Last week, a tweet about using memes in the classroom blew up. The tweet from literature professor Doug Guerra of Oswego, New York, explained how he asked students to make memes from lines in “Song of Myself,” a poem collected in Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.”
Within two days, it had more than 7,000 likes and almost 2,000 retweets. If you have any overlap in your Whitman/Memes Venn Diagram, I highly recommend looking up the ensuing thread. It’s some high quality original content.
Professors, TAs and student presenters — take note. This is how you use memes in the classroom.
Posting a meme of Oprah screaming “YOU GET A SYLLABUS AND YOU GET A SYLLABUS” in Impact font on your Day 1 PowerPoint is a nice touch, I guess, but let’s be real. If you want to be the cool professor who is hip to the lingo, don’t virtue-signal us with outdated memes. I don’t mean this to throw shade. I do appreciate the attempt. But really, all I can see is a wasted opportunity.
Memes can be a valuable learning tool, and it doesn’t have to end with cute corny ones about the mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell. With an ability to capture precise, but hard-to-describe emotions and create long-lasting visual cues, memes communicate more effectively than whiteboard sketches or video clips on Moodle. If you have somewhat of a grasp on popular meme trends, put it to good use.
If you’re interested in learning my patent-pending knowledge conduit that is dank memes, but can’t bear to scroll through all the ones about AirPods and Fortnite to learn the ways of the dark arts, follow a master learning-meme-maker like @historyinmemes, @sciencepolice or @geodography.