A Trek through Teaching

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Everything I Need to Know…

Maybe you’ve seen that old poster: “Everything I Need to Know in Life I Learned from Star Trek.” Heck, you’re on this page; maybe you owned that poster — I confess I did.

Fiction teaches us about life. Science fiction teaches what might be, often asking us to examine life or modernity in light of what might otherwise be. Star Trek teaches… well, it started as a morality play set in space with cowboys. And the Star Trek franchise has become so vast — with 13 films, 10 television series to date (and 2 more on the way), and over 800 individual episodes to choose from — it’s safe to say Star Trek gives us a lot to think about.

But does Star Trek teach us about teaching? Let’s find out.

I’ve set out to look at how Star Trek portrays learning, teaching, and personal growth. I’ll revisit old episodes and talk about the lessons they contain about classrooms and helping people come into their own. While I don’t expect to uncover anything astonishingly novel in the shows I review, I do plan to seriously consider the implicit ideologies baked into the franchise…while not taking the show too seriously.

Posts here are written by a die-hard fan for readers with a passing familiarity of the main characters of prominent shows. Though that familiarity isn’t necessary for the purposes of conversation, I won’t spend time reviewing plots or explaining character back-stories, figuring other sites cover those matters in detail.

Partly for fun, partly to work on my writing habit, and partly to put to use all that time I spend watching this show, I present A Trek through Teaching. [This seems like the right time to thank Flickr’s Twjst for the banner image, licensed CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.]

Because I need an arbitrary path to follow, the first episodes I’ll discuss all use references to Shakespearean works as their episode titles. It’s crazy how much that doesn’t limit me.

Come join me on this journey! (And feel free to suggest episodes I should cover, too.)

Shuttlecraft interior at a point of quantum convergence. From this perspective, seven Worfs appear inside.


In a Worf-centric episode, three other characters demonstrate how to listen with compassion when someone's perspective differs from our own.
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A wide-grinned alien in shirt and vest raises jazz hands to get you excited; he's probably trying to sell you something. Wait, it's Garak. He's definitely trying to sell you something.

Past Prologue

A trusting commander and a garrulous tailor remind us to let students learn for themselves through experience, rather than lecture.
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A winged, horned serpent hovers between two purple aliens in separate cages. Yes, it's as psychotic as it sounds.

How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth

In a truly awful (yet, oddly, award-winning) episode, Kirk models the benefits of learning from students while they develop independence.
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dark-haired woman in uniform smiles at the man (off-camera) playing trombone nearby

Thine Own Self

The way one character teaches another to pass an exam provides a useful model for helping students develop independence: Restraint.
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Still taken from Star Trek episode, showing three Klingons in a dimly lit room. Character in foreground is smiling, accepting but downplaying acclaim from others off-screen.

Once More Unto the Breach

Re-watching “Once More Unto the Breach” from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine brings to mind good teaching practices, leading to classroom balance.
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