Skateboarding continues to be subversive despite mainstream competitions such as the Olympics, researchers say

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Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Skateboarding continues to be unkempt, subversive and tacitly political despite inclusion in mainstream competitions like the Olympics, experts have said.

The “discordance” between skateboarding’s ethos and capitalism raises questions about its continued incorporation into , a new study says.

The also shows how in times of disaster, such as the coronavirus epidemic, skateboarding allows opportunities for play and supports people’s physical and mental health.

Academics observed skateboarders and spoke to those in the community. They found an “arrythmia” which meant skateboarding’s unkempt iconoclast status has largely been preserved despite the fact the sport is part of lucrative business models, institutionalized regimes, and attempts to “contain” it within skateparks.

Dr. Paul O’Connor, from the University of Exeter, who carried out the research with Dr. Brian Glenney, from Norwich University in Vermont said: “Even though it is now an Olympic sport and attracts multimillion dollar endorsements, skateboarding is still subversive and that’s what makes it so exciting.”

“Skateboarding is discordant with other rhythms and interacts when disruption and disaster occurs. It is a type of disaster leisure. Disruption is an intrinsic element of how people practice, and later understand skateboarding. We also find that there is something revolutionary in skateboarding, a latent political orientation that is tacit. It becomes evocative in bodily action, in bursts of energy exacted in urban space.”

The study, published in the journal Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, says this arrhythmic beat is caused by the way skaters move through cities prepared for interruption by pedestrians, vehicles and security guards.

The study is based on prior research on how following earthquakes in New Zealand, skateboarding thrived. New spots were created by ruptured roads, and access became possible to locations previously un-skateable as the parts of the city were closed and were directed towards more urgent concerns than skateboarders.

The approach fits with a growing dialogue on leisure in catastrophic and polluted times. The Coronavirus pandemic adversely impacted many sports, but skaters also took advantage of reduced pedestrian and security activity. The authors highlight that skateboarding is adaptive to disaster.

Dr. O’Connor said, “The early months of the pandemic coincided with a dearth in skateboarding equipment as many China made products could not be delivered to skate shops and retailers through the world. This became even more acute as the lockdown proceeded and individuals sought skateboards with increasing passion and interest.

“While skateboarding was always destined to be topical in 2020 with its debut as a sport in the Olympics, remarkably the canceling of the games was a further unpredicted boon to skateboarding as a sport and industry. The sport boomed in popularity during the pandemic just as slowness and slow sports with meditative and sensory qualities began to rise in popularity.

“Skateboarding, seldom framed as slow or quiet, thrived in the slow times and quiet places quarried by the pandemic. Many people picked up a skateboard for the first time recognizing the potential it held for play and exercise in small and informal spaces. Yet, efforts to limit and control skateboarders persisted with many public skateparks locked or made unusable with skatestoppers and dumped sand.”

More information:
Brian Glenney et al, Skateboarding as Discordant: A Rhythmanalysis of Disaster Leisure, Sport, Ethics and Philosophy (2022). DOI: 10.1080/17511321.2022.2139858

Citation:
Skateboarding continues to be subversive despite mainstream competitions such as the Olympics, researchers say (2022, November 29)

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Astrophysicists hunt for second-closest supermassive black hole

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The ultra-faint Milky Way companion galaxy Leo I appears as a faint patch to the right of the bright star, Regulus. Credit: Scott Anttila Anttler

Two astrophysicists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have suggested a way to observe what could be the second-closest supermassive black hole to Earth: a behemoth 3 million times the mass of the Sun, hosted by the dwarf galaxy Leo I.

The , labeled Leo I*, was first proposed by an independent team of astronomers in late 2021. The team noticed picking up speed as they approached the center of the galaxy—evidence for a black hole—but directly imaging emission from the black hole was not possible.

Now, CfA astrophysicists Fabio Pacucci and Avi Loeb suggest a new way to verify the supermassive black hole’s existence; their work is described in a study published today in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

“Black holes are very elusive objects, and sometimes they enjoy playing hide-and-seek with us,” says Fabio Pacucci, lead author of the ApJ Letters study. “Rays of light cannot escape their event horizons, but the environment around them can be extremely bright—if enough material falls into their gravitational well. But if a black hole is not accreting , instead, it emits no light and becomes impossible to find with our telescopes.”

