robertogreco + literacy   370

Magic and the Machine — Emergence Magazine
"Indeed, it is only when a traditionally oral culture becomes literate that the land seems to fall silent. Only as our senses transferred their animating magic to the written word did the other animals fall dumb, the trees and rocks become mute. For, to learn this new magic, we had to break the spontaneous participation of our eyes and ears in the enfolding terrain in order to recouple those senses with the flat surface of the page. I remember well, in first grade, the intensity with which I had to train my listening ears and my visual focus upon the letters in order to make each letter trigger a specific sound made by my mouth, such that now whenever I see the letter K, I instantly hear “kah” in my mind’s ear, and whenever I see an M, I hear “mmm.” If my ancestors once engaged in animistic participation with bent twigs, animal tracks, cliff-faces, and cloud shapes, I learned an analogous participation with the letter shapes upon the page. But notice: while a thundercloud or a raven might utter strange sounds and communicate strange sensations, the written letters always speak with a human tongue.

Hence, far from enacting a clear break with animism, alphabetic literacy can be recognized as a particularly potent form of animism, one which shifts the locus of magic—or meaning—away from our interactions with the more-than-human surroundings to the relation between ourselves and our own signs. Only as alphabetic literacy comes into a previously oral culture (often through Christian missionaries teaching how to read the Good Book) does that culture get the curious idea that language is an exclusively human property. The living land is no longer felt to hold and utter forth its own manifold meanings; the surrounding earth soon comes to be viewed as a mostly passive background upon which human history unfolds."




"For animism—the instinctive experience of reciprocity or exchange between the perceiver and the perceived—lies at the heart of all human perception. While such participatory experience may be displaced by our engagement with particular tools and technologies, it can never entirely be dispelled. Rather, different technologies tend to capture and channel our instinctive, animistic proclivities in particular ways."



"Despite the flimsy gesture toward a kind of magical reality, the fact is that we’re still speaking only to ourselves, to things that we have programmed to talk back to us. And so, after the initial novelty, which maybe lasts about twenty minutes, there’s nothing here that can surprise us, or yield a sense that we’re in communication with beings strangely different from ourselves."



"And maybe this attempt to recreate that primal experience of intimacy with the surrounding world will actually succeed. Certainly it’s giving rise to all sorts of fascinating gizmos and whimsical inventions. But it’s also bound to disappoint. The difficult magic of animistic perception, the utter weirdness and dark wonder that lives in any deeply place-based relation to the earth, is the felt sense of being in contact with wakeful forms of sentience that are richly different from one’s own—the experience of interaction with intelligences that are radically other from one’s own human style of intelligence. Yet when interacting with the smart objects that inhabit the always-online world of the internet of things, well, there’s no real otherness there. Of course, there’s the quasi-otherness of the program designers, and of the other people living their own wired lives; although just how other anybody will be when we’re all deploying various forms of the same software (and so all thinking by means of the same preprogrammed algorithms) is an open question. My point, however, is that there’s no radical otherness involved: it’s all humanly programmed, and it’s inhabited by us humans and our own humanly-built artifacts; it’s all basically a big extension of the human nervous system. As we enter more deeply into the world of ubiquitous computing, we increasingly seal ourselves into an exclusively human zone of interaction. We enter into a bizarre kind of intraspecies incest."



"Yet it’s the alterity or otherness of things—the weirdly different awareness of a humpback whale sounding its eerie glissandos through the depths, or an orb-weaver spider spinning the cosmos out of her abdomen; or the complex intelligence of an old-growth forest, dank with mushrooms and bracket fungi, humming with insects and haunted by owls—it’s the wild, more-than-human otherness of these powers that makes any attentive relation with such beings a genuine form of magic, a trancelike negotiation between outrageously divergent worlds.

Without such radical otherness, there’s no magic. Wandering around inside a huge extension of our own nervous system is not likely to bring a renewal of creaturely wonder, or a recovery of ancestral capacities. It may keep us fascinated for a time but also vaguely unsatisfied and so always thirsty for the next invention, the next gadget that might finally satisfy our craving, might assuage our vague sense that something momentous is missing. Except it won’t."



"Western navigators, long reliant on a large array of instruments, remain astonished by the ability of traditional seafaring peoples to find their way across the broad ocean by sensing subtle changes in the ocean currents, by tasting the wind and reading the weather, by conversing with the patterns in the night sky. Similarly, many bookish persons find themselves flummoxed by the ease with which citizens of traditionally oral, place-based cultures seem always to know where they are—their capacity to find their way even through dense forests without obvious landmarks—an innate orienting ability that arises when on intimate terms with the ground, with the plants, with the cycles of sun, moon, and stars. GPS seems to replicate this innate and fairly magical capacity, but instead of this knowledge arising from our bodily interchange with the earthly cosmos, here the knowledge arrives as a disembodied calculation by a complex of orbiting and ground-based computers."



"There is nothing “extra-sensory” about this kind of earthly clairvoyance. Rather, sensory perception functions here as a kind of glue, binding one’s individual nervous system into the larger ecosystem. When our animal senses are all awake, our skin rippling with sensations as we palpate the surroundings with ears and eyes and flaring nostrils, it sometimes happens that our body becomes part of the larger Body of the land—that our sensate flesh is taken up within the wider Flesh of the breathing Earth—and so we begin to glimpse events unfolding at other locations within the broad Body of the land. In hunting and gathering communities, individuals are apprenticed to the intricate life of the local earth from an early age, and in the absence of firearms, hunters often depend upon this richly sensorial, synaesthetic clairvoyance for regular success in the hunt. The smartphone replicates something of this old, ancestral experience of earthly acumen that has long been central to our species: the sense of being situated over Here, while knowing what’s going on over There."



"And so we remain transfixed by these tools, searching in and through our digital engagements for an encounter they seem to promise yet never really provide: the consummate encounter with otherness, with radical alterity, with styles of sensibility and intelligence that thoroughly exceed the limits of our own sentience. Yet there’s the paradox: for the more we engage these remarkable tools, the less available we are for any actual contact outside the purely human estate. In truth, the more we participate with these astonishing technologies, the more we seal ourselves into an exclusively human cocoon, and the more our animal senses—themselves co-evolved with the winds, the waters, and the many-voiced terrain—are blunted, rendering us ever more blind, ever more deaf, ever more impervious to the more-than-human Earth.

Which brings us, finally, back to our initial question: What is the primary relation, if there is any actual relation, between the two contrasting collective moods currently circulating through contemporary society—between the upbeat technological optimism coursing through many social circles and the mood of ecological despondency and grief that so many other persons seem to be feeling? As a writer who uses digital technology, I can affirm that these tools are enabling many useful, astounding, and even magical possibilities. But all this virtual magic is taking a steep toll. For many long years this techno-wizardry has been blunting our creaturely senses, interrupting the instinctive rapport between our senses and the earthly sensuous. It’s been short-circuiting the spontaneous reciprocity between our animal body and the animate terrain, disrupting the very attunement that keeps us apprised of what’s going on in our locale—the simple, somatic affinity that entangles our body with the bodies of other creatures, binding our sentience with that of the local earth. Today, caught up in our fascination with countless screen-fitted gadgets, we’re far more aloof from the life of the land around us, and hence much less likely to notice the steady plundering of these woodlands and wetlands, the choking of the winds and the waters by the noxious by-products of the many industries we now rely on. As these insults to the elemental earth pile up—as the waters are rendered lifeless by more chemical runoff, by more oil spills, by giant patches of plastic rotating in huge gyres; as more glaciers melt and more forests succumb to the stresses of a destabilized climate—the sensorial world of our carnal experience is increasingly filled with horrific wounds, wounds that we feel in our flesh whenever we dare to taste the world with our creaturely senses. It’s too damned painful. Hence … [more]
animism  davidabram  technology  language  alphabet  writing  oraltradition  secondaryorality  smarthphones  gps  multispecies  morethanhuman  canon  literacy  listening  multisensory  senses  noticing  nature  intuition  alterity  otherness  object  animals  wildlife  plants  rocks  life  living  instinct  internet  web  online  maps  mapping  orientation  cities  sound  smell  texture  touch  humans  smartdevices  smarthomes  internetofthings  perception  virtuality  physical 
16 days ago by robertogreco
Running Out of Children, a South Korea School Enrolls Illiterate Grandmothers - The New York Times
"As the birthrate plummets in South Korea, rural schools are emptying. To fill its classrooms, one school opened its doors to women who have for decades dreamed of learning to read."
schools  education  literacy  korea  2019  birthrate  agesegregation 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
The UX design case of closed captions for everyone // Sebastian Greger
"Are video subtitles really chiefly for users who cannot hear or lack an audio device? A recent Twitter thread on “closed captions for the hearing” triggered a brief qualitative exploration and thought experiment – there may well be a growing group of users being forgotten in the design of closed captions.

Most commonly perceived as an auxiliary means for the hearing impaired, video subtitles, a.k.a. closed captions (CC), have only recently started to be widely considered as an affordance for users in situations with no audio available/possible (think mobile devices in public settings, libraries, shared office spaces); the latter to the extend that contemporary “social media marketing guidelines” strongly recommend subtitling video clips uploaded to Facebook, Twitter et al.

So: subtitles are for those who cannot hear, or with muted devices?

Who else uses closed captions?

I’m personally a great fan of closed captions, for various reasons unrelated to either of the above, and have often noticed certain limitations in their design. Hence, the user researcher inside me just did a somersault as I randomly encountered a Twitter thread [https://twitter.com/jkottke/status/1091338252475396097 ] following Jason Kottke asking his 247.000 followers:
After seeing several photos my (English-speaking, non-deaf) friends have taken of their TV screens over the past week, I’m realizing that many of you watch TV with closed captions (or subtitles) on?! Is this a thing? And if so, why?

The 150+ replies (I guess this qualifies as a reasonable sample for a qualitative analysis of sorts?) are a wonderful example of “accessibility features” benefiting everybody (I wrote about another instance recently [https://sebastiangreger.net/2018/11/twitter-alt-texts-on-db-trains/ ]). The reasons why people watch TV with closed captions on, despite having good hearing abilities and not being constrained by having to watch muted video, are manifold and go far beyond those two most commonly anticipated use cases.

[image: Close-up image of a video with subtitles (caption: "Closed captions are used by people with good hearing and audio playback turned on. An overseen use case?")]

Even applying a rather shallow, ex-tempore categorisation exercise based on the replies on Twitter, I end up with an impressive list to start with:

• Permanent difficulties with audio content
◦ audio processing disorders
◦ short attention span (incl., but not limited to clinical conditions)
◦ hard of hearing, irrespective of age
• Temporary impairments of hearing or perception
◦ watching under the influence of alcohol
◦ noise from eating chips while watching
• Environmental/contextual factors
◦ environment noise from others in the room (or a snoring dog)
◦ distractions and multitasking (working out, child care, web browsing, working, phone calls)
• Reasons related to the media itself
◦ bad audio levels of voice vs. music
• Enabler for improved understanding
◦ easier to follow dialogue
◦ annoyance with missing dialogue
◦ avoidance of misinterpretations
◦ better appreciation of dialogue
• Better access to details
◦ able to take note of titles of songs played
◦ ability to understand song lyrics
◦ re-watching to catch missed details
• Language-related reasons
◦ strong accents
◦ fast talking, mumbling
◦ unable to understand foreign language
◦ insecurity with non-native language
• Educational goals, learning and understanding
◦ language learning
◦ literacy development for children
◦ seeing the spelling of unknown words/names
◦ easier memorability of content read (retainability)
• Social reasons
◦ courtesy to others, either in need for silence or with a need/preference for subtitles
◦ presence of pets or sleeping children
◦ avoiding social conflict over sound level or distractions (“CC = family peace”)
• Media habits
◦ ability to share screen photos with text online
• Personal preferences
◦ preference for reading
◦ acquired habit
• Limitations of technology skills
◦ lack of knowledge of how to turn them off

An attempt at designerly analysis

The reasons range from common sense to surprising, such as the examples of closed captions used to avoid family conflict or the two respondents explicitly mentioning “eating chips” as a source of disturbing noise. Motivations mentioned repeatedly refer to learning and/or understanding, but also such apparently banal reasons like not knowing how to turn them off (a usability issue?). Most importantly, though, it becomes apparent that using CC is more often than not related to choice/preference, rather than to impairment or restraints from using audio.

At the same time, it becomes very clear that not everybody likes them, especially when forced to watch with subtitles by another person. The desire/need of some may negatively affect the experience of others present. A repeat complaint that, particularly with comedy, CC can kill the jokes may also hint at the fact that subtitles and their timing could perhaps be improved by considering them as more than an accessibility aid for those who would not hear the audio? (It appears as if the scenario of audio and CC consumed simultaneously is not something considered when subtitles are created and implemented; are we looking at another case for “exclusive design”?)

And while perceived as distracting when new – this was the starting point of Kottke’s Tweet – many of the comments share the view that it becomes less obtrusive over time; people from countries where TV is not dubbed in particular are so used to it they barely notice it (“becomes second nature”). Yet, there are even such interesting behaviours like people skipping back to re-read a dialogue they only listened to at first, as well as that of skipping back to be able to pay better attention to the picture at second view (e.g. details of expression) after reading the subtitles initially.

Last but not least, it is interesting how people may even feel shame over using CC. Only a conversation like the cited Twitter thread may help them realise that it is much more common than they thought. And most importantly that it has nothing to do with a perceived stigmatisation of being “hard of hearing”.

CC as part of video content design

The phenomenon is obviously not new. Some articles on the topic suggest that it is a generational habit [https://medium.com/s/the-upgrade/why-gen-z-loves-closed-captioning-ec4e44b8d02f ] of generation Z (though Kottke’s little survey proves the contrary), or even sees [https://www.wired.com/story/closed-captions-everywhere/ ] it as paranoid and obsessive-compulsive behaviour of “postmodern completists” as facilitated by new technological possibilities. Research on the benefits of CC for language learning, on the other hand, reaches back [https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19388078909557984 ] several decades.

No matter what – the phenomenon in itself is interesting enough to make this a theme for deeper consideration in any design project that contains video material. Because, after all, one thing is for sure: closed captions are not for those with hearing impairments or with muted devices alone – and to deliver great UX, these users should be considered as well."

[See also: https://kottke.org/19/04/why-everyone-is-watching-tv-with-closed-captioning-on-these-days ]
closedcaptioning  subtitles  closedcaptions  text  reading  genz  generationz  audio  video  tv  film  dialogue  listening  howweread  2019  sebastiangreger  literacy  language  languages  ux  ui  television  ocd  attention  adhd  languagelearning  learning  howwelearn  processing  hearing  sound  environment  parenting  media  multimedia  clarity  accents  memory  memorization  children  distractions  technology  classideas 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Yong Zhao "What Works May Hurt: Side Effects in Education" - YouTube
"Proponents of standardized testing and privatization in education have sought to prove their effectiveness in improving education with an abundance of evidence. These efforts, however, can have dangerous side effects, causing long-lasting damage to children, teachers, and schools. Yong Zhao, Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas, will argue that education interventions are like medical products: They can have serious, sometimes detrimental, side effects while also providing cures. Using standardized testing and privatization as examples, Zhao, author of the internationally bestselling Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World, will talk about his new book on why and how pursuing a narrow set of short-term outcomes causes irreparable harm in education."
yongzhao  2018  schools  schooling  pisa  education  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  china  us  history  testscores  children  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  sideeffects  privatization  tims  math  reading  confidence  assessment  economics  depression  diversity  entrepreneurship  japan  creativity  korea  vietnam  homogenization  intolerance  prosperity  tolerance  filtering  sorting  humans  meritocracy  effort  inheritance  numeracy  literacy  achievementgap  kindergarten  nclb  rttt  policy  data  homogeneity  selectivity  charterschools  centralization  decentralization  local  control  inequity  curriculum  autonomy  learning  memorization  directinstruction  instruction  poverty  outcomes  tfa  teachforamerica  finland  singapore  miltonfriedman  vouchers  resilience  growthmindset  motivation  psychology  research  positivepsychology  caroldweck  intrinsicmotivation  choice  neoliberalism  high-stakestesting 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Language and Linguistics on Trial: Hearing Rachel Jeantel (and Other Vernacular Speakers) in the Courtroom and Beyond, by John Rickford and Sharese King [.pdf]
"Rachel Jeantel was the leading prosecution witness when George Zimmerman was tried for killing Trayvon Martin, but she spoke in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and her crucial testimony was dismissed as incomprehensible and not credible. The disregard for her speech in court and the media is familiar to vernacular speakers and puts Linguistics itself on trial: following Saussure, how do we dispel such ‘prejudices’ and ‘fictions’? We show that Jeantel speaks a highly systematic AAVE, with possible Caribbean influence. We also discuss voice quality and other factors that bedeviled her testimony, including dialect unfamiliarity and institutionalized racism. Finally, we suggest strategies for linguists to help vernacular speakers be better heard in courtrooms and beyond.*"
johnrickford  shareseking  2016  trayvonmartin  georgezimmerman  racheljeantel  aave  english  bias  law  legal  justice  race  racism  dialect  literacy  intelligence  linguistics  sociolinguistics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Justice for Jeantel (and Trayvon): Fighting Dialect Prejudice in Courtrooms and Beyond - CornellCast
"When George Zimmerman was tried for the homicide of Trayvon Martin, the testimony of Rachel Jeantel was critical to the prosecution’s case – but was ignored by the jury. According to linguist John Rickford this happened because Jeantel speaks African-American Vernacular English. On Sept. 15, 2016, Rickford presented a University Lecture discussing the potentially devastating consequences caused by mishearings and misjudgments of dialect speakers in courtrooms, police encounters, job interviews and elsewhere."
johnrickford  2016  trayvonmartin  georgezimmerman  racheljeantel  aave  english  bias  law  legal  justice  race  racism  dialect  literacy  intelligence  linguistics  sociolinguistics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
John Rickford, Sharese King: Full Interview on "Race, Dialect Prejudice, and Literacy in the Zimmerman Trial and Beyond" | Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education
"The testimony of Rachel Jeantel, close friend of Trayvon Martin and the prosecution's star witness in the trial of George Zimmerman, was the subject of considerable public commentary in the summer of 2013. Social media pilloried her for her "slurred" or "ungrammatical" speech and described her as stupid and ignorant.

But as Stanford professor John Rickford and second-year linguistics graduate student Sharese King show from analyses of her use of zero copula, absence of third singular present, possessive, and plural --s, and other features, she follows the systematic grammar of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) quite faithfully.

Rickford and King discuss the evidence of Jeantel's limited literacy that emerged during the trial, and the poor reading performance of African American students at her school, Miami Norland, which did not come to public attention. They ask about the extent to which speakers of African American Vernacular English and other dialects are misunderstood, disbelieved, or otherwise unfairly evaluated in courts, schools, and other settings.

This interview followed the SCOPE Brown Bag Lecture: "Race, Dialect Prejudice, and Literacy in the Zimmerman Trial and Beyond" on February 10, 2014."

[Direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH-vshQf2g0 ]
johnrickford  shareseking  2014  trayvonmartin  georgezimmerman  racheljeantel  aave  english  bias  law  legal  justice  race  racism  dialect  literacy  intelligence  linguistics  sociolinguistics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound | Maryanne Wolf | Opinion | The Guardian
"When the reading brain skims texts, we don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings or to perceive beauty. We need a new literacy for the digital age"



"Look around on your next plane trip. The iPad is the new pacifier for babies and toddlers. Younger school-aged children read stories on smartphones; older boys don’t read at all, but hunch over video games. Parents and other passengers read on Kindles or skim a flotilla of email and news feeds. Unbeknownst to most of us, an invisible, game-changing transformation links everyone in this picture: the neuronal circuit that underlies the brain’s ability to read is subtly, rapidly changing - a change with implications for everyone from the pre-reading toddler to the expert adult.

As work in neurosciences indicates, the acquisition of literacy necessitated a new circuit in our species’ brain more than 6,000 years ago. That circuit evolved from a very simple mechanism for decoding basic information, like the number of goats in one’s herd, to the present, highly elaborated reading brain. My research depicts how the present reading brain enables the development of some of our most important intellectual and affective processes: internalized knowledge, analogical reasoning, and inference; perspective-taking and empathy; critical analysis and the generation of insight. Research surfacing in many parts of the world now cautions that each of these essential “deep reading” processes may be under threat as we move into digital-based modes of reading.

This is not a simple, binary issue of print vs digital reading and technological innovation. As MIT scholar Sherry Turkle has written, we do not err as a society when we innovate, but when we ignore what we disrupt or diminish while innovating. In this hinge moment between print and digital cultures, society needs to confront what is diminishing in the expert reading circuit, what our children and older students are not developing, and what we can do about it.

We know from research that the reading circuit is not given to human beings through a genetic blueprint like vision or language; it needs an environment to develop. Further, it will adapt to that environment’s requirements – from different writing systems to the characteristics of whatever medium is used. If the dominant medium advantages processes that are fast, multi-task oriented and well-suited for large volumes of information, like the current digital medium, so will the reading circuit. As UCLA psychologist Patricia Greenfield writes, the result is that less attention and time will be allocated to slower, time-demanding deep reading processes, like inference, critical analysis and empathy, all of which are indispensable to learning at any age.

Increasing reports from educators and from researchers in psychology and the humanities bear this out. English literature scholar and teacher Mark Edmundson describes how many college students actively avoid the classic literature of the 19th and 20th centuries because they no longer have the patience to read longer, denser, more difficult texts. We should be less concerned with students’ “cognitive impatience,” however, than by what may underlie it: the potential inability of large numbers of students to read with a level of critical analysis sufficient to comprehend the complexity of thought and argument found in more demanding texts, whether in literature and science in college, or in wills, contracts and the deliberately confusing public referendum questions citizens encounter in the voting booth.

Multiple studies show that digital screen use may be causing a variety of troubling downstream effects on reading comprehension in older high school and college students. In Stavanger, Norway, psychologist Anne Mangen and her colleagues studied how high school students comprehend the same material in different mediums. Mangen’s group asked subjects questions about a short story whose plot had universal student appeal (a lust-filled, love story); half of the students read Jenny, Mon Amour on a Kindle, the other half in paperback. Results indicated that students who read on print were superior in their comprehension to screen-reading peers, particularly in their ability to sequence detail and reconstruct the plot in chronological order.

Ziming Liu from San Jose State University has conducted a series of studies which indicate that the “new norm” in reading is skimming, with word-spotting and browsing through the text. Many readers now use an F or Z pattern when reading in which they sample the first line and then word-spot through the rest of the text. When the reading brain skims like this, it reduces time allocated to deep reading processes. In other words, we don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings, to perceive beauty, and to create thoughts of the reader’s own.

Karin Littau and Andrew Piper have noted another dimension: physicality. Piper, Littau and Anne Mangen’s group emphasize that the sense of touch in print reading adds an important redundancy to information – a kind of “geometry” to words, and a spatial “thereness” for text. As Piper notes, human beings need a knowledge of where they are in time and space that allows them to return to things and learn from re-examination – what he calls the “technology of recurrence”. The importance of recurrence for both young and older readers involves the ability to go back, to check and evaluate one’s understanding of a text. The question, then, is what happens to comprehension when our youth skim on a screen whose lack of spatial thereness discourages “looking back.”

US media researchers Lisa Guernsey and Michael Levine, American University’s linguist Naomi Baron, and cognitive scientist Tami Katzir from Haifa University have examined the effects of different information mediums, particularly on the young. Katzir’s research has found that the negative effects of screen reading can appear as early as fourth and fifth grade - with implications not only for comprehension, but also on the growth of empathy.

The possibility that critical analysis, empathy and other deep reading processes could become the unintended “collateral damage” of our digital culture is not a simple binary issue about print vs digital reading. It is about how we all have begun to read on any medium and how that changes not only what we read, but also the purposes for why we read. Nor is it only about the young. The subtle atrophy of critical analysis and empathy affects us all. It affects our ability to navigate a constant bombardment of information. It incentivizes a retreat to the most familiar silos of unchecked information, which require and receive no analysis, leaving us susceptible to false information and demagoguery.

There’s an old rule in neuroscience that does not alter with age: use it or lose it. It is a very hopeful principle when applied to critical thought in the reading brain because it implies choice. The story of the changing reading brain is hardly finished. We possess both the science and the technology to identify and redress the changes in how we read before they become entrenched. If we work to understand exactly what we will lose, alongside the extraordinary new capacities that the digital world has brought us, there is as much reason for excitement as caution.

We need to cultivate a new kind of brain: a “bi-literate” reading brain capable of the deepest forms of thought in either digital or traditional mediums. A great deal hangs on it: the ability of citizens in a vibrant democracy to try on other perspectives and discern truth; the capacity of our children and grandchildren to appreciate and create beauty; and the ability in ourselves to go beyond our present glut of information to reach the knowledge and wisdom necessary to sustain a good society."
reading  howweread  skimming  digital  2018  maryannewolf  literacy  truth  meaning  karinlittau  andrewpiper  annemagen  patriciagreenfield  sherryturkle  attention  technology  screens  speed  psychology  behavior 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Opinion | Is Listening to a Book the Same Thing as Reading It? - The New York Times
"A few years ago, when people heard I was a reading researcher, they might ask about their child’s dyslexia or how to get their teenager to read more. But today the question I get most often is, “Is it cheating if I listen to an audiobook for my book club?”

Audiobook sales have doubled in the last five years while print and e-book sales are flat. These trends might lead us to fear that audiobooks will do to reading what keyboarding has done to handwriting — rendered it a skill that seems quaint and whose value is open to debate. But examining how we read and how we listen shows that each is best suited to different purposes, and neither is superior.

In fact, they overlap considerably. Consider why audiobooks are a good workaround for people with dyslexia: They allow listeners to get the meaning while skirting the work of decoding, that is, the translation of print on the page to words in the mind. Although decoding is serious work for beginning readers, it’s automatic by high school, and no more effortful or error prone than listening. Once you’ve identified the words (whether by listening or reading), the same mental process comprehends the sentences and paragraphs they form.

Writing is less than 6,000 years old, insufficient time for the evolution of specialized mental processes devoted to reading. We use the mental mechanism that evolved to understand oral language to support the comprehension of written language. Indeed, research shows that adults get nearly identical scores on a reading test if they listen to the passages instead of reading them.

Nevertheless, there are differences between print and audio, notably prosody. That’s the pitch, tempo and stress of spoken words. “What a great party” can be a sincere compliment or sarcastic put-down, but they look identical on the page. Although writing lacks symbols for prosody, experienced readers infer it as they go. In one experiment, subjects listened to a recording of someone’s voice who either spoke quickly or slowly. Next, everyone silently read the same text, purportedly written by the person whose voice they had just heard. Those hearing the quick talker read the text faster than those hearing the slow talker.

But the inferences can go wrong, and hearing the audio version — and therefore the correct prosody — can aid comprehension. For example, today’s student who reads “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” often assumes that Juliet is asking where Romeo is, and so infers that the word art would be stressed. In a performance, an actress will likely stress Romeo, which will help a listener realize she’s musing about his name, not wondering about his location.

It sounds as if comprehension should be easier when listening than reading, but that’s not always true. For example, one study compared how well students learned about a scientific subject from a 22-minute podcast versus a printed article. Although students spent equivalent time with each format, on a written quiz two days later the readers scored 81 percent and the listeners 59 percent.

What happened? Note that the subject matter was difficult, and the goal wasn’t pleasure but learning. Both factors make us read differently. When we focus, we slow down. We reread the hard bits. We stop and think. Each is easier with print than with a podcast.

Print also supports readers through difficult content via signals to organization like paragraphs and headings, conventions missing from audio. Experiments show readers actually take longer to read the first sentence of a paragraph because they know it probably contains the foundational idea for what’s to come.

So although one core process of comprehension serves both listening and reading, difficult texts demand additional mental strategies. Print makes those strategies easier to use. Consistent with that interpretation, researchers find that people’s listening and reading abilities are more similar for simple narratives than for expository prose. Stories tend to be more predictable and employ familiar ideas, and expository essays more likely include unfamiliar content and require more strategic reading.

This conclusion — equivalence for easy texts and an advantage to print for hard ones — is open to changes in the future. As audiobooks become more common, listeners will gain experience in comprehending them and may improve, and publishers may develop ways of signaling organization auditorily.

But even with those changes, audiobooks won’t replace print because we use them differently. Eighty-one percent of audiobook listeners say they like to drive, work out or otherwise multitask while they listen. The human mind is not designed for doing two things simultaneously, so if we multitask, we’ll get gist, not subtleties.

Still, that’s no reason for print devotees to sniff. I can’t hold a book while I mop or commute. Print may be best for lingering over words or ideas, but audiobooks add literacy to moments where there would otherwise be none.

So no, listening to a book club selection is not cheating. It’s not even cheating to listen while you’re at your child’s soccer game (at least not as far as the book is concerned). You’ll just get different things out of the experience. And different books invite different ways that you want to read them: As the audio format grows more popular, authors are writing more works specifically meant to be heard.

Our richest experiences will come not from treating print and audio interchangeably, but from understanding the differences between them and figuring out how to use them to our advantage — all in the service of hearing what writers are actually trying to tell us."
danilwillingham  howweread  reading  audiobooks  literacy  print  audio  listening 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Ida Bae Wells on Twitter: "Probably the most amazing thing that has come from me working on my book is how researching and writing it has proven so revelatory for *me.* I’ve come to understand in such a profound way how racism is at its heart and above
"Probably the most amazing thing that has come from me working on my book is how researching and writing it has proven so revelatory for *me.* I’ve come to understand in such a profound way how racism is at its heart and above all else a capitalist endeavor.

THIS is why our schools are unequal. Black children, black people, from the beginning, were never intended to be able to compete with white labor and white success. Our schools were and are designed to ensure that on scale, this will never happen, that we will serve not rule.

I’ve my whole life been trying to understand the why of racism. Why this hatred? Why couldn’t block people simply be left alone to thrive? Why the intentional destruction and neglect t of our businesses, schools, our neighborhoods, our *dreams*...

And, my God, tracing the denial of literacy,education from slavery until now, it has become starkly clear to me in a way that it never had been before. I knew, but I did not know. One can look at Detroit, NYC, Newark, LA and see nothing is broken. It is all operating as designed.

As famous abolitionist once said: That which is illegitimate from its beginning cannot be made so simply by the passage of time."
education  slavery  history  capitalism  economics  2018  race  racism  schools  schooling  literacy  srg  abolition  publicschools  nikolehannah-jones 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Hay que reconciliar al cine mexicano con su público: Fernanda Solórzano - El Sol de México
"ENCONTRAR VIRTUD EN LO COMPLEJO

Otro tema que para ella es importante a la hora de dignificar las películas que se hacen aquí es revisar la idea de que el cine es sólo una forma de entretenimiento, útil nada más para el escapismo y la evasión, sin dar oportunidad a las producciones que no tienen un mensaje cerrado y que apelan a que el espectador abra su inteligencia a distintas posibilidades de mensaje.

“A mí me gustaría que en las escuelas mismas se promoviera entre los niños la idea de que no todos tenemos que entender de inmediato los relatos sino que entre más preguntas puedan provocar más pueden enriquecer. Que seas capaz de salir de una película y la puedas comentar con alguien que quizá tenga un punto de vista distinto al tuyo, justamente porque no se les dio un mensaje definido…”

Reconoce que es un trabajo lento y que puede durar varias generaciones, pero que no hay nada como encontrarle virtud a lo complejo y entender que una película que te permite tener varias lecturas puede resultarte quizá más satisfactoria que una que no va a permitir que alguien te cambie tu propio punto de vista.

Y remarca: “El cine que más disfruto es el que me saca de mis certezas; el que me hace pensar y repensar mi realidad. Me choca darme cuenta de que me están manipulando. Me gusta que confíen en mi inteligencia. A mí me gusta que los directores también confíen en la inteligencia del público y el público en su propia inteligencia”.

LA COMEDIA ROMÁNTICA

Y de todo ese panorama destaca algo con lo que no está de acuerdo, la temática con la que se están haciendo algunas comedias mexicanas actuales, ya que le parece que refuerzan valores a los que como sociedad estamos tratando de oponernos, como el machismo o la homofobia, y que en este género suelen ser abordados como algo gracioso y normal.

“Voy a poner como ejemplo la cinta Qué culpa tiene el niño, cuya historia versa sobre una chica que en una fiesta queda embarazada, no sabe de quién porque estaba alcoholizada y entonces eso es presentado como chistoso, sin importar que es irresponsable que un hombre se aproveche de una mujer en esas condiciones”.

No ve que este tipo de producciones sean tan terribles y bajas como las sexy comedias de los años 80, donde los hombres literalmente violaban a las mujeres y nadie decía nada y todos se reían, pero asumen los mismos valores. “Obviamente son más sofisticadas estas comedias, son más pulidas, pero los chistes son los mismos, apelan al mismo tipo de moral, lo que me parece triste”.

