Blog Flux LinkLog: Outgoing Link Logging and Click Tracking for Em duas línguas

Friday, December 31, 2004

Aprendizagem e tal ...

"The 21st century brings an air of fresh hope.
Learning is truly the treasure contained within these new times."
(Roberto Carneiro in THE NEW FRONTIERS OF EDUCATION: UNESCO, 19 September 1998)

No processo de enquadrar o meu estudo (para tese de dotouramento) no discursos de educação, aprendizagem e globalização no Ensino Superior em Portugal estou com alguma dificuldade encontrar este tesouro - aprendizagem.

O que é, ou onde é, o aprendizagem ...?

Já li o documento elaborado por CRUP, "Um Ensino Superior de Qualidade", que explicou "o paradigma da aprendizagem corresponde a uma nova atitude pedagógica, que encara os estudantes como participantes activos nos processos educativos, e não apenas como consumidores passivos de ensino".

Mas como este paradigma revele-se na pratica - nos lados eu conheço? Os alunos preenchem um questionário sobre ... sobre ... claro ... sobre o professor e o seu ensino! O professor expor as suas materiais bem ou mal? O professor esclarecer as duvidas? Declare três pontes fortes e fracos de professor.

Uh oh! What if, com este novo paradigma, avaliação do aprendizagem do aluno tem tanto importancia do avaliação do ensino de professor? Será que aprendizagem tem igual ou mais importancia do que ensino? Será que a mudança na paradigma é tão simples como isso? Será que termos de preocupar mais com o aprendizagem e menos com ensino?

Talvez um dia, mais cedo ou mais tarde, este novo paradigma vai transformar as páginas (e páginas) das tabelas com estatísticas sobre o insucesso dos alunos produzido por o nosso Conselho Pedagógica em páginas (e páginas) de historias de ... de ... aprendizagem dos nossos alunos!

Estou com esperança que os corredores de Escola, os reuniões pedagógicas, os encontros informais ... vão encher com conversas sobre aprendizagem. Ambos o aprendizagem dos professores e dos alunos.

Ou seja, ou meu desejo ou "fresh hope" para 2005 será que "learning is truly the treasure contained within these new times".

Bom Ano Novo e Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Setubal em 2004

This blog entry was going to go into my blog where I keep doctorate notes, but then I thought I'd put it here. I'm looking at the stories which make up the socio-cultural context of of Portugal and am struggling a bit to find someone who tells happy stories.

The language from my local newspaper's reflection (Setúbal na Rede) on this year in Setúbal goes like this:

Crise Política - early elections in February because of uma grave crise de credibilidade do Governo. a hard blow after the fracasso eleitoral in European elections.

Instabilidade Social - closing or moving of companies (encerramento ou deslocalização de empresas) and discontent of workers (descontentamento dos trabalhadores)

Incêndio (fires) na Arrábidauma catástrofe” ambiental,
Demolições na Arrábida - the Minister for the Environment announced the demolition of illegal houses in Arrabida, whereas he was found to be living in one himself :-(

Co-incineração - a continuing battle over the burning of toxic waste from the cement factory that overshadows the hills of Arrabida.

Educação - lots of kids started school a month late because of a "technological hitch" in the placing of teachers in their schools.

Comboio da Ponte - Hooray the new fast train from Setúbal to Lisbon! Apesar dos problemas, ninguém tem dúvidas da “importância deste equipamento para o desenvolvimento sustentável do distrito de Setúbal. (Despite the problems noone doubts the importance of this for the sustainable development of the Setúbal district.    

Hospitais - doctors went on a series of strikes para exigir o pagamento dos retroactivos prometido pela administração (to demand backpayments promised to them by the administration).

Feira de Sant’Iago – the location of the artesanatal fair on our main avenue was moved, causing general discontent (to all except people who used to get held up by the traffic jams and deviations it caused).

Convento de Jesus - the 11 year story of promised renovation of this church still continues (as does the location of the funds budgeted for it).

Autoeuropa (VW car manufacturer) - stays in Setúbal and is going to start fabricating a new luxury car.

Nova Setúbal - the mega urbanization process of Setúbal has been declared ilegal in a debate about whether or not the main contraction should be put out to tender or not.

Vitória Futebol Clube – club is doing well, despite the sad death of Jacinto João, one of Setúbal's best players.

I guess everyone in Setúbal is either a commuter, a football fan or works for Autoeuropa, so while ten out of thirteen stories are of dirty politics and inefficiency, we do have some things to be happy about! I'm going out on my bike now to think of the good news I have to bear about Setúbal in the last year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Digital Divide Network

I like the new site from the Digital Divide Network:
Strange how it's only in English.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Espero ...

