The old bag.

March 20, 2009 at 10:07 pm (Media and Society) (, )

So as my last and final blog of the year, I will be writing about a very interesting and enthralling topic that is totally “in” right now, and that’s women in media, but more specifically, mature women in media. By mature I do not mean are responsible young ladies, but are old in the eyes of our society. In a world where perfection and youth are dominating our ideas of beauty, this topic is prevalent and current. 

So in what way do media portray women? Well, in the case of young girls, they are surrounded by images of female beauty that are unrealistic and unattainable.  Having role models that are the exact representation of what we consider perfection can make growing up tough because these same role models are non existent and unreal. This can and will have serious and wild impacts on young girls’ self-esteem and confidence. Which is totally screwed up. Those years are when we are the most vulnerable and easily influenced. I remember being 14 and knowing deep in my heart of hearts that I was not pretty, not the way I was suppose to be. I had zits, I was pick, I was as flat as a board, I had fuzzy matted hair, and I was awkward as hell. But really, so were most girls. But as I walked by the magazine stands, it always reminded me that I did not quite look right. To say that I had low self esteem was an understatement! I had NO self esteem, not when it came to my looks, and most of my other friends felt the same way as I did. And that as well is screwed up. We see it as normal and a part of growing up, but does it have to be??? Do girls have to spend hours staring at themselves in their mirror wishing they were Miley Cyrus to have had a proper teenage hood? I don’t think so. I was lucky. I played soccer and my confidence grew from there. However, not all girls have the support to help them grow up and become confident young ladies.

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Once we’ve gone past the awkward age, we get to live it up for a few years, until of course, we are considered old. It is lovely being a woman. So once we’ve gone past the cute and young age, which I think ends at about twenty five, we have the pleasure of being barraged and attacked by the media reminding us that we better get ready, because we are about to get ugly. Wrinkles? Absolutely. Grey hair? Oh yes! Saggy breasts? Yes please. And we also have the pleasure to be portrayed as either a) desperate and in love or b) bitter ex-wife in television and in movies. Beauty ads reminding us of all the expensive and invasive procedures and products that stop the aging process (probably the most natural and beautiful process) bombard us everyday in magazines, television, and billboards. I remember my Lebanese grandmother being the most beautiful woman I knew. Her dark leathery skin seemed permanently warm from the hot Middle Eastern sun. Her long dark tied up in a elegant bun, and her beautiful wrinkles that were evidence of her sweet and soft personality made her exceptional. I think that aging is incredible and I hope that we one day understand that.

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Youth and Facebook

March 20, 2009 at 3:34 pm (Technology in the classroom) (, )

As a teacher, I feel that it is my job to encourage students to become active citizens in our society. I will use my class to promote civic engagement and social justice to teach the youth of our future to be politically, culturally, and publicly aware of what is going on in our world.  These days, with the Internet and all the different media, there are so many outlets for students to use to talk about how they feel and what they want to change. According to the article, the author discusses the popularity of participatory media, but the lack of social engagement from these same teens.  How are we, as teachers, supposed to promote using media to encourage social justice?

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Right now, teens are using participatory media prevalently. Participatory media is defined as media such as blogs, wikis, social networking, podcasts, digital self-portraits,  mashups, video blogs, etc. These media are unique because they are often public on the Internet, and can be shared by many users. In addition, participatory media has the characteristic of uniting and relying on users. Participatory media is important because it allows children to express their ideas using an outlet that can be shared with their peers and youth all around the world.  It enables teens to connect with other users and share their ideas. Participatory media should be used as means to promote social change due to its large repertoire of users.

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So this raises the question: How do we teach teens and youth to use media to be proactive and promote social justice? I think that once we implement so much meaning and weight to something, it automatically turns kids off. In other words, once we make blogging and writing wikis assignments, it takes away from the freedom and looseness that is commonly associated with these participatory media. Once students feel the pressure to produce something that needs to be something in content, they might be discouraged and unmotivated.  I think that it is crucial to encourage students to be critical thinkers, however allow them to do it on their own time and conditions.

Throughout the years, the youth have been mega influential when it comes to changing things and raising awareness. If we look at the recent elections in the U.S. and the effects of the hype and propaganda that was create by the younger generations, we can see how significant youth influence is. Now, we have to learn how to make these same kids channel their influence and power in a positive and monumental way. The kids need to stand up for what they believe in and we have to make them passionate about more than just perezhilton.com or Britney Spears’ latest debauchery. Using the youth power through media to spread positive messages about social justice is the ideal way to use participatory media. Now it is up to us as teachers to make them passionate about and politically aware!

