Growing up in Oshawa a while back (more years than I’d like to tell) hasn’t really educated me about hip-hop. Not being a fan, I suppose reading this article is itself a rupture in my education pathway (smile).
I have to comment: I found the writing in this article a cumbersome academic burden, especially considering the topic content – MUSIC (and I do truly love music, my iPhone is FULL). I suppose it is a difficult job to deconstruct and describe in words artistic expression of any kind, at one point the author did reference the difficulty using words to describe something that really must be felt (hip-hop).
As an aside, I’ve often wondered why so many academic papers are written “academically” – I define this: difficult to read, decode, and process, limiting the audience and their attention. I’ve actually debated this with a few profs: why does academic writing have to be so darn academic??? But I’m wayyyyy off topic now.
I did however appreciate a few things I’ve learned from the article, especially around Hip Hop High. I enjoyed reading about Hip Hop High, and I’m impressed by their success at harnessing music while facing so many physiological and psychological stressors and barriers. I absolutely love their “deliberate patience” ethos – it’s something I will reflect on for my own teaching practice.
Seeing as the paper was originally published prior to some recent escalations, I have to wonder how the “Stop Coonin Movement” has been replaced or morphed in light of the recent escalating racial tensions and Black Lives Matter. Of course whenever I think about racists lately, my mind turns to Donald Trump...so this triggered some reflection on the latest presidential debate disaster when I heard Donald Trump’s horrific words “what a nasty woman” and the t-shirts and other products that were for sale within hours. There’s politically correct, and then there’s UNACCEPTABLE offensive (and criminal!), way beyond any civilized person’s level of tolerance and basic respect for the individual (I can always hope right?).
Week 7 Required Readings:
Reading: Emery Petchauer, “Starting With Style: Toward a Second Wave of Hip-Hop Education Research and Practice,” Urban Education 2015, Vol. 50(1), pp. 78–105.
Andrew Marantz, “Kanye West For President”, The New Yorker. (31 Aug 15): http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/kanye-west-for-president?mbid=social_facebook
I love Star Trek. I watched the original TV series (yes I’m that old) and then later the Next Generation and Voyager, and of course I’ve seen all of the movies (even that terrible one with the whale LOL). Having read excerpts from this week’s readings, on this rainy day I’m wondering, is it possible to go just a little too far? Maybe it’s the rain dragging down my attitude, but I’ve also watched the movie Trekkers, and although it was a while ago, I remember thinking: they are over-the-top! But what’s wrong with that, if it results in the type of gains that we’ve seen, whether it’s Star Trek, Harry Potter, or some other lens, if you’re getting results then it should be celebrated.
In an incredibly timely tweet this week from Mashable, I read about how “President Obama reveals himself as the most powerful 'Star Trek' fan on Earth”.
In the article, Obama references several pop culture sci fi, including Minority Report, the Matrix, and the Martian, however his main focus was Star Trek (which as you may already know is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year!).
His full interview transcript with MIT and Wired is found here entitled Final Frontiers, discussing the future of technology and role of government, there’s also an embedded video clip of the interview. If you scroll about ¾ of the way down you can watch a second embedded video clip, with Obama discussing how Star Trek shapes the future, or click here for a direct link to that video clip (4:16). Further to this interview, Obama guest-edited a special edition of Wired – called Frontiers.
Week 6 Required Readings:
Karen Anijar. Teaching Toward the 24th Century: Star Trek as Social Curriculum (Pedagogy and Popular Culture). New York : Falmer Press, 2003. Access through library collection:
Reading: CHAPTER 4 “Klingon as Curriculum: Militias, Minstrel Shows, & Other Language Games”; and CHAPTER 5 “Resistance Is Futile: You Will Be Assimilated into the Predatory Jungle”; (Pp 142-170)
Jenkins description of Andrew Slack’s Harry Potter Alliance is truly interesting. Slack started the HPA organization, which uses fan culture as a starting point to achieve some pretty impressive results! Once again I find myself fascinated with the application of pop culture – another way of harnessing that which is popular as a lens to accomplish goals.
