learning.now: at the crossroads of Internet culture & education with host Andy Carvin

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Learning.now is a weblog that explores how new technology and Internet culture affect how educators teach and children learn. It will offer a continuing look at how new technology such as wikis, blogs, vlogs, RSS, podcasts, social networking sites, and the always-on culture of the Internet are impacting teacher and students' lives both inside and out of the classroom.
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Discussing Media Literacy With Dan Rather

At the South By Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas this week, I had a chance to spend some time with former CBS News anchor Dan Rather. And somehow we ended up talking about media literacy in schools.

Many people who are into concerts know about SXSW as one of the biggest music festivals in the US. In the last few years, though, it’s become the go-to place for people who are involved in Web 2.0, from group text messaging applications to video blogging to disttributed gaming. And almost everyone you bump into there just happens to be a blogger, which is why it may come as a surprise than veteran journalist Dan Rather would show up to deliver the keynote.

Rather, as you may recall, left CBS News not long after a controversy surrounding a news story he did, in which certain documents they used in their investigative reporting were exposed by the blogosphere as likely fakes. Rather’s departure from CBS was seen by many as the high-water mark of a battle that was taking place then between mainstream media outlets and bloggers. You might think that Rather would not want to face an audience of several thousand bloggers, but he did just that, talking about the evolving media landscape, investigative journalism and other topics. He received a standing ovation, bloggers and non-bloggers alike.

A few hours after his speech, I got to sit down with Rather for almost 30 minutes. We talked about a range of issues - the full transcript is online if you’re interested, as are the video highlights. During his speech, he expressed concern about anonymous bloggers and their potential to do “scurrilous” things to other people for political or personal reasons. I was interested in how you would balance those concerns with the rights of bloggers who need to remain anonymous for political reasons, such as dissidents or whistleblowers.

“I think we can all agree that that’s a case in which anonymity is justified, and we understand that it’s justified,” he said. “You don’t want to give it to those who use it for nefarious, scurrilous purposes. But like a lot of things in which freedom is involved, that it comes at a price and it’s sometimes messy. I wish I had the answer to it.”

This got me thinking about the role of media literacy in terms of helping people recognize the difference between online resources that are thorough and unbiased versus those that have an axe to grind. So I asked him: “Do you worry that the public lacks the media literacy skills to tell the difference between a blogger who has integrity and sincerity, versus a blogger who is trying to use a blog purely for ulterior motives?”

His answer is somewhat long, but I think it’s important to include it in full:

Well, some do; some don’t. But, you know, I trust the audience. My experience, in first print, then radio, then television, and now, early on in the world of high-def television and the Internet, overall in the main you can trust the audience. The public at large - particularly in our country, with its freedoms - the public at large has a pretty good bull***t indicator. They may not be watching the meter all the time; they may misinterpret it some of the time. But by and large, they’ll separate bullshine from brass tacks. And I think that’s the way it is with blogs. Maybe not immediately - but we’ve gone through this before. We’ve gone through it on radio - Father Coughlin back in the 1930s. Most people now don’t even know who he was. But he was a demagogue at the time. And some people were very worried, saying, “You gotta silence him, because people are not smart enough to catch up with who and what this guy is.”

We’ve had periods, the McCarthy period in the 50s, a lot people were worried about it for the same reason. So while this danger exists in what some like to call the blogosphere, while on any given day or hour I might say, “Gosh, I wonder if people recognize this as propaganda.” It is. Then I just come back to, in this country, I trust the public.

But I said to someone earlier today, and you might find this too off the mark, but I hope not - that I hope people aren’t too quick to dismiss the potential for outright propaganda on the Internet, including the blogosphere. That new technologies, new ways of conveying images and information are particularly vulnerable to highly concentrated efforts to use it for propagandistic purposes. When talking film first came in, talking movies if you will, it corresponded roughly with the rise of what we call Nazism in Hitler’s Germany. And an early master of the talking films - really high-quality films - was named Leni Riefenstahl. Leni Riefenstahl turned out a masterpiece of propaganda called Triumph of the Will. I wish every school child in America could see it, be in a course about it. Because here’s the point: I don’t think it’s far off what we were talking about before. Here was a new technology developing - film, film with sound on it, high-quality film - a master took it and put it to service of a dictator and a megalomaniac. And as they say, the rest is history.

