Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Being a nerd in the classroom #edchat - Thanks @WilW

Please watch this video first so the rest of the post will make sense. 

"It's not about what you love. It's about how you love it."

I saw this video when it first went around a few months ago and I have been meaning to write about it for a while. There are a couple of things that this video made think about and I wanted to share it with all of you. 

First, I have been a nerd all my life, but only really outed myself a handful of years ago. I grew up playing sports. I played soccer and did all of the "regular" guy things guys were supposed to do. Secretly, I played board games and D&D with my brothers and online. I loved games like Mystery Mansion and Gunslinger. There were so many different games we used to play as brothers I cannot even begin to list them all. I remember being embarrassed to tell my friends that I played these games and I never wanted to be associated with the types of kids that did play those games. It was lonely at times when I couldn't' discuss the fact that Batman had his back broken by Bane in the comics or how awesome Batman The Animated Series really was for older kids. It wasn't until I was much older, perhaps my late 20's, that I decided that it didn't matter anymore. So what that I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer and continue to read the series in comic form. It's damn good storytelling. I cannot wait to start playing some of the boardgames that Wil shows on TableTop. (If you have no idea what this is, please check it out if you love boardgames. The people are hilarious and the games are interesting.) 

I think of this now because I have a 2 year old son and he is getting into the things I like. He loves his superheroes and is in love with the Muppets. We would spend hours watching old episodes on YouTube and he loves the most recent movie. A small part of me worried about raising a son that others might think of as a nerd or that he might be ostracized for liking things outside of the norm. I watched this video and it made me think about what really matters. I want Leo to love whatever he wants no matter what anyone says. The last bit of advice also was spot on, "I want you to be honest, honorable, kind..." These are words for everyone, not just nerds, should live their life by. 

The second thing this video made me think of was my classroom. I strive to create a classroom environment that is welcoming to all of my students. In a class of 30, I will get 30 different personalities, but I want them all to feel like they fit in. This past school year, I really found myself speaking up on behalf of my Whovian students who tried to make a literary comparison in class to the 11th Doctor. There were snickers, but, not only where those students correct in their comparison, it was the best one I heard all day. Schools can still be a harsh environment for students to express who they are without fear of criticism. It is not easy, but teachers can help make it better. I am going to be adding this video to my Transcendentalism Unit. I play songs from different artists about being and individual and show Steve Jobs' speech from Stanford for the unit. I will be happily adding this video to that unit to further demonstrate the raw awesomeness of being yourself and not letting others dictate what you like. 

Thanks Wil Wheaton, Thoreau would be proud. 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Nic,

    Thanks for this post. First, I had not seen the video, but love it. Wil Wheaton > Wesley Crusher.

    My school is full of nerds. It seems many of our students end up at our school because they don't fit in their home school for one reason or another. They gladly wear the title of nerd or geek.

    I have found them fascinated by the strange things I like. As a former construction worker I can wax eloquently about the beauty of concrete. The students think this is hilarious, but what I have come to realize is that they like my passion about something weird because it makes it safe for them to have weird passions.

    I think one important way for students to feel safe with their individualness is for us to boldly proclaim ours. It can really help build community.

  3. I have proudly proclaimed my nerdom for pretty much all my life (there was no hiding mine, so might as well embrace it), but it doesn't matter when you discover it's okay to be yourself and not care what others think. The fact you are communicating this to your students is very important--I do my best to do the same.


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