¿Os interesa leer el primer capítulo de Undoing the Demos de Wendy Brown con el grupo virtual Cibola? Nos reuniremos via Second Life el martes 21 de febrero a las 9pm EST. Mandadme un mail y os paso los detalles, firstname.lastname@example.org .
Thursday, February 09, 2017
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Estas guías son una maravilla, sobre cómo podemos (tú, yo, nuestros estudiantes...) mejorar nuestros entornos. (En particular me parece que la guía de "hacer prototipos" nos puede servir a los académicos.)
Otras maneras de pensar y hacer las cosas. ¡Nos están esperando maneras más inclusivas!
Monday, January 09, 2017
In 2011 I had the luck of teaching a student in New Zealand who became very interested in the topics I've been researching (cultural phenomena in the public spaces in Spanish cities). On Friday something even more unprecedented happened to me: we got to present our research together side by side! She gave a very original and humanitarian talk based on her MA thesis about the importance of community-building in two self-governed spaces in Madrid (El campo de Cebada and Esta es una Plaza). Her speaking was clear and eloquent. The photos were her own, and the info came from interviews she conducted over several months with activists in Madrid. This made me feel very proud, like all this work has been worth it! It felt extra important to hear her research at a time when the Humanities and humanity face such illogical and cruel adversities. So, we had to celebrate with bubble tea. Levantad el té, la lucha sigue!
Monday, January 02, 2017
Below you will find our short draft papers for the MLA Special Session "391: "The Cultural Dimensions of Resistance: Spain after the 15M." Moderated by the generous Malcolm Compitello. (More specifically, these four papers focus on the cultural politics of reclaiming public space in Madrid, Barcelona, and Sevilla.) Please email the authors if you'd like to use their ideas or if you'd like a copy of the longer version of their papers.
Ellis Schriefer, "Catharsis, Collective Identity and the Creation of Public Space in Madrid: Esta es una Plaza and El Campo de Cebada." (email@example.com)
Lena Tahmassian, "Nazario’s Plaza Real: The Porous Boundaries Between the Public and the Common." (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sally Perret, "Creative Spaces: Contemporary Artistic Responses to Neoliberal Capitalism in Seville." (email@example.com)
Megan Saltzman, "Post-15M Colectivos Autogestionados for Inclusive Spaces: #FemPlaça, Germanetes, and Pla Buits." (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Monday, December 12, 2016
Friday, December 09, 2016
for those feeling down these days, you may like to rest your mind on these mundane mise-en-scenes from Yasujiro Ozu's films. (you can click on them to see them larger.)
this last one is from Tokyo Story, three warm hearts. Here Setsuko Hara ("Noriko") serves tea to her in-laws who have come for a visit.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
The Manual de Mapeo Colectivo by the Argentine urban exploration collective Iconoclasistas has been translated to English. The entire book is available online for free here:
Sunday, May 29, 2016
an exciting day yesterday at Barcelona en Comú's one year anniversary event at Estació Nord's park --
(instant notes) "Mes transparent, mes colaboratiu, mes humild... Recuperar les institucions per a la gent... Traballar per a una ciutat refugi... La influencia europea de Barcelona... Tenim molt camini... Hem sentit que tenim força social...Fer mes pera que la ciutadá sea protagonisme...tothom nosaltres tenim molta responsabilitat..." Afterwards, Q+A sessions. Questions/complaints related to: prostitution, airbnb pisos turísticos, fines for having posted something in public, cafe chairs taking over sidewalks...). Afterwards, 2-3 hours of big paella in the parque for which Colau sat with others and her 5 y/o old son. Not so many people present, maybe ~200, no security (!!!!, imagine if this were in the US), very low-key, some media was there, including independent film directors Cecilia Barriga (making documentary about female politicians) and Pau Faus (just released documentary on Ada Colau).
overall, Colau was extremely accessible, humble, energetic, "horizontal", and empathetic in words and actions. (A small-scale political model for the US.) I commend Colau for, among many other things, showing her vulnerable feelings (she was genuinely nervous, happy, friendly). Though usually excluded, these too are part of our politics. (I wanted to tell her about her influence in the US, but I imagined she was exhausted with such a long event and so many people coming up to hug/kiss/speak to her. So I just made eye contact and said, "¡gracias, Ada!" And she responded, "¡nos vemos!" ; )
Sunday, May 22, 2016
yesterday I found two original talks on the relationship between nature and our current economic/education/culture crisis.
