EduPunk: Do you fight for your right to ed-u-cate?

Comic: WTH is EduPunk?

Comic: WTH is EduPunk?
Here’s the printable PDF version (4.6mb). Images used in this comic strip came from Flickr tag “edupunk

UPDATE: This article is now featured on ACM eLearn Magazine (thanks to Laurie Rowell!)

Following the emergence of Edupunk…
23rd Jan 2004: James Farmer blogged an entry called ““, which highlights an article on about how “Weblogging is also being co-opted and marketed and corporatized” and reflects it on the issues educator face in schools.

25th May 2008: Jim Groom coined the term “Edupunk” in his post The Glass Bees.

29th May 2008: Darcy Norman lists his edupunk heros: “On thinking about edupunk, it strikes me that I’ve been drawn to a group of people that have embodied it for years. People that are open. That prefer to DIY. People who share, remix, mashup, and generally operate in the spirit of what is now being called edupunk”.

29th May 2008: Leslie Madsen Brooks provides an elaborate overview of Edupunk on BlogHer by citing edubloggers on their perspectives: “[Edupunk] refers to a scrappy, DIY spirit in some sectors of educational technology”.

29th May 2008: Stephen Downe defines “EduPunk”: “edupunk is student-centered, resourceful, teacher- or community-created rather than corporate-sourced, and underwritten by a progressive political stance. […] Edupunk, it seems, takes old-school Progressive educational tactics–hands-on learning that starts with the learner’s interests–and makes them relevant to today’s digital age, sometimes by forgoing digital technologies entirely”.

30th May 2008: The Chronicle of Higher Education: Frustrated With Corporate Course-Management Systems, Some Professors Go ‘Edupunk’

31st Mat 2008: EduPunk appears on Wikipedia. As a neologism, the interesting debate as to its legitimacy carries on in the Wikipedia Talk Page.

1st June 2008: Ken Carroll says “Edupunks need to grow up“: “Am I the only one to find this Edupunk meme ridiculous? The adolescent ethos, music, etc, are matched only by the adolescent narcissism, anger, wilful non-conformity, sanctimony, and tirades against authority. Fine, except this is all coming from teachers!”.

2nd June 2008: Stephen Downes responds to Ken Carroll and defends EduPunk: “I think you are mistaken to confuse the target of edupunk criticism as ‘the capitalist’. The target is, more accurately, authority. It’s true that many capitalists have used wealth to appropriate authority. But the two are not identical. […] More significant is the suggestion that edupunks are “seeking to politicize (and I would argue, infantilize) discussion in this space.” Leaving aside the pointless ad hominem, I would suggest that discussion in this space is already very politicized, and that edupunk is a reaction to this.”

4th June 2008: Kathryn Greenhill notices the punk meme in “Steampunk, Edupunk and… Libpunk??“. Yes, Librarian Punks included.

13th June 2008: Alec Couros elaborates on Edupunk in “Edupunk, Meaning, Identity“. Alec explains his three point definition of non-conformity, DIY culture and critique of power relationships. Citing Wikipedia’s entry on Punk Rock: “According to Holmstrom, punk rock was “rock and roll by people who didn’t have very much skills as musicians but still felt the need to express themselves through music”. In December 1976, the English fanzine Sideburns famously published an illustration of three chords, captioned “This is a chord, this is another, this is a third. Now form a band.” That’s basically it for me… that you are enabling the non-experts the ability to participate and learn in the process!

What do I think of the term “Edupunk”?
I’d argue that much like how the Web 2.0 ideology came about… there’s nothing new (or neo) about it really. Edupunking is something that a lot of us in education have been doing when traditional means impedes our learning objective. Heck, Neil Postman’s “Teaching as a Subversive Activity” is uber-edupunk, and that was written in 1969! And if you were to ask who would be my edupunk hero, it’s really be non-other than Alex Halavais… he’s one who has tossed out his class syllabus in favor of a more student responsible learning session. It takes guts, as both teacher and students are challenged.

