Both articles for this week discuss critical media literacy and focus on the need for this in education and the curriculum. However, Kellner and Share argue that critical media literacy is required for students to become active participants in democratic society whereas Luke et al. are more concerned with the ethics of digital culture. In previous weeks we have discussed how production pedagogy puts student as the creators and I think that critical literacies aims to do the same thing. If students can move past passively receiving information towards actively constructing their own work and opinions, the world of possibilities (including being active participants and creators) is endless.
Kellner and Share argue that critical media literacy requires an expansion of the current definition of literacy to include different forms of media and that critical media literacy needs to be incorporated into all levels of education from pre-school to university. The authors explore four approaches to media education: protectionist, value of aesthetic and creative capabilities in art and media, the media literacy movement, and critical media literacy. Critical media literacy is the approach that they propose, but it incorporates aspects of the other three models. Interestingly, their approach to critical media literacy is based on how they want students to become active participants in a democratic society. The authors suggest that critical media literacy is necessary for students to have agency, to understand texts, to create their own meanings and identities, and criticize all types of literacies.
Luke, Sefton-Green, Graham, Kellner and Ladwig explore the main questions of ethics in digital culture and argue that curriculum needs to be changed so that it focuses on critical digital literacies. The authors discuss the public moral panic about digital youth and the shift for schooling to focus on the investigation of digital communications of current issues such as surveillance, privacy, and political and economic control and ownership. They suggest three foundational claims for schooling based on ideology, political economy of communications, and on normative model of digital culture. Finally, they say that the heart of their argument is that education needs to realize that students are creators of their worlds or digital realities as they say, not consumers.
Critical Response and Take Away Points
I have always been fascinated by media and the ways that information and ideas are circulated. Digital media has literally transformed how information is created and consumed. The articles discuss how it is no longer OK for educators to shy away from digital texts since they are legitimate and mass distributed texts. Furthermore, as Luke et al. discuss, it is no longer good enough to only discuss or examine the audience (i.e. the student’s) response to texts (digital or otherwise). Both articles urge educators and education in general to focus on critically examining digital/media texts including the context, the messages, owners and creators of the texts, and ideologies.
Students deserve and need to be well-informed of the digital texts that they are consuming – including how power, control, ideologies, and contexts are attached to these digital texts. Moreover, as students become creators as well as consumers, it becomes even more important for them to be aware of ethical considerations and what it means to be (well-informed) participants in society.
Instead of students responding like this to media:
Hopefully with critical media literacy, students might be able to respond more like this:
(after researching and developing a critical opinion about the topic).
Additionally, Luke et al. put forth the idea that education simply needs to focus on the same issues that were prevalent in print texts – political concerns, social actions, truth and untruth, morality, and citizenship, just moving these ideas to digital texts. I think that putting it this context might make it easier for educators to understand not only why it is important to utilize critical media literacy, but also how to do so. I think that most educators are comfortable examining print texts, so to apply those same ideas to digital texts is not that big of a leap. Perhaps I am completely in left field, perhaps educators are not comfortable discussing ideas of who controls the media, ideologies, control etc. with print texts so to transfer those ideas to digital texts will still be incredibly foreign. However, I think that there has been this shift of literacies especially in relation to power and control with media outlets that educators have a duty to express and explore with students. As the world becomes more connected, students deserve to understand and become critical of these literacies and texts around them.
Critical media literacy expands the notion of literacy to include different forms of mass communication and popular culture as well as deepens the potential of education to critically analyze relationships between media and audiences, information and power. It involves cultivating skills in analyzing media codes and conventions, abilities to criticize stereotypes, dominant values, and ideologies, and competencies to interpret the multiple meanings and messages generated by media texts (Kellner and Share, 2007, p.4).
“It is no longer sufficient to construct curriculum in preparation for later life. It is no longer sufficient for children to learn about decisions adults make for the planet they will inherent…It is their world already” (Kellner and Share, 2007, p. 16).
Critical media literacy not only teaches students to learn from media, to resist media manipulation, and to use media materials in constructive ways, but it is also concerned with developing skills that will help create good citizens and that will make individuals more motivated and competent participants in social life (Kellner and Share, 2007, p. 16).
Our position is that digital ethics – the normative principles for action and interaction in digital environments – cannot be addressed through a listing of prohibitions for what kids can and cannot do online (Luke et al.., 2016, p. 5).
In other words, the new kinds of social actions, political concerns, participatory dynamics made possible by the internet have not erased but rather reframed and negated classical debates around the relationship of truth to untruth, right and wrong and what it means to be a citizen in democratic societies. These things still count – and how they count in a digital culture should be at the core of the curriculum (Luke et al., 2016, p. 15).