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Psychology and Humanistic Studies

Corporate commercialism in schools threatens critical thinking

01/01/2012

Partnerships between schools and for-profit companies are a growing trend in cash-strapped school districts but may cause harm to schoolchildren, according to new research by an international team of scholars. The potential damage goes beyond the immediate health threat posed by the school-based marketing to children of soft drinks and other junk foods. Corporate commercializing activities in schools undermine the teaching of critical thinking skills essential to a good education, according to Alex Molnar and co-authors Faith Boninger and Joseph Fogarty.

The report, The Educational Cost of Schoolhouse Commercialism: The Fourteenth Annual Report on Schoolhouse Commercializing Trends: 2010-2011, was released on November 7, 2011 by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The new report on schoolhouse commercializing trends considers how commercializing activities in schools directly and indirectly undermine the quality of the education children receive. Harm is due to the shifting of school time toward activities promoted by commercial sponsors. Such business-sponsored activities in recent years include product demonstrations and contestslike the “ASA School Tour.” The pretext for the tour is to show children that it’s cool to be tobacco-free, but when the Tour arrives at a local high school, classes aresuspended for a mandatory assembly that includes an action sports show and exposure to sponsors’ branding, with on-site promotions and sampling.  When Microsoft sponsored the tour, for example, new Xbox games were a featured attraction.

Finally, a less obvious but significant educational harm associated with school commercialism involves the threat posed to critical thinking. Research shows, Molnar and colleagues write, that critical thinking skills are best fostered in an environment where students are encouraged “to ask questions, to think about their thought processes and thus develop habits of mind that enable them to transfer the critical thinking skills they learn in class to other, unrelated, situations.” Yet, as they point out, “…it is never in a sponsor’s interest for children to learn to identify and evaluate its points of view and biases, to consider alternative points of view, or to generate and consider alternative solutions to problems.” 

“Corporate sponsors want their story to be accepted uncritically,” Molnar says.

The report references the coal industry’s collaboration with children’s book publisher Scholastic Inc.. Scholastic produced materials for the American Coal Foundation’s “The United States of Energy” 4th grade curriculum. Classroom materials in this program were written to emphasize many states’ use and production of coal.

This coal curriculum caught the attention of a coalition of advocacy groups in the spring of 2011 and led to a campaign that culminated in Scholastic’s July decision to halt distribution of the coal-related materials and to reduce its production and promotion of other sponsored content. Yet Scholastic Inschool, the publisher’s marketing arm for corporate clients, has launched numerous in-school marketing campaigns in recent years for companies such as Brita water filters, Disney and Nestlé.

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Psychology and Humanistic Studies

Occupy Everything

12/29/2011

by Glen T. Martin, with comments by Saybrook professor Dr. Marc Pilisuk

The Occupy Wall Street movement has spread around the world. It has not only spread rapidly to cities and universities all around the US, there have been Occupy demonstrations and movements in Toronto, Athens, Sydney, Amsterdam, Stuttgart, Tel Aviv, Milan, and elsewhere. With the bailouts and immunities from responsibility of the big banks worldwide, with huge military budgets draining most nations of the world, and with debt restructuring being forced on nations around the world by a global economic system that transcends all nations, people everywhere are becoming directly aware of the domination of the world-system by the 1% at the expense of the 99%.

In these protests, unemployed persons join with discharged veterans, heavily indebted students, and politically aware citizens to occupy public places in protest of this global system of domination and exploitation. Police, like the politicians and governments they serve, have been colonized to do the bidding of the 1%, as is so painfully clear from the systematic violence and brutality they have shown in the repression of unarmed and peaceful citizens within the Occupy movement.

If the new sense of solidarity and political awareness of the Occupy movement are to have a real effect on this global system, it will have to become a planetary political awareness and bind itself in solidarity with all of humanity. Half the world’s population lives on less than two US dollars per day. One sixth the world’s people lack access to clean water. One third lack basic sanitation. Worldwide, the richest 1% have as much wealth as the bottom 60% combined. These figures are not new, but they are all getting worse. Global poverty is growing. Global water scarcity is growing. The richest 1% are getting rapidly richer relative to the bottom 99% who are getting rapidly poorer. We need to occupy everything.

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Alumni Messenger

Saybrook Alumnus Bart Billings, Ph.D. '74 On the 20th International Military and Civilian Combat Stress Conference

12/22/2011
From Dr. Billlings: This article's subject is one that will be discussed extensively at next years 20th International Military and Civilian Combat Stress Conference scheduled for May. This conference is the longest running conference of its kind in the world. Contact me for the complete article. Bart P Billings, Ph.D. Founder and Director 20th International Military and Civilian Combat Stress...

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Alumni Messenger

Online Courses: The UN-mandated University for Peace

12/22/2011
Upcoming Online Courses - Call for Applications Upcoming Online Courses – 2 January to 2 March, 2012 The UN-mandated University for Peace is accepting applications for the Distance Education Programme. Apply for individual courses for training in the following areas of study, or take the courses for credit, towards the completion of the online Master of Arts in Sustainable Peace in the...

