HEWN, No. 325

"Okay. Maybe I regret a little bit" -- Edith Piaf, probably

This week’s pigeon is the kererū, a large, wood pigeon from New Zealand. (Image credits) The bird, which one conservation group describes as “clumsy, drunk, gluttonous, and glamorous,” can get so inebriated off of fermented fruit that it will fall out of its perch.

To think of all the claims that B. F. Skinner made about education — and subsequently education technology — based on such a dull and narrow selection of pigeons.

Speaking of claims about education made based on dull and narrow pigeons:

I’ve been spending a lot of time, no surprise, reading stories that others have told about teaching machines — where they came from, how they worked, why they failed. Certain stories have stuck, whether they’re accurate or not. Certain individuals — thanks to the media coverage, in part — retained a tight control over the narrative. It’s like no one noticed that only handful of very invested players were cited in almost all the stories. (Funny too how B. F. Skinner wrote three volumes of autobiography; and when you look carefully, he is such a terribly unreliable narrator.)

I can’t help but wonder what, in a decade or two, the narrative is gonna be about this latest ed-tech craze. What are the stories that will be repeated — true or not — and the stories that will be buried. Folks have forgotten the earlier failures of Fathom and AllLearn, for example — at least, there’s never really been any consequences for the schools or the administrators involved in those efforts; indeed many of them are still hard at work “disrupting education” today. What are people going to tell one another about MOOCs? Is everyone just going to pretend they were critics and skeptics all along? What are they going to say about Knewton or Codecademy or Kno? Or have those names already faded from view?

Whose version of events, whose analysis is going to prevail? I can already guess…

Some reading:

Yours in struggle,