The Triumph of the Will, perhaps more than any single other thing led to Hilter’s being able to manipulate, and get behind him, the German people. And we paid a terrible price for that. Now I’m not suggesting that the current blogosphere or the Internet will lead to that, but it’s just a little yellow warning flag of “Let’s not be too blase about it.” Because that potential exists; it has with every new technology. When television first came in, some politicians and some partisan political operatives said, “You know what? We can manipulate this medium and we can use it to our own partisan political advantage. And they did so. But again, in this country, I believe so strongly we have the corrective devices but let us hope so. But I have somewhere back in my head Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, Hitler, new technology…. Let’s be on the lookout; let’s be on the alert.

“So if that’s the case,” I replied, “is appropriate for us, for example, to think more seriously about implementing some form of media literacy curriculum in our schools, so students can actually - and adults as well - can actually view these pieces of media and review them critically?”

“I’d be very much in favor of it,” he stated, without hesitation. “But I don’t want to mislead anybody and be hypocritical - that I believe the most important things are the three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. But somewhere along the line, I think media literacy is an important part of teaching civics. I don’t know whether anyone teaches civics under that name any more, but it was required when I was in school… But I’d be all in favor of doing that. But educators, I think, would argue, ‘You know, I think it’s hard enough to get the three Rs taught, basic science and technology courses.’ But the key to not falling victim to something like Leni Riefenstahl and Hitler’s Triumph of the Will is to have media literacy.”

I found Rather’s responses most interesting not because he’s an expert on bleeding-edge Internet trends - he’s not. Instead, it was the long-term view he took as both a journalist and a student of history. Watching Triumph of the Will was a seminal experience for me in college, because it really hammered home how the craft of filmmaking can be used to manipulate people. In part, it inspired my to co-produce a short documentary about the editing techniques used by Oliver Stone in his film JFK to manipulate the viewer into buying into his interpretation of the Kennedy assassination. (Ironic, perhaps, since Dan Rather’s coverage of that event thrust him into the national spotlight.) Analyzing the techniques used in both JFK and Triumph of the Will was educational for me, but it was the act of producing my own documentary that really hammered home the power of the medium. If I hadn’t spliced and remixed it myself, I wouldn’t have experienced the sense of control it gave me. And frankly, that sense of control was a little scary.

That documentary, and others that I did in college, helped give me a much stronger appreciation for how media production tools can be used for good or bad purposes. Back then, though, you’d have to spend tens of thousands of dollars for an editing suite or have access to one. Most college students, let alone K-12 students, had that kind of access. Today, of course, nearly every PC sold has some form of basic video editing software on it, and countless blogging services are available for free. The very meaning of mass media has been altered, because it’s no longer a matter of a few monolithic entities mediating the messages taken in by the rest of the population. All of us are mediators of that public conversation - including every kid in American with a camera phone and access to YouTube. Countless kids today are producing media, and they rarely get any guidance from schools. We don’t invest the time needed for today’s students to learn how to think critically about digital media, either through analyzing content or creating new content to understand the techniques that go into it.

Everyone now has the power to influence everyone - and teaching students to these technologies responsibly requires a serious commitment from educators. Are we prepared to commit? -andy

Filed under : Media Literacy, People


I couldn’t agree with you more about the confluence of civics and media literacy. I work for a non-profit organization called Teaching Matters (http://www.teachingmatters.org). We have recently completed development of a middle school civics program, Voices and Choices, that engages students in responsible use of media to make their voices heard on issues of public debate.

In our Civil Rights project (http://rights.teachingmatters.org), students create Citizen Media Campaigns to promote a civil rights issue they feel is important. We have set up a protected publishing area controlled by teachers (http://voices.teachingmatters.org/). Check out what students in NYC are saying!

