Email Status

Volume 16, Number 4
July/August 2000

Shakespeare vs. Teletubbies

Is There a Role for Pop Culture in the Classroom?


What was that mysterious place where human skulls stared at passersby through the plate-glass window? Mary and Gloria Navarro asked themselves that question each day as they walked by a shop called "Mama Roots" on Adams Avenue in Normal Heights, a working-class section of San Diego. When the 10-year-old twin sisters joined an after-school program aimed at building literacy skills, it gave them a reason to find out about those skulls.

The girls interviewed the shop manager, John Lee, about magic and ghosts and witches. They then wrote a story about the shop and shared it with their classmates. After receiving suggestions to improve the piece, Mary and Gloria rewrote the story (see "View from the Classroom: Student Writers Hone Their Skills"). It turned out much better the second time, Mary says.

The Adams Avenue Newspaper Project teaches grade-school students to explore their community as if they were reporters. While journalism programs have long been used at the secondary-school level, studies show that they can also benefit the teaching and learning of younger students. Editing workshops that teach students to critique each other's work, special guest speakers from local media, and instruction in computerized newspaper design all help enrich the students' journalistic efforts.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

D. Buckingham and J. Sefton-Green. Cultural Studies Goes to School: Reading and Teaching Popular Media. London: Taylor & Francis, 1994.

R.P. Clark. Free to Write: A Journalist Teaches Young Writers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1987.

A.H. Dyson. Writing Superheroes: Contemporary Childhood, Popular Culture and Classroom Literacy. New York:Teachers College Press, 1997.

M. Gillespie. Television, Ethnicity and Cultural Change. New York: Routledge, 1995.

D. Graves. A Fresh Look at Writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1994.

P. McLure and T. Newkirk. Listening In: Children Talk about Books (and Other Things). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1994.

E. Seiter. Television and New Media Audiences. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.