charlie & the plural sight


Poor little Charlie, not exactly the chocolate factory he’s landed in… the next three films this week were disturbing indeed – we seem to have abandoned all sense of utopia and I’m getting depressed! there’s a distinctly grey blue to the week’s view…

when I first saw Sight, a while ago, before the course began, I read it as a pretty funny parody of geekworld – technically very clever, but representing a tired and sad male fantasy of what AI & AR might be good for… I thought, as I tend to do more and more the more I see of such things, what an obscene waste of brain… all that technological clever, for so little social gain… why don’t people use their smarts to solve the real problems of the world, rather than just spend their entire waking lives hmmm

it’s interesting to think about this film though, not only in relation to the idiot advertisements from glassware and software corporations (again, technically brilliant, but socially dysfunctional denial of reality fantasies), but also to articles like this which is exploring these technologies from a school educator’s perspective (thanks for posting this on G+,  Maha)… it’s genuinely troubling sometimes how potentially great applications are just sort of missed, and what is imagined is well, sort of … lame and the same old… and the metaphor of brain as machine just makes me despair..I found this article much more interesting, or perhaps just relevant to my immediate context and concerns…

I kind of skim read Plurality, but took it as a more serious take on the threats of surveillance technology run amok – every single move we might make being monitored by ‘the grid’, the powers that be, Orwellian style… very clever… think I’d definitely rather have crime reduced this way!

I REALLY like the film Charlie though – a kid on the cusp of turning 13 (ie entering the adult world) becomes aware of the reality he has been suspecting for some time when he sees a ‘deserter’ from the hyper-controlled adult world where everyone is micro-chipped, surveilled, and surveilling…. and he rebels, to try and run away and join his long lost father on ‘the other side’…. perhaps because of the realism, this film gave me the strongest sense of  yuk, creepy, and got me thinking most about what happens in educational contexts…

thinking about the Campbell lecture – I love his piss take of the habit of mind in higher education of quantifying what shall be learned and how it shall be learned and demonstrated that it has been learned… I am constantly up to my ears at work in ‘learning outcomes’ discourse and the circularity let alone plurality of policy that tries to prescribe how discrete bits of knowledge and skill shall be named and measured in all courses,  to the point of utterly destroying creativity and joy – it’s so painfully true !

academics are positioned to ‘comply’ with policy and represent their courses in these terms so the institution can tick box away and report itself accountably to its masters as having ‘assured quality’ by demonstrating exactly where and when in curricula cohort X will ‘acquire’ knowledge Y and skill Z… it’s sometimes well intentioned and often utterly absurd, removing all joy, precisely because, as Campbell says, the ‘what’ of student learning is being pre-determined and enforced.

Which is not of course, obviously, to suggest that I think it silly to define topics and resources involved in constructing knowledge in a particular domain, but rather that when the process is designed to curtail the joy of free, creative, agentive discovery learning, we have a problem, Houston

many teachers do feel coerced by management into adopting this mindset – because management have a bean counting mindset and universities have been overrun by corporate speak. It’s not that there’s NO legitimate role for managerialism in universities, it’s just that the balance seems out of whack at the moment, and the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater…


3 comments on “charlie & the plural sight

  1. I share your “love” for Cambell’s lecture: “No, that is not it at all.” 🙂 It is hard to pinpoint what exactly “it is,” but I love his rejecting of everything scripted, measured, categorized, folded, etc. I also wonder how many students ever reach the 4th level of learning and for how many learning stops (assuming that learning actually happens in college) once they get out of college and enter the workforce. I know many smart people working in mind-deadening jobs and basically thinking on autopilot rather than learning something. Does the current capitalist system want to have students learning and thinking on the fourth level? If all are thinking on that level, they will quit their jobs.

  2. yes I’m with you there – it’s not in the interests of any system to have all its members meta-critiquing the system all the time, for we’d never get any work done (we’d undermine belief in the nature and purpose of the work) – and how would the masters profiteer if the slaves weren’t busy creating the profit for them?… (or according to another ideology, how would leader comrades whoaremoreequalthanothers be doing their job of ensuring that enough goods and services are produced to satisfy the needs of the collective, if the collective isn’t ‘happily’ compliant most of the time)..

    but I guess the real point of ‘real’ education (deep learning) isn’t to get everyone necessarily reaching the ‘highest’ level (how I hate that hierarchical metaphor!) all at the same time and in the same place, so much as to allow everyone to at least know such a place exists, so they can get themselves there if and when they need and want to….

    … like Alice, on the cusp of being fully subsumed into adulthood, looking at text through mirrored glass (probably not made by Corning), and trying to make sense of (and do battle with) the jabberwocky… in order to figure out who she is and what to do with her life (in the Tim Burton version)…

    … or to reach the highest level of learning (according to Bateson)…

    … or (as in TS Eliot’s final quartet) to not cease from exploration in the wasteland, and at the end, to arrive where we started, and actually know the place for the first time…

    • Wonderful thoughts, wonderful thoughts! It makes me dream for the possibility of unrestrained and unconditional process of learning…

      It is very refreshing to read your comments and write my responses in the midst of yet another grading session (as an online instructor I have to do grading almost every week and have to provide feedback to all students’ work. It is beneficial to the students I think but a burden for the instructor.) It breaks the monotony of grade “production.” I often think of myself as an “intellectual” worker who produces grades in the larger factory of education (apologies for the sudden burst of cynicism). Thank you Mr. Frederick Taylor for coming up with the wonderful concept of scientific management of work- I can feel the “benefits” of such system. Marx was right about the “alienation” of the worker from the product of her labor, and how much “better” I feel to understand my powerlessness to change the system.

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