Wordsmith.org: the magic of words

Wordsmith Talk

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  

Page 1 of 5 1 2 3 4 5 >
Topic Options
#68387 - 05/01/02 07:43 AM Corporate Curriculum
Fiberbabe Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/12/01
Posts: 771
Loc: Portland, Oregon
I was recently entranced by Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, and I'm dying to get your collective take on some of his tenets. The connection to words is tenuous, although I can assure you that the book is *exclusively* written in them.

One revelation he makes (at least it was a surprise to me) is corporate sponsorship of teaching materials. Set aside the "beverage partnerships" that Coke and Pepsi make with school districts, the barrage of advertising that accompanies the "essential current events" on the Channel One system, this offends me on a far deeper level:


"The spiraling cost of textbooks has led thousands of American school districts to use corporate-sponsored teaching materials. A 1998 study of these teaching materials by the Consumers Union found that 80% were biased, providing students with incomplete or slanted information that favored the sponsor's products and views. Procter & Gamble's Decision Earth program taught that clear-cut logging was actually good for the environment; teaching aids distributed by the Exxon Education Foundation said that fossil fuels created few environmental problems and that alternative sources of energy were too expensive; a study guide sponsored by the American Coal Foundation dismissed fears of a greenhouse effect, claiming that 'the earth could benefit rather than be harmed from increased carbon dioxide.' The Consumers Union found Pizza Hut's Book It! Program - which awards a free Personal Pan Pizza to children who reach targeted reading levels - to be 'highly commercial.' About 20 million elementary school students participated in Book It! during the 1999-2000 school year; Pizza Hut recently expanded the program to include a million preschoolers.
"Lifetime Learning Systems is the nation's largest marketer and producer of corporate-sponsored teaching aids. The group claims that its publications are used by more than 60 million students every year. 'Now you can enter the classroom through custom-made learning materials created with your specific marketing objectives in mind,' Lifetime Learning said in one of its pitches to corporate sponsors. 'Through these materials, your product or point of view becomes the focus of discussions in the classroom,' it said in another, '...the centerpiece in a dynamic process that generates long-term awareness and lasting attitudinal change.' The tax cuts that are hampering America's schools have proved to be a marketing bonanza for companies like Exxon, Pizza Hut, and McDonald's. The money that these corporations spend on their 'educational' materials is fully tax-deductible."


Sorry for the length of the quote, but I felt the context was necessary.

Now, I remember back in 7th or 8th grade (circa 1982-84) when some random lady came into the health classroom, and the teacher asked all the girls to go with her, while the boys stayed in the classroom with the teacher. We went off to another room, and were given "the talk" about menstruation. Throughout her presentation, she never referred to just "tampons" or "pads", it was always "Tampax tampons" and "Kotex pads". I didn't even get it until much later - I was unaware enough to believe at the time that she was talking about four separate items: tampax, tampons, kotex, and pads - and I didn't get the distinction among them. So obviously this tactic isn't a huge innovation, but either advertising wasn't as pervasive/impactful then as it is now, or maybe the topic doesn't provide a solid basis for comparison, or maybe I just lived under a rock.

Is anyone else as horrified by this state of affairs as I am? If/when I have children, is home-schooling my only option to protect my kid(s) from corporate brainwashing?


Top
#68388 - 05/01/02 09:06 AM Re: Corporate Curriculum
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
20 years ago, there was less of it, but it was always an issue. When the PTA did programs (say an after school functions, it was very temping to accept McDonald offer of a bevage cooler and free bug juice(sweet, vaguely fruit flavored water)... but it came in a big Yellow barrel with a banner, and "a server" and Mc Donald cups and did want goody bags? full of advertizement?

since NYC school are "open" we had about 20% of the kids in the school bussed in from other areas. most of these kids had fewer economic resourses.

all the free stuff from McDoodoos would have meant more stuff for the kids and more profits for the PTA -- and our pta was busy then buying computers. (a small, 300 student school had a computer lab with 5 computers in 1990-- many school don't have that many yet!)

one of the problems was, about half of us felt we didn't want McDooDoos stuff, because it was to full of ads, and the other half felt, Hey, the kids like McDoodoos, and its free, and the kids see commercials all the time on TV (and a good 20% of us agins, either didn't have TV's, or strictly curtailed TV watching, and limited to PBS! but those all for it, though we were just too weird!)

