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‘The Sleeper’ – Active Learning

Have you ever had a student who was ‘The Sleeper’, someone who would fall asleep in your class?  Perhaps you’re the person falling asleep.  This is a great analogy for engaging students in active learning, and, can be emulated for online learning activities.  This article is a wonderful reminder of the beauty in teaching.

Thanks to Mike Wesch for allowing his article (text, animations and images – great work!) to be reposted here on eLearn Hub. You can find the original here.

I’m pretty sensitive to student reactions in my classes.

Sleeper001For better or worse, I really feed off of them.

I had one student who was just always sleeping.


Or if he wasn’t sleeping he was giving me this strange dreadful look.

And here I was, armed with a dazzling HD screen with 2 million 73 thousand 600 points of light and a laser pointer


and I just couldn’t get through to him.


Actually, I had 4 Screens.



I mean, I tried everything.  And the more I threw myself into it, the more it hurt.  Every time I saw him I couldn’t help but think, “I must be really boring.  Nothing I do or say matters.  This class is meaningless.  I’m wasting everybody’s time.”


But sometimes I would just get mad.  Who does he think he is?  One day I just had enough, and I was just ready to … I don’t know …. and I went up to him and I said,


Do you want to go to lunch?


I asked him why he sleeps in my classes and he started to describe his addiction to games.



But it’s more than that.  He doesn’t just play them.  He makes them.


He started describing a complex game he had invented that used mythological heroes on hexagon cards that created what he called a “fog of war” game mechanic.  I couldn’t quite see it all, but I did see something else.



I saw somebody who could, would and has thrown themselves into meaningful creative projects. I found someone who has been mishandled, mistreated,


and under appreciated by an education system focused on frustratingly narrow pursuits.



So I invited him to be part of a different kind of class. No powerpoints,


no lectures, no textbooks, no syllabus no grades.


A class where students are respected for their strengths


and given a chance to discover them




Because that’s the real tragedy.  It’s not just that I saw David in a certain way.


It’s that he saw himself that way too.

After watching David work day and night on our class project to create a game,

Sleeper17I see him and other sleepers a little differently.














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