NOTIONS – TOPICS – PROBLEMATIQUES

Welcome to the new school year 2017-2018!

This blog is going to focus on the 4 notions and their definition. First by looking at the notions, you will notice that they all include 2 terms which are linked together by “and” or “of”. (Spaces AND exchanges, seats AND forms of power, the IDEA of PROGRESS, myths AND heroes)

  • Interroger la mise en relation des termes – cette relation est-elle de complémentarité? d’ opposition? de corrélation? de causes ou d’effets? Ainsi vous éviterez de ne traiter qu’un terme ou les traiter l’un après l’autre alors qu’ils sont liés entre eux. Posez vous la question : “quel enjeu puis-je dégager de cette confrontation des termes ?”

Idea of progress : il s’agit bien de l’idee de progres- donc de la représentation que nos sociétés se font du progrès – et pas seulement du progrès  en lui-même. Viewed from this angle, progress becomes a double-edged sword.

I am going to give you very simple definitions of the notions, but I will advise you to come up with your own definition. A list of topics will also be given but it is the key question (la problematique) which will determine the choice of your documents.

FORMULER UNE PROBLEMATIQUE

CONCRETEMENT UNE PROBLEMATIQUE C’ EST:

  • Une question ouverte à laquelle on ne répond pas par oui ou par non
  • Elle est introduite par : How, to what extent, why, etc..

Myths and Heroes

Myths exist in every society, as they are basic elements of human culture. We can understand a culture more deeply and in a much better way by knowing and appreciating its stories, dreams and myths.There are many types of myths such as classic myths, religious myths, and modern myths etc.  

A Hero can be a mythological figure, a person who is admired for his or her achievements, a superhero or maybe a role model or an icon. Therefore heroes, just like myths, can be real or fictitious. Heroes are people we can look up to, people who inspire like sport personalities, political figures, entrepreneurs, artists, etc..  Heroes lead, inspire, and entertain the masses.

A few examples in the English speaking world:

  • rags to riches stories : Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, JK Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, Andrew Carnegie, Charlie Chaplin,Anita Roddick
  • Historical figures or National leaders who can be considered as heroes: Queen Victoria, Elisabeth I and II, Obama, Mandela, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malala Yousafzi, Ghandi …..
  • Founding myths of the United States (Pilgrim Fathers, The myth of the frontier, the myth of the Road, the Gold Rush, the American dream, witch hunts)
  • Unsung Heroes or fallen heroes of the Vietnam War that are portrayed in American films (Platoon, Born on the 4th July, Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket)
  • Pop stars or sports heroes (and fallen idols)
  • American movies and comics: superheroes such as Superman or Captain America and their role in society/world
  • British heroes or heroines: Churchill, Florence Nightingale, the Suffragettes, Stephen Hawking…..
  • British myths and legends: Robin Hood, King Arthur, etc.

In our class, we will focus on the topic of  Witch Hunting in the USA by asking the following questions : Are witches a myth of the past ? From Witch-hunts and Communist-hunts to Terrorist-hunts Why have witch hunts been a recurrent element in modern American history?

The Idea of Progress

The idea of progress is the idea that advances in technology, science and social organisation can bring about a positive change to our society. These advances help improve our daily lives and give us a better quality of life. Social progress, scientific progress and economic development are usually considered as having a positive effect on our society. However the idea of progress is not progress since there are some cases where this change can have a negative effect too. Very often progress is also accompanied by opposition because society isn’t comfortable with the changes being made (same sex marriage, women’s rights, minority rights). We can ask ourselves whether progress is always positive?

There are many kinds of progress and they can be divided in diverse areas.

  1. Technological progress

The technological advances of the last decades have totally changed our world. For example, the arrival of internet has changed the way we communicate. On the one hand we have access to far more information than before, we can easily communicate across borders, buy new products, be informed about the latest news events, share our opinions about different topics but on the other hand, many people have become addicted to social media and this creates new problems such as depression, isolation, bullying, cyber criminality…..

  1. Scientific progress

Scientific progress has had a direct impact on the improvement of human life. Thanks to advances in medicine we can cure illnesses that could never have been cured in the past. Vaccinations,Antibiotics, painkillers and other medical treatments have helped to improve our general state of health and survival rates. But could there be a point where progress come too far? What should be the importance given to ethics? What about scientific progress in the area of cures for illnesses, cloning, performance enhancing drugs,   genetically modified organisms etc?

