Shakespeare vs. Teletubbies: Is There a Role for Pop Culture in the Classroom?

By teaching kids to become both media producers and media consumers, the Adams Avenue project promotes the reading, writing, and critical thinking skills necessary to succeed at the college level, Seiter says. That’s especially important for at-risk students, she adds, because while “they may know a lot about TV or movies or video games, kids don’t get points in school for just being media literate. In fact, it tends to get you labeled as someone who is media-saturated and not growing up in a healthy environment.” — Sara-Ellen AmsterShakespeare vs. Teletubbies: Is There a Role for Pop Culture in the Classroom?  (Harvard Education Letter: Research Online)

Since I work in a program with creative writing colleagues who publish popular fiction, and since the areas in which I have been working recently (weblogs and computer games) yield much to pop-cult inquiry, I’ve become more interested in examining this subject.

As Amster notes, being fluent in pop culture doesn’t necessarily help you succeed in college or the professional world — unless, of course, you go into the pop-cult industry. But the ability to memorize Star Trek trivia or sing Disney songs only takes you so far in life.

I do sometimes encounter students who are frustrated that, when they do choose to write on a popular culture topic, they are still held to the same rhetorical standards (no unsupported personal opinions or generalizations; cite your sources; focus on specific passages from the book, etc).

I’m not so sure that this article’s final point about journalism follows from the premise, but I still appreciated the overview.