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‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia’

One conflicting, nagging thought is that as a Computer Technology Essentials teacher this year I’m doing actual harm. This current notion about how coding saving students from poverty, and the egalitarianism in technology makes us all equals.

Tech companies can exploit such vulnerabilities to keep people hooked; manipulating, for example, when people receive “likes” for their posts, ensuring they arrive when an individual is likely to feel vulnerable, or in need of approval, or maybe just bored. And the very same techniques can be sold to the highest bidder. “There’s no ethics,” he says. A company paying Facebook to use its levers of persuasion could be a car business targeting tailored advertisements to different types of users who want a new vehicle. Or it could be a Moscow-based troll farm seeking to turn voters in a swing county in Wisconsin.

When students ask me about how many YouTube followers I have, they’re asking if I matter based on algorithms.

“The techniques these companies use are not always generic: they can be algorithmically tailored to each person. An internal Facebook report leaked this year, for example, revealed that the company can identify when teens feel “insecure”, “worthless” and “need a confidence boost”. Such granular information, Harris adds, is “a perfect model of what buttons you can push in a particular person”.

The thing is, I rarely get comments, re-blogs, or shared discussion from these posts. I send them into a deep, dark well, hear a splash, gurgle, and never anything more.

Come on, guys! It’s not about the clicks and likes: it’s about do we connect with one another.

Oh well.

Maybe Mila has the right idea:

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You don’t know what you don’t know.

(Looking for citation.) Stand out. Be happy.

But when you know better, do better.

Or at least that is what I believed.

The Notice and Note Facebook page is a collaborative, safe place. At least I thought so until yesterday. The post I’m referring to is gone, taken down by the poster: people began attacking her parenting skills. And that is not okay.

The question she posed was how to best talk to her daughter’s teacher about reading logs – long story short, she knew her daughter might have to deal with the consequence of a ‘zero’ if she didn’t turn in her reading log. The little girl loves to read but hates the chore of logs. When I spoke out and said maybe there is an alternative assignment, and reading logs are garbage, the backlash I received blew my eyebrows off my face. To paraphrase, I was a know it all and it was just my opinion.

Yes, I reminded the commentators who were hostile to me that they were on the Notice and Note site, and it wasn’t my opinion, it was the informed opinion of Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, too.

Here is the subtext: many teachers were scared. They hid behind “we don’t get to do what we like all the time, so suck it up, buttercup.” They said their principals “made” them do reading logs. They had no choice. It teaches responsibility, accountability, and all that. When I said all it does is teaches students to hate reading, I was told it didn’t.

I have that effect on people. It’s my fatal flaw. I write short sentences. To the point. And hold up those mirrors. Now, I could say if I was a published author or a male teacher, things may have gone better for me. Well, for them. Because I’m not the one who’s upset or harmed: it’s about our students. Our children. Growing readers and thinkers.

Just in time, a teacher that others respect, and don’t find nearly or at all antagonist, (unlike one certain teacher *cough* we all know and love *cough*) has a post on KQED promoting her book, Pernille Ripp:

How One Teacher Changed for the Good of Her Students

“I will admit that not every kid leaves my classroom having fallen back in love with school. Sometimes that damage takes years to undo. But I mostly get them back on the path of loving learning. I take responsibility for my own actions as a teacher and realize the damage I can do. I go to school knowing that every day I can be the difference between a child embracing his or her own learning or tuning out. I accept that what I do today may make the difference a few years from now between staying in school or dropping out.”

I am hoping that some read her post and give themselves permission to be better teachers and push their practice.

And– yes, please read this too:

How Powerful Is Content Knowledge?

If you don’t take my word for it, that’s fine. Do your own research. Be your own critical thinker.

That’s the least you can do as an educator.

Reading Logs