Iconic Images

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A nifty cool comic book blog everyone should check out is “Comics Should Be Good” via the Comic Book Resources website.

 

Every once in a while, the folks at CSBG post a new entry in their “Top Five Most Iconic Covers” collection, in which they list the five most iconic covers of a particular superhero (or villain).  Neat stuff!

 

CSBG’s latest hero getting Iconic Covers treatment is Captain America, probably because of the upcoming release of a little film called Captain America: The Winter Soldier (coming to a theater near YOU on April 4th, 2014!).

 

If you’re curious, here are the top five iconic Captain America comic book covers, according to Comics Should Be Good.

 

If you’re doubly curious, here are MY top five covers of the StarSpangled Avenger, in chronological order:

Captain America, Vol. 1, #260; cover by Al Milgrom; August 1981

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Captain America, Vol. 1, #332; cover by Mike Zeck and Klaus Janson; August 1987

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These first two images may be downers, but they’re still iconic.

How about more heroic images?  Okay.

Captain America, Vol. 1, #450; cover by Ron Garney; April 1996

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Captain America, Vol. 4, #1; cover by John Cassaday; June 2002

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Captain America, Vol. 5, #1; cover by Steve Epting; January 2005

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This last cover by Steve Epting encapsulates the recent multi-year run by writer Ed Brubaker, with its Jack Ryan/Jason Bourne super-spy vibe, which the new movie seems to be following. Have you seen the latest posters?

Here’s a sample, and since the poster is celebrating the IMAX release, it’s HUGE:

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We could talk all day about iconic movie posters, but not this day.

 

Let’s talk about teaching.  Namely, what is your iconic image of a teacher? 

 

I’ve done some research* into popular teacher portrayals in the Google Images search engine.  Since my background is in science (yes, I’m that much of a geek), I did a specific analysis of science teachers.

Here’s a sampling of what I found:

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That’s right.  According to Google, science teachers are white dudes with bad hair, poor eyesight, and lame taste in fashion–until hipsters start wearing lab coats, but then that would just be ironic fashion, not iconic.

 

Putting aside any ethnographic analysis of cultural imagery and stereotypical classroom depictions, here are the questions I want to ask:

 

What is your iconic teacher image?  What is your “look?”

 

Are you this kind of teacher?

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Or maybe this one?

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Or something else?

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I hope you’re not this last one.

 

Images often depend on one’s perspective, as revealed by this stunning photo collection of famous landmarks.

 

Consider how your students perceive you. What is your “iconic image” in their eyes?

 

One terrific way to gain perspective is video recording your teaching.  Recording technology is nearly ubiquitous these days, so use your favorite gadget.

 

No one needs to watch your recording except you. That alleviates any concerns about privacy, and more importantly, you can take an honest look at yourself.  If you don’t have time to record or review an entire class period, just focus on five minutes of a lesson. I guarantee you’ll learn something about your teaching and your students, giving you ideas for enhancing instruction.

 

Make it habit to record and watch yourself from time to time.  It’s one of the best ways you can get better.

 

Who knows?  Maybe your teaching will even reach “iconic status” (in a good way).

 

*Bergman, D.J. (2013). The portrayal of science teachers found in Google Images and implications  for science teacher education. Paper presentation at the International Meeting of the Association for Science Teacher Education. Charleston, SC: January 9-12.

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You are not alone

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An encouraging reminder that there are many other super-teachers fighting the good fight.

Take a look:

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JusTeach League

Love it!

This gem comes from the folks behind Podstock, a “tech integration conference” for educators in Kansas, the adoptive home state of Superman.  (Not bad!)

Learn more about Podstock here.  Go for it!

Superhero Therapy

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The title of this blog entry may have you thinking that superheroes need therapy.  And, in fact, most probably do.

Who else dresses in a mask, tights, armor, and/or a cape and dives into danger at the drop of a hammer*?

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*Or in Thor’s case, the drop of Mjolnir—which can magically zip back into his hand à la Harry Potter’s Accio summoning charm. (Handy!)

Therapy for superheroes is something in definite need of attention.  And a clinical psychologist actually has done some work on this, which you can read about here.

Check it out and then return here.

 

Back yet?  Good.

The news story that inspired THIS entry is actually about how therapists have been using superheroes (and other geeky things) to help kids and adults.  You can read the original story at The Daily Beast’s website.

 

Done?  Okay, let’s talk about teaching.

But first let’s talk about Doc Samson, who’s both a superhero AND a therapistHow cool is that?

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Crackin’ skulls . . . Freudian style.

The good doctor is a “gamma-irradiated friend, rival, and psychiatrist of Bruce Banner.”  Dr. Bruce Banner is, of course, better known as the Incredible Hulk.

Doc Samson therapy

Doc Samson first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #141 back in 1971, and does most of his adventuring alongside (or against) Marvel’s Green Goliath.

The most memorable Doc Samson stories, however, feature him sitting in his psychiatrist chair.  Such therapy sessions include two of the best issues of X-Factor.

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Take a gander here and here to glimpse into the inner lives of B-level mutants.

 

NOW let’s talk about teaching.

Where does superhero-themed therapy fit into the classroom?

Consider why kids (and adults) respond so well to superheroes for therapeutic treatment.  These icons of hope and heroism provide an outlet through which individuals can express their own doubts, decisions, and conflict in life.

And it’s not just comic book characters, either. The Daily Beast feature puts it this way:

“We’re all aware of the basic transformative properties of popular culture——namely, its ability to cheer you up, to make you laugh, and to make you cry.”

If therapists can use such elements to connect with their patients, imagine the power of linking popular culture with learning.

 

Teachers don’t have to cater to every student’s craze or hobby.  And we shouldn’t dilute or distort the content in a lame attempt to appear “cool.”

But we can pay attention to our students’ lives and watch for ways to relate our subject to their interests.  This is especially helpful with challenging and abstract topics.

(Do your students struggle with primary/secondary light colors and pigments?  Try using examples from the Green Lantern and the rest of the Emotional Spectrum heroes.)

GL emotional spectrum

Colorful and Educational!

These examples don’t have to be from superheroes, geek culture, or popular media.  Students are diverse, as are their interests–sports, music, literature, the visual arts, traditions, and more.

 

There are times when teachers feel like we must be our students’ therapists.  And there are times when we need some therapy of our own.

But at all times, we can make learning memorable and meaningful.  One way to do that is by using illustrations and stories from pop culture.  Superheroes are prime candidates for this job.

(As soon as they get out of therapy.)