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18 Principles of Media Education

By Len Masterman

1. Media education is a serious and significant endeavor. At stake is the empowerment of majorities and the strengthening of society's democratic structures.

2. The central unifying concept of media education is that of representation. The media mediate. They do not reflect reality but re-present it. The media are symbolic or sign systems. Without this principle, no media education is possible - everything else flows from it.

3. Media education is a lifelong process, therefore high student motivation must become a primary objective.

4. Media education aims to foster not simply critical intelligence, but critical autonomy.

5. Media education is investigative. It does not seek to impose specific cultural values.

6. Media education is topical and opportunistic. It seeks to illuminate the life-situations of learners. In doing so, it may place the "here and now" in the context of wider historic and ideological issues.

7. The key concepts of media education are analytical tools rather than alternative content.

8. In media education, content is a means to an end. That end is the development of transferable analytical tools rather than an alternative content.

9. The effectiveness of media education can be evaluated by just two criteria: the ability of students to apply their critical thinking to new situations the degree of commitment and motivation displayed by students

10. Ideally, evaluation in media education means student self-evaluation, both formative and summative.

11. Media education attempts to change the relationship between teacher and student by offering both objects for reflection and dialogue.

12. Media education carries out its investigations via dialogue rather than discussion.

13. Media education is essentially active and participatory, fostering the development of more open and democratic pedagogues. It encourages students to take more responsibility for and control over their own learning, to engage in joint planning of the syllabus, and to take longer-term perspectives on their own learning. In short, media education is as much about new ways of working as it is about the introduction of a new subject area.

14. Media education involves collaborative learning. It is group focused. It assumes that individual learning is enhanced not through competition, but through access to the insights and resources of the whole group.

15. Media education consists of both practical criticism and critical practice. It affirms the primacy of cultural criticism over cultural reproduction.

16. Media education is a holistic process. Ideally it means forging relationships with parents, media professionals and teacher-colleagues.

17. Media education is committed to the principle of continuous change. It must develop in tandem with a continuously changing reality.

18. Underpinning media education is a distinctive epistemology. Existing knowledge is not simply transmitted by teachers or "discovered" by students. It is not an end but a beginning. It is the subject of critical investigation and dialogue, out of which new knowledge is actively created by students and teachers.