Instructors’ Teaching Experience

My students enjoyed getting the chance to read a ‘lighter’ book and found Little Brother to be quite interesting. For them, ‘lighter’ meant easier to read, as there were still some pretty interesting discussions had throughout the course of the class. Many of my students did not feel that the content of this book was particularly challenging, but they appreciated the ideas that it tried to get across—for that reason, I would recommend that you either teach this early on in your course to ease the students into more careful analysis or teach it at a time when the students may be working on another major assignment (or perhaps around midterms). [Jacob Horn,]

Classroom Strategies

I was a little concerned that my students would not find the book particularly interesting and relevant to them, but since the entire story starts with the main character avoiding the security at his high school, I thought we might talk about high school security as a group. The students enjoyed getting a chance to talk about their experiences with security, and I tried to prompt even the less talkative ones to consider speaking, focusing on questions like “How much security existed at your high school?” or “How paranoid were the teachers?” or “Were there students like Marcus who avoided the security? What happened to them? How were they thought of?” These questions sparked a great deal of useful discussion, and we were able to move from there to a discussion of their personal concern for security versus their concern for privacy, which brought us to an examination of what kinds of information their instructors can get about them without their knowledge. We began with the phonebook, in which I looked myself up (it’s on the main page), then I showed them how I can tell who has been on ICON recently, whether anyone has read the assignments, how much information a simple MS Word document contains, and finally we looked at the plagiarism detection possibilities of ICON. They were all suitably unnerved, and we had a good time talking about why this might be the case and how this book might be useful to them. [Jacob Horn,]