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Everybody loves a hero. You see, even if he gets left behind in Mars all by himself (I am referring to the movie ‘Martian’), he is unfazed, undeterred, unaffected, and unbeatable. He, to somebody ‘old’ like me, looks so unreal and un-human.
But, everybody loves a hero. So, let me keep my scepticism aside, and see how we can convert this popularity into what I would call educational or teaching advantage.
Everybody loves a hero, because he has so much heroism inside him.
The most obvious thing to learn about is all the inspiring strength any hero seems to embody as well as exhibit. Take perseverance for example - obstacles come in all shapes and sizes, but our guy just goes on.
How will it be if we were to ask children to re-read a heroic story or re-watch a hero movie with the express objective of finding where and how many times our hero persists? Further, follow up this analysis with a mapping of the same traits in our own lives and maybe actually conclude that we too have our moments of perseverance.
We can hop from one characteristic to another, see what we love in our hero and continuously dig for the occurrence of the same in our lives. Characteristics that I would love to explore would include courage, sense of humour, initiation, responsibility, righteousness, ... and many more.
Everybody loves a hero, because he does so much for others.
What will be a hero who lives only for self? It is for his ability to touch our lives in so many different ways that we seek him out. One way to highlight social values is to ask this question, “What would our hero have done in this situation? How would he or she have responded?
We can use empty comic blurbs, improv acting, story blanks etc. as formats for children to think of responses to situations via the eyes and ways of their hero. The idea is not to impose the hero’s way as the right way, but create alternatives in our minds and hence in our lives.
For example, if one child is teasing another - we can ask, “How would our hero (say Superman) tease?” “How will he respond if he is being teased?”
Everybody loves a hero, because he exists out of our imagination.
He is our own knight in a shining armour, doing what we dream of doing, achieving what we sometimes can’t even dream. A hero springs forth from all our fantasies.
Which means we can use the concept of hero - to understand both - what are our problems, what is it that we want but don’t have, etc., and also what kind of solutions we wish for and how we can attain them. As we invite children to let their imagination loose, we understand our problems better and in the same vein give directions to our solutions.
For example – let’s take the common problem of littering or not growing enough trees - and turn it to our imaginative hero to create a world that we all yearn for, a life to live for.
Everybody loves a hero, and he can be anywhere, everywhere.
The core of learning lies in conceptual understanding. The hero of conceptual understanding of any topic lies in the key concept, the big idea. What if we were to convert the core concept into a hero, a superhero and then ask children what are the things that a hero normally does and in this way not only make it interesting and engaging for children but also bring the focus and depth to the main idea, the key understanding.
So the fulcrum could be the hero of levers, enzymes, the hero of digestion, denominator, the hero of fractions, adjectives, the hero of writing, eye-on-the-ball, the hero of playing any ball sports and so on.
Visualize your concept hero in full superhero form - how it looks, what it does, what hero roles it plays - better involve children in developing the hero - giving it a name too - like x-man - one who makes a difference in every (algebraic) equation!
Everybody loves a hero, and for many of us, it is the one adult who inspired us - to believe in ourselves, to enjoy learning, to celebrate life and to outshine ourselves.
As kids, we all loved our Real Hero.
Now it’s your turn to be the superhero!
Written by Aditi & Ratnesh for Teacher Plus Magazine (see article on their website)