This paper introduces the special issue.
This chapter offers a brief history of the field along with an attempt to define media literacy and offer a rationale for its inclusion in the American public school curriculum. Part I of the yearbook, on the whole, deals with why media literacy can make a difference in American schools. Part II, on the whole, deals with the implementation of media literacy, in and outside the public schools, and the problems facing those who aim to implement it. Media literacy is not without its opponents and its issues. Still, despite differences in theory, focus, and experiences, the contributors to this volume demonstrate their belief in the power of media literacy to transform curriculum, teaching, and even society.
Much has been written about the power of media to influence
the public through instruments of advertising and a variety of venues (Considine & Haley, 1999; Cortés, 2000; Kilbourne, 1999). In this chapter, I have chosen to use a singular media focus—news—to support the critical importance of teaching media literacy skills to students. I offer analyses of, in particular, news reports about the United Nations World Conference Against Racism (UN WCAR) in 2001 and media representations of terrorism and Muslims since September 2001, to underscore the need for critical thinking skills and media education.
To begin to unravel the challenges and dilemmas that these information technologies and media thrust upon parents, teachers, and schools, I present in this chapter arguments to support a school curriculum that might forge a life of justice as well as develop a rational, analytical, and critical understanding of media texts that students use in classrooms and in out-of-school contexts. First, I begin by laying out the rationale for why media literacy matters in schools. Second, I propose that teachers consider teaching critical media literacy as a process of curriculum inquiry or critical pedagogy that permeates the entire school curriculum to address the new languages of the media that have become the lived experience of many young people. Third, I outline examples of established criteria for questioning media texts or what I call analytical frameworks for critical media literacy education, and I offer examples of classroom activities based on these frameworks.
The mass media teach whether or not mediamakers intend to or realize it. And users learn from the media whether or not they try or are even aware of it. This means all of the media, including newspapers, magazines, movies, television, radio, and the new cyberspace media. Such media serve as informal yet omnipresent nonschool textbooks.
This chapter reviews ongoing educational initiatives in media literacy documented in the emerging body of case study and practitioner literature and identifies those (few) empirical studies that have measured the effects of media literacy instruction on students’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, with particular focus on health education, social studies, English language arts, communication arts, and the fine and performing arts. These subject areas have been identified as having the most frequent reference to media literacy in state curriculum documents (Kubey & Baker, 1999). From this, recommendations are presented that may help scholars and practitioners to develop this emerging field by exploring questions deserving of further research.
Since the beginning of recorded history, the concept of “literacy” meant having the skill to interpret “squiggles” on a piece of paper as letters which, when put together, formed words that conveyed meaning. Teaching the young to put the words together to understand (and, in turn, express) ever more complex ideas became the goal of education as it evolved over the centuries.
In this chapter, I explore these strategies for teaching and learning along with the challenges they present, and examine how they so powerfully develop students’ intellectual, cultural, and social capacities. Using EVC’s fall 2003 semester Documentary Workshop as a window into these issues, I draw upon tapes recording students at work, as well as on interviews with their teachers and with graduates of the program reflecting back on the long-term impact of their learning. Whenever possible, I listen to the students’ voices for insight into the practices and principles of critical literacy.
Media literacy has all the problems of a young field—becoming visible in the academic world, acquiring credibility among educators and others, developing a strong research base, and finding funding. Scholars and practitioners of media literacy come from diverse disciplines and advocate diverse points of view regarding the purposes and methods of media literacy. Teacher certification in media literacy is rare, almost nonexistent. Implementing media literacy in the schools is especially challenging in the United States, a large, diverse, and educationally isolated country in which curriculum traditionally has not been centralized and in which popular arts have not been taken seriously (Kubey, 1998). In this final chapter, we examine some of the major obstacles and issues that face media literacy educators, and we speculate about the future.
Media literacy research is no longer comparable to the early Wright Brothers creations; actually, it is more akin to a jet plane as it taxis toward the runway. Researching media literacy is one of the most important, exciting, and intriguing intellectual experiences available to scholars, regardless of whether they consider themselves to be “text dominant” or “media dominant,” and regardless of their disciplinary home, as imagery-laden electronic media and print reach into every corner of every discipline. Research in media literacy luxuriates in rich possibilities, but it also has its pitfalls.
