Sunday, February 26, 2012

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Saturday 25 February 2012
Bill Moyers | How Pop Culture Influences Political Expectations
Bill Moyers, Moyers & Co.: "Film historian and culture critic Neal Gabler joins Bill Moyers to discuss how representations of heroism in movies shape our expectations of a U.S. president, and how our real-world candidates are packaged into superficial, two-dimensional personas designed to appeal to both the electorate and the media. As a result, says Gabler, we never get to the true pressing questions and issues of America."
Read the Article and Watch the Video

Remembering the Context of War Crimes: The Crime of War Itself
Camillo "Mac" Bica, Truthout: "War cannot be understood, rationally or intellectually, by watching a film or by reading a book. To ‘know’ war, you have to experience it, live it, feel it in your gut - the anxiety, fear, frustration, boredom, hopelessness, despair, anger, rage, etcetera. In truth, warriors exist in a world totally incomprehensible to those who have never had the misfortune of experiencing the horrors of the battlefield."
Read the Article

Neither Stimulus Nor Austerity Will Solve This Crisis: A Third Way?
Steven Hill, Truthout: "Few subjects have so bitterly divided our insecure times than the double-edged saber of stimulus vs. austerity. Consensus over which course will lift the current economic malaise has eluded the dueling experts. Without clearer signals of success, many nations have tried a confused mix of both - let’s call it ‘aust-imulus.’"
Read the Article

A Woman's Womb: America's New Sports Arena
Connie Schultz, Truthout: "I always have thought my birth control was a whole lot of nobody's business. However, Santorum and that all-male panel of pontificates at the recent congressional hearing make clear that silence is not an option. Not if I - not if we - want subsequent generations of women to live long, healthy lives."
Read the Article

Top Five Initiatives to Watch Ahead of California's November Election
Rene Ciria-Cruz, New America Media: "Thus far, voters will have two ballot initiatives to decide on in the June primary and three in November. However, deadlines are looming to get other initiatives on the ballot and people are quickly gathering signatures for the 65 petitions so far in circulation. [Here] are five contentious petitions that would have far-reaching impacts on ethnic communities if they make it onto the November ballot."
Read the Article

How Economists Tally Unemployment - and Its Affect on the Black Jobless Rate
Shani O. Hilton and Hatty Lee, ColorLines: "When the black unemployment numbers dropped so steeply in January - from 15.7 to 12.7 percent - a lot of analysts were scratching their heads to figure out why. One told us that it was ‘quite surprising,’ but there would be no way to know what the numbers meant or whether they were accurate until we saw if the trend continued in later months. But why is that? We dug a little deeper into the process of tracking joblessness to find out."
Read the Article

The Republican Brain: Why Even Educated Conservatives Deny Science - and Reality
Chris Mooney, AlterNet: "I can still remember when I first realized how naïve I was in thinking - hoping -that laying out the ‘facts’ would suffice to change politicized minds, and especially Republican ones. It was a typically wonkish, liberal revelation: One based on statistics and data. Only this time, the data were showing, rather awkwardly, that people ignore data and evidence - and often, knowledge and education only make the problem worse."
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Cash of the Titans: Against the Noxious Fantasy of Limitless Growth
Phil Rockstroh, Pacific Free Press: "The concept of endless economic growth, accepted as sacrosanct by both U.S. mainstream political parties, and internalized as the dominant mode of mind by the general population of the corporate/consumer state is mirrored in the exponential mathematics of a malignancy. Cancer, if given voice, would proclaim itself to be a believer in ‘free market values’…devoted to the principle of endless growth…until, of course, it would silence its own voice by killing its host."
Read the Article

Debt of Gratitude: Less Earning, More Learning
Randall Amster, New Clear Vision: "I’d like to share a story, a personal story, a common story, an American story. For nearly two decades, I have carried the burden of a crushing student loan debt, well over six figures and impossible for me to fathom paying off in this lifetime…. I suspect that many people burdened by debt feel similarly and are often constrained to bear the pressures silently."
Read the Article

