Masters

Princess Culture and Early Childhood Education: Application

Posted on April 11, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, eci814, First Nations, Grade 1 & 2, Kindergarten, Masters, Privilege, Race, teaching and learning |

In my last post, I ended with some questions about what we, as teachers or early childhood educators, could do to combat the racialized and gendered messages that our

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“Disney princesses” Photo credit: Ricky Brigante via Flickr

students are being bombarded with in their Disney princess/superhero culture. We need to remember that racial understanding makes its way into our classrooms without effort. “Race is a structuring principle that must be interpreted in classroom interactions, not as a naturally occurring phenomenon but part of the assumptions that ultimately inform how people construct their world” (Leonardo, 2009, p. 233).

Our students have racial constructs already formed by the time they get to school, and many of those constructs have been influenced through their parent’s opinions, and the movies and shows the children have been exposed to. Unfortunately,

moana

Photo credit: Disney UK

we can’t wait for Disney to change their ways and disrupt the dominant discourse, because even though they are starting to try, by releasing movies like Moana, there are still many issues with movies like these portraying Indigenous people. It is going to require educators to take a critical look at the hidden and lived curriculum students are stepping into school with, and learning how to deconstruct these narratives with their students.

In my grade one class last year, we had talked a lot about male and female ‘gender roles.’  I didn’t have to give many examples before the students started chiming in with what the “world” tells boys and girls they can or can’t do. During our talking circle, students were giving examples such as, “People say boys can’t have long hair,” or “Girls like pink.”  I don’t think there was one student that day who didn’t participate in the talking circle; every child had experienced some type of gendered scenario where they knew how boys and girls were supposed to act.  It was neat watching them agree and sympathize with each other as each child gave examples of what they knew about gender and how it didn’t sit right, even in their little six year old bodies.

I decided to take this lesson a step further with my students because “to children, the boundaries between reality and fantasy life are often unclear (van Wormer & Juby, 2015, p. 591).  Kids don’t always understand that the behaviours on TV shows or in movies shouldn’t be imitated in their own lives. I wanted to try and help my students look critically at the gendered and racialized scenarios they see in movies, and deconstruct the message while relating it to their own lives.

The first clip we watched was Gaston’s song from Beauty and the Beast. Take a look if you need a little refresher.

When I chose this clip, I knew it would have a lot of the gendered physical characteristics  of males, and I was hoping the children would notice.  After we watched the clip, I asked the kids what Disney was telling them about men/boys. Sure enough, the kids picked up on so many of the physical qualities.

“Boys have to be strong.”

“Boys have to have big muscles.”

“They are hairy.”

“Boys eat a lot of food.”

“They drink beer.” (Oops, I may have forgot about that part of the movie!)

Then one student pointed out something that I hadn’t really thought about, but was so prevalent.

“Boys like to fight.”

Wow. How had I missed that obvious behaviour from the clip? Clearly Gaston was fighting with the men in the parlour, but I was more focused on the kids finding physical characteristics of what men “should be like.” This led us into a great conversation about violence and how boys are pushed into more of a violent social construct than girls.

We then looked at a couple other princess clips; one of Snow White, and another of snow whiteCinderella. The students were even quicker to find gendered stereotypes of women which included body image, a woman’s “roles,” and standard of beauty.  Unfortunately we don’t have to look far to see the media pushing women in one gendered cinderelladirection, and it mostly has to do with the beautification and sexualization of girls/women.  Our class had a really good conversation around this topic, and it even led into how they can be safe/protected online.  Many children recognized that inappropriate images of women are scattered everywhere on the web, and many children openly admitted to seeing these while they were using the internet in their own home. We discussed how “the world” sometimes treats women’s bodies as objects, and that is not fair or right. I reminded them of what they could do if they ran into inappropriate images/videos while online (close it immediately, tell an adult etc.) I try my best to incorporate digital citizenship lessons throughout the year as we use quite a bit of technology in my class, and I know students run into these situations at home as well.

The last part of the student’s assignment was to re-iterate a stereotypical message they knew about boys and girls, and then offer an alternative. For example, “boys CAN have long hair,” or “girls can wear blue and boys can wear pink” etc. The students left empowered, and I had a student come back the week after and tell me how his sister was telling him something about a “girl colour,” and he told her there was no such thing as girl or boy colours! What a precious example of social/gender de-construction.

