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School doesn’t have to be about loading up on all the “fact bricks” of stuff that “needs to be Revolution in Franceknown.” It should be a place where we cultivate and nurture the intellectual curiosity of children and young people. That’s what happens when we encourage learners to make connections between popular culture, mass media and the rest of culture – history, the arts, politics, literature, science, medicine, public health and everything in between.

In this 15-minute speech, captured on video by my friends at CET, I consider the value of serendipitous discovery and the natural tendency for learners to make connections between ideas. If you’ll watch, you’ll see how Lady Gaga, the French Revolution, Korean Christianity, feminism and youth media are connected — thanks to an intellectual mini-adventure stimulated by the brilliant and talented teachers at YouTube’s History for Music Lovers. 

In my lifetime, I hope that school scope and sequence evaporates and becomes replaced by a networked, inquiry-oriented approach to learning that emphasizes lifelong learning processes instead of content. I continue to explore this pedagogy as a vital part of my own educational practice, with undergraduate and graduate students alike.

Digital and media literacy can stimulate people’s intellectual curiosity, at any age across the lifespan, by connecting classroom to culture.  As Edmund Burke has shown with his amazing documentary series, connections are everywhere.  It’s the process of asking critical questions about what you watch, see, listen to, and read that makes all the difference in the world.

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