Summer classes explore cultural issues
Jun 06, 2012 (The Portales News-Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
As Eastern New Mexico University faculty get ready for the summer semester, health and physical education professor Matthew Martin prepares to teach a new course geared toward getting students thinking about racial and gender issues and how violence plays a part.
"I came up with all the topics," Martin said. "I'm reading about sociological and psychological issues, which generated ideas for that course."
Martin said students enrolled in the theory course will be required to watch videos of the personal experiences of people of mixed races and gay athletes.
He said questions he will ask his students will include does racism still exist? Do you think professional athletes have a responsibility to discuss racial responsibility with the media and bring awareness to these issues? And, are athletes more comfortable now about discussing their sexuality?
"For some students, depending where they grew up, for example, if they grew up in a rural area, they may not have thought about these issues, so watching these videos may help broaden their mind a little bit," Martin said.
Martin said one of the videos students will watch will entail interviews with gay athletes and some of the challenges they faced with coming "out of the closet" to their teams.
He said he plans to discuss the stereotype of violence, especially in sports, as masculine.
Martin said he will give students a scenario in which he asks them, if one of your best friends is gay and he's an athlete at ENMU who is thinking about coming out to his teammates, what advice would you give him based on the research from the video?
Another summer course isn't new but is no less unique in its approach.
"I try to keep it as exciting and fun as I can but we are making academic material out of rock 'n' roll," said music instructor Travis Erwin. "I try to bring perspective to the material. In the context of the historical happenings of the period, it's interesting how rock and roll applies."
The course is Survey of Rock and Roll in which Erwin will discuss the history of rock 'n' roll with his students and how it has impacted and been impacted by culture through time.
"It's getting students to listen and think critically," Erwin said. "I try to get students to think about what music is and emotional musical experiences they've had with it and why they listen to what they listen to."
Erwin said as part of the course, he has students deconstruct and break down the rock star to gain insight into how the modern rock star stereotype emerged.
"The bar of success is always set at the rock star," Erwin said. "We confuse fame with success. We're programmed to approach it as 'yeah, rock 'n'roll!' As a whole, the rock star is not a responsible character."
Erwin said this will be his fifth time teaching the course and he has received positive feedback from prior students in the class.
"I try to stay lighthearted in my deconstruction," Erwin said. "I think that a lot of students have never done that (deconstructed the rock star) before and I think in ways, it suppress them I do that."
The last day to register for ENMU's first four-week session was Wednesday.
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