robertogreco + onesizefitsall   17

Utopian Overreach — Real Life
"Digital wellness offers self-help as self-reliance

In July 2018, I ran a workshop called What Is Your Utopia at SpaceUs Roslindale, an MIT DesignX project that turned empty shopfronts into artist studios. The goal was to not only to demonstrate how utopian thinking can help us imagine new ways to address problems but also to show how anyone’s vision of an ideal world would inevitably impose their personal values as universals. Though the participants’ utopias were wide-ranging — from a completely pastoral society to a high-tech urbanized world to a libertarian commune — they came to see how they would quickly fall apart over such questions as “Who rules in your utopia, and how are they selected?” and “Does the society in your utopia hinge on equality, or is it something else?” A universalized mode of living and being almost always leaves someone out, always producing “losers.”

This lesson applies equally to the form of utopian thinking that is perhaps most prevalent today: digital utopianism. It is premised on the belief that technology-oriented solutions — whether it’s “smart” cities, or autonomous-vehicle systems, or drone-delivery schemes, or “connecting the world” — can fulfill a utopian ideal and provide uniform benefits for everyone. Popular science writers and technologists often deploy implicitly utopian thinking to promote their ideas, as if it were a deus ex machina to remove technologies from the sociopolitical context in which they are used.

The digital-wellness movement, though it seems to counter the grandiose schemes of the tech industry, shares a similar aspiration of fixing people for their own good, prescribing a specific one-size-fits all relationship with technology as a way to build an ideal society. This movement is typified by former Google employee Tristan Harris’s Center for Humane Technology, books like Georgetown computer science professor Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism and Catharine Price’s How to Break Up With Your Phone, and software such as the Before Launcher and Google’s new suite of experiments aimed at “balancing life and tech,” including a counter that tells you how many times you’ve unlocked your phone in a day.

What these interventions all have in common is how they frame our problems with technology as a matter between the individual and a specific device or app rather than the social, moral, and infrastructural relations that ultimately bind them together. They posit that apps in and of themselves compel our attention irresistibly through “dark patterns” of malevolent design, as if other people were not intrinsically involved in what we generally use phones to do. For example, in a Vox article, Recode’s Shirin Ghaffary claims that “if tech execs really wanted to help people with smartphone dependence, they would change their products to be inherently less addictive.”

In such accounts, technology is anthropomorphized and depicted as a separate entity with power and agency that comes at humans’ expense. Accordingly, digital wellness preaches the possibility of self-improvement through reclaiming our agency over devices. It holds that we can singlehandedly resist “technology” through individual, unilateral action once the secrets of manipulative design are explained to us. Rather than addressing the complexity of our relations with each other, institutions, social conditions, or anything else that communication technology plays into, digital wellness offers self-help as self-reliance while leaving the broader, underlying conditions unaddressed.

Newport’s digital minimalism, for instance, suggests spending time away from screens and devices, as well as “dumbing down” your phone by deleting social media, so that you can reduce screen time and “move on with the business of living your real-world life.” That may sound straightforward enough, but it takes for granted a clean separation of “worlds,” as though the demands of our lives don’t deeply involve digital communication and perpetual connectivity. Newport posits a utopia where you can live in the “real” world, with “real” relationships and a subservient technology that can “support — not subvert — your efforts to live well.” But what counts as “real”? And in an era when digital technology is used as means of employer control over employees, who has sufficient autonomy to insist on their own definition and refuse the subservience that’s mediated by phones, if not necessarily caused by them?

The digital-wellness movement associates what is “real” with what is “human,” positing a “perfect user,” as this earlier Real Life essay suggests, who engages in self-discipline and assumes responsibility for the nature of their entanglement with technology. Those with sufficient self-mastery to use technology appropriately are deemed more human than the phone zombies who succumb to tech’s predations. Media theorist Mark Poster predicted this sort of concern in his 2001 book What’s the Matter With the Internet?, where he suggests that information machines will “put into question humanity as an instrumental agent.” The digital-wellness movement tends to presume that the usefulness of technology comes at the expense of human capability, as if these were inherently zero-sum rather than potentially complementary. So it responds to the question of human agency by decontextualizing technology use and depicting it as being a matter of the individual’s unilateral will.

In protesting the functions that we’ve “offloaded” to devices, the digital-wellness movement evokes a utopia in which everyone experiences the same human-machine relation: Humans and technology are entirely separate, machines fundamentally rob humans of their agency, and humans reassert their humanity by claiming agency back. Though this sounds critical of tech-company overreach, it actually reflects the same underlying view it means to resist. Both tech companies and digital-wellness advocates posit an individual who can operate independent of society — a rational, free, and self-regulating subject. But where tech companies tend to claim their products liberate users from social entanglement, digital wellness suggests that users liberate themselves by rejecting those same products. Newport’s minimalist digital utopia and Zuckerberg’s all-enveloping digital utopia end up serving the same figure of the liberal humanist subject. In both cases, what differentiates the human from the nonhuman is the capability for agency.

But “human” has never had a truly universal definition. Feminist theorist Karen Barad, in Meeting the Universe Halfway, offers two different arguments for rejecting a universalist humanism: The first is the postmodernist claim that the human subject does not exist outside its entanglement in social practices. The second, informed by her training as a quantum physicist, points to how anthropocentric conceptual frameworks and measurement apparatuses posit a scientist who purportedly transcends the natural world and its nonhuman inhabitants.

