No.5 - Deeper
than Blackboard Knowledge
Welcome to the fifth edition of The Creative Teaching Space.
Teaching and training present us with many challenges and still we continue to explore many ways to open student learning. Ideas come and go, we attempt to engage, we succeed, we sometimes feel at a loss. There is a large world out there, beyond and deeper than the blackboard. Ideas should spiral out and open new possibilities. We should take all ideas with a grain of salt. Experiment and see what you can find. Be creative. Model this creativity. Enthuse yourself as well as the students. Encourage open mindedness and questioning. The curriculum is only a starting point and connector to a rich world within and outside us. Every day we should be exploring new ideas, scanning them and absorbing them, relating them back to our experience, applying them, or simply reflecting, stepping back and finding new depths.
He points and he writes. But does he invite? We see and listen but does he just perform? Where do we lie in this situation? Have we been here – passive and quiet? Have we ever been enthused? Why? What is information? Is it simply given to us? The gospel, the elite, the hierarchy and its status. Or is it a path to somewhere else – facts, maybe – but maybe also tools that become part of us and change as we change.
a song of sunlight
How can we, as teachers, bring this outside knowledge into the training room or classroom? Can we open the curriculum to such an extent that we find connections between its content and the interest of our students? Sometimes this will be clear.
At other times we should explore poetics and metaphor to find a link. "This is John’s passion, how does this connect to what we are studying? What does John’s interest make you feel? John, what keeps you interested in this? How can John’s interest help us with what we are studying?"
Where are we when we meet? Where is our training or classroom placed? Where is our workplace? What was on this land before? What would it have looked like a hundred or a thousand years ago? What natural world is at work now – beneath our feet or outside the windows? Ants, worms, mice, microbes, birds and the sounds of nature. Listen to these, note them. Take a walk and make notes. Take a field trip. How can nature connect to maths? Explore the symmetry in that tree or leaf. What can the land beneath our feet tell us? An archeological site tells us of a human past and a geological past tells us that this land is moving and has moved. This land supports our training room. Where has this land come from? What human tracks have walked on this land?
The Dombrovskis tribute page: International Photography Hall of Fame.
What are your favorite CD or Album Covers? Explore their design and listen to the music. Create your own designs for existing or non-existent musicians. Create fictitious bands, songs, lyrics and histories. Bring these to life through interviews.
Click on the pictures for websites exploring album cover design:
Here are two beautiful covers that I have come across. Mississippi John Hurt is an old man, and next to him stands the ghostly image of his younger self. The saxophonist Stan Getz as a teenager, an intensity and depth in his eye almost predicting his future in jazz.
And here below the great satirical cartoonist Robert Crumb has drawn Mississippi John Hurt. Robert Crumb is a fascinating, at times confronting, cartoonist. I will never forget the amazing film called Crumb by Terry Zwigoff. It was an extraordinary journey through the life of Crumb including the lives of his troubled brothers – ignore the review on the above site and read this Rolling Stone Review. The soundtrack is also a gorgeous recreation of ragtime music.
Crumb Museum (Beware some adult content)
Throughout the ages artists have shown extraordinary compassion, an ability to not only step into the shoes of others – empathy – but also a capacity to try and understand, and dignify, the lives of people very different from their own. Through the ages there have been some quite extraordinary examples of artists showing very modern understandings, well outside their times. In a time of asylums, and the unspeakable treatment of people with mental illness, Dr. Hugh Welch Diamond photographed inmates with an understanding and dignity.
Century Asylum Inmate in Striped Dress and Lace Cap,
A tender smile. Why is she in this place? What is her story? Recreate this image. Interview her.
Seated Woman with Bird. Why this bird? How does she feel? What story exists here? Recreate this image. Interview her.
The American photographer Fred Holland Day produced this photograph of a young Negro girl. It is askew with only part of her face in frame. It is strangely modern and intriguing. This is a time when photographs were highly stylised and posed. Who is this girl? What is her story? Bring her to life. What stories can she tell?