1) last night was "nit de museus", "night of museums", where approximately all 60 of barcelona's museums were free and open till 1 in the morning (!!). loooong lines all over the city. i feel awkward in museums, but my housemate wanted to see the catalan modernism museum, so i went along with him. inside the museum the motif of nature/organicity was prominent in the paintings, posters, sculptures, and furniture pieces created BY and FOR the affluent 19th century burguesía catalana. (below, a photo of a snail handle on a closet that i identified with.)
2) more accessible and less visual, our colleague iñaki prádanos has been sharing ideas on today´s society/culture/economy in relation to ecology. i read his recent research piece “Degrowth and Ecological Economics” and contains some useful ideas and practical PROPOSALS (that students, politicians, voters, educators, big business people could use) to improve the quality and health of our communities at a time when our current economic/political system can no longer IGNORE the ecological/economic catastrophes that it is rapidly creating (as if the planet’s resources were infinite). our leaders' depletion of our natural resources is closely related to you and me, if not at the core of the problems we study (unemployment, poverty, immigration, mental well-being, education, history, sexism, crime, healthy food, discrimination...etc.).
“The economic system is nothing but a subsystem embedded in, and dependent on, the system of the biosphere. […] An economic system based on constant economic growth, global massive urban development, and an ever faster production and consumption of commodities is undesirable, destructive, unendurable, and unrealistic.” (p.147)
Thursday, April 07, 2016
y preguntas pedagógicas desde la página de la Brigada Abraham Lincoln: http://resources.alba-valb.org/lesson-plan-pictorial-narratives-from-children-in-war/#.VwaAQD_jJW0
Sunday, February 21, 2016
For humans teaching Spanish language +/o culture: here's the start of an
experimental activity on photography if you'd like to use it. This could
go in many different directions... and is not a comprehensive list.
[Joan Colom, 1960, Barri Xino, Barcelona]
Sunday, January 10, 2016
To those interested in theory related to urban space:
On Thurs. Jan 21 at 7pm Eastern US time we will discuss Henri Lefebvre's "Rhythmanalysis." This is a neat text on the rhythms, repetitions, and quiet hummings of our everyday contemporary urban life (maybe like street noise, store hours, traffic lights, doors opening/closing...). Unlike his other technical work on space, this text seems to be more focused on poetic types of temporalities in space. And since it's Lefebvre, I predict that the text will discern the capitalistic-political-philosophical life embedded in these rhythms. (I haven't read it yet.)
Like before, we'll be talking over a "virtual reality" platform (Second Life) which has its pros and cons (a con being that it can take a while to set up, so if you plan to join us, please give yourself time).
We usually talk in Spanglish/English/Spanish. Don't be shy, we are friendly!
If you need the text (I have it in English and Spanish), or help with set up, feel free to email me.
1. Download and install Firestorm:
2. Go to this URL address: (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/cibola/26/180/28).
(If it's your first time, somewhere in that process, in Second Life, you have to create an avatar.)
Monday, December 21, 2015
A positive side to globalization.
How often does a political party announce a victory speech in two languages, one being for a universal public?
-- Communication that is knowledgeable of our global ties and unifies us in the struggle against social exclusion.
Spanish election: Podemos says results mean new political futu...
"Democracy has to reach the economy, so that human rights, as well as dignity, are not violated... history is ours, and it's the people who make it."Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Spain's left wing Podemos party reacts to achieving a fifth of the vote in the country's elections - and denying the ruling party a majority.
