Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Bleat Goes On: Oracular; "Save Our Wimmin!"

  Simple Pleasures:
lol i remember girls playing with these
 These are NOT "simple" things. I used to do a full, one-hour professional presentation on the symbolic and social resonances captured in these "simple" devices. I called them "Oracles." They occur in just about every place IN THE WORLD where "school" is done with paper and pencil. Oracles are part of what I called a "contraband" curriculum in schools. Nobody EVER introduces them in class. They're like cockroaches in the cafeteria. They're just always there. Most teachers confiscate them, and yet they proliferate, from about 2nd grade through about 6th. Their character changes, over that time, too...
They're fascinating things. They work on the same logic as computers do. It's also a lesson in how easily assumptions can be created and manipulated by "mediating" reality. They project the promise of randomness, but it's within a tightly prescribed range.
 I used to assign pre-service teachers the task of constructing one, and then describing, in their academic discourses, what it was they were doing: what necessary skills ere involved, what knowledges were involved... I.e.: You get geometry from the the physical construction; probability from the questions you ask, and binary logic from the manipulation of it. If you remember, you learned how to manipulate the outcome if you were the "owner" or author of the device? 
The object itself is a statement about quality of knowledge that is necessary to construct it, and the capacity of the makers to apply what they know, but don't have the names for, yet. Plus it functions as a tool in creating internal "orders" among kids. Cooties? Remember cooties? In the earliest developmental/age level appearance of these things, they're "cootie-catchers," long before they become language games. They a play a game with object permanence: it was there all along. But "Cooties" are "class" markers; they're the nits--the larval stage--of lice. Having lice sends a social signal: Lice are not found on good, clean people, so if you have cooties, you are of a lower social class.GIRLS have cooties, around second grade...
Open Season: It's not "theoretical fascists that cause the gun-goons to get all warm an bothered!
What they're terrified of is scary, uppity colored folks comin' to take their wimmins..
THAT'S who they see when the squint down the gun-sights.

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