A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Nobody is using the SmartBoards ...

Have you been to Google's Chrome Store lately? The educational market is being flooded with powerful, relatively inexpensive new technology, but as one student in an elite high school, sitting in a Technological Design Class told me recently, "Nobody uses the Smartboards. The teachers hate them." Or, in the case of the Chrome Store, nobody knows about the flood of new apps that has just become available.

With Ray Kurzweill, author of The Age of the Spiritual Machine providing a, frankly, frightening long-term vision of Artificial Intelligence for Google, or maybe purely by coincidence, technology is becoming more diffused throughout our daily lives. Or, as the late Michael Foley, my favorite history teacher at Georgetown University wondered, is technology becoming more dispersed, instead of more diffused in our daily lives? The question I am constantly coming back to is, to what end?

Every day, I become more convinced that our technology policies in schools have not kept pace with the mass proliferation of SmartPhones, iPads, among the many recent and bewildering changes. That realization hit home when I realized that my son Joe had gone through nearly two semesters doing Geometry without access to the online textbook, and only discovered the problem that he was not using a textbook when he came for help at the 11th hour, and for the first time, I did not know the formula already in my head, and asked to see the textbook.

The Technological Design class I recently visited received a new MakerBot Replicator 3-D Printer. Few, if any of these elite students showed any imagination about the possibilities for all that they could do with this new 3-D printer. As a first project, many students used the 3-D printer to manufacture custom iPhone covers with logo of the college of their choice.

One student made both a cover and a keychain trinket.

As a sub, I was left a PBS E2 Design Video. Despite the appropriateness of the content of the design video, during 5th period, I did not realize that the video ran for 180 minutes. Worse, the plans lacked any response component, such as a reflection or notetaking guide, so there was no way I could hold students accountable for paying attention to the video or any clue as to why students needed to watch the video. The class's appropriate technology usage policy was not surprisingly vague, and despite the teacher mentioning in the plans that students should not be allowed to play games, lacking an engaging activity, it was nearly impossible to prevent most students from pulling out their SmartPhones and playing video games during "instructional" time. Before 5th period, I asked for clarification from the teacher next door, and during class, I sought advice from some of the more responsible students, but was given the clear impression that the technology use policy was not strictly enforced. During 7th period, I let the video run continuously, though few paid any attention to it.

With the knowledge that I had zero leverage, as a Sub, I circulated, asking students about how they were using the new 3-D printer, prompting students to think about new project ideas and who they might be able to help using the printer. For those who looked particularly directionless, I asked students how they might best use their time. A few self-starters worked on homework, projects, or prepared for tests. For those who responded that it was a new quarter and nothing was due, I asked about their long-term goals, and how they might use their time, rather than wasting it playing video games. One Senior, who along with about 5 other students had been in the class eating lunch when I arrived, an hour early for the class, has been accepted to Harvard, Brown, Virginia Tech, and several other schools. He already passed the AP Exam in Math last year. His father used to be a CIA contractor. His mother, who was a founding member of a top commercial finance company, had several Masters and Law Degrees, had planted the seed of the idea in his mind that he might get incredibly bored if he decided to specialize in engineering immediately, and when I mentioned the demand for engineering talent, he had obviously been thinking about the question but had come to no decisions and seemed confused. The brilliant young man spent a long time in the bathroom during 5th period, and eventually left class early during 7th period, without a word. Another student, who I asked several times not to play video games, eventually started to work on a project for English. That student got on the computer and started to look at an assignment to write a business letter. I recommended that he consider writing a sales proposal, offering to make custom cellphone covers for a local business.

While preparing to write this post, I happened to wander into the Chrome Web Store, and discovered several useful and exciting applications for teachers including ClassDojo, a free behavior management system for elementary teachers, a behavior feedback tool that, tailor made for the SmartBoard, that can be controlled with a SmartPhone, which can be shared with students and parents alike.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Some Appropriate Uses of Technology

Recently, I visited a 4th grade classroom that provided a prime example of appropriate technology usage, featured below, as well as a 3rd grade classroom which was using technology to respond to a class read aloud, Frindle, in innovative ways. I can typically size up a classroom in a matter of seconds. If class routines are clear, if students are being encouraged to build background knowledge broadly and inquiry is at the heart of the classroom, I know it's going to be a good day. Both these classrooms left me with a positive first impression.

Van de Walle would be pleased that the teacher in this 4th grade classroom has linked concepts to models, as well as models to procedures. Calendar Math provides a routine for daily practice of related understandings from which students can build new understandings. Students have used Math Investigations array lessons to explore the process of identifying all of the possible factors of a product. The class library is sorted by genre, and provides for a wide variety of reading levels.

