The Sleeper

I’m pretty sensitive to student reactions in my classes.

Sleeper001For better or worse, I really feed off of them.

I had one student who was just always sleeping.


Or if he wasn’t sleeping he was giving me this strange dreadful look.

And here I was, armed with a dazzling HD screen with 2 million 73 thousand 600 points of light and a laser pointer


and I just couldn’t get through to him.


Actually, I had 4 Screens.



I mean, I tried everything.  And the more I threw myself into it, the more it hurt.  Every time I saw him I couldn’t help but think, “I must be really boring.  Nothing I do or say matters.  This class is meaningless.  I’m wasting everybody’s time.”


But sometimes I would just get mad.  Who does he think he is?  One day I just had enough, and I was just ready to … I don’t know …. and I went up to him and I said,


Do you want to go to lunch?


I asked him why he sleeps in my classes and he started to describe his addiction to games.



But it’s more than that.  He doesn’t just play them.  He makes them.


He started describing a complex game he had invented that used mythological heroes on hexagon cards that created what he called a “fog of war” game mechanic.  I couldn’t quite see it all, but I did see something else.  



I saw somebody who could, would and has thrown themselves into meaningful creative projects. I found someone who has been mishandled, mistreated,


and under appreciated by an education system focused on frustratingly narrow pursuits.



So I invited him to be part of a different kind of class. No powerpoints,


no lectures, no textbooks, no syllabus no grades.


A class where students are respected for their strengths


and given a chance to discover them




Because that’s the real tragedy.  It’s not just that I saw David in a certain way.


It’s that he saw himself that way too.

After watching David work day and night on our class project to create a game,

Sleeper17 I see him and other sleepers a little differently.









One comment: On The Sleeper

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About Me

About Me

University Distinguished Teaching Scholar and Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University.

Dubbed “the prophet of an education revolution” by the Kansas City Star and “the explainer” by Wired Magazine, Wesch is a recipient of the highly coveted “US Professor of the Year” Award from the Carnegie Foundation. After two years studying the implications of writing on a remote indigenous culture in the rain forest of Papua New Guinea, he turned his attention to the effects of social media and digital technology on global society and education. His videos on culture, technology, education, and information have been viewed over 20 million times, translated in over 20 languages, and are frequently featured at international film festivals and major academic conferences worldwide. Wesch has won several major awards for his work, including a Wired Magazine Rave Award, the John Culkin Award for Outstanding Praxis in Media Ecology, and he was named an Emerging Explorer by National Geographic.

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