How might a more holistic scientific process broaden our perception of the natural world and inform subsequent understanding, resulting in a deep reconnection with the Earth? This promising and informative film will be based on the book Animate Earth by ecologist Stephan Harding: the story of Earth's functioning as a self-regulating, living being and of our inherent human, spiritual, moral and physical connection to that story. Stephan Harding holds a doctorate in ecology from the University of Oxford and is co-ordinator of the MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College, Devon, England.
His book is a brilliant synthesis of Gaian science and forward-looking social theory and argues that we need to establish a right relationship with the planet as a living entity in which we are indissolubly embedded and to which, in the final analysis, we are all accountable. Animate Earth will sensitively explore and convey an emerging new scientific understanding on both an intellectual and an emotional level. Holistic science focuses, amongst other things, on the qualities of organisms, on process and form, which constitutes visual subject matter, often in movement.
The labarynthical, interwoven impression that a film invokes, combining images and sound, is a perfect medium for communicating this. With unrefined enthusiasm, Stephan will integrate rational scientific analysis with intuition, sensing and feeling. He replaces the objectifying language found in some forms of scientific inquiry with a way of speaking about Earth as a sentient and living being rather than as a dead, inert mechanism. He conveys the facts by way of wry wit, uncanny and effective humour, and intellectual passion. In literally bringing science to life, atoms, for example, are described using metaphors of human-to-human relationships such as marriage, attraction and repulsion so as to imbue rocks, water and the atmosphere with personality. The ancient forests, moorlands, and seacoast of England will provide the location for the majority of the filming. Live action footage of Stephan enthusiastically revealing to us the planet's systems as evidenced in the natural world around him will give depth and character to the film. Some of Stephan's factual and engagingly presented lectures will be highlighted with animated sequences.
The film will also include interviews with authorities eminent in their scientific fields, such as James Lovelock, Brian Goodwin, Vandana Shiva, Satish Kumar, Arthur Zajonc, Joanna Macy, Craig Holdredge, and Fritjof Capra. It is our hope that this film will reach out to individuals and groups worldwide. The scope and content of this film can offer a new and much-needed perspective for visualizing positive change in the face of Earth's diminishments. We are marketing the film to public television, high school and college science departments (to offer students and teachers another point of view within the context of scientific inquiry), local community events and as a DVD. A teacher's film content outline, student workbook with questions and projects and a curriculum guide with a resource listing will be provided to schools. Our survival as a species hangs on an interdependence with the earth: there is a need to not only rationally understand the reasons behind global warming but to re-connect with our planet as individuals and as a species. This documentary will encourage and enable the viewer to begin this process by readdressing the way they perceive the earth through the lens of holistic science and Harding's understanding and wisdom.
Rethinking Education as the Practice of Freedom: Paulo Freire and the Promise of Critical Pedagogy
Sunday 03 January 2010
by: Henry A. Giroux, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
Paulo Freire and Henry A. Giroux, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1981. (Photo: Henry A. Giroux)
Paulo Freire is one of the most important critical educators of the 20th century. Not only is he considered one of the founders of critical pedagogy, but he also played a crucial role in developing a highly successful literacy campaign in Brazil before the onslaught of the junta in 1964. Once the military took over the government, Freire was imprisoned for a short time for his efforts. He eventually was released and went into exile, primarily in Chile and later in Geneva, Switzerland, for a number of years. Once a semblance of democracy returned to Brazil, he went back to his country in 1980 and played a significant role in shaping its educational policies until his untimely death in 1997. His book, "Pedagogy of the Oppressed," is considered one of the classic texts of critical pedagogy, and has sold over a million copies, influencing generations of teachers and intellectuals both in the United States and abroad. Since the 1980s, there has been no intellectual on the North American educational scene who has matched either his theoretical rigor or his moral courage. Most schools and colleges of education are now dominated by conservative ideologies, hooked on methods, slavishly wedded to instrumentalized accountability measures and run by administrators who lack either a broader vision or critical understanding of education as a force for strengthening the imagination and expanding democratic public life.
Is there a role for Critical Pedagogy in Language/Culture Studies?
