POPULAR CULTURE AND THE DEEP LEARNING PROCESS

At a general level, popular culture has a pedagogical aspect that “raises important questions regarding such issues as the relevance of everyday life, the importance of student voice, the significance of both meaning and pleasure in the learning process, and the relationship between knowledge and power in the curriculum” (Giroux and Simon, 1988). Furthermore, popular culture helps understand the world around us and construct our identities (Williams, 2012). It provides us with stories, examples, anecdotes, symbols, characters, voices, and landscapes to connect to the world and make sense of it. Popular culture also gives visibility to many people located at society’s margins, who have traditionally been excluded from higher education. It legitimates and transmits the language, codes, and values ofnon-elite gr oups. We identify with popular culture stories, as they reflect our experiences and beliefs. And at the same time, popular culture stories contribute to define our own experiences, values, and perspectives.

Despite its importance in everyday, social, and professional settings, popular culture has been relegated in educational organizations.

The dominant discourse, in short, devalues pedagogy as a form of cultural production and it likewise scours popular culture. Needless to say, while popular culture is generally ignored in the schools, it is not an insignificant force irr shaping how students view themselves arrd their own relations to various forms of pedagogy and learning. [...] Popular culture and pedagogy represent important terrains of cultural struggle which offer both subversive discourses and important theoretical elements through which it becomes possible to rethink as a viable and important form of cultural politics (Giroux and Simon, 1988).

Apart from all these general reasons, popular culture plays a very concrete role in helping advance the teaching and learning process. As will be discussed throughout the book, given the appropriate teacher’s intervention, popular culture can foster the activation of students’ cognitive structures and the development of intellectual skills at a level not always possible without recourse to popular culture (Chapter 2). It also facilitates the development and refinement of cognitive skills that are difficult to learn in traditional teaching and learning settings such as rapid cognitive process and strategies (Chapter 3). Popular culture provides a powerfill means to construct and negotiate knowledge (Chapter 2). It also constitutes an important tool to reflect about substantive aspects of academic disciplines such as law and criminal justice (Chapter 5). It helps students understand academic disciplines at a profound level, and it helps students become aware of their learning process (Chapter 7) and learning achievements (Chapter 8). It also helps motivate students intrinsically to engage in the learning process (Chapter 4). Additionally, popular culture helps define academic disciplines such as law and criminal justice (Chapter 5). It also shapes professional fields, including law and criminal justice, affecting the expectations of their professional agents and laypersons alike, the professional practice itself, and even the outcome of particular cases (Chapter 5). Furthermore, the production of popular culture provides a unique opportunity to improve professional practice (Chapter 6) and to move to the center of academic and professional communities (Chapter 2).

It becomes our responsibility, then, as educators, to prepare our students/citizens, to learn how to use, consume, and to have personal power over the media. Empowerment comes when we are able to read media and make informed decisions about what we have read (Reynolds, 2012).

THE DEEP LEARNING STORY AND ITS ELEMENTS

People think in terms of stories. They understand the world in terms of stories that they have already understood. New events or problems are understood by reference to old previously understood stories and explained to others by the use of stories. We understand personal problems and relationships between people through stories that typify those situations. We also understand just about everything else this way as well (Schank, 2000).

There are several layers of stories when it comes to the deep learning process. First, you can think of the deep learning process as a story itself. Second, the deep learning process contains several stories, mainly the input story, which is the central aspect of the process, and the existing stories, that are stored in the learners’ mind. Third, every aspect of the deep learning process is also understood and processed as a story.

I will use the story metaphor to discuss the deep learning process. The deep leanring story shares its basic organization with the narrative structure that predominates in popular culture stories. This structure consists of: (1) setup, which introduces the characters, settings, and background; (2) the conflict, which causes tension to the protagonist, creates a crisis, includes actions that the protagonist takes to deal with the conflict, and the protagonist’s interactions with others; and (3) the resolution of the coirflict, which resolves the crisis and restores balance to the protagonist’s life. The elements of the deep learning process are: (1) the input story that is, a problem, question, or situation within the learner’s zone of proximal development; (2) the story conflict, that is, the cognitive conflict and the series of higher order cognitive skills, competences, and processes that the learner engages with individually and collectively; and (3) the resolution of the conflict, i.e., both the conceptual change and the changes in or across academic and professional communities. Like good popular culture stories that do not end on the last page of the book or with the last frame of a film but that are interpreted and reflected upon by the reader or viewer, the deep learning process also includes an element of interpretation referred to as evaluation and metacognitive reflection (Table 2.1).

If any aspect of this complex process does not occur, or if, in other words, any of the elements are not present, students do not leant deeply. Their learning will be merely superficial. They will be unable to remember, transfer, and apply what they learn to new activities and situations.

 
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