My big question this morning: how do we teach, and learn, to think critically?
Not the surface-level fluff–but the hard questions, the wrestling with the trifecta of intellectual stagnation: cognitive dissonance, justification, and rationalization?
Do we need heroes/heroines?
What would happen…if…we…didn’t?
What if…we were good to each other, did no harm, and made our classrooms, lecture halls, and online spaces engaged and safe places to discuss questions and seek ideas and answers?
Consider and read this thread: keep track and curate the narratives you teach: by every figure, do a character study. We need to face and review the decisions of the past and reconcile and come to terms with our future.
Example: what if Ruth Hopkins didn’t follow this path? Discuss the narrative of Lincoln’s heroism and his great, grave flaws?
155 years ago today, the largest mass execution in U.S. history took place under the orders of Abraham Lincoln. On Dec 26, 1862, the day after Christmas, 38 Dakota warriors were hanged in Mankato, MN. #Dakota38pic.twitter.com/N8gSmbZwUG
This feels very big to me right now, and scary, but this is the gift I want to give my students most of all: the courage to question, and draw their own conclusions, and then have the mindfulness and mental flexibility to adjust those conclusions if necessity demands.
Now the thought of Chuck Palahniuk writing the back story for a cartoon intrigues me, and I began to think of multiple mash-ups of writers and stories. This morning I envisioned a complete Nathanial Hawthorne Scarlet Letter version of Rugrats, whereas every time Angelica attempts to bully the babies she must wear her insignia “A” embroidered on her chest, serving multiple purposes. The adults are the villagers, of course, standing firm in judgment. Well, it played out better before I had coffee. Now I’m not so sure.
But what about Stephen King and a treatment of Roadrunner? I think Kurt Vonnegut could do justice to Bugs Bunny. Or as John quoted, ‘create sad backstories to all the Animaniacs.’ Brilliant. This, of course, is the essence of fan fiction, with a hefty side of writer’s craft, style, and voice for good measure.
Allow me to meander a bit:
Ayn Rand takes over an episode of Invader Zim.
Neil Gaiman rewrites a ‘Hey, Arnold’ episode.
J.K. Rowling takes on Powerpuff Girls.
G.R.R. Martin rewrites Dexter’s Laboratory.
Dr. Seuss: Ren and Stimpy, of course.
Suzanne Collins and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.
Okay, I could go on all day. I am seeing a really fun lesson idea here: D&D dice with each number associated with an author and then a second roll for the cartoon episode.
What other ideas come to mind?
Now–parents–think for a second. When I was growing up Bugs Bunny and his ilk alluded to operas, literature, film, etc. I know there are ‘jokes for grownups’ in current children’s media, today, too, but I am a bit out of touch with the ten and under crowd these days. My sons are 18 and 21, and they share gritty, funny binge-worthy media. We are long past the Rugrats days. If you’re a parent of kids under 10-11 and let them watch tv, what do they watch?
Ah, those last few weeks in U.S. public schools before students and staff leave for summer break. When teachers all over the nation are worried about ‘summer slide’ and for their students, and perhaps themselves: thinking about what professional development may boost spirits and lighten the soul, or thinking about how much they’ve put off to those magical summer months of repair and rejuvenation. Personally, I’m finding it difficult to soldier on through the rest of the year, namely because of content: my fanaticism for history and big, bold, brash units feels like my gate valve to flow froze. Nah, wait, it’s not that bad, is it!? I mean, who wouldn’t want to talk about the bloody mess that was the Civil War and how our current political climate parallels and is analogous to the mythically dangerous Lost Cause? I just KNOW I’ve got one more Prezi or Screen-Cast-O-Matic presentation in me SOMEWHERE…I JUST KNOW IT! As Dewey as my witness, I swear I shall never fail the end of the year again!
Personally, I’m finding it difficult to soldier on through the rest of the year, namely because of content: my fanaticism for history and big, bold, brash units feels like my gate valve of flow froze.
Nah, wait, it’s not that bad, is it!? I mean, who wouldn’t want to talk about the bloody mess that was the Civil War and how our current political climate parallels and is analogous to the mythically dangerous Lost Cause? I just KNOW I’ve got one more Prezi or Screen-Cast-O-Matic presentation in me SOMEWHERE…I JUST KNOW IT! As Dewey as my witness, I swear I shall never fail the end of the year again!
Goodness. *Sneezes from allergies: resumes typing: notices left eye is twitching a bit.*
All right: time to scribe the power of three ideas.
1. Please stop.
I am not, repeat not, criticizing any teacher. This is my personal reaction to the word “accountability.’ Accountability stole all the oxygen out of my teaching lungs for a time. I would walk two miles out of my way to avoid the bully ‘accountability.’ Accountability steals milk money, and posts smack on social media. Now, however, its cousin, ‘engagement’ and wiser auntie ‘choice’ have much better success. Right now I’m not sure how I feel about summer slide, or if it even matters. Yes, would I love it if students found those secret, delicious books that seem to speak only to them and they voraciously read all summer? Heck yes. But this notion of summer reading, once it gets the taint of accountability on it, it’s destroyed. If I have any influence on the continuity between the 7th-grade students and the incoming 8th, I plan on having our local librarian and ‘She Who Has Been Hugged Personally By Neil Gaiman’ Rebecca H. She’s coming to our school again, luring children to her library lair of fantastic books, electronic prizes, and air conditioning. Power mojo indeed.
But one of my summer projects I’ve set in stone is cleaning out multiple drives and years of old lessons. There is no reason to keep 3,000 Smartboards and duplicate Power Points. Time to clean digital house.
3. May-June Ideas
Dang, am I here again? What can I do right now for these last few weeks? My younger son is graduating, and planning for our families coming into town, etc. is taking up mental space. Our house is falling apart and financially there is nothing we can do about it.
Help, is about all I can say. Does anyone have THE cracker-jack, most amazing lesson idea ever?
Maybe ‘come clean Mrs. Love’s trashy backyard pool and see how mosquitos are born’ would be a good one.