  1. Social progress

Social progress most often comes about when members of a population feel oppressed,  or second-class citizens (women’s rights, civil rights, etc).

Examples can be:

  • Scientific Progress – Medical advances, cures for illnesses, cloning, performance, enhancing drugs,   genetically modified organisms.
  • Technological Progress-  technologies to slow down climate change such as hybrid cars, wind turbines, solar panels, biofuel…..
  • Advances in communication:  the internet, social media, mobile phones, video games – how  they have changed our lives and the dangers of these modern ways of communication
  • Robots, automated production
  • Nuclear Power – for and against
  • Social Progress: changes in the quality of life – how does progress affect our/a society?
  • Education, employment, equality, family life, Women’s rights, human rights, minority rights The idea of liberty, freedom, democracy

We will focus on 2 topics

Scientific Progress :  Science and fiction : Does fiction draw inspiration from science or is it the other way round?

Social progress : Why is India said to be a country of contradiction?

Places and Forms of Power (also called Seats and Forms of Power)

In politics and social science, power is the ability to influence people’s behaviour. In order to live together members of a community accept rules, regulations, laws. This helps to create social cohesion but can also lead to conflicts and tensions. Even when authority seems absolute, there are always counter-powers which question it, aim at limiting its excesses and resist it. Power is also associated with authority and influence and certain places can be associated with the authority – for example the White House and the President of the USA, 10 Downing Street and the British Prime Minister etc..

Examples to illustrate the notion can be:

  • the power of the media (reality tv, internet v written press)
  • Financial power (the power of money)
  • Inequalities between blacks and whites – the fight against oppression and segregation (South Africa, USA)
  • The Civil Rights movement and political recognition : Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X (can also be linked to the notion of Myths and Heroes)
  • The power of Art (The Harlem Renaissance – Banksy..)
  • Cinema and power: how do films influence society? Movie stars using their fame to influence public opinion on certain topics (Leonardo Dicaprio, Schwarzenegger)
  • The power of education: improving knowledge and education across the world and enabling access to education for all (Malala)
  • The power of music and the music industry: songs used to change people’s opinions on political subjects (vietnam war, US President, poverty, climate change), pop stars who use their fame to bring about changes in the world (Bono, Bob Geldof, Madonna)
  • People’s empowerment

We will focus on

Protest songs : How have protest songs fought political power? How have they contributed to social progress?  (also to be linked with Myths and heroes because some of these protest songs have become myths – also to be linked with the notion of Idea of progress – how have these songs contributed to social progress?)

Civil Rights: To what extent have African Americans achieved equal civil rights? Are African Americans still second-class citizens? (also to be linked with Myths and Heroes and Idea of Progress) : MLK, Rosa Parks etc… Heroes who have inspired others and contributed to social progress

ART as a form of power : How has the Harlem Renaissance contributed to forge a black identity? (also to be linked to Spaces and Exchanges : The Great Migration to Northern cities – Migration for a better life)

Spaces and Exchanges

This notion deals with the geographical and symbolic areas (spaces) that all societies occupy and the interactions (exchanges) between men and different societies. Our world is built on the exploration and conquest of new spaces. The different cultural, economic, sociological and language interactions have shaped and characterised our modern-day world.

Examples can be:

  • India : Progress and traditions –
  • Working conditions (telecommuting, internet)
  • Globalization (the world has become a small village) – global cities
  • School and education (social diversity / knowledge)  comparison of the different educational systems – the brain drain
  • The Internet / social networks… a new virtual space ….the advantages and disadvantages of increased access to sites such as Facebook and Twitter -Cyber criminality, identity theft, cyber bullying, internet scams..
  • the movement of people: Immigration  to the UK, to the US, the Brexit
  • movement across borders (Gap Year) – student exchanges

We will focus on 2 topics :

Global cities: To what extent do migrants contribute to population and economic growth in global cities?  why are migrants attracted to global cities?

Migration: The migration of African Americans to Northern cities – In search of a new identity – Reason to migrate – Attraction to urban life.

 

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