Saturday, July 27, 2013



In Linda Christiansen’s (2011) article “Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us” she discusses the influence the media has on our young people. She talks about the “secret agenda.” “The “secret education,” as Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman dubs it, delivered by children’s books and movies instructs students to accept the world as it is portrayed in these social blueprints. And often that world depicts the domination of one se, one race, once class, or one country over a weaker counterpart. My student Omar wrote “When we read children’s books, we aren’t just reading cute little stories, we are discovering the tools with which a young society is manipulated” (pg.1).  If you haven’t read this article it is worth reading. She will have you looking more closely at the media and how its messages influence our young people with the wrong message.

Her ideas connect to Newkirk’s (2009) chapter 5, “Pop Culture as a Literacy Tool.” Newkirk also agrees with the negative self-image that can derive from the mixed messages the media can elicit. “The Barbie phenomenon has, of course, been blamed for presenting young girls with an impossible ideal of feminine beauty, thus leading to the negative self-images  young girls develop , and in extreme cases to eating disorders”( Pg. 92). What I would disagree with here is the phrases “extreme cases.” I think since 2009 statistics may show more cases not so extreme.  What Christiansen doesn’t discuss in her article is the violence that can derive from media exposure. This is more relevant with boys and the violent T.V. shows and video games. “In the months after the Columbine school shootings, I began to collect cartoons depicting the pernicious effect of the mass media on boys. These cartoons typically depict youth violence as caused by the media exposure (not poverty or dysfunctional families)” (Newkirk, 2009, pg. 92). The media is very powerful.

Bakari Chavanu (2013) is a teacher who did a media unit with his 11th graders on advertising. In his  article “Seventeen,Self- Image, and Stereotypes”  he discusses the issues the media cause for young people but he was adamant about teaching a lesson that helped his students understand the “hidden agenda” in the media and it was successful. As educators this is very important the media is a huge part of their lives. “They will have seen 350,000 television commercials by the age of 17” (Chavanu, 2013, pg. 24).

Here is an interesting videos about how the media influences our students.

The Color of Beauty

In chapter 6, Newkirk discusses the literacy of reading. Last semester I did a Capstone Project on reading and teenagers. Unfortunately my research revealed that many students just don’t read once they get to high school. Mostly because they say it’s boring, they don’t have time, or the text we read do not interest them. Many students say they hate reading. I never really thought about the unnatural feeling that Newkirk (2013) talks about. “Nothing seems more unnatural to the nonreader than the isolation reading seems to demand” (113).  The word unnatural seemed so foreign to me but it; makes more sense. My students who really hate to read never really grew up reading; their parents didn’t read, maybe their parents didn’t read to them, their siblings didn’t read for pleasure. It doesn’t come natural. When my kids were little we would go to the book store and spend hours. I always read and so didn’t my boys. It was a natural thing to do. So as an English teacher how do I get my non-readers to read? Well, I don’t. I tried, and I will continue to try but most of them in high school will not become readers. It is a terrible thing to say but unfortunately it is true. I tried a lot of strategies and nothing seemed to get into these reluctant readers. However, I did get two or three kids to enjoy the novel and they all said they would read another King novel this summer. So my strategies paid off for a few.   I have embedded a few videos of my students discussing their lack of motivation to read.


  1. I liked how you clearly pointed out the negatives that pop culture in the media can portray for young males and females. I did not focus on this topic in my blog so I am so glad you mentioned it because the media does play such a role in our students life, good or bad, whether we like it or not. I liked how you mentioned that Newkirk’s uses "Pop Culture as a Literacy Tool." I really did not pick up on the fact that Newkirk believed that the media portrayed "a negative self-image that can derive from the mixed messages the media can elicit. The Barbie phenomenon has, of course, been blamed for presenting young girls with an impossible ideal of feminine beauty, thus leading to the negative self-images young girls develop , and in extreme cases to eating disorders”(Newkirk 92).

    I also agree that boys are more influenced by violent television shows and the violence in video games, which goes to show how the media is still very powerful.

    I really liked watching "The Color of Beauty Documentary" video. Renee who was an aspiring, beautiful, African American model showed how difficult it was for her to break from the stereotypes that exists because of the color of her skin. Renee moved to New York last month and is determined throughout the video to keep striving and to "ketch" her big break. This video was very inspiring and inspirational.

  2. Hi Diana,
    I love the various connections you made in your post. I will have to read Linda Christiansen’s article. The media topic is such an interesting one. How much does the media influence the minds of students. For that matter, how much does the media influence people in general. In some ways, isn't the nightly news one of the most horrific and graphic sources out there? Why isn't there more of a media focus on the positive aspects of this world? That's a whole other tangent I suppose though.
    I love that you discussed reading as being "unnatural" to those who are categorized as non-readers. I enjoyed watching your videos of your students and their lack of motivation to read. How can we change this? Is it something that if not encouraged at an early age, is harder to develop or can not be truly developed at all? I know I have always loved reading but it was always valued in my house.
    Thank you for sharing your classroom insight and the documentary. So much to think about and consider!