Friday, May 16, 2008

Consultation: a weasel word. Sucking up education.

weasel word
An equivocal word used to deprive a statement of its force or to evade a direct commitment.
[From the weasel's habit of sucking the contents out of an egg without breaking the shell.]

On feeling somewhat sucked.


con·sul·ta·tion (knsl-tshn)
1. The act or process of consulting.
a. A conference at which advice is given or views are exchanged.
b. A meeting between physicians to discuss the diagnosis or treatment of a case.

I have found myself being consulted with recently. (Note to self: add consultant to cv, PBRF audits, promotion package...)

There is an awful lot of obfuscation and obscurification going on, how about just getting back to the capacity to teach students, or not? Skip the weasel words and focus on what counts for education.

Its called consultation yet its substantively a one way delivery of information on what is to be 'delivered' with a timeframe prohibitive of alternatives. Consultation limited to tweaking. In developing communities of practice, I suggest such actions would create a climate of distrust and apathy.

And I find myself thinking blogging may be unsafe.
Only in a liberal centre of education might one really expect that asking questions, challenging rationale, and critically thinking about what happens would be honored. If you work in such a place, please let me know.
Meantime, NZ does recognize weasels as noxious pests and its a Government given mandate to help eradicate their impact.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Turn and face the strain

I've chosen to turn and face the strain even though I'm not clear on what Bowie means on tracing time.
In rereading Aramis; the love of technology the tracing of what is the murder of a good idea/project could be deemed a 'learning opportunity'.
From a counselling perspective it may even be cathartic.

To this end I explore: What does it take to kill a good thing?
Seems timely to look at changes; so I'll turn and face the strain.

According to John law, it's simple: work holding it together stops.
Doing one's own thing quietly could be blamed, not making a fuss could be blamed.
Staying below the radar contributes.

Retrospectively its possible to recognize that a lack of resourcing comes from a lack of actors. As they peel away, the project dies. Its not economics. Its not politics.
Latour points to these excuses as just that, excuses. Excuses for not doing depth sociology, where naming forces becomes shorthand to not probing deeper. The big explanations are used precisely because there is disinterest; because responsibility is being avoided.
I can paraphrase this: Where there is not a will, there is not a way.

People make decisions. People with names. Not politics or fiscal constraints, not context, positions or offices, but people who no longer work collectively to make the thing work. The chain that binds, breaks.

Confessions to a murder are rarely forthcoming.
In the area of technologies Latour suggests there is nothing very solid, just the accumulation of little solidities, little durabilities, little resistances and a project ends up becoming gradually more solid. the converse also happens. The erosion's of actors; people leave, jump ship, those who argue for more of this without realizing the impact is less of that...and so projects become more, and less, real. Reality is polymorphus, shape shifting, changing. Actors come and go. Progressive slippage of interest is traced (retrospectively).

Latour playfully suggests looking for the mice and fairies that turn a pumpkin into a coach. I extend this; who are they that turn a coach into a pumpkin? When the disinterest starts what's done to hold on? Whats allowed, required, or given away, what's not done, undone, neglected, abandoned, what alliances have been prevented, constrained. When does love lost turn to murder, dismembering, annihilation?

A technological project is never realistic or unrealistic; it takes on reality, or loses it, by degrees.
What becomes more or less real depends on the chains...the continued generation of interest, of seduction.

In Aramis, Latour manages the convincing love story that was Mary Shelly's Frankenstein: By the virtues that I once possessed, I demand this from you. Hear my reject me? Have I not been good?...Did not all the fairies hover over my cradle...If you did not want me, why keep me alive?...If badly conceived why not conceive me again? ....why turn away...

A lack of love kills things, kills projects, is soul destroying; by degrees.
I'm left feeling that

"love lies bleeding in my hand" (Elton John, funeral for a friend)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

invisible, inaudible, or in the office

'Children should be seen and not heard'
So long as you don't irritate the grownups of the world you have a right to exist.
Cute your allowed to be, attention seeking, not.
An existence subject to terms.

Seems the little beasty is a different little beasty to different people, or maybe even is a different little beasty dependent on place.

When it's my own, it's a necessary piece of what not to leave home without: keys, wallet, cell phone. An object that extends me, I can travail time and distance to communicate with others.

When it's someone else's and its ringing in a lecture theatre, movie, restaurant its an unwelcome intruder.
Even when its my own and it does this at such times, its still an unwanted intruder. I now owe a packet of biscuits to the group I run for Youthline since the little beasty made its presence known tonight.
When contacted with demands of do this, do that, where are you... it's more like a leash than an object that extends my powers.

In an article by Chris Bigum, (1998). Schools in search of educational problems: Speaking for computers in schools. Educational policy, 12(5), 586-601.
Chris talks of how the computer within schools is experienced as being a very different animal by different people. I would argue that the same can be said of cell phones.
Hijazi-Omari, H., & Ribak, R. (2007) in 'Playing with fire: On the domestication of the mobile phone among Palestinian teenage girls in Israel' also talk of how the cellphone can be an emancipatory object or a leash. Their description focuses on the love interest experience of young women and girls. The cell phone assumes symbolic representation as a ring might have in another culture.
But with added risk and benefits. The title 'Playing with fire' isnt elaborated on, but one sumizes that the risk of having the cellphone found by brothers, fathers, others may be extreme. There is also the tethering of having the sim card read to ensure that the purpose of the gift was not extended. This included one example where the 'girl' was not informed of the number of 'her' cell phone so as to maintain an inscribed use.
The emancipatory quality appeared subsumed by the high level risk involved. But many of the issues are the same ones talked of by Carolyn Marvin (1988), in her book titled "When old technologies were new: Thinking about electric communication in the late nineteenth century."

New Zealand Broadcasting Authority release research on the 6th May indicating 42% of children 6-13 years use a cell phone.
I suspect they also use landlines but thats not news worthy.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

PhD distractions.

This is my mum, she doesnt live by herself, she has an 11" toy poodle.
She knows the current PM (it has been the same one for 9 years) and so is deemed capable of making rational choices.
Mum was admitted yesterday after having had two falls this week. On each occasion she spent a night on the floor. With the second fall (yesterday) she sustained a fracture to her radius, left wrist. This is now in a plaster cast. Today their intent was to discharge her home alone, despite knowing she can only get around with difficulty and using a walker.
Seems I was the only person who thought this was irrational.
My mum, a Dr and two nurses couldnt see the problem.
A request to have my view that this was irrational be documented in her notes was resisted by the RN, so I suggested that under the Privacy Act and with my mothers permission I could see the notes and write in it myself. We were then seen by the Duty manager.
A smart person this RN: one look and she could see that a plaster cast and a walker and an elderly woman already identified as prone to falls home alone was not a good idea.
Might have something to do with a junior doctors strike due next week in conjunction with nurse's having totally given away their 'voice'. If i had thought she just needed doctoring we would have gone to a private a&e clinic. It was because I knew she needed nursing care that we went to a hospital.