Thursday, November 19, 2009

Success and Compromise

Yesterday I checked my Facebook live feed and saw that Lauren, a friend from California that I met during my time at the University of Hawaii, posted a Youtube video of PS22's Choir singing Lady Gaga's Just Dance. You can see that she and a few others didn't warmly embrace their choice of music.

Because I was lightly familiar with the Choir's background because I was exposed to one of their Stevie Nick's performances in my Educational Media class here at U. South Alabama, I brushed her comment off as a prejudice reaction. But then I got to thinking about the implications that these performances are creating. When does creating opportunities for celebrities to inspire and encourage our youth cross moral lines. These kids are being praised and encouraged to sing songs by celebrities like Kanye who are insulting other celebrities in their lyrics and on stage or by Lady Gaga who's lyrics promote alcohol recklessness and sexual promiscuity. Sure, these kids are talented-- but should their talent be exploited in order to gain the attention of people who earn their merit by singing about their partying lifestyles.

The bad sentiment that was building in my mind was further enforced when I watched two extremely talented kids singing "Run This Town" and "The Climb". Then, just when I was most impressed, the choir director prods one of the singer's young brother to "tell us a mean story about Tirzah." He then instigates a dialogue between the siblings consisting of tattle-tale and beating each other up. Of course their was no serious maliciousness going on-- but shouldn't teachers rise find positive ways to create relationships with their students and make them laugh?

At this point, I haven't decided whether or not I think it is healthy for the children to be exposed to some of these celebrities just because they are famous. On the one hand, these kids have already established many of these singers as heroes. They are going to listen and sing their lyrics beyond school walls regardless. Perhaps the encouragement that these celebrities are providing is just what these students need to gain the confidence that it takes to achieve success. Who knows?.. these children may even make make celebrities more aware of the impact that they are having on American youth.

To learn more about evolution of PS22 and how they got their start, click here. Watch the video below for an example of their indisputably positive educational performances. They are singing PEMDAS the Pirate which helps teach the mathematical order of operations.
SchoolTube - PS22 Chorus "The PEMDAS Parrot" by Zach Johnson

What do you think about the waves that PS22 are making? What conclusions have you drawn about American culture and education?


  1. I think it is a very touchy subject because some of the lyrics are very inappropriate for 10 year old people to be listening too. I don't want my child to go to school and listen to offensive and vulgar language that only brings up the question " What is a #$#%&*" or something just as appropriate. Now if the parents of the children (and they are ten years old) think that is alright, then that is there call. I understand the sentiments of the mother who speaks about her child and how expressive she is now because of the class and she wants to hold her back so she can continue; the point is that if she feels that way then she knows everyone in the group and can continue to allow her daughter to PROGRESS instead of holding her back. I know that is not what she meant, but she should act in the best interest of her daughter and let her flourish....she should have acted in the best interest of her daughter and not allowed a song like that to be played in front of her....she should be a parent and set an example.....both creativity and sensitivity can be accomplished and the lesson would have been better served.

    In my opinion, and it is only my opinion, the program is great but the material is terrible. So they have heard the song before (they should not have) and that makes it alright. They learned a math problem using song, now they learn that women are street corner trash in song!!! GREAT!!!

  2. Speaking as a woman and for women......are you kidding me???!!! This is a disgrace!

    However, most of the marketing today for clothing, music, ipods, and even the Disney Channel is laser focused on tweens and younger.
    Very sad......

  3. I was just checking the blog post requirements associated with this topic, and I decided to fulfill mine as a comment.

    Why is it important for students to publish their work?

    Ultimately, the purpose of students publishing their work, however that may be, is to help them take pride in their work because they know it will be seen (or at least accessible) by an audience disassociated with their class room experience.

    I see examples of students success everywhere I turn. Albeit, newspaper articles for their school or local newspapers, literature contests, small books like HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS by Alec Greven.

    Two of the most significant examples of online publishing I came across were Eagle's Nest Radio and Class Blog's Roamin' With The Ancient Romans and Pt England School's Room 10 Class Blog. As a whole, each of these blogs demonstrated most impressive journalistic, creative, narrative, and scripting skills. Their blogs are a testament to students potential globally. It's a shame to think about how many students' potential are going unused, but on the flip side-- these kids sure are inspiring!

  4. Well I have to say this is a hard one! Yes those kids are very talented! We can't take that from them, but no they should not be listening to that kind of music. Now, I can not be hypocritical either. My favorite kind of music is Pop, Rap, and R&B. We all know what kind of lyrics that music has. I feel as long as those children carry themselves in a descent matter,it doesn't matter what they listen to and sing. Just because they are singing the song doesn't mean they agree with the words of the song and are doing those actions. If that was the case for example, we should not go to school. I say that because everything we learn in school we don't agree with now do we? ( religion topics) But, we still learn about them and know what they are? We don't, as moral people, like the explicit lyrics, but we must understand that they are here. Here, In America we have the freedom of speech. That kind of music is out here. Honestly, I don't even think parents should hide these things from their children because a friend from school, a neighbor, or even a commercial will expose them.
    So, just raise your children right and hope when they are not around you that they will still honor your words. Remember just because you hide things from your children, don't think they don't know because they DO!!!!!

  5. Thanks for the insight Tresher. I knew I could count on you to diversify! I agree that we should positively expose our children to many different things. However, I think we should set an example for them by choosing our music consciously, and like you said, we should live our lives accordingly.

    Thanks again.

  6. @Thresher please understand that I am in favor of exposing my children to all of life's ups and downs and that I am also in control of what my child is or is not exposed too. While not every kid or teaching fits in a box and can be neatly packaged, the box that I am talking about needs only accommodate my daughter. I will try to show my daughter respect by choosing what I believe is right for her; such as no T.V. in my house. Will she be exposed to television, yes, but mainly on my terms. The program is great for aspiring young talent to reach there potential and shine like they have never done before, with or without the demeaning lyrics or meaning, and I see the need to aspire these children. However, as a parent or teacher it is my responsibility to attempt to make sure they have a voice, they are understood, they can reason, they can think, they know the complications of there actions and what that says about them as a person or people. My daughter will be exposed to this yes, but she will not rehearse it at school or in my house as part of a learning experience. What you do with your kids is up to you but my daughter would not be attending the school or I would have sued the school.
    Lastly, the freedom of speech thing is wonderful and one of the pillars of this great nation; Being educated, as my daughter will be, means that you can state your case as far as subjects like religion go and the first amendment also protects your rights to freedom of religious persecution. No one is teaching my children that they should follow a certain BELIEF, she will believe what she wants knowing the facts and be able to come up with her own conclusion. It's not about TRUSTING your daughter not to get pregnant or your son not to get someone pregnant when they are out and about as teenagers, I am 37 and do stupid things all the time, it's about taking care of them and helping them develop--how you do that is your choice, just my feelings is that this one is not appropriate for teachers and students to be involved in.
    @ Anthony I agree that we should positively expose our children or not have them, they are our responsibility and nothing is more important.