With studies showing teenagers may be exposed to nearly eight hours of media a day, educators say it’s increasingly important to teach students what to do with all that information. That’s why one New York City middle school has teamed with the News Literacy Project to teach the students media literacy. NY1’s Education reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
What’s the latest celebrity news? Need to look up a quick fact? What’s happening right now on the other side of the world? Almost any kid could probably tell you with just a few quick keystrokes. But though kids may have all the answers, educators worry they don’t know how to tell the right ones from the wrong ones.
De La Salle Academy, an Upper West Side private school that serves gifted students from low-income backgrounds, is focusing on teaching students the strategies needed to sort right from wrong as part of a media literacy course.
"They should learn to think for themselves and to be critical thinkers as they go out into the world," said Marie O’Shea, the assistant principal at De La Salle Academy. "Having our youngsters at a very early age develop a mindset and an exposure to what it takes, to the art of finding truth, as best they can," said Brother Brian Carty, the principal at De La Salle Academy.
A slate of media industry professionals help teachers run the elective course and after-school program, including NY1 Senior Producer Melissa Maguire, who took the middle-school students on a tour of the newsroom this spring. The middle-schoolers say part of learning how to consume news is understanding how it’s made.
"Especially nowadays where technology, where this news is all over the place, you have to be able to understand what is real and what you really can trust and what is false," said student Theodore Perez.
The journalists also teach students how to interview, research, gather multimedia and report on their findings. This semester’s class created a website exploring e-readers as a technological phenomenon and looking at their future in the classroom.
Twenty news organizations have partnered with the News Literacy Project, which plans to expand to middle schools and high schools across the nation. But educators at De La Salle say the students’ enthusiasm has really made the pilot program take off.
"I do think every student should study media literacy because no matter what you’re gonna do in life, you have to stay informed," said student Joyce Ho.
The students will continue to study media literacy next year, building on their skills at sifting through information and separating spin and fiction from answers they can trust.