Beyond These Walls

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Remix of the remix: All mixed up.

I watched RiP: A Remix Manifesto  this week (recommended by Verena Roberts), an open source documentary. At 1:27:21 this film is a time commitment. I was trying to get into the deep end with this open network topic quickly (I am there now!).

The film opens with the manifesto and provides intimate glimpses into life stories of six people are living the remix.


1. A culture always builds on the past.

2. The past always tries to control the future.

3. Our future is becoming less free.

4. To build free societies you must limit control of the past.

Watching the film provoked two other ideas to fall from my brain attic (stored away since the lovely languid days of summer).

The first to fall was a quote from Joi Ito that: “we have obedienced ourselves out of our ability” and further that “disobedience is really what creativity is at some level, you don’t get a Nobel Prize for being obedient.”

There exists a disturbing juxtaposition in mainstream education in rewarding those who do not re-mix and are consistently iterative.

We (the system) penalize and extinguish those who do remix. Ironically, the former is redundant and devoid of connected thought. The later invites us to be active and forge new connections for ourselves.

The control in our system frowns on remixing content freely and demands we (students and teachers) remain within strident content lines (I see barbed wire). We discourage and even condemn pushing beyond boundaries of content (ie using creative dance to explain DNA replication is viewed as artsy, frivolous and therefore frowned upon, think “Will it be on the test?”).  Moreover cross-pollination between disciplines is frowned upon and this works to strengthen both isolation and the razor-sharp lines of how content must be represented.

In Unlearning How to Teach (my second stored nugget) Dr. Erica McWilliam, suggests that “teacher and student [should] mutually [be] involved in assembling and dissembling cultural products.”  Further she states that the ” teacher who does not add value to a learning network can – and will – be by-passed.”  Students will (and have already) discount our value as teachers if we cannot in a real way become co-creators with our students.

Dr McWilliam’s paper stuck with me, although at the time I found it unsettling. In particular I have hung Titanic-survivor-like in the frigid waters to:

“the capacity to move outside the discipline because there is no threat in entering a larger and more strongly contested knowledge world.  One is strong enough in one world to be prepared to be uncomfortable and ignorant (at least temporarily) in another.”

Now for some serious remix…


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