Manifestos for the Future of Media Education

A few months ago, I was asked if I might contribute a short essay to a United Kingdom based project to frame a series of arguments around the value of media education in the 21st Century. The project is intended to spark debate within the Media Studies field and beyond about the value of our contribution to secondary and post-secondary education.

This week, Pete Fraser, Chief Examiner of OCR Media Studies & Jon Wardle, Director, The Centre for Excellence in Media Practice, Bournemouth University, launched a website which includes ten such manifestos, including mine, and which they hope will host ongoing discussions around these issues. Here’s part of the rationale they provide for the project:

There are those who would dismiss the very idea of studying the media. The Daily Mail might argue that it is only on the national curriculum and available at degree level to ensure that the participation numbers for young people engaged in formal learning and gaining good qualifications remains high- the ‘dumbing down’ agenda. They might argue that studying Soap isn’t a serious pursuit and will be frowned upon by University admission tutors and employers. Implicitly this argument is promoting a high brow / lowbrow divide; we can’t remember the last time we read an ‘angry from Tunbridge Wells’ letter complaining that the tax payers money was being used to fund the teaching of metaphysical poetry instead of physics….

Twenty five years of scholarship have bought about broad consensus on the theoretical framework for Media Education – 1) that media is representation not reality, 2) that the media is produced by organizations and individuals and therefore can and should be read critically 3) that the media is now not only read and received, but reinterpreted by audiences. We would nonetheless argue that we are still some way from identifying a broader teaching and learning framework for media education and most critically – and the focus of this work – we are yet to articulate a clear purpose for the work we do. What is the point of media education? – whether it be media studies, media practice, media production, media literacy – what is the point?. You may argue the clue is in the title of each of these subsets of media education – as on the surface the differences between media production and media literacy seem pretty straightforward. However, the purpose of each still feels rather opaque.

Are we seeking to develop the media producers of tomorrow, or to nurture individuals capable of holding power to account, are we seeking to hold a looking glass up to society in order for society itself to better understand itself, or perhaps we are hoping to develop a more media literate society capable of protecting itself from evil media conglomerates?…

I used my own response to their provocation to reflect a bit on what we learned through the decade plus that I ran the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT and especially how we might extend the thinking behind Project New Media Literacies to include more advanced studies in media. Here’s part of what I had to say:

We should no longer be debating the value of media education. The real question is whether media education should be a stand-alone discipline or whether expertise in media should be integrated across all disciplines, just as the ability to communicate is increasingly recognized as valuable across the curriculum….

Beyond these core skills which need to be integrated into K-12 education [those in the MacArthur white paper], though, I might also argue for kinds of contextual knowledge which are vital in making sense of the changes taking place around us. All learners need to acquire a basic understanding of the processes of media change, an understanding which in turn requires a fuller grasp of the history of previous moments of media in transition. All learners need to acquire a core understanding of the institutions and practices shaping the production and ciculation of media — from the Broadcast networks to the social networks, from Madison Avenue to Silicon Valley….

Media education offers skills, knowledge, and conceptual frameworks we need in our everyday lives as consumers and citizens, members of families and communities, but they should also be part of the professional education of lawyers, doctors, businessmen, people entering a range of professions and occupations. At the present moment, there is a tremendous need across all sectors for what the industry calls “thought leadership” — the ability to translate big picture change into language that can be widely understood and engaged — as well as the capacity to deploy such media expertise to shape pragmatic and practical decisions.

Grant McCracken (2009) has argued that this hunger for insights into how media and cultural change impacts economic decision-making may lead many business to hire “Chief Cultural Officers,” ideally people who can bring humanistic expertise on culture and society into the C-Suite. If this vision came to pass, we might imagine media educated students entering not only the academy or the creative industries, but business of all kinds, policy think tanks, arts curatorships, journalism, advertising and branding, and a range of other jobs, many of which do not yet have names. Current media education tends to focus on reproducing the professoriate, despite declining numbers of jobs, and treating the vast number of our alums who get jobs elsewhere as if this was a failure of the system, an unfortunate byproduct of the decline of higher education. What if we reversed these priorities and saw the expertise media education offers as valuable in a range of different kinds of jobs and presented these options to our students at every step in the process.

The kinds of media education required for such a context differs profoundly from what we have offered in the past. For starters, it requires a much more conscious engagement with the relationship between theory and practice — not simply production practices (itself a big change given how often theory and production faculty sit at opposite ends of the conference table at faculty meetings) but the practices of everyday life. We need to compliment the current theoretical domains of media study with a more applied discipline, which encourages students to test their understanding through making things, solving problems, and sharing their insights with the general public.

The site’s participants include some of England’s top thinkers about media and learning, including David Buckingham, David Gauntlet, Cary Bazalgate, Natalie Fenton, and Julian McDougall. Having just spoken at a British media literacy conference in November, I came away with a deeper understanding of the caliber of scholarship and pedagogy emerging there and of the particular nature of the political struggles they are facing over education at the moment. I welcome the chance to learn more about their thinking through the ten remarkable essays the site assembles.

To whet your appetite for more, let me close by sharing a chunk of David Buckingham’s manifesto. Buckingham notes that he often finds the rhetoric by which we justify our profession overblown and deterministic, so he labels himself a poor choice to write a manifesto. In fact, it is precisely because Buckingham is so cautious in the claims he makes, so skeptical in the way that he reads the world, that his work carries such weight and impact:

I have always felt that media education suffers from an excess of grandiose rhetoric. We have all heard far too many assertions about how media education can change the world, save democracy or empower the powerless. As a classroom teacher, I was always painfully aware of the gap between this sort of rhetoric and the messy realities of my own practice (and I don’t think that was just about being a useless teacher). While it can be morale-boosting in the short term, this overblown rhetoric does not serve teachers very well: we need to cast a more dispassionate eye on what really happens in the classroom, however awkward or even painful that might feel.

