Spatial reasoning, which promises connection across wide areas, is itself ironically often not connected to other areas of knowledge. Thinking with Maps: Understanding the World through Spatialization addresses this problem, developing its argument through historical analysis and cross-disciplinary examples involving maps.Continue reading
Valentine’s Day stories
I wouldn’t have expected to find Valentine’s Day stories in an MBA class, but that’s where ten of them appeared today.
This was an induction session for new MBA students at King’s College, Kathmandu. There were 60 students, seated in tables with six each.
Narottam Aryal and Arjun Rijal, the instructors, gave each group a photograph of contemporary life in Nepal. The groups were to discuss “What do you see, feel, wonder?”
Most initially focused on surface features (a family on a motorbike), but soon they generated more complex and varying interpretations. They inferred things such as that it was a middle-class family, which valued education.
The groups then received nine more images. They were asked to choose five or so from among these, make up a story, then use glue stick, scissors, markers and poster stock to prepare a presentation.
After 30 minutes, each group shared its story. Some were love and family stories, appropriate to the day. One focused on Nepal itself; another imagined a British tourist taking the photos to memorialize his visit, which happens to be an account not far from the actual source of the images.
Groups also shared what they learned, with comments about teamwork, valuing different perspectives, learning about each other, even about themselves, and deeper understanding of topics such as rural development in Nepal.
For me, the class reinforced the idea that students can display engagement, initiative, creativity, attention to detail, thoughtful reading, writing, speaking, and listening if only given the chance. There are undoubtedly technical skills needed for MBA’s that did not emerge here, but it’s hard to imagine a better foundation for studying those.
Their creativity was all the more remarkable since the class began at 6:30 am!
The photos came from my book, Progressive Education In Nepal: The Community Is the Curriculum.
More than book sales
On Friday, staff from More Than Words (MTW) worked with members of the Friends of Wellfleet Library (FWL) to load donated books for sale in one of two Boston-area stores and online. The books filled a medium-sized truck and weighed 2.75 tons.
That’s a lot of books! Even so, the MTW truck will need to return for more books in a couple of weeks. Once, they managed to carry twice as much, but that pushes the safety limits on a medium-sized truck.
On this day, a couple of MTW workers joined with Friends volunteers loading books by passing them in a chain from one hand to another.
I thought the names would be easy for me since I was positioned with two Stephen’s before me and one after, but I found that it caused confusion when I’d call out, “careful, Stephen, that box is breaking!”
Book donations to the Library
These books and others were donated by people who care about the Wellfleet Library. Occasionally a book may fit Library collection needs, but generally the idea is that they will be sold during the two summer book sales or from a sale rack in the Library. Some of the children’s books are given to new parents or to families involved in a summer reading program.
The sales have been extremely successful, raising thousands of dollars for Library needs. Receipts from the sales supplement the Library budget, making possible museum passes, children’s programs, online tools such as Freegal and Zinnio, special equipment purchase, computer user support, special books and periodicals, and audio visual materials for documenting the life and times of the community.
But there are always some books that don’t sell. In the past, many of these met their end in the recycle bin. But for the last three years, MTW and FWL have partnered to give the books an extended life, one that amplifies the reach and benefits of the Library.
More Than Words
The partnership helps More Than Words (MTW), a significant, nonprofit social enterprise in the Boston area. MTW “empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business.” Youth in the program have managed an online bookselling operation since 2004. They are challenged with authentic and increasing responsibilities in a business setting, along with high expectations and a culture of support.
MTW opened a lively bookstore on Moody St in Waltham in 2005 and added a coffee bar in 2008. The model was replicated in the South End of Boston in 2011, doubling the impact of the program. Even so, the Wellfleet donation is about all that MTW can handle from Cape Cod.
Serving multiple needs
I’ve always felt that the summer books sales serve multiple worthy goals: raising money for Library collections and programs, making low-cost books available to those who need them, bringing community together through a shared project, informing people about the Library, and preserving a literate tradition. Even a book that doesn’t sell helps with some of those purposes. But I was sad to think that even one book might end up as recycled paper.
Through More Than Words, many books continue their good work. They become available to a larger audience, both in the metropolis of Boston and through the worldwide online market. More importantly, the book sales offer young people an opportunity to learn business skills, to further their education, and to develop as individuals. Now, although I still hope that FWL racks up good numbers in the summer sales, I’m glad to see that many of the books continue to serve additional purposes.
Dink Starns and the Explorer Post Book List
Dink Starns was one of my Explorer Post leaders, including during the time of the 1963 Quetico trip. He was a big influence on my life and I was sad to hear that he has just passed away.
Dink worked for a publishing company and led the way on our 52 books project. We would identify 52 books for the coming year, which were important to read, would be of interest to adolescent boys, and were all available in paperback. Dink would bring in a copy of each for a display. We then had a program in which people talked about the books they knew. It was an unusual activity for an Explorer Post, and a novel way to increase interest in reading.
Here is one of the lists, probably from 1963, formatted as we saw it then. Each year would be different, although some books would have multiple appearances.The choices ranged from classics that we should have read, but hadn’t, to books that seemed risqué at the time, such as Fanny Hill or the Communist Manifesto.
Skimming the list below, your eyes might pass over Mutiny on Bounty. But that was significant. The remake of the Mutiny on the Bounty film had been released in 1962. It was based on the popular novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. Those of us who had read that book or seen the movie knew all about the evil Captain William Bligh. The selection below is Bligh’s own account, which tells a quite different story, and caused us to ask those fundamental questions: What is the truth? How can we know?. Reading Bligh was a much better introduction to critical reading than some didactic programs that lead students down a prescribed path in an ironically uncritical fashion.
This particular list has selections from the Bible (Ecclesiastes), from ancient Greeks (Plutarch, Plato), and modern classics (Hugo, Kipling, Shaw). There are books by atheists and devout believers. There was a fairly good representation of international perspectives, given that all the books had to be in English. Some books might not rank high on quality or message, but they could get boys to read. Some were school classics, but many were read in school only when they could be safely hidden behind a large history or math book.
Books that seem non-controversial today brought a frisson at the time and place. The Ugly American, written just a few years earlier, called into question the patriotism that led to the Vietnam War and a boom to the Fort Worth economy dependent on an air force base and airplane and helicopter manufacture. To Kill a Mockingbird was not just a good story; it was a challenge to the prevailing racism in a city that thought if itself as the beginning of the West, but was still part of the segregationist South.
The overriding theme was that reading was fun, something to do and share with others, and something that would help you think in new ways. Those ideas were not widely accepted then, especially among boys of that age. Dink helped change that for me and many others.
- Auntie Mame
- Beau Geste
- Bligh, W. Mutiny on Bounty
- Brestit, History of Egypt
- Bridge over the River Kwai
- Buck, P. Good Earth
- Cervantes Don Quixote
- Chesterton, G. K. Father Brown
- Cuppy, W. The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody
- Ferber, E. Giant, Cimmarron
- Fisher, Gandhi
- Fitzgerald, F. S. Great Gatsby
- Fleming, I. James Bond
- Generation of Vipers
- Genghis Khan
- Golding, W. Lord of Flies
- Great Expectations
- Green Mansions
- Hilton, J. Good-by Mr. Chips
- Hilton, J. Lost Horizon
- Hugo, V. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- In Midst of Life
- Irving, W. Sketch Book
- Keys of Kingdom
- Kipling, R. Kim, Jungle Books
- Last Hurrah
- Lee, H. To Kill a Mockingbird
- Lewis, C. S. The Screwtape Letter
- Magnificent Destiny
- Max Schulman
- Melville, H. Moby Dick
- Morehead, A. Blue Nile, White Nile
- Nutting , A. Lawrence of Arabia
- Orwell, G. Animal Farm
- Orwell, G. 1984
- Packard, V. (any)
- Plato Dialogues
- Plutarch Lives
- Rand, A. The Fountainhead
- Roark, R. Something of Value
- Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye
- Seven Days in May
- Shaw, G. B. Androcles and the Lion
- Six Days or Forever
- Solomon Ecclesiastes
- Stillwell Papers
- Stone, I. Sailor on Horseback
- Teahouse of August Moon
- The Little World of Don Camillo
- Twain, M. Huckleberry Finn
- Ugly American
- Voltaire, Candide
Youth community inquiry: New media for community and personal growth
Youth Community Inquiry offers a detailed look at how young people use new media to help their communities thrive. Chapters address questions about learning, digital technology, and community engagement through the theory of community inquiry. The settings range from a small farming town, to a mostly immigrant community, to inner-city Chicago, and include youth from ages eight to 20.
Journal series on progressive education
The International Journal of Progressive Education (IJPE) has now published a series of three special issues on “Progressive Education: Past, Present and Future”:
- Progressive Education: Antecedents of Educating for Democracy (IJPE 9.1, February 2013)
- Progressive Education: Educating for Democracy and the Process of Authority (IJPE 9.2, June 2013)
- What’s Next?: The Future of Progressivism as an “Infinite Succession of Presents” (IJPE 9.3, October 2013)
I worked on these journal issues with John Pecore, Brian Drayton, and Maureen Hogan, as well as article contributors from around the world. We’re now exploring options for developing some of the articles along with some additional material into a handbook. The series is timely given current debates about the purpose and form of education in an era of rapid technological change, globalization, demographic and political shifts, and growing economic inequities. It asks, “What have we learned about pedagogy that can support democratic, humanistic, and morally responsible development for individuals and societies?”
Progressive education is a pedagogical movement that emphasizes aspects such as learning by doing, student-centered learning, valuing diversity, integrated curriculum, problem solving, critical thinking, collaborative learning, education for social responsibility, and lifelong learning. It situates learning within social, community, and political contexts. It was promoted by the Progressive Education Association in the US from 1919 to 1955, and reflected in the educational philosophy of John Dewey.
But as an approach to pedagogy, progressive education is in no way limited to the US or the past century. In France, the Ecole Moderne, developed from the work of Célestin Freinet, emphasizes the social activism side of progressive education. Loris Malaguzzi and the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education demonstrates the importance of art in learning, a key element of the holistic approach in progressive education. Paulo Freire’s work in Brazil on critical literacy, highlights the link between politics and pedagogy. Similarly, influenced by his experiences in South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi’s conception of basic education resonates with progressive ideals of learning generated within everyday life, cooperation, and educating the whole person, including moral development.
It is worth noting that progressive education invariably seeks to go beyond the classroom walls. Thus, the work of Jane Addams and others at Hull House with immigrants fits, even if it is not situated within a traditional school. Myles Horton and the Highlander Folk School focused on social activism with adults, exemplifying the progressive education ideals. So too is the Escuela Nueva in Spain, Colombia, and elsewhere. The informal learning in museums, libraries, community and economic development, and online may express progressive education more fully than what we see in many schools today.
We hope that these issues will prove to be a useful resource for anyone interested improving education for a healthier world.
A rebus baby announcement
In these times, we hear about family events through cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, and for a few old-timers, email. I got to meet a new grand-nephew that way just last week.
But that wasn’t always so. I came across an older technology while we were cleaning up our attic. It’s a rebus announcing Sunny Baby Jim, with at least 230 cut-outs from newspapers and magazines pasted onto a continuous roll of brown wrapping paper. It not only announces the baby, but also provides a glimpse into life in the US in 1905.
The paper for the rebus has become brittle and is starting to crumble. Some of the cut-outs are faded.I decided I should photograph it and decode it before it disintegrates completely.
