Deny the game they play
Just take a look at the world they've made
It gives the game away
Boredom is normal
(Sex Pistols: Revolution in the Classroom)
As schools look towards the future, with a view towards offering the best, most relevant, most progressive education, the focus is going to narrow, not on having the right facilities or the right technologies, but on having the right teachers.
Forward-thinking schools already know that it isn't what they have that drives change, but who they have. More than robust wifi, tablets and computers, makerspaces, student-centred learning spaces and the rest, schools need vibrant teachers. They need high-functioning individuals who are adaptable, self-motivated and willing to drive change. They need teachers who think, who question, who challenge and who are prepared to be creative, to experiment, to innovate and to make things better.
And of course, schools need teachers who will inspire students to do these very same things.
Enter the edupunk.
If you look online, you'll find a tangle of messy definitions for the term edupunk, and very few of them that are neat and polished (and this may well be deliberate). In keeping with the spirit of edupunk, I'd like to offer my own conception of what edupunks are:
Edupunks have a rebellious approach to education which emphasizes independently driven, hands-on learning, and which is suspicious of 'cookie cutter' approaches, technologies and methodologies. Edupunks embrace messy, experiential, experimental and highly individualized learning, and they prefer an interest-driven, ad hoc approach to learning over more formal, structured approaches.
Characteristics of Edupunks:
- …embrace informal opportunities for learning. (You'll often find them doing nano-courses and MOOCs, or just learning something on their own. You'll seldom find an edupunk doing something like a Master's degree… that's just too mainstream.)
- …have a wide range of interests and aren't afraid to learn new things.
- …believe that education is never finished and will never be 'off'. Knowledge is fluid, and learning is a dynamic process for Edupunks.
- …are resourceful, and will find ways to figure things out if they don't know.
- …love to experiment and tinker in order to find out what works best.
- …like to connect, to debate, to collaborate and to exchange ideas.
- …are adaptable and relish a new challenge.
- …are suspicious of the latest edufads and corporate edtech solutions.
- …recognize that learning is messy and that there are seldom nice, neat little boundaries and progressions when it comes to knowledge and skills.
- …speak out about what's wrong, and try to offer a better way.
- …are allergic to 'traditions' and established systems, preferring to redesign outmoded ways of doing things.
- …have a strong social conscience.
- …believe that learning should be real, relevant and personalized.
Now imagine a teacher with this attitude towards education in the classroom. Imagine classes of students who begin to become edupunks in their own right. You may well find yourself in a much more challenging and disruptive school environment, but you can be certain that the learning that happens will be fun, meaningful and rich.
More on edupunk: