The Glory of the Commons by Timothy Noah July/ August 2013The Glory of the Commons Jonathan Rowe’s brilliant posthumous meditation on the shared, non-commercialized realms of life that sustain us. By Timothy Noah Our Common Wealth: The Hidden Economy That Makes Everything Else Work by Jonathan Rowe Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 123 pp. One of the sharper satirical jabs in People, a recent play by the English writer Alan Bennett, occurs when a consortium of wealthy investors decides to purchase Winchester Cathedral. “I know it’s pricey,” says an absurdly practical-minded archdeacon, “but Winchester is such a good idea.” What makes the joke funny is our understanding that a hallowed monument like Winchester Cathedral could never belong to anyone but the public. Jonathan Rowe, alongside whom I worked at the Washington Monthly in the early 1980s, and who died two years ago at the distressingly young age of sixty-five, would describe Winchester Cathedral as part of “the commons.” Hardin’s theory was not without value.
Debunking the Genius Myth Picture a “genius” — you’ll probably conjure an image of an Einstein-like character, an older man in a rumpled suit, disorganized and distracted even as he, almost accidentally, stumbles upon his next “big idea.” In truth, the acclaimed scientist actually said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” But the narrative around Einstein and a lot of accomplished geniuses — think Ben Franklin, the key and the bolt of lightning — tends to focus more on mind-blowing talent and less on the hard work behind the rise to success. Harvard-educated tutors Hunter Maats and Katie O’Brien began to notice that this belief about being born smart was creating a lot of frustration for the kids they tutored, and sometimes unwittingly reinforced by their parents. “Kids are sent to school with no manual on how to use their brains. Maats and O’Brien knew about all the research, and began sharing information about learning and the brain with their students. Related
What Isn’t for Sale? - Michael J. Sandel Market thinking so permeates our lives that we barely notice it anymore. A leading philosopher sums up the hidden costs of a price-tag society. There are some things money can’t buy—but these days, not many. • A prison-cell upgrade: $90 a night. • Access to the carpool lane while driving solo: $8. • The services of an Indian surrogate mother: $8,000. • The right to shoot an endangered black rhino: $250,000. • Your doctor’s cellphone number: $1,500 and up per year. • The right to emit a metric ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere: $10.50. • The right to immigrate to the United States: $500,000. Not everyone can afford to buy these things. • Sell space on your forehead to display commercial advertising: $10,000. • Serve as a human guinea pig in a drug-safety trial for a pharmaceutical company: $7,500. • Fight in Somalia or Afghanistan for a private military contractor: up to $1,000 a day. • If you are a second-grader in an underachieving Dallas school, read a book: $2. Michael J.
Rita F. Pierson: WATCH: How A Teacher Encouraged Her Students With An 'F' TED and The Huffington Post are excited to bring you TEDWeekends, a curated weekend program that introduces a powerful "idea worth spreading" every Friday, anchored in an exceptional TEDTalk. This week's TEDTalk is accompanied by an original blog post from the featured speaker, along with new op-eds, thoughts and responses from the HuffPost community. Watch the talk above, read the blog post and tell us your thoughts below. This blog was produced in collaboration with TED for the TED Talks Education Special. Teachers don't make a lot of money. In the spring of my career, I found myself questioning the choice of my life's work. I was on a plane recently and the flight attendant asked my name. I most certainly realize the extreme importance of being a competent teacher. For every student that finally "got it," for every rookie teacher that said, "you inspired me to stay," I get the raise that never quite made it to my paycheck. -- Rita F. Ideas are not set in stone.
Bondsy and the Modern Myth of Barter In the first chapters of every Economics 101 textbook there’s a misleading hypothetical about the origins of money. David Graeber, in his book Debt: The First 5,000 Years calls it “the founding myth of our system of economic relations.” This myth is so pervasive that even people who have never taken an Economics 101 class know, and believe in, this myth. We tend to assume that before money there was this awkward barter system where you had to keep all your chickens and yams with you when you went to market to buy a calf. If the person selling the calf didn’t want chicken or yams, no transaction would take place. Currencies are a good way of making transactions among people you don’t know or actively dislike. Gold and silver coins are distinguished from credit arrangements by one spectacular feature: they can be stolen. Enter Bondsy. Bondsy creator and CEO Diego Zambrano. Karl Marx observed that we tend to think of exchange value as some sort of natural, objective phenomenon.
What we can learn from Finland’s successful school reform Finland came from behind to become the world leader in student achievement. Their strategy is the opposite of what we’re doing in America. Illustration by M. Glenwood One wonders what we might accomplish as a nation if we could finally set aside what appears to be our de facto commitment to inequality, so profoundly at odds with our rhetoric of equity, and put the millions of dollars spent continually arguing and litigating into building a high-quality education system for all children. To imagine how that might be done, one can look at nations that started with very little and purposefully built highly productive and equitable systems, sometimes almost from scratch, in the space of only two to three decades. As an example, I am going to briefly describe how Finland built a strong educational system, nearly from the ground up. The Finnish Success Story —Linda Darling-Hammond Strategies for Reform Resources for those who need them most. High standards and supports for special needs.
