Seis princípios para Educação para a Mídia, segundo David Gauntlett
At university level, media courses are often oriented towards ‘getting a job in the media’. This is less straightforward than it used to be, compounded by the fact that media employers often say that they don’t necessarily want someone who has ‘only’ studied the media, and would be happier with a specialist in History, English Literature, or Physics – someone who ‘knows something about something’.
1: Hands-on, Do It Yourself learning
I believe that people most often enjoy themselves, make connections, and therefore learn, when they are doing things. This learning can grow with reflection, discussion, and writing, but it begins with the doing. This was confirmed by the research I did for my book Making is Connecting (2011), which shows that through the process of making things, we arrive at understandings which are not just about the apparent ‘subject matter’ of the production, but are about one’s own feelings and reflections. Making things leads to insights into the creative process, and the ways in which created things become situated in the context of the world. Even more importantly, perhaps, making things enables people to make connections with each other, and to feel more engaged in their own learning process.
Creativity has to be the most important element in every part of a media course or degree. An eye for quality and professionalism is important, too, but not at the expense of ideas, innovation and character. The culture of Web 2.0 prompts a return to the ethos of the Victorian philosopher and critic John Ruskin, who argued that the roughly-made and non-professional things made by everyday people were the most valuable and meaningful elements of our culture, as they embody a kind of celebration of humanity’s imperfections: the very fact that we are not machines.
These days, many people find that they can make media, without too much trouble or expense, and do it just because they can. Learning in Media Studies therefore needs to stretch students well above this baseline, so that they can produce work which has greater quality, thoughtfulness and style, and in particular that is meaningful. Work that has a point. If a media course is to ‘add value’ to the learning and experience of students, it must include a social and ethical dimension.
Students should be encouraged to be intelligently critical, which means that they should be judicious: sharply critical, where relevant, but also able to see the positive or appealing side of things, where relevant. The academic fashion for believing that the ‘correct’ diagnosis of any phenomenon is the most disapproving one does not help anybody: being intelligently critical is more-or-less the opposite of being automatically miserable.
Media courses today have often de-emphasised ‘theory’, and even renamed those former areas of the course as ‘analysis’ or ‘contextual studies’, to indicate this shift. This is typically a response to the excesses of Cultural Studies-type theory of the 1980s and 1990s, as indicated above, which tended to have little connection with the experiences of actual media users or producers.
Ultimately, Media Studies should encourage creative thinking and creative making. It is at its best when it is about encouraging people to think (and, correspondingly, at its worst when it tries to tell people what to think).
Baym, Nancy K. (2010), Personal Connections in the Digital Age, Cambridge: Polity.
Burgess, Jean, & Green, Joshua (2009), YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture, Cambridge: Polity.
Gauntlett, David (2011), Making is Connecting: The social meaning of creativity, from DIY and knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0, Cambridge: Polity.
Illich, Ivan (1973), Tools for Conviviality, London: Calder & Boyars.
Lanier, Jaron (2010), You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, London: Allen Lane.
Leadbeater, Charles (2008), We Think: Mass Innovation not Mass Production, London: Profile Books.
Shirky, Clay (2008), Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organising Without Organisations, London: Allen Lane.
Shirky, Clay (2010), Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, London: Allen Lane.