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Javier E

Money Cuts Both Ways in Education - NYTimes.com - 19 views

  • If you doubt that we live in a winner-take-all economy and that education is the trump card, consider the vast amounts the affluent spend to teach their offspring.
  • This power spending on the children of the economic elite is usually — and rightly — cited as further evidence of the dangers of rising income inequality.
  • But it may be that the less lavishly educated children lower down the income distribution aren’t the only losers. Being groomed for the winner-take-all economy starting in nursery school turns out to exact a toll on the children at the top, too.
  • ...11 more annotations...
  • There is a lively debate among politicians and professors about whether the economy is becoming more polarized and about the importance of education. Dismissing the value of a college education is one of the more popular clever-sounding contrarian ideas of the moment. And there are still a few die-hards who play down the social significance of rising income inequality.
  • When you translate these abstract arguments into the practical choices we make in our personal lives, however, the intellectual disagreements melt away. We are all spending a lot more money to educate our kids, and the richest have stepped up their spending more than everyone else.
  • spending on children grew over the past four decades and that it became more unequal. “Our findings also show that investment grew more unequal over the study period: parents near the top of the income distribution spent more in real dollars near the end of the 2000s than in the early 1970s, and the gap in spending between rich and poor grew.”
  • But it turns out that the children being primed for that race to the top from preschool onward aren’t in such great shape, either.
  • “What we are finding again and again, in upper-middle-class school districts, is the proportion who are struggling are significantly higher than in normative samples,” she said. “Upper-middle-class kids are an at-risk group.”
  • troubled rich kids. “I was looking for a comparison group for the inner-city kids,” Dr. Luthar told me. “And we happened to find that substance use, depression and anxiety, particularly among the girls, were much higher than among inner-city kids.”
  • “I Can, Therefore I Must: Fragility in the Upper Middle Class,” and it describes a world in which the opportunities, and therefore the demands, for upper-middle-class children are infinite.
  • “It is an endless cycle, starting from kindergarten,” Dr. Luthar said. “The difficulty is that you have these enrichment activities. It is almost as if, if you have the opportunity, you must avail yourself of it. The pressure is enormous.”
  • these parents and children are responding rationally to a hyper-competitive world economy.
  • “When we talk to youngsters now, when they set goals for themselves, they want to match up to at least what their parents have achieved, and that is harder to do.”
  • we live in individualistic democracies whose credo is that anyone can be a winner if she tries. But we are also subject to increasingly fierce winner-take-all forces, which means the winners’ circle is ever smaller, and the value of winning is ever higher.
Adrienne Michetti

Where Everybody Knows Your (Screen) Name: Online Games as "Third Places" - 50 views

    • Adrienne Michetti
       
      This is, I think, why I'm more keen on today's social networks than I am on games -- games do not provide deep emotional support.
  • "bowling alone" hypothesis (Putnam, 2000), which suggests that media are displacing crucial civic and social institutions
    • Adrienne Michetti
       
      Putnam - need to check this article. Interesting; not sure I agree.
  • ...80 more annotations...
  • According to Putnam, time spent with relatively passive and disengaging media has come at the expense of time spent on vital community-building activities.
  • The evidence to date is mixed
  • A core problem on both sides of the debate is an underlying assumption that all Internet use is more or less equivalent
    • Adrienne Michetti
       
      SO True
  • It would be more plausible and empirically rigorous, then, to consider how specific forms of Internet activity impact civic and social engagement as a result of their particular underlying social architectures
  • combining conclusions from two different lines of MMO research conducted from two different perspectives—one from a media effects approach, the other from a sociocultural perspective on cognition and learning.
  • By providing spaces for social interaction and relationships beyond the workplace and home, MMOs have the capacity to function as one form of a new "third place" for informal sociability much like the pubs, coffee shops, and other hangouts of old.
  • loosely structured by open-ended narratives
  • They are known for their peculiar combination of designed "escapist fantasy" and emergent "social realism"
  • from two research projects: one an examination of the media effects of MMOs, the other an ethnographic study of cognition and culture in such contexts.
  • the conclusions of both studies were remarkably aligned.
  • the assumption that the most fruitful advances are sometimes made when congruent findings are discovered through disparate means
    • Adrienne Michetti
       
      Love this quote.
  • demonstrate the "effects" of game play vs. no game play.
  • first project was a traditional effects study
  • second project, a qualitative study of cognition and learning in MMOs (
  • ethnography
  • sociocultural perspective
  • as a way to tease out what happens in the virtual setting of the game and how the people involved consider their own activities, the activities of others, and the contexts in which those activities takes place
  • a reasonable level of generalizability (random assignment to condition in the first study) and contextualization (ethnographic description of existing in-game social networks and practices in the second)
    • Adrienne Michetti
       
      but I wonder why he chose these games -- this is not specified. Only their success in US and abroad?
  • brick-and-mortar "third places" in America where individuals can gather to socialize informally beyond the workplace and home
  • the exaggerated self-consciousness of individuals.
  • In what ways might MMOs function as new third places for informal sociability?
  • virtual environments have the potential to function as new (albeit digitally mediated) third places similar to pubs, coffee shops, and other hangouts.
  • in this section we analyze the structural form of MMOs that warrants this "third place" assertion.
  • eight defining characteristics of third places
  • there is no default obligation
  • To oblige any one person to play requires that explicit agreements be entered into by parties
  • the default assumption is that no one person is compelled to participate legally, financially, or otherwise.
  • Unless one transforms the virtual world of the game into a workplace (e.g., by taking on gainful employment as a virtual currency "farmer" for example, Dibbell, 2006; Steinkuehler, 2006a) or enters into such agreement, no one person is obligated to log in
    • Adrienne Michetti
       
