I had a rude awakening two days ago.
If you’ve been following me since last fall then you should be aware that I started a pilot study that used zines (DIY thematic magazines) as a way to try and study my students out-of-school literacies. (This focus has changed a bit since then, but that is a post for another day.) As my project draws to a close with my kids, I knew I would need approval from my administration to move forward with distributing (providing my kids with a real audience) the zines to the rest of the school.
They said no.
Which maybe isn’t a big deal, but in the moment I felt (1) upset and (2) defeated. I suppose in the back of my mind I always knew that it was a possibility that my administrators wouldn’t want any unnecessary issues to arise from distributing writing and images that are edgier than what is typically accepted in school. All that to say, I don’t begrudge my administrative team. It would be a hard sell to me too if I were in their position. (There is a reason I’ll never go into administration.) After being able to think over the conversation I had a few days ago, I decided that in a way I had just had a Dead Poet’s Society moment and, if only briefly, I felt like Mr. Keating (Robin Williams). I had turned heads; I had caused unease; I had pushed against the grain; I had challenged the status quo, and I’m okay with that.
So I won’t be helping my kids distribute their creation to their peers or our immediate community after all. BUT I will have the opportunity to get their work out the scholarly community. I’ll have details in the coming weeks, but per a great suggestion from one of my professors, Dr. Ryan Rish, I’m going to set up a Google Broadcast Hangout where my students can showoff and explain their work to a community that I know will appreciate their creation.
If you’re reading this and you know this is something you’ll want to see, let me know, and I’ll be sure to send you an invite when the event is set.
In the meantime, the lesson learned here is that every community is different and we all have a job to do, but don’t ever let anyone else’s uncertainty defeat or derail work you believe in.