Bookmarked Disengaged by Design: The Neoconservative War on Youth by Benjamin Doxtdator (Long View on Education)
My broad argument is that no, students are not disengaged because schools are stuck in the past, but because schools are caught in the present strong current of policies that constantly re-shape and re-design schools – and life more broadly – to civically and politically disengage youth. To wage a war on them.
This is the text of a talk that Benjamin Doxtdator gave at #BrewEdWake on Saturday Jan 20, 2018 on the educational policies designed to disengage youth. This ‘war’ is in response to what students might offer:

Peterson is an example of what I have in mind when I talk about the ‘war on youth’, a phrase which comes from Henry Giroux. In the neoconservative attack, youth are triply marginalised because it is claimed:

  • they don’t know anything
  • they are ‘fragile snowflakes’ and ‘play victim’

  • they are dangerous to free speech (read: dangerous to the identity politics of wealthy white men)

These attacks are always racist and sexist, directed against people who are poor and the most marginalised and vulnerable. 

Doxtdator also wonders where the hope is:

It’s difficult to see radical possibilities of hope for youth in either of the main reform movements: the neoconservatives see youth as dangerous, but the neoliberal ‘future proof’ movement also tells a story about the value of youth that too often “forecloses hope” (Henry Giroux).

This is the story that is not told when we talk about students being ‘entrepreneurs’ and creating the future.

Bookmarked Stop Looking at My Bad Leg: Introduction to my new book: Reach for Greatness (Education in the Age of Globalization)
Current understandings of human nature and human learning suggest that human beings are differently talented (Gardner, 1983, 2006) and have different desires and interests (Reiss, 2000, 2004). Thanks to the diversity in the environment in which they are born, humans also have different experiences that interact with their natural talents and interests to give each person a unique, jagged profile of abilities and desires, stronger in some areas and weaker in others (Ridley, 2003; Rose, 2016). In other words, everyone has a handsome leg and, at the same time, a deformed leg.
This is the introduction to Yong Zhao’s new book Reach for Greatness: Personalizable Education for All. It continues some of the ideas Rose discussed in his book, The End of Average. However, on first glance it seems to overlook other aspects to education, such as society.

One quote that caught my attention was the association between experiences and greatness:

experiences have costs and risks. Every experience requires time, and some require money and extra effort. Thus, adults want every activity their children experience to be positive, to lead to some desirable outcome. They don’t want their children to waste their time, energy, or money, or worse, to have experiences that may have a negative impact. Responsible adults naturally have a tendency to prescribe experiences for children. The result is that many children are allowed to have only experiences deemed to be beneficial and safe by adults.

I think that this is where the difference between individual and society stands out, in that you cannot have people achieving their own sense of greatness if the access to experiences is not equitable. This was not something discussed in a recent debate on the ABC around private vs. public education.

I am also intrigued by the link with Wagner’s work too, and am interested in its association with the wider discourse around personalization and how this differs from ‘personalised’ learning.

I recorded a short reflection for a collaborative podcast put together by Benjamin Doxtdator on the topic of taking pause in 2018. The following people also provided contributions:

  • Ximena on being more aware of the growing inequality produced through research and digital technologies.
  • Kay Sidebottom on the microfacism that stop us from pausing at all.
  • David Webster – Who is profiting from supposed simple solutions
  • Phil Wood on sustainable timescapes.
  • Deborah Netolicky on data, metrics and the impact of interventions.
  • Jelmer Evers on the stories we are being told globally.
  • Alan Levine on the power of walking, while walking.

You can listen below:

Rather than a write a ‘year in review’, reflecting and gathering what’s already happened, I starting thinking about what kind of ‘productive interruptions’ and pauses might come our way in 2018. I don’t intend this to be a list of predictions, as if we can wrangle education into  knowability though forecasts, but as some thoughts about who and what should give us pause in the coming year. When and why should we take pause?

Benjamin Doxtdator recently wrote a reflection of taking pause. He closed the post with a request for anyone willing to provide an audio contribution for a collective podcast. Although short and maybe a little rough, here are my thoughts. I actually think think that I misread it as taking pause over the break …

Further Reading:

Replied The Propaganda behind Personalised Learning by Benjamin Doxtdater (Long View on Education)
So what do we do? Educate ourselves. Follow critical educators on Twitter, read books that expose corporate interests, and support the work of people like Audrey Watters who act as independent journalists.
Another thought provoking read Benjamin. I really like your call for people to educate. I am also intrigued by your four filters:

  • Funding
  • Expertise
  • Ideology
  • Flak

I think that they provide a useful framework to get started. I just wonder about the entry point for many teachers who are already a part of the ‘learning machine’? I agree about supporting those like Watters and mobilising. I wonder if this is a part of what Howard Stevenson and Alison Gilliland describe as a ‘democratic professionalism’.

My question and concern is whether a structural systemic knowledge is enough? I really like Ben Williamson’s approach focusing on the assemblage:

In this broad sense, a data assemblage includes: (1) particular modes of thinking, theories and ideologies; (2) forms of knowledge such as manuals and textbooks; (3) financial aspects such as business models, investment and philanthropy; (4) the political economy of government policy; (5) the materiality of computers, networks, databases and analytics software packages; (6) specific skilled practices, techniques and behaviours of data scientists; (7) organizations and institutions that collect, broker or use data; (8) particular sites, locations and spaces; and (9) marketplaces for data, its derivative products, its analysts and its software.source

An example of this is his work around ClassDojo. What I think is useful about this approach is that it incorporates skills into the wider critical discussion. For me, that is a part of my interest in Google’s GSuite. That is also, in part, what drives me to do my ‘eLearn Update’ newsletter. I just wonder if there is a limit to dialogue from the outside?

Apologies if this is a complete misreading Benjamin.