Publisher: Between the Line
Released: April 30, 2019
White Spot, a popular BC restaurant chain, solicits hamburger concepts from third and fourth grade students and one of their ideas becomes a feature on the kids’ menu. Home Depot donates playground equipment to an elementary school, and the ribboncutting ceremony culminates in a community swathed in corporate swag, temporary tattoos, and a new “Home Depot song” written by a teacher and sung by the children. Kindergarten students return home with a school district-prescribed dental hygiene flyer featuring a maze leading to a tube of Crest toothpaste. Schools receive five cents for each flyer handed to a student.
While commercialism has existed in our schools for over a century, the corporate invasion of our schools reached unprecedented heights in the1990s and 2000s after two decades of federal funding cuts and an increasing tendency to apply business models to the education system. Constant cutbacks have left school trustees, administrators, teachers, and parents with difficult decisions about how to finance programs and support students. Meanwhile, studies on the impact of advertising and consumer culture on children make clear that the effects are harmful both to the individual child and the broader culture. Captive Audience explores this compelling history of branding the classroom in Canada.