Fast Food Education
- Design Justice - Book
- Our Way Out - Close Collaboration Between Liberal and Vocational Education - Essay
- Udacitys Sebastian Thrun Godfather Of Free Online Education Changes - Essay
- The case study factory - Essay
- Resisting Distance Learning - Essay
- Learning to earn vs learning to learn - Essay
- In Online Ed Content Is No Longer King - Cohorts Are - Essay
- The Global Classroom - An Opportunity for Empowerment or Exploitation - Publication
- The Dirty Little Secrets About The Worst Coding Bootcamps Out There - Essay
- The McDonaldization of Education - the rise of slow - Essay
Brown and Kurzweil evaluated five types of programs: ==certificate programs==, which offer labor market-focused training; ==work-based training==, like apprenticeships; ==skills-based short courses==, like coding bootcamps; ==Massive Open Online Courses and online micro-credentials==; and ==competency-based education programs==, which offer credentials based on skill acquisition rather than traditional course completion.
education is ==not a product but a process==, one that happens (or not) inside of those being educated.
Also worth noting: that of those surveyed by Course Report, 60% already had bachelor’s degrees. Arguably, this makes the ==bootcamp certification more of an addition to the college degree than a substitute for one.==
Coding bootcamps are the new MOOCs which were the new correspondence school which was the old video on-demand schools.
Boot camps are a ==tax paid== by winners of social inequality for ==marginally better odds== in hyperlocal short term occupational bubbles
Boot camps are a tax paid by suitably credentialed workers who do ==not have enough capital== (economic, social, or cultural) to ==enter a high status field of work== in which some job is undergoing an actual or projected short-term demand bubble.
Lower Ed did not refer to a set of schools but to a ==sociological process of credentialism.== Bootcamps are part of the Lower Ed ecosystem
Fast food was created in order to satisfy people cheaply and efficiently throughout the world. It is ==tasty, cheap==, and everybody loves the taste, even if it is ==unhealthy==. This concept of fast food has spread to schools throughout the country. Dr. P Mark Taylor and Darris J. Brock discuss this theory in their book Fast Food Education. They define education as “what is left over when you forget everything that your teacher made you memorize when you were in school.” (41) This book discusses the flaws in today’s education system and how it can be altered to benefit more students. I agree with this book’s beliefs on education and the authors present the information with an interesting and gripping metaphor.
The authors believe that ==education is poorly scaled.== Students are put into grades based on age and not on readiness to proceed to the next grade level. The authors thought to “imagine that a major auto manufacturer had decided that they would move an auto to the next stage of the assembly line as long as the work was at least 65% complete.” (25) Just like with cars, students will not succeed without fully completing a stage in the “assembly line”. When students partially understand the material, they pass the test, and then forget everything they just learned. Taylor and Brock believe that ==a student should completely understand the material before they are allowed to proceed to the following grade.== Teachers complain that students constantly stay they did not learn that from last year, when they did. They just forget it once the test is over. ==If education was scaled based on readiness, then students would absorb and comprehend all the information before moving onto the next grade. ==
Because the schools are not putting in the effort to teach children like they should be, children are not putting in the effort as well. ==Fast food is made quickly and the same for everybody. That is what is happening with education. No matter what learning technique a student needs, everybody learns the same way.== This way of teaching leads students to solely do work to earn a good grade. No one wants to absorb new information just to gain more knowledge anymore. Students are given the material to memorize then they take a test. Once they pass the test, the curriculum exits the brain. Now, some teachers cram the lessons into their students’ brains so the kids will pass and they will not get fired or in trouble for being a poor teacher because all his/her kid’s passed. In order to curve teacher’s from viewing education like this, Taylor and Brock believe in ==natural education which is when “we learn by experiencing, failing, working hard to make adjustments, experiencing success, and honing our skills.”== (46) This is a better method of teaching than having students memorize random facts they cannot connect to the world with. ==Education today needs to allow the students to problem solve in situations they will actually come across, not when train A leaves the station from Oregon and train B leaves the station from Boston, etc.== These authors believe that natural education will greatly benefit the future generations.
Similarly to the flaws that Taylor and Brock see in education, the documentary Waiting for Superman discusses these issues. Families are taking their children out of public schools so they can have a better education. In public schools, the kids were being taught through memorization and based off the teacher’s desire to not fail, when it should be based off the teacher’s desire to inspire children. The families in the documentary feel that their children are not getting the education that they need and deserve. If Taylor and Brock’s idea of natural education was implemented in schools then maybe these families would not feel the need to pull their students out of public school.
