The Story of Stuff Update
Recently I returned to The Story of Stuff Blog to see what had transpired since I last wrote about The Story of Stuff in May. I learned that Annie Leonard is planning to release a follow-up video in November, with more videos to come. The biggest news, from my point of view, is about the ongoing promotion of The Story of Stuff to schools:
We’re developing a two-week educational curriculum—aligned to national standards, with a strong focus on critical thinking—that provides teachers with a fuller set of tools to help students consider and debate the message of The Story of Stuff.
The deferential nod to “national standards” and “critical thinking” notwithstanding, the fact remains that The Story of Stuff presents a controversial and one-sided view of how a market economy works. It’s regrettable that this is taught as fact in the public schools.
Leonard acknowledges that The Story of Stuff promotes her opinions, but she says that students are free to disagree and debate her argument’s merits. I might see her point if teachers showed both The Story of Stuff and a documentary from a competing point of view (perhaps something from Free to Choose Media!), then held a discussion. However, when a school adopts this as a curriculum for two straight weeks, it goes way beyond showing a short documentary. It’s one thing to discuss a cartoon; it’s another matter entirely to challenge the curriculum.
I’m reminded of the presidential address back in September. Apart from the Department of Education’s curriculum, the speech was much like any other speech that politicians have given in schools. The questions and activities recommended by the government, which presupposed that students would be inspired by the speech, were the aspect that many critics found troubling.