Posted by Channel 4 News on Monday, December 21, 2015
If you're interested in what happened in the Spanish elections yesterday, here is a good summary in English: http://inthesetimes.com/…/spain-2015-election-results-podem…
and the fine details of what happens next without a clear majority: http://elpais.com/…/…/12/21/inenglish/1450684257_190223.html
Similarly, browsing around for an article to use in class about (my hero) Ada Colau, I found her website--humble, activistic, and (again, unprecedented in Spanish politicas) in three languages: adacolau.cat/en/bio-completa .
Saturday, November 28, 2015
Sunday, November 08, 2015
Friday, November 06, 2015
"Without thinking about it, he had made them discover this thing that he discovered with them: that all sentences, and consequently all the intelligences that produce them, are of the same nature." (Rancière, The Ignorant Schoolmaster)
"They ['cultures of anyone'] avoid creating divisions between those 'in the know' and 'those in the dark,' asserting that we all know something, nobody knows everything, and our abilities are developed better when we learn together than when we live in hierarchical relationships. [. . . ] 'cultures of anyone' as forms of cultural democratization [. . . ] opening the construction of knowledge and of values to participation by anyone." (Moreno Caballud, Cultures of Anyone)Led by Malcolm Compitello, I experienced an exciting discussion format last week with posthumans across the U.S. via Second Life's virtual reality interface. As a person who relies on technology to hear and who has always wished that meetings and conferences came with subtitles, this was uplifting--it felt very inclusive and easy to participate (although I wouldn't suggest it as a replacement for face-to-face!). Participants were able to speak and be heard over the computer, but, unlike a video conference, we were also were also able to type in a chat box (and many did since there were some audio problems). I found the chat box feature really helpful; I think it encouraged more quiet folks to participate. Also, the hierarchy of the academic who's-who, so common at conferences, did not exist. In Second Life everyone chooses a username and an avatar (strangely limited to a male-gaze character, a punk rock singer, or a dragon). And with a semi-anonymous username and a silly avatar, everyone was leveled to the same 2D plane and social status was set aside. Another plus, due to the audio difficulties and unfamiliar set-up, those who spoke made an effort to speak slowly.
Like the innovative work that ALCES is doing and other 'cultures of anyone,' this Second Life initiative is truly open to the public, making an effort to poke holes in our academic bubbles. ANYONE with an internet connection can participate in Second Life.
On November 19, 2015 the group will be discussing "Podemos and its Critics" by Seguín. See below.
Instructions for participation, first time users, please give yourself 30-45 minutes to set-up:
1. Download and install Firestorm:
2. Go to this URL address: (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/cibola/26/180/28).
If you need help, please contact any of us.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
dad has a camera on his cellphone now
so now I receive little gifts like this one
I've been reading about the Japanese aesthetic philosophy of "wabi sabi" and I can relate to it very much as a general way of life, I've found a little validation for some of my thoughts that often make me feel like the odd one out in this aggressive human ego competition that seeks perfection and superiority over one's fellow human being. I've always been fascinated with imperfection.
For me wabi sabi means resistance, kindness, difference, honesty.
Wabi sabi is an appreciation for and recognition of the fleeting imperfections and dependency in and around us:
Friday, September 11, 2015
a phase that lasts for a couple months in which the dead person could have the ability to listen and also nod "ok"
Why couldn’t there be a phase, for example, that lasts for a couple months during which a dead person could have the ability to listen and also nod “ok”? Why is it merely life to death? Response to no-response? That’s very extreme. Wouldn’t it make more sense if there was a transitional phase? That would make the mourning, and natural existence, much easier for plants and animals alike. …A, your beloved, is dead. You feel tremendous loss and emptiness, more than you can imagine. Sometimes You REALLY NEED to communicate this to A, to such an extent that you can feel the NEED in every tingling nerve in your body. But, even if you were to verbalize something, there’s no palpable way for A to HEAR or be conscious of what you need to tell him/her. Isn’t that awful? (Is this why men keep creating religions?) Why would nature take such a cruel binary form? On-off, life-death?
