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robertogreco : individualization   24

The Tyranny of Convenience - The New York Times
"Convenience has the ability to make other options unthinkable. Once you have used a washing machine, laundering clothes by hand seems irrational, even if it might be cheaper. After you have experienced streaming television, waiting to see a show at a prescribed hour seems silly, even a little undignified. To resist convenience — not to own a cellphone, not to use Google — has come to require a special kind of dedication that is often taken for eccentricity, if not fanaticism.

For all its influence as a shaper of individual decisions, the greater power of convenience may arise from decisions made in aggregate, where it is doing so much to structure the modern economy. Particularly in tech-related industries, the battle for convenience is the battle for industry dominance.

Americans say they prize competition, a proliferation of choices, the little guy. Yet our taste for convenience begets more convenience, through a combination of the economics of scale and the power of habit. The easier it is to use Amazon, the more powerful Amazon becomes — and thus the easier it becomes to use Amazon. Convenience and monopoly seem to be natural bedfellows.

Given the growth of convenience — as an ideal, as a value, as a way of life — it is worth asking what our fixation with it is doing to us and to our country. I don’t want to suggest that convenience is a force for evil. Making things easier isn’t wicked. On the contrary, it often opens up possibilities that once seemed too onerous to contemplate, and it typically makes life less arduous, especially for those most vulnerable to life’s drudgeries.

But we err in presuming convenience is always good, for it has a complex relationship with other ideals that we hold dear. Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.

It would be perverse to embrace inconvenience as a general rule. But when we let convenience decide everything, we surrender too much."



"By the late 1960s, the first convenience revolution had begun to sputter. The prospect of total convenience no longer seemed like society’s greatest aspiration. Convenience meant conformity. The counterculture was about people’s need to express themselves, to fulfill their individual potential, to live in harmony with nature rather than constantly seeking to overcome its nuisances. Playing the guitar was not convenient. Neither was growing one’s own vegetables or fixing one’s own motorcycle. But such things were seen to have value nevertheless — or rather, as a result. People were looking for individuality again.

Perhaps it was inevitable, then, that the second wave of convenience technologies — the period we are living in — would co-opt this ideal. It would conveniencize individuality.

You might date the beginning of this period to the advent of the Sony Walkman in 1979. With the Walkman we can see a subtle but fundamental shift in the ideology of convenience. If the first convenience revolution promised to make life and work easier for you, the second promised to make it easier to be you. The new technologies were catalysts of selfhood. They conferred efficiency on self-expression."



"I do not want to deny that making things easier can serve us in important ways, giving us many choices (of restaurants, taxi services, open-source encyclopedias) where we used to have only a few or none. But being a person is only partly about having and exercising choices. It is also about how we face up to situations that are thrust upon us, about overcoming worthy challenges and finishing difficult tasks — the struggles that help make us who we are. What happens to human experience when so many obstacles and impediments and requirements and preparations have been removed?

Today’s cult of convenience fails to acknowledge that difficulty is a constitutive feature of human experience. Convenience is all destination and no journey. But climbing a mountain is different from taking the tram to the top, even if you end up at the same place. We are becoming people who care mainly or only about outcomes. We are at risk of making most of our life experiences a series of trolley rides.

Convenience has to serve something greater than itself, lest it lead only to more convenience. In her 1963 classic, “The Feminine Mystique,” Betty Friedan looked at what household technologies had done for women and concluded that they had just created more demands. “Even with all the new labor-saving appliances,” she wrote, “the modern American housewife probably spends more time on housework than her grandmother.” When things become easier, we can seek to fill our time with more “easy” tasks. At some point, life’s defining struggle becomes the tyranny of tiny chores and petty decisions.

An unwelcome consequence of living in a world where everything is “easy” is that the only skill that matters is the ability to multitask. At the extreme, we don’t actually do anything; we only arrange what will be done, which is a flimsy basis for a life.

We need to consciously embrace the inconvenient — not always, but more of the time. Nowadays individuality has come to reside in making at least some inconvenient choices. You need not churn your own butter or hunt your own meat, but if you want to be someone, you cannot allow convenience to be the value that transcends all others. Struggle is not always a problem. Sometimes struggle is a solution. It can be the solution to the question of who you are.

Embracing inconvenience may sound odd, but we already do it without thinking of it as such. As if to mask the issue, we give other names to our inconvenient choices: We call them hobbies, avocations, callings, passions. These are the noninstrumental activities that help to define us. They reward us with character because they involve an encounter with meaningful resistance — with nature’s laws, with the limits of our own bodies — as in carving wood, melding raw ingredients, fixing a broken appliance, writing code, timing waves or facing the point when the runner’s legs and lungs begin to rebel against him.

Such activities take time, but they also give us time back. They expose us to the risk of frustration and failure, but they also can teach us something about the world and our place in it.

So let’s reflect on the tyranny of convenience, try more often to resist its stupefying power, and see what happens. We must never forget the joy of doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not doing what is easiest. The constellation of inconvenient choices may be all that stands between us and a life of total, efficient conformity."
timwu  convenience  efficiency  psychology  business  2018  inconvenience  effort  technology  economics  work  labor  conformity  value  meaning  selfhood  self-expression  change  individuality  slow  slowness  customization  individualization  amazon  facebook  apple  multitasking  experience  human  humanness  passions  hobbies  resistance  struggle  choice  skill  mobile  phones  internet  streaming  applemusic  itunes 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Structure | The New Yorker
"He wrote Structur. He wrote Alpha. He wrote mini-macros galore. Structur lacked an “e” because, in those days, in the Kedit directory eight letters was the maximum he could use in naming a file. In one form or another, some of these things have come along since, but this was 1984 and the future stopped there. Howard, who died in 2005, was the polar opposite of Bill Gates—in outlook as well as income. Howard thought the computer should be adapted to the individual and not the other way around. One size fits one. The programs he wrote for me were molded like clay to my requirements—an appealing approach to anything called an editor."

