blog (July, 2003)
Been reading about learning lately, thanks much to discovering Seb's Open Research blog. I'm meant to be a teacher here at camp -- in the bunk and in the computer lab -- and I'm trying to figure out the best ways to learn from my campers and peers here as well.
A few good reads, first on some of the Enemies of Learning, by Charles Feltman.
Our inability to admit that we don't know
Julio Olalla: "to be a child is to live in awe of the discovery of domains of action whose existence we were not capable of even anticipating."
When knowing is so highly valued and not knowing devalued, I may assess that admitting I don't know something would cause others to devaule me. This can also prevent me from beginning the learning process.
Ignoring the body as a dimension of learning
New learning changes the body's physiology. Depending on what we learn, it may create changs in the neural structure of the brain, the electrochemistry of our nervou systems, even the shape of the body.
I'm a big believer in motivating the student by getting them excited about the problem and then thrusting them into the problem before they're ready. They have to be unready in just the right amount. If they're too unready it's confusing and they give up.
-- Don Norman, Q&A with Don Norman
Still don't know where I'm headed after camp is over, late August. After a year of shifting about, around Europe, etc, since uni-graduation, I'm ready to settle down a bit and become more seriously involved in a more permanent community and enterprise. I've been thinking SanFran and the west coast in general, or South America, (to continue with Spanish,) but so far I haven't got any leads on jobs or living situations -- mostly because I haven't yet pursued these issues much.
I was thinking Seattle for awhile, as I'd heard much about the city's vitality and the area's natural beauty, but a Seattlite here at camp and has spoken some to me about the city's current downturn. I want to go someplace that is on the rise actively and culturally, but don't have my finger on the pulse of these things.
I've commented often in the past year on noting that nearly all travelling Canadians display prominently their country's flag, generally sewn/ironed into backpack or jacket. My supposition followed that they are tired of being pegged American, and want to distinguish and separate themselves from the stereotypes and assumptions that this pegging brings. I still know so little about my northern neighbor, though -- the one some of us call "America Jr." Today I ran across a well-written essay, My Canada by Stephen Downes leading me to consider venturing further north of the border than simply the casino and bars in Niagara Falls.
What we are seeing today is the beginning of the fruits of our labour. We set out to build a nation based not on a particular language or culture or even a particular geography, but as a set of background assumptions and institutions. Our national character is defined not by some fundamental founding document and predefined identity but rather by the institutions and measures we take in order to ensure well-being and harmony among our people.
In the individual and communitarian sense, the empowerment of the individual means giving that individual the space (and the means - see the first principle) to find, and express, their own identity, to realize their own potential. What we have seen in this nation is that people find their identity in a myriad of ways, some, by preserving and promoting their culture, others, by the free expression of thought and empotion in literature, art or song, others, through an affinity with a higher power, with their ancestors, or with the natural world, and still others by souping up, jacking and racing a Camero.
A few new ones for my 26 things. Don't think I'll finish by the end of July, as the project is meant to be. I'm in quite an enclosed environment here at camp without a car. If I took the camera out on runs with me I'd have a bit more, but it's just not practical.
A bit of a constipated creativity-and-idea environment here, in general, it feels. At least in one vein. I'm doing well learning about the kids I'm living with -- how to better interact with them, how their wheels turn -- but they are young and I am having trouble finding revelations through them. And as far as directions I want to be looking right now... if it weren't for the net, who knows.
First saw the idea on Bone Idle, a fantastic photolog.
Still trying to sort out mode; many a spare moment devoted to checking out what others in the blogworld are discussing -- so many people developing ideas thoroughly about technology and communication convergence, but I can't seem to devote too much time to follow any of my own thoughts through to substance.
Snowplowing through two OS X programming books: working on examples in Building Cocoa Applications on on-duty nights after I finish my other work, (and some off-duty nights too,) and taking in small doses of Cocoa in a Nutshell a couple times a day after I wipe off the bunk toilet seat to sit down.
The plan is to start writing a program I spent time fleshing out while in Spain, but I don't yet feel like I have a stable enough knowledge base to start from.
I have thoughtwanders during runs and daydream time, but they tend to be meanders through the field rather than travels down a path to a little cabin in the wood with dust-covered windows and chimney smoking.
A few times in my life I've felt I really hit upon something, and maybe even put it down in writing. Right now, though, no conclusions, just questions.
So, I spout inabilities because they are my only truths.
Lately I've been striving for balance, and not doing too poorly, but today brought the sensation that I've hit overloaded mode. Switching context too often, and between too many activities -- as a result, I don't perform well in any.
It's tough at the moment to sort out priorities. Counselor-ing, maintaining this computer lab, blogging, programming, running, reading, browsing, socializing, practicing the guitar, etc., are just the top of the list. I've got a full plate of other responsibilities here as well, and though no one's really pressing me hard on all or any of these things, I'm feeling a certain amount of failure. My expectations aren't exceedingly high, that's why I'm frustrated -- I'm not attaining the attainable -- there're just too many of them to take on at once.
So, I haven't got a solution; dilemma strangles my thoughts, and poses as another headache in-and-of itself.
Something has to go?
I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.
-- Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
I like taking the "dig the patterns in this leaf" approach instead of the L-system fractal approach.
Camp director dropped a lot on a terrific fireworks display over the lake tonight.
Tomorrow's my day off. So ready...
Downtime; parents left for Colorado and pulled the plug on the router at home -- that which binds my lifeline, (this machine you're visiting) to the rest of the world. Problem resolved, tho, due to kind neighbors and family.
Nearby the first finca I worked on in Spain there was a bull farm, and the sounds coming from there, (usually around feeding time and throughout the night,) were unreal. A cross between pig squeals, cow moans, and demons in a hollywood horror hell-pit; someone had to be branding them or castrating them or yanking at their nostril rings.
I wrote down in my everpresent pocket notebook that I wanted to record the noises. I've always wished I had a hand-held digital audio recorder, (maybe when the iPod has a built-in mic...) for audio-jotting thoughts, or noting a dream in the night, but then more than ever was there a sound I really wanted to capture.
It would've been a good submission for Quiet American's one minute vacation. "One-minute vacations are unedited recordings of somewhere, somewhen..."