Saturday, August 08, 2015
ACLA seminar proposal: Nomadic Waste & Ecological Materiality in Neoliberal Space (Hispanic Studies)
Neoliberalism, consumer society, sends mass populations and material resources on rapid, nomadic itineraries around the planet, creating extreme abundance and scarcity in places we usually cannot see. Many of us interact with these objectified subjects or objects for a short amount of time—consuming and discarding resources without a second thought of where they come from or where they go after we discard them. As a result of the global economic crisis and our virtual connectedness, we are witnessing an increase in individuals and collectives who are re-appropriating, redistributing, and re-signifying the uneven flows of materiality—whether it be food, housing, cultural materials, trash, or ecological resources. The motives behind these initiatives may be for personal survival or for collective politics; regardless—their actions counter the neoliberal “order of things” as they perforate neoliberal spatial controls and often provide resources or agency to subjects that have none or very little (J. Rancière). We can think, for instance, of the politics of gleaners (chatarreros) who rummage and recycle trash; informal or black-market economies (piratería, top manta…); artists and activists that create Do-It-Yourself or advocacy projects with discarded or ecological goods (cartoneras…); and cultural centers and NGOs that establish self-sustainable “commons” such as food banks, urban gardens, second-hand supplies, or community currencies.
Many of these activities are initiated in globally expanding and ecologically depleted cities. And they straddle the lines between legality and illegality, public and private, visibility and invisibility, and the urban/periphery/rural (D. Mitchell, A. Merrifield). Many of them are dynamically networked and function via independent collectives, international connections, and social media. Given the increasing interconnections and parallels amongst these phenomena, this seminar aims to bring together and put in dialogue initiatives from many Spanish and Spanglish related speaking localities as well as their coexisting non-dominant language communities.
Our seminar hopes to mediate between fiction and non-fiction and the humanities and the socio-natural sciences in order to discuss pressing political, ecological, ethical, spatial, and cultural questions regarding waste and ecological resources in neoliberal space. For instance:
- What does mapping the itineraries of discarded materials or their corresponding subjects reveal about neoliberal order and resistance, creativity, community, in/exclusion, political possibility? To what extent and for whom is resistance effective? What is needed to optimize these initiatives?
What forms of control (surveillance cameras, police, gentrification, economic capital, physical barriers…etc.) are these phenomena working with/against? And who specifically dominates these controls/barriers?
What types of engagements and results have emerged between autonomous initiatives and direct political protest? Between autonomous initiatives and government-corporate powers?
What do these material trajectories of use and non-use reveal about contentious temporalities?
- What is or should be our role as researchers and educators within these urgent problems?
Plan: Early December participants will be asked to share one or two texts (of any type) that may be significant in thinking about and/or taking action in relation to these themes. The week before the conference we will share our written paper or work-in-progress by email. Finally, during the seminar days, we will meet 3 times across 2 or 3 days. During this time each presenter will present his/her ideas, images, and/or questions related to his/her research project.
Theoretical keywords (definitely not limited to--)
New Materialism, Eco-systems, Action Research, Globalization; Border/Transnational Studies, Urban Studies, Mobility Studies, Object Oriented Ontology, Anthropocene, Hispanic Cultural Studies.
Resulting Program: docs.google.com/document/d/1vj-41cg7bKX92ISaPRX3CwyOUYeylSDzRDmlf3_Qpz8/edit
(image from Vagabundos de la chatarra, Sagar & Carrión)
"A saber lo que arrojan por las ventanas a estas horas de la noche. Vecinos desesperados. En las redes hay botelas de cava, recipientes de plástico, medias y calcetines, condones y pájaros muertos..."
Monday, August 03, 2015
Having worked 3 years in New Zealand, I agree with most of this.
Worth the read.
Saturday, August 01, 2015
Friday, July 24, 2015
Mapping the politics of urban smells: https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/researchers-maps-city-smells-smelly-maps
I've been thinking a lot about what Barcelona--a high-density odor-intense city--smells like. Of course the smells change with the season. In the summer the smells are more potent and shop doors are open, their AC and perfumed atmospheres pouring out into the streets.
dried dog urine,
garbage from the contenedores,
dry pine-earth smell from platanero trees,
perfume from clothing shops,
humid mold from the sewers.
in Madrid I smell more fried calamares and jamón.
