Nerd icon and best-selling author John Hodgman became a cult favorite with his famous radio essay first heard on the Public Radio International program, “This American Life” (2001). Hodgman has since gone on to star in the highly successful Apple advertising campaign, I’m a Mac/I’m a PC. (Hodgman was the PC.) He can be seen in contemporary films and television and on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with John Stewart.”
Hodgman’s essay was part of the show 178: Superpowers, broadcast Feb 23, 2001. This fourteen-minute thought experiment is for the older student as mature themes are discussed in a backdrop of a bar setting. However, for Advanced Placement students who have already had some experience with class discussions and mature content, the radio essay is a fresh, universal take on morality and an opportunity to practice arguments.
This assignment is a low-tech/high-tech activity. Both activities will be described here and both have been used successfully in the classroom. The lesson is a perfect 1-2 day activity during or after standardized testing. It offers a contemporary American literature connection between Romanticism and Post-Modernism.
The teaching packet includes: an overview, the complete lesson plan, teaching notes, essential and key questions, Common Core standards, 23 discussion questions for an online or in-class discussion forum activity, links to the radio essay and supplemental materials, a formatted transcript and formatted discussion posters.
Key words: John Hodgman, This American Life, radio essay, informational text, philosophy, Advanced Placement, post-modern, Romantic