Unfortunately, I did not dive into an extension of this lesson that included race… but I wish I would have.  I think deep down, challenging gender constructs was more comfortable for me than challenging racial constructs, and so I left it at that.  Now that I have more anti-oppressive grad classes under my belt, and feel a little better versed in my understanding of Whiteness, identity, and erasure, I am willing and hopeful to tackle more lessons of this sort when I head back into the classroom after mat leave.

However, Leonardo (2009) does warn us that “whites must learn to be racially sensitive about contexts when race seems a legitimate theme to invoke and ask why it was relevant to them then and not other times… Whites can participate in building an antiracist pedagogy against white mystifications, and displacing white racial knowledge from its privileged position of classroom discourse” (p. 239). This makes me wonder what it looks like to challenge the “princess/superhero” culture in specific lessons, but support it on something like a school dress up day.

Last year we had a dress-up day called “Disney Day,” where, you guessed it, students were encouraged to dress up as their favourite movie character.

Not surprisingly, all students either dressed up as a character, or wore a shirt that had a superhero logo or character on it.  Looking back, I’m again reminded at how prevalent and engrained the Disney culture is in these children’s lives. I would never consider boycotting the Disney day, as I know these types of days are extremely fun for students.  But if I could do it again, I would choose to have some critical discussion around gender/race as a reminder before the day. The children can learn to spot Whiteness, erasure, and cultural appropriation. This type of day would be the perfect time for them to practice their awareness in this area.

Furthermore, an asset-based, positive way teachers can disrupt the princess/superhero IMG_2265culture in their classroom is by offering other cultural/linguistic alternatives. Mary Caroline Rowan in her article, ‘Resituating Practice through Teachers’ Storying of Children’s Interests’ explained how she used Aotearoa/New Zealand learning stories to impart traditional Inuktitut words to preschoolers. It “could serve as a means of first recognizing and, second, deepening Inuit cultural and linguistic approaches to early childhood education” (2013, p. 180). Incorporating First Nations, Inuit, and Metis languages through storytelling is a valuable pedagogical tool teachers can use to help combat ‘White ways of knowing.’ Rowan emphasizes that using Indigenous methodologies

“facilitated the development of a practice of making learning stories that I hoped would make Inuit knowledge(s), patterns, and meanings accessible and, in so doing, make spaces in ECE practice for Inuit ways of knowing and being” (2013, p. 180).

In what other ways can we make spaces in ECE practice for Indigenous ways of knowing and being? How can we disrupt the dominant discourse of princess/superhero culture and acknowledge the ways in which it directly influences student’s understanding of themselves and each other? I am only entering the beginning of this journey, and am hopeful to walk beside other early childhood educators who believe in this work as well.

References

Joseph, A. (2016, Dec. 2). With Disney’s “Moana,” Hollywood almost gets it right: Indigenous people weigh in. Salon. Retrieved from: http://www.salon.com/2016/12/03/with-disneys-moana-hollywood-almost-gets-it-right-indigenous-people-weigh-in/

Leonardo, Z. (2009). Reading whiteness: anti-racist pedagogy against white racial knowledge. In B. Ayers, T. Quinn, & D. Stovall, (Eds.), Handbook of social justice in education. (pp. 231-248). New York: Rutledge.

Rowan, C. (2013). Resituating Practice through Teachers’ Storying of Children’s Interests in V. Pacini-Ketchabaw & L. Prochner, Resituating Canadian Early Childhood Education (172-188). New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

van Wormer, K. & Juby, C. (2015). Cultural representations in Walt Disney films: Implications for social work education. Journal of Social Work. 16(5), 578-594

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EC&I 834 Summary of Learning

Posted on April 10, 2017. Filed under: digital citizenship, Eci834, Garageband, Google Classroom, Masters, Social Media, Technology |

I used Emaze.com for my summary of learning! It’s a great alternative to Powerpoint, Keynote, or Prezi as a presentation tool. One of Emaze’s options is to create a mini site. It’s a really neat way to showcase learning!

Here is a quick screen cast to explain how to navigate the mini site.

Explore my Summary of Learning mini site for yourself here.

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Feedback Considerations

Posted on April 9, 2017. Filed under: Eci834, Google Classroom, Masters, Technology |

It was great to hear the positive feedback around our Genius Hour course prototype. Our group had a lot of fun putting together the online Genius Hour course, and we wanted it to be as practical and usable as possible.