We have been in over 100 NYC middle schools this past year providing professional development for teachers, engaging web-based materials for students, and culminating events celebrating student activism. We have seen many NYC educators commit to civics and media literacy. One of our goals has been to support teachers in taking on the challenging task of addressing civics and media literacy through these services.

It’s a big question, isn’t it? “Are we [educators] prepared to commit” to “teaching students to use these technologies responsibly?” I hope so, but I fear not. The case that Rather and others make for it is compelling.

The question becomes when and how. In a 180-day school year and with all the other demands placed on educators, teaching media literacy may simply get left out of the mix. I hope that doesn’t sound like an excuse. I know, with a little imagination, teachers can sidecar media literacy lessons on to other lessons that need to be taught. But I also know that that kind of process can be haphazard.

Perhaps part of the answer involves extending the school year. Many nations have a much longer school year, anywhere from ten to forty more days, than does the U.S. Yes, that part of the solution becomes expensive, perhaps prohibitively so; but how much longer can we ignore the fact that American educators are expected to teach an awful lot in 180 days? Higher taxes anyone?

Mike S.

I don’t think that this is a matter sacrificing the 3 rs to the altar of media literacy. Media Literacy should be integrated with the core curriculum. Students should be “writing” documentaries. Students should vidoeo blog science experiments. Many of the studies of bias and persuasion techniques have been going on for years and apply to the new media just like the old. We should be teaching students to critique, analyze, and synthesize at all times.

Thanks for this fine essay, Andy. You capture the power of connecting analysis and production as part of the process of learning. It’s not just a matter of learning to use the tools of technology— media literacy educators insist on focusing on how to recognize the constructed nature of media representations in many forms—- through language, images, sound and digital media. They care about the implications of living in a world rich in carefully packaged entertainment and news messages full of people trying to sell something— a product, an ideology, a lifestyle, a war.

But it’s not enough to just plaintively ask K-12 teachers to take up the task of media literacy. They need tools, training, and exemplary models of what works in the red-hot real-world middle-school or high school (or even elementary) classroom. We researchers are working as fast as we can to provide those models— not by telling them what to do from our ivory towers, but by tracking down and documenting the fine rich work of real teachers who are, quietly and persistently, working to create media literacy learning environments for their students.

See my new book, Reading the Media, for more about what media literacy looks like in practice. And come to the NMEC conference in June to meet with 500 media literacy educators across North America and the world in St. Louis. http://amlainfo.org

I believe these “media literacy skills” - analyze info from multiple sources, parse it, discuss it, argue it, challenge it, enter the discusssion, etc. may be THE most important component of education going fwds as we move into world of infinite content supply and access.

I am happy to report that media literacy in education is alive and well in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. This school year, I began piloting a brand new curriculum for middle school students that covers many facets of media literacy. It is a course that is presented as a required “special” to all 6th, 7th and 8th graders in my school, Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School.

Dividing the media into three distinct categories, I cover print media in 6th grade, broadcast media in 7th grade, and the Internet, online media and website design in 8th grade. To see a detailed description of my courses, visit my web site: http://www.croton-harmonschools.org/pvcweb/communications/communichome2.html

The main premise of my curriculum is to come at the media from two points of view: first from a critical analysis vantage point, and second from the production side. In other words, in all three grades, students examine the media from the inside out, focusing a great deal on marketing aspects, and especially on themselves as an audience to exploit. Students discover on their own many sexist themes, question the proliferation of violence in the media, and gain an understanding of themselves as “sponges” – a target audience ready and willing to absorb anything – to name just a few of the subjects examined and discussed.

Students are made aware of the enormous control over the media that only a handful of media empires and moguls have who have the power to both entertain, inform and manipulate. As current events evolve, we discuss them: News Corporation’s purchase of MySpace for half a billion dollars; Google’s purchase of YouTube and the ensuing Viacom lawsuit over copyright infringement as just a couple of recent examples.

And, after tearing it all apart, we set to work on producing our own media. To date, since September, we’ve created two television newscasts, eight commercials for our local library, two 8-page newspapers and more than 30 websites.

