Municipalist syndicalism: organizing the new working class

By adopting a municipalist agenda, the labor movements of the new working class have the power to democratize not just the union, but also the city itself.

A municipalist revolution is impossible without the support and cooperation of labor unions. In some cases, labor unions might themselves take the lead in promulgating a municipalist shift. To effectively pursue this path, the left must grapple with the diverse composition and structure of the working class — joining calls for union democracy with nascent municipalist movements. Experiments in participatory democracy can then be tried and tested at the intra-union level, nourishing possibilities for subsequent municipal-wide implementation.

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Posted in Citizen engagement, Citizen participation, Citizenship, City, Social movements, Syndicalism | Tagged , , , , ,

Less Teaching Leading to More Learning

In a previous post, I described an experiment conducted by L. P. Benezet in the late 1920s and early ‘30s. He altered the curriculum for half of the schoolchildren in the poorest schools in his district so they would not be taught arithmetic until 6th grade. He found that those children, at the beginning of 6th grade, before they had received any arithmetic instruction at all, performed much better than the others on math story problems—the kinds of problems that require common sense applied to numbers. They were even better on those that were the kids in the rich schools, all of whom had been studying arithmetic all along. Of course, they were behind the others in doing calculations (adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing) set up in the usual school way, but by the end of 6th grade they had fully caught up to the others on that and were still ahead on story problems.

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Posted in Learning, Teaching | Tagged ,

How to Help Your Child Get Motivated in School

Strategies you can use to help kids work up to their potential. If you have a child who is struggling in school and doesn’t seem to be motivated to make an effort, the first thing you want to do is explore whether there is some obstacle getting in his way. Learning issues, social challenges, attention or emotional problems can all cause kids to disengage academically. But not all kids who are underperforming in school—clearly not living up to their potential—have a diagnosable problem. And there are a number of things parents can do to help motivate kids to try harder.

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Posted in Children, Children's learning, Motivation, Schools | Tagged , , ,

Analysing Knowledge and Power in Classrooms

How can we explore how power operates in classrooms, looking at the power teachers hold through their social position alongside the flows of power between different actors? How can we understand how knowledge is intertwined with power for, as Michel Foucault put it, ‘there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations’? In this blog, we advocate combining Foucault’s insights with the idea of epistemological moves, teacher statements that indicate to students what counts in terms of knowledge and ways of acquiring knowledge.

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Read also: On the Continuity of Power Relations in Pedagogy

Posted in Classroom, Foucault, Knowledge, Power | Tagged , , ,

Social inequality – children gap

Cognitively, experience is sequential: Experiences in infancy establish habits of seeking, noticing, and incorporating new and more complex experiences, as well as schemas for categorizing and thinking about experiences. Neurologically, infancy is a critical period because cortical development is influenced by the amount of central nervous system activity stimulated by experience. Behaviorally, infancy is a unique time of helplessness when nearly all of children’s experience is mediated by adults in one-to-one interactions permeated with affect. Once children become independent and can speak for themselves, they gain access to more opportunities for experience. But the amount and diversity of children’s past experience influences which new opportunities for experience they notice and choose.

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Posted in Children, Inequality, Social inequality | Tagged , ,

Big Mind: How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World

A new field of collective intelligence has emerged in the last few years, prompted by a wave of digital technologies that make it possible for organizations and societies to think at large scale. This “bigger mind”–human and machine capabilities working together–has the potential to solve the great challenges of our time. So why do smart technologies not automatically lead to smart results? Gathering insights from diverse fields, including philosophy, computer science, and biology, Big Mind reveals how collective intelligence can guide corporations, governments, universities, and societies to make the most of human brains and digital technologies. Geoff Mulgan explores how collective intelligence has to be consciously organized and orchestrated in order to harness its powers. He looks at recent experiments mobilizing millions of people to solve problems, and at groundbreaking technology like Google Maps and Dove satellites. He also considers why organizations full of smart people and machines can make foolish mistakes–from investment banks losing billions to intelligence agencies misjudging geopolitical events–and shows how to avoid them. Highlighting differences between environments that stimulate intelligence and those that blunt it, Mulgan shows how human and machine intelligence could solve challenges in business, climate change, democracy, and public health. But for that to happen we’ll need radically new professions, institutions, and ways of thinking. Informed by the latest work on data, web platforms, and artificial intelligence, Big Mind shows how collective intelligence could help us survive and thrive.

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Posted in Collective intelligence | Tagged

The art of Conversation

And yet, with the years, I have come to wonder if the only paradigm available to us is that of the argument, with its possibility of a negotiated settlement that is, at best, a tactical compromise on all sides. How about another paradigm? How about the paradigm of the conversation?

The argument, and any negotiated agreement that it may lead to, is based on a resistance to the other. The conversation, on the other hand, suggests openness to the other. In a conversation, you need not agree, but you have agreed not to argue in such a way that the conversation breaks. You have agreed to step into the other person’s shoes, and the other person has agreed to step into yours. A degree of civility is presumed in the conversation. The agreement you reach at the end of a conversation is neither tactical nor begrudging. It enfolds all the parties equally: the conversation goes on.

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Posted in Conversations, Dialogue | Tagged ,

Solidarity: an art worth learning

Can solidarity exist? Or is it just a fantasy, a pious dream of the soft of heart and weak of brain? Gross inequality, greed and prejudice: these manifestations of selfishness which stalk our world may seem to invite our condemnation and to call for an alternative – but what if they are part of the natural order? It is a widely-held presumption that our egotism is hard-wired in our nature, and that a genuinely selfless act is almost an impossibility. In a hostile review of a recent study of altruism, an American professor of humanities, Mark Hunter, wrote that an attack on capitalism is ‘an attack on human nature.’ Running counter to the liberal individualistic norm, however, research in biology and in psychology indicates that the human gene contains both selfish and altruistic tendencies.

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Posted in Altruism, Solidarity | Tagged ,

Diverse Aging and Health Inequality by Race and Ethnicity

Although gerontologists have long embraced the concept of heterogeneity in theories and models of aging, recent research reveals the importance of racial and ethnic diversity on life course processes leading to health inequality. This article examines research on health inequality by race and ethnicity and identifies theoretical and methodological innovations that are transforming the study of health disparities. Drawing from cumulative inequality theory, we propose greater use of life course analysis, more attention to variability within racial and ethnic groups, and better integration of environmental context into the study of accumulation processes leading to health disparities.

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Read also: Innovation in Aging

Posted in Aging, Health, Inequality | Tagged , ,

How to measure Social pain

Against the grain of much twentieth-century research on the nature and function of pain in humans, which tended to focus on injury and the bodily mechanics of pain signalling, recent neuroscientific research has opened a new front in the study of social and emotional pain. The premise is simple enough: when a person says they are in pain, they are in pain. It doesn’t matter whether the cause is a broken leg or bereavement or social isolation, pain is pain. The question, then, is whether what is happening in the brain corroborates what people say about being in pain, irrespective of whether there is a physical injury.

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Read also: The weight of the world: social workers’ experiences of social suffering

Pain: A Very Short Introduction

Posted in Social pain, Social suffering | Tagged ,