This is the challenge with Leo I—a dwarf galaxy so devoid of gas available to accrete that it is often described as a “fossil.” So, shall we relinquish any hope of observing it? Perhaps not, the astronomers say.

“In our study, we suggested that a small amount of mass lost from stars wandering around the black hole could provide the accretion rate needed to observe it,” Pacucci explains. “Old stars become very big and red—we call them . Red giants typically have that carry a fraction of their mass to the environment. The space around Leo I* seems to contain enough of these ancient stars to make it observable.”

“Observing Leo I* could be groundbreaking,” says Avi Loeb, the co-author of the study. “It would be the second-closest supermassive black hole after the one at the center of our galaxy, with a very similar mass but hosted by a galaxy that is a thousand times less massive than the Milky Way. This fact challenges everything we know about how galaxies and their central supermassive co-evolve. How did such an oversized baby end up being born from a slim parent?”

Decades of studies show that most massive galaxies host a supermassive black hole at their center, and the mass of the black hole is a tenth of a percent of the total mass of the spheroid of stars surrounding it.

“In the case of Leo I,” Loeb continues, “we would expect a much smaller black hole. Instead, Leo I appears to contain a black hole a few million times the mass of the Sun, similar to that hosted by the Milky Way. This is exciting because science usually advances the most when the unexpected happens.”

So, when can we expect an image of the black hole?

“We are not there yet,” Pacucci says.

The team has obtained telescope time on the -borne Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Very Large Array radio telescope in New Mexico and is currently analyzing the new data.

Pacucci says, “Leo I* is playing hide-and-seek, but it emits too much radiation to remain undetected for long.”

More information:
Accretion from Winds of RGB Stars May Reveal the Supermassive Black Hole in Leo I, The Astrophysical Journal Letters (2022). DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ac9b21

Citation:
Astrophysicists hunt for second-closest supermassive black hole (2022, November 28)
retrieved 28 November 2022
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Mind the gaps: The world needs to radically transform its educational systems, not just upgrade them

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In September 2022 the United Nations organized the first-ever high-level Transforming Education Summit, inviting stakeholders to put forward commitments and tackle the challenges we face. Once again we heard how staggering the needs are: in lower-income countries, 25% of young people and just over 55% of adults are still illiterate, while 250 million children remain out of primary school.

The World Bank’s “State of Global Learning Poverty” report notes that disruptions such as the COVID-19 epidemic, the war in Ukraine and the Taliban’s ban on for girls in Afghanistan have

“sharply increased learning poverty, a measure of children unable to read and understand a simple passage by age 10”.

As the Brookings Institution notes on the need to urgently transform :

“We are at a critical inflection point with hundreds of millions of children likely to miss out on a quality education at the very moment where we have to confront , increasing conflict, and renewed pandemic risks.”

In addition to the climate crisis, humanity faces many urgent issues: biodiversity, food, water, energy, poverty, inequality, democracy… the list is long. All are intertwined and profoundly difficult to resolve, and we face a global tragedy of the commons. The UN’s sustainable development goals were established to provide a comprehensive framework and set “a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”. But we are not on track to achieve them.

During the UN’s education summit, there was a clear indication that all the parties needed to address these issues were not at the table. Funding and investment was absent, and while the IMF and the World Bank—both of whom were invited—were not present. Approximately half of the leaders that were expected also failed to turn up, with many choosing to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral instead.

Without having all the major political and financial players at the table, how can we create a shared blueprint for critical education and climate reform? There is a gap, even an abyss, between the issues we face, the communities facing them, and those in a position to tackle them.

A week after the summit came the Global Futures Conference, organized by Arizona State University and the Earth League during New York Climate Week. Its mission was to identify “solutions that are ambitious and achievable” and “intended to propel societies toward a future of opportunity rather than sacrifice”. The gathering identified education as one of the key levers of transformation, yet again there was a gaping void, this time between the education and climate and sustainability actors, with the Learning Planet Institute one of the only organizations to attend both events.

