Sunday, July 31, 2011

Using Music In Health Class, Part One: Rise Against's "Make It Stop"

Part One in a series detailing how I am using (or plan on using) music in my middle school health education classroom.

Music is a powerful force that many teenagers can find connections with. Music is a large part of their lives, and teenagers are constantly plugged into their iPods or on YouTube, listening away; music can be interpreted in as many ways as there are people. It also has the ability to influence us, in ways positive and negative.

Last school year, I experimented with a part homework, part classwork activity that involved analyzing song lyrics relating to sexuality. The eighth grade students I completed this assignment with really enjoyed it; it was not difficult for them to find songs dealing with sexuality related topics or issues: love, breaking up, cheating, stereotypes, sexual violence, sexuality, gender issues, sexism, body image, etc. Songs came from many genres, some were parodies and some were serious. The details about this assignment are not to point of this post, but rather to highlight one band's song that is tackling a big issue facing American teenagers.

DISCLAIMER: I wouldn't call myself a "fan" fan of Rise Against, but I do enjoy a lot of their music. I used to listen to "Broken English" in college during my warm-up runs before races. I am in no way affiliated with them, just trying to spread the word about a positive thing: choosing to speak up about an issue many are ignoring.

Earlier this summer, the punk rock band Rise Against released a new song and music video that takes a stand against homophobia, and the song is also part of the nationally known It Gets Better campaign. The song is entitled, "Make It Stop (September's Children)" and was written during the influx of gay and gay-perceived teenagers committing suicide in September of 2010. Rise Against has always been into activism of any sort (they've been known to tackle political issues in their songs), and in that way, this song is no different from many of their other songs. MTV interviewed frontman Tyler McIlrath earlier this summer, and the video is meant to showcase Tyler's frustrations that so many teenagers across the country, from all sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds, races, etc. don't feel accepted at school.

I'm not entirely sure how I would use this in my classroom, but I do know that in order for students to fully understand with what they're learning, they have to be able to make a connection with it. This music video may be one such avenue with which to do so; as I mentioned before, music plays a large part in the lives of many teenagers. Whether the goal of music is to entertain or serve as a form of social protest doesn't matter, it can still help change the way people act. This video easily fits into numerous health topics. Hopefully, more bands, singers, performers, actors, athletes, and others who serve as role models for teenagers will begin to address issues like Rise Against has. As a teacher, it is part of my job to bring awareness to these issues, to begin those types of conversations, and to provide opportunities for tolerance within my classroom, hopefully extending out into the world.

The video is embedded below. Please be aware that some people may find it fairly intense. Be sure to check out the It Gets Better Project, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...