Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Edupunk - more ponytails than punk

It has its own Wikipedia page, and bloggers have been punking it up, but as a movement it’s more ‘dippy-hippy’ than’ punk’.


Armchair anarchists

I’m all for punking up conference presentations and learning experiences. But when grey-haired teachers take on these terms, they’d better look at themselves first. This so-called punky attitude is coming from well paid teachers and academics, in the comfortable context of largely tired old institutions. If they want to peddle punk then do what punks did – free themselves from the cosiness of the establishment. Why don’t they do this? Because they ARE the establishment. Stephen Downes offers up Alice Cooper’s School’s Out as the Edupunk anthem. OK, then get out of school. Armchair anarchists are ten-a-penny, and when they get on a bit, tend to mistake punk for ponytails. Worst example: Johnny Rotten doing Butter ads on TV. What a rotter!


Use, don’t abuse, technology

It’s merely a bit of a rant by old teachers who are fed up with the job or having to use Blackboard, and want a little bit of excitement in their lives.  In other words, it’s all about teachers, not learners. If they were really interested in punking up education and training, they’d use, not abuse, technology. The punkier side of learning is all YouTube, Facebook, games, gadgets and fringe technology. To drag learning back into the classroom with anti-technology rhetoric is simply a backward step. School ain’t punk. Staffrooms ain’t punk. Teaching ain’t punk. Teachers ain’t punk.


Dancing dads

As my two fourteen year old keep reminding me – there’s nothing sadder than 40 and 50 year old teachers high-fiving the kids. Let’s leave it to the young turks who are already punking it up, independently of the dancing dads. The Edupunk video typical. After a confusing montage, to the Ian Brown’s superb Keep What Ya Got, Martin Weller of the OU narrates, perhaps the most boring video I’ve ever seen. Martin wants to ‘turn us all into Broadcasters’ – then trots out a series of obvious and ordinary  ideas, such as using YouTube videos, chat, podcasts and so on. This is more Edujunk than Edupunk.


I’m now off to work up my next big idea – education with a groove – Edufunk.

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26 Comments:

Blogger Karyn Romeis said...

Question: why are we letting fourteen year olds decide what's sad and what's not? Their world view is still so limited by their own immaturity that few 14 year olds have developed the courage to buck the trend and be non-conformists. Watch them swarm all over the one child who does have that courage for evidence that they still have a long way to go. A lot of things that they think are 'sad' now will become the bedrock of their find memories when they get older.

I, for one, will not be dictated to by the self-styled personality police... of any age!

Oh, and I have kids of that age, myself, so I'm coming at this from a perspective of experience.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Steven Egan said...

I disagree, mostly from the grounds of being productive. When somebody goes into indie game development, the big piece of advice is "Don't quit your day job."

"Punk" isn't all about throwing down the establishment, anger or angst. Thinking for yourself, self publishing, being an individual and not selling out are big parts of the general "punk" concept. In that way teaching, as a true teacher, IS punk, because it is encouraging learners to acquire the mental skills needed to do more for themselves. The straight edge punks are another example of what wouldn't normally be called punk, but they are punk.

In fact the original punk came out of the oppressive practices of the music industry. To which the original punks responded by doing for themselves what the industry wouldn't. So, musicians were doing that which pertains to being a musician, outside the bounds of the system. Whether a teacher is employed by the system doesn't change whether they are working outside the bounds of the public education system to do things, even if they bring it back into the classroom.

On a last note. Punk cultures come about for the cause of change and fade when change starts happening. This isn't non-punk because of who is doing it, but rather a form of productive protest of the system where we try to offer solutions the system isn't willing to try, the same as most punk most punk cultures.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

Teaching IS punk! I think not. The relationship between teacher and students is hardly that between a loved musician and audience. The punk analogy is all wrong.
They said as much.....

