I found Wong and Henriksen’s article on ideas as fashion very interesting and most of it rang true to me. I will admit I was a little distracted by the heavy focus they placed on anticipating opposition or rejection of their ideas. I’m only mentioning this up front, because I didn’t find much to disagree with in their article. I also think that as time goes by (the article was first published in 2008) there will be less and less rejection of the notion that popular culture and popular media can facilitate education.
To me there is no question that an important element of the delivery of teaching and knowledge is how it is presented. Today there is an ever-increasing array of tools and technologies at our disposal to make learning content engaging, interactive and to communicate it effectively. The author’s said “educators have much to learn from those who have a highly sophisticated appreciation for the aesthetic qualities of powerful experiences” (2008).
The authors frame the idea of fashion as something that people experience and find absorbing (2008). And they explain that using knowledge of how this works could help teachers create more engaging experiences that help their students learn (2008). The article goes on to explain that such engaging experiences become compelling when the audience is afforded a level of interaction. This notion of learning through experience is something that aligns strongly with my personal vision of effective teaching. I really do think, in order for learners to get the most out of a ‘lesson’ they need to have a chance to experience and apply the ideas in a context that is interesting and applicable to the world in which they live. The authors described this as having students ‘try out’ and ‘try on’ ideas and concepts to gain a fuller understanding (2008).
To me, it wasn’t a big leap when the authors made the connection between shopping and learning. I agree there are many negative perceptions of shopping as a mindless, consumerist activity. However, I appreciate the positive notions about shopping presented (testing things out, evaluating, critically analyzing, imagining the object in novel settings etc…) and the connection to effective learning. The authors (2008) wrote that in some contexts shopping can be an “experience filled with imagination, anticipation, inquiry and reflection”.
A sentence in the conclusion of this article resonated with me: “…educators themselves must first believe that these ideas are genuinely cool”. To me this means the person who is selling has to believe in their ‘product’ in order to sell it effectively. In my experience, the best teachers I’ve had (and the ones I’ve learned the most from, and whose lessons are still with me today) were the ones who were totally into to what they were teaching and thought it was the coolest stuff ever.