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Political conscientization and media (il)literacy: Critiquing the mainstream media as a form of democratic engagement

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MULTICULTURAL
EDUCATION
,
Introduction
People with high levels
of media literacy
will have
a better
understanding
o{'the
q'orld,
adopt
a position,
nrake
their own
conclusions,
discern
truth f'ron ficti<rn,
not follorv
trends, and can have a better
opinion
and
judgment
on critical issues.
On the other hand people
with low
levels
of nedia literacy
will be vulnerable,
af-
fected,
impressed,
and will have
conflicts
when digesting
the information
they
receive.
(Jack,
a teaclter-participant
in
the researclt)
During a time of globalized tur-
bulence, or "permanent war" as Peter
Mclaren (2007) has described the quest
for neoliberal hegemony, is it fair to ask
if there is any pertinence to the media in
relation to education?
Is the patriotic fer-
vor of the intense drum-beat of conformity
(Westheimer, 2007) too overwhelming for
there to be any meaningful learning ex-
periences
from and about the media? Are
educators themselves critically engaged
in using, dissecting, and translating the
media in the classroom
(Giroux, 1988)?
Do the media connect with education in
any substantive way that offers hope for
critical engagen.rent
(Macedo, 2006)? In
sum, what can be learned from the inter-
play between the mainstream media and
education?
These questions,
which are the focus
of this article, are important because a
fundamental part ofcdtical and engaged
learning is the quest for political literacy,
which, necessarily, involves
media literacy
(Carr, 2008;
Hoechsmann,
2006). If edu-
Paul
R. Carr
is
an asslsfanl
professor
in
the Depalment of Educational Foundations
of the Beeghly
College of Education
at Youngstown
State University,
Younqstown,
Ohio.
cators are ill-informed, discouraged, and
u'eakly supported in promoting critical dis-
cussions, analysis, and action in relation
to the rnedia, then there will be clear im-
plications for democracy
(Mcl,aren, 2007).
Therefore, the process
leading to political
engagement and political literacy, what
Freire (1970)
labels as
conscientization.is.
or should be, an important component to
achieving a more robust and meaningful
democratic experience
in education (Lund
& Carr,2008).
From a pedagogical vantage-point,
little can be gained from avoiding a vigor-
ous and broadly infused critical approach
to the media. Critical pedagogy,
as outlined
by Kincheloe (2008) and Freire (1970),
along with the seminal uTork on the po-
litical economy of the media undertaken
by McChesney (2008) and Herman and
Chomsky (1988),
provide an indispensable
framework through which the connection
between the media and education can be
interrogated and critiqued.
Macedo
(2006)
and Giroux (1988)
have
also contributed significantly to the field
of critical pedagogy,
undertaking detailed
studies of the media, as well as the linkage
r"'ith (critical and political) literacy, within
a neoliberal context, and, thus, their work
also provides a substantive underpinning
to how media, media literacy and political
literacy are developed and analyzed in this
article.
Hoechsmann (2006)
provides a useful
interpretation of media education, which
he contrasts with media literacy.
Media education
provides
teachers and
learners
the opportunity to engage in the
study ofcontemporary social and cultural
values
and to situate the curriculum in a
meaningful manner in the
lived realities
of
the students. It is a realm
ofinquiry that
treats contemporary forms and practices
as
historically
situated and
thus enables
the study of resonant social and cultural
matters faced by young people. It is at
once consumption and production oriented.
Central to the project ofmedia education
is the teaching of critica] interpretation
techniques for decoding media texts and
phenomena and technical skills for produc-
ing, or encoding, media product.. 1p.
2?)
He teases out the notion of media literacy,
arguing that it is "not something only
learned from teachers," maintaining that:
Inhabiting a media saturated world by
necessity involves an immersion in the
codes and conventions of media and a
learning process, though later in child-
hood, equivalent to that oflearning a first
language....
On the one
hand, there is the
hand of the powerful in the rnix-media
corporations and those corporations whose
products are pitched in the media. On the
other hand, there is an insider knowledge
already possessed by the learner, one
which in many instances outstrips that
ofthe teacher. (p. 28)
Complementing the above, Kellner
and Share (2007) focus on critical media
literacy, which:
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 relations 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 inter-
pret the rnultiple meanings and nressages
generated by uredia texts. Media literacy
helps people
to discriminate and evaluate
content, to critically dissect n.redia forms,
to investigate media effects and uses, to
use media intelligently, and to construct
alternative media. (p. 4)
Significantly, Kellner and Share (2007)
emphasize the importance of having an
FALL 2OO9
t
understanding of "ideology, power, and
domination that challenges relativist and
apolitical notions of much media education
in order to guide teachers and students in
their explorations of how power, media,
and information are linked" (p. 8).
Thus, together, Kellner and Share
(2007) and Hoechsmann (2006) provide a
critical framework, that is underpinned
by Kincheloe's (2008) work in critical
pedagogy, to understand the media lit-
eracy dynamic, emphasizing that the 'tast
maiority of our students are consumers
and fans of at least some media texts, and
these texts are sites not only of pleasure
and entertainment, but also of learning"
(Kincheloe, 2008, p. 28). In sum, the ex-
plicit as well as the implicit connection
between the media, education and power
is my primary concern in this article.
I vr.'ill
examine data drawn from
two Master's level Sociology of Educa-
tion classes at a university in Ohio with
students who are already teachers. The
course raises important questions about
the potential for doing critical media
literacy in schools
as well as the general
positioning ofthe subject by teachers. The
focus on the media in a class for educa-
tors may not have seemed to be overly
relevant to the students in the beginning
but, based on comments and completed
surveys provided by them at the end of
the course, the connection to education
and democracy
is considered to be direct,
deep and fundamental. The concern over
how educators vieu' or do not view educa-
tion as a political enterprise (Freire, 1970)
underscores the analysis.
The Process of EngagingTeachers
in Media Literacy
As part ofthe class I teach to roughly
20 teachers each semester, I have designed
several activities to sensitize them to the
widespread, yet somewhat nefarious,
influence of the mainstream media. The
objective here is to determine how the
media affects teaching and learning, and,
more importantly, to be able to formulate
strategies to more effectively inculcate
media literacy in education.
Although this course, in isolation
to other parts of the formal educational
program, may only have a limited impact,
the response, thus far, has been over-
whelmingly positive. Students have often
expressed stupefaction that people are
generally such casual consumers of the
media in spite of the far-reaching effect
of the media at the macro-level, cultural
level. I have no reason to believe that the
teachers in my class are not effective, en-
gaged and determined educators, which
makes the findings of the study all the
more interesting.
Being in North-East Ohio, where there
has been a staggering dislocation of the
economy
over
the past three decades,
in an
area with a large working-class population
divided by a visible African-American in-
ner-city and a donut-ring ofWhite suburbs,
there are many features to this landscape
that undoubtedly resonate throughout the
United States.
