Michael saved in Pocket: ‘Automating mistrust’ (Williamson 2019)


‘The acquisition of plagiarism detection company Turnitin for US$1.75 billion, due to be completed later this year, demonstrates how higher education has become a profitable market for education technology companies. As concern grows about student plagiarism and ‘contract cheating’, Turnitin is making ‘academic fraud’ into a market opportunity to extend its automated detection software further. It is monetizing students’ writing while manufacturing mistrust between universities and students, and is generating some perverse side effects.’

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Michael saved in Pocket: ‘Teacherbot: interventions in automated teaching’ (Bayne 2015b)

While considering the implications of moving beyond humanism for education, I am reflecting on this excerpt from Bayne (2015b: 456) and trying to visualise what a ‘creative “gathering”‘ of this kind might look like…

Biesta (1998), for example, has considered a ‘pedagogy without humanism’ to be oriented to the notion of ‘intersubjectivity’ rather than to the ‘bringing out’ of the potential of the individual subject. In this way, our teaching:

‘can retain the communicative intuition of the pedagogical project of Enlightenment; it can also sustain the critique of Critical Pedagogy against any instrumentalization and dehumanization of education. But it has to do all this without a deep truth of what it is to be human.’ (13)

Others are less concerned with the preservation of the Enlightenment project. Edwards, for example, also writing against educational hegemony which privileges the ‘knowing human subject’ (Edwards 2010), suggests that posthumanism inclines us to think towards education as an assemblage of the human and non-human, an ‘entanglement’ in which the purpose of education becomes not one of‘ learning’ but one of a creative ‘gathering’, in which the human subject cannot be seen as separate from the objects of knowledge with which it is concerned. Thus, for Edwards, drawing on the work of Barad (2007), Latour (1993) and Hacking (1983), the ‘post-human condition cannot be one of learning’, since the subject doing the learning and the object ‘being learned’ are no longer readily distinguishable from each other. The work of education then becomes focused on how ‘matters of concern’ (Latour 2004) ‘arise from the work of specific practices and assemblages of the human and non-human’ (Edwards 2010, 9). As Snaza (2013) has expressed it, ‘Recent posthumanist scholarship reveals that the human is not simply a being that is, but a social construction formed and defined in relation to various non-human Others’ (38).

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