"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

a postmodern schooling-related rant (kinda)

i had to write a "blog" post for my grad class and this is what i spat:

These authors seem to be in conversation regarding the interconnectedness of the school and society, and the unique role the school plays as a social institution. Provenzo opens up his chapter discussing the interconnection from a postmodern view. He goes on to explain that a postmodern perspective is one that takes culture and history as a context for changes and phenomena that may occur or be observed. I found his discussion of technology particularly interesting. In page 9 of his introduction, he discusses the importance of seeking new perspectives as our culture and society are redefined. That is, coming to consider those things we once took for granted to the point of being invisible, questioning our most basic assumptions of how things are and whether they need to be this way, and what makes them that way to begin with. His discussion of technology, its advantages and conveniences in our modern age, but also its downfalls, rang particularly strong with me. Take technology as an example of how education has sought to adapt to the changing times, but with, what I believe, are drastic results. In this day and age, students are constantly plugged into something: they surf the web to talk to friends, everyone has a phone that text messages as well as sends photos, they know how to use video technology and post videos to YouTube. Instead of talking to people face to face, or going outside to play games with other children, modern age school children are retreating online to talk to others through virtual mediums, and to play Capture the Flag on shoot-them-up video game simulations. Their hyper-reality translates into a constant need for stimulation and entertainment. Teaching practices have come to mirror this change in our children's interactive patterns: best practices now incorporate multiple learning modes, activities, connections to children's knowledge and experiences (frequently manifested as connections to their virtual realities - online games, movies, etc.). Even the drastically increased use of technology in teaching itself, the move away from low-tech transparencies and overheads to digital projectors, document cameras, Smart Boards reflects the change in the times but also the change in needs of our student populations. As a student in public schools, I never once saw more than a chalkboard or overhead used during instruction, never once played a game to "trick" me into liking math, and never had to have teachers explain mathematic conversions using elaborate metaphors involving superheroes to get me to understand or find interest in the subject. I was learning because I enjoyed the raw subject matter itself, and not the fancy instructional tricks my teacher could pull in a one hour class. But, modern day instruction requires hooks, and activities, and even "collaborative conversation" moments to be effective. When did we have to start teaching children to talk to one another and get along? This begs me to wonder, what elements of society does the school seek to accommodate and incorporate, and which elements does it perpetuate? Is our modern society losing its ability to talk to itself because of technology's fierce advancement and seduction of our youth, or is it because our schools are finding themselves also susceptible to the media and mandates of technology because of society itself? I believe Provenzo echoes my same concern when he writes, "simply stated, problems, conditions, and issues in the larger society tend to be reproduced in the schools" (10). The struggle we face as educators, parents, and citizens, is understanding the interconnection between education and society, and how they reflect and influence one another, for good or bad.

geez, my writing has deteriorated remarkably since becoming a grad student + teacher. sleep deprivation, i see you in my future.


1 comment:

remaerdyaD said...

Some of this is the sins of the prior generation visiting the present one. From a perspective of the arts, it is important to realize that media criticism has served as a distraction: that television is an advertising medium rather that artistic medium has been the edict of the establishment (re: that criticism however independent of Big Media (which has stolen the term, "Media") came from, albeit, an indepedent source is not sanguin to the truth simply because of its unique quality and original claims.).

The truth here is that although television may be inundanted with design and advertisement the fact of its artistic merit is not so contrivial.

Turning to computers and the internet, it appears that we are led to believe something that our minds automaticaly discount. For instance, that computers might replace use of paper. To accomplish this fantasy at the dawn of the Web, computers were designed specificaly to immitate paper.

More striking examples can only be forthcoming as the interent and, by extension of further design, computerized technologies, are design and advertising mediums (I use the term medium loosely here) that are consistantly posed as artistic in nature - the horrible(sic) effect of mp3 file trading on the saintly music and movie industry; how terrible it is that copyrighted moving pictures are violated on YouTube (we can overlook the fact that this occurs thousands of times a day as part of long range plans of network domination - which would otherwise be a highly enforceable breach of law in any other circumstance or on any other website).

One growing up amidst the Web and its falsity is going to reflect this culture of sythetic reality. Even there, we have the "virtual" - which carries the familiar hue of being a synthetic term (ie somewhat oxymoronic) while, as in the new smoke and mirrors, cloud computing, is a very real term for nearly all private enterprise enterprise and corporation. That is a signature of design intollerable to art - to distract.

In our critical analysis of television we have lost sight that it is a medium taken over by franchise and not a medium usurped as medium. Television was never so "lost" to advertising - only its viewers and citizenry were.

As computer users and, especialy, internet and web citizens, our response must be precise now. As it is not any "Medium" (so declared with the Iraq war in 2003) of art but Mass. The key is realizing that were we can readily find comfort in our soul with art the only place for a strictly mass medium is anywhere but in our hearts.

Any devil could only wait.

Happy 40th Birthday Internet

War, hate, and death,