it is a dance for capitalism; the employers want a shiny GPA number so they know who will be the better employee.

But a lot of professors don't really think about that. They just live for the competition itself, and they view us as disruptive.

They also view us, fundamentally, as lesser. No matter how much we learn, we'll never be peak students because we're disabled.

That means we're disposable if we threaten the actual "peak" students and their progress.

That's why laptop ban conversations ALWAYS devolve into "but if you allow laptops for disabled kids, the able-bodied students will use them and be distracted!"

The worry is that the abled-kids who COULD be "peak" students won't be.

If the options are:

(1) Disabled kid, 3.5 GPA. Abled kid, 3.5 GPA.

(2) Disabled kid, 2.0 GPA, Abled kid, 4.0 GPA.

They'll pick #2 every time. They don't want everyone to do moderately well; they want a Star.

Professors want STARS, because a STAR means they're doing well. They're the best coach in the competitive sports they call "school".

Throwing a disabled student under the bus to make sure the able-bodied Star isn't distracted? No brainer. 9 out of 10 professors will do it.

I had very few professors--over 7 years and 2 schools--who recognized the ranking system was garbage.

One of them told us on the first day of class that we would all get As, no matter what we did. Told us that we didn't even need to show up, but that he HOPED we would because he believed we could learn from him.

I learned more from that class than maybe any other I took that year. The erasure of all my fear, anxiety, competition, and need to "win" left me able to focus SO much better.

It's INTERESTING that we don't talk about banning GRADES and instead we ban laptops.

We could improve learning dramatically if we banned grades. But we don't. Why not?

- Capitalism. We want employers to pick our students.

- Ableism. We LIKE ranking humans from better to worse.

- Cynicism. We don't believe students WANT to learn, we think we need to force them.

So in an effort to forced Abled Allen to be the best in a competition for capitalism, we ban laptops.

If Disabled Debbie does poorly after the laptop ban, it's no great tragedy; she was never going to be a 4.0 student anyway. Not like Abled Allen, the winner.

Anyway. Laptop bans are ableist. So is a moratorium on any notes whatsoever. Let students learn the way they feel comfortable learning.

And asking students to "trust" teachers will put disabled students first is naive in the extreme.

I don't "trust" a team coach to prioritize the needs of a third-string quarterback. Maybe some will, but most won't.

(Final note that there ARE good teachers out there and even good DISABLED teachers. I'm talking about systemic problems, not saying that all professors are evil. The problem is the system, not necessarily the people.)

(Although some of the people ARE trash. But only some.)

The original tweet is gone and please don't harass the teacher in question. Here's a screenshot for context, otherwise my thread makes little sense.

I want to add something that I touched on in another thread: Teachers are PROFOUNDLY out of touch when it comes to note-taking.

I guaran-fucking-tee these college teachers who "insist" their students note-take by hand aren't hand-writing to this extent.

For example, the quoted tweet has a professor saying "you just type whatever I say without thinking". That is so ridiculous.Ana My mobile still could load it.

Hardly anyone I know types fast enough to transcribe human speech.

When I take typed notes, I'm choosing what to include and what to leave out. Those choices are interacting with the material.

I'm not recording like a robot.

These professors have been out of the "student seat" for so long that they don't know what studenting is like.

They think we're transcriptionists when we're not. They think pen-and-paper students are paying perfect attention when they're not.

They think writing notes for 4-5 classes a day for 4-7 years is easy on the hands, when it's not.

They just don't KNOW, but (scarily!) they think they do."
notetaking  ableism  laptops  highered  highereducation  learning  education  meritocracy  capitalism  cynicism  grades  grading  sorting  ranking  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  disabilities  disability  transcription  typing  lectures  resistance  socialdarwinism  elitism  competition  anamardoll 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Antropoceno | dpr-barcelona
"Cuando Las Patronas lanzan comida en bolsas a las entrañas de La Bestia quizás no son conscientes de la relevancia de su gesto a escala geológica. Movidas por empatía activan colectivamente un mecanismo ancestral de cooperación recurrente en todos los seres vivos una vez superada la etapa de recelo y competencia. Al instinto competitivo que levanta muros, intercalan una estrategia inteligente que inventa protocolos, revienta límites y difumina fronteras.

Existen otros gestos que generan flujos con impacto a escala geológica. Quizás nos somos conscientes de que en nuestros bolsillos llevamos pequeños trozos de África procesados en China y del gasto energético y material de la infraestructura que nos permite estar continuamente conectados.[1] La necesidad de actualización y los ciclos cortos de renovación se traducen en teléfonos obsoletos apilándose en los cajones de nuestras casas.

Las anteriores narrativas ilustran dos formas de relación de la especie humana con el entorno y la presión que constantemente ejercemos sobre el. Un proceso de consumo y desposesión continuos, acelerados especialmente a raíz de la Revolución Industrial y puesto en evidencia por el cambio climático, es el que ha llevado a plantear conceptos como el Antropoceno, que sugiere que hemos entrado en una era geológica marcada por la influencia de la actividad humana en el planeta.

No existe consenso respecto al inicio del Antropoceno[2], algunos proponen buscarlo en los albores de la agricultura, ya que es donde se pueden encontrar las primeras evidencias de sedimentación que delatan esta actividad humana que permitió a los humanos asentarse en comunidades con densidades nunca antes vistas, mientras que otros autores señalan la Revolución Industrial o el inicio de la carrera nuclear.

Y qué papel tiene la arquitectura dentro de este panorama? Hasta ahora entendíamos que todas las realizaciones arquitectónicas han ocurrido durante el Holoceno. Es bajo las condiciones ambientales de este período geológico en las que nuestra disciplina ha ido especializándose. Sin embargo, estas condiciones no son inmutables y tenemos certeza científica de que han ido cambiando aceleradamente desde finales del siglo XIX.[3] Actualmente existe cierto consenso sobre el impacto que la práctica arquitectónica tiene sobre el medio ambiente. La mayor parte de este impacto no se debe tanto a la construcción sino al consumo de energía derivado del transporte, técnicas y materiales constructivos. Además los análisis de ciclo de vida de los edificios coinciden en que es mayor el impacto energético por su mantenimiento que por su construcción. Las buenas prácticas apuntan que el reciclaje, la minimización del transporte y el uso de recursos locales son las mejores estrategias de mitigación.

Sin embargo un repaso crítico nos muestra que las premisas ambientales están lejos de ser las que regulen la producción arquitectónica, y que en la profesión siguen importando más las valoraciones estéticas o económicas. Por otro lado, las estrategias de adaptación y cobijo que hemos refinando responden a condiciones ambientales que previsiblemente no sigan siendo las mismas. Así que al parecer practicamos una disciplina todavía muy coqueta y poco previsora.

Y es que en realidad, los arquitectos disponemos de pocas herramientas e incluso de lenguaje para lidiar con fenómenos complejos o con cambios evolutivos. Y el panorama incierto que tenemos por delante desborda las habilidades técnicas, estáticas y formales que presuntamente definen la excelencia arquitectónica. Lo sostenible no es más que una etiqueta bucólica o un slogan de marca para adaptarse a condiciones ambientales que en realidad son difícilmente reversibles, mientras que la incertidumbre y el cambio son las verdaderas constantes que tenemos por delante.[4] Los defensores del aceleracionismo lo han comprendido al anticipar un hipotético fin del capitalismo y su ethos productivo, de los que al parecer no seremos capaces de renunciar. Porque seamos absolutamente sinceros: no hemos logrado mucho con buenas intenciones, apelaciones morales o previsiones desalentadoras. Mientras tanto la arquitectura sigue siendo en realidad una práctica subordinada a los intereses, posibilidades y consecuencias del sistema financiero.

Es posible reorientar nuestra profesión frente a este panorama? Tal vez el reto esté en una paulatina reconversión, que incorpore protocolos que permitan responder a la incertidumbre en lugar de generar soluciones cerradas. Una estrategia de acciones capaces de incorporar accidentes y generar respuestas emergentes a problemas que no han aparecido todavía, que es como funciona la evolución.

Es posible que en el gesto de Las Patronas encontremos alguna pista. Este grupo trabaja colectivamente con la incertidumbre; sus acciones afectan y se ven afectadas por una infraestructura de movilidad. Sin planificarlo a largo plazo, inciden sobre un flujo de vidas y memorias, ayudan a modificar la ecología de las poblaciones, de los sistemas urbanos y las regiones en los que interactuará la población que emigra. Y de forma análoga, quizás el coltán, cobre y demás minerales de nuestros teléfonos móviles estén a la espera de nuevas formas de minería que los rescaten de nuestros cajones.

Porque no solo moldeamos el mundo con nuestra actividad; el medio ambiente también nos moldea a nosotros y los cambios que introducimos modifican entornos y organismos que al final tienen consecuencias sobre nosotros mismos. La arquitectura del Antropoceno será menos anthropos y más colectivo. Un sistema de gestión de incertidumbres que genere soluciones dinámicas y evolutivas útiles para diferentes formas de vida, sean humanas o no."
anthropocene  2017  architecture  capitalism  laspatronas  mexico  migration  borders  competition  cooperation  markets  sustainability  uncertainty  collectivism  accelerationism  groth  ecology  environment  ethelbaraonapohl  césarreyesnájera  dpr-barcelona 
november 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
[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
Equitable Schools for a Sustainable World - Long View on Education
"“The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom.” bell hooks

Instead of writing a review of Different Schools for a Different World by Scott McLeod and Dean Shareski, I want to try reading it differently, from back to front. I’ll start with the last topic, equity, and then proceed to talk about: innovation, boredom, learning, economics, and information literacy. But first, I want to touch on the book’s epigraph: Seth Godin tells us to “Make schools different.”

Different is an interesting word. It’s certainly a different word from what people have used to call for educational transformation in the past. If we were to draw up teams about educational change, I’m confident that McLeod, Shareski, and I would all be against the authoritarian ‘no excuses’ strand of reform that fears student agency. We’re also for meaningful engagement over glittery entertainment.

Yet, we also part ways very quickly in how we frame our arguments. They argue that we should “adapt learning and teaching environments to the demands of the 21st Century.” Our “changing, increasingly connected world” speeds ahead, but “most of our classrooms fail to change in response to it.” I start from a different position, one that questions how the demands of the 21st Century fit with the project of equity."



"What makes McLeod and Shareski’s take different from the long history of arguments about schools? Here’s their answer:

“In some respects, the concerns in this book are no different from the concerns of the authors of A Nation at Risk… We agree schools need to change, but that change should have to do with a school’s relevance, not just with its achievement scores.”

I think that relevance is exactly the right word, but we must ask relevant to what?

Their answer is the “demands of the 21st Century” that come from “shifting from an industrial mode to a global model and innovation model.” In Godin’s book, he presents the data center as a source of individual opportunity. While that can be true, the number of well-paying jobs at Google and Youtube stars will always be limited. Freedom of expression and civic participation can’t flourish in an age of economic precarity.

So what are the alternatives?

Jennifer M. Silva writes a counter-narrative to the worship of self-sufficiency and competition, and exposes “the hidden injuries of risk”, which often lead to isolation, a hardening of the self, and tragedy. One of her interview subjects died because she lacked affordable health-care.

What Silva finds is that “working-class young adults… feel a sense of powerlessness and mystification towards the institutions that order their lives. Over and over again, they learn that choice is simply an illusion.” Writing in a global context, (2014), Alcinda Honwana gives a name – waithood – to this experience of youth who are “no longer children in need of care, but … are still unable to become independent adults.” Honwana explicitly rejects the idea that waithood represents a “failed transition on the part of the youth themselves,” and she carefully documents the agency of the youth she interviewed in South Africa, Tunisia, Senegal, and Mozambique.
“Young people I interviewed showed strong awareness of the broader socio-economic and political environments that affect their lives. They are acutely conscious of their marginal structural position and they despise and rebel against the abuse and corruption that they observe as the elites in power get richer and they become poorer … They are critical of unsound economic policies that focus on growth but do not enlarge the productive base by creating more jobs.”

There’s no sustainable future in Western countries measuring educational success by the extent to which they out-compete the globalized Other. In her conclusion, Silva presents Wally, who is like her other working-class interview subjects in every respect except his political activism, as a token of hope. Instead of privatizing his problems, he is able to translate them into political issues. The alternative lies not in making schools different, but making the world ‘different’, sustainable, and just."
benjamindoxtdator  2017  equality  equity  socialjustice  schools  sustainability  education  children  economics  globalization  competition  bellhooks  scottmcleod  deanshareski  litercy  infoliteracy  sethgodin  capitalism  digitalredlining  digitaldivide  chrisgilliard  marianamazzucato  hajoonchang  innovation  labor  work  rosslevine  yonarubinstein  jordanweissman  aliciarobb  carljames  race  class  boredom  richardelmore  mikeschmoker  robertpianta  johngoodlad  engagement  passivity  criticism  learning  howwelearn  technology  johndewey  democracy  efficiency  davidsnedden  neoliberalism  richardflorida  tonyagner  erikbrynjolfsson  andremcafee  carlbenediktfrey  michaelosborne  davidautor  inequality  surveillance  surveillancecapitalism  shoshanazuboff  jonathanalbright  henrygiroux  jennifersilva  alcindahonwana  change  precarity 
october 2017 by robertogreco
How a North Carolina School Segregated Again - CityLab
"From the mid-1970s until the early 1990s, Charlotte was the most desegregated major school system in the country, and West Charlotte High School was its flagship. A 1969 federal ruling mandated that each Charlotte school’s student body be 70 percent white and 30 percent black, to match the system-wide demographic.

After a few rocky years, families, students, teachers, and administrators settled in to busing and integration, and Charlotte became a national success story. In 1974, when Boston erupted in violence over its first year of full-scale, court-ordered busing, West Charlotte High hosted students from South Boston so they could see integration in action.

But in 1999, a year after Grundy decided to pen West Charlotte High’s story, a federal judge ordered the city to stop using race in school assignments. Busing ceased. “It was shocking,” says Grundy.

Today, West Charlotte High is 85 percent African American, and almost 83 percent of its students are economically disadvantaged.

Accordingly, Grundy’s book, Color and Character: West Charlotte High and the American Struggle over Educational Equality, published this month, explores not only West Charlotte High’s integration success, but also its subsequent devolution through legislation, increased inequality, and urban displacement.

CityLab caught up with Grundy to talk about the school’s trajectory and what residents can do to foster more equal schools in their communities.

What made West Charlotte High’s integration work?

West Charlotte was the only historically black high school left in the city, and there was a lot of conflict over which white kids were going to have go to it. In the end, a group of wealthy, white parents decided that they were going to put their kids on those buses, and this served as a catalyst. There was a strong sense among them that they were doing something bigger than themselves and their children. The city’s leaders also made integration a priority, as having Charlotte’s schools in racial turmoil did not advance the city’s reputation on the national stage.

It was tough for the West Charlotte community to see their school change. It was an elite black school with strong black teachers. But they welcomed the white students.

What were some successes of West Charlotte High School as an integrated school?

Having the children of powerful parents brought more resources to the school, which strengthened its materials and curriculum. It also had great music and drama programs and sports teams, and the community felt that the school's diversity played a key role in that success.

And if you talk to alumni from the heyday of integration, they all say how much it meant to them to know different types of kids. West Charlotte was very balanced: The black and white students came from a variety of economic backgrounds, and an ESL program brought immigrants as well. No one was dominant, and that meant kids felt that they could try on different identities, be part of different groups.

What about the challenges?

There were stereotypes and misconceptions to overcome. It took work to integrate some of the extracurricular activities, and especially to make sure that black students were in advanced classes.

The other problem, even as schools were integrating, is that Charlotte itself became more segregated by income and race. In the 1980s we see the income gap start to widen, as Ronald Reagan’s economic policies—tax cuts, decreased social spending, deregulation—benefit the well-off and harm the poor. Developers built housing for affluent, mostly white residents in the suburbs. Low-income housing for mostly black residents became even more clustered in the city’s center. These changes made it more difficult to bus, because blacks and whites were living farther from each other. [Editors’ note: See the maps below for an illustration of how segregation increased in Charlotte from 1970 to 1990.]

How did the increase in economic and spatial inequality contribute to West Charlotte High’s resegregation?

The city reassigned students to schools primarily based on where they lived. Because of the concentration of poverty in the city center, West Charlotte's population ended up as the city’s poorest and least diverse.

This occurred at a time when parents were feeling more anxiety about schooling, with a greater focus on the well-being of individual children rather than larger social goals. There was a scramble to get kids to what were seen as the better schools, and when families from better-off areas were given the choice to continue sending their children to West Charlotte, most didn’t. And many more-prosperous families who were newly assigned to West Charlotte sent their children to magnet programs instead. The school was faced with educating a large number of the city’s most challenged children.

For a long time, policymakers were operating with the idea that a school’s demographics didn’t matter, that the right combination of training, testing, and accountability could lift up any school. Charlotte has tried a lot of that, and it doesn’t work. Schools with high concentrations of low-income students are trying to counter all the challenges in those students’ lives—and they just can’t. There’s a lot of stress and instability when you’re poor. For instance, it’s hard for low-income families to find affordable housing, so a lot of families are constantly moving. That’s hard on kids.

There are dedicated, hardworking teachers at these schools, as well as students who overcome great obstacles and succeed. But there’s also a lot of turnover. It’s hard to recruit experienced teachers, and the less-experienced teachers tend to burn out quickly or move to higher-income schools as soon as they can. High-stakes standardized testing creates a huge amount of stress, and it often turns into an exercise in shame and punishment when scores are low.

I strongly believe that if you want schools to be equal, they have to be racially and economically integrated. The community as a whole has to have a stake in all the schools. But there’s so much emphasis on choice now—on making what you think is the best individual decision for your child—rather than working toward a common good. Choice and competition mainly benefit families and communities that already have resources. And there isn't much appetite at the state or federal level to pursue integration. Nor is there a desire among leaders at any level to challenge the market forces that are increasing inequality. Without some of these larger shifts, there’s a limit to what schools can do.

So, in many ways, it doesn’t seem like change is coming down the pike. But we can start with small, local efforts. For instance, the Charlotte school board recently decided to pair two sets of schools—two low poverty and two high poverty—that are relatively close to each other. In each pairing, all the students will go to one school for K-2 and the other for 3-5. Some parents will send their kids to private or charter schools to avoid the arrangement. But others will do it.

It isn’t nearly enough, but we have to start somewhere."

[See also:
"The Resegregation of Jefferson County: What one Alabama town’s attempt to secede from its school district tells us about the fragile progress of racial integration in America."
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/magazine/the-resegregation-of-jefferson-county.html ]
schools  publicschools  integration  segregation  histoy  race  racism  us  charlotte  northcarolina  history  housing  2017  mimikirk  inequality  equality  pamelagrundy  economics  choice  magnetschools  competition  policy  politics  society  regression  charterschools 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Being rich wrecks your soul. We used to know that. - The Washington Post
"The point is not necessarily that wealth is intrinsically and everywhere evil, but that it is dangerous — that it should be eyed with caution and suspicion, and definitely not pursued as an end in itself; that great riches pose great risks to their owners; and that societies are right to stigmatize the storing up of untold wealth. That’s why Aristotle, for instance, argued that wealth should be sought only for the sake of living virtuously — to manage a household, say, or to participate in the life of the polis. Here wealth is useful but not inherently good; indeed, Aristotle specifically warned that the accumulation of wealth for its own sake corrupts virtue instead of enabling it. For Hindus, working hard to earn money is a duty (dharma), but only when done through honest means and used for good ends. The function of money is not to satiate greed but to support oneself and one’s family. The Koran, too, warns against hoarding money and enjoins Muslims to disperse it to the needy.

Some contemporary voices join this ancient chorus, perhaps none more enthusiastically than Pope Francis. He’s proclaimed that unless wealth is used for the good of society, and above all for the good of the poor, it is an instrument “of corruption and death.” And Francis lives what he teaches: Despite access to some of the sweetest real estate imaginable — the palatial papal apartments are the sort of thing that President Trump’s gold-plated extravagance is a parody of — the pope bunks in a small suite in what is effectively the Vatican’s hostel. In his official state visit to Washington, he pulled up to the White House in a Fiat so sensible that a denizen of Northwest D.C. would be almost embarrassed to drive it. When Francis entered the Jesuit order 59 years ago, he took a vow of poverty, and he’s kept it.

According to many philosophies and faiths, then, wealth should serve only as a steppingstone to some further good and is always fraught with moral danger. We all used to recognize this; it was a commonplace. And this intuition, shared by various cultures across history, stands on firm empirical ground.

Over the past few years, a pile of studies from the behavioral sciences has appeared, and they all say, more or less, “Being rich is really bad for you.” Wealth, it turns out, leads to behavioral and psychological maladies. The rich act and think in misdirected ways.

When it comes to a broad range of vices, the rich outperform everybody else. They are much more likely than the rest of humanity to shoplift and cheat , for example, and they are more apt to be adulterers and to drink a great deal . They are even more likely to take candy that is meant for children. So whatever you think about the moral nastiness of the rich, take that, multiply it by the number of Mercedes and Lexuses that cut you off, and you’re still short of the mark. In fact, those Mercedes and Lexuses are more likely to cut you off than Hondas or Fords: Studies have shown that people who drive expensive cars are more prone to run stop signs and cut off other motorists .

The rich are the worst tax evaders, and, as The Washington Post has detailed, they are hiding vast sums from public scrutiny in secret overseas bank accounts.

They also give proportionally less to charity — not surprising, since they exhibit significantly less compassion and empathy toward suffering people. Studies also find that members of the upper class are worse than ordinary folks at “reading” people’ s emotions and are far more likely to be disengaged from the people with whom they are interacting — instead absorbed in doodling, checking their phones or what have you. Some studies go even further, suggesting that rich people, especially stockbrokers and their ilk (such as venture capitalists, whom we once called “robber barons”), are more competitive, impulsive and reckless than medically diagnosed psychopaths. And by the way, those vices do not make them better entrepreneurs; they just have Mommy and Daddy’s bank accounts (in New York or the Cayman Islands) to fall back on when they fail."



"Some will say that we have not entirely forgotten it and that we do complain about wealth today, at least occasionally. Think, they’ll say, about Occupy Wall Street; the blowback after Mitt Romney’s comment about the “47 percent”; how George W. Bush painted John Kerry as out of touch. But think again: By and large, those complaints were not about wealth per se but about corrupt wealth — about wealth “gone wrong” and about unfairness. The idea that there is no way for the vast accumulation of money to “go right” is hardly anywhere to be seen.

Getting here wasn’t straightforward. Wealth has arguably been seen as less threatening to one’s moral health since the Reformation, after which material success was sometimes taken as evidence of divine election. But extreme wealth remained morally suspect, with the rich bearing particular scrutiny and stigmatization during periods like the Gilded Age. This stigma persisted until relatively recently; only in the 1970s did political shifts cause executive salaries skyrocket, and the current effectively unprecedented inequality in income (and wealth) begin to appear, without any significant public complaint or lament.

The story of how a stigma fades is always murky, but contributing factors are not hard to identify. For one, think tanks have become increasingly partisan over the past several decades, particularly on the right: Certain conservative institutions, enjoying the backing of billionaires such as the Koch brothers, have thrown a ton of money at pseudo-academics and “thought leaders” to normalize and legitimate obscene piles of lucre. They produced arguments that suggest that high salaries naturally flowed from extreme talent and merit, thus baptizing wealth as simply some excellent people’s wholly legitimate rewards. These arguments were happily regurgitated by conservative media figures and politicians, eventually seeping into the broader public and replacing the folk wisdom of yore. But it is hard to argue that a company’s top earners are literally hundreds of times more talented than the lowest-paid employees.

