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robertogreco : constraint   3

How to Build Castles in the Air – Teachers Going Gradeless
"One of the more profound ironies of “going gradeless” is realizing just how fundamental grades are to the architecture of schools.

Grades undergird nearly everything we do in education. By threatening late penalties and administering one-shot assessments, we focus our famously distracted students on the task at hand. By regularly updating our online gradebooks, we provide an ongoing snapshot of student performance so precise it can be calculated to the hundredths place.

Grades inform our curriculum and instruction too. Because so much rides on them, it’s essential we build upon the rock of “objective” data, not the shifting sands of human judgment. Thus, we limit ourselves to those kinds of learning that can be easily measured and quantified. A multiple choice quiz testing students’ knowledge of literary devices can be reliably scored by your 10-year-old daughter (not saying I’ve ever done that). A stack of bubble sheets can be scanned on your way out of the building for the summer. Check your results online in the driveway, then go inside and make yourself a margarita.

If you want to evaluate something more complex, like writing, you had better develop an iron-clad rubric and engage in some serious range-finding sessions with your colleagues. Don’t put anything subjective like creativity or risk taking on that rubric — you’re already on shaky ground as it is. Make sure to provide an especially strict template so that the essay is fully prepared to “meet its maker.” Word choice, punctuation, sentence variety, quote incorporation — these are the nuts and bolts of writing. If the Hemingway Editor can’t see it, isn’t it just your opinion?

Hopefully, you see the irony here. Grades don’t communicate achievement; most contain a vast idiosyncratic array of weights, curves, point values, and penalties. Nor do they motivate students much beyond what it takes to maintain a respectable GPA. And by forcing us to focus on so-called objective measures, grades have us trade that which is most meaningful for that which is merely demonstrable: recall, algorithm use, anything that can be reified into a rubric. Grading reforms have sometimes succeeded in making these numbers, levels, and letters more meaningful, but more often than not it is the learning that suffers, as we continually herd our rich, interconnected disciplines into the gradebook’s endless succession of separate cells.

So, as I’ve said before, grades are not great. Nor are the ancillary tools, tests, structures, and strategies that support them. But as anyone who has gone gradeless can tell you, grades don’t just magically go away, leaving us free to fan the flames of intrinsic motivation and student passion. Grades remain the very foundation on which we build. Most gradeless teachers must enter a grade at the end of each marking period and, even if we didn’t, our whole educational enterprise is overshadowed by the specter of college admissions and scholarships. And since grades and tests rank so high in those determinations, we kid ourselves in thinking we’ve escaped their influence.

Even in a hypothetical environment without these extrinsic stresses, students are still subject to a myriad of influences, not the least of which being the tech industry with its constant bombardment of notifications and nudges. This industry, which spends billions engineering apps for maximum engagement, has already rendered the comparatively modest inducements of traditional schooling laughable. Still, the rhetoric of autonomy, passion, and engagement always seems to take this in stride, as if the Buddha — not billionaires — is behind this ever-expanding universe.

Let’s go one more step further, though, and imagine a world without the tech industry. Surely that would be a world in which the “inner mounting flame” of student passion could flourish.

But complete freedom, autonomy, and agency is not a neutral or even acceptable foundation for education. The notion of a blank slate on which to continuously project one’s passion, innovation, or genius is seriously flawed. Sherri Spelic, examining the related rhetoric of design thinking, points out how “neoliberal enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and start-up culture” does little to address “social dilemmas fueled by historic inequality and stratification.” In other words, blank spaces — including the supposed blank space of going gradeless — are usually little more than blind spots. And often these blind spots are where our more marginalized students fall through the cracks.

Even if we were able provide widespread, equitable access to springboards of self-expression, autonomy, and innovation, what then? To what extent are we all unwittingly falling into a larger neoliberal trap that, in the words of Byung-Chul Han, turns each of us into an “auto-exploiting labourer in his or her own enterprise”?
Today, we do not deem ourselves subjugated subjects, but rather projects: always refashioning and reinventing ourselves. A sense of freedom attends passing from the state of subject to that of project. All the same, this projection amounts to a form of compulsion and constraint — indeed, to a more efficient kind of subjectification and subjugation. As a project deeming itself free of external and alien limitations, the I is now subjugating itself to internal limitations and self-constraints, which are taking the form of compulsive achievement and optimization.


One doesn’t have to look too far to find the rhetoric of “harnessing student passion” and “self-regulated learners” to understand the paradoxical truth of this statement. This vision of education, in addition to constituting a new strategy of control, also undermines any sense of classrooms as communities of care and locations of resistance.
@hhschiaravalli:

A5. Watch out for our tendency to lionize those who peddle extreme personalization, individual passion, entrepreneurial mindsets. So many of these undermine any sense of collective identity, responsibility, solidarity #tg2chat


Clearly, not all intrinsic or extrinsic motivation is created equal. Perhaps instead of framing the issue in these terms, we should see it as a question of commitment or capitulation.

Commitment entails a robust willingness to construct change around what Gert Biesta describes as fundamental questions of “content, purpose, and relationship.” It requires that we find ways to better communicate and support student learning, produce more equitable results, and, yes, sometimes shield students from outside influences. Contrary to the soaring rhetoric of intrinsic motivation, none of this will happen by itself.

Capitulation means shirking this responsibility, submerging it in the reductive comfort of numbers or in neoliberal notions of autonomy.

