As the field of
media is broad teachers need a critical framework for
attempting to make sense of this area needs a clear
conceptual framework that will allow for discussion of a
variety of complex and interrelated factors.
Anyone attempting to make sense of this area needs a clear conceptual framework that will allow for discussion of a variety of complex and interrelated factors. For elementary teachers, this need is perhaps even greater than for their secondary colleagues because of the more fluid, integrated nature of the elementary class—things tend to just "come up" as the result of student interest or enthusiasm: someone comes in wearing a Bart Simpson T-shirt, or the whole class is swept away by World Series enthusiasm. A teacher has to be ready to seize (in Barry Duncan's words) "the teachable moment," and a framework that will lead to rational, critical discourse about any text is a must.
This is also necessitated by the elementary teacher's need to integrate more, as the same critical concepts have to be applied to a wide variety of different materials as they appear in the curriculum.
A number of such frameworks have been developed in various parts of the world in the last few years, as media education has moved forward globally. Most of them express the same things in different ways: it appears that having a framework is what is important, not necessarily having a specific framework.
Here we present the key concepts, which provide a theoretical base for all media literacy, and give teachers a common language and framework for discussion. These key concepts come into all media literacy activities to varying degrees.
Five Key Concepts
1. All media messages are
more in Representation
2. Media messages are constructed using its own language, style, techniques, codes, conventions, and aesthetics.
more in Language
3. Each person interprets media messages differently.
more in Audience
4. The media contain ideological and value messages.
more in Representation and Institution
5. The media have commercial interests, and commercial
social and political implications.
more in Institution
Media Literacy Comparison Grid
Source: Adapted with permission from English Quarterly, vol. 25, nos. 2-3. Canadian Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts. Toronto, Ontario, 1992.