Does your school district in Rhode Island teach media literacy?
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Most elementary and high school students in Rhode Island do not receive media education, according to a report from the Media Education Lab.
After polls and interviews with more than 500 educators, parents, elected officials and school leaders, researchers at the lab, housed at the University of Rhode Island and headed by principal Renee Hobbs, found that if most residents Because of the importance of teaching media literacy, most schools do not include it in their curricula.
Disinformation, or “made up” news – like the political genre so often seen during elections – is viewed as a critical issue by most Americans.
Studies have also shown that fake news and poor understanding of the media can influence economic, political and social well-being. Toxic social media can also deepen the political and cultural divide, according to the Pew Research Center. But it has been proven in the United States and elsewhere that digital media education can also increase the discernment between what is real and what is disinformation, according to a recent report co-edited by David G. Rand, professor of science. of Management and Cognitive Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“And it’s not just about answering the question of ‘can our children read the news’ or not,” said Hobbs, who is also a journalism professor at the Harrington School of Communication and Media in the URI. “Outside of school, kids are their own YouTube and TikTok creators. Why don’t schools and educators seize this opportunity? It’s a place for the development of communication skills, for self- representation, ethics and responsible use of media. These are important and rich conversations that would prepare children for the world. “
The study was also led by a law passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly in 2017, which mandated the state’s Department of Education to consider including media education in the plan. basic state education. But in the report, it is clearly stated: “To date, the Rhode Island Department of Education has made no progress in meeting this obligation. “
Victor Morente, spokesperson for the state’s education department, said the Education Council “approved” new standards for libraries and media last spring, which are the national standards.
Pam Steager, head of Media Literacy Now Rhode Island, is co-author of the report.
Q: What were your main conclusions?
Hobbs: Most people in Rhode Island are aware of the importance of teaching media literacy as they see the consequences of misinformation, political polarization and misinformation that spreads through social media. Those who responded to the survey said that the most important reason for rating media literacy is its ability to improve a person’s ability to analyze information and recognize high quality sources, but only one in three students learn to understand and analyze media in Rhode Island schools. .
And most Rhode Island students don’t know of media literacy learning experiences that might help them understand advertising or the economics of the media industries.
Q: What surprised you the most about the report?
Hobbs: The schools of West Warwick were a treat. I was able to go to schools a few years ago and saw that students there are exposed to media education in elementary, middle and high school. But then in Warwick, which we’ve given a ‘D’ to, or even in places like schools in Coventry, Exeter-West Greenwich, media literacy and basic teaching practices only hit the mark. a small part of the learners. In addition, educators, school leaders and other community members report a significant number of barriers that children face that limit innovation (such as access to technology, readiness students and school climate).
Barrington was also a surprise (the report ranked the district on a C +). There is a teacher and a few other educators who are really dedicated to media education in middle school, but this is lacking in high school and elementary school.
Q: What advice would you give to teachers who don’t know how to take the first step in teaching media literacy?
Hobbs: It can be included in most lessons, but it requires buy-in from a passionate teacher. School and district leaders could and should create a district-wide interdisciplinary map to incorporate basic media education practices from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
We also have a ton of [free] educational resources on our website that help break down lesson plans, study guides, and media resources on all kinds of topics (like teaching 9/11, deconstructing Disney movies, helping understand copyright and online games that introduce children to digital literacy). And we have webinars for educators and principals.