Tuesday, July 3, 2007


School is all about learning, and as mature and thoughtful as I might consider myself to be, I can still go to school and feel the fool. I had my own d’oh moment today while in my Economics for the Elementary Teacher class.

The assignment was to choose an economics-based field trip for your students. With comics on the brain I thought it would be fun to go to the local comic book store and examine what it takes to run a small business. There are tons of economic concepts to apply: unlimited wants, opportunity cost, goods and services, and resources (human, natural and capital) and I thought it would be fun.

Toward the end of my 10-minute presentation I saw the looks of my peers and I knew something was wrong. Ever so delicately, my instructor mentioned that he clued into some possible red flags. Two other students, who are currently teaching, agreed.

The issues were simple enough, but they managed to escape me during the planning process. Comic books shops sell role-playing games (dungeons and dragons) and kids card games (Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon.) Because adult men are also a target audience for these games, this was deemed as unacceptable.

The rationale here – and remember this has come from seasoned teachers and a very well seasoned male professor who taught elementary for many years – was that many parents object to things of this nature. Some of the comments based on previous knowledge:

One teacher mentioned that she read a piece of children’s literature once that had some mention of magic in it. Parents complained.

The professor stated the he had a teacher friend who got in trouble for having the students use a pair of dice in a game. The parents complained, and the teacher was reprimanded, because dice are kin to gambling. Even though the game itself was not gambling there were dice and that was a problem.

It was agreed that the trip to the comic shop would more than likely raise the ire of several parents and it would be advisable for me to reconsider this as a field trip choice. Thankfully, I was not asked to redo the assignment. I was just warned about the potential dangers.

I certainly do not think that mention of magical powers in a book is any kind of problem; however, I respect the fact that other people feel that way. I happen to think it is an abomination to pitch such a fit over the Harry Potter books, but parents do and I respect their right to have an opinion. My goal is not to create problems with myself or to try to change the opinions of the parents. Rather I am there to help my students become discerning citizens who can and will think. If that means that I need to find an alternate field trip then I can easily think of a substitute.

I guess the issue has more to do with the fact that I did not consider such a trip to be a problem to begin with. Now that I have been alerted to the potential pitfalls, I can understand why such a trip could be controversial, especially for this area. Maybe we could go to Bass Pro Shops, which is headquartered here, unless all the dead animals would pose a problem for anyone.

I'm just glad that I found out now, while I'm still in school. It’s hard to think out of the box when you are confined to one.

1 comment:

Skipper Pickle said...

To say nothing of the comics themselves that are probably out on display. Even the best shops in our area have materials visible that i'd hate to have to answer for.

i wonder if you'd get better traction and interest taking your students to visit a comic book artist or commercial illustrator to talk about the economics of free-lancing. The illustration/drawing/art domain should be plenty engaging, if you can find the right artist, particularly if you can get into their studio to see how they work.