I believe that no one should have to pull their children out of public school because they do not think that their child is getting a good education. This book does a good job expressing the beliefs of the authors without being a boring book lecturing on about the problems with education. Taylor and Brock make the book relatable and thought-provoking through their real-life metaphors. Normally, I am not a fan of fiction books unless it is on a topic I am truly passionate about, but this book is the exception.
The ==digital revolution== and ==affordable internet access== arrived in the 1990s and made almost any B2C industry (always fragmented) fast.
As life speeds up, ==not everyone can afford to learn that long==, so we have a trend toward faster education.
==Global digitalization== pushed many educational programs online, and these courses tend to become shorter.
Fast education means ==shorter lessons==. Bite-sized learning is one of the key educational trends of the 21st century that brings comfort. You study at your own pace whenever and wherever you want. Educational courses can be divided into smaller parts so that you don’t need more than 15 minutes a day to study.
You can study ==for free==, which is often time-consuming, using, for example, university courses on popular educational platforms. Alternatively, you may need to spend some time on YouTube before finding the quality trainer or course that suits you best. Or you can opt for specialized course providers that will improve your skills for a relatively small fee.
Fast education will mean ==fast changes== and ==quick adaptation== of the latest trends.
As for what is prompting the shift in approach among learners, John Fallon, CEO of Pearson, says that “the ==new talent economy== has arrived with its gig jobs, unconventional career paths and tech disruption.”
Deloitte defines the talent economy, a relatively new term, as a ==“collaborative, transparent, technology-enabled, rapid-cycle way of doing business … where employers and employees now seek each other out on a playing field that is broader and more level than ever before.”==
The quickly changing needs of today’s developed economies means that students and professionals must adjust to new trends regularly and this is prompting growing interest in ==lifelong learning – and learning that is often undertaken piece by piece.== These pieces may be degrees or smaller, more specialised credentials that may be more affordable and may also come from different institutions and from online platforms. The result is that students are considering a much wider range of programmes, institutions, and delivery models than they ever have, and this is the opportunity Pearson is identifying.
Could perhaps also apply to emerging economies like the PH?
The Pearson study found that an understanding of the need for lifelong learning is much more established in China and India than in the US and UK, ==“driven in large part by the influence of technology and automation on their jobs.”== These are countries where keeping up with – or better yet staying a step ahead of – technological trends is crucial to getting and keeping steady employment.
As for which way they could imagine ==upskilling==, the largest proportions said they would do it through “a short training programme such as a boot-camp, certificate programme, or something offered by a professional association.”
Now a ==third wave in education and training== has arrived, argue economists, educators, and workforce-development officials. The level of preparation that worked in the first two waves—adding more time to education early in life—does not seem sufficient in the 21st-century economy. Instead the third wave is likely to be ==marked by continual training throughout a person’s lifetime—to keep current in a career, to learn how to complement rising levels of automation, and to gain skills for new work.== Workers will likely consume this lifelong learning in short spurts when they need it, rather than in lengthy blocks of time as they do now when it often takes months or years to complete certificates and degrees.
One big worry, however, is that the arrival of lifelong education will only ==exacerbate the economic divide== that already exists in the United States. Education levels in the U.S. are closely tied to income. Simply put: Rich kids are far more likely to graduate from college than are their poor and working-class peers. There’s no reason not to believe that trend won’t continue in this third wave of lifelong learning. It is likely to help workers who already have high levels of education get the training they need rather than assist underemployed or unemployed workers who need to upskill to keep a job or get a new one.
Two simultaneous forces in the job market are driving this push toward lifelong learning. The first is ==automation== and the ==widening divide between the lifetime earnings of high-school and college graduates.==
The second is the ==emergence of the gig economy==, which is reshaping the traditional employer-employee relationship as more contractors and freelancers fill roles once reserved for full-time workers making good salaries. While the term “the gig economy” conjures up images of popular apps for temporary work, such as Uber and Task Rabbit, the army of professional white-collar freelancers is larger than that encompassing the services we can request on our smartphones. In a 2016 study, two economists, Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger, found that all net employment growth in the United States since 2005 appears to have come from what they termed “alternative work”—that is, contract and freelance work, which has ballooned by more than 50 percent over the last decade.
