robertogreco + rules   169

On Bullsh*t Jobs | David Graeber | RSA Replay - YouTube
"In 2013 David Graeber, professor of anthropology at LSE, wrote an excoriating essay on modern work for Strike! magazine. “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs” was read over a million times and the essay translated in seventeen different languages within weeks. Graeber visits the RSA to expand on this phenomenon, and will explore how the proliferation of meaningless jobs - more associated with the 20th-century Soviet Union than latter-day capitalism - has impacted modern society. In doing so, he looks at how we value work, and how, rather than being productive, work has become an end in itself; the way such work maintains the current broken system of finance capital; and, finally, how we can get out of it."
davidgraeber  bullshitjobs  employment  jobs  work  2018  economics  neoliberalism  capitalism  latecapitalism  sovietunion  bureaucracy  productivity  finance  policy  politics  unschooling  deschooling  labor  society  purpose  schooliness  debt  poverty  inequality  rules  anticapitalism  morality  wealth  power  control  technology  progress  consumerism  suffering  morals  psychology  specialization  complexity  systemsthinking  digitization  automation  middlemanagement  academia  highered  highereducation  management  administration  adminstrativebloat  minutia  universalbasicincome  ubi  supplysideeconomics  creativity  elitism  thecultofwork  anarchism  anarchy  zero-basedaccounting  leisure  taylorism  ethics  happiness  production  care  maintenance  marxism  caregiving  serviceindustry  gender  value  values  gdp  socialvalue  education  teaching  freedom  play  feminism  mentalhealth  measurement  fulfillment  supervision  autonomy  humans  humnnature  misery  canon  agency  identity  self-image  self-worth  depression  stress  anxiety  solidarity  camaraderie  respect  community 
january 2019 by robertogreco
David Graeber on a Fair Future Economy - YouTube
"David Graeber is an anthropologist, a leading figure in the Occupy movement, and one of our most original and influential public thinkers.

He comes to the RSA to address our current age of ‘total bureaucratization’, in which public and private power has gradually fused into a single entity, rife with rules and regulations, whose ultimate purpose is the extraction of wealth in the form of profits.

David will consider what it would take, in terms of intellectual clarity, political will and imaginative power – to conceive and build a flourishing and fair future economy, which would maximise the scope for individual and collective creativity, and would be sustainable and just."
democracy  liberalism  directdemocracy  borders  us  finance  globalization  bureaucracy  2015  ows  occupywallstreet  governance  government  economics  politics  policy  unschooling  unlearning  schooliness  technology  paperwork  future  utopianism  capitalism  constitution  rules  regulation  wealth  power  communism  authority  authoritarianism  creativity  neoliberalism  austerity  justice  socialjustice  society  ideology  inequality  revolution  global  international  history  law  legal  debt  freedom  money  monetarypolicy  worldbank  imf  markets  banks  banking  certification  credentials  lobbying  collusion  corruption  privatization  credentialization  deschooling  canon  firstamendment 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids - The New York Times
[This is one of three connected articles:]

"Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids
Child care contracts now demand that nannies hide phones, tablets, computers and TVs from their charges."
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/silicon-valley-nannies.html

"The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected
America’s public schools are still promoting devices with screens — even offering digital-only preschools. The rich are banning screens from class altogether."
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/digital-divide-screens-schools.html

"A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley
“I am convinced the devil lives in our phones.”"
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/phones-children-silicon-valley.html

[See also:
"What the Times got wrong about kids and phones"
https://www.cjr.org/criticism/times-silicon-valley-kids.php

https://twitter.com/edifiedlistener/status/1058438953299333120
"Now that I've had a chance to read this article [specifically: "The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected"] and some others related to children and screen time and the wealthy and the poor, I have some thoughts. 1/

First, this article on the unexpected digital divide between rich and poor seems entirely incomplete. There is an early reference to racial differences in screen usage but in the article there are no voices of black or brown folks that I could detect. 2/

We are told a number of things: Wealthy parents are shunning screens in their children's lives, psychologists underscore the addictive nature of screen time on kids, and of course, whatever the short end of the stick is - poor kids get that. 3/

We hear "It could happen that the children of poorer and middle-class parents will be raised by screens," while wealthy kids will perhaps enjoy "wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction." 4/

Think about that and think about the stories that have long been told about poor families, about single parents, about poor parents of color - They aren't as involved in their kids' education, they are too busy working. Familiar stereotypes. 5/

Many of these judgments often don't hold up under scrutiny. So much depends upon who gets to tell those stories and how those stories are marketed, sold and reproduced. 6/

In this particular story about the privilege of being able to withdraw from or reduce screen time, we get to fall back into familiar narratives especially about the poor and non-elite. 7/

Of course those with less will be told after a time by those with much more - "You're doing it wrong." And "My child will be distinguished by the fact that he/she/they is not dependent on a device for entertainment or diversion." 8/

My point is not that I doubt the risks and challenges of excessive screen time for kids and adults. Our dependence on tech *is* a huge social experiment and the outcomes are looking scarier by the day. 9/

I do, however, resist the consistent need of the wealthy elite to seek ways to maintain their distance to the mainstream. To be the ones who tell us what's "hot, or not" - 10/

Chris Anderson points out "“The digital divide was about access to technology, and now that everyone has access, the new digital divide is limiting access to technology,” - 11/

This article and its recent close cousins about spying nannies in SV & more elite parent hand wringing over screen in the NYT feel like their own category of expensive PR work - again allowing SV to set the tone. 12/

It's not really about screens or damage to children's imaginations - it's about maintaining divides, about insuring that we know what the rich do (and must be correct) vs what the rest of us must manage (sad, bad). 13/fin]
siliconvalley  edtech  children  technology  parenting  2018  nelliebowles  addiction  psychology  hypocrisy  digitaldivide  income  inequality  ipads  smartphones  screentime  schools  education  politics  policy  rules  childcare  policing  surveillance  tracking  computers  television  tv  tablets  phones  mobile  teaching  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  anyakamenetz  sherrispelic 
october 2018 by robertogreco
What It Would Take to Set American Kids Free | The New Yorker
"My trip coincided with the publication of “The Anti-Helicopter Parent’s Plea: Let Kids Play!” in the Times Magazine, a masterful bit of parental trolling whose comment section reached a symbolic two thousand and sixteen entries before it was closed. The dozens of adventure playgrounds in Tokyo offer, as a public amenity, what Mike Lanza (the “anti-helicopter parent” in question) says he created in his private Menlo Park, California, back yard: a challenging and unscheduled place for physical play that is largely free of parental supervision. Lanza is far from alone in believing that American children have a play problem. Take a look at Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids blog, which is peppered with reports of cops and child-protective services being called when parents leave their kids to play unsupervised. Lanza’s own book, “Playborhood,” describes the kids-can’t-play problem as both a social one and a spatial one. Without broader community support, such back-yard attempts at free play like his are doomed to become exercises in vanity. Look at them on the roof! My kids are more resilient than yours!

The overprogrammed, oversterilized, overprotected lives of (some of) America’s youth are the result of a nexus of changes to work life, home life, and street life that have made bringing up babies into a series of consumer choices, from unsubsidized day care forward. It is the public realm—where the Tokyo playgrounds operate—that needs to change for American children to have unstructured afternoons and weekends, for them to bike and walk between school and the playground, to see packs of kids get together without endless chains of parental texts. Kawasaki City, where Kodomo Yume Park is located, created its own Ordinance on the Rights of the Child, in 2001, which includes an article promising to make “secure and comfortable places for children.”

But independence requires infrastructure. Hanegi Playpark was founded in 1975 by Kenichi Omura, a landscape architect, and his wife Shoko Omura, an English teacher. They translated the key book on adventure play into Japanese and then travelled to Europe to meet with the woman who was their prime mover from the nineteen-fifties on: Lady Allen of Hurtwood. Lady Allen had seen the first such “junk playground” in Emdrup, outside Copenhagen, where it became a refuge for youth then under German occupation. She spent subsequent decades as a “propagandist for children’s play.” In Tokyo, a low crime rate and a society accustomed to community ownership of public space has created, around Hanegi and approximately thirteen other such parks, a city where there is more room for innocent error.

The road to Kodomo Yume Park (which means “children’s dream”) was narrow and winding, and there was no sidewalk for much of the way. And yet it was safe, because the tiny cars knew to look for pedestrians and cyclists, and drove at slower speeds. There were people in the houses and stores along the route, and few of the buildings were more than three or four stories tall, offering “eyes on the street” as well as adults who might be appealed to for help. The neighborhood, like the adventure playground, operated as a safety net, ready in case of trouble but not often deployed. A mother who was camped out at Yume Park with five children, the youngest a three-month-old, told me a story—hilarious for her—that would have been a nightmare for me. Her two-year-old, who had observed his five-year-old brother being sent to the corner to buy bread, decided he could do the same, and turned up at the shop with an empty wallet. I looked around at the protected bike lanes, the publicly funded playground workers, and the houses where people are home in the afternoon. Do I wish that my kids—who are five and nine**—**could roll on their own from school to the park, meet friends, and appear on the doorstep at 5 p.m., muddy, damp, and full of play? I do, but then I think of the Saturdays dominated by sports schedules, the windswept winter playgrounds, the kids hit by cars in crosswalks, with the light. It isn’t the idea of my kids holding a hammer or saw that scares me but the idea of trying to make community alone.

At the adventure playgrounds, the kids build the equipment they need under the hands-off supervision of play workers trained to facilitate but not to interfere. I’ve read the diary of the first play worker, John Bertelsen, who ran the adventure playground that Lady Allen visited at Emdrup. His account of the day-to-day in 1943 sounds quite similar to what I observed in 2016.
At 10:45 am today the playground opened . . . We began by moving all the building material in the open shed. Bricks, boards, fireposts and cement pillars were moved to the left alongside the entrance, where building and digging started right away. The work was done by children aged 4 to 17. It went on at full speed and all the workers were in high spirits; dust, sweat, warning shouts and a few scratches all created just the right atmosphere. The children’s play- and work-ground had opened, and they knew how to take full advantage of it.

The do-it-yourself rule is, to a certain extent, self-limiting, as towers built with simple tools are shorter than those ordered from catalogues. I saw plenty of children up on roofs—the rule was, if you can climb up without a ladder, relying on your own strength and ingenuity, it’s O.K. In a documentary on The Land, a Welsh adventure playground, a play worker describes the difference between risk and hazard: a risk you take on knowingly; a hazard is unexpected, like a nail sticking out of a board. The play workers are there to remove hazards and leave the risks.

Journalism about adventure play tends to emphasize the danger, but these spaces actually need to be seen as exceptionally porous community centers, in which lots of social activities, for parents and children, occur. “Risky play” is a way for children to test their own limits, and because the parks are embedded in residential communities they can do so at their own pace. Hitoshi Shimamura, who runs the organization Tokyo Play, told me that he has sessions to teach parents to use the tools, because their fear derived from their own lack of experience. Kids also need time to ease into the freedom and figure out which activity most appeals to them. If adventure play were to become permanent in New York, it would do better as a permanent fixture in a neighborhood than as a weekend destination. At a temporary adventure playground set up by Play:Ground on Governors Island this summer, a sign on the fence read, “Your children are fine without advice and suggestions,” though legally, children under six had to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The “adventure” can be with water, with tools, with real fire, or just with pretend kitchen equipment, allowing the parks to appeal to a broad array of children, and over a longer period of time. What this means, in practice, is a range of activity during days, weeks, or even years. In the morning, adventure playgrounds become settings for an urban version of a forest preschool, where small children learn the basics of getting along outdoors. In the afternoon, they become a place for older kids to let off steam between school and homework; many communities in Tokyo play a public chime at five in the afternoon—a mass call that is it time to go home. On the weekends, Yume Park might ring with the hammers of children, but for teen-agers there are other options: a recording studio with padded walls; a wooden shed piled with bike parts for the taking; a quiet, shaded place for conversation. Bertelsen wrote in his diary,
Occasionally, complaints have been made that the playground does not possess a smart enough appearance, and that children cannot possibly be happy playing about in such a jumble. To this I should only like to say that, at times, the children can shape and mould [sic] the playground in such a way that it is a monument to their efforts and a source of aesthetic pleasure to the adult eye; at other times it can appear, to the adult eye, like a pigsty. However, children’s play is not what the adults see, but what the child himself experiences.

One of my favorite moments in Tokyo occurred late one afternoon at a smaller adventure playground, Komazawa Harappa, a long sliver of space in a tight residential neighborhood, masked from the street by a simple hedge. Three kids fanned the flames in a fire pit; a baby padded about a dirty pool dressed in a diaper; two small boys, hammering on a house, had remembered to take their shoes off on the porch. But not everyone felt the need to be busy. Two teen-age girls had climbed up on the roof of the play workers’ house, via a self-built platform of poles and planks, and seemed deep in conversation. Suddenly, they began to sing, their clear voices ringing out over the open space."
alexandralange  children  unschooling  deschooling  community  2016  infrastructure  parks  playgrounds  adventureplaygrounds  risk  risktaking  hazards  japan  parenting  openstudioproject  messiness  johnbertelsen  kenishiomura  ladyallen  emdrup  copenhagen  tokyo  kodomoyumepark  srg  urban  urbanism  play  lenoreskenazy  hanegiplaypark  tools  dirt  order  rules  mikelanza  supervision  safety  independence  us  shokoomura  diy  risklyplay  lcproject  tcsnmt  sfsh 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Ten guidelines for nurturing a thriving democracy by Bertrand Russell
"In December 1951, British philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote a piece for the NY Times Magazine titled The Best Answer to Fanaticism — Liberalism with a subhead that says “Its calm search for truth, viewed as dangerous in many places, remains the hope of humanity.” At the end of the article, he offers a list of ten commandments for living in the spirit of liberalism:

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2. Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3. Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.

4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

9. Be scrupulously truthful, even when truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

Over the past few years, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to keep an open mind about many issues, particularly on those related to politics. Remaining curious and generous about new & different ideas, especially in public, is perhaps more challenging than it was in Russell’s time. We are bombarded on all sides by propaganda, conspiracy theories, and broadly discredited theories from the past pushed upon us by entertainment news outlets and social media algorithms — we’re under a constant denial-of-service attack on our ability to think and reason.

We can’t reasonably be expected to give serious consideration to ideas like “the Holocaust didn’t happen”, “the Earth is flat”, “the Newtown massacre was faked”, “let’s try slavery again”, “vaccines cause autism”, and “anthropogenic climate change is a myth” — the evidence just doesn’t support any of it — but playing constant defense against all this crap makes it difficult to have good & important discussions with those we might disagree with about things like education, the role of national borders in a extremely mobile world, how to address our changing climate, systemic racism & discrimination, gun violence, healthcare, and dozens of other important issues. Perhaps with Russell’s guidelines in mind, we can make some progress on that front."
bertrandrussell  rules  guidelines  howto  democracy  politics  fanaticism  liberalism  truth  thinking  criticalthinking  evidence  authority  opposition  opinions  happiness  curiosity 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Dan Ariely on Irrationality, Bad Decisions, and the Truth About Lies
"On this episode of the Knowledge Project, I’m joined by the fascinating Dan Ariely. Dan just about does it all. He has delivered 6 TED talks with a combined 20 million views, he’s a multiple New York Times best-selling author, a widely published researcher, and the James B Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University.

For the better part of three decades, Dan has been immersed in researching why humans do some of the silly, irrational things we do. And yes, as much as we’d all like to be exempt, that includes you too.

In this captivating interview, we tackle a lot of interesting topics, including:

• The three types of decisions that control our lives and how understanding our biases can help us make smarter decisions

• How our environment plays a big role in our decision making and the small changes we can make to automatically improve our outcomes

• The “behavioral driven” bathroom scale Dan has been working on to revolutionize weight loss

• Which of our irrational behaviors transfer across cultures and which ones are unique to certain parts of the world (for example, find out which country is the most honest)

• The dishonesty spectrum and why we as humans insist on flirting with the line between “honest” and “dishonest”

• 3 sneaky mental tricks Dan uses to avoid making ego-driven decisions [https://www.fs.blog/smart-decisions/ ]

• “Pluralistic ignorance” [https://www.fs.blog/2013/05/pluralistic-ignorance/ ] and how it dangerously affects our actions and inactions (As a bonus, Dan shares the hilarious way he demonstrates this concept to his students on their first day of class)

• The rule Dan created specifically for people with spinach in their teeth

• The difference between habits, rules and rituals, and why they are critical to shaping us into who we want to be

This was a riveting discussion and one that easily could have gone for hours. If you’ve ever wondered how you’d respond in any of these eye-opening experiments, you have to listen to this interview. If you’re anything like me, you’ll learn something new about yourself, whether you want to or not."
danariely  decisionmaking  decisions  truth  lies  rationality  irrationality  2018  habits  rules  psychology  ritual  rituals  danielkahneman  bias  biases  behavior  honesty  economics  dishonesty  human  humans  ego  evolutionarypsychology  property  capitalism  values  ownership  wealth  care  caretaking  resilience  enron  cheating 
may 2018 by robertogreco
General Vagaries. • winchysteria: ossacordis: crockpotcauldron: ...
"there’s something endlessly hilarious to me about the phrase “hotly debated” in an academic context. like i just picture a bunch of nerds at podiums & one’s like “of course there was a paleolithic bear cult in Northern Eurasia” and another one just looks him in the eye and says “i’l kill you in real life, kevin”

>>

[image

"The Milton scholars screamed and argued about how the serpent was supposed to move before it crawled on its belly. Dr. Matthews, enraged that Dr. Goldstein could believe the serpent bounced around on the coiled end of its tail, flipped over the conference table. "Satan is not a fucking pogo stick!" he howled."]

>>

I heard a story once about two microbiologists at a conference who took it out into the parking lot to have a literal fistfight over taxonomy.

>>

have i told this story yet? idk but it’s good. The Orangutan Story:

my american lit professor went to this poe conference. like to be clear this is a man who has a doctorate in being a book nerd. he reads moby dick to his four-year-old son. and poe is one of the cornerstones of american literature, right, so this should be right up his alley?

wrong. apparently poe scholars are like, advanced. there is a branch of edgar allen poe scholarship that specifically looks for coded messages based on the number of words per line and letters per word poe uses. my professor, who has a phd in american literature, realizes he is totally out of his depth. but he already committed his day to this so he thinks fuck it! and goes to a panel on racism in poe’s works, because that’s relevant to his interests.

background info: edgar allen poe was a broke white alcoholic from virginia who wrote horror in the first half of the 19th century. rule 1 of Horror Academia is that horror reflects the cultural anxieties of its time (see: my other professor’s sermon abt how zombie stories are popular when people are scared of immigrants, or that purge movie that was literally abt the election). since poe’s shit is a product of 1800s white southern culture, you can safely assume it’s at least a little about race. but the racial subtext is very open to interpretation, and scholars believe all kinds of different things about what poe says about race (if he says anything), and the poe stans get extremely tense about it.

so my professor sits down to watch this panel and within like five minutes a bunch of crusty academics get super heated about poe’s theoretical racism. because it’s academia, though, this is limited to poorly concealed passive aggression and forceful tones of inside voice. one professor is like “this isn’t even about race!” and another professor is like “this proves he’s a racist!” people are interrupting each other. tensions are rising. a panelist starts saying that poe is like writing a critique of how racist society was, and the racist stuff is there to prove that racism is stupid, and that on a metaphorical level the racist philosophy always loses—

then my professor, perhaps in a bid to prove that he too is a smart literature person, loudly calls: “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ORANGUTAN?”

some more background: in poe’s well-known short story “the murder in the rue morgue,” two single ladies—a lovely old woman and her lovely daughter who takes care of her, aka super vulnerable and respectable people—are violently killed. the murderer turns out to be not a person, but an orangutan brought back by a sailor who went to like burma or something. and it’s pretty goddamn racially coded, like they reeeeally focus on all this stuff about coarse hairs and big hands and superhuman strength and chattering that sounds like people talking but isn’t actually. if that’s intentional, then he’s literally written an analogy about how black people are a threat to vulnerable white women, which is classic white supremacist shit. BUT if he really only meant for it to be an orangutan, then it’s a whole other metaphor about how colonialism pillages other countries and brings their wealth back to europe and that’s REALLY gonna bite them in the ass one day. klansman or komrade? it all hangs on this.

so the place goes dead fucking silent as every giant ass poe stan in the room is immediately thrust into a series of war flashbacks: the orangutan argument, violently carried out over seminar tables, in literary journals, at graduate student house parties, the spittle flying, the wine and coffee spilled, the friendships torn—the red faces and bulging veins—curses thrown and teaching posts abandoned—panels just like this one fallen into chaos—distant sirens, skies falling, the dog-eared norton critical editions slicing through the air like sabres—the textual support! o, the quotes! they gaze at this madman in numb disbelief, but he could not have known. nay, he was a literary theorist, a 17th-century man, only a visitor to their haunted land. he had never heard the whistle of the mortars overhead. he had never felt the cold earth under his cheek as he prayed for god’s deliverance. and yet he would have broken their fragile peace and brought them all back into the trenches.

much later, when my professor told this story to a poe nerd friend, the guy said the orangutan thing was a one of the biggest landmines in their field. he said it was a reliable discussion ruiner that had started so many shouting matches that some conferences had an actual ban on bringing it up.

so my professor sits there for a second, still totally clueless. then out of the dead silence, the panel moderator stands up in his tweed jacket and yells, with the raw panic of a once-broken man:

WE! DO NOT! TALK ABOUT! THE ORANGUTAN!"
conferences  via:robinsonmeyer  2018  academia  arguments  debate  humor  orangutans  racism  disagreement  rules  taxonomy  johnmilton  edgarallanpoe  serpents  highered  highereducation  education 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Haircuts by Children and Other Evidence for a New Social Contract | Coach House Books
"A cultural planner's immodest proposal: change how we think about children and we just might change the world.

We live in an ‘adultitarian’ state, where the rules are based on very adult priori- ties and understandings of reality. Young people are disenfranchised and power- less; they understand they’re subject to an authoritarian regime, whether they buy into it or not. But their unique perspectives also offerincredible potential for social, cultural and economic innovation.

Cultural planner and performance director Darren O’Donnell has been collaborating with children for years through his company, Mammalian Diving Reflex; their most well-known piece, Haircuts by Children (exactly what it sounds like) has been performed internationally. O’Donnell suggests that working with children in the cultural industries in a manner that maintains a large space for their participation can be understood as a pilot for a vision of a very different role for young people in the world – one that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child considers a ‘new social contract.’

Haircuts by Children is a practical proposal for the inclusion of children in as many realms as possible, not only as an expression of their rights, but as a way to intervene in the world and to disrupt the stark economic inequalities perpetuated by thestatus quo. Deeply practical and wildly whimsical, Haircuts by Children might actually make total sense.

‘No other playwright working in Toronto right now has O’Donnell’s talent for synthesizing psychosocial, artistic and political random thoughts and reflections into compelling analyses ... The world (not to mention the theatre world) could use more of this, if only to get us talking and debating.’

– The Globe and Mail"
children  cities  age  darreno'donnell  toread  books  society  culture  rules  power  disenfranchisement  economics  participation  humanrights  involvement  sfsh  unshooling  deschooling 
february 2018 by robertogreco
The Culture of Childhood: We’ve Almost Destroyed It
[previously posted here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201609/biological-foundations-self-directed-education ]

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Authentic communication. …

Independence and courage. …

Creating and understanding the purpose and modifiability of rules. …

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

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

Getting along with others as equals."