Trees, parks, and green spaces are not as common in Mediterranean cities as they are in N. European cities. More trees are needed to purify and maintain oxygen in the air. (This summer 2015 several news articles have been published on the rising pollution in Spanish cities. I.e.: http://www.huffingtonpost.es/2014/05/07/ciudades-espanolas-contam_n_5280381.html).
Artist Kate Mclean has been mapping sensorial elements in cities (olfactory, tactile...). Check out: http://sensorymaps.com/
From Mclean's work, I arrived at Marta Calvo's smellwalks in Pamplona. http://sensorymaps.com/portfolio/smellmap-pamplona/
And several detailed maps by Cambridge University: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/06/07/maps-what-your-city-smells-like
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Saturday, June 13, 2015
Pro-inclusion humans were given political power today.
La investidura/swearing in of Ada Colau Ballano, as Barcelona of mayor, in la Plaça de Sant Jaume, alongside a swarm of human beings, many of them volunteers who have been working selflessly to try to improve social and political problems for the most vulnerable human situations in Barcelona.
To Colau's request, unlike previous investidura ceremonies in Barcelona, there were no barriers, red carpets, or expensive suits separating the people from their politicians.
I couldn't stay long (it lasted 3 hours and my back was killing me), but the keywords in Colau's speech were "CIUDAD"/city and "DEMOCRACIA PARTICIPATIVA"/citizen-based democracy.
Many other grassroots-based mayors and city councilors were sworn in across Spain today, an unprecedented number of women and minorities (race/nationality/religion/sexual orientation).
Hoping to see positive, more-inclusive changes soon.
Friday, June 05, 2015
interview on US television today, explaining economic/political problems in Spain, their global connections, and feasible forms of peaceful resistance: Source: http://www.democracynow.org/2015/6/5/from_occupying_banks_to_city_hall
Every time she returns to Xtown, the small town of XUniversity,
an excellent school in the US where tuition runs $58,000 a year, she's
shocked by the extreme social difference between these students and the students at state-university. Xtown students own high
quality and fashionable clothes, shoes, and backpacks; their skin
complexion is healthy looking; they are jogging; they are reading non-bestseller books. In
public they interact politely, attentively, maturely, confidently,
happily. Their hair looks naturally shiny and flowing. Obesity
and fast food are absent. One can see a high level of conformity
amongst the students of XUniversity, a lot of polo shirts, khakis, and brown loafers
and, in the winter--beautiful leather riding boots, and for the rain--Hunter rain boots. The students of XUniversity are taller than your
average college student. Visually they match closely to what one sees in
contemporary Hollywood films that take place in California or NYC, but
without all the make-up and hairspray. Since she's
usually in Xtown at the beginning and end of breaks, she sees their parents
too, because they visit Xtown around the same time. Many of the parents wear fine jewelry and drive nice cars. Like their offspring, they too
have nice skin and shiny hair. She thinks, "What do these external decorations have to do with having access to top
educational and employment opportunities?"
The image appears of the faces of some students at state-university, the faces of students who are stressed or depressed because they are working 40 hours a week while failing some of their classes. (But many students at XUniversity are also necessarily stressed or depressed. Is this system failing both parties?)
The conforming and acceptance of fashion styles parallels the conforming and acceptance of an extremely stratified educational system in the US. It annoys her that, in general terms, some students can have so little while others have so much, and when she talks with students from both extremes, it seems neither party is aware of the gap, two separate microcosms. She thinks, "But many of them are learning about these issues in the classroom, right? We know many students have to write papers about inequality because it's the hot topic that everyone studies at college... So, what's missing then?
Making personal connections/experiences outside the classroom?
Educating the trustees, administrators, politicians, and businesspeople?"
