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This public media "authentic fiction" sought to crowdsource perspectives about education today. The Zed Omega teens, played by actors, "dropped out loud" from high school -- catalyzing open discussion about the structures and purpose of traditional education and its alternatives. The arc of each Zed Omega character was unscripted: they responded to ideas that people presented. The collaborative thought experiment and "interactive documentary" was live on social media during fall semester 2012. (-Learn more-) (-Credits-) (-Facebook-) (-Twitter-)
Press: WIRED / ARGN - Current - NCME1 - NCME2 - Center for the Future of Museums - StoryForward - AIR -Games for Change - MPR - Sparknotes
The Ed Zed Omega story begins with six teens self-identified as “unlikely” or “very unlikely” to finish high school. Their reasons all had to do with school itself, not with external factors. Ed Zed Omega is the name they invented for a semester-long “independent study” project examining why kids like themselves are deeply unsatisfied with school. At the end of fall semester 2012, they decided whether or not to go back to school.
JEREMY: How do you feel about the statement: ‘Work experience, relevant experience is valued much more than a degree in that field [fashion design]’?
NORA: I think that’s probably true… It’s just so hard to know how to get the work experience without the degree. It’s just so hard to start. I think in a lot of fields people just go to school and get a degree because they think it’s the easy way to get started. Even though it’s not necessary. Or necessarily helps them to be successful.JEREMY: … Why don’t your socks match?
From Ashley, via the Ed Zed Omega Facebook:
“Every home, school, college and university stands for dry, cold utilitarianism, overflooding the brain of the pupil with a tremendous amount of ideas, handed down from generations past. ‘Facts and data,’ as they are called, constitute a lot of information, well enough perhaps to maintain every form of authority and to create much awe for the importance of possession, but only a great handicap to a true understanding of the human soul and its place in the world.”
- Emma Goldman, The Child and its Enemies
I don’t understand why we are required to learn some of the things we do in school…
The responses from teachers to this question seem so small. Learning opportunities are infinite, so why the strict adherence to whatever a particular high school is offering? The standard American curriculum was not handed down from Moses. In fact it’s being realigned right now as states adopt the Common Core…. MORE
I don’t understand why we are required to learn some of the things we do in school. How often do covalent bonds come up in a normal conversation? I feel like I’m being forced to learn this, or else I will fail at everything in life.
I must get an A. If I don’t understand covalent bonds I will not… MORE
Check out the Notes: lots of perspectives there. I can’t help wondering though, as I read statements such as (paraphrase) “individualized education would be nice, but I guess we can’t afford it” if the writers intend them to satisfy students’ concerns somehow. The “student as road” metaphor, for example – probably does not reassure a student that the system has her interests at heart. To me many of the Notes seem to be written for the #education community itself, in a kind of echo chamber.
So please, now that you have our attention, tell us: What practical ideas do you have to fix education in the U.S. when facing laws like No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, the number of students below the poverty line, and trying to close the achievement gap? I’m being serious, not snarky.
Here’s your answer, via Nikhil Goyal.
I want to commend the tumblr editors. Since I mentioned the lack of students in the #education tag- there has been an incredible upsweep of student involvement… MORE
We reblogged fluorescentink’s eloquent video earlier – it’s here.
“… I did realize I wanted to be a teacher while interning for a very alternative education program for high school students. It gave our students a real education in the sense that they learned about topics relevant to the world around us, got to choose their own paths. Peace. Social justice. Environmental sustainability. It’s hands on and although I wasn’t a student of the program, I was student enough as an intern; it changed my life.”
I’ll add more of their exchange tomorrow. In the meanwhile, I’m featuring the Woolman Semester here. Their website says, “Students in their junior, senior, or gap year come for a “semester away” to take charge of their education and study the issues that matter most to them.” - Zephyr
My response to the criticism surrounding my last post “The Tumblr Education Tag Is A Symbol For Everything Wrong With Education”.
High School Students: submit, or write, a post and tag it under #education. What does your ideal school look like? How can we evaluate performance outside of GPAs? What makes a good teacher? What makes a bad teacher?
Let’s be in this discussion.
I wanted to respond to Nicki
Just because I dropped out of public school doesn’t mean I don’t still want a diploma. I know that I for sure want a high school diploma (some of my EZO friends I know also want a COLLEGE diploma).
This is feedback I’ve been getting a lot. People think that I just don’t want to continue my education at all and that’s just completely untrue. All I know is that the public school system just isn’t working for me. Throughout this whole process I’ve learned about other ways of getting my highschool diploma that suit my educational needs more than public school does.
I know that it’s important to have a highschool diploma. It’s also important (in certain cases) to have a college diploma (even though I’m still not sure that I really care about THAT). What I’ve been trying to do is find different ways of getting this certificate where I feel like I’m actually enjoying it rather than just racing to the “finish line” without caring what I actually LEARN.
Do you understand? Do you have any ideas about how I might gain the knowledge needed to graduate without having to put up with mind-numbing public school?
In response to Nicki:
I am starting to agree with you. That’s why I have decided to go back to school. Hopefully it will work out this time. I know think of the set backs and have decided to have at least a back up plan. – Nicole
(I’m responding to this post)
Could you please elaborate on the ideas you have for your class? I’m not sure what you mean by structuring it as a game.
All sophomore year I took a techy class. Each quarter we studied a different topic, images, video, animation, web design. This was the only class that I truly enjoyed and did well in. I think most of it was because I had a great teacher. Each day he’d come into class and it seemed as if he ENJOYED BEING THERE! What a concept, a teacher who likes teaching… So if you seem passionate about your class I think students will start to feel the same.
In the beginning of each quarter he taught us how to use a different system, photoshop, premiere, dreamweaver… etc. Each day he’d show up before class and talk to us like actual people. When class started he’d either teach us how to do something new or we’d just start working.
The things he assigned us to do in the web design portion were actually interesting. The first website we made was a website about ourselves. Then one about anything we wanted. For the final assignment, we had to ask one of our teachers if we could make a website for their class, and we corresponded with them to make a website they could use. I really liked the fact that our teacher thought we had enough potential to go out and make something for someone else to use.
I don’t think I would recommend having your students go out of their way to find a someone to design for, I can’t see college students doing that. It worked in high school because we were stuck there for 7 hours and we had nothing more to do but than find a teacher to work with.
You say you want to use phones and tablets, the only problem I see with that is not everyone having one of those. I have neither and would rather drop the class than go out to buy one.
There were no tests in this class. He graded us on functionality, “do the links work and do the pages open?” During the other quarters when we were making something to which everyone has a different opinion on, the grading was different. He couldn’t grade based on if he liked it or not, thats like an art teacher grading someones personal painting. He graded everyone well as long as he saw effort.
Have you thought about asking the students at your college?
I’d love to hear back from you about your ideas for this class.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Because I don’t want to grow up and become a recruiter or work in a office or a bank or the mall. I would choose the middle of the forest over all of those. Nicole and Clare are both working hard towards their dreams. I think it’s a terrible things to say, “you need a diploma to fall back on”. To me, that sounds like you’re saying, “yeah sure you won’t make it very far”. I truly believe they will both become successful if they work for what they want and believe in themselves.
For now I am putting all my faith in communication. I know how to deal with others and school didn’t teach me that. This project taught me that. Going off on my own taught me that. Living life teaches me that every day. I’ll paraphrase what Jeremy said the other day, communicating, social skills, and interacting with others is not a skill that can be taught in school.