The French painter Theodore Gericault (1791-1824) is most famous for his painting of the Raft of the Medusa, a haunting painting that documents the drama of shipwreck. In July 1816 the ship La Medduse went aground on the coast of present day Mauritania on its path of carrying French passengers to Senegal. One hundred and fifty people were crammed onto a makeshift raft. Twelve days later the raft was found with only fifteen survivors. The horror of the cannibalism, madness and suicide on board shocked the French populace. Speaking to survivors, as well as having body parts from morgues brought to his studio – Study, guillotined heads – Gericault intensely studied human form, and the drama of the incident, to bring the ordeal to life. The painting was both a highly dramatic reconstruction of a real event as well as a political statement on the incompetence of government policy at the time. In an equally compassionate gesture Gericault also visited an asylum to paint five oil paintings of the criminally insane (1822-23). These studies stand as a curious attempt to capture and understand the image of mental illness:
And here we return to Tasmania, to a northern city of Launceston, and an image of the Invalid Depot. These ex-convicts are now frail and elderly. What stories can they tell? Recreate this image and explore the possible lives of the individuals.
Nowadays we hear of programs for youth at risk. Here is an example from the 18th century involving the Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi at The Pio Ospedale della Pietà. Innovative education programs are not necessarily new.
How can war be seen from a different angle? Animals provide many new perspectives on war.
throughout history and Dickin Medal
This site at the Australian War Memorial gives an overview of the medal and is an excellent starting point for what is a very detailed and informative AWM website.
A legendary story in Australian folklore.
Perhaps your students can write poems about animals in war. The perspective of an animal can provide great artistic license. The film Beware Balthazar by Robert Bresson is a profound and deeply moving film following the life of a donkey. It is often cited in top ten film lists.
The following strategies are designed to support Tasmanian teachers in the implementation of the Being Ethical component of the Personal Futures strand of Essential Learnings. The ideas can also be used by teachers, in a variety of contexts, looking for practical means of exploring Ethics.
Like any of the strategies that I present, take them with a grain of salt. They are often only pointers for ways in which you can approach the curriculum. Adapt them to the needs of your students. Reflect upon the strategy and see how it may inform you of other possibilities e.g. how can I use poetry to explore this concept?
The web provides many resources that we can dip into. I am particularly fond of using artwork to explore concepts. This is because artwork can be very powerful and is presented in ways that can grab all types of learners whether they are auditory, visual or kinaesthetic learners. (Darron reverts to jargon – you get my drift!). Art e.g. the creation of characters, is also extremely useful as it provides the protection of a mask. We are not talking directly about our experience. This can foster many safe contributions from students. On the other hand you may at time choose to draw upon personal experiences. Everyday we make choices, and we are surrounded by a mass of issue based media, whether it is editorials, letters in newspapers, or contributors to talkback radio.
An important starting point when exploring Ethics is to anchor the discussion very much in the everyday. A word such as ‘ethical’ immediately sounds academic and we may need to break this intellectual perception by finding everyday words that students can relate to. This fits in very well with the first standards of many of the Essential Learnings key elements. After all, experience often starts in the everyday and moves increasingly to a more abstract and conceptual level – echoed in the later strands – where concepts, self-reflection and societal considerations take place. In relation to Ethics a deeper understanding also involves a greater awareness of the complexity and multiple perspectives involved in experiences and ideas – hence later references to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Here are the Performance Guidelines covering this strand.
Students who are being ethical:
Understand that fundamental values include respect, trustworthiness, responsibility, fairness, caring, citizenship, justice, equity and civic virtue and apply that understanding to specific contexts.
Demonstrate an understanding of the origins of contemporary ethical principles.
Demonstrate empathy in their relationships and intellectual processes.
Use ethical values and ethical decision-making frameworks to analyse and evaluate the actions of themselves and others.
Articulate their ethical reasons and justify ethical positions held by themselves and others.
As you can see much of the wording is of a particular style, involving words that cover relationships with others, relationships with ourselves – our choices – and relationships on a whole – as civic human beings. In addressing the first standards it is important to breakdown this language to its very basics and to address the everyday experience of Ethics.
George Hegel, 1821: Education is the art of making man ethical.