LA ERA DIGITAL

Con respecto a los nuevos formatos de filmación y las modalidades de exhibición más allá de las salas cinematográficas, Fernanda percibe que ciertamente plantean nuevos problemas estéticos y económicos, lo cual también puede ser una oportunidad para que se abaraten las posibilidades de acceso para producir cine a quien actualmente no tiene los recursos para hacerlo.

“Al final lo importante es contar bien una historia y hacerlo estéticamente. Incluso hay historias que se pueden contar mejor en uno u otro formato. Por ejemplo, hay un director que filmó su primera película en iPhone, Tangerine, de Sean Baker, que fue muy premiada, y después decidió que su segunda producción se hiciera en 35 mm porque consideró que esa cinta no aguantaba lo digital y requería cierta profundidad. O sea hay narrativas para todo tipo de formato”.

Sobre el formato de miniseries, predominante en los servicios de streaming on line, la crítica de cine también los califica de oportunidad interesante. “A mí me gustan muchísimo, yo no las veo como un producto menor. Creo que muchos directores de cine, ante la imposibilidad de tener un presupuesto tan alto, están experimentando. Y pongo cono ejemplo la serie Un extraño enemigo de Gabriel Ripstein, que me pareció muy buena, bien contada, bien narrada y muy acentuada, a pesar de que era muy difícil que una serie más sobre el 68 tuviera impacto”."
fernandasolórzano  conemexicano  education  schools  stories  film  filmmaking  storytelling  linearity  ambiguity  certainty  complexity  howwethink  conversation  interviews  race  racism  homophobia  digital  2018  literature  children  medialiteracy  literacy  teaching  howweteach  unschooling  deschooling  criticalthinking 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Is "Show Don't Tell" a Universal Truth or a Colonial Relic? | Literary Hub
"In his essay “The Storyteller” (1936), cultural critic Walter Benjamin mourns the death of oral and communal storytelling, taken over in modern history by the novel, the “birthplace of the solitary reader,” and information technology with a rise in capitalism. Yet, what Benjamin posits as the organic evolution of oral, communal practices of storytelling into modern modes of storytelling, consumed by a reader in “privacy,” is in fact, the understanding of a Western history of storytelling as a universal one. As Maggie Awadalla and Paul March-Russell suggest in the introduction to their anthology The Postcolonial Short Story (2012), many non-Western countries did not transition “organically” from oral to written storytelling with a rise in capitalism. For many formerly or currently colonized spaces like South Asia, Africa, Caribbean, American South and Native America, there has always existed a rich, vibrant tradition of oral storytelling, one that was marginalized, often violently, through an imposition of an allegedly modern, white Western language and culture. In their study, Postcolonial Studies: The Key Concepts (1998), Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin defend “orality” not as a cultural precondition that morphed into a more advanced written culture, but orality as a counterpart to writing, where both co-exist, complement and transform each other constantly. This coexistence of oral and written modes of storytelling continues to thrive in postcolonial spaces, including those of Asia and Africa.

In her now-canonical essay “Characteristics of Negro Expression” (1934), Zora Neale Hurston makes a strong case for the use of vernacular—especially dialect and rhythm—in Black writing. In his story collection, Creole Folktales (1988) and equally canonical co-authored essay, “In Praise of Creoleness” (1989), Patrick Chamoiseau offers a manifesto for Caribbean storytelling that aims to free itself of French colonial gaze by transforming Martinican-French literature through a militant use of Creole. And while not through cultural theories or essays, contemporary writers like Salman Rushdie, Vikram Chandra, Roxane Gay, Junot Díaz, and Edwidge Danticat, among others, bring a strong, self-conscious vernacular in their stories. Their fiction questions not only an allegedly mainstream Euro-American storytelling marked by narrative brevity and an economy of words, as lauded by Edgar Allan Poe, John Barth and Francine Prose in their critical writing, but also the dominance of visuality in many fiction writing workshops with their show-don’t-tell credo, bolstered by our cinematic and digital age with its preference for images over sounds."



"James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Sandra Cisneros, Gish Jen, Tiphanie Yanique, ZZ Packer, Rajesh Parameswaran—the list of contemporary writing affirming oral and aural alternatives over a sight-based focus of storytelling is long. And I haven’t even gotten started with poetry-in-color, including an aesthetic legacy of rhythm in writing spawned by Papa Césaire and the Négritude movement. What I’ve explored above is a brief sampler on a multifaceted use of orality that challenges the boundaries of a more standard Euro-American literary English with its emphasis on brevity, clarity, and good grammar. In playing persistently with language, sounds and syntax, multiethnic fiction does not shy away from “writing in scenes,” however, it does dethrone the reign of eyesight to stress the importance of other senses in fiction, and hearing in particular.

That said, the use of vernacular or dialect is far from unique to non-Western writers writing within or outside the West. Time and again, major writers across the world have challenged the status quo of a hegemonic language by using the vernacular in different ways. I’m thinking here of Shakespeare and Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s linguistic innovation within English and French respectively, and of pioneering poets like Kabir who used the vernacular in Bhakti poetry to challenge the rule of Sanskrit in medieval South Asian literature.

And yet, the examples of multiethnic fiction I’ve shared above have all been published in the last couple of decades, following complex literary and historic changes that include mid-20th century’s wave of decolonization that swept the “third world,” the Civil Rights Movement in the US, the institutionalization of Ethnic Studies in the American Academy, and the literary canon wars that followed. This recent, layered, global history has led to a higher visibility of non-white, non-Western voices in the Western metropolitan publication scenes of New York, London and Paris. The content within contemporary multiethnic fiction often talks of identity, home and displacement; they ask questions like who has power and voice and who gets marginalized or silenced, these ideas fleshed out obsessively in stories through plot, theme, form, language, or a combination.

Orality within fiction that is deliberately engaging with power dynamics between the West and non-West—as evident in the title of Rushdie’s story collection East, West—thus becomes more than just a stylistic device or virtuosity with craft. The shift in sensory focus within multiethnic fiction from images to sounds holds a mirror to our contemporary, complex literary history, guiding the reader further to ways in which these stories maybe constructed, read, or deconstructed. Orality here becomes a political stance, an ideological move reminding the reader over and again that what we consume as universal in story craft, literary history, or aesthetic taste is anything but universal."
orality  oraltradition  visual  via:vruba  2018  storytelling  walterbenjamin  culture  tradition  namratapoddar  globalsouth  maggieawadalla  paulmarch-russell  billashcroft  garethgriffiths  helentiffin  vernacular  zoranealehurston  creole  creoleness  folktales  writing  salmanrushdie  vikramchandra  junotdíaz  edwidgedanticat  edgarallanpoe  johnbarth  fancineprose  criticalwriting  howwewrite  literacy  multiliteracies  dialect  rhythm  patrickchamoiseau  caribbean  africa  asia  colonialism  english  alicewalker  imperialism  gishjen  jamesbaldwin  tonimorrison  tiphanieyanique  zzpacker  showdon'ttell  sandracisneros  roxanegay  ajeshparameswaran  négritude  papacésaire  haiti  aural  oral  sight  brevity  clarity  grammar  fiction  aimécésaire  martinique  léopoldsédarsenghor  léondamas  postcolonialism  louis-ferdinandceline  latinamerica  indigenous  canon 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Radical Tactics of the Offline Library on Vimeo
[parts of the video (from the introduction): "1. Libraries existed to copy data. Libraries as warehouses was a recent idea and not a very good one 2. The online world used to be considered rhizomatic but recent events have proven that it is actually quite arboretic and precarious. 3. A method of sharing files using hard drives is slow, but it is extremely resilient. This reversalism is a radical tactic agains draconian proprietarianism. 4. There are forces and trends that are working against portable libraries."]

[Book is here:
http://networkcultures.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/NN07_complete.pdf
http://networkcultures.org/blog/publication/no-07-radical-tactics-of-the-offline-library-henry-warwick/ ]

"The Radical Tactics of the Offline Library is based on the book "Radical Tactics: Reversalism and Personal Portable Libraries"
By Henry Warwick

The Personal Portable Library in its most simple form is a hard drive or USB stick containing a large collection of e-books, curated and archived by an individual user. The flourishing of the offline digital library is a response to the fact that truly private sharing of knowledge in the online realm is increasingly made impossible. While P2P sharing sites and online libraries with downloadable e-books are precarious, people are naturally led to an atavistic and reversalist workaround. The radical tactics of the offline: abandoning the online for more secure offline transfer. Taking inspiration from ancient libraries as copying centers and Sneakernet, Henry Warwick describes the future of the library as digital and offline. Radical Tactics: Reversalism and Personal Portable Libraries traces the history of the library and the importance of the Personal Portable Library in sharing knowledge and resisting proprietarian forces.

The library in Alexandria contained about 500,000 scrolls; the Library of Congress, the largest library in the history of civilization, contains about 35 million books. A digital version of it would fit on a 24 TB drive, which can be purchased for about $2000. Obviously, most people don’t need 35 million books. A small local library of 10,000 books could fit on a 64 GB thumb drive the size of a pack of chewing gum and costing perhaps $40. An astounding fact with immense implications. It is trivially simple to start collecting e-books, marshalling them into libraries on hard drives, and then to share the results. And it is much less trivially important. Sharing is caring. Societies where people share, especially ideas, are societies that will naturally flourish."
libraries  henrywarwick  archives  collection  digital  digitalmedia  ebooks  drm  documentary  librarians  alexandriaproject  copying  rhizomes  internet  online  sharing  files  p2p  proprietarianism  sneakernet  history  harddrives  learning  unschooling  property  deschooling  resistance  mesopotamia  egypt  alexandria  copies  decay  resilience  cv  projectideas  libraryofalexandria  books  scrolls  tablets  radicalism  literacy  printing  moveabletype  china  europe  publishing  2014  copyright  capitalism  canon  librarydevelopment  walterbenjamin  portability  andrewtanenbaum  portable  portablelibraries  félixguattari  cloudcomputing  politics  deleuze  deleuze&guattari  web  offline  riaa  greed  openstudioproject  lcproject 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Carol Black: Reclaiming Our Children, Reclaiming Our World - YouTube
"Carol Black directed the documentary film Schooling the World, which describes how western-style schools help destroy indigenous cultures worldwide. This talk was given at ISEC's Economics of Happiness conference in Berkeley, California, in March 2012."
carolblack  unschooling  deschooling  economics  humans  learning  howwelearn  schools  schooling  brains  development  children  education  agesegregation  us  history  literacy  standardization  centralization  publicschools  corporations  corporatism  compulsory  control  power  agesegregaton  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  2012 
october 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
Isis Lecture (Lecture given at the Oxford Literary festival in 2003 ) - Philip Pullman
[from this page: http://www.philip-pullman.com/writings

"This was the first extended piece I wrote about education. I wanted to say what I thought had gone wrong with it, and suggest some better ways of doing things. The lecture was given during the Oxford Literary Festival in 2003."]

"I’m going to talk about culture this afternoon, in the widest sense; about education and the arts, especially literature. It’s my contention that something has gone bad, something has gone wrong in the state of education, and that we can see this very clearly in the way schools deal with books, and reading, and writing – with everything that has to do with literature, and the making of it. When more and more good teachers are leaving the profession in disillusion and disappointment; when the most able undergraduates are taking one look at a career in teaching, and deciding that it offers no scope for their talents, and turning away to do something else; when school headships are proving harder and harder to fill – then we’re doing something wrong.

I think it boils down to this: that education now is suffused with the wrong emotion. Somehow, over the past quarter of a century, ever since James Callaghan’s famous Great Debate speech, we have seen confidence leaking away, and something else slowly seeping in to take its place. What that something else is, I shall come to near the end. No doubt some of the confidence was misplaced; no doubt we needed a Great Debate. But I think the benefits that came from it have long since been exhausted. It’s time for another way of doing things.

So first of all, I’m going to look at what’s happening now, and I’m going right in to the glowing, radioactive core at the heart of the engine that drives the whole thing: the National Curriculum and the SATs. I won’t spend too long on these things, but we do need to look at the actual stuff to get a flavour of the thought behind it, and this is what the Qualifications Curriculum Authority says about the Reading part of the English tests at Key Stage 2 – that means, in human language, at age 11.

They think that reading consists of using a range of strategies to decode, selecting, retrieving, deducing, inferring, interpreting, identifying and commenting on the structure and organisation of texts, identifying and commenting on the writer’s purposes and viewpoints, relating texts to the social, cultural and historical contexts.

That’s it. That’s all. Nothing else. That’s what they want children of 11 to do when they read. They don’t seem to know that reading can also be enjoyed, because enjoyment just doesn’t feature in the list of things you have to do.

Mind you, it’s just as well that they don’t have to enjoy it, because they’re not likely to have a copy of the books anyway. In another unit of work – 46 pages, to get through in a fortnight – they are to study Narrative Structure. The work’s built around two short stories and part of a novel. It’s not expected – this is interesting – that the children will have their own copies of the complete texts, though some pages may be extracted and photocopied.

But the whole book doesn’t matter very much either, because books exist in order to be taken apart and laid out in pieces like Lego. One of the things the children have to do in this unit of work is to make a class list of “the features of a good story opening.” This is where it stops being merely tedious, and starts being mendacious as well. The teacher is asked to model the writing of an alternative first paragraph for one of the stories. The instructions say “Read through the finished writing together. Check this against the criteria for a good opening – does it fulfil all of these?”

I can’t say it clearly enough: this is not how it works. Writing doesn’t happen like this. What does happen like this is those Hollywood story-structure courses, where there are seven rules for this, and five principles of that, and eight bullet-points to check when constructing the second-act climax. You cannot write a good story by building up a list of effective openings. It is telling children a lie to say that this is the way you write stories. Apart from anything else, it’s profoundly vulgar.

Then there is the Reading Journal, which children have to keep. Among other things, they have to:

List the words and phrases used to create an atmosphere

Write a fifty word summary of a whole plot

Pick a descriptive word from the text and, using a thesaurus, write down five synonyms and antonyms for that word

And so on. What concerns me here is the relationship this sets up between child and book, between children and stories. Stories are written to beguile, to entertain, to amuse, to move, to enchant, to horrify, to delight, to anger, to make us wonder. They are not written so that we can make a fifty word summary of the whole plot, or find five synonyms for the descriptive words. That sort of thing would make you hate reading, and turn away from such a futile activity with disgust. In the words of Ruskin, it’s “slaves’ work, unredeemed.”

Those who design this sort of thing seem to have completely forgotten the true purpose of literature, the everyday, humble, generous intention that lies behind every book, every story, every poem: to delight or to console, to help us enjoy life or endure it. That’s the true reason we should be giving books to children. The false reason is to make them analyse, review, comment and so on.

But they have to do it – day in, day out, hour after hour, this wretched system nags and pesters and buzzes at them, like a great bluebottle laden with pestilence. And then all the children have to do a test; and that’s when things get worse."



"So said Ruskin in 1853. Again, we didn’t listen. Ruskin went on to point out that when you do trust people to act for themselves, they are free to make mistakes, to blunder and fail; but there is the possibility of majesty too. Do we want human beings teaching our children, with all their faults and follies and limitations, but with all their depth and grandeur as well? Or do we want managers, who are glib and fluent in the language of audits and targets and performance indicators and mission statements, but who are baffled by true originality, who flinch and draw back from it as if it were deadly poison?

The extraordinary thing is that they are the same people. They could all be free, if they chose. Some of the young people who come into teaching may be timid and narrow-minded, but don’t think for a moment that I think that they’re not capable of courage and curiosity. They’ve never had a chance to show it; their teachers are afraid themselves. Marilyn Mottram of the University of Central England in Birmingham, who has been studying the way the National Curriculum and the Literacy Strategy work in schools, wrote to me last month: “When I work with teachers on developing ways of using texts I’m frequently asked ‘… but are we allowed to do that?’ This sort of continuing anxiety about literacy teaching,” she goes on, “suggests that a culture of conformity has been quite securely established among our primary teachers and, like many others, I find this deeply disturbing.”

These young people are tigers born in cages, and kept caged until they think that being caged is a natural condition; and they look down at themselves, and they see their magnificent stripes, and the only way they can understand them is to think that they themselves must be made of bars: they are their own cage; they dare not move outside the little space they occupy. But they are tigers still, if only they knew."



"So here are five steps we should take, starting right now.

Do away with these incessant tests; they only tell you things you don’t need to know, and make the children do things they don’t need to do.

Abolish the league tables, which are an abomination.

Cut class sizes in every school in the country. No child should ever be in a class bigger than twenty.

Make teaching a profession that the most gifted, the most imaginative, the most well-informed people will clamour to join; and make the job so rewarding that none of them will
want to stop teaching until they drop.

Make this the golden rule, the equivalent of the Hippocratic oath: Everything we ask a child to do should be something intrinsically worth doing.

If we do those five things, we will not bring about a golden age, or an earthly paradise; there are more things wrong with the world than we can cure by changing a system of schooling. But if we get education right, it would show that we were being serious about living and thinking and understanding ourselves; it would show that we were paying our children the compliment of assuming that they were serious too; and it would acknowledge that the path to true learning begins nowhere else but in delight, and the words on the signpost say: “Once upon a time …”"
philippullman  education  canon  teaching  writing  howwelearn  howweread  howweteach  howwewrite  reading  literature  management  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  schooling  policy  curriculum  culture  society  meaning  johnruskin  learning  schools  pedagogy  literacy  purpose  life  living  pleasure  via:derek  storytelling  stories  fear  intrinsicmotivation  children  self-esteem  self-confidence  language  communication  time  slow  results  accountability  measurement  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  2003 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Wendell Berry: Budget cuts to University Press of Kentucky 'barbaric'
"Like a good many others these days, I would welcome an earnest public discussion about education. What is it now? What should it be? What is the right ratio of its cost to its worth? Perhaps the discussion could begin with the proposition that to be properly human our species should include a significant number of politicians and others who are competently literate, which means in part having a familiar and usable knowledge of literature and history.

Though I have doubts and questions about our state’s system of education, I am its product, its sometime employee, and in many ways its beneficiary. As such, and as a tax-paying citizen, I want to say that the part of this system that has most steadily served the great cause of literacy in my lifetime has been the University Press of Kentucky, which is now marked for destruction by one of Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget cuts that is both petty and barbaric. If it should happen, this destruction would amount to an act of censorship, for the knowledge made available by the Press belongs to the people of Kentucky, to readers now and to come. It is a part of our commonwealth, which the governor and the government are entrusted to protect, not destroy.

In defending the Press, I have in mind the geographic, economic and historical uniqueness of Kentucky. Perhaps no other state is so regionally divided as ours. Perhaps there is no other where the interests of agriculture, industry and urban development have competed so hurtfully. No other state’s experience of the Civil War closely resembled ours, and no others suffered its influences in the way we have. And so our need for books about our land and our people, our history and natural history, our political and economic life, is not going to be adequately served by the great commercial publishing companies, or by the university presses of other states. That need can only be served, and it has been admirably served, by The University Press of Kentucky.

Because we have sustained that press for 75 years with a very modest investment of public money, we have The Kentucky Encyclopedia and Lowell Harrison’s and James Klotter’s New History of Kentucky, books that have the distinction of being indispensable to Kentucky students young and old; and we have in print books by James Still, Harlan Hubbard, Jim Wayne Miller, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Crystal Wilkinson that will be needed by coming generations of literate Kentuckians. Any concerned citizens who want to understand this state as it was and now is, and how it became what it now is, will find themselves immediately and continuously indebted to the University Press of Kentucky.

We have this priceless asset, not only at a small monetary cost, but also by the efforts freely given over many years by our state’s dedicated teachers and scholars. Foremost among these, as literate Kentuckians would expect, was Thomas D. Clark. As one of his hundreds of students and friends, I knew Dr. Clark fairly well. He was, by any measure, an eminent historian and teacher. He was also one of this state’s preeminent public servants. According to his entry in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, he “started [the University of Kentucky] library’s Special Collection;” he “was the primary mover behind the founding of a state archives;” and he “was in the vanguard of the movement that established the University of Kentucky Press in 1943 and the University Press of Kentucky in 1968.”

In the lists of the Press’ officers and the members of its board and committees, I find names of men and women I knew and respected, and names of others I knew only by reputation and respected. Among them, I am most touched by the name of Thomas B. Stroup. Of all the teachers I had at the University of Kentucky, he was the one who was most demanding, who therefore taught me most, and is therefore the one to whom I am most grateful. Though he was not specialized in his love of literature, he taught especially the work of John Milton and other poets of the seventeenth century. One time I heard him say to a quarrelsome student: “Of course I think this is important! Why else would I have devoted my life to it?” He said “devoted.”

To destroy the University Press of Kentucky, as our governor now proposes to do, may be required to uphold our state’s reputation for ignorance, but it is not required by poverty. The sum to be withheld is a small fraction of what we pay into the salaries of university administrators. But of all that is to be considered, what is most heart-sickening to me is to see the devoted work of such people as Dr. Clark and Dr. Stroup officially appraised as worthless."
wendellberry  universitypressofkentucky  education  kentucky  economics  money  priorities  publishing  2018  literacy  mattbevin  books 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Survival of the Kindest: Dacher Keltner Reveals the New Rules of Power
"When Pixar was dreaming up the idea for Inside Out, a film that would explore the roiling emotions inside the head of a young girl, they needed guidance from an expert. So they called Dacher Keltner.

Dacher is a psychologist at UC Berkeley who has dedicated his career to understanding how human emotion shapes the way we interact with the world, how we properly manage difficult or stressful situations, and ultimately, how we treat one another.

In fact, he refers to emotions as the “language of social living.” The more fluent we are in this language, the happier and more meaningful our lives can be.

We tackle a wide variety of topics in this conversation that I think you’ll really enjoy.

You’ll learn:

• The three main drivers that determine your personal happiness and life satisfaction
• Simple things you can do everyday to jumpstart the “feel good” reward center of your brain
• The principle of “jen” and how we can use “high-jen behaviors” to bootstrap our own happiness
• How to have more positive influence in our homes, at work and in our communities.
• How to teach your kids to be more kind and empathetic in an increasingly self-centered world
• What you can do to stay grounded and humble if you are in a position of power or authority
• How to catch our own biases when we’re overly critical of another’s ideas (or overconfident in our own)

And much more. We could have spent an hour discussing any one of these points alone, but there was so much I wanted to cover. I’m certain you’ll find this episode well worth your time."
compassion  kindness  happiness  dacherkeltner  power  charlesdarwin  evolution  psychology  culture  society  history  race  racism  behavior  satisfaction  individualism  humility  authority  humans  humanism  morality  morals  multispecies  morethanhuman  objects  wisdom  knowledge  heidegger  ideas  science  socialdarwinism  class  naturalselection  egalitarianism  abolitionism  care  caring  art  vulnerability  artists  scientists  context  replicability  research  socialsciences  2018  statistics  replication  metaanalysis  socialcontext  social  borntobegood  change  human  emotions  violence  evolutionarypsychology  slvery  rape  stevenpinker  torture  christopherboehm  hunter-gatherers  gender  weapons  democracy  machiavelli  feminism  prisons  mentalillness  drugs  prisonindustrialcomplex  progress  politics  1990s  collaboration  canon  horizontality  hierarchy  small  civilization  cities  urban  urbanism  tribes  religion  dogma  polygamy  slavery  pigeons  archaeology  inequality  nomads  nomadism  anarchism  anarchy  agriculture  literacy  ruleoflaw  humanrights  governance  government  hannah 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Four Moves – Adventures in fact-checking for students
[from: https://tinyletter.com/michaelcaulfield/letters/traces-40-force-of-impact ]

"So -- shameless self-promotion: I've launched the Four Moves blog. It's a site that has short web info literacy tasks you can use in your class. They are usually structured with a skills in the front, discussion in the back pedagogy that I've found works. I am going to try to add examples daily, with solution write-ups following within a week or so. The comments go to permanent moderation, not displayed on the site, so I encourage you to have your students submit their answers to use so that we can assess and improve the materials.

For those forgetting, the four moves are:

• Check for previous work
• Go upstream to the source
• Read laterally
• Circle back"
digitalliteracy  medialiteracy  media  culture  literacy  mikecaulfield  factchecking  2018  bullshitdetection 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Ask Dr. Time: Orality and Literacy from Homer to Twitter
"So, as to the original question: are Twitter and texting new forms of orality? I have a simple answer and a complex one, but they’re both really the same.

The first answer is so lucid and common-sense, you can hardly believe that it’s coming from Dr. Time: if it’s written, it ain’t oral. Orality requires speech, or song, or sound. Writing is visual. If it’s visual and only visual, it’s not oral.

The only form of genuine speech that’s genuinely visual and not auditory is sign language. And sign language is speech-like in pretty much every way imaginable: it’s ephemeral, it’s interactive, there’s no record, the signs are fluid. But even most sign language is at least in part chirographic, i.e., dependent on writing and written symbols. At least, the sign languages we use today: although our spoken/vocal languages are pretty chirographic too.

Writing, especially writing in a hyperliterate society, involves a transformation of the sensorium that privileges vision at the expense of hearing, and privileges reading (especially alphabetic reading) over other forms of visual interpretation and experience. It makes it possible to take in huge troves of information in a limited amount of time. We can read teleprompters and ticker-tape, street signs and medicine bottles, tweets and texts. We can read things without even being aware we’re reading them. We read language on the move all day long: social media is not all that different.

Now, for a more complicated explanation of that same idea, we go back to Father Ong himself. For Ong, there’s a primary orality and a secondary orality. The primary orality, we’ve covered; secondary orality is a little more complicated. It’s not just the oral culture of people who’ve got lots of experience with writing, but of people who’ve developed technologies that allow them to create new forms of oral communication that are enabled by writing.

The great media forms of secondary orality are the movies, television, radio, and the telephone. All of these are oral, but they’re also modern media, which means the media reshapes it in its own image: they squeeze your toothpaste through its tube. But they’re also transformative forms of media in a world that’s dominated by writing and print, because they make it possible to get information in new ways, according to new conventions, and along different sensory channels.

Walter Ong died in 2003, so he never got to see social media at its full flower, but he definitely was able to see where electronic communications was headed. Even in the 1990s, people were beginning to wonder whether interactive chats on computers fell under Ong’s heading of “secondary orality.” He gave an interview where he tried to explain how he saw things — as far as I know, relatively few people have paid attention to it (and the original online source has sadly linkrotted away):
“When I first used the term ‘secondary orality,’ I was thinking of the kind of orality you get on radio and television, where oral performance produces effects somewhat like those of ‘primary orality,’ the orality using the unprocessed human voice, particularly in addressing groups, but where the creation of orality is of a new sort. Orality here is produced by technology. Radio and television are ‘secondary’ in the sense that they are technologically powered, demanding the use of writing and other technologies in designing and manufacturing the machines which reproduce voice. They are thus unlike primary orality, which uses no tools or technology at all. Radio and television provide technologized orality. This is what I originally referred to by the term ‘secondary orality.’

I have also heard the term ‘secondary orality’ lately applied by some to other sorts of electronic verbalization which are really not oral at all—to the Internet and similar computerized creations for text. There is a reason for this usage of the term. In nontechnologized oral interchange, as we have noted earlier, there is no perceptible interval between the utterance of the speaker and the hearer’s reception of what is uttered. Oral communication is all immediate, in the present. Writing, chirographic or typed, on the other hand, comes out of the past. Even if you write a memo to yourself, when you refer to it, it’s a memo which you wrote a few minutes ago, or maybe two weeks ago. But on a computer network, the recipient can receive what is communicated with no such interval. Although it is not exactly the same as oral communication, the network message from one person to another or others is very rapid and can in effect be in the present. Computerized communication can thus suggest the immediate experience of direct sound. I believe that is why computerized verbalization has been assimilated to secondary ‘orality,’ even when it comes not in oral-aural format but through the eye, and thus is not directly oral at all. Here textualized verbal exchange registers psychologically as having the temporal immediacy of oral exchange. To handle [page break] such technologizing of the textualized word, I have tried occasionally to introduce the term ‘secondary literacy.’ We are not considering here the production of sounded words on the computer, which of course are even more readily assimilated to ‘secondary orality’” (80-81).

So tweets and text messages aren’t oral. They’re secondarily literate. Wait, that sounds horrible! How’s this: they’re artifacts and examples of secondary literacy. They’re what literacy looks like after television, the telephone, and the application of computing technologies to those communication forms. Just as orality isn’t the same after you’ve introduced writing, and manuscript isn’t the same after you’ve produced print, literacy isn’t the same once you have networked orality. In this sense, Twitter is the necessary byproduct of television.

Now, where this gets really complicated is with stuff like Siri and Alexa, and other AI-driven, natural-language computing interfaces. This is almost a tertiary orality, voice after texting, and certainly voice after interactive search. I’d be inclined to lump it in with secondary orality in that broader sense of technologically-mediated orality. But it really does depend how transformative you think client- and cloud-side computing, up to and including AI, really are. I’m inclined to say that they are, and that Alexa is doing something pretty different from what the radio did in the 1920s and 30s.

But we have to remember that we’re always much more able to make fine distinctions about technology deployed in our own lifetime, rather than what develops over epochs of human culture. Compared to that collision of oral and literate cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean that gave us poetry, philosophy, drama, and rhetoric in the classical period, or the nexus of troubadours, scholastics, printers, scientific meddlers and explorers that gave us the Renaissance, our own collision of multiple media cultures is probably quite small.

But it is genuinely transformative, and it is ours. And some days it’s as charming to think about all the ways in which our heirs will find us completely unintelligible as it is to imagine the complex legacy we’re bequeathing them."
2018  timcarmody  classics  homer  literature  poetry  literacy  orality  odyssey  walterong  secondaryorality  writing  texting  sms  twitter  socialmedia  technology  language  communication  culture  oraltradition  media  film  speech  signlanguage  asl  tv  television  radio  telephones  phones 
january 2018 by robertogreco
////////// from “Commitment from the Mirror-Writing Box,” Trinh T. Minh-Ha, Woman, Native, Other
"Nothing could be more normative, more logical, and more authoritarian than, for example, the (politically) revolutionary poetry or prose that speaks of revolution in the form of commands or in the well-behaved, steeped-in-convention-language of “clarity.” (”A wholesome, clear, and direct language” is said to be “the fulcrum to move the mass or to sanctify it.”) Clear expression, often equated with correct expression, has long been the criterion set forth in treatises on rhetoric, whose aim was to order discourse so as to persuade. The language of Taoism and Zen, for example, which is perfectly accessible but rife with paradox does not qualify as “clear” (paradox is “illogical” and “nonsensical” to many Westerners), for its intent lies outside the realm of persuasion. The same holds true for vernacular speech, which is not acquired through institutions — schools, churches, professions, etc. — and therefore not repressed by either grammatical rules, technical terms, or key words. Clarity as a purely rhetorical attribute serves the purpose of a classical feature in language, namely, its instrumentality. To write is to communicate, express, witness, impose, instruct, redeem, or save — at any rate to mean and to send out an unambiguous message. Writing thus reduced to a mere vehicle of thought may be used to orient toward a goal or to sustain an act, but it does not constitute an act in itself. This is how the division between the writer/the intellectual and the activists/the masses becomes possible. To use the language well, says the voice of literacy, cherish its classic form. Do not choose the offbeat at the cost of clarity. Obscurity is an imposition on the reader. True, but beware when you cross railroad tracks for one train may hide another train. Clarity is a means of subjection, a quality both of official, taught language and of correct writing, two old mates of power; together they flow, together they flower, vertically, to impose an order. Let us not forget that writers who advocate the instrumentality of language are often those who cannot or choose not to see the suchness of things — a language as language — and therefore, continue to preach conformity to the norms of well-behaved writing: principles of composition, style, genre, correction, and improvement. To write “clearly,” one must incessantly prune, eliminate, forbid, purge, purify; in other words, practice what may be called an “ablution of language” (Roland Barthes)."

— from “Commitment from the Mirror-Writing Box,” Trinh T. Minh-Ha, Woman, Native, Other

[See also PDF of full text in a couple of places:
http://www.sjsu.edu/people/julie.hawker/courses/c1/s2/Trinh-T-Minh-ha-1989.pdf
https://lmthomasucsd.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/minh-ha-reading.pdf ]
trinhminh-ha  rolandbarthes  literacy  clarity  writing  language  taoism  zen  buddhism  persuasion  authority  authoritarianism  power  control  tradition  poetry  prose  canon  rhetoric  grammar  rules  expression  classics  communication  subjection  instrumentality  beauty  style  genre  composition  correction  improvement  purification  speech  vernacular  schools  churches  professions  professionalism  convention  conventions 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Jonathan Mooney: "The Gift: LD/ADHD Reframed" - YouTube
"The University of Oregon Accessible Education Center and AccessABILITY Student Union present renowned speaker, neuro-diversity activist and author Jonathan Mooney.

