Can a Remix Have Value if the Original is Still as Popular as Ever?

Freshly returned from yet another amazing Summer Spark at University School Milwaukee!  As was the case last year, I’ll have a deeper reflection on the sessions I attended in a later post, but today is all about remixes.  No, we’re not talking about music remixes, but rather educational remixes.

After delivering my session on Summit Seeking at Summer Spark, I was exhausted!  It had been a nerve-wracking experience, and after watching the video of it, I felt even less happy with it.  It struck me as overly complex, hard to connect with, and even simply re-hashing ideas other speakers had said and implemented better.

The original purpose of this blog had been twofold.  First, provide a space for reflection for myself on my growth and journey as a teacher.  Second, to share out ideas and strategies I’ve used in the classroom and to highlight the awesome educators I’ve met through my professional learning network on Twitter and in my daily work.  By those measures, I’ve enjoyed this process, but I’ve started to think this could be more.

As I was attending & presenting at EDCampJOCOKS this year, I had a chance to meet Tara Martin and told her I was presenting at Summer Spark and she asked about my topic.  I told her, and she wondered if I had ever thought of writing a book. I replied, “Not really” but my mind was already turning. So she offered some great insights and suggestions about the process, and I that weekend I put a rough outline together and shared it with Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. through their contact form.  I didn’t expect to hear anything for a long time, so I started writing the manuscript, figuring at least then I could flesh out the ideas for the Summer Spark presentation and clarify my points, even if for myself alone. That’s when the problems set in.

I decided I (selfishly) wanted a book with my name as the author and that amazing pirate logo on the spine.  I wanted to write something broad and profound that any teacher could use to improve themselves and their teaching, as well as their students’ love of learning.  I put together a spreadsheet of ideas, a more detailed outline, and even Googled how to format a book manuscript for publishers. As I wrote more and more, and prepped for my presentation, doubts crept in, and a few have stayed around.

I’ve come to realize that the vast majority (nearly all, in fact) of my ideas are simply remixes (or even straight up cover versions) of stuff I’ve read in the other DBC Inc. books.  There isn’t much original in Summit Seeking as a philosophy, either. All it amounts to is a set of questions I ask myself before I implement anything new in my class, questions I’m certain every teacher asks themselves every day.  What this meant to me was that I was merely standing on the shoulders of geniuses, producing nothing new, and trying to “sell” it as bright, shiny package of ideas that really belong to other people.

Hence the title of today’s post, my ideas are remixes, but the originals are still immensely popular. It begs the question: Is there any value in that?  People will tell you to tell your story and that it, to paraphrase Derek Sivers, may be obvious to you, but amazing to someone else.

But ultimately, does it need to be told in a book, or should remixes remain in the classrooms or schools where they were written, and let the originals go out to the world?


Summit Seeker(s) of the Week: This the shoutouts go to all the amazing DBC Inc. authors whose books I’ve read and ideas I’ve tried to cover or remix within my classroom. There are far too many to list here, so I’ll provide their Twitter handles in the Twitter thread for this post. Please know that every one of you has inspired me in some way to grow as a teacher and my students have benefited greatly from all of your awesome ideas and insights! THANK YOU to all of you!

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