Batman in the classroom?

[MenTeach: A person posted an interesting question in the forums.]

I was wondering if anyone had any experience in trying to teach superheroes to preschoolers.

The school I teach at is high/scope and has a ban on superheroes. Many of the boys in my class have expressed interest in Batman, and I want to use his influence to teach about what a real hero is, and emphasize the "saving" over the "fighting".

My fear is that with the movies, comics, and cartoons becoming more and more violent, they might be too young to catch the subtext, and all they see is muscle guys in capes pounding the crap out of each other. I want them to know that Batman's job is to protect people. I hoped to couple this lesson with a create-your-own superhero project, but was turned down by the school director.

Does anyone else think that banning superheroes might be a little prejudicial to the boys?

When they bring up superheroes in class, and are told that it's not okay, I feel it sends the message that "what is important to you doesn't count." Boys like superheroes, and that is never going to change.

All I want is to put a positive spin on superheroes, and maybe empower a few of my kids to become heroes themselves.

Any thoughts?

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Batman/everyday heroes

Batman is the man. Who else besides Batman fights crime with his brain and a handy batcomputer and not brawn. I struggled with this a few years ago in my child care. I had 5 pre-school boys and my daughter. My problem was that 3 of the boys were watching Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers for an hour or more every morning before coming to my home. They were also piling on even more hours on the weekends. Can you say over stimulated and ready to rumble by 6:46 every weekday morning!

I initially tried to substitute rescue heroes for power rangers but that didn't work. Every fischer-price rescue hero including the dog and bald eagle came with a weapon of some sort. Why does a firefighter need a bazooka? So I resorted to Batman and then my own everyday heroes. Batman is sometimes on cartoon network (I think that is the one) which is a newer darker version of batman along with Teen Titans with Robin? They are not my Batman! My batman is Adam West of the late 60's tv series. The newer movies of Batman are darker than the spoof that was the tv series

The only way I could find to introduce my version of Batman was to give each one of my families a dvd of the Batman movie. I also gave my families copies of the old Superfriends cartoon from Sat morning tv. That also lacks the violence of todays stuff. Batman worked really well because most of my dad's and some of my mom's had seen it as a child and it brought back memories which they were able to share with their children. So we started labeling everything we touched or did with the prefix bat. Bat-table, bat-chair, bat-swing, bat-trikes, nothing was spared! It worked short term but just couldn't compete with the hours of Turtles and Rangers being watched each week.

Eventually I turned to my own version of the super hero, every day heroes. We all had blankets for capes and I modeled what I thought a hero should be. Of course I was diaper man, I wore a Huggies pull up diaper on my head and sewed 2 cloth diapers together end to end for my cape. Everyday Heroes is a story that belongs in a seperate posting for another day on gender bias and roles.

If your program is against introducing superheroes I am not sure how to get the concept of a hero like batman across without taking on his persona yourself or a movie nite. Dressing up would be fun, I could see myself wearing the costume including tights and the U ti tility belt (that was one of my 3 1/2 year olds pronunciation of utility belt). I will have to say that by introducing superheroes into the classrom it is opening a huge can of worms. How do you screen out the more violent ones once they have been invited in? It is just like having gun play introduced into a program. Whether an invited guest or not, once it shows up there is no asking it to leave or going back. I had a 6 year old introduce gun play to "my boys" and it quickly morphed from simple stick play outside on the playset to everything even play food becoming a gun. 4 years later it is still being passed down no matter how hard I try to nip it. I know that's the big one, is it nature or nurture with gun play?

I wish you all the best in trying this because Batman is indeed one of a kind. Well, except for Wonder Woman, just ask my daughter. Wonder Woman only has her fast reflexes, magic lasso, invisible plane, and brains. She is the female Batman. That was a problem with the rescue heroes, in the first incarnation there were no women heroes! I believe there is at least one or two now. Good luck, have fun with it and please keep us posted. Are barbie and princess play ok for girls? Just curious.
Stephen Sullivan, family child care provider

I can't go into length on

I can't go into length on the subject now, but a great read is "We Don't Play With Guns Here" which is a study of sweeping no-tolerance policies relating to gun play in schools in the UK and it's impact in the classroom, specifically on boys. It looked at the rationale (or lack thereof) and the ways in which such play could be used constructively in the classroom, avoiding the alienation felt by boys (and other children) who did enjoy such play. Try Amazon for it...