About 10 years ago, Chef and TV personality Jamie Oliver led a successful campaign to improve the quality and nutritional value of school dinners. The TV series aired in 2005 (“Jamie’s School Dinners”) played a significant part in changes being made to the policies surrounding the content of school lunches across the country. This campaign coincided in a timely manner with my early teaching of the concept of minority influence and social change (as featured in the now historical AS AQA spec A Social Influence topic) and I used Jamie for many years as a hook on which to hang the concepts of consistency, commitment and other factors that can lead to a change in the majority view point and behaviour. Over the years, however, students became less aware that school dinners had been anything but “healthy” and less familiar with Jamie Oliver, so the relevance of this real life example of minority influence declined. Imagine my delight then when Jamie jumped right back up on his high horse, this time about the amount of sugar we are eating, in his Channel 4 documentary “Jamie’s Sugar Rush” (airing at time of posting) which makes a perfect hook for the new specification (AQA).
The new specification
AQA’s new specification for AS and A Level Psychology includes the following in topic 4.1.1 Social Influence:
- Minority influence including reference to consistency, commitment and flexibility.
- The role of social influence processes in social change.
Some textbooks break social change into the influence of minorities and majorities separately. Jamie’s campaign at the moment fits the bill for the teaching of minority influence and as an example of social change through minority influence.
Jamie’s new campaign
The majority view point is that sugar is great, in fact a necessity, and we are eating the sweet stuff by the sticky bucket load every day, often without even realising it. Jamie’s aim is to fight obesity by helping us make better choices about our food and drink intake. The minority – Jamie and non-celebrity nutritional experts who have probably been saying this for years – would like us to see sugar for the baddy it is and reduce our intake dramatically. As this campaign is in its infancy it provides a perfect opportunity for students to imagine they are part of the campaign team and work out how to ensure they are as influential as possible. This could be done by providing students with historical examples such as the Suffragettes and Jamie’s first campaign (other examples are on the AQA scheme of work) and analyse how they were able to be influential. Students could then plan a campaign using these strategies and present to the class teacher – who might like to pretend to be Jamie Oliver if you like a bit of role play (I’m seeing sugar-free snacks playing a part in this lesson too!).
In – and outside – the classroom: flip it!
As part of the planning process students could analyse these campaigns and consider how successful they have really been. Attitudes towards women have changed dramatically as a result of many things including the Suffragettes but although school policies might have changed as a result of Jamie’s first campaign, it is not clear whether people’s attitudes to food have really shifted (follow this link to read an article published in the Guardian which suggests Jamie’s first campaign may not have been that successful after all).
This is the sort of activity that often traditionally might take the following – not very productive – pattern:
- Lesson on the research including Moscovici.
- Get students into groups and set homework to plan strategies for making Jamie’s new campaign successful. Work in groups for homework (1 person will probably do all the work!).
- Lesson for presentations.
- Another lesson for the presentations there wasn’t time for (or for those who were absent) and a plenary…
An alternative and more time productive approach would be to introduce a few concepts at the end of the previous lesson to introduce minority influence and social change and clarify any new terms, then set the reading about Moscovici’s research and social change for homework with clear guidance to bring notes to the lesson (you could provide headings to help students avoid copying and provide structure). In the next lesson on this topic (with an appropriate time allowance for the homework) ask students to work in their groups on how they can use what they have learned to help Jamie. Instead of spending a whole lesson on presentations ask each group to record a simple video or audio presentation (this can be done by adding narration to a Power Point presentation for example) of their campaign suggestions which can be handed in and watched/listened to by the teacher outside of the lesson. Choose a small selection of the videos/audios to analyse as a class and ask the groups questions about their strategies and ask them to justify their ideas, commenting on each other’s work. This turns a 4 lesson sequence of learning into a more productive 2 lesson sequence with lots of active reflection rather than passive presentation and will allow you as the teacher to ensure of the concepts students will have acquired from their reading have been revisited and their understanding of them assessed.
Now I’m off the have a cup of tea and a biscuit – sorry Jamie!