The universal response to the courses from the students has been one of amazement to learn so much they never knew about the media, to a much better understanding of the time, effort and complexities that go into producing media. It’s a very “current” and “relevant” curriculum that speaks directly to this digital and media-oriented generation.

Two weeks ago we staged a TV debate in my 7th grade classes. The question students debated was “Is society more violent because of violent programs on TV?” The students were split on this, many saying, Yes, definitely, especially when young children, who are so vulnerable, are exposed to violent programming. But the students who said No argued exactly the same point Dan Rather made: people are smarter than that. These students had faith that most Americans “knew better.”

In Croton, I am lucky to have a very supportive administration behind me. When I came to them almost a year ago with my vision for this program of instruction, they said that it was just what the school needed. A couple of weeks ago, my superintendent sent me a copy of a paper entitled “Confronting the Challenges of a Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century,” by Henry Jenkins, Director of Comparative Media Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the paper, he, and his four co-authors state:

“One important goal of media education should be to encourage young people to become more reflective about the ethical choices they make as participants and communicators and the impact they have on others.

…As media literacy advocates have claimed during the past several decades, students also must acquire a basic understanding of the ways media representations structure our perceptions of the world; the economic and cultural contexts within which mass media is produced and circulated; the motives and goals that shape the media they consume; and alternative practices that operate outside the commercial mainstream. Such groups have long called for schools to foster a critical understanding of media as one of the most powerful social, economic, political, and cultural institutions of our era.”

In the paper, Jenkins et al. also quote Bertram C. Bruce (from his “Diversity and Critical Social Engagement: How Changing Technologies Enable New Modes of Literacy in Changing Circumstances,” 2002) who, I feel, sums it all up perfectly:

“Adolescents need to learn how to integrate knowledge from multiple sources, including music, video, online databases, and other media. They need to think critically about information that can be found nearly instantaneously throughout the world. They need to participate in the kinds of collaboration that new communication and information technologies enable, but increasingly demand. Considerations of globalization lead us toward the importance of understanding the perspective of others, developing a historical grounding, and seeing the interconnectedness of economic and ecological systems.”

Your blog questions whether educators are committed to teaching students to use these technologies responsibly, and, at least for me, I can answer: Yes, I am.

When analyzing the media, it is crucial to recognize who is sponsering the views and opinions of the broadcast. Corporations do use media politically and most educated Americans are aware of this fact. Unfortunately, the United States as a whole tends to be complacent when accepting the nightly news as the gospel. Last summer, my husband and I visited a Communism museum in Prague. It displayed numerous propaganda posters from the Cold War era warning the public about the Weapons of Mass Destruction that the US had and were planning to use to attack the civilians of this country. They were fooled just as easy as we were and this was half a century ago. Personally, I believe that bloggers are doing a world of good in communicating ideas that aren’t in agreement with that of the six o’clock news.

I agree with Mr.Rather but we must include Digital Literacy as well.
There is an information overload that educators and students have to learn to utilize correctly!

Media does need to be put more in school curriculum, so that students can be more aware.
Although the media itself isnt a good infuence on students, it still needs to be put out there. The media can be taught in a positive way instead of negative. Students just need to be very meticulous when they collect information from the media. Personally, I think students aren’t mature enough to look deep into the media and if it was to be introduced to them, throughout school they would look at it in a different way.

I believe that the idea of Media Literacy in the schools could be a good and bad idea depending on the age it is introduced. I think that high school age students would probably be the best age to begin. At this age, they begin to research more. This curriculum will give them more ways to create good assignments.

Since most (if not all) school age students are affected by the media either directly or indirectly, every school’s curriculum should include lessons on media literacy. To me, middle school would be the best starting point because that is when the influence from the media tends to grow the most in students. If Media Literacy education begins from the 5th or 6th grade, and throughout high school, students can strengthen their critical thinking skills, which are necessary for success in middle school, high school, college, and certain real-life situations.