I found myself trying to imagine ways to adapt popular TV shows, books, and movies, and wondering if there is a fan culture out there for specific college programs/fields.
Here are a few matchups (smile) - Durham College Program: Pop Culture Matchup
In all seriousness, immersing into our pop culture is an excellent tool for review of what to do (and what not to do) – if we can make learning more fun, all the better!
Having watched the Zombie Apocalypse “documentary” I’m reminded of my own Durham College coursework where we focus on critically evaluating sources (evidence). A documentary is defined as “a movie or a television or radio program that provides a factual record or report” and many students see the word documentary and automatically believe that all content is accurate and truthful. People believe documentaries contain cold hard facts. The truth is, many so-called documentaries are in fact full of misinformation and pseudoscience that can mislead and even harm the consumer. Fake documentaries often present only one side of the story with leading experts (proponents) supporting the theme with their own opinions – this approach demonstrates both confirmation bias and appeal to authority, two of the many red flags discussed in our course.
Our own usage of the word documentary in our culture certainly stretches the truth…take a look at this screen snip of the latest Netflix offerings under the “documentary” heading, some are straight up fiction.
Week 5 Required Readings:
Henry Jenkins. “Fan Activism as Participatory Politics: The Case of the Harry Potter Alliance.” DIY Citizenship. Pp. 65-73.
Watch: Zombie Apocalypse (Discovery Channel, 43 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=75&v=YdAe18Xvs4Q
Recommended further reading: Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. The Walking Dead #1: Special Edition. Berkeley, CA: Image Comics. (May 2008). Comic book.
This week’s assigned readings describe how we can use science fiction to teach geopolitics, an interesting approach to say the least! Yes, I do love sci fi :)
I found myself identifying with Saunders as he makes connections between learning outcomes, the method, and results. Saunders states “The goal of employing these pop-culture products to talk about geo-power is not to produce an objective understanding of George Lucas’ or Gene Roddenberry’s galactic realms, but instead to promote intersubjective and intertextual knowledge, which in turn enables students to develop their geopolitical vocabulary and apply it to the real world”.
Having completed the other readings in this course, I’m in the mindset of comparing our educational world to the virtual world we all live in – major gaps, and where there are gaps there are opportunities!
Pop culture products include our latest greatest technology toys, including apps. These digital tools are increasingly an integral part of our society – how many people do you know without a cell phone? Would our youth survive without their cell phones? :)
I teach college fully online. This term I’m incorporating two major changes in my courses: agency and digital tools. I’m attempting to further promote engagement through agency - students can choose which activities to complete for their marks from 2 or 3 different items every week (one of which is the application of a digital tool). I hope to create a strong community of connections within our classes by incorporating pop culture (technology) as an inter-disciplinary, multi-cultural, and multi-generational tool (college students are from all walks of life and age groups).
Honestly, it’s a lot of work to revamp the courses, but I’m absolutely fascinated with the reactions and student performance so far…who doesn’t like to use new fun and connective technologies, and who doesn’t like to choose from a menu of options to select their desired preferences? The reason it’s called pop culture is because it’s POPULAR! Their choices also guide me - it gives me data on what appeals, and what doesn’t – and that’s valuable information.
Take a look at a day in the life of an online college prof…here’s my list of digital tools (and software) I’ve used this week: Wikispaces, Weebly, Padlet, Popplet, Wordle, Word, Google Docs, Excel, Chrome, Explorer, Realtime Boards (MindMaps), Adobe Connect, Outlook, PowerPoint, D2L, SnagIt, YouTube. How many of these tools do you recognize? What does your list look like this week? I’ve probably left a few off the list (and I’ve excluded smartphone apps I use for personal). Like almost all of my colleagues, I’m self-taught with every one of these tools. Are these digital tools our new popular culture for teachers?
But before you get carried away (and sidetracked) thinking about your latest awesome gadget (or app), ask yourself the most important question: WHY are you using the digital tool? Let’s stop that steamrolling train for a moment and think…what exactly do these tools ADD to the learning experience? WHY are we using them?