Rather than focus on routine skills that can be replaced by technology, job training needs to target ==key skills that complement technology, such as problem solving, teamwork, and communication.==
If training and education become a lifelong pursuit, the big question is ==how to pay for it.==
“While we don’t know what skills will be required for the human-centric jobs of the future such as health care, management consultants, and financial planners,” said Alssid, who has spent more than two decades in the workforce-development field, “we do know that these jobs will require a ==highly adaptable workforce that can think critically, creatively, and work collaboratively to find solutions to rapidly developing, complex problems.==”
Such skills, often referred to as “soft skills,” are typically seen in liberal-arts graduates, but those individuals often lack the technical skills employers want. Alssid said ==a hybrid of liberal-arts and technical education is what is most needed in training programs to allow workers to better navigate the ambiguity of the future job market.== That’s the goal of his school’s partnership with Infosys—to introduce liberal-arts students to technical fields that they might not have previously considered, while other programs will introduce the flexibility of the liberal arts to technical workers.
A further extension involves the credentialing process. Status, capability and competence are assumed to be related to the number of initials one lists behind one’s name or the number of pieces of paper we have hanging on our office walls.
# Pitch (200 words?)
Fast food education can be empowering or exploitative
Fast food education upholds the status quo. Factory like, producing workers and not thinkers Global South
Apprenticeships, bootcamps, MOOCs, and more: all of these alternative education options are part of the trend I call “Fast Food Education”. Now that it’s rising in the Global South, I want to explore its potential to both empower and exploit students.
Hungry for knowledge? Food for thought
See Kinopio mindmap
# Draft 1
- What is Fast Food Education?
- What led to its rise?
- Pros & Cons
- Cons (focus?)
- CTA: Critical thinking is not incompatible with practical skill development
# Draft 2
- Think of good hook here! Maybe something related to lifelong learning?
- Thesis: Is fast food education an opportunity for empowerment or exploitation? Undoubtedly both.
- Similar to The Global Classroom - An Opportunity for Empowerment or Exploitation - Literature Notes and Design Justice - Literature Notes: Chapter 5 Ending
- What is Fast Food Education?
- Underlying System
- Vocationalism/learning-to-earn philosophy
- Lower Ed ecosystem: sociological process of credentialism
- Types (will just be focusing on these since they’re the ones most prominent in edtech industry)
- MOOCs and online micro-credentials
- Skills-based short courses
- What led to its rise?
- Ancient institutions
- Talent economy
- Spurred by global pandemic
- Fast Food Education as empowerment (pros)
- More accessible
- Good for Disadvantaged people
- Economy Increase supply of highly skilled workers
- More accessible
- Fast Food Education as exploitation (cons)
- Questionable quality
- May worsen equity problems
- Digital divide
- Socioeconomic barriers
- Majority already have bachelor’s degrees
- Devaluation of local knowledge + cultural homogenization
- Cons summary: Vocationalism merely props up status quo?
- Critical thinking and skill development are not mutually exclusive
- The former is hard to teach through videos, which is what bootcamps (w/ people) are for. Sayang potential
- The object of true education is to make people
- Critical thinking and skill development are not mutually exclusive
We are what we consume, whether it’s good for us or not. Here’s some food for thought: what have you been mostly spending on during the pandemic? Have you been living on a fast food diet? How about going broke from doom-shopping? Or maybe you’re trying to reinvent yourself by taking numerous courses or participating in a bootcamp? Industries are being redefined by speed and scale: fast food, fast fashion, and now fast food education. Powered by technology, it’s capable of disrupting the ancient higher education sector. It’s great that more people than ever can pursue learning, right? But what is being marketed as empowerment can also be masqueraded exploitation. Let’s explore this rising trend, from its origins to its implications.
# What is fast food education?
Fast food education is education influenced by what sociologist George Ritzer calls “McDonaldization”: a rationalization process where principles of the fast food industry are dominating other sectors of society and the world. There are four characteristics of this worldview: efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control.
First, efficiency is about choosing the fastest and least costly (in expenditure and effort) way to achieve a goal. This is specific to the interests of the industry/business, but usually advertised as a benefit to the consumer. However, they end up doing work that was previously done for them. This is the “privilege” they pay for; not only through paying higher prices, but also through spending time remembering numbers and learning new technologies.
