Think about it. Is there a media lesson for you:
Perhaps the reason more teachers do not take advantage of these free-for-the-taking lessons is that they feel they have not been trained to be media teachers as they were trained to teach geography, or reading, or multiplication. But lack of training does not have to be a drawback. It might be OK for us to approach media as an area for constant investigation, exploration and discovery. After all, there are few parts of our world which shift and change as fast as the media. It would be very difficult to create a definitive body of knowledge about media education that would not be out of date before it got into print. Maybe we can afford sometimes to allow the students to be in the know when we are in the dark; to be the experts when we are the neophytes; to be the leaders while we do some following. Instead of focusing on the fast-shifting content and knowledge of media, we could use media as a way of engaging students in working on outcomes that are vital to the whole curriculum. Try this list for size:
As an added exercise, check out the list against provincial curricula and ask yourself if it doesn’t just about fill the bill. Media education can be used as an ideal way of integrating the content of traditional subject areas, or of casting a new light on a traditional subject area.
The language teacher might be interested in having students analyze different newspapers and their articles to understand which ones are written in the most accessible, least biased, most objective language. Students could learn valuable lessons about readability, loaded vocabulary and rhetoric just by studying the newspapers: lessons that would pay off in making them not only better readers and writers, but better informed citizens, too.
The history teacher might look not just at the events of history, but also at how historical events are reported, and how our understanding of history and current events is influenced by media.
The science teacher might be interested in helping students understand why ecological, or conservation news is hard to locate in mainstream press.
The family studies, guidance, or family life education teachers could teach valuable lessons simply by counting the number of males and females shown in different roles in different ways in different media. For instance, if you were to collect the front pages from a month’s issues of business sections of various newspapers, how many pictures or stories would feature women, children or people of colour?
The health and physical education teacher might be able to make a lesson out of the relationship between the ban on tobacco advertising and the surprising number of characters in today’s TV and movies who are seen with cigarettes in their mouths and hands. Even doctors!
The music teacher might be able to investigate the influence of music TV and popular radio on students’ musical taste and consumption.
The teacher of law or civics might be able to scrape a lesson or two out of the media coverage of famous trials; the different approaches taken in Canada and the USA to media coverage of trials; and the way the public gets confused over the difference.
The list could go on, but you get the idea, I’m sure. Media education is a friendly entree into many a traditional area of study, and a natural way of showing the connections among those areas. Modern students are just dripping with media experience, but may be lacking some of the savvy needed to make sense of the experience. Media education is not about teaching kids how to watch TV, but about using the media to help kids make sense of the world around them, and to help them be better learners themselves. It’s about developing savvy.