Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Great Moments in Pedagogy

I was teaching an introduction to poetry unit today in a freshman English class, and, for no apparent reason, a student suddenly asked a question about Green Lantern's Oath--was it poetry or not?

So, to make sure everyone was on the same page, I started to recite the oath.

And, once I started, something miraculous happened. I noticed a couple of students mouthing the first line with me. Then, on the second line, a student joined in aloud. By the third line, four students were reciting the oath in unison.

More than any other moment in my 17-year teaching career, this has given me the strongest sense of hope for the future.

The class has 11 students total, so that means about 36% of them knew the Green Lantern Oath. I wonder how this statistic holds up elsewhere.

It's not just the number that surprises me. I haven't talked about comics at all in the class, though I do make frequent pop culture references, so there was no real context in which to just start talking about Green Lantern. Yet, they assumed the reference was well-known enough.

Of course, one might also ask, "What the hell are you teaching these kids?"

13 comments:

The Groovy Agent said...

As a fellow teacher (and comics fanatic), this post gave me chills! What a wonderful story!

Philippe C said...

They may have thought you were reciting the Postman's oath, you know:

NEITHER SNOW, NOR RAIN, NOR HEAT, NOR GLOOM OF NIGHT STAYS THESE COURIERS FROM THE SWIFT COMPLETION OF THEIR APPOINTED ROUNDS.

gorjus said...

This absolutely made my day!

Sleestak said...

Wasn't the original Alan Scott oath (or was it the Silver Age) oath written by or taken from some poet? I thought I recalled reading about the behind the scenes origin of the oath once.

snell said...

We never got your answer, Dr K...did you say it was poetry?

Sleestak--legend has it that later-relatively-famous sci-fi author Alfred Bester (The Stars My Destination)wrote the oath. Don't know how true that is...

Anonymous said...

Well of course it's poetry!

It rhymes don't it?

- Kid Kyoto

Twobyfour said...

how amazing is that! This story brought a tear to my eye.

The Fortress Keeper said...

Now you need to ask them if they prefer Hal, John, Guy or Kyle.

Anonymous said...

But we already know they'll pick Dkrtzy Rrr.

It's a gimmee question.

Dr. K said...

snell--I left it up to the class to answer that question. They agreed that it was a poem because it rhymes, it has line breaks, and it uses a juxtaposition of light and dark imagery that unifies it.

Fortress Keeper--if anyone answered that question with "Jack T. Chance," he or she would have received an automatic A for the course.

Professor Matthew said...

I've had individual students who have mentioned films, comic books, or video games that gave me hope for their generation but never such a large percentage of a class come together like that.

Now I know what the sign will be that truly my work is not in vain.

dino martin peters said...

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Mr. Canacorn said...

How cool is that? I don't get over to your neck of the woods often enough, Dr. K, but when I do I'm never disappointed.

This reminds me of when I was in elementary school and my mother asked my English teacher if my incessant comic book reading could hurt my studies. My teacher explained to my mother that reading was reading and comic books wouldn't hinder my appreciation for learning.

In fact, comic books made me use a dictionary more often as well as fuel my creativity and curiosity!

Hooray for comics...and teachers who love them!