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Change or die! - The LAMP

Change or die!

By March 17, 2008 News No Comments

I read a blog post today on salon.com that echoes something all of us here at the LAMP (and other media literacy organizations) have been talking about for a long time now in some form or another: The Internet doesn’t have to be scary.

When I was a kid, I remember being constantly told to roll with the punches, go with the flow, and all the other euphemisms that basically say that things change and so you must as well.  I was also often told that what at first looks like a problem or limitation may actually be an opportunity–think lemonade from lemons.

All of this has me noting the irony that the same adults who told me to adapt and make the best of a bad situation seem unable to do so for themselves.  A refusal to integrate new media into the classroom because it’s unfamiliar or potentially dangerous is not only shortsighted, it’s also mildly insulting in some respects.  Younger generations may not communicate the same way as their parents did at their age, but that doesn’t mean young people are doing it wrong, and their modes of communication shouldn’t be marginalized because of it.  Too often, we think kids are just fooling around online when really, they’re information junkies expressing themselves.  It doesn’t have to be hard to funnel those skills into a useful, positive outlet.

Imagine if school projects took the form of team blogs and YouTube channels–for example, I think I would have been much more interested in science if my assignment included a video mashup of chemistry experiments, or videos of events like the San Francisco earthquake which demonstrated basic principles of physics.  What if teachers encouraged us to explore how or why a mathematical formula works, rather than have us memorize equations that a basic calculator can do?  In one case my critical thinking skills are challenged; in another, I’m really just learning how to punch numbers on a keypad.  (According to this New Yorker article, it may be one of many reasons why we’re falling behind in math.)

The message here is to adapt, adapt, adapt.  Media literacy will help put people of all ages on the same level, and can enable us to recognize new media as a powerful tool instead of a grave danger.