It’s probably from my Great-Great-Aunt Fanny in Spokane, writing to my Grandmother, Dorothy in 1905. See whether you can decode it. The images aren’t very clear in the small versions, but should be more readable if you click each one to enlarge it.
There’s a scrap cityscape of Spokane, which probably came first. So, I think the first part says,
Dear Little Dorothy,
I send you a puzzle to make you laugh.
It is raining cats, dogs, and babies.
The babies shown include the Gold Dust Twins, mascots for Gold Dust Washing Powder. Those racial caricatures were wisely phased out, but not for another 50 years.
Aunt Fanny goes on to ask:
Would you like to hear about the new baby in this house? He weighs nine pounds and sleeps all night, that’s the way babies grow. When he smiles we call him Sunny Jim Baby.
Then, there’s a comment about babies in general, and some local news:
Before babies sleep and after babies sleep, they eat, all the time.
I have a new pair of shoes and they hurt my feet and corns.
We got awakened one night. A shot was heard around the house. We called two policemen and he ran away.
How is Grandmother? I am getting so fat.
Spokane is soon to have a circus. [There’s then a six-frame comic strip set in a circus ring.]
While looking up information on that circus, I learned that a steel bridge with power wires for streetcars and overhead lighting was constructed over the Spokane River Gorge after the wooden bridge burned in 1890. The new bridge vibrated badly, and in 1905 the National Good Roads Association declared it unsafe. The Ringling Brothers Circus elephants refused to cross it. It was replaced in 1911.
The closing of the rebus reports some national news:
It is time for a bath and bed.
Love to the whole damn family.
PS: Teddy Roosevelt is in Colorado. [He went bear hunting there in 1905.]
Your Aunt [Fanny]
I don’t know how long we can keep the original of the rebus, thus this post to preserve it in a limited way. But it’s held up surprisingly well after 106 years, especially since it had not been cared for, just tossed into boxes in attics or garages. Will we be able to read this blog post as well in the year 2117?
Thanks, Aunt Fanny for your fascinating artwork. I suspect that few aunts (or uncles) today could or would invest the time to make such a detailed token of love for their niece.
Turkey’s Village Institutes
One of the goals I had for my recent trip to Turkey was to learn more about the Village Institutes (Köy Enstitüleri) there. I knew that they represented an innovative approach to expanding opportunities for learning, but that they had come to an abrupt end in the late 1940’s.
I’d read several articles about the Institutes (see below), and also knew that they had been influenced by John Dewey’s report on the Turkish educational system, but I wanted to hear firsthand from Turkish people who had been involved with the Institutes, or had studied them from a Turkish perspective.
The Village Institutes were created to meet a serious educational need. In 1928 (the year of the introduction of the Latin script in Turkey), 82.5 per cent of men and 95.2 per cent of women were illiterate. For 13.6 million people, there were only 4,894 elementary schools and most of those were in the towns, not the villages where most of the people lived (Vexliard & Aytac, 1964).
Between 1939 and 1946 twenty-one co-educational boarding schools were built to prepare primary school teachers. Much of the construction work was done by pupils and teachers. Youth of both sexes, aged twelve to sixteen, who had completed a five-year village primary school, qualified for admission. Their education was free following a pledge to teach in an assigned village for twenty years after graduation.
The duties of the new teachers included:
- primary education
- adult education in the villages
- raising the cultural level of the villages through the distribution of books, educational programs, radio, and vocal, dance, & instrumental music education; the photo above (by George Pickow/Three Lions/Getty Images), shows Turkish teenagers in an Institute presenting a mass concert on the saz, the Turkish national instrument
- promoting progressive agricultural techniques in the fields, the orchards, and kitchen gardens; the raising of livestock; rural handicrafts such as ironwork, carpentry, leather work, mechanics, and electricity
- instruction for adults in child-rearing, housekeeping, needlework
- the creation and development of rural cooperatives
The graduates of the Institutes were to return to their villages as leaders and reformers. Teachers, students, and villagers in general were to learn practical skills, mostly related to their agricultural economy, new tools for life, and general education.
