Make room, Socrates, for Lady Gaga and Beyoncé

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 4, 2012 - 10:52 AM

Using pop icons to study broader issues is part of an academic trend.

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Tuy1929Mar. 3, 12 7:33 PM

This is so depressing. Precious funding for education wasted on frivolous endeavors. What is the point St. Catherine's? Is this a recruiting tool, these "hip" classes? PLEASE -- to all colleges --- cut back on these crappy courses and save the students some money on their tuition. And while they are there, help them with some career objectives, we have enough Gaga experts already.

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kamkamMar. 3, 12 7:58 PM

Another example of the "dumb down." When pop culture replaces the classics, only surface thinking occurs. Superficial replaces depth.

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endothermMar. 3, 12 8:17 PM

I agree that it is important to study popular culture. It has a powerful influence on how people see the world, and it should thus be studied if we really want students to understand how the world works. That said, there are far more important things to study about popular culture than Lady Gaga. I find that celebrity courses like these are usually more about attracting students than about really giving them a serious grounding in things they need to know. Taking a couple of "fun" classes is fine, but silly courses like this are bad PR for an institution and generally give students a distorted understanding of what their education should be about. This partly grows out of the fact that schools now treat students more as consumers than as real students. They are paying big bucks, and they want to be entertained and they (and sometimes their parents) want good grades without really earning them. Colleges are afraid to push back hard against this consumerist trend because it can cost them the enrollments and the budget numbers they need to support their mission. Lady Gaga 101 is just a symptom of a bigger problem that won't get fixed anytime soon.

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raygunrevoltMar. 3, 12 8:52 PM

Another example of the bloat in higher education. There needs to be an overhaul of this system. Want to be an accountant? Strip out all of the other unnecessary electives and get it done much sooner and less costly. There's plenty of other outlets to learn about other things, ways of the world, etc. without having to be forced to pay for the excess that does nothing but try to justify some tenured academia ostrich.

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scubadudeMar. 3, 12 9:40 PM

"I think, kinda. Therefore I wear a meat suit and clown like make up to gain attention because the 'music' I record is mediocre at it's best." Socrates would be proud...

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ranger1873Mar. 3, 12 9:49 PM

Who teaches "Shut Up And Sing 101"?

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gofigerMar. 3, 1211:41 PM

Another group of students that will have high education bills and no marketable skills. I hope they enjoy their art history and modern culture degrees while searching for a job that doesn't exist.

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BobtheguyMar. 4, 12 9:22 AM

Well, I am pretty sure it was not important to study pop culture in the past 25 centuries, or so. The study of performance arts in some form or another has been important, even in Plato's time, but the study of the performers' philosophy seems a bit of a stretch. It is elevating the music video producer to the level of philosopher, which he or she is in a sense, but at the expense of removing the meat from education and replacing it with sugar. These classes would not have helped Einstein, Churchill or Bill Gates, or even Lenny Bruce, develop the great minds they applied to their craft.

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rosaroyMar. 4, 1210:16 AM

This is not a new phenomena. Twenty years ago, Madonna was a the subject of multiple dissertations and seminars focusing on cultural theory and gender studies. That said, lumping The Wire in with Gaga and Harry Potter seems a bit false. It is no stretch to see the Wire AS urban sociology, political science, education theory, social history, criminal justice, and media studies. The commentary and critique it offers on the challenges of stressed cities like Baltimore is deeper, more nuanced, and sharper than anything offered by the evening news or this newspaper. I will bet that none of the initial comments have ever seen The Wire.

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stanbobMar. 4, 1210:24 AM

and once they can't find jobs after graduation its time to "occupy wall street" to protest why they cant get jobs with their "marketable" skills.

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