"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Stop. Take a Breath. Remember What Education Is For. It's Not for the Government, Coporatists or Technocrats.

Apparently I'm not such a dinosaur after all.  I still have my records from junior high school with the psychedelic art and liner notes.  Vinyl is making a comeback.  Alternative recording musical offerings as 8-track tapes, cassettes, CDs, etc have come full circle as musical aficionados find their way back to the old-fashioned vinyl LP.  

It's time to take out those 33 RPM records, set that needle onto the edge and settle back for either the A or B side of some great Joni Mitchell, Allman Brothers, Cream (or your favorite band) while flipping through the album notes.  It's a tactile experience demanding your attention  as you need to turn over the record to the other side after the needle reaches the middle.

According to the Wall Street Journal in "It's Alive! Vinyl Makes a Comeback":

The digital revolution was supposed to do away with a lot of fusty old relics. First compact discs took their toll on the long-playing (and long-played) vinyl record; then iPods and digital downloads began doing the same to CDs. But long after the eulogies had been delivered, the vinyl LP has been revived.

Substantial. That's the word I keep hearing from the fans of vinyl. Records are admirably physical, the antithesis of the everywhere-and-nowhere airiness of "the cloud."

The embrace of vinyl isn't just some retro fad, but a push-back against the techno-triumphalism that insists there is no future for physical artifacts like books and newspapers. It's a small declaration of independence, a refusal to let the march of progress stomp on one's pleasures.

Vinyl is an assertion that efficiency isn't everything.

Switching to vinyl makes me wonder if the increased use of IPads and computers in the classroom will experience a similar backlash.  The use of digital curriculum increases the speed on information imparted, but it doesn't necessarily mean the information is absorbed more quickly by people.  It may just mean technological overload for students.  And what happens when an overload occurs? A short-circuit is in the making and the student can't concentrate and real learning is impeded.  

At dinner this weekend with friends, two of them indicated they had deactivated their Facebook accounts and they don't miss them.  Stephen Lazar, a teacher who had a large Twitter following wrote a blog entry entitled "Why I am no Longer Tweeting":

Last year, I became convinced I developed adult ADD.  I felt like I was loosing my ability to concentrate on any one task for an extended length of time.  Luckily, teaching is a job that rewards being aware of many different things at once, so it didn’t affect my job performance.  There were times when it was a challenge for me to focus on extended conversations with my wife, though.  I seriously considered going to see a psychiatrist and talking about going on adderall (which I, unlike many of my generation, never used recreational in high school or college). 

As common core standards demand more and more computer assessments and the move toward more and more virtual schools and computerized text, keep your eye on the students.  If adolescents are anything like adults, eventually  they will throw up their hands and withdraw from the technological front lines and demand the time, the rhythm and the tactile experiences necessary for thorough learning, not just surface learning to pass the assessments.  

The Federal government can insist students and people are only human capital and this human capital is nothing more than massive data sets.  The assessments will make companies very rich (via taxpayer funding for their use and implementation) while looking for students to answer the questions set up by private corporations to help the workforce, not the student.  

The plan to make the perfect student, the perfect worker, the perfect widget may just backfire.  Folks are beginning to walk away from the technology designed to make our lives better and our minds sharper.   They are becoming more selective about what they read and with whom they share information.  Are we witnessing the beginning of an anti-technology movement that will hopefully doom the federal/global takeover of American education?   Revisiting the WSJ article above:

 Vinyl is an assertion that efficiency isn't everything.
What's important in education might not just be for efficiency after all.  What might be important is to encourage and nurture the time it takes a student to fully understand the subject studied before moving on to stay on track for that common core rubric or "one size fits all" playbook.  It's time for parents, teachers and school districts to demand their public educational institutions refuse the implementation of the techno dreams of Bill Gates and the other corporatists determined to take over the delivery and content of education:

The embrace of vinyl isn't just some retro fad, but a push-back against the techno-triumphalism that insists there is no future for physical artifacts like books and newspapers. It's a small declaration of independence, a refusal to let the march of progress stomp on one's pleasures.

Enjoy this musical interlude from Cream, "I Feel Free" with stills from "Easy Rider":



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