And, of course, a Happy Thanksgiving to all!
PROJECT 1812: HISTORY FOR THE KINESTHETIC LEARNER
A Modest Proposal by B.A. Libby, B.A., M.A., etc.
è On a very cold day with high wind chill, all the kinesthetic learners will be driven to a mall, or other public location, about five miles from campus. They may wear only light summer clothing, such as T-shirts, shorts, cotton slacks, and sandals. Each will receive a sandwich, a pint of bottled water, and a knapsack containing about fifty pounds of hockey pucks.
è The students will be told they will get $1 for each hockey puck they bring to campus.
Rationale: Students will have the opportunity to experience the common dilemma of greed vs. reason, in that they must decide whether, and when, to lighten or discard the valuable but heavy knapsacks in order to have a better chance of reaching home.
è The students will walk back to campus.
è It is highly desirable that, as a part of our Community Relations, a number of local people take part in the Project. Their job is to follow the students, and, when any fall behind the main body by more than fifty yards, to pelt them with stones, throw them into ponds, or beat them with clubs.
Rationale: The citizens simulate the Russian peasants and Cossacks who followed the French army from a safe distance but attacked stragglers.
è A teacher will ride beside the students in a chauffeur-driven car, calling out encouragement to his “troops” and composing bombastic “official bulletins” announcing that the campaign is going very well. (To assist with the bulletins, he may be accompanied by a “chief of staff” provided by the Office of Institutional Advancement.) When his limousine is half a mile from the school, he will wave encouragingly to the freezing remains of his “army” and be driven quickly back to campus, leaving his men to finish the trek on their own.
Rationale: The teacher simulates Napoleon, who departed the army in a swift coach on December 5, two weeks before the epic retreat ended.
è Those students who reach campus will be given a cup of hot chocolate and sent to the hospital. The others will be buried.
1 Kinesthetic (or “haptic”) learners (for the benefit of nonprofessionals who might not know) are those who, we are told, cannot learn much from reading or listening, but who learn best by doing things with their hands and the movement of their bodies. Some laymen, ignorant of current pedagogical “best practice,” might think that such students would not be enrolled in preparatory schools or aspire to college diplomas, but would instead be directed into shop classes, vo-techs, the lower enlisted ranks of the armed forces, and similar places where they could use their talents to best advantage without cluttering up the halls of academe; but that is not the case today.
2 I do not really know what these last words mean, but I have noticed that the most esteemed educational experts and holders of Doctorates of Education use them quite a bit. I thought I should use them too, so I will be taken seriously.
3 For these, the “hands-on” experience can also be a “hands-off” experience!