Questioning Media Literacy
After exploring media and technology issues with kids for these few weeks, it's likely you have some deeper thinking about the strengths and limitations of media literacy as an educational practice, based on your experience. What questions, issues and concerns have been raised by your experience in this program? What are some research questions that you are interested in?

Learning Curve
As a result of this experience, you probably recognize that you need to know more and continue to develop your skills. What do you want to learn more about as a result of your experience in this program? What skills do you want to continue to develop?

I had a highlight on Tuesday. We were standing at the door of "master control" at the Fox 29 Studios on 4th and Market. The Orange team, the Green team, and the Silver team were there together, learning about how news is made and what technologies are used to do so. Our generous tour guide, Remi, was explaining the master control room: "This room is where EVERYTHING comes through! anything that goes on the air has to come through here first and foremost to be edited and to be watched to make sure that there are no curse words or things that can't be on air." And right then, Cobay turned to me and said, "Omit." He learned something and he learned it so well that he was excited to use it.
So when I think about media literacy as an educational practice, all I can think is - Yes! Of course! There is no other way. I think about it in the same way that I think about multicultural programs, about Institutes for Native American or African American studies, about Women's Studies departments: ultimately, all these separate tracks should be integrated into the standard curriculum. As academics interested in bettering communities, interested in social change, our goals should be to expand standard curricula to include women's studies, to include writings and thinking by persons of color, to include deep engagement with various media sources.

But I can understand some of the reticence. I can understand that teachers may not feel prepared. I mean, I myself am in a film program and I was very intimidated at the beginning of this camp because I had to plug a computer into a wall or kept thinking to myself, "my gosh how am I ever going to set up a projector by myself!" So I can understand teachers might feel a bit incompetent, not trained to take on the technology. Or worse yet, they may feel they are not trained to take on these larger isseus - such as, what do I do when studnets are google searching and they find images of naked bodies? What do I tell them? How do I talk to them about this in a way that will help them to learn, or is it better that they never see things like this at all? How can I show a Beyonce video in class knowing that the boys are going to be oogling over her body? How can I, a teacher untrained in media literacy, a teacher who does not necessarily know which questions to ask of students, how can I talk to these students about bodies and women and objectification? How can I teach young people what "objectify" or "sensationalism" means when I myself oftentimes only have an intuitive understanding of it? And how I find the time to study enough media ed literature to learn the language with which to speak to these youth when I don't have time enough to work on writing viable lesson plans and getting enough rest so that I have the energy to keep them in line and discipline them well enough so that they do not break any bones when they are on an ice cream break...?

How can I talk to one about the Demi Lovato videos she's watching on youtube while speaking to the other about the Jeremiah "Birthday Sex" video she's singing out loud while talking to the other about how to carefully search through google images. How too do we bring all this into a school environment in which students have already been taught that youtube is something to hide from their teachers? How can we teach them to be critical of media when they feel like they have to hide their youtube videos when Mrs. Hadgis walks in and sees them watching these videos? What questions can we ask? When do we censor? How do we decide which videos to be able to watch and discuss and which ones to leave behind? What is the line between appropriate and inappropriate educational materials? What is the line between censorship and protection? And how do we begin to explore these issues in a classroom that resides wtihin a pre-existing institution with a pre-existing administration that has pre-existing rules and structures that have been entrenched over a long period of time and has certain expectations of classroom and teacher behavior....how do we begin to discuss these issues about censorship and appropriateness, especially knowing that to engage with these issues would mean making some mistakes and not always doing things right and sometimes showing things that maybe shouldn't be shown or allowing students to select to work with songs that maybe should not be used in a classroom...?

So yes, I can understand some of the reticence. But what I cannot understand is the resistance. I am experiencing this myself in planning my youth media workshops for Iranian American youth -a complete lack of interest in teaching young people how to critically think about media. As if media does not matter. As if all that matters is getting into a good college and becoming an engineer and learning to think and write through reading and writing and all the things that make people feel or seem learned, all which does not include media and pop culture, even though media and pop culture are both so central to where students learn about who they are, about what makes them "cool,l" about how to speak, about what to value, about how to dance, how to dress, how to select boyfriends and girlfriends, how to behave in college, how to speak, how to meet people, how to spend their free time...