When I was the age of the students that I currently teach (K-5), finding any relevant information on a certain school related topic was the goal. You either were lucky enough to have access to a set of encyclopedias or you had to visit your local library in order to tap into ‘fairly’ reliable information sources. (The asterisk denotes the fact that this information may not have been all that timely). There was no teaching of how to evaluate sources for bias. The mere fact that info was found was the measurable and successful outcome.
Nowadays, my students need to be info miners, finding relevance amid the over abundance of sources, all shouting for their attention. Herein lies the need for critical thinking and evaluation. This critical shift in information access denotes the need for today’s students to be able to gauge the reliability, accountability and relevance of the sources they view.
When I recently asked my 5th graders (10 to 11 year olds) in a co-taught Media Lit class what they think of when they hear the word ‘literacy’, they all agreed it had to do with reading text. I expected this to be the case and so I, therefore, took the time to help expand their thinking. I proposed that they gain clarity in their literacy of viewing ads, understanding bias and discerning fake from real. Social media and peer to peer communication has an additional layer of info gathering that goes well beyond traditional info sources. Rumors and misinformation can spread rampantly, virally.
Today’s students are up against a highly sophisticated info gathering machine that surreptitiously collects their data while they use game apps. (See the following article from a recent New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/09/12/technology/kids-apps-data-privacy-google-twitter.html) Educators and parents need to help student become incrementally aware of this highly complex and ‘noisy’ terrain that they often unwittingly traverse.
I see the new South Carolina College and Career Ready Standards for Visual and Performing Arts Proficiency Standards as a positive step forward for educators, students and parents alike. In their very essence, the Media Arts Standards call for large amounts of describing, analyzing and evaluating sources. We cannot always control what our students view but we can help equip them with building a budding sense of discernment. Like them it will grow with both time and nurturing.
Please view my Glogster (graphical blog) in order to digest the subject even better.