If those people have different worldviews, hobbies and disciplines, even better.
“Essentially, I like to play the interpreter — so to speak — between different people,” said the University of Arkansas sophomore.
Growing up in Magnolia, Arkansas, Terrell was encouraged to try his hand at a variety of activities. He played music, made art and joined the soccer team. He also enjoyed alone time, read books, and played video games. He was heavily involved in Quiz Bowl, which fostered and rewarded knowledge of all those subjects.
Terrell considered a variety of majors, but ultimately he decided he wants to teach junior high and high school students. He’s an English Education major in the College of Education and Health Professions and earned a coveted Honors College fellowship to attend the U of A.
He’s planning an Honors Thesis he hopes will help secondary English teachers who are looking for innovative digital methods to teach during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I want it to be a giant lesson plan that teaches literary themes and literary devices using video games as text,” he said. “I know it sounds crazy, but I’m working on ways to make it a reality.”
For example, he’d like to have secondary school students engage in the role-playing video game “Undertale” on their school-issued laptops and pick apart its main themes, primarily through class discussion. He’d pair the game with a book that has similar themes.
“This will not only connect the game with more traditional aspects of schooling in students’ minds, but it will also let me more easily justify teaching a video game to students, since video games haven’t exactly left the best impression on the education community,” he said.
Undertale isn’t a traditional educational game like the Magic School Bus or The Oregon Trail, he said, but it has a strong plot with complex characters and themes.
Terrell is also seeking to bridge the gap of racial disparity in children’s television.
“In response to all the current racial tension, I’m working with the Honors College on a presentation about Black representation in children’s media,” he said. I’m trying to introduce this as a method of countering racist stereotypes that children ingest as they grow up.”
Terrell said his project is similar to the children’s and Young Adult book industries’ “We Need Diverse Books” campaign. He wants to focus on television, because most mainstream kids’ TV channels like the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon rarely address the topic.
Terrell is also part of the Honors College’s Flagship U! Seminar with Chancellor Joe Steinmetz. Flagship U! is aimed at students interested in leadership. Honors students meet weekly with Dr. Steinmetz to discuss critical topics facing flagship campuses.
Terrell continues to soar in his second year as a U of A student.
“I’ve had many great instructors here who are passionate about what they do and open to inquiries from students,” he said. “I also enjoy the many opportunities for student involvement here. If a student is really passionate and knowledgeable about a subject, they can research it or start an RSO about it.”
Terrell hopes to foster that kind of openness and excitement among the students he teaches someday.
“I dream of becoming an English teacher who can use even the most seemingly trivial tool to make an accessible, thought-provoking lesson for my students,” he said.