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Andrew McCluskey

Occupy Your Brain - 111 views

  • One of the most profound changes that occurs when modern schooling is introduced into traditional societies around the world is a radical shift in the locus of power and control over learning from children, families, and communities to ever more centralized systems of authority.
  • Once learning is institutionalized under a central authority, both freedom for the individual and respect for the local are radically curtailed.  The child in a classroom generally finds herself in a situation where she may not move, speak, laugh, sing, eat, drink, read, think her own thoughts, or even  use the toilet without explicit permission from an authority figure.
  • In what should be considered a chilling development, there are murmurings of the idea of creating global standards for education – in other words, the creation of a single centralized authority dictating what every child on the planet must learn.
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  • In “developed” societies, we are so accustomed to centralized control over learning that it has become functionally invisible to us, and most people accept it as natural, inevitable, and consistent with the principles of freedom and democracy.   We assume that this central authority, because it is associated with something that seems like an unequivocal good – “education” – must itself be fundamentally good, a sort of benevolent dictatorship of the intellect. 
  • We endorse strict legal codes which render this process compulsory, and in a truly Orwellian twist, many of us now view it as a fundamental human right to be legally compelled to learn what a higher authority tells us to learn.
  • And yet the idea of centrally-controlled education is as problematic as the idea of centrally-controlled media – and for exactly the same reasons.
  • The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was designed to protect all forms of communication, information-sharing, knowledge, opinion and belief – what the Supreme Court has termed “the sphere of intellect and spirit” – from government control.
  • by the mid-19th century, with Indians still to conquer and waves of immigrants to assimilate, the temptation to find a way to manage the minds of an increasingly diverse and independent-minded population became too great to resist, and the idea of the Common School was born.
  • We would keep our freedom of speech and press, but first we would all be well-schooled by those in power.
  • A deeply democratic idea — the free and equal education of every child — was wedded to a deeply anti-democratic idea — that this education would be controlled from the top down by state-appointed educrats.
  • The fundamental point of the Occupy Wall Street movement is that the apparatus of democratic government has been completely bought and paid for by a tiny number of grotesquely wealthy individuals, corporations, and lobbying groups.  Our votes no longer matter.  Our wishes no longer count.  Our power as citizens has been sold to the highest bidder.
  • Our kids are so drowned in disconnected information that it becomes quite random what they do and don’t remember, and they’re so overburdened with endless homework and tests that they have little time or energy to pay attention to what’s happening in the world around them.
  • If in ten years we can create Wikipedia out of thin air, what could we create if we trusted our children, our teachers, our parents, our neighbors, to generate community learning webs that are open, alive, and responsive to individual needs and aspirations?  What could we create if instead of trying to “scale up” every innovation into a monolithic bureaucracy we “scaled down” to allow local and individual control, freedom, experimentation, and diversity?
  • The most academically “gifted” students excel at obedience, instinctively shaping their thinking to the prescribed curriculum and unconsciously framing out of their awareness ideas that won’t earn the praise of their superiors.  Those who resist sitting still for this process are marginalized, labeled as less intelligent or even as mildly brain-damaged, and, increasingly, drugged into compliance.
