The purpose of this blog is to discuss educational possibilities in the postmodern culture.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dr. Maulana Karenga

The Department of African-American Studies
Georgia State University
"Nguzo Saba: The Principles and Practice of Bringing Good into the World"
by, Dr. Maulana Karenga
Professor, Department of Balck Studies, California State University, Long Beach.
Creator of Kwanzaa and teh Nguzo Saba.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006, 6:30 pm
Georgia State University Student Cetner, Senate Salon
44 Courtland Street
Atlanta, Georgia

Office of Educational Opportunity and Trio Programs
Sankofa Society
Black Student Alliance (BSA)
Intercultural Relations
The Crim Center
Witkaze: Black Student Association of Agnes Scott College

For more information contact:
Department of African-American Studies
Georgia State University
1 Park Place South, #962

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act

There is so much that needs to be said about NCLB. In the context of this blog, NCLB represents the zenith, I hope, of modern education. The biggest problem with NCLB is that it reifies objective knowledge and legislates and empowers a bureaucratic system to implement what is, arguably, a political agenda. NCLB does not, therefore, hold teachers accountable for educating children; rather, it holds educators accountable for implementing a predetermined system of thought and truth. It is for this reason that I oppose the reauthorization of NCLB. The following petition articulates many points I agree with (

To: U.S. Congress
We, the educators, parents, and concerned citizens whose names appear below, reject the misnamed No Child Left Behind Act and call for legislators to vote against its reauthorization. We do so not because we resist accountability, but because the law's simplistic approach to education reform wastes student potential, undermines public education, and threatens the future of our democracy. Below, briefly stated, are some of the reasons we consider the law too destructive to salvage. In its place we call for formal, state-level dialogues led by working educators rather than by politicians, ideology-bound "think tank" members, or leaders of business and industry who have little or no direct experience in the field of education.

1. Misdiagnoses the causes of poor educational development, blaming teachers and students for problems over which they have no control.
2. Assumes that competition is the primary motivator of human behavior and that market forces can cure all educational ills.
3. Mandates data driven instruction based on gamesmanship to undermine public confidence in our schools.
4. Uses pseudo science and media manipulation to justify pro-corporate policies and programs, including diverting taxes away from communities and into corporate coffers.
5. Ignores the proven inadequacies, inefficiencies, and problems associated with centralized, "top-down" control.
6. Places control of what is taught in corporate hands many times removed from students, teachers, parents, local school boards, and communities.
7. Requires the use of materials and procedures more likely to produce a passive, compliant workforce than creative, resilient, inquiring, critical, compassionate, engaged members of our democracy.
8. Reflects and perpetuates massive distrust of the skill and professionalism of educators.
9. Allows life-changing, institution-shaping decisions to hinge on single measures of performance.
10. Emphasizes minimum content standards rather than maximum development of human potential.
11. Neglects the teaching of higher order thinking skills which cannot be evaluated by machines.
12. Applies standards to discrete subjects rather than to larger goals such as insightful children, vibrant communities, and a healthy democracy.
13. Forces schools to adhere to a testing regime, with no provision for innovating, adapting to social change, encouraging creativity, or respecting student and community individuality, nuance, and difference.
14. Drives art, music, foreign language, career and technical education, physical education, geography, history, civics and other non-tested subjects out of the curriculum, especially in low-income neighborhoods.
15. Produces multiple, unintended consequences for students, teachers, and communities, including undermining neighborhood schools and blurring the line between church and state.
16. Rates and ranks public schools using procedures that will gradually label them all "failures," so when they fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress, as all schools eventually will, they can be “saved” by vouchers, charters, or privatization.

