Media Literacy
Downs Media Education Center

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On The National Front

Education can no longer be confined to the classroom. Real education happens every day to every person of every age. It happens on the board stage of the information highway. Everywhere we turn we are being educated by someone about something whether we know it or not. The trick is to learn how to process this information in a way which will lead to clearer thinking, contemporary skills and abilities, and a deeper sense of personal responsibility.

Media literacy is a democracy issue, a labor issue, a health issue, a values issue, a justice issue and of course, and education issue. But above all it is an urgent issue for our nation; which is why the Downs Center began the National Media Literacy Project.

Everyone involved with the Downs Media Education Center (DMEC) is inspired by the phenomenal success of the National Project's Pilot in the State of New Mexico. In one short year we have tens of thousands of New Mexican citizens with an understanding of basic media literacy concepts. Hundreds of New Mexican children are learning media literacy skills in their schools; dozens of New Mexican teachers have been trained to teach media literacy to their students and to other teachers; many school administrators, government officials and mass media personnel have attended on of our presentations or workshops and are hoisting the media literacy banner.

New Mexico has proven itself to be the perfect pilot state for the National Media Literacy Project. As DMEC moves ahead on the national front we are proud to add the Albuquerque Academy to the National Media Literacy Project. The Academy will not be responsible for the pilot program within New Mexico and will be expanding the program that DMEC initiated during the past year. Bob McCannon and Giles Pennington are eminently qualified to act as the co-directors to whom we proudly pass the torch, and they have some very exciting plans for the coming year.

The Downs Center continues to link itself with worthy associates to expand the National Media Literacy Project. In addition to the Albuquerque Academy we are currently working with:

The Center for Educational Computing Initiatives (CECI) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Steve Leman and Bon Davis of CECI will be developing an urgently needed updatable inter-active multi-media literacy program for the National Project.

The Athens Academy, our partner in Athens, Georgia continues to provide the National Project with a needed example of how comprehensive media education works as a foundation for cross curricular pedagogy. Dr. Jay Harriman of the Athens Academy is a constant source of insight and practical advice as the Downs Center moves the project forward. DMEC considers the Athens Academy to be a prototype for the school of tomorrow.

Bridgewater State college houses the oldest teacher training college in Massachusetts. Bridgewater is the ideal place to prepare teachers for the new concepts of teaching comprehensive media education. Dr Ann Lydecker, Dean of Education at the University will begin teacher training in media literacy at the undergraduate level and carry it through the Masters of Education program. Bridgewater's plans for a $10 million technology center can serve as an invaluable resource and test site for the National Project.

The University of Dayton has a history of excellence in their summer institute for comprehensive media training which incorporates access, analysis, evaluation and production in most forms of mass media. The Downs Center recommends this summer training for teachers, parents and individuals who seek to sink their teeth into new media technologies and the attendant social and personal implications.

The newest member of the National Project is the Taos Talking Picture Festival. The founders of this outstanding program have a strong sense of how moving pictures (film and video) impact our global society. When the approached DMEC about making the festival a media literacy platform we could only applaud their vision.

As for the Downs Media Education Center, we will continue to consult with and learn from our esteemed colleagues as we move ahead with the National media Literacy Project. We will continue to educate Americans in every walk of life about what media literacy is, and how it improves the quality of life. Whether someone is concerned about violence, ethics, politics, victimization or any other pressing social issue, we demonstrate how comprehensive media education and the National Media Literacy Project address basic human concerns and interests.

Our four target demographic groups; government officials, mass media personnel, the general public and educators are always in our minds and hearts. Wherever we are we talk and teach and learn and train. Workshops, lectures, dialogues and community outreach continue to be the order of our days.

Educating a nation strikes many as sisyphean task. We don't find it so. We've never felt more engaged, more rewarded. In the year we've been working in New Mexico, we have been rewarded with remarkable results. Results which we will be taking to the American people in the days ahead. Are we funded? Not adequately. Will lack of funding stop us? Of course not. We will do what we can, wherever we can, whenever we can. It is business as usual. The Downs Center will remain in New Mexico as consultants to ensure the education of the general public in media literacy skills.