Does College Make Us Less Equipped to Change the World?
Sara Robinson, AlterNet: "In this great meritocracy of ours, those of us who’ve made it through college are encouraged to feel like we’re something special…. It sounds weird and counterintuitive, but in my work with progressive organizations, I’ve noticed some specific ways in which the kind of thinking we learned in our classrooms actually makes us kinda dumb politically. Here are a few places college grads often seem to get led astray by their own educations."
Read the Article

Education as "Politically Contested Spaces"
Paul Thomas, The Daily Censored: "Teachers have long been prone to being the tool of other people’s actions … To pretend to be objective, to wave off or deny the politics of teaching and learning, to shrug off our voices because we must do as we are told are all political concessions to those in power who are the ones using their politics to beg for our silence and inaction."
Read the Article

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The BuzzFlash commentary for Truthout will return soon. 10 Reasons the GOP Wants to Ditch the Constitution
Read the Blog at BuzzFlash

Two Americans Killed as Afghan Unrest Enters Fifth Day
Read the Article at The New York Times

Gay Judge Refuses to Marry Straight People? Four Ways Sane Lawmakers Are Fighting Back in the Culture Wars
Read the Article at Alternet

Santorum: Obama "a Snob" for Wanting Everyone to Go to College
Read the Article at Talking Points Memo

The Two Sides of Rick Santorum
Read the Article at the Los Angeles Times

American Households Not as Reckless as You Think
Read the Article at Mother Jones

Romney Fails His Own "Moral Responsibility" Test, Can’t Balance His Campaign’s Budget
Read the Article at ThinkProgress

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ignoring Poverty in the U.S. || Information Age Publishing

Ignoring Poverty in the U.S. || Information Age Publishing

Daily Kos: Rethinking Teacher Quality and Metrics-mania

Daily Kos: Rethinking Teacher Quality and Metrics-mania

Salem Press: Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Heroes and Superheroes

I have three entries in this soon-to-be-released set:

Critical Survey of Graphic Novels
Editors: Bart H. Beaty, University of Calgary, &
Stephen Weiner, Maynard Public Library, MA

April 2012 · 2 vol. · 1,000 pages · 8" x 10" 

Includes Online Database with Print Purchase

ISBN: 978-1-58765-865-5
Print List Price: $295

e-ISBN: 978-1-58765-869-3
eBook Single User Price: $295
Critical Survey of Graphic Novels
Heroes and Superheroes
130 essays covering graphic novels and core comics series that form today's canon for academic coursework and library collections, with a focus on the hero/superhero genre.
A "first" in the field, this brand new Critical Survey series focuses on all aspects of the graphic novels genre, aiming to establish it as an important academic discipline and research topic in libraries. Designed for academic institutions, high schools, and public libraries, the series provides unique insight into the stories and themes expressed in historic and current landscape of the graphic novel medium.

Scope and Coverage
The first title in this series, Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Heroes and Superheroes, provides in-depth insight into over 130 of the most popular and studied graphic novels. Researchers will be familiar with the characters and stories included in this collection, but will gain a deeper new understanding, as the literary nature of the stories is presented in critical format by leading writers in the field of study. Essays look beyond the "pop culture" aspects of the medium to show the wide range of literary themes and artistic styles used to convey beliefs and conflicts, some harking back to ancient times. Today's graphic novels expose the vulnerabilities and character flaws that previous comic book stories glossed over or never covered. The impact of death becomes real, as popular heroes are killed, leaving an impact on the remaining characters. The theme of anti-hero runs deep as characters dismiss morality and engage in situations that are not heroic in nature. These concepts challenge the researcher to see beyond the panels of a comic book, showing readers how the themes of ancient literary tradition are still alive in the literature of graphic novels.

Friday, February 3, 2012

CAUTION!: Technology

March 8-9, 2012


CAUTION!: Technology

P. L. Thomas, EdD
Associate Professor of Education
Author Kurt Vonnegut quipped, “Novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex.” As with novels, so with schools, I believe, but we must take one step beyond “whether schools should address technology” to “how.”

In Walden, Henry David Thoreau offered two warnings that should guide how we approach technology: “We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate,” and, “We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us.”

