All posts by Michael

[Videos] Invisible Learning and a Sudbury Jerusalem promo

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Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of serving as interpreter to John Moravec, in his talk about the Invisible Learning project, in Halle (a town near Leipzig.) I had never done this before, but once I got into it it went pretty well.

You can judge for yourself – you can watch the talk (mainly English with my attempt at German translation) online:

Continue reading [Videos] Invisible Learning and a Sudbury Jerusalem promo

State oppression and universalistic nationalism

The largest ethnic group as percent of total p...
The largest ethnic group as percent of total population. (Via Wikipedia)

I’ve never been much of a fan of nationalism, or the nation-state. The idea seems to me based on imagined communities, and to invite xenophobia, exclusion, and racism. Most of all, it seems particularist (concerns itself with a small group of people) and I’m a universalist by nature (concerned with all people everywhere.)

However, a recent piece by Yoni Eshpar [Hebrew] allowed me to understand a universalist version of the nation-state ideal.

If I get this right, the idea is this: every person in the world should belong to a group of people called a “nation”; every such “nation” should live in a state in which they are able to participate (ideally, via democratic process); the states should exist to serve the “nations” that participate in it. So in the end, since every person is part of a “nation”, and every “nation” is served by a state in which it can participate, every person in the world has a part of the world to call home, where there is a state that serves and protects them.

This is a nice ideal – but it is woefully unrealistic and will never be achieved. Continue reading State oppression and universalistic nationalism

Desmond Tutu calls for divestment; some thoughts

Deutsch: Desmond Tutu beim Evangelischen Kirch...

Desmond Tutu writes a passionate call for American divestment in Israel. He gives me some food for thought on BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), and on my role as an Israeli in the struggle for a just peace.

Justice requires action to stop subjugation of Palestinians

Desmond Tutu, TampaBay.com

A quarter-century ago I barnstormed around the United States encouraging Americans, particularly students, to press for divestment from South Africa. Today, regrettably, the time has come for similar action to force an end to Israel’s long-standing occupation of Palestinian territory and refusal to extend equal rights to Palestinian citizens who suffer from some 35 discriminatory laws.

I have reached this conclusion slowly and painfully. I am aware that many of our Jewish brothers and sisters who were so instrumental in the fight against South African apartheid are not yet ready to reckon with the apartheid nature of Israel and its current government. And I am enormously concerned that raising this issue will cause heartache to some in the Jewish community with whom I have worked closely and successfully for decades. But I cannot ignore the Palestinian suffering I have witnessed, nor the voices of those courageous Jews troubled by Israel’s discriminatory course.

 Continue reading on the Tampa Bay Times »

I’m not entirely sure what I think about the Palestinian BDS campaign.

Continue reading Desmond Tutu calls for divestment; some thoughts

My “Tirade Against Exams”

I try to keep an eye on how people get to this blog, using WordPress and Google tools, and I especially take note of old posts that are still getting traffic.

Apparently the most popular of my old posts is one I wrote almost two years ago about university exams.

I’ve edited the post a little, and if you didn’t read it yet, you might want to check it out:

A Tirade Against Exams

[…]

So why are exams a bad idea when you want to check whether a bunch of science undergrads understood what you taught them? Well, one part of the problem should be obvious to anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of science:exams are not very good experiments. There is no way to control for interference of irrelevant, extraneous factors. When scientists conduct a study, in any field and with any methodology, they seek to control for irrelevant interferences. For example, when psychologists test hand-eye coordination, they’ll do something like only taking right-handed people with healthy hands and eyes, in order to make sure that the results aren’t skewed by irrelevant differences between individuals.

You can’t do anything like that in exams.

Continue reading »

I’ve also changed the blogs settings so that comments are now open on old posts, too (they used to close automatically after two months). Feel free to rekindle the discussion on the Tirade, or on any other old post.

Gideon Levy: “After 115 years, it’s time for Zionism to retire”

Gideon Levy suggests Zionism should be retired. (Ha’aretz)

After 115 years, it’s time for Zionism to retire

The national liberation movement’s time came and went. Now we have a state. Neither good citizenship nor misdeeds have anything to do with Zionism anymore.

[…]

Zionism’s way has been lost to us. That was inevitable, because it has completed its task. Once the State of Israel arose and became a national home nearly at the retirement age of the movement that engendered it, once it became established, strong and powerful, and brutal and impervious, its flag should have been folded, stored in the repositories of history as a souvenir, and Zionism should no longer have its name taken in vain. The old order of Zionism is over and the campaign over the character and appearance of the state should begin, as happens in every healthy state.

[…]

Read the whole thing on Ha’aretz.com »

( Original Hebrew » )

 

Thoughts about: knowledge, science, culture, and reality

First contents page of A Guide to the Scientif...

Human beings are obsessed with knowledge. We instinctively believe there are facts about the world which are true, which can be known, and which explain our experience of reality. But real knowledge – thoughts about reality which are true – is incredibly elusive. Human beings aren’t very good at dealing with this.

This post is quite a long and mainly philosophical one, and part of a thought in progress. Continue reading Thoughts about: knowledge, science, culture, and reality

Parents swap roles with kids, discover humiliation of parental attitude

I came across this piece on English-language Germany news site TheLocal.de:

Family puts kids in charge for a month

A German author and his wife put themselves to the biggest test of their lives last year by handing over the family power to their two children for a month. The biggest challenge? Managing the budget. Continue reading Parents swap roles with kids, discover humiliation of parental attitude

Reading problems on Internet Explorer

It has come to my attention that the blog’s design is messed up when viewing on some versions of Internet Explorer.

I’ll fix this as soon as I can, but I highly recommend using a different browser.

Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari are all great choices, available for free, and work faster and better than Internet Explorer while also keeping you safer from threats to your computer’s security.

Preparing to succeed

by Rocpoc, on Flickr

Sudbury and traditional schooling have something in common: they agree that young people leaving school should enter the world well-prepared for a successful life. For Sudbury schools too, this includes professional life – and that’s a good thing.

When talking about Sudbury schools, one point seems to get people a little worked up, at least in Europe. It’s not unusual for Sudburians to talk about students preparing themselves for a satisfying and successful life, including getting a good job. In progressive circles in Europe, a lot of people frown on this; “getting a good job” shouldn’t be so important to us, right?

I think this is all basically a misunderstanding. People don’t like to hear about school preparing children for the job market because traditional schools say they do that – but we don’t mean the same thing.

Continue reading Preparing to succeed