The Institute approach embodied ideas of Ataturk, Dewey, and others such as integrating theory and practice, focusing on the underserved, working across institutions, and a systemic approach to building a stronger society. Classical education was to be combined with practical abilities and applied to local needs.
The Institutes had a major impact, and many people regret that they were shut down. But there was resistance against this secular and mixed education. Some feared that it would educate ‘the communists of tomorrow,’ a damning statement during the Cold War. Traditionalists questioned the coeducational and secular aspects. Powerful landlords did not appreciate the goal of educating children who could ask “Why?” questions. There were also questions about the organization and preparation of the teachers. By 1953 the Village Institutes had been completely shut down.
I heard strong statements from people who knew about the Institutes and decried their closing. An artist we met, who had been born during the Institute period, said “They killed the Turkish children! They murdered Turkey’s future!”
Others were more reserved, but still felt that a crucial opportunity had been lost. There are estimates of major losses for Turkey in terms of general literacy and economic development still being felt today because of the closings.
From the little I know, it appears that the Village Institutes demonstrated a successful model for education that could be applied anywhere after suitable adjustment for local needs. I’d like to learn more, and have many questions.
For example, all the photos I’ve seen show only (or mostly) young men, even though the Institutes were coeducational. How did the young men and women get along? How did they each experience the Institutes? The graduates would now be in their 80’s. How do they think about that experience today? What did their training mean for the villages where they went to teach?
How do the Village Institutes compare to other grassroots, community-based education initiatives, such as the school at Weedpatch Camp in California, Foxfire, the Misiones Pedagogicas (village literacy program in Spain, which was shut down by Franco), Paulo Freirean projects in many countries, Paseo Boricua, the Reggio Emilia Approach, or the school set up by the schoolboys of Barbiana?
Perhaps most importantly, could or should the Institutes be revived? Or, are there principles we can derive from them that would be valuable for the more urban populations of today?
Ata, Bahri (2000). The influence of an American educator (John Dewey) on the Turkish educational system. Turkish Yearbook of International Relations (Milletlerarası Münasebetler Türk Yıllığı), 31. Ankara: Ankara Üniversitesi.
Bilgi, Sabiha, & Özsoy, Seckin (2005). John Dewey’s travelings into the project of Turkish modernity. In Thomas S. Popkewitz (ed.), Inventing the modern self and John Dewey: Modernities and the traveling of pragmatism in education (pp. 153-177). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Dewey, John (1983). Report and recommendations upon Turkish education. In Jo Ann Boydston (ed.), The Middle Works: Essays on Politics and Society, 1923-1924. Vol. 15 of Collected Works. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press.
Eğrikavuk, Işil (2010, April 9). Anniversary marks unfinished story of Turkish village schools. Hürriyet Daily News.
Stirling, Paul (1965, 1994). Turkish village. Canterbury, UK: Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing, University of Kent at Canterbury.
Stone, Frank A. (1974). Rural revitalization and the Village Institutes in Turkey: Sponsors and critics. Comparative Education Review, 18(3), 419–429.
Uygun, Selçuk (2008, November). The impact of John Dewey on the teacher education system in Turkey. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 36(4), 291–307.
Vexliard, Alexandre, & Aytac, Kemal (1964). The Village Institutes in Turkey. Comparative Education Review. 8(1), 41-47.
Wolf-Gazo, Ernest (1996). John Dewey in Turkey: An educational mission. Journal of American Studies of Turkey, 3, 15-42.
Yılmaz, Omer (1977). Schools for developing countries: The Turkish Village Institutes. Educational Planning, 3(4), 72–80.
Life (and stories) in an Alaskan Eskimo village
In the early 1980’s, the Quill in Alaska project was a great adventure in learning about stories, writing, computers, classrooms, Alaska village life, bush travel, and much more. Although the temperatures were often -20˚F or below, stories from that time are burned deep in my brain. I learned that stories relate our lives, but that they also shape our lives, and create endless stories to follow.
