Classroom contradictions: Popular media in ontario schools’ literacy and citizenship education policies.

In 2003, the Ontario Ministry of Education in Canada began promoting popular media as a pedagogical tool, especially for ‘reluctant’ readers. This ‘pedagogy of the popular’ is instituted within a critical media literacy framework that draws on the values and codes of multiculturalism to counter the consumerist messages students encounter in nontraditional texts. The model of civic citizenship promoted by the critical media literacy curriculum, however, fails in its ambitions to provide a counterweight to the neo-liberal model of consumer citizenship. Insofar as its critique is grounded in a multicultural politics of representation, Ontario’s media literacy curriculum fails to deeply interrogate the social roots of conflict and discrimination. As a result, it only weakly challenges, and is unlikely to displace, the post-Keynesian-era model of citizenship education in which the values of universality and inclusiveness are subsumed to an ethos that naturalizes the practices and moral codes of the marketplace.