Popular Pedagogy: An Unseen Barrier

Everday young people and adult allies struggling to change the world run into an unseen barrier. As we seek to partner, teach, educate and otherwise transform the lives of children and youth we stand against an unacknowledged, yet widely felt, force whose presence is pervasive. This force, this barrier is destructive to the point of absolute, and yet it is not commonly named by the fighters who struggle against it.
Its the ads on television that teach adults to see youth as fleeting, disgusting or regretful. Its the cartoons that teach children to disparage adults because of their age. Its the music that encourages alienation, the comic books that deny reality, the television shows that idolize ignorance and the movies that encapsulate culture as a stagnate reality. But its more than simply popular media. It includes the attitudes exuded by politicians, teachers, youth workers and youth themselves.
These are the forces that Henry Giroux calls “popular pedagogy,” which I will define as the forces that teach us, consciously or otherwise, throughout popular culture. Its more than theory, naming this gives us language to define, critically examine and struggle against these forces. This has helped me move beyond reducing the challenges facing youth. We have to see it, name it, call it out, and move it to the forefront. That’s popular pedagogy.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Published by Adam

For almost two decades, Adam F. C. Fletcher has led international outreach focused on engaging people successfully. Working with thousands of youth-serving nonprofits, K-12 schools, government agencies, international NGOs and other organizations around the world, his work spans the fields of education, public health, economic development and social services, and includes professional development, public speaking, publishing, social media and more. He founded the Freechild Institute for Youth Engagement, SoundOut and CommonAction, as well as writing more than 50 publications and 500 articles. He has also established 150-plus community empowerment projects.

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