School Is War, Prison, Factory, Machine, Business, Game, Life….And Other Metaphors: recommending Permaculture
If metaphors organize our thinking and if there is no genuinely neutral way of speaking about anything, then it is worth looking into the dominant metaphors used.
School is a domain that has been referred to in ways that help and in ways that harm. I would like to propose an old-made-new-again metaphor, The Garden, that might help, but this time with a century of ecological knowledge included. I suggest education as permaculture.
Why are people poor? Why do children of the poor not thrive?
The latest explanation for why children coming from disadvantaged households do not rise in this land of equal opportunity, why they do not do well in school, is that they are exposed to “thirty million fewer words” by the time they enter school.
If only it were so simple.
Read it on Huffington Post, or click "Read More"
The Proceedings of a conference, Learning In and Out of School: Education Across the Globe, held at the University of Notre Dame's Kellogg Institute for International Studies on May 22-23, 2012, are now available!
This is envisioned as a contribution to broadening the scholarly but also the public conversation about the nature of learning and its relationship to the formal institutions we know as schools. In that sense, posting proceedings is a necessary offering.
We—anthropologists, psychologists, human development and education scholars from as far as Korea and Alaska—met for two full days during a gorgeous spring week just following graduation, with flowers and warmth and the peace of an academic year just completed. We ate wonderful food throughout the day and night, and had many informal conversations along with the formal proceedings. As convener, I aimed to implement my best understanding of how people learn and how they interact by structuring the conference with no papers delivered. This is somewhat like “flipping the classroom”: the independent preliminary work that could be done in advance was done in advance—writing and reading papers and preparing comments on others’ work—and the precious face-to-face time was used for what could only be done that way: discussing, asking, brainstorming, and laughing together.
I have been thinking a lot lately about money and grades. Not for the reasons you may think: that I want more and better of both (or to “give” tough grades). But because they share interesting qualities. My thinking is analytical rather than greedy.
Money and grades, I propose, are both supersigns.
[Also see this and comments on PopAnth: Hot Buttered Humanity]
President Barack Hussein Obama was re-elected in a landslide.
We progressives who donated time and money to ensure that this happened have a right to be pleased.
But now it is time for loyal critics to speak up. And one area that must be attended to is education—at all levels. That unmentionable education radical Bill Ayers—someone Obama once knew but had to repudiate—wrote a letter to Arne Duncan explaining clearly what is wrong with the current system, but it does not quite go far enough.
Our world is built largely on consistent "conceptual metaphors" that order our way of thinking. If education is war survival by any means necessary makes perfect sense. Anyone with the money to purchase a paper would do so.
Today’s New York Times has articles that suggest two competing views: Everyone should go to college, and college is a waste of time.
Which view is right?
My visit to the American Automobile Association (AAA) office to renew our membership on the eve of helping my college-graduate daughter move out of state brought a lot of information—about the loquacious employee’s life and family. But the memorable core was about her school-challenged son’s effortless passing of his driver’s license examination.
I invite you to join me in an enterprise I’m calling a Critical Anthropology of Education. This approach to education—helping young folks grow into the kinds of people we and they want—is fully anthropological in every sense. This field is, for each of you, optional. It is not on the test.
Except that for our society as a whole, it is mandatory. And the test is all around us. We aren’t doing too well.