As stratospheric salaries became increasingly common, and as the stigma of wildly disproportionate pay faded, the moral hazards of wealth were largely forgotten. But it’s time to put the apologists for plutocracy back on the defensive, where they belong — not least for their own sake. After all, the Buddha, Aristotle, Jesus, the Koran, Jimmy Stewart, Pope Francis and now even science all agree: If you are wealthy and are reading this, give away your money as fast as you can."
charlesmathewes  evansandsmark  2017  wealth  inequality  behavior  psychology  buddha  aristotle  jesus  koran  jimmystewart  popefrancis  ethics  generosity  vices  fscottfitzgerald  ernesthemingway  tonystark  confucius  austerity  tacitus  opulence  christ  virtue  caution  suspicion  polis  poverty  donaldtrump  jesuits  morality  humanism  cheating  taxevasion  charity  empathy  compassion  disengagement  competition  competitiveness  psychopaths  capitalism  luxury  politics  simplicity  well-being  suicide  ows  occupywallstreet  geogewbush  johnkerry  mittromney  gildedage  kochbrothers 
august 2017 by robertogreco
A Field Guide to 'jobs that don't exist yet' - Long View on Education
"Perhaps most importantly, the Future of Jobs relies on the perspective of CEOs to suggest that Capital has lacked input into the shape and direction of education. Ironically, the first person I found to make the claim about the future of jobs – Devereux C. Josephs – was both Businessman of the Year (1958) and the chair of Eisenhower’s President’s Committee on Education Beyond High School. More tellingly, in his historical context, Josephs was able to imagine a more equitable future where we shared in prosperity rather than competed against the world’s underprivileged on a ‘flat’ field.

The Political Shift that Happened

While the claim is often presented as a new and alarming fact or prediction about the future, Devereux C. Josephs said much the same in 1957 during a Conference on the American High School at the University of Chicago on October 28, less than a month after the Soviets launched Sputnik. If Friedman and his ‘flat’ earth followers were writing then, they would have been up in arms about the technological superiority of the Soviets, just like they now raise the alarm about the rise of India and China. Josephs was a past president of the Carnegie Corporation, and at the time served as Chairman of the Board of the New York Life Insurance Company.

While critics of the American education system erupted after the launch of Sputnik with calls to go back to basics, much as they would again decades later with A Nation at Risk (1983), Josephs was instead a “besieged defender” of education according to Okhee Lee and Michael Salwen. Here’s how Joseph’s talked about the future of work:
“We are too much inclined to think of careers and opportunities as if the oncoming generations were growing up to fill the jobs that are now held by their seniors. This is not true. Our young people will fill many jobs that do not now exist. They will invent products that will need new skills. Old-fashioned mercantilism and the nineteenth-century theory in which one man’s gain was another man’s loss, are being replaced by a dynamism in which the new ideas of a lot of people become the gains for many, many more.”4

Josephs’ claim brims with optimism about a new future, striking a tone which contrasts sharply with the Shift Happens video and its competitive fear of The Other and decline of Empire. We must recognize this shift that happens between then and now as an erasure of politics – a deletion of the opportunity to make a choice about how the abundant wealth created by automation – and perhaps more often by offshoring to cheap labor – would be shared.

The agentless construction in the Shift Happens version – “technologies that haven’t been invented yet” – contrasts with Josephs’ vision where today’s youth invent those technologies. More importantly, Josephs imagines a more equitable socio-technical future, marked not by competition, but where gains are shared. It should go without saying that this has not come to pass. As productivity shot up since the 1950’s, worker compensation has stagnated since around 1973.

In other words, the problem is not that Capital lacks a say in education, but that corporations and the 0.1% are reaping all the rewards and need to explain why. Too often, this explanation comes in the form of the zombie idea of a ‘skills gap’, which persists though it keeps being debunked. What else are CEOs going to say – and the skills gap is almost always based on an opinion survey  – when they are asked to explain stagnating wages?5

Josephs’ essay echoes John Maynard Keynes’ (1930) in his hope that the “average family” by 1977 “may take some of the [economic] gain in the form of leisure”; the dynamism of new ideas should have created gains for ‘many, many more’ people. Instead, the compensation for CEOs soared as the profit was privatized even though most of the risk for innovation was socialized by US government investment through programs such as DARPA.6"



"Audrey Watters has written about how futurists and gurus have figured out that “The best way to invent the future is to issue a press release.” Proponents of the ‘skills agenda’ like the OECD have essentially figured out how to make “the political more pedagogical”, to borrow a phrase from Henry Giroux. In their book, Most Likely to Succeed, Tony Wagner and billionaire Ted Dintersmith warn us that “if you can’t invent (and reinvent) your own job and distinctive competencies, you risk chronic underemployment.” Their movie, of the same title, repeats the hollow claim about ‘jobs that haven’t been invented yet’. Ironically, though Wagner tells us that “knowledge today is a free commodity”, you can only see the film in private screenings.

I don’t want to idealize Josephs, but revisiting his context helps us understand something about the debate about education and the future, not because he was a radical in his times, but because our times are radical.

In an interview at CUNY (2015), Gillian Tett asks Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Krugman what policy initiatives they would propose to deal with globalization, technology, and inequality.9 After Sachs and Krugman propose regulating finance, expanding aid to disadvantaged children, creating a robust social safety net, reforming the tax system to eliminate privilege for the 0.1%, redistributing profits, raising wages, and strengthening the position of labor, Tett recounts a story:
“Back in January I actually moderated quite a similar event in Davos with a group of CEOs and general luminaries very much not just the 1% but probably the 0.1% and I asked them the same question. And what they came back with was education, education, and a bit of digital inclusion.”

Krugman, slightly lost for words, replies: “Arguing that education is the thing is … Gosh… That’s so 1990s… even then it wasn’t really true.”

For CEOs and futurists who say that disruption is the answer to practically everything, arguing that the answer lies in education and skills is actually the least disruptive response to the problems we face. Krugman argues that education emerges as the popular answer because “It’s not intrusive. It doesn’t require that we have higher taxes. It doesn’t require that CEOs have to deal with unions again.” Sachs adds, “Obviously, it’s the easy answer for that group [the 0.1%].”

The kind of complex thinking we deserve about education won’t come in factoids or bullet-point lists of skills of the future. In fact, that kind of complex thinking is already out there, waiting."



"Stay tuned for the tangled history of the claim if you're into that sort of thing..."
benjamindoxtdator  2017  inequality  education  credentialing  productivity  economics  society  statistics  audreywatters  billclinton  democrats  neoliberalism  latecapitalism  capitalism  johndewey  andreasschleicher  kerifacer  lindadarling-hammond  worldeconomicforum  oecd  labor  work  futurism  future  scottmcleod  karlfisch  richardriley  ianjukes  freetrade  competition  andrewold  michaelberman  thomasfriedman  devereuxjosephs  anationatrisk  sputnik  coldwar  okheelee  michaelsalwen  ussr  sovietunion  fear  india  china  russia  johnmaynardkeynes  leisure  robots  robotics  rodneybrooks  doughenwood  jobs  cwrightmills  henrygiroux  paulkrugman  gilliantett  jeffreysachs  policy  politics  globalization  technology  schools  curriculum  teddintersmith  tonywagner  mostlikelytosuccess  success  pedagogy  cathydavidson  jimcarroll  edtech 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The Slow Professor movement: reclaiming the intellectual life of the university - Home | The Sunday Edition | CBC Radio
"You have heard of the slow food movement...now, there's a "slow professor" movement.

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

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

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

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

[Update: See also: "We need a “slow food” movement for higher education"
https://qz.com/947480/we-need-a-slow-food-movement-for-higher-education/ ]
slow  highereducation  highered  education  academia  reflection  2017  barbaraseeber  maggieberg  deliberation  slowprofessor  productivity  standardization  speed  homogeneity  slowfood  knowledgeproduction  universities  corporatism  corporatization  competition  economics  fastknowledge  research  adminstrativebloat  teaching  howweteach  wisdom  faculty  howwelearn  friendship  benjaminginsberg  management  power  labor  work  casualization  adjuncts  busyness  time  anxiety  stress  davidposen  credentials  credentialization  joy  beauty  transferableskills 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Boris Anthony 🕸 📚 on Twitter: "Debate = Finite game Purpose is to overcome. One winner, one loser Discussion = Infinite game Purpose is to accommodate. No winner, no loser"
"Debate = Finite game
Purpose is to overcome. One winner, one loser
Discussion = Infinite game
Purpose is to accommodate. No winner, no loser

In debate, opponents seek to turn the other into one of them—thus destroying the other—by arguing rationales & perceptions.

In discussion, participants seek to combine and expand each other into something greater by sharing rationales & perceptions."
conversation  debate  discussion  borisanthony  2017  competition  collaboration  cooperation  listening  sharing  perception  unfinished  infinite  finite 
february 2017 by robertogreco
POLITICAL THEORY - Karl Marx - YouTube
"Karl Marx remains deeply important today not as the man who told us what to replace capitalism with, but as someone who brilliantly pointed out certain of its problems. The School of Life, a pro-Capitalist institution, takes a look.



FURTHER READING

“Most people agree that we need to improve our economic system somehow. It threatens our planet through excessive consumption, distracts us with irrelevant advertising, leaves people hungry and without healthcare, and fuels unnecessary wars. Yet we’re also often keen to dismiss the ideas of its most famous and ambitious critic, Karl Marx. This isn’t very surprising. In practice, his political and economic ideas have been used to design disastrously planned economies and nasty dictatorships. Frankly, the remedies Marx proposed for the ills of the world now sound a bit demented. He thought we should abolish private property. People should not be allowed to own things. At certain moments one can sympathise. But it’s like wanting to ban gossip or forbid watching television. It’s going to war with human behaviour. And Marx believed the world would be put to rights by a dictatorship of the proletariat; which does not mean anything much today. Openly Marxist parties received a total of only 1,685 votes in the 2010 UK general election, out of the nearly 40 million ballots cast…”"
karlmarx  marxism  capitalism  2014  work  labor  specialization  purpose  alienation  disconnection  hierarchy  efficiency  communism  belonging  insecurity  economics  primitiveaccumulation  accumulation  profit  theft  exploitation  instability  precarity  crises  abundance  scarcity  shortage  productivity  leisure  unemployment  freedom  employment  inequality  wealth  wealthdistribution  marriage  relationships  commodityfetishism  feminism  oppression  ideology  values  valuejudgements  worth  consumerism  materialism  anxiety  competition  complacency  conformity  communistmanifesto  inheritance  privateproperty  banking  communication  transportation  eduction  publiceducation  frederickengels  generalists  specialists  daskapital 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Freedom and Beyond — John Holt GWS
"Even if what I have said about growth were not true, or even if we were as ignorant and unconcerned about the environmental costs of growth as we were twenty years ago, it would still be true that the kind of growth we have known for a generation and more, and most of this under national governments committed to the idea of fighting poverty through growth, has done very little to change the shape of the job pyramid. For all our trillion dollar a year GNP, we have not done away with unemployment, or increased very much the number of good jobs, jobs that people are glad to do. For most people in our society work is drudgery, what you have to do to live, perhaps a punishment for not having been smarter or done better in school. If this has been so little changed by the last generation of growth, there is little reason to suppose that it will be changed much by the next.

This brings me back to the point I made earlier, that as long as the overall shape of the job pyramid is not changed, as long as the numbers of good, fair, and bad jobs remains about what they are, any poor person who moves up to a better job is going to move up at someone else's expense. He may make it. But that someone else is almost certain to be someone only slightly less poor than he is. When we try to apply on a large scale what works on a small, if we try, through schooling or otherwise, to move large numbers of people from the lowest job boxes up into higher ones, the result is to put poor people and working-class or lower-middle-class people in competition for jobs that are scarce and good jobs that are scarcer yet. This makes them each others' rivals and enemies, and prevents them from forging the kinds of political alliances that would make real large-scale change possible. It is grimly ironical and even tragic that our minority group poor should be most feared and hated by the very people whose friendship and support they must have if they are ever to make any real improvement in their lives. And it's a great for the rich when they can make the poor think their true and worst enemies are those who are even poorer…"
johnholt  poverty  inequality  capitalism  1972  society  books  unemployment  employment  work  competition  small  growth 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Spiritual Crisis of the Modern Economy - The Atlantic
"The main source of meaning in American life is a meritocratic competition that makes those who struggle feel inferior."



"What is happening to America’s white working class?

The group’s important, and perhaps decisive, role in this year’s presidential election sparked a slew of commentary focused on, on the one hand, its nativism, racism, and sexism, and, on the other, its various economic woes. While there are no simple explanations for the desperation and anger visible in many predominantly white working-class communities, perhaps the most astute and original diagnosis came from the rabbi and activist Michael Lerner, who, in assessing Donald Trump’s victory, looked from a broader vantage point than most. Underneath the populist ire, he wrote, was a suffering “rooted in the hidden injuries of class and in the spiritual crisis that the global competitive marketplace generates.”

That cuts right to it. The modern economy privileges the well-educated and highly-skilled, while giving them an excuse to denigrate the people at the bottom (both white and nonwhite) as lazy, untalented, uneducated, and unsophisticated. In a society focused on meritocratic, materialistic success, many well-off Americans from across the political spectrum scorn the white working class in particular for holding onto religious superstitions and politically incorrect views, and pity them for working lousy jobs at dollar stores and fast-food restaurants that the better-off rarely set foot in. And when other sources of meaning are hard to come by, those who struggle in the modern economy can lose their sense of self-worth.

This system of categorizing Americans—the logical extension of life in what can be called an extreme meritocracy—can be pernicious: The culture holds up those who succeed as examples, however anecdotal, that everyone can make it in America. Meanwhile, those who fail attract disdain and indifference from the better-off, their low status all the more painful because it is regarded as deserved. As research has shown, well-educated white-collar workers also sink into despair if they cannot find a new job, but among the working class, the shame of low status afflicts not just the unemployed, but also the underemployed. Their days are no longer filled with the dignified, if exhausting, work of making real things. Rather, the economy requires—as a white former factory worker I talked to described it—“throwing on a goofy hat,” dealing with surly customers who are themselves just scraping by, and enduring a precarious working life of arbitrary rules and dead-end prospects.

And the work people do (or don’t do) affects their self-esteem. When I was talking to laid-off autoworkers in Michigan for my book about long-term unemployment, I met a black man in Detroit who told me his job at the plant had helped heal a wound—one going back to his parents’ choice, when he was a baby, to abandon him. (As is standard in sociological research, my interviewees were promised confidentiality.) “My job was like my mother and father to me,” he said. “It’s all I had, you know?” Then the plant shut down. Now in his 50s, he was back on the job market, scrambling for one of the few good jobs left for someone without a college degree. In his moments of weakness, he berated himself. He should have prepared more. He should have gotten an education. “It’s all my fault,” he said—the company was just doing what made business sense.

For less educated workers (of all races) who have struggled for months or years to get another job, failure is a source of deep shame and a reason for self-blame. Without the right markers of merit—a diploma, marketable skills, a good job—they are “scrubs” who don’t deserve romantic partners, “takers” living parasitically off the government, “losers” who won’t amount to anything. Even those who consider themselves lucky to have jobs can feel a sense of despair, seeing how poorly they stand relative to others, or how much their communities have unraveled, or how dim their children’s future seems to be: Research shows that people judge how well they’re doing through constant comparisons, and by these personal metrics they are hurting, whatever the national unemployment rate may be.

When faced with these circumstances, members of the working class often turn inward. I witnessed this coping mechanism among the workers I got to know in Michigan. One of them, a white former autoworker, lost her home and had to move to a crime-infested neighborhood, where she had a front-row view of the nightly drug deals and fistfights. “I just am not used to that anymore,” said the woman, who grew up in poverty. “I want out of here so bad.” Interestingly, she dismissed any sort of collective solution to the economic misery that she and others like her now confront. For instance, she had no kind words to say about the union at her old plant, which she blamed for protecting lousy workers. She was also outraged by what she called the “black favoritism” at her Detroit plant, whose union leadership included many African Americans.

This go-it-alone mentality works against the ways that, historically, workers have improved their lot. It encourages workers to see unions and government as flawed institutions that coddle the undeserving, rather than as useful, if imperfect, means of raising the relative prospects of all workers. It also makes it more likely that white workers will direct their frustration toward racial and ethnic minorities, economic scapegoats who are dismissed as freeloaders unworthy of help—in a recent survey, 64 percent of Trump voters (not all of whom, of course, are part of the white working class) agreed that “average Americans” had gotten less than they deserved, but this figure dropped to 12 percent when that phrase was replaced with “blacks.” (Among Clinton voters, the figure stayed steady at 57 percent for both phrases.) This is one reason that enacting good policies is, while important, not enough to address economic inequality. What’s needed as well is a broader revision of a culture that makes those who struggle feel like losers.

One explanation for why so many come to that conclusion in the first place has to do with the widening of the gulf between America’s coasts and the region in between them. Cities that can entice well-educated professionals are booming, even as “flyover” communities have largely seen good-paying factory work automated or shipped overseas, replaced to a large extent with insecure jobs: Walmart greeters, independent-contractor truck drivers, and the like. It is easy to see why white voters from hard-hit rural areas and hollowed-out industrial towns have turned away from a Democratic Party that has offered them little in the way of hope and inspiration and much in the way of disdain and blame.

It should here be emphasized that misogyny, racism, and xenophobia played a major role in the election, helping whip up more support for Trump—as well as suppress support for Clinton—among the white working class. To be sure, those traits are well represented among other groups, however savvier they are about not admitting it to journalists and pollsters (or to themselves). But the white working class that emerged in the 19th century—stitched together from long-combative European ethnic groups—strived to set themselves apart from African Americans, Chinese, and other vilified “indispensable enemies,” and build, by contrast (at least in their view), a sense of workingman pride. Even if it’s unfair to wholly dismiss the white working class’s cultural politics as reactionary and bigoted, this last election was a reminder that white male resentment of “nasty” women and “uppity” racial and other minorities remains strong.

That said, many Americans with more stable, better-paid jobs have blind spots of their own. For all of their professed open-mindedness in other areas, millions of the well-educated and well-off who live in or near big cities tend to endorse the notion, explicitly or implicitly, that education determines a person’s value. More so than in other rich nations, like Germany and Japan, which have prioritized vocational training to a greater degree, a college degree has become the true mark of individual success in America—the sort of white-picket-fence fantasy that drives people well into their elder years to head back to school. But such a fervent belief in the transformative power of education also implies that a lack of it amounts to personal failure—being a “stupid” person, as one of the white Michigan workers I talked to put it. In today’s labor market, it is no longer enough to work hard, another worker, who was black, told me: “It used to be you come up and say, ‘Okay, I’ve got a strong back,’ and all that,” but nowadays a “strong back don’t mean shit. You gotta have dedication and you’ve gotta have some kind of smartness, or something.”



"One possible answer to the question Harrington posed about how to ease his own generation’s populist rage is the notion of grace—a stance that puts forward values that go beyond the “negatives” of the narrow secular creed and connect with individuals of diverse political viewpoints, including those hungry for more in the way of meaning than the meritocratic race affords. It moves people past the hectoring that so alienates the white working class—and, to be sure, other groups as well—who would otherwise benefit from policies that favor greater equality and opportunity.

The concept of grace comes from the Christian teaching that everyone, not just the deserving, is saved by God’s grace. Grace in the broader sense that I (an agnostic) am using, however, can be both secular and religious. In the simplest terms, it is about refusing to divide the world into camps of deserving and undeserving, as those on both the right and left are wont to do. It rejects an … [more]
victortanchen  meritocracy  2016  election  donaldtrump  capitalism  self-esteem  labor  work  culture  society  economics  losers  class  elitism  workingclass  hierarchy  richardsennett  jonathancobb  inequality  education  politics  competition  unions  status  grace  wealth  populism 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The dark side of Silicon Valley, according to a teen who grew up there - Business Insider
"Home of the brightest engineers, the coolest new technology, and the highest salaries in the world, Silicon Valley is also home of the most cutthroat competitive high schools.

Let's take a look at the schools with the highest SAT scores in the nation. Unsurprisingly, 6 of the top 20 are located in Silicon Valley: Monta Vista (#15), Mission San Jose (#18), Lynbrook (#7), Gunn (#12), Leland (#20), and Harker (#2).

In many of these schools, getting a 3.5 GPA could put you in the bottom half of the class (especially at academic powerhouses Gunn, Monta Vista, and Harker).

In other schools, athletics play a bigger role in the culture, but success is still expected nonetheless (Bellarmine, Los Gatos, Mitty). Also, it's a given that the student body is not only talented, but also well accomplished in many different areas.

It's unbelievable when you see the sheer numbers these schools put out. Harker has had 173 people admitted to Berkeley in the past 3 years. In just 2015, Harker had a 43% acceptance rate to Berkeley (69 admitted out of 162 who applied).

For the No. 1 public university in the world, those are some crazy numbers. Not to be out-matched, Mission San Jose High boasted a 29% acceptance rate to Berkeley in 2015, with 93 admitted. I understand admission to Berkeley isn't the best metric to judge competitiveness/success, but it shows a small part of the bigger picture.

Evergreen Valley, my home school, is considered one of the middle-tier competitive schools, but it's slowly becoming a microcosm of the Palo Alto/Cupertino areas. It's reflected in our college admissions.

This year alone, we have 32 students going to Berkeley and 4 going to Stanford. Now, it's great and all that we're succeeding in the college admissions game, but at what cost?

The bottom line is that behind these stellar numbers and phenomenal extracurricular activities lies a culture of overwork and incessant competition. There no longer exists a free summer for high school kids.

Everyone is competing — who can get the best internship? Who can pack their schedule the most? Who can get admitted to the best, most prestigious summer programs? Even in school, everyone is competing — who can work the hardest? Who can sleep the least and still get straight A's? Who can do it all? Who can be a part of the most clubs?

Going through it, it always seemed like a giant race to nowhere. There are a few features that distinguish Silicon Valley high schools:

1. Fear of failure

This sounds counterintuitive. I mean, we live in the freaking Silicon Valley, right? Home of entrepreneurship, risks, and solving the world's problems, right?

No, not really — high school isn't like that. We stick to what we know best. You play the piano really well? Keep doing that. You dance well? Stick to it.

Don't try other things — didn't you know you have to commit to an activity in order to put it on your college app? Why try new things and fail when you can stick to what you've been doing, work hard, and accomplish great things? Because, after all, isn't the point of life to get into college?

2. Stifling competition

We're ambitious and we're talented and we're hardworking — no doubt about it. We start companies and publish books and become nationally ranked in every extracurricular activity possible while juggling a 4.0 GPA. But with all of it comes a price.

By most of society here, you are judged by your numbers. I've lost track of the number of times I've heard parents ask about my SAT score and where I'm going to college, and then change their perception of me because of it. I want to tell them that these superficial things don't define me — that I'm more than these arbitrary numbers and test scores.

3. Ridiculous over-scheduling

You'll see kids with schedules more packed than an exec in the corporate world. After school, go to sports practice for 2-3 hours. After sports practice, practice your instrument for 1-2 hours. Now, it's time for dinner.

Eat for an hour, do homework for an hour, and then sleep at 9 p.m.? Not really. Not when you have five AP courses that each assign Herculean loads of homework. Not when you're managing several clubs and organizations. Not when you're also involved in student government.

Where's the time to relax? Where's the time to enjoy? We're bogged down in this mindset that happiness is to be postponed.

It's this mentality that says "I'll work hard now, so that I can enjoy my life later. It's OK if I don't enjoy now because it'll get better." But when does it end? Caught in this vicious cycle, it's hard to see what makes life worth it.

The only thing I want to say to the Silicon Valley teens out there is to enjoy your time. Be ambitious, be hardworking, be everything you've wanted to be and more — but don't forget to stop and smell the flowers. After all, what's life without enjoyment?"
siliconvalley  schools  competition  education  harker  children  parenting  kalvinlam  overscheduling  failure  colleges  universities  admissions  via:jolinaclément  sanjose  losgatos  paloalto 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The Great Affluence Fallacy - The New York Times
"In 18th-century America, colonial society and Native American society sat side by side. The former was buddingly commercial; the latter was communal and tribal. As time went by, the settlers from Europe noticed something: No Indians were defecting to join colonial society, but many whites were defecting to live in the Native American one.

This struck them as strange. Colonial society was richer and more advanced. And yet people were voting with their feet the other way.

The colonials occasionally tried to welcome Native American children into their midst, but they couldn’t persuade them to stay. Benjamin Franklin observed the phenomenon in 1753, writing, “When an Indian child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our customs, yet if he goes to see his relations and make one Indian ramble with them, there is no persuading him ever to return.”

During the wars with the Indians, many European settlers were taken prisoner and held within Indian tribes. After a while, they had plenty of chances to escape and return, and yet they did not. In fact, when they were “rescued,” they fled and hid from their rescuers.

Sometimes the Indians tried to forcibly return the colonials in a prisoner swap, and still the colonials refused to go. In one case, the Shawanese Indians were compelled to tie up some European women in order to ship them back. After they were returned, the women escaped the colonial towns and ran back to the Indians.

