Bookmarked The Inhumanities; Or, the war on the humanities & why our humanity is at stake

IS IT A COINCIDENCE that at a time of protest around the world—a cry for systemic reform, an outcry against the failures of imagination and the decimation of the spirit, against the smallness of mind and meanness of heart, against the exploitation of the earth and of each other, upon which the colonial project and global commerce have depended—is it a coincidence that at just this time the Australian government, a more reactionary and ideologically driven regime than any we have known, has decided to dismantle the humanities?

Mark Tredinnick responds the challenge being made to the traditional liberal arts education in Australia.

The humanities teach us how to think. How to Be. And how to do it for oneself. They teach one how to write and speak. For oneself, on behalf of interests greater than one’s own. They school us in ethics, in care, in imagination. They ask us to ask ourselves to do better with our living. And how to ask for better. For instance, from those in power. The humanities help us to know what, beside profit and security, counts. For any and every human life.

He argues that rather than job-focused degrees we need to be people-focused.

We don’t need job-focused degrees (heavy on data and light on wisdom). What we need more than ever is students who learn how to live and who know how to help others live meaningful and meaning-making lives. We need minds capable of apprehending merit and beauty and of fashioning justice and joy; we need hearts that know how to care for the wreck of the world and the wreck of other lives that the prevailing economic and political models have made; we need minds skilled at the craft of conserving what’s left, and keeping it habitable for human—and all sorts of other beings.

We in fact need the humanities as an anti-thesis of being too economically focused.

We need music because we have factories; we need poetry because we have politics; we need the humanities because we have economies, and because there is always the risk that one might enter dangerous times like this, and governments like this.

Liked Why ‘worthless’ humanities degrees may set you up for life (bbc.com)

But few courses of study are quite as heavy on reading, writing, speaking and critical thinking as the liberal arts, in particular the humanities – whether that’s by debating other students in a seminar, writing a thesis paper or analysing poetry.

Liked How “Peanuts” Created a Space for Thinking (The New Yorker)

Charles Schulz’s beloved comic strip invited readers to contemplate the big picture on a small scale.

This essay is drawn from the anthology “The Peanuts Papers: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life,” edited by Andrew Blauner.
Liked Helen DeWitt (full-stop.net)

Writing can be a way of thinking. Sometimes it seems as though a voice comes into the head and one writes down what it says — that would count as thinking, it seems to me, only if any conscious mental activity counts as thinking.

You’ll probably see, from my answer above, that I don’t think thinking is always done in language. Tufte’s work surely shows a wide range of non-linguistic thought that makes use of the page.

Bookmarked “Real-World” Math Is Everywhere or It’s Nowhere by By Dan Meyer (dy/dan)

Amare is looking at these 16 parabolas. Her partner Geoff has chosen one and she has to figure out which one by asking yes-or-no questions. There are lots of details here. She’s trying to foc…

Dan Meyer on differentiating between ‘real’ models versus ‘non-real’ models in Mathematics. The problem with this is that from a process point of view it is all real learning.
Bookmarked Establishing a Culture of Thinking (It’s About Learning)

Some simple ways to begin practicing documentation include:

  • Sharing a short video clip of documentation at the start of class or a meeting by displaying a brief clip and then asking students their thoughts about it.
  • Taking a photo of an especially powerful learning moment to revisit with students by using the classroom walls to display the documentation.
  • Jotting down a provocative or insightful quote from a student to share with the class via speech bubbles on the walls.
  • Cameron Paterson provides a useful introduction to Ron Ritchhart’s Cultures of Thinking and the notion of documentation. Along with Silvia Tolisano and Diane Kashin, I have written about Project Zero and the routines of thinking before. I was also left thinking about the power of documentation during a recent session with Amy Burvall, where we critiqued our creative thinking. However, Cameron’s post also left me wondering about the place of thinking and documentation outside of the classroom?
    Bookmarked Social Media Has Hijacked Our Brainstorm and Threatens Global Democracy (Motherboard)

    The ‘social media revolution’ gave us Donald Trump and Brexit—and is making politics impossible.

    David Golumbia discusses the changes to democracy associated with social media.

    least reasonable parts of our minds, on which a democratic public sphere depends. It speaks instead to the emotional, reactive, quick-fix parts of us, that are satisfied by images and clicks that look pleasing, that feed our egos, and that make us think we are heroic. But too often these feelings come at the expense of the deep thinking, planning, and interaction that democratic politics are built from. This doesn’t mean reasoned debate can’t happen online; of course it can and does. It means that there is a strong tendency—what media and technology researchers call an “affordance”—away from dispassionate debate and toward strong emotions.

    He argues that we have lost the ability to think slowly, therefore making us more susceptible to irrational decisions.

    In 2007 and again in 2008, Kahneman gave a class in “Thinking, About Thinking” to a powerful group of executives from companies like Google, Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia Microsoft, and Amazon (he also gave another talk about “Thinking, Fast and Slow” at Google in 2011). Kahneman is well known for bringing public awareness to the distinction between so-called “System 1” and “System 2” thinking. System 2 is good old fashioned, actual, “slow” thinking, it’s “effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, conscious.” System 2 is the kind of rational cogitation we like to imagine we do all the time. System 1 is “fast” thinking, fight or flight, “automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, subconscious.” Facebook and Twitter are built on System 1, as is most social media. That’s why so many tech executives were at those master classes. And that’s what they learned there: How to craft media that talks to System 1 and bypasses System 2.

    Golumbia describes this as a ‘revolution’

    Those who celebrated the Facebook revolution and the Twitter revolution were celebrating the replacement of (relatively) calm reflection with the politics of reactivity and passion. This domination of System 2 by System 1 thinking is the real social media “revolution.” The question that remains is whether democracies have both the will, and the means to bring considered thought back to politics, or, whether digital technology has made politics impossible.

    Bookmarked Thoughts as nest eggs (austinkleon.com)

    By simply writing down a thought, you encourage more thoughts to come. When you have enough thoughts pushed together in the same space — a collage of thoughts, juxtaposed — they often lead to something totally new. This is the magic of writing.

    Austin Kleon continues his reading of Thoreau, this time sharing a quote discussing the idea of writing as a way of rescuing thought. He extends with the idea of the ‘nest egg’, an idea that produces new (and original) ideas.
    Listened CM 095: Olivia Cabane and Judah Pollack on Breakthrough Thinking from Curious Minds Podcast

    Breakthroughs can take our work to new and exciting places, yet they rarely happen as often as we’d like. Are there ways to prompt these kinds of moments, so we can create them more often? Olivia Fox Cabane and Judah Pollack tell us how in their book, The Net and the Butterfly: The Art and Practice of Breakthrough Thinking.

    There are four four types of breakthroughs: Eureka, Metaphor, Intuitive and Paradigm. Just as we build up resistance at a gym, Olivia Cabane and Judah Pollack talk about taking time to extend our neuroplasticity by breaking with our usual practices and embrace all the parts of the self. Three *super-tools* the authors talk about to support this include gratitude, altruism and meditation. In some ways this touches upon Doug Belshaw’s idea of [serendipity surface](http://discours.es/2016/increasing-your-serendipity-surface).