Maybe If We Had Known That We Didn’t Know. . .

28 10 2011

This is headlined as “The Boomer Parent’s Lament”:

“Maybe if I knew that our children would be coming of age in an economy that would crush even the best and brightest among them, I would have cared a little less about their score on an advanced placement history test, and a little more about helping them find happiness in moments at the margin.”

UNSCHOOLING boomer parents though, knew this all along and we aren’t lamenting any such thing. Finding happiness in the moment and the margin AND smack-dab in the middle of the morning too, while everyone else was sweating yet another test — that was the whole program, the whole point, the whole power of our story.

Didn’t JJ just finish saying something like that? 😉

There was a book excerpt in the NYT Sunday magazine so stunning that I ordered the book online. I was waiting to read it before blogging anything about it but it’s been on my mind in every current conversation, now including this one. The book is “Thinking, Fast and Slow” and its professor author Daniel Kahneman was a 2002 Nobel laureate in economics.

The big point is that we humans tend to hold fast to (often false) confidence that we’re doing the right thing and that we can “know” what that is, even when we’re smart enough to SEE that we aren’t, and don’t, and can’t.

The Hazards of Confidence:

We rarely experienced doubt or conflicting impressions. . . [but] as it turned out, despite our certainty about the potential of individual candidates, our forecasts were largely useless.

The evidence was overwhelming. . . our ability to predict performance at the school was negligible. Our forecasts were better than blind guesses, but not by much.

What do you think about the right way to school kids and prepare them for quantifiable success? How confident are you that you’re right about that? 😉

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“Derailing for Dummies” — How to Sabotage Civility and Ruin Conversation!

30 01 2011

Derailing for Dummies is a major collection, not one article. Here are the section headings:

Just follow this step-by-step guide to Conversing with Marginalised People™ and in no time at all you will have a fool-proof method of derailing every challenging conversation you may get into, thus reaping the full benefits of every privilege that you have. . .

Read on, and learn, and remember… you don’t have to use these in any particular order! In fact, mixing them up can really keep those Marginalised People™ on their toes! After all, they are pretty much used to hearing this stuff, so you don’t want to get too predictable or they’ll get lazy!

If You Won’t Educate Me How Can I Learn
If You Cared About These Matters You’d Be Willing To Educate Me
You’re Being Hostile
But That Happens To Me Too!
You’re Being Overemotional
You’re Just Oversensitive
You Just Enjoy Being Offended Read the rest of this entry »





New and Improved Obama! Brought to You By Corporate America

29 01 2011

as epitomized at rise-worldwide dot com

“[G]overnment is now said to be the problem. . .
The favor shown to charter schools by the president and his secretary of education Arne Duncan, in their endorsement of the testing regime of Race to the Top, draws on that ideology without much skepticism; and as Diane Ravitch has shown, it has encouraged a broad disdain for the supposed lack of ‘results’ in public education that is not supported by facts.”

I’ve been wanting to write about “venture philanthropy” too, but it’s so big, so important in how it pulls together the impact of what’s really been going on in the corporatization of education — for my parentthood if not my lifetime — that so far I have been daunted:

A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels.





Does Michelle RHEE-ly Put Students First?

10 12 2010

Michelle Malkin’s Siamese twin Michelle Rhee (can’t separate them looking or listening) is being interviewed on my small screen this morning, called a “hero” and a “revolutionary” by conservative non-educator white guys on Morning Joe’s set, for what she’s supposedly doing as the real deal children’s advocate, the only one “fighting” for students against their bad old public schools.

She defends her Wicked Witch of the East treatment of DC parents and schoolfolk (see Time article quotes below) saying the one thing she regrets is seeming so mean and angry and imperious.

She claims she wasn’t all that angry, not all the time at everyone at least, and SHE’s the one on the kids’ side against everyone else in education and in their communities, so she will continue mocking and undermining and firing and fighting for unilateral control — except she wants to sound less bitchy, and therefore more bankable, as she does it.

This belated image adjustment apparently is meant to befit and benefit her new personal-public-private Rule the Schools front, dubbed “Students First” because as I hear her, our nation’s students aren’t first in public policy priority so they’re not first competitively, but she can put them first in both senses if we let her run things:

December 08, 2010 posted by Michelle Rhee
International study finds U.S. students far behind those in other countries [read ASIAN students]

Shanghai is first; the U.S. is not. One reason I started Students First is because I know that we can only compete with China and other leading countries if we transform our schools. If we were to grade the academic performance of the world’s industrialized economies, Singapore, South Korea, and now Shanghai would get an A — the United States would get a C, at best, and in math we’d get an F.

But how exactly will she accomplish all this winning? Her education-school reform ideal sounds like little more than inflicting her own poorly-understood dramas and traumas from Korean and American schooling on us all:

Her parents immigrated from South Korea several years before she was born so that her father could study medicine at the University of Michigan.

