The last few days have seen the online education community come alive with talk of Edupunk.
The term was originally coined by Jim Groom, who continues to elaborate on the ideology in his blog. Just a few days old, Edupunk has already spawned its own website and an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
So far, most of the online discussion seems to be focused on what the term actually means as an approach to pedagogy. Jim Groom himself refers to a "DIY ethic", where educators make the most of the, often basic, materials they have to hand — sounds like the majority of teachers, to me! Its association with technology, in particular the read/write web with which many of us are now so familiar, has suggested, to some, a connection to the cyberpunk movement and its emphasis on technology's role in societal change. Finally, the anti-authoritarianism of punk is manifest in the distaste expressed for the corporate appropriation and repackaging of tools often born of individual enterprise.
But is any of this actually new? Many educators, perhaps more privately, considered the process of education to be a subversive act long before the works of Paulo Freire and Neil Postman (Socrates, anyone?) and, of course, many still do. I would certainly concede that Edupunk is a rebranding of existing ideologies, both historical and recent, but herein lies a strength.
In a profession as conservative and resistant to change as education, Edupunk — as a word, an idea, a burgeoning philosophy — has the potential to resonate with teachers and students alike and possibly galvanize them into action in new ways, connected as they are through technologies that were absent from our institutions only a few short years ago. The discussions over the last few days alone on Edupunk and the opening up of education have revealed deep passions around the subject; many identifying with the ideas, with others perceiving it as this week's hot topic.
Of course, it's name may change, but these ideas of "radical pedagogy" have always been with us and, I trust, always will be. Whether Edupunk endures or morphs into something else, I believe a conversation has now been (re)started that will persist beyond this initial flurry of excitement and express itself in our classrooms and lecture theatres, wherever they may be.
So — let's get to work!