Initially, we had the course set for grades 3-8.  I am a grade two teacher, and tried to Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 10.12.21 PMmake my course content accessible and readable enough for grade two students.  However, one of the comments and feedback we received quite often was that people were worried about the content level and reading level for the youngest (grade 3) students. Our group took this into consideration and decided to change our grade level to 5-8.  The course can be adapted if need be to the younger grades, but people were right; some of the modules would be a little difficult for those young ones. It was a simple change that our group was happy to do.

Our group chose blogging as the “thread” that would tie all our modules together. We Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 10.13.57 PMeach had different content, and we figured blogging would be a good way to root the students in something similar throughout all of them.  We had decided that the teacher who was doing this online course would have taught the students how to blog before starting this course, but I guess we didn’t quite make that clear enough.  We have now added this into our course.  If for some reason the student missed the class where they learned how to set up their own blog, they can watch the video and make one for themselves.

One of the comments that we got was that our Google Classroom set up was very easy to follow. This took me a very long time to do, but I am glad I did it. Our whole group just put in assignments as we finished them, and our stream was pretty chaotic.  We had Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 10.14.55 PMvideos and assignments from different modules all over the place. Once everyone had all of their content in Google Classroom, I went through and reverse organized them. In the top right hand corner of each assignment it says move to top.  So I started at the last assignment and moved it to the top.  I then worked backwards all the way until the very first assignment, so that the first assignment you see is the Introduction 1.1, and then 1.2 etc. This only works if you can import all of your content before the students start the online module.  If you are adding content daily with students, this option is not available.

Someone suggested that the last video and slideshow in my module are a little bit Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 10.15.51 PMdifficult (content wise) for young students. They are totally right. I only added those in because I didn’t feel like I gave the “works cited” portion of my module enough learning time. So that said, I’ve decided to change the instructions so that the videos/slides can be for those students who are interested in going above and beyond.  Perhaps they want to move from a “meeting” to “established” knowledge of digital citizenship.
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The only other feedback I would like to comment on would be how the content is organized. I think as people get used to Google Classroom, they would realize that we had two ways to view content. You could click on the “Topics” tab, and see each of our
individual units/modules as a cluster, or you could follow the
Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 10.18.06 PM stream in order from 1.1 to 5.5 which included the assessments and evaluations.

Overall, I find that the peer feedback was an excellent way to improve this course. It makes me wish I would have actually filled out more course evaluations during my University career haha! Teachers give great feedback, and our group was happy to change our course to make it more accessible, available, and appropriately levelled. Thanks to everyone who had a chance to give us some feedback! I would love to share our module with others who would like to use this online Genius Hour course in their class!

Here are all the blogposts about our course prototype.

If you would like to check out our course prototype, please go to Google Classroom and use the class code: ku6m8y The course outline is under the “About” section.

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Princess Culture and Early Childhood Education: The Research; Over-representation and Erasure

Posted on April 9, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, eci814, First Nations, Masters, Race |

In my last post, I highlighted some of the problems with having a Disney infused culture.

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“Princess Birthday” photo credit: Cat via Flickr

There are many racialized/gendered messages being sent to children, and “the racial innuendos and insults typically are beyond the level of conscious awareness (van Wormer & Juby, 2015, p. 591). Many young children, especially pre-school to grade one
age, are captivated by Disney characters. They have the movies, the costumes, the dolls, and the Disney themed birthday parties.

Many of us grew up with Disney movies/characters didn’t we? What’s the problem? Is it really a big deal?  Well, the problem lies when there is an over-representation of Disney
knowledge and an almost erasure of Indigenous knowledge/ways of knowing.  I am the perfect example. Did you know that I made it all the way through elementary school, high school, and my undergraduate University degree before finding out about the real

truthandreconcilliation

Photo Credit: The Media Project

horrors of Canadian history in my grad classes? I wouldn’t have been able to tell you about residential schools, Treaties, the TRC, Indigenous languages, or any real information about Indigenous peoples other than they used to make tipis, they used
arrowheads, and they helped the ‘Pilgrims’ when they came to North America. I didn’t ever learn how Treaty 4 affects me, and how I benefit from the Cree and Saulteaux peoples being removed from their land. Parul Sehgal (2016) of the New York Times “describes how inconvenient people are dismissed, their history, pain and achievements blotted out” (par. 3). Indigenous stories were not something I was taught or even had access to, really.  BUT… if you had asked me about a specific Disney movie, I could probably sing 15 Disney songs word for word. We even watched Disney movies in school for classroom parties or during the lunch hour.  Clearly one type of knowledge was over-represented in my life, and one was erased.

