From The Silicon Valley Promotion of Self to the Decolonization of Education
I should be writing report cards right now, but wanted to share some of the powerful texts that I have been connected with in this past week. Happy reading!
“It’s significant, I think, that early teaching machines were developed by psychologists and justified by psychology – very much a science of the twentieth century. After all, psychology – as a practice, as a system – helped to define and theorize the individual, “the self.” Self-management. Self-reflection. Self-help. Self-control.
Individualization through teaching machines is therefore a therapeutic and an ideological intervention, one that’s supposed to act as a salve in a system of mass education. And this has been the project of education technology throughout the twentieth century.”
Why didn’t the Gauls overthrow the Romans? Why was Nat Turner’s revolt defeated so quickly? Why was the Haitian Revolution the only victorious slave rebellion in the Western hemisphere? And how can the answers to these questions help you, an aspiring entrepreneur, build an amazing business?
Ben Horowitz, co-founder of the powerful venture capital firm AndreessenHorowitz, has an answer to these questions: “culture.”
Leary charts how Horowitz and other ‘entrepreneurial historians’ like David Christian, the proponent of “Big History” and supported by the Gates foundation, read history as “another corporate playground, full of guys just like them.”
But their universal fascination with charismatic leadership shows that behind the tech economy’s democratic façade beats a deeply authoritarian heart.
At one point in the video, Taskeen Adam mentions that there are more articles written about Ghana from outside the country, than by the people of Ghana writing about themselves. The discussion takes off from the decolonization of education to talk about online spaces.
Neocolonialism online refers to “using technology and the Internet by hegemonic powers or by Western or European powers as a means of indirect control of marginalized groups.” In the pedagogical context, Taskeen Adam talks about overcoming the individualism that runs through many online platforms and instead elevating communal ideals. On the technological front, we must challenge assumptions about resources and access to online education (see the map below about worldwide Internet access).
A truly beautiful essay and quoting an excerpt does not do it justice.
This week I’m part of a rolling conversation on digital citizenship as a metaphor for thinking about how we manage our aspirations, responsibilities and resources in creating an online environment that works. …
I’m one of those who feels that citizenship can’t work as a benign metaphor now, and perhaps it never could. I hold two passports and I can only see citizenship as a bureaucratic exercise in which I don’t know if I can vote in one place, but voting is compulsory in the other. I have bank accounts and pay tax in both; I have healthcare rights in both, just about. The apparatuses of both states treat me well, and recognise my children as connected to me. But none of this suggests to me that citizenship is anything other than the grounds of our refusal to care for others as we’d like to be cared for if misfortune tore us from our homes and threw us onto the mercies of others.
I was wondering how the PolVan model and how it translates into digital spaces… like what does “look alike” and “think alike” mean in those spaces? Does “look alike” refer to our profile pictures, or does it refer to something else … OR does looking “alike” refer to digital behaviors? Does it refer to using hashtags “just so” and using the right jargon and acronyms? Do all academics really “look alike” in the way they communicate, in general, or online? Does the process of a PhD enculturate us into a dominant mode of communicating? And if you don’t develop this, you lose?
As part of the conversation about going ‘gradeless’, Donovan talks about the deeper transformation of our teaching practice that must take place:
“I don’t teach with packets or worksheets anymore. I have reframed my whole approach to teaching ELA. There is no meeting of mandates or teaching about. Instead, we bear witness to lives lived in all that we read and write. It is a literacy which defies measurement. I teach students how to bear witness by engaging in a story exchange where we share narratives from our lives (see Naydelin’s story “Family Meeting” below). I teach students to look for gaps in narratives through multigenre research projects (see Rachel’s project “Weaving”). I teach students to share their emerging understanding of becoming in the world beyond the classroom (see description from a local youth summit).”
Header image by frank mckenna