Return of the Richmeister

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Although pop culture references and YouTube videos can be excellent engagement techniques, beware the outdated reference. Joking about the Richmeister or Richinator will be hilarious for those 35 and older, but it may fall flat on younger audiences.

If you are like me, teaching the same topic over the course of years has probably resulted in some comedy gold that makes them laugh every time… or at least it did when your audiences were older and you were younger. Seinfeld, Austin Powers, Saturday Night Live sketches from the 90s… they all have had a place in my curriculum. OK… maybe many of them still do.

Truth is, I am entertained by those references. It gives me joy to say “Liquid Hot Magma” or “That’s a big motza ball Jerry”. Recently I have found myself explaining more and more of my references as students and new staff members get younger and younger. The 80s music I play during breaks gets responses like “my mom LOVES that song”, or “Who is Fleetwood Mac?”. As the blank stares have increased, I must begrudgingly acknowledge that it is not, after all, about me.

At DREAM this week, one of the participants in a session I was in tried to explain what all of her young students were ‘Tweeking’ about. Her mistake caused awkward smiles in the room, but I had an epiphany that this could be me in 20 years without some intervention. Some steps I have taken to ‘modernize’ my references:

  • I have opened a Twitter account. I don’t tweet much… but just being out there has broadened my horizons.
  • I pay attention to what’s ‘trending’
  • I watched the “slope style” events at the Olympics
  • I even force myself to listen to WIXX in the morning sometimes to stay current

I have noticed that the younger staff I engage with appreciate the updated references. I guess it is all about meeting our students and staff where they are. Some other great ideas to integrate Pop Culture into the classroom can be found HERE.

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