I did, however, have some opinions on “Native people.” One of them was that they were so lucky because they got their University for free, and that just didn’t quite seem fair to me. (Read more about other Treaty misconceptions and facts here.) I want to be clear that the issue was not that I watched Disney movies when I was growing up, it was that I was so surrounded by my White culture (including Disney) that I didn’t ever need to challenge the status quo or question my Whiteness. The media I was attracted to erased certain populations of people, and presented others in a less than positive light. Fryberg & Stephens (2010) suggest that “American Indians are so underrepresented in various contexts (e.g., media, school) that they experience an extreme form of colorblindness; they are invisible,” (p.115).

Disney is easy to pick on, but the fact of the matter is that all mainstream media dictates one message and ignores another.

“Media images can serve a deliberate purpose in maintaining the dominance of our existing societal gender, race, and class hierarchies. The motivation for movie production, for example, may be to incite patriotism, ethnic pride, and/or the assimilation of minority groups into mainstream culture. The most common motivation… is to reproduce whatever images dominate within the ‘whole white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’ to which films in the global market must appeal” (van Wormer & Juby, 2015, p. 582).

These ideologies affect and inform our students, and it then becomes our job as educators to disrupt these ways of thinking and offer other stories. “A critical reading of Whiteness means that White ignorance must be problematized, not in order to expose Whites as simply racist, but to increase knowledge about their full participation” (Leonardo, 2009, p. 231). It wasn’t until I understood my place in Canadian history as a White settler woman that I was able to comprehend the depth of that identity and my role going forward.

“School appears to [be] a key site for racialised (and national) subjectification” (Phoenix, 2009, p. 18).  In many cases, students are coming to school and not escaping the

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Photo Credit: Patrick Feller via Flickr

hegemony of culture, but their classroom experiences demonstrate “the ways in which they… recognise western representations that [construct] them as inferior” (Phoenix, 2009, p. 18). Even the youngest of students can tell when they are “othered.” Children do see race and gender, and their little identities are already quite developed when they arrive at school. If they are familiar with the princess/superhero stories of Disney and the like, how does that influence their classroom and school interactions?

What can I (we) do as early childhood educators to disrupt the dominant story being told? What experiences can we share as a classroom that can challenge the hidden curriculum the students are learning through the princess/superhero culture? How can we help such young minds grow in critical awareness of their favourite princess/superhero stories? What alternative stories can be shared to counteract the dominant racialized/gendered messages the children are receiving?

My next princess culture post

References

Ball, J. (2009). Supporting Young Indigenous Children’s Language Development in Canada: A Review of Research on Needs and Promising Practices. The Canadian Modern Language Review. 66(1), 19-47

Fryberg, S. & Stephens, N. (2010). When the World is Colorblind, American Indians are Invisible: A Diversity Science Approach. Psychological Inquiry. 21(2), 115-119

Leonardo, Z. (2009). Reading whiteness: anti-racist pedagogy against white racial knowledge. In B. Ayers, T. Quinn, & D. Stovall, (Eds.), Handbook of social justice in education. (pp. 231-248). New York: Rutledge.

Phoenix, A. (2009). De-colonising practices: Negotiating narratives from racialised and gendered experiences of education. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 12(1), 2-22.

Sehgal, P. (2016, Feb. 2).  Fighting ‘Erasure’. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/07/magazine/the-painful-consequences-of-erasure.html?_r=0

van Wormer, K. & Juby, C. (2015). Cultural representations in Walt Disney films: Implications for social work education. Journal of Social Work. 16(5), 578-594

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Princess Culture and Early Childhood Education: The Issue

Posted on April 7, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, cultural, eci814, Masters, Race |

It all started in the last couple months when I decided to go on a Netflix Disney movie spree. I was getting sick of the large amounts of drugs, sex, swearing, and violence in the “regular” adult TV shows and movies, so I wanted to take a break and indulge in

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Photo credit: Global Panorama via Flickr

something more ‘innocent.’ Now, hear me when I say that a “spree” for a mom of a six month old is watching bits and pieces of these movies every few days/week. But that said, so far I have watched Tangled, The Jungle Book, Finding Dory, Ella Enchanted, (I watched this thinking it was the musical Enchanted. It wasn’t) Big Hero 6, Enchanted, (the correct one) and I am currently watching Maleficent.  It was during Enchanted (the musical) that I started to really recognize the Whiteness that is infused into the movie.