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

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

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

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

The Internet is the savior of children’s culture today

There is, however, one saving grace, one reason why we adults have not completely crushed the culture of childhood. That’s the Internet. We’ve created a world in which children are more or less prevented from congregating in physical space without an adult, but children have found another way. They get together in cyberspace. They play games and communicate over the Internet. They create their own rules and culture and ways of being with others over … [more]
childhood  culture  learning  children  play  rules  age  adults  parenting  schools  petergray  2016  sfsh  openstudioproject  lcproject  self-directed  self-directedlearning  games  unschooling  deschooling  society  behavior  howwelearn  democracy  change  practice  communication  autonomy  online  internet  web  authenticity  courage  hunter-gatherers  augusthermannfrancke  obedience  willfulness  youth  generations  jeanpiaget  ionaopie  peteropie  psychology  anthropology  peers 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Heresy of Zone Defense | Thomas Cummins Art & Architectural Photography | San Antonio, Tx
"Consider this for a moment: Julius Erving’s play was at once new and fair! The rules, made by people who couldn’t begin to imagine Erving’s play, made it possible. If this doesn’t intrigue you, it certainly intrigues me, because, to be blunt, I have always had a problem with “the rules,” as much now as when I was younger. Thanks to an unruled and unruly childhood, however, I have never doubted the necessity of having them, even though they all go bad, and despite the fact that I have never been able to internalize them. To this day, I never stop at a stop sign without mentally patting myself on the back for my act of good citizenship, but I do stop (usually) because the alternative to living with rules—as I discovered when I finally learned some—is just hell. It is a life of perpetual terror, self-conscious wariness, and self-deluding ferocity, which is not just barbarity, but the condition of not knowing that you are a barbarian. And this is never to know the lightness of joy—or even the possibility of it—because such joys as are attendant upon Julius Erving’s play require civilizing rules that attenuate violence and defer death. They require rules that translate the pain of violent conflict into the pleasures of disputation—into the excitements of politics, the delights of rhetorical art, and competitive sport. Moreover, the maintenance of such joys requires that we recognize, as Thomas Jefferson did, that the liberating rule that civilized us yesterday will, almost inevitably, seek to govern us tomorrow, by suppressing both the pleasure and the disputation. In so doing, it becomes a form of violence itself.

An instance: I can remember being buoyed up, as a youth, by reading about Jackson Pollock in a magazine and seeing photographs of him painting. I was heartened by the stupid little rule through which Pollock civilized his violence. It’s okay to drip paint, Jackson said. The magazine seemed to acquiesce: Yeah, Jackson’s right, it seemed to say, grudgingly, Dripping paint is now within the rules. Discovering this, I was a little bit more free than I was before, and I know that it was a “boy thing,” about privileging prowess at the edge of control and having the confidence to let things go all strange—and I know, as well, that, in my adolescent Weltanschauung, the fact that Jackson Pollock dripped paint somehow justified my not clearing the debris from the floor of my room (which usually, presciently, resembled a Rauschenberg combine). Even so, I had a right to be shocked a few years later when I enrolled in a university and discovered that Pollock’s joyous permission had been translated into a prohibitive, institutional edict: It’s bad not to drip! the art coaches said. It means you got no soul! Yikes!

Henceforth, it has always seemed to me that the trick of civilization lies in recognizing the moment when a rule ceases to liberate and begins to govern—and this brings us back to the glory of hoops. Because among all the arts of disputation our culture provides, basketball has been supreme in recognizing this moment of portending government and in deflecting it, by changing the rules when they threaten to make the game less beautiful and less visible, when the game stops liberating and begins to educate. And even though basketball is not a fine art—even though it is merely an armature upon which we project the image of our desire, while art purports to embody that image—the fact remains that every style change that basketball has undergone in this century has been motivated by a desire to make the game more joyful, various, and articulate, while nearly every style change in fine art has been, in some way, motivated by the opposite agenda. Thus basketball, which began this century as a pedagogical discipline, concludes it as a much beloved public spectacle, while fine art, which began this century as a much-beloved public spectacle, has ended up where basketball began—in the YMCA or its equivalent—governed rather than liberated by its rules."



"The long-standing reform coalition of players, fans, and professional owners would have doubtless seen to that, since these aesthetes have never aspired to anything else. They have never wanted anything but for their team to win beautifully, to score more points, to play faster, and to equalize the opportunity of taller and shorter players—to privilege improvisation, so that gifted athletes, who must play as a team to win (because the game is so well-designed), might express their unique talents in a visible way. Opposing this coalition of ebullient fops is the patriarchal cult of college-basketball coaches and their university employers, who have always wanted to slow the game down, to govern, to achieve continuity, to ensure security and maintain stability. These academic bureaucrats want a “winning program” and plot to win programmatically, by fitting interchangeable players into pre-assigned “positions” within the “system.” And if this entails compelling gifted athletes to guard little patches of hardwood in static zone defenses and to trot around on offense in repetitive, choreographed patterns until they and their fans slip off into narcoleptic coma, then so be it. That’s the way Coach wants it. Fortunately, almost no one else does; and thus under pressure from the professional game, college basketball today is either an enormously profitable, high-speed moral disgrace or a stolid, cerebral celebration of the coach-as-auteur—which should tell us something about the wedding of art and education.

In professional basketball, however, art wins. Every major rule change in the past sixty years has been instituted to forestall either the Administrator’s Solution (Do nothing and hold on to your advantage) or the Bureaucratic Imperative (Guard your little piece of territory like a mad rat in a hole). The “ten-second rule” that requires a team to advance the ball aggressively, and the “shot-clock rule” that requires a team to shoot the ball within twenty-four seconds of gaining possession of it, have pretty much eliminated the option of holding the ball and doing nothing with it, since, at various points in the history of the game, this simulacrum of college administration has nearly destroyed it.

The “illegal-defense rule” which banned zone defenses, however, did more than save the game. It moved professional basketball into the fluid complexity of post-industrial culture—leaving the college game with its zoned parcels of real estate behind. Since zone defenses were first forbidden in 1946, the rules against them have undergone considerable refinement, but basically they now require that every defensive player on the court defend against another player on the court, anywhere on the court, all the time."



"James Naismith’s Guiding Principles of Basket-Ball, 1891
(Glossed by the author)

1) There must be a ball; it should be large.
(This in prescient expectation of Connie Hawkins and Julius Erving, whose hands would reinvent basketball as profoundly as Jimi Hendrix’s hands reinvented rock-and-roll.)

2) There shall be no running with the ball.
(Thus mitigating the privileges of owning portable property. Extended ownership of the ball is a virtue in football. Possession of the ball in basketball is never ownership; it is always temporary and contingent upon your doing something with it.)

3) No man on either team shall be restricted from getting the ball at any time that it is in play.
(Thus eliminating the job specialization that exists in football, by whose rules only those players in “skill positions” may touch the ball. The rest just help. In basketball there are skills peculiar to each position, but everyone must run, jump, catch, shoot, pass, and defend.)

4) Both teams are to occupy the same area, yet there is to be no personal contact.
(Thus no rigorous territoriality, nor any rewards for violently invading your opponents’ territory unless you score. The model for football is the drama of adjacent nations at war. The model for basketball is the polyglot choreography of urban sidewalks.)

5) The goal shall be horizontal and elevated.
(The most Jeffersonian principle of all: Labor must be matched by aspiration. To score, you must work your way down court, but you must also elevate! Ad astra.)"
davehickey  via:ablerism  1995  basketball  rules  games  nfl  nba  defense  jamesnaismith  play  constrains  aesthetics  americanfootball  football  territoriality  possession  ownership  specialization  generalists  beauty  juliuserving  jimihendrix  bodies  hands  1980  kareemabdul-jabbar  mauricecheeks  fluidity  adaptability  ymca  violence  coaching  barbarism  civility  sports  body 
december 2017 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
Why I Don’t Have Classroom Rules | Edutopia
"So I gradually abolished formal management protocols. Away went the rules about bathroom policies, eating in the classroom, and what defines appropriate behavior in a traditional classroom. Instead, I theorized about the broad, underlying principles that would define the field within which we could have a productive learning community.

To be honest, I was terrified. I was worried that if I started to dismantle my power, the class would devolve into chaos.

But I also knew my students: They were thoughtful and reflective, kind and observant, willing to take intellectual risks when they felt supported and safe.

So we started with first principles—it’s wise to start with a simple framework—identifying core premises from which we could build a classroom community. These depend on the teacher’s values, the school culture, and the needs of the students. In my case, I derived them from ideas of agency and social equity, and let the students extrapolate from there.

Next, we proceeded to norm that behavior. I simply took the time to comment on how particular contributions, habits, and behaviors were either in concert with or contrary to the core principles, with the idea that students would begin to mirror that level of depth and awareness. I made sure to offer opportunities, usually at the end of class, to reflect not just on what learning took place, but on what community standards were missing, newly established, or reaffirmed. For example, without a school-wide policy about bathroom usage during class, and after I expressed my own disinterest in regulating bodily functions, we started a conversation about how to solve the problem, deriving community standards from it. Students recognized that that if they weren’t in the room, they couldn’t be engaged or prepared, and staying in the bathroom wasn’t really respectful if other students needed to go as well. One student suggested that it was impossible to take intellectual risks if you were in the bathroom all the time.

The same approach applies to homework, often considered a non-negotiable in high school classrooms. In my class, it’s a chance to demonstrate student agency and experiment with what we’ve learned in class. If a student fails to do it, the absence is its own punishment—I don’t need to double down with teacher-driven shame. If a student tells me they haven’t done their homework, my response is, “That’s fine, you’re all right, but why not?” From there, I can respond in a more personalized way and unearth how to best help.

Metacognition and Student Responsibility

The big insight here is that using this model, every class starts to operate at two levels simultaneously. In the foreground, class proceeds as usual, with the teacher and students engaging in productive work. In the background, there is a kind of running metacognitive discussion that is always evaluating behavior based on these underlying principles. Sometimes, this underlying dynamic breaks through to the surface, and we dedicate valuable class time to equally worthwhile conversations about, for example, the difference between a compliant student and a respectful one, or about how teacher-student relationships ought to be reciprocal.

I have four of our foundational classroom principles posted on the walls:

1. Be respectful to yourself because it sets the context for being able to participate in a community; to others because it is hard to be a student and everyone’s struggles merit your respect; and to the teacher because although it is a position of authority, the teacher should also be vulnerable and learning.

2. Be engaged, because merely being present in the classroom does not necessarily qualify as participation, and a truly pluralistic community requires all voices.

3. Be prepared, because informed conversation requires prepared members, and preparation transcends just the work that is assigned—and is closer to deep thought, sincere skepticism, and a general willingness to interrogate assumptions.

4. Be courageous, because learning requires acknowledging that there are things we don’t know, skills we lack, and ways in which we might still be foolish—which is a scary prospect for everyone in the class, teacher included.

Of course, these are only my principles. A case can be made for any number of others, provided they focus on the conditions for learning, rather than on controlling the minutiae of student behavior.

The reason I find this strategy better than rules is because it teaches students to become active participants in the formation of a community. Rules alone tend to condition the students to become dogmatic followers, while broader imperatives guide them to be critical and reflective participants.

A concession, though: This approach is expensive in terms of time. It requires space and resources and lots of student-teacher conversations. When a student violates the underlying principles or acts in a way that is either self-destructive or hurtful to others, time must be taken to unpack the behavior in a way that respects the community and its principles and doesn’t alienate the individual. That’s a very sophisticated conversation for a high school student to have.

And an admission, too: When I first opted for this method, I didn’t really think it would work. I imagined it as an interesting experiment. But it did work. Not just with my high-performing debate kids or my AP English classes, but with all of them. My students who were burned out and checked out. Those who coasted by with Cs. Freshmen and seniors. Even my English language development students, many of whom have been in the country for less than six months, bought in to the method and grew. They all wanted to feel that their contributions mattered to the community. And if this alternative approach can at least prepare them for a more open, more pluralistic society, then I will take the time and energy it requires from me. That would be a worthy return on investment."
davidtow  2017  teaching  rules  sfsh  howweteach  homework 
october 2017 by robertogreco
How Successful Valedictorians Are After High School | Money
"What becomes of high school valedictorians? It’s what every parent wishes their teenager to be. Mom says study hard and you’ll do well. And very often Mom is right.

But not always.

Karen Arnold, a researcher at Boston College, followed 81 high school valedictorians and salutatorians from graduation onward to see what becomes of those who lead the academic pack. Of the 95 percent who went on to graduate college, their average GPA was 3.6, and by 1994, 60 percent had received a graduate degree. There was little debate that high school success predicted college success. Nearly 90 percent are now in professional careers with 40 percent in the highest tier jobs. They are reliable, consistent, and well-adjusted, and by all measures the majority have good lives.

But how many of these number-one high school performers go on to change the world, run the world, or impress the world? The answer seems to be clear: zero.

Commenting on the success trajectories of her subjects, Karen Arnold said, “Even though most are strong occupational achievers, the great majority of former high school valedictorians do not appear headed for the very top of adult achievement arenas.” In another interview Arnold said, “Valedictorians aren’t likely to be the future’s visionaries . . . they typically settle into the system instead of shaking it up.”

Was it just that these 81 didn’t happen to reach the stratosphere? No. Research shows that what makes students likely to be impressive in the classroom is the same thing that makes them less likely to be home-run hitters outside the classroom.

So why are the number ones in high school so rarely the number ones in real life? There are two reasons. First, schools reward students who consistently do what they are told. Academic grades correlate only loosely with intelligence (standardized tests are better at measuring IQ). Grades are, however, an excellent predictor of self-discipline, conscientiousness, and the ability to comply with rules.

In an interview, Arnold said, “Essentially, we are rewarding conformity and the willingness to go along with the system.” Many of the valedictorians admitted to not being the smartest kid in class, just the hardest worker. Others said that it was more an issue of giving teachers what they wanted than actually knowing the material better. Most of the subjects in the study were classified as “careerists”: they saw their job as getting good grades, not really as learning.

The second reason is that schools reward being a generalist. There is little recognition of student passion or expertise. The real world, however, does the reverse. Arnold, talking about the valedictorians, said, “They’re extremely well rounded and successful, personally and professionally, but they’ve never been devoted to a single area in which they put all their passion. That is not usually a recipe for eminence.”

If you want to do well in school and you’re passionate about math, you need to stop working on it to make sure you get an A in history too. This generalist approach doesn’t lead to expertise. Yet eventually we almost all go on to careers in which one skill is highly rewarded and other skills aren’t that important.

Ironically, Arnold found that intellectual students who enjoy learning struggle in high school. They have passions they want to focus on, are more interested in achieving mastery, and find the structure of school stifling. Meanwhile, the valedictorians are intensely pragmatic. They follow the rules and prize A’s over skills and deep understanding.

School has clear rules. Life often doesn’t. When there’s no clear path to follow, academic high achievers break down. Shawn Achor’s research at Harvard shows that college grades aren’t any more predictive of subsequent life success than rolling dice. A study of over seven hundred American millionaires showed their average college GPA was 2.9.

Following the rules doesn’t create success; it just eliminates extremes—both good and bad. While this is usually good and all but eliminates downside risk, it also frequently eliminates earthshaking accomplishments. It’s like putting a governor on your engine that stops the car from going over fifty-five; you’re far less likely to get into a lethal crash, but you won’t be setting any land speed records either."
schools  schooling  success  valedictiorians  cv  highschool  parenting  academics  rules  compliance  unschooling  education  deschooling  shawnachor  grades  performance  karenarnold 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Unbroken | Music for Deckchairs
"Fault is the shadow thrown by the magic bean we sell as the means of clambering up to a future in which not everyone can win. This bean is something to do with making an effort, toughing it out, following the rules. Resilience, grit—we peddle all sorts of qualities demanded when the world is harsh. And I think this is why we monitor attendance as a kind of minor virtue, a practice of grit. But when we make showing up compulsory, then we have to have a system of checking it, and penalties, and some means of managing something we call “genuine” adversity, and the whole thing has to be insulated against complaint. (And if you want to know more about how this goes down, this forum is an eye-opener.)

Where I am we have a fixed tolerance for not showing up 20% of the time, which has the rat farming perverse incentive effect of causing every sensible student to calculate that they have two free tutorials they can plan to miss. And I’ve written this all over the place, so just bear with me while I haul out my soapbox one more time: we then ask students to get a GP certificate for every single additional missed class over the two free passes, which means that we are clogging up the waiting rooms and schedules of our overworked public health bulk billed GP clinics in order to sustain a rigid and penalty-driven policy that doesn’t prepare students for their professional futures, while they’re sneezing all over the really sick people around them.

(University business data divisions currently measuring every passing cloud over the campus, why not measure this? How many GP certificates for trivial illness have your attendance policies generated? How much public health time have you wasted pursuing this?)

Just quietly, I take a different approach. We talk about modelling attendance on the professional experience of attending meetings, including client meetings. If you can’t be there, you let people know in advance. If you can’t be there a lot, this will impact on your client’s confidence in you, or your manager’s sense that you are doing a good job. It may come up in performance management. Your co-workers may start to feel that you’re not showing up for them. Opportunities may dry up a bit, if people think of you as someone who won’t make a reliable contribution.

And at work there won’t always be a form, but you will need a form of words. You need to know how to talk about what you’re facing with the relevant people comfortably and in a timely way, ideally not after the fact of the missed project deliverable. If hidden challenges are affecting your participation now, you can expect some of these to show up again when you’re working. University should be the safe space to develop confidence in talking about the situation you’re in, and what helps you manage it most effectively. You need a robust understanding of your rights in law. And, sadly, you also need to understand that sometimes the human response you get will be uninformed, ungenerous or unaware of your rights, and you’ll need either to stand your ground or call for back up.

To me, this is all that’s useful about expecting attendance. It’s an opportunity for us to talk with students about showing up as a choice that may be negotiable if you know how to ask; about presence and absence as ethical practices; and about the hardest conversations about times when you just can’t, and at that point need to accept the kindness that’s shown to you, just as you would show it to others."



"To sustain compassionate workplaces, we’re going to need to do more than dashboard our moods in these simplistic ways and hurry on. We’re going to need to “sit with the rough edges of our journey”, as Kevin Gannon puts it, to understand how we each got here differently, in different states of mind, and to hold each other up with care.

This will take time."
katebowles  via:audreywatters  2017  education  absences  attendance  kindness  grit  seanmichaelmorris  lizmorrish  kevingannon  fault  compulsory  rules  incentives  unintendedconsequences  flexibility  listening  resilience  adversity  compliance  virtue  tolerance  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  us  conversation  compassion  work 
may 2017 by robertogreco
CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts: David Hammons
"Spirits aren’t something you see or even understand. That’s just not how they work. They are too abstract, too invisible, and move too quickly. They don’t live anywhere, but only run by and pass through, and no matter how old they are, they are always light years ahead. They do what they want, whenever they want. And under specific circumstances, at specific times, in specific places, to specific people, for specific reasons, they make their presence known.

In the Congo Basin in Central Africa, they are called minkisi. They are the hiding place for people’s souls.

David Hammons is a spirit catcher. He walks the streets the way an improviser searches for notes, looking for those places and objects where dormant spirits go to hide, and empowers them again. He knows about the streetlamps and the mailboxes where the winos hide their bottles in shame. Hammons calls it tragic magic—the art of converting pain into poetry.

[David Hammons. "Spade With Chains," 1973.]

Much has been said about the materials Hammons uses in his work. Most are taken from the street and cost very little—greasy paper bags, shovels, ice, cigarettes, rubber tubes, hair, rocks, basketballs, fried food, bikes, torn plastic tarps, Kool-Aid. Some of them are (knowingly) borrowed from the vocabulary of other artists, while others are closely tied to his own life and chosen surroundings in Harlem. Much has also been said about the meaning of his work—its arguments, its politics, what it’s “about.” And while much of what has been said has been useful, it has also been partly beside the point.

Materials are something one can see, and arguments are something one can understand, and that’s just not what Hammons is after. He’s interested in how much those wine bottles still somehow contain the lips that once drank from them. He’s after the pun on spirit—as in the drink, but also as in the presence of something far more abstract.
Black hair is the oldest hair in the world. You’ve got tons of people’s spirits in your hands when you work with that stuff.

[David Hammons. "Wine Leading the Wine," 1969. Courtesy of Hudgins Family Collection, New York. Photo: Tim Nighswander/IMAGING4ART.]

If Hammons is suspicious of all that is visible, it might be because the visible, in America, is all that is white. It’s all those Oscar winners, all those museum trustees, and all those faces on all those dollar bills. Some artists work to denounce, reveal, or illustrate racial injustice, and to make visible those who are not. Hammons, on the other hand, prefers invisibility—or placing the visible out of reach. He doesn’t have a lesson to teach or a point to prove, and his act of protest is simply to abstract, because that’s what will make the visible harder to recognize and the intelligible harder to understand.

If Duchamp was uninterested in what the eye can see, Hammons is oppressed by it—it’s not the same thing.

[David Hammons. "In the Hood," 1993. Courtesy of Tilton Gallery, New York.]
I’m trying to make abstract art out of my experience, just like Thelonius Monk.

For Hammons, musicians have always been both the model and the front line. When George Lewis says that “the truth of improvisation involves survival,” it’s because improv musicians look for a way forward, one note at a time, with no map to guide them and with no rules or languages to follow other than ones they invent and determine themselves. It forces them to analyze where they are and forces them to do something about it, on their own terms. Doesn’t get much more political than that.

Or, as Miles Davis once put it, “I do not play jazz.” He plays something that invents its own vocabulary—a vocabulary that is shared only by those who don’t need to know what to call it or how to contain it. And just as Miles Davis doesn’t play jazz, David Hammons doesn’t make art.

[David Hammons. "Blue Rooms," 2000 (installation view, The Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowkski Castle, Warsaw).]
I’m trying to create a hieroglyphics that was definitely black.

Hammons goes looking for spirits in music, poetry, and dirt. He knows they like to hide inside of sounds, lodge themselves between words or within puns, and linger around the used-up and the seemingly worthless. He knows he’s caught some when he succeeds in rousing the rubble and gets it to make its presence felt. Like Noah Purifoy, he ignores the new and the expensive in favor of the available. Like Federico Fellini, he spends his time in the bowels of culture and makes them sing.

[David Hammons. "(Untitled) Basketball Drawing," 2006.]

There are the materials that make the art—those are the foot soldiers—but there is also the attitude that makes the artist. Hammons has his way of thinking and his way of behaving, which is once again not something one sees or necessarily understands, but is something that makes its presence known, the way spirits make their presence felt. There will be some who won’t recognize it and others who do—and his work is meant only for those who see themselves in it.
Did you ever see Elvis Presley’s resume? Or John Lennon’s resume? Fuck that resume shit.

Ornette was Ornette because of what he could blow, but also because he never gave into other people’s agendas or expectations.

What matters even more than having your own agenda is letting others know that it doesn’t fit theirs. “To keep my rhythm,” as Hammons puts it, “there’s always a fight, with any structure.” The stakes are real because should you let your guard down, “they got rhythms for you,” and you’ll soon be thinking just like they do. And in a white and racist America, in a white and racist art world, Hammons doesn’t want to be thinking just like most people do. His is a recalcitrant politics of presence: where he doesn’t seem to belong, he appears; where he does belong, he vanishes.

In short: don’t play a game whose management you don’t control.

[David Hammons. "Higher Goals," 1987. Photo: Matt Weber.]
That’s the only way you have to treat people with money—you have to let these people know that your agenda is light years beyond their thinking patterns.

The Whitney Biennial? I don’t like the job description. A major museum retrospective? Get back to me with something I can’t understand.

Exhibitions are too clean and make too much sense—plus the very authority of many mainstream museums is premised on values that Hammons doesn’t consider legitimate or at least does not share. He is far more interested in walking and talking with Jr., a man living on the streets of the East Village, who taught him about how the homeless divide up their use of space according to lines marked by the positioning of bricks on a wall. Those lines have teeth. In a museum, art is stripped of all its menace.

[David Hammons. "Bliz-aard Ball Sale," 1983. Photo: Dawoud Bey.]

The painter Jack Whitten once explained of how music became so central to black American life with this allegory:
When my white slave masters discovered that my drum was a subversive instrument they took it from me…. The only instrument available was my body, so I used my skin: I clapped my hands, slapped my thighs, and stomped my feet in dynamic rhythms.

David Hammons began with his skin. He pressed his skin onto paper to make prints. Over the subsequent five decades, he has found his drum.

