Hacking: Becoming the Garcia of Education

I don’t know about you, but I love Criminal Minds. Personally, I think it’s the best show out there. For those of you lost right now, Criminal Minds is a crime show that airs on CBS Wednesday nights. The show centers around the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) which is a team within the FBI. They specialize at analyzing an unsub’s (unidentified subject) behavior through his or her crimes in order to identify the person (or people) that are committing the crimes. (Honestly, it’s absolutely amazing, and if you haven’t seen it I feel bad for you. Go watch an episode right now.)

This team has what every good crime fighting team has: a leader (Hotch), a smart person (Reid), and the muscle-y tough guy that all the girls swoon over (Derek). Me though? I prefer Penelope Garcia. Garcia is the teams’ resident hacker. She has the power (and brains) to get into nearly any system and figure out anything that she wants or needs to. She is a flamboyant and energetic individual with a never say die attitude. Even if one pathway doesn’t work, Penelope is automatically trying something new to reach her goal. Garcia has saved the team more times than I could possibly count through her hacking skills. Not only does she figure out the pertinent information incredibly fast, but she also finds ways to keep the team safe and helps close cases each week; she’s pretty much amazing if we’re being honest.


(Image: Flickr.com)

Haking. What a simple (and misunderstood) term. Many people hear the word hacker and immediately think it’s something awful and, often, illegal. I, however, choose to think of the term from the Criminal Minds’ standpoint. Garcia helps the team during life and death situations. She finds the best shortcuts through the system and uses them to benefit not only her but the entire team. Garcia catches the bad guys through her hacking skills. She saves lives.

I understand that this correlation is a bit of a stretch, but hacking is hacking regardless of the situation. A hacker is a person who is trying to challenge and change a system to make it more efficient for its users. Hackers want to make progress in an area. They want to innovate to make a system work better.

Hackers are innovators. Hackers are people who challenge and change the systems to make them work differently. To make them work better.- Logan LaPlante

This week, I watched Logan LaPlante’s TED Talk titled “Hackschooling Makes Me Happy,” and let me tell you what, I was blown away. I was amazed that someone so young could be so wise. LaPlante discussed hacking and all of it’s benefits, including those within the education system. He also claims that we should make happiness, healthiness, and creativity a major point in our school systems. According to LaPlante, “everything is up for being hacked… Even education.” But how do we do this?

If I’m going to be honest, I’m not really sure how to do this. I think that hacking the education system will look different to each individual. In my eyes, to truly hack education, we must work hard and constantly be willing to try something new. Educators must think like a hacker. They must look for ways to challenge the current education system in order to benefit the students; because that’s what it’s all about, right? We need to think about how we can tweak the system to focus on what our students need instead of what adults think they need. LaPlante discussed the fact that when adults ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, they often expect the answer to be a career path that will allow the child to make money. What happened to happiness and healthiness? This was a point that LaPlante made that I really enjoyed; adults don’t want the child to answer their question by simply stating that they want to be happy. But why not? Shouldn’t we want our students to grow up to be happy individuals? I think this is one change we must make; by encouraging our students to be creative and follow their passions, we will spark happiness within them and allow them to learn.

Learning happens when we hack things, too, because we must understand what our situation is, and how we can fiddle with it, in order to improve it. -Bud Hunt

After watching LaPlante’s TED Talk, I found myself desiring to become a hacker. Maybe not quite on the level that Garcia is at, but my own type of hacker. I want to hack my classroom. I want to make it a space of innovation and learning for all students. I want them to feel comfortable sharing their passions and truly chasing after them. I want to add creativity and spark back into the classroom. I want to (and believe in) hacking education. The way to get there? I’m not truly sure on that. Maybe it’s just slowly tweaking it until we reach the place that we need to be at. Whatever it is, it’s important that we continue to strive for it.





6 thoughts on “Hacking: Becoming the Garcia of Education

  1. Regan,
    I loved reading your post! I appreciate how you related this week’s focus of hacking to your favorite show. I, too, was amazed and inspired by Logan LaPlante. What a great kid! I share your desire to be a teacher who hacks their classroom. I also don’t know what exactly it will look like but an excited at the potential for my students. You go by your own Garcia!


    1. Thanks so much, Cara! Whenever I think of the word “hacker,” Garcia is the first image that pops into my head. It only seemed fitting that she be in the blog post, too! (Plus, I’ve watched a lot of CM since school ended.) Wasn’t he amazing?! I was so surprised by his age. I’m not sure if I will ever know exactly how it looks, but through constant tweaking and trial and error I think we can definitely get on the right track. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really enjoyed this post! I love the metaphor of hacking for what we can do in our classrooms. We’re taking a system that already exists and striving to make it better. So often teachers get into the classroom and feel helpless and disempowered. There is such a strong culture of “this is the way we’ve always done it”. Only we know that doesn’t work for all–or even most!–students, so surely we have an obligation to try to do it differently!


    1. I couldn’t agree more. I feel like some people believe that the traditional approach is the only one out there. However, as my education goes further, I can see that this is certainly not the case. I want to run a classroom where students are interested and engaged, and I know that that will certainly take some hacking. I can’t wait to get started! Thanks for reading, Dr. Ellington!


  3. Regan,
    I loved your title for this post! It immediately grabbed my attention because I used to watch Criminal Minds a lot. I still do when I have the time (which is pretty much never because I always seem to have other stuff to do; work, school, workout, read my Bible, be with my family). I agree that when most people hear the term “hacker” they think of something that is bad and illegal. But you are so right in the fact that hacking can be extremely beneficial by being used to save lives! I like the quote that you chose from Logan, I personally feel like it sums up/explains hacking in a brilliant way.


    1. Thanks so much, Skyler! It’s fantastic, isn’t it? I don’t watch it nearly as much as I used to because I don’t have regular TV in Chadron (we just use our Netflix) and because I always seem to be on the go. When I do get a spare moment though I enjoy watching an episode! Logan was so brilliant. I wish my mind would have been so inquisitive at his age. 🙂 Thanks for the read!


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