RE: political debate on the webheads list
- Dear fellow-Webheads,
I too have been a silent participant in this list for
some time, but the recent discussion has prompted me
to speak up.
I don't teach online, but I do run a moderated list,
and questions of focus and clarity are, in the very
least, a weekly consideration.
For what it's worth, the practice that I have found
most useful has been to encourage my list members to
share their political concerns and considerations -
because as was pointed out in an earlier post, life
is political, there is no escaping it - but to share
these concerns within the context of the list purpose.
While a warm and fuzzy online community is what we
all hope for as list managers and participants, let's
face it, we are all getting a lot of email, and out of
respect for fellow list participants it is probably
a good idea to stick to the agreed topics.
That doesn't mean we can't bring up politics.
i.e. "The actions of the US administration as of late
are a real concern to me. Does anyone have suggestions
as to how I can stimulate meaningful discussion between
my students online? Are there non-partisan online
communities out there who support political debate."
If we just need to talk, it is always possible to send
an invite out on the list for a backchannel discussion
on a different topic. It's great in fact!
Those are my two bits:
1) Discuss politics if you wish, in fact, welcome it;
2) But within the context of the list purpose.
Best wishes to all of you. It has been a privelage to
be a member of such an active, informative, and
- I agree with Amy about the volume of mails. I am very bad at managing the mails from this list. I look forward to reading all 600 unread messages. I will let you know how I progress!
Michael Ivy in Rome
See our students' Web site, the MetroZine, at:
ALL-NEW Yahoo! Messenger - sooooo many all-new ways to express yourself
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- It has been stated that education is political. Freiere, who became
famous for re-packaging borrowed ideas for his own purposes, was
particularly keen on the one-note refrain "Education is political,
education is political."
I submit to you both a statement and a challenge:
· Education is political (or has a political agenda) simply and
explicitly because educators consciously give themselves permission to
make it so.
I submit Freire as Exhibit A. His "education is [already] political"
refrain was simply the justification for blatant propagandizing. You
may agree or disagree with the content of his propaganda, but I submit
to you that it carried huge, partisan political freight nonetheless.
I'm afraid I must, humbly and trembling with fear, submit the members
of this list as Exhibit B. I have, I believe, already seen two or
three teachers promoting their "Peace" projects. I'm not arguing with
your ideology; I'm simply describing its fundamental nature: it is
one-sided, partisan propaganda. You can dislike me, if you wish, for
disagreeing with your politics, but you cannot deny the clearly-stated
bias you are presenting to young minds. You have an agenda. You are
presenting your agenda to young learners. You are giving yourself the
right to do so.
Education need not be political. I repeat, it is political because
teachers make a very conscious decision to make it so.
I am not currently a teacher [I taught for four years in Taiwan, am
now in U.S. pursuing MATESL] but last semester I presented an ESL
reading project on the war in Iraq. I know my classmates knew my
conservative bent. However, I very strongly believe that no one could
infer my beliefs from my presentation! I showed pictures of sad
children standing by war-torn, burned-out homes. I presented a reading
which included statements by Iraqi children that their innocent
parents had been killed. The reading was extremely sympathetic to the
Iraqi children. I also included discussion/thought questions which
were intended to put the students in the place of those children. I
included one of those old photos of war protesters from the '60s
putting flowers in the rifle barrels of National Guardsmen, with
related questions. I also included readings of the anti-war letters of
Charlotte Aldebron (http://www.antiwar.com/orig/aldebron1.html) . The
letters were somewhat modified for vocabulary/grammar, but I was very
strict about not harming content/message.
Heck, here's a direct snippet from the project. Can you say "Fair and
"Worksheet - past modals for expressions of regret or blame (should
have, could have, ought to have, might have, etc.) Teacher prepares a
worksheet similar to the examples given at the end of this paper.
Students are instructed to use all of their homework, etc. as a guide
for writing at least eight sentences of the provided structure.
