Recently on a visit to see my parents, my mother asked me about those shimmering strands on my brunette head. Yes, I have a few silvery hairs that I believe that in the right light they look blonde. Still, true to my thirty-something years where I have never dyed or colored my hair, I will go gray gracefully and not such a single piece.
But, it was a few years back (before the grays) when I finally realized I wasn’t as connected with popular culture as I once was just by being a young teacher. Yet I’m also confessing that I’ve never been “one” with popular culture. I grew up listening to country music, technically lived in the country rather than the suburbia that made up my school district, didn’t like the clubs, and I usually could never tell you the names of celebrities or sports figures when asked. Plus, my own kids are still in elementary school. I use things like the urban dictionary and what’s trending and popular on YouTube to help a bit, but I want to focus instead on contemporary culture versus history, specifically 9/11.
At this point, any kid in high school (remind you I work in a high school library) would have been no more than a few years old, if not yet conceived, when the September 11th attacks occurred. So any book published about it and even Hurricane Katrina (2005) is considered historical fiction. This discovery a few years back was a game-changer for me. My experiences are no longer their experiences too: Generation Z are digital natives, while my group, the millennials, had technology but not as much social connectivity using it.
Clothing and hairstyle fads along with slang and music will always move fluidly, so I can never truly count on these as measurements of popular culture, but I think the idea of experiences connected to historical events is. Because former president Barack Obama was in office for two terms so most high school students haven’t known another president until now- they haven’t had to. Because our phones are digital, more students have a hard time using an analog clock (I won’t begin to explain how weird is was to explain how to use a rotary telephone to my friends when they visited when I was in elementary school). So the best thing to do moving forward it continue to adjust myself and thinking based on what I have experienced and what they have experienced to be able to connect rather than what they’re wearing and who they’re listening to