Explore what we mean by the word "Needs". Let students write down sentences that use the word ‘need’, e.g. "I need a bath, I need some food, I need to feel warm." Encourage students to note whenever they hear the word ‘need’. What is a person really saying when they say ‘need’? This can touch on the concept that a need is something that we really need to have in order to survive. It is different from a ‘want’. A want can be something such as a new bike. One can survive without a bike. A need is something such as a clean living environment to protect us from disease. If students can list and compare ‘wants’ with ‘needs’ they may be able to identify that one involves choice and perhaps luxury – a present – whereas the other involves a deeper need needed by most people. This connects students slowly to the concept of rights – more than one person.
Let students identify their personal needs via charts e.g. "My needs: at school, at home, with my friends, etc". Let students recognise the places in which their needs have to be met rather than you presenting it as the teacher. You may even be able to get students listing "What a ______ needs?" Here you could have: baby, parent, elderly person, police, etc.
Collect a variety of needs and let each student identify what they think are their personal needs. They may like to prioritise these – my 10 most important needs. Compare the responses.
You may like to draw upon Maslow's listing of basic human needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem, self-actualisation, to reinforce those presented by the students. Remember though it is useful to draw this sort of learning into the process at a later date. Don’t jump into taxonomies straight away. Let students create their own lists first.
Once students have identified that there are many needs within the classroom, start to explore the concept of rights. Makes a list: "We/You have the right to…" A student says that he has the right to not be bullied. Discuss this. What is bullying? Why do students think bullying wrong? Why do we have a right such as not being bullied? How should we behave towards others? Explore the other rights listed in group work.
Has a student ever seen another person being picked on? How did they feel? This can draw a connection between rights and feelings. After all rights come from feelings e.g. one day somebody decided that it was not really very pleasant to see another person being called names. Why do some people feel really upset when they see another person getting hurt?
The Bully Asleep
afternoon, when grassy
Question: Is it ethical for me to be printing the above poems on my website? Am I breaking Copyright and not buying a text that can contribute to the payment of the writer? Here I have a few qualms. What is my defense? I am using poetry and other media as starting points and as much as possible am initiating teachers – and ultimately students – to many new writers, painters, etc. This information is being presented freely and within an educational context. Where possible I am providing links to further information about the artist so that you can follow any further information by buying e.g. texts. Still, is this ethical?
Here students start to realise that values underlie behaviour. Students can explore the rules that we live by – the classroom is a good starting point – and understand the types of behaviours underpinning the practicing of these rules.
Students can draw up a list of classroom rules. This can be done in groups and a process of consensus used to draw up an agreed list. Charts can be used: ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’.
Why do we need such rules? What would a world without rules be like? You may like to refer to the text of Lord of the Flies, p.36, "There aren’t any grown-ups. We shall have to look after ourselves….We can’t have everybody talking at once. We’ll have to have hands up like at school." Why does Ralph find it important to make rules like this?
Or you can even read excerpts from Robert Cormier’s text The Chocolate War. In both texts/films a world is established in which young people create their own rules. It is ironic and well documented in psychological surveys that quite often the rules that children come up with can be much harsher than those initiated by adults.
Students can identify in groups the types of nice words we use in talking about good behaviour – caring, supporting, nice, pleasant, polite, good, thoughtful, considerate, gentle, sensitive, well mannered, courteous. Students can draw up lists from discussions and by referring to a thesaurus. You can even create lists of opposites.
Once these words have been identified selections of them can be passed to other groups. Groups can then list the types of behaviours – practices – under terms e.g. caring – ‘listening carefully when a person is upset and trying to understand what they are feeling.’
Students may like to create their own character through which they explore the concepts of Being Ethical. A good starting point is to draw an outline of a person on the board and to decide if it is male or female. Then give it a name. Students can then come out one at a time and add to this shape words or ideas that fit in with the character. They can write personal details within the figure e.g. is often scared, and more general external ideas on the outside of the figure e.g. has two sisters. By reading what other students have written you can quickly create a character. You can then bring him or her to life by interviewing his or her parents or friends. Finally you can interview the character. An individual student can be the person interviewed or you can use a technique in which a question is asked, "How do you like school?" and either a set group of students or anyone from the class chooses to speak for that person. Soon you will have lots of ideas flowing and you can bring ethical concepts into the characterisation – "What does Sharna value most when she is with her friends? What does Sharna dislike about the way some people treat her at school? How does she feel? What does she do about this?" By creating a character(s) you open many safe opportunities for exploring ideas that may be a bit personal and confronting to troubled students.
