Rethinking Popular Culture and Media should be required reading for educators in today’s society. Students are exposed to an increasing amount of popular culture and media and much of that is from corporations that promote ideas like consumption, competition, hierarchy, sexism, homophobia, and racism. It can be overwhelming to approach how to teach students that are so heavily influenced by things out of our control. However, this book provides helpful information, analysis, and insight into the best ways to help youth and adults reflect on what they see in pop culture. Teachers are required to make themselves aware and familiar with the many types of pop culture and media that their students read, view, and consume. Because this book was mostly written by teachers for teachers, it is very useful in offering real examples that examine pop culture and media in relation to education. We think this book has provided us with knowledge about the classroom that will be especially important as we enter the world of teaching.
In connecting our book to modern day teachers, we want to know how popular culture and media are incorporated into the daily schedule of k-12 education.
How do teachers today incorporate social media into their classroom environments, if they do at all?
Any projects with courses that incorporate current events?
Leniency with technology in classrooms? Are students able to use their technology as resources?
Is there a polling system like poll everywhere that is appropriate for k-12 education?
Rethinking Popular Culture and Media
Summary and Discussion:
In this week, our group members read two articles in the book of Rethinking Popular Culture and Media, which named TV Bullies and Kid Nation.
TV Bullies talks about a popular musical television drama Glee, which focuses on the bullying as a bitter reality for most kids in the fictional school, located in small-town Ohio. The two protagonists, Kurt and Finn had been the target of homophobic violence. The focus on bullying in Glee is related to the dissemination by researchers, educational administrators, psychologists, and media journalists. This kind of dissemination draws public attention to the fact that bullying is harmful, but also makes bullying become useful and profitable for corporations to make money. Corporate media benefits by casting the spotlight on bullying in schools, especially if it involves homicide, suicide, and/or lawsuits. It also talks about how school should be responsible to stop the bullying.
Kid Nation talks about a CBS’ 2008 TV reality show that featured 40 kids from 8 to 15 years old and filmed on the location at the Bonanza town in New Mexico State. In the show, children tried to create a functioning society in the town, including setting up a government system with minimal adult help and supervision. However, during the show, some people argue that kids were never act as autonomous or self-reliant. The Kid Nation production raised questions about whether reality show participants are more like subjects in a documentary or working actors, so this show might violate child labor laws and even child abuse laws. At last, author stated that this show had failed in letting kids establish their own nation and manipulated by the media culture.
- What are some strategies to stop bullying that you have seen to be affective?
- Are you safe space certified, why or why not?
This week for our PLC we read “Why I’m Not Thankful for Thanksgiving,” “Mulan’s Mixed Messages,” and “A Barbie Doll Pocahontas.” These articles relate to the issue of cultural perception in schools and media.
The first article, “Why I’m Not Thankful for Thanksgiving,” discusses some of the issues with Thanksgiving, most notably how Indians are perceived by children in today’s society as a result of images in schools and the media. In one of our readings for this week, Nieto mentioned how power influences culture, and this example of American Indians is a perfect example of how power’s ability to influence cultural representations has shaped our cultural perception of a group of people. “Ingrained oppressive cultural attitudes are at least as hard to antidote, once implanted, as are imbibed cleaning fluids,” this quote from the author of this article should be taken into thought in our daily roles as teachers, we must work to prevent these oppressive cultural attitudes from ever having the chance to be ingrained into the minds of today’s youth.
“Mulan’s Mixed Messages” shows how the media can reinforce ideas about other cultures, even if these ideas are not necessarily true. This article discusses how Disney changed the traditional story of Mulan in order to create a more successful movie, without considering the implications of portraying Chinese society as much more sexist than it truly is. This is again an important issue that we need to tackle as educators: ensuring that our students understand the context behind certain cultural works/images so that these images are not misconstrued.
Questions for teacher:
What cultural images have you felt the need to challenge in your classroom? What steps have you taken/will you take to do so?
Although not necessarily relevant, after discussing HB 318 today in lecture, we are wondering what implications you think that this bill may have on your classroom?
While we thinking Rethinking Popular Culture and Media provides great insight to the controversies that arise from contemporary popular culture and media, we believe that it is somewhat outdated. Throughout our discussions of the book, we noted that there was a lack of acknowledgement for more recent advancements in pop culture and media. For example, online classes have become a significant part of many students’ high school and college education. The emergence of online classrooms as a means of education was missing throughout the book, and we felt that it merited discussion. Likewise, iPhones and other smart phones have become hugely popular among all generations, especially today’s school-aged generation. We wanted to know how teachers could incorporate iPhones and smart phones into their curriculum, but there was barely any discussion of the effects of cell phones on a classroom setting in the book.