Today we are all bombarded with powerful images, words, and sounds from various media, designed to win our hearts and minds. As adults, we have life’s experiences, the advantages of age, and often higher education as filters to help us navigate these powerful messages. Young people, at very confusing times in their lives, are trying to figure out who they are and what the world is about. How can we, as adults, help young people figure out the impact of media on their decision making, and how can we help them to use the lens of skepticism to be sure they maintain control over their life’s choices? An analytical approach to evidence is essential with the mass media.
As both a parent and an experienced teacher, I have found media literacy to be an invaluable tool that I use to teach values and critical thinking skills. I have two preteen daughters whose media consumption is constantly increasing. As their mother, I am deeply concerned about their interpretations of the value messages they receive. I have taught upper elementary and intermediate school for 15 years, with the majority of those years in fifth grade. Like all teachers, I have struggled at times to keep my students motivated and interested in the curriculum. Incorporating media literacy into the curriculum has enabled me to not only keep my students interested, but to also develop their critical thinking skills.
We are living in incredible times. For only the second time in
human history a major piece of the concept of what it means to be literate is shifting. The first major shift involved the “who,” as in “who should be literate?” That shift began in the 16th century with the invention of the printing press. Because the printing press made mass media possible, it ultimately changed expectations about who needed to be literate. We went from a world where no one expected more than a few professional scribes and clerics to be able to read and write, to our current world, where we assume that everyone needs to master those skills.
Suggestions for broader participation and greater efficiency in the peer review process while preserving quality and legitimacy.
Fairness and justice in collaborative authorship practice.
A detailed analysis of a sample first paragraph of a thesis
As the contributors in this volume indicate, textbooks are both an enduring feature and a present problem of great magnitude as we continue to think about improving the quality of education in this country. It is our hope that this yearbook will not only present a review of the issues of the present but also point directions for research and development in the future, and thus be another benchmark in scholarship on the textbook.
The textbooks of a school, a district, or a state approves or uses are often the only symbols of what schools at large do. As a result, almost all concern about the curriculum finds its focus in concern about the textbooks used and this, in turn, leads to discussion of the developers and distributors of those texts—authors and publishers. But one often unnoticed by-product of this form of argument is the assumption that the source of control of what schools do is not in the hands of teachers and communities but, rather, in the hands of an industry which, as I will emphasize here, is profit-seeking. However, as I will argue, while it is the case that textbook publishers are in practice the only "national" agency with a presence as large-scale, nationally directed curriculum developers, it is not clear that these publishers have either an effective capability for this work or the authority they would need do it effectively.
To understand how the materials of instruction, and especially the textbook, evolved during the 1930s and 1940s, it is necessary to understand the context of educational theory out of which they emerged. The textbooks and other materials used in the classroom during this period were profoundly influenced by the Progressive movement in education, which had taken on that name at the beginning of the century.
During this postwar period, the standard American public school curriculum met its greatest challenge in the federally funded, subject-oriented curriculum projects of the late 1960s and early 1970s. While textbooks reflected but had not yet come to exemplify that curriculum, they too were greatly influenced by these projects. This chapter describes how the challenge to curriculum and textbooks was met by the emergence of nationally marketed, multigrade textbook programs that became the dominant shapers of the curriculum.
We will be concerned in this chapter with ways in which educational research has influenced the development of textbooks, how educational research findings have affected what authors and publishers of textbooks have produced, and also how research findings have affected the preferences of those who select and use textbooks.
In this chapter I emphasize the various influences that come into play when a textbook is produced. These influences make textbooks different, and all too often make them more similar than different. Slightly different factors influence each of the several stages of textbook development.
This chapter deals primarily with elementary basal textbook publishing, namely publishing in the basic subjects of reading, language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies for kindergarten through the eighth grade.
While each niche publisher's story is different, there are important similarities in many of the stories, most of which are laced with a certain Horatio Alger flavor. We present here a hypothetical history of a niche publisher—a history that is a composite of several actual stories.
Close to forty educational publishers generated sales of instructional materials of around $1.7 billion to American public and private schools in 1987. In addition, many smaller publishers offered supplementary items, so total education sales were close to $2 billion.
Present-day Americans are ambivalent about the degree to which politics should mix with education and public schools, so they may be offended when politics influence what their children read in school. The three-hundred-year-old system of education in the United States, however, clearly commits the important policy decisions about schools and about school books to the political system. Politics affects where money is spent for textbooks, which textbooks are selected and which are censored, and therefore, which books are published, bought, and read.