[David Hammons. "Phat Free," 1995-99 (video still). Courtesy of Zwirner & Wirth, New York.]"
davidhammons  anthonyhuberman  art  jazz  ornettecoleman  milesdavis  theloniousmonk  material  rules  trickster  outsiders  artworld  resumes  elvispresley  johnlennon  insiders  race  racism  us  power  authority  jackwhitten  music  museums  galleries  menace  homeless  nyc  management  structure  presence  belonging  expectations  artists  fellini  noahpurifoy  availability  culture  hieroglyphics  blackness  georgelewis  improvisation  oppression  marcelduchamp  visibility  invisibility  souls  spirits 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Robert Coles — The Inner Lives of Children - | On Being
"DR. COLES: Which I think is what I’m trying to say here as I speak with you, as I go back to my parents and to my childhood and try to recapture some of that spirit that I knew as a boy.

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

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

MS. TIPPETT: Right.

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

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

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

MS. TIPPETT: Yeah.

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

MS. TIPPETT: Right.

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

MS. TIPPETT: Right.

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

MS. TIPPETT: Right.

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

[Sound bite of music]

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

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

We come out of nowhere, don’t we, in the sense that we’re a total accident. Our parents met. There’s the accident. And, you know, we’re born. Obviously, we come from someplace physiologically. And then comes the emergence of our being, which is the psychological and spiritual emergence of our being that takes time, experience, education of a certain kind with parents and neighbors and teachers and relatives and from one another humanly. And this slow emergence of our psychological being and our spiritual being is itself a great mystery. And mystery, you bet — mystery is a great challenge. It’s an invitation, and it’s a wonderful companion, actually."
robertcoles  kristatippett  children  religion  2009  mystery  curiosity  questioning  neoteny  questionasking  askingquestions  judaism  christianity  catholicism  flanneryo'connor  wonder  parenting  spirituality  inquiry  rules  teaching  teachers  howweteach  interestedness  interested  childhood 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Idle parenting means happy children - Telegraph
"Paradoxically, the idle parent is a responsible parent because at the heart of idle parenting is a respect for the child, a trust in another human being. It is the irresponsible parent who hands the child over to various authorities for its education and care, whether that is childminders, schools, CBeebies or the virtual world of Habbo Hotel. Or it is the parent who tries to impose his own vision on the children and does not simply let them be.




I will confess my many parenting errors. I am a disaster-prone, chaotic layabout and so should warn you not to listen to my advice. Certainly my friends say the idea of me advising other parents on childcare is absurd.

With that caveat in mind, let us go forth, throw away the rule books, forget what other people think and enjoy family life and all its joys and woes.

Manifesto of the idle parent

We reject the idea that parenting requires hard work
We pledge to leave our children alone
That should mean that they leave us alone, too
We reject the rampant consumerism that invades children from the moment they are born
We read them poetry and fantastic stories without morals
We drink alcohol without guilt
We reject the inner Puritan
We fill the house with music and laughter
We don't waste money on family days out and holidays
We lie in bed for as long as possible
We try not to interfere
We push them into the garden and shut the door so that we can clean the house
We both work as little as possible, particularly when the kids are small
Time is more important than money
Happy mess is better than miserable tidiness
Down with school
We fill the house with music and merriment"
idleness  education  parenting  unschooling  deschooling  busyness  2008  tomhodgkinson  leisure  gkchesterton  rules  layabouts  leisurearts  artleisure 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Databite No. 76: Neil Selwyn - live stream - YouTube
"Neil Selwyn presents (Dis)Connected Learning: the messy realities of digital schooling: In this Databite, Neil Selwyn will work through some emerging headline findings from a new three year study of digital technology use in Australian high schools. In particular Neil will highlight the ways in which schools’ actual uses of technology often contradict presumptions of ‘connected learning’, ‘digital education’ and the like. Instead Neil will consider ….

• how and why recent innovations such as maker culture, personalised learning and data-driven education are subsumed within more restrictive institutional ‘logics’;

• the tensions of ‘bring your own device’ and other permissive digital learning practices • how alternative and resistant forms of technology use by students tend to mitigate *against* educational engagement and/or learning gains;

• the ways in which digital technologies enhance (rather than disrupt) existing forms of advantage and privilege amongst groups of students;

• how the distributed nature of technology leadership and innovation throughout schools tends to restrict widespread institutional change and reform;

• the ambiguous role that digital technologies play in teachers’ work and the labor of teaching;

• the often surprising ways that technology seems to take hold throughout schools – echoing broader imperatives of accountability, surveillance and control.

The talk will provide plenty of scope to consider how technology use in schools might be ‘otherwise’, and alternate agendas to be pursued by educators, policymakers, technology developers and other stakeholders in the ed-tech space."

[via: "V interesting talk by Neil Selwyn on ed-tech and (dis)connected learning in school"
https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/718900001271783424 ]

"the grammar of schooling"
neilselwyn  edtech  byod  via:audreywatters  logitics  technology  teaching  learning  howweteacher  power  mobile  phones  ipads  laptops  pedagogy  instruction  resistance  compliance  firewalls  making  makingdo  youth  schools  design  micromanagement  lms  application  sameoldsameold  efficiency  data  privacy  education  howweteach  regimentation  regulation  rules  flexibility  shininess  time  schooliness  assessment  engagement  evidence  resilience  knowledge  schedules  class  leadership  performativity  schooldesign  connectedlearning  surveillance  control  accountability  change  institutions  deschooling  quest2play  relationships  curriculum  monitoring  liberation  dml  liberatorytechnology  society  culture  ethnography  schooling  sorting  discipline 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Random Institute
"Random Institute is a testing ground for new exhibition formats and random ideas"

"Random Institute is an extension of what a contemporary art institution can be, that is to say, truly unbothered by rules and bureaucracy. Ultimately, it brings together Sandino Scheidegger & Luca Müller curatorial and publishing activities.

We are happy to announce that as of March 2016, Random Institute will be running the curatorial program for Despacio in San Jose, Costa Rica.

The best color is transparency. [http://randominstitute.org/transparency/ ]
The best defense is a good offense. [http://randominstitute.org/game/ ]"

[Curating: http://randominstitute.org/art/curating
Publishing: http://randominstitute.org/art/publishing/ ]

[via: https://twitter.com/soulellis/status/719189530813800448 ]
art  bureaucracy  openstudioproject  lcproject  rules  curation  imagination  sandinoscheidegger  lucamüller  exhibitions  distributed  glvo  publishing  sfsh 
april 2016 by robertogreco
What Kids Need From Grown-Ups (But Aren't Getting) : NPR Ed : NPR
"Q: What is this phenomenon that you call "the preschool paradox"?

A: It is the reality that science is confirming on a daily basis: that children are hardwired to learn in many settings and are really very capable, very strong, very intelligent on the one hand. On the other hand, the paradox is that many young children are doing poorly in our early education settings.

We've got a growing problem of preschool expulsions, a growing problem of children being medicated off-label for attention problems. We have a lot of anecdotal evidence that parents are frustrated and feeling overburdened. So that's what interests me: What is going on?

We have very crammed [preschool] schedules with rapid transitions. We have tons of clutter on classroom walls. We have kids moving quickly from one activity to another. We ask them to sit in long and often boring meetings. Logistically and practically, lives are quite taxing for little kids because they're actually living in an adult-sized world.

On the other hand, curriculum is often very boring. A staple of early childhood curriculum is the daily tracking of the calendar. And this is one of those absolute classic mismatches, because one study showed that, after a whole year of this calendar work where kids sit in a circle and talk about what day they're on, half the kids still didn't know what day they were on. It's a mismatch because it's both really hard and frankly very stupid.

We're underestimating kids in terms of their enormous capacity to be thoughtful and reflective, and, I would argue, that's because we're not giving them enough time to play and to be in relationships with others.

Q: Why do you think so many educators and policymakers have come to see play and learning as mutually exclusive?

A: Yeah, it's incredibly weird — this fake dichotomy. The science is so persuasive on this topic. There's all kinds of research coming not only from early childhood but animal research looking at mammals and how they use play for learning.

I think there are two answers. There really has been tremendous anxiety about closing achievement gaps between advantaged and less advantaged children. You know, we're always as a society looking for quick fixes that might close those gaps. Unfortunately, it's had downstream consequences for early learning, where we're going for superficial measures of learning.

I think the other problem is that the rich, experience-based play that we know results in learning — it's not as easy to accomplish as people think. And that's because, while the impulse to play is natural, what I call the play know-how really depends on a culture that values play, that gives kids the time and space to learn through play.

Q: What does playful learning look like?

A: Playful learning is embedded in relationships and in things that are meaningful to children. I use the example of the iconic [handprint] Thanksgiving turkey. When you really get into what's behind those cutesy crafts, a lot of curriculum is organized around these traditions, things around the calendar, things that are done because they've always been done.

When you look at how kids learn, they learn when something is meaningful to them, when they have a chance to learn through relationships — and that, of course, happens through play. But a lot of our curriculum is organized around different principles.

It's organized around the comfort and benefit of adults and also reflexive: "This is cute," or, "We've always done this." A lot of the time, as parents, we are trained to expect products, cute projects. And I like to say that the role of art in preschool or kindergarten curriculum should be to make meaning, not necessarily things. But it's hard to get parents to buy into this idea that their kids may not come home with the refrigerator art because maybe they spent a week messing around in the mud.

Preschool teachers are very interested in fine motor skills, and so often they think that these tracing and cutting activities [are important]. I would argue that those are not the most important skills that we need to foster.

Q: What are the most important skills we need to foster?

A: I think the No. 1 thing is that children need to feel secure in their relationships because, again, we're social animals. And children learn through others. So I think the No. 1 thing is for kids to have a chance to play, to make friends, to learn limits, to learn to take their turn.

Q: You're talking about soft skills, non-cognitive skills ...

A: I actually won't accept the term non-cognitive skills.

Q: Social-emotional skills?

A: I would say social-emotional skills. But, again, there's a kind of simplistic notion that there's social-emotional skills on the one hand ...

Q: And academics on the other ...

A: Right, and I would argue that many so-called academic skills are very anti-intellectual and very uncognitive. Whereas I think a lot of the social-emotional skills are very much linked to learning.

I think the biggest one is the use of language. When kids are speaking to one another and listening to one another, they're learning self-regulation, they're learning vocabulary, they're learning to think out loud. And these are highly cognitive skills. But we've bought into this dichotomy again. I would say "complex skills" versus "superficial" or "one-dimensional skills."

To give you an example, watching kids build a fort is going to activate more cognitive learning domains than doing a worksheet where you're sitting at a table. The worksheet has a little pile of pennies on one side and some numbers on the other, and you have to connect them with your pencil. That's a very uni-dimensional way of teaching skills.

Whereas, if you're building a fort with your peers, you're talking, using higher-level language structures in play than you would be if you're sitting at a table. You're doing math skills, you're doing physics measurement, engineering — but also doing the give-and-take of, "How do I get along? How do I have a conversation? What am I learning from this other person?" And that's very powerful.

Q: What is high-quality preschool to you?

A: The research base is pretty clear. I'll start by telling you what it isn't. We start by looking at two variables. One set are called "structural variables" — things like class size, student-teacher ratios, or even the square-footage of the classroom and what kinds of materials are in the classroom.

And then there are so-called process variables, which are different. They tend to be more about teaching style. Is the teacher a responsive teacher? Does she use a responsive, warm, empathic teaching style? And then the other key process variable is: Does the teacher have knowledge of child development? And is that teacher able to translate that child development knowledge into the curriculum?

Q: Which seems like a hard thing to measure.

A: It's actually not. And there are many good measures — things like: Is the teacher on the floor with the child? Is the teacher asking open-ended questions? You know: "Tell me about your picture" versus "Oh, cute house, Bobby." It's actually not that hard to measure.

But here's the thing. The structural variables are easier to regulate. And, if you have a workforce problem where you're not paying teachers well and a pipeline problem where there aren't good career paths to get into teaching, it's much easier for us to focus on the structural variables when those have an indirect effect only. The direct effect is the process variables.

My colleague Walter Gilliam at Yale has come up with this wonderful mental health classroom climate scale, which really looks at these process variables in very granular detail — so, not only looking at the interactions between the teachers and the children but how the teachers are interacting with each other.

Q: You mount a spirited defense of unscheduled kid time [at home]. Less shuttling to and from sports practice, dance practice, swim lessons. Be sure, you say, to give your child time to sit on the floor and stare at the ceiling if that's what they want to do. I know a lot of parents who would find that view heretical.

A: That's because we don't have faith in young children. And we don't really have faith in ourselves. And we've been programmed to believe that the more enrichments we can add on [the better].

I think boredom can be a friend to the imagination. Sometimes when kids appear to be bored, actually they haven't had enough time to engage in something. We quickly whisk it away and move them along to the next thing. And that's when you say, "How can I help the child to look at this in a new way? To try something new, to be patient."

You've really kind of adultified childhood so kids really don't have those long, uninterrupted stretches of time to engage in fantasy play. And because we've kind of despoiled the habitat of early childhood, a lot of times they don't know what to do when given that time. So we kind of have to coach them.

I think there's a little bit of a repair process that we need to engage in. Because if you've got a kid who's used to going to a million lessons and only uses toys that have one way of using them and then, suddenly, you put them in a room with a bunch of boxes and blocks and say, "Have fun!", the kid's gonna say, "Are you kidding me? What?!""



"Now, I do want to be clear: There are all kinds of ways to respond to being hurt, including filing a police report, reporting to your supervisor or professor or RA in a dorm, talking with your friends, ignoring. To me, I think the social norming piece is really important because I believe we put way too much faith in these administrative guidelines, "suggestions."

Is that really how behavior change happens? I don't know. I think for some things, absolutely, legal recourse makes a difference. But for other things, I think, peer norming is highly effective, and to me, Halloween costumes would be in that category.

We can't … [more]
children  education  play  unstructuredtime  learning  preschool  school  curriculum  howwelearn  rules  structure  lcproject  openstudioproject  conversation  norms  behavior  howweteach  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  listening  coryturner  erikachristakis  relationships  boredom  imagination  parenting  guidelines  process  empathy  policy  transitions  sfsh 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Shirky: A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy
"So, Part One. The best explanation I have found for the ways in which this pattern establishes itself, the group is its own worst enemy, comes from a book by W.R. Bion called "Experiences in Groups," written in the middle of the last century.

Bion was a psychologist who was doing group therapy with groups of neurotics. (Drawing parallels between that and the Internet is left as an exercise for the reader.) The thing that Bion discovered was that the neurotics in his care were, as a group, conspiring to defeat therapy.

There was no overt communication or coordination. But he could see that whenever he would try to do anything that was meant to have an effect, the group would somehow quash it. And he was driving himself crazy, in the colloquial sense of the term, trying to figure out whether or not he should be looking at the situation as: Are these individuals taking action on their own? Or is this a coordinated group?

He could never resolve the question, and so he decided that the unresolvability of the question was the answer. To the question: Do you view groups of people as aggregations of individuals or as a cohesive group, his answer was: "Hopelessly committed to both."

He said that humans are fundamentally individual, and also fundamentally social. Every one of us has a kind of rational decision-making mind where we can assess what's going on and make decisions and act on them. And we are all also able to enter viscerally into emotional bonds with other groups of people that transcend the intellectual aspects of the individual.

In fact, Bion was so convinced that this was the right answer that the image he put on the front cover of his book was a Necker cube, one of those cubes that you can look at and make resolve in one of two ways, but you can never see both views of the cube at the same time. So groups can be analyzed both as collections of individuals and having this kind of emotive group experience.

Now, it's pretty easy to see how groups of people who have formal memberships, groups that have been labeled and named like "I am a member of such-and-such a guild in a massively multi-player online role-playing game," it's easy to see how you would have some kind of group cohesion there. But Bion's thesis is that this effect is much, much deeper, and kicks in much, much sooner than many of us expect. So I want to illustrate this with a story, and to illustrate the illustration, I'll use a story from your life. Because even if I don't know you, I know what I'm about to describe has happened to you.

You are at a party, and you get bored. You say "This isn't doing it for me anymore. I'd rather be someplace else. I'd rather be home asleep. The people I wanted to talk to aren't here." Whatever. The party fails to meet some threshold of interest. And then a really remarkable thing happens: You don't leave. You make a decision "I don't like this." If you were in a bookstore and you said "I'm done," you'd walk out. If you were in a coffee shop and said "This is boring," you'd walk out.

You're sitting at a party, you decide "I don't like this; I don't want to be here." And then you don't leave. That kind of social stickiness is what Bion is talking about.

And then, another really remarkable thing happens. Twenty minutes later, one person stands up and gets their coat, and what happens? Suddenly everyone is getting their coats on, all at the same time. Which means that everyone had decided that the party was not for them, and no one had done anything about it, until finally this triggering event let the air out of the group, and everyone kind of felt okay about leaving.

This effect is so steady it's sometimes called the paradox of groups. It's obvious that there are no groups without members. But what's less obvious is that there are no members without a group. Because what would you be a member of?

So there's this very complicated moment of a group coming together, where enough individuals, for whatever reason, sort of agree that something worthwhile is happening, and the decision they make at that moment is: This is good and must be protected. And at that moment, even if it's subconscious, you start getting group effects. And the effects that we've seen come up over and over and over again in online communities.

Now, Bion decided that what he was watching with the neurotics was the group defending itself against his attempts to make the group do what they said they were supposed to do. The group was convened to get better, this group of people was in therapy to get better. But they were defeating that. And he said, there are some very specific patterns that they're entering into to defeat the ostensible purpose of the group meeting together. And he detailed three patterns.

The first is sex talk, what he called, in his mid-century prose, "A group met for pairing off." And what that means is, the group conceives of its purpose as the hosting of flirtatious or salacious talk or emotions passing between pairs of members.

You go on IRC and you scan the channel list, and you say "Oh, I know what that group is about, because I see the channel label." And you go into the group, you will also almost invariably find that it's about sex talk as well. Not necessarily overt. But that is always in scope in human conversations, according to Bion. That is one basic pattern that groups can always devolve into, away from the sophisticated purpose and towards one of these basic purposes.

The second basic pattern that Bion detailed: The identification and vilification of external enemies. This is a very common pattern. Anyone who was around the Open Source movement in the mid-Nineties could see this all the time. If you cared about Linux on the desktop, there was a big list of jobs to do. But you could always instead get a conversation going about Microsoft and Bill Gates. And people would start bleeding from their ears, they would get so mad.

If you want to make it better, there's a list of things to do. It's Open Source, right? Just fix it. "No, no, Microsoft and Bill Gates grrrrr ...", the froth would start coming out. The external enemy -- nothing causes a group to galvanize like an external enemy.

So even if someone isn't really your enemy, identifying them as an enemy can cause a pleasant sense of group cohesion. And groups often gravitate towards members who are the most paranoid and make them leaders, because those are the people who are best at identifying external enemies.

The third pattern Bion identified: Religious veneration. The nomination and worship of a religious icon or a set of religious tenets. The religious pattern is, essentially, we have nominated something that's beyond critique. You can see this pattern on the Internet any day you like. Go onto a Tolkein newsgroup or discussion forum, and try saying "You know, The Two Towers is a little dull. I mean loooong. We didn't need that much description about the forest, because it's pretty much the same forest all the way."

Try having that discussion. On the door of the group it will say: "This is for discussing the works of Tolkein." Go in and try and have that discussion.

Now, in some places people say "Yes, but it needed to, because it had to convey the sense of lassitude," or whatever. But in most places you'll simply be flamed to high heaven, because you're interfering with the religious text.

So these are human patterns that have shown up on the Internet, not because of the software, but because it's being used by humans. Bion has identified this possibility of groups sandbagging their sophisticated goals with these basic urges. And what he finally came to, in analyzing this tension, is that group structure is necessary. Robert's Rules of Order are necessary. Constitutions are necessary. Norms, rituals, laws, the whole list of ways that we say, out of the universe of possible behaviors, we're going to draw a relatively small circle around the acceptable ones.

He said the group structure is necessary to defend the group from itself. Group structure exists to keep a group on target, on track, on message, on charter, whatever. To keep a group focused on its own sophisticated goals and to keep a group from sliding into these basic patterns. Group structure defends the group from the action of its own members."
clayshirky  2003  groups  communication  culture  norms  groupdynamics  wrbion  rituals  laws  rules  behavior  constitutions  lcproject  openstudioproject  structure  groupstructure  religion  worship  sfsh  ritual 
february 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
Joy: A Subject Schools Lack - The Atlantic
"Building on a child’s ability to feel joy, rather than pushing it aside, wouldn’t be that hard. It would just require a shift in the education world’s mindset. Instead of trying to get children to buckle down, why not focus on getting them to take pleasure in meaningful, productive activity, like making things, working with others, exploring ideas, and solving problems? These focuses are not so different from the things to which they already gravitate and in which they delight.

Before you brush this argument aside as sentimental fluff, or think of joy as an unaffordable luxury in a nation where there is dire poverty, low academic achievement, and high dropout rates, think again. The more dire the school circumstances, the more important pleasure is to achieving any educational success.

Many of the assignments and rules teachers come up with, often because they are pressured by their administrators, treat pleasure and joy as the enemies of competence and responsibility. The assumption is that children shouldn’t chat in the classroom because it disrupts hard work; instead, they should learn to delay gratification so that they can pursue abstract goals, like going to college. They should keep their hands to themselves and tolerate boredom so that they become good at being bored later on.

Not only is this a dreary and awful way to treat children, it makes no sense educationally. Decades of research have shown that in order to acquire skills and real knowledge in school, kids need to want to learn. You can force a child to stay in his or her seat, fill out a worksheet, or practice division. But you can’t force a person to think carefully, enjoy books, digest complex information, or develop a taste for learning. To make that happen, you have to help the child find pleasure in learning—to see school as a source of joy.

Adults tend to talk about learning as if it were medicine: unpleasant, but necessary and good for you. Why not instead think of learning as if it were food—something so valuable to humans that they have evolved to experience it as a pleasure? The more a person likes fresh, healthy food, the more likely that individual is to have a good diet. Why can’t it be the same with learning? Let children learn because they love to—think only of a 2-year-old trying to talk to see how natural humans’ thirst for knowledge is. Then, in school, help children build on their natural joy in learning.

Joy should not be trained out of children or left for after-school programs. The more difficult a child’s life circumstances, the more important it is for that child to find joy in his or her classroom. "Pleasure" is not a dirty word. And it’s not antithetical to the goals of K-12 public education. It is, in fact, the sine qua non."
education  joy  susanengel  2016  howwelearn  schools  poverty  pleasure  responsibility  competence  rules  boredom  learning 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Unspoken Rules | Practical Theory
"I love using this clip as a way to spur people to think about the unspoken rules, policies and procedures that exist in schools.

[embedded video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N16YkjFVAyE ]

The overwhelming majority of schools have a student handbook, codes of conduct, etc… but often, those are only the stated policies, and often, the unstated policies are as much what govern the school as anything else.

And while it’s my contention that we don’t want to create schools where every last behavior / idea / action is regulated by some 400 page handbook of student and teacher behavior, we also want to be aware of — and reflective about — the unspoken rules and practices of our schools. When we are, we create more intentional schools where the ideas and systems that power our communities are transparent and understood.

It’s worth noting, as well, another reason it is so very important to unpack unspoken policies. Schools live in the world – and that world is one where issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism continue to do great harm. One very powerful way to combat the inequities of our world is through intentionality. When we examine the unspoken practices of our schools, we can unpack the questions, “Who is benefiting from this behavior? Who is harmed by it? And how can we ensure that the practices of our school are equitable?”

And, for me, this practice starts with adult behaviors and practices. It’s why I care so deeply about the relationship between a school’s mission and vision and the systems and structures that enable that mission. When mission and vision are shared and deeply understood and believed by everyone, and when the systems and structures that govern the school are aligned with that mission, then the practices – both those in the handbook and those that are not – can align and be understood by all.

