Perhaps you’re familiar with the poem All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. It’s a classic of American infantilism, that innocence, heart, and “values” are more important than thinking. I’m all for the sharing and wonder celebrated in the original, but it’s notable the teachers are conspicuously absent. They are an invisible benevolent force, a manifestation of good-natured fairness guiding the core values of the room — not inappropriate for poem written by a minister. When power and authority are invisible, it makes sense that it all seems normal and natural.
I found this not to be the case. Having just put my daughter through Kindergarten, her first engagements with teachers and classroom discipline were hardly invisible. In fact, navigating power and order was a hallmark of the year. As such, it was interesting to draw out other lessons from the experiences of these little people engaged with a bureaucracy for the very first time. So here are other things to know I learned from Kindergarten:
Added to my growing list of design manifestos.
“Art can change the world, but seldom in the way it intends, and seldom the art that people think would have that effect.
I keep thinking of the Guy Fawkes mask Dave Gibbons drew. In discussions of what art is radical, mainstream comics are seldom brought up. And yet… I also think of an interview I read with Greenwald where he said that what convinced him of Snowden’s sincerity about bringing forward his revelations was when Snowden told him he was inspired by video games and comic books.
There is radical, explicit art, but there’s also art that worms into the culture and decades or centuries later bursts forward in unimagined effects.”
For the families of the striking fire fighters, Christmas 1977 was going to be a difficult one. With little or no money coming in, celebrations, presents, and even food were on ration. But something quite wonderful happened on that Christmas Day in Merrie England, when four of the country’s allegedly most reviled people brought happiness and festive gifts to the firefighters and their families.
This was Christmas Day 1977, when The Sex Pistols played a benefit gig for the families of striking fire fighters at the Ivanhoe’s club, Huddersfield, in the north of England.…
Erica presented her research at TEDxBoulder last month:
“Certain kinds of everyday heroism will always be important and unavoidable, but the goal of a set of social institutions should be to destroy as many opportunities for heroism as possible. Heroism is only possible where some kind of tragedy is imminent. But a good social system snuffs out avoidable tragedies before they even have a chance of approaching imminence. In many cases therefore, the existence of heroism is actually a deeply troubling symptom of overall political dysfunction. It should not be met with adoration, but with horror and concern.”
I see this in design activism all the time. For instance, everyone loves when designers step up with charity. But there's important work for designers also in helping to build infrastructures (social, political, physical) to mitigate the impact of disasters in the first place.