Voices of Media Literacy: International Pioneers Speak : Len Masterman Interview Transcript


“…you can teach about the media most effectively, not through a content-centered approach, but through the application of a conceptual framework which can help pupils to make sense of any media text. And that applies every bit as much to the new digitized technologies as it did to the old mass media…The acid test of whether a media course has been successful resides in students’ ability to respond critically to media texts they will encounter in the future. Media education is nothing if it is not an education for life…My own objectives were to liberate pupils from the expertise of the teacher, and to challenge the dominant hierarchical transmission of knowledge which takes place in most classrooms. In media studies information is transmitted laterally, to both students and teachers alike. The teacher’s role is not to advocate a particular view but to promote reflection upon media texts, and develop the kind of questioning and analytical skills, which will help students to clarify their own views.”


Len Masterman was the first person to propose the serious study of the mass media in schools, through the use of key ideas and concepts that would provide a way of studying, in a rigorous and disciplined way, the diverse range of material which constitute media content. Len started his career as a teacher. He became an international sensation with the 1980 publication of his book, “Teaching about Television,” which sold out twice on its print run in the first six months of publication and ultimately sold 100,000 copies worldwide after five years of rejection by many publishers. His subsequent book, “Teaching the Media,” applies the systematic framework he developed to media as a whole; this book was published in 1985. Masterman is now retired.

Selected Questions:
How did you become involved in the field or in the movement of media education...what inspired the beginning of your journey?
How old were your students?
And how did they receive your material?
How did teachers respond to your work?

For complete text of interview go to PDF.