I had the opportunity of discussing the text with Vivian before she presented it in class and I noticed that we identified with some of the impressions we got from Maxine greene's chapter on Freedom and Education and Public Spaces. We both thought Greene was very dense, so I tried helping her doing her presentation because I thought it would help me better understand Greene's language, but we ended up losing communication over the week. It turned out our works came out very similar. Actually Wendy Kholi's review of Greene's book was a great help to figure out the book.
Greene's main topic is to imagine things to be able to act on them. So, she gets the idea of freedom and contests it - the individual is free to do what he or she wishes to do,within the context of self; she brings a new concept, that freedom is within the context of a community. It is about responsibility.
Vivian mentioned the movie Blood Diamond and how that made her think of that concept. Responsibility to the society. I have not seen the movie, but it has been suggested to me by my family ever since I started asking my boyfriend for a ring. I really am curious to know what the implications are of buying cheap diamond here. How is that part of my responsibility as part of a community.
Another example that Vivian mentioned was the fact that the rapper 50 cent visited a high school in Bridgeport – what role models are we bringing to children? Who should they look up to? Greene's view is that people don't care about the community. We have an industry of violence that targets children today – video games and movies. How is that a good role model for them? If a child sees violence over and over again, how will she/he think that violence is not the norm? I think though, that as parents and care givers we have a choice of changing that. According to Greene, freedom is the action we take before the situations we encounter. Therefore the action we take to protect our children from possible harm will define our exercise of freedom. I have a little brother, and I remember not letting him sit through certain video games with my older brother. It would have been easy to let him sit there and play with my brother, but I decided to take action. I think parents can do that today, if they care about raising whole human beings.
We should protect the young mind as a society. I guess that is Greene's point. The society should care about making sure the industry of violence doesn't target kids. An exerpt from Bill Clinton's speech was read to the class. The speech says that even though we have freedom of speech we will restrain ourselves from producing certain things that will harm young minds. A classmate argued that there can't be freedom of speech and restraining. I do believe it is possible. I think that has to do with personal and social responsibility. I will keep myself from certain aspects of my freedom in order to protect others. Ultimately of course it is up to each parent what their children have access to or not, but the whole society should be concerned with creating the best environment possible.
I do have another look on this matter of violence though. The professor did mention that there was violence when he or we were growing up, cartoons like Tom and Jerry are filled with violence. And our generation did not come out terribly wrong – not perfect though, but not terribly wrong either. Sometimes I wonder if today's parents worry more than normal about violence. Cartoons that 30 years ago would be considered harmless fun, today are viewed as evil by parents. I wonder if today's parents are over-concerned about violence.
Maybe, even though all this concern is exaggerated, the fact that today's children are the worry of our generation is grounded in the fact that we (and they) are being exposed to more violence than ever before. And today's youth has been the protagonists of horror stories like school shootings and other similar acts of violence. And this is on TV all the time, and most chidlren watch tv all the time.
The professor and the students think Greene's cause is very noble, if there are problems, changes need to be made. And it needs to be a social approach, because there are too many pieces to it.
So is Maxine Greene's banner unfair? Society has changed. Children see violence all the time. But I also saw violence in cartoons when I was growing up.
Is it TV's fault? Is it the newscast fault then? Well, yes, there are ways of reporting the news that can make it not so sensationalist and glamorized, but the news are the news, we can't really run away from it. It there is more violence being reported children who watch tv news are more exposed to violence. If the games are more and more real, children, who obviously play video games, are more exposed to pretend violence that looks real, then real violence becomes not so much of a big deal. A classmate gave an account of her personal experience – she lived abroad, and watching American television there, she realized there was a lot of violence on her country's tv.
I believe though, that as one classmate mentioned, children are not just growing up with war lately, many of these problems are simply true of human condition. That means there has always been violence in our world. Not only violence, but other evils. Children have always been exposed to death and tragedies. In a world that brings violence from afar inside our homes through TV and games, we over protect our children to a point where some of them can't deal with death or violence, because they have been over sheltered. Some Christian parents I met were afraid of telling their children about hell for instance, for fear they would be traumatized. Well, if that is the faith you are teaching your children, you should teach it as a whole, or the child will have a handicapped faith. Children should also learn about life as a whole, or they will be handicapped individuals.
Ben made a wonderful comment in my opinion: he said television and radio don't create captive voices, you can always hang up. What is being lost in our society is the teaching of character values. Ben is always mentioning how he views every moment he has with a child as a teaching opportunity. And the truth is most of us don't think of it this way. Most parents shelter their children from violence because they do not want to deal with explaining to the children what is going on or they don't know how to deal with the children's reaction to it. I am afraid that my child will be exposed to violence and become an assassin because I really don't know how to deal with the reaction that child will have to that kind of violence.
Ben was actually arguing against the presidential speech that I agreed with, but I think he made a good starting point to talk about parent's responsibility. I do think that society should feel responsible too, but not to the extreme of censorship. Another student for instance mentioned that we put so much emphasis on all the academic education, but we forget that ethical behavior is equally importatnt. You wouldn't have to tell people to act with restraint, because if they had that ethical education they would know how to do it. We judge our society for the lack of morality today, but morality is the very thing we are forbidden from teaching in schools today. Greene also made that point. And I think that is the one thing above all others that should be reconsidered in our schools.