Monday, September 14, 2009
Can Geeks be Cool? - A Wired discussion
My husband gets Wired magazine. I'm really not that into technology, my cell phone, digital camera, and Creative Zen (my answer to an Ipod) notwithstanding. However, Wired magazine consistently contains articles that appeal to my geekiness and my interest in what new. The September 2009 issue contained an essay that surprisingly spoke to my interest in education (even as increasingly non-technological my thoughts on education are). "Revenge of the Nerds" by Daniel Roth is about how to make education relevant to kids. There are so many great ideas on how to make education exciting and interesting, but as mentioned in the article:
"The driving force in the life of a child, starting much earlier than it used to be, is to be cool, to fit in," Alex Grodd told the group. "And pretty universally, it's cool to rebel."
The premise is that in large high schools, youth culture reigns and the cool kids generally aren't the ones that are studying and trying hard to get good grades or just to learn (which isn't always the same thing). The article points to a high school that has a low student-teacher ratio and uses community mentors. The kids are kept surrounded by adults. They're required to present their projects to people outside the school. In an environment like this, it becomes cool to try harder. Everyone gets the attention (and the kind of attention) that kids at some high schools get beaten up (or severely made fun of) for getting.
So read the article, and let me know what you think. Is "stamping out youth culture" a way to infringe on the rights of children (as one article commenter implies) or is it a way to make sure that all children can participate instead of just the ones who fit in? (Or something else - not trying to imply a dichotomy here.) I kind of like the implications that this has for homeschooling - maybe socialization is not the be all-end all that it's made out to be and may even be the problem sometimes.