Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Reflection on "Introduction to Rethinking Popular Culture and Media"

The introduction to Rethinking Popular Culture and Media focuses on the commonly held notions surrounding children and popular culture, and then it makes us reconsider these beliefs.

I loved the quote that described talking about popular culture as “getting the fish to think about the water.” Popular culture is something that we are so immersed in that we often fail to recognize it; it surrounds us on TV, billboard ads, clothing, toys, the internet, and even the phrases we use. Although it affects us so much, we fail to address it. As teachers, we do often notice the popular culture that our students engage are a part of, but we do not speak of it. Indeed, we often try to go against it. We ban cell phones from school, look at texting like its the worst thing to happen to our youth, and we think that popular media is in opposition to our classrooms and our curriculum.

One issue that the authors bring up is that we as adults often dismiss youth popular culture. While this may simply be because of differences in tastes, adults often view youth culture as inferior or in "opposition to the good values of adults." I see this all the time in my daily life and in my own school. Teachers are not often "into" the same popular culture as their students, so we teachers make make fun of or make remarks about trends, clothing styles, and the music that our students enjoy. We often describe our students or even youth in our own family as "going through phases". The authors note that it is more interesting to consider how our youth are using popular culture and media. What are the implications that come about in areas such as citizenship, agency, and consumer action? If we choose to not actually focus on the culture itself, we should at least consider its effects on our students and their autonomy in navigating a heavily branded world. 

As I reflect on my own practice, I must admit that I too have failed to embrace the benefits of working with my students and their popular culture. I find this interesting because I am only six years older than many of the students at my school, so my popular culture often blends with theirs. Still, my students will tell you that I am quite strict about cell phone usage in my classroom; I follow the school's "no cell phone policy" very strongly. I do play popular music during work periods in class, but I do not talk about the issues brought up in their  music explicitly. I hope that I can incorporate more of these creative discussions in my classroom. I know it would be an interesting area to examine, but I think I need to work on how to structure these types of discussions if I want them to be meaningful.

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