To Let the Kids Decide…

February 21, 2007 at 6:24 pm (English 310)

Although the movie “Supersize Me” does show Morgan Spurlock’s own opinion on the subject and so it is swayed in his direction, what opinion piece doesn’t?  Many people might not agree with the ideas presented by Spurlock, and then there are others who might take what Spurlock says as the be-all-end-all because their opinions on the fast-food industry are similar.  One article I found on Tech Central Station called “Dishing It Out, But Not Taking It” by James K. Glassman says “Supersize Me” is

 “a repulsive and dishonest piece of puerile entertainment — vomit and rectal exams tarted up with sociology and politics.”

Another comment was posted about the movie on the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) by a man who’s screen name is “bob the moo” that took the movie more as I believe it was intended.  He said,

“True, very few people eat McDonalds every day but many, many people do eat foods high in saturated fats everyday even if they are not all happy meals and, in this way, maybe Spurlock’s experiment wasn’t so far-fetched and, lets be honest, like their own lobbyist said – McDonalds are part of the problem.”

The point is, we all know that there is some truth connecting what we eat, how often we eat it, the amount of exercize we get, and how much weight we gain.  Because it is a topic that is debated and argued over a million different ways, why wouldn’t it be a perfect topic to bring into a classroom?

 The movie spurs opinions and makes you think.  How much of it is purposely portrayed the way it is because that is what Spurlock wants us to see, and how much of it can be taken as factual?  Why not let the kids decide?  Education plays an enormous role in having kids decide what is right for them.  And, they are bombarded everyday by countless advertisements for things that aren’t healthy for them, so a movie like “Supersize Me” might do some good in reinforcing the idea of advertising and the power it holds in helping children and teens make decisions about what they eat, drink, wear, drive, and so on.

The point of critical pedagogy is to challenge and question things the students see and experience everyday.  A movie like “Supersize Me” may in fact only show one side of an argument, it may be swayed a certain direction, but if something is presented by a teacher in the right way, then it gets the students to think about all sides of the issue.  What a teacher says to her class, what she feels about a subject becomes a part of the students’  that she teaches.  So, what we have to remember in critical pedagogy is not to get students to believe what we believe, but to get students to think critically about the world around them and their place in it.  Question authority and all of that.  A movie like “Supersize Me” or “Bowling for Columbine” or “An Inconvenient Truth” show students ways they can question what they have always been told by the media, government, parents, etc.  They are useful tools in a critical pedagogy as long as the teacher helps the students to begin questionin in the right ways.

“Dishing It Out, But Not Taking It” Full Article

Comment by “bob the moo” Full Comment

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6 Comments

  1. boundtoreact said,

    I completely agree with what you see as the major lesson in teaching a movie like Supersize Me critically in a classroom. The lesson isn’t centered around the debate of whether McDonald’s will or will not make you fat. What Supersize Me does is give students a piece of work to analyze and ask questions such as what were the filmmakers intentions and is this documentary realistic? Also, students can begin to question certain topics brought up in the film like marketing to children or the obesity problem in the United States. If a teacher can use a movie like this to force students to think critically, it can have a lot of use in the classroom. Nice post.

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  3. eternaltreasure said,

    I definitely agree with you. I love you ideas about empowering students to look at the media and the everyday things around them with a critical eye. This documentary could be used, as you said, if presented appropriately, as a great tool to enhance critical, opinionated writing. You mentioned briefly, though, that it is hard for teachers to pull themselves out of the opinions. True, teachers should not be using critical pedagogy to convert students to the teachers’ personal opinions. I think its sad that, like me, so many students or former students, can name a teacher who did try to force his or her own opinions on students. It is a sketchy area, but it can be done, with some really excellent results!

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  5. Gina said,

    Hey there,
    I just wanted to say that I think you made some very good points in this post. I was especailly taken with the quotes you choose. We all know there are going to be those crazies out there who see a movie like “Supersize Me” and are suddenly attacked with a case of the ‘riot-bug’. This is the term I use for people who see something that offends them or pisses them off (many times for no good reason) and want’s to go out and start a riot over it.
    I really like the point you made about bring a topic like this into the classroom. Other overly-discussed topics such as abortion, death penalty and the like, are very soft ground for many to disucss without it getting too personal. This, however, is a great way for kids to get interactive with a debate (a great skill to learn) while still having a sense of sanity at the same time.
    Thanks for sharing!

    :~: Gina :~: _\,,;/

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