Education Evolutions #79

The future of books flickr photo by Johan Larsson shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Well, this weekend certainly got away from me. The prospect of an extra day off meant even more things were packed into the available time and my Sunday was spent racing around considerably more than normal. That is why I was so late getting this issue out.

So here is hoping that everyone celebrated a meaningful Veteran’s Day. To think that it was the 100 year anniversary of The Great War – the war to end all wars. How foolish we can be. It only seemed to light the fuse of an even bigger war and almost perpetual global conflict of some kind.

This week’s “If you read only one article…” is the middle one. It kind of comes from a study published in England but it might as well have been America. In some ways, it is more likely that a European nation would take the lead on a study of this nature. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was some statutory restraint on even conducting a study like that in the States. That might get in the way of people to take advantage of a situation and make some money., even if it is only kids. Making money on kids might actually be the theme of this issue, in fact.

Hard to believe Thanksgiving is barely two weeks away.

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

American Meritocracy Is Killing Youth Sports – The Atlantic –  Derek Thompson (7-minute read)

Ironically I was having a conversation recently when I was asked why club soccer teams are so expensive, to which I replied, “Well, there is an entire industry that sprouted up around youth sports in our lifetime.” I wish I had that $17 billion figure at command. That is a staggering number made even more so given the decline in participation numbers also mentioned in this piece.

Despite having coached soccer for 20 years, working with ages 4-18, I have plenty of stories that have always left me feeling adults are almost always the problem when it comes to kids and sports. I have seen far too many adults operate as if their kid’s team sports are their personal fantasy league. I currently coach a 10-year-old team that travels because there is no alternative option for my kids. Sunday, it took longer to drive to the away game than it did to play the match, which is only one of the heights of absurdity that seems all too commonplace now.

Children are being “datafied” before we’ve understood the risks, report warns – TechCrunch –  Natasha Lomas (7-minute read)

Massachusetts and California seem to be leading states in America taking a hard look at student data privacy but privacy for everyone doesn’t seem to be a real high on the priority list of anyone in Washington. There was a moment when it seemed like maybe there was some mild interest restricting the tech giants but that has faded. Given the current state of politics at the national level, I would not be expecting much of anything to happen in the foreseeable future.

Europe at least made some early efforts in this area. They might not go far enough but at least they have started to take the issues seriously. Best line in this article has to be “In effect [children] are the canary in the coal mine for wider society, encountering the risks before many adults become aware of them or are able to develop strategies to mitigate them.” If that does not have the ring of truth than I do not know what does.

New civics education law misses the mark – Commonwealth Magazine –  Jack Schneider (4-minute read)

This is an insightful look at a new requirement for students in Massachusetts. However, I suspect that the Commonwealth will just be one of the forerunners on this kind of thing. For anyone not familiar with Jack Schneider, he is an exceptionally sharp education historian. Well worth following. In this piece, his argument is one that could be made for so many education initiatives, because schools “always end up as the target.”

What Schneider is particularly adept at is explaining why, as well as simultaneously making a strong case as to why scaled solutions rarely work all that well in education. As the saying goes, care doesn’t scale and scale doesn’t care, which is all I could think as I read this. It is hard to see how legislating civics education, at least in its current form, is any more likely to foster civic engagement and democratic action. What’s more, if it did, it seems more likely to prompt a reaction that claims education has become too political. Wait, there are plenty of people already making that claim.

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