The course involves several weeks of
discussions
around the role of the media,
especially in relation to education. The ma-
jor culminating project has students, either
individually or in small groups, monitor-
ing, documenting, and analyzing at least
two media outlets (within the television.
newspaper,
internet, and radio sectors) for
a one-week period. They are to track what
is said, how, by whom, when, and to what
degree, and, then, importantly, formulate
a daily analysis, which is then rolled into a
more comprehensive global analysis at the
end ofthe process.
Some ofthe questions
that are specifically asked are:
c What is tlrc context for the news?
t What perspectiues
are elucidated?
t Does the news uary from nrcdiunt
to medium or from newscast
to news-
cdst?
c How is race (and social justice)
portrayed?
t What are the particular political
uantage-points?
t How do the rnedia
connect with and
to education?
In sum, we are concerned with the
shaping or "manufacturing" ofconsent, as
Herman and Chomsky (1988)
have labeled
it, and what this might mean for social
justice, democracy, and the potential for
transformational change in education.
In order to prepare students, there are
two fundamental activities. The first in-
volves a critical analysis ofthe local news-
paper, in which students comb through
every page and section to dissect how the
news is organized, where it is placed,
what
is prioritized, how advertising is infused
throughout, hou' equity, and, particularly,
race are treated, and, lastly, attempting
to determine the editorial content and
orientation.
The second preparatory activity
employs a similar critical analysis of a
S0-minute local nightly newscast. It is
important to highlight that it is not con-
sidered consequential which station or eve-
ning is selected,
as will be seen, since the
malnstream news is presented,
packaged,
and developed in a similar way throughout
the nation. In order to augment reflection
and discussion afteru'ards, students are
divided into five groups, each ofwhich is
asked to watch the news from one of the
vantage-points outlined below:
Group l-watch the news as you
would normally;
Group Z-watch the news to deter-
mine the political perspectives and
nuances that are evident and/or
implicit;
Group 3-time the news, monitoring
the flow, eadence,
and prioritization
given to each segment;
Group 4---observe holv race (and iden-
tity) is a part of the newscast, includ-
ing who is reporting on the news as
well as what is being reported on;
Group 5-monitor how the newscast-
ers and reporters present the news,
from what angles and hou'.
In both of these activities, students
engaged in small group and, thereafter,
plenary discussions. My role was to get
students talking about the media together,
after which a more layered, contextualized
analysis was developed.
An important part
ofthe process
is to debate diverse
vantage-
points, aiming for a more nuanced critique
of the media. It is helpful to undertake
these preparatory activities without much
background into the global economy ofthe
media (McChesney,
2008), u'hich then en-
hance the learning experience afterward.
This is the first time that many of
the students will be looking at the media
critically, so the exercise of discovering
for themselves, in a structured way, the
impact, nature, and formula of the media
constitutes an important learning experi-
ence. It is necessary
to stress
that the ob-
jective is not to preach a certain, prescribed
response or conclusion about the media,
but rather to expose students to a critical
pedagogical approach to understanding the
media, especially in relation to education,
and, significantly, extending this to the
implications for democracy
(Dewey, 1916;
Herman & Chomsky, 1988; Freire, 1970;
Mclaren, 2007; McChesney, 2008).
Toward the end of the course, stu-
dents started to blog on the need for and
existence of media literacy in education.
Students were encouraged to structure
a critical analysis, including the implica-
tions for education, and engage in dialogue
with their colleagues. This component of
the course was extremely insightful and
MULTICULTURAL
EDUCATION
4
useful because
it encouraged students to
reflect on and interrogate the material and
concepts covered together outside of the
structures of the classroom environment.
Several techniques aimed at critically
analyzing the media or other phe.romena
were introduced in order to assist
students
as they undertake their media projects,
including:
t a factor cutalysis, stressing legal,
economic, political, social, educa-
tional and other factors;
c a stakeholder analysis, seeking to
understand issues from the diverse
vantage-points of different groups
(for example, minorities, teachers.
students, administrators);
c an ideological analysis, examin-
ing ideological considerations and
principles underpinning issues and
approaches;
c a bias analysis, illustrating how
everyone
has biases,
and that social
phenomena should not be approached
neutrally; and
. a power relation analysis, elu-
cidating how (inequitable) power
relations are inlused into the media
and throughout decisionmaking
processes.
The routine, seemingly natural experi-
ence ofwatching, reading, and listening to
the news is, therefore, the focal-point ofthis
academic exercise. One of the underlying
motivations for this activity is to underscore
how the media are not neutral, and, further,
how the extremely selective and homog-
enized view ofthe world portrayed though
the plethora ofmedia outlets, despite the
illusion of competition and diversity of
opinion, can serve to constrain debate and
political literacy (Winter, 2007).
Similarly, another key reason for
undertaking this project is to emphasize
the direct linkage to education, especially
in relation to the entrenchment and re-
production of social and class relations
(Mclaren, 2007) as well as a viscerally
ingrained patriotism (Westheimer, 2007)
which are a result of a less than vibrant
and culturally relevant mass rnedia. The
resultant connections
to democracy, with
the well-known narratives of "freedom of
press" and "freedom of speech," therefore,
hinge, to varying degrees, on the viability
of the media to "hold the government to ac-
count" and to assist in providing a vehicle
through which citizens can be empowered
to achieve'1iberty."
The media literacy of teachers, and
their students, then, becomes
critical as it
significantly influences the orientation and
salience ofreality, affecting the degree
to
u'hich people are engaged and are able to
contest hegemonic representations ofwhat
is considered to be in the collective interest
ofsociety, including wars, policies to deal
with the environment, racism, poverty,
and the frarning of the role of education
in society (McChesney,
2008).
Methodology
The electronic discussions (or blog)
through WebCT that students undertook
in the last part ofthe course, which focus
on the media and media literacy, were ana-
lyzed, generating several themes, trends,
reflections, and strategies. Students pro-
vided their consent
to use
their work on an
anonymous basis, and their comments are
provided as they were originally presented.
All names attached to the narrative com-
ments are pseudonyms.
In the state of Ohio, all teachers
must
complete a Master's degree to maintain
their certification. The students in these
classes,
who are teachers, are, therefore,
largely representative ofthe general teach-
ing population, as they are not a self-select-
ed group that is pursing graduated studies
for purely academic reasons.
Almost all of
the teachers participating in this study are
White, the rnajority of whom are female,
with most of the sample coming from the
regional area within close proximity to
the university. Although there is a diverse
ethnic demography in the sample, most are
from working-class backgrounds.
It should be emphasized that, although
I (the instructor) do have some definitive
ideas about politics and education, my role
was to facilitate, cultivate, and provoke
critical thinking around media literacy, and
not to elicit a particular response. Rather,
I view the notion of media (and political)
literacy as a process, one that is strongly
supported by the critical pedagogical ap-
proach, to become
engaged seeking to criti-
cally interrogate the meaning of identity,
societal justice, politics, and (inequitable)
power relations (Kincheloe,
2008).
