Using the Harlem Shake as a teachable moment

In the middle of last year in an attempt to kids enthused about learning about Korean I showed my kids a music video by a Korean singer called Psy by the end of the year every kid in the school had heard the song.

That song was Gangnam Style.

Through dumb luck my students knew before the song went viral that Gangman is suburb in Seoul and that  there is more to Korea than a guy pretending to ride a horse but I knew that wouldn’t always be the case.

And sure enough the latest internet meme struck in February, the Harlem Shake.

Where is Harlem?

How do the people in Harlem feel about the meme?

I posed those questions to the class and then challenged them to find out. I didn’t even know Harlem was a place one of the students remarked.

Sometimes we don’t know how much we don’t know.

As teachers we make a choice. Sure we might roll our eyeballs at some of the crazy internet fads that seemingly come and go with ever increasing frequency . We might even have a go by participating in the memes as a fun project to do on a Friday afternoon.  But surely we need to start teaching our kids to be critical of those memes as well?

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