I showed a short – 7 minute – video clip in my biology class to briefly introduced DNA. It went into some detail about project that a scientist was doing on DNA as an art project – the riddle of life. This particular guy happened to have one peg leg, which became visible about half way through the clip.
At the end, when I was requesting students do a “ticket out the door” … three things they have learned about codes, two questions they have about codes, and one item they want more info on ... one student - now it’s true that this student is not recognized for his academic rigor or focus on work – but nonetheless he did ask - is the man with the art project was a pirate?
I made a teaching decision in the moment to use this as a learning opportunity about brain washing. I asked the class where they saw this notion that displayed people who have a peg leg are a pirate. Over 80% of the class responded they got it from watching television or the movies. I then went on to point out a “what if” …..
Instead showing a pirate with a peg leg in those shows and movies, what if they had shown a pirate as someone addicted to strawberry ice cream, or a person who couldn’t stop reading ….? If either of those was the case, then would they would be thinking differently right now about the fella in the clip? After some time for reflection and class discussion the majority of class agreed with me - their impression would be different.
Hey, I’m all for entertainment. This is just one of many potent reminders I see as a teacher about the power that television and movies HAS on young minds – the future leaders of our world.