Sunday, December 7, 2008

Authority and Ideological Transparency in a Digital World

From the article Viadero, D. (2008). Project Probes Digital Media's Effect on Ethics. Education Week. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from

Article included this video clip of Howard Gardner talking about Project Goodplay, a research project from Harvard Graduate School of Education looking at the effect of digital media on the ethical development of youth. Gardener is concerned about the changing definition of "good worker" and "good citizen".

Education, Social Media, and Ethics: Howard Gardner, Harvard Graduate School of Education from Education Week on Vimeo.

States that ethical standards evolved to manage participation in groups of up to 150 and that we are not prepared, from an evolutionary standpoint, to participate online communities comprised of thousands of people. I'll have to read the original article to see his reference for that "science".

He uses the phrase "young people these days" and if I was doing formal analysis I would probably code such phrases as "status quo defense".

Throughout Gardner refers to the fact that authority is earned because social models were seen as serving the public interest rather than self-interest. He points out that this is now gone and people, especially those with access to channels of information (outside of the traditional mainstream media or academic industrial complex one would assume)no longer automatically credit authority and are much more able to see through ideological agendas. Gardner has a brief rant about Wikipedia and bemoans the superficial nature of online media where students once revered THE TEXT BOOK and THE TEACHER they now look elsewhere for information.

Of course Howard may be a victim of his own conclusions. While his theory of Multiple Intelligences, his position at Harvard and his reputation are the standards of credibility and authority for all matters educational, his ideology is a bit transparent as well. He is very much a defender of the status quo in a consumer culture. He seems bitter that people might put as much credence in a Wikipedia article as they would in his "say so". The irony is that while points out that the standards of authority and credibility have been eroded, we should accept his pronouncements as gospel based on those same standards of authority and credibility.

I'm putting this together with other critical pedagogy articles I'm reading especially relating to Ivan Illich and his views on the collapse of the educational/industrial complex and the emergence of a post-industrial society. The impact that this has had on credentialism and the development of learning webs. From Deschooling Society and Tools for Conviviality.

Gardner' defense of the status quo is obvious in the construction of his study. He asks loaded questions. (although I haven't seen the actual questions I wonder if one goes like this "Do you think it is right to steal copyrighted music?"

In Illich's perspective Wikipedia can be seen as a tool of conviviality, those tools that allow us to self-educate and self-actualize. Gardner's disdain for Wikipedia makes a strong statement about his regard for learning the occurs outside of the radical monopoly formed by industrial education.

Interesting connection between Critical pedagogy, liberation theology, US Black Liberation theology and Rev. Wright. I wonder if this connection will have any influence on the way Obama shapes a renewed education policy for US.

Illich, I. (1971), Deschooling society, Harper & Row New York.

Illich, I. (1973), Tools for Conviviality,Heyday Books, retrieved from

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