Posts From Julie

Dr Who, Klingons, Star Wars, and a day in the life of teaching

When I talk to groups about education and how it should be an enjoyable experience, I hear groans and complaints about assignments and exams. However, education is not always formal; we can learn from movies, newspapers, books, attending workshops, and even informal gatherings where people share their knowledge of a topic.

I have been involved in education for over twenty years. I have worked with schools, and in the vocational and higher education sectors, and I have seen many people so stressed from the thought of completing an assessment or exam that it detracts from the learning experience. 

Let’s look at learning and what we are trying to achieve. I am addicted to learning; I enjoy reading anything and everything, and this has often led me down a path to discover more about a topic. Working with teenagers, which was not something I initially planned to do, was fascinating. I learned that many students were avid fans of Marvel, Dr Who, and other television shows and movies, and the detail they knew about these movies was terrific. In one session, we were discussing different cultures and their commonalities and differences. It was an interesting conversation, and we progressed through to the next stage in which the students were required to select one cultural group and present it to the class at the end of the week. The next part of the lesson unfolded like this:
One teenager asked the question, “Can we choose any culture?” 
My response was that it was fine to choose any culture. Unfortunately, I forgot to say it had to be on this planet, and even within this universe. 
“So, Gallifreyan is ok then?” came the next question.
“I thought Klingon would be good” was the next group’s comment.
“Excellent,” I responded.
“How much detail should we go into then? For example, should we mention the impact on culture, because the Kaminoans became accepted as the Grand Army of the Republic?” 
At this point, the groups of teenagers looked across with very confident smiles and a devious glint in their eyes. The unspoken sentence, brewing on the tips of their tongues, was “we’ve got her now – game, set and match”.
Not so…
I asked them all to “listen to me”, as I copied Kath Day-Knight’s expression from the Australian comedy, Kath and Kim. They waited for a response, as I walked over to the whiteboard and started writing up each group’s chosen topic.
“Ok”, I said, “so Group 1, Gallifreyan, yes that could be good, but that’s the language of the Time Lords, if you are going to discuss this then perhaps you need to explain Ancient Gallifreyan and how it relates to modern, or circular Gallifreyan, as I believe there’s a difference. Mention its importance to computer language; I think it has something to do with the Tardis. Naturally, you would explain the hierarchy of the people of the planet Gallifrey. 
Group 2, Klingon. Another very interesting topic, this time from Star Trek. In your presentation, discuss the traditions of the people and their thoughts on battle. Don’t forget to explain some of the issues they have experienced when meeting other cultures. For example, empaths can be a bit confronting for Klingons. I’ll be interested to see how this evolves.
Group 3, I guess we’ve ventured to a ‘Galaxy, far, far, away’. I think the Kaminoans had a significant impact on the entire galaxy, especially as they had the technology for cloning. The Grand Army you mention is also known as the Clone Army. When you do investigate this, you should mention the importance of Jedis and the apprenticeship system they had. Best include a map for this one as you will need to show the various locations of the critical battles and a timeline. We should have everything in perspective.”

Yes, they did present their topics from Dr Who, Star Wars and Star Trek. The content for the program was a cluster of units including ‘Create a simple document’, ‘Create an electronic presentation’, ‘Work effectively with others’, ‘Share and present information’, ‘Make a presentation’, and ‘Work in a team’. The groups worked well and formed solid teams. The documents they submitted included fully referenced work, labelled diagrams, and auto tables using various features of Word. Smart Art tools were used to present hierarchy. The colour schemes matched the colour of the relevant planet, army, or even Tardis. The electronic presentations were of professional quality, with soundtracks embedded, images, and YouTube footage. We extended their knowledge further as we explored copyright legislation, and determined what can and cannot be included in a public presentation. They delegated tasks, planned out the week, used diaries, emails, texts, and they shared and contributed. The final presentations comprised handouts, reports, an electronic presentation, and they wore relevant costumes for added effect. The results were, to be honest, more than I expected. The attendance was 100% with students staying back to complete parts of their projects. 

They learned so much, and I learned more about the topics. We learned to have fun while we were learning. They did complete the actual Earth-based cultural task. They were surprised at how quickly they could do this, but they had learned valuable skills that week. They visited the library, looked at online resources, and knew how to take notes, plan and use Word effectively. These are skills they can take with them and use and develop. Now imagine what would have happened if I’d have replied with “Don’t be ridiculous, be quiet.” 

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If you would like a workshop for your organisation, please contact me to discuss your requirements. I offer workshops for teachers, homeschoolers, government and private organisations. Topics include:

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