Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Problem with 'Scaling Up'

The Distance Between (2011 by M.A. Reilly)
Scaling up relies on another assumption, one that is fervently believed, but rarely true in experience. The assumption is that people do what they’re told. So instructions get issued, policies get pronounced. When we don’t follow them, bosses just create more. When we still fail to obey, we’re labeled as resistant or lazy (Wheatley & Frieze. 2011, p. 44).

People don’t support things that are forced on them. We don’t act responsibly on behalf of plans and programs created without us. We resist being changed, not change itself.

This is the fatal flaw of scaling up. Its methods destroy the very energies necessary for taking things to scale—people’s creativity and curiosity, our desire to learn and contribute, and the satisfaction we experience when we’re engaged together in mutual discovery (Wheatley & Frieze. 201, p. 45).

I am curious as to how many educators reading this are or have been subject to 'scale up' educational schemes via sanctioned programs, products, methods, and/or texts?  I would love to hear about your situation and hope that you'll post.

Now consider the difference between scaling up and scaling across:

What we do know is that scaling across, where good ideas and innovations travel trans-locally through networks of relationship, is the way that lasting change happens in our complex, relationship-rich world (Wheatley & Frieze. 2011, p. 40).

Curious about your thoughts.

Work Cited:
Wheatley, Margaret; Frieze, Deborah (2011-04-11). Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Video Examples of Transmediation

I found this video posted on The EZ Fix.

It is an excellent example of transmediation: A mixture of image, sound, and word used to convey experience.





I also have enjoyed the visual and musical combination as shown in this video.  The artist is Ferenc Cakó
and the music by Vivaldi is Four Seasons as conducted by Lamberto Gardelli. There are other examples of Cakó's work via YouTube.



In this video, students in Mr. Wright's creative writing class at the Academic Magnet High School in North Charleston, South Carolina wrote six word memoirs and coupled these with still images and a musical score. Works well.



In this Sesame Street video, music by Philip Glass is paired with geometric shapes.



Artist John Baldessari describes his creative process. Part of the Voice of the Photography series created for the Annenberg Space for Photography inaugural exhibit L8S ANG3LES. (March - July, 2009). I included this interview as samples of his work involve word and image combined.



Unchopping a Tree, part of Maya Lin's last memorial entitled What is Missing?, debuted at COP15 during the Support REDD+ events sponsored by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations rainforestcoalition.org/eng/. It was produced by @radical.media. Music was donated by Brian Eno and Brian Loucks. Interesting mixture of images, words and sound.



Monday, December 26, 2011

Curriculum as Local Landscape

I like to think of curriculum as local landscape: one that moves, refuses to be fixed by the easy map, one you know because you walk it.  Curriculum cannot actually be mapped as it is a path unwinding before your feet--one that is altered by experience and changed by light and dark, fog and mist, intention and action, student and teacher, now and then, memory and shadow, you and me.

Looking East (Yuma, California, M.A. Reilly, 2010)

Curriculum maps that are made for others by others are problematic. They are distant. Erroneous before they are even read. Always epic. Consider Barry Lopez (1976) who has this to tell us about maps:
I would like to tell you how to get there so that you may see all this for yourself. But first a warning: you may already have come across a set of detailed instructions, a map with every bush and stone clearly marked, the meandering courses of dry rivers and other geographical features noted, with dotted lines put down to represent the very faintest of trails. Perhaps there were also warnings printed in tiny red letters along the margin, about the lack of water, the strength of the wind and the swiftness of the rattlesnakes. Your confidence in these finely etched maps is understandable, for at first glance they seem excellent, the best a man is capable of; but your confidence is misplaced. Throw them out. They are the wrong sort of map. They are too thin. They are not the sort of map that can be followed by a man who knows what he is doing. The coyote, even the crow, would regard them with suspicion. (from Desert Notes)
Curriculum, that complicated conversation we have even when we do not speak, is a subtle place with a long history: part truth, part lie, part mystery.  Forget the made map, as one can never be sure of the intentions that have fueled its making. For if the curriculum map is made apart from the learners, what damage might 'enactment' render?  What happens to one's spirit in such a lifeless place?  Consider Wendell Berry (1977) who writing about soil explains:
It is the nature of the soil to be highly complex and variable, to conform very inexactly to human conclusions and rules.  It is itself easily damaged by the imposition of alien patterns.  Out of the random grammar and lexicon of possibilities--geological, topographical, climatological, biological--the soil of any one place makes its own peculiar and inevitable sense.
It is impossible to contemplate the life of the soil for very long without seeing it as analogous to the life of the spirit. (from The Unsettling of America)
Prairie (South Dakota, M.A. Reilly, 2010)

II. The Common Map Unmade

When I read documents like the Common Core State Standards with its long lists of expectations for all students, neatly ordered in sets of ten statements and dispersed like obedient soldiers across 13 years,  I know we have lost our way and have settled for the made map-- a map that strips the world of all that is local and in doing so nullifies magic and mystery, agency and voice--as if these no longer were real.  The arrogance is so loud.  Perhaps it is difficult to hear beneath such bravado the absurd belief that 'essentials' can be named by a handful of people. Imagine the misconceptions that fuel the belief that a small coterie can determine what each and every child across these United States should learn and when such learning should occur.

