December Education Reading

Imagine that, instead of fawning over future-oriented “trends” or the future promise of products – be they virtual reality or “personalized learning” or “flexible seating” or what have you, that education technology actually centered itself on ethical practices – on an ethics of care. And imagine if education’s investors, philanthropists, and practitioners alike committed to addressing, say, economic inequality and racial segregation instead of simply committing to buying more tech.

Source: The Business of ‘Ed-Tech Trends’

My Writing

I chilled in December, resulting in only a couple posts with education relevance:

Older Pieces

Older pieces that I updated:

The Stories We Were Told about Education Technology (2017)

I highly recommend Audrey Watters The Stories We Were Told about Education Technology. She watches the stories ed-tech tells us and the money it spends. Each of the eleven parts is worth the time.

Previous years:

Continue reading “December Education Reading”

November Education Reading

Without inclusive education in schools, we can’t build inclusive workplaces. — Ari Ne’eman

My Writing

Twitter Threads


Recommended Reading


To be defined as abnormal in society is often conflated with being perceived as ‘pathological’ in some way and to be socially stigmatised, shunned and sanctioned. Then, if there is a breakdown in interaction, or indeed a failed attempt to align toward expressions of meaning, a person who sees their interactions as ‘normal’ and ‘correct’ can denigrate those who act or are perceived as ‘different’ (Tajfel & Turner, 1979). If one can apply a label on the ‘other’ location the problem in them, it also resolves the applier of the label’s ‘natural attitude’ of responsibility in their own perceptions and the breach is healed perceptually, but not for the person who has been ‘othered’ (Said, 1978).

Source: A Mismatch of Salience | Pavilion Publishing and Media

Software didn’t eat the world: it bent the world to fit the values of people who make software.

Little bugs were mistakes in the software. Big Bugs are when we exacerbate (or cause!) major problems in society.

Software that exacerbates racial biases in the criminal justice system is a big bug. Security policies that put sensitive data from hundreds of millions of people at risk are a big bug. Apps that secretly spy on users (including, yes, Beyoncé) have big bugs. Undermining trust in legitimate journalism and exacerbating fake news? Yep, that’s a big, big bug.

We think it’s time that a new generation of coders tries to tackle this even more important set of issues around access, equality, equity and basic fairness. And the clearest way we can state it is very simple: Software matters.

Software Matters in the World – Fog Creek Software – Medium

The issue here is that laptops in the classroom represent the first real chance at Universal Design for Learning – the first real chance to allow every student to choose the media format most appropriate for their own needs – the first real chance for students who are different to be accommodated without labels, and I’ll be damned if I’m willing to give that up for the vanity of a few faculty who cannot figure out how to teach with the greatest information and communication tool humans have ever developed.

SpeEdChange: Humiliation and the Modern Professor

But I just want to add that banning laptops is illegal if it interferes with the learning needs of students diagnosed with disabilities and is critically unfair to students with issues who lack the resources necessary to be diagnosed.

A public university like the University of Michigan needs, as a matter of service to its students…

You cannot counter structural inequality with good will. You have to structure equality.

The classroom is one of the least egalitarian spaces on the planet. Freire and hooks insist that it is in the traditional classroom that students “learn their place.”

An “Active Learning” Kit: Rationale, Methods, Models, Research, Bibliography | HASTAC

Findings suggested that when the preschool teacher and child were of the same race, knowing about family stressors led to increased teacher empathy for the preschooler and decreased how severe the behaviors appeared to the teacher. But, when the teacher and child were of a different race, the same family information seemed to overwhelm the teachers and the behaviors were perceived as being more severe.

Implicit bias may help explain high preschool expulsion rates for black children | YaleNews

But even if this comes to pass, this is not an example of innovative disruption. It is instead the endpoint of a process that seeks to substitute credentialing for learning.

There’s nothing innovative about such a radical shift in values working in combination with simple neglect to destroy something we once felt important and enduring.

