Author Archives: mkmigliarese

About mkmigliarese

I am a sophomore at Virginia Tech with a double major in International Studies with a Business concentration and Economics, and three minors: French, Spanish, and Leadership and Social Change. I enjoy swimming, playing tennis, and reading. I believe everything happens for a reason.

Illich offers more than four networks of alternative education

When VTCLIS12 firs started, I felt that I was in a completely different world, and I was terrified to say the least. I think this was more obvious when the undergrads sat on one side, while the grad students sat on the other. I felt intimidated by basically every single person in the class because I felt I wouldn’t contribute anything of value to the discussion, hence why I only spoke up when I really felt the need to say something. Now, I know we’ve always been told that it’s okay to speak your mind in the class, but that’s not the type of schooling I’ve come to known, and anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a fan of change. I like when things are clear-cut, with directions, and I can make a goal for myself.

 

That is the major reason I chose to do my final project on Illich’s “Deschooling Society,” because I felt that during my seminar presentation I had a good connection with it and I could relate a lot of my own experiences back to what Illich was saying and in a way, refute them. I do agree that out education system needs some work, because some things are just not working for our society. When I first started working on this project, I was doing almost the exact same thing as Hallie, which kind of threw me off track and I really wasn’t able to make headway into this until about Saturday night, when it hit me that a lot of the things Illich wrote about were present in my high school. I was in a specialty center in high school, where I was immersed in the French language and became practically fluent in it. However, the rest of the school outside of the specialty center was a mess, and it still is. I thought it was going to be hard to find three or four nuggets to present on for this, but once I got started, I had to stop myself from doing too many.

I felt very compelled by Illich’s argument on technology and how it can either be helpful or harmful, depending on the situation, in education. Technology can let a student’s mind wander for good, or it can allow them to procrastinate and waste time when they should be studying or paying attention in class. I can say with confidence that this happens more often than not, not only in high school, but college as well. In my county back home, the middle and high schools give the students computers for the entire year, hoping it will make them want to learn and get more work done. However, it not only shows the students’ motivation, or lack thereof, to do well in school, but it also demonstrates their responsibility and maturity levels. Students were so rough with their computers, and used them to play games, online shop, or just mess around on the Internet, all day long. I am all for using technology as a tool, but you have to remember, while all technology is a tool, not all tools are technology. Schools feel the need to keep up with the times of technology and giving students pieces of equipment that cost thousands of dollars, but is it really worth it? When I was researching online high education alternatives as Hallie did, I realized that this wasn’t where I wanted to do my research, because I felt that I wouldn’t be able to really put heart into it. Technology did play a huge role in those types of learning environments, since they were all online, but that was for adults who were responsible and actually wanted to learn. I decided to go a step back, and look at the big picture before you really get close to the real world.

In high school, students are constantly reminded of college, and the next big step in their lives. Well, coming from a sophomore in college, I feel like I still am in high school just because the amount of work didn’t change, I still check grades every hour after I’ve taken a test to see if my grade has been posted, and my teachers still hold high standards of their students, and I plan on fulfilling those standards and even going beyond those sometimes, because that is just how I am. I’m the type of person who gets frustrated when I’m not told clear directions, as I mentioned earlier, so this project was very hard for me to work on because I honestly had no clue where I was going or where my final destination should be. After thinking it through, I just thought, “this is what I am going to do, and I hope they like it, and I hope it makes sense.”

For this project, I also wanted to see what Illich meant by deschooling, and if I agreed with his ideas, and surprisingly, I did. In my opinion, you need to know the value something holds to you before getting rid of it. We need to break down the education system to see what really lays at the foundation of it all. There has to be some reason to it, and before completely restarting, we need to see what we do have of worth and what we can rebuild with. The education system has let the power shift from the instructors to the institution, as Hallie said in her blog, and the power needs to be redirected to either the instructors or to the pupils. But, deschooling also means abolishing the power of another person to make another attend a meeting, which I found interesting. There is no easy way to tell someone they no longer have authority over another, and it can cause even more problems. I think what Illich wanted was for people to step back and look at what has been created and where things went wrong. This does not give anyone permission to arbitrarily take things away without discussing with someone else.

