“Anyone who has observed the enthusiasm for training students to show more “grit” or develop a “growth mindset” should know what it means to focus on fixing the kid so he or she can better adapt to the system rather than asking inconvenient questions about the system itself. Big data basically gives us more information, based on grades, about which kids need fixing (and how and when), making it even less likely that anyone would think to challenge the destructive effects of – and explore alternatives to – the practice of grading students.
Here’s a rule of thumb for you: An individual’s enthusiasm about the employment of “data” in education is directly proportional to his or her distance from actual students.
By now we should have realized that methods leave an imprint on goals and technology in particular has a causal impact.
The reckless reduction of human beings to numbers is offensive regardless of what’s done with those numbers. An aerial view by definition fails to capture the individuality of the people on the ground, and there’s a price to pay if we spend our days looking at humanity — or even literature — that way.
Part of the problem is that we end up ignoring or minimizing the significance of whatever doesn’t lend itself to data analytics.
Noam Scheiber, a reporter who covers workplace issues, recently observed that big data is “massively increasing the power asymmetry between exploiters and exploitees.”
At the same time that this approach reduces human beings to a pile of academic performance data, it also discourages critical thought about how the system, including teaching and evaluation, affects those human beings.