PSCS was lucky to have YouTube phenomenon Matt Harding do a guest lecture at the school earlier this year. He planned on giving a 90-minute presentation on the History of American Comic books. It ended up running well over two hours, with the conversation veering far beyond just comics.
The group consisted of six students, two volunteers, and me. And we talked about everything! We hit on Jungian archetypes, Norse mythology, the political economy of gender stereotypes in America, censorship and the First Amendment, and Cold War politics. Students learned what the words “trope” and “anti-hero” mean. Oh yeah, and they also learned the history of comic books in America.
It was an extraordinarily rich educational moment. It didn’t happen because we promised kids that, if they showed up, they’d get an “A.” And it didn’t happen because we crafted a lesson plan on Jung, censorship, and the Cold War. If we’d done those things, it would have almost guaranteed that nothing profound could take place.
Instead, we did something very simple. We invited a talented person of good character to share something he loves. We invited interested students to attend the lecture. Then, we put them in the same room. And just like that . . . magic!
In our efforts to standardize education, to homogenize classrooms, to enforce “rigor,” and demand that teachers be “accountable,” we’ve ignored two irrefutable facts: learning is a non-linear process; and the process of teaching and learning, in its purest form, offers human beings a thrilling feeling.
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