The Blog Post that Started StuCamp

I consider myself an EdCamp alumni. I have attended EdCamps in and outside of Iowa. I participate. I facilitate. I try not to pontificate. I love EdCamps. I was at EdCampIowa this last spring and an idea hit me between the eyes. I thought to myself, "Self, what if we had an EdCamp that was for students?" Imagine this: an EdCamp where students facilitated all of the conversations. Where teachers were present, but as observers - not facilitators? What if, unlike your stereotypical school setting, it was the role of the teacher was to listen and the student to talk? What if we stopped ignoring the people most affected by education and used those people as the primary resource for the reform of that education? Thus, StuCamp was born. Why have a StuCamp? I squarely believe students think that school is done to them. It is something to endure. It is something to just make it through. For school to be a game changer it has to be something the students do. I said once: Education is something that is done to me. Learning is something I do. Explanation: I went to college. I "got" an education. Someone educated me. That was done to me. On the other side, I play the guitar (Where are you going with this, Mr. Barner? Just go with it for a minute). I decided one day that I was going to play the guitar. I gathered up the resources and equipment that I needed and set out to play the guitar. No one told me to go forth in a certain manner. There was no curriculum, no formative assessment, no cumulative test. I learned, and I did so independently. I set about reaching a specific skill level. I wanted to be able to play "this well." And when "this well" wasn't good enough, I set about reaching a higher skill level so I could achieve what I wanted. This is the difference between extrinsic application and intrinsic motivation. So, why do I care? StuCamp is a time for that intrinsic motivation to come out into the great big world and take a lap. It gives an audience to the student. It gives a chance for students to talk about how our "teacher-created-perfect-lesson-that-will-soon-be-the-cause-of-a-golden-apple-being-shipped-to-my-address" didn't allow that student to learn at the highest level. It gives time for a student to say, "remember that time when we learned that way? That was awesome." StuCamp will create a space where we can talk about how our intended curriculum, the taught curriculum, and the learned curriculum were no where near the same. StuCamp is an opportunity to crowdsource education reform with our most important stakeholders: our kids. How is StuCamp going to work?

  • Well, StuCamp will function just like an EdCamp does, but the topics discussed will be those which are important to our students.

  • The role of the teachers will be to listen, observe, and learn. They can contribute to the conversation, but teachers taking over conversations will be treated the same way as those who bring Power Points to EdCamp. Avoid at all costs.

  • StuCamp is meant to connect students. Think about your personal learning network; StuCamp could be a time for students to begin to develop student learning networks. What if students were having this educational conversations and connections like we do? Could it make the grassroots ed reform at the classroom level possible?

  • For StuCamp to work, we need to educate our students. We need to prepare them to think in ways they haven’t thought before. They have been programmed to be educated. We now need to showcase their voice in learning. We will provide resources to help teachers begin this conversation.

What are you going to get out of StuCamp? That really depends on if you are a teacher or a student. Will we leave StuCamp with a 27 point plan on how to immediately reform education for all time? No, but will we have spent an entire day thinking about the improvement of the most important thirteen years of our children’s life? Yes. At StuCamp we will move students to the driver seat in the conversation about education reform. No more will they passively ‘passenge’ through their schooling. They will be expected to have an opinion about the quality and practice of learning. They will excel beyond our expectation. ​-Dane Barner