Thursday, September 19, 2013

Journal Entry 12/3/2008 (Dad's Work)


One thing that I always can rely on when testing social experiments in person is the unknowing compliance of my wife.

As I sat next to her in the hair salon today, both of us sitting in the chairs with those ridiculous metal domes (but only she was getting her hair done), I was reading the newspaper and saw a story about kids in a local middle school getting into a fight over race. The story painted the white child as instigating the black child, because the former mentioned in no specified context that the latter was, in fact, black. Whether or not this was grounds for the black child to punch the while child is another discussion entirely, but that's not what I want to say.

With the recent election of Barack Obama, I've heard constantly on the news that now we live in a "post-racial America". From the moment they began to say that, I already knew it was quite a load. The oppression still exists, the institutions are still strong, the only difference is that now, we have a mixed-race president. The other things didn't suddenly go away, and it seems to me that the people stating that this is evidence of a "post-racial America" are doing nothing but supplying more ammunition for microinvalidation.

I decided, however, that this was obvious, and I'd much rather make a more obvious point. I showed the article to my wife, who was now preparing to lower the dome, and let her look over it. After she finished, I asked her, "What do you make of this?"

She scanned over it again, then passed the paper back to me and said "Looks don't matter".

The irony almost made me sick, and the woman who was sitting next to my wife at the time gave me this look that I thought was understanding.

We still place emphasis on appearance. We can't look over the little things in order to place emphasis on something that is already huge.

A mixed-race president doesn't delete oppression.


And there's still time, dad, and viewers.

Remember: We haven't had another Catholic president since JFK.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Devolution of Our Self-Direction

A while back I forwarded a post about self-directed learning. It got me thinking about how much of our learning process is reliant on our own initiative rather than what information is fed to us in our "schooling".

It never occurred to me until that point that the majority of what I know, now, that exceeds any fundamental understanding of basic concepts in conventional fields (in case I've lost you: two plus two, the cow goes moo, "you and I" not "me and you"), was self-taught.

Meaning, with the exception of basic algebra, basic grammar, basic basic basic, the rest of what I've learned was never taught to me. I taught myself.

So where am I going with this?

I continue to do these sorts of things even in college. Not just by Googling things, but by taking advantage of what I'm paying for. All of my courses consist of things I'm taking seriously: art, psychology, anthropology and global perspectives. They all require quite a bit of work, but I knew that when I signed up for the courses.

I asked someone the other day what some of their classes were. Aside from their major, most of them were pretty ridiculous (by ridiculous I mean a course on how to watch television. No, it doesn't teach the facets of consumerism).

I wish people would take their education (and their money) seriously.

How Do You Feel? (Dad's Work)

How do you feel:

When the model's come and gone

She'll talk to you but not for long

Because how could anyone like her

Feel something like that from you?

How do you feel:

When the tall suited guys flex their dollars

The visionaries come and soon they're martyrs

Because how could anyone like you

Stand up to someone like them?

How do you feel to be at the bottom of the food chain?

How do you feel to be lost in your one-way troubles?

How do you feel to be stamped by the Doctor's, Professor's, Noble's name?

How do you feel to be crushed underneath the rubble?

You're average, normal, mediocre square wavenothingspecial

But you try, try, again and again.

To prove that you're here.

To get them to hear.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Our Philosophical Unity

I've always been curious about something for as long as I've been doing this.

My friends and I have been in debates and arguments with racial realists on the internet. They try to justify their racism by claiming that their belief in a hierarchy of superiority has scientific backing. This is also known as "scientific racism".

Many of them make a comment that I find incredibly ironic: That philosophical arguments have no substance.

Yet, the foundation of their own arguments is in the reliance on philosophical unity.

Philosophical unity is a natural sense of connection a group of people feels when they are connected through their language, appearance, attitude, and aspirations. There are little barriers in western society between people who are native to that area, so it's easy for them to get along.

So to settle another argument, the fact that more diverse areas tend to have a lower amount of trust says nothing about diversity, but in the masses' general mistrust in others who aren't a part of their circle of philosophical unity.

