by Diane Ravitch
Yesterday I posted a blog about the Gates Foundation funding research at Clemson University for something called Galvanic Response Skin bracelets. The project will enable researchers at Clemson to work with researchers in the Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project to measure student engagement physiologically. MET is the Gates program to identify the most effective (and ineffective) teachers. It is the heart of the Gates’ teacher evaluation program, into which the Foundation has invested hundreds of millions of dollars. It is the program that will one day make possible what Melinda Gates recently predicted: And so what the foundation feels our job is to do is to make sure we create a system where we can have an effective teacher in every single classroom across the United States.
These bracelets, as I understand it, would be worn by students to measure how engaged they are, how bored they are, how they respond to their teachers. If they are bored, it won’t look good for the teacher. If students who show a high level of engagement, the teacher will get credit. The teachers too will wear the bracelet, to find out how engaged or bored they are. If this technology works, it will provide a foolproof tool for teacher evaluation. Or that’s the idea behind it.
On Twitter, one of the readers of this blog told me about yet another Gates grant, this one to the National Center on Time and Learning, Inc., last November. This grant, for $621,265, has the following purpose: “to measure engagement physiologically with Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Galvanic Skin Response to determine correlations between each measure and develop a scale that differentiates different degrees or levels of engagement.”
I’m sorry. I think this is madness. Is there a mad scientist or psychologist advising the Gates Foundation? Does Dr. Moreau work in a Gates laboratory in Seattle?
This stuff crosses the line from legitimate research to investing in technologies to control and manipulate people by monitoring their emotions.
Have these people ever heard of rights to privacy? Does this GSR bracelet and MRI constitute some sort of emotional hacking?
I am hoping to get an outraged email from the Gates Foundation tomorrow informing me that someone hacked into their website and that none of this is true.