Rethinking Popular Culture and Media
Summary and Discussion:
In this week, our group members read two articles in the book of Rethinking Popular Culture and Media, which named TV Bullies and Kid Nation.
TV Bullies talks about a popular musical television drama Glee, which focuses on the bullying as a bitter reality for most kids in the fictional school, located in small-town Ohio. The two protagonists, Kurt and Finn had been the target of homophobic violence. The focus on bullying in Glee is related to the dissemination by researchers, educational administrators, psychologists, and media journalists. This kind of dissemination draws public attention to the fact that bullying is harmful, but also makes bullying become useful and profitable for corporations to make money. Corporate media benefits by casting the spotlight on bullying in schools, especially if it involves homicide, suicide, and/or lawsuits. It also talks about how school should be responsible to stop the bullying.
Kid Nation talks about a CBS’ 2008 TV reality show that featured 40 kids from 8 to 15 years old and filmed on the location at the Bonanza town in New Mexico State. In the show, children tried to create a functioning society in the town, including setting up a government system with minimal adult help and supervision. However, during the show, some people argue that kids were never act as autonomous or self-reliant. The Kid Nation production raised questions about whether reality show participants are more like subjects in a documentary or working actors, so this show might violate child labor laws and even child abuse laws. At last, author stated that this show had failed in letting kids establish their own nation and manipulated by the media culture.
- What are some strategies to stop bullying that you have seen to be affective?
- Are you safe space certified, why or why not?
This week for our PLC we read “Why I’m Not Thankful for Thanksgiving,” “Mulan’s Mixed Messages,” and “A Barbie Doll Pocahontas.” These articles relate to the issue of cultural perception in schools and media.
The first article, “Why I’m Not Thankful for Thanksgiving,” discusses some of the issues with Thanksgiving, most notably how Indians are perceived by children in today’s society as a result of images in schools and the media. In one of our readings for this week, Nieto mentioned how power influences culture, and this example of American Indians is a perfect example of how power’s ability to influence cultural representations has shaped our cultural perception of a group of people. “Ingrained oppressive cultural attitudes are at least as hard to antidote, once implanted, as are imbibed cleaning fluids,” this quote from the author of this article should be taken into thought in our daily roles as teachers, we must work to prevent these oppressive cultural attitudes from ever having the chance to be ingrained into the minds of today’s youth.
“Mulan’s Mixed Messages” shows how the media can reinforce ideas about other cultures, even if these ideas are not necessarily true. This article discusses how Disney changed the traditional story of Mulan in order to create a more successful movie, without considering the implications of portraying Chinese society as much more sexist than it truly is. This is again an important issue that we need to tackle as educators: ensuring that our students understand the context behind certain cultural works/images so that these images are not misconstrued.
Questions for teacher:
What cultural images have you felt the need to challenge in your classroom? What steps have you taken/will you take to do so?
Although not necessarily relevant, after discussing HB 318 today in lecture, we are wondering what implications you think that this bill may have on your classroom?
The two pieces that we read were related in that they were both talking about the dynamics of legs in the classroom. Students had a Lego town project where they were supposed to build a town but students were creating hierarchies in relation to the lego pieces. Students were being excluded and others were guarding their territory. There were “issues of inequality and power that helped to shape Lego Town.” Eventually the legos were destroyed. A trade system for the legos was then implemented but it did not do much to mitigate the hierarchy. By the end, the teachers were trying to get their students to discuss the implications of power and inequality in regard to their classroom toy. The teachers had a responsibility to pay attention to the values and the interactions that the students portrayed in the case of the legos to emphasize the value of democracy.
In our discussion, we touched on how this particular lesson would be representative of critical pedagogy and the idea that education, whether planned or spontaneous, is inherently political (Hinchey, 2004). The legos could have been implemented into an actual lesson plan, since they were obviously a tool for learning in the after school care.
Questions for Practicing Teachers:
What are some relations of power in extracurricular activities that you oversee and how do you address them? For example sports.
