Archive for the ‘teaching’ Category

The Big Lie about the “Science of Reading” (Updated)

February 16, 2019

via The Big Lie about the “Science of Reading” (Updated)

Decoding ClassDojo

January 22, 2019

code acts in education

Ben Williamson


The globally popular classroom behaviour management app ClassDojo is being extended into a tool to support children’s ‘character development’ and ‘growth mindsets.’ ClassDojo illustrates how new educational technologies are simultaneously the product of venture capital investment and new psychological and neuroscientific conceptualizations of learning.

Here I want to open up some possible lines for further critical inquiry into ClassDojo, focusing in particular on gamification, behavioural surveillance, its links to new psychological and neuroscientific concepts of ‘character development,’ ‘growth mindsets’ and ‘neuroplasticity,’ and its support from venture capital sources in Silicon Valley. ClassDojo represents a nexus of technical innovation, scientific categorization, and entrepreneurial culture.

Behavioural gamification
ClassDojo is a free mobile app that allows teachers to award ‘positive behaviour’ points for individual children’s behaviour and participation in the classroom. Launched in 2011, by 2015 its founders reported over 3 million subscribing teachers, serving 30 million students across 180 countries…

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The tech elite is making a power-grab for public education

January 22, 2019

code acts in education

Ben Williamson

Silicon wiresSilicon Valley entrepreneurs are linking public education into their growing networks of activity and influence. Image by Steve Jurvetson

In the same week that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced a major move into education provision, the FBI issued a stark warning about the risks posed to children by education technologies. These two events illustrate clearly how ed-tech has become a significant site of controversy, a power struggle between hugely wealthy tech entrepreneurs and those concerned by their attempts to colonize the education sector with their imaginaries and technologies. Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and other super-wealthy Silicon Valley actors, are forming alternative visions and approaches to education from pre-school through primary and high schooling to university. They’re the new power-elite of education and their influence is spreading.

I’ve previously written about the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists making a power-grab for the education sector. Benjamin Doxtdator

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Marxism for the 21st Century – a revolutionary tool or more scholasticism?

January 19, 2018

Radical Notes

Michael A. Lebowitz

‘Save me from these so-called Marxists who think they have the key to history in their back pocket! Save me from disciples like those who followed Hegel and Ricardo!’ Few people understood better than Marx how a theory disintegrates when the point of departure for theoretical work is ‘no longer reality, but the new theoretical form in which the master had sublimated it.’

Happily for him, Marx was spared the spectacle of disciples scandalized by the ‘often paradoxical relationship of this theory to reality’ and accordingly driven to demonstrate that his theory is still correct by ‘crass empiricism’, ‘phrases in a scholastic way’, and ‘cunning argument’. Lucky Marx who (if Engels is to be believed) was before all else a revolutionary whose ‘real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society’ – he missed the affirmation by 20th…

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Phonics in a Post-Truth Age

November 26, 2017

A good defense of teachers well said!

Corinne Campbell


There have been renewed calls for phonics instruction in Australian primary schools, along with a mandatory phonics test for students in Year One.

The calls come from many sources. They come from well-intentioned professionals like speech pathologists, who work with children who’ve struggled to learn to read. They come from think-tanks and politicians. They come from people with financial interests in selling phonics programs to schools.

They don’t, however, come from the professionally qualified experts who teach young children to read in schools every day. They don’t come from the education academics who specialise in the teaching of reading and development of literacy. They don’t come from the curriculum experts who carefully develop reading curriculum for our schools, or from the school and system leaders who are responsible for the ongoing professional development of our teachers.

At this point, I’m sure I will be accused of the logical fallacy of…

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Non-market socialism: Life Without Money – An Interview with Anitra Nelson

July 3, 2017

Radical Notes

Life Without Money: Building Fair and Sustainable Economies (Pluto Press, London, 2011) that Anitra Nelson and Frans Timmerman have edited is a remarkable collection on the praxis of non-market socialism. For the contributors of the volume, socialism/communism is not just a state or goal which we have to achieve in some distant future; rather, it is built through immediate practices that reject capitalism and its key institutions – market and money. They regard the manipulation of these institutions for their gradual transcendence to be deceptive, as “the market system, and its quasi-god money, is a strong barrier to the political and cultural reforms needed to establish socialism.” The volume critiques the reduction of socialist revolution to combinatorics of state power and economic reformism.

The following discussion with Anitra Nelson, one of the editors of the volume, tries to bring out the chief tenets of non-market socialism, providing an insight into…

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The Emperor’s New Pedagogy

February 22, 2017

Vince Ulam


The False Dichotomy

There is a modish crowd abroad who believe that psychology is the cloth of gold from which pedagogy is to be spun and tailored. While it is true that psychology informs good pedagogy, wanton appeal to it as a cover for self-promotion, private consultancy and pedagogical reform should not go unchallenged.

To give an opening example, decades worth of very significant research by leading psychologists into the role of memory in learning processes has been used to persuade hundreds of people teaching thousands of pupils across the country that a flashcard scaled to A4, laminated and called a “knowledge organiser” is the ultimate product of cutting edge cognitive science and every pupil’s passport to Oxbridge. Persuaded of this, you are claimed as a “traditionalist“, a champion of knowledge and all-round good sort. Sceptical and you are damned as a “progressive“, brainwashed by Marxist…

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Children of the poor: Bitter and cynical strategy on education and poverty

December 1, 2016


John Key: ‘We can count rodents easily – neglected, abused or sick children living in cold, damp houses not so much.’ Stuff, 3 October, 2016.

Children of the poor: Bitter and cynical strategy on education and poverty

Whenever the prime minister or finance minister talk about the prospect of government money being allocated to poverty reduction, they always draw from a medley of three rationalisations to justify dilatoriness: yes there is poverty but who really knows how much; the government won‘t be ‘throwing money’ at it; and they won’t support any policies that can’t justify their existence with measurable results. This last draws attention to the way, for the power elite, measurement and accountability are conceptual tools to use, to reinforce its power. And who is it suggesting that the government throw money at the problem’? Surely the policy suggestion would have been in the form of a provision…

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Peter Greene: “Reformers” Lose Their Progressive Facade

November 22, 2016

Diane Ravitch's blog

Peter Greene notes the terrible pickle that the “reformers” are in. They were trying so hard to prove their bona fides as leaders of the “civil rights movement of our time,” trying so hard to claim that they really were pushing school choice “for the kids,” trying so hard to call themselves progressives…and Donald Trump, the arch reactionary, has embraced their cause. The hedge fund managers, the billionaires, and the corporate titans pushed charters and school choice, and Donald Trump wants charters and school choice too! He goes a step further, and he wants vouchers too.

Peter Greene calls the current state of affairs the “Faux Progressive Polka.”

Their dilemma is laid bare: Real progressives support public schools, not school choice. School choice was the battle cry of the segregationists in the 1950s and 1960s, and today school choice is promoting greater resegregation and at the same time, defunding public…

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Attack! 23 The phonics debate: it should be game-set-and-match

November 7, 2016

Welcome to ATTACK!  ATTACK! is a two-page occasional publication giving attention to the curriculum – the holistic curriculum. ATTACK! is for you, also to introduce to your colleagues. Each issue w…

Source: Attack! 23 The phonics debate: it should be game-set-and-match

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