There are ways to unpack the invisible or unspoken policies. Some questions a faculty can ask itself to spur the process:

• How are “everyday” decisions made at the school?
• Who is tapped to get work done when it falls outside the scope of an established job description?
• What voices are around the table when an issue arises?
• What is our first reaction to student behavioral issues?
• How are parents involved in the decisions of our school?
• Do we examine the mission of the school when we make big decisions? Small decisions?

And, inside the individual classroom, teachers can do this work as well with questions such as this (and these can be asked school-wide as well):

• How is the mission of the school made manifest in my class?
• Who does my grading policy benefit?
• How do students figure out how to succeed in my class?
• Why are the seats arranged in my classroom the way they are?
• Where is there space for students to influence the governance of my classroom?
• How does every student find space for their voice in my classroom?

And so on… I’m sure everyone can think of more questions to add to the list.

The purpose is that every school can be intentional in their process. We can unpack the unspoken (and spoken) rules such that we can create schools that more purposeful and more equitable in the ways in which they function."
chrislehmann  2016  schools  lcproject  vision  purpose  education  teaching  howweteach  rules  codeofconduct  studenthandbooks  behavior  power  community  communities  decisionmaking  voice  mission  grading  policy  grades  seating  governance  classrooms 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Popular lecturer at Berkeley will lose job despite strong record of promoting student success | Inside Higher Ed
"Students at the University of California at Berkeley like Alexander Coward. A lot.

“He is not just one of the best math teachers, but one of the best teachers that Berkeley has ever had the fortune of having,” proclaims the Protest to Keep Coward at Cal Facebook page.

Coward, a full-time lecturer four years away from a more permanent "continuing status" (but very much off the tenure track), revealed recently in a public blog post on his website that the Berkeley mathematics department would not renew his contract to teach multiple sections of introductory calculus courses. Students immediately flocked to his support on social media. Some used the hashtag #IStandWithCoward, and nearly 3,000 signed up to attend the protest on Oct. 20 -- the day the university will formally review the nonrenewal decision.

Coward, who earned a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Oxford, used his blog post to detail years of combative interactions with faculty and administration in his department. He linked to pages of email chains and hundreds of student evaluations that collectively seem to paint the picture of a lecturer who is very good at his job, but not so good at doing it within the confines of departmental norms or expectations. Specifically, Coward opted to forgo standard measures of student progress such as graded homework and quizzes in favor of what he sees as a more natural approach.

"We all know hard work is important, but there's a question about how to motivate students to work hard," he said in an interview. Tangible rewards like better grades for better work are one option, Coward said, but piles of research -- some of which he references in an open letter he sent the department chair in December 2014 -- point to a more effective system: intrinsic motivation. Encouraging the "motivation that's bubbling up inside ourselves because we're curious and like to learn and like to improve is much more powerful than saying, 'I'm going to do this because it's 0.7777 of my GPA.'"

In his classes, Coward says, he works to foster a feeling of autonomy, competency and personal affinity rather than rely on humdrum grades to spark motivation in students. In his class sessions, he asks repeatedly if everyone understands concepts. He repeats explanations several times, which he says is important for teaching math. And students say he always has time for them.

Actual course grades are based on final exams, which he does give, so his students do receive formal, traditional assessment at the end of the course.

That strategy spurred sweeping approval in the student evaluations he posted, many of which point to his enthusiasm, accessibility and outgoing demeanor in class. "He genuinely cares about his students," one student wrote. "And his love for learning and teaching really shines through his work."

Coward noted, and documentation he posted including an internal “Report on A. Coward” appears to confirm, that his students performed at or above average in subsequent mathematics courses -- a key piece of evidence that his teaching works. But even though students love him and go on to succeed in other courses, the department still found his approach to be problematic.

Arthur Argus, former chair of the math department, wrote a 2013 email, Coward says, “I do think it [sic] that it is very important that you not deviate too far from the department norms.” The sentiment came up again in emails and memos in the following years.

“This raises the question,” Coward writes in his blog, “What does it mean to adhere to department norms if one has the highest student evaluation scores in the department, students performing statistically significantly better in subsequent courses and faculty observations universally reporting ‘extraordinary skills at lecturing, presentation and engaging students’?”

“In a nutshell: stop making us look bad. If you don't, we'll fire you,” says Coward.

“We cannot address individual personnel matters, as they are confidential,” university spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said in a statement emailed to Inside Higher Ed. “However, many lecturers have appointments that may be for a single term or up to two years. They often fill in for regular faculty who are on leave, provide additional teaching to cover surges in enrollment and teach large undergraduate classes. Lecturers do not receive a commitment to ongoing employment until after they have taught for six years and have undergone a rigorous academic review of their teaching.”

Emails Coward received and subsequently posted include similar statements, but taken with the evaluations and other data Coward put online, they portray a man beloved by students.

A letter from a teaching evaluation coordinator about Coward’s student evaluations says, “Both of Dr. Coward's Math 1A scores were markedly higher than those of any of the regular faculty who taught Math 1A during the six-year period ending in spring 2013.” He averaged 6.4 and 6.5 on a seven-point scale, and both sections attracted nearly four times as many students as another section of the same course taught by another faculty member. In fact, the letter goes on to say, “Dr. Coward's scores are higher than any of the scores earned by regular faculty for at least the last 18 years."

More than 500 actual student evaluations follow the letter. Most of them are entirely positive.

“Professor Coward is by far the best professor I have ever had at Cal so far,” writes one student. “He has an extremely positive attitude when it comes to math, which makes the course really enjoyable.” Asked about his or her instructor’s weaknesses, that student wrote, “no weaknesses; his teaching is perfection.”

Some students do mention the same critiques the department raised, though -- that they wished he assigned more homework or kept a clearer schedule and record of progress.

Coward also alleges that administrators suppressed his glowing reviews and watered down statistical evidence that his students go on to perform better in other classes. In an open letter he sent to the department, Coward also revealed he had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital for suicidal depression, saying, "The entire faculty in the mathematics department should introspect on this fact. Bullying is something that affects adults as well as children, and where it occurs it should be addressed very seriously."

He added, “I absolutely love teaching the students at Berkeley, but I cannot in good conscience follow the instructions you have given me. I am unwilling to go to work and feel ashamed of what I am doing any more.”"
2015  teaching  learning  howweteach  alexandercoward  autonomy  assessment  rules  norms  ucberkeley  bullying  academia  highered  highereducation  pedagogy  homework  testing  motivation  math  mathematics  competency 
october 2015 by robertogreco
on microaggressions and administrative power - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"Let’s try to put a few things together that need to be put together.

First, read this post by Jonathan Haidt excerpting and summarizing this article on the culture of campus microaggressions. A key passage:
Campbell and Manning describe how this culture of dignity is now giving way to a new culture of victimhood in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized. It is the very presence of such administrative bodies, within a culture that is highly egalitarian and diverse (i.e., many college campuses) that gives rise to intense efforts to identify oneself as a fragile and aggrieved victim. This is why we have seen the recent explosion of concerns about microaggressions, combined with demands for trigger warnings and safe spaces, that Greg Lukianoff and I wrote about in The Coddling of the American Mind.

Now, take a look at this post by Conor Friedersdorf illustrating how this kind of thing works in practice. Note especially the account of an Oberlin student accused of microaggression and the way the conflict escalates.

And finally, to give you the proper socio-political context for all this, please read Freddie deBoer’s outstanding essay in the New York Times Magazine. Here’s an absolutely vital passage:
Current conditions result in neither the muscular and effective student activism favored by the defenders of current campus politics nor the emboldened, challenging professors that critics prefer. Instead, both sides seem to be gradually marginalized in favor of the growing managerial class that dominates so many campuses. Yes, students get to dictate increasingly elaborate and punitive speech codes that some of them prefer. But what could be more corporate or bureaucratic than the increasingly tight control on language and culture in the workplace? Those efforts both divert attention from the material politics that the administration often strenuously opposes (like divestment campaigns) and contribute to a deepening cultural disrespect for student activism. Professors, meanwhile, cling for dear life, trying merely to preserve whatever tenure track they can, prevented by academic culture, a lack of coordination and interdepartmental resentments from rallying together as labor activists. That the contemporary campus quiets the voices of both students and teachers — the two indispensable actors in the educational exchange — speaks to the funhouse-mirror quality of today’s academy.

I wish that committed student activists would recognize that the administrators who run their universities, no matter how convenient a recipient of their appeals, are not their friends. I want these bright, passionate students to remember that the best legacy of student activism lies in shaking up administrators, not in making appeals to them. At its worst, this tendency results in something like collusion between activists and administrators.

This is brilliantly incisive stuff by Freddie, and anyone who cares about the state of American higher education needs to reflect on it. When students demand the intervention of administrative authority to solve every little conflict, they end up simply reinforcing a power structure in which students and faculty alike are stripped of moral agency, in which all of us in the university — including the administrators themselves, since they’re typically reading responses from an instruction manual prepared in close consultation with university lawyers — are instruments in the hands of a self-perpetuating bureaucratic regime. Few social structures could be more alien to the character of true education.

Friedersdorf’s post encourages us to consider whether these habits of mind are characteristic of society as a whole. That seems indubitable to me. When people in the workplace routinely make complaints to HR officers instead of dealing directly with their colleagues, or calling the police when they see kids out on their own rather than talking to the parents, they’re employing the same strategy of enlisting Authority to fight their battles for them — and thereby consolidating the power of those who are currently in charge. Not exactly a strategy for changing the world. Nor for creating a minimally responsible citizenry.

In a fascinating article called “The Japanese Preschool’s Pedagogy of Peripheral Participation,”, Akiko Hayashi and Joseph Tobin describe a twofold strategy commonly deployed in Japan to deal with preschoolers’ conflicts: machi no hoiku and mimamoru. The former means “caring by waiting”; the second means “standing guard.” When children come into conflict, the teacher makes sure the students know that she is present, that she is watching — she may even add, kamisama datte miterun, daiyo (the gods too are watching) — but she does not intervene unless absolutely necessary. Even if the children start to fight she may not intervene; that will depend on whether a child is genuinely attempting to hurt another or the two are halfheartedly “play-fighting.”

The idea is to give children every possible opportunity to resolve their own conflicts — even past the point at which it might, to an American observer, seem that a conflict is irresolvable. This requires patient waiting; and of course one can wait too long — just as one can intervene too quickly. The mimamoru strategy is meant to reassure children that their authorities will not allow anything really bad to happen to them, though perhaps some unpleasant moments may arise. But those unpleasant moments must be tolerated, else how will the children learn to respond constructively and effectively to conflict — conflict which is, after all, inevitable in any social environment? And if children don't begin to learn such responses in preschool when will they learn it? Imagine if at university, or even in the workplace, they had developed no such abilities and were constantly dependent on authorities to ease every instance of social friction. What a mess that would be."
academia  preschool  conflictresolution  japan  alanjacobs  freddiedeboer  akikohayashi  josephtobin  machinohoiku  mimamoru  disagreement  rules  freespeech  culture  discomfort  collegiality  jonathanhaidt  power  authority  children  activism  management  administration  schools  society 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Dear Pedants: Your Fave Grammar Rule is Probably Fake | JSTOR Daily
"What’s going on here? How is it that so many people, innocently speaking their own native tongue from birth, are accused of using it incorrectly? Is this really an epidemic of biblical hyperbole, signifying the death of the English language in these sadly degenerate modern times? Are we all going to start txt-speaking 2 each other in the last throes of its life?🙀

On closer inspection, it seems the English language has been dying in fits and starts for hundreds of years, simply through its own evolution. Linguists would agree that there is a socially accepted standard dialect that rules much of the mainstream, literate world of the Anglosphere."
grammar  rules  pedants  classideas  language  english  judgement  2015 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Why We Don't Italicize Spanish - YouTube
[See also: http://killingdenouement.tumblr.com/post/91126268644/i-dont-explain-cultural-things-with-italics-or

""I don’t explain cultural things, with italics or with exclamation or with side bars or asides. I was aggressive about that because I had so many negative models, so many Latinos and black writers who are writing to white audiences, who are not writing to their own people. If you are not writing to your own people, I’m disturbed because of what that says to your relationship to the community you are in one way or another indebted to. You are only there to loot them of ideas, and words, and images so that you can coon them to the dominant group. That disturbs me tremendously." —Junot Díaz, with Diógenes Céspedes and Silvio Torres-Saillant (1996)

this is why we stopped using italics-to-connote-foreignness at THE STATE. junot diaz is why we do a lot of things."

and

http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/the-borderlands-of-language-using-italics-for-foreign-words-part-i/

"Junot Díaz once told me that he writes for his six best friends and the rest of the world. This was a few summers ago in a VONA fiction workshop in San Francisco. We had been discussing the meaty issue of how much to explain in our short stories and novels. For example, would the reader understand the meaning of chiltepe without having to look it up? How much did I gain from including details that may feel welcoming to some, alienating to others? I wondered if I should italicize certain words, and by that I meant words in Spanish.

Junot answered my questions with a question: “Who is your audience?”

My audience? Other than the folks sitting around that rectangular table, I didn’t have an audience. This was the first short story I had ever written, save for three failed attempts at stories that were really scenes in an undergraduate fiction course. It was 2006. All of us seated at the table were writers of color. All of us had confronted the barbed wire fence in our writing—italics. When was it appropriate to use them? By using italics were we signaling to readers—foreign word alert, foreign word alert? Were we pushing some readers out? Which readers? Or, was the use of italics actually helpful to all readers?

For Junot, if his six best friends understood what asqueroso meant, then there was no need to italicize the word. As for the rest of the world? Well, the rest of the world could get the word’s meaning from context, or they could look it up. He knew what he was doing. After all, if a writer from the majority culture uses specific terminology from polo or tennis, the reader is expected to look it up. He wanted to flip this and change the identity of the privileged reader. So he would never explain what a platano was, much less a morena. You’ll notice I did italicize these words in Spanish. More on that later."]
danieljoséolder  language  spanish  español  bilingualism  spanglish  formatting  italics  writing  communication  grammar  rules  junotdíaz  jenniferdeleon 
april 2015 by robertogreco
SOLARPUNKS — Eight principles for avoiding the tragedy of the commons
"Elinor Ostrom (1933-2012) won the Nobel Prize for economics in 2009 for her work on how communities manage common-pool resources (CPRs). In her analysis, she identified shared traits among those groups who were able to organize and govern their behavior.

• Group boundaries are clearly defined (effective exclusion of external un-entitled parties).

• Rules governing the use of collective goods are well matched to local needs and conditions.

• Most individuals affected by these rules can participate in modifying the rules.

• The rights of community members to devise their own rules is respected by external authorities.

• A system for monitoring members’ behavior exists; the community members themselves undertake this monitoring.

• A graduated system of sanctions is used for resource appropriators who violate community rules.

• Community members have access to low-cost conflict resolution mechanisms.

• For CPRs that are parts of larger systems: appropriation, provision, monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution, and governance activities are organized in multiple layers of nested enterprises.

Read more at cooperation commons. [http://www.cooperationcommons.com/node/361 ] Wikipedia notes that “These principles have since been slightly modified and expanded to include a number of additional variables believed to affect the success of self-organized governance systems [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-organization#Self-organization_in_human_society ], including effective communication, internal trust [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trust_(social_sciences) ] and reciprocity [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reciprocity_(cultural_anthropology) ], and the nature of the resource system as a whole.”
elinorostrom  commons  rules  structure  governance  reciprocity  communication  boundaries  behavior  economics  systems  sanctions  community  resolution  common-poolresources  resourcemanagement  sustainability  self-orgnization  cooperation  trust 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Carolyn VanEseltine - This is a Real Thing that Happened
"A work of interactive fiction.

This is a Real Thing that Happened was created with Inform and has IFID 018D8F92-81E4-476A-B184-C14D9C821F45. To play a work like this one, you need an interpreter program: many are available, among them Zoom for Mac OS X and for Unix; Windows Frotz or Windows Glulxe for Windows. Or you can play without downloading anything by following the 'Play In-Browser' link, using the Quixe interpreter. You'll need to have Javascript enabled on your web browser."

[Play in browser: http://www.sibylmoon.com/if/realthing/release/play.html ]
interactivefiction  via:robinsloan  if  carolynvaneseltine  inform7  inform  srg  games  gaming  winning  losing  play  dwarffortress  rules  2014 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Common-place: Common Reading: Undisciplined Reading: Finding surprise in how we read, Matthew P. Brown
"I read and teach novels regularly. But is the linear novel the only way one gets lost in a book? Consider those reference works that captivate you: a cookbook, a sports trivia volume, or a recordings guide. You open these books and escape into the pleasure of the cross-reference, the serendipitous, the transport to the known and the unknown. When I open David Thomson's New Biographical Dictionary of Film, forty minutes later the hard-boiled eggs are hard and boiling over, the cats are draped over the sleeping three-year-old, the dishes are still in the sink. Other than in Thomson's massaging, prickly prose, I know not where I am. The faint motion sickness I feel is from the cascade of ideas, memories, and anticipations, so different from the psychological and physiological response to channel- or Web-surfing, comparable fragmented modes of consumption. But reference-book reading of this sort assumes connoisseurship—that fancy word for heavy-panting, lighter-waving fandom—a habit of mind profoundly disciplinary.

I should feel shame about my disorderly reading, but I don't. In fact, I'd like to defend it as a reading practice of depth, rather than superficiality. Disorderly reading mimics the mind's generative activity of thought and discovery, those instances where you know something is happening but you don't know what it is. We might better call it discontinuous or nonlinear reading and acknowledge its long history, a history that reveals the fact that nonlinear reading lends itself to routinized procedure as well.

Reading seems ineluctably bound up in discipline, in customary behavior that precedes and structures the significance of the reading. But how then does reading become a means to the new, the unknown, the undiscovered? If even messy reading falls into predictable patterns and outcomes, how might what we read, or rather how we read, surprise us?

My contention is that one might use discipline to escape discipline, that freeing the mind is achieved by entering into restrictive procedures that liberate thinking. Let's begin by assessing that literary form most associated with the unknown, the undiscovered, or the novel—that is, the novel. Then we'll turn to early modern disciplines, finding analogies in them for contemporary reading scenes. Our guide here will be that Other to the twenty-first-century secular intellectual: the seventeenth-century English devout, those bigoted regicides and colonial Malvolios known—not without controversy, now and then, now perhaps more than then—as "Puritans.""



"Another reading discipline of surprise derived from Puritan mores is the conventicle. Conventicles were extramural religious meetings of select congregants within a church, most famously practiced in early America by Anne Hutchinson during the Antinomian controversy. (A quiescent version of conventicling from contemporary church history is the cellular model of Rick Warren's organization, the Saddleback megachurch.) Rooted in the idea that reading matter rather than institutional authority could be a source of spiritual sustenance, conventiclers absorbed scripture, repeated sermons, and sang psalms. Conventicling operated along a spectrum from conservative to separatist. And, like puritan, conventicle was a rhetorically charged word that could mean devout private gathering or conspiratorial unlawful assembly, depending upon who did the labeling.

Pious or riotous, conventicling illuminates a classroom dynamic familiar to current undergraduate literature professors. My rough sense is that in research universities and non-elite colleges, a majority of the students in each course are cats we herd unsuccessfully, while a largish minority learn something in a rote way. The remnant is the conventicle, actual or virtual students who meet with their minds in class discussion, with each other outside of class, and with the professor after sessions. When I read Susannah Rowson or Herman Melville or Toni Morrison or Richard Powers for class preparation, I have the majority in mind, as I gather the three points I want to get across in the fifty minutes. Reaching and teaching this majority is one of the real pleasures of my professorial life. But, in the reading prep, I have the conventicle in mind, for that is where the surprise happens."
via:asfaltics  reading  howweread  matthewpbrown  2007  books  chaos  messiness  linearity  novels  behavior  orderliness  rules  academics  academia  pedagogy  nonliner  structure  structures  puritans  conventicles  oulipo  authorlessness  linear 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Melville House | "We no longer like to think about bureaucracy, yet...
"We no longer like to think about bureaucracy, yet it informs every aspect of our existence. It’s as if, as a planetary civilization, we have decided to clap our hands over our ears and start humming whenever the topic comes up. Insofar as we are even willing to discuss it, it’s still in the terms popular in the sixties and early seventies. The social movements of the sixties were, on the whole, left-wing in inspiration, but they were also rebellions against bureaucracy, or, to put it more accurately, rebellions against the bureaucratic mindset, against the soul-destroying conformity of the postwar welfare states. In the face of the gray functionaries of both state-capitalist and state-socialist regimes, sixties rebels stood for individual expression and spontaneous conviviality, and against (“rules and regulations, who needs them?”) every form of social control.

With the collapse of the old welfare states, all this has come to seem decidedly quaint. As the language of antibureaucratic individualism has been adopted, with increasing ferocity, by the Right, which insists on “market solutions” to every social problem, the mainstream Left has increasingly reduced itself to fighting a kind of pathetic rearguard action, trying to salvage remnants of the old welfare state: it has acquiesced with—often even spearheaded—attempts to make government efforts more “efficient” through the partial privatization of services and the incorporation of ever-more “market principles,” “market incentives,” and market-based “accountability processes” into the structure of the bureaucracy itself.

The result is a political catastrophe. There’s really no other way to put it. What is presented as the “moderate” Left solution to any social problems—and radical left solutions are, almost everywhere now, ruled out tout court—has invariably come to be some nightmare fusion of the worst elements of bureaucracy and the worst elements of capitalism. It’s as if someone had consciously tried to create the least appealing possible political position. It is a testimony to the genuine lingering power of leftist ideals that anyone would even consider voting for a party that promoted this sort of thing—because surely, if they do, it’s not because they actually think these are good policies, but because these are the only policies anyone who identifies themselves as left-of-center is allowed to set forth.

Is there any wonder, then, that every time there is a social crisis, it is the Right, rather than the Left, which becomes the venue for the expression of popular anger?

The Right, at least, has a critique of bureaucracy. It’s not a very good one. But at least it exists. The Left has none. As a result, when those who identify with the Left do have anything negative to say about bureaucracy, they are usually forced toadopt a watered-down version of the right-wing critique.”
davidgraeber  2015  bureaucracy  left  right  politics  capitalism  freemarket  policy  government  conviviality  rules  regulations  redtape  complexity  accountability  marketsolutions  individualism  liberalism 
january 2015 by robertogreco
A Meditation on the Art of Not Trying - NYTimes.com
"Just be yourself.

The advice is as maddening as it is inescapable. It’s the default prescription for any tense situation: a blind date, a speech, a job interview, the first dinner with the potential in-laws. Relax. Act natural. Just be yourself.

But when you’re nervous, how can you be yourself? How you can force yourself to relax? How can you try not to try?

It makes no sense, but the paradox is essential to civilization, according to Edward Slingerland. He has developed, quite deliberately, a theory of spontaneity based on millenniums of Asian philosophy and decades of research by psychologists and neuroscientists.

He calls it the paradox of wu wei, the Chinese term for “effortless action.” Pronounced “ooo-way,” it has similarities to the concept of flow, that state of effortless performance sought by athletes, but it applies to a lot more than sports. Wu wei is integral to romance, religion, politics and commerce. It’s why some leaders have charisma and why business executives insist on a drunken dinner before sealing a deal.

Dr. Slingerland, a professor of Asian studies at the University of British Columbia, argues that the quest for wu wei has been going on ever since humans began living in groups larger than hunter-gathering clans. Unable to rely on the bonds of kinship, the first urban settlements survived by developing shared values, typically through religion, that enabled people to trust one another’s virtue and to cooperate for the common good.

But there was always the danger that someone was faking it and would make a perfectly rational decision to put his own interest first if he had a chance to shirk his duty. To be trusted, it wasn’t enough just to be a sensible, law-abiding citizen, and it wasn’t even enough to dutifully strive to be virtuous. You had to demonstrate that your virtue was so intrinsic that it came to you effortlessly.

Hence the preoccupation with wu wei, whose ancient significance has become clearer to scholars since the discovery in 1993 of bamboo strips in a tomb in the village of Guodian in central China. The texts on the bamboo, composed more than three centuries before Christ, emphasize that following rules and fulfilling obligations are not enough to maintain social order.

