Friday, February 25, 2011

Knowledge-Able: Talking Points # 5

Michael Wesch's Argument
To me, this was a very straight-forward article. Basically, Michael Wesch talks about how, even though the classrooms across the United States have an abundance of technological tools at the students' disposal, many teachers tend to shy away from using that medium in his or her practice. This "shying" away as I put it, may derive out of fear, due to a generational gap between teacher and student; it may come out of ignorance; it may lay in the lack of knowledge; perhaps it is a control issue. Many teachers, especially in urban settings, due to district mandated policies continue to teach a prescribed curriculum at the head of the class to 25-30 students in rows waiting to absorb the information like sponges, and then once every few weeks, they are expected to wring out the knowledge onto a piece of paper. Wesch does not want to have education continue on this "give and take and hope to give back" path.

Wesch seems to be arguing in his article, "From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments," that "this new media environment demonstrates to us that the idea of learning as acquiring information is no longer a message we can afford to send to our students, and that we need to start redesigningour learning environments to address, leverage, and harness the new media environment now permeating our classrooms"

One of the potential reasons I mentioned above as to why teachers do not utilize technology, is the notion of fear. Wesch speaks to this through what he refers to as "A Crisis of Significance." Similar to what Dr. Bogad mentioned the first night of class regarding "No Cell Phones" policies, Wesch's idea of "A Crisis of Significance" addresses the lack of interest for many students due to "archaic" instruction. Prior to the mid-1990's, boredom was demonstrated on the part of students in the forms of doodling, putting heads on desks, or talking. Wesch's Crisis of Significance replaces the old boredom with technological versions. Things such as texting, facebooking, or i-pods are the newer ways to display tuning out. So, Wesch is trying to say that technology is not to blame. We as teachers need to bring back the relevance in education and if it means having the students make fictitious Facebook pages of Abraham Lincoln or a Powerpoint Presentation with downloaded music to accompany it, or a classroom Blog, then so be it- as long as they learn the concepts and how to apply them in a relatable fashion.

One of the questions that came to my mind is "Where does standardized testing lay in all of this?"

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Riding out The Storm: Talking Points #4

How does this article relate to me? Well, it doesn't- I was a perfect teenager:) However, it does relate to my sister. Let me count the ways:

The Storm

Rebecca Raby speaks on page 431 about teenagers' unpredictability and upheaval during this stage of teenhood. Well, when my sister entered middle school, it was like, in her mind, my parents and I became instant enemies. The screaming, yelling, hitting, swearing, disobedience, apathy, anger, slamming of doors, and all out hatred for her once-loved family became quite apparent. This was a storm that my parents and I never saw coming.


"The Promise" was something we often yearned for during my sister's teen years. I used to tell my parents, "One day you will get your daughter back." My aunt once told me, "Believe it or not, you and Lauren will be best friends one day." I didn't believe her, but in a way that did come true. Raby refers to British youth researcher F. Musgrove on page 434 as Musgrove "likened adolescence to colonized peoples who are in revolt." I couldn't have said it better myself:)


Raby speaks on page 435 about the different types of stressors that can accompany adolescence, such as drugs, alcohol, depression, eating disorders, sexual diseases etc. As I read this section, I remembered how these stressors were evident with my sister's first party when she came home "tipsy" from having her first few drinks and when my parents had "The Talk" with my sister about her and her boyfriend about sex and "The Pill."

Social Problem

Raby refers to an article in George titled, "Why kids are ruining America" where it states the following: "Teens are running roughshod over this country-murdering, raping, gambling away the nation's future-and we have bills for counselling and prison to prove it." My thought process switched from my sister's delinquency to my students'. I felt that I was heavily influenced in a positive way when I was a teenager and so was my sister for that matter. Today, I constantly think to myself, "Where are the positive tv shows now for kids to learn from?" We are living in a world of Reality TV, Crime, and Dramas. I often think, "If there were some better things for the kids to watch on tv then maybe these kids wouldn't be so misguided? I remember learning a great deal from TV shows when I was young. Back then, you would see characters mature, plots become more relatable, and morals were absorbed in a matter of 30 minutes. Take a look at this montage from one of my favorite shows, "Growing Pains (1985-1992)" In this montage, it shows various female adolescent issues that "Carol Seaver"(Tracy Gold)endures throughout the series and are mostly explored in this week's reading(oh, and yes, that IS Brad Pitt, ladies. He did get his start on this show- as did Matthew Perry and Leonardo Dicaprio...but I digress):