[via: "Software written for an audience of one: I love John McPhee's meditation here -- https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/01/14/structure "
https://twitter.com/pomeranian99/status/935221709698949121 ]
customization  software  johnmcphee  howardstrauss  2013  small  audience  bespoke  individualization  personalization  audiencesofone 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Maker Education: Pedagogy, Andragogy, Heutagogy | User Generated Education
"Maker education is currently a major trend in education. But just saying that one is doing Maker Education really doesn’t define the teaching practices that an educator is using to facilitate it. Maker education takes on many forms. This post provides an overview of how maker education is being implemented based on the teaching practices as defined by the Pedagogy, Andragogy, Heutagogy (PAH) continuum.

[chart]

Traditionally, Pedagogy was defined as the art of teaching children and Andragogy as teaching adults. These definitions have evolved to reflect teacher practices. As such, andragogical and heutagogical practices can be used with children and youth.

PAH within a Maker Education Framework

The following chart distinguishes and describes maker education within the PAH framework. All teaching styles have a place in Maker Education. For example, pedagogical practices may be needed to teach learners some basic making skills. It helps to scaffold learning, so learners have a foundation for making more complex projects. I do, though, believe that maker education projects and programs should go beyond pedagogical oriented teaching as the overriding goal of maker education is for learners to create something, anything that they haven’t before.

Driving Questions

• Pedagogy – How well can you create this particular maker education project?
• Andragogy – How can this prescribed maker project by adapted and modified?
• Heutagogy – What do you want to make?

Overall Purpose or Goal

• Pedagogy – To teach basic skills as a foundation for future projects – scaffolding.
• Andragogy – To provide some structure so learners can be self-directed.
• Heutogogy – To establish an environment where learners can determine their own goals, learning paths, processes, and products for making.

Role of the Educator

• Pedagogy – To teach, demonstrate, help learners do the maker education project correctly.
• Andragogy – To facilitate, assist learners, mentor
• Heutagogy – To coach, mentor, be a sounding board, be a guide very much on the side.

Making Process

• Pedagogy – Use of prescribed kits, templates; step-by-step directions and tutorials.
• Andragogy – Use of some templates; learners add their own designs and embellishments.
• Heutagogy -Open ended; determined by the learner.

Finish Products

• Pedagogy – A maker project that looks and acts like the original model.
• Andragogy – A maker project that has some attributes of the original model but that includes the learner’s original ideas.
• Heutagogy – A maker project that is unique to the learner (& to the learning community)."
pedagogy  andragogy  heutagogy  education  teaching  learning  making  makers  projectbasedlearning  constructivism  constructionism  emergent  emergentpedagogy  self-directed  self-directedlearning  howweteach  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  community  individualization  personalization  differentiation  mentors  mentoring  sfsh  jackiegerstein  tcsnmy 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Why Audrey Watters Thinks Tech Is a Trojan Horse Set to ‘Dismantle’ the Academy - The Chronicle of Higher Education
[audio: https://soundcloud.com/relearning/episode-8-why-audrey-watters-thinks-tech-is-a-trojan-horse-set-to-dismantle-the-academy ]

"Q. What do you mean when you say there’s a "Silicon Valley narrative," and what do you most want people to understand about it?

A. This certainly comes from my background of having spent a lot of time thinking about culture. My master’s degree was in folklore, and so that’s very much about ethnography, culture, people, and stories that we tell. I’m also really interested in systems and institutions. I want people to really think about, What is technology doing? I think we really like the story that technology is inevitable, that technology is wrapped up in our notions of progress, and that somehow progress is inevitable itself and is positive. I think that there are lots of ways in which we can scrutinize the way in which technology is changing the world, changing our culture, changing our institutions, that aren’t necessarily about progress. Or to put a political bent on it, about progressive change."



"I think that one of the things that really interests me, and this is connected I would say to the Silicon Valley narrative, is the way in which we talk a lot about personalization through technology. And one of the values, I think, that Americans in particular tend to really privilege is individualism. There’s something really appealing, culturally, for us with this notion that we’re going to have software, and it isn’t just educational software, but we’re going to have software systems that are individualized and personalized to meet our needs. Amazon says it does this. Netflix says it does this. Facebook says it does this.

I think that we as Americans really like the idea that the world is about us as individuals. I think that it’s important to recognize that that’s a cultural value. Individualism is a cultural value. It’s not a natural way of being. But there’s something about the classroom that also involves a collective experience. We learn from one another. It isn’t simply just a matter of things being personalized or individualized to meet our needs. What happens when we decide that we’re going to all be on our individual computing devices working through lessons at our own individual pace? What happens to dialogue? What happens to discussion? What happens to debate? We sort of describe education as these polar opposites — that it’s either a math lecture or it’s this sort of individualized, personalized experience. I think those are sort of extremes on both ends.

But what happens when we do lose the ability to spend time as groups, talking and working through material together? I think university professors see technologies — with the exception of folks who adopt them on their own — as something that’s done to them, that’s imposed upon them, that’s not really their decision to make, that somebody else makes the decision about the technology. Somebody else decides whether the room is going to have a projector, or the computers in the teaching facility have Windows or Macs. I really feel as though technology is something that gets done to the classroom and isn’t really interesting to many, many professors. It seems like an obligatory thing."
audreywatters  technology  education  edtech  learning  community  teaching  howwelearn  howweteach  technosolutionism  2016  siliconvalley  siliconvalleynarrative  highered  highereducation  culture  individualism  personalization  individualization  systemsthinking  inevitability  progress 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Seven Pathways
"Our pathways are two things: Commitments for our professional learning - how will we learn to be contemporary educators - and promises to our students - what kind of educational environment are we building.

