Liked ‘Monocropping the Mind’ by Benjamin Doxtdator (Long View on Education)
On one level, the human capital narrative creates a restrictive idea of what is a valuable aim for education, most often preparing students for jobs in STEM. While national prosperity is supposed to hang on this monoculture experiment, there’s also a calculation that some – many – will fail unless they have the entrepreneurial skills and grit to make something of themselves. On another level, this free-market ideology is indeed an artificial ecology, propped up by massive (and often unacknowledged) state investment in information technology and biotech sectors and a stripping back of social services. We have gotten to a point where, as Shiva argues, alternatives are closed and killed off.
Bookmarked The Building Blocks of Interpretability by Chris Olah (Google Brain Team)
There is a rich design space for interacting with enumerative algorithms, and we believe an equally rich space exists for interacting with neural networks. We have a lot of work left ahead of us to build powerful and trusthworthy interfaces for interpretability. But, if we succeed, interpretability promises to be a powerful tool in enabling meaningful human oversight and in building fair, safe, and aligned AI systems (Crossposted on the Google Open Source Blog) In 2015, our early attempts to visualize how neural networks understand images led to psychedelic images. Soon after, we open sourced our code as De...
Is it just me, or is this new article exploring how feature visualization can combine together with other interpretability techniques to understand aspects of how networks make decisions a case of creating a solution and then working out how or why it works? Seems reactive or maybe I just don’t get it.
Listened Architecture in Helsinki: Moment Bends from Pitchfork
Australian indie-pop band continues to move away from the precocious and cute toward a more streamlined, highly polished sound.

I think that Architecture in Helsinki are one of those bands divides people. Similar in a way to Sparkadia, people either gel to the sugary synth-pop or are put off. Personally, Moments Bend is one of those albums that feels like a bodily album, in that I often catch myself tapping away to the beat.

For a different take on their music, they also demonstrate the ability to re-imagine things more acoustically:

I would file this album somewhere between Talking Heads and Hot Chips.

Listened No such thing (as writer's block) by Seth Godin from Akimbo
We merely have to write, we merely have to create, have to be generous enough to show up with the best work we have right now. Once the immigular, the resistance realises that you are going to ship it anyway, it will get its act together and your work will get better. Don't say you don't have enough good ideas, say you don't have enough bad ideas.
Replied to Supporting Digital Practice – making time-for-learning by dave dave (davecormier.com)
Digital practices need to be negotiated, they need to be talked about out loud in ways that many of our 20th century practices don’t.
I really like your point about negotiation Dave. It reminds me in part of Doug Belshaw’s work on digital literacies. In my current role, the team I am in is responsible for supporting schools with Google. Having to cover a wide range of contexts and content, we often meet in the middle at some sort of imaginary average. I question how much people therefore get from these sessions. What I like about the option of online courses is that you can at least complete them as a staff group, reflecting together from your own perspective.

One take-away from the recent #EngageMOOC was that such negotiation and dialogue needs to happen at multiple levels. I think sometimes this is the challenge. We might generate conversation at the classroom, but it is not being had at the school level, something you touched upon in a past post. Also, the link between institutions and education systems seems stretched at times with the current neoliberal obsession with realism and the way it is.

Replied to Let’s break 2 molds that hurt everyone’s wellbeing (EDUWELLS)
In 1980 the average Auckland house price was the same as ONE Auckland Teacher salary. In 2018, it is the equivalent of NINE Auckland teacher salaries.
I like your point Richard of looking at wellbeing from a systemic point-of-view. I just finished reading a report on teachers in West Virginia living from paycheck to paycheck. What stood out was the attempts to link bonuses with exercise. We want impact and effect sizes, but are happy to ignore equity because it is beyond our control.
Bookmarked Excellent teachers in an age of fads by Mark Enser (Teaching it Real)
Many things that get labelled as “fads” might work for an individual teacher (although many things might work better) but they only become fads when divorced from their original meaning and then are spread around and are imposed on other teachers. Teachers, being brilliant, are able to make these things work as best they can, or at least to minimise harm, but they still have an opportunity cost. Worst still they add to our workload and drive teachers out of teaching. The solution is to give teachers time to study how pupils learn and time to reflect on and discuss their own learning – and then to allow them to teach. If someone wants to discuss a new method then that is wonderful; but it needs honest critique and the ideas behind it need to be explored.
This is an interesting post. I had never thought about the ability of teachers to make the most of a bad situation.

Another approach to this situation is to support teachers with structures, rather than solutions. Some of these approaches include Modern Learning Canvas, Agile Leadership and Disciplined Collaboration.