  • the very root, the very essence, of any theory of democratic liberty is a basic trust in the fundamental intelligence of the ordinary person.   Democracy rests on the premise that the ordinary person — the waitress, the carpenter, the shopkeeper — is competent to make her own judgments about matters of domestic policy, international affairs, taxes, justice, peace, and war, and that the government must abide by the decisions of ordinary people, not vice versa.  Of course that’s not the way our system really works, and never has been.   But most of us recall at some deep level of our beings that any vision of a just world relies on this fundamental respect for the common sense of the ordinary human being.
  • This is what we spend our childhood in school unlearning. 
  • If before we reach the age of majority we must submit our brains for twelve years of evaluation and control by government experts, are we then truly free to exercise our vote according to the dictates of our own common sense and conscience?  Do we even know what our own common sense is anymore?
  • We live in a country where a serious candidate for the Presidency is unaware that China has nuclear weapons, where half the population does not understand that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11, where nobody pays attention as Congress dismantles the securities regulations that limit the power of the banks, where 45% of American high school students graduate without knowing that the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees freedom of the press.   At what point do we begin to ask ourselves if we are trying to control quality in the wrong way?
  • Human beings, collaborating with one another in voluntary relationships, communicating and checking and counter-checking and elaborating and expanding on one another’s knowledge and intelligence, have created a collective public resource more vast and more alive than anything that has ever existed on the planet.
  • But this is not a paeon to technology; this is about what human intelligence is capable of when people are free to interact in open, horizontal, non-hierarchical networks of communication and collaboration.
  • Positive social change has occurred not through top-down, hierarchically controlled organizations, but through what the Berkana Institute calls “emergence,” where people begin networking and forming voluntary communities of practice. When the goal is to maximize the functioning of human intelligence, you need to activate the unique skills, talents, and knowledge bases of diverse individuals, not put everybody through a uniform mill to produce uniform results. 
  • You need a non-punitive structure that encourages collaboration rather than competition, risk-taking rather than mistake-avoidance, and innovation rather than repetition of known quantities.
  • if we really want to return power to the 99% in a lasting, stable, sustainable way, we need to begin the work of creating open, egalitarian, horizontal networks of learning in our communities.
  • They are taught to focus on competing with each other and gaming the system rather than on gaining a deep understanding of the way power flows through their world.
  • And what could we create, what ecological problems could we solve, what despair might we alleviate, if instead of imposing our rigid curriculum and the destructive economy it serves on the entire world, we embraced as part of our vast collective intelligence the wisdom and knowledge of the world’s thousands of sustainable indigenous cultures?
  • They knew this about their situation: nobody was on their side.  Certainly not the moneyed classes and the economic system, and not the government, either.  So if they were going to change anything, it had to come out of themselves.
  • As our climate heats up, as mountaintops are removed from Orissa to West Virginia, as the oceans fill with plastic and soils become too contaminated to grow food, as the economy crumbles and children go hungry and the 0.001% grows so concentrated, so powerful, so wealthy that democracy becomes impossible, it’s time to ask ourselves; who’s educating us?  To what end?  The Adivasis are occupying their forests and mountains as our children are occupying our cities and parks.  But they understand that the first thing they must take back is their common sense. 
  • They must occupy their brains.
  • Isn’t it time for us to do the same?
    Carol Black, creator of the documentary, "Schooling the World" discusses the conflicting ideas of centralized control of education and standardization against the so-called freedom to think independently--"what the Supreme Court has termed 'the sphere of intellect and spirit" (Black, 2012). Root questions: "who's educating us? to what end?" (Black, 2012).
    This is a must read. Carol Black echoes here many of the ideas of Paulo Freire, John Taylor Gatto and the like.
Wayne Holly

