crap detecting

next week, we’ll be having a major internal PD for our teaching staff, counted 29 assuming full attendance. although i will not be a ‘participant’, i’m still reading the pre-readings chosen to get participants thinking and discussions going.

the post’s title is title for Chapter I of Postman, N., & Weingartner, C. (1971). Teaching as a subversive activity. Penguin Books.

from pg.10 onwards, the metaphor of a clock face is invoked. 1 min on the clock = 50 yrs; 60×50=3000 yrs of human history. some quotes that caught my attention:

“change isnt new; what is new is the degree of change…abt 3 mins ago there developed a qualitative difference in the character of change. Change changed.” (p.10-11)

“in just the last minute, we’ve reached the stage where change occurs so rapidly that each of us in the course of our lives has continuously to work out a set of values, beliefs…that are viable, or seem viable, to each of us personally. And just when we have identified a workable system, it turns out to be irrelevant because so much has changed while we were doing it.” (p.11)

“… you are a walking encyclopedia of outdated information.” (p.11)

“(citing John Gardner) there is usually no shortage of new ideas; the problem is to get a hearing for them…The ageing society develops elaborate defenses against new ideas…As a society becomes more concerned with precedent and custom, it comes to care more abt how things are done and less abt whether they are done…body of customs, convention, …exercises such an oppressive effect on creative minds that new developments in a field often originate outside the area of respectable practice.” (p.12)

“We are not ‘against’ bureaucracies, any more than we are ‘for’ them. They are like electric plugs. They will probably not go away… This is why we ask that schools be ‘subversive,’ that they …providing the young with a ‘What is it good for?” perspective on its own society… generals… politicians… ‘intellectuals’…, for they do not have access to the majority of youth. But schoolteachers do, and so the primary responsibility rests with them.” (p.13)

“The trouble is that most teachers have the idea that they are in… the ‘information dissemination’ business. This was a reasonable business up to abt a min or two ago… The signs that their business is failing are abundant, but they keep it all the more diligently. (citing Santayana) … a fanatic is someone who redoubles his efforts when he has forgotten his aims. In this case, even if the aim has not been forgotten, it is simply irrelevant. But the effort has been redoubled anyway.” (p.13)

“…some teachers who think they are in the ‘transmission of our cultural heritage’ business, which is not an unreasonable business if you are concerned with the whole clock, and not just its first 57 mins. The trouble is that most teachers find that last 3 mins too distressing to deal with…their students find the last 3 mins distressing and confusing too, esp. the last 30 secs…While they have to live with TV film… communication satellites, and the laser beam, their teachers are still talking as if the only medium on the scene is Gutenberg’s printing press. While they have to understand psychology and psychedelics…, their teachers are teaching “subjects” that mostly don’t exist anymore. While they need to find new roles for themselves as social, political, and religious organisms, their teachers are acting almost entirely as shills for corporate interests, shaping them up to be functionaries in one bureaucracy or another.” (p.13-14)

Future shock occurs when you are confronted by the fact that the world you were educated to believe in doesnt exist… There are several ways of responding to such a condition, one of which is to withdraw and allow oneself to be overcome by a sense of impotence. More commonly, one continues to act as if his apparitions were substantial, relentlessly pursuing a course of action that he knows will fail him” (p.14)

reviewing the above quotes again, i ask, “how many of our CL teachers see themselves in an ‘information dissemination’ business?”, and “how many of us are in a state of ‘Future shock’?”, and among these, “how many are overcome by a sense of impotence, and how many are pursuing a course of action that s/he knows will fail her/him, or her/his students? as a teacher educator, how am i going to facilitate a shift in beliefs (esp. epistemic) of CL teachers?


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