The Superman Effect in Education

Hi Everyone,

I read an article last week about something called the Superman Effect.  The term was used by a man named Aral Balkan to discuss the influence that designers have and how they are able to craft experiences.  What I liked most about this post was how its author related it to education in saying that “As teachers we have to recognise that every interaction we have with young people is an opportunity to have a positive impact upon them. Teachers are artists and lessons are our art. Being passionate about our subjects mixed with a continued desire to improve and develop our pedagogy is key to providing the ‘Superman effect’ for our students.” The author then discusses the significance of making students feel like super heros and how educators should take such into consideration.  The entire blog post can be found here.

This article spoke to me on many different levels.  First, I absolutely believe in making students, all students, feel valued, respected, and intelligent.  This is shown by how they light up when they truly understand something and when they are commended/praised.  I enjoyed seeing that when I taught ESL.  However, I was in a situation where as a student, I felt worthless.  Math was never an easy subject for me, and of course it didn’t come any easier in college.  Unfortunately for me, the professor that I had made it worse.  One of his favorite lines was “C’mon guys, this is fifth grade stuff” or “You should know this material already.”  It was awful.  And so, of course, my colleagues and I were afraid of asking questions because the material was “fifth grade stuff” and even when a question was asked, we were sometimes told that we “should know this already.”  It was so bad that when he asked,“Does anyone have any questions?” more than once, I would raise my hand and say, “Yes, can we please stop for today?”  And although my colleagues all nodded in agreement, this was, of course, to no avail.  As a result of all this, I got a D in that class, hated math more than ever, thought I was dumb for not knowing more math than I did, detested this professor, and spent most of that class fantasizing about chopping off his ponytail.

Students are not the only ones that should be treated like super heros.  Yes, I’m talking about teachers as well.  Teachers are the super heros that are hardly recognized or appreciated for being such.  It’s like they live their entire careers as Clark Kents.  Some teachers are literally the super heros to many of their students. I get so frustrated because many do not realize or appreciate how different society would be if teachers and educators were not available to inspire and educate.  And so, I will say it again:  Where would we be if teachers and educators were not available to inspire and educate?

Education is about super heros teaching super heros.  And this needs to recognized more than ever.

 Peace and Love,

Posted on August 14, 2013, in About Me, Education and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Thank you so much for this article. I have really grown to appreciate teachers a lot more as a Substitute teacher. Getting into the classrooms and seeing what teachers face each day has been a real eye opener to me. Teachers have a huge responsibility to try and reach each child in their classroom. It is refreshing to read from a teacher, the passion that you put into your job and responsibilities. So just to encourage you. Keep looking up, keep moving forward, and know that YOU make a difference in peoples lives!

    • Thank you so much for this wonderful comment, and I thank you for what you do as well.

      For the short amount of time that it was, I really enjoyed teaching. It is now my goal and dream to teach and inspire through my writings.


  2. Yes! This is so true! true right across the public sector I think where wonderful people are doing wonderful work for the superhero in us all and receiving so little validation or appreciation x thank you for your wise words 🙂 xx

  3. I was a teacher for over thirty years and saw many of my colleagues put the students down and say truly foolish things. I, myself, have made quite a few mistakes and when reflected on the situation realized the mistake and offered an apology. The students usually told me I was fair and that meant a lot to me. I have written a few blogs on it and hope you get a chance to read them.

  4. I really love this article. well written ! thank you for stopping by to read my post too. That was exactly how I felt as a student facing a lecturer in college I so despised. I someday would want to teach if i possibly can in the future. Teachers are definitely valuable assets tho most people are blinded by other profession due to salary wise. very inspiring for you to write them as super heros

    • Thank you so much for your sweet comment!

      Your post definitely stood out to me because I related to it so much!

      It’s so unfortunate that some educators don’t realize the negative impact they can have. It’s even more unfortunate that society tends to judge educators as a whole based on these types of teachers.

  5. Great post and thanks for visiting my blog as well. I work for Chicago Public Schools and am well aware of the many struggling students in our schools who don’t have much to feel good about outside of class. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if teachers could help them feel super during class and afterschool programs?

    I would get behind the Superkid Initiative. Let’s spread it across the country!

    • Yes, it would be extremely wonderful if both students and teachers were treated like super heroes. Imagine the difference we’d see!

      Thank you for your comment!


  6. It would be a wonderful thing, indeed, if people could acknowledge how influential a teacher is in the life of a student. It always gratifies me when one person out of many does acknowledge it.

  7. I just found my way here, and *yay!* a positive blog about teaching! 🙂

    I always shied away from the whole “superman” analogy for teachers, because I think we shoot ourselves in the foot, when we don’t make it clear that we are only human (thus, the public’s unreasonable expectations of us).

    But, yes, it has completely floored me, to think of the potential to cause change, on a global basis, that we possess.

    • Thank you, Bethany, for this awesome response! You actually reminded me of something I talked about in my “Detachment of Education” post about how teachers are given such high and unreasonable expectations like you said. What a dilemma! Perhaps this shall be another post. Thank you!

  8. Yes, yes, and YES!! Children need closer relationships than we give them these days. They are oversaturated with with what I call “digital attention” and not given nearly enough physical attention. The story of your math teacher resonates with me, too, although my story replaces your professor with a high school algebra teacher. He used to say the same phrases yours did, and the fact that he stabbed a crooked finger at you whenever you were being singled out and spat when he talked just made things worse. Eventually, I checked completely out, agreed with him that I couldn’t do it, and got a 7 (a SEVEN!!) for the final average and was completely fine with it.

    Fast forward: I’m 36 and in college again to be a nurse (I *barely* passed the basic math entrance exam). One of my prereqs is “An Introduction To Math Concepts.” I thought, “oh, how nice…an introduction! This will be slow and easy!” The first day, we worked on quadratic equations, and I knew I needed to get busy. I hit up elementary school websites while I took that course, learning simple skills I had never learned (like working with negative numbers and fractions) at the same time I was taking the college course. I ended up passing with a 76.

    Don’t let ANYONE in a position of supposed supremacy say that you can’t do something. Great post.

    • Absolutely!! It’s so interesting that teachers have the power to yield both positive and negative impacts on us. So many fail to realize that. Yet, students must recognize their own power, strength, and mind. Teachers should guide, not dictate whether we can or cannot do something, as you said.

      I’m glad you passed your math course by taking the initiave to teach yourself. I have actually found on a number of occassions that teaching myself something on my own is more effective than being in a classroom setting that is led by test results.

      Thank you so much for commenting! Peace and blessings!

  9. Good post. We all need “heroes” and inspiration. I’ve written about ordinary people as heroes too. Really we all can be and are super heroes.

  10. Thanks for checking out my blog post – lets all continue to be remarkable!

  1. Pingback: The Superman Dilemma in Education | Hope, Honor, and Happiness

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