The actual sifting through the blogs,
categorizing, organizing, and developing
themes, is undertaken within the lens of
a critical pedagogical
framework (Kinche-
loe, 2008), using the tools enunciated for
a research bricolage (Tobin & Kjncheloe,
2006), which calls for the blending of
methodological approaches and vantage-
points. Similarly, within the qualitative
methodological approach (Merriam, 1988;
Schram, 2006), I analyzed the data from a
range Ofperspectives, seeking to crystallize
themes that resonate and speak clearly to
the subject-matter explored.
The research, inevitably, is aimed at
bolstering media literacy, and is not meant
to be judgmental of the particular identi-
ties, realities, and experiences of the par-
ticipants. Teasing out the meaning of the
narrative provided by participants required
a certain depth and range ofknowledge and
exposure to critical media literacy, which
enables a more robust and critical assess-
ment of the themes generated.
Findings
During our on-line discussions, stu-
dents were asked to respond to the follow-
ing question: Do we teach about and for
media literacy in education?
By this time,
we have covered a certain number of is-
sues,
concepts,
and concerns
in relation to
the media, media literacy, and media edu-
cation, and students also
became
engaged
in group projects that served to immerse
themselves in critically assessing the
media. As eluded to earlier in this article,
students become significantly more critical
about their own implication in education as
the course progressed to the role, effect and
presence
of the media in education.
What
follows are seven themes that emerged
from the research.
7'heme
l.'
Superf ciol Treotment
of Medio Literacy in Schools
Most of the students concurred that
they felt that their particular school
environments were not predisposed to a
concerted effort to inculcate media literacy
in the classroom. Several participants
enunciated a common refrain, that efforts
aimed at addressing
the media were gener-
ally superficial.
Although I might think that I am trying to
teach students to understand media and
question
things that are going
on around
them, I'm not sure that they necessarily
get that from my lessons. In rnost cases
they are
just trying to get
done with what-
ever they are doing so that can move
on
to the next thing. We do look at different
websites
and talk about their validity, or
at different articles that are written in
magazines
and uewspapers...but
I'm not
sure that they really understand why. So
in rny thoughts, some schools
and teach-
ers may be trying to implenent the use of
media literacy in their classrooms,
(but)
they
just dou't
explain what it is to their
students.
(Dauid)
In my opinion, there is very little in-
struction about and for media literacy
in schools.
While
some classes do receive
newspapers
to examine,
how
much class-
r00n1
time is really available
to analyze
the newspaper's
content critically? I do
think students need to receive instruction
2c09
5
FALL
about how the media operates,
along
with
using critical thinking skills to decipher
what motives are behind news presenta-
tions. (Joanne)
I have found no evidence that my school
supports teaching media literacy in
school. Yes, it should and can be taught in
school,
but is it? ..
. Technology
continues
to influence hoq' we teach and we have all
too often heard the stories ofmedia used
by students in inappropriate ways, . .. Stu-
dents need to understand beyond the fun
and garnes how very serious the media is
whether it is good or bad. (Suzanne)
Participants raise concerns here about
how teachers may be out of step with the
plurality of technologies and media that
young people are exposed to and use. In
highlighting how critical media literacy is
not a common feature of the formal educa-
tion experience, they are also raising issues
about how school boards, departments of
education, and governments, in general, do
not place a premium on media literacy at
the same level as the standards, evaluation
regime, and neo-liberal conceptual frame-
work that is well-known to educators-
Participants may have differed on the
reasons for which media literacy was not
taught in schools but there was almost
universal agreement that media literacy
was not a focus of either the general or
specific curriculum.
Teachers are supposed to teach about
media literacy in our schools
but unfor-
tunately this does not happen for various
reasons.
There is a great demand on the
teacher's time, especially in preparing
students for the standardized test to an
extent that there is no time left for media
Iiteracy lessons. On the other hand, school
district cuniculum does not accommodate
media literacy, as a subject matter to be
taught is schools.
(Nathan)
I do not feel that we educate our youth
very much about media literacy. Due to
the fact that we are responsible Ibr so
many other concepts such as standard-
ized tests, we have been ignorant toward
teaching them about this topic. That
certainly does not mean that it is not a
significant topic, however. In my opinion,
I think that we need to make a more col-
lective effort to expose them to the current
events that are taking shape in their local
communities, their state, their country,
and even the world. (Eugene)
The reality of a significant time-con-
straint combined with a prescriptive, lim-
ited curriculum make it extremely difficult
to engage students in meaningful media
literacy activities and processes.
Macdeo
(2007) argues strongly that the "media rep-
resent a mechanism
ofideological control,"
and the
disarticulation between what goes
on in
the
classroom
and
socio-culturuJ,
""nnoa-
ic, and political realities that shape, guide,
and determine the educational enterprise
have led to a de facto construction ofnot
seeing, proving once again the old pror-
erb, 'The eyes do not see;
they only record
while the mind sees."'(p.
xix)
Theme 2:
The Medio Includes More
tha n Troditionol Outlets
(N ew sp
o
p e r,Television, R odio)
Students became sensitized to the
all-encompassingnature of the media, and
started to view it as a force that is infused
into and through education, either overtly
or covertly, something that is not always
acknowledged. For example, in addition
to the traditional media outlets, such as
the newspapers and the written press,
television, and the radio, today's educators
must also now contend with myriad other
forces, including the internet, advertising,
political messaging, and diverse forms of
social organization.
It can be quite difficult to teach about
media literacy simply because of the type
of information it exposes our children
to. The information presented in the
news can be complicated all on its own;
let alone the advertisements we have to
deal with in order to get through media.
No matter how the news is presented to
our students, they will be subject
to some
form of advertisement.... We as teachers
need to be critical of the media findinss
we present. (Beuerly)
I do not believe that we teach students
enough information on how to fully
analyze and critique the media. Not every
source is credible and students may have a
hard time understanding that at a young
age. Also, think ofall the media advertise-
ments that students are surrounded by on
a daily basis. Almost everything we read,
hear or listen to has some sort ofhidden
message on trying to shape who we are
by telling us what to buy or how to dress.
How are students supposed to be creative
and unique individuals, when much of our
media portrays how a person should look,
feel and act? (John)
As Hoechsman (2006) highlights,
young people are now engaged in so-
cial networking, such as Facebook and
MySpace, that are largely foreign to most
teachers. Information travels quickly, and
there is great potential for both engage-
ment and alienation. At the same time,
cyber-bullying is now a concern that did
not exist a decade ago. Youth now make
and disseminate their own media through
YouTube video clips, blogs and internet
discussion-groups.
