I was given my first “Honors” class in the fall of 2001 and I had much to prove as a teacher.
First, I called each and every student during the summer before school and congratulated them for getting into the advanced English class on campus, and promised them I would do everything I could to make the class everything they hoped it might be. Then I built a 9th grade curriculum that started by comparing and contrasting contemporary technological society with a fictitious future dystopias as illustrated by George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World — and this project was undertaken after completing the latter novel.
“Mustapha Mond’s Department of Propaganda” is a great example of a young-ish teacher who with boudless enthusiasm never let anything get in his way. Create from scratch and write up a full blown webquest on Aldous Huxley’s famous novel, “Brave New World”? Why not? Shoot video of students for school project. Why not? Give each kid a custom compact disk with this video on it to keep for the future. (Keep in mind this way way before streaming video had arrived.) Make custom CD jewel case covers with Adobe Illustrator, print it out on color printer, and give one to each student. Why not? Buy special printing paper for CD Jewel cases to give it that extra professional feel and touch. Why not?
Before this project, I knew nothing about how to shoot edit digital video — which was a new technology at at that time in 2001. After many evenings and weekends spent working on editing the footage shot for this project, I knew a lot about editing video. Emblematic of a time in my teaching career when I felt there was almost nothing I couldn’t do, if I put my mind and heart to it… WHY NOT?
My only regret is that I did not save the original footage in digital video format. I have only the lower quality footage that is emblematic of the relatively poor quality of video from that time… This project was the vehicle by which I learned to edit digital video – a talent that paid huge dividends professionally over time.