That’s how the power of philanthropy works. It sets the agenda. Personalized learning. The Common Core. Charter schools. Measures of Effective Teaching. It didn’t push for these ideas because that’s what people wanted. It helped convince politicians that these were the ideas that education needed. That is to say, education policy has not been shaped by democratic forces as much as it has been by philanthropic ones — by the billionaires who wield immense political power through their “charity.”
Rather than reject this plutocracy — a plutocracy that has corrupted so many of our democratic institutions long before President Trump ever came into office — Michael Bloomberg is asking Democrats to embrace it.
It’s been a thoroughly demoralizing few weeks on the advocacy front with a progressive Democrat endorsing ABA in education and the vile flood of ableism from the left directed at disabled self-advocates for sharing tales of ableism in the gig economy.
I cling to the bright spot that is Alfie Kohn’s powerful piece of advocacy against behaviorism in ed.
See also his previous piece on behaviorism.
“The right to learn differently should be a universal human right that’s not mediated by a diagnosis.”
For “all means all” to be meaningful for neurodivergent and disabled students, we must commit to this.
We so desperately need allies against ABA & behaviorism in ed. Allies like @alfiekohn. He gets it. The response to this piece from the neurodiversity, disability, & ed communities I hang out in has been very positive. Kohn is an informed ally. https://www.alfiekohn.org/blogs/autism/
A funny thing happened on the way to academic integrity. Plagiarism detection software (PDS), like Turnitin, has seized control of student intellectual property. While students who use Turnitin are discouraged from copying other work, the company itself can strip mine and sell student work for profit.
“Does It Make More Sense to Invest in School Security or SEL?” Edsurge asked in 2018. Those are the choices education technology now has for us apparently: surveillance or surveillance.
This open access textbook on autistic community and the neurodiversity movement—edited by an autistic neurodiversity researcher—is a free download.
Parents and educators, check it out.
What if anything “good” about ed-tech this past decade was so overwhelmed by all the money funneled into the “bad” that the “good” didn’t matter one whit? What if all that “bad” meant any semblance of “good” was stifled, suffocated? What if, as David Kernohan has suggested, there wasn’t anything this past decade but technological disappointment? What if there wasn’t anything good about ed-tech?
I’m serious. Sit with that sentence a minute before you pipe up to defend your favorite app or social network or that cute robot your kids coded to move in a circle. What if there wasn’t anything good about ed-tech? What if ed-tech is totally inseparable from privatization, behavioral engineering, and surveillance? What if, by surrendering to the narrative that schools must be increasingly technological, we have neglected to support them in being be remotely human? What if we can never address the crises of our democracies, of our planet if we keep insisting on the benevolence of tech?
Source: HEWN, No. 337
“Behaviorism is the foundation of education technology.” It is also the foundation of too much of what we platforms do. See Audrey Watters’ review of the past decade of unethical and misguided ed-tech. Resisting behaviorism in education and in our companies is part of the work of the neurodiversity and disability movements. Allies welcome.
For this reason, I would suggest a renewed focus on MESH education, which stands for Media Literacy, Ethics, Sociology, and History. Because if these are not given equal attention, we could end up with incredibly bright and technically proficient people who lack all capacity for democratic citizenship.
The future of the nation and the world depends on an engaged, informed, and critically-thinking population. That means we need more than just STEM, more than technological advances, and more than high standardized test scores. We need MESH and civic competence as well.