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September 2007

August 2007

Shaping Young Minds

Filthy_capitalismA reader, Wayne Fontes, has steered my belated attention to a Seattle after-school childcare programme, the Hilltop Children’s Centre, the staff of which are keen to ensure that children aged 5 through 9 have the correct kind of play and the correct kind of thoughts. In an article titled Why We Banned Legos, published in the Winter 2006/07 issue of Rethinking Schools magazine, two Hilltop staff recounted the pressing political issues raised by brightly coloured building blocks. The article’s authors, Ann Pelo and Kendra Pelojoaquin, ominously related the details of an investigation sparked by the children’s building of a village made of Lego,

“...and the questions embedded in their play about resource sharing, authority, ownership, and power.” 

As someone who has, recklessly, bought Lego as a gift for children (and played with the stuff himself, both as a child and more recently), I was shamefully oblivious to the distressing potential of this plastic construction toy. Thankfully, the Hilltop teaching staff has paid much closer attention.

“The teachers’ observations of the inequity and unintended unfairness that this play created led them to launch an in-depth study with the children about the meaning of power and ways to organize communities which are equitable and just. This investigation was anchored in… our commitment to social justice, anti-bias teaching and learning.”

Pelo and Pelojoaquin tell us, shockingly, just how focussed and possessive small children can be. 

“A group of about eight children conceived and launched Legotown. Other children were eager to join the project, but as the city grew — and space and raw materials became more precious — the builders began excluding other children.”

The horror continues. 

“The Legotown builders turned their attention to complex negotiations among themselves about what sorts of structures to build, whether these ought to be primarily privately owned or collectively used, and how ‘cool pieces’ would be distributed and protected… Into their coffee shops and houses, the children were building their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys — assumptions that mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society — a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive. As we watched the children build, we became increasingly concerned.”

Continue reading "Shaping Young Minds" »

End Not Yet Nigh

In his 2006 TED lecture, Professor of International Health, Hans Rosling, shows that, contrary to rumours, the end is not yet nigh. Complex global trends - in life expectancy, child mortality and poverty – are revealed in ways that may surprise. See the world changing. Marxists please take note.

Professor Rosling’s follow-up lecture, filmed in March 2007, can be viewed here. More here and at TEDblog.

(H/T, Vitruvius.)

Friday Ephemera

Via 1+1=3, Peter Murphy’s VR panoramas. From Sydney New Year celebrations to the Dalai Lama tour. More. // Also, Japanese condom packaging. From monkeys and fish to mighty phallic robots. Something for every taste. // Implausible superhero origins and what would actually happen. Radiation mishaps, hair loss and sterility. // Comic cover browser. Over 77,000 covers, from Tales to Astonish to Howard the Duck. (H/T, 3:AM.) // Modesty Blaise. (1966) Espionage, shades, general fabulousness. (H/T, Coudal.) // Image Mosaic Generator. // Megunica. // The Electric Eel (1954) // The Pitfalls of Tele-Shopping. (1983) // The Large Hadron Collider, part 2, part 3. // World distribution of religious belief. (H/T, Stephen Hicks.) // Robert Spencer on toileting the Qur’an and unilateral “hate crime”. // Hitchens versus CAIR’s dissembler-in-chief, Ibrahim Hooper. // Links between CAIR, Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. // Professor of linguistics calls nerds “hyperwhite”. And racist, naturally. // On horseplay, hysteria and lawsuit opportunism. 13-year-olds’ obnoxious prank equated with rape. Tearing of hair ensues. // Ancient Egyptian wig, circa 1550 BC. Human hair, resin and wax. // Via Coudal, bees. // What’s that bug? From Cyphoderris Monstrosa to the Silver Argiope. Know your bugs. // Millimetres Matter. Scaled-down slapstick. // How to make very small pancakes with a syringe, a spoon and a credit card. // Justinas Vinevicius’ promo for G&G Sindikatas’ Burning Snow. Lithuanian hip hop. // Or maybe a spot of Hank. Williams, not Marvin.

Ravishing Nostalgia

Thanks to Drawn!, I discovered Hans Bacher’s archive of Animation Treasures. Bacher collects, restores and annotates rare frame grabs and background paintings from classic animations. From What’s Opera Doc? to Max Fleischer’s Technicolor Superman cartoons. For anyone with an interest in animation, it’s a wonderful find. Even for mere mortals, it’s still rather lovely.


Head there now.

Fleischer’s Superman animations can be downloaded here and here. Magnetic telescopes, mechanical monsters, foreign people, Lois in a jam! Something for everyone. Related, and possibly NSFW, Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex.

I’ll be away tomorrow, but, please, dry your eyes; I’ll post fresh ephemera on Friday.