Archive for the ‘Notes’ Category

CCK08: Reflection Week 8: Part 3

November 3, 2008

Qallunology and the Hidden Costs of Technology

Note: footnotes originally included in the following excerpts have been removed for ease of formatting and readability.

Derek Rasmussen, a former Policy Advisor to Nunavit Tunngavik, wrote the article “Qallunology: A Pedagogy for the Oppressor” in the 2002 edition of Philosophy of Education. Since its initial publication, I have not been able to find a copy of the article available online. In the essay introduction, Rasmussen states,

Inuit observations are cited in this analysis to help shed light on Euro-Americans, those whom the Inuit call “Qallunaat.” This term “Qallunology” was coined by Zebedee Nungak to denote what we might colloquially call “the study of white folks.” Given that the property-based individualistic civilization that characterizes the Qallunaat emerged in nineteenth-century Europe, the words “white,” “Western,” or “European” denote its closest parentage and its place of birth, not the skin color of its current adherents or its current geographical limits. In his book, The White Arctic, sociologist Robert Paine said that his one “message” to whites was to drop the illusion that they were “in the Arctic to teach the Inuit,” and instead focus on “learning about white behavior.” Qallunology says that if Euro-Americans really want to study something they should study themselves; if Qallunaat really want to rescue indigenous peoples they should stop pushing them overboard to start with; and if Qallunaat educators really want to study something helpful to Inuit, they should study why Education was invented, and how it is a result of the ideology of scarcity (1).

Though many are now familiar with the roots of North American education being derivative of Prussian military training (in fact, this is finally being included in introductory history of education courses in universities), we are perhaps less familiar with Aboriginal perspective on education that existed and persisted over thousands of years prior to European colonization of the Americaas. (more…)

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CCK08: Reflection for Week 8 Part 2

November 3, 2008

Unlearning Pedagogy

In  an earlier post, I made reference to George Siemens’ model of a Connectivist learning design as being based on “learning ecologies” as opposed to using a more traditionally regimented scope and sequence for course delivery. I stated,

Siemens contends that designing for Connectivism concerns creating a design for the space and ecology of learning. What is new about this idea?

Stephen responded in turn by asking about my background readings in this area, to which I replied that I do not have a strong familiarity with literature in the area of learning design. Yesterday, I realized that the greatest body of educational literature (paradoxical as this may sound) with which I am familiar concerns teaching and learningoutside of the framework of compulsory schooling, teaching and learning. When I worked as a Learning Consultant for the SelfDesign Learning Community, the work that I did with individual families essentially constitutedsupporting unschooling or deschooling by being a liaison between families and providing assessment of learners that was aligned to the K-10 curricula of the Ministry of Education. Recall, if you have read my previous post on this subject, that the SDLC is affiliated with the Wondertree Foundation for Natural Learning. (more…)

CCK08: Reflection for Week 8 Part 1

November 3, 2008

Power and Illusion

In the Oct 31 Daily, Stephen Downes commented:

From my perspective, the power I (Stephen) wielded this week in forcing a ‘subscribe’ to the Moodle forums was actually an illusion of power. One student got it: “If Stephen hadn’t turned off the function as quickly as he did, I wonder if we would have taken power into our own hands, by simply not posting to the Moodle forums?” The power to do something else, to communicate using alternate means, to simply not use the Moodle forums, was always in the hands of the students – if they cooperated with each other.

I had been thinking exactly the same thing, but did not repond to Downes’ prompts to reply regarding the auto-subscription function in Moodle for precisely the reason suggested: because as an individual, not using the Moodle forum was how I chose to “communicate using alternate means.”

 In The Politics of Nonviolent Action: Volume 1: Power and Struggle (Extending Horizon Books, 1973) by Gene Sharp, the author remarks:

  •  Obedience is essentially voluntary (26).
  • It is not sanctions themselves which produce obedience, but the fear of them (28). (more…)

CCK08: Reflection on Week 6: Part 2

October 27, 2008

1. Notes on “Complexity and Information Overload in Society: why increasing efficiency leads to decreasing control” by Francis Heylighen

The basic premiss of Heylighen’s paper concerns identifying the impact of ephemeralization on global systems.

Ephemeralization, the ongoing increase in efficiency or productivity of all processesinvolving matter, energy and information, is the most basic manifestation oftechnological and organizational advance (17).

Both of Heylighen’s papers are predisposed to an optimistic view of the future. It would appear that the author is a strong proponent of globalization, without, however, rigorously defending its criticisms.

