Chapters 1-3 ... in progress
In order to use pop culture in our classrooms, we have to be familiar with it ourselves. When I think about pop culture it is impossible to ignore the way it permeates everything. This topic reminds me of a funny story about Kid Rock.
Before my first teaching job as a sixth grade full-year substitute, Kid Rock's Devil Without a Cause CD hit the airwaves. I had a diverse group of friends, one of which enjoyed this music. With a passing familiarity with the album, I began my first job. A few kids were singing as they walked into the room one day. Laughing I said, "Oh my don't sing that. It gets stuck in my head!" Their eyes nearly popped out of their heads when they heard their teacher comment about Kid Rock's "Cowboy" from the aforementioned CD. It became a bit of a joke between us, and the kids would hum and sing the few clean lines they could get away with when they had a chance in an attempt to get the song stuck in my head. That particular song was edited and frequently on the radio. As if to test me, one student said, "Can we bring in that CD and listen to it here?" My response was, "The album cover and language are not appropriate for the classroom." The album cover to which I was referring was a black and white photo of a hand with an extended middle finger. Again the students were shocked that I knew this. Funny enough, today I just realized that the album cover to which I was referring was the one for the "unedited" CD. My friend, and those kids, both had that version. I didn't realize until now that there was another version until I attempted to find a picture of that cover for this blog.
I tried to keep a level of awareness of pop culture when I taught sixth grade. It helped keep a leg-up on matters in the classroom. I lost a little of the connection when I moved to a second grade classroom, but I had to look in different arenas. There is more cartoon and toy commercial watching in the primary grades. Cruising Nick Jr. and toy ads helped a little. Music videos played a smaller role, but students with older brothers and sisters still knew quite a bit about popular music.
So...up until now why haven't I really looked at incorporating popular culture into the classroom? The book gives a pretty clear answer. My performance and the performance of the school as a whole were being based on the scores achieved on state standardized testing. The state puts an increasing amount of demands on the amount of information students should know and simultaneously reduces funding and increases class sizes. What's different now? I'm out of the regular classroom and I'm working with the gifted. These are the most under-served students in the system. The state and school districts don't worry about them because they do not 'hurt' test scores. What this means for me...no one pays attention to what I do because the state dictates that there must be a service but gives no indication what it should contain. My existence in the position is all that the state requires. Therefore, I have the freedom to create a curriculum and work on problem solving, critical thinking, fostering creativity, and everything else that is not measured on the standardized tests. Of course...I'm not going to get much, if any, funding. Building principals don't even know what I'm doing. I'm scrounging for materials and relishing my freedom for as long as I can keep it!
I remember this image from the media coverage that surrounded it. Reading our text, I only just discovered it was a Nike sports bra. Somehow I missed that marketing blitz.
I have some quotations I took from the book on my laptop. The software "updates" are running on that now. So, I guess I'll save that portion of the book discussion until tomorrow.