Friday, July 19, 2013

Stop Playing "Ender's Game" With Chicago's Young People

I was startled yesterday to see that Harrison Ford has drawn a clear, direct connection between the upcoming major film release, Ender's Game, and drone warfare -- "I don't think it's a metaphor" -- and that the film's promoters have seen fit to create a "recruiting" video to whip up interest prior to the film's premiere in the fall.

"Battle School Needs YOU!"

I have been very concerned about the way the "dronification" of the military plays hand-in-glove with the "video-game-ification" of military recruiting. Video battle and the notion that "this is all just a game" is being used to suck our young people into this country's war-making ways using a veneer of "cool" and "awesome." (See Mothers Don't Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Drone Pilots . )

Look at all the cool stuff you get! Call of Duty Black Ops II "care package"

When we see the military and the entertainment industry ganging up to sell high-tech war to our kids -- whether through films like Ender's Game or video games like "Call of Duty" or other aspects of popular culture -- we need to push back.

There are some powerful forces marshalled against us. But the one place we should expect to be able to make progress is in our schools. So I was jolted into action when I saw this alert from a friend today:

For those not already familiar with the situation in Chicago: at a time when the City cannot be bothered to figure out how to run its own schools, but is instead closing dozens at a time, our leaders somehow think it's appropriate to let branches of the U.S. military have the run of the school and recruit kids -- and in some cases outright convert the school into a military academy. Parents in the Logan Square neighborhood are fighting a valiant effort to stop that from happening to the Ames School.

Ames Belongs to the Community!

As the neighborhood association website makes clear, "Logan Square Neighborhood Association fought to get Ames (1920 N. Hamlin) built to serve the entire community. Over the last 12 years, LSNA, Elev8 and Ames have built comprehensive community school programs—including PrimeCare Health Center, mentoring, sports, art, tutoring, counseling and university campus trips—for students and their families. All of this work could be dismantled if a military school is imposed at Ames without a real community process."

Think twice, Chicago! Is this what we want our schools to look like?

Drone pilot cockpit: just another video game?

Join the campaign to keep the military out of Ames! And make a commitment to get the military out of all of our schools. Tell them to stop playing "Ender's Game" with our young people!

More on Ender's Game . . . .

Related posts

A big Hollywood production of Ender's Game is scheduled for release on November 1. It's a perfect opportunity for us to ask: Are we happy seeing our schools turned into "Battle Schools"?

(See "Ender's Game" and the Militarization of Youth: Can We Talk About This? )

What are the 2 or 3 -- or 5, or 10 -- biggest lessons about "collaborating in peaceful mode" that we might be able to witness if we were to seek the answers in Minecraft worlds?

(See Go dig up the solution to world peace in a video game environment )

There are many books proffered to children that provide justifications for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The discourse on the use of atomic weapons is certainly a worthy topic of study for young people of a certain age. However, there is a distinction between critical reading of atom bombing history and passive receiving of atom bombing dogma. I am wondering about how this can be effectively broken down.

(See Approaching Hiroshima: A Challenge for Children's Literature and Peace Education )