A change or three… (week 13)

Posted: October 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

For my final blog entry I wanted to write about some of the most noticable changes I have observed in the past 20 years, particularly within popular culture. Firstly, a major concern of mine is the over-sexualisation of young people in 21st century popular culture. There’s no doubt about it, pop culture is getting sexier. Even scarier, we are becoming numb to it. As McGinnity (2005) states, one of the tragedies of our time is the war on childhood innocence being waged in contemporary western society. It’s everywhere you look- just turn on a TV, a radio or open a magazine and there’s sure to be a scantily-clad young woman gyrating while washing a car or singing / licking their microphone while performing stripper moves in front of a mostly adolescent audience (Miley Cyrus…seriously, what WAS that?).


Miley Cyrus at the 2013 MTV Music Awards

Sex is big business and innocent children are seen as consumers to be targeted. They are being dressed in provocative clothing and bombarded with sexual imagery from newspapers, magazines and television (McGinnity, 2005).
Additionally, I am noticing a steady decline in basic communication skills amongst young people. It’s abundantly clear that today’s world is significantly different to what it was 20 or so years ago. In some ways we have streamlined the way we operate- we can pay our bills online, update our drivers licence, chat face-to-face with a friend in London, even complete a Master’s degree…but at what cost? Human interaction and communication is more textual since the proliferation of mobile phones, email, blogs, wikis etc. I worry that, despite appearances, young people are at a distinct disadvantage growing up in today’s world. They are less likely to pick up a phone and talk to each other- text has become the preferred method for young people to communicate. They even do it when in the same room or house! Speaking with a colleague the other day, he informed me that he texts his children from the next room when dinner’s ready because he knows at least then they’ll get the message!
Commercialism has taken over the world of popular culture. When I was a young tacker, I remember being thoroughly enraptured by cartoons such as The Jetsons, Astro Boy, Smurfs and The Flintstones.  As a pre-teen  you couldn’t tear me away from Home & Away and Neighbours, Rage on a Saturday morning and my absolute obsession -The Henderson Kids. My movies of choice were The Wizard of Oz, Sound of Music and, perhaps a little controversially, Dirty Dancing! (Patrick Swayze.. hubba hubba!)


Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing (1989)

Casting my eye over this list I can honestly say (ok, well except for Dirty Dancing) that these shows were harmless, G-rated entertainment. Even the music clips on Rage were tame by today’s standards, I distinctly remember watching Bananarama, Milli Vanilli, Kylie Minogue and INXS wearing ALL their clothes in their film clips (albeit with an 80s ‘daggy’ edge!). What a treat that would be, these days!

A key factor is that the TV shows and movies back in the 80s were not as commercially driven as they are today. With the arrival of the internet, everything has gone global. There is more competition for audience attention and producers / artists/ companies will do almost anything to get noticed. One such example is advertisers using product placement to get their products seen.  It’s as if the commercial world is seeping into our brains and we don’t even know it! For children, their vulnerability and impressionability makes them the perfect target audience for commercial predators. You didn’t see ‘Johnny’ in Dirty Dancing picking up a can of Coke before doing the lift with ‘Baby’ or Fraulein Maria dancing around singing ‘the hills are alive’ in her fancy Nike trainers on the hills of Austria.

maria with nike

May have looked a bit odd, I guess…

Perhaps the best we can do is teach our young people how to cope in our complex, 21st century world. Teach them how to communicate with each other respectfully and courteously, teach them how to be safe online, how to make informed decisions, problem solve and make valid, unbiased judgements about their world.  It will be interesting to see what the next 20 years bring, personally I hope the speed of technology does slow down a little to let kids…JUST BE KIDS!


