Every now and then, I get stuck on a song and end up going down a rabbit hole, researching its background, meaning, and the artist’s inspiration. When I finished my workout at the gym this morning, this song was playing. I have always loved this song, ever since its release in 2012 (if know me, you know that anything deadmau5 creates, in my eyes, is amazing). Today, however, the line, “The world that the children made” stuck with me. I began wondering exactly what this meant, especially since I spend most of my time during the school year around children–what world exactly did they make?
It turns out that Joel Zimmerman (deadmau5) created the tune with inspiration from Ray Bradbury’s 1950 short story entitled “The Veldt,” a story about the sometimes fragile relationship between humans and technology. Ironically, it was technology that ended up gifting Joel with the lyrics! After live-streaming his creative process and allowing his followers to experience the birth of the tune, he casually announced that he’d begin working on the lyrics before too long. It turns out, an upcoming producer and fan on Twitter had been playing around elements from Joel’s live-stream. Chris James tweeted Joel with his rendition, also inspired by Bradbury’s story, and the rest is history (read more about the birth of deadmau5’s ‘The Veldt’ here).
So what does this have to do with student engagement? It’s twofold, actually:
This entire tune was created from several thoughts building on top of each other. A piece of literature spurned creativity for deadmau5, which in turn brought forth innovation from Chris James. Imagine how much power we can give our students by simply presenting them with an idea or a challenge, and allowing them to weave their own learning–allowing them to use their own voice and ingenuity to problem solve, create, or build. It requires us as teachers to step back and give them room to explore and research. In the end, as active facilitators, we have done very little. However, we will have supported students in spearheading their own learning and an end product that is truly student-made. The world that the children made.
Secondly, since we’re discussing making things, I have stumbled across a tool that allows teachers and students to make useful collections for all sorts of purposes. With Wakelet, I have been able to create my own world of just about anything! Wakelet is a curation tool that allows users to bring together just about anything from the internet, and assemble it in beautifully curated groups. Most recently, I have been using it in order to create presentations for the upcoming Upstate Technology Conference. I could totally see it being used as a way to build or share lessons in the classroom, or even for students to create presentations and organize online research. I highly recommend signing up and “making your own world.” Wakelet is a technology, unlike Ray Bradbury’s doomed HappyLife Home, that makes a truly positive impact on human life.