An interview with Henry A. Giroux
BY Manuela Guilherme
Centro de Estudos Sociais
Universidade de Coimbra
Henry Giroux became established as a leading figure in radical education theory in the 1980s. Not only did he revive the arguments for civic education proposed by the main educational theorists of the 20th century, namely Dewey, Freire and others such as the reconstructionists Counts, Rugg and Brameld, but he also advanced their theories by expanding them into the idea of a ‘border pedagogy’. His proposal can be viewed as the application of a post-colonial cosmopolitan perspective to the North American notion of democratic civic education. Giroux provides us with a vision for education that addresses the challenges which demographically and politically changing western societies are facing at the beginning of the 21st century. The longer it takes for policy makers in education to take his guidance seriously, the more time and possibilities we will all be wasting and missing. In fact, educators at all levels of the educational system and all over the world are experiencing growing de-motivation and even frustration because they feel they have been forced backwards lately instead of moving forwards in challenging themselves, both as professionals and citizens, to meet the needs of our fast-changing societies. Giroux has urged educators and academics to react against these paralysing pressures and to be critical, creative and hopeful about the potential that both they and their students offer, in order to counter the conservative political tendencies which have been imposing a definition of excellence in education that means submission to market pressures rather than educational excellence in terms of innovative intellectual production. Giroux argues for both critique and possibility in education and advocates independence and responsibility for teachers and students, that is, he claims dignity and respect for educational institutions, teachers and students. Giroux has bravely recovered the political nature of the everyday labor of educational researchers and of educators themselves. Furthermore, Giroux has also eloquently theorized a critical pedagogy of Cultural Studies based on what was proposed by the educationalist Raymond Williams himself. In fact, the field of Cultural Studies has been problematised, and is itself problematic, although very rich and promising, since it has broken down the barriers between disciplines. Therefore, it needs to be fully theorised in order to describe its goals, as well as the bases of its knowledge and processes. Giroux has made important contributions to these processes by mapping the relationships between language, text, society, new technologies and underlying power structures. He has thus responded to its critics and to those academics who have adhered to it in order to follow fashion or find a way out of their now neglected traditional disciplines. In addition, he has indicated new paths that go beyond recuperating Williams’ and Hall’s politically committed and scientifically founded new field of Cultural Studies and move into examining the implications of new technologies in the exchange and re-creation of new knowledge within new power relationships. It is nonetheless worth mentioning that Giroux has also been successful in identifying new modes of representation and learning.
Giroux has indeed advanced a new school of thought and inspired both educational theorists and practitioners into action with his powerful, vibrant and committed voice. By advocating a pedagogy of responsibility, he has himself taken responsibility for his own political and social role as an academic. He has focused his sights on redefining and strengthening the notion of ‘the public’ with regard to knowledge, education and civic life, mainly by incorporating into the construction of those fields the concepts of ‘public time’ and ‘public arena’. While most educational theorists have focussed on the influence of society on the educational context, Giroux, although critically unveiling the political and economic forces that threaten academic and school independence and creativity, is more daring and clearly draws our attention to the transformative potential of the academy and the school within wider a society. In doing so, he recaptures the political in the pedagogical. Finally, even though he focuses his discourse on general education, civic education and cultural studies, Giroux’s proposals for educational theory and practice offer language and intercultural communication theorists and practitioners a basis for renewing their visions and practices. Having made these points, in an attempt to contextualize Giroux’s statements below, it is now time to let his voice emerge.
Rethinking the Promise of Critical Education Under an Obama Regime
Henry Giroux: Rethinking the Promise of Critical Education Under an Obama Regime
Tuesday 02 December 2008
by: Chronis Polychroniou, t r u t h o u t | Interview
In the most general sense, I understand education as a moral and political practice whose purpose is not only to introduce students to the great reservoir of diverse intellectual ideas and traditions, but also to engage those inherited bodies of knowledge thorough critical dialogue, analysis and comprehension. At the same time, education is a set of social experiences and an ethical space through which it becomes possible to rethink what Jacques Derrida once called the concepts of the "possible and the impossible," and to enable what Jacques Rancière calls loosening the coordinates of the sensible through a constant reexamination of the boundaries that distinguish the sensible from the subversive. Both theorists are concerned with how the boundaries of knowledge and everyday life are constructed in ways that seem unquestionable, making it necessary not only to interrogate commonsense assumptions, but also to ask what it means to question such assumptions and see beyond them. As a political and moral practice, education always presupposes a vision of the future in its introduction to, preparation for and legitimization of particular forms of social life, demanding answers to the questions of whose future is affected by these forms. For what ends and to what purposes do they endure?
