Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, January 16, 2016

"Technology In The Classroom" Is Marketing-Speak For A Corporatized Classroom

A reader left the following comment on another post on the blog about technology and education:

The "technology" piece was always the juicy center. Its the big nut of the privatization movement, make no mistake.....charters are a middle step for sure....the step beyond that is shedding the physical plants of schools. None if this should be new information. In fact the corporate interests have been quite legible about it. Look at every "disruptive" new business model out there in any sector....shrinking or killing off physical plants is right up there with shrinking or killing off traditional employment models. So that Cuomo and other political mouthpieces of corporate interest and "reform" making strides in this direction is not new, not a thing, and should shock no one. Classrooms managed by IT "professionals" (you know, to make sure the computers are working optimally), and legions of kids not actually in classrooms is the goal. Shrink the demands and needs of physical plants, and take $30-100k teachers out of the loop entirely....then you have room for risk-free, government paid PROFITS. Nothing new here.

As I commented awhile back on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Part of the problem with this manufactured necessity of technology in school is that we, as teachers, often buy into some of the fundamental lies. In our district, teachers clamor for a smartboard, etc etc etc etc under the pretense that it somehow DEEPENS the learning experience for students….a highly questionable notion when subjected to even modest amounts of rigorous thought. Nonetheless, being an earnest, eager, and enthusiastic lot for the most part, teachers, long accustomed to grabbing for any tool or aid, have also lunged for technology….without the requisite thinking. I would argue that a very firm “NO” from teachers on technology would have quite an impact. NO, I don’t want X, Y, or Z. No I will not teach via algorithm. NO, NO, NO. But, too often technology and its myths have become a norm because they were accepted nicely.

Perhaps what is needed is a counter-narrative coming from teachers that is a “return-to-authentic-roots” kind of thing. A return to the idea that with a teacher, some students, and a book, ignorance can be defeated and exposure to the enlightenment possible. A sort of artisanal classroom kind of thing, to appeal to all the Subaru driving parents who long for “authentic” food, clothes, homes, and experience everywhere else in their lives. Why is a Monsanto tomato bad and a Monsanto classroom for little Dylan good? “Technology in the classroom” is marketing-speak for a corporatized classroom, and we need to be the ones aggressively saying that. The problem is that we have to realize it first. We need to begin to understand that we need to create compelling counter-narratives. Certainly there is nobody else doing it for us! This is easy meat though for counter-narratives! Corporate food=bad. Corporate classroom where kids grow=good?? Come on. Too easy.

The entire thing of “technology in the classroom” is an invented need for an invented problem. The most astounding piece of evidence to this is the fact that, somehow, devoid of any technology save for pen, paper, book, art supplies, instruments, lab material, a library. etc, all of us born before 1990 had no technology to speak of and we (well alot of us, myself probably excluded) actually LEARNED. Shocking. We are evidence that technology in the classroom is a sham. However, that sham is only called out and destroyed if we attack its first principles and ideas.

I am not taking a Luddite position here, or a nostalgic one….but simply saying that learning is probably one of those landscapes of the human condition that does not require so much technological aid to participate in.

We, as always, need to look at ourselves as organized(ish) teachers FIRST. Lets assume that privatizers will act like privatizers, their politicians will act always in their corporate interests, and that federal prosecutors will always find less than enough evidence. Its on us on all levels. 

Nothing to add here except the link to that NY Times story that detailed how many Masters of the Tech Universe in Silicon Valley send their kids to low-tech Waldorf schools and limit their children's use of technology at home.


  1. When the smartboard breaks down or the bulb blows and there is no money to replace it, what does the techer do then?

    In far too many schools they installed the smartboard in the middle of the black or white board, making it difficult to use the space.

    Schools realize the problem and are using LED projectors instead. Freeing up board space.

  2. In 10 years or less, most public school students will be doing live and previously recorded lessons that can be viewed from any device, especially the cellphone, (is that way they are now allowed?) You can have 1 teacher at every grade level and course replace every teacher in the state. Teachers will be obsolete, as will many occupations we now have.

