Education for Non-Dummies

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 “Education for Non-Dummies”


“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Professional Protection!”

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.
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Les Paul and a Teenage Love Affair

gibson_les_paul (10)

A twelve year-old kid sneaks into his older brother’s room down in the basement.

In an immaculate black tolex-covered guitar case resting on the floor lays the object of his fascination.

Confident that his oldest sibling is out of the house for the time being, he unbuckles the case and as usual forgets to open the rear-side buckle of the sturdy case bearing the logo: Gibson. The gleam of gold delights his curious eye. Inside lay an instrument of a nature derived from what had been the stuff of hearsay: photographs, television …record albums.

Case fully open, the boy gazes upon the object: a wine red triple pick-up Gibson solidbody guitar, complete with gold-plated hardware. It sits there snugly in its pink velvet-lined case, as if to suggest…Boy, do you have ANY idea of what I am? I mean…look at me for chrissakes! Do you have any idea whatsoever…of what to do with one as well-crafted as me? Close my case right now you little punk! You’re in new waters and you don’t even have a compass…

Continue reading “Les Paul and a Teenage Love Affair”

Scatological Hope

A colleague from where I teach sent me an article written by one of his former colleagues. The article: Note to Educators: Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete by Jeffrey M. R. Duncan-Andrade, appears in the summer 2009 edition of the Harvard Educational Review.

It opens with this quote from Paulo Freire:

“The idea that hope alone will transform the world, and action undertaken in that kind of naïveté, is an excellent route to hopelessness, pessimism, and fatalism. But the attempt to do without hope, in the struggle to improve the world, as if that struggle could be reduced to calculated acts alone, or a purely scientific approach, is a frivolous illusion.”

The piece then goes on to identify what Duncan-Andrade terms, enemies of hopeand “false hope” namely: Hokey Hope, Mythical Hope, and Hope Deferred.

Eventually, the author identifies Critical Hope as the true hope that is crucial for the betterment of lives of urban youth — inner city young people inhabiting what he terms “socially toxic environments“.

A metaphorical vehicle for the thesis stems from a quote by Tupac Shakur whereby young people, transcending such obstacles, are like that of “roses that grow from concrete” — and a perfectly fine metaphor it is for lives overcoming the obstacles of concrete, analogized as, “one of the worst imaginable surfaces in which to grow, devoid of essential nutrients and frequently contaminated by pollutants.”

Nonetheless, a glaring omission from Duncan-Andrade’s analysis is educational technology’s mix in the concrete — concrete through which Duncan-Andrade suggests we encourage cracks through “the quality of our teaching, along with the resources and networks we connect our students to.” continued here

Mundane Rubbish

I drive some five miles to get to the Volcano highway — pretty much the same route, in and out. You become quite familiar with most aspects of the road — bumps here, houses there. Naturally on this recurring drive out of the subdivision you notice whatever might hold out the possibility for surprise — like the guy building his rock wall, or that new addition, hitchhikers, whatever. Alan Watts said that if our computers (and we didn’t even have computers in his day) had to be reduced down to one last key that we’d still want to push, it’d be the one labeled with the tantalizing word: surprise.

So you drive out to the highway, looking for some surprise… click here for a big surprise continuation!

Commie Radio Coming Soon?

This post sort of began as a comment to Big Island Chronicle and a discussion concerning fast food businesses coming to the entry of Pahoa, Hawaii, a truly …unique village in the lower Puna district on Hawai’i Island. A fellow, Mike Middlesworth, writes this comment at the tail-end of a good discussion:

All of this begs the real question:

If local businesses are so much better, why don’t more people shop at them so they can succeed?

Why are WalMart, Target, Costco, McDonalds, Longs, etc. so successful?

Could it be it’s because they offer things more people want at good prices?

Isn’t that what Free Enterprise is all about?

In this instance of degradation of a community’s natural heritage in the name of “free enterprise” perhaps the real question is:

Should capitalism be regulated (by gov’t) such that the public good of a community is dominantly expressed politically, to determine pono (righteous) policy?

An old rivalry: private property vs. public (democratic) government. Click here to see the scorecard!

Antipodes for Anthropoids

Some fifteen years into the Internet’s emergence onto our lives, we are informing and being informed at a rate that was inconceivable prior to our connection to this digital network. As kids growing up in the seventies we fantasized about the all-knowing, all-powerful computer to which we’d just inquire for answers to pretty much everything.

So now we’ve thoroughly inquired of the great machine. Some have tried to engage it sexually, if not just find a date. Others have practiced varieties of digital alchemy whereby cleverly programmed computer code, or portals established for gathering yet more information, has led to untold riches if not merely new strategies for paying the rent. Antipodes for Anthropoids continued here

How You Gonna Act?

No one is about to deny that our way of life, particularly from an economic standpoint is, at best, currently in a sort of holding pattern. At worst, many are in a real hurtbag — foreclosure, lost job — the spigot for money has slowed to a pathetic trickle — the water is murky — no one really knows the size and weight of the dominoes in play. (A little bit of that ancient and current literary genre: doom porn, but can not help.)

