30 October 2009

Institutional Corruption

Here is Lawrence Lessig defining an important aspect of our current political and social situation, the subtle forms of corruption that are promulgated by institutional arrangements:

I really appreciate his take on responsibility, it's not just individuals, we have to hold our institutions equally accountable.

28 October 2009

Perspective on Homelessness

Since I have been involved with homeless shelters for youth here in Portland years ago and more recently helped with the establishment of a seasonal homeless shelter for adults in Port Townsend, WA, I have some interest in the issue. Here's a TED Talk that relates a first hand experience of one woman's bout with homelessness:

25 October 2009

Song of Connection

Here's a delightful music video about our interconnectedness with the universe:

23 October 2009

Leadership styles on public display

Here's another great conductor providing valuable insights into leadership and the heights of accomplishing it in a complex endeavor. The great thing about this talk is that he shows through video examples of different leadership styles and demonstrates with the audience several of them.:

Situationism in the New York Times

Here's a quote from this op-ed in the NYTimes:
Behavior does not exhibit what the psychologists call “cross-situational stability.”

The psychologists thus tend to gravitate toward a different view of conduct. In this view, people don’t have one permanent thing called character. We each have a multiplicity of tendencies inside, which are activated by this or that context.

I appreciate this piece as a particularly concise explanation of the importance of situationism. It's unfortunate that he paints all of philosophy as dispositionist and inherently based on a priori assumptions, but it's understandable in the context of having to be concise.

Hat Tip to The Frontal Cortex Blog.

09 October 2009

Structured Freedom

In response to the Free-Range Kids Blog post called "Hugging Instructions? Yep." I am re-reading this report.

One of the things they point out is how structured this kind of freedom actually is, despite the shallow view that emphasizes "freedom" from coercion normally found in schools.

Here's an excerpt:
Far from the “free” image with which we started this account, Summerhill school has invisible boundaries, powerful inspections, binding agreements, and redemptive public rituals, as well as a set of visible sanctions that prompt and reinforce acceptable ways to live together. These all act as an “outside-in” pressure that frames and disciplines interactions while developing identities and
relationships, yet always with the possibility of change or resistance. We have suggested something of the total nature of students’ engagement with these structures. Summerhill is a powerful mechanism, generating discipline from within, and without the coercive relations of a “normal” school. The school orchestrates a vortex of engagements, from which there is no “backing away”, as one student put it. Everyone is ‘in touch’ with everyone else, more or less.

Wry insight into bureaucratic teaching

Here is the first of six categories of help that this teacher wants an assistant to do:

Must be willing to make and receive numerous phone calls on a daily basis. Subject of phone calls can be, but is not limited to:

  • scheduling parent conferences with 100% success rate
  • scheduling parent conferences with 100% of the parents
  • scheduling parent conferences with 100% of the parents to be completed within a 10-day window
  • scheduling parent conferences for parents that can't actually come on parent conference night
  • scheduling alternative times for parent conferences during teacher's planning period, before school, or after school (when even the teacher doesn't even know what days he/she will actually HAVE a planning period, or when the teacher only has 1-day lead time as to whether or not they will have morning duty the following week, or when the teacher doesn't know when a last minute after school frivolous meeting will be scheduled)
  • tracking down missing paperwork/documentation for records
  • communicating information to parents about missing/incomplete student work
  • communicating information to parents about their child's negative behaviors in school

Illusions or Reality

Here is a TED Talk by Beau Lotto that makes an important point about how we are embodied minds embedded in reality, not disembodied minds apprehending reality:

Here's the first ten minutes of a longer presentation via Fora.tv that goes into more detail and explores more of his sense of the consequences of these ideas, click Watch Full Program to see the whole thing:

03 October 2009

Evidence to Support Nature Deficit Disorder Social Effects

Here's a video that I found via The Situationist Blog on the findings of a recent study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin on the effects of communing with nature: