education

Other Things to Know I Learned from Kindergarten

Perhaps you’re familiar with the poem All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. It’s a classic of American infantilism, that innocence, heart, and “values” are more important than thinking. I’m all for the sharing and wonder celebrated in the original, but it’s notable the teachers are conspicuously absent. They are an invisible benevolent force, a manifestation of good-natured fairness guiding the core values of the room — not inappropriate for poem written by a minister. When power and authority are invisible, it makes sense that it all seems normal and natural.

I found this not to be the case. Having just put my daughter through Kindergarten, her first engagements with teachers and classroom discipline were hardly invisible. In fact, navigating power and order was a hallmark of the year. As such, it was interesting to draw out other lessons from the experiences of these little people engaged with a bureaucracy for the very first time. So here are other things to know I learned from Kindergarten:

  • You can only speak when called on. But no one really hears you unless you speak out of turn.

  • The ones who get the most attention are those who demand it.

  • The authorities like best when you stay within the lines. It’s more fun when you don’t.

  • Authorities will ruthlessly deny, redirect, defend, and cover up their mistakes.

  • Rules are other people telling you what to do. The rules are arbitrary and subject to change without notice.

  • Some people are not nice to play with. But your best friend may be the person you just happen to be sitting next to. You just don’t know it yet.

  • Everyone is an artist.
>  9 July 2014 | LINK | Filed in ,

A is for Activist

As a parent, I’ve had a very hard time finding progressive children’s books for my toddler. Innosanto Nagara felt the same way, so he and the Design Action Collective decided to do something about it. They are designing a picture book for radical tots — a full-fledged, pro-social and environmental justice ABC book. I've backed this on Kickstarter and you should too!

A is for Activist


Update: September 13, 2012. The book is funded and in production! You can order it now at aisforactivist.com

>  1 July 2012 | LINK | Filed in ,

Roads Emergency

Grover, Road Safety Ambassador

It’s a design emergency. Road trauma is the number one cause of death and injury for children in every country of the world. And crashes disproportionately affect the poor with 9 out of 10 deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

While the engineers huddle over traffic and urban planning, there’s one monster big enough for the educational front.

Your lovable pal Grover has taken on the role of Global Road Safety Ambassador in support of the United Nations’s Decade of Action for Road Safety.

Ambassador Grover stars in a series of PSA’s developed by Sesame Workshop and the Global Road Safety Partnership to accompany a Road Safety Education Framework for educators, parents, and communities.

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Inspired by the success of the red ribbon for HIV/AIDS and the white band against global poverty, the Decade of Action group is also promoting a yellow Road Safety Tag to increase awareness of the issue. Sports figures, celebrities, and politicians have been spotted wearing the tag.

>  18 May 2012 | LINK | Filed in , , , , ,

Good in School

Last month, GOOD posted this write-up about an increasing number of graduate design programs focused design for social impact. There’s more to say on this, but in the meantime, no need to wait for grad school — why not start a student-run Design for America studio on your own campus? DfA’s previous projects focus on childhood diabetes, hospital-acquired infections, cafeteria water conservation, and children with post-war stress.

>  25 April 2011 | LINK | Filed in , ,
Mud Baron. Kids Gardening Mud teaches gardening on a massive scale — across the LA County Unified School District. He raises funds, de-paves urban lots, works with kids, teaches teachers, and Twitters it all. This guy is busy! So it seems appropriate that this interview takes place via Twitter.
>  16 March 2011 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

Updates

Recent happenings on old blog posts:

More Public Schools: In March 2009, I wrote about The Public School a website where people propose, discuss, and coordinate free, offline classes taught by volunteers. The project has since expanded from Los Angeles to 6 more cities including New York, Paris, and San Juan. And still more coming soon! I taught a class on Mapping as Activism last month and had a great time.

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Listener Supported: In December 2008, I wrote about Spot.us, a site for crowd-funded news where anyone can pitch and help pay a journalist to produce a local story. Last week, Public Radio Exchange announced they will pick up the software to launch StoryMarket to bring the model to public radio.

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Guerilla Wayfinding in NYC: In March 2006, I proposed a compass rose stencil at the exits of New York City subway stations. Shortly after, stencils started appearing! A year later, City officials decided to implement a few test marks of their own, and I found out the idea had been proposed back in 1992. Now it’s 2010 and new compass stencils have popped up at downtown subway exits.

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The Trouble with Hippos: In February 2006, I wrote about the Hippo Water Roller, a rugged, round water container designed to be transport water on tough rural roads. Last year, Alissa Walker reported on some of the obstacles the project encountered with extended use, and when trying to scale up production.

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Public Designer: My first article for Communication Arts ran in February 2005 on citizens designing for better government. It included several examples orchestrated by Sylvia Harris. This month the AIGA published a great interview with her that’s worth checking out. Harris is a public designer if ever there was.

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Get the E out of NYC: In 2004, I wrote about New York City’s trial collection of electronic waste for recycling. On May 29, 2010, New York State decided it’s illegal to throw away your electronic waste in the regular trash. Governor Patterson just signed a producer responsibility law requiring manufacturers to pay for collection and recycling of e-waste from consumers (including individuals, schools, municipalities, small businesses and non-profits.)

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