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“Shed the burden of re-thinking the past; be conscious of the present; be surrounded by people interested in talking” – Our Interview with Professor Maria-Luisa Achino-Loeb …*

"Shed the burden of re-thinking the past; be conscious of the present; be surrounded by people interested in talking" - Our Interview with Professor Maria-Luisa Achino-Loeb ...* | rethinked.org - Photo: Elsa Fridman Randolph

Today’s interview is very special to me as it comes from one of the teachers who has had the most dramatic and lasting impact on my thinking and understanding of the world. Professor Maria-Luisa Achino-Loeb is an Adjunct Lecturer at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies and Co-chair of the Culture, Power, Boundaries Seminar at Columbia University. She is a cultural anthropologist whose work focuses on the study of ideology and its connection to power and identity. She has developed and taught courses on Silence, Language and Culture, Migration and Identity, and Globalization. Her course on Silence and Identity has been one of the most paradigm shifting learning experiences of my entire academic career. Her work has been published in several journals, including American Anthropologist and Theory in Psychology, and in the absolutely fantastic volume she edited, Silence: The Currency of Power (Berghahn Books, 2006).

discover & rethink …* 

WHAT WAS THE LAST EXPERIMENT YOU RAN?

Thinking about silence. Going beyond the empty spaces it suggests at first and finding its role in human communication. And what I found, as you know, is that silence is at the root of meaning formation and of ideological manipulations.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT YOU FEAR AND HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR FEAR?

My fears change form and substance depending on the unfinished business of day to day living versus long term plans. I deal with them with a combination of repression and understanding their underlying [here is the silence, again] causes.

WHAT BREAKS AND DELIGHTS YOUR HEART? IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IN AND SURRENDER TO?

A job well done.

WHAT IS THE MOST PROVOCATIVE IDEA YOU’VE COME ACROSS IN THE PAST DECADE?

The fact that atoms –and therefore we—are made up of mostly empty space, barely inhabited by electrons, etc.-  I refer you to a blog by Matt Strassler, a theoretical physicist who manages to open the world of quantum physics in conversational tones.

CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT A TRANSFORMATIONAL MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE?

Each time I manage to witness the present.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO LIVE A GOOD LIFE?

Shed the burden of re-thinking the past; be conscious of the present; be surrounded by people interested in talking.

COULD YOU SHARE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE ABOUT THE ART OF BEING HUMAN?

Yes:  Listen.

WHAT IS YOUR DRIVING QUESTION?

All of the above.

ANY BOOKS OR MOVIES YOU RECOMMEND?

Jane Austen’s novels; Sharon Olds’ poetry; The film “Beasts of the Southern Wild” we both saw; and all films by Kaslowski, particularly his trilogy “White, Blue, and Red”

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THANK YOU, PROFESSOR, ACHINO-LOEB!

{ Delightful Visual Resource To Engage More Deeply With Ancient History } Panoply: Animating the Ancient World …*

Shout out to the ever fantastic Open Culture, where I discovered the delightful Panoply project which focuses on animating ancient pottery.

Panoply is run by Steve K. Simons and Sonya Nevin, combining Steve’s animation skills with Sonya’s expertise in ancient Greek culture.

We make animations from real ancient Greek vases. This site puts them together with a wealth of resources that give you reliable info on ancient culture and fresh ideas for teaching sessions on classical civilisation, art, and creative writing.

Panoply, like all good chance encounters aims to help us take another, deeper look at that which we might all too easily overlook. By creating stunning animations, Panoply gives us an opportunity to stop and really look and engage with fragments of ancient vases that we might have otherwise missed in the endless treasures of large museums. They have an entire page on their website dedicated to ideas for how you can use the animations to liven up discussions about ancient Greece and as a springboard into creative activities:

You can use these animations to spark all sorts of teaching and learning activities. They’re particularly good for sessions on classical civilisation, art, and creative writing. They can be used with learners of all ages and levels, from primary through to higher education as well as community, home-school, and lifelong learning. If you don’t have a group to teach, do the activities yourself or with your friends.  

From storyboarding, to writing, to film and animations studies, Panoply provides a wealth of resources to help you and your students engage with ancient civilizations and the craft of animation. Head over to their website to explore all their resources and blog which features discussions of vases and iconography as well as interviews with leading academics, and of course to watch their brilliant animations.

