I will have to use my own high school experience as my example since I’ve only put in volunteer hours at Patrick Henry, and couldn’t honestly summarize the degree of media studies there. I currently have some family members enrolled in my old high school now, and have been in contact with some of the teachers, so I know that the curriculum hasn’t changed much. Test scores remain some of the best in the area at USC, but the percentage of students who go off to college could see some improvement. Below is my argument against “going back to the basics” and steering away from technology/media studies.
The Kaiser Foundation reports that young people are multitasking more than ever, using different media devices at the same time on an average of 6 hours and 21 minutes per day. A startling, perhaps even unbelievable statistic? The need for extensive progression in all sorts of media studies at USC can meet the needs and interests of students half-way, and allow the students to engage with their classmates in many different ways. New forms of literacies such as blogs can expose students to a larger community of opinions, helping students fully express themselves and formulate their personal identities.
Even in an English classroom, problem solving games and activities hosted on the web can help students who struggle with reading and writing, and sharpen the skills of gifted students. If a student struggles with traditional learning methods, but excels in areas such as technology and gaming, that individual can team up with his or her classmates to solve elaborate problems that spark genuine interest. Together, teachers and students can engage texts and experiences, and the dialogue that follows is a unique literacy in which teachers, students, parents and communities can be proud of.
We need to stop looking at media studies as an offshoot of a “normal” education. The 21st century poses new challenges, but also many exciting opportunities. We do our kids a great disservice if we yield to our ever-increasing glee at seeing high test scores.