When John F. Kennedy was on the campaign trail, he was fond of pointing out that the Chinese symbol for crisis is a combination of the words for danger and opportunity. In reflecting on the coronavirus crisis and its impact of American public education, let’s first honor the flood of complicated feelings that educators themselves are experiencing and perhaps feeling overwhelmed by: fear, sadness, anger, helplessness, distractibility, and most of all, uncertainty.
In juggling family needs and work expectations, everyone is feeling the anxiety that comes from a most unusual emergency. Nothing is the same as it was. Our relationships with family, friends, co-workers and students have all been disrupted by the self-isolation that is occurring around the country and around the world. The climbing infection and death rates can’t help but make everyone more than a little edgy, depressed, and fearful. As many states move public education online, there’s never been a greater learning curve for educators and school leaders who now must embrace a full-fledged focus on online learning.
Continue reading “Teaching Online During a Crisis: Danger and Opportunity Ahead”
English educators are generally familiar with the topic of propaganda, as it is a theme of much of the literature that is emphasized in courses for high school and college students. For many teachers, it may seem as if dystopian young adult novels have become the default genre of a generation. Dystopian literature like Huxley’s Brave New World and other works critique mindless consumption, instant gratification, reliance on technology, and the resulting atrophy of language and critical thinking. When reading this novel, one teacher asks her students to reflect on these questions: “Is life easy for us today? Is it too easy? How do people escape from everyday life? Is it necessary to do so? Why or why not?” (Wilkinson, 2010, p. 24).
Anderson’s young adult novel, Feed is
a popular work that considers the ubiquitous nature of advertising as
propaganda. The novel uses satire, humor, and exaggeration to depict the world
of the future, where the Internet is implanted into your brain as the Feed. As
people grow up, their brains cannot function without the Feed. They attend a classroom run by corporations where
students learn how to use technology, find bargains and decorate a bedroom. Through
education, in this dystopic world, students are trained to be consumers.
Continue reading “Media Literacy: Argument, Persuasion, and Propaganda in English Education”