A blog for CLN647 – Youth, Popular Culture & Texts

Share: What Schools Can Do to Help Boys Succeed

I love Time magazine and I subscribe to their Ten Most Popular Stories of the Week email. One of the stories this week seemed relevant to anyone working with young people. Here is a link to the article, What Schools Can Do to Help Boys Succeed by Christina Hoff Sommers. Her three main suggestions are: bring back recess, turn boys into readers, and work with the young male imagination. This may not be groundbreaking advice, but it’s something that we all find a challenge.

The article includes a link to Guys Read (http://guysread.com/), a web-based literacy program for boys founded by author Jon Scieszka, which I’m definitely going to explore.


American Enterprise Institute. (2013, October 28). What schools can do to help boys succeed: AEI Top Three [YouTube clip]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8-F4VRJQsM

Sommers, Christina Hoff. (2013, October 28). What Schools Can Do to Help Boys Succeed. Time magazine. Retrieved from http://ideas.time.com/2013/10/28/what-schools-can-do-to-help-boys-succeed/


New Skills for the New Media Culture (Part 1)

Reflecting on my studies of Youth, Popular Culture and Texts, one of the main concepts I’ve come to understand is participatory culture, which has led us to question which skills are necessary to succeed in this new culture. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century by Henry Jenkins et al (2006) discusses the implications of participatory culture for education in school and out-of-school contexts. The report points out the potential benefits of participatory culture and argues that all students need not only access to technology but also opportunities to participate and develop the new media literacies: cultural competencies and social skills developed through collaboration and networking, building on “the foundation of traditional literacy, research skills, technical skills, and critical analysis skills taught in the classroom” (Jenkins et al, 2006, p. 4).

The report identifies eleven core skills necessary for participation in this new media culture. It’s easy for teachers to view this as yet another responsibility added to their already full workload, taking away from their core role of teaching the content of their subjects. I teach English to adult international students, so my initial reaction was that it’s not in my job description to teach media literacies. But isn’t it also part of my job to foster the range of skills and literacies my students need to communicate in English and become active participants in this 21st century culture?

The report (Jenkins et al, 2006, p. 22-55) provides some examples of how these core skills can be developed in formal and informal educational contexts, which I’ve used and adapted to explore ways I could incorporate them into my ESL teaching. Hopefully this will demonstrate how these core skills can be developed in any context, which might give you some inspiration for your own situation.

Play: Experimenting with your surroundings as a form of problem-solving

Why is play a central feature of early childhood development, but often considered a waste of time for adults? A growing body of evidence points out the potential benefits of gaming and I’m sure many other teachers have been asked by their young adult students, ‘Can we play a game?’ While this may partly be due to their perception of games as more fun and less serious than traditional classwork, there’s no doubt that young people are engaged as they’re drawn into the world of the game, motivated by a goal and developing skills as they play. According to Jenkins et al (2006, p. 23), “play lowers the emotional stakes of failing: players are encouraged to suspend some of the real world consequences of the represented actions, to take risks and learn through trial and error.”

Jenkins et al (2006, p. 24) suggest games and activities that encourage free-form experimentation and open-ended speculation. Here are some of my ideas for incorporating this into ESL teaching:

  • Problem solving activities could be incorporated into a variety of lessons.
  • Speculation about current, historical and future real-life events could be used in grammar lessons (eg. conditionals, modal verbs for speculation and predictions) and discussions.
  • Storytelling activities like fractured fairy tales could promote speculation by modifying traditional stories, analysing stereotyping and conventions. (Some resources: http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/fairytales/; http://teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/mff/fractured_fairy.htm; http://www.thebookchook.com/2013/02/fractured-fairy-tales.html)
  • Students could create a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ story, speculating what would happen if different choices were made. A film like Sliding Doors could be used to introduce the concept.
  • A variety of games can be used to develop communication skills and practise grammar and vocabulary. Many traditional activities can be adapted into games or challenges.
  • Students can be encouraged to speculate during pre- and post-reading and listening tasks.
  • Students should be encouraged to deduce the meaning of vocabulary from context.

