Sunday, July 29, 2018

Maker Culture and Youth

One of the most enjoyable essays I've ever put together was for Jennifer Jenson's Cultural Studies of Educational Technology course. From the syllabus:
This course will approach technologies both old and new through a mostly asynchronous online course. The premise of this course is that media have never been separable from what we purport to teach (i.e. curriculum “content”). 
As a way to demonstrate this, we will trace a path through the history of pedagogy via the educational “technologies” or “media” deployed at various times and for various purposes: from orality to recitation to literacy to online courses, cultural conceptions of the relative value of “knowledge” have found very different shapes in school curriculum and practices.

This course will pay particular attention to the educative possibilities for new and emergent digital media, asking whether and how “content” reshaped, re-mediated and invariably altered by these technological affordances, enacting shifts in not only how we learn and teach, but what counts as “knowledge”
The course, then, will be an exercise in the very thing it proposes to study: how a shift in media (this time to largely screen-based course delivery) will necessarily change what it is we come to know and how we know it as part of our learning together at distances. 
We will primarily focus on the design, development and practical implementation of digital technologies for education. In doing so, we will more fully explore the notion of “techne”, that is technologies as fundamentally constructive rather than receptive media for consumption.
The week's activity asked us to think about the assigned readings on "Maker Culture and Youth" through the medium of comics (arranging images in multi-panel form, with text in word balloons, using the app Comic Life). This was the result (and yes, that's me in full mullet)...

(Click on to read the rest of the comic...)

The Remedy

Lyric poetry, sez Wikipedia,
is a formal type of poetry which expresses personal emotions or feelings, typically spoken in the first person. The term derives from a form of Ancient Greek literature, the lyric, which was defined by its musical accompaniment, usually on a stringed instrument known as a lyre. The term owes its importance in literary theory to the division developed by Aristotle between three broad categories of poetry: lyrical, dramatic, and epic.
As much of a sucker as I am for the latter two, sometimes the lyre can strike a chord.

Out at my local for Sunday brunch, I heard Jason Mraz's "The Remedy" come over the Spotify. 
...We will cure this dirty old disease
Well, if you've got the poison, I've got the remedy
The remedy is the experience
This is a dangerous liaison
I say the comedy is that it's serious
This is a strange enough new play on words
I say the tragedy is how you're gonna spend
The rest of your nights with the light on
So shine the light on all of your friends
Well, it all amounts to nothing in the end
I won't worry my life away....
"The remedy is the experience" – vaccination in a nutshell.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Story of the Great Hunger

"In the storytelling tradition of my people, stories were not told only once, but were repeated often. New details emerged with each telling, and listeners caught different insights as they met old stories as different selves." – Tererai Trent
I just finished reading a book that fulfils the printed word's ancient dream of carrying voices to ears that need to hear them.

Tererai Trent's is a warm and resounding voice for women’s empowerment and quality education. Due to colonial priorities and traditional women’s roles in rural Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), Tererai did not have the chance to go to school as a child. Undeterred, she taught herself to read and write from her brother’s schoolbooks while herding cattle. Despite being married young and bearing four children by the time she was eighteen, her determination took her all the way to earning a PhD from the College of Public Health at Western Michigan University, on HIV prevention in Sub-Saharan Africa with a special focus on women and girls.

Dr. Trent's book The Awakened Woman—Remembering & Reigniting Our Sacred Dreams won the 2018 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Instructional. She is invited all over the world to share her story (including a keynote speech at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit), and to lead the global charge for quality education for all children and women’s rights.

Listen to her storytelling in her own voice (the printed word below begins around the two-minute mark).

"But now the sun has set, and I am warm from the food and fire with the moon rising high in the vast night sky.

Tonight there are no sounds of gunfire from those who are fighting for our independence, or from the white minority who have ruled since the late nineteenth century. And so we women and girls sit, muscles and tongues loose in the comfort of our togetherness, and, as my people have done for generations, we sing songs and tell stories, As the stories warm our hearts we momentarily forget our pain, our struggles, and the impending danger of war. We are enshrined in a circle of healing.

"On this night, my grandmother tells a story that was to become part of my psyche even then as a young girl, binding itself to me at the deepest cellular and spiritual level of my being. 'The indigenous hunter-gatherer people of Southern Africa from the Kalahari Desert,' my grandmother begins, and I nestle the weight of my hips and thighs down deeper into the earth and lean closer to her in anticipation of her tale. 'They believe that there is more to life than the material world,' she continues. 'The men and women there describe two kinds of hunger: the Little Hunger and the Great Hunger.'

Love this painting wherein you see me smear'd

The Stratford Festival and Ex Machina's technical pros get a CrossFit workout with Robert Lepage's Coriolanus

A behind-the-scenes on the show's infrared-tracking, projection-mapped "video sandwich":

And here's a reminder that you've got to have atoms to pixel on: