I think a lot of the projects we do in MS Humanities involve remixing, reworking and parodying existing materials. Students are really good at quickly copying things and putting their own spin on it – in a good way. To use a relatively low-tech example, here’s a G6 student’s imitation National Geographic article for our Invent A Long-Lost Civilization project. Notice the conscious change of the title so as not to infringe on National Geographic’s copyright, and the pride and care which was put into the fake ads at the start and end of the “magazine”:

This sort of thing comes very naturally to students. It’s fun to put your own twist on something that you’ve seen before. It’s easy to turn these things (songs, images, videos) to your own purposes. It’s how we express ourselves creatively and how we show we’re learning to take on creative leaps of our own. One of the most interesting content bleed-throughs I’ve seen happened last year in G7 Humanities, when we spent a few between-units days on digital citizenship and fair use, then tackled the Renaissance. As the unit went on it became clear that the Renaissance’s lessons about artistic creativity, apprenticeship, and the concept of the lone genius had gotten all mixed up with ideas about remixes and fair use in several students’ minds. I liked this. So, for example, in the words of a 7th grader, in her essay on whether it’s possible for one genius to change the world:

“…I gave you some examples of the geniuses and showed some evidence that one person can’t change the world. I have another reason, which is that everything is a remix. We watched this video about everything is a remix. For example Michelangelo is mostly known as the man that made the statue of David. A lot of people made the same statue before. Although Michelangelo’s statue was the most famous. I think he couldn’t make this statue without the people that made the same statue before.”

I agree!

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