How can you address these power stances that exist in the extracurriculars within the actual classroom?
How can you get your students involved in making rules for your classroom?
Summary of assigned reading & Highlights of discussion
The section “sticking it to the man” was about the pedagogy employed by a teacher in the movie School of Rock. The movie portrays a washed up rock star teaching rich private school students about rock and roll and eventually leading them to participate in the battle of the bands. The author critiqued the movie in that it was oversimplified and that it did not take issues of class division, race, and gender into account. However, the author pointed to the positive shift in the student’s attitude towards education. Before the new teacher came, the students were part of a strict system of education that graded them based on a standard curriculum, which as a result was dehumanizing them. However, teaching students about rock that allowed them to express themselves in their unique talents of singing and playing instruments led them to embrace their individuality.
The following is a link to an interesting article that also positively comments on the pedagogy in School of Rock : http://dougbelshaw.com/blog/2008/01/27/5-things-school-of-rock-can-teach-us-about-real-education/
Another movie discussed in this section was The Perfect Score. The author was talking about how the movie accurately portrayed that the SAT viewed all the students as the same and was designed with the false assumption that all students had the same background and experience of education. We should be less concerned about whether students can answer our questions and more concerned about teaching them how to ask questions. Question posing is more important than problem solving.
The other section we read was call “examining media violence” which was a compilation of articles, lesson plans, etc that acknowledged that media did reinforce a culture of violence but was is not the sole cause of violence in society”. We agreed that it is important to acknowledge media’s role in encouraging violence but blaming everything on media takes the responsibility off other real causes such as racism and segregation.
Connections to course materials
School of Rock was relevant to the article by Christensen which argued that students’ voices should be heard instead of forcing them to speak in a standard voice. In this case, rock was utilized as the language in which the students were able to freely express themselves that was free from the school system’s standards.
The perfect score was relevant to the Hinchey article that claimed that the school system supported the status quo. The SAT assumed that students have the background of a Western education. In the case of immigrant students or more marginalized groups of society, this may not be the case. Hence the SAT embodies this aspect of the school system.
Question to pose to practicing educators
How can teachers make sure their student’s voices are heard?
In what ways has your pedagogy been supporting the status quo?
For this week we read Freedom Writers: White teachers to the Rescue. This piece critiqued the movie, Freedom Writers, and it’s position on white teachers as the savior for the classroom. This made us look at the system as a film for racism in education, with the white teacher as the main figurehead. Overall, we thought that this piece excellent points but was overly critical in analysis. The story was drawn from a real life event, which has merit in the analysis, but the critique was a bit much. The second short story that we read was City Teaching: Beyond the Stereotypes. This piece we believed was opposite of what the first was. It shows the reciprocal relationship between the teacher and the students through the lens of the movie, Half Nelson. This is similar to the reading that we did today concerning the transgender student, Jaden, who was transitioning in late elementary school. The premise of the reading was highlighting the importance of having a supportive network throughout sensitive periods such as this. It is important to remember that the relationship between teachers and students should not be as unilateral as it sometimes appears. In the First Year, the teacher was taking a step further to help one of the students who was not being helped by the school. In Jaden’s story, Gwen and Darcy went above and beyond to make a comfortable environment for a young transitioning student.
In our discussion, we thought about how we would apply this in our own experience. One idea that we had was becoming Safe Zone certified for students that needed a safe place to step away to, or someone to talk with. We can also study this in our classrooms in a open and respectful manner that opens it up as a subject that is not taboo to talk about.
Questions that arose during our discussion would be any films or media outlets that you have come across that portray these experiences accurately? Also what are some ways that you have found that students are teaching you?
PLC: Pop Culture and Media
Note taker: Xiaoyu Li
In this week’s PLC reading, our group had read two articles, which named “And Ya Don’t Stop” and Stenciling Dissent. Both of the articles are meaningful and easy to reach.
