Friday in English Literature class I had a few visitors from out of state that were in town for the conference on educational technology that was held today. After class one of my visitors asked me a really interesting question: What’s the intent?
What he was referring to was a music video that I had shown in class. We are currently studying The Picture of Dorian Gray and the students have been connecting that to having two different views of them: the way the world sees them and how they see themselves. It has led to some very interesting discussions in class that have dipped over into the question of beauty. What is true beauty in our society today? Well on Friday we looked at Brittney Spears and how she was the epitome of teenage beauty in our society a few short years ago, but how she has literally fallen out of that category as a result of her actions. What I did was show a video that is of a new song by Bebo Norman, a Christian artist, called Brittney. It is about how society destroyed Brittney Spears and not only society, but how each of us individually played a part in her downfall. Anyway, I showed a video of the music by Bebo Norman that also had images of Brittney Spears in the background and images from The Passion of the Christ.
I knew before ever showing the video that I needed to have intent to show the film, even though I know this class can handle a little bit of religious overtones I felt that the images of Brittney and the words of the text would be enough for the students to handle. I even prefaced the video by sharing that it was very religious video and that the music and images come from that viewpoint. I thought I was covered (that is until I talked to Anne after school and she mentioned that I always need to give an opt out assignment – that was a good reminder), so I showed the video. After it was over we debriefed the video a bit, not as much as I would have liked, and then moved on to our final activity of the day.
Which leads me into the question that the guest asked me: What was the intent? We had a little discussion after class about the religious symbols in the video and if it was really necessary to share the video at all. Do the students really need to see the images? Have they seen them before? If the purpose for activity is to hear the song, then do they need to see someone’s interpretation of it? Couldn’t you just play the video and not show the picture? That way they are really focused only on the music and the words of the song and not on the images present on the screen. He had some really great thoughts and it just brought back the question once again for me to consider: What’s the intent? What is the intent in using that piece of technology, that new gadget, or even the computer at all? Does the activity really warrant you using that element? Why or why not?
As I was challenged in my thinking, so I would like to challenge you. Before showing a YouTube video in class or doing another activity on the computer, ask yourself these questions: What’s the intent? Does it warrant using whatever tool you would be using? Why or why not? Once you have answered these questions, proceed on with caution and constant reflection.