August 14th, 2013  |  Filed under Playa Tips

On-Playa Edjumication Explosion

August 14th, 2013  |  Filed under Playa Tips

People tend to go all fish-eyed when you use the words “Burning Man” and “education” in the same sentence, but even a quick look at this year’s What Where When (WWW) guide should convince the skeptics that there’s going to be a whole lot of learning going on Out There. Or to use the technical term, “edjumication.”

First day of school, BRC

Photo by Dan Adams

Though it’s not specifically addressed in the Ten Principles, ours has always been a culture of teaching and learning. It’s the glue that holds us together, the DNA that links the generations of our oddball family. Small wonder when you consider that our people are freakishly well-schooled in the default world – 64 percent listed a bachelor’s degree or higher in the 2012 Black Rock City census. And while no one can say for certain how many are educators by trade, it’s clearly in the many-to-hella range. So many, in fact, that a pack of education-themed theme camps are joining forces this year to create the Aspire Village, with a projected population of 1,800.

Aspire Village will play host to the Black Rock Educator’s Consortium (Tuesday through Thursday), the Burning Nerds Global Unconference (Friday), and a series of TEDx talks (Thursday), capped off by a high-stepping, clothing-optional sing-along to Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher.” Okay, I made that last one up, but the rest is all legit, and promises a lot of useful cogitation around the notion of burnifying the academic world (and vice-versa).

But what if academia’s not your cup of tea? Do ivory towers give you nosebleeds? Rest easy, friend – there will be hundreds of other courses and workshops catering to your every Burner-learner whim, from the ridiculously practical to the sublimely surreal. Want to learn some new dance moves? Take your pick of belly, break, butoh, capoeira, Polynesian, swing, or tango. Does yoga matter to you? Practice your usual practice or pick up a new style at about a hundred pop-up studios. And of course there will be no shortage of sex ed – male, female, solo, couples, fetish, and other, including something called “dildo fencing,” which frankly frightens me.

Speaking of dildo fencing (and how often do you get to write that twice in a day?), there will be no shortage of “only on the playa” quirky classes of every imaginable persuasion. Seriously, there are dozens of these in the WWW guide, but I’ve applied my own idiosyncratic lens to the list and pulled out a personal top ten:

How to Start Your own Religion (Fractal Camp). Don’t tell Larry H. I’m going to this one, he might get nervous.

DIY Flying: What to do if the pilot is dead (DIY Camp). You mean, other than wet my pants and cry like a baby? Color me curious.

Geology of the Black Rock Desert (Earth Guardians) and Drunken Geology of the Black Rock Desert (Camp DDI). Hmmm, if I could only attend one of these, which would it be?

Postapocalyptic Brewing (Camp DIY). Zombies and beer? And biodiesel?! You had me at beer.

DIY Straight Blade Shaving (DIY Camp). Learn how to “regain the manly art of shaving.” And as a bonus, how to stick it to Bic and Schick.

Neurobiology of Hallucination (Camp DDI). Whoa. I mean, whoa.

MaTHgic Confabulation (Center Camp). Not sure what MaTHgic is, but they promise to teach me how to build a frabjous, and I’ve always wanted one of those. Bronze medal for best course title.

You Have Died of Dysentery (Camp DDI). Billed as an “old-timey history tour of the Black Rock Desert.” Which is cool. But the course title is where the money is – hand over the silver.

Books and Boobs (Camp Beaverton). Yes I am ready to “explore the gender binary in apocalyptic fiction and cargo cult.” Because I love books, that’s why. Gold medal winner for best course title.

If you want to build your own on-playa edjumication schedule (and I know you do), look for the little atomic symbol next to event write-ups in the WWW guide. And bring some extra sunblock for that big forehead of yours, because you’re going to come back a lot smarter than you left.

Stuart Mangrum is an old-timey Burner and Publisher Emeritus of the Black Rock Gazette. He’s currently working on global education initiatives for the Burning Man Project.


12 Responses to “On-Playa Edjumication Explosion”

  1. yammy Says:

    There are a few things you need to be aware of when working for Burning Man… If you regain consciousness and someone is yelling at you to do something, as if you’ve neglected some kind of duty, then there is a problem. If you feel pressure, or are acutely pressured into doing anything that seems dangerous or is something that you normally wouldn’t do except if some kind of external pressure is being applied to you (socially or otherwise) then retreat from that activity. It’s okay to say NO to these ‘officials’. Take care of yourself, and watch out for this type of pressure being applied to others. It’s okay to intervene on their behalf.

    It’s just as party, don’t forget that.

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  2. Railroad Says:

    Get enough sleep and don’t flake out at any point during the week. That is game stepping up. I have never seen anyone under 50 do it. Especially me.

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  3. cELlery Says:

    Earth Guardians give the best field trips and quality education. I’ve copied them shamelessly at our San Diego DeComs.

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  4. charles moffett Says:

    “…many-to-hella range…”…I like that! It’s so definitive of a higher educational outlook and propensity to learning. Nice!

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  5. Wendy Clupper Meier Says:

    Just wanted to add that the UnConference is taking place at Playa Skool (3:00 and Esplanade) here is further information…hope to see you there!

    Burning Nerds, Minds, Creators, Technologists and Visionaries to help us transform learning on the playa and are invited to attend the UNCONFERENCE & Happy Hour!

