Students on a theater trip in Iceland.

Media, Comms, Global Change (MCGC)

The ‘Entrepreneur:’ Educating Americans for the Digital Age

University Room: David T. McGovern Grand Salon (C-104)
David T. McGovern Grand Salon (C-104) | 6, rue du Colonel Combes 75007
Friday, May 3, 2019 - 15:30

How are digital technologies and the internet changing the values of the American public education system, the core institution for the production of the modern citizen? Kouross Esmaeli will discuss his research in the New York City public school ecosystem, and the relationship between the increasing digitization and privatization of public education. Search engines are replacing library research, digitized textbooks arrive on Apple iPads, Google Classroom becomes a basic tool of communication between students and teachers, and private testing companies gather and own psychometric ‘big data’ on individual students. For-profit technology in the classroom is transforming the educational process: quantitative data is replacing teacher-subjective judgment, testing is becoming the dominant form of assessment, and schools are producing consumers and entrepreneurs instead of citizens, as the values of tech companies--self-monitoring, risk-taking, and uncritical optimism--become dominant in the classroom. These values saturate the educational space, encouraging a form of 'entrepreneurialism' that serves this confluence of technology and the profit motive. The ‘entrepreneur’ becomes the ideal final product of public education and continues the legacy of other cultural heroic figures in earlier periods of the development of American society: the ‘pioneer,’ the ‘settler,’ the ‘cowboy,’ and the ‘rags-to-riches tycoon.’

About the speaker

Kouross Esmaeli is a researcher, educator, and media activist, currently a visiting professor at the American University of Beirut. He received his PhD from NYU’s Department of Media, Culture and Communication in 2018. His current book project, Testing Technology: Digital Mediation of Education in New York City is an ethnographic study of the changing position of teachers and students in light of the increasing use of digital educational technologies in the NYC public schools. As a media maker and activist he has produced short and medium length documentaries for Democracy Now, Aljazeera, MTV (US), and Press TV profiling the politics and people of Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and the United States. His current research interests include the position and image of the “entrepreneur" in our contemporary technophilic culture. 


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