. . .After Rhee finished sixth grade, her parents sent her to South Korea to live with an aunt and attend a Korean school, a harrowing experience for a child in a strange land with limited skills in its language. When she returned a year later, her parents sent her to a private school because they found the public schools lacking.

And she never explains, or even acknowledges the question of, how the chaotically individualized and nearly ungovernable USA, by emulating Asian schooling for homeogeneous Asian children in ancient Asian cultures, will magically out-Asian them and jump to first again. (What would true original Western education reform look like, hmmm? Radical unschooling?)

I wrote pretty kindly about Colin Powell and his wife, coming at school reform from their own subculture’s education power of story. I can’t and won’t do that with Rhee’s Read the rest of this entry »





The Season After Summer? Back-to-School, of Course

16 08 2010

“The keeper of my time is my keeper.”

“If love of money is the root of all evil, the taming of time must surely be its minion. . .”

There were always five natural seasons, not four, immutable as day to night to day again:
Spring
Summer
Back to School
Autumn
Winter

So was it written, so shall it be done, amen?
That’s why it seems to me now that this time of year is the most natural time for a Culture Kitchen classic: We the Clockkeepers and Our Tyranny of Time:

Have you noticed Big Government and Big Business have effectively taken over all our time, one way or another? — colluding to Read the rest of this entry »





What America Needs to Be Free and Fit, Is Diverging and Then CON-verging:

16 07 2010

Cognitive science that says creativity is diverging and then CONverging:

“There is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result). . .

All around us are matters of national and international importance that are crying out for creative solutions, from saving the Gulf of Mexico to bringing peace to Afghanistan to delivering health care. Such solutions emerge from a healthy marketplace of ideas, sustained by a populace constantly contributing original ideas and receptive
to the ideas of others. . .

Creativity isn’t about freedom from concrete facts. Rather, fact-finding and deep research are vital stages in the creative process. . . .

The new view is that creativity is part of normal brain function. Some
scholars go further, arguing that lack of creativity–not having loads of it–is the real risk factor. In his research, Read the rest of this entry »





Unity Emerging: All Political Divides Boil Down to One Common Purpose

6 01 2010

Call it a pure syrup of 100% political sap?

No, hmmm, today’s power of story fits the “flying” analogy better than the “food” analogy.

Leonard Pitts Jr’s version of this fear-of-flying story:

So polarized has our leadership become that it is incapable of seeing in any dimension beyond the political. When attempted mass murder is seen as an “opportunity” on the one side and a signal to circle the wagons on the other, one can only conclude that for some, partisanship literally matters more than life itself.

I know what you’re thinking and for the record, yes: I did indeed make this same argument — repeatedly — when Democrats tried to use 9/11 to damage George W. Bush.

I renew it now with an urgency. Too often, our leaders cannot work for the greater good because they acknowledge no good greater than politics. But if that’s truly our prime directive and highest imperative, God help us all.

I’ve written analytically about the Logic of Failure in complex institutions and systems including air travel, after 9/11 but before the Christmas Day Underwear Terrorist:

This morning I see a right answer in the news, real analysis and insight for all those of us who puzzle over public school policy (and party politics, religious wars, et cetera) and just can’t understand why we keep doing all the wrong things wronger, regressing rather than progressing:

Schooling is like flying.

The whole story is about how aggressive and insulated data analysts crunch endless numbers to create operational models that are statistically attractive but unfit for human consumption, thereby infuriating regular, responsible people just trying to participate in the system in good faith.

I’ve also written to jolly folks into a little flexibility and imagination and resilience in public policy, including dress codes and even airplane underwear! — you know, the Daniel Pink whole new mind with drive but not driven kind, power of story from which unregulated, unlegislated true human progress can spring, the kind that demands partisan politics must loosen up, wise up and grow up all at the same time:

My practical proposal doesn’t force anyone to do anything nor deprive anyone of anything, nor does it discriminate in illegitimate fashion. (Fashion – that word keeps coming up!) It doesn’t depend on demonizing either common objects or innocent people, nor must it wait to develop new science and technology. In other words, no metal detectors; lie detectors; curbside inspections; civil liberty intrusions like body cavity searches, racial profiling and personal data mining; explosive-sniffing dogs, financial or spectrum analysis.

It is at once spontaneous, light-hearted and scientifically proven as a simple and effective way to separate Islamic terrorists from the tourists and business travelers of the free world. . . let those cheerfully wearing a pair of panties on their heads pass through without even slowing down.

But our nation’s leadership has taken the Logic of Failure so far in its own systems and institutions of governance, that they now seem unable to help themselves, much less any of us. So we the people have accommodated ourselves to mindless miseries as everything just gets worse and worse:

“In other words, we’re stuck with the current system, because it isn’t really in any[one’s] interest to try to change it.”

Happy New Year? Harumph!