Meaning and Meme-ing
In this guest post, educator Rachel Wood describes how she developed a series of lessons to use in the Library Learning Commons (LLC), as part of an Additional Qualification (AQ) course she took. AML would like to thank Rachel for permitting the publication of her lessons here on this site – the link to the PDF appears at the end.
My starting inquiry question for these lessons was “how might we use memes to support student voice and choice in the LLC”? These lessons are focused on language and media in an LLC setting, but could easily be applied in other areas. They are based on a combination of UDL principles, media literacy, and reading, as well as writing, in the pursuit of “Meaning and Meme-ing”. My first idea was related to categories and signage- having memes created to go with certain areas of the LLC, and to align with the Dewey decimal system, etc. I was initially reminded of staff rooms that I have been in over the years that used memes to support the function of the space (mainly sarcastic dishwashing/paper towel memes, but they still helped!)
That original idea and remembering staff room usage of memes led me to reflect on how we can work towards positive meme culture. So often, memes and their implementation can “punch down”- I’m thinking particularly of Condescending Wonka (my least favourite meme!) and how it places the speaker in a position of superiority. Those staffroom memes that I remember were funny, but often at the expense of the reader. How could we use memes for joy and utility in the LLC?
I started first trawling through the vast universe of “library memes” on the internet. Many of them were fun and positive, but there’s a huuuuge amount of shame-y “late fees” library memes out there. This was slightly discouraging- we want to foster safety and joy, not discourage students from engaging with the LLC. I dug deep through the Internet (the whole thing?! No, but it felt like it…!) and curated a collection of positive LLC memes. During that search, I was so pleased to come across the subgenre of Wholesome Memes in my research. Wholesome memes were the key to the progression of our lesson- from LLC memes, to Wholesome Memes, to Wholesome LLC Memes. Students can use Google Slides tools to create their own memes, by adding text boxes, to reflect their Wholesome LLC ideas.