interactive book club reading response: week 5

it’s the last week of the interactive book club! i’m super excited and also super sad.

i’m excited because (and this going to sound silly because this was sort of the whole but…) i/we just finished a whole book! not only do i love reading books but i also had a goal for reading 24 books this year and this brings me up to 18 so far (ht to ross for inspiring me to get at least on the reading slow train)!

i’m sad because… that means today is the last group meeting. i have really appreciated the levity and light commitment of this structure and i’m still going to miss it. some good connections have been made, though, and i’m definitely going to experiment with this structure sometime soon (maybe with my dear friend nene at georgia tech using jessica gordon nembhard’s book, collective courage)… anyway, on to three (of many) things that stuck out to me.

starting from the end…

The emergence of motion pictures as a new art form went hand in hand with the emergence of a new subculture, a new set of professions made up of people whose skills, sensitivities, and philosophies of life were unlike anything that had existed before. The story of the evolution of the world of movies is inseparable from the story of the evolution of the communities of people. Similarly, a new world of personal computing is about to come into being, and its history will be inseparable from the story of the people who will make it. – ch. 8, p. 189

it’s unreal just how clearly papert could see this coming. or maybe it’s not. either way, i love this one sentence: The story of the evolution of the world of movies is inseparable from the story of the evolution of the communities of people. this feels like how we need to be thinking about all significant cultural shifts. which leads me to the second point…

the samba school was not designed by researchers, funded by grants, nor implemented by government action. It was not made. It happened. This must be true too of any new successful forms of associations for learning that might emerge out of the mathetic computer culture. Powerful new social forms must have their roots in the culture, not be the creatures of bureaucrats. – ch. 8, p.181

there’s a little more needed to fully understand the context (basically to explain how the heck we got to be talking about samba schools), but the last few sentences are the most important: new powerful social forms must have their roots in culture. this means knowing the culture. and, unfortunately, in some many spaces and places, i see changes (even some i have wrought) that attempt shifts without being culturally relevant. i’m beginning to think that those things, while helpful in the short-term, may never achieve their actual desire goals.

this point about culture also makes it clearer to than ever why the industrial model of education is obsolete.

ok, last one:

Consider another example of how our images of knowledge can subvert our sense of ourselves as intellectual agents. Educators sometimes hold up an ideal of knowledge as having the kind of coherence defined by formal logic. But these ideals bear little resemblance to the way in which most people experience themselves. The subjective experience of knowledge is more similar to the chaos and controversy of competing agents than to the certitude and orderliness of p’s implying q’s. The discrepancy between our experience of ourselves and our idealizations of knowledge has an effect” It intimidates us, it lessens the sense of our own competence, and it leads us into counterproductive strategies for learning and thinking. – ch. 7, p. 172

this one really hit home for me. people, especially young people, are natural learners. i actually remember learning the ‘p -> q’ and ‘p -> ~q’ logic stuff at some point in school. i felt like i understood it fairly well, but i remember so many people being wicked confused by it. and i think that papert is dead accurate here. people’s experience of knowledge (and learning) is so much more robust, exciting, and generative than the formal way knowledge is codified by scientists and experts.

and as he goes on to say, this actually alienates people from their own learning and thinking. the number of times i hear people say things, even in academia, like “well, i don’t have a phd so i shouldn’t speak to [person] person or talk about [topic] ,” is crushing. ugh.

ok, changed my mind: one more. wanted to end on a more hopeful note.

In earlier chapters it was suggested that how we think about knowledge affects how we think about ourselves. In particular, our image of knowledge as divided up into different kinds leads us to a view of people as divided up according to what their aptitudes are. This in turn leads to a balkanization of our culture. – ch. 7, p. 171

ha, so this excerpt isn’t actually positive, but i feel it opens something up. it opens up the opportunity (by way of delivering pedagogical value) to integrated learning. when we can see the impact of divided learning, it makes it quite clear that at least one of the values of integrated learning pathways it that it could lead to a less subdivided understanding of ourselves as people and societies.

and these days, pretty much anything that has the potential for less division seems like a good thing to do.

wow! there’s so much more but i should stop for now. so glad to have been a part of this! big shoutouts to sharon, aatish, princeton cst, and p5js for making this happen.

and now, onwards to building the next microworld(s)…

words / writing / post-processing
515w / 19min / 22min