Teaching: Busted Boomer

I must get this off my chest.  I have failed miserably in helping my students in my writing courses at the community college learn what I intended to teach them, how to engage in meaningful and productive discourse to learn how to communicate in powerful ways using the tool of writing.  The conversation needed to teach to such goals never really got started.  I tried at first to find topics for them and could hardly find any most were interested in or would come to be interested in and I asked them many a time about what it was that they were interested in.  Neither tactic worked.

 

They insisted they were not very interested in much, this a topic I tried to use to generate conversation but without much effect.  My students, I came to realize through the conversation we did have where they spoke some, were not used to conversing or thinking deeply enough about things there were to think about to have what they considered something to say.  Two years of isolation, no environmental conditions to warrant they think about their thoughts and find reason to find words and phrases to convey their thoughts to others had, indeed, had an effect.  Maybe worse than their COVID related problems was an attitude I came to understand as reasonable.  They told me that they were used to people not listening to them, the people who counted having already made up their minds, not only about issues, but also about who was smart and who was not.

 

The boomers, they said, ran the world—and had ruined the world—most ever part of it.  And the boomers, their teachers, politicians, bosses, etc., believe themselves to be so smart that those who were not boomers need not be heard.  So why try?  They told me that they were waiting for their time to come–when the boomers were gone.  Meanwhile, they would talk among themselves but didn’t see much reason to argue with those who would not listen to them anyhow.

 

I, of course, am one of those they consider a boomer.  Yes, I could have done more, done better, but I really wasn’t ready for what I encountered.  I misread a generation or maybe two because, probably, my boomer mentality got in the way.  And, too, I had not the faintest idea of what the effects of COVID had been or of the attitudes spawned by the conditions of the world most directly affecting them, the seemingly insurmountable problems of global warming and an economy that would, they believed, never allow them to achieve levels of prosperity equal to that of former generations.

 

They saw the job market boomers had left them uninviting and the prospect for living well rather dim.  I needed to feel the malaise rather than study it if I was going to connect and I could not do that.  I had the advantage of boomer credentials and, even though I did not use them as many of my cohort had to enrich myself, I still felt degrees of freedom of choice that they do not feel, probably because of what they have been taught about how done a deal their futures are no matter how hard they may try to change it.

 

 

 

 

 

How can one judge the goodness of anything without having a sensible notion of what good is?
 
So, I was asked to edit an edition of an international journal and I said I would accept if the them of the issue was the goals that define good education. The general editor agreed. Attached is the call for papers for the edition I am editing. I am not looking for the typical research paper but, rather, the goals of education that should define good outcomes in the research. Did a methodology work? Well, what meaningful goals did it help to achieve. Some balking already but here is the revised call with an extended deadline. You do not have to be a university professor to submit but do know that university “quality” work only will be reviewed (yipes).
The call:
The deadline for REPAM’s special issue proposals has been extended and the scope of the special issue has also been slightly expanded.

Special Issue Theme: Defining meaningful goals and establishing effective strategies to prepare students for life as citizens in a challenging world

Editor:   Stephen K. Lafer

University of Nevada- Reno, USA

Research in Educational Policy and Management (REPAM / repamjournal.org) is an international, open access and peer-reviewed journal. This special issue will focus on the goals and strategies that educators should be working to achieve and the discussion of viable outcomes for successful efforts to improve schools, school systems, and educational policy and practices in general.

The historical roots and political motivation for educational goals in societies are worth of deep exploration as well as critiques of goals such as those by members of school boards in the United States who have often rejected proposals for goals and companion curricula that contain elements that some, sometimes a relative few, find to be against their patriotic and religion inspired notions of what constitutes proper education.

In this special issue, the papers will focus on the viable and meaningful goals, and effective strategies to achieve them, for schools and instructional practice that can be justified in terms of how they enhance the lives of students and prepare them for life as citizens of the world. The papers can propose goals and offer justification for them through presentation of good evidence and proper reasoning. They can assess in place goals that the writer understands to be good ones or critiques of goals that should be abandoned because they do not serve well students or society.

The discussion that is the intended purpose of this special issue requires think pieces rather than reports. However, papers reporting the findings of original research will also be welcome. Papers will be accepted for the goodness of the description of goals and strategies considered, the quality of analysis of goals discussed in regard to their value for the good society and positive growth of individuals as individuals and citizens of their societies and citizens of the world.

