Indie teacher doesn't think outside the box. Indie teacher figures out how to reuse the box or how to subtly turn it into a tetrahedron when no one is looking. And when indie teacher has an idea, it's not in a standard light bulb, it's in a compact fluorescent bulb.
Although I don't experience this in our staff lounge, I have noticed in my online experience that there is a certain type of teacher who is eerily similar to me. For lack of a better term, I call this type of teacher the Indie Teacher. I have a hunch that if we got together a group of indie teachers from around the country and put us in a room, we would self-organize, have tiny breakout sessions with no keynote speakers and the soundtrack would not be typical hotel music. It would be the un-conference, a Burning Man of learning enthusiasts.
It won't happen.
At first I wondered if it was an issue of age. Perhaps the younger generation fits this description better. However, I can think of teachers who are middle-aged that fit the description above. I wondered next if it had to do with post-modernism, but there are aspects of the indie teacher that goes against postmodern thinking (many indie teachers have little patience with pastiche and with absolute relativism).
I'm not always a list man, but there is a sort-of prototype that I'll label "Indie Teacher." The following are some characteristics:
- Independent Taste: Prefers indie, or at least non-mainstream music. Doesn't blush at a self-published book, either.
- Independent Ideology: Tends to vote independent and uses strange labels (I'm a left-leaning libertarian, I'm a green moderate) in the process. This teacher is skeptical, but not necessarily cynical, toward social institutions like schools, government, corporations - this type of teacher doesn't "love" public school so much as loves the learning process.
- Independent Social Networks: Tends to share and sees horizontal collaboration as more valuable than being forced to use an "expert" resource. In other words, this type of teacher likes to share links, share resources, share ideas, share content. You'll see a Creative Commons license on blog posts, for example.
- Independent Teaching: Develops resources rather than using school-imposed curriculum, doesn't depend on schools to fix discipline issues, etc.
- Independent Mindset: Tends to be open to new ideas, supportive of paradox and contemplative. At it's worst, this can look like chincy, cheap idealism. At it's best, it becomes innovation. It's no wonder that you see so many indie teachers quoting Seth Godin's Linchpin.
Hey, check out my book Teaching Unmasked I'm selling it at-cost or you can download it for free as a PDF.