I think Mr.Rathers had a point and the addition of media literacy would improve the reading and comprehension skills of children if, for example, the student is given an article about a current issue and is asked to read it and write a response. This addition would also open the eyes of children to what is going on around them and in the world.

I believe that the idea of Media Literacy in the schools could be a good and bad idea depending on the age it is introduced. I think that high school age students would probably be the best age to begin. They are mature enough to learn more about what is actually happening in the world. There is also a bad outcome for introducing Media Literacy into the curriculum. Some students might take it to another level and use the media for unnecessary reasons. Overall, I think that it would be a good idea depending on the way it is taught and used in the curriculum.

Michael Logan
Ms. Petrusa
Pre AP Am. Lit.

I think the question lies in both teaching media literacy and becoming literate to the media. Children need to able to create true media stories as well as opinionated ones. This tool is necessary for many assignments that students might have such as research papers. Being able to tell the true from the opinionated is also very necessary during the average student’s curriculum.

I believe Dan Rathers is compleatly correct. Media Literacy should be incorperated into the school curriculum, and in an ideal world it would be. The only problem is we’re not in a ideal world and we can’t afford to be idealists. Mr.Rather understands this point, stated by his mention of the three R’s. If shoools can’t ensure that their students are performing on par, then how is adding another class an advisable solution? To conclude I beleve a greater deal of emphisis must be placed on education in core areas to ensure paultry results in the school system are a thing of the past.

I agree with Rather that Media literacy should be incorporated in schools. It will help people to know what is right and wrong on the internet, and they would be less likely to waste money on false advertisements. Through media literacy, we can manacle the Internet from becoming corrupt.I also agree that arithmetic, writing and reading are more important because you can’t become media literate if you don’t know the basics. They are like prerequisites for media literacy.If we don’t stay alert, the Internet will be used for a bad reason like some of the other technologies have been . Also, I agree that people can use the digital media to influence.

The bad side though, is that it will use a lot of money to train teachers to enable them to teach the students, since there aren’t may media literacy teachers at the current moment.Also, I don’t think there is enough time to teach students media literacy during the school year. It should be a summer course instead.

I believe being media literate is a must because in this tme we would not be able to understand some of the internet content. First of all being media literate means that you do not look at regular television in the same way as everyone else therefore you are seen as something of a hypocrite. I use the media mainly for projects, but sometimes I decide to just watch t.v to try to find the under-lining message in a show. From that point on I decide whether it is beneficial to me or not. Although there are certain shows where the “nonsense” meter maxes out, unfortunately, I still watch it.

Media literacy is something that needs to be taught, for the world never stands still and is constantly changing. People need to be taught what is going on in the world around them, because media illiteracy can only lead to continous confusion to that indivisual. Confused indivisuals do nothing but cause more confusion which eventually becomes more chaos in the world.

I believe that the idea of incorporating media literature into today’s society would be a good change for both children and adults. Nowadays kids are too focused on what’s new and hip;generally, those things are posted on television. If media literature was more common, kids would have to read to learn about all of the new and hip things they like. This will make reading fun and exciting for today’s youth.
For the adults in today’s world they do not read as much. They also mostly get their information from the news, which comes on T.V. Newspapers are not as popular anymore, but if there was more news in writting than on television, people would read more.

As I go to my different high school classes I ask myself, are my educators committed. A lot of my educators do not have a passion for teaching. They strictly teach us the curriculum, nothing else. The need for media literacy is growing and I need to be educated about it. Some of my more accomplished teachers not only teach me about science and math, they teach me about life. It is these educators that will take time out of their packed curriculum schedule to teach me about things like media literacy.

I think that putting media classes in our schools is a really good idea. They have Computer Appilication classes to show us how to use the computer but I think it needs to go deeper than that. It is a proven fact that students of all ages are affected by the media, so if the teachers are going to show us students how to use the internet or search web blogs then they should also tell us the good and bad side of the what they are teaching us about. I think that people in general would know if a blog was true or “fake” if they were aware of certain informantion.

