Punk Pedagogyis creating a DIY Education Blog
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Thank you for providing the basis for these kids. You’re getting me teaching kids and writing about it for about 12 minutes a month. That might not seem like a lot, but kids ask me to stay after class a lot. 12 minutes after class is time that they need to talk about their families, or about a project they’re having a hard time with, or sex and relationship questions that they need to talk with an adult about.
A half hour in the Makerspace is time that it takes to help a kid figure out how to back up and try something again, rather than keep banging their head against a project they’re overly invested in. Having a little time to get perspective is huge.
I usually have between 6 and 10 students at a time in the class. Of course, we talk about how to use tools, how to plan projects, how to persevere in the face of unanticipated difficulties.
But we also do serious work to help understand ourselves and each other, how to compromise, how to collaborate, and how to develop compassion, courage, and wisdom. Those take time and attention.
I’m Joshua A.C. Newman. I’m an artist, a game designer, an author, and a teacher. I’m here to help kids learn how to learn — to become courageous, compassionate, and wise humans.
My blog, Punk Pedagogy, is where I’m keeping my journal of teaching experiences.
It is my hope that I can use it as both a record of my development as a teacher and as a resource for educational exploration by educational theorists and pedagogical designers.
Learning is something humans do by nature, and it’s closely related to how we play. When we learn, or when we play, we’re exploring the limited arena of the game we’re playing, and when the arena is one that closely maps to larger, less-safe human experiences, we can take that safer experience forward into the larger, uncaring (or even hostile) world.
Punk Pedagogy is my exploration of that process, of helping kids develop their compassion, their courage, and their wisdom through creative, social play. It’s there to help others develop education fine-tuned to their students’ needs.
This student came to us from a group home. He built a prototype robot hand and is now learning 3D modeling and printing to produce his final version.
The students I’m teaching right now are largely at the Lighthouse alternative school in Holyoke, MA. The school’s students are a mix of public school kids (some of whom came to us on the verge of expulsion), kids who have had a hard time socially or academically in traditional schools around the area, and students whose parents want them to have an atypical, excellent education in a socioeconomically mixed environment. Many of the students are there on scholarships, and the administrators work hard to make sure that resources flow toward the least-resourced students. It’s an institution I really admire, and you should consider donating to it, as well.
This student is mostly learning to draw in the Makerspace, but wanted to learn how to use the drill press. She caught on quick.
Don’t they pay you?
Yeah, LightHouse pays me and its other teachers, but it’s not enough teaching hours to live on, and certainly not enough to teach there as much as I want to. Like most independent creators, I can’t work for free, and LightHouse knows that of its teachers.
Are you taking money away from the public school system?
The school works closely with the public school system, and is formally integrated as an “Alternative Route to Graduation”. We know that Holyoke needs to have a reliable, accessible public school system. We’re hoping to be a model node of a network of small, publicly-supported schools that concentrate on socioemotional, creative, and intellectual development of students, giving them the opportunity to develop their courage, compassion, and wisdom. The school system is dangerously underfunded, and we’re trying to achieve a goal of every kid having the kind of education they need, provided by publicly funded institutions and supported materially by tuition-paying families and other funding sources.
This student loves trains. Here, she's painting a 3D train engine for use on a model in a video game.
Are you a teacher?
Yeah! I’ve taught in the Providence, RI public school system as part of City Year Rhode Island, studied education at my alma mater of Hampshire College, where I later was a Visiting Associate Professor founding its Princeton Review-lauded game design program. I lectured for four years at the Yale University School of Art, and now teach in the UMass Amherst College of Computer and Information Sciences.
But none of that has meant as much as the teaching that I do with the kids at LightHouse. I love those kids and I want to be able to teach there all the time. And I want to share with you what it's like.
Those who can do, really want to teach.
I'm over here, doing. You can fund my creative work, too, if you subscribe to the radical notion that teachers and artists create best when they know where their next meal is coming from!