The Seven Pathways

Choice and Comfort

It is our responsibility to provide every learner with real learning space choices based on task-based and physical comfort-based needs, which not only allow their cognitive energy to be focused on learning but helps students to develop the contemporary skills needed to alter and use spaces to initiate and accomplish collaborative and individual work. This includes the availability of multiple communication tools and contemporary technologies as well as assisting students in understanding and creating a variety of learning products which demonstrate student choices in curriculum, task, technologies, and media.

Instructional Tolerance

We will all support student learning environments where active, engaged learners routinely choose from a variety of learning spaces, collaborative and individual activities, and technology tools, including their own personal devices. Our environments will create student opportunities to learn best practices essential to entering contemporary learning and work environments and which enable students to sustain an open mindset and skillset in the use of evolving technology tools. These environments, pre-K through 12, will allow negotiated environmental rules which include and improve student individual and community decision-making.

Universal Design for Learning/Individualization of Learning

No child within the Albemarle County Public Schools should need a label or prescription in order to access the tools of learning or environments they need. Within the constraints of other laws (in particular, copyright) we will offer alternative representations of information, multiple tools, and a variety of instructional strategies to provide access for all learners to acquire lifelong learning competencies and the knowledge and skills specified in curricular standards. We will create classroom cultures that fully embrace differentiation of instruction, student work, and assessment based upon individual learners’ needs and capabilities. We will apply contemporary learning science to create accessible entry points for all students in our learning environments; and which support students in learning how to make technology choices to overcome disabilities and inabilities, and to leverage preferences and capabilities.

Maker-Infused Curriculum

Across our School Division we are committed to student construction of knowledge and skills through the processes of imagining, creating, designing, building, engineering, evaluating and communicating learning. We believe that it is essential that our students learn how to be "Makers" in all phases of their lives, rather than just consumers. We are committed to "Making" as "how we learn," and not as an "extra," and we understand that both "Learning to Make" and "Making to Learn" are essential in every day classroom practice.

Project/Problem/Passion-Based Learning

All Albemarle County Public School students will have consistent learning opportunities across the curriculum to construct knowledge and understanding through responses to authentic problems; to create projects that demonstrate higher order thinking and knowledge acquisition, and to pursue personal interests by making real choices in project forms and media, even when those choices might lie beyond pre-determined expectations. Students will always be encouraged in the use of differentiated pathways as ways to both learn and demonstrate lifelong learning competencies.

Interactive Technologies

In every classroom, every day, we strive to create open learning environments in which students make individual choices as they use technologies to develop classroom work and assignments, and to provide opportunities for our students to actively make tech-based product investigation and choice as part of their study of curriculum. Our students will, regularly during instructional time, use those contemporary technologies (both school provided and individually owned) interact with external experts and students in other communities in order to build learner competencies in the use of the technologies of this century for information access and communication.

Connectivity

We will continuously develop and use activities that engage students in learning networks, including asynchronous and synchronous communication with external experts, access to digital content including primary sources, and interaction with other learners locally and globally who represent a variety of demographically diverse communities. We will, every day, promote and value collaborative projects and knowledge development representative of principles of global and digital literacy and effective, and which demonstrate appropriate global, national, community, and digital citizenship."
albermarleschooldistrict  irasocol  pammoran  technology  connectivity  projectbasedlearning  passionbasedlearning  making  mekers  curriculum  pathways  interaction  universldesign  learning  individualization  howweteach  howwelearn  teaching  education  schools  tolerance  instruction  choice  comfort  toolbelttheory  schooldesign  communication  pbl 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Kill Your Martyrs – The New Inquiry
"However well intentioned, the urge to treat Matthew Shepard as a blameless angel demonstrates so many of the pathologies in contemporary social liberalism. First is the left’s attraction to heroes and martyrs — a drive to personalize and individualize every issue, in a way that seems to directly cut against the theoretical commitment to identifying structural causes for social problems. After all, it is the right wing that prefers to reduce complex social issues to problems of personal character and claim economic outcomes are entirely the result of individual work ethic and talent. Advancing individuals as the symbols of a political causes invites attempts to discredit the causes by discrediting the inevitably flawed martyrs pressed into service to emblemize them. Yes, the personal is political. But the person is not the politics.

Neither are the activist groups entirely synonymous with their causes. Despite recent declarations of victory thanks to the advance of same-sex marriage, queer people in America continue to suffer from vast and entrenched discrimination in a variety of arenas. The gay rights movement remains essential and in need of protection against reactionary power. But no activist group is the movement. Like all institutions, they inevitably become more devoted to their self-perpetuation and to the needs of those working within them than to the cause with which they are identified. The Matthew Shepard Foundation, started by his parents, is an example. It has repeatedly worked to delegitimize not just Jimenez’s work but the very legitimacy of questioning the facts surrounding Shepard’s death.

But what, exactly, do Jimenez’s critics fear? What if every bad rumor about Matthew Shepard were true? For years, I have argued against the “race realist” arguments about race and IQ, the notion that our broad racial categories are significantly different in intelligence. But I have also argued against the notion that we just shouldn’t investigate the question — that some types of investigation should be taboo. This argument, voiced by writers like John Horgan and others, seems an enormous tactical and rhetorical mistake. What are they scared might be found? Regardless of any studies, I have no fear that we will somehow “discover” the inherent inferiority of any particular racial group. I have no fear that social science will result in our rejecting the equal dignity, value, and rights of people of color.

bloodpsortTNI Vol. 24: Bloodsport is out now. Subscribe for $2 and get it todayIf empirical tests suggest that our social construct of race align with differences in our social construct of intelligence, it invites consideration of how those constructs have been assumed or theorized, how those tests have been designed, and how structural aspects of our economy and our society have created conditions that make such perceived differences possible. No test results could undermine our pre-empirical commitment to the social and political equality of all races. Likewise, no journalistic revelations will change the fact that Matthew Shepard was strapped to a post, has his brain bludgeoned, and was left to die in the snow by killers who worked consciously and with premeditation. The right to live is not deserved. The right to not be killed does not stem from the perceived social legitimacy of one’s sexual or gender identity. McKinney and Henderson took Matthew Shepard out with the intention of killing him, and they did. That fact alone is reason for grief, disgust, and horror.