Disruptive Innovation? More Like Destructive Innovation. | Just Visiting

But they did not count on the power of children’s instinct for dissent. The wild mind strives to protect itself the way a horse under saddle does, with a thousand strategies of resistance, withdrawal, inattention, forgetting; the children won’t do what the authorities say they should do, they won’t learn what the experts say they must learn, and for every diligent STEM-trained worker-bee we create there are ten bored, resistant, apathetic young people who are alienated from both nature and their own chained hearts.

Source: On the Wildness of Children — Carol Black

The primary form of child abuse is really shaming.

Patriarchy has no gender.

Parenting is political.

Think about how much more common the abuse of boys is than people want to believe.

Source: bell hooks on the Roots of Male Violence Against Women | NewBlackMan (in Exile)

Now I, personally, had a keen interest in the content of this presentation, but almost immediately I found my focus shifting to how it was being taught. I’ve been critical of an over-reliance on lecturing — along with other features of traditional instruction — for years. But that afternoon infused my long-standing skepticism with a fresh intensity. Why on earth would we think this arrangement — teacher in front of the room talking, students sitting silently and (ostensibly) listening — ought to play a central role in an institution whose goal is to promote learning?

To question the effectiveness of lectures is not to deny that teachers know more than students do, a common straw-man objection offered defensively by traditionalists. Rather, it suggests that having someone with more information talk at those who have less doesn’t necessarily lead to that information’s being retained by the latter. And the more ambitious one’s goal, cognitively speaking, the less likely one is to reach it by having students sit and listen. This is true because we are not empty receptacles into which knowledge is poured; we are active meaning makers.

Reading the research about lecturing is one way to realize the current system doesn’t make any sense. Another is to sit in the back of a college auditorium and watch rows of students updating their Facebook pages or shopping for shoes while a professor plows through a slide deck. In any case, if an hour or two of sitting still while someone pours words in your ears rarely produces lasting intellectual benefit, how can we justify a system of higher education whose uncritically accepted premise is that it does?

Source: Don’t Lecture Me! – Alfie Kohn

Twitter Moments

Collections of tweets on education and ed-tech and the forces acting upon them.

Letter to My Representatives on the Tax Bill, Education, and Disability

The GOP tax bill shifts wealth upward, removes the educational tools that make it possible to change class status, and harms disabled people.

This bill is a class-based war on graduate students. Instead of being taxed on the $15k they make, grad students would be taxed on that 15k plus their tuition waivers, which can run to 30k, 100k, and beyond. This tax wouldn’t raise much revenue; students would drop out to avoid a bill on imaginary money, a bill they cannot possibly afford. Forcing people out of graduate school seems to be the true intent. We need folks in school, not excluded due to lack of wealth and privilege. We need the full diversity of Americans studying deeply in their chosen fields.

This plan further punishes students by eliminating student loan interest deductions, forcing students who don’t graduate to repay Pell Grants, and forcing schools to raise tuition. According to Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation, the cost of education would go up by $71 billion over 10 years.

Antipathy toward higher ed is a GOP touchstone. Who but the already wealthy and affluent can afford to chase their dreams and study deeply under the policies the GOP advocates?

Students are not alone in having targets on their backs. Continuing the trend set by the attacks on the ACA, Medicaid, and the ADA, disabled people are also targeted. The tax credit that helps companies with ADA compliance will meet the cutting axe. So too the adoption tax credit and the orphan drug tax credit. Spending through the tax code is not the best way to care for the folks who rely on these credits, but the GOP has demonstrated, through its repeated assaults on the ACA and Medicaid, that it does not care to help them in any form.

Education, accessibility, and healthcare are near and dear to our family. This bill limits the horizons, possibilities, and lifespans of my children. Passing this bill—without hearings and amidst the constant distractions of a racist, undisciplined demagogue—would be deeply wrong. Vote against it.

Props to these pieces, from which I learned and lifted.

My previous letters on the tax bill and the ADA.