Sentences can be from the point of view that the war was regrettable,
or from the point of view that Saddam Hussein's actions were
regrettable. Students may also generate their own (potentially
unrelated) sentences, using a similar structure. Rationale: Using past
So please, do not resurrect the ghost of Freire. His pseudo-profound
statements were simply a smokescreen for a consciously-chosen and
explicitly-presented political agenda. Education need not have a
political agenda. Statements that "education is political" are
rationalizations for choosing to proselytize for a political agenda.
Is anyone interested in discussing CALL? I am eager to learn about
anything that can be an aid to learners of L2 writing.
- twocentseltcafe wrote:
> It has been stated that education is political. Friere, who becameI have read all the published books by Freire, and I have never read
> famous for re-packaging borrowed ideas for his own purposes, was
> particularly keen on the one note refrain "Education is political,
> education is political."
that particular refrain anywhere in his published work. Now I cannot say
I have read everything he wrote, just all the books published in
English, but that is not the message I read. I assume the work published
in English covers the major work. Correct me if I am wrong.
What I read was that it is an educator's primary responsibility to
articulate for a learner and to enable a learner to articulate for
themselves the learner's own educational needs so that the learner knows
and has the personal ability and motivation to learn what the learner
needs for their own learning aims. In other words, education is not
indoctrination, but learning is self motivated and self directed, which
I presume is the main underlying principle of this list. Fundamental to
learning is choice. The foremost cutting edge learning research and
success, as far as I know, is task based learning which is exactly what
Freire seems to have suggested, learning is self directed, self
motivated, and socially based and interactive. That is the message I
read in Friere, quite similar to Socrates in many ways, so I guess like
all great thought, repackaged for modern consumption, reworked to fit
the now. Thank God.
- twocentseltcafe wrote:
> It has been stated that education is political.It depends on what you mean by education. If you mean indoctrination,
which is the kind of education I received in Catholic school in the 50s
and my younger brothers received in public school in the 50-60s then
education is "a-political" and "objective." This is correct and that is
incorrect: learn the right answers and don't make mistakes. I graduated
with a NY State Regents Scholarship. I learned all the right answers.
However, I felt highly deprived of an education. I felt and I was well
Of course public education, from its inception was and is political. If
you read the history of public education, its purpose from its inception
was and is to provide well trained workers for a dynamic economy. In
fact well trained workers are the primary factor after cheap capital and
transparent legal systems for economic success. Switzerland, Singapore,
Taiwan and Korea are all examples of the power of a well trained work
force in creating a vibrant economy. No one would disagree with that
conception of public education. Which is why Socrates was executed for
undermining the basic principles of the State. Athens was built on the
labor of slaves and the denial of civil liberties to all but an
oligarchy of wealthy privileged males. Women, children, ethnic
minorities, workers, foreigners all had zero political, economic and
civil rights. Socrates however deliberately chose an uneducated ignorant
slave to show that given the right attention and respect as a human,
even uneducated slaves and children had the same intellectual power and
ability and value as any wealthy person of privilege. For this act of
sedition he was executed.
Curiously, Freire, who says that all humans have the right to choose
their own education, was the most successful educator in the 20th
Century. Literally hundreds of thousands of uneducated, impoverished,
landless, exploited workers and workers' children and wives and families
taught THEMSELVES how to read and write and think and plan and execute a
learning plan. He was nearly executed for it in Brazil and Chile.
My uncle was one of the wealthiest men in Brazil in the 50s, and he
hated Freire, for the very reason that he made it possible for ignorant,
exploited workers to learn on their own without a state mandate, and to
think and to understand and to aspire and to imagine and to plan and to
choose. Actually, my uncle, Uncle Edgar Kocher, offered to me his
entire empire. All I had to do was let him adopt me. I said no thank
you. I had other plans. He owned the only state approved manufacture of
automobile parts, gauges and sensors, and watches and clocks, including
WestClock and a number of other brands, at a time when car imports were
taxed at 1000%. It was a tax specifically to protect his personal
business. The generals in the junta were all his friends. I lived in
his house in Sao Paulo when I was a young teenager. I did not then know
about Freire. While there, I travelled through the Amazon and Manaus and
ate in the jungle with Indians with no clothes on. I never noticed
because they were every bit as human and a whole lot more than my uncle.
