EDUPUNK Battle Royale, Part 4

To steal from the title of the Samuel Beckett reader: “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”

EDUPUNK Battle Royale, Part 4

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18 Responses to EDUPUNK Battle Royale, Part 4

  1. Intellagirl says:

    I’ll throw in a couple of rough draft articles for that new Bill of Rights.
    – Administration shall impose no rules or regulations that prevent instructors from engaging with learners in the most beneficial method or mode.
    – The institution will not require the use of any technology that limits and instructor’s pedagogical freedom or a student’s choice to learn in ways that suit them best.

    and last
    – Institutions will trust and respect the methods and modes of learning that students bring with them rather than trying to habituate them into an institutional model.

    Just a start! 🙂

  2. Steven Egan says:

    It’s interesting to hear echos of Part 3’s comments in Part 4’s dialogue. The presentation method with time between video parts seems to be working like white space, giving the viewer time to consider and critically think about the contents of the discussion. If that’s the case, there might be something to learn from just the presentation method in regards to interested viewers response behaviors.

    Creating an Educational Bill of Rights might well include several versions for the different kinds of people involved. The student Bill of Rights, teacher, faculty and maybe some more.

    Creative reactions is a part of the comments that I see being echoed, especially mine. The idea that what comes out of the Edupunk discussions being of value isn’t new to the discussion, but is always helpful to bring back up when discussing Edupunk.

    With that in mind, I totally agree with the idea of Edupunk as a facilitator movement towards something better. In, and of, itself, Edupunk isn’t important, but rather in it’s ability to help us move forward. I like the bill of rights concept framed in this manner. It works, as Gardner said, like a foundation for further work.

    Bringing in culture, humanities and art to the information technologies is very much like game design. Add in the remix, reuse, repeat sort of mentality and you have a very compelling direction. This is the sort of thing I have been trying to find a way to do, so I’m all for it. I want and plan to do this.

    Maybe daily content lecture videos, in small parts, on web pages with related content would be a good idea. Maybe a feed or twitter-like service should/could be used to keep people aware of the current pace of the course while not blocking the content from those who really want to move ahead. I wonder if there is a way to update web page, files via a schedule, from a database, or if it would be better to have some sort of AJAX solution in place on the servers to determine the dynamic content. So many possibilities to consider.

  3. Ed Webb says:

    Next time NYT writes about edupunk, they won’t be putting scare quotes around “instructional technologist”

  4. Jon says:

    An Edutech Bill of Rights? C’mon…

    I’ve just watched all four of these videos so far (or rather, the fourth is playing while I’m typing) and frankly feel that the conversation went way off track very early on.

    The discussion of a Bill of Rights is just silly, frankly. And not in a good way.

    • Reverend says:


      It was a free-ranging affair, I give you that. And I don’t really see EDUPUNK as a systemic logic as I noted in the part. A Bill of Rights doesn’t seem to be what it needs, I don’t know what it needs, if anything, but one thing I have been thinking about lately is coming to some idea of what we mean when we talk about community online and off. I think for me that is one of the things I have been battling with as of late, people might rally around a term or not—but the fact remains at the end of the day there is a certain amount of undeniable alienation that I want to see acknowledged, if not challenged. For me the creative space offers a way at this, but only as an imagined space to commune through building. I don’t, nor did I ever, think EDUPUNK was meant to become a prescription for anything, but rather a call about the co-opting of our space in edtech as one small example, of a larger practice devouring education along the lines of the neo-liberal university you wrote about in the Excellence post on your blog.

      In fact, I’ll be the first to admit the idea is loose and that might be its power as a metaphor, but there is no question in my mind that a lot of things have to change for there to be a concerted movement of anything like “EDUPUNK” that will question the basic assumptions of universities, and the rapacious logic of capital that runs afoot currently. But are we in a moment were concerted and movement is by its very logic distributed?

