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My quick thoughts, back stage, and rants as I try to Teach kids about the Web while learning how to help others build a better Web.


Come Journey Through the IndieWeb Sites


Greg McVerry

Notes For: The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students through Digital Learning

Yellow highlight | Location: 190 Note | Location: 190 Orwell Note: Yellow highlight | Location: 299 Note | Location: 299 Being smart, especially in a fast-changing and complex world, requires people to beg, borrow, or

17 min read



Being smart, especially in a fast-changing and complex world, requires people to beg, borrow, or steal new ideas.


initial mentorship to get us prepared to learn from experience in specific areas or domains; lots of prior experience; clear goals; something being “at stake” (mattering to us emotionally); and the opportunity to act in a way that elicits a meaningful response from the world.


Note:Circuit of reflective action

idiots savants



What does this truth-seeking game look like? It looks a lot like what we called in the first chapter the “circuit of reflective action” carried out collaboratively. In the circuit of reflective action, we formulate a goal (and the goal could be answering a question) and then we take an action in the world. We see how the world responds to the action, ask ourselves whether this response was good or not for the accomplishment of our goal, and then, if need be, act again on better information or a redefined goal. The circuit of reflective action is an interactive conversation with the world.


Note:Gee on the collaborative nature of truth seeking

This leaves us in this chapter with the human need for agency. By this I mean that people want to feel they are effective actors in the world, not just spectators of other people’s actions. They want to feel that their actions have their intended consequences and will lead to success in accomplishing their goals (this is a large part of what feeling a sense of control is about).


Note:Gee defining agency Also implications to why is starting place.


To be agents, people need both opportunities to be an agent and models of effective action. They need to see that taking action can really matter, and they need to see what successful action looks like.


Note:Gee on why agency matters.

Such self-organizing knowledge communities also freeze thought. They have their own standards and conventional ways of proceeding, often built bottom up and democratically to some extent. But they seem to be able to unfreeze decisions and solutions faster than formal institutions can.


Note:Gee on knowledge communities being able to unfreeze institutional thought.

(extended) kin, they could see what others saw as corruption in different terms. The deathbed scene in Edwin


Let’s use the term “imagined kin group


Note:A phrase loaded with connotative meaning.


What polarizes a group and makes its members reject multiple perspectives and critique? One thing that can do it is a feeling of being oppressed or not appreciated, of being “cheated” of their rightful due.


Note:Want an example? Read the comments at @politico


Unions became, for some, kin-like groups.


Note:unions defined as kin-like and not imagined kin groups. Take opportunities to discuss bias.



We can all be in “Schools for One.” However, we have argued throughout this book that one can be a lonely and stupid number for us humans when we are left alone to “be me” and “do it my way.


Note:Interesting thesis on the problems of overly customized learning.


The genius of human beings was and is the invention and use of tools to make themselves smarter.


Note:JPG defining human intelligence based on tools.

There is a name for the ways in which knowledge and ability can be shared between a human mind and a tool. It is called “distributed cognition.” The ability to see far is distributed (shared) between the eye and the telescope;


Note:If knowledge exists between human and tool where does intelligence lie? The act or mind?


An artificial tutor learns how a learner behaves and what the learner likes and then adapts to the learner, which is a form of leading the learner to water and persuading him to drink


Note:Defining artificial tutors.

This had one good effect and one bad one. The good effect was that more people could design and unleash their own creativity. The bad effect was that people needed to learn less and work less hard. It was harder, too, to earn status, since more people could now design well without a lot of learning and hard work.


Note:On plusses and minuses of intuitive design features and updates. Status and access affected.

Experts are people certified by other experts who know a great deal about one relatively narrow area. The disciplinary names we use, labels like “economics,” “biology,” and “law”—are actually too broad to characterize an expert. Experts specialize in sub-parts of these larger domains.


Note:Defining experts. Status and competency based?



Understanding and dealing with the consequences of complex systems requires pooling different types of expertise from different domains in a highly collaborative way. Going it alone is out of date and dangerous.