And then, in a matter of days, she gets used to it, the scene of comparison fades away and she gets used to the local scene again, the scene that initially seemed luxurious becomes normal, as it did when she was in grad school, and she stops being annoyed and starts enjoying the high quality; she browses rider boots on the internet. And since, in some ways, she also benefited from this stratified education system inequality, she wonder if some people think similar annoyed thoughts about her.
Saturday, May 30, 2015
Really useful article for those teaching about Spain, political science, or social movements:
Sunday, March 01, 2015
En este seminario proponemos discutir el potencial político en los
espacios cotidianos de las ciudades españolas, conscientes de sus raíces
históricas y enfocándonos en la época contemporánea.
Los espacios públicos han sido drásticamente transformados y regulados en las últimas 2 – 3 décadas en España. La planificación urbana activa y local de los años 80 fue, en la década siguiente, rápidamente reemplazada por la especulación, la desterritorialización, la gentrification y el turismo de masas—todos ellos fenómenos que han estado operando bajo la lógica de un neoliberalismo global. Como consecuencia de ello, miles de edificios históricos fueron derribados, especialmente aquellos que pertenecían a clases más modestas, y los espacios públicos perdieron gran parte de su autonomía, espontaneidad, inclusión social e historia local y personal para convertirse en espectáculos de consumo privado y escaparates de una política desligada de la sociedad civil. Por lo tanto, nuestra pregunta principal es ¿qué se está haciendo en el día a día para volver a unir a los ciudadanos con su espacio local? O, en palabras de David Harvey, refiriéndose a una ciudadanía inclusiva: ¿cómo pueden“make a city more after their heart’s desire”?
Tanto consciente como inconscientemente, a través de los sentidos absorbemos gran cantidad de información al atravesar el espacio público. Las nuevas leyes de civismo, las cámaras de vigilancia, el mobiliario urbano, las grúas paradas, las fachadas multilingües, el sonido metálico del butanero con las bombonas y el olor de los contenedores forman y limitan nuestras vivencias urbana/s. Aunque el diseño del espacio neoliberal prioriza lo visual, todos los detalles sensoriales, grandes y pequeños, regulan nuestras actividades e identidades, forman nuestros conocimientos y nos adoctrinan tanto con un código de conducta como con una narrativa sobre la historia, la política y la economía.
Pero este fenómeno no ocurre de manera unidireccional. Como han escrito muchos otros urbanistas, el espacio público—al igual que la democracia—no es una entidad fija, neutral o monolítica. Los ciudadanos también tenemos cierta agencia en el espacio publico. De hecho, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán definió el espacio público como “aquello que se ganó contra los especuladores.” El espacio público es un resultado temporal y provisional de la contención entre diferencias; más lento o rápido, según las épocas, pero siempre está recreándose, rehaciéndose y resistiendo la homogenización y estasis. De este modo, la crisis económica actual ha vuelto a mostrarnos el espacio publico como el lugar primordial donde conviven, negocian y se enfrentan las diferencias humanas.
Las ciudades españolas son ciudades globales, y en ellas los poderes fácticos diseñan y/o mantienen el espacio público y una imagen-marca que excluye cualquier contradicción, precariedad, fealdad, o desorden (D. Mitchell, M. Delgado). En este sentido, tanto los momentos de gran relieve como las acampadas en plazas emblemáticas como las menos estudiadas prácticas cotidianas, como pueden ser dormir en el umbral, colgar la ropa o un mensaje del balcón, o tocar un instrumento o patinar en una plaza, se convierte en un acto, voluntaria o involuntariamente, que transgreden “el orden de las cosas,” vuelven a insertar la diferencia en la imagen urbana, y, por lo tanto, cuestionan las políticas de inclusión (J. Ranciére).