As noted
in the participants'
com-
ments above, there is also significant con_
cern about the effect of explicit and implicit
advertising and marketing, which makes it
imperative for teachers to be able to assist
students in understanding the ramifica-
tions and potential harm they may cause if
not examined critically. The predominance
of pop-cultural manifestations-realitv
shows such as American ld.ol. Suruiuoi.
and Do You Want To Be a Millionaire?,
and movie stars and musicians-flood the
formal airwaves and educational space,
creating the illusion that diverse repre-
sentations of reality are insignificant.
Educators need to be not only aware of
this but also prepared and encouraged to
engage students in deconstructing how the
media plays a role in propagating certain
(sur)realities, which may be detrirnental
to minority and marginalized voices, and
also reinforce stereotypes and inequitable
power relations without critical interroga-
tion (McChesney, 2008).
Theme
3.'
The Corporote lnfiltrotion
in the Moss
Medio
The concern over the corporate domi-
nation of the media was a common theme
highlighted by students, and many com-
mented that they were previously unaware
of how much of the media is infused with
corporate messages
and control. This led
to some interesting discussions
about how
the media may be dissuaded
from, or timid
about, examining certain issues,
policies,
products, and/or personalities owing to
corporate oversight.
Participants critiqued the corporate
sector in how it buttresses, shapes, and
"manufactures" the reality generated and
espoused
by the mass media. This corpo-
ratization has myriad implications for
how schools address the media, and also
for how teachers and students understand
and are able to dig under, around, and
between the messages
generated
for mass
consumption.
Corporations gain the opportunity to
promote their product by using the me-
dia communications
in schools.
Schools
use the items with the companies' logos
as incentives
for activities
and special
events
and teachers
use
them as part of
their curriculum to motivate
students.
In
other words,
schools and teachers
get
free
give always and the company
gets and
easy
and cheaper
way ofnarketing their
company and
the products-
(Jack)
Personally,
I watched
Channel
One every
morning
from 1993-1997
and
yet I feel
I
was totally illiterate to what was taking
place around the world. As an educator
I feel to improve our media illiteracy is
MULTICULTURAL
EDUCATION
6
not only to watch Channel One
but also
to read newspapers,
watch other news
channels
and take time to discuss
and
have
assignments
on what
we
view
in the
media.
(Sandra)
These conments highlight the direct,
yet what some might consider necessary,
infusion of the corporate sector into the
classroom. Within the neo-liberal sphere
of contemporary education (Hill, 2008),
most schools need
to look elsewhere for part
of their funding, beyond the scope of the
State, thus exposing the obvious inequali-
ties between schools and districts. Which
schools
receive
what kinds ofsupport and
contracts, and what are the stipulations?
Can educators critique these contracts that
provide schools football stadiums, uniforms,
and equipment but not necessarily any
enhancernents to teacher salaries, service
learning, and educational materials, etc.?
The news that is funnelled into the
classroom, replete with comrnercials,
can have have a deleterious effect on the
educational experience ofyoung people as
well as an obvious societal impact of not
cultivating a politically literate populace.
Theme 4:
Ihe Ornni-Presence
of (Neo-Liberol) Stondords
Overrides Media Literacy
Another hindrance to media literacy
pertains to having the relevant and appro-
priate media resources
available to educa-
tors. Given the over-arching framework of
neoliberal reforms, which privilege stan-
dardized testing, currricula, and outcomes,
some form of critical media literacy, or even
just a moderate approach to critiquing the
media, may be considered too light-weight
and super{uous to find a place within the
formal educational program.
In my district, I am not allowed to read
the newspaper
or even have it out in my
room during the day. The principal does
not
want students or teachers looking
at it
during the school day because it will take
away from
the
learning
time that students
need
to spend on OGT standards.
(David)
Why isn't media
literacy a rnainstay
of
U.S. education?
The answer is compli-
cated, but a major obstacle
to media
literacy is simply
that Americans
gener-
ally don't see the media
as an important
influence on
our lives.
With budget crises,
testing, and the need
to teach basic
skills,
nany educators see media literacy as a
waste
of resources.
But there are many
compelling reasons
to include media
literacy programs
in the schools. How-
ever,
convincing those that control the
educational
process
of its importance is
another
story.
(Gene)
... media literacy
is rnore thon being
oble to use
the ,otest
technology
to occess
informotion,
it is how you critique and
analyze
the information for moking
soun4 wise
judgments.
Another specific concern, and perhaps
a reticence, about teaching for and about
media literacy is the overarching mission
of education, which can coalesce into a
quasi-obsession
at some levels,
to generate
certain learning outcomes
aimed at meet-
ing the "standards."
And there it is again, standardized
cur-
riculums are not critical thinking skill
oriented. In order
to function
in our demo-
cratic society, citizens
need
to be able to
analyze
media reports
as to the motive
that fuels
them.
With so
much emphasis
on
test scores
and
teaching content for the
test, little time is left to teach
about media
literacy.
In order
to make good
decisions
based
on what
the media
presents,
media
literacy needs
to be a part of a student's
education.
(Joanne\
As with teaching
everything else, media
literacy is another bystander
that gets
pushed
to the side by the demands to
teach
ONLY
the curriculum.
. .. as educa-
tors we need
to take time to ensure that
our students understand the difference
between
the "good
life" and real lil'e and
how
to pick out and
critique the news
they
are presented
with. (Cynthia)
These comments underscore the stark
difference between the formal and infor-
rnal (hidden) curriculum; and address-
ing the former only rvill certainly han'e a
negligible effect on the latter (Kincheloe,
2008). Students are exposed to a broad and
never-ending range of mass media images,
messages
and content that can be influen-
tial in how they construct their identities,
experiences and perspectives, which, ifleft
unchecked, can dininish the attachment
that they may have to democracy and their
own involvement in society.
Iheme 5.'
Medio Literocy Needs
To Be Approached
from Multiple Vontoge
Points
The debate over media literacy, ulti-
mately, needs to involve a range ofsectors,
stakeholders, and interests, and should not
be isolated to a single course or teacher.
While there seems to be strong agreement
around the need to teach for and about me-
dia literacy, participants in this research
argued for a broader level of political
literacy in order to engage students as a
means of enhancing a critical awareness
of the media.
As is the case when thinking about so-
cial justice and democracy,
media literacy
can, and should, be incorporated into, and
interwoven throughout, the educational
experience. It is interesting to note that
participants suggested many innovative
ways to approach media literacy.
I don't believe that we as educators really
do teach about media literacy in our class
roorns today. I guess in this fast-paced,
digital world in which we teach and live,
how much of this "stuff'do we as teachers
really understand? Let's face it, our stu-
dents (or at least a great majority of them)
are more technologically salvy than we
are. What a great learning opportunity,
whereby the tables are turned and the
students can now teach the teachers. But
nedia literacy is nore than being able to
use the latest technology to access infor-
mation, it is how you critique and analyze
the information for making sound, wise
judgments. Media literacy would sen'e
as a great opportunity for Language
Arts and Social Studies teachers to get
together and team teach concepts which
would help our students to become better
informed citizens and provide them with
opportunities to become better critical
thinkers. (Jordan)
Media by definition is the forn of commu-
nication used to influence a wide amount
ofpeople. Literacy is being able
to read or
write. Media literacy is the ability to read
and discern the communication that you
are presented. I now see the importance
of empou'ering my students to be their
own person and think for themselves.