Mooney vividly, humorously and passionately brings to life the world of neuro-diversity: the research behind it, the people who live in it and the lessons it has for all of us who care about the future of education. Jonathan explains the latest theories and provides concrete examples of how to prepare students and implement frameworks that best support their academic and professional pursuits. He blends research and human interest stories with concrete tips that parents, students, teachers and administrators can follow to transform learning environments and create a world that truly celebrates cognitive diversity."
neurodiversity  2012  jonathanmooney  adhd  cognition  cognitivediversity  sfsh  accessibility  learning  education  differences  howwelearn  disability  difference  specialeducation  highered  highereducation  dyslexia  droputs  literacy  intelligence  motivation  behavior  compliance  stillness  norms  shame  brain  success  reading  multiliteracies  genius  smartness  eq  emotions  relationships  tracking  maryannewolf  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  punishment  rewards  psychology  work  labor  kids  children  schools  agency  brokenness  fixingpeople  unschooling  deschooling  strengths  strengths-basedoutlook  assets  deficits  identity  learningdisabilities  schooling  generalists  specialists  howardgardner  howweteach  teams  technology  support  networks  inclusivity  diversity  accommodations  normal  average  standardization  standards  dsm  disabilities  bodies  body 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Children learning to read later catch up to children reading earlier
"Two studies from English-speaking samples investigated the methodologically difficult question of whether the later reading achievement of children learning to read earlier or later differs. Children (n = 287) from predominantly state-funded schools were selected and they differed in whether the reading instruction age (RIA) was either five or seven years. Study 1 covered the first six years of school following three cohorts across a two-year design. Analyses accounted for receptive vocabulary, reported parental income and education, school-community affluence, classroom instruction, home literacy environment, reading self-concept, and age. The earlier RIA group had initially superior letter naming, non-word, word, and passage reading but this difference in reading skill disappeared by age 11. In Study 2, the decoding, fluency, and reading comprehension performance of 83 additional middle school-age children was compared. The two groups exhibited similar reading fluency, but the later RIA had generally greater reading comprehension. Given that the design was non-experimental, we urge further research to better understand developmental patterns and influences arising from different RIAs."

[via: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/924722413840908288 ]
education  reading  2012  learning  children  fluency  literacy 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Ellen Ullman: Life in Code: "A Personal History of Technology" | Talks at Google - YouTube
"The last twenty years have brought us the rise of the internet, the development of artificial intelligence, the ubiquity of once unimaginably powerful computers, and the thorough transformation of our economy and society. Through it all, Ellen Ullman lived and worked inside that rising culture of technology, and in Life in Code she tells the continuing story of the changes it wrought with a unique, expert perspective.

When Ellen Ullman moved to San Francisco in the early 1970s and went on to become a computer programmer, she was joining a small, idealistic, and almost exclusively male cadre that aspired to genuinely change the world. In 1997 Ullman wrote Close to the Machine, the now classic and still definitive account of life as a coder at the birth of what would be a sweeping technological, cultural, and financial revolution.

Twenty years later, the story Ullman recounts is neither one of unbridled triumph nor a nostalgic denial of progress. It is necessarily the story of digital technology’s loss of innocence as it entered the cultural mainstream, and it is a personal reckoning with all that has changed, and so much that hasn’t. Life in Code is an essential text toward our understanding of the last twenty years—and the next twenty."
ellenullman  bias  algorithms  2017  technology  sexism  racism  age  ageism  society  exclusion  perspective  families  parenting  mothers  programming  coding  humans  humanism  google  larrypage  discrimination  self-drivingcars  machinelearning  ai  artificialintelligence  literacy  reading  howweread  humanities  education  publicschools  schools  publicgood  libertarianism  siliconvalley  generations  future  pessimism  optimism  hardfun  kevinkelly  computing 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Virginia Heffernan on Learning to Read the Internet, Not Live in It | WIRED
"Anxiety is much more than a rookie response to internet-borne humiliation and weakness; sometimes it seems like the animating principle of the entire commercial web. That’s part of the reason for our decade-old retreat to apps, where McModern design and the illusion of walls seems like a hedge against the malware and rabble of the original web metropolis.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So imagine: Twitter does not resemble a real mob any more than a teddy bear resembles a grizzly. If you really go nuts and nuzzle up to a teddy, I guess you could swallow a button eye, but you’re not going to get mauled. Tell this to your poor rattled central nervous system as many times a day as you can remember. Make it your mantra, and throw away the benzos. Nothing on your phone alone can hurt you more than a teddy bear."
internetismyfavoritebook  virginiaheffernan  literature  literacy  internet  web  online  twitter  instagram  cv  2017  via:davidtedu  socialmedia  howweread  internetculture  trolls  blockchain  bitcoin  youtube  anxiety  drones  technology  cyberwarfare  cyberattacks  uncanneyvalley  presentationofself  reality  fiction  fictions  multiliteracies 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Full Circle Literary
"Full Circle Literary is a full-service literary agency, offering a full circle approach to literary representation. Our team has diverse experience in book publishing including editorial, marketing, publicity, legal and rights, which we use collectively to build careers book by book.

We work with both award-winning veteran and debut writers and illustrators, and our team has a knack for finding and developing new and diverse talent. We work with writers and illustrators from development of concepts and proposals for submission to championing a book into the hands of readers. Our titles have received awards and honors from the American Library Association, National Book Critics’ Circle, Children’s Book Council, Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators, National Council of Teachers of English, International Reading Association, and many more.

Visit our Who We Represent pages to learn more about our amazing Illustrators, Picture Book, Middle Grade/Young Adult and Adult Fiction/Nonfiction writers. Please visit Our Agents to learn more about our team and Submit to Us page for submission guidelines. Keep up with news, writing tips and our latest releases on our Twitter and News.

A SELECTION OF OUR LATEST DEAL HIGHLIGHTS:

Mexican author-illustrator Tania de Regil’s picture book debut, A NEW HOME, which tells the story of a boy’s move from New York City to Mexico City and a girl’s simultaneous move from Mexico City to New York City, to Carter Hasegawa at Candlewick, in a two-book deal at auction for publication in 2019, by Adriana Dominguez.

Emma Otheguy’s SILVER MEADOWS SUMMER, in which an eleven-year-old moves with her family from Puerto Rico to upstate New York so her father can find work; in their new home, her parents encourage her to assimilate by sending her to summer camp, to Jenny Brown at Knopf Children’s, for publication in Spring 2019, by Adriana Dominguez.

Sylvia Acevedo’s THE SKY’S THE LIMIT, a middle grade memoir by Latina rocket scientist and CEO of Girls Scouts of the USA, whose early life was transformed by the Girl Scouts and Head Start, to Anne Hoppe at Clarion, for publication in English and Spanish in Fall 2018, by Adriana Dominguez.

New from 2017 Stonewall Honor Author! Anna-Marie McLemore’s BLANCA & ROJA, a magical realist Snow-White & Rose-Red meets Swan Lake, in which two sisters become rivals in a game that will turn the losing girl into a swan, to Kat Brzozowski at Feiwel and Friends by Taylor Martindale Kean.

Rafael López to illustrate WE’VE GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN OUR HANDS, a picture book celebration of what connects us all, with text adapted from the original song lyrics, to Ken Geist at Scholastic by Adriana Dominguez and Stefanie Von Borstel.

Diana Lopez’s middle grade book COCO inspired by Disney*Pixar’s forthcoming film, Coco, featuring original content, to Brittany Rubiano at Disney, for publication in October 2017, by Stefanie Von Borstel.

West coast chef Isabel Cruz’s ISABEL’S CANTINA, featuring brand new recipes in her signature style of easy but flavorful Latin meals, as well as the secrets to her cocktails and the most popular dishes at her restaurants, with photography by Southern California/Baja photographer Jaime Frisch, to Nicole Frail at Skyhorse,for publication in Spring 2018, by Lilly Ghahremani.

Author-Illustrator Tony Piedra’s debut picture book, THE GREATEST ADVENTURE, about a boy and his grandfather who find adventure in unexpected ways, to Arthur Levine at Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books, in a preempt, by Adriana Dominguez.

Celia C. Pérez’s illustrated middle grade debut THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK, in which a girl named Malú causes a bit of anarchy at Posada Middle School when she starts a punk band, to Joanna Cardenas at Viking at auction, in a two-book deal, by Stefanie Von Borstel.

Sylvie Frank at Simon & Schuster has bought world rights to a picture book biography about a little-known journalist by Lisa Cline-Ransome, with 2016 SCBWI Golden Kite winner John Parra illustrating, by Adriana Dominguez and Stefanie Von Borstel representing the artist.

Artist Lisa Congdon to illustrate Emily Trunko’s DEAR MY BLANK, a curated collection of anonymous letters that people never intend to or don’t have the courage to send, from the wildly popular Tumblr of the same name, to Emily Easton at Crown Children’s, for publication in fall 2016, by Stefanie Von Borstel.

2016 William C. Morris Award Finalist THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS author Anna-Marie McLemore‘s newest novel of magical realism WILD BEAUTY, in which the women of a family tend the lush estate gardens they’ve grown for generations, until the reemergence of a family curse that makes the men they love disappear, again to Kat Brzozowski at Macmillan, by Taylor Martindale Kean.

Shauna LaVoy Reynolds‘ POETREE, about a little girl who writes poems for a tree and thinks that the tree is responding, only to discover that another child in her class is actually the one writing back, to Namrata Tripathi at Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin, at auction, by Adriana Dominguez.

Toni Buzzeo‘s FINDER, a picture book biography of Sue Hendrickson, the explorer who discovered the largest and best-preserved T.rex ever found, to be illustrated by Diana Sudyka, who volunteers at the Chicago Field Museum, where Sue the T.rex is housed, to Tamar Brazis at Abrams by Stefanie Von Borstel.

Jennifer Ward’s MAMA DUG A LITTLE DEN, illustrated by Caldecott Honor recipient Steve Jenkins, a companion to MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST, featuring the many kinds of dens and burrows animals make for their little ones, for publication in spring 2018, to Andrea Welch at Beach Lane Books by Stefanie Von Borstel.

Dawn Dais‘s THE SH!T NO ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT BABY #2: A Guide to Surviving Your Growing Family and BEING A WORKING MOM: A Guide to Sucking at Everything, in THE SH!T NO ONE TELLS YOU parenting series, to Laura Mazer at Seal Press, in a two-book deal, by Lilly Ghahremani.

Beth Terrill at NorthSouth Books has acquired Monica Brown’s FRIDA AND HER ANIMALITOS, to be illustrated by Pura Belpré Honor winner John Parra, about Frida Kahlo and her animal muses. Publication is planned for fall 2017 in simultaneous English-language, Spanish-language and German editions; Stefanie Von Borstel brokered the deal for world rights, representing both the author and illustrator. Monica Brown and John Parra’s last collaboration, WAITING FOR THE BIBLIOBURRO, was awarded The Christopher Award and will be published in a bilingual English-and Spanish-language edition by Random House in November 2016.

Juana Martinez-Neal‘s debut picture book, ALMA, to Mary Lee Donovan at Candlewick Press, in a two-book, six-figure deal, in a seven-publisher auction, by Stefanie Von Borstel. Candlewick will publish both a hardcover English- and Spanish-language edition in 2018; a second untitled picture book will follow.

DARKROOM author Lila Quintero Weaver‘s THAT YEAR IN THE MIDDLE ROW, set in Alabama in 1970 against the backdrop of school integration and the Wallace/Brewer gubernatorial primary, in which a girl who is the school’s only Latina student discovers a love for running and figures out who she wants to be — and what kind of friends she wants to have –during one tumultuous school year, to Andrea Tompa at Candlewick, for publication in spring 2018, by Adriana Dominguez.

Traci Todd at Abrams has bought the first two picture books both written and illustrated by boygirlparty artist Susie Ghahremani. Inspired by her bestselling “cat pile” clothing line, STACK THE CATS is a playful introduction to early math concepts using cats. The second picture book features other popular characters from boygirlparty apparel, stationery and gifts. Publication is set for spring 2017 and spring 2018; Stefanie Von Borstel negotiated the deal for world rights.

Diana Rodriguez Wallach‘s new Anastasia Phoenix series, in which a girl goes on an international hunt for her missing sister who everyone says is dead, and finds that everything she knows about her family is not only a lie, but embroiled in criminal espionage, to Alycia Tornetta at Entangled Teen, in a three-book deal, by Taylor Martindale Kean.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST author Jennifer Ward‘s HOW TO FIND A BIRD, celebrating the joy in finding and observing the many types of birds in nature, to Andrea Welch at Beach Lane Books, by Stefanie Von Borstel at Full Circle Literary.

Susan Verde’s HEY, WALL, in which a boy brings his community together to create a mural in this celebration of urban art, illustrated by Pura Belpre Honor and Golden Kite Award winner John Parra, to Sylvie Frank at Paula Wiseman Books, for publication in Spring 2018, by Erica Rand Silverman for the author and Stefanie Von Borstel and Adriana Dominguez at Full Circle Literary for the illustrator.

James Beard nominee chef Rob Connoley‘s ACORNS & CATTAILS: A MODERN COOKBOOK OF FOREST, FIELD & FARM, offering a vibrant palate of modern recipes for the home cook featuring foraged plants, hunted animals, and farmed vegetables, to Nicole Frail at Skyhorse, in a nice deal, for publication in Fall 2016, by Lilly Ghahremani.

Sally Pla‘s debut SOMEDAY BIRDS, in which AN OCD/Aspergian, bird-loving boy reluctantly travels cross-country with his siblings to see his dad, hospitalized after a brain injury; he bargains with the universe that if he can spot along the way all the rare birds that the two had been hoping to see someday, then everything might just turn out okay, to Annie Berger at Harper Children’s, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, in a good deal, by Taylor Martindale Kean."
diversity  literacy  books  sfsh  booklists  publishing  childrensbooks  childrensliterature 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Coordenadas - Limbo Gurugú - 17/07/17, Coordenadas - RTVE.es A la Carta
"El juramento del Gurugú es la última novela del escritor ecuatoguineano Juan Tomás Ávila, sobre las personas migrantes que esperan allí el momento de entrar en Europa. Exiliado de Obiang en Barcelona, lo trae al programa Victor Guerrero. Y descubrimos el último trabajo de Verdcel, The plantes, Talaies i cims, con la presencia de su lider Alfons Olmo.

Escuchamos a The Drums, "Heart Basel"; Chojin ft. Barón, "Solo para adultos"; Stand up, "Something else"; Verdcel, "Foc Amic", "Optimistic"."

[via: https://twitter.com/DedalusAfrica/status/887611112774148096 ]
juantomásávila  2017  interviews  equatorialguinea  race  migration  gurugú  victorguerrero  alfonsolmo  refugees  europe  africa  futbol  soccer  football  writing  books  literature  music  literacy  libraries  guineaecuatorial 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Radical Eyes for Equity: Why Journalists Shouldn’t Write about Education | National Education Policy Center
"Over the past couple of days, I have watched almost universal praise for Dana Goldstein’s Why Kids Can’t Write*. Since those sharing this article have tended to be people and organizations that I respect, my own response has been tempered—even though I recognize in the overview of teaching writing the same problems with edujournalism I have been confronting for many years.

Other than Jim Horn’s challenge that Goldstein takes the “blame the teachers” route, many in the writing and teaching writing community have posted and shared this article without challenge, and several have added that Goldstein does a more than adequate job covering the landscape of teaching writing.

The irony here is that this article on the failures to teach students to write is a model for both typical mainstream journalism and everything wrong with mainstream journalism: the breezy recounting of a complex field within which the journalist has no real experience or expertise and the “both sides” coverage of complex issues that treats “sides” as somehow equally credible.

The key problems in this piece can be unpacked in a few claims made by Goldstein.

Early, Goldstein asserts (without any link to evidence):
Focusing on the fundamentals of grammar is one approach to teaching writing. But it’s by no means the dominant one. Many educators are concerned less with sentence-level mechanics than with helping students draw inspiration from their own lives and from literature.

What is profoundly garbled here is a conflating of what the field of teaching writing shows through research and what teachers actually do in their classrooms.

The reality of 2017 and how students are taught writing is best reflected in a comment by former NCTE president Lou LaBrant from 1947:
A brief consideration will indicate reasons for the considerable gap between the research currently available and the utilization of that research in school programs and methods. (p. 87)

Isolated grammar instruction has been shown to have almost no transfer into student writing, and George Hillocks (among others) detailed that traditional grammar exercises could even make student writing worse.

However, I invite Goldstein and others to visit classrooms and, better yet, simply read through the Connected Community’s Teaching and Learning Forum (NCTE) where weekly English teachers voice their continued commitment to “[f]ocusing on the fundamentals of grammar.”

I want to come back to this point with another example below, but next, Goldstein wanders into the fatal flaw of edujournalism with this splash of evidence:
Three-quarters of both 12th and 8th graders lack proficiency in writing, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress. And 40 percent of those who took the ACT writing exam in the high school class of 2016 lacked the reading and writing skills necessary to successfully complete a college-level English composition class, according to the company’s data.

Poor writing is nothing new, nor is concern about it. More than half of first-year students at Harvard failed an entrance exam in writing — in 1874. But the Common Core State Standards, now in use in more than two-thirds of the states, were supposed to change all this. By requiring students to learn three types of essay writing — argumentative, informational and narrative — the Core staked a claim for writing as central to the American curriculum. It represented a sea change after the era of No Child Left Behind, the 2002 federal law that largely overlooked writing in favor of reading comprehension assessed by standardized multiple-choice tests.

The relentless and uncritical faith in what standardized tests tell us is one of the great problems with edujournalism across all discussions of education, but with writing, this is particularly problematic since standardized testing of writing is universally horrible, lacking validity and itself providing the context for why the teaching of writing is in fact inadequate.

Again, Hillocks has carefully analyzed that one of the most negative influences on teaching students to write has been the high-stakes testing movement. Teachers and their students have become slaves to state-level and national tests of writing that make writing to prompts and conforming to anchor papers as well as rubrics supersede any authentic writing goals that were endorsed by important movements such as the National Writing Project (a key focus of Goldstein’s article).

As I noted earlier, the irony is that a professional journalist’s piece in the NYT fails to provide the sort of credible evidence that many would expect as essential to student writing."



"But, again, what is incredibly important about causality in Applebee and Langer’s analysis, and what is totally subsumed by Goldstein’s focus on teachers, is that the standards and high-stakes testing movement killed the path to authentic writing instruction begun by the National Writing Project in the late 1970s and early 1980s (I outline that phenomenon in a chapter on de-grading the writing classroom).

Teachers and their students are being held accountable for writing standards and high-stakes tests—and everything we know about teaching writing well be damned.

On balance, then, Goldstein fails to expose accurately why students can’t write by glossing over the field of teaching writing without the care and expertise that topic deserves and by depending on weak evidence at the exclusion of a wealth of evidence that powerfully addresses the exact problem she seeks to examine.

Writing and teaching writing are highly complex fields, but we have a great deal of research, we do know how to teach writing well, and the field of composition, like all vibrant fields, remains a living thing driving by debate and investigation.

If we need a simple statement, then, on why students can’t write, let me offer something to consider: Students can’t write well because teachers are blocked from teaching well, and thus, the wall that must be torn down so both can excel is the standards and high-stakes testing movement.

* Goldstein’s title alludes to one of the worst but also enduring works ever on literacy, Why Johnny Can’t Read. This book spurred the school-bashing movement and engrained some of the most negative attitudes about literacy still remaining in the U.S. See Revisiting Content and Direct Instruction."
education  journalism  writing  2017  reporting  danagoldstein  katewalsh  testing  standardizedtesting  reform  schoolreform  learning  teaching  howweteach  literacy  media  standardization  commoncore  data  assessment  pedagogy  lolabrant  1947  georgehillocks  ncte  nationalwritingproject  instruction  grammar  arthurapplebee  judithlanger  1970s  1980s  rudolfflesch  policy  plthomas  paulthomas  high-stakestesting 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Asemic writing - Wikipedia
[See also: https://twitter.com/jbushnell/status/877535553671090176

Lyn Hejinian: "In responding to the Dubravka Djuric's question about the origins of my interest in writing, I said that it as the materiality of writing that first drew me to it, the prospect of working with 'the typewriter and the dictionary.'"
https://twitter.com/jbushnell/status/877535553671090176

[See also:
"Definition Not Found: The last refuge from #content might just be asemic writing" by Rahel Aima
http://reallifemag.com/definition-not-found/

"Asemic writing might be better understood not as illegible but as ‘post-literate’"



"Within the sphere of green anarchist thought there is a current that bills itself as primitivist, with all the condescending fetishism that “primitive” invokes. Avowedly anti-technology, the anti-civilizationist critique of capitalism extends beyond the environmental degradation and forms of domination of contemporary production to rail against the concept of civilization itself. The sphere of alienation is extended beyond labor; as theorist John Zerzan lays out in Running on Emptiness, it is the regime of symbolic thought that is believed to most deeply distance us from our authentic selves, which are arbitrarily defined as the way we once existed as hunter-gatherers. Art, music, mathematics, literature, speech: any mode of representation is highly suspect. It’s the paleo diet, but for culture. Zerzan’s vision for the “future primitive” would have us living in a silent, pre-pastoralist utopia where we exist wordlessly amongst the trees — beyond art and agriculture and beyond semiotics, or perhaps more aptly, before and unsullied by it. While Zerzan’s concepts seem attractive as a thought exercise, they are unconvincingly and rather petulantly argued. Who would want to do away with the back catalogue of some of the only good things to come out of the morass of humanity as we know it? Perversely, a reading of these texts makes me wonder about the possibility of an asemic writing made not by humans, but by bots and other algorithms.

In 2011, So Kanno and Takahiro Yamaguchi created the Senseless Drawing Bot, a kinetic drawing machine that is Jean Tinguely-meets-Mars rover. It pairs a motorized skateboard with an arduino, and a long-short double pendulum that induces an element of chaos, to spray graffiti on the wall. There’s a lot of empty swinging and swaggering, a louche calisthenics. It makes a mark only when its randomized wobbles pass a certain pre-coded threshold, when it’s sure all eyes are on it, and then its gestures are fast, flashy, and nonchalant, as if drawn from immense, tumescent muscle memory. It’s all big words and it’s trying hard to flex; if ever a bot has seemed like a blustery fuckboy, this is it. The outcome is surprisingly great, a dense accumulation of multicolored freneticism, neat on the bottom and looping wildly on top like an overgrown hedge. Unlike the aforementioned Tag Clouds, it points to a machinic tagging that does not mandoline work into strict taxonomies, is unreadable by human viewers, and does not — yet — appear to be machine readable, either, as well as the delightful paradox of generative bots which are programmed by people, yet also enjoy their own agency.

In the realm of graphic notation, Emma Winston’s @GraphicScoreBot tweets out an image resembling a graphic score every hour. Each tweet features an outlined white rectangle, usually with stave lines, and often with a bass or treble clef and dynamic markings, so it’s clear we are to read this as music. Except, instead of conventional note forms, its markup includes an array of colorful geometric shapes, squiggles, and dashes. Circles of varying sizes and transparencies especially make the images feel like musical infographics (to me, they seem to suggest duration; others might see in them chords or orchestra stabs). There are semantic ruptures: the bot will, at random, tweet out cards from Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies, entreaties like “Trust in the you of now,” “A very small object. Its center,” and “Slow preparation, fast execution.” Less bombastic are the double-spaced “B E G I N” and “E N D” that pepper the scores, which Winston suggests can be taken as start and end points or altogether ignored. Though the scores are generally sparse, occasional plaintive adverbs and phrases like “sadly,” “casually,” and “as if tired” make suggestions as to mood. Cameos by Italian terms like con moto (with movement), andante (at a walking pace), and quasi niente (fade away to nothing) make the scores feel somehow more official. If the “post-literate” leads us to interrogate what we consider to be writing, this bot’s relative adherence to notational convention, more Fauvism than De Stijl, does the same for the musical score.

Also on Twitter, Darius Kazemi’s @reverseocr tweets out asemicisms more akin to those absentminded doodles, each cryptic scrawl accompanied by a random word, like “subtlety,” four times a day. It’s a study in impenetrable handwriting, only here the writer is not a shrink with a prescription pad but a bot. Without that accompanying word, the marks, while elegantly spare, are unrecognizable as anything but marks. So far, so asemic. Yet the way the bot works is by selecting a word and then trying — badly, endearingly — to draw it out. It keeps drawing, and failing, until an OCR or Optical Character Recognition program (the question of literacy is transposed to the algorithm, here) identifies a character. If that character matches the first letter of the word, “s” in the case of “subtlety,” that character gets drawn and the bot turns its attentions to the second character, “u.” If not, it perseveres until it gets a match, and eventually it manages, through trial and a lot of error, to draw out the whole word; we only see these successes. Of course all of these computational processes happen at lightning speed, but in a 2014 adaptation of the work for a show at Boston’s now-shuttered Find and Form Space Kazemi slows the algorithm down to a human timescale and makes visible the otherwise hidden work performed by the bot. The word here is, appropriately, “labor.” Yet there’s something in @reverseocr’s yearning to be understood — to be read, to be recognized by another — that makes me think it’s a kind of unrequited love. There is a 1973 interview with James Baldwin in the Black Scholar in which he says, in response to a question about the role of political themes in his writing,
The people produce the artist, and it’s true. The artist also produces the people. And that’s a very violent and terrifying act of love. The role of the artist and the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see. Insofar as that is true, in that effort, I became conscious of the things that I don’t see. And I will not see without you, and vice versa, you will not see without me. No one wants to see more than he sees. You have to be driven to see what you see. The only way you can get through it is to accept that two-way street which I call love. You can call it a poem, you can call it whatever you like. That’s how people grow up. An artist is here not to give you answers but to ask you questions.

Kazemi’s bot expands the field of how we might understand asemic writing. Illegible though its drawings may be to our eyes, it is without doubt trying very, very hard to communicate meaning. Humans are not its intended audience; rather, its visual language, like barcodes or the computer vision markup of Amazon warehouses, is entirely for bots, machines, scripts, and other denizens of the algorithmic world. It’s a robot laughing alone with salad, and its inner life, its own well of lactic acid that it draws from to express itself, is off-limits to us. We, however, are on view to them, from the moment we press our thumbprints into our iPhones in the morning to the moment we touch-type a 2 a.m. text message whose characters are so drunkenly scrambled as to form complete non-words, which an algorithm gently corrects to other words we did or did not mean, so long as they’re legible. Perhaps this is an imposition on our freedoms; perhaps this is that two-way street between us and the algorithms, learning from each other; perhaps this is love."

via: "This @_reallifemag essay on asemic writing by @cnqmdi might be the best unwitting 'take' on Trump, covefefefe, etc."
https://twitter.com/eyywa/status/875099774059507716 ]
writing  asemicwriting  scribbling  randomness  typewriters  dictionaries  howwewrite  materiality  rahelaima  jeremybushnell  lynhejinian  dubravkadjuric  content  joséparla  apophenia  oseneworkekosrof  scat  scatsinging  conlang  language  experession  hélènesmith  medewianta  mirthadermisache  zhangxu  marcogiovenale  timgaze  jimleftwich  dariuskazemi  bots  emmawinston  horse_ebooks  huaisui  cursive  legibility  illegibility  avakofman  covfefe  literacy  postliteracy  ocr 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Perspectives for a Diverse America
"Teaching Tolerance’s FREE Perspectives for a Diverse America is a literacy-based curriculum that marries anti-bias social justice content with the rigor of the Common Core State Standards.

3 EASY STEPS

SELECT AN ESSENTIAL QUESTION Drive student learning with a question aligned to your instructional goals.

SELECT A CENTRAL TEXT Browse a carefully curated collection of rigorous texts that exemplify anti-bias themes.

SELECT TASKS AND STRATEGIES Build literacy skills and active citizenship with activities and assessments designed to help students deeply engage the text."
sfsh  teaching  teachingtolerance  classideas  literacy  citizenship  socialjustice 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Education Used to Happen Outside of School | Intellectual Takeout
"Prior to passage of America's first compulsory schooling statute, in Massachusetts in 1852, it was generally accepted that education was a broad societal good and that there could be many ways to be educated: at home, through one's church, with a tutor, in a class, on your own as an autodidact, as an apprentice in the community--and often all of the above.

Even that first compulsory schooling statute only mandated school attendance for 12 weeks of the year for 8-14 year olds--hardly the childhood behemoth it has become.

Acknowledging that schooling is only a singular model of education opens up enormous possibilities for learning. Looking to successful education models of the past and present, we can imagine what the varied and vibrant future of education could be.

In earlier generations, individuals and groups often created dynamic learning communities all on their own, without coercion. The esteemed thinker, Noam Chomsky, references the rich and varied ways in which people learned prior to the onslaught of mass schooling. He states:

"I grew up in the Depression. My family was a little, I'll say employed working class, but a lot of them never went to school in the first grade, but [were familiar with] very high culture. The plays of Shakespeare in the park, the WPA performances, concerts, and it's just part of life. The union had worker education programs and cultural programs. And high culture was just part of life. Actually, if you're interested, there's a detailed scholarly study of working class people in England in the 19th century and what they were reading, and it's pretty fabulous. It turns out that they didn't go to school, mostly. But they had quite a high level of culture. They were reading contemporary literature and classics. In fact, the author concludes finally that they were probably more educated than aristocrats."

The scholarly study that Chomsky alludes to is Jonathan Rose's book, The Intellectual Life of the British Working Class. In the preface, Rose writes that "the roots of that autodidact culture go back as far as the late middle ages. It surged again in the nineteenth century... Thereafter, the working-class movement for self-education swiftly declined, for a number of converging reasons."

A main reason was the rise of compulsory schooling mandates in Europe and in the U.S., and the corresponding shift in education provided by individuals, families, and local community groups to the obligation of the state. Since then, schooling and education have become inextricably linked, with mixed results.

For example, the literacy rate in Massachusetts in 1850, just prior to passage of that first compulsory schooling statue, was 97 percent.[i] According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the Massachusetts adult literacy rate in 2003 was only 90%. Nationwide, the literacy rate today stands at 86 percent.

Like cars are to transportation, schooling is a ubiquitous and popular mode of education. But it is not the only one. There are many ways to learn, to be educated, particularly as technology and information become increasingly accessible.

The power of technology and the Internet to propel learning without schooling is documented in extensive research by Dr. Sugata Mitra and his colleagues. In one study of their "hole in the wall" experiments, Mitra presents compelling findings on how children from disadvantaged backgrounds in 17 urban slum and rural areas across India used publicly available computers to gain literacy and computing skills on their own, without any adult interference or instruction.

The children, ranging in age from six to 14 years, acquired these skills at rates comparable to children in control groups who were taught in formal, teacher-directed classroom settings. Mitra and his colleagues define this self-education as “minimally-invasive education,” or MIE.

In further studies, Mitra and his colleagues revealed that these same poor, formerly illiterate children also taught themselves English and learned to read simply by having access to computers and the Internet in safe, public spaces within their villages. Mitra's powerful, award-winning 2013 Ted Talk about his "hole in the wall" experiments and findings is definitely worth a watch.

By disentangling schooling from education—to truly de-school our mindset about learning--we can create enormous potential for education innovation. Schooling is one mode of education; but there are so many others to explore and invent."
informallearning  learning  education  unschooling  deschooling  schools  kerrymcdonald  homeschool  sugatamitra  literacy  jonathanrose  autodidacts  self-directed  self-directedlearning  schooling  history 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Subtle Radicalism of Julio Cortázar's Berkeley Lectures, Collected in 'Literature Class' - The Atlantic
[See also:
"Julio Cortázar's Berkeley Lectures Demonstrate the Writer as Dream Professor" (Tobias Carroll, 2017)
https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/articles/julio-cortazars-berkeley-lectures-demonstrate-the-writer-as-dream-professor/

"Cortázar at Berkeley" (Jessica Sequeira, 2014)
https://soundsandcolours.com/articles/argentina/cortazar-at-berkeley-22708/ ]

"“What good is a writer if he can’t destroy literature?” The question comes from Julio Cortázar’s landmark 1963 novel Hopscotch, the dense, elusive, streetwise masterpiece that doubles as a High Modernist choose-your-own-adventure game. Famously, it includes an introductory “table of instructions”: “This book consists of many books,” Cortázar writes in it, “but two books above all.” The first version is read traditionally, from chapter one straight through; the second version begins at chapter seventy-three, and snakes through a non-linear sequence. Both reading modes follow the world-weary antihero Horacio Oliveira, Cortázar’s proxy protagonist, who is disenchanted with the tepid certainties of bourgeois life, and whose metaphysical explorations form the scaffolding of a billowing, richly comic existential caper. Of his magnum opus, Cortázar said, laconically, “I’ve remained on the side of the questions.” But it was the novel’s formal daring—its branching paths—that hinted at what was to be the Argentine author’s most persistent and most personal inquiry: Why should there be only one reality?

