Yesterday I blogged about a short article reporting a DARPA scheme that wants to put an electroencephalogram machine in every classroom. Well, as you may have gathered, I'm in one of my "moods" about the corporate quackery and kookiness that has invaded every classroom in the USSA, and many other western countries.
I said has invaded rather than wants to invade because in point of fact, the process of this invasion began long ago, and is best symbolized in the nuttery of the Education Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey, misbegotten "brainchild" of Henry Chauncey and his Harvard mentor, James Bryant Conant, former Hardvard President and a man who... well, I'll leave that aside for the moment. The result of this Amarikuhn obsession with being traditionally anti-traditional has been an educational system awash with mediocrity, faddery, and a plethora of corporations inventing a new Rube Goldberg technological solution to the country's educational woes every few years or so, the latest snake oil program being Common Core and its individually adaptive computerized standardized tests, the dangers of which I have attempted to point out before. But now the program is beginning to come under fire, as more and more states are pulling out of it, and as even the mainstream media now at least pretends to get that there are problems. This article, from Wired magazine, was shared by Mr. D.E., and it's well worth your consideration if you are concerned about the state of education in your country, and about the deleterious influence Amairikun edgykayshunul methods and approaches may be having over it:
Now let's begin with the first and most obvious fact: corporations do not have a Bill of Rights; they by their structure are not concerned with individual human creativity, individually, and freedom. They are interested in "the team player," in the collective, in conformity, and profits. If they can produce a facsimile of education - for that is all they can produce - and make a profit off of it, so much the better. Consider the implications of these paragraphs from Wired's article:
In the US, Pearson is best known as a major crafter of the Common Core tests used in many states. It also markets learning software, powers online college programs, and runs computer-based exams like the GMAT and the GED. In fact, Nellie already knew the name Pearson from the tests and prep her sister took to get into nursing school.
But the company has its eye on much, much more. Investment firm GSV Advisors recently estimated the annual global outlay on education at $5.5 trillion and growing rapidly. Let that number sink in for a second—it’s a doozy. The figure is nearly on par with the global health care industry, but there is no Big Pharma yet in education. Most of that money circulates within government bureaucracies.
Pearson would like to become education’s first major conglomerate, serving as the largest private provider of standardized tests, software, materials, and now the schools themselves.
To this end, the company is testing academic, financial, and technological models for fully privatized education on the world’s poor. It’s pursuing this strategy through a venture called the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund. Pearson allocated the fund an initial $15 million in 2012 and another $50 million in January 2015. Students in developing countries vastly outnumber those in wealthy nations, constituting a larger market for the company than students in the West. Here in the US, Pearson pursues its privatization agenda through charter schools that are run for profit but funded by taxpayers. It’s hard to imagine the company won’t apply what it learns from its global experiments as it continues to expand its offerings stateside.
And let's add to this the following paragraph:
The curriculum, designed with much input from Pearson, hints at innovative, progressive ideas about education, like interest-driven learning and collaboration. Every classroom has computers and Internet access. There are also frequent standardized tests and a custom-built software system that uses analytics to manage applications, admissions, parent satisfaction, and student outcomes.
And there it is: "progressive ideas about education" and "collaboration" (meanning group learning "projects") and "every classroom has computers and internet access" along with "frequent standardized tests" and "custom-built software".
Notably lacking in all this seems to be any mention of the self-evident, (but to today''s young people, not really so evident), idea that not all information, in fact, quite a great deal of it, is not on the internet; it's in libraries and books. No problem. Pearson also wants to provide the textbooks, i.e., control the information, doubtless in the form of ebooks which can be adjusted from year to year and inconvenient things omitted (or added) as needed.
Call me a curmudgeon if you will, or even a Luddite(which I'm not, for obviously I am using a computer and the internet to disseminate this blog). But I know enough from my experience in the classroom that there is absolutely no technological substitute for the human presence of a competent professor or teacher in the classroom, and that there is no standardized test than can ever adequately measure a student's ability to write and articulate their knowledge for themselves on essay exams and papers that must be read and evaluated by another human being competent in the discipline itself and not the latest educational methodolical and pedagogical fad. It's time to throw out the idea of textbooks that contain no texts, i.e., no primary source readings from Plato, Shelley, Goethe, or Einstein, Maxwell, Darwin, or whomever. It is time to throw out the corporations and their standardized tests absolutely, once and for all, from the classroom, and restore real teaching, with real texts, real books, real readings, with real human interaction and mentorship, and a respect for the individual and his or her creativity and reasoning process.
Not for nothing do the elites themselves send their children to real schools with real teachers, no computers, real books, and few, if any, standardized tests. Pearson, the ETS(Educational Testing Service), and other such corporations are responsible for creating the educational mess we're in. We should not, therefore, trust them one iota with being part of the solution. If you're a teacher or a professor, this is about you, for what they want to do is to rob you of your livelihood and your academic achievement. It's time to send them packing.
See you on the flip side...