Readers of this blog are aware of the controversy surrounding the Gates-funded research into the uses of a device to monitor students’ and possibly teachers’ physiological reactions in the classroom. The device is called a “galvanic skin response” monitor. It would be a bracelet with wireless sensor that students would wear to measure how engaged or disengaged they are while in class. The Gates Foundation has spent $1.4 million to sponsor research on this project at Clemson, the National Commission on Time & Learning, and some other unnamed facility. The Clemson grant was described on the Gates website as part of the MET project, implying that it would be used to evaluate teachers, but the foundation said that was not correct and changed the description on the website.
There has been quite a lively discussion of this research on my blog, with a few people saying they welcomed the bracelet and the research and wanted to learn more about the physiological reactions of students, but most saying they thought this was a bad idea, for various reasons. I personally object to the Big Brother aspect of the project, as well as to the suggestion that “learning” can be measured by physiological reactions rather than by that yet-unmeasurable thing called understanding.
In a sign of the intelligence with which this project has been developed, the bracelet is referred to as “an engagement pedometer,” even though a pedometer measures steps and is not worn on the arm.
This is one teacher’s reaction. I liked it. I think you will too. Unless you are one of those who wants to measure students’ skin temperature and whatever emotional responses can be recorded on a bracelet.
As an experienced teacher who admires her students, I don’t need a bracelet to tell me when they are: bored, confused, excited, tired, interested, etc. I know them as individuals with strengths, weaknesses, aspirations and dreams. I find this insulting and another way to turn the art of teaching into an exact science that can be manned by Stepford test prep drones or teach for a while recruits. Gates continues to demean and insult the teaching profession, one he knows nothing about. Just because he is a billionaire, it is assumed he is a expert on all topics and all professions. Bill and Melinda and the rest of the faux reformers should give up three years of their lives and work on the front line teaching public school children……plan the lessons, monitor their progress, grade papers, chart the data, enrich for the talented and gifted while individualizing and differentiating for those who struggle, attend 504 meetings, PPT’s, parent conferences, district workshops. It is time for them to walk the walk and then let’s plan to talk some more about the teaching profession.