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Each person’s behaviour and self-perceptions are significantly affected by the society he/she lives in. The positive role of the society in dictation of standards and norms is in the regulation of social relations and interactions. Nevertheless, the stereotypes imposed by society provoke contradictory outcomes. Some people may not even notice that gender and age stereotypes influence their everyday life choices and decisions. It some cases, the stereotypes and the attempts to comply with socially accepted norms interfere a person’s freedom of expression and create constraints in the achievement of professional and personal goals.
Education plays one of the crucial roles in forming worldview and self-conscience of a young person. The traditional cultural artifacts implemented in the educational processes often become the means for transferring and implanting stereotypes in children’s minds. The expansion of social norms and perceptions is an up-to-date issue, and many professionals and amateurs contribute to the development of the alternative educational artifacts that are meant to reduce the gender and age-oriented approach towards education and science.
The new cultural artifacts include social media resources, movies, internet video channels, magazines, blogs, etc. The object of the analysis in this research is the Tumblr blog “The math kid” containing the information regarding the mathematical tuition. The analytical methods will include the evaluation of the artifacts’ representation of childhood and adulthood images as well as the concepts of masculinity and femininity reflected in the blog.
“The Math Kid” Analysis
The social struggles over race, class, gender, and sexuality along with the cultural struggles are reflected in educational systems to a great extent (Apple, 2005, p.272). In many ways, education supports the stereotypical thinking regarding the issues of adulthood and childhood and gender identity. For example, the identification with a particular social status is interconnected with gender. “Society maintains a different set of normative roles for women and men, and requires of them different responsibilities and kinds of work” (Taylor, 2003, p. 300).
The different normative roles in the society are also attributed to children and adults. The cultural and informational content in education is largely dependent on the students’ age and is related to the standards of behaviour and the assumed capabilities associated with childhood and maturity.
The consideration of gender and age conceptions in schooling can be useful because it allows the students to understand the biological and psychological differences between men and women, and learn about the various issues and challenges they may face while growing up. The evaluation of social norms from the perspective of gender and age must be included in school programs, but the adoption of these norms by students must be more conscious rather than passive and unintentional.
Nowadays, “when it comes to gendered behavior, many students are inclined to believe that differential outcomes in life for women and men are due to natural or innate differences (particularly differences related to biology) rather than the processes of socialization and social forces” (Taylor, 2003, p. 300).
Based on this, it is possible to assume that the content of the artifacts used for teaching contains the stereotypical messages which are easily and most frequently accepted by the students during the process of education. All kinds of stereotypes create prejudices which often become hindrances in building healthy relations, open self-expression, professional and personal growth, and development of potential. Therefore, educational strategies and policies must be “more diversified and student-oriented” (Jones, 2009, p. 35). The cultural artifacts need to be comprised of a wider range of options, views, and perceptions of norms to allow the students to adjust their behaviour to the most appropriate suitable one rather than blindly and unknowingly following the social preconceptions.
When talking about the mathematical education, the majority of people believe that the math is a more masculine subject which is not really for girls or women, who are, by assumption, less, if at all, prone to studying and majoring in the precise sciences. Often the teachers themselves are inclined to have gender and age preconceptions that they pass to the students and provoke diffidence and lack of interest to the subjects in them (Doyle, 2012). It is important to raise the teachers’ awareness regarding this issue and apply materials and cultural artifacts which are inclusive of all genders and ages and cause the increase of the student’ enthusiasm about learning a particular subject.
“The math kid” is the mathematical Tumblr blog containing various kind of information related to math: arithmetical equations, progressions, and formulas; mathematical design and art; literary quotations and references; animation, photos, and images, etc. The information is approachable for children, adolescents, and adults. A large number of posted explanatory images and eloquently depicted schemes posted in blog create a significant possibility that the children will be attracted to learning mathematics when this artifact is applied.
The posts combine the data of basic, intermediate, and advanced level with the images and photos of the pop culture characters, comics, and GIFs that will be appealing to the majority of students. “The math kid” thus is a useful artifact for the development of interest to the subject, a better and easier assimilation of information, and elaboration of the diversified and enthralling lessons.
The author of the blog addresses the gender issues by posting the images that promote the studying of math by females. One of the posts contains the illustrations of sophisticated and well-dressed women who include the mathematical terms and definitions in their speech while talking about the daily pursuits and activities. For example, one of these women says: “I gave him the Fibonacci sequence instead of my phone number. 011 235 813 2134” (The math kid, 2016). This one and the similar posts contribute to the promotion of the positive image of women in mathematics and the present stereotypes’ break down.