It was during the above clip that I was awakened to the stereotypical race roles that the movie portrays. First of all, the initial men of colour introduced are assumed to be Caribbean, as they play steel drums and shakers, and they are wearing traditional cultural clothing. (Although to be honest, I’m not even sure it’s accurate Caribbean traditional clothing… but it does have patterns and beading, which in the dominant viewer’s mind fits the role of traditional Caribbean culture, therefore does not get questioned.)  These men are immediately racialized as their purpose in the movie is to represent culture and add an ethnic flavour to the song. The men follow the characters (the two white, heterosexual leads) who walk through the park singing about love. The next obvious men of colour introduced are Mexican men in sombreros playing their guitars on a boat.  Their apparent purpose is to support the two White leads with some added guitar music.  The last noticeable man of colour, (I won’t even get started that there were no obvious women of colour even in the song.) is a black man in a bandana, and a loose jersey.  Since the song is apparently trying to include all different cultures, he most likely represents black culture as a whole;

“Black men are also featured as tough and aggressive. Many videos rely on hip hop style fashions, such as multilayered oversized shirts, sagging jeans… tattoos and bandanas, in order to evoke images of controlled aggressiveness.” (Asamen, Ellis, & Berry, 2008).

The massive amount of cultural appropriation that is happening within this short song is disturbing. According to the Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage Project (2015), appropriation “means to take something that belongs to someone else for one’s own use. In the case of heritage, appropriation happens when a cultural element is taken from its cultural context and used in another” (p. 2). The entire song took race and gender stereotypes and expanded on them to the nth degree. This is troubling for me because while I was looking for an innocent escape in children’s movies, I was actually bombarded by hidden racialized and gendered constructions that shape my ways of knowing without me always realizing it.

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Photo credit: Barb Watson via Flickr

I think most people are aware that the older Disney movies often promoted racism, sexism, and even domestic violence, but “the newer Disney animations continue to play ‘a substantial role in reaffirming, even constructing, an uneven social hierarchy that privileges the status quo and subjugates marginal populations” (Gutierrez, 2000, p.10). With that in mind, it brought me to question how the dominant discourses of media culture influence early childhood education. In what ways is the ‘princess culture’ of today affecting our children’s ways of knowing and being? If it took me, an adult finishing her graduate degree focusing on anti-oppressive education four consecutive Disney movies to really notice the hegemonic practices that were being showcased, how long, if ever, does it take children to question the message they are receiving? In what ways do schools perpetuate princess/superhero culture and preserve the dominant discourse?

My next post: Princess Culture and Early Childhood Education: Over-representation and Erasure

References

Asamen, J., Ellis M., & Berry G. (2008). The SAGE Handbook of Child Development, Multiculturalism, and Media. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications.

Broadnax, J. (2015, Nov. 18). The Hollywood Reporter’s New Cover Shows Hollywood Continues to Erase Women of Color. Retrieved from: https://www.themarysue.com/hollywood-reporter-cover-erasure 

George, K. (2015, Jan. 9). The Disney Movies You Grew Up with Are Incredibly Racist. Retrieved from: http://www.vh1.com/news/310/racist-disney-movies/

Gutierrez G. (2000) Deconstructing Disney: Chicano/a children and critical race theory. Aztlain 25: 746.

Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage Project. (2015). Think Before You Appropriate. Things to know and questions to ask in order to avoid misappropriating Indigenous cultural heritage. Simon Fraser University: Vancouver.

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How to subtitle? Well I just don’t know!

Posted on April 3, 2017. Filed under: Eci834, Technology |

I had quite the experience trying to learn how to subtitle a video I had made with Tellagami. By watching YouTube music videos, you would think it should be no problem at all! Well, I was humbled to say the least! I tried two different software platforms, and couldn’t figure out either! After at least 3 hours of trying, I ended up going to a platform I was familiar with and just making it work.

Maybe someone knows what I was doing wrong, and wants to comment below? That would be awesome!

Here’s my journey…

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