Next, calculability is about making objectives based on what can be calculated, counted, quantified. Under McDonaldization, quanity equals quality; a large amount of product delivered to consumers is the same as a high quality product. Because of this, workers are judged by the speed at which they accomplish tasks instead of the quality of work they do.
Then, predictability is about reducing the possibility of surprise and differentness in an environment as much as possible. Consumers expect to receive the same product and service no matter where they go. Meanwhile, workers are always doing repetitive and highly routine tasks. People don’t vary from the norm because they expect to profit, whether it be through a good meal or an okay salary.
Finally, control is about replacing people — the biggest source of uncertanity and unpredictability in a rationalizing system — with nonhuman technology. Standardization is at play. Everything is pre-packaged, pre-measured, and automatically controlled. Thus, consumers and workers no longer have to think; all they have to do is follow instructions and push buttons — just like a machine.
McDonaldization has expressed itself in the education sector through Vocational education. It’s known for a short timeframe, accessible costs, and a practical curriculum — promising a career that liberal education couldn’t guarantee. For this essay, I’ll be focusing on example programs that are prominent in the edtech industry: compressed courses like MooCs and micro-credentials, and skills-based intensives such as bootcamps and cohort-based courses.
(Maybe I should make a graph of fast food education with example startups?)
# Rise in popularity
These programs are part of what Selingo calls the third education revolution: continual training throughout a person’s lifetime. This has been brought about by the following forces: technological developments, the wage gap between college graduates and those with “lesser education”, and the talent economy.
First, technology has always served as the backbone of innovation. For instance, fragmented B2C industries became fast thanks to the internet – it made buying anything a few clicks away. Now, the same is happening to education; lessons are no longer taught in classrooms, but in videos and Zooms. This shift to remote learning has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since education is more accessible, there’s no excuse not to be learning.
Another technological driver of the third education revolution is automation. The wage gap between college graduates and those with “lesser education” continues to widen because of the fear that their jobs could end up automated. This worry isn’t baseless; according to a McKinsey report, this could happen to at least one-third of activities in about 60 percent of occupations by 2030. So to avoid losing their jobs, people have no choice but to upskill.
Finally, there’s the emergence of the talent economy, which Deloitte defines as a “collaborative, transparent, technology-enabled, rapid-cycle way of doing business … where employers and employees now seek each other out on a playing field that is broader and more level than ever before". This no longer includes just app-enabled gig workers, but also professional white-collar freelancers. Since today’s economies have quickly changing needs, people need to adjust to new trends – leading them to constant retraining.
The third education revolution is more pronounced in the Global South, especially Southeast Asia. According to a Parthenon-EY paper, economic growth, demographic trends, and cultural shifts have prompted regional demand for higher education. However, socio-economic barriers such as a global recession, outdated infrastructure, and political instability have made higher education an inaccessible/undesirable option. Automation also has a huge influence; in fact, many Southeast Asians participate in ghost work: the invisible human labor that powers the products and services of Silicon Valley. Thus, keeping up with technogical trends is integral to getting and staying employed.
Overall, technological and economic developments have pushed people to pursue lifelong learning, but traditional institutions are unable to respond to the high demand due to expensive costs, long timeframes, and slow adaptation. In a global Pearson study, less than six in ten respondents felt that their country’s education system worked well for the current generation; more than four in ten respondents (in affulent countries like Australia, Canada, and the US) believed that higher education did not prepare them for their career. Now is a perfect time for disruption, which is why fast food education is currently thriving.
# Empowerment or exploitation?
There’s no denying the benefits of fast food education. Compared to liberal education, it’s more affordable in terms of time and cost spent. Its remote nature also opens it to people all over the world. The increased accessibility helps educate, train, and empower populations previously denied access to similar opportunities, like the Global South. This also reduces the magnitude of “brain drain” by allowing students to gain expertise locally, instead of having to migrate. As a result, the number of countries’ highly skilled workers can be increased.