      I just got through writing an email response to a personal comment talking about the republicans versus the democrats and the impact of this divide rom the 80s forward. I do think there are real differneces, but quite frankly I have no faith in either idea s a model for the future. I see our system on the precipice of disaster, and action and some larger steps towards a thoughtful space is in order. But that ain’t coming from EDUPUNK, we can all rest assured with that, but I’ll try my best, dammit! 🙂

      I have such a hard tie imagining a possible future from the where I sit. It’s overwhelming, I want to hang out with poets, theorists and science fiction writers for a decade to think these things through and act along the way, yet when I see Harvey writing about the impossibility of a Keynesian stimulus package within the US not because of funds (though that question was raised), but because the mention of socialism amongst the left or the right in the US is impossible to conceptualize, no less speak—whereas it is the norm in China—I have to agree that we are so far towards the right that the idea of working from within such a system, Bill of Rights or not, seems impossible. Moreover, our sense of community has been the real victim, and it sounds crazy, but do we rebuild it here, or do we follow Barbara Ganley and return to a local logic, do we escape through art? What, I don’t know, I really don’t.

  5. Jon says:

    “I don’t really see EDUPUNK as a systemic logic.”

    Indeed. An anti-systemic, perhaps anti-systematic, logic perhaps. Let others write Bills of Rights. The point at which Gardner puts the alternative as “write a Bill of Rights” or “don’t write anything down”… Well, that’s nonsense! There’s nobody who writes more than your good self, even if you’re not coming up with a Bill of Rights or a Constitution.

    And you’re able to write and come up with such creative ideas without sitting down first to figure out some kind of “platform.”

    At the end of the day, who cares about the precise metaphor or some kind of learned disquisition about the decline and fall of the Sex Pistols? Edupunk is valuable in so far as it serves, as you say, as “creative impetus.”

    For me, Gardner, with his talk of “our best selves,” “teachable moments,” “come let us reason together” and so on… Well, bless him and I have no doubt he’s well-intentioned. Indeed, he may and no doubt does inspire many. But that kind of talk doesn’t inspire me.

    Which means that I don’t see any problem with Edupunk coexisting with more lofty philosophies. But it shouldn’t dialogue with them, or no more than it has to. This dialogue soon becomes deadening.

  6. Jon says:

    Or to put this another way… the image of the “Battle Royale” or the boxing match was indeed a poor one. No more set-pieces. Edupunk is more like guerrilla IT, making incursions when least expected, harrying the rear-guard.

  7. Gardner says:

    “An anti-systemic, perhaps anti-systematic, logic perhaps.”

    I don’t get this, obviously. I understand the need to keep options in play and the desire not to collapse everything into false dichotomies, but what do you do when you have to make a hard choice about shared resources?

    “This dialogue soon becomes deadening.”

    This kind of thinking worries me the most. If the dialogue goes, what do we build with? What’s left besides power?

  8. Andy Best says:

    I go with Gardner here. Dialogue is key, communication and communication tools are key …

    We just don’t want dialogue and discourse to be co-opted. We want to own our dialogue. I think pedagogy should serve students and communities, not be designed to profit off them.

    I hope that wasn’t simplistic or crass.

    In societies run on neo-liberal ideology, community/cooperation is revolutionary.

  9. Andy Rush says:

    Like any good boxing match, this has all the indicators of a “Thrilla in Manilla”. Just when Gardner seemed to be up against the ropes, he brings out the right hook of the Bill of Rights. Obviously stunning the younger Groom for at least a 10-count.

    Jon, I’m sorry but I don’t think you could be more off base with your dismissive tone regarding a Bill of Rights. If we take Edupunk to its extreme it’s anarchy. There is no anarchy without the scaffolding of a institution. There is nothing to do but fall and continue to fall over and over again without a “platform” or let’s say principles. Edupunk would soon start to eat itself, because Edupunk would soon become “the man”. It’s why Gardner is merely saying to everyone, “be careful” when using this metaphor.

    Whether we call it Edupunk or we give it a generic, black and white label with simply the word SOUP, it will only move forward with some kind of basic underlying structure. Intellagirl gives us a great start, for many institutions are going through this right now. “We need to make education more efficient”. Efficient for whom? Respect and trust what the students brings with them, rather than try to force educational efficiencies on them.

    This Edupunk and nothing else approach is destined for failure. The idea that it eschews dialogue is silly. Without those basic rights, the idea of DIY ed-tech goes nowhere.

  10. Jon says:

    First, to Andy Rush, I did not say “Edupunk and nothing else.” I said, by contrast, “I don’t see any problem with Edupunk coexisting with more lofty philosophies.”

