Monday, February 2, 2009

Class 2/2: Films, Music, TV, news... oh my!

Tonight's class is an on-line meeting session, and what better tie-in than for us to explore the impact of the media on our views of urban education!

But before that, here are a few reminders:

1. If you have not already done so, please set up your blog, and send me the URL. I will post it here, in one of the 5 groups, so you all can read each other's blogs. If you look to the right, you will see some of the blogs already posted. Read and comment away!

2. Please complete the Frames of Reference paper as outlined in P. 5 of the syllabus (located in the docs section on Blackboard). The Frames of Reference paper serves as your first blog post. Please post it on your blog, and bring a hard copy to our next class meeting on 2/9. You will need that hard copy for an activity in class.

3. For tonight's fun:

Let's face it, we live in a mediated world. Film, TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, music, the internet... It's almost impossible to avoid some form of mediation. Our exposure to all of these media have helped to shape our understandings of the world around us, for better or worse. Tonight we are going to explore the role media has played in shaping our assumptions about schools, teaching and learning (urban, suburban, and rural). The point here is not to find a correct answer; rather, it to better understand how people's beliefs are shaped.

For many of us, there is a film or song that comes to mind when we think of school (and our personal schooling experiences, in particular). For me, it was Dead Poet's Society, though perhaps not for the reasons you think. The father of one of the boys was just like my father, and watching that movie was physically painful to watch at times. For me, this movie really drove home the importance of allowing children to be who they are, not who we want them to be.

Think back to the movies, music, television, and news articles you have read about suburban, urban, and rural communities. These media forms frequently help to shape what we believe to be true about ourselves and others. This is your opportunity to explore the connection between media and the social construction of urban communities, schools, and education. However, it is not enough to simply consider what an urban community is; we also have to explore what urban communities are not, especially in terms of how they are presented (or not) in popular culture.

Most of this activity will require you to take a quick trip down memory lane. You can use anything you need to help you with this: Youtube, your music collection, your yearbooks (if you still have them), etc. Don't be afraid to dig deep. This is only the beginning of an exploration that will continue in a later project.

In a nutshell, our goal for tonight is to do a little exploration. Rather than explore any- and everything, we are going to focus on the "basics" of popular culture: film, music, television, and the news. For each form of medium (film, music, television, and news), brainstorm a quick list of artifacts (exemplars) that represent suburban, urban, and rural education. Then, for each medium, choose an example that illustrates a representation of suburban, urban, and rural education. Discuss each example and how it shapes your PERCEPTION of education.

For example, I might choose the following films:

Suburban: Mean Girls
Urban: The Principal
Rural: Songcatcher

After you brainstorm and narrow down your choices, discuss how each film (or song, tv show, or piece of news) represents the community, students, and teachers. I might also create a chart to help me keep track of everything. Then I would move on to the next medium. When I was done I would have a paragraph (3-4 sentences) for each. Post your final product to your blog.

The goal here is to do a little data collection that we can explore further in class. If you can't come up with anything, feel free to use google. And, don't be afraid to explore and be creative.

Finally, once we have worked through all of this and our frames of reference papers when we next weet, we will be creating a COLLECTIVE KWL next week.

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