Papers length: 2500 to 8000 words, including references.

Author guidelines  to prepare your manuscript: Please refer to https://repamjournal.org/index.php/REPAM/author-guidelines

Publication fee information:  Articles published in this special issue are exempt from the Article Processing Charge. The submission, assessment and publication of the articles will be totally free of charge.

Timeline: Papers must be submitted to Dr. Stephen Lafer via email at  editor@repamjournal.org by December 31, 2021. Publication: April 1, 2022.

Important note: Due to a technical problem, the data on proposals sent by email to Dr. Stephen Lafer before 20 June 2021 has been lost. We strongly urge those submitting proposals before 20 June 2021 to contact Dr. Stephen Lafer at editor@repamjournal.org

Educated to be fools

Schools teach, almost always, that the American system of politics and economics is good, too often as the best, far too often as the best possible. So, to be good citizens, they, students, must become good Americans, this having only a little with making America better and working for good. A good citizen, most, except for the few with controlling interests, go to work each day to make those few ever richer and more powerful so that they can buy ever more control of not only American citizens but the whole of the earth including every acre of land and every human being, this their good because it produces order of the kind that lets them be rich and powerful and evermore in control.
If teachers were to allow themselves the opportunity to consider the dangers rife in the present mandated curricula, they would not teach much of what they are told to teach and they would not teach in ways that their evaluators demand they teach.
In WCSD, considering the “thinking” of the Board of Trustees and the superintendent on COVID and student/teacher safety, teachers should not be listening to those who control them at all because those with the power to fire them are the kind of people who reflect failure in the system and not success.
Really, we are here for not having revolted long ago and we are in eminent danger for this. We will did in many ways if that revolt does not come soon and if it is not strong. Look at our sky, read the statistics on vaccinations and lack thereof, the arguments against and the willingness of our Trustees to “compromise” with fools who spread death.

Watching skateboarding at

Olympics

. Skateboarding began as kid play. My play on a two-by-four with Roll Fast metal skates nailed to it to go down Cardiff Hill. Crazy! And then, invention upon invention and a world class sport. Watch where the children play and, from time to time find ways to suggest attempts at greater sophistication! Schoolwork productively meaningful, creativity, imagination, and critical thinking used to do what makes growing such abilities worth the effort.

 

 

 

 

 

Praxis

From the book arguing that praxis IS learning properly.
Praxis is a powerful concept that describes both a means for coming to understandings and a particular kind of understanding that is achieved through mindfulness. Praxis is the grasping of a meaning, the point at which one gets it, at which there is a new bond formed between it and I, it understood so well as to allow one to say that it is in agreement with my interpretation of it. Robert Heinlein was, I think, thinking of praxis when, while writing Stranger in a Strange Land, he found it necessary to invent grok…
Knowing oneself to be capable of praxis is self-affirmation of a most potent kind, belief in oneself as a transformative being supremely empowering. It frees one to act; to consider the meaning of the world as self and to act upon the world as an independent actor. It causes a person to understand others to be such themselves or, at least, capable of being such.
From the book arguing that praxis IS learning properly.
Praxis is a powerful concept that describes both a means for coming to understandings and a particular kind of understanding that is achieved through mindfulness. Praxis is the grasping of a meaning, the point at which one gets it, at which there is a new bond formed between it and I, it understood so well as to allow one to say that it is in agreement with my interpretation of it. Robert Heinlein was, I think, thinking of praxis when, while writing Stranger in a Strange Land, he found it necessary to invent grok…
Knowing oneself to be capable of praxis is self-affirmation of a most potent kind, belief in oneself as a transformative being supremely empowering. It frees one to act; to consider the meaning of the world as self and to act upon the world as an independent actor. It causes a person to understand others to be such themselves or, at least, capable of being such.

SHAPE

There is a local group on Facebook that is for local educators to discuss issues concerning education. Actually, it is a site for teachers to talk about their employment as teachers and not much about issues that need discussion concerning the problematic nature of the educational system and our local schools that are a part of that system.It is fine to have places like this where people of a kind can commiserate, give others support, make one another feel better.It is a problem, thought, when, in making one another feel better, the broader issues that are related to their happiness are not discussed, for educators whether it is the system they are a part of should be making them unhappy and whether it is necessary for them to be unhappy for their refusal recognize the problems inherent in the system their work support and the damage their support for the system does to students who are its most vulnerable victims.Yes, the teacher’s lot is a difficult one. Worse, teachers are a cause of their own problems, to a large extent, by supporting the system, by being its good and loyal employees.So, I do think far past due that the truly good teachers who should be worried about the results the system produces and its consequences for individuals, society, and the planet, create new organizations that speak truth of the reality of schools in American society and the failure (much intentional) to prepare students to participate in the development of a properly sane and humane democratic society.SHAPE: Sane and Humane: Association for Progressive Education.