These texts tell aspiring politicians that they must have an instinctive sense of their duties to their superiors: “If you try to be filial, this not true filiality; if you try to be obedient, this is not true obedience. You cannot try, but you also cannot not try.”

That paradox has kept philosophers and theologians busy ever since, as Dr. Slingerland deftly explains in his new book, “Trying Not to Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity.” One school has favored the Confucian approach to effortless grace, which actually requires a great deal of initial effort.

Through willpower and the rigorous adherence to rules, traditions and rituals, the Confucian “gentleman” was supposed to learn proper behavior so thoroughly that it would eventually become second nature to him. He would behave virtuously and gracefully without any conscious effort, like an orator who knows his speech so well that it seems extemporaneous.

But is that authentic wu wei? Not according to the rival school of Taoists that arose around the same time as Confucianism, in the fifth century B.C. It was guided by the Tao Te Ching, “The Classic of the Way and Virtue,” which took a direct shot at Confucius: “The worst kind of Virtue never stops striving for Virtue, and so never achieves Virtue.”

Taoists did not strive. Instead of following the rigid training and rituals required by Confucius, they sought to liberate the natural virtue within. They went with the flow. They disdained traditional music in favor of a funkier new style with a beat. They emphasized personal meditation instead of formal scholarship.

Rejecting materialistic ambitions and the technology of their age, they fled to the countryside and practiced a primitive form of agriculture, pulling the plow themselves instead of using oxen. Dr. Slingerland calls them “the original hippies, dropping out, turning on, and stickin’ it to the Man more than 2,000 years before the invention of tie-dye and the Grateful Dead.”

Variations of this debate would take place among Zen Buddhist, Hindu and Christian philosophers, and continue today among psychologists and neuroscientists arguing how much of morality and behavior is guided by rational choices or by unconscious feelings.

“Psychological science suggests that the ancient Chinese philosophers were genuinely on to something,” says Jonathan Schooler, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “Particularly when one has developed proficiency in an area, it is often better to simply go with the flow. Paralysis through analysis and overthinking are very real pitfalls that the art of wu wei was designed to avoid.”

However wu wei is attained, there’s no debate about the charismatic effect it creates. It conveys an authenticity that makes you attractive, whether you’re addressing a crowd or talking to one person. The way to impress someone on a first date is to not seem too desperate to impress.

Some people, like politicians and salespeople, can get pretty good at faking spontaneity, but we’re constantly looking for ways to expose them. We put presidential candidates through marathon campaigns looking for that one spontaneous moment that reveals their “true” character.

Before signing a big deal, businesspeople often insist on getting to know potential partners at a boozy meal because alcohol makes it difficult to fake feelings. Neuroscientists have achieved the same effect in brain scanners by applying magnetic fields that suppress cognitive-control ability and in this way make it harder for people to tell convincing lies.

“Getting drunk is essentially an act of mental disarmament,” Dr. Slingerland writes. “In the same way that shaking right hands with someone assures them that you’re not holding a weapon, downing a few tequila shots is like checking your prefrontal cortex at the door. ‘See? No cognitive control. You can trust me.’ ”

But if getting drunk is not an option, what’s the best strategy for wu wei — trying or not trying? Dr. Slingerland recommends a combination. Conscious effort is necessary to learn a skill, and the Confucian emphasis on following rituals is in accord with psychological research showing we have a limited amount of willpower. Training yourself to follow rules automatically can be liberating, because it conserves cognitive energy for other tasks.

But trying can become counterproductive, as the Taoists recognized and psychologists have demonstrated in an experiment with a pendulum. When someone holding the pendulum was instructed to keep it from moving, the effort caused it to move even more.

“Our culture is very good at pushing people to work hard or acquire particular technical skills,” Dr. Slingerland says. “But in many domains actual success requires the ability to transcend our training and relax completely into what we are doing, or simply forget ourselves as agents.”

He likes the compromise approach of Mencius, a Chinese philosopher in the fourth century B.C. who combined the Confucian and Taoist approaches: Try, but not too hard. Mencius told a parable about a grain farmer who returned one evening exhausted from his labors.

“I’ve been out in the fields helping the sprouts grow,” he explained, whereupon his worried sons rushed out to see the results. They found a bunch of shriveled sprouts that he’d yanked to death.

The sprouts were Mencius’ conception of wu wei: Something natural that requires gentle cultivation. You plant the seeds and water the sprouts, but at some point you need to let nature take its course. Just let the sprouts be themselves."
wuwei  meditation  self  2014  relaxation  authenticity  paradox  edwardslingerland  spontaneity  taiteching  confucius  confucianism  materialsm  virtue  rules  willpower  tradition  behavior  flow  effort  effortlessness  cooperation  psychology 
december 2014 by robertogreco
I Start the Year with Nothing
"When students make the rules, classroom community soars."

"Middle school is a scary thing for our students—it’s the first time since kindergarten that they’ve been forced into classes with strangers. Every year, as my new students wander in, toss their bags and find a seat, I take stock of the amazing collection of visibly different ways the age 12 can look on a human, and I wonder if I have the tools to bring those kids together.

My colleagues sometimes think, because I’m an artist, that I’ll have colorful bulletin boards in my room, but each year I leave my room bare and unadorned. I start the year with nothing but a giant piece of paper and a marker. And I ask one question: “If you could do anything you wanted in school this year, what would it be?”

This year was the same as usual. The response was silence. I tried again, “Anything? Come on! You’re the boss this year.”

Nothing. I sat on the floor. “Come here, please, and sit where I can see everyone.” Without my help, the students formed a circle, bending their heads around their neighbors, making sure they could see each other, sliding back to make space.

“She can’t see this guy! Move over!” The energy changed.

“Please,” I interjected.

“Huh?”

“Move over, please.”

“Oh, sorry. Move over—please.”

“Thank you,” we both said simultaneously and laughed.

“I don’t feel like writing. Can somebody else do that for me?” I said and tossed the marker to a kid sitting near the back. I took his spot on the floor, forcing him forward with my decision. He took charge right away, flaunting his power. I reminded him to pose the question again, “If you could do anything you wanted in school this year, what would it be?”—and this time the answers poured forth.

“I wanna be the teacher!” Hysterical laughter.

“Write it down,” I directed the new “teacher.” He did, but his spelling wasn’t great and he knew it. He seemed a little scared, and his bravado was fading.

The kids yelled at him, hoping to be recognized: “I want to grade the papers!” “Sit at the teacher’s desk!” “Field trips! Oh yeah, Hershey Park!” “No, I wanna go to the beach!” The new teacher couldn’t keep up with the rest of the kids, “his” students. When he was about to give up, I suggested he get help. A zillion “Ooh, ooh, me! Pick ME!” shouts later, he realized he not only needed a writer but some crowd control, too. I told him, again, to ask for help. He picked two others the class decided to name “bouncers.” At my prompting, the new teacher asked the question again, “Okay, what do you guys want to do this year?”

The bouncers insisted on manners and, amazingly, the class proceeded without me until their paper was filled with ideas: a homey classroom with real furniture, plants, lamps, painted walls, beanbags, FOOD!, a drinking fountain in the classroom, a fridge, students running the class, teaching, grading, deciding what to learn, field trips, parties, FUN! FREEDOM! POWER!

Eventually, the students started to get tired and a little bummed out. Their lists seemed ridiculous and impossible. It was time for me to step back in as facilitator.

“Nice job,” I said, but they were quiet. Then they accused me of lying to them. Their eyes followed me as I stepped to a cabinet and removed a roll of paper. I asked someone to go in my desk and find me some tape, and, suddenly, the energy was on the upswing. They couldn’t believe I had let someone in my desk! I used the tape to hang up a wish list created by one of my classes from the previous year.

“This is the wish list from last year’s class. Everything that’s crossed out, they did.” Next came a barrage of, “They did THAT? REALLY?” I assured them it was true, and then someone asked, “Well, HOW did they do that?”

It was my opening: “What do you think you’d need to do in order to be able to do that?” I asked, and the ideas poured out. I drew a T-chart on the board with the words “want” and “how to get what we want,” and the students dissected the process behind one of the other class’s projects.

I continued the conversation all morning, building the ground rules by which our class would function over the course of the coming year. By the time we finished, my colleagues were well into their second subject, but we’d done something as or more important—we had successfully set the foundation for a democratic classroom.

We had determined the structure and process of future weekly class meetings. We, as a class, decided to insist on making time for these meetings, which would follow a pattern: 10 minutes of gripes/complaints, 20 minutes for planning something from their wish list, and 10 minutes of sharing and compliments.

By the end of the month, my classroom was decorated and beautiful and homey and productive. Eventually, we had a full library (run by students) and a publishing center (run by parents). We made birdhouses in geometry and painted them and sold them for $20 each to fund a whale-watching trip. We groomed and rode horses at a farm. We painted a 40-foot mural in the cafeteria promoting our favorite books, and we made a video for new students and English language learners showing them around the building and introducing them to the faces of the nurse, the principal and the teachers. We invited the members of our ever-changing community to share food and culture and professional expertise with us. We built, painted, constructed and invented. We learned academics, respect, tolerance and the meaning of democracy in action. Our classroom was a place where all things were possible, including bridging differences in race, culture, language and financial resources.

By the end of the year, we could barely remember what it was like to feel like strangers, and we knew that, although we might have started the year with nothing, we’d learned to create everything together."

[See also:http://www.tolerance.org/student-voice

"When invested and empowered, students can be equal partners in creating a productive and meaningful learning environment. This toolkit provides an inventory to allow you to reflect on how student voices and input are integrated into your classroom and school community.

Given the opportunity, students can be equal partners in creating a productive and meaningful learning environment. This classroom and school inventory provides the tools necessary to assess how student voice and input are integrated into the culture and community and includes suggestions for how to improve student empowerment and investment.

Essential Question

1. How does involving student voice, input and agency in the classroom change the learning process for students and teachers?

In the classroom

• Are students involved in decorating the classroom?
• Do you have a process for establishing joint expectations about classroom norms and values?
• Are students allowed to express their expectations of the teacher?
• Is there a process for shared decision-making about consequences when agreed-upon classroom expectations or guidelines are broken?
• Do students lead some of the lessons in your classroom?
• Do you solicit student feedback on your lessons?
• Do you assign student roles and responsibilities in the classroom?
• Do you hold classroom meetings to discuss concerns, news, events and changes?

In our school community:

• Are students involved in decorating the hallways or other common spaces?
• Are there opportunities for students to lead schoolwide meetings or assemblies?
• How are students involved in setting the general guidelines for conduct at the school?
• Do student representatives sit on any adult-led school committees?
• If there is a student government association, how does that group collect concerns, ideas or feedback from their peers?
• If there is a student government association, how do those elected leaders share the concerns of their peers with school leadership? ]
rules  howweteach  tcsnmy  nancybarnoreynolds  2014  studentvoice  empowerment  cv  education  teaching  students  middleschool  classroom  classrooms 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Russell Davies: things that have happened
"A small mental collection I have: Posters Caused By Things That Have Happened.

I first noticed it at one of those storage places, like Big Yellow Storage. There was a poster on the wall warning you of all the things you were not allowed to do in your storage unit. Sleep, run a business, keep goats, grow mushrooms. And I realised that the poster was really a record of all the things that people must once have done, which then needed to be banned. 

The signs at the Grindleford Station Cafe are the same. Every incident causes a sign. 

I mention it because Chris pointed out another on twitter:

[image: "Carrying fish is not allowed on metro" ]"

[via: https://twitter.com/undermanager/status/543047845402914816 ]
rules  accretion  rulecreep  featurecreep  unfeaturecreep  2014 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Balance : Stager-to-Go
"Ah, balance!

Balance is the Fabreze of education policy. It is a chemical spray designed to mask the stench of a two year-old tuna sandwich found in the minvan with the artificial bouquet of an April rain dancing on a lily pad.

• Balanced literacy got us systemic phonics.
• Balanced math begot Singapore Math worksheets.
• Balanced standards produced The Common Core.
• Balanced policy debates produced No Child Left Behind and Race-to-the-Top

A balanced approach to educational technology made computer science extinct in schools and has now taught two generations of children to find the space bar in a computer lab-based keyboarding class.

I could go on.

Balance is elusive. It is fake and lazy and cowardly and sad. Balance is embraced by those who don’t know or can’t/won’t articulate what they truly believe. Balance fills the void left by the absence of alternative models and excellence. It is anonymous.

Educators are told that passion should be tempered. Every pedagogical idea is just fine as long as it is “for the children.” We should just do our jobs and not complain about outrageous attacks on our dignity, paycheck, curriculum, working conditions, or the living conditions of the students we serve.

Balance fills the school day with mandates and directives and lots of interruptions that while offering an illusion of options make it impossible for a learner to focus on anything long enough to become good at it.

Balance teaches children that teachers are helpless pawns in a system they don’t control or cannot understand.
Balance is the absentee parent of incrementalism. As educators take “baby steps” towards what they know is right or righteous they lead a long and meandering hike after which the followers cannot remember the original destination.
“This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” (Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963)


Educators are to remain neutral and seek consensus at all-costs. Balance programs us to find the silver lining in tornados. There MUST be SOMETHING good in what Bill Gates or Sal Khan or any number of a million corporations with ED or MENTUM or ACHIEVE or VATION in their names happen to be peddling.

The laws of the political universe, and education is inherently political, greet each embrace of “balance” as ten steps in a more conservative direction. There is no balance – just weakness.

I urge you to read one of my favorite passages ever written about “balance” in education. It is from a lesser-known classic, On Being a Teacher,”  by the great American educator, Jonathan Kozol. Please take a few minutes to read, “Extreme Ideas. [http://stager.tv/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Kozol-Extreme-Ideas.pdf ]”
garystager  balance  compromise  mediocrity  submission  2014  jonathankozol  resistance  hybridmodel  politics  policy  weakness  dilution  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  curriculum  commoncore  phonics  rttt  nclb  mandates  directives  rules  standardization  helplessness  gradualism  teching  pedagogy  schools  education  khanacademy  socialjustice  leadership  learning 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The school with no rules that teaches the unteachable | Education | The Guardian
"The school’s guiding principles are empathy, respect, being non-judgemental and listening. This is, Lillis points out, a special school – there are only 40 boys, a maximum of eight to a class and in-house psychotherapists, one dedicated to children, the other to staff. Not every school can be like this, but she clearly believes that much of what goes on here could be applied elsewhere.

The building is colourful and inviting. There’s a rescue dog called McFlurry that the boys (and staff) dote on; the dining room has a juke box which seems to play all the time and there’s a flat where the boys can relax at lunchtime and where they have lessons in how to cook, wash and iron.

Elsewhere there’s a salon, where they can get haircuts, manicures and facials. It creates an easy, intimate atmosphere where even the most aggressive boys soften and have their spots squeezed and eyebrows shaped. They also learn about personal hygiene.

The atmosphere is calm and good-humoured, but the staff are constantly on alert, watching for signs of tension and intervening before anything erupts.

During the course of photographs being taken one of the boys pockets the photographer’s phone. “He always gives stuff back,” says Lillis, and he does, holding it way above the photographer’s head so she can’t reach it before finally handing it over. The head’s keys go missing; they quickly turn up. James, so closed and angry in the second episode, is there fresh-faced and laughing with the other boys.

Lillis is anxious about the documentary going out – extra support will be provided for the boys and their families – but she felt it was worth doing to encourage the public to empathise with the boys in her care and the difficulties their families face. “The current government has taken a real punitive stance in education and against families who have difficulties. Some parts of the media have run with that and glorified it.

“I wanted to give a voice to those who have been under attack and also challenge what it is that we are trying to do with education. We’ve lost sight of what education means.”

The world has changed dramatically in the past few decades, she says, “yet we are trying to have an education system that has not progressed and has not moved with society.”

Talking about the perils of idle chatting, she says: “Why are we trying to silence our children? They are locked into screens a lot of time. We need to encourage more oracy at school.”

Reacting to Pisa international league tables and the current obsession around learning from education systems in Singapore and elsewhere, she says: “We need to stop comparing ourselves to global markets and Asia. Where’s the innovation and creativity gone in Britain?

“We need to play again. We need to be creative. We need to get enjoyment again into our schools and our classrooms.”

She also warns against restrictions. “The more we try and suppress our youth, [the more likely it is] we will end with another form of riots and it will be far worse than it was a few years ago.”

Too Tough to Teach? Channel 5 9pm Monday 29 September and 6 October

The Ian Mikardo school rules

1 There are no rules

2 No detentions

3 No punishments

4 No rewards

5 No uniform (for staff or students)

6 No physical restraint

7 Instead, children are encouraged to empathise

8 Listen to each other

9 Be non-judgemental

10 And respect one another"
education  england  uk  alternative  listening  rules  ianmikardo  2014  behavior  patience  teaching  howweteach  disruption  empathy  respect 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Teacher Tom: "You Win!"
"A handful of kids have continued to experiment with using our planks as "diving boards" since coming up with the idea last week. As you may recall we broke one plank in the process. Well, we broke another this week, prompting us to agree that this probably wasn't the best use for our planks, but in the meantime, this happened . . .

D and G were taking turns on the diving board when Y arrived on the scene, picking up a bench and calling out, "Okay guys, who wants to play my game?"

D and G said they would, so he placed the bench, upside down, several feet away in the diving board landing zone. "The game is you have to jump onto this bench."


From where I stood, both literally and figuratively, I could see that this was a manifestly risky proposition. The bench was placed at the farthest point I'd seen any of the kids jump. It would require a supreme effort for anyone to launch themselves that far, making it nearly impossible to stick that particular landing, not to mention the fact that the bench, being upside down, was likely to tip over with the merest touch. It didn't take a catastrophic imagination to know that the first kid to try this was going to wind up landing hard on his or her back.

So here's the classic adult dilemma: could I trust the kids to make a similar assessment of the situation or should I step in with warnings, substituting my thought process for theirs? I've known D for a long time and he was the first one queued up for an attempt. He's physically competent, but no daredevil, and since thinking for ourselves is what school is all about, I decided to keep my mouth shut and give him the chance to think this through on his own.

D lined himself up for the attempt with G behind him, watching, awaiting her turn. He leapt high, but not far enough, landing solidly on the ground in front of the bench, which he slapped with the palm of his hand.

There was a moment of silence before Y, the games master, announced, "You win! You touched the bench. That means you get to go again."

G followed suit, also slapping the bench, also winning a second turn.

On a dime, without a word of disagreement, these three children had altered the game to fit the realities they discovered before them, an unspoken adjustment based upon their on-the-fly calculations about their capabilities, accommodating the realities of their risk assessments, and with a sharp regard for the feelings of one another. There was no debate. There was no attempt to urge anyone to go against their own best judgement. There was no shaming. There were no losers.

D and G took several more turns, each time being told, "You win!"

Then D tried something new. He again stuck his landing directly in front of the bench, but this time without slapping it. He stood for a moment staring at Y, not in a challenging way, but rather as if asking a question about the nature of their game. There was a pause as Y thought about his response, then he announced, "You still won! You could have touched the bench. That means you get to go again."

This is one of the primal driving forces behind free play, that is, play untainted by adult interference: the urge to keep the game going, bending and shaping the rules to suit the players, their judgements and their capabilities. This is what happens when the goal of the game isn't winning or losing, but rather playing the game. When left to their own devices, when left to think for themselves, these are the games children play."
teaching  parenting  play  children  games  learning  rules  fear  danger  safety  2014  tomhobson 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Why Getting It Wrong Is the Future of Design | WIRED
"Degas was engaged in a strategy that has shown up periodically for centuries across every artistic and creative field. Think of it as one step in a cycle: In the early stages, practitioners dedicate themselves to inventing and improving the rules—how to craft the most pleasing chord progression, the perfectly proportioned building, the most precisely rendered amalgamation of rhyme and meter. Over time, those rules become laws, and artists and designers dedicate themselves to excelling within these agreed-upon parameters, creating work of unparalleled refinement and sophistication—the Pantheon, the Sistine Chapel, the Goldberg Variations. But once a certain maturity has been reached, someone comes along who decides to take a different route. Instead of trying to create an ever more polished and perfect artifact, this rebel actively seeks out imperfection—sticking a pole in the middle of his painting, intentionally adding grungy feedback to a guitar solo, deliberately photographing unpleasant subjects. Eventually some of these creative breakthroughs end up becoming the foundation of a new set of aesthetic rules, and the cycle begins again."
design  art  rules  2014  scottdadich  unlearning  graphicdesign  technology  interfacedesign  interface  ux 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The High Cost of No Excuses | EduShyster
"Goodman: These schools start with the belief that there’s no reason for the large academic gaps that exist between poor minority students and more privileged children. They argue that if we just used better methods, demanded more, had higher expectations, enforced these higher expectations through very rigorous and uniform teaching methods and a very uniform and scripted curriculum geared to being successful on high-stakes tests, we can minimize or even eradicate these large gaps, high rates of drop outs and the academic failures of these children. To reach these objectives, these schools have developed very elaborate behavioral regimes that they insist all children follow, starting in kindergarten. Submission, obedience, and self-control are very large values. They want kids to submit. You can’t really do this kind of instruction if you don’t have very submissive children who are capable of high levels of inhibition and do whatever they’re told.

ES: Time seems to be an essential component too—the idea that not a second can be wasted. I’m reminded of this video [http://www-edge.relay.edu/videos/jackson_cc100_640x360.mp4 ] about *speedy transitions* for kindergarteners at a New Jersey charter school

Goodman: In order to maximize academic accomplishment, no time can be wasted and anything that’s not academically targeted, that’s not geared to what the students have to know, is time wasted. So there is almost no opportunity for play, for relaxation, very little time for extra-curricular activities. The day is jammed with academics, especially math and reading because that’s what gets tested. The view of time and strict discipline are related, by the way; in order to get these kids to attend over very long hours—they have extended days and extended weeks—you have to be tough with the kids, really severe. They want these kids to understand that when authority speaks you have to follow because that’s basic to learning. So they don’t have the notion of learning that more progressive educators have, that learning is a very active enterprise and that children have to be very participatory and thinking and speaking and discussing and sharing and having initiative. That’s not their view of learning. It’s too variable across teachers, the objectives are too non-specific, and time is wasted."



"ES: One of the questions you ask is whether there are legitimate limits to the power exercised by schools over children.

Goodman: That’s a big question. What rights do children have that are similar to the rights of adults? Can you search them? Can you control what they say and don’t say at all times? Do they have any freedom of speech rights? Do they have any freedom to bring something to school if they want to? More than that, do they have any rights at all against oppressive punishment? Students in these schools have to go to a certain chair and sit there for a certain length of time, all at the teacher’s discretion, and sometimes they have to go repeatedly to this isolated chair with their back to the class. They may be deprived of recess if that’s granted. They have to go to detention and stay after school. They have to write things 100 times. In some of the schools, there’s a good bit of shaming: they have to wear different colored shirts, they can’t talk, they have to sit on a lower bench than other children. And it’s deliberate shaming of the kids. No one is allowed to talk to them. And what offense have they done to merit this kind of punishment? They haven’t done their homework or they’ve come in late, perhaps repeatedly. They haven’t done anything violent. There has been no adjudication. The teachers or the school norms say that this is appropriate. So what are the limits of what a teacher can do to a child?

ES: You expected that students in these kinds of schools would consider the rules oppressive, but in your study The Quest for Compliance in Schools: Unforeseen Consequences, you found that the students had come to believe that they didn’t deserve more freedom.

Goodman: One thing about these atmospheres is that they’re very uniform. Everybody is on board—you don’t have variability from teacher to teacher or class to class. The atmosphere is totalizing. And the children tend to model themselves after this authority. It has that effect on kids, that they identify with the rules of the regime and their identity becomes *a kid in this school who conforms to these rules.* Now some of the students, of course, don’t conform to the rules, and I think that if you get the kids later in life it’s much harder. But if you get them early, you develop their sense of self that accords with those of the authority. The adults know everything, they know nothing. Here’s what’s good, here’s what’s right. You’ll be successful and happy if you take on these characteristics. Without these rules you’ll be bad or impulsive and you’ll destroy your future. You may not be having fun but you’re doing what’s important. We know best. And the kids come to believe that. As the social psychologists have shown, in totalizing environments, that’s often the result. They call it “identification with the oppressor.” Here oppressor should be changed to authority. There is very, very strong authority in these schools. The teachers are novice teachers, so they get molded too. I don’t think you could take highly experienced teachers—20 years of running a classroom—and put them into these schools and have the same kind of experience. It’s a really interesting study to see how both the teachers and the kids get acculturated."