    Second, to Gardner, “hard choices about shared resources” is state thinking. That‘s the language of power. As to what’s beyond dialogue… well, affect for one. Which is why I said that the dialogue was deadening.

    Look, a comments box is not perhaps the place to outline an entire way of thinking. For instance, I have many things to say about “rights,” and none of them good.

    But once more, and against this insistence on order and squeamishness about so-called anarchy, I think the point about something like Edupunk is that it must remain an irritant, an annoyance, a somewhat marginal sense of dissatisfaction.

    And it has to be about taking risks, and no doubt sometimes making mistakes, rather than sitting down in some kind of council before making any move. Again, dialogue is deadening, not least in a context in which increasing layers of bureaucracy produce nothing but dialogue upon dialogue.

    But to imagine that outside of dialogue is either “anarchy” or nothing but power (and how strange that it’s imagined in terms of absolute opposites!), well, that’s bizarre.

  11. Steven Egan says:

    I will say that I both agree and disagree with Jon. Here’s the why.

    “I don’t see any problem with Edupunk coexisting with more lofty philosophies.” – Jon

    I totally agree with this statement. Even more, I don’t see Edupunk surviving without those “lofty philosophies”. Like Andyrush said, ‘Edupunk would soon start to eat itself, because Edupunk would soon become “the man”.’

    “But once more, and against this insistence on order and squeamishness about so-called anarchy, I think the point about something like Edupunk is that it must remain an irritant, an annoyance, a somewhat marginal sense of dissatisfaction.”

    I’ve said this before and will say it again, Edupunk is like punk in being a counterculture. That means it behaves as stated before, and in the above post. However, this has nothing to do with “insistence on order and squeamishness about so-called anarchy”. It’s called balance. Too much order will become rigid, brittle and break. Too little order and only small scale co-operation is likely to occur. So, order and creative flexibility must work together for good teacher to be at it’s best. It’s like taking risks. Without something to fall back on, the community falls apart, along with their efforts. The R&D department depends on the stability of their backing to keep doing the cool stuff they do.

    Something has to keep the effort together, the community together. True anarchy CANNOT be stable without the common beliefs and philosophies of the community. Without them, people take over, unity falls prey to self-interest and the community is not strong enough to fend off outside opposition. History shows this. In fact history usually shows leaders popping up in the anarchy movements leading to something like a democracy. Maybe something like the Green Lantern oath or the Jedi Code, both with variations, would be more suitable than the Bill of Rights idea.

  12. Jon says:

    Steven, we may be saying the same thing here, albeit in (radically) different ways, but in my mind the point of something like Edupunk would be to keep more mainstream approaches always off-balance, always on their toes.

    In that sense, it’s not so much that Edupunk (or similar “movements”) need the mainstream; rather, it’s the mainstream that needs Edupunk in order to prevent it from becoming completely sclerotic–or as you put it, “rigid” and “brittle.”

    Edupunk is a line of flight, an Exodus. It may constantly be re-appropriated, but then the onus is on it to remain a step ahead, or off-center.

    Again, I’m not sure I’m disagreeing with you here, Steven. But I don’t much like the language of “balance.”

  13. Leslie M-B says:

    I like the idea of edupunk spawning a bill of rights of sorts–for both students and faculty. I’m especially interested in this concept because I realized recently what makes me uncomfortable about the punk metaphor is (my perceived) whiteness of it. Before I sign on wholeheartedly, I want to be sure edupunk as a movement and metaphor is a welcoming space for anyone interested in it. So I searched the web for “punk” and “racism,” and I found quite a few interesting conversations–some heartening, some not so much.

    In particular, this piece on Muslim punk spoke to me. I’m drawn to the pull quote from Michael Muhammad Knight: “We’re not going to be spoon-fed our Islam. We’re going to decide what it means to us.” Also this bit from Omar Majeed: “What we realized is that Taqwacore [Muslim punk] is not really a new thing. Islam is a vast tradition and the way it is presented today is a Saudi-inspired export and, so if you look hard enough, you can find things that go against the grain of what you usually see.”