Revamping the education system requires a lot of planning, thought, careful execution, and also, communication. I think communication should be at the forefront of deschooling because everyone needs to be on the same page so there are no surprises during the process or after the process is completed. I think that Illich makes some good points in his essay, but a lot of the points refute others that he tries to make. For example, he says that certification isn’t necessary to teach yet if you aren’t a specialist in a certain topic, you shouldn’t be teaching it, regardless of whether or not it involves your field of study. I think we need to give nonspecialists a chance to learn new things, because it may turn out that they are really good at it and enjoy learning more about that subject. When people tell me that I wouldn’t understand something because I’m not a certain major, its discouraging in a lot of aspects of life, and unfortunately, Illich can’t make up his mind on which side he would like to take.

The state of whether or not someone is a specialist in a certain topic and only that topic should not be the deciding factor or whether or not they teach that subject. I feel that it is possible to learn many things from people on subjects they aren’t specialists in, so we need to let people take a chance with it and see how it goes. Like I said during my presentation, my statistics teacher from high school is a civil engineer and didn’t need his teaching certification to teach, because it was something he did all the time, but I can honestly say that I learned the most from him in my entire high school career because he loved what he taught and he understood the best way to teach it. In my opinion, I feel that certification is necessary for some professions, such as medicine and surgery, but if you have been trained in something that requires an in-depth study of a certain skill, you should be able to teach that topic.

I can safely say that Illich definitely opened my eyes to a lot of different views, and some helped me understand better, while others made things worse. Illich carefully thought out this essay and wanted to make sure everything he wanted to say was out there. However, this essay was very hard to take in one go, so it is important to break it down and only take it paragraph by paragraph, because there is so much information and so many different things coming at you. This essay was very enlightening to read and I think it is something that future generations can learn a lot from when things change again.

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W3 Broken Down

This essay was very easy to understand considering it was probably one of the most intelligent ones we’ve read, or at least in my opinion. I’ve never thought about what the letters mean in the URL bar, but after reading this piece, I was able to piece a little bit of it together. I thought that the somewhat history of the different hypertexts was interesting because it shows how much the behind the scenes, or monitors, have changed just within the past few decades.

People don’t think how much work goes into just one query on the Internet. It may seem like it’s an automatic process, but the fact that it goes from server to server and then back to your computer proves how dependent we are on technology. Think about it: going to find one article in a magazine in a library is so draining, but on the Internet, with just one keyword, you can find what you’re looking for within a matter of seconds. Google even shows how long it took to find what you were looking for.

The section on recent W3 developments was interesting as well because I felt that it showed some organization with the whole system of different software and how it was presented to users. People who aren’t technologically capable of figuring out what they need for their computers or for themselves love when things are set out as a sort of checklist, because then they know what they are getting with the software instead of playing a guessing game.

The last thing I want to talk about was how they said that W3 had overflowed it’s original goal, which cold have been detrimental to a lot of things, but it turned out to expand a lot of thinking and technological innovations. I don’t think anyone saw the Internet taking off as fast, or as well, as it did. It’s changed lives, like many other pieces of technology, but I can honestly say I don’t know what I would do without the Internet.

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Video Games and Mental Health

So the title of this blog is a little much, but I felt it was the best way to describe my reaction to this essay.

I felt this piece was very much applicable to today’s society with children and cell phones, and really any type of technology. The boys I nannied for this summer were so hooked on their iPods that it was sort of sad in a way because they didn’t have any social skills nor did they have any morals when it came to talking about killing/maiming/anything inappropriate in an appropriate manner. I’m all for kids playing around with programming to see what really can happen when you fix one little thing in a code, but there needs to be a line drawn so they can know how to function not only in a social situation, but how to conduct themselves in a serious situation where they just can’t hit a button and everything will go away. Children being able to use video games as an outlet is understandable, because as in Jarish’s situation where he really didn’t have a place where he felt comfortable, he felt that through video games and by “conquering” and “controlling” them.

