Tag Archives: Intrepid Classroom

Generation We

I first came across the Generation We video through my Twitter network. I think it was Alec Courous who posted it first. The video, while a bit overly produced and polished, seemed to have an urgent and authentic message. I followed the links to the website, and eventual I ordered the print copy of the book, although a PDF format is available from the website.

The book much like the video has its flaws, but over all the Generation We project appears to be a worthwhile endeavor. I will briefly highlight my criticisms, but I want to spend more energy on promoting the message, in hopes that more people will join the movement.

After reading the first few chapters, in which Eric Greenberg, identifies the make up of the Millennial generation, I found myself a bit insulted. The overly simplified generalizations, the slick use of stock photography, and the profusion of meaningless charts and graphs make the book appear to be more of a comic book than an important manifesto that will lead to any meaningful social change.

Greenberg spends too much time early on in his text, in my opinion, focusing on the importance of his project. The self-important tone early on in the book detracts from the powerful points he will later make. The overuse of colorful pull-quotes with words like “hopeful, optimistic, progressive, forward-thinking, and independent,” were a bit too much too handle for a cynical Gen X’er like myself.

I suppose that this sort of MTV-ifaction of his prose was meant to retain the attention span of a younger audience, but if Greenberg truly believes that this generation is as brilliant as he claims, then he should start by giving them a bit more credit, and simply deliver his message of hope and activism directly, rather than dilute it with shiny ornaments.

My second and final critique of this book is that we should always be skeptical of any one who so easily generalizes about large groups of people, making grandiose statements like:

Members of Generation We see their friend’s coming home from was with permanent injuries; they find themselves unable to afford healthcare, to save for retirement, or to fill up their tanks with gas. They blame the right for these problems, and they see the obstinacy and narrow-mindedness of conservatives as being antithetical to their own optimism and spirit of innovation. So they reject the failed solution of the right, even as they refuse to commit themselves wholeheartedly to any political party.

Chapter two of the book is riddled with oversimplifications like the statement above, but I suggest that readers simply skim the first chapter and get to the meat of the book. While Greenberg’s sophomoric style takes some getting used to, his message is a valuable one. This book would make an excellent text for any Global Issues class. Let us now explore its merits.

We are here to learn and evolve as souls, and this journey we call life is about having a higher purpose and meaning beyond satisfaction of our sense and accumulating possessions. Life is about working on behalf of others, taming our egos, and sharing our talents to make the planet a better place.

The book first outlines the pressing issues facing the world today:

  • Environmental Collapse
  • Health Catastrophe
  • A Failing Educational System
  • Economic Disaster
  • Creeping Totalitarianism
  • A World Ravaged by War

Each one of these bullet points is elucidated by sharp, concise prose like this:

Today’s mass media are effectively an instrument of mass consumerization. Commercials and editorial content both serve the same purpose: to brainwash viewers into choosing violent toys, processed food, fast food, and other poor lifestyle choices. They program us to spend our lives in front of a TV screen, video-game console, or computer monitor, where built-in tools for marketing, promotion, and habit influencing can work on us continually, making us sedentary, obese, diabetic, weak, and dependent on artificial stimulants. This then affects our cognitive ability and locks in spending, time, and consumption patterns. Before we know it, they own us. And if we are different and dissent, they marginalize us and ostracize us from society, abandoning us to lives of hopelessness, voicelessness, and poverty.

Suddenly Greenberg’s book is no longer a cute comic book, but a manifesto for a coming revolution. A handbook for a cultural lost in its own self-obsession and preservation. He goes on to say:

Simply put, Generation We inherits a planet in peril, in which plunderers who treat the world as their private property are exploiting institutions of government, society, and business to control resources, manipulate media and markets, and sell out the long-term interests of their nation and the world for personal short-term gain.

These hostile trends aren’t accidental, nor are they unconnected. They form a pattern by which plunderers and speculators seek to manipulate society so as to maintain and expand their own power and wealth. A former president and first lady used to speak about “a vast right-wing conspiracy.” Here, if anywhere, is the real conspiracy—collusion among business and governmental leaders, media moguls, educators, and religious leaders who have contrived national and international systems that serve to keep the people weak, fearful, helpless, and under control.

The goal of this conspiracy is not to impose ideological or political doctrine but simply to control the world’s power and wealth. These systems keep people sick and drained of energy through food that is non-nutritive, healthcare that is unaffordable, and an environment that is toxic. They keep people ignorant through an educational system that stifles dissent, stultifies creativity, and deadens the mind.

