Hey you corporate bastard who’s never taught a class in your life, get the fuck out of my classroom!

I’m mad. I’ve been mad about this issue for a while. If only you could be a Daddy Long-legs on the wall of my home sometimes, you’d hear just how mad Lee and I are about this. It’s an anger that needs to be expressed in a public forum beyond Twitter. And this is as public as I can get, being a lowly teacher and all.

Me and my crazy educator buddies on Twitter have been experimenting with technology to assist our students’ learning for many, many years now. Some experiments have succeeded, others have failed dramatically (like me trying to use wikis, lol). This blog has been going since 2009, which is when I started using Twitter to connect to those other crazy educators like me. It’s always been a place to reflect on and share my learning and the learning of my students. I’ve always been happy to share resources and ideas – just like the hundreds of other Aussie teacher bloggers out there. There’s never been anything behind this sharing other than learning. It’s never been from financial profit. We’ve always had fun watching each other grow and learning from our shared journeys. But this wholesome way of learning is being poisoned by some less than scrupulous humans and it pisses me off.

In the last five years there has been a disgustingly rapid increase in the number of humans wanting to profit from my learners, your learners, all learners. In the early days when ‘edutech’ wasn’t even a noun or adjective, there was simply a range of web-based tools and software that we teachers used or experimented with to support student learning and to give them an audience. These tools weren’t ‘marketed’ to educators, they were ‘found’ by us and used to enhance our students’ learning experiences. You know, and I know, that this is NOT the case anymore. Our freedom to think and choose and experiment is under attack. Why? Because the people in power in our schools (and sometimes our colleagues or even we ourselves) are being taken in by the edu conmen, the snake oil sellers, the homeopaths of the eduworld. Our schools are being bombarded daily via phone, email, social media, the post and in person by salesmen promising the latest in edutech ideas, gadgets, platforms, software and teaching strategies. They lure their victims with the soft caress of inviting phrases like ’21st century learner’, ‘neuroscience proves’, ‘60% of all learning is visual’, ‘the plastic brain’, ‘multiple intelligences’, ‘online automated assessment’, ‘student engagement’ and ‘online learners’. There seems to be no escape from these purveyors of promises.

So what’s my beef? You may be asking yourself, ‘Why are you so angry, Bianca?’ Well here’s, why, because these dirt bags haven’t even spent a single day teaching in a classroom. None! They sit in their little offices, brightened by multi-coloured furniture (think beanbags the colours of lolly pops) and think up ways to make money from those ‘gullible teachers’. They see us and our students as potential dollars in their account. They see us as tech dinosaurs needing to be saved by their revolutionary product. They PRETEND that they know something about education BECAUSE THEY WENT TO SCHOOL ONCE! I kid you not. It’s embarrassing that adults could believe that having been to school as a student (or being a parent of school-aged children) gives them the knowledge and experience to design products to improve education and then sell them to us. Um, no. You can’t. They even stoop so low as to invade our online PLNs with the sole purpose of getting our assistance to improve their products – you know, the products that they’re then going to try to sell back to us!!

Will this post solve this problem? Hell no. Of course it won’t. I’m not saying that I don’t want people innovating to enhance education – that would be daft. I’m saying that if you are an edutech start-up or whatever, think about enlisting humans with actual teaching experience – not in a ‘can we have a chat so I can pick your brains’ kind of way, in a genuine employee way. You know, if you value teachers enough to wanna ‘solve their problems’, then maybe you could have some working on your team for real. Better yet, why not spend a few days or weeks working closely with teachers.

Oh, and finally. If you have never been a teacher, don’t take a job in a field that you know nothing about. You can only lie for so long. Teachers are smart. We’ll smell the snake oil and make you look like the charlatan that you are.

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12 thoughts on “Hey you corporate bastard who’s never taught a class in your life, get the fuck out of my classroom!

  1. You are such a breath of fresh air.

    Yes, I know. Each day (weekends included) I receive 10-20 emails and a least a couple cold call voice mails hoping I’ll notice them, wanting us to buy the latest tech drivel. I enjoyed your rant because I gave up having any feelings about all those communications I delete each day, but it was nice to renew the sense of outrage with you, BH. Keep up the good work.

    And in case the suits are reading, I don’t open those emails, so you may as well save your databases the trouble.

  2. Yes. and more Yes. You know the emails that are all like, “I read your blog and it is soooooo good! You might like to write a post about our excellent service/product that seems RIGHT up your alley” – can you believe I used to actually reply to those??!

    • Yup! Been getting heaps of these lately – really shits me off because you feel kinda guilty for ignoring them. I don’t respond any more. It’s kind rude of them, not us, right?

  3. A very heartfelt and atheist amen to every word above. I’m a teacher, I love technology, I try to embed it as much as I can in my teaching and my students’ learning but I don’t want filthy corporate miracle potion selling charlatans scheming to satisfy their limitless greed with my students.

    • Absolutely! I think it’s important that we, as teachers, ensure that our executive appreciate that we know what technology we want to use, as well as when and why.

  4. Your post is crazy accurate about the expanding market of edtech and everyone wanting a cut, but how do you filter out those who are somewhat genuine?

    I’m not exactly a corporate suite, but I write apps for teachers. I spent 4 years in an undergrad teaching double degree and now working on a masters. But how would you know that if you didn’t follow me on twitter? Would it even be believable if that was the first sentence in a contact email?

    How, if any way, can I genuinely reach teachers without sounding preachy, or being instantly disregarded because you assume I’ve never been in a classroom?

    • Hey Lucas – thanks for your comment. It’s so important that we have this dialogue, sometimes I think those outside of education but working to design/sell products to educators forget that dialogue with us is important. I think that’s your answer, really, talking to people … ensuring that they know what your experience/training is and what your intentions are. You respect teachers not because you want to make money from them, but because you genuinely feel that you are working with them to enhance the learning experiences of all students. Dialogue. Important.

  5. It’s a good thing you don’t feel strongly about this!!

    But you have a really good point, I think. I wonder how you would react to what they are doing in Uruguay right now (I just blogged about it, by the way – jeremyharmer.wordpress.com).

    People (publishers etc) have always made money out of education. Hell, I make most of my living from educational book sales….. but the digital age changes the picture a bit, I think. Corporations (once were publishing houses) are trying to sell straight into the kids’ heads, straight into the classroom.

    How should/do teachers cope with that, I wonder And – to go back to my earlier point – how very different, really, is this from what publishers etc have always done?

    Jeremy

    • It’s a really valid point … publishers have been doing this for years. I guess the biggest difference is that technology appears as kind of magical to some school leaders. If a leader lacks confidence in the area of technology, they are easy prey for the snake oil seller, imho. I was very upset with the publishers in Australia who started selling books about our new curriculum when it was still in draft mode – in my state we don’t even teach the curriculum straight!
      Thanks for your comment, got me thinking!

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