Monday, April 30, 2012

Mesages sent to children, and the cruelty of kids...

Back to Siobhan Vivian’s The List.... For those who do not know, The List is a young adult literature book about a high school that creates a list every year. The list features the names of two girls from each grade; the prettiest and the ugliest. In class we talked about the way society portrays the way men and women "are supposed to" look. We even discussed a little bit about popular kid toys like Barbie and G.I. Joe. According to what was said in class, Barbie’s measurements in real life would be impossible. Likewise, the size of G.I. Joe’s muscles is a ridiculous, non-human size. We even got on to the topic of a poem by Jane Yolen called “Fat is Not a Fairytale.” It was about the desire for a fairytale that featured a plus-sized protagonist. Many people do not realize it but it shows that even the fairytales we have in our society are sending out these sorts of subconscious messages. In every one of the fairytales mentioned in the poem, the princess is always skinny and virtually flawless. In fact, other characters in these stories that are “fat” are either evil, bad or unflattering in some way. These are the messages that children are receiving even before they can read. More relevant to the list, we discussed personal stories and/or experiences that we ourselves have faced. I was disturbed to hear one of my peers speak about an experience she had in high school that was very similar to the situation that happened in the list. She said that at her high school the seniors always create their own “Most Likely to…” list. When she was a high school senior, she told us that she was voted “most likely to become a prostitute.” Now that her younger sister is a high school senior, she too was voted into a category. Her sister was voted “most likely not to live ‘til college.” While people in our class said they did not like The List, because of its content, we have to be aware of the fact that this is the kind of thing that is already happening in our schools, and something that many students are even experiencing themselves. It is a sad fact, but unfortunately, it is true. People often think of the academic side when they think about their life as a teacher, but that is only one aspect of it. There is a complete other side that exists and we as teachers have to be just as prepared to handle those situations as well.

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