The first article talks about a teacher tried to bring hip-hop, a musical expression, to his language arts classroom. He thought hip-hop was a very popular musical form in the world that have been discussed and used constantly. The goal that he wanted to reach was attracting students’ attention in the class. The author had introduced the hip-hop a lot and made some connections with the political and social issues. For instance, he stated that teachers use rap music with a clear understanding of how to meet their educational objectives through the music. Some good rap music would not only touch educators and students’ hearts, but they also talk about the social issues, such as humanity, homelessness, and poverty. During this process, the author kept asking his students for some deep thought questions. Meanwhile, the rap music can be used as a useful form of communication with students since it reflects a sense of nontraditional and nonstandard language. It can provide educators a window for understanding students’ lives and cultures.
The second article talks about a history class teacher who used stencil to teach history and inspired students’ creativity and political awareness. During his class, Andrew listed and analyzed some famous stencils to students, then he made some stencils himself and helped his students to make their own on a huge canvas wall. Eventually, he found that students love making stencils and their care, such as antiwar, had amazed many instructors. Andrew also used this opportunity to shine a light on some great people who were lesser known by others. He appreciated students’ efforts so much and believed that they could create something amazing.
We have talked about so many disadvantages of the pop culture in our previous talks and notes. For instance, TV shows take up too much time of kids, and school commercials bring the consumerism to students, etc. Nevertheless, authors gave us some positive comments from pop cultures and showed how could they help build the social justice.
The video that named Hip-Hop, Rap and Education, is relevant to the first chapter that we have read. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vsGfomwwVI
This movement of incorporating hiphop into the classroom as a means of communication and application of school content such as poetry connects to the issue of equity by making curriculum more student-centered.
The video talks about how hiphop doesn’t cost anything – its through language its more accessible to even poor communities.
Question: Is the approach practical for an entire class and would it distract from the curriculum?
- If classroom uses too much nonstandard language, such as rap music lyrics, will it threaten the using of official language?
- Would students get in trouble when they show their political stencils in public?
Our readings for this week were entitled “Sweatshop Accounting” and “My Year with Nike.” The former dealt with issues of business ethics and Wal-Mart-ization of America in a high school business class. The reading discussed methods for introducing students to moral and social justice decisions in business. A prime example of the writer getting his message through to his students was an activity in which they discovered the wages paid for each pair of Nikes made by workers in El Salvador (29 cents for $140 pair of shoes,) in a poverty-stricken nation. In the author’s own words, he felt his lessons were important because “it is more important than ever for business education to connect economic skills with values of democracy, social justice, and environmental sustainability.” In “My Year with Nike,” a teacher discussed her school’s corporate backing by Nike and Nike’s huge commercial influence on the students throughout the year. They product tested commercials and received Nike swag, even teachers were expected to show off the brand. The teacher pushed for a more equitable corporate involvement, focused on the students actual needs: reading education and exposure to play areas, particularly for a company with a track record of child mistreatment in its manufacturing.
We discussed the issue of cumulative disadvantage discussed in Barry Chp. 5 on both sides of the “My Year with Nike” article. The students in the school chosen for corporate sponsorship were from low-income families and LEP families, who were targeted for commercialization. Ironically, the families of the manufacturers of Nike products were also low-income families facing deleterious health effects of their jobs. On the other hand, we discussed the positive effects that Nike’s presence could have in schools, encouraging exercise, enthusiasm for school, and a sense of community, albeit one built around a corporate sponsor.
We also related the readings to Hinchey, believed that education was inherently and political and should not support corrupt status quos, as “Sweatshop Accounting” attempted to reverse “Bottom-line” business at the cost of human and environmental suffering.
Some highlights from our discussion were a strong debate on the pros v. cons of corporate sponsorship and the political responsibility of teachers. We were all impressed by the methods addressed in “Sweatshop Accounting.”
We wondered if teachers had faced corporate sponsorship in their own schools, and how they were combating commercialization of American in their curriculum.
We will read Part 6 Readings 1 and 2 for next week, focusing on Hip-Hop and Political Graffiti.
Our mission statement has not shifted, we are only exploring popular culture more deeply in the reading, this week focusing on economic issues.