Ed Zed Omega - Reimagining Education

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-)

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On School and Socks

 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.

May: “I really don’t see the point… I feel like every second I spend in class, being bored, not caring, is a wasted moment. I want to be an actor. I want to get my real life started… high school is holding me back.”
November: “But here’s the thing: I am not giving up! I’ve learned so much about education, and about myself… I think I will be going back with new knowledge, and that makes all the difference.”
 
August: “I’ve never liked school since I was a little kid, basically – I’ve felt the school system was messed up and wasn’t for me. I would say my last straw was when I was told for me to graduate I would have to repeat my senior year…”
December: “This project has showed me all the different ways of education – how we can educate ourselves. People told me, ‘yo, you have online classes, you have tutors…’ You have to find the way you are comfortable with. That’s what the schools should be focusing on, the way kids learn the best. I hope I can be the person that lets the schools know we need a change. If they want to figure out how to fix the system, they have to start from the base, and the base is – the kids.”

July: “There’s always a way around school work. Everyone I know at RHS has straight A’s, and it’s not because we study together. We cheat together. If we get good grades then our parents are happy and our teachers are happy. I’m not happy though. What is a high school diploma worth if I didn’t learn anything except how to cheat?”
December: “The freedom that I’ve had in the past few months has been the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced. I haven’t had this much freedom EVER. Because I was put into this system when I was six years old. I haven’t been able to do anything except go to school. That’s what my life’s been.
“I don’t want a diploma, I don’t need a diploma to make me feel better about myself. I feel great about myself right now. I feel fantastic. I feel like, if I go back to school, I’m losing.”
 
August: “I feel like if I could just stop going to high school I could spend so much more of my time more productively on my music, instead of learning useless information… I’m partially afraid for my mental and PHYSICAL well being. I get called a fat freak almost daily. I can’t do a duet with a girl without being called a lesbian. I can’t help but go home crying… The teachers don’t do anything. If you can honestly say you’ve never wanted to cry in school then it probably was okay for you.”
December: “What have I learned, how am I different? I think I learned a lot about being more strong and more open to new thoughts… I really need to be open to other people’s ideas, not just my own – ‘flexible,’ my mother calls it.”

August: “Doesn’t the idea of a 17 year old author who drops out of high school to travel the country sound like a good story? Shouldn’t I at least try to be extraordinary? It’s a shame how defeatist our culture is, where 16 year olds decide to be paralegals for the job security and resign themselves to a life of mediocrity before they even get a chance to taste what an exceptional life might be like. When did our sense of adventure become metamorphosed into a paralyzing fear of risk?”
December: “If it weren’t for Ed Zed Omega, I probably would have just p*ssed and moaned about school, and not done anything. Leaving my hometown, leaving school, leaving basically everything, it’s scary, but I like it. – Everything you do costs something. Sometimes nerve. Don’t be frugal with your life.”
 
June: “When I left high school the first time, I felt – suffocated… I wasn’t a bad student, but I couldn’t get passionate or excited about anything school was teaching me. And when was the last time a teacher ever was concerned with who you are as a person, instead of why you failed a test on 18th century English economics. Why would that test shape any part of who I am supposed to be, or change who I’m supposed to become?”
December: “It’s nice to know I’m not alone. The others in this project have opened my eyes to so many problems in the education system that aren’t being addressed, and I’m grateful we went through this together and made a statement together. More than anything, I know I’m not a bad person for wanting a change, for wanting something different for myself and for the future.”

August: “How do people know what they want to spend their lives doing? Some of the Ed Zed kids know what they want to do — Nicole likes music, Clare likes theatre, Jeremy likes writing. I like so many different things that I can’t decide. I have to think about college RIGHT NOW so I know what I’m doing next year. I don’t even want to start thinking about college.”
November: 

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?


December: Nora sums up what the Zed Omegas have decided, and finds herself caught in the conundrum of traditional vs. alternative education.
 
ZED OMEGA REPORT – Final, Part One   ZED OMEGA REPORT – Final, Part Three

The Ed Zeds - Before and After
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.

Clare Morgan, a junior.Clare's "before" videoMay: “I really don’t see the point… I feel like every second I spend in class, being bored, not caring, is a wasted moment. I want to be an actor. I want to get my real life started… high school is holding me back.”
Clare's "after" video!November: “But here’s the thing: I am not giving up! I’ve learned so much about education, and about myself… I think I will be going back with new knowledge, and that makes all the difference.”

