27 March 2006

rambling philosophical musings that probably don't make much sense right now.

i really should get better about writing in this. i keep coming up with so many things to say, but only end up having the time to say a few.

philosophy has been on my mind. in particular, why do i find that i have such a strong reaction against plato? and why do i tend to agree with aristotle more. well... at least when it comes to the ideas behind aesthetics.

plato. oh man. plato. so much there (of what i've read) that gets to me. first off, i guess i tend to read his argument against allowing mythologies to be told as an argument for canon and for the side of media effects that tends toward children can't tell the difference between reality and stories. a similar argument is going on now with games vs. reality. and earlier in the 80s with D&D. and i suppose it will always go on.

maybe i should clarify. plato takes the stance that falseness is bad. in all its forms. and i disagree. sometimes a lie is more capable of telling the truth. and i think that this stance has appeared throughout art history and comedic history. satire. dada. the daily show. and he argues that children need to be protected from this because they don't have the capacity to discern the difference between truth and fiction. i don't think so. i think kids are often smarter than we give them credit for. and instead of deciding to censor things, it's better to have open discussion about controversial things. not talking about it only serves to cause a festering wound.

and maybe i just tend to bristle at the idea that he has the right to tell people what is and isn't worth studying or reading. but maybe that's me coming from my own stance of hating it when people do this to me. maybe i just feel that anything that you're interested in, if examined deeply and thoroughly, can lead to a develpment of critical thinking and also build up and branch out to other topics. for example -- the main reason that i started studying the history of modern art has its roots in my love of punk music and many hours spent on the internet reading about the history of punk music and related subcultures. i'm sure plato wouldn't think punk music is a valid form of study.

i also tend to disagree with him when it comes to his idea of imitation and images. that true art is when an artist produces a true to life representation of an object. but that the replication is somehow secondary to actually making an object. i feel that he wrongly puts aside the subjective. everything leads towards the objective. and everything has its perfect ideal.... platonic ideals. pah. this is not my cup of tea, nor do i think he's right.

aristotle, on the other hand, i think has a better feel for subjectivity, and in particular, the thing-y-ness of things. how without materials, there would be no production of any objects. he, too, disagreed with plato. maybe it's just a nice change after hating plato for the past few days.

one more reason to hate plato:
his discussion of who should be allowed to tell a lie. he argues that the state is the only one who should be allowed to tell a lie if it's "for the public good." i don't think this is right. the public should decide the public good. the public should be informed. the public should care.

and, sadly enough, i don't think the public is informed ... i know i'm not.
people shouldn't be afraid of their governments. governments should be afraid of their people.

10 March 2006

double oh seven

so one of my friends is in 2.007 at MIT and sounds like she's having a lot of the same thoughts i had when i was in the class. in some ways it's good seeing that i wasn't the only one who wasn't overly thrilled at this class. but it's also bad in other ways because i remember very clearly how miserable i was there.

everyone in the class and everyone involved with the class seems to act like of course you want to compete and win... that this is fun. it wasn't fun. and i didn't really learn anything in that class. wait. i should change that remark. i didn't learn what they expected me to learn. i learned about myself. and i learned about what i wanted. but i didn't really learn design. i didn't learn design until i started working on things that i actually cared about. the main reason i hated 2.007 -- everyone acted like they thought i should be passionate about this and i hated myself for not being that way. i kept thinking there was something wrong with me for not enjoying what the other students seemed to find thrilling. and that made me feel like a bad engineer.

there were no other options; either i wanted to compete and win, or i was wrong. it never really dawned on me then that maybe i wasn't a bad engineer at all, that maybe they weren't presenting the material in a way i could get. the professor just seemed out to try to be considered cool by the students. lectures were manic. i couldn't follow anything. not to mention, teaching design in a lecture setting is pointless... at least for me. i can't understand things unless i can feel them... can play with them. and by the time i got back to the lab, i was so distracted by the prof's antics that i couldn't remember anything anyway. so i stopped going to lecture. the textbook wasn't helpful either. and my lab supervisor was completely unhelpful. so what was i left with? no support. and students who thought i was wrong. and then i just got laughed at for being "too artistic."

dear GOD i hated that class. and now one of my friends is there. and i just laugh (not in a condescending way... in an understanding way) that she's really just wanting to make some sort of kinetic sculpture. cause i was there. and i somehow made it through. and it's hard to fight against an existing way of teaching for something that's equally, if not more, difficult and valid. but you learn so much more when you care about what you do. i want her to care. and i want her to be happy. but most importantly, i want her to realize that following what you're passionate about (in her case, wanting to do something not to win) is important and that even if a whole bunch of people give you rules, you should just find ways to work around/within them and still do what you want.

01 March 2006

The redesigned.

Four readings on media literacy for Henry's class - 1) Pedagogy of Multiliteracies - Bill Cope 2) an excerpt from James Gee's Cultural Models 3) David Buckingham - Telemedium - Will Media Education Ever Escape the Effects Debate 4) Rene Hobbes - The Seven Great Debates in Media Literacy

And I must say, good readings. I'm still trying to digest exactly where I stand in this whole thing. Actually... I guess it would be more accurate to say that I'm pretty sure of where I stand, I'm just not sure how to support my stance and articulate it in an intelligible manner.

So, hey! I'm gonna give it a try.

"As educators, we have a greater responsibility to consider the implications of what we do in relation to a productive working life," (p. 11). (Oh man, do we.)

