Ypulse Interview: D.C. Vito, The LAMP
Posted by meredith on 07-23-2009
Today’s Ypulse Interview is with D.C. Vito, Executive Director for The LAMP. An organization after our own heart, the LAMP [the Learning About Multimedia Project] is a Brooklyn-based non-profit dedicated to addressing the lack of media literacy in New York city schools and helping educators and parents to better engage in a dialogue.
This summer, as an extension of that mission, the team launched LAMPcamp, a four day program at a local YMCA designed to help tween campers explore the influence of advertising and the ways gender was represented in media. I spoke with DC to find out more.
Ypulse: How does LAMPcamp fit in to LAMP’s vision of media literacy? What was the inspiration for extending the project into a summer camp?
D.C.: It fits perfectly into our vision of media literacy because we’re tackling several forms of media (video, print, texting, comic books, music videos, documentaries, social networks) and trying to break them apart for our LAMPers. From the very beginning when Katherine and I formed The LAMP, we had always envisioned a summer camp. You can really accomplish a great deal when you have the students entrenched in a concentrated exploration of media literacy. And because we were able to break it into girls- and boys-only sections for some of the lessons, we were really able to expand on issues of gender representation, reinforcement and manipulation in the media – which is one of our major goals.
YP: What was the process for coming up with the curriculum of LAMPcamp? What did you want “LAMPers” to take away from the session?
D.C.: We took existing curricula we’ve used for previous workshops and tailored it for the age group and time we had to work with. Katherine was very intent on making the curricula flexible with both our different media presenters (one on each day) as well as with the LAMPers themselves. We really wanted them to feel like this was their project too, and that they had a voice in the direction. As a result, they came away with much more, and explored media and gender in ways that were new for them. Not only did the LAMPers gain a deeper understanding of how comics, music videos, documentaries and other media are constructed, but they also examined how all these media influence the way they see the world, and how media impact their every day lives. When the students stopped to really look at the media in their neighborhood, they were completely surprised by how many media messages exist on just one block.
YP: Could you describe one or two highlights from the session?
D.C.: We had a discussion about texting, but instead of raising their hands to ask a question, the LAMPers could also submit one via text. They sent questions to DC that they might have been embarrassed to ask in front of the group, and the result was a really honest discourse about texting–its benefits, detriments and their opinions of its place in their life.
The video projects they completed by the end of the week were also extraordinary. The other LAMPcamp leaders and I were really impressed, touched and humbled by their quick learning, their talent and their voices. Once we provided the forum, the kids took the reins and ran with it.
YP: How did you define the benchmarks of success? Did you feel like they were met? What, if any, challenges did you encounter?
D.C.: What we really wanted [Lampers] to understand is the notion of different mediums and how they affect you differently depending on what media you’re involved with. It’s all constructions. In terms of our ultimate goal, we’re not trying to create future filmmakers or future journalists but savvy media consumers, future critics who can ask worthwhile questions.
As far as what we could do better, the kids said in their evaluation they thought we talked too much. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that we grabbed them as soon as they were there early in the morning. Once they were engaged though, it didn’t seem to be an issue.
…We definitely need more time, not just exploring video projects. We don’t want to spend all of our time on just one media…Video is a completely different influence than just sound and just print. Once these principles become clear, it’s a lot easier to stay sharp about what they see and hear.
YP: What would you like to see happen at next year’s LAMPcamp? For LAMP in general?
D.C.: Mostly, we want more time. The kids had so much more they wanted to do with us, and we had a lot of other ideas for guest speakers and projects where they can make more of their own media besides the videos they did. We would like LAMPcamp to help us meet the demand we receive for our workshops during the school year, and allow us to expand to serve more communities. Pretty much, the answer is just more.
See Also: The LAMPcamp Flickr page