Where is that now? Would that make a difference? In fact, name one television show airing in 2011 that a teenager could actually learn a lesson that would teach them ways to cope with problems.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Talking Points # 3: Stereotypes in Cartoons

In the article, "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us," Christensen argues that cartoons and their images influence the manner in which viewers (primarily children)see the American culture. This "secret education" (p.128) that Christensen speaks of is embedding an ideology that consists of one sex, race, class, group, country, etc dominating over an inferior one. Examples such as an episode of Popeye, titled, "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves" (p. 130) or more recent films such as Mulan, Aladdin, and Pocohontas are noted by Christensen as highly discriminatory toward non-American groups. Although, an easy/interesting read, the point of this article in my opinion is not a blanket statement: "Cartoons portray anything non-American as bad." To me, Christensen, seems to be looking out for the young viewers who live within a society whose youth is quite impressionable.

Now, I watched the cartoons that Christensen mentioned in the article, and I NEVER thought for one second that Duck Tales, Popeye, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had ANY effect on me. Nor did other popular shows such as Inspector Gadget, Thundercats, The Smurfs, Bugs Bunny and Friends, Garfield, Mighty Mouse, Scooby Doo, The Jetsons, Road Runner and Coyote, etc. make me think anything other than "this is entertaining." However, there was one show that I remember watching with my sister back in the mid-late 80's that I, at the age of 11 distinctly noticed portraying images that could influence my sister. Take a look at the theme song to Jem and The Holograms below. What images come to your mind?

There are so many ideologies at play in this theme song. From fame, to fashion, to the blonde girl living a double-life as a rock star and perfect girl that the boys always like off the stage, to "The Misfits" and their non-traditional hair and makeup to the competition, and of course the Jealousy- in fact, how about the image of the multiple girls vs. Jem. In fact, there is even the hidden message of violence, as they say, "We're The Misfits, We're Gonna Get Her." I remember when I watched it with my sister, thinking to myself, "What are they going to do when they get her? Beat her up?" There was always a subtle hint of that in that show. I'm probably getting on my soapbox here, but as I read the article, this is what I kept thinking of.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hip-Hop Sees No Color: Talking Points #2

In "Hip-Hop Sees No Color" Leslie Grinner argues that the movie "Save The Last Dance," at its core, portrays the white race as the superior one. Through the use of the acronym SCWAMP, Grinner gives examples of the ideologies of Straightness, Christianity, Whiteness, Able-Bodiedness, Male-Dominant, and Property Owning which can all be found in the film, "Save The Last Dance."

I saw the movie, "Save The Last Dance," and I remember as I watched it, thinking that the crux of the movie, although on the surface seems to be about Sara, the white girl, adjusting to a "black world," it actually seems to be more about Derrick, the ex-bad black kid, indoctrinating himself into a white world. Instead of the film being about the white girl learning to be "gangsta," to me, is more of a film about the black kid, learning to be "white." The whole idea of Derrick being smart (an uncommon theme among blacks in movies) and needing to channel that in the right direction (or the "white" direction) while at the same time, his friend Malachi continuing down the "black" path, resonated more with me while I watched this movie.

As I read this article, I couldn't help thinking about how blacks have been portrayed in the media/television shows. TV shows such as Good Times, The Jeffersons, and What's Happenin', which all portrayed blacks struggling to make ends meet in their ever-present efforts to become more successful(white)came to my mind. I also thought about TV shows such as Welcome Back Kotter, The White Shadow, Different Strokes, and Webster, whose themes were all white people who were in a position of instilling their wisdom on their black subjects in an effort to reform them into being more white.

More recently, movies such as Dangerous Minds and Freedom Writers (see clip below) further exemplified the aformentioned theme:

So, In conclusion, the whole idea of SCWAMP does seem quite valid, not only in "Save The Last Dance," but in almost all media consisting of blacks. I guess in many cases, it's "You are White until proven otherwise?"