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“Cop Shit”

Originally from blog post by Jeffrey Moro. I came across Jeffrey’s post via this Audrey Watters “presentation”. Both writing in the US context.

Thesis: abolish copy shit in the classroom – Jeffrey We must abolish “cop shit,” recognizing that almost all of ed-tech is precisely that. – Audrey

Defining “Cop Shit”


For the purposes of this post, I define “cop shit” as “any pedagogical technique or technology that presumes an adversarial relationship between students and teachers.” Here are some examples:

  • ed-tech that tracks our students’ every move
  • plagiarism detection software
  • militant tardy or absence policies, particularly ones that involve embarassing our students, e.g. locking them out of the classroom after class has begun
  • assignments that require copying out honor code statements
  • “rigor,” “grit,” and “discipline”
  • any interface with actual cops, such as reporting students’ immigration status to ICE and calling cops on students sitting in classrooms.

Why so much “cop shit”

From both Jeffrey and Audrey

Causality and effect


I don’t think that ed-tech created “cop shit” in the classroom or created a culture of surveillance in schools by any means. But it has facilitated it. It has streamlined it. It has polished it and handed out badges for those who comply with it and handed out ClassDojo demerits for those who haven’t. … …as with so much in ed-tech - the actual tech itself may be a distraction from the conversation we should have about what we actually want teaching and learning to look like.

What can be done

Audrey’s suggestions


Wonder if there’s something like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs driving teacher and institutional move toward cop shit? We’re already having a difficult time because of cost-cutting, increasing diversity etc. In a time of hassle we’re looking to get some basic stuff right. Hence the lure of quick fixes for “law breaking”.

Rather then “do not collect data” should it be “ask students to share data and explanin what/why”? Driven by a conception of trying to understand their activity/experience and response as teachers? Have a conception of learning and teaching where teachers are their to help?

Too techno-solutionism?