Academy for Success

Ep21 Positive Cinematic Spotlight: Mortal Engines

Ep21 Positive Cinematic Spotlight: Mortal Engines

Welcome, Wolf Pack, to another Positive Cinematic Spotlight! This week’s focus is a bit of a surprise for me. I randomly chose to watch the 2018 post apocalyptic Mortal Engines. But there was a particular line that immediately latched onto a concern in education. Mortal Engines is about a post apocalyptic world that exists after what is called the Sixty Minute War, which left the world devastated. Following the war, cities were rebuilt, but this time they were mobile cities travelling the land on treads. Large cities, like London, would scoop up smaller cities and absorb their technology, material, and population into their own. Some of that material would simply be shoveled into London’s engine. One of the protagonists, Tom, hears that a small city is being absorbed and rushes down to see what technology he can find to save. He’s a historian and collects ancient technology for the museum. When he arrives at the engine of London, he sees the debris of the small city being shoveled into the engine and says, “They only know how to feed the machine.” That line, kind of a throwaway line not particularly important to the plot or theme of the movie, caught my attention as it occurred to me that’s a concern that exists today. The idea of feeding “the machine” without considering the nature of how you feed it can lead to lost opportunities and treasures. In regards to education, the machine would be out students and the materials we are feeding are our lessons. However, the concern with feeding the machine is less about not sling a particularly important piece of technology, like the toaster Tom rescues from London's engine, but how fast we feed it. It’s an issue that existed before Covid hit, but it’s become far more likely and potentially problematic since we’ve had to reassess our teaching methods and adjust to a more virtual world. We need to beware of “just feeding the machine.” We can shift our focus from the academic growth of our students to keeping up with the pacing guide or the framework. We just start shoveling making sure we are getting the standards shoved down to meet pacing guide and framework expectations, but losing focus on our students’ readiness for another scoop of knowledge. If we keep shoveling and don’t check to be sure the engine, our students, are ready for more, we risk choking the system and they shut down, unable to process the new content we are teaching because it was coming too fast. Naturally, there’s concerns about our students falling behind, except… we are all behind. Teaching virtually is often slower because of streaming lag and increased distractions. We can set up our rooms and seat our students in ways to minimize distractions, but that doesn’t help when your students are streaming from home. If we are all behind, then we, as a community, can agree that when things get back to normal, hopefully sooner rather than later, we can adjust to fill in the gaps in our students’ education. Right now, we need to be sure we are not overwhelming our students and causing extra stress in these trying times. We can fill in the gaps in the future. Thank you for all that you do and thank you for being the best.

Duration: 17 min

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