The first reading struck me hard and I think ties in with my work. It talks a lot about the current economic trends and ties them in with why media literacy is important. Cope then goes on to argue that even though we're now in the era of PostFordism, where companies have changed from models based on hierarchies and specialization to models based on flexibility and flat hierarchical structures (i.e. teamwork), a lot of things haven't changed. And a lot of things have. Economic models now use terms that used to be only related to education. There are now "knowledge workers" and "learning organizations." "These examples of revolutionary changes in technology and the nature of organizations have produced a new language of work. They are all reasons why literacy pedagogy has to change if it is to be relevant to the new demands of working life; if it is to provide all students with access to fulfilling employment," (p 12). Media literacy is important because so much of this new world ... these new economics ... hinges around media. He then warns educators to watch out for any remake of pedagogy being assimilated by economics. "As we remake our literary pedagogy to be more relevant to a new world of owrk, we need to be aware of the danger that our words become co-opted by economically and market-driven discourses, no matter how contemporary and 'post-capitalist' these may appear," (p. 12).

He points out that even though many things about these new strategies may seem informal and more person-to-person... multifaceted... etc, that they still maintain a ceiling. Except this time it's the 'glass ceiling.' "For anyone who is not a comfortable part of the culture and discourses of the mainstream, it is even harder to get into networks that operate informally than it was to enter into the old discourses of formality," (p. 12). For me, this (again) points back to Baudrillard's simulations. A simulation of economic freedom, when really, it's all about who you know.

"It may well be that market-driven theories and practices, even though they sound humane, will never authentically include a vision of meaningful success for all students," (p. 12). Yes! The school is not a market; stop treating it as one. This very much ties in with Illich as well as Dewey (the latter is cited by him, actually, so I would hope he takes his view).

And if there was any doubt about this guy's intentions, they left me here: "[...] indeed, in a system that still values vastly disparate social outcomes, there will never be enough 'room at the top.' An authentically democratic new vision of schools must include a vision of meaningful success for all; a vision of success that is not defined exclusively in economic terms and that has embedded within it a critique of hierarcy and economic injustic," (p. 13). That's very much a view of mine. It's slowly been sinking in. We were discussing doorknobs -- more specifically, the redesign of doorknobs -- in Glorianna's class. One suggestion was not having a door. Someone sounded shocked that you could have things stolen or that you would have no privacy. I guess my thought on that matter is... things are just things. They may make my life easier, but how can I justify my own ease over the needs of others? How can I feel happy in my situation if those around me don't have the same situation? And privacy... well... isn't there that saying that a measure of a man's character is what he does when he's sure no one is watching? I mean... if I'm not comfortable enough with what I'm doing to show other people [for the most part], then why am I doing it?

[shrug] that's a bit of a sidetrack. I think a lot about the boundary of public and private as well as the whole thing involving property... and I'm still trying to nail down exactly where I stand, and to try to fix where theory doesn't line up with my own practice.

But I think he's right, regardless, that "An authentically democratic new vision of schools must include a vision of meaningful success for all' a vision of success that is not defined exclusively in economic terms and that has embedded within it a critique of hierarchy and economic injustice." Democracy -> every... every human has a say. But I think the (perceived) problem lies in his use of 'meaningful.' I don't think that people with things want to give them up, because they've lost view of what's meaningful. Or maybe meaning is such a subjective term that people don't want to give their world over to subjectivity.

"This is not just so that educators can provide a better 'service' to 'minorities.' Rather, such a pedagogical orientation will produce benefits for all. For example, there will be a cognitive benefit to all children in a pedagogy of linguistic and cultural pluralism, including the 'mainstream' children. When learners juxtapose differend languages, discourses, styles, and approaches, they gain substantively in metacognitive and metalinguistic abilities and in their ability to reflect critically on complex systems and their interactions," (p. 15). I definitely agree with the argument that people from the earliest age, should be involved with interactions from different races, different backgrounds, different cultures, different ages, different genders. It helps promote a balanced views... or maybe it's more that people won't question their beliefs if they're surrounded by people who agree with them. It's crucial to question beliefs, especially at an age where you're not so entrenched in your own ways that you can't possibly understand anyone else's view.

And this, I think, ties in with Gee's arguments about cultural models. In particular, his example of the video game where you play through as a Palestini boy who throws rocks at soldiers and who is trying to get to temple. Because video games put you in such an interactive space, you're able to try on a different cultural model. We didn't question the violence against Arabs in American video games, but as soon as there's this Palestini boy throwing rocks at Israelis, then we question it. Our cultural models clash. But, perhaps, it's quite important that they do clash. Having the ability to try on cultural models opens up the discussion about our own cultural model. And I think having a classroom full of different people -- race, age, sex, culture -- is important for the same reason.

And... I think this gets argued in the first article, just not in terms of cultural models: "To be relevant, learning processes need to recruit, rather than attempt to ignore and erase, the different subjectives, interests, intentions, comitments, and purposes that a student brings to learning," (p. 18), and
"Through their co-engagement in designing, people transform their relations with each other, and so transform themselves," (p, 22).

ooookaayyyy. so where does that leave me? Arguing for diversity and elimination of class. For individuals over the whole. Realizing the need for change. Realizing the need for educational models to change. For wanting us to admit to the simulation and to try to do something about it.

There are other arguments in these readings, but they'll have to wait til tomorrow.