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The Benefits Of Teaching Critical Media Literacy

2388 words - 10 pages

We live in an ever-changing world. Our society evolves each day, and in doing so renders certain standards and paradigms obsolete. The field of communications serves as an example of this evolution. For a long time, this sector was dominated by print media. Newspapers, magazines, and letters functioned as the primary methods of information delivery. Within recent years, however, the field of communications has experienced the emergence of a new phenomenon: the internet. The internet has altered greatly the way in which information is delivered and presented. Both interpersonal communications and news stories now can be published and accessed instantaneously. These advances have had a definite impact on all realms of society, especially the one in which we function: education. As educators, we must confront the fact that ours in no longer a culture dominated by print media. We must recognize the impact, importance, and prevalence of multimedia. The dominance of multimedia outlets such as television, the internet, and film has been well-documented in recent years. As teachers, we must accept the fact that our students have grown up in a world dominated by technology. For them, multimedia forms are a central part of everyday life. This means that schools can no longer afford to ignore the impact that technology has on its students. We must adjust our pedagogical approach in order to address the role of technology and multimedia in modern education.

One important adjustment that needs to be made involves recognition of the fact that learning can and does occur outside of school boundaries. Students can accumulate knowledge and new ideas while doing something as simple as reading a magazine or watching television. Studies have shown that the average high school senior has spent more time sitting in front of the television than sitting in a school desk. In fact, the average 18 year old student has viewed more than 350,000 advertisements in his lifetime (Semali 13). Each one of those commercials offers the viewer a small piece of knowledge. When you take the time to factor in the impact of those 350,000 pieces of knowledge, it is not difficult to understand why many people believe that most of a student’s learning takes place outside of school. The aforementioned statistics illustrate how prevalent the media has become in the lives of teenagers. Having recognized this prevalence, we as educators must then address the role played by the media within the daily existence of students.

Contrary to traditional educational dogma, it is indeed the job of the teacher to provide students with the skills needed to function in a society dominated by the media. We need to help them develop the ability to understand both traditional and non-traditional modes of communication. By this, I mean that students must be able to explore, critique, and interpret both classic literature and television...

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