[Also available here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/09/19/why-no-excuses-charter-schools-mold-very-submissive-students-starting-in-kindergarten/ ]
noexcuses  education  kipp  2014  joangoodman  jenniferberkshire  power  compliance  authority  obedience  learning  howwelearn  teaching  howweteach  schools  oppression  rules  acculturation  charterschools 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Twitter doesn't care about you anymore | Jess Zimmerman | Comment is free | theguardian.com
"The school that I attended when I was nine years old didn’t have much of a playground – just a pull-up bar and two basketball hoops on either side of the blacktop. But nobody I knew cared, because we spent all our playtime in the ragweed-choked thickets on the outskirts of the yard, pretending to be the rabbits from Watership Down.

The following year, the school blocked one of our most significant warrens and razed two others to install some sort of jungle gym nonsense. This made the playground function more like the people in charge thought a playground should function – there were things to climb on, things to swing on, things to race each other to the top of. But we wanted things to pretend to be rabbits on. The grown-ups in charge tore down the parts we were using in favor of what they thought we should use.

Twitter’s recent change to the way its “favorites” work shows the same kind of grown-up tone-deafness. The service now allows tweets that you marked as a favorite to show up in your followers’ timelines (and vice versa). Many users might not notice, but Twitter’s core audience has been abristle at this change.

Whereas faves were, until now, semi-invisible except to those being favored, Twitter’s new plan shows them to the world (or, at least your other followers). A glance at any taxonomy of Twitter faves – and there have been ones at Buzzfeed, Time and the Wire – makes it clear that this runs counter to the way faves are used in the wild. Buzzfeed’s list of 17 types of fave, for instance, includes “the hate fave”, “the secret crush fave”, “the flirty mutual fave” and “the blackmail fave”. Much of the rich vocabulary of the fave depends on the reality that they aren’t visible to anyone who’s not involved or specifically looking.

Faving can mean “I like this” or “I hate this” or “I like this but not enough to retweet it” or “I want to passive-aggressively respond to this” or a host of other things. It’s a complicated, Calvinball-esque game. But one thing the Twitter favorite has never meant is: “I wish the fact that I liked/hated/liked but not enough to retweet/wanted to passive-aggressively respond to this would show up in the feed of everyone I know.” Actually, a lot of people are mildly horrified by this notion. It’s not the way we’ve been playing; it messes with the rules we’ve made up. But it’s the way Twitter wants us to play.

Twitter wasn’t always a bunch of school administrators paving over kids’ rabbit warrens to install new equipment. Indeed, the way the service once dealt with hashtags implies that the company is capable of letting its users’ needs set the agenda. Hashtags, one of Twitter’s most powerful features, were invented by a user – they weren’t a native capability of early Twitter. Once the practice became widespread, Twitter started hyperlinking hashtags to make them easier to follow, and instituted the “trending topics” feature to track them – and now they’re a defining part of the platform.

I’ve been to Twitter headquarters in San Francisco: in addition to the start-up-requisite ping-pong tables, there are plastic deer and a huge patio with a setup for a beanbag-tossing game. Twitter, of all places, should understand that it’s built a playground and that, if you give social networkers a place to play, they will shape it to meet their ends. Improvements that simplify or enhance those innovations show that you appreciate and prioritize your users, but those “improvements” that bulldoze what they’ve built end up showing that you prioritize – well, something else. Advertisers, probably. Your vision of how your service should be used. But not the people who use it.

Twitter users don’t need the fave to be public; we need it to be multivalent. If you’re paying attention to users – or even to Buzzfeed or Time – it’s apparent that Twitter faves mean so many different things to different people. Instead of asking users to understand other people’s vocabulary, why not institute multiple types of fave, one for bookmarking and one that’s more equivalent to the Facebook “Like”? People have been calling for such a change for years.

I suspect the Twitter of five years ago – the one that made hashtags more functional because that’s what its users had carved out of blacktop and ragweed – would be doing that. But this Twitter wants to build a new, fancy playground on top of the hardscrabble one we’re actually using – one that suits its needs and not ours."
jesszimmerman  twitter  favorites  favoriting  play  calvinball  socialmedia  watershipdown  2014  rules  faving 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Kenneth Goldsmith - Talks | Frieze Projects NY
[Direct link to .mp3: http://friezeprojectsny.org/uploads/files/talks/Kenneth_Goldsmith.mp3 ]

"‘I Look to Theory Only When I Realize That Somebody Has Dedicated Their Entire Life to a Question I Have Only Fleetingly Considered’

A keynote lecture by the poet Kenneth Goldsmith, whose writing has been described as ‘some of the most exhaustive and beautiful collage work yet produced in poetry’ (Publishers Weekly). Goldsmith is the author of eleven books of poetry and founding editor of the online archive UbuWeb. In 2013, he was named as the inaugural Poet Laureate of MoMA."
kennethgoldsmith  copying  uncreativewriting  mercecunningham  writing  internet  web  online  remixing  culture  art  poetry  originality  appropriation  quantity  quality  curiosity  harrypotter  poetics  digital  reproduction  translation  displacement  disjunction  corydoctorow  change  howwewrite  pointing  data  metadata  choice  authorship  versioning  misfiling  language  difference  meaning  ethics  morality  literature  twitter  artworld  marshallmcluhan  christianbök  plagiarism  charleseames  rules  notknowing  archiving  improvisation  text  bricolage  assemblage  cv  painting  technology  photography  readerships  thinkerships  thoughtobjects  reassembly  ubuweb  freeculture  moma  outreach  communityoutreach  nyc  copyright  ip  intellectualproperty  ideas  information  sfpc  vitoacconci  audience  accessibility  situationist  museums  markets  criticism  artcriticism  economics  money  browsers  citation  sampling  jonathanfranzen  internetasliterature  getrudestein  internetasfavoritebook  namjunepaik  johncage  misbehaving  andywarhol  bobdylan  barbarakruger  jkrowling  china  creati 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The New Rules of Public Art | Public Art Now
"Demand new rules for public art now!

An organisation born in Bristol, UK, Situations reimagines what public art can be and where and when it can take place. We like to think and reflect on what happens when the spark of an idea is lit. We test out new ways in which to share those ideas through new commissions, events, interviews, books and blogs – just like this, The New Rules of Public Art.

Sign-up here to receive a link to download your free ‘The New Rules of Public Art’ poster or scroll down to get hold of your very own rulebook. In the meantime enjoy, share and debate The Rules.

THE NEW RULES OF PUBLIC ART

Rule no. 01: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO LOOK LIKE PUBLIC ART.

The days of bronze heroes and roundabout baubles are numbered. Public art can take any form or mode of encounter – from a floating Arctic island to a boat oven – be prepared to be surprised, delighted, even unnerved.

[Futurefarmers, Flatbread Society, Oslo, 2013. Photo: Max McClure]

Rule no. 02: IT’S NOT FOREVER.

From the here-today-gone tomorrow of a “one day sculpture” to the growth of a future library over 100 years, artists are shaking up the life expectancy of public artworks. Places don’t remain still and unchanged, so why should public art?

[BC System, New Works Forever, Bristol, 2013. Photo: Georgina Bolton]

Rule no. 03: CREATE SPACE FOR THE UNPLANNED.

Commissioning public art is not a simple design-and-build-process. Artworks arrive through a series of accidents, failures and experiments. Moments of uncertainty and rethinking are the points at which the artwork comes into focus. Let responses to the artwork unfold over time and be open to the potential for unforeseen things to happen.

Rule no. 04: DON’T MAKE IT FOR A COMMUNITY. CREATE A COMMUNITY.

Be wary of predefining an audience. Community is rarely born out of geography, but rather out of common purpose – whether that be a Flatbread Society of farmers, bakers and activists building a bakehouse or 23,000 citizens across 135 countries writing a constitution for a new nation. As Brian Eno once said, “sometimes the strongest single importance of a work of art is the celebration of some kind of temporary community.”

[Alex Hartley, Nowhereisland, Mevagissey, 2012. Photo: Max McClure]

Rule no. 05: WITHDRAW FROM THE CULTURAL ARMS RACE.

Towns and cities across the world are locked into a one-size fits all style of public art. In a culture of globalized brands and clone towns, we hanker after authentic, distinctive places. If we are place-making, then let’s make unusual places.

Rule no. 06: DEMAND MORE THAN FIREWORKS.

Believe in the quiet, unexpected encounter as much as the magic of the mass spectacle. It’s often in the silence of a solitary moment, or in a shared moment of recognition, rather than the exhilaration of whizzes and bangs, that transformation occurs.

[Wrights & Sites, Everything You Need to Build a Town is Here, Weston-super-Mare, 2010. Photo: Max McClure]

Rule no. 07: DON’T EMBELLISH, INTERRUPT.

We need smart urban design, uplifting street lighting and landmark buildings, but public art can do so much more than decorate. Interruptions to our surroundings or everyday activities can open our eyes to new possibilities beyond artistic embellishment.

[One Day Sculpture Heather & Ivan Morison, Journée des Barricades, Wellington, 2008. Photo: Steven Rowe]

Rule no. 08: SHARE OWNERSHIP FREELY, BUT AUTHORSHIP WISELY.

Public art is of the people and made with the people, but not always by the people. Artists are skilled creative thinkers as well as makers. They are the charismatic agents who arrive with curious ideas – a black pavilion could be barnraised in a Bristol park, a graveyard could be built to commemorate the Enrons and West India Companies of our fallen economy, the sounds of a church organ might bleed out across the city through a mobile app. Trust the artist’s judgment, follow their lead and invest in their process.

Rule no. 09: WELCOME OUTSIDERS.

Outsiders challenge our assumptions about what we believe to be true of a place. Embrace the opportunity to see through an outsider’s eyes.

[page 32 One of the Nowhereisland Ambassadors introducing the Embassy Photo Max McClureNowhereisland Ambassador, Weymouth, 2012 . Photo: Max McClure]

Rule no. 10: DON’T WASTE TIME ON DEFINITIONS.

Is it sculpture? Is it visual art? Is it performance? Who cares! There are more important questions to ask. Does it move you? Does it shake up your perceptions of the world around you, or your backyard? Do you want to tell someone else about it? Does it make you curious to see more?

Rule no. 11: SUSPEND YOUR DISBELIEF.

Art gives us the chance to imagine alternative ways of living, to disappear down rabbit holes, to live for a moment in a different world. Local specifics might have been the stepping off point – but public art is not a history lesson. Be prepared that it might not always tell the truth.

[Tony White, Missorts, Bristol, 2012. Photo: Max McClure]

Rule no. 12: GET LOST.

Public art is neither a destination nor a way-finder. Artists encourage us to follow them down unexpected paths as a work unfolds. Surrender the guidebook, get off the art trail, enter the labyrinth and lose yourself in unfamiliar territory.

[Jeppe Hein, Follow Me, Bristol, 2009. Photo: Jamie Woodley­. Courtesy University of Bristol]

Situations opens up the potential for artists to make extraordinary ideas happen in unusual and surprising places, through which audiences and participants are encouraged to explore new horizons.

We choose to work with artists who want to connect directly with people’s lives, creating space for them to take risks, to test limits and cross boundaries. Since 2002, artists have led us and thousands of others into unchartered territories, brought us together to build, bake, grow and marvel, transformed familiar surroundings, provoked us to ask ourselves challenging questions and told us tall tales of the future.

Demand new rules for public art now!"
publicart  glvo  canon  manifestos  performance  impermanence  ephemeral  ephermerality  rules  via:ablerism  imagination  community  conversation  socialpracticeart  culture  risktaking  ownership  open  openness  outsiders  empathy  perspective  listening  resistance  situationist  authorship  collaboration  participatory  cocreation  small  slow  unplanned  spontaneity  unfinished  uncertainty  ephemerality 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Toward a Poetics of Skateboarding | The American Reader
"But for all of its private jargon, skateboarding’s poetry has never been linguistic. It is forever embodied and also, though this is difficult to speak of seriously, spiritual. How else to explain its appearance in Uganda without even a single retail outlet to support it? In fact, the only conveyable language of skateboarding, outside of participation and socialization in the activity itself, has always been spoken through film.

In broad terms, skate media splits time between documentation and advertisement, and their commercial evolution has skewed ever more crass and spectacular. Recent work from select video artists, however, attempts to confront the activity’s basic mystery and meaningful meaninglessness. Non-skateboarders have tended not to look very closely at these films. They mostly do not care. Skateboarders meanwhile care far too much to care exactly why. In any case, it’s here that an attempt toward a poetics of skateboarding must begin."



"Nor can we call such an effort unselfish. My own struggle with the mystery of skateboarding began five years ago, fifteen after I first stepped onto a board, when I began work on my second novel. The problem I encountered was that none of skateboarding’s confectionary can or should be dismissed. Speaking technically and contra Ian Mackaye, skateboarding today is a sport and a hobby both, along with countless other things: a therapy, an obsession, a conservative anti-drug. In its basic meaninglessness, skateboarding has become the tool that takes the shape of whoever’s hand it’s in."



"What in those first years had fit awkwardly into a de facto rubric of athletics—a sport to be timed and judged for athletic merit—became in the 1970s something more rhetorical. The ethos was the punk scavenging of revolution by way of repurposing. Whatever prefigurations of the object we had seen, never before had they been deployed creatively. To speak in China Mieville’s terms, what emerged was something counterposed to the comfort of the uncanny. The activity, new, unrecognized, and bounded only by imagination, was abcanny."



"While the basic spirit of skateboarding might have remained constant since the addition of polyurethane, the marketplace around it quite obviously has not. Now and once again the importance of skateboarding in our time is on the increase. Today, it is on Fox. It is on ESPN with real-time algorithms for evaluating tricks. Once more the marketplace would have us comprehend skateboarding as a sport.

We know on first glance that skateboarding, in its dominant form of street activity, stands apart from ball and net athletics. It seems uninterested, too, in velocity and stopwatch performances. But the first challenge to the rubric of sport begins even lower, at a semiotic level. You and I could, if we wanted, go and shoot lazy jumpshots on a netless schoolyard hoop, or go to the driving range and smack buckets of balls into the green void. We can take our gloves to the park and throw grounders and pop flies and apply tags to invisible runners. But for any of these to qualify as “basketball,” “golf,” or “baseball,” we would require the structure of competition and order of rules.

Systems such as these have no bearing on skateboarding, of which even the most negligible acts, no matter how brief or private, simply are skateboarding. Consider: between my home and the nearest skatepark is a well-paved boulevard with sewer caps embedded into the blacktop every half block or so. A source of joy for me is to push down this boulevard and pop tiny ollies over these sewer caps, sometimes barely scraping my tail, other times popping hard and pulling my knees up to my chest. These are not tricks proper, just ways to see and engage with the street’s reality. This is not, as athletes might call it, practice; I am not training for a future event. It is travel, yes, but the joy has little to do with the scenery or distance covered. In the purview of skate competition, this pushing down the boulevard, the single most fun I have in any given day, is not a scorable act of skateboarding. It is worth zero and it is worth everything.

In a world increasingly data-driven and surveilled, skateboarding lives beneath scoring and resists all datazation by establishing everything as a performance. It deflects the surveillance state by its primal devotion to documenting and sharing itself, monitoring every possible development, repetition, and failure. It pre-empts the onslaught of observation by embracing it. To pre-empt is to deflect, but also to admit defeat. Luckily, skateboarders are shameless—in this way, they’re the perfect actors to play the role of themselves.

Our potential heuristic now approaches what literary and cultural theorists today speak of, with a smirk, as the so-called authentic self. But a skater, whether standing on his stage, behind a camera, or at a keyboard, sees and thinks and performs precisely as what and who he is. What other memberships function in this or a similar manner? Parenthood. Romantic partnership. Citizenship. Does artistry?

***

To date, the most complete attempt to theorize skateboarding has been Iain Borden’s Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body (Berg, 2001). Borden, a Professor of Architecture and Urban Culture at The Bartlett, University College London, treats the activity of skateboarding as a Lefebvrian practice with a potential to become its own sort of architecture: not of construction, but by the “production of space, time, and social being.” He traces the history of skateboarding into the 1990s’ street skating movement, and speaks of the way this “oppositional subculture” rethinks architecture “as a set of discrete features and elements…recomposing it through new speeds, spaces and times.” The gears of capitalism create spaces in which behavior is prescribed and easily accounted for. Skateboarding’s opposition is thus a compositional process, partially of the individual body, which is recomposed against the “intense scopic determinations of modernist space,” and partially of a deeper critique of urban life: “production not as the production of things but of play, desires and actions.”"



"By contrast, today’s most compelling skateboarding films aim to capture not only the play of skateboarding, but enact what Borden calls the “positive dialectic that restlessly searches for new possibilities of representing, imagining and living our lives.” The “Panoramic Series” from Philip Evans, for example, relieves the actor from the full burden of attention. Here Evans follows Phil Zwijsen through his hometown of Antwerp:"



"The skater, Austyn Gillette, appears only after the environmental context, resulting in a portrait not of one or the other, but both. The subject is, as skateboarding’s always has been in practice, the interactions between city and individual body. Alongside recent work by Mike Manzoori, Evan Schiefelbine and select others, these films find energy beyond the progressive trickery of athletics, or the documentation of extant geographies. They combine the skateboarder’s practice—creative, productive—with a distinctly non-skateboarding meta-awareness of the activity’s potential for meaning. Their grounding within the geist of skateboarding is obvious: there is nothing a skater spots more quickly than the fraud, or tourist. These are films made by skateboarders who have lived within the activity’s world, and who choose to leverage the activity as a tool to understand itself. How long, they ask, must a toy endure before it becomes something else? What does it become, and does this mean it has ceased to be a toy?"



"Roberto Bolaño called surrealism “something convulsive and vague, that familiar amorphous thing.” If indeed there is ever to be a poetics of skateboarding, familiarity will have to play a role. Suvin argued that science fiction’s value lay in its ability to effect cognitive estrangement. Campbell’s film documents and creates ostranenie by the re-presentation of a familiar world as captured by, and portrayed through, the glance of the radical dreamer. In fact, what Cuatros does better than any film I’ve seen is remind us that skateboarding’s heuristic usefulness is ontological. Its topos is not that there is a world inside the world, but rather: there is a world the exact shape and texture of the world that you know laid seamlessly over top of it, and you, for some reason, fail to see how beautiful it can be.

Convulsive, vague, and conveyed by slidy looks. Campbell’s subject is our ineffable, binding thing, that lurking, trembling essence that he can only render by images and motions of the surreal. The artist whose art was born from skateboarding has made an object about skateboarding that conveys this birth and mode of being. Skateboarding infects the filmmaker infects the musicians infects the viewer. Viewer goes out skating. Skateboarding is self-perpetuating in this way. It is always itself and something else, it is infectious, it is comprehensive and sublatable to the core. This is how the infinite comes to be—once born, skateboarding can never now die.

But the dreamscape of Cuatros Sueños Pequeños is not an expression of this infinity. Rather, it is mimetic. What world is this?, asks the skateboarder. A familiar one we have seen so many times that it’s rendered unseeable. More importantly, what is to be done in it? The answer, like Campbell’s film, is incoherent, and thank goodness. The answer is anything at all."
skating  skateboarding  skateboards  quantification  measurement  urban  urbanism  surveillance  iainborden  meaning  film  video  robertobolaño  thomascampbell  cuatrosueñospequeños  performance  datazation  repetition  monitoring  failure  documentation  process  capitalism  henrilefebvre  space  place  play  culture  movement  infectiousness  inspiration  feral  ecosystems  socialbeing  time  architecture  landscape  kylebeachy  understanding  experience  robertzemeckis  pontusalv  punk  metrics  schematics  markets  poetics  filmmaking  darkosuvin  sciencefiction  ianmackaye  technology  history  circumstance  california  socal  sports  chinamieville  abcanny  zines  creativity  competition  commercialization  commercialism  commoditization  diy  systems  rules  revolution  resistance  practice  authenticity  artistry  philipevans  philzwijsen  colinkennedy  stasis  motion  austyngillette  mikemanzoori  evanschiefelbine  javiermendizabal  madarsapse  dondelillo  cities  meaninglessness  participation  participatory  democracy  tribes  belonging  identity  spirituality  social  socializati 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Michael Wesch at Pasadena City College - YouTube
[Questions that burn in the souls of Wesch's students:
Who am I?
What is the meaning of life?
What am I going to do with my life?
Am I going to make it?]

[See also: http://mediatedcultures.net/presentations/learning-as-soul-making/ ]
education  teaching  michaelwesch  identity  cv  soulmaking  spirituality  why  whyweteach  howweteach  learning  unschooling  deschooling  life  purpose  relationships  anthropology  ethnography  canon  meaning  meaningmaking  schooliness  schools  schooling  achievement  bigpicture  counseling  society  seymourpapert  empathy  perspective  assessment  fakingit  presentationofself  burnout  web  internet  wonder  curiosity  ambiguity  controversy  questions  questioning  askingquestions  questionasking  modeling  quests  risk  risktaking  2014  death  vulnerability  connectedness  sharedvulnerability  cars  technology  telecommunications  boxes  robertputnam  community  lievendecauter  capsules  openness  trust  peterwhite  safety  pubictrust  exploration  helicopterparenting  interestedness  ambition  ericagoldson  structure  institutions  organizations  constructionism  patricksuppes  instructionism  adaptivelearning  khanacademy  play  cocreationtesting  challenge  rules  engagement  novelty  simulation  compassion  digitalethnography  classideas  projectideas  collaboration  lcproject  tcsnmy  op 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Sasha Frere-Jones: Brian Eno’s Quiet Influence : The New Yorker
"In January, 1975, the musician Brian Eno and the painter Peter Schmidt released a set of flash cards they called “Oblique Strategies.” Friends since meeting at art school, in the late sixties, they had long shared guidelines that could pry apart an intellectual logjam, providing options when they couldn’t figure out how to move forward. The first edition consisted of a hundred and fifteen cards. They were black on one side with an aphorism or an instruction printed on the reverse. Eno’s first rule was “Honour thy error as a hidden intention.” Others included “Use non-musicians” and “Tape your mouth.” In “Brian Eno: Visual Music,” a monograph of his musical projects and visual art, Eno, who still uses the rules, says, “ ‘Oblique Strategies’ evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation—particularly in studios—tended to make me quickly forget that there were other ways of working and that there were tangential ways of attacking problems that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach.”

Eno is widely known for coining the term “ambient music,” and he produced a clutch of critically revered albums in the nineteen-seventies and eighties—by the Talking Heads, David Bowie, and U2, among others—but if I had to choose his greatest contribution to popular music it would be the idea that musicians do their best work when they have no idea what they’re doing. As he told Keyboard, in 1981, “Any constraint is part of the skeleton that you build the composition on—including your own incompetence.” The genius of Eno is in removing the idea of genius. His work is rooted in the power of collaboration within systems: instructions, rules, and self-imposed limits. His methods are a rebuke to the assumption that a project can be powered by one person’s intent, or that intent is even worth worrying about. To this end, Eno has come up with words like “scenius,” which describes the power generated by a group of artists who gather in one place at one time. (“Genius is individual, scenius is communal,” Eno told the Guardian, in 2010.) It suggests that the quality of works produced in a certain time and place is more indebted to the friction between the people on hand than to the work of any single artist.

The growing influence of this idea, ironically, makes it difficult to see clearly Eno’s distinct contributions to music—his catalogue of recordings doesn’t completely contain his contribution to the pop canon. When someone lies on the studio floor and sings at a microphone five feet away, Eno is in the air. When a band records three hours of improvisation and then loops a four-second excerpt of the audiotape and scraps the rest, Eno has a hand on the razor blade. When everybody except for the engineer is told to go home, Eno remains. Behind Eno stand John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, and Erik Satie, but those guys didn’t make pop records.

