I am currently a PhD student in the Faculty of Education, Curriculum Development and Implementation program, at Simon Fraser University. My passion for media education was fueled in 1996 by a course at the University of Alberta which provided me with an opportunity to read Neil Postman, David Oliver and Kieran Egan, my journey took a detour in 1996 when I began working as a researcher at the SFU Media Analysis Laboratory. There I gained qualitative and quantitative skills while examining children’s media use. The research projects I took part in focused on the roles of media in contemporary families, and the impacts of television and advertising on the children’s imaginative play, sedentary lifestyles and aggression. My research experience, such as developing surveys, interviewing children and parents and conducting focus groups, led me overseas to South Korea to conduct research for my master’s degree.
For one year (August 2001-2002) I intensively studied the impact of new media, particularly computers at PC-Bangs (Internet cafes), on Korean students and their families. I worked closely with Dr. Hyewon Park Choi at the University of Ulsan to develop a nation-wide survey of students in grades 4, 8, 11 and University. While traveling throughout Korea I had the opportunity to talk with students and families about Korea’s rapid computerization and I also spent a considerable amount of time conducting ethnographic research in PC-Bangs in various cities and at the First World Cyber Games.
Following my stay in Korea I returned to the SFU Media analysis Lab and was asked to coordinated a Community-Based Media Risk Reduction pilot project. Finally I was given the chance to connect with my initial passions of teaching media education in the schools. This project not only allowed me to once again enter the classroom and work with teachers, but provided a great starting point for the changes I envision for current media education programs.
My own educational journey has taken me away from media research and launched me into the world of educational philosophy. So, like many things in life, I have come full circle, and once again I am provided with an opportunity to revisit the works of Oliver and Egan. This time, however, the strength I have gained from these authors is combined with a new pedagogical standpoint fueled by a historical look at educational theories from Plato, Locke, Rousseau, Dewey; sociological examination of education from Pierre Bourdieu and Lev Vygotsky, Jurgen Habermas and educational philosophers such as Elliot Eisner and Maxine Greene.
My in-depth look at the education system, where it began and where we are now, has developed in me a new awareness of the importance of emotional engagement of students’ imagination. My connection with Egan’s work has not only helped me to reassess how media education can be developed and delivered in the classroom, but as a research coordinator of the LUCID group, I have been able to examine Egan’s theories at a practical level in various classrooms across the province. This opportunity to talk with teachers as they explore the importance of imagination and emotional engagement has helped me immensely during my own pilot work at a local Burnaby school. The cultural-inclusion aspect of the LUCID project has also provided to be an essential component for the field work I completed in Haida Gwaii in the Spring of 2007 and for additional field work with teachers in Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii in the Spring of 2008.
I am only at the beginning of an adventurous journey and hope to continue meeting teachers that are willing to create classroom experiences which ‘make the familiar strange’ and see the value of engaging students’ imaginations.