The Common Core is no framework.  This is curricular imprisonment--unrestrained power. When enacted and then tested every few weeks via a PARCC or SMARTER test, there will be no room for the idiosyncratic, the imagination, the questions, the dreams, the dreamtime, the unknown, the known that is no longer privileged, the recalled, the local, the random, the spiritual, the partial memory, the error, the student, the teacher, the you, the me. We are so foolish to believe that the only things worth knowing are explicit information one might easily test the same way for all the children across the country.  There are more ways to know then a test might gauge.  Listen to William Least Heath-Moon (1991) who is writing about how he has come to Kansas, to Roniger Hill--a sacred place--to test a belief he has about the connections one might find by laying a paper map atop a physical place and seeing if the grid, "arbitrary quadrangles that have nothing inherently to do with the land, little to do with history, and not much to do with [his] details" leads to some connections.  He tells us he has arrived here "by some old compass in the blood" (p. 14).  Listen to how he comes to know:
Now: I am standing on Roniger Hill to test the grid. I'm not waiting for revelation, only watching to see whether my notions will crumble like these old, eroding slopes. Standing here, thinking of grids and what's under them, their depths and their light and darkness. I'm watching, and in an hour or so I'll lie down and sleep on this hill and let it and its old shadows work on me, let the dark have at my own shadows and assail my sleep. If my configuration is still alive by morning, then I'll go down off this ridge, and, one more time, begin walking over Chase County, Kansas, grid by topographic grid, digging, sifting, sorting, assembling shards, and my arbitrary course will be that of a Japanese reading a book: up to down, right to left (pp. 15-16. from PrairyErth).
Startled (Iowa, M.A. Reilly, 2010)

There are  more ways to come to know then we can imagine. These ways may well be unnameable and many are culturally/locally bound.  They do not translate well across time, space, and intention. And there value is easy to miss. William Least Heath-Moon knows that when he lies down on top of that hill the old shadows will work their way into his dreams, his very self (in)forming what he knows.

Folks, there are no 'old shadows' listed in the Common Core or I imagine in any State Standards. Such experiences would not be listed as they are likely not known or perhaps valued by those who write such things for others to enact.  (Okay, I recognized, dear reader, that I may be losing you on these last few lines.  But, stay awhile.  Linger. Perhaps dreams and shadows aren't very real to you, but surely something important you value is and I tell you now get ready to lose it--for you will need to lose what you love in order to adhere to 'the Standards.'  They have never actually been yours, now have they?)

My friend, Michael Doyle, a teacher of science, writes in a post today:
I dream of teaching my students how to clam. It's a local activity that will never be part of the national standards because it's a local activity. That may sound innocuous enough, but it gets to the heart of the sickness in education today, our love of the abstract.

We teach to what few love, the few with the money, the few with the power to dictate what matters. 
We have traded Main Street for strip malls, teachers for Standard bearers, students for test achievers and filled Main Street and its schools with a simulacrum we simply cannot bear.   My son a few years ago asked, 'Why are all the stores the same wherever you go?  Couldn't anyone think up something original? It's kinda sad.'
The Atlantic (M.A. Reilly, 2010)
I dream of my son learning to clam: not for credit (AP or otherwise) or in preparation for some high stakes test, but because he would be in the presence of a teacher who deeply cared--was passionate and knowledgeable about the art and craft of crabbing and all that such work contained and pointed towards.  That's the learning I crave for him.  To be in the company of others who openly share their passions and expertise so he too might come to name his world in numerous and complicated ways.

That is what teaching use to be.  Before the standards. Before the high stakes tests. Before we foolishly thought we would leave no child behind by naming everything each child needed to learn and measuring it by a single paper and pencil test.


Our idiocy is astounding.  This has never been about learning, but rather remains a matter of power seeking and the greed that travels alongside such intention. Wendell Berry (1991) offers us insight into such people when he writes:
Our present 'leaders'--the people of wealth and power--do not know what it means to take a place seriously: to think it worthy, for its own sake, of love and study and careful work. They cannot take any place seriously because they must be ready at any moment, by the terms of power and wealth in the modern world, to destroy any place. (from "Out of Your Car, Off Your Horse")
In the same text, Berry similar to Doyle offers us this bit of wisdom--words we should be heeding:
If we want to put local life in proper relation to the globe, we must do so by imagination, charity and forbearance, and by making the local life as independent and self-sufficient as we can--not by presumptuous abstractions of "global thought." (from "Out of Your Car, Off Your Horse")
Go ahead and search the Standards and see if imagination, charity or forbearance can be found.  Don't hold your breath.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

To the Temple, Singing

The Suburbs (M.A. Reilly, 12/2011)

I.

I was looking out a window the other day and noticed how the squirrels seem to have overtaken the side yard. They appear so certain, so 'moved in'--casually lounging on 'lawn' furniture we had yet to put away in preparation for winter.  All of us almost readying for winter.  They eating and then lounging on the chaise.  Me watching, a cup of Irish tea at hand, looking out the side door.

I live in the suburbs: that geographic space existing without its own rhythm--a colony of houses interrupted by strip malls and signaled by the long line of cars that motor out each morning--headlights cutting the near dark and who return the same way at twilight.

Now to be sure, I also live with forests of trees and reservoirs and paths you can almost get lost on as this is an almost-suburb.  A place without any stoplights. 30 minutes north of Manhattan on the Jersey side. A place others come to 'recreate': to fish, cross country ski, hike, sail, bird watch and kill deer and bears.


II.

Louis Simpson (1963)  in the poem, "In the Suburbs," writes:

There’s no way out.

You were born to waste your life.
You were born to this middleclass life

As others before you
Were born to walk in procession
To the temple, singing.

In "After Midnight", Simpson narrates and then wonders:
The dark streets are deserted,   
With only a drugstore glowing   
Softly, like a sleeping body;

With one white, naked bulb   
In the back, that shines   
On suicides and abortions.

Who lives in these dark houses?   
I am suddenly aware   
I might live here myself.

The garage man returns
And puts the change in my hand,   
Counting the singles carefully.


 Who lives in these dark houses?  These dark schools? 

III.

I am ill-suited for the suburbs, perhaps you are as well. I have failed at suburbia, knowing only the names of a few neighbors and not attending the PTA or the local women's group. To be honest, I haven't even tried.  Suburbia and the schools they inspire are intricately connected, and the values that (in)form both have become homogenized.

We hardly know how to breathe.

Perhaps we need to read more poetry as poets often allow us to see what is most difficult to name: ourselves in precarious spaces.  If we read America as suburb, do we wonder why schools feel less substantial then memory claims--that anyone with a few million and a borrowed idea can 'reform' a school, perhaps yours?  Just as the suburbs are a conglomerate of 'placed upon' definitions of self and geography--so too are our public schools. Stripped of place and local identity, they exist as foils, endlessly reflecting the most recent image placed before them.

