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One zombie book, one zombie college

August 27, 2013

File under ZombieLaw Education – from SunTimes: “Zombies invade campus as class subject” By Donna Vickroy:

The virus already has infected the math, biology and, yes, even English literature departments. No field of study is safe. “Zombies are here,” Troy Swanson said. And educators couldn’t be happier.

Really? I thought most teachers were screaming mad against zombification; against high stakes testing and prepackaged corporate curricula that devalue teacher creativity and turn human teachers into robotic learning agents.

But at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hill, Illinois, the zombies are a reading requirement:

The origin of the zombie infection at the Palos Hills campus can be traced back to the library staff. Every year for the past 10, it has selected a work of literature for its One Book, One College program. A chosen novel is embraced by faculty and its message applied across curriculums. Students are encouraged to read the book and the public is invited to do the same.

This year’s choice … “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War,” by Max Brooks…

This program from the library staff will also include a Humans versus Zombies game in October to “model disease outbreak” and crossover in all fields of study.

It’s interesting to examine the zombie issue as relates to a schoolwide reading assignment. Requiring a book to inspire community togetherness is not the same as imposing an all encompassing Common Core of standards, but it is a slippery slope. The idea of everyone reading a book to spark some community cohesion might actually help to de-zombify students who might otherwise not have a good common reference.

Max Brooks book should present a good starting point for nearly any subject. The differences with the movie could open a dialogue on Hollywood and media. The book’s narrative structure as a oral history could open the door to so many other more historically accurate oral histories.

But there are legitimate fears in clouding everything with zombie metaphors. Recall Drezner’s fears of apocalyptic thinking. Surely that too, is also just another opening for more academic conversation, so overall if zombies motivate reading then Moraine Valley may be onto something.


From → Academics

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