Perhaps the strongest critique of humanism comes from postcolonial theory. Aimé Césaire notes in Discourse on Colonialism that not a single “defender of the human person” — from the preacher to the academic — showed any sign of outrage when colonialists tried to subjugate the world in the name of religion or for the “just demands of the human collectivity,” from which colonized people were excluded, simply categorized as savage beings in need of civilizing. The humanist underpinnings of the digital utopia — distinguishing who counts as a real person — draw on a perspective that is effectively colonialist.

Digital colonialism has new technologies merely replicating and strengthening existing power structures — which are already largely informed by colonialism. The concentration of much of the internet into the hands of a few tech companies have meant that digital surveillance and control have also been centralized. This has prompted some artists and academics to seek the decolonization of digital technology; Morehshin Allahyari’s 3D sculptures, for example, claims cultural works as a challenge to tech companies’ extractive practices.

Just as technology’s impacts and benefits are unevenly distributed, on both an individual and a cultural level, so is the nature of the agency humans have over it. Some groups draw on privilege they have beyond online spaces to exert control within them, while others depend on online connection to a different degree because of the exclusions they experience. Consider what early internet communities provided for people who do not have the same chance to make kin IRL, the “geeks, freaks, and queers who embraced the internet as a savior,” as theorist danah boyd has pointed out. Such divergent experiences with technology break down the idea of a universal digital anxiety. The anxieties, fantasies, and possibilities technology evokes are contextual; they vary according to the power relations among individuals, groups, and institutions within a given circumstance, because of the multitude of power, privilege, race, and other sociocultural dynamics that exist in relation to these technologies. The digital wellness utopia flattens all that into a single concern, reflecting the anxieties of one particular group — the demographic that includes Silicon Valley technologists.

Poster suggests that the “sensible” approach to thinking about technology would be not to lament “the destruction of nature by the irresponsible deployment of machines or the loss of human reality into machines or even the cultural ‘misshaping’ of the human by its descent into the instrumental” but rather to consider the nature of the cyborg — what he calls the “humachine.” The figure of the cyborg has been a fantastically important tool in reimagining social and technical relations, from Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg… [more]
wellness  individualism  technology  colonialism  liberalism  alifibrahim  2019  self-help  self-reliance  humanism  digital  digitalwellness  minimalism  reallife  self-mastery  internet  web  online  mobile  phones  decontextualization  employment  control  autonomy  privilege  karenbarad  utopia  universalism  morethanhuman  aimécesaire  collectivity  collectivism  civilization  marginalization  inequality  posthumanism  posthuman  yukhui  cybernetics  ideology  philagre  freedom  shiringhaffary  catharineprice  calnewport  launcher  google  tristanharris  facebook  markzuckerberg  addiction  spaceusroslindale  mitdesignx  equality  onesizefitsall  socialmedia  morehshinallahyari  decolonization  art 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Science / Fiction — Carol Black
"‘Evidence-based’ education, scientific racism, & how learning styles became a myth."



"1. The Debunkers
2. The Map and the Territory
3. The Evidence
4. The Territory Beyond the Map
5. Here Be Dragons"



"A disturbing feature of this discourse in education is the frequency with which it takes the form of male researchers and pundits telling female educators that their views on learning are cognitively childish and irrational and should therefore be disregarded. Cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham, a prominent debunker, has shared some rather patronizing speculations as to why the vast majority of (mostly female) teachers persist in thinking their students have different learning styles ("I think learning styles theory is widely accepted because the idea is so appealing. It would be so nice if it were true.") His paternal tone is especially disturbing since he makes his case by failing to mention the existence of legitimate competing views from respected scientists and education researchers."



"But despite the debunkers' undeniable passion on the topic, the fact is that there are extremely reputable scientists on both sides of this debate. In other words, as Grundmann and Stehr put it, "the basic rift in these debates is not between lay people and experts but between two alliances that advocate different courses of action based on divergent basic values and knowledge claims... we see representatives of science and the lay public on both sides."

So what are the two alliances in the case of learning styles? And what are their divergent basic values?

Luckily, you don't have to dig very deep to find out. If you review the writings of the most vocal learning styles 'debunkers,' you quickly find that they are almost always simply advocates for traditional, teacher-controlled direct instruction. They tend to favor a traditional "core knowledge" curriculum, traditional forms of discipline, and they adhere to a traditional IQ-based view of intelligence. In other words, they’re just educational conservatives. (In the UK they openly call themselves "trads" as opposed to "progs.") They trumpet any research that supports their preferences and ignore or attempt to discredit any research that leans the other way. They don't like progressive or self-directed or culturally relevant approaches to education. They don't tend to concern themselves overmuch with less tangible aspects of children's well-being like, say, "happiness" or "creativity" or "mental health." They define "what works" in education in terms of test scores.

But the reality is that you can’t say ‘what works” in education until you answer the question: works for what? As Yong Zhao explains in “What Works May Hurt: Side Effects in Education,” it’s reasonable to assume, in education as in medicine, that any given intervention may have negative as well as positive effects; if we want to claim to be evidence-based, we need to look at both. What raises test scores may lower creativity or intrinsic motivation, and vice versa; this study, for example, found that direct instruction hastened young children's mastery of a specific task, but lowered exploratory behavior. So “what the research supports” depends on what you value, what you care most about, what kind of life you want for your children."



"The first thing to understand about learning styles is that there is no agreed-on definition of the term. Multiple frameworks have been proposed, from the popular Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic framework, to the Concrete-Abstract framework, to the Holistic-Analytical, Impulsive-Reflective, Convergent-Divergent, Field-Dependent-Field-Independent, Cognitive-Affective-Physiological –– one literature review identified 71 different models. As Kirschner and van Merriënboer grouse, if we consider each learning style as dichotomous (e.g. visual vs. verbal) that means there are 2 to the power of 71 possible combinations of learning styles – more than the number of people alive on earth.

They say that like it’s a bad thing. But as astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson remarked recently, “In science, when human behavior enters the equation, things go nonlinear. That's why physics is easy and sociology is hard.”

Zhang and her frequent collaborators Robert Sternberg and Stephen Rayner, co-editors of The Handbook of Intellectual Styles, are not fans of the 'debunkers.' They use the term intellectual style as an "umbrella term for all style constructs," (including learning styles, cognitive styles, perceptual styles, and thinking styles) which relate to "people's preferred ways of processing information and dealing with tasks." (Notice the word "preferred" here, since that will come up later.) As these authors see it, intellectual style differences are complex, involving cognitive, affective, physiological, psychological, and sociological dimensions. Researchers Maria Kozhevnikov, Carol Evans, and Stephen Kosslyn use the term cognitive style (which includes learning style constructs), to describe "patterns of adaptation to the external world that develop through interaction with the surrounding environment on the basis of innate predispositions, the interactions among which are shaped by changing environmental demands."

The most promising style constructs, in Kozhevnikov's view, are not the narrow visual-auditory-kinesthetic (V-A-K) perceptual categories, but the richer constructs of "context-dependency vs. independency, rule-based vs. intuitive processing, internal vs. external locus of control, and integration vs. compartmentalization." These cognitive tendencies are neither set in stone nor completely malleable; they intersect with cognition at multiple levels, from perception to concept formation to higher-order cognitive processing to meta-cognitive processing.

So it's complicated. And yet despite what researchers Elena Grigorenko and Samuel Mandelman call "the very fine texture" of the "intertwined threads of intelligence and personality" that make learning styles so devilishly hard to define, in practice these differences are not at all difficult to see.

Which is probably why somewhere between 75 and 90% of teachers believe they exist.

In self-directed learning situations where children are able to follow their curiosity in their own ways, differences that might be muted or masked in a controlled instruction setting become very clearly visible. Sensory preferences intersect with social, emotional, and cognitive differences in complex and individual ways that profoundly shape how each child enters and explores and takes hold of the world. One child will spend quiet hours poring over illustrated books about science or history; another child is quickly bored by those, but gets deeply engaged in active social projects like building or filmmaking or citizen science. One child listens in on adult conversations and remembers everything she hears, absorbing knowledge like a sponge; another child creates and constructs knowledge in her own hands-on ways, writing her first book before she reads one. One child is observant and cautious, always making sure of things before venturing into unfamiliar terrain; another child is bold and intuitive, diving in head first and filling in the gaps later in a "fake it till you make it" spirit. The river moves steadily toward the sea, but it follows many divergent pathways, and the shortest distance between two points may not be a straight line.

In other words, human learning differences are complex, multi-dimensional, and difficult to definitively pin down, but this much is clear: the kids have different styles of learning. So how does something so intuitively obvious and readily observed cease to exist in the eyes of the debunkers?"



"The debunkers admit that people have fairly stable learning preferences. They also admit that people have variable abilities in visual v. auditory memory, etc. When you combine preference with ability –– e.g. "I have a good visual memory, and I prefer information presented visually" –– that’s probably what many speakers of the English language understand by the term “learning style.”

So that thing? That exists.

But here’s where the crucial elision occurs, and the claim shifts to the matching hypothesis. In a literature review of learning styles research, Pashler et al. state it this way: the theory of learning styles is only confirmed if we can successfully sort individuals into groups “for which genuine group-by-treatment interactions can be demonstrated.”

What are “group-by-treatment” interactions? Well, in this scenario the teacher diagnoses and sorts the learners into groups, applies a randomized instructional “treatment” to each group, and then administers a test to determine which “treatment” worked better –– like a drug trial.

It's important to note that the debunkers' claim is thus based almost entirely on studies of teacher-controlled direct instruction; they don't involve scenarios where learners have agency. But the problem with studying learning in teacher-controlled settings is that it may be unclear whether you're measuring something about the learning or something about the teaching. In other words, you have to be sure that "Treatment A" isn't just a better or more interesting lesson than "Treatment B."

How can you solve that problem? Simple. By excluding from the list of methodologically acceptable studies anything that involves the kind of creative activities that good teachers might come up with to address the needs of diverse learners.

From the standpoint of strict scientific method, this is, of course, correct; your experimental protocol should control every variable except the one you're testing. How can you achieve this? By further simplification, of course: by creating a lesson so lacking in complexity that it can’t possibly be interesting to anyone. Like memorizing a random list of words.

Here’s where you run … [more]
carolblack  learningstyles  evidence  2018  paulkirschner  jeroenvanmerriënboer  li-fangzhang  mariakozhevnikov  carolevans  elenagrigorenko  stephenkosslyn  robertsternberg  learning  education  data  danielwillingham  daviddidau  joanneyatvin  power  yongzhao  research  unschooling  deschooling  directinstruction  children  happiness  creativity  well-being  iq  intelligence  traditional  testing  intrinsicmotivation  mastery  behavior  howwelearn  self-directed  self-directedlearning  ignorance  franksmith  race  racism  oppression  intersectionality  coreknowledge  schooling  schooliness  homeschool  multiliteracies  differences  hierarchy  participation  participatory  democracy  leannebetasamosakesimpson  andrealandry  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  colonization  leisterman  ibramkendi  standardizedtesting  standardization  onesizefitsall  cornelpewewardy  cedarriener  yanaweinstein 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Carol Black on Twitter: "THREAD Brief tutorial in why innovations in institutional education always "fail.""
"THREAD

Brief tutorial in why innovations in institutional education always "fail."
2. First ask yourself: Why does the existing education system consistently fail a large percentage of kids?

(Aside from the obvious issues of poverty, inequity, racism, trauma.)

3. The existing system fails because one size does not fit all. One size will never fit all. There is nothing that you can do on this earth that will work for everybody.

4. The existing public system fails the kids who don’t fit the demands of the existing system. Kids who are too high-energy, too independent, too creative, too introverted, too extraverted, too rebellious.

5. So you work, and work, and make changes to the system. You open it up, you make it accommodate students who are more high-energy, more independent, more creative.

6. And it still fails for a large percentage of kids. Maybe a slightly smaller percentage. Maybe a slightly larger percentage. But it still fails for a lot of kids.

Why?

7. Because one size does not fit all. One size will never fit all. There is nothing that you can do on this earth that will work for everybody.

8. So you say, “We need to get back to basics! What kids need is high expectations! None of this “progressive” nonsense! What kids need is direct instruction and accountability!”

9. So you work, and work, and make changes to the system. You create lengthy lists of standards, you identify the knowledge and skills that kids need to master, you test them to make sure they’re mastering those skills.

10. And it still fails for a large percentage of kids. Maybe a slightly smaller percentage. Maybe a slightly larger percentage. But it still fails for a lot of kids.

Why?

11. Because one size does not fit all. One size will never fit all. There is nothing that you can do on this earth that will work for everybody.

12. So you say, both of these models are too extreme! What we need is a balanced education that has some freedom of choice but also a rich curriculum with high standards!

13. So you work, and you work, and make changes to the system. You come up with project-based models, you have “genius hour” on Fridays, but you also have a full standards-based system with testing and accountability.

14. And it still fails for a large percentage of kids. Maybe a slightly smaller percentage. Maybe a slightly larger percentage. But it still fails for a lot of kids.

Why?

15. Because one size does not fit all. One size will never fit all. There is nothing that you can do on this earth that will work for everybody.

16. So here’s an idea: maybe we need to stop trying to find the One Best Way of Educating All Children.

Maybe we need to recognize that children are different, they will always be different, and it’s a good thing that they’re different.

17. Maybe we need to recognize that the child who will grow up to be a jet pilot, and the child who will be a poet, and the child who will be a chef in a fast-paced restaurant, and the child who will be a forest ranger, and the child who will be a research scientist +

18. + and the child who will be a finish carpenter, and the child who will be a software engineer, and the child who will be a kindergarten teacher, and the child who will be a firefighter, are really different children, and they may need different approaches to education.

19. They need different amounts of social stimulation and quiet time. Different amounts of freedom to explore and structured instruction. Different amounts of feedback and independence. Different amounts of hands-on and text-based learning. Different tools. Different paths.

20. Maybe one child will blossom in a quiet, calm, formal education environment. One child will blossom in a noisy, open, makerspace environment. One child will blossom in an outdoor, nature-based environment. One child will blossom in a democratic free school.

21. One child will blossom by homeschooling or unschooling and apprenticeships in the wider community. One child will blossom with a combination of these.

22. And before you say it’s not possible to provide all those options, I’d like to point out that it might be more cost-effective to provide a stable array of options in every community than it is to overhaul and “reform” the whole system from decade to decade.

23. (Might not be as profitable for Pearson, though!) 🤔

24. But that’s just the cost in money. The cost in children’s lives when a child is stuck for twelve years in an educational environment they simply can’t thrive in –– when a child fails, day after day after day, year after year after year — it’s unfathomable.

25. Because one size does not fit all. One size will never fit all. There is nothing that you can do on this earth that will work for everybody.

Because people are different, people will always be different, and it’s a good thing that they’re different.

26. When can we start looking at education this way?"

[Also here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/975766319600615424.html ]
carolblack  education  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  onesizefitsall  unschooling  deschooling  diversity  options  learning  children  howwelearn  howweteach  schools  schooling  edreform 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Subjectivity, Rubrics, and Critical Pedagogy – OFFICE OF DIGITAL LEARNING
"In “Embracing Subjectivity,”مها بالي (Maha Bali) argues “that subjectivity is the human condition. Everything else that attempts to be objective or neutral is pretense. It is inauthentic. It is not even something I strive towards.”

And yet we try very hard to be objective in the way we evaluate student work. Objectivity is equated with fairness, and is a tool for efficiency.

For too long—really, since its inception—instructional design has been built upon silencing. Instructional design generally assumes that all students are duplicates of one another. Or, as Martha Burtis has said, traditional design assumes standardized features, creates standardized courses, with a goal of graduating standardized students.

Despite any stubborn claims to the contrary, instructional design assigns learners to a single seat, a single set of characteristics. One look at the LMS gradebook affirms this: students are rows in a spreadsheet. Even profile images of students are contained in all the same circles, lined up neatly along the side of a discussion forum: a raised hand, a unique identifier, signified. “This is your student,” the little picture tells the instructor. And now we know them—the LMS has personalized learning.

This design is for efficiency, a thing that online teachers—especially those who design their own courses—desperately need. Digital interfaces can feel alienating, disconcerting, and inherently chaotic already; but add to that the diversity of student bodies behind the screen (an adjunct at a community college may teach upwards of 200 students per term), and staying on top of lessons and homework and e-mail and discussions feels hopeless at worst, Sisyphean at best.

And yet this striving for efficiency enacts an erasure that is deeply problematic.

