About Thinks

Sometimes good thinks happen and sometimes bad thinks happen. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Some thinks need immediate action and some thinks may remain as thinks forever. Thinks can be angry and heated. Thinks can be joyful. Thinks should never be cold.

These thinks are linked to many other wonderful thinks and I like to attribute these.

These thinks do not necessary reflect those thinks of my employer.

Think long, think on.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Future Learning

Watch it, think about it, forget about the shiny, and repeat.

More here

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ask the positive deviants

In her latest post (and indeed in many posts before) Dianne Ravitch makes the clear point that focusing our attention to poverty will have more of an impact on raising the quality of education for our alleged failing students than any other intervention, such as merit (performance) pay based on standardised testing:

"It has never worked. It failed recently in New York City, Chicago, and Nashville. In Nashvile, teachers were offered a $15,000 bonus to raise test scores. It didn’t make a difference." 

So what would make a difference? This made me wonder about the goodness that could be achieved if we started thinking about poverty using a positive deviance approach.  

For a start, I prefer the term 'remoteness' over poverty. This enables us to include more groups of children in our societies (examples include, and are not limited to, those who are socio economically remote, culturally remote, geographically remote, and those who are marginalised through gender (including roles and identity) and disability).

Positive deviants are those who, despite having the odds stacked against them, manage to  lead successful happy lives (using the same resources and knowledge available to them as their counterparts).  

Instead of providing a community with external experts, the positive deviant approach enables the community to take ownership and leadership in their research and to come up with their own solutions using the expertise of their positive deviants.  It also requires that the community identifies that there actually is a problem, rather than an external expert coming in and telling them so.

Much like the Minimally Invasive Education approach, positive deviance encourages self-organised and participant driven knowledge to take the stage and teach us all something new.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Discussing Democracy with Deetz

Yesterday I stepped back 15 years to re-explore Bauman.  This has led me to another defining moment of the time - Stanley Deetz and his ideas around democracy.  In his book Democracy in an age of Corporate Colonization Deetz exposes how corporate domination is embedded into our everyday decision making.

Organisational theories such as these are becoming increasingly relevant to all who are involved with education as we travel down the corporatized road. In this post I'm not going to tell you what to think as my ideas are as much effected by corporate colonisation as anyone.  Please watch this 5 minute video from the man himself.

I just love the cereal box idea.  How else can we ensure that the less dominant corporate narratives can be accessed by students in our schools?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Bashing Bureaucracy with the Bauman Stick

In a previous life I specialised in business ethics where I studied the effects that modernity and bureaucracy had on our organisations. Zygmunt Bauman opened my mind to a whole new way of thinking in relation to modernity, efficiency and bureaucracy.

In his work Modernity and the Holocaust Zygmunt Bauman looks at the role that modernity and bureaucracy play in events such as the Holocaust.

He shows how horrific events, such as genocide, can be achieved by the masses through the careful separation of tasks. Initially genocide was achieved by killing people with rifles at point blank range and the bodies were then dragged to mass graves.  This method was seen to be primitive and extremely inefficient.

In order to make genocide more efficient victims were lined up at the edge of the trenches and were then shot with machine guns en masse.  This way the bodies fell straight into their graves and the murderers were never sure whose shot was the one that killed.  This meant that there was no direct responsibility for who murdered who.  Even so, it was still the case that:

it was exceedingly difficult for the shooters to overlook the connection between shooting and killing.

So a search for a more modern and efficient method ensued:

The search was successful, and led to the invention of first the mobile, then the stationary, gas chambers; the latter - the most perfect the Nazis had time to invent - reduced the role  of  the  killer  to  that of the  'sanitation officer'  asked  to  empty  a 
sackful  of 'disinfecting chemicals'  through an aperture in the roof of a building the interior of which he was not prompted to visit.

But this is an extreme case isn't it?  Whilst modernity and efficiency were used for evil in the holocaust, when it comes to industrialisation it's not bad, is it? If it wasn't for modernity we wouldn't have home comforts, we wouldn't have technology, we wouldn't be as efficient and we wouldn't progress.

But are we more efficient? Have we made progress?  

Using the metaphor of the modern industrial factory Bauman points out that there are two kinds of lorries in the factory yard.  There are the  lorries that deliver the consumer goods to the stores and there are the lorries that deliver the trash to the dump.  The narration of modernity speaks to only one kind of lorry - the goods.  This creates a history of industry purporting rising comforts and efficiency.  

The lorries that carry the waste and reject materials from factory production, however, are excluded from our history of modernity. Our idea of what efficiency is could be very much changed if we had a balance of the two narratives.

Further, many kinds of human beings become dysfunctionalised through this narrative of progress and efficiency.  Akin to the weeds in the garden, if humans do not fit the new re-ordered world they must either be eradicated, separated or assimilated. (Remembering, of course, that weeds are defined only as plants that deviate from the gardener's perceived ideal image of what a garden should be.) 

I worry about education.  I worry about the way we bureaucratize our learning into separate parts.  I worry how we obsessively categorize our learners into weeds and flowers. I worry how we attempt to assimilate our weeds insisting that they grow petals. I worry how we assume that all our students are annuals even though some may be perennials or biennials.

I worry that our narrative speaks only to one kind of lorry - the goods.  We hear about the lorries leaving our schools with numerate, literate, 'successful' children.  We dont often hear about the lorries heading off to the dump disposing of lost creativity, shattered childhood beliefs, and interrupted day-dreams.