I use musie as a vehicle to teach media
literacy because often times young people
are influenced by the music they allow
themselves to be engrossed in because
of the superstar that they see daily on
television. I ask them what type of music
they listen to and why. The majority of
them listen to RAP, rhl.thnr and poetry,
and R & B, Rhy'thm and Blues. I do not
condemn them for what they listen to but
I do have them listen to the words ofthe
songs and tell me what the writer was try-
ing to get across. After studying the lyrics
they are shocked to see what they allowed
themselves to digest in their minds. After
doing this activity, I find that students
are more critical in their thinking pattern
when observing the news, videos, music,
books, etc. (Anthony)
English class alq.ays seems like the gate-
way to address the media, but other core
content subjects can easily contribute
to teaching media literacy. Social stud-
ies can tie in current events as well as
comparing and contrasting news around
the world. Science can use the news to
discuss environmental changes taking
place, the weather patterns, and reading
FALL 2OO9
,
\4'eather
maps. Math on the other hand
can be a little more
challenging,
but even
in math
class the students
need
to learn
about the misleading
graphs
and data
analysis represented
by corporations
in
order to get you to buy their products.
Even
though
teaching
media
literacy
may
not be a large
topic
ofinterest
in schools,
it can
and should
be incorporated
into
the
curriculum *'hen possible.
(Angle)
In other words, any subject can (and
should) be addressed from a critical van-
tage point, thus augmenting the teaching
and learning from a range of perspec-
tives and lived experiences
(Banks, 2008;
Kincheloe, 2008).
Macedo (2007) warns
that not confronting the problematic na-
ture of bias and propaganda can lead to
the perpetuation of grave injustices and
catastrophe, thus strongly making the case
for confronting patriotism. While acknowl-
edging that media literacy should not be
marginalized to a single area, discipline, or
educator, it is equally important to ensure
that educators know how to teach, and
are engaged in the process,
about and for
media literacy, which requires training,
materials, support, and a critical thinking
I'ramework to provide teachers with con-
cepts, principles, and strategies to teach
about the media in a critical way.
Theme
6:
The Morginolizotion
of Diverse Groups in the Moss Medio
The final media projects that students
completed,
emphasized in particular how
racial minorities were visibly marginalized
in the content and presentation ofthe mass
media news. The students discovered,
through their projects, that newscast-
ers, journalists, analysts, and others of
importance in delivering the news were
largely White, although, at certain times,
there might be a small number of minority
people involved, especially on weekends
and later at night. The concern is not only
about who is packaging the news but, more
importantly, who decides on what stories
and angles will be covered.
Media can actually shape a culture or
possibly your views concerning a culture
or a people.
For some time now, the me-
dia has presented African Americans as
people who are criminals, people who are
slaves, and people who are dropouts or
possibly video girls. The media has pre-
sented young African American children
the false reality of becoming millionaires
overnight by challenging them to become
rap stars or famous athletes. It is sad that
the media does
not advertise youth excel-
lence as much in the Black community.
In the school
where I teach, I now see the
importance ofmaking my students aware
... os teochers,
when
teoching
for medio literacy,
we must be careful
to not persuade
our students
according
to our yiewpoints
but to teoch them how to moke
on educoted
decision
ofter reseorching
mony
sources
. . .
ofthe options
that they have
in choosing
their destiny.
(Anthony)
As exemplified above, and this also
came through in class discussions, the
media can be extremely disempowering for
some individuals and groups, who are ei-
ther routinely omitted or portrayed as not
being a full part of society (for example, the
over-representation of African-Americans
in crirne and sports stories). An important
realization for participants is the demys-
tification of what Winter (2007) terms
the "myth of competition" and the "cult of
objectivity."
In essence, minorities are often
stigmatized and marginalized under the
guise of an open flow of ideas and "fair
and balanced"
(the moniker of FOX News)
reporting in spite of the mass media be-
ing tightly controlled by special interests
that are generally disinterested in social
justice. Therefore, educators need to be
vigilant about not engaging in critical
media literacy, as avoidance to do so rnay
reinforce disengagement and vilification of
the "other."
Theme 7:
Ihe Effect ofthe Course
on Media Literocy
One of the areas of interest in this
research, apart from attempting to under-
stand how educators perceive and work
with media literacy in their teaching, is
to determine if a university course focused
on media literacy can have an impact on
educators' conceptualization of, and en-
gagernent with, media literacy. Although
it is not possible at this time to assess
how participants are actually using what
they have learned, it is fair to note that,
in general, all participants experienced
changes
in their attitudes and commitment
to media literacy as a result ofthe process
of critical refl ection and interrogation.
Many found the experience to be
enlightening, as they had not considered
the media in a critical manner before. For
some, the deconstruction of the media,
u'hich involved trying to understand pro-
paganda, bias, corporate control, and the
editorial hegemony exercised by a small
group oI'interests, led to discomfort as it
altered their conceptualization of society.
The process
could, therefore, be empower-
ing in some cases.
Personally, I have never put much
thought into what I watched on television
or heard on the radio before this course.
The media was just entertainment or a
way to pacify time. Now, I am looking
more critically about how ads are por-
tral'ed and trying to figure out the mes-
sages
that are being sent. I do not think
that in education there is a strong urge to
deal with media literacy. It is something
that should be more important, but at the
same time rve need to teach educators
about rnedia literacy before they can pass
on this knowledge to the students that
they teach. Also, from this course I am
definitely more in tune to what the media
is showing and I see the effects that it
could potentially have on children, but I
also strongly feel that no matter what is
shown on television it ultimately comes
down to parenting and how you raise
your
children. (Melissa)
After taking this class, I have realized
that our educational system is lacking
in teaching for media literacy. Most of us
are focused on standards and how to fit
everything else in that is expected of us.
...
we do not take the time that is needed
to really have students critically think or
analyze the media. Partially, I feel that
we were never taught this way and this
class has been an eye opening experi-
ence to the different vantage points that
certain media sources can take. On the
other hand, as teachers, when teaching for
media literacy, .*'e must be careful to not
persuade our students according to our
viewpoints but to teach them how to make
an educated decision after researching
many sources. ... As a high school student,
the teachers really never made an effort to
help us connect to the news or to inspire
us to question what was being said. Maybe
they felt that ifwe began to question the
nev/s we would begin to question their
ways as well. (Julia)
As educators we must do our best to pro-
mote media literacy in our students by
making them aware ofhow to analyze and
critically think for themselves. Honestly,
before taking this class I wasn't even
aware of how much of the media is very
straightforward and simplistic. Students
need to be taught that not all vantage
points are normally discussed in the me-
dia and therefore students have to be like
detectives, in a sense that they must do
their own researching and investigating
to really understand what is going on in
our world. (Maria)
While participants appear
to feel that
focused
exposure to critical media literacy,
MULTICULTURAL
EDUCATION
8
as was the case
in the course
framing this
research,
is beneficial
at many levels,
they
also exhibit apprehension owing to thl
structure and neo-liberal framework of
education.
