How might tech criticism fit into technology edu?


I don’t think it’s lost, it’s just finding the right context, the right crowd where that kind of play is valued. My husband is NOT playful in that way and is NOT the right context, but I have other people who value and love my sense of play so I share it with them, and not so much with him.
So that leads me to the question of how do we foster play as safe and acceptable especially with adults, when we are very serious because that is what being an adult is about… (particularily in paid courses…)
It took me a while to be able to play with my students. I realized my first year, I was a little bit afraid of them, and was hiding behind my big teacher desk so I got rid of it so I’d get over my fears and that helped. Now the teachers’ desk is my inquiry and observation table.
(and my ‘desk’ a little table I try to keep in order…)


I do teach k-6. Sorry I fragmened quote and reply…


I am. That sounds great! Do we want to request a banner announcement from the LCL team to see who would like to join us?


nice furniture hack. did you share it in the “creative spaces” topic? Its a good one.

related: I hate what it does to the class dynamic when I have to run up to the lecturn to show them something online (thats where I have to go to work the computer/projector). I have ways of working around it but still, it’s definitely an of old school set up


Hi @Xanthe_Matychak
unfortunately I was very busy with my son the whole weekend and I’ve just read your reply. If we can arrange for another time, it will be good to share ideas.


I’m slowly going through this Papert paper titled: Computer Criticism vs Technocentric Thinking

In the paper, Papert is proposing …

a genre of writing one could call "computer criticism" by analogy with such disciplines as literary criticism and social criticism. The name does not imply that such writing would condemn computers any more than literary criticism condemns literature or social criticism condemns society.

Seems relevant to this topic, don’t you think? I’ve enabled commenting if you’d like to highlight passages for discussion


“. . . if we are interested in eliminating technocentrism from thinking about computers in education, we may find ourselves having to re-examine assumptions about education that were made long before the advent of computers.” :sake:

is it true, btw, the phrase “critical pedagogy” neither appears in Papert’s paper nor in this topic?


Good point. He does refer to Piaget in drawing a parallel between techcentricism and Piaget’s egocentrism. Not a P expert here but will dig deeper. Open to other’s insights on him.

One a side note, I asked my students to write a story about the person who will use what they are designing. However, half of them wrote about themselves as inventors and designers instead. Egocentrism indeed. When I nudged them to take another pass and write from someone else’s perspective, some came back defensively about why their origin story is better than a story from someone else’s point of view.

“What does better mean, and for whom?” is a question I ask a lot


Revving up the Critical Pedagogy mill & culling grist from this thread, as well as from Papert’s essay. I mention Critical Pedagogy because I’m wondering what happens if we consider tech criticism, as we’ve sorted through it above, in terms of a maieutic pedagogy - something Freire understood extremely well, the heart of CP though sadly somewhat lost in what CP has come to mean (social causes per se appearing in education, rather than the emphasis on a dialogic structure that is in opposition to banking pedagogy). I wonder if any of the heads of state who knew Papert personally know whether he had a perpective on Freire. ?

// I wonder if the narrative prompt your students responded to could be made more playful if one could frame it as a make-believe game, like describe Rashomon and challenge students to come up with a similarly merry-go-roundish story, or set of stories, to accompany their makings. Connecting this to my verbal wanderings above, have you looked at the complex mode of authorship, with multiple heteronyms, that inspired the dialogic in Freire?

EDIT: woops, I forgot to state the relevant quote from SK (who is kind of my SIA so pls stop me if I go on). Anyway, besides the structure of authorship he nursed an aggressive anti-intellectualism and anti-systems mindset, often railing against “The Professor”, by which he meant not people with such a job but rather that aspect of (any of us) which is inclined to treat that which of subjectively important as a sort of trivia (e.g., he likened The Professor to a tapeworm). Seems relevant to the critique of tech, no? The mode of authorship, to be clear, involved writing from many points of view, none of which represented his own, so that a reader would not be able to passively receive or inherit the perspective of the author.


oof. this stuff makes my head hurts a little.

I know some about authorship. My partner teaches poetics so I get a little bit of that stuff. I think your playful recommendation is good. That said, half of the class did perfectly fine with the assignment. And now that I think about it, it’s the half that I see as more reflective but have much less confidence. While the half that struggled with the assignment are less reflective and way more confident. Ain’t it always the way.

Re Paperts paper - his motivation for promoting “Computer Criticism” seems to be more to do with helping people evaluate it contextually and less about what motivates me to promote it. My motivation: I want students to have a healthy skepticism of technology, especially those who go off and become tech entrepreneurs.

Question: What motivates you to integrate tech crit with the maker pedagogy? You have probably stated this already, but I forgot. Like I said, this stuff makes my head hurt a little.


