Kids these days! They can recite rap lyrics and pop songs, but what about the verses of Shakespeare? They’ve memorized every plot point in the hottest Hollywood blockbuster, but what about seminal American or foreign films? You want to broaden your students’ horizons. You want them to have exposure to the kinds of media experiences that put them in touch with historical, aesthetic, and critical appreciation. You know that a key component of students’ future interactions will require them to draw from a variety of cultural sources both classical and popular. At worst, students’ tendencies to pop culture trivia will be useless to them in the future. At best, they will use their understanding of contemporary culture along with their understanding of other forms of classic literature, art, and media to connect pop culture to its cultural heritage.
Challenging students’ limited perceptions of culture with widely-recognized cultural touchstones.
Asking students to distinguish between superficial and complex media messages.
Developing inventive strategies to steer student engagement toward the “classics” in art, literature, and other media.
Helping students to use reasoning and discrimination to distinguish between positive and negative messages.
Making connections between the popular culture that students love and its cultural heritage.
Encouraging students to ask critical questions about the aesthetics and historical context of all media used in the classroom.
Taste-makers often bring a wealth of knowledge of the arts to bear on the choices they make in the classroom, helping their students to understand and care more deeply about classic literature, art, and other media. Taste-makers also tend to take a “long view” of culture, making important historical and aesthetic connections between contemporary culture and its forbears.
Taste-makers sometimes inflect their own taste in “classic” media in their approach to popular media, which can be disengaging for students who identify themselves by so-called “shallow” media. Taste-makers can also be reluctant to use the same level of critical questioning and skepticism when dealing with the “classics” that they use to deconstruct contemporary culture.