Saturday, 14 February 2015

FAQ's- The Appeal of the Edcamp...

What expectations do you have for profes by kjarrett, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  kjarrett 

So edcamps have been around for a while now. Here's a little history for those new to the concept of an "unconference." The whole vibe of edcamps actually derives from a different form of meeting called a barcamp, a simple effort to 'get togehter to share ideas.' We call our little edcamp Red Camp, and we get lots of questions about what exactly it is. We thought it would be prudent to talk about the most prominent four questions we get asked in hopes that our answers will encourage you to join us for this year's version, Red Camp 15. These are outstanding questions that extend beyond the "why are edcamps free"... or "how do you pick topics for an edcamp" sort of questions that are easily answered by a quick web search, or by clicking the links abouve. We feel these questions get to the meaty heart of our version of an edcamp...

  • Folks seem to want to know more than anything, what is the purpose of an edcamp? 
As stated above, that's a very easy thing to articulate... the purpose of an edcamp is to bring diverse people together for a set period of time to share ideas within a context. Edcamps are about education, but as we all should hopefully realize by now, education is about more than just teachers and students. All members of society have a role to play in producing vibrant, thoughtful and creative young minds. The questions is not whether those roles exist, but rather whether we choose to take responsible action toward fulfilling them. People who show up at an edcamp are those who have made this commitment. They understand that everyone has a responsibility to support the evolving minds of children, our gifts for the future.

  • Why would someone spend a Saturday of their own time at an education conference?
That's a great question, and one we ask of every participant we run into. The answer has been 100% consistent...
I came today because I am passionate about learning and teaching and I am happy to spend a day with others who share this passion talking about how to serve students, parents, colleagues and my community in optimized and creative ways.
Of course this is a hybrid answer, but the gist is the same for every single redcamper we've asked:)

  • Why do you ask non-educators to join the Red Camp conversation? 
We strongly believe that every member of society older than a child has a responsibility to support that child until that child grows to become a supporter of children younger than that child. In the eternal words of Professor Herbert Vilakazi,
"The problems of children and of youth, giving rise to child and youth care programs, can only begin to be solved in that society of humankind’s dream; a more collective-oriented society than at present, when the father of the child shall be every man as old as the child’s father; when the mother of the child shall be every woman as old as the child’s mother; a society of responsibility of the entire community; a society without poverty; without the inequalities of society members, based upon race, class, or sex; a society without the use of violence against other members of society; a society without any exploitation and oppression of any group by any other group; a society of equals; a thoroughly democratic society; last, but not least a society that shall have, once more, incorporated productive labour into the educational process."
Of course we all have a role to play in supporting the happy, healthy development of well-adjusted young people who will grow to become the nurturers of the generation to follow them once becoming care giving adults themselves. At RedCamp we believe that diverse members of adult society need to speak more often, and more proactively about growing happy, healthy and well-adjusted young people in collaborative and creative ways.

  • Why do you invite students to speak and participate as redcampers?
To us the response to this question is obvious. We believe that the for the most part in education, the most glaringly obvious under-emphasized voice is that of the student. We encourage youth to represent at Red Camp as facilitators, dialog instigators, ambassadors, hosts and listeners. The kids are our most important stakeholders and we need to hear what they have to say with open minds, and open hearts if we are to serve them in maximized ways.

So among many others, those are the main questions we get asked about Red Camp. We hope our answers will help you understand why we keep this edcamp thing going, and perhaps they will encourage you to attend #redcamp15. There is one more thing though; another rationale we'd like to present. We are very much interested in speaking with any person or group who is interested in hosting a new edcamp in Alberta. I attended a new edcamp in Parkland County this past fall, and it proved to be an excellent and enjoyable experience for me. Edcamps don't compete against one another, they complement each other, and new ones seem to make the older ones stronger... an edcamp network is forming in Alberta. The "edcamp Alberta" concept is evolving with tour stops in Calgary, Edmonton, Spruce Grove, Lethbridge and Red Deer. As a small group of organizers in Red Deer, we want to continue supporting more and better edcamp style unconferences in as many Alberta communities as possible.

If you are a passionate educator thinking about taking the edcamp plunge in your area, please get in touch, or better yet, come to #redcamp15 and we will talk about how we can support you!

See you on April 11:)