The teacher left a clear and valuable lesson on non-fiction text features, along with specific instructions on which features to ask the students about, which was obviously a review, which provided a purpose for independent reading.

Students were given a 45 minute block to take notes for their research projects. Although the desktop computers were not being used, many students used netbooks, while others used books from the library, and a few used both netbooks and library books. All students knew how to go to the school district's online database for reliable information. Students remained engaged in the task, requiring minimal redirection, probably because everyone was allowed to do research on things that interested them: one student was researching her country, Korea, three students were studying mythology, three were studying sports, five were studying animals, etc.

Students used graphic organizers provided by the "school librarian" (the title has changed recently), which encouraged students to evaluate the quality of their resources. A key section of the organizer prompted students to generate questions about their topics. The research process had been modeled and discussed. Every students all knew to color code their notecards to keep various areas of research seperate.

In the 3rd grade classroom, in a different school, the entire 3rd grade team was all reading Frindle, by Andrew Clements, and responding via a quasi-Twitter format, with discussion starter questions and student responses for each section "posted" on a bulletin board in the hall, enabling anyone to "follow the feed." The teacher had posted the discussion "Tweet" on chart paper, using a # hashtag format, e.g., #13 & 14 At first, Nick feels like a normal 5th grader, but everything changes. How does he change on the inside? Students "tweeted" their response on a half page blue organizer, which left only enough space for 20 words for their responses, which required students to choose their words judiciously. For the final chapter, students responded to #15 How did Nick's battle with Ms. Granger end?

In both cases, technology was being used purposefully.

More from my inbox

Chris and Steve,

Don't worry about the nay-sayers.  Here's what Arthur Clarke had to say about them:

 Arthur C. Clarke characterized the four successive stages of response to any new and
revolutionary innovation as follows:

   1. It's crazy!
   2. It may be possible -- so what?
   3. I said it was a good idea all along.
   4. I thought of it first.

The Aharonov-Bohm effect, predicted in 1959, required nearly 30 years after its 1960
demonstration by Chambers until it was begrudgingly accepted. Mayer, who discovered the modern thermodynamic notion of conservation of energy related to work, was hounded and chastised so severely that he suffered a breakdown. Years later, he was lionized for the same effort Wegener, a German meteorologist, was made a laughing stock and his name became a pseudonym for "utter fool," because he advanced the concept of continental drift in 1912. In the 1960s the evidence for continental drift became overwhelming, and today it is widely taught and part of the standard science curriculum. Gauss, the great mathematician, worked out nonlinear geometry but kept it firmly hidden for 30 years, because he knew that if he published it, his peers would destroy him. In the 1930s Goddard was ridiculed and called "moon-mad Goddard" because he predicted his rocketry would carry men to the moon. Years later when the Nazi fired V-1 and V-2 rockets against London, those rockets used the gyroscopic stabilization and many other features discovered and pioneered by Goddard. And as everyone knows, rocketry did indeed carry men to the moon. Science has a long and unsavory history of severely punishing innovation and new thinking. In the modern
world such scientific suppression of innovation is uncalled-for, but it is still very much the rule rather than the exception.

Arthur C. Clarke, in "Space Drive: A Fantasy That Could Become Reality,"
Nov./Dec. 1994, p. 38.
What's true and just will prevail in the end, especially when ordinary people lose faith in their current leaders.

Norman G. Kurland, J.D.
Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ)
P.O. Box 40711, Washington, DC 20016
(O) 703-243-5155 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            703-243-5155      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, (F) 703-243-5935 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            703-243-5935      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
(E) thirdway@cesj.org
(Web) http://www.cesj.org

"Own or be owned."

On 1/28/13 6:00 PM, hotmailchrisdorf wrote:
I share that the need is/has been there for a paradigm overhaul for a long time, but are these realities enough to allow the need for new paradigms get into the mainstream infprmation clearinghouse?  You know as well as I do, that there are great levers of power that want to squash discuss of such scenarios that call for changes; will these times allow those ideas, such as CESJ's get traction in the news cycles?
I always wonder until I see it happening.
Maybe sooner than latter...
chris dorf
----- Original Message -----
From: Steve Nieman
Sent: Monday, January 28, 2013 3:47 PM
Subject: Re: Technology is eliminating more middle-class jobs


This is great news!  No more menial tasks or "make work" for humans to justify an income to exist on.

Binary economics and Capital Homesteading have a huge lead on any other economic paradigm-overhaul that can properly address this new reality.

Unfortunately, things gotta probably get worse before they can improve.  But I am reading in a lot more places exactly what this article points out.

Once more people realize we're in the middle of this transition, everybody can get more serious about how society is going to properly keep human life alive.

What's not to like? about everybody sharing in owning the means of production and gaining a capital income therefrom?