    ON PLAYA LOCATION: Playa Skool Dome (3:00 and Esplanade)

    DATE & TIME: Friday, August 30, 2013. 4-6pm (cocktails) but Nerding goes all day!

    WHAT: Enjoy a cocktail while we reflect on the big academic questions at our NEW location this year! There will be a whole bunch of Nerds just like YOU to meet and mingle over a cocktail (bottle donations AND mixers are welcome – we are making our own bar).

    RSVP: Please Join us and RSVP to academics here: academics (at) burningman.com

    In addition to our annual cocktail party, we’ve added an Unconference for all the NERDS TO TALK THEIR HEADS OFF! All day Friday come enjoy talks, mini-lectures and activities for all academics, scholars and their fans! Here’s Friday’s schedule:

    ALL DAY BURNING NERDS ACTIVITIES
    FRIDAY AUGUST 30, 2013 @ PLAYASKOOL (3:00 and Esplanade)

    10:00am- Welcome by Nolan Bushnell
    Open Space – sign up for afternoon UnConference. Go out and have a transformational adventure! Scavenger/Treasure Hunt Designed by Evonne Heyning.

    12:30pm -Talk with Singularity University & THNK
    Potlatch BYO DIY, food, guest talks on educational technologies, learning and engagement, games, core and flipping blended experiential interactivity.

    1:30pm UNCONFERENCE – OPEN SESSIONS FOR EVERYONE
    Burning Nerds, Geeks & Doctors….Bring your own talks! 5 MIN SPARK TALKS on your latest research 30 minute & 1 hour CONVERSATIONS on your geeky educational interests.

    4pm- Closing by Brian Behlendorf
    With a reading of a collective manifesto for learning.

    4pm – 6pm Burning Nerds Cocktail Hour Mixer
    Hosted by Dr. Wendy Clupper-Meier.

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  6. Risque (of CampDIY) Says:

    Well, CampDIY certainly is humbled. I guess we are going to need more beer, wiskers, and a new plane!

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  7. Coyote Says:

    Particle Camp will be doing live monitoring of the air quality of the city. Stop by the Particle Bar, or our associated photo studios… the Burning Cult of Bottled Thoughts (http://playaevents.burningman.com/playa_event/10134/) or Penis van Gogh (http://playaevents.burningman.com/2013/playa_event/10416/).

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  8. AAurelia Says:

    Yes sign me up !
    But maybe I will be lost by Friday .

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  9. UVee Says:

    Thanks for including us!

    BREC (Black Rock Educators Consortium) is actually in GIGSVILLE, not Aspire. We meet in the Lahnotan Korps shade structure (the MASSIVE 1800sqft camouflage spot on the map.)

    BREC 2013 AT-A-GLANCE

    3:30 AND E, LAHONTAN KORPS, GIGSVILLE
    UNDER THE GIANT LAHONTAN CAMO SHADE

    TUESDAY

    7:00PM-9:00PM COCKTAIL AND HORS D’OURVE RECEPTION AND KEYNOTE ADDRESS
    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A DIFFICULT PERSON…JUST PEOPLE WITH DIFFICULT PERSONALITIES! UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE FROM THE INSIDE OUT WITH DR. TINA “KATRINA” THOMAS

    9:00PM-10:00PM A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, DREAM MASTER: THE DEVELOPMENT OF IDENTITY

    WEDNESDAY

    12:00-1:00 HEALING THE WOUND: USING THE COMMON CORE TO REBUILD CREATIVITY IN THE CLASSROOM

    1:00-2:00 PATHOGENS AND YOU: MRSA, INFLUENZA, AND AIDS- OH MY!

    2:00-3:00 NATURAL SUNSCREENS YOU CAN MAKE WITH YOUR STUDENTS

    3:00-4:00 TEN PRINCIPLES FOR CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

    THURSDAY

    12:00-1:00 BRIDGING THE SPACE BETWEEN US…WITH ROCKETS!
    1:00-2:00 IDENTITY & RADICAL SELF-EXPRESSION IN THE PROJECT-BASED CLASSROOM

    2:00-3:00 OUR 10 PRINCIPLES – LAYING A FOUNDATION FOR A CREATIVE CULTURE

    3:00-4:00 3:15 EXPERIMENT: WRITING IN A HYPNOGOGIC/HYPNOPOOMPIC STATE

    4:00-5:00 MAPPING RITUAL SPACES: INSIGHTS FROM ANDEAN ARCHAEOLOGY

    FRIDAY

    12-1pm, with Winslow Burleson: STEM / STEAM (A for the Arts) education and Inventioneering (DIY Hacker/Maker activities)

    Other Break-out sessions to be listed soon!

    BREC.ino
    facebook.com/blackrockeducatorsconsortium

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  10. Ben (Dinosaurs and Also Cavemen Too) Says:

    Hi all,

    Piggybacking on the edjumication movement, I just wanted to let you know that each day Tuesday – Saturday, from 4pm-6pm, the Dinosaurs and Also Cavemen Too group will be hosting a series of lectures on Dinosaurs, and their place in the animal kingdom. We will be presenting in the Cave at the Sacred Spaces Village, at 9:30 & Esplanade, so stop by!

    Best,

    Ben

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  11. gwendolyn alley Says:

    Hi there,

    Join the 3:15 Experiment! Learn more about how and the writing workshop in altered states of consciousness I’m leading in Gigsville on Th from 304pm with the BREC on my blog, Art Predator.

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