Nickelodeon and Burger King have reached a new low. They've partnered to produce a new, highly sexualized, ad for a Burger King SpongeBob SquarePants Kids Meal.The commercial, which randuring the men's NCAA basketball championship last night, features The King singing a remix of Sir Mix-A-Lot's 1990's hit song, "Baby Got Back" with the new lyrics, "I like square butts and Icannot lie." The ad shows images of The King singing in front of women shaking their behinds for the camera intercut with images of SpongeBob dancing along. The King even measures the behind of one of the woman who has stuffed a phonebook under her dress. After the King informs children about the free SpongeBob toy they get with the purchase ofa Burger King Kids Meal, the ad ends with Sir Mix-A-Lot, lounging on a couch with two female admirers, saying, "Booty is booty."
It's harmful enough when a beloved media icon advertises junk foodto children, but it's utterly reprehensible when SpongeBob simultaneously promotes the objectification of women through sexualized imagery.
There is little doubt that Burger King was hoping to court controversy when they produced this ad. The company continually positions itself as an edgier alternative to other fast food chains. But it'sone thing to market edginess to adults. It's another to exploit children in the process. It is simply unacceptable that Burger King is objectifying women and using sexual stereotypes to lure young children to its restaurants.
As for Nickelodeon, it's bad enough that the company profits from using their most popular characters to sell kids on junk food. But to associate a beloved male cartoon character with lechery SpongeBob sends an even stronger message about how little Nick cares about the wellbeing of their devoted audience.
Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools For Empowering Young Children, by Louise Derman-Sparks (1989), Washington, DC: NAEYC - includes both philosophical and theoretical overview and specific activities to use in a preschool setting.
Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice (new edition in 2007) - a fabulous source book, although appropriate for the oldest children. includes both philosophical and theoretical overview and specific activities to use for adults and older children
That's Not Fair : A Teacher's Guide to Activsim with Young Children (2000) by Ann Pelo and Fran Davidson. Redleaf Press.
Writing for a Change : Boosting Literacy and Learning Through Social Action. This book is a collaboration between the National Writing Project (USA) and the Centre for Social Action (UK). The first half of the book describes a variety of experiences engaging in social action in the classroom. The second half provides specific models and activities to use. The book emphasizes creative and critical problem solving skills.
Heart Politics by Fran Peavey
What is Peace Education?
There are many dimensions to peaceful parenting, educating and living. Ghandi's famous words "Be the Change you Seek in the World" implore us to balance our work for a peaceful world with efforts toward finding inner peace. Yoga, meditation, writing love letters (instead of hate mail), sitting in silence, looking for the best in others -- these are peaceful practices that occur in our everyday lives and promote a peaceful existance. These are important practices - and easy ones for me to overlook. Yet they are not the only pieces. We also need collective action, creative problem solving and smart conflict resolution.
There seem to be 5 basic elements to peace education with young children:
1) Teaching children to calm themselves and develop a sense of inner peace, including teaching kids how to "cool off" when they are angry.
2) Teaching children a more expansive vocabulary around emotions and group process. There are many resources to promote social and emotional intelligence, and this learning helps kids develop empathy and to care about community.
3) Teaching children about social justice and diversity -- promoting anti-bias education and providing kids with information about "isms" (both historical and current) and tactics for challenging and resisting the status quo.
4) Providing children/community members with clear strategies for solving conflicts that allow all community members to maintain thier integrity and inclusion in the group. These strategies are non-violent and focus on win-win solutions. Confict is understood as normal, healthy and providing opportunities for growth and learning.
5) Education about peacemakers, peace movements and the possibilities of non-violence in social change. This moves the arena out of "skill building" and into content -- learning about the world of peace and peacemaking in a historical and global context.