Animamos a que se unan a este seminario todas las personas interesadas en el estudio de la geopolítica cultural y cotidiana de la España contemporánea. (Tenemos en cuenta que lo “español” hoy en día puede encontrarse en cualquier lugar del mundo.) Abajo hemos señalado algunos puntos de fuga iluminadores que se mueven en las disciplinas de la arquitectura, geografía y antropología urbanas, pero que no han sido muy desarrollados en nuestro campo de estudios culturales peninsulares:
- geografías y prácticas lúdicas (de juego)
- topografías de los olores y/o los sonidos y/o texturas táctiles de la ciudad
- objetos cotidianos (basura, ruinas, materiales reciclados o desechados…)
- la periferia urbana (el extrarradio)
- prácticas espaciales de resistencia/antagonismo o espontaneidad
- mercados negros, economías elusivas o invisibles
- los itinerarios de los niños y/o los adolescentes y/o personas de las tercera edad
- respuestas espaciales a la crisis económica y/o de vivienda
- inmigración, presencia pública, geopolítica
- colectividades o intervenciones artísticas y activismo
- espacios auto-gestionados, apropiaciones y reclamaciones de autonomía (jardines urbanos, casas okupas, manifestaciones…)
- propuestas de mejora pública
- relaciones entre espacio virtual global y físico local
- el espacio público y la pedagogía/la enseñanza
- tribus urbanas
Programa final, verano 2015: docs.google.com/document/d/1mLVmm6S8Qzb1Bzs1PVseajxulkRPkMEzPHF3025mqf0/edit?usp=sharing
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Sunday, February 22, 2015
"Compared with the stereotype of the East Asian model -- long hours of exhaustive cramming and rote memorization -- Finland's success is especially intriguing because Finnish schools assign less homework and engage children in more creative play. All this has led to a continuous stream of foreign delegations making the pilgrimage to Finland to visit schools and talk with the nation's education experts, and constant coverage in the worldwide media marveling at the Finnish miracle.
[. . . ]
And while Americans love to talk about competition, Sahlberg points out that nothing makes Finns more uncomfortable. In his book Sahlberg quotes a line from Finnish writer named Samuli Paronen: "Real winners do not compete." It's hard to think of a more un-American idea, but when it comes to education, Finland's success shows that the Finnish attitude might have merits. There are no lists of best schools or teachers in Finland. The main driver of education policy is not competition between teachers and between schools, but cooperation.
[. . . ]
From his point of view, Americans are consistently obsessed with certain questions: How can you keep track of students' performance if you don't test them constantly? How can you improve teaching if you have no accountability for bad teachers or merit pay for good teachers? How do you foster competition and engage the private sector? How do you provide school choice?
The answers Finland provides seem to run counter to just about everything America's school reformers are trying to do."
Saturday, February 07, 2015
(Cell phone pics around Philadelphia today. Human remnants but no humans.)
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
To my friends and those teaching about culture (-al subjectivity). I'd
like to share a visual message with you. I referred to this diagram at
least one dozen times today in my film class. The nodes can represent
people, texts, feelings, cities, cultural production processes, family,
friends, histories, stereotypes, social movements, stars, bees,
anythings. It's a visualization of the theory of Everything, or,
Benjamin's constellation, D&G's assemblages and rhizomes. (What
else?) I wish there was a way to add two
aspects: 3-dimensionality and mobility. But we can imagine them...
From "A Special Message For You Hand-Delivered To You From The Universe", by the ingenious Yumi Sakugawa, 2012.
Wednesday, January 07, 2015
It seems that Rancière's collaborative and horizontal approach to teaching (see blurb below) presupposes that both parties (learners/teachers) are at least partially willing to give, learn, and contribute just for the sake of doing so. but how would this approach apply when one of the parties will only give/learn/contribute under immediate coercion (a punishment, a threat to lower one's grade or to force one to repay/retake a course...etc.)? Doesn't that immediate-capitalist-exchange mentality in the classroom (I-only-give-to-you-to-receive-for-me) automatically create separation and hierarchy? If one group won't put their cell phones down unless an authority figure threatens him/her, doesn't that resistance to learning perpetuate automatons and keep the wheel of severe social problems spinning? And/Or is it just an example cultural differences -- everyone has a right to their differences and it's our collective interest to try to learn together by incorporating the majority's culture including the younger generation's cell phone culture?
