You are a student. Imagine sitting in rows facing the whiteboard. Your English teacher walks in the door and gives the class a ten minute lecture about how William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet encompasses the key themes of fate, love and violence. You then spend the rest of the lesson handwriting the notes from the whiteboard. This is what I experienced when I was at school. Pretty boring! I spent most of this time looking out of the window at the students who were lucky enough to have a Physical Education lesson. I was envious of the games they would be playing and wished to be outside with them. It is now a number of years later and my own English and History classroom looks dramatically different to the one I just described. I am a 21st Century teacher!
Vintage Social Networking
Digital native student embraces new practices, their bemused teacher merely contemplates an unfamiliar and hostile digital world (Crook, 2012, p. 65)… not anymore! Every 21st Century teachers knows that to engage young people today they must incorporate popular culture (whether they understand it or not) and technology (whether they know how to use it or not) into their classroom. Now this task may seem overwhelming however, it can be as simple as mentioning Justice Bieber…
As an English and History teacher I am going to focus on how to integrate popular culture into these key learning areas (KLAs). There are so many ways that teachers can engage their student by using popular culture. For example, popular culture songs (despite some of the content) are filled with an array of literary devices. Take Katy Perry’s song Firework for example.
Now would this not be more engaging for your students rather than just answering questions from the Poetry Power textbook? Similarly, popular television programs, movies and songs can be used as a tool by History teachers to make connections with the content.
These strategies are highly effective in engaging students in the content but are also relatively simple for teachers to implement.
Students of the 21st Century clearly learn in different ways than my generation. It is unfortunate that the current curriculum in most schools is disconnected from their lives (Hall, 2007, p. 297; Beach, 2011, p. 779). Nevertheless, teachers have the power to change the way that they teach the curriculum to students. That is, using popular culture texts and online media spaces as a form of pedagogy that goes beyond what students acquire from the official school curriculum (Beach, 2011, p. 775). Teachers, we have the power to change pedagogical practices in Australia!
Digital learners require 21st Century teachers. Teachers that understand how their students learn and how best to teach them. Popular culture and technology is the obvious solution. If we want to engage our students, develop their critical literacy skills and prepare them for the world in which they live than teachers must take action. I am a 21st Century teacher. Are you?
Beach, R. & O’Brien, D. (2008). Chapter 27: Teaching Popular-Culture Texts In The Classroom. In Coiro, Julie et al, Handbook of research on new literacies, (pp.775 – 804). New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Crook, C. (2012). The ‘digital native’ in context: Tensions associated with importing Web 2.0 practices into the school setting. Oxford Review of Education. 38(1), 63-80.
Emerson, A. (2007). Teaching world History through Popular Culture. Retrieved 20th October 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Jba5HsWDsA.
Hall, L. (2011). How popular culture texts inform and shape students’ discussions of social studies texts. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 55(4), 296-305.
Kravitz, M. (2013). Pop Culture in the classroom. Retrieved 20th October 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFJeps9T8A4
Lizs, H. (2010). Katy Perry Firework literary devices 1. Retrieved 29th October 2014 from Kravitz, M. (2013). Pop Culture in the classroom. Retrieved 20th October 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFJeps9T8A4