The authors Morrell and Duncan-Andrade discuss in their paper, “Popular Culture and Critical Media Pedagogy in Secondary Literacy Classrooms” how media impacts students. They talk about how in a world in which we watch tv constantly and are bombarded with advertisements daily we need to teach students to evaluate media critically. As they quote, “the problem does not reside in what we watch. The problem is that we watch. The solution must be found in how we watch.” I think it is an important distinction to suggest that we consider and alter how we watch tv instead of attempting to fight the losing battle in suggesting we no longer watch tv.
Although this paper was written in 2005 and part of the discussion is, in a lot of ways, no longer relevant, the heart of this paper is extremely relevant, perhaps even more so than when it was written. We are no longer in the age of watching tv, millennials and younger generations in general, are not watching cable, and if they do watch tv it is found on streaming services like Netflix or on YouTube. Students are still being constantly bombarded with advertisements, only now, it’s found on the Internet, a place where the ads can be and are specifically tailored to the user. Students must be able to recognize that advertisements are specifically targeted towards them, and to think critically about how and why that is.
Furthermore, we live in an age where anything can be googled and fact-checked but most things are not. Students accept and trust information given to them in a tweet rather than a legitimate, trustworthy news source. I know, because I am guilty of this too. It’s important to teach students to fact-check what they are reading on social media and other websites, and to consider the biases behind the person or company that wrote it. We cannot have a well-informed society unless we teach the next generation how to evaluate the information they are receiving at all times.
I have considered and thought about encouraging students to find one thing they read on the Internet (or in print if they do not have access), and to first fact check the reliability of what they read, then to evaluate the potential biases of the writer, and third if they so choose to learn more about that subject. If I were to implement this assignment in my classroom, I would make it a weekly assignment to help establish this line of thinking. I think this would (1) help students to think twice about what they read when they come across it, (2) encourage an environment of learning for learnings sake, and (3) provide me, the teacher information on student interests to help tailor and make future units relevant to the kids I am teaching.