JJ Spending This Week With Economist Jeffrey Sachs

22 02 2011

Free! — no admission, registration, tuition. Materials not included and I may need to buy a book or two, maybe not. We’ll see.

It only took a cup of coffee, some battery power and less than ten minutes to get started with a world class professor (see his vita at end of post):

“Both [parties] are completely unrealistic . . . what’s happening in this country? . . .Both parties are financed by wealthy people . . . everyone caters to the top. . .
American influence is waning, American infrastructure is crumbling . . .except if you’re rich and you have a lot of money to invest, you’re investing in China. . . our politics is SO ODD right now, because it’s driven just by the very top. . .pure propaganda [of] Big Oil . . . food prices are at all-time highs, there’s instability all over the world. . .energy crises, food crises, do we talk about any of that in our country? Absolutely not.”

‎Next I found a short profession of his thoughts on education. Real education, not schooling: education to help our kids learn about the real world IN the real world, to “Think Big”, to experience and understand what’s being systematically twisted and lied about for the basest motives, in our textbooks and classrooms and broadcasts, even in the hallowed halls of the capitol buildings and courthouses we built to express and effect our American Dreams. So what does the Doctor order? Unschool them in the real world and encourage every opportunity for them to get out in it and unschool themselves:

“The irony is not that we are at an abyss that is unavoidable . . .it’s almost the opposite. We’ve unlocked the ability to promote economic development in all parts of the world. We have at our hand, the ability to end extreme poverty. We have before us either already existing or within reach, technologies . . .the question is whether we can BRING KNOWLEDGE TO BEAR on these solutions and then Read the rest of this entry »





Helping Real Kids in Their Real Lives, Right Now

27 10 2010

This teen reporter underlines a key point as we try to help all kids, not just those bullied at school — that their real lives are right now. Today matters utterly.

Dear Husband and I both were the oldest children in our families, and both my parents were firstborn as well. Talk about delayed gratification! — we were masters.

Fortunately for my own children, I was able to change or grow out of this mindset or learn its limitations at least, after the painful epiphany of losing both my parents much too young. I saw the gratification they’d so conscientiously delayed and delayed, denied to them forever . . .if you’re a Thinking Parent, that really makes you appreciate the people you love and the life you can live fully with them NOW.

Sayre Quevedo, 17, is a reporter with Youth Radio, a youth-driven production company based in Oakland:

I love the “It Gets Better” videos as much as the next gay kid. But I worry that the campaign makes it seem as if gay teenagers need to stow away in a time capsule until adulthood, when we can feel fulfilled and safe.

. . .I don’t think we should have to wait to live happily. . . Kids don’t change because we realize we’re gay. Our opportunities to be happy shouldn’t either.

Just to be clear, this isn’t a gay issue or a girl issue or about sex at all. Upper-crust universities have bullies. They just tend to make it about money as power instead of sex as power (well, except for the Duke Lacrosse guys who one might reasonably observe, combine both and don’t ever defer or deny gratification!)

By the end of the month, only a handful of students hadn’t given.

. . .”There was a huge push,” she says, which included knocking on the doors of those who had not yet donated. The student interns who ran the drive encouraged volunteers to ask about a student’s personal reasons for not giving but to accept no as a final answer.

With 24 hours left, there were, serendipitously, just 24 students who had not donated. One volunteer, an honors student in sociology, sent out a list of those students’ names via BlitzMail that was passed along to many people.

Candais Crivello was on that list. A former fund raiser for Dartmouth’s annual fund, she was surprised that some of the tactics her peers were using . . . In the end, the lone holdout was Read the rest of this entry »





Education Nation Thinking: School is a Social Network

27 09 2010

UPDATE: “Governing requires a humanism that we find largely absent in the business world of today. It calls for skills that the business world often overlooks or shuns. Governing requires the ability not to follow spreadsheets and marketing advice but to weigh all of the relevant information and decide what is best for all . . .”
******************
School is a social network but that’s not on the menu for this week’s Education Nation. I didn’t hear the phrase “liberal education” this morning either — but could that ideal be what we lost first, that led to America losing everything else?