What, ultimately, is true about what happened in Laramie? I don’t know, and neither does Stephen Jimenez, and neither do his vitriolic critics. But I feel confident in the following: Someone who was innocent of anything immoral, as opposed to illegal, was intentionally and brutally murdered. His murderers were possessed, at the time, of some degree of homophobia, whether those feelings included the self-hatred of McKinney or not. The victim was forced to live in an unrepentantly homophobic country, one which refuses to meaningfully address the physical vulnerability of its unjustly targeted gay population and which was thus tacitly implicated in his murder. He died for no reason, and his killers deserve to spend the rest of their lives in jail. All that is true.

But the notion that this killing was a simple story of strangers meeting a defenseless gay man, being panicked by his homosexuality, and executing him in a fit of hatred, is no longer a responsible or informed position.

If Jimenez’s Matthew Shepard — involved in the drug trade, intimately acquainted with his killers, despairing — is the real Matthew Shepard, we face the same moral questions that we do when we consider Shepard the secular saint. Even if his death was not a black-and-white morality play which spoke perfectly to the assumptions of those who mourn him, and he not a media-ready victim but a complex and flawed human being, would he then lie outside of the boundaries of our compassion and our responsibility? And if he did, where is left for a movement seeking human justice to go?"
politics  personalization  individualization  matthewshepard  freddiedeboer  2014  news  truth  complexity  purity  humans  left  socialliberalism  heroes  martyrs  martyrdom  reification  hagiography  stephenjimenez  rigobertamenchú  simplification  simplicity  messaging  whitewashing  josephbrennan  credulity  bias  jennifertoth  themolepeople  journalism  storytelling  fiction  nonfiction  thebookofmatt  canon  radicalism 
january 2015 by robertogreco
All Technology is Assistive — Backchannel — Medium
"You might imagine that “disability studies” is just one more category of identity research that’s been created primarily for political advocacy, interesting only to those directly affected by issues of accessibility, accommodation, or special rights. But “disabled-ness” is another matter altogether. There are at least two big reasons why disability concerns are everyone’s concerns.

First, it’s a false divide to make a we/them: either able-minded, able-bodied, or disabled. After all, how cultures define, think about, and treat those who currently have marked disabilities is how all its future citizens may well be perceived if and when those who are able-bodied become less abled than they are now: by age, degeneration, or some sudden — or gradual — change in physical or mental capacities. All people, over the course of their lives, traffic between times of relative independence and dependence. So the questions cultures ask, the technologies they invent, and how those technologies broadcast a message about their users — weakness and strength, agency and passivity — are critical ones. And they’re not just questions for scientists and policy-makers; they’re aesthetic questions too.

Second, in many cultures — and certainly in the US — a pervasive, near-obsession with averages and statistical norms about bodies and capacities has become a naturalized form of describing both individuals and populations. But this way of measuring people and populations is historically very recent, and worth reconsidering."



"Well — it’s worth saying again: All technology is assistive technology. Honestly — what technology are you using that’s not assistive? Your smartphone? Your eyeglasses? Headphones? And those three examples alone are assisting you in multiple registers: They’re enabling or augmenting a sensory experience, say, or providing navigational information. But they’re also allowing you to decide whether to be available for approach in public, or not; to check out or in on a conversation or meeting in a bunch of subtle ways; to identify, by your choice of brand or look, with one culture group and not another.

Making a persistent, overt distinction about “assistive tech” embodies the second-tier do-gooderism and banality that still dominate design work targeted toward “special needs.” “Assistive technology” implies a separate species of tools designed exclusively for those people with a rather narrow set of diagnostic “impairments” — impairments, in other words, that have been culturally designated as needing special attention, as being particularly, grossly abnormal. But are you sure your phone isn’t a crutch, as it were, for a whole lot of unexamined needs?"



"In the name of good friction, then, I want to suggest some possible dispositions for designers and artists taking a look at ability and disability.

1. Invisibility is overrated.



2. Rethink the default bodily experience.



3. Consider fine gradations of qualitative change.



4. Uncouple medical technologies from their diagnostic contexts.



5. Design for one.



6. And this is perhaps the most important: Let the tools you make ask questions, not just solve problems."

[Previous versions/references here:
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:7cf533b38f8e
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:cf3e53f397e3 (now gone) ]

[See also this exchange: https://twitter.com/quinnnorton/status/523744699983478784 ]
sarahendren  2014  technology  assistivetechnology  disability  ablerism  activism  design  audiencesofone  tolls  askingquestions  canon  experience  bodies  humans  norms  standards  standardization  individualization  personalization  bellcurve  normalcy  normalness  lennarddavis  ideal  dependence  independence  questionasking  disabilities  body 
october 2014 by robertogreco
CURMUDGUCATION: Students Travel in Packs
"We don't talk about this much, but one more problem with the reformster agenda is that it takes each student as an isolated unit, a human being with no context. The picture of "individualized" education often portrayed by folks like Knewton (the mad number crunching scientists at Pearson) is that we feed Pat into the Giant Data Bank and the GDB spits out Chris a student that the magic formulas claim is just like Pat. "Here's how Chris learned this stuff," says the magical computer. "Just teach Pat the same way."

This is an odd approach for many reasons, but one of the oddest reasons is that it assumes that Pat and Chris are discrete isolated student units with no real context or social setting.

