Saturday, June 12, 2004

the meeting from hell and the subject from the future ...

heaps of stuff going on lately ...

1. Last week, CJ and I took 28 budding Y8 writers to see Michael Prior at the Wheelers Hill Library (ajoining the excellent Monash Gallery). We all caught the public bus together and then chatted about writing all afternoon. Michael was great, had some interesting ideas and took us through some stimulating writing activities; he had the kids eating out of his (pen)hand. We have some talented kids and some great writers - Ryan and Sarah in particular. It's always refreshing to be with these young people in outside of school settings - without all the baggage that comes with a school setting. The sun was out and the kids were good and chatty and ... you know ... it was good ...

then I arrived back at school ...

KB was at the Curriculum Committe meeting. The week before she had asked me to put together a unit/subject outline for a 'digital english' kind of thing, as the curriculun commitee is in the process of finalising subject offerings for next year. We have been discussing for ages now the need to redesign the literature electives for y8, 9, 10 so as to encourage literature at y11 and 12 - which hasn't been taught at HVSC for a few years now, and this was our chance to suggest some other offerings.

Anyway, I put together the outline and wanted to go and talk about it to the other members of the committee - but this ended up being more a justification. The committee wanted us (KB and I) to justify these new subjects - there was a lot of contention and misunderstanding that was just really negative. KB has come back fairly distressed from these meetings in the past. I now fully understand why. It was a shocker. Particular staff members just had really stupid things to say - things that showed how unintellectual the whole process really is and how little thought really goes into the selection and design of the whole school curriculum. I was shocked and appalled! (yeah!)

Needless to say that KB and I went into bat pretty heavily and I think we held our ground. The rest of the meeting was run really badly, both in terms of chair and participants - a major waste of time.

After the meeting, HCa (new AP and convenor) told me that next time I wanted to come to the meeting I needed to let her know beforehand. She said that she didn't want the meeting ambushed and that having uneven faculty representation was akin to 'branch staking'. She was quite upset (almost teary). I had been under the impression that these meetings were open to all staff - especially at this time when next year's subject offering were up for 'discussion'. Apparently not anymore.

Anyway, I would have thought my presence would have been appreciated - someone showing an interest! I made plenty of comments (perhaps too many) and quite enjoyed myself in a masochistic kind of way.

On another thing, I have decided to change my Y12 policy. Some of the boys are far too casual towards their learning and towards the class. I'm not taking any of their shite any more; this includes lateness, swearing, arrogance towards other students, sexism, poor work attitudes. If these persist I will be sending them to the VCE study centre with instructions to do their own private study. There are two main offenders. The rest of the class is growing tired of them and their rot and have been making comments. I will not these few arrogant bastards ruin the year for the students who want to do the right thing.

Part of the problem is our VCE co-ordinator is a soft touch. He wants these guys to be his mates and they don't respect him - or at least they tell me this often. I don't care if these guys are my mates - I just them to do their work and learn some things, be respectful to other class members. Their is much more I can say here, but perhaps anothe day.

Digital Stories of Deep Learning

via Jeremy H - written by Helen Barrett




core curriculum?

yep ...

via Blackboard Jungle "'the unfortunate, yet truly exciting thing about your life, is that there is no core curriculum. The entire place is an elective. The paths are infinite and the results uncertain.' (Source) Kerzner seems to believe in studying the corrollary emotions required of everyone encumbered with an adolescent, to rise to the challenge of those infinite paths.

I have just finished my 'review' of Triage by Scott Anderson (we begin this text this coming week with Y12). The pleasures of this wonderful book must surely speak for themselves. It has received some promising comments from my seniors so I'm hoping to have some fun with it in class.
 Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 05, 2004

making research public - making knowledge claims

I have been thinking lately of the potential for blogging to open up alternative discursive spaces for research groups - I realise that this is not a new thought, and I haven't really looked around at any examples, but I realise they exist. I meet with my research partner last week re: this project about professional learning and portfolio assessment al la the VIT, and we got talking about all sorts of stuff - I raised the possibility of using blogs to help make the research process an open and collaborative one, where we record the comings, goings, musings, thoughts, initial writing and whatever else, online for all to see. I'm thinking that this would give the research a chance to form and take shape in a very different way - and I think, a much more interesting way. For all our talk about professional learning and collaboration, we often ignore the professional learning opportunities inherent in any research process - for both researcher and participants (or researchers and 'co-researchers').

The idea of blogging the process of the research (as much as the product), I think is equally as valuable.

It seems that the MS monolith is thinking of turning this idea into a product ... this is Bill Gates' latest speech to the MS faithful, via the age. I'm not exactly sure what he has in mind, but I'm sure it will be ... interesting.

"Email is not without its problems. Certainly spam is the most visible of those, and email suffers when you have lots of people collaborating and different attachments going back and forth. And the creation of this idea that whenever you want to work with somebody, you just create a website - called a SharePoint website - that's been very explosive in the past year as we've built that more into Office. "

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The Database of Intentions

Very interesting stuff ... via John Battelle

"The Database of Intentions is an idea central to the book I've been working on for the past year or so, which is tentatively titled "The Search: Business and Culture in the Age of Google" (Penguin/Putnam/Portfolio 2004). As with many in this industry, it all started with the Macintosh. Back in the mid 80s I was an undergraduate in Cultural Antropology, and I had a class - taught by the late Jim Deetz,which focused on the idea of material culture - basically, interpreting the artifacts of everyday life. It took the tools of archaeology - usually taught only in the context of civilizations long dead - and merged them with the tools of Cultural Anthropology, which interpreted living cultures. He encouraged us to see all things modified by man as expressions of culture, and therefore as keys to understanding culture itself. I began to see language, writing, and most everyday things in a new light - as reflecting the culture which created them, and fraught with all kinds of intent, contreversies, politics, relationships. It was a way to pick up current culture and hold it in your hand, make sense of it, read it.
(more via link below)

"At the same time I was making extra money beta testing some software on a brand spanking new Mac, vintage 1984. Anthropology and technology merged, and I became convinced that the Mac represented mankind's most sophisticated and important artifact ever - a representation of the plastic mind made visible. (Yeah, college - exhaaaaale - wasn't it great!).

"Anyway, the idea that a graphical user interface and, later, a network connecting many GUIs, could provide a medium between many minds drove much of my fascination with reporting on technology, from MacWeek to Wired to The Standard to now. The "Mac as the greatest artifact" meme became one of my standard riffs, from discussions with potential writers at Wired, to discussions with partners at The Standard. The idea that we could better understand ourselves by looking at how we employ technology was and remains the driving force of my work as a journalist.

"This is all a long-winded way of saying, I've now come to the conclusion that humankind has created a far more fascinating and important artifact, one that surpasses the Macintosh (and its badly drawn descendant, Windows). And before you roll your eyes and say "Oh God, not the Internet...", no, it's not the Internet. It's something that is a product of the Internet, what I call the Database of Intentions.

"The Database of Intentions is simply this: The aggregate results of every search ever entered, every result list ever tendered, and every path taken as a result. It lives in many places, but three or four places in particular hold a massive amount of this data (ie MSN, Google, and Yahoo). This information represents, in aggregate form, a place holder for the intentions of humankind - a massive database of desires, needs, wants, and likes that can be discovered, supoenaed, archived, tracked, and exploited to all sorts of ends. Such a beast has never before existed in the history of culture, but is almost guaranteed to grow exponentially from this day forward. This artifact can tell us extraordinary things about who we are and what we want as a culture. And it has the potential to be abused in equally extraordinary fashion."