In this section, Professor Edoh explains how students attended performances out in the world to supplement and enrich their in-class learning.
At the time I was teaching the class, I found out that the play HEAR WORD! Naija Woman Talk True, written and directed by Ifeoma Fafunwa, was coming to Harvard, and that the filmmaker Alain Gomis was going to be coming to Harvard also. I had just seen one of his films at a conference a few months before, and I’d absolutely adored it. And I learned that he would also be speaking about the film.
Both these events were amazing opportunities for students to engage with these materials in a more social way. It’s one thing to be in your room and to watch a film on your laptop; it’s a different thing to be in an auditorium with various kinds of people, to pick up on the energy around you, on how other people around you are responding to the film. Not to mention to hear the filmmaker tell you what they were thinking when they created it, and so on.
Even the experience of leaving MIT is really useful. Part of our duty as educators is to help broaden our students’ horizons, not only in the classroom but also by encouraging them to explore beyond campus. So these outings were opportunities for more engagement.
I did, however, have to provide alternatives to attending these events, because the outings happened outside of regular class hours and some students had other commitments. I gave students extra credit if they could attend the screenings of the Gomis films live, but if they couldn’t attend the screenings, they could just watch the films online. With the Naija theater piece, there wasn’t a good equivalent for seeing it live. So instead, I showed YouTube videos of interviews with the director and some of the cast members, as well as a YouTube video of some of the women performing in Lagos in Nigeria, which then allowed us to talk about what it meant to watch this in Cambridge versus to see this production in Lagos.