But no matter how much education is rationalized, there are bound to be irrational outcomes. Ritzer says: “…Rational systems are unreasonable systems…they deny the basic humanity, the human reason, of the people who work within or are served by them.” Aside from dehumanization, other irrationalities can occur (e.g. overquantification resulting to low quality). Here are the cons of fast food education:
# Questionable quality
In exchange for accessibility, fast food education is known for lower quality, from what is taught to how it is taught. Since it has a short timeframe, it can only focus on teaching practical skills and methods. For example: programs that teach code favor convention over configuration (frameworks over fundamentals), while those that teach UX design skip foundational disciplines like anthropology and art history. These programs’ curriculums aren’t only lacking; they also have the danger of being unreliable. See Lambda School, who was criticized by their students for constantly changing lesson plans and relying on free training materials.
Delivery of content is also important. One example is technical production; third-party providers have put their reputations at risk for insufficient screening, leading to the release of courses with shaky filming and conventional slides. Pacing must also be considered, of which MOOCs and bootcamps seem to be on opposite sides of the spectrum. The former is completely dependent on learners; most end up dropping out, leading to completion rates lower than 10%. Meanwhile, the latter is known for being rapidly fast, so learners have to ensure that they can catch up.
Even if one gets to finish a program, is the certificate they earned enough to prove what they learned? This would be difficult without accreditation; while this lack of oversight has enabled programs to constantly update their curriculums, it has also lessened their credibility – which job-seeking students would benefit from. If graduates already struggle with interviews, how else can they ensure that they would be hired? Students of fast food education will be at a disadvantage in the current market, which is more competitive than ever thanks to globalization and the internet.
Our global market mandates the idea of universal knowledge, skills, and values. The fact that coding bootcamps are an international phenonemon is proof of this; no matter what country they’re in, they’ll always be providing technical skills and interview prep. Through this standardization, fast food education brings about cultural hybridization: the process of blending of two or more cultures in order to fit cultural norms. Allowing for variety speeds up historical, economic, and cultural development. However, cultural hybridization is becoming no different from cultural hegemony, where dominance is maintained through ideological/cultural means. In the case of fast food education, the Global North (especially countries in the West), is set as the universal standard for others to follow. As a result, students are subject to the homogenization of their work.
(lol insert collage of coding bootcamp landing pages to show how similar they are….get some originality please LMAO)
An example of cultural hemegonization is “What can we learn from the new generation of designers?”, where Lucas Coehlo talks about how he associated “good design” with his Euro-centric aesthetic of minimalist design, and was only able to question it because of a PoC junior. Who can blame him? Abundant white space may be a standard for quality design, but it can’t be afforded by low-end magazines and East Asian media. Many design theories also happen to come from white males born decades ago. Due to standardization and fast pacing, fast food education programs limits their students’ perspectives.
Their expression is also limited; student projects are often made with structured templates. For instance, “The case study factory” discusses how formulaic case studies make it difficult to diffrentiate UX/UI designers from one another. These studies may demonstrate the students’ ability to follow the design process, but not their unique thinking, skills, and point of view. Having English as the main language adds to this. Minorities who aren’t able to communicate well in it are sure to struggle, even if they are proficient in the craft. Overall, even if imposing the logic of factory production on education kills creativity, those who fail comply to set standards will be seen as of “lesser quality”.
# Equity problems
Fast food education may be more accessible to more people, but is it equitable? According to education researchers Mimi Ito and Justin Reich, digital learning technologies actually exacerbate inequality in learning outcomes in terms of class, race, and gender. They also unintentionally reproduce inequality, thanks to bias and social distance between creators and users. (See Digital learning exacerbates and reproduces inequality)
Sociologist Paul Attwell argues that inequalities operate at two levels: the first and second digital divides. The former divide is about access: who is able to get devices, software, connectivity, and other forms of technology. To those without reliable internet (from Seattle to Southeast Asia), remote learning is a far-off opportunity. The latter divide is about leverage; when poor and affulent students are given the same technologies, the former tend to use it for basic skills, while the latter were using it for higher forms of learning. Those who enroll in MOOCs and bootcamps tend to be well-off college graduates who already have jobs.
Money is also a barrier. Despite being marketed as the “more affordable” option, bootcamps can cost in the range of $5,000 to $20,000 — nothing to cough at. Even the way cheaper MOOCs are used to advertise higher priced professional programs. Income sharing agreements are marketed as an accessible option to those who aren’t able to pay full price, but people need to be warned that ISAs are just another form of student debt; Senator Elizabeth Warren says that these carry many of the pitfalls of private student loans “with the added danger of deceptive rhetoric and marketing that obscure their true nature”. Just because students get to study for free doesn’t mean it didn’t cost them. A report on Lambda School students showed that some quit their jobs to attend full-time, while others worked nights and weekends in order to make ends meet. Many also admitted to struggling with mental health problems. When students have to deal with looming debt and dubious placement outcomes, who can blame them for being disstressed?