 

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Another bloggy blog blog

March 12, 2009 at 9:56 pm (Technology in the classroom) (, )

Social networking is a tough thing for me to stomach. Although I am an avid user of it and have been for several years, there is a time and place for it. What I mean by this is that social networking, is not, and I repeat, NOT for everybody, and to think it is totally unrealistic. Okay, maybe that sounds harsh.  Social networking is for people…hmmmm…how can I put this delicately, that are mature enough to limit and control the content used and observed. I don’t think that this can be monitored by age, because I think there are FAR too many twenty something’s that use social networking in a negative and harmful way. But it is the way nature runs its course, that, as you get older, you often mature.

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After having read Danah Boyd’s article about social networking and youth, I thought about what she had to say about the public’s view of this recent phenomenon and how this affects youth and our society. Not matter what article I read and how many lectures I attend, I do not buy the whole social networking thing for kids. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of using technology to teach and having the children use technology to learn. I think it is mega valuable in our education system. I am also no dinosaur, in fact, I might be seen as a total hipster, however I have a real hard time seeing the value in having 12 year olds on facebook. Now I’ve always been a bit old school about certain things, but I think that kids, sometimes just have to be kids. And social networking is not a way to be a kid. I think using these sites and outlets are an interesting way to share yourself with other people, and to learn about these same friends. I think the fact that you can choose what people see is a feature that was meant to be used by mature individuals, not some hormone-crazed 13 year old.

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Do you remember being 13 and not being allowed to watch PG16 movie? I remember it not making much sense to me back then. What difference does it make, I thought? I could probably just rent it when it came out if I reaaaaallly wanted to watch it. The fact is that, most of the time I did not wanna watch it once it came out. In other words, that stupid PG16 worked. I remember being 16 and desperately wanting my eyebrow pierced cause I was cool like that, but I needed my parent’s signature and I knew I would never get it. I could have easily forged it, but instead I decided I would 2 years and guess what? I never got a piercing. Partly because I am now deathly paranoid about piercing shops, but also because they discouraged me to do something potentially stupid when I was at my most influenceable and vulnerable age. I feel that social networking sites should do the same. Force kids to get their parents consent. The fittest will find a way to do it, but I think many will decide it’s not worth the effort and will grab a soccer ball and go play outside. 

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I love Smartboards.

February 24, 2009 at 7:26 pm (Technology in the classroom) (, )

Last Thursday, I was asked to substitute teach in a second grade classroom.  I knew the teacher and children pretty well and felt that this would an easy day. After seeing the plan left by the actual teacher, I quickly realized that this would be a REALLY easy day for me. Why you may ask? Because this specific teacher is a techno-freak and integrates technology whenever and as often as she can, thus this made my job as the fill-in teacher easy-peasy.  Almost every activity throughout the day was accompanied by some sort of technology. And because the students were so accustomed to  this type of learning, it wasn’t difficult to run the activities. For the first hour of the day, I was to set up centers, including activities on the Smartboard, a listening station, and computers. As I supervised the activities, I watched students work on the Smartboard together with total ease and comfort, use the listening station without any problems, needless, play happily on the computers. Several arguments that surround technology are based on the fact that the set up, planning and management when using technology doesn’t make it worth it. However, in this classroom, the students are so accustomed to the routine that it was probably easier than setting up a paper activity. They knew the centers and how to use them, and when the Smartboard was causing some technological difficulties, also gave me some friendly and effective advice on how to fix it. These students were in SECOND grade and were so on track with technology, they would probably put most students in our faculty to shame…but not me of course 😉 I guess my point is, that if you implement technology in the right way, it can be extremely successful for both the students and the teacher.

 In our readings this week, they discuss exactly that. In chapter 5, the author suggests different approaches some administrations should take when introducing technology in schools and in classrooms.  One approach that is discussed in great detail is the ecological approach to technology. In this approach, media ecology is explained as how media and technology affects our environment, and which technologies have greater impacts and why. I find this particularly interesting because this idea plays with the theory that certain technologies have bigger impacts on us, such as social networking.

If we decided to integrate social networking in education, it is imperative that teachers and the administration are aware of the effects of this media on the children’s environment.

Because as per the readings, certain media can have negative effects on the users. In addition, the readings also discuss the importance of professional development in education. Referring to my experience subbing in that grade 2 class, this was an example of a teacher that decided to develop herself professionally to improve the teaching and learning in her classroom. By taking workshops and doing work at home, this teacher improved her computer skills and established a classroom where technology plays a vital role in the curriculum. 