Thirty Years of Failure

CNN article titled “John Kerry warns ‘time is running out’ to address climate crisis, calling the last 30 years a failure” leads me to say this:

Thirty years of failure to address sensibly an issue that has such profound implications! How could that be in this democratic society? Because we do not have a sensible and humane democratic society. We have a society in which capitalism is the economic system and the political system. We have two parties that are capitalist and none that are sensible and humane because sensible and humane would necessitate undoing capitalism. Schools teach for capitalism, for students to be obedient workers. Teachers keep their jobs by being obedient to capitalist masters and are fine with this as long as they make enough not to be impoverished. Change? Recycle, save a gallon of gas here and there, rally, write letters to politicians, so on and so forth? All leading to failure. So, what now?

Problematic Progressivism: Packer

Progressives, shocked by the readiness of half the country to support this hateful man, seized on racism as the single cause and set out to disprove every alternative. But this answer was far too satisfying. Racism is such an irreducible evil that it gave progressives commanding moral heights and relieved them of the burden to understand the grievances of their compatriots down in the lowlands, let alone do something about them. It put Trump voters beyond the pale. But racism alone couldn’t explain why white men were much more likely to vote for Trump than white women, or why the same was true of Black and Latino men and women. Or why the most reliable predictor for who was a Trump voter wasn’t race but the combination of race and education.

Packer’s America Fractured

These are cites from George Packer’s rather important article in the Atlantic titled “How America Fractured into Four Parts: People in the United States No longer Agree on the Nation’s Purpose.” For those in education, I would hope that you would give it a read and agree to find a way to discuss what this article should mean to we who try to educate the American citizenry.

Quotes:

But a freedom that gets rid of all obstructions is impoverished, and it degrades people.

Real freedom is closer to the opposite of breaking loose. It means growing up, and acquiring the ability to participate fully in political and economic life. The obstructions that block this ability are the ones that need to be removed. Some are external: institutions and social conditions. Others are embedded in your character and get in the way of governing yourself, thinking for yourself, and even knowing what is true. These obstructions crush the individuality that freedom lovers cherish, making them conformist, submissive, a group of people all shouting the same thing—easy marks for a demagogue.

Government, which did so little for ordinary Americans, was still the enemy, along with “governing elites.” But for the sinking working class, freedom lost whatever economic meaning it had once had. It was a matter of personal dignity, identity. Members of this class began to see trespassers everywhere and embraced the slogan of a defiant and armed loneliness: Get the fuck off my property. Take this mask and shove it. It was the threatening image of a coiled rattlesnake: “Don’t tread on me.” It achieved its ultimate expression on January 6, in all those yellow Gadsden flags waving around the Capitol—a mob of freedom-loving Americans taking back their constitutional rights by shitting on the floors of Congress and hunting down elected representatives to kidnap and kill. That was their freedom in its pure and reduced form.

A character in Jonathan Franzen’s 2010 novel, Freedom, puts it this way: “If you don’t have money, you cling to your freedoms all the more angrily. Even if smoking kills you, even if you can’t afford to feed your kids, even if your kids are getting shot down by maniacs with assault rifles. You may be poor, but the one thing nobody can take away from you is the freedom to fuck up your life.” 

Politically, Smart America came to be associated with the Democratic Party. This was not inevitable. If the party had refused to accept the closing of factories in the 1970s and ’80s as a natural disaster, if it had become the voice of the millions of workers displaced by deindustrialization and struggling in the growing service economy, it might have remained the multiethnic working-class party that it had been since the 1930s. 

The winners in Smart America have withdrawn from national life. They spend inordinate amounts of time working (even in bed), researching their children’s schools and planning their activities, shopping for the right kind of food, learning to make sushi or play the mandolin, staying in shape, and following the news. None of this brings them in contact with fellow citizens outside their way of life. School, once the most universal and influential of our democratic institutions, now walls them off. The working class is terra incognita.