Thinking about interest-driven

Ben Kirshner, from University of Colorado Boulder, kicked off the question/answer session of the Envisioning 21st Century Civic Education panel at DML by highlighting three principles of connected learning that he thinks might support us in moving in the right direction in terms of civic education:

  • interest-driven
  • openly networked
  • production-centered

He then framed the word “interest” in relation to civic engagement, in particular, in a way that I thought was really helpful and probably would be of interest here too. He said:

often times … when we think about the word interests in a dml context we think about the hobbies, the passions, things that we like to do, things we enjoy, which is one kind of interest … but another kind of interest that I heard the presenters from Los Angeles speak about is a more political type of interest, meaning a sort of need, demand, a kind of self-interest … in other words, what are my interest in this game, what do I have at stake here? And what do I need from my community, what do I need from myself, what do I need from my government? What are my political interests? And what I heard presented from the LA group is an articulation of some of those interests. So when we talk about interest-driven learning, I think we do need to hold onto this political meaning of interest that we heard articulated so clearly.

The “group from LA” that he referred to included a teacher, Laurence Tan, along with a group of students involved in the Council for Youth Research and/or the Watts Youth Collective. The students presented a great presentation that I hope they will share on Digital Is coming up soon.

In the meantime though, here is a video about Laurence and his work:

How does this frame on “interests” impact your thinking about connected learning in your context? What questions does it raise?