Monday, January 23, 2012

Quotes I'd Like My Future Principal to Ponder: Participatory Media Education and Civic Education Are Inextricable

From the article titled "Head of State" in the print edition (subscription required, although if you are in a school you most likely have access to it through one of your library subscription services) in the November 7th, 2011 issue of Time magazine:
Whereas US Envoys once filed secret cables to Washington late at night, Clinton has pushed her ambassadors to expand the use of Twitter and Facebook - State now has 192 Twitter feeds and 288 Facebook accounts - and her daughter Chelsea calls her TechnoMom. "We are in the age of participation," Clinton said at her husband's charity even in New York City in September, "and the challenge . . . is to figure out how to be responsive, to help catalyze, unleash, channel the kind of participatory eagerness that is there."

Clinton is trying to ensure these changes are permanent: she requires every diplomat who rotates through the foreign-service institute to get training in social media. (p. 31, emphasis mine).
The United States Secretary of State is requiring every diplomat to get training in social media - sure seems like perhaps we should be doing the same with and for our students. Yet typically social media participation is looked down upon in schools and, in fact, banned outright and blocked by our Internet filters. I'd like my future principal to reflect on the above quote and then lead our faculty in a discussion of whether we are truly preparing our students for their future when we block most if not all social media, much less work with our students to help them unleash the potential power of it.

That reminds me of another quote, this one from the National Council for the Social Studies Position Statement on Media Literacy:
The 21st century world is media saturated, technologically dependent, and globally connected. We live in a multimedia age where the majority of information people receive comes less often from print sources and more typically from highly constructed visual images, complex sound arrangements, and multiple media formats. The multimedia age requires new skills for accessing, analyzing, evaluating, creating, and distributing messages within a digital, global, and democratic society. The acquisition and application of critical analysis and media production skills are part of what constitutes media literacy. The Internet and the everyday use of social networking technologies, together with the expansive growth of corporate entertainment media and the integration of popular culture, also require us as social studies educators to link participatory media literacy with civic education. (Emphasis mine.)
If the majority of information people receive comes less often from print sources, then I'd like to see my future principal engage our faculty in a conversation around whether that is also true of our classrooms. If not, should it be, and what might that look like?

And the money quote cited in that same article, from Howard Rheingold:
“In the twenty-first century, participatory media education and civic education are inextricable” (Rheingold, 2008, p. 103)
So, in other words, if we aren't teaching participatory media, then we aren't teaching civics. Since we're required to teach civics, I'm hopeful that my future principal would help us as a faculty figure out how best to incorporate that into our classes.


  1. Karl.. is this guy you describe... not you?

  2. monika - Funny. No, not me. First, I don't have the paper qualifications to be considered for a principal's position. Second, I'd be horrible in that kind of position.