Critical Thinking and Media Literacy
Forget writing private thoughts down on paper—these days, kid’s journals exist in cyberspace. From Facebook to WordPress to Tumblr, kid’s lives are played out in a much more public domain.
How can we make sure that our kids, who are arguably the biggest users of technology—cellphones, computers, blogging, etc.—are savvy consumers and users of media? But more importantly, do we have a responsibility as parents and educators to ensure that our children are media literate?
A conversation between Dan Rather and Andy Carvin from PBS Teachers Learning.Now examined how even well-seasoned journalists can have difficulty recognizing valid sources on the Internet. If journalists find identifying bias and propaganda challenging, imagine how difficult it is for children to identify what does and doesn’t constitute a reliable, safe media experience?
Learning about media literacy is on par with learning to be a critical, active thinker—both require a student to look beyond the words in front of them and to ask important, probing questions:
- Who produced the material or site that I am reading?
- What message does it deliver?
- Is this message in line with what I already know to be true? Does it offer an alternative view that is supported by facts and research?
- Is any important fact being overlooked or deliberately left out?
- Who is the author and what are his or her credentials?
Times, they are a-changing. The diary with a lock on the side is a relic—it’s time to start having conversations about how we can incorporate media literacy into our curriculum. But until media literacy is taught in schools, the onus for making sure children are educated media users, producers, and consumers is on each of us.
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What are your plans to make this summer an educational one? Summer school? Day camps? Lazy days at the beach? Whatever your plans, these tips make your summer both educational and fun!
- Read, read, read! Read a book, a magazine, or a comic book. Talk about what you have just read. Make connections, and look up unknown words. Make a chart to track the plot—the key is to think actively about the reading.
- Keep a journal or a scrapbook. Record the day’s activities, or start a short story and add a bit to it everyday.
- Play games. Games like Soduko, Crossword puzzles, or word games like Boggle, Scrabble, and Upwords are great to challenge the mind and keep it sharp over the summer.
- Play nature games. Gather materials from around you: a rock, a shell, a flower, an acorn, a penny, etc. Then arrange all the items and study them. Next, cover the items with a towel and ask players to remember as many items as they can. The one who remembers the most wins! Take turns gathering items.
- Write and perform a backyard play. Tape it, and then watch it together.
- Check out the great summer programs at your local Oxford Learning.
What are your summer learning plans? Let us know by leaving a comment!
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Consider the word FUN. Overly concerned with development, parents are sucking all the fun out of childhood. They say manners are fun! Brushing your teeth is fun! Homework is fun! And activities that used to be genuinely fun—building forts, horseplay, and puddle-jumping get described as “good for you” or educational. And activities as simple as pretending are now being observed and analyzed. Is my child playing house as well as other children?
But parents can hardly be to blame for this over-analysis of childhood when institutions like the Association for Psychological Science and the American Society of Pediatrics releasing studies on simple childhood behaviors such as horseplay.
Do institutions really need to study such a thing? Don’t we intrinsically know that horseplay is good for kids? Do we need formal research to prove it?
Do you remember roughhousing as a kid? Do you remember how much fun it was (except for that one time you accidentally hit your head off the coffee table?)
Why do we have to examine every behavior as beneficial to our child’s development or as advantageous to his or her future? And why do we even try to hold childhood up to this impossible standard? Yes school and schoolwork is serious business, but we’re talking play here.
Sometimes it’s okay to just let childhood be good clean puddle-jumping, frog-catching horse-playing fun.
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