Date(s) - Friday September 23
11:30 am - 1:00 pm
Three years ago, in the midst of a teaching funk, an anthropology professor decided to use the tools of anthropology to figure out why his class was no longer connecting as deeply and how he could revitalize his teaching. Since then he has been taking his lunches with students and listening to their life stories. He has become a student again, challenging himself to learn new things to remind himself of all the struggles and joys of learning. He has even done anthropological fieldwork at frat parties, college bars, and midnight life-philosophy discussions on the rooftops of campus. From these studies, he has come to understand that students want more from their college experience than just the tools to make a living. They also want the wisdom to craft a life worth living, and they will need courage, passion and compassion to see it through. How can we craft our courses to speak to this? When we prepare to teach a class, we often spend a great deal of time deciding what we are going to teach, and sometimes how to teach it, but we spend less time contemplating the “big why” of our course, and perhaps even less time considering who our students are and who we want them to become. In this talk, we flip those questions upside down. We will come to understand our students more deeply, revisit our own best learning moments, and use these insights to craft a syllabus that is more than just curated content and speaks to the depth and dynamics of the journey our students are on.
About the Speaker
Dubbed “the prophet of an education revolution” by the Kansas City Star and “the explainer” by Wired Magazine, Wesch is a recipient of the highly coveted “US Professor of the Year” Award from the Carnegie Foundation. After two years studying the implications of writing on a remote indigenous culture in the rain forest of Papua New Guinea, he turned his attention to the effects of social media and digital technology on global society and education. His videos on culture, technology, education, and information have been viewed over 20 million times, translated in over 20 languages, and are frequently featured at international film festivals and major academic conferences worldwide. Wesch has won several major awards for his work, including a Wired Magazine Rave Award, the John Culkin Award for Outstanding Praxis in Media Ecology, and he was named an Emerging Explorer by National Geographic. After years of experimenting with social media and assessing the learning potential of these tools, Wesch argues that they don’t automatically foster significant learning or establish genuine empathy or meaningful bonds between professors and students. Using social media is but one of the many possible ways to connect, but the message that Wesch’s experimentation brings is that only genuine connections may restore the sense of joy and curiosity that we hope to instill in our students.