“Every child has the right to say what they think in all matters affecting them and to have their views taken seriously” taken from the United Nations Convention (Dowdall, Vasudevan and Mackey, 2014, p. 2). 


When I began this subject I had to get my head around the term popular culture – what does this actually mean to me and how does it fit within the curriculum? The professional article that I found was “Popular Culture and the Curriculum” (how fitting to my blog title) by Clare Dowdall, Lalitha Vasudevan and Margaret Mackey (2014).  The paper outlined a study in which compared the new national curriculums of the United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand, Canada and Northern Ireland which all have an emphasis on skills-based literacy failing to adapt to the integration of popular culture, furthermore the argument that popular culture “should be viewed as an asset to be utilised in literacy learning” (Dowdall, Vasudevan and Mackey, 2014, p. 1).  The paper has supported the facts that popular culture in the literacy curriculum does engage students interests, therefore ultimately it supports their learning.


I know as a teacher I have often felt “guilty” allowing students to watch a YouTube clip or a movie not understanding the benefits behind it, however this paper has supported and provided evidence by referring to numerous other papers that learning does take place while students are immersed in “non-traditional” literacy forms.  Some of these researchers included Schmier, who observed the pedagogical practices of a middle-school United States teacher and the integration of video games in the curriculum (Dowdall et al., 2014, p. 3).  The teacher was successful in immersing students in learning as they demonstrated the world of gaming and the intricacies behind developing the games to maintain the validity of the original source.  The process was through looking at the comic “X-Men”, the movie and then the video game (Dowdall et al., 2014, p. 3).  It is through this “play-based” world that students can extend their learning.


The authors continue to explain other researchers viewed the New Zealand curriculum where skills-based literacy programs are also encouraged, however through observations they could support the benefits of popular culture with young children and this was displayed through effective writing skills (Dowdall et al., 2014, p. 2).  I know as an early childhood teacher myself anything that involves play enhances children’s learning as they are relating the “what they know” to the “what they don’t know” world.  I have had many reluctant learners in my classrooms over the years but once you engage them into the world of play they are able to transfer their knowledge to demonstrate their skills and I can relate this article to my early childhood teaching roots in the same mannerism.


I found this article insightful in the fact that many curriculums around the world are still encouraging the skills-based literacy and I suppose the “chalk and talk” strategies, whereas we need to keep up pace with our children and change our pedagogical practices to the way they now learn.  The authors were able to support the benefit of engaging in popular culture by examining a number of research papers which all acknowledge the achievements students made by relating traditional literacies to digital literacies and the importance of “connectedness to the world” (Dowdall, Vasudevan and Mackey, 2014, p. 3).



Dowdall, C., Vasudevan, L., & Mackey, M. (2014). Popular culture and curriculum.  Literacy, 48(1), 1-3. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/doi/10.1111/lit.12028/pdf.

Image: X-Men. Retrieved 23rd August, 2014 from: https://www.google.com.au/search?q=x+men+video+game&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=z2b4U865JoS-uATur4CoBw&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ&biw=1438&bih=708&dpr=0.95#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=nrtt9CYICwzfSM%253A%3Brp0RrWQ2jqZUoM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fcomicdomwrecks.files.wordpress.com%252F2011%252F08%252Ftitle.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fcomicdomwrecks.wordpress.com%252F2011%252F08%252F12%252Fx-men-in-video-games-part-3%252F%3B448%3B278




Comments on: "Popular Culture and the Curriculum" (3)

  1. I agree about the importance of play. Our school systems seem to be moving away from that and into trying to ‘achieve’ more earlier and it’s a real shame.


  2. Popular Culture is a necessary ‘platform’ for education, I’m all for interest driven learning, and know from personal experience that I get more from a unit if I have an interest in it. I have struggled with the units I that I personally have had no passion for. So, yes agree with the concept of keeping up with the times and what our children are up to and that pedagogical practices do need to change with the times. Web 2.0 a clear example of the need for change in the current pedagogical structures.


  3. I have always used Popular Culture reference in my teaching. Even before the internet, I referred to TV shows or Movies in my teaching. Now I show clips from YouTube, sing songs (badly) and generally try to relate the material in the curriculum to the students in my class. It is difficult enough to engage students with some the current curriculum so making it relevant to their lives, even with a song, helps make those connections and raises their engagement level a little. YouTube is one of the tools I have used with Biology and Science classes for a number of years. I ask students to find a video of a song about a concept and then we look at it the next day. Though sometimes the information in the video is incorrect it offers an opportunity to engage in conversation about the content. I find the engagement of students is greater if they have had the opportunity to find something that appeals to them and they generally remember the content better than if I had just given it to them.


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