While any one of these issues is serious enough to warrant discarding No Child Left Behind, the law suffers from all of them. The number of signatures on this petition should be a clear indicator to state and national policy makers that it is time to move beyond this harmful, highly restrictive law.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Going to school in Second Life

I often marvel at the strange and unexpected circumstances that enter my life, teach me something, and become thought-provoking. Last Sunday, I slept in and as a result, attended Mass at All Saints Church in Dunwoody. I had no idea that there was going to be a guest Priest, Father Richard Ho Lung, founder of the Order, Missionaries of the Poor, . Founded in 1981, Missionaries of the Poor now has over 400 Brothers and provides direct medical, social, educational, food and shelter services to the poor in Jamaica, Haiti, Uganda, India and the Philippines. Father Ho Lung sang, danced, and spoke from the heart about a harsh reality of human suffering that few of us sitting in a warm Church in Dunwoody, Georgia could even imagine. I was moved to tears and in a word, educated. The next day, I read an article on, Educators explore "Second Life" online, , that predicted the rapid growth of the use of virtual technology for educational purposes. According to advocates of virtual learning, virtual worlds such as Second Life are going to grow exponetially to the point where "everyone will become involved in this." This article suggests that Second Life will provide meaningful educational services because of the ability to facilitate world-wide and cross-cultural discussion and to actively engage learners in the educational process. I think these claims are likely accurate and there is something to be said about the ability to engage in cross-cultural dialogue; however, I wonder what might be lost? A virtual world provides a nice fantasy and a convenient escape. How nice it is to not be limited by one's own physical abilities, be fashion magazine attractive, not suffer real consequences for bad decisions, and participate in a world where poverty, hunger, war, disease, and no-hope are nothing more than virtual. Thus, I would advocate the use of technology in education when it helps students engage the world but have concern when it is used to entertain or allow students to escape the reality of suffering in the world.

Review of Ratdog Concert, Tabernacle, Atlanta, 11/13/06

I have been going to Ratdog concerts now for eight years and I always have a good time. I am thankful that Bob Weir continues to travel and play music, and keep it fresh. In well over 3000 concerts during his career, Bob has never repeated the same set list. It has also been my observation that over the past eight years, Ratdog has continued to grow, evolve and improve. Monday's show in Atlanta was no exception. Monday's show was, for me, a nice mix of classic GD and Ratdog songs (Music Never Stops, Big River, Lost Sailor/Saint, Looks Like Rain, Going Down the Road and Feeling Bad, and Brokedown Palace), and several of my favorite songs that I rarely, or never, have heard live (Baby Blue, Row Jimmy, Foolish Heart, Standing on the Moon). I especially enjoyed Big River played at a much slower tempo than I have heard before and then into a fine version of Dylan's Baby Blue. Row Jimmy, a classic Southern ballad with a simple but nonetheless true life-message ("row, row, row") is one of my all time favorite songs. I had never heard Foolish Heart live before and the great thing about that song is the lyrics. I also love Ratdog's version of Standing on the Moon. All in all, this was a great show and fine time.

I: Jam > The Music Never Stopped > Big River > Baby Blue > Loose Lucy, Row Jimmy, Lost Sailor > Saint of Circumstance, Foolish Heart
II: El Paso@3, Looks Like Rain@, Jus' Like Mama Said > Dark Star > Stuff, Standing on the Moon > Dark Star > GDTRFB
E: Brokedown Palace

Foolish Heart (Lyrics)

Carve your name
Carve your name in ice and wind
Search for where the rivers end
Or where the rivers start
Do everything that's in you
You feel to be your part
But never give your love, my friend
Unto a foolish heart
Unto a foolish heart

Dare to leapLeap from ledges high and wild
Learn to speak
Speak with wisdom like a child
Directly to the heart
Crown yourself the king of clowns
Or stand way back apart
But never give your love, my friend
Unto a foolish heart
Unto a foolish heart

Shun a friend
Shun a brother and a friend
Never look
Never look around the bend
Or check the weather chart
Sign the Mona Lisa
With a spray can, call it art
But never give your love, my friend
Unto a foolish heart
Unto a foolish heart

A foolish heart will call on you to toss your dreams away
Turn around and blame you for the way you went astray
Foolish heart will cost you sleep, often make you curse
Selfish heart is trouble, but a foolish heart is worse

Bite the hand
Bite the hand that breaks your bread
Dare to leap
Where angels fear to tread
Til you are torn apart
Stoke the coals of paradise
With coals from hell to start
But never give your love, my friend
Unto a foolish heart
Unto a foolish heart
Unto a foolish heart...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hope without Illusion

“The real story of urban school reform over the past decade or so has been the emergence of powerful new discourses and technologies including computer-based technologies, that bring corporate control into the classroom, and thus make it more difficult for teachers to resist or to carve out an oppositional discourse and space” (33)

Carlson, D. (2005). Hope without illusion: telling the story of democratic educational renewal. International Journal of Qualitative Education, 18(1), 21-45.