Especially when the means of production is exiting the human era and entering the machine/technology one.

Happy New Year to all,
Steve Nieman
On Jan 28, 2013, at 1:25 PM, hotmailchrisdorf wrote:

Dear CESJ,
After reading this study, you bet people now wish something like Kelsonian economics was instituted in the '60s...

Technology is eliminating more middle-class jobs

Mirror Neurons_Opportunity Gap

Can your 9th grader build a 3D model of DNA independently? Joe, who knew the content, (i.e., which nitrogen bases pair up -- guanine and cytosine, adenine and thymine -- and where phosphate groups fit on the sugar deoxyribose sugar-phosphate backbone,) does not know his way around my shop, and does not grasp a need to know. Despite an interest in engineering, and automaticity with mental computations, Joe is not innately interested in working alongside me when I construct things, so I occasionally force the issue, because as a parent, I feel an ability to use tools is a life skill that he will not learn at school, whether or not he chooses to become an engineer. If left to his own devices, Joe would gravitate to highly sophisticated video games on XBox Live, which according to Scientific American, can be a highly powerful educational resources. As a parent and an educator, I know how powerful these video games can be in grabbing and holding attention - what scares me is just how effective they are in teaching the wrong lessons.

Based on what I have been "reading" in Dr. Ramachandran's The Tell Tale Brain,  the ability of humans to share cultural knowledge and learn from imitation is rooted in highly developed mirror neuron networks. As Dr. Ramachandran suggests, "monkey see, monkey do" is at the heart of our ability as humans to share and imitate procedures for using tools. Mirror neuron networks, according to Dr. Ramachandran, are the key evolutionary advantage that elevated people above apes.  Dr. Ramachandran argues that mirror neurons enabled human beings to become the most significant development on earth since life itself arose. From a Special Education perspective, Dr. Ramachandran's research has linked deficits in mirror neurons with autism.

Here are some of the specialized cultural knowledge that I tried to share with Joe, although I was not clear to what degree I was actually holding his attention:

1. I demonstrated how to use a Makita 3HP router to drill a 5/8" hole about 3/4" deep into a 2x4 block
2. I used a mitre box to cut the 5/8" diameter dowel rod and the 2x4 blocks -- Joe has seen me use this tool on numerous occassions
3. Joe walked away before I could show him how to use a drill to make holes through which we fed string to tie down his model
4. I tied down one half of his mode; I made Joe tie the other half, giving him experience with tying knots that I failed to give him by not involving him in scouting.
5. After I glued one side, Joe used a glue gun to secure the other side of his model, after we rotated the base 90 degrees to create the "double helix."

Joe had to be directed to work the tools himself, and preferred to watch from a distance, reflecting his lack of a clear vision for the future. In Joe's defense, how many 9th graders would demonstrate the fortitude needed to figure that out how to build a 3D model on their own?

With Joe and his mother at the dinner table, I showed Joe how to manipulate different color pipe cleaner, cut coffee stirrer straws, and feed the multicolor pipe cleaner lengths through coffee stirrer straws in order to create the backbone. I connected half; Joe connected the other half. His mother created the legend, with Joe's instructions, and I help Joe use double stick tape to tape it down.

A 9th grader without any shop knowledge could use a paper towel roll instead of a dowel rod, and cardboard to make the top and base, and string instead of pipe cleaners to make the backbone and frame, but how many would focus long enough to solve these problems independently, like my friend Ricky would have been able to do -- Ricky was fixing lawnmowers and building off road vehicles at that age, and yet he is a mere handyman.

When I think about the much talked about "achievement gap," I find myself always referring back to the Matthew Effect. Throwing technology at the problem, and holding teachers accountable for their student's lack of background knowledge is not helping children being left behind as early as Kindergarten. What's lacking, on a national level, is a clear vision of what the outcome of education should be, and how Response To Intervention (RTI) should be implemented. Too many decision makers are distracted by the sizzle of technology, and fail to wrestle with the more difficult question of how technology should be implemented, which why I am focusing so much on technology in the classroom.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

10 Skills Children Learn from the Arts

Top 10 Skills Children Learn From the Arts

My dear friend Sue posted a link to a Washington Post Blog on Facebook which featured Lisa Phillips' Top 10 Skills Children Learn from the Arts, included below.

1. Creativity
2. Confidence
3. Problem Solving
4. Perseverance
5. Focus
6. Non-verbal Communication
7. Receiving Constructive Feedback
8. Collaboration
9. Dedication
10. Accountability

Are these not the primary outcomes we should expect from a quality education? Notably, Accountability is last on Lisa Phillip's list, not first. The development of aesthetic faculties, especially creative problem solving, ironically, seems to have been relegated to the bottom by educational policy makers, probably because aesthetic faculties are the most difficult thing to measure with a standardized test. Lisa Phillip's book, The Artistic Edge: 7 Skills Children Need to Succeed in an Increasingly Right Brain World seems like an important read, and I will be buying it at some point ... (maybe it's on an audiobook).

I tend to be highly skeptical about the motives of all those who have made a name for themselves as academic leaders / reformers by sharply driving up academic performance numbers by weeding out all of the "bad teachers." Recently, Jay Mathews reported in the Washington Post about one administrator at an award winning school who made the courageous decision to do a better job securing tests by locking the door, which led to a sharp decline in test scores, leading many to speculate about widespread cheating in DC's public schools. Similarly, many statewide alternate assessments, in my view, have created a false sense of security about the level of skills being developed in our public schools.

I am currently trying to wrap my brain around the problem of how to structure a technology policy that optimizes learning conditions, hopefully leading to the 10 outcomes described in Phillips' book, as opposed to generating unwanted distractions, wasting valuable instructional time, and worst of all, promoting inappropriate social behaviors, including physical violence, willful disobedience, and withdrawal from the learning process. After working for two months with a small group of students with severe learning disabilities, largely behavioral problems, I found the inappropriate use of technology to be the number one distraction and source of conflict in my classroom. I sensed a profound lack of a vision and sense of purpose for technology being communicated by instructional leaders, who seemed blissfully unaware of the concept that technology is only good or bad in how and when it is used.

Recently, I took over a class as a long-term sub from a resource teacher who had abandoned her class without prior notice. I eventually interviewed for a full time position but did not get the job, which was probably a blessing in disguise. During my two month period, one student, Kenny, had to be removed from math on a daily basis for running out of the classroom, verbally abusing other students, hitting, kicking, destroying property, and lastly, choking other students -- the day before I interviewed, I literally had to pull Kenny off a student with expressive language difficulties to stop him from choking the other student. Later, for the first time, Justin actually connected with me. He asked repeatedly, "Why did Kenny choke me? Why did Kenny laugh when he was choking me?" To which I responded, "Kenny can't control himself. The adults needed to do a better job protecting you. I am so sorry".

My efforts to both incorporate technology, and limit computer usage to educational purposes only became a flashpoint. My policy of limiting the use of technology for instructional purposes only was met with a level of resistance from students that I had not anticipated. By not communicating a clear policy for appropriate use of technology, both at a district level, and a school level, I felt that my superiors were unwittingly enabling consistently inappropriate, highly disruptive behaviors by students like Kenny, a 4th grader who was so fixated on the idea of "computer" time that, for two months, after completing his warmup, he flatly refused to do any activity, even when offered a variety of choices, because I refused to allow him to play his computer game, which involved trucks crushing cars, and insisted that computer time follow instruction. On one occasion, during my transition week, I happened to observe Kenny's general education classroom during recess, and left with the clear impression that the general education teacher lacked a clear and consistent technology policy. It was one of those Aha! moments.

During my nightly workouts at the gym, I have been studying the neuro-biological basis for creating optimal learning conditions, through my "reading" of an audiobook version of The Tell Tale Brain, by V.S. Ramachandran, and an audiobook version of Made To Stick, as well as a paperback version of Brain Bugs, by Dean Buenomano, which I have been reading while riding an exercise cycle. Based on what I have been reading, I am reflecting upon how technology in the classroom can be both beneficial and counterproductive, depending upon how we use it, and depending on exactly which skills students are learning while using technology. It seems to me that, given the millions of dollars invested in educational technology, we need to be very clear about our purposes.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A funny look at a serious problem

Manti Te'o's EHarmony Ad - watch more funny videos      

In case anybody has been living in a vacuum, here is a hilarious look at the problem of inappropriate uses of technology. In the case of Manti T'eo, the Notre Dame Football player, who was the runner up for this year's Heismann Trophy, technology became a substitute for a genuine relationship.

The question of online "friends" is a running argument that I have with my son, whose "friends," outside of friends from baseball and track, are Xbox Live friends. As parents, we make sure that Joe is involved in so many activities throughout the year, there is at least some limit to the amount of time he spends with his online "friends," but to me, Xbox Live relationships are empty relationships -- and I am unhappy with what he is learning online. Whenever Joe, my 14 year old son, crosses the line with inappropriate language, I am forced to confront him and shut him down. If only I could convince Joe that the amount of time he spends on Xbox Live is totally inappropriate, and in fact harmful ...

Here is a cartoon from GoComics that addresses the issue of empty online experiences ...

The Digital Blues

I remember when Tommy, a job superintendent from some construction company, used to call in orders during the roaring eighties. Tommy used to joke about all of the cell phones he used to throw at the wall, and if I messed up his order, or made him wait too long, he might need to send me the bill. Today, I felt like throwing my dad's IPhone and my mom's IPad at the wall, and I was reminded about Tommy, who was so great at managing huge construction projects, and earning profits, that his bosses could afford to constantly be buying him the latest cell phones. Unfortunately, I have been swimming in a sea of red ink ever since I decided to go "all in" as a teacher, not because I can't teach, but because I must have offended somebody along the way, and there is probably some black mark in my files, or one of my references is poisoning the waters, or otherwise I would already have a full time teaching position.

Playing with Apple products this Sunday, the simplest of simple tasks became torturous, even for someone whose original computer was the "fat Mac 512." An old gadget geek, I have always been persistent enough to overcome most technology woes, but my experiences with Apple products, Evernote, a free "productivity app," and the "cloud" were frustrating enough to making me want to become a 21st century Luddite, and reject digital for analog, since analog is reliable and cheap, just like my friend Ricky, who is too intelligent to be a handyman, whose craftsmanship and heart is too old fashioned to make much of a profit from little old ladies, who is too proud to demand the respect that he deserves as a professional, because he takes what he does and who he is personally.

My efforts to show my parents the benefits of getting with the times and actually using their IPhones and  IPads as they were intended to be used began with a simple effort to download Evernote, a free productivity app with unlimited potential. Apple's clunky security features required Fort Knox quality passwords, which my 78 eight year old mom and my 82 year old dad were unable to remember -- no wonder Kurzweill has recommended that passwords go the way of the dinosaur, and has been promoting a physical key as the password's replacement. What should have been a 5 minute walk in the park turned into a detour through the Valley of Death. Unlike my lovable Fat Mac, Apple's modern user interfaces were not intuitive -- no wonder why dad has no patience for it. He has a revolution to fight! Unlike my Android, going backwards as I tried to navigate Apple's App store became a Labyrinth.

Later, I discovered the unreliability of Evernote, when overtasked by incompetent neophytes. Shocker! I was unable to corral my dad to help him help me manage the file sizes as I interviewed him. Episodes from his first encounter with Medgar Evers, dirt road encounters with a famous murderer in Ruleville, secret church meetings with political activists as they identified hard and soft targets in a church in Greenwood Mississippi, just like what he had experienced while working in the Strategic Air Command, only in Mississippi, which in 1963 was still fighting the Civil War, a suppressed report on Mississippi was flowing like water. Visions of Denzel taking a leading role in my movie flashed before my eyes, but reality hit like the naked lunch at the end of my fork. 4mb audiofiles, 48 minutes long did not compute. Evernote teased me with a vision of how easy quality collaboration can be, then left me nearly in tears, when the 4mb  wav audiofile "disappeared," was removed from my dad's shared Evernote Notebook, probably by some manager of a "cloud" server farm, before I had an opportunity to save the file to my hard drive. My dreams of being a modern Boswell to a Samuel Johnson shattered like a broken cell phone, because I had been unable persuade my dad to pause every 3 minutes to parse the interview into manageable chunks that the technology could handle. Poof! My dream of getting my mom to recreate her animal stories from the Internment Camps, from a child's eye, which I lost originally when my old microtapes were destroyed in the attic, were frustrated by the unreliability of cloud technology and lack of trust in the process. Once again, tonight I drank from the bitter cup of defeat.

When I stop by my parent's house in Arlington, I prefer to come unannounced, because I know that if I give too much advance notice, they will pounce on me. Their questions always probe the open wound, wondering about my efforts to find a seat on the bus in the field of education, efforts that are not going so well, and that I do not enjoy talking about, despite having invested several years, and thousands of dollars trying to become a master teacher, despite the positive way students naturally respond to me, especially when I engage them in dramatic read alouds. The less time my parents have to prepare for my Inquisition, the better.

Generally, I bring Mabel with me, since Mabel always forces the issue. When Mabel is ready to go, she quietly sits facing the door on the door mat. Her body language is unmistakable: she needs a "walky walk," or just wants to go in "daddy's truck," because it is time to go.

Today, I came to Arlington in search of Francis Bacon's argument about the appropriate use of science and technology, Francis Bacon and the Modern Dilemma, written by Loren Eiseley, which I hope to use as I frame my argument about how technology is being used or not being used in schools, not to clear up all of the mistakes I made when I posted about Medgar Evers, not to bring my parents into the digital age. My plan was to get in, find the the book, and get out. Mom did not have the book, so I ordered it on my Smartphone for less than $5 online, not from Amazon, but direct from a domestic book seller via Abe Books. At the same time, I ordered Red Kimono, by Jan Morrill, after I came across her recent Facebook posting -- a must read. Accidentally, I came to understand why my parents have not chosen to "go all in" with ubiquitous technology. Given my natural curiosity and general overconfidence, I decided to seize the opportunity to demonstrate my vision of appropriate technology use.

