Hey everyone, my name is Tessa Gonzales. I am from Muskegon, MI and completed my undergrad at Michigan State University – the best school on Earth! There I received a Bachelor’s in Education with a concentration in Language Arts and a minor in TESOL. Currently I am a first grade English teacher at Anuban Khon Kaen in Thailand. I enjoy traveling, running, reading, and could listen to Bob Dylan all day, every day. I hope this course will help to expand my perceptions in the culture of education.
The blatant juxtaposition of race, class, and gender within a low socioeconomic community, portrayed in this television series, depicts the overwhelming concern of inequality within American culture, specifically the American education system. I could very well go over 500 words expressing my concerns after viewing:
the ineffective classroom management by the token white male,
the misuse of classroom resources in an urban school district,
the importance of equity versus equality when working with students
and/or the effects of disciplinary actions on students’ portrayal of authority
– these are all purposeful depictions of barriers faced far too often within the world of education, but what concerns me is the bigger picture: how is the existence of this show relevant to American culture?
This series works to portray a message; it was not created for the value of pure entertainment, but to act as a medium – bringing the politics of education, poverty, class, and race to life. My concern with these genres of storytelling, whether it be on television or a movie, in a book or magazine, an interpretation in a painting, or song, they all tell contextual stereotypes as generic truths. Stereotypes are derived from types of truths within in culture, as much as it pains me to succumb to this reality, stereotypes have some merit. Growing up in a biracial family I know it was difficult to my white friends to believe I did, in fact, engage in piñata swinging, tortilla consuming, and mariachi listening while celebrating each and every holiday. It’s uncomfortable for the majority to admit the preconceived assumptions of minority culture, and I get that. However purposefully displaying them for an entire culture to absorb is a completely different endeavor.
Watching Mr. P teach absolutely nauseated me, his demeanor, lack of knowledge, and overall awakwardness tightened every muscle in my body. Once calming these aggressive instincts I took a look at his role in the story collectively. There is a team of writers, producers, and consultants focused solely on the portrayal of this character, right down to his schoolboy wardrobe and white-boy walk. The same goes for each and every character – they are depictions of what these writers want to demonstrate about American culture. So again I ask, what is the message here; what objectives are these staff members trying to reach?
Before this can be answered I suppose we must consider what demographic this series is trying to captivate – is it the young, black man they are trying to give a voice to, the bleeding-heart educator they are trying to sympathize with, or am I completely off-based and this is merely a creation of entertainment bliss? The objective derives from the intended audience, but is the average American suited for the comprehension of these portrayals?
While I appreciate the existence of this show and the message it is putting forth into the world, I cannot help but feel annexed toward this movement. Immersing the audience in pretending to know the other half is kind of ruining the joke.