There is no free lunch, but schools all over US seem to think there is... corporate sponsership is not free!

_________________________
my other obsession

Top
#68389 - 05/03/02 02:57 PM Re: Corporate Curriculum
Flatlander Offline
addict

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 428
Loc: Cape Cod, MA, US
Is anyone else as horrified by this state of affairs as I am? If/when I have children, is home-schooling my only option to protect my kid(s) from corporate brainwashing?

I think you make great (and in some ways frightening) points, FB, but let me play Devil's Advocate for a minute:

It is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid being barraged with advertising everywhere you turn. I just read an article about Boston signing a deal with a German company that will (in exchange for providing the city public toilets and bus kiosks) install "street furniture" (which used to mean benches and trash cans, but now seems to mean free-standing advertising signs) all over the city. Even walking down the street ad-free is impossible. Maybe we should be using the implied "ads" in our kids school lunches and textbooks as "teachable moments". Ask them "So why do you think McDonalds put its name on that cooler? Why does this company pay for your textbook?" and teach them to be *aware* of the haze of advertising that will (increasingly, no doubt) surround them. I've heard recently about the excellent job Canada seems to be doing teaching "media awareness" to kids, and I think the US should take a page out of their book.

I haven't read Fast Food Nation, and I imagine I would be pretty shocked by it (the stuff in your quote about Exxon-sponsored environmental education is particularly scary), but I do think that attempting to keep our lives free of advertising is like trying to bail out a boat with a sieve, unfortunately.


Top
#68390 - 05/03/02 03:29 PM Re: Corporate Curriculum
boronia Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 02/18/02
Posts: 322
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I've heard recently about the excellent job Canada seems to be doing teaching "media awareness" to kids

I don't know how excellent a job we're doing, but here's an example: there's a hilarious ad on TV about house-hippos, done as a nature show vignette, complete with very cute graphics. At the end, the narrator reminds us viewers to question what we see on TV, since it often looks believable, even when we know it probably can't be true.


Top
#68391 - 05/03/02 03:34 PM Re: Corporate Curriculum
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
Yes, it is important to teach children that almost everything they read or see, is expressing a point of view. -- i tried to do it.. and so did ex, but still, when my daughter went to Japan, she came back and said "newpapers lie!" (it was 10 years ago she went, at the height of US japan bashing, with the claims that Japan was a closed market to US goods.)

of course what she found was 7/11's, selling Saran wrap, and Kelloggs corn flakes, and winston cigarettes, and ever ready batteries, and kodak film, and so on, and so on.. now there might have been some real substance to claims that japanes markets were harder for US companies to get into, and that Kodak film was much more expensive than Fiji film, but the markets in many places were not closed.

and she also noticed in a US car dealership, that none of the cars on display (a great big whopping 2!), or the US cars in the used car lot (again, not many), had been designed with the steering wheel on the rigtht.

it hard for kids to seperate out wheat from chaff.. and if they get sold a false bill of goods--its harder still.. even when you try to teach them.

again, i think we are a self selected group here.. i am smart, and pretty well read, but i recognize i don't have a first class degree.. and i know there is a difference-- and not all college degrees are the same.. and i also know, some here do have first class educations, some because of formal schooling, some because they were very dilligent in the school of hard knocks.

but, there are many (its scary just how many!) college graduates who know nothing! -- or have only the vaguest idea about things, and think, because they read one book, or took one 1 credit course --they know something! I hang out here, because, i know my vast sum of knowledge-- mile wide it might be, is a mere mircon think in most places.. and there are many here with knowledge that is miles deep! i am just smart enough, and educated enough to know, i know almost nothing!

and to expect that this vast majority of people can distingish between quality and trash.. it expecting more than you have a right to!

the world has changed rapidly, the vast sum of information that is needed today is so much greater than ever before, and kids are being raised by parents who don't know what to look for, what to expect, what is needed.. they are clue-less.

what is the solution? time.. a hundred and fifty years ago, poor peasants got thrown off the farms, and thrust into the city... and their great grandchildern are still playing catch up.