Even as late as 1782, the pattern was still going strong. Hector de Crèvecoeur wrote, “Thousands of Europeans are Indians, and we have no examples of even one of those aborigines having from choice become European.”

I first read about this history several months ago in Sebastian Junger’s excellent book “Tribe.” It has haunted me since. It raises the possibility that our culture is built on some fundamental error about what makes people happy and fulfilled.

The native cultures were more communal. As Junger writes, “They would have practiced extremely close and involved child care. And they would have done almost everything in the company of others. They would have almost never been alone.”

If colonial culture was relatively atomized, imagine American culture of today. As we’ve gotten richer, we’ve used wealth to buy space: bigger homes, bigger yards, separate bedrooms, private cars, autonomous lifestyles. Each individual choice makes sense, but the overall atomizing trajectory sometimes seems to backfire. According to the World Health Organization, people in wealthy countries suffer depression by as much as eight times the rate as people in poor countries.

There might be a Great Affluence Fallacy going on — we want privacy in individual instances, but often this makes life generally worse.

Every generation faces the challenge of how to reconcile freedom and community — “On the Road” versus “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But I’m not sure any generation has faced it as acutely as millennials.

In the great American tradition, millennials would like to have their cake and eat it, too. A few years ago, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis came out with a song called “Can’t Hold Us,” which contained the couplet: “We came here to live life like nobody was watching/I got my city right behind me, if I fall, they got me.” In the first line they want complete autonomy; in the second, complete community.

But, of course, you can’t really have both in pure form. If millennials are heading anywhere, it seems to be in the direction of community. Politically, millennials have been drawn to the class solidarity of the Bernie Sanders campaign. Hillary Clinton — secretive and a wall-builder — is the quintessence of boomer autonomy. She has trouble with younger voters.

Professionally, millennials are famous for bringing their whole self to work: turning the office into a source of friendships, meaning and social occasions.

I’m meeting more millennials who embrace the mentality expressed in the book “The Abundant Community,” by John McKnight and Peter Block. The authors are notably hostile to consumerism.

They are anti-institutional and anti-systems. “Our institutions can offer only service — not care — for care is the freely given commitment from the heart of one to another,” they write.

Millennials are oriented around neighborhood hospitality, rather than national identity or the borderless digital world. “A neighborhood is the place where you live and sleep.” How many of your physical neighbors know your name?

Maybe we’re on the cusp of some great cracking. Instead of just paying lip service to community while living for autonomy, I get the sense a lot of people are actually about to make the break and immerse themselves in demanding local community movements. It wouldn’t surprise me if the big change in the coming decades were this: an end to the apotheosis of freedom; more people making the modern equivalent of the Native American leap."
society  capitalism  davidbrooks  2016  history  sebastianjunger  communalism  nativeamericans  abundance  depression  us  affluence  millenials  johnmcknight  peterblock  consumerism  care  hospitality  nationalism  local  community  privacy  isolation  competition  autonomy  berniesanders  solidarity  wealth  atomization  well-being  qualityoflife  hectordecrèvecoeur 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Learning Despite School — LifeLearn — Medium
"While organised education and deliberate, goal-oriented practice has its place, and is indeed critical, it needs to be balanced with the development of social competence and intrinsic motivation. The vast majority of learning happens in informal social situations within communities of like minded people, where individuals take initiative and learn to work with other people in meaningful settings. Schools may hinder this important avenue of growth and increase stress and anxiety.

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

The role of informal learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Finnish schools enable informal learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Balancing academic, social and physical development

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

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

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

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

Summary

A clear majority of learning for any individual happens in informal settings. While formal education and on-the-job training play a role, they will be more effective if they can acknowledge and accommodate informal learning that individuals will engage in regardless. In practice this means at least giving time for non-directed social activities, reflection, and physical activities. In addition, utilising learners’ own life interests in making formal training more engaging and relevant will increase learning outcomes significantly. Combining formal and informal is at the core of learner-centric approaches."
education  unschooling  deschooling  learning  informal  informallearning  schools  social  training  finland  play  competition  freeplay  howwlearn  howweteach  teaching  hobbies  constructivism  experimentation  2016  schedules  time  independence  timemanagement  planning  criticalthinking  accountability  metacognition  laotzu  tarmotoikkanen  competence  motivation  stress  anxiety 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Pleasures of Community - YouTube
"There’s a lot of pressure on us to make our individual lives interesting. But sometimes, the best experiences aren’t those connected up with our personal triumphs; they’re moments of joy at belonging with others."
community  individualism  media  presentation  life  social  people  interdependence  schooloflife  competition  narcissism  normalcy  kindness  trust  sports  sharing  communitycenters  collectivism  belonging  society  collectivepride 
july 2016 by robertogreco
So who says competition in the classroom is inevitable? | Lucy Clark | Australia news | The Guardian
"In this extract from her new book Beautiful Failures, the Guardian’s Lucy Clark tackles the culture of contests and rankings at school, arguing that for children – indeed all of us – it is unnecessary and damaging"



"When I talk to my daughter about what it was about school that was so alienating for her, what made her so, so anxious, she has a one-word answer.

Competition.

She couldn’t bear the ranking of individuals. Somehow the lottery of life has blessed this girl with a personality that rejects ranking or assessment of any kind. She can’t even watch the Olympics – actually has to leave the room – because she can’t stand the thought that someone has to come first, second, third, and that someone has to come last. And my girl opted out of the competition early.

She believes it’s natural for kids to be competitive – “Haven’t you seen little kids at an athletics carnival?”

But that’s sport, I say, why can’t education be different?

“It’s just the way that people are. It’s human nature.”

Certainly if you watch kids at a sports day it might seem that way. Think of a child running a race. They crouch, they look up at the finish line, the gun cracks and sparks a whole collection of physiological responses that add up to running as fast as possible. GO!

As they cross the finish line with a blur of other bodies, one thought enters their head.

Where’d I come?

Not: wow, I really enjoyed the feeling of my legs striding out and the powerhouse muscles in my thighs propelling me along the track. Not: mmm, my friend Jack’s had a bad week at school; I really hope he managed a personal best today. No.

Kids of all ages understand the predominant purpose of a running race – it is to win, regardless of parents saying, “Just go out there and have a good time.” And there can only be one winner (photo finishes notwithstanding).

The psychology of kids wanting to win a running race seems as reflexive as the psychology of wanting a cuddle from Mum or Dad when they’ve taken a tumble.

But we all know that education is not a sport, right? Sport is sport, and education is something else.

Yet people keep thinking of education and learning as something akin to a race – a simplistic message that reduces the rich and multilayered fabric of 12 years of formal learning to the idea of running in a straight line from A to B.

In personally questioning the role of competition in education I have lost count of the number of people who have said to me, yes, but life is competitive and school is just a training ground for the sort of competition our kids will face as adults in the real world.

Is that what school should be? A warm-up for the main game? A simulation of grown-up life, where we wake up in the morning, put on our armour and go out to compete in a dog-eat-dog world?

It’s understandable that sport – the great contest of human physical endeavour, practised the world over – bleeds into other parts of life. It makes for easy analogies and anecdotes that sum up the triumph of the human spirit if one works hard enough to overcome whatever obstacles come our way. Witness the success of sports motivational talkers on the circuit lecturing schools and corporations.

And competition and contest is everywhere. You can’t turn on the television without seeing people compete with each other to cook the best meal, to survive the most appalling conditions in some bloody jungle somewhere, to be the most alluring and desirable female, to have the best recipe to make a million bucks, to be the best foreman for the job, or to have the best voice according to four people sitting in weird Star Trek chairs.

If they don’t win, they lose: they’re asked to leave the competition, pack their bags and move out of the fancy waterfront mansion immediately; they’re voted off the island; they have their wretched hearts broken because the bachelor chose some other chick; they fail at their tilt at riches beyond their dreams; they can’t sing, after all. Losers."
lucyclark  education  sdsh  alfiekohn  2016  teaching  howweteach  schools  competition  competitiveness  sports  learning 
july 2016 by robertogreco
A Teacher’s Letter to His Future Baby
"What the best and wisest parent wants for his child, that must we want for all the children of the community. Anything less is unlovely, and if left unchecked, destroys our democracy.
— John Dewey

Dear Baby,

The app on my phone tells me that you are, physically speaking, entirely you. A butternut squash with all your organs accounted for and operational, only in miniature. You have all of the usual marvels—tiny toes and fingers, button nose and belly—but that’s not exactly what I mean. The parts of your personality that you’ve inherited from your mom and me, you already have. So much is finished about you, and you’re not even born.

And yet, with all of this already arrived, I write to you today feeling how open your future is. I know almost nothing about you, which means so much is possible for you. Only the sonogram tech knows if you are female or male, and even she can’t tell us anything about who you will feel you are as you grow into a fuller person. You are simultaneously almost anything. Because you are white in the United States, and your parents are white, you will be afforded more control over how the world sees you, more grace for your mistakes. With these and other privileges, you will have the freedom to slide into many ways of being a person.

This, baby, is not a thing to be proud of. The time and the space to choose your own way, and be loved for it, is a gift that everyone deserves and that is denied to so many who sit, like you, waiting to be born. As I imagine the constellation of your possibilities, I know better than to wish too vehemently for any one thing for you—I’ve read too many memoirs by indoor sons about their sports-hero dads’ disappointment, to lay down the burden of concrete expectations upon you. But this one point I need you to understand: I wish that your happiness will not stand on the backs of others. I wish that when you feel limitless, it does not require limitation elsewhere for some other father’s child. I wish for your happiness to be pure. I wish for your happiness to be dependent on others, not propped up by their sacrifice. Stand tall. Be you, but don’t throw your shadow so far as to not make room for others.

I have been told—usually by neighbors and strangers, but by friends as well—that once I meet you, “Everything will change.” They assure me that I will switch from the measured logic of my political beliefs to an animal dad. Animal dad is fierce and protective. He will stop at nothing until he has pulled the best from the world and brought it home to you.

Love, they assure me, is a fist when it meets the world.

My white baby, this message is part of your cultural DNA. You will be told that to live well is to compete and protect what you claim for yourself. You will be told that the world sits at a table with too few desserts. If you want any, you’ve got to take it. That’s what getting the best is, they say.

Don’t believe them.

Of course I want you to have what you need. But I wish to my core that you will be free of the rippling violence of seeking the best. I want you to seek the deepest. The most varied. The fullest. The roundest. The calmest. The truest. The best? The best is an expression of power that fundamentally depends on someone getting the worst. The best leads to paranoia. To jealous anxiety. The best is a desert.

Will your mom and I be able to teach you this? What will you see when you’re old enough to imagine yourself as one of us? What sort of models will we make? Will you see two teachers with too much to grade? Up too early and up too late? The ones in the room who didn’t get the dark joke that school isn’t for learning, it’s for sorting? Will you only notice the days when sustaining this work has ground your parents a bit too fine, leaving us heart-tired and worried for our students? Will you choose a job in money management instead?

Or, will you see that I chose, and choose, to stay with my students because I like it here in the heat of the classroom? My child, the threads of my work, my love for your mom, the connections I feel with the families of strangers, the creativity of being an educator, and the rhythms of the years as they pass—they all twist together, inseparable. And all I feel is gratitude. I feel it even as I’m confronted by how imperfect the world can be. How will your mom and I ground you in this message?

You will go to public school, where I wish for your joy above all, with friends who can teach you things that I can’t. I will not martyr you there, but in school I hope you will learn to be curious and scrappy. I hope you have feisty, subversive teachers who like kids and don’t yell too much. I hope you understand success as a collective goal and that complacency at the sight of others’ sadness makes you poor. It makes you lonely.

But you won’t be lonely, baby. The adults you will meet—your uncles and aunts, your grandparents and great-grandparent, our friends—work in the world and serve it, not the other way around. How can I not be excited for the future you? You’ll sit with us at the end of meatball night, ringed by post-dinner debris, as we adults surround you with our earnest talk of a better way. Then you’ll speak up and join with something you learned from one of your teachers or something you learned by yourself. Will you hold your tongue until you make the cutting observation, like your mom? Will you speak circles until you land, like me? I can hardly wait."
greghuntington  children  parenting  2016  privilege  competition  gratitude  socialjustice  personhood  individualism  collectivism  community 
june 2016 by robertogreco
A Letter to Past Graduate-Student Me - The Chronicle of Higher Education
[via: https://twitter.com/davidtedu/status/746017338625953794 ]

[my response:
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/746022572936986626
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/746022887371345920

"Why this inventory first at grad school?
1. “grades are no longer the yardstick”
2. “be critical”
3. “colleagues-in-the-making”
4. “conversation between you & the other students”
5. “skimming”
6. “curtail your competitive nature”
7. summary: responsibility ]

"Your grades. I know you’re pretty pleased with yourself for earning an A- on your senior thesis, but you need to learn that grades mean something different in graduate school. Nearly everyone gets an A- or an A in every history class, and after a certain point everything will be pass/fail. Sure, if you decide to change programs, you’ll want a high GPA. But you should stop stressing over the outcome of each semester because your grades are no longer the yardstick by which your successes will be measured.

What your professors expect — more than anything — is for you to want to learn because you’re passionate about a topic, not because you’re passionate about doing well. Stop trying to figure out grading criteria, and start wrapping your head around new trends in your subfield. "Success" is measured, in part, by your ability to identify omissions in current scholarship, and to win funding to write about them and why they matter.

Your seminars. Another thing your professors will want you to be enthusiastic about is their seminars. The hours we spend teaching graduate students are when we as faculty are most able to draw upon our own research.

Go to class regularly but remember that, at this level, professors are not here to chase you about attendance. If you have to miss seminar for a reasonable reason (you’re legitimately sick, you have a job interview, or you have a childcare or family crisis), let us know, as most of us will be sympathetic. But if you need to miss seminar because you’re hungover, didn’t do the reading, or planned a vacation without looking at the semester’s calendar, don’t explain any of that to your professors. Just take the absence, and assume that it reflects poorly on you as a student.

When you do come to class, it won’t be the same as your senior-year seminars. You’ll encounter more challenging readings. Many professors use graduate courses to both run through established, canonical texts, and to catch up on the newest scholarship in the field. So get ready for some easy readings, some articles that will make you want to throw things, and some texts that will prompt you to question why you were asked to go through them at all. As you read, remember that graduate school should transform you into a good scholar and colleague. It’s OK to be critical of a book, but you need to learn how to be critical in a constructive, respectful way. (Keep in mind: The professor might be friends with the author.)

Our teaching style might also surprise you. If it does, it’s because we are thinking of you as colleagues-in-the-making, rather than students. That means: Expect less guidance on what to make of the readings, and minimal stretches of time when we seem to feed you information. Don’t count on being told whether your comments on the reading are on track or not — you may even find that you’re expected to lead discussion and to tell fellow students whether their assessments of the reading seem convincing.

Perhaps the most significant change is that you and your fellow students’ contributions are expected to fill almost the entirety of the seminar time. You are our peers-in-training, and we expect to hear you speak more than we do during these meetings. Don’t use class time to try to have an extended conversation featuring just you and the professor. Think of seminar as a conversation between you and the other students, with the professor there to moderate discussion.

Is there someone in class who always seems to have grasped the author’s argument and the book’s significance? You should be picking up tips for strategic reading from them, rather than wondering why no one else besides you had a problem with the footnote on page 394. And while we’re at it, learn to skim (and no, Past Me, "skimming" does not mean putting the book on your lap and turning the pages faster than usual), and become best friends with book reviews.

You should be getting the sense that graduate school — starting with the master’s — is about strategic study. Spend the most time with the texts and sources that interest you. But be smart about how what you’re reading will help you write your M.A. thesis, how it will help you study for comprehensive exams, or how it will aid you as you conceptualize the dissertation (if you plan to go that far).

Be deliberate about your end-of-semester research papers. Many professors will be willing to let you bend the chronological and geographic scope of our classes if it means you will write the seminar paper that is most useful for you in the future.

Your work versus your life. So, Past Me, that’s a lot of advice about coursework — but graduate school should have work/life balance.

You’ll need to curtail your competitive nature in graduate school. Don’t get me wrong: You can and should be aware of what other people in your cohort and the cohort above you are writing and planning to publish, and you should have a sense of the significant grants in your discipline and who’s recently won them. But do not try to write "better" or faster than other people. Figure out your writing and reading styles, do what works for you, and remember that a few of your fellow students might be future colleagues. Save your competitiveness for your department’s intramural sports teams, which will provide excellent opportunities to pursue work/life balance and to get humiliated by undergraduates who are in much better shape.
You should also be a good citizen. Turn up to departmental seminars, and, if graduate students are invited, to job talks. Seminars and university lectures are good opportunities to take the pulse of a given field, and sitting in the audience might spark research ideas you hadn’t considered for your own work. Attending job talks will give you an excellent opportunity to see what works — and what doesn’t — as A.B.D.s and new Ph.D.s try to sell themselves on the job market.

Finally, banish the following phrase from your vocabulary: "No one told me that …"

Graduate school is an exercise in people not telling you things. It’s also an exercise in learning when to ask questions, and whom to ask. Make it your job to be informed. Read your graduate school’s handbook, and go speak with your department’s amazing administrators if you have initial questions. They will not say no to chocolate. Read The Professor Is In, but also ask people who were recently on the job market whether her advice worked for them in your discipline. When senior scholars come to give talks, take the opportunity to go for drinks with them if that option is available to graduate students, and seek their advice about research and publishing. Read The Chronicle’s forums. Meet regularly with your adviser, but keep in mind that you are the one who should request those meetings.

Most of all, take responsibility for your graduate-school experience. It’s going to be tough; but it’s going to be fun, too.

Hugs, caffeine, and work/life balance,

Future Me"
via:davidtheriault  skimming  howwelearn  gradschool  responsibility  highered  highereducation  sfsh  conversation  learning  criticism  criticalthinking  competition  grades  grading  measurement  assessment  seminars  rachelherrmann  tcsnmy 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The Reading Rules We Would Never Follow as Adult Readers |
"Choice.

The number one thing all the students I have polled through the years want the most when it comes to reading. No matter how I phrase the question, this answer in all of its versions is always at the top. Sometimes pleading, sometimes demanding, sometimes just stated as a matter of fact; please let us choose the books we want to read.

Yet, how often is this a reality for the students we teach? How often, in our eagerness to be great teachers, do we remove or disallow the very things students yearn for to have meaningful literacy experiences? How many of the things we do to students would we never put up with ourselves? In our quest to create lifelong readers, we seem to be missing some very basic truths about what makes a reader. So what are the rules we would probably not always follow ourselves?

Removing choice. I have to start with the most obvious; removing choice in reading (and even in writing). We know that choice matters, we know as adult readers we revel in the sheer experience of being able to choose what we want to read. We take it for granted and will even rebel in small ways when someone says we have to read something. Choice is the cornerstone of our own literacy life, yet it is one of the first things we tend to remove for children, especially fragile or developing readers. And I get it, we think we know better when students repeatedly choose wrong, yet, it is in the selection process that students can uncover who they are as readers, if we give them time to discuss, reflect, and yes, even try the things they choose that may not be a great fit.

Forced reflection. We seem to be reflecting kids to death with our requirements to write a little bit about every book they read. Or having them keep a reading journal or having them write about the signposts or whatever else they are finding when they independently read. It is not that we shouldn’t have students reflect when they read, it is that we make these one-size-fits-all requirements where students cannot discover how they would like to digest their reading. How often do we as adults write a paragraph every time we finish a book? Or summarize it? Or make a diorama, (which yes, I made my students do)? While I know adults that would love to do all of those things, I also know many that would not. In fact, many adult readers I know would slow down their reading or hide their reading if they had to do all of that “work.” When I teach the signposts (from the excellent book Notice and NoteNotice and Note) I tell my students that they are not expected to find them when they are reading at home, but that they are meant to be able to find them when asked. There is a big difference in the way they feel about the task because it is not something they have to do all of the time.

Forced tracking. Oh reading logs, I am looking at you here. Yes, as an adult I track my reading on my Goodreads account. I even write reviews sometimes. But I don’t track my pages (unless I have a bigger purpose in mind and then it is for short amount of time), or time how long I read for, or even have my husband sign for me. I make time to read because I love reading. And while we can say that reading logs foster more reading because it is a check up system, it also kills reading for many. If you want to see if the kids are reading, have them read in class and pay attention to what they are reading. Allow students to track in a way that is meaningful to them; Goodreads, notebook page, poster, pictures of books on their phone, or even through conversations. There is no one system that fits all and if a system we have in place is even killing the love of reading for one child, then we need to rethink it.

Points and competition. Yes, AR, you have it coming. Plus all of the other initiatives that we put in place to urge students to read. And I get it; we desperately want students to become readers and to keep reading, yet this short-term solution can actually have a long-term consequence; kids who do not read for reading’s sake but for the prizes or honors attached to it. We know what the research says regarding motivation and reading and how it can actually have adverse effects, and yet, we continue to concoct programs to try to get them reading. How many adults though would read more because we then could take a computerized test that would give us points? How many adults would be okay with their reading lives on display for the world to see? Some would, while others would hate for the world to know something that they see as a personal discovery. Why do we assume that what might work for one child will work for all?

Limited abandonment. As an adult reader I practice wild book abandonment, passing books on when I know they are not right for me, yet as teachers, we often have rules for when students are allowed to abandon a book. I used to subscribe to the 50 page rule myself. Why? If a child wants to abandon a book, they are on their way to knowing themselves better as a reader. This is something to celebrate, not something to limit. If a child is a serial book abandoner, and yes, I have a few of those, then we should be asking them why, rather than just stopping them. What did they not like about this book? What do they need to look for instead? Help them explore their reading identity so that they can develop it rather than have them mimic yours.

Inane bookshopping rules. My students used to be allowed to bookshop on Fridays. That was it. Yet, as an adult reader I bookshop all of the time. I am constantly on the prowl for the next great read and my to-be-read list is ever expanding. I get that book shopping or browsing sometimes becomes an escape for a child when they do not want to read, but then we work with that one child, rather than impose limits for all. My students know that book shopping can happen anytime during our independent reading time, or even if they have completed other tasks. I would rather want children that want to look at books, than those who abhor it.

When my students started telling me their reading truths, I drove home in shame; how many of the very things they told me had killed their love of reading where things that I had done myself as a teacher? How many of the things was I still doing? Yet, within the words of my students, I found the biggest truth of all; different children need different reading experiences and so that means now is I try to create a passionate reading environment, where there is room and scaffold for all of my readers. Not just those that can work in one system concocted by me. I know that sometimes large things are out of our control, yet, there are so many small things that are. Think of what made you a reader or what stopped you from becoming one and then use that reflection to shape the way reading is taught and practiced in your own learning environment. Being a teacher means that we learn from our mistakes, I have made many, and it means that we continue to strive for better. We cannot do that if we don’t listen to the students. And you know what; don’t take my word for it; ask your own students. Then listen. Then do something about it.

PS: Today I pondered out loud on Twitter how many educators tell students to read at home or over the summer and never read themselves. Being a reading role model should be a requirement for all teachers of reading, it makes a huge difference."
reading  teaching  choice  education  howweteach  pedagogy  control  literacy  pernilleripp  learning  readinglogs  competition  grading  grades  howweread  tracking  reflection 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Gender differences in response to competition with same-gender coworkers: A relational perspective. - PubMed - NCBI
"We take a relational perspective to explain how women and men may differently experience competition with their same-gender coworkers. According to gender socialization research, the female peer culture values harmony and the appearance of equality, whereas hierarchical ranking is integral to the male peer culture. As competition dispenses with equality and creates a ranking hierarchy, we propose that competition is at odds with the norms of female (but not male) peer relationships. On this basis, we predicted and found in 1 correlational study and 3 experiments that women regard competition with their same-gender coworkers as less desirable than men do, and that their relationships with each other suffer in the presence of competition. We discuss the implications of these findings for women's career progression."
competition  competitiveness  work  workplace  gender  2016  women  relationships  careers  equality  harmony 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Learning / Sex — Carol Black
"Many of us have difficulty explaining the concept of unschooling, life learning, or self-directed learning to those who are unfamiliar with it. In an attempt to help unschoolers communicate their way of looking at things to the wider community, we have come up with the following helpful worksheet in two parts.

PART 1

To understand how unschoolers view education, simply take these common and widely held beliefs about sex, and replace the word "sex" with the word "learning."

