I was all ready to launch this new site with a great, positive blog about the benefits and wonders of self-directed learning, and then I saw this ad:
I despise this ad on several levels.
I despise it because it’s so damned patronizing. It basically comes right out and says that parents are clueless creatures who need “help” to know what their kids are up to.
I despise the people who sat around and decided that the image that would best depict truancy is a young black boy playing a Nintendo DS.
I despise the assumption that there is only one place children should be at 9am: in a classroom.
The only thing I love about this is that in the photo I took you can see Maya’s reflection (at the top of the text box near the bottom of the ad) and her expression says it all.
I would like to tell the ad agency, (& whoever in the DOE hired the ad agency) that if sitting in the sun playing a Nintendo DS at 9am is better than being in school, maybe there is something wrong with the school, not the kid.
Oh I know, there are those out there who will immediately whip out their sheet of statistics and probably tell me that truancy rates are a huge problem in schools, especially among young black male teens, many of whom come from broken homes and whose parents really don’t know whether they are attending school or not. You’ll tell me that for these kids, school is their best chance at a decent job, but only if they graduate!
It’s the same conversation year after year. And yet nothing changes.
Yes, there are huge challenges in some inner city areas, but the question remains: why is this boy more interested in playing a DS at 9am than in being in school? Could it be that in school he is labeled, categorized and unhappy? No one, not even young black boys from bad neighborhoods, leave a place where they feel empowered; where they have a sense of self-direction & worth.
I despise everything this ad stands for, and everything it misses. It is looking at the symptom of truancy, with no attempt to address the problem of schooling.
In other words, it’s business as usual.