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Radical Education Reading Forum meets ATF: Reading on Hack culture and Data gathering in schools

23rd February 2015 @ 7:15 pm - 9:15 pm

Tonight we will be a collaborating with the Common House’s own Autonomous Tech Fetish (ATF), to explore where Hack culture and analysis meet with radical pedagogies and analysis.

*The Reading*:

On hack culture, a brilliant short story:

0wn0red by Corey Doctorow,


On data gathering this rather grim article:

“Continuous Quality Measurement: restructuring assessment for a new technological and organisational environment,” by Welsh et al.


The first aspect we want to discuss is the relation between hacking and pedagogy. Hacking is a practice widely regarded in the digital world as both non-normative, even deviant computing and is commonly practiced, as for instance when someone cracks a phone’s software to install programs or an operating that would otherwise not be possible. The term has been more generally applied to everyday life—as in “lifehack.” Its aim is to work around a variety of obstacles to achieve a specific goal or to produce a significant difference in the material organisation of things. People hack websites, computers, code, interfaces, and increasingly this is done for specifically political (not always of course emancipatory) projects. It is a broad term whose orientation is perhaps best understood through the DIY (or DIcollectively!) ethos of famous hackers like Aaron Swartz and Anonymous. Its aim is to empower people to question the often hidden codes and protocols that govern algorithmic capital. In terms of radical pedagogy, the question is perhaps not how to teach hacking but how to engage with this ethos while co-learning capacities and strategies for politicised and collective workarounds. There is for instance scope to consider teaching practices that engage and empower students and teachers to consider information technology from a non-technical perspective, as a set of protocols and interfaces that can be reverse engineered, modulated, mutated, and thus potentially tied to political projects for social and economic emancipation.

Part of this from ATF’s perspective is to address the perceptual norms that computing today enforce, and how to queer those interfaces and technologies (both perceptually and technically) to the point of their complete reimagining as free and open source technologies that can and must be changed.


‘a shockingly original glimpse of 21st-century mankind tottering at the brink of a mortally steep cliff, is a polemic on fair-use freedom. By relentlessly exposing disenchanted Silicon Valley dwellers caught in a military-industrial web of khaki money, Congress-critters and babykiller projects, Doctorow explores the intersection of social concern and technology’

The second area, is the role of data gathering, information tracking, tagging, metadata coding, student assessment, and performance evaluation in primary and secondary schooling in the UK (and the global North more generally). This area of enquiry and action is to understand first of all how data is generated from the coded behaviour of students, and how these protocols, interfaces, and surveillance and control techniques affect how teachers teach, and how students learn today.

‘QMS provides the many and diverse programmes and units at the University of Louisville with a common platform for articulating a philosophy and strategy of assessment’ – with RadEd we discussed elements of this at a previous reading group session, discussing Grace Lee Boggs’ paradigm shift of education, who critiques policies such as ‘no child left behind’ (US equivalent of ‘every child matters’), under which assessment measurements like QMS have been mass introduced, and basically meant that a lot more children fail school as they did not fit the new, now measurable criteria.

If you are interested in these topics, we also have a more extensive reading list, email us!



If you have suggestions of texts/practices we could look at, about education/radical pedagogy etc please email: radicaleducationforum@riseup.net


23rd February 2015
7:15 pm - 9:15 pm
Event Category:


Radical Education Forum


Common House
Unit E, 5 Pundersons Gardens, Bethnal Green
London, E29QG United Kingdom
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