Theories of Metaphor in Discourse > Contemporary Theories of Metaphor
The four background papers cover some of the major ideas currently active in the field of metaphor. The first paper, Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT), summarises the view of metaphor that has dominated the field since the 1980s, replacing earlier views that saw metaphor as decorative or literary use of language. The other three present recent responses and challenges to this theory.
All approaches share the idea that metaphor involves two concepts or conceptual domains: the Topic (or Target), which is what is being spoken or written about, and the Vehicle (or Source), which is used metaphorically to speak or write about the Topic. The Vehicle (or Source) is distinct from the Topic and its use influences how the Topic is understood.
The theories differ in which aspects of metaphor they emphasis and in their proposals for how metaphor works. CMT (1) emphasises the conceptual, downplaying the language that people actually use. Context-Limited Simulation Theory (CLS - 3) prioritises thoughts and emotions attached to the Vehicle or Source concept and language, seeing these as key to metaphorical meaning. Lexical Concepts and Cognitive Models Theory (LCCM - 4) does something similar, with the idea of ‘cognitive models’ appearing to be more or less the same as ‘networks of perceptual simulators’. CMT takes a broad view of metaphor, including those conventionalized into language and thought; LCCM rejects all but the strongest Topic / Vehicle contrasts as being metaphorical. The Discourse Dynamics Framework (2) attempts to explain how these variations can be connected into a single framework that takes account of language in use.
Other theories of, and around, metaphor that are widely referenced in the field include (with key names):
Class Inclusion theory of metaphor (Glucksberg & Keysar)
Personal, Political and Pedagogical: Female Faculty and Values-Based Learning Design
Katy Campbell, Personal, Political and Pedagogical: Female Faculty and Values-Based Learning Design, Radical Pedagogy (2003) ISSN: 1524-6345
The present paper generally reflects the experiences of 47 female faculty members in higher education and their use of technology to enhance teaching. There are five vignettes from five faculty members at a large university to illustrate how core values about teaching and learning may be embodied in the design of technology-enhanced learning environments.
The conferencing worked so well for the students. Their assignment was to find a scenario…and a website that could address (and evaluate) that scenario…post this information into a conference and share the information with each other…I was trying to encourage them to interact in that form, believing that…they can…use web-based conferencing as a means of accessing further education and this would give them some of those skills that they can use later…
Social network analysis [SNA] is the mapping and measuring of relationships and flows between people, groups, organizations, computers, URLs, and other connected information/knowledge entities. The nodes in the network are the people and groups while the links show relationships or flows between the nodes. SNA provides both a visual and a mathematical analysis of human relationships. Management consultants use this methodology with their business clients and call it Organizational Network Analysis [ONA].
To understand networks and their participants, we evaluate the location of actors in the network. Measuring the network location is finding the centrality of a node. These measures give us insight into the various roles and groupings in a network -- who are the connectors, mavens, leaders, bridges, isolates, where are the clusters and who is in them, who is in the core of the network, and who is on the periphery?
Social network theory views social relationships in terms of nodes and ties. Nodes are the individual actors within the networks, and ties are the relationships between the actors. There can be many kinds of ties between the nodes. In its most simple form, a social network is a map of all of the relevant ties between the nodes being studied. The network can also be used to determine the social capital of individual actors. These concepts are often displayed in a social network diagram, where nodes are the points and ties are the lines.
Doing Cultural Studies: Youth and the Challenge of Pedagogy
Doing Cultural Studies:
Youth and the Challenge of Pedagogy
By: Henry A. Giroux
[Harvard Educational Review 64:3 (Fall 1994), pp. 278-308.]
