A Free Superhero Teaching Resource to boost media literacy and engage children on a path towards Effective Climate Activism
Superheroes to the climate rescue, but not as you may expect…
This free teaching resource follows the same attention-grabbing, ‘green’-backgrounding methodology used for all our projects.
It’s aimed mainly at children, teachers, parents, schools, and others in an educational or child-caring capacity. But as the comprehensive Rules, Prizes Terms & Conditions specify, there’s a strict age limit. Entrants must be between the ages of 2 and 12-, give or take a couple of years.
Actually, if you read these Rules carefully – and no one ever does, which proves people must be engaged by the activity itself, and not actually give a hoot about the competition, rules and prizes – you’ll see this is no ordinary classroom superhero drawing task.
It’s another STN Transparent Trojan Horse. Without honking any green klaxons, without advertising any green agenda, our Superhero & Supervillain Drawing Competition provides a comprehensive path to effective climate activism.
What’s behind it?
Fun and engaging in its own right, this project is actually a dressed-up media literacy project.
It’s a subtle, but fun, lesson in political rhetoric.
All children find something to attract them among the Competition’s 16 Briefing Cards, with their ‘Top Secret’ information on 8 Superheroes and 8 Supervillains. Scroll down to the bottom of this article to browse them.
And why not pick one, and have a go at drawing it? That’s exactly what most children, at least those who are yet to feel self-conscious about their artistic skills, concerned how others might perceive them, convinced they’re rubbish at art or any of the other self-limits that puberty brings.
Whenever we’ve deployed this competition in public events like family festivals, we’ve reflected on Picasso’s remark that it took him a fews years to learn how to paint like Rembrandt, and a lifetime to remember how to draw like a child.
Here’s a time-lapse from the project’s first public outing
The Superheroes’ Secret Superpower – spotting bullshit
Less obvious is that fact that all of the Superheroes’ superpowers involve tools of rational debate, whereas all the Supervillains’ powers are different forms of bloviating, distracting, finger-pointing bullshitting rhetoric.
If this sounds like playground politics, that’s exactly the point.
This project is a huge hit at festivals, when children still swarm to it despite all the alternatives on offer in the form of music, face-painting, food etc. So it’s no surprise that it goes down a storm in classrooms too.
Children know, and deploy, all these tricks, positive (Superhero traits) and negative (Supervillain traits). This project provides them with a name to put to each trick. Naming something makes it easier to spot.
Once children associate these rhetorical tricks with individual supers, with their costumes, traits and trademark moves, there are many way for teachers to use these Supers for other extension activties.
We suggest some possibilities, differentiated by age group, in the Journeys to Climate Activism poster you’ll see if you scroll down, but teachers are of course the best people to know what their own students will respond to.
We’ve found that teachers only show interest in this poster once they see the students engaged in the activity. Again, this follows the STN methodology, and the old advertiser’s mantra of AIDA (first get their Attention, then their Interest, then their Desire, before you can move them to Action).
That’s why it’s only at this point that we even mention the word ‘climate’.
Free, open source, zero-cost, help yourself, spread the word
Step by step, and differentiated by age, the Teachers’s Guide describes clear paths from Engagement, to Internalising, Applying and Getting Active.
You can see the results so far in the Super Gallery of the Superhero Drawing Competition Facebook Group.
There, you’ll also find the Competition Rules, Terms & Conditions & Prizes.
Anyone bothering to consult the document would discover a protracted deconstruction of the very concept of competition, but so far all participants have been too engaged with the drawing to even look past the cover page.
The full Teaching Resource can be found here. It’s free.
Here are the instructions, the poster showing the path to climate activism, and the Super Briefing Cards.
Why not have a go? If you have kids, get them to have a go. And if you’re a teacher, or know one, get them to have a go…
To Infinity – and beyond!
Here are the Briefing Cards for the Superheroes (A-Level version):
And here are the Briefing Cards for the Supervillains (A-Level version):