New Study of Foragers Undermines Claim That War Has Deep Evolutionary Roots | Cross-Check One of the most insidious modern memes holds that war is innate, an adaptation bred into our ancestors by natural selection. This hypothesis—let’s call it the “Deep Roots Theory of War”–has been promoted by such intellectual heavyweights as Steven Pinker, Edward Wilson, Jared Diamond, Richard Wrangham, Francis Fukuyama and David Brooks. *[After reading this post, please see followup posts: "New Study of Prehistoric Skeletons Undermines Claim that War Has Deep Evolutionary Roots," "Survey of Earliest Human Settlements Undermines Claims That War Has Deep Evolutionary Roots."] "Killer ape" scene in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey has no basis in fact. The Deep Roots Theory addresses not just violent human aggression in general but a particular manifestation of it, involving attacks by one group against another. Pinker claims in his bestseller Better Angels of Our Nature that “chronic raiding and feuding characterize life in a state of nature.” Further Reading:
What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success - Anu Partanen The Scandinavian country is an education superpower because it values equality more than excellence. Sergey Ivanov/Flickr Everyone agrees the United States needs to improve its education system dramatically, but how? One of the hottest trends in education reform lately is looking at the stunning success of the West's reigning education superpower, Finland. Trouble is, when it comes to the lessons that Finnish schools have to offer, most of the discussion seems to be missing the point. The small Nordic country of Finland used to be known -- if it was known for anything at all -- as the home of Nokia, the mobile phone giant. Finland's schools owe their newfound fame primarily to one study: the PISA survey, conducted every three years by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). And yet it wasn't clear that Sahlberg's message was actually getting through. Yet one of the most significant things Sahlberg said passed practically unnoticed. Herein lay the real shocker.
Machines Can't Flow: The Difference Between Mechanical and Human Productivity - Linda Stone More output, produced faster may be great metrics for machines, but for homo sapiens, the most powerful metric is engagement. Workers punching the clock at the SKF roller bearing factory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Library of Congress) At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, it seemed machines could do anything. At that time, productivity experts predicted that machines and new technologies would mean we'd only have to work four hours a day. But, as we all know, that's not what has happened. Instead, the definition of human productivity merged with the definition of machine productivity: more work, faster pace, more efficiently. We tend to think of productivity as maximizing output or quantity. A few years ago in a set of interviews, I asked people if they managed their time, their attention, or both. Mid-level managers talked about their best practices for time-management, and at the same time, expressed their concerns: "I just can't get it all done. What if we rethink productivity?
Finnish Education Chief: 'We Created a School System Based on Equality' - Christine Gross-Loh Finnish education often seems paradoxical to outside observers because it appears to break a lot of the rules we take for granted. Finnish children don’t begin school until age 7. They have more recess, shorter school hours than many U.S. children do (nearly 300 fewer hours per year in elementary school), and the lightest homework load of any industrialized nation. There are no gifted programs, almost no private schools, and no high-stakes national standardized tests. Yet over the past decade Finland has consistently performed among the top nations on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to 15-year olds in 65 nations and territories around the world. I recently accompanied Krista Kiuru, Finland’s minister of education and science, when she visited the Eliot K-8 Innovation School in Boston, and asked her what Finland is doing that we could learn from. I visited four Finnish schools while researching my book Parenting Without Borders.
Companies Need To Pay People More MOOCs as a Gathering Place | Sloan-C eLearning Landscape At a recent conference, David Wiley, open education pioneer said that MOOCs (massive open online courses) were essentially 1999 online learning with the password protection taken away. He’s certainly not alone in his dislike of all things MOOC – and no wonder. In the last three years the theory-work of decades of educators has been ignored and co-opted. I have a complex relationship with the word MOOC. We are all aware, at this point, that the Internet has ushered us into a powerful moment in the history of learning. Access to information, however, is not the real transformative change that excites me about learning on the Internet. Compare that to my hometown in Northern New Brunswick, Canada. In my hometown the easiest way to start a gathering from amoungst those connections was to light a fire on the beach. This is the revelation hidden in the word MOOC. You can argue that 500 does not massive make and there are certainly courses that are larger by factors in size. Written by
THE ECONOMY: Time For Companies To Pay Their Employees More Writing In The 21st Century What are the arts but products of the human mind which resonate with our aesthetic and emotional faculties? What are social issues, but ways in which humans try to coordinate their behavior and come to working arrangements that benefit everyone? There's no aspect of life that cannot be illuminated by a better understanding of the mind from scientific psychology. (37 minutes) Introduction Psychologist Steven Pinker's 1994 book The Language Instinct discussed all aspects of language in a unified, Darwinian framework, and in his next book, How The Mind Works he did the same for the rest of the mind, explaining "what the mind is, how it evolved, and how it allows us to see, think, feel, laugh, interact, enjoy the arts, and ponder the mysteries of life". He has written four more consequential books: Words and Rules (1999), The Blank Slate (2002), The Stuff of Thought (2007), and The Better Angels of Our Nature (2011). —John Brockman Writing is inherently a topic in psychology.