We know that education for has the potential to reduce up to 20 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050, a better outcome than more than three-quarters of the top climate solutions available today. Yet most education systems today are not preparing students and learners to adapt to these challenges, much less to address them.

We need to put systematic solutions in place very quickly to engage learners (young people, those in higher education, and lifelong learners) and to help them understand how to tackle challenges collectively. It is no longer sufficient to try to upgrade the system—the gap is simply too large. Instead, education itself needs to be radically transformed. In the words of UN Secretary General António Guterres, “Education must help people learn how to learn, with a focus on problem-solving and collaboration”.

Recent reports from Rewired and Brookings Institution agree that the different planetary crises require a reassessment of the purpose of education:

“Transformation means repositioning all components of the education system to coherently contribute to a new, shared purpose.”

We know what competencies are required: cooperation, empathy, self-awareness, futures literacy, collective problem-solving, critical thinking, and the ability to learn how to learn and how to unlearn. Many frameworks are available, including UNESCO’s “Learning to transform the world”, but still the majority of education systems do not act on this knowledge.

Transformation frameworks, youth inclusion and radical change

In practice, we know there is vast experience in the world to implement change. Indeed, within the Learning Planet Institute—an initiative we launched with UNESCO to celebrate and bring to light the transformative solutions being developed around the world—we see remarkable examples of programs that foster autonomy, ability and motivation to learn, act and lead for a better world. Catts Pressoir, Escuela Nueva, Dream a Dream and Design for Change are just a few examples of K-12 programs in Haiti, Colombia and India that shows that these teaching approaches are not restricted to the Western World.

In higher education, many universities and governmental bodies have launched programs that go beyond sustainability literacy, to prepare the new generation to lead the environmental, social and societal transitions to come. These include the College of Global Futures of Arizona State University, the Bachelor ACT of Cy Cergy Paris, the Center for Sustainability Transitions of Stellenbosch University and the EU’s Open17 platform.

At regional and national scales, we are also seeing examples of systemic transformation in action adapted to the local context: in Sierra Leone, “Transforming Learning for All” is an ambitious, comprehensive and innovative plan to improve education outcomes, in particular for girls, students with disabilities and children living in remote areas. Another inspirational example is British Columbia’s curriculum reforms. The “Know-Do-Understand” framework they use:

“honors the ways in which students think, learn, and grow, and prepares them for a successful lifetime of learning where ongoing change is constant”.

While Singapore regularly topped PISA international rankings, it was also well known for systematic testing and ranking procedures that induced high levels of anxiety and fear of failure. In 2019, they embarked on a profound reform of their education system, noting that learners should no longer be competing with one another. Instead, they should be encouraged to learn how to learn, how to cooperate and how to develop their creativity. Their example speaks volumes about the fact that radical change is possible.

Importantly, we also know how eager young people are to be involved. That the Youth Declaration on Transforming Education received more than 450,000 contributions demonstrates how much young people want to be meaningfully engaged in education policy and decision-making as full-fledged partners, and not just beneficiaries. Co-constructing with youth and empowering young people is now recognized by Antonio Gutteres as a core principle for building tomorrow. Young people are literally the future, so they need to be part of designing it.

We need to stop preparing for a world that no longer exists. Instead, we should all be given the opportunity to learn about our common global issues, how to thrive and engage in addressing them. These ideas are not really new. In fact, UNESCO’s 1972 report “Learning to be: the world of education today and tomorrow” was already advocating that:

“[People] should no longer assiduously acquire knowledge once and for all, but learn how to build up a continually evolving body of knowledge all through life.”

How to close the gaps

Implementing these transformations has never been more urgent, but it cannot and will not happen without the proper political attention and appropriate funding.

It is essential that all stakeholders concerned by these issues, in particular the public and private financial bodies with a focus on climate change mitigation and solutions, come to the table. Together, combining education expert knowledge and investments in , we can bridge this critical gap between learning and the environment and drive the radical systems transformation required to serve the needs of youth and our planet.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Citation:
Mind the gaps: The world needs to radically transform its educational systems, not just upgrade them (2022, November 26)
retrieved 27 November 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-11-mind-gaps-world-radically.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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