In the article If Ideas WERE Fashion, Wong and Hendricksen describe their rationale for examining the lens of fashion (applied to education). They considered “phenomena of fascination” and determined that “people of all ages, across time, are drawn to fashion”. They further argue that fashion as a metaphor is both unusual and provocative, and present the idea as an avenue to lead educators to explore new possibilities for engagement.
Fashion, they argue, holds a highly intense interest and curiosity (especially in younger age groups) that also leads to deep emotional aspirations to become a certain kind of person and experience the “cool” fashion item, be it iPods, TV shows, or another other fashionable object. The authors examine the rise of the iPod and make comparisons to a new educational idea being introduced in class: “both involve the awakening of perception, the engagement of thinking and feeling, and the interchange of viewpoints and experiences with others”. While reading this article, I found myself nodding along and making connections to educational theories of community, engagement, agency, and social connectivism.
Further on in the article Wong and Hendricksen describe the power of images. Their discussion of a specific iPod Silhouette ad underlines the incredible power of images, videos, and music. Educational connections for me here are the many discussions and studies regarding “Death by PowerPoint”. We have all sat through non-engaging lectures with teachers reading from slides. I like to compare “slide reading” to my experience enjoying powerful presentations; I have often noticed the speaker’s image/video use. The best speakers limit their slides to very few words, and instead rely on slides with images to form a starting point for communicating ideas and concepts to captivated audiences. According to Wong and Hendricksen, compelling images can “sell a science idea” stamping onto the minds of the viewer a powerful idea, unforgettable; a picture is truly worth a thousand words :)
Within my course Paranormal and Pseudoscience I teach historical pseudoscience beliefs/practices as a means to get students thinking about scientific development. I present a series of images representing outdated beliefs and practices, such as medical bloodletting, spontaneous generation (of life), and phrenology (determination of personality and character from the shape/dimensions of one’s skull), and a selection of about 8 other “unbelievable” beliefs we have thankfully outgrown. One image ALWAYS creates a dramatic effect in class: a medical bloodletting kit (shown below). Bloodletting was widely believed to cure disease by the majority of the populace based on no evidence whatsoever. Many students have seen the act of bloodletting in movies and TV shows (reference Dracula for example). Students are shocked and appalled that this practice was commonplace (and often deadly). I go on to describe how Pierre Charles Alexandre Louis (c 1830s) documented cases where bloodletting was useless for treatment of pneumonia and various fevers; his scientific method and observations were the first step towards its demise as a standard procedure. Students actively consider how very important it is to make connections within their own critical thinking and the power of factual evidence and scientific results.
I really enjoyed this article; I have to copy/paste one of my favorite excerpts from the article below…
Whether trying on a new outfit or designing a science project, the fashion experience evokes anticipating, hoping, dreaming, wishing, desiring, and becoming. The energy, drama, and meaning of the experience are in exploring the imaginative bridge between the actual and an allusive possibility. At its best, education can and should do the same.
Week 2 Required Readings:
David Wong and Danah Hendricksen, “If Ideas WERE Fashion.” Mirror Images. Diana Silberman-Keller et al, Eds. Pp. 179-198.