School Commercialism

The new issue of Educational Researcher (vol. 5, no. 7, October, 2006) has a review by Trevor Norris of two books: School Commercialism: From Democratic Ideal to Market Commodity (Alex Molnar, 2005, Routledge) and The Edison Schools: Corporate Schooling and the Assault on Public Education (Kenneth J. Saltman, 2005, Routledge). This four page review is both distressing and depressing. According to Norris, the two books describe the loss of the 'public' from taxpayer funded schools. Norris (33) cites Molner:

"Today, across the nation and around the world, the ideal of the public school as a pillar of democracy is being transformed by a wave of commercialism. Commercialism is an expression of advanced capitalist culture and a profound threat to democratic civic institutions. Its impact on schools is, at its most basic, to transform the guiding ideal of public schools as centers of learning serving the public good to centers of profit benefiting private interests. Once held to be a public good that could be measured by their contribution to the community's well-being, schools have come to be seen as markets for vendors, venues for advertising and marketing and commodities to be bought and sold. They are evaluated largely in terms of how effective they are perceived at preparing workers for corporate employers, and their mission has been transformed conceptually into a 'service' that can be delivered by private businesses responding to the profit motive" (p. 16).

One criticism Norris has of Molnar's work is that it does not offer solutions. According to Norris, Molner does report that teachers' response to commercialism ranges from "tacit acceptance to outright embrace." This may be because teachers are effectively silenced by school bureaucracies or "are simply overwhelmed by other demands" (Norris, 33). Reading this, I wondered how commercialism is reified in modern conceptions and language of schooling? And further, how might a postmodern critique of commercialism provide a voice to teachers working for control of their own profession?

Norris, T. (2006). School commercialims and the fate of public schooling: what's "good" for America? Educational Researcher, 35(7), 32-35.

Molnar, A. (2005). School commercialism: from democratic ideal to market commodity. New York: Routledge.

Saltman, K. J. (2005). The Edison Schools: corporate schooling and the assault on pubic education. New York: Routledge.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Team Mel is the first Photo on the 3-days Photo Gallary!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Back to pm education

An interesting quote from Dennis Carlson:

"The quantification of quality has been an element of hegemonic reform discourse in public education for a long time, going back to the early twentieth century 'cult of efficiency.' But in the 1980's, corporate CEOs and corporate think tanks began to assume a more active role in shaping urban school policy and in overseeing school reform consistent with the 'bottom line' of test scores. The high-stakes testing movement has involved the deployment of a whole network of micro-technologies and apparatuses of control, everything from the test itself to the skill-based curricular materials, to the forms and reports teachers have to file, to the performance-based 'individualized educational plans' they have to follow for special education students. The 'real' story of urban educational reform over the past decade or so has been the emergence of powerful new discourses and technologies, including computer-based technologies, that bring corporate control into the classroom, and thus make it more difficult for teachers to resist or to carve out an oppositional discourse and space."

I wonder how teachers, parents and family members might carve out oppositional discourse and space?

Carlson, D. (2005). Hope without illusion: telling the story of democratic educational renewal. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 18(1), 21-45.

Review of Government Mule Concert

Government Mule, 11/4/06, Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA

I have been a fan of Warren Haynes for several years now and have never left a show disappointed. Like many of my generation, I came of age in the 1970's with a deep love of southern rock. And while bands and their hit songs have come and gone, there is something about hard-driving electric guitar and thundering bass that I never tire of. Today, in this tradition, I don't believe there is anything better than Government Mule. My only regret following the show Saturday night was missing the Friday night show. A good starting point is the venue. I posted this picture because it captures the truly intimate feel of the Tabernacle. Given the right kind of band and the right kind of audience, the Tabernacle provides a space where the band, the music and the audience unite in celebration. A celebration is exactly what took place Saturday. The first set featured several songs from the new CD, "High and Mighty" and was just a good old-fashioned rock and roll show. Opening with the title track 'High and Mighty' and following with 'Bad Little Doggie' ("you naughty little pup") the rock marathon was on and never looked back. The first set ended with a politically tinged sing-along version of Steppenwolf's, 'Don't step on the Grass Sam':