That suspicion of grand narratives—both in literature and in life—informs much of Literature Class, a newly published collection of eight lectures the writer delivered at the University of California, Berkeley in 1980. The consequent lectures—originally delivered in Spanish and translated adeptly by Katherine Silver—are erudite, intimate, charmingly fragmented, and anecdotal, covering a range of topics, from “Eroticism and Literature” to “The Realistic Short Story.” The unifying through line is Cortázar’s abiding insistence on the elasticity of literary art, the better to capture what he saw as a fleeting, contentious, and ever-fluid reality. At one point, Cortázar tells his students, “I had lived with a complete feeling of familiarity with the fantastic because it seemed as acceptable to me, as possible and as real, as the fact of eating soup at eight o’clock in the evening.” The fantastic, then, was a means of leavening the flatness of the widely accepted, or the merely prosaic. The sentiment becomes something of a refrain. For Cortázar, like his creation Horacio, the joyless—and, in cases, politically expedient—narrowing of lived possibility was forever conspiring with a larger falseness, one he called “the prefabricated, pre-established world.”

While Cortázar doesn’t explicitly explain what he meant by this, his work suggests a deep distrust of the very everydayness of life, a suspicion that it constitutes a paralysis masquerading as a soothing routine. “It occurred to me like a sort of mental belch,” Horacio says in one of Hopscotch’s lengthy internal monologues, “that this whole A B C of my life was a painful bit of stupidity, because it was based solely on…the choice of what could be called nonconduct rather than conduct.” Elsewhere, in the short story The Instruction Manual, Cortázar writes with similar misgiving, “How it hurts to refuse a spoon, to say no to a door, to deny everything that habit has licked to a suitable smoothness.” The lectures take up arms against that smoothness with a disarming candor: “Why do people accept that things are the way they are when they could be some other way?” he asks his students in a lecture called “The Ludic in Literature.” It seems a simple, even banal, question, yet it animated his work to an extraordinary degree.

By the time of his Berkeley sojourn, Cortázar was no stranger to undermining these kinds of assumptions. Indeed, for the offshoot of literary modernism referred to as the Latin American Boom—in which Cortázar played a definitive role in its 1960s heyday—a radical reevaluation of reality came with the territory. The Boom, which included the fertile works of Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, and José Lezama Lima, among others, helped to shatter the barriers between the mundane and the fantastic. Cortázar himself brought a kind of cosmopolitan cubism to the novel in which time, place, language, even the literal text itself, became sites of contention, participation, and play. The read-as-you-like instructions of Hopscotch, then (“The reader may ignore what follows with a clean conscience”) should not be taken as mere gamesmanship or avant-garde posturing; rather, they actively pushed up against a literary realism that no longer suited the fragmented textures of contemporary Latin American life.

Widespread political turbulence was an inescapable feature of that experience, even as a concomitant concern with what it meant to be a politically engaged Latin American artist took shape beside it. A new wave of fiercely complex, narratively adventurous novels like Augusto Roa Bastos’s I, the Supreme, a barely concealed censure of the Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner, and Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Time of the Hero, copies of which the Peruvian military burned, showcased the potency of literature as a means of speaking to dictatorial power. “I think it is now clear that the inevitable dialect that always exists between reality and literature has evolved deeply in many of our countries through the force of circumstance,” Cortázar tells his students in “A Writer’s Paths,” the most nakedly autobiographical of the Berkeley lectures. Literature Class is punctuated by such candid remarks, and suggests that the sparkle and audacity of Cortázar’s work, to say nothing of the Boom as a whole, are in many ways inextricable from that tumultuous mid-century political moment. Cortázar’s mid-career epiphany that literature should be “born out of the process of the populace, the peoples that the author belongs to” arguably came out of this experience; it represented a radical awakening to a frankly political, though never crudely didactic, art. “I had to switch my emphasis to the condition of being Latin American,” Cortázar says in the same lecture, “and take on everything that came with that responsibility and that duty.”

No small part of that duty was Cortázar’s project of reality-testing. Just as in his novels and short stories, that word—“reality”—appears dozens of times throughout Literature Class. Over the course of the lectures, the word accretes a kind of moral gravity until one begins to understand it as Cortázar himself appeared to: a battlefield over which opposing forces grappled for control. This was no mere abstraction. During the brutal regimes of Perón, Batista, Somoza, and others, officially sanctioned reality lost any claim to the real; rather, it served as a kind of malignant fiction in which the State was the unquestioned narrator. (The Trump administration’s insistence on “alternative facts” is only the latest iteration of this tactic.) Cortázar’s experience of this encroachment would be sporadic—he had lived in Paris since 1951—but profound. The so-called “Dirty War” saw thousands of his countrymen killed or “disappeared” in the 1970s as anti-communist death squads ruthlessly eliminated supposed dissidents. “It is in this realm,” Cortázar says to his students in the lecture “Latin American Literature Today,” “so stained with blood, torture, prisons, and depraved demagoguery, where our literature is fighting its battles.”

Cortázar’s quest for reality, then, became indistinguishable from his critique of it. In a 1976 edition of the international literary quarterly Books Abroad, he wrote, “Nothing seems more revolutionary to me than enriching the notion of reality by all means possible.” No matter what form that enrichment took in his fiction (the branching paths of Hopscotch, the visionary naïveté of Cronopios and Famas, the genre instability of Blow-Up: And Other Stories), its objective, as he suggests in “The Realistic Short Story,” was to produce “reality as it is, without betraying it, without deforming it, allowing the reader to see beneath the causes, into the deeper workings, the reasons that lead men to be as they are or as they are not.” Always something of a moving target in his work, reality, finally, wasn’t meant to be found, much less achieved. It was an endless pursuit, morally malleable, generous, radically free. “When you reach the limits of expression,” he says in another lecture, “just beyond begins a territory where everything is possible and everything is uncertain.” In Cortázar’s terms, we’ve reached Eden: the ultimate state of grace.

The classroom, of course, was another story entirely. Cortázar might have seen it as a place where official narratives, that “pre-established world,” could be nurtured and legitimized for students—an irony he was doubtless abundantly aware of as he lectured. Indeed, almost immediately one can feel him chafing beneath the authority conferred by the lectern. “I want you to know that I’m cobbling together these classes very shortly before you get here,” he says on his first day. “I’m not systematic, I’m not a critic or a theorist.” Later, in the lecture “Writing Hopscotch,” he reveals the ultimate source of his apprehension: “How can [the writer] denounce something with the tools that are used by the enemy, that is … a language already used by the masters and their disciples?” Whatever the ostensible topic of a given lecture, these evasions continue to surface like an anxious tic. Taken together, they comprise the enormously enjoyable subtext of Literature Class: the ambivalence of a great writer who seeks to interrogate the efficacy of a weapon he has no choice but to use.

… [more]
juliocortázar  radicalism  authority  2017  ucberkeley  reality  1960s  literacy  theboom  elboom  life  meaning  everyday  literature  1963  rayuela  linearity  nonlinear  1980  katherinesilver  elasticity  magicrealism  fantasy  gabrielgarcíamárquez  carlosfuentes  josélezamalima  cubism  language  latinamerica  mariovargasllosa  alfredostoessner  augustoroabastos  argentina  alternativefacts  grace  non-linear  alinear 
may 2017 by robertogreco
4 Things Worse Than Not Learning To Read In Kindergarten | HuffPost
"Limited time for creative play. Young children learn by playing. They learn by digging and dancing and building and knocking things down, not by filling out piles of worksheets. And they learn by interacting with other children, solving problems, sharing and cooperating, not by drilling phonics. Mrs. Gantt and Mrs. Floyd created fabulous centers and units that allowed children to learn about everything from houses to trucks to pets to oceans. And they snuck in some reading and math skills that the children didn’t even notice, because they were so busy playing and creating! Teachers today, however, often have to limit (or even eliminate) time for centers and units, because the academic requirements they are forced to meet don’t allow time for creative learning.

Limited physical activity. Few things are more counterproductive than limiting recess and other types of physical play time for children. Children learn better when they move. Parents and teachers know this intuitively, but research also confirms it. Children who have more opportunities to run around and play have better thinking skills and increased brain activity. And don’t assume that young children are naturally active and are getting all of the exercise they need; researchers have found that children as young as three and four are surprisingly inactive. Yet many schools are limiting or even eliminating recess, even for very young children.

Teaching that focuses on standards and testing. Teachers are increasingly under pressure to prepare their students to perform on standardized tests. This means that their focus is shifting from teaching children in ways that match their development and learning styles to “teaching to the test.” As one teacher reported, “I have watched as my job requirements swung away from a focus on children, their individual learning styles, emotional needs, and their individual families, interests and strengths to a focus on testing, assessing and scoring young children...” This shift in focus means that teachers have less time to nurture and develop children as lifelong learners, because they’re required to focus their efforts on standards that are unrealistic for many children.

Frustration and a sense of failure. Children know when they aren’t meeting the expectations of teachers and other adults. What they don’t know, however, is that those expectations often make no sense. And because they don’t know that, they experience frustration and a sense of failure when they don’t measure up. So the boy who thrived in his experiential preschool, but struggles in his academic -focused kindergarten may become frustrated to the point that he “hates school.” And the girl who can’t sit still for 30 minutes and fill out worksheets knows that she’s disappointing her teacher, but doesn’t know that the task isn’t appropriate for her. Which means that many normal children are becoming frustrated - and are being labelled - by an entirely unrealistic system. As one report has bluntly stated, “Most children are eager to meet high expectations, but their tools and skills as learners as well as their enthusiasm for learning suffer when the demands are inappropriate.”"
kindergarten  reading  schools  education  sfsh  literacy  children  2017  play  health  psychology  testing  failure  frustration  readiness  gayegrooverchristmus 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Posthuman Child: Educational transformation through philosophy with ... - Karin Murris - Google Books
"The Posthuman Child combats institutionalised ageist practices in primary, early childhood and teacher education. Grounded in a critical posthumanist perspective on the purpose of education, it provides a genealogy of psychology, sociology and philosophy of childhood in which dominant figurations of child and childhood are exposed as positioning child as epistemically and ontologically inferior. Entangled throughout this book are practical and theorised examples of philosophical work with student teachers, teachers, other practitioners and children (aged 3-11) from South Africa and Britain. These engage arguments about how children are routinely marginalised, discriminated against and denied, especially when the child is also female, black, lives in poverty and whose home language is not English. The book makes a distinctive contribution to the decolonisation of childhood discourses.

Underpinned by good quality picturebooks and other striking images, the book's radical proposal for transformation is to reconfigure the child as rich, resourceful and resilient through relationships with (non) human others, and explores the implications for literary and literacy education, teacher education, curriculum construction, implementation and assessment. It is essential reading for all who research, work and live with children."
sfsh  books  children  posthumanism  toread  education  marginalization  agesegregation  multispecies  classideas  resilience  literacy  curriculum  assessment  decolonization  poverty  discrimination  ageism  age  colonialism  teaching  howweteach  pedagogy 
march 2017 by robertogreco
All I Know Is What’s on the Internet — Real Life
"For information literacy to have any relevance, schools and libraries must assume that primary sources and government agencies act in good faith. But the social media prowess of a Donald Trump scuttles CRAAP logic. Not only does Trump disregard information literacy protocols in his own information diet — he famously declared during the campaign, “All I know is what’s on the internet” — but he operates with an entirely different paradigm for making public statements. He speaks as a celebrity, confident in the value of his brand, rather than as a politician or technocrat, making recourse to facts, tactical compromises, or polls.

There is no reason to think that the Trump administration will be a “valid” source in the sense of making truthful, accurate statements. Instead, Trump has backed into Karl Rove’s famous idea of the reality-based community: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again.”

Trump-based reality is now spreading into other government agencies. In late 2016, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology used its .gov homepage to question causes of climate change, while the Wisconsin State Department of Natural Resources recently changed reports to claim the subject is a matter of scientific debate.

Benjamin ends “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by arguing that “fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves.” This recasts social media in a more sinister light. Fascism is on the rise not because students can’t tell fake news from the slanted news promulgated by hegemonic interests. Rather, fascism is resurgent because freedom of expression has turned out to have little to do with what we can create and much more to do with how much we can consume.

The promise of social justice and upward mobility through education has largely gone unkept, and many citizens who believed in democratic progress have turned to different promises. Information literacy fails not only because it serves a broken system, but because it is affectively beside the point. Its cerebral pleasure pales in comparison with fascism’s more direct, emotive appeals.

Information today is content, a consumable whose truth value is measured in page views. To combat this, the validation of knowledge must be localized, shared in communities between engaged citizens. Information-literacy rubrics implemented by individuals are insufficient. We must value expertise, but experts must also commit to forging community through shared development. The one-way diffusion of knowledge must be upended.

Information literacy is less a solution than an alibi for the problems ailing education. “Solving” fake news will only compound the real problem. Without substantial work to subvert the traditional and promote the outside, the feel-good efforts of information literacy will not serve America’s promised rebound. Instead they will signify democracy’s dead-cat bounce."

[See also this response: https://twitter.com/holden/status/821904132814442496 ]
schools  libraries  information  informationliteracy  fakenews  internet  education  rolinmoe  2017  democracy  outsiders  content  knowledge  validation  socialjustice  upwardmobility  medialiteracy  literacy  multiliteracies  fascism  donaldtrump  propaganda  crapdetection  criticalthinking  walterbejnamin  consumption  creativity  freedom  engagement  vannevarbush  shielawebber  billjohnson  librarians  community  media  massmedia  hierarchizationknowledge  economy 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Boy who did not want to learn to read - Children of Summerhill 1998 - YouTube
"This is a story of an alumnus of the Summerhill School, who did not learn to read and write in school, but later in life when he needed it - as an English conversation teacher to Japanese engineers!!!"

[via: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/813210427614171136 ]
literacy  summerhill  reading  howwelearn  education  schooling  writing  communication  asneill 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Yes, Digital Literacy. But Which One? | Hapgood
"What is the digital literacy I want?

I want something that is actually digital, something that deals with the particular affordances of the web, and gives students a knowledge of how to use specific web tools and techniques.

I want something that recognizes that domain knowledge is crucial to literacy, something that puts an end to helicopter-dropping students into broadly different domains.

I want a literacy that at least considers the possibility that students in an American democracy should know what the Center for American Progress and Cato are, a literacy that considers that we might teach these things directly, rather than expecting them to RADCAB their way to it on an individual basis. It might also make sense (crazy, I know!) that students understand the various ideologies and internet cultures that underlie a lot of what they see online, rather than fumbling their way toward it individually.

I think I want less CRAAP and more process. As I look at my own process with fact-checking, for example, I see models such as Guided Inquiry being far more helpful — systems that help me understand what the next steps are, rather than abstract rubric of quality. And I think what we find when we look at the work of real-life fact-checkers is that this process shifts based on what you’re looking at, so the process has to be artifact-aware: This is how you verify a user-generated video for example, not “here’s things to think about when you evaluate stuff.”

To the extent we do use CRAAP, or RADCAB, or CARS or other models out there, I’d like us to focus specifically on the methods that the web uses to signal these sorts of things. For example, the “S” in CARS is support, which tends to mean certain things in traditional textual environments. But we’re on the web and awful lot of “support” is tied up in the idea of hyperlinks to supporting sources, and the particular ways that page authors tie claims to resources. This seems obvious, I suppose, but remember that in evaluating the gun control claim in the Stanford study, over half the students didn’t even click the link to the supporting resource. Many corporations, for business reasons, have been downplaying links, and it is is having bad effects. True digital literacy would teach students that links are still the mechanism through which the web builds trust and confidence.

Above all, I just want something that gets to a level of specificity that I seldom see digital literacy programs get to. Not just “this is what you should value”, but rather, “these are the tools and specific facts that are going to help you act on those values”. Not just “this is what the web is”, but “let’s pull apart the guts of the web and see how we get a reliable publication date”. It’s by learning this stuff on a granular level that we form the larger understandings — when you know the difference between a fake news site and an advocacy blog, or understand how to use the Wayback Machine to pull up a deleted web page — these tools and process raise the questions that larger theories can answer.

But to get there, you have to start with stuff a lot more specific and domain-informed than the usual CRAAP."
digitalcitizenship  digitlliteracy  mikecaulfield  edhirsch  robertpondiscio  knowledge  internet  web  online  experience  skepticism  literacy  inquiry  sfsh 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Ejike 🇳🇬 on Twitter: "To truly understand Cuba and in fact the rest of Latin America you need to study the Monroe doctrine in 1823"
[Thread]

"Viva Fidel. Your revolutionary courage & your commitment to fighting for the self-determination of the Cuban people will never be forgotten

[URL bookmarked] To truly understand Cuba and in fact the rest of Latin America you need to study the Monroe doctrine in 1823

It's important to note that the US in the early 19th century wasn't strong enough to stop Europe from colonizing Latin America... not yet

That ended in the late 1800s. Look up the Cuban War of Independence where the Cuban people had been whooping the Spanish colonial government

As Cuba was on the verge of liberating itself from Spanish control America intervened in what is shamefully dubbed the Spanish-American war

In 1898 the US intervened in order to "liberate" Cuba frm its humanitarian crisis which was a cover to prevent Cuba frm becoming independent

From 1898 Cuba practically served as an agricultural-colonial plantation for the United States up until Fidel Castro in 1959

In other words, the "Spanish-American war" was really a fight for who got to control Cuba & its resources. America consolidating its empire

I'm not sorry for giving a quick history lesson bc you cannot understand Fidel Castro if you don't understand America as an empire

Fidel Castro with his brilliant use of guerrilla tactics beat the Cuban army over and over again with only a few hundred soldiers

After Fidel Castro overthrew the undemocratic Batista government in 1959, the US in fearing is declining control went berserk!!!

People who talk about Cuba's problems conveniently leave out 58 years of economic blockade, invasion, assassination by the US

Never mind the 630 some assassination attempts made on Fidel Castro the sanctions & absolute terrorism on the Cuban people is reprehensible

The US embargo is literally anything to destroy Cuba's economy. And guess who started this war on Cuba… Your Democratic president JFK

For 9 administrations in a row the US has done everything in its power to destroy Cuba & every time they have failed thanks to Fidel Castro

I don't think there is a country that has been invaded and exposed to more terror by the US in the Western Hemisphere

The literacy rate of Cuba is at 99.8% which is higher than both the US and the UK thanks to Fidel Castro

The infant mortality rate is lower in Cuba than it is in the United States thanks to Fidel Castro

Cuba after being a country in 3rd world conditions now enjoys one of the highest life expectancy's in the world thanks to Fidel Castro

When Nelson Mandela was released one of the first places he went was Havana bc Cuba played one of the biggest roles in ending apartheid

Thanks to Fidel Castro Cuba has the highest ratio of doctors to patients anywhere else in the world in fact Cuba's biggest export is doctors

Thanks to Fidel Castro education in Cuba from kindergarten all the way up to the PhD level is FREE no exceptions

Thanks to Fidel Castro healthcare in Cuba is not a privilege determined by economic status but a human right given to ALL free of charge

Thanks to Fidel Castro, even with the vicious sanctions by the US, Cuba has managed to almost totally eliminate homelessness

To people who want to be critical of Fidel Castro I ask you what would've become of Cuba if the US did not issue its devastating sanctions

The economic strangulation that the US has been engaged in towards Cuba are so SEVERE that they can be considered an act of aggression

The angry Cubans in Florida that you here chastise Fidel Castro are all mysteriously neoliberal capitalists. That should raise red flags

Yes that little socialist island of Cuba has made mistakes but I would've made mistakes too if the US tried to assassinate me over 600 times

Y'all should RT all of these tweets to let everybody know that the US propaganda machine is wrong about Cuba and wrong about Fidel Castro

That Cubans can even provide basic services to its ppl despite being terrorized by the biggest bully in the world 90 miles away...

I love how everybody who is critiquing Fidel Castro sounds just like FOXNews right now. That's great

I REST MY CASE!!!Ejike 🇳🇬 added, RT: "Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump Fidel Castro is dead!" https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/802499192237080576

Trump and Fox News is celebrating the death of Fidel Castro and that still doesn't make people take pause

Every leader who defies US power is deemed a mass murderer and a threat to humanity

Every deficiency in Cuba can seriously be traced back to the economic warfare, subversion, assassination and invasion attempts by the US

Assata Shakur, a courageous revolutionary black woman, was granted political asylum from the US by which country... Cuba

I find it fascinating that the US wants Cuba to know the US is a friend when it still hasn't lifted the embargo RT: "Obama's statement on Castro [image] https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2016/nov/26/fidel-castro-death-cuban-leader-live-updates " https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/802533786739216384

The US embargo has cost Cuba $753.69 billion. Don't forget to mention that when you're talking about the lack of pristine services in Cuba

#FidelCastro overthrew a dictatorship and then was besieged by the strongest military power in the history of the world. Start there

Look at some the absurd ways the United States tried to assassinate #FidelCastro http://www.vox.com/2016/11/26/13752514/us-fidel-castro-assassination "
fidelcastro  us  cuba  history  2016  monroedoctrine  imperialism  communism  socialism  nelsonmandela  apartheid  latinamerica  healthcare  education  literacy  homelessness  economics  subversion  assassination  invasion  spanish-americanwar  blockade  assatashakur  donaldtrump  barackobama  jfk  johnfkennedy 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Will Self: Are humans evolving beyond the need to tell stories? | Books | The Guardian
"Neuroscientists who insist technology is changing our brains may have it wrong. What if we are switching from books to digital entertainment because of a change in our need to communicate?"



"A few years ago I gave a lecture in Oxford that was reprinted in the Guardian under the heading: “The novel is dead (this time it’s for real)”. In it I argued that the novel was losing its cultural centrality due to the digitisation of print: we are entering a new era, one with a radically different form of knowledge technology, and while those of us who have what Marshal McLuhan termed “Gutenberg minds” may find it hard to comprehend – such was our sense of the solidity of the literary world – without the necessity for the physical book itself, there’s no clear requirement for the art forms it gave rise to. I never actually argued that the novel was dead, nor that narrative itself was imperilled, yet whenever I discuss these matters with bookish folk they all exclaim: “But we need stories – people will always need stories.” As if that were an end to the matter.

Non-coincidentally, in line with this shift from print to digital there’s been an increase in the number of scientific studies of narrative forms and our cognitive responses to them. There’s a nice symmetry here: just as the technology arrives to convert the actual into the virtual, so other technologies arise, making it possible for us to look inside the brain and see its actual response to the virtual worlds we fabulate and confabulate. In truth, I find much of this research – which marries arty anxiety with techno-assuredness – to be self-serving, reflecting an ability to win the grants available for modish interdisciplinary studies, rather than some new physical paradigm with which to explain highly complex mental phenomena. Really, neuroscience has taken on the sexy mantle once draped round the shoulders of genetics. A few years ago, each day seemed to bring forth a new gene for this or that. Such “discoveries” rested on a very simplistic view of how the DNA of the human genotype is expressed in us poor, individual phenotypes – and I suspect many of the current discoveries, which link alterations in our highly plastic brains to cognitive functions we can observe using sophisticated equipment, will prove to be equally ill-founded.

The neuroscientist Susan Greenfield has been prominent in arguing that our new digital lives are profoundly altering the structure of our brains. This is undoubtedly the case – but then all human activities impact upon the individual brain as they’re happening; this by no means implies a permanent alteration, let alone a heritable one. After all, so far as we can tell the gross neural anatomy of the human has remained unchanged for hundreds of millennia, while the age of bi-directional digital media only properly dates – in my view – from the inception of wireless broadband in the early 2000s, hardly enough time for natural selection to get to work on the adaptive advantages of … tweeting. Nevertheless, pioneering studies have long since shown that licensed London cab drivers, who’ve completed the exhaustive “Knowledge” (which consists of memorising every street and notable building within a six mile radius of Charing Cross), have considerably enlarged posterior hippocampi.

This is the part of brain concerned with way-finding, but it’s also strongly implicated in memory formation; neuroscientists are now discovering that at the cognitive level all three abilities – memory, location, and narration – are intimately bound up. This, too, is hardly surprising: key for humans, throughout their long pre-history as hunter-gatherers, has been the ability to find food, remember where food is and tell the others about it. It’s strange, of course, to think of Pride and Prejudice or Ulysses as simply elaborations upon our biologically determined inclination to give people directions – but then it’s perhaps stranger still to realise that sustained use of satellite navigation, combined with absorbing all our narrative requirements in pictorial rather written form, may transform us into miserable and disoriented amnesiacs.

When he lectured on literature in the 1950s, Vladimir Nabokov would draw a map on the blackboard at the beginning of each session, depicting, for example, the floor plan of Austen’s Mansfield Park, or the “two ways” of Proust’s Combray. What Nabokov seems to have understood intuitively is what neuroscience is now proving: reading fiction enables a deeply memorable engagement with our sense of space and place. What the master was perhaps less aware of – because, as yet, this phenomenon was inchoate – was that throughout the 20th century the editing techniques employed in Hollywood films were being increasingly refined. This is the so-called “tyranny of film”: editing methods that compel our attention, rather than leaving us free to absorb the narrative in our own way. Anyone now in middle age will have an intuitive understanding of this: shots are shorter nowadays, and almost all transitions are effected by crosscutting, whereby two ongoing scenes are intercut in order to force upon the viewer the idea of their synchrony. It’s in large part this tyranny that makes contemporary films something of a headache for older viewers, to whom they can seem like a hypnotic swirl of action.

It will come as no surprise to Gutenberg minds to learn that reading is a better means of forming memory than watching films, as is listening to afternoon drama on Radio 4. This is the so-called “visualisation hypothesis” that proposes that people – and children in particular – find it harder not only to remember film as against spoken or written narratives, but also to come up with novel responses to them, because the amount of information they’re given, together with its determinate nature, forecloses imaginative response.

Almost all contemporary parents – and especially those of us who class themselves as “readers” – have engaged in the Great Battle of Screen: attempting to limit our children’s consumption of films, videos, computer games and phone-based social media. We feel intuitively that it can’t be doing our kids any good – they seem mentally distracted as well as physically fidgety: unable to concentrate as they often look from one handheld screen to a second freestanding one, alternating between tweezering some images on a touchscreen and manipulating others using a remote control. Far from admonishing my younger children to “read the classics” – an utterly forlorn hope – I often find myself simply wishing they’d put their phones down long enough to have their attention compelled by the film we’re watching.

If we take seriously the conclusions of these recent neuroscientific studies, one fact is indisputable: whatever the figures for books sales (either in print or digital form), reading for pleasure has been in serious decline for over a decade. That this form of narrative absorption (if you’ll forgive the coinage) is closely correlated with high attainment and wellbeing may tell us nothing about the underlying causation, but the studies do demonstrate that the suite of cognitive aptitudes needed to decipher text and turn it into living, breathing, visible and tangible worlds seem to wither away once we stop turning the pages and start goggling at virtual tales.

Of course, the sidelining of reading narrative (and along with it the semi-retirement of all those narrative forms we love) is small potatoes compared with the loss of our capacity for episodic memory: would we be quite so quick to post those fantastic holiday photographs on Facebook if we knew that in so doing we’d imperil our ability to recall unaided our walk along the perfect crescent of sand, and our first ecstatic kiss? You might’ve thought that as a novelist who depends on fully attuned Gutenberg minds to read his increasingly complex and confusing texts I’d be dismayed by this craven new couch-based world; and, as a novelist, I am.

I began writing my books on a manual typewriter at around the same time wireless broadband became ubiquitous, sensing it was inimical not only to the act of writing, but that of reading as well: a novel should be a self-contained and self-explanatory world (at least, that’s how the form has evolved), and it needs to be created in the same cognitive mode as it’s consumed: the writer hunkering down into his own episodic memories, and using his own canonical knowledge, while imagining all the things he’s describing, rather than Googling them to see what someone else thinks they look like. I also sense the decline in committed reading among the young that these studies claim: true, the number of those who’ve ever been inclined “to get up in the morning in the fullness of youth”, as Nietzsche so eloquently put it, “and open a book” has always been small; but then it’s worth recalling the sting in the tail of his remark: “now that’s what I call vicious”.

And there is something vicious about all that book learning, especially when it had to be done by rote. There’s something vicious as well about the baby boomer generation, which, not content to dominate the cultural landscape, also demands that everyone younger than us survey it in the same way. For the past five years I’ve been working on a trilogy of novels that aim to map the connections between technological change, warfare and human psychopathology, so obviously I’m attempting to respond to the zeitgeist using this increasingly obsolete art form. My view is that we’re deluded if we think new technologies come into existence because of clearly defined human objectives – let alone benevolent ones – and it’s this that should shape our response to them. No, the history of the 20th century – and now the 21st – is replete with examples of technologies that were developed purely in order to facilitate the killing of people at … [more]
willself  communication  digital  writing  howwewrite  entertainment  books  socialmedia  neuroscience  2016  marshallmcluhan  gutenbergminds  print  change  singularity  videogames  gaming  games  poetry  novels  susangreenfield  rote  rotelearning  twitter  knowledge  education  brain  wayfinding  memory  location  narration  navigation  vladimirnabokov  proust  janeausten  film  video  attention  editing  reading  howweread  visualizationhypothesis  visualization  text  imagery  images  cognition  literacy  multiliteracies  memories  nietzsche  booklearning  technology  mobile  phones  mentalillness  ptsd  humans  humanity  digitalmedia  richardbrautigan  narrative  storytelling 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Handwriting Just Doesn’t Matter - The New York Times
"Cursive has no more to do with patriotism than Gothic script did with barbarism, or the Palmer Method with Christianity. Debates over handwriting reveal what a society prizes and fears; they are not really about the virtues or literacy levels of children.

Finally, current cursive advocates often argue that students who don’t learn cursive won’t be able to read it — “they won’t be able to read the Declaration of Independence” — but that is misleading. Reading that 18th-century document in the original is difficult for most people who know cursive, as the script is now unfamiliar. A vast majority of historical manuscripts are illegible to anyone but experts, or are written in languages other than English.

In fact, the changes imposed by the digital age may be good for writers and writing. Because they achieve automaticity quicker on the keyboard, today’s third graders may well become better writers as handwriting takes up less of their education. Keyboards are a boon to students with fine motor learning disabilities, as well as students with poor handwriting, who are graded lower than those who write neatly, regardless of the content of their expressions. This is known as the “handwriting effect,” proved by Steve Graham at Arizona State, who found that “when teachers are asked to rate multiple versions of the same paper differing only in legibility, neatly written versions of the paper are assigned higher marks for overall quality of writing than are versions with poorer penmanship.” Typing levels the playing field.

Ours may be the most writing-happy age in human history. Most students and adults write far more in a given day than they did just 10 or 20 years ago, choosing to write to one another over social media or text message instead of talking on the phone or visiting. The more one writes, the better a writer one becomes. There is no evidence that “text speak” like LOL has entered academic writing, or that students make more errors as a result. Instead, there is evidence that college students are writing more rhetorically complex essays, and at double the length, than they did a generation ago. The kids will be all right.

Despite the recent backlash, handwriting will slowly become a smaller and smaller aspect of elementary school education. That will be a loss — I don’t deny it. The kinetic movement of pen across paper is pleasurable, and soothing in its familiarity. It is affecting to see the idiosyncratic loops and strokes of relatives from generations past.

But as a left-hander with terrible handwriting who watched my son struggle to master cursive — he had to stay inside during recess for much of third grade because he wrote his j’s backward — that is a loss I can weather. And history is replete with similar losses; consider how rarely people now carve words in stone, dip pens into ink or swipe platens of typewriters. There will be no loss to our children’s intelligence. The cultural values we project onto handwriting will alter as we do, as they have for the past 6,000 years."

[review of Trubek's book: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/28/books/review/history-and-uncertain-future-of-handwriting-anne-trubek.html

"How we write is delicately connected to what we write and why. Trubek suggests relegating cursive to art class, but removing it to the realm of the exceptional limits our expectations of experiencing beauty in the day-to-day. Today’s second graders, including my own, will learn to type — one day, my daughter might even out-key Stella Willins, who banged out 264 words per minute in 1926. But we can’t quantify the value in an ability to forge a rare harmony between utility and beauty, the handsomely scripted grocery list, the love letter, the diary I write just for myself.

“We will lose something as we print and write in cursive less and less, but loss is inevitable,” Trubek concludes. Though one technology often supplants another, that doesn’t necessitate concession. Considering its rich significance, instead of hustling handwriting off to the graveyard, perhaps what’s called for is resurrection." ]
handwriting  education  schools  la  us  annetrubek  2016  sfsh  pedagogy  literacy  typing  writing  howwewrite  cursive  penmanship 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Teacher Tom: "But How Do They Learn To Read?"
""But how do they learn to read?"

It's the question most often asked by doubters when first learning about play-based education. Most people "get" that play is important for young children, at least to a certain degree, they're not ogres, but they just can't get their minds around the idea that most children, when left to their own devices, will actually learn to read without adult intervention.

