Keeping track of a lofty man enamoured with life

Category: Futures

Media Education 2.0 – summary

Saw that I hadn’t posted this note that was made on the 16.03.13.

Adrian Miles, Allan Thomas, David Carlin, Glen Donnar, Paul Ritchard, Rachel Wilson and Seth Keen of the RMIT Media program have undertaken a shared project titled Media Education 2.0 to propel RMIT Media and Communications into the 21st century of emergent digital technologies.

They have devised four categories – the complimentary literacies – that form the basis of the project:

media literacy

This is the traditional notion of media literacy which tends to have implied the critical reception of ‘big’ (industrial and broadcast) media, and the teaching of skills and practices relevant to such media institutions.
network literacy
Describes those practices related to being an empowered participant (critical and creative) within contemporary online networked ecologies. (more….)
social literacies
Outlines the practices related to things like collaboration, behaviours in professional, educational and other contexts, regulatory regimes, ethics and the like. Think of these as social competencies relevant to teaching and learning in media practice. (more….)
literacies of learning
We are fond of this one. These are those skills that let students become active learners who can shift information (which they discover) into ‘deep’ knowledge. It consists of things like critical thinking, reflective practice, creative research, creativity and so on. (more….)

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Had a chat with Mum about Anthroposophy. She became quite outspoken all of a sudden about how the state education system has turned Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs on it’s head. She agrees with Steiner’s belief that we come into this world already knowing; Having an innate wisdom of inner morality and acceptance. The mainstream schooling system forces children to sit still on a chair in class and behave in an orderly fashion when all they want to do is run outside and experience the world.

Steiner believed that ‘A free spirit acts according to his impulses, that is, according to intuitions selected from the totality of his world of ideas by thinking.’ (Steiner, The Philosophy of Freedom, p. 162) It is up to education to nurture and encourage this independent thinking, not dictate what a children should think.


Launch of the 2012 Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) Data Collection – YouTube

Launch of the 2012 Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) Data Collection – YouTube.

Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Lindsay Jones


2013-04-11 18.40.48

2013-04-11 18.41.00

2013-04-11 10.47.38

2013-04-11 10.46.56

Steiner Education

I’ve just read three papers on Steiner Education (or, as the yanks like to call it: Waldorf schools):

  1. Steiner for the 21st century: the application of Waldorf principles to mainstream practice by Ken Wylie and Martin Hagan
  2. Spiritual development and young children by Anna Giesenberg
  3. Layers of experience: Forms of representation in a Waldorf school classroom by David W. Nicholson

All seem to skirt around my topic of how and why Steiner education is considered “alternative” or “esoteric.” This is the problem I explained I to Danielle I am experiencing when tackling this topic. I keep finding papers in the peripheral of my focus.

However, by stating that concern, I also must admit that Nicholson’s paper revealed much about how a Steiner classroom functions. It brought back many memories from my childhood. The soft pastel coloured walls, the U-shaped pattern of the desks, the chalkboard drawings of myths and legends, playing records and singing a capella, storytelling, and the overall anthroposophy ideology to connect with ‘head, heart and hands’ (Easton 1997: 87, Barnes 1999: 6) in child development and learning practices.

‘[B]ringing the content on a feeling level rather than on a thinking level, particularly with younger children’ (Nicholson, 579) seems to flow against the current of what mainstream education dictates. How the value of literacy and numeracy approached in a technical, cognitive way, takes precedence over any other aspect of a child’s development. From observing a Steiner classroom at work, Nicholson experienced the multi-layered approach of Anthroposophical pedagogy where teachers utilize a diverse skills base in order to communicate key concepts to their pupils (i.e. oral-storytelling, singing, drawing, creative writing, play, etc.) rather than relying on traditional pedagogical practices of memorization, controlled testing, and dictation.

