Today, the Tech Learning Collective is happy to announce our intent to join the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s network of community organizations who support digital rights, the Electronic Frontier Alliance (EFA). As radical queers and femmes, we viscerally understand the importance of having access to secure and private communication tools every time we use our computers. That’s why, as a technology school whose mission is to empower marginalized groups by enabling them to access all the digital age has to offer, our security-first approach to education places a premium on security and privacy from day one.
The Electronic Frontier Alliance has five core principles:
- Free Expression: People should be able to speak their minds to whoever will listen.
- Security: Technology should be trustworthy and answer to its users.
- Privacy: Technology should allow private and anonymous speech, and allow users to set their own parameters about what to share with whom.
- Creativity: Technology should promote progress by allowing people to build on the ideas, creations, and inventions of others.
- Access to Knowledge: Curiosity should be rewarded, not stifled.
Right from our start, the Tech Learning Collective has worked to ensure that we uplift and advance these principles in everything that we do. Where code bootcamps and certification courses are primarily focused on job placement and reward task-completion, TLC courses focus on foundational skill building and reward curiosity by engaging students through Socratic discussion and kinetic, experience-based training. Rather than having a strict syllabus handed down from on high, our teachers provide different materials to a given class when they would add to the learning experience, fostering a more creative environment in our classrooms.
For us, this creativity isn’t merely a happy byproduct of our pedagogy, but a focal point of it. In order to succeed, the next generation of revolutionaries will need more than just strong technical skills and secure digital tools. They’ll also need an unwavering commitment to compassionate ethical foundations and the creativity to hack a society that often treats property better than people.
As radicals, we recognize that the structure of today’s society maintains systems of power that benefit a minority who already have a lot at the expense of the majority of people who are forced to get by with far less than is just. As revolutionaries, we aim to break this structure apart and reshape it so that everyone can enjoy a more just, more optimistic life.
When we act on this truth, we face real threats. Whether those threats are instigated simply by speaking our mind, expressing our gender identity or sexuality, or standing up to schoolyard bullies, abusive corporations, or corrupt politicians, we know we’ll need all the help we can get to make the massive change we need to see in the world. So as teachers and mentors, we feel an even stronger obligation to equip our students with all the tools they’ll need to face those threats with grace and poise.
One of the best places we can be to achieve these goals is part of the EFF’s Electronic Frontier Alliance, especially since some of our existing partners are already EFA members! By joining this expansive coalition of like-minded community organizations working to defend our digital rights, we will be better able to continue fostering new opportunities to educating people about the undeniable impact on and importance in our lives that today’s digital technologies have.