We need to be very aware of our motivation as educators– in fact, the use of digital tools needs to be pedagogy-driven. They need to add value. Keep those learning outcomes in mind – whether you’re using science fiction as your vehicle or an app, when planning new initiatives, we have to stay focussed on the end goal: our learning outcomes. If students gain a skill (using the app) that can be transferred to other learning, or to the workplace, that’s a side benefit, but we have to achieve our learning outcomes. We have to be sure we’re not simply using technology (pop culture) for the sake of using it (or due to some administrative requirement or other motivation). Yes, let’s keep in the mind the P-word – PEDAGOGY.
What’s your favourite “cool” digital tool? How do you use it?
Week 4 Required Readings:
Robert Saunders. “Imperial Imaginaries: Employing Science Fiction to Talk About Geopolitics.” Popular Culture and World Politics. Caso and Hamilton, Eds. Pp. 149-159.
The video The Century Of The Self Part 1 of 4 Happiness Machines was very thought-provoking. Having never formally studied psychology I always find myself fascinated, someday I would like to spend some serious time researching and reading. The is the first time I’ve heard of Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud's American nephew, and the video portrays his influences on not only advertising but also advertising and consumerism; this is a captivating story. The video is actually part of a series of videos, “about how those in power have used Freud's theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy” (Adam Curtis).
According to Funes, advertising is the “strategy of persuasion based on the stimulation and management of desire nearly always appears together with a normative discourse based, in the final instance, on the duty to consume as the means to experience belonging, or social integration”. Within the video, Bernays is portrayed as a pioneer of psychological manipulation with the goal being consumerism, which then became the central motor in American life.
Following along with this foundational background and theory, Funes takes us into a comparison of our virtual world versus the educational environment, and the paradoxical nature is obvious.
I really enjoyed considering the facets of advertising as a starting point for creating educational opportunities, as Funes describes, advertising is “the opportunity to create a constructive initiative and to raise critical awareness about such a construction, that is, a space for the practice of a style of pedagogy that is exploratory and that foments discussion. In this respect, knowledge about advertising may present an extraordinary opportunity”.
As we educators struggle with limited resources and outdated policies and procedures that unfortunately don’t align with the realities of our consumerism-based society, but we also face tremendous technological advancements and a new world of technology which I would argue could be our next central motor in American life. Are we at a tipping point in the educational system?
Week 3 Required Readings:
Virginia Funes. “Advertising and Consumerism: A Space for Pedagogical Practice” Mirror Images. Pp. 159-177.
Watch (before class): Century of the Self (59 minutes): “Part I: Happiness Machines”:
In the article If Ideas WERE Fashion, Wong and Hendricksen describe their rationale for examining the lens of fashion (applied to education). They considered “phenomena of fascination” and determined that “people of all ages, across time, are drawn to fashion”. They further argue that fashion as a metaphor is both unusual and provocative, and present the idea as an avenue to lead educators to explore new possibilities for engagement.
Fashion, they argue, holds a highly intense interest and curiosity (especially in younger age groups) that also leads to deep emotional aspirations to become a certain kind of person and experience the “cool” fashion item, be it iPods, TV shows, or another other fashionable object. The authors examine the rise of the iPod and make comparisons to a new educational idea being introduced in class: “both involve the awakening of perception, the engagement of thinking and feeling, and the interchange of viewpoints and experiences with others”. While reading this article, I found myself nodding along and making connections to educational theories of community, engagement, agency, and social connectivism.
