Burgess Bub began facilitating LAMP workshops just this year, covering everything from news literacy to podcasting to healthy digital relationships. The LAMP is so fortunate to have her as part of the team, and it’s clear our students feel the same way. Read on to learn more about her background in media and publicity, how she got in to media literacy, ‘lightbulb’ moments, and how you can join our team of LAMP workshop facilitators.
You’ve worked with young people in a variety of age ranges. How much do you see their age affecting the ways they understand and interact with media? Hopefully I won’t contradict myself in answering this, as it is a complicated topic! My short answer is that a person’s age most certainly influences the way they understand and interact with media. However, if there is one thing that continues to surprise me about kids, it’s that, regardless of age, they tend to be more perceptive than we think. This is especially true when they have adults who encourage them to question overwhelming environmental forces like prominent media trends. Making sure to talk to to six-year-olds about their unattainable aspirations to be Disney princesses or discussing with ten-year-olds the complexities and controversies surrounding violent video games are of the utmost importance. Discussion and knowledge (media literacy!) are indispensable.
I am, however, wary of using age as an unvarying measure of one’s media literacy, for there are plenty of adults who have no one around to challenge their media consciousness or moderate their consumption. I suppose my point is that, although children may hit particular cognitive milestones regarding their ability to understand the intricacies of our current media landscape, adults too must learn to be aware of the ways we interface with and understand media. There may be a glut of unfavorable advertisements and/or socially damaging media campaigns crowding our culture’s dominant media, but developing and maintaining a critical eye and voice is key.
You also have a background in publicity, having worked with Scholastic and BrooklynTheBorough. What have you noticed about the way publicity can impact an event or story—does the publicity campaign change how the audience approaches a piece, or is the need for publicity considered throughout the creative process? In my experience, I find that publicity campaigns absolutely affect an audience’s awareness and reception of a particular project, although it can be true that two separate campaigns with similar strategies may work in contrasting ways. In publishing, a book’s success (in terms of critical acclaim and sales) is of course a result of the author’s brilliance and hard work, but it is also the outcome of an effective and creative publicity campaign. Unless financial profit is not a major concern, publicity must always be of great pertinence during the creative process.
How did you get interested in media literacy and teaching? My interest in media literacy piqued when teaching very young children (three- and four-year-olds) and seeing their diverse relationships to media. I became intrigued by their seemingly immediate ease with particular technologies (e.g. iPhones, digital cameras) and the ways in which, as early as two years old, children develop tastes for particular television shows, books, music, etc. Media is an inescapable reality of children’s everyday lives, and I wanted to learn more about it.
As for my interest in teaching, I was raised by an excellent teacher (my mother), and for a time dreamed of becoming a college professor in the humanities. I love the exchange of knowledge and ideas and the organic way that this process occurs through discussion and conversation. With The LAMP, I have really enjoyed the different age ranges I’ve worked with. At first, I was nervous to work with teenagers for the PSA Podcasting Mouse workshop, but the students were surprisingly lovely and incredibly impassioned. I might even go so far as to say I prefer teenagers!
Can you describe some ‘lightbulb’ moments you’ve had in LAMP workshops? Halfway through our “Make a Commercial, Break a Commercial” workshop, a class of fifth graders were being introduced to the concept and practice of “breaking” problematic commercials that they see on television. They watched a few examples featured on the LAMPlatoon website, and then begged to watch the “Call of Duty” break that they recognized from the thumbnail picture:
They were THRILLED to be able to watch this commercial break, but became quickly puzzled when the video began cutting between computer animated scenes from the video game and actual war footage in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of the commercial, about half the class was still very confused about the intermixing of fictional scenes and realistic footage, and the other half seemed a bit reserved in their awareness of the video’s intention. “But why was there real war stuff in the commercial? It’s just a video game,” one child asked. Quickly, his friend came to his assistance and replied, “Because the game is about having fun with fake war, and we are supposed to remember that real war happens.”
I was deeply impressed with this particular child’s insight (and how quickly he arrived at his interpretation), but I was equally awed by the signs of awareness that flooded over other children’s faces after hearing his response.
What’s coming up for you in 2012? I’m really thrilled to be able to be more involved with the LAMP this upcoming year. So far, I’ve had the pleasure to participate in a Healthy Digital Relationships workshop with the great folks of Brooklyn Public Library. In the upcoming months, I will also be working with families in various media workshops in Queens. I am very excited to see what the rest of 2012 brings!
Want to be a workshop facilitator with The LAMP? Send us an email with your resume, and be sure to highlight any skills or area of specialty. We especially love to have people with professional backgrounds in media.