 

Xavier Washington, a senior.Xavier's "before" videoAugust: “I’ve never liked school since I was a little kid, basically – I’ve felt the school system was messed up and wasn’t for me. I would say my last straw was when I was told for me to graduate I would have to repeat my senior year…”
Xavier's "after" videoDecember: “This project has showed me all the different ways of education – how we can educate ourselves. People told me, ‘yo, you have online classes, you have tutors…’ You have to find the way you are comfortable with. That’s what the schools should be focusing on, the way kids learn the best. I hope I can be the person that lets the schools know we need a change. If they want to figure out how to fix the system, they have to start from the base, and the base is – the kids.”
Lizabeth (Lizzie) Davis, a junior.July: “There’s always a way around school work. Everyone I know at RHS has straight A’s, and it’s not because we study together. We cheat together. If we get good grades then our parents are happy and our teachers are happy. I’m not happy though. What is a high school diploma worth if I didn’t learn anything except how to cheat?”
Lizzie's "after" videoDecember: “The freedom that I’ve had in the past few months has been the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced. I haven’t had this much freedom EVER. Because I was put into this system when I was six years old. I haven’t been able to do anything except go to school. That’s what my life’s been.
“I don’t want a diploma, I don’t need a diploma to make me feel better about myself. I feel great about myself right now. I feel fantastic. I feel like, if I go back to school, I’m losing.”

 

Nicole Dovant, a junior.August: “I feel like if I could just stop going to high school I could spend so much more of my time more productively on my music, instead of learning useless information… I’m partially afraid for my mental and PHYSICAL well being. I get called a fat freak almost daily. I can’t do a duet with a girl without being called a lesbian. I can’t help but go home crying… The teachers don’t do anything. If you can honestly say you’ve never wanted to cry in school then it probably was okay for you.”
Nicole's "after' videoDecember: “What have I learned, how am I different? I think I learned a lot about being more strong and more open to new thoughts… I really need to be open to other people’s ideas, not just my own – ‘flexible,’ my mother calls it.”
Jeremy Barns, a senior.August: “Doesn’t the idea of a 17 year old author who drops out of high school to travel the country sound like a good story? Shouldn’t I at least try to be extraordinary? It’s a shame how defeatist our culture is, where 16 year olds decide to be paralegals for the job security and resign themselves to a life of mediocrity before they even get a chance to taste what an exceptional life might be like. When did our sense of adventure become metamorphosed into a paralyzing fear of risk?”
Jeremy's "after" videoDecember: “If it weren’t for Ed Zed Omega, I probably would have just p*ssed and moaned about school, and not done anything. Leaving my hometown, leaving school, leaving basically everything, it’s scary, but I like it. – Everything you do costs something. Sometimes nerve. Don’t be frugal with your life.”

 

Edwina Currie, a senior.June: “When I left high school the first time, I felt – suffocated… I wasn’t a bad student, but I couldn’t get passionate or excited about anything school was teaching me. And when was the last time a teacher ever was concerned with who you are as a person, instead of why you failed a test on 18th century English economics. Why would that test shape any part of who I am supposed to be, or change who I’m supposed to become?”
Edwina's "after" videoDecember: “It’s nice to know I’m not alone. The others in this project have opened my eyes to so many problems in the education system that aren’t being addressed, and I’m grateful we went through this together and made a statement together. More than anything, I know I’m not a bad person for wanting a change, for wanting something different for myself and for the future.”
Nora Rose Melendy, a homeschooled seniorAugust: “How do people know what they want to spend their lives doing? Some of the Ed Zed kids know what they want to do — Nicole likes music, Clare likes theatre, Jeremy likes writing. I like so many different things that I can’t decide. I have to think about college RIGHT NOW so I know what I’m doing next year. I don’t even want to start thinking about college.”
Nora's "after" videoNovember
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?
Nora's wrap-up reportDecember: Nora sums up what the Zed Omegas have decided, and finds herself caught in the conundrum of traditional vs. alternative education.

 

ZED OMEGA REPORT – Final, Part One 
ZED OMEGA REPORT – Final, Part Three

Tags edzedomega education learning dropout ezoreport ezothread high school Stuvoice

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

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

Tags school high school goldman ashley freedom ezothread

TRUANT: lizabethdavis: I don’t understand...

TRUANT:

lizabethdavis:

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

Tags curriculum education high school relevant learning rise out school edzedomega ezothread

Reblogged from TRUANT  Source lizabethdavis

Lizabeth Davis: I feel I'm being forced to learn

lizabethdavis:

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.

Tags education echo chamber competition grades curriculum lizabethdavis edzedomega ezothread

Reblogged from Lizabeth Davis 

Zed Omega Lizzie is having a back-and-forth exchange with teacher Hitherto Unexplored between their Tumblr blogs. Hitherto says:

"… 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

Zed Omega Lizzie is having a back-and-forth exchange with teacher Hitherto Unexplored between their Tumblr blogs. Hitherto says:

"… 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

Tags alternative education education educator high school ezothread

fluorescentink:

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.

Tags alternative education dropout education education reform ezothread

Reblogged from Life in the Woods. 

HELLO!
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?
-Clare

HELLO!

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?

-Clare

Tags claremorgan nicki ezothread dropout diploma unschool learning mind-numbing submission


(I’m responding to this post)
Denise,
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.
- Lizzie

(I’m responding to this post)

Denise,

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.

- Lizzie

Tags Learn By Doing denise education enthusiasm lizabethdavis passion submission teacher tech stuff ezothread

Nicki,
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. 
- Lizzie

Nicki,

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. 

- Lizzie

Tags lizabethdavis nicki ezothread diploma dreams success fallback