Here is a partial list of how schools get 'reformed':
  1. Reform large high schools by making smaller 'academies' within the high school.
  2. Close down schools and reconstitute these schools as something else.
  3. Replace 'low expectation' schools with 'high expectation' schools.
  4.  Replace 'low expectation' teachers with 'high expectation' teachers.
  5. Replace neighborhood schools with magnet schools.
  6. Replace public schools with charter schools.
  7. Replace schools with for-profit schools.
  8. Allow for vouchers and parental choice.
  9. Hold a lottery.
  10. Cheat on high stakes tests.
  11. Replicate school models in any number of schools in order to 'scale up innovation'.
  12. Revise curricula.
  13. Test.
  14. Purchase scientifically proven programs and implement.
  15. Develop pacing charts and enforce them.
  16. Purchase units of study and enforce their use.
  17. Develop professional learning communities.
  18. Aim high and embrace change.
  19. Make effective teachers.
  20. Create alternative methods to certify teachers.
  21. Evaluate children, teachers, principals and use these results to do x.
  22. Find the 'great' teachers and have them teach the country via 'distance' learning.
  23. Discount poverty as the indicator of student success.
  24. Tie graduation to passing state tests to 'ensure excellence'.
  25. Do unto others.

Do you see how this doing unto others is a lot like what has happened to the space of land between cities and farms?  Perhaps the connections between schooling and suburbia are so as we are who we are. We are what we value.

Is it our imagination, collective and otherwise, that needs to be re/inspired?


Works Cited

Simpson, Louis. 1963. “In the Suburbs.” At the End of the Open Road. Wesleyan University Press.
Simpson, Louis. 2003. "After Midnight."  The Owner of the House: New Collected Poems 1940 -2001. Rochester, NY: BOA.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Guest Blog -- Rob Cohen: "social mapping... (based on the library of babel)"

Alas, poor Yorick...

Guest Blog: Rob Cohen

Rob had posted this response to a blog post I had written. I was so taken by the poem that I decided it needed its own post.  Rob is a poet, middle school English teacher, father to Dev and husband to me.

Contact: @rcohen54







social mapping... (based on the library of babel)


this too is infinite (a cluster of infinities...

a cluster of round tables each equidistant from the next,
or maybe a table to one side of the staircase
in each of Borges' chambers--

the people at each table,
standing
sitting
leaning in to listen closely,
leaning out to think and overhear
the conversation at the next table;
loitering in doorways
sitting on steps, browsing shelves
wandering
from room to room
taking language with them,
leaving it behind

& in each room
mounted at the very center
with a set of omnidirectional microphones
connected to a universal recording device
that gets it all down
and sends it all on
to a meta-processing nexus
that hovers invisibly just above
and beyond
the palpable world
to be mapped, charted, parsed & compared
in a hapless attempt to reveal pattern
& form--

how much of what is said alters
another's thoughts
or forms
or ends
a universe;
which parts of what is said is what is heard
and how much of what is heard is repeated

(hearsay, i say, and inadmissible at that:
groucho rising
in an impromptu marx brothers manifesto
of subversion, inversion & dissipation,
a cacophonous collaboration of chaos,
of pulse,
except maybe this time
it's not so funny--

is a belief
in a discreetly discernable separation
of contexts
& ideas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Social Mapping, Lines of Flight, and Late Night W(a/o)ndering

Tonight a provocative statement was posed by Pam Moran (@pammoran) and then responded to by Chad Sansing (@chadsansing) over at Twitter.

Take a look:




So I am thinking about social mapping inside systems and wondering if anyone can point me/us in a direction that might show examples of the thinking that informs the generation of a social map.

I know I have rhizomes on the brain, but I can just about hear Deleuze and Guattari saying something relevant about all this.

Something about maps, tracings, and lines of flight.

Thinking about @chadsansing's tweet. And perhaps it is the presence of lines of flight that signals the collapsed space of hierarchy.  Perhaps these are the sparks.  Could critical mass of a system collapsing be brought about through the generation of idiosyncratic lines of flight?

A line of flight is a rupture in an established system.

Like the various actions that comprise the 'Occupy Movement'.

"A line of flight is a line of becoming that brings the system to yet another level of complexity by virtue
of the new knowledge, new concepts, new meanings," writes Inna Semetsky*.

So could you map lines of flight: lines that signal becoming?
Has someone done this?

Do not these lines represent the non-linearity of a system?







*Not by breadth along: Imagining a self-organised classroom. Complicity, 2005.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

(Mis)Leading in a Web 2.0 World: 60 Ways to Stay Out of Touch

Dear Education Leader:

When we think about the phrase 'digital divide' we often think of it as economic advantages or disadvantages that affords or limits Internet access.  But there is another type of digital divide that is as crucial and it could well be happening where you lead.  This is a divide that happens when school leaders, especially those holding the most power, confine their schools to a Web 1.0 world and continue to invest in metaphors that no longer work (or at least work well): those based solely on encoder/decoder models.


Consider these scenarios and see which ones (if any) resonate.