Race (or ethnicity, but either way you're probably calling it the wrong thing) does not have any inherent importance. Neither does nationality, until you actively participate in it.

Self-Directed Learning

Forwarded from Nick's blog:

This is a response to a college prompt on “self-directed learning” and “flipped classes”.
I hear the word student and sometimes I feel the need to divide between a philosophical student (someone who is eager to learn whether in the formal setting of a classroom or not) and an official student (someone who sits in a desk and takes down notes without engagement), so I just divided them.

The idea of being a more self-reliant student — a philosophical student — has appealed to me since the beginning of high school. The article briefly talked about the use of averages, standards and comparisons as a mode for measuring how successful a student — an official student — is in their formal education. IQs, ACTs, SATs, GPAs, class ranks — they all just tell me one thing about the educational system, and that is that our system of education is more capitalistic than socialistic in its approach to helping younger generations achieve higher learning and self-reliance. We constantly compare, we constantly standardize- as if we could ever measure someone’s success, performance and intelligence through a single test, or a single standard number, that doesn’t change to adhere to the differences between us. As a teacher I had last year said: “In my several decades teaching at this school, and several years being a dean and getting to know all the students, I would say that I have not seen a single year where the valedictorian was actually the smartest kid in the class”.

We’re humans, not robots being manufactured on the assembly line, right? There’s no single way to measure how we’re all succeeding.

That being said, the idea of self-directed learning seems to appeal to the independence and autonomous erudition of every student — both kinds — that participates in the process. It’s aimed less to compare and contrast, more to hone the skills and abilities of each student as an individual and adhere them to the educational process to ensure that anyone, regardless of their differences or preferences, can learn, and subsequently break the bell curve of education and success. It’s less reliant on a standard set by the educator, and more so on the engagement and direction of the student. By this point, all students involved should be philosophical students.

Everything about the concept of a “flipped class” and self-directed learning sounds good to me, but here is where my pessimism comes in.

My first impression of “flipped classes” was a groaned: “Oh, another attempt at dividing the line between servile education and engaged, critical thinking/learning”.

I love everything about the concept, but I’m skeptical of whether or not it will actually succeed, or will even be attempted at properly. It’s been mentioned and discussed many times before, but it seems that nobody can figure out a way to work the system.

But I guess that highlights the issue, right? For self-directed learning, there is no “system”. It’ll be different every time, and there’s no guarantee that it will work.

Regardless, I’m looking forward to the try.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Three-Legged Dogs

There is a three-legged dog out there, whose master loves him very much.

This three-legged dog's name is Toby. This three-legged dog is completely normal. He runs, he jumps, he barks, and he plays like any other dog would. Children love to play with him. Most don't even notice that he's missing a leg.

Once, Toby went for a walk in the park with his master. As would be expected, a woman was sitting on a bench with her 5 year old son, who immediately noticed Toby and ran up to him. He began to pet and play with Toby, as any child would with any loveable dog.

Toby's master spoke to the woman for a while. Their conversation was very cordial, and nothing seemed wrong. Then, the woman took a glance over the man's shoulder and saw the space under the dog's body.

She then called out to her son:

"Sweetie, don't pet that dog. He's missing his leg."

The child stopped and looked where the space was. He waved his hand to ensure himself that the leg was actually missing, and that it wasn't just invisible. The leg was very much missing. The child began to cry. The man's heart began to enlarge, as he was under the impression that the child felt bad for Toby and his handicap. It then sank, when he realized what was really happening, after the child walked toward his mother, his hand buried in his own shoulder, with only one eye peeking back at Toby.

The boy was afraid.

Their conversation stopped, the woman walked away with her son's hand in her own, and they didn't look back.

There was no reason to be afraid of Toby. It seemed there was nothing different about him. So, why then, did the mother have to drop a pebble in her son's bowl of light and purity?

What purpose did this serve?

Why is this any different with people who are different?

Why does it hurt to be different?

Toby and his master walked back home, saddened, not understanding why what happened happened, but only that it did, and it would surely happen again.