1. The desire for _______ is a powerful human drive which expresses itself naturally at the developmentally appropriate time. It's important that young people are able to begin _______ when they feel ready and not when someone else pressures them to begin.

2. If people feel scrutinized, measured, or assessed during _______ it can take the fun out of it pretty fast.

3. It's not good manners to compare one person's performance in _______ to another person's. Any kind of scoring system that uses letters or numbers to rate a person at _______ would be wildly inappropriate.

4. While some people don't mind being watched, reprimanded, or threatened with punishment during _______, most people’s enjoyment of _______ tends to wane under those conditions.

5. When it comes to _______, people are all different. Anyone who tries to tell you that one kind of _______ is "normal" and another kind of _______ is a "disorder" should be viewed with skepticism.

6. Having a preconceived set of objectives can tend to take the pleasure out of _______. Sometimes it’s better to just dive into _______ and see where it goes.

7. Research shows that _______ performed for rewards such as money, food treats, praise, or trips to Disneyland is not the same as _______ engaged in for its own sake.

8. The right to personal choice in matters of _______ is fundamental to human dignity and happiness.

9. Sometimes _______ that takes a long time is even better than _______ that happens really fast.

*******

PART 2:

To understand how unschoolers view current education policy, simply take the following common statements about education and replace the word "learning" with the word "sex."

1. All students must be prepared to begin _______ by the same age, which will be determined on a statewide basis by a qualified panel of experts.

2. Students should not be allowed to fall behind their peers in ________ . Those who do must be identified as early as possible so that they can receive immediate professional intervention, including medication if necessary.

3. Students must master the skills for _______ in sequence, with the basic building blocks for _______ mastered and tested before higher-order _______ can begin.

4. The normal way to begin _______ is in a classroom using textbooks and worksheets rather than through experimentation and hands-on experience.

5. _______ is better in groups of 20 or 30 than one on one.

6. _______ should be scheduled in 45 minute sessions that begin and end promptly with the ringing of a loud bell.

7. It is not permitted to use the bathroom during _______ . Texting and snacking are also strictly forbidden.

8. Students should be given a clear rubric for _______ that tells them how many points will be earned for each _______ activity, as well as the criteria for scoring. Also make it clear how many points will be taken off for sloppiness or lateness.

9. Students’ progress at _______ should be constantly evaluated on a percentile basis, with their rank among their peers posted on a bulletin board in the hallway.

10. Parents can reward excellence in _______ by proudly putting a bumper sticker on their car announcing that their child is better than other people's children at _______.

11. The U.S Department of Education, through the use of federally mandated standards, intends to ensure that in the 21st century all American students achieve minimum performance levels at _______, so that we will be able to compete with the Chinese.

Congratulations!

Now you know how to think like an unschooler!"
carolblack  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  howwelearn  nealmarlens  humor  sex  measurement  standardization  development  motivation  enjoyment  joy  dignity  policy  competition  ranking  rankings  howweteach  teaching 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Winning makes people more aggressive toward the defeated -- ScienceDaily
"In this world, there are winners and losers -- and, for your own safety, it is best to fear the winners. A new study found that winners -- those who outperformed others on a competitive task -- acted more aggressively against the people they beat than the losers did against the victors.

"It seems that people have a tendency to stomp down on those they have defeated, to really rub it in," said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.

"Losers, on the other hand, don't really act any more aggressively than normal against those who defeated them."

Bushman said this is the first study to examine whether winners or losers were more likely to act aggressively.

There were reasons to believe either side could have been more in a fighting mood, Bushman said. Losers might be the bigger aggressors, because they would be angry against those who prevented them from feeling competent. However, other research suggests that people are more aggressive when they feel powerful, as they may when they win a competition.

These results, though, suggest "losers are the ones who get the brunt of the aggression," he said.

Bushman conducted the study with three French scholars: Dominique Muller and Emmanuelle Ceaux of Pierre Mendès-France University in Grenoble and Baptise Subra of University Paris Descartes. Their results appear online in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science and will appear in a future print edition.

They conducted three related studies.

The first study involved 103 American college students who were told they would be paired with a partner who they would be competing against on two tasks. (In actuality, there was no partner).

In the first task, participants were shown patterns of simple shapes on a computer screen for just a fraction of a second (70 milliseconds) and they had to decide whether a dollar sign was present or absent.

After 80 trials, all students were told their scores. Half of them were told they did better than their supposed partner, and half were told they did worse. In other words, half were winners and half were losers.

The second task was a competitive reaction time task which is used to measure aggression. Participants were told that they and their partner (supposedly the same person they competed against in the first task) would have to press a button as fast as possible on each of the 25 trials and that whoever was slower would receive a blast of noise through headphones.

The winner of the task would decide how loud the blast would be and how long it would last.

Results showed that participants who won in the first competition blasted their partners longer and louder than did those who lost the competition.

"People were more aggressive when they were better off than when they were worse off than others," Bushman said.

One possible limitation of this study, Bushman said, was that participants might have thought that someone who was good at the first task would also be good at the second task. If that was true, the losers in the first task may have been afraid to act aggressively because they were afraid their partner would again win a lot of trials and punish them with loud blasts.

So in a second study, conducted with 34 French college students, the researchers repeated the same experiment, except that the researchers told participants that the two tasks tested different capacities, and that those who did well on the first task do not necessarily perform well on the second.

The results were the same as those in the first experiment, providing further evidence that winners are more aggressive than losers, Bushman said.

Another question, though, is whether winners really were more aggressive against losers, or whether losers were actually just less aggressive than normal against winners.

A third study, involving 72 French college students, answered that question by adding a control group to the study. As in the previous experiments, one group was told their partner did better than they did on the first competitive task, and one group was told their partner did worse. However, there was also a third group that told there was a computer error during the first task and they couldn't tell who was the winner.

This study also used a different measure of aggression. In an earlier part of the study, the participants filled out a "Food Preference Form" which was shared with their supposed partner, reportedly as part of a study on how people form impressions of others.

Participants were then told they were randomly assigned to drink a sweet beverage and their partner was assigned to drink a tomato juice beverage. Participants were told they could add Tabasco sauce and salt to their partner's beverage -- which they knew their partner strongly disliked from the food preference form.

Results showed that participants who were winners in the first task added more Tabasco sauce and salt to their partner's drink than losers did.

In addition, the losers acted about as aggressively as did those in the control group, who didn't know if they were winners or losers. That suggests winners do indeed act particularly aggressively, while losers aren't particularly nonaggressive.

Bushman said the fact that the findings were repeated in three different studies, in two different countries, suggest that there really is something about winning that makes people more aggressive.

"Losers need to watch out," he said.

The next step, he said, is to find out if winners act more aggressively toward everyone, or just toward people they defeat. That's the subject of an upcoming study."
competition  psychology  aggression  2016  winning 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Kurt Hahn - Wikipedia
"Six Declines of Modern Youth

1. Decline of Fitness due to modern methods of locomotion [moving about];
2. Decline of Initiative and Enterprise due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis;
3. Decline of Memory and Imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life;
4. Decline of Skill and Care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship;
5. Decline of Self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquilizers;
6. Decline of Compassion due to the unseemly haste with which modern life is conducted or as William Temple called "spiritual death".

Hahn not only pointed out the decline of modern youth, he also came up with four antidotes to fix the problem.

1. Fitness Training (e.g., to compete with one's self in physical fitness; in so doing, train the discipline and determination of the mind through the body)
2. Expeditions (e.g., via sea or land, to engage in long, challenging endurance tasks)
3. Projects (e.g., involving crafts and manual skills)
4. Rescue Service (e.g., surf lifesaving, fire fighting, first aid)

Ten Expeditionary Learning Principles
These 10 principles, which seek to describe a caring, adventurous school culture and approach to learning, were drawn[by whom?] from the ideas of Kurt Hahn and other education leaders[which?] for use in Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB) schools.

1. The primacy of self-discovery
Learning happens best with emotion, challenge and the requisite support. People discover their abilities, values, passions, and responsibilities in situations that offer adventure and the unexpected. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students undertake tasks that require perseverance, fitness, craftsmanship, imagination, self-discipline, and significant achievement. A teacher’s primary task is to help students overcome their fears and discover they can do more than they think they can.

2. The having of wonderful ideas
Teaching in Expeditionary Learning schools fosters curiosity about the world by creating learning situations that provide something important to think about, time to experiment, and time to make sense of what is observed.

4. The responsibility for learning
Learning is both a personal process of discovery and a social activity. Everyone learns both individually and as part of a group. Every aspect of an Expeditionary Learning school encourages both children and adults to become increasingly responsible for directing their own personal and collective learning.

4. Empathy and caring
Learning is fostered best in communities where students’ and teachers’ ideas are respected and where there is mutual trust. Learning groups are small in Expeditionary Learning schools, with a caring adult looking after the progress and acting as an advocate for each child. Older students mentor younger ones, and students feel physically and emotionally safe.

5. Success and failure
All students need to be successful if they are to build the confidence and capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges. But it is also important for students to learn from their failures, to persevere when things are hard, and to learn to turn disabilities into opportunities.

6. Collaboration and competition
Individual development and group development are integrated so that the value of friendship, trust, and group action is clear. Students are encouraged to compete not against each other but with their own personal best and with rigorous standards of excellence.

7. Diversity and inclusion
Both diversity and inclusion increase the richness of ideas, creative power, problem-solving ability, respect for others. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students investigate value their different histories talents as well as those of other communities cultures. Schools learning groups heterogeneous.

8. The natural world
Direct respectful relationship with the natural world refreshes the human spirit teaches[clarification needed] the important ideas of recurring cycles and cause and effect. Students learn to become stewards of the earth and of future generations.

9. Solitude and reflection
Students and teachers need time alone to explore their own thoughts, make their own connections, and create their own ideas. They also need time to exchange their reflections with others.

10. Service and compassion
We are crew, not passengers. Students and teachers are strengthened by acts of consequential service to others, and one of an Expeditionary Learning school's primary functions is to prepare students with the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service to others."
kurthahn  learning  youth  fitness  health  skill  care  self-discipline  memory  imagination  consumerism  spectatoritis  locomotion  williamtemple  stimulation  expeditions  projects  projectbasedlearning  self-discovery  howwelearn  outwardbound  unitedworldcolleges  collaboration  competition  nature  outdoors  solitude  reflection  compassion  service  servicelearning  howweteach  education  pedagogy  experientiallearning  experience  success  failure  empathy  caring  responsibility 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Why the Economic Fates of America’s Cities Diverged - The Atlantic
"What accounts for these anomalous and unpredicted trends? The first explanation many people cite is the decline of the Rust Belt, and certainly that played a role."



"Another conventional explanation is that the decline of Heartland cities reflects the growing importance of high-end services and rarified consumption."



"Another explanation for the increase in regional inequality is that it reflects the growing demand for “innovation.” A prominent example of this line of thinking comes from the Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti, whose 2012 book, The New Geography of Jobs, explains the increase in regional inequality as the result of two new supposed mega-trends: markets offering far higher rewards to “innovation,” and innovative people increasingly needing and preferring each other’s company."



"What, then, is the missing piece? A major factor that has not received sufficient attention is the role of public policy. Throughout most of the country’s history, American government at all levels has pursued policies designed to preserve local control of businesses and to check the tendency of a few dominant cities to monopolize power over the rest of the country. These efforts moved to the federal level beginning in the late 19th century and reached a climax of enforcement in the 1960s and ’70s. Yet starting shortly thereafter, each of these policy levers were flipped, one after the other, in the opposite direction, usually in the guise of “deregulation.” Understanding this history, largely forgotten today, is essential to turning the problem of inequality around.

Starting with the country’s founding, government policy worked to ensure that specific towns, cities, and regions would not gain an unwarranted competitive advantage. The very structure of the U.S. Senate reflects a compromise among the Founders meant to balance the power of densely and sparsely populated states. Similarly, the Founders, understanding that private enterprise would not by itself provide broadly distributed postal service (because of the high cost of delivering mail to smaller towns and far-flung cities), wrote into the Constitution that a government monopoly would take on the challenge of providing the necessary cross-subsidization.

Throughout most of the 19th century and much of the 20th, generations of Americans similarly struggled with how to keep railroads from engaging in price discrimination against specific areas or otherwise favoring one town or region over another. Many states set up their own bureaucracies to regulate railroad fares—“to the end,” as the head of the Texas Railroad Commission put it, “that our producers, manufacturers, and merchants may be placed on an equal footing with their rivals in other states.” In 1887, the federal government took over the task of regulating railroad rates with the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Railroads came to be regulated much as telegraph, telephone, and power companies would be—as natural monopolies that were allowed to remain in private hands and earn a profit, but only if they did not engage in pricing or service patterns that would add significantly to the competitive advantage of some regions over others.

Passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 was another watershed moment in the use of public policy to limit regional inequality. The antitrust movement that sprung up during the Populist and Progressive era was very much about checking regional concentrations of wealth and power. Across the Midwest, hard-pressed farmers formed the “Granger” movement and demanded protection from eastern monopolists controlling railroads, wholesale-grain distribution, and the country’s manufacturing base. The South in this era was also, in the words of the historian C. Vann Woodward, in a “revolt against the East” and its attempts to impose a “colonial economy.”"



"By the 1960s, antitrust enforcement grew to proportions never seen before, while at the same time the broad middle class grew and prospered, overall levels of inequality fell dramatically, and midsize metro areas across the South, the Midwest, and the West Coast achieved a standard of living that converged with that of America’s historically richest cites in the East. Of course, antitrust was not the only cause of the increase in regional equality, but it played a much larger role than most people realize today.

To get a flavor of how thoroughly the federal government managed competition throughout the economy in the 1960s, consider the case of Brown Shoe Co., Inc. v. United States, in which the Supreme Court blocked a merger that would have given a single distributor a mere 2 percent share of the national shoe market.

Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren explained that the Court was following a clear and long-established desire by Congress to keep many forms of business small and local: “We cannot fail to recognize Congress’ desire to promote competition through the protection of viable, small, locally owned business. Congress appreciated that occasional higher costs and prices might result from the maintenance of fragmented industries and markets. It resolved these competing considerations in favor of decentralization. We must give effect to that decision.”

In 1964, the historian and public intellectual Richard Hofstadter would observe that an “antitrust movement” no longer existed, but only because regulators were managing competition with such effectiveness that monopoly no longer appeared to be a realistic threat. “Today, anybody who knows anything about the conduct of American business,” Hofstadter observed, “knows that the managers of the large corporations do their business with one eye constantly cast over their shoulders at the antitrust division.”

In 1966, the Supreme Court blocked a merger of two supermarket chains in Los Angeles that, had they been allowed to combine, would have controlled just 7.5 percent of the local market. (Today, by contrast there are nearly 40 metro areas in the U.S where Walmart controls half or more of all grocery sales.) Writing for the majority, Justice Harry Blackmun noted the long opposition of Congress and the Court to business combinations that restrained competition “by driving out of business the small dealers and worthy men.”

During this era, other policy levers, large and small, were also pulled in the same direction—such as bank regulation, for example. Since the Great Recession, America has relearned the history of how New Deal legislation such as the Glass-Steagall Act served to contain the risks of financial contagion. Less well remembered is how New Deal-era and subsequent banking regulation long served to contain the growth of banks that were “too big to fail” by pushing power in the banking system out to the hinterland. Into the early 1990s, federal laws severely limited banks headquartered in one state from setting up branches in any other state. State and federal law fostered a dense web of small-scale community banks and locally operated thrifts and credit unions.

Meanwhile, bank mergers, along with mergers of all kinds, faced tough regulatory barriers that included close scrutiny of their effects on the social fabric and political economy of local communities. Lawmakers realized that levels of civic engagement and community trust tended to decline in towns that came under the control of outside ownership, and they resolved not to let that happen in their time.

In other realms, too, federal policy during the New Deal and for several decades afterward pushed strongly to spread regional equality. For example, New Deal programs such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Rural Electrification Administration dramatically improved the infrastructure of the South and West. During and after World War II, federal spending on the military and the space program also tilted heavily in the Sunbelt’s favor.

The government’s role in regulating prices and levels of service in transportation was also a huge factor in promoting regional equality. In 1952, the Interstate Commerce Commission ordered a 10-percent reduction in railroad freight rates for southern shippers, a political decision that played a substantial role in enabling the South’s economic ascent after the war. The ICC and state governments also ordered railroads to run money-losing long-distance and commuter passenger trains to ensure that far-flung towns and villages remained connected to the national economy.

Into the 1970s, the ICC also closely regulated trucking routes and prices so they did not tilt in favor of any one region. Similarly, the Civil Aeronautics Board made sure that passengers flying to and from small and midsize cities paid roughly the same price per mile as those flying to and from the largest cities. It also required airlines to offer service to less populous areas even when such routes were unprofitable.

Meanwhile, massive public investments in the interstate-highway system and other arterial roads added enormously to regional equality. First, it vastly increased the connectivity of rural areas to major population centers. Second, it facilitated the growth of reasonably priced suburban housing around high-wage metro areas such as New York and Los Angeles, thus making it much more possible than it is now for working-class people to move to or remain in those areas.

Beginning in the late 1970s, however, nearly all the policy levers that had been used to push for greater regional income equality suddenly reversed direction. The first major changes came during Jimmy Carter’s administration. Fearful of inflation, and under the spell of policy entrepreneurs such as Alfred Kahn, Carter signed the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978. This abolished the Civil Aeronautics Board, which had worked to offer rough regional parity in airfares and levels of service since 1938… [more]
us  cities  policy  economics  history  inequality  via:robinsonmeyer  2016  philliplongman  regulation  deregulation  capitalism  trusts  antitrustlaw  mergers  competition  markets  banks  finance  ronaldreagan  corporatization  intellectualproperty  patents  law  legal  equality  politics  government  rentseeking  innovation  acquisitions  antitrustenforcement  income  detroit  nyc  siliconvalley  technology  banking  peterganong  danielshoag  1950s  1960s  1970s  1980s  1990s  greatdepression  horacegreely  chicago  denver  cleveland  seattle  atlanta  houston  saltlakecity  stlouis  enricomoretti  shermanantitrustact  1890  cvannwoodward  woodrowwilson  1912  claytonantitrustact  louisbrandeis  federalreserve  minneapolis  kansascity  robinson-patmanact  1920s  1930s  miller-tydingsact  fdr  celler-kefauveract  emanuelceller  huberhumphrey  earlwarren  richardhofstadter  harryblackmun  newdeal  interstatecommercecommission  jimmycarter  alfredkahn  airlinederegulationact  1978  memphis  cincinnati  losangeles  airlines  transportation  rail  railroads  1980  texas  florida  1976  amazon  walmart  r 
march 2016 by robertogreco
The Real Cultural Explanation for School Shootings | Al Jazeera America
"Teenagers raised in relentlessly competitive environments are learning a dangerous lesson"



"The problem isn’t video games per se but a particular narrative about power, violence and domination. In one of their better insights (cribbed from their son Eric), the Singulars look at two hit movies released in 1999: “The Matrix” and “Fight Club.” These movies were never really bugaboos for cultural conservatives or nervous parents; the popularity of “Fight Club” built slowly, and “The Matrix” had artistic merit and a positive message about thinking for oneself. But both stories — along with that year’s “The Boondock Saints,” which completes the dorm room poster trilogy — are about white men transforming the world according to their will, using their hands (and guns). Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) don’t have to abide by stupid rules or unfair structures. They can transition from nobodies to earthly gods through aggression and will. The most exciting parts of both movies are when the heroes remake the world like a painter with a canvas.

One 26-year-old did a good job describing for the Singulars the culture from which these fantasies are an escape: “Follow this one path all the way and you win. Follow another path and you’re nobody. The pressure to win is everywhere. It’s on top of us pushing down, from grade school on. It feels like you’re in a struggle for your survival, even if you have financial resources. My friends and I constantly talk about this. It’s a part of our daily reality.” In a society that pits each kid against the whole world for a shrinking number of success slots, shooting up your school seems like a misunderstanding. You’re only supposed to figuratively kill all your classmates.

By the time I got to high school, we were participating in active-shooter drills. At the time, teenagers in my hometown stuck to killing only themselves — as they still do — but the school wanted to be prepared. As students, we thought the drills were ridiculous, and we had plenty of time to talk about it while filing around. Teachers were supposed to put colored cards in the window to signify whether there were safe or injured people inside. (“Why, so the shooter knows where to go?”) Then we were all supposed to go to the field near the parking lot. (“If it were me, I’d put a bomb under the bleachers.”) We understood something the adults still couldn’t fathom: If someone was going to shoot up the school, they were learning the emergency procedures along with the rest of us. They were the rest of us.

A lot of young Americans have practiced being hunted by our classmates, and during the drills it’s not clear how many kids are imagining themselves on the other side of the gun. We have been asked to identify with the shooter or the victim, the exceptional individual or the sheep marching toward the bleachers. It’s not much of a choice.

The young people in “The Spiral Notebook” are ultimately asking why competition is so important and why we always have to fight one another. Those are questions that stories like “The Matrix” and “Fight Club” seem to encourage, but they are also questions that get you immediately kicked out of a “Halo” game. It’s all part of the same school-shooting culture.

The baby boomer generation of peace, love and understanding — the Singulars’ generation — is lost. Their book was inspired in large part because they couldn’t understand how a son raised by former hippies like them could understand this kind of violence. “People your age don’t know anything about this or why these shootings keep happening,” he tells them. “No offense, but you’re too old.” If America is truly prepared to change the culture of mass shooting, then we need to listen to the people who at least have some idea of what’s going on."
2015  malcolmharris  violence  generations  thematrix  fightclub  videogames  culture  society  gender  boys  schoolshootings  us  competition  children  youth  education  schools 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Why Affluent Parents Put So Much Pressure on Their Kids - The Atlantic
"With financial success ought to come some measure of relief—a chance to take in a deep breath, exhale, and survey the world from the top.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then again, it’s not working at all. There is very little social mobility in America, up or down, and most of those born into the poorest and least-educated households will someday run their own low-earning, poorly educated households. How is it that a country so prosperous shines its munificence on so few? And, for those who do find success, why does getting there leave them feeling so hopeless?"
education  affluence  precarity  economics  inequality  society  socialmobility  us  incomeinequality  fear  parenting  schools  learning  competition  fragility  hannahrosin  pressure  anxiety  stress  selectivity  colleges  universities  rebeccarosen  gareyramey  valerieramey  admissions  scarcity  jessicagross  suniyaluthar  paloalto  siliconvalley 
november 2015 by robertogreco
How the Myth of the Meritocracy Ruins Students
"The inequitable outcome of the meritocracy is hiding in plain sight in every facet of society - in schools, workplaces, prisons and neighborhoods. We don't like inequality and we're alarmed by how fast the underclass is growing, but we believe that it's a fact of life because, let's face it, some people are just better than others. Most of us, liberals included, are to varying degrees beholden to the Myth of the Meritocracy.

Liberals are all for trying to level the playing field. We support basic civil rights measures that prohibit blatant discrimination and affirmative action programs that groom the cream of the crop for middle-class membership. But for all the leveling that has supposedly occurred since Martin Luther King Jr.'s time, things are still very lopsided. King's dream of economic equality was sidelined, because most Americans believe that once the shackles of overt discrimination are removed, the next logical step is for everyone to compete for as big a share of the spoils as possible.

We raise our kids to aspire to the "American Dream," which is understood to extend the promise of upward mobility only to the winners of the rat race. Theoretically, every individual has the opportunity to win the competition and live the dream. But so long as there are winners and losers (with outcomes largely predetermined at birth), the "American Dream" is a Trump-like zero-sum game, and our misplaced allegiance to it has led to nightmarish levels of inequality and social breakdown. As the late George Carlin said, "It's called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it."

Meritocracy is taken for granted as part of the natural order but, in reality, it's a political choice. The alternative to meritocracy is the organized, formal redistribution of wealth on the basis of need, not achievement, but this notion is not (yet) given air time because it upsets the Myth of the Meritocracy. What if some loser gets something he doesn't deserve? What if I have taken away something I deserve to keep?

There's a "me" and there's a "them," and they're in competition and conflict. We'd rather they be homeless, imprisoned, deported or fired than take what we believe is rightfully ours. There is, it seems, a little bit of The Donald in all of us.

