... for tomorrow we DIY
Frances posted a comment on my blog today, and I will take the opportunity here to respond to the two questions she posed:
Question 1: We have the advantage with Edupunk of being able to look at what happened to Punk - anyone done this comparison?
My answer: A retrospective would be a great idea. What happened to Punk was that firstly it energised a stagnating music industry when it was desperately needed. Punk rockers took a DIY approach by releasing their own recordings and printing their own fanzines, bypassing the established industry. Punk rock brought an edgy, controversial and ultimately innovative form of content and drive. It was anti-establishment, sure. But it brought its own structure. Eventually Punk music distilled into New Wave, and opened the door for other music genres including Ska, Heavy Reggae, and New Romantics to achieve popular status. Punk's influences can still be felt even today in the arts, and music has never quite been the same since - so it has accomplished its purpose. I propose that the same analogy will apply to the DIY Edupunk philosophy. It will, and in some cases, already is, transforming some aspects of education and challenging established practices. Open source, I would suggest, was an early example at what we now know as Edupunk - Linux and Moodle have made the corporate giants sit up and take notice. Edupunk will distill too, into less rampant forms of education, but it will do its job by challenging the established practices and subverting some of the corporate profiteering that is currently rife. Music and education - two inalienable human rights, I think.
Question 2: You say edupunk ... "brings the punk band (the teacher) closer to the audience (learner group)". If the learners are the audience, we're back where we started. Edupunk is where learners live edupunk too.
My answer: I can see why some people may have problems with the analogy of 'audience' and 'band'. We are not back where we started, and we need to acknowledge that there are distinct roles teachers and learners play. What I was really trying to get at as someone who actually played in a 'Punk' style rock band in the early 80s was that we, like many other 'new wave' rock bands broke tradition and invited the audience to join us on the stage, and in some cases, we didn't use a stage at all. We wanted to narrow the distance. We even went down into the audience to join them during our performances - remember 'body slamming'? 'Fans' contributed to our fanzine, and there was no 'them and us' syndrome, which was prevalent with much of the mainstream music industry of the period. We mashed up the roles we took, and this is patently something that is also happening when an Edupunk approach to learning is applied - with learners taking control of their own learning, creating shared spaces, forming their own groups, communities and networks to teach themselves. Although this is not exclusively Edupunk, the ethos plays a key role in its success. This approach is reminiscent of Illich's Deschooling thesis, where he called for the removal of 'funnels' which promoted transmission approaches to education in favour of 'webs' which enabled rhizomatic approaches to learning which were eminently more person-centred.
So some people have a problem with Edupunk as a term. It represents bricolage, anarchy and subversion and a challenge to the establishment. We have Jim Groom to thank for the term, I guess, but at the moment I can't think of another term that fits better or conjures up more appropriate analogies. What do you think?