Thursday, June 19, 2008

OLDaily Production

Created for the people who are doing OLDaily while I'm gone, a 15 minute overview of my production workflow.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Finding Time

Responding to dlh_downunder...

When I look at that list I see that you have created all kinds of content that would be really good for the blog.

For example, I very frequently take comments I've made to discussion lists and post them to my blog, including my contributions to SCoPE. This takes very little time - much less than actually writing the comment - and is a great way to break the discussion out of a closed discussion list. It also helps me focus my thoughts when I know I'm writing for my blog as well as for the discussion.

same thing with the papers and the course proposals and even some for the Twitter stuff. All of this would make great material for a blog post - even if you can't share it all, you can share some of it.

The whole point isn't to *add* online writing on top of everything else you do. Nobody has time for that.

Rather, what you want to be thinking of doing is to gradually migrate to writing online *instead* of writing for those other purposes.

That doesn't mean you become a blog writer and nothing else. Rather, what you'll find is that writing for the website makes writing for all those other things a lot easier.

The idea is to take the stuff you do for private audiences and to present it (as much as you can) to public audiences.

And you'll find you have people reading your work, helping you with resources and links to do the work you're doing now.

All this, at least, is my experience (and you'll find this comment on Half an Hour as well :) ).

Sunday, June 15, 2008

June Tags Link People Learning



That pretty much sums it up, I would say. This is the tag cloud created by Wordle for the June 13, 2008 issue of OLWeekly. What I also like is the rich tapestry of thought and concepts behind this basic idea.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Subversion and Truth

Responding to Ken Carroll, who writes,

The real purpose of education, I believe, centers around the pursuit of truth.

The pursuit of truth is a subversive activity. It is probably the most subversive activity.

Authority - especially in our own society - depends typically on fiction. These fictions typically describe some way in which our rulers are ‘naturally’ rulers.

The divine right of kings has been replaced, in secular society, by the right of the ballot, but the process of democratic election is itself a fiction.

The teacher’s role is to help learners find truth, not to instill a particular political view of the world.

Quite so - but it is precisely this practice that is discouraged, and even punished, in our education system.

Our mechanism of testing, for example, masures not how much students are *able* to learn, but rather, how much they *have learned* of a specified curriculum.

Our methods of teaching focus on the memorization of facts, rather than the cultivation of disciplines - such as, say, logic and critical thinking - that allow them to think for themselves.

Students’ assertions of their own right to express themselves are routinely squelched at all levels of administration, including the courts.

The teacher’s role is to help learners find truth, not to instill a particular political view of the world…

Teachers express ‘truth’ every day; it is the major part of the curriculum. This ‘truth’ constitutes the academic subjects, as well as the system of values and expectations created by a certain ‘polite’ society.

Teachers deviating from this approved curriculum are accused of ‘preaching’ and of ‘ideological teaching’ - as though the pronouncements from the permissable perspective are ideologically neutral.

Crucially: if a teacher is to be expected to teach the pursuit of truth, and to value students’ own pursuit of the truth, then they must *model* and demonstrate their *own* pursuit of truth, and their own exercise of the freedom to express their own truth.

How could you ever trust the assertions of a teacher who says “you are free” when all teachers, without exception, follow some sort of party line?

To teach the freedom to pursue one’s own truth is to *be* free to pursue one’s own truth. You do not encourage the seeking of truth in the classroom by telling teachers to suppress what they believe to be true.

If this means that some teachers - or even a majority - espouse a left wing ideology, so be it. For people of the right to promote the freedom of thought by squelching what they believe to be left wing or liberal ideology is the height of hypocrisy.

If you want teachers to espouse right wing philosophies, pay them more. Otherwise, the vast majority of teachers will choose their profession based on some concept of the social good, a position that will put them at odds with the set of fictions created and promoted in order to preserve the ideology of the government (accurately described above as “the kleptocracy of the powerful”).

As I say to Gardner, who writes,

Anti-authoritarianism doesn't solve the problem of authority, in my view.

Anti-authoritarianism is, in essence, thinking for oneself, rather than thinking as one is told.

No problem of authority has ever been solved by any other means.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Defending Edupunk

Responding to Ken Carroll, who unloads with a personal attack on the very idea of edupunk: "It is also dismaying to see the lack of edublogger critiques,: he writes. "Everybody loves Edupunks, it would seem. "

Actually, the critiques - Belshaw, for example, and Warlick - began within a day or two of the idea being announced, which may actually be a new record. So it's hardly fair to say everybody loves edupunks.

And while I'm correcting misconceptions, few of the people who self-identified as edupunks are actually teachers.

I think you are mistaken to confuse the target of edupunk criticism as 'the capitalist'. The target is, more accurately, authority. It's true that many capitalists have used wealth to appropriate authority. But the two are not identical.

More significant is the suggestion that edupunks are "seeking to politicize (and I would argue, infantilize) discussion in this space." Leaving aside the pointless ad hominem, I would suggest that discussion in this space is already very politicized, and that edupunk is a reaction to this.

If you look at the things the people involved have stood for over the years (and not, say, their postings over the last week) you'll find that they are strongly in favour of things like open access, personal empowerment, diversity, and such.

These are political positions, yes, but they are positions that are actively and consistently opposed by people who are in positions of authority. We have had to deal with politically inspired curricula, blocking of applications and websites (including our own), legal threats and lawsuits, funding and political issues in the workplace, and more.

It takes a lot of willful narrowness to say that it is the *edupunks* that are politicizing this space. Ideology is *dominant* in this space, and edupunks are calling it out, naming it, and pointing at it for all to see.

The final criticism is that you oppose the attitude - "These guys look intellectually and emotionally indistinguishable from their students." And "Forty year old tenured men in hoodies, talking about revolution is no more than perpetual adolescence and self-indulgence."

Fair enough. But I think you miss the point of this. Conventional wisdom would say that these people should put on suits and make their points intellectually in polite society. The attitude is - in my opinion - a way of saying that the game is rigged. That no change will ever emanate out of polite society, which structures specifically to preserve its privilege.

You write, "Personally I reserve that right for someone with a grown-up argument and a relatively serious attitude." I have been making such arguments for decades. View them here: http://www.downes.ca/me/articles.htm

From my perspective - you haven't deal with any of these arguments. You haven't engaged on the positions I advocate at any level, save perhaps the most superficial, as it relates to your own self-interest.

As for Junger: the author you accuse of 'flirting with Nazism' was influenced rather more by Nietzsche than by (say) his friend Heidegger, and he actually refused a Nazi post and position in the party, a very courageous anti-Nazi stance for a German in that era to take.

I could debate - and have debated - these points to a considerable degree of nuance and intellectualism. But the serious attempts are reduced to caricature and ridicule by the polite society, which, as I said, serves to protect its own self interest, and little else.

I think that what discomfits people about the edupunks is that they are grown adults doing things the authorities would disapprove - it is, indeed, anti-authoritarianism, impolitely expressed, which is *exactly* the point.

And insofar as they may appear to be 'defenders of the oppressed' - may I say, if they are like me, they looked, and they saw that the position was vacant. Nobody in polite society gives a damn about the oppressed. Though they are very quick to criticize anyone who lifts a finger.

p.s. my punk roots - people like Ted Axe and the Action, and F.I.S.T. - have mostly been erased from history.
http://ottawaexplosion.blogspot.com/2008/03/action.html

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Ripple of Hope

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." Robert F. Kennedy