Your turn: What do you think about all this?
Just a load of B.S.?

Aside: Of course I’m an Edupunk. Need I say more?

23 thoughts on “EduPunk: Do you fight for your right to ed-u-cate?

  1. Very neat re/presentation of ideas here. I love the visual.

    Although when I talk about my experience and quote the piece from Wikipedia where it says ‘rock and roll by people who didn’t have very much skills as musicians but still felt the need to express themselves through music”, I do not in any way want to represent those identified as edupunk as those without skills. In fact, D’Arcy, Jim, Stephen, Brian, some of those individuals represented here are the mostly highly skilled and intelligent people that I have ever met. I feel it is more in the types of skills such people possess, and the courage that they possess that allows them to put their “stuff” out there, sometimes polished and sometimes very raw, that captures this DIY piece very well.

  2. @Jen: Love is taking it as it is. 🙂

    @Alec Couros: Thanks for clarifying. I thought of your “Punk Rock” reference as an example of how non-experts (e.g. students, noob teachers) could be empowered by having the right environment for self-discovery. Multiple kinds of skill, as you mentioned, would be a pre-requisite for setting up such creative learning situations. Reminds me of when I was a Dungeon Master for a role playing game, setting up the story while letting players choose what they want to do in it. Interactivity requires more planning than say a static class syllabus.

    @MrBigLive: Welcome Back! There’s more wisdom in what you said than you might realize. The best way to learn is to teach. Perhaps a relevant example of constructionist learning?

  3. Wait, Lego(tm) is punk? I guess then that the aim is dismantling corporate control of *some* educational technologies, while others can keep theirs. Just askin…

  4. Oh, and I should have said: Thank you for the props. Throwing it to students is not just edupunk, but productively lazy, and reasonably anarchist :).

    And TaaSA is great, but if you want real Edupunk, you have to go to Dewey and Freire. Or were they EduFolk?

  5. Kevin,

    What a fun post, I will be stealing your cartoons, because that’s what edupunks do 😉

    Not sure why this whole thing took off like it did, but I think it speaks to something more important than any term, but rather a general dissatisfaction with the current resources and tools our institutions are investing in. I think people here is the key idea for me, and working from relationships where experimentation, innovation, and failure are a part of any endeavor into re-imagining intellectual space and how we negotiate it.

    I agree with you entirely, it isn’t a new idea, “for there’s nothing new under the sun,” but we are in a particular moment, and that moment reflects its own specificity on how we think about education, sharing, and openness. technology is just one lens for this.

    Thanks for all the fun 😉

    Jims last blog post..Web Spaces of Hope: David Harvey shares his Capital

  6. @Alex H: Cool, found more good stuff to read: Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed

    @Jim: Thanks for dropping by. Perhaps in a broad way, the term “Edupunk” does help converge loose ideas some of us have been practicing, to give what we do more depth and persuasion. It’s participatory in many ways, with the excitement of taking risks by both teachers and students. It is an apt label. And yes, stealing = attention, which is a rarity these days. 🙂

  7. Nice strip Kevin. Like many others I observed that term fill the edublogs with everyone racing to get on board. I haven’t seen it mentioned for a week or so now. As I have posted over at media socialists I wonder about these memes, etc. Where will the term be be in 12 months? 6 months?

    Everything is so ‘now’.

    To be honest when I first saw all the rave about edupunk the first thing that sprang to mind was it was all a bit of a wank. All the mindless acolytes jump on board and furiously masturbate on their keyboard. Trying to see who will come first. Regarding the punk aspect… how many punk bands have they actually seen and were they even alive at the time?

    Cheers, John

  8. Thanks Ivan and John! Punk connotes a lot of things, but in this case, it’s something to do with being DIY and having greater student involvement in classes. Rather than watching a pre-planned show, students get involved in the process of what goes on in class, like setting up the syllabus and such. Edupunk goes further, it converges the passion of indie (perhaps radical) educators.

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