These programs were created for a honorable purpose: to bring learning to those who couldn’t access it. However, after years have passed, very little has changed. Those who gain the most from these programs are those who are predisposed to succeed. Meanwhile, those who need educational resources the most gain the least. Why is it this way? Where did we go wrong?
# System over student
Remember: fast food education is designed to benefit the system, not the student. This system is Lower Ed: a term coined by writer Tressie McMillian Cottom to refer to a sociological process of credentialism; its ecosystem includes programs such as microcredentials and bootcamps. According to her, Lower Ed was created by structural changes in the way we work, unequal access to liberal education programs, and the risk shift of job training from institutions to individuals for profit. Thus, it’s exploitative in nature; it makes use of students’ faith in education without challenging its market imperatives, and maintains race, class, and gender inequalities.
Students also lose out because of the curricula. Its focus on hard skills and technical competencies is effective for producing workers, not well-rounded people. After all, according to Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun, “… the true value proposition of education is employment.” Yes, these programs may be great at creating jobs and boosting the economy. But their students are unable to think for themselves, leaving them condemned to forever serve their industrial and corporate bosses.
Yet, the students think of themselves as saviors. Living in a world where technical skills are sought after has led them to believe that they know what’s best for others, especially marginalized communities. But the savior mindset is patronizing; it assumes that people are helpless just because they lack technical skills. Making solutions for, and not with people in need only ends up hurting them, perpetuating existing inequalities. ==opportunity for some nice tech x religion imagery here… startup bible…lol==
Overall, fast food education upholds the status quo. Companies keep growing their talent and profits. Technology continues being evangelized like religion. And people keep getting dehumanized. Researcher Matthew Kiem states that those who are technical are divided according to their dispensability; worse are those who aren’t technical at all, seen as deficient. It’s sad to see that despite being capable of building the future, students are only maintaining this kind of present.
“… The object of all true education is not to make [people] carpenters, but to make carpenters [people],” said sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois. This is what fast food education should strive for. Democratizing technical skills is important, but developing these shouldn’t be incompatible with cultivating critical thinking in students. To see how this can be achieved, let’s take a look at Tech Learning Collective, an apprenticeship-based technology school which presents itself as an anti-bootcamp.
It approaches technology like gardening. One, its curriculum is focused on foundational skill building; the land must first be fertile before a garden can bloom on it. Instead of immediately teaching a coding language, instructors start with teaching digital infrastructure (e.g. security, networking, system administration). These basics are vital to programming; without sufficient understanding of infrastructure, developers write programs with more bugs and less functionality. By going back to their digital roots, students become more aware of their immediate environment. Numerous possibilities open up when these students realize they can do or make what they’re being pressured to pay for (e.g. Big Tech v.s. open source).
The school also advocates for cross-pollination. Their workshops are interdisciplinary, melding technical topics with the humanities (e.g history, philosophy, social sciences). This allows for a more holistic development for the students. For instance, just like all the other courses, cybersecurity has an explicitly political approach. They prioritize teaching security first because of their target audience (activists are part) and numerous scandals (e.g. 2016 election “hacking”, Cambridge Analytica data mining). They also cultivate critical thinking by encouraging their students to scruitinize technology from an ethical standpoint.
Stated by Tech Learning Collective: “…Our primary inquiries in…classes consider how we can leverage our digital devices for the most immediate social good…much like the advice encouraging you to eat foods whose ingredients you can pronounce and grown on soil you have left your footprints on, we believe that our engagement with technology ought to be as directly integrated as possible with our everyday lives…” Thanks to their technological and political immersion, their students reclaim power over the work they do, getting to truly flourish. They will be truly capable of shaping the system we are all stuck in.
