Friday, January 18, 2008

The 2 Environ Mentalities

To Colleagues Across the Curriculum
(Courses Without Borders Series),

Environ Mentalism

We really need to let some of these
youngsters taste that feeling, because
there really is nothing better.

This is just the latest chapter in our
on-going struggle to update
our stationery.
Jeff Holmes re
“Be Serious”
Dear Jeff,

We can improve our stationery or build a better
mouse trap: the former is easier, I bet.

Here’s some Letter Head.

Put yourself in an
environment that
rewards failure.
(This place is not for everyone but
maybe you’re not for every one either)

I’ve been quoting this notion from Keith Sawyer’s book on
collaborative genius (as well as—see below) a wonderful
insight on the shortcomings and liability of clarity-addiction
if you happen to be in “creating” mode rather than “consuming”
—two radically incommensurate sets of values we collapse,
confuse, and conflate when the gun is to our heads & the
assess-mentalists are running the show in which case
clarity uber alles, damnit.

“Clarity is not a virtue. If everything
you say is detailed and explicit, you
won’t give your collaborators room
to run. Put ideas out there that are
half-baked, Ideas where you’re not
even sure what it means yet. "
I wouldn’t call institutionalized hire education an
environment that rewards failure, need we argue?

And so IF it is the case that a large margin of error
(aka: room for play) is in fact a sustainable sustaining
environment for collaborative genius (invention, creativity),
no wonder.

No wonder, I said.

Say, for the sake of argument and Environ Mental Studies,
that there were 2 Environ-Mentalities: 2 atmospheres
one could work and study in:

An Environ An Environ
Mentalism Mentalism
that Encourages that does
oops, oh, damnit Not
ahh yes, Yes YES Encourage
Failure Failure

Walk on Water
Walk on Eggs
( WOE )

In SCHOOL MODE (as opposed to Church & State modes)
which would you choose to work and study in?

No, really, for the sake of argument,
say you got to choose your team— (no myn
can serve 2 teams) which one are you going to play for?

Not that there aren't advantages to both and short
comings, sure; and it's not as if on any given day I
might not seemingly be switching teams if not allegiance
(do I contradict myself? I'm bipolar, attention
deficient, I contain multiple personae.).

But on the whole,
as an attitude & frame-of-minding:
which environ mentality serves you best is what
I'm wondering and also, which seems always anyway
despite all this talk about collaboration and genius to be
the already dominant pair of dimes, damnit.

Divide the academic program into 2 environments;
One that encourages failure (go ahead: mess up—
how else get smart and smarter); the Other that doesn’t.
The one we’re in already. Outcomes and Assessmentally-
driven make no mistake the stakes are high etc And then
there's the Other--we'd have to cultivate.
Local Food.

Let staff-faculty choose which team it wants to play for &
devise its across the curriculum pedagogies accordingly
(consuming or creating, inventory or invention). Let the
competition be friendly.We could have softball teams like
the farmers and foresters.

Environmental Studies
& Students

Failure Encouragers
vs Failure Discouragers
Walk On Water (WOW)
Walk on Eggs. (WOE)

The davids and the goliaths.

This would be an experiment:
can the 2 Environments (creating/consuming) Just Get Along?
What would it take to preserve and sustain both sets of values
without one overtaking and dominating the other?
I’m just asking.

Call it an experiment in Environmental Literacy.
And please: improve my terms and images.
I’m not that innocent.

xxxooo, Presbyter Walking on 3 Legs;
Geriatrical Studies and Leadership pogroms.

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