Apr 7, 2018
ELW

The National Pulse: OECD Pushes Facebook-Style Personality Profiling of Students Worldwide

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As we hear more about the data mining operations of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, we are also finding out that Facebook and other organizations are data mining and psychologically profiling our children. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Effrem’s article at the National Pulse discussing this newest threat to student data privacy:

Now we are also learning that even financial publications are warning about the cancerous spread of social emotional learning (SEL) assessment and profiling on a global scale. The eight-hundred-pound gorilla in this process is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the developer of the PISA international comparison test. The Middle East North Africa Financial Network (MENAFN) has chronicled OECD’s machinations in this realm in an article entitled, “Why education is embracing Facebook-style personality profiling for schoolchildren.”

The article describes how both Facebook/Cambridge Analytica and OECD have developed and are using personality surveys based on the “Big Five” personality traits — “openness,” “conscientiousness,” “extroversion,” “agreeableness,” and “neuroticism” or (OCEAN). The brand new, upcoming 2019 OECD international Study on Social Emotional Learning for middle and high school students is described as a “computer-based self-completion questionnaire” that will assess students on these traits. The common foundation of this new OECD test and the Cambridge Analytica personality test are the same.

The purpose of the OECD test is for workforce development, which uses inaccurate predictive testing of this subjective SEL to steer students toward career paths they may not want and close off others:

The assumption behind the test is that social and emotional skills are important predictors of educational progress and future workplace performance. Large-scale personality data is therefore presumed by the OECD to be predictive of a country’s potential social and economic progress.

Several of the dangers of this concept were discussed:

There are of course many dangers and problems with this approach that we have frequently addressed, such as here and here. These include:

Lack of agreement by researchers on what SEL really is and how to measure it;
SEL’s subjective nature;
The danger of this inaccurate data having eternal life in longitudinal databases endangering future schooling, careers, military service, and gun ownership;
That SEL data can and has been used for political purposes, endangering freedom of conscience; and
Sharing of data without consent between government agencies and between government and private entities.

Interestingly, the MENAFN article also lists some important problems, which is somewhat surprising given the usual focus of these types of publications on markets and profits:

It risks reframing public education in terms of personality modification, driven by the political race for future economic advantage, rather than the pursuit of meaningful knowledge and understanding. It treats children as little indicators of future labour markets, and may distract teachers from other curriculum aims.
As education consultant Joe Nutt wrote in the Times Educational Supplement last year, ‘If you make data generation the goal of education then data is what you will get. Not quality teaching.’

I also have covered the effort by OECD to begin this personality molding, assessment, and data mining in the preschool years. Even more dangerous is the idea posited in their 2015 report about coordinating between government and family to develop the proper, government-required attitudes:

Policy makers, teachers, parents and researchers can help expand children’s growth potential by actively engaging in skill development within the domains that they are responsible for. However, given that “skills beget skills”, education policies and programmes need to ensure coherence across learning contexts (i.e. family, school and the community) and stages of school progression (i.e. across primary, lower secondary and upper secondary schooling). This is an important way to maximise the returns to skills investment over the life cycle.

We must protect our children’s privacy and our national sovereignty at the same time!

Read the whole article HERE.

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