Games Lessons by Maurizio Nazi. (Flickr image, CC BY 2.0, retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/25935380@N05/3994200574/in/set-72157610416025158)

Simulation: Interpreting and constructing dynamic models of real-world processes

Jenkins et al (2006, p. 25) point out the value of learning through direct observation and experimentation, which is now easier than ever thanks to new forms of simulation, which “broaden the kinds of experiences users can have with compelling data, giving us a chance to see and do things that would be impossible in the real world.”

The video games and high-tech simulations described in the report are unlikely to be possible in an English classroom, but I’ve tried to think of ways ESL students could be involved in manipulating and interpreting existing simulations, and creating models of real world processes:

  • Simulations – similar to role-plays as students work together on a task, but they don’t adopt an alternative identity
  • Business English – simulated business situations (eg. design and market a product and pitch to investors)
  • Creating models and charts of real world processes and information, which could be used to practise IELTS Writing Task 1. Hans Rosling’s Gapminder (http://www.gapminder.org/) and TED Talks (http://www.ted.com/speakers/hans_rosling.html) could be useful.
  • Design your own game based around a topic of interest/study
Retrieved from http://www.gapminder.org/

Screenshot of Gapminder website (http://www.gapminder.org/)

Performance: Adopting alternative identities for improvisation and discovery

Role play is an important skill which can be used for a variety of purposes. By putting ourselves in the role of another person, we’re forced to examine our own identity and relationships with others, and rethink our own perspectives and views of the world. Jenkins et al (2006, p. 31) argue that instead of treating role play as “a means to an end – a fun way to introduce other kinds of content,” the skills themselves are actually quite valuable.

Performance can easily be incorporated into ESL classes through:

  • Roleplaying – especially useful for practising functional language, cross-cultural understanding and speaking skills
  • Use Fakebook to create fake profiles (eg. fictional/historical figures), then role play interviews
  • Improvisation – could be introduced by showing TV programs like Thank God You’re Here or Whose Line is it Anyway
  • Business English – Epistemic games (Shaffer, as cited in Jenkins et al, 2006, p. 31), which simulate the social context of a profession
  • Model UN (http://amunc.net/; http://www.brizmun.org/) could be simulated in the classroom or as a whole-school event with representatives from different classes

Appropriation: Meaningfully sampling and remixing media content

Sampling and remixing existing media content is a major aspect of participatory culture, which may be difficult to accept for educators who emphasise the importance of original, autonomous work. However, Jenkins et al (2006, p. 32-33) point out that all forms of creative expression build on previous works in some way. The main difference is that it’s now so much easier thanks to digitisation and accessibility, which only strengthens the need to discuss the ethical and legal considerations involved in sampling and remixing. Jenkins et al (2006, p. 33) explains that appropriation or sampling provides scaffolding for beginners, allowing them to focus on a few original aspects until they gain the confidence and skills to create their own work. Intelligent appropriation or transformation actually demonstrates analysis and understanding of the content as they take it apart and put it back together.

ESL or English teachers could encourage students to “dissect, transform, sample, or remix existing cultural materials” (Jenkins et al, 2006, p. 33), such as:

  • Adaptations from one media format to another
  • Adaptations from one genre to another (eg. essay to debate; CV to application letter; letter of complaint to review)
  • Modern adaptations of historical stories and literature, such as Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet or The Great Gatsby (see my group member Kate G’s blog post about this)
  • Fractured fairy tales
  • Fan fiction (http://www.fanfiction.net/ could be useful)

Part 2 coming soon…


Jenkins, J, Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A.J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved from http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF

More Information:

Project New Media Literacies: Learning in a Participatory Culture     http://www.newmedialiteracies.org/

Teachers’ Strategy Guides     http://www.newmedialiteracies.org/teachers-strategy-guide/

Project PLAY (Participatory Culture and You)     http://playnml.wikispaces.com/PLAY!

Project New Media Literacies. (2008). The new media literacies [YouTube clip]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEHcGAsnBZE

Share: ‘How Three Different Generations Use The Internet’ Infographic

I found this great infographic, together with an article by Katie Lepi, on the Edudemic website. I thought it fit in well with the title of my blog, Bridging the Generation Gap. Which generation are you in, and would you agree with the trends it shows?

