Sarah Jordan, a 7th grade teacher in Westboro, Mass., was recently suspended from the classroom after showing an Eminem video to her students. As a result, the teacher announced her resignation today.
But this bit of news just doesn’t make any sense. Why would a teacher show an Eminem video in class? I mean, sure, any one of those students could turn on MTV and watch an Eminem video for themselves. But I couldn’t comprehend why a teacher would even think of including this in her lesson plan when Eminem is known for his need to push limits, especially regarding sex, on what is allowed for viewing on public television. So I did a little research and found this article that explained the situation a little more.
The class has been doing a unit on media analysis. Students viewed videos in class, and then discussed and wrote essays on what they had seen. At a student’s suggestion, Ms. Jordan chose the “Superman” video by Eminem for them to watch. In this video were nudity and several sex scenes, though all inappropriate images were blurred out. She also muted the video so that all the students were viewing were silent images. She then went in the hallway and let the students know that when they’d had enough, they could join her. Her goal was to allow the students to act freely without her presence tampering with that. And when three students left the classroom to join her in the hall, she came back in and turned it off.
Ms. Jordan admitted she was nervous about this particular video, being that it was so explicit. But her reasons were because this was a perfect example of what the unit on media was about – addressing “the stereotypes and the limited roles of men and women portrayed in many hip-hop and rap songs”.
Her choice to let students view something so controversial caused at least two parents to complain – one of whom went directly to the police to file charges. Police dropped charges after it was deemed she didn’t show anything inappropriate. But it didn’t matter, the damage was done. While she was only suspended and not fired, Ms. Jordan ultimately decided it was best if she left the job she loved. And if given the choice to show the video again, she said she wouldn’t – at least not without consulting parents first.
In my opinion, this is rather unfortunate. While it would have been best to inform parents about what their children would have been viewing in school, I feel this was a valuable subject Ms. Jordan was introducing. If you have ever seen the media that is being targeted to our teens, you are well aware of the status symbols that are placed in the images flashing all over the screen. Women are sexual objects, dressed scantily clad and treated as ornaments as they writhe on various objects in the video. The men run all over the screen wearing clothing that, in the real world, would keep them unemployed – thus not even allowing them to be able to afford all the bling that is apparently falling out of the sky. Sex is treated casually and promiscuously, without any regard to the negative effects a lifestyle like that could bring on. The list goes on and on, and gets more graphic as time passes to keep the attention span of a generation that is on the search for something bigger, better, and faster. Soon, straight-up porn will be shown on the screen and our youth won’t even bat an eye – if what is being shown now isn’t considered pornographic already. And as they are being spoon-fed this kind of drivel, their reaction to it in real life is muted. They don’t even realize they are being taught that women are sex objects and should dress and act the part, men should be violent and have sex with as many “hoes” as they can, money is meant to be spent on flashy items, mass consumption of alcohol means you’re having a good time and are extremely popular….
At least, this is what I believe could have been the point behind Ms. Jordan’s lesson. Or not. Her lesson was geared to allow the students to give their own take about the message these videos are giving – promoting free thought in a world where this type of media tries to think for us. And my only disappointment is that she stepped down from her teaching position instead of standing up for what the backbone of her lesson was. Students have the opportunity to see this kind of inappropriate material outside of the classroom, on many different levels, and to be influenced by it. But in her classroom, Ms. Jordan was teaching how media can affect us, and how we can take the power back.
I think she gave in way too soon.
If you found out a video like this was being shown in your middle school child’s classroom, would you take issue?