What are the key arguments for integrating popular culture in literacy education? What issues does this integration raise for literacy education?
Children today are growing up in a digital world where their surrounding environments are rich with popular culture, leading teachers to reconsider and respond to new pedagogies for teaching literacy in the classroom (Beavis, 2012; Hall, 2011; Petrone, 2013; Walsh, 2010).
Literacy in the 21st century is multidimensional with Giroux arguing “Teaching and learning the culture of the book is no longer the staple of what it means to be literate” (Arthur, 2001, p.183).
Literacy is used for many purposes across a range of socio-cultural contexts bringing meaning to texts, words and images (ACARA, 2011; Fellowes & Oakley, 2010). Socio-cultural theorist Vygotsky highlights the role of socio-cultural contexts and interactions in children’s learning, stating that children learn literacy through every day social interactions in which they take part such as, viewing and critiquing television programs, playing video games, playing sport and going shopping (Arthur, 2001; Christie, Enz, Vukelich & Roskos, 2013; Hill, 2012). Through these interactions children are developing a wide range of skills, knowledge and understanding from the surrounding popular culture that embraces their interests, while also promoting engagement in areas of literacy such as reading, talking, writing and responding to texts. (Beavis, 2012; Hall, 2011; Lotherington, 2003; Walsh, 2010).
Research studies have found that popular culture can and has been successfully and effectively used in schools, giving diverse classrooms more opportunities to engage in critical thinking through common understandings and connections to everyday life (Arthur, 2001; Hall; 2011; Hill, 2012; Lotherington, 2003).
Popular culture can be used to promote critical literacy by viewing controversial subjects such as gender stereotyping, racism and narrow world views, opening opportunities for children to develop as literate individuals and make meaning by critically analysing, questioning and deconstructing texts through multiple perspectives (ACARA, 2011; Arthur, 2001; Fellowes & Oakley, 2010; Hall, 2011).
The Australian curriculum recognises the necessity and inclusion of multiple literacies and texts as key features of critical literacy for children to become critical and capable learners across a range of purposeful contexts (ACARA, 2011; Arthur, 2001; Fellowes & Oakley, 2010).
Teachers can use popular culture in the classroom as a gateway to plan lessons with a holistic approach by recognising children’s popular culture interests, funds of knowledge and literacy skills and transferring these understandings to engagement with academic texts allowing children to make sense of print and take power in their world of learning (ACARA, 2011; Arthur, 2001; Hill, 2012; Petrone, 2013; Walsh, 2010).
Popular culture is portrayed through children’s play and...