― Eric S. Raymond
In the late 1990’s, software engineer Eric S. Raymond wrote an essay, “The Cathedral and the Bazaar,” which struck a nerve and formalized the open-source movement. He argued that software that was developed by the “Cathedral,” or a select and exclusive group of people, was inferior to those developed by the “Bazaar,” or the large marketplace of willing participants.
Jimmy Wales was inspired by this essay when he founded Wikipedia. The Mozilla project was inspired by this essay. If you spend any time working in technology, you will see aspects of this ethic everywhere. I recently learned the statistical language R (which is open source) and was amazed at how many thorough explanations to any possible problem were a short Google search away.
Related is the hacker movement, which has been misinterpreted and coopted to mean, essentially, “stupid shortcut.” But both the hackers and the open source movement have a set of philosophical principles that could be applied to education: openness, decentralization, meritocracy and a devious sense of humor.
Education reform up until this point has been from the “Cathedral” – from prominent universities, Bill Gates-funded charities, or the Federal Government – and the results have been lackluster. At the NCTM last week, I saw a “bazaar” vision of the future: the MTBoS, or “Math Twitter Blogosphere.”
It is a group enthusiastic math teachers who blog about their lesson plans and get feedback, support, and ideas from each other. Yes, teachers have been blogging for a while, but these guys are getting organized: Check them out on Twitter @exploreMTBoS or use the hashtag #MTBoS, or look at the new website: https://exploremtbos.wordpress.com/