It’s a small world after all…

Setting the stage: How do we acquire a Critical Lens through which to examine Contemporary Art and Media Messages. How do we create a platform from where to share ideas / participate?

Fallen-Princesses-Dina-Goldstein-snowwhite

Dina Goldstein. “Fallen Princesses: Snowy”.

Children cannot develop and reflect by their own about ethical norms and that is why as educators we need to provide meaningful media education. A sense of media literacy awakes ethical values and when using media as a tool to create content, society can be empowered because all individuals are media creators and meaningful content can makes us grow. Now, cyberspace ethical norms are shaping the physical world behavior since it articulates our practices. The problem here is that because everything is connected: How are we constructing these content through which the world is perceived? Is discovering the same as observing? Are we passive consumers? I believe that learning to decode, deconstruct, “find secrets” (QUIJADA, A.) is perhaps the most accurate definition I have found to describe what it means to be a media literate.

We are all citizens and that means we have civilian ethical duties, so we have to teach our students to learn to read between the lines of the consumption industry messages. For example, author Jaron Lanier (as cited in his book “Who Owns the Future?”) warns us that if we keep on moving as if this is the one-way direction, advertising can lead to a dead-end. Therefore, media literacy is in my opinion, an educational priority since our society is struggling against a massive standardization of our beautiful existence as individuals. Another example is the erosion of the meaning that words such as freedom, love, wisdom, art, fun, uniqueness suffered because of how advertising have altered them through media campaigns. So, teaching about what makes humans unique by encouraging the youngers to become critical consumers of media, will shift the society towards a positive social change. Enabling this learning without it seeming like counter manipulation is not an easy task, yet, it is the challenge that teachers ought to face when creating lesson plans and putting them into practice. For instance, teaching how to acquire a critical lens through which examine contemporary art and media messages, can set the stage in the classroom to dismantle the content of what media is really communicating. Questions such as: Who decides the message? How is advertising educating our behavior? I believe, have the potential to ignite the individual’s critical lens.

On the other hand, after seeing many art exhibitions, and educational art programs, I feel there’s still a tremendous confusion and misconception in education about art itself being used as a social communication tool. Art should shift people’s minds, help them to understand the world, not consume it by making nice empty objects. At the same time, the relation between technology and youth seems to be more open and millennials who are media creators are enabling participation through projects which many of them set the stage for participatory culture (JENKINS, H.). This is an example of how art is positively used to share low barriers and high support for artistic expression and civic engagement. Art functions as an effective resistance because it has the power to critique the mass media and trace a bridge between popular culture and philosophical questions. What’s more encouraging, according to author Henry Jenkins, when creating platforms, we create a sense of these participatory culture forms where ethnicity, class and gender seems not to affect the development of media projects. Another important fact is that more than one-half of all teens have created media content (Pew Internet & American Life Project). So, I feel hopeful because as educators, we can host a democratic classroom that can work as a lab for new identities by developing collaborative problem solving and producing many forms of art expressions. And, if we can be our students mediators by teaching the guidelines to create meaningful content, students will no longer be isolated at school. They will be heard, listened and seen, because we are teaching them to become active participants of contemporary culture. At the end, globalization made us feel that indeed when connected through media, “it is a small world after all”. Let’s take advantage in education of it.

Letizia Balzi

Sources:

JENKINS, Henry. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture; Media Education in the 21st. Century. (pp. 1-27)

LANIER, Jaron. Who Owns the Future? Motivation (Chapter 1)

QUIJADA, Andrea. Creating Critical Thinkers Through Media Literacy. TEDxABQED
as retrieved from internet: http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Creating-Critical-Thinkers-Thro

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