We got some nice press coverage for our project yesterday. Burnaby Now wrote a wonderful article describing some of our lessons and posted some cute pictures of the students as well… big ‘thanks’ to Burnaby Now for picking our research up! But, as always there is never enough space to fully explain my theories or ideas of media education in these articles… I guess this is why I have created a website
Often, in reports of children’s media use, we see the words ‘critical’ and ‘passive’ being thrown around. Both of these are highly contentious within the field of media education. For example, though we hope our children will view the world in a critical manner, we also have to ask: “what does critical mean?”; “whose versions of critical is ‘right’?”; “how do we know when kids are thinking critically or when they are just copying or mimicking the teacher’s or parent’s idea?”; “can copying be considered critical if students don’t even wholeheartedly believe in the words coming out of their mouths and merely appeasing adults?”
These are massive questions which are difficult to answer, but as a media educator, I need to continually ask myself such things when developing lessons and talking with students in the classes. One way I’ve gotten around the whole ‘critical’ thing is to use the word ‘transformative’ more often. To me transformative describes more thoroughly what I want the students to get out of my lessons. I want them to move beyond facts, to move beyond a mere deconstruction of advertisements, to gain a meaningful and personal understanding of media’s role in their lives, to look carefully at how it has shaped them and their peers, their language, clothing choices, music tastes, snacking preferences, and most importantly, to question the normative values media plays in our lives. I don’t think there is one ‘right’ answer they need to reach to be successful, rather success is seen if we, the educators, help students to disrupt their notions of media; to get them to ask questions and seek answers for themselves.
Now, onto the term ‘passive’… This has been used for many years by those seeking to protect children from the vices of media and its negative impacts, but as many of us have seen, children are anything but passive. Is the Tween market currently not one of the most powerful consumer groups? I would say that connotes an ‘active’ rather than a ‘passive’ role. Kids actively participate with the media through interactive games, but have incorporated the language, styles, slogans, and opinions into their own lives. They have become rampant producers of media (think YouTube) and are active participants in distribution of their ‘knowledge’ (MySpace). But what concerns me and keeps me, as a media educator, moving toward media education in schools, is the notion that these activities may be accepted as part of our lives, both the lives of adults and kids, without questioning. We are so bombarded by media that we often don’t have time to examine the implications… I could go on for days… and I will. But this is enough media usage for me today