Saturday, September 7, 2013

Theory into Practice Reading Response 1

(For TMA 690)
            Literacy, pedagogy, and access combined made for a pretty broad scope within one week’s focus, but I was able to find considerable material for reflection.  I anticipate that a large portion of my application for course content will be in providing education, training, and resources for parents to use to increase media literacy in the home.
            The Core MLE principles are a fantastic springboard for beginning conversations with parents about the need and relevance of media literacy.  I hope we will be covering these principles in more depth in this course, I hope to accumulate more resources for promoting these principles and concepts.
            Democracy and Education (chapters 1 &3) touched on all 3 topics of interest this week, but I felt its most valuable and sizeable contribution to the dialogue was in its encouragement to pedagogically enlist students’ own interest and effort in increasing their (relevant) education.  Calling this “educative results of teaching,” a student who is gaining practice in critical thinking gains a long term tool for increasing their scope of understanding and processing information, rather than just accumulating information.  There was also support in this document for balancing formal and informal approaches to education and especially for conjoint activities  that allow for “full participation” from students and encourage exploration and a mastery of the context and properties of the explored medium.  This reminded me a lot of Montessori methods of education, which promote child-led learning.
            Pedagogy of the Oppressed (chapters 1&2) was a little trickier to make direct correlations through for the first chapter, though most of those I did find were linked to access.  The second chapter was more directly applicable with pedagogy, especially encouraging learning that can only occur in an environment of trust and mutual respect between teacher and student, both willing to learn from each other.
            The overarching message of the pedagogical content of the reading was the need to assist students in developing critical thinking skills, as opposed to shorter-term, more measureable ends such as test scores or accurate regurgitation of information.   This can be especially challenging for parents who can’t so easily organize their interactions with their children to always remain cognizant of the learning and teaching opportunities afforded them.  The formal/informal teaching balance mentioned in Democracy and Education becomes a valuable concept here.
            Friere’s concept of trust in the teacher/student relationship has myriad applications to parent/child relationships as well, especially in trying to empower media users rather than just protect them from undesirable content.  His principle of encouraging real dialogue has tremendous potential in a family setting, as well as some additional challenges that may not be present in a classroom setting.

            Addressing access, I’m always terribly interested in dissecting the social injustices that slip almost unnoticed into the fabric of cultural socialization.  Most people that I’m able to interact with have pretty consistent access to media and technology via the internet, but often don’t know where to find voices that resonate with their life experience or lives that look like theirs in media that still has meaning and creates engaging, relevant narratives.   Rather than access to the medium, the struggle becomes access to material relevant to their view of self and lived experience.  I think this struggle is particularly relevant for those feeling ostracized across issues of gender, disability, and unconventional interests, or even precocity.  I have a dear friend whose 7 year old daughter is a genius.  She’s qualified to skip grades and reads novels far above the age appropriate reading level. (Compared to my 7 year old who is still learning to read)  She’s more often than not found wearing her Darth Vader helmet, and she loves building with Legos, all while wearing pink tulle skirts.

She has a really hard time accessing a media reality that accommodates the parameters of her experienced reality.  She doesn’t fit anyone’s marketing demographic, and she feels it.  Luckily she has a mother who engages in precisely the kind of dialogue we are promoting here.  This is most fortunate as they are together working to counter the unhealthy undercurrent of dieting and body-image culture that permeates grade school girls in her area.    (Likely in most areas)

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