Networks, Community, and Early Childhood Education

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

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

Reply to: Ben Markus – HPR News

Aloha Ben,

Thanks for your prompt reply. I’d only feel right if I sent along the
URL to a little ditty I wrote about said piece. I hope you will take
any polemical vibe as in the name of healthy dialectical policy
debate.

I do quite enjoy your work on HPR and hope you get a chance to read it:

[see previous: Preschool and The Great Training Robbery]

Mahalo,

Darren

Submitted on 2009/02/25 at 11:49pm
Ben Markus – HPR News

Ah, the blogosphere. A place where anybody can say anything–generally without decency.

For you to insinuate that Hawaii Public Radio is in the pocket of preschool educators is ridiculous. And to question the financial support of a station that’s trying to provoke healthy debate on issues surrounding education because you don’t agree with an aspect of one story is a disservice to the community. continued here

Superintendent Hamamoto’s Shameful Strategy

The State of Hawaii Department of Education, led by Superintendent Pat Hamamoto, is seeking the power to replace teachers, principals, and staff at some campuses that have been failing the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. The state legislative proposal would allow the Hawaii DOE to intervene at public schools deemed deficient in achieving academic standards established by the controversial No Child Left Behind federal legislation.

Hamamoto and the DOE suggest that the best strategy for ensuring that Hawaii’s children “achieve standards” in reading and math might be to just terminate the employment of principals, teachers and staff at targeted schools. Furthermore, Hamamoto is suggesting that legislation be adopted to facilitate replacing these removed employees by hiring private agencies to manage this process: the road to public school privatization.

As public taxpayers and community members entrusting our public school officials with our keiki and their learning, we are obligated to take a careful, well-informed look at what is going on here: Continue reading

Blogzilla Versus The Community

The term blog is rather absurd. To be sure, that is what we are going with and it would be more absurd yet to try and start a movement to redefine terms for the world wide web.

So for the sake of pragmatism let’s at least take a look at why blog is perhaps lacking in clear definition.

To blog means to have a unique location where anyone can experience how you, the blogger, have chosen to participate in the arrangement of digitally reproduced content on the internet.

A type of befuddlement has also emerged with this digital technology. This can be attributed to the equally emerging illusory aspect of digital media. Our so-called “blogging community” in Hawaii suffers from this digitally created veil that hangs upon the eyes of an organic community of real people, responding to this current and increasingly dominant digital content. Continue reading

Island Notes’ Year-End Blog Slog

Well, it’s been about two months since I first..blogged.

(Do we really have to go with the terms, “blog”, “blogging”, “blogosphere” and such? Sounds more like a turd for chrissakes, or maybe one of those cheese logs covered in slivered nuts–don’t sound much like something you’d really go out of your way to get a load of. What happened to our old standby, “writing” ? I mean, how would it sound if we took some other creative pursuit with an ancient history and a perfectly fine name, say “painting”, and now, on the internet we’re gonna start calling it “pixelblow” or some such computer-generated nonsense? Anyway being that I ain’t the one who gets to decide these things, I’ll just get on with my..blog-posting.)
Continue reading

Weasels Pimped My Kid …She’s goin’ to Harvard!

education-imagePahoa High & Intermediate School (Hawaii), as one of the thirty first-prize schools “winning” Samsung’s fifth-annual Hope for Education essay contest, will receive more than $60,000 in technology, software, cash grants and educational television programming packages. Samsung (with Microsoft Corporation and DIRECTV) posed the question, “How has technology educated you on helping the environment and how or why has it changed your behavior to be more environmentally friendly?” As of this posting, the actual content of the winning essays is unavailable, however the take of these “good corporate citizens” is available at: BusinessWire.com, a Berkshire Hathaway Company.


If I have to see another seven year-old child gleefully smiling at a computer screen, I think I’m gonna puke. Continue reading

The Cost of Obama’s School Computer Plan

Our children’s lives have become mired in a world placing disproportionate emphasis on global economic considerations.

While economics and material goods are indeed necessary for securing the immediate needs for our survival, excessive energies have gone into the institutional programming and marketing of activities that were previously peoples’ innate experience of belonging to a healthy human community. Continue reading

School Reform and the Nature of Learning

Knowledge is only considered a commodity if seen as a result of an institution’s goals, economic and otherwise. Knowledge is NOT a commodity.

