Stoddard (2014) raises the the question of whether the new media have in fact contributed to a less democratic society, functioning as a technological mouthpiece for the Powers That Be rather than for citizens in general. The question is relevant indeed and might be said to espouse the same train of thought addressed in one of my previous blog posts, Public involvement in social media – are we merely pawns on a capitalist chessboard?
Whereas my earlier blog post focused on capitalist interests and the necessity of analysing what or who these are and how they impact us, Goddard asks whether media education, especially in the US, is lagging behind in preparing students for a life of active citizenship. He makes several valid points relating to the empowerment of young learners, emphasizing the necessity of developing critical literacy, i.e., being able to critically analyse all media texts in context in order to understand their nature. In short, it’s about being able to take a peek behind the curtains and learn how to utilize the new media to influence and persuade others while working for equality and social justice (Stoddard, 2014, p. 5).
A wee bit sceptical about who’s really pulling the strings? You bet I am. I favour a true demoCATcy, you know!
To achieve this, students must be taught how to communicate efficiently and how to make the best possible use of the various media. The basic skills in the subject of English (and other subjects) outlined in the Norwegian national curriculum (LK06) include digital skills. Emphasizing inter alia “being able to use a varied selection of digital tools, media and resources to assist in language learning, to communicate in English […]” (Utdanningsdirektoratet), the Norwegian curriculum might appear to be more in sync with a rapidly evolving digital world than what is the case in the US.
The right to pick up the pen (sorry – keyboard!) to influence public opinion constitutes one of the cornerstones of any democracy. Teaching our students how to utilize the implements available to them to exert their full rights as citizens – that’s what empowerment is all about.
Stoddard, J. (2014). The Need for Media Education in Democratic Education. Democracy and Education, 22 (1), Article 4.
Utdanningsdirektoratet. The National Curriculum for Knowledge Promotion (LK06) – English subject curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.udir.no/kl06/eng1-03/Hele/Grunnleggende_ferdigheter/?lplang=eng
Photo: Private – my beloved little black panther, Dina. Rest in peace.