As the ice cubes in my steel coffee tumbler clink with conviction, I march in the way that only a scared freshman can to my first-ever college class. The labyrinth that is South College has swallowed me whole and, though the air conditioner hits me like a brick wall when I arrive, I sweat profusely as I search for my classroom. Anyone reading this can probably navigate South College with ease, but I am disoriented from waking up a prompt 15 minutes before the beginning of my class, wondering how I ever got up for the 7 a.m. start time of my high school.
After finding my way to the classroom, asking anyone who looks even slightly put together for directions (anyone not wearing a Braintree High School t-shirt and their sister’s stolen running shorts – sorry Kaleigh), I find a seat and describe my trials and tribulations to the girl next to me.
“Oh my god, I got so lost getting here, so confusing!”
“…Are you a freshman?”
To my naive surprise, my class was a mixed bag of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. To say the least, I was intimidated. As we raced through the syllabus, I felt this was not the class for me. Everyone seemed so intelligent and well-informed; everyone seemed so not ‘freshman.’ I knew for a fact this would not be a class where I would participate.
Feeling slightly defeated, I trooped to the Integrative Learning Center for a lecture where, again, I felt like the ultimate freshman. But in this class we watched a clip from “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and were then told to post a Moodle comment. Making a comment was easy for me, not to mention it made for a much more engaging class, and I saw this in the comments of my classmates, regardless of grade.
Incorporating humor and modernization into classes makes them much more engaging to students, especially in this modern day. Professors have many platforms they can utilize to keep students engaged and active. There is immense value in studying the past, which often times can only be done by reading or analyzing art. However, there is no better way to study current events than utilizing the forms of media that young people consume.
“Saturday Night Live!” dominates sketch comedy not because of their physical comedy and musical entertainment, but for the satirization of our country and the world, invoking interest in what issue they will tackle next. The bias from studying satire alone is undeniable. However, many find that the initial engagement brought by their political spoofs are a stepping stone to further research on multiple topics. For those who may not typically feel inclined to “get into politics,” seeing an entertaining analysis often sparks genuine interest.
Political correctness seems to shake some to the very core; many people remark on how sensitive everyone is nowadays. Using humor and satire to poke fun at current events can alleviate stress toward tough topics and make them more accessible to today’s youth.
If humor doesn’t necessarily fit into a modern curriculum, even incorporating media can be a start. Analyzing modern television in tandem with important pieces of literature urges students to find similarities and differences between the past and present. This modernization encourages students to further participate in class and advocate for their ideas with less hesitancy.
Retaining information is far easier when it is based in genuine interest. Feeling insecure is common, especially among freshman. If professors and students tie in subjects that they are passionate about, it sparks further discussion and participation. These are the class settings that make for a more dynamic and memorable experience.
At a large school like the University of Massachusetts it is easy to feel isolated during class, especially when you are one of 150 students in a large lecture hall. Adding humor and media into responses and discussion can open up a window to get to know your classmates better, preventing students from being so focused on their studies that they never share their personalities with their classmates.
Meghan Carney is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]