It's a Book, Lane Smith

Shifting from seeking technology for technology's sake to critical technological awareness

Caution: Inflated costs (market forces) in state-of-the-art technology

Caution: Pursuing state-of-the-art technology is self-defeating since "state-of-the-art" is a moving target; teaching students to use state-of-the-art technology fails to recognize that it will be "old" technology once students leave school. Also, state-of-the-art technology has a high risk/reward factor since many "new" gadgets fail and many "new" upgrades fizzle. Consider the storage facilities at schools filled with cables, software, out-dated hardware, and the LaserDisk players that never caught on.

Caution: New technology has inflated costs AND embedded costs related to repair and upgrades.

Caution: Adding new technology or upgrading existing technology requires added time spent for teachers (in-service) and students to learn the technology itself, draining time better served on teaching and learning themselves.

Caution: Research base, although sparse, does not support a positive role for technology in improving teaching/learning, and evidence we have shows teachers rarely use technology provided (EdWeek synthesis of research on technology):
"That study found that most of the schools that have integrated laptops and other digital tools into learning are not maximizing the use of those devices in ways that best make use of their potential."
From "Who really benefits from putting high-tech gadgets in classrooms?" (Los Angeles Times, February 4, 2012):
"Almost every generation has been subjected in its formative years to some 'groundbreaking' pedagogical technology. In the '60s and '70s, 'instructional TV was going to revolutionize everything,' recalls Thomas C. Reeves, an instructional technology expert at the University of Georgia. 'But the notion that a good teacher would be just as effective on videotape is not the case.'
"Many would-be educational innovators treat technology as an end-all and be-all, making no effort to figure out how to integrate it into the classroom. 'Computers, in and of themselves, do very little to aid learning,' Gavriel Salomon of the University of Haifa and David Perkins of Harvard observed in 1996. Placing them in the classroom 'does not automatically inspire teachers to rethink their teaching or students to adopt new modes of learning.'
"...In 2009, the Education Department released a study of whether math and reading software helped student achievement in first, fourth, and sixth grades, based on testing in hundreds of classrooms. The study found that the difference in test scores between the software-using classes and the control group was 'not statistically different from zero.' In sixth-grade math, students who used software got lower test scores — and the effect got significantly worse in the second year of use. "
Caution: Seeking to close GAPS (equity, achievement, technology) found in the lives of children (children in poverty, disadvantaged; children in affluence, privileged) through education presents a paradox: As Walt Gardner has succinctly explained: "Don't forget that advantaged children are not standing still in the interim. They continue to benefit from travel and other enriching learning experiences. As a result, the gap will persist."

Caution: Begin with educational (teaching/learning) NEEDS, not the allure of new technology.


Thomas, P. L. (2012, January 3). A misguided use of money. Room for Debate. The New York Times. 

-----. (2011, December 2). No. At Issue in CQ Researcher, p. 1017.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

NOW AVAILABLE: Politics, Participation & Power Relations

Richard C. Mitchell
Brock University, Canada


Shannon A. Moore (Eds.)
Brock University, Canada

Until recently, youth have become the great absence regarding matters of citizenship, justice, and democracy. Rarely are young people taken up with the important discourses of freedom and citizenship, especially discourses that transcend national boundaries and academic disciplines.

Richard Mitchell and Shannon Moore have put together a brilliant book that not only fills this void, but makes one of the most powerful cases I have read for addressing young people in terms that not only allow them to talk back, be heard, but also to enjoy those rights and freedoms that give democracy a real claim on its ideals and promises. Every educator, parent, student, and all those young people now making their voices heard all over the world should read this book.

Henry A. Giroux

This diverse collection will appeal to students in senior undergraduate and graduate courses looking into the new cosmopolitanism in social policy, citizenship or cultural studies, in child and youth studies, and in post-colonial approaches to education, sociology, and political science.

Critical Issues in the Future of Learning and Teaching Volume 4

ISBN 978-94-6091-742-4 hardback USD99/EUR90

ISBN 978-94-6091-741-7 paperback USD39/EUR35

January 2012, 215 pages

Free Preview
Buy this book at Amazon: paperback | hardback
Amazon International
Buy this book at Barnes & Noble: paperback | hardback