Ok folks stay with me on this one…it will make sense…
When I was younger I had a bad experience with two different dogs in one week. Slowly over time with more knowledge and remembering that I used to like dogs I rebuilt my confidence. Sometimes I think it is similar for people who aren’t confident around youth. We need to remember that at some stage in our lives we were youth and harness the memories to help the youth of today. Yes things are different for each generation but the range of emotions still ring true.
We can’t label all popular culture the same, just like we can’t label all youth the same. I personally like the comment by Stacy Takacs in the book Interrogating Popular Culture: Key Questions when she states “how is the work used by institutions and individuals to order social relations?” (Takacs, 2015, p. 8).
It reminds me of myself and my dogs.
My husband often reminds me that I was the one who had a list of requirements before we could get a dog. Once our first dog arrived it didn’t take me long to feel comfortable and some would describe me as a “crazy dog lady” now. We have four dogs, three cavaliers and a kelpie. On the human front I am now part of a dog owning culture but then I am also part of further subcultures related to dogs, the unusual sport group – flyball, a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, APDT (Australia), cavalier owners and kelpie owners and about to venture into the agility subculture. This is just the same for Youth. Yes they are part of the youth culture but as they explore their own identity they become involved in popular culture and youth related subcultures. Think of all the different groups we see each day within our schools, the Minecraft user culture, the K-Pop fans, Hunger Games fans and yes Whovians, just to name a few.
To me this is a clear blending of popular culture and identifying subcultures. With my dogs I can choose not to take much notice of them, disterested in their characters or provide no guidance or enrichment and then bemoan when they are dragging me down the street on a walk or not listening to instructions. Yet because of my involvement in obedience training and dog sports the picture is very different. Only yesterday I was complimented on how well our dogs were behaving when we were all sitting outside a coffee shop on the main street of our town, to which I replied a grateful thanks but at the same time that a lot of work goes into it. For our youth it is much the same, many will bemoan youth without trying to engage with them. I don’t mean we become involved in their worlds, rather we take the time to talk to them about what is popular with youth from a variety of outlooks and give them the opportunity to share with us, as adults, what they will enable us to know. It’s another way of creating cross-generational links. For me a classic example is Minecraft. I can see the educational worth and I understand that it creates a buzz in youth but I just don’t get how to play it myself. Yet I still love talking to the youth at my school about their Minecraft worlds what they are doing in them and the feelings about the recent updates. I can have these conversation with the students because I am honest with them about my Minecraft knowledge but that I am interested in what they are doing.
I love that the perception of youth and their popular culture does not go unnoticed by those writing for youth. For me a great example is a book I came across earlier this year, The Door to Where by Sally Gardner (Gardner, 2015). It firstly drew me in as it was a time slip novel but then it became clear that it was a social commentary on the perception of youth. It is in my books (pun intended) an amazing read. Yet when you learn some of the reasons why Sally Gardner wrote the book it is even more fantastic. Sally Gardner began to wonder about the way youth were being portrayed in the English media and then made a link to the humble beginnings of Charles Dickens and would he have become the well-known classic author that he is if he had been treated in the same way as youth in the media today (Shah, 2015). What a stand to take. Maybe the rest of us should do this style of thought process too and lets change the perceptions in the wider world related to youth and their cultures.
Gardner, S. (2015). The door that led to where. London: Hot Key Books.
Shah, S. (2015, May 19). Sally Gardner, author of the door that lead to where, answers ten terrifying questions. Retrieved from Booktopia – a book bloggers’ paradise – the No. 1 book blog for australia : http://blog.booktopia.com.au/2015/05/19/sally-gardner-author-of-the-door-that-lead-to-where-answers-ten-terrifying-questions/
Takacs, S. (2015). Interrogating popular culture: Key questions. New York: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9780203766583