Monday, 19 October 2015

Week 6: Teaching Toward the 24th Century - Star Trek as Social Curriculum

 What an interesting read this week! I was amazed at the number of “Trekker” teachers that the author was able to interview and shadow. Also surprising is the level and depth of commitment (obsession?) of these people.

Anijar (2003) claims: “Klingon is ostensibly the fastest growing language on the planet.” (p. 128) And I wonder if this is true? I suppose it could be, given that it is relatively new, and is based in a globally popular movie. I was curious and searched the app, Duolingo , and guess what? Klingon is expected to be available to learn, for free, on November 26, 2017! The implications of this are pretty incredible. I was quite taken by Anjiar’s (2003) anecdote about the lost traveler in Japan who was able to get directions from someone who also spoke Klingon

At the same time that Klingon was finding its way into universities,
schools, camps, and your home, several language issues emerged in the
United States that were not met with the same enthusiastic embrace as
Klingon. It does seem somewhat peculiar that languages spoken by real
people, in real situations, living real lives are trivialized and disparaged,
whereas Klingon does not engender any protest. (Anijar, 2003. p.139)

A very interesting observation! Is this because “Klingon” is based in science Fiction and is therefore, non-threatening in terms of a communal take over? Perhaps people don’t take the speaking of Klingon seriously. Similarly, Pig Latin is not taken seriously.  In my younger days, when we spoke Pig Latin, it was a way to talk about and around the adults in our lives, without them having a clue as to what we were saying. Unfortunately for me, my parents were very young (only 17 years older than I) and hip and they actually knew Pig Latin better than I or any of my friends did (much to my chagrin!!). Nevertheless – DID YOU KNOW??? That by November, 2017, one can learn Klingon through the APP, Duolingo? How cool is THAT?

So, to wrap this up – I read both chapters – all about Star Trek as social curriculum and the wonderful ideas that teachers used from the movies or series in order to incorporate social justice and community etc. And I thought it was brilliant. And then today, I asked the two grade 9 classes in which I was guest teaching … “Do you guys know Star Trek?” And, surprisingly, in the one class, of 15 students,  not one person knew! One girl said: “Is that Luke Skywalker and stuff?” Ummm – no. In the other class, of 16 students, 7 students thought they knew what it was. There was that vagueness – like maybe their parents had spoken about it before – kind of like milkmen and doctor housecalls! And then I realized that this book was written in 2003 – 12 years ago – so perhaps Star Trek isn’t as enduring as one might have originally thought. It’s more about using popular culture to make connections and to globalizing students’ views by utilizing what is grabbing their attention, no matter the genre!

Karen Anijar. Teaching Toward the 24th Century: Star Trek as Social Curriculum (Pedagogy and Popular Culture). New York: Falmer Press, 2003

No comments:

Post a Comment