My vision of technology has become a flashpoint with both students and administrators as I have tried to engage students with intransigent behavioral issues in purposive learning experiences that incorporate technology and have found myself drawn into unwanted power struggles. Most teachers do not understand technology, partly because most teachers happen to be women, and unlike me, are far too focused and practical to waste hours upon hours fiddling with gadgets. Most teachers efficiently find analog solutions that work perfectly well in the classroom, which are good enough. When administrators observe a room full of students playing with computers, they tend to overlook important details about what and how students are using them. Districts invest millions of dollars into computer technology, which in my experience is generally being used inappropriately, or not at all, because the process is so incredibly time consuming, frustrating, and disorganized.

When I tried to show Nancy, a 6th grade student, the Google Art Project, which enables anyone to visit virtually any art gallery in the world, I needed Chrome, and lacking administrative privileges, I was unable to seize with the full force of the moment, and lost out on my Robin Williams like moment from Dead Poet's Society. When Nancy and I tried to publish her writing using one of several underutilized XP Dells, in which she shared her dream of becoming a famous artist, just like Da Vinci, finding the network printer in our room on the student computer was unnecessarily laborious. When I tried a workaround, and saved it to my Skydrive, it worked one day, then some net manager decided that my Skydrive was a security risk, and blocked me, so I invested the time in finding out how to find a network printer, instead of investing time with Justin, a student with expressive language difficulties who found it nearly impossible to generate sentences. Arghh!

At least I was able to show Nancy how she might insert a copy of the Mona Lisa into her paper. I wanted to show Nancy how she might digitize her own drawings, I wanted to show Nancy how she might insert her own drawing them in her paper, because a reader would be more interested in her unknown drawings than the work of some famous, but dead artist, but I didn't get the permanent job. Again, I lost my seat on the bus.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Curtis Blues Assembly

Watch "Curtis Blues" on YouTube

I got to experience a genuine "one man band" during an assembly the other day.  He played the harmonica,  a guitar, and drums simultaneously,  just like Mississippi Delta Blues legend Robert Johnson. His harmonica and each of his five guitars all had stories about how and why they were constructed, which helped the children understand the origins of the blues,  and the irrepressible spirits of blues musicians.

Outlook is dead to me

Never thought I'd say it, but here it is: "Outlook is dead to me in 2013."

Tonight, I discovered that the old Google Sync, which made it possible to sync Outlook's calendar to Google Calendar is history. Google's master plan all along, in providing a free service, was to intended to shift enterprise clients, (i.e., schools, businesses, and government clients from Microsoft Exchange Servers to Google servers.) Free? No way!

Our "free" Google applications are not really free. Consumers pay for them through cellular service contracts. Ad revenues? Yeah, right!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Poem from schoolfeed.classmates.com

Currently, I am preparing to write a scathing critique of how technology is being used in schools and elsewhere, in light of what we are learning about Adam Lanza and the Notre Dame football player with a fake girlfriend, and the widespread lack of empathy I have observed in an entire generation of elementary school students raised on violent video games. Here, on the other hand, is an example of technology being used for what I would consider to be a positive purpose: to connect people.

A Poem by Danny Ary (link from schoolfeed.classmates.com)

With permission from the author, some unknown, underappreciated American war hero, who is finding his voice, and finding the courage to share:

Danny Ary     Poetry  
When and how did the pain start
In the dark recesses of the mind
Or in the tender core of the heart
No, twas both anguish entwined

Sharp edges of dreams cut deep
Peeling back layers of raw nerve
As graphic scenes interrupt sleep
Sapping my soul of critical verve

This as aches throb within my chest
Grief and shame tearing at my core
A torrent of emotions giving no rest
A heart damaged by the results of war

Meds now keep me from the brink
But alone, late at night, I still weep
Within my mind choices I rethink
And go another night without sleep

By Danny Ary

Saturday, January 12, 2013

An Alternative View (Primary Sources)

Fascinating stuff is coming across my inbox today from dad ... not sure why, but I thought I'd share. One of my dad's favorite stories was how, during the 60's, he invited two Russian diplomats, and his friend Bob Crane, in his non-stop efforts to proselytize for a paradigm shift to Kelsonian thinking. I must have been about 4 years old, and idolized my dad. We used to have a special handshake. My dad would say, "Up the Capitalist Revolution!" I, of course, would repeat him. When doing the toast to our Russian guests, on cue, I repeated, "Up the Capitalist Revolution!" which got a good laugh from everybody around the table.

