Monthly Archives: December 2006

XMAS HOMEYSCHOOL STYLE

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PLAYING IN THE LIBRARY

from The Shifted Librarian.

Hot Books is a game designed to bring life back into libraries by forcing players to explore, discover and share the deserted and unexplored spaces that make up a library.

See also:

Jane McGonigal’s Avant-Game
Hot Books at NYPL

Sometime in the next month or so I will summarize the extraordinary seven installments of a workshop given earlier this year at Lakewood Public Library. Also, I will reconfigure the web resource from Lakewood’s web site, and attach it to the squareONE web site.

The series was initiated to prove the concept:

Transformative learning is an aspect of adult education and experiential learning. In the modern library the lack of formality, the encouragement of do-it-yourself investigation, and the breadth of library resources aptly fits with initiatives oriented around informal learning leveraged through active, experiential engagement in and with the library and its resources.

In the conventional sense of self-directed learning about a subject of interest, a library presents an array of resources a learner uses to investigate and learn about this subject.

However, when the subject is one’s self, the hallmark of learning is learning through which this “subject” activates a process of discovery and testing and change. Such initiatives are ultimately emancipatory, and expressly the goal of this type of learning is self-knowledge and advances in personal capability.

The concept was proved. (Hat tip to Alana, who attended every session, and also to Fred and Ken.) In fact, the series was a high point of my own game-making career. One of the neat realizations shared with participants, aggrandizing as it may be, was that our collaboration and innovative use of the library, had never happened in this way ever before in any library. We all were groundbreakers in experiential learning in the environs of the great Lakewood Public Library.

Rather than decide between cognitive, somatic and phenomenal modes of experiential learning, the conceptual underpinning of transformative learning utilized for the programs at Lakewood Public Library integrates the three modalities and terms this integration: Integrated Learning.*

Integrated diagram

Integrated learning joins experience of relatedness to features and phenomena of the world (including other persons,) plus one’s spontaneous perceptions plus reflective conceptualizations about these experiences. It’s aim can be a: test of learning; discovery of further possibilities for investigation; or insights powerful enough to cause transformative effects.

[Lakewood Public Library Transformative Learning Portal]

(* Integral Learning’s conceptual framework with respect to its cognitive aspect is closely related to the learning models of David A. Kolb, et.al., and Jack Mezirow. With respect to the phenomenal (world-situated) aspect it is indebted to the work of Paulo Freire. Whereas its somatic aspect emerges from a variety of models and theorization in the interdisciplinary realm of embodied learning, etc.)

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Teaching Cartoon: By the Book

Teaching Cartoon: By the Book

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IRRESISTIBLE

I’m always on the lookout for stuff that makes the connection between fun, feeling good, and anything that goes better with feeling better. (Of course I do work for a maven (and innovator) of positive psychology in the organizational behavior field but I’ve been tracking this stuff for years previous to making the professional match .)

Via Bruce Eisner’s Vision Thing.

The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun

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FRIENDLY OLD HOUSE

Took this picture during vacation. Canon Powershot A62; auto-iPhoto sepia.


click for large version

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BE SURE NOT TO LOOK PEOPLE IN THE EYE TOO

From The Philosopher’s Magazine, by way of Dassh:A Day in the Integral Life

12 surefire techniques – I’ve excerpted the note at the end.

Tips for the Top; How to Be a Philosopher

Note

Naturally, these techniques are not recommended for amateur use and should not be attempted without the supervision of a full professor. These philosophical techniques are for use only by professional philosophers who have had years of specialised training. The author is not responsible for any non-sequiturs, invalid arguments, fallacies, digressions, existential malaise, mid-life crises, or career changes that may result from the use of these techniques. Anyone who feels chest pain, constriction in the throat, reddening of the face, or clenching of the fists upon reading these techniques should be treated immediately for anautoscopsis (an inability to laugh at oneself), a potentially lethal condition.

anautoscopsis…great word!

