My middle school students no longer “Google-it” – they “YouTube-it.”
Think about this. Think about how our children process information different than we do. How we want them to process information the same as us – but they don’t.
Two articles jumped out at me this weekend in The Week magazine:
A recent study by Stanford University found that “82 percent of middle schoolers couldn’t distinguish a real news story on a website from a ‘sponsored content’ post by a business.” (The Week, p. 6, December 2, 2016).
In 1948, in response to those who failed to stand up to the rising influence of the Nazis in Germany, Carlo Schmid stated “we must have the courage to be intolerant of those who take advantage of democracy in order to destroy it” (The Week, p. 14, December 2, 2016).
Visual images – both still (photographs) and moving (video) – have their own language, their own rules, and their own means of persuasion. Just like language arts and math, our children need to be versed in these rules. It is a new day: persuasion techniques such as camera angle, leading lines, dissolves, contrast, supers… need to be taught to our children.
Issues like “fake news,” digital footprints, cyber bullying, cyber safety, evaluation of Internet sites, plagiarism, and intellectual property – all need to be a part of our children’s school experience and learning.
The Internet is one of the greatest gifts my generation has given to the next. But like all scientific advances – Pandora’s box opens.
Our children need to learn in school the skills to be media savvy – as both media producers – and as media consumers.
A misinformed population is the biggest peril of democracy.
Tom Vranesich is a Library Media Specialist at the Franklin Avenue Middle School in Franklin Lakes, NJ. He has received a Fulbright Scholarship, and will be in the Netherlands from January to June 2017 to study best practices in the teaching of media literacy.