Localized globalism: why we don’t talk about tech around here

The Brazilian Left used to think it was all about work and workers weren’t in offices with an asshole boss pushing them to beat their sales goal or make sure their trust was unshaken in the affairs of capital exchange. Poor choice of words. My background is a specific service that wasn’t even supposed to be highly monetized, in 2021. A school like Wizard has 30 years of business activity, while Cultura Inglesa has been around for 85. Talk about Wise Up, and it’s 1995. But what students don’t seem to realize is there’s powerful people behind the brands, methodology and course material aside, not to mention the installations: the world’s biggest “education company”, or rather, a “publishing and assessment service”, Pearson, thought it would be only natural to buy big in Brazil, and a 1.7 billion real deal was made in 2013 for controlling its 1270 branches and caring for 500 thousand students, while the profits fell almost 300% in 2016. Despite the fact that global online learning has a reported rise in interest, we hear few words from teachers at the job, student satisfaction and success stories, assessment or certification not even on the table. It might be interesting to remember the British conglomerate has a stake at the Financial Times, and in today’s demand driven scenario, which might sound obvious but involves a lot of people desperate for money on one side and desperate for food and health on another, people are deciding if it’s worth putting their money on it, but nobody really understands how stock works anyway. Funny story: I was at Pearson right at the turn from 2015 to 2016, and I saw another deal: Wise Up getting bought by Carlos Martins, the guy who sold it to Pearson, cashing up a billion real and adding up another two when Itaú, private bank in Brazil, invested in a company with a new name — older and Wiser, if you’ll excuse the pun. The oldest of them, now under Paulo Lemann, who happens to own 91 billion real, announced that it would invest 50 million for “developing global citizens”. So let me see if you actually understand:

  1. Lemann is the 37th richest person in the globe. But that’s just trivia: he’s one of the main players, for lack of a better word, in the non profit organization “Todos Pela Educação” (“Everyone for Education”), but his investment of 50 million means merely 5% of his net worth.
  2. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to translate this video, explaining the pros and cons of investing in Wiser Education (notice the stretch of language), curiously mentioning a “non-partisan” approach while investing in soccer nationwide and in the US as well. He also mentions improvement of public education as a con for investors, which leads me to the next point, I think:
  3. My blog doesn’t have ads.

But what about Instagram?

Instagram is an app created by disappointed Brazilian software engineer Mike Krieger, who sold it for a billion dollars in 2012, and is now worth over 100 times more, Bloomberg reported in 2018; details and trivia about the app can be found here, but questions of morality and policy, if you don’t wanna use the word data, have been discussed by basically every one of its billion users.

My MA research project wanted to point to an increase of online teachers advertising “quick methods”, or 50 second tips, and analyze the phenomenon from a Discursive approach. Today, there’s IGTV, for longer videos, and quality is what matters. But then came Zoom.

If a Brazilian created the most used app in the world and 8 years later a billion users would represent a hundred billion dollars, you’d have to think about where you stand on how tech companies profit.

Back to teaching

I don’t think anybody would spend over 3k in a library. It’s 60 bucks for an original Jane Austen, and honestly, thank me later for this link. But the coursebooks were that expensive. What do you think contributes more for your learning? Not everything is design and marketing, as some people would like you to believe. Sometimes, a good talk is all you need — and for most of your life, that’s going to be true. The reality, though, is we live in a world where conversations are recorded with the premise of offering improvements to our lives based on needs expressed, while the stripping of our freedom and safety is never taken into account, unless they have to pay a visit to the court, as is the case for a hearing scheduled to about a month from now, focusing on misinformation. I wonder if they’ll look at the ROI of the $3.70 I paid for my ad back in January 2019. Anyone got a half dollar and two dimes? If my class is worth 50 real, I could make 50 grand in a two and a half months — in case I worked 8 hours a day, free on weekends. That would exhaust me, because I have health issues, but who would actually suffer? Twitter. Who would win? Zoom, the owner of my calls. If you assume you’re just working on your own, then me. And thinking about me, I’ll be exhausted with 4 hours a day. And I’m charging 25. So if I work from Monday through Friday, with 2 students a day, totalling 4 hours of work on Zoom and following my self-published original course material based on a 10 year long independent academic research, I’d have to find myself 10 students. Not gonna happen, but in a month, in case everyone went on with it and the schedules somehow fit, I’d be making 1125 real, being that a month is comprised of 4.5 weeks. That’s 80 bucks more than minimum wage. Again, 10 people. Let me remind you: Pearson has 500 thousand students. If they paid 200 bucks a month, the company would receive a hundred million every month, or 1.2 billion a year. I’m not sure if they pay 200. They might pay 400. But me? Minimum wage. With 10 students. That’s 210 dollars a month, and if you wanna see how many hours I’ve worked for that, it’s 45 hours. Bernie Sanders wants to make minimum wage in America $15/h. So that means if I were an American citizen, in the same situation, with no contract, living with someone as a favor, I’d be able to make $675 dollars a month, if my price were in real. If my price were in dollar, I’d have a R$6k monthly income. So okay, Bernie is a utopian old man. Meritocracy is real. Work 8 hours, bitch. Saturdays included. With 4 students a day, I’d make +10k in real, charging 50 bucks an hour. That’s 2 thousand dollars, by the way. My best shot at integrating the American workforce is making 2 thousand dollars a month.

Support

That’s why I created a Patreon page. So you can help me with my expenses, in case I don’t find any students. It’s hard to find people. There are English teachers everywhere, schools everywhere, and honestly, content everywhere. Some people would rather watch Netflix than pay attention to the teacher. They question what we know, how we learned it and whether we deserve eye contact and bread in the morning. But here we are, and there’s a lot of people like me. Take a look at my work, and think twice before you label my criticism of Facebook, a company that profited 30 billion in the year of the pandemic, as “whining”. Oh yeah, again: 30 billion dollars. In real, that’s 159 billion. In comparison, Carrefour made 1 billion in Brazil in the same year.

So, kids, life isn’t always fair. Next time you ask Trump or Biden, I’ll link you to my Patreon.

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