What if, after a couple of generations of not really educating in the public schools, too busy exploiting them as captive consumers for our competing political causes and business opportunities instead, there’s no longer a critical mass of leaders and citizenry well-enough educated themselves to think productively about how to educate the next generation any better?

We’ve all heard the phrase “liberal education” and those of us of a certain (ahem) age, probably got a passably broad one somewhere along the way to this dystopic ruin of the House Our Liberally Educated Founders Built for us.

Folks with a liberal education, for example, are supposed to understand that “liberal” in this sense isn’t necessarily the opposite of conservative but it is the opposite of narrow, literal, training-and-conditioning-focused schooling, education drilled in to spec at the local mass-production public factory. Certainly liberal education is the opposite of for-profit Big Business and the cutthroat corporate mindset. Liberal education fosters intelligent, higher-order problem-solving and complex moral thought, humanist politics. And it’s not merely technical, not even at the MIT and NASA level. Math and science alone can’t put the liberal in a liberal education.

Devoutly Catholic William F. Buckley for example, had an extraordinarily liberal education as the debate-dominating wind in his arch-conservative sails. OTOH the Governor of Texas and his education makes one weep for education: Texas Governor Treats Colleges Like Businesses [as]
Regents promote his agenda, to faculty members’ chagrin

But Americans now get little education of any kind, much less a true liberal education. It’s all schooling and all to factory specs: tough, increasingly nationalized standards, radically mind-numbing regulations, authoritarian rewards and punishments for knowledge workers (both teachers and students) meted out by principal overseers in all school systems? More of that is hardly a new education idea nor a liberal one.

Anthony Seldon, Wellington College:

“good education should be the opportunity for each child to discover who they are, how they should relate to others, and what they love about life.”

Engaged liberal education vs. “Mass-Production Factories
of the Mind”
:

I’ve been anxiously following the news about the new National Governors Association initiative, Complete to Compete,  and the recent announcements about states competing for Race to the Top funding, and I continue to worry about reductionist models of education driving our reform agendas.  I think that many of our policy makers and government officials at both the state and federal levels actually do believe in the full promise of liberal education, but somehow forget what that really means in educational practice when they get down to developing actual policy proposals.

Here are my notes typed in as I watched all Monday morning. They’re in Maimi-Dade with Arne Duncan and student questions this afternoon. I’ll keep listening and thinking and be pulling from these notes for blogging later:

NBC Universal
EDUCATION NATION

Morning Joe and Today Show

Public survey on who’s to blame for what’s failing in schools, top two get more than half the public blaming them:
elected officials
parents

Then the very bottom group, teachers, gets only one-third of the public blaming them:
teacher unions
principals/admin
teachers

LA Unified Sch District has about one-third of all kids suffering from PTSD, biggest identified problem is violence

NJ Republican Gov Christie says it’s all about breaking the unions, forcing them to admit they’ve created the problem by making everything about their money and not caring about kids. Reward and punishment is his Read the rest of this entry »





Blackwater, Google and Whales, Oh My

25 02 2010

JJ’s News Riddle of the Day:
What do all corporate giants from health insurance and banking, shape-shifting black-hat Blackwater to white-hat feel-good Googly-YouTube internationals just yearning to be freeee, have in common with killer whales?

Punchline:
Superhuman powers, no human morals.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — SeaWorld has suspended killer whale shows at all of its parks following the death of a trainer in Orlando, Florida. A horrified audience looked on as a killer whale named Tilikum snatched the trainer from a poolside platform and thrashed her under water. She drowned. It’s the third time the animal has been involved in a human death.

So because of what they have in common (with each other, *not* with us) they hurt us over and over and over, incapable of stopping themselves, of caring or even comprehending why we do. Because they are NOT HUMAN!