I got along well with them. So, Pinochet tried to kill Freire too. For
the same reasons my uncle wanted him dead. And Freire went to Africa
where he was able to institute literacy and education programs in French
equatorial Africa which allowed people to learn, and to teach
themselves. Freire never said that education is political. But his
enemies did. He merely said like Socrates that slaves have the same
brains their owners have. That was exactly how political he was: love of
humans above love of politics. Even at the cost of his life.
12 years of Catholic or public school education, is in my book,
indoctrination, and oppressively political. Control of thought is not
education. Learning the right answers never is. All the right answers I
learned at the University of Pennsylvania as an undergraduate were all
wrong when I started to teach anthropology at Rutgers University a year
later. I remember when Piltdown man was proven to be a fraud. It was in
the textbooks: who would question it? People who think. Not people who
have the right answers. When I taught anthropology at Rutgers University
I used task based learning. I never told my students right from wrong
because I did not know. I only know how to look and choose the best
answer I can find.
What I have learned living a life of privilege is what I have chosen to
learn. However, a small troupe of Hindu kids in a ghetto in India who
were given a keyboard and screen, taught themselves to use computers and
surf the internet every bit as well as I have, and women in Ecuador and
Columbia who sell their alpaca wears in the Internet through a women's
collective have built schools and bought libraries for their kids, so
that the kids can be bilingual and educated (sic) and not indoctrinated
in Quechua and Spanish, and not have to kowtow to a state indoctrination
which wants to deny them their heritage and souls and selves and turn
them into workers.
That is my opinion and why I am on this list.
and not contributing much here either, obviously.
- "Curiously, Freire, who says that all humans have the
right to choose their own education...He merely said
like Socrates that slaves have the same brains their
owners have...What I read was that it is an educator's
primary responsibility to articulate for a learner and
to enable a learner to articulate for themselves the
learner's own educational needs."
Very eloquently put. But when the rubber hits the
road, are we not making choices for learners when we
"articulate for a learner.. the learner's own
educational needs"? Are we expressing their voice.. or
transplanting our own? Are we articulating their
needs, or are we telling them what our ideology holds
that they need? We define the problem *and* the
solution for them. That's the error, in my estimation.
It is, as you so eloquently stated, indoctrination.
"In other words, education is not indoctrination.."
Eh, that word again. Are you saying that Freire's view
of education as.. a form of life-changing,
liberating.. social action.. did not present its [i.e,
Freire's] ideology to students as the correct one? Did
he not define the problem *and* the solution?
Controlling which choices are presented to learners
(or which ones are presented as being preferable) is
in reality a means of choosing for them. That is
perhaps the key point here.
As for the history of public education you presented..
let me see if I can narrow the scope of our discussion
a little. :-) I am referring solely and specifically
to the practice of offering our own ideology to
students as the "correct" one [for example, via "Peace
Projects"]. I too abhor a system of education which
punishes (even to the point of death) those whose
views threaten the power structure in place.
Off-topic, but you referred to it: If you have any
good references on task-based instruction, please pass
them along on- or off-list. I am extremely interested.
The ELT Two Cents Cafe
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Read only the mail you want - Yahoo! Mail SpamGuard.
>That is exactly what Freire addresses at great length, the fact that
> Very eloquently put. But when the rubber hits the
> road, are we not making choices for learners when we
> "articulate for a learner.. the learner's own
> educational needs"? Are we expressing their voice.. or
> transplanting our own? Are we articulating their
> needs, or are we telling them what our ideology holds
> that they need? We define the problem *and* the
> solution for them. That's the error, in my estimation.
