Media Literacy in the Classroom
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Media literacy is defined as "the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate messages in a variety of forms" (Know TV). In more practical terms, media literacy means questioning the media and interpreting its many messages accordingly. Students are exposed to mass quantities of media on a daily basis. They watch television and movies, read books, newspapers, and magazines, listen to music, and in more recent years explore the Internet. This extreme exposure to media outlets leads to the need for education about the media. Media literacy is one way to help educate students about issues in which they are already actively engaged. Media literacy should be implemented into school curriculums as a beneficial learning tool for all students.
There are a number of important reasons to educate students about media literacy in the classroom. First and foremost, media dominate the political and cultural lives of the majority of Americans in the United States. Secondly, media strongly influences values and behaviors. Furthermore, media goes beyond personal and direct experiences. Media also has the ability to influences us subconsciously. In addition, media literacy can increase our enjoyment of the media. Due to the enormous impact media plays in the lives of citizens, media literacy must develop into an integral component of school curriculum.
The first argument for media literacy deals with the notion that media plays a dominant role in politics and culture. Media help citizens to understand the complex problems within society. The job of the media is to inform the public; however, it is the job of the public to decipher the messages being sent through the media. This is where the problems begin. The public often misinterprets these messages, signifying an overt confidence in the media. Too often, people do not question or challenge the views media presents to us and simply accept the views at face value. Politicians rely on this during campaign elections. The popularity of negative advertisements depreciating opposition parties has grown tremendously over the years because they are often successful. The public embraces the negative media messages, then votes accordingly. Oftentimes, people do not even know they have been acted-upon by the media.
Media literate people do not have quite as much trouble interpreting similar messages, for they are aware of the pervasive nature of the media. Media literacy courses allow people to hone their critical thinking skills and make informed decisions. These people are able to distinguish between fact and fiction, or at least recognize the differentiation between the two. They are able to examine the messages supplied to them by the media and in turn come to more knowledgeable decisions concerning politics and culture in society. They are able to see that the media simply represent the political arena from one viewpoint and that there may...