      and this is why, in my opinion, you will never see games in school. The game cannot be the Third Place because school is a Second Place.
  • Yee's (2006) interviews also reveal that individuals who game with romantic partners or family find that such joint engagement in the "other world" of MMOs allows them to redefine the nature and boundaries of their offline relationships, often in more equitable terms than what may be possible in day-to-day offline life
  • the relationships that play-partners have with one another offline are often "leveled" within the online world
  • an individual's rank and status in the home, workplace, or society are of no importance
  • appeal to people in part because they represent meritocracies otherwise unavailable in a world often filled with unfairness
  • conversation plays an analogous role
  • "In all such systems, linguistic interactions have been primary: users exchange messages that cement the social bonds between them, messages that reflect shared history and understandings (or misunderstandings) about the always evolving local norms for these interactions" (p. 22).
  • third places must also be easy to access
  • such that "one may go alone at almost any time of the day or evening with assurance that acquaintances will be there"
  • accessible directly from one's home, making them even more accommodating to individual schedules and preferences
  • barriers to initial access.
  • "What attracts a regular visitor to a third place is supplied not by management but by the fellow customer,"
  • "It is the regulars who give the place its character and who assure that on any given visit some of the gang will be there"
  • affective sense
  • As one informant satirically commented in an interview, "You go for the experience [points], you stay for the enlightening conversation.
  • engendering a sense of reliable mentorship and community stability.
  • Oldenburg argues that third places are characteristically homely, their d�cor defying tidiness and pretension whenever possible. MMOs do not fit this criterion in any literal sense
  • In neither of our investigations did the degree of formality exhibited by players within the game bear any relation to the degree of visual ornamentation of the players' immediate vicinity.
  • Thus, while the visual form of MMO environments does not fit Oldenburg's (1999) criterion of "low profile," the social function of those environments does.
  • Oldenburg (1999) argues that seriousness is anathema to a vibrant third place; instead, frivolity, verbal word play, and wit are essential.
  • The playful nature of MMOs is perhaps most apparent in what happens when individuals do bring gravity to the game.
  • the home-like quality of third places in rooting people
  • Participation becomes a regular part of daily life for players and, among regular gamemates such as guild members, exceptional absences (i.e., prolonged or unforeseen ones) are queried within the game or outside i
  • create an atmosphere of mutual caring that, while avoiding entangling obligations per se, creates a sense of rootedness to the extent that regularities exist, irregularities are duly noted, and, when concerning the welfare of any one regular, checked into
  • Are virtual communities really communities, or is physical proximity necessary?
  • Anderson (1991), who suggests that geographic proximity itself is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for the emergence and preservation of "community."
  • Social capital (Coleman, 1988) works analogously to financial capital; it can be acquired and spent, but for social and personal gains rather than financial
  • operates cyclically within social networks because of their associated norms of reciprocity
  • bridging social capital is inclusive.
  • This form of social capital is marked by tentative relationships, yet what they lack in depth, they make up for in breadth.
  • On the one hand, bridging social capital provides little in the way of emotional support; on the other hand, such relationships can broaden social horizons or worldviews, providing access to information and new resources.
  • bonding social capital is exclusive.
  • social superglue.
  • it can also result in insularity.
  • shows that bridging and bonding social capital are tied to different social contexts, given the network of relationships they enable.
  • Virtual worlds appear to function best as bridging mechanisms rather than as bonding ones, although they do not entirely preclude social ties of the latter type.
  • One could argue that, if the benchmark for bonding social capital is the ability to acquire emotional, practical, or substantive support, then MMOs are not well set up for the task:
  • While deep affective relationships among players are possible, they are less likely to generate the same range of bonding benefits as real-world relationships because of players' geographic dispersion and the nature of third places themselves.
  • Despite differences in theoretical grounding and methodologies, our conclusions were remarkably similar across complementary macro- and micro-levels.
  • It is worth noting, however, that as gamers become more involved in long-term social networks such as guilds and their activities become more "hardcore" (e.g., marked by participation in large-scale collaborative problem-solving endeavors such as "raids" into difficult territories or castle sieges), the function of MMOs as "third places" begins to wane.
  • It may be, then, that the structure and function of MMOs as third places is one part of the "life cycle" for some gamers in a given title.
  • In such cases, MMOs appear to enable a different kind of sociability, one ostensibly recognizable as a "community" nonetheless.
  • However, our research findings indicate that this conclusion is uninformed. To argue that MMO game play is isolated and passive media consumption in place of informal social engagement is to ignore the nature of what participants actually do behind the computer screen
  • Perhaps it is not that contemporary media use has led to a decline in civic and social engagement, but rather that a decline in civic and social engagement has led to retribalization through contemporary media (McLuhan, 1964).
  • Such a view, however, ignores important nuances of what "community" means by pronouncing a given social group/place as either wholly "good" or "bad" without first specifying which functions the online community ought to fulfill.
  • Moreover, despite the semantics of the term, "weak" ties have been shown to be vital in communities, relationships, and opportunities.
  • is to what extent such environments shift the existing balance between bridging and bonding
  • In light of Putnam's evidence of the decline of crucial civic and social institutions, it may well be that the classification "lacking bridging social capital" best characterizes the everyday American citizen. T
  • Without bridging relationships, individuals remain sheltered from alternative viewpoints and cultures and largely ignorant of opportunities and information beyond their own closely bound social network.
  • it seems ironic that, now of all times, we would ignore one possible solution to our increasingly vexed relationship with diversity.
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