Anyone who knows me would tell you I have a love for a couple of things.

80’s pop culture and teaching.

In fact, if you have ever been in one of my classes you know that it isn’t long before you find yourself having to answer random questions on Die Hard (the best action movie ever made) or any number of questions on random 80’s sitcoms (insert Silver spoons, Facts of life, Night court, Seinfeld, or Perfect stranger questions here). Yet amongst all these, I have a specific soft spot for John Hughes films, especially Ferris Bueller’s day off. At this point, you may be asking what does this have to do with open pedagogy? I promise you before you can say “yippee kay yay mother….” I’ll be to the point.

The other day on twitter an OER influencer, Bonnie Stewart, made the point that it was time to show her kids Ferris Bueller’s day off. In the interest of time, I will give you a short synopsis (just watch the movie). A rich spoiled kid, Ferris (played brilliantly by Matthew Broderick) decides to skip school with his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and best friend Cameron (Played by Alan Ruck, in a completely underrated role). Highjinx ensues and shenanigans occur.

I saw this movie for the first time when I was 13 and Ferris became my hero.

Cameron telling Ferris Bueller he is his hero.

Now here I sit 33 years later and I’m understanding who the real hero of the story was.


By the end of the movie, Ferris hadn’t changed one bit. He was still rich, spoiled and got his way in the end. Cameron however, went through a substantial change. He stepped outside his comfort zone, paid the price for it and decided to stand up for himself. In my eyes, he’s the true hero of the movie.

It got me thinking.

How often are we attracted to the Ferris’s in our classrooms? The loud and charismatic ones who demand our attention?

How many Camerons do we have that are flying under the radar, just waiting to be noticed and challenged to leave their comfort zones?

Maybe I’m feeling a bit nostalgic but I think it’s time to let the Camerons know that we have their backs. In this world of Open Pedagogy, I can’t stress enough how empathy needs to become a part of our practice. This means taking the time to learn about the Camerons in our classroom and not just focussing on the Ferris’s.

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