What Do Santa & Hulk Hogan Have in Common?

The PBS IdeaChannel is my new favorite YouTube addiction. Imagine taking everything thought provoking that PBS hangs its hat on, and wrap it up with nostalgia for the 80s and 90s, and you have the social media makings of PBS 2.0, designed for my generation..

For example, let’s compare Santa to Hulk Hogan shall we? Yes, yes, the premise sounds far fetched, but the way the persuasive piece of storytelling connects the emotions and cognitive awareness of the “buy in” to the “fakeness” that is Santa Claus and the professional wrestling world is almost magic.

I can’t help but wonder what big educational thinkers behind the Common Core State Standards might think about such a seemingly well structured thesis, especially as persuasive writing seems to be so dominant throughout the CCSS language. Having seen a few more Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium assessment examples that include students being able to assemble a persuasive and supportive argument after watching a brief video, participating in class discussion, and then reading two articles, I wonder how well we’re preparing out students to “decode” and comprehend media like this. It’s not exactly as easy as doing some text coding, or applying other forms of written writing comprehension skills.

If I were still in the classroom, especially at the secondary level (because who wants to ruin Santa Claus for a bunch of 3rd graders), I would certainly consider using media like this to start exposing my students to the sort of persuasive digital media pieces that they could potentially be creating.


  1. Thanks for spotlighting this, Ben!

    I hadn’t seen it.

    And I love the assessment description that you give below the video. It reminds me of the exit exams that I observed in Denmark:


    I TOTALLY want to see us get to the point where this kind of assessment is the norm in our schools, but I’m doubtful that it will ever really happen.

    Too many kids, too little time, too much money.


    Anyway — thanks for this,

    1. My son still believes in Santa because as he said, “I WANT to believe.”
      He is in 7th grade.

      Nice article, Ben. Gives me much to think about.


    2. Agree Bill, there’s certainly far too little time, and too many learners in our classrooms, to expect them to be able to assemble a persuasive piece of digital media like for an assessment. However, I could see the SBAC (or PARC) assessments heading in direction of relying much more heavily on video and other digital media, rather than traditional text, for students to consume and pick apart before writing a more traditional assessment response.

      It will be very interesting to see what happens in 2014-2015 when these big new assessments come online (literally, as they’re all web based), and we open up the assessment space to all forms of media.

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