Education Evolutions #123

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As usual, I read no shortage of fascinating articles and selecting the handful to share proved challenging. It did seem to me that the topics and items were connected by some deeper harder to perceive thread, which might be summed up by the persistent challenge of choosing the kind of world in which we wan to live. That may read as grand or even hyperbole but I think it connects these three selections, shedding some light on a few different perspectives of the same perpetual challenge.

How do we educate young people in a deep, meaningful way? How do we support those more vulnerable, stand together, and protect individual privacy for everyone? How do we find and remain informed with honest and reliable information without becoming victims of deliberate deceptions? They are all big questions that present an array of far from binary choices but they do challenge everyone to be reflective, considerate, and empathetic.

This week’s “If you read only one article…” is the last one. It is a longer read than most but it is an excellent introduction to the new ways old ideas are being used to divide and conquer through deliberate obfuscation and worse. It raises a whole lot of questions without many answers but remaining ignorant of what that article addresses might be the worst possible outcome. It is also a pretty impressively written feature.

Here are three+ curated articles about education, technology, and evolutions in teaching.

Common Core Is Dead. Long Live Common Core – Forbes – Peter Greene (6-minute read)

Retired teacher turned regular contributor to Forbes, Peter Greene has the potential to reach a much wider, mainstream audience than his blog gives him. More than anything he is an absolute advocate for public education and especially teachers. In this piece, he explains for a mainstream audience how the Common Core lives on and why despite any claims to the contrary. It is an excellent window into some of the nuances about how any education policy continues zombie-like until they are replaced completely by the next big policy charge.

Recently I attended a presentation with a Washington DC advocate for public libraries who explained that it generally takes an average of 10 years for any public policy to develop and be implemented. As I have watched things unfold, that comment seems to pass the eye. I was reminded of that comment as I read Greene here and it made me wonder just how long a failed policy lingers after its time has passed.

As suggested here, the Common Core’s long-term impact is complicated by an education marketplace lobbying for their own interests, district administration’s interest in implementation, and classroom teacher’s interest in the practicalities of what works in the moment with the students in front of them, among other factors. Common Core will remain as a dormant virus as long as we retain a system that privileges high-stakes testing, at least until it is overtaken by the next shiny new button.

Stop Making the ‘I Have Nothing to Hide’ Online Privacy Argument – OneZero on Medium – Andy Pavey (6-minute read)

While this piece takes some time to work round to the promise of its title, occasionally doing so in a strident manner, it captures a few remarkable points we must remind ourselves about with some regularity. I often hear a common mantra of “I have nothing to hide,” which makes me bristle. Even if that is true for many of us, to think that that the large volumes of data being collected by commercial enterprises, let alone arms of any state cannot be used for purposes other than intended is beyond naive. What’s more, as Pavey explains it is not about the individual, it is about solidarity and all of us collectively.

We have so many examples of the chilling and corrosive effect constant surveillance has on humans. The lengthy, opening details about the surveillance on Martin Luther King Jr. serve as a cautionary tale but it is by far not the only one. Taken to an extreme degree, it is not just a limitation on free speech, while important for a host of reasons, it is a pre-emptive effort to limit any form of resistance, opposition, or disagreement. In a historical moment of profound polarization that has some equally profound implications.

Beyond all of that, I have no doubt that there are plenty of people that sincerely feel like they have nothing to hide. Yet, privacy is not about hiding, it is about being free from unwanted public attention, judgment, or intrusion. Humans are social creatures, but I cannot think of anyone that does not want that from time to time, no matter how open or public they might be in their daily lives. Ultimately, what resonated most with me was Pavey’s call to action that we all “must be considerate of those who have something to hide in their fight for a fair share of America.” There certainly is no shortage of people in search of greater fairness, justice, or equity. It is up to us not just individually but collectively to choose the kinder, more inclusive path.

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President – The Atlantic – John Favini (37-minute read)

For a few years now disinformation and propaganda efforts have garnered a lot more of my attention. It started with my interest in filmmaking and how it can and has been used as a facilitation mechanism. It then crossed over into my media literacy and education interests. Then it encroached into my work as a journalism teacher, particularly at a moment where the enterprise of journalism seems to be coming under a concentrated and widespread assault from a variety of sources. American mainstream media, in particular, has been slow to respond to changes both subtle or overt.

This piece from The Atlantic is excellent in its research, insight, and reporting. Yet, it kept reminding me of that old adage, “By the time it’s in the newspaper it’s too late.” While this article sharpens its focus on a current re-election campaign, the core objectives in use are not. What has changed are the tools and adapting techniques and methods being employed to amplify and extend disinformation and propaganda. It has simply gotten easier to employ, more insidious, and much more difficult to evade.

Despite the length of this piece, it carries an increasingly important point. The tools and techniques of disinformation and propaganda are now being used as a matter of course. It is no longer an exception or out of the ordinary. Now more than ever, people need to be more aware, more informed, and more clear-sighted than ever.

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