In this week's reading by Saara Sarma (2015) we read about world politics and laughter. There is nothing to smile about when reading disturbing and disheartening local and global stories. Being able to see a meme or a comic about these stories and issues can at times bring a smile in a sad times. Being able to think deeper about political issues can occur through collages (Sarma, 2015). The public is learning about politics and major global events through memes and comedy. My Grade 5 students are infatuated with Donald Trump. They want to imitate him, dress like him for Halloween, all for comedic value. I have taught Grade 5 for 10 years, I have never had this many students talking about politics. Even if they are misinformed, or just uninformed the comedic value of politics has helped make many young people more involved. As educators we have the important job of helping students to become critical thinkers, question what they read, see and what makes something funny.
Saara Särmä. “Collage: An Art-inspired Methodology for Studying Laughter in World Politics.” Caso and Hamilton, Eds. pp. 110-119.
This week I was presenting in class about avatars and an online identity. I had spoken a little about a student I currently have in my class. He is a selective mute. He does not speak in the school, he has not spoken since Grade 1 and he is currently in Grade 5. This year he started using text to voice to communicate with myself and his peers. He has also started using the apps Telegami and Voki to create an avatar of himself to speak and present pretending to be the avatar. This has been a huge step towards speaking in front of and to his peers. He now is able to communicate with others and his confidence has increased.
Creating an online identity or avatar does not have to represent oneself. This could be a time to experiment by creating a new online identity. The possibilities online seem endless. There may be opportunities for students to be something or someone they aspire to be like in real life. It can create internal emotions and help students overcome fears.
In this weeks reading "Using Popular Culture Texts in the Classroom to Interrogate Issues of Gender Transgression Related Bullying" by Alison Happel-Parkins and Jennifer Esposito (2015), it is suggested that teachers should use popular culture content to help teach students. This was a very challenging article to read. Living in Singapore, a country where there are absolutely no same sex rights and being surrounded by friends in same sex relationships has been a constant struggle for me. As no one 'out' to students but most are to staff, teachers constantly feel that they are not giving their students any out, proud role models. I teach in a school with over 3000 students and no LGBT community for students to have a safe space. I understand I have chosen to live in a country very different from Canada but it makes me sad to think we are not helping students that could benefit from knowing successful gay teachers that are apart of their lives. In every grade we speak and teach about respecting all cultures/religions and sexual orientations but we do not specifically teach or speak about anything related to homosexuality. On that note we don't even teach sexual health education. With such a diverse range of cultures and beliefs within an international school we have become so hyper sensitive with anything to do with sex we just avoid the topic altogether. It seems impossible to come to a consensus on a recognized authority or curriculum that would cover these issues. Being that sodomy is still illegal in Singapore this is an extremely contentious issue. Being an international school with international teachers and students but teaching within the legal constraints of our host country is proving to be very challenging for me.
Happel-Parkins, A. & Esposito, J. (2015) “Using popular culture texts in the classroom to interrogate issues of gender transgression related bullying,” Educational Studies 51(1), pp. 3-16.
Readings: Henry Jenkins. “Fan Activism as Participatory Politics: The Case of the Harry Potter Alliance.” DIY Citizenship. Pp. 65-73.
Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. The Walking Dead #1: Special Edition. Berkeley, CA: Image Comics. (May 2008). Comic book.
Watch: Zombie Apocalypse (Discovery Channel, 43 minutes):
This weeks reading was very interesting. I am not particularly interested in science fiction so I was very much intrigued to find out more about zombies. This week we were required to watch Zombie Apocalypse on the Discovery Channel. I was truly blown away by the seriousness and lengths people go to to protect themselves in the case of a zombie apocalypse. In class a fellow peer presented on zombie based learning (ZBL). The idea of teaching geography/environment through zombie’s. This does seem very familiar to teaching within the Primary Years Programme (PYP) within the International Baccalaureate. Educators allow students to drive the curriculum through their interests. Teachers find out what students are interested in, what questions they have and then they move forward incorporating this new knowledge knowing that students will be engaged. Giving the scenario of a zombie apocalypse to students allows them to look at different perspectives and work together focusing on a range of aspects from the distribution of resources to planning their post outbreak settlement.
This weeks blog post is based on the article, Advertising and Consumerism: A space for Pedagogical Practice in Mirror Images. This article is looking at the connection between education and advertising. Advertising and consumerism in the classroom has traditionally been the “enemy”. As educators we can chose to look at consumerism and advertising through a different lense and use it present rich opportunities for students to learn.
Funes outlines the many ways that advertisers send messages informing the public of what is ‘normal’. Advertisers use a range of techniques to construct a reality that is not often questioned, especially by students.
As educators helping students to deconstruct their own perceptions of what is ‘normal’ is essential in helping them grow into informed consumers. We need to teach students to examine and assess what is being shown to them.
Students analysing spending habits, what is ‘normal’, etc. is what Funes outlines as “disrupting the traditional “transmitter-message-receiver”. Students are inserting themselves into their own learning. Once students see themselves reflected in their own learning they will feel and act more informed. It is obvious that we need to be teaching students to be critical of the how they view the world but how do we go about doing this? How do we teach them the necessary skills to be critical consumers?
Teachers may need to ‘teach’ less and facilitate more. Develop investigations, help students question, deduce, reason, perceive and make connections. All of these big ideas are transferable skills that students can bring to other areas of their lives (Funes, 2008).
References: Virginia Funes. “Advertising and Consumerism: A Space for Pedagogical Practice” Mirror Images. Pp. 159-177.
In the article If Ideas were Fashion David Wong and Danah Henriksen look at teaching, education and learning in relation to fashionable ideas. Fashion is so engaging and stimulating for so many people because of the level of self we put into it. Fashion is so important to so many people because everyday we are projecting who we think we are to other people. From this article I took away the idea that we as educators should be creating projects and lessons in which our students can infuse their sense of ‘self’ into.
Within the International Baccalaureate (IB) program we teach using authentic inquiry. Once students are engaged or ‘buy in’ they are much more likely to learn, ask questions and make connections. Having student create work that reflects who they are (similar to fashion) will foster a higher level of interest. Allowing students to pick their own topics, direction, design and method of presentation gives students more ownership and creative control. Students will be more interested in their work as they are more invested in the whole educational process.
That being said there are times that I feel I cater too much to my students. I try so hard to allow for my inquiry to be student driven but there are certain things I do need to cover. For example, recently I was teaching BEDMAS in math class and had a very challenging time getting the students engaged. I had one student that informed me that they would like to “investigate area and perimeter as my family is moving into a new home and I want to make sure all of my bedroom furniture will fit”. I informed my student that of course it would be a wonderful idea to investigate that further but in class we will be looking at BEDMAS. At times I find it challenging to be sure I cover everything I need to accomplish and be sure that every student is engaged. This year I had a colleague who gave me the advice of “looking bigger picture, teach using concepts such as form, connection, function - this will help guide you away from getting lost in details”. This advice definitely helps, but I do still struggle with both sides.
References: Wong, D., Henriksen, D. (2008). If ideas were fashion. Counterpoints, Mirror Images: Popular Culture and Education 338, 179-198.