A common question, therefore,
is: how do you teach about and for meclia
literacy when there doesn,t
seem
to be the
support to do so
(Carr, 2008)?
A connected
area of concern pertains to the notion of
beingperceived as irnpartial or doctrinaire.
Educators must feel a certain comfort in
how they address controversial issues, and
also how they understand the notions of
bias, propaganda, and power (Brinkley,
1999; Claire & Holden, 2002).
Discussion
This research raises a nurnber ofques-
tions about the contemporary state ofedu-
cation, which, undoubtedly, connect with
the potential for transformation within a
context of neoliberal reforms (HilI. 2008).
If there is a tendency for teachers to not
be overly engaged
in, or exposed
to, media
literacy, it is important to understand
the degree to which this is encouraged,
facilitated, and codified by the overarching
framework of neo-liberalism, which has
de-emphasized
social
justice at the behest
of employability, the market-place, and
a pedagogical regime aimed at meeting
established standards. Nevertheless, the
inportance of infusing more relevant and
critical media literacy into the education
experience was flagged by virtually all of
the participants in this study.
Hoechsmann (2006) reminds us that
"the best education is dialogic and fore-
grounds the background and experience of
the learner" (p.34),
thus making the case
for a more critical engagement on the part
of educators,
who may not be in touch with
the diverse media exposure that youths are
exposed
to. He also stresses
the importance
of educators
being immersed in the actual
development of media.
Media educators
do need
to have
the
conceptual
tools to undertake
analysis
and interpretation
ofmedia texts and the
sources
of media production.
As well,
media
educators increasingly
need
to have
the ca-
pacity
to
produce
media
ofall types
though
the interesting
wrinkle that has energed
as new technologies
became
cheaper
and
more accessible is that learners
across
multiple spectrums
began to come into
media education
settings with adequate
or better knowledge
bases in production.
This too has revolutionized
media educa-
tion settings
and
urettled the relationship
between teacher
and learner.
lJltimately,
what media educators
need
more
than
almost
anything
else is an open
mind and
the capacity
and desire
to read
vouth
writ-
ing their lives.
(p.34)
This enhanced engagement with me-
dia literacy links to political literacy, which
underscores
the political nature ofeduca-
tion (Freire, 1970). Critical pedagogy offers
a conceptual framework to think through
the process
ofcritical engagement
in rela-
tion to the media in education (Kincheloe,
2008). There are several concerns
here
that, collectively,
participants have enun-
ciated as requiring attention:
o how teachers are trained, certified.
and supported in their guest to be
media literate;
o the absence
ofa clear and relevant
conceptual framework in educatjon
that creates the conditions and im-
petus to undertake rnedia literacv
in schools;
r ifstandards, high-stakes tests, and
other barometers of the neoliberal
reform period continue to rule the
day, it would be important to, at
the very least, develop and require
the usage of specific standards and
outcomes related to media literacy,
the absence
ofwhich will further per-
petuate the mlth that this is only an
add-on or supplementary concern;
o a support-network and curriculum-
base
from which teachers
could draw
on for appropriate resources, activi-
ties, strategies, and evaluation-mea-
sures to formalize the media literacy
experience
in schools is needed;
r students, as exemplified in the
educational experiences of the par-
ticipants, are not generally afforded
an educational experience
that futly
and freely acknowledges political
and media literacy, which can be a
signiflcant impediment to creating a
more robust and critical educational
experience;
o the media plays a significant role
in defining the youth educational
and cultural experience, and to omit
or diminish a concerted effort at
media literacy in schools would have
the effect of, ultimately, working
against the interests of an engaged
and productive citizenry which will
be called on to make decisions
about
social
justice, war, poverty, and the
fabric of democracy (Lund & Carr,
2008; Westheimer, 2006).
This study also speaks to the impor-
tance ofculture and identity in relation to
the media. Since
the media is everywhere,
and is infused into people's
daily lives, it
is imperative that educators are aware
of who is included and excluded. In other
words, if a critical media literacy approach
is not advocated, it is likely that rampant
stereotypes in the media about, for ex_
arnple, African-Americans, Hispanics, and
Aboriginal peoples (American Indians) will
be perpetuated and largely unchecked.
Such marginalization of diverse groups
and peoples will be further entrenched
given the absence of a politically literate
and engaged populace. White power and
privilege, which has been gratuitously
presented as the norm in society through
the media, and by extension in education,
should be understood through the lens of
a critical pedagogical approach to media
literacy (Carr & Lund, 2007).
Lastly, it is important to emphasize
that media literacy is not about a lesson
plan, a list or menu of options, a resource,
or an individual event or personality.
Rather, media literacy is about a process
ofengagement, one that offers the oppor-
tunity for reflection, interuogation, and
debate (Macedo & Steinberg, 2007).
While there is a definite formal
structure needed to foster media literacv
in education
(i.e.,
standards,
curriculum,
resources, the requirement to teach the
subject, etc.), in keeping with the main
principles of critical pedagogy (Kincheloe,
2008) the more fundamental aspect of
media literacy education must involve the
commitment to, and the process of, per-
sonal and collective critical engagement.
However, in teaching about and for
democracy'
(or "radical democracy," as
Kellner and Share label it), anti-racism,
social
justice, and citizenship, the formal
structure and requirements will only go so
far. To have a meaningful impact, there
needs to be a more comprehensive and
broad-based approach to critiquing the
shape, form, and meaning of education
for media literacy, bolstered by educators
who are willing to be innovative, critical,
and cognizant ofinequities and entrenched
power relations. Such efforts can and will
be a significant enhancement to the educa-
tion ofall parties involved.
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MULTICULTURAL
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tc
... Throughout this discourse, complexity is avoided, nuances dispersible, visual stimulation substitutes for thought, and verbal precision is reduced to anachronism. The problem is never societal or systemic because the mainstream news will focus endlessly on a single rapist, a single killer or a single racist, not on violence towards women, societal violence or deeply entrenched cultural, institutional and societal discrimination and racism (Carr, 2009). ...
... For teachers to engage in media literacy, controversy must, necessarily, become part and parcel of the educational experience. If educators are fearful of deliberative democracy, what are the chances that students (and, importantly, educators themselves) will wilfully, easily and comfortably engage in critical but difficult and problematic issues of great significance (Carr, 2009(Carr, , 2011? ...
