Sunday, February 24, 2013

TED Talk: Wesch (Argument)

Honestly, reading the article "From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able" by Wesch gave me anxiety because it made me think about how technology has drastically changed society in the past 20 years. Wesch talks about how the focus of education in high school and college has to change in accordance with modern technology. He argues that the way young adults are taught how to think is flawed and a completely different skill set needs to be in place for aspiring scholars to be successful.

This is how I used to communicate with peers in the early 2000's. (Unless my brother was using the phone) ~Better think of a kewl away message!!! ;-*~

I chose to watch Wesch's TED Talk instead of read the full article (I skimmed it...) but he starts out with showing us a photograph of his classroom at Kentucky State University and pointing out how distracted they all look with their laptops in front of them. He points out that the way students ask questions gives insight into the way they are learning. The questions he says are the most shocking are "How long does this essay have to be?", "What will be included on this test?" amongst others. Students are learning to temporarily retain information for purposes that don't produce any significant results. Yeah, you got an A on your Psychology exam, but what does that matter if the world is on fire?

OMG school is sooooo BORING!

Wesch says that media are not just tools, but means of communication. Media mediates our relationships, how we connect to one another and how our relationships are constantly changing. Friendships are made through a mutual recognition of certain types of media. Families come together to sit in front of the TV for their favorite show. Sisters get mad at their brothers for stealing the remote and won't talk to them for days. In his TED Talk, Wesch pulls quotes from Neil Postman, an American author, media theorist and cultural critic. Postman described media (in 1985) as a one-way conversation. These one-way conversations are designed by few and created for the masses. 30 second commercials are approved by corporations and intended to be relatable to the entire country (ex. Victoria's Secret commercials. WHO ACTUALLY LOOKS AND THINKS LIKE THAT?!) Postman also points out that in America, to be on television is to be significant. Wesch compared the same photo of his classroom to a photo of a huge group of young people outside of American Idol auditions.


Wesch also says that college students are meaning-seekers. To be meaning-seekers, you have to be a follower. Follow the professor who tells you how to think, what to know and what to do. College-age students are typically at a point in their lives where they are attempting to find their identity and sense of belonging in the world, but if we are just teaching them to be followers, what are we accomplishing? Media can be damaging.

Wesch then dives into a segment where he gives examples of large-scale, global and social movements which have taken place through media. The Free Hugs Campaign was one that he used in which one dude who put a video of him hugging strangers at an airport launched this international chain of YouTube videos of other people doing the same thing. He also pointed out how media can backfire. The Dove commercial that he showed had backlash when an environmental activist made a parody of Dove's commercial illustrating deforestation/poverty/turmoil that Dove creates when harvesting palm oil for their products. Subsequently, Dove met with this activist and signed some deforestation agreement. Media is powerful. 

In the end, Wesch says that to utilize this media-derived skill set is technologically ridiculously EASY, but to do it in a classroom is ridiculously HARD to do. He says that we need to embrace real problems through media tools. But how can we change higher education in order to do so when teaching strategies in college involve memorization, scantrons and 100 dollar textbooks that are never opened? Twitter won't solve it. Facebook won't solve it. YouTube won't solve it. I'm beginning to think that we are in the midst of a revolution, hence the anxiety.

Here are a few first world problems:

In the next class I'd like to talk about what changes people think will be made in the future to incorporate the media in the higher education system. Does changing the "system" provoke changing the world at large? How can the higher education system change when it is so stuck in its ways? Isn't it selfish to think that because students have IPhones and Macbooks, we have to suddenly throw out the "old-school" way of learning and adapt to the future? WHAT ABOUT THE POOR KIDS?! They certainly can't afford to have this shit. Will they be weeded out in a survival of the fittest kind of way?

Don't let the man get you down. Peace.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager (QUOTES)

This article by Hine describes the teenager as a social construction. Historically, teenagers have been treated as this "alien life form" that is SO much different than adults and SO much different than children. Hine describes the phenomenon of teenage drug use, sexual relations, juvenile crime and many other rebellious behaviors that teenagers engage in due to their social environment and treatment received by adults. Here are three quotes that I particularly liked in the reading:

1.)  Page 8: "If you take a romantic view, young people "fall" in another way; They grow up. They cut their hair (or remove their tattoos), give up on their youthful idealism and fade into the grey mass of adult society. Still, another notion of the "fall" is implicit in the fears and complaints that adults have about young people - especially now that teen-bashing is such a popular bipartisan activity." 