Discussing the teaching of literacy in Australia, Deb Hayes talks about uncommon pedagogies and the development of an oeuvre:

How might we support teachers to develop their oeuvre? What might the public discourse of schooling look like if it were to be based upon a deep respect for teachers, their knowledge and their understanding of the local conditions of teaching and learning?

Each of these perspectives provide a different approach to implementing change in education.

h/t John Johnson

Listened I see you by Seth Godin from Akimbo #003
Isn’t this what we truly want? To be seen, to be heard, to be understood…
This episode is about going beyond the industrial system to see people in all their jagged individuality. The phrase “I see you” is derived from the Zulu phrase, which talks about seeing someone for who they are, including their history and concerns. Where this is important the most is at school. The episode touches on many of the points covered by Todd Rose in The End of Average.
Listened ‘I could hear things, and I could feel terrible pain’: when anaesthesia fails – podcast by Kate Cole-Adams from the Guardian
if you have an operation, although it is your surgeon who manages the moist, intricate mechanics of the matter, it is your anaesthetist who keeps you alive.
Kate Cole-Adams explains that anaesthesia remains a mysterious and inexact science, with thousands of patients still waking up on the operating table every year.

Figures vary (sometimes wildly, depending in part on how they are gathered) but big American and European studies using structured post-operative interviews have shown that one to two patients in 1,000 report waking under anaesthesia. More, it seems, in China. More again in Spain. Twenty to forty thousand people are estimated to remember waking each year in the US alone. Of these, only a small proportion are likely to feel pain, let alone the sort of agonies described above. But the impact can be devastating.

Cole-Adams suggests that the answer maybe a personal touch:

So if you were my anaesthetist and I your patient, there are some other things I’d hope you would do in the operating theatre. Things that many already do. Be kind. Talk to me. Just a bit of information and reassurance. Use my name.

For some argue that there should be care that goes beyond consciousness:

Japanese anaesthetist Jiro Kurata calls this “care of the soul”. In an unusual and rather lovely paper delivered at the Ninth International Symposium on Memory and Awareness in Anaesthesia in 2015, he wondered if there might be “part of our existence that cannot ever be shut down, which we cannot even conceive by ourselves” – a “subconscious self” that might be resistant to even high doses of anaesthetics. He called this the hard problem of anaesthesia awareness.

You can read the text version here.

Listened TER #109 – How large-scale tests affect school management with Marten Koomen – 04 March 2018 by Cameron Malcher from Teachers' Education Review
Cameron Malcher speaks with Marten Koomen about his research into the process by which large-scale tests like PISA and NAPLAN affect school management and curriculum.

Marten Koomen frames the conversation around a discussion of collectivism, neoliberalism and skepticism. For collectivists, school is the responsibility of the state, whereas neoliberals consider it as another product to be consumed. While without effective governance, skepticism ends up in tragedy. Our current climate is very much in response to neoliberalism, however:

We are all part collectivist, individualists neoliberals and skeptics, so to identify in one corner is disingenuous.

The key question that Koomen tries to address is: How did Victoria go from a state that was a leader in content knowledge and democratic values to the launch of a content-free platform driven by the terror of performativity? As he explains,

They had this idea of the net, but no idea of the content … a complete infatuation with the technology.

Discussing PISA, Koomen provides some background to computer-based testing and the ‘Koomen Model’. The model involved providing schools with standardized devices for the consistency of data. It failed based on pressure.

In part, Koomen’s model tells us something about the data and what it tells us. There are groups out there that want the outcomes without the content or context. Koomen returns again and again to the difference between entity realism vs. constructivism:

Entity Realism = things are real

Constructivism = things agreed upon

Realists ignore context as it is not mapped back to a central curriculum. It also allows for the insult of the human spirit through comparison of outcomes, ratio and market results. For example, NAPLAN uses Item Response Theory, a format that does not allow any direct recall or reference to learning and development. This leads to the situation where a student can ‘improve’ yet remain on the same score. Margaret Wu explains this in her chapter in National Testing in Schools, while Sam Sellar, Greg Thompson and David Rutkowski elaborate on it in The Global Education Race.

For Koomen our decline in these scales comes back to a focus on the market:

Neoliberalism considers content as: self-evident, real, axiomatic, socially constructed and marketable. In a way that supports the status quo.

This leads to conversations with students in regards to points on a scale, rather than aspects of context and development. For example, it is easier in the media to talk about a change in ratios or job rates, rather than the collapse in the car industry and what impact that has for the state. This allows for the rise of education conferences based around data with little reference to the local context.

The answer Koomen closes with is to work together though associations to make systemic change.