In reformsterland, people are disconnected and no relationships exist. Teachers and students interact in a Strictly Business manner-- teachers deliver instruction and students respond to it by becoming capable enough to score well on standardized tests. But at least teachers and students interact in some manner; in reformsterland, students do not interact with other students at all. The relationships they form, the culture that they create in their schools-- none of this actually exists. In reformsterland, students travel in isolated bubbles, unaffected by any of the other bubbles around them.

It's ironic, because in reformsterland every one of those bubbles contains an identical data generation unit (formerly known as human children). One size fits them all, and I suppose it doesn't matter which one of the other bubbles is their "friend" because they're all interchangeable, and relationships don't affect anything anyway.

It's just one more way in which reformsterland does not resemble the real world. Because in the real world, students travel in packs, and the packs are interesting and vibrant and affecting because every person brings something unique to the table. And the possible combinations of all these humans are infinite in number, staggering in complexity, and endless in influence, whether reformsters want to recognize their existence or not."
education  policy  edreform  onesixefitsall  standardization  school  instruction  standards  individualization  relationships  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  teaching  business  standardizedtests  data  petergreene  2014 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Ed-Tech's Monsters #ALTC
[video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kiotl4G6fMw ]

"No doubt, we have witnessed in the last few years an explosion in the ed-tech industry and a growing, a renewed interest in ed-tech. Those here at ALT-C know that ed-tech is not new by any means; but there is this sense from many of its newest proponents (particularly in the States) that ed-tech has no history; there is only now and the future.

Ed-tech now, particularly that which is intertwined with venture capital, is boosted by a powerful forms of storytelling: a disruptive innovation mythology, entrepreneurs' hagiography, design fiction, fantasy.

A fantasy that wants to extend its reach into the material world.

Society has been handed a map, if you will, by the technology industry in which we are shown how these brave ed-tech explorers have and will conquer and carve up virtual and physical space.

Fantasy.

We are warned of the dragons in dangerous places, the unexplored places, the over explored places, the stagnant, the lands of outmoded ideas — all the places where we should no longer venture. 

Hic Sunt Dracones. There be dragons.

Instead, I’d argue, we need to face our dragons. We need to face our monsters. We need to face the giants. They aren’t simply on the margins; they are, in many ways, central to the narrative."



"I’m in the middle of writing a book called Teaching Machines, a cultural history of the science and politics of ed-tech. An anthropology of ed-tech even, a book that looks at knowledge and power and practices, learning and politics and pedagogy. My book explores the push for efficiency and automation in education: “intelligent tutoring systems,” “artificially intelligent textbooks,” “robo-graders,” and “robo-readers.”

This involves, of course, a nod to “the father of computer science” Alan Turing, who worked at Bletchley Park of course, and his profoundly significant question “Can a machine think?”

I want to ask in turn, “Can a machine teach?”

Then too: What will happen to humans when (if) machines do “think"? What will happen to humans when (if) machines “teach”? What will happen to labor and what happens to learning?

And, what exactly do we mean by those verbs, “think” and “teach”? When we see signs of thinking or teaching in machines, what does that really signal? Is it that our machines are becoming more “intelligent,” more human? Or is it that humans are becoming more mechanical?

Rather than speculate about the future, I want to talk a bit about the past."



"To oppose technology or to fear automation, some like The Economist or venture capitalist Marc Andreessen argue, is to misunderstand how the economy works. (I’d suggest perhaps Luddites understand how the economy works quite well, thank you very much, particularly when it comes to questions of “who owns the machinery” we now must work on. And yes, the economy works well for Marc Andreessen, that’s for sure.)"



"But even without machines, Frankenstein is still read as a cautionary tale about science and about technology; and Shelley’s story has left an indelible impression on us. Its references are scattered throughout popular culture and popular discourse. We frequently use part of the title — “Franken” — to invoke a frightening image of scientific experimentation gone wrong. Frankenfood. Frankenfish. The monster, a monstrosity — a technological crime against nature.

It is telling, very telling, that we often confuse the scientist, Victor Frankenstein, with his creation. We often call the monster Frankenstein.

As the sociologist Bruno Latour has argued, we don’t merely mistake the identity of Frankenstein; we also mistake his crime. It "was not that he invented a creature through some combination of hubris and high technology,” writes Latour, "but rather that he abandoned the creature to itself.”

The creature — again, a giant — insists in the novel that he was not born a monster, but he became monstrous after Frankenstein fled the laboratory in horror when the creature opened his “dull yellow eye,” breathed hard, and convulsed to life.

"Remember that I am thy creature,” he says when he confronts Frankenstein, "I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good— misery made me a fiend.”

As Latour observes, "Written at the dawn of the great technological revolutions that would define the 19th and 20th centuries, Frankenstein foresees that the gigantic sins that were to be committed would hide a much greater sin. It is not the case that we have failed to care for Creation, but that we have failed to care for our technological creations. We confuse the monster for its creator and blame our sins against Nature upon our creations. But our sin is not that we created technologies but that we failed to love and care for them. It is as if we decided that we were unable to follow through with the education of our children.”

Our “gigantic sin”: we failed to love and care for our technological creations. We must love and educate our children. We must love and care for our machines, lest they become monsters.

Indeed, Frankenstein is also a novel about education. The novel is structured as a series of narratives — Captain Watson’s story — a letter he sends to his sister as he explores the Arctic— which then tells Victor Frankenstein’s story through which we hear the creature tell his own story, along with that of the De Lacey family and the arrival of Safie, “the lovely Arabian." All of these are stories about education: some self-directed learning, some through formal schooling.

While typically Frankenstein is interpreted as a condemnation of science gone awry, the novel can also be read as a condemnation of education gone awry. The novel highlights the dangerous consequences of scientific knowledge, sure, but it also explores how knowledge — gained inadvertently, perhaps, gained surreptitiously, gained without guidance — might be disastrous. Victor Frankenstein, stumbling across the alchemists and then having their work dismissed outright by his father, stoking his curiosity. The creature, learning to speak by watching the De Lacey family, learning to read by watching Safie do the same, his finding and reading Volney's Ruins of Empires and Milton’s Paradise Lost."



