Media literacy is the process of analyzing and creating media in different forms; it expands the concept of basic literacy, reading and writing, as today’s messages are received in many forms.
Now more than ever, access to critical thinking and the ability to question the media across all subjects and grades is essential. Core curriculums should be dedicated to the explanation of hidden messaging in media and the expansive spread of misinformation. Being well-adjusted to the instant gratification social media provides us and the greed consumerism allows us, our discerning ability is easily weakened and oftentimes not even present.
Thanks to the efforts of Cyndy Scheibe, professor in the Department of Psychology, and Chris Sperry, director of curriculum and staff development for Project Look Sharp — an initiative that provides support, materials and training for the integration of media literacy and critical thinking skills across the curriculum in K–12 and post-secondary education — we are making discernment a priority to the everyday consumption of media. The world of multimedia is unavoidable so doing what we can to be better, three-dimensional participants is essential for the longevity of our economic, social and political lives.
Ithaca College’s Project Look Sharp plans to work with librarians to teach the subliminal messages in the media and ultimately make everyone a bit more aware of what it is they are looking at. Enter: the crucial role of librarians. Librarians respect history. Librarians teach the importance of archival work. Librarians push us past our comfort zones. Librarians are the information literacy specialists in the building; they are the ones who provide us material to activate our conscious mind. The workshop will train two groups of 10 different K–12 librarians from across New York state on how to incorporate media literacy into schools’ curriculums. Initiatives like these matter and we need to care for the sake of a smarter future. Showing respect for our local librarians is not only the right thing to do but a way to appreciate history of the past and actively cultivate a better tomorrow.