My favorite teacher growing up was my 4th grade teacher, Ms. Buckwitz, a Corpus Christi a Catholic grade school. And I’m not Catholic, I just took a three-and-a-half-year tour of grade school wearing dark brown slacks, white button down shirt, and a brown clip-on tie. This was part of my roving schooling days, as my family attempted to find the ‘best’ education in town.
Ms. Buckwitz had a way with students that weren’t motivated to work on their cursive, or times tables. She would simply say, “I don’t get mad…I just get even.” It was threat that included the playful throwing of semi-soft objects at students from a distance if she caught them not on task. I’ll admit that I don’t recall whether she was a progressive educator, or simply following a curriculum that was likely rigid and boring (remember it’s Catholic school). But Ms. Buckwitz was a lively teacher, getting everyone working on something with a good energy. I can’t believe I found an image of it online, but this was a figurine I gave her at the end of my 4th grade year.
Now Ms. Buckwitz does not blog about teaching, or not that I could find (4th grade was a lonnnng time ago). But but the blogger about education and his teaching I’m going to write about is Jim Groom and his site BavaTuesdays. Jim is an instructional technologist at the University of Mary Washington working in the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies (DTLT).
Jim also teaches a class out of UMW on digital storytelling, called DS106. I found Jim and ds106 in the past year while he was in the midst of teaching DS106 as a massive open online course (MOOC). This basically meant teaching a class with registered students, and then inviting the world to come and take the course as well. I was one of those ‘open participants’ taking the class with probably another 100 or so people.
Jim did a summer section of ds106 that he renamed the “Summer of Obliviion.” Why? Because Jim played a character called Dr. Oblivion who was a reinvention of the Dr. O character from the film Videodrome by David Cronenberg. He also played, himself as the teaching assistant to Dr. O. You should know that to play Dr. O, Jim shaved his head into a really, really bad looking bald man. (See figure VI below.)
There’s a lot more to talk about when it comes to Jim’s teaching and his theories about models for open education. But for this post, it’s this risk taking, the willingness to play alone with his students and become someone else, literally to make a point about story and teaching I find amazing.