I feel there is a dependence on video games from children and there is no way, at the rate technology is going, that it can get better. The advances in technology have created an even bigger generational gap, and unless something is done to slow it down, it’s going to get worse. I’m all for video games having a positive impact on children, but there is a healthy safe limit. I believe it can help their imagination and expand their intelligence, but social skills and moral stability need to be considered as well.

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Mindstorms: Computers and Children

This essay was sort of an expansion on Kay and Goldberg’s “Personal Dynamic Media” and how children are able to learn so much by given free rein with computer programs. I thought this piece took it to a new level by adding in supervision and curriculum aspects. However, there is a difference between supervision and curricula, because supervision is giving advice and aid along the way while curricula is in a way a standard that the child will have to meet with the computer programming. The different types of thinking and learning were really interesting because the brain works in certain ways while the mind works in completely different ways. The mind is allowed to roam more than the brain is because of the different things they process. In a way, I thought it was creepy how, in the picture sequence in the back of the essay, it was as if a therapist was telling the “viewer” what to do, with all of the turns and angles and how to create the picture.

The discussion on the different types of languages in which programming can be learned intrigued me because it showed how things can be interpreted differently by different people. I thought the piece on teaching children/babies a vocabulary of 50 words would be easy for them to learn, but it would create so many problems when it came time for them to have more complex thoughts that they could not express with only 50 words. Sure, everyone has their own ideas on how to learn or teach something, but it’s important to remember that everyone is different and has different learning styles, so the same thing won’t work for everyone.

Overall, this essay was interesting, but I didn’t like it as much as some of the others we’ve read. I found it sort of repetitive and very similar to the piece by Kay and Goldberg. However, I do feel it’s possible to take things from this essay.

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Kimon: Does this place exist?

The first thing that really jumped out at me was the realization that people have to sort of go through a “child” stage in every new thing they take on. It takes Bishop the entire essay to realize that the only way he can become a pseudo Kimonian is that he must be a naive child and sort of give the system some pressure and resistance, because it will show that he recognizes the expectations of society and that he is starting to conform. This happens to every person in every new stage in their life because they are no longer the person who knows everything; they are in a way inferior to the people who do know the ropes. To me, this connected back to our discussion from Illich and how you have to work your way through what society wants you to do to really prove yourself and become something in the world.

Another thing I would like to discuss is sort of branching off from the child stage, but the fact that Bishop had to go through years of studying and passing an exam that only one out of a thousand people pass is sort of parallel with high school students and college. With Kimon being so selective, it reminded me of how universities are so selective today as compared to even a few years ago. This also relates back to Illich’s essay with following what the system wants you to do, and being forced into a pattern of 12+ years of schooling just to reach the bare minimum, and now 12 years isn’t even enough.

One last major thing I found interesting was the differences in cultures between Kimon and Earth. From the differences in schooling and behaviors within the cultures, Kimon has a much more sophisticated atmosphere and Earth is portrayed as an unorganized mess that doesn’t really have a strong diplomatic standing within the “galaxy”. When reading this section of the essay, it reminded me of how different US cultures and Asian cultures are. In Japan, children start in school much earlier and start with harder material, which is why Asian children grow up to be much smarter and are more able to innovate in the technological world. A majority of American children, and the number is growing, are starting to think that they can do less and less and still do well in the world, which is wrong. It is so important to work hard because that will give you the work ethic and the motivation to be successful when you are older.

I felt that this essay could have gone in a lot of directions, but these things are what stood out to me; let me know what you think!

 

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Habitat: What do players actions say about themselves?

