New Module: Popular Culture in East Asia

As with all new jobs one of the main elements that causes, not a panic exactly but rather a pause for thought, is new module development. This year I will be starting up the new module Popular Culture in East Asia. This module is aimed at the second years and I am very much looking forward to it.

The format will be workshop based as I have a long and deep seated hatred of lecture/seminar approach when I find myself totally discounted for the class for one hour and then running out of time in the seminar sessions.  Talking with the students about the issues and academically debating them as a group is clearly much more interesting that standing there and talking at them in my opinion. Still, maybe I have been lucky and always had some good and interesting students in my classes….

So we have a two hour workshop each week. Now what to fill them with….This module I am toying with using this blog as public forum for self-reflexivity about my aims and ambitions as a educator and the successes and failures that accompany any teaching experience.

Firstly, curriculum design. With such a wide topic this is a challenge in many ways. What to include, what not to include, my personal loves and hates vs. the field of study and, of course, the fact that the students on average are 15 years younger that me and their notion of popular culture is, well,to be frank,  slightly more up-to-date than mine.  Take a week on stardom – I love with an overwhelming passion Tony Leung-Chiu-wai 梁朝偉. I always have and always will but to the 18 year old student he is an old man. They prefer the youthful (in my mind, baby face and bland) fresh young visages of various K-Pop bands.  The last ‘boy’ band I really listened too was SMAP and they started in 1988 and have recently disbanded with the average age of the band member somewhere in the early to mid 40’s. So a bit of a disjuncture there….




Secondly, this is a School of East Asian Studies, not media department. This mean that theoretical frameworks are more of a challenge, and, often the wider linguistic and cultural knowledge the students have is not matched by media knowledge and experiences.

Thirdly, the endless worry of assessment. How to assess – essay, exam, blog posts? Does the assessment match learning outcomes? What about the student with dyslexia? Have I unnecessarily challenged the student who English is little shaky? I am dyslexic i HATE exams with a passion, yet, this schools policy is we much have a percentage (at least 50% as an exam). How to I write the exams scripts to help the students as much as I can but still test their academic standards.

So, in short a lot to thing about.

I will be posting on this more over the next few weeks so if you are interested, keep reading.


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