Cover of book RuPedagogies in collage style with text title and authors names, on purple background with purple ribbon

Reading RuPedagogies of Realness

Anything can inspire our teaching, including our favourite TV shows. I was positively dazzled when a dear friend shared a link to a teaching and learning tome I never knew I needed – RuPedagogies of Realness (Bryde & Mayberry 2021). It is officially on my Christmas list and I can’t wait to read it in full once it’s back in stock! A sneak peak on google books allows access to the first hundred pages. Readers who are fans of puns will like this book. You have been warned!

Without yet having a complete gander through the book, I was still interested in how the authors of this edited volume got around to lifting pedagogy from episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race show. A dive into the table of contents showcases some familiar terms: co-productive learning, social construction, curated culture, televised curriculum, performing indigeneity, queer pedagogies, comedy as pedagogy, communities of care, and supporting learners. It is certainly a novel way to connect pedagogy to popular culture, all with a smattering of classic Drag Race catch phrases. The volume even won the public vote for Oddest Book Title of the Year, part of the tongue-in-cheek Bookseller/Diagram Prize (Guardian 2022).

This concept is what a lot of us regularly do in our teaching without even noticing – getting inspired by the world around us, including pop culture. You can see it how you might use contemporary memes or references to TV shows to engage students in drier subjects. RuPedagogies isn’t just a clever portmanteau, it is a means of engaging with linguistics, health, racism and other issues by examining how the show serves as (flawed) teaching venue for its audience.

So what do we take away from all this? First, RuPedagogies is one of the freshest teaching and learning texts I’ve read in a while. That alone is just fun! Second, how this can inspire how we think about our own teaching practice. There is scope here to consider how we are influenced by the cultures around us, not just from the perspective of recognising our own bias, but how popular culture can influence how we frame pedagogy for ourselves and our learners. What popular culture book would you like to suggest? Please share your ideas (real or just for fun) in the comment box below!

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