Explore what a world without rules would be like. What would it be like if rules and punishments constantly changed? How have students felt when they have received a different punishment to e.g. a brother or sister? This opens possibilities for discussing fairness and consistency in rules, behaviour and consequences.
A good starting point in exploring this standard is to explore the differing opinions within the room. By physicalising values we can soon see the many stances we take when responding to a question. See Values in edition 3 of The Creative Teaching Space.
Students can continue to work with the character that they have created – or a personalised approach – and explore key ethical moments in greater depth. Take a concept such as ‘respect’ – Sharna is receiving little at school – and explain how it is that Sharna can be given more respect. Does she have to show more respect to others? What does Sharna have to do if she is shown little respect by her classmates?
Having explored the characterisation you can then take the details and relate them to a broader everyday perspective. It is your choice whether you want to stay within characterisation or move into a more generalised discussion. What is respect? You may like to use the methods explained in my article Starter Suggestions where you can go through a process of exploring a word’s definition, meaning, etymology, everyday use and use as an acronym. This enables students to explore a concept in depth. You may even like to take passages from e.g. the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and show how such words are used.
You can even draw up lists:
To respect we must: __________
Students may also like to explore proverbs or fables that relate to specific behaviours. The Aesops Fables website has many parables online and the moral lesson.
Here is the example The Bald Man and the Fly.
A FLY bit the bare head of a Bald Man who, endeavoring to destroy it, gave himself a heavy slap. Escaping, the Fly said mockingly, "You who have wished to revenge, even with death, the Prick of a tiny insect, see what you have done to yourself to add insult to injury?' The Bald Man replied, "I can easily make peace with myself, because I know there was no intention to hurt. But you, an ill-favored and contemptible insect who delights in sucking human blood, I wish that I could have killed you even if I had incurred a heavier penalty." Lesson: Revenge will hurt the avenger.
Students can be initiated to parables from other cultures and philosophies or religions to demonstrate similar and varying ethical stances. Here is a Buddhist parable, the type normally spoken at talks after meditation.
The Hungry Dog
There was a great king who oppressed his people and was hated by his subjects; yet when the Tathagata came into his kingdom, the king desired much to see him. So he went to the place where the Blessed One stayed and asked: "O Sakyamuni, canst thou teach a lesson to the king that will divert his mind and benefit him at the same time?"
And the Blessed One said: "I shall tell thee the parable of the hungry dog:
There was a wicked tyrant; and the god Indra, assuming the shape of a hunter, came down upon earth with the demon Matali, the latter appearing as a dog of enormous size. Hunter and dog entered the palace, and the dog howled so woefully that the royal buildings shook by the sound to their very foundations. The tyrant had the awe-inspiring hunter brought before his throne and inquired after the cause of the terrible bark. The hunter said, "The dog is hungry," whereupon the frightened king ordered food for him. All the food prepared at the royal banquet disappeared rapidly in the dog's jaws, and still he howled with portentous significance. More food was sent for, and all the royal store-houses were emptied, but in vain. Then the tyrant grew desperate and asked: "Will nothing satisfy the cravings of that woeful beast?" "Nothing," replied the hunter, "nothing except perhaps the flesh of all his enemies." "And who are his enemies?" anxiously asked the tyrant. The hunter replied: "The dog will howl as long as there are people hungry in the kingdom, and his enemies are those who practice injustice and oppress the poor." The oppressor of the people, remembering his evil deeds, was seized with remorse, and for the first time in his life he began to listen to the teachings of righteousness."
Having ended his story, the Blessed One addressed the king, who had turned pale, and said to him:
"The Tathagata can quicken the spiritual ears of the powerful, and when thou, great king, hearest the dog bark, think of the teachings of the Buddha, and thou mayest still learn to pacify the monster."
Explore Proverbs. These are often presented as Values statements The grass is always greener on the other side: what other people have looks better than what we have ourselves.
If we are looking at a key concept such as respect consider other media that may explore such a term. Look at e.g. pop songs and their lyrics. A word search of the CD Now site will show when ‘respect’ is used in songs.
