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Showing posts from September, 2005

19th century educational pioneers vs. the 21st century educational status quo

Following up on my announcements of new electronic versions of classic 19th century works on education by Friedrich Froebel and Herbert Spencer are two examples of the difference between their ideas introduced well over a century ago and the educational practice today. Last Tuesday's health section of the New York Times had an appalling article , "Tough Day for Kindergartners (and Parents)" by Laurie Tarkan, about the unhappiness both children and their parents face when the children begin attending kindergarten; and how this unhappiness is being dealt with only by increasingly elaborate methods of "greasing the wheels" to make a smoother transition into the system. In the blandly matter-of-fact account of such methods, there isn't the ghost of a suggestion that the system itself is the problem, even as it acknowledges that the new environment is less individualized and breaks up the students' previous relationships with their parents and preschool c

some cool books from Prometheus

Prometheus Books is the largest and most well-known publisher of books about secular humanism in the United States, but it also has a few books that are a bit more offbeat. Here's a list of random interesting-looking books from them, prepared as part of my research for possible topics and guests for Equal Time For Freethought . In fact, a couple of books on the list (the ones by Litman and Davin) are ones I knew about and was interested in long before I noticed they were from Prometheus. Kropotkin: The Politics of Community by Brian Morris —About one of the greatest anarchist thinkers, Peter Kropotkin, and his current relevance. Morris also has a book (not published by Prometheus) about Bakunin, and Prometheus does publish a book on French anarchist Jean Grave and a collection of Bakunin's writings . Digital Copyright by Jessica Litman —Shows how pathetic copyright is and how modern changes in copyright laws, with an emphasis on the particularly egregious 1998 Digital Mi

market socialist hippie commune in National Geographic

National Geographic magazine has a regular series where they look at a particular ZIP code area of the United States in each issue. In last month's (August 2005) issue, the feature was on the East Wind commune in Tecumseh, Missouri—a prototypical 1960s hippie commune that's lasted until today. While it's always nice to see the idealistic 1960s alternatives still around (for instance, contemporary alternative schools that began in the "free school" movement during the 1960s and early 1970s), it also happens to be an interesting example of market socialism in practice. While the work and resources within the commune are distributed collectively, the commune's revenue comes from the half-million dollars of annual profit which they obtain from a nut butter business. The article makes there out to be a sharp, ironic contrast between such market profitability and the socialist ideals of the commune—the name "East Wind" comes from a quotation by Mao Zedo