First of all, from a purely developmental perspective, preschool aged children should not be expected to be reading. This isn't to say that some preschoolers don't teach themselves to read. I've known readers as young as two. And at any given moment, there will be a handful of four and five-year-olds at Woodland Park who are reading books on their own because that's how human development works: some children start speaking at three months and some barely utter a word until after they've celebrated their fourth birthday; some are walking by six months and some aren't up on their feet until they're closer to two. Parents might worry, but the truth is that it all falls well within the range of "normal." The research on reading indicates that the natural window for learning to read extends to as late as 11 years old!

Of course, in today's America, a child who is not reading by the time he is seven or eight is thought to have some sort of learning disability when the fact is that he is perfectly normal. A couple years back a University of Cambridge team reviewed all the available research on the topic and concluded that "formal" schooling should be delayed until children are at least seven, and that, indeed, pushing it earlier is damaging children's "academic" achievement, especially when it comes to reading.
Studies have compared groups of children . . . who started formal literacy lessons at ages 5 and 7 . . . (T)he early introduction of formal learning approaches to literacy does not improve children's reading development, and may be damaging. By the age of 11 there was no difference in reading ability level between the two groups, but the children who stared at 5 developed less positive attitudes to reading, and showed poorer text comprehension than those children who had started later.

Their recommendation is that the best "academic" education for children under seven is the sort of "informal, play-based" environment we offer at Woodland Park because that is how the human animal is designed to build the foundation for all future learning.

The sickening thing is that today's kindergartens and preschools are charging pell-mell in the wrong direction:
A new University of Virginia study found that kindergarten changed in disturbing ways from 1999-2006. There was a marked decline in exposure to social studies, science, music, art and physical education and an increased emphasis on reading instruction. Teachers reported spending as much time on reading as all other subjects combined.

With the advent of the Common Core federal public school curriculum in the US (and it is a curriculum despite it's advocates' insistence that they are merely "standards") with its narrow focus on literacy, mathematics, and testing, it has gotten even worse since 2006. Indeed:
Last year, average math scores . . . declined; reading scores were flat or decreased compared with a decade earlier.

We are proving the research: we are damaging our children. This is why I remain so consistently opposed to what is happening in our public schools. By law I'm a mandatory reporter of child abuse in my state. This might not fit the legal definition, but it definitely fits the moral one.

That still begs the original question: how will they learn to read?

As I learned from Carol Black's brilliant essay entitled A Thousand Rivers, when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1439, very few people could read. In fact, reading was primarily the domain of the clergy who needed the skill to read and create Bibles. But the printing press suddenly made printed matter widely available. With no notion of formal literacy education, Europeans were left to learn to read on their own, passing on the knowledge from one person to the next, from one generation to the next.

Literacy rates steadily climbed for the next couple hundred years, then surged around the time of the American Revolution when Thomas Payne's pamphlet Common Sense became a runaway hit, selling over a half million copies and going through 25 printings in its first year. It's estimated that 2.5 million colonists read it, an astronomical number for the time. And it's not easy reading. Nevertheless, historians credit this viral document with inspiring the 13 American colonies to ultimately declare their independence from British rule.

People wanted to read, they needed to read, so they learned to read, which is why literacy rates in those original 13 colonies were actually higher than those we see today in in our 50 states. A similar thing has happened, albeit at a faster pace, with computer technology. I have a distinct memory of Dad buying an Apple II+, a machine that came with no software. Instead it came with thick instruction manuals that taught us how to write our own programs. You could take classes on "how to work your computer." Today, our two-year-olds are teaching themselves as these technology skills have gone viral. The idea of a computer class today is laughable, just as a reading class would have been laughable in 1776.

And just as "walking" or "talking" classes would be laughable to us today, so too should this whole nonsense of "reading" classes. Yet shockingly, we continue to go backwards with literacy to the point that most of us seem to think that it's necessary that children spend days and years of their lives at earlier and earlier ages, being drilled in a utilitarian skill that past generations just learned, virally, over the natural course of living their lives. No wonder children hate school. No wonder they are bored and stressed out.

Certainly, there are children in our world who are "at risk" for not learning to read, including those with actual learning disabilities, as opposed to the manufactured ones we are currently slapping on normal children who are simply taking a little longer to getting around to reading. And for those children, as well as for those who are being raised in illiterate households, intervention may be necessary. But for the overwhelming majority of our children, the greatest literacy challenge they face is our obsessive rush for more and more earlier and earlier. We are, in our abject ignorance, our refusal to actually look at the evidence, teaching our children to hate reading, which is in my view a crime not only against children, but against all humanity."
children  reading  play  literacy  pedagogy  teaching  schools  carolblack  unschooling  deschooling  play-basededucation  kindergarten  sfsh  history  gutenberg  thomaspayne  tomhobson  walking  howwelearn  necessity  coercion  learningdisabilities  talking  education 
july 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
Facebook is wrong, text is deathless
"It's a throwaway line in a longer talk and we probably shouldn't make too much of it, but I will anyway.
In five years time Facebook "will be definitely mobile, it will be probably all video," said Nicola Mendelsohn, who heads up Facebook's operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at a conference in London this morning. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, has already noted that video will be more and more important for the platform. But Mendelsohn went further, suggesting that stats showed the written word becoming all but obsolete, replaced by moving images and speech.

"The best way to tell stories in this world, where so much information is coming at us, actually is video," Mendelsohn said. "It conveys so much more information in a much quicker period. So actually the trend helps us to digest much more information."

Maybe this is coming from deep within the literacy bubble, but:

Text is surprisingly resilient. It's cheap, it's flexible, it's discreet. Human brains process it absurdly well considering there's nothing really built-in for it. Plenty of people can deal with text better than they can spoken language, whether as a matter of preference or necessity. And it's endlessly computable -- you can search it, code it. You can use text to make it do other things.

In short, all of the same technological advances that enable more and more video, audio, and immersive VR entertainment also enable more and more text. We will see more of all of them as the technological bottlenecks open up.

And text itself will get weirder, its properties less distinct, as it reflects new assumptions and possibilities borrowed from other tech and media. It already has! Text can be real-time, text can be ephemeral -- text has taken on almost all of the attributes we always used to distinguish speech, but it's still remained text. It's still visual characters registered by the eye standing in for (and shaping its own) language.

Because nothing has proved as invincible as writing and literacy. Because text is just so malleable. Because it fits into any container we put it in. Because our world is supersaturated in it, indoors and out. Because we have so much invested in it. Because nothing we have ever made has ever rewarded our universal investment in it more. Unless our civilization fundamentally collapses, we will never give up writing and reading.

We're still not even talking to our computers as often as we're typing on our phones. What logs the most attention-hours -- i.e., how media companies make their money -- is not and has never been the universe of communications.

(And my god -- the very best feature Facebook Video has, what's helping that platform eat the world -- is muted autoplay video with automatic text captions. Forget literature -- even the stupid viral videos people watch waiting for the train are better when they're made with text!)

Nothing is inevitable in history, media, or culture -- but literacy is the only thing that's even close. Bet for better video, bet for better speech, bet for better things we can't imagine -- but if you bet against text, you will lose."
facebook  internet  text  literacy  timcarmody  2016  video  media  culture  history  future  communication 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Inclusive on Vimeo
"Learn how human-led design makes a deep and connecting impact, leading to innovative and inclusive solutions.

Learn more at inclusivethefilm.com

Participants:
Catharine Blaine K-8 School
Susan Goltsman - MIG, Inc
Will Lewis and Ted Hart - Skype Translator
TJ Parker - Pillpack
Graham Pullin - University of Dundee
The High School Affiliated to Renmin University Of China (RDFZ) Beijing
Jutta Treviranus - OCAD University
Mike Vanis - Interaction Designer"
inclusion  inclusivity  microsoft  via:ablerism  2015  design  catharineblaine  susangoltsman  willlewis  tedhart  tjparker  grahampullin  juttatreviranus  mikevanis  video  documentary  audiencesofone  sewing  aging  retirement  work  ambientintimacy  memory  nostalgia  presence  telepresence  inclusivedesign  technology  translation  healthcare  prescriptions  playgrounds  seattle  sanfrancisco  captioning  literacy  communication  hearing  deaf  deafness  skype 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Fighting Illiteracy With Typography by Yara Khoury Nammour (Works That Work magazine)
"The intriguingly beautiful calligraphic principles of Arabic script have long defied attempts to facilitate mass production by print technologies developed for Roman letters. Unified Arabic is one such attempt, and significant obstacles stand between it and widespread adoption.

In 1932, a Lebanese architect walked into a classroom at the American University of Beirut to fill in for a professor who taught basic Arabic typing skills. In an effort to welcome the class, he started typing ahlan wa sahlan (‘welcome’), but, finding it difficult to locate the right keys for the right variation of the letter heh, he mistakenly typed an initial heh form instead of a medial one. He noticed, however, that what he had typed was still perfectly legible. He suddenly realised that by reducing the number of letter variations, the problem of finding keys on the typewriter could be easily solved without affecting the legibility of the text. He decided then and there to work on unifying all the variations of the Arabic letters. The architect’s name was Nasri Khattar, and he called his project Unified Arabic.

Students of Arabic start by learning its basic, unconnected letter shapes, only to be confronted with a myriad of wildly differing variations. The letter meem, aside from its four basic shapes, has more than 30 ligature forms.

Unified Arabic (UA) is basically a set of 30 letterforms, one for each letter of the Arabic alphabet, plus hamza and lam alef, eliminating the variant forms that make reading and writing Arabic difficult for beginners. The Arabic writing system is based on flowing calligraphic forms that connect letters within words, and the letters vary in shape according to their position in the word. Most of its 28 letters have four varying shapes, initial, medial, final and isolated, but, with the addition of ligature forms (used when writing specific letter combinations) and vocalisation marks, a complete set of glyphs can easily reach up to 150 shapes, depending on the complexity of the script. This made typing Arabic immensely complicated, as the large number of Arabic letter variants was too large to fit on the 44 available keys but Khattar realised that matters could be greatly simplified by distilling the hundreds of variant shapes into their most characteristic forms.

Using a reductive design process, Khattar worked to discover these characteristic shapes. Hundreds of sketches reveal a struggle with the most basic forms on both the functional and aesthetic levels, while other sketches try to find solutions—ranging from the simple to the bizarre—for the dots and the vocalisation marks. Furthermore, the letters are designed to be representative of the streamlined spirit of Western civilisation: quick, mechanised and labour saving, similar to Latin type forms and proportions, which Khattar acknowledged as one of his inspirations.

But would typewriter manufacturers be interested enough to invest in the project? Remington Rand was the first to be approached, but the project quickly proved unrewarding, although one prototype Unified Arabic machine was actually produced. IBM, however, was quick to recognise UA’s socio-political implications, and so the journey began.

‘I am going to stake my reputation as a literacy man: I believe that, using this alphabet, the illiterate will learn in one-tenth the time that it now takes; and that means that probably ten times as many people will learn to read.’ — Frank Laubach

Unified Arabic was not the first attempt to adapt Arabic to mechanical printing processes. As early as the 15th century, printers had attempted to simulate the cursive forms using movable type, but their efforts to stay true to the script’s calligraphic nature resulted in type cases of up to 500 characters per font (roughly eight times the size of the Latin character set), making manual and mechanical typesetting a laborious task at odds with the demands of unit-based mass production.

By the end of the 19th century, the detrimental social and economic effects of the impracticality of printed Arabic were clear: throughout the Levant region (modern-day Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt) illiteracy was widespread, and books were scarce and expensive, available exclusively to the ruling class and clergy. However, after 400 years of stagnation under Ottoman rule in Syria and Lebanon, and influenced by French and English colonial rule in Egypt, the people of the region were gradually waking up to the distant thunder of the Industrial Revolution coming from the West, setting the stage for renewed efforts to facilitate reproduction of the Arabic printed word.

Spurred by a growing rate of literacy, inadequate supply of books and favourable political circumstances, several reform trials in the Arab region began, instigating a movement of cultural change closely linked to the printed word. This movement, a form of a revived Arab Renaissance, called for a literary cultural awakening, new religious interpretations, modernised political ideas and language reform, opening the door to a new visual interpretation of the Arabic letterforms. By the beginning of the 20th century, the time was ripe for rapid modernisation. Unified Arabic, whose core idea was simplification by eliminating the unnecessary, seemed perfectly matched to its time."
arabic  typography  middleeast  literacy  language  education  yatakhourynammour  unifiedarabic  typewriters  print  printability  masrikhattar  linguistics 
may 2016 by robertogreco
From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy [.pdf]
Gustavo Esteva
Madhu S. Prakash
Dana L. Stuchul

"At the end of his life, Freire wrote a short book, Pedagogía de la autonomía. (Freire, 1997) In it, he offers a meditation on his life and work, while returning to his most important themes. Freire reminds us that his education, his pedagogy, is pointedly and purposively ideological and interventionist. It requires mediators. Here again, it addresses those mediators: a final call to involve them in the crusade.
The leitmotiv of the book, the thread woven through every page as it occurred everyday in the life of Freire, is the affirmation of the universal ethic of the human being --- universal love as an ontological vocation. He recognizes its historical character. And he reminds us that it is not any ethic: it is the ethic of human solidarity. (Freire, 1996, p.124) Freire promotes a policy of human development, privileging men and humans, rather than profit. (Freire, 1996, p.125) He proclaims solidarity as a historical commitment of men and women, as one of the forms of struggle capable of promoting and instilling the universal ethic of the human being. (Freire, 1997, p.13)

Similar to liberation theology (an option for the poor) courageously adopted by an important sector of the Catholic Church in Latin America, Freire finds a foundation and a destiny for his theory and practice in the ideal of solidarity. Solidarity expresses an historical commitment based on a universal ethics. Solidarity legitimizes intervention in the lives of others in order to conscienticize them. Derived from charity, caritas, the Greek and Latin word for love, and motivated by care, by benevolence, by love for the other, conscientization becomes a universal, ethical imperative.

Certainly, Freire was fully aware of the nature of modern aid; of what he called false generosity. He identified clearly the disabling and damaging impact of all kinds of such aid. Yet, for all of his clarity and awareness, he is unable to focus his critique on service: particularly that service provided by service professionals. Freire's specific blindness is an inability to identify the false premises and dubious interventions --- in the name of care --- of one specific class of service professionals: educators.

In its modern institutional form, qua service, care is the mask of love. This mask is not a false face. The modernized service-provider believes in his care and love, perhaps more than even the serviced. The mask is the face. (McKnight, 1977, p.73) Yet, the mask of care and love obscure the economic nature of service, the economic interests behind it. Even worse, this mask hides the disabling nature of service professions, like education.

All of the caring, disabling professions are based on the assumption or presupposition of a lack, a deficiency, a need, that the professional service can best satisfy. The very modern creation of the needy man, a product of economic society, of capitalism, and the very mechanism through which needs are systematically produced in the economic society, are hidden behind the idea of service. Once the need is identified, the necessity of service becomes evident. It is a mechanism analogous to the one used by an expert to transmogrify a situation into a "problem" whose solution --- usually including his own services --- he proposes.

In this way, Freire constructed the human need for the conscience he conceived. In attributing such need to his oppressed, he also constructed the process to satisfy it: conscientization. Thus, the process reifies the need and the outcome: only conscientization can address the need for an improved conscience and consciousness and only education can deliver conscientization. This educational servicing of the oppressed, however, is masked: as care, love, vocation, historical commitment, as an expression of Freire's universal ethic of solidarity. Freire's blindness is his inability to perceive the disabling effect of his various activities or strategies of conscientization. He seems unaware that the business of modern society is service and that social service in modern society is business. (McKnight, 1997, p.69) Today, economic powers like the USA pride themselves in being post-industrial: that is, the replacement of smoke stacks and sweatshops moved to the South, with an economy retooled for global supremacy in providing service. With ever increasing needs, satisfaction of these needs requires more service resulting in unlimited economic growth.

Freire was also unaware that solidarity, both the word and the idea, are today the new mask of aid and development, of care and love. For example, in the 1990s, the neoliberal government of Mexican president Carlos Salinas used a good portion of the funds obtained through privatization to implement the Programa Nacional de Solidaridad. The program was celebrated by the World Bank as the best social program in the world. It is now well documented that, like all other wars against poverty, it was basically a war waged against the poor, widening and deepening the condition it was supposed to cure, a condition that, in the first place, was aggravated by the policies associated with the neoliberal credo.

Freire could not perceive the corruption of love through caring, through service. Furthermore, he was unable to perceive that the very foundation of his own notion of universal, globalized love, God's love for his children through Christ, is also a corruption of Christianity. (Cayley, 2000)

Freire was particularly unable to perceive the impact of the corruption which occurs when the oppressed are transformed into the objects of service: as clients, beneficiaries, and customers. Having created a radical separation between his oppressed and their educators, Freire was unsuccessful in bringing them together, despite all his attempts to do so through his dialogue, his deep literacy --- key words for empowerment and participation. All these pedagogical and curricular tools of education prove themselves repeatedly to be counterproductive: they produce the opposite of what they pretend to create. Instead of liberation, they add to the lives of oppressed clients, more chains and more dependency on the pedagogy and curricula of the mediator.iii.

During the last several centuries, all kinds of agents have pretended to "liberate" pagans, savages, natives, the oppressed, the under-developed, the uneducated, under-educated, and the illiterate in the name of the Cross, civilization (i.e. Westernization), capitalism or socialism, human rights, democracy, a universal ethic, progress or any other banner of development. Every time the mediator conceptualizes the category or class of the oppressed in his/her own terms, with his/her own ideology, he is morally obligated to evangelize: to promote among them, for their own good, the kind of transformation he or she defines as liberation. Yet, a specific blindness seems to be the common denominator among these mediators: an awareness of their own oppression. In assuming that they have succeeded in reaching an advanced level or stage of awareness, conscience, or even liberation (at least in theory, in imagination, in dreams), and in assuming, even more, that what their oppressed lack is this specific notion or stage, they assume and legitimate their own role as liberators. Herein, they betray their intentions.

In response to colonization, Yvonne Dion-Buffalo and John Mohawk recently suggested that colonized peoples have three choices: 1) to become good subjects, accepting the premises of the modern West without much question, 2) to become bad subjects, always resisting the parameters of the colonizing world, or 3) to become non-subjects, acting and thinking in ways far removed from those of the modern West. (Quoted in Esteva and Prakash, 1998, p.45)"



"In his denunciation of the discrimination suffered by the illiterate, Freire does not see, smell, imagine or perceive the differential reality of the oral world. While aspiring to eliminate all these forms of discrimination from the planet, he takes for granted, without more critical consideration, that reading and writing are fundamental basic needs for all humans. And, he embraces the implications of such assumptions: that the illiterate person is not a full human being.

Freire's pedagogic method requires that literacy should be rooted in the socio- political context of the illiterate. He is convinced that in and through such a process, they would acquire a critical judgement about the society in which they suffer oppression. But he does not take into account any critical consideration of the oppressive and alienating character implicit in the tool itself, the alphabet. He can not bring his reflection and practice to the point in which it is possible, like with many other modern tools, to establish clear limits to the alphabet in order to create the conditions for the oppressed to critically use the alphabet instead of being used by it."



"IV. Resisting Love: The Case Against Education

Freire's central presupposition: that education is a universal good, part and parcel of the human condition, was never questioned, in spite of the fact that he was personally exposed, for a long time, to an alternative view. This seems to us at least strange, if not abhorrent.
Freire was explicitly interested in the oppressed. His entire life and work were presented as a vocation committed to assuming their view, their interests. Yet, he ignored the plain fact that for the oppressed, the social majorities of the world, education has become one of the most humiliating and disabling components of their oppression: perhaps, even the very worst.



"For clarifying the issues of this essay, we chose to reflect on the life, the work, and the teachings of Gandhi, Subcommandante Marcos and Wendell Berry. Purposely, we juxtapose them to exacerbate their radical and dramatic differences. Is it absurd to even place them under the umbrella of public and private virtues we dwell on as we … [more]
gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  liberation  pedagogy  pedagogyoftheoppressed  wendellberry  solidarity  care  love  caring  carlossalinas  neoliberalism  teaching  howweteach  education  conscientization  liberationtheology  charity  service  servicelearning  economics  oppression  capitalism  mediators  leadership  evangelization  yvonnedion-buffalo  johnmohawk  legibility  decolonization  colonialism  karlmarx  ivanillich  technology  literacy  illegibility  bankingeducation  oraltradition  plato  text  writing  memory  communication  justice  modernism  class  inequality  humility  zapatistas  comandantemarcos  parochialism  globalphilia  resistance  canon  gandhi  grassroots  hope  individuality  newness  sophistication  specialization  professionalization  dislocation  evolution  careerism  alienation  self-knowledge  schooling  schools  progress  power  victimization  slow  small 
may 2016 by robertogreco
The Reading Wars: Why Natural Learning Fails in Classrooms | Psychology Today
"Researchers have conducted systematic case studies of precocious readers, through interviews of parents, and have compared them with other children to see if they are unique in any ways other than their early reading. The results of such studies, overall, support the following conclusions:[1,2]

• Precocious reading does not depend on unusually high IQ or any particular personality trait. Although some precocious readers have IQ scores in the gifted range, many others score about average. Personality tests likewise reveal no consistent differences between precocious readers and other children.

• Precocious reading is not strongly linked to social class. Some studies have found it to be as frequent in blue-collar as in white-collar families. However, it does seem to depend on growing up in a family where reading is a common and valued activity.

• Parents of precocious readers report that they or an older sibling often read to the child, but did not in any systematic way attempt to teach reading. In the typical case, the parents at some point discovered, to their surprise, that their child was reading, at least in a preliminary way, and then they fostered that reading by providing appropriate reading materials, answering the child’s questions about words, and in some cases pointing out the relationship between letters and sounds to help with unfamiliar words. In essentially no cases, however, did they provide anything like the systematic training in either phonics or word recognition that might occur in school.

In sum, precocious readers appear to be children who grow up in a literate home and, for some unknown reason (unlike even their siblings in the same home), develop an intense early interest in reading. Interest, not unusual brain development, is what distinguishes them from others. Because they are interested and strongly motivated, they use whatever cues are available to figure out the meanings of printed words and sentences, and, along the way, with or without help, consciously or unconsciously, they eventually infer the underlying phonetic code and use it to read new words. For them, reading for meaning comes first, before phonics. In the words of one set of researchers, “[The precocious readers] were not taught the prerequisite skills of reading such as phoneme-grapheme correspondence or letter-naming skills but, instead, learned to read familiar, meaningful sight vocabulary; the rules of reading were not explicitly taught but apparently inferred over time.”[1]

The fact that precocious readers learn to read relatively quickly, before they are four years old, with no evidence of stress and much evidence of pleasure, suggests that learning to read in this way is not very difficult when a person really wants to do it. Learning to read, for them, quite literally, is child's play.

How unschoolers and children in democratic or free schools learn to read

In a previous report (here), I presented a qualitative analysis of case histories of learning to read by children in unschooling families (who don’t send their children to school or teach a curriculum at home) and by children at the Sudbury Valley School (where students are in charge of their own education and there is no imposed curriculum or instruction). I won’t repeat that work in detail here, but, in brief, some of the main conclusions were these: (1) Children in these settings learn to read at a wide variety of ages; (2) at whatever age they learn, they learn quite quickly when they are truly motivated to do so; (3) attempts by parents to teach reading to unmotivated children generally fail and often seem to delay the child's interest in reading; and (4) being read to and engaging in meaningful ways with literary material with skilled readers (older children or adults) facilitates learning.

In sum, these children seem to learn to read in essentially the same ways that precocious readers learn, but at a wide variety of ages. They learn when and because they are interested in reading, and they use whatever information is available to help them, including information provided by people who already know how to read. They are not systematically taught, and the people who help them generally have no training or expertise in the teaching of reading.

The reading wars, and the failure of progressive methods of reading instruction in schools

We turn now from self-motivated children learning to read out of school to children who are taught in school, where the assumption is that they must learn to read at a certain age and in a certain way, whether they want to or not. In school, learning to read appears to be unnatural and difficult. It occurs at a snail’s pace, incrementally over several years, Even after three or four years of training many children are not fluent readers.

Progressive educators have always argued that learning to read should not be slow and tedious. They have argued for “whole-word” and “whole-language” methods of teaching reading, which, they claim, are more natural and pleasurable than phonics-first methods. Although the progressive educators commonly think of themselves as proposing something new, contrasted with “traditional education,” the progressive arguments actually go back at least to the origin of compulsory state schooling in America. Horace Mann, the first secretary of education in any state in the union, who oversaw the passage of the first state compulsory education law (in Massachusetts, in 1852), fought for the whole-word approach and railed against phonics. In the early 20th century John Dewey and progressive educators inspired by him were champions of holistic, reading-for-meaning approaches. Later, in the 1970s and ‘80s, Kenneth Goodman and Frank Smith took up the torch and promoted what they called the whole-language approach.

On the other side are those who have long argued that phonics is the key to reading and should be taught early and directly. Noah Webster, sometimes referred to as the “Father of American Scholarship and Education,” was an early warrior in the phonics camp. In the late 18th century, he created the first series of books designed to teach reading and spelling in secular schools, and they were founded on phonics. In the mid 20th century, Rudolph Flesch turned the tide back toward phonics with his bestselling book, Why Johnny Can’t Read (1955). He argued convincingly that the progressive movement had produced a serious decline in reading ability in American schoolchildren because it ignored phonics. In the most recent two decades, the leading proponents of phonics include educational researchers who base their argument on experiments and data more than theory. Many carefully controlled experiments have by now been conducted to compare the reading scores of children taught by different methods in different classrooms, and the results of the great majority of them favor phonics.[3]

Because of their intensity and presumed importance, these debates about how to teach reading have long been dubbed “the Reading Wars.” Today, the majority (though not all) of the experts who have examined the data have declared that the wars are over—phonics has won. The data seem clear. Overall, children who are taught phonics from the beginning become better readers, sooner, than those who are taught by whole-word or whole-language methods. The learning is still slow and tedious, but not as slow and tedious for phonics learners as for those taught by other methods.

Why natural learning fails in classrooms

So, we have this puzzle. Out of school, children learn to read by what appear to be whole-word, whole-language methods. They read right off for meaning and they learn to recognize whole words and read whole passages before they pay much attention to individual letters or sounds. Phonics comes later, based on inferences that may be conscious or unconscious. Learning to read out of school is in some ways like learning oral language; you learn it, including the rules, with little awareness that you are learning it and little awareness of the rules that underlie it. But that doesn’t work well for learning to read in school. Learning there is better if you master the rules (the rules relating letters to sounds) before attending much to meaning. 

The mistake of the progressive educators, I think, has been to assume that the classroom is or can be a natural learning environment.  It isn’t, and (except in unusual circumstances) it can’t be. The classroom is a setting where you have a rather large group of children, all about the same age, and a teacher whose primary tasks are to keep order and impart a curriculum—the same curriculum for everyone. In that setting, the teacher decides what to do, not the students. If students decided, they would all decide on different things and there would be chaos. No matter how liberal-minded the teacher is, real, prolonged self-direction and self-motivation is not possible in the classroom. In this setting, children must suppress their own interests, not follow them. While children out of school learn what and because they want to, children in school must learn or go through the motions of learning what the teacher wants them to learn in the way the teacher wants them to do it. The result is slow, tedious, shallow learning that is about procedure, not meaning, regardless of the teacher’s intent.

The classroom is all about training. Training is the process of getting reluctant organisms to do or learn what the trainer wants them to do or learn. Under those conditions, methods that focus on the mechanical processes underlying reading—the conversion of sights to sounds—work better than methods that attempt to promote reading through meaning, which requires that students care about the meaning, which requires that they be able to follow their own interests, which is not possible in the classroom… [more]
education  reading  literacy  progressive  2016  petergray  children  teaching  learning  naturallearning  unschooling  schools  training  coercion  interests  emergentcurriculum  phonics  rules  wholelanguage  noahwebster  precociousreaders  precociousreading 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Networked Learning as Experiential Learning | EDUCAUSE
"No one believes that knowing the alphabet and sounding out words mean that a person possesses the deep literacy needed for college-level learning. Yet our ideas about digital literacy are steadily becoming more impoverished, to the point that many of my current students, immersed in a "walled garden" world of apps and social media, know almost nothing about the web or the Internet. For the first time since the emergence of the web, this past year I discovered that the majority of my sophomore-level students did not understand the concept of a URL and thus struggled with the effective use and formation of hyperlinks in the networked writing class that VCU's University College affectionately calls "Thought Vectors in Concept Space"—a phrase attributed by Kay to Engelbart and one that describes the fundamentally experiential aspect of networked learning.5 My students appeared not to be able to parse the domains in which they published their work, which meant that they could not consistently imagine how to locate or link to each other's work by simply examining the structure of the URLs involved. If one cannot understand the organizing principles of a built environment, one cannot contribute to the building. And if one cannot contribute to the building, certain vital modes of knowing will be forever out of reach.

Yet educators seeking to provide what Carl Rogers called the "freedom to learn" continue to work on those digital high-impact practices.6 It is a paradoxical task, to be sure, but it is one worth attempting—particularly now, when "for the first time in the still-short span of human history, the experience of creating media for a potentially large public is available to a multitude."7 Students' experience of what Henry Jenkins has articulated as the networked mediation of "participatory culture" must extend their experience to school as well.8 School as a site of the high-impact practice of learner-built, instructor-facilitated, digitally networked learning can transform the experience of education even as it preserves, and scales, our commitment to the education of the whole person.

The web was designed for just this kind of collaboration. One does not need permission to make a hyperlink. Yet one does need "the confident insight, the authority of media-making" to create meaning out of those links. Such confidence and authority should be among the highest learning outcomes available to our students within what Mimi Ito and others have described as "connected learning."9 Learner-initiated connections that identify both the nodes and the lines between them, instead of merely connecting the dots that teachers have already established (valuable as that might be), co-create what Lawrence Stenhouse argues is "the nature of knowledge . . . as distinct from information"—"a structure to sustain creative thought and provide frameworks for judgment." Such structures can encourage an enormously beneficial flowering of human diversity, one that lies beyond the reach of prefabricated outcomes: "Education as induction into knowledge is successful to the extent that it makes the behavioural outcomes of the students unpredictable."10

Offering students the possibility of experiential learning in personal, interactive, networked computing—in all its gloriously messy varieties—provides the richest opportunity yet for integrative thinking within and beyond "schooling." If higher education can embrace the complexity of networked learning and can value the condition of emergence that networked learning empowers, there may still be time to encourage networked learning as a structure and a disposition, a design and a habit of being."
networkedlearning  2016  gardnercampbell  jeromebruner  georgekuh  experientialleaerning  experience  learning  howwelearn  education  carlrogers  hypertext  web  online  internet  literacy  alankay  dougengelbart  adelegoldberg  tednelson  vannevarbush  jcrlicklider  georgedyson  alanturing  johnvonneumann  self-actualization  unschooling  deschooling  progressive  networks  social 
february 2016 by robertogreco
When Television Is More Than an “Idiot Box” — The Development Set — Medium
"Around the world, TV educates while it entertains. It can teach the internet a few things, too."



"When it comes to education and technology, it is not television but the internet that is hot and wired. The United Nation’s Broadband Commission, packed with luminaries from Mexico’s Carlos Slim to Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, suggests that the internet can “enhance learning opportunities, transform the teaching and learning environment… and ultimately rethink and transform” education systems.

At first glance, the internet could be a very attractive tool to overcome a global learning crisis. At the turn of the 21st century, the World Bank reported that about seven percent of the world’s population was online. Last year, it had reached 41 percent.

But it turns out just giving kids access to the web doesn’t do much for educational outcomes. Across countries that take part in the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA), children who use computers more intensively do worse on tests. One Laptop Per Child, which distributes cheap computers in developing countries, has been beset by failure. In Peru, they had no impact on math and language test scores. Similar findings emerged in Nepal. Likewise, extending access to broadband in schools in Portugal led to lower grades — although the impact was reduced if YouTube was blocked.

There is a simple explanation. When you give kids a computer, they’re not suddenly more excited by math and social studies. Children are, for the most part, more interested in the medium’s entertainment capabilities."



"Under some circumstances, television can be at least as effective as traditional instruction. Mexico’s Telesecundaria programming broadcasts six hours of lessons a day to children in remote areas of the country where there is no secondary school.

For the most part, though, television has remained an adjunct in the classroom, rather than a replacement for teachers. But as a more holistic tool for learning outside the classroom, it has had a massive impact — particularly when it serves its primary function to entertain and not educate.

Recent research suggests there can be a considerable upside to hours “wasting time” in front of the television screen. Take Chitrahaar and Rangoli. Illiterate school kids who watched the shows were more than twice as likely to be functionally literate five years later than kids who didn’t watch the shows. The effect was particularly noticeable for girls. Given the reach of these two programs, it’s possible that millions of Indian kids became literate largely thanks to the simple and very cheap approach of same-language subtitling.

