Popular culture and education: How it teaches and how we learn


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Presentation at Challenging the Binaries, Centre for the Study of Literacies, University of Sheffield, 29-30 June 2012

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Popular culture and education: How it teaches and how we learn

  1. 1. popular culture and education:how it teaches and how we learn phil benson http://www.slideshare.net/pbbenson/popular-culture-and-education-how-it-teach
  2. 2. integrating popular culture and education Popular Education culture Integration
  3. 3. whatever can be integrated must first be separated Separate
  4. 4. pleasure and learning‘Pleasure and learning: For most people thesetwo don’t seem to go together. But that is amistruth we have picked up at school, where wehave been taught that pleasure is fun andlearning is work, and, thus that work is not fun.(Gee 2007: 10)
  5. 5. incommensurate worlds popular culture education out-of-school in-school entertainment teaching pleasure learning (passive) consumption (active) study emotional intellectual (hidden) ideology critical thinking sexual / violent asexual / rational gendered / racialized human / globaltransient / here and now cumulative / lifelong repetitive / addictive progressive / developmental threat safety
  6. 6. power of the media‘Rather than condemn or endorse the undoubtedpower of the media, we need to accept their significantimpact and penetration throughout the world as anestablished fact…. The school and the family share theresponsibility of preparing the young person for livingin a world of powerful images, words and sounds….[M]edia education will be most effective when parents,teachers, media personnel and decision-makers allacknowledge they have a role to play in developinggreater critical awareness among listeners, viewers andreaders.’ (UNESCO 1982)
  7. 7. moral agendas‘Media literacy should be a moral agenda…, amoral discourse which recognizes ourresponsibility for the other person in a world ofgreat conflict, tragedy, intolerance andindifference, and which critically engages withour media’s incapacity (as well as its occasionalincapacity) to engage with the reality of thatdifference, responsibly and humanely.’(Silverstone, 2004: 440-1)
  8. 8. Losing control of youth• The imperative for integration… – ‘In some countries…, children already spend more time watching television than they do attending school’ (UNESCO, 1982) – ‘When children 4-6 were asked in a survey “Which do you like better, TV or your daddy,” 54 percent said “TV”’ (Silverblatt 2008: 3)
  9. 9. students and participatory culture• ‘aliens in the classroom’ (Green and Bigum, 1993)• ‘today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach’ (Prensky, 2001: 1-2)• university students ‘who have a non-traditional view of textual interaction and often spend a lot of their out of class time employed in significantly creative, narrative-based activities that do not fit the traditional construction of textual engagement.’ (Urbanski 2010: 239)
  10. 10. polarizationAmusing ourselves to death… (Postman, 1985)Kidnapped: How irresponsible marketers are stealing the mindsof your children (Acuff & Reiher 2005)Grand theft childhood : the surprising truth about violent videogames and what parents can do (Kutner & Olson, 2008)Killing monsters: Why children need fantasy, super heroes, andmake-believe violence. (Jones, 2002)Good video games and good learning… (Gee 2007)Everything bad is good for you : how todays popular culture isactually making us smarter (Johnson 2006)
  11. 11. stance• polarization of moral stance• polarization of generational stance• the ‘neutral’ academic stance beyond the moral/generation gap – Disembedded, ‘cool’ members of our own (older) generation – ‘fascinated’ participant observers of new (younger) generational practices (cf. Richards 1998)
  12. 12. the neutral stance - moral• a ‘self-reflexive’ approach – ‘a constant movement back and forth between practice and theory, between celebration and critical analysis, and between language use and language study’. (Buckingham, 1993: 151)• ‘a balance must emerge so that critical media literacy is not purely a cognitive experience, nor is it solely experiencing pleasures without challenges to extended learning’ (Alvermann, et al 1999: 28)