One involved a kind of networking that shows the value of being there, even in our time of electronic communications. As I recall, on a cold, snowy day in March, I had boarded a De Havilland Beaver, similar to the one shown above, to fly from Chevak to Bethel, at the head of Kuskokwim Bay. I may have been the only passenger for that short nonstop flight.
Shortly after takeoff, the pilot announced that we’d be making an unscheduled stop to pick up passengers in Scammon Bay, a village on a point jutting out into the Bering Sea. The propellers had scarcely stopped spinning when a young couple boarded. We started talking. I shared some stories about my travels to small villages around Alaska and they told me why they were flying to Bethel. They had just married, and were on their honeymoon to the big city (pop. 3000).
I asked them whether they knew of Aylette Jenness. She’s a writer of children’s books, photographer, and anthropologist, and more, a good personal friend. In the 1960’s Aylette had lived in Alaska in their very village for a year and a half. Based on her experiences there, she wrote a wonderful book, Dwellers of the Tundra: Life in an Alaskan Eskimo Village, with beautiful photos by Jonathan Jenness.
They were too young to have met Aylette, but they knew of her, and they cherished the book she wrote about their village. The young man asked me whether I remembered a photo of a woman in the book holding a young child. I said yes, it was one of my favorites in the book. He then stunned me by saying: “That woman is my mother, and that baby is me.”
We talked the rest of the flight. When I returned to Cambridge, the first thing I had to do was to tell Aylette that story, about how the characters in her book had a continuing life and were now old enough to get married and fly to Bethel. She was fascinated and immediately said: “I have to go back!”
She soon returned to their village, one generation, and more than 20 years later. Being the writer and photographer she is, wrote a second book: In Two Worlds: A Yu’pik Eskimo Family (1989).
This time, the book was co-authored, with Alice Rivers, a Scammon Bay resident, shown on the left here with Aylette on the right. The change in authorship reflects both changes in the way we write about others and Aylette’s own deepening connection with the people there.
The title reflects changes, too. It uses the name Scammon Bay residents themselves use, Yu’pik, not just a broad category, like Eskimo, and everyone is more conscious of living in multiple worlds. The people and Scammon Bay are now identified by name. The books make vivid for me my time in Alaska, even though my stay in Scammon Bay itself was probably just 15 minutes.
And the photos are now by Aylette. They’re sharper than in the first book, less dreamy and more reflective of the many facets of life in modern, yet still traditional, Alaskan villages—the two worlds.
It’s now been another generation, and time for more stories and another Scammon Bay book. In the Introduction to In Two Worlds, Alice and Aylette ask: “maybe one of Alice’s daughters will write that one. Mattie? Sarah? How about it?”
I don’t think the books are still in print, but you can easily find good quality used copies online.
Patrick W. Berry’s course website Writing Technologies is designed to “explore historical and theoretical accounts of how writing technologies have shaped and continue to shape what and how we compose” and to write “using a variety of new and sometimes old technologies in order to explore the affordances and limitations of each.” It’s wonderful to see how the medium of the course illustrates the very principles it’s teaching.
In addition to excellent standard course resources, there’s a blog, with many interesting posts. One, of special interest to me, is “The Disappearance of Technology”: The Movie. Patrick writes:
After reading Chip Bruce and Maureen Hogan’s “The Disappearance of Technology: Toward an Ecological Model of Literacy,” our class created movie posters using Photoshop that attempted to capture a central theme of the reading.
The result of this effort is available here: http://gallery.me.com/pb112233/100088.
The idea to do the posters and the subsequent realizations are excellent (be sure to try the slideshow option). I was impressed by the variety of responses and the creative use of photos, colors, graphics, fonts, and other visual elements. The posters show how re-mediating an idea can both bring out the meaning and add new meaning as well, with different posters bringing out different aspects of our relations with new technologies.