Using Pop Culture to your Advantage in the Classroom

Are you an educator who experiences the pain of watching your students fight boredom in class? Do you have that burning passion for your field but can’t get across to your students? In an attempt for teachers to amplify their interest in learning, several schools have already ventured into creating a fusion between contemporary pop culture and the courses that they offer. Picture this: A student at the University of Virginia signs up for a four-week course studying the very popular series Game of Thrones. Lisa Woolfork, the professor who runs the course, explains that the skills applied in analyzing literature can also be utilized in the shows that they watch.

Does that sound interesting? Here are some other ways pop culture can “pump up the energy” in your classroom.

Utilize podcasts and videos that can help the students in their requirements.

Teachers have to consider that a method may not be effective to all since students have different learning styles. Some of them may not be a fan of going through lots of books in the library or articles on the Internet. There are a lot of podcasts and videos that tackle different subjects taught in universities.

Turn your class occasionally into a series marathon

Episodes of shows that deal with professions, such as Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order, and How to Get Away with Murder can substitute boring case studies in class. Have the students watch one or two episodes and let them scrutinize the events that transpired. Are there any loopholes in the plot? Did the main character make a good decision? Is this what would actually happen in real life? What concepts were used in the episode? Surely class discussions will become much livelier.

Give colour to language and history courses with pop culture

Not all songs in iTunes deal with heartbreak or teach you “how to twerk it like Miley.” A lot of songs also have significant meanings. Some songwriters tackle political issues or events in their homeland. No one can explain the history of a particular country better than those who have actually lived there and experienced it. Have the students listen to foreign music or watch movies to get actual examples on how the foreign language that they are studying is being used. This beats the normal routine of “This word in Spanish translates to…” which usually turns the class into a snooze festival.

Tackle sociopolitical issues with popular culture

A course is being offered in McDaniel College that extends the humor used by South Park in tackling social issues such as homosexuality and terror attacks into a deeper discussion in class. The Rutgers University followed suit by relating Beyoncé to issues on racism, gender equality, and politics. Popular culture can serve as a magnifying glass to provide clarity on and deeper understanding of principles and social issues today.

It’s all about creating balance

Courses that have been mixed with a popular-culture flavor should not be considered as a temporary trend only. These courses provide a realistic perspective of our world today. Aside from the fact that these study materials induce mental stimulation, they create fun and provide rest from the wave of toxic course requirements that they encounter every day.

Maria Dublin
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Maria is a writer, an editor, and a law student. She plays for the Philippine national touch football team, and does a lot of travelling during the holidays.