> It is, as you so eloquently stated, indoctrination.
learners are independent and it is the responsibility more than any
other of the educator not to impose their own personal values except to
facilitate the learner in their own realization of their own needs. It
is part of the discipline that learners are referenced back to their own
aims and ideals according to their own needs. Freire asserts that only
learners who are self directed are learners.
>No. Absolutely not. He is very clear and very precise about it. He was
> "In other words, education is not indoctrination.."
> Eh, that word again. Are you saying that Freire's view
> of education as.. a form of life-changing,
> liberating.. social action.. did not present its [i.e,
> Freire's] ideology to students as the correct one? Did
> he not define the problem *and* the solution?
concerned solely and throughout all his writing that learners are self
directed and self motivated. Learning occurs when the learner has goals
and works to achieve them.
>He refused to choose. He says an educator must help the learner any way
> Controlling which choices are presented to learners
> (or which ones are presented as being preferable) is
> in reality a means of choosing for them. That is
> perhaps the key point here.
they can to set their own goals for their own needs. He never said to
set choices. he always said to help learners explore choices and make
>I think it is important to be honest and clear about one's points of
> As for the history of public education you presented..
> let me see if I can narrow the scope of our discussion
> a little. :-) I am referring solely and specifically
> to the practice of offering our own ideology to
> students as the "correct" one [for example, via "Peace
> Projects"]. I too abhor a system of education which
> punishes (even to the point of death) those whose
> views threaten the power structure in place.
view. It is impossible to present all sides equally. It is absurd to
present all sides equally. it is illogical to present all sides equally.
It is necessary to make one's reasoning and choices clear and open. When
I taught anthropology, I was clear about not teaching neo-marxist
ideology which was presented in some text books as being "scientific" as
opposed to structuralist or cultural or psychological or linguistic
anthropology. In my archaeology graduate courses I was told that if it
is not relevant to the infrastructure and if it does not leave a
measurable trace in the ground it was an epiphenomenom. That is bad
science. It replaces science with scientism. It is not the measurable
trace in the ground which makes a marriage contract real and we now know
that despite no traces in the ground there is gathering evidence that it
may have left traces in the genes. Instead of making claims based on
ideology and imposing ideology, as a teacher, I shared my view as
clearly and as carefully as I could and gave my students as well as i
could the tools they needed to evaluate my claims against the others. I
did this by sharing the tools and showing how they worked to come to a
conclusion. As a professor in a college I was not free to be Freire in
all my dealings, however without ever having read him, I essentially
structured my courses to that end as well as i was able. It was only
later in getting an second, education degree did I discover that my
teaching ideas were Freirean.
The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF)
Project-Based Learning: At a Glance
learning, students work in teams to explore real-world problems and
create presentations to share what they have learned. Compared with
learning solely from textbooks, this approach has many benefits for
. Deeper knowledge of subject matter;
. Increased self-direction and motivation;
. Improved research and problem-solving skills.
Read the article
<http://www.glef.org/php/article.php?id=Art_884&key=037> | Read our
research summary <http://www.glef.org/php/article.php?id=Art_887&key=037>
Principles of Brain-Based Learning
The Definition of Problem-Based Learning
Problem-based learning (PBL) is focused, experiental learning (minds-on,
hands-on) organized around the investigation and resolution of messy,
real-world problems.... PBL curriculum provides authentic experiences
that foster active learning, support knowledge construction, and
naturally integrate school learning and real life; this curriculum
approach also addresses state and national standards and integrates
Students are engaged problem solvers, identifying the root
The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF) is a nonprofit operating
foundation that documents and disseminates models of the most innovative
practices in our nation's K-12 schools. We serve this mission through
the creation of media -- from films, books, and newsletters, to CD-ROMs
and DVDs. Our Web site contains all of our multimedia content published
What is "Edutopia"?
