The Wire to the Rescue

I am a long standing enthusiast of the idea that the TV show called The Wire would make an excellent course for kids in high school.  It has richness, drama, complexity.

The thing I like most about it is that it contains many worlds, and this helps make the points that:

A) you have to shift out of your assumptions to capture any of other world, and certainly any of these worlds. 

B) you have to shift into the assumptions of any one world to “get” that world.

C) you have to shift from one set of assumptions to another to “get” a show like the Wire or indeed the real world.

(My assumption: if there is a single thing, a single intellectual or cultural capital, that drop outs are unlikely to understand, it’s that there are many worlds outside their own and that with the application of the right ideas, these worlds are penetrable and indeed occupy-able. The cost of a suspended education is limited mobility: social, cultural and career.)  

A couple of days ago, I found myself thinking that the only way to construct this teaching “material” is to extract the right footage from the Wire and insert this footage into a map of Baltimore.  Mapping helps show that the worlds exist in the world and coexist in the world.

And today, when I was staring at the sign above, I thought, “why not take footage for each world and insert it into a navigable map on line, perhaps Google maps.” This would give us a virtual space a student could wander until he/she/they discover the various worlds and the footage that helps to grasp these worlds and the assumptions that form and inform them. 

Mark Warshaw, Mauricio Mota and I have been talking about this project for several years now.  Please get in touch with us, if you have ideas and especially if you have funding.  

2 thoughts on “The Wire to the Rescue”

  1. The time dimension of such a map would be as interesting as the geography itself, as you talk about the show’s complexity, it would be fascinating to see how simple choices lead to many uninitended consequences. Hamsterdam in particular.

    /b

    1. Bud, this is a great point. maybe a layered city? So that knowledge of layer 4 presumes knowledge of the events of layers 1,2 and 3. But this maybe too much complexity. Perhaps one composite city representing all the seasons, or just one season. Thanks! and yes, we would have to get in Hamsterdam.

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