“Adapted educational tool”

December 15, 2021

A Child’s View: Intersections of Ancient and Modern Rome and Greece looks like a typical classic course until you hear about the topic: video games, roller coasters, super heroes, and an epic Colosseum LEGO set that has been put together by everyone. the class.

Dr. Tana Allen, professor in the Department of Classics in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, explains that the goal of her Classics 4010/6003 seminar course was “to explore the ways in which ancient Greek and Roman materials are integrated. to the experiences of children and young adults.

It refers to the traces of the classics in popular media like video games, bestselling young adult books, movies and even theme parks. One of her students explores how the Greek myth of Typhoon is reworked on the Leviathan roller coaster in Canada’s Wonderland, while student Mahala McIntosh explores why the DC comics of Midnighter and Apollo were inspired by stories classic.

Using LEGOs as building blocks for learning

Dr Tana Allen wanted to change his teaching model – the LEGO Colosseum was found to be one way to do this.

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

To complement this course material, Dr. Allen added something to his method of teaching this semester that no professor may have ever introduced in a college class: a LEGO set. the Lego set. When released in November 2020, the LEGO Colosseum was marketed as “the greatest LEGO set ever.” It contains 9,036 pieces.

Aside from the fun, the LEGO Colosseum turned out to be a suitable educational tool. “There are Easter eggs built into this model,” Dr. Allen explained. “For example, there are only four places where bright colors are used, which is reminiscent of the colors used by Roman chariot teams, so we had a great discussion about why these colors were deliberately in the ‘together.”

When she saw the set, she knew she could use it as an educational tool, but was surprised to see how the act of building the Colosseum taught students transferable skills like collaborative solving. of problems. Students also said building the LEGO Coliseum was a relaxing way to unwind before, after, or outside of class.

Initially, the students chose the set during class, then on Friday afternoon in Dr Allen’s office, and from there it was placed in the Classics graduate student space as a joint project. One of his students gets extra credit for maintaining a construction Instagram account: @colosseumlegemus

“Just hearing the classmates talk to each other about classics, about their college experience, finding the issues to build this thing, it was just amazing,” Dr. Allen said.

It also puts some things in perspective. As one student put it so well: “If it is so difficult to build the Colosseum with LEGOs, can you imagine having to build it with stone?

New lenses for old understandings of classics

Student Mahala McIntosh and the LEGO Coloseum
Student Mahala McIntosh says the course allowed her “to deepen the way we analyze things in classical reception.”

Photo: Chad Pelley

Learning about the actual Colosseum was the focus of the course material. The course covered things you would expect, like archaeological details about the famous amphitheater, but at the heart of the course was the concept of ‘classical reception’, which is essentially the study of how ancient Greek and Roman material has been transmitted to us and translated, interpreted or reimagined.

Together, Dr Allen and his students took classical reception a step further than has been traditionally done. In light of recent social movements causing many academic disciplines to reexamine their understanding of their fields, Dr. Allen’s students began to apply lenses of racism, colonialism, and authority to long-held understandings in the classics.

This kind of exploratory thinking and uncharted territory was right up the alley of college student Mahala McIntosh, as someone interested in how traditional discourse on the classics affected her field of study. “We’ve gradually deepened how we analyze things in the classics and what do we do with all of these different reinterpretations and adaptations,” she said.

It was Dr. Allen’s intention from the start. “I wanted to change the teaching model,” she said. “I told the students early on that we’re going to learn this stuff together. I will never go back to teaching any other way for this course.

Chad Pelley is a communications advisor in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]

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