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

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Teaching Kids About Personalized Data Collection

The emerging story of Facebook's marketing of 87,000,000 users' data is finally beginning to register in the minds of Americans who, otherwise, have remained somewhat blase about the threat of personal data collection, archiving, and selling.  It is not ad sales or click counts that's driving social , or anti-social, media; it has finally dawned on a distracted public that it is their personal data that is the now and future currency of FB, Google, and the other Silicon Valley high priests who have no respect for the customers they would happily turn into compliant drones and make a profit at the same time. 

This other-worldly scheme is no less apparent in the personalized data business being pushed into schools under the banner of personalized learning and competency-based learning. Of most interest to oligarchs like Gates and Zuckerberg are programs to neurologically rewire children to make them assets for capitalists like themselves, and to collect and market data on individuals from pre-K through grad school.  Every man or woman with a comprehensive digital dossier immediately accessible to anyone for a fee.

One of the prime examples of this is Summit Learning, which enjoys massive infusions of public and venture philanthropists' dollars to build a demonstration project of how you can have education with a minimum of teachers, schools, or even books.  Just think of the savings, and think of the collected data when kids are handcuffed to their laptops and iPads.

Now small actions to counter the cyber-capitalist dystopia have begun, and WaPo has an interesting piece on an new emerging curriculum being implemented down the road from Seton Hall, where it was developed by law professors.  The goal is to re-establish some connections among people and to limit the connections between individuals and servers that dish up just what we seem to want even before we know we want it.  A clip: 
The classes are free, folded into kids’ daily schedules and taught in the classrooms where the fifth- and sixth-graders typically learn about the scientific method and the food chain. Gaia Bernstein, director of Seton Hall Law’s Institute for Privacy Protection, which designed the program, said each class includes about a half-dozen lessons taught to the kids over several weeks, as well as a separate set of lectures for parents concerned about how “their children are disappearing into their screens.”

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