  1. You call a monthly admin meeting of the principals, supervisors, central office leaders in the district where you lead and upon arrival at each meeting you direct everyone to turn off their cell phones and close their laptops. "You won't be needing any of that," you tell the group.
  2. You continue to use email as the sole method for communicating with your admin staff and consider this method novel.
  3. You use your computer primarily to send and receive email; write memos, policies, and agendas; access the Internet for searching purposes, and occasionally to make a purchase on line.
  4. You distrust the 'notion' that there are new literacies to be learned. You stand firm on the belief that reading is reading and writing is writing.  
  5. The Director of Pupil Services advocates for assisted technologies and you understand that to mean every child is issued x (fill in your favorite hardware).
  6. Your district web page is set up to 'push out' information.  There is a link where viewers can email those in the organization, but no other types of interactions are permitted.
  7. You do not allow schools to have their own web page designs.  All web pages are standardized and controlled by the District 'point person'.
  8. Virtual learning is new and you support purchasing it by commercial providers.
  9. You will not allow any student web presence for any reason. There are no school or course specific web pages that feature student work.
  10. No principal or school can have its own Facebook page.
  11. No district educator is allowed to communicate with any student using Facebook or Twitter (or any other social media sites).
  12. You think of Flikr as a receptacle for family and friend photographs but not as a potential educational site.
  13. You believe that video games belong in the arcade, not in the classroom and enforce such thinking by controlling curriculum.
  14. No Internet ready devices can be brought into any school or district office.
  15. All wireless networks are pass-worded to protect the system.
  16. School library funding has remained static.  You see no reason to increase the funding.
  17. You support the purchase of desktop computers (they are sturdy) and computer labs and are skeptical about the purchase of handheld devices and entering any leasing agreement.
  18. You support educators who want to use the textbook accounts to purchase textbooks and are skeptical about those in your organization who recommend using Open source materials and want to reallocate textbook monies to purchase other types of materials/services.
  19. Texting isn't something you understand or do and certainly you don't condone its use during school.
  20. Instead of Drop Everything and Read program being limited to books,  a middle school principal is advocating that students develop their own Google Readers as a source for sustained reading. You have have not supported this idea as you worry that students will spend the time 'surfing' the net not actually reading.
  21. You do not support young children using computers as you think it is dangerous to them physically, emotionally, intellectually and morally.
  22. You require all employees to ensure in writing that nothing of their home life can be found on school-issued technology.
  23. Going "paperless" is impossible. Best not to try something that radical.
  24. You support the purchase of software, but have not established any process to purchase e-books or apps. You're not sure these 'extras' are really necessary.
  25. You still insist that teachers include at least two "technology-based" lessons each year as a method for increasing 'technology' use in the classroom.
  26. You have a separate technology plan from your district's education plan. 
  27. Technology is handed out by teachers.
  28. You support a 1-to-1 program and believe issuing everyone the same hardware is progressive.
  29. Cell phones are not allowed to be used for any reason at school by students and only during a preparation period, lunch, or before and after school by the Staff.
  30. You believe in scaling up.
  31. You are proud that every classroom has a 'Smart' board or an 'Elmo'  and consider that purchase to be wise.
  32. You direct the high school principal to put an end to 'Twitter" conversations that teachers and students are having as they violate district policy.
  33. PD is a scheduled event where everyone learns X or Y.
  34. You think of technology as computer use.
  35. You are suspect of principals who "Tweet" as you wonder how they have all that time on their hands.
  36. You understand social media to mean Facebook.
  37. You are unaware of social bookmarking and have never heard of stumbleupon, diigo, slashdot, clipmarks, reddit, scoopit, newsvine, mixx, and so on...
  38. You understand that 'curation' is something that happens in museums by experts, not classrooms.
  39. You believe in the primacy of explicit knowledge recall as an indicator of students learning well.
  40. Blogging is a fad and should not be used in English classes.
  41. You do not advocate for student-developed multimedia texts as the whole issue of 'storage' continues to be a problem.
  42. You believe that protecting your email system requires you to host it on your own servers. You are security conscious.
  43. You are considering investing in 5 desktop computers that have Internet access for every classroom in the district so that all can have access to 'computers'.
  44.  Every quarter the head librarian sends you the "Quarterly Report" in a format you don't understand (Slideshare, Mashup, Issuu, and so on).
  45. You require teachers to "do a Powerpoint lesson" each year.
  46. You understand YouTube to be a site where people watch movies and block it at all schools. 
  47. Your technology director is not an educator.
  48. Given the expense, you see no need to "rush into" wireless networks.
  49. You know there's a Cloud, but feel it is 'safer' to keep your data, products, email on your own servers.
  50. The District's technology director and a few selected admins determine technology priorities and policies for the district.
  51. Professional development is important and that's why you support teaching educators how to use software such as the "Word Suite" which is loaded on to all computers.
  52. You think procuring hardware is the most important expenditure the district can make an as such you reallocate professional learning funds in order to purchase more hardware.
  53. You require every teacher to have a standardized district web page, including those who already have established their own web presence.
  54. Plagiarism is plagiarism and copyright is copyright and you support the enforcement of these strict rules. You have no understanding of Remix via Creative Commons license.
  55. Your district has spent a lot of funds on 'science technology' and you have mandated that all science teachers must use specific technologies (probes, sensors, meters, monitors, computer-based simulations, computer-based modeling tools, etc.) at least once a week.
  56. You have mandated that one of the four observations conducted on all non-tenured teachers must be a 'technology' lesson.
  57. You support teachers and their students connecting to others in the world and that is why you have established a "Skype" center in every school that teachers can sign up to use.
  58. You believe technology 'know how' is important and that is why you have a mandated semester-long technology course that all high school students must take in their freshmen year.
  59. You once tried to use Google docs in order to develop a admin agenda, but believe that it is more productive to email the document to your staff and get individual feedback.
  60. You have no idea what any of these symbols mean:









Visually Exploring Rhizomes

Found this video exploring rhizomes by BlairArtEd (Theories & Research in Art Ed) fascinating.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Recommended Nonfiction for Middle School Learners

Armstrong, Jennifer. 2005. Photo by Brady: A Picture of the Civil War. NY: Atheneum.
Armstrong, Jennifer. 2000. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: the Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance. NY: Crown.
Aronson, Marc. 2011. Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert. NY: Atheneum.

