“New Literacies” is an online or digital form of literacy, that changes the way we read, write and acquire text. In a world that is surrounding by technology, media influences and social practices, it is necessary to move on from the traditional form or autonomous model of reading and writing (printed text). This old model of teaching through printed text and worksheets is dated, as our youth are inseparable from digital technology, and are no longer literate in just print text but also “visual, oral, gestural, linguistic, musical, kinesthetic and digital” (Alvermann, p.6). As classrooms are becoming more and more diverse and filled with different styles of learners, teachers need to incorporate new literacies, and ICTs (information and communication technologies) to meet the needs and pique the interests of their students. Alvermann stated that the autonomous model “assumes a universal set of skills are necessary for decoding mostly printed text” (Alvermann, p. 5). This is different than the new literacies and popular culture ideologies as students develop ways of self-pedagogy, and are able to use their technological knowledge to their benefits. This relates to Alvermann’s second debate, which centers on “whether or not young people’s participation in reading, viewing, listening to, and creating popular culture texts (especially digital texts) is an educational experience that has potential for transfer from informal to formal learning environments” (Alvermann, p. 9). Students can benefit from technology in the classroom, as well as the teacher. It can allow teachers and students to explore new strategies, can allow equal opportunities and access to all students in the classroom, and keep class content relevant.
Watching the film, Reel Injun, opened my eyes a bit more about how the indigenous are portrayed in our society. Growing up I have watched many films about the indigenous, Dances With Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, Stagecoach, Pocahontas, and more recently The Revenant. As I watched these movies at various ages, I never would have labelled the indigenous as “savage.” I always watch movies with the mindset that there are always two sides to the story, and what we see on one-side as the “savage enemy” we can always look on the other side and see the portrayed “good guys” as being the “savage” ones. Reel Injun demonstrated how the indigenous people were portrayed as hero-like in films during the Silent Era, how people “wanted to be Indian” or “have a cool Indian name” (Reel Injun), but were then portrayed as “savage” in films such as Stagecoach and others. It was shocking to me to see a clip of Bugs Bunny shooting natives or “Injuns”, singing “four little, five little, six little Injuns. Uh oh.. That one was only a half-breed” (Reel Injun)... BUGS BUNNY!
It is upsetting to realize how our favourite movies, icons and characters can portray a group of people in such a negative way, and have our society base the knowledge on a single platform. But in reality in many cases it was the white men or the colonialists that were the savage ones, wiping out many tribes and stripping many indigenous of their land. As we are not taught about residential schools and the true history of the indigenous people in school, we are falsely “taught” by Hollywood.
As stated by Stack and Kelly in their article Popular Media, Education and Resistance; “The media are a central, if not primary, pedagogue. Children and youth spend more time with media than any other institution, including schools” (Stack and Kelly, p. 6). Stack and Kelly go on to explain that “we we have the ability to think critically about what we see and hear... But the media are a pivotal vehicle.” (Stack and Kelly, p. 9). I believe we need to always keep that idea in mind. We need to be mindful of the different sides of every story and to see things with a variety of lenses. This idea is exactly what Deborah Appleman discusses in her book Critical Encounters in the English Classroom. Appleman states that “understanding postcolonial viewpoints is crucial for students if we are to educate new generations of Americans who are willing to move beyond Western stereotypes and biases” (Appleman, p. 87). The colonialist ideology is the opposite. As our schools are becoming more diverse it is essential that we move on from the colonial/ Western approach and educate our students through different lenses, using both sides of the story and from different cultures. Only then, will we gain a complete understanding of our world.
Appleman, D. (2009). Critical Encounters in The English Classroom. Teachers College Press. Chapter: Post-Colonial Theory in the English Classroom.
Reel Injun (Dir: Catherine Olson) NFB Canada
Stack, M., & Kelley, D.M. (2006). Popular Media, Education, and Resistance. Canadian Journal of Education, 29(1), 5-26.
As an educator is it important that we pique the interest of our students. It is becoming more and more difficult to do this, as our classrooms are becoming more and more diverse. Classrooms are filled with many different, ethnicities, cultures, and races. In last weeks reading by Ernest Morell, he states that, “determining how to connect in significant ways across multiple lines of difference may be the greatest challenge facing teachers today” (Morrell, 2002). We can begin to face these challenges by bringing fun, interesting and relatable content into the classroom. Teachers must provide interesting and relatable content into the classroom, in order for their students to be engaged. It can also allow the student to think critically and relate school topics to the world they live in.
The article is about a teacher who brought in Hip-hop music and culture related content into the classroom that was centered on the students lives. This Morell adds, “transcended the racial divide and allowed us to tap into students’ lives in ways that promoted academic literacy and critical consciousness” (Morrell, 2002). They used Hip-hop texts to scaffold literary terms and concepts (plots, motifs, character development, metaphor etc.), while also raising critical consciousness in people who have been oppressed. The students in the article were very engaged in the Hip-hop lessons as the unit was very relatable to them. Morell states that “Hip-hop can be used as a bridge linking the seemingly vast span between the streets and the world of academics.” We as teachers need to educate our students not just within the classroom to be good students, but to be good citizens. Bringing ideas of the world around them into the classroom is a step in the right direction.
CRITICAL MEDIA ANALYSIS:
Video games are often designed and marketed to one specific gender. Varney states that “toys carry such different fantasies for each gender ensures separate dreams, separate expectations, and quite different self-identities” (Varney, 2002). While it is true that most toys are gender specific, one major video game is beginning to change this gender distinction: EA Sports’ FIFA 18.