In this email exchange, Bob Crane, reminisced about an old friend. 

    The person you are thinking about is Bill Miller, who set the world javelin record in 1952 and won the silver medal at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, though he had previously beaten the 1952 gold medalist that year.  In 1972 he trained to renew his career but tore a muscle and retired for good.  He is now 82 years old and still kicking.
    Bill is not a Navajo but an Eastern Cherokee, though he was born in New Jersey.  He is an Annapolis grad and served in the U.S. Marines in Korea when I was there.  After his Olympic victory he spent several years as a coach to several teams in the Far East, but worked with me in the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO)after my friend Don Rumsfeld chose to head this so-called "anti-poverty" agency rather than any higher office when he retired from Congress and  joined the Nixon Administration. 
    Bill worked with me for several years in the 1970s and was responsible for me becoming the Founding Executive Vice President of the American Indian National Bank and then President of its consulting firm, The Native American Economic Development Corporation (NAEDC), in 1974.  As you remember, I was Deputy Director of the OEO in 1970 and then joined Commissioner Louis Bruce as BIA Ombudsman as one of the "Katzenjammer Kids" until the oil companies covertly organized the Trail of Broken Treaties as a radical insurgency designed to undermine our legitimacy in transforming the BIA. 
    My infamous 200-page Crane Report, prepared at OEO, was designed to remove the BIA from the Department of the Interior, which represented the mineral, timber, and cattle industries at the expense of Native American sovereignty, and to elevate it to a cabinet level agency directly under the President of the United States.  It was to have a lower house in the form of the NCAI (National Congress of American Indians) and an upper house composed of the NTCA (National Tribal Chairman's Association).   Since I was Richard Nixon's personal adviser on Native American affairs both before and after he became president, our goal was not to fight poverty, which is another term for keeping people forever as wage slaves or as welfare addicts, but instead to promote economic and political prosperity, which Nixon once referred to as Red Power.  You and I worked together in 1974-1976 when I was arranging for both the Navajo and the Crow nations to take over their own coal reserves and thereby quadruple their profits beyond the pittances they received from the Westmoreland and other corporate raiders, which would have precipitated a real movement of self-determination based on the then world movement of independence at the conclusion of the then formal regime of Western imperialism.  When it became clear that I was about to be assassinated, Sigrid insisted that I retire from Indian Affairs.  I have not seen Bill Miller ever since, but I think often about him and Ernie Stevens, who was Vice-President of my NAEDC and last I heard was chairman of the Oneida in Milwaukee, and whose son is president of the American Indian Gaming Commission.
    Although I am now far away as University Professor at the Center for the Study of Islamic Thought and Muslim Societies in the Qatar Foundation's Faculty of Islamic Studies, I get back to America regularly, including a ten-day seminar the last week of June and the first of July this coming summer in Herndon, Virginia on a Global Awakening.  I get three months of paid vacation every year, so it would be great if we could have a reunion of the old timers.  I am one year older than Bill, and Ernie probably is a year or two younger.  My favorite person is Peter MacDonald, who was a man of vision, but was entrapped by the Federal Government and imprisoned for twelve years.  At least he was not assassinated and still holds court, I have been told, in Window Rock.  I recommend that we get together at the Taos Pueblo, where I want to visit the grave of the Taos religious leader, Paul Bernal, a man of vision beyond all others.
Peace, prosperity, and freedom
through the interfaith harmony
of compassionate justice,
(aka Abine Ganadi Lgo,
which is Navajo for He Who Runs  in the Morning)
-----Original Message-----
From: Norman Kurland 
To: Dr. Robert D. Crane 
Sent: Sat, Jan 12, 2013 6:14 am
Subject: Name of Navajo Colleague who worked at OEO in late 1960s.


Thanks for your other email today.

I forgot the last name of Bill, who was a Navajo and former Olympic athlete who both of us knew at OEO.  Do you recall his last name?
I am discussing with Dr. Robert Ornelas, a minister and head of a sucessful hip-hop group, who is well-known among Native American tribes throughout the US, especially the chairman of the Navajos.  Like you, Dr. Ornelas is part Native American, and could be a helpful communicator of the Just Third Way.

Keep up the great work,
Norman G. Kurland, J.D.
Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ)
P.O. Box 40711, Washington, DC 20016
(O) 703-243-5155 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            703-243-5155      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, (F) 703-243-5935
(E) thirdway@cesj.org
(Web) http://www.cesj.org

Why my dad shared about Medgar Evers

When I teach writing, I stress to young writers that they talk about things they know, are good at, or have a passion to learn more about. When I was in Dorothy Brown's class, US in the 20th Century, at Georgetown University during the Fall of 1984, I spent many hours with my father discussing his life as a young lawyer during a time when America coming to a higher level of consciousness on many levels -- the 1960's.