I can’t say I wasn’t surprised when I read this article, because with technology and the advances it’s made, anything is possible, especially virtual worlds. I found it interesting that when the players were polled for certain things the creators wanted to fix and understand, they were ambiguous, even on moral issues, such as killing people. Yes, it is a make believe game technically, but morals shouldn’t really change. I feel like the 50% of the people who said it was okay should probably get checked out for anger issues. Another thing I thought that showed poor planning on the creators’ part was the ability for some players to hack the system so easily, but when they were confronted, they made it seem like nothing wrong had been done. To me, it sort of reflects how so many things can be twisted to look innocent, especially in today’s society. I also found that the complexity with the whole project was so much more massive than I thought it could be. When they talked about the one big activity they created for their players, that took them months to create, and then said it took one person only 8 hours to complete it, and instead of being upset, they were able to open their eyes and really see that even though they created it all, they didn’t have as much power over everything as the players did.

On the virtual world part of it all, it reminded me of Sims so much because that really is the interactive world of my generation. In that game, you could do so much, but people could do things to you and your possessions, such as light them on fire and honestly leave you with nothing. It all comes back to the having morals thing, and some of the people who play these types of games don’t think morals exist in virtual worlds, but in my opinion, they do and they should matter when it comes to anything, no matter reality or virtual worlds. Overall, this essay was not the best because I was not a player of virtual world games and it repeated what I already knew about them. The only new thing I learned was that it was far easier for players to manipulate the game than the creators thought.

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Deschooling Society

I felt that for this blog post, it would be best if I put my notes from what I wanted to say/the discussion, because this is about as organized I could be about it.

 

I thought it was very insightful because everyday you hear at least one student get frustrated with a teacher, and its inevitable that teachers get frustrated with students who either don’t get “it” or don’t try and still do well in school. Thinking about the overall sense of the essay, apprenticeship comes to mind, which in a sense, would allow people to really live in what they want to do with their lives. I found it interesting with the nursing example in paragraph 67 that due to the increasing needs and wants of medical boards and whoever else decides who becomes a nurse and who doesn’t, that nurses are in short supply because schooling is just so expensive. And not only does money come into play, but you have to get top grades to be even considered to go on to the next level, which seems to to be a daunting task in itself.

– talk about Bon Secours and how people who can’t afford a four year institution plus higher level nursing school can choose to attend these programs when they already know what they want to do in life and can skip all of the other things such as general education requirements and save a ton of money

  • bring up tech centers in high school and how those allowed students to start their own sort of apprenticeship

-Four networks of newer education:

  • Reference Services to Educational Objects
  • Stop restricting use to non-studentsà this creates frustration towards tons of people/committees/boards and just high level power in general
  • Library books: only people with cards can check out books, can be hard to obtain library cards, which cuts people off from learning about things they are interested in
  • Rich v. Poor kids à mainly third world countries and the gap is not getting any closer, actually getting larger with the increases in technology and the lack of funding for proper resources there
  • Skill Exchanges
  • This screams apprenticeship and really sets up a great system for creating connections
  • Allows for people to really see what the job is like firsthand instead of reading out of a book for hours on end, when its not the same as dealing with situations as they occur.
  • Peer Matching
  • Not the same as skill exchanges, but its better than being stuck in a partner or group project and the other members don’t care about the project when at least one person does
  • With peer matching, both people want to do well and understand that this will help them in the future, and they may be able to help the other with something that was hard to understand at first and that way they are able to grow as students
  • Chess example: if you play with someone who doesn’t understand the game or doesn’t care to learn, what do you gain from it?
  • Professional Educators
  • This can go either way for me, because there definitely 1) are some teachers out there who should not be teaching and 2) some subjects are difficult to teach and need to thought out when it comes to presenting it to students
  • The lack of communication between all educators within one organization has a lot to do with why teachers become frustrated. When boundaries aren’t clear with how educators and teachers are supposed to do their jobs, people tend to lose focus of their goals and just sort of coast until the next school year starts
  • Paragraph 98 specifies the 3 different levels of education that should be distinguished.

-I felt that even though the majority of this article is about changing the school system to be less curricula based and somehow more of discussion and hands-on based so students can take more from their peers views and not have their nose stuck in a book all day.