We've been conditioned to prefer a society in which everyone has at least some chance of climbing to the top to one in which everyone's basic needs are met. And so it is. And so our society unravels because we'd rather fight each other and fetishize individual success than share.

This reflex to compete rather than cooperate stems from the modern delusion that humans are separate from one another and from nature. When we pause to reflect, we can readily sense and observe that all beings are interconnected and our fates intertwined. But we don't pause to reflect, because we're too busy reacting defensively to perceived threats to our well-being, threats that are amplified 24-7 by the media.

The biggest actual threat to our well-being is the hyper-individualist ethic that frightens us into participating in the war of all against all, the endgame of which is social collapse and, at the rate we're plundering a natural world we feel disconnected from, human extinction.

Dr. King said:
We must see that whatever diminishes the poor diminishes everybody else. And the salvation of the poor will mean the salvation of the whole nation. For we're all tied together in an inescapable network of mutuality. We are tied in a single garment of destiny.

Our culture conditions us to believe the opposite - that each of us can and must strive to rise above the fray. Schools do their part, training children to put a premium on personal excellence or be condemned to a lifetime of drudgery, poverty and, most horrifying of all, low status.

We can abolish homework and testing. We can turn classrooms into innovative hands-on laboratories of learning. We can tell our kids that their lives will be just as happy with a degree from a community college as from Princeton. We can run programs for at-risk youth and, with enough progressive elected officials in office, we can even wrangle some extra money for public schools.

And we should do all of those things. But so long as we focus on each individual child's success rather than the collective well-being of all children and families, we will not be able to extricate our children from the corrosive zero-sum game of "race to the top or get left behind" they are forced to play. So long as we remain trapped in the meritocratic arena, we ensure a mean and uncertain future for our children, a future in which most will be consigned to the underclass and even those closer to the top will unhappily strive to surpass thy neighbor.

Politics and culture keep the Myth of the Meritocracy alive. Market fundamentalism ensures high levels of economic inequality that have people worried enough to want to elbow their fellow citizens (and non-citizens) out of the race. Culturally, we're conditioned from such an early age to enter the race to the top and to believe that those at the top belong there, that we never consider what it would look like to cooperate instead of compete.

It doesn't have to be this way. The United States is blessed with more than enough to go around, enough food, enough medicine, enough housing, enough money to create space for every child to graduate from a university or vocational college and earn a decent living doing something they enjoy. We just need to get better at sharing and cooperating.

That, in the end, is our choice: Redistribute wealth equitably and invest in schools that honor and inspire students or force our children to run the gauntlet, knowing that only a fraction of them will succeed and the rest eliminated like Celebrity Apprentice contestants. Either Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream will be realized, or Trump's will."
meritocracy  society  ericaetelson  competition  capitalism  2015  inequality  wealthredistribution  wealth  politics  culture  us  learning  children  poverty  privilege  georgecarlin  mutuality  martinlutherkingjr  individualism  japan  collectivism  socialism  communism  americandream  socialsafetynet  economics  injustice  unfairness  race  racism  classism  class  libertarianism  success  virtue  work  labor  motivation  education  schools  racetonowhere  mlk 
november 2015 by robertogreco
All Aboard the LeaderShip - Alfie Kohn
"If you’re going to lead a school or other organization, it might be smart to give some thought to what it means to be a good leader. But that fact doesn’t explain why some schools proudly announce that they train their students — every last one of them — in the art of leadership. What’s up with that?

I’d suggest three possible explanations. The first is that leadership, like a lot of other terms that show up in mission statements (transformational, responsible, good citizens, 21st-century as an adjective), is just a rhetorical flourish — something we’re not supposed to think about too carefully. No one is likely to stand up and say, “Hey, wait just a minute! Exactly which characteristics does this school regard as admirable in the 21st century that it didn’t value in, say, 1995?”

Similarly, you’re not expected to ask how it’s possible for everyone to be a leader. You’re just supposed to smile and nod. Leadership good.

Possibility number 2 is that the term does have a specific meaning — a meaning that’s actually rather disturbing in this context. “When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge,” William Deresiewicz wrote in the September issue of Harper’s magazine. In fact, that pact with the privileged begins well before college. The message, if made explicit, would sound something like this: “No, of course everyone can’t be a leader. The elite are far more likely to attain that status. So buy your kids an education here and we’ll equip them to be part of that elite.”[1]

It’s a shrewd selling point for a selective school, granted. And it explains why, as someone observed recently, you don’t find many institutions that refer to themselves as “followership academies.”

The relatively benign word leadership may be a way to mute the objectionable implications of grooming certain students to run the world. It’s not unlike how adults try to make themselves feel better about punishing children by referring to what they’re doing as “imposing a consequence.”

*

When I mused about this issue on Twitter a few weeks ago, wondering whether appeals to leadership implicitly endorsed a competitive hierarchy, my post produced a bushel of responses that made me consider possibility number 3: Maybe leadership, like a lot of other words, just means whatever the hell you want it to mean.

One person pointed me to a website about being a “servant/leader” — a phrase with religious roots, I discovered. The site, which had the feel of a late-night TV commercial, offered materials to promote both “personal development” and an “entrepreneurial mindset.”

Here, reproduced verbatim, are a few of the other replies I received:

* Leadership requires that we lead ourselves first. Part of being a great leader is being a good follower too

* Students can lead in 4 directions- leading up, leading peers, leading down, and leading self

* Everyone can be a leader, everyone can be a servant, and everyone can treat others w/ respect

* Some leadership actually comes from the followers within a group

* Lead from YOUR passion. All can.

* [I] always interpreted “teaching leadership” to mean recognizing/owning our gifts & challenges, and learning what we can do with them

One reasonable reaction to all these declarations would be: “Huh?” The dictionary says a leader is “one who is in charge or command of others.” The leader’s style doesn’t have to be (and ideally wouldn’t be) heavy-handed or authoritarian. But that doesn’t mean the word can be redefined to signify anything we choose, such that the inherent power differential between leaders and followers is magically erased. To deny that feature, or to claim that leadership can refer to being a good follower, stretches the word beyond all usefulness. Likewise for the blithe reassurance that everyone can be a leader, which recalls Debbie Meier’s marvelous analogy: It’s like telling children to line up for lunch, then adding, “And I want all of you to be in the front half of the line!”

In a political context, it makes sense to discuss how to prevent leaders from abusing their power. But if our focus is on education or child rearing, then I’m not sure why we’re promoting a hierarchical arrangement. And teaching kids to “follow as well as lead” doesn’t address this concern any more than the harm caused by having a punitive parent is rectified by having another parent who’s permissive.

It’s fine to hope that those children who do eventually end up in leadership positions will act with kindness and skill. But, again, why frame education in these terms? Why not promote characteristics that apply to everyone (just by virtue of being human) and are relevant to children as well as adults: compassion, skepticism, self-awareness, curiosity, and so on? Why not emphasize the value of being part of a well-functioning team, of treating everyone with respect within a model that’s fundamentally collaborative and democratic? At best, a focus on leadership distracts us from helping people decide things together; at worst, it inures us to a social order that consists of those who tell and those who are told.

*

Alongside my substantive objection to an emphasis on leadership (as the word is actually defined) I will confess to some irritation with the more general tendency to be unconstrained by how words are actually defined. This temptation presents itself with respect to all sorts of terms, and even people with admirable views give in to it. Faced with an objection to a certain idea or practice, the response is likely to be, in effect, “No, no. I use that label to mean only good things.”

Thus: “I reject your criticisms of the flipped classroom [making students watch lecture videos as homework and do what’s more commonly assigned as homework during class] because when I talk about flipped classrooms, I mean those that include wonderful student-designed projects.”

Or: “Why would someone who’s progressive raise concerns about the idea of a growth mindset [attributing outcomes to effort rather than to fixed ability]? The way I use that term, it includes a rejection of grades and other traditional pedagogical practices.”[2]

We’ve disappeared through the looking glass here, finding ourselves in a reality where, as Lewis Carroll had Humpty Dumpty put it, “a word…means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”[3] Like Carroll, I think it’s fine to argue that x is consistent with things you already like (if you can defend that proposition), but it’s not fine to defend x by redefining it however you see fit.

After all, that’s something a good leader would never permit."
alfiekohn  leadership  education  howweteach  schools  williamderesiewicz  skepticism  power  elitism  buzzwords  missionstatements  2015  deborahmeier  compassion  self-awareness  curiosity  democracy  collaboration  society  selfishness  language  lewiscarroll  growthmindset  flippedclassroom  pedagogy  whatweteach  words  kindness  consensus  hierarchy  horizontality  competition 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Back-to-School-Night Speech We'd Like to Hear* | Psychology Today
"Our top priority here -- and I mean a real, honest-to-goodness commitment, not just a slogan on the website or in a mission statement -- is to learn about and support each student's interests. What questions do they have about the world? How can we help them build on and find answers to those questions? When we meet as a staff, it's usually to think together about how best to do that, how to create a school that's not just academic but intellectual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

As the year unfolds, we'll send you occasional letters and e-mails -- and update our website -- about how all this is playing out, about how your child is doing and, more important, what your child is doing. Some teachers host their own blogs or send out periodic newsletters. But don't be worried if sometimes they write things like, "We had a conflict in class that made some kids unhappy so we called a class meeting to work it out" or "Hey, I tried a new way to introduce an unfamiliar concept today, and it bombed so I'm not likely to do that again." If we sent you updates that were always upbeat, implying that every kid loved - and succeeded at - every activity, we'd quickly lose all credibility and you'd discount everything you heard from us. So we'll be tactful but honest in sharing … [more]
alfiekohn  emergentcurriculum  education  unschooling  deschooling  learning  children  schools  priorities  tcsnmy  agency  choice  homework  grades  grading  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  curriculum  reggioemilia  anxiety  boredom  exhaustion  play  democracy  textbooks  caring  progressive  discipline  behavior  competition  awards 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Savage capitalism is back – and it will not tame itself | David Graeber | Comment is free | The Guardian
"In other words, what happened in western Europe and North America between roughly 1917 and 1975 – when capitalism did indeed create high growth and lower inequality – was something of a historical anomaly. There is a growing realisation among economic historians that this was indeed the case. There are many theories as to why. Adair Turner, former chairman of the Financial Services Authority, suggests it was the particular nature of mid-century industrial technology that allowed both high growth rates and a mass trade union movement. Piketty himself points to the destruction of capital during the world wars, and the high rates of taxation and regulation that war mobilisation allowed. Others have different explanations.

No doubt many factors were involved, but almost everyone seems to be ignoring the most obvious. The period when capitalism seemed capable of providing broad and spreading prosperity was also, precisely, the period when capitalists felt they were not the only game in town: when they faced a global rival in the Soviet bloc, revolutionary anti-capitalist movements from Uruguay to China, and at least the possibility of workers' uprisings at home. In other words, rather than high rates of growth allowing greater wealth for capitalists to spread around, the fact that capitalists felt the need to buy off at least some portion of the working classes placed more money in ordinary people's hands, creating increasing consumer demand that was itself largely responsible for the remarkable rates of economic growth that marked capitalism's "golden age".

Since the 1970s, as any significant political threat has receded, things have gone back to their normal state: that is, to savage inequalities, with a miserly 1% presiding over a social order marked by increasing social, economic and even technological stagnation. It was precisely the fact that people such as my Russian friend believed capitalism would inevitably civilise itself that guaranteed it no longer had to do so.

Piketty, in contrast, begins his book by denouncing "the lazy rhetoric of anti-capitalism". He has nothing against capitalism itself – or even, for that matter, inequality. He just wishes to provide a check on capitalism's tendency to create a useless class of parasitical rentiers. As a result, he argues that the left should focus on electing governments dedicated to creating international mechanisms to tax and regulate concentrated wealth. Some of his suggestions – an 80% income tax! – may seem radical, but we are still talking about a man who, having demonstrated capitalism is a gigantic vacuum cleaner sucking wealth into the hands of a tiny elite, insists that we do not simply unplug the machine, but try to build a slightly smaller vacuum cleaner sucking in the opposite direction.

What's more, he doesn't seem to understand that it doesn't matter how many books he sells, or summits he holds with financial luminaries or members of the policy elite, the sheer fact that in 2014 a left-leaning French intellectual can safely declare that he does not want to overthrow the capitalist system but only to save it from itself is the reason such reforms will never happen. The 1% are not about to expropriate themselves, even if asked nicely. And they have spent the past 30 years creating a lock on media and politics to ensure no one will do so through electoral means.

Since no one in their right mind would wish to revive anything like the Soviet Union, we are not going to see anything like the mid-century social democracy created to combat it either. If we want an alternative to stagnation, impoverishment and ecological devastation, we're just going to have to figure out a way to unplug the machine and start again."
capitalism  civilization  communism  crisis  davidgraeber  2015  economics  thomaspiketty  greed  imbalance  inequality  competition  growth  poverty  policy 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Kurt Hahn - Wikipedia
"Six Declines of Modern Youth

1. Decline of Fitness due to modern methods of locomotion [moving about];
2. Decline of Initiative and Enterprise due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis;
3. Decline of Memory and Imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life;
4. Decline of Skill and Care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship;
5. Decline of Self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquilizers;
6. Decline of Compassion due to the unseemly haste with which modern life is conducted or as William Temple called "spiritual death".

Hahn not only pointed out the decline of modern youth, he also came up with four antidotes to fix the problem.

1. Fitness Training (e.g., to compete with one's self in physical fitness; in so doing, train the discipline and determination of the mind through the body)
2. Expeditions (e.g., via sea or land, to engage in long, challenging endurance tasks)
3. Projects (e.g., involving crafts and manual skills)
4. Rescue Service (e.g., surf lifesaving, fire fighting, first aid)

*****

Ten Expeditionary Learning Principles
These 10 principles, which seek to describe a caring, adventurous school culture and approach to learning, were drawn[by whom?] from the ideas of Kurt Hahn and other education leaders[which?] for use in Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB) schools.[citation needed]

1. The primacy of self-discovery
Learning happens best with emotion, challenge and the requisite support. People discover their abilities, values, passions, and responsibilities in situations that offer adventure and the unexpected. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students undertake tasks that require perseverance, fitness, craftsmanship, imagination, self-discipline, and significant achievement. A teacher’s primary task is to help students overcome their fears and discover they can do more than they think they can.

2. The having of wonderful ideas
Teaching in Expeditionary Learning schools fosters curiosity about the world by creating learning situations that provide something important to think about, time to experiment, and time to make sense of what is observed.

3. The responsibility for learning
Learning is both a personal process of discovery and a social activity. Everyone learns both individually and as part of a group. Every aspect of an Expeditionary Learning school encourages both children and adults to become increasingly responsible for directing their own personal and collective learning.

4. Empathy and caring
Learning is fostered best in communities where students’ and teachers’ ideas are respected and where there is mutual trust. Learning groups are small in Expeditionary Learning schools, with a caring adult looking after the progress and acting as an advocate for each child. Older students mentor younger ones, and students feel physically and emotionally safe.

5. Success and failure
All students need to be successful if they are to build the confidence and capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges. But it is also important for students to learn from their failures, to persevere when things are hard, and to learn to turn disabilities into opportunities.

6. Collaboration and competition
Individual development and group development are integrated so that the value of friendship, trust, and group action is clear. Students are encouraged to compete not against each other but with their own personal best and with rigorous standards of excellence.

7. Diversity and inclusion
Both diversity and inclusion increase the richness of ideas, creative power, problem-solving ability, respect for others. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students investigate value their different histories talents as well as those of other communities cultures. Schools learning groups heterogeneous.

8. The natural world
Direct respectful relationship with the natural world refreshes the human spirit teaches[clarification needed] the important ideas of recurring cycles and cause and effect. Students learn to become stewards of the earth and of future generations.

9. Solitude and reflection
Students and teachers need time alone to explore their own thoughts, make their own connections, and create their own ideas. They also need time to exchange their reflections with others.

10. Service and compassion
We are crew, not passengers. Students and teachers are strengthened by acts of consequential service to others, and one of an Expeditionary Learning school's primary functions is to prepare students with the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service to others."
kurthahn  outwardbound  education  experience  experientialeducation  youth  self-discovery  service  compassion  solitude  reflection  nature  diversity  inclusion  collaboration  competition  success  failure  empathy  caring  responsibility  learning  howwelearn  thinking  criticalthinking  fitness  initiative  motivation  skills  care  projectbasedlearning  inlcusivity  inclusivity  experientiallearning 
september 2015 by robertogreco
The Whole of Work - Features - Source: An OpenNews project
"I shouldn’t have to say this, but here we are: work that is excessive, consuming north of 40 hours a week and without regular holidays, leads to burnout and reduced productivity, not to mention a toll on workers’ mental and physical health. We should build workplaces that encourage healthy work habits because we are not monsters, but also because we benefit from sane work cultures because they achieve better results.

With that out of the way, parental leave, holidays, paid sick time, flexible hours, and remote-friendly environments are all table stakes for a holistic work culture. Holistic technologies rely on the creativity and leadership of all parties involved—so they are especially sensitive to environments that engender fatigue. Too often, work cultures neglect the fact that workers have bodies, forgetting that food, exercise, and rest are design requirements.

In addition to long hours, push notifications arriving 24/7 and expectations that workers are “always on” are similarly dangerous. A lot of recent technology makes connecting with far-off colleagues trivial, but that’s both a boon and a responsibility. Team leaders have to set an example by promoting responsible time off policies and setting expectations that off time is off limits. Likewise, unlimited vacation policies are only a perk if workers make use of them.

Most importantly, the egalitarianism necessary for productive collaboration requires that we work to reduce the effects of structural discrimination—otherwise, not every team member will be able to contribute fully. We don’t—we cannot—live in a meritocracy, so habits and expectations that force workers to prioritize work over life silently privilege the young, healthy, wealthy, and childless. If we’re going to build diverse workplaces—and we’d better—then it’s critical that we support the whole life of every worker, regardless of the circumstances of their birth.

***

There’s one final point I’ll make about holistic technology: it need not be constrained to the work of making products, but can extend to the products themselves. Many of the products most in vogue today—Slack, GitHub, Trello, or any member of the somewhat misnamed category of content management systems—are themselves tools for collaboration. Which means those tools can also aspire to holistic processes, creating environments in which individuals can take control of their work rather than being controlled by it.

Franklin notes that the real danger of prescriptive technologies is that they lend themselves to a culture of compliance: that is, a prescriptive process teaches people that they must do things a certain way, and so instills in them habits of following the rules. She writes:
The acculturation to compliance and conformity has, in turn, accelerated the use of prescriptive technologies in administrative, government, and social services. The same development has diminished resistance to the programming of people. (19)

The programming of people. In other words, prescriptive technologies lend themselves towards systems and structures that treat people as automatons, diminishing both their talents and their humanity. If we want communities of creative people—that is, people who do not merely accept the way things have always been done but try to improve them—then we cannot afford to breed compliance, in either our workplaces or among our users. The Times expose of Amazon also notes, almost as an aside, that the inhumane culture extends all the way down to warehouse workers who are expected to operate under conditions better suited to robots. If we bristle at working under those kinds of conditions ourselves, what excuse have we for imposing them on others? Moreover, what makes us believe that the programming of people will be limited to those on the lower rungs?

We can’t hoard holistic processes for ourselves—we need to also imbue the tools and systems we create with those same principles. That is, we should encourage collaboration and documentation; anticipate needs for both synchronous and asynchronous workflows; create meaningful ways to denote time working and time away; and most importantly we should resist, at all costs, the temptation to build rigid, prescriptive processes that users must slavishly follow.

Holistic technologies represent better ways of working—and living. We should both enthusiastically adopt them and work to ensure they are the norm, not the exception."
mandybrown  work  collaboration  communication  diversity  2015  ursulafranklin  generalists  specialists  labor  technology  burnout  care  caring  productivity  autonomy  competition  documentation  process  transparency 
september 2015 by robertogreco
A Toxic Work World - The New York Times
"FOR many Americans, life has become all competition all the time. Workers across the socioeconomic spectrum, from hotel housekeepers to surgeons, have stories about toiling 12- to 16-hour days (often without overtime pay) and experiencing anxiety attacks and exhaustion. Public health experts have begun talking about stress as an epidemic.

The people who can compete and succeed in this culture are an ever-narrower slice of American society: largely young people who are healthy, and wealthy enough not to have to care for family members. An individual company can of course favor these individuals, as health insurers once did, and then pass them off to other businesses when they become parents or need to tend to their own parents. But this model of winning at all costs reinforces a distinctive American pathology of not making room for caregiving. The result: We hemorrhage talent and hollow out our society.

To begin with, we are losing women. America has unlocked the talent of its women in a way that few nations can match; girls are outpacing boys in high schools, universities and graduate schools and are now entering the work force at higher salaries. But the ranks of those women still thin significantly as they rise toward the top, from more than 50 percent at entry level to 10 to 20 percent in senior management. Far too many discover that what was once a manageable and enjoyable work-family balance can no longer be sustained — regardless of ambition, confidence or even a partner who shares tasks equally.

Every family’s situation is different; some women may be able to handle with ease conditions that don’t work for others. But many women who started out with all the ambition in the world find themselves in a place they never expected to be. They do not choose to leave their jobs; they are shut out by the refusal of their bosses to make it possible for them to fit their family life and their work life together. In her book “Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home,” the sociologist Pamela Stone calls this a “forced choice.” “Denial of requests to work part time, layoffs or relocations,” she writes, will push even the most ambitious woman out of the work force."



"THE problem is with the workplace, or more precisely, with a workplace designed for the “Mad Men” era, for “Leave It to Beaver” families in which one partner does all the work of earning an income and the other partner does all the work of turning that income into care — the care that is indispensable for our children, our sick and disabled, our elderly. Our families and our responsibilities don’t look like that anymore, but our workplaces do not fit the realities of our lives.

Irene Padavic, a Florida State sociologist, Robin J. Ely, a Harvard Business School professor, and Erin Reid from Boston University’s Questrom School of Business were asked to conduct a detailed study of a midsize global consulting firm where top management thought they had a “gender problem.” The firm had a paucity of women at the highest levels — just 10 percent of partners were women, compared with nearly 40 percent of junior associates.

After careful study, Professors Padavic, Ely and Reid found that an equal number of men and women had left the firm in the preceding three years, a simple fact that contradicted management’s women, work and family story. Some of the men also left because of the long hours; others “suffered in silence or otherwise made do.” The firm’s key human resources problem was not gender, as management believed, but rather a culture of overwork."



"EVEN if men and women join forces to demand changes in the workplace, though, we cannot do this alone, as individuals trying to make our lives work and as workers and bosses trying to make room for care. Some other company can always keep prices down by demanding more, burning out its employees and casting them aside when they are done. To be fully competitive as a country, we are going to have to emulate other industrialized countries and build an infrastructure of care. We used to have one; it was called women at home. But with 57 percent of those women in the labor force, that infrastructure has crumbled and it’s not coming back.

To support care just as we support competition, we will need some combination of the following: high-quality and affordable child care and elder care; paid family and medical leave for women and men; a right to request part-time or flexible work; investment in early education comparable to our investment in elementary and secondary education; comprehensive job protection for pregnant workers; higher wages and training for paid caregivers; community support structures to allow elders to live at home longer; and reform of elementary and secondary school schedules to meet the needs of a digital rather than an agricultural economy."



"Change in our individual workplaces and in our broader politics also depends on culture change: fundamental shifts in the way we think, talk and confer prestige. If we really valued care, we would not regard time out for caregiving — for your children, parents, spouse, sibling or any other member of your extended or constructed family — as a black hole on a résumé. We would see it as engaging in a socially, personally and professionally valuable activity. We would see men who lean out for care as role models just as much as women who lean in for work. We would think managing kids matters as much as managing money.

Impossible, right? Yet I grew up in a society where my mother set out little vases of cigarettes on the table at dinner parties, where blacks and whites had to use different bathrooms, and in which almost everyone claimed to be heterosexual. That seems a lifetime ago, but I’m not so old. Our world has changed over the past 50 years, vastly for the better from the point of view of African-Americans, the L.G.B.T. community and families who lost loved ones to lung cancer. Given the magnitude of that change, think about how much we can still do.

We can, all of us, stand up for care. Until we do, men and women will never be equal; not while both are responsible for providing cash but only women are responsible for providing care. And though individual Americans might win out in our current system, America as a whole will never be as competitive as it ought to be. If we do not act, over time our families and communities, the foundation of our flourishing, will wither.

