Stay Free! | 25 September 2000
stayfree at metalab.unc.edu
Mon Sep 25 00:42:28 EDT 2000
As we make our way through the new millenium, it's time to stop and
seriously consider who we would rather have overtake the planet: robots or
monkeys. Obviously robots have the edge, particularly after the recent loss
of Miss Waldron's Red Colobus (a large West African monkey) to extinction.
But there are signs that a monkey victory is not out of the question. Last
week saw not one but two attacks by our fellow primates on the
(AP) Three monkeys hurl bananas and crab apples at cars (and a cop) on
Interstate 95, then flee into the woods.
An army of angry monkeys surrounded a baby monkey hit by a car on a busy
road in northeastern India, bringing traffic to a dead halt, witnesses say.
(from Agence France Presse)
Skeptics will say that a monkey victory is unrealistic, so I guess I should
say that the real source of my optimism lies elsewhere, in the
as-of-yet-unapproved NYC Board of Education's "Learning in Cyberspace"
business plan. I'm not really sure how to explain it but trust me -- if you
all could read this plan, you'd be hoping for a monkey rebellion, too.
For the past year, the NYC Board of Ed has been working with Anderson
Consulting, IBM, Compac, and others on a for-profit deal to will fully
integrate technology into the public school curriculum. Fourth graders get
laptops, the companies, a captive audience for e-commerce, co-branding, and
targeted marketing opportunities. The plan promises to shift NYC schools
away from "Conventional Instruction" which it describes as "Teacher
directed" to "Reform Instruction" characterized by "Student exploration"
with "Teachers as facilitator."
The Board of Ed claims that the student Education Zone will be
"commercialfree" and yet the plan is loaded with charts calculating NYC
students' "lifetime customer value." And the curriculum? In the new Reform
model, it's known as "content," the quality of which is guaged by
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