October 26, 2013

The Marshmallow Wars: How One Man is Revolutionizing Academia. ~ Renée Picard

Our educational system has been broken for a long time.

Working in administrative roles in post-secondary institutions, I’ve seen first-hand how archaic and inherently flawed academia is.

I was a college and university student for a long time. Completing my undergraduate degree in (human/environmental) Geography helped to shape the person I am today on a deep level. I do not regret this for one moment.

Ironically, though, the teachers who affected me the most are the ones who taught me to always question—and challenge—‘the system.’

Call them left-wing Socialists, call them visionaries, call them revolutionaries. Whatever they are, they are so much more than just teachers.

These are the people that show us the importance of asking questions, of seeing possibility, of creating meaningful change in the world.

Enter Michael Wesch, a Professor of Anthropology at Kansas State University and digital ecologist. I was so fortunate to have heard him speak yesterday at a work function.

One of the amazing things that he is doing is incorporating elements of ‘play’ into his class projects. ‘World Simulation 2013’ (aka ‘The Marshmallow Wars’) gets students off their butts and into the fresh air—but also learning about the world in a very real way. Take a look.

This man is publicly carving pathways that allow students to decide, express, and create what is important for them, learning for themselves and teaching each other, making education about their unique voices rather than about institutional standards.   

I (and I’m sure most of the room) resonated so deeply with what he said that by the end of his presentation I was shaking.

This vision is something that I want for people in all walks of life, not just students and teachers. I want to see every aspect of our day-to-day lives incorporate the principles that we believe so deeply in.

I want to (I do) use digital media to teach, share, learn in meaningful ways, to connect people, not distract them. Because I (we) see a world where there is no distinction between work and play, between learning and teaching, between 100 people in a classroom and the global community.

Knowing that I’m not alone in this is what keeps my heart beating.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise


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