Opponents of the progressive-education elitists on issues such as the Common Core scheme are routinely accused of spouting paranoid conspiracy theories. This smear is particularly common in discussing technology-driven “digital learning.” It’s ridiculous, educrats say, to suggest that schools — meaning the government —and their corporate ed-tech allies will be probing the psyches of our children. Track children’s eye movements or scan their brains? That’s crazy talk!
Except that federally funded researchers now brag about doing just that.
Ed Week reports that Carnegie Mellon University researchers are using brain scans to create computer software to adapt to what a student is actually thinking as he solves math problems. The premise is this:
Researchers can now use brain-imaging techniques to identify the mental stages humans go through while solving math problems. From there, they can use machine-learning algorithms to find the connections between patterns of human brain activity and patterns in the data generated by students as they interact with math software. Armed with that information, the researchers hope, they can build better educational software programs capable of quickly detecting how students are attempting to solve a given problem, then responding in a personalized way.
For years the U.S. Department of Education (USED) has promoted this cutting-edge research, in pursuit of “transforming” education by “personalizing” it. One report – “Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance” — describes USED’s goals in creepy detail. The Grit report explains how a child’s emotions, such as frustration, anxiety, and boredom, “may be measured through analysis of facial expressions, EEG brain wave patterns, skin conductance, heart rate variability, posture, and eye-tracking” (p. 41).
Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins are both senior fellows at American Principles Project.