English teaching & learning! Tips, reflections & discussions!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Ducks Go Gangnam Style (or 'what's meaningful learning?')

When I got back from Oregon after taking part on the ELCP course (read more here), one of my first actions was to talk to my students about the experience of living in the US and studying in an American University.

And, of course, I couldn't talk about the University of Oregon without mentioning "the Duck", the symbol and mascot of UO football team. The kids loved that and all the stories that followed.

That was six months ago. But, to my surprise, last Friday, the 'duck' subject arose again. One of my students come to me saying 'hey teacher, do you remember the Oregon duck you talked about? I saw it dancing 'Gangnam Style!'.
Psy and the Duck: who has more style?
At first it sounded like an hallucination and I thought to myself 'what's this boy talking about?', but he explained before I could ask: he had seen a viral video on the Internet featuring the Oregon Duck performing the song 'Gangnam Style', an international mega-hit by the Korean pop singer PSY.

So, what's all of this has to do with teaching or learning? Well, in my view what we call 'learning' is the capability of making connections between different aspects of our experience as 'living thinking beings'. Some connections are really obvious, and based on that, we teachers create our expectations over our students as a minimum curriculum. But some connections go beyond our expectations, which leads to the creative thinking. Of course, this happens on a very personal level, but the quality of the 'input' we offer to our students is crucial for that. The more diverse this input is, the more creative can these connections be.
And then we have marvelous (maybe miraculous...) coincidences like this: a singer in Korea has this song that happens to be a worldwide phenomenon; it echoes on an Oregonian mind who comes up with this parody, that's heard and seen in a small city in the countryside of Brazil by a young boy, who had previously learned about the Oregon Ducks from his teacher and talks back to him, who's now writing about this and coming up with some ideas for a lesson plan, which means that the echo will go further and, therefore, more connections will be made.

By teaching, we learn. By learning, we teach. Both ways we make connections; both ways we get connected...

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1 comment:

  1. GREAT POST,Jean!
    "Teaching can be a very rewarding career."(Longman)