Thursday, June 7, 2012

I will choose free won't

I was sitting with my new, fancy phone. Bored as sometimes happens. And, while tooling around the cool slidy menus I realized "I have no games...whatever shall I do when I am bored." I had no immediate access to a coloring book or an archery set so I was stuck. "Wait!" I thought, "why don't I just download a game to play on this here phone?" So I opened up the phone store thing and looked for a free game which would help me kill some time. The most popular free game looked interesting, and how could over a million people (or one person, repeatedly downloading this app) be wrong? So I clicked on "Download." I figured that that would be the most efficient way to download it.

A screen popped up telling me of the 'permissions' I would have to grant. Usually I ignore these figuring that a program won't ask for what it doesn't need. But something caught my eye. The program wanted access to information about my phone and my identity, including my phone's serial number and the device status so it could tell when I was on or off the phone. Why would it need that? Don't answer because I'm sure that there is a perfectly innocuous explanation. I don't want to hear it. No matter how harmless, it is ridiculous.

So I went to the next game on the list. I won't provide any names because I can't afford a lawyer, but it, too, asked for identity and device status access. I cancelled the download. You hear that? I chose not to give up my personal information, even if it means that I can't play the game that everyone else has. I am still an individual with some measure of autonomy and I have the choice to say NO. Fortunately, the experience got me thinking and that's like nature's I right? Sigh.

I recall an email I got a couple of days ago, asking me to quantify for my school the new technology that I am including in my classes. The discussion was not whether technology played a part or could be included -- there was a presumption that technology was a foregone conclusion and that its inclusion was not even a matter of time anymore. My teaching method often does not include two very basic things -- technology or planning. I am old school; I use the black/white/Smart board only sometimes but I encourage and value actual connection and communication between teacher and student. You know, like talking about stuff (to use the vernacular). The expectation that I will be planning, before it arises organically, to implement technology as a basis (not an adjunct) for my lessons is an attempt to wrest control of my pedagogical identity and not trust that I will stay updated on technology by choice and won't include it when it makes the most sense. Another attempt to curtail my behaviors, but I intend to retain my freedom to choose.

In an effort to escape video games and school rules which tell me that I can't choose how to live I tried reading the news. An article about students who were rebelling against dress codes was first up. I won't bore you with my views on dress codes because though my opinions are highly advanced and well measured and informed, they aren't the point right here, right now. In the article, a draconian principal imposed a dress code on a bunch of unsuspecting students. They argued against it for a school year and then decided to flout the code and come in dressed as they will. I could call them all sorts of names but I won't. I can't afford a lawyer. I continued reading to find that not every student was interested in joining the rebellion against the emprire. One student did not agree with the aims or method, so, one figures, he would dress in his normal fashion. Not so. [the following comes from the NYT]
Nonetheless, Sweyn, dressed in a preppy jacket and knee-length shorts, had joined in.

“I had my shorts rolled up for two periods,” he said. “Better to participate in some way even if I don’t totally agree.”

What? Better to participate and ignore your own opinions and feelings? You can, indeed MUST, sometimes choose NOT to be included. Principle matters.

Another article popped up, this one about whether Orthodox Jewry is unhealthy. In this piece, the writer lists all the foods which are part of a well rounded (even "obese") observance of religion. He bemoans the demand to eat all of this food and comes to the conclusion that religious Jewry is inherently problematic in its approach to food.


The choice to eat a particular food IS A CHOICE. Even within religious Judaism, rife with laws about food and ritualistic ingredients, there are myriad ways NOT TO over indulge. Do we accuse Orthodoxy of contributing to alcoholism because people don't choose to drink grape juice on a Friday night? Whose fault is it that a person lacks the willpower not to make stupid decisions? Why do we absolve people of the responsibility of sometimes saying NO? [my comment to this effect seems to have been 'disappeared' from the feedback section of the article...shocking]

I make loads of dumb decisions every day. Sometimes every night also. But I won't blame anyone when those decisions prove to be problematic, because they ARE MINE. Someone may not like my reasoning but there is reasoning behind my decision and if it isn't mine, then I can trace it back to a source and explain why I relied on it. And I won't shy away from calling out people and situations which rob me of that right to choose.

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