Skip to main content

Creepy Poster

This morning's lecture might have been the best classroom session yet. Our presenter, Dr. Christopher Hamner, was guiding us through a presentation about motivations for soldiers. I liked his approach, and the kids did too. He didn't have a script necessarily, but had a lecture that sounded more like a conversation. His Powerpoint slideshow was almost entirely images, with the occasional slide offering questions for us to ponder or big points he was trying to summarize. He invited questions and comments.

When he got to the poster seen above, one of the students said that he found the poster creepy. The classroom erupted. And I can't help but agree with him. There's several suggestive elements to the figures in this poster, and as I shared with one instructor here, I'd blush if I tried to articulate what made it creepy. Therefore, the student's choice of the word "creepy" is good enough for me.

What that student's response did, though, was cue our lecturer to take the symbolism another level deeper. I could see Dr. Hamner immediately shift gears, and he engaged in talk with the class about the role sexuality and masculinity played in motivating men to enlist.

We've now been through six lecture sessions. Some lectures were more traditional, some more loose. Some were on pretty technical topics. Some abstract. But with each, the students were locked in. It's a powerful example of what motivation, culture-building, curiosity, and preparation can make possible in the classroom.


Popular posts from this blog

I've Arrived

Today marked the first day of the Institute. Though our dormitory lodgings at the University of Maryland are nice, and though the opening dinner tonight was a fine affair, I didn't exactly have a lot of chances to photograph my adventure.

Upon arriving, though, the lead teacher, Frank welcomed us with our windbreakers, a token of our membership in a rather small circle of educators, scholars, and enthusiasts. By the way, when I was told that we would have windbreakers, I was expecting something cheap and thin. I wasn't expecting something substantial and lined!

The train ride down offered a good occasion to catch up with Lauren, who really is a remarkable student. We were among the first teams to arrive, which meant we had reasonable time to grab lunch before tonight's dinner.

Dinner was at the City View Room at George Washington University, a location that does offer a pleasant view of the Mall and points South. Good food. My fifth consecutive day with lamb (tonight it wa…

Classroom Time

A big part of the Institute is some classroom learning that we do while at University of Maryland. We spent the bulk of the morning in a conference room on our dorm's ground floor hearing from two speakers.

The second of them, a professor from Mary Washington College, gave a presentation about the home front. Her presentation leaned heavily on sharing visuals from the war era, especially propaganda posters urging for women's participation in the war effort. There were a few posters, in particular that caught my eye.

The second presentation certainly gave me ideas for artifacts I could use when next teaching World War II. However, the first presentation made me giddy. Our speaker was the historian secretariat for the U.S. Navy, and he offered an analysis of the Allied planning that made D-Day possible. It was the first dedicated history lecture for which I was in a student role since, oh, I don't know, 2003. There were a few really big takeaways from the lecture. The firs…

Lessons as a Teacher

It’s impossible to leave this trip without a few takeaways for my work in the classroom. In fact, there are five big lessons that I hope to employ. Here they are.

Kids are ready for lectures. Our students were an attentive, learning audience for seven formal lectures. They saw a range of styles, from disorganized to organized, from conversational to professorial, and from very engaging to nuts-and-bolts. Some topics were quite abstract. And I’m convinced that the lecture on architecture in cemeteries marks the spot at which the group attainted a sophisticated level of thought that characterized the rest of the trip. As one of my peers her, Judy from Southern California put it, the lecture gave them permission to be scholarly without threat of judgment.

Kids are ready for readings. We read a lot in preparation for this trip. If students or teachers fell off pace, a staff member at NHD would remind us to get back on. It paid off handsomely. Students had context for what we saw and had a…