Costly and ineffective systems of education can be changed to better serve our communities if we take back personal responsibility for what we learn and teach. A teacher who risks interfering in another’s life takes responsibility for the results and a student who takes on influence of a teacher takes on responsibility for his/her own education.

Reformed schools become facility centers providing a roof and appropriate learning tools (those tools which provide each person the ability to understand their environment better and to shape it with their own hands with full intercommunication).

School reform demands the denial of professional status to teaching. Certification of teachers constitutes undue restriction upon rights of free speech.

Constitutional freedoms lay at the heart of this readjustment of community.

Learning as a natural and meaningful act among humans must be preserved through recognition of this freedom.

makekaieditTomas Belsky

Why Participate?

Ideally, elected officials represent our concerns. More often, lobbyists promote policy furthering their beneficiaries’ special agendas, often at great harm to the public good. In this way, government has been gradually and systematically transformed from that of democracy to government primarily serving special interests, often contrary to community concerns.

Political discussion has been mutated to fit within the corporate media aim of keeping citizens’ political participation limited to that of chumps. These and other powerful institutions wield pervasive influence – attempting to engineer people’s sole participation into one of mere consumption.

People upholding the freedom to use their competence depend on informed community participation much more than manipulative institutional agendas. Not participating in the decision making of our community, state, nation, and planet means that others determine how we live.

Island Notes supports communities living, working, and participating in healthy sustainable ways. Drop a line if you have policy concerns you’d like to share. If these concerns are made available to other folks, any number of beneficial connections may result from getting the word out.

gooseroof

Island Notes is just being hatched. At this point, connecting with like-minded folks is the thing. The details, technical and otherwise, will emerge as discussions develop. Mahalo.

Tomas Belsky: You Goose Fukha My Goose na Roof!

When Corporations Educate Our Children

While our public schools may sometimes be less than effective in teaching our children, corporate profit motives have a much more ulterior and exploitive interest in what our children do at school.

Community health, joy, and empowerment are much more beneficial to a community than to corporation shareholders. A strong and healthy community is somewhat of a threat to outside managers, marketing propagandists, and their bottom lines. Humanity and our connections to one another are part of the public good and are often in conflict with heavily marketed standards of academic progress and prescriptions for achieving such standards. As such, from a blunt corporate strategic perspective, your child’s learning ought not happen in inherently human-centered ways lest corporate profits diminish.

Large corporations lobby the government and essentially pass legislation (such as No Child Left Behind) that define standards best suited to their own agendas. Furthermore, these now government supported “standards” are “achieved” through tests that the very same companies promote and sell. Progress in humanity-based learning such as critical thinking, motor-skills development, creative arts, and in the active literacy components of writing and speaking, are devalued.

Money devalues what it can not measure.

Learning depends on good teachers and a healthy community. However, corporations profit from technocratic educators and the data processing of test scores, etc. As such, large publicly funded institutions have also become co-opted to produce professional educators given the exclusive right to teach as long as they uphold, conciously or not, this corrupt agenda.

Does anybody smell a rat here?

The Hawaii DOE superintendent says, “Our mission is to see that students have the knowledge and skills to be successful adults.” As taxpayers paying for this “mission”, we as a community rather than private business should be determining what defines a successful adult.

These are typical ways that corporations make big money in this post-industrial era. They define what the “needs” of the citizenry are; then they sell you the “remedy”. Such exploitation happens when the public good, such as clean air, clean water, and various other forms of community wellness, including good schools and good teachers, are “appropriated” by corporations. Thus, the humane benefits of what was formerly a healthy community are squashed out to satisfy the inherent greed and impersonality of a corporation.

A better use of our public monies would be to support our communities’ efforts at teaching our children, using technologies and methods appropriate for those communities.

The current system has grown out of a belief that a global market economy is ultimately the only way to manage lives in the communities on this earth. Apparent to many of us is the reality that economic consideration placed above community health leads to tragic exploitation of any people or environments connected with values beyond that of money.

Public citizenry paying taxes that support education have every right to have a say in who is allowed to teach in our public schools and in what manner.

Perhaps our public schools are indeed less than ideal. However, rather than relinquishing the chance to participate in school decision-making, it’s time to see this exploitation-from-afar for what it is and to declare our right to make decisions locally.


Courtney Carroll : Schooling