Arcadia prof connects education class with ‘The Wire’ for lesson in real-life challenges

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 From left, actors Jermaine Crawford, Maestro Harrell, Tristan Wilds and Julito McCullum portray students in the Baltimore school system, the focus of the fourth season of HBO's dramatic series

From left, actors Jermaine Crawford, Maestro Harrell, Tristan Wilds and Julito McCullum portray students in the Baltimore school system, the focus of the fourth season of HBO's dramatic series "The Wire." (AP Photo/HBO, Paul Schiraldi)

Many fans of the HBO crime drama “The Wire” consider it among the best TV series ever made. Now it’s serving as tool for teaching as required “reading” for a suburban Philadelphia college class. 

For fans of “The Wire,” it sounds too good to be true: Bruce Campbell’s students get to watch this sort of stuff for class.

Campbell, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Arcadia University in Glenside, said friends who taught in Baltimore at the same time “The Wire” was being filmed there have said the on-screen scenes ring true. The class is focusing on Season 4, in which a former police officer takes on another challenging job: middle-school teacher.

Campbell has incorporated “The Wire” into his syllabus to get students more interested and to make what they’re learning more real.

“A lot of this stuff isn’t too far-fetched from what is reality for us,” Campbell said. “Each week the students look at one episode from that season.”

The show brings to life challenges educators face in real-life schools — “inequality and segregation, race, ethnicity, identity, culture, cultural capital, capitalism, income disparity, tracking, no child left behind, school choice,” he said.

While he knows of other college courses on “The Wire,” Campbell said he is not aware of any that focus on education in the way this class does. Campbell says he has received some complaints — from graduate students who say they wish they could take the class for undergrads.

Fans can follow Campbell on Twitter and keep up with the class and ask questions with hashtag #AUTheWire.

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