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inflatable planetarium

Education in the Microcosm

Frances A. Yates fans will remember in her The Art of Memory how the goal of an Hermetic education was to consciously construct one’s model of Reality. Either construct your own, or have one constructed for you.

The notion that one “constructs one’s own reality” later only became a debate in connection with Piaget and his portrayal of stages in knowledge acquisition and behavioral repertoire. His “constructivism” became controversial and polarizing, portending later storms that would cross the Educational Plain (a teenage wasteland for the most part), wreaking havoc.

If you could furnish your home office as a planetarium, now wouldn’t that be grand, but then how would it work? Perhaps VR glasses would work just as well?

My friend John sold an inflatable planetarium model, showing up in schools and producing a show the kids never forgot. They’d file in, in small groups, and sit on the floor of this thing. I’ve been in it once. Amazing.

Perhaps I’m thinking too literally about everything.

The Art of Memory, with its special Memory Desks, and Memory Rooms, puts us in touch with the extended metaphors that later become our electronic “desktop”.

Many of us have become quite acquainted with our vocabulary of iconically represented desktop applications.

Such language all had to be invented, to accommodate and situate the technology in people’s minds and daily practice. Ergonomics is everything.

Now that junior has tasted learning from home, sampled Daniel Shiffman doing Process work (as distinct from Process Work, by Arnold Mindell and practitioners) on Coding Train, and taken in some Socratica, not only on Python, but Group and Number Theory to some extent, junior is having second thoughts about dialing back to what they called “school”.

I’ve had my School of Tomorrow visitors, poking around on Github to see what I’m talking about, with the “tetravolumes” and “hypertoons” and so on.

That won’t be the story for every junior, of course. Summer started a little early and after an extended “staycation” it’s looking like study time is looming over the horizon again, same as every year (part of a cycle), but with added wrinkles, due to a wildfire not yet put out, and yes I’m speaking metaphorically again, about the pandemic.

Not every junior enjoys the bandwidth or even has parental permission to be surfing and sampling what could be pernicious.

State run schools provide the approved guided meditation that leads to social acceptance and worthwhile careers. I’m saying the state continues to have an opportunity to reach its demographic, by reaching out online, not just through brick and mortar. The state will encounter a competitive environment but should relish the competition, given the competitive free market attitudes it so often preaches (I don’t know about your state necessarily, just talking about mine for now).

The pressure to get back on track and away from Youtubes, the home speaker system, the multi-monitors, with all that mathematics, including quaternions, for rotating action figures, feels somewhat good intentioned, but mostly like robotic reflexes. The invisible hand, guided by the Ouija Board impulses of a collective process, turns out to be a somewhat dead one, all too often. Too robotic. We march into gunfire, thanks to all that drilling, in the art of getting killed.

Goodbye learning about Unicode and base 2 and base 16. Hello word problems wherein Farmer John had only so much fencing and wanted to enclose the maximum area… daydreaming now. Remembering: oh yeah, that’s why we don’t have school all year around, because during summer the kids are needed in the fields.

Yeah right, right? Who lives in dreamtime now?

My party line over here (one of the Pirate Party factions) is that we’ve forsaken public schooling for awhile, at least in terms of curriculum, given the gummint itself is all corporate privatized. That’s one of our syllabus readings, and it’s under satire, you’ll be reassured to know.

Grunch of Giants by R. Buckminster Fuller, talks about the dissolution of the century old British Empire and the rise of the supranational business class and its high rises in city hubs around the planet.

From satire, we turn to farce, and even more recent events. Our curriculum includes the curriculum itself as an object of attention, is self aware.

That’s what we mean by consciously crafting your own model, responsibly and painstakingly because you don’t want to have to always be revising it on the fly.

Patching your mental model a lot, as you go, may be a smooth operation, or represent a lot of overhead. It’s a royal pain in the rear to switch horses in the middle of fast moving water, per the old adage.

The USA squeezed in between these two chapters (British Empire, supranational Grunch), helping to launch our current age, still characterized by lots of nationalism, along with the advent of more virtual nations, with or without much of a contiguous land-mass footprint. The virtual nations are more dispersed, like corporations.

Some of these developments were more in science fiction than in the legal sphere. My curriculum tends to encourage science fiction, both as something to read and watch, and something to write and make.

That’s our doorway into utopian and dystopian themes, likewise popular on television. When I interviewed candidates for Princeton, a lot of them mentioned Black Mirror as a favorite TV show.

Science fiction is also our doorway into American Transcendentalism and the exotic mathematics it contains, all wrapped up in a neat little ball called “the concentric hierarchy of polyhedrons”.

Anchor computer science here, with polyhedrons our paradigm objects, our containers, but call it lambda calc instead (in contrast to delta calc). So now we have our marketing niche, our trademarks.

Will the state be any help during this transition to “at least one GPU per child” home / school ergonomics?

Will you be able to pad out your castle keep, your personal workspace (PWS), with more goodies, if you start to get good online?

They’ve been warning us about gamification. What if that includes a philanthropy component? Not only are you earning academic credits in your profile, you have frequent opportunities to donate to favorite causes. That’s built right into the infrastructure, as if at Starbucks or something, which does indeed provide WiFi.

I call it Coffee Shops Network, a set of copyleft business plans.

To what extent will these newer cyber-schools self organize?

The coding schools have already pioneered a lot of the infrastructure, along with MOOCs and more individualized tutoring models, such as we had at O’Reilly School of Technology (OST), an experiment in the code school sector.

From OST I went back to 4D Solutions and Portland Energy Strategies, as tax appropriate billing agencies. I also kept a W2 open for my Summer School and Covid Camp counselor roles.

I’ve bundled my offerings under Oregon Curriculum Network and hung out a shingle (actually erected a plastic pyramid of C6XTY and yakked about it with the neighbors — Portland has a tradition of showcasing artworks in the yard).

The coding schools tend to use the “camp” metaphor at many levels. You may know some of the lore.

Remember Foo Camp? How about Bar Camp? These were things.

However what about real camping, a more outdoorsy experience? How is an outdoorsy life compatible with more bat cave like aesthetics? “What physical obstacle course might get in my way?” a student might ask? “Will I be asked to climb steep cliffs?”

If you’ve grown up in Gotham, you’re not used to seeing the stars for real. Your night sky is never dark enough.

My exposure to scuba diving, which I took up with my dad (mom didn’t quite make it through the tests), involved some math and physics. I call it “first person physics” when there’s some bodily phenomenon involved, such as riding a roller coaster to get it about velocity and acceleration.

In scuba, one needs to understand about the Gibbs Phase Rule and how temperature and pressure influence internal body chemistry. Pressure is especially important as we’re not that used to varying it, whereas temperature we all know about and have to keep within a narrow range.

My curriculum poses several models of a village size lifestyle, some aspects of which would scale. You won’t need my curriculum to teach you about all the patterns and/or let you simulate and even implement new ones.

A lot of my curriculum is about taking you to the doorstep of a new discipline, as a stork might bring a baby (neophyte) to new parents.

Dancing? How could computer science involve choreography?

You’re kidding right?

Asylum City I call it, a playlist on Youtube on my channel, a meme, and an allusion to an Asylum District that I live in. I’m doing like a James Joyce thing and making my writing place based.

A lot of us think curricula should be place based too.

Teach about what’s up right where you are first and foremost, using history to fan out and build the context. You always end up with a whole, a model of the Macrocosm, when you start this way, by growing whatever Microcosm you happen to find yourself within. Why not give it a try?

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