Can you find the lyrics elsewhere?
What you want
See if you can find paintings that explore such concepts. This is a good and alternative way of introducing students to ethical concepts. Norman Rockwell’s paintings often cover key concepts. The picture below called The Problem We All Live With shows a young Negro American girl being escorted to school during racial tensions. A tomato has been thrown at her. What respect is she being shown? The issue – should black Americans attend this school? Do all children have the right to attend schools? Discuss the issue with the class. Why would some people be protesting? How could people respond in sorting out this problem?
Classical painting has also been extremely valuable in exploring ethical positions. In the days when most people were illiterate, paintings told stories and reinforced moral positions that people were expected to take up in society. Here is a reading of the painting The Ambassadors by Holbein. It demonstrates the many subtle points placed in the painting by the artist. This is very true of many classical paintings where something as simple as a set of scales was meant to represent the justice of the individual portrayed.
How do we have ethical principles reinforced nowadays? You may like to explore drink driving, anti smoking or anti smacking or anti logging campaigns that can be represented by television or print adverts – new ways of reinforcing values!
What is this man thinking? What is he feeling? Explore the life of a tree.
As students develop they become even more aware of the complexity of issues and the difficulties in applying ethical positions. This is because ethical positions can so widely vary. Abortion to one person may be seen as a choice or a right, to another as a form of murder. Similarly some people may see war as an inevitable means to an end, violence justifying an ultimate peace. To others war is simply murder and is immoral.
An interesting example of the fine line between war and murder is in the extraordinary stories of the Japanese soldiers who held out on islands for many years after the second world war, unaware that the war had ended and still in military roles.
Hiroo Onoda stayed on Lubang Island in the Philippines until 1974 when he was finally encouraged to believe that the war had ended. Onoda became a national hero – a man recognised as being incredibly loyal to the cause of Japan. While his book No Surrender: My Thirty Years War is a fascinating account of guerilla warfare, and sheer survival, the story has slowly been reappropriated over time. Was Onoda a murderer? It is claimed that he killed over twenty locals in the years after the war to his eventual discovery. It is also argued to what extent he is being used as a symbol for the right wing in Japan. People who are survivors of tragedies can become heroes and represent particular values. At the same time did they originally operate on these values or have they been used for the values and gains of others?
Here is a website
giving an overview of Japanese
Elephants Are Different to Different People
Wilson and Pilcer and Snack stood before the zoo elephant.
Wilson said, "What is its name? Is it from Asia or Africa? Who feeds it? Is it a he or a she? How old is it? Do they have twins? How much does it cost to feed? How much does it weigh? If it dies, how much will another one cost? If it dies, what will they use the bones, the fat, and the hide for? What use is it besides to look at?"
Pilcer didn't have any questions; he was murmuring to himself, "It's a house by itself, walls and windows, the ears came from tall cornfields, by God; the architect of those legs was a workman, by God; he stands like a bridge out across the deep water; the face is sad and the eyes are kind; I know elephants are good to babies."
Snack looked up and down and at last said to himself, "He's a tough son-of-a-gun outside and I'll bet he's got a strong heart, I'll bet he's strong as a copper-riveted boiler inside."
"Sunday comes only once a week," they told each other.
Explore how we can see the world differently. Take e.g a cow and explore the many different ways that it can be viewed and differing values we can attach to it.
What if you are: A Hindu, Farmer, Vegetarian, Child, or Vet?
The following song from the first edition of The Creative Teaching Space explores the perspective of a Taliban fighter: Outside of the Inside (from The Old Kit Bag album) by Richard Thompson. Songs, poetry or photographs are excellent for taking us into another persons’ perspective and values. How might a fanatic see the world? How is it different from our own? Is it important to try and step into the shoes of others? Why? How can we change another person’s values? The concept of change in values is a good introductory activity to Standard Five.
