Part I: Connections on topics learned in class
Over the course of the past few weeks I have noticed a common trend in the articles that we have read. That common trend being the importance for children and students to understand, interpret, and criticize the messages found in media culture. According to four authors of articles that we have read in class, Buckingham, Hammer, Kavoori, and Micheli, the definition or belief of what media literacy is similar. All four mention that media literacy is a skill in which knowledge and skills are required to understand, interpret, analyze, and evaluate both media messages and the world around us. It was also noted by Buckingham that interpreting the world is similar to interpreting media.
It was also noticed that between these authors, they felt the importance of media literacy. Hammer states, “It is essential that students learn how to understand, interpret and criticize the meaning and messages of media culture.” He gives an example of how important these noting that only 50% of college seniors scored below ‘proficient’ levels on a test that required them to understand arguments from newspaper editorials or compare credit-card offers. This was surprising and shocking to me for a couple different reasons. One reason for my shock was that as a high school student I was taught how to analyze documents over and over again. Whether it was History or English class we were given documents to read, analyze and then write a paper proving our thesis. My experience didn’t end there; I continued my practice of analyzing documents during my undergraduate degree. As a History Major I constantly practiced the art of analyzing documents and putting together a well thought out thesis paper. I think, too, it would also be safe to assume that other majors, such as Psychology, English, and Science, did so as well. My second reason being, that I felt disappointment. I felt disappointment because these college seniors don’t have this skill. Without this skill, how can they survive in the real world? For example, if they read a newspaper article that is sarcastic or not giving 100% true information , that college senior doesn’t have the skills to see its dishonesty and think that just because it was said means that it is true. Or when they are looking at different credit cards, they won’t be able to compare them to see which one is the most appropriate pick. These situations I bring up are concerning because people without digital literacy skills will not be able to think for themselves. Hammer also finds these skills important because multiple generations are so engrossed into technology: phones, tablets, video games, computer, etc. Just because of that fact alone, it would only make sense for schools to be educating students on media literacy.
Media literacy comes with many skills and positive aspects. One of these skills is that students can become more conscious of how the views of the world are caused and put into media. They learn to critically read, connect and interpret media culture which then empowers them to have a voice and vision to their own ideas. It also teaches them communication and cooperation skills (Hammer). Buckingham explains this in a different way stating that a person who has these skills is a sophisticated viewer. That sophisticated viewer can see past the illusions and manipulation media messages can fabricate to viewers about the world. Kavoori statement is similar and adds on to the previous statements. He states that by creating a community of active readers, those readers can decide their position on topics such as social, economical and political. For example, a person may read articles about the current presidential candidates, which may include some true and false information. That same person also watches the news and presidential debates. Using all that information given to him, he can decide for himself what is true and what is not true and then make his own decision on which candidate he thinks will be the best fit for our country.
This then brings up the issue of media consumption habits. The one worth talking about here is the one with the most problems: the audience as a passive victim (Micheli). As a passive victim, they are not critically viewing, let’s say, what they watch on TV. They believe everything they see on the news or what is said or seen in cartoons. This is an issue because it brings a negative impact, especially with children. The only way this can be counteracted is through explaining the risks and problems that media messages can give. It also helps to encourage them to be more active and critical participants of the media culture that surrounds them (Micheli). Again this brings us back to what Hammer was explaining about the college students unable to analyze credit-card offers. Without these media literacy skills, children especially will grow up with false information and ideas. They need these skills to understand the real world around them and not because they were fed information but because they were active participatipants.
One final thing I would like to mention about this topic is also pretty concerning. It is unfortunate that teachers are not receiving adequate education and training on media literacy and even more disappointing is that parents, administrators, and government officials has deemed this unnecessary. Children cannot learn this lesson on their own. They need the help of teachers and parents so that they grow up empowered to voice their visions and ideas. We need to teach children to think for themselves, because if we don’t our society could be run by adults who can’t voice their own opinions and go along with what others are saying. We will no longer have any true leaders in our society.
Part II: Reflection on class participation
As I have already stated previously, this lesson of becoming an active critique has been a huge part of my educational life. As I reflect upon it in my entire life, I too see how it has carried over. One example is having the ability to see the sarcasm in a text or Facebook message and even in person. I can also notice the adult jokes that are snuck into children movies or cartoons. I also have to say that “vegging” out on TV is fun, but even more fun when you become an active participant. An example is not agreeing with a referee during a football game. You watch the replay and listen to what the referee has to say, but you have your own belief on what really happened and scream at the TV in frustration.
I also feel to mention that there is a similarity between being and active reader/viewer and digital citizenship. The past few weeks I have been observing as well as teaching elementary school students the importance of digital citizenship and being safe online. We had some really great conversations about what you should and shouldn’t do online as well as issues on cyber bullying. What I find similar is that children need to be able to recognize websites and games and situation that might not be right for them. And from there, what they should do about it. I also find similar that children also need to be able to voice their opinions and beliefs. This is especially true when it comes to cyberbullying. In a situation like that they need to be able to speak up and tell the bully to stop or find the voice to tell a trusted adult. This topic was also discussed in the article section titled “Lesson Plan Review: Performing Facebook-Related Awkward Situations. Lesson Design and Implementation” by Micheli. This lesson focused on issues of online identity and privacy management. The program was also aiming to “instilling community consciousness… and sustaining participatory learning.” Here is the website for the Pause & Think Online video by Common Sense Media: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgbZAWnOWOo
In conclusion, this topic is very interesting and applies to my own life in many ways. For my independent project I would like to continue to explore the idea of digital citizenship and media literacy. My idea would then maybe creating a graphic novel or storybook dealing with a similar situation. That way students can learn about these skills in a fun but yet educational way. I haven’t fully developed the idea as of yet.
All Good Digital Citizens [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2016, from http://www.cpahslibrary.org/digital-citizenship.html
Buckingham, D. (2003). Media literacies. Defining the field. Becoming critical. Getting creative. Media education: Literacy, learning and contemporary culture (pp. 35 – 69). London: Polity.
Common Sense Media. (2013, September 24). Pause & Think Online [Video]. Retrieved February 25, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgbZAWnOWOo
Hammer, R. (2011). Critical media literacy as engaged pedagogy. E-Learning and Digital Media, 8(4), 357-363.
Kavoori, A., & Matthews, D. (2004). Critical media pedagogy: The Thinking Television project. Howard Journal of Communication, 15, 99 – 114.
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Micheli, M. (2013). New media literacies in after-school settings: Three curricula from the program ‘Explore Locally, Excel Digitally’ at Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles. Journal of Media Practice14(4), 331–350. doi: 10.1386/jmp.14.4.331_7
[Rules of Social Media]. (n.d.). Retrieved February 27, 2016, from http://stmb4.wikispaces.com/Digital Citizenship
[TV Feeding a Person]. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2016, from http://eladolinski.weebly.com/media-literacy.html
Walsh, S. (2016, February 16). Compare and Contrast Diagram of Key Ideas. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://padlet.com/stephaniewalsh7/a587yqmehqoi