- This quote,  in the opening few paragraphs, explains the notion of the teenage "fall". When the teenage clock runs out, teenagers automatically have to shed their youthful mentalities and become a jaded, pessimistic, realistic adult. Magically. Adults complain about teenagers, in what Hine refers to as "teen-bashing" which makes sense because teenagers are seen as inferior due to the fact that they're just young enough to still be dependent on their parents.

It's TOTALLY just a phase!

2.) Page 14: "By giving birth at the prom, the young woman had violated the old-fashioned meaning of the prom as a celebration of the end of a protected, almost childish mode of existence. But her act also undermined the more recent tendency of young people to use the event as an aggressive assertion of maturity. She proved herself physically capable of bearing a child, but not mentally, emotionally or morally mature enough to handle it. She had, in a word, shown herself to be a teenager."

-This quote described the 1997 incident of the teenage girl giving birth at her school's prom and leaving the baby in a trashcan afterwards. Teenagers are seen as these people who aren't old enough to be adults, but can demonstrate adult behavior like bearing a child. Society knows this, but they also see teenagers as inferior (morally, emotionally and mentally) therefore they get treated as so. This news story blew up the headlines (I remember it and I was 7years old at the time) and became a national example of what a teenager is. Sad, right?

Look at these two hotties at the prom!! Looking good!

3.) Page 17: "Teenagers spend much of their lives dealing with people who don't know them as individuals, and under the control of institutions that strive to deal with people uniformly."

-This is a short quote, but I liked it because I think that everyone can relate to the part about uniform institutions. High schools push for all students to achieve the same, dress the same, act the same and hang out together and have a WONDERFUL time. This, simply is not true. High schools are diverse, filled with gay kids, straight kids, artists, musicians, athletes, math-letes and so on. Uniformity makes the adult world comfortable in a society that is very worried about the future. Teenagers are our future. We need to treat them nicer. Don't H8.

In the next class I'd like to talk about why Hine thinks that teenagers are social constructions. Are there examples in the media vs. examples in real life that connect? How does this relate to the teenage thought process & experience? Let's chit chat on Tuesday.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rebecca C. Raby: A Tangle of Discourses: Girls Negotiating Adolescence (Reflection)

This article by Rebecca C. Raby really provoked a lot of repressed memories of my own teenage experiences. Although I was a teenager a mere 4 years ago, the experiences and changes I went through are still vivid. I really enjoyed this article even though it was somewhat dense and seemingly difficult to decipher. Raby breaks down the adolescent experience into five categories: the storm, becoming, at-risk, social problem, and pleasure consumption. For each of these categories, I've chosen to draw on a specific teenage experience that I've had and relate it to the text. Here it goes...

1.) The storm: Raby refers to the storm as the turbulent, risk-taking and experimental angst of teens. I feel as though teenagers sometimes feel angsty because of the constant want to resist parental and authoritative control because they're "not kids anymore". When I was about 15, I used to sneak out of my house to go down to the skate park and smoke pot with the older kids. I lied about my age so that the 19-20 year olds would think I was cool enough to hang out with them. These behaviors were risk-taking because I would walk 1 mile in the dark by myself with no cell phone, actively trying to avoid repercussions from my strict father. I look back on this and think it was absolutely ridiculous that I did these rebellious things, but at the time I thought it was a way to resist control and be an adult. Because that's what all the adults do.

 ^ This is where I did all my teenage pot smoking. All the older skateboard guys hung out there. Those are hard to find in Milford, NH.

2.) Becoming: Raby refers to becoming as a way of finding one's identity and a process of self-discovery. I went through many different phases in high school. My never-ending evolution of facial piercings, tattoos and morphing hair colors has never ceased to exist, but as a teenager it was in full force. I went from preppy to  "scene-queen" to crust punk, to punk hippie to classy alternative and back to crust punk and so forth. I never seemed to care what anybody thought of my style or hair colors, I just bought what I liked and everybody would have to accept it. I always thought of myself as "different" and god knows I got made fun of by the popular kids, but I looked awesome. Self-discovery.

 ^ I had this haircut for a while

3.) At-Risk: Raby refers to at-risk as the inevitable factors that teens are vulnerable to that lead to experimentation with "drugs and alcohol, depression, eating disorders and sexually transmitted diseases." This seems like the category in which I can mostly relate to in my teenage years. I was an avid show-goer. I was one of the first of my friends to get my license and we would drive hours to go see punk shows in Boston after telling our parents we're going to the mall. We stole beer from people, snuck outside to smoke pot and spent our time meeting up with boys from Myspace at shows who we had never met before in person. These are extremely risk-taking behaviors, but we were merely experimenting with things we had never done in our younger years.