Rubrics

Sherri Spelic writes:
Inclusion is a construction project. Inclusion must be engineered. It is unlikely to “happen” on its own. Rather, those who hold the power of invitation must also consciously create the conditions for sincere engagement, where underrepresented voices receive necessary air time, where those contributing the necessary “diversity” are part of the planning process. Otherwise we recreate the very systems of habit we are seeking to avoid: the unintentional silencing of our “included” colleagues.

If we are to approach teaching from a critical pedagogical perspective, we must be conscious of the ways that “best practices” and other normal operations of education and classroom management censure and erase difference. We must also remain aware of the way in which traditional classroom management and instructional strategies have a nearly hegemonic hold on our imaginations. We see certain normalized teaching behaviors as the way learning happens, rather than as practices that were built to suit specific perspectives, institutional objectives, and responses to technology.

The rubric is one such practice that has become so automatic a part of teaching that, while its form is modified and critiqued, its existence rarely is. I have spoken with many teachers who use rubrics because:

• they make grading fair and balanced;
• they make grading easier;
• they give students clear information about what the instructor expects;
• they eliminate mystery, arbitrariness, and bias.

Teachers and students both advocate for rubrics. If they are not a loved part of teaching and learning, they are an expected part. But let’s look quickly at some of the reasons why:

Rubrics Make Grading Fair and Balanced

Rubrics may level the grading playing field, it’s true. All students are asked to walk through the same doorway to pass an assignment. However, that doorway—its height, width, shape, and the material from which it is made—was determined by the builder. مها بالي reminds us that, “Freire points out that every content choice we make needs to be questioned in terms of ‘who chooses the content…in favor of whom, against whom, in favor of what, against what.'” In other words, we need to inspect our own subjectivity—our own privilege to be arbitrary—when it comes to building rubrics. Can we create a rubric that transcends our subjective perspective on the material or work at hand? Can we create a rubric through which anyone—no matter their height, width, or shape—may pass?

Recently, collaborative rubrics are becoming a practice. Here, teachers and students sit down and design a rubric for an assignment together. This feels immediately more egalitarian. However, this practice is nonetheless founded on the assumption that 1. rubrics are necessary; 2. a rubric can be created which will encompass and account for the diversity of experience of all the students involved.

Rubrics Make Grading Easier

No objection here. Yes, rubrics make grading easier. And if easy grading is a top concern for our teaching practice, maybe rubrics are the best solution. Unless they’re not.

Rubrics (like grading and assessment) center authority on the teacher. Instead of the teacher filling the role of guide or counsel or collaborator, the rubric asks the teacher to be a judge. (Collaborative rubrics are no different, especially when students are asked by the teacher to collaborate with them on building one.) What if the problem to be solved is not whether grading should be easier, but whether grading should take the same form it always has? Self-assessment and reflection, framed by suggestions for what about their work to inspect, can offer students a far more productive kind of feedback than the quantifiable feedback of a rubric. And they also make grading easier.

Rubrics Give Clear Information about What the Instructor Expects

Again, no objection here. A well-written rubric will offer learners a framework within which to fit their work. However, even a warm, fuzzy, flexible rubric centers power and control on the instructor. Freire warned against the “banking model” of education; and in this case, the rubric becomes a pedagogical artifact that doesn’t just constrain and remove agency from the learner, it also demands that the instructor teach to its matrix. Build a rubric, build the expectations for learners in your classroom, and you also build your own practice.

The rubric doesn’t free anyone.

Rubrics Eliminate Mystery, Arbitrariness, and Bias

This is simply not true. No written work is without its nuance, complication, and mystery. Even the best technical manuals still leave us scratching our heads or calling the help desk. Rubrics raise questions; it is impossible to cover all the bases precisely because no two students are the same. That is the first and final failing of a rubric: no two students are the same, no two writing, thinking, or critical processes are the same; and yet the rubric requires that the product of these differences fall within a margin of homogeneity.

As regards arbitrariness and bias, if a human builds a rubric, it is arbitrary and biased.

Decolonizing Pedagogy

Critical Digital Pedagogy is a decolonizing effort. bell hooks quotes Samia Nehrez’s statement about decolonization at the opening of Black Looks: Race and Representation:

Decolonization … continues to be an act of confrontation with a hegemonic system of thought; it is hence a process of considerable historical and cultural liberation. As such, decolonization becomes the contestation of all dominant forms and structures, whether they be linguistic, discursive, or ideological. Moreover, decolonization comes to be understood as an act of exorcism for both the colonized and the colonizer.

For Critical Pedagogy, and Critical Digital Pedagogy, to work, we have to recognize the ways in which educational theory, especially that which establishes a hierarchy of power and knowledge, is oppressive for both teacher and student. To do this work, we have to be willing to inspect our assumptions about teaching and learning… which means leaving no stone unturned.

With regards to our immediate work, then, building assignments and such (but also building syllabi, curricula, assessments), we need to develop for ourselves a starting place. Perhaps in an unanticipated second-order move, Freire, who advocated for a problem-posing educational model, has posed a problem. A Critical Digital Pedagogy cannot profess best practices, cannot provide one-size-fits-all rubrics for its implementation, because it is itself a problem that’s been posed.

