Re that super slick commercial I posted the other day:
Todd: Do they need to see a video to understand it even better than they already do?
The answer is no. Definitely not. This isn’t a better way to teach personification, just different.
Todd then takes his line of inquiry to the next available stop.
Todd: what’s the pay off for having shown it?
“Different” is, in a serious way, its own payoff.
Personification may be an easy concept to teach through any number of traditional routes. But asking the question “do they need to see a video?” oftentimes means ignoring the question “do they want to see a video?” And I realize that both of our students want to cancel class and throw dice, but this isn’t that argument.
It’s just really really important for our students to see us in different dimensions than just “English teacher” and “math teacher.” It’s important for us to surprise them constantly. It’s important to me that my students don’t know what cool thing I might show off next period. It’s important to me that they see me enthusiastic about t.v. and commercials and whatever else besides math. It makes me accessible and, at the same time, very mysterious.
Even though that video is merely “different,” not better, the fact that you’re showing a t.v. commercial in class (!) in order to teach English will make your kids cock their heads and think for a second that maybe they don’t have you pinned down. The ambiguity in which I cloak myself by showing any relevant commercial or short film I come across (and a lot of irrelevant ones during the class break), again, in a very serious way, brings in kids who would otherwise take a second lunch period. That mystique, in a way that is completely pedagogically unjustified, makes me a better teacher.