Freeman, D. (2012). Patrick Swayze [image]. Retrieved from: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/patrick-swayze/images/31226745/title/dirty-dancing-photo

Getty Images (2013) Miley Cyrus at the 2013 MTV Music Awards [image]. Retrieved from: http://www.spin.com/articles/mtv-vma-2013-fashion-miley-cyrus-video-music-awards/

McGinnity, P. (2005). Sexualisation of children is big business. Irish Examiner. Retrieved from: http://search.proquest.com/docview/757833403?accountid=13380

Puckrick, K. (2010). The hills are alive [image]. Retrieved from: http://www.katiepuckriksmells.com/2010/04/scents-that-sing-spring.html


This week I chose to focus on a topic that is of particular interest to me, and effects every classroom across the globe ….the rise of the digital age! While this may not seem new to us, it still astounds me how many dinosaurs there are in the teaching profession! With respect, some teachers have been in the game for many decades and have a wealth of knowledge to offer their students. But today’s students live in a very different world to when I was in primary school and as such, the learning and teaching must now reflect what’s known as the ‘digital age’. Traditional teaching methods no longer cut it. At the heart of teaching is the role to ‘adopt strategies which enhance the learning of others’ (Loveless, Devoogd & Bohlin, 2001:67). There are many opportunities for ICT to evolve aspects of our pedagogy and enhance the learning of our students preparing them for life in the 21st century, but it’s up to teachers to implement them!  As Prensky (2006:5) powerfully states ‘resisting digital technology will be truly lethal to our children’s education’. The is no doubt that the advancement of technology indeed impacts upon what, how and where we teach. The challenge for us as teachers is to make learning relevant and engaging in a world which is reliant on and enriched by ICT. In the digital age, Lankshear (2000:23) states that ‘teachers are being challenged to think and act in new ways about literacy, technology and learning’. Traditional pedagogy involved the students accepting the ‘knowledge’ of the teacher. The role of education was merely to transfer knowledge from the teacher to the student. This is no longer the case, as can be seen in classrooms across Australia. Educators need to ‘reinvent the wheel’ so to speak. However, Lankshear (2000:24) warns that trying to incorporate new technologies into conventional frameworks is not going to work. We need a complete overhaul if we are to truly connect with the youth of today.

http://wordpress.com                           http://www.wikispaces.com/                             http://www.voki.com/

Blogging, Wikis, Vokis… oh my!  So this is what it’s come to. Now more than ever, educators need to embrace new pedagogies and technology into teaching and learning programs. Literacy skills for the twenty-first century are skills that enable participation in the new communities emerging within a networked society. (Jenkins, H. et al., 2006) Inquiry-based, technology-rich learning is the new black and with this change comes a learning theory for the digital age – connectivism. Connectivism encompasses elements of constructivism, such as – aiming to provide students with the skills and strategies to be ‘lifelong learners; and the role of the teacher moving from being an ‘expert’ to that of a ‘guide’ who assists students make meaning through exploration (Jonassen, Peck, Wilson, 1999). There are many opportunities for ICT to evolve aspects of our pedagogy and enhance the learning of our students. This blog, is itself an example of where 21st century learning is headed.  The advancement of technology indeed impacts upon what, how and where we teach.

“So what does all this mean?”, I hear you ask. Well, as educators we need to take a leap of faith into the digital era and let go of any misgivings we may have about ‘being the keeper of all knowledge’.  Sounds easy enough… doesn’t it?!

second_part_of_voki_stepsblog class_wiki


Fraher’s Class and Friends (2011) [image]. Retrieved October 14, 2013, from: http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&docid=t9gGZdZbCgRs4M&tbnid=Hzr_Uc5xAr8tpM:&ved=0CAQQjB0&url=http%3A%2F%2Fblogs.goaj.org%2Fgamekid%2F2011%2F11%2F21%2Fmy-nominations-student-blogging-challenge-10%2F&ei=3JJbUo7DDMyilQXayYGoCg&bvm=bv.53899372,d.dGI&psig=AFQjCNHY3YQEeNMiHVsaFZbkmsprv8bhMw&ust=1381819475478733

Jenkins, H. et al. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: media education for the 21st century. MacArthur Foundation.  Retrieved from: http://digitallearning.macfound.org/site/c.enJLKQNlFiG/b.2108773/apps/nl/content2.asp?content_id={CD911571-0240-4714-A93B-1D0C07C7B6C1}¬oc=1

Lankshear, Colin et.al. (2000). Understanding the Changing World of Literacy, Technology and Learning.  In Lankshear, Colin et. Al. (Eds.), Teachers and technoliteracy: Managing literacy, technology and learning in school, (pp. 23-47). St. Leonards, NSW: Allen and Unwin.

