Tie And Jeans

Living Whistestop

For my entire life, I’ve heard from both teachers and my peers that I’m scatterbrained. Flighty. I have passions and interests that run hot and cold, with little coordination and zero longevity. If Andrew’s deep down some new rabbit hole, don’t expect a return call any time soon. Worse yet, when it finally comes, all he’ll want to talk about is something new bit of ephemera that he’s spent two weeks grokking and you’ve never heard of before.

Frankly, it’s a wonder I have people to call back at all. But while I’ll cop to all those behaviors, I’m no longer dismayed or frustrated by my combination of deep-diving and flightiness. Because when it comes to learning and exploration, life is LONG. An adolescence spent in arcades might lead to a lost academic quarter, and an ill-advised collegiate pinball purchase) might spiral into more money sunk into electronics tools that spend years in mothballs. But life is long, and that old soldering iron now gets daily use (alongside several, lesser, siblings) in a class of 7th grade Makers. Between working on EECS homework for MIT’s 6002x every week and classes at the National Pinball Museum, I can make a lot more sense out of those old Bally/Williams schematics. Life is long and things come around again. Middle School girls carry sonic screwdrivers through the halls. Life is long and MIRACULOUS.

I’ve been in a better, happier place intellectually this year than any time in my adult memory. Every day is a whirlwind tour through new ideas and new tools, often with brilliant and passionate people alongside.

After a year spent quietly inspired by the amazing #ds106 phenomena, I had a chance to share the love back through their amazing lightning-speed Kickstarter. I love the Daily Create media-culture stuff from ds106, but I’m most smitten with how they grafted a robust by-assignment onto the general purpose WordPress/BuddyPress platform. I’d love to apply those guts to the basics of middle school, reshaping our academic workflow so that “turned in” means “posted on my blog and tagged.”

While I was trying to put my mental house back in order after the 54-hour grind of Startup Weekend EDU DC (SWEDU-DC? Even in acronym form it’s unwieldy), Michael Lindsay got busy putting together an amazing team and building ThreeRing. I’m thoroughly impressed by the product, in all the little ways that it managed to embody the ideas we put into our paper prototypes. I’m more impressed that it retains a clear focus on providing great a great tool that will improve the lives of teachers, rather than the souldead push to “analyize and monetize” that seemed so inevitable at the SWEDU wrap-up. SWEDU organizers, listen up! This is the greatest possible story to entice teachers to attend. Show up with half an idea and spend the weekend working into one 50x better. Then, about a semester later, that vision emerges as completed product. For the cost of $100 and a weekend, teachers can bring the tools they dream about into reality. For local folk, there’s one on Falls Church the first weekend in June. Get your ideas out there! Thanks again to Audrey at Hack Education for her post about the Seattle SWEDU first piqued my interest.

So, yeah, I’m scatterbrained. But with enough patience, and so long as Diigo doesn’t vanish, I’m pretty sure that whatever gets bumped off the fascination table today will make its way around again.

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2 thoughts on “Living Whistestop

  1. Pingback: Laying Pipe with Purpose « Tie And Jeans

  2. Pingback: Sleep-Away Nerd Camp ’12 – Constructing Modern Knowledge « Tie And Jeans

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