Tuesday, August 29, 2006

BF Skinner vs My Career

I had my fourth interview with the online early reading company last week. This time I met with the CTO and the President. I'd already met with the CEO and the Director of Instruction as well as quite a few of the staff on earlier occasions, and those interviews had gone swimmingly. This interview was going well too (it probably helps that I truly enjoy interviewing!), with the CTO and I discussing -- and yes dissing just a bit -- my current employer. It was a comfortable, personanable, informative discussion and I had a feeling that a job offer would be coming way the minute VC funding came through (which was expected any second). My last interview of the day, and of the process, took place with the president and founder of the company, a nice man, though not someone I'd describe as overtly friendly. Within a split second of sitting down, Joe seemed to launch into a tirade of sorts regarding the company's approach, which is purely 100% Skinnerian. That is, they believe that kids learn much the way pigeons do -- via sheer stimulus and response, positive and negative reinforcement. In this case, and for this company, this translates into sheer CLICKS. The company counts and analyzes every single one of millions of clicks and forms their entire product -- and philosophy -- around them. Environment and motivation and individual personality and abilities be damned; what counts is the CLICK.

This is about as different from my philosophy about kids and learning as you can get! Yet the company touts the ONLY guarantee to teach a kid reading in the entire industry. The method works -- if the click is the measure of true reading and comprehension. And so, assuming a job offer comes my way, I'm in a bit of a quandary! Especially because the Aussie job didn't come through (yes, I AM shocked)... Could I work for a company whose basic philosophy I disagree with? Hell, I'm doing it now and I'm miserable!

Things are looking... interesting! :-/

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