There can be many advantages to using Popular Culture in classrooms. From a personal perspective, I believe that using using pop culture in the classroom creates engagement for students. When students are engaged, I believe that they are more inclined to learn. Isn’t that what we want for our students? An engaging, interesting place to come and figure out the world we live in? Shouldn’t our school libraries be at the forefront of encouraging students to learn? So it seems I have many questions, but most definitely not all the answers.
In today’s school libraries, it is quickly becoming all about balance. Libraries are introducing e-books to their collections and including computer games in their lunch time activities. While these experiences and activities can enhance learning for students, the little voice in the back of my head says we need balance. Getting the balance right is a tricky thing. But I firmly believe that there is a way to integrate pop culture aspects into the curriculum. From little things like keeping a regular library column in the school newsletter and on the school web site, to bigger programs like the Snapshots Project by the New York Public Library, there are many ideas out there that could be used in the library setting.
I want to be in this profession to help people. I want to help the staff better engage their students, but ultimately I want students to love reading as much as I do. I want them to be the kid with the torch, under the covers after lights out because they just can’t put a book down. If it happens to be Harry Potter or whatever else is popular at the time – who cares. If I can get a child to read 1 more book by helpfully suggesting they might also like Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’, that makes me happy. If it takes just that little piece of pop culture to encourage more students into my library – even happier.
There will be many new advances in technology, and many, many changes to what is deemed ‘popular’ among young people in the future. I’m not advocating that we integrate ALL of it into our classrooms and libraries, merely take little chunks of it and maybe the students can teach us a little something too. Do a little research among your students, find out what they like, if it’s new technology, get them to teach it to you (they will probably be much more of an expert anyway)! Find a way to engage the more reluctant readers, and hopefully get them coming back for more!