Sex Pistols (Schools are prisons)

They took the best years of my life
And made it so I couldn’t decide
I don't turn this want
To make beautiful word that goes on and on
And on and on
Those 13 years in prison
Didn’t teach me how to love
They say they have their reasons
All coming from above
You can forget the seasons inside your factory
There's one thing they can't teach you is how to feel free
And stand alone in a beautiful world
We have to respond...
Schools are prisons
Forget the seasons
Schools are prisons
Schools are one of the reasons for this waste of the spring
And where to begin
Outside or within
It took the best years of my life
And made it so I couldn’t decide
Statistic as in prisons
Statistic as in life
They say they had their reasons
But coming from above
You got what their decisions inside your factory
But one thing they can't teach you is how to feel free
And stand up in the beautiful world
We only respond...
Schools are prisons
Forget the seasons
Schools are prisons
One of the reasons for this waste of the spring
Where to begin
Outside or within
Schools are prisons
Forget the seasons
Schools are prisons
One of the reasons
Schools are prisons
Forget the seasons
Schools are prisons
One of the reasons for this waste of the spring

6:04 PM  
Blogger James BonTempo said...

Punks played shows @ clubs, put records out on labels, sold t-shirts and other merchandise, etc. They introduced a new, self-empowering approach to music but continued to work within many of the existing structures of the very system against which they were presumably rebelling.

The Sex Pistols were a deliberate fabrication. Kurt Cobain wanted to be famous.

1:28 AM  
Blogger jay said...

We don't need no education.
We don't need no thought control.
Hey, punk, leave them kids alone.

6:14 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

I reacted the same way you did. After digging into it a little more, I saw that it was futile to try to define all the terms and put them all in some shared frame of reference. Everyone thinks of punk (and its historical impact) as something different, apparently, and our views and philosophies of education affect how we see the impact of the system (industrial conformity vs empowering future citizens).

Anyway, I also started to see why the term resonated, and how it could be a catalyst for real change, even as a metaphor that people identify with. It certainly did spark some interesting conversations, some of which even had the ring of "real" punk ethos.

6:48 AM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

Teachers - rebelling against the system! Give me a break. Are you honestly telling me that teachers become teachers to express their 'punk' attitudes? Let's just see it for what it is - teaching's a damn fine profession with, for some, the satisfaction of working with kids, along with lots of holidays, a good salary and a pension. It's about as punky as Marks and Spencers.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

Well said Jay - even Pink Floyd, the essence of hippydom, didn't stake a claim in classroom teaching (the Dark Side of the Room)

10:38 AM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

I disagree Jeremy - it all sounds like a very bad pub conversation between two old teachers desperate to find something interesting to say about their predicament. It's day dreaming at its worst.

Let's punk up today's lesson on the storage of starch in plant roots! The kids see right past this sort of stuff. Just make lessons interesting. Above all teachers need to be themselves, not some sort of faux persona from their own youth. It's Peter Pan fantasising.

10:45 AM  
OpenID pete-catrah said...

If learning wants to associate itself with a musical form which is most appropriate? This is an interesting question and I (almost) immediately thought of the thanks that Rachel Unthank gave at the recent Mercury awards (she didn't win). From memory she said 'thanks to all our family and friends and to all the people who have sung these songs in the past'. She was declaring that as a singer she was part of an ongoing community of people (in this case the 'traditional' music community) and acknowledging their importance in the music she is making today. Accept that you are learning from the community, acknowledge those who have come before and feel free to be creative in finding new ways of continuing the narrative is the essential message that is coming from young performers in the field of 'traditional' music today. Is this not a more useful analogy than the anarchy and nihilism of punk?

12:52 PM  
OpenID pete-catrah said...

If learning wants to associate itself with a musical form which is most appropriate? This is an interesting question and I (almost) immediately thought of the thanks that Rachel Unthank gave at the recent Mercury awards (she didn't win). From memory she said 'thanks to all our family and friends and to all the people who have sung these songs in the past'. She was declaring that as a singer she was part of an ongoing community of people (in this case the 'traditional' music community) and acknowledging their importance in the music she is making today. Accept that you are learning from the community, acknowledge those who have come before and feel free to be creative in finding new ways of continuing the narrative is the essential message that is coming from young performers in the field of 'traditional' music today. Is this not a more useful analogy than the anarchy and nihilism of punk?

12:53 PM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

Well said Pete - these guys need to calm down and see learning and scholarship as something entirely different from their adolescent musical fads.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Steven Egan said...

Is it about the music? Have you guys talked with the guys who are a part of it? Do you guys really know what this is about?

