Fandom Is Good for You: The Educational Implications of Fan Engagement

Now that this semester of grad school has ended, I finally have time to write a post! It just so happens to be our last post before our holiday break, too, which tells you a bit about the craziness of my schedule… You see, I’m a PhD student studying Learning Sciences, which is all about researching how people learn and how we can use those findings to reform the educational system. Trying to balance my online fandom life with my grad school life has been an ongoing struggle, but surprisingly, one of the things I’ve learned in my program is that many researchers in and around this field study the educational implications of fandom. Well, now I’m here to cross over between my offline and online life by sharing some of that work with you, as well as some findings from my own research!

It may come as no surprise to you that fans learn a great deal from engaging in fandom, whether they’re writing fanfics, composing meta, creating fanart, making cosplays, or heck, even writing essays from a critical lens like on this blog! But fandom still tends to be viewed dismissively by mainstream culture, and even we fans sometimes devalue our engagement as a mere “hobby.” Modern learning theorists now acknowledge the importance of learning outside of school, and are calling for in-school learning to be more like the interest- and peer-driven realm of outside-of-school learning, including hobbies like fandom. There are so many ways that fan engagement is related to the kinds of subjects people learn in school and to skills that are generally useful in life. And better yet, it’s in a context that people really care about, rather than the decontextualized content conventionally presented in schools, which can seem random and unconnected to students’ lives.

So, this fandom thing you’re doing right now? It’s totally legitimate, important, and socially responsible. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

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Let Syng-sensei educate you!

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Throwback Thursdays: A Muppet Family Christmas

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Sometimes when you rewatch children’s movies that you loved as a kid, you sadly realize how stupid they actually were. You may have loved the movie as a child, but as an adult you can understand why your parents hated when you would put it on. But every so often you rewatch one of your favorite movies from when you were young and are filled with a warm glow because it’s just as heartwarming and beautiful as you remembered. For me, this was the case with A Muppet Family Christmas, one of my all-time favorite childhood Christmas movies.

It has come to my attention recently that a lot of people have never seen A Muppet Family Christmas, and that just baffles me, because it is by and large the absolute best Muppet Christmas movie. Yeah, it is better than A Muppet Christmas Carol; it really is.

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The Gnosis of Dolores: Westworld Finishes Season 1

A busy December has me behind schedule on this, but this weekend, I finally finished watching the first season of HBO’s WestworldThe season finale, “The Bicameral Mind,” aired on December 4th, and while it offered some answers to the show’s plot mysteries, it appropriately left its philosophical questions open. After all, if three thousand years of scholarship has produced nothing conclusive on consciousness, a certain answer may be a lot to ask of Bad Robot Productions.

Still, though, Westworld is nothing if not ambitious, and the season ultimately fused ideas from psychology, religion, and even fiction in pursuit of answers to the deep questions it raised. If the conclusions are not entirely satisfying, it is only because no answer could possibly be.

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This is obviously going to get heavily into spoilers, so I’ll put a break in early.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Les Normaux

webcrush picSomething about the holidays always makes me want to watch a romcom, but unfortunately, almost all of today’s romcoms feature two cishet white characters falling in love, and after years of suffering through these plots, they’re just not appealing to me anymore. Fortunately, in today’s world, there are more and more romcoms featuring queer characters–just not on the silver screen. Today’s web crush is a cute, fluffy webcomic that needs a little bit more worldbuilding but still showcases some fun slice-of-life queer love stories.
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Lady Geek Girl Reviews: The Orbiting Human Circus of the Air

ohc-logo-finalI adore Welcome to Night Vale and love Alice Isn’t Dead, and… well, I was really disinterested in the first episode of Within the Wires, and never listened past that. However, the moment I heard the name of Night Vale Presents‘s latest podcast, The Orbiting Human Circus of the Air, I was intrigued. So one day on my way to work I downloaded the podcast and proceeded to give it a listen. While it is as wondrous, strange, and enchanting as many of the Night Vale Presents podcasts are, I felt like it was really lacking comparatively. The biggest issue was sadly something that Night Vale Presents has otherwise really been known for—diversity.

Spoilers for The Orbiting Human Circus of the Air after the jump.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Assassin’s Creed Trailer 3

The Assassin’s Creed movie comes out later this week, and now that I’ve played four and a half games and actually know the story, I decided to revisit it.

Given how bad video game movies usually are, I feel like I should be much more hesitant to see this adaptation. But it looks good so far, and I’m holding out hope that it will also be good.

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Rogue One: Many Bothans Died to Bring Us This Movie

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“So this proves that, if you whine about a plot hole enough, Lucasfilm will eventually make a movie to fill it,” my friend said to me as the Rogue One credits began to roll. She had a point; while Rogue One was an enjoyable movie, if asked what it added to the franchise, the only hard and fast answer is “an explanation as to why the Empire’s superweapon had such an easily exploitable weak spot”. Ultimately, while Rogue One was a good movie with many strong emotional beats, it never quite made it to great.

Spoilers for everything below the jump!

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