Learning 21 Jun 2016

Understanding Advertising

By Sarah Aspillaga, Grade 2 Lead Teacher
Photograph by CIS Communications
The great poet, Robert Frost, once said that teachers are awakeners of the mind. At CIS, we believe that parents also deserve this honour. On Tuesday, 31 May, Mr. Arnaud Blatter, the father of Alix Blatter from 2-3, inspired students to not only think deeply about their Unit of Inquiry, “How We Organise Ourselves”, but to act as responsible participants in a market system that they developed. The central idea focused on how students participate in systems of trade to obtain their needs and manage their wants.

With a major in Business and Macroeconomics and over 10 years of experience in financial markets, Mr. Arnaud Blatter engaged the class with how powerful and unique the role of advertising is on shaping people’s desires.

Spellbound with excitement, the students participated as Mr. Blatter led them through creative definitions and activities to make advertisements more meaningful in their audience’s minds.

1. How Advertisements Appeal to Consumers

“How do companies appeal to consumers?” was the first question Mr. Blatter posed to the class. The answer was simple: by getting to know consumers’ needs and wants and becoming their “friend”. This answer sparked a flurry of excited talk as students connected a previous learning task to Mr. Blatter’s topic. Class 2-3 students previously designed and conducted surveys on Grade 2 homeroom classes about people’s interests so that they could use the data to design products in the Primary MakerSpace. As Mr. Blatter introduced how advertisers seek to become people’s “friends’, students realised that there is much more that goes on behind the images and phrases of ads, posters and commercials.

2. How Advertisements Work in the Economic System

Identifying factors that allow advertisements to shape the needs and wants of consumers was another thought provoking concept for the class. Class 2-3 learnt that companies differentiate their products and services through savvy branding. It was interesting to see how many brands students could identify and they used this experience to design their advertising posters of their own to promote their stalls. Students artfully used images and catch-phrases in their posters to grab the attention of customers in the Tuesday market.

Upon presenting interesting commercials on his iPad, Mr. Blatter inspired another idea that companies help one another in advertisements. One student described this idea in his own words as “company-assist“ or “commercial-assist“. Most importantly, Class 2-3 students are quite savvy in inferring the messages behind advertisements and commercials that Mr. Blatter presented on his iPad. At one point, one student even stated that “Advertisements can make us want and need things that we did not want or need before.” This powerful statement is indicative of the critical thinking skills that occur when students are highly engaged and connect ideas.

As Mr. Blatter closed his enlightening presentation, it was evident that the students had been stirred into action thanks to the ideas generated in the discussion, questions and activities. They started to discuss how they could advertise their products straight away, and came up with many creative ideas to prepare for the upcoming markets.

Here are some of the ideas inspired by the presentation that came into full fruition as actions at the market system:

  1. Creating eye-catching store signs, posters and commercials (using iPad apps) with interesting phrases, slogans and images.
  2. Creating multiple businesses that are connected for “company-assist” benefits.
  3. Creating order forms to manage potential production shortages.
  4. Using chant-and-dance performances in front of stalls, and issuing lucky draw vouchers to attract customers.
  5. Wearing special uniforms to differentiate themselves from other businesses in the market.

As Socrates once said, “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom“, and by seeding ideas within our students we make them wonder and question the world. Once they start to question, ideas rapidly start to connect and this leads to action and change.

CIS parents can have empowering roles to help ignite this wonder and help their children seek knowledge. We are very lucky that CIS community is filled with wonderful and talented parents, who have so much to offer in the classroom. We would like to thank Mr. Blatter for his time and commitment to “awakening” Class 2-3 students.