Some of the papers collected here provide overviews – historical, institutional or theoretical, and sometimes all three – of media education in the UK. Several were written for foreign audiences, so include explanations of UK customs and practices that may now also be of interest to more amnesiac UK readers. They are grouped thematically rather than chronologically, and you will find some overlaps between them. My central theme was that, rather than use the neologism “media literacy”, we should simply expand our notions of what it is to be literate. The collection starts with a short polemical paper from 1993, reflecting on the concept of a “national heritage”.
A full list of my publications is available here.
Presentation to the National Association of Teachers of English conference, April 1993. I wrote it hastily that morning as I travelled by train and plane from Dundee to Brighton, snatching at what I saw, heard and read as I went, and building it into the mix. The result is a passionate and not entirely coherent account of “national culture” and an attack on the iniquities of the Tory Government. It is more personal, and in many ways more strongly felt, than the papers that follow.
Making Movies Matter
The 1999 report of the Film Education Working Group, set up by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in 1998, is now only obtainable online on the lively and wide-ranging Mexican cultural information site, Conaculta. As the Working Group’s secretary and main author of the report, I remain pleased with its arguments for the significance of moving-image media, whatever platform they are carried on. At the time the report was widely praised as an important step forward in the development of policy about moving-image media literacy.
Being Literate: Functional Skill or Cultural Participation?
Japanese audiences being a lot more patient than Western ones, this is an extensive account of media education as part of literacy, given to a conference at Osaka Kyoiku University on 4th December 2004. Towards the end it includes an exposition of the “three C’s” summary of what media literacy should consist of, which has been widely – and usually mistakenly – applied, and is attributed to various authors but which was in fact originally proposed by me at a meeting in 2003 of the grandiosely-named and now long-forgotten “Media Literacy Task Force” at a moment when I despaired of getting across anything that took more than 3 words to describe.
Literacy and the Media
This is a much more succinct and accessible version of the ideas about literacy in the Osaka paper, which was written for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority’s online “futures” debate in 2004 – and subsequently ignored, needless to say.
Expanding Cultural Horizons: The Role of Education
I gave this presentation at the International Film Parliament, London, November 2005, making the case for the importance of non-mainstream film for children. As the BFI developed classroom resources for primary children based on very powerful non-mainstream short films (mostly not made for children originally) I became very keen on the idea that media educators have as much responsibility to widen children’s cultural horizons as any other arts educators.
The Development of Media Education in England: A Personal View
In 2005 I was asked to write a history of media education in England for US audiences but didn’t have the time or the energy to do the massive amount of research that would require, so instead presented this very personal account: snapshots of what seemed to me key moments from the 1970s onwards, and a review of the current scene. Published in the Handbook of Research on Teaching Literacy Through the Communicative and Visual Arts, vol ii, by James Flood, Shirley Brice Heath and Diane Lapp, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2007.
Making Movies Matter: Seven Years On
Many of the things the new Labour Government promised in 1998 had vanished into the sand by 2006. This paper explains what had happened to the 22 recommendations of Making Movies Matter, and why.
In this keynote presentation to the BFI’s Media Studies Conference in July 2006 I tried to trace the links between the first formal, publicly funded film course for young people which started in the National Film Theatre in 1972, and the issues currently facing media teachers. According to the evaluations afterwards, about half the audience couldn’t see the point of such an exercise, while the other half thought it was great. Download pdf and decide for yourself.
Media Education in the UK
Another weighty chapter, this time for the Spanish journal Revista Comunicar, which published a special report on media education in Europe (vol XV, no 28, March 2007). This did attempt a proper overview, for foreign audiences, of what got taught, to whom, and by whom, under the heading of “media education” in the UK at that time. A lot has changed since then.
Teacher Training for Media Education in the UK
Again for foreign audiences, this was an explanation of the teacher training system in England, how it fitted into the national education system and the extent to which training for media teaching was available. Written for the Austrian journal Medienimpulse, no 59, March 2007.
Education for Media Literacy in the UK
I was asked to provide this overview for a meeting of education ministry staff in the Arab states in 2010. It attempted to give a realistic account of provision and policy, based on observable evidence. When read alongside more anecdotal accounts from the UK and elsewhere, it could be interpreted as offering a rather pessimistic view, although in many respects media education in the UK at the time was well ahead of that in most other countries, in terms of established curricula and numbers involved.
Literacy in Time and Space
I’m exasperated by much of the debate about technologies and literacy, which seem to be mired in instrumental uses of technology rather than in thinking about the kinds of content and practices that the technologies may be enabling. This paper was presented at the UKLA‘s Reframing Literacy conference in November 2008. It argues for more thought about texts, less excitement about technologies, and for a new way of defining the literacy skills needed to interpret and create the different kinds of text now available to us.
This 2009 paper for Revista Comunicar traces key features of the BFI’s evolving strategies for film education in UK schools during the final 25 years of the analogue era. Historically, the BFI did much to establish the characteristics of film study, but it also embodied tensions which have continued to preoccupy educators, such as the relationship between the instrumental use of film to support the curriculum, and learning about its intrinsic and distinctive qualities as a medium, or about its ideological function in society. The paper also addresses the question of whether “film” on its own constitutes a valid area of study, or whether it is more properly studied alongside television as part of “moving image media”.
Film Education and Media Literacy: An English Perspective
This paper was given at the University of Bochum, Germany, in May 2010 as part of a conference on Film Culture in the Age of Digital Network Communication. It is in three sections. Firstly, it unpicks the term “media literacy” and the ways it has been deployed in Anglophone culture; secondly it presents an argument for the place of film education within a wider educational agenda, expanding upon the notion of “page-based texts vs time-based texts” which I had been developing for some time; and thirdly it describes the BFI’s “Reframing Literacy” initiative which, when the BFI still had an education publishing section, was an amazingly successful intervention to develop film education in primary schools, which reached over half the local education authorities in England.
Media Literacy: A Learner-Centred Approach
This paper for an “experts’ meeting” organised by Mediawijzer.net in Hilversum in November 2011 overlaps with other later papers in this collection, but updates the information to the political context of the UK under the Cameron-led coalition government that was fast dismantling the structure of the English education system. The paper offers a brief analysis of the conflicting and contradictory policies and institutional interests that had affected the development of media literacy education at the primary level, before going on to identify elements of good practice and the contexts in which these had been able to develop. Some examples of training and teaching strategies, research and development projects and classroom resources are included.
Media Education: Starting Young
This is the English version of a book chapter, published in M. Hagener, and V. Hediger (eds) (2015) Medienkultur und Bildung: Ästhetische Erziehung im Zeitalter digitaler Netzwerke. Frankfurt/New York: Campus. It is based on a paper I gave at the University of Marburg in 2012, and provides an early overview of some of the ideas I later developed in my doctoral research.