Part 1: What is Media Literacy?

The following blog is intended to enlighten students and parents about media literacy and its inclusion in the Ontario curriculum. At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, educators around the globe are increasingly focusing on the need to foster in students critical skills in media literacy. The paradigmatic shift in the ways that media infiltrates and influences our daily lives necessitate new perspectives, teachings, and critiques of the messages and representations that the media dictates. Media literacy, according to the Ontario English Curriculum documents, is “an informed and critical understanding of the nature of the media, the techniques used by them, and the impact of these techniques”. Furthermore, it involves “the ability to understand and use the mass media in an active, critical way”. Along with this definition the curriculum specifies 5 key concepts, or guiding principles of media literacy. 

They are:

1) All media are constructions
2) The media contain beliefs and value messages
3) Each person interprets messages differently
4) The media have special interests (commercial, ideological and political)
5) Each medium has its own language, style, form, techniques, conventions, and aesthetics

Critical media literacy is essentially the ability to recognize and understand the implications that these key concepts have on our personal, social and political lives. It is the ability to assess, interpret, decipher, de-code, de-construct, unpack, question, and critique messages, symbols and representations that are dictated by the media and propagated in popular culture. Stay tuned for a follow-up blog outlining why critical media literacy is important to student learning…

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