I remember when I was teaching elementary school as a technology specialist. Stickers were king. Little kids will do almost anything for a sticker. I thought that once students moved to high school that was all over but it turns out that some high school kids will do a lot for a sticker as well. I think it is the recognition as much if not more than the sticker itself though. Students like to have something visible to show that they have accomplished something or that they are a part of some thing. Look at the t-shirts and other clothing that students like to wear. How much of it has words on it that identify them as part of something. Most of that is either athletic or social related though. It is so seldom that it is academic related.
Why don’t students wear more to indicate academic accomplishment? Did you ever wonder why we don’t have “honor student” jackets like we have “letterman jackets?” Because it is not cool? Doesn’t it worry you a little that being smart is not cool enough to show off but being able to hit a baseball is? People wear things to represent things they are proud of. Why aren’t students proud enough of their grades to show it off on their clothing?
This week at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC this year but it will be called ISTE next year) a lot of attendees wore ribbons on their badges. These ribbons denoted the usual conference indicators, speaker/presenter, board member, SIG member, etc. But there were also other ribbons that are less traditional. I picked up one that said edublogger for example. And there were several versions of Twitter ribbons. But one of the most coveted ribbons said “trouble maker.” People really wanted to wear those. I did get one by the way and it was the only ribbon(of the five I wore) that anyone asked “where did you get that?”
I think that is interesting as well. The teachers who asked about a “trouble maker” ribbon are often seen as trouble makers in their local schools. They disrupt the status quo and a lot of schools, and administrators, and other teachers resent change. many of the teachers at NECC, especially it seems the ones who hang out at the blogger cafe but many more besides, are not happy with the status quo. They want to change things – to be disruptive influences – and make things better. These people are the exciting people to talk to. These are people who are in it for their students; who want to change the world through education. These are the people who put themselves and their careers at risk (some more than others of course). But boy are they sure exciting to talk to and learn from. At their own schools trouble maker may be a derogatory term but at NECC which is about change and using technology in new and different ways being a trouble maker is a badge of honor and many wear it proudly.
Late note: I guess I wasn't the only one to write about this. See Trouble Maker Tag by someone else at NECC.