Media Literacy Most Scholars Believe essay

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With regards to student multiple-skill development, Kellner proposes that computers should be at the center stage of learning. Students should be able to not only operate the computer but also use it to gather data from the Internet, communicate across classrooms and cultural boundaries. He argues that computers should be used dramatically to transform the circulation of knowledge, images, and other modalities of different cultures. Not only presence but also use of computers should be made mandatory in all secondary schools so that students can learn to think critically early on during their student life. He writes,

Students should learn new forms of computer literacy that involve both how to use computer culture to do research and gather information, as well as to perceive it as a cultural terrain which contains texts, spectacles, games, and interactive media. Moreover, computer culture is a discursive and political location in which they can intervene, engaging in discussion groups, creating their web sites, and producing new multimedia for cultural dissemination."

Other scholars argue that computers should only be part of the CML program. For instance, Chomsky (1997) writes that students are engaged with varied forms of media and each form has its own strengths and limitations. Understanding these limitations is critical in understanding the message being sold in that media. For case in point, television's primary purpose is providing entertainment and is therefore quite different from a non-fiction book. How television is shaping our lives and the meaning we assign to the events unfolding before us can only be understood by understanding how the message is sold through television. For instance, Goldstein while reviewing Postman book, "Amusing Ourselves to Death," writes,

Television, for Postman is inextricably linked with entertainment and is dangerous when it attempts to be serious. He argues that television has such resonance that our ability to take the world seriously has diminished. Postman believes a new 'worldview'; a new ethos or approach to life has been brought about by the assimilation of television into the culture of the masses."

CML can safeguard the youth against negative media bias

Similarly, scholars who have an interest in equipping the masses with CML, question whether CML should aspire to safeguard the adolescents and youth from the impact of negative media. For instance, Giroux (2005) believes that the current political climate is so persuasive that those who are not equipped with CML skills will become victims to the media propaganda machine. Similarly, Kincheloe (1999) believes that racism and promotion of white-supremacy has become a critical component of mainstream media. Similarly, others argue that gender inequalities, substance abuse and violence prevention can all be addressed by educating the masses through CML programs (Carnes, 1996; Jospin, 1992; Landa, 1992). In the same way, parents feel that the popular culture has made it difficult for them to control their children. Scholars who support CML believe that all these issues can be addressed is children learn to consume information actively and critically, instead of being passive consumers. However, there are those who oppose this viewpoint all together. For instance, Hobbs (2001) writes,

Many teachers at both the K12 and university levels have found that students are unresponsive to the idea that they are helpless victims of media influence who need to be rescued from the excesses and evils of their interest in popular culture."

Media production skills will lead to enhanced CML skills

Some scholars believe that until and unless students become actively involved in media production activities, they will be unable to fully grasp the concepts of CML. Students need to be engaged in pre-post production activities to strengthen their creative skills. For instance both Lambert (1997) and Fraser (1992) assert that students will be empowered and highly motivated when they are actively engaged in the learning process. They will learn to not only demonstrate and improve their vocational skills but also work on their vocational abilities. They will appreciate team work and learn to think both visually and orally throughout the planning, directing, editing and performing process (Lusted, 1991; Stafford, 1992).

On the contrary, those who oppose CML assert that such skills are secondary to reading and writing skill, which ultimately lead to growth of creativity and imagination. Offering children programs that require specialization will not develop their critical thinking skills. Hobbs (2001) writes,

According to this view, teaching media production to children or youth is a bogus type of vocational education that lures students with the claim of learning job skills when, in reality, students are distracted from learning the culturally valued skills of reading and writing."

Similarly, there are those who believe that spending resources and time on such exercises is futile. One cannot simply convert schools and classrooms into production houses. Hobbs (2001) explains,

The practical limitations of many production activities preclude their being offered to most elementary- and secondary-school students. For example, video and multimedia production often requires more equipment, classroom time, personnel, and teacher training than not is available in many schools."

Use of popular culture text will enhance literacy skills

Some scholars believe that if what students see and hear in everyday is provided to them within the realm of classroom to critically then they will be in a better position to go beyond the traditional meaning given to a subject. These scholars argue that information and knowledge is socially constructed. They feel that meaning and concepts are derived from experience both inside and outside the classrooms. Therefore, they make their case, CML skills can be taught by engaging students in not only the classical works in literature, theatre and films, but also in popular television programs like Beavis and Butthead or the Simpsons (Dewing, 1992; Giroux, 1994).

Texts from popular culture may challenge and disrupt the routines of the classroom and provide opportunities for teachers and students to discuss epistemological issues relevant to students' growing understanding of the processes involved in learning and communication (Hobbs, 2001)."

Those who oppose the use of popular culture in classrooms to equip students with CML skills argue, "Schools, at all levels, are constituted to devalue popular culture, including its electronically mediated forms" (Aronowitz and Giroux, 1991, p. 153).

Similarly, they argue that certain media characters, even though aimed at children entertainment, negatively influence adolescent behavior. Characters like Simpsons and the ever popular MTV Beavis and Butthead are not the ideal personalities that should be taught in class. Hobbs (2001) explains,

Other educators, however, wonder how an average parent might respond if his or her 10th-grade son or daughter came home from school talking about a classroom lesson that compared an episode of the Simpsons to a Mark Twain short story."

Politics and ideology should be part of the CML programs number of scholars believe that CML can advance a number of goals, both ideological and political. For instance, CML can be used to modify the inflexible public schools and transform its bureaucracy. It can help put an end to the media sponsorship in schools. Furthermore, parents, teachers and students alike can together support a more strict regulation on media. Similarly, CML can also be used to promote racial harmony, decrease sexism, and prevent violence and homophobia. These scholars argue, "Without an explicit connection between media literacy skills and social and political advocacy, media literacy may degenerate into a substitute for action instead of a spur to it (K. Montgomery, personal communication, April 24, 1997; as cited in Hobbs, 2001)"

However, there are those who oppose this notion of CML as they believe that the whole purpose of CML was to educate the students about how messages are constructed and invite them to ask critical questions. They believe that any political message will alter the purpose of CML. Instead they argue that CML, if used correctly, will alter the relationship structure inside the classroom. Since students will learn to consume information critically, the teacher will not be the sole source of knowledge. Buckingham (1993) writes,

Students may respond to the propagandist approach of... teachers in one or two ways. Either they will choose to play the game in which case they may learn to reproduce the "politically correct" responses without necessarily investigating or questioning their own position. Or they will refuse to do so, in which case they will say things they may or may not believe, in order to annoy the teacher and thereby amuse themselves. (p. 290)"

CML in primary and secondary schools

It is without doubt that schools are the most important of all the social institutions in the country. They have a clear purpose and goal and the methodology to achieve it. However, CML programs are currently unclear and imprecise and therefore many scholars argue that CML skills can be best taught to students by their parents in their homes (Messaris, 1996). Furthermore, schools have yet to outline their relationship with the current multimedia technologies and their usage. Therefore, introducing CML programs in primary and secondary schools, in view of some educators, will turn out to be a disaster…[continue]

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