Balancing my old, green suitcase next to me, I scanned my surroundings. A restroom must be nearby, I thought to myself. As fate would have it, my search didn’t last long. Across from Starbuck’s, I spotted the sign.
Wading through dupattas, yarmulkes, turbans, baseball caps, men, women, and children – the sea of diversity that is Newark Liberty International Airport – I finally arrived at my temporary destination.
Once inside, I saw it. It was located just above the automatic hand dryer. The sign read, “How was your experience?” Just beneath this question were three round buttons: happy face (green), ambivalent face (yellow), and sad face (red). Data, I thought. They’re collecting data on . . . the cleanliness of the airport restroom? That was my best guess, anyway.
Immediately, I thought about the people who actually do the work of maintaining restroom facilities in an airport. How hard they must work. And I thought about those collecting and analyzing the performance data being collected on airline customers. Of course, concurrently this made me think about the current state of affairs in public schools, how we as teachers are constantly being asked to collect data on our students. And I get it. John Hattie says, “Know they impact.” It makes sense. We do need to know where are students are in relation to visions of high level work.
But I worry sometimes. Like the restroom smiley and sad faces, have we gone too far? Could someone lose their job if too many sad faces are pushed? Has all this data collection removed some of the humanity we once enjoyed?
I pulled my hands from beneath the dryer and pushed the green button. Who knows, maybe I helped somebody out that day.