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In this episode in the educational series, we are introduced to the new federally mandated computer class in the fourth grade of Cheney Elementary School. Principal Laura Cummings; the recently outsourced computer instructor Gerry Shillencamp; the precocious Haruka Kawauchi; and that rascal Tommy — combine all their madcap efforts to get through a new day at school.
Featuring original presentations staged through the efforts of The Cyborg Players — a somewhat stiff group of actors overcoming their synthetic voices’ limitations to deliver their unique brand of human irony. Continue reading →
On this morning’s broadcast of the same radio program from which the previous post was excerpted, I had another opportunity to ask Noam Chomsky a question. Although I sort of take issue with his estimation that Ivan Illich’s observations concerning Energy and Equity take a back seat to the “suicide pact” of capitalism, or “lemmings walking off a cliff” as Chomsky puts it, he’s probably right in a certain empirical sense. (I wonder if he does parties?) Still, I think a thorough understanding of Illich’s observations of the sociological impacts of energy policy and use merit a wider audience, particularly among those obligated to further study these complex issues as stakeholders in our future (read: everyone).
This morning I had the opportunity to talk to Noam Chomsky on the telephone. Professor Chomsky was the guest on Bob McChesney’s fine radio program Media Matters on WILL-AM580, located on the campus of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
I much appreciate the efforts of these two gentlemen regarding their respective observations and calls for greater equity in the various institutions of our society. Nonetheless, what I often find irksome is the fact that people feeding at the trough of higher education are often reticent to speak to the current state of higher education; specifically, how higher education’s machinations might engender greater or lesser equity. Well, today I had the chance to pose that question to one of America’s more outspoken critics. I gotta say that Noam Chomsky didn’t disappoint. Whereas many academically tethered analysts — speaking to issues of inequity — will sidestep around what is increasingly coming to resemble a particularly mendacious elephant in the room, Prof. Chomsky addressed the issue in a way that…well, that’s why he’s Noam Chomsky.
Why is it that protests on Wall Street and elsewhere — denouncing corporate greed and perverse distribution of wealth, and the attendant corruption of our institutions — why don’t we recognize energy policies and energy’s absolute relevance to inequity? (Indeed, amassing capital essentially correlates to determining energy policy.)
But do you really think this is primarily about class struggle? When we toss the capitalists out, who exactly are we going to bring in to assist in managing this clusterfuck we call our society? Some good old anti-capitalist professionals? Maybe even some young ones?
Well, did you ever consider the inequity and degradation that necessarily result from a high-energy consumption economy? Forget capitalist or socialist. Think: society gorging itself on energy actually deprives and frustrates the hell out of us.
Significantly, in this mostly unacknowledged aspect of quanta of energy as it correlates to inequity, the actual source of energy is irrelevant; whether it be petroleum, nuke plants, the “clean” energies of wind and solar, the hoped-for magnificent new battery; maybe even cheap plentiful energy gushing from used kitty litter, or some other techno-splendorous future development.
KMO is a guy who has recorded nearly 300 podcasts called C-Realm Podcast. Of the dozen or so that I’ve listened to, they have been dialogs both edifying and entertaining, along with consistently grooving music. One can’t help but observe that, in these fragmented times, and of corrupted institutions, such discussions are a very healthy part of how we might go about educating ourselves about our rapidly transforming culture. In any case, I appreciate KMO’s efforts to further awareness of the people and ideas that he explores on the C-Realm Podcast. The following comment is one that I sent in after listening to a talk he had with author and neo-druid, John Michael Greer. Their discussion revolved around Greer’s study of the meme of impending apocalypse and of its varying mythologies throughout the ages. While at once I take comfort in the fact that, historically, the true believers in our coming doom have mostly been misguided; the discussion seemingly had a glaring omission worthy of note:
As a sort of dovetail to my last post which explored why networks might lead to sickness, but more importantly, for anyone concerned about their communities, families — their children — and the reasons and possible solutions for a society that has dropped the ball in regards to its present and future wellness; this guy, Dr. Gabor Maté, was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. In the interview, Dr. Maté breaks it down — in regards to parenting, substance abuse (pharmaceuticals and others), education, electronic media, and otherwise, in a way that is both…astanding and outstounding (you know what I mean).
Suffice to say, it’s well worth listening to. As the following link is a Realplayer audio file, it should stream just fine, even to those backwater dial-up types (i.e. those not on speed):
Hey Darren! Did you leave anything out in your last rap about networks versus the richness and complexity of real community interaction?
I’m glad you asked, because one thing I failed to mention in my last post is that FaceBook, blogs, and other forums that operate in the guise of community interaction are unable to, as John Taylor Gatto puts it, “nourish their members emotionally”.
While networks are generally extremely rational, illusion unfolds from ignorance of the fact that, as Gatto goes on to say: “At our best we human beings are much, much grander than merely rational; at our best we transcend rationality while incorporating its procedures into our lower levels of functioning.“
To be sure, networks can be super efficient and convenient at specific and sometimes necessary tasks. However, I’m more concerned about the absurdity of displacing interpersonal, community, and educational relationships with networks that perpetuate an illusion. Continue reading →
Today’s post borrows more of John Taylor Gatto’s ideas — in particular his summation of the profound difference between networks and community and how recognition of these differences is pretty important in the efforts at bettering our children’s education — or more broadly: in sensibly developing our community’s well-being.
The people who have come to staff schools are often fond of networking. Professional educators readily embrace the positive attributes of networks. Seemingly however, they are often unaware of the sapping of family and community vitality that such mechanization can induce.
Automations and routines can very well squelch human tendency; dehumanize by any other name.
And to the contrary, participation — as fully human — in complex human affairs — is what makes us fully human. Continue reading →
Okay. You’re on the bandstand. You’re slugging out some jazz best you can, all the time trying to avoid what has been termed jazz wank. Sure, you’ve consulted your fake book many times; the irony is not lost on you as you pluck note after note in your desperate attempt to elude being identified too strongly with the term: fake. Continue reading →
John Taylor Gatto is a former teacher in the New York city public school system. I don’t know his story in great detail but what I do know is that he wrote a book called Dumbing Us Down and in the book he makes some very good observations regarding public education and its hidden curriculum. In short, Gatto, through some thirty years of award-winning teaching (New York State Teacher of the Year), analyzes the harmful results of the rituals and mythologies of modern compulsory schooling.
With such a brief introduction, I’m doing a disservice to John Gatto’s very sensible teaching about learning. Nonetheless, what I want to post here is a summation of a talk of his that I heard recently. Basically, he was talking about the elite college preparatory schools (that most of the people elected to high political office have attended) and the qualities in the curriculum of these schools.
More importantly, if you want to pursue a good education for yourself, or if you want your child to learn from such methods — through homeschooling or whatever — here are 14 educational principles that these high quality schools recognize as components of a top-notch education: Continue reading →
The issue of licensing of “professionals” has com has come up in the current Hawaii legislative session. The estimable blogger and activist Larry Geller is advocating for the defeat of proposed legislation that would do away with professional licensing for several professions. By extension, the respective state licensing boards would cease to exist — with the aim of consequently eliminating the budgeting for these publicly-funded boards (i.e. reduce state spending).
I have no doubt that Larry has good intentions in sounding a cautionary note as to why these licensing processes should continue. I can also empathize with Larry’s particular regard for marriage and family therapists losing professional certification — and with it the ability to bill “third party” (insurance companies and such) for their services — while counselors bearing the title “psychologist” retain the ability to be compensated by third parties.
Still, equating professional licensing — certification — of such professionals, with “consumer protection” takes on a certain mendacious odor that I think merits further scrutiny. continued here..