Social media has also become significantly more popular since Rethinking Popular Culture and Media was published. While there was some discussion about MySpace and its effects on the classroom environment, Facebook has since replaced MySpace. We read a couple articles that discussed ways Facebook could be incorporated into classrooms. Facebook groups and pages create excellent online class networking, and several teachers like to use Facebook pages as classroom discussion boards. Some teachers feel that these online discussion pages are an easy and practical way of monitoring student progress. However, many schools block Facebook from their network which prevents students from using this site at school.
Along the same line of online classes, a few teachers across the nation are experimenting with “robot teachers.” These teachers communicate with their students via a mobile robot with the capability of moving around the classroom. This method, although expensive, allows students to feel that the teacher is a part of the class. This can be especially useful in high schools when subjects are beginning to be more specialized. Robot teachers allow a teacher in one are to interact with students in another area, perhaps even in another state. While we certainly believe actual physical interaction is the most effective way of teaching, these robot teachers enhance the idea of an online classroom environment.
We want to continue our discussion of current topics in popular culture and media’s effect on the education system, so we will be searching for a related TedTalk video to discuss in our next meeting.
The two pieces that we read were related in that they were both talking about the dynamics of legs in the classroom. Students had a Lego town project where they were supposed to build a town but students were creating hierarchies in relation to the lego pieces. Students were being excluded and others were guarding their territory. There were “issues of inequality and power that helped to shape Lego Town.” Eventually the legos were destroyed. A trade system for the legos was then implemented but it did not do much to mitigate the hierarchy. By the end, the teachers were trying to get their students to discuss the implications of power and inequality in regard to their classroom toy. The teachers had a responsibility to pay attention to the values and the interactions that the students portrayed in the case of the legos to emphasize the value of democracy.
In our discussion, we touched on how this particular lesson would be representative of critical pedagogy and the idea that education, whether planned or spontaneous, is inherently political (Hinchey, 2004). The legos could have been implemented into an actual lesson plan, since they were obviously a tool for learning in the after school care.
Questions for Practicing Teachers:
What are some relations of power in extracurricular activities that you oversee and how do you address them? For example sports.
How can you address these power stances that exist in the extracurriculars within the actual classroom?
How can you get your students involved in making rules for your classroom?
Summary of assigned reading & Highlights of discussion
The section “sticking it to the man” was about the pedagogy employed by a teacher in the movie School of Rock. The movie portrays a washed up rock star teaching rich private school students about rock and roll and eventually leading them to participate in the battle of the bands. The author critiqued the movie in that it was oversimplified and that it did not take issues of class division, race, and gender into account. However, the author pointed to the positive shift in the student’s attitude towards education. Before the new teacher came, the students were part of a strict system of education that graded them based on a standard curriculum, which as a result was dehumanizing them. However, teaching students about rock that allowed them to express themselves in their unique talents of singing and playing instruments led them to embrace their individuality.
The following is a link to an interesting article that also positively comments on the pedagogy in School of Rock : http://dougbelshaw.com/blog/2008/01/27/5-things-school-of-rock-can-teach-us-about-real-education/
Another movie discussed in this section was The Perfect Score. The author was talking about how the movie accurately portrayed that the SAT viewed all the students as the same and was designed with the false assumption that all students had the same background and experience of education. We should be less concerned about whether students can answer our questions and more concerned about teaching them how to ask questions. Question posing is more important than problem solving.
The other section we read was call “examining media violence” which was a compilation of articles, lesson plans, etc that acknowledged that media did reinforce a culture of violence but was is not the sole cause of violence in society”. We agreed that it is important to acknowledge media’s role in encouraging violence but blaming everything on media takes the responsibility off other real causes such as racism and segregation.
Connections to course materials
School of Rock was relevant to the article by Christensen which argued that students’ voices should be heard instead of forcing them to speak in a standard voice. In this case, rock was utilized as the language in which the students were able to freely express themselves that was free from the school system’s standards.
The perfect score was relevant to the Hinchey article that claimed that the school system supported the status quo. The SAT assumed that students have the background of a Western education. In the case of immigrant students or more marginalized groups of society, this may not be the case. Hence the SAT embodies this aspect of the school system.
Question to pose to practicing educators
How can teachers make sure their student’s voices are heard?
In what ways has your pedagogy been supporting the status quo?