A Teachable Moment

Former local teacher union pesident Morty Rosenfeld periodically attempts to make sense of the increasingly senseless world of public education.

A Lesson From Italy

I’ve been on somewhat of a crusade for the past ten years or so to try to awaken American education decision makers to the emergency need to weave instruction on media literacy throughout the k-12 curriculum. In my own school district, I almost got it done, when the assistant superintendent for instruction who was working with me on the project left to take another position, leaving behind her a series of successive school leaders too lost in the world of educationist mumbo-jumbo to appreciate the need to fill a widening real hole in the education of our youth.

The mounting evidence that the Russians were able to manipulate our media with stories contrived to sew division in our ranks and support the candidacy of Donald Trump has awakened some to the need to not only bring our government regulation in line with modern digital media, but also has sparked international interest in the need to educate citizens who to distinguish fact from fiction in the world of virtual reality. I was fascinated to read this morning that Italy has changed its high school curriculum to provide students with instruction in how to spot fake news from the real thing. Such changes are even more necessary in our own country where we now have a president who is hell-bent on delegitimizing responsible media that deign to publish criticism of him.

Over the last twenty-five years or so, media studies has become a respected academic discipline. We have numbers of scholars in this country who are more than able to design a strand of study for our public school children that begins in kindergarten to teach them the tools they need to survive in the media ecology we have developed. So many school leaders talk glibly about 21st century education without meaning anything more than teaching kids how to use the latest digital devices. A real 21st century education prepares students to cope with changes these digital tools have wrought.

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