[CITAMS] New Book: Disruptive Fixation: School Reform and the Pitfalls of Techno-Idealism

Christo Sims chsims at ucsd.edu
Tue Jun 6 18:53:47 EDT 2017

Apologies for cross-posting and excuse the self-promotion.

I'm writing to announce that my first solo-authored book, *Disruptive
Fixation: School Reform and the Pitfalls of Techno-Idealism
<https://goo.gl/sVqyJV>*, has recently been released by Princeton
University Press. Centered on an ethnographic case study of an ambitious
attempt to reinvent schooling for the digital age, the book examines the
promises and pitfalls of educational disruption, specifically, and
techno-philanthropism, more generally.

Free PDF of the Introduction <https://goo.gl/ufqWpy>.

*From the publisher:*

Sims shows how the philanthropic possibilities of new media technologies
are repeatedly idealized even though actual interventions routinely fall
short of the desired outcomes—often dramatically so. He traces the complex
processes by which idealistic tech-reform perennially takes root, unsettles
the worlds into which it intervenes, and eventually stabilizes in ways that
remake and extend many of the social predicaments reformers hope to fix.
Sims offers a nuanced look at the roles that powerful elites, experts, the
media, and the intended beneficiaries of reform—in this case, the students
and their parents—play in perpetuating the cycle.

*Disruptive Fixation* offers a timely examination of techno-philanthropism
and the yearnings and dilemmas it seeks to address, revealing what failed
interventions do manage to accomplish—and for whom.


"The chronicle of a failure foretold, this remarkably reflexive ethnography
of a project aiming at reinventing education via digital devices,
managerial transformations, and philanthropic initiatives is an important
fable for our times of techno-idealism. Its sobering morality is a call for
modesty, lucidity, and honesty with regards to the permanent request for
innovation, the immoderate pretension to avant-gardism, and the
inflationary rhetoric of cutting-edge research, from which the social
sciences themselves are not exempt."-- *Didier Fassin, Institute for
Advanced Study in Princeton*

"Sims's book is rich in conceptual tools for analyzing school reform
movements. It offers a brilliant explanation for their persistent failures.
He argues that projects of reform move through ‘cycles of disruptive
fixation' that consolidate rather than dissolve class, racial, and gendered
inequities. He punctures the hype about techno-philanthropic nostrums for
what ails public education. Though some of what he has to tell us is hard
to hear, his searching critique is clearly the work of a scholar of
concerned and generous spirit. The book should be required reading for
anyone who finds themselves the agent or target of similarly misguided
benevolence."-- *Jean Lave, University of California, Berkeley*

"A first-of-its-kind addition to the field. Sims gives us a rich and
nuanced picture of the everyday, even mundane ways that privilege and
inequity insinuate themselves into an ambitious reformist project, often
undermining intentions. He astutely and sympathetically shows how all
involved often end up reproducing patterns and structures they set out to
challenge."— *T. L. Taylor, author of Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the
Professionalization of Computer Gaming *

"How do the engines of educational reform so often drive us back to the
status quo? Decades ago, the computer industry promised us the tools to
transform our schools. Why haven't they worked? In this richly researched
analysis, Christo Sims answers these questions and points the way toward
new and more effective modes of technological intervention. This book
should be required reading for anyone thinking about learning and
technology today."-- *Fred Turner, Stanford University*

"Christo Sims gives us a front-row seat to an effort to ‘disrupt' public
schooling with new technology. The story that emerges, in all its messy
particularities, shows the way that such efforts often reinforce the very
structures that they set out to change. There are powerful lessons here for
education, but also for those other domains of public life where the
language of technological disruption echoes."-- *Paul Dourish, University
of California, Irvine*
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