Mindful And More

I decided, after listening to an interview of Ellen Langer, to read more about her mindfulness research. Having done so, I certainly appreciate her insight into mindfulness generally, and for education specifically, but I’m skeptical about her proposed solutions.

Her research, Langer explains, focuses on the costs of mindlessness and the benefits, including greater control and more opportunities, of mindfulness. “Mindlessness,” she (2014) maintains, is “pervasive” and contributes to “virtually all of our problems” (xiii). Mindfulness, which as Langer understands it involves attention to context and variability, creates heightened awareness of and more control over contexts, as well as increased authenticity, new possibilities, and more hope and change (xviii, xxv-xxvi). Moreover, it can make work more like play and play as important as work, and it can lead to changes in the ways see others and ourselves, as well as our health, abilities, and even happiness (xxvi).   Continue reading “Mindful And More”

The Times In Which We Live

Almost 2,000 protesters, as the Chicago Police Department reportedly estimated, marched at Northeastern Illinois University Friday morning, and many more filled Loop streets in the afternoon as a coalition of unions, community organizations, and other groups joined together in the 01 April Day of Action.

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Continue reading “The Times In Which We Live”

Economic Fairness and April First

A recent Tribune editorial characterizes the Chicago Teachers Union call for an April first job action as a “Tantrum Day,” and it dismisses this call by suggesting that most Chicago workers cannot whimsically decide to stay home because they’re “upset about conditions.”

CPS teachers in fact have been asked to join other educators, social service providers, nursing home employees, and other workers in a coalition that foregrounds the costs of the current budget impasse in Illinois and calls for fairer funding for these public services and public goods. As such, this action is part of a larger debate about the future of both the State of Illinois and, some suggest, the public sector more generally.  Continue reading “Economic Fairness and April First”

An Urban Warrior

I saw Eddie Bocanegra on the stairs after I had seen him on a screen. He had a few minutes, he said, before class, so we talked about his role in The Interrupters, a film about violence in Chicago neighborhoods that I had recently seen, and his experiences as a student. Then he went to his class while I continued to the bus stop. At that time, I was struck by how upfront and open he was, especially given his experiences, and I’ve sometimes wondered what he has been doing since his graduation. Now I know.

Commencing College

Commencement speakers seem to offer variations on the same themes, at least at all the graduations I’ve attended, and then comes an interminable march of graduates across a stage where they shake hands with administrators and teachers. That is a perfect time to consider why they’re, and we’re, there anyway.

Almost everyone (96%) believes, according to a recent Gallup-Lumina poll, that a postsecondary education is important. At the same time, many believe that it is unaffordable for everyone who needs one (79%) and that it needs to change to meet students’ needs better (80%). Continue reading “Commencing College”