Aronson, Marc & Marina Budhos. 2010. Sugar Changed the World: The Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery and Freedom. NY: Clarion.
Aronson, Marc & Mike Parker Pearson. 2010. If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge. Washington DC: National Geographic Children's Books.
Atkin, S. Beth. 2000. Voices from the Field: Children of Migrant Farmworkers Tell Their Stories. New York: Little Brown Young Readers
Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. 2010. They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group. NY: Houghton Mifflin.
------------------------------. 2005. Hitler Youth: Growing Up In Hitler's Shadow. NY: Scholastic.
------------------------------. 2005. Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine. NY: Sandpiper.
------------------------------. 1999. Growing Up in Coal Country.  NY: Sandpiper.
Bausum, Ann. 2009. Denied, Detained, Deported: Stories from the Dark Side of American Immigration. Washington, DC: National Geographic.
Bial, Raymond. 2002. Tenement Life on the Lower East Side. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Blakey, Ron and Wayne Ranney. 2008. Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau. Grand Canyon, AZ: Grand Canyon Association.
Bledsoe, Lucy Jane. 2006. How to Survive in Antarctica. NY: Holiday House.
Brimner, Larry Dane. 2010. Birmingham Sunday. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press.
Bruchac, Joseph. 2008. Sacajawea. Boston: Harcourt.
--------------------. 2008. Jim Thorpe: Original All-American. NY: Speak.
Budhos, Marina. 2007. Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers. New York: Henry Holt/Resource Publications.
Burns, Loree Griffin. 2010. The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe. Illustrated with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Caputo, Philip. 2005. 10,000 Days of Thunder: A History of the Vietnam War. NY:Atheneum.
Chassman, Gary. 2002. In the Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  NY: Tinwood Books.
Collier, Michael. 2009. Over the Coast: An Aerial View of Geology. NY: Mikaya Press.
Collier, Michael. 2008. Over the Rivers: An Aerial View of Geology. NY: Mikaya Press.
Collier, Michael. 2007. Over the Mountains: An Aerial View of Geology. NY: Mikaya Press.
From A Black Hole is NOT A Hole.
DeCristofano, Carolyn Cinami. 2012. A Black Hole is NOT a Hole. Illustrated by Michael Carroll. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge Publishers..
Einstein, Albert, 1950s. An Ideal Service to Our Fellow Man. As heard on NPR’s This I Believe.
Ellis, Deborah. 2009. Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
------------------. 2008. Off to War: Voices of Soldiers’ Children. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
------------------. 2004. Three Wishes. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Evans, Kate. 2007. Weird Weather: Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About Climate Change But Probably Should Find Out. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Feelings, Tom. 1995. The Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo. New York: Dial.
Ferri, Daniel. 2005. The Kindness of Strangers. As heard on NPR’s Morning Edition, December 5, 2005.
Fleischman, John. 2004. Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science. NY: Sandpiper.
Freedman, Russell. 2010. The War to End All Wars: World War I. NY: Clarion.
----------------------. 2004. The Voice that Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights. NY: Clarion.
------------------------. 1998. Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor. NY: Sandpiper.
Gallo, Gary. 2010. Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow: the Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix. Illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. NY: Clarion.
Grady, Wayne. 2010. Technology: A Groundwood Guide. Toronto: Groundwood Books.
Grainfield, Linda. 2001. 97 Orchard Street, New York: Stories of Immigrant Life. Illustrated by Arlene Alda. Toronto, Ontario: Tundra Books.
http://www.juniorlibraryguild.com/images/9780805077186/InteriorArt/9780805077186-lifeborealcrane_zoom.jpg
Illustration by Gennady Spirin. from Life in the Boreal Forest
Guiberson, Brenda Z. 2009. Life in the Boreal Forest. Illustrated by Gennady Spirin. Toronto: Groundwood Books.
Guibert, Emmanuel. 2009. The Photographer: Into War-torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders. Photographs by Lefevre. NY: FirstSecond.
Hall, Laura. 2008. From Hip Hop Comes Hope. As heard on NPR’s Tell Me More.
Hall, Susan, 2011. A Powerful Act of Love. As heard on The Bob Edwards Show, December 16, 2011.
Heinlein, Robert. 2010. Our Nobel, Essential Decency. As heard on The Bob Edwards Show, 3.12.10.
Herrera, Nicholas. 2011. High Riders, Saints and Death Cars: A Life Saved by Art. Illustrated by John T. Deene. Toronto: Groundwood Books.
Higgins, Dalton. 2010. Hip Hop World: Groundwood Series. Toronto: Groundwood Books.
http://img2.imagesbn.com/images/146310000/146313546.JPG

Hill, Laban Carrick. 2009. Harlem Stomp! A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance. NY: Little Brown
-----------------------. 2007.  America Dreaming: How Youth Changed America in the 60s.  NY: Little Brown.
Hubbard, Jim. 1994. Shooting Back from the Reservation: A Photographic View of Life by Native Americans. NY: New Press.
Kops, Deborah. 2012. The Great Molasses Flood: Boston 1919. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge Publishers.
Kuklin, Susan. 1996. Irrepressible Spirit: Conversations with Human Rights Activists. New York: Putnam.
Kurlansky, Mark. 2001. The Cod's Tale. Illustrated by S.D. Schindler. NY: Putnam.
Laxer, James. 2009. Democracy: A Groundwood Guide. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Levine, Macklin. 2009. The Beatles Live On. As Heard on NPR’s Weekend Edition, March 15, 2009.
Lisa. 2005. This I Believe. NPR. July 13, 2005.
Lorinc, John. 2008. Cities: A Groundwood Guide. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Lourie, Peter. 2009. Whaling Season: A Year in the Life of an Arctic Whale Scientist. NY: Houghton Mifflin.
Mann, Charles C. 2009. Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491. NY: Atheneum.
Marin, Reeve. 2008. Oscar: The Life and Music of Oscar Peterson. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Marrin, Albert. 2011. Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy. NY: Knopf.
------------------. 2006. Saving the Buffalo. NY: Scholastic.
Martin, Russell & Lydia Nibley. 2009. The Mysteries of Beethoven's Hair. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge Publishers.
McDowall, Catherine. 2011. Everyone is Included. As heard on The Bob Edwards Show, October 14, 2011.
McLain, Tarak. 2009. Thirty Things I Believe. As heard on NPR’s Weekend Edition, January 18, 2009.  (Note: Tarak is 7-years-old).
McWhorter, Diane. 2004. A Dream of Freedom: the Civil Rights Movement from 1954 to 1968. NY: Scholastic.
Mills, Kay, 1994. This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer. NY: Plume.
Montgomery, Sy. 2010. Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot. Photographs by Nic Bishop. NY: Houghton Mifflin.
Moody, Rick. 2005. The Joy and Enthusiasm of Reading. As heard on NPR’s This I Believe, August 29, 2005.