"To be clear, my nod to the Luddites or to Frankenstein isn’t about rejecting technology; but it is about rejecting exploitation. It is about rejecting an uncritical and unexamined belief in progress. The problem isn’t that science gives us monsters, it's that we have pretended like it is truth and divorced from responsibility, from love, from politics, from care. The problem isn’t that science gives us monsters, it’s that it does not, despite its insistence, give us “the answer."

And that is problem with ed-tech’s monsters. That is the problem with teaching machines.

In order to automate education, must we see knowledge in a certain way, as certain: atomistic, programmable, deliverable, hierarchical, fixed, measurable, non-negotiable? In order to automate that knowledge, what happens to care?"



"I’ll leave you with one final quotation, from Hannah Arendt who wrote,
"Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it and by the same token save it from that ruin which, except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and young, would be inevitable. And education, too, is where we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, nor to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something new, something unforeseen by us, but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world.”

Our task, I believe, is to tell the stories and build the society that would place education technology in that same light: “renewing a common world.”

We in ed-tech must face the monsters we have created, I think. These are the monsters in the technologies of war and surveillance a la Bletchley Park. These are the monsters in the technologies of mass production and standardization. These are the monsters in the technologies of behavior modification a la BF Skinner.

These are the monsters ed-tech must face. And we must all consider what we need to do so that we do not create more of them."
audreywatters  edtech  technology  education  schools  data  monsters  dragons  frankenstein  luddites  luddism  neoluddism  alanturing  thomaspynchon  society  bfskinner  standardization  surveillance  massproduction  labor  hannaharendt  brunolatour  work  kevinkelly  technosolutionism  erikbrynjolfsson  lordbyron  maryshelley  ethics  hierarchy  children  responsibility  love  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  learning  politics  policy  democracy  exploitation  hierarchies  progress  science  scientism  markets  aynrand  liberarianism  projectpigeon  teachingmachines  personalization  individualization  behavior  behaviorism  economics  capitalism  siliconvalley 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Toward a Luddite Pedagogy - Hybrid Pedagogy
"In stark contrast to the fluffy talk of a thousand “revolutions” coming from plush conference halls in places like Long Beach, California – talk that reduces serious political discourse to the level of a sales pitch – the Luddites were willing to pay the ultimate price for a real revolution in the prevailing power relations, hoping to build a social order that forward-thinking people like the Luddites might be able to believe in.

A Luddite pedagogy for the 21st century

Just as the 19th century Luddism was interested far more in a forward-looking political agenda than in particular pieces of technology, so a 21st century Luddism in education will be concerned with more important issues than whether or not allowing pupils to use their own devices in class is a good idea. Like their political ancestors, the Luddite pedagogues will wield a hammer, but they won’t see any urgency in bringing it down on trivial things like touch-screen gadgetry. Instead, the targets lie elsewhere.

One place they lie is in the false talk of liberation that has gained popularity among people using the #edtech hashtag. A Luddite pedagogy is a pedagogy of liberation, and, as such, it clashes head on with the talk of liberation peddled by advocates of edtech. According to the latter, the child, previously condemned to all the unbearably oppressive restrictions of having to learn in groups, can now be liberated by the tech that makes a 1:1 model of education feasible, launching each and every child on an utterly personal learning journey. Liberation as personalisation – here the Luddite finds something that ought to be smashed.

But what needs to be smashed is less the pedagogy itself than the idea of freedom it rests on – the more general political notion that freedom is all about freeing individuals from social constraints so that they can pursue their personal projects unhampered by the claims of society. This is the essentially liberal idea championed by Sir Ken Robinson, for instance, for whom it is enough for individuals to find things to do that they enjoy and that allow them to develop a talent.

But we need to be clear here: Luddism doesn’t want to smash the concern for personal freedom, rather it wants to smash the idea that it is enough. The untruth of personalisation is its unjustified narrowing of the horizon of liberation."



"A Luddite pedagogy takes its cue from this need to build (and later maintain) a world – a society – of a certain sort. And in pursuing this end, the Luddite hammer has to be brought down again on a number of currently dominant assumptions about education.

One is the assumption that education must be child-centred. Luddites laugh at the assumption that education must have a single centre. No, it has two (as Hannah Arendt argued). It must also be centred on the needs of the society whose construction and maintenance depend partly on education. Rather than the ideal of letting the child pursue his or her curiosity unconstrained (an impossible ideal in any case), Luddite teachers are right to cultivate the broadest possible engagement with the world that children will find themselves bearing responsibility for in the future.

And this means that the education of children at its best is less about personalisation than socialisation. And, no, it is not a form of indoctrination beginning with infants being frogmarched around the schoolyard before being compelled to learn the Little Red Book off by heart.

This does not imply any antithesis to solitary work or personal choice or occasional use of 1:1 techniques. All it entails is the inclusion of these in the broader framework of an education taking place chiefly in a school outside the home, where children can be introduced to the habits, values, ideas and ways of thinking that are crucial to a free society.

Like all societies, that free society, at the very least needs to be able to use the pronoun “we”. We can only achieve freedom historically if we find ourselves among people similarly engaged by the questions of who we are, what we are doing, what we believe and what makes sense to us. As preparation for this, a crucial initial task of school is to enable children to feel that they are part of a larger whole beyond the family, and then to equip them and inspire them to carry on the dialogue about the beliefs and ideas and frameworks of sense that hold society together."



"Because of the centrality in that debate of the questions about who we are, what we are doing, what we believe the Luddite pedagogy entails what might be called a Delphic model of education (recalling the inscription outside the Temple of Apollo in Delphi: Know Thyself), and it entails bringing the Luddite hammer down hard on the liberal taboo against what we would call an education in belief (and they would call indoctrination).

