Monday, August 6, 2018

IDIC And Education- An Education Under My Skin Post

"Education Under My Skin" is the name of my perfect hypothetical keynote, in which I use some of my tattoos as jumping off points to talk about educational philosophies and strategies. Because teaching is a job that lives inside you and tattoos are, well, you get it. To that end, if I do end up also making it a series of blog posts the posts will be shorter and less detailed than the keynote would be. I also realize that a speaker getting up in front of a bunch of teachers and talking about his ink is an unusual way to engage the audience and make points, but that's kinda what I do. If this sounds like something you might want to know more about for your conference please reach out. Pretty please. I really want to write this all out and give it. It'll be good.

Where my nerds at? Know how you know if you're one of my nerds? You know what you're looking at and what it means. Everyone else, come along and prepare for nerdery. 

IDIC is the basis for all of Vulcan civilization. Vulcan as in Spock of the NCC-1701 Federation starship Enterprise. The guy on Star Trek with the ears that look like he had a terrible childhood accident in a mechanical rice picker*. IDIC is an acronym for Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. Not only is IDIC set up as the basis of Vulcan philosophy, but it can be extrapolated to be the guiding principle of all things Trek. At its heart, Star Trek is about IDIC- celebrating the vast array of variables in the universe. That beauty, growth, and progress are all born of a union of the unlike.

It's hard to take the artist out of the art in most cases, and in Star Trek's case, especially the original series, it's basically impossible. Gene Roddenberry, the Great Bird of the Sky and creator of Star Trek, had this to say about humanity- "Until humans learn to tolerate -- no, that’s not enough; to positively value each other -- until we can value the diversity here on Earth, then we don’t deserve to go into outer space and encounter the infinite diversity out there." That's IDIC. 

"In my time, we knew not of Earthmen. I am pleased to see that we have differences. May we together become greater than the sum of both of us."

-- 'Surak', "The Savage Curtain"** (Star Trek: The Original Series)

IDIC is at the heart of education. That's why it's on my wrist. The pulse of a teacher flows with IDIC. I can feel it inside me. And, I think, it shows in how I teach.

Embracing IDIC means embracing our students, fully and completely, as they are and as they will be. No class is ever the same from year to year, and no two students are ever the same. We accept that and rejoice in it, we see the beauty that comes of an education that is not One Thing, One Way. It's a constant struggle, IDIC isn't easy, it isn't immediate, and it's never over. When we look at our class libraries and think, "Huh, there's a whole lot of dead white guys in here. I need to change that" and then we do, that's IDIC. When we stop judging parents, othering students, centering ourselves, believing we are the One with the answers, we move closer to IDIC. IDIC is seeing me in my classroom, hanging off the ceiling, hooting and hollering, and seeing the teacher in the room next door speaking just above a whisper, calmly and quietly helping her students succeed, and accepting that both of these and everything in betwen are equally valuable. IDIC is looking at something from the district and thinking, "How can I make this do what my kids need it to do? How many different ways can it be used?" IDIC is eradicating ignorance, fear, and hate through knowledge and understanding and constant, living, growth.

"The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."

"And the ways our differences combine to create meaning and beauty."

-- Miranda and Spock, "Is There In Truth No Beauty?" (Star Trek: The Original Series)

I don't even know if IDIC would come up in conversation if someone asked what my educational philosophy is. In fact, I know it wouldn't. I've been asked that question enough in job interviews and not once have I arched an eyebrow at the interview panel before answering. But I know why I've never mentioned it in an interview- It's always been there. Star Trek is one of those things in my life that I have no memory of "starting". I remember discovering Doctor Who, Stephen King, Metallica, fandoms that are important to me. Star Trek has always been there, from the beginning. And it's the kind of show that wants you to not just watch it, but absorb it, think about what it's trying to say, engage with it. Therefore IDIC, a foundational principle of my most foundational fandom, has always been there. Under my skin.

*You google it, then watch the episode. It's on Netflix and one of the best of the entire series
**Fun Fact- This episode also has Abraham Lincoln in it. And it totally works. Trust me, watch it. 

Credit to Memory Alpha and Fanlore for helping with quotes and details.

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird TeacherTHE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and the just released A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher.


  1. I L๐Ÿ’—ve how you use the combination of Star Trek (futuristic) & enthusiasm of symbolism, as an anology to provding your mindfulness, empathetic, and creative way of sharing your thoughts on education! You Dah B๐Ÿ’ฃmb!๐Ÿ’ฅ

    On a second note, the word weird has different meanings across the gl๐ŸŒŽbe. Positive or negative. Honestly, I do not believe it defines you. What defines you is the PASSION, the ENTHUSIASM, the POSITIVENESS, the INCLUSIVENESS, the CREATIVITY, the MINDFUL CONTENT you share with the Edu community gl๐ŸŒŽbally! Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿป๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

  2. Thanks for reading it and commenting! The weird thing came from some kindergartners at a school I was teaching at. They whispered "He's the weird teacher" when I walked by and I loved it so I stole it from them. Some people might think it's negative, and that's on them. I think it's cool.

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