How do we confront the classrooms we learned in, our own expectations for education, learners’ acquiescence to (and seeming satisfaction with) instructor power, and re-model an education that enlists agency, decolonizes instructional practices, and also somehow meets the needs of the institution?"
seanmorris  rubrics  education  pedagogy  learning  mahabali  subjectivity  objectivity  2017  grades  grading  assessment  marthaburtis  sherrispelic  inclusion  inclusivity  diversity  criticalpedagogy  classroommanagment  fairness  paulofreire  coercion  collaboration  judgement  expectations  power  control  agency  howwelearn  homogeneity  samianehrez  race  represenation  decolonization  hierarchy  horizontality  onesizefitsall  acquiescence  instruction  syllabus  curriculum  syllabi 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Questioning the Conformity Curve | bavatuesdays
"The folks involved in Cal State University, Channel Islands’s domains project known as CI Keys, wrote a series of really thoughtful posts about the projects from a variety of vantage points. Michelle Pacansky-Brock wrote about the project as a catalyst for teaching on the open web. Jill Leafstedt wrote about the possibilities for faculty at CSU to create connected learning spaces for their courses. Jaimie Hoffman breaks down lessons learned after a year of building numerous classes out using CI Keys. And Michael Berman offers a broader rationale as to why an investment in CI Keys made sense. I love that each of them explained the impact of this pilot through their own lens, and it captures a nice cross-section of the possibilities and limits of such an initiative.

One of the things I think Berman totally nails is the willingness to question the adoption curve of a project like CI Keys. He notes the following:
I am coming to question the usefulness of the innovation diffusion curve in Ed Tech. First of all there’s an implicit value judgment that early adopters are better than late adopters – not to mention the infamous laggards. Not all technology adoption is useful, to say the least, and some is downright harmful. Second, why is success measured as universal adoption? If 20% of the faculty at my campus find CI Keys to be a useful and even transformational tool for encouraging student learning, does that necessarily mean that the other 80% are missing something by not using it? Perhaps, but I’m not so sure. It’s nice to think that we can provide a single tool for everyone to use but we can see where that’s gotten us. Instead, some will use institutional tools, some will use open source, some will use commercial tools, and faculty and students will use different tools (really, media) to accomplish different things. Is that hard from an ed tech support position? No doubt! But I think that’s the world we live in, not one where we always think in terms of scale-up and universal adoption – that ship has sailed.

I can’t possibly have said it better, and it really frames beautifully the predicament at many campuses. Someone throws out the stat that 85% of faculty are using the LMS and the conversation stops there. The various constituents who need resources beyond the LMS are poorly served, if at all. The adoption curve is actually a conformity curve used to justify supporting fewer and fewer tools on campus. So what should be seen as a pretty basic resource like web hosting/publishing are all but absent on many campuses. As Brian Lamb noted in the “Reclaiming Innovation” piece for EDUCAUSE Review:
…institutional leaders may refuse to support alternative systems….lest they draw attention and users away from the “serious” enterprise learning tool, diverting resources and endangering investments. If a technology is sufficiently large and complex, it can dictate policy, resource allocation, and organizational behavior far beyond its immediate application.

And the investment-based logic that can breed an aversion to alternatives often fails to comprehend that they’re not only significantly cheaper than any given system, but often complementary to that system. So, rather than endangering investments, it provides alternatives that make the system that much less monolithic. What’s more, it serves a portion of a campus community that has been forced to fend for themselves for almost a decade.
jimgroom  technology  toolbelttheory  2015  brianlamb  michaelberman  education  adomainofone'sown  cikeys  jaimiehoffman  michellepacansky-brock  jillleafstedt  universality  lms  complexity  diversity  onesizefitsall  edtech  via:audreywatters 
july 2015 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Thinking TEST and Toolbelt Theory again, the Tech Choice Paradigm for Every Child
[Related: http://www.iwasthinking.ca/2013/10/10/understanding-ira-socols-test-approach/ ]

"None of this is unimportant. These are the kinds of tool choices which will help define success for students in their lives in their century. It is especially critical for every student on every margin, the ones - like me - who need to make the right technological choices to be effective at, say, reading or writing. Or at communicating, or at maths. These aren't "assistive technologies" anymore than elevators, cars, and eyeglasses are - they are the tools we need to learn to choose, use, and leverage to be our best.

Let's go through this. It isn't enough, in this century, to say, "I will read (or watch) the news." We need to decide what kinds of news to read, watch, and interact with, when to do that so we maximize our learning and attention, on what device to do that, using what apps or software to prioritize it. If I use Flipboard do I know how t set that up? What are the limitations of New York Times apps? How do I interact with the Guardian? Is it worth having news alerts emailed to me? texted to me? About what? If reading isn't easy, or I'm in my car a lot, which apps best convert text to speech?

It isn't enough to say, "I'll write that down." On what? How? Where? Do I know how to set up Windows Speech Recognition? How to use Speech to Text in Android? in Dragon Lite in iOS? in Chrome? Do I know how to configure a keyboard on a tablet or mobile device? Can I adapt a keyboard if I have to use a computer in another country?

Obviously, we just don't "send letters," I need to know how to text my boss even if I'm driving. I need to know how to send a professional text, a professional email, a professional dm. I need to know how to read critical work emails and texts even if I'm driving or rushing through an airport. And, most critically, I will need to choose and set up devices throughout my life.

These are essential skills. And these are essential skills that certain children - the privileged - get at home from the start, but they are essential skills which most American schools have chosen to deny to kids whose parents cannot supply them with these options - thus widely increasing the devastating opportunity gap.

The critical point today is, you can't do any of this if you do not begin by changing how you acquire the technology in your school, and then change how you teach with that technology. You have to begin by buying technology based your students' needs to respond individually to the first three steps in TEST, so that they have the options, and eventually the knowledge, to function in a multi-device, multi-operating system world."



