Media literacy is essential for an educated population – The Durango Herald
The term “media literacy” is unknown, but it stirred up lawmakers at the Statehouse last week, resulting in a filibuster, multiple amendments and a very long discussion on teaching critical thinking students.
Most of us know what literacy is – reading and writing – and we encourage teaching it in schools to promote lifelong learning and academic success.
Media literacy is that and more. It teaches to be critical of what we see or hear on social, print, or broadcast media. It’s a term that I didn’t know existed before the advent of social media, but it has become an important part of the bourgeois debate.
Sometimes we see misinformation, for example, accidentally sharing wrong information. It looks right, so people share it somewhere without checking. But we also see disinformation when people share this misinformation even though they know it is wrong. They believe it should be right and their friends would agree, so they repeat it.
Two years ago, MP Lisa Cutter (D District 25) supported legislation to create a panel of experts to set up a curriculum and resource bank to assist educators in teaching media literacy. The advisory panel produced a 158-page document outlining the reasons for media literacy training and its inclusion in a curriculum, as well as a list of verified and research-based resources, professional development opportunities, and possible collaborative partnerships.
That year, I joined Rep. Cutter on a bill directing the Department of Education to incorporate media literacy materials into grade-appropriate civics, reading and writing curricula when standards come up for review. Educators will have the resources to teach media literacy as part of their daily coursework and to promote critical thinking and awareness.
The aim of the legislation is not to steer students in any particular ideological direction, but instead to provide them with tools to analyze all the information and then form their own opinion on the facts and evidence presented. Facts and opinions are not the same, and a solid public debate depends on this knowledge.
Many adults could also use this training.
A lawmaker told us that this information came too quickly, and since no one had enough time to read the document, they decided to read it out loud for all of us during a filibuster. The reading was stopped by the guide for 24 pages. In fact, the document has been available on the Colorado Department of Education website for the past two years: http://www.cde.state.co.us/standardsandinstruction/mlaclegislativereport2020.
Another legislator implied that the advisory committee was biased and therefore made a biased list of resources. The 12 committee members represented rural and urban school districts, broadcasters, nonprofit journalism organizations, librarians and parents. Nobody from the print media was available to participate. They represented the most diverse perspectives and regions of the country.
And yet another legislator said the bank should be open to the public for additions and deletions. Concerned parents are welcome to discuss changes with their school districts.
The resource bank is extensive, and educators can use any of them to meet the needs of their community. It is a suggested list of resources to make an educator’s life easier, but it is certainly not required. The document is not static; If the standards are reviewed every six years, the materials are also reviewed and the districts can participate and share the views of their constituents.
During the testimony phase, we had representatives of the non-partisan league of women’s voters, educators, students, school councils, school administrators and rural schools testify. They agreed that the next generation relies on social media for their messages and, without investigating the accuracy, will repeat and share what they see.
The bill is going through the House of Representatives and should be presented to the Senate next week.
Our decisions are only as good as the information we use to shape them.