Murphy, Jim. 2011. Weird  & Wacky Inventions. NY: Sky Pony Press.
Myers, Walter Dean. 1994. Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary. NY: Scholastic.
Black Elk's Vision: A Lakota Story

Nelson, S.D. (Standing Rock Sioux). 2010. Black Elk's Vision: A Lakota Story. NY: Abrams Books for Young Readers.
O’Brien, Perry Edmond and Ann Sibley O’Brien. 2009. After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge Publishing.
Orr, Gregory. 2006. The Making of Poems. As heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, February 20, 2006.
Phuc, Kim. 2008. The Long Road to Forgiveness. As heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, June 30, 2008.
Roach, Mary 2004. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. NY: W.W. Norton.
From Secret Subway
Rubalcaba, Jill  and Peter Robertshaw. 2010. Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discoveries, Deductions, and Debates. Watertown MA: Charlesbridge Publishing.
Sandler, Martin W. 2009. Secret Subway: The Fascinating Tale of an Amazing Feat of Engineering.  Washington DC: National Geographic Children's Books.
Siddiqui, Haroon. 2008. Being Muslin: A Groundwood Guide. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Singh, Rina. 2010. Guru Nanak: The First Sikh Guru. Illustrated by Andrée Pouliot. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Sitarkski, Anita. 2007. Cold Light: Creatures, Discoveries, and Inventions that Glow. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press.
Siy, Alexandria. 2011. Bug Shots: The Good, the Bad, and the Bugly. NY: Holiday House.
------------------. 2009. Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet. Watertown MA: Charlesbridge Publishing.
Steven, Peter. 2010. The News: A Groundwood Guide. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Stokes, John, Herman Viola and Lois Wolfe. 2007. Students on Strike: Jim Crow, Civil Rights, Brown, and Me. Illustrated with Photographs. Washington DC: National Geographic Children’s Books.
Stone, Tonya Lee. 2009. Almost Astronauts:13 Women Who Dared to Dream. Boston, MA: Candlewick Press.
Sullivan, George. 2009. Berenice Abbott, Photographer: An Independent Vision. NY: Clarion.
Tanaka, Shelley. 2006. Climate Change: A Groundwood Guide. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.

Terkel, Studs. 2005. Community in Action. As heard on NPR’s Morning Edition, October 24, 2005.
Turner, Pamela S. 2008. Life on Earth: An Astrobiologist's Quest. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
Urban, Lex. 2011. Finding Out What’s Under Second Base. As heard on The Bob Edwards Show, July 22, 2011.
Valverde, Mariana. 2010. The Force of Law: A Groundwood Guide. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Walker, David & Peter Hinks (ed). 1829/2000. David Walker's Appeal: To the Coloured Citizens of the World. Pennsylvania State University. (Link is for an online source)
Walker, Sally M. 2005. Secrets of a Civil War Submarines: Solving the Mysteries of the H.L. Hunley. Carolrhoda.
Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2007. Birmingham, 1963. (Poetry). Honesdale, PA: Wordsong.
Wright, Simeon and Herb Boyd. 2010. Simeon's Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till. Chicago, IL: Lawrence Hill Books.
Yerxa, Leo. 2006. Ancient Thunder. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Zhang, Ange. 2004. Red Land, Yellow River: A Story from the Cultural Revolution. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.

This I Believe Essays Written by Middle and High School Students

Charles. 2010. Juice. Entered on November 29, 2010.
Earley, Brighton. 2008. Finding the Flexibility to Survive. As heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, June 2, 2008.
El-Saad, Alaa. 2009. America’s Beauty is in Its Diversity.  As heard on NPR’s Tell Me More, January 29, 2009.
Levine, Macklin. 2009. The Beatles Live On. As Heard on NPR’s Weekend Edition, March 15, 2009.
Lupi, Nora, 2008. My Opinions Matter. As heard on NPR’s Tell Me More, November 4, 2008.
Majeed, Kamaal. 2007. Being Content with Myself. As heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, May 7, 2007.
Rittenberg, Josh. 2006. Tomorrow Will Be A Better Day. As heard on NPR’s Morning Edition, February 27, 2006.
Sophia. 2005. This I Believe. (about magic)
Yu, Ying Ying, 2006. A Duty to Family, Heritage and Country. As heard on NPR’s Morning Edition, July 17, 2006.
Yuchasz, Joshua. 2006. We’re All Different in Our Own Ways. As heard on All things Considered, October 16, 2006.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

When Things Fall Apart: Slow Walking on Made Roads


I.

For the last year I have been writing about learning while walking.  This has been no accident.   And now as I leave my current job and step into that which I cannot define, I recognize that this is and will continue to be a time of significant growth and wonder, fueled by a disequilibrium that has not been soothed by simply taking the next job offer.  I am learning that there's real courage in saying no to job offers, especially in an economy as challenging as this one and with responsibilities to family.  Saying no is not easy.  And yet, I am reminded that simply agreeing to the next job offer that resembles what I am leaving at best 'resettles' my disequilibrium by providing a direction, a baseline, that repeats the same dynamic of schools as mechanistic places.

I want to compose schools as places where people work in the middle of things in fluid ways based on relationships and commitments we make/remake to one another.  I seek the rhizome, not the tree. I'm so tired of trees, too. (A nod to Deleuze & Guattari). I am saying no to organizations that rely on boxes, charts, roles, and polices to describe and limit its people.  These are systems of control.  They seem to fail--to fall apart as the systems initially embrace meaningful change, but then resettle in order to maintain power.

Such systems become more conservative, laying down rules of behavior with alarming predictability, issuing new organization charts, reshuffling the deck chairs if you will in an attempt to define ever 'new' boxes in which to stand.  Yet no amount of workplace shuffling will create the necessary occasions in which learning might flourish. Fear fuels control, stymies possibilities, replaces emphasis on making and sustaining relationships with marshaling people to choose different camps and guard territories.  Make no mistake,  a garden for learning cannot grow where chance has no foothold.

Meg Wheatley (1999) explains how schools systems aren't systems and yet within these non-systems, smaller systems arise.
"...most school systems aren't systems. They are only boundary lines drawn by somebody, somewhere. They are not systems because they do not arise from a core of shared beliefs about the purpose of public education. In the absence of shared beliefs and desires, people are not motivated to seek out one another and develop relationships. Instead, they co-inhabit the same organizational and community space without weaving together mutually sustaining relationships. They co-exist by defining clear boundaries, creating respectful and disrespectful distances, developing self-protective behaviors, and using power politics to get what they want.