"Cochrane explicitly locates this within the postcolonial realm of the Disability Studies/Disability Rights movement - a large force in Europe - and little known in American, especially American K-12, education. The Disability Studies movement views disability as between somewhat and entirely a social construct... my preference is to use the term Transactional (see also this) - the opposite of the medical model... and tends to want to allow humans to make identity choices instead of being described by diagnosis - as even the most well-meaning American educators tend to do. (Americans like to use the same terminology for "disability" as for all pathologies, so they say, "a student with a reading disability" as they'd say, "a student with cancer." The other option is for the student to choose - or not choose - to use an identity label as we would with other forms of identity, "an African-American student," "a dyslexic student," "a gay student.")

This matters not just for students we label as having "disabilities," it matters for all not statistically average. Students cannot reach their potentials when we spend more effort limiting them and describing their problems than we spend enabling them and equipping them with the tools they need."
toolbelttheory  irasocol  education  teaching  learning  byod  technology  assistivetechnology  onesizefitsall  2013  test  choice  diversity  disability  disabilitystudies  colonialism  reading  writing  communication  specialeducation  postcolonialism  disabilities 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Would you like to try something different? « Re-educate Seattle
“Americans all think this way, they all think in disability…Native Americans have no term for disability, there is only a term for ability. It’s such an odd culture to be in where we spend so much time & resources talking about disability. It’s a negative focus. How about if we look at this differently: what if dyslexia is an advanced form of evolution?”"

"Harford: “I’m not saying we can’t solve complicated problems in a complicated world. We clearly can. But the way we solve them is with humility. To abandon the God complex & actually use a problem solving technique that works. We have a problem solving technique that works. . . . trial and error.”"

What’s the best way to educate kids? The search for the answer to this question only leads to more questions: Who are the kids? Where are they from? How old are they? What do they love to do? What is their home situation?…Human beings are complicated. There is no one mass answer to this question. There is only a mass of answers."
stevemiranda  education  learning  problemsolving  schools  schooldesign  dyslexia  unschooling  deschooling  whatwedon'tknow  humility  cv  godcomplex  fernetteeide  brockeide  dyslexicadvantage  2011  timharford  economics  onesizefitsall  tcsnmy  ability  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
three cups of fiction | Schooling the World
[broken link, new bookmark here: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:cca28f5634e5
article now at: http://carolblack.org/three-cups-of-fiction ]

"…anything that causes humiliation & anger in men is going to cause increased rates of violence against women…the way education is currently framed means it does good for some children at the cost of doing great harm to many others, & this is not good for families, for communities, or for societies.  The answer is not to hold girls back…it’s to challenge the ranking-&-failure paradigm as the only way to help children learn."

"The bottom line is that the modern school is no silver bullet, but an extremely problematic institution which has proven highly resistant to fundamental reform, and there is very little objective research on its impact on traditional societies. When we intervene to radically alter the way another culture raises and educates its children, we trigger a complex cascade of changes that will completely reshape that culture in a single generation.  To assume that those changes will all be good is to adopt a blind cultural superiority that we can ill afford."
threecupsoftea  gregmortenson  afghanistan  education  unschooling  deschooling  learning  nomads  ngo  development  culturalsuperiority  culture  reform  teaching  systems  systemsthinking  2011  inequality  power  charity  economics  designimperialism  humanitariandesign  humanitarianism  stonesintoschools  money  failure  rankings  sorting  testing  children  women  girls  society  competition  hierarchy  class  onesizefitsall  grading  poverty  gender  colonization  carolblack  colonialism  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
Gym class. | The Fat Nutritionist [via: http://plsj.tumblr.com/post/3528103413/gym-class]
"If you want to destroy all the inherent joy in something, slap a grade on it.… [Go read what follows — it's good.]"

"“It’s considered cruel to keep a dog tethered to one spot without a place to run, or cooped up in a tiny apartment unless the owner is really dedicated to going on walks. Even my cats, the most indolent creatures ever to occupy the earth, need strings and foam balls and random, crumpled up pieces of paper to bat inconveniently beneath furniture. They sleep, eat, and poop for twenty-three-and-a-half hours of the day…but for the remaining thirty minutes? They are tearing shit up like it is their mission in life. Animals need movement, and even have an appetite for it, just as they do food and sleep. Also, humans are animals. We need to move. All of us — even those of us who are not physically gifted. But, just as with eating, external pressures and expectations get in the way of our ability to negotiate this very primal urge.”"
grades  grading  motivation  comparison  school  schooling  onesizefitsall  weight  obesity  exercise  movement  human  animals  instinct  schooliness  unschooling  deschooling  from delicious
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  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Dean Shareski: Personalization vs. Standardization: It's Tough To Do Both
"current system & structure fights personalized learning w/ nearly every new policy & protocol it can generate…system craves standardization while we desperately need customization. These competing ideals butt heads constantly & for those teachers who do believe in personalizing learning, they live in perpetual frustration...In the end, w/out restructuring of time & current curriculum requirements best we can hope for is small pockets of success or the 0.02% of students whose passion happens to be trigonometry or Shakespeare…

While I'm busy advocating for changes that might support an education that fuels & fosters students' passions, I worry that we lose sight of what a liberal education is all about. They don't know what they don't know. Providing students w/ broad experiences that invites them to develop a variety of skills, understand & appreciate diverse perspectives & potentially uncover hidden talents & interests speaks to a fairly well accepted purpose of school..."
deanshareski  education  standardization  learning  schools  teaching  customization  liberalarts  policy  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  onesizefitsall  change  restructuring  personalization  tcsnmy  instruction  exams  standardizedtesting  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: On KIPP, and the question, does philosophy matter? [links to comment, quoted below, from 'htb']
"very idea of 'behind'-ness is what's under attack…When you standardize what it means to be an educated child, you create a line in sand that defines some kids as 'ahead' & some as 'behind.' As anyone w/ learning disability knows, these sorts of lines are increasingly arbitrary the more you examine them. They shut you out for all manner of reason. They create a situation where those who are 'ahead' get a free bonus happy career, & those who are 'behind' get either short stick or sanctimony. Or both.

