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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?
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    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).
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    This is a must read. Carol Black echoes here many of the ideas of Paulo Freire, John Taylor Gatto and the like.
Stacy Olson

Library of Congress Collection Highlights - 43 views

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    Highlights the different collections of primary sources you can access at the Library of Congress
Randolph Hollingsworth

Lumina Foundation's Federal Policy Priorities - full report and 2 page summary - 9 views

  • federal policy needs to look beyond access to encompass student success and work for all students in the 21st century, including working adults, low-income students, first-generation students and students of color
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    federal government sought to promote equitable access to postsecondary education. This role continues to be critical on Capitol Hill, especially for low-income, minority and other underserved populations. ... This requires supporting innovative practices at institutions of higher education and other quality postsecondary education providers. ...government must help ensure that postsecondary education is affordable. ...most critically, federal policy must assure the quality of credentials in terms of student learning.
Chelsie Jolley

PBS Teachers | Resources For The Classroom - 0 views

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    PBS Teachers provides PreK-12 educational resources and activities for educators tied to PBS programming and correlated to local and national standards and professional development opportunities delivered online.
Michele Amato

The History Place - A New Nation - 53 views

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    The final timeline of the New Nation-The United States of America.
Charles Cooper

Super PACs: How We Got Here, Where We Need to Go - 26 views

  • Not content with this, all these lawyers and campaign professionals came up with the next big idea — only months ago.  Let’s film candidates talking about their issues, and run the ads in key states, but it won’t count as “coordinated” with the candidate under the FEC’s “Swiss cheese” definitions because the ads won’t have the candidate say “vote for me.”
  •   An Independent Expenditure Only Multicandidate Non-Connected Political Committee
  • Speech Now v. FEC that if independent expenditures could not be limited as to the amount that could be spent because they are not corrupting, then there is no justification for limiting the amount that can be raised for those expenditures
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  • Members of Congress facing re-election in 2012, speaking on camera (or in voice-over, in the case of a radio advertisement) about one or more legislative or policy issues
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    Super pac, pac, elections, politics
Kate Pok

FinAid | Loans | Public Service Loan Forgiveness - 67 views

  • Employment: The borrower must be employed full-time in a public service job for each of the 120 monthly payments. Public service jobs include, among other positions, emergency management, government (excluding time served as a member of government), military service, public safety and law enforcement (police and fire), public health (including nurses, nurse practitioners, nurses in a clinical setting, and full-time professionals engaged in health care practitioner occupations and health care support occupations), public education, early childhood education (including licensed or regulated childcare, Head Start, and State-funded prekindergarten), social work in a public child or family service agency, public services for individuals with disabilities or the elderly, public interest legal services (including prosecutors, public defenders and legal advocacy on behalf of low-income communities at a nonprofit organization), public librarians, school librarians and other school-based services, and employees of tax exempt 501(c)(3) organizations. Full-time faculty at tribal colleges and universities, as well as faculty teaching in high-need subject areas and shortage areas (including nurse faculty, foreign language faculty, and part-time faculty at community colleges), also qualify.
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    FYI
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