The women’s movement has brought many of us the right to compete on equal terms; it’s time for all of us to claim an equal right to care."
work  stress  2015  anne-marieslaughter  labor  care  caregiving  society  us  agediscrimination  overwork  health  gender  discrimination  poverty  economics  irenepadavic  robinelyerinreid  workplace  competition 
september 2015 by robertogreco
The Thriving World, the Wilting World, and You — Medium
"We are a community branded as leaders living through this revolutionary moment, living through this extreme winning and extreme losing. It falls on us to ask the tough questions about it.

But we here in Aspen are in a bit of a tight spot.

Our deliberations about what to do about this extreme winning and losing are sponsored by the extreme winners. This community was formed by stalwarts of American capitalism; today we sit in spaces named after Pepsi (as in the beverage) and Koch (as in the brothers); our discussion of Martin Luther King and Omelas is sponsored by folks like Accenture, David Rubenstein and someone named Pom; we are deeply enmeshed and invested in the establishment and systems we are supposed to question. And yet we are a community of leaders that claims to seek justice. These identities are tricky to reconcile.

Today I want to challenge how we reconcile them. There is no consensus on anything here, as any seminar participant knows. But I believe that many of our discussions operate within what I will call the “Aspen Consensus,” which, like the “Washington Consensus” or “Beijing Consensus,” describes a nest of shared assumptions within which diverse ideas hatch. The “Aspen Consensus” demarcates what we mostly agree not to question, even as we question so much. And though I call it the Aspen Consensus, it is in many ways the prevailing ethic among the winners of our age worldwide, across business, government and even nonprofits.

The Aspen Consensus, in a nutshell, is this: the winners of our age must be challenged to do more good. But never, ever tell them to do less harm.

The Aspen Consensus holds that capitalism’s rough edges must be sanded and its surplus fruit shared, but the underlying system must never be questioned.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Give back,” which is of course a compassionate and noble thing. But, amid the $20 million second homes and $4,000 parkas of Aspen, it is gauche to observe that giving back is also a Band-Aid that winners stick onto the system that has privileged them, in the conscious or subconscious hope that it will forestall major surgery to that system — surgery that might threaten their privileges.

The Aspen Consensus, I believe, tries to market the idea of generosity as a substitute for the idea of justice. It says: make money in all the usual ways, and then give some back through a foundation, or factor in social impact, or add a second or third bottom line to your analysis, or give a left sock to the poor for every right sock you sell.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Do more good” — not “Do less harm.”

I want to sow the seed of a difficult conversation today about this Aspen Consensus. Because I love this community, and I fear for all of us — myself very much included — that we may not be as virtuous as we think we are, that history may not be as kind to us as we hope it will, that in the final analysis our role in the inequities of our age may not be remembered well.

This may sound strange at first, because the winners of our disruptive age are arguably as concerned about the plight of the losers as any elite in human history. But the question I’m raising is about what the winners propose to do in response. And I believe the winners’ response, certainly not always but still too often, is to soften the blows of the system but to preserve the system at any cost. This response is problematic. It keeps the winners too safe. It allows far too many of us to evade hard questions about our role in contributing to the disease we also seek to treat."



"Now, a significant minority of us here don’t work in business. Yet even in other sectors, we’re living in an age in which the assumptions and values of business are more influential than they ought to be. Our culture has turned businessmen and -women into philosophers, revolutionaries, social activists, saviors of the poor. We are at risk of forgetting other languages of human progress: of morality, of democracy, of solidarity, of decency, of justice.

Sometimes we succumb to the seductive Davos dogma that the business approach is the only thing that can change the world, in the face of so much historical evidence to the contrary.

And so when the winners of our age answer the problem of inequality and injustice, all too often they answer it within the logic and frameworks of business and markets. We talk a lot about giving back, profit-sharing, win-wins, social-impact investing, triple bottom lines (which, by the way, are something my four-month-old son has).

Sometimes I wonder whether these various forms of giving back have become to our era what the papal indulgence was to the Middle Ages: a relatively inexpensive way of getting oneself seemingly on the right of justice, without having to alter the fundamentals of one’s life.

Because when you give back, when you have a side foundation, a side CSR project, a side social-impact fund, you gain an exemption from more rigorous scrutiny. You helped 100 poor kids in the ghetto learn how to code. The indulgence spares you from questions about the larger systems and structures you sustain that benefit you and punish others: weak banking regulations and labor laws, zoning rules that happen to keep the poor far from your neighborhood, porous safety nets, the enduring and unrepaired legacies of slavery and racial supremacy and caste systems.

These systems and structures have victims, and we here are at risk, I think, of confusing generosity toward those victims with justice for those victims. For generosity is a win-win, but justice often is not. The winners of our age don’t enjoy the idea that some of them might actually have to lose, to sacrifice, for justice to be done. In Aspen you don’t hear a lot of ideas involving the privileged and powerful actually being in the wrong, and needing to surrender their status and position for the sake of justice.

We talk a lot here about giving more. We don’t talk about taking less.

We talk a lot here about what we should be doing more of. We don’t talk about what we should be doing less of.

I think sometimes that our Aspen Consensus has an underdeveloped sense of human darkness. There is risk in too much positivity. Sometimes to do right by people, you must begin by naming who is in the wrong.

So let’s just come out and say the thing you’re never supposed to say in Aspen: that many of the winners of our age are active, vigorous contributors to the problems they bravely seek to solve. And for the greater good to prevail on any number of issues, some people will have to lose — to actually do less harm, and not merely more good.

We know that enlightened capital didn’t get rid of the slave trade. Impact investing didn’t abolish child labor and put fire escapes on tenement factories. Drug makers didn’t stop slipping antifreeze into medicine as part of a CSR initiative. In each of these cases, the interests of the many had to defeat the interests of the recalcitrant few.

Look, I know this speech won’t make me popular at the bar tonight. But this, for me, is an act of stepping into the arena — something our wonderful teacher-moderators challenged us to do.

I know many of you agree with me already, because we have bonded for years over a shared feeling that something in this extraordinary community didn’t feel quite right. There are many others who, instead of criticizing as I do, are living rejections of this Aspen Consensus — quitting lucrative lives, risking everything, to fight the system. You awe me: you who battle for gay rights in India, who live ardently among the rural poor in South Africa, who risk assassination or worse to report news of corruption.

I am not speaking to you tonight, and I know there are many of you. I am speaking to those who, like me, may feel caught between the ideals championed by this Institute and the self-protective instinct that is always the reflex of people with much to lose.

I am as guilty as anyone. I am part of the wave of gentrification and displacement in Brooklyn, one of the most rapidly gentrifying places in America. Any success I’ve had can be traced to my excellent choice in parents and their ability to afford incredibly expensive private schools. I like good wine. I use Uber — a lot. I once stole playing cards from a private plane. I want my new son to have everything I can give him, even though I know that this is the beginning of the inequality I loathe.

I often wonder if what I do — writing — is capable of making any difference.

When I entered this fellowship, I was so taken with that summons to make a difference. But, to be honest, I have also always had a complicated relationship to this place.

I have heard too many of us talking of how only after the IPO or the next few million will we feel our kids have security. These inflated notions of what it takes to “make a living” and “support a family” are the beginning of so much neglect of our larger human family.

I walk into too many rooms named for people and companies that don’t mean well for the world, and then in those rooms we talk and talk about making the world better.

I struggled in particular with the project. I couldn’t figure out what bothered me about it for the longest time. I wasn’t very good at coming up with one or getting it done.

And I realized, through conversation with fellows in similar dilemmas, what my problem was. Many people, including some being featured later tonight, are engaged in truly extraordinary and commendable projects. We are at our best when our projects take the system head on. But I wrestled with what I perceived to be the idea behind the project, of creating generous side endeavors rather than fighting to reform, bite by bite, the hands that feed us. I felt the project distracted us from the real question: is your regular life — not your side project — on the right side … [more]
anandgiridharadas  capitalism  change  cooperation  aspeninstitute  philanthropy  climatechange  inequality  virtue  competition  inequity  elitism  power  systemschange  privilege  finance  wealth  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  wealthdistribution  davos  riggedgames  goldmansachs  indulgence  handwashing  via:tealtan  risk  stackeddecks  labor  employment  disruption  work  civics  commongood  abstraction  business  corporatism  corporations  taxes  government  socialgood  virtualization  economics  politics  policy  speculation  democracy  solidarity  socialjustice  neoliberalism  well-being  decency  egalitarianism  community  indulgences  noblesseoblige  absolution  racism  castes  leadership  generosity  sacrifice  gambling  gender  race  sexism  emotionallabor  positivity  slavery  socialsafetnet  winwin  zerosum  gentrification  stewardship  paradigmshifts  charitableindustrialcomplex  control 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Jennifer Armbrust | Proposals for the Feminine Economy | CreativeMornings/PDX
"“The experimental feminine is all that is not business as usual and vice versa.” — Joan Retallack

What does it look like to embody feminine principles in business? In art? Why does it matter—what’s at stake? What does gender have to do with business? What does business have to do with art? What does capitalism have to do with nature? And what is an economy, anyhow? Can a business be feminist? Why would it want to? Where is money in all of this? Armbrust’s Creative Mornings talk posits a protocol for prototyping an experimental/feminine business."

[Direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7kI7Bsa56g ]
jennarmbrust  via:nicolefenton  2015  capitalism  feminism  masculinity  consciouscapitalism  power  egalitarianism  growth  art  design  criticaltheory  entrepreneurship  business  economics  competition  inequality  ownership  consumerism  consumption  labor  work  efficiency  speed  meritocracy  profit  individualism  scarcity  abundance  poverty  materialism  care  caring  interdependence  vulnerability  embodiment  ease  generosity  collaboration  sustainability  resourcefulness  mindfulness  self-care  gratitude  integrity  honesty  nature  joanretallack  well-being 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Sights Unseen: On Willful Blindness to Education’s Higher Purpose | EdConteXts
"As an educator, parent, and citizen, I fear that we as a society or even collection of societies put ourselves at risk if we fail to question and put a halt to this instrumentalist type of reasoning with regards to education. The rhetoric of brutal global competition is eroding our capacity to focus on asking what truly matters in providing our children and grandchildren with what they will need for their futures besides jobs and income. In all of our lip service to “21st Century Skills” we still pay more homage to the holy grail of what our offspring may earn rather than to how well equipped they will be to avert environmental, financial and/or social disaster by adopting and practicing those skills. We say that we want them to be critical thinkers and adept problem solvers while assuming, consciously or not, that their greatest challenge will likely be finding a job that pays well enough to free them from thousands of dollars of crushing student debt. “To get a good job” would appear to be our society’s best answer to the question “why school?” if we ever dared to pose it."



"I agree. Our schools need a higher purpose than merely feeding the global economic machine. Without questioning the prevailing ethos of competition, of celebrating winners while blaming the losers, our schools will not improve. Our schools will not become nourishing places for children until our societies decide that children are more than future members of the workforce. Our societies will not prosper unless we educate our children to understand and appreciate that nations constitute much more than their gross domestic product.

Author Peter Block captures best what I would wish for in reinventing education systems which nurture and sustain us as a society rather than squeeze us for a designated output. Speaking about the ways in which our thinking in terms of the exclusively practical and doable ( the how?) tends to hamper our willingness to engage on questions of larger purpose and general well-being, he writes:
Whatever our destination, it is letting go of the practical imperative that is most likely to guide us to a larger sense of where we want to go and what values we want to embody in getting there. What matters is the experience of being human and all that this entails. What will matter most to us, upon deeper reflection, is the quality of the experience we create in the world, not the quantity.

(bold: Block’s) Peter Block, The Answer to How is Yes. Berret-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, 2002, p. 37.)

As members of results-driven societies, we appreciate the certitude that quantification appears to provide. As humans, however, we search doggedly for precisely those qualities of life which defy objective measurement: meaning, belonging, purpose, autonomy, happiness, to name a few possibilities. That our education systems strive to become more human rather than less rings true both as my deepest wish and our mounting challenge."
sherrispelic  education  competition  purpose  2015  capitalism  neoliberalism  humanity  humanism  inequality  danhaesler  testing  standardizedtesting  rankings  dianeravitch  loisweiner  wendybrown  hansrollman  peterblock  deschooling  unschooling  schools 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Why Are Palo Alto’s Kids Killing Themselves? — Amazing humankind — Medium
"Saal, the psychiatrist, believes that many students at his daughter’s school are showing signs of acute stress disorder, a non-pathological response to trauma that is more immediate and more transient than PTSD. Even a single incident of stress, Saal says, can induce “a collection of overpowering recall.” While most people are capable of coping at that level, a cascade of trauma like that experienced by Palo Alto’s teens can produce more radical responses."



"Most people, in fact, were anxious to share, in great detail, what they’ve endured since the first Gunn student took his life back in May 2009.

This was particularly true of the teens, who volunteered acute insights about their town, their school, and the contradictions of a culture that demands personal excellence but withholds emotional support. They railed against their superintendent’s denials of responsibility; against the so-called Palo Alto mask that blocks reality in the name of perfection; against school officials’ lip service to bold change. “They just check boxes, put counselors in place so that it will look good, not thinking about how to do it in a way that really helps kids,” says Lauren Saal. Other students are eager to defend the school and knock what they perceive as victim-blaming. They decry attempts to fit all the suicides, as senior Anna Barbier says, “neatly under one umbrella.” “Fake” is the word used by two seniors to describe Gunn’s culture, which they fault for breeding intense competition while claiming to foster unity. But other students are frank about their own complicity in the noxious, cutthroat environment. “My dad always describes how when he was growing up, it was students against the system,” Anna says. “This is students against students.”"



"While they’re relentlessly pushed to chase higher grades and greater commendations, students say, they are simultaneously pressured to maintain an air of confidence and composure. Gaby Candes, a Gunn sophomore whose parents are both Stanford professors, refers to the condition as “Stanford duck syndrome”: “Everybody puts on a front of being super-relaxed and perfect, but under the surface they’re kicking furiously,” she says. “When all you see is calm ducks, you think that you are the only one who’s not perfect.” The attitude even bleeds into class activities that are intended to ameliorate stress. “We’re always doing exercises where they say, ‘We all have problems, and other people have problems just like you,’” says junior Hayley Krolik. “But nobody really believes it. This isn’t really an environment where people talk about being less than perfect.”

With everyone paddling desperately (but stealthily) in pursuit of distinction, pulling out in front becomes nearly impossible. “Everyone wants to be the one to stand out, because it’s really hard to stand out here,” says Hayley. Consequently, anything that gets you noticed — being gay, being Jewish, even being inordinately sad — garners social capital at Gunn. Depression is effectively “glorified,” a senior says, because it attracts attention."



"This push-pull is a bite-size encapsulation of the skirmishes currently consuming all of Palo Alto. There aren’t enough fingers in Silicon Valley to point at all the people, norms, and institutions that may or may not be responsible. “The parents blame the schools. The schools blame the parents. And when they are together, they blame the universities,” says Marin psychologist Madeline Levine, author of a bestselling book about the afflictions of affluent youth, The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids. Communities like Palo Alto, she says, may tout their Hallmark-ready battle cry of “We’re all in this together,” but all too often, there is little coming together on anything. “Where are the parents?” Levine rants. “How do they tolerate four hours of homework? Since when are kids making multiple trips to the ER? It starts to be a mass delusion. That’s what this feels like to me. What’s that book where all the girls become hysterical — The Crucible? That is what this feels like to me.”"



"The problem is that Palo Alto, in my experience, is a community with something of a tin ear, many denizens seemingly hearing only what confirms their preexisting worldview. Some of that tone deafness is understandable, given the complexity of the issues besetting the town. But some of it may be due to a general muzzling of suicide-related speech. The backstories of many of the 2009–10 suicides have long been shrouded in secrecy, leaving kids and parents speculating and rumormongering. The Stanford Psychiatry Department embarked on a “psychological autopsy” of the cluster, but no report was ever publicly released. In any case, Blanchard is dismissive of the study’s value: “There are many more [teens] who are not doing well,” she says. “Researching only kids who have passed away — its usefulness is so limited.”

Often it seems as if that de facto gag order from 2009 is still in effect. Even the kids speak in euphemisms, as if they’ve signed some town pact: During a “Listening to Youth Voices” panel in March, they referred to the suicides as “the recent events.” Some experts object to this use of abstruse terminology, which they believe reflects a damaging community-wide repression. “This is exactly the time to call it suicide and nothing else,” says Levine. “It couldn’t be clearer that there’s a crisis around kids being able to manage their feelings.”"



"For a moment, the Gunn turned Palo Alto problem became an Asian problem. But chestnut-haired Paly junior Carolyn Walworth, her school’s student rep on the district board, quickly forestalled any temptation to render the suicides an ethnic issue. On Palo Alto Weekly’s website, she posted a chilling diatribe titled “The Sorrows of Young Palo Altons” [http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2015/03/25/guest-opinion-the-sorrows-of-young-palo-altans ] in which she lamented the entire student body’s response to the crisis. “We are lifeless bodies in a system that breeds competition, hatred, and discourages genuine learning,” she wrote. “We lack sincere passion. We are sick….”

The self-criticism in the treatise was, in Levine’s view, a healthy step forward. She says that she fears for this generation of kids, “who don’t come out and say ‘Screw you.’ Where’s the rebellion? These kids have no sense that they could change something.” But more and more, students are stepping up to challenge the status quo. Carolyn and Martha have both done so. And, quite eloquently, so has Gunn senior Jessica Luo, who, in a letter to her ninth-grade self written for a youth forum, admonishes the younger Jessica: “The ‘culture’ and the ‘system’ are not some monster looming above Gunn and issuing commands. The ‘system’ is made up of your actions and the actions of people around you.”

“Something’s only going to change,” concurs Gunn junior Hayley Krolik, “if 75 percent of us start saying to people around us, ‘Oh, you got the A, but did you enjoy the project?’ And frowning on people who just do things because it will get them someplace.”

Jessica sees the magnitude of the problem facing her peers — and advocates for a wholesale revision of the student-school compact. “We aim our arrows at false targets,” she writes. “We shoot at AP classes while the real enemy lurks in an unspoken assumption: that people who take the harder classes are better. That’s because it’s easier to think of culture as a tumor that can be attacked, to throw policy changes like block schedules and homework restrictions at the tumor in hopes of shrinking it. But the tumor just comes back — because the disease is somewhere else.”

Jessica implores her younger self to stop, to think, and — as Kathleen Blanchard advises in the wake of her own son’s suicide — to listen deeply. “Notice the air you breathe,” she writes. “Notice the people you’re helping or harming. Know your enemy — know that it does not live in the problems that look clear-cut. It lives in the shady assumptions beneath.”"
culture  education  paloalto  highschool  suicide  pressure  depression  stress  2015  teaching  homework  learning  carolynwalworth  competition  rebellion  howwelearn  siliconvalley  society  madelyngould  laurensaal  madelinelevine  suicideclusters  marthacabot  dianakapp  gunnhoghschool 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Buzz Andersen — This—Bob was saying—was the straightforward...
“This—Bob was saying—was the straightforward solution to the greatest mystery of all: Why is the world so unfair? Why all that savage economic injustice, those brutal wars, the everyday corporate cruelty? The answer: psychopaths. That part of the brain that doesn’t function right. You’re standing on an escalator and you watch the people going past on the opposite escalator. If you could climb inside their brains, you would see we aren’t all the same. We aren’t all good people just trying to do good. Some of us are psychopaths. And psychopaths are to blame for this brutal, misshapen society. They’re the jagged rocks thrown into the still pond.”

[…]

“Sociopaths love power. They love winning. If you take loving kindness out of the human brain, there’s not much left except the will to win.”

“Which means you’ll find a preponderance of them at the top of the tree?” I said.

“Yes,” she said. “The higher you go up the ladder, the greater the number of sociopaths you’ll find there.” “So the wars, the injustices, the exploitation, all of these things occur because of that tiny percent of the population up there who are mad in this certain way?” I asked…“I think a lot of these things are initiated by them,” she said. “It is a frightening and huge thought,” I said, “that the ninety-nine percent of us wandering around down here are having our lives pushed and pulled around by that psychopathic fraction up there.”

—Jon Ronson: The Psychopath Test
sopciopaths  psychopaths  competition  kindness  humans  jonronson  injustice  exploitation  power  control  cruelty  behavior 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Education Needs a Collaboration (Non-Competitive) Pact | the becoming radical
"“The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” —Huxley, Aldous. The Olive Tree. 1936.

While watching a documentary on schools recently, I felt that same uncomfortable feeling I do whenever I watch or read about this or that school “excelling”—notably the principal, but teachers as well, expressing how they have something different that is driving the school’s success.

Of course that claim caries the implication that other schools, teachers, and students are not doing that something different (hint: trying hard enough, demanding enough).

In this particular documentary, that something different included publicly identifying, labeling, and displaying students by test scores.

And while I have a great deal of compassion and collegial support for educators fighting the standardized testing craze corrupting U.S. public education, I feel compelled to note that many of those same educators turn right around and practice the same sort of tyranny with students—or quickly wave the testing data flag when their school seems to look good (although these claims of “miracles” are almost always mirages).

So here is a test we should all take.

Check all that apply: As a teacher or administrator in a school, do you …

[ ] use test scores to rank, compare, motivate, and/or shame students into working “harder”?

[ ] use test scores to rank, compare, motivate, and/or shame teachers within a department, grade level, or school into working “harder”?

[ ] use test scores to brag about your department, grade level, or school to parents or the media?

If any of these are checked, you have a decision: either stop complaining about high-stakes uses of test scores or stop doing all of the above.

If test scores are a flawed way to evaluate teachers and schools, they are a flawed way to evaluate teachers, schools, and students—and even when they work in your favor.

Thus, I recommend the latter choice above because education needs a collaboration (non-competitive) pact if we are to save the soul of our profession."
plthomas  2015  collaboration  competition  education  excellence  elitism  schools  publiceducation  standardizedtesting  high-stakestesting  non-competetitive  comparison  motivation  shaming  ranking  rankings  teaching  howweteach  evaluation  assessment  aldoushuxley  paulthomas 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Leon Botstein for Democracy Journal: Are We Still Making Citizens?
[via: http://willrichardson.com/post/115896934920/on-secret-keeping-and-forgetting ]

"Democracy requires a commitment to the public good. But for a long time now, our citizens have been taught to see themselves as only private actors."



"What the European émigrés discovered was a reality that partially resembled these principles. They saw from the outside, as it were, how vital the connection is between how we structure our schools and our capacity to maintain a functioning pluralist democracy. John Dewey, America’s greatest thinker on education since Mann, guided the ideology of public education. For Dewey, the justification for the proper pedagogy was not primarily political; his conception of teaching and learning derived largely from an epistemological conceit within Pragmatism. But for the European émigrés, the contrast between the school systems from which they came and the school system in the country in which they arrived—the virtue and attraction of American educational practice—was significant in terms of its political consequences.

In those years, the defining factor in the American system was the idea of a single, unitary public school system in which everybody enrolled. All citizens went to the same sort of schools through to the end of secondary school. Private schools were an elite phenomenon and relatively insignificant. Most European public systems, by contrast, were intentionally segregated by ability, creating distinct groups beginning at age 11. The state, using examinations, divided the school population into varying categories, each of which maintained a different track. The majority of citizens never completed school beyond elementary school. Some percentage went on to vocational schooling. A very small segment of the population went, as adolescents, either to a humanistic academic high school (Gymnasium) or to a less prestigious practical and science-oriented high school (Realschule) and received a secondary-school diploma. A Matura or Abitur, the diploma from these two types of secondary schools, permitted an elite student to enroll in the university.

Consequently, the unitary public school system that kept all children together until college and that built citizens of character, devoted to democratic values, was viewed by the émigré generation as a marvel. American education appeared to fit the idea that the nation and democracy were tied to a homogeneity of rights, and that diverse constituencies could not only obtain equal legal status but through education achieve the means to realize it in economic and social terms. Citizenship via a nominally nondiscriminatory and standard process accessible to all irrespective of birth, religion, ethnicity, or even language was unheard of in Europe, but it—and the concrete advantages education added—seemed possible in America.