But now I'm back to where I started. "Collective interest". Collective in a pedagogical setting presupposes a will from more than one party.
(Rancière's text was published in 1991, before the iphone.)
"In the meritocracy those who know (or those who have the opportunity to set the standards of knowing) considered as experts have needed those who don't know and the ignorant in reproducing and legitimating their own privileged expert positions. These structural processes of legitimation belong to what Rancière describes as the pedagogical myth. The pedagogical myth divides the world into two by supposing a socially constructed division of power, as well as a lower and higher intelligence. As Rancière (1991, 7) points out:
[The pedagogical myth] says that there is an inferior intelligence and a superior one. The former registers perceptions by change, retains them, interprets and repeats them empirically, within the closed circle of habit and need. This is the intelligence of the young child and the common man. The superior intelligence knows things by reason, proceeds by method, from the simple to the complex, from the part to the whole. It is this intelligence that allows the master to transmit his knowledge by adapting it to the intellectual capacities of the student and allows him to verify that the students has satisfactorily understood what he learned."Ref. http://eepat.net/doku.php?id=jacques_ranciere_on_radical_equality_and_adult_education
Friday, January 02, 2015
Friday, December 19, 2014
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
one of my life's highlights occurred last night. my 10 year old nephew,
kind of a shy guy, was sitting on the couch in front of the tv.
unexpectedly he turned away from the tv and began asking me questions. a
couple questions turned into some 150 questions, one after another
after another. about the Isreal-Palestine conflict, about college dorms,
about college apartments, about the roman empire, about soccer (I know
nothing about soccer)... each question made me smile inside.
it had been many years since I had experienced the joy of being around
uninhibited curiosity, I had forgotten how good it felt. (at the same
time, I was slightly saddened too because it had been many months since I
had had time for a long conversation.) of course I asked him some
questions too, and reminded him that my answers are merely opinions. I
wanted to sit there and talk until he had no questions left for the time
being. after about 2 hours he ended the conversation as abruptly as he
had started it. he stood up and said, "ok, good night” and went up to
Friday, October 17, 2014
"Some of the tourists who enjoyed shopping in stores like these told me [the shop-owner], "In our countries we don't have stores like this anymore."
Stopped at an intersection today in Philadelphia, I spotted these
confetti style flag banner things blowing in the wind at a car
dealership on the corner of Chestnut and 48th and I immediately had a
flashback of being a kid staring out the backseat window of our brown
station-wagon at the same exact scene, but in Detroit, MI, on one of
those wide "mile roads", where the car dealerships were streamed with
these flag banner things (do they have a name?). They haven´t changed in
Monday, October 06, 2014
Friday, September 12, 2014
the windows in the buildings that house big box and multinational stores never open. (Walmart, Starbucks, McDonalds, Panera, malls...) when these companies appropriate historic buildings (which have windows), they replace the original windows with ones that don't open. the artificial climatization in the big box/multinational buildings can feel very uncomfortable, usually stuffy or overly drying. a chemical, plastic, perfume, air freshners, or burnt coffee or paninis smell swirls aimlessly. there is no fresh air or connection with nature or anything natural. the windows don't open because the company authorities don't want legal trouble which could amount to a relatively small economic loss, i.e. an employee or customer throwing her/himself or her/his boss from a window.
Saturday, September 06, 2014
Narratives for children are so preachy, aren't they? This one is preachy too, but I think the narrative and illustrations are uplifting. A young boy or girl, who dislikes the city, goes to NY to visit his/her Nana. s/he says the city is scary, dirty, noisy. s/he can't sleep. one night Nana knits him a red cape and says ... (I can't remember now), but the girl/boy feels brave in the red cape and it enables him/her to overcome his/her fears and to see the city--the city as social differences--in a new and empathetic light.
...Now, if the anti-city girl/boy at the beginning of the story is a metaphor for planetary suburbia, neoliberal urbanism, gated communities...etc., then what would the transformative red cape symbolize...? I've got to find this red cape!