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Media Literacy

Q&A: Lecturer discusses the new requirements for media literacy at LAUSD

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In March, the Los Angeles Unified School District School Board unanimously passed a resolution mandating critical media literacy learning from elementary through high school. The decision, led by LAUSD board member Jackie Goldberg and supported by Jeff Share, instructor for the UCLA Teacher Education Program, signals the realization that there is a need in education to teach critical thinking to students from an early age in order to be able to navigate the vortex of the Media fake news and disinformation.

Goldberg and Share recently interviewed Ampersand about LAUSD’s goals of introducing critical media literacy into Common Core learning, their own experiences with the media, and how critical thinking about media will prepare generations to be informed participants in democracy get.

How can young people today analyze news and media when they are bombarded with information 24/7? Do you think families today have the opportunity to talk to their children about it?

Goldberg: I think some kids who think critically in English or history classes are probably fine. But there are many children who, in my opinion, have no idea who they might benefit from [online information]what could be the motivation to have it written like [they] was able to check the facts. A lot of … students starting in elementary school see things on YouTube, believe things are true on TikTok – they just believe it is true because it is there.

There are all kinds of questions I would like to see young people ask [address] with media that most in my opinion don’t. And neither are their parents, because they did not have any more critical media lessons than I did, and I had none, except for the things that taught me to think critically, not with the media, but in general.

Parents, even if they watched the media with their kids – which most of them don’t have time to do – wouldn’t do much better than their kids, except … that parents are pretty clear that people are trying to sell something.

I think they are going to need a lot of help understanding that people are doing things [online] to sell things, to make money, to convince yourself that up is down and inside is out … [messages] who are racist, who are homophobic. I am not saying that everything is bad. Much of this, however, is motivated by more than “I just wanted to share a few facts that I discovered”.

Share: Nowadays it’s so hard to know what to believe because so many people are creating and posting information, and it takes work to sort the weeds and figure out what’s coming from a credible source, what the prejudices are and what is scientific Data or facts based. … It’s not an easy process. It’s never been easy, but today, with so much technology and information coming our way, it definitely requires a lot more work.

Goldberg: We now have people in public at our board meetings telling us vaccinations are dangerous, not wearing masks, putting the virus on your face and making you sick. And they call and say this to the world that is watching us [livestream]. It’s awful.

Share: You have other people who support that. There are right-wing think tanks like the Heartland Institute that promote quasi-science to disseminate information that is manifestly false or subtly misleading. It confuses people. And when people are tricked into doubting evidence, facts, and science, they don’t know what to believe, and then they think, “If I don’t know for sure, I won’t do anything”. Unfortunately, some people think, “We shouldn’t do anything about climate change because we don’t know exactly,” when in reality we have known for many years that human-made CO2 emissions are heating the atmosphere and creating a climate crisis. The ability of a few individuals and organizations, out of self-interest, to spread disinformation that confuses the public is extremely dangerous.

Will you be involved in developing the curriculum for this?

Goldberg: I hope it will be Jeff. I linked it to that [LAUSD] Instructor [Alison Yoshimoto-Towery]. We are starting very slowly, because first of all everyone is “hands on deck” so that the schools can be reopened. I told her when I passed [the resolution] that I wasn’t really expecting much now. What I was hoping, and she agreed, is that, before they leave, some of our seniors would give us some feedback from the students about what they thought they were getting and needed and should have gotten.

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