Thursday, March 17, 2005

Journal of unreproducible words

Sophie is getting close to speaking, on the cusp really. She will say something, or almost say something, then never say it again.
Recent Cases
1. Wandered out into the living room and stumbled onto the cat "Chicken!" She yelled.
2. Changing her diaper to the "Chili's BBQ song" (don't ask) Get to the end and I was distracted momentarily, she pipes up 'Barbeque Sauce" I swear!
3. Carly and I are playing with Sophie, I find her pacifier... hand it to her, she shakes her head and finger and says "no" in this very casual way.

Her babbling is getting more complex, lots of new sounds.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Teleological Political Philosophy

The social security debate (well if that is the right term) has got me thinking again about what the world/society ought to look like. The bushites use the term 'ownership society' to depict what they see as an endgame (I think). It is a society where people succeed with effort, and take responsibility for their own lives, failures and families. Okay this is a very charitable interpretation. But even this ideal is incomplete. It is very vague, and not very explicit about the sorts of things people would do say one hundred years from now if we inched closer and closer to this goal.
So I am offering the germ of an idea of a Telos of my own.
The Education Society.
The end game of my society is one in which the major industry of the world is education. Rather than aim at efficiency in education, we should aim at extravagance. In the future, the least number of people possible should be working on subsistence industries (food, manufacturing, fuel, etc..). Those jobs should been seen as necessary evils towards the main goal of teaching. The primary focus of our teaching will be young people, but education will be ongoing, since by educating the educated we will increase the amount of connections, cross-overs, and inter-disciplinary discoveries (all of which better our youth education). In terms of labor, every person 'unemployed' by advances in technology, methodology or obsolencence will be reemployed in the education field. They of course, may need some education to be able to enter that field, so the need for educators will be ever increasing.
Here are some advantages of my system:
1. Since more knowledge tends to increase the number of questions, there is no eventual obsolescence of education. Even fields deemed obsolete (say post-modern literary criticism for instance LOL) would have a natural decline period allowing for scholars within the field to either retrain, or simply fall off with attrition.
2. There doesn't seem to be the problems with saturation in a field that we currently have. If aiming for a better education system were the social imperative, halving class size, adding tutors, tailoring education to the individual, etc.. all seem like obvious ways of improving it, even if the improvements are only mild. This runs contrary to the idea of efficiency in education (where we want the cost of education to be as low as possible).
3. The period of time a person can serve usefully as an educator is longer than most other occupations. So increases in longevity and the like add rather than subtract from social value.
4. A social goal would be full employment as either teacher or student. If not one the other, or both. All people have something to learn and something to teach. Finding out what people have to teach or where they could help most in the education field would be one of the jobs of educational professionals.
5. Side-benefits. There is probably no field of study which does not have side benefits from its study (a part from 'mere' educating). Obviously the sciences and arts have direct benefits to society in real material terms. But the other fields do as well. These benefits might come about more efficiently that the current 'capital' based systems because educators and researchers need not justify their discoveries in terms of some salable product. Medical research could focus on cures rather than treatments for example.

Potential Problems;
1. Lack of Production incentives. This is the old capitalist saw. If I can't profit from it, why should I bother? If everyone is teaching, who is raising crops and making shoes?
In the short term, if more people were employed as teachers, they could (a) train better employees for those jobs, increase our efficiency and invention; (b) more employed people, even on the public tab, means more people able to afford products, creating increased demand, fits our service based economy better as well; (c) allow fewer people to fall through the cracks by having more attention to each student. In the long term, we'd be creating an ideology of knowledge for understanding's sake, so the people will feel impelled to learn, discover and convey this information. Also, the development of higher technology and learning will no doubt accelerate the advancement of technology anticipating the eventual eclipse of the supply and demand economy (where for example energy is virtually limitless, and supply can be met by rearranging the underlying matter/structure of all things (granted that is a ways off)).
2. Ideological issues. Who will be doing the teaching, and what will they be teaching? This problem is shared by both the 'intelligent design' people, and people concerned with the White Male Upper Class Canon being the dominant ideology (feminists, decontructionists, etc..)
My hope, and perhaps this is a vain one informed by membership in the aforementioned group, is that an educational ideology is self correcting, much like the free market is alleged to be. (Only better). Since there are some fundamental requirements of the education society, critical thinking, an open mind, etc.. Any attempt to monopolize the content would be short lived at best. If one supposes that critical thinking and open-mindedness are themselves tools of the patriarchy, I am not sure how to reply. If open-mindedness requires at least that people consider the merits of something before rejecting it, and critical thinking requires, at least, some criticism on purely rational grounds, then I think a monopoly of that type would not be so bad. In experience, movements like post-modernism, Marxism, Feminism,and such, have met with reasonable success and welcome in the contemporary educational system, I don't see why that would change.

Baby feeding break. More later.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Mid Term

So with some experience under my belt I made some real effort this semester to encourage early efforts on student papers this semester. I led the students in a semi=gripe session about the printing and computing woes at home and on campus. Students love to complain about the facilities so it was easy to get them to list the difficulties with printing papers. After getting them to suggest it might take two or three days of efforts to get a printed and stapled paper, they were forced to admit that they should start trying to print their own papers a few days before the deadline. So as a result, I only got half a dozen papers slid under more door late (compared with the dozen or more last semester). And no one came to me with a lame excuse. Well almost no one.
I have almost finished one class of grading, only three more to do!

Baby Updates

It has been awhile so I thought I would make an update.
William and I shared some binding time this weekend. Carly took Sophie on a couple of visits and I got to stay home with the little one.
Normally, a one month old is only so much fun. I think Phil mentioned pooping, crying, and sleeping being pretty much the life of a new born. And that is basically correct.
But yesterday as we just hung out, Will lay there staring into my eyes. He really seemed interested in me. His expression had that "who is this strange man?" look. It was fun changing my expression and watching his reactions. After a little while he started smiling. I am not entirely sure whether they were "social smiles" the term pediatricians use for smiles ellicited by social interaction (rather than farting for example).
He is still not sleeping well. Or rather, we are not sleeping well since he tends to be up every hour or so. Last night was particular tough, it seemed like he didn't sleep more than a half hour at a time. Tempers are running a little thin around here, but we are managing. It helps to know that it will end.
Sophie is just getting cuter and cuter. And she is getting more communicative. Last week I swear, she ran out in to the family room after a nap, saw the cat and yelled "Chicken!" He hasn't reproduced this. But she is saying Mommy quite a bit now as well as "bubbles". She knows a number of signs (Daddy, Mommy, Kitty, Bean, Finished, Milk, Orange, Bath are among her favorites). She is definitely beginning to understand cause and effect, especially with buttons (TV, Phone, Toys). That has plusses and minuses. She is also starting to do surprising things like make her stuffed animals dance and play. She "feeds" her animals and dolls with a little bottle. She is very affectionate with Will and the rest of us. Hugs and kisses are part of the normal routine.
Everyone loves babies, so it wasn't too surprising to get oohs and aahs when we go out. What is great for the egos is when we go to places where everyone has kids (like the mall palyground) and people still seem entranced by her. Pretty heady stuff.
now if we could get some sleeep all would be well in the world.

UPDATE: William had a good night last night. He slept for two hours in a row, then three!