If Context Shapes Content, What Does It Mean for Hybrid Pedagogy?

This TEDx talk by skateboarder Rodney Mullen fascinates and inspires me, not as skateboarder (which I am most definitely not) but as a teacher and advocate of hybrid pedagogy:

Here are some of the points that I took away from Mullen’s talk that I think impact pedagogy and hybrid pedagogy in particular:

  • the joy is in creating
  • everything is built upon a basic infrastructure
  • what drives us is doing something new
  • context shapes content
  • different environments change the nature of what you’re doing & lead to innovation
  • skateboarding is both disruptive and humbling
  • being in the moment and trusting your intuition leads to new cognitive connections
  • the beauty of skateboarding is that no guy is the best
  • members of the community use skateboarding to individuate themselves
  • they do this by taking others’ tricks, making them their own, and contributing back to the community in a way that edifies the community itself
  • summation gives us something we could never achieve individually
  • hack=knowing a technology so well you can manipulate it and steer it to do things it was never intended to do
  • hacking involves thinking about and doing things in ways that aren’t authorized
  • hacking involves connecting disparate information in unexpected ways
  • open source operates on the premise of taking what others do, making it better, and giving it back
  • there is an intrinsic value in the act of creating for the sake of creating [and teaching/learning for the sake of teaching/learning]

I have not yet begun to process these ideas and figure out exactly how they apply to the 21st century classroom. I’d love for others to begin to discuss, debate, and evaluate these ideas in terms of pedagogy.

How do the practices and rules of skateboarding relate to (or should be incorporated into) our classrooms (both physical and virtual)?

4 thoughts on “If Context Shapes Content, What Does It Mean for Hybrid Pedagogy?”

  1. I have a response on my website (http://www.tex2all.com/?p=587) and my Scoop.it site (TechPedagogy: http://www.scoop.it/t/tech-pedagogy). Basically, I heartily approve of ‘outsiders’ blowing up ‘insider’ expertise yet I feel ambiguous at the same time. I mean…what the hell does a skateboarder know about the institutional structures that learning is confined to.

    I think that the summary above is very handy. Thanks. And I think that we need to enter into an internal debate about how our learning might be way too confined by our institutional scaffolds (accreditation, classroom, grades, etc.)

    Thanks for opening up this door. I have enjoyed walking through into another world that is both strange and familiar. I can learn how to learn and teach better from a skateboarder. Humbling. Exciting.

    1. I appreciate you commenting on and sharing my post.

      I think what makes Mullen’s talk so thought-provoking for me is that one of the overriding themes is that of not allowing institutional structures to limit what they do. It’s precisely because they refuse to acknowledge institutional confines that they are able to innovate so quickly. Skateboarding tricks are constantly in flux because, like hip hop artists, the community thrives on keeping things fresh by not being complacent to just repeat the same things that were fresh yesterday (or 10, 20, 30 years ago). They take what worked yesterday and remix it so that it adds something new to the bag of tricks available to everyone, which in turns inspires someone else to use the new trick to create something even newer. There’s no boredom in skateboarding because there’s always something new to learn or create. Perhaps if we incorporated this kind of innovative thinking into our classrooms, students wouldn’t be so bored and disconnected (and would resist the conformist behaviors and attitudes that the current educational system forces upon them).

      I agree that this idea is both humbling and exciting. And, in many ways, problematic for those of us who are have to work within the system (because our ability to remain in our classrooms often depends on us using standardized methods that conform to what those in control have approved of). We can only hope there will be enough pressure from within the institution to change its refusal to engage in the kinds of insights that this video raises for me.

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