Perhaps it’s too ambitious to hold fast food education to the standards of a fine dining experience. But being responsible for the development of many is nothing to make light of, especially if they’ve been disenfranchised by society. Education is not a product, but a process. What they get shouldn’t be packaged shallow content, but rather building blocks to help them grow (just like nutritional food!). In short, democratizing holistic tech education is what is truly innovation. With all that the edtech industry is capable of, that hopefully won’t be such a tall order to fill. ==(weak ending aaahhh)==
# Amazing Art
- Cognition diary: A speculative design project by Lera Ganicheva, Cognition diary is a personalized learning tool and a knowledge base designed by people individually throughout their lives. It takes the form of a customizable VR space where buildings represent disciplines studied by the user. I love embodied learning (thanks to being both an educator and a dancer), so I also loved the concept behind this project! I hope to create a speculative design project of my own one day as well. Check out the full project here.
- Classroom design explorations: What would a classroom look like if it wasn’t teacher-led, but instead teacher-curated? Azlen Ezla explores this in these sketches, rethinking learning environments. As someone who struggles to sit still in a typical classroom, I am excited by the possibilities these sketches offer.
# Interesting Innovations
- Teaching Machines: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2021-06-15-new-book-explores-the-long-and-surprising-history-of-teaching-machines Automation is no stranger to education. Way before the advent of personal computers, inventors and researchers created “teaching machines” for revolutionizing education. In her book Teaching Machines, Audrey Watters argues that this history is important for current educators & policy leaders to know. This quote of hers from an interview particularly struck me:
“I wanted to tell a story that didn’t have anything to do with computers,” she says, noting how mechanical early teaching machines were. “Because I think that too often in edtech, we get so hung up on the tech,” she adds. “We’re so committed to talking about the latest gadget, the new software, this or that app, that we really act as though somehow it’s that the tech is all there is to talk about. That the tech is the driving force of change. That the tech is the driving force of history.”
You can check out the whole book here.
- Khan Academy Early Product Development / Long-term Research: Combining practices from product design, academic research, and pedagogy, Khan Academy’s experimental R&D group sought to explore and uncover future possibilities in education. 3 years of experimentation resulted in interesting reports on building complex reasoning skills, exploring creative math, and more! I admire how 1.) intersectional this research is (I want to do similar work in the future) and 2.) it’s open-source! Read all the reports here.
- Para-/Extra-Institutional Schools: Curated by Shannon Mattern, this channel is a wealth of initiatives that seek to reimagine education. I don’t know about you, but I’m nerding out over these; I get excited thinking about how these alternative models of education can be brought over to the Philippines! Check out the full channel here.
# Rabbit Hole Reads
- Ten Expeditionary Learning Principles: Drawn from the ideas of Kurt Hahn and other education leaders, The Ten Expeditionary Learning Principles seek to describe a caring, adventurous school culture and approach to learning. I love how concise these are, and I plan to incorporate them into my own learning philosophy. You can check out all the principles here.
- We Don’t Need No Innovation: Written by Phil Nichols, this essay illustrates how a fight over school reforms in West Philadelphia revealed the pathologies and possibilities of disrupting education. Reading this made me rethink what it means to be innovative. I particularly like this last line:
“If ‘innovation’ is to be anything more than a buzzword—or a Trojan horse for austerity measures, urban development, and workforce production—it must be rooted in such a commitment to the self-determination and flourishing of the publics that schools are meant to serve.”
Read the whole essay here.
- The Future of Education: In this talk with Russell Brand, Yuval Noah Harari shared his thoughts on the future of humanity, talking about the challenges facing the next generation (and how they might be overcome). This whole conversation was a delight to listen to! A lot of gems, like this line: “Many jobs are not worth saving - what we need to protect is not the jobs but the humans.” You can watch the full talk here.
- Education in Posthuman Times: A lecture intertwining education and philosophy? Sign me up! To be honest, I haven’t fully listened to this yet, but I’m already intrigued by what I’ve seen, especially this quote from a ‘becoming-manifesto’ for posthuman education at the beginning:
“Posthuman education…creates spaces where we can be outside ourselves, be inside ourselves, be something else, be outside, be inside, be elsewhere but there, be not ourselves, be not a self at all but something and nothing all at the same time. Where a learner feels the learning somewhere along the pain to joy spectrum but sees the neurons fire either way; where the trees speak and the earth groans and the machines and the selves hear and listen to the wisdom of all of it and everything that is and sometimes is not.”
You can watch the full lecture here.
# Wise Words
- Wondering what the current state of humanity would be like if schools weren’t designed to limit us… https://twitter.com/mollyfmielke/status/1452719727550222337