#59 - John Tenuto: Pop Culture, Technology and Teaching

John Tenuto is a Sociology professor at the College of Lake County, IL, with over 25 years of teaching experience. Professor Tenuto has been nominated ten times for Outstanding Full-time Faculty, receiving the award three times in 2014, 2013 and 2005. He has also received the Illinois Board of Education Student Advisory Committee Faculty of the Year Award. He has given dozens of public presentations and media interviews on the sociology of the "Star Trek" film and television shows. Professor Tenuto has appeared on the Netflix series "The Toys That Made Us" for the Star Wars and Star Trek episodes. He was also named one of "Star Trek's" most influential fans by New York Magazine's Vulture.com.

In this conversation, we talk about John's interest in pop culture and how it shaped his lens of the world. We take a deeper dive into John's interest in Star Trek. His research takes him now the path to understand and highlight those who helped make the show what it was. We close with how he views teaching and what he does for his students. What comes through is his caring and authenticity in the role of a teacher.

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Show Notes:

[00:04:42] - Introductions

[00:05:25] - The Job of a Sociology Professor

[00:05:42] - Sociology is the Psychology of Groups

[00:06:58] - Why did John choose Sociology?

[00:07:12] - Welcome Back Kotter (TV Show)

[00:07:57] - Sociology and Sci-Fi

[00:08:27] - Planet of the Apes and Race, Star Wars and Religion

[00:09:42] - The stories that you grow up with and how they shape us

[00:09:52] - Evel Knievel - History Channel Tribute and his legacy

[00:10:47] - The Bad New Bears (Film)

[00:11:42] - Black Mirror (TV Show)

[00:12:32] - Any Stories or TV Shows that have impacted John?

[00:12:57] - Star Trek: Researching how it was made

[00:13:16] - Nicholas Meyer - Writer and Director of Star Trek 2, 4, and 6

[00:13:42] - Gene Roddenberry Archives at UCLA

[00:14:09] - Art Thrives on Limitations

[00:15:14] - Inspired by the people behind the scenes that make these stories possible.

[00:16:23] - Where does the interest in shining light on those behind the scenes come from?

[00:16:58] - Captain Kirk's Communicator and the influence on the world

[00:17:27] - Matt Jefferies and Automatic Opening Doors

[00:19:27] - Most of the technologies from Star Trek have become real

[00:19:57] - Imagination on the screen and imagination in the real world

[00:20:57] - How did John blend his career and his hobby?

[00:21:57] - John is very selective on what he adds to his interests

[00:22:57] - Big Bang Theory and rapid cutting

[00:23:37] - The Honeymooners and One Set Used

[00:23:57] - Too much telegraphing in current media

[00:27:27] - Father Knows Best (TV Show) - An Example to how writing has changed. A different view of storytelling.

[00:29:12] - Arc based storytelling: One of the biggest mistakes in modern storytelling

[00:31:07] - Comic Books and Arc Based Storytelling

[00:31:57] - Social Media and Time Distortion

[00:32:52] - Social Media is the singularly most damaging technology in the history of the world

[00:34:57] - Attention span and content of a message

[00:35:38] - Profiles and putting yourself in boxes vs. Getting know someone by unraveling that as you get to know that person

[00:36:57] - Polarization of Beliefs but if you have a foundation of relationship you can have friends with differing viewpoints

[00:38:27] - You have to act differently in different environments and assuming you should behave the same in any situation doesn't follow.

[00:40:32] - Symbolic Interactionism

[00:41:42] - Teaching students how to think not what to think

[00:43:17] - "On Demand" Technology

[00:45:07] - Issues with students being on time

[00:47:27] - Keeping students engaged

[00:49:37] - Generational Categories don't exist

[00:50:17] - Students are not engaged with each other organically anymore

[00:52:17] - If anything the lonely generation

[00:57:57] - John's teaching methods

[00:54:27] - Go where students are at to take them where you want them to go

[00:56:27] - Authenticity and caring for the student's success

[00:57:57] - Students don't have a blueprint for integrating these technologies

[00:58:42] - Embedding in practical skills into lectures

[01:00:42] - Passing students who shouldn't have passed is the greatest disservice to the student

[01:02:17] - Success isn't a grade, success is the student know A, and now they can articulate A effectively

[01:03:07] - Saving for Retirement: 15% of yearly salary

[01:04:42] - Face to the real world

[01:05:57] - Teaching is explaining all the tools in the toolbox and in what situations they are effective.

[01:07:42] - Critical thinking and how to come to unbiased decisions

[01:08:37] - The McDonaldization of Education

[01:09:57] - Closing and how to connect with John