[iDC] Discussion: The Edupunks' Guide

john sobol john at johnsobol.com
Mon Aug 8 20:36:27 UTC 2011

Anya, I think your book looks quite useful and I genuinely hope  
people use it. But I don't think anything in it positions you to  
criticize academia for not being 'punk rock'. Academia is not - of  
course - punk rock in any way. For not only does it not embody the  
values or behaviours or style of punk but it actually represents  
their antithesis. But then again academia never said it was punk  
rock. Whereas your book does claim that heritage.

I haven't been part of the Edupunk discourse in any way so I don't  
know how seriously anyone who uses it takes the punk thing, but in  
the context of the many radical DIY pedagogical possibilities enabled  
by the web I think it deserves to be taken quite seriously. Or at  
least as seriously (and not) as it took itself. Which isn't the case  
with your book.

For example, DIY training in order to gain certification from  
existing learning authorities can hardly be considered to reflect the  
DIY spirit of punk culture, yet that seems to be a very significant  
focus of your book. Again, I have no real problem with this. If  
people want to do it they should go for it. But the deeper  
possibilities are to explore how knowledge can be usefully located,  
generated and shared *outside* of existing knowledge-certification  
academies. Which also includes the possibility - indeed the  
likelihood - of being in direct conflict with those institutions, or  
of trying to achieve goals that are not supported by those  
institutions. In fact, punk rock went out of its way to constantly  
provoke those conflicts, and to both implicitly and explicitly  
highlight subversive epistemologies and non-conformist social values.  
So where is your chapter on hacking? Stealing degrees? Making  
plagiarism pay? Somehow I think Malcolm McLaren would have approached  
the Edupunk's guide with a little more panache. I mean, the Gates  
Foundation, really?

A more radical and authentic punk pedagogy in the age of the web  
would I think focus on radical personal creativity, explicit defiance  
of educational norms, the power of collective action, networked  
subversion, etc. A mashup of John Dewey, Kathy Acker and Julian  
Assange maybe. Whereas your book - useful as it may be - is a whole  
lot safer than a book with its title should be. Or could be.


bluesology • printopolis • digitopia

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