Mrs. Robb, Democracy and Media Literacy teacher, testified for a new bill at the state house on Thursday, October 31, with five of her most passionate students.
The proposed House and Senate Bill, which may be found at massmedialiteracyconsortium.org, would make “the department of elementary and secondary education authorize and assist in the implementation of programs on teaching media literacy.” This is in order to “ensure students develop the independent thinking and critical analysis skills needed to navigate the messages of a media-saturated world.” Basically, it would make media literacy classes mandatory in every school in Massachusetts so that students are more immune to the messages they are constantly bombarded with.
Mrs. Robb, who has been teaching Democracy and Media Literacy since 2001, believes that teaching media literacy is particularly important in today’s world. Prior to her testimony, she said, “We live in a media-saturated society. People are affected by the media messages we receive every day, and we can’t do anything about that. So the purpose of this class is to help students realize how we’re affected by it and what we can do to minimize it. For this particular democracy class, it’s about helping students to make their own choices, how to make their own freely chosen decisions.”
The five students who came with her were Jack Cox, Sophie Dapper, Emily Granoff, Maddie Hines, and Cole Organisciak, who had been preparing for the last three weeks. They are all Mrs. Robb’s previous students. Mrs. Robb chose these five students from her previous class because they were comfortable speaking in front of a large group and demonstrated both passion and initiative on the subject. They explained why they personally were enthusiastic about Media Literacy.
Granoff said of the class, “It was a blast!…I really loved it because it doesn’t teach you facts; it teaches you how to find facts, and how to be a more informed citizen.”
Cox expanded on that idea: “[The class] really engages the student in the education process, and it teaches you not just how to learn, but how to learn adaptively.”
Mrs. Robb and her students’ testimonies were completely voluntary; however, they were asked to participate by the Massachusetts Media Literacy Consortium and by Media Literacy Now, two media literacy advocacy groups.
The curricula of the Media Literacy classes would include evaluating internet sources, determining the purposes of advertising, perceiving points of view of sources, and, overall, teaching how media can influence ideas and behaviors.
By Gauri Narayan