Bring Media Literacy and Popular Culture to the Classroom


If you’re a teacher or educator of any discipline, and you want to really engage your students and help them think critically, then you should integrate popular culture and media literacy into your courses. No one escapes our media entrenched society. Media and popular culture help shape our values, stereotypes, prejudices, and political views. Media is both a powerful story telling institution and a means of information consumption. But it is also a tool to manipulate and misinform those who uncritically consume it.

During my years of teaching, I used the pedagogy of popular culture and media to teach writing, reading, and critical thinking. My students analyzed advertising messages, wrote essays and research papers on controversial issues related to violence in the media, gender stereotypes, bias in the news, and the art and power of story telling. Every student was engaged because they all shared experiences and opinions of popular songs, movies, televisions shows, teen magazines, and video games. Even when I had to teach classic novels such as The Great Gatsby, we studied the work alongside watching Oliver Stones’ Wall Street—both of which focus on class and the American Dream.

Thus, I’m a proud to share the publication of Rethinking Popular Culture and Media, which includes two of my previously published articles (“Seventeen, Self-Image, and Stereotypes,” and “Examining Media Violence”) about how I used media literacy in the classroom. I’m honored to be published alongside the progressive teachers, activists, and educators like Bob Peterson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Bill Bigelow, Linda Christensen, Wayne Au, and Herbert Kohl.

Rethinking Popular Culture and Media makes for a great introduction to the subject. Google the keywords “media literacy” and you will also discover an abundance of resources put out by the Center for Media Literacy, the New Mexico Media Literacy Project, and the National Association for Media Literacy Education (of which I was a board member for a few years.)

The publishers of the collection, Rethinking Schools, has consistently been in the forefront of progressive education, and has been unwavering to its dedication of encouraging and helping teachers infuse student-centered and multicultural education in the classroom.

Rethinking Popular Culture and Media is written by and for teachers. If you have never considered this type of pedagogy in your classroom, you’re missing a powerful way to reach and engage your students.

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