And yet, as a nation that has feasted on the planet’s wealth for the past sixty years or so (in addition to the prouder American tradition of actually producing wealth), we have a store of resources, both human and material, that is certainly in our favor. cont’d here

Vernacular Volcano Lanai Music

Homebred — Homespun — Homegrown — Homemade

The word vernacular refers to a way of being, doing, and making that is community and self-reliant, as opposed to formal exchange and/or from vertical distribution — produced and transported from elsewhere. It’s about reciprocity patterns as integral to all aspects of life.

Six Musicians

Tomas Belsky Six Musicians

Obviously, traditional native Hawaiian culture has much to instruct on such ways.

I bring up this word vernacular because it speaks to the activities of people that are not motivated by thoughts of exchange. Vernacular refers to autonomous, non-market related actions through which people satisfy everyday needs — beyond bureaucratic or corporate management. In this vernacular mode, satisfying of our needs in turn shapes these actions in a sort of feedback cycle that likewise elevates our satisfaction. Try that next time you plop down for your Super Big Gulp Slurpee™!

All right, all right.. What I started out to do is to note that yesterday I had the pleasure to once again go kani ka pila with my friend Wes Awana, on Wes and Nancy’s back lanai up in Volcano. We were fortunate to have Kahele Miura join us for our little jam. I say jam — we’ve been couching this in terms of rehearsal for a certain bi-cultural semi-enigmatic alternative-tourism-visionary and a gig he’s throwing our way. Me, I just always enjoy playing tunes with these guys. click here to listen

So Much More Than Mai Tais

I first learned of the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s (HTA) sponsoring of a group of eight mainland internet entrepreneurs, dubbed: So Much More Hawaii through local media impresario Damon Tucker’s blog. (Damon really wants to down some Mai Tais with these folks. “Hey everyone! I’ll twitter for the next round! Oops! my dang cell phone is stuck!”)

Apparently, the idea is for these folks to tour the islands whilst blogging away in their respective “vertical niche markets” : convention biz, blog talk-radio, travel; both family and solo, food, and so on.

Sounds like a great gig to me.

All kidding aside, the HTA sponsoring of these savvy social media marketers, to have a good time and broaden their bloggees’ online understanding of the “real Hawaii”, could be viewed in various ways. And yes, the Hawaii Tourism Authority is in the business of generating tax revenue and tourism money.

Well, that’s part of their objective anyway. The other goals of the HTA are what you might call of a social, cultural, and environmental nature. click here to read the rest of the story

Seven Hawaiian Songs

Here are seven Hawaiian songs that Wes Awana, Kahele Miura, and myself played up in Volcano the other day. This is actually a rehearsal for a later gig. As such, be forewarned, they ain’t polished into fine art — more like rough-hewn chunks of lava. (And the occasional digital distortion on these recordings is about as smooth as said chunks!) Nevertheless, it is a blast to play with these guys, and the older I get, the more I see that mental flaws are about as essential as dental floss. click here to listen

Interview: Greg Henkel of Punatoons

The Maku’u Market is held every Sunday from about 9am until 2pm in lower Puna. The place seems to be burgeoning. Anyway, aside from getting down the mountain to score some good veggies, lunch, and to generally enjoy the diverse crowd that comprises the market, today’s trip had the added excitement of stopping by to meet Greg Henkel. Greg has a stall at the market (E-6) where he sells some very tastefully sandblasted tiles among other things.

Greg also has started a sort of cartoon-blog called Punatoons. He has gone in for the caption-contest paradigm, which as a writer I find hard to resist. It’s like being able to reach your audience in a most stream-lined way. Moby Dick? War and Peace? — forget it, but give me a picture that someone wants to add some resonant words to and I’m all over that.. click here to continue

Follow Marshall McLuhan on Twitter!

Hey! Isn’t that numbnuts staring at his reflection again?

--some Greek person 

(The following ideas are largely borrowed from an essay by Marshall McLuhan entitled: The Gadget Lover: Narcissus as Narcosis, appearing as Chapter 4 of his book: Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1st Ed. McGraw Hill, NY, 1964; reissued MIT Press, 1994, with introduction by Lewis H. Lapham; reissued by Gingko Press, 2003 ISBN 1-58423-073-8). Likewise, McLuhan interprets the ideas of medical researchers Hans Selye and Adolphe Jonas, Lewis Mumford, and William Blake — He also said the Virgin Mary provided intellectual guidance — and if you can’t borrow from her, who can ya?)

Narcissus comes from the Greek word narcosis, or numbness.

Narcissus did not actually fall in love with himself, contrary to popular interpretation.

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Interview: Richard Ha of Hamakua Springs

This morning I drove down to the Kino’ole Farmers Market to pick up a box of fresh produce from Hamakua Springs Country Farms in Pepe‘ekeo. My caption was selected as one of the three winning captions in Hamakua Springs’ caption contest which appeared on their website, Ha Ha Ha!

Richard assures Darren that his best salad days are ahead of him.
Richard assures Darren that his best salad days are ahead of him..

In addition to awarding me a box of the finest of salad greens, cucumbers, green onions, and tomatoes; Richard Ha, president of Hamakua Springs Country Farms, graciously took the time to talk about Hamakua Springs and express his views on the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP), food sustainability, genetically modified organisms (GMO), and bio-fuels:

Interview w/Richard Ha, 64kbps, 5 minutes

And to the other two contest winners: lettuce enjoy our Hamakua Springs veggies!

(dang, should’ve quit while I was ahead..)

Mahalo to Richard and the folks at Hamakua Springs Country Farms.