Privileging an ideology of individualism

Audrey Watters said:

These new technologies, oriented towards consumers and consumption, privilege an ideology of individualism. In education technology, as in advertising, this is labeled “personalization.” The flaw of traditional education systems, we are told, is that they focus too much on the group, the class, the collective. So we see education being reframed as a technologically-enhanced series of choices – consumer choices. Technologies monitor and extract data in order to maximize “engagement” and entertainment.

I fear that new normal, what it might really mean for teaching, for learning, for scholarship.


As a history major and former Social Studies teacher, I believe in the idea of common schools and education as a common good. We also know, however, that one-size-fits-all models don’t. How we balance collective societal good versus individual learning and life success needs is incredibly challenging. No easy answers here…

2 Responses to “Privileging an ideology of individualism”

  1. Funny that many of the proponents of “personalization” ignore that all of the top academic institutions have a common core curriculum (Ivy Leagues, Military Academies, MIT, Caltech, etc.) so it’s certainly not universally regarded as the be and end all.
    That having been said, this same song and dance routine has been applied to the introduction of sound recordings, film, television, video tapes/discs, computers (PLATO anyone?). The sad part is that people, literally, keep buying it.

  2. Here’s the problem: kids don’t remember what we teach them. The scariest show on TV is ‘Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader?’ If we don’t remember the content from the first 6 years of education — and the TV show makes it clear we don’t — the rest of ecuation was a complete waste of time.

    And it is. College kids can’t remember simple, basic stuff.

    I think we need to start off new, from the bottom up. Rather than accept our (literally!) medieval ideas about education, we need to look at kids who succeed, who are life-long learners, and find out how to give all children the same experience and love of learning.

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