Critical Media Literacy symposium thoughts pt 2; Untangling education and training

I wrote earlier in the week about some of the speeches and reports at the mediaforum symposium on critical media literacy. I’d like to come back to that today with some more thoughts. I can’t promise that they’re better than the ones I had earlier, but they did take longer for me to come up with them.

Dr. Looney’s contribution told us what we can expect from the national curriculum body- that is, nothing. To acknowledge the value of CML would be to accept the principle that somehow teaching children how to extract meaning from what they are told ought to be worked towards. By rejecting this principle, the curriculum bods avoid having to consider the difficult practicalities of how to integrate a novel subject into the teaching day.

That works well for them, but not so well for children and eventually, as CML is such a vital part of making sure we can have informed debate, it won’t go so well for society as a whole.

So, let’s accept as a given that children ought to be given a toolkit for a media-mediated life. What would that toolkit look like?

One of the symposium’s most interesting points of view came from an IT teacher at second level. He stood up from the audience after a period where various commercial services (Bebo, Facebook et al) were being discussed. Tellingly, the person who knew most about these services was the least interested in discussing them. He recognised that these are fleeting services and that far from needing to give children training in how to use them (something they will work out faster than their teachers) educators needed to step back and give children the ability to think about what these services, and the rest of their media landscape, mean.

It’s behind that confusion- between training and education- that Dr. Looney and the NCCA hide.


  • The more I read and think about what the NCCA rep said, the more I feel like Charlie Brown. Forever crying “Auuughh” and “Oh Good GRIEF”.

    Once children (or adults for that matter) have access to a tidal wave of information and opinion then it is imperative that they be given some tools or frameworks which will let them if not ‘surf’ the wave, at least keep their heads above water and an eye on dry land. Otherwise we’ll wind up with a generation of flat-earthers because “bebo said it was”.
    And then they’ll become journalists…
    …and bloggers…
    ….and critical reasoning will be lost…

    The NCCA’s position is akin to saying that you don’t need to mind your children because the TV does it for you. (flick on purple dinosaur, check in when they’re 20 or so).

  • […] Curriculum Gatekeepers are hostile See my previous thoughts on Dr. Anne Looney’s response to the Media Forum Symposium’s call for Media Literacy […]

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