Students can explore how ethical concepts may be difficult to apply. What appears to be ‘fair’ or ‘just’ to one person may be completely different to another. After all fanatics believe they are being just even though they are being violent. To explore how terms such as ‘fair’ or ‘just’ differ simply ask for and compare definitions and examples within the classroom. Some people think that capital punishment is fair and just. How would your perception of capital punishment change if you were part of a victim’s family, the criminal, the criminal’s family or an outsider? You may even like to refer back to the invented character, Sharna, from earlier. Interview differing people in her life and investigate how they might see set incidents. Students may even like to interview their parents, or grandparents, to see how their values differ.
Let students explore the ethics of the typical Spam from Nigeria. Here is a useful way of working with Spam rather than hitting the ‘Block Sender’ button!
How ethical is the letter below? How does it play with the reader? Why would such a scam come out of Nigeria? Investigate the nation.
Here is a website that documents scams from Nigeria – and yes they are a big part of their economy.
The Nigerian Scam is, according to published reports, the Third to Fifth largest industry in Nigeria. Your students may even like to explore the ethics of chain letters.
The more sophisticated students become in their understandings of Being Ethical so they become even more alert to the complexity in ethics – grey areas and the tug between personal values and social responsibility. Students also see how values change over time and how they are affected by external circumstances. Also students should become even more aware of differing ethical positions across societies and universal concepts such as international rights.
Any current social issue can be explored within the context of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Some issues at stake in Australia at the time of writing this edition of the magazine have included in Tasmania the right for same sex couples to adopt children – not accepted – and the banning of the film Ken Park by the National Censorship Board. Do people have the right to choose what films they want to see? Should an official body have the right to ban a film? Students may like to take issues such as these and explore them in depth. How do stances differ? Does the same sex adoption issue conflict with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Does this declaration hold up across cultures? What if one lives in a very conservative and religious state? Should not these people have a right to decide? Is this not democracy? What about the rights of a minority though? Students may like to discover the many minority groups that exist within our society.
Five Ways to Kill a Man
are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.
As the above poem suggests viloence has been very much a constant throughout the ages. It has been surrounded by all sorts of paraphernalia and political contexts. Ethical decisions don’t operate in isolation. Personal ethics can clash with a country’s ethics. Ethics can clash within and across countries. Sometimes whole cultures can follow unethical political decisions such as genocide – Rwanda, Cambodia, Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia. People can also represent moral stances – Alexander Solzhenitsyn or Nelson Mandela. Who are the heroes of your students? Why are they heroes? What values do they represent?
Students can create their own ethical questions e.g. Should people be allowed to be killed by others? Similarly they can ask ethical questions that represent dilemmas. The Ethical dilemmas website shows just how difficult it can be to take positions. Many contradictions and moral problems come up.
is the morally right thing to do in the following cases?
A rich man and a poor man commit the same type of crime. The rich man is fined $10,000 while the poor man is sent to jail for one year. Is this fair?
You are shopping and notice a woman stuffing a pair of stockings into her purse. Do you report her?
You are waiting with a few other people to board a bus. The bus pulls up and before you can board the driver gets out and goes into the convenience store to get a coffee. You are the last to get on the bus. Do you pay your fare?
is 3 a.m. and you are late getting home. As you approach the intersection
you notice that no one is around. Do you drive through the red light?
In Dostoyevsky's novel Crime and Punishment the main character plots and carries out the murder of an old woman who has a considerable amount of money in her apartment. After killing her, he steals the money. He argues that 1) she is a malicious old woman, petty, cantankerous and scheming, useless to herself and to society (which happens to be true), and her life causes no happiness to herself or to others; and 2) her money if found after her death would only fall into the hands of chisellers anyway. Whereas he would use it for his education. Is this action justified?
The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock contains many excellent questions that you and your students can similarly construct. These often present a conundrum as the choices have value either way e.g.
Would you be willing to go to a slaughterhouse and kill a cow?
Do you eat meat? If there was a public execution on television would you watch it?
For a $ 1 000 000 would you be willing to never again see or talk to your best friend?
You could make up questions such as:
Would you ------------ if you knew it was going to benefit--------------?
Cut off your arm for ten million to charity?
Sell your possessions to pay for a life saving operation for friend?
Take a million dollars for charity to participate in the execution of a child molester?
See what sorts of questions that you can come up with.
