Friday, January 20, 2006

teaching through violence

This semester, I teach two sections of Professional and Technical Writing. It is the first time I've ever taught this subject, and as I have no real formal training in the field or experience with the subject matter, it has been a source of strife for me. I feel more in danger of being called a fraud because of this class than I have with any other course I've taught, so I always have to watch out for some good approach to the material.

Of course, this means that I'm always particularly looking for something to use to illustrate the boring yet necessary book. While I was preparing for this Thursday's class, I remembered an article I read this weekend on the National Archives's display of an American invasion plan for Canada (and while I couldn't find that article online, I did find this).

As these classes are gearing up to write a set of technical instructions, we are already discussing how to proceed in planning a big task. So, in class, we did the preliminary planning of an invasion of Canada. One of my students in my 8am class surprised me by really having a great idea of what you'd need to know to pull this kind of mission off...hmmm, maybe he's thinking of this a little too much. Also, this begs the question...if a sophmore computer science major can fully grasp the complexities of invading another country, why can't everyone? Hint, hint. Anyway....

It is one of the interesting realities of modern government and warfare that we probably have invasion plans for every country, except maybe for the Order of Malta, who, no offense, we could probably take. It would be almost worth becoming president to read how the Pentagon plans to take out Litchenstein.

So there is actual precedence for such an invasion plan...just to reassure some of my Canadian friends. As I told my class, it isn't anything personal against Canada. Some of my best friends are Canadian. They generally have better beer and chocolate than us. Plus, Toronto is too cool to bombard.

But whenever you can involve some violence and bloodshed into a lesson plan, it really makes the examples more vibrant. Yes, folks, warfare can be a viable pedagogical tool.


Amy said...

What a cool idea for an assignment. I might have enjoyed a class like yours as a college student. Although the 20-year-old me might have protested this assignment, or tried to organize a candle-light vigil to end the war we were plotting.

I hear the Citadel is looking for an American Studies guy....

Jennifer said...

hey :(

you couldn't pick another benign & friendly country to invade?

I'm on to you now Mike - I'm amassing an army and we'll be ready.