-Coming of age part: paragraph 51. I didn’t really think it was necessary to bring religion into the discussion because those are traditions you can’t just get rid of. I understand the letting kids become adults when they are younger to teach them responsibility at a younger age, but some things you just can’t change. Yes, it is important for children to understand what is going on in the real world, but to force them to change their way of life for that is a bit much.

 

Do you think a deschooled society would help or hurt us? Who would it be more beneficial for? Rich or poor? Will it allow other parts of the world in a different light?

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Compiling history farther back than I thought

It took awhile for me to really understand what this essay was saying, but with the passage about the fashion designer in New York made sense about what Viola was saying. Being able to call upon certain things from the past without having to spend hours and hours searching for them has made life so much easier for everyone. I couldn’t imagine not being able to find facts within documents, or certain sentences without everything being in reach of just one click of a mouse. It’s interesting to see how technology, not even the Internet, has changed in so little time. Storage and organization of computer files have expanded tremendously, and now instead of having to own multiple portable hard-drives, they can usually get by with not even one. I really don’t know how to comprehend this essay just because for as short as it was, I didn’t feel there was enough to really make me say “wow!”. I thought it was interesting in the way it explained data storage, but it was stuff I already knew about and I felt like there could have been something more to make it just a little more mind boggling.

 

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Is time really linear?

The last class discussion about time being linear and the role time plays in comic strips really got me thinking on how we perceive time in reality and in the real world. Mentioning how time can be linear made me think if you can even think back to a certain time in the past, or a time in the future coming up, or are you really just in one spot of time and you have to wait for the next one to come up? In my opinion, even though time may be linear in the fact that you go from one minute to the next in the ways of a clock and scheduling, but you can have flashbacks, or plan in the future to either plan out your day or just plan out one event you plan on attending. The comic strip of the incredible Mr. Spot in the book sort of clarified this for me, even though it is almost impossible to take money from your future self. Time is a hard concept to understand because of the variations from here on Earth to how it is perceived in space where one day could be over 1,000 hours. So, technically, yes, time is linear in the idea that it goes from one point in time to another, but people have the ability to think back in time and think forward in the future. I apologize for this blog being this short, but I felt like this was the majority of our talk on Thursday, and this is what really stood out to me during our discussion of whether or not time really is linear or if we can sort of morph it into our own thing.

 

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Why can’t all essays be comic strips?

First: Wow. That was probably the easiest essay to understand because I’m probably one of the few college kids that actually reads the comics, and gets excited for the ones that come on Sundays because they’re in color.

Second: I’ve never even thought about the connection between time and motion and panels within comics because to me, nothing in a comic happens in an “instant”. I just consider everything to take place in my time, how I’m reading it, because even though the artist expects and plans for it to only take a second, it takes the reader maybe 10 or 20 seconds to read just one bubble.

I thought it was really interesting how the different forms of motion can be portrayed in a comic strip is viewed differently between cultures. I’m not surprised that motion was a bigger deal in Japan because the differences between their comics, and even their cartoons, and American or European ones are just so phenomenal. Details play a big part in how a comic is perceived by a reader, and even when I read comics, if I feel like the artist was just trying to finish something quick, I won’t be willing to read it. If they won’t take the time to make things look neat, then I won’t take the time to read it.

Also, the connection with how many panels are in a comic strip can make a difference with how a comic is interpreted. I would rather read a comic with multiple panels instead of one big panel because with one big panel, I get overwhelmed and I sort of stress myself out over reading a comic strip. Kind of ironic, ya think? It’s a lot like reading a picture book, however, with more picture than book. Comic strips are meant to be broken up into smaller fragments so they are 1) easier to view, 2) easier to understand, 3) easier to read, and 4) easier to enjoy. The section on how artists are starting to sort of create a maze for their readers to use to read their comics is obnoxious to me. I would get so frustrated if on a comic strip I had to jump around to find the next panel. No, thank you, that’s just mean.

Overall, I liked this essay because it was easy to read and easy to understand. Comics make me happy, especially if reading one counts as an assignment. These readings usually take me 2 hours to read; this one was done within 20 minutes just because of the way it was set up.

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