My dad and I had many long conversations about the conflict that has always been at the core of America since the days of of our Founding Fathers, a conflict which drove many of the decisions in how the US Constitution was constructed and that I had been studying at Georgetown: the question about who to include in or exclude from "equal protection" under US law. The assassination of the returning war hero, track star, community leader, insurance salesman, husband, father, and personal friend, Medgar Evers, who was shot in the back while unloading "Jim Crow Must Go" signs from the trunk of his car, could have strengthened the hand of community leaders intent on silencing Evers, but instead the assassination of Medger Evers attracted national media attention. That was no accident, but instead sprung a legal trap which Evers and my dad had been developing called "Federal Presence," a strategy designed to draw the federal government into the South to put an end to Jim Crow Laws.

The paper which I wrote for Dorothy Brown in the Spring of 1985, my Senior year of college, was all over the place, just an unfortunate piece of writing. The project expanded well beyond the scope of what I, as a 22 year old college student, was capable of handling -- I went ADD. My dad spent many hours talking about his disappointment with his friends from the Civil Rights Movement and the War on Poverty, and their failures to embrace solutions that addressed the root causes of inequality, social and economic injustices, which dad was unable to leave unchallenged, given his willingness to sacrifice even his family in his Captain Ahab-like pursuit of Justice.

One the ways my dad sidetracked me from writing a tight paper were the many hours we spent discussing his frustration about the inaction of close personal friends, such as Eddie Brown, the brother of Rap Brown, head of the Black Panthers, and others from SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee), a man who had put his life on the line as a student but who had retired from the conflict after the passage of One-Man-One Vote. Dad recounted countless stories about close-minded individuals he faced every step of the way while working for the Department of Health Education and Welfare, where after being tasked with writing the legal brief against School Vouchers, after spending many hours hearing and analyzing the arguments of his opponents, so that he could defeat them, he came away with a changed opinion and became one of the earliest proponents of school vouchers, That Spring, dad recounted the meeting he had with Louis Kelso that changed his life, and how he later persuaded the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Russell Long, and his young staffer, Jeff Gates, to meet with Louis Kelso, which led to the passage of the original laws which enabled the proliferation of Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP's).

Dad has always been far ahead of his times.The vision which inspired my dad 50 years ago is at the heart of the Industrial Homestead Act, That vision addresses core social, economic, and moral issues that cannot be avoided as we approach what Ray Kurzweill calls "The Singularity," but like his report about the assassination of Medgar Evers, nobody is listening.

If my goal was to get great grades during college, the smart thing to do would have been to narrow the topic to the assassination of Medgar Evers. I could have interviewed my dad and unearthed many stories like the one, such as the time when he was stopped along a dark road in Mississippi by the Sheriff, who happened to be the head of the Ku Klux Clan, while driving home the children of a civil rights leader. Dad flashed his Federal Badge, and doing his best John Wayne impersonation, dad asked condescendingly, "What seems to be the problem, Officer?"

Dad told me about the time he persuaded Julian Bond to picket Sargent Shriver because his office was silencing his report on the assassination of Medgar Evers, but I was unable to focus. That inability to focus is called "The Curse of Knowledge" by the Heath brothers, co-authers of Made to Stick. Sticking to the Assassination of Medgar Evers would have been a far more entertaining paper, but then again, I would probably not have spent the next 16 years working for Allied Plywood Corporation, and would not own the home from which I am writing today.
This is the email that sparked my most recent episode of ADD, which pulled me from writing about the amazing thing that happened in my classroom the other day. That I will have to leave for another time, because Mabel needs a walk.

Hi Guy,

I'm sure Medgar, a true hero, would be pleased at President Obama's decision to extend this honor to his widow.

I thought you might be interested in the attached items.
[The attached items are some of the documents that I posted last night via Twitter and on my MrKurland Wiki. There were other documents, but I haven't read them yet.]


On 1/8/13 6:45 PM, Guy C. Stevenson wrote:

Norm, thought you would find this interesting . . .
President Obama has picked Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights icon Medgar Evers, to deliver the invocation at his public swearing-in later this month. It is believed to be the first time a woman, and a layperson rather than a clergy member, has been chosen to deliver what may be America’s most prominent public prayer.
The inaugural committee Tuesday plans to announce that the benediction will be given by conservative evangelical pastor Louie Giglio, founder of the student-focused Passion Conferences, which draw tens of thousands of people to events around the world.
The contrasting choice of speakers are typical of a president who has walked a sometimes complicated path when it comes to religion — working to be inclusive to the point that critics at times have questioned his faith.

Friday, January 11, 2013