    1. I agree... the only thing I can see slowing this down is the fact that many people will still need child care. The working class, the service worker cooks...drivers,etc. where will they send their kids during the day? Or will they be forbidden to reproduce? When the fascist take over and deport all the undesirables and turn all the schools into condos........

  3. A little more to add on this....again from some of my comments on this topic on Diane Ravitch's site:

    the lack of a classical/liberal arts education is something that has severely weakened our resistance to the “colonization” of schools by the techno-capitalists, but also the reform movement in general.

    I would argue that the real challenges that face us as teachers from the reform movement and its branch of techno-capitalists are PHILOSOPHICAL challenges. And the problem with a philosophical problem is that 1) folks need to be able to identify it as such, and 2) it helps to have a grounding in philosophical argument….which is, you know, the core of a liberal arts education in the classical sense. Now, there are many teachers who have this perception and ability, and many that have the liberal arts education….these folks are generally not the folks who entered teaching as a first choice of career. (Personally, I have an undergrad and graduate education in history, and only later, while examining my deep un-employability did I think about teaching. I am a poor example however, as my education was lost on me and I am basically a rambling fool) The earnest, living-their-dream, eager teachers who went through ed-programs, these are the ones who are very susceptible to ed reform lingo and technology in the classroom whathaveyou. In general though, as a broad criticism, we as working teachers have not challenged the broad scope of the reform movement at its roots, philosophically, in a meaningful and effective way. We attack it piecemeal and we attack individual plans and policies, which is necessary for sure, but we struggle with taking its legs out from under it. This does have to do with the point you raised.

    Another related issue, and one that we don’t talk about enough, is the incessant and relentless focus on STEM. We forget that by placing a primacy on STEM we are also indoctrinating a generation of individuals who will have no inoculation against people, ideas, and programs that seeks to quiet voices culturally and politically via a culture of corporatist-technology. One can be addled by technology. Our national narrative deeply devalues the liberal arts, relegating it to scripted curriculums that only focus on extracting “data.” The STEM narrative is also another area that so many teachers accept uncritically. Not to be too over-the-top, but Germany in the 1930s had, I think, the highest level of technical graduate degrees of any country. They made really spot-on train systems. My point is that technological/scientific education MUST be balanced in a society by a robust liberal arts/humanities education in order for the technologies and sciences to be used appropriately as tools, without going off the proverbial reservation. The current push for technology in classrooms in no way addresses this.

    Now its easy to take these points as the points of a hermit-like Luddite, as I said before. I am not that. As a life-long, deeply-enthusiastic private pilot, I LOVE TECHNOLOGY!!! I love STEM stuff!! I am also deeply interested in how technology evolves and emerges, and how society relates to technology. Criticism of our current techno-capitalist culture in no way makes one “anti-technology.” I HIGHLY recommend that anyone interested in this dialog about technology in the classroom read William Langewiesche’s “The Devil at 35,000 Feet” about a mid-air collision high above Brazil. I know it doesn’t sound like it would relate to teachers and technology, but its actually an article on the paradox of technology and the challenges technology presents to people and societies that have not properly placed said technology in proper context and understanding. Langewiesche is also one of the best non-fiction writers out there, so its great reading regardless. Look up the article, It was in Vanity Fair.

    Sorry to babble on.

  4. That all technology -except for the 19th century technology of the pen and the notebook- is a corporate takeover. Glorious.

    That said I pinion is expressed across a medium that depends upon the ubiquity of the Internet and its many related technology devices in order to simply exist. Priceless for its pure irony.

    'Nuts would be another accurate description.

  5. NYCDOEnutbag,

    Real close reader you are.

    The above posts were a tad more sophisticated than you are suggesting. The point was that technology has presented a bit of a trojan horse for corporatization in ed and that, no matter how you cut it and think about it, proper education DOES NOT REQUIRE much technology. This is not nuts nor is it a Luddite position. It was simply a conversation about the paradox and uses of technology.

