We Deliver Stuff. Learning? Acquired, Never Delivered.

 

I am finishing out my term with finals this week.  ‘Twas the best. ‘Twas the worst.  Now, I am casting my line into the river that runs through my life and three fish strike at my fly.

1. The Knowledge and Learning Transfer Problem

2. Betting the Spread on Inexorables

3.

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The first is the source of my text and image. The second is from Venkatesh Rao’s newsletter “Breaking Smart”. The third is from James C. Scott, author of the acclaimed, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed.

There is a river that runs through them. I am fishing it. The current is swift and cold as it runs off the high sierra.  I wait,  creel ready with a few salmon already inside.

Here are a three gems, all shiny and sleek rainbows

Venkatesh Rao, “Here’s the basic truth about planning: you cannot plan better than you can predict.”

Charles Jennings, “The incessant desire to hear about ‘best practice’ is really a need to hear about good practice and emerging practice. In other words, people are actually asking ‘tell me about the things that work for you. They might give us some good insights if we can apply them in our own way’. There is no ‘best practice’ where there are different environments and processes.”

James C. Scott, “The condensation of history, our desire for clean narratives, and the need for elites and organizations to project an image of control and purpose all conspire to convey a false image of historical causation. They blind us to the fact that most revolutions are not the work of revolutionary parties but the precipitate of spontaneous and improvised action (“adventurism,” in the Marxist lexicon), that organized social movements are usually the product, not the cause, of uncoordinated protests and demonstrations, and that the great emancipatory gains for human freedom have not been the result of orderly, institutional procedures but of disorderly, unpredictable, spontaneous action cracking open the social order from below . ”

 

Newsletter 4 a Second Coming

Terry Elliott’s Newsletter
Sun, Apr 23

I love the smell of collapse in the morning.

Not a bad attitude, just clear aptitude. I see the wave rising, curling, and………….BTW, why do they call these things bubbles? Is it because the economic system has little going for it structurally except the surface tension of belief? Yup.

‘The Retail Bubble Has Now Burst’: A Record 8,640 Stores Are Closing In 2017
Zero Hedge – Apr 22, 4:50 PM

“Thousands of new doors opened and rents soared. This created a bubble, and like housing, that bubble has now burst.” Richard Hayne, Urban Outfitters CEO, March 2017 The devastation in the US retail sector is accelerating in 2017,”

Comment: ‘[E]stimates that there could be more than 8,640 store closings this year, which will be higher than the historical 2008 peak of approximately 6,200 store closings’ Had to happen sooner or later. Even the shitty jobs are going away. Zombie retail space

John Deere just told the copyright office that only corporations can own property, humans can only license it
Boing Boing – Cory Doctorow – Apr 22, 6:22 AM

John Deere has turned itself into the poster-child for the DMCA, fighting farmers who say they want to fix their own tractors and access their data by saying that doing so violates the 1998 law’s prohibition on bypassing copyright locks. Deere’s…

Comment:  Just like only corporations can go bankrupt, but students can’t. Corporations are people, students are not. Res ipse loquitur (Latin for “the thing speaks for itself”) This argument needs to stamped out with size 20 boots and then incinerated. DNA next?

Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy
eff.org – Apr 13, 7:33 AM

Students and their families are backed into a corner. As students across the United States are handed school-issued laptops and signed up for educational cloud services, the way the educational system treats the privacy of students is undergoing…

Comment:  We teachers are playing Chopin in the Hindenburg Lounge. The hydrogen is leaking and lightning is in the air. Let’s start collecting student DNA for the coming identity chips. Maybe DeVos Schools can make a few bucks selling that info to Silicon Valley?

The Student Debt Crisis Is Exploding
truth-out.org – Kevin Zeese – Apr 22
Nothing Less Than a Student Debt Jubilee Will Do The level of student loan debt in the United States has risen to $1.5 trillion, and defaults are at more than 40% of debtors and rising. Student loan debt has grown to overwhelm all other categories…

Comment: What happens when the retail bubble and the student loan bubble meet? Magnitudes of complexity, that’s what. Or as Lady Macbeth would have it, that future is murky. For all the kool kidz out there that means not good.

Tay Zonday talks ‘Chocolate Rain’ on its 10th anniversary
popj.ca – Giselle Melanson Tattrie – Apr 17
April 22, 2007.

