Personalized Learning or Psychological Profiling?

These headlines about personalized learning in Education Week (see their newsletter below) give a very good snapshot of how psycho-social research and big brother-style data are converging BECAUSE of federal funding.

The goal for states should be to slow down the personalized learning train and give parents the chance to choose, as Dr. Gary Thompson says, “by informed consent,” whether or not they want their child’s academic and behavioral data tracked in order to control what they learn, and how they are disciplined in schools.

As the Fed’s big-data partner, Knewton’s President Jose Ferreira said, “We have five orders of magnitude more data about you than Google has. We literally have more data about our students than any company has about anybody else about anything, and it’s not even close.”

MarketPlace details, “Jose Ferreira imagines a day when “you tell us what you had for breakfast every morning at the beginning of the semester, by the end of the semester, we should be able to tell you what you had for breakfast. Because you always did better on the days you had scrambled eggs.”

MarketPlace continues, “If the right breakfast makes for a better behaved child, that will be measured, too. Teachers are increasingly relying on behavior monitoring software not only to keep kids on track, but to track them, too. With the help of an iPad, the teacher record’s whether or not your child is being helpful and attentive or talking out of turn. The child is rewarded, often with points, for good behavior. Points are taken away when behavior is not so good.”

This explains why the Fed’s gutted FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) regulations so that healthcare and counseling could be provided in schools without parental consent to “improve student outcomes” on test scores. (We’re from the government, and we’re here to help.)

The ironic thing about the MarketPlace article is that James Steyer from Common Sense Media talks about why it’s important that we get a handle on this data surge. Yet, it is HIS company that met with the White House and is helping them get federalized curriculum to teachers through the White House Learning Registry’s data brokerage system.

So many people are out there trying to “do good” in education. But, they are operating off of the wrong principles. If education is about outcomes, than all this data is necessary and desirable to control everyone. If education is about learning and growing, then agency would be inherent and real “choice” in education would automatically exist.

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Here’s the Education Week newsletter and link. Notice that the headline makes it sound as if schools are pushing for Personalized Learning, but the truth exists beneath the headline: “Produced with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.” For those who still don’t know, Bill Gates partnered with the Obama administration on Race To The Top and the end-goal was to standardize and digitize learning around Common Core and its associated data standards (see here and here).

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Link to Education Week blog.

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