I’m not writing about the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon, Marvel or Harry Potter. This blog is about how high-tech companies like Google use kids and schools to grab market shares and promote their brands and the negative consequences. On May 14, 2017, a front-page article in the New York Times reported on “How Google Took Over The USA Classroom.” According to the article, “Google, a unit of the $652 billion Alphabet, is the latest big contender in a decades-old battle among tech companies to hook students as future customers.”
The report focused on one particular school in Chicago. “The sixth graders at Newton Bateman, a public elementary school here with a classic red brick facade, know the Google drill. In a social-science class last year, the students each grabbed a Google-powered laptop. They opened Google Classroom, an app where teachers make assignments. Then they clicked on Google Docs, a writing program, and began composing essays… Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest school district in the United States, with about 381,000 students, is at the forefront of a profound shift in American education: the Googlification of the classroom.
Google has been out-pacing its rivals at Apple and Microsoft in school sales by bypassing district leadership and promoting its products directly to teachers. It has also been using data it collects from students and teachers using its products to enhance its ability to provide better serves – which means sell them more stuff.
In case you mistakenly think this is all being done to improve instruction and benefit children preparing them for a future high-tech world, listen to Jonathan Rochelle, director of Google’s education apps group. Last year, in a speech to a tech industry conference, Rochelle joked that he didn’t understand why children were still learning how to solve quadratic equations in school, because they can always “ask Google for the answer.”
Not only does Google prepare students for a life of ignorance and total dependence on its products to think for them, but it does it by making a lot of money. The Times concluded that “Schools may be giving Google more than they are getting” Not only does Google make $30 per device by charging for “management services” for the millions of Chromebooks that it ship to schools, but it is acquiring generations of future customers. Google promises to protect data on ad-free student accounts, but not the personal Gmail sites students sign up for and that contain highly desired directed advertising.
If you want to know the world Google is preparing your children for, watch ‘The Matrix’. In the Google future, every individual may have to decide whether they want to swallow the blue pill of blind ignorance and submission to the Gods of Google or they are willing to take the red pill and risk living in a non-Google universe where humans are still permitted to think and feel. Will you be Neo or Mr. Anderson?
Puzzling Question: In Chicago schools overall, 4% of the students are Asian, 10% are White, 38% are Black, and 47% are Hispanic. The student population at Newton Bateman Elementary School in Chicago is 2.4% Black, 4.5% Asian, 10.6% White, and 80.3% Hispanic. How did the New York Times and Google manage a photo where most of the students look White?
Quadratic Equations: Sorry Neo, I confess I entered The Matrix to look it up on Google. In a quadratic equation ax2 + bx + c = 0. A, B, and C are numbers and A cannot be 0. Quadratic equations can be plotted as a curve on a graph. For example, x2 + 3x – 4 = 0. That factors (changes) into (x + 4)(x – 1) = 0. The solution is x = –4, x = 1. Google sent me to a website that plotted the graph for me.