The students we teach today are growing up in a world of consistently developing change, in an era where they are saturated with modern media, new technologies and information from newspapers, television, video games, facebook, twitter, cell phones and the internet. Research suggests students spend seven to eight hours a day consuming media. Knowing how to read and analyze these different forms of media critically is crucial and the key to literacy and understanding.
So how do we empower our students with the skills to analyze and criticize any media text? One approach is through critical media literacy! According to Kellner & Share (2005), critical media literacy not only teaches students to learn from media, to resist media manipulation, and to use media materials in constructive ways, but also concerned with developing skills that will help create good citizens and that will make individuals more motivated and competent participants in social life.
Here is a video presentation of how creating critical thinkers through media literacy can be achieved.
In our age of participatory culture we must teach students to become skilled consumers of information, discerning fact from fiction and their ability to recognise different points of views (Hoechsmann & Poyntz, 2012a).
Our students arrive fluent in the language of computers, gaming, social networking and the internet (Bennett, Maton & Kervin, 2007). They are used to multi-tasking through social media and gaming; meaning they are able to process layers of visual and dynamic information at a rapid rate. Students of today are high level consumers of such multimodal texts from a magazine advertisement to a video game, to a website (Hoechsmann & Poyntz, 2012b) and two-dimensional text bears little resemblance to much that they process as information literacies.
We live in an increasingly online and visually advancing world. Just as teachers have used paint brushes, vivid markers, whiteboards and pencils to produce multimedia we now have more potential and tools to investigate multimedia in other ways. As we make the move from pen and paper to digital technologies we must take care not to just change the medium after all a “worksheet is a worksheet” in any format, but to change the pedagogy of the steadily expanding technologies. The difficulty in this is, for teachers to understand how learners position themselves in social contexts as literate consumers of multiple texts. Teachers, after all, can only do for students what they have experienced for themselves (Albers, Vasquez, Harste 2008).
I evaluated my own experience as a teacher, and reflected on the changing nature of literacy in our classrooms today and the impact media has had, and continues to have, on the teaching of literacy. I like so many teachers, and as a ‘Digital Immigrant’ Helsper & Eynon (2010), still practiced a reliance on printed text but share the beliefs in a multiliteracies pedagogy. Burn & Durran (2007) cites Cope and Kalantzis (2000) to define multiliteracies as using other modes of communication and new technologies. Evidence supports this is as a common issue (Leu et al., 2000), as teachers struggle to redefine their own literacy practices to prepare students to become fully literate in today’s world.
The learning landscape is certainly changing and so must teachers. Once confined to classrooms, student learning can now be shared worldwide (Hull, 2009). The challenge for us as teachers in growing our students beyond traditional reading and writing and rather, into multiliterate learners. Because learning is socially constructed, which is even more powerfully enacted through technology, our students need to become critical consumers of information, discerners and critics, inquirers and questioners. Furthermore, the need to use critical media literacy as a method to enact language in powerful ways: to question privilege and injustice, to enhance life in school (Comber, 2001), and to constantly access new literacies in an ever-changing world.
I am interested in finding out if media literacy exists in the primary school I teach in and if so what does it look like?. Also, how teachers have incorporated media literacy into their classroom programme.
Bennett S., Maton K. and Kervin L. (2008). The “digital natives” debate: A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), 775-786. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2007.00793.x
Burn, Andrew,& Durran, James. (2007). Media literacy in schools: Practice, production and progression. London: Paul Chapman Publishing [Chapter 1: What is media literacy? pp.1-22]
Comber, B. (2001). Critical literacies and local action: Teacher knowledge and a “new” research agenda. In B. Comber & A. Simpson (Eds.). Negotiating critical literacies in classrooms, 271-282. Mahwah,NJ: Earlbaum.
Helsper, E.J., & Eynon, R. (2010). Digital natives: where is the evidence?, British Educational Research Journal, 36(3), 503-520.
Hoechsmann, M., & Poyntz, S.R. (2012a). Critical citizenship and media literacy futures. In M. Hoechsmann & S. R. Poyntz, Media Literacies: A Critical Introduction (pp. 191-202): Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Hoechsmann, M., & Poyntz, S.R. (2012b). Media literacies: A critical introduction. Malden, MA, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. [Chapter 1: What is media literacy, pp.1-16]
Kellner, D., & Share, J. (2005). Toward critical media literacy: Core concepts, debates, organizations, and policy. Discourse: Studies in the cultural politics of education, 26(3), 369-386.