ELA B30: June 17 Social Conformity and Resistance…
- We reviewed to start the last sub-unit we studied regarding “Ambition, Power, and the Common Good”. We watched the movie Blood Diamond in relation to that and also read and discussed the novel Animal Farm. It is a fairly clear example of the problems and difficulties that arise from the struggle for Power and trying to determine what the Common Good actually is.
- The last sub-unit to quickly discuss and consider for the course is one that looks at Social Criticism – those in society who conform and “go with the flow” versus those who “think outside the box” and look at common practices with a fresh perspective and offer different ideas.We discussed the reality that, since we are shaped by our surroundings so much, it is difficult to see clearly what is around us. We’re so used to different things that we can’t understand why others would want to change them. The reality, though, is that we should still attempt to look at things fresh and question why we do or believe things. Without questioning our actions, we’re not being responsible. I gave students two examples from my personal experience:
- Lately, especially, I’ve been questioning what is considered a common practice, in small communities at least, where parents “pull beer” for their kids. I have no comment on young people drinking but dislike the reality that buying the beer for people underage sets a certain example for young people – that you should obey only certain laws. How surprising is it, then, when these kids so often risk themselves by drinking and driving. Closer to home, a woman I have known for years, since her children were just small, bought alcohol for her son on a Friday night and put it directly into the back of his truck. There was a major accident that night involving his truck that ended in the fatality of one boy and serious brain injury of another. “Parents Pull… and kids die” is a new S.A.D.D. or M.A.D.D. slogan I’d like to suggest. I question what is a common practice – I don’t conform to that standard.
- Another example I could share with the students was the work a former Gr 8 Social class did last year. A tragic “accident” happened in Calgary last year where a mother left her two children in her vehicle, left running, while she stopped to pick up party supplies for the next day. While she was in the store, her three-year old daughter woke and was upset in the car seat in the back, the young boy undid her buckle and the girl proceeded to roll down the window to climb out. While she was in the process of this, though, her feet stepped on the window controls causing the window to come up and strangled her. Someone else drove up the parking lot, found this child choking in the window, struggled to get her out and tried to revive her. Unable to do so, he ran into the building to have someone call 9-11. Meanwhile, the mother returned to her vehicle and drove away, unaware that her daughter was unconscious in the backseat. The ambulance arrived only to find that the van was gone and the chilling reality was that the mother only found that her daughter had died when she finally stopped later.I ask – “Should we have a law that makes it illegal to leave a child in a running vehicle unattended?” The Gr 8’s polled people in their community and had a mostly positive reaction, except for a few parents who thought it would cause more problems, having to drag kids in and out of vehicles. We asked the question, though. We looked at what is a common practice in our country and asked whether something should be changed. Being aware of our social laws and behaviors is important, but also being aware of why they exist is equally important.
- We briefly talked about Cultural Relativity – the belief that individuals cannot criticize a group or culture from outside that same culture (you can only be critical of actions/ beliefs if you have been raised in that culture and understand the meaning behind those actions). An example of this is the practice of Female Circumcision, which is practiced widely in many Eastern countries. Fathers expect this of their daughters at a certain age and consider it a necessity while being quite affectionate of their daughters. It is to protect their marriages from adultery, is one of their beliefs. Someone from outside that culture could easily be very critical, but the idea behind Social Relativity is that unless you understand it from the inside, you have no right to question it sincerely. It is a concept of Sociology, but does not mean you have to agree with it.
- We read a story called “Kaffir Boy” about a man from South Africa. He recounts the day when it became clear to him what going to school would actually mean for his life and the desperation his mother went through in being sure he had the opportunity. We identified those who conformed to popular beliefs, and those who resisted. It was a somewhat rushed discussion of this unit, but that always seems to be the case at the end of a class in June.
- The final is on Monday. We’ll begin reviews tomorrow and Thursday will be reserved for studying and individual help. I’m sure you’ll all do quite well. Just remind yourselves of the literature that will be most adaptable for the exam questions.