Perhaps the most well known form of educational entertainment, or “edutainment,” for children is Sesame Street, which is now broadcast in more than thirty countries around the world. In the US, children who grew up in areas where the television signal was stronger — and so had better access to Sesame Street — were much less likely to have to repeat a grade in school. In Mexico, viewers of Plaza Sesamo do better in literacy and mathematics tests. The results are the same in Turkey (Susam Sokagi), Portugal (Rua Sesamo), Russia (Ulitsa Sezam) and Bangladesh (Sisimpur), to name but a few.

elevision’s educational power extends beyond childhood, and beyond skills traditionally learned in a classroom. As cable access rolled out across India, for example, viewers of all ages started watching shows where comparatively strong women characters had financial and social independence. Women in villages with cable access reported more power over making decisions and less acceptance of wife beating. These villages also began to see declining birth rates and rapidly rising school enrollment for girls.

Similar effects have been observed around the world. In Brazil, as the Rede Globo channel extended across the country in the 1970s and 1980s, parents began to have fewer children, perhaps mimicking the characters on their favorite soaps. Recent research in Nigeria finds that areas where the TV signal is stronger see parents wanting fewer children and using contraceptives more, alongside lower rates of female genital cutting. In South Africa, World Bank researchers found that viewers of one locally produced soap opera, “Scandal”, which was specifically developed to incorporate plot lines dealing with financial responsibility, were almost twice as likely to borrow from formal sources of credit like banks rather than informal sources. They were also less likely to engage in gambling.

When soap opera characters are relatable and believable, audiences begin to associate with them. If a beloved character stands up for herself in front of her husband, or gets in over their head in debt, or gets pregnant by accident, viewers learn from that experience. And that knowledge translates into changed behavior: more control within the household, less informal debt, fewer children.

Heavy-handed public service messages on television, like condescending “the more you know” spots, may impart information but rarely engage viewers. The same may well be true of the internet. For most children in particular, it is primarily used as a source of fun and not education.

Pioneers around the world are already experimenting with internet-based edutainment for kids. Sites like ABC Mouse, among countless others, produce educational games for children. Pratham, an Indian NGO, has developed a program combining math questions with an arcade game. Children who used it for two hours a week saw their math test scores considerably improve. Given the internet’s interactive nature, perhaps the impact of well-designed web edutainment will end up being even greater than the broadcast variety.

Edutainment will never be able to replace teachers in a classroom. But well-designed programming — whether it arrives by broadcast or broadband — can have a dramatic impact at low cost."
charleskenny  television  tv  education  learning  howwelearn  2016  olpc  entertainment  mexico  turkey  russia  portugal  bangladesh  india  sesamestreet  literacy  math  mathematics 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Teaching Rebellion: Schools Must Cultivate A Struggle for Justice | The Progressive
[Remarks by José Vilson:

"The issue with only focusing on literacy for its own sake is that some kids get to learn how to read manuals and some get to create them."
https://twitter.com/TheJLV/status/682326011632062465

"Inequity isn't just about access to academics, but the actual pedagogy, which is largely a function of the adults and the systems within."
https://twitter.com/TheJLV/status/682327316492582912 ]

"“Our ultimate objective in learning about anything is to try to create and develop a more just society”-Yuri Kochiyama

These words from human rights activist Yuri Kochiyama are never far from my mind each morning as I think about my students. I plan our lessons as just one tiny sliver of a great, historic justice movement.

So much of the debate in education is about how poverty and other outside forces impact kids in school, but in many classrooms students are learning to use their education to fight poverty and systemic oppression. With a nod to Dr. King, if we are to win, we must focus all of our energy on tilting the moral arc of the universe toward justice and to counter those who are actively pushing in the opposite direction.

For many across the country right now, this idea is contained in the image of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old executed in a short minute by 16 shots from a Chicago police officer’s gun. Laquan didn’t need more academic rigor, he needed a city that valued his life.

But if the Laquan McDonald shooting is a wake up call to the nation, it reflects something we in Chicago have known all along. We live in city ruled by people who do not value the lives of black youth. Chicago Police rank third nationally in shooting and killing residents, and disproportionately shoot African Americans. Chicago police harass residents, especially youth of color, with a stop-and-frisk rate nearly sixty times that of New York police.

In Chicago, groups like Black Youth Project 100, STOP/FLY, VOYCE, and Project NIA have been fighting this battle for years. These young folks are very clear about the systemic nature of this deadly oppression. The Chicago Teachers Union and its social justice unionist caucus CORE (of which I am a member) have joined the students to take vocal stands against racist oppression both in the streets and within our schools.

We all agree that mayor Rahm Emanuel and the powerful people who worked to get him elected don’t care, or know how to care, about kids afflicted by poverty in our communities. We see this in the Laquan McDonald video and those of the killings of Ronald Johnson and Philip Coleman and others. The mayor and his cronies drop crocodile tears, apologies, and promises to change, even as they fight the release of news about the murder of another Chicago youth. We see the same callousness in the systemic protection of Dante Servin who murdered Rekia Boyd.

Thousands of people who poured into the streets demanding the resignations of Rahm Emanuel and other city leaders responsible for these injustices will not be placated by apologies and spin doctoring.

The Chicago Teachers Union has announced that 88% of its teachers voted to authorize a strike. Only 4% voted against. We have even invited parent and community groups to the bargaining table to voice their own demands, much to the board’s chagrin. Those opposed might paint our demands for more libraries, nurses, and social workers as unfeasible given the school district’s financial crisis. But our students’ lives matter, and they deserve the same services that Mayor Emanuel’s own children receive.

In this context, Kochiyama’s quote seems to me a deep universal truth to embed in the heart of every student. When a young person knows he or she might die in the street at the hands of a police officer who is supposed to be there to protect all kids’ safety, the respectability politics of “no excuses,” “academic rigor,” and “college and career ready,” add insult to a desperate, injurious reality.

Why waste precious class time doing a close read of a technical manual from a Pearson reader when we can read local newspapers and community blogs? Why should students learn docile obedience in class when the times call for us to civilly disobey and march in the streets? What does “College and Career Ready” matter when the bodies of students of color are being obliterated?

Kochiyama’s quote is not so much a directive, but a brilliant guiding light.

For the last month at my school, our 7th and 8th grade students have studied the Laquan McDonald case as part of a broader look at race, justice, policing, and violence in 21st century Chicago. The students have participated in actions of their choice, and built their own campaigns, for example a push to amend the uniform policy to allow all black dress for #BlackoutTuesday in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

They ask me each morning, “When’s the next protest? “Has Rahm Emanuel resigned yet?”

Students at Roosevelt High School are boycotting the unhealthy lunches served to them; at Dusable Campus students launched a sit-in to protest the closing of one of the few remaining libraries left in primarily black high schools. Student leaders are joining community activists for a walkout calling for Mayor Emanuel’s resignation.

Our youth are not failing. They are reacting with their whole hearts to what they feel and witness in their communities. For too long, school has been a place where righteous youth rebellion is smothered and placated. Too many teachers put a halt to social justice in their classrooms with the phrase: “It’s good you want to act, but don’t disrupt the teaching and learning here."

Let’s make school a place to plan, build skills and plot to smash injustice. Let’s teach our students that it is not only permissible, but desired for them wake up every single day with their minds set on justice, and that they can use their schools to fight for their own and our communities’ survival.

As Grace Lee Boggs put it, “We are the leaders we’ve been waiting for.”

In that sense, this isn’t just Chicago’s struggle. Yes, we have a particularly oppressive leadership. But the reality is the same elsewhere. If you are an educator, join us with your own students. Create a space for students to develop into leaders of this movement. If you are not a teacher, help us by recognizing that our communities need to stop waiting for outside leadership. Let’s grab the future!"
xianbarrett  yurikochiyama  2015  revolution  criticalthinking  schools  chicago  education  teaching  howweteach  local  community  relevance  empowerment  curriculum  josévilson  socialjustice  activism  democracy  publicschools  literacy  power  voice  pedagogy 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Kindergarten Has Become the New First Grade - The Atlantic
"Pendulum shifts in education are as old as our republic. Steven Mintz, a historian who has written about the evolution of American childhood, describes an oscillation in the national zeitgeist between the notion of a “protected” childhood and that of a “prepared” one. Starting in the early 2000s, though, a confluence of forces began pushing preferences ever further in the direction of preparation: the increasing numbers of dual-career families scrambling to arrange child care; a new scientific focus on the cognitive potential of the early years; and concerns about growing ability gaps between well-off and disadvantaged children, which in turn fueled the trend of standards-based testing in public schools.

Preschool is a relatively recent addition to the American educational system. With a few notable exceptions, the government had a limited role in early education until the 1960s, when the federal Head Start program was founded. Before mothers entered the full-time workforce in large numbers, private preschools were likewise uncommon, and mainly served as a safe social space for children to learn to get along with others.

In the past few decades, however, we have seen a major transfer of child care and early learning from home to institution: Nearly three-quarters of American 4-year-olds are now in some kind of nonfamily care. That category spans a dizzying mix of privately and publicly funded preschool environments, including family-run day cares, private preschools in church basements, and Head Start programs in public elementary schools, to name a few. Across all of them, the distinction between early education and “official” school seems to be eroding.

When I survey parents of preschoolers, they tend to be on board with many of these changes, either because they fear that the old-fashioned pleasures of unhurried learning have no place in today’s hypercompetitive world or because they simply can’t find, or afford, a better option. The stress is palpable: Pick the “wrong” preschool or ease up on the phonics drills at home, and your child might not go to college. She might not be employable. She might not even be allowed to start first grade!

Media attention to the cognitive potential of early childhood has a way of exacerbating such worries, but the actual academic consensus on the components of high-quality early education tells another story. According to experts such as the Yale professor Edward Zigler, a leader in child-development and early-education policy for half a century, the best preschool programs share several features: They provide ample opportunities for young children to use and hear complex, interactive language; their curriculum supports a wide range of school-readiness goals that include social and emotional skills and active learning; they encourage meaningful family involvement; and they have knowledgeable and well-qualified teachers.

As an early-childhood educator, I’ve clocked many hours in many preschool classrooms, and I have found that I can pretty quickly take the temperature from the looks on kids’ faces, the ratio of table space to open areas, and the amount of conversation going on in either. In a high-quality program, adults are building relationships with the children and paying close attention to their thought processes and, by extension, their communication. They’re finding ways to make the children think out loud.

The real focus in the preschool years should be not just on vocabulary and reading, but on talking and listening. We forget how vital spontaneous, unstructured conversation is to young children’s understanding. By talking with adults, and one another, they pick up information. They learn how things work. They solve puzzles that trouble them. Sometimes, to be fair, what children take away from a conversation is wrong. They might conclude, as my young son did, that pigs produce ham, just as chickens produce eggs and cows produce milk. But these understandings are worked over, refined, and adapted—as when a brutal older sibling explains a ham sandwich’s grisly origins.

Teachers play a crucial role in supporting this type of learning. A 2011 study in the journal Child Development found that preschool teachers’ use of sophisticated vocabulary in informal classroom settings predicted their students’ reading comprehension and word knowledge in fourth grade. Unfortunately, much of the conversation in today’s preschool classrooms is one-directional and simplistic, as teachers steer students through a highly structured schedule, herding them from one activity to another and signaling approval with a quick “good job!”

Consider the difference between a teacher’s use of a closed statement versus an open-ended question. Imagine that a teacher approaches a child drawing a picture and exclaims, “Oh, what a pretty house!” If the child is not actually drawing a house, she might feel exposed, and even if she is drawing a house, the teacher’s remark shuts down further discussion: She has labeled the thing and said she likes it. What more is there to add? A much more helpful approach would be to say, “Tell me about your drawing,” inviting the child to be reflective. It’s never possible to anticipate everything a small person needs to learn, so open-ended inquiry can reveal what is known and unknown. Such a small pedagogic difference can be an important catalyst for a basic, but unbounded, cognitive habit—the act of thinking out loud.

Conversation is gold. It’s the most efficient early-learning system we have. And it’s far more valuable than most of the reading-skills curricula we have been implementing: One meta-analysis of 13 early-childhood literacy programs “failed to find any evidence of effects on language or print-based outcomes.” Take a moment to digest that devastating conclusion.

I was recently asked to review a popular preschool curriculum that comes with a big box of thematic units, including lists of words and “key concepts” that children are supposed to master. One objective of the curriculum’s ocean unit, for example, is to help preschoolers understand “the importance of the ocean to the environment.” Children are given a list of specific terms to learn, including exoskeleton, scallop shell, blubber, and tube feet. At first glance, this stuff seems fun and educational, but doesn’t this extremely narrow articulation of “key concepts” feel a little off? What’s so special about blubber, anyway? Might a young child not want to ponder bigger questions: What is water? Where do the blue and green come from? Could anything be more beautiful and more terrifying than an ocean?

The shift from an active and exploratory early-childhood pedagogy to a more scripted and instruction-based model does not involve a simple trade-off between play and work, or between joy and achievement. On the contrary, the preoccupation with accountability has led to a set of measures that favor shallow mimicry and recall behaviors, such as learning vocabulary lists and recognizing shapes and colors (something that a dog can do, by the way, but that is in fact an extraordinarily low bar for most curious 4-year-olds), while devaluing complex, integrative, and syncretic learning.

Last year, I observed some preschoolers conversing about whether snakes have bones. They argued at length among themselves, comparing the flexible serpentine body with dinosaur fossils and fish, both of which they had previously explored. There was no clear consensus on how these various creatures could contain the same hard skeletons, but I watched, transfixed, as each child added to the groundwork another had laid. The teacher gently guided the group as a captain might steer a large ship, with the tiniest nudge of the wheel. Finally, a little boy who had seen a snake skeleton in a museum became animated as he pantomimed the structure of a snake’s spine in a series of karate chops: “One bone, one bone, one bone,” he informed his friends. “I think we’re all going to have to do a lot more research,” the teacher replied, impressed. This loosely Socratic method is a perfect fit for young minds; the problem is that it doesn’t conform easily to a school-readiness checklist.

The academic takeover of American early learning can be understood as a shift from what I would call an “ideas-based curriculum” to a “naming-and-labeling-based curriculum.” Not coincidentally, the latter can be delivered without substantially improving our teaching force. Inexperienced or poorly supported teachers are directed to rely heavily on scripted lesson plans for a reason: We can point to a defined objective, and tell ourselves that at least kids are getting something this way.

But that something—while relatively cheap to provide—is awfully thin gruel. One major study of 700 preschool classrooms in 11 states found that only 15 percent showed evidence of effective interactions between teacher and child. Fifteen percent.

We neglect vital teacher-child interactions at our peril. Although the infusion of academics into preschool has been justified as a way to close the achievement gap between poor and well-off children, Robert Pianta, one of the country’s leading child-policy experts, cautions that there is “no evidence whatsoever” that our early-learning system is suited to that task. He estimates that the average preschool program “narrows the achievement gap by perhaps only 5 percent,” compared with the 30 to 50 percent that studies suggest would be possible with higher-quality programs. Contrasting the dismal results of Tennessee’s preschool system with the more promising results in places such as Boston, which promotes active, child-centered learning (and, spends more than twice the national average on preschool), lends further credence to the idea that preschool quality really does matter.

It’s become almost a cliché to look to Finland’s educational system for inspiration. As has … [more]
education  pedagogy  learning  literacy  listening  preschool  kindergarten  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  finland  erikachristakis  2015  schools  edreform  conversation  vocabulary  cv  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  directinstruction  schoolreadiness 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves - The New York Times
"When I was 13, in the early 1990s, I dug through my parents’ cache of vinyl records from the ’60s and ’70s. We still had a phonograph, so I played some of them, concentrating on the Beatles. Their bigger hits were inescapably familiar, but a number of their songs were new to me.

Were I a teenager in 2015, I may not have found “Lovely Rita” or acquired an early taste at all for the Liverpudlian lads. The albums stacked up next to the record player, in plain sight for years, would be invisible MP3s on a computer or phone that I didn’t own. Their proximal existence could have been altogether unknown to me"



"There are several big upsides to growing up with streaming audio, one of which is accessibility: assuming I was interested enough, I could have explored, for free, the Beatles’ catalog on the Internet far beyond the scope of my parents’ collection.

But in our digital conversion of media (perhaps buttressed by application of the popular KonMari method of decluttering), physical objects have been expunged at a cost. Aside from the disappearance of record crates and CD towers, the loss of print books and periodicals can have significant repercussions on children’s intellectual development.

Perhaps the strongest case for a household full of print books came from a 2014 study published in the sociology journal Social Forces. Researchers measured the impact of the size of home libraries on the reading level of 15-year-old students across 42 nations, controlling for wealth, parents’ education and occupations, gender and the country’s gross national product.

After G.N.P., the quantity of books in one’s home was the most important predictor of reading performance. The greatest effect was seen in libraries of about 100 books, which resulted in approximately 1.5 extra years of grade-level reading performance. (Diminishing returns kick in at about 500 books, which is the equivalent of about 2.2 extra years of education.)

Libraries matter even more than money; in the United States, with the size of libraries being equal, students coming from the top 10 percent of wealthiest families performed at just one extra grade level over students from the poorest 10 percent.

The implications are clear: Owning books in the home is one of the best things you can do for your children academically. It helps, of course, if parents are reading to their children and reading themselves, not simply buying books by the yard as décor.

“It is a big question of whether it’s the books themselves or the parental scholarly culture that matters — we’re guessing it’s somewhere in between,” said Mariah Evans, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor of sociology at the University of Nevada, Reno. “The books partly reflect intelligence.”

Although the study did not account for e-books, as they’re not yet available in enough countries, Dr. Evans said in theory they could be just as effective as print books in encouraging literacy.

“But what about the casual atmosphere of living in a bookish world, and being intrigued to pull something off the shelf to see what it’s like?” she asked. “I think that will depend partly on the seamless integration of our electronic devices in the future.”"



"Digital media trains us to be high-bandwidth consumers rather than meditative thinkers. We download or stream a song, article, book or movie instantly, get through it (if we’re not waylaid by the infinite inventory also offered) and advance to the next immaterial thing.

Poking through physical artifacts, as I did with those Beatles records, is archival and curatorial; it forces you to examine each object slowly, perhaps sample it and come across a serendipitous discovery.

Scrolling through file names on a device, on the other hand, is what we do all day long, often mindlessly, in our quest to find whatever it is we’re already looking for as rapidly as possible. To see “The Beatles” in a list of hundreds of artists in an iTunes database is not nearly as arresting as holding the album cover for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

Consider the difference between listening to music digitally versus on a record player or CD. On the former, you’re more likely to download or stream only the singles you want to hear from an album. The latter requires enough of an investment — of acquiring it, but also of energy in playing it — that you stand a better chance of committing and listening to the entire album.

If I’d merely clicked on the first MP3 track of “Sgt. Pepper’s” rather than removed the record from its sleeve, placed it in the phonograph and carefully set the needle over it, I may have become distracted and clicked elsewhere long before the B-side “Lovely Rita” played.

And what of sentiment? Jeff Bezos himself would have a hard time defending the nostalgic capacity of a Kindle. azw file over that of a tattered paperback. Data files can’t replicate the lived-in feel of a piece of beloved art. To a child, a parent’s dog-eared book is a sign of a mind at work and of the personal significance of that volume.

A crisp JPEG of the cover design on a virtual shelf, however, looks the same whether it’s been reread 10 times or not at all. If, that is, it’s ever even seen."
books  digital  analog  music  browsing  2015  streaming  collections  visibility  sharing  children  learning  reading  literacy  cds  audio  patina  beausage  ebooks  data  teddywayne 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Setting the record straight on early literacy instruction - The Washington Post
"By Diane E. Levin and Nancy Carlsson-Paige

There has been much well-deserved criticism of the increase in direct instruction in reading skills to young children, resulting from the demands of the Common Core State Standards. However, when we and others argue for abandoning the current one-size-fits-all approach to early literacy, we are not proposing “natural learning environments,” where children learn to read on their own with little teacher intervention.

Yet this is the only alternative to direct, skills-based instruction that Peter Gray describes in “The Reading Wars: Why Natural Learning Fails in Classrooms,” a 2013 post at Psychology Today that he recently published on his Facebook page.

In his essay, Gray argues that learning to read in and out of classrooms is different, by its very nature. This is true. But we do not agree with his assumption that the progressive alternative to direct teaching of phonics and reading skills is to set up natural conditions that allow children to learn to read on their own. He is creating a dichotomy that illustrates an enduring misconception of progressive practice.

Decades ago, in the Harvard Education Review, Lawrence Kohlberg, an American psychologist known for his theory of moral development, and Rochelle Mayer, now a professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, astutely described a “romantic” view of learning which grows out of psychological theories that promote inner growth and development. They argue that Romantic educators create an environment where children are free to flourish and grow based on their innate and inner needs, through self-discovery.

Kohlberg and Mayer contrast this view with progressive education—the outgrowth of cognitive theory, as seen in the work of Jean Piaget, and the educational philosophy of John Dewey. In the progressive approach, the main focus is not on the skills to be learned or on the individual child, but on the interaction between the two. It’s a dynamic and complex process in which the teacher has a vital role to play.

With respect to reading, the teacher must understand the developmental progression of skills in oral language, reading and writing. The teacher must know the level of each child’s skills, as well as understand his or her unique learning needs and abilities, culture and linguistic background. With this knowledge, the teacher can purposefully build curriculum for every child that is developmentally appropriate, meaningful, and lasting.

In “Lively Minds,” a short paper that Lillian Katz wrote for Defending the Early Years, this beloved professor emerita at the University of Illinois draws a distinction between academic goals and making meaning through learning. Education, she argues, must “provide a wide range of experiences, opportunities, resources, and contexts that will provoke, stimulate, and support children’s innate intellectual dispositions.”

[Report debunks ‘earlier is better’ academic instruction for young children]

Teachers in progressive classrooms are intentional about literacy education and employ many strategies to expose children to rich oral language and print. Among them are telling and enacting stories; reading picture and chapter books; singing, reciting, and reading from posted charts (teachers using pointers to read along and helping children isolate specific letters and sounds); drawing and writing with invented and conventional spellings; taking dictation from children; and helping children write their own stories.

In organic and meaningful ways, teachers use print throughout the day—labeling block structures and interest areas, writing recipes, transcribing children’s stories, making charts for attendance and classroom jobs. Teachers tune these activities to the developmental skill levels of individual children, scaffolding new learning in ways that will build a strong foundation for lifelong success in reading.

In contrasting the whole-language and phonics skills-based approaches, or what he calls “training,” Gray ignores the complex role of the teacher in a progressive classroom. Good literacy programs integrate both phonics and meaning; for effective learning, skill-building must be connected to children’s interests and developmental levels in meaningful ways.

In these times of policy mandates and standardized education for even our youngest children, it is vital that critics be clear about the alternatives. And it’s equally important that critics not misrepresent appropriate practice, or what its proponents are advocating for. We hope that clarifying these issues will help us move forward toward best educational practice for all of our children."
literacy  children  pedagogy  progressive  progressiveeducation  reading  writing  teachingwriting  teaching  petergray  dianelevin  nancycarlsson-paige  howweteach  learning  education  schools  earlyliteracy  commoncore  johndewey 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Microsoft Hackathon 2015 winner extends OneNote to improve learning outcomes for students | News Center
"Education is a must-have ingredient for success. And to succeed in education, reading and writing is essential. The challenges that come with language barriers and learning disabilities such as dyslexia are vast and varied, but luckily technology is able to help many students overcome literacy obstacles.

One solution is coming from a team at Microsoft that spans collaboration between Windows, OneNote, Bing and Microsoft Research: the OneNote for Learning extension. The team and their project emerged victorious over more than 3,300 other projects and 13,000 other hackers around the world competing in the company’s second annual //oneweek Hackathon during the last week of July.

Sebastian Greaves, a Vancouver-based OneNote developer, thinks of the extension as a toolbox with many small tools that can solve big problems. It has special text formatting tools that can make reading, writing and note-taking easier. Features include enhanced dictation powered by Bing speech recognition services, immersive reading that uses Windows services of simultaneous audio text playback with highlighting, and natural language processing that relies on Microsoft Research.

“One of the key things we wanted to achieve is to make sure no student ever got behind in their education because of difficulties with reading,” says Greaves, who drove down to Redmond, Washington, with others from his office to work side-by-side with the entire team during Hackathon. “We wanted to make sure that was as little a barrier as possible, so they can focus on what they’re learning.”

More than a dozen of Greaves’ teammates worked together for more than eight weeks to create the free OneNote extension, which will debut this fall in several schools in the U.S. and France.

“One of the great things about this project was that we utilized loads of different services,” Greaves says. “It meant that we could do so much more than we could’ve done if we had to write it all from scratch.”

By connecting with so many existing technologies across Microsoft, the team was able to do a lot in a short period of time. Every team member made key contributions to push the project forward, says Jeff Petty, the accessibility lead for Windows for Education and the program manager who led the grand prize-winning team.

“It takes a tremendous amount of work to envision it, pull it together and then deliver it in such a way where it just makes sense for people,” says Petty. “I don’t think we could have done something as powerful without having real breadth and depth on the team.”

Petty was interested in finding opportunities to deliver better learning outcomes for students and teachers. He focused on dyslexia, which affects as much as 20 percent of the population. He connected with a team in OneNote that was working on solving problems for dyslexic readers, such as visual crowding. That team found ways to put more space between letters, which makes words more readable.

That team had won an internal OneNote hackathon in the spring for that idea, led by Valentin Dobre, a software engineer, and Greaves.

Petty recognized this was a great start, but soon he and the expanding team also realized they could do more to pull together a more wide-reaching solution for students.

“When you address challenges with reading and writing, the benefits extend far beyond the original audience you had in mind,” says Petty. “By solving a problem for one audience, we’re actually going to make life easier for many more people.”

In his work with Windows, they were able to take advantage of the immersive reading function, with the ability to highlight text and have it read aloud, which increases reading comprehension. The next big connection was finding font and reading experts in Windows research.

“They helped us gel,” Petty says. “They backed up our solutions with science. Nothing that we built came from what we just thought was a good idea. It’s all based on prior research. These are proven interventions for students with dyslexia and also techniques that create a better reader for everybody.”

The researchers provided additional ideas for improving the team’s tool chest, like breaking words down into syllables to improve word recognition, and reading comprehension mode, which highlights different parts of speech like verbs and subordinate clauses.

Mira Shah was the team’s user research expert and formerly a speech pathologist. She gave them a real-world perspective with her experience in schools and seeing firsthand what worked and what didn’t.

Petty served as the glue to the team, bringing a broad perspective to reading and writing, and kept them on track with guiding principles, such as developing something backed by science, and keeping everyone focused on delivering something that would make a difference in people’s lives – something they could all be proud of, regardless of the outcome.

“I think we can make reading and writing better for everybody,” Petty says. “And if we really focus on people with disabilities, and we understand what works for them, we can bring those designs and solutions to our products that benefit everyone.”

Once the team came together, they shared a common drive to finish what they started.

“At no point did we think we were not going to ship,” Petty says. “OneNote was not interested in doing this as an experiment. Hackathon forced us to create a prototype they could polish to take it to schools in the fall.”

During the three very intense days of the //oneweek Hackathon, everyone on the team met each other for the first time, working practically nonstop under the Redmond tents that housed 3,000 people during the working sessions. Having the Vancouver-based OneNote development members – Greaves, Dominik Messinger and Pelle Nielsen – join the rest of the team was critical to their success.

“We could not have done it without them being there,” Petty says. “It was a completely different way of working, to get rapid feedback and iterate and iterate and iterate. We’d give them protected blocks of time where they got no additional feedback. Then we’d come back together for joint review. We were doing iterations while they were coding, then we had to decide to either refine functionality or bring new features. There is no way we could have made the same progress had we not all been there.”

At the Hackathon, the team also met the mother of a daughter who has severe dyslexia, working with another team. She believed what the OneNote for Learning team was doing was going to make a difference, and her reaction gave them even more confidence they were on the right track.

And for developer and team member Dominik Messinger, whose native language isn’t English, the project provided him with better tools to improve his own language skills, such as dividing words into semantic units for better comprehension – and pronunciation.

“I caught myself reading out some notes for OneNote documentation, and just listening to it, discovered some words I’ve totally pronounced wrong. Text to speech is pretty useful,” Messinger jokes. “Also, having short term goals and having all this energy, coding really fast and collaborating really, really fast – that was quite an experience. We can be proud of what we achieved in so few days.”

For the whole team, the Hackathon exemplified the best things about being able to tap into the entire company for resources.

“I think there’s a lot of strength in working across orgs and teams, and getting to work with people we might otherwise not get to work with, such as the accessibility team,” Nielsen says. “Learning how important it is to choose the right color scheme or font was eye opening.”

While everyone brought their own strengths to the project, its ultimate purpose served as a north star that maintained the team’s focus.

“We wanted to make sure this was a non-stigmatizing feature. This is something anybody could use. Someone using the extension wouldn’t raise a big red flag that they’ve got a disability,” Nielsen says. “For me, the most important thing was recognizing the value of our goal. It doesn’t matter how cool the tech is if it doesn’t help anyone. That’s what is so compelling about this project. We’re making learning easier for every single student.”"
microsoft  onenote  reading  howweread  immersivereadin  dyslexia  2015  education  literacy  readability  mirashah  assistivetechnology 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Rob Grayson - ““People whose governing habit is the...
““People whose governing habit is the relinquishment of power, competence, and responsibility, and whose characteristic suffering is the anxiety of futility, make excellent spenders,” wrote Wendell Berry in The Unsettling of America. “They are the ideal consumers. By inducing in them little panics of boredom, powerlessness, sexual failure, mortality, paranoia, they can be made to buy (or vote for) virtually anything that is ‘attractively packaged.’” And there are no shortages of experiences that, for a price, promise to stimulate us, make us powerful, sexy, invincible, admired, beautiful, and unique.”

— Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

[via: http://bettyann.tumblr.com/post/131415265782 ]
chrishedges  power  consumerism  boredom  powerlessness  mortality  paranoia  spectacle  literacy  government  politics  wendellberry  capitalism 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The Decay of Twitter - The Atlantic
"Do other things get smooshed on Twitter? Definitely. The public and the private smoosh, as do the personal and professional. I’d even argue that subjectivity and objectivity get smooshed—consider the Especially Serious Journalists who note that “RTs are not endorsements.” But understanding Twitter as an online space that, for a long time, drew its energy from the tension between orality and literacy, and that—in its mid-life—has moved more decisively toward one over the other, works for me as a model of its collapse.

This tension also explains, to me, why the more visual social networks have stayed fun and vibrant even as the text-based ones have not. Vine, Pinterest, and Instagram don’t traffic in words, which can be reduced to identity-based magnum opi, but in images, which are a little harder to smoosh. Visual conversations have stayed chatty, in other words."



"In the final paragraphs of this article, let me assert something I have very little data to support: At some point early last year, the standard knock against Twitter—which had long ceased to be “I don’t want to know what someone’s eating for lunch”—became “I don’t want everyone to see what I have to say.” The public knows about conversation smoosh, and that constitutes, I think, a major problem for Twitter the Company. New products like Moments—which collects tweets, images, and video into little summaries—are not going to fix that.

I’m not sure anything can fix it, honestly. But I wonder if Twitter can’t arrange a de-smooshing, at least a little bit, by creating more forms of private-ness on the site. Separating the private and the public could, in turn, delineate “speech-like” and “print-like” tweets. Twitter’s offered locked accounts for a long time, but it has always been default public. (For a few early years, a pane on Twitter.com displayed every tweet.) Making it so an individual tweet’s publicness can be toggled on or off might help users feel more comfortable spending time there. And pushing new users toward secret accounts that can toggle individual tweets public might even allay some of their fears.

Or maybe nothing can be done. No one promises growth forever. Communities and companies of all sizes fall apart. And some institutions that thrive on their tensions for many years can one day find them exhausted, worn out, limp, their continued use driven more by convenience and habit than by vibrancy and vigor."
robinsonmeyer  2015  twitter  socialmedia  bonniestewart  walterong  secondaryorality  orality  literacy  internet  web  communication  online  communities  community  visibility  surveillance  contextcollapse  context  instagram  text  conversation  chattiness  vine  pinterest 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Why Kindergarten in Finland Is All About Playtime (and Why That Could Be More Stimulating Than the Common Core) - The Atlantic
"Forget the Common Core, Finland’s youngsters are in charge of determining what happens in the classroom."



"In the study, the percentage of kindergarten teachers who reported that they agreed (or strongly agreed) that children should learn to read in kindergarten greatly increased from 30 percent in 1998 to 80 percent in 2010.

Bassok and her colleagues found that while time spent on literacy in American kindergarten classrooms went up, time spent on arts, music, and child-selected activities (like station time) significantly dropped. Teacher-directed instruction also increased, revealing what Bassok described as “striking increases in the use of textbooks and worksheets… and very large increases in the use of assessments.”

But Finland—a Nordic nation of 5.5 million people, where I’ve lived and taught fifth and sixth graders over the last two years—appears to be on the other end of the kindergarten spectrum. Before moving to Helsinki, I had heard that most Finnish children start compulsory, government-paid kindergarten—or what Finns call “preschool”—at age 6. And not only that, but I learned through my Finnish mother-in-law—a preschool teacher—that Finland’s kindergartners spend a sizable chunk of each day playing, not filling out worksheets.

