Like most of the rest of the virtual gang I run around with, I’m enjoying the heck out of the recent fascination with “everything edupunk.” And saying something like “enjoying the heck” will brand me very quickly as someone who never did qualify to wear any label that might be considered cool. D’Arcy Norman even identified some of his edupunk heroes, and I would add him to my list for sure.
I wanted to pick up briefly on something that Rob Wall wrote today:
I’m not sure what to make of edupunk. It might be the meme of the week. It might be a cultural movement within the edtech community. It might be a manifestation of our collective mid-life crisis (a lot of us seem to be in the neighbourhood of 40). It might be, and I suspect it is, a combination of all these things.
I sympathized with Rob’s sense of wonder, especially since I’m well past that “neighbourhood of 40”. I think that “edupunk” is a wonderful example of finding a resonant label for something significant that has been rattling around amorphously for awhile. We’ve seen it before: lots of teachers were doing Webquests long before Bernie Dodge came up with a great name and provided some structure for them. But at the same time I’m not arguing that this is a trivial naming exercise: quite the opposite. A good label that can help people who have been emotionally and intellectually passionate about something to finally see its shape from a higher vantage point can have a galvanizing effect. Wouldn’t it be fun if we looked back in 10 years and knew that we were in on the ground floor of exactly that kind of thing?
I’m a stranger to anything “punk”, but not to counter-culture. We had different slogans in earlier times, but they also had a galvanizing effect. “Make love, not war” is cliché now, but at the time it meant something (well, two things actually, although the first was more elusive for most of us). Around 1970, Abbie Hoffman wrote a wonderful book entitled “Steal This Book.” Read it if you really like counter-culture stuff and even if you don’t. It says a lot about what rebellion means at an individual level.
The main point I want to leave you with is that in order for any label to live a long life, it needs to go beyond anger and righteous indignation. Certainly it needs to stand against something in a powerful way, and I think “edupunk” has that nailed. But to endure, I think it also has to offer a vision of something better. And in this case, I think “edupunk” has that flavour too. It doesn’t just seem to be about a sense of moral outrage directed against commercialized, corporatized, institutionalized education for example; it also seems to be about sharing, openness, freedom and liberation.
Then again, maybe it is just a very cool label.