I haven’t been posting about the Twelve Days of Tech-Mas as I usually do this year. The action is still happening in the library (all day everyday!), and I had a scheduled social media plan to share our progress – but the truth is, I’ve been thinking a lot, and the name Tech-Mas doesn’t feel quite right.
At the NAIS People of Color Conference earlier this month, I learned more about inclusivity, and what it looks like to do the bare minimum versus truly working get to the core of respecting and planning for all members of a community. So I started reading and researching, attempting to learn more. My research pushed me to look more closely at my own past experiences attempting to navigate December as a Jewish child growing up in a small, almost entirely Christian suburb. The memories are embarrassing and uncomfortable and sometimes even painful, and I don’t enjoy reliving them. But they made me realize that while I would have loved the Tech-Mas activities, on some level, the name would have made it clear that the experience, just like so many other winter traditions, wasn’t really meant for me.
I believe in the power of literature and technology to change the life of a child. I also believe in the power of community, representation, and inclusivity. My own experiences have shown me the lasting impact that inadvertent exclusion can bring. As a kid, I wondered why I wasn’t allowed to join “the December club”, as I called it, and why the grown-ups in the room didn’t notice. Although I can only speak to my own personal experience, I can assume that others have felt similarly (Lori Cohen’s Holly Jolly Decolonization is a valuable resource, if you’d like a fuller picture; The December Dilemma, from My Jewish Learning, is also a great resource). Now, as an adult, I now have the power to create experiences that can either perpetuate that cycle, or break it. With or without the name Tech-Mas, this December mini-intensive will deliver fun, engaging, educational content to my students. So does the name matter?
The tradition of dedicating library time to computer science activities rooted in literature isn’t going anywhere. We will continue bringing stories to life using exploration, tech, and design (and a little bit of magic). But will the name Tech-Mas stick around? Will we rebrand? How will it evolve? I don’t know yet. But I’m thinking about it, and that feels like a good first step.