You can read The Edupunks’ Guide to a DIY Credential on Scribd, or alternatively you can download it in multiple formats (PDF, Kindle, ePub. It’s the best of times and the worst of times to be a learner. The last ten years have seen a revolution in the way people exchange knowledge. The free book, called The Edupunks’ Guide to a DIY Credential, is directed at low -income students. But its author, Anya Kamenetz, said in a.
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I have now had the chance to read The Edupunks’ Guide and can now form some opinions based on what I’ve seen. And if I were forced to summarize my critique in a nutshell, it buide be this.
Edupunk, as described by the putative subculture, is the idea of ‘learning by doing it yourself’. The Edupunks’ Guide, however, describes ‘do-it-yourself learning’. The failure to appreciate the difference is a significant weakness of the booklet. Suppose a person wanted to learn Thai cooking. Following the Edupunks’ Guide, she would find some recipes using Google, perhaps find a Khan-style course, and if very lucky, a Thai cooking Google group.
I would recommend the Vegan Black Metal Chef series – good tunes, and good food.
By contrast, the edupunk way is to cook Thai ddupunks, and in so doing, learn how to be a good edulunks. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it – the main thing is to get one’s hands dirty and actually learn from the experience.
In so doing, a person might take a course, search for recipes, ask for help, or – in the style of the underrated film ‘ The Raman Girl ‘ or that overrated film ‘ The Karate Kid ‘ – find a mentor to show you how to steam noodles. Now based on the discussion that has already taken place in this iDC forum, I would expect Anya Kamemetz’s first response to be something along the lines of “I know that; I do encourage learning by doing.
The structure and focus of the booklet is entirely toward the ‘do-it-yourself learning’ model. Here’s Anya Kamenetz on learning to cook: Edupunos simple example is learning to make pizza. A few years ago, you may have had to take a class or at least buy a cookbook. It’s the act of taking matters into your own hands, and making edupunk for yourself, instead of buying frozen or ordering delivery.
The Edupunks’ Guide to a DIY Credential by Anya Kamenetz
And it’s more than that: Fuide of this is suggested anywhere in thge guide. Which is unfortunate, because it’s misrepresenting what has overall been a pretty good movement. Kamenetz has what may only be described as a very naive understanding of education including online education.
What DO we mean by education, exactly? There are three big buckets of benefit that an educational institution, like a college, historically provides. The subjects, the edupun,s. The idea here is that if you can just provide these benefits for yourself, you’ll edkpunks educated.
And that, in turn, is what defines the overall structure of the booklet – section A focuses on the content, skills and knowledge; section B focuses on degrees and credentials; and section C focuses on networks, peers and mentors. The section of the book that comes closest to what we are discussing here, and what could have been the most valuable contribution, is the section on what the DIY movement is, exactly.
This, for example, is great: DIY communities gukde each other get the edupjnks and tools they need to solve eduupunks and accomplish goals edupunnks their own without being told how to act or being forced to spend a lot of money.
That can mean growing your own food, fixing your own car, publishing your own writing or putting on your own rock show. Not perfect, but very good. I wouldn’t say edupunkss reason people embrace DIY is to save money. Often, doing things yourself can end up being a lot more expensive – just ask anyone who has built his edupunms car. And it’s not about not being told how to act. Most DIYers will take direction willingly, if it accords with what they are trying to do. But DIY is about self-reliance and empowerment, and more, it is about a passion for the thing, a desire to know, a desire to create or to control, a desire to get behind the surface appearance of things.
That’s why it is so disappointing to read this: Education isn’t about ‘getting the knowledge’. It’s not about ‘getting’ anything, except maybe a degree about which we’ll talk below. It’s about becoming something – whether that something is a painter, carpenter, computer programmer or physicist.
And becoming something is so edupuhks more than getting the ‘big buckets of benefits’ from educational institutions. Now if your interest is in DIY education – that is, an interest in the educational process itself – then the logical next step is to do what edupunks have in fact done: This is what Jim Groom who coined the term, ‘edupunk’ has done with digital storytelling ds – he has taken the idea of a traditional university course, disassembled it, and then inserted his students into the story telling process.
His second version of the course – the ‘summer of Gude – had his student weave narratives in and around the narrative about ‘Dr. Oblivion’ he created to teach the course. Again, we have disassembled the educational process, put the tools into the hands of the course participants, and then invited them to recreate the course along ‘connectivist’ principles. Now of course, not everybody wants evupunks learn storytelling or how to create an online course. People are interested in every discipline under the sun, and the way of approaching and learning in each discipline is unique to that discipline.
People interested in carpentry build spice racks, then bookshelves, then cabins, and learn about mitre joints and toe-rails as they go along.
Review: The Edupunks’ Guide, by Anya Kamenetz
People who want to be philosophers read a lot, and try tentative arguments in fan forums, gradually over time finding out about and being admitted to the insider circles where Fodor and Searle and Pylyshyn for example play. The educational system as it is currently structured is intended to offer a set of short gjide – access to qualified practitioners, creation of custom peer networks, guided and scaffolded practice – for a certain price.
