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loveduckslogoArthur as a title has two great distinctions.  (Yes, and a big Dudley Moore hit from a few decades ago.  Kinda funny.  But odd, for sure.)  First, George Harrison’s inimitable punch line to “What do you call this haircut?” in the groundbreaking Richard Lester masterwork and Beatles-style celebration of life and music-making A Hard Day’s Night

And next, what is easily in the Top 5 of best-ever kids’ TV shows (and really one of the best of any shows): ArthurYup, the kids animated show.  Endlessly inventive, quirky, character-driven, wittily subversive and provocative, gentle, inspiring, dramatically solid, and consistently brilliant, Arthur is a treasure of children’s programming.  You want a major lesson in Media Literacy? — check out The Love Ducks from the episode That’s a Baby Show!

colbertarthurSo this recent piece by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert featuring his musical collaborator Jon Batiste and some special guests was a real treat.  Enjoy!

Where is Yemen?

nojoomDo you know the answer to the question?  If you are a teacher, do your students?  An earlier post on mediateacher.net presented the first female Yemeni director, Khadija Al-Salami — She is a Yemeni Filmmaker in France — and her highly educational and eye-opening movies, including A Stranger in Her Own City (which is featured in Moving Imagesand Amina, a portrait of an eleven-year-old Yemeni bride who was accused of murdering her husband at fourteen.  For further information from my earlier post, this excellent article titled For the Love of Her Country (by Olivia Snaije) provides powerful insights into the challenges of documentary filmmaking in the context of the intense conflicts that Al-Salami’s war-torn homeland and its people face today, particularly its women.

Across countless societies throughout history, teachers have regularly occupied highly scrutinized positions relative to their impact on young people and the expectations of their roles in terms of what they can and cannot say to their students.

Among the issues that define our relation to each other, language is undoubtedly one of the most important.  It is vital that words are used appropriately and precisely.  The study of cultures and societies often can revolve around the use and impact of words to describe human behavior and social currents.

Fake = Fabricated, Intentionally Fictitious

Fake = Fabricated, Intentionally Fictitious

During the past year, a notable phenomenon has arisen that has some history in print journalism but has taken on new meanings and uses in the age of the Internet and digital social media: “fake news.”  The basic definition of this practice as it quickly evolved in recent times is that stories and articles would be fabricated and posted through fictional, anonymous, or proxy web entities.  The content is completely fictional in nature.  Made up.  Quite often based on the talking points, trending topics, and attack ads of the moment.  By now, this has been a highly documented practice, sometimes from blighted enclaves in Macedonia or from “Cameron Harris, a new college graduate with a fervent interest in Maryland Republican politics and a need for cash,” as reported by actual journalist Scott Shane.

To be literate means to understand vehicles of communication – linguistic, visual, mathematical, and much more.  When methods of communication are twisted and used to distort or blind to the truth or the search for truth, this is quite serious and potentially extremely damaging.  As history has shown us, it can, indeed, be fatal.  When one’s leaders twist, misuse, or distort words, and particularly those that describe vital topics of the day, this can also be lethal to societies and to democracy.

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A Free Press Classic by Sam Fuller

As Thomas Jefferson said, “The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

Language, words, and visual communication are very important, and so is our ability to interpret the various messages that are on the pages and various sized screens in front of us.  This is at the heart of what we call media literacy.  Teachers must continue to strive to enable our students to scrutinize the statements of those who represent us, of those with whom we engage in discussion and debate, and of those who research and report the stories that depict, interpret, and impact the world that we inhabit.

A little touch of Caddyshack in the Oval Office?

A little touch of Caddyshack in the Oval Office?

Pictures can be worth many words, and as we reflect upon the close of this year, here are a few powerful ones from the White House (and its soon-to-be-leaving inhabitants).  Many lessons to be learned here.  There are so many legacies to this presidency, so much to be debated and learned and reflected upon for educators and students — and for all citizens of the world, in fact.  (And the full photo album by Chief White House Photographer Pete Souza is here.)

tvWondering what to do with the old curved-screen TV in the corner of the cellar or the school’s repurposed A/V closet?  Maybe it’s time for an art installation — although you may need the “arcane knowledge” (as NYTimes reporter Jaime Joyce puts it) of a TV repairman (well, at least one as masterful as Chi-Tien Lui).

mononoawareIn earlier posts, mediateacher.net has discussed the relationship of celluloid-based moviemaking, film history, and digital technologies in such posts as The “Film” Word: Language and Moving Images, State of the Process: Digital and Film (concerning the then-recent documentary Side by Side and related topics), Thinking about Light: Emmanuel Lubezki Interviews & State of Cinematography (which is definitely one of this blog’s most visited posts), and Thinking about Light 2.

mono_no_aware_performanceIn news from this year related to the availability and use of celluloid-based filmmaking, the non-profit cinema-arts organization Mono No Aware is working to build the first non-profit motion picture lab in America.  This Brooklyn-based group recently celebrated the ten-year anniversary of its annual festival which features multi-media performances that incorporate Super 8, 16mm, 35mm film, or altered light projections.  Mono No Aware, founded by Steve Cossman, offers workshops on a variety of analogue filmmaking and processing techniques, and the organization has been visiting schools for a number of years to teach young people about analogue motion pictures.  For those interested in verifying that projected strips of images that move in front of us are, indeed, very much alive and inspiring a new generation of moviemakers, multimedia artists, and movie-lovers, check out this piece from Daily Vice

 

 

With NCTE President Susan Howser at #NCTE16

With NCTE President Susan Howser at #NCTE16

The National Council of Teachers of English annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia was such a powerful, memorable experience.  To be introduced by Pam Goble, co-author of  Making Curriculum Pop: Developing Literacies in All Content Areasfor the 2016 Media Literacy Award was an exceptional honor.  This was particularly the case when seeing such uplifting and moving fellow honorees and their addresses, including Anna Roseboro, Matt de la Peña, Jerome Harste, and others.  And the conference itself was so full of invigorating conversations, enlightening discoveries, and moments of inspiration. High on the list of inspiration was the discussion on Saturday night with Ta-Nehisi Coates, National Book Award-winning author of Between the World and Me and current Black Panther author.  I think this was a case of perfect timing for many of us in the standing-room only World Conference Center in Atlanta.

Photo by Alexandra Casinghino

Photo by Alexandra Casinghino

Moreover, it was a great pleasure to see a workshop presentation by Pam and her son, educator and author Ryan Goble, introducing lesson development based on Making Curriculum Pop related to the specific topic of climate change.  Ryan’s work in this area, linking investigation of climate change with media literacy education, is exceptional and highly recommended to educators through multiple grade levels.