I’m towards the end of Generation X and I obviously use the internet but I’ve never posted a video of myself. I use Facebook but only for about 5-10 minutes a day. I have a landline but I’ve thought about getting rid of it because my in-laws are basically the only people who ever call us on it. I use my mobile phone much more for texting than calling people. I watch about an hour or two of TV a day but I’m a bit disappointed by the quality of free-to-air TV at the moment. I either have the TV on in the background while I’m doing other things, or sit down and watch programs recorded on the Tivo when I have time. I’ve never been interested in video games, so I can’t understand how my husband can spend hours shooting aliens, although that’s mainly when I’m neglecting him by studying all the time. We watch the news almost every day, but it seems to be getting more and more repetitive and superficial as the TV channels fill their Australian content quota with infotainment and self-promotion of their own shows and products. I used to buy the newspaper on weekends but haven’t bothered lately because I rarely have time to read it all. I love reading fiction but I just don’t have time when I’m teaching and studying. I think that description makes me a fairly typical Gen-X, at least according to the data in this infographic.

Share: How 3 Different Generations Use The Internet by Edudemic


Lepi, Katie. (2013, September 14). How three different generations use the internet [Article & Infographic]. Edudemic. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/kids-of-the-past-vs-today-infographic/

New Design

Just in case you’re wondering, yes, you are on the right site. I’ve just changed the design theme of my blog – the Times New Roman in the Koi design was driving me crazy! I hope you like the new look.

Does communications technology really encourage communication?

As I’ve been teaching international students in their 20s while learning about Youth, Popular Culture and Texts, what’s struck me is that the differences between generations seem to be more about how young people are engaging in popular culture, rather than what they’re engaging with. The content may have changed, but we still have boy bands, pop music, teen soap operas and all of those things that have been traditionally associated with pop culture. The main difference is the technology used and the way young people participate in this culture.

More and more recently, I find myself talking about ‘kids these days,’ a phrase that I never imagined that I’d be using in my mid-30s. Listening to my parents and other older people complain about the younger generation, particularly the perceived deterioration in pop culture, I always wondered whether we all inevitably reach a certain age when we begin to nostalgically treasure everything from our own youth and criticise anything new. Perhaps with the rapid pace of technological and societal change, we can no longer view a generation as a 15 year period. To be honest, I’m glad that I’m part of the generation that grew up without much of this technology, so we picked up the technological skills (some of them, at least) while realising that it’s possible to live without technology.

In particular, I find myself wondering why I’m so disconcerted by young people’s reliance on mobile phones and other forms of technology. During the breaks between classes, my 20-something international students sit around, staring at their mobile phones, with little interaction or communication with each other. They’ve come all the way to Australia and have the opportunity to talk to so many different people, yet they don’t. Why?

Texting Home After Nearly 2 Hours Away by Simon Bramwell (Flickr image, CC BY 2.0, retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/sbramwell/4831831137/)

Texting Home After Nearly 2 Hours Away by Simon Bramwell (Flickr image, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/sbramwell/4831831137/)

Firstly, I think young people often use their phones as security blankets. Instead of having to make small talk and risk uncomfortable silences, the pressure’s taken off when they at least appear to be using their phones. For Generation X (like myself) and the older generation, it seems a bit rude and antisocial to use your mobile phone when you’re with other people, but many young people don’t see anything wrong with it. In her TED Talk Connected But Alone, Sherry Turkle (2012) explains that people want to spend time together but keep each other at a distance, in amounts they can control, which she calls the Goldilocks effect. She argues that “we’re designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.” By using their mobile phones in these situations, young people can maintain that distance while remaining close enough to have the option of engagement and communication. This might be acceptable if they’re with people from their own generation, but there are plenty of situations in which we need to be able to make small talk, such as mingling and networking with clients at business events. Are young people learning the necessary social and communication skills?

Secondly, there’s an increasing need to feel connected and keep up with the fast pace of information being distributed through the internet and social networking in particular. This would naturally be stronger among young people living abroad, like my students, but I managed to survive several years in Japan in the late 90s without any of this communications technology. In fact, I think I would’ve felt more homesick if I’d been constantly in touch with people at home. The difference is that young people are so used to always being connected that they constantly feel the need to check their phones or computers.

Turkle (2012) explains that people want to spend time together, but at the same time they also want to be connected to all the different places they want to be. The question is whether it’s possible to be in many places and devote your attention to many things at the same time. By engaging with their phones, young people are disengaging from the people right in front of them. Are all those little chunks of connection via phone or internet really worth sacrificing these opportunities for face-to-face communication? In real life, we have to pay attention to the boring bits. Are we raising a generation that simply tunes out if it’s not all about them and their own interests? If so, will employers just have to accept that they’ll never have their employees’ full attention?

