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In my first post this year, I put forward my predictions for 2010.

I’d like then to pick up on the first point — Bubblegum EduPunk – the ineffable essence of nothing.

Stepping into 21st Century learning — should be a leap into tomorrow — Buck Rogers style. My idea of punk is not exactly the same as Malcomn Mclaren’s. So, even if education has been frozen for 50 years like Buck Rogers– its never too late to thaw out and kick some Draconian butt.

What is Edupunk anyway?

For me, eligibility for the dubious label “edu-punk” means delivering more than content – digitally. It is about reacting to popular culture, not being scared to pioneer and explore ideas yourself or with students in ways that are experiential. The degree of punkyness is very much relative to the environment and opportunity.

Poking your finger in the membrane of learning is not about being a radical throwing tweet-grenades into staff rooms or buying a Nerf gun. You don’t even have to be a hero, heroine or martyr  — you just have to want to be a better teacher and be willing to be experiential in doing it.

Conceptually, I think EduPunk is just a datum point. For many teachers it was an awakening to the insanity of making kids learn by absorption in an era where for any given topic, no one human can absorb that amount of information — nor do they need to. Get out of whatever orbit you are in and be a punk for while — even if that just means reading a different kind of book . We all react differently to technology, so for some — talking to the Librarian or approaching an integrator is a commendable first step. Some however do nothing, deny it or block. These are the one’s who need a metaphorical kicking. There is no excuse for this behavior in my view, unless you have been frozen in time, staunchly demanding everyone revert to your way of thinking should get you Zooka’d.

Fortunately many teachers create amazing things like the Flat Classroom or wikis that change thousands of minds (Andrew Church). Many more develop resources for their students like Mr Miller and create vibrant networks for students, such as English ClassIIIA. At some point all these people went punk because they wanted to. Punks create conversation – and this is sound of the (digital) suburbs that like it or not are the future of education — formal or informal – playing out in the metaverse.

Bubblegum Punk

The urban dictionary is tough on bubblegum music, saying “many bands use this style to make their music because it so effectively goes right to the top of the charts and gets them money”. A close relative is Sugar Punk – which usually involves wearing baby blue and pink, with lots of intricate designs and layers.

Truly disruptive teachers —  are those who don’t take sufficient care to immerse themselves in the culture and networks — but go online anyway. Those who lecture others about technology, but themselves are almost invisible online. More worrying are those projects which get kicked off because of someone’s bureaucratic or political agenda — often manifesting as pilots — which teachers then have to follow. These often consume time, effort and resources that could be better used elsewhere. These are the bubblegum edupunks.

Never mind the learning, heres the text book

Way back in the 1930’s, Hugo Gernsback, the’ father of science fiction’ didn’t settle on leaving his Amazing Stories in print. He took his protagonists onto the radio when few radio stations were interested in Science Fiction. This punk-mindedness is what we all need to have. Gernsback  did get his airplay … and now we have the movie Avatar. We too manifest ourselves worlds that have long been imagined — as avatars, but it takes real effort to download Aion and play when you don’t know why. We have to force our minds to deal with them and not ignore or dismiss them.

The digital-datum point

Each of us have unique datum points and stick to familiar channels. I looked for a story and found this old radio play from the 1930s. The hero is presented with an un-recognisable version of himself in from the future after noticing a strange notice in a store window —  the Ineffable Essence of Nothing (You can listen to it). This is very much how the majority of teachers currently see technology in professional practice.

Upon entering the store the owners tells him. “Nothing is impossible, Mr Castle … and none of this is real unless you make it real”.

For some teachers, trying the impossible means allowing students to communicate in a forum. For others it will means teaching English in World of Warcraft. For students, every day is real. They don’t get to choose.

This is punk-mindedness. Repeating something without going somewhere new, just to look like Buck Rogers? … bubblegum … Wilma Darling, I’m home!

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