Framing going gradeless through the lens of extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation, then, is not only misleading and limited, it’s harmful. No teacher — gradeless or otherwise — can avoid the task of finding humane ways to leverage each of these in the service of greater goals. Even if we could, there are other interests, much more powerful, much more entrenched, and much better funded than us always ready to rush into that vacuum.

To resist these forces, we will need to use everything in our power to find and imagine new structures and strategies, building our castles in air on firm foundations."
grades  grading  equity  morivation  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  measurement  schools  schooling  learning  howwelearn  socialjustice  neoliberalism  arthurchiaravalli  subjectivity  objectivity  systemsthinking  education  unschooling  deschooling  assessment  accountability  subjectification  subjugation  achievement  optimization  efficiency  tests  testing  standardization  control  teaching  howweteach  2018  resistance  gertbiesta  capitulation  responsibility  structure  strategy  pedagogy  gpa  ranking  sherrispelic  byung-chulhan  compulsion  constraint  self-regulation  passion  identity  solidarity  personalization  collectivism  inequality 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Final Boss Form — Even though we are now free from the machines that...
"Even though we are now free from the machines that enslaved and exploited people during the industrial age, digital apparatuses are installing new constraints, new slavery. Because of their mobility, they make possible exploitation that proves even more efficient, by transforming every space into a workplace - and all time into working hours.

The freedom of movement is switching over into a fatal compulsion to work everywhere. During the machine age, working time could be held in check and separated from periods of not-working, if only because the machines could not move, or be moved. One had to go to work on one’s own: this space was distinct from where work did not occur.

Today, however, this distinction no longer holds in many professions. Digital devices have mobilized work itself. The workplace is turning into a portable labor camp, from which there is no escape.

The smartphone promises more freedom, but it radiates a fatal compulsion - the compulsion to communicate. Now an almost obsessive, compulsive relationship to digital devices prevails. Here, too, “freedom” is switching over into compulsion and constraint. Social networks magnify such compulsion to communicate, on a massive scale. More communication means more capital. In turn, the accelerated circulation of communication and information leads to the accelerated circulation of Capital.

The word “digital” points to the finger (digitus). Above all, the finger counts. Digital culture is based on the counting finger. In contrast, history means recounting. It is not a matter of counting, which represents a post-historical category. Neither information nor tweets yield a whole, an account. A timeline does not recount the story of a life, either; it provides no biography. Timelines are additive, not narrative.

Digital man “fingers” the world, in that he is always counting and calculating. The digital absolutizes numbers and counting. More than anything, friends on Facebook are counted, yet real friendship is an account, a narrative. The digital age is totalizing addition, counting, and the countable. Even affection and attachments get counted - as “likes.” The narrative dimension is losing meaning on a massive scale. Today, everything is rendered countable so that it can be transformed into the language of performance, and efficiency.

As such, whatever resists being counted ceases to “be.”"

—Byung-Chul Han, In The Swarm: Digital Prospects
digital  quantitative  quantification  byung-chulhan  machines  industrialization  narrative  relationships  scale  being  presence  numbers  counting  measurement  friendship  facebook  metrics  affection  attachments  likes  meaning  capitalism  information  exploitation  mobility  work  labor  freedom  movement  compulsion  communication  constraint  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  timelines 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Ello | scrawledinwax
"1) Digital social structure is a bit like a first date: the initial tone sets up what comes next.

2) For now, Imma ignore Waxy's post from earlier today. Instead, I'm curious about what it means to produce a space with the same socio-structural parameters as Twitter: asynchronous socializing, reverse chronology - and maybe most importantly, an open social list--follow anyone and follow as many people as you want.

3) That structure means that, at least for me, my initial instinct was just to follow people whose names I recognized, or I know say cool things (or both). That means that very quickly, my feed filled up with things that, as with Twitter, are smart and interesting and possibly too much.

4) Stepping back, I realized what I want from a social network currently is constraint and safety.

5) I want the former because I think stricture is now a more important parameter than choice when, returning to the same Deleuzian point I always return to, the infinite multiple comes first, the individual subtraction second. I think "no" is the operative word, not "yes".

6) I want the latter for different reasons. Maybe I chose the wrong word. As a straight male, I've never experienced harassment online, and for some reason, I've never been subject to very much explicit racial abuse (though plenty of assumptions that I know less than others). But when I say safety, what I mean is that I want to be able to talk about ideas without: a) the risk of a semi-private statement spilling out in the into the public; b) that I can talk with people who are, in a general, roundabout way, like-minded. It's not so much that I want an echo chamber as to have one or two spaces where the comfort of familiarity and an interpersonal history lends itself to what is, for very clear and understandable reasons, missing from the structure of Twitter: an assumption that you meant well, and that you are willing to engage and learn when you fuck up. Twitter is a network in which, for reasons I can't quite figure out yet/articulate, foregrounds positionality - i.e highlights and amplifies the relationship between a subject position and an utterance. That linkage has more more wiggle room amongst friends; for me to talk publicly about feminism is unnecessary, but privately amongst (mixed) friends, can be enlightening and healthy. And I suppose that that's party what I want from a digital social structure: some sense of limit so one can make mistakes and learn, without the significant affective and psychological consequences that come from doing it on a place Twitter."
twitter  ello  socialmedia  navneetalang  socialnetworks  discourse  constraint  conversation  trust  safety  networks  socializing  social  2014  goodwill 
september 2014 by robertogreco

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