Everything Wrong With The Way We Talk About Education and Technology in 1,200 Words.


Here it is:

Risk, by Bruce Dixon

Too long, didn’t read? Here’s a summary:

  1. Dixon demands “change” but never defines the nature of that change.
  2. He assumes that change is the same thing as progress.
  3. Dixon slanders those who resist change as doing so based on fear and ignorance.
  4. He denounces critical examination.
  5. And he drops the ball on the notion of “risk” several times, conflating risk with change and private risk with public risk.

Here’s Dixon on our insipid, risk-averse modern lives:

“One of the more interesting shifts in our modern society has been how we are continuously trying to limit the risks we face in our daily lives.  We seem to receive advice around car safety, workplace safety and in recent times the risk of terrorism almost daily. When you start listing them all, it’s a wonder we all survive given the enormity of the risks that we are surrounded by and appear to be ever-increasing.”

I wonder what kind of car Bruce drives? I bet it’s an old one, pre-airbag; maybe one of those Pintos that used to randomly explode. And Bruce never uses a seatbelt, because fuck that. It’s 2016: Risk is the new black. Bruce Dixon is a Futurist of the future, singing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness. An ed-tech Marinetti, courage, audacity, and revolt are the essential elements of his poetry.

Except that Bruce wants to take us all along for his danger-ride. No time to think, just GET IN.

Climb into a sketchy Über car, with its economically desperate and exploited driver. Nervous? SHUT UP. The future is now and now is the era of the gig economy. Stable wages and health insurance are for the weak.

If you survive your ride without being assaulted or price-gouged, you can hop out at your child’s school, which Bruce has danger-fied for you. YOU’RE WELCOME. Thoughtful teachers who know their subjects and their students and have honed their craft through experience and training can get out of the way when Bruce comes screeching onto campus with his car full of disruption.

“Incrementalism suffocates innovation!” he screams as he throws 3D printers at the heads of teachers. And they deserve it. The concussions Bruce has generously given them are wake-up calls from the future to those weak-kneed cowards with their stupid twentieth-century books and human relationships and deep thoughts. They can watch with their academically-trained mouths agape while his tires scream donuts over their carefully-crafted curricula.

I’d love to go whitewater rafting with Bruce. I mean, I used to run an outing program for high school students and I was relentlessly burdened by my responsibility for their safety. In fact, no responsibility has ever weighed more heavily on me than the wellbeing of the students in my care. When we approached a significant rapid, for example, we’d all get out and scout the best line, looking for hazards and setting safety. Our locations were remote, and I felt the burden of my training and decision-making deeply.

Not Bruce; he wouldn’t even stop. NO TIME TO ASSESS RISK. This river is headed to the future. All forward!

 Whew!  What liberation! Quelle excitation!

Only, Bruce wouldn’t be in the boat with you when you hit the rapid. He’d have bailed into the calm water a hundred yards back, headed to collect a fat speaker fee for telling other people what risks they should take with their personal, educational, and financial security. He’s already received an education and achieved financial stability. He has no skin in the game when it comes to “disrupting” education and advocating exploitive market practices in the name of “entrepreneurialism.”   Calling for the complete-but-ill-defined disruption of education in the name of a vaguely-understood future is good for Bruce Dixon. If you worry that it might not be good for students, then maybe you’re just too risk-averse.

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