Constantly plugged into their phones, it’s easy to assume that our students are mashed-potatoing their brains with endless streams of Snapchat and gangsta rap. While it’s true there’s a large scoop of junk in their digital diets, I’ve been delighted over the past week or so with some high-quality links and sites students have shared with me.
A sample of what the cool kids are viewing online:
1. Last week, I introduced students to the elements of rhetoric and part of our time was spent discussing common logical fallacies. After laughing about examples from politics and advertising, one of my freshman girls shared this clip at brunch. Huddled around her phone, four other kids joined us and we all bit our lips, trying not to cry, as we watched the ad together. “I know it’s really just Sentimental Appeal, but it still gets me every time,” the student said about this ad, designed to encourage parents to contribute more to their children’s MetLife’s EduCare college savings plans:
2. The lessons from last month’s poetry work are still lingering, and several students sent me favorite songs, poems, and spoken word pieces. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s explosive Broadway musical Hamilton is every history lover’s new obsession and the songs are burning up my students’ earbuds. The show, a hip-hop/rap treatment of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s life and death, is sold out for the next six months, but you can listen to the songs for free here or listen and dig into a line-by-line annotation here.
3. Another compelling work was created by Darius Simpson and Scout Bostley at the 2015 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. Spoken word poetry and social justice? Ah, so that’s why my kids are so focused on their screens.
4. Finally, I’ll end with a moment that surprised me. One of my freshman boys is seriously into yo-yos. Like, really? Yo-yos? Yes, he always has one in his pocket and practices at brunch every day with a six-pack of skinny little dudes outside my classroom door. Not a girl in sight, of course. So when this student sent me an email this weekend with a link to a TED Talk he’d found featuring Japanese yo-yo world champion BLACK (yes, all caps, that’s his stage name), I was dubious. Great, I thought, here comes ten minutes of yo-yo tricks. Yawn. But this TED Talk is so much more. BLACK hooked me with his story of leaving his job as a systems engineer to pursue his passion – he’s now a performance artist with Cirque du Soleil. This is the embodiment of our upcoming 20Time project. I want kids to find a passion (whether it’s yo-yoing, computer programming, dirt bike racing, writing, whatever) and find a way to fold it into their working lives. (Tip: Turn on the video’s closed captioning, which will make the opening section easier to understand.)
Anyone else out there have a great clip/website that’s cool, educational, or inspiring? Share the link in the comments section below so we can build a whole menu of goodies for folks to enjoy. Teach on, everyone!