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Alumni Messenger

Alumna Carolyn Williams-Orlando, Ph.D. '08 Joins GIVE AN HOUR™ NETWORK

12/22/2011
Dr.Carolyn Williams-Orlando (Saybrook Ph.D. '08) PROUDLY JOINS GIVE AN HOUR™ NETWORK Provides Free Counseling to Troops & Families Boulder, Colorado November 30 2011– Dr. Carolyn Williams-Orlando announces that she has joined Give an Hour™, a nonpartisan, nonprofit national network of mental health professionals providing free counseling services to returning troops and...

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Alumni Messenger

Saybrook: Forty Years as the Heart of the Humanistic Vision

12/22/2011
Dear Fellow Saybrookians, Greetings in this Holiday Season! As our Fortieth Anniversary year draws to a close, please consider contributing to Saybrook's Annual Fund, and help insure that the Humanistic Vision continues to grow and thrive. See outtakes from Dr. Mark Schulman's Annual Appeal Letter, below. All here at Saybrook Wish You a Wonderful Holiday Season and a Prosperous and Healthy...

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Events

Saybrook Conference Sessions Open To Prospective Students This January

12/22/2011

Join us at an upcoming conference session to engage in an integral part of the Saybrook experience. For 40 years Saybrook University has offered distance education for graduate students. Combining online and residential instruction, our programs foster close contact amongst faculty and learners while offering flexibility. A key component of Saybrook's learning model, residential conference sessions bring faculty and students together, spurring intellectual creativity, collaboration, and mentorship.

Prospective students may attend and observe two sessions at the SFO Westin Hotel in Millbrae, California:

Sunday, January 15, 2012 -- 9:15 am - 12:00 pm PST

Courses and Seminars:
Renewing the Encounter Between the Human Sciences, the Arts, and the Humanities
Introduction to Person-Centered Expressive Arts for Healing and Social Change
Buddhist Pathways to Health
Systems Practice: From Systems Thinking to Systems Being
Generative and Strategic Dialogue: Intro to ORG 7044
Trauma and Transformation: The “Human”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 -- 9:15 am - 12:00 pm PST

Courses and Seminars:
Trauma and Transformation: Social Dimensions
Intermediate Training and Education in Hypnosis (5620)
Movement, Exercise, and Health
Researching Organizations and their Complexity: Exploring Methods That Support a Systems Approach to Change
City of San Francisco Initiative: A Collaborative Project Opportunity
Creativity and Writing: Beyond the Norm

Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet with faculty and Admissions representatives. To learn more and register, please RSVP HERE!

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Alumni Messenger

Saybrook Alumna Hilarie Cash, Ph.D. '89 Appears on the Daily Show Segment

12/22/2011
Saybrook Alumna Hilarie Cash, Ph.D. 89 Invited as Expert on the Daily Show Segment Click here to view the Daily Show Segment. Check out Hilarie's real work: Hilarie Cash, PhD, LMHC Executive Director, reSTART: Internet Addiction Recovery Program 1001 290th Ave SE, Fall City, WA 98024-7403 Tel: 800-682-6934 Fax: 888-788-3419 hilarie.cash@netaddictionrecovery.com www.netaddictionrecovery....

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Alumni Messenger

Academic Events, Calls for Papers, and Job Opportunities - Organizational Systems

12/22/2011
Academic Events, Calls for Papers, and Job Opportunities New Opportunities for Researchers Job Opportunity: Lecturer in International Business Queen Mary University of London is inviting applications for a Lecturer in International Business. They are looking for candidates with a background in comparative international business, economic policy studies and/or Chinese and Indian industrial...

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Psychology and Humanistic Studies

Using the peace education lens

12/22/2011

This fantastic resource - developed by Dr. Elspeth Macdonald at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) at The University of Otago, New Zealand - merges the fields of digital photography and peace education.

Using the Peace Education Lens illustrates the concepts of peace and violence and to highlight their potential influences on various fields of social and environmental study. Peace education aims to equip young people with the analytic skills necessary to develop peaceful perspectives on potential or actual conflict and/ or violence. School curricula often includes a range of topics related to peace education, such as:

  • Screen shot 2011-12-22 at 10.03.11 AMCultural diversity or multicultural education

  • Human rights education

  • Sustainability or environmental education

  • Development education

  • Global education

  • International education

These broad topic areas provide opportunities to educate for peace. Peace education also focuses on the knowledge and skills related to peacefulness and nonviolence - education about peace. Education about peace aims to build knowledge and understanding about conflict and violence and about peacefulness and nonviolence – to understand concepts of negative and positive peace and the various types of direct and indirect violence.

Curricula across a range of topics can include content related to problems of violence and conflict and ways to develop and promote peaceful perspectives. It uses a critical pedagogy to develop understanding of multiple perspectives or viewpoints and to critically appraise these – to understanding “why things are the way they are, how they came to be, and what can be done to change them" (Teachers Without Borders). In peace education, the analogy of viewing though a lens has been widely used to describe the framing of perspectives related to conflict, violence and peacefulness. Taken further the concept of viewing though a critical or analytic lens incorporates the underlying critical pedagogy. Peace education can provide students with an analytic lens or series of analytic lenses to view and evaluate particular events and circumstances.

These lenses can be used view and evaluate situations of conflict and violence, peacemaking, and a range of social and environmental issues impacting on individuals, families, communities and societies. While the lens analogy has been commonly used by peace educators and scholars to describe the activity of focussing on violence and peacefulness, to date this description has not been operationalized. What tools can help educators teach about concepts of violence and peacefulness and assist students to explore perspectives surrounding particular events and circumstances?

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