It feels odd to call Eno’s new album, “High Life,” released this week, a collaboration. Credited to Eno and Karl Hyde, of the electronic duo Underworld, “High Life” is indeed the work of several people. But deciding that any one project of Eno’s is a collaboration seems off, because collaboration is Eno’s primary mode. Eno’s first recorded work was the sound of a pen hitting a lamp. Who deserves credit for that—Eno, the pen, or the lamp?"



"What became increasingly clear in the seventies was that Eno’s embrace of possibility and chance wasn’t as free-form as it seemed—it was a specific aesthetic. His name shows up on very few records you would describe as hard or aggressive, and his love of the perverse has never been rooted in hostility. Eno fights against received wisdom and habit, but rarely against the listener.

In fact, as Eno found more ways for technology to carry out his beloved generative rules, his music became less and less like rock music and closer to a soundtrack for meditation. The same year that he released “Another Green World,” he also put out “Discreet Music.” The A side was a thirty-minute piece that was written as much by machines as by Eno. In the liner notes, Eno wrote, “If there is any score for the piece, it must be the operational diagram of the particular apparatus I used for its production. . . . Having set up this apparatus, my degree of participation in what it subsequently did was limited to (a) providing an input (in this case, two simple and mutually compatible melodic lines of different duration stored on a digital recall system) and (b) occasionally altering the timbre of the synthesizer’s output by means of a graphic equalizer.”

The result is an area of sound without borders or time signature. There is no rhythm track, just layers of monody, lines programmed into a synthesizer and playing over each other. It is hypnotic, and fights your attempts to focus on it. In 1978, he started to use the term “ambient music”: the concept stretched back to describe “Discreet Music” and the work of earlier composers, like Satie, who coined the term “furniture music,” for compositions that would be more functional than expressive. In the liner notes of “Ambient 1: Music for Airports” (1978), Eno wrote, “Ambient Music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.”

But “Music for Airports” was not nearly as docile as Eno wanted it to be. Though the music is gentle enough to be background music, it is too vocal in character and too melodic to be forgotten that easily. I can recall entire sequences without much difficulty. As much as Eno wanted his music to recede, and as potent as the idea was, he failed by succeeding: the album is too beautiful to ignore. But, in some ways, history and technology have accomplished what Eno did not. With the disappearance of the central home stereo, and the rise of earbuds, MP3s, and the mobile, around-the-clock work cycle, music is now used, more often than not, as background music. Aggressive music can now be as forgettable as ambient music."



"“I have a trick that I used in my studio, because I have these twenty-eight-hundred-odd pieces of unreleased music, and I have them all stored in iTunes,” Eno said during his talk at Red Bull. “When I’m cleaning up the studio, which I do quite often—and it’s quite a big studio—I just have it playing on random shuffle. And so, suddenly, I hear something and often I can’t even remember doing it. Or I have a very vague memory of it, because a lot of these pieces, they’re just something I started at half past eight one evening and then finished at quarter past ten, gave some kind of funny name to that doesn’t describe anything, and then completely forgot about, and then, years later, on the random shuffle, this thing comes up, and I think, Wow, I didn’t hear it when I was doing it. And I think that often happens—we don’t actually hear what we’re doing. . . . I often find pieces and I think, This is genius. Which me did that? Who was the me that did that?”"
2014  brianeno  sashafrere-jones  music  johncage  marcelduchamp  eriksatie  scenius  collaboration  notknowing  uncertainty  constraints  rules  obliquestrategies  art  process  howwework  happenings  bryanferry  improvisation  generative  possibility  chance  genius 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Material world: how Google discovered what software is made of | The Verge
"We’re hardwired to comprehend physical things, Duarte says, and software all too often behaves in ways that break with our models and expectations. Wiley thinks of it as breaking the suspension of disbelief, as when something happens in a sci-fi movie that doesn’t follow its own internal logic. Duarte is a little more direct, with a subtle dig at Apple’s iOS and its flying software layers: "We’re not hurtling you through space at high speeds," he says. "We’re not puncturing your hand with invisible, impossible surfaces."

"Design is all about finding solutions within constraints," Duarte says, "If there were no constraints, it’s not design — it’s art."

Google’s designers steadfastly refuse to name the new fictional material, a decision that simultaneously gives them more flexibility and adds a level of metaphysical mysticism to the substance. That’s also important because while this material follows some physical rules, it doesn’t fall into the old trap of skeuomorphism. The material isn’t a one-to-one imitation of physical paper, but instead it’s "magical," as Duarte puts it.

It can do things that physical paper can’t, like grow and shrink with animations. Those animations were important to Google, because they help users understand where they are inside an app. "A lot of software … kind of feels like television or film in terms of jump cuts," Wiley says, causing you to lose your sense of time and place. For apps, you want something more akin to a stage play. "It’s going from one moment to the next," he says, "that scene change, and what’s happening onstage is choreographed and transitioned, and there’s meaning.""
design  android  google  materialdesign  constraints  rules  2014  dieterbohn  xeroxparc  objects  predictability  matiasduarte 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Let's face it. Americans suck at Bureaucracy. | HomeFree AmericaHomeFree America
"We Americans don’t like the idea of making rules to solve every possible problem. If there are too many rules, it chafes our spirit.

We’d rather use our own judgement to make our own decisions and allow others to do the same. Rules in that context are minimal safeguards against egregious behavior, instead of a way to protect against every possible bad decision people may make.

We simply don’t want all of our decisions handed to us, because in most cases, we can do a better job than the bureaucrat or politician that made them. We do this also because we know that when rules replace individual decision making, people end up without the judgement necessary to make good decisions on their own. They become malformed adults, unable to act unless someone tells them what to do or authorizes them to do it.

We don’t like using rules to solve all of our problems because they lock in the present, when we are focused on the future. We don’t like rules because they stop change when we are on a path of constant improvement. We don’t like rules because they assume a pessimism about the future we don’t share.

Of course, attitudes regarding rules are different in other places. There are lots of other countries that actually excel at rulemaking and bureaucracy. The Germans, for example, make rules for their rules. The Chinese invented the bureaucracy that makes and enforces rules. In fact, these countries are so good at making and enforcing rules, they routinely use it to gain economic advantage in the global marketplace.

So, if that’s the case, why are we running most of our economy based on the false assumption that we actually like bureaucratic rules? Why are we investing so much of our time and effort building and paying for the HUGE government and corporate bureaucracies we suck at?

Inertia. Most of the bureaucracy we see today in America is a legacy of the wars of the 20th Century. Bureaucracies got big during the 20th Century because they are so amazingly good at mobilizing a country’s economy for massive destruction of total war they destroyed all of their competition. As a result of this efficacy in waging total war, our bureaucracy grew almost non-stop across the entire 20th century.

However, with the end of the cold war, the need for bureaucracy as a means of waging war faded too. In fact, in today’s world fewer people dying from war than across all of history. We simply aren’t required, out of a need for self-preservation, to have a big bureaucracy in standby mode for the destruction of the world.

This means that bureaucracy is once again, an economic choice: does it help a country become more prosperous or not?

In the case of the United States, that answer should be pretty clear. We aren’t better off with an overarching focus on bureaucracy and the excessive rule-making that goes with it. We aren’t better off with 20 million people in college chasing a credential instead of an education. We aren’t better off with entire segments of the economy, as is the case with healthcare and education, protected from improvement by bureaucratic rules that lock in what we have today.

We should just admit that we suck at bureaucracy and the rules that go with it and try something better.

How? We need an economic focus that plays to what Americans are better at doing than everyone else: creating the future.

Sincerely,
John Robb

PS: The extreme carnage of WW1 came as a complete surprise to the Europeans because their new bureaucracies were so unexpectedly good at waging total war."
2014  johnrobb  bureaucracy  us  germany  rules  rulemaking  judgement  politics  policy  china  inertia  economics  war  change  adaptability  credentials  credentialism 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Don't tell kids not to talk to strangers – encourage them to trust their instincts | Philippa Perry | Comment is free | theguardian.com
"Blanket injunctions to not talk to strangers are unrealistic and contradict what they see us doing, so consequently it won't be a rule they will be able to take all that seriously. Children tend to do what we do, not what we say. Sometimes how a child feels is inconvenient for us, but we must not be tempted to argue with what they feel or declare that they are silly for feeling it. If we invalidate their feelings and thus teach them to overrule them, we are endangering them.

I'm not saying we shouldn't contain their feelings or comfort them, nor am I saying our actions should be dictated by what they feel, I'm arguing that we need to acknowledge them and take them seriously.

It also helps children when we describe our own feelings. So, next time you've had enough of the playground, don't be tempted to say, an hour is long enough, time to do the shopping, so just five more minutes. Say instead, I'm cold and tired (if this is the case), so just five more minutes. Were we to behave manipulatively towards them, we should expect to be manipulated by them in turn. And if we deny our own feelings, we will not be doing them, or us, any favours."

[See also something from me a few years ago: "Eliminating the “Don’t talk to strangers” rule" http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/625745364/eliminating-the-dont-talk-to-strangers-rule ]
parenting  strangers  strangerdanger  2014  philippaperry  children  rules  fear 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Conditional Design: Workbook: Andrew Blauvelt, Koert Van Mensvoort: 9789078088585: Amazon.com: Books
[Book website: http://workbook.conditionaldesign.org/ ]
[See also: http://conditionaldesign.org/archive/ and
http://conditionaldesign.org/ and
http://conditionaldesign.org/pages/about-us/ ]

""Conditional Design" is the name of a new design ethos formulated by graphic designers Luna Maurer, Jonathan Puckey and Roel Wouters, and artist Edo Paulus. It espouses a working method that involves drawing up arbitrary constraints and rules of play, fostering both a strongly collaborative spirit and unpredictable end results. Conditional Design provides beautifully simple ideas for open, collaborative processes in art and design. Its workbook format organizes the material step by step, and the publication as a whole provides exciting ways for others--groups of children as well as artists and designers--to apply the method themselves. In accompanying essays, Andrew Blauvelt elaborates on the implications of such processes for art and design, and Koert van Mensvoort describes how Conditional Design could form the basis for the design and organization of the city of Zhiango, China, in 2050."
design  conditionaldesign  play  lunamaurer  jonathanpuckey  roelwouters  edopaulus  moniker  collaboration  art  openstudioproject  classideas  lcproject  andrewblauvelt  koertvanmensvoort  zhiango  chinaprocess  howwework  organization  2014  contraints  rules  unpredictability  children  books  toread  wcydwt 
february 2014 by robertogreco
School ditches rules and loses bullies - National News | TVNZ
[Reminds me of this one: "Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach [listening] to school discipline — suspensions drop 85%"
http://acestoohigh.com/2012/04/23/lincoln-high-school-in-walla-walla-wa-tries-new-approach-to-school-discipline-expulsions-drop-85/ ]

[Update: The Atlantic follows up: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/01/recess-without-rules/283382/ ]

[And another update: http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/03/21/when-one-new-zealand-school-tossed-its-playground-rules-and-let-students-risk-injury-the-results-surprised/ ]

"Ripping up the playground rulebook is having incredible effects on children at an Auckland school.

Chaos may reign at Swanson Primary School with children climbing trees, riding skateboards and playing bullrush during playtime, but surprisingly the students don't cause bedlam, the principal says.

The school is actually seeing a drop in bullying, serious injuries and vandalism, while concentration levels in class are increasing.

Principal Bruce McLachlan rid the school of playtime rules as part of a successful university experiment.

"We want kids to be safe and to look after them, but we end up wrapping them in cotton wool when in fact they should be able to fall over."

Letting children test themselves on a scooter during playtime could make them more aware of the dangers when getting behind the wheel of a car in high school, he said.

"When you look at our playground it looks chaotic. From an adult's perspective, it looks like kids might get hurt, but they don't."

Swanson School signed up to the study by AUT and Otago University just over two years ago, with the aim of encouraging active play.

However, the school took the experiment a step further by abandoning the rules completely, much to the horror of some teachers at the time, he said.

When the university study wrapped up at the end of last year the school and researchers were amazed by the results."
bullying  children  education  schools  rules  discipline  2014  newzealand  teaching  learning  simplicity  community  tcsnmy  zerotolerance 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Margaret J. Wheatley: The Irresistible Future of Organizing
"Why do so many people in organizations feel discouraged and fearful about the future? Why does despair only increase as the fads fly by, shorter in duration, more costly in each attempt to improve? Why have the best efforts to create significant and enduring organizational change resulted in so many failures? We, and our organizations, exist in a world of constant evolutionary activity. Why is change so unnatural in human organizations?

The accumulating failures at organizational change can be traced to a fundamental but mistaken assumption that organizations are machines. Organizations-as-machines is a 17th century notion, from a time when philosophers began to describe the universe as a great clock. Our modern belief in prediction and control originated in these clockwork images. Cause and effect were simple relationships.   Everything could be known.  Organizations and people could be engineered into efficient solutions. Three hundred years later, we still search for "tools and techniques" and "change levers"; we attempt to "drive" change through our organizations; we want to "build" solutions and "reengineer" for peak efficiencies.

But why would we want an organization to behave like a machine? Machines have no intelligence; they follow the instructions given to them. They only work in the specific conditions predicted by their engineers. Changes in their environment wreak havoc because they have no capacity to adapt.

These days, a different ideal for organizations is surfacing. We want organizations to be adaptive, flexible, self-renewing, resilient, learning, intelligent-attributes found only in living systems. The tension of our times is that we want our organizations to behave as living systems, but we only know how to treat them as machines.



This faith in the organization's ability and intelligence will be sorely tested. When there are failures, pressures from the outside, or employee problems, it is easy to retreat to more traditional structures and solutions. As one manager describes it: "When things aren't going well, we've had to resist the temptation to fall back to the perceived safety of our old, rigid structures. But we know that the growth, the creativity, the opening up, the energy improves only if we hold ourselves at the edge of chaos."

The path of self-organization offers ample tests for leaders to discover how much they really trust their employees. Can employees make wise decisions? Can they deal with sensitive information? Can they talk to the community or government regulators? Employees earn trust, but leaders create the circumstances in which such trust can be earned.

Because dependency runs so deep in most organizations these days, employees often have to be encouraged to exercise initiative and explore new areas of competence. Not only do leaders have to let go and watch as employees figure out their own solutions, they also have to shore up their self-confidence and encourage them to do more. And leaders need to refrain from taking credit for their employees' good work-not always an easy task.

While self-organization calls us to very different ideas and forms of organizing, how else can we create the resilient, intelligent, fast, and flexible organizations that we require? How else can we succeed in organizing in the accelerating pace of our times except by realizing that organizations are living systems? This is not an easy shift, changing one's model of the way the world organizes. It is work that will occupy most of us for the rest of our careers. But the future pulls us toward these new understandings with an insistent and compelling call."

[via: https://twitter.com/JosieHolford/status/394627503668461568 ]
systems  systemsthinking  margaretwheatley  myronkellner-rogers  1996  organzations  management  humans  humanism  machines  modernism  organizing  resistance  self-organization  administration  leadership  structure  dependency  initiative  competency  rigidity  livingsystems  life  rules 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Neighborhood Nazis
"Critics deride communities represented by homeowner associations as walled-off worlds where the well-heeled can collectively ignore problems like crime and fiscal despair. Many association members consider their rules repressive and needlessly complex. Nonetheless, these community organizations continue to spring up in unprecedented numbers. This privatization of government functions raises a host of vexing societal questions.

'I call it secession by the successful,' says Evan McKenzie, a political scientist at the University of Illinois and author of Privatopia (Yale University Press, 1994), a book dissecting the blissful illusions associations proffer. 'When we think about citizenship in our communities, we think of some concept of rights and responsibilities. But common interest developments encourage secessionist mentalities. They give people a variety of incentives for not seeing themselves as belonging to their city or county, since they belong to associations that provide services such as recreation centers, swimming pools, and parks. Meanwhile, those cities and counties shrivel from neglect.'

Elitism exacts another price as well: Associations exert more control over their members' lives than do any municipal, state, or federal entities. They may mandate how many hours a day you may keep your garage door open, whether you can build a pool in your backyard, what kind of shrubs get planted out front, and how high your flagpole can be. Assuming that flagpoles are allowed.

In short, they are not refuges for renegades.

In their early stages, homeowners' associations are run by developer-appointed boards of directors, usually made up of builders working on the development, with one or two homeowners added to the mix. The boards, in turn, hire outside companies to handle daily management chores, and to act as buffers between themselves and agitated residents.

As a rule, appointed board members get most of the votes -- typically about three votes per lot in the project. Homeowners usually receive one vote per home, no matter how many people live in the house.

This formula allows developers to retain control of the property through the association until the community is nearly complete, or up to some preset date. The association is likewise guided by a set of codes, covenants, and restrictions -- known as CC&Rs -- signed by every home buyer. The CC&Rs remain in effect long after the developer turns the board over to homeowner-elected officers and departs. At that point, elected representatives maintain the rules, which typically can be overturned only by a 'supermajority,' or 75 percent of homeowner votes.

Under board tutelage, community parks are established, recreation centers are built, swimming pools are maintained, and architectural consistency is imposed, all financed by membership fees. Associations also lobby state and local governments on a variety of issues, including land zoning decisions and tax relief for services they already provide, like garbage collection, and they've won many struggles. In New Jersey, for example, a recent referendum banned double payment for services.

Problems arise from the associations' contradictory roles. On the one hand, they operate as governments. On the other hand, they're still private concerns and thereby not subject to constitutional guarantees like free speech. The courts consider membership in them voluntary -- akin to joining the Elks or Kiwanis -- although many new homes come with associations attached.

'People who buy into them do give up a large part of their rights as citizens,' McKenzie says, adding that associations don't always wield their power wisely. The gradation of enforcement exercised by civil authorities is lacking, he says. 'For example, if you cross an empty street in the middle of the block and a cop sees you, will he give you a fine? Probably not.'

Associations aren't as flexible: 'Boards feel it's their mandate to enforce every rule every time. And they tend to be made up of people who have some desire to hold power over their neighbors. The situation can create neighborhood Hitlers."

[Printable version: http://www.utne.com/print.aspx?id={60089ED4-89BF-40FE-8917-39A05ACA1221} URL includes those curly brackets, so cut and paste to get there.]

[Referenced on page 307 of Landscapes of Betrayal, Landscapes of Joy, by Herb Childress
http://www.sunypress.edu/p-3177-landscapes-of-betrayal-landscap.aspx ]

[See also Robert Reich's "Secession by the Succesful" (1991) http://www-personal.umich.edu/~gmarkus/secession.html
and http://alternativeperspective.blogspot.com/2006/06/meritocracy-secession-of-successful.html
and http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Youth,+crime,+and+cultural+space.-a020562409
and Evan McKenzie's "Common-Interest Housing in the Communities
of Tomorrow" (.pdf) http://tigger.uic.edu/~mckenzie/comoftom.pdf ]

[This relates to the Silicon Valley secessionist attitude that has been raging lately:
http://danhon.com/2013/10/21/your-grim-meathook-future/ ]
evanmckenzie  privatopia  homeownerassociations  hoas  rules  seccession  secessionbythesuccessfull  economics  power  control  gatedcommunities  elitism  property  government  secession  1995  timvanderpool  politics  policy  class  society  zoning  exclusion  restrictions  herbchildress 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Scientific Proof That Cities Are Like Nothing Else in Nature - Emily Badger - The Atlantic Cities
"The idea that cities are governed by some universal rules of math may make it sound like the urban planner has little control. But, in fact, Bettencourt sees the planner’s job to try to steer cities toward that optimal point (G*) on the above graph. Beyond that point, the number of social interactions in a city can still grow, but the cost of them rises faster than the benefit.

Ideally, as cities grow, all of this means that they should become even more productive, even more powerful. And in this way, at least, they are like one thing in nature. As stars compress matter, they burn brighter and faster the bigger they are. But stars can eventually run out of energy. They’re not open-ended. And they’re isolated systems, where cities rely on food and other resources from beyond their borders.

If the idea of a city as “social reactor” is still a bit too abstract for you, perhaps try this hybrid: “It’s part star, part network,” Bettencourt says. “But it’s really it’s own new thing, for which we don’t have a strict analogy anywhere else in nature.”"

[See also: http://esciencenews.com/articles/2013/06/20/cities.are.a.new.kind.complex.system.part.social.reactor.part.network ]
cities  rules  growth  metaphors  luisbettencourt  2013  urban  urbanplanning  urbanism  networks  stars  analogies  nature  emilybadger 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Neil Gaiman: Keynote Address 2012 | The University of the Arts
"The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It's Imposter Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police."



"People get hired because, somehow, they get hired."



"To all today's graduates: I wish you luck. Luck is useful. Often you will discover that the harder you work, and the more wisely you work, the luckier you get. But there is luck, and it helps.

We're in a transitional world right now, if you're in any kind of artistic field, because the nature of distribution is changing, the models by which creators got their work out into the world, and got to keep a roof over their heads and buy sandwiches while they did that, are all changing. I've talked to people at the top of the food chain in publishing, in bookselling, in all those areas, and nobody knows what the landscape will look like two years from now, let alone a decade away. The distribution channels that people had built over the last century or so are in flux for print, for visual artists, for musicians, for creative people of all kinds.

Which is, on the one hand, intimidating, and on the other, immensely liberating. The rules, the assumptions, the now-we're supposed to's of how you get your work seen, and what you do then, are breaking down. The gatekeepers are leaving their gates. You can be as creative as you need to be to get your work seen. YouTube and the web (and whatever comes after YouTube and the web) can give you more people watching than television ever did. The old rules are crumbling and nobody knows what the new rules are.

So make up your own rules."

[On Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikAb-NYkseI ]
neilgaiman  luck  howwework  freelancing  art  making  glvo  2012  commencementspeeches  life  living  worrying  rules  breakingrules  creativity  uncertainty  freedom  mistakes  failure  success 
june 2013 by robertogreco
DrupalCon Portland 2013: DESIGN OPS: A UX WORKFLOW FOR 2013 - YouTube
"Hey, the dev team gets all these cool visual analytics, code metrics, version control, revision tagging, configuration management, continuous integration ... and the UX design team just passes around Photoshop files?

Taking clues from DevOps and Lean UX, "DesignOps" advocates more detailed and durable terminology about the cycle of user research, design and production. DesignOps seeks to first reduce the number of design artifacts, to eliminate the pain of prolonged design decisions. DesignOps assumes that the remaining design artifacts aren't actionable until they are reasonably archived and linked in a coherent way that serves the entire development team.

This talk will introduce the idea of DesignOps with the assumption that the audience has experience with a basic user research cycle — iterative development with any kind of user feedback.

DesignOps is a general approach, intended to help with a broad array of questions from usability testing issues, documentation archiving, production-time stress, and general confusion on your team:

What are the general strategies for managing the UX design process?
How do you incorporate feedback without huge cost?
What happened to that usability test result from last year?
How much space goes between form elements?
Why does the design cycle make me want to drink bleach?
WTF why does our website look like THIS?
* Features turnkey full-stack (Vagrant ) installation of ubuntu with drupal 7 install profile utilizing both php and ruby development tools, with all examples configured for live css compilation"
chrisblow  contradictions  just  simply  must  2013  drupal  drupalcon  designops  fear  ux  terminology  design  audience  experience  shame  usability  usabilitytesting  work  stress  archiving  confusion  relationships  cv  canon  collaboration  howwework  workflow  versioncontrol  versioning  failure  iteration  flickr  tracker  creativecommons  googledrive  tags  tagging  labels  labeling  navigation  urls  spreadsheets  links  permissions  googledocs  timelines  basecamp  cameras  sketching  universal  universality  teamwork  principles  bullshitdetection  users  clients  onlinetoolkit  offtheshelf  tools  readymadetools  readymade  crapdetection  maps  mapping  userexperience  research  designresearch  ethnography  meetup  consulting  consultants  templates  stencils  bootstrap  patterns  patternlibraries  buzzwords  css  sass  databases  compass  webdev  documentation  sharing  backups  maintenance  immediacy  process  decisionmaking  basics  words  filingsystems  systems  writing  facilitation  expression  operations  exoskeletons  clarification  creativity  bots  shellscripts  notes  notetaking  notebo 
may 2013 by robertogreco
a t l i n - “Thoughts on Filmmaking” Pictured: “Peter Beard...
"“Thoughts on Filmmaking”

Pictured: “Peter Beard takes a photograph of a charging lion.”

