Wednesday, October 04, 2006

show and tell

yesterday in digital democracy we discussed chapter six of tv reed's the art of protest. the chapter is called "we are [not] the world": famine, apartheid, and the politics of rock music." among other things, reed examines four rock events/spectacles: do they know it's christmas?, we are the world, sun city, and the nelson mandela concert.

reed uses these four events - two famine related; two anti-apartheid - to explore the relationship between rock music and social justice. through reed's lens, song/video/anthem thingies like do they know it's christmas? and we are the world are sort of noble efforts that are extremely problematic - racially, culturally, politically, economically. at the same time, through tv's lens, song/video/organizational thingies like sun city and the concert for nelson mandela are genuinely subversive and oppositional messages made and distributed through genuinely unsubversive and hegemonic structures of mass/consumer media. it's an excellent chapter.

when class began at 1:30, there were eight students, which means that nine ere missing. lame. so i gave a quiz - three questions, totally easy (Q: what was sun city opposed to? A: apartheid). within the next two to three minutes, eight students arrived - some as i barked out quiz question number one, some in the middle of the quiz, and some near the end of the quiz. by the time i finished the quiz, sixteen out of seventeen students were in class. when the quizzes were passed to me, i counted eight. the late students never even asked if they could take the quiz. i consider that a sign of integrity; i was impressed. i hope that cures the lateness problem.

speaking of timing, i was way off and we only covered about three-fourths of the chapter. we ran out of time for two reasons. first, we may have spent too much time in the first hour talking about the field trip, discussing an opportunity to serve as student representatives on a USF task force on online communities (facebook, myspace, blogs), and talking about the recent activities of former congressman mark foley. second, we had so much to say. this was easily the loudest, most participatory class period we've had. suddenly, it's 3:12, and we have three minutes left before class is dismissed.

i divided the class into four groups of four. each of them was assigned an event: do they know it's christmas?, we are the world, etc. i told them: "for thursday, bring to class as much as you can find - video, song, concert, lyrics. download anything you can and bring it to class. and one thing: in addition to bringing videos, etc, bring something that is really weird and interesting." so tomorrow, after a brief discussion of some of the things in the chapter we missed on tuesday, students will present in groups what they have found.

in the past, it would be me - as the TA, the graduate instructor, the professor - who would supply the media. now - if all goes well - it's the students. in the past, i'd cart in a tv + vcr and show them my videotapes of brazil or bladerunner or total recall. now, they search youtube, google video, and the prelinger archives. the students will find stuff and store it on their laptops or ipods. then, in class (a room that supports wireless) they'll share their findings.

i haven't ditched my old beat up copy of total recall but i'll take student show and tells over professor show and tells any day.


Contolini said...

it's a good thing reading your blog on a daily basis makes up for missed quizzes. good thing. good thing...

david silver said...

hee hee, yes!

i should start giving secret quizzes through my blog.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

And how did it turn out? What wild and weird things were discovered and shared? God, I've got to *loosen up*.