Note:Why we need collaborative models of teaching and learning.



two basic foundations for why the human mind can so easily go awry in the modern world. One is that humans are not oriented toward truth but to meaning. The second is that humans do not like to carry heavy things around in their minds.


Note:Notice the explicit cues to text structure in the chapter. Gee tells us his organization.

Humans orient toward meaning in the sense that a person, thing, or event has significance and value within a story that gives their life and actions, and the world they live in, a purpose. For humans, meaning in this sense answers questions like “Who am I?,” “Why am I here?,” and “How am I part of something larger than myself?


Note:Gee takes a practical view of "meaning" and describes importance of the narrative.

The human urge to find and create meaning is closely related to what we called in an earlier chapter mental comfort stories.


Note:Looking for meaning to explain. Hope is a veil draped over natures indiscriminate ways.


Perhaps ironically, we humans have never become modern mentally. Most of us still do not like to carry in our heads knowledge that does not seem applicable or useful in the near future.


Note:Pracitical knowledge dominates our daily thoughts.


Nothing weighs heavier on the human mind than complexity. We humans are very poor at dealing with it. Too bad, then, that the modern world is replete with high-risk complex systems


Note:Interesting point but also notice the transition to the next chapter.

In complex systems there are too many variables and too many interactions among them to control them all. Thus, they are not directly open to being studied through “controlled studies” of the sort normal in less complex areas of science.


Note:Education and the classroom are def. complex systems.


I mean by this questions that can only be answered by considering and at least partially figuring out the workings of a complex system or a system complex enough to count as a complex system to our human understanding


difference w/ cognitive science. It's transformational knowledge not transfer of knowledge.

Such questions require pooling lots of different sources of knowledge, building models, trying and re-trying different interventions, testing various explanations, and returning again and again to the drawing board. They require looking at things from different perspectives and seeking alternative viewpoints and new sources of ideas.


Note:Better definitions of inquiry learning. We need to encourage transformational knowledge.


We know this though: complexity and our inability as societies to deal with it is killing us. Global warming, environmental degradation, global flows of economic speculation and risk taking, overpopulation, global debt, new viruses, terrorism and warfare, and political polarization are killing us. Dealing with big questions takes a long-term view, cooperation, delayed gratification, and deep learning that crosses traditional silos of knowledge production.


Note:Collaborative Inquiry. The reason it's cornerstone of online research and media skills.

Our public sphere is in tatters. We are divided by ideology and harmed by greed. More and more in our highly competitive societies, it is each of us for ourselves or our families alone.


Note:I really see this starting with the birth of the internet, conservative radio, and The Clinton Era.

But looked at as part of an ant colony, the ant is very impressive indeed. What if humans are missing their colony? What would their colony be?


Note:We romanticize social insects quite often. They deserve awe but the metaphor ain't perfect.

public forum.


Note:In many ways the true public forum is a dream as old as democracy.



it means that status affects everyone’s health all the way along the line of the status hierarchy. Lower status = less health; higher status = more health all the way along the line as a matter of statistical probability.


Note:Why we must recognize the Literacies involved in the spaces kids play hack and make in.

They also feel a sense of agency and control when they feel that their actions count and contribute to society, when they feel like participants and not spectators.


Note:This is also true in the classroom.

chapter that these needs are integral to human beings. When



is our appreciative system in different domains that tells us whether the results of our actions—our probes into the world—are good or bad for accomplishing our goals. We


Note:Interesting concept here. Will have to think on this one.

empirical question does not ever lead to absolute truth. The “game” of answering empirical questions is a “pragmatic” game. We seek the best answers we can, act on them as our “best bets,” and stay open to revising them and learning more.


Note:The "game" of answering empirical inquiry questions.


Science is the empirical game and we have seen that the empirical game is just the normal circuit of reflective action on steroids.


Note:Definition of science.


rare piece of information or a rare viewpoint may be crazy and, if so, it will wash out as we pool all our sources.