Yet everyone who participates in a school district is a living being, responding to the same dynamics that characterize all other life. Within the artificial boundary lines and well-defended territories, people are self-organizing into real systems, reaching out to network with those who share similar beliefs or aspirations..." Meg Wheatley, Bringing Schools Back to Life
I am wondering if you would agree with Meg Wheatley.  Does her description capture what you know of schools--the dynamics?  Within school districts are there self-organizing systems among people who share core beliefs?  Can they remain viable, alive and to do so must they walk out and on? 



II.

Several weeks ago I had coffee with a friend and she shared how she had placed herself in a situation where she changed the ground rules of how she worked and what she did resulting in her leaving a well established position and venturing out on her own.  She described a ten year journey she is still composing.  These changes required her to step into not knowing, to unsettle her life and her family's lives, as she realized the box she had been standing in could no longer contain her spirit.  

Make no mistake, these matters are matters of life.

I recognized as I listened, even when I did not fully understand, that she was a kindred spirit and I leaned in to learn. A few weeks later I came across the book, Walk Out, Walk On and began reading it alongside a group of women--none of whom I have physically met, all of whom I recognize deeply.  I opened the book and was stopped when I read,  "When certainty collapses, it's often replaced by curiosity" (Location 134).  I knew that to be true and that alongside curiosity--anxiety, fear, and possibility co-mingle.  There are no simple causalities inside change, especially in the middle of things where bearings are at best blurry.

This book and my conversations online with these women (and now some men too) speak to my heart for I have walked out and am walking on.  I described it as being at the place of the comma: paused momentarily.  Walking on is about uncertainty, the difficulty in finding the language that allows me to name action taken as action. It is understanding that there are too many ready maps to follow, but they cannot be mistaken for the map that gets made by walking.


In describing what it means to 'walk out, walk on' Meg Wheatley and Deborah Frieze write (2011):
Walk Outs are people who bravely choose to leave behind situations, jobs, relationships, and ideas that restrict and confine them, anything that inhibits them. They walk on to the ideas, people, and practices that enable them to explore and discover new gifts, new possibilities...Whenever we choose to leave behind what confines us, whenever we courageously step forward to discover new capacities, then we can rightfully call ourselves Walk Outs Who Walk On (p.4).
Walk Outs who Walk On act like rhizomes.  They leave behind what cannot adequately define them, that which has felt ill suited, out of step and walk on to that which is self-determined and yet made and remade with others.   Again Wheatley and Frieze capture this well when they write:
Commotion is walking at the pace of the other, rather than at whatever pace you want to go. It is a horizontal movement that begins with being rooted in your own purpose and place, and then connects with others who are rooted in theirs (p. 25).
When the path can only be made by walking, the world I have known tilts and the center cannot hold.  Instead of trying to re-organize the world to fit the prescribed story, I am practicing a few behaviors, informed by beliefs that still feel very shaky.

Start anywhere, follow it everywhere. 
Make the path while walking. 
I have what I need.  No heroes needed.
Walk at the pace of the slowest.

Create spaces to listen to underprivileged voices.
Trust my camera to see what I had trouble seeing, my hands to make what I most need to learn.

Turn to one another.


The road before me is unmade.
Will send posts.

Works Cited:
Wheatley, Margaret & Deborah Frieze. (2011-04-11). Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Do Not Know It/It Is Without Name/It Is A Word Unsaid*

Screen shot from Waiting for Superman
I've been thinking about what might be left of public education and democracy, what might be left for our children and their children after the current crop of methods to 'reform' public education fail.  In the pause between failure and the inevitable rise of a new crop of doing unto others, what will remain and for whom?

Efficiency seems to cross the various reform efforts. Scratch beneath the surface of the Common Core Standards, national assessments, for-profit schools, charters, vouchers, pop films like Waiting for Superman, teacher/principal evaluations based on test scores, removal of collective bargaining, increased co-payment by public school educators for health benefits, publicly displaying teacher 'effetciveness' ratings in national newspapers and you will find efficiency. Much of the reforms rest on a belief that 'optimization of the system' (and the people) will lead to better student outcomes as measured by state mathematics and reading assessments.

It's the mistake of substituting system for people when trying to optimize that most concerns me. It reminds me of this classic clip from Modern Times. Imagine this scene today. Perhaps you see Chaplin as the teacher who is being 'enhanced' by the efficient machine?  Or some might see him as the student who is being 'optimized' via the great testing machine.




Efficiency is often the excuse for doing onto others. We blindly pay homage to efficiency and allow it to excuses our worse actions.

***************
 The Downside of Efficiency

A week ago while reading Walk Out, Walk On, I came across Brian Walker and David Salt's (2006)  Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World  who Meg Wheatley and Deborah Frieze quote:
“The more you optimize elements of a complex system of humans and nature for some specific goal, the more you diminish that system’s resilience. A drive for an efficient optimal state outcome has the effect of making the total system more vulnerable to shocks and disturbances" (p.9).
This quote sent me in search of more by Walker and Salt. Later int he boo they write:
"When we aim to increase the efficiency of returns from some part of the system by trying to tightly control it, we usually do so at the cost of the system's resilience. Other parts of the system begin to change in response to his new state of affairs--a part of the system, now constant, that used to vary in concert with others. A system with little resilience is vulnerable to being shifted over a threshold into a new regime of function and structure. And as we have seen this new regime is frequently one that doesn't provide us with the goods and services we want. And, very importantly, i is not a space from which we can easily return" (p. 141).
The observation, 'Other parts of the system begin to change in response to his new state of affairs--a part of the system, now constant, that used to vary in concert with others,' is particularly chilling.  It made me think about how the relentless push to ever increasing efficiency often pushes us to value fast fast fast as if it was our very self we have been trained to out run.

We speed up.

Our lives, in and out of school become ever more crazy.  We begin to resemble a scene out of Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi.




So who remains? Who gets lost? Who is abandoned in the efficient new world order of school reform? Will we notice?  Will we exercise the will to care?

Screen Shot from Koyaanisqatsi
A Different Way

There are alternatives we can embrace, especially when the certainty of standards, testing, charters, speed up, and so on collapses under its own weight. In Walk Out, Walk On, the authors tell us, 'when certainty collapses, it’s often replaced by curiosity'.  This curiosity, I suspect, leads some to walk out and on from restrictive systems.


