The Superman Effect in Education
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.