"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Colonizing Measures

Colonizing Measures

The UCR [Uniform Crime Reports which originated in 1929] reveals more about police behavior that it does about criminality. Some law enforcement agencies falsify the reports they submit to the FBI. Once a citizen reports a crime, police must make an official record for the crime to be counted in the UCR. Sometimes, however, law enforcement officers do not complete a crime report. For example, in Atlanta, crimes that were reported to police were not recorded for a number of years to help the city land the 1996 Olympic Games and boost tourism. In 2002 researchers discovered more than 22,000 missing police reports that were never submitted to the FBI. Those reports included more than 4,000 violent offenses that were committed but never counted....Both individual officers and police departments may take these steps in response to the extreme pressure they face on a daily basis on a daily basis to demonstrate that they are doing their job. (Regoli and Hewit, Exploring Criminal Justice, Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2008)


Teacher Friend:
I'm getting tired of folks referring to Thoreau as strictly a "nature writer."

you see how the world shrinks our giants?

Dismissing a political thinker by asserting his irrelevance to the human due to his ostensible subject.  HE is over there apart from us and only writing about things that no one SHOULD care about because humans do not live naturally.  we simply use nature.  We must minimize T because he makes us very aware of all our failures...they are so obvious that we must simply willfully make him say the opposite of what he saying.

go out right now and get Dave Graeber's two recent books Debt and The Democracy Project.  Call it your Christmas gift of awareness....then share liberally, er, anarchically (I guess then I should just pirate them for you...)

A society where we continue to elevate the lowest common denominator.

nah, it's a pervasive ideology of the human out of nature...

My comment was in regard to your "shrinking our giants" comment.

Our students know that Paul Walker died (Fast & Furious) but not Nelson Mandela.

We elevate the unimportant, entertainment aspect of our lives as our own form of SOMA; and disregard the "real work" of those who challenge the societal code.

But yes..... I agree totally with your HDT passage.

"HDT, that silly guy, who lived out in the woods by himself and wrote about nature."

yes.  of course...the America in which Paul Walker is any kind of news or person in which you might take an interest is an example of how Empire valorizes active ignorance.

The wealthiest government is the most powerful due to military might...at anytime anywhere the US Military and/or its proxy can knock on our collective doors ("home" and "abroad").  So, our inane existence, our lack of human awareness and self-awareness, IS required as we fund and support the most murderous and ruthless empire since, what, Genghis Khan?

If you're not anesthetized to this, and then "convinced" of the country's "exceptional" godly goodness (and thus "election") you cannot believe you're complicit.

This is an insurmountable battle --- as in, our youth drink from that Holy Cup of ignorance daily; without any intentionality or self-awareness.

A senior (a very fine young man) was speaking candidly with me yesterday that our top five students (who are competing for Valedictorian) are all cheaters and plagiarists..... to the point of PURCHASING old quizzes, tests, projects from alums who want to make a profit off their high school endeavors.  This is what we've come to: purchasing our way to the top (even in education), and turning that into a for-profit venture by past cheaters, er, successful Americans.

I was baffled!  He responded: "Mr. TF, don't think for a second that they don't already have your class 'purchased' for next semester."

He, like many of this generation, feels more obligation to his peers/friends than to what is right and just. These guys defend bad behavior all the time -- they're not just quiet about it, in that they don't "rat" out friends, they DEFEND it.


...even if the measure, when first devised, was a valid measure, its very existence typically sets in motion a train of events that undermines its validity. Let's call this a process by which "a measure colonizes behavior" thereby negating whatever validity it once had....

...officials of the French absolutist kings sought to tax their subjects' houses according to size. They seized on the brilliant device of counting windows and doors of a dwelling. At the beginning of the exercise, the number of windows and doors was a nearly perfect proxy for the size of a house. Over the next two centuries, however, the "window and door tax," as it was called, impelled people to reconstruct and rebuild houses so as to minimize the number of apertures and thereby reduce the tax. One imagines generations of French choking in their poorly ventilated "tax shelters."

...the SAT is not just the tail that wags the dog. It has reshaped the dog's breed, its appetite, its surroundings, and the lives of all those who care for it and feed it. Its a striking example of colonization. A set of powerful quantitative observations, once again, create something of a social Heisenberg Principle in which the scramble to make the grade utterly transforms the observational field....the SAT has so reshaped education after its monochromatic image that what it observes is largely the effect of what it has itself conjured up.

...measures of performance that are quantitative, impersonal, and objective was, of course integral to the management techniques brought from Ford Motor Company to the Pentagon by "whiz kid" Robert McNamara..."General, show me a graph that will tell me whether we are winning or losing in Vietnam."...McNamara had created an infernal audit system that not only produced a mere simulacrum--a "command performance," as it were--of legible progress but also blocked a wider-ranging dialogue about what might, under these circumstances, represent progress. They might have heeded a real scientist's words, Einstein's: "Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted, counts."

(Scott, James C. Two Cheers for Anarchism, Princeton University Press, 2012.)

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