Secret party at the sweatshop warehouse tonight!!!!! YEAH!

4.) Social Problem: Raby refers to social problem as society and guardians viewing teens and teens problems as a burden. As a young punk rocker, I got all sorts of shit from adults. My teachers thought I was suicidal and/or a drug addict and would send me to the guidance counselor for assessments every few weeks. My father wanted to send me to boarding school. The cops were always trying to set me straight by arresting me for no reason. (They definitely had their reasons, though). It seems that a lot of adults see teenagers as inconveniences and treat them as so.
I Googled "teenagers are annoying" and this is what came up.

5.) Pleasure Consumption: Raby refers to pleasure consumption as the strong force of the media pushing teenagers to buy certain clothes, look a certain way and stay very close to the "social norm". To put it simply, teenagers want what's advertised to them in magazines, commercials and through other forms of media like television shows. I remember looking around my classroom and seeing a vast sea of Ugg boots and North Face fleeces. And Victoria Secret pants. Ugh. I used to call my classmates "cookie-cutter people" because it seemed that whenever a new product came out, they all flocked like sheep to Abercrombie to buy it. I thought of myself as "cooler" than them and I did most of my shopping from online independent t-shirt companies. I also made all of my own clothes (I had a SICK sewing machine.)
OMG they all look the same and they look SO happy! Look at the alternative one on the right.. she doesn't look THAT alternative and look how happy she is!!!

In the next class I'd like to discuss what everybody elses experiences were with Raby's five categories of teenage life. Everybody comes from different backgrounds and no two teenage experiences are the same so I'd really like to hear how everybody else relates to this article.

Watch this My Chemical Romance music video for their song "Teenagers". Look at all the stereotypes!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us (QUOTES)

This article by Christensen was very thought-provoking and it made me open my eyes to the realities of how young children are instructed how to think through popular culture. I chose to write this blog about quotes because I very much enjoyed Christensen’s writing style and I feel like she worded her arguments beautifully. One quote I especially liked was on page 128 and it reads, “Although these stories are supposed to merely entertain us, they constantly give us a secret education. We are not only taught certain types of violence, the latest fashions, and sex roles by TV, movies, magazines and comic strips; we are also taught how to succeed, how to love, how to buy, how to conquer, how to forget the past and suppress the future. We are taught, more than anything else, how not to rebel.” It’s so important in society to stay close to the social norms. Any woman who has tattoos is instantly a drug addict, alcoholic, slut or delinquent. Media teaches us how we “should” be as men and women. God forbid we fall into any other category. Media dictates our daily thoughts, activities, sexual preferences, eating habits and self-esteem. At such a young, vulnerable age, children have these messages drilled into their heads and become the adults who make up society at large.

This is an example of a beautiful tattooed woman:

This is how society views tattooed women:

Another quote I liked was on page 133 when Christensen was talking about Disney princesses and it reads, “Happiness means getting a man, and transforming from wretched conditions can be achieved through consumption – in their case, through new clothes and a new hairstyle.” This quote makes me think of the phenomena called “retail therapy” where women are empirically shown to be happier after shopping sprees. Is it biological or socially constructed? You decide.

This is a before and after makeover photo. Look how happy she is now!!!! 
I thought she was prettier before... Where did her tattoo go?!

Cartoons and movies are definitely not as sexist and racist as they were 50 years ago, but they also still are. Racism and sexism still exists in popular media, but in recent years it has become much more subtle. 50 years ago, discrimination and prejudice were much more blatant. The last quote pertaining to this is on page 127 and it reads, “Young people, unprotected by any intellectual armor, hear or watch these stories again and again, often from the warmth of their mother’s or father’s lap. The messages, or “secret education” linked with the security of their homes, underscore the power these texts deliver.” In psychology, we learn about positive reinforcement. If a stimulus (racist cartoons) is associated with another stimulus (mommy’s loving, eating cookies, warm home), the association becomes strong and is difficult to reverse. So after this becomes accepted knowledge, the child will continue to live with the idea that racist cartoons = good. This happens with anything within the media. What can we do about it?

In the next class I’d like to discuss gendered, racist children’s toys and the effects that these have on childhood experiences. How do they make children socialize differently?

Even children's CANDY is gendered. Blurg.