Having a class on media literacy? In an ideal world, I think this would work, considering that in an ideal world, the kids would pay attention and learn. Unfortunately, this is far from a utopia, and kids focus far more on their boyfriends and girlfriends than they do on their studies. Even worse is that the students who don’t study often don’t because they’re out making videos of themselves with their friends. The people who need the information the most are the least likely to listen. Mr. Rather is quite right in saying that the three Rs take precedence, and I believe that it would be better if in elementary school (4th grade and up) media literacy were taught in a way as to meld it into the Rs. In elementary school, students are far more likely to listen than when they’re thrust into middle school and are more concerned with impressing people. As with most things, it’s better to learn this as a child. Although they may not grasp it, it would certainly be taken in steps. You most definitely would NOT ask a 4th grader to identify ethos, pathos, and logos.

I think that media literacy is an important subject that a school can teach it’s student. Schools should begin at an early age to teach children of the valididty of what some bloggers are rambling about, and the genuine research of a scientist, or college student. I have to disagree with Mr. Rather about America’s media literacy ,as a whole, being a developed skill. Some Americans can hardly tell the difference between a mindless blog argument or a helpful source like these here PBS articles. Thus, I believe that at the earliest age possible, children should be taught that not everything that they will hear, or come across will be truthful.

Incorporating media literacy into schools could be very beneficial. The media already influences a large part of our society. If students are provided with guidance from their teachers they will gain a better understanding of it. In some of my classes I am already required to use media literature, such as journal articles, but it is always on a limited basis, and solely used for research. I think that this would also provide a challenge for teachers to formulate a quality method of incorporating this media literacy into their instruction.

Media Literacy is important but after you have everything else together in the school. For example if the school has been failing a non-media taken test, then hopefully we would want to focus more on the core curriculum. The 3 Rs as Dan Rather likes to put it. If the school hasn’t had these things to take care of then why worry about that when the learning of our youth is going down the drain, because kids are watching too much t.v., playing on the computer, video games. Not saying that is what the media will be used for in the school, but lets teach the kids to pick up a book and read it a be able to understand and converse about the book. I also understand the point of using the media in the school, but to show kids how to write a paper on the computer. But like I stated earlier you can’t teach a kid how to write on the computer if they can’t read and write on a piece of paper. First we as a nation have to focus on the basics before trying to advance too fast and move backward instead of forward.

Being able to properly analyze and interpret today’s media (no matter what the medium) is impotant, but do we really need a seperate class that just specifically teaches that one skill? To me, such a skill should be combined already in social studies and literature classes. Maybe students aren’t realizing it, but a lot of teachers already incorporate critical thinking into subjects when they ask you, “What does this text mean?” or “What can you learn from what you just saw?”

I guess some people just aren’t naturally learning how to interpret what they see in the right way or in the most appropriate way and that is what is causing this isssue. So, should learning how to interpret media be a subject all it’s own? I don’t think so because it’s already being incorporated in the classes we already have. It’s more work crammed into an already rushed curriculum.

The youth of our country is always affected by media literacy even if not in direct contact. Adolescence is a very influential time. When at that age you are affected by almost any media literacy. I do believe that it should be taught in school to prevent future generations from making the same mistake. We should start teaching our youth at middle school. Due to the fact, that the younger a person is, the more influential they are. Another reason that this should be taught is that if it is not required, then the chances of someone actually learning it is slim to none.

Today most kids and teens are computer literate. Most of us engage in some kind of media while on a computer or during something else. But on regular home computer media production tools are limited. We create our dance video, do some music production and edit and create pictures but thats about it. And most kids dont even relize thats media productions.I think for kids to care about media someone has to put emphasis on it. Because we have a brocasting and all the media classes but we dont take them because we want to. We take them to get out of other classes or because we have to. again this because we as teens dont really care to much for media because no one has educated us on it and it inportance. I think this needs to taking care of in the near future because media is a big part of the future.

I don’t think there should be a class in school dedicated to the teaching of media literacy. Especially because teens in today’s society can adapt better to using new technology better than teens in past generations. By adding another class, we are creating more of a distraction from the core classes(math, science, social studies,and english).We should focus on academics. The 3 R’s. By creating this media literacy class, we are moving backwards, not forwards.

