Thursday, February 27, 2014



We talk the talk of our seminal thinkers such as Dewey, Piaget, Freire, Vygotsky and Papert and research the research of the classroom of tomorrow, but the end result remains students prepared and preparing for teaching the classroom of today. The gap between current cultural needs expressed by cyberspace,  makerspace and entrepreneur type developments and common school practices yawns ever wider. The edupunk movement ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 56) is in part a reaction to and a means for bridging that gap. Of the available educational alternative models, Montessori was one of the contrarian seminal thinker that did not retreat to academe's writing shelter. She stayed the course in the children's classroom and built a global school system based on her deep observation of child behavior. She designed and constantly refined a very different model. I claim her to be the first edupunk teacher/administrator.

Lillard (2005) wrote Montessori: the science behind the genius, which is a marvelous analysis of the Montessori approach. It is an approach more attuned to 21st century opportunity then the dominant system in place today. Through this review it is not hard to see a classroom setting that encourages the learner to

"learn to regulate themselves, rather than being regulated largely by external forces" (p.326). 

Whether those external forces be international corporations, national education enterprises or policy unsupported by facts, this is a mantra of both punk and edupunk thinking. Within her model, participants in the classroom, or students or learners, or however you label them, decide what to do and when and had long uninterrupted blocks of time to do so. Yet this was not a freedom from the development of real skill, but a setting that created an expectation and real support for mastery learning. Just as the punk band still had to play well, so did the classroom band member, but their choice played a large role in the self-motivation to get that growth, not grades, orders or behavior management slights. Montessori schools are often pigeonholed as early childhood centers, and many are, but a web search will turn up many schools that have extended that model through middle and high school.

This spirit lies at the heart of the Do It Yourself (DIY) spirit of the cyberspace and makerspace movement. However, DIY is really not a fully representative phrase of edupunk thinking. We need to coin another word here. It is not that its proponents want to be isolated; far from it. They build global personal learning networks to feel empowered to know that they can do "it" by themselves. With that local knowledge and personal creativity they then make their own unique contribution to thinking global.

Those with the spirit to be free see endless opportunity in the constantly emerging tools of the digital age and the Web. In that spirit I add to the Twitter hashtag, #montessoripunk and hope the study of her real achievement inspires and informs our own paths. Tweet on.

Twitter "find your tribe" hashtags: #DIY #Edupunk

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