Wheatley & Frieze explain that "Walk Outs' are:

people who bravely choose to leave behind situations, jobs, relationships, and ideas that restrict and confine them, anything that inhibits them. They walk on to the ideas, people, and practices that enable them to explore and discover new gifts, new possibilities (p.4).
I tend to agree with poet, Adrienne Rich, when she observes: 
I have to cast my lot
with those who age
after age,
perversely,
and with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.
Reconstituting the world (or at best a local parcel you call home) is situated well in a root belief of the Berkana Exchange. Again Wheatley and Frieze write:

We create healthy and resilient communities by relying on the wisdom and wealth available in our people, traditions and environment. This belief has led us to know that we must include the elders and the youth, we must invite in the wisdom of women, we must reinvigorate our history and traditions and discover their gifts for today’s world (p. 220).
The Exchange offers 8 principles to guide Walk Outs' work.  They include (pp. 221- 224):

  1. Start anywhere, follow it everywhere.
  2. We make our path by walking it.
  3. We have what we need.
  4. The leaders we need are already here.
  5. We are living the worlds we want today.
  6. We walk at the pace of the slowest.
  7. We listen, even to the whispers.
  8. We turn to one another.

There are those who have walked this open road before us. 

Listen.



Start anywhere?

Follow it everywhere?

Yes.

*Title is from Walt Whitman's Song of Myself.

Works Cited

Walker, Brian and David Salt 2006.  Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World. Seattle: Island Press.

Wheatley, Margaret; Frieze, Deborah (2011-04-11). Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now . Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Because Story Matters: Meet Elliot Baxter

Zaji Zabalerio, a film maker (Zesty Productions), is developing an interesting series of film shorts about Elliot Baxter, a high school student, slightly out of focus with at least some of his peers. What caught my eye (and held it) are all the large spaces Zabalerio composes in the work: spaces large enough to wander about, get lost, remember.

And isn't that the function of a well told story?  The invitation to wander?

Baxter is played by Rob Carroll.  Both Zabalerio and Carroll are students at Morristown high School in Morristown, NJ.

Take a look at the first installment.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

We Hardly Recognize Ourselves

a former student

Not too long after after my husband explains that for every year he remains a NJ public school teacher he will bring less money home thanks to hard caps and the required co-pays for health insurance, he asks me if I would still have become an educator given the ways things are now: the absence of money, the instability of work, the disrespect. 

His question gives me pause.

Would you have done this? Or would you have become a lawyer who makes art? he asks.

A lawyer making art makes me smile, but the question really pokes at a larger sense of loss I know each of us feels.  It's not that I work as an educator, but rather that I am an educator and have been one since I volunteered as a poet in residence at a school in Harlem and realized that I loved being with kids. I was 19. We talk a lot about passion in learning, and clearly being with kids lit me up.  I had not prepared to be a teacher and returned to college to become certified.  I began teaching high school English in the 1980s and supplemented my income by tending bar. Since then I have held a range of positions in public schools: teacher, director, assistant superintendent and most recently, professor.

I think of my husband who is now an English teacher and recall when he visited my high school classroom in a rural section of NJ and stood on the top of a desk to discuss the myth of elevated works of literature and then climbed down and blew away my seniors by reading his poetry aloud.  He would later tell me that he could see how much I loved what I did and that he would like to become a teacher too. In his 40th year he sold a business in Hell's Kitchen, we lived lean, and he became a teacher.

As a teacher, I carry the memory of former students with me.  They (in)form who I am; help me to negotiate my way in the world.  Even if I never work again in education, I will remain a teacher, and the memory of the work--the art and practice of it--will continue to give meaning to my life.  It's like the speaker who at the end of William Carlos Williams's The Desert Music, declares:
                                                  I am a poet! I

am. I am. I am a poet, I reaffirmed, ashamed

See, that's what the non-educators turn expert-overnight-crowd can't comprehend.  Teaching isn't merely a job. 

There are times I forget that--doubt it.  In these days when respect is thin, money tight, obligation heavy, and everyone who has never actually been a teacher is an expert--it's easy to doubt my choices; easy to not recognize my very self.  Like the Williams's speaker who questions and reaffirms that he is a poet, my knowing and doubting brings relief and shame. 

A lawyer making art? 


Unlikely.













Friday, December 9, 2011

Visualizing School Reform & School Redesign

In 1958, Thomas Pynchon wrote "Entropy," a short story published in his book, Slow Learner.

"Nevertheless," continued Callisto, "he found in entropy or the measure of disorganization for a closed system an adequate metaphor to apply to a certain phenomena in his own world. He saw, for example, the younger generation responding to Madison Avenue with the same spleen his own had once reserved for Wall Street: and in American 'consumerism' discovered a similar tendency from the least to most probable, from differentiation to sameness, from ordered individuality to a kind of chaos. He found himself, in short, restating Gibbs' prediction in social terms, and envisioned a heat-death for his culture in which ideas, like heat-energy, would no longer be transferred, since each point in it would ultimately have the same quantity of energy; and intellectual motion would, accordingly, cease." (Slow Learner, 88-89)
I wonder about this heat-death of ideas when I think about school reform.  I was thinking about energy it takes to fuel school reform and how top-down methods simply do not produce enough energy to even sustain themselves, let alone fuel 'other' interests, approaches. Just visually the design of top-down reform for complex matters seems an odd match--perhaps a hold over based on the idea of input-output systems where the mater at hand is at best, complicated, but never complex.

Visualizing School Reform


Humans mess up such simple systems.

We are inherently unpredictable.

Rhizomatic redesign methods allow for the potential of far more energy to be produced as simultaneous actions can and often do occur as a rhizomatic system is one without a beginning or end, but exists intermezzo: in the middle of things.

Visualizing Rhizomatic Redesign


Hmm.  A bit of playing about on my part.
Wondering what you think.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shh. Take a Trip. Now. Here. Go Home.

Go ahead and take a trip home.
Just follow the link.
Easy.



Hope you'll post your postcard (or link) after your trip.




Ready?














Click here