Despite the jargon-laden title of this post, the content is about a simple matter: do we, as human beings (as educators, in our case), really know ourselves as well as we think we do?
Despite the jargon-laden title of this post, the content is about a simple matter: do we, as human beings (as educators, in our case), really know ourselves as well as we think we do? As David Mattin, head of trends and insights at trendwatching.com shares in the September 2017 issue of Business Life, “contemporary science reveals [that] we know ourselves far less well than we think, and that our choices are largely dictated by unconscious brain processes.” Mattin is talking about the massive amounts of data being collected, relative to our personal habits, such as choice of music. One has only to listen to Spotify’s suggested weekly playlist for us to wonder whether algorithms that utilise our personal data would appear to know us better than we know ourselves. This development has profound implications for us on many levels, though I’d prefer to dwell on education for purposes of this post.
If our unconscious brain processes (whether music preferences or otherwise) dictate our choices to the extent that they (our choices) can be detected and manipulated by algorithms, then what do we do about school? Is following a prescribed curriculum analogous to following an algorithm, such that adherence to a given curriculum as a ‘habitual action’ of sorts will result in implications that remain with us for life? Or, are we going about school in a very wrong-headed way? For instance, should we employ a Spotify approach to education in which playlists are generated for each child, relative to the school’s overall curriculum, in such a way that we (schools) are engaged in ‘personalised education?’ Is such an education truly ‘personalised,’ or is it ‘prescribed?’ Is there a difference, and, if so, what is it? Should our programmes know our students better than they know themselves?
If you think that a Spotify approach is laughable, then I suggest you look at alternative schools such as AltSchool, a recently-launched B Corporation, which translates to a socially-impactful business that is allowed to raise capital. They’ve done particularly well in raising capital, by the way: over $100 million. One of the features of their programme is a ‘playlist’ for each student. They have developed a proprietary software that informs the playlist (among other items), and part of their plan is to license the software.