Ken Carroll vs edupunk

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Jim groomJust a few weeks ago, educator Jim Groom coined the term Edupunk in his blog post about the novel The Glass Bees. There's nothing new to understand here. Jim rightly took progressive community/student centred ideas about education and applied them to the recent boom of Web 2.0 products and technology. In doing so he has provoked a much needed storm of debate on the subject.

Leslie Brooks writes at BlogHer:

In short, edupunk is student-centered, resourceful, teacher- or community-created rather than corporate-sourced, and underwritten by a progressive political stance. Barbara Ganley's philosophy of teaching and digital expression is an elegant manifestation of edupunk. Nina Simon, with her imaginative ways of applying web 2.0 philosophies to museum exhibit design, offers both low- and high-tech edupunk visions.

I studied Drama at university and have since worked in writing, drama and language teaching. These ideas are nothing new to me and especially during my time here in Shanghai, I have found plenty of space to inject the Edupunk ethos into my work. However, I often slip into a dream world where I assume that all educators are progressive by nature.

Enter Ken Carroll.

When I was first at Shane head office in Jiang Ning Road back in 2001, Ken's school Kai En was just across the way. He made a success out of it and then launched Chinese Pod, a web 2.0 service for mp3 language lessons. It was a huge success and host Jenny Zhu is a genuine star here and abroad. Lately, Ken started a blog where he uses his position as a successful edu-business man to discuss learning 2.0.

In his latest posts Ken gets to grips with Edupunk, starting off with Edupunks Need to Grow Up. I wish it was a debate on the subject, but - unfortunately for Shanghai based educators like me - it is little more than a conservative man having a reactionary moment when meeting something 'leftie':

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

And, as usual, if you try to expand these moments into points or debate, it just goes worse from there:

No seven ages of man here. These guys look intellectually and emotionally indistinguishable from their students.

Ouch! Way to indirectly stick it to your own students. If any educator disagrees with student led learning, progressive, humanistic politics or community owned culture then debate Edupunk all you like, but can we leave the 'grow up' insults out of it? 


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Hey Andy,

I am in, and that is a good thing :) I wanted to comment earlier on your write-up here, and it is interesting to get this perspective. At first I was a bit put off by the relatively personal attacks that emerged around EDUPUNK, but I also realize that an idea like this is fraught with issues, and while naming it something may have some power, it also begins to push the question of intentionality and definitions into a different space.

What I like about your post here, is recognizing the idea is already in action, and framing the dramatic and performance elements of allowing students and faculty to work together expressively. It is a powerful realization, not matter how obvious, and if anything this whole train wreck has brought me into contact with educators from around the world that are doing fascinating things that I hadn;t read before.

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This page contains a single entry by Andy Best published on June 10, 2008 10:27 PM.

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