Learning from the comics

What a refreshing reading!  I thought the format was extremely effective.  I’ve never been a fan of comics, but I now have a great appreciation of the art of comics as well as their power to involve the reader in the subject matter.

Radio is often called “theatre of the mind.”  It is sometimes more effective than television because, if engaged, the audience uses their imaginations to fill in the blanks and the pictures that they create are more powerful than ones provided by video.  I can see that comics also  have that power.  I wish I had more drawing talent.  It would be fun to try to create some instructions for students in comic form.


There are certainly merits for de-institutionalizing education. However, I could not get past the idea that the system described would be incredibly disadvantageous to children of lower socio-economic households.  I wonder if Illich had spent much time with children and parents who live in multi-generational poverty.  Those households are in constant chaos.  Parents for the most part have no interest/ability to guide their children in education.  Along these lines, in Outliers, there is a report on Annette Lareau’s research on parenting styles.  She found the styles divided along class lines  and cited examples like coaching children to speak up, finding resources and opportunities for children and interacting with people in authority.  Lareau concluded that children from wealthy homes are taught attitudes that are “suited to success in the modern world.”  Illich mentions the role of parents, but does not address how to overcome the wide disparity of abilities.

About midway through, the article on deschooling hit me as an article on home schooling.

One of Illich’s indictments of educators is their desire to keep knowledge a secret. This made me think of our discussion of the apparent unwillingness of the IT guys to share their knowledge.  But really aren’t most professions guilty — doctors, lawyers accountants?  I’m reminded of an email this week referring to a mechanic’s keeping secret the location of a radiator drain plug.  Maybe this desire to keep secrets is actually the very reason a system of education has developed.  The experts are not willing to share!  IF that is the case, Illich’s entire scenario would fall.

An Aside — Is it just me, or do articles in electronic form have way more errors than articles in print?

Still thinking about it…

I’m still considering our discussion/disagreement about “what is art?”   I thought some of Viola’s work was artistic, but I could not quit thinking about the experience of seeing lots of works in New York art museums this summer that left me thinking”this is not art — how did those artists convince the curators that their work belongs in the Guggenheim, Met or MOMA???”  I went in search of some I remember, but could not find them.  I did find this candy art.  It is literally a pile (sculpture) of candy.  Hmmm.

The $30,000 Cameron Park willow structure funded by the National Endowment for the Arts is now complete.  I need to visit it and ponder about its value as art.  I think I will go on one of these beautiful fall days and enjoy the art of the river and park as well.

Computer games are like plays?

My reaction to Laurel’s article comparing dramas to video games is that plays provide a level of  communal activity that is not provided in video games.  (I admit that I never play computer games so that certainly colors my thinking.)  As soon as you read this you might be thinking “oh, yes it is communal — we have online game “communities.”   But is it really the same.  There is something personal about gathering in a theatre and to experience a play.  Furthermore, theatre is so much more personal than gathering for a movie because of the humanity shared by the actors.  I think plays offer so much more than computer games and hope technology will not result in the demise. But has it already?

I found the article most informative as a way to analyze why a play or book falls flat. I could definitely relate to those examples in the article.  When a mystery is solved with information not shared with me, the reader, I resent it.

The Star Raiders article was completely foreign to me since

The Social Network

What a great movie! I drew some parallels with things we’ve been talking about/reading. First, Zukerburg was a technology geek.  He went home after a botched date and created a very complex site “Face Mash” used to compare co-eds.  I could not help but think about how he would probably thoroughly enjoy the “Research Center for Augmenting Human Intellect” article that I had struggled through. Just like I had very little understanding of the article, Zukerberg’s programming baffled me.

I did appreciate his desire to keep The Facebook (original name) pure from advertising.  His partner, who bankrolled the network with an initial investment of $1,000, early on was looking to create advertising revenue.  Zukerberg resisted and insisted that advertising would cause it to lose the “cool” factor and would therefore kill the young network. As we read in the article,  Xerox could not find commercial use for the ARC work and it just sat.  Facebook timed commercialization perfectly and hit it big.

If you haven’t been, go see the movie.  It was fascinating to see how Facebook evolved.

I was Augmented

Woohoo!  How ’bout that new WebAdvisor system for drops?  That was the best example I’ve seen in a long time of augmenting human capability.  Imagine the collective hours saved of not having to locate the slips, look up the student ID, fill out the required info, sign them and either hand them to someone to deliver or deliver them yourself to the records office.  If we could aggregate the time saved, we could teach a couple of extra classes.  In the flurry of celebratory emails, I wanted to send one that said, “It’s about time.”  However, I’m so glad I did not.

Guess what I did?  In my exuberance to use the system, I deleted a student that should not have been deleted.  So, the new system augmented by capability, but not my thinking.  OOPS.

One additional comment about this system.  There was not a high price to pay for the augmentation. Engelbart refers to the time and energy required to learn and use the system this way.  Reading about his cards with notches and windows overwhelmed me with the price for that sort of augmentation.  I’m glad the new webadvisor system has no notches or needles!

Thinking or Filling time?

“As We May Think” made it’s most powerful statement (for me) when it said that technology would enable us to expand the body of knowledge — “encompass the great record and to grow in the wisdom of the race experience.” The idea of sharing our learning and preventing others from “reinventing the wheel” is a powerful argument for technology. And, isn’t it amazing what people add to the public record just through YouTube that they are willing to share freely.

The caution of this knowledge is also presented in his phrase “the mass of the inconsequential.” I hate to think how much valuable time our students spend on mindless YouTube or Facebook pursuits. The “I don’t have time” excuse wears pretty thin considering how much time they spend daily with the inconsequential data they absorb!

Bush’s future-cast was amazing. It will be interesting to see how accurate he is for developments in the next 20 years. Will the computers be able t read our thoughts? I might simply have to place my fingers on the key pad and my thoughts spill out — hmmm — hope we can edit.

The rest of the story

The last paragraph was beautiful!  Friday I scoffed at the comment about the poetry of the last paragraph, but I was reading the last paragraph of our material.   The REAL last paragraph was moving.  It equated the “machine” to a work of art — symphony, book, painting or photograph. The essence of this last paragraph for me was that because humans created it,  the machine is a reflection of us humans and therefore has capacity for magnificence.  But while it can have the beauty of a symphony, it can also be ugly when used to carry the message of the burning of holy books (reflection of an ugly act).  Tonight the machine was beautiful when it brought my daughter and I together in conversation about the Facebook pages of some of my high school friends.  The history and feelings and feelings shared were a direct result of the power of the machine.  Later she shared a YouTube video  with me and in that sharing there that was an affirmation of the “mothering” she has experienced — truly beautiful.  Thank you, machine.