I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

And Just Who Is Selling These Education Jet-Packs?

Just shoot me in the face.

Notice how all the children are walking separately? No one is working together, walking with each other, helping each other on the journey. No one is challenged to learn how to ride a bike even if they are more comfortable swimming. Not exactly 21st Century learning, is it?

And our poor teacher - oh, she's so overwhelmed (You knew it would be a she, right? Women just get so flustered...). It's just too much! She has to teach each of her four students, which grows to twelve by the end of the video! I'm glad to see Bill Gates acknowledge the problems that arise when teachers have to teach so many kids; imagine teaching a class of 30 or more! Oh, wait, he already has, hasn't he? Not that he advocates increasing class size in his own children's schools...

But wait! The video has a solution: buying stuff! See, nothing solves America's problems better than buying stuff! In this case, the teacher isn't going to create her own "tools" for each child, based on her own assessments, which she creates because she has adequate prep and collaboration time, and because she has a small enough class size to meet every individual need.

No, she's going to buy each child his or her own solution: hiking boots for Jimmy, a boat for Karen, and a scooter for whatshisname that actually has a price tag on it! (Seriously, go to 1:57 in the video).

And look: a jet-pack for whatshisname after the scooter fails! That a hard-hatted "developer" made for the teacher after she looked away from whatshisname with a worried look on her face. Can't see the price tag on that one, though, but I'm sure it's there, and I'm sure it will allow our beleaguered teacher to take many more kids into her class. Each one, after all, will get a "tool" made by the fine, friendly folks at SLC, all with their own price tags attached...

Aside from the incredibly condescending tone of this cartoon (well marked in the comments below the video), note the overarching theme: the solution to our education "crisis" is to consume, consume, consume. We have to buy more crap created by more tech companies so they can save more students from the poor, perhaps-noble-in-spirit-but-clearly-out-of-their-depth teachers who just can't get it together.

Well, nerds and hucksters, put down your tablets and listen up: maybe your techie stuff has some merit, and maybe it doesn't. But I will decide whether it does or not: I use technology every day in my classroom, but I discriminate, because I am the teacher, which makes me the expert in how kids learn.

If you think you've got something, let me give it a demo, and we'll see if it works. But don't come around to my classroom and my school hawking your wares like you're going to "save" me - and my students - from myself. I've seen a lot of useless garbage, both high-and low-tech, come and go over the years, but guess what? People were doing great things in classrooms before you invented your little app, and they'll be doing great things long after your dreams of a fat IPO have gone belly-up.

The "solution" to education is not to buy more digital junk; it's to start treating teaching once again as a profession worthy of respect.

And if we reduce class sizes, we won't have to let outfits like the Gates Foundation violate the privacy rights of children to individualize learning through schemes like SLC. Leonie Haimson has more, including information about how this little plan is spreading.


Marie said...

Data, data, data... how many times was that word used? I lost track. Ed reform is ALL about data. If we can just reduce a child's brain to data bytes, we can figure out the magic formula, market it & sell it. And... with all that shared data going on, Big Brother will know exactly what every teacher in the country is doing.

Leonie Haimson said...

Thanks for writing about this. The scariest thing about this project is that at least 9 states now plan to share all their confidential student and teacher data without parental consent to the Gates Foundation, which plans to turn it over to a private corporation in March. This private corporation, as yet unnamed, has an operating system built by Wireless Generation, owned by Rupert Murdoch & run by Joel Klein, and intends to share this information with for-profit companies to help them create and market their "learning tools". The information up for grabs will include student names, grades, test scores, disciplinary records & attendance rates, special ed status and more, and will be stored in a massive "data store" on a cloud operated by Amazon.com. Gates is justifying this unprecedented disclosure of personally identifiable information that it will "empower" teachers. Teachers should tell us if they think sharing this confidential information is either advisable or "empowering". FYI, they are sharing teacher data too, which in the future could be used to create a national blacklist of teachers who have gotten low value-added scores.

be careful said...

Everyone must read the comments below the video...what a joke of a company.....maybe this is a class a TFA temp can handle. You don't actually get to know the kids...just look at the data wall and their biometric bracelets and you are all set for two years before you head off to law school or
Goldman Sachs.....see here and leave a comment too: