"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, March 26, 2016

How Pearson plans to force student participation and hurt creativity


Pearson (Luckin et. al., 2016) has announced that they are developing programs that will monitor students as they participate in group work, showing how well each student is participating (p. 27), using, for example "voice recognition (to identify who is doing and saying what in a team activity." (p.34). This is designed to make sure students are participating according to the programmers' ideas of what optimal participation is. 

This and other intrusions are designed to make sure the students are focused on just the task in front of them right now, and are participating in exactly the way the Pearson wants them to participate.  This strengthens an error nearly all schooling makes and makes true creative thinking and learning impossible.

Studies in creativity have revealed that "incubation" is crucial aspect of the development of new ideas and understandings. After a period of intellectual struggling, of "wrestling" with a problem, progress, deeper understanding, often comes after a short period of intellectual rest, “an interval free from conscious thought” to allow the free working of the subconscious mind (Wallas, 1926, p. 95). 

The mathematician Poincare (1924) noted that when reaching a block in his work, after a "preliminary period of conscious work which also precedes all fruitful unconscious labor," he would get up from his desk and do something relatively mindless, such as putting more wood on the fire.  Returning to  his work only minutes later, the solution would often appear.

School work rarely allows this to happen.  Pearson's programs make sure incubation will never happen.

Luckin, R., Holmes, W., Griffiths, M. and Forcier, L. 2016. Intelligence Unleashed: An Argument for AI in Education. London: Pearson.
Poincare, H. 1924. Mathematical creation. Excerpts reprinted in Creativity, P.E. Vernon (Ed.). Middlesex, England: Penguin. pp. 77-88, 1970.
Wallas, G. 1926. The Art of Thought. Excerpts reprinted in Creativity, P.E. Vernon (Ed.). Middlesex, England: Penguin. pp. 91-97, 1970.

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