At an educational conference I'm attending, two strands keep coming up: students at all levels don't know how to read, compute, communicate or think, and the negative impact the media are having on those same students.
Well, at the risk of sounding old-fashioned or corny, I would like to propose that we use the media to provide a remedy for all of these educational deficiencies.
Now I know what some of you are thinking: we've tried that, and it didn't work. And indeed it didn't. But, the reason using media in education didn't solve educational problems was that we were relying on the technology itself, rather than relying on the content. We don't so much need educational media as we need media used in education.
Look at something as simple and old-fashioned as the newspaper. There are reading lessons, there are math lessons, there are computational lessons, there are critical thinking lessons, and probably all on just the front page.
Or look at something as unorthodox as the jacket on a CD or DVD. Whether some teachers want to admit it or not, there are valuable lessons to be learned from something as simple as reading a label.
If you're concerned about logic, reasoning and critical thinking skills, how about looking at a few ads. Or perhaps even better, look at comments being made about some of the critical issues facing our country.
Math is there too. News stories about the city budget, cost accounting, death tolls and population increases all lend themselves to some pretty sophisticated mathematics.
The sciences are there. Look at any of the popular news magazines, and they contain a wealth of current, up-to-date scientific information. At a time when school science books are out of date almost as soon as they hit the classroom, the modern media provide a way to instantly update discussions of all of the sciences.
We hear a lot about how the media are leading to the downfall of morals, the work ethic and education itself. Well then, let's turn all that content around and start using it for something constructive. The material is right there, like ripe fruit on a tree. It's time someone picked it off and started using it.