Waiting for…Spiderman

Photo Credit: mrdorkesq's http://www.flickr.com/photos/29158681@N00/1813887857/in/photostream

A few days ago my daughter and I were skimming through the channels when we came across a retro cartoon channel. She was intrigued while I waxed nostalgic as the old Spiderman jingle blasted out of the speakers. You know the one~ ‘listen bud, he’s got radio-active blood…’ How I loved watching those episodes as a young boy in the 70’s!

Then the other day I read I read John T. Spencer’s blog posting on Why Superman would Suck as a Teacher and I thought, John is right; Superman is a lame metaphor for what we can, and need to do as educators.  Who would be the best metaphor for those of us who really care about public education?

Listen, bud! I’ll tell you- Spiderman!  Why, you might wonder?

With great power comes great responsibility: Spiderman is a reflective superhero who learns from his errors and isn’t afraid to question his decisions. He acts upon the wisdom he has gained from mentors and from his own experiences; when his Uncle Ben is killed by the crook  he could have stopped previously, Peter Parker realizes that his lack of action can have severe consequences.

An Inquiry-based superhero: In order to maximize his effectiveness, Spiderman draws upon his passion and knowledge for research and inquiry to develop his skills and the tools he uses in his practice. Knowing that his power alone will not help him solve problems, Spidey uses science and technology to enhance his powers, creating his web apparatus.

All about the Web: Spiderman’s use of webs is both elegant and analogous. Have you ever seen a spider web in a wind storm? A spider web is anchored, connected, resilient and sticky. These attributes are also found in the dispositions and characteristics of our best educators and PLN’s.

Superman, impressive though he may be, is not who we need or want. Of course,  it shouldn’t surprise us that a collection of millionaires and billionaires would come up with a remote, rigid ‘man of steel’ (who wasn’t even born on Earth) as a metaphor for ‘rescuing’ schools; they just don’t believe what we truly know. The knowledge, expertise and capacity required to radically change the outcomes for each student is not to be found outer space (or Finland)~ it can be found right here in our classrooms and  our schools. Provided, of course,  we act upon the lessons learned from Spiderman.

The good thing is; we don’t have to wait…do we?


  1. This is a wonderful read. As educators, we are working to enlighten our students to the power within each individual and how these powers are infused with the responsibility to use them wisely. In our PD on Literacy, Mathematics, and Leadership, educators discuss the need to support students in taking responsibility for their learning. With this, we are also facilitating the learner in building reflective practices that support constant questioning of what they have learned and how it connects to new learning to form deeper understanding of the world around them.
    Through inquiry, we are supporting learners becoming active participants in their own world instead of just absorbing what is thrown at them and just accepting it. It is through questioning/inquiry that they make meaning. Asking for answers about what they are bombarded with in their world builds the understanding and ideas that will power their actions.
    We don’t have to wait. These elements of successful classrooms have been identified as best practices of effective classrooms and are flowering from the professional practice of a quickly growing number of educators.

    July 15, 2011
    • bharrison said:

      Hey Angelo!

      Thanks for the appreciative and detailed response. I agree entirely with your closing~ enough with the waiting! We can, and need, to do this work. I’m excited that the advent of social networks has enabled like-minded educators to feel a greater sense of connection and support; like a web-based, educator version of the Legion of Justice!

      I’m happy to be a part of your PLN!

      July 15, 2011

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