_________________________
my other obsession

Top
#68392 - 05/03/02 05:09 PM Re: Corporate Curriculum
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
>teaching kids to decode advertising

It seems to be pretty well covered here in the UK. My eleven year old has just finished a project on advertising and sits through TV adverts discussing what they are selling and the various messages. I think that children are far more media aware than my generation ever was (and we are a lot more aware than our parents).

It is the advertising pumped into school as facts that is insidious, the latest thing are the websites that offer homework help. Here's an example of a website touting for adverts: http://www.jiskha.com/contact_jhh/advertise.html – you can apply for a Visa Card whilst learning about Anna Karenina. Children have always written to companies for information about products and manufacturing methods - I remember getting information about sugar production (talking of a product that is steeped in restrictive practices) when I was at school and the corporate website is the perfect way of providing free information. I think that there is some regulation here of what can be included but hard-pressed schools do find it hard to turn down practical support. Most of the schools that I have come across offer a pretty good balance to any of these influences. They are very strong on fashionable areas of ecology (the rain forest seems to be the most often repeated subject on the curriculum here) and issues of exploitation are also covered pretty well in subjects like geography under the headings of the "haves and the have nots".

I've heard a fair bit of discussion about bringing products and money-off vouchers into schools and it certainly happens, although I can't think of a school that I have ever come across letting McDonalds through the door with anything. I think I've seen things with Pizza Hut on them. Coca Cola http://www.rif.org/partnership.html are involved with a reading programme http://www.rif.org/partnership.html, although I've not come across it here. Here’s another view of that sponsorship http://www.saveharry.com/.

There is a double-edged sword. We encourage companies to take their responsibility to the community seriously with Business in the Community, corporate giving and sponsorship schemes then complain about it and throw it back in their face when the offerings are less than squeaky clean. It is said that there is very little totally “clean” money. I have certainly come across the view, in the fundraising world that many of the great trust and foundations build on fortunes that were made in the past were made on the back of cheap labour.

So, whilst I would prefer that advertising was not wrapped up in teaching materials, I think that we should make children aware if the real world that they live in and arm them to deal with the bombardment of advertising that they will certainly face.



Top
#68393 - 05/03/02 07:06 PM Re: Corporate Curriculum
Jazzoctopus Offline
old hand

Registered: 07/03/00
Posts: 1094
Loc: Cincinnati & Loveland, Ohio, U...
Now just a minute here. I happen to have gone to school through a good portion of these "insidious" advertizements and I can assure you that Coke machines and ads in football stadiums have very little, in any, effect on students. Sure, soft drinks aren't the most healthy of choices, but considering that most students drink it anyway, it's not doing any more harm. The only disruption caused by a student going to a Coke machine between classes and bringing the drink into class is an up-tight teacher complaining that it's against the rules and making the student get up and throw it away. Otherwise, there's no problem. If anything, it might make an unmotivated student more alert during a boring lecture.

Billboards in stadiums are generally ignored. There's aimed at the spectators, not the players, and the fans are usually more focused on the game than the advertizements lining the sidelines.

I also watched Channel One through middle school and in social studies classes in high school. Yes, the ads are a little annoying, but they're no different than normal commercials and they're never harmful products. If I remember right, most of them were either skin care products or anti-smoking ads. And Channel One provides free TVs in every classroom to schools who use the program. Aside from the show often being the only current events most students get, the TVs were also, at least in my experience, used quite frequently for videos related to the class.

Certainly I don't think that products should be shoved directly in a person's face, but most ads are just background noise anymore. When someone talks about the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl or Qualcomm Stadium, it doesn't make someone want to rush out and buy some Tostitos corn chips or a Qualcomm cell phone.


Top
#68394 - 05/04/02 10:26 AM Re: Corporate Curriculum
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
RE; but most ads are just background noise anymore. When someone talks about the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl or Qualcomm Stadium, it doesn't make someone want to rush out and buy some Tostitos corn chips or a Qualcomm cell phone.


