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Posts Tagged ‘pedagogy of everyday life’

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Stunning Photos Of Chinas Insanely Stressful College Exam Process | Business Insider.

via Stunning Photos Of Chinas Insanely Stressful College Exam Process | Business Insider.

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I’m not sure how I feel about this development. If you’ve ever been to China, you’ll know that there are always more than enough police, security guards, and military personnel around that one never feels entirely unsafe. That sense of security is, of course, in many ways illusory, although it is a cliche to say that this is because the police themselves are the more worrisome threat. Indeed, police indifference seems to be the more serious problem, as was the case one day about ten years ago when I saw a man with a massive head injury ignored as he staggered down the road in front of the public security bureau (not their job!) and subsequently honked off of the road by a police cruiser.

No doubt this move has little significance for those already intent on thumbing their noses at the powers that be. These people are only too aware of the semi-concealed power and potential violence of state security forces. But if Chinese police are to become more armed, how will this change the way they are viewed by everyday folk? In my experience and that of most under most circumstances, Chinese police are not threatening at all, though they may be profoundly annoying in certain capacities.

I do realize that this is not the experience of every foreign resident and local. I don’t have dark skin. I don’t tend to wander the streets at night in a drunken state. And I haven’t been doing anything (intentionally) illegal or (obviously) politically threatening. Still, that police don’t carry weapons makes them seem less threatening than your average officer in any given Canadian city. If you’ve noticed as I have the increasingly robust, armoured look of police uniforms (not to mention weapons array and the physique and demeanour of officers themselves) in recent decades, you’ll know what I mean. A City of Edmonton police officer for good or bad just looks and often acts like someone not to be messed with. This isn’t to say that you’re more likely to run afoul of police in Edmonton than the average Chinese city. Of course that depends largely upon a combination of who you are*, what you’re doing**, and what officer you happen to cross paths with that day***. Still, I would much rather run afoul of an officer with no gun (and maybe a notepad) than one with a pistol, taser, club, bullet proof vest, and cruiser with 400 (?) horsepower under the hood.

All of which begs the question: is Edmonton really that much more dangerous than Shijiazhuang?

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*     race, class, gender, age, homeless vs. not, etc.
**   protesting, stealing, j-walking, loitering outside the public library wearing dirty clothes, collecting bottles with a stolen shopping cart, stealing investors’ money
*** for example, if you are an average Edmonton semi-homeless person riding a bottle-collecting bicycle and your are trying to use a crosswalk blocked by a right turning police cruiser, you should not make the mistake of mentioning to the wrong officer on the wrong day that he is committing a traffic violation. Said officer might turn on his lights, drive down the wrong side of the road in order to apprehend you for…something or other. Like I said, wrong officer, wrong day.

China’s Police Will Carry Guns Unlike Any Others – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

via China’s Police Will Carry Guns Unlike Any Others – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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Have a look at this piece by an old hockey friend in Beijing. The object of his attention is not “education” in the common sense of the term, but taken as a pedagogy of everyday life or diffuse education in Bourdieu & Passeron’s sense, a number of interesting points are made.

Gervais has lived in China for a good long time, as becomes clear from the article itself, and has a “foreign” perspective — based on diverse experiences and roles — second to none. To be frank, Gervais is not a great hockey player, but his writing on China seems as effortless as his on-ice work is not.

If you don’t read french, Google Translate does a pretty good job of things.

Chine: objet de désir : article – Revue Argument.

via Chine: objet de désir : article – Revue Argument.

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The affective core of Chinese life is the family home, an understanding of which helps to explain1 the central role of residential construction in Shijiazhuang’s urban renovation. The desire to improve the domestic living conditions of one’s family and to provide a better future to subsequent generations drives family members to seek a hao yi xie de shenghuo (好一些的生活 — literally, a slightly better life).20130617-131602.jpgChina’s policy makers are highly sensitive to the economic potential of this desire to improve living conditions. At times they work to incite and exploit the desire for familial improvement as an engine of economic growth, at others to restrain it in order to protect the economy from bubble formation. Beyond direct economic implications, they are highly sensitive to the negative effects of an overheated real estate market on the daily lives of the less well off and poor, and the potential of inflation in the housing market to stymie their familial aspirations. A population with an excessively large group of impoverished, “homeless,” and stymied citizens is a potentially unstable one, and there are no principles more central to the governing philosophy of post-Mao China than those of stability and harmony.20130617-131439.jpg

Understanding the hand and glove relationship of familial aspiration and broader economic policy and practice is crucial to decoding the ways in which Shijiazhuang’s urban renovation has unfolded. As discussed here, san nian da bian yang kicked off an explosion of new housing, much of it infill/densification units. The spectacle of this massive, city-wide residential renovation overwhelms the eye, but it is the construction and promotion of entirely new neighborhoods on the clean slate of demolished chengzhongcun that provides the most compelling object of analysis for my purposes. Such projects are enormous in scale and totalizing in terms of their capacity to create and will to promote themselves as deliverers of entirely new and, of course, superior ways of life.20130617-131536.jpg

One such “clean slate” neighborhood is the 500,000m2 linyin dayuan(林荫大院/Park County) only now rising from the rubble of Beijiao Cun (北焦村). The project has only recently started construction, but its sales centre and the walls surrounding the demolition-construction site have been in place for more than two years. Objectively, the development will represent a massive increase in population density on this piece of land and a correspondingly large profit for its developer, Guangsha Real Estate Development Co. Ltd.

The overarching slogan for the project, fengjing yuanluo de gushi, appeals to familial aspirations to live the kind of good life imagined to be the norm in foreign countries. These understandings of the good life are cited and incited by ads papering the walls that surround the site, and in promotional images featured in the sales centre and circulated on the internet. In one ad, an image depicting a child bathed in filtered sunlight is coupled with the project tag line to promise the opportunity of a “life story” composed in the “scenic courtyards” of this “500,000 square meter shady forest kingdom.” In another, a similarly bucolic image works in tandem with a slogan that alludes to the poetry of Laozi to link the emergence of an improved Shijiazhuang and the re-emergence on the world scene of China as whole.

Buying a home in Park County, these ads promise, is not only the first step toward a happy and prosperous life for one’s family, but also a concrete contribution to the rise of the nation.

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Notes

1. Concepts like capital over-accumulation, spatio-temporal fixing, and accumulation by dispossession are also crucial — see David Harvey’s The New Imperialism or A Brief History of Neoliberalism for a concise discussion of these terms.

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In a previous photo essay, I talked a bit about the hidden (and not so hidden) curriculum of school courtyard pedagogy. Today, a different kind of pedagogy: the pedagogy of educational desire. Much is made of the high value placed on educational attainment in Chinese culture (see here for a somewhat deeper discussion). This photo essay introduces one form that the instilling of educational desire takes in Mainland China. (more…)

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I was going through my photo archive recently and decided that there were a lot of photos that others might find interesting and/or enjoyable. Fortunately they date from a time shortly after I got my first digital camera, so it is quite easy to upload them.

The idea behind what I hope will become a series of short photo essays is that, while we tend to associate “education” with our experiences in schools (i.e., with “schooling”), education really takes place every day and everywhere. In light of this, for the purposes of this series of photo essays, I’ll use the word “pedagogy” instead (here “School Courtyard Pedagogy”). When we view daily life through this lens, a different picture of the places and practices of everyday life emerges.

Having said this, some of these photo essays, beginning with this one, focus on schools and schooling. In what follows, I’ll try to keep the descriptions to a minimum. Enjoy! (more…)

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