Engaging Learners with Youth Culture


In our day-to-day lives as teachers—and as observers—we overhear snippets of our students’ conversations, talk that is often full of new buzzwords and phrases. We witness students check their text messages, comment on a photo on Instagram, and finish their Algebra homework—all at the same time. However, as teachers, we rarely get the opportunity to think deeply about our students’ engagement in social media, popular culture, and their specific ways of talking and being.

In this session, you will get exposure to theories of “youth culture," do a deep dive into a single instrument of youth culture (YouTube!), and get some ideas on how to integrate youth culture into your curriculum. At the end of the workshop, you will have the opportunity to further develop plans for using these elements of youth culture within your own context. Ultimately, we're going to invest in the idea that becoming attuned to the lifeworlds of young people can be a powerful tool for engagement in your classroom.

Essential Questions

This workshop is organized around three central areas of inquiry:

  • What is "youth culture"? Who are the "youth"?
  • How is YouTube a vehicle for young people's expression, connectivity, and engagement? How do students use it in their world?
  • How you can integrate elements from youth YouTubers into the classroom?

About the Facilitator

Cath Goulding is a former high school English teacher, researcher, and curriculum specialist. She has a doctorate in Curriculum & Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University and has worked for the Teachers College Inclusive Classrooms Project since 2011. Currently, she is a postdoctoral research fellow at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, where she studies public memory, the pedagogies of place and space, and translation of "difficult histories" into the K-12 curriculum. You can find more about her research and writing here and get in touch via goulding dot cathlin [at] gmail dot com.