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QUOTE-EPICTETUS

It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”
-Epictetus

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A STARTING POINT

“You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, disbelief. Free your mind.” Morpheus (The Matrix)

Creating a mastermind is one of the fastest ways to get what you want. Our world is too complex to achieve much of anything by ourselves. Nearly all of our knowledge comes from outside ourselves.

Plus, when two people and especially three or four people get together, sparks fly. In our knowledge-based world, it’s nearly mandatory to constantly hone our skills. Books help. So do audio and video. Yet, the human touch is still the most powerful fuel to energize our minds. Year after year, professionals rise to the top of their fields by investing in themselves.

There are several ways to create a mastermind. 1) You can create an internal mastermind or role models (living or deceased), 2) You can join an association, 3) You can create a study group, or 4) You can find a mentor or coach. full article fr:Net-Intelligence

This is a start, at least. I’d could add quite a bit, but will add just a little. ‘Getting what you want’ is a constraint on open-ended learning worthy of its own deconstruction. What…why…how…are always good questions.

Yes, a group is a fine vehicle too. Leverage the differentiation. Different members want different things.

Also, getting what you don’t want can be a very powerful countervaling move. Sometimes the most explosive learning is the result of finding out that what one wants is something beyond what one thinks is wanted, or, that what one needs is entirely different than what one wants.

A Master Mind group is a good vehicle, yet the best groups most of the time benefit from keen facilitation. The more open-ended the group’s aims, the more keen must be the light touch and guidance of the facilitator.

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URBAN VELOCITY

Where The Sidewalk Ends
Behavioral psychology’s unexpected lesson for urban design
(Linda Baker)
[excerpts]
“The idea of this street is that it’s designed like a public square but it’s open to traffic,” said Ellen Vanderslice, a project manager for the Portland Department of Transportation. “We were very consciously trying to create a body language of the street that tells people something different is going on here.”

Combining traffic engineering, urban planning and behavioral psychology, the projects are inspired by a provocative new European street design trend known as “psychological traffic calming,” or “shared space.” Upending conventional wisdom, advocates of this approach argue that removing road signs, sidewalks, and traffic lights actually slows cars and is safer for pedestrians. Without any clear right-of-way, so the logic goes, motorists are forced to slow down to safer speeds, make eye contact with pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers, and decide among themselves when it is safe to proceed.

“The whole notion behind psychological traffic calming is to give drivers responsibility for the speed they choose,” said Andrew Parkes, a research scientist at the U.K.-based Transport Research Laboratory (TRL)

I’m trying to visualize a shared right-of-way. I squint and see the cars moving very very slow. Read the article from Seed magazine; it’s really a different take on controlling urban velocities.

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BLUE UNCONSCIOUS

(A brief note about my on-and-off again efforts as a naive painter. First, my best piece, a collage made in 1998, is lost somewhere amongst my stuff. I held onto only six pieces (of fifty or so) painted between 1992 and 2000. Between the holds and what I feel is best is the reason I made art in the first place: to please myself.)


click to enlarge

BLUE UNCONSCIOUS (1998)

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ZEITGEIST

With exquisite timing, Google today released its year-end Zeitgeist report, revealing “our collective consciousness” as expressed through our searches. The list of our top-ten news searches of the year provides a delightful preview of what we can expect when those dastardly news editors finally stop filtering the news and let “us” decide what we need to know:

1. paris hilton
2. orlando bloom
3. cancer
4. podcasting
5. hurricane katrina
6. bankruptcy
7. martina hingis
8. autism
9. 2006 nfl draft
10. celebrity big brother 2006

via Rough Type

This itemization has caused many commentators some dismay. With my anthropologist’s beanie on, I find this top ten to simply represent a very concise slice about where attention is directed. This means it’s interesting for what it overtly shows and what is tacitly underneath.

The ten pieces here are at turns lurid, idealized, sad, fatalistic, personal and trivial. It doesn’t seem to me to be a very profound comment on the Zeitgeist to be dismayed at the shallowness implicit in the averaging factor of a google top ten! Although a top one thousand would be more to the point, this thin slice shows the Zeitgeist to be summarily conflicted about matters of youth, identity, fate, and mortality. Good Jungian take with a puella/puer in the top two spots.

