Why I Want Students Like Mulder and Scully

As January 24 quickly approaches, I have been re-watching The X-Files, one of my favorite television shows. While I could go on and on about all of the things I love about the series, one of my favorites is its ability to get the viewer thinking; regardless of how many times I have watched Mulder and Scully race to uncover the truth, I'm left contemplating something new. This time I've realized how I want my students to be like Mulder and Scully.

In case you are unfamiliar, Fox Mulder is a strong believer in the supernatural while Dana Scully is a strong believer in the scientific method. With most of their cases, Mulder and Scully are obviously at odds with each other; one advocating for the science-fiction explanation and the other advocating for the science-reality explanation. As the show develops, both Mulder and Scully realize that they rely on each other's strengths to solve their cases:


This is further demonstrated when Mulder is abducted and Scully is left with a new partner, which requires her to make the 'big leaps' that Mulder would have. It is clear throughout the show that it is their relationship and interactions that allow them to find truths that others would be unable or unwilling to see.

Yet in the classroom, this dynamic is rarely seen and I have found that the majority of students tend to favor one perspective and dismiss the others. Of course, this is to be expected since peer pressure encourages them to stay within the mainstream and NCLB also encouraged them to memorize the right answers. In X-Files, these types of students would be part of the FBI's mainstream, but were the ones who ridiculed Mulder's and Scully's work on the X-Files.

Instead, I want to see students interacting with the same Mulder/Scully dynamic. I want to see them challenging each other and forcing each other to see new viewpoints as they grow as learners. I want their understanding of the world to be questioned as they discover new truths. But students currently shy away from being 'different' so I have to be creative to get them to see new perspectives, whether its me being their Mulder or Scully or using tools like Pear Deck to get them to share their ideas without fear of being judged.

Maybe in the future, students will become more confident as critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration are implemented across the board and they will naturally engage in the Mulder/Scully dynamic. For now, however, I will continue to work to foster this dynamic in my classroom and continue my marathon viewing of The X-Files.


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