Schakowsky also discussed her plan to ban private military contractors . . .like Blackwater [that] are “putting our own troops in danger, ruining the reputation of our country, murdering people and still getting tax payer dollars.”

She explained that she is trying to garner public support for the Stop Outsourcing Our Security Act, which would phase out “repeat offenders” like Blackwater who have “imperiled our mission on numerous occasions.”

And we keep letting them! Not funny. So maybe just call it the punch, instead of punchline.

For example, you might feel outraged — does Sarah Palin? Haven’t heard her jump on this like she did the r-word, hmmm — thinking that a real human with Down Syndrome was the victim in Italy’s obscene video for fun and profit, but that’s such a soft-hearted typical human weakness, you should think like a corporation! Here’s the REAL victim, poor old internet giants like Google and YouTube, plagued by our Lilliputian pinprick concerns like the need for a living wage and family privacy and our natural drive to protect each other Read the rest of this entry »





What’s in a Name Like Harvard, Yale, Princeton?

31 01 2010

Classic snooking around that seems timely again:

What IS in a name like Harvard, Yale, Princeton? Entitlement, privilege, status, the life lesson that wealth and leisure define success? At best a sense of noblesse oblige to all the little people left behind? What do whole generations learn from the culture of aspiring to be accepted by such a name, literally from wanting and then being found wanting?
(Compare that universal lesson to the very best learning Harvard could hope to give the few, the chosen, the accepted and enrolled — does the effect balance out in society’s favor, or not so much?)

See “School Socialization Should Shame Us All”:

Everything about college campus life — from getting in to getting along, to getting through, to getting a job through those social contacts — imposes this same lesson by institutional design and with institutional support, and college presidents must’ve learned it as well as any silly sorority girl or rejected chubbette.

Maybe better! – some university presidents are in practice shamelessly playing for institutional reputation, recruiting by rankings, weeding and culling and shuffling students like playing cards for the next bet, grasping for the top and misrepresenting the truth, all for institutional glorification bigger to them than the import of any individual students underserved, unserved or downright devastated by the “lesson” –





Nobody Does It Better: Unpacking Political Corruption

28 01 2010

Before she knew Barack Obama much less Sarah “Pallin’ around with Terrorists” Palin and Joe “You Lie” the Plumber — um, Wilson — JJ once wrote:

I feel like we’ve been fighting each other so long that it’s not about fighting for competing goals or visions any more, as much as it is the fight itself. . .

I’m not in the hole alone, and dirt is flying all around me.

IF it’s really completely hopeless, and we always must be at war among ourselves just because we’re human, then progressive thinkers can at least admit it to ourselves and figure out how to integrate THAT into our world view. It would be more honest.

She concluded much later by asking, “So — now what?”  None of us could answer that then, beyond another shift in party power.  Can we (any of us) do any better now?

In October 2006, Culture Kitchen was hosting serious, honest good-government talk among Thinking Citizens.  Remember way back then? The GOP was in authoritarian command and control (government as god and guns for private profits) but an election was on the horizon and Scientist-Democrat-blogger Mole wrote a post making the case that

“Democrats Stand for Honest Government
The Republican Party is imploding because of corruption. Their corruption has already sent Randy Cunningham to jail and forced the resignation of Tom DeLay and Mark Foley. In Ohio and Missouri and Kentucky their corruption is shocking. And voters are tired of it.

The Republicans try to cover up their corruption, lying for each other. They even protected a sexual predator for six years! When faced with corruption in their ranks, Republicans lie and cover their tracks. Their final defense is to whine pitifully, “but the Democrats do it too!”

Well, Democrats have indeed been known to be corrupt. But there are differences.  .  . We attack Republican corruption and on the rare occasions it comes up we attack Democratic corruption as well. I see no comparable reform movement within the Republican Party. All I see are more lies, more sleaze and more greed. All I see are Republicans and companies like Halliburton and Exxon and Enron in an orgy of greed and profit, looting America and sacrificing American troops for profit.

. . .Republicans wallow in corruption. Democrats are fighting corruption.