... In understanding that decisions are made in the corporate media by a small group of wealthy and powerful individuals with little regard for informed public participation or deliberation, students need to know that, through their construction of knowledge, awareness, engagement, communication and critical analysis, they may be able to improve their democratic experience as citizens, which can lead to understanding democracy through new and enriched perspectives. If people are conscious of the manufacturing role of the media to create consent and docility (Chomsky, 1989), then they may act differently, or, at the very least, function in a way that acknowledges their complicity with a non-critical, homogenized media culture that aims to limit their democratic participation and engagement (Carr, 2009(Carr, , 2011. ...
Article
Full-text available
Engagement with the mainstream media and the relationship to political literacy: The Influence of hegemonic education on democracy. Critical Education, 6(15). Retrieved from Abstract This article focuses on teacher candidates' perspectives of media literacy in the context of education for democracy as a possibility to enlighten students to address the mainstream media's predisposition towards the neoliberal privatization and corporatization of education. Drawing on qualitative and quantitative data from research at two campuses of a university in Ontario, Canada, we illustrate how this sample of future educators demonstrates a normative inclination to embed media literacy in their teaching; however, real barriers exist that can diminish their engagement with controversial issues, alternative media, and, even, democratic education, and education for democracy, itself. This contradiction, we argue, underscores the difference between media awareness that many teacher candidates possess, and media literacy, a quality that requires greater focus at education institutions. Set against the backdrop of the television news media's largely imperceptible neoliberal predisposition towards education, education for democracy must necessarily incorporate a critical approach that enables future teachers to identify and critique the mainstream media's support of, and entanglement with, the neoliberal cooptation of education. The article ends with several proposals to address the democratic deficits created through limited engagement with media literacy. Readers are free to copy, display, and distribute this article, as long as the work is attributed to the author(s) and Critical Education, it is distributed for non-commercial purposes only, and no alteration or transformation is made in the work.
... στ. Οι δραστηριότητες που σχεδιάστηκαν για το μάθημα Κοινωνιολογία της Εκπαίδευσης σε ένα πανεπιστήμιο του Ohio από τον καθηγητή-ερευνητή Carr (2009) στόχευαν να εκθέσουν τους μεταπτυχιακούς φοιτητές-εκπαιδευτικούς σε μία κριτική παιδαγωγική προσέγγιση που να συμβάλλει στην κατανόηση των μέσων, ειδικά σε σχέση με την εκπαίδευση (πώς τα μέσα επιδρούν στη διδασκαλία και στη μάθηση), και κυρίως τη θεμελιώδη σχέση τους με τη δημοκρατία και την εξουσία. Η κύρια εκπαιδευτική δραστηριότητα ήταν ένα σχέδιο εργασίας όπου οι φοιτητές, είτε κατά μόνας είτε σε μικρές ομάδες, παρακολουθούσαν, κατέγραφαν και ανέλυαν τουλάχιστον δύο μέσα έντυπης ή ηλεκτρονικής ενημέρωσης για μία εβδομάδα. ...
... Τέλος, η εξοικείωση των εν ενεργεία εκπαιδευτικών με τον κριτικό γραμματισμό στα μέσα επιτεύχθηκε κυρίως με αναλύσεις μέσων έντυπης και ηλεκτρονικής ενημέρωσης και κειμένων λαϊκής κουλτούρας (τηλεόραση και κινηματογράφος), ενώ η παραγωγή βίντεο εντοπίστηκε μόνο σε μία εκ των εξεταζόμενων εφαρμογών. Κατά την κριτική ανάλυση αναζητήθηκαν και ανιχνεύτηκαν οι κοινωνικοί παράγοντες (οικονομικός, πολιτικός, εκπαιδευτικός κ.λπ.), τα ενδιαφερόμενα μέρη, η ιδεολογία, οι προκαταλήψεις και οι σχέσεις ισχύος (Carr, 2009;Miller, 2007;Stuckey & Kring, 2007;Xu, 2004). ...
... This connects to how we understand and undertake deliberative democracy (see Carr and Thésée 2019;Parker 2002Parker , 2003Parker , 2006Hess 2009;Hess and McAvoy 2014) and how more critical manifestations of citizenship might be cultivated (Banks et al. 2005;Carr 2009Carr , 2011Carr and Thésée 2017;Schugurensky 2003Schugurensky , 2006. Importantly, it also links directly to how we engage with social media, how the vast volumes of messages, information, videos, images, and the like we are engaged with, in an open/inclusive or a closed/exclusive manner. ...
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The widespread usage, consumption, and production of social media have sparked serious debate about its role in stimulating, cultivating, and influencing the shape, depth, and impact of democracy. How does and can engagement in and with social media lead to citizen participation in seeking to address issues that significantly affect people, notably social inequalities, racism, sexism, classism, poverty, war and conflict, the environment, and other local as well as global concerns? Does (or can) open-ended social media access, beyond the tightly controlled normative, hegemonic structures and strictures of democracy that frame, to a great deal, how people live, work, and even think, lead to new, alternative, and innovative forms of (critical) engagement? This text seeks to make connections between the intricacies of using social media and the reconceptualization of democracy, linking the two in an attempt to underscore how participation and engagement are changing. Using social media involves multilevel configurations of not only communicating with others but also in developing content, responding, sharing, critiquing, and reimagining the “Other” as well as reinterpreting contexts, political spaces, and cultures. This text also examines and critiques the potential for tangible, counter-hegemonic change within and outside of the mainstream, representative, electoralist model of democracy, which is increasingly being rejected by large numbers of citizens around the world. A significant piece of this equation is the filter of education, attempting to understand its role, impact, and meaning for social media usage/engagement in relation to democracy. The backdrop of fake news, and a brief case study of the 2018 Brazilian election, is interwoven and problematized throughout the text.
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The first chapter of this book included commentary from Wolfgang’s (2013) online article in The Washington Times. The trolling nature of that commentary initiated reflections of popular thinking regarding education. Trolling (2013a, 2013b) in cyberspace is slang for anonymous users starting online arguments by posting inflammatory messages in an online community with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response.
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This book explores the complexity of communication and understanding as a possible asset in formal education rather than a problem that needs to be "fixed". The authors examine the question and experience as pedagogical tools, challenging readers to play the critic and ask hard questions, beginning with: Why do the ideas discussed within the book matter? The digital information age with expanding ways of thinking, being, communicating, and learning complicates public education. So, what happens as diverse narratives collide in schools? To answer this question, the authors of this book delve into conflicting assumptions within the framework of complexity sciences and education in an attempt to explore space beyond positivist/anti-positivist debates. This involves examining the role of cultural and aesthetic narratives and cautionary tales as means of acknowledging possibilities in human experiences in education. These possibilities can facilitate praxis, as theory, research, and teaching become reflective practices, and as thinking about education broadens to include diverse methods of understanding and presenting complex phenomena.
