In the UK, the educational failure of Black and Ethnic Minority young people, is largely blamed not on systemic racism, but on a lack of ‘role models’. Multiple initiatives exist to diversify the teaching workforce justified on the basis of the need to provide more role models to inspire young people. These initiatives contain naïve assumptions of culture matching, and gender matching. They simplify the relationships between teachers and students to ones of mimicry and ignore the experiences of the teachers involved. A new study by Patricia Alexander (pictured), focuses on teachers’ experiences. In this post I summarise what she found when she spoke to Black and Ethnic Minority teachers who identify as role models.
Posts Tagged ‘role models’
While recently Kim and Heather explored Beyoncé and Emma Watson’s positioning as ‘feminist celebrities‘, it’s equally important to think about a kind of celebrity closer to home: the reality TV personality. Young people may worship the god-like figures that grace their movie screens and concert stages, but the smaller screen offers a more accessible, more relatable celebrity through the phenomenon of reality TV. In this post, guest blogger John Brasington suggests that reality TV is one of those instances where celebrity culture can encourage a young person to take on new projects and develop through experiential learning, as they see other young people develop skills, whether that’s in singing, baking, or fashion designing. These reality TV personalities are ‘real’ individuals, who can also challenge dominant stereotypes about class, race, gender, or appearance.
Awards ceremonies are fascinating sites of analysis for those studying celebrity. While increasingly staged and manipulated, these ceremonies continue to offer the public the chance to catch a glimpse of famous people ‘being themselves’, promising us a rare insight into who they ‘really are’ behind their star image – from the red carpet interviews or falls (see Jennifer Lawrence) to candid shots of after party revelry. In this post Kim and Heather focus on one of the more rehearsed aspects of Awards shows – the acceptance speech. Here celebrities get a chance to represent themselves – as generous in acknowledging the co-workers, as family men and women, as political – as when Marlon Brando refused to attend the Academy Awards and sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native American civil rights activist to speak in his place as a protest against the treatment of American Indians by the film industry. Here we focus on a neglected gem of a speech from this year’s Academy Awards, that by Matthew McConaughey, which contained the remarkable revelation that he is his own role model.
This is the third of a series of posts exploring what the young people in our group interviews had to say about key global celebrities. Here Heather looks at the talk about singer and actor Beyoncé. Elsewhere on the website you can read what our participants had to say about Bill Gates and about Will Smith. If you’re interested in how we analysed our data to arrive at this account then follow this link, here I focus on how and why it appeared to be compulsory to like, even love, Beyoncé.
We are now coming to the end of the reality TV series Tough Young Teachers. This show, screened by UK publicly-funded youth channel BBC Three, focuses on the lives of six beginning teachers in ‘challenging’ London schools. We see these new teachers taking their first lessons. We hear their frustrations and their triumphs. We follow their progress through the ups and downs of the year. This makes good television, as the number of excited tweets each week using #ToughYoungTeachers indicates. However, among the enthusiasm is a strand of critique and concern coordinated by TeacherROAR, for the show focuses not on any first year teachers but on those who enter teaching through a relatively small but rapidly expanding route into teaching: Teach First. Politically popular with both the Labour party and the Conservatives, Teach First brings many fantastic – mostly young – people into teaching. So why the resistance? While Michael Gove may see this as yet more evidence that many teachers are leftie ‘enemies of promise’ more interested in ideology than in supporting young people, in this post Heather shows why we really should be concerned about Teach First and its celebrity teachers.
Bryony Kimmings will open our celebration of the project on the evening of 10th July with an illustrated lecture. Details in the poster below. Either book your place by emailing us, or directly through our eventbrite page
Well, 2014 has well and truly started and there’s no let up for the team with lots of analysis being undertaken in the coming months. Last year we finished all our school data collection and began coding and analysing the data from the group interviews, and we’ve now moved on to looking at the individual interviews with our participants which explore in greater depth their own aspirations and imagined futures. These interviews were fascinating to conduct and now to return to. We’ll be posting blogs about those individual interviews soon, but we thought we’d start the year by reflecting further on some of the initial analysis we’ve conducted on our group interview data. In these group interviews, we focused on exploring young people’s views on celebrity culture: the celebrities they liked, disliked, and how these evaluations of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ celebrities were made. As we’ve discussed elsewhere, while many of our 12 case study celebrities generated relatively mixed views among our participants, one celebrity in particular was universally liked, if not loved: Will Smith, variously located as an inspirational role model, a dream father, an entertaining friend and ‘cool guy’. In this blog post Kim explores some of the patterns and themes in young people’s talk about Will in those group interviews and begins to question what these might reveal about young people’s collective sense making in relation to aspiration, success and race.
In another post, I’ve described how we’re analysing the group interview data by using broad codes such as social class and origin stories and then looking for patterns within these. This is producing loads of fascinating lines of analysis. In this post I look at just one of these that’s come out of my work on the code for gender. Alongside looking at performances of masculinities and femininities in celebrity talk and tracking cross-gender identification, this code contains data on how women and girls are constructed by young people in their engagements with celebrity culture. Depressingly, the dominant associations are with disgust – at feminine bodies and feminine tastes. We have written about this disgust in our discussion of Tampon Girl and the Kardashians, here I focus on a more positive pattern of talk around ‘independent’ women.
X-Factor judge and singer Tulisa was in the press last month for her response to comments made by fellow judge Louis Walsh about her ‘WAG’ status. On a recent live show, Louis called Tulisa ‘Mrs WAG’, referring to media reports of her relationship with footballer Danny Simpson. In a quick and defensive riposte, Tulisa replied: ‘Excuse me? You mean I’m a WAF! It means: “Was Already Famous”’. In this post, Kim takes a look underneath the meanings of WAG and WAF and examines Tulisa’s position within wider debates about contemporary fame.
This post is a shout out to Bryony Kimmings‘ new artistic experiment. Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model (CLSRM for short) is a collaboration between Bryony and her 9 year old niece Taylor. Bryony got in touch with us a few weeks ago when we launched this website. She introduced herself:
I am a performance artist. I am based between Cambridge at a venue called the Junction and Soho Theatre and Southbank Centre in London. A contact in the education department of a big theatre sent me a link to your wonderful website and the research project you are currently amidst. Its raising some attention! They thought it would be useful reading for my current project.
The social statement for Bryony’s new project describes how it:
seeks to promote a non-conventional character as a role model for young people using the current strategies and methods available. The aim is to explore whether this character can have the same amount of influence on young people as the current conventional offer. If this succeeds then we can conclude that there is potential for an alternative offer for young people. If this fails we can make a more informed social comment on the current offer and the powers generating it.