To be honest at the outset, I’m not sure that a manifesto for Media Education (capitals intentional) is possible or even advisable, although I believe in the value, socially, personally and, yes, economically of media education (lack of capitals equally intentional) – otherwise I wouldn’t be teaching it. But the reason I can teach it (post-16 at any rate) isn’t that it needs teaching, it’s that students want to do the courses.
I find it surprising how many new undergraduates on the foundation degree I run don’t actually know what they are doing here or what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Some of them expect to be making ‘films’, some want to ‘do animation’, others just don’t know. But still, something brings them there.
At last year’s Media Education Summit, Marc Prensky asked, “Where are the students?” There is a lot of talk about students being more media-literate, media-engaged and digitally-native than we are as educators but there seems to be very little engagement of students in debates about media education.
So, given that this manifesto project can’t just be about defending our assaulted grants, departments, jobs and self-esteem and it must really be about working out how to better develop the personal and social capital of those we educate, I thought they should see what was being said about their subject.
I gave my first-years a morning to read and discuss the site and then to get together and talk about what they wanted out of the course, why they thought media education was good for them and why they did it. They pulled out some broad categories they agreed on and got together to produce this response. In total, including discussion and planning time, they had about 6 hours.
I think what the result shows is that they have as many varied ideas about how media education is good for them as the contributors to the site do. I think reading the contributions gave some of them new ideas about what the value of their education could be, so I hope it’s been a positive little exercise for them. I also hope that it shows the value of engaging students in the media education debate.