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Excerpt to Curriculum- Popular Culture Exercise

Excerpt to Curriculum

Objective: To make students aware of how movies, television, print ads, music, and the new arenas of electronic games and the Internet reflect (or distort) reality.

Grade Level: Grades 4 through 12.

Time: 40-minute introduction; research time; presentation time; letter-writing time.

Materials: Television set, lyrics from current popular songs, newspapers and popular magazines, electronic games, and the Internet (with graphics). If all of these media are not readily available, choose from among those that are.

Procedure: Divide the class into 5 to 10 research teams. Brainstorm together to pick:

  • two popular television shows
  • five popular songs
  • two popular newspapers (if they are available-one targeted toward each gender)
  • one magazine for general audiences
  • two to four electronic games
  • and, if possible, five sites your students like on the Internet
Assign one medium to each group and give them a time limit in which to complete their research.

Have each group write down the name of each show, song, magazine, etc. For each, analyze how the two genders are represented in terms of:

  • Is this a leading role?
  • Physical descriptions
  • Emotional characteristics
  • Personality
  • Mannerisms
  • Language

Relationship to Other Gender:
The following questions might also serve as a research guide:

  1. How many men are shown in demeaning roles? How many women? What determines whether a role is demeaning?
  2. Who are usually the decision makers -men or women?
  3. What are the males' strengths and weaknesses?
  4. What are the females' strengths and weaknesses?

On the day designated for reporting and wrapping up, have each team summarize for the rest of the class its findings in terms of physical descriptions, emotional characteristics, personality, and mannerisms for the male and female characters respectively. As each research team reports, use the chalkboard to synthesize the summaries.

Ask students to discuss these questions:

  • What does each medium say about male and female roles?
  • How does the medium you examined mirror reality in terms of male and female roles? Are most people in the real world like these characters?
  • Does any one medium stand out as realistic or unrealistic?

Remind students that media purveyors often claim that they only "give the public what it wants." Have the students write a letter to the executive in charge of the medium they analyzed explaining the project and their findings.

Adapted from "TV-A Mirror of Reality," School-to-Work Jumpstart Equity Kit, WEEA Equity Resource Center, 1995, p. 40.

The above excerpt was from Raising the Grade, a curriculum about Title IX. It is available from WEEA in the Spring of 1998. Call 800-793-5076 to order.



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