Turkle (2012) argues that our mobile phones “are changing our minds and hearts because they offer us three gratifying fantasies. One, that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; two, that we will always be heard; and three, that we will never have to be alone.” Many people aren’t used to being alone with their thoughts and feelings, so they feel isolated and try to solve the problem by reaching for technology, but Turkle (2012) believes that this attempt at connection is more like a symptom than a cure. In her opinion, solitude and self-reflection are important and we need to teach children how to be alone and entertain themselves. Most importantly, we also need to make time for real conversations.

I think that mobile phones and other forms of technology have transformed our lives in many positive ways which cannot be ignored. However, I can’t help contemplating the question I posed as the title of this post: Does communications technology really encourage communication? What do you think?


Turkle, S. (2012). Connected, but alone? [Video file]. TED 2012. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together.html

Other work by Sherry Turkle:

Turkle, S. (2010). Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. Retrieved from http://alonetogetherbook.com/

Turkle, S. (2012, April 21). The flight from conversation. New York Times Sunday Review: The Opinion Pages. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/the-flight-from-conversation.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Pinterest Board – What’s Popular?

Here is a link to a Pinterest board I created to show what’s popular among the Year 10 students I surveyed recently. The survey showed that the teenagers have a variety of interests, which makes it difficult to generalise about what’s popular with ‘kids these days.’ However, these pins give some insight into the diversity of popular culture that these young people engage with. I tried to focus on forms of popular culture that several students mentioned, or those that adults might be less familiar with. I created original pins (until Pinterest wouldn’t let me add more) with a brief description on each one to explain what these popular things are and why they’re popular. For more information, have a look at my Pop Culture Survey and Pop Culture Survey – Extra Information and Links posts.

Pop Culture Survey

Sixteen Year 10 students at a co-educational private school in Brisbane were surveyed about popular culture. Several students gave very detailed responses to the questions, which provided some insight into the role of popular culture in their lives. The majority of the students gave shorter, less detailed answers, which can be compared to highlight overall trends among this sample group of teenagers.

1. What kind of TV shows do you watch? Why do you like them?

The word cloud below shows the TV shows and genres that students watch. Some students listed many TV shows, while others listed very few. Two students reported watching little or no television.

The students were asked why they liked these TV shows or genres. Most gave short answers with little explanation, but the most common answer was because they were funny (7 students) or because the students were interested in the topic or genre (3 students). Others said they watched the shows because they were bored or too lazy to change the channel.

Week 10 blog post - TV shows Wordle

Original word cloud created using Wordle (www.wordle.net)

2. What kind of books or magazines do you read? Why do you like them?

Six out of the sixteen students said they don’t read any books or magazines. At the other end of the spectrum, several students said they love reading and read a variety of types of books. One student (Student A) said she enjoys reading fan fictions because they “are free, don’t take a lot of time to read and sometimes have beautiful writing,” but she also likes fantasy because it “is more immersive.” Another student (Student B), who doesn’t watch TV, prefers news articles because they’re “interesting, worthwhile and informative.” The word cloud below shows the books and magazines that the students reported reading.

Week 10 blog post - Books Wordle

Original word cloud created using Wordle (www.wordle.net)

3. Do you read more on paper or on screen? Why?

As shown in the pie chart below, the majority (12) of the students spent more time reading on screens such as computers and iPads, most explaining that it was easier and more convenient. One student (Student C) said that paper was boring. In contrast, three students preferred books, saying they were “lovely” (Student D), while another (Student E) said that we need to save bookstores. One student (Student F) said that she reads a lot on both mediums, but probably reads more on paper and loves any excuse to go into a bookstore.

Week 10 blog post - Q3 pie chart

Pie chart created in Microsoft Word

4. Is social media important to you?

Most (12) of the students said that social media was important to them, so they use it regularly. Four students didn’t regard it as important, but three of these students still use some social media such as Facebook. Only one student said she didn’t use any social media.