Well it's evil, wicked, mean and nasty
(Don't step on the grass, Sam)
And it will ruin our fair country
(Don't be such an ass, Sam)
Well, it will hook your Sue and Johnny
(You're so full of bull, Sam)
All will pay that disagree with me
(Please give up you already lost the fight, alright)

The second set began with the acapella 'Grinnin' in Your Face' followed by a beautiful reggae-beat-infused 'Soulshine' (see lyrics below). The second set featured more ballads but the intensity did not let up. The high point of the evening for me, however, was the two encores. The first encore was one of my all time favorite Jerry Garcia Band songs, 'That's what Love will Do for You' and featured the opening artist, Donovan Frankenreiter. The second encore may have topped the first and featured Atlanta rocker Kevn Kenny singing 'Strait to Hell.' By that time, I figured that while I may be going strait to hell at least I was enjoying the ride!

set list:

Set 1Mr. High & Mighty
Bad Little Doggie
How Many More Years
Rocking Horse
Slackjaw Jezebel
I'll Be The One
Don't Step On The Grass Sam

Set 2
Grinnin' In Your Face
Reggae Soulshine
A Million Miles From Yesterday
Time To Confess
Perfect Shelter
Streamline Woman-
>Child Of The EarthTrane-
>Eternity's Breath
Thorazine Shuffle

1st Encore:
That's what love will make you do*

2nd Encore:
Strait to Hell#

*With Donavon Frankenreiter and Eric Brigmond
#Kevn Kenny

Lyrics: Warren Haynes

Music: Warren Haynes

When you can't find the light
That guides you through a cloudy days
When the stars ain't shining bright
And it feels like you've lost your way
When those candle light of home
Burn so very far away
Well you got to let your soul shine
Just like my daddy used to say

He used to say the soulshine
It's better than sunshine
It's better than moonshine
Damn sure better than rain
Hey now people don't mind
We all get this way sometimes
Got to let your soul shine
Shine 'til the break of day

I grew up thinkin' that I had it made
Gonna make it on my own
Life can take the strongest man
And make him feel so alone
Now and then I feel a cold wind
Blowin' through my aching bones
I think back to what my daddy said
He said, boy, in the darkness before the dawn


Sometimes a man can feel this emptiness
Like a woman has robbed him of his very soul
A woman too, God knows, she can feel like this
But hey, when your world seems cold
You got to let your spirit take control

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Postmetaphysical Theology

I want to present a quote by Thomas Carlson regarding ontotheology and then reword the quote as I think it might apply to education. The quote is in reference to the Jean-Luc Marion's critique of modern metaphysical theology (Carlson, 2003): "Marion's critique of metaphysics as an 'ontotheology' will be based on his assertion that the 'God' of ontotheology amounts to a 'conceptual' idol in which some well-defined and therefore limited concept of 'God,' some predication of God's essence made present to the mind, is taken to be equivalent with God himself; such as concept and predication, which really constitute only an invisible mirror of purely human thought, blocks the fundamental sense in which the God of faith would exceed the limits of any definition, predication, essence, or presence" (60)

Modern education is limited by a similar ontological or metaphysical assumption. The epistemological argument is the same in both theology and education. Modern, or onto-education is similar to onto-theology in that it defines and limits the possibilities of education within pre-existing modern assumptions surrounding language and knowledge. The result of this is that education becomes a product to be produced by an institutional system.

My rewording of Carlson's quote: "A critique of metaphysics as an "onto-education" is based on the assertion that the foundation of onto-education amounts to a conceptual framework in which some well-defined and therefore limited concept of education, some certainty of the essential essence of education, is taken to be equivalent of all possibilities of education; such a view of education, merely a limited mirror of privileged human thought, blocks the possibilities of education to exceed existing definitions, predications, frameworks, and practice."

Carlson, T. A. (2003). Postmetaphysical theology. In Kevin J. Vanhoozer (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to postmodern theology, 58-75. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.