[iDC] Can DIY education be crowdsourced?

davin heckman davinheckman at gmail.com
Thu Sep 8 07:33:20 UTC 2011

Mybe the problem is embedded in the name DIY.  I admit, I am a DIY
kind of guy.  I think people should make things.  And I think that
when I identify a problem, I should put my back into fixing it.

But the Y stands for "yourself," which maybe means that it is
appropriate to talk about DIY learning.  Education, on the other hand,
carries with it some connotations of leadership, and implies that it
is relational, and that this relation is set into motion via power
differentials.  A person leads another person, implying that there is
something they could be led to.  These power differentials can be
economic, informational, epistemological, etc.  An ideal model of
education would show respect and apply itself as strictly as possible
to forms of knowledge that can modify that which is already known.
Honestly, I expect a room of teenagers to know tons of really
important stuff and I trust that they can inuitively grasp justice,
but I doubt that they can efficiently discover how the world works
without good tools and guidance.  I mean, look at the Tea Party, most
of those people are in their 50s and 60s, they fancy themselves
incredibly savvy about politics, world history, and economics....  but
they don't know.  And many of them have taken education into their own
hands, they read books, they go to lectures, they read white papers
from economists, and take courses from Glenn Beck's online university.
 They are aware that something is wrong with our political system.
They clearly know that the U.S. government often fails to represent
them.  They understand that opportunities for working people are
diminishing.  They know their health care sucks.  They are beginning
to sense that war might be an enormous waste of life and resources.
But they are confused about how and why this is happening.  They think
maybe it's George Soros or Hitler reincarnated or the Antichrist or
Saul Alinksy or Big Bird.

To the extent that DIY education can just be a bunch of people talking
about what they already wanted to talk about, crowdsourcing and DIY is
a potentially tragic combo for education.  Maybe we don't need f2f all
the time, but we do need education to be rigorously interpersonal, and
this interpersonal aspect needs to be directed.

Now, I know that much of the scholarship and much of the anecdotal
evidence on DIY ethics tend to acknowledge the powerful role that
communities play in cultivating, validating, and benefitting from the
ethos.  It is a powerful step in the life of a person to choose to
take responsibility for the things that matter to them.  But the next
step from personal responsibilty is the correct recognition of those
things for which you aren't personally responsible and for those
things which you cannot overcome on a personal basis.  DIY
consciousness is a transitional phase to DIO (Do It Ourselves).  And,
once we give in this idea that yourself is just one part of the
collective set of selves, then we do step into relationships where
reading lists, direction, leadership actually matter.  And, as a
matter of personal preference, I like being in a seminar with students
who are all reading the same thing and writing linear argumentative
essays.  It is a format that I know how to use, and one which teaches
concentration, patience, argument, and mutual respect in the pursuit
of critical thought.

On the other hand, I think good education is not about the format.
It's about finding the places where individual desires and necessities
and common desires and necessities converge, it is about cultivating
an understanding that the world beyond the self is real.  And, so
education, maybe, can only be DIY insomuch as it can transcend itself.


On Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 2:39 AM, Jon Ippolito <jippolito at maine.edu> wrote:
> Anya Kamenetz wrote:
>>> What's your project?
> Brian Holmes wrote:
>> http://messhall.org/?page_id=934
> "The first part of each session will be a course delivered by Brian Holmes, with readings that may be done in advance or afterwards."
> How is "delivering" a course based on assigned readings more exemplary of DIY education than teenagers tossing their *own* ideas back and forth, in an open-source environment they built themselves?
> For all his jargon, John Hopkins offered a more meaningful critique than glib allusions to "capitalist game robots":
>> There is no particular need to search externally for knowledge....A community without any f-2-f component who attempts this generation of relevant knowledge promulgates an increasing degree of deeply operating alienation.
> Given the choice, I'd also rather meet over breakfast than over a BBS. But some valuable interactions require a nonlocal conversation.
> Students in rural Maine can't afford to fly to Chicago for Marx at the Mess Hall, but they can afford to load The Pool in their browser and debate ideas with students participating from the other side of the nation. In 2009, Ryan Page was frustrated at a state referendum repealing the first governor-signed law recognizing same-sex marriage. The next day in The Pool, Page solicited collaborators for a campaign called Documenting Bigotry, meant to record the statements of politicians who opposed the law, so their testimony could be used against them once society got around to recognizing the rights of all genders.
> Page's proposal inspired some astute feedback from a student at UC Santa Cruz using The Pool, who was sympathetic but nevertheless argued against his idea. Adriaan Noordzij had suffered through a similar defeat in California the year before (Proposition 8), but having had more time to think over, counselled Page to engage his opponents rather than exacting revenge on them.
> It is hard for me to imagine any other way the average 20-year-old Mainer could afford to find and converse with a fellow 20-year-old political strategist 3000 miles away, in the other state of the union that had just repealed same-sex marriage.
> Nicholas Mirzoeff wrote:
>> Anyone that needs to ask "what has Brian Holmes done?" should go and do some research and not engage in flaming.
> With due respect to Brian, that may just be the most snobbish response I have read to date on iDC. (Brian and I can remember much more offensive ones from nettime ;)
> Cheers,
> jon
> ______________________________
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