Week 10 blog post - Q4 pie chart

Pie chart created in Microsoft Word

5. Which social media and websites do you use regularly? Why?

The word cloud below shows the websites and social media that students reported using regularly, most of which involve social media or Web 2.0 technology. The majority of students (12) use Facebook every day to talk to people and stay updated. The second most popular Internet application was Instagram, used regularly by 7 students. YouTube was also popular (5 students), as well as Tumblr (4 students). Ask.fm is used by 3 students and the school has reportedly had problems controlling students’ access to this popular site.

Week 10 blog post - Q5 wordle 5

Original word cloud created using Wordle (www.wordle.net)

More information about these sites can be found in the post Pop Culture Survey – Extra Information and Links.

Most students didn’t give detailed reasons why they use the sites. One student (Student G) said he was addicted to social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Askfm, YouTube and Dragonvale. Another (Student H) said that websites like Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat and Megashare keep her entertained for hours. Student F also mentioned the entertaining nature of Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Kik, Wattpad and fan fiction sites, adding that she uses social media to speak to people that she doesn’t see at school. Student A is passionate about art, so she posts her artwork and looks at others on Deviantart, and Tumblr also has a wide range of art sources.

6. What kind of videos do you watch online? Why?

Only three students said they weren’t interested in online videos. Students’ responses to this question varied. The most popular types of online videos were music videos (4 students), anime/cartoons/manga (4 students), and ‘fails’ or ‘fail compilations’ (3 students). Two students watched gaming videos. Other responses include pranks, comedy, vlogs, movie trailers, beauty videos and wakeboarding videos. Few reasons were given for students’ preferences; most said they watched these online videos because they were fun or entertaining.

Week 10 blog post - Q6

Original word cloud created using Wordle (www.wordle.net)

More information about some of these videos can be found in the post Pop Culture Survey – Extra Information and Links.

7. What kind of things do you share online? Who do you share them with?

Only three students said they don’t share anything online. The majority of students (7) share photographs, while videos (3), reviews (2) and blogs (2) are also common. Most students (7) share this content with their friends on social media. Two students said they share with anyone, and two others said they share with their followers, but it’s unclear how personal the nature of the shared content is. One student (Student A) has an account for the sole purpose of sharing art, fan fiction and content related to art. Another student (Student F) shares photos, blogs, reviews, stories and poetry with her followers and anyone who wants to view them.

8. Do your friends have the same interests as you?

Half of the students said that their friends shared the same (6 students), or mostly the same (2 students), interests. In contrast, three students said they didn’t have the same interests as their friends, and one said they didn’t really have common interests. Four students made comments such as “in some ways” (Student I), “on some things” (Student H), “kind of” (Student J), or “half and half” (Student A).

Week 10 blog post - Q8 pie chart

Pie chart created in Microsoft Word

9. Do you care about what’s popular? Why or why not?

Half of the students (8 students) said they don’t care about what’s popular, while three students answered yes to this question. The other five responses were “half and half” (Student C), “only with some things” (Student H), “kind of” (Student G), “a bit” (Student K), and “not really” (Student A). One student (Student L) said she cares because it’s good to know what’s popular, but she adds that she doesn’t like “mainstream stuff,” although she mentions Keeping up with the Kardashians and One Direction in her answers to other questions.

Although few students explained why they care about popular culture, several students explained why they don’t care about what’s popular. Student A said, “If it’s popular then fair enough, but I will love whatever I find interesting. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s popular or not.” Student F makes similar comments, saying: “I care more about what I like than what other people like.” Student I says she doesn’t like the trends that become popular – they are often overrated. Student B said, “It isn’t important and it’s irrelevant to everyday life and what matters.”

Week 10 blog post - Q9 2

Pie chart created in Microsoft Word

10. What was the last thing that you were a huge fan of? Why did you like it so much? How did you show you were a fan?


  • Klaus (played by Joseph Morgan) from The Originals, a spinoff of the Vampire Diaries (IMDB profile of the TV series: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2632424/). Student E didn’t really give a reason why she liked the character and the series, but she said she watches it every chance she gets and talks about it.
  • The Walking Dead (Official site: http://www.amctv.com/shows/the-walking-dead; IMDB http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1520211/): A TV series about a world overrun by zombies. Student M only said he liked it for the action and showed his enthusiasm on Facebook and by talking about it.