I'd say Pete has come close with, "learning from the community, acknowledge those who have come before and feel free to be creative in finding new ways of continuing the narrative". The problem is that the creativity is being dictated to by officials who don't know how to teach well. I've had good teachers who said the required classes for teachers were disparagingly bad.

The teachers who have become teachers to teach don't like the current trends of teaching to tests. The system is changing, with pressures from the inside and outside. Also, most of the people who are calling themselves edupunks are not teachers. Most have an interest in instructional technology and have been doing this stuff for years. It's juts a new term to fill a gap. With nothing else catchy to go with, it gains a following.

6:46 PM  
OpenID Chris Lott said...

I wonder why you are so defensive about your particular definition of "punk" to the point of being combative with the (apparently significant) number of people who disagree that your (I would say rather narrow and selective) definition is the only one that makes sense? A little jealousy at the attention? I can ask that because I'm as non-punk as they come, by any definition.

But it seems to me that either change can still happen while working in an institution or it can't. And if it can, despite so many who maintain otherwise, and if what it take is being *relatively* radical in a way that opens up the conversation (and your very continued protestation simply points out that it does), then what's the problem really?

6:02 PM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

I'm not defending anything, just sceptical about this type of 'churnalism', where a word from one sphere is hijacked, then used for sheer effect, in another.

Edupunk is a 'blogosphere' idea, nothing more, nothing less. It's OK to punt out ideas like this in blogs, as long as you're willing take a 'punk' sort of attitude to it all, and accept that others are free to offer a little criticism. Just because I won't fall for all of this groupthink stuff, doesn't mean I'm jealous. There are no Edupunks, just some folks trying to juice things up. Good luck to them - I just don't buy the stupid label.

11:07 PM  
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1:30 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

And you used to be such a nice guy Donald. On my video - maybe it is boring, I'm just playing around with stuff (mind you at least I don't develop really boring content and then charge people lots of money for it). This was meant to be trying a different way of taking a long argument I'd made and putting it in a different format. I know you want to cling to a pay for content model, but to pretend changes aren't happening is a tad naive.
Shame really.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

Hi Martin - my point wasn't that your recommendations were unsound. I agreed with all that you recommended in the video. My criticisms are around associating the straight forward use of web resources in courses, with the half-baked idea of 'Edupunk'. I'd have been more than happy with a simple video without the faux-punk stuff at the start. The two were completely at odds with each other.

Remember also that you also get paid to do this, by people like me, the taxpayer. I'm a massive fan of the OU, which incidentally, also sells e-learning in the private sector, but don't paint anyone who works in the private sector as being on the dark side.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Well said. I work at a university and have also worked in commercial production companies. You are well paid, often better paid than private sector learning tech people. I really liked the video though. How much did they charge you for use of Anarchy? John might be making money churning butter, but even so.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Andy Tedd said...

What an interesting thread :) At last something in the elearnosphere with a bit of passion in it. Well done Donald for stirring it up.

For this to work ie for edupunk to be genuinely 2.0 - the 16 minute guitar solo 'hippies' in possession of the stage have to be prepared to share, if not give, it to the 3 chord anti-musician punks. With no hierarchy except that which that which comes from the quality of the thoughts and ideas.

Anarchy in other words - are they prepared to do that?

10:08 PM  
Blogger Rob Alton said...

Of course they aren't. You can see that in the song that the producer of that clip chose. Anarchy is accepted as THE punk track by today's middle class, but it's not. It's a piece of clever marketing.

Want to be an edu punk?

1) Stop giving hour long lectures that you don't record - you are just doing your time. Students won't remember much unless they can get replay and reflection.

...and if you're really hard

2) Play The Dead Kennedy's Too Drunk to F*ck, The Damned's New Rose, The Buzzcocks What do I Get? to your students before a class I guarantee no one will nod off after that.

Please look at my blog and make my day, punk.
http://robsrecordreviews.blogspot.com/

5:48 PM  
Blogger Rob Alton said...

Anarchy in the UK? Anoraky in the UK more like.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

Exactly! Who are they kidding?

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Executive Search said...

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12:56 PM  
Anonymous jack martin said...

A form of productive protest of the system where we try to offer solutions the system isn't willing to try, the same as most punk most punk cultures.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

Sorry Jack, still don't buy this. Only radical until it hits debate about long school holidays etc. Then it all gets very institutional.

12:00 PM  

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