Higher education was no less eye-opening. Undergraduates delayed specialization and studied more than one subject. They were, from the start, asked to do far more writing that called for the expression of their own arguments and judgments. What was equally shocking to a European was the way in which the American university system seemed immensely flexible and open to new ideas. There was not a rigid hierarchy with one professor running each “faculty.” Young scholars did not have to wait for their elders to retire or die. The university was able to create new fields and new positions. Not only was there less hierarchy and formality, but in graduate education there was even less deference to authority than in the public school system. The dissenter, rebel, and ambitious entrepreneur were prized more than in Europe. In terms of graduate education and academic career advancement, American university practice still stands in contrast to that of Europe.

That was the good news. The bad news was that the academic standards by which the American common school system operated seemed horrifically low. The price paid by the democratic culture of the American school system, the émigré observers concluded, was the low level of shared culture achieved at the end of secondary public education. Freshmen could not read or write properly, and they possessed little understanding of literature, art, philosophy, or history. The thinly veiled (at best) snobbery of the mid-century émigré scholars simply exploded when their members (such as Werner Jaeger, Leo Strauss, and Kurt Wolff) came to teach American college students."



"I distrust private languages and the tendency to rely on one’s personal narrative as the basis for talking about politics and, in particular, education, understood as a political good. The personal narrative is always contingent on those outside of it. What a child has to learn in school is not only to formulate a personal narrative but also to set it aside; children need to listen, to observe others, and thereby to distinguish their personal narrative from those of others as each individual constructs a role as a citizen. However, the two imperatives—personal growth and citizenship—don’t appear naturally to overlap. A child needs to learn things that allow him or her to function in a democratic context, to learn to consciously ignore personal self-interest and contemplate the public good. What a common public school ought to teach, therefore, is the capacity for disagreement, contest, and compromise. But if I think public goods are irrelevant, that we can do without government, I automatically subscribe to a kind of illusion of individualism against which criticism is hard, since the point of having a discussion or debate—the creation of the public space of a shared participatory politics—is rejected."



"The project of public education is fundamental to the notion of public goods in America. The restoration of public education seems a precondition for making the public sphere operate properly. Education must be about something more than personal happiness and benefit, economically defined; it has to map out the idea that there is more to the public good than the belief that through some free-market-style calculus of aggregate self-interests, the greatest good for the greatest number will emerge. In other words, public education is about educating the future citizen to consider a common ground in politics that can and will secure a more rewarding notion of personal security and tranquility for all.

But in the context of today’s disenchantment with the public sphere, what can a school-trained citizen do? Merely compete in the marketplace? Work for Google? What actually defines the public sphere today is not the government and Congress, but Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Conspiracy theorists when I was young pointed to the presence of socialists and communists who were said to undermine our system of values. Fear seemed reasonable in the Cold War and under the threat of nuclear war. The line between fear and paranoia was thin indeed. Fear was plausible.

But the people who frighten me and undermine the public sphere today are not terrorists and ideologues interested in overthrowing the government; they are not even those who work for the U.S. government within the NSA or the CIA. Rather, I’m afraid of the very large corporate giants that control our access to information, regulate our private lives by providing social networks—a platform for deceptive intimacy—and monitor every move we make in life and preserve a record of every message, thereby rendering secret-keeping and forgetting—two essential human experiences—impossible."



"So where does this bring us with regard to education? As a practitioner of education, I still hold to the idea that the most difficult and yet most vital thing to do is to construct and sustain a language of public conversation. And that language of public conversation will inevitably be different from our several private languages. We cannot expect it to be the same. The conversation on matters that affect us all has to take place in real space and time. School is one source of that essential opportunity.

One of the depressing aspects of our politics today is the extent to which our candidates think it is enough to be a personality and to rely on a private language in order to get elected. We are more interested in the personalities of our politicians, as if they were our neighbors or private friends, than we are in what they think. Today’s politicians cannot speak a comprehensible language of ideas in public conversation about public goods, the matters at stake in politics. We have lost the taste for a sustained debate about ideas.

To confront this lack of public discourse based on ideas—ideas bolstered by claims and evidence subject to open scrutiny—public education needs to work. It needs to create a community of very diverse citizens who are able to occupy a public space in which they can negotiate matters of shared concern, from foreign affairs to domestic policy, using a shared language. The Internet does not offer such a platform, nor does the virtual space or Facebook or any other social media.

I therefore think that we need to redouble the defense of a single system of public education to which our citizens have free access. We need to resist the privatization of schooling. That does not mean that every school should look alike. But since we will continue to be (I hope) an immigrant nation, we will have to champion a public school system if we are to reconcile increasing differences, inequalities of wealth, and class distinctions into a functioning, dynamic democracy made up of citizens.

I share the émigré generation’s quite romantic optimism for the potential of a democratic school system, one marked by excellence and equity. I think such a system is worth fighting for. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic. There is evidence that we can improve schools. A welcome first step would be to instill in the best of our current college students and future … [more]
leonbostein  democracy  publicschools  civics  citizenship  2015  individualism  collectivism  publicgood  education  society  us  privatization  government  disagreement  debate  participation  capitalism  hannaharendt  hansweil  christianmackauer  progressive  progressivism  freedom  interdependence  independence  politics  learning  johndewey  egalitarianism  americandream  equality  inequality  generalists  specialization  hierarchy  informality  formality  horizontality  standards  standardization  competition  universities  colleges  highered  highereducation  criticalthinking  accessibility  europe  history  leostrauss  kurtwolff  wernerjaeger  jacobklein  robertmaynardhutchins  stringfellowbarr  heinrichblücher  elitism  privateschools  content  process  methodology  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  purpose  sputnik  truth  canon  discourse  isolation  technology  internet  schooling  schooliness  science  wikipedia  communication  language  eliascanetti  teaching  information  research 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Defies Measurement on Vimeo
"DEFIES MEASUREMENT strengthens the discussion about public education by exploring why it is so important to address the social and emotional needs of every student, and what happens when the wrong people make decisions for schools.

For information on how to screen this film for others and for resources to learn more and take action, visit defiesmeasurement.com

By downloading this film, you are agreeing to the 3 terms listed below:

1) I will only use portions of Defies Measurement or the whole film for educational purposes and I will NOT edit or change the film in any way. (Educational purposes = viewing a portion or complete version of the film for an individual, private or public event, free of charge or as a fundraiser)

2) I will post a photo or comment about the film and/or screening on the Defies Measurement Facebook page

3) I will spread the word about the film to others via social media and word of mouth. Follow us @defymeasurement #defiesmeasurement"

[See also:
https://www.shineonpro.com/
https://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/115791029088/defies-measurement-via-will-richardsondefies ]
testing  standardizedtesting  nclb  rttt  schools  education  middleschool  chipmanmiddleschool  lindadarling-hammond  alfiekohn  martinmalström  socialemotionallearning  poverty  iq  assessment  policy  howweteach  howelearn  learning  competition  politics  arneduncan  jebbush  measurement  quantification  inequality  finland  us  edreform  tcsnmy  community  experientiallearning  communitycircles  morningmeetings  documentary  film  terrielkin  engagement  meaningmaking  howwelearn  teaching  sylviakahn  regret  sellingout  georgewbush  susankovalik  lauriemclachlan-fry  joanduvall-flynn  government  howardgardner  economics  anthonycody  privatization  lobbying  gatesfoundation  marknaison  billgates  davidkirp  broadfoundation  charitableindustrialcomplex  commoncore  waltonfamily  teachforamerica  tfa  mercedesschneider  dianeravitch  davidberliner  publischools  anationatrisk  joelklein  condoleezzarice  tonywagner  business  markets  freemarket  neworleans  jasonfrance  naomiklein  shockdoctrine  karranharper-royal  julianvasquezheilig  sarahstickle  ronjohnson  alanskoskopf  soci 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Warren Ellis Esquire Essay - Warren Ellis Technology Column
"Regardless of what you think of Uber and its corporate behavior, the lesson should not go unlearned: If you build your business on top of someone else's system, eventually they're going to notice. Just last week, the livestreaming app Meerkat, which uses Twitter to transmit, felt a cold breeze pass through the room when Twitter bought the competing system Periscope, which will doubtless be baked into Twitter as soon as possible. Digital businesses can murder and haunt their own parasites.

In the midst of all this? Rich, crazy Elon Musk, who intends to put large and efficient electric batteries into people's homes. Which may not be one of his weird side projects, like Hyperloop, especially since Apple is hiring his car-makers away, and their car sales and shipments are under the projected numbers. And because it fits right in with the "disruption" thing. You know Musk has a solar panel company, right? This seems quite clever: SolarCity will let you lease their panels, or you can take out a 30-year loan with them. SolarCity doesn't charge you for installing or maintaining the system, and you pay SolarCity for the power the system generates, thereby paying off the loan. Electricity as a mortgage. Now, combine that with a rechargeable fuel cell in your home that could probably power your house for at least a week all on its own. Welcome to Basic Utilities Disruption.

Have you been reading this and thinking, Hmm, I'm not very interested in technology and disruption and ghosts and whatever else the hell you're talking about? Well, I bet you're interested in a future where it remains cost-effective for your local electricity substations to be maintained even after a critical number of homes in your area have gone off the grid, or, in the extreme open-market scenario, if it remains cost-effective to even supply electricity to your town at all. And what unforeseeable haunting might happen in the chilly aftermath...

We only sleep at night because Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Elon Musk don't want our businesses. Yet.

Facebook and Google fighting with balloons and drones to bring internet to Africa. Apple making Big Phones. Android NFC wallets versus Apple Pay. iCloud and Amazon Storage. You know what'll happen once these self-driving consumer-facing services go online? They'll be doing same-day purchase deliveries, going head-to-head with Amazon in cities, a fuller and faster version of Google's piloted Shopping Express. Jeff Bezos owns a rocket development firm, by the way, so maybe go carefully with that. Oh, and Apple apparently want into enterprise support business, which will put them against Amazon, where all the enterprise data is stored, and, of course, sleepy, old Microsoft.

Keep breathing. Stay warm. Things are going to get weirder yet."
warrenellis  2015  elonmusk  tesla  energy  publicutilities  utilities  solar  apple  google  microsoft  amazon  facebook  uber  technology  capitalism  competition  electricity  batteries  cars  self-drivingcars  solarcity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
[Easy Chair] | Abolish High School, by Rebecca Solnit | Harper's Magazine
[<strike>placeholder as reminder to track down this article</strike> Update: Got to read this article thanks to Selin.]

"I skipped my last year of traditional junior high school, detouring for ninth and tenth grade into a newly created alternative junior high. (The existing alternative high school only took eleventh and twelfth graders.) The district used this new school as a dumping ground for its most insubordinate kids, so I shared two adjoin- ing classrooms with hard-partying teenage girls who dated adult drug dealers, boys who reeked of pot smoke, and other misfits like me. The wild kids impressed me because, unlike the timorous high achievers I’d often been grouped with at the mainstream school, they seemed fearless and free, skeptical about the systems around them.

There were only a few dozen students, and the adults treated us like colleagues. There was friendship and mild scorn but little cruelty, nothing that pitted us against one another or humiliated us, no violence, no clearly inculcated hierarchy. I didn’t gain much conventional knowledge, but I read voraciously and had good conversations. You can learn a lot that way. Besides, I hadn’t been gaining much in regular school either.

I was ravenous to learn. I’d waited for years for a proper chance at it, and the high school in my town didn’t seem like a place where I was going to get it. I passed the G.E.D. test at fifteen, started community college the following fall, and transferred after two semesters to a four-year college, where I began, at last, to get an education commensurate with my appetite.

What was it, I sometimes wonder, that I was supposed to have learned in the years of high school that I avoided? High school is often considered a definitive American experience, in two senses: an experience that nearly everyone shares, and one that can define who you are, for better or worse, for the rest of your life. I’m grateful I escaped the particular definition that high school would have imposed on me, and I wish everyone else who suffered could have escaped it, too.

For a long time I’ve thought that high school should be abolished. I don’t mean that people in their teens should not be educated at public expense. The question is what they are educated in. An abolitionist proposal should begin by acknowledging all the excellent schools and teachers and educations out there; the people who have a pleasant, useful time in high school; and the changes being wrought in the nature of secondary education today. It should also recognize the tremendous variety of schools, including charter and magnet schools in the public system and the private schools—religious, single-sex, military, and prep—that about 10 percent of American students attend, in which the values and pedagogical systems may be radically different. But despite the caveats and anomalies, the good schools and the students who thrive (or at least survive), high school is hell for too many Americans. If this is so, I wonder why people should be automatically consigned to it."



"…As Catherine A. Lugg, an education scholar specializing in public school issues, later wrote, “The Nabozny case clearly illustrates the public school’s historic power as the enforcer of expected norms regarding gender, heteronormativity,
and homophobia.”

I once heard Helena Norberg-Hodge, an economic analyst and linguist who studies the impact of globalization on nonindustrialized societies, say that generational segregation was one of the worst kinds of segregation in the United States. The remark made a lasting impression: that segregation was what I escaped all those years ago. My first friends were much older than I was, and then a little older; these days they are all ages. We think it’s natural to sort children into single-year age cohorts and then process them like Fords on an assembly line, but that may be a reflection of the industrialization that long ago sent parents to work away from their children for several hours every day.

Since the 1970s, Norberg-Hodge has been visiting the northern Indian region of Ladakh. When she first arrived such age segregation was un- known there. “Now children are split into different age groups at school,” Norberg-Hodge has written. “This sort of leveling has a very destructive effect. By artificially creating social units in which everyone is the same age, the ability of children to help and to learn from each other is greatly reduced.” Such units automatically create the conditions for competition, pressuring children to be as good as their peers. “In a group of ten children of quite different ages,” Norberg-Hodge argues, “there will naturally be much more cooperation than in a group of ten twelve-year-olds.”

When you are a teenager, your peers judge you by exacting and narrow criteria. But those going through the same life experiences at the same time often have little to teach one another about life. Most of us are safer in our youth in mixed-age groups, and the more time we spend outside our age cohort, the broader our sense of self. It’s not just that adults and children are good for adolescents. The reverse is also true. The freshness, inquisitiveness, and fierce idealism of a wide-awake teenager can be exhilarating, just as the stony apathy of a shut-down teenager can be dismal.

A teenager can act very differently outside his or her peer group than inside it. A large majority of hate crimes and gang rapes are committed by groups of boys and young men, and studies suggest that the perpetrators are more concerned with impressing one another and conforming to their group’s codes than with actual hatred toward outsiders. Attempts to address this issue usually focus on changing the social values to which such groups adhere, but dispersing or diluting these groups seems worth consideration, too.

High school in America is too often a place where one learns to conform or take punishment—and conformity is itself a kind of punishment, one that can flatten out your soul or estrange you from it."



"Abolishing high school could mean many things. It could mean compressing the time teenagers have to sort out their hierarchies and pillory outsiders, by turning schools into minimalist places in which people only study and learn. All the elaborate rites of dances and games could take place under other auspices. (Many Europeans and Asians I’ve spoken to went to classes each day and then left school to do other things with other people, forgoing the elaborate excess of extracurricular activities that is found at American schools.) It could mean schools in which age segregation is not so strict, where a twelve-year-old might mentor a seven-year-old and be mentored by a seventeen-year-old; schools in which internships, apprenticeships, and other programs would let older students transition into the adult world before senior year. (Again, there are plenty of precedents from around the world.)

Or it could mean something yet unimagined. I’ve learned from doctors that you don’t have to have a cure before you make a diagnosis. Talk of abolishing high school is just my way of wondering whether so many teen- agers have to suffer so much. How much of that suffering is built into a system that is, however ubiquitous, not inevitable? “Every time I drive past a high school, I can feel the oppression. I can feel all those trapped souls who just want to be outside,” a woman recalling her own experience wrote to me recently. “I always say aloud, ‘You poor souls.’”"
rebeccasolnit  2015  highschool  education  society  toread  adolescence  psychology  behavior  bullying  agesegregation  sexuality  extracurriculars  sports  competition  schooliness  schools  us  helenanorberg-hodge  conformity  apprenticeships  alternative  horizontality  hierarchy  catherlinelugg  homophobia  heteronormativity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Right to Control One's Learning - The Natural Child Project
"Young people should have the right to control and direct their own learning; that is, to decide what they want to learn, and when, where, how, how much, how fast, and with what help they want to learn it. To be still more specific, I want them to have the right to decide if, when, how much, and by whom they want to be taught and the right to decide whether they want to learn in a school and if so which one and for how much of the time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What corrupts the school, and makes it so much worse than most of the people in it, or than they would like it to be, is its power - just as their powerlessness corrupts the students. The school is corrupted by the… [more]
1974  johnholt  education  children  schools  schooling  society  control  power  unschooling  deschooling  anxiety  competition  hierarchy  ranking  democracy  authoritatianism  parenting  via:willrichardson 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Beyond Measure Film
"Every day we hear stories about the troubles in American education: our test scores are stagnant, we’re falling behind our international peers, and our schools are failing to prepare future generations to succeed in the 21st century. For the last decade, this story – and the fear it inspires – has shaped the way we talk about our education system and informed our national education policies.

More pressure. More assessments. More of the same.

But what if the efforts we’ve been pushing so hard in our schools are actually the things that are leaving our education system worse off? What if the initiatives that narrow, standardize and pressure our school environments, are the reasons our children are less engaged in school and less prepared to be thoughtful, capable, contributing adults?

In Beyond Measure, we set out to challenge the assumptions of our current education story.

Rather than ask why our students fail to measure up, this film asks us to reconsider the greater purpose of education. What if our education system valued personal growth over test scores? Put inquiry over mimicry. Encouraged passion over rankings? What if we decided that the purpose of school was not the transmission of facts or formulas, but the transformation of every student? And what if this paradigm-shift was driven by students, parents, and educators, not by politicians and policymakers?

In Beyond Measure, we went in search of those answers and found a revolution brewing in public schools across the country. From rural Kentucky to New York City, we share the stories of schools that are breaking away from our outmoded, test-driven education culture and pioneering a new vision for our classrooms. These are schools that are asking our students to invent, to make, to think beyond their school walls, and to imagine how they can effect change in the world. These are schools that are transforming the roles of students and teachers and putting more faith in the ingenuity of our children. These are schools that see critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity as the bedrock of a good education and the key to success after graduation. And these are schools that are dramatically improving outcomes for children of all backgrounds; schools where practically every student graduates and goes on to finish college.

Beyond Measure fills a void that too many other education stories have left empty – a positive picture of what’s innovative and possible in American education when communities decide they are ready for change."

[see also: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/890507170/beyond-measure ]

[and: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/beyond-measure-revolution-starts-now-mark-phillips ]
education  change  learning  schools  2015  film  documentary  beyondmeasure  racetonowhere  vickiabeles  hightechhigh  howweteach  kenrobinson  danielpink  lindadarling-hammond  alisongopnik  yongzhao  caroldweck  children  competition  unschooling  deschooling 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Jen Delos Reyes | Rethinking Arts Education | CreativeMornings/PDX
[video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXWB7A1_zWA ]

"On the complex terrain of arts education today and expanded ways of valuing knowledge.

What should an arts education look like today? Can education change the role of artists and designers in society? How does teaching change when it is done with compassion? How does one navigate and resist the often emotionally toxic world of academia? With the rising cost of education what can we do differently?

Bibliography:

Streetwork: The Exploding School by Anthony Fyson and Colin Ward

Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks

Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope by bell hooks

Education Automation: Comprehensive Learning for Emergent Humanity by Buckminster Fuller

Talking Schools by Colin Ward

Learning By Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit by Sister Corita Kent and Jan Steward

The Open Class Room by Herbert Kohl

Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich

Why Art Can’t Be Taught by James Elkins

Education and Experience by John Dewey

Freedom and Beyond by John Holt

Notes for An Art School edited by Manifesta 6

Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community by Martin Duberman

Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner

We Make the Road By Walking by Myles Horton and Paulo Friere

Education for Socially Engaged Art by Pablo Helguera

Rasberry: How to Start Your Own School and Make a Book by Sally Rasberry and Robert Greenway

This Book is About Schools edited by Satu Repo

Art School: (Propositions for the 21st Century) edited by Steven Henry Madoff"
via:nicolefenton  jendelosreyes  2014  art  arteducation  education  booklists  bibliographies  anthonyfyson  colinward  bellhooks  buckminsterfuller  sistercorita  coritakent  jansteward  herbertkohl  ivanillich  jameselkins  johndewey  johnholt  manifesta6  martinduberman  blackmountaincollege  bmc  unschooling  deschooling  informal  learning  howwelearn  diy  riotgirl  neilpostman  charlesweingartner  paulofriere  pablohelguera  sallyraspberry  robertgreenway  saturepo  stevenhenrymadoff  lcproject  openstudioproject  standardization  pedagogy  thichnhathahn  teaching  howweteach  mistakes  canon  critique  criticism  criticalthinking  everyday  quotidian  markets  economics  artschool  artschoolconfidential  danclowes  bfa  mfa  degrees  originality  avantgarde  frivolity  curriculum  power  dominance  understanding  relevance  irrelevance  kenlum  criticalcare  care  communitybuilding  ronscapp  artworld  sociallyendgagedart  society  design  context  carnegiemellon  social  respect  nilsnorman  socialpracticeart  cityasclassroom  student-centered  listening  love  markdion  competition  coll 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Is it time to cut adrift from island thinking? – Libby Robin – Aeon
"Island-mindedness is born in island places, but the islands of the mind have a broad appeal. Is this hard-wired? Recognising an island of safety and refuge might have enabled our hominin ancestors to find stepping stones out of Africa in times of environmental stress. The concept of the island has long been prominent in literature and useful in science: biologists and geographers, national park managers and archaeologists, linguists, geneticists and evolutionary theorists have all turned at times to the model of the island. Yet it might no longer be a great model for the new needs and concerns of our rapidly globalising century."



"An island is as much metaphor as it is physical place. Nature and wilderness reserves became the real nature for quantitative biological theorists. They could ignore the complex stuff of urban development and human communities. An island could stand for the Garden of Eden, in an age when wilderness was the highest ideal for conservation.

Islands are also devices for thinking mathematically, for simplifying the real world and leaving out messy variables. MacArthur and Wilson were conscious of the complexity of the processes they wished to explain quantitatively – processes such as dispersal, invasion, competition, adaptation and extinction. An island-based theory, they acknowledged, left out ‘many of the most troublesome – and interesting – problems’. Ecological principles need sound theories and statistical significance if they are going to attract support from governments and policymakers. Ultimately, they argued, islands and continents need to be understood together, but the island was the basis for mathematical certainty – for laws – in the management of nature. Their final chapter, ‘Prospect’, argued that biogeography was mature enough to ‘be reformulated in terms of the first principles of population ecology and genetics’."



"The island had seemed an ideal field for ‘experimentation’, but island biogeography did not take sufficient account of time and history, and the assumption that the island’s ecological future was heading steadily towards some sort of ‘balance’ was misplaced. In 1986, the Finnish philosopher-ecologist Yrjö Haila argued that the equilibrium model had ‘ossified into a simple formula that began to suppress creative thinking instead of stimulating it’.

Haila advocated ‘a broader, pluralistic appreciation of the role of theories in general’. But ecologists have found it difficult to let go of the elegance and parsimony that equilibrium theories embody, and to see the way life works afresh without theoretical assumptions. In 2006, the ornithologist and oceanic island specialist David W Steadman argued: ‘Data that fail to support an ‘elegant’ model are often regarded as noise or the exception that proves the rule. Elegant models made by deified people die hard.’

Wilson’s fame gave the equilibrium theory a longer life than its data supported. The balance of nature was attractive beyond science, and it has a romantic following, particularly among conservationists and nature lovers who support the national parks and ‘wilderness’ ideals. The US Wilderness Act is now 50 years old, and things have moved on during the Great Acceleration of change in the same period.

Even as the theory of island biogeography was gaining supporters, the critique of the balance of nature was gathering pace within ecology. National parks and nature reserves management took for granted that nature could somehow heal itself, if protected from humanity. Experimental ideas about islands drove – and at times limited – the conservation agenda, because managers still indulged the idea that nature could be fenced off, or isolated from the threat of humanity. In the past half-century, during which the human population has more than doubled, theories for protecting nature from our overexploitation have proliferated. Biological extinctions have accelerated unabated."



