Friday, November 13, 2009

Corporate involvement in education okay so long as it's all warm and cuddly

Corporate involvement in public education –– McDonalds, online maths tuition; Raytheon, curriculum devlopment –– is opposed by many on the left, who see such schemes as amounting to state-sanctioned brand-based brainwashing. No complaints when Google's Doodle 4 Google competition targets primary students, however, the ABC News website even featuring what amounts to a five minute advert for the search giant.

The left's failure to react to Google's infiltration of education is puzzling. Sure, unlike McDonalds, Google isn't selling untimely death-inducing food or trying to lure budding engineers into working for Raytheon's armaments division but Google is the dominant gateway to online information. And as we are all aware, controlling information will perhaps be the ultimate source of power in the future.  So I don't know that it's appropriate for schools to act as Google's agent in encouraging students to design an online logo for the company.

Actually, the left's silence is understandable since Google asked students to design a logo expressing their "wish for Australia". Quite naturally, many of the children's designs have an environmental theme, the competition winner, Jessie Du, expressing concern for Australia's fauna:

Our native animals make our great country unique and should they become extinct or threatened this would be appalling to everyone.

In the ABC video Google spokesman Annie Baxter launches a pre-emptive strike on those who might object:

Rather than see this as way of getting children to engage with a commercial brand at a young age we see it as a way of getting children to think about the world around them and engage with an image they're used to and use that as jumping off point for artistic expression.

So this is not so much an effort to instill brand recognition, which already exists, it's meant to reinforce a positive image of the Google brand through involvement. And it encourages that children be artistically creative. Absolutely wonderful!

In my mind this is a much more insidious invasion of our education system than anything so far attempted by the likes of McDonalds and Rayteon, and it only cost Google $10,000.00 in prizes.

The 32 finalists can be viewed here. The overall winner is shown below.


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