How I sympathised with the guy shouting in the Driving Licence Department the day before Christmas who is waiting for the same thing as me (to change his a foreign license to a Portuguese one). I've only been waiting for my licence for ten months, I take the day off today to renew my request for the third time. GET ME THE "CHEFE"! It took me more than ten years to gird my loins, ten hours of queuing and form-filling and five months of waiting to join this queue. In fact the nice lady has now spent over one hour looking for my process in the back room (while this shouting gentleman is in the queue behind me) and I'm still waiting for her to come out. The man shouts again. It took me less than one hour to change my licence to a Swiss one and now you're telling me that it's normal to wait this long to change it back to a Portuguese one. I thought we were part of Europe!!!

That was the day before Christmas. Today, the day after Boxing Day, I spent the day in various government departments to make up for my expensive mistake of not filling in the form when I bought my house to say that this wasn't my second house. As I sat in the first-queue-today-for-the-third-time-for-an-hour-and-a-half I look around me and see a sea of faces ... waiting. Hoping, waiting and expecting - three words which translate into one word in Portuguese - esperar. I hope, I wait for and I expect all translate to the same "Eu espero ...". I feel an affinity with the shouting man - as we wait we both expect that there's more than just hope that our process will move forward more quickly. And I wonder if there will be some new vocabulary as bureaucracy and queuing and form-filling die out and productivity in Portugal goes up as we hope? wait? expect? not to spend SO MUCH TIME in queues.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

The Kamusi Project - The Internet Living Swahili Dictionary

My Christmas treat was to find The Kamusi Project | The Internet Living Swahili Dictionary at Yale University. It's a living dictionary of words, grammar, history and culture, which you can also edit (once you're registered). It's bilingual and has a discussion forum in Swahili. It's wonderfully tidy and easy to navigate. I've been happily to find not only the content, but also the design of the site.

In conjunction with the Open Swahili Localization Project at the University of Dar es Salaam they have produced some free Swahili software for children called "TuKsi Koti la Rangi" (or Tux Paint). Until next year it's only available on Windows, but the press release and download is here.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

In Manchester

I'm in Manchester at the moment, staying with my daughter and last night we went for a curry. She lives near "The curry mile" - a glitzy street with the highest concentration of Indian restuarants in Britain. I love the street with its neon lights, bright saris and jewellery shops open at all hours. I'm reminded of Mombasa (Kenya) where I grew up and Leicester (UK) where I lived a number of years.

To my daughter's embarrassment I stopped to take a photo of the restaurant we were going to. And to my suprise I was flanked by two policeman as I took my camera out. In Mombasa my parents didn't let me take photos of people without their permission, especially Muslims who, my mother never stopped telling me, "believe that you are capturing their soul". Does that really happen, I would ask. And she always replied - if you believe it, it does.

Early socialisation overcame me and I guiltily assured the policemen I was only taking a picture of the restaurant - and not of any person. It took me a couple of minutes to realise that these two guys were worried about my security. They were concerned I was about to be robbed and were guarding me while I took a photo!

Then as we ate our dinner watching the world pass by the smoked glass walls of the restuarant I counted a police car or van drive by at the rate of one every thirty seconds. I got a flash of being in Belfast during "The Troubles" - only here the names are different depending on which side of political correctness you stand on. The Muslim problem, the Asian problem, racism, crime. I'm curious to know how many Asians in this area are Muslims. How many are Mirpuri (Pakistani) and Bangladeshi Muslims and how many are Patels (Hindu Gujaratis) and Sikhs? I can imagine that people are often ignorantly lumped into one "Asian" or "Muslim" bundle.

I also get thinking of Holland where resentment has obviously been accumulating under the politically correct surface. How many Muslims in this area of Manchester find it unacceptable to intimidate young, white women (like my daughter) on the street during Id with insults like "white whore bitch"? Probably most. I wonder if, how and where people from different communities are addressing and talking about these issues.

I wonder if there is a way out of this mess of tribalism, political correctness and ignorance that that seems to be leading our carriage towards the cliff edge. I'm hoping that if enough people believe it, there is.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Fragments and cubes

I'm mulling over fragmented selves after a conversation with my father. Some of his fragments include running his company at a distance for 20 years (he mostly works online in UK while the company is based in Mombasa) at the same time as doing the accounts of a local golf-club - where they think he is just a retired businessman who does their books (and getting free golf).

