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RE: [xmca] Obama's Learn Act

At this point I think I see the problem as being primarily structural.  In a sense I see great parallels between the issues of economics and education, and actually I think many of the problems in education currently are a result of the economic paradigm we have been working within (neo-classical) which restricts the types of discussions we can have on education.  The reason I believe the issue is structural is because I have been following the economics debate very closely (just as a novice so I can't get into any type of discussion about it).  What I have noticed is that Nobel Prize winners such as Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz made important critiques and predictions about our economic system.  Nouelle Roubini, an economist from NYU, almost exactly predicted what was going to happen.  Yet after the disaster not one of them was invited to be a participant in determining the policy out of this mess.  They and their ideas remained on the outside.  It is really pretty extraordinary to watch.  The many of the exact same people who made the mistake getting us into this mess (not just the same ideas, the same people) are again setting U.S. policy.  I think people had hoped that Obama would be more open to people like Krugman and Stiglitz, and I actually think he would if he had the chance, but the culture in terms of the status quo is just too strong.  A number of people I have been reading have been talking about this and they see it as a structural issue in which those who make decisions have become insulated (there are a lot of theories but I think I like this best).  How do you deal with this?  I think it is very frustrating and difficult.  Here is the first paragraph from Paul Krugman's column that hit me quite hard this morning.

"When I first began writing for The Times, I was naïve about many things. But my biggest misconception was this: I actually believed that influential people could be moved by evidence, that they would change their views if events completely refuted their beliefs."

Krugman laments that while this happens on rare occassions, it is relatively rare.  As I said I see great parallels between how policy is developing in economics and how it is developing in education.  Str8cturally there is just too much domination from one perspective even when there is no empirical evidence that is succeeds.  Again, the question is what to do about this.  What I see people like Krugman and Stiglitz and Roubini doing is that they keep writing on it, they keep posting on it.  In a sense electronic posting is best, because the best and most salient posts can be shared and forwarded and there is the hope that the right person will see the right one, although I haven't seen that happen much (although Krugman and Stiglitz did get invited to the job summit after the stimulus predictably did not have the effect that was hoped for, so there does seem to be a chance).  My hope is that for education something will develop, that is will probably be organic, and that it might take some form that nobody has really realized yet.




From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of mike cole
Sent: Mon 12/14/2009 11:58 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Obama's Learn Act

My apologies for incorrectly spelling your name, Cathrene.

And I explicitly stated I was happy to engage in this discussion, too.
However, other than expressions of indignation, how would you have us act?
In her brief note, Kris said that these matters are under discussion and
urged that arguments for alternative approaches be
put forward.

Put forward to whom and how?

Since Kris, as head of AERA and currently spending a lot of time in DC with
many of the people involved is also a member of XMCA, it seems that
funneling suggestions through her is one effective strategy, and if not
that, then what?

I am happy to follow, I do not know how to lead such an effort. So I am
asking for those who feel they know how to act effectively so share their
knowledge and help mobilize those like myself who do not.

My own efforts, funneled through Kris, as I indicated, are focused
on the kinds of mixed university-community partnerships we have worked on
for a long time and which appear to have considerable
untapped potential. This does not address a lot of what others appear to
think are priorities.

What concerted action are you suggesting, Cathrene? Michael?
Tony? Others?


On Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 8:44 AM, <cconnery@ithaca.edu> wrote:

> Hi all,
> First, I do need to state that my name is Cathrene, not Catherine.
> (Culturally-historically, there's a big difference between Irish and English
> descent.)
> Second, I never stated that I have all the answers to our dilemma or
> suggested we drop all other lines of discussion. However, I certainly think
> it is about time that we call attention to the travesty unfolding (yet
> again!) in our educational system. As I see it, recent legislation is a
> perfect example of conceptualizing mind in society at best.
> Third, we are all busy.....with many graduate students, grades to turn in,
> and papers, myself included. However,the sentiment that there are more
> important / better things to do than than consider / act on how we raise &
> socialize our children only serves to reproduce the sad state of affairs. I
> was under the impression that, as developmentalists, a cultural-historical
> framework was intimately concerned with the marginalization of and
> discrimination against human beings. How could it be otherwise?
> That being said, David is exactly correct that the language we use to
> describe learning can often convolute the discussion about education. If we
> as researchers, educators, psychologists, and social scientists cannot
> inform our civic leaders in a meaningful manner, then who can?
> The only thing more political than how we raise children is how we wage
> war. Hypothetically, when confronted by a potential hostile, we have two
> choices: we can pick up a physical tool of destruction (guns, bombs) or we
> can defer to the psychological tool of language. Yes, Afghanistan is
> important, but whether Mariela is provided with effective literacy
> instruction is directly connected to
> macro level economic and defense issues.
> Chomsky once noted that the language of the post-modern academic had become
> a golden cage of subservience and apathy. We need to clearly articulate and
> communicate what is at stake here with our friends, leaders, and politicans:
> childhood. I am merely suggesting that people begin by speaking out about
> what we know (or even don't know) to be true about the mind, learning,
> creativity, and the fallacy of alleged "research", so children are not
> placed in a behaviorist straight jackets for another 10 years while the rest
> of us sell cupcakes at bake sales. Obama is a very intelligent man! Isn't
> our role supposed to be to inform him?
> Cathrene
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