Archive for March, 2008

Homelessness and performativity in education

March 30, 2008

Here are a few notes I’d like to add to some previous posts that will eventually be rewritten, but for now the notes.

Note 1: In the Britney post I used homelessness as an example of an unseen spectacle. And recently there was a front page story on a group of researchers who found that a housing fix could be implemented with the same funding dollars in current circulation. The story is here on the Tyee. There’s something about the front page article here.

Note 2: A while back I wrote about an article that used Lyotard‘s term "performativity" as though it were a desirable approach for education. Dewey called for Education as an end in itself. Life as an end in itself is a Utopian Notion. The issue of homelessness and a desire for performative education are linked. Lyotard makes note in 1979 of a system that can solve life’s problems but doesn’t because it won’t improve the systems performance.

Educational Theatre

March 18, 2008

I caught a show the other night. It was an event of the Jokers’ International Day of Action on Global Warming. David Diamond, Joker, and Artistic and Managing Director, of Headlines Theatre led the event billed as “An intimate evening of theatre (without a play) about global warming. “

David Diamond was fantastic. He set up the theatre to come. The story was to come out of the audience, and the actors to come would personify the voices in one audience members head. These are the voices that counsel us to act in ways we know to be harmful to the environment. This was a theatrical workshop in controlling our inner voices that block positive change.

The process was to develop what you can do. It was to focus on the “self, ” our selves each individually because, yes! government and corporations need to regulate and implement sustainable practices but this won’t mean much if we, each of us, don’t control the voices in our head that lead us to actions that are harmful to the environment.

Three audience member shared their stories of a moment when they had to make a choice concerning the environment and voices in their heads called for the environmentally unsound choice. The audience had three choices: 1. Should I devote my life to political “advocacy”? 2. Should I go to work for a multi-national corporation? 3. Should I get on a plane to dance in a warmer climate? The crowd chose #2.

It was an amazing learning experience. The learning that went on was relative to the expression. What came out was in no way intended. There was the collective knowledge, I’d say in some moments a knowledge, expression that betrayed intention. It is an exercise that every educator should be a part of at least once. I’m looking into the possibility of a future workshop.

What follows are comments and bracketed phrases.

Comment A: The choice of story seemed a false choice. Sucked into system lottery – I’m a loser because… Pleasure and its destructive influence – real daily personal choices are very hard to make, they are even harder to acknowledge and as such all but impossible to contemplate. Question: How do you like your coffee? Answer: Grown in enclosed fertile land in a third world country, flown and trucked to my local coffee shop, with a little bit of sugar and cream.

Comment B: Historical perspective – young girl playing paternal voice – had lived on the street, Had to stop and reflect on the question “Have you ever had to deal with having less than you wanted/ needed? The affluent society is only about 50 years old, but inconsistent. More the affluent sector of society has been growing for 50 years. People still live in poverty while we avoid workshopping pleasurable eco-no-nos.

Comment C: This event gives good contrast to the techno-learning lines of thought and cyber-action that proliferate in the edublogosphere. Some distinctions need to be made.

(This environmental discourse – this new person – within this space – exploring the knowledge and the possibility – the external controls within – the outside brought into the space – the multiplicity within the container of the subject.)

Pieces of Britney

March 9, 2008

Britney has been a topic of conversation lately. The "Britney’s Tragedy" issue of Rolling Stone has been floating around the house… Look if you’re on the internet I don’t need to tell you how "everywhere" she is right now. Britney’s an interesting topic. She herself isn’t that interesting. If you’ve seen her on television in conversation with talking heads you can almost physically feel the vacuum created by such empty patter. But for anyone interested in socialization (I present myself as an edublogger but one day will present the argument that education (as we understand it) doesn’t exist) Britney’s case might someday rival the notoriety of "Little Hans.’"

Britney just doesn’t fit in. That is, in her own society. It’s important to keep in mind that there are many societies, and the difference only really causes a problem, when it’s not acknowledged. Are you slotting what you see into what you already know or are you open to the possibility of difference. The slightest difference, the slightest unacknowledged difference can lead to misunderstanding. Britney comes from a different place, but I see in her, or I’m making an analogy between her situation and the homeless in Western Capitalist societies.

The first similarity, at least in my mind, is their place in the spectacle. And I mean spectacle as in the image of reality given through mediation. The image of reality, and reality are two different objects of consciousness that can be differentiated through testing. My six year old son has a lightsaber, and playing with it one morning he reached out his hand to the lightsabre on the floor about six feet away. He stood there with his hand out and open like Luke Skywalker. After a few moments, and I remember doing the same thing as a child and still occasionally I test the strength of the force within me, say when the remote control is a little too far out of reach. Reality sucks, a child knows the difference between the spectacle and reality, and reality sucks. We don’t get fairy godmothers to grant wishes or broomsticks to fly and every child knows that. I may be, ok I am, reducing the concept of the spectacle. The idea also includes us as spectators and this is how Britney and the homeless are alike. Here in Vancouver, Canada where Canada’s homeless come to enjoy the weather or more likely not freeze to death in the winter, the reality of the homeless becomes a spectacle. It amazes me that there are 2000 or so people sleeping outside in Vancouver every night and there’s not outrage about it. (2019 Canada’s General Strike!!) This should not be a problem, but there it is, and we’re (I am definitely part of this we. Noticing the spectacle, is not the same as engaging in the reality) looking at it and not doing anything. In the Case of Britney, there were unlimited funds to buy her mental health, and still cameras flicker as she falls apart. We see the spectacle, like watching a movie, but Britney is not a fictional character. How is it possible that Britney, with all that money, knows so little of the world?

Compare her to Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Leonardo. These are people of Britney’s society. A society of spectacle, a modern day Olympus, but these four, and many others thrive by banding together and finding the earth. They are friends who give. There’s something to get at here.


Category: open

March 3, 2008

I’m in the middle of writing a paper. This post isn’t a form of procrastination, I’m thinking outside the paper and wanted to get these excess thoughts out. I made a comment the other day (which has since been deleted.) on edtechpost about “open hearts” and “open education/source/society and so on” and wanted to write a little more here about that. (This is almost going to be point form.) I read a line today from Gramsci’s Notebooks. (I’ll pull the quote later (much later)(Here it is: “Today’s widespread educational crisis can be precisely linked to the fact that this process of differentiation and specialization has taken place chaotically, without clear and precise principles, without a well thought out and consciously fixed plan.”))  Politically, although the option doesn’t exist on Facebook, I’d dance with the Utopian Anarchists, which means I’m very sensitive to control freaks (including my own) and very interested in the “open” movements.

What was interesting about the edtechpost post, was the budding awareness of a development both personal and professional necessary for open practice. Will the philosophies and practice of the open (creative commons) movements change who we are? Or is this just a phenomenon of consciousness? Are the “early adopters” already open? Remember the talk of virtual communities in the mid 90s? Becoming conscious of an open community is not the same as a growing open community. This needs to be fleshed out with research, but if we proceed “as if” people don’t change, that the open community is not growing, but finding itself, and developing, then development, creative development, connected, creative self development is all that’s left for the movement to do.

(The emphasis in open movements need to be on giving; an open heart is a giving heart.)