"In the ‘post-national’ 21st century, borders are no longer as fixed as national jurisdictional law suggests. Australia has, at times, excised itself from its islands to handle the politics of asylum‑seeking. Would-be migrants, seeking refuge in Australia, are held on offshore islands until their status is legitimated or denied. By this means, successive Australian governments have deprived vulnerable people, including children, of basic human rights. For the sake of domestic political convenience, the nation of the plastic stencil sometimes defines itself without the islands where refugee boats land. The fact that people abandon nations and passports because of global pressures, because of the impossibility of being at home where they were born, is part of what is changing the nature of nations in a global world. People are no longer from where they came from. They become citizens of where they wash up, or the world. Island-mindedness – the separation of places from other places – is no longer an option.

In this global world, it is flows and circulation, rather than land parcels, that are important. Just as Google maps and GPS have become widespread, territoriality is changing. Flows are about land-and-sea-and-sky-and-people – a collective consciousness that is hard to represent on a 2D map or a phone app.

The island-minded idea of nature, separated from culture, has also changed. Some say we are at the ‘end of nature’: there is now a human signature on all the global flows: the biophysical system is also cultural, as the new epoch of the Anthropocene is imagined. To rework the poet John Dunne, no island-nation is ‘entire of itself’, nor can any island-nature be other than ‘involved in mankind’. Perhaps the bell now tolls for the last island: the blue marble of planet Earth, an island in the infinity of space."



"Surtsey is still bleak and black, but mosses and lichens, windswept grasses and stunted shrubs now soften its edges. All its creatures still live as much with the global systems of winds and storms as on the precious fragment of land that erupted 50 years ago. Surviving on such a remote island is, paradoxically, a mark of cosmopolitanism. Only plants and animals that travel easily will flourish there."
libbyrobin  via:anne  2014  iceland  islands  science  isolation  cosmopolitanism  judithschalansky  picoiyer  surtseyisland  peterveth  charlesdarwin  alfredrusselwallace  galápagos  alexandervonhumboldt  newzealand  australia  bali  lombok  ecology  biology  life  robertmacarthur  edwardowilson  ecosystems  discreetness  nature  wilderness  complexity  extinction  dispersal  invasion  adaptation  competition  biogeography  geography  lordhoweisland  yrjöhaila  equilibrium  conservation  adrianmanning  jakobvonuexküll  flows  circulation  borders  people  humans  separation  anthropocene  darwin 
december 2014 by robertogreco
My Favorite Holiday — The Message — Medium
"So, sure, Buy Nothing Day is a made-up holiday, popularized by Adbusters and Wired, and even so I’m certain that I “celebrate” it in some sort of non-canon way. At the same time, when I come back to Vermont to my part time public school job and see the tiny menorah that is buried somewhere under the “holiday” tree in the school’s display, I appreciate having one day of celebration that I can be all in on. I campaigned for that menorah, and yet seeing it under the tree gives me a feeling of defeat.

I’ve commemorated Buy Nothing Day in some fashion or another for the past two decades — it’s only been an official thing since 1992 — in two basic ways.

1. I don’t spend any money at all. No matter what.
2. I spend part of the day outside. No matter what.

One of the initial impetuses for #2 was Bill McKibben’s first book The Age of Missing Information which he wrote in 1992. Bill McKibben is better known as the guy behind 350.org. He’s an earnest, sensible Vermonter concerned about climate change and other things that are ruining the world. This was back in the earlier days of cable television and the endless ruminating on what would actually be on those 500 channels we were promised.

In 1992 I was just out of college, living in Seattle, just learning about the Internet, didn’t have cable TV. McKibben found the US city that had the most cable channels, Fairfax Virginia, and recorded 24 hours of programming on all 93 channels. He watched these over a period of about six months, a thousand hours of television. Then he spent 24 hours in the Adirondacks, just thinking about things, and compared the experiences and wrote about them.
“What sets wilderness apart in the modern day is not that it’s dangerous (it’s almost certainly safer than any town or road) or that it’s solitary (you can, so they say, be alone in a crowded room) or full of exotic animals (there are more at the zoo). it’s that five miles out in the woods you can’t buy anything.” ― Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information

Now it’s pretty easy to fall into a lazy “Kids today…!” rant about the effects of technology on our lives and our culture. In my current life, I have more jobs that are online than offline, and even the offline ones are about teaching people to get online. I make jokes about becoming a raspberry farmer to get away from it all, but I could never hack the hours. Farmers get up early. McKibben’s not a snot about his observations, he just makes them and moves on. He later wrote a book, Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case for a More Joyful Christmas, which was a project done with local churches to spend more money and time making sure everyone had their basic needs met and less money and effort on the shopping part of Christmas; creating genuine traditions that instilled a sense of well-being and fellowship, not feelings of urgency and competition."
jessamynwest  buynothingday  consumerism  holidays  2014  consumption  cv  glvo  christmas  blackfriday  traditions  billmckibben  environment  sustainability  well-being  money  time  fellowship  urgency  competition  technology  tv  television  life  living 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Uber Delenda Est — Medium
"It’s hard not to conclude that Uber’s corporate “code of ethics” consists entirely of sending a public spokesperson out to lie about the unethical stuff they do.

And although Uber in recent months has become a mainstream libertarian shibboleth alongside Bitcoin — I regularly get swarmed by right-wing trolls after tweeting critically about it — it’s even begun to alienate longtime right-libertarian supporters. But how could this be? Because the company is, in the words of Reason‘s Nick Gillespie, “bedding down with regulators to screw over competitors”: “After spending years antagonizing would-be regulators, Uber is now working with them to hammer out agreements that will let the company flourish even as less-connected competitors face tougher regulations.” Uber has hired former Obama adviser David Plouffe to negotiate regulations with local governments, and has said it “needs to be regulated.” The kind of needful regulations he has in mind, it goes without saying, are those that raise the cost of entry and make it harder for little guys to compete with Uber. A good example of the specific regulatory model they have in mind is the recent ride-sharing regulations passed by Washington, D.C. — which Uber and Plouffe have applauded — that includes $1 million in liability insurance and registering with the DC cab commission.

Still don’t hate Uber? It was also a platinum vendor sponsor of the Urban Shield police conference in Oakland. Urban Shield is an annual, DHS-funded training conference for militarized police.

As loathsome as Uber is, though, its liberal and “progressive” critics miss the point more than they hit it."



"I argued six months ago that, even as Uber was unleashing creative destruction against the legacy taxicab industry, it in turn should be destroyed by a genuine open-source alternative. I echoed C4SS Director James Tuttle’s call to “hack the app, salt the service, fight the competition with better competition.” One possible action along those lines, among many, was suggested by a C4SS comrade on our email list who befriended the driver on an Uber trip: “I’ve got his number on my phone. Now we bypass Uber, call the guy and hear if he’s available to pick us up, and pay him cash.” This is something home care aides working for temp agencies do on a regular basis: cut out the middleman and make a deal directly with the customer that benefits both parties. Since, rather than being a genuine p2p service that empowers drivers and passengers to collaborate with each other, Uber has become a glorified temp agency that sets up a toll gate between driver and passenger, it should get the same treatment.

Today I repeat that call, but with far more urgency. The sooner Uber is destroyed by genuinely open-source, cooperative, free market and libertarian alternatives, the better. It’s time for Uber’s customers and drivers to destroy it from both inside and out. Its customers need to jailbreak it with an open-source app. Its drivers need to either violate their non-competition clause and go over to open-source alternatives, or organize independent union locals and go on strike inside from inside (which, as we saw in examples above, they’re already beginning to do).

Uber delenda est."
uber  labor  business  horizontality  verticality  abuse  2014  unions  journalism  competition  privacy  data  evil  sharingeconomy 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 16: Fission-Fusion Society
"FEARLESS ASYMMETRY: Earlier this week, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Paul Graham wrote a short piece on about how successful people aren't mean, which—well, that’s surely a question of perspective. My daily commute to work takes me through a four-way stop in the affluent Boston suburb of Wellesley, so this is probably my favourite piece of research contradicting Graham's assertion. He also talked about how famous thinkers weren't ruthless, which I find an especially interesting example. Historically, one of the best things about academia, when it works well, is that it allows people to be intrinsically motivated [vid]: it provides them with sufficient income, security, and autonomy, as well as meaningful work—basically, it’s an environment where there is relatively little incentive to be mean. But it’s also worth noting that the idea of what constitutes ‘mean’ has changed appreciably over time, particularly in terms of how you treat people who are not like you: I recently re-read parts of Richard Feynman’s autobiography and some of his behaviour towards women, largely unremarkable at the time, is appalling by current standards.

But Graham and I do agree on the disutility of competition, which I cordially despise. I hate how it’s considered to be a motivating force, especially in education. I once asked ten STEM educators, from four continents, if they were motivated by competition themselves. Only two people said they were, both men. It’s possible that women are socialized to dislike competition, but it’s probably more an awareness of implicit bias, that most competitions they were likely to participate in were effectively rigged.

Apart from being an ineffective motivator for all but a few, my significant issue with competition is that it’s inefficient. By definition, in a competition, you are doing the same thing as other people. An enormous amount of effort is poured into leveling that playing field to absolutely ensure that everyone is doing the same thing. My issue with competitive spectator sports isn't that it’s pointless (it’s play; play is, by definition, pointless). It’s that it normalizes the idea that this ‘doing the same thing, only better’, should be valorized. By contrast, art is not fungible or directly comparable. This is why “It’s an honour to be nominated” is a cliché—being recognized for one’s work is lovely, but the concept of ‘winning’ at art is bolted on. Every comparison between works of art (painting, novels, and so on) is an apples-to-oranges comparison, not a level playing field. In casual conversation at a conference, a faculty member at another institution described himself to me as 'competitive', and I told him that I wasn't—that I was more interested in using the resources available to me to do new things, rather than doing the same thing as everyone else, only better (it's why I joined the faculty of a new college, where this is explicitly part of its mission). But that means I mostly do things that I am uniquely positioned or qualified to do, and—aside from that being a much more efficient use of my personal resources—it turns out that if you’re creating new playing fields, you are in a good position to convince other people (like funding agencies) that you know how to play on them. While Graham highlights how successful people like to create entirely new domains (hello, Apple), the impetus for doing so, at least in business, is usually to monopolize them (why hello again, Apple) rather than to open them up for other people to use. If your goal is to protect that new turf, having sharp elbows and sharper lawyers is certainly an advantage. By contrast, thinkers are often considered successful when they are influential—that is, precisely because they open up new spaces for others to explore.

Finally, I dislike competition because life is too short for zero-sum games. I've been thinking recently about the often-asymmetric nature of asking for favours. It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I got my driver's license and a car, which means I’m aware of the frequently quite significant difference in cost (in time more than money, but often both) between getting a ride somewhere and not. Offering someone a ride is often a positive-sum exchange: the cost to me of driving them is far less than the cost to them of making their own way. But it’s more than that: asking for and granting favours, even positive-sum favours, is an act of trust, and it helps to cement social bonds, in part because it’s not a one-to-one exchange of goods. Graham writes that, "For most of history, success meant control of scarce resources...That is changing." as if it were a natural progression with time, like stars leaving the main sequence. But to the extent that resources are non-scarce, and that positive-sum games are possible (and these characteristics are by no means uniformly distributed, even within the United States), it's a result of people--'successful' and otherwise--choosing to create a society where that's the case. The ability to be successful without being mean follows directly from this."
debchachra  2014  competition  paulgraham  motivation  economics  society  trust  winning  success  behavior  money  wealth  stem  gender  autonomy  income  security  academia  favors 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Rox and Roll: Parents: let Harvard go
"I want to tell every parent reading this post that you need to assume, right now, that your child is not getting into Harvard no matter what he or she does. (And no, he's not getting into Stanford either, or Yale, or Dartmouth, or MIT. Probably not UC Berkeley either. No, I'm not kidding.) Your kid isn't getting into the college you think he is.

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

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

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

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



"Post-publication note: This posts seems to have reached a lot of people who have a lot of strong reactions to it. I think the comment that reached me most on another person's Facebook page is one from a parent who thinks I am encouraging mediocrity. The snarky part of me wants to tell the dude he's right, that I tell my kids "aim low." But the truth is, this post is far from encouraging mediocrity or "settling" for anything less than a child can feel good about achieving. As a Palo Alto parent, I am tired of our culture of 'achievement' as defined by grades, scores, college admissions, and the like. And I am unapologetic about that. I have worked with our community's teens as a coach, as a youth minister, as a mentor, and as a parent, and I encourage every kid to be their best self. That means being proud of their work, whether in the classroom, on the playing field, and/or in the world. Do I think they need to engage in competition for one of those 15 slots at Stanford (there is no fixed number, and I wouldn't know it if there were) by trying to outwit, outplay, and outlast (to borrow "Survivor" lingo)? Nope. And beyond that, there are going to be times when our kids just don't want to work hard because they're kids and continue to push boundaries. They're going to blow off studying for a test. They're going to fail something. Good. That's right -- I said good. Their mistakes teach them that actions have consequences and that their effort ties to their outcomes. We can't give them that with carrots or with sticks. They'll figure it out. They want to do well -- as they define it. (They know what's up with college admissions without us even getting involved, parents.) And the more they figure out for themselves, with no message from us other than "we take you as you are and want you to be healthy and fulfilled," the healthier our kids are going to be. I want nothing but the best for our village's kids -- for any kids-- and I stuck my neck out there with the post because I refuse to define the "best" as it has been anymore. The best for our kids is no more of them self-harming in any way, and I feel like we can alleviate some of that by changing our tone."
colleges  universityis  admissions  parenting  2014  via:willrichardson  stress  pressure  anxiety  aps  ivyleague  motivation  harvard  collegeadmissions  testing  standardizedtesting  success  achievement  mediocrity  grades  grading  standards  sleep  teens  adolescence  highschool  schools  education  competition  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  apclasses 
november 2014 by robertogreco
You Are Asking The Wrong Questions About Education Technology
"Education technology is trendy. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t read an article or have a conversation in which someone makes the familiar argument that “education is the one industry that hasn’t embraced the technologies of the 21st Century.” The world has changed–so the story goes–and while business has adapted, school hasn’t.

It sounds convincing. We should certainly embrace tools and technologies that will help educators become more impactful. But we should do it because it works, not for the sake of modern humanity’s obsession with progress, newness, innovation, and disruption. These buzzwords of the industrial age, let’s remember, paved the road that led to the current landscape of education.

The very notion of education as an industry is problematic. School is about transmitting values and principles from one generation to the next, not skillfully organizing labor toward productivity. Education is the child-rearing activity of civilization. We nurture our young into reflective citizens by teaching them the social and epistemological agreements of an increasingly global collective. Educators need to understand that reading, writing, and arithmetic are primarily just mutually agreed upon languages through which we make meaning out of human experience. These disciplines are essentially useful, but only fashionably industrial. That is to say: the languages themselves have much more longevity than the current applications.

For industry, however, applicability is always prioritized over ideology. Thus, running schools according to the wisdom of the business world is precisely the thought paradigm which led to the high stakes testing procedures that currently plague the United States. We account for learning outcomes as if they were profit margins. We measure the dividends returned on technology and infrastructure investments. We see children as industrial resources evaluated according to their ability to download ‘workplace skills.’ And for some bizarre reason–and despite all evidence to the contrary–we continue to expect that these metrics will somehow correlate with intelligent, ethical, and responsible adult individuals. We’ve chosen the wrong perspective.

Implicitly arguing that the problem is poor implementation of industrialization, education pundits around the world often blame inefficient government infrastructures for preventing schools from embracing the appropriate technologies. But when I look at the multi-national corporate world, I’m thankful that bureaucracy provides a necessary filter–it keeps us from moving too fast. After all, the global economy is itself evidence that the hastiness of the digital revolution has been as tumultuous as it has been beneficial. Popular technologies have, in many cases, increased corporate productivity and profitability at the expense of the humans who operate them.

What works for industry will not work for education because, as one recent New York Times article aptly noted, “teaching is not a business.” By now, we should know better than to transplant the intellectual structures of one human activity onto another. The trouble, however, is that we mistakenly believe we can separate the medium from the message.

The Making Caring Common Project at Harvard University’s Graduate School Of Education, has already explained that students see how adults’ actions can betray the intended rhetoric. Studies show that while adults say they value empathy, compassion, and critical thinking, children learn to value achievement measured by grade points. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Students read systems’ implicit messaging while ignoring the explicit talking points. When schools are run according to the conventions of for-profit organizations, we move with impressive efficiency toward a world full of graduates who mistakenly believe enterprising entrepreneurship is a defining value system rather than an important skill set.

Alternatively, we might understand that school is ultimately a ‘technology of the self’ (to borrow a phrase from Michel Foucault). Then, we would first focus on the systematic process through which we nurture individuals’ sense of agency, decorum, and responsibility. School itself becomes the tool which refines individuals into reflective citizens and prioritizes opportunities for emerging human dignity. Education becomes the structure within which narratives of personal and collective identity are contextualized using the intellectual structures and academic skills that we’ve inherited from preceding generations.

Digital tools have the ability to enhance these educational technologies of the self. But we need to make sure that these tools are also aligned with learning outcomes which prioritize human dignity rather than haste, consumption, and algorithmic metrics. Game-based learning is especially useful because the presence of avatars encourages players to step outside of their familiar perspectives and embody alternate ones. Therefore, they nurture the kind of intellectual self-reflection that education psychologists call “metacognitive skills.” Learning games make the question of identity development explicit and therefore truly empower students with the agency to construct their own personal narratives.

Thus far, however, we’ve unfortunately been brainwashed into thinking that educational technologies are neutral. We imagine that tablets and computers are merely tools that transmit unbiased academic content to students. On the contrary, they do much more than that. Embedded in every technological solution is a moral/ethical stance, an image of the good life, and a narrative of the idealized self. The worldwide success of Apple’s marketing is evidence enough that digital gadgets are not only tools with which we manipulate our environment, but also props in a performed identity narrative.

Technologies teach our children how to make sense of the world, how to think about knowledge and information, and how to relate to themselves and to one another. Making sure we agree, in principle, with the tool’s implicit messaging is the most important question we can ask. Yet, it is the one question we most often skip."
jordanshapiro  2014  edtech  technology  luddism  neoluddism  education  learning  howwelearn  ideology  empathy  compassion  criticalthinking  competition  grades  grading  efficiency  entrepreneurship  foucault  agency  decorum  humanism  responsibility  empowerment  games  gaming  howweteach  schools  children  slow  michelfoucault 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Speed Kills: Fast is never fast enough - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"In the past 50 years, two economies that operate at two different speeds have emerged. In one, wealth is created by selling labor or stuff; in the other, by trading signs that are signs of other signs. The virtual assets scale at a speed much greater than the real assets. A worker can produce only so many motorcycles, a teacher can teach only so many students, and a doctor can see only so many patients a day. In high-speed markets, by contrast, billions of dollars are won or lost in billionths of a second. In this new world, wealth begets wealth at an unprecedented rate. No matter how many new jobs are created in the real economy, the wealth gap created by the speed gap will never be closed. It will continue to widen at an ever-faster rate until there is a fundamental change in values.

One of the most basic values that must be rethought is growth, which has not always been the standard by which economic success is measured. The use of the gross national product and gross domestic product to evaluate relative economic performance is largely the product of the Cold War. As the battleground between the United States and the Soviet Union expanded to include the economy, the question became whether capitalism or communism could deliver more goods faster."



"The problem is not only, as Michael Lewis argues in Flash Boys, finding a technological fix for markets that are rigged; the problem is that the entire system rests on values that have become distorted: individualism, utility, efficiency, productivity, competition, consumption, and speed. Furthermore, this regime has repressed values that now need to be cultivated: sustainability, community, cooperation, generosity, patience, subtlety, deliberation, reflection, and slowness. If psychological, social, economic, and ecological meltdowns are to be avoided, we need what Nietzsche aptly labeled a "transvaluation of values."



"The growing concern about the effectiveness of primary, secondary, and postsecondary education has led to a preoccupation with the evaluation of students and teachers. For harried administrators, the fastest and most efficient way to make these assessments is to adopt quantitative methods that have proved most effective in the business world. Measuring inputs, outputs, and throughputs has become the accepted way to calculate educational costs and benefits. While quantitative assessment is effective for some activities and subjects, many of the most important aspects of education cannot be quantified. When people believe that what cannot be measured is not real, education and, by extension society, loses its soul.

Today’s young people are not merely distracted—the Internet and video games are actually rewiring their brains. Neuroscientists have found significant differences in the brains of "addicted" adolescents and "healthy" users. The next edition of the standard Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will very likely specify Internet addiction as an area for further research. The epidemic of ADHD provides additional evidence of the deleterious effects of the excessive use of digital media. Physicians concerned about the inability of their patients to concentrate freely prescribe Ritalin, which is speed, while students staying up all night to study take Ritalin to give them a competitive advantage.

Rather than resisting these pressures, anxious parents exacerbate them by programming their kids for what they believe will be success from the time they are in prekindergarten. But the knowledge that matters cannot be programmed, and creativity cannot be rushed but must be cultivated slowly and patiently. As leading scientists, writers, and artists have long insisted, the most imaginative ideas often emerge in moments of idleness.

Many people lament the fact that young people do not read or write as much as they once did. But that is wrong—the issue is not how much they are reading and writing; indeed they are, arguably, reading and writing more than ever before. The problem is how they are reading and what they are writing. There is a growing body of evidence that people read and write differently online. Once again the crucial variable is speed. The claim that faster is always better is nowhere more questionable than when reading, writing, and thinking.

All too often, online reading resembles rapid information processing rather than slow, careful, deliberate reflection. Researchers have discovered what they describe as an "F-shaped pattern" for reading web content, in which as people read down a page, they scan fewer and fewer words in a line. When speed is essential, the shorter, the better; complexity gives way to simplicity, and depth of meaning is dissipated in surfaces over which fickle eyes surf. Fragmentary emails, flashy websites, tweets in 140 characters or less, unedited blogs filled with mistakes. Obscurity, ambiguity, and uncertainty, which are the lifeblood of art, literature, and philosophy, become decoding problems to be resolved by the reductive either/or of digital logic.

Finally, vocationalization. With the skyrocketing cost of college, parents, students, and politicians have become understandably concerned about the utility of higher education. Will college prepare students for tomorrow’s workplace? Which major will help get a job? Administrators and admission officers defend the value of higher education in economic terms by citing the increased lifetime earning potential for college graduates. While financial matters are not unimportant, value cannot be measured in economic terms alone. The preoccupation with what seems to be practical and useful in the marketplace has led to a decline in the perceived value of the arts and humanities, which many people now regard as impractical luxuries.

That development reflects a serious misunderstanding of what is practical and impractical, as well as the confusion between the practical and the vocational. As the American Academy of Arts and Sciences report on the humanities and social sciences, "The Heart of the Matter," insists, the humanities and liberal arts have never been more important than in today’s globalized world. Education focused on STEM disciplines is not enough—to survive and perhaps even thrive in the 21st century, students need to study religion, philosophy, art, languages, literature, and history. Young people must learn that memory cannot be outsourced to machines, and short-term solutions to long-term problems are never enough. Above all, educators are responsible for teaching students how to think critically and creatively about the values that guide their lives and inform society as a whole.

That cannot be done quickly—it will take the time that too many people think they do not have.

Acceleration is unsustainable. Eventually, speed kills. The slowing down required to delay or even avoid the implosion of interrelated systems that sustain our lives does not merely involve pausing to smell the roses or taking more time with one’s family, though those are important.

Within the long arc of history, it becomes clear that the obsession with speed is a recent development that reflects values that have become destructive. Not all reality is virtual, and the quick might not inherit the earth. Complex systems are not infinitely adaptive, and when they collapse, it happens suddenly and usually unexpectedly. Time is quickly running out."
speed  health  life  trends  2014  via:anne  marktaylor  filippomarinetti  futurists  futuristmanifesto  modernism  modernity  charliechaplin  efficiency  living  slow  thorsteinveblen  wealth  inequality  values  us  growth  economics  writing  finance  education  highered  highereducation  communication  internet  web  online  complexity  systemsthinking  systems  humanities  liberalarts  stem  criticalthinking  creativity  reflection  productivity  reading  howweread  howwewrite  thinking  schools  schooling  evaluation  assessment  quantification  standardization  standardizedtesting  society  interdisciplinary  professionalization  specialization  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  learning  howwelearn  howwethink  neuroscience  slowness  deliberation  patience  generosity  consumption  competition  competitiveness  subtlety  sustainability  community  cooperation  nietzsche  capitalism  latecapitalism 
october 2014 by robertogreco