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Why Media Studies?

Discussion in 'Media studies' started by tartxcore, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. Hi Everyone im currently doing a dissertation on Media Studies and why it is taught in schools/colleges, what values it has as a subject, im trying to prove in my dissertation that media is certainly no 'Mickey Mouse' subject.

    I would like the views of professionals who teach the subject on these issues and any more you want to raise about the subject. =]
    I have taken media studies from GCSE right up to degree level and have just been accepted onto a PGCE for September so I can teach it. As a media student I believe media builds alot more skills than people give it credit for as it involves aspects of english, sociology, design.
    I look forward to what everyone else thinks!!
    =] Becci
  2. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    There's a rather nice quotation from an academic at the turn of the twentieth century criticising the introduction of English Literature in state schools. It goes along the lines of this new-fangled subject only being suitable for women and those unworthy sorts of men who become school teachers. The academic in question was defending the teaching of only classical (ie Greek and Roman) literature, and he was defending his position against encroachment from this new and debased form of literacy.

    It nicely parallels the attitude of certain subject areas in more recent years when faced with the growing popularity of Media Studies. If you're a Media graduate I'm sure you can justify it yourself, but as a teacher (should you become one) you'll need to justify it to parents (including Daily Mail readers) if you want to fill your courses. Also, if you don't want your course filling up with deadheads because SLT and students think it's a doss, you'll need to set a challenging standard of work, and not just dabble around with texts that are all too familiar to the youngsters, ie Soaps, Reality TV, Tabloids, Celebrity culture and so on. I think the 'GCSE in Jade Goody' moral panics we see from time to time have some grounding in truth, sad to say. Media teachers who refuse to stretch their students and pander to low brow tastes in the hope of easy results do a lot of harm to the subject's reputation and perceived value. I've taught enough other subjects at GCSE to know that Media, if properly run, is no harder or easier than any other arts/humanities subject.

    So, it's open evening and your school/college is selling itself like a painted trollop to parents of prospective students. You can't move without tripping over someone using a computer. Students in weird dance costumes are scurrying back and forth to and from the main hall. It's the one night of the year when the Principal/Head is nice to everyone. What do you say to the parent who asks what you've asked? I usually ask them where their children are getting the bulk of their information these days? Out of books or from screens? Do they have a game console at home, and are they aware of the phenomenal growth of the Gaming industry in recent years? How many channels can their TV receive 24/7? Do they know how their children are interacting on the internet? These questions play on parental fears of the impact of technology that they didn't have as kids themselves. You're a bit like a double glazing salesman putting crime stats in front of a householder to make them buy secure windows. Then you ask who offers children a critical understanding of this bewildering media world? Who helps them to recognise when commercial interests are trying to exploit them? Who helps them engage with the new media technology more effectively? Who helps them understand the underlying messages in moving image media? Who's preparing them for their future instead of constantly gazing into the past? If you can back this up with the names of credible media texts as case studies, and promise to challenge the students ("We even study black and white films"), whilst running clips from student movie projects in the background there's a fair chance you'll get their interest.

    It sounds like a sales pitch, and when it comes to filling courses it is, but whenever I've said it I've actually meant it.

    As for Mickey Mouse - I followed up one of those Daily Mail pieces you routinely see, and found that the DM simply wheel out the same right wing academic to sound off about it then put him back in his box, then they contact some bloke at a small pressure group called the campaign for real education to get a quote from him, and that's about the limit of their journalistic effort. Also, given the degree of racial stereotyping and distortion our children are fed via the Disney Corporation I see no reason why the rodent and all his works shouldn't be subjected to the Media Studies microscope ;-)
  3. ThereAreBunniesInMyHead

    ThereAreBunniesInMyHead Occasional commenter

    I have always liked this quote:
    <font size="3" face="Arial">&ldquo;&hellip;in the modern world, media literacy will become
    as important a skill as Maths or Science. Decoding
    our media will be as important to our lives as
    citizens, as understanding great literature is to our
    cultural lives&rdquo; - Tessa Jowell

    I always like to mention at parents evenings as well that just as English Literature focuses on students reading and analysing written texts, so do we. But when we do it, we dont just teach students to analyse books. They analyse all written work like newspapers, magazines, adverts. PLUS other printed material such as adverts, posters, packaging. PLUS audio material like music and radio. PLUS moving image material such as films and tv. PLUS web based material such as websites, social networking sites etc.. Then once they've broken it down, analysed it, understood it and written about it. They then design their own texts to increase their understanding even more. So its a much more in depth understanding encompassing a whole range of texts and forms all of which have practical applications in every day life, and will help their employability. If a parent questions this I always remind them that when the students taking this subject are older, the majority of their working day is going to be incoporating media technology of some kind so it seems silly not to teach them to understand and use it! I always tell them about the stories of two of my students below:
    1) An A grade student of mine in Media went on to university to study law and now is a barrister and uses the skills she learned analysing media audiences to work out how a jury will respond to photographic and video evidence. She even uses her video editing skills to put together video testimony to persuade jurors of people's guilt! Says that Media Studies is the only subject she did at school which she still uses on a day to day basis.
    2) Another student of mine who went on to train to be a plumber, recently decided to become self employed and used the Media skills he'd learned with me to design his own website, to video client testimonials and put them on the site, to make some beautiful printed adverts to put in the local paper, and to make flyers to put through people's doors. He said that he's got loads of mates who are struggling to get work because they dont know how to do those things and can't afford to pay someone to do it for them. He says he is inundated at the moment and he's sure its because his website and promotional material looks so professional.
  4. Thanks :)
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your answers!
    Totally agree that some media teachers are doing more harm than good by using easy option subjects on their students!
    I agree with the Daily Mail reader statement too! I found alot of parents (mine included) initally turn their noses up at the subject without knowing anything about it.
    The Mickey Mouse thing came up from a Guardian newspaper article, its what a professor at Cambridge called the subject. What a pompous ass :)

  5. Because students enjoy it.

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