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Techno-Friendly Chapter 3

February 24, 2009 at 3:56 pm (Technology in the classroom) (, )

I find the issue of technology in schools an interesting battle. I spent three in a half months in an elementary school doing my field experience, and I can’t tell you how many times the issue of technology came up in discussions, staff meetings and workshops. I find it’s a love/hate relationship most of the time, and it could bring out the best in and worst in teachers. During staff meetings, you could almost see the burning line drawn between the teachers that got technology and those that didn’t. And even though the staff got along great, when technology was the issue, the

tension would build. Being totally technologically friendly, I found this divide

hilarious. And it wasn’t even as clear as old school and new school

teachers. Some teachers were pushing retirement and were teaching me new tricks for the smartboard, while some brand new teachers were refusing the idea of smartboards in their classrooms.

 

 

In the reading, the author discusses the stages of pedagogical development and the hierarchy of needs, better described by Abraham Maslow. In this pyramid, the teaching and learning of technology can be described in different stages. Maslow describes these stages starting from the top of the pyramid, as cultural transformation, collaboration, authoring and lastly, content management. As a student in university, I use these stages in my everyday life; however, the idea of reproducing all of these stages in an elementary classroom seems like a challenge. More and more classrooms are being pushed towards technology, and just recently, the Lester B. Pearson school board has set up a instant messaging system with parents. This all seems like a wonderful theory, however how are the schools supposed to sell these ideas, if the staff doesn’t buy them. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I can’t see that this huge technological push from the school boards is going to be effective in the classrooms if teachers are not comfortable with technology. Even at McGill, in the Education faculty, there are teachers that are not comfortable with technology and choose not to use it.


 

So this makes me wonder: What is it about technology that makes seasoned and quality teachers refute even the mention of online discussion boards and what can be done (if anything at all) to encourage these same teachers to use technology in the classroom? Of course there are workshops and guest speakers that come in and talk about all the great things you can do with it, but instead of encouraging non-users, they often end up by just intimidating these same teachers. In chapter 3, the author discusses all the wonder of the web and how it can be translated in the classroom, however I don’t feel it is as wonderful if the teachers are nervous and apprehensive to use technology. Also, we can’t expect teachers to want to use technology if they can’t see the advantages and benefits. We need to show these same teachers what can be done that is useful to them instead of just giving them all these tools that they don’t even see as useful. Well, that’s my two cents on technology. 


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Chomsky’s the Cheese.

February 6, 2009 at 8:00 pm (Reading Response Blogs) (, )

Noam ChomskyIn my three years of Education at McGill, these two readings may have been the most interesting and insightful readings I’ve done. Any student who has done their Bachelor of Education at McGill has read or heard of Noam Chomsky and his anarchist-ish theories on politics. Not only is he a genius in the field of linguistics, he is also very involved in social justice and world politics. To be quite honest, I think Mr. Chomsky is the cheese. His theories in linguistics and his leftist political stands are enlightening in a time where saying what he often says is oh-so taboo.

So now that I have finished my biased appraisal of Noam Chomsky, I will start off by discussing how I feel about the readings from Chapter 7. Although this chapter was short, I felt as though I learned so much from it. Each sentence was more interesting and informative than the last. I felt so involved and in touch with the readings, I even had to stop and call my father to discuss a particular passage from the readings. After having read about the American involvement in the Lebanese Civil War, it struck a cord. I had always heard from my father the details about the war, but I had never suspected such huge American involvement. My dad and I had a good chat about what happened in Lebanon during those years and the American involvement in other wars. It’s no secret that the latest war in Iraq was backed with an economic and imperial agenda; however, I hadn’t known the extent in other wars. The article informed me of the strong U.S. pull to convince the world that the Arabs were/are public enemy #1 not only this time around, but almost 20 years ago as well. The issues discussed are so real and relevant; it felt wonderful to be reading about this for a class.

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Dr.Kincheloe’s article in chapter 6 was also incredibly motivating. His discussion about the U.S’ motivations in all the wars was fascinating to learn about. I was shocked to read about the American involvement in South America and the consequences stemming from these actions. This article made me reflect on the American trend. Every few decades there’s a new country to hate and to be afraid of. The Americans use media to infuse fear and hatred towards other countries, depending of the political gain. Starting after the civil rights movement, being Japanese was the new Black. Then being Russian, was the new Japanese. And now, being an Arab is exactly what you do not want to be. Regardless of your religion, of your ethnicity, or of your political view, if you enjoy hummus, you are a terrorist and the devil. Which is precisely what the American government wanted pre-911.


These articles make me wonder about the present American state. Although I am a huge Obama supporter, I can’t help but think about Kincheloe’s imperial puzzle. Now that Obama is in power and that the neo-conservatism is out, eventually the American “imperial mentality” will die. Will the new government need to re-establish this mentality at some point? I’m not sure if I’m making any sense, but I will leave it at that for now.

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Blog numero uno.

January 16, 2009 at 3:55 pm (Technology in the classroom)

This is my first of many blogs:) This video is wonderful and hilarious. Watch as many times as you deem necessary.

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