I am a writer, a scholar, and a serial dropout. Once upon a time, I was known as “ed-tech's Cassandra." Now, my coach says I'm a "multi-sport athlete."
Way back in junior high school, I took an aptitude test that gave me a single career option: freelance writer. I remember feeling rather panicky at the time, wondering how the hell I’d manage to pull it off. For a long time I did.
Until I couldn’t.
My son Isaiah died of an opioid overdose in May 2020, just a month or so into the COVID pandemic. It broke me. Although everyone wanted to talk about the move to “Zoom School,” I couldn’t face repeating the critiques I’d leveled at ed-tech for years. There’s no pleasure in being a Cassandra.
If my junior high school self would have balked at my becoming a writer, she’d have never ever believed I'd become an athlete. I never participated in any sports growing up; I have terrible eyesight, and I couldn’t catch a ball if it was tossed right into my hand. Indeed, I do not have a high school diploma because I did not have the requisite PE credits to graduate. But since Isaiah’s passing, I have found great solace in sport. I started powerlifting — it makes for a nice metaphor, if nothing else: “lifting heavy things.” I started running. I love running, and damn if I'm not pretty good at it.
So now I'm back...
My new writing project, Second Breakfast, will officially launch in June 2023. Second Breakfast will explore the history of the future of food and fitness technologies. In it, I will continue my work as a technology critic, desperately hoping no one labels me a Cassandra this time around, even though I'm still very likely to still point out the folly in the latest trends and gadgetry. The newsletter will publish three times a week, with recipes, essays, and a round-up of the latest news about health “innovation.” I'll write about my experiences as a new, post-menopausal athlete; I'll write about my experiences running, lifting, and cooking/eating. And as its subtitle says, I'll also document how I get through the mo(u)rning.
My writing has appeared in multiple places, but I am still best known for my blog Hack Education. I've published four collections of my public talks, The Monsters of Education Technology (2014), The Revenge of the Monsters of Education Technology (2015), The Curse of the Monsters of Education Technology (2016), and The Monsters of Education Technology 4, as well as a book arguing that students should control their digital identities and digital work, Claim Your Domain. My book Teaching Machines (MIT Press) examines the pre-history of personalized learning.
I was a recipient of a Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship at Columbia University School of Journalism for the 2017-2018 academic year.
Image credits: Alan Levine, Bryan Mathers; Updated May 2023