Trying to re-figure out what has already been figured out.
Let me start by confessing my sins. I have not really read any educational/creative/non-fiction books since college. Sure, I have flipped through and googled those kinds of books, read reviews on those kinds of books, and talked to people that read those kinds of books, but as far as the thirsty, let me get at this, kind of reading, I just haven’t done it. Eeeek!! I know. I have read a lot of fiction, student essays, kid books, articles, blog posts, social media posts, yoga books, food articles, and song lyrics. I guess I have been focusing on other areas of my life and now I am ready to turn my attention back to information gathering/personal/professional development in a more “formal” way using books.
During the last year a learning fire as been reignited in me–mainly due to an increase in my twitter activity. I am inspired daily by the awesome educators just putting it all out there for the world to see. Somewhere between David Theriault and Sean Ziebarth (which isn’t very far) this remix concept became a blip on my radar. I believe it is somewhat like revising lessons but it also involves stealing, adapting, adding, deleting, showing, and sharing. I guess at its core the word remix is a remix of the word revision. So, that means this whole concept is not really that new either? O-well, remixing sounds more fun than revising so I’ll go with it. I’m in the beginning stages (a beginner’s mind) of just about everything right now.
SIDE NOTE: Creative type books coincidentally fall under the self-help category in Barnes and Noble.) I wonder, is that a hint that artists and creative thinkers might need some form of help? Or is it that the creative types know they need help so B&N is just keeping it real and putting the two categories side-by-side? Either way, when I’m in the market to buy books I like to get my hands on them so I usually end up at the local corporate giant bookstore. (That is obviously another blog post and a tangent I won’t explore right now.)
Here is my revelation and the true reason I started this blog post:
A couple of weekends ago my son needed a Milton Hershey costume for his 2nd grade wax museum project. He needed to dress like an old man so I immediately thought, “Goodwill!” The first time we went we found a tie, white shirt, and little boy suit pants. Score! But he needed business man shoes and we couldn’t find any. Well, actually we did find one, that belonged to a pair, which rendered it useless to us. As the week went on I ended up running out by myself to look for shoes. By myself…ahhh…is something that doesn’t happen often so I made a point of getting lost in the used book section.
While there, I couldn’t resist picking up this old writing handbook. I noticed the spelling chapter was bookmarked with this friendly reminder the once owner wrote. Spelling is my nemesis but I have never referred to it as “Spelling Demons.” Nor have I performed the exorcism the note suggests to rid myself of spelling demons. Maybe that’s why my spelling still suffers? At that moment my mind flashed back to a lifetime of bad spelling and that’s when it hit me: My whole entire life has been a remix. No, seriously, ask my mom. I was raised walking the tables of flea markets, yard sales, and second hand shops. Most of the things I had already belonged to someone else. In fact, I grew up watching my parents earn additional income with their “hobby”(obsession) of buying, refurbishing, remixing, flipping and reselling. It was a way of life for us. During my college years, which spanned about 10 years, it was the only way I was able to maintain a furnished place and clothes on my back. I trolled the isles of second hand stores for years and would wake up early to drive/bike around looking for yard/estate sales. There was no shame in my game. It was in my blood. I always loved the idea that whatever item I bought or obtained already had a story and now I got to add mine to it. Looking back it was the ultimate remix.
My 30’s and my children: I become slightly germ phobic and wanted new things. I actually earned money, got married, and my roots got lost in the hustle and bustle of the OC. Sure, I would chip every now and then but lugging around two little kids kept me out of the game for awhile. Until, I just recently started to open my eyes again.
My most recent purchases:
Beautiful, I know. I couldn’t help but imagine what conversations had taken place on this red phone from Brazil. I immediately thought it would be a good “Bat Phone” in my classroom. I would never be able to use it as a functioning phone in America, but I thought it would make a good classroom prop. The red chairs, well, most people would buy 2 or 4 but I lovingly took all 3. I wondered why these chairs looked so new, yet 1 was missing? Where was the 4th one? What happened? And what work, stories, and food had been shared while people were sitting in these chairs? I would do a furniture mashup in my house or…take them to my classroom. How could I take these yard sale treasures and remix them with my stories? This is why I buy the stuff- for what the items were, could be, and will be.
So how does this relate to education and teaching? Well, the whole remix thing is big now amongst certain circles. I haven’t read any books to learn more about it yet, but I am discovering bits and pieces from here, there, and everywhere.
I actually kind of feel like remixing is just a natural extension of who I am and who we are as educators and even deeper as a society. The more I look for things remixed, the more I see it, in EVERYTHING. Ideas, people, stories, writing, music, art, fashion, furniture, food, myself, and you. It’s mind-blowing but almost anything can be remixed to make new meaning for someone else. It seems ongoing and endless. The possibilities remixing allows are exactly the kind I want to create for my students in and outside of the classroom. I want them to be able to be anywhere, on any day, in any situation and see something that they can remix for themselves.