The broader liberal framework of personalising edtech requires keeping values out of education as much as possible, except as things to be studied “objectively” (e.g. in the form of comparative religion, where belief systems are presented without being questioned and evaluated). Only a minimal set of values are to be openly endorsed: chiefly the values of a respect for the facts and logic, combined with the minimal liberal agenda of tolerance, peace, and the value of a sort of idle critical thinking (idle because it is not really in earnest about criticising other systems of belief – that would be too illiberal).

A Luddite pedagogy puts the non-idle interrogation of values at the centre of the curriculum, at least in the high school, when children have a broad enough background to draw on when making their critical appraisals of ideas about value – the aim being to help children begin to think more deeply about what we believe and what makes sense and what doesn’t."
tornhalves  luddites  history  2014  luddism  edtech  education  socialization  democracy  learning  howwelearn  individualization  technology  1:1  kenrobinson  tcsnmy  freedom  collectivism  collectivity  debate  discourse  curriculum  walterbenjamin  hannaarendt  progress  disruption  mechanization  automation  atomization  subservience  revolution  neoluddism  society  unschooling  deschooling  personalization  schools  schooling  child-centered  children  1to1 
september 2014 by robertogreco
sprout & co :: Rendering Learners Legible
"Educators talk a lot about ‘personalization.’ Is the animating purpose of “personalization” in to render students legible? If it is, could Sal Khan take the Hippocratic oath?"
alecresnick  education  legibility  jamescscott  2013  salkhan  ethics  unschooling  deschooling  personalization  individualization  sprout&co  data  inbloom  schools  facebook  google  khanacademy  netflix  sprout  salmankhan 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Steve Hargadon - The Future of Education | Connected Learning
"Questions Asked/Key Comments Made

(16:54) As we're having these national conversations with a lot of hand-wringing about [...] the state of our education system, I think that we need to have some serious conversations about 'What is the purpose of education?'

(19:07) If the conversation about the purpose of education takes place at the EduCon or Steve Hargadon level, is that actually going to create the kind of change that we're looking for? Or does the conversation need to be taken down to a much more grassroots level?

(26:52) The first question coming in is about another elephant in the room: the assessment system of testing. That really is identified by the questioner as one of the deficiencies that you're referencing, Steve. And the question is very simply, "How can this be changed?"

…"

[I mentioned the chat here: http://branch.com/b/what-is-the-future-of-education with the following notes.]

I just watched a chat on "The Future of Education" [http://connectedlearning.tv/steve-hargadon-future-education ] (with Steve Hargadon, Jeff Brazil, Audrey Watters, Bryan Alexander, Monika Hardy) and I think it's worth sharing. Steve Hargadon kicks off the discussion with a pair of stories and a list of his four core beliefs regarding education, all of which I agree with:

1. "the worth and inherent value of every child" as opposed to defining children by deficiencies, as is mostly the case with the system that we currently have

2. "agency: the ultimate goal of education should be to develop the ability for students to take responsibility for their own lives and become increasingly self directed"

3. "the value of learning in helping us lead better lives by overcoming our biases, by overcoming simplistic thinking, by overcoming cognitive errors"

4. "the value of participation" for learning, democracy, professional development, etc.

One of the important points made in the conversation that follows is that that future could (and I hope it will) be found in networks rather than institutions or *a* system, both of which imply hierarchical power maintained through standardization. That's why I'm also leaving a link to Tricia Wang's talk "Dancing with Handcuffs: The Geography of Trust" [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TRKh4mdboM ], in which she gives a great description of the power of social networks while describing how they differ from social circles.

One final wish from me to add to all of this: I hope the future of education involves the elimination of age segregation. Networks can make that easy to accomplish.
us  society  lcproject  individualization  standardization  commoncore  autonomy  hierarchy  alternatives  future  generations  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  learning  purpose  economics  power  politics  schoolboards  institutions  insiders  deschooling  unschooling  assessment  technology  change  networks  education  2012  jeffbrazil  bryanalexander  audreywatters  monikahardy  stevehargadon  self-preservation 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Personalization vs Differentiation vs Individualization | Barbara Bray - Rethinking Learning
"After writing the post “Personalization is NOT Differentiating Instruction,” I received some very interesting feedback and more hits than any other of my posts. I think I hit a nerve.

So Kathleen McClaskey and I did some research on what personalization is and the differences between differentiation and individualization. We found very little information on the differences. And what we did find, we disagreed with many of the points. That lead us to create this chart:"
teaching  kathleenmcclaskey  barbarabray  2012  learning  differentiation  personalization  individualization  pedagogy  theory  education 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Hip Hop Genius: Remixing High School Education on Vimeo
"this video illustrates (literally!) the concept of Hip Hop Genius. these ideas are explored more fully in my book, Hip Hop Genius: Remixing High School Education (hiphopgenius.org)

the drawings were done by Mike McCarthy, a student at College Unbound (collegeunbound.org), a school that exemplifies many of the values espoused in the film. the entire video was shot in College Unbound's seminar space, where Mike has built a studio for his company Drawn Along (drawnalong.com)."
education  learning  politics  economics  creativity  hiphop  meaning  meaningmaking  dialogue  pedagogy  classideas  conversation  commonality  engagement  culture  love  identity  meaningfulness  ingenuity  instinct  confidence  remixculture  art  music  streetart  graffiti  resourcefulness  genius  sampling  individualization  projectbasedlearning  collegeunbound  change  gamechanging  flux  flow  freshness  emergentcurriculum  contentcreation  schools  unschooling  deschooling  mindset  dialog  pbl  remixing 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Squishy Not Slick - Squishy Not Slick
"Squishy Teaching =