Explore ethical positions in insightful and deeply personal songs:
good am I if I say foolish things
So who really did kill Davey Moore? Is a part of ethics passing the buck and not taking any responsibility? Who does the buck stop with?
jealousy, can bring down a nation
jealousy, started a rumour
say the truth is, stranger than fiction
jealousy makes other people crazy
jealousy, makes no exception
only requirement is to, know what is needed
Explore Ethics within the movies. Cowboys carry particular moral stances that have had a very big impact not only within the movies but how some of us may see masculinity. Even to this day Bruce Dern gets insulted for having killed John Wayne’s character in the film The Cowboys. What does this tell us about Wayne and his iconic status? What other film stars have represented ethical positions? Is this the reason why the recently deceased Gregory Peck is most remembered and revered for his role in To Kill a Mockingbird?
Would you believe that there is even a book called The Simpsons and Philosophy: The Doh! of Homer? It looks at ethics within this family. Your students may like to investigate the ethics and values within televisions favorite families: The Addams Family, Happy Days or The Brady Bunch. What values are being expressed? Look at the values and ethical positions within your favorite TV shows.
Just for the fun of it explore and change the ethical and moral positions in fairy tales. A number of texts have been written on Politically correct fairy tales. Perhaps your students can rewrite them according to certain moral and ethical perspectives. Could be lots of fun!
You might like to also investigate what strategic computer games are available that allow students to make ethical decisions.
Students may like to scrutinise Ethics statements available on the net to see the concepts and the types of language that they use. Here is an example:
An educational administrator's professional behavior must conform to an ethical code. The code must be idealistic and at the same time practical, so that it can apply reasonably to all educational administrators. The administrator acknowledges that the schools belong to the public they serve for the purpose of providing educational opportunities to all. However, the administrator assumes responsibility for providing professional leadership in the school and community. This responsibility requires the administrator to maintain standards of exemplary professional conduct. It must be recognized that the administrator's actions will be viewed and appraised by the community, professional associates, and students. To these ends, the administrator subscribes to the following statements of standards.
Finally, examine the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and relate an issue to it. Does a person with a disability, who has no wheelchair access to a cinema, fit within this framework? What about other minority issues? You may also like to use a process of closure where students have to identify missing words within the text.
Everyone has the right to ----------. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be ----------.. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
Education shall be directed to the full development of the human ----------. and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and ----------. among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
----------. have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their ----------..
Imagine taking an alien perspective and looking at an area of study as if through new eyes. How would an alien view the material? Try and remove it from a human view. What new meanings start to emerge?
While this is an exercise of the imagination your students should be able to come up with many interesting perspectives. Wars may be seen as human weakness, people as curious oddities that behave strangely. In Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse Five Billy Pilgrim is put into a glass cage by aliens who watch him, and his mate, as if they are animals in the zoo. This was one of many creative techniques that Vonnegut used to create new perspectives on the events of the Second World War. It is as if an alien perspective was needed – humanity needed to get beyond its own cruel perspectives.
Imagine the many ways that aliens (if there are any) may view us. Most scientific films portray aliens as vicious invaders. Why? Compare these to E.T. In the underrated film Explorers the aliens first encountered are in fact children. The aliens have not wanted to visit earth and see the human race as extremely cruel. They have built up a very distorted view of mankind based on their belief that intercepted media transmissions e.g. science fiction movies are real representations of mankind.
What would aliens see if they arrived on earth at a particular time? How would an alien perceive a television or microwave oven? An alien perspective may be a great opportunity of exploring cargo cults and first encounters. Humans see the world as if through alien eyes. What did New Guinea tribesman see when they saw aeroplanes for the first time. What did aborigines see when they first saw ships?
Explore how people from ancient cultures may view western man. The John Frum cargo cult is a fascinating example of how an event has been reappropriated into a culture’s myth.
The stories of First Contact are like alien encounters, often tragic moments that mark a substantial change for one culture. Here is a link to the fascinating Australian documentary First Contact. One story in this documentary is how New Guinea tribesmen, in first contact with whites demanded that the men pull down their trousers – the assumption: we wear small loin clothes to cover ourselves, so these men must be extremely well endowed to wear so much cloth.
We have probably attended slide shows in our lives – some interesting, some incredibly boring. Your students may like to explore the phenomenon of the slide show and how this is increasingly being extended into electronic photography and the display of information via jazzy computer programs.
