Monday, November 2, 2009

There is Hope for the Future: Harvard Class on The Wire

It's been a long time since I talked about my favorite HBO show that hasn't aired in a couple years, mainly because I'm in serious withdraw and need to get my hands on Season 4 and 5 to complete my collection.

If you still haven't found time to check out The Wire in any way you can, do it, because it's incredible.

How incredible? Incredible enough to become the basis for a class at Harvard.

Now, some people are going to think what I am going to say in this post is ridiculous, and that is perfectly fine; I don't expect everyone to agree with everything I say. That being said, reading about the introduction of this class gives me hope for the future.

William J. Wilson, the professor who will be offering the class, offered this explanation for using the program as the basis for a course at the Ivy League institution:

I do not hesitate to say that it has done more to enhance our
understanding of the challenges of urban life and the problems of urban
inequality, more than any other media event or scholarly publication including
studies by social scientists.

While some may think that it is impossible to learn more from a fictional television show, the truth is that the things happening right now in our world are far better teaching tools than anything you can find in an antiquated textbook.

The world is changing rapidly and discussions of the ills that infect our society cannot be found in the history books; they are modern problems that need modern answers and to be discussed without pretense, which is precisely what The Wire did with urban life for five years on HBO.

Though I agree with Santayana that "those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it," I am more inclined to see the problems affecting our world right now be taught, studied and dealt with than worrying about what could happen in the future or what took place in the past.

What good is learning about wars that took place decades ago when poverty, drugs and crime cripple communities every day and go undiscussed? Instead of learning about the sociology of ancient civilizations, why not study the societies right outside our windows?

Is a class framed around the struggles portrayed on a television show the answer to the challenges of urban life?

Probably not, but at least Professor William J. Wilson and Harvard are willing to take a real look at the question...

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