The United States is the world’s largest producer and consumer of media. At the turn of the century the average eleven year-old in the U.S. was watching twenty-one hours of TV a week (Winn) and encountering three thousand advertisements a day (PBS). By the age of eighteen, they will have seen over ten million advertisements (PBS) for products, politicians, careers, and lifestyles – increasingly through visual and new forms of digital media. Presently, the U.S. is the only English speaking country in the world that does not have a national educational curriculum designed to teach children about these dominant forms of media and their messages.
The TMS Philosophy has been developed through our research and experiences as educators, scholars, media professionals, and citizens of the digital age to address the need for media education for youth in the U.S.
Our approach is rooted in the core principles of critical media analysis (see our media literacy page) with the following beliefs guiding us.
Media literacy is critical to maintaining independence and identity in the digital age.
Media education provides citizens with the foundation to actively and critically engage media in their environment and determine who they are in relation to the agendas of those who produce media.
foundations: Hall, Tyner, Winn, Hobbs, PBS
The 21st Century idea of “Literacy” should include new media to serve the democratic ideal of an educated and informed citizenry.
Literacy and critical thinking skills, the foundation of education, empower individuals to inform themselves through information gathering to make decisions in the interest of themselves and their community. In the “digital” or “information” age, proficiency in image and computer communication is as vital to this process as print literacy. Media education should be a fundamental part of our society’s pedagogy.
foundations: Jefferson (1820), Kerry (2006), Eco, CML
Critical analysis of media should be emphasized over judgement of particular media or their content.
Rather than flattening media (i.e. television, books, the Internet) or media outlets (i.e. Fox, NBC, World Book) into “good” or “bad, “biased” or “unbiased”, and so on, we encourage individuals to be aware of how and why media are produced. We feel that by participating in and learning the basics of production students are more likely to recognize the inherent bias in any media message, regardless of its subjective value. Whatever a producer’s intent, the media they produce will be interpreted differently by different audiences. We want TMS participants to think about why.
foundations: NAMLE, Tyner, Kellner, Hall
Media literacy is not equivalent to technological or vocational mastery of production tools.
We emphasize understanding and analysis of the media production process over mastery of the technical tools of production. Computers and software vary in different environments. We focus on making participants aware of the unique languages different media use to communicate. Students have varying interests, strengths and technical abilities. The TMS collaborative production process insures the completion of projects allowing participants to contribute to the decision making process in all aspects of production, regardless of their technological interests.
foundations: Hobbs, Tyner
Collaboration between children of the digital age and media professionals from varying backgrounds create teachable moments for the key principals of media literacy.
TMS productions require participants to work closely at each stage of production with experienced writers, storyboard artists, directors and editors. The various points of view and styles that these collaborators bring to the table during the creative process can increase awareness of the wide range of audience interpretation inherent in mediated communication. Each production decision provides opportunities to discuss key principals of media literacy while they are tangible for all collaborators.
Beyond access to technology, increased learning and media literacy through the use of new media requires adequate planning and support personnel.
We believe that reducing teacher frustration with technology operation in learning environments is a crucial to production-based media literacy curricula taking hold in U.S. education. To accomplish this requires a coherent plan for technology acquisition and management. To increase media literacy and learning through the media production process, educators must be free to capitalize on teachable moments related to the unique languages of print and visual media during production. We encourage educators to design projects utilizing only the technology that can be adequately maintained and supported in their learning environment, and to involve support personnel when possible in the classroom.
foundations: Tyner, COSN