What do people capture on slides? What does this tell us about them? What slides may have been taken by a famous person from history? What commentary can be added to slides during a slide show. The Australian comedian Glen Robbins once created a character called Uncle Arthur who would present film nights to family and friends. His commentary was very funny – one man’s fascination can be totally boring yet also hilarious to another.
Your students may like to borrow a camera and take slides and present a show either on a screen or via a computer or PowerPoint presentation. They may also be interested in finding and presenting older slides from home. The last slide show I went to was of Ballarat in the 1950s. It was a most interesting show as I could see how things had changed. You may even be able to find old slides tucked away in a cupboard at work.
It may also be worth exploring the history of slides. I will never forget the wonderful opportunity I had in visiting Llandrindod Wells in England. I happened to visit a museum just before it officially opened. I was given a delightful tour of the many Victorian projectors and slides that a collector had acquired. Many were very beautiful. This culminated in a showing of slides. This area of entertainment predated yet inspired cinema. Increasingly slides became more sophisticated in how they represented scenes. With special levers some allowed the scene to move from day to night. Others showed characters that moved or simply exotic locations foreign to the Victorian eye. The techniques created a visual need in the audience that was later picked up by the penny arcade viewers and the eventual evolution of moving pictures. Slide shows were one of the first examples in which art, and eventual photography, merged with technology to create cinematic experiences.
I will never forget those nights as a child in which I would turn off the light and put on my magic lantern. Images would come to life in the intimacy of the dark. There is certainly a world created in slide photography as its viewing requires a projector and the dark. Even to this day National Geographic photographers still like to work on slide film. Its texture is different and tends to bring a greater depth, texture and light to the portrayal of people or places.
Rene Magritte man in bowler hat:
The Man in the Bowler Hat
A. S. J. Tessimond
am the unnoticed, the unnoticable man:
am the man too busy with a living to live,
am the man they call the nation's backbone,
am the rails on which the moment passes,
am the led, the easily-fed,
http://plagiarist.com/ (Naughty Us)
Imagine the world from a child’s perspective. Remember how places once seemed much larger to your child eyes. How does the world look from a ‘closer to ground’ perspective? How do meanings change?
Here is a photograph from Jacques-Henri Lartigue: In My Room: Collection of my Racing Cars, 1905
Explore the life story of Jacques-Henri Lartigue.
As a child he was given his first camera and he photographed for most of his long life. Much of his photography has a natural charm as if the skill was developed in the play and unself-consciousness of growing up. Look at the Instants from a Life Link on this broad site.
year has passed since I wrote my note
(Message in a Bottle : the Police)
Let students create their own messages in a bottle and launch them into the sea. Students can also create their own messages and email them to others who can put the message into a far distant ocean. Message in a Bottle Server.
There is a lot of tremendous science to be learned from the movement of bottles or junk across the world’s oceans. There is even the famous case of a scientist who, when realizing that a container full of rubber duckies had been lost at sea, saw the opportunity to chart the movement of the pacific. The date of the container loss was reported and this was cross-matched with the duckies washing up on shore.
Imagine that a bottle has washed up on a nearby shore – use a balloon if you are in land. The bottle was written at a particularly time in history, from a particular person in the time of the area that you are studying. What was written? Why was it sent?
You could even explore its being found at an earlier time. What did the person do with the message? Students could write a story or diary of the movement of a bottle. What lands did it come near? What shipping? How did land vary? How has technology changed in the years since it was released? The message is very discolored and unreadable. What scientific techniques can be employed to reveal light on what it says and who wrote it? What if the message reveals new truths on an event? What if it was released during wartime? Why? What would it say?
It could even be written by an escaped convict such as the quite extraordinary story of Mary Bryant’s escape from Tasmania:
Here are some interesting examples of message in a bottle stories. They may stimulate ideas in your students: Message bottles in history.
Heard Island is a fascinating and pristine island in the Southern Ocean under the dominion of Australia. Scientists have to regularly clear its beaches of debris that has washed in from distant places – mostly lost buoys – yet also plastics that have worked their way into the food chain.
© Copyright In Clued - Ed 2009