Finnish schools have received substantial media attention for years now—largely because of the consistently strong performance of its 15-year-olds on international tests like the PISA. But I haven’t seen much coverage on Finland’s youngest students.

So, a month ago, I scheduled a visit to a Finnish public kindergarten—where a typical school day is just four hours long."



"When children play, Osei Ntiamoah continued, they’re developing their language, math, and social-interaction skills. A recent research summary “The Power of Play” supports her findings: “In the short and long term, play benefits cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development…When play is fun and child-directed, children are motivated to engage in opportunities to learn,” the researcher concluded.

Osei Ntiamoah’s colleagues all seemed to share her enthusiasm for play-based learning, as did the school’s director, Maarit Reinikka: “It’s not a natural way for a child to learn when the teacher says, ‘Take this pencil and sit still.’” The school’s kindergarten educators have their students engage in desk work—like handwriting—just one day a week. Reinikka, who directs several preschools in Kuopio, assured me that kindergartners throughout Finland—like the ones at Niirala Preschool—are rarely sitting down to complete traditional paper-and-pencil exercises.

And there’s no such thing as a typical day of kindergarten at the preschool, the teachers said. Instead of a daily itinerary, two of them showed me a weekly schedule with no more than several major activities per day: Mondays, for example, are dedicated to field trips, ballgames, and running, while Fridays—the day I visited—are for songs and stations.

Once, Morning Circle—a communal time of songs and chants—wrapped up, the children disbanded and flocked to the station of their choice: There was one involving fort-making with bed sheets, one for arts and crafts, and one where kids could run a pretend ice-cream shop. “I’ll take two scoops of pear and two scoops of strawberry—in a waffle cone,” I told the two kindergarten girls who had positioned themselves at the ice-cream table; I had a (fake) 10€ bill to spend, courtesy of one of the teachers. As one of the girls served me—using blue tack to stick laminated cutouts of scoops together—I handed the money to her classmate.

With a determined expression reminiscent of the boys in the mud with their shovels, the young cashier stared at the price list. After a long pause, one of her teachers—perhaps sensing a good opportunity to step in—helped her calculate the difference between the price of my order and the 10€. Once I received my change (a few plastic coins), the girls giggled as I pretended to lick my ice cream.

Throughout the morning I noticed that the kindergartners played in two different ways: One was spontaneous and free form (like the boys building dams), while the other was more guided and pedagogical (like the girls selling ice cream).

In fact, Finland requires its kindergarten teachers to offer playful learning opportunities—including both kinds of play—to every kindergartner on a regular basis, according to Arja-Sisko Holappa, a counselor for the Finnish National Board of Education. What’s more, Holappa, who also leads the development of the country’s pre-primary core curriculum, said that play is being emphasized more than ever in latest version of that curriculum, which goes into effect in kindergartens next fall.

“Play is a very efficient way of learning for children,” she told me. “And we can use it in a way that children will learn with joy.”

The word “joy” caught me off guard—I’m certainly not used to hearing the word in conversations about education in America, where I received my training and taught for several years. But Holappa, detecting my surprise, reiterated that the country’s early-childhood education program indeed places a heavy emphasis on “joy,” which along with play is explicitly written into the curriculum as a learning concept. "There's an old Finnish saying,” Holappa said. “Those things you learn without joy you will forget easily.”

* * *

After two hours of visiting a Finnish kindergarten, I still hadn’t seen children reading. I was, however, hearing a lot of pre-literacy instruction sprinkled throughout the morning—clapping out syllables and rhyming in Morning Circle, for example. I recalled learning in my master’s degree courses in education that building phonemic awareness—an ability to recognize sounds without involving written language—was viewed as the groundwork of literacy development.

Just before lunch, a kindergarten teacher took out a basket brimming with children’s books. But for these 5- and 6-year-olds, “reading” looked just like how my two toddlers approach their books: The kindergartners, sitting in different corners of the room, flipped through pages, savoring the pictures but, for the most part, not actually deciphering the words. Osei Ntiamoah told me that just one of the 15 students in her class can currently read syllable by syllable. Many of them, she added, will read by the end of the year. “We don’t push them but they learn just because they are ready for it. If the child is willing and interested, we will help the child.”

There was a time in Finland—in the not so distant past—when kindergarten teachers weren’t even allowed to teach reading. This was viewed as the job of the first-grade teacher. But, as with America, things have changed: Nowadays, Finnish teachers are free to teach reading if they determine a child is—just as Osei Ntiamoah put it—“willing and interested” to learn.

Throughout Finland, kindergarten teachers and parents meet during the fall to make an individualized learning plan, shaped by each child’s interests and levels of readiness, which could include the goal of learning how to read. For Finnish kindergartners who seem primed for reading instruction, Holappa told me it’s still possible to teach them in a playful manner. She recommended the work of the Norwegian researcher Arne Trageton—a pioneer in the area of play-based literacy instruction."
literacy  reading  finland  education  schools  children  parenting  play  timwalker  kindergarten  daphnabassok  brunobettelheim  oseintiamoah  joy  sebastiansuggate  nancycarlsson-paige  arnetrageton  waldorfschools 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Why flies? I realize that I haven’t been entirely...
"Why flies? I realize that I haven’t been entirely honest in describing my motives. I’ve answered the question badly. I was so full of my determination not to lie about some hypothetical benefit that I presented my proclivity for catching flies as a matter of cheap anaesthesia and the simple pleasures of the hunt, an outlet for the vanity of a poor man and the eternal longing to be best. And that may be true, but there is something else too, maybe not greater but anyway prettier. More honourable. It shouldn’t be so—an ambitious person’s path to the perfection of God-knows-what should be worthy of all honour, if only because a world full of highly personal mastery without petty rivalry would be a nice place to live.

In any case, learning a language is never wrong.

So for a moment let us consider the ability to read the landscape as if it were a language, how to understand nature almost as if it were literature, experience it in the same way that we experience art or music. It’s all a question of landscape literacy. Now you may object that all of us, regardless of education and custom, can appreciate beauty in various works of art and pieces of music. That’s true. But it’s equally true that the untrained sensibility is easily captivated by what is sweetly charming and romantic, which can of course be good but which is nevertheless only a first impression and does not lead very far. Art has a language to be learned; music too has hidden subtleties.

The necessary conditions are more distinct in literature. If you can’t read, you can’t read. And when I say that the landscape can provide a kind of literary experience at different depths I mean just exactly that—to begin with, you have to know the language. In a vocabulary of nothing but animals and plants, the flies can thus be seen as glosses, telling stories of every kind within the framework of the grammatical laws set down by evolution and ecology.

To recognize a Chrysotoxum vernale when you see it, to know why it’s flying in just this place and at just this moment, is a source of satisfaction not all that easy to account for. I’m afraid that our path to what is beautiful must first pass through what is meaningful. Which is the more important will remain a matter of taste.



Television has taught us to see nature like a film, as something immediately comprehensible and available, but that is only an illusion. The narrative voiceover is missing when you go outdoors. What seems great art and sweet music on the surface becomes, for the uninitiated, an impenetrable body of text in a foreign language. So the best answer to the question of why I collect hoverflies is, ultimately, that I want to understand the fine print in the only language that’s been mine for as long as I can remember."

—Fredrik Sjöberg, “The Fly Trap” (Translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal)
landscape  nature  flies  reading  howweread  meaningmaking  literature  learning  howwelearn  language  literacy  literacies  fredriksjöberg 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — 10 lessons from designer Tibor Kalman: Perverse...
"1. Everything is an experiment.

You can get a great feel for what Tibor Kalman (1949–1999) was about just from the opening pages of Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist…

[image]

2. Learn on the job.

Peter Hall points out that Tibor was always “learning on the job—or, as someone side of the journalistic vocation, conducting an education in public.”

One way he did that was to hire young designers more talented than him and learn from them:
That was the way I learned. I stood over their shoulders, and learned how graphic design is done. But I was always the boss. It has been a curious phenomenon in my life that I’ve continued pretty much throughout my career; I would try to get the job I couldn’t get, and not know how to do it, and then I would hire people who did know how to do it, and I would direct them. That to me is always the ideal way to work, because you learn very quickly and you have the means to do something, and yet you know nothing about the field, so you can do something original.

3. As soon as you learn how to do something, move on.

[image]
I did two of a number of things. The first one, you fuck it up in an interesting way; the second one, you get it right; and then you’re out of there… I think as long as I don’t know how to do something, I can do it well; and as soon as I have learned how to do something, I will do it less well, because it will be more obvious. I think that goes for most people. I think most people spend too much time doing one thing.

4. Having a style is a kind of death.

[image]

David Byrne, for whom Kalman designed many album covers, including Remain In Light:
Tibor and company don’t have a signature style, and that is a worthy ambition in life…. Having a recognizable style relegates you to the status of quotable icon. And while being an icon is flattering, I imagine, once it happens, you become irrelevent.

My own ambition is to write a song that sounds like I stole it—like “I” didn’t write it, but it has always been there. To get the “I” out of the song is the ultimate compositional coup, whether in music or design.

5. Visual literacy isn’t enough. Designers have to read everything.

Kalman said that “an enormous amount of graphic design is made by people who look at pictures but don’t know how to think about them.”
I started asking job candidates, “What have you read in the last year?” Because I suddenly began to realize that the difference between a good and a bad designer is how much did they know about everything else—biology, history. Because graphic design is just a means of communication, a language, and what you choose to communicate, and how and why on a particular project, that is all the interesting stuff.

6. You don’t necessarily have to be visually motivated to be a designer.

Rick Poynor on Kalman’s red-green colorblindness (I have it, too):
Most designers are designers because of an exceptional intensity in their response to visual form coupled with a degree of talent for manipulating it. Kalman is unusual among those who choose design as a profession in not being a visually motivated person in this sense. He is red-green color blind and, although this is not severe, it means that he treats color as an “idea” rather than as a sensation to which he responds according to intuition or taste. He will know intellectually that “sky blue” is called for to get an effect he wants to achieve without being able to specify for himself which shade of blue it should be.

7. Don’t steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style.

Kalman said it was okay to borrow ideas, but “transform” is the key word: you have to know the context of the ideas and not de-contextualize them, but re-contextualize them:
Reference means just that: You refer to something. It gives you an idea. You create something new.

Real modernism is filled with historical reference and allusion. And in some of the best design today, historical references are used very eloquently. But those examples were produced with an interest in re-contextualizing sources rather than de-contextualizing them.

There’s an important difference between making an allusion and doing a knock-off. Good historicism is… an investigation of the strategies, procedures, methods, routes, theories, tactics, schemes, and modes through which people have worked creatively…. We need to learn from and interrogate our past, not endlessly repeat its recipes.

8. Photographs are neither true nor false.
Early in the history of photography models were used to enact situations for a camera to record. Later, we learned how to retouch images, first by hand, later by rearranging the tiny dots that make up the images. Meanwhile, there has always been the cheapest and easiest way of making photographs lie—simply changing the caption to change the meaning of the image. Some people accept this but still argue the photograph remains in some way uniquely “honest.” They say that for it to exist, some kind of real-life situation also had to exist. They claim that the fact that a camera can be set up by remote control to record whatever passes in front of it somehow confers objectivity. They cling to the idea that the photograph is an inherently “real” or honest image and as such is always on a different plan from an obviously subjective form of visual communication, such as painting. However, I believe that photography is just like painting and that it can lie just as effectively. I do not accept that there is necessarily a “true” moment that the camera captures, because that moment can be manipulated as much as anything else.

9. Children give you new ways of looking at things.

[image]
We chose to increase the complexity of our lives by having children. The greatest benefit of having those children has been to look at the world through their eyes and to understand their level of curiosity and to learn things the way they learn things.

[image]

10. Marry well.

At first, I only new Tibor Kalman as Maira Kalman’s late husband. Isaac Mizrahi might argue that’s as it should be:
Tibor’s most brilliant contribution was to marry Maira. If he hadn’t, I would have. I don’t mean to sound corny and romantic, just that his relationship with her is a work of art. She has an incredible in-born ability to be a touchstone, and pick out what’s good in a room, whether it’s a screenplay, a piece of music, or a piece of furniture. I never think of them seperately, or, his sense of humor or her sense of humor, I think about them together, how much he owes to her and she owes to him.

Maira Kalman painted the closing pages of the book:

[image]
[image]

It’s out-of-print and can be a little hard to get your hands on, but anyone interested in design should give Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist a read."
tiborkalman  mairakalman  design  graphicdesign  howwelearn  learning  lifelonglearning  reading  photography  complexity  parenting  children  howwework  style  aesthetics  thinking  howwethink  vidualliteracy  literacy  visuals  steallikeanartist  influences  canon  reality  truth  isaacmizrahi  marriage  partnerships  context  invention  creativity  classideas  favoritebooks  rickpoynor  davidbyrne  talkingheads  failure  careers  work  education  unschooling  deschooling  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary 
july 2015 by robertogreco
How to Avoid Being Fooled by Bad Maps - CityLab
"Maps are big these days. Blogs and news sites (including this one) frequently post maps and those maps often go viral—40 maps that explain the world, the favorite TV shows of each U.S. state, and so on. They’re all over Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, and news organizations are understandably capitalizing on the power that maps clearly have in digital space: they can visualize a lot of data quickly and effectively. But they can also visualize a lot of data inaccurately and misleadingly.

A map is not just a picture—it’s also the data behind the map, the methodology used to collect and parse that data, the people doing that work, the choices made in terms of visualization and the software used to make them. A map is also a representation of the world, which in some ways must always be a little inaccurate—most maps, after all, show the roughly spherical world on a flat surface. Certain things are always left off or highlighted while others are altered, as no map can show everything at once. All of those choices and biases, conscious or not, can have important effects on the map itself. We may be looking at something inaccurate, misleading, or incorrect without realizing it.

As Mark Monmonier writes in the fantastic book How to Lie With Maps, Americans are taught from an early age to analyze and understand the meaning and manipulation of words, such as advertising, political campaigns, news and the like (to be “cautious consumers of words” as he puts it) but they are rarely taught the same skills about maps.

Education about using maps (and geography as a whole) is not thorough or common in U.S. schools. The high school Advanced Placement exams for human geography only started being offered in 2001*, for example, and many top private universities do not offer geography as a subject. Harvard dropped it in 1948, which some academics blame for kicking off a decrease in the learning of geography across the country.

Numerous studies report that the vast majority of Americans lack geographic literacy and are unable to find places like Afghanistan or Iraq on a map, let alone understand more complex spatial relationships about them—where are things, why are they there, how does that influence other things? (Harvard, to its credit, formed a Center for Geographic Analysis in 2006.) If they think of it at all, many Americans think geography is just memorizing a list of state capitals or looking at pictures of cool animals in National Geographic.

It’s no surprise then that people often assume maps are accurate, because it’s so often unclear how they are made—maps are “arcane images afforded undue respect and credibility” that are “entrusted to a priesthood of technically competent designers and drafters,” as Monmonier puts it. Almost everybody can write, but not everyone can make a map.

At the same time, the use of geographic information systems (GIS) has exploded as computers and software get more powerful and less expensive. New web mapping tools and the availability of data are democratizing cartography, allowing almost anyone to attempt mapmaking—something that was formerly possible only for experts or users of specialized software. That means many more people are creating their own maps, which is surely a good thing, but it also means that there are many more inaccurate, incorrect maps out there—either by design (to push viral or push a viewpoint) or because the creators don’t fully understand what they’re doing.

Maps are still fun, even the inaccurate ones. But there are a few steps you can take and concepts you can keep in mind to avoid being fooled by a map."
data  maps  mapping  infographics  cartography  epistemology  geography  education  literacy  classideas  andrewwiseman  markmonmonier  deception  titles  viaLshannon_mattern 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Public Books — Can There Be a Feminist World?
"My work stands, then, in a spectrum, from theory through the teaching of theory in the West and the elite schools of the world, into the practice of activism. I am not interested in the activism of literacy. When we send our children to school, we do not send them to learn literacy. I do not have different standards. My standards are the same at Columbia University and my rural schools. The Human Development Index, in order to measure a country’s development, asks for quantity: how many years of schooling. When the team that put the Index together look for their own children, they look for quality. As long as there is this difference between human beings, we will not have a just world. Superficial activists located in the international civil society make much of access to education. They do not have the time, patience, or yet preparation to realize that the wretched quality of education in the bottom layers of society, even when available to women, does not change internalized core values—rape and bribe as normal. (In fact, quality education without slow humanities training also does nothing much to change this. We will remember this as I go on with my words this evening.)"



"I am a teacher of the humanities. I do not directly influence state policy. Humanities teachers are like personal trainers in the gym of the mind. They believe that unless this work is done at the same time as agitating for merely legal change, generation after generation, persistently, supplemented by rearranging the desires of people, nothing can succeed. In the long run, if laws have to be constantly enforced on the majority, without any change in how people really think about rape, honor killings, gender discrimination in general—and I mean people, men and women—the laws become useless, ways of dodging them proliferate, and force takes over; not a feminist world. Short-term problem solving should not be stopped. There are too many problems. But the kind of work we do, silent work, quiet work, slow work, is the work that sustains everything. “Public awareness” preaches to the choir, at best makes the choir a bit larger. “Sustainable” is used only in the economic/ecologic sphere. We humanities teachers can be the sustainers, because generation after generation, we can produce the will to sustain. We can work toward being the long-term producers of problem solvers. We do not solve problems top-down, 24/7, with little result."




"This creates a particular problem for us, as concerned women, because women in the underclass, as I said before, are socially obliged to care for others. Socially obliged. In the ethical, therefore, we have to learn to work within this contradiction. When we work with homeworkers, sweated labor inside the home without any workplace regulation at all, sometimes the women themselves say: we are supposed to do all the work at home anyway, and here we are getting paid for it, so what’s your problem? This is the kind of contradiction—women willing their subjection as ethical—within which you have to work. If ethics is other-directedness, because women and servants have always been obliged to be directed toward others, we are obliged to work within this contradiction and take this practice away from cultural requirements into training for what I will call, in this brief talk, the literary—not literature, because what I am talking about is not identical with what is recognized as literature, which came into being, in terms of history, very recently, and which is also specific to certain areas of the world. What we define as the literary is that of which the reading, making sense, is for its own sake, necessarily requiring that you suspend yourself in what the writer or the speaker says, rather than using it for self-interest. This is classroom teaching in literature. In any kind of classroom teaching in literature, you know that the teacher who teaches you how to read what the writer means, rather than making the writer’s text resemble what you yourself think, is teaching the literary. This is real literary teaching. This so-called training in reading is a practice of moving away from your self-interest into the other’s interest. It is just training for unconditional ethics; it does not make you ethical. It is like going to the gym and training your body, which does not necessarily make you an athlete; but without it, you will not be able to do anything. It is training. So always “me,” “my rights,” and so forth is not going to produce a just world.

If at the bottom there is no training for intellectual labor because we have denied the right to intellectual labor, from within the caste/race/class/gender/colonial system, millennially, we have punished them for intellectual labor and trained them for nothing but obedience; then, at the top, intellectual labor is no longer understood or undertaken because of this untrained use of the digital, of so-called social media. I am not a technophobe, but the digital is like a powerful wild horse, you have to have a slow-trained mind, in order to use it properly.
I am not against social media. I am not against any civil society worker. To be against is to deny complicity. I am so much for the digital that I think people need to prepare for it. Otherwise cybercrime, pornography. The New York Times reported that top Silicon Valley executives send their children to schools where there is no computer training. Why do they do that? Because they best of all know, they understand, that you cannot use this incredibly powerful and dangerous instrument with minds that are untrained."



"I belong to the middle class, and I was born in 1942 in Calcutta, where and when the middle class had servants. Being humane and kind to servants is not a just world; it is feudal benevolence. The idea of democracy is where you think about other people not as things, but as equal. That is different from feudal benevolence, which is a lot present both here, in my world, and in the rest of the world, transforming itself now to long-distance remote-control top-down philanthropy. There is no systemic instrument of social justice any more. In the 1980s, when I worked in Algeria, I would ask women in the so-called “socialist villages”: “What is it to vote?” The answers made it clear to me that voting had something to do with insights that the postcolonial state belongs to citizens, females and males. And then in 1991, after the Islamic Salvation Front came to power by democratic procedure in Algeria, I also saw the massive involvement of chador-wearing office-cleaning women, altogether underreported, in overturning an elected government, and the rest is history. Since 1986, my involvement with the landless illiterate, in the country of my citizenship, and of my first language because you can only teach in a language you know well, has made me realize that the question we asked—“What is it to vote?”—is the presupposition for developing democratic intuition rather than only a test."



"In conclusion, a summary: because I work in high theory in a very elite school, teaching this material to students, and also at the other end, teaching and training the very poor, trying to learn from below, because they are very different from us, the landless illiterate in the world’s largest democracy, I am learning to share my experience at both ends in terms of a gender-just world. My theory is therefore one of supplementing, wherever one’s own sphere of interest is universalized. I base social theory on gender. I say that ethical theory, a theory of unconditional ethics, can be practically taught through the literary-philosophical. I base political intervention on a performative contradiction that must presuppose what it wants to achieve. Supplementing work is persistent, I say, and define activism as imaginative training for epistemological performance; in labor movement work, ecological work, among the poor. The thing dearest to my heart is teaching the intuitions of democracy through an understanding of the meaning of the right to intellectual labor, on top as well as below. Thank you for your attention. Flesh it out for your own world."

[via: http://aworkinglibrary.com/writing/slow-work/ ]
via:aworkinglibrary  2015  feminism  gayatrichakravortyspivak  slow  education  technology  socialmedia  gender  obedience  humanities  liberalarts  zoominginandout  sustainability  class  care  literacy 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Verification Handbook: homepage
"A definitive guide to verifying digital content for emergency coverage
Authored by leading journalists from the BBC, Storyful, ABC, Digital First Media and other verification experts, the Verification Handbook is a groundbreaking new resource for journalists and aid providers. It provides the tools, techniques and step-by-step guidelines for how to deal with user-generated content (UGC) during emergencies."
books  crisis  journalism  socialmedia  verification  online  internet  web  information  literacy  infoliteracy  usergeneratedcontent 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Ideas About Education Reform: 22 Things We Do As Educators That Will Embarrass Us In 25 Years by Terry Heick
"22 Things We Do As Educators That Will Embarrass Us In 25 Years
by Terry Heick

Saw a picture today from the 1970s of a mother driving her car with her newborn baby in the passenger seat (no car seat). This, of course, got me thinking about education. What do we do now that in 25 years we’ll look back on and shake our heads? What are our “doctors smoking cigarettes while giving check ups” moments? I have a feeling we’re going to look back and be really confused by quite a bit. There’s probably a lot more than this, but I had to stop somewhere.

22 Things Education Does That Will Embarrass Us In 25 Years

1. We separated literacy from content.
And were confused when we couldn’t properly untangle them.

2. Meter progress by grade levels.
Right now, progress through academia is incremental, like inches on a ruler. These increments are marked by “grade levels,” which really has no meaning other than the artificial one schools have given it in the most self-justifying, circular argument ever.

3. We frowned upon crowdsourced content (e.g., Wikipedia)
Even though it has more updates and cross-checks than more traditional sources of info. It’s not perfect, but it’s the future. Err, present.

4. We gave vacations.
Why do we feel the need to provide months off at a time from learning to read, write, and think? We made school so bad that students couldn’t stand to do it without “vacations”? We cleaved it so cleanly from their daily lives that they “stopped” learning for months at a time?

5. We closed off schools from communities.
Which was the first (of many) errors. Then we let the media report on school progress under terms so artificially binary that we ended up dancing to the drum of newspaper headlines and political pressure.

6. We made it clumsy and awkward for teachers to share curriculum.
Seriously. How is there no seamless, elegant, and mobile way to do this?

7. We turned content into standards.
This makes sense until you realize that, by design, the absolute best this system will yield is students that know content.

8. We were blinded by data, research, and strategies….
..so we couldn’t see the communities, emotions, and habits that really drive learning.

9. We measured mastery once.
At the end of the year in marathon testing. And somehow this made sense? And performance on these tests gave us data that informed the very structures our schools were iterated with over time? Seriously? And we wonder why we chased our tails?

10. We spent huge sums of money on professional development.
While countless free resources floated around us in the digital ether. Silly administrators.

11. We reported progress with report cards.
Hey, I’ve tried other ways and parents get confused and downright feisty. We did a poor job helping parents understand what
grades really meant, and so they insisted on the formats they grew up with.

12. We banned early mobile technology (in this case, smartphones).
And did so for entirely non-academic reasons.

13. We shoehorned technology into dated learning models.
Like adding rockets to a tractor. Why did we not replace the tractor first?

14. We measured mastery with endless writing prompts and multiple-choice tests.
Which, while effective in spots, totally missed the brilliant students who, for whatever reason, never could shine on them.

15. We had parent conferences twice a year.
What? And still only had 15% of parents show up? And we didn’t completely freak out? We must’ve been really sleepy.

16. We ignored apprenticeships.
Apprenticeship is a powerful form of personalized learning that completely marries “content,” performance, craft, and
communities. But try having a 900 apprentices in a school. So much for that.

17. We claimed to “teach students to think for themselves.”
LOL

18. We often put 1000 or more students in the same school.
And couldn’t see how the learning could possibly become industrialized.

19. We frowned on lectures.
Even though that’s essentially what TED Talks are. Instead of making them engaging and interactive multimedia performances led by adults that love their content, we turned passionate teachers into clinical managers of systems and data.

20. We ignored social learning.
And got learning that was neither personal nor social. Curious.

21. We tacked on digital citizenship.
The definition of digital citizenship is “the quality of actions, habits, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.” This is artificial to teach outside of the way students use these tools and places on a daily basis–which makes hanging a “digital citizenship” poster or teaching a “digital citizenship” lesson insufficient.
Like literacy, it needs to be fully integrated into the learning experiences of students.

22. We turned to curriculum that was scripted and written by people thousands of miles away.
We panicked, and it was fool’s gold.

Bonus 23. We chewed teachers up and spit them out
We made teachers entirely responsible for planning, measuring, managing, and responding to both mastery and deficiency. And through peer pressure, a little brainwashing, and appealing to their pride, somehow convinced them they really were."
education  schools  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  terryheick  literacy  content  curriculum  gradelevels  agesegregation  crowdsourcing  wikipedia  community  vacations  standards  standardization  preofessionaldevelopment  money  waste  bureaucracy  technology  edtech  mobile  phones  smartphones  criticalthinking  socialemotional  civics  citizenship  digitalcitizenship  social  learning  lectures  data  bigdata  quantification  apprenticeships  testing  standardizedtesting  assessment  fail  sharing  socialemotionallearning 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST)
"Washington’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Program (I-BEST) is a nationally recognized model that quickly boosts students’ literacy and work skills so that students can earn credentials, get living wage jobs, and put their talents to work for employers.

I-BEST pairs two instructors in the classroom – one to teach professional/technical or academic content and the other to teach basic skills in reading, math, writing or English language – so students can move through school and into jobs faster. As students progress through the program, they learn basic skills in real-world scenarios offered by the college and career part of the curriculum.

I-BEST challenges the traditional notion that students must complete all basic education before they can even start on a college or career pathway. This approach often discourages students because it takes more time, and the stand-alone basic skills classes do not qualify for college credit. I-BEST students start earning college credits immediately."

[via: http://www.vox.com/2015/3/25/8288495/finland-education-subjects ]
washingtonstate  communitycolleges  education  interdisciplinary  skills  juniorcolleges  i-best  literacy 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Are Tablets the Way Out of Child Illiteracy? | Innovation | Smithsonian
"The Roanoke project was born out of a project launched in Africa two years ago by Tufts and Georgia State in conjunction with the One Laptop per Child organization, founded in 2007 by Nicholas Negroponte of the MIT Media Lab. One Laptop per Child, or OLPC, sought to empower students in resource-poor environments by distributing 2.4 million Internet-connected laptops in 42 developing countries. The results of the project, which ceased operations last year, are still being assessed and debated—for example, a study by the Inter-American Development Bank found no effect on test scores but some increase in cognitive skills. But in some places, it became clear that children couldn’t use some of the software because they couldn’t read, and they had no access to schools or teachers.

The research team wanted to investigate whether such children could learn to read on their own, aided only by digital devices. They delivered 40 tablets to children in two villages in Ethiopia, without instructions—a scene that must have conjured the 1980 South African comedy The Gods Must Be Crazy, in which a Kalahari bushman has his first encounter with technology, in the form of a Coke bottle fallen from the sky."



"What students do when they’re left on their own with a tablet is a bit of a mystery—for now. MIT’s software records how the children in Roanoke use their tablets: which apps they open, for how long, and in what order. (Or at least it did until some students learned how to bypass the start screen midway through the year.) So far, the data show that the students use them for an average of two hours a night. Initially, they blaze through the whole tablet, exploring dozens of apps. Eventually, they settle on a handful of favorites. The Roanoke students seem to gravitate toward academic content—sounds, letters, puzzles—especially when it is framed as a game. (The piano and coloring apps are also popular.)"
tablets  education  literacy  2015  olpc  sugatamitra  holeinthewall  tinkrbook  teaching  learning  children  schools  reading 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Obsolete Skill Set: The 3 Rs
"I see then a pattern of intellectual development that I shall oversimplify by casting it in three distinct phases. The first phase is one of universally successful learning. All children show a passion for interactive exploration of their immediate world. The diversity of possible activity is great enough for different individuals to find their own styles. The third phase is seen in intellectually awake adults. Here too we see a great diversity of styles. But not everyone gets there. The second phase is the narrow and dangerous passage in which many factors conspire to undermine the continuation of phase one. School is often blamed for imposing on children a uniformity that suffocates those who have developed markedly different intellectual styles; much as it used to suffocate left-handed people by forcing them to "write properly". Most of the blame is well-founded. But in these practices, schools reflect (and amplify) the poverty of media that has plagued society in the past. As long as writing was the only medium in town, schools did not have many choices.

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

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

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

[via: http://bengrey.com/blog/2013/10/the-space-between-where-our-role-as-teachers-changes-lives-and-learning/ ]
seymourpapert  literacy  internet  media  learning  children  curiosity  1993  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  culture  letteracy  knowledgemachine  illiteracy  canon  understanding  howweteach  schools  education  imagination  childhood  literacies  multiliteracies  multimedia  orality 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Digital Culture is Like Oral Culture Written Down — The Civic Beat — Medium
[via: https://twitter.com/mathpunk/status/554666572716187648 ]

"Digital Culture is Like Oral Culture Written Down: Calling a selfie stick or lunch pic narcissistic reflects a written culture perspective. Here’s how I reframe things.



We’re recognizing, for instance, how social media can facilitate the spread of rumors and misinformation. We’re acknowledging that verbal cyberbullying and online harassment can be deeply painful. Activist hashtagging continues in the tradition of call and response of chants and slogans. Conversation is a key principle in the new Cluetrain Manifesto: “The Net is not a medium any more than a conversation is a medium.”

All these discussions point to how social media has more of an oral, rather than literate, culture. By focusing just on what people post, we’re missing the point: social context, relationships and nonverbal gestures matter as much as the words and images themselves.

In other words, a selfie is never just a selfie. It exists in a broader social context, and just because some people take them narcissistically doesn’t mean that all, or even most, do.

***

Oral Culture/Print Culture
Shift the framework from print culture to oral culture, and much of the way we use social media sounds a little less crazy and little more, well, human. The Out of Eden Walk project is fond of calling its online community a digital campfire. I like that image; like idle chitchat and storytelling around a campfire, the conversations we have on social media often resemble oral conversations written down.

In that vein, here are a few general complaints against social media that I often hear (do they sound familiar?), and a potential way to reframe them (though to be honest, they’re each worthy of an essay). Because I look at images as much as words on the web, I prefer to use the term print culture, by which I hope to encompass both image- and word-based communications before the internet:

Print culture: People waste time posting pictures of their pets.
Oral culture: People tell silly stories about their pets all the time. Photos make those stories easier.

Print culture: Who cares what you’re having for lunch?
Oral culture: Eating food together, preparing food and talking about said food is one of the most fundamentally social things human beings do.

Print culture: Selfies are the height of vanity and narcissism.
Oral culture: Selfies help express emotion and tell stories. The written word lacks all the nuance of the human face, and selfies help fill that gap.

Print culture: There are literally thousands of people documenting this event with their cameras. Why do you need to take a picture too?
Oral culture: I’m taking this photo to share it with friends. It has to come from me, from my perspective, because I’m the storyteller.

Print culture: Punctuation marks help disambiguate meaning, words, and sentences. Be sparing with exclamation marks and semicolons.
Oral culture: Punctuation marks indicate emphasis. And tone… And emotion! And confusion‽‽‽ And. Every. Mode. Of. Expression. Under. The. Sun. ;)

Print culture: Ur spelling iz awful. Write proper English.
Oral culture: Variants of standardized language are probably as old as words themselves.