Further on in the article Wong and Hendricksen describe the power of images. Their discussion of a specific iPod Silhouette ad underlines the incredible power of images, videos, and music. Educational connections for me here are the many discussions and studies regarding “Death by PowerPoint”. We have all sat through non-engaging lectures with teachers reading from slides. I like to compare “slide reading” to my experience enjoying powerful presentations; I have often noticed the speaker’s image/video use. The best speakers limit their slides to very few words, and instead rely on slides with images to form a starting point for communicating ideas and concepts to captivated audiences. According to Wong and Hendricksen, compelling images can “sell a science idea” stamping onto the minds of the viewer a powerful idea, unforgettable; a picture is truly worth a thousand words :)
Within my course Paranormal and Pseudoscience I teach historical pseudoscience beliefs/practices as a means to get students thinking about scientific development. I present a series of images representing outdated beliefs and practices, such as medical bloodletting, spontaneous generation (of life), and phrenology (determination of personality and character from the shape/dimensions of one’s skull), and a selection of about 8 other “unbelievable” beliefs we have thankfully outgrown. One image ALWAYS creates a dramatic effect in class: a medical bloodletting kit (shown below). Bloodletting was widely believed to cure disease by the majority of the populace based on no evidence whatsoever. Many students have seen the act of bloodletting in movies and TV shows (reference Dracula for example). Students are shocked and appalled that this practice was commonplace (and often deadly). I go on to describe how Pierre Charles Alexandre Louis (c 1830s) documented cases where bloodletting was useless for treatment of pneumonia and various fevers; his scientific method and observations were the first step towards its demise as a standard procedure. Students actively consider how very important it is to make connections within their own critical thinking and the power of factual evidence and scientific results.
I really enjoyed this article; I have to copy/paste one of my favorite excerpts from the article below…
Whether trying on a new outfit or designing a science project, the fashion experience evokes anticipating, hoping, dreaming, wishing, desiring, and becoming. The energy, drama, and meaning of the experience are in exploring the imaginative bridge between the actual and an allusive possibility. At its best, education can and should do the same.
Week 2 Required Readings:
David Wong and Danah Hendricksen, “If Ideas WERE Fashion.” Mirror Images. Diana Silberman-Keller et al, Eds. Pp. 179-198.
Our introductory reading “Why Popular Culture Matters” is a great starting point for the course, seeing as the piece links up to several aspects of society’s immersive pop culture. The article underlines how pop culture shapes our youth – their identities and representations. I particularly connected with the reading while considering our responsibility (as educators) about pop culture, i.e. why is pop culture important to educators? According to Reynolds educators are obligated to prepare students/citizens, to learn how to use, consume, and to have personal power over the media. Empowerment comes when we are able to read media and make informed decisions about what we have read (Reynolds 2012).
I’m a fulltime teacher at Durham College and both of my elective courses have strong identifying themes of critical thinking, skepticism, and the scientific method. Our employers have identified critical thinking as an essential employability skill, and one that often sets job candidates and employees above others on a path to success. Being able to deconstruct multiple forms of media and make informed, rational, and well-considered (good) decisions is such an essential life skill; and my courses are designed to develop that skill. Having said that, you may be surprised to know the content I teach - my courses are Paranormal and Pseudoscience, and World Mysteries. I use pop culture as a lens to deliver content that may otherwise be considered, well, boring.
Students in both courses learn about pseudoscientific red flags, such as ancient wisdom, appeal to authority (often in the form of celebrity endorsements), confirmation bias, ideology, and several other red flags. We analyze videos (tv, movie, YouTube, other), music, websites, publications, Twitter feeds, and people (both skeptics and proponents). Students are also taught about psychological reasons for belief such as emotional connection, agenticity, patternicity, perception, and observation.
We use pop culture to discuss questions like are ghosts real? Does alien life exist? Who killed JFK? My goal isn’t to prove or disprove anything at all – it’s to teach the students how to deconstruct our pop culture in a meaningful and valuable way, all the while watching for intrinsic and sometimes hidden influences while assessing their own set of values/beliefs (and there’s some basic science thrown in for good measure). There are also a few polls to get students thinking about how their peers view such topics - it stimulates a wide variety of discourse and thought and promotes community. My engagement is HIGH – and this is because the topics we discuss are in fact POPULAR culture.
Week 1 Required Readings:
William M. Reynolds, Ed. “Why Popular Culture Matters” Popular Culture. (28 Jan 12) http://bit.ly/1B25znl
Jill Walker Rettberg, “Filtered Reality,” Seeing Ourselves Through Technology, Berkshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. (Free for Kindle: http://amzn.to/1HkIopA)