Thinking round the idea of finding order in my own fragmented life reminded me of a (non-related!) article by H.Masud Taj (I blogged his "Between two tongues" in September). In his article "Guarding the Centre, Generating the Circumferance" he paints a spectacular picture of all the mosques in the world forming a global concentric system and oriented to a single centre. The centre of the concentric system is the Kaaba (the cube in English). "Each time a goup of Muslims gather in prayer or build a mosque, each time Muslims follow the Prophet's practice of sleeping on the right side with their faces towards the Kaaba ... in each instance a fragment of a circumference is being put into place." Without even noticing "the faithful barely perceive that with their bricks and thier bodies, they construct and constitute an international installation, the mother of all Monumental Art."

I'm fascinated by H.Masud Taj's claim that, as an ordering device, the Kaaba is a project that is "redefining the world in its own image". I ponder on the shape some of us are creating with our fragmented lives - in contrast to this emerging cube.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

In the street/Na rua

As i contemplate my eccentric persistance in following my nose at the expense of what would make my life more comfortable, I'm reminded of a poem by Alexander Search. Search was a heteronym of Fernando Pessoa. As with all Pessoa's heteronyms he had a complete biography, history and character that was quite different from the others. And he wrote in English rather than Portuguese. There's a great site (in Portuguese) about Pessoa here. And the "magical world of Fernando Pessoa" (in English) is here. He's a fascinating post-modern character.

Anyway, here are some verses from the poem "In the Street" that I related to today:

If I were born not to aspire
Beyond the life that lead
These people whom life cannot tire,
Who chat and slumber by the fire
Contentedly indeed,
Beyond those curtains, by that light
That to the street is somwhat bright;

Could I no more aspire than these,
Were all my wishes bound
In family or social ease,
In worldly, usual jollities
Or children playing round,
Happy were I but to have then
The usual life of usual men.

But oh! I have within my heart
Things that cannot keep still -
A mystic and delirious smart
That doth a restlessness impart,
An ache, a woe, an ill;
A wearied Sysyphus I groan
Against the world's ironic stone.

Translated into Portuguese in Poesia (Assíro & Alvim), these verses (in "Na Rua") go:

Se eu tivesse nascido p'ra aspirar
A nada mais que a vida destes entes
A quem o viver não faz cansar,
Em conversa à lareira, a dormitar
Na verdade consigo bem contentes,
Por trás das cortinas, nessa luz
Que vista de fora até reluz.

Pudesse mais do que estes não querer,
Fosse todo o desejo confinado
À família, ao fácil conviver,
Às alegrias mundanas do viver,
De filhos a brincar eu rodeado,
Então seria feliz por não ter mais
Que a vida banal dos homens banais.

Mas, ai! Que dentro do meu coração
Tenho algo que não posso sossegar -
Mística e delirante aflição
Que me transmite uma inquietação,
Uma dor, um mal e um pesar;
Eu gemo como um Sísifo cansado
À pedra irónica do mundo encostado.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Multilingual experiment

In her blog, Nancy White of Full Circle Associates called my attention to this Multilingual Wiki experiment. It's absoultely fascinating and I can see LOTS of potential there, starting with a transnational project I'm involved in where most people speak two languages - just not the same two.

(It took me a while to find the little boxes at the bottom which let you turn on the languages that you want to read the messages in - FAB!)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Santana out ... next chapter?

The pages are turning fast, the story line is depressing. Chapter heading: President dissolves Parliament because government crisis is undermining political stability. The story line in other chapters - we are in economic crisis: our salaries are the lowest; Greece has overtaken Portugal, so has the Check Republic and Slovenia; no sense of civic duty exists. A scandalous crisis over teachers this year has yet to be resolved. The complex story of a pedophile ring involving top entertainers, politicians and who knows else is still in the blender.

I go to collect a piece of paper (in the mountain of bureaucracy that invades my life) from my local "freguesia" (neighbourhood council). It's not ready because the "Senhor Presidente" hasn't yet arrived. I'm expected to understand that the "Senhor Presidente" comes at the times he pleases.

I complain and everyone in the office stares at me - "Pois ... mas isso é a nossa cultura" they tell me. "Estamos na província". My hair stand on end, my blood boils. Why don't you try rewriting the story I splutter. If you keep selling yourself (and me) that idea, nothing will change. Eyes glaze, resigned looks and I'm aware of my insertion into the "mad foreigner" box.

I ask myself - to what extent does the narrative (in this case a negative one) shape events? Ou seja .... to what extent is it a delusion that events shape the story being related? Isn't one way out of this to start authoring a good story? And what, by the way, is my role in that?