This ‘integration of artistic forms into the curriculum aims to extend and deepen the intellectual experiences of the students, stimulating the senses, enriching the imagination, and cultivating feeling’ (Easton 1997, Schmidtt-Stegmann 1997, Barnes 1999). This allows the students to immerse themselves in their studies holistically, each year level of study aligning with the developmental stage the students are experiencing. As the Steiner teacher Anna explains to Nicholson, “I really want the children to experience drawing art in a mediaeval way, because I know that’s where they are on some level.” (582)

‘By coming to know the era from the perspective of those who lived it, the students did not read about who was and what was, but they heard and experienced how it was. The layers of experience provided equal emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge, the practice of skills, the fostering of creative ability, the stimulation of the imagination, the nurturing of feelings of empathy and understanding, the importance of social responsibility, and the value of moral principles.’ (585)

The rapport established between students and teacher is far stronger than in the state school system as the teacher accompanies their class of students throughout the majority of the year levels. This allows the teacher to draw from a pool of shared experiences ranging from years of association they have had with each student.

It was interesting to read how the ‘forms of representation shape the content’ (586) of each lesson. This ties in with my research question: How does the form of interactive media platforms alter/change the reception/transmission of narratives to the user/reader?

Giesenberg explores notions of spirituality in her paper: ‘Spirituality is defined as an innate ability to show awareness or consciousness of the surrounding world shown through wonder, a sense of compassion and love towards this world and everything in it, and for some people a relationship with a transcendent being, who can also be immanent in the individual.’ (23) Imbuing a sense of wonder in students also ties into what we have been reading in Media Objects. How this is a necessary precursor/trigger/enticer to motivate a sense of curiosity and therefore learn something about the chosen topic.

She highlights that ‘”homo spiritus” awareness, acceptance, actualisation, and altruism are important (24)’ relying upon a ‘holistic integration of body and spirit where cognition and expression are balanced, and where all creation is united into communities, including political groups, and then into nature and a possible higher force’ (25) in Steiner education.

Giesenberg briefly touches upon Montessori education as well, explaining how she viewed ‘every human as having a spiritual embryo which grows and develops alongside all other developmental areas in a person.’ (27)

Anthroposophy proposes that four main parts of a human develops over the course of their formative years:

  1. The physical body
  2. the etheric body (middle childhood)
  3. the astral body (adolescence), and
  4. the Ego (28)

These periods flow into Vygotsky’s theory of the Zone of Proximal Development a child experiences when they step away from mimicking their role models and into independent learning.

She also introduced to me Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of Flow, when you become immersed in an activity that all temporal matters (hunger, ego, etc.) fall from your consciousness and you become fully focussed on the task at hand. In order for this to occur the task cannot be too easy or too difficult, matching your competence levels as well as challenging you in some way.

Unfortunately Giesenberg’s study is incomplete, as research into the role and development of spirituality for a child has never been undertaken before and would involve longitudinal observation.

In todays Research Strategies seminar Adrian reiterated the point that through the process of writing you reveal what you do know about the topic, and more importantly, what you don’t know about it. It made me consider puddling about in my own recollections of my Steiner upbringing in order to see how Steiner is considered “alternative.”

I moved from Steiner in year seven to a state school down the road. Quite an abrupt change in socialising and approach to pedagogy. In hindsight, it would probably have been wiser to move further afield rather than just down the road as the stigma/reputation of the Steiner school was very much present in the school yard of this state school. They had labelled it the “hippy school” and berated and ridiculed me for being different to them. An understandable human reaction motivated by a fear of the “other” or something that is different.

External differences included:

  • No television or computers allowed
  • ceremonial practices (eg. walking the streets at night dressed in medieval attire carrying candles and carved out pumpkins to celebrate mid-winter, year 12 break up day – normally consisting of many flowers and heartfelt farewells)
  • No uniform
  • Plenty of cannabis floating around
  • Art and Music the emphasis for the Steiner education

Like any second-hand impression/information, these topics were exaggerated and warped into a view that Steiner was more of an occult than an institution of education. Back then I wondered whether this animosity towards the Steiner school spawned out of envy. After all, Steiner is a private school and therefore exhibits a high economic cohort of the population. Not overly affluent, as some other private schools seem to consist of, but certainly higher than these state school kids were used to. The unknown seems to attract contempt and spiteful segregation. I being the unknown.

Thinking back to that time, there were activities I participated in that even I felt were strange. One example being eurythmy (an artistic method of movement to sound (Jones, Lindsay. Encyclopedia of Religion – second edition.). Such an abstract concept for a kid to understand. I suppose similar to interpretive dance.

