Creative Writing

Rationale on Use of Popular Culture in the Classroom

It was a report of using the movie Happy Feet as a popular culture in the Australian High School environment.
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  Rationale on the Use of Popular Culture in the Classroom to Address Social Justice Issues Prepared by Khundakar Nilufar Sharmin (s3493820) Method Area General Science Grade 07 Popular Culture Media used Movie: Happy Feet (2006)  Aim of teaching using the chosen media      To address the aims specified by AusVELS. (The Australian Curriculum in Victoria (2014). Science . Retrieved from     To ensure content structure follows AusVELS standards. (The Australian Curriculum in Victoria (2014). Science . Retrieved from     To provide brief idea about Water Cycle (ACSSU222), Food Chain, Effect of human activities on food chain (ACSSU112), Biodiversity (ACSSU111), Change of understanding with new evidence and discoveries (ACSHE223), problems and solutions that can impact social changes (ACSHE120), Development of practices in marine resource management (ACSHE121), Identify questions and problems (ACSIS124), application of correct equipment and data collection methods (ACSIS126), scientific understanding to identify relationship between investigation and secondary resources to draw conclusion (ACSIS130), Communicate ideas using scientific languages (ACSIS133). (The Australian Curriculum in Victoria (2014). Level 7  . Retrieved from     To provide brief idea about Sustainability following AusVELS guideline. (The Australian Curriculum in Victoria (2014). Science . Retrieved from     To address the Social Judgement issues.    To address disability and to provide the idea of “respect” to each individuals.      To address sexuality and gender inequality and same sex issue.    Racial stereotypes- Latin-inspired penguins are caricatured as party lovers where on the other hand African-American types are presented as oversexed and fundamentalist. Students might come up with their own ideas about the stereotypes.    To help and guide the students understand and get the idea of hidden message of Social  judgement issues.  Addressing the Curriculum of Grade 07 The focus of the lesson would be to develop brief and clear idea of Water Cycle and food chain. The lesson would demonstrate briefly how human activities affect the food chain and eventually  affects the sustainability. In this film we see the different food chains in the nature- krill are food to weals, fishes are to penguins and eventually penguins are to the seals. It also demonstrates how baby penguins are attacked by sea gulls whereas the gulls are afraid of the adult penguins. However when the humans start to catch more fish from that stable food chain, the penguin community started running out of their food. That briefly explains how human activity can impact in the nature and sustainability. This film also shows the different types of penguins like Emperor penguins, Adelie Penguins, Rockhopper penguins, Magellantic penguins etc. and their life cycles. Later on the main character Mumble was rescued in Australian beach and was kept in the Marine World where he tried to communicate with the humans. He was returned to the colony with a tracking device and could manage to provide message through tap dancing to the expedition team against over fishing. When the tap dancing message of the penguin colony was released to the media, people started being aware of the situation and fishing was banned in Antarctic. This shows the right way to act in a problem by creating awareness and to solve it in sustainable way. The pop culture will boost the ideas as well as it will help to understand social  justice issues hidden behind the scene by providing extra thoughts. So this film is ideal for the Grade 07 students to get the ideas of General Science and to get extra thoughts of Social Justice issues as well.  Addressing Social Justice  Individual and group behaviour can change social practices and create evaluation, mass people can change the policies of the law makers- Noah who was the leader of the colony was challenged by Mumble to communicate with the humans. Different does not mean abnormal, every individual is different and unique. We must respect every one as every person has the potential to bring positive change to the society like the main character Mumble. Happy Feet is a perfect example of the social model of disability. Mumble was one of the main characters in Happy Feet. He had a special talent tap dancing however he could not sing like the rest of the tribe. Mumble was rejected by the elder penguins due to his disability; thinking Mumble was leading other penguins astray with his dancing talent. Mumble was the victim of consistent disapproval and failed to graduate with his peers because of his differences despite being good in other areas. He suffered from all of the social prejudice associated with being “abnormal” because he cannot communicate in the “normal” way. He was excluded from the group and was blamed for fish famine. Despite Mumble had a disability, but he also had a special talent where it was accepted by another race of penguins (Mexican Penguins). Tap dancing in the other community was known as an admirable skill that was worth imitating rather than being weird and different. I would like to present Mumble as a disable character who has no vocal talent like other Emperor penguins but who has dancing talent and to encourage the students to enjoy their similarities and to respect the differences (R. Adiilah, Personal Communication, April 05, 2014). In this movie all penguin leaders are males and Heartsongs sing by the male penguins to attract female penguins  –  these reflect the traditional gender stereotypes. However, it also shows female penguins go to fish while the male penguins take care of the eggs in the extreme weather conditions . Main female character Gloria’s strong personality to choose the right mate for  herself establishes gender equality issues in that unequal society. This movie reflects the strong sense of gender equality by leading Gloria to choose Mumble as a mate who doesn’t even has a heartsong. On the other hand we also find two krill named Bill and Will attempting to pursue a same sex relationship. Brad Pitt voiced for Bill and Matt Damon voiced for Will. When I found these two famous actors giving voices for such small characters, I had a feeling that the director is trying to provide a hidden message with these two characters and that is- the same sex relationships, which became more open in the sequel Happy Feet 2. Plan to use the content in the classroom  Grade 07 students are at the beginning of teenage- started to explore their identity, beginning to look at the world in different views. As a Science teacher, my aim is to boost their thinking providing more resources to think of and discuss. Happy feet covers many contents of Science curriculum and I like to use the clips of the movie to explain the students about food chain, life cycles of penguins, different types of penguins, sustainability, impact of human activities on sustainability and research and expeditions. At the same time I want my students to be aware and start thinking about social justice and build their own thinking about the issues. So I would use the clips of the movie to create supportive environment of open discussion about gender equality, disability, racial stereotypes, social practices and social movements, homosexuality etc. whenever it is appropriate. I would suggest my students to see the movie at home before I start showing the clips in the class and apart from addressing the curriculum I’ll have a focus to provide some ideas of social justice issues among them. References:  1.   The Australian Curriculum in Victoria (2014). Science . Retrieved from 2.   The Australian Curriculum in Victoria (2014). Science . Retrieved from 3.   The Australian Curriculum in Victoria (2014). Level 7  . Retrieved from 4.   The Australian Curriculum in Victoria (2014). Science . Retrieved from 5.   R. Adiilah, Personal Communication, April 05, 2014.

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