Do you really think that companies would spend thousand and thousands of dollars on something they don't think is effective?

focus group studies show, advertizing is very effective! kids might not run out and buy tostistos corn chips that very minute, but they will be more likely to buy corn chips than an apple, and even more likely to buy Tostitos. the name tostitos gets associated with something fun, and wholesome!

We've been doing the thread on kids songs over in Misc. Bel points out her nieces don't know these songs.. but all of us over -- well lets say a certain age -- do. why?

because in my childhood, we had to entertain ourselves.. we didn't have radios, or walkman's or tapes, or even to much tv.. we kids sang songs, and some of the songs, as i point out are childe ballads.. songs that came down from the 1600 in england to the bronx in the 1950's.. changed, but still very recognizable.. and they are now gone!

they have been replaced by boy bands, and scoobie doo cartoons, and junk!

my catholic schools had an agenda (and in our history classes, Queen Mary, (Henry VIII's daughter) was good Queen Mary- most other histories refer to her as "Bloody Mary"-- like wise, the spanish inquisition was present to us as a good thing.. bet there is not a lot of agreement with that view of history..

and yes, i grew up, read, and got over it.. but today, kids are constantly bombarded with information.. if they can't trust the information they recieve in text books? what can they trust? how do they learn to make an informed opinion, when all of their sources a biased?

advertizement has become so pervasive, and so incidious, i don't think you realize how much it has shaped your live. and maybe, because you are smart, and lucky enough to have educated parents, and other resources, you are less suseptitable to the influence. but is it a good idea for our society to have our history writen by coke cola? or socialogy taught by standard oil?

huge amount of money are spent on hooking a young kid.. to get them to spend money (or convince their parents to spend money) on McDooDoos, or harry potter, or jurasic park or pokiemans, or what ever the craze of the week is. and it works!

i use the same loose leaf binder for 4 years in HS-- now kids have to have the newest, trendiest, theme one.. every year a new one..

so much has changed.. and its not all bad. but alot of it aint good!

_________________________
my other obsession

Top
#68395 - 05/08/02 07:28 AM Re: Corporate Curriculum
Flatlander Offline
addict

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 428
Loc: Cape Cod, MA, US
We encourage companies to take their responsibility to the community seriously with Business in the Community, corporate giving and sponsorship schemes then complain about it and throw it back in their face when the offerings are less than squeaky clean.

That's a great point, jmh. In my field (historic preservation), funding is always at a premium, but corporate sponsorship is generally treated like nuclear waste. One of the greatest debates I've had with other professionals is to ask them, "If Home Depot (A mega-hardware chain, a la Walmart) wanted to give you $1M a year to run a non-profit preservation advocacy group, with no control over what you did, would you take the money?" Most people I've asked wouldn't (and neither would I, but it is tempting).


Top
#68396 - 05/08/02 10:14 AM Re: Corporate Curriculum
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
give you $1M a year to run a non-profit preservation advocacy group, with no control over what you did (EA)

Are you saying that you would have no control over what you did with the money or that HD would have no control over it? If the former, what would be the point of taking the money, but if the latter what would be the problem?


Top
Page 1 of 5 1 2 3 4 5 >

Moderator:  Jackie 
Forum Stats
8748 Members
16 Forums
13809 Topics
215559 Posts

Max Online: 3341 @ 12/09/11 02:15 PM
Newest Members
grannygoose, BondNickles, bobwar, Johnreed28, Lakshman
8748 Registered Users
Who's Online
1 registered (wsieber), 29 Guests and 4 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters (30 Days)
LukeJavan8 96
endymion6 93
wofahulicodoc 87
A C Bowden 55
Tromboniator 11
tuhin 2
chicablanca 1
Jorg 1
Top Posters
wwh 13858
Faldage 13803
Jackie 11609
tsuwm 10523
Buffalo Shrdlu 7210
LukeJavan8 6607
AnnaStrophic 6511
Wordwind 6296
of troy 5400
BranShea 5282

Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.

Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat

© 2014 Wordsmith