There is no mystery to filmmaking. The modern camera is a simple device comprised of retracting mirrors, lenses and software. There are far greater mysteries to be unraveled. 

We are light-seekers, chasers of sunsets and sunrises.  

Design is central. Create spaces for people to inhabit, paths to wander, and colors to taste.

Make films with people who do not share a common language. New ways of communication and understanding emerge. We all have something we want to say to one another. 

Work with non-actors. Everything starts with their story. If you need someone to go to a dark place, you need to go there with them.

Filmmaking is problem solving. The constraints make our work stronger. 

Small moments of spontaneity become grand miracles.

Put down the pen and pick up the camera. Spend more time making films than talking about them.  

Always sweat. Travel light with heavy dreams. 

This is an evolving list."
atlin  filmmaking  worldbuilding  film  films  language  light  peterbeard  photography  making  doing  lists  spontaneity  small  slow  problemsolving  communication  rules  guidelines 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Tupperwolf: Anonymous asked: How the hell do you find all these interesting things you post to your reading Twitter? How do you go searching for these veins?
"Veinily is a useful way of seeing it. You never find an interesting thing on its own. And things are rarely interesting in themselves: everything makes sense as a product of its causes, after all. What are interesting are things in certain contexts, making connections that you could not have anticipated, doing kinds of things you did not know could be done.

Ignore rebels. Ignore lawgivers. Look for people who are sincerely willing to be either or neither, as the situation demands. Look for ones who (1) love the world as it is and (2) see how to make it better. People who rely on only one of those qualities tend to be more famous, more firework-y, and uninteresting."
learning  life  truth  charlieloyd  reading.am  veins  interestingness  curiosity  unschooling  deschooling  education  discovery  serendipity  process  rules  rulemaking  laws  rebels  fame  context  connections  connectivism  2013 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Being self-taught — vanSchneider Blog
"1. It's about the process. Just do it and start with the first thing that comes to your mind. There is absolutely nothing you can do wrong.

2. Don't listen to other people who're telling you what's right and what's wrong. Those people will always try to keep you small and hold you back. Don't listen to them. People always told me that I'm naive  — and yeah, maybe I was. But I always was optimistic and I knew that I'm doing the right thing. 

3. Surround yourself with people who motivate you and always making you feel good about what you're doing. These personalities are rare - so if you found them, keep them.

4. Help other people. Even if you're at the very beginning of something, use your knowledge to help others. Why? Try it, magical things will happen, I promise.

5. Always surround yourself with people who're "better" than you. That's what Donny Osmond said and I think it's partly true. But try to replace "better" with "crazier" or "different".

6. Break the rules. That's actually one of the most important things at being self-taught. Be a rebel, break the rules and don't be afraid of anything. What if you fail? Get up, try again. If you don't like it? Don't do it, do something else. It's that simple.

7. Stop complaining. I know, that's fcking hard and I'm not really good with this either. But complaining is always the easy route and nothing actually happen when you do it, except you're surrounding yourself with a lot of negative energy."
via:ableparris  autodidacts  autodidactism  self-teaching  self-directedlearning  education  learning  unschooling  deschooling  life  design  tobiasvanschneider  complaining  complaints  rules  breakingrules  self-taught  donnyosmond  georgesteinbrenner  helping  interestedness  curiosity  people  relationships  doing  making  rightandwrong  process  autodidacticism  interested 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Silence and Speech
"If you feel moved to contribute after others have spoken, our experience is that it is as well to leave a fair time, and ask yourself whether you will be carrying further what has already been said. It is practically never right to spring up immediately."

"For our present purpose, the essential point is that what we receive in our meetings strengthens us in our daily lives; and then in turn we bring back our experiences to our meetings, where they may sometimes give rise to ministry. This two-way traffic is not regulated by rules or achieved through theological doctrines or political theories; it is a quiet unseen process, which is seldom exciting or dramatic but can in the long run have deep and far-reaching effects. Another early Quaker, Robert Barclay, wrote, 'When I came into the silent assemblies of God's people I found the evil in me weakening and the good raised up.' Many Quakers since his day have testified to similar experiences…"
thinking  meditation  meetings  friendsmeetings  ministry  robertbarclay  process  doctrine  deschooling  unschooling  rules  restraint  speech  silence  practice  religion  richardallen  1992  quakers  quaker 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Perestroika and Epistemological Politics : Stager-to-Go
"I am suggesting that it is useful to think of what is happening as the system striving to define teaching as a technical act."

"Real restructuring of the administration and of the curriculum can only come with an epistemological restructuring, an epistemological perestroika . . . reshaping the structure of knowledge itself."

"A body of evidence is building up that puts in question, not only whether traditional scientific method is the only way to do good science, but even whether it is even practiced to any large extent."

"Control over teachers and students is simply easier when knowledge is reduced to rules stated so formally that the bureaucrat is always able to “know” unambiguously what is right and what is wrong. "

"For stable change a deeper restructuring is needed–or else the large parts of the system you didn’t change will just bring the little parts you did change back into line. We have to seek out the deeper structures on which the system is based."
accountability  power  control  sovietunion  mikhailgorbachev  rules  curriculum  cv  teaching  epistemology  revolution  perestroika  mitmedialab  logo  1990  learning  education  change  megachange  educationreform  bureaucracy  systems  systemicchange  hierarchy  constructivism  seymourpapert  medialab  from delicious
january 2013 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Why do we read? Why do we write?
"Why do we read? Why do we write? How do we bring reading to children? How do we encourage children to write?

Will we accept a true democracy of voices? Or do we continue to pursue the colonialism of conversion, the colonialism of standardization?"

"And so I wonder, (a) where does my communication fit into your school? your Common Core? your library? your classroom? and (b) where does that democracy of voice fit in? How do we embrace that and not squash it?

The world is a place of constant reinvention. If we all follow the rules, the paths, nothing changes. There is a reason the books of the colonials so often fill the Booker Prize shortlists, there is a reason Irish fiction and poetry are prized so much more highly than that of the English or Americans. The rules have never fully taken root away from "the Queen's English," and the paths begin in very different places, and it is the uncommon, not the common, which has extraordinary value."
fiveparagraphessays  curriculum  why  howweread  howwewrite  schools  deschooling  unschooling  rules  sequence  time  memory  rebeccanewbergergoldstein  jamesjoyce  ulysses  umbertoeco  literature  standardization  commoncore  colonialism  democracy  linearity  learning  teaching  2012  communication  writing  reading  irasocol  linear  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
When Brian Eno met Ha-Joon Chang | Music | The Guardian
"Brian Eno: There's an issue we're both interested in – this middle ground between control and chaos. Some economists say you can only have a control model or a chaos model, that you're either a socialist or it's all about the free market. Whereas you say: "Let's find a place in between."

This happens to be an issue with the music I make. It's made for a place somewhere between architecture and gardening. It's not a situation where I'm finessing every tiny detail. I basically set a process in motion and then watch it happen. A lot of the design work is prior to the thing starting, rather than trying to keep control of it once it has started. You try to design the process carefully enough so you get the results you want and don't have to intervene. …

Ha-Joon Chang:… Central planners thought they could control everything, but there are always elements of uncertainty and surprise… The illusion that this rule-less system can organise itself has been proven completely mistaken – but we still have people wanting to believe in these extremes. …

…our black and white, dichotomous way of thinking…has really been harmful…

BE: … It turns out that anything that is called free anything isn't really. It's just constraints that you don't recognise. …

This turns out to be something that happens a lot. Once you've grown to accept something and it becomes part of the system you've inherited, you don't even notice it any longer. We don't even think that not employing children is anti-free market.



HJC: … if you try to create a world in which everything is driven by money and the market, the world will be a much poorer place.

… Human beings' capacity to "waste time" is a miracle – but that's exactly what art is for. …"

BE: It's not only money, it's also other forms of accountability. Look at education in this country. I've just had two daughters go through the system here, and nothing mattered at all, as long as they could get through their A-levels. It doesn't matter if you don't actually understand a word. I could see some of their friends who were good at remembering things, but had no clue at all about what they were talking about, who got A stars.

HJC: In that system, curiosity is actually a great disadvantage. Which means that any creativity gets lost

BE: It's to do with the act of quantification. It's part of the money thing: something that you can put a figure to immediately assumes a sort of authority, even if it doesn't deserve it.

… Quantification is a big temptation for society because it looks like control. …

BE: … Tom Wolfe says something in his book The Painted Word about how four curators, 12 collectors and six critics determine an artist's career. Something like that.

This is why the art world has such incredible inertia, because once those people have invested their highly important opinion in something, they're very unwilling to change it. Whereas if you've bought an album by a band but then you don't like their second one, you just say, fuck it, the second one isn't any good. …

HJC: … we used to call them tempura shop records – it sounded as if someone was deep-frying them.

BE: Nearly everything good starts from imitation.

HJC: It's actually a good illustration of how art can be done in a very non-hierarchical way. The success of this guy, Psy, is because he didn't try to protect his work too much: he let everyone copy and create their own versions. So you have versions with Voldemort from Harry Potter ... my children are hooked on finding Matrix versions. Some are actually brilliant!

BE: It's a brilliant idea to make something that, like a module, can be plugged into any part of the culture.

Culture does change the way we think, just not in the propagandistic way. Art can be a model of how otherwise something could be done. How else it could be? When you see a piece of art, and you think, "Wow, that's wonderful", part of you wants to know, "And how did it get to be that way? Ah, it got to be that way by that mechanism. This is how it's done."

[…]

And very often a work of art is a way of looking at the outcomes of an idea. It's very clear in novels – in fact, the most clear example is in science fiction: you describe a world, and you try to describe how if things were like that, they would turn out. That "what if?" question is a central question that makes human beings successful creatures. We are capable of saying what if this, and what if that, and comparing those outcomes. We love that question, and art is one of the ways we keep rehearsing our ability to answer it.

HJC: It's a great point. The problem is more with the way people think and not the content of it. Human beings are very prone to this black-and-white dichotomous thinking, so if you're a socialist country you allow no market and squash any dissent, if you're a capitalist country you're supposed to – although in fact, many countries don't – you're supposed to put profit and economic growth before any human values. But paradoxically, these two ways of thinking are the same, in the sense that they have this one grand principle to which they are willing to sacrifice everything. This is why when many communists give up communism, they become ardent free-market supporters.

BE: It's a cliche: the ex-Trot.

HJC: I know quite a few ex-Trots who work in the IMF. So if you understand art in the same way Brian does, it gives you the ability to think about alternatives, think about possibilities.

BE: It allows you to think about uncertainty. One of the characteristics of people, whether on the left or the right, is that they can't tolerate uncertainty. They don't want a system with any leaks in it. They want to think they're capable of battening everything down – and if only people would fucking stick to the rules, it would work. When those systems don't work, it's always because, in their opinion, somebody didn't play the game correctly.

HJC: Yes, it's never their principles that are wrong, it's the people who are the problem."

[So much more…]
creativity  tomwolfe  capitalism  socialism  dichotomy  values  pussyriot  games  rules  jacksonpollock  ex-trots  imf  modular  modularity  imitation  gangnamstyle  k-pop  artworld  inertia  culture  us  uk  a-levels  testing  quantification  time-wasting  wastedtime  inbetweeness  ambiguity  gray  grayarea  psy  interviews  conversations  2012  surprise  paradox  architecture  economics  ha-joonchang  politics  philosophy  music  uncertainty  brianeno  art  terryriley  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Being Geek: An interview with Michael Lopp
"One of my favorite things about your work is the notion things are messier than we presume them to be. Do you think technologists are better or worse at dealing with the chaos of the real world than the rest of us?

We’re worse. A lot of the book is based on the idea that geeks are system thinkers which is a result of spending a lot of our careers surrounded by the blissful comfort of predictable machines. These tools have given us a profession and they define our success. Unfortunately, we project this sense of order outward. We believe the world is a rational place that is defined by inviolable rules… which it isn’t.

If you assume that much of this real world chaos is caused by people, technologists are in even worse shape because the solitary internal work of the mind does not traditionally expose us to random people in the wild. When one of these strange people show up at our desk with their odd corporate dialect and hidden agenda, we’re… a little slow."
disconnectedness  disconnect  rules  computing  systems  systemsthinking  technologists  geekthink  disorder  humanity  chaos  human  rationalism  2010  michaellopp  messiness  via:nicolefenton 
october 2012 by robertogreco
[this is aaronland] signs of life [These quotes are only from the beginning. I recommend reading the whole thing.]
"I've been thinking a lot about motive & intent for the last few years. How we recognize motive &… how we measure its consequence.

This is hardly uncharted territory. You can argue easily enough that it remains the core issue that all religion, philosophy & politics struggle with. Motive or trust within a community of individuals.

…Bruce Schneier…writes:

"In today's complex society, we often trust systems more than people. It's not so much that I trusted the plumber at my door as that I trusted the systems that produced him & protect me."

I often find myself thinking about motive & consequence in the form of a very specific question: Who is allowed to speak on behalf of an organization?

To whom do we give not simply the latitude of interpretation, but the luxury of association, with the thing they are talking about …

Institutionalizing or formalizing consequence is often a way to guarantee an investment but that often plows head-first in to the subtlies of real-life."

[Video here: https://vimeo.com/51515289 ]
dunbartribes  schrodinger'sbox  scale  francisfukuyama  capitalism  industrialrevolution  technology  rules  control  algorithms  creepiness  siri  drones  robots  cameras  sensors  robotreadableworld  humans  patterns  patternrecognition  patternmatching  gerhardrichter  robotics  johnpowers  dia:beacon  jonathanwallace  portugal  lisbon  brandjacking  branding  culturalheritage  culture  joannemcneil  jamesbridle  future  politics  philosophy  religion  image  collections  interpretation  representation  complexity  consequences  cooper-hewitt  photography  filters  instagram  flickr  museums  systemsthinking  systems  newaesthetic  voice  risk  bruceschneier  2012  aaronstraupcope  aaron  intent  motive  storiesfromthenewaesthetic  canon 
october 2012 by robertogreco
You know I love a good mystery « Keri Smith
"I received an email from a reader who suggested that “The Rules” by Corita Kent (which I cited a few posts back) was actually written by John Cage. This same reader (who asked to remain anonymous) claims to have seen in person, this list of rules in typewritten copy on the bulletin board at the Cunningham Studio (very cool).

And so there begins a little investigation on my part…"

[See also: http://bavatuesdays.com/were-those-john-cages-rules/ ]
2010  kerismith  attribution  rules  sistercorita  johncage  coritakent  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
Ekstasis: Games We Play
“Games” are about rules, not rewards. Rewards are, maybe, incentives we use to get people playing, but its clear they aren’t necessary. Rule-creation and the simple act of rule-following (the act of simple-rule-following) are all that’s required and such systems occur everywhere. See Calvinball and Nomic, a favorite of Hofstadter, or Wittgenstein’s long list of language game manifestations in his Philosophical Investigations: 

Giving orders, and obeying them—

Describing the appearance of an object, or giving its measurements

Constructing an object from a description (a drawing)—

Reporting an event—

Speculating about an event—

[…]

Forming and testing a hypothesis—

Presenting the results of an experiment in tables and diagrams—

Making up a story; and reading it—

Play-acting—

Singing catches—

Guessing riddles—

Making a joke; telling it—

Solving a problem in practical arithmetic—

Translating from one language into another—

Asking, thanking, cursing, greeting, praying…"

[See also: http://kottke.org/12/08/the-little-games-we-play ]
motivation  incentives  philosophy  gaming  srg  edg  glvo  howweplay  wittgenstein  rules  2012  calvinball  nomic  play  games  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
NCR PUZZLE: Terra Incognita
"A puzzle completed only in the player’s imagination. Conceived by the @Demilit collaborative for the New City Reader’s Istanbul Design Biennial 2012 edition, issue no. 3."

"Puzzles begin with placing the first piece. Take the plunge. Play a game. Enter Terra Incognita.

Start an infinite geographical puzzle. Explore your routine world in a way you wouldn’t even recognize. Study your city to discover something you had never imagined. Every piece of Terra Incognita you create can be the seed for a new puzzle or the newest addition to an expanding one.

TERRA INCOGNITA (TI) is played to cipher and decipher a city."

"There is only one rule: All play must be to keep the puzzle in play!"
puzzles  mapping  maps  rules  cv  collaboration  urbanism  urban  cities  play  games  instanbuldesignbiennial  newcityreader  2012  demilit  javierarbona  terraincognita  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
naffidy: Andrea Zittel -----"These things I know for sure"
"1. It is a human trait to organize things into categories. Inventing categories creates an illusion that there is an overriding rationale in the way that the word works.

2. Surfaces that are "easy to clean" also show dirt more. In reality a surface that camouflages dirt is much more practical than one that is easy to clean.

3. Maintenance takes time and energy that can sometimes impede other forms or progress such as learning about new things.

4. All materials ultimately deteriorate and show signs of wear. It is therefore important to create designs that will look better after years of distress.

5. A perfect filling system can sometimes decrease efficiency. For instance, when letters and bills are filed away too quickly, it is easy to forget to respond to them.

6. Many "progressive" designs actually hark back towards a lost idea of nature or a more "original form."

7. Ambiguity in visual design ultimately leads to a greater variety of functions than designs that are functionally fixed.

8. No matter how many options there are, it is human nature to always narrow things down to two polar, yet inextricably linked choices.

9. The creation of rules is more creative than the destruction of them. Creation demands a higher level of reasoning and draws connections between cause and effect. The best rules are never stable or permanent, but evolve, naturally according to content or need.

10. What makes us feel liberated is not total freedom, but rather living in a set of limitations that we have created and prescribed for ourselves.

11. Things that we think are liberating can ultimately become restrictive, and things that we initially think are controlling can sometimes give us a sense of comfort and security.

12. Ideas seem to gestate best in a void--- when that void is filled, it is more difficult to access them. In our consumption-driven society, almost all voids are filled, blocking moments of greater clarity and creativity. Things that block voids are called "avoids."

13. Sometimes if you can't change a situation, you just have to change the way you think about the situation.

14. People are most happy when they are moving towards something not quite yet attained (I also wonder if this extends as well to the sensation of physical motion in space. I believe that I am happier when I am in a plane or car because I am moving towards an identifiable and attainable goal.)

15. What you own, owns you.

16. Personal truths are often perceived as universal truths. For instance it is easy to imagine that a system or design works well for oneself will work for everyone else."

[Also (only 1-14) printed here: http://books.google.com/books/about/Andrea_Zittel.html?id=-uZiQgAACAAJ ]
andreazittel  criticalspace  progressive  human  humans  sorting  dichotomy  dichotomies  categorization  patternfinding  patterns  generalizations  generalization  surfaces  maintenance  time  art  learning  filingsystems  design  rules  constraints  personaltruths  universaltruths  truths  happiness  movement  progress  attainability  goals  perspective  comfort  security  clarity  creativity  freedom  creation  choice  polarization  ambiguity  function 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Games in the street « Snarkmarket
"We didn’t play stickball out in the second-ring suburbs of Detroit, but we did play with sticks. We ran in the street until dark and we built forts in the mud down by the creek. Most importantly, we made up new games on the spot.

That’s just about my favorite thing about kids: their willingness to transform anything, instantly, at any time, into a game. And I do mean a game: a system with rules. It can be as simple as I slap your knee, you slap mine but it’s a game.

I was lucky to fall in with a neotenous crew in college, and we spent long afternoons inventing games at Michigan State, too: coming up with new configurations of ground and body and frisbee out on the big quad around the clock tower.

Anyway, Spike Lee shouldn’t lament cocolevio (?!) because it’s in the nature of kids’ culture to change, eventually beyond recognition, but I’m with him when it comes to games in the street. I’m sure there are still some kids playing this way in Cobble Hill, but definitely not as many as before. I mean, there’s just no way, right? There are so many other games already invented for them now—all these other games waiting indoors on bright screens big and small.

Stickball never looked like much fun to me, but you can carry a stick into a sword battle, too. Those were more our style. And at a certain time of day, with the sun low in the sky, a neat lawn could truly become a battlefield. You got tired after just a few tussles, really desperately tired, and maybe your knuckles got a little bloody too, but you had to keep going, had to keep fighting—at least until your mom called you home for dinner.

Snarkmatrix, you know me: I am not a Luddite (no way) and not a techno-triumphalist, either. So I hope you’ll take it not as a nostalgic yawlp but rather a considered statement about the nature of the mind and the body when I say: Raw unselfconscious imagination is the best graphics engine that has ever existed, and the street will forever be the arena in which all the best games are played."
snarkmarket  play  games  neoteny  comments  edg  srg  minecraft  sticks  children  creativity  spikelee  imagination  cocolevio  stickball  rules  robinsloan  2012  brooklyn  interviews  timcarmody 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Nine Dangerous Things You Were Taught In School - Forbes
"1. The people in charge have all the answers…

2. Learning ends when you leave the classroom…

3. The best and brightest follow the rules. You will be rewarded for your subordination, just not as much as your superiors, who, of course, have their own rules.

4. What the books say is always true…

5. There is a very clear, single path to success…called college. Everyone can join the top 1% if they do well enough in school & ignore the basic math problem inherent in that idea.

6. Behaving yourself is as important as getting good marks.
Whistle-blowing, questioning the status quo, & thinking your own thoughts are no-nos. Be quiet & get back on the assembly line.

7. Standardized tests measure your value…

8. Days off are always more fun than sitting in the classroom.
You're trained from a young age to base your life around dribbles of allocated vacation…

9. The purpose of your education is your future career.
And so you will be taught to be a good worker…"
lcproject  statusquo  rules  conformity  2012  jessicahagy  schooliness  schools  success  hierarchy  information  standardizedtesting  grading  grades  subordination  myths  tcsnmy  education  deschooling  unschooling  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
Building Our Community: The Constitution
"Our first step in coming together as a middle school community required everyone involved. As an entire middle school of fifth, sixth, eighth graders, and teachers, we gathered together and developed a constitution where every student had the opportunity to contribute their ideas to what they believed the middle school experience should look and feel like. Over the course of two weeks, we met in mixed groups, grade-levels, and lunch hours. Students came together to discuss their values within their learning environments, and what they seek out from their peers on a daily basis in the name of quality learning. Students were not always in agreement, and there were arguments and frustrations shared. It was overwhelming. How simple it could have been to just decide upon rules as adults and make kids follow them. It certainly was not what works best for our students, regardless of the community they belong to…"
2012  empowerment  howwelearn  cv  community  philosophy  education  rules  constitution  schools  learning  teaching  tcsnmy  elizabethkowba  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco
Sorry, there's no such thing as 'correct grammar' | Michael Rosen | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
Many people yearn for correctness & this is expressed in the phrase "standard English". The honourable side to this is that it offers a common means of exchange. However, this leads many people to imagine that because it is called standard, it is run by rules & that these rules are fixed… In fact, there is no agreed list, a good deal of what we say and write keeps changing and nothing is enforceable. Instead, language is owned and controlled by everybody and what we do with it seems to be governed by various kinds of consent, operating through the social groups of our lives. Social groups in society don't swim about in some kind of harmonious melting pot. We rub against each other from very different and opposing positions, so why we should agree about language use and the means of describing it is beyond me.

…This is not a neutral activity. It is part of how a certain caste of people have staked a claim over literacy."
paradigmwars  society  elitism  power  colonization  colonialism  language  communication  standardization  rules  class  literacy  2012  michaelrosen  dialect  education  english  grammar  castes  via:litherland  from delicious
march 2012 by robertogreco
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