Futures Essay 1

After having a chat with Danielle today I feel much more focused on my essay for Media and Communications Futures. She began the seminar explaining how a good practice for scholars is to make the familiar (mainstream) strange and the strange (cult/fringe/alternative) familiar, in this way ducking around all prejudices/biases the reader(s) may have.

The term “cultural relativism” and “othering” was tossed around, the process of making the us exclusive, everyone else being them. This feeds into altering the viewpoint of the reader and therefore influencing the outcome of the paper/research in often negative ways. Othering can also be used in positive ways, highlighting the exotic nature of certain cultures/groups (i.e. Eastern Philosophy).

Danielle offered me two leads to follow as I explained the difficulty I am having locating specific papers on my chosen fringe culture; Steiner Education. I keep finding papers around the peripheral of the ideology and not the actual way it differs from mainstream views, etc.

  1. Jones, Lindsay. Encyclopedia of Religion. 2005 (definition of Anthroposophy, etc.)
  2. The Australian Educational mandate – National curriculum standard – Department of Education guidelines in Australia. (to establish the context of what the “mainstream” is, aim for one paragraph summation)

She also recommended investigating the idealogical milieu from which Rudolph Steiner composed his theory from. Post WWI Switzerland.

The first essay/map is due on the 18th!


Waiting for Superman (2010) dir. Davis Guggenheim



An esposé on the American State School system. Doco-maker Davis Guggenheim follows several high school students through the lottery process of getting into higher ranked charter schools. Very dramatic and informative doco. Not so keen on working in the USA any more!


Tenure = the process that provides job security for life as a USA school teacher.

Rubbery Factory = In New York teachers wait in this establishment for their legal cases (eg. harassment  punctuality issues, claims of pedophilia) to go through. They still collect full pay and benefits.

Geoffrey Canada = School reformer, educator

Michelle Rhee = Washington DC Superintendent and education reformer.


Australian students are ranked 8th in the world for success rate in education.

KIPP Academy = public charter schools that abide by their own curriculum autonomous to what the teachers union prescribes. 82 across the country upon release of doco. Inspired by Harriett Ball, Houston teacher who appropriated rap into her classroom in order to allow her students flexibility to integrate their learning in class outside of class.

Occulture Reading

Another interesting read upon the Cultic Milieu and Mystical Religions. This time Partidge makes his case for re-terming mysticism to occult. Basically, he is concerned with the mass misinterpretation produced with the term mysticism. I agree, it’s quite a loaded term.

He then goes onto introduce the concept of New Age and it’s relationship with the more occult paganism. He seemed to imply that New Age would fit more within the cultic milieu as opposed to the occult.

It was interesting to learn the term occult was coined by punk muso and cult leader Genesis P-Orridge. Also, the appropriation of mainstream religious practices into New Age or the Occult to ‘create one’s own occultic dish according to one’s own occultic tastes.’ (71) Many religious practitioners are quite frustrated by this practice, how elements of their religion become a ‘fungible, detraditionalized concept.’ (70)

I found I hold similar views to the ‘Upanishadic doctrine of brahman-atman identification [that] – “All souls are one. Each is a spark from the original soul, and this soul is inherent in all souls… You are joined to a great Self… And because that Self is inclusive, you are joined to all others.”‘ (73)

Similarly, Shree Rajneesh’s beliefs about shedding the ego seemed very much in line with the Buddhist teachings I took part in back in 2010. ‘Only if you are ready to drop the ego, your judgements, and your rationality, your intellect – only if you are ready to allow me to cut off your head – will you be able to understand what is going on here.’ (76)

Probably more related to the non-fiction lab, I found that this sentence was illuminated the restrictions faced when crafting a fact-based narrative: ‘”New Agers” often make much of the fact that objective thinking is an ignis fatuus, and that observation and communication are always informed by one’s interests and presuppositions.’ (76)

Bricoleurs (85) = Something constructed using whatever is at hand at the time.

Throughout reading this piece I felt frustrated that I could not throw it aside to read upon my chosen topic of alternative educations… There’s simply not enough time in the day!

A conversation with Sophie Rudolph

Sophie has been working on her masters project over at Melbourne Uni for a while now whilst simultaneously tutoring for the Education Faculty. I met up with her to pick her brains about what skills I will need to acquire to become a competent teacher in the future and how to wrap my head around formulating a Research Topic/Question.