    I think Muslim punk can be a metaphor–as if we need another one!–through which I at least understand and approach edupunk. Like Islam, the American educational system is not a monolith, but it seems to me some of us are thinking of it as such. Higher ed is not necessarily a panopticon any more than Islam is necessarily a prescription to wear a burqa. Instead of dismissing or being suspicious of of all such institutions, I want to see an appreciation of the diversity of learning environments within higher ed. If we’re talking about small pieces loosely joined, we need to remember that there are already exceptional small pieces out there on which we can build. I don’t think we need to take the wrecking ball to universities to glean these small pieces from the rubble.

    Changing topics: I’ve also been thinking about edupunk too much in terms of the humanities and social sciences. What does an edupunk science or engineering course look like, particularly an edupunk science lab? What happens at the intersection of edupunk and materials science, or edupunk and biotechnology?

  14. Ed Webb says:

    @Jon – the line of flight I like. Perhaps bringing us back to a more punk word, ‘attitude.’ But not the Hollywood teenager attitude – “Say, Johnny, what you rebelling against, anyway?” “Whaddya got?” A more productive and creative attitude that I have seen in much of this conversation, about working to be the best we can be, to play mindfully, to work with the good and go around the bad. And I think the dialectic you point to – Edupunk as a constant, questioning presence that provokes and produces ever new, never quite complete syntheses with the best of what exists – that I can be very happy with.

    Which brings me to Leslie. I’m glad you brought up race, and was happy you reminded me of the Taqwacore thing. It works pretty well as a metaphor. Except that I don’t think Taqwacore is going to do very much at all to shape Islam(s) more broadly – it’s a margin of a margin. I think we can be more ambitious than that. If we experiment, if we are successul, then we can hope that our successes will reproduce themselves virally throughout all the different kinds of contexts where learning happens. Using the tools available to do the best we can for ourselves and our students is part of this – and Taqwacore looks like that – but inspiring change more broadly I think is a different, complementary, and important goal.

    On race, I WILL get around to writing my Edufunk manifesto any day now. Really.

  15. Jon K. says:

    If edupunk’s goals (maybe facets or strengths are better words) are to pull from diverse pools of influence, then a specific bill of rights might end up limiting which pools are used – as the US Bill of Rights is subverted by congress. If edupunk takes a “by any means necessary” approach, it leaves things much more open to interpretation, less likely to be co-opted (or able to be co-opted). I’m not advocating anarchy but autonomy, and while a label that I self-apply needs to have some sort of definition, I’m OK with my definition of edupunk being different than Jim’s, Ed’s or Jon’s. I think that’s a much stronger “movement” (and that may be the end benefit of all this – some grassroots groundswell to slowly move things). Of course, someone will come along and say that edupunk isn’t a movement at all, and I’ll be likely to agree.

    Race. Punk and race are always linked, from swastika wearing for shock to really ugly bands like Skrewdriver who, frankly have very little to do with punk in my opinion (many others love their early output before they were outwardly racist).

    My personal experience in punk has always been as an anarchist based belief – and how could one advocate for racism yet not recognize the power structure that props up racism? Anyways, racists have traditionally found a haven in punk in that it’s a youth culture, and that’s where racist groups have often found a safe haven, in co-opting youth.

  16. Steven Egan says:

    I’m coming at this from more of the system point of view for the whole and seeing the potential for the counterculture, Edupunk, to work as a balancing force on the mainstream, current education institutions. So, I think we are agreeing in that. It’s not an attack on order. It’s rather a disruption of the current order where-in many have become complacent, apathetic and all too satisfied; to get those people to change or be removed for the sake of the education system. Very much like the act of non-cooperation stuff from the fifth video. Not cooperating for the goal of better cooperation.

    My disagreement was towards the anarchy of Edupunk tone. While we may be causing a disruption, it is in fact to bring problems in the system to light with potential solutions and an air of people aiding in the solution. It’s not to rip apart the system and leave it in rubble.

    As for the Bill of Rights, we’re in agreement. Like I said, “Maybe something like the Green Lantern oath or the Jedi Code, both with variations, would be more suitable than the Bill of Rights idea.” The Green Lantern Oath in particular is different for almost every Green Lantern. One who can’t see speaks of sounds rather than light in his oath. With the DIY nature of Edupunk, it makes sense to have something like a few example versions and have people customize them.

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