You are the adviser for “The Wit.” How are you teaching students to keep up with the constantly changing media landscape?
The key to navigating our media landscape is actually understanding human needs, motivations and behaviors. The understandable inclination is for students to say, “Teach me how to use this software.” I think curricula that focus solely on technical skills do a disservice to our discipline and our students. In our department, we intentionally nurture theoretical understandings and develop practical skills so students get in the habit of asking good questions before they just start making content without forethought or consideration of what may happen as a result of their work. So the process of teaching them to keep up with constant change is to help them learn to focus on that which endures — our need for connection, validation, inspiration — because at the end of the day, what we find compelling remains the same, even if the packaging shifts from one platform to another.
If you could interview anyone — living or dead — who would it be and why?
This is a tough question. Can I just plan my ideal dinner party of conversation partners instead? I would invite Margaret Atwood, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Oprah, Gal Gadot, Mindy Kaling, N.K. Jemison, J.K. Rowling, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Beyoncé for a “Galentine’s” meal to end all Galentine’s meals.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
“Own your currency.” Amy Poehler writes about this in her memoir “Yes, Please!” The idea is that we all waste so much time wishing we were something other than what we are — smarter, prettier, stronger, etc. — that we lose sight of the unique gifts (or, our currency) we have to offer. So frequently my students come to me with questions that, if you’re listening carefully, are really inquiries about their worth and value in the world. My goal is to help shift their perspective from one of presumed deficiency to one of unquestionable worth so they know I believe in them and, as a result, feel empowered to go and make their own unique mark on the world.
Marathana Prothro is assistant professor of communication and divisional council member communication and fine arts at Bluffton.