As a matter of fact, there is no problem with media literacy. Teenagers today can figure out how to do almost anything with some technology. For example, when a teen gets a new phone, what is the first thing that they do? I know for a fact that they immediately start to press buttons. Eventually they will figure out how to use the phone on their own, without the manual. If there were to be a media literacy class in the schools, it would be treated just like the cell phone. They would start doing anything and eventually figure out what to do on their own, without the manual.

So what’s with all the sudden activity? :-) I’m really enjoying this. Are you using this post as a class assignment? Are you students or teachers - or both?

KT, I think you’re confusing technology literacy with media literacy. Tech literacy is knowing which buttons to press and using the tools. Media literacy is understanding the messages you’re consuming and knowing whether you’re being mislead or manipulated or whether they have bias.

It is an excellent idea to educate teens in media literacy. But this would be a tough subject to lecture on. It may not be effective in avoiding the society from being mislead by media.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m assuming from the article that Dan Rather believes that society as a whole can separate media that is beneficial from media that is misleading. I agree with Dan Rather in this statement.
Dan Rather acknowledged the power of Media by mentioning the Triumph of Will. I think that the Triumph of Will had such an effect because many people were vulnerable at the time and not able to think for themselves, they depended on others (with higher power) to make decisions for them. They did not rely on themselves to form opinions and make decisions.

Society, especially teenagers have changed since then, everyone has their own beliefs, opinions, and ideas of how to better society. Media is poignant of individual opinions and that is what causes disagreement. Blogs are a way to express ones opinion. It is assumed that anything written in a blog is prone to the readers questioning. Teenagers can generally tell opinions from fact.

Yes, there are the few who rely on the media to generate ideas and things of the sort. But media literacy may not be something that can be taught effectively. The society just has to use their common sense. It’s like teaching children how to learn right from wrong. They can only learn from experience. By experience, I mean interaction with media. Not only, making media, but analyzing it. Critically thinking about the media, and taking from it what is beneficial and only that.

Critical thinking cannot be taught in a class room. This is a quandary that the individual must look into. The society should be made aware that there is misleading media, and aware of the tactics the media may use to sway your opinion on things. But it is up to the individuals to teach themselves how to distinguish right from wrong.

And What can we say, Mr. Carvin? Your article is really thought provoking. We appreciate your article. I never really thought of analyzing media like that. I just kinda watched it for entertainment, not relying on it to make drastic decisions for me. Maybe other’s do, I can’t speak for them. Reading your article gave me awareness of the motives of media giants.

Thank you.

Thanks! I really appreciate it. And I’d love to hear more about your assignment - seriously. I may blog about it tomorrow.

Dan Rathers makes an excellent point when it comes to students, and people in general, that need to have a better understanding of the media. Since students already take courses in computer applications, its curriculum might as well include a portion of media literacy. This will prepare them for the future hours they will spend being glued to a computer or television set, reading and watching different styles and techniques of the media.

I think it would be a good idea to put Media Literacy in the schools curriculum. It could be a good way of teaching because now a days most kids “learn” from things they see and hear around them everyday. Since the media is everywhere, put that in the schools and a lot of kids would be more eager to learn because they’re being taught through something the pay much attention to.

Michael Logan
Ms. Petrusa
Pre AP Am. Lit.
I believe that being able to produce media literature is as important as being media literate. Children need to know the difference between fact and opinionated.

I believe that Mr. Rather has a smart but unlikely idea. I’m not saying on a small scale it would not work but, if he is looking for the educational department to actually make this mandatory, like the three R’s, then, I believe, he will be disappointed. Yes, some teachers will read this and think that it is the most innovative idea of this year and will incorporate it into their curriculum, but most educators probably wont take the time. Like one person said there are those teachers that teach only the standard curriculum the way it says to teach and never add any of their own incite into it. Then there are other teachers who try to incorporate daily life stories into their lesson plan, these are the teachers that are truly preparing you for the outside world; they are the ones who truly show you how to make it in business and how to succeed. It is these teachers, educators, that will probably add media literacy and leadership and even a little charming to their lessons!