Why the weak students end up as teachers: Education programs lack intellect. - CSMonito... - 205 views

    Education courses don't challenge students' intellect as others do . . .
    I don't know many teachers that thought their teacher education program was worth their time, so I would totally disagree with this -- weak students end up as teachers. I once had a teacher educator tell me that 'grades' were the most significant indicator of a good teacher. I laughed at her because I won the top teaching award and a year earlier I wouldn't have been accepted because my grades wouldn't have made their particular cut.
    I have to agree with Lori. I have several colleagues who were not admitted into teacher education programs, yet have become amazing instructional leaders. Granted, there has to be a cutoff for programs, but frankly, grades are indeed not the best indicator. I was not allowed to take an advance-level French course because of my overall GPA during my undergraduate education. Later as a high school French teacher, my students consistently placed out of university language requirements, and while with me, often placed in declamation contests for their spoken abilities. Our teacher educations programs still need work. They are not where we want them to be. Now to get to work on how to make that happen! :-)
kurt stavenhagen

steindl-rast | zen writ - 12 views

  • combine our intellect with will and our emotions, only than can we truly understand the meaning of gratefulness.
    • kurt stavenhagen
      Sometimes I think that he tries too hard to separate the intellect from the will. I wonder on a physiological level what this looks like in the brain: are their separate components in the brain for recognition and judgment. Perhaps there are. If so, should those be the terms rather than intellect and will?
  • its not giving up.
  • back to bed again”
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  • haven’t reached them yet
  • Just to be living on this earth in this solar system in this galaxy in this universe is immensely rare and lucky.
  • to recognize is to accept something as true, but to acknowledge is to have a perspective, or how you choose to view that recognizable truth.
  • Some people feel the rain, and others just get wet
  • acknowledgement is perspective.
  • uses the word surprise as a way of saying be mindful and appreciate the little things in life that go on around you
  • ollowing this quote the author goes on to
  • because many of use feel a moral obligation to return our benefactor the favor thus making the seemingly “gratuitous act” a debt that we must repay by giving our own gift.
  • the bonds of interdependence set us free
  • once you can acknowledge a gift for a gift and acknowledge dependence then you’re free to go forward into full gratefulness.
  • yesterday morning my friend, knowing that I’m not an early bird, brought an extra granola bar to class just to give it to me which was a surprise that I had not expected. This was merely a simple surprise that I felt then, but after I thought it over again, this surprise made me realize how grateful I felt for having a such friend
  • By allowing ourselves to be helped in life and understanding that receiving help is not a show of weakness but in fact a show of mindfulness, we open ourselves up to the surprises and pleasures of communicating with people on a regular day basis
  • independent vs dependent. Being considered “legally” independent I have truly learned how dependent I am for others.
  • I always thought why would I hassle someone else for my incompetency
  • that weak need to feel weak in order to grow. We need to put everything out there and grow and learn from our experiences.
  • Letting weakness show is one of the strongest things we can do in order to know ourselves at a deeper level
  • Helping someone, whether it is a friend, neighbor or family member is something one should do out of the goodness of our heart. Everything comes full circle,
  • it is a personal choice to help others, and my way of reminding myself that I am grateful to be here,
  • I know what a horse looks like, feels like and moves like, but every time I go visit, I am still surprised and amused just by watching the horses out in the field.
  • The more grateful you become the more you appreciate life, which in a sense does make you younger because you are embracing living life
  • When my dad and hundreds of others died on 9/11/01 you could notice something different in the air.
    "teindl-Rast inspired me to start working on a project that I have been putting off. (ironically when I chose to read this passage I was procrastinating) There is never an ideal or perfect time for any person to start any task. Instead of taking this moment right now, we co"
Nigel Coutts

On the path to creativity - The Learner's Way - 16 views

    The difficulty with creativity is it is not easy and perhaps thanks to our experience of schooling not a natural attribute of many adults. What creativity needs is a process and/or a structure that allows us to bring our intellect to the development of creative solutions.
Lauren Mitchell

Thoreau's Walking - 2 - 0 views

  • "A white man bathing by the side of a Tahitian was like a plant bleached by the gardener's art compared with a fine, dark green one growing vigorously in the open fields."
    • Lauren Mitchell
      Do you think Thoreau would get one of those spray tans?
  • Life consists with Wildness. The most alive is the wildest. Not yet subdued to man, its presence refreshes him.
  • Hope and the future for me are not in lawns and cultivated fields, not in towns and cities, but in the impervious and quaking swamps.
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  • omitting other flower plots and borders, transplanted spruce and trim box, even gravelled walks
  • In Literature, it is only the wild that attracts us. Dullness is but another name for tameness. It is the uncivilized free and wild thinking in Hamlet and the Iliad, in all the scriptures and mythologies, not learned in the Schools, that delights us. As the wild duck is more swift and beautiful than the tame, so is the wild-the mallard-thought, which, 'mid falling dews wings its way above the fens. A truly good book is something as natural, and as unexpectedly and unaccountably fair and perfect, as a wild flower discovered on the prairies of the west, or in the jungles of the east.
  • I confess that I am partial to these wild fancies, which transcend the order of time and development. They are the sublimest recreation of the intellect.
  • all good things are wild and free
  • The seeds of instinct are preserved under the thick hides of cattle and horses, like seeds in the bowels of the earth, an indefinite period.
  • I rejoice that horses and steers have to be broken before they can be made the slaves of men, and that men themselves have some wild oats still left to sow before they become submissive members of society.
  • strange and whimsical as it may seem, that I finally and inevitably settle south-west, toward some particular wood or meadow or deserted pasture or hill in that direction. My needle is slow to settle — varies a few degrees, and does not always point due south-west, it is true, and it has good authority for this variation, but it always settles between west and south-south-west. The future lies that way to me, and the earth seems more unexhausted and richer on that side. The outline which would bound my walks, would  be, not a circle, but a
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