Twice a week, I like to write a post about what I have been reading online. In each post, I highlight three to five articles that I found thought-provoking, inspiring or plainly useful. Don’t expect to see only articles on education, and English-language articles are not always guaranteed, but they are both the standard. This works more as a personal practice for documentation and learning, but I invite you to teak a peek into my Newsfeed.
For the first week, I’d like to make clear that I digest information in three languages: Spanish, English, and French. You can expect to find reference to articles in these languages. Thus, today’s post involves three articles, one in each language: the first one, in Spanish, is a summary of a dialogue book between two Spanish philosophers about the nature of education and infancy; the second one, in French, is a short blog post describing what he calls “liberté pédagogique” (translation: pedagogical liberty); and, the third one, in English, is an article published in Foreign Press about the increasing influence of social media in real-life political and military conflicts.
1. A brief summary of the book”Diálogos de Educación”
Link: Reseñas de Libros para el Mundo Educativo #28, published on October 4th, 2018
I recently discovered teacher and pedagogue Dolores Alvarez through her book reviews published in INED21, an influential Spanish digital magazine on education and learning. This time she writes about “Diálogos de Educación” (translated: Dialogues about Education), a book published back in 2013 by philosopher and educator Juan Antonio Negrete Alcudia.
The book, which Dolores portrays elegantly, recreates a dialogue held between the author and another philosopher and ancient student, about the nature of education and its significance throughout infancy. Particularly, they debate about questions over what should we educate children for, and how should we do it.
What I can gather from the summary is that Juan Antonio has crafted an insightful train-of-thought about educating with and through love, trust, respect, and reason. Juan Antonio initially argues that every educative process is a manipulation of the educator. Parting from this premise, they try to find the best ways in which this manipulation can happen: by helping them to reason critically, by allowing them space to discover, and by treating them with respect and trust; ultimately, putting the goal of education in guiding the student out of the manipulation itself.
My opinion? Looks like I will soon have another to-read book on my shelf.
2. A blog post about the concept of “Liberté Pédagogique
Link: Liberté Pédagogique, published on October 3rd, 2018.
I found this little post inspiring. I have never heard of the term “Pedagogical Liberty” nor of Denis Cristol, a management and HR consultant. In his post, he defines Pedagogical Liberty as a three-phase philosophical exercise, where the ultimate goal is to be free to contribute to a greater good by finding a project that empowers both you and the collective.
The three phases of this exercise are:
- internal liberty: evidently, a self-discovery phase where the individuals must learn to question and know themselves, and consequentially, being able to connect to the world and adopt the collective values of a community (against being obligated or programmed into them).
- relational liberty: defined as the ability to relate humanly to others, to learn how to neither conceal nor impose and to relate with others equally beyond the (fictitious) borders of age, gender and race.
- transitional liberty: provides agency to the individuals to act and represent a vision, it refers to our freedom for being involved and passionate about the things we love, and to guide our lives and personal projects towards constructing these visions.
My opinion? Honestly, I am usually not a lot into the self-help tips and methods found so prominently within the coaching business, but this one stuck with me because it puts social integration as its ultimate objective and it obliges us to position us as active creators of our communities. I believe it provides an initial framework for civic education and social cohesion endeavors, two recurrent topics when working with disenfranchised communities.
Denis Cristol provides no reference, and a quick online search didn’t rend any good leads, so I am guessing all of what he says is his. Let me know if you’ve ever heard of this concept.
3. An argument article about how social media and its war for attention is increasingly shaping our military and political horizons.
Link: The Future of War Will be Liked by Peter Singer and Emerson Brooking, published on October 2nd, 2018
My last article is written in English (yay!). It comes from the global-affairs magazine, Foreign Policy. Both authors had just freshly released a book on the topic (see: Like War: the Militarization of Social Media) on the same October 2nd, and I infer this article is a sneak peek into some of the ideas that populate the book. Also on the same day, an interview with Singer was also published by The Atlantic (fyi).
The article is succinct and rich, and it goes a long way in achieving its goal of selling the book. In it, both authors argue that social media is being weaponized in several ways. From the fabrication of fake news that sparked the Rohingya ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, to the Russian hacking on the 2016 USA elections, to the strategic use of fake and real news that confused the Iranian army and made them retreat in the Battle of Mosul. Again and again, we are witnessing how our dependence on social media to receive information is shaping how wars are won are fought.
“There is a war for your mind” might be the tagline of Alex Jone’s Infowars portal, but the authors are quick to remind us that it doesn’t make the phrase any less truthful. And then they quote General Stanley McChrystal “shaping the perception of which side is right or which side is winning will be more important than actually which side is right or winning”.
In essence, public opinion continues being shaped by the constraints of social media (silo-effect, data exploitation, blurriness between facts and fiction) and controlling how people perceive a phenomenon seems to be more important than the consequences of the phenomenon itself. Fiction is becoming more important than facts.
The authors end on a bleak note: this digital war for our attention is just the beginning. The availability and effectiveness of AI-driven technologies will make it even harder to distinguish what is real and what is constructed.
My opinion? It builds further on the argument that digital literacy should be a central piece of any formal educative experience. Literacy – learning how to write, read and comprehend – is still essential for communication, but as big chunks of our lives continue to migrate online, it becomes crucial to also understand our digital landscape, with all the complexities this entails. Failing to do so, can be disastrous for a democratic society that depends so profoundly on transparency, truth and informed citizens.