Media Awareness Education: Eighteen Basic Principles

  1. Media Education is a serious and significant endeavor. At stake is the empowerment of individuals, especially minorities, and the strengthening of society's democratic structures.
  2. The central unifying concept of Media Education is that of representation. The media mediate. They do not reflect but re-present the world. The media, that is, are symbolic sign systems that must be decoded. Without this principle no media education is possible. From it, all else flows.
  3. Media Education is a lifelong process. High student motivation, therefore, must become a primary objective.
  4. Media Education aims to foster not simply critical intelligence, but critical autonomy.
  5. Media Education is investigative. It does not seek to impose specific cultural or political values.
  6. Media Education is topical and opportunistic. It seeks to illuminate the life-situations of learners. In doing so it may place the "here-and-now" in the context of wider historic and ideological issues.
  7. Content, in Media Education, is a means to an end. That end is the development of transferable analytical tools rather than an alternative content.
  8. The effectiveness of Media Education can be evaluated by just two criteria:
      (a) the ability of students to apply their critical thinking to new situations, and
      (b) the amount of commitment and motivation displayed by students.

  9. Ideally, evaluation in Media Education means student self-evaluation, both formative and summative.
  10. Indeed, Media Education attempts to change the relationship between teacher and taught by offering both objects for reflection and dialogue.
  11. Media Education carries out its investigations via dialogue rather than just discussion.
  12. Media Education is essentially active and participatory, fostering the development of more open and democratic pedagogies. It encourages students to take more responsibility for and control over their own learning, to engage in joint planning of the syllabus, and to take longer-term perspectives on their own learning.
  13. Media Education is much more about new ways of working in the classroom than it is about the introduction of a new subject area..
  14. Media Education involves collaborative learning. It is group focused. It assumes that individual learning is enhanced not through competition but through access to the insights and resources of the whole group.
  15. Media Education consists of both practical criticism and critical practice. It affirms the primacy of cultural criticism over cultural reproduction.
  16. Media Education is a holistic process. Ideally it means forging relationships with parents, media professionals and teacher-colleagues.
  17. Media Education is committed to the principle of continuous change. It must develop in tandem with a continuously changing reality.
  18. Underlying Media Education is a distinctive epistemology: Existing knowledge is not simply transmitted by teachers or "discovered" by students. It is not an end but a beginning. It is the subject of critical investigations and dialogue out of which new knowledge is actively created by students and teachers.
Author Bio: 

Len Masterman is a pioneering media educator in England and author of the seminal text, Teaching the Media, Comedia Books, 1985.