I decided to generate an article based on one of my personal favorite TV shows from long ago. I focused on the song from the show, “Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me.” This song was frequently featured on the popular hit show Hee Haw which ran from 1969-1971. It featured several country music icons, comedians, and guest star appearances each week and was watched and enjoyed by millions of viewers during those years. Its mixture of music and comedy skits was a staple of syndicated television for more than 20 years after its tapings were stopped.
You may wonder how I am going to weave this into an article dealing with education and the successes or failures that our students experience. Let’s look at it this way.
How many times have we, as educators, had this same feeling of gloom, despair and agony on me? Usually this experience comes in a faculty or committee meeting. We are hearing things we don’t understand. The presenter is spouting off words we have never heard and follows with an explanation which is just as confusing and foreign. Wondering further, how many of our students have had this same feeling about the subject matter we are presenting? “I will never be able to remember all this stuff! I feel so overwhelmed! Where is that in the book? Nothing is sinking in!!!! What can I ever do? I’ve got to pass this class!! I am doomed!” (Gloom and Despair)
(Do you see what is missing in this equation? Fun/humor, achievable challenges, having something of value … These are the basic premises of our blog and represent things which are essential to successful teaching strategies!)
Hmm … how can I help my students or show them an easier way to grasp these ideas?
We are approaching mid-term. For most, that isn’t a huge issue. But there are some students who have suddenly realized that they are the edge of that cliff—one more chapter test will either push them into the abyss or, by some miracle, allow them to continue clinging precariously to that tree root.
Today’s lecture in my psychology class concerned “Memory.” There was a tremendous amount of information to cover and a totally new set of vocabulary words for the students to learn. As I was presenting the laundry list of terms and statistics revolving around the topic, I noticed the students were drifting further away. (Agony: You know, that same look on colleague’s faces during a meeting when it sounds as though the presenter is speaking Greek!)
I have always been a believer in the power of a story or anecdote to help reinforce material. When I told one or two instances (aka. stories) of just how and when I was able to learn particularly difficult concepts, I started getting responses from some of the aforementioned students. Before I knew what was happening, several students were recounting instances in which they applied some of these same procedures. The examples were wonderful! Ones that I would have never ever thought of! Successes stories were popping up all over the room!
Ta – Da !!!
The storyteller! It sounds so juvenile and elementary. However, sometimes the rewards are great, even in college!
To quote an overused cliché – “Try it, you’ll like it!”