Overall, the given cultural artifact can be considered as beneficial for the education of the young people. Although it is not sufficient as a primary tuition material, it may serve as an excellent additional and optional math source. “The math kid” is attractive both to children and adults, and the author takes into consideration both those who are passionate about mathematics and have some mathematical knowledge and the newcomers to the subject as well. The blog is written in a positive and friendly manner, and it is exclusive of any stereotypes. Therefore, “The math kid” is highly recommendable for children because it can provide assistance in the improvement of their math performance in school and keep them enthusiastic about learning and knowledge development.
Many students face the lack of support in their interests and personal development preferences. It often happens that boys and girls are struggling with the teacher’ incompetence when they try to talk the students out of the “inappropriate” choice of major subject and occupation (Doyle, 2012). The lack of support makes many students to decide against their personal interests and to follow a convenient way of the normal and the socially accepted behaviour.
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Not every student can have a great determination to achieve results and professional accomplishments by him/herself. There are also the significant numbers of students who still try to find out what to do in their life. “Teenagers are especially contradictory and still figuring it out” (Gevinson, 2012, par. 5). Therefore, motivation is essential. The people who are inspirational and passionate about their field of interest provide the best impetus for self-development. The author of “The math kid” is exactly a type of a passionate person who considers mathematics “a major part of…identity” (The math kid, 2016). A good example can provide some support for students in learning the subject.
The Pedagogical Evaluation
The identity-based artifacts play an important role in the modern education. In the present-day world, the global community experiences the transformation of the conventional forms of interrelations and norms of behaviour as the social diversity expands and increases. People now recognize different rights and relationships, and it is clear that some changes in the educational policies are required (Jones, 2011, p. 369).
The transformation of the educational system takes time, but the teachers can contribute to the improvement of educational methods and techniques by including the diverse new cultural artifacts in the tuition programs. First of all, the curriculum must include “a broader diversity of texts.” (Hastie, 2011, par. 8). Such artifacts like Tumblr blogs can efficiently support the diversification of the textual resources for education, and can provide a modern and original perspective on the subject learning.
“The math kid” blog’s representation is limited, and it cannot be used as the main source for studying. However, the artifact can be effectively used as the additional source of knowledge. First of all, the visual presentation of the blog can be used for drawing the attention of the students to the subject during the lesson.
The source is abundant with the pictures of mathematical schemes, geometrical objects, elements, and structures which can be applied to support the introduction of new information based on the primary materials and facilitate memorizing. The spectacular visual animation, the cartoon screens, and comics will help to bring a little bit of fun to learning mathematics. Most of the students regard the sciences as something daunting and boring, “The math kid” is the source of materials that are aimed to change their opinion, at least, a bit. It is important to promote the idea that mathematics can be studied for fun as well as the other subjects. The easy-going approach of the blog is of tremendous help in this regard.
“The math kid” contains many math tasks that could be used for the students’ practice in class. The author has posted the references to the websites with mathematical games and puzzles. The provided links can be implemented both as a practical assignment in class and homework. The online games are the excellent alternative group activities, and they assist the improvement of knowledge and increase the level of cohesion among the classmates.
The artifact can also be regarded as the database of the literature sources for those who are interested in mathematics. The suggested books are related to the entry level as well as to the advanced level of expertise. Therefore, “The math kid” can be recommended for the students as the source for self-education and extra training.
The inclusion of the Tumblr blog into the list of the educational sources supports the development of interest towards mathematics. It is expected that the materials posted on the blog will assist the improvement of the students’ performance in the class by making understanding and adoption of information easier. The application of the visuals and the jokey illustration will help to relieve tense and develop a more relaxed and entertaining environment in the class.
Nowadays, it is the age of internet and new technologies. The informational technologies are an integral part of everyday life. The skills of computer and electronic devices operation and being an advanced internet user are now required at each workplace. The inclusion of mass media, the cultural artifacts, and technologies in the educational processes is thus of tremendous importance. The current and future generations of students will experience a greater technological development and advancement, and educational strategies need to be capable of providing the up-to-date knowledge and learning processes must keep up to the rapid pace of changes.
The popular culture artifacts reflect the variety of social movements and tendencies. Usage of mass media, blogs, and other internet resources in teaching helps the students to have a broader outlook. In combination with the development of critical evaluation, rationalization, logical thinking, and ethical attitude the cultural artifacts can help students to improve the knacks of orientation in the world abundant with all sorts of opinions and perspectives, increase the level of tolerance, and find the things and subjects that would interest them most.
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