Loveless, A., DeVoogd, G. and Bohlin, R. (2001) Something old, something new…is pedagogy affected by ICT.  In A. Loveless and V. Ellis (Eds.) ICT, pedagogy and the curriculum: subject to change (pp. 64-83). London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Prensky, M. (2006)  Adopt and adapt : 21st-century schools need 21st-century technology. Teacher Learning Network; 13 (3), 3-6.  Retrieved September 24, 2013 from A+ Education database

Voki (n.d.) [image]. Retrieved October 14, 2013, from: http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&docid=NHg_FfbBf3mD1M&tbnid=Lsd6KUxfRE5d_M:&ved=0CAQQjB0&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwts-cooltools.wikispaces.com%2FVoki&ei=QJJbUujyA4WklQXe4YCICg&bvm=bv.53899372,d.dGI&psig=AFQjCNG5uikKDdKJkJXORm0sbXXbSFvGUA&ust=1381819304388594

Wikis (n.d.) [image]. Retrieved October 14, 2013, from: http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&docid=cE4rgYVwAe7eUM&tbnid=QLY0c_1jDFWE8M:&ved=0CAQQjB0&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thegrid.org.uk%2Flearning%2Fict%2Ftechnologies%2Fweb2.0%2Fwiki%2F&ei=IZNbUpyWBoiZkAWA24CoAg&bvm=bv.53899372,d.dGI&psig=AFQjCNGUaG7QvQxHQeglcA4JVkAsRH3C8Q&ust=1381819415718923


Click here to visit my Popular Culture Pinterest Board!

pop culture pic

(PopReaper, 2013)

So, what IS popular with kids these days?

Creating a pop culture pinterest board on the back of last week’s task was both interesting and enjoyable. The items I pinned come from both my interviews of young people as well as general observations within a primary school setting.
The English Oxford Dictionary defines popular culture as:
Culture based on the tastes of ordinary people rather than an educated elite: the assimilation of elements of popular culture into the fine arts, an icon of popular culture   (Oxford Dictionary, 2013)
The tastes of the ordinary young people I observed and interviewed seem to converge together into a mass of reality TV shows, music pop-artists and online games. Reality TV shows such as The Block, The Bachelor, The Voice and Masterchef were all very popular among young people, despite the adult themes that some of the shows contain. The MTV generation, as they are known, are mostly interested in the musical talents of Justin Beiber, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Adele, LMFAO and the cult classic of Psy ‘Gangnam Style’. Book series such as Ivy & Bean, Clarice Bean, Harry Potter, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Goosebumps were favoured amongst young readers. Minecraft and Moshi Monsters were at the top of the online game list for the youths that I observed and interviewed, the likes of which I am still trying to understand! The strong influence of popular culture on young people means that embracing it into classroom practices is of significant educational value. As explained by Weinberg (2010), while students usually enter a history classroom ignorant of a variety of topics, popular culture is intensely familiar to them. It offers a wealth of bridges between the past and present.
If popular culture is the key to unlocking the interests of young people for educational purposes… I’m straight onto it!


Oxford Dictionary (2013). Definition of Popular Culture in English. Retrieved from: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/popular-culture?q=popular+culture

PopReaper (2013). Pop Culture – Banner [image]. Retrieved from: http://popreaper.deviantart.com/art/Pop-Culture-Banner-349161506

Weinberg, C. R. (2010). Learning from popular culture. Magazine of History, 24(2), 3. Retrieved from: http://search.proquest.com/docview/847122930?accountid=13380

Link  —  Posted: September 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

Ahh, kids these days! (week 10)

Posted: September 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

This week I interviewed a small group of four Year 4 students to find out about the texts they like to read, watch and engage with.
Below is a table of the results, showing the difference between the boy and girl answers.

wk 10 interview

The children thoroughly enjoyed being interviewed; moreover they enjoyed explaining (in intricate detail) the various online games that they play. It seems the role reversal of student becoming the teacher was a novelty to them!  I was interested in what they had to say, and they relished in the moment. The results are not surprising. Good old Simpsons and Futurama haven’t lost their edge, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Clarice Bean and Ivy & Bean are rarely left ‘un-loaned’ from school libraries across Australia. They are popular texts because they relate to this age group, they offer an element of escapism and they are an ‘easy read’ blended with a bit of crude!
What concerned me from the results, however, is that the children have free reign to view youtube clips at home. It’s fair to say that some music videos resemble soft porn! Nevertheless, artists such as Justin Beiber, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Psy and LMFAO all got frequent mentions amongst the ‘MTV generation’. Mallan, Kerry and Pearce, Sharyn (2003) warns that these texts embodying contradictory ideological messages in their “play of ideas about gender identities and about relations between men and women, realized in lyrics and visual forms characterised by complexity, ambiguity, and inconclusiveness”.
The TV shows are also fairly adult in nature, raising concerns about the influence of popular texts on children who are too young and immature to fully comprehend their content. I couldn’t help but wonder, if this is what 10 year olds are watching and engaging with online, what are they going to watch when they’re 20? Neighbours, as an example, used to be very tame – G rated even. Today, it’s a whole different ball game! I caught a glimpse of an episode not long ago where the very young characters were casually sleeping with each other – what message does this send to the 10 year olds that are watching? The fact is that young people are growing up faster and popular culture texts play a major part in that. Johnston (2005) advises that the story of popular culture over the past fifty years, if not five hundred-is a story of steady decline: the morals of the stories have grown darker and more ambiguous, and the anti-heroes have multiplied.
Perhaps what we need to consider is that popular culture texts are giving young children an insight into the truth- the real world isn’t always rainbows and lollipops.
The question is then: with popular culture texts dominating our airways, TV screens and online activities, how do we equip young people with the skills to cope in our increasingly complex world?

Johnson, Steven, (2005). Introduction : The Sleeper Curve. In Johnson, Steven, Everything bad is good for you : how today’s popular culture is actually making us smarter, (pp. 14). New York: Riverhead Books.
Mallan, Kerry and Pearce, Sharyn, (2003). Introduction : Tales of Youth in Postmodern Culture. In Mallan, Kerry and Pearce, Sharyn, Youth cultures : texts, images, and identities, (pp.xiii). Westport, CT: Praeger.

Sheldon epitomises someone who is commonly referred to as a ‘geek’

It seems that times have changed. Nerdiness was once shameful and those deemed by mainstream society to be ‘nerds’ were on the bottom of the social ladder. But as popular culture dictates, ‘geeks’ are now ‘cool’ and they couldn’t be prouder!
The Oxford Dictionary defines a ‘geek’ as an unfashionable or socially inept person. Ha! Some of my friends are tragically unfashionable but I certainly wouldn’t describe them as geeks…so perhaps the definition lies in the term socially inept- but what exactly does that mean? Unable to maintain a conversation? Scared of socialising? Saying stupid things at inopportune moments? No friends?
To be a nerd once meant a life of ostracism and scorn by those within mainstream culture; however, as society places an ever-increasing premium on the very skills possessed by this subculture of former outcasts, nerds have begun to experience an unprecedented level of attention and interest (Cardiel, 2012).

There has been a resurgence of all things ‘geeky’ in popular culture of late. What would have historically been labelled as ‘geeky’ is now funny and fashionable. Shows such as ‘The Big Bang Theory’, ‘Beauty and the Geek’ and ‘IT Crowd’ channel the humour found from geeks and geeky behaviour. They are all very successful TV shows in their own right.  Why is it that shows about geeks are being so embraced by popular culture? Being a geek has never been more popular.

When we consider some famous real-life geeks – Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs- there is little doubt that their brains, determination and ‘geekiness’ contributed to who they became, very rich and successful geeks who revolutionised the IT industry. What’s not cool about that? It’s about time mainstream society considered brains ‘cool’. Let’s face it, where would we be without geeks? (probably still using Commodore 64s and referencing literature from Golden Encyclopaedias – ah the memories of my youth!)

Even rap artists are jumping aboard. N.E.R.D has embraced the trend and Justin Timberlake famously donned thick, black-rimmed glasses and was considered ‘geek chic’. Thick, black-rimmed glasses were once the symbol of nerdiness.  Top Shop, a famous fashion house based in the UK, stocks T-shirts that proudly sport the logo ‘Dork’ and ‘Nerd’ across the front. So what’s happening here?! It is clear that popular culture has done a back flip and we find ourselves redefining social ‘norms’ and what is considered typically ‘cool’.

I for one, am super excited (that sounds nerdy, doesn’t it?) that geekiness is the new black. Without nerdy brainiacs who knows where we’d be, probably still chipping away at stone with a chisel.


(Chiseling Caveman, 2012)

Ah yes…I’d like to believe there’s a little bit of geekiness in us all 😉


Cardiel, C. L. B. (2012). Are we cool yet?: A longitudinal content analysis of nerd and geek representations in popular television. (Order No. 1529766, Portland State University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 169. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1221535388?accountid=13380. (1221535388).

Chiseling Caveman (2012)  [image]. Retrieved from: http://www.contentwritingusa.com/HolyMoleMonster

Sheldon’s Best Moments. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_Y3FxVaF3s

Oxford Dictionary (n.d.) Retrieved from: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/geek

Geek Chic (book)

Geek Chic (book) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Video  —  Posted: September 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

Daddy's Girl

This week I read a chapter from Valerie Walkerdine’s (1998) book ‘Daddy’s Girl’. In it, she explores the issue of how young girls are perceived in popular culture.  She writes about the ‘sexualisation’ of children in popular culture texts and their perceived corruption of innocence via the many cultural mediums in which they are portrayed. Her book raises concerns about how young girls are defined across a range of spectrums.  She provides examples such as Yoplait, Kodak and Volkswagen commercials where young, pretty girls are presented as alluring and vulnerable figures to aid sales. She asks a controversial  question: ‘do we smile at these girls because they are pretty or is the vulnerability and charm also erotically coded?’ (Walkerdine, 1998). The book questions popular culture’s deemed preference of ‘white, blonde-haired girls’ to represent innocence in popular culture texts, particularly advertisements. She also raises concerns about the portrayal of the ‘classes’ – middle and working class children and how they are perceived in popular culture.  Walkerdine (1998) suggests that the issue of girls’ relation to popular culture is often profoundly classed and ethnically specific. This article was written in 1998, so some of her concerns may not necessarily be as prevalent today (e.g. a range of ethnic groups are featured in Australian popular culture today), however, the underlying concern of how girls and women can often be portrayed as inferior to men and boys, remains.

Popular culture remains a significant advertising tool today. Women’s magazines have come under intense scrutiny in recent years to feature a range of ‘real’ women, as opposed to the wafer thin models so popular in the 80s. Popular culture has an incredible influence on the vulnerable; young people are hugely impacted by what they read, see and do and it is important that popular culture is held to account. Most worrying is it raises concerns about the influence of popular culture on the masses; ‘Popular culture has often presented simultaneously a corruptible ideology and a stupid, easily-swayed mass’ (Walkerdine, 1998). This is something that is difficult to regulate, yet it can have an overwhelming influence on how people in society- regardless of their age, ethnicity, gender or class – are perceived.

While popular culture has many advantages as a way to influence people, Walkerdine’s (1998) article shines a spotlight on its many dangers as a cultural ‘steering wheel’ and highlights the importance of immersing young people in inclusive,  wholesome  and positive popular culture texts.


Walkerdine, V. (1998). Daddy’s girl: Young girls and popular culture. Harvard University Press.

Blog for CLN647

Posted: August 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

This blog is set up for Assignment 2, Youth, Popular Culture and Texts (CLN647).

In Weeks 7-13, this blog will come alive with interesting additions about youth, texts, pop culture, blogging…etc.

Watch this space!