Wong and Henricksen’s (2008) article is a provocative read that asks us to consider pedagogical approaches through a different paradigm than those that are usually presented, and which are based on well-established theories of learning that are grounded in traditional disciplines. The thrust of their article is to urge educators to consider using the psychological qualities of fashion that make the experience of fashion absorbing, as a paradigm through which to generate and increase engagement for learners, especially adolescents (Wong & Henricksen, 2008, p. 180).
While the idea is unique in terms of promoting engagement through popular culture, the principles that are extracted from the realm of fashion are similar to those promoted by more traditional paradigms of engagement. For example, the authors’ state that to fashion is to create and express and that fashion invokes the imagination and the consideration of the possible (Wong & Henricksen, 2008, p. 181). This works well with the principles of Engagement Theory that hold that activities should be creative and purposeful and that when students have the opportunity to define, organize and complete their own projects, they develop a sense of ownership of their work and of their learning (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1998).
Additionally, when discussing the impact and value of the Silhouettes advertisement campaign and the reasons that the advertisement is compelling, the authors state that there is a quality to it that sparks the imagination in the interaction between the advertisement and the audience. The ideas of interaction that help students transcend from where they are in terms of their learning to where they could get to with quality interactions, is very reminiscent of Vygotsky’s idea of the Zone of Proximal Development (Jennings, Surgenor, & McMahon, 2013).
Similarly, correspondence can be drawn between other areas of the authors work and the traditional areas of learning and teaching theory. While If Ideas were Fashion is interesting and provocative, in that, it sets out to chart a new paradigm, in my opinion, it essentially ends up relying on the very same traditional ideas, disciplines and principles it seeks to distance itself from.
Jennings,D., Surgenor, P., & McMahon, T. (2013). Education theory/constructivism and social constructivism in the classroom-UCD-CTAG.Ucdoer.ie. Retrieved from
Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1998). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Educational Technology, 38(5), 20.
Wong, D., & Henriksen, D. (2008). Mirror Images: Popular culture and education. Counterpoints, 338, 179-198.
Daraius M. Bharucha is a history educator and Department Head of History at Bill Crothers Secondary School. Daraius is also a student at UOIT in the M.Ed. in Digital Technology Program.