Friday, January 25

Deconstructing The Amazing Race Assignment- Using Reality TV As a Reality Check Before Graduation

The 08-09 BC Capstone students discussed The Amazing Race (TAR) applications they completed for class this week. Several students successfully decoded my hidden agenda created under the headline “Preparing for the Reality After College Through Reality Television.” TAR application is my springboard into their capstone experience. Some of the reasons behind my decision include:

TAR application prompts reflective responses as students consider their short and long term
goals. They ponder their motives for applying to the show beyond the fact that I have required them to do if as a class assignment.

The TAR application engages students to assess their strengths and weaknesses. For example, the application asks questions like:

    • Name your favorite hobbies?
    • List three adjectives that best describe you.
    • What is the accomplishment you are most proud of?
    • What are your phobias?
    • How do you blow off steam?
    • How do you resolve conflict with your teammate?

These questions are similar to efforts employers use in job interviews. While some of the questions in TAR application would be considered “illegal” in a job interview, they are designed to generate deeper insight. Such questions demonstrate the importance of how to communicate who you are effectively. You are forced to consider how you showcase who you are beyond list of bullet points on a resume.

The TAR application process requires capstone students to produce a three minute video on VHS (yes the producers still ask for a home video format). This affords these capstone students an
opportunity showcase themselves as experienced broadcast communication professionals. It’s a chance for each of them to create something fun and outside the domain of our broadcasting classes. Their videos will have a certain level of polish compared to the amateur with no background in video production. The students are also permitted to substitute this video for their senior practical/production skills exam as long as they demonstrate minimum professional standards.

TAR application process creates a solid theme for the class with the metaphor of life as an adventure and journey. Contestants on TAR do not know where each leg of the race will take them. Challenges in the form of roadblocks and detours test their resolve and we see first hand how relationships, communication, game strategies, ethics and even luck play out in the competition.

(Embrace the Liberal Arts Mission)
Other metaphors also dovetail in nicely with applying to TAR as students develop career and life goals as they have prepared and are ready to transition to a rapidly changing world. TAR and these metaphors will also work well as I map out activities with Titan Traverse to bring in “adventure learning” components to our activities.

TAR application provides one final benefit by allow students to consider their situations as young, single, soon-to-be college graduates. They have the freedom at this stage if their lives to pursue passions such as travel and adventure. They can start a new life in a
new city. It’s not easy to do these things once you’re married and you have kids and a mortgage. Consider the teams cast most often on TAR. They’re often empty-nesters, but most are young, plucky people with the ability to step away from established life routines. They are eager to embark on a journey that can take them on a wild ride around the world leading to self-discovery.

Finally, some students have expressed concern about what will happen if the show producers decide to cast them on TAR. I am not really worried about that as a problem. You can always bow out gracefully if such an offer comes your way or you can accept it with a chance to be on television, race around the world and have a shot at winning one million dollars.

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