Edupunk.is.dead. (Insert witty web 2.0-eduism catchphrase here)
Lindsea over at Students 2.0 makes a great point about the diy/edupunk internet movements:
The only thing that I see missing in these discussions of “edupunk” are students. Sure, in theory students are supposed to be given more power, but where are the student voices in the actual discussions of edupunk? This Jim Groom, smart and interesting man though he is, is an adult, a teacher, and (I’m sorry) not actually punk or DIY. Coining this new term and making it seem cool because it uses the word “punk” doesn’t change the fact that a teacher made it up, teachers are discussing it right now, and a teacher will be implementing the theory.
I realize that the application of the term isn’t exactly focused on the real punk community, it’s obviously about education. But I’d like to make it clear that the punk and DIY cultures are the domains of the younger generation now. The students will be the leaders in whatever underground change there may be.
I agree with her. Adding technology or any other edupunk reforms is a disaster when student feedback doesn’t drive the process. The February 2008 Washington Post article A School That’s Too High on Gizmos provides examples of this:
For a while, I thought it was just older teachers like me — immigrants to the Internet world — who were chafing at the so-called technology initiative, but it turns out that even the youngest teachers are fed up. “They would rather have a cyborg teaching than me,” one young English teacher complained to me. “It’s technology for the sake of technology — not what works or helps kids learn, but what makes administrators look good, what the public will think is cutting edge.
I think that the term ‘edupunk’ fails to capture what the DIY reform movement is all about. The most important aspect of the reform is changing the nature of student-teacher relationships. Instead of a top-down classroom hierarchy where the educator creates the rules of the classroom and controls content, the classroom needs to be an interactive community where interactions between students and educators drives curriculum. A great example of this is the behavior management techniques discussed on Elona Hartjes’ blog:
Establishing a positive classroom climate is essential for a safe, positive learning environment, and establishing classroom agreements are one of the ways to do that.
I used to call the classroom agreements rules, but rules seem so top down, and I don’t want that. Some kids see red when they see the word “rule”. I want them to see green instead. I want students to buy into the classroom code of conduct, not rebel against it.
At the beginning of the semester we establish our behaviour agreements. Basically it boils down to attentive listening, appreciation, mutual respect and right to pass.
In my graduate level special education courses, the instructor (a master teacher and researcher) said that the best indicator of student success and fulfillment is how much the voices of the students matter. She said that “pretty” classrooms with store-bought posters and teacher-made cut outs may not be as successful as classrooms where student work clutters the walls and spills out into the hallways. Many of the Optimal Learning Environments (OLE) techniques for at-risk learners involve student publishing, student chosen curriculum and literature, and student lead presentations and discussions. I am passionate about student empowerment. Often, to be a child is to be trapped in a world that you have no control over. Teaching students that their voices/writing/art/debate matters should be the first step in education (instead of teach first, contextualize later).
The term edupunk is also misleading because I don’t want ‘underground’ reform. Information networks and tools must be accessible to educators struggling to meet the changing needs of diverse learners.