I dont believe media literacy is necessary to be taught in schools today. Many young people today know how to use the internet, and all the bells and whistles that comes with that knowledge. There will always be something trying to corrupt your mind, and make you wonder, but so many people today say that they choose what they believe, and nothing can influence that, or so they claim, but in giving them the benefit of the doubt, media literacy would not need to be taught to a school of “them”. If a class were created, it would only be a waste of taxpayers’ dollars.

I agree that Media Literacy should be apart of the school cirriculum because it is becoming an important aspect of modern society just like reading, writing, and arithmetic. Also if the propper use of it is taught to students, then they wont abuse it. Kids now don’t seem to be so interested in the three R’, so this could be a new light for them. Media literacy could be a way to get kids more exited about literature and show them that its not just reading and writting but expanding it into something visual. Also, im not so great with it, but technology seems to be “the new thing”.
Some people think that it would be a waste of time but I think that it would be very beneficial to the cirriculum.

Even if you tried to prevent kids from making false statements on the internet; kids will find some way to avoid it, and will continue writing false news. As you have already said, the public has a very good indicator of news that is false or truthful. Incorporating media literacy in school will not change the ideas of students. After the class is over, the student will go home typing false statements on blogs, forgetting everything that they have learned. Children always forget something that they have learned, even things that their parents have told them. For example, parents tell their child not to do something, but the next day the child does what the parents said not to do. Furthermore, the educational department needs to focus on reading, writing, and math skills. Having numerous students who are not at the appropriate level for these critical skills needs to be resolved. I think you have a good idea, but it will have to be put on hold until more students have better scores in the reading, writing, and math.

I do not object to putting media literacy into the school’s curriculum, but I doubt it would do much good. A few people may actually learn from it, however I think that the majority of students would not be changed much by it. False messages are still going to be posted on the internet, I do not see any way to change that. I also agree that schools are having enough trouble teaching the essential subjects. Reading, writing, and math have to take priority over a class on media literacy.

I believe introducing any kind other technology into the class curriculum can be both good and bad. It can be good if your students understand that this method of teaching is a privilege, not a right. I think sometimes kids take advantage of certain things. However, using media literacy can help students comprehend what teachers are trying to teach them. Kids nowadays understand the television more than text books. Which brings me to the disadvantages; kids would move from books to television and internet. As long as students know the importance of books and technology, I don’t see a problem.

The idea of teaching students how to tell the difference between a good personal response and a unreputable one is really good. Students should be taught how to do this so that they won’t read something that completely doesn’t makes sense or is very opinionated! People that don’t really know about a topic would be at a real loss if they read a bad comment.

I think that should be offer media literacy in shcool. But at different levels and in different times. For example, high school students are more experienced in researching, so they would have a better understanding of it than middle schoolers. Middle schoolers learn more from television than from texts, like when i was in middle school, I watched TV more than i read or watched the news.

I agree with your point. Media literacy should be offered in schools. We are exposed to such high levels of propaganda that it’s become the “norm”. We should be able to separate the the truth from fallacy. Media has great power and could easily be abused. It’s as serious as brainwash. You see movies about kids and adults being brainwashed via technology and a lot of what is made in movies comes to surface in real life. As consumers, we have to be aware of the effects media has on what we buy, the choices we make, and the way we live. If we continue to look only on the surface of advertisements and the overall media, we will be sucked into a world of confusion; not being able to see the light of truth in the dark, smoggy world of media propaganda.

I disagree with Widly. I believe that Children always forget something that they have learned, even things that their parents have told them. For example, parents tell their child not to do something, but the next day the child does what the parents said not to do. Furthermore, the educational department needs to focus on reading, writing, and math skills. Having numerous students who are not at the appropriate level for these critical skills needs to be resolved. I think you have a good idea, but it will have to be put on hold until more students have better scores in the reading, writing, and math.

I hope you understand this disagreement.


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