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Lesson Plans

Gang web site.

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Robert Sheffey (sheffey)
Thu, 5 Jun 1997 22:58:00 -0600 (MDT)

I looked at the web site on gangs that you suggested. I think it
deals with an issue that is a factor affecting the prior discussions.
Sterotyping. Some see gang symbols as dangerous, and needing to be banned.
Others see them as symbols which shouldn't be banned but discussed and
understood. The site deals with the fact that symbols, dress, etc. are
constantly changing. It even made the comment "Once the adults know the
sign, it is no longer relevent". The site brought up the issue of how
something in one context can be a gang symbol, and yet in another be
innocent, how it will become fasionable, be seen in store windows, and then
even worn by 4 year olds. It spoke of how kids "copy" looks from MTV, etc.
Racism was brought up....two pictures were shown of kids wearing the
same thing, one white and one black. The question was posed, "Which of
these two kids would you most likely think to be in a gang?"
In El Paso, where tagging is everywhere, I see the need to not allow
these symbols to remain. I don't want any student to feel or be intimidated
at school. Some kids are third and fourth generation gang members who "have
to" be in the gangs in order to not be disrespectful to their parents and
family (or so they think), and other kids have no experience with gangs at
all. We get them all.
I think my concern with the censorship has been in the fact that if
a school makes blanket statements, like "no baggy pants", "no bandanas", no
dickies, we may be chasing symbols that aren't even relevent anymore. Were
busy chasing this perfect dress code and the kids have replaced it with
something more subtle.
How can we address the issue? How can we get kids to think about
their actions, motives, etc. What gangs represent, how to "deal" with
confrontations, etc.
As art teachers, I think we can give them tools. Someone brought up
the guy who worked with gang kids painting murals over places that were
highly tagged areas. As art teachers, can we, by getting the kids to do
some critical thinking, and giving them some positive hands on experiences
show them something meaningful through art which could replace the gangs? It
won't happen for the masses, but maybe for one or two. How many of you were
significantly influenced by your art teacher or another creative teacher?
Can we replace rather than repress?
The fact that this has become such a hot and controversial issue is
because it is so relevant. We all agree fear and threats and violence (often
linked with gangs) cannot be tolerated in our classrooms. We also believe
there is wisdom, and goodness within students (often well hidden) if
properly nurtured.
How can the art teacher (who usually finds solutions years before
the other teachers catch on) turn this exposed social problem into good?
Am I just naive?
Teresa Sheffey