Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Too Punk For...

It is with no small amount of personal embarrassment that I pause to address the topic of "edupunk," as there could be nothing less punk than typing or speaking that word, but I owe it to my loyal readers to offer my own unique insights to the ed-tech buzzword du jour.

First off, I would like to compliment the community for maturing to the point where it is generating its own bullshit internally, rather than having to import it from the latest pop management, psychology or technology book. Way to take it to the next level!

This is, however, an excellent example of a tried and true formula for a hot discussion -- focus on a single provocative word that nobody even vaguely agrees on the meaning of. See also "modernism" and "constructivism."

In particular, since the etymology of "punk" in this case seems to be primarily "punk rock" > "cyberpunk" > "steampunk" > "edupunk." If punk rock and steampunk actually have anything in common other than both involve making things or music, I don't know what it is. So yeah, you can fall back to "punk = Do It Yourself," but that's pretty thin gruel.

The problem with using "punk" in this context isn't that it is impossible, though, just less well fitting than more obvious alternatives. The more useful connection is not to punk culture but hacker culture. In fact, it isn't even a connection. It is a direct overlap.

Or, if you want a smart, nicely pre-marketed version of contemporary hacker culture, it is Maker culture.

The discussions of the musical and political strands of punk has been a pleasant acknowledgment that there were garage bands before GarageBand, folk culture before participatory culture, and revolutionary ideas before 21st Century Skills.

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