The New York Times ran a front-page piece today on how the runaway viral video success, “The Story of Stuff,” has become a part of curriculum in some schools. The 20 minute animation describes the history of consumerism as a lifestyle choice using humor and simplicity.
While teachers favor its use over say that other hit, “Inconvenient Truth” for a few reasons, one of which is duration, some parents aren’t so happy about the results. When one daughter came home with a lesson plan for her family, her dad took it to the board.
The New york Times reports that:
Most parents take such needling with humor. But Mark Zuber, a parent of a child at Big Sky High School in Missoula, had a stronger reaction when a teacher showed the video to his daughter last year. “There was not one positive thing about capitalism in the whole thing,” Mr. Zuber said.
Corporations, for example, are portrayed as a bloated person sporting a top hat and with a dollar sign etched on its front.
He described the video as one-sided. “It was very well done, very effective advocacy, but it was just that,” he said.
Mr. Zuber argued before the Missoula County School Board that the way in which “The Story of Stuff” was presented, without an alternative point of view, violated its standards on bias, and the board agreed in a 4-to-3 vote.
Makes us wonder whether the number of hours our kids consume of commercials on television should count as homework.
The Story of Stuff blog reports that:
Toni Rehbein, the School Board chair, who confirmed that the board’s intention was not to prevent use of The Story of Stuff in classrooms or to squelch much needed attention on environmental issues, as long as such discussions welcome diverse opinions. She told us that the emails of support for Story of Stuff which the Board received from around the world had made a big impact and she assured us that the Board planned to issue a statement clarifying their position. We look forward to seeing that statement.
Meanwhile, in School Board elections on May 4th, Missoula citizens removed incumbent Rick Johns, one of the School Board members who had supported Mr Zuber’s concerns, further securing the majority of those who welcome environmental discourse and promote academic freedom.