Video game and soccer enthusiasts from both genders have reasons to celebrate this game. Both genders can be engaged into this new game, as both genders are represented. Long a male-centred video game, FIFA 18 has introduced ways where females participate. FIFA 16 was the first major sports game to have both a male and female on the cover, as well as introducing twelve women’s national teams.
During their announcement and “kickoff” of the new videogame at a conference a few years ago, EA management were proud to release the new game as a more equitable experience. Yet they did not clearly explain the reason for the new change. I can deduce two reasons though. First, as reviewer Colin Campbell explains, it has just been a long time coming:
“EA’s omission of women players has been a controversial decision for some time, particularly given the rapid growth in popularity in the women's game and the large number of women playing video games like FIFA” (Campbell, Polygon, 2015).
I believe a second reason for the change came due to certain groups and individuals “rising up” and asking EA to show more balanced representation of both sexes.
Campbell's article states that, “In 2012 a Change.org petition asked EA to consider adding women players and teams. ‘Young girls can be portrayed by male videogame characters. We want them to be able to see themselves in the games they love, as the soccer players that inspire them." Groups such as Change.org are the new resistance towards inequality in media. Stack and Kelly state that there is a change in the way consumers react to inequality by some companies and establishments. They claim that “many everyday acts of resistance go unnoticed and unreported by mainstream media” (Stack & Kelly, pg 11, 2006).
Furthermore, they state that many consumers and groups revolt against the discrimination of many products: “Although the mainstream media and education systems are key institutions that perpetuate various social inequalities, spaces exist—both within and beyond these institutions— where adults and youth resist dominant, damaging representations and improvise new images” (Stack & Kelly, p.12, 2006).
FIFA 17 created a story mode called “The Journey.” It follows the career of fictional character Alex Hunter, a black male from the United Kingdom. The new FIFA 18, in addition to Alex Hunter’s story, has revealed his half sister, Kim Hunter who plays for the US Women’s National Team. The story mode allows the user to play as Kim.
Karen Wohlwend claims that children identify with merchandise that have gender identities that “communicate gendered expectations about what children should buy, how they should play, and who they should be” (Wohlwend, 2009). Although this game has elements of women’s soccer into the game, it is still not fully incorporated.
EA Sports’ next step should be to add a few women’s clubs in addition to the national teams. One of the FIFA 18 trailers show males and females playing the game, as well as practicing some of the moves they see in the game. However one of the opening scenes and closing scenes of the trailer shows two boys playing the game while the girl is sitting on a chair watching them play. This goes to show that although EA Sports’ FIFA is trying to incorporate women into the game, it is still male dominated. It is up to educators to continue to provide critically thinking among youth, and allow them to acknowledge that they have a voice when it comes to making changes in products that they buy or consume.
Campbell, Colin. (2015). Polygon. Finally, EA Sports' FIFA games will feature women players.
Stack, M., & Kelly, D. M. (2006). Popular Media, education, and resistance. Canadian Journal of Education, 29(1), 5-26.
Varney, Wendy (2002). Of Men and Machines: Images of Masculinity in Boys’ Toys. Feminist Studies, 28, 1 p. 153-174.
Wohlwend, Karen E. (2009). Damsels in Discourse: Girls Consuming and Producing Identity Texts through Disney Princess Play. Reading Research Quarterly, 44, 1, p. 57-83.
In Jordan McClain’s journal, A Framework for Using Popular Music Videos to Teach Media Literacy, he offers educators a way in which they can effectively incorporate music videos into their media literacy lessons. He provides educators with an outline of how to run the lesson, and lists key questions to present in order for students to think critically and have a constructive class discussion. McClain states that using music videos for media literacy is a fun and creative way to keep students engaged and broadening their views of issues around the world. McClain also suggests it is important to prepare before you introduce music videos into your lessons, from checking if you can play it in the class loud and clear to doing some background knowledge on the song, video and artist. It is important when choosing music videos, that not only are they appropriate but also relevant to your students and community. He believes that it is a quick and easy way to get a message across to students as opposed to long films.
The music video I chose is “Same Love” by Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert. The song is about how gay and lesbian couples should be treated as equals, and on a greater scale that all love is the same. The music video was produced and directed by Ryan Lewis, Jon Jon Augustavo and Tricia Davis (Macklemore’s wife) in support of gay marriage and stars many LGBTQ individuals. Although it is a music video it has many elements that make it more of a short film (credits, special thanks etc.). The video primarily focuses on the two men (a light-skinned male and a white male) from childhood to adulthood, and shows their love for one another. The first few lines in his song he admits when he was in the “When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay, because I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.” It continues by saying how he cried to his mom as she reassured him that he has loved girls since before pre-kindergarten. He adds that it was the stereotypes in his head that made him think this way. In his second verse he says that if he was gay he would think hip-hop hates him because how often people use the terms “gay” and “faggot” get “dropped on the daily,” by artists in their songs and people commenting on YouTube videos. Of course an educator would have to understand who his or her audience is before showing the video, as it has mature themes, and also questions religion. Macklemore has many more power lines that implies his support of gay and lesbian rights in his lyrics with his most explicit being “No freedom ‘til we’re equal, damn right I support it.”
This music video is a great example an educator can share with his or her students when discussing not only LGBTQ equality but equality in general. The song is far more than a support for gay and lesbian marriage.