Note:The internet is a self gleaning oven of ideas.





empirical game, whether played by credentialed scientists or by all of us, must always and everywhere be coupled with social activism with the goal of making a better world where more people count


Note:Social activism as being central to scientific inquiry?




engaged in social activism,


Note:And those who engage in clicktivism. "Ohh you changed your Facebook profile pic. Big deal" edu523



humans as reciprocal tools for each other + nonhuman tools (artifacts and technologies) all networked and integrated together. We are “plug-and-play entities,


Note:Knowledge and memory then would be situated in activity and embodied acts.



network a “Mind” with a capital “M.” A Mind


Note:Gee loves distinguishing by playing with letter conventions.



Which people and what tools I plug into and play with are those I hope and believe will make my life and my world meaningful and valuable.


Note:Purpose driving education.

 Mind Visions are ideas about what groups and whole societies, coupled with their tools, ought to do. They can be visions of the good life, of morality, or of power and destiny. They can lead to great good or great ill. Mind Visions do not really come from any one person. They have to be ideas that are contagious and that spread.


Note:Collective thought or visions. How borgish yet compelling.

Synchronized intelligence is a well-coordinated dance among humans and tools in the service of a better world. It is the intelligence of people linked to each other and to good tools, not left on their own. Synchronized intelligence is the product of Minds working well.


Note:Synchronized intelligence. wonder if Agee distinguishes between intelligence and knowledge.



affinity spaces should have the following features.


Note:Great looks like a more exhaustive list. Time to redo the video.



People are in them by choice. They are in the space because of a shared interest in a common endeavor, not because of their race, class, or gender. Their affinity for each other is based on a shared endeavor. In fact, on the Internet people can hide their race, class, and gender (and other aspects of their identity) and use these as assets strategically if, when, and where they want to. In an affinity space people choose who they will be and which parts of themselves they will invest and share. People of diverse ages and backgrounds are in the affinity space. They are not age-graded. People with different skills and different levels of expertise are in the affinity space. People range from “newbies” to “old hands.” In some affinity spaces credentialed experts comport with amateurs. Sometimes amateurs get to be as expert as credentialed experts, becoming “pro-ams” (professional amateurs). Some people in the space have an interest in the common endeavor and some have a real passion for it. The space is built to fan interest into passion. However, one need not go all the way to passion— people can satisfy their interest and move on—but they must respect the passion as an attractor to the space. Those with passion set high standards that others acknowledge and seek to emulate. There is no “grade inflation” or “dumbing down,” only multiple routes to mastery for those who seek it. This does not mean standards are not negotiated and contestable, but it does mean that people in the site have allegiance to discussing and pursuing excellence. The space is focused on knowing and doing (production, solving problems), not just on knowing. Some people make massive numbers of contributions to the space, others make many less, but every contribution, large or small, has the chance to matter, change things, and contribute. The space recruits a diverse array of talents. Even someone with limited skills or quite rare or special skills can find a place where their contribution counts. The space is designed to allow for multiple contributions, to leverage diversity so that no piece of knowledge or skill goes untapped, and, yet, too, to focus people’s attention on the places, problems, and parts of problems to which they can make their best contributions. Yet people are still allowed to roam free if they want to and try new things. In an affinity space, leadership and status are flexible. People sometimes lead and


Note:I notice in the new list of defining features Gee omits the word knowledge. I wonder??

what I will call “storied truths.


Note:In all of Gee's writing storytelling , writing, making is central to learning.



Research has shown that brainstorming, in which students throw out as many ideas as they can with no critique—supposedly to free them up from fear of criticism—can easily make students less creative than they would have been if left on their own. Teams, whether students or not, actually perform better when the free flow of ideas is coupled with critique and debate.


Note:Need to find the research on brainstorming.


Rather, human intelligence and creativity, today more than ever, are tied to connecting—synchronizing—people, tools, texts, digital and social media, virtual spaces, and real spaces in the right ways, in ways that make us Minds and not just minds, but also better people in a better world.


Note:Intelligence as syncing


All these programs would share data (something that digital media can help with) in order to support children’s learning in a coordinated way.


Note:Lot of fear of big Data among parents.


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