Friday, June 08, 2012

TeachPaperless: Final Post

Dear Readers,

I hate long goodbyes; so I'll spare you.

The news: this is it for TeachPaperless. I've decided to close up the blog. As this has been a big part of my life for the last three years, this moment comes with mixed emotions. But it is time; we've accomplished whatever this thing was meant to do and now it's time to make new things.

Before heading out, however, I wanted to acknowledge some people who have really made this whole project work. I'd like to thank Reader Knaus -- who I believe was the very first reader to really get into a comment discussion on this blog; thanks to Will Richardson, Ira Socol, Chris Lehmann, and Clay Burrell for inspiration; thanks to Scott McLeod; thanks to Richard Byrne; thanks to Dean Groom and all the crazies in Australia; thanks to all the folks who took part in the original Friday Chat sessions; thanks to the editors and folks at Edutopia, ISTE Connects, NY Times, Ed Week -- especially K. Manzo; thanks ASCD, MindShift, Audrey Watters; thanks to Robert Pondiscio for being such a great person to argue with in the early days of this project; thanks to Anonymous -- who is a very prolific commenter; thanks to Malcolm Gladwell for not beating me up (not that I think he would have); thanks to everyone at Johns Hopkins School of Education -- especially my former students; thanks to Bob Schick and to all of my former high school students / lab-rats; thanks to all of the readers and commenters who pushed our thinking here; thanks to all of the contributing writers; and especially thanks to John T. Spencer -- hands-down the finest pure-writer anywhere near the education discussion today.

I think we did some good stuff here; and I think we (or I should say "I") screwed up a fair amount. I take full credit for all screw-ups and I humbly accept whatever the fates allow here on out.

This also marks the end of my formal classroom teaching career (although for the last year I've taught exclusively online). Over the years, I've come to realize that I can't be a classroom teacher. My interests in learning are in the things that exist beyond the structure of a school curriculum and an academic environment. Luckily, we are living at a time when teachers have more ladders available to them to pursue their work in education than perhaps at anytime in the last hundred+ years -- from collaborative community based art projects to social entrepreneurship to the design of new technologies to the dreaming up of new programs that challenge the traditional barriers of time and geography and that will effect a real future.

And so, in the capacity of co executive director, I've joined with fellow teacher Andrew Coy in helping the Digital Harbor Foundation to found a series of community education and technology centers in Baltimore. We'll be serving Baltimore City Public School teachers and students K-12 -- delivering extracurricular after school maker-experiences where teachers gain free, open, and relevant PD and students gain digital literacy skills through the experience of actually building new things and new designs and new technologies.

I'm pretty crazy excited about the work we've done so far; and will be sure to detail where things lead on Twitter -- which, btw, I'm now going to use exclusively as @blakeplock.

Last thing I wanted to say -- and this is to the teachers and students out there: go make stuff. Stop jumping through hoops. There is a world out there and there are a million different ways of becoming educated. You don't have to follow their rules. Go out there and make stuff. Stuff that matters. Stuff that makes people smile. Stuff that changes the way other people do things. Stuff that's beautiful. Stuff that's ugly. Stuff. Stuff you make. Stuff that reflects who you are rather than what they want you to be.

Thank you all for some great conversation. Now it's time to really put my nose to the grind in Baltimore; I expect you'll be hearing about what our kids and teachers are doing soon.