If I had been in a class that demanded…eye contact at all times, I would have become discipline problem, because I am autistic. There is no room for me in a 'SLANT' classroom…teacher would then be allowed to humiliate me for non-compliance, or send me off to 'special ed.' Either way, it's amply demonstrated that I'm valueless to the class or school. …

Defining some people as 'behind' is what allows the school to abuse them in this way, & really that's what it is."
kipp  autism  standards  standardization  policy  us  education  learningdisabilities  learning  sorting  ranking  arbitrary  tcsnmy  schools  discipline  onesizefitsall  allsorts  arneduncan  rttt  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Uniform National Standards Are Not Equal - Room for Debate - NYTimes.com
"The top-down, test-driven, corporate-styled “accountability” movement -- featuring prescriptive state standards -- has already done incalculable damage to our children’s classrooms, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. Just ask a teacher. It’s no coincidence that the most enthusiastic proponents of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, etc., tend to be those who know the least about how kids learn. And now they’re telling us that a single group of people should shape the goals and curriculum of every public school in the country.

What they don’t understand is that uniformity isn’t the same thing as excellence; high standards don’t require common standards. And neither does uniformity promote equity. One-size-fits-all instructional demands actually offer the illusion of fairness, setting back the cause of genuine equity."

[It's not long. Read the rest.]
alfiekohn  education  learning  national  standards  us  rttt  nclb  policy  schools  politics  competitiveness  equity  testing  accountability  standardization  standardizedtesting  tcsnmy  uniformity  commoncore  onesizefitsall  fairness 
july 2010 by robertogreco
People are creative; industries, not so much. And cities? « Adam Greenfield’s Speedbird
"Actually, I find the recent emphasis on “creative” X, Y and Z more than a little troubling. Part of this is simply a lifelong aversion to flavor-of-the-month thinking and empty jargon, but it’s also that it all seems to be down to the influence of Richard Florida — and in my mind, Florida’s seeming advocacy of things I care about deeply winds up trivializing and ultimately undercutting them." ... "I’ve never heard anyone accuse Zürich, for example, of having a blistering DJ scene, cutting-edge galleries or forward-leaning popup shops. Yet they seem to be doing OK when it comes to the cheddar, you know? Better a world of places that are what they are, and stand or fall on their own terms, than the big nowhere of ten thousand certified-Creative towns and cities with me-too museums, starchitected event spaces and half-hearted film festivals."
adamgreenfield  cities  richardflorida  creativity  creativeclass  rhetoric  economics  urban  urbanism  local  localsolutions  localism  complexity  onesizefitsall  stocksolutions  metoosolutions  meaning  value  reliability  grassroots  place  longhere  organicsenseofplace  authenticity 
april 2010 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Crossing America: An Education
"Educational "reformers" and administrators rarely consider environment as a prime issue in learning, consigning the idea to "primitive thought," "pre-rational thought," and "pre-scientific thought." After all, Mike Bloomberg and Michelle Rhee will tell you, there's only one right way to add 2+2 or spell "tomorrow."
policy  standardization  nature  nuture  environment  geography  schools  onesizefitsall  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  learning  tcsnmy  independentschools  publicschools  education  us  irasocol 
december 2009 by robertogreco
December 18, 2009 – We Are The People We've Been Waiting For | The 3rd Teacher
"Edge is an independent education foundation, based in the UK, which is dedicated to raising the stature of practical and vocational learning to match the emphasis currently placed on traditional academic training. Edge recently produced a documentary titled ‘We Are The People We’ve Been Waiting For.’ The film explores the role of education in equipping our children with the tools they need to face the challenges of our rapidly changing world. The Third Teacher contributor, Ken Robinson, is featured in the film. Here is a short yet powerful trailer:" [more: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRi8_fXz1D8 AND http://www.wearethepeoplemovie.com/ AND http://www.youtube.com/user/WeAreThePeopleMovie ]
education  kenrobinson  thirdteacher  documentary  traditional  academics  vocational  learning  schools  schooling  diversity  film  lcproject  adaptability  change  reform  society  publicschools  industrial  gamechanging  onesizefitsall  tcsnmy  unschooling  deschooling  reggioemilia 
december 2009 by robertogreco
What is “progressive education”? « Re-educate
"There isn’t one right way, one mass answer. There are a million different ways & a mass of answers...I asked a friend, who teaches four-year-olds, how she defines “progressive” education. Progressive educators, she said, believe schools should be community-based. That means learning happens collaboratively, not competitively. When kids sit in individual desks all facing the teacher, the message is clear: it’s every man for himself. Progressive schools recognize the inherent wisdom of students. Kids have life experiences that have given them ideas & knowledge. That shouldn’t be ignored. Progressive schools use an emergent curriculum. They leave room for things that deviate from the script. To do this, of course, means letting go. It means giving up the command-&-control system we have now. It means trusting kids, which is just not something our society is comfortable doing."
education  lcproject  tcsnmy  progressive  learning  children  parenting  emergentcurriculum  control  trust  society  childhood  policy  reform  change  onesizefitsall  commandandcontrol 
november 2009 by robertogreco

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