I’ve been steering The LAMP for 9 years (next year will be our 10th!), and through that time we have had to define what our work encompasses many different ways. We had to say that we were addressing “Cyberbullying”, we had to say we achieved dozens of Common Core standards, we had to say we fit in the STEM acronym, we’ve even been encouraged to teach coding. All of this shuffling was due to the fact that people didn’t value our core work as vital or important. The number of times I have been at a conference or a meeting and I share that:
“we teach young people how to understand media, how to make their own media and how to ultimately challenge harmful, misleading and untrue messages”
and the listener treated what I just described as quaint are too innumerable. At the base of everything we do, we are infusing critical thinking. Until November 8th, few people understood how important this work actually is.
“Fake news” is not the problem. A lack of critical thinking is at the base of the dilemma facing all of us. It’s not enough to just acknowledge that “fake news” has a bias – ALL news media have biases. Comprehending that is the first step to gaining a critical foothold in knowing how media shape our entire lives. We do a disservice to ourselves and to our youth if all we do is provide them a list of “reputable” sources of information. We do not need to teach our young people what to think, we need to teach them to question everything they think and encounter – give them the thirst for curiosity, to endlessly strive for answers (I didn’t conjure this phrase – a much smarter individual did).
There are millions of 14-, 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds in this country who will be voting in the next presidential election. It is The LAMP’s goal to strive to do as much to help those future voters to Comprehend, Create and ultimately Challenge media.
We intend to expand on programs like the Community News program at PS 307 (featured in the video). We will continue our Break the Election campaign, as there will be more elections – and training youth to see how they can actively participate in the political process by examining and challenging campaign media is vital. And we will continue to expand the use of our MediaBreaker/Studios tool to more educators and students across the country (right now it is being used by 350+ teachers from 45 states).
We have four years to do right by our young people, and help them learn how to make critical thinking the core value it needs to be.