Teaching Machines: The Dream of Automating the Teaching Profession Goes Way Back

In episode #43 of Have You Heard, Jennifer and Jack talk to Audrey Watters, expert on all things #edtech, about the age-old quest to automate teaching. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll find yourself reaching for that George Santayana quote about those who don’t know history’s mistakes… Complete transcript is here. And if you’re a fan of Have You Heard and want to help us keep the podcast going, we’ve got a Patreon page now where you can do just that!

On the Rocketship

Richard Whitmire’s new book chronicles a bumpy ride for Rocketship charter schools…

9781118607640.pdfEduShyster: Your book is meant to chronicle the take-off of a high-performing charter school but to me it read more like a cautionary tale. You made the strongest case I’ve seen for why Silicon Valley-style disruption and education are a mismatch. I’m thinking of Rocketship’s decision to blow up its instructional model, making classrooms much larger, in order to generate more revenue for expansion.

Richard Whitmire: There were actually two reasons for that model change. California’s per-pupil spending is $7,500, one of the lowest in the country.The state was cutting back further at that time and delaying payment to charters. Rocketship also felt that it had hit kind of a wall. They’d been able to take these low-income minority kids to the mid 800’s [on the California Academic Performance Index (API)], but they weren’t getting up to the level of the suburban schools. This seemed to solve both of those problems at once. They could save some money and they could do some more personalized learning in this larger classroom.  Continue reading →