I’ve lost track of what’s above, what’s been written vs. thought etc, but one thing I do recall writing is,

Why would you ever dis-integrate (story from making)? I’d ask that same question of techCrit & making, and of, really, any two things that sh/could be approached more ~somatically.

Crit means care, which is in my edu statement - we make structures of care, both objects/systems, and the architecture of our caring - without which things are insignificant. Significance is utility within a care structure.

// Thanks so much for asking! In addition to this being a great question, this led me to an idea for a provocation for some 5th grade students. I’d been planning a gondola challenge: continuous servo, string, board, design something to go across a room. But your question led me to think that we should have the gondola traverse Plato’s cave, and explore that epistemology, through the 2nd and less well known part of the allegory, where a few dwellers leave the cave, are blinded by sun, then return into the darkness to teach.


Your students are lucky to have such a thoughtful teacher.

It looks like there are some debates between Papert and Freire on youtube

This conversation reminds me of a statement from Allan Chochinov’s design manifesto (I wrote for core77 ages ago). He states something like, “We think we are in the artifact business. But we are not; we are in the consequence business.”


Ditto - thank you for saying so, that’s gratifying to hear (given I am on a karma repair program).

The Papert-Freire convo looks like a rich resource. I love Papert’s opening story/joke about what he learned from Paolo Freire - a story in which a student must ask her teacher how to answer her parent when asked “What did you learn at school today?”

And Freire responds by clarifying humor vs. mocking vs. irony :man_cartwheeling:. . .


I had a mindfulness project idea this morning. I’ve recently recommitted to the habit of listening to one or two chapters of Rick Hansen’s “Hardwiring Happiness” each morning. Do you know it? In the (audio)book he offers 21 focal points for mindfulness practice. They are organized in 3 categories that target 3 different parts of our brain:

  • SAFETY - Reptile – Brainstem, focused on avoiding harm
  • SATISFACTION - Mammal – Subcortex, focused on approaching rewards
  • CONNECTION - Primate/human – Neocortex, focused on attaching to “us”

Anyways I thought it might be fun to do a “making sprint” and make a series of objects that evokes the core of each focal point.

They are listed here:








  7. PEACE
















  7. LOVE


I didn’t read Rick Hansen before but I will check, thank you for informing.
It sounds really good to develop both mindfulness skills and relate it to projects. When I was a student in design school, there was a project asking to design an ‘object of touch’! It was weird for me those days because I was unaware of my choices about the textures that makes me joyful. For the people who are connected to their bodies and aware of themselves, it was easy. But for me it was hard! Now it’s easy and enjoyable to design an object that invites people to touch because I am back in my body and awareness thanks to mindfulness practice.


Totally agree with having a more integrated approach. I think every course, including courses about making and coding, should have some space for tech criticism and history of technology. Seniors I see seniors work on their capstone projects without considering the ethical, cultural and social implications of their work or without thinking about the historical, technical, social, cultural context they are working in.

A few semesters ago I was surprised to see how a group of junior and senior computer science/media arts students engaged with a Contemporary Media theory course. We read Hayles, Hansen and Durham Peters. After the class they were all saying they wished they have had a chance to read more and to have spaces to talk about technology and its implications starting in their Freshman Year. Then they went to make their capstone projects and it was impressive to see how their projects were situated within conversations about technology its implications and contexts.


Thanks for sharing this Luis. I’d love to know more. How and when did you all decide to offer media theory? What concepts did the students gravitate to? How did they address those concepts in their capstones? Do they share their projects online?


Dropping this here: example of a student initiated space for thinking about tech criticism - in this case focusing on AI and ethics: + post from the first discussion here:

If you read through the end of their recap of the first meeting, impressed by the reflective nature of the group (e.g. what worked well, what didn’t, how they plan on iterating moving forward).


Thanks, Yusuf. Were you at the meeting? I, too, am impressed with the reflection in the meeting notes. Thank you for pointing us to it.

Reading through the discussion section of the notes reminded me of the exact moment when I realized that philosophers don’t offer solutions. They articulate problems really well. While that’s totally legit, it frustrates pragmatists who are solutions driven.

The thing is, no one is designated to fill that gap btwn the problems that philosophers articulate and the solutions that are needed to address those problems.

I think point number 5 in the botes (" incentive structure in computer science academia") is an opportunity to bridge that gap through applied research. Certainly, there are many projects shared at SIGGRAPH that explore ethics

I appreciate the proposed “rules for engagement” in the looking forward section of the notes.

Related: Do you know the Balance Table project from David Rose’s lab?

Also related (scribbled this morning)


one more thing. Do you know Jane McGonigal? Her lab makes games that explore neuro plasticity