Overcoming media stereotypes 



From NationalStereoType.com

This morning I was doing my daily Facebook feed scan, A friend of mine had posted a link to the calendar for the up coming school year. I clicked the link wanting to see how my children’s district matched up to the district where I teach. I figured the link would take to a calendar filled with dates of breaks. Instead I was greeted with the following paragraph:

I was shocked! “Feel free to mark your calendar as one of the most dreaded days of the year for teachers and students” Really!! Way to show the community how teachers are committed! and telling students they should dread the start of school? This is not the way a newspaper should report the school district’s calendar adding typical stereotypes to the simple reporting of a calendar! Patch you should know better! After quickly checking the site I noticed the same introductory paragraph was used to share all of the districts calendars for the Patch reading area. What does this say to the readership?

By proliferating the stereotypes of teachers and students it hurts education! Readers will assume that teachers dread day 1 because they are lazy. When in fact most teachers spend weeks if not their entire summer working to make the first day of school (and all 180 after)  special! Teachers are excited for the new beginning that the school year brings. Parents will pass the dread to their students after reading the Patch calendar. “Johnny I know you don’t want to hear it but school is coming!” Might be a common conversation at a dinner table. I challenge the Patch staff writer to attend a final day of school in Macomb county. At my middle school students were crying, not wanting to walk out of the building because they were sad the school year was over. Many not knowing what their summer will bring. First days of school are exciting, full of promise and energy not dread.

“And feel free not to feel guilty about marking it as one of your favorites.”  What? The start of the school year is a day full of guilt for parents. Whether they are dropping of a kindergartner for their first day of school or seeing a senior off for their last year. YES, Parents should feel guilt. They are handing off their precious child for their education. Many parents ask themselves; ‘Is my child ready? Did they slide during summer or did we do enough?” Should a newspaper be expressing this much opinion when reporting a school calendar?

NO! These types of stereotypes are expected in films and on TV. There is no place in journalism for using them. Schools need to be free of stereotypes, teaching the diverse population that attends them. A simple calendar report like this makes our job infinitely more difficult.  For parents it makes schools like a day care system. For students it makes school dreaded. For teachers it devalues our hard work and jobs.

Dear Media: Do your job, report the facts with out stereotypical commentary, it will help us all in the end!



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