It’s all here in Rolling Stone Magazine, so you must be true!
In a wild pedagogy frame of mind, one learns from students. Student encounters can be gold and those ones that grace those first years of teaching can last a lifetime. In my case, I can now look back on one particular encounter from the early 1980’s and truly say it has lasted a lifetime as a reminder that you have to strive towards working from where the student is. That doesn’t mean you pander to them and their interests, ways. But you better be aware of them in terms of creating content and process.
So, a student comes to my office near the end of the term exited to show me something. The dialogue went something like this (and I’m not merely making this up – I honestly remember how it went.)
“Bob, have you seen the latest Rolling Stone Magazine?”
“No” I reply.
“Well” he says “all that deep ecology stuff we’ve been talking about in class, it’s all here.”
I look over at the magazine and see an image of Kirkpatrick Sale (or was it George Session?) prominent at the time in ecological thought in North America.
“Hey, that’s great!” I say, not really surprised to see this. But he was…..and he says, and this is verbatim, “well then it must be true. It’s here in the Stone.”
Okay so I am shocked but don’t show it and we move on to another topic. I have rolled this 40 plus year old encounter over and over in my mind. He was saying, that what we do in school is merely a requirement, a rite of mostly an irrelevant passage of time until he can get that coveted job. Yet, here was classroom content in Rolling Stone. Relevance was found. He had to tell me. I think he was telling me I was doing a good job. There’s the proof!
My take home message is clear: seek out and use popular culture material and references, draw on fiction, song writing, newspaper clips. In short be IN his world, even a little bit and take care to note when a student says: “It’s all here…….It must be true!” or the like. Wow, how irrelevant school can be for some.