They keep people physically and psychologically dependent through reliance on illegal drugs, pharmaceuticals, other addictive substances such as nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol, and addictive behaviors such as gambling, electronic games, and mindless entertainment. They prosecute and convict record numbers of youth, especially minorities, to keep them from exercising the power of their numbers in the political system. They keep people frightened through constant drum-beating for war, exaggerated threats of terrorism, and media-created bogeymen (from Islamist extremists to illegal immigrants). And they keep people helpless through out-of-control debt, brainnumbing work, and financial dependency.

Their goal: to create a world in which the majority of the population are like high-paid serfs, unable or unwilling to organize, protest, or assert themselves and capable only of serving their corporate masters.

Greenberg goes on to outline the opportunities available to fight these perils:

  • The Power of Technology
  • The Global Spread of Knowledge
  • Environmental Awareness and Holistic Thinking

And a comprehensive agenda for what needs to be done. (This agenda can be found from the PDF book on pages 145-147)

Maybe you have a few other items you would like to add to this list. That’s great. Our goal here is to prime the pump—to start a national conversation, especially among Millennials themselves, about where we want to take our nation and the world. We are proposing an agenda—a list of items for discussion—not a plan. It is up to you, and every concerned citizen, to take part in shaping the strategy. Maybe you think some of the goals we’ve listed here are too ambitious—that we are being unrealistic in our dreams for the future. You may be right. But history shows that the human capacity to achieve great things is far greater than we normally realize.

The book ends with an impressive  declaration and plan for action. You can find and sign it on the Gen We website. While I had qualms with the presentation of the content, I found this to be an important movement, and I recommend that teachers make the effort to connect our students to its message.

I plan on introduing this project to students on Intrepid Classroom. What do you think? How can your students get involved? Please leave comments with ideas about collaborarte,  and let’s do some work on the ideas presented by Generation We.


Video Stickers

I wanted to create several video stickers. With the proliferation of video and the ease of embedding video on social networking sites, I wanted to create short video Public Service Announcements (PSA) My hope being that people will “stick” these videos on as many cyber-walls as possible. I want people to share them with as many people as they know on Facebook, embed them on their blogs, stamp them on their Nings. I think of the PSAs as video graffiti. Read more here.


Education Everywhere

A few days ago, I was chatting with Lindsea on Skype about a variety of topics: music, education, and the need for adults to communicate more often and more in depth with students. We briefly brainstormed a few ideas we each had for the EduPunk challenge, when we arrived at the following slogan for her Street Art campaign: “Education everywhere. Take back your education.” We discussed the idea of Guerrilla Learning, and the idea that we realized was repeatedly emerging was this need for students and teachers/adults to meld their networks.

This is the first paragraph from my latest post for the students at Intrepid Classroom. I am reposting it here along with a link to the post in its entirety in hopes that any teacher or adult who is reading this blog will be motivated to come join us and add your voice to a growing community of teachers and students.

It is time that we join forces and stopping talking about our students and start talking to them, with them. I hope you will at least comment on the post or better yet, come join the Ning and be a teacher at the INtrepid Classroom! We are thirty something strong and growing. See you there.


No Talk and All Action

Tired of all the intellectual masturbation, err ..I mean discourse, I have decided to see what this little ideology can do. No grades, no school, no instruction. Just youthful exuberance, a defiance of authority, and the need to change the world! Idealistic pipe dream or the rumblings of yet another movement.

I recently posed a challenge to my Intrepid Classroom. And now I am making the same challenge to you web savvy educator:

Do a bit of research about DIY and the punk ethics and see what you can produce to show you understand the concept of punk as it relates to learning and education. Use any tools you have at your disposable both digital and old school, then present your work on the Ning, the wiki, youtube, or your own blog. Don’s ask for clarification, don’t ask for what is acceptable; don’t ask anything just do it. Create! We have been mired in the past by too much discussion and collaboration, so this is an independent project and it is due by the 26th of June.

Come join our Ning, add to the wiki, share your voice with the young people you say you teach. Stop talking about these tools and use them. What will your Edupunk Project look like? June 26th, spread the word let’s see what happens!

School is all but out for most people very soon, but you can still invite your students to take on this project on their own. Have you taught them enough over the course of the year so they can?