Saturday, February 16, 2013

Undersea wheelchair

Did you know, according to the American Association of Pediatrics and TV-Free America, the average child sees between 20,000 and 40,000 commercial advertisements a year?  Seems astounding.  In the eighth grade as part of a year-long media literacy unit, we tracked our own hours in front of screens and the number of ads we saw even in a single week, and discovered that alas, this was in the realm of possibility.  This generation of children is exposed to more visual media stimulus than any generation before, and it is our responsibility to fortify them with the critical thinking skills to help them cope, thrive and contribute in this inundated society.  So what a pleasure to teach the upper graders to recognize the types of propaganda techniques in the media they see!  Recently, we studied jingles, slogans, logos and the idea of "branding," and students came up with their own brands, either for personalities, products what they would like to contribute in the future. Some of the ideas were really creative (natch, our kids!), such as starting up Manga publishing houses, trampoline factories, a rock-climbing training camp, a robot bagel dispensary (!) and a non-competitive talent competition, "Singing for Peace" (take that, American Idol!).   I was really interested when one student shared he would like to create scuba diving experiences for people in wheelchairs.

I was so impressed with the thought, and it was a teachable moment to boot:  we were able to see that such an opportunity imagined by this student really did exist, thanks to the efforts of artist Sue Austin! Click below to see this marvelous achievement.  (Austin also gave a more extensive TedTalk about her process and experience, which may be viewed here). 

It's so splendid when technology can be used for sharing these Great Leaps for Peoplekind, instead of just selling toothpaste and cable, isn't it? 

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