Spontaneous - Unique - Particular - Tailored - Entangled - Mixed together - Woven - Patched - Organic - Rebel Forces - Poetic - Ambiguous - Emotional - Non-linear - Non-sequenced - Inquisitive - Inextricably-linked - Constructivist - Experiential - Holistic - Democratizing - Authentic - Collaborative - Adaptive - Complicated - Contextual - Relational

Slick Teaching =

Mass produced - Psychologically manipulative - Planned years in advance - Manufactured - Imperial - Hegemonic - Afraid - Spreadsheeted - Shallow - Narcotizing - Cauterizing - Anti-intellectual - Uncritical - Uncreative - Emotionless - Scripted - Juking the stats - Dropout factories - Assembly-lined"
lukeneff  teaching  education  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  mentoring  squishy  slick  frankchimero  pedagogy  holisticapproach  holistic  constructivism  democratic  ambiguity  audiencesofone  individualization  emotions  empathy  authenticity  spontaneity  collaboration  collaborative  adaptability  adaptive  context  contextual  relationships  meaning  sensemaking  meaningmaking  meaningfulness  dialogue  discussion  dialog 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Independence Day: Developing Self-Directed Learning Projects - NYTimes.com
"What would schools look like if students developed their own curriculum? How would education and the experience of being in school differ for students if they had more power to direct their learning? In this lesson, students consider an experiment in public education in which a small group of high school students planned and executed a model for their own learning. They then develop and implement their own self-directed projects and reflect on the results." [See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/opinion/15engel.html AND http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTmH1wS2NJY ]
pedagogy  education  learning  tcsnmy  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  independentproject  schools  studentdirected  self-directed  self-directedlearning  projectbasedlearning  projects  curriculum  lifeskills  standards  collaboration  problemsolving  criticalthinking  self-regulation  leadership  individualization  theindependentproject  freedom  independence  cv  freeschools  democraticschools  autodidacts  autodidactism  student-led  autodidacticism  pbl 
march 2011 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Choosing Not to Create Change
"Unlike those of us who discuss abandoning age-based grades, or testing for compliance, or might use donor money to make schools available for parent-learning, or who might infuse schools with contemporary technologies which would allow for individualization and support for the widest range of learners, Teach for America speaks all day about high standards and classroom management and modeling a behavior system. They love tests. They prepare their teachers for traditional classrooms. They work every day to, essentially, keep the system the same because that is the system which has worked for themselves…<br />
<br />
And through it all, Kopp and friends have offered us exactly what? By grabbing not just the media attention, but a huge amount of public cash as well, what they have offered us is protection for the status quo."
tfa  irasocol  education  policy  reform  testing  agesegregation  grades  grading  individualization  wendykopp  funding  2011  schools  deschooling  teachforamerica 
february 2011 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Toolbelt Theory for Everyone
"The only way to allow students to assemble this essential toolbelt for information and communication is to to throw open your classroom and let the world in. How will your students know which calendar works for them - the one on their phone, Google Calendar with SMS appointment texting, Microsoft Outlook, or any of a dozen paper systems unless you allow them to try them out? How will your students know whether they 'get' a novel better by listening to an audiobook, or reading it on paper, or using text-to-speech, if you don't let them experience all repeatedly and help them decide? Will their choice be the same when they are reading history texts? Math texts? Again, how will they know? How will they know which is the best way for them to write, by hand (either on paper or on a tablet system), by keyboard (and which keyboard), or by voice, if they do not get to try out all the kinds of writing they need to do with all these tools?"

[See also: http://es.slideshare.net/irasocol/toolbelt-theory ]
tools  assistivetechnology  technology  education  accessibility  irasocol  onlinetoolkit  toolbelttheory  learning  tcsnmy  cv  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  onesizefitsall  individualization  individuality  whatworks  toolbelts  environment  skills  learningtolearn  2008 
december 2010 by robertogreco
NYU > Gallatin
"The Gallatin School of Individualized Study, a small innovative college within New York University, gives students the opportunity to design a program of study tailored to their own needs and interests. When students choose Gallatin, they take on the exciting challenge of creating their own curriculum and unique plan for learning. They pursue their individual interests from a personal perspective by taking courses in the various schools of New York University, engaging in self-directed education through independent studies, and participating in experiential learning through internships at New York City's countless institutions, businesses, and arts organizations. Undergraduates experience a thorough grounding in the history of ideas and great books, and graduate students pursue advanced study in interdisciplinary modes of thought."
nyc  nyu  schools  colleges  universities  gallatin  gallatinschoolofindividualizedstudy  individualization  individualized  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  porous  openclassroom  explodingschool  crossdisciplinary  generalists  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  srg  edg  glvo  seminars  seminarmethod  greatbooks  education  learning 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Gallatin School of Individualized Study - Wikipedia
"The Gallatin School of Individualized Study (generally known simply as Gallatin) is a small college within New York University.

Founded in 1972 as the University Without Walls, the school is named after Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury under Thomas Jefferson, and the founder of NYU. Gallatin believed that the place for a university was not in "the seclusion of cloistered halls but in the throbbing heart of a great city." It was in this spirit that Gallatin was founded. Herbert London was the school's first dean through 1992.

Gallatin aims to provide a "small college" feel, while leveraging its location within one of the largest private universities in the United States. Students are expected to design their own interdisciplinary program that meets their specific interests and career goals. Coursework can be undertaken at any of the schools that comprise NYU. Gallatin currently enrolls 1200 undergraduates and 200 graduate students."
nyc  nyu  schools  colleges  universities  gallatin  gallatinschoolofindividualizedstudy  individualization  individualized  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  porous  openclassroom  explodingschool  crossdisciplinary  generalists  mosdef  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  srg  edg  glvo  seminars  seminarmethod  greatbooks  education  learning 
november 2010 by robertogreco

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