  • Lupe Fiasco (http://www.lupefiasco.com/): Student B said Lupe Fiasco was interesting and thought-provoking, so he bought his albums.
  • All Time Low (http://www.alltimelow.com/, https://www.facebook.com/alltimelow): An American pop punk band. Student F said she loves their music and can relate to it. She shows she’s a fan of them by following all of their social media accounts, listening to their music, buying their merchandise and displaying their posters in her room.
  • One Direction: Two students said they used to be fans of One Direction, but one of them was probably joking. Student L said that she liked them because they are attractive and good guys.
  • Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus: Student H said she liked this song and listened to it on her phone, but had no clue why.


  • League of Legends (http://beta.na.leagueoflegends.com/): A fast-paced, competitive online multi-player game in which teams of champions battle head-to-head across multiple battlefields and game modes. Student D said he liked it because it was addictive and challenging, and he supported both the company and the team.
  • Team Fortress 2 (http://www.teamfortress.com/): A team-based first-person shooter single or multi-player video game, in which two teams battle in a variety of game modes set in different environments or maps, often with a factory-warehouse theme. It’s available for various platforms such as Xbox 360 and PlayStation. Student A said the game itself looks amazing and the company (Valve) produces quality content. She also said the fan base is friendly and full of amazing artists, so she produces her own fan art and fictions and actively participates in the online community.
  • Clash of Clans (http://www.supercell.net/games/view/clash-of-clans): An iOS multi-player strategy video game in which players build a village, train troops and attack others and defend their community. It is a freemium app, which means that the app is free but players can spend real money to advance faster in the game. Two students said they were fans because it was “awesome” (Student N) and “amazing” (Student J).

Online videos:


  • Nick Davies (wakeboarder): The same student who mentioned wakeboarding several times (Student P) said he likes wakeboarder Nick Davies and follows him on Facebook because “he is awesome.”

11. What do you consider to be the most popular thing right now? Why do you think it’s so popular?

  • Miley Cyrus: “because she is causing a stir” (Student B); “the new Miley Cyrus because she is different” (Student E); criticising Miley Cyrus “because she’s so out there and sexual, even with 12 year old fans” (Student H). [Note: This survey was conducted just a few weeks after the Miley Cyrus VMA twerking controversy.]
  • “Probably a boy band, I wouldn’t know. Young teenagers (girls) love boys singing about how beautiful they are, unfortunately” (Student A).
  • PewDiePie “because he has the most subscribers on YouTube” (Student L).
  • Candy Crush (game) “because it’s addictive” (Student F).
  • Facebook and Vine (https://vine.co/ – a mobile app owned by Twitter that allows users to create and post short video clips) because they’re “funny social media” (Student M), yet it’s interesting that Vine wasn’t mentioned by this student or any others in the questions about internet and social media use.
  • Certain fashion trends “because when a few people get into it, you are not ‘cool’ unless you do too” (Student I).
  • Working out at the gym because “people like to look big” (Student P).

12. What kind of TV shows, books or movies would you like to see more of? Why?

The word cloud below shows many similar titles and genres to those mentioned as responses to earlier questions, showing that most students want to see more of their favourite programs and forms of entertainment. Few students gave reasons for their answers, but Student F said she’d like to see more fan fictions because they’re unheard of to most people. Student I would like to see more fantasy because “it’s fun and interesting to read about a world that doesn’t exist.” The most insightful, original answer came from Student A, who said she “would like to see more that encompass unpopular lifestyles or people (eg. feminist, LBGTQ, African-American, etc.) because it’s not popular amongst producers and writers and has a lot of potential to be an interesting topic in today’s society.”

Week 10 blog post - Q12

Original word cloud created using Wordle (www.wordle.net)

So what does all this mean?

This survey has shown that there’s no one form of popular culture among young people. The sixteen students surveyed showed both similarities and differences in their preferences for various types of popular culture. Many of the students who said they cared about popular culture and followed trends seemed less willing or able to explain why they engaged with these forms of pop culture in any detail beyond general statements like “it’s funny” or “awesome.” On the other hand, students who tended to follow their specific interests without worrying about what’s popular were more willing or able to explain what they gained from these experiences. This might show that they’ve made a conscious decision not to follow the crowd and can justify their choices, whereas those who follow the crowd do so out of interest but also peer influence. As interesting as this is, I think it was the same when I was at school. What do you think?


Pop Culture Survey conducted in a Year 10 class at a private school in Brisbane, September 17, 2013.

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