The #StationaryCrew Project (Why I Love My Job)

I teach in Guelph’s First Year Seminar program. It is by any measure, too much fun. How could it not be: small class size, interdisciplinary focus, emphasis on discussion and critical thinking, and wonderful students.

As good as it has been over the past number of years, it is so much better this semester!

Welcome to The #StationaryCrew Project. One of the courses I’m teaching this semester.

For those outside Guelph a bit of context. Installed at the University and the city are a number of statues (and objects) that have become important cultural touchstones. They include a bear, a cannon, a gryphon, a pile of garbage (!), John Galt, John McCrae, a blacksmith, and a family. Strange crew.

The #StationaryCrew

The #StationaryCrew

Let’s call these things, “icons”. Some are new (installed last year), others date back to the 19th century (and perhaps even earlier). They all have a strong visual impact and fascinating backstories.

And best of all, each of these icons has a presence on Twitter. Not a corporate account simply promoting the statue but someone being the statue, projecting a personae and chatting with others. They even have a hashtag for themselves: #StationaryCrew (hence the title of the course).

Various traditions over the years mean we interact with these icons physically as well as digitally. The cannon (Old Jeremiah) is painted regularly and acts as a focus for free speech on campus. The bear, The Begging Bear, is dressed up in all manner of clothes (my favourite being a full wedding dress). You are supposed to rub the nose of the Gryphon Statue for good luck and shake John Galt‘s hand. Bathing in the fountain around The Family in the Fountain is discouraged (but popular). Where did all this come from?

The most effective learning experiences are those which are done in public, well beyond the classroom. This course will not only get the students out into the community, they will be creating an online resource that will be accessible to everyone. And, of course, all their interactions on Twitter will be part of the digital public record.

Where the students (and the icons) take this course remains to be seen. As it always seems in my courses, it’s the journey that matters more than the destination.

Since we are learning about this in public you can follow us and participate too! Visit our website: The #StationaryCrew Project and follow the course Twitter account:


…Mike

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