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This landmark book represents the first text to pay critical and sustained attention to Whiteness in Canada from an impressive line-up of leading scholars and activists. The burgeoning scholarship on Whiteness will benefit richly from this book's timely inclusion of the insights of Canadian scholars, educators, activists and others working for social justice within and through the educational system, with implications far beyond national borders. Naming Whiteness and White identity is a political project as much as an intellectual engagement, and the co-editors of this collection must be commended for creating the space for such naming to take place in public and academic discourses. Is it noteworthy to acknowledge that both Paul and Darren are White, and that they are overseeing this work on Whiteness? I believe that it is, not because others cannot write about the subject with clarity and insight, as is clearly evident in the diverse range of contributors to this book. Rather, naming their positions as White allies embracing a rigorous conceptual and analytical discourse in the social justice field is an important signal that White society must also become intertwined in the entrenched racism that infuses every aspect of our society. As Paul and Darren correctly point out, race is still a pivotal concern for everything that happens in society, and especially in schools. Excerpt from the Foreword by George J. Sefa Dei Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology and Equity Studies, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT) The Great White North? provides a timely and important mode of addressing and examining the contradictions of Whiteness, and also challenging its insinuation into the very pores of the Canadian social universe. While the context of the book is distinctly Canadian, there are urgent messages here on race and anti-racism for the international community. Carr and Lund have provided educators with a vibrant contribution to the critical anti-racist literature. This is a book that needs to be put on reading- lists across the disciplines! Peter McLaren Professor, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies University of California at Los Angeles
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In a "land of milk and honey," the "American dream," a place where freedom is supposedly enshrined in the cornerstones of its history, is it surprising, dumbfounding or simply incomprehensible that so many education students, those who will become, or who are currently, teachers, often throw their hands up and say "But what can I do?" To be clear, this is not merely an indictment of young people seeking a university education. The issue is broader than that as it leads to questions about the structure and organization of society (McLaren, 2007). The problem is multi-layered, and relates to patriotism (Westheimer, 2006), critical analysis (Noll, 2007), cultural trends (Banks, 2008), political literacy (Provenzo, 2005), societal representations of education (Sadovnik, Cookson & Semel, 2006), and the struggle to articulate a vision of social justice (Vincent, 2003). Ultimately, it concerns power and political literacy (Freire, 1970), two issues that must be considered in education if there is the realistic hope that society will be (critically) engaged in democracy during and after the formative schooling years. The context for this paper is a series of experiences and observations stemming from two classes—a third year Education and Society course for students who aspire to be teachers, and a Master's level Sociological Basis of Education course for teachers who are pursuing graduate education—I have taught several times in the past two years. These two classes focus on diversity, equity, multiculturalism and social justice. They are required courses in their respective programs, and each is often the most extensive and meaningful exposure that students have to a sociological vantage-point. This is not to suggest that the other required courses and practicum are not instructive and necessary components to their formal educational training but, rather, to underscore that the methods, strategies, approaches and processes of teaching and learning in these two particular courses are, arguably, different, and more attuned to the social construction of identity and the place of education within the broader political context than the regular methods courses (Nieto, 1999). The focus in these courses is more on the context than the content, more on the informal (hidden) than the formal curriculum, and more on critical analysis than the development of lesson plans and classroom management strategies. Significantly, the sociological courses do, I believe, help future and current teachers prepare for integral aspects of teaching by providing a deeper, more nuanced, reflective and critical understanding of who the students are, and how their educational experience is mediated by socio-political factors (Nieto, 1999; Sadovnik, Cookson & Semel, 2006). However, for change to take place, there must be transformation and infusion of concepts, approaches and processes throughout the educational experience, not only in designated classes (Banks, 2008). 82 · International Journal of Critical Pedagogy It is important to highlight that the analysis provided in this article is not intended to be a myopic, introspective profile of a couple of groups of students. Rather, picking up on trends, concerns, innovative practices and sociological research, this paper proposes fifteen considerations for instilling critical engagement among individual educators. For whatever reason, many education students often feel that their small contribution to the education world cannot make a difference. When this attitude is multiplied across-the-board, the overall effect is enormous. Ultimately, those with the cultural capital (Delpit, 1988) often succeed academically regardless of the nefarious democratic educational experience they encounter, whereas a large number of students will not benefit from a critical learning experience (Duarte & Smith, 2000). At this point, some teachers may even say that they do not wish to be "political," yet the sociological literature on education clearly indicates that teaching is a political process (McLaren, 2007). Some students want to be more engaged when they learn of racism, classism, sexism and other forms of discrimination, when they make the connection between neo-liberalism and sustained under-development at home and abroad, or when they understand that the status quo may be simply re-producing inequitable power relations. Their interest in moving forward is often challenged and derailed by what they perceive as an inhospitable social environment, one that does not encourage critical debate on fundamental issues. Thus, reason for this paper is to provide education students with strategies, concepts and considerations for becoming engaged, and, significantly, for taking action aimed at ethical, relevant, social justice-based change. A cautionary note about the list of fifteen things that educators can do to make for a better educational experience for themselves and the plurality of students is necessary. One of the recurring problems one encounters when teaching one of the few mandatory sociological courses in a jam-packed undergraduate or graduate curriculum is that many of the students have the rather unfortunate conception that these courses are less central, less relevant, less substantive and, without reserve, less related to the science of teaching and pedagogy. Not uncoincidentally, many students openly request lists that will enable them to teach, for example, multicultural education. The notion that a quick 8-step approach could be used to have people become engaged in culture, learning, institutional change, diversity, racism and many other highly complex areas of inquiry conflicts with the notion that critical learning and engagement involves an on-going process, not just a lesson plan that will allow one to solidify relations with students. While content certainly has a place in education, the context is pivotal to education and schooling (Nieto & Bode, 2008). Therefore, my list is intended to be an anti-list of sorts, one that encourages thought, introspection, reflection and critical dialogue and action but does not limit the progressive and transformative work required to become a better teacher, one who is more attuned and responsive to the needs of all students.
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The influence of media on society is unquestioned. Its reach penetrates nearly every corner of the world and every aspect of life. But it has also been a contested realm, embodying class politics and the interests of monopoly capital. In The Political Economy of Media, one of the foremost media critics of our time, Robert W. McChesney, provides a comprehensive analysis of the economic and political powers that are being mobilized to consolidate private control of media with increasing profit — all at the expense of democracy.In this elegant and lucid collection, McChesney examines the monopolistic competition that has created a global media that is ever more concentrated and centralized. McChesney reveals why questions about the ownership of commercial U.S. media remain off limits within the political culture; how private ownership of media leads to the degradation of journalism and suppression of genuine debate; and why corporate rule threatens democracy by failing to provide the means for an educated and informed citizenry. The Political Economy of Media also highlights resistance to corporate media over the last century, including the battle between broadcasters and the public in the 1920s and 1930s and the ongoing media reform movement today. The Political Economy of Media makes it clear that the struggle over the ownership and the role of media is of utmost importance to everyone.
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Rev.& expanded from Case study research in education,1988.Incl.bibliographical references,index