How should you respond to pop-culture in the classroom?

As a classroom teacher, I am sure you will encounter casual, and potential pointed, conversations among students surrounding popular culture. How should the teacher respond (or not), how should the react to the worldly influences directing our students thinking. What role does the teacher play? How much do we address and what is best left to the parents and the church? What about things you hear from students that is likely being done behind the parents backs? How much should the Christian school teacher be educated with regards to pop culture references and the worldviews that may go along with the culture? How can we get students to seriously thing about the negative effects of the secular culture surrounding them?

Start with why
When you hear students talking about pop culture, why do you want to address or respond to it? Is it to help them, or to move your agenda forward? Will you be responding out of offense or concern? There are many times that students will be using terms and phrases in their conversations with fellow students that indicated what they are feeding on.

  • 5k
  • 76ers
  • American Eagle
  • color run
  • expendables
  • Go shawty
  • GTA
  • Greenday
  • grams
  • streaks
  • si
  • red solo cups
  • twerk
  • wrecking ball
  • what does the fox say
  • minions

What is your goal in addressing the references you pick up on in the conversations? If you think that you are going to solve the fascination with the secular world in your students, you better sit back. Chances are you will not help them if you approach them with a ‘fix the problem’ stance. Paul Tripp uses the analogy of building a house. Each tradesman puts a screw here and there to make a tight sound house. We don’t approach the building site with one big nail and one big hammer and “whack” – done! We each need to do a part and expect change, but not overnight, and not with one encounter, one devotional, or one rant to the class.

3 Approaches
There are several ways we can approach pop culture. John Stonestreet explains three possible approaches.

  1. Being offended by the pop culture
  2. Being distracted by the pop culture
  3. Being distressed by the pop culture

When we are offended we tend to withdraw – attempting to be neither in the world of the world. When we are distracted we tend to become like the culture, we forget about morality or take it all in ‘Christianize’ it, we become in and of the world. When we are distressed by the culture we can be like the apostle Paul in Acts 17, he was distressed to see the city full of idols, he reasoned with the people. Paul knew the word of God and the World of God, he showed us a way to be in the world, but not of the world.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

We need to approach these conversations in our classrooms with the right goal, the right mind, and the right framework. As you hear snippets of conversations in your classrooms and aren’t sure what is being talked about consider listening and doing some research. Start with some Google searching and consider these resources:

Consider Psalm 73

  1. v1-3 I envied the world
  2. v4-12 They are free from the troubles we face
  3. v13-15 My Bitter feelings
  4. v16-17 I found the answer in the Sanctuary
  5. v18-20 You will destroy them
  6. v21-28 You keep me near You, and that is what I need

And 6 quotes to end with:

“Any amount of theology can now be smuggled into people’s minds under the cover of fiction without their knowing it.” CS Lewis

“When our houses were of wood, our hearts were of gold; but when our houses became golden, our hearts became wooden.” – Hans de Ries

“Too many of us today have got it backwards: we worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.” – Unknown

“First art would imitate life, and then life would imitate art, and finally, that life would draw the very reason for its existence from art.” – Ravi Zacharis summarizing from Fyodor Dystoyesvky

“For the first time in recorded history there is no significant differences between the way the Christians and non-Christians live their lives and make decisions” – George Barna

“The most dangerous ideas in society are not the ones being argued, but the ones that are assumed.” – CS Lewis

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