Archive for July, 2013

Shiny – How Mal Reynolds Sneaks Into My Classroom


I saw this quote earlier in the day (sticker on a car) and immediately smiled.  It was also something that has been on my mind lately, both from a recent book I read about education and with all the Comic-Con action from last week.

(In other news, Comic-Con is a bucket-list item for me.  More on that later)

First, we can start with Comic-Con.  Joss Whedon’s been everywhere lately.  With the success of The Avengers last summer and a multitude of Marvel movies being rolled out (Avengers 2 among them), Mr. Whedon has been hitting on all cylinders lately.  With the Agents of SHIELD coming to television to provide some “at-the-moment” tie-ins for the Marvel Universe, Joss is also coming back to some of his roots (good ole’ television!).

This is where “shiny” comes into play.

One of Joss’ original television shows was Firefly and the follow-up movie Serenity.  I know you can probably Google Firefly along with Whedon’s name and find all sorts of information on this series.  In short, it was definitely mistreated by Fox and cancelled before it’s time, though with the truncated season it had, it also makes it somewhat mythic.  The fact that something that short-lived could spawn such a passionate fan-base always makes me smile.  And yes, I’d count myself as a part of that fan-base as well (though I’m sure someone knows that universe much better than I do).

Now to the point, which makes this all “shiny.”


If you’re a self-proclaimed “browncoat,” (you can look that term up or click here) chances are you’re definitely a fan of Mal Reynolds, the captain of the Serenity.  I can probably write more on Mal, especially how well Nathan Fillion inhabits that character, but we’ll save this for a bit.  Let’s just say that Malcolm Reynolds is one of my favorite characters of all time from a television show.  

I just didn’t think my favoritism of a character on a fictional sci-fi television show would have some impact on my teaching.

Now the Education Part

I just finished reading Rafe Esquith’s newest book (Real Talk for Real Teachers) and he’s definitely an educator I look up to.  I’ve taken a few things he’s done in his own classroom and incorporated it within my own classroom.  And it’s worked out beautifully.

( I’d definitely be honored to watch Esquith teach for a few hours.  Honestly, I’ll probably write about him too or review the book soon.  In the meantime, check out his website and pretty incredible story here)

As I read through the book, I kept thinking about my own “style” in the class, how I try to enable as much flow to what everyone does.  But as Rafe points out, you will eventually have that flow disrupted no matter how hard you may try as a teacher.

This is where Mal comes in.

Mal kind of sneaks up in both situations, whether the class is zipping along in a nice flow or when it’s careened to a stop because of some disruption.  There are a few ways this happens:

  1. “Shiny”  I have been known to say this in class.  In fact, I keep trying to make this “a saying” within the classroom for something good happening in the class.  It never takes, though.  Of course, I’m bound to try it again this coming school year!
  2. I also realize, upon reflection, I quote Mal pretty much directly (this only happens a few times, truth be told).  There’s a scene in the movie Serenity where he sorts of grumbles “Get to work.”  I do the same thing when I’m trying to keep my frustrations in check about some sort of interruption and asking the students to get focused.  The only reason why I mention this is because I always feel I’m playing out that scene.  I may have to stop that, actually!
  3. Speeches.  I’m sure my students are sick of my speeches of sticking together and fighting all odds.
  4. Ultimately though, this is where Mal really sneaks into the classroom (as corny as it may be!):

Most of the time, this is what I think of when I’m teaching.

(Yes, taking a Firefly Class vessel into space and smuggling, thieving, and general lawlessness . . . not the sappy parts!)



We’ll start with a short post about trying to maintain this little piece of the web.  I actually thought about a few things in terms of what I truly want to do with this and I think I’ve finally stumbled my way into something I’ll become more consistent with.

More than likely, I’ll probably write more and more about education, though I’ll still have a few posts about random things I’d like to write about.

Mainly, I just want to build consistency.  And content.  And it always starts with a single step.  So here . . . we . . . go . . .

Elan Mudrow


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