Kin Lane

When They Are Only Focused on Selling Their Warez To Schools All They Hear Is Criticism

I wanted to craft a standard post, with a dedicated URL, that I can use as a response to people in my partner in crime, Audrey Watters (@audreywatters) timeline. I have several of these types of posts, preventing me from having to get into lengthy Twitter exchanges with her anti-fan club, and allowing me to just respond with a single URL, complete with a full explanation of my situation.

This post is for all those people who say that all she does is be critical of people in ed-tech. Which demonstrates for me, their simple view of education technology, lack of actually reading her work, and shows their narrow focus on selling to the sector. I’ve seen hundreds of folks step up to shame her for being critical. Stating that the startup entrepeneurs, teachers, and school administrators are all well meaning, and just want to improve schools for our children. How dare she be endlessly critical, and just downright mean to all of them. She is the bad one, they are just trying to innovate in a broken system, and make things better.

This position shows they haven’t read her work. Over the last eight years, she has provided plenty of constructive, and even positive insight on education, learning, and yes, even technology. The problem is they are so narrowly focused on selling to schools, and justifying their belief in technology, they aren’t even remotely focused on the education and learning part. So they don’t read, hear, and absorb the suggestions regading how they can better serve the kids in these areas. It is something they don’t realize because they have convinced themselves that selling technology to schools equals good, thus they are doing good, and the actual learning and education part just magically happens when good people with good thoughts are present, and sprinkled with technology dust.

In my experience most people are mostly unable to question their belief in technology. Historically, I have had many waves of belief in technology which have proved misplaced. One signal I have developed to help me understand when my emotions are out of place is that if I get hot and bothered when I receive criticism, I probably should check myself. If my belief in technology cannot endure criticism (constructive or not), then I am probably not on firm ground with my beliefs–resolute in what I’m doing. It is something I’ve had to work on and train myself to see and understand, and a skill I find to be non-existent, or at least underdeveloped in many mainstream technoogists, and a condition that is easily avoided when you wrap your technoogical efforts in a mission, and wrap it in a shroud of “doing good”.

I spend each day listening to Audrey talk about education. She is very critical. Which our kids deserve. The bar should be very high. Her number one priority is education and learning. Her number two priority is the technology we employ in the classroom. I know that her critics feel she is critical and negative by default, but this belief is more about their position, than it is about hers. They are too focused on their marketplace of ideas, products, and services in the education space. They might believe they are about learning and education, but their priorities are often times technology first, and learning and education second. From this position, all they hear is negative blah, blah, blah. Making these concerns more about them, than they are about here, but then again, you can really see that in other wording they use regarding “respecting” her work or not, that there is an additional layer of this conversation–putting outspoken women in their place.