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!


Let Syng-sensei educate you!

Continue reading

Why I Love Neil DeGrasse Tyson

watch-out-we-got-a-bad-ass-over-hereNeil DeGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, science advocate, author, and director of the Hayden Planetarium, is one of my favorite human beings currently walking the earth. I am not ashamed to say that I have signed copies of four of his books and am a giant NDT fangirl. No shame whatsoever. Let me just make a short list of reasons why he’s kind of an incredible BAMF:

1. He’s a strong, unapologetic advocate for science education and scientific literacy, making compelling and charismatic arguments for the place of science in society. These things make society not just better-informed, but better overall. To quote him:

What should happen, which we should all embrace and value, is that as a minimum people are scientifically literate. So that as an electorate you can make informed decisions about issues that rise up, where your knowledge of science impacts how you might vote on one issue or another, or on important decisions related to the future of society, its economy, the environment.  All of these, at their core, involve scientific fluency. So, everyone should be scientifically literate.

He also believes that scientific literacy serves to protect us from those that would pull the wool over our eyes, safeguards us from charlatanism in all its forms. Put another way: scientifically_literate_neil_degrasse_tyson_bullshit Continue reading

Web Crush Wednesdays: All Hallow’s Read

What is All Hallow’s Read? Well, I’d let Neil Gaiman tell you, as it was his idea, but the youtube video of his introduction is ‘currently unavailable.’ (Here’s the blog post that started it all.) Basically, one day he asked himself why there weren’t more holidays where people gave out books.

I propose that, on Hallowe’en or during the week of Hallowe’en, we give each other scary books. Give children scary books they’ll like and can handle. Give adults scary books they’ll enjoy.

I propose that stories by authors like John Bellairs and Stephen King and Arthur Machen and Ramsey Campbell and M R James and Lisa Tuttle and Peter Straub and Daphne Du Maurier and Clive Barker and a hundred hundred others change hands — new books or old or second-hand, beloved books or unknown. Give someone a scary book for Hallowe’en. Make their flesh creep…

Give a scary book.

Basically, All Hallow’s Read is an initiative to give kids (and other people) scary books around and on Halloween. It’s a fun way to encourage reading and get in the holiday spirit at the same time!

You can learn more about All Hallow’s Read at their website, or by following the #AllHallowsRead hashtag on Twitter.