So, you’re one of the lucky few who has a “Be Less Pigeon” sticker on your laptop. Or you’re sporting a new “Be Less Pigeon” t-shirt. And someone asks you “what’s up with the pigeon?”

And you’re stumped. You know it’s something about education technology and technologies and pedagogies of liberation, but you can’t quite explain it.

Try this:

“The pigeon is the mascot of my friend Audrey Watters’ website, Hack Education. She writes about education technology. The pigeon is a nod to the work of education psychologist B. F. Skinner and his experiments on pigeons and behavioral control – experiments he later expanded to use on children and ‘teaching machines.’ ‘Be less pigeon’ means I want both technology and education to ‘be less manipulative.’ It’s really not an insult against pigeons though. Pigeons are amazing.”

Then you can follow up with a fun pigeon fact:

  • Did you know that pigeons and doves are the same bird family?
  • Did you know that Skinner developed pigeon-guided missiles in World War II?
  • Did you know that a pigeon was the first to deliver the message to the Allies that D Day had been successful?
  • Did you know that pigeons are not native species in the US – that they’re feral ancestors of escaped domesticated rock doves first brought here by the French in 1606?
  • Did you know humans domesticated the rock pigeon some 5000 years ago, and these birds have been a “companion species” for us ever since?
  • Did you know that pigeons were first described in The New York Times as “rats with wings” in 1966?

You’re welcome.

(Or rather, thank you for supporting Hack Education by sporting the pigeon schwag.)

Audrey Watters


The Pigeons of Education Technology

A Hack Education Project

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