Censoring Classroom Music. Or not. What would you do?

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196
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Censoring Classroom Music. Or not. What would you do?

Post by 196 »

Here is a little challenge for you!

I teach high school math in a remote Cree community. Many of my young students identify with Urban culture and try to look ‘gangsta’ (ball cap, sunnies, chains, bandanas, etc). Last year, my grade 12 students did a great music tastes survey in the school and found that Hip Hop was the most popular, followed by Pop, Punk, and Metal.

As you probably know, Rap and Pop contain many words and ideas that people could find objectionable. Rap tends to be well lubricated with f-, n- and b-bombs. Pop tends to have more subtle ideas. For example, “going downtown”, isn’t about literally going down town. Pop is catching up, thanks to artists such as Lady Gaga and her “disco stick” riding ways.

To motivate and reward my students, during practice I let students connect one of their iPods to speakers in the class. This leads to the issue of how I, as the teacher, get to handle the various issues that could come up in the music. What they listen to on their own iPods is between them and their parents, but what we listen to in the class is my responsibility.

If it were you, how would you hand the issue of objectionable content in shared music? Would you pre-approve every song on the list? Would you just let them play whatever they want? Would you just ban music? I’d love to hear your ideas and rationale! Feel free to ask questions about the classroom environment and school policies. I’ll explain my method later.
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Post by sparks »

Pre-approve every song based on the fact that it's not just in the earbuds of one kid. Respect others feelings.
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Re: Censoring Classroom Music. Or not. What would you do?

Post by DrMatt »

196 wrote:I teach high school math in a remote Cree community.
...
To motivate and reward my students, during practice I let students connect one of their iPods to speakers in the class.
...
I don't see that their remoteness nor Creeness has any bearing on this.

Point of information. Does this "reward" have any discernable positive effect on their attention and focus on math?

Unrelated question: Are you allowed to show educational videos?
Here's a preview of what I have in mind
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196
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Re: Censoring Classroom Music. Or not. What would you do?

Post by 196 »

DrMatt wrote:I don't see that their remoteness nor Creeness has any bearing on this.
I think you're right. The culture and remoteness influence a lot of things in the school, but this is probably not one of them.
DrMatt wrote:Point of information. Does this "reward" have any discernable positive effect on their attention and focus on math?
My students seem to spend more time working when there is music. At one time I was concerned that it would distract some students, but I have not found that to be the case. I am supposed to promote a positive and plesant classroom environment.
That is a great idea for something fun. Thanks! I'm pretty much allowed to to whatever I want in the classroom (with the interests of the students in mind).
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Post by Mulebear »

As a reward let them play the music, but only as long as they understand that they must police themselves concerning objectionable content.

As part of the rules, if anyone should play questionable content, then no one will be allowed to play music for one week. The peer pressure will help them stay honest and it will make them think about cooperation with fellow classmates, inappropriate behavior and content, and responsibility to the group.

If someone does play something inappropriate, have the class discuss why it should have not been played and then follow through with the rule of no music for a week.
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Post by gnome »

I think you might have more trouble getting them to agree on what perfectly reasonable material to listen to.
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Post by Mulebear »

gnome wrote:I think you might have more trouble getting them to agree on what perfectly reasonable material to listen to.
Not if he guides them and lays down some specifics about what is acceptable. They could then discuss why one thing would be considered acceptable and another wouldn't.
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Post by 196 »

Mulebear wrote:As a reward let them play the music, but only as long as they understand that they must police themselves concerning objectionable content.
I really like this idea. Defining the objectionable content would make a good activity on the first day. Of course, most of them see nothing wrong with the n-word, but we can fix that.
Mulebear wrote:As part of the rules, if anyone should play questionable content, then no one will be allowed to play music for one week
Let me tell you what I actually do... "next song please!" The student with the iPod just forwards to the next song. Sometimes, a student asks why and I tell them. This usually happens when I recognize the song and veto it before anything objectionable comes up.

This may shock some people, but I don't "punish" students. If a kid makes a mistake in class, I sit down with them and we discuss it (either in class or after class). I don't make a big deal of things. The classroom is supposed to be a pleasant, positive environment. In math class, of all places, students should not be afraid to make mistakes. There is an escalation process for serious misbehaviour, but even then I prefer to take care of things myself as much as possible. To be clear, there are consequences for some mistakes. For example, if a student skips a test, he or she will have to come in after class and write it. That is not a punishment, just a consequence. (Of course, first I find out why the student skipped and get him or her some extra help if it was due to lack of confidence).
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Post by Llacheu »

I don't know if it will help with the n-word with your students, but a Navaho friend of mine got his friends to stop using when he asked them about using the r-word (name of the Washington NFL franchise) instead. Anecdote, not evidence.

Sounds like you have a good way of dealing with the music. I hope that your school system will support you.
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Post by clarsct »

Hmmmmmmm.

Ideally, a classroom should be a marketplace of ideas. Grade 12 students should be able to display a certain amount of maturity. Even bad ideas should be heard. Bad ideas are the mothers of good ideas, and the world outside the classroom is not Nerf. There are sharp edges.

If you are doing this as a reward for a particular student, then the student should decide for themselves. If it is a class reward, then the class should decide.

If an issue comes up with the music, then dissect the song. Explain what is going on, and perhaps even the validness of the emotion, however expressed. Some of these songs might go deeper than you know.

People do NOT have the right to never be offended. I gather that you're in extreme north Canada, so I can't compare to what the laws or customs are to the US exactly, but part of Free Speech is the right to be goddamned pissed off and the right to express that anger.


I don't know about the mathematical dissection and theory...I'll leave that to Dr. Matt, who actually knows his shit. But even dissecting the lyrics can be useful..it's the modern poetry.

As for approving Playlists, you're asking for a fucking headache that never ends. Just my point of view. By what standards do you judge? Zero Tolerance? Some words but not others? and why not?

'Dirty' language is a superstition. It follows almost directly from the 'Evil Eye' in that if you mention something bad, it will happen. If you mention violence, then people who hear it will be prone to violence, or something. God will get you for even mentioning lustful acts. I would be loathe to grant this type of superstition an ounce of credibility in a classroom.

Just my two cents worth...
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Post by gnome »

You'd run into trouble if you tried to make a hard and fast rule--but a reasonable amount of discretion to keep everyone out of trouble is definitely attainable.
"If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight! Sun Tzu said that, and I'd say he knows a little bit more about fighting than you do, pal, because he invented it, and then he perfected it so that no living man could best him in the ring of honor. Then, he used his fight money to buy two of every animal on earth, and then he herded them onto a boat, and then he beat the crap out of every single one. And from that day forward any time a bunch of animals are together in one place it's called a zoo! (Beat) Unless it's a farm!"
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Post by DrMatt »

clarsct wrote:Hmmmmmmm.

Ideally, a classroom should be a marketplace of ideas...
No. Only a graduate seminar. Some ideas are more correct than others, and a middle-school classroom is not the place for this.
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Post by clarsct »

DrMatt wrote:
clarsct wrote:Hmmmmmmm.

Ideally, a classroom should be a marketplace of ideas...
No. Only a graduate seminar. Some ideas are more correct than others, and a middle-school classroom is not the place for this.

High school---grade 12 was mentioned.
I imagine many of these 'children' are of legal age to vote, sign contracts, join the military, and do many things that adults would be expected to do...

Including learn a new idea or two.

But even so, yes, middle school..any school...is a place to explore the world, not to be spoon fed.
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Post by Major Malfunction »

So, you're teaching a new generation of MacFanboy consumers? Are you an industry plant?

Do you let people with MP3 players play their music? Hmm?
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