I have often felt that in Western society we tend to shelter our kids from geopolitical issues – perhaps because we believe it might be too scary, or even that we don’t trust our children’s ability to process certain types of information. While we might not live in an active war zone, one issue that is extremely present in our day to day lives is racial inequality – and yet many well-meaning educators take cover under the “I don’t see colour” banner, that was been proved ineffective in multiple studies. Through the use of Sci fi Saunders gives us a platform where we can begin our discovery and journey into issues that have traditionally been hard to tackle, and less traumatic than watching some of the themes seen on our news channels. Sci-Fi also provides a large repertoire of choice when it comes to subject matter and age appropriate material for children, whether it be in cartoon, comic format or feature length movies – allowing critical thinking and discussions to be tailor made to the required audience.
In addition to sci-fi tackling geo political themes of war, refugees, nations, and the concept of being “alien”, several sci fi authors such as Ursula LeGuin tackle subjects related to feminism, sexuality, gender neutrality – all issues that are (or should be) part of the social conscience of today’s youth. On a personal level, I have come to appreciate Princess Leia so much more since having princess loving children – as she is an example in our household of a tough, strong, independent princess, contrary to the many damsel in distress Disney versions. I also appreciated Saunder’s cautionary note at the end of his paper – where he warns educators to be mindful to ensure that in the process of critical examination of themes, there isn’t a reinforcement of stereotypical representations often also seen in sci-fi.
The world is getting increasingly flatter and we can no longer pretend to be a separate entity from the issues that do not directly affect us. We have no choice but to ensure our children are raised to be global citizens – and most importantly social responsible ones!