Last week I wandered into the faculty mail room to discover this exciting use of cardboard and ink:
While I’ve received these types of mailings before, I’ve never found any value in them until last week. Well, in all fairness, I did receive the value of gaining the moral satisfaction that can only come from recycling, rather than burning or thrashing, the mailer. Although I was all ready to continue my streak of responsibly discarding Medieval Times’ solicitations, for some reason I thought I’d peruse the interior of this publication before jettisoning it.
Perhaps the reason I see this type of publication as so absurd has to do with a variety of factors:
1) the closest Medieval Times is in Dallas, which seems like a real schlep, and not worthy of a field trip when there are so many other, better local attractions that would be substantively valuable;
2) the educational matinee costs $28.50/person, which makes me think someone mis-titled this program. Perhaps it should instead be called the “Extortionist Matinee;”
3) my knowledge of Medieval Times comes entirely from Jim Carrey‘s The Cable Guy. No further explanation necessary:
4) while the “Educational Matinee” might be a matinee, it most certainly is not educational, or at least not educational in the way I define the term. Judging from the artwork alone, this restaurant seems to proffer a romanticized, substance-less vision of Western Europe in the Middle Ages that reinforces simplistic understandings the past. It’d be like going to Benihana hoping to learn about the customs and techniques of Japanese Samurai.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover something of actual value when I opened the mailer and saw this inside:
Once I perused the scrumptious, decadent offerings (and managed to stop drooling like one of Pavlov’s dogs), I realized that I’d have to jettison that day’s lesson and shift my focus to this document and helping my students learn how to dissect and analyze it. In part my excitement stemmed from the fact that I felt I’d stumbled into the historical equivalent of what math über-edu-blogger Dan Meyer calls “WYCDWT” (“What can you do with this”). Normally, I find it hard to identify these types of real-world history examples that I can bring into my classroom, but for some reason this just struck me as an ideal example “WYCYDT History.”
So, I’ll end this post (and create the groundwork for its follow-up) by posing a question about this image, much as I did for my students: How would you use this image pedagogically? What key historical thinking skills would you emphasize with this flier? What other comparable examples are out there that are pedagogically valuable for students?
I’ll look forward to hear your thoughts in the comments. Additionally, I’ll try to hold up my end of the bargain and post (in the not-too-distant future) a discussion of what I did with this image and how I linked it to specific historical thinking skills. Until then, I’ll leave you with this:
Let’s go Green Knight!