  13. 13. the neutral stance - generationalPrensky: how can ‘immigrants’ presume to teach‘natives’ new literacies?‘Fortunately, media educators have long ago crossedthis threshold. In fact, recognition that the mediaeducator can never know everything about evolvingmedia discourses and practices is a central truism inthe field…. The media educator, thus, needs to bringstrategies, concepts, and frames to the teachingcontext, but with an open mind towards media contentthat is often better known by young learners.’(Hoechsmann and Poyntz 2012: 8)
  14. 14. pedagogical options…Popular culture as… –motivational stimulus / reward –medium of teaching and learning –‘literary’ text –resource for text production –object of teaching and learning –object of critique
  15. 15. …how do we choose?• positions are often based on moral / generational stance• less frequently on theories of learning applied to engagement with popular culture…• public pedagogy (Sandlin, et al 2010)• …how popular culture teaches and how we learn
  16. 16. theories of learningtheory learning is… examplescultural acquisition of the higher forms of culture, Pre-mediatransmission rejection of popular culture educationbehaviourism a conditioned response to popular culture Media effects stimuli literatureconstructivism making meaning out of engagement with Alvermann (2002) popular cultureplay-based stimulated by the pleasures and safety of Jones (2002)learning play involving popular culture textscognitivism cognitive development through engagement Johnson (2006) with complexity of popular culturesituated learning development of identity through situated NLS literature engagement with popular cultureemancipatory developing critical awareness of dominant Media literacylearning ideologies carried by popular culture texts literature
  17. 17. theories of learning and moral stance – media effectsCultural transmission – emphasis on sex and violence isevidence of the ‘low’ character of popular cultureBehaviourist – pleasurable emotional stimulus of mediaviolence leads to imitation / real-life reenactmentConstructivist – ‘What all this means is not that I willrun out and pretend to be a S.W.A.T team member…[but] that S.W.A.T. 4 is primarily a tool forunderstanding.’ (Gee 2007: 16)Play-based learning – engagement with media violenceis cathartic (Jones, 2002)
  18. 18. Theories of learning and generational stance – teacher roles• Cultural transmission - teacher as demagogue – differentiating ‘good’ from ‘bad’ culture• Behaviourism – teacher as manager/operator of selected popular culture teaching texts• Constructivism – teacher as guide/co- interpreter of student-selected texts• Play-based learning – teacher as co- participant/conversational partner in play with texts
  19. 19. referencescuff, D. S., and Reiher, R. H. (2005). Kidnapped: How irresponsible marketers arestealing the minds of your children. Chicago, IL: Dearborn.lvermann, D., Moon, J., and Hagood, M. (1999). Popular culture in the classroom:Teaching and researching critical media literacy. Newark, DE: International ReadingAssociation.uckingham, David (1993). Going critical: The limits of media literacy. Australian Journalof Education, 37 (2), 142-152.ee, J. P. (2007). Good video games and good learning: Collected essays on videogames, learning and literacy. New York, NY: Peter Lang.entile, D. A. (2003). Media violence and children: A complete guide for parents andprofessionals. Westport, CT: Praeger.reen, B., and Bigum, C. (1993). Aliens in the classroom. Australian Journal ofEducation, 23 (2), 119-141.
  20. 20. Jones, G. (2002). Killing monsters: Why children need fantasy, super heroes, and make-believe violence. New York, NY: Basic Books.Kutner, L., and Olson, C. K. (2008). Grand theft childhood : the surprising truth aboutviolent video games and what parents can do. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.Postman, N. (1994). Amusing ourselves to death: Public discourse in the age of showbusiness. New York: Penguin.Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9 (5), 1-6.http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/prensky%20-%20digital%20natives,%20digital%20immRichards, Chris (1998). Teen spirits: Music and identity in Media Education. London:UCL Press.Sandlin, J. A., Schultz, B. D., Burdick, J. (Eds.) (2010). Handbook of public pedagogy:Education and learning beyond schooling. New York, NY: Routledge.Silverblatt, A. (2008). Media literacy: Keys to interpreting media messages. 3rd Edition.Westport, CT: Praeger.Silverstone, R. (2004). Regulation, media literacy and media civics. Media, Culture andSociety, 26(3), 440-449.UNESCO (1982). Grunwald declaration on media educationhttp://www.unesco.org/education/pdf/MEDIA_E.PDFUrbanski, H. (2010). In H. Urbanski (Ed.), Writing and the digital generation: Essays innew media rhetoric (pp. 239-251). Jefferson, NC: McFarland.