I agree with many points of Vanessa Domine’s essay The Coming of Age of Media Literacy Education. As media literacy educators, I feel we are constantly struggling to define what we do so we can advocate for why it is so vital to education. At the same time, our work inherently breaks boundaries, expanding resources and information beyond libraries and books. What makes media literacy education so wonderful is also what makes it so difficult to translate into an easily quantified standard for administrators and educational leaders to implement.
Media literacy, having its basis in library and research skills pre-Internet era, extends to every subject area and every student. It entails teaching the skills to effectively choose, evaluate and utilize appropriate sources of information for any task. It is also the only area that can tie all subjects together in an otherwise traditionally compartmentalized education system. At its core, it means teaching how to learn for life.
The limitlessness of media literacy as a teachable subject makes it impossible to wrap it in a nice package. It cannot be contained into one area. Administrators and teachers who do not “get it”, don’t know what to do with it resulting in libraries and librarians that are either entrusted with autonomy or pushed aside for other things that make more sense to those in power. Most often the latter happens and valuable skills that should be integrated into each area of instruction by a trained professional are supposedly covered by subject area and grade level teachers. Or, media literacy gets mistaken as being synonymous with technology and instruction is placed in the hands of computer teachers.
I fear that these issues will not be resolved until there are requirements for media literacy education that include trained specialists and dedicated physical spaces for housing resources and providing instruction.
Libraries and librarians are still needed. Who knew?