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UP UP AND AWAY

Wouldn’t you like to ride in my beautiful balloon
Wouldn’t you like to ride in my beautiful balloon
We could float among the stars together, you and I
For we can fly we can fly
Up, up and away
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon
The world’s a nicer place in my beautiful balloon
It wears a nicer face in my beautiful balloon
We can sing a song and sail along the silver sky
For we can fly we can fly
Up, up and away
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon
Suspended under a twilight canopy
We’ll search the clouds for a star to guide us
If by some chance you find yourself loving me
We’ll find a cloud to hide us
We’ll keep the moon beside us
Love is waiting there in my beautiful balloon
Way up in the air in my beautiful balloon
If you’ll hold my hand we’ll chase your dream across the sky
For we can fly we can fly
Up, up and away
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon
Balloon…
Up, up, and away…..
-Jimmy Webb

I find fundamentalisms to be amusing. They are so whether they are religious, Bright-minded and hyper rationalistic, or psychologically systematic. I have been fortunate (or cursed,) to have a lot of exposure to the weird and the wonderful and the unexplicable, yet, about absolute matters and both first and final things, I am agnostic. Any opinions I have are tentative, but my prejudice does favor a minimal capability enabled to understand what is demonstrably and reasonably widely applicable and what is, surely, not known to be certainly universal.

When I was 21 I had dinner with a friend and his wife and another couple. This second couple was literally led by the husband, a twenty-something Navy officer several years out of Annapolis. He worked as a weapons coordinator at Portsmouth naval shipyard. He also was a dominionist. He laid it all out how a Christian God stood, for him, firstly over everything including history itself, so-to-speak. I thought nothing of it except that the only proof he spoke of us was the truth of the bible. And, he told us it would end badly for the infidel and, just maybe, the US Navy might have to weigh in on the side of the about-to-return, sword bearing, Jesus. He sure hoped he might get a chance to rain some hellfire on the unsaved.

Scroll forward through many other encounters, each one characterized by the same “proof”. Such intellectual silliness is hardly worth challenging. For example, intelligent design proffers not even a single coherent contest of evolution. And it’s whole primary frame is supernaturalistic expicalicreationist. Heck, the other morning on the local NPR station a minister stated that evolution could not be true because nobody was around to observe it. I thought it was a delicious moment of solipsism, but the caller on the line fumbled the golden opportunity to shoot fish in the barrel.

I have friends and colleagues who are much more anxious about Jesusmanic religious fundamentalism, 21st century revival-style. Not me. The problem with the prospect for a theocracy is demographic and generational. A friend of mine is the son of pentacostals and he chose sex over snakes at 15. Doh.

This week I watched Jesus Camp, (official site,) a movie mostly about a crazed youth minister, Becky Fischer. Her game is to indoctrinate 5-15 year old kids and make them into Christian warriors in the Manichean war of saved Jesus peeps against unbelievers. Among many chilling sequences are two that leap out. The first is when she expresses envy of Islam because the Muslims, according to Fischer, have the kiddie indoctrination process down cold. The second is when she forthrightly admits that the end game of God’s design isn’t compatible with democracy.

But what the theocrats are up against is the increasing plural and cosmopolitan character of the U.S. As well, the generation galvanized to fearfulness by free love and freely chosen spirituality and freaks and, heck, the enlightenment, are aging. Ask any twenty-year-old about the counterculture of the sixties and how it has impacted them.

Sure, there is a wedge strategy to take over South Carolina, and, evidently, some of the suburbs of Colorado Springs have already ‘fallen,’ yet, over the next decade or so, the aging evangelical babyboomer, (see the red and blue political maps for 1972 and 2004,) and the generation X evangelical will go into fast decline. Fischer will not be able to create her warriors fast enough to war against culturally tolerant, hedonistic generations Y & Z.

