"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A comment about teaching the superbowl in class


In response to “Seven Super Bowl Lesson Plans and Resources for the Classroom” published in Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/super-bowl-lesson-plans-matthew-davis#comment-118336

In the discussion of the superbowl in class, please also include the role of professional athletics in society. Noam Chomsky has pointed out that understanding of the details of athletics (eg points after touchdown, off-side penalties, linebackers, odds, details of players’ strengths and weaknesses …) is often more complex than politics, and that fans are usually capable of deep critical thinking involving many complex issues (pass or kick? punt on third down? kick the field goal or go for the touchdown?), but we are told that politics is too hard, and we should leave it to the experts.

He concludes that organized sports is a way of diverting our attention away from areas we could have an influence on to areas we can’t have an influence on.

I think the average citizen knows a lot more about the superbowl than the common core standards. To see what you know, please take our short quiz: http://www.progressive.org/test-your-public-ed-savvy

Stephen Krashen

2 comments:

  1. It is interesting synchronicity that I sent this selection from Chomsky to a friend today:

    Take, say, sports -- that's another crucial example of the indoctrination system, in my view. For one thing because it -- you know, it offers people something to pay attention to that's of no importance. [audience laughs] That keeps them from worrying about -- [applause] keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have some idea of doing something about. And in fact it's striking to see the intelligence that's used by ordinary people in [discussions of] sports [as opposed to political and social issues]. I mean, you listen to radio stations where people call in -- they have the most exotic information [more laughter] and understanding about all kind of arcane issues. And the press undoubtedly does a lot with this.

    You know, I remember in high school, already I was pretty old. I suddenly asked myself at one point, why do I care if my high school team wins the football game? [laughter] I mean, I don't know anybody on the team, you know? [audience roars] I mean, they have nothing to do with me, I mean, why I am cheering for my team? It doesn't mean any -- it doesn't make sense. But the point is, it does make sense: it's a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority, and group cohesion behind leadership elements -- in fact, it's training in irrational jingoism. That's also a feature of competitive sports. I think if you look closely at these things, I think, typically, they do have functions, and that's why energy is devoted to supporting them and creating a basis for them and advertisers are willing to pay for them and so on.

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  2. Here is the citation for this: http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/1992----02.htm
    Thanks Storm!

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