You’re one of the hippest teachers in school, sharing with your students and a few teachers your own pop culture knowledge and your drive to learn more about kid culture. You might be a parent who has as many pop songs on your iPod as your children do, if not more. Or maybe your own most-loved popular culture isn’t too far removed from that of your students. You are inquisitive about the trends and hot topics that make up a crucial component of the fabric of your students’ everyday lives. You want school culture to meet kids where they live with the popular culture they know and love—and that you occasionally love just as much yourself, whether it’s pop and hip-hop music, blockbuster films, reality TV, or any number of other shared cultural reference points.
Nurturing a safe environment for appropriate popular culture in the classroom.
Using a variety of popular culture texts to have students ask questions about its authors, target audiences, messages, meanings, and representations of reality.
Asking students to reflect on their use of popular culture, particularly when its effects may be harmful to their well-being or self-image.
Opening inquiry about popular culture as an important component of classroom discussion.
Engaging in students' interests of new technologies like smart phones and mobile devices.
Encouraging students to make connections between popular culture and more traditional curriculum material.
Trendsetters acknowledge the wide variety of popular culture texts that students often feel passionately about as a way to engage them in formal learning. They also make strong connections between students’ areas of expertise and specialized knowledge (popular culture) and new knowledge (curriculum content).
Trendsetters can have difficulty addressing students who feel culturally “disconnected” or actively define themselves against the popular culture that the majority of their peers love. Trendsetters also need to carefully ensure that conversations about popular culture don’t begin and end merely with “love it or hate it,” but instead explore how and why popular culture does what it does.