The word conjures up an ideal educational landscape, where students are
motivated to learn and teachers are energized by the excitement of
teaching. In these schools, parents and other professionals from the
community -- architects, artists, physicians, and writers, among others
-- contribute their expertise and resources. Technology is readily
available and enables students, teachers, and administrators to seek
knowledge and expertise beyond the school building. "Edutopia" is a
vision of powerful teaching and learning -- and the good news is that
the vision is being realized today in our nation's best schools.
What is Edutopia Online?
We use our Web site, Edutopia Online, to celebrate the unsung heroes
across our nation who are making "Edutopia" a reality. They have shown
what can be done, often with the same number of resources as other
schools and sometimes with fewer. We recognize that for these
innovations to spread, educators and parents, as well as business and
community leaders, must first see them and understand them. Our Video
Gallery <http://www.glef.org/foundation/foundation.php#> is a robust
archive of short documentaries and expert interviews that allows
visitors to visualize what these innovations look like -- in the
classroom and in the words of teachers and students. Detailed articles,
research summaries, and links to hundreds of relevant Web sites, books,
organizations, and publications are also available to help schools and
communities build on successes in education.
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- Seymour Papert <http://www.glef.org/php/people.php?id=C502225>, renowned
expert on children and computing, describes learning environments in
which children collaborate around meaningful projects and powerful ideas.
1. On the powerful impact of project-based work.
During the last couple of years, I've been working in what's been one of
the most moving and instructive educational experiences that I've had in
my whole career. And this is working inside a state juvenile
correctional facility, where children from age 12 upwards who've been
sent there by courts -- they've done what would be considered a serious
crime if it had been done by an adult. ... The governor of Maine, Angus
King, who is a very progressive, forward-looking person, encouraged me
to create a little project -- made it possible to create a little
project where with just 10 kids, we took them out of the regular school
and they spent their time -- five hours a day -- doing project-based
work. We used computers, we used MicroWorlds Logo, we used Lego. Some of
them built airplanes, some of them built guitars. They worked on
projects. And everybody who saw this was staggered at the difference of
the energy that they showed there -- the kind of involvement, engagement
-- compared with the lethargic, rebellious attitude in the classes. I
think that this project that we could set up allowed some of them to get
a new sense of themselves as learners -- that learning is something
valuable, that setting yourself a goal and working to achieve it is
something which some of them have never seen before in their lives.
They've never known anybody who works over time for the achievement of
some goal. So you can change their view of life.
Back to top <http://www.glef.org/php/interview.php?id=Art_901&key=037#top>
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International Conference on Computers in Education (ICCE'02)
December 03 - 06, 2002
Auckland, New Zealand
p. 943 Mission-Based Learning Model and Its Instructional Activity Design
Yueh-Chun Shih, Nian-Shing Chen, National Sun Yat-sen University
A task-based learning model defines the process whereby students
organize teams to accomplish some tasks by using and integrating what
they have learnt in a creative way through access to the resources
available on network. The task -based learning model can be further
broken down into sub-divisions to address different perspectives. The
mission-based learning model is one of those. The mission-based learning
model particularly helps students develop attitude and ability to
accomplish some special task accepting the risk that they may fail. The
main characteristics of a mission-based learning model are commitment,
risk-taking, persistence and learning by error.
In this study, we develop a typical instructional activity, named
"Telling Story about Paper Bill", as mission-based learning model. The
activity we propose is intended to help students integrate knowledge
such as history, geography, environment, animal-care and computer skill.
During this process of integration, students should develop attitudes of
commitment, risk-taking and persistence, and the ability to accomplish
Index Terms- Mission-based Learning Model, Instructional Activity
Design, Task-based learning model
The full text of icce is available to members of the IEEE Computer Society
who have an online subscription <http://computer.org/subscribe/> and an
web account <http://www.computer.org/WebAccounts/index.htm>.
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