Week 2: Fandom
I had to really think about something that would fall into this category. It has been many years since I was a die-hard fan of anything. Looking back to my pre-teen/early teen years I thought about these guys...
As I reflect on my New Kids on the Block fandom, I can definitely identify it as a way that I associated with other girls in my grade. Enjoying the music, the videos, and the posters brought friends together. We did attend concerts and swoon over our favorite members. I remember choreographing dances to the songs as well as imitating the dances that the band did on music videos and recorded concerts. At the time I didn't realize that the sharing of invented stories and retelling and embellishing dreams we had was called fan fiction. At sleepovers we'd tell stories about how we were the girlfriends of the band members and all of the adventures we'd have together. All of the talking, reading about, and watching the band would lead to more dreams about them. Thus, the cycle would continue.
When teen magazines had articles and posters, we bought them. We'd trade posters depending on who had the centerfold or cute solo picture. The five members of the band were slightly different in appearance and attitude to attract girls of all types. At the time Joey was the youngest, most popular member. I asserted my individuality by choosing the bad boy of the group. I liked Donnie Wahlberg the best. I had my Donnie doll and posters to reflect my allegiance. Up until recently, Mark Wahlberg had overshadowed his brother. I was surprised to see that New Kids on the Block have come back. I wonder how well their comeback will go. I don't remember why I got away from my fanatic following of the band. I imagine that I was lead away by the waning coverage of the media and the dwindling of the airtime the band received.
As I mentioned, NKOTB is back. This came to my attention while watching Rachel Ray . This clip shows a contest on the show. The contest was aimed at finding the biggest NKOTB fan.
When I saw this I couldn't help but wonder how these women stayed obsessed for so long despite the lack of media coverage and the dissolution of the band. My fandom never reached these heights. It would seem that they no longer are part of a mainstream fan base. Perhaps they have found a way to link to others worldwide to keep their connection to the band going. My fandom was used to connect me to a little social group. At the degree these women have taken fandom, it seems that it would be alienating. Oddly enough, when I grew out of New Kids on the Block I transitioned to Guns n Roses and the Headbangers' Ball. Quite a jump really. I moved from wanting to be a girl in the mainstream to my own little counter culture. Maybe these women are holding on to their fandom as a form of their individuality.
So...How does this all tie to education? Knowing how students spend their time out of school and what brings students together is important in developing a positive classroom environment. If educators could identify factors around which students unite, the potential for motivation and engagement in the classroom would ignite. I haven't even heard the newest NKOTB, but the memories that surround my first go-round with them linger. This indicates that learning in an engaging context will stick. It also demonstrates that the same methods will not always hold the same effectiveness. At this point in the class I have more questions than answers. How do you tap into popular culture in the classroom without the attempt being shallow and superficial? How can I create meaningful, authentic learning while avoiding cute and meaningless add-ons? How can I incorporate pop-culture in a way that will do more than pacify and entertain my students? All of these questions will guide me in my path of learning in this course.