Money is at the bottom of all the deadly sins. How to make beaucoup bucks out of education taxes has become the concern of too many during a time when we should be thinking of true philanthropy to support our schools with their needs.

But it is a necessary starting point. The seven deadly sins begin with lust, a lust for data, with the goal of monetizing the databases that result.

I have a parody of that song, but my Facebook friends haven’t seen it yet–I need a partner. It will take two to do it justice, but it starts like this:

  • Data makes the school go around, the school go around
  • Data makes the school go around, the clicking, clacking sound
  • Of mouses pounding down
  • Data, data, data, data … data, data, data, data …

The first deadly sin is the lust for children’s data by companies and governments that have no right to it. Oh, they’ll claim it’s in their contract, but the school system that bargained away your child’s right to privacy had no right to do that.

Anyone know a good attorney? Or even a junkyard dog attorney because the smell of a class-action lawsuit permeates the steaming pile of data being collected everytime a child uses an online learning program, takes a test, or uses a purportedly beneficial program like Khan Academy.

(I once was a fan of Khan Academy, but ever since it repurposed itself as an SAT preparation site rather than making itself available for teachers to deploy as needed to further student learning, I have little use for it.)

Data makes the world go around. The marketeers of data-gathering sites promise our privacy will be secure, but then we get Facebook. They guaranteed our privacy and took such efforts to secure it by asking a firm like Cambridge Analytica to please, pretty please, pretty pretty please, delete the data they harvested because they weren’t supposed to.

We know how well that worked out.

Data, data, data … DATA, DATA, DATA … DATA!!

In the West, our online habits, the websites we visit, the ads we click on, the products we look at … all is recorded. What companies like Amazon and Facebook do is use our browsing habits to sell us to advertisers who seek to narrow their efforts to those most likely to buy.

As adults, we may find that okay. After all, as a man, I’m not interested in wearing women’s dresses and, if Amazon is using my browsing habits to keep those ads away from me, I’m okay with that.

On the other hand, I like the unexpected. Going way back into the Compuserve/preWWW days, I never subscribed to news feeds that would only show me what stories I marked as important. I like having an open feed whereby stories I don’t know about and don’t think would interest me, but are important, show up. Something new comes along and I find I am interested.

That is why we will always need an independent fourth estate, that is, media. I need somebody to put news in front of my face as important because I might have missed it.

Data, data, data, data. It has its place, but it cannot replace human judgment.

Put kids in front of computers and say in a very authoritative voice, “LEARN.”

They rebel. Visit any school doing Achieve 3000 or iReady or the like and look at the student laptops. Many of them have the keys pried off. Laptops are not like desktops; you cannot merely push the key back onto the keyboard. When a laptop key is off, the soldered connection is broken and it cannot be fixed. We call this passive-aggressive behavior. The students cannot say, “We hate this and we won’t do it,” but they have ways to make their opinions count.

Data, data, data, data … coming to you in sheep’s clothing, also known as personalized learning. Data, data, data … I see thee and name you, WOLF!

Because Silicon Valley believes they can gather data on a child from birth and predict the best course for their life. They know best; individual choice be damned.

They make grand speeches, but they seek to end human freedom and return us to the status of serfs.

Born to the estate, we will live and die on the estate doing the work that our lord decided we would do.

That this is being done by means of a silicon chip doesn’t mean it is any less wrong.

The first deadly sin in education: Lust for Data.

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