My next series of posts are going to focus on the three aspects of my teaching philosophy – Entertain, Enlighten, and Inspire.
Let’s talk about Entertainment.
“Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either.”
Welcome to the year 2016! The age of entertainment on demand, at a level and scale that has never before existed. Where the devices in our pockets have 24/7 access to movies, TV shows, music, and video games. Not to mention the draw of social media, an entertainment form that exists on it’s own level.
If you’re not making an effort to entertain your students, on some level, then you are not being as effective as you could be. It’s as simple as that.
You may think that you teach a subject that is dry and impossible to make entertaining, but that’s no excuse. The way you entertain doesn’t necessarily have to be related to the subject you teach.
I used to teach a course called “Digital Literacy”. When people heard I was a teacher and would inevitably ask what I taught, I could see their eyes glaze over with boredom at the very mention of the name of my class.
Not a single student was ever excited to be taking my class, at the start of it. Learning about the history of the Internet, web 2.0 tools, and online research methodologies, doesn’t exactly scream “fun times!” By the end of the semester, however, I had students who were sad that it was over. I would get messages from students who were deep into their degree specific courses telling me that they missed my class.
One of the biggest changes I made to my lectures was implementing something called Movie Time. At the start of every class, I would show a short film, 5-10 minutes long. Some were funny, some were animated, some were video game trailers, and some were just plain bazar. YouTube is gold mine for this. The videos had nothing to do with the content of my course. After we watched the movies, we spent 10-15 minutes critiquing the piece. The students had to tell me exactly what they liked about it, or exactly what they didn’t like about it. They had to be specific. On the surface, it seemed to be an exercise in critical thinking and analysis, but really it was just a way to wake them up, grab their attention, and get them engaged in an entertaining way.
That’s just one example.
When teaching the importance of finding credible and reliable information sources online, when doing research, I related it to Marvel’s Avengers.
I explained that they played the role of Nick Fury, the leader the Avengers, and that it’s their job to find and gather the most powerful sources possible to fight against the Agents of Ignorance – Misinformation, Disinformation, and Apathy – and to not just grab any Joe Shmoe blog off the street.
I had a student come up to me after class and say, “I never in a million years thought that one day I would actually have fun learning about internet research.”
With a little creativity, you can make any subject entertaining, or find a way to entertain around your subject.
In the class I teach now, I regularly incorporate videos and funny visuals in my lectures to keep my students engaged and giggling. I tell funny stories and bad jokes. I ask attendance questions like, “What’s your favorite childhood toy?” or “Who is your favorite cartoon character?” I try to find entertaining ways to get the students to give me their attention.
Once they willingly give me their attention, then the learning can begin.