Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What kind of message our kids are getting in television series about school?

Did you watch some television series about school? Do you remember the one you were watching as a kid?
Let's speak about some that are considered as the best one or/and the most successful one.

The Wonder years (1988-1993)
This serie set in the 1960s narrated the adventures through middle-school and high-school of Kevin Arnold.
Let's give a close look at the first episode.

Kevin arrives in Middle-school and you already have there all the stereotypes. What are the center of interest of middle-schooler?

Kevin first thinking on the first day of school is "what am I going to wear?"
The second subject of interest is girls! Already on both side, boys and girls are really concerned by the way they look and the way others look at them.

The third point of concern are the teachers, the supervisors and with them, rules and authority.

The key scene in this first episode is when Kevin and his friend arrive in the cafeteria, here is what the voice of grown-up Kevin is saying "a suburban junior high school cafeteria is like a microcosms of the world, the goal is to protect yourself, and safety comes in group.You have the cool kids, you have the smart kids, you have the greasers, and on those days of course you had the hippies. In effect is that in junior high-school who you are is define less by who you are than by who is the person sitting next to you."

As you can see, at no moment we hear about the interest in learning, the quality of the teacher and how much this would concern the student. So in this first episode the "rule" set that individual  would be defined not through what he thinks, what his opinion and interest may be but by with who he is hanging out.
So if we believe what we are seeing there, middle-schooler have little interest in learning, they are rather so concern by their image that they do not hesitate to get in trouble just to preserve it. Kevin act in a very disrespectful way just by getting angry at his older brother and his parents are called in the principal office.

Another older show is "Degrassi Junior high"
In the first episode,Stephanie asks her young brother, Arthur, to pretend that he does not know her! why? because it does not look cool to have a young brother and as a 8 grader she needs to look cool. She also changes clothes as soon as she gets in the school, from a long skirt and blouse outfit to a very provocative and rather sexy look without forgetting to put make-up.
Arthur get already teased by a 8 grader boy, a player who want to lead.
Stephanie do not hesitate to betray her best friend  and manipulate all the boys in order to be elected as school president.

Ones again, the social interaction and the appearance are the main subject of the show. The interest of studying have no place at all in those series. We are far from inspirational movies like "Dead poet society".

In the series "Popular" it was mean girls acts who were somewhat glorified. Basically you had on one side the popular kids and on the other side the unpopular one and stories which make you think that student were more interested by battling each other than studying.

Did you ever check out the "Monster High" series?
This is an animated serie extremely popular with a huge merchandising success. But what are the value carried there?
Well, ones again, appearance is at the center of interest of the students who are totally superficial. The rivalry between those girl is atrocious and can be totally depressing to any girls watching it. The standard seems to concentrate on having a group of so-called friends who will fight with you for the same goal which always cause suffering in others. Friendship is totally twisted there.

I believe that it is time for parents to look closely to those teen series and not only speak about them with their kids but also let producers know what type of message they would appreciate to see in them.
Teenage and college are already a difficult time as puberty strike and society became more and more materialistic, selfcenter and egoistic. Role model on television does encourage teenager in a totally superficial direction which is source of anxiety and agressivity.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

great program, step 3: second grade.

It is interesting to speak about the Brighton film school with Georges Albert Smith and James Williamson and to show some of their shorts: 
As seen through a telescope, with probably the first close-up of the cinema.
Grandma's reading glasses for more close-up and make the student talk about the use of this type of plan with question like why do he use this close-up for? What does he want to say?

Then we will show the student the film by James Williamson "the big swallow" and make them remark the size of each shot as the gentleman is walking toward the camera. Williamson's use of action continuity across multiple shots established the basic grammar of film.
From there, it will be nice to have them do a collage where they will actually identified the size of the plans.

Then we will continue in the Silent film era with Max Linder.

Max Linder, Gabriel-Maximilien Leuvielle, is the first comedian and first international Movie star. He was Charles Chaplin Mentor. In fact Chaplin got not only inspired by Max Linder but he even copy him in many ways which become obvious when watching Max Linder movies.

This is the silent film Era and there is not so many movies of Max Linder who survived all those years. It will be nice to show as many of those Max Linder to the children as it may be the only occasion for many of them to see them.
They will be able later to recognize what Chaplin copy from Max Linder.

We will show the student some Chaplin Movies as well as some Buster Keaton Movies from the silent Era.

it would be interesting to set up a few little silent comedies for them to play and to videotape.