So Nance (longtime Democrat) and JJ (longtime independent non-partisan) engaged this argument, in ways disconcertingly relevant this morning in January 2010, knowing what we know now and having just watched the State of the Union last night — President Barack Obama (longtime Democrat) appealing to GOP power brokers and especially to us longtime independent non-partisans.

I recommend you go to Culture Kitchen and read the whole conversation because we weren’t the only ones thinking and talking, but here are some excerpts just from JJ and Nance:

Just Can’t Buy It

Submitted by JJ Ross on 11 October 2006 –

That ship has sailed, hopefully for the last time with a majority of American voters innocently at the pier waving goodbye and welcoming in the new.

However earnest and sincere individual candidates and operatives may be, polls and personal observations persuade me neither Rs nor Ds will be able to dump a load of “purity and honesty” cargo on us to just buy on faith and pay for later, and maybe that’s a good thing.

Some new third party for the same old system isn’t my idea of change, either. The system is corrupt, nobody does it better, and we’re just not in the media mass market for any more cheap and peeling tricks with a fresh coat of paint slapped on,peddled as progressive government.

I suffer from chronic liar,liar, pants on fire exhaustion, like nearly everyone I know in ordinary family life. Say we ARE collectively in the mood for real change, toward something that really is more honest and productive than we’ve constituted as government in our lifetime. What would we suggest, without the union (or any other) label I mean? There ought to be ideas other than soundbite-slogan partisan ones we can at least start imagining and working toward, building new frames, having new conversations . . .

Unpacking Corruption

I’d unpack the sins and slogans a little differently is all (I am not R or Green or any other festive party color.)
😉

Yes, of course, honesty is the right direction, so great for us all if some Dems are heading that way or at least acknowledging it’s the right direction. But it’s not just because they ARE Dems though, is it, really? And they aren’t all alike, nor are all R pols or us independents.

And are they really the only ones you see moving that way? That’s all I’m saying, not throwing out rhetoric, honest!
The poll says I’m not alone in seeing dishonesty in too many places and all the wrong faces . . .

I think your case can be made reasonably to the public but ironically, Read the rest of this entry »





Happy Humanist New Year, All You Thinking Parents! Now Get to Work

1 01 2010

How will you mark this upcoming season of renewed dedication, to living your own best life? How about never mind the customary concentration on “no” this time of year — ask not what you can stop, or quit, or give up; ask what you can give and give more of, what you can do and do more of.

So here’s a gift for all good people looking to give and do and affirm, to celebrate values we do believe in, to be the change we mean to make in the world.

Today, January 1, 2010, marks the grand opening of a highly evolved human network that in life-changing concept means as much to me now, as the National Home Education Network did in its nascence, way back last century. 😀

It is the Foundation Beyond Belief:

Our Mission: To demonstrate humanism at its best by supporting efforts to improve this world and this life; to challenge humanists to embody the highest principles of humanism, including mutual care and responsibility; and to help and encourage humanist parents to raise confident children with open minds and compassionate hearts.

On the educational side, the Foundation will help create and fund local groups for the education and social support of humanist/atheist parents.

I was cornered in the kitchen of a Christmas party by a well-lubricated older someone, who I’d not expected ever to pressure me about declaring Christian beliefs.

Despite his conservative political beliefs and fealty to FOX News, he’s only a church-goer in that culturally conformist, mostly secular way, if you know what I mean. I may have been a bit lubricated myself, too free of tongue in sharing my own real convictions about what is real and important right here on earth, and what gets in the way between people of good will.

So before I knew what was happening, he was staring into my eyes and declaring that I wasn’t the person he knew and admired, if I didn’t believe in his god and follow that particular god’s politics. Or else perhaps I was muddled and foolish and didn’t know my own mind; perhaps I was a good saved person who just didn’t understand how the almighty was indulging my silly disbelief, and I could come to my senses if he took a firm stand for my soul.

Well, what the hell do you say to THAT?! Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Read the rest of this entry »