My students discuss why it’s often so difficult to articulate why we love or don’t love some film, product, song, or book. We know we love it (or don’t) but we can’t say why. Furthermore, we discuss how our criteria for evaluation showcase interesting points about what we value as a culture. When I survey students regarding why they love certain works of art, they often point to universal standards that nobody–no matter what culture or circumstance–would oppose.
For example, students agree that we should value those things that build community, that transcend social class or education, and that foster hope. Community, accessibility, and hope.
My family loved the American Idol finale last night. It brought us back to all those years, in various neighborhoods, when we were all watching Idol together. Years ago, that’s what we talked about in grocery stores and in classrooms. It didn’t matter who you were, where you came from, or what was happening in your life, you were, at least in the United States, most likely watching American Idol. I think about how it brought us together and how hopeful it felt that someone like Carrie Underwood could sing her heart out and see her dream come true. As we watched the show last night, neighbors texted their thoughts, and I followed the commentary on twitter.
I hope another show or experience comes along that brings people together like this. It reminded me of the day I waited in an airport when the last Harry Potter book came out. Every person I saw was leaning against a wall, sitting on the floor, or slumped in a chair reading that book and talking to complete strangers about it.
Community, accessibility, and hope. We’re talking about these things in class and finding more criteria about what makes something good.