Watch the interview below to hear Dr. Sonya Nevin talk about how the project started and how it has been used as a teaching aid in schools.

. . . *

On a somewhat related note, I just read a fascinating origin legend about the beginnings of art related to Ancient Greece as told by Victoria Finlay in her book, Color: A Natural History of the Palette (which I previously mentioned in a post about cultivating a craftsman mindset). As recorded by Pliny the Elder in Natural History, the origins of painting came from a young Corinthian woman, who while embracing her lover good-bye before he set out on a long voyage, saw his shadow cast on the wall and decided to outline it in charcoal to hold on to his image while he was away:

According to one Western classical legend, the first paint was black and the first artist female. When Pliny the Elder was writing his Natural History–a summary of everything available in the Roman Marketplace and quite a few other things besides–he told a story of how the origin of art was found in epic love. After all, what better inspiration for art is there than passion? According to Pliny one of the first artists was a young woman in the town of Corinth in Greece who one evening was weepily saying good-bye to her lover before he set out on a long journey. Suddenly, between impassioned embraces, she noticed his shadow on the wall, cast by the light of a candle. So, spontaneously, she reached out for a piece of charcoal from the fire and filled in the pattern. 

I loved this little story and thought you might too.

look, create & rethink …*

{ rethinking mentorship …* } How Might We Change Traditional Learning Scenarios & Completely Decentralize Learning From Its Current Form?

Grasp_4

Image: Akarsh Sanghi

  “In the 21st century when we are surrounded by digital devices and are occupied by a screen most of the time for every possible activity, I wanted to explore how can we break away from this cycle to learn something in a more organic and natural way.” – Akarsh Sanghi

I discovered Grasp yesterday and was immediately charmed by this “wearable tool to assist learning” created by interaction designer, Akarsh Sanghi. Grasp is a design provocation aimed at questioning our assumptions about traditional learning practices and environments–

“The scope of the current version of the project was to spark a debate on how traditional learning scenarios can be changed and learning as we know it can be completely decentralized from its current form. [….] The idea was to learn new skills which are more physical in nature-like craftsmanship and require step-by-step instruction assist learning.” –Akarsh Sanghi

As our lives, learning, work and communities become increasingly decentralized, online and interconnected, Grasp raises some urgent and important questions about the future of learning and mentorship. Head over to Sanghi’s website to learn more about Grasp and check out his other projects.

“Learning new skills which are more physical and instructional in nature has always been limited by the constraint of a mentor and the learner being present in the same physical space. Grasp is a wearable device which attempts to overcome that constraint by connecting the mentor and the learner across distances. The tool provides the mentor with a real time insight into the learners environment through the coupling of a first person point of view and an instructional laser pointer. Therefore, the mentor can communicate to the person learning via the device and instruct using the laser pointer. It is the idea of having a companion looking over your shoulder and instructing you while learning something new irrespective of distance.”

question & rethink . . .*

Source: This Robotic Wearable Is Like Having a Teacher on Your Shoulder

Grasp_Concept-Sketch.001

Image: Akarsh Sanghi

Questions Are a Tool to Organize Our Thinking Around What We Don’t Know …*

“If you look at the research, a four year old girl is asking as much as 300 questions a day. And when kids go into school, you see this steady decline that happens as they go through the grade levels to the point where questioning in schools, by Junior High School is almost at zero.” – Warren Berger

While Berger acknowledges that there are multiple reasons behind this alarming decline in questioning, the key culprit that he highlights is the large bias for answers that dominates the culture of our education system. If, however, “questioning enables us to organize our thinking around what we don’t know,” it is a critical capacity for navigating and thriving in the 21st century. In a time such as ours, where the pace of change keeps accelerating, where uncertainty is omnipresent and wicked problems proliferate, it is imperative that we teach our students to become fluent thinking in questions. Berger suggests checking out The Right Question Institute, which has a set of tools and resources to help children build their questioning skills.

How do you help your students grow as questioners? 

