Publication Details

Fitzsimmons, P. R. & McKenzie, B. (2007). The new symbolic space: the use of popular culture as tools of engagement. 3rd Global Conference: Creative Engagements: Thinking with Children (pp. 1-10). Sydney: Inter-Disciplinary.Net Publications.


This paper will argue that young children are rapidly becoming the ‘new rich’ in regard to engaging with, understanding and exploiting the many forms of popular culture found in Australian society. While politicians, teachers and administrators argue and debate ‘skill acquisition’ and mastery over conventions, we will argue that children are tending to ignore school based texts and are engaging in reading texts that represent a ‘new interiorisation’ of cultural understanding and are using a new set of associated reading skills. At the turn of the new millennium Brockmeier predicted that reading as a skills based approach is only the entrée to what he termed literacy as ‘symbolic space’ and that a new approach was needed. We believe that children are now ahead of teachers in terms of accessing this approach and in many instances teachers have missed the boat altogether. In this presentation we aim to demonstrate and discuss the nature and elements of what Olsen and Torrance have termed the new ‘societal literacy’ and the nature of the engagement with popular culture and ‘community based texts’.

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