In my view, we can make the case much more effectively by showing in concrete ways what and how children can learn about media. Most of the critics of media education do not have even the faintest idea of what it actually looks like in practice. Media education can be intellectually challenging; it can involve intense and rigorous forms of creativity; and it can engage learners in ways that many other school subjects do not. Even experienced teachers can be positively surprised by the quality and sophistication of students’ thinking as they engage in media education activities – and by the forms of oral and written work that result from it. Like any other school subject, media education can also be undemanding and boring, and it can result in pointless ‘busywork’. I am not calling here for rose-tinted accounts of ‘good practice’, of the kind that most teachers tend to find somewhat implausible. Rather, we need to come up with evidence that media education actually works – that it can engage, challenge and motivate young people, as well as enabling them to understand and to participate more fully in the media culture that surrounds them.

Comments

  1. tushar says:

    I have gone through your blog it was really very informative keep it the good work going.

    Maruti”>http://www.cartradeindia.com/new/Maruti-Suzuki/Zen-Estilo”>Maruti Estilo I Maruti”>http://www.cartradeindia.com/new/Maruti-Suzuki/SX4/Diesel”>Maruti SX4 Diesel

  2. samdy says:

    There are few things in life that are Cheap mbt footwear simply better in every way, and leave no room for argument. Mbt shoe for sale is one of them. This product, which does not depend on his appearance, but its Mbt online execution. This may be a good idea to test them on their feet.Company in thevibram MBT Chapa sale for over 70 years and is known for producing high quality footwear. MBT Fora are soft and supple nylon sole that can easily be extended to cover the contours of the legs to do. This is the only MBT Baridi, in one machine so that you keep them clean and fresh can be washed.If you have compiled one of those unfortunate set of MBT Imara shoes for long hours almost every day wear in your life, then you probably know how much load can MBT Kimondo shoes. People’s feet at least 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and MBT Kisumu Sandals ligaments in this small space. He is not without reason, of course. Our feet are capable of great strength, speed, endurance, and it alone, we need to MBT M.Walk improve their potential. Barefoot and regularly ensure that our legs carried out in order to MBT Men’s Shoes enhance MBT Moja productivity. For runners and athletes who have MBT Sandals shoes, calf muscles, finally, to take the load MBT Sapatu pressure while the feet and toes curled up in a lather.We have MBT Shoes Clearance experienced a sudden resurgence of a large number of functions that We lost MBT Sini power years, our bodies move against nature. Gradually, we begin to bring our original way of MBT Sport walking, we used a pain in the muscles of the shin or on our waistline MBT Women’s Shoes disappears suddenly feeling that we are starting to Air Max feel particularly Nike Air Max 95 happy and free.

  3. qqq says:

    I’d been obsessed with my free porn videos younger sister’s sex life for almost two years when I finally found the courage and mobile porn the means to take a part in it. In fact, my obsession had probably been developing for quite some time before that without my noticing it free porn tube, my teenage unconscious taking in the form of her developing body, her budding breasts, her pheromones and whatnot since the onset of her puber

    ABB728019395

  4. Louis Vuitton, the world-renowned brands, but also for muxury a consideration. For these replica louis vuitton,replica Louis Vuitton Handbags absolute comw of NPK’s high quality and fashion design, but also added the popular bags for sale. There are also many copies of replica louis vuitton Handbag to sell in the market, so when you choose not to pay attention to your luggage. In addition, all of these Louis Vuitton Handbags,also used the same material,designed by replica louis vuitton of these condescending, and large bags. In short, all of these replica Louis Vuitton Handbags to provide you with the replica louis vuitton Handbag and so on. Speaking of Louis Vuitton Handbags,people know, talk, and only those women who use this wealth of high-priced bags. In the winter, it is said, the work of louis vuitton travel luggage and louis vuitton men bags in these cities on the market very well.

    CHEN

  5. PornoPixel says:

    PornoPixel is Seo Friendly and to improve backlinks, for sites that have purchased the pixels, their links are appears on the popular Social Network, Blog and Service. (with a single purchase) Start Advertising

  6. qff828 says:
  7. baonam says:

    The crux of your writing while appearing reasonable originally, did not really settle perfectly with me personally after some time. Somewhere within the paragraphs you managed to make me a believer unfortunately only for a while. I nevertheless have a problem with your leaps in logic and one would do well to fill in all those breaks. In the event that you can accomplish that, I would surely end up being amazed. kidney

  8. Large scale transportation involving wood pellets made by pellet machine to general consumers along with stores is definitely successful, because the wood pellets use up a small space within high densities.

  9. fuyanqin says:

    The winter is comming,have you prepared to pass the winter,I think a Moncler Jacket is necessaery,Online Moncler is a good way to get a perfect Moncler Jackets way,Moncler Jacket is famous of it amazing qulity and it's consummate manual work,when you ware it,you will feel warm,whatere how cold the winter is,moncler can take care of your body.Our Online Moncler Shop
    afford latest Moncler Coat,Moncler Vest,so in the cold winter you can also fashion and attractive,so visit our Moncler Online Shop,it will take you a warm winter.

  10. Pam Smith says:

    I know what you mean… that is the future… we should develop platforms like 2-learning. English chinese translation