Katie Quartuch, a teacher and graduate student, has served as MLN intern over the past year. She helped us launch a new feature on the resources page to guide people to organizations that are offering media literacy programs in their local state or city. Thanks also to Elizabeth Clifford for her editing role on this project. ⇒See the listings here⇐
By Katie Quartuch
Oh, the irony. I’m sitting down to write my first blog post, at nearly 35 years old, and the post is about media literacy!
I’m a teacher, a mother, and an avid user of the Internet. As a social studies teacher I am tasked with helping students develop a sense of critical cautiousness about their media, but to also help them remain hopeful about the future and people with their media projects. As their newsfeeds grow more and more honed in on their individual ideas, interests, and biases, we try to help them find broad and diverse news sources.
As a parent of a nine year old, a six year old, and seven month old, I also have heavy responsibilities at home. I’m sure most parents can attest to the nimbleness and intuitiveness young children show using technology and media.
“No you can’t chat with that player.”
“No you can’t post that video of you singing on YouTube.”
But here too we face the conflicting urges of wanting our kids to create and connect while being savvy about what they create and with whom they connect.
I even reconsider my own media consumption at times. Am I reading broadly enough for my news? Am I searching and finding the most relevant research for my dissertation? Am I wasting too much time on Facebook?
The burden of exposing my students to good media, helping my children engage with good media, and utilizing good media can be daunting. But what I continue to realize with age is that we are not managing these tasks alone. We are not alone in our lesson planning, in our management of our children’s internet use, or in wondering about the impact media is having on our own well-being. Blogs help many of us realize that, because they are often written by regular people going through the same or similar issues.
I have just completed a project for Media Literacy Now to identify media literacy programs ready to support local schools and youth organizations. This project, once again, reinforced that there are tremendous resources out there to help us in these tasks. As I combed through websites, I was astounded by all of the important work being done by media literacy groups across the country. We cannot give in to the idea that we must simply consume the media we see. Nor can we pretend that as teachers, parents, and conscientious citizens we don’t play an active role in shaping media and how it affects us. These resources remind us to stay vigilant about the messages we let affect those we care about and to empower us to expect more of our media.