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The Danger of A Single Story
I found this TED Talk to be a fascinating examination of the roles stereotypes play in our society. Every person, culture, event, and location has a panoply of stories, and it is vitally important to consider all of these when forming one’s understanding of a topic. The speaker uses her own childhood as a reference, discussing her experiences with Western literature. As she mentions, children are the most susceptible to interpreting what they read as set in stone, and not simply one perspective of many. I identified with her feelings of not being represented in literature, and I am also very familiar with how those stereotypes can impact your interactions with others.
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Sadly, this is a pattern that I see fairly often in schools, both when I was a student and when I look at my current clinical practice school. I was disheartened to hear a very senior member of my department write off a portion of his class who had struggled with a test by saying that they were his “dumb kids”, so he didn’t care they were struggling. In my own interactions with students, I have yet to meet one I think is dumb. There are some who don’t feel motivated to perform in school, and I think that lack of motivation comes at least in part from teachers who think they’re just dumb. While I would hope no teacher would ever say this to a student’s face, simply being willing to think of students like that shows through in every interaction you have with them, and they pick up on more of that disdain than you think.
At the same time, I have seen teachers get stereotyped as well, and I think that box can be almost as dangerous. In the media and in my interactions with others, I have heard a lot of disdain for teachers centered around the belief that the combination of the academic calendar and the concept of tenure means that the job is easy and teachers are lazy or in some way defective. After all, only “those who can’t do” go into teaching, right? I feel it is important to be open and communicate with your community about all you’re doing to make a point of highlighting the egregious inaccuracy of those assertions. In addition, I think it is vital that we dispel the illusion that we only work during school hours. Between staying late, waking up early, working on weekends, and spending breaks preparing for the next term or unit, I feel that teachers actually work a good deal more than many people whose jobs are seen as more difficult. I felt that this blog post did a good job of dispelling these misconceptions, and I hope to help continue dispelling them in the future.
An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube
I’ve always enjoyed youtube quite a bit. Checking up on my subscribed channels is a part of my daily routine when I get home from work. I had not, however, considered it from an anthropological standpoint. As soon as I saw the title of this video, however, I began to think of all of the interesting ways the site could inform our understanding of modern society.
In particular, the international bridge-building potential is remarkable. The video talks about the song “Numa Numa” (pedantic nerd point *adjusts glasses*: the song’s actual title is “Dragostea Din Tei”) by the Romanian group O-Zone, that quickly became an international phenomenon in a manner similar to the meteoric trajectory of “Gangnam Style”. Where each of these songs (and the videos that sprang up around them) could have been a target of ridicule (like Rebecca Black’s “Friday”), they instead set off copycats from all over the world.
This indicates, then, that Youtube represents the emergence of a new paradigm of human interaction, where meaning, intent, and identity all have radically different meanings than they do in the corporeal world. Thanks to this and similar technologies, it’s possible for people from all over the world to form connections they would never have imagined otherwise. This is a double-edged sword; for every fun or positive situation like the above there is an example of a community like “Red-Pillers” or the most self-involved and entitled of the gaming community that society would be better off without. However, taking the good with the bad, I think this tool is a remarkable new way for people to interact.