Sunday, October 2, 2011

Should advertising be allowed in schools?

Nicola has sent me a message presenting the following views and providing links to a range of different web sites discussing the issues involved:

‘A school should be a simulating learning environment for our children. We trust our schools with our children to provide them with an opportunity to learn and grow. The school breaks this trust by allowing corporations to influence and manipulate their minds. As adults we have the ability to be critical of advertising, however, a school environment is one of trust, therefore, children are more likely to take the advertising at face value. Furthermore, the advertising appears to be endorsed by the school that heightens its power when compared to other contexts.

America has led the way on this form of advertising in schools. The present push by the major supermarkets to put advertising billboards on our school gates and in our schools in the form of voucher collectors is the first step. The use of TV screens with commercials and product placement in our classrooms is not far behind this. Is this the direction we want to take our education system and the welfare of our children?

There should be a blanket ban on advertising in schools as it exploits our children. In the interest of your children, please speak to your children's school management and lobby for the removal of banners and voucher collection.’

It seems to me that this is a matter that should be decided by parents’ organisations in individual schools. If parents think that some form of commercial sponsorship is an appropriate method of fund raising, why should I object?

However, there is probably no harm in expressing a personal view. In my view schools must be really desperate for ways to raise money to allow commercial organizations into schools to give prizes to kids for singing advertising jingles. What is the world coming to?

For further explanation of what Nicola is writing about, see this story in ‘The Australian’. There is a paper here discussing the methods of modern marketing being applied in schools.

I neglected to say that Nicola Moir is a Sydney artist.  The emphasis of her work is on what she describes as 'the forgotton spaces we inhabit between work, home and leisure' - 'the spaces where we come together as a community'. Her web site is well worth visiting. Among other things it might prompt you to consider whether you really are 'a happy little vegemite'. (For the benefit of non-Australians, the vegemite song is probably the most successful advertising jingle ever aimed at children in Australia.)

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