Questions Are the New Answers – Warren Berger via Big Think

{ Our Deepest Gratitude For Teachers Everywhere } John Maeda: Teaching As An Intellectual Philanthropy …*

{ Our Deepest Gratitude For Teachers Everywhere } John Maeda: Teaching As An Intellectual Philanthropy ...* | rethinked.org

A virtual bouquet to express our gratitude to teachers all over the world …*

“My Ph.D advisor in Japan, Akira Harada, reminded me of what a great professor is about: someone who is curious and loves when others are curious, too. But he also knew how to stay on deadline; it was a combination of being able to diverge and converge. He loved teaching. One time, he told me a story about growing up during World War II as the son of a wealthy banking family. Nobody had any food; it all went to the soldiers. But his family was wealthy, so he had rice. In Japan, rice is the essential thing in a person’s life; the soul of Japan is rice. There’s this little pickled plum called ume, and, every day, my professor got a lunchbox from his mom with a bed of white rice and a red plum in the middle, like the Japanese flag. One day, he forgot his lunch, so he went to his teacher and told her. She said, “I made too much lunch this morning. So please come to my desk and we’ll have lunch together.” At lunchtime, he went to his teacher’s desk. She pulled out her bento box, opened it, and there were two tiny potatoes inside. She said, “Look, I made too much,” and he replied, “I’ll help you, teacher.” He remembered that later on and cried about how thankful he was for his teacher. I thought that was an important story; it made me think and believe in teaching as an intellectual philanthropy. It’s about doing something good for others. Professor Harada was a great teacher. Along the way, there have been many more like him who have made me more awake” John Maeda in an interview with The Great Discontent

What a wonderful story from the great John Maeda to celebrate Teacher’s Appreciation Week. I love how he frames teaching as an act of generosity. When I think about the teachers and professors who have had a real impact on my life and learning, I now realize that generosity is what they all shared. Would love to hear your stories and anecdotes of the generous teachers you’ve had the good fortune to encounter throughout your learning journey.

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Friday Link Fest…*

Friday Link Fest...* | rethinked.org

 

READ

Beyond the Product: What We Should Be Teaching Young People ~ On asking questions & acting upon ideas…* via David Sengeh on LinkedIn, published March 26, 2013.

Empathy Equals Scary Vulnerability–And Is Totally Necessary For Success ~ via Fast Company, published March 22, 2013.

Don Norman on rethinking…* design thinking ~ via Core77, published March 19, 2013.

Children should be allowed to get bored so they can develop their innate ability to be creative ~ via BBC, published March 22, 2013.

Six Habits of Highly Empathic People ~ via Greater Good Science Center, published November 27, 2012.

Swedish Experimental Food Lab Erects Tiny Edible Cityscape ~ Atelier Food: exploring ways to rethink…* our food systems.  via Wired Design, published March 20, 2013

Here’s A Google Perk Any Company Can Imitate: Employee-To-Employee Learning ~ via Fast Company, published March 26, 2013

Why Organizations Are So Afraid to Simplify ~ Knowing when to stop is as important as starting. via Harvard Business Review, published March 20, 2013

WATCH

Richard Turere: My invention that made peace with lions ~ via TED, published March 2013.

Design Thinking — Maximizing Your Students’ Creative Talent: Co Barry at TEDxDenverTeachers ~ via TEDx, published March 22, 2013.

Socrates (In The Form Of A 9-Year-Old) Shows Up In A Suburban Backyard In Washington ~ via NPR, published March 27, 2013.

What if a 10-year-old designed a city? ~ via GreenBiz, published March 26, 2013.

LOOK

Federico Uribe Paints with Reused Electrical Cables ~ via This is Colossal, published March 20, 2013.

Self-Sufficient Green Dream Home is One With Surroundings ~ Isolée by Frank Tjepkema. via Dornob.

Time to Get Something On the Side: 30 Inspiring Passion Projects & Why You Should Have One ~ via FastCo.Create, published  March 20, 2013.

From Recycled Skateboards, Electric Guitars ~ via Design Taxi, published March 22, 2013.

Sculptures That Reveal The Hidden Beauty Of Regular StuffDaniel Eatock’s One + One series.  via FastCo.Design, published March 26, 2013.

EXPLORE

Big Thinkers on Education ~ via Edutopia.

A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces: 16 Resources ~ via Open Education Database, published March 12, 2013.

Skillshare: Got an Art/Design Class You Want to Take… or Teach? ~ via Core77, published March 22, 2013.

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