When children Scratch do they enhance intercultural understanding?

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The article “Prosuming across Cultures: Youth Creating and Discussing Digital Media across Borders“, authored by QUT Senior Lecturer Dr Michael Dezuanni and MIT Media Lab Andres Monroy-Hernandez, helped me to understand how online community spaces can help youth to enhance intercultural understandings. Their study is about the popular Scratch community (over 3.5 million registered users, hundreds of different nationalities). The site is designed for children aged 8 to 16 to create games, movies, art, music and interactions. Dezuanni and Minroy-Hernadez query if this community assists to promote tolerance and understanding between users from different countries.

During a ‘Relief’  teaching day at a Gold Coast primary school, I recently observed Year 5 students using Scratch to create animations. My initial opinion was that it looked like a great way for children to learn the basics of programming and have fun creating digital media. Dezuanni and Monroy-Hernandez study shows that it is much more than this. Their qualitative analysis of community discussions analyses the types of interaction that takes place. They share examples of the typical conversations Scratchers have about their countries, home cities and topics about local food and customs.

The findings show that tolerance of ‘others’ can be increased when the notion of ‘others’ is discouraged. Scratch facilitates this by: placing standards of communication for tolerance; utilizing moderators that assist to uphold these standards; and allowing opportunities for the children to uphold these norms themselves. The authors conclude: the norms of tolerance and diversity established within the community by its moderators makes it more likely that these values will be accepted and defended by community members” (Dezuanni and Minroy-Hernadez. 2012).

Are the students you know using Scratch or a similar digital environment? What is your opinion of unfair portrayals of people and cultural “othering” by users of digital media? Please leave a comment, your opinion is welcomed here.



Dezuanni, M., & Monroy-Hernandez, A. (2012). «Prosuming» across cultures: Youth creating and discussing digital media across Borders/«Prosumidores interculturales»: Creación de medios digitales globales entre jóvenes. Comunicar, 19(38), 59-66. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1112903187?accountid=13380


Is boxing the new international language of happiness?

Photographer : Glenn Shieles. Copyright Owner Barbera Rizzeto (Used with permission).

K.A.P.O.W. Boxing, Gold Coast, Australia -18 Aug 2014 Photographer: Glenn Shieles. Copyright Owner: Barbera Rizzeto (Used with permission).


This is the first post, so please allow me a moment to introduce myself. My name is Tony Szymkowski. I have a passion for surfing, teaching and boxing. Currently I am studying to complete my Masters of Education – Teacher Librarianship, at the Queensland University of Technology. I work part-time as a teacher and full-time as a boxing /kickboxing coach. My dream is to become a qualified librarian.

Two nights ago, new guests arrived at my gym – K.A.P.O.W. Boxing, at Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Australia. The guests trained really hard, pounding the boxing bags, skipping and learning to dodge punches. The visitors were from England, Japan, Thailand, Brazil and Columbia. They were so happy at the end of the workout. They stayed another thirty minutes after the session, laughing and chatting to each other about the experience. Their happiness was so evident and it had me considering “ Is boxing the new international language of happiness?” That night, I slept on the question.

The next morning I woke with the answer …”No, it probably is not”… So what had really happened? The guests had found an interest they all loved and enjoyed sharing the experience in a safe environment. In actuality, they could have been doing any activity. So long as it was fun and each person liked it – it would have broken the language barrier and made each person happy.

There is a real thrill in finding others who share the same love for something that you do – especially if you can chat about your passion and laugh at your obsession. For today’s youth, popular culture – music, movies, games, novels, youtube – gives the opportunity to participate, talk about and share experiences from the safety of a laptop or mobile phone. On-line communities for young people allow social interaction that enhances intercultural understandings. (A topic I will consider in more detail, in my next post).

The aim of this blog is to provide a place for a discourse about Youth and Popular Culture. I would love to hear what you have to say.

So what is your passion?