Education Evolutions #37

IMG_4227 flickr photo by Jemimus shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Select Readings and Thoughts on Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age

Well, another week with a delayed delivery. Despite the best of my hopes of getting this out on Saturday morning, my children’s soccer schedule again conspired against me. Add a visitor for the holiday weekend and time moved a bit more fluidly than normal

No real theme for the week, more a smattering of different items that build on broader themes that I have returned to often in the newsletter. The importance of art, our propensity to favor profits over people, and going gradeless are all areas that have gotten play here in previous issues.

The first item is long but well worth the click. Filled with exceptional multimedia elements and fascinating content, I suspect it will be in the mix for awards later in the year even. It is an impressive piece of digital journalism. Take the time to dig into it. You will not be disappointed. Pius, it came to me from one of you which makes it an even cooler inclusion.

So hopefully, this collection will give you some thoughtful enjoyment over the holiday. Enjoy the extended weekend, if you have it.

Here are three+ curated articles about education, technology, and evolutions in teaching.

This is Your Brain on ArtThe Washington Post – Sarah L. Kaufman (12-minute read)
This one comes courtesy of a reader of this newsletter and everyone should look at if for no other reason than to see an exquisite example of the kind of online publishing that the best newspapers, like The Washington Post, New York Times, and The Guardian can create. It is beautiful and a first class digital reading experience.

From a content experience, this piece highlights a host of things that we might have intuitively known but begins to introduce the scientific explanation and backing. The phenomenological investigation of the arts is nothing new but this article provides a window into some of the latest discoveries.

Perhaps most clever is how Swan Lake is used as a leitmotif through the whole feature, demonstrating the very neural turn-ons being highlighted. The whole work is as impressive as it is informative. If you only look at one article from this newsletter this week, this is the one.

Platforms Over PeopleA Long View on Education blog – Benjamin Doxtdator (7-minute read)
I have featured blogposts by Doxtador before in this newsletter because he often writes the kind of posts I wish that I had written. This is one of those posts. In a response to reading an article in MIT Technology Review, he keys in on one of the biggest challenges associated with artificial intelligence, the political one. It is the one that may get steamrolled in the rush for leverage and profits.

Looking at Accenture, Doxtador asks precisely the kinds of questions that we should always be asking, including “What returns will flow back to [citizens] instead of benefitting the corporation?” It would make a lot more sense to me if politicians began asking that rather than seemingly starting with how taxpayers can give the company a sweetheart deal. Companies will almost always leave if they think that they can get a better deal.

I am certainly more aligned with the idea that we should be mounting a resistance to surveillance capitalism which is a horse that has already left the barn and put in some distance before the chase. I have my doubts that it is even remotely likely to happen and the idea of nationalizing anything is definitely anathema to our current cultural climate. Still, referencing some spot-on observations by Noam Chomsky always catches my eye too.

The Gradeless Garden: Why natural, neutral, and nothing is not enough Identity, Education, and Power on Medium – Arthur Chiaravalli (7-minute read)
I have been highlighting some gradeless articles this year. The whole movement is interesting to me for a host of reasons. Yet, this post is one of the most honest and thoughtful examinations on the topic. Chiaravelli’s garden analogy is an apt one but it is the recognition that destroying-one-system-allows-another-one-to-emerge that is rarely addressed, if ever, by those advocating going gradeless.

Despite the best of intentions, academic spaces are never neutral spaces. They cannot be. As Chiaravelli understands, “our classrooms, our schools, our students, ourselves” are all contested ground, whether we like it or not. Furthermore, that ground is being increasingly contested with greater frequency and insidiousness.

What I like most of all about this is the interrogation at the heart of the discussion and realization that inclusion, like most of what we do in teaching is a process of constant construction. The work is so rarely ever done. The results cannot ultimately be controlled but the process and the building effort can continue, reach, grow, and improve.

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