When I was a teenager, I poured over Glamour, Mademoiselle and any trashy girly magazine that I could get my hands on. One of my favorite sections of the magazine was the survey where you delved into such important issues such as "How Flirty Are You?" and "What's Your True Style?" through a series of multiple choice questions. At the end of the survey, there was a scoring rubric where each answer was weighted by points and your point tally indicated which category described you: Super Flirty! A True Tease, etc.
Today, Facebook seems to be dominated with similar surveys. You can find out what type of drink or breakfast sandwich you are or what character you would be on Gilligan's Island. It's the same procedure, you take the survey and at the end, it tells you something albeit completely fictional but nevertheless about you.
This is the important point, the series of nonsensical questions promise to tell you something about yourself: everyone's favorite topic, especially teenagers. In the classroom, time you can turn the concept back to themselves, you stand a much better chance of grabbing their interest.
Facebook or Glamour type surveys is another tried and true technique I have used to introduce many different concepts to teenagers. There are three surveys that have been uploaded to this folder that use this. The first is a survey about Optimates and Populares, the second is about the difference in philosophy between the Stoicism and Epicureanism and the third is entitled simply "Are You Caesar?" The most important part of the survey is the scoring. At the end, the survey needs to tell the student something about themselves. The categories need not be particularly relevant or well reasoned. Students will diligently tabulate their answers and then immediately begin comparing results with their classmates. That is the hook by which you can launch a thousand different discussions.
To milk this technique for maximum interest, give the survey to the students first without the scoring guideline. Tell them nothing about the topic - just have them take the survey. After everyone has taken it, then hand out the scoring key and take a poll to see where everyone stands. Most often, they all will want to tell each other what they got. Now tell them about the difference between Stoicism and Epicureanism or the Populares and Optimates or whatever topic you intended to discuss.
Voila! what was simply another boring lecture removed from any relevance to a teenager's life is now a reflection of or a contrast to themselves. So glad that adults have evolved out of such narcissistic self-absorption.
Incidentally, I'm the Professor, a glass of red wine, and berry yogurt - smooth but a little bit fruity. Don't judge.
11/20/2015 11:12:40 am
How do you "grade" the stoic v. epicurean quiz? is it just the lower your score the more epicurean you are? or are there gradients?
11/20/2015 01:31:42 pm
Yes. But grading isn'the exactly the right word. I just ask the class for a show of hands starting at the lower end and working my way to the higher end. I explain that if they scored on the lower end, they are more epicurean. Kids like to see how each other scored. Then I explain the difference between the two philosophies and ask them how much the survey reflects what they believe.
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