[this is a braindump, so may not make much sense, but posted to inform various conversations going on]

One of the things coming out of various side-conversations from Young Rewired State, when people are bored on what they’re supposed to be talking about, but need to get distracted for a bit, is what to do for outreach to schools.

Ken Robinson comments that everyone has an interest in education in his famous TED talk. I remember sitting at a previous full-Rewired State and listening to two developers, half my age, talk about their experiences of their school, in between doing work as good as anyone else at the day.

One of the other comments I’ve heard, I think from Cory Doctorow, is that the explosion of online talks means that it should now be getting orders of magnitude harder for the school system to beat ambition out of some kids who aren’t necessarily sure that what they want to do is achievable, and who don’t necessarily have a support framework around them yet.

I said here a while ago that I wondered what would happen when the tools available to university students – the traditional bastions of revolt – start getting used by school kids. But one of the things about University lecturers is that they often have some level of interest in what they’re teaching – since they research it (especially at the end years of degrees/PhD; I don’t mean 101 style intros).

In the context around rewired state, what I’ve been thinking that should exist is some sort of guerilla poster. Which has a few interesting things on, including a website to find out more. A site which encourages kids to engage, learn more about the crazy diversity of what they’re interested in, and basically do an end-run around bits of the school system that are demotivating for certain people at certain times.

This could never be an official project – I’m not entirely sure that the Teacher’s Organisations would be willing to promote a site which included talks on civil disobedience. A group who spend a lot of time reading about Civil Disobedience is not something you necessarily want in your classroom, even if the principles of such topics can be good for a society as a whole. A large part of what TED, Do, and the many other related sites talk about is empowerment and engagement.

All it would need, in the first instance, is a simple site set up to signpost to resources – TED, Do, and a few others, to get new 11 year olds into knowing they exist. Plus a simple poster that they can print 2 copies out of, and put up on a wall for people to see, and let other people find this, without having to already know it exists. It would also have the advantage that it could serve as the base network for things like Young Rewired State; where the biggest problem is having people who are interested find out about it. Without the internet, Rewired State wouldn’t be possible. I doubt there’s a high school in the UK that doesn’t have one student who would be interested in Young Rewired State – this year has less than 30.

Plus, this shouldn’t just be for students.

posted: 02 Aug 2010