I had a few words with Jim Groom over at Bavablog via the comments after following up on his Glass Bees post in which he coined the term Edupunk. We realised, via some of the more negative replies, that some points are not clear. That is, the ideas and theory of the Edupunk discussion have been around a while and are not controversial at all. Labelling it Punk has just thrown some distasteful associations at the conservative element among us.
While studying drama at university I was pleased to find out that my long list of complaints and criticisms of secondary education were not simply adolescent tantrums. They had been covered by groundbreaking educators such as Augusto Boal's theatre of the oppressed and in Paulo Freire's landmark work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Through student centred work in these models I found that I could learn drama in a non-competitive atmosphere gaining real skills and awareness that all seemed relevant to what I wanted to do.
How does this help us understand Edupunk? Let's start with some Paulo Freire. The following is from his analysis of our 'banking system' of education where students are filled up by the teacher and must reproduce for tests or in jobs - the goal is to order the students in a big ladder to see how they fit into society.
The reason d'etre of libertarian education lies in its drive towards reconciliation. Education must begin with the solution of the teacher-student contradiction, by reconciling the poles of the contradiction so that both are simultaneously teachers and students.
This solution is not (nor can it be) found in the banking concept. On the contrary, banking education maintains and even stimulates the contradiction through the following attitudes and practices, which mirror oppressive society as a whole:
(a) the teacher teaches and the students are taught
(b) the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing
(c) the teacher thinks and the students are thought about
(d) the teacher talks and the students listen - meekly
(e) the teacher disciplines and the students are disciplined
(f) the teacher chooses and enforces his choice, and the students comply
(g) the teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting through the action of the teacher
(h) the teacher chooses the program content, and the students (who were not consulted) adapt to it
(i) the teacher confuses the authority of knowledge with his or her own professional authority, which he or she sets in opposition to the students freedom
(j) the teacher is the subject of the learning process while the pupils are mere objects
It is not suprising that the banking concept regards men as adaptable, managable beings. The more completely they accept the passive role imposed on them, the more they tend to simply adapt to the world as it is and to the fragmented view of reality deposited in them.
Whew! A lot in there and that's just one page out of 180 in Pedagogy of the Oppressed. So ...
Edupunk seeks to see the world and transform it - not to learn its system.
Edupunk teachers have equal human relations with their students, they exchange experiences.
Edupunk classes are democratic communties, that is - the true meaning of anarchy; small self governing community untis who shape their own destinies through freedom.
Edupunk groups do not enforce discipline - they explore their relationships and dynamics.
Edupunk teachers value the ideas of their group and listen to it, together they form the path of the course.
Edupunk groups are not afraid to improvise and explore without a pre planned end goal or pay-off such as a test or a piece. They grow as humans throughout the process and do not need judgement.
Edupunk respects human dignity, not authority.
Edupunks are seeking to build lives not choose one.
Still got no idea where this is going? Try this amazing book - Games for Actors and Non-actors by Augusto Boal.