It was a landmark day for YouTube as University of Minnesota graduate student, Adam Bahner — going by the moniker “Tay Zonday” — decided to upload an original music video titled “Chocolate Rain…”

Comment: Oh ‘Chocolate Rain’ man, where art thou? He is interviewed here and has some pretty profound things to say about Internet property, music online and the train wreck that is modern journalism. Profundity ratio: 91/100

SCOTT GALLOWAY: Investing in Snap is something ‘no one responsible should ever do
Business Insider – Apr 18, 4:44 PM

Scott Galloway is a marketing professor at the NYU Stern School of Business and the founder of business intelligence firm L2. Galloway stopped by Business Insider to talk about the biggest names in tech. In this clip he talks about why he thinks…

Comment:  If this is true, then this Zuckerberg dude IS the embodiment of evil AND modern stock valuations are untethered null fields, the ultimate sinkhole for stupid capital. Oh boy. Rollercoasters. Hell ride. No seat belts in the loop-the-loop.

Get darker?

Johnny Cash-The_Man_Comes Around

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME9XpnQiU-8 And I heard as it were the noise of thunder One of the four beasts saying come and see and I saw And behold a white horse There’s a man going around taking names And he decides who to free and who to blame Everybody won’t be treated all the same There’ll be a golden ladder reaching down When the Man comes around The hairs on your arm will stand up At the terror in each sip and in each sup Will you partake of that last offered cup?

Get lighter?

The Wailin’ Jennys – Apocalyps Lullaby with Lyrics

another pretty wailin’ jennys’ song.

Hayfields in March

Haytime in March

Kevin and I have been to and fro today with some raw materials, words for play like legos.  Here is how it went.
First, I did a freewrite as part of a post I wrote describing a couple of tools for minimal distraction writing
Here is a raw freewrite I put in the post.

Hulk no like.  That is how I feel sometimes [image of Hulk hanging over my writing space]. I know some folks won’t read because I don’t mince my words. I am not going to brightside you unless I really feel my subject is an optimistic one. Realistically optimistic.  

But I really don’t want to be like those Silicon Valley freaks who seek to destroy for the sake of their products and to make money.  They are killing our country.

I look down at my screen and think about the bloviations of despair that have flowed from my digital bleedings and wonder if really understand how the world works.I subscribe to the belief that the biggest cynics are also the strongest idealists.  I think the cynic’s acid tongue is the direct result of gap between what they see in the world and the way it might be.  I have seen stuff work in education, but mostly I have seen it fail.  And not just in an experimental way, I have seen it fail all of its principals in so many different ways.  We keep foisting the same failures on our students. I don’t mind failing, but failing in the same ways over and over and over again. That I cannot abide. And we all know, the dude abides.

The failures are often very pedestrian. A lesson plan that sort of worked for vanguard but not the most. An experiment that sated my voyeuristic desire to see if my ideas hold water. Mostly not out and out failures. Mostly just null results.

That is the unforgiveable gap that the cynical side of me engenders every day I teach. That is the problem, isn’t it. I teach, they learn. The power dynamics are all fucked up. Students should have most of the power when it comes to learning. They can share that power even to the point of handing over some of that just like an apprentice gives power to a master, but it is their’s to hand over and their’s to revoke.

These are messy, potentially abusive relationships.  I can’t even imagine how we could make this work in an institutional setting. One on one?  Yes, I can imagine it.

I consider this freewriting above to be the ‘hayfield’, full of grass and forbs and herbs and diverse eating.
Kevin cleaned up the metes and bounds of the pasture with his Notegraphy poem.
I took the first cutting from his “poem hayfield” here.
Then I took a second cutting, what farmers of old called “the aftermath” (very interesting etymology).
And finally all that is left are ‘staubs and stubble‘ for the beasts to graze down.
Below was the original ‘field’ as ‘mapped’ using SnagIt. I started by grabbing a screenshot of Kevin’s Notegraphy poem. Then I simply cut words from that and made “First Cutting”. Next I did the same ‘cutting’ to “Aftermath” by subtracting words.  What I was left with was “Staubs and Stubble” Maybe ready to grow again?
It is haytime on the internet. Get the barn ready.
I think that this is what connected learning means. This is a little slice from a timeline extending back and forward. It has alternate timelines built in if others choose to grab this open seed. 
It is a powerful metaphor for the kind of learning I want my students to grab with both fists.  It is only possible as a world of small pieces loosely joined as Kevin and I have been over recent years. 
It is complex, messy, and not amenable to being reproduced. Not intended to be reproduced. It is a unique form all its own and that is what I strive for with my students.
Which brings me back to the original force that drove the freewrite seed to send down roots and true leaves:  the power to grow one’s own learning in one’s own way must live mostly in the learner.  Any system or institution that does not midwife and husband that growth is not worth the calling of ‘teaching’.
I am including a Hackpad version here for anyone who wants to carry on.  Just click on the link and there is an open pasture for you to do with what you will.  It has lots of stuff growing there, but you can dig in as you wish and as you will.