An Ethics of Attention in the Classroom
I am deeply worried that we have lost the space to critique what seem like progressive ideas in education without being construed as a reactionary conservative. Yes, the neo-conservative authoritarians present a living danger to education, but so do the neoliberals who equate freedom with being an entrepreneur in the free market.
Read against the authoritarian backdrop, Bill Ferriter’s tweet and subsequent blog post about fidget spinners in class seems progressive:
If kids in your class are more engaged by a fidget spinner than they are by your lesson, the spinner isn't the problem. Your lesson is.
— Bill Ferriter (@plugusin) May 13, 2017
Actually, I find his picture to be an authoritarian stance in relation to teachers: it recognizes no grey areas, nuance, or tolerance for alternative views.
It immediately reminded me of Seth Godin, who Ferriter appears to be a fan of: “If your target audience isn’t listening, it’s not their fault, it’s yours.” That marketization of life, relationships, and education is what I had in mind when I tweeted that Ferriter’s logic exemplifies neoliberal spectacle and is deprofessionalizing and dehumanizing. Ferriter interpreted my criticism as being lazy practice: “Arguing that “some learning is inherently boring. Get over it.” is what drives me nuts. That’s lazy practice.” And as failing to take action: “As for “deprofessionalizing,” there’s nothing less professional than recognizing that kids aren’t engaged and failing to take action.”
What if students play with their fidgets instead of listening to a fellow student who is brave enough to speak about racism or sexism, their experience not conforming to their perceived gender, or why they hate the R-word. Sometimes, people just need to listen.
Nope, it's this kind of nonsense that equates education with entertainment and immediate gratification that's the problem. https://t.co/s7W3CqGWKt
— Benjamin Doxtdator (@doxtdatorb) May 14, 2017
A student kindly let me take and share this photo today.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||This is Darwin’s argument against the idea that morality is founded on self-interest, as was popular with utilitarians at the time. He thought that the human power of reflection would lead to regret when “the enduring and always present social instinct had yielded to some other instinct, at the time stronger, but neither enduring in its nature, nor leaving behind it a very vivid impression.”|