The Need for Critical Media Literacy In Teacher Education Core Curricula
The "information era" has brought up new literacies, although most of them are still not part of the K–12 curriculum or the teacher education curriculum. One of these new literacies is critical media literacy. The purpose of this article is to document the urgency for including this new literacy in school and teacher education curricula given the crucial role of media as they touch every issue impacting human life in society. Critical media literacy as understood here includes three dimensions: (1) develop a critical understanding of how corporate for-profit media work, driven by their political and economic vested interests; (2) search for and support alternative, nonprofit media; and (3) characterize the role of teachers in helping students and their parents to become media-literate users and supporters of alternative media. Critical media literacy is founded on the legitimate role of media to serve the public's right to be truly informed, and thereby serve democracy. However, currently we are witnessing an unprecedented concentration of for-profit media into conglomerates, in alliance with the government and especially with the federal regulating agency—Federal Communications Commission—and other powerful institutions and corporations. Starting with this big picture, we examine and document specific cases that illustrate how these conglomerates and their allies work to keep and to expand their power, by means of filtering information, manufacturing consent, and controlling what the public watch, listen to, read, think, believe, taste, dress, look like, speak, and how they perceive themselves. The propaganda behind the banning of bilingual education in California is a clear example in the educational arena of the role of media in helping powerful people to manufacture voters' consent through fabricated stories, misleading ballot question, biased polls, etc. The second dimension of critical media literacy refers to the active involvement of every person, including school children, to support and advocate for alternative, nonprofit, public service-driven media. Given the reasons and the evidence presented, the authors consider that there is an urgency for including critical media literacy in the K–12 school curricula, and therefore in the teacher education core curriculum.