    That you think you landed on some great hypocracy that, shock of shocks, we are communicating on a technological platform, only reveals your middle-school approach to the world. Nobody in the above posts said, as you suggest, that "technology is bad." Nobody. The irony, insofar as you understand what irony means, does not exist.

    Had you been a more sophisticated reader, you'd have noted the part where they writer talked about technology being great.

    The above posts were about the uses and exploitation of technology by corporate interests.....not about technology itself, as your comments suggest you read it as.

    Slow down, go through each word carefully, left to right, top to bottom, and dont rush. This may help you. There may be words you don't understand....reread them and use a thesaurus.

    Alas, you seem to be proof of what the author was saying about needing people educated with proper books and reading skills.....your comments suggest that the author was quite correct.

    1. Lol. Sounds, very much, actually, like you're reading what you want and ignoring what you want and lashing out at the guy who's calling BS on you and your 19th century perspective.

      Here are two things I read which I'm sure you feel have nothing to do with what was written.

      "The entire thing of “technology in the classroom” is an invented need for an invented problem."

      I guess kids don't deserve to learn use the same tools as you when they communicate. Sorry to hear that. I think that's a sad irony.

      "The most astounding piece of evidence to this is the fact that, somehow, devoid of any technology save for pen, paper, book, art supplies, instruments, lab materials ... [alot (sic) of us] actually LEARNED."

      Yes. And my grandmother learned without color pictures in books. I guess we should jutst say f**** all on using color photographs in books too, right? Bc my grandmother is evidence that we don't need it, right?

      "We are evidence that technology in the classroom is a sham."
      First, after reading your stupidity, I disagree. But why don't you be a good sport and just ignore that who point, ok?? Just like it was never said. I'm sure no one else read that point either. So, too, should you ignore

      "“Technology in the classroom” is marketing-speak for a corporatized classroom, and we need to be the ones aggressively saying that. The problem is that we have to realize it first."

      So, I'll say this like a 4th grader so that you can easily follow. Technogy is a good. Not a corporatizer. Corporatizers are corporatizer. Not technology. Technology in the classroom, as what put here, is not your enemy. The people who manipulate it for Ed deform are, but technology is not. Tech=good. Ed-deformers=bad. Clear?
      So, Mr. Lud, why must you attack the tech?

      But oh, I forgot, you're not attacking! Just saying something nuanced and I should of ote all those words and things. Got it.

      Nutbag. Lol that's funny.

  6. Nutbag,

    I actually agree with what you are saying completely. Its what I was saying, but you actually said it better than I did. I am not anti-technology.

    Sorry for the ad-hominum seem articulate and intelligent.

    However, I will say this by way of keeping the sparing match going: there is no evidence, that is not provided by corporate entities, that suggests a tech-heavy classroom improves anything. For sure, access to raw information is highly efficient, but that is not education. My fear here is that one cannot separate the corporate piece, the corporate take-over piece, from the technology itself.

    Like you, I believe technology is a tool. And tools, as such, are not good or bad. I just think that in regards to education, the "technological classroom" as such is being used as a trojan horse for privatizing, corporate entities. On this I am sure we can agree on some level.

    Now, my articulation that learning does not require high levels of technology, I stand by. It doesn't. I should have been clearer that it is not IDEAL to have said 19th century classroom....but simply possible. I should have more clearly said that the NEED for a hyper-tech classroom has been manufactured FOR THE ADVANTAGE OF PRIVATIZERS. That doesnt meant that I don't want my laptop/projector hookup and the laptop cart and more. I DO! The efficiencies that are created are wonderful. I'd argue that technology has been hijacked and is now being force-fed at levels that are unnecessary.

    For clarity's sake, I'd point you to what I wrote before:

    "I LOVE TECHNOLOGY!!! I love STEM stuff!! I am also deeply interested in how technology evolves and emerges, and how society relates to technology. Criticism of our current techno-capitalist culture in no way makes one “anti-technology.” "

    Name-calling aside, I think our positions are closer than either of us grasped before.

    I like the nutbag term now and I am not deploying it in anger.


  7. Its been important for the professionals to understand the need of creating a good technological environment in the class-room so that they would indeed be able to produce good students.