Making Curriculum Pop


Big Brother is watching me.




I am a mild mannered high school teacher.

I pay my taxes. I read a book a week.

I don’t own guns. I have never been arrested.

I haven’t even had a speeding ticket.

I wear a blue button-down shirt and tan trousers, for heaven’s sake.


But yes, Big Brother is watching ME.


A few years ago, every public school teacher in our tiny Canadian province was given a laptop computer by our employer. I use mine for job functions, taking attendance, answering emails, making PowerPoint presentations.  And I write this little blog, semi-frequently turning out a column, an article or a book review with the expressed view that it might help other teachers of media education.


Sometimes I share my blog with my students, but only if it fits the lesson plan of the day. I think it is important for teachers to be able to model the kinds of activities they are asking students to complete. I just find the web site, hook the computer to an in-focus projector and beam it up on the board at the front of the class.


After writing a piece about the names of TV show characters, I found my blog had been blocked by the Dept. of Education scrutiners. The web-police, the thought-Gestapo, decided my blog was too dangerous to use in the classroom.


My blog was about “Third Rock from the Sun” characters, Tom, Dick and Harry. Apparently, I can’t use that term in my classroom.


To appease the Internet Invigilators, I took my blog off the site. So thanks for Big Brother, I am now officially Dick-less.




I share with you the original piece for your edification.


Not every TV show appeals to Tom, Dick and Harry.

By Mike Gange

Tom, Dick and Harry.
Code names for three average guys.
Three average guys, from some other planet, in fact, sent to see what-on-earth was going on, in “Third Rock From the Sun.” 

Dick is, of course, a bit of a you-know-what, in the way he treats others on earth, especially Dr, Mary Albright, who is indeed all-bright. And Harry lives up to the harum-scarum character the writers set him out to be. 

Names do so much to tell us about the character. British comic strip character Andy Capp is a ‘handicap’ to his wife Flo. Andy Capp is always playing football, rugby or cricket, and gets sent off for breaking the rules. His long-suffering wife, Flo, just goes with the flow. 

On the TV show, Will and Grace, the character traits are reversed. Grace is the one with the willpower. Everything she does, gets done with the force of her will. Meanwhile, Will, her gay roommate, does everything gracefully. The show is clearly about Will and Grace, but not in the way you might expect. 

Now, how about those evolutionary odd-balls, Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj? Lacking in the social graces, these mis-fits are constantly being shown up by the common Penny, whose common sense allows her to shine on The Big Bang Theory. 

Pop culture is a bit of a name-game.


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Replies to This Discussion

You might want to read (and highly recommend to your students if they're HS-age) Cory Doctorow's excellent Little Brother. It brings these themes, and many others, to the forefront in a highly engaging way!! Sorry you had to be one of the "victims" of BB. Maybe there's a Little Brother in your corner...?  :)

Thanks I will have a look!



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