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robertogreco : inevitability   3

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
Teju Cole's Every Day is for the Thief and the Novel of Ideas | New Republic
"Though Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah was released this past spring to general acclaim, certain critics seemed to object to the blurring between novelist and protagonist. Such objections would be meaningless (aren’t all protagonists at least part author?) were it not for the structure of the novel, which mixed “blog posts” from the protagonist with the more traditional, realist narrative. The protagonist, a Nigerian-born immigrant—like Adichie—rises to academic renown and general fame on the merits of these blog posts, which riff on various aspects of contemporary race relations. Was the character just a mouthpiece for the author’s sociological observations? And if so, was the story just a way to illustrate Adichie’s ideas, less a painting than a presentation?"



"In another scene, he recognizes a cousin he’d never met. “She was born after I left home,” he writes, “and, until this moment, we have only been rumors to each other. But so quickly do we get to know each other that, soon, I cannot even remember a time when I did not know her. She moves so easily all I think of is sunlight.” At less than a page, it’s the loveliest scene in the book. It’s also its emotional center. “Every good thing I secretly wish for this country,” he writes, “I secretly wish on her behalf.” The experience of seeing his cousin turns into a reflection on hidden strength: “The completeness of a child is the most fragile and most powerful thing in the world.”1  This sentence is hard to quote without a sense of banality or sentimental pap, but Cole avoids it by letting the reader feel his ideas as they develop. His cousin is hope for the future, as another child, the titular thief, is the desperate present."



"We’re left with the inevitability of the system, as Cole moves seamlessly from scene-setting to an explanation of the forces it encapsulates. “And what if he was only eleven? A thief is a thief; his master will find another boy, another one without a name. The market has seen everything. It must eat.”"
tejucole  2014  literature  books  writing  chimamandangoziadichie  chimamandaadichie  blogs  blogging  systems  inevitability  everydayisforthethief 
march 2014 by robertogreco

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