WHICH ONE OF THESE IS REAL? WHICH ONE IS FICTION? (the line between education and science fiction is blurrier than you think)

Read Scenario One and Scenario Two.

If you are unable to really tell the difference between these two scenarios, then perhaps we are closer to a frightening nightmarish future scenario than we realize. I manufactured one story out of my imagination. Ironically, I wrote it even before knowing anything about the real scenario provided to me by Alison MacDowell. I was nauseous at the realization that the story I manufactured actually eerily reflects a REAL policy that’s in the works. One is science fiction, the other story IS actually happening.

I left out ALL real hyper links….because, well, that would give it away! What’s important here is that my readers in fact will have to pause and think…because it IS so difficult to know what to believe anymore. What is happening to our children is in fact that unbelievable…and yet true.

When fact becomes stranger than fiction, it’s time for a deep pause…and serious action. Perhaps now, rather than later, we should be rising up and pushing back.


Chipping Students for Success

On the heels of Office Depot’s new initiative called “Committed to Learning” discussions are underway behind closed doors in the business community about the use of microchips to track students learning. The state-of-the-art technology would allow students to participate in ways we never imagined before. Which companies will be the first to make the move? Intel? IBM? Google? Microsoft? Industry insiders won’t say.

The chip would be surgically inserted during a brief outpatient procedure and can be removed at any time should the student decide to leave the program. “We know that a student’s grit and tenacity play a large part on their future success in the 21st century workplace.”

Because the recent update to federal education law (ESSA) requires states to include at least one nonacademic measure in judging school performance, the members of the technology communities are taking this opportunity to utilize microchip technology to meet the growing demands of both the business and education stakeholders. By measuring heart rate, body temperature and other metabolic features, proponents of the new schools will be able to overlap this to-the-moment data with the Grit Scale and predict student future success.

As Susan Patrick from the 2015 iNACOL symposium told her audience, the future of personalized technology creates a “student-learning system around vastly improved outcomes for preparing globally competitive students and citizens for the future.”

The other way the microchip technology is intended to be used in in collaboration with new community-based competency education opportunities. The chip enables corporate sponsors to track the students wherever they go. As school’s switch from crediting students based on “seat-time” in a course to crediting them for meeting proficiencies or competencies corporate sponsors say “It’s important that programs are accountable for the location and learning of each student in these community programs.”

 Pearson Takes Cues from the Pentagon

From stealth technology to GPS to vaccines, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — or DARPA — has developed some of the most consequential weapons and technology through the ages. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Defense Sciences Office (DSO) seeks potential new DARPA programs to enable advances in new and revolutionary approaches to training, education and learning. The system architecture would be modular, extensible and scalable (open-source, open- architecture), and the content and tools would be created by a broad community of content providers. The system would learn optimum pedagogical approaches for teaching specific topics based on usage patterns and performance of large numbers of students. An important aspect of this program is the development and integration of tools to monitor cognitive or physiological response of users while learning.

Such tools may be used for periodic assessment of individual learning styles or might be used “in the background” to continuously determine if an individual is having trouble understanding a lesson, not paying attention or even bored. The system may monitor a variety of cues to determine the user’s attention and emotional states. Only sensor systems that are both low-cost and accessible on a mass-produced device would be considered. An ideal system would provide social- emotional/non-cognitive tools to build confidence in the student and improve overall resilience. Rather than using a singular strategy, the system would combine multiple media formats in combinations optimized for student preference and learning styles, including lectures, e-books, intelligent tutors, games, sequential art, and social networks.

Pearson believes in “creating a DARPA for education” that accelerates the most effective Artificial Intelligence learning. According to a Pearson document, “Imagine what we might see if we were to put the same effort into improving our schools, universities, and community colleges with properly researched and comprehensively evaluated AIEd.”


Published by educationalchemy

Morna McDermott has been an educator for over twenty years in both k-12 and post secondary classrooms. She received her doctorate in education, with a dissertation focus on arts-based educational research, from The University of Virginia in 2001. Morna's teaching, scholarship, and activism center around the ways in which creativity, art, social justice, and democracy can transform education and empower communities. She is currently a Professor of Education at Towson University.

7 thoughts on “WHICH ONE OF THESE IS REAL? WHICH ONE IS FICTION? (the line between education and science fiction is blurrier than you think)

  1. disclaimer–I had a headstart to know which is real, since I’ve been getting alerts from Alison Hawver McDowell about this. I think the first scenario is quite plausible, but I know that the second is real. This is so chilling that the only positive thing I can say is–will finding out that the military, as well as monolithic/inept Pear$on, is behind the “innovation” of “personalization” (not to mention Big Data Mining) of 1:1 handheld devices and CBE/”mastery” learning, finally ignite PARENTS to stand up and say Not with my kids! We need to spread the word on this!

    1. How convenient there is a Federal Learning Registry already in place that is shared by the US Dept. of Education and the US Dept. of Defense… I was actually just looking at these DARPA plans a couple weeks ago. Very frightening stuff…

  2. I was pretty sure that the Pearson/DARPA partnership was the real version. How do we stop this from going forward? How do we reach more parents and teachers? Time for some artful resistance.

  3. They are both plausible but I feel the real scenario is #2. Now how do we STOP it. I say it is time to STARE THE BEAST. There is just no time for any other solution. The beast needs our children to survive. We need to get as many kids out of the system as possible as quickly as possible. We need the communities and the churches to come together to educate our children. Once we implode the current system we then build it back to what is should be. Our children don’t have 10 years for a solution that I believe will never come. The sand in the bottle has all sifted to the bottom.

  4. Oh my. How can we choose between this or that style of insanity? I just took note, however, that very recently a few big-name “superintendents” were just named to work with Jeb Bush in his scary little world of top-down, don’t-talk-back school management, so I’ll have to go with his best buddies PEARSON.

  5. Here’s a video made by a Baltimore County Public School community member- it’s a 10 minute video- How STAT became a global model within first 9 weeks of implementation.

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