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.

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