In our society, youth is present only when its presence is a problem, or is regarded as a problem. More precisely, the category "youth" gets mobilized in official documentary discourse, in concerned or outraged editorials and features, or in the supposedly disinterested tracts emanating from the social sciences at those times when young people make their presence felt by going "out of bounds", by resisting through rituals, dressing strangely, striking bizarre attitudes, breaking rules, breaking bottles, windows, heads, issuing rhetorical challenges to the law.
Learning Path >>>> reflects value system surrounding education from a Western cultural perspective
Exploratory Journey >>> typically one of pursuit - the pursuit of truth, seeking and finding.
George Lakoff (linguist) and Mark Johnson (philosopher) 1989 - More than Cool Reason.
Metaphors as Cognitive processing and embodied mind.
Lakoff's original thesis on conceptual metaphor was expressed in his book with Mark Johnson entitled Metaphors We Live By in 1980.
Metaphor has been seen within the Western scientific tradition as purely a linguistic construction. The essential thrust of Lakoff's work has been the argument that metaphors are primarily a conceptual construction, and indeed are central to the development of thought. He says, "Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature." Non-metaphorical thought is for Lakoff only possible when we talk about purely physical reality. For Lakoff the greater the level of abstraction the more layers of metaphor are required to express it. People do not notice these metaphors for various reasons. One reason is that some metaphors become 'dead' and we no longer recognize their origin. Another reason is that we just don't "see" what is "going on".
For Lakoff, the development of thought has been the process of developing better metaphors. The application of one domain of knowledge to another domain of knowledge offers new perceptions and understandings.
Lakoff's theory has applications throughout all academic disciplines and much of human social interaction. Lakoff has explored some of the implications of the embodied mind thesis in a number of books, most written with coauthors.
When Lakoff claims the mind is "embodied", he is arguing that almost all of human cognition, up through the most abstract reasoning, depends on and makes use of such concrete and "low-level" facilities as the sensorimotor system and the emotions. Therefore embodiment is a rejection not only of dualism vis-a-vis mind and matter, but also of claims that human reason can be basically understood without reference to the underlying "implementation details".
Lakoff offers three complementary but distinct sorts of arguments in favor of embodiment. First, using evidence from neuroscience and neural network simulations, he argues that certain concepts, such as color and spatial relation concepts (e.g. "red" or "over"; see also qualia), can be almost entirely understood through the examination of how processes of perception or motor control work.
Second, based on cognitive linguistics' analysis of figurative language, he argues that the reasoning we use for such abstract topics as warfare, economics, or morality is somehow rooted in the reasoning we use for such mundane topics as spatial relationships. (See conceptual metaphor.)
Finally, based on research in cognitive psychology and some investigations in the philosophy of language, he argues that very few of the categories used by humans are actually of the black-and-white type amenable to analysis in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions. On the contrary, most categories are supposed to be much more complicated and messy, just like our bodies.
"We are neural beings," Lakoff states, "Our brains take their input from the rest of our bodies. What our bodies are like and how they function in the world thus structures the very concepts we can use to think. We cannot think just anything — only what our embodied brains permit."
Many scientists share the belief that there are problems with falsifiability and foundation ontologies purporting to describe "what exists", to a sufficient degree of rigor to establish a reasonable method of empirical validation. But Lakoff takes this further to explain why hypotheses built with complex metaphors cannot be directly falsified. Instead, they can only be rejected based on interpretations of empirical observations guided by other complex metaphors. This is what he means when he says, in "The Embodied Mind", that falsifiability itself can never be established by any reasonable method that would not rely ultimately on a shared human bias. The bias he's referring to is the set of conceptual metaphors governing how people interpret observations.
Lakoff is, with coauthors Mark Johnson and Rafael E. Núñez, one of the primary proponents of the embodied mind thesis. Others who have written about the embodied mind include philosopher Andy Clark (See his Being There), philosopher and neurobiologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela and his student Evan Thompson (See Varela, Thompson & Rosch's "The Embodied Mind"), roboticists such as Rodney Brooks, Rolf Pfeifer and Tom Ziemke, the physicist David Bohm (see his Thought As A System), Ray Gibbs (see his "Embodiment and Cognitive Science"), John Grinder and Richard Bandler in their neuro-linguistic programming, and Julian Jaynes. All of these writers can be traced back to earlier philosophical writings, most notably in the phenomenological tradition, such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Heidegger.