Rapture gallery time.

Ask the aces question of any fundamentalist of any heuristic stripe: “Is your God, model, system, view, knowledge, required to also be my God (etc.)?” See if you’re forced to point out that something held to be truly universally applicable can only be true if it is truly universally applicable.

If my intuition is wrong and I end up in hell for eternity, so be it. If hell is good enough for Ronald Reagan and JFK –if there be a hellish there, there–it’s good enough for me.

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A LIFE’S MONK

A friend of mine recently afforded me the opportunity to do a project. He loaned me the compact disc set of Thelonious Monk’s London Sessions, (that I’ve long owned on LP,) and I compiled two CDs from the three discs. The first consists of the various master and alternate takes and ends with the musing riff, Chordially. The second disc contains the extant single takes. There are many masterpieces made during these close-to-the-end (1971) sessions recorded for Alan Bates and Black Lion Records. Most famous is the rending solo version of Loverman.

For the trio sides Bates joined Monk with bassist Al McKibbon and drummer Art Blakey. McKibbon is especially valued here as he shadows Monk’s late stage temporal (as in: tempo) flow. Blakey plays with uncharacteristic restraint. His work here is distinctive for this reason. Of course, those that know the complete sessions already understand on the first set I’ve compiled, I’ve brought together trio and solo versions of the same compositions.

My goal was to assemble a listener’s version for study and contemplation. Having previously posted on religious matters I’m tempted to elevate my deep love for Monk and his music to something on the order of a religious devotion and, perhaps, to a religion. In one personal sense, why the heck not? After all, with Monk at the head of my pagan musical pantheon, this idiosyncratic religion would be about beauty and goodness as well as truth.

I heard Monk on record for the first time when I was 19. Monk Underground. It sounded weird and like nothing else I had heard, like no other jazz I had heard up to then, (this was the second year of my being turned to jazz.) Harvey Pekar hipped me to reissues just released (1973-74) and so my first Monk record was the Prestige two-fer, Thelonious Monk, containing sessions recorded between 1952 and 1954. The last trio session was recorded 20 days after my date of birth.

My tattered copy of this double set has some of its liner noted highlighted in green. As I open it up today for the first time in many years, (an essential box set on CD replaced it for listening purposes,) I see highlighted:

Once a sax player complained to Monk hat he’d written something outside the range of his horn, “impossible” to execute.

“You’ve got an instrument,” counseled Monk: “either play it, or throw it away.” He played it.

Hmmm. You could start a zen-like religion on the basis of this counsel, alone.

I could go on and on. As for studying Monk, countless hours have been spent in his sound world. I hold his art as being transformative. This begs interesting questions about the nature of music. But, since I could go on and on and try to articulate a somewhat ineffable sense, I’ll lead the interested reader to one way i articulated this over ten years ago. A Monk section was the very first piece of creative work I loosed on the web, God, One Note!.

I have no favorite Monk record because when I think of one I thing of all. If you’ve never heard much of Monk, I (guess) I’d point to Brilliant Corners, recorded for Riverside. This was his first combo session for Riverside (1956) and there’s not much one can say except that Monk and his bandmates, Ernie Henry, Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Oscar Pettiford, and Max Roach went to work and came out with something for the ages.

But, darn, when I heard the Blue Notes for the first time in 1976, (another two-fer,) I held their miniaturization to be diamond hard and explosive at the same time. Monk’s Riverside solos became available in excellent reissues from Japan and I promptly wore them out. I got a scratchy copy of the second big band record, (the collaboration with Hall Overton from 1963, this time for Columbia,) and thought I had gone to heaven.

Nowadays, the gateways to Monk paradise pop up every now and then. For example, in the past year, Blue Note has uncovered a Carnegie Hall live set featuring John Coltrane, while Concord/Fantasy has gifted the believer with the remastered Riverside studio dates with Coltrane.

But, where to begin? Here are the covers of eight starting points; the great eight. Change your musical life: go for it, for the bright moments.

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