People find it ever moredifficult to cope with all the new information they receive, constant changes in theorganizations and technologies they use, and increasingly complex and unpredictableside-effects of their actions. This leads to growing stress and anxiety, fuels variousgloom and doom scenarios about the future of our planet, and may help explain theincreasingly radical movements against globalization [my italics] (1).

Perhaps in theory, the reduction of international tariffs in the interests of encouraging trade makes sense; however, the legalities of these agreements are often ratified at the expense of the natural world, local sustainable economies, and indigenous cultures, none of which Heylighen has acknowledged.

…Both the area of land and amount of human effort needed to produce agiven amount of food has been reduced to a mere fraction of what it was. As a result, theprice of food in real terms has declined with 75% over the last half century (WorldResources Institute, 1998). In the same period, the fuel consumption of cars hasdecreased just as spectacularly, while their speed, power and comfort have increased (3).

Ironically, Heylighen cites both advances in agriculture (leading to a decrease in food prices) and fuel consumption in the same breath. We know now that fuel consumption has increased in North America with an increase in the purchase of SUVs, and that the implementation of government policies that support increased production of biofuel has led to a decrease in the growth of grain products for food worldwide, especially rice. This had led to an increase in the price of those food staples, which in some countries, such as Haiti, has led to riots among the populace, which was suffering from high rates of poverty even prior to the spike in the price of grain. (more…)

CCK08: Reflection for Week 5: Part 4

October 13, 2008

The Virtual Self: Further notes from Franciso Varela’s Ethical Know-How: Action, Wisdom and Cognition

In George Siemens’ Articulate presentation “Groups and Networks,” multiple references to “the self” are made without any formal definition of the term to which Siemens is referring. Below are excerpts from the presentation with transcriptions of some of the commentary accompanying each slide included in italics.

Basis of collective intelligence is “the self” (slide 7)

As we begin to integrate our ideas and concepts with others and we extend themselves into some sort of a group activity, there is an important protection of self that needs to occur where we retain our identity or where we retain our contributions.

The self is not created through socialization. (slide 12)

It is shaped and expressed through socialization (slide 13)

The self is not something that is created through socialization. Instead, it is something that is shaped and expressed through the act of socialization, through the act of negotiation, through dialoguing with, and sharing in conversations with other people.

Connectives: autonomy of self (mosaic) (slide 14)

Individuals then, in some type of a connective relationship to each other retain a high autonomy of self. Rather than blending, they exist in a mosaic. Namely, they retain their identity, even though they contribute to the larger whole.

Collectives: subsumption of self (melting pot) (slide 15)

In contrast, a collective is a subsumption of self. An example that is often used is the notion of a melting pot, where our individuality is absorbed as we contribute or become part of the larger whole.

 The previously listed tenets adhere to a notion of selfhood in which\ the autonomy of the self is highly valued. Selfhood may also be understood, however, in terms of assuming a position of groundlessness, or homelessness, out of which spontaneous action arises in terms of one’s moment to moment co-creation of the world. From within this constantly changing frame of reference, uncertainty guides action and response, and one’s decisions are made in relation to the specific contexts in which one finds oneself. (more…)

CCK08: Reflection for Week 5: Part 2

October 13, 2008

Notes on Taking down the walls: communities and educational research in Canada’s 21st Century by Celia Haig-Brown, Ph.D

Yesterday I stumbled upon a working paper called “Taking down the walls: Communities and educational research in Canada’s 21st Century” by Celia Haig-Brown (2000). In it, Haig-Brown cites the work of Eleanor Godway and Geraldine Finn in which the authors

…claim that community is catechresis, calling on Gayatri Spivak’s definition whereby “catechresis means that there is no literal referent for a particular word; that its definition comes apart, as it were, as soon as we begin to articulate it” (2).

Wittgenstein revisited, perhaps. Haig-Brown continues:

…In looking historically at the effects of community building, Godway and Finn question the possibility of event trying to construct such a place:

It is up to us to make community: to find it, build it, or encourage it to grow in our fragmented world. But can we? Or should we even try, when in spite of good intentions, the effects of community are often more divisive, more exclusive, and more oppressive, than the absence of community it originally intended to remedy or remove? (1994:1) (more…)

Okay, I think we’ve got the confusion part…

September 23, 2008

Notes and Reflections on Selected Self-Organization and the Semiotics of Evolutionary Systems

by Luis Mateus Rocha

“You have to be confused before you can reach a new level of understanding anything” – Dudley Herschbach – Nobel Prize winner (Chemisty).

This quotation can be found at the end of George Siemens’ article, Connectivism: Learning as Network Creation. I came across it last week, right about the time that Siemens also mentioned, I think in the first UStream weekly discussion for the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course, that he would be concerned if participants in the course were not experiencing confusion. (more…)