There is no education which is not, at the same time, media education

Susanne Krucsay, Former School teacher and Head of Meda Department, Austrian Ministry of Education

In my former life as head of the media pedagogy department in the Austrian Ministry of Education, the Arts and Culture manifestos, formal declarations, ordinances and the like used to play an important part in my effort to establish media education as an everyday practice and indispensible part of formal education. I am not going to repeat the content-rationale(s), which my colleagues have already integrated into their contributions. It goes without saying that I agree with most of what has been said. A direct link to my contribution is Cary Bazalgette’s mention of how closely media education is embedded in the evolution of educational paradigms. This is why I would rather address educational policy decision makers with arguments used in the series of documents from the past 25 years:

My motto for the manifesto goes back to the Austrian ordinance on media education, version  2001. The same idea is used as the appeal of the Manifesto on media education published in Germany 2009.  (

School as the institution for formal education which all children (at least in our hemispheres)  attend is committed to equip them with the skills/competences needed in the so called information society. These skills should be taught and trained on both curricular and transcurricular levels.


In the information or knowledge society there is no education which is not, at the same time, media education, be it education through media and/or education about media. This means that beside the cross-curricular practice media education is, or rather should be, a transcurricular approach which transcends and challenges the traditional  borders between the disciplines in school. In the same way it is a link between school and life worlds of children and young people outside school – we all know there is a divide between the two which we should attempt to bridge. Media education should train  competences/abilities, which prove useful and productive for lifelong learning. Raising contents and above all principles of media education onto the transcurricular level means that media education is an agent of change and sustainability.

UNESCO has proclaimed the decade 2005-2015 the decade of sustainability, 10 years, in which special emphasis should be laid on awakening and raising the awareness of children and young people on how important it is to reflect the significance of particular fields of problems which affect our lives and sometimes also the lives of our descendants. These fields are usually associated with environment, climate and energy resources, areas which are essential for the survival of mankind and should definitely be integrated into education.

The segment on sustainability in education provides for people committed to media education an impressive déjà-vu experience:

literacy, aesthetic appreciation and creativity, communication and collaboration, information management, responsible citizenship, personal life skills, values and actions

are the components of sustainable education in R. McKewon’s Toolkit.

In other words, what I mean in this context is a change of paradigm of education, of pedagogy in the epistemological sense.

We need the ability to deal with a multitude of diverging standpoints, which, in turn, requires the skill to deconstruct and reconstruct the standpoints of others. In this way problem-solving capacities are trained, just as at the same time students can experience themselves as active constructors in a social context.

Understanding is not merely reproducing content, it is critical questioning of conditions and motivations as a basis for acquiring knowledge autonomously.

We increasingly need methods such as dialogue, co-operation, considering creative affective elements as equal partners alongside the cognitive aspects: Media education also means pleasure and enjoyment!

Transcurricular considerations naturally require a great deal of re-thinking both at the organisational and the teacher training level. Anne Sliwka calls this vertical and horizontal coherence. Ideally the principles should be put into place from primary education up to the final grades. This in turn needs teachers of all disciplines who are aware and trained in the strategies and principles mentioned.


Mc Keown, Rosalynn: Education for Sustainable Development Toolkit in:

SLIWKA, Anne: Citizenship Education as the Responsibility of an Entire School: Structural and Cultural Implications. In:G.Himmelmann/D. Lange (eds.):Demokratiekompetenz. Beiträge aus Politikwissenschaft, Pädagogik und politischer Bildung. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften Wiesbaden 2005, 184-194.)

Susanne Krucsay worked as a teacher at a grammar school in Vienna for 16 years before becoming head of the media department, with special emphasis on media literacy in the Austrian Ministry of Education. She is the Arts and Culture; editor-in-chief of the quarterly MEDIENIMPULSE – now ( ) and the website She is a lecturer in teacher training in German, English, Media Education and member of the Experts Group for Media Literacy at the EU Commission


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  1. Cary Bazalgette says:

    There’s an interesting scenario implicit here and in other contributions, that the need for a manifesto specifically for media education has disappeared, in the face of perhaps more important arguments about pedagogy, cross-disciplinarity and the increasing irrelevance of traditional subject boundaries. This would be more pressing at the level of general schooling where any special-interest pleading is always at a disadvantage. For example in the forthcoming Review of the National Curriculum in England, is there any point in making special arguments for media education? Or should we work with others to devise a more radical rethink of the whole approach to knowledge in basic education?

    • Mandy Powell says:

      Media education needs to be continuously plugged in to inter/intra sector and disciplinary developments and debates. However, there is also a need for a distinct media education manifesto that defines and re-defines itself on its own terms in response to developments and debates, yes, but doesn’t collapse into them.

    • Susanne Krucsay says:

      The question you raise are the very questions I have been asking myself since I don’t know when..I think it was back in the last century when I suggested a two-way approach: Having a subject in its own right (e.g. Media Studies)
      a n d keeping the didactic principle of Media Education on the transcurricular and intercurricular level. This double stranded strategy is implicitly expressed in the last passage of my statement (re-thinking teacher training)

  2. Ingrid Geretschlaeger says:

    If schooling and thus literacy education was at its best, we would not have to talk about media education at all since literacy is the ability to use all means of communication available in a given society to receive, to give and to appreciate and critically evaluate information, entertainment messages etc.
    As long as education and schooling does not embrace all the given means of communication and is just focussing on certain means in ways that do not take into account the living conditions and (cognitive, developmental, cultural, orientational etc.) prerequisites among its pupils there will be people like us (media educators) who see the need for and think it of great importance to focus on media education to at least come from this end to bring fresh air into teaching so that it will be relevant to those who grow up in the actual societal framework which differs so much to the setting for growing up of previous generations of children. As long as teachers ignore the existence and dominance of the variety of media in the socialization process we need to make media a special topic and until the time where all the media – quality media as well as popular culture issues, mass media – print, audio, digital, participatory and interactive etc. – are subject to close and intensive study in teacher training (further as well as even more importantly initial) we will find a lack of understanding and sensitivity towards the need for this kind of “reflection of reality”.

  3. Cary Bazalgette says:

    I can see the attraction of wanting to make media education a “special topic” but that can play into the hands of those who want to keep it marginal: “Media education? Oh but that’s a special topic – not for everyone – so not necessary in teacher training.” Your metaphor of tending a tiny flame that will inevitably grow into a bush fire might be delusional.

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