One of the most interesting sessions at this year’s Educon was facilitated by Chad Sansing and Meenoo Rami, both of them Science Leadership Academy faculty. The title was Hacking School: the EduCon 2.4 Hackjam. I didn’t know what to expect – and what actually happened was beyond all expectations.
They gave groups of four or five of us, collections of objects (tiny cotton balls, crayons, blocks, etc.) and a complete Monopoly set. We were instructed to play the game, but told that players, as part of taking their turn, were required to change the rules in some way. On my first turn, I was at such a loss that the best rule I could make was that if you couldn’t come up with a rule, then you had to figure out a way of wearing a colorful pipe cleaner. Someone may have uploaded a photo to Flickr.
The rule I took away from the game was to never play monopoly with anyone more than 40 years younger than you. None of us took the activity very seriously.
However, as the debriefing began, it became apparent that there was intent behind this exercise. That follow-up conversation became part of the game. We continued to change the rules, to hack our own insights – as we exchanged our exceedingly diverse experiences.
Then Sansing and Rami introduced us to Hackasaurus, a tool that enables you to take most any web page, examine it’s underlying code, and then hack that code to change the look and content of the page. Learning about Web coding (HTML & CSS) is the ostensible purpose. But I kept thinking about the playful learning that might result from asking students to hack particular web pages about their current topic of study in history, science, etc.
Then, what really kicked me in the head was when someone said that..
“..anyone who is not a programmer is part of the program.”
The earth trembled under my feet, as I began to parse out the statement’s meaning, and my previously held notions about teaching and learning broke down and recombined into something new.
“What is the purpose of education?” It’s a frequently asked question these days and I have long said and written that the purpose of education is to prepare our children for their future. Now I believe that,
The purpose of school is to prepare our children
To Own Their Future!
Are we (educators) making programmers,
or are we just making software?