Thursday, July 12, 2012

"Dirty Pop"

First of all, it is called pop not soda.  That being said, I think *NSYNC sang my stance on the subject perfectly in their 2001 smash hit, "Pop":

Sick and tired of hearing
All these people talk about
What's the deal with this pop life?
And when is gonna fade out?
The thing you got to realize
What we doing is not a trend

Ok, fine, they were singing about pop music.  But as an English major, I reserve the right to interpret things any way I gosh darn well please.  And if I want the song to be about the sugary, fizzy deliciousness that is pop, so be it.  

When I first read the story about New York's ban on large size pops, I thought, "Wow!  How great!  Helping people be healthy!  We sure need more of that in this country."  Then I thought about my frequent trips to a certain room in the School of Education building with free and unlimited pop.  I would be crushed if that was taken away from me.  How would I make it through the long hours of lecture without my oversize dose of caffeine?  No, no!  Michigan, you can't follow suit!

Then I thought about the ban even more.  I was ready to make others limit their choices, but was crushed when I thought about losing something that brought such delight (no job
+ back to back undergrad and graduate school= one incredibly broke girl that actively seeks out free goodies- like pop).  A couple years ago, the University of Michigan established a no-smoking on campus policy.  I was ecstatic.  Many a night was spent in my dorm room fuming over the person smoking outside my window.  Didn't they know it was sweltering hot in the ancient dorm, and closing my window would mean certain death by baking to a crisp?  I hated the scratchy throat I got from the smoke, the dirty smell that overpowered my lavender room spray, and the general anger that one person was able to cause with one cigarette.

My reaction may be similar to a lot of other people.  We adamantly support one ban, but when another ban comes along that limits our personal choices, we react angrily.  This would be a perfect opportunity for a writing assignment.  Students could explore their personal reactions to bans in their lives.  A creative writing exercise would allow students to candidly explore their thoughts, while an argumentative assignment could be a more structured alternative.   By creating a blog, there could be a timeline showing a student's rections and changing opinions.  They could link to articles that influenced or changed their opinion, and look at  similar bans and laws in different states and countries.  They would be able to go back and look at what made them change their mind and supporting articles.  Students could look at each other's blogs and comment on classmates' work, creating a place where the debates and ideas could be monitored.

 It could also be used in social studies classrooms when discussing our individual rights as Americans.  Students could be split into groups and debate the constitutionality of such laws.  Students could even compare how such a law would be received in other countries or even other states.  Heck, the all the subjects in school could have activities related to the ban.  Economics classes could look at the impact of the ban on vendors, while biology or chemistry classes could look at the impact of pop on the body.  The fact that this topic relates to so many different subjects makes it the perfect theme for a school or a grade in the school to get involved in.  Looking at one topic from so many different perspectives and fields would give the students a more detailed and comprehensive understanding of not just the ban, but the impact of policies in everyday life.

The topic of pop bans would be something students could relate to, possibly more that other topics like the war on drugs or smoking.  This subject is a little less politically charged, and students could voice their opinions more openly on a topic like this that is less touchy.  Teaching with a current event opens many doors to exploring topics that are relatable and can be watched over time, allowing the debate to evolve. Now if only I could find that letter I wrote to the class president about the smoking ban, I think I think I need to reconsider some of my arguments...

1 comment:

  1. I have read many blog posts where the NYC soda size limitation proposal has been compared to the cigarette ban, but you highlight a key paradox that I have not yet seen as well stated: we strongly support that which does not impact us or which impacts us in a positive way, but have difficulty viewing the issue from the side of the opposition. I am actually firmly in favor of the proposal, mainly because I have seen the way that NYC pairs the "ban" with educational outreach (recently moved back to MI after several years of living in NYC). Though not necessarily the most direct of attempts, they do have a very aggressive ad campaign in television and signage (on subways and in every bodega/"party-store") that highlights the adverse health affects as well as emotional turmoil that can result from excess sugar consumption. I think your lesson ideas are spot-on for getting students to think about all perspectives, not just their own, and for prompting them to investigate the evidence that supports each claim. I can see a lot of heated debates ensuing, but if guided and mitigated by the teacher, these discussion can benefit the students well beyond the realm of any factual knowledge that is acquired! On a side-note...not to sound biased, but your blog continues to be one of my favorites to read :-) are ridiculously creative!!