By Anastasia Fox
“We need to take over the lecture hall next!” honors students cheered, as they reminisced about their most recent success. The Honors College may be known for several things, including long thesis papers, merit credits and Dr. Digby’s cats; but what about rebellion? On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Captain Ole Jolly Weird Beard, also known as Benjamin Gerdes, and his gang of merry students took a literal approach to their honors elective piracy class and declared mutiny on an unsuspecting Professor John Frazier.
Taught on Wednesdays from 2 – 4:50 p.m., “Piracy Through the Ages” is an honors elective course that analyzes and examines the social, cultural and historical gure of “the pirate” as depicted through the media, copyright laws and literature. From “Peter Pan” to ‘Treasure Island” and Jack Sparrow, each week Professor Gerdes breaks down the barrier between interactive learning and higher education in his classroom to push students to reach their potential without thwarting their creativity. “This is an experimental interdisciplinary honors elective on piracy in its various historical and present forms, so we consider how the traditional classroom experience can be influenced by pirates and others who challenged societal norms,” he said.
The idea to revolt and storm another class stemmed from Isabelle Rutens and Paul Bakey, both junior musical theatre majors. “Our friends are in that class,” Rutens said, when asked why she chose Professor Frazier’s playwriting class to storm.
Politely waiting until after Frazier wrapped up a phone call, the gang of pirate students nicknamed “Digby’s Army” marched down the hallway waving their flag, all adorning bandanas and eye patches with skulls on them – in typical pirate fashion. The students burst into Humanities Room 217B, with a chorus of “Args!”
Some marked their territory on the whiteboard with their gang name while others made off with students’ backpacks as pirates booty; a hostage was even snagged in the middle of things. “The initial mutiny represents a great first step in the sometimes awkward effort for a class to venture outside their respective comfort zones. Costumes always help. I look forward to even bolder moments of experiential pirate learning in upcoming weeks,” Gerdes reflected.
“It was a good beginning pirate step to our repertoire of mutinies,” Elise Ramaekers, a junior musical theatre major, said. Although there are no more mutiny excursions on the syllabus, you never know what a pirate might be cooking up. Your class could be next.
[Editor’s Note: Fox is a member of the Honors College, and Benjamin Gerdes’s Piracy Through The Ages class.]