Habitual Discomfort in Teaching & Learning

Edupunk as revolt in 2008.

We started the semester by listening to Jim Groom’s TEDxNYED talk, The Educational Apopcalypse which inspired the URL for our summer course site. But there’s a little more about Jim Groom to talk about (ok that’s an understatement) when thinking about educational technology. Back in 2008 he coined the term “Edupunk” which as a movement burned brightly then subsequently faded due to it being co-opted, and now more likely transformed.

Then transformed into a community in 2012.

The two photos above are both of Jim Groom. In 2008 the edupunk image is one in which he shows his face with an attitude and positions his fists which if launched forward would hit you smack in the face. I think the photo speaks to the provocation he hurled onto higher education – compelling an enduring conversation about technology’s role in education and the value of education itself.

The second photo from 2012 with “DS106 4LIFE” doesn’t include his face, and the fists  don’t face you directly, more presented to you to show their change with time. This is a Jim Groom that wants you see the community not him. Don’t belie this new look as softer though (those are fists still) and the fiery passion for transforming education.

What I find most compelling about the story of edupunk and Jim Groom is that he never allowed himself to become comfortable. You could say his star rose with the early debates about edupunk, but he never hung his hat on the movement (though he likely could have). To have done so wouldn’t have been very ‘punk’ and though someone else set-up shop around the term without even acknowledging his part, he doesn’t really care to grouse.

This attitude got me thinking about what I always remember hearing from other instructors about teaching, “the first year is always the hardest.” And after that, you sort out your curriculum, your style of teaching and then you can practically coast. You have your lesson plans, your notes, and all the history of the preceding years to lean on. Which actually in a lot of ways is true. YOU DO LEARN A LOT in your first few years of teaching.  And you could hang your hat on those years, stay comfortable and make a career out of those initial years. You could never change…

That’s what we’re practically taught as instructors, find what works and don’t deviate. But what happens when things change, as education is now being impacted by the internet and communication? Honestly not much! Classrooms didn’t suddenly radically change (revisit Michael Wesch’s video for a reminder), they’re basically the same. Because most educators have hung their hats on ‘something that works.’

So I invite you to imagine what it might be like to stay uncomfortable with your teaching, to recognize you need to continue to work on reinventing your educational-a-game. That the hard work will never stop and shouldn’t ever stop it just transforms – that’s edupunk.

In a blog post reflect on these ideas and the links above and see where they and your journey through articles, blog posts, videos, images, etc. takes you. Please quote, embed, and/or link to as many of the pieces you find that strike you. Also you can read Jim Groom and Brian Lamb’s article Nevermind the Edupunks; or, The Great Web 2.0 Swindle in which they reflect on edupunk two years after it’s inception.


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