Boone professor’s “rant” goes viral

The “No pomegranates” video featuring Boone’s Dr. Jane Martino has been viewed millions of times on sites like Twitter and YouTube. It has its own entry on “Know Your Meme.”

Dr. Jane Martino, professor of psychology at the DMACC Boone campus, agreed to be interviewed about the recent viral video of her on the condition that I brought my kids along.

As soon as my three sons and I walked in she was putting things into their hands and encouraging them to explore. She spent about twenty minutes engaging with them.

“I would never ask you to come visit me without your children. They are a gorgeous part of your identity. Besides, they’re a heck of a lot of fun,” Dr. Martino said.

Once they were settled with some building toys, puzzles, a few books and some models of the human brain, (all of which were readily available in Dr. Martino’s office), she sat down for the interview.

The video, captured during Dr. Martino’s Developmental Psychology class, was of her shouting “No pomegranates!” to a classroom full of students in an aggressive manner.  It was meant to demonstrate a poor way to communicate with children, but taken out of context seemed to show a woman who was violently opposed to pomegranates.

“It’s been about two weeks since ‘The Event’ … This went much bigger than anything I ever dreamed was possible, in a manner I had never anticipated.”

Dr. Martino says it never occurred to her that a student would post a video of her class online, and she has taken pains to prevent it from happening again.

“I wanted an extinction curve. I have absolutely no desire [to be known as the pomegranate professor]. I wanted it to go away.”   

So why did she do it in the first place, one might ask? According to Dr. Martino, “There’s a reason that throwing a fit works.  People know it at the core of their being.  Whether that’s the person in the department store that is yelling at their kid or the adult who’s yelling at their significant in a public place.”

Martino says that she employs more interactive techniques because it makes the lesson more memorable to students.

“We need to make education realistic.  The more real life education is, the more it relates to their lives, the better off we are.”

The viral video isn’t all bad, even to Martino.  “In my opinion this can be a really good thing for students.  Some of them were interviewed on TV…they did a superb job of communicating what happened.”

She’s okay with the pomegranate buzz being used by DMACC for marketing purposes as long as it funds scholarships for students, particularly at the Boone campus.

Dr. Martino plans to retire this June.  Her goal is to try something different for a while, which hopefully doesn’t involve pomegranates.

As I left, she was having ideas about how to explain the concept of aversive conditioning to students using the pomegranate as an example.

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