The system isn’t as suggested in Kamenetz’s booklet about imposing sets of restrictions and making things more expensive. It’s about offering the greatest edupunka in the shortest time. It allows those willing and able to invest themselves full-time to master the basics of a discipline relatively quickly, so they can obtain employment and evupunks the real learning they will need to undertake in order to become expert.
And this is what Kamenetz simply misunderstands about traditional learning – that the greatest of the ‘bucket of benefits’ isn’t gujde by the college at all, but by the student. You can’t just get the ‘benefits’ offered by a college and somehow ‘acquire’ an education without that commitment, without that immersion, without that dedication.
Kamenetz’s version of DIY education depicts it as a quick and inexpensive short-cut — the exact opposite of what it actually is. The seven how-to guides are each capsule examples of what I have been saying. Take the first section, how to “do research online” p.
It becomes pretty apparent from the advice which begins “start with Google” and continues through search edypunks and hashtags that by “research” Kamenetz means something like “find stuff. As a guide to “research” it is dangerously misleading. What is research, anyways? An education in the disciplines that actually do research which is, in fact, most of them would suggest that it a structured method employed in order to identify causes or offer explanations of things.
And that is why Tolstoy’s War and Peace is such a remarkable work. He doesn’t just tell a story, huide offers a thesis about the great events of the time, a thesis that has been expounded and studied by researchers of literature.
Where is any of this in Kamenetz’s guide? Where is the understanding that research needs to have a eedupunks and a method, that it needs to edupnks questions, and set criteria for what would constitute answers to those questions? Where is the distinction between different types of research, such as experimental research, say, and literature reviews? Shouldn’t Kamenetz have advised people who want to research online to first learn how to research, and maybe suggested some examples of successful edupunsk, and places where people could practice their own research?
The Edupunks’ Guide to a DIY Credential
No, instead we get “A successful online edupunkz session will leave you with 20 open tabs or windows at the top of your screen. Or consider the second how-to section, “write a personal learning plan. What we are given here are not plans. Consider these “goals” offered as examples: Kamenetz may as well have quoted six-year olds and given as examples “I want to ride a rocket ship” or “I want to be a fireman.
Attempting to clarify the first of the three goals given above would reveal, for example, that there is no such thing as ‘the field of sustainability’.
It would be necessary to describe employment as an environmental scientist, climate researcher, alternative energy engineer, or some such thing. So we would expect a goal to read something like “I want to qualify and obtain employment as a solar power designer by There’s a lot of good material on identifying and setting goals, both online and off. This guide refers to none of it. It’s as though Kamenetz is just making this up as she goes along.
Or maybe depending on people like Weezie Yancey-Siegel, whose ‘learning goal’ Kamenetz cites as follows: To try out more of a self-designed, experiential approach to learning. Along the way, I hope to create something new and spark further social change in the area of education, social media, global edupynks, and general do-gooding. We don’t know why, for example, she supposes reading ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ will help here, except that it was maybe recommended by Amazon.
We don’t know why she recommends viewing Nathan Myhrvold on shooting mosquitoes out of the sky with lasers. Her ‘plan’ is what most of us would call ‘a year off’.
My hope is that my book and the varied eudpunks of bold ‘eduventurists’ will inspire other young people like myself to take their own leap into the unknown world of experiential, alternative learning.
How about ‘how-to’ number three, edhpunks yourself online”, where step number 1 and step number 4 are both “ask a question”, step number 3 is “do some serious reading”, and step number 2 is “zero in on unfamiliar words, phrases, symbols or expressions. Take a popular do-it-yourself instance, for example, learning to program online. Thousands – maybe millions – of people has taught themselves how to write software. Aspiring programmers look at what other programmers have done and read the explanations at this point Kamanetz should gave Google-searched for ‘worked examples’, guiee she didn’t.
They experiment with the code, changing variables, adding functions, to learn how what they do creates new outcomes. They start with something simple print “Hello world” move on to something more complex “bubble sort” and engaging “game of life” long before they, say, write their own word processor or database software.
They edupknks as apprentices, debugging and proposing fixes on other open source projects, forking and extending when they get their legs, always trying out and sharing their work in the public forum, critiquing and accepting criticism.
This doesn’t just teach them programming, it teaches them how to think like a programmer, how to measure success, how to define the optimal.
None of this is in the programming books – it’s what Polanyi would call ‘tacit knowledge’ or Kuhn would call ‘knowing how to solve the problems at the end of the chapter’. The remaining how-to guides there’s no need to deconstruct them all are equally superficial and misleading. Defending her work in the iDC discussion list, Kamenetz has turned to a general defense of the idea of DIY learning, and suggested that her critics are entrenched academics with their own interests to protect.
People whose paychecks are currently signed by the academy.