A reader writes:

What grabbed me was this part:
“electrodermal activity that grows higher during states such as excitement, attention or anxiety and lower during states such as boredom or relaxation.”

So, this means that they can’t tell the difference between excitement, attention and anxiety? So all you have to do is keep a class in constant fear and you ace the evaluation? It also can’t tell the difference between boredom and relaxation. So if you’re doing “sustained silent reading,” which is it? Are students supposed to be “on” all the time?

I’m not a teacher, and even I can see that this is a huge steaming pile. But it got them a $500K grant! Nice work if you can get it – and stomach it.

Let’s see now. The teacher who keeps the class in a state of high anxiety gets points on the “effectiveness” scale. The teacher whose students are feeling at ease in the classroom will get a low rating.

If this reader saw through this flaw, why did no one at the Gates Foundation?

Last night, I googled “galvanic response skin” and got thousands of hits. It is happening, it has many uses apparently.

But surely you can see how it can be used to mine classroom data, to find out whose students sit on the edge of their seats in a state of alertness, attention and anxiety, and whose are slacking off.

Data mining is now a customary part of the business of online corporations who record our every move, which web pages we open, which products we buy online, which books we are interested in. All of this information is assembled, filtered, and compressed into a personalized profile, so that advertisers can target us with their messages wherever we go on the ‘Net. No point advertising automobile products to me, but they will be just right for someone else. Once gathered, this information can be sold and resold.

Once you understand the template, you can understand the logic of the Galvanic Response Skin bracelets. They will be one more piece of “objective” data to add to test scores, student surveys, and observations when evaluating a teacher. He or she may contest the observations, but how can they protest the objective readings of students’ skin responses to instructions?

And think of the professional development opportunities! Soon there will be workshops on how to increase your students’ GRS ratings. And there will be trained GSR facilitators and GSR measurement experts and GSR coaches.

It all fits so nicely with the U.S. Department of Education’s huge investment in data warehouses for every state. Before long, there will be a statistical profile for every student, compiled from their vital statistics at birth to their pre-kindergarten readiness assessments to everything that happens thereafter.

And to what end?