Drawing the Line Between the Good and the Bad Effects of Superheroes in Early Childhood Education

Drawing the Line Between the Good and the Bad Effects of Superheroes in Early Childhood Education

Rheinhold D. Muruti (University of Namibia, Namibia), Gilbert Likando (University of Namibia, Namibia) and Simon George Taukeni (University of Fort Hare, South Africa & University of Namibia, Namibia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7476-7.ch001
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The effects of superheroes on school violence has not been given adequate attention in research even though superhero movies, games, and characters are becoming increasingly popular worldwide. In addition, very little has been known particularly on the role of superheroes toward building children's nonviolent character and personality. This chapter focuses on how the effects of superheroes contribute to the learning process by examining both positive and negative effects. The chapter concludes with recommendations that map out practical implications for learning in schools.
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Superheroes have appeared in comic books since 1938 (Miettinen, 2011), in films, cartoons, and movies in subsequent years. With advances in digital technologies that characterised the fall of the 20th century, superhero content are now available also through games both online and on offline platforms. Both children and adults can now play games on different devices including smart-phones and tablets. Carlsson-Paige (2006) classify superhero games in the broader context of invented play with fictitious weapons or superhero action characters. Russel (2013) views a superhero as a type of character, figure or a fictional hero presented in comic books and digital content such as videos, games and films who possess special powers. Thus, superheroes are not ordinary human beings, but fictional. Russel (2013) furthermore places superheroes into different categories as portrayed in various media as: humans with super human abilities, costumed vigilantes, aliens, and robots. They are media characters imbued with extraordinary abilities, including superhuman strength or the ability to transform themselves into superhuman entities (Boyd, 1997).

Humans with superhuman abilities have powers above those of an ordinary person such as super-strength, ability to fly, and the ability to be invisible. This category of heroes is considered to be the most powerful over all types of superheroes. The next category is that of superheroes with special athletic ability that help them to fight crime. Heroes in this category gain temporal powers from a given object but lose such power once the object is removed. The last category that Russel (2013) identified is that of aliens and robots. Heroes in this category are perceived to have powers equal to those of superhuman category. However, they have abilities that allow them to fit in a community when they are not operating as heroes.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Multicultural: A diverse group of learners based on culture and ethnicity. The learners are placed in one group as in a classroom where they are exposed to learning resources from other cultures as with superhero.

Learning: A meaning making process that a child is engage in to towards understanding the surrounding environment.

Genre: A category of the classification of art work such as superheroes.

Fantasy Play: An imaginary or fictional act in drama or games.

Cognitive Development: The mental growth of a child. This is a developmental process that child go through towards maturity.

Socialization: A purposeful interaction that a child takes with others towards satisfaction of individual needs and social acceptance.

Development: The process of growth to a desired or acceptable level.

Prosocial: A positive conducts that promote social acceptance.

Superhero: A fictional character represented in comic books, videos, film, and games that poses extra ordinary power.

Supernatural: A special ability that is above that of a normal state.

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