She spoke of a group discussion between teacher and students that was captured and transcribed for the teacher to identify what promotes group discussion and how students engage with knowledge. After listening to me ramble on about where my interests lie in trying to marry interactive media with pedagogy, she suggested I construct a digital realm of the footage taken from group discussions in order to unpack it’s content. Create a series of hyperlinks that offer students to evolve the group discussion into a multi-layered collage of information. Create linkages between original references students have made to wikipedia pages, youtube clips, academic articles, etc.

Enabling students to have a platform to build upon is the key ingredient here. A diverse range of projects can then be facilitated by the teacher (i.e. oral histories, community engagement projects, book clubs).

A Research Question along the lines of ‘How can new forms of media enable students to make connections between subject matters and collaborative information sharing?’

Creating a project whereby process is emphasised as the key to learning and understanding concepts instead of goal-dependent tasks that only offer a narrow range of examination and – i would argue – benefit.

For my precursor assignment, she was intrigued by my question about what attributes make up a good teacher. Brings up notions of teacher quality. Would tie into the research quadrant of a qualitative-experiential study. This is apparently quite a hot topic in the world of Education at the moment, so articles from practitioners and scholars alike will be readily accessible.

She introduced me to the topic of “Regimes of Truth” (Foucault) and we discussed public pedagogy for a while. She brought up key educators such as John Dewy, Margaret Somerville (‘global contemporaneity’ (Carter, 2006, p. 683)), Paulo Freire, bell hooks (Gloria Watson), and Roger Holdsworth.


Foucault defines ‘regimes of truth’ as the historically specific mechanisms which produce discourses which function as true in particular times and places.

Alternative Schooling Mind Map

Notes from Class:

– Do things emerge from themselves? – essentialist theory

– At what point does human behaviour become indicative of a collective practice?

– Awakening = When human become aware of their non-human self (i.e. the Kin – dragon-self)

– As a component of Mythopoeic‘s, human’s feel a sense of desire to place narrative structural elements onto situations to make meaning (i.e. the Prince and the Princess must get together for a happy ending to exist)

– Harry Potter and the Disenchantment of the World – paper that discusses how Rowling’s makes the magical and amazing into the mundane. Makes the ‘other’ normal.

– “commodified indigneity” = eg. StarHawk appropriating indigenous practices for her feminist beliefs/stance/activism, in the process of promoting her own agenda. Is this a form of plagiarism? It is certainly insensitive.

– Is self-affiliation a necessary component of a devient culture?

– Network Structures (similar to 6 degrees of separation) – begin to understand where the continuities and discontinuities lie.

– Straight-edge culture = subset of punk where abstinence of booze and drugs is marked by a black cross on a members hand.

– Citizen Journal = a member of the general public documenting an event on their iphone, camcorder, etc.

– Observatory vs. expository docos?

I have chosen to investigate pedagogy through Media and Communications Futures as opposed to loading it on top of my major Research Project of Honours. 

I feel this is a sensible move as it simplifies – or perhaps a better term to us is that it makes my project much more attainable/realistic – my project so I can start to hone in on what I need to chip away at in order for me to reach my end goal. 


The mind mapping was a useful exercise as it established for me the primary question: What makes an alternative schooling practice alternative? Different? Or, to use Danielle’s loaded term: devient. 

In order to unravel the answer to this question I must define what the mainstream education models are. Why are they mainstream? Does the sheer quantity of participants indicate the general consensus of opinion? The ‘popular opinion’? Or is Government approval of state schooling systems enough to comfort the general populous in making this the norm? The ‘mainstream’? Seems to be a catch 22, as the Government undoubtedly looks to it’s citizen’s for which system to endorse. However, they also do rely on statistical data collected by ‘experts’ in education/pedagogy. A scientific methodology that neglects any thoughts around the spiritual or ‘holistic’ development of the child.

‘Holistic’ seems to be the buzz word here. I must unpack this term.

I have dived into researching alternative schooling models head first, immersing myself in the different philosophies of each independent school. From Krishnamurti to Steiner to Montessori to Free Schools to Folk Education to Open Schools. However, the first site that I’ve found that introduces me to alternative schooling seems to be using America as it’s context. Maybe it’s the patriot within me, but I feel it necessary to track down an Australia site discussing our alternative schooling models.