Media Literacy and the Canadian Election : As perceived by my Grade 5/6 students

It is so exciting to be taking another class with the amazing Alec Couros and Katia Hilderbrant! And Eci832 is already shaping up to be a great addition to my EC&I course load.

After doing the required readings, I began to wonder what to write about for my first blog post for this class. And then, while watching TV with the husband, an election ad came on and it reminded me about an interesting event that happened in the Grade 5/6 class I am teaching this year.

Because it is an election year, I’ve decided that I was going to start teaching about the election. The first thing I did was write the 3 main parties on the board. As soon as I wrote “Liberal” – a chorus of small voices chimed in “He’s just not ready. But great hair.”

The impact media has had on the framing and shaping of what young minds think is absolutely staggering. A simple catch phrase and a bombardment of advertisements has convinced a class of 25+ students to reach the conclusion that they should not vote for Justin Trudeau because of his age and great hair. At this point, they don’t even know what a platform is.

Media Literacy is now a major player in the framing of young and old minds alike. From the new push of anti-diet ads from Cheerios that target middle school aged girls to the way Facebook’s Suggested Apps or Reads change as you click on new posts to tailor to your likes, we are bombarded with information each and every day. As mentioned in Potter’s Media Literacy, “young people are exposed to about 8 hours of media literacy per day”.  I can’t even fathom how that affects them and us!

Potter also discusses the difference between “information” and “knowledge” and how, although they appear to be synonymous, they are quire different. Information is learned through the message and knowledge is the interpretation of that message. However, I would like to add a third part to that – wisdom. We gain the information through the media and with that, we chose to accept or reject it (knowledge). However, what we chose to do with that knowledge and how we convey it is the wisdom. One can be knowledgeable without wisdom, but one cannot have wisdom if they don’t have the knowledge.

If you look back to my group of Grade 5/6 students, they are receiving the information that Justin Trudeau is just not ready –  but has a great head of hair. To their knowledge, they accept it as true because it’s a government ad and, let’s face it, kids tend to believe all that they see on TV. However, with this knowledge, the wisdom is not there. They do not know enough of the facts to make an informed decision and it is up to me to teach them to look beyond the message, the catch-phrase and the great hair to understand what is important in the election.


2 thoughts on “Media Literacy and the Canadian Election : As perceived by my Grade 5/6 students

  1. Hey Rochelle,
    Great post, I think you hit the nail on the head connecting your experience to our course readings and the over-arching theme of media literacy. Students are so impacted by the media they are consuming and often do not look at it critically.

    I know you are in the library as well. I am not sure if it was you or someone else who mentioned that maybe non-fiction books would soon become “extinct” because of the media out there. I think this is the way our education system is moving, but I don’t think we are ready for it yet. Students don’t engage with media critically yet and like you said tend to believe everything they see, hear, or read. Perhaps with some time and continued teaching of media literacy and digital citizenship– we will get there.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Pingback: Reflecting Upon the Need for Media Literacy in our Classrooms | Blackimoto Blah Blah

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