Print culture: Use hashtags to express topicality.
Oral culture: Use hashtags to #chant, to have a #metaconversation. Or #justbecause. #somanywaystousehashtags

Print culture: Think carefully about how you arrange words to convey exactly what you mean to say.
Oral culture: I has the feels. Here’s a GIF.

***

There are major differences between digital culture and oral culture, of course.

For one, you can’t index what people are saying in aural space (unless you’re using voice recognition software or audio recordings, etc.). Something you say in one place rarely escapes the physical constraints of sound; in digital culture, one sentence or image can go global rather quickly.

As well, print culture is still an important part of the dialogue, as it always has been, because digital technologies evolved from print technologies and share much of the same functionality. Digital culture has a permanence that’s as helpful for cultural heritage as it is for surveillance.

As law professor James Grimmelmann has written in response to some of my Tweets on this subject, this also has significant effects for the law:

Observers who expect that social media should have the dignity and gravity of the written word can feel affronted when others use social media more informally.

I see this slippage at work in Internet law all the time. The legal system repeatedly asks itself whether social media should be taken seriously.

In general, I find it more helpful, when looking at how people live and interact online, to take an oral culture orientation. We shouldn’t stop there, of course, because digital culture is not exactly oral culture. But with a better frame, we can then dive into the specifics of each practice to try to figure out what’s going on.



So back to the selfie stick.

In general, as we see more people from different cultures coming online, my guess is that cultures with rich oral traditions are more likely to be early adopters of practices that might initially seem odd to the more writerly types. Emoji, GIF stickers, walkie talkie text messages and selfie sticks all come to mind—there’s a reason these have tended to be more popular in Asia initially, where oral culture flourishes online (h/t selfie writer Alicia Eler). Especially when it comes to selfies and group photos, photos don’t end with the picture taking. Rather, everything about these photos — from taking them, sharing them and talking about them — is a vehicle for social bonding, storytelling, talking, etc.



Print culture: Selfie sticks help us extend our narcissism to new heights.
Oral culture: Selfie sticks help us tell better and more varied stories about what we’re up to. We can include a larger group of people. More of the background and scenery. The more detail, the better. Selfies allow us to take and frame the picture as a social experience with friends, making sure it comes from our own perspectives, not that of a stranger.

Oh, and they’re fun, to boot."

[Related: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:42a64d5690c1
https://medium.com/why-2015-wont-suck/26-you-will-mock-then-purchase-a-selfie-stick-ea57f41dfda ]
emoji  selfies  selfiesticks  anxiaomina  2015  culture  orality  conversation  internet  socialmedia  online  web  print  publishing  literacy  multiliteracies  punctuation  spelling  language  communication  hashtags  gifs  storytelling  interaction  relationships  chitchat  photography  cameras 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Orality and Literacy | A Working Library
"Ong’s is perhaps the only book I’ve discovered that carefully and thoroughly addresses the differences between oral and literate cultures. In pointing out that Plato used writing to deliver his objections to the written word, he says “Once the word is technologized, there is no effective way to criticize what technology has done with it without the aid of the highest technology available” (page 79).



A place to talk
[http://aworkinglibrary.com/writing/a-place-to-talk/ ]
Today, we are witnessing the reemergence in electronic form of oral patterns that have been hiding in plain site for generations. So deeply ingrained is our cultural disposition toward literacy, however, that many of us fail to recognize the oral characteristics of electronic media. Today, writers inevitably tend to describe the web in terms of “publishing” or, like H.G. Wells, to compare it to a vast library. And while the web does indeed support new kinds of publishing, it is also a place to “talk.”
[Wright, Glut, page 232 http://aworkinglibrary.com/reading/glut/ ]

Walter Ong calls this “secondary orality,” that is, orality which is written in the technical sense (via pecking at a keyboard) but which is fundamentally an element of oral culture. So, when you rant on Twitter about your coworker who can’t stop twirling her hair, or text your spouse to please pick up a bottle of wine on the way home, you’re engaging in an oral tradition, not a literate one.

Think that through, and it’s not surprising that replies emerged organically on Twitter and elsewhere; having a conversation means talking to other people. Absent the technical means to do that, we invented a method that was then widely, and rapidly, adopted.

Interestingly, with secondary orality, we have orality that looks like literacy, but isn’t. Strange things can happen when you miss that point. Flipboard aggregates content from your social graph in really lovely ways, but the juxtaposition of oral culture in an essentially literate design doesn’t always make sense. It’s quite odd to see your friend’s tweet about their breakfast burrito elevated to a strikingly designed pull quote. The pull quote is a design pattern that emerged from a culture of publishing—from a process by which an editor would carefully select a bit of text that, when extracted and enlarged, would resonate with the greater work. But here, there is no greater work, and no editor: only the blind act of an algorithm.

That algorithm knows a lot about who your friends are, and what they recommend, but it does not (yet, at least), recognize the difference between talking and publishing. The result is content that looks beautiful, typographically speaking, but whose effect is dissonant, rather than engaging. Designing for secondary orality is going to require developing new patterns, not merely pouring words into the old ones."

[via: https://twitter.com/aworkinglibrary/status/554765730458370048

in response to “Digital Culture is Like Oral Culture Written Down: Calling a selfie stick or lunch pic narcissistic reflects a written culture perspective. Here’s how I reframe things.”
https://medium.com/the-civic-beat/digital-culture-is-like-oral-culture-written-down-df896b287782

which came via: https://twitter.com/mathpunk/status/554666572716187648 ]
manybrown  walterong  orality  secondaryorality  literacy  2011  1982  oraltradition  conversation  oralculture  culture  multiliteracies  publishing  internet  web  aggregation  talking  speech  technology  digital  online  internetweb  twitter  socialmedia 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The 60-second interview: Tim Carmody, independent technology journalist | Capital New York
"CAPITAL: You were a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania before becoming a journalist. Why did you decide to leave academia?

CARMODY: “Decide” might be the wrong word. I was on the academic job market for two years, 2008 and 2009, which were really just a slaughterhouse. Getting a tenure-track job or a good postdoc in the humanities is kind of like getting drafted into the N.B.A. in any year, but schools were cancelling searches and trimming their adjunct budgets right and left, and more and more jobless PhDs were piling up. I was in the top two or three for a couple of really good jobs, which was harder in some ways because it felt really close. Some people keep playing the lottery for years and years, but I just didn’t have the heart to keep doing it.

But I was really lucky; I’d been writing online for popular and crossover publications while I was still in grad school, a couple of essays in The Atlantic. I wrote a future-of-media blog with Matt Thompson and Robin Sloan called Snarkmarket that was really smart and fun and popular with the right people. Jason Kottke liked my writing and asked me to guest-edit his blog. Then Wired took a chance and hired me—I really couldn’t have asked for a better first job in journalism. After that, all the momentum for me was in journalism, so I’ve been doing that ever since.

Still, I’d totally be Professor Carmody in UC-Santa Barbara’s English department if things had gone my way, and I don’t know, maybe that would have been a happy ending too.

CAPITAL: Does your academic background still inform your reporting, or have you found that the skills valued by academia and those valued by journalism are total opposites?

CARMODY: I think the tools of journalism and scholarship complement each other. I had to learn how to be a reporter: do phone interviews, develop sources, write up different genres of articles. In some ways, I appreciated the tools of reporting more, because when you’re writing about Citizen Kane, you can’t get Orson Welles or Gregg Toland on the phone. If you’re writing about Netflix, you might be able to get Reed Hastings or Ted Sarandos on the phone. That’s pretty amazing.

In other cases, I think my training gave me some significant advantages. I’m really good at research, at context. I’m good at breaking down a document, whether it’s a press release or a letter to shareholders or an interview, and digging out what’s important. I’m good at linking things that are happening right now to big changes that happen over decades. I’m really comfortable with the publishing and media industries; I speak their language.

Also, besides research, I was a teacher for ten years. I love working with younger writers, whether it’s as an editor or just helping them think about what they do, because that was my job. And a lot of the students I taught in college have gone on to have really great careers in the industries I write about, which is really satisfying too."



"CAPITAL: You've extensively studied the history, theory, and future of writing. So what’s the future of writing?

CARMODY: I’m bullish on writing. Movies, radio, television, and now digital media—everything was supposed to push us away from text, to video or “back” to speech. First, there’s no going back. We’re always stumbling forward. Second, writing is invincible. Thirty years ago, we thought we’d all be talking to our computers; instead, we’re all typing on our phones. Can you believe we get to play and work on machines that give you new things to read all day? If you’d told me this when I was six years old, I’d have fainted from happiness.

We live in such a hyperliterate world, soaked and saturated in writing: on our machines, on the streets, on our television screens. It’s just that writing doesn’t live in the boxes that it used to. The genie is out of the bottle. But that just means that the magic could be anywhere."
timcarmody  interviews  academia  journalism  highered  highereducation  writing  text  media  snarkmarket  context  research  television  radio  film  literacy  multiliteracies  hyperliteracy  2015  howweread  howwewrite  cellphones  mobile  phones  voicerecognition  readingmachines 
january 2015 by robertogreco
We will all be illiterate soon — Medium
"It all seems fairly intuitive: test the kids, measure their performances, find the pass rates for your teachers at each grade-level and school. A sixth-grader, after all, ought to do well on a sixth grade test.

But here’s the catch. At least in reading, schools and testing companies have been changing what it means to be on-grade-level from year to year. But how?

First, we must understand that schools’ tests are produced and marketed by commercial firms. Private companies like Pearson and Scholastic wield unconscionable powers of vendor lock-in, in public education. It’s not uncommon for school systems to buy products like leveled reading books, so-called “interventions,” curricula, electronic gradebooks, and student information management systems from the very companies that sell them tests. The resultant interoperability of these systems helps drive the sorting of our kids. Our kids’ test results drive the market for more Pearson and Scholastic products. We have legislated and acculturated ourselves to consumerist purchasing and sorting practices.

Next, it’s important to remember that reading levels are fairly arbitrary things. They’re social inventions. We didn’t have them once upon a time. They generally don’t account for growth without more context.

Most importantly, all of our tests reward privilege — and privileged kids generally don’t have much trouble scoring at or above grade level. Schools use tests to answer questions that inherently favor the privileged, like this: ‘Based on what we know about already successful readers, how should we judge the struggling ones?’ A better, more ethically sound question goes something like this: ‘How do make tests and schools that help all kids access everything we do (including reading), regardless of how well they read or perform on tests right now?’

And although we should know that reading levels are arbitrary and favor the privileged, we codify and enshrine them every chance we get."



Finally — and most insidiously — the SOL can be rewritten each year, changing the complexity of the tests. This lets us — or the interests we are beholden to — manufacture success and failure. Sometimes we do it for more ‘rigor.’ Sometimes we do it so that companies can field-test new products and technologies on our kids through tests we purchase from them. And I really can’t tell you more. I can’t even discuss a student’s performance with her parents in any meaningful way. If I look at a test item while a student is taking the test, I could lose my license. If I talk about the test with anyone, I could lose my license, too. I sign a paper that says I understand all of this weeks before I actually give any tests.

I cannot be clearer: these tests are designed to disempower schools and to convince us that we see and do during the school year is not what we have seen and done. It’s not a bad thing to want to make sure no child is “left behind” at school, but that is not what these tests do, despite all the double-speak we’ve heard about public education throughout its history in our nation.

Buy why does this really matter? Life goes on. School goes on. The kids on kid shows and the teens in teen movies go to school again and again and again. You can Netflix it.

It matters because schools are destroying literacy and imperiling our society more and more each day.

At the start of the 2012–2013 school year, my middle school English department colleagues and I got new Lexile cut-off scores that (we were told) our kids would have to reach, in order to stand a chance of passing their next SOL tests. When we looked at the scores, we saw that the new middle-school cut-off matched what had been defined, the year before, a 10th-grade reading level. Yes, we were told, that’s right, but the 8th grade reading test is now more rigorous because it’s written at a 10th grade Lexile.



"We have created a public education system designed to assess our students and teachers on measures we perpetually keep just out of reach, so that the most successful students, teachers, and schools have nothing to worry about while the least successful among us must worry constantly about whether we’re smart or not, under review or not, employed or not — worth something or not. We demand that the people we fail define self-worth as judged by us. Other kinds of literacy (or even last year’s literacy) simply need not apply.

With reading tests like this that at once erase meaningful, sustainable definitions of literacy and assure the privileged that they are the literate ones (whatever that may mean), we are creating a society that has no idea, generally, how people really learn or how we can learn despite our reading levels. We fetishize and gate-keep reading and writing, and behind the visible gates we’re building invisible ones. In the meantime, the privileged ‘literate,’ assured of their success, fail to see that they, too, are being cut off in the middle. On one side, the powerful keep them sated, at bay, entertained and provoked to look down on their fellows. On the other side, the disadvantaged, whose life experiences might help the broad middle question the ‘experts’ who run their lives, are held back by social structures like school as we have conceived it, and by the institutional prejudices those places breed. The institution here is not just school itself, but the white, middle class that has become its benchmark.

We are reinforcing a society in which the distant, powerful, and moneyed call the shots, in which the privileged middle classes believe they have power without knowing how, why, or what power is, and in which the disadvantaged, who understand all of this best of all, are cut off from the rest of society by tests — formal and informal — that say no matter what you’ve accomplished, you are not us. It’s gates and moving goalposts all the way down.

Those of us in schools, who live and work between the powerful and disadvantaged, have a special responsibility to cooperate in building communities instead of walls, to resist sorting mechanisms, and to teach the world as it is rather than as it’s portrayed in school media — both the materials we’re told to use in schools and the messages TV and cinema send about schools.

Otherwise, we will all be illiterate soon. We’ll continue building a system that assigns us our illiteracies at birth and reinforces them throughout our educations, careers, and civic lives, all in order to maintain the status quo."



"When people say we would have better schools if teachers did a better job, they miss the point. Teachers do an excellent job of doing what the system asks them to do. If we assessed teachers on how well they teach their assigned lessons, using their assigned texts, towards the taking of their assigned tests, we’d have to agree that our teachers do a wonderful job. That they do all of this and still don’t have the moving-goalpost test scores a politically-motivated, federal law from the 1990s tells us they should have is not a teacher problem. That they don’t have passion for a dispassionate machine isn’t a teacher problem. It is a system problem. It is a societal problem. It is an us problem. Only we don’t know it because, again, we will all be illiterate soon."



"When I think about the far future, I think about caring for others in the face of dying planets and suns, and about the kinds of wordless understandings and cooperation that we’ll have to maintain to partner with one another across incomprehensible distances, using technologies opaque to us and effortlessly transparent to our cosmic babies. I think that our present conception of literacy, for all the best reasons, will ultimately and rightfully be an impoverished one — or the root of a great and branching tree.

And though it seems at once a big thing for schooling to let go of power — to loosen its grip on a narrowly-defined literacy and a people being squeezed of life and meaning — it also seems like such a cosmically little thing to me, as just one teacher, that I wish I could give away so much more. Culpability and responsibility are only difficult to own so long as we insist on staying blind to the gifts they offer us — to readers’ inexhaustible capacity for change."
chadsansing  2014  testing  education  policy  privilege  literacy  corruption  sorting  grading  standardizedtesting  capitalism  lexilescores  publicschools  teaching  learning  schools  howweteach  howelearn  measurement 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Literacy Through Photography for English-Language Learners | Edutopia
"Enter most schools and you will hear about literacy instruction or the "literacy block." However, literacy is not a subject -- it is something much bigger. Paulo Freire encouraged a broader definition of literacy to include the ability to understand both "the word and the world." Literacy includes reading, writing, listening, speaking, and analyzing a wide range of texts that include both print and non-print texts.

Imagery and Language
This post will describe some ways in which teachers can use photography to support literacy standards. Photography supports literacy in several ways:

1. It is an excellent way to provide differentiation for English-language learners.

2. It relieves pressure from reluctant students or striving readers and writers by providing the opportunity to read and analyze photographs instead of traditional print texts.

3. It represents a culturally responsive teaching method as it demonstrates a way to welcome all voices in the classroom to be heard and valued.

This methodology is based on the work of Wendy Ewald, who writes extensively about literacy through photography.

The use of photographs provides a novel way to engage in analyzing text. Students can verbally describe their observations, ideas, and analysis in addition to listening to the ideas of their classmates. The use of photographs allows students to reflect and organize their thoughts in a creative way that cannot be achieved simply through writing. And for many students, this practice provides needed scaffolding for processing and organizing their thoughts in order to be ready to write about them."
photography  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  2014  english  ell  esl  tabethadell'angelo  imageary  literacy  literacies  visual  wendyewald  iwannatellmeastory  storytelling  focus  portraits  vocabulary  perspective  stories  imagery  language  paulofreire  multiliteracies 
december 2014 by robertogreco
High modernist subjectivity gives an extraordinary... • see things differently
""High modernist subjectivity gives an extraordinary privilege … to judgement and especially to cognition…. The modern predominance of reading….

High [modernism] … furthermore … privileges the cognitive and moral over the aesthetic and the libidinal, the ego over the id, the visual over touch, and discursive over figural communication.

…the individual [is] somehow ‘closed’ instead of open; to be somehow obsessed with self-mastery and self-domination."

Lash, S. & Friedman, J. (Eds.). (1993). Modernity & Identity. Massachusetts: Blackwell, pg. 5"

[See also: http://linguisticcapital.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/modernism-in-the-streets/

"High modernist subjectivity gives an extraordinary privilege, for example, to judgement and especially to cognition. It correspondingly devalues the faculty of perception, so that vision itself is so to speak colonized by cognition. The modern predominance of reading fosters epistemologies of representation, of a visual paradigm in the sphere of art [...]. High modernist subjectivity seems furthermore to privilege the cognitive and moral over the aesthetic and the libidinal, the ego over the id, the visual over touch, and discursive over figural communication. It gives primacy to culture over nature, to the individual over the community, As an ethics of responsibility, high modernist personality and Lebensfürung [life-course] it allows the individual to be somehow ‘closed’ instead of open; to be somehow obsessed with self-mastery and self-domination."

Lash, S. & Friedman, J. (Eds.). (1993). Modernity & Identity. Massachusetts: Blackwell, pg. 5]
modernism  highmodernism  bias  cognition  morality  aesthetics  libidinal  ego  id  visual  senses  touch  discursion  figurative  communication  reading  literacy  gutenbergparenthesis  self-mastery  self-domination  modernity  identity  1993 
october 2014 by robertogreco
How Videogames Like Minecraft Actually Help Kids Learn to Read | WIRED
"Minecraft is the hot new videogame among teachers and parents. It's considered genuinely educational: Like an infinite set of programmable Lego blocks, it's a way to instill spatial reasoning, math, and logic—the skills beloved by science and technology educators. But from what I've seen, it also teaches something else: good old-fashioned reading and writing.

How does it do this? The secret lies not inside the game itself but in the players' activities outside of it. Minecraft is surrounded by a culture of literacy. The game comes with minimal instructions or tutorials, so new players immediately set about hunting for info on how it works. That means watching YouTube videos of experts at play, of course, but it also means poring over how-to texts at Minecraft wikis and “walk-through” sites, written by gamers for gamers. Or digging into printed manuals like The Ultimate Player's Guide to Minecraft or the official Minecraft Redstone Handbook, some of which are now best sellers.

This is complex, challenging material. I analyzed several chunks of The Ultimate Player's Guide using the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease scale, and they scored from grade 8 to grade 11. Yet in my neighborhood they're being devoured by kids in the early phases of elementary school. Games, it seems, can motivate kids to read—and to read way above their level. This is what Constance Steinkuehler, a games researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, discovered. She asked middle and high school students who were struggling readers (one 11th-grade student read at a 6th-grade level) to choose a game topic they were interested in, and then she picked texts from game sites for them to read—some as difficult as first-year-college language. The kids devoured them with no help and nearly perfect accuracy.

How could they do this? “Because they're really, really motivated,” Steinkuehler tells me. It wasn't just that the students knew the domain well; there were plenty of unfamiliar words. But they persisted more because they cared about the task. “It's situated knowledge. They see a piece of language, a turn of phrase, and they figure it out.”

Hannah Gerber, a literacy researcher at Sam Houston State University, found much the same thing. She monitored several 10th-grade students at school and at home and saw that they read only 10 minutes a day in English class—but an astonishing 70 minutes at home as they boned up on games. Again, it was challenging stuff. Steinkuehler found that videogame sites devoted to World of Warcraft, for example, are written at nearly 12th-grade level, with a 2 to 6 percent incidence of “academic” jargon.

Passion for games drives writing too. When Steinkuehler informally observes kids contributing to game sites and discussions online, she sees serious craft. “Suddenly, being a writer is sexy and hip and cool. They have an audience that knows their stuff, and they expect you to be knowledgeable,” she says. What about fiction? Oh, games have you covered there too: Behold the teeming seas of Minecraft fan stories at sites like FanFiction.net or Wattpad. My kids are deep into a trilogy of Minecraft novellas—written by a 13-year-old girl in Missouri.

I'm praising Minecraft, but nearly all games have this effect. The lesson here is the same one John Dewey instructed us in a century ago: To get kids reading and writing, give them a real-world task they care about. These days that's games."
minecraft  2014  clivethomson  games  gaming  videogames  literacy  edg  srg  reading  writing  multiliteracies  motivation  johndewey  hannahgerber  passion  interest  fanfiction  constancesteinkuehler  comprehension  howweread  children  learning  howwelearn  education 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Traveling Stories
"Traveling Stories is a 501c3 nonprofit organization working to outsmart poverty one book at a time & inspire a love for reading everywhere. Your donation today gives a child the chance to fall in love with reading for the first time!

We are active both locally and internationally!

Since 2010 we have established seven international libraries and two local Story Tent programs with free literacy coaching for at-risk kids.

Our long-term goal is to establish libraries in every book-poor village around the world & to have Story Tent programs in every State!

Our strategy is to offer Traveling Stories Social Franchises for those who want to start an international library or Story Tent, but don't want the bother of starting their own nonprofit."

[via: https://medium.com/storytelling-for-good/el-transito-is-a-fishing-village-that-hugs-the-pacific-ocean-on-the-coast-of-north-central-e91f5ac51326 ]
sandiego  cityheights  literacy  books  libraries 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Millennials Are Out-Reading Older Generations - The Atlantic
"Kids today with their selfies and their Snapchats and their love of literature.

Millennials, like each generation that was young before them, tend to attract all kinds of ire from their elders for being superficial, self-obsessed, anti-intellectuals. But a study out today from the Pew Research Center offers some vindication for the younger set. Millennials are reading more books than the over-30 crowd, Pew found in a survey of more than 6,000 Americans.

Some 88 percent of Americans younger than 30 said they read a book in the past year compared with 79 percent of those older than 30. At the same time, American readers' relationship with public libraries is changing—with younger readers less likely to see public libraries as essential in their communities.

Overall, Americans are buying more books than they borrow, the study found. Among those who read at least one book in the past year, more than half said they tend to purchase books rather than borrow them. Fewer Americans are visiting libraries than in recent years, but more Americans are using library websites.

This is significant given what people say they value most about libraries—it's the place, not the books available there, that young people cite as most important.

Not surprisingly, high school and college-aged people reported reading more than survey respondents in their late twenties. From the report: "Deeper connections with public libraries are also often associated with key life moments such as having a child, seeking a job, being a student, and going through a situation in which research and data can help inform a decision."

Beyond age, Pew found that women, Hispanics, African Americans, and adults with lower incomes and lower levels of educational attainment were all more likely than other groups to call library services "very important."

Another key finding from the study: People under 30—those who use Internet-connected technologies the most—were also more likely than older adults to say that there is "a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the internet."

In other words, the demographic that gets criticized for relying on the Internet most was also the most likely to acknowledge its limitations."
adriennelafrance  2014  libraries  internet  reading  literacy  us  books  howweread  online  web 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Mozilla Web Literacy — Andrew Sliwinski has recently joined Mozilla as a...
"Andrew has a background in learning, as well as engineering and design. He thinks digital literacy is a ‘huge and valuable thing’ that has shaped is life. The first thing we discussed was that the Web Literacy Map presupposes that the user sees value in the web / technical domain being described. People in Bangladesh or under-served communities in the US don’t necessarily see this straight away. Job One is getting them to care.

Web Literacy is about empowerment, says Andrew - not trying to turn users into anything other than more empowered versions of themselves. This is tricky, as this empowerment is not something you understand before (or even during) the process. Only afterwards do you realise the power of the skills you now have. Also, contextualisation only happens after the learning has taken place. That’s why learning pathways are interesting - but “as a reflection tool rather than an efficacy tool”. Pledging for a pathway is aspirational and has motivational benefits, but these aren’t necessary to learning itself.

Andrew thinks that the ‘creamy nougat centre’ of the Web Literacy Map is great. The Exploring / Building / Connecting structure works and there’s ‘no giant gaping holes’. However, we should tie it more closely to the Mozilla mission and get people to care about it. Overwhelm them with how amazing the web is. One way of doing this is by teaching problem-solving. Get them to list the things they’re struggling with, and then give them the mental models to help them solve their problems.

Getting over the first hurdle can be difficult, so Andrew explained how at DIY.org they used personas. The skills on the site are aspirational titles - e.g. ‘Rocketeer’ - which draws the user into something that gives them “enough modeling to start momentum.” Andrew did add a disclaimer about research showing that over-specificity of roles is not so motivational.

We need a feedback loop for the Web Literacy Map. How is it being used? How can we make it better? Andrew also thinks we should use personas across Webmaker to represent particular constituencies. We could liaise with particular organisations (e.g. NWP) which would inform the design process and elevate their input in the discussion. They would be experts in a particular use case.

We discussed long-term learning results and how subject matter plays into the way that various approaches either work or don’t. For example, Khan Academy is linear, almost rote-based learning, but that suits the subject matter (Maths). It does efficacy really well. Everyone points to DuoLingo as a the poster child for non-linear learning pathways, but there’s no proof it works really well.

Andrew’s got a theory that “the way to get people to build life-changing, amazing, relevant things is to have fun and be creative”. We should build tools to facilitate that. Yes, we can model endpoints, but ensure the onboarding experience is about whimsy and creating environments where the user is comfortable and feels accepted. It’s only after the fact that they realise they’ve learned stuff.

We should start from ‘this is awesome!’ and then weave the messaging on the web into it. Webmaker as a platform/enabler for cool stuff. What are the parts that we all see at the same time that makes the web special, Andrew asked? He thinks one of these things is the incredibly long tail of content, from which comes incredible diversity. This is the differentiator, making the web different from Facebook or the App Store. We don’t see this from an individual user perspective, though. Although we love looking at network maps, we don’t really get it because we visit the same 20 websites every day.

Part of web literacy is about building ‘cultural empathy’, says Andrew - and showing how it helps on an everyday basis. We should focus on meaning and value first, and then show how skills are a means of getting there. What’s our trajectory for the learner?

Andrew believes that we should approach the Web Literacy Map from a ‘personas’ point of view - perhaps building on the recent UX Personas work. These are very different from the Mobile Webmaker personas that Andrew’s team have put together. We should focus on a compelling user experience from start to finish for users to navigate literacies and to create their own learning pathways. For Andrew, the Web Literacy Map is the glue to hold everything together."
andrewsliwinski  2014  interviews  webliteracy  web  online  problemsolving  learning  fun  projectbasedlearning  webliteracymap  mozilla  personas  motivation  duolingo  howwelearn  modeling  culturalempathy  inclusivity  webmaker  roles  contextualization  khanacademy  rotelearning  linearity  efficacy  dougbelshaw  beginners  making  care  lcproject  openstudioproject  onboarding  experience  userexperience  ux  whimsy  sandboxes  pathways  howweteach  momentum  remixing  enabling  platforms  messiness  diversity  internet  open  openweb  complexity  empowerment  teaching  mentoring  mentorship  canon  facilitation  tcsnmy  frameworks  understanding  context  unschooling  deschooling  education  linear  literacy  multiliteracies  badges  mapping  reflection  retrospect  inclusion  pbl  remixculture  rote  inlcusivity 
september 2014 by robertogreco
How Culture Shapes Our Senses - NYTimes.com
"FLORENCE, Italy — WE think of our senses as hard-wired gateways to the world. Many years ago the social psychologist Daryl J. Bem described the knowledge we gain from our senses as “zero-order beliefs,” so taken for granted that we do not even notice them as beliefs. The sky is blue. The fan hums. Ice is cold. That’s the nature of reality, and it seems peculiar that different people with their senses intact would experience it subjectively.

Yet they do. In recent years anthropologists have begun to point out that sensory perception is culturally specific. “Sensory perception,” Constance Classen, the author of “The Deepest Sense: A Cultural History of Touch,” says, “is a cultural as well as physical act.” It’s a controversial claim made famous by Marshall McLuhan’s insistence that nonliterate societies were governed by spoken words and sound, while literate societies experienced words visually and so were dominated by sight. Few anthropologists would accept that straightforwardly today. But more and more are willing to argue that sensory perception is as much about the cultural training of attention as it is about biological capacity.

Now they have some quantitative evidence to support the point. Recently, a team of anthropologists and psychologists at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Radboud University, both in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, set out to discover how language and culture affected sensory awareness. Under the leadership of Asifa Majid and Stephen C. Levinson, they made up a kit of systematic stimuli for the traditional five senses: for sight, color chips and geometric forms; for hearing, pitch, amplitude and rhythm variations; for smell, a set of scratch-and-sniff cards; and so forth. They took these kits to over 20 cultural groups around the world. Their results upend some of our basic assumptions.

For example, it’s fairly common, in scientific literature, to find the view that “humans are astonishingly bad at odor identification and naming,” as a recent review of 30 years of experiments concluded. When ordinary people are presented with the smell of ordinary substances (coffee, peanut butter, chocolate), they correctly identify about half of them. That’s why we think of scent as a trigger for personal memory — leading to the recall of something specific, particular, uniquely our own.

It turns out that the subjects of those 30 years of experiments were mostly English-speaking. Indeed, English speakers find it easy to identify the common color in milk and jasmine flowers (“white”) but not the common scent in, say, bat droppings and the leaf of ginger root. When the research team presented what should have been familiar scents to Americans — cinnamon, turpentine, lemon, rose and so forth — they were terrible at naming them. Americans, they wrote, said things like this when presented with the cinnamon scratch-and-sniff card: “I don’t know how to say that, sweet, yeah; I have tasted that gum like Big Red or something tastes like, what do I want to say? I can’t get the word. Jesus it’s like that gum smell like something like Big Red. Can I say that? O.K. Big Red, Big Red gum.”

When the research team visited the Jahai, rain-forest foragers on the Malay Peninsula, they found that the Jahai were succinct and more accurate with the scratch-and-sniff cards. In fact, they were about as good at naming what they smelled as what they saw. They do, in fact, have an abstract term for the shared odor in bat droppings and the leaf of ginger root. Abstract odor terms are common among people on the Malay Peninsula.

The team also found that several communities — speakers of Persian, Turkish and Zapotec — used different metaphors than English and Dutch speakers to describe pitch, or frequency: Sounds were thin or thick rather than high or low. In later work, they demonstrated that the metaphors were powerful enough to disrupt perception. When Dutch speakers heard a tone while being shown a mismatched height bar (e.g., a high tone and a low bar) and were asked to sing the tone, they sang a lower tone. But the perception wasn’t influenced when they were shown a thin or thick bar. When Persian speakers heard a tone and were shown a bar of mismatched thickness, however, they misremembered the tone — but not when they were shown a bar mismatched for height.

The team also found that some of these differences could change over time. They taught the Dutch speakers to think about pitch as thin or thick, and soon these participants, too, found that their memory of a tone was affected by being shown a bar that was too thick or too thin. They found that younger Cantonese speakers had fewer words for tastes and smells than older ones, a shift attributed to rapid socioeconomic development and Western-style schooling.

I wrote this in Florence, Italy, a city famous as a feast for the senses. People say that Florence teaches you to see differently — that as the soft light moves across the ocher buildings, you see colors you never noticed before.

It taught Kevin Systrom, a co-founder of Instagram, to see differently. He attributes his inspiration to a photography class he took in Florence while at a Stanford study-abroad program about a decade ago. His teacher took away his state-of-the-art camera and insisted he use an old plastic one instead, to change the way he saw. He loved those photos, the vintage feel of them, and the way the buildings looked in the light. He set out to recreate that look in the app he built. And that has changed the way many of us now see as well."
senses  taste  smell  olfaction  touch  sight  seeing  noticing  language  languages  culture  darylbem  tmluhrmann  constanceclassen  wcydwt  glvo  slow  marshallmcluhan  anthropology  psychology  perception  sense  asifamajid  stephenlevinson  sound  hearing  tone  pitch  rhythm  color  comparison  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  literacies  literacy  identification  naming  kevinsystrom 
september 2014 by robertogreco