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Media Literacy in Ontario Public School Curriculum

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
So I'm writing this post to find feedback from families in Ontario who have experience with this element of the elementary curriculum.

We are a family who does not own a TV, nor do we intend to ever own one. We may watch a movie once in a while during the winter months on our 13" laptop, or stream a tv show from the internet for ourselves. Dd may watch a movie at grandma's house (planet earth or the likes) or we may rent something that we think is interesting and watch it together from time to time (again on the laptop). This all said, media is not a huge part of our lives. We limit all disney character items (etc) from our home and encourage toys and items of interest that have no distinct media reference. If we receive media related items we donate them and dd is aware and ok with this.

So that's the back up...now for my dilemna...

So dd has been in montessori school - one where they do not encourage media at all and have parent workshops on media influences etc. However, we are considering that she may have to go to the public system next year due to my upcoming mat leave. I was reading the curriculum as I was mainly worried about her advanced level of intelligence and how that would work out for her in gr. 1, and stumbled across this whole section of "Media Literacy" where they study movies, cartoons, advertisements etc. I'm floored really...all this time we have worked to keep this out of our lives and now they are going to teach her about this stuff.

There was a specific section of the curriculum outline where they looked at advertisements for toys and questioned the children, "now would this be for a boy or girl" - brutal...in our family, toys are gender neutral.

Anyways, I'm writing to seek guidance from a family who may relate to where I'm coming from and have experience in the public education system such that you could advise how you deal with this component.

Many thanks,
m
post #2 of 5
My teaching partner has his media literacy specialist....I'd be interested to pick his brain on this topic.

I wouldn't let it freak you out too much. I think the intent is to THINK about media and the messages most kids are receiving 7,000,000 times a day. It sounds like you and your DD are already doing that. Media is in everything: packaging, around town, media is so many things other than just commercialism. The size and font of text gives you information, the colours, the layout, etc.

As for the "boy or girl" prompt, that's not necessarily the route your DD's teacher would go with it and it might lead to further discussions like "is this water baby for a boy or a girl?" ..."how do you know that?" ...."do you agree?" ..."what if....yada yada yada"....

It's not quite as raising-consumeristic-drones-ish as it sounds....at least, it isn't intended to be....I hope...
post #3 of 5
I agree with eirual.
Even if your daughter isn't consuming media now, there's just no way you can prevent her from being exposed to it in the future, from a trip to the grocery store to branded merch at a friend's birthday party to the T-shirt of the kid sitting next to her.
Media education is aimed at counteracting consumerism and teaching kids to become critical consumers of media, wherever they find it.
The question about whether a toy is for a boy or girl isn't aimed at reinforcing gender stereotypes, it's aimed at getting kids to ask the question of how marketers use constructed gender identity to sell a product.
If you're concerned, talk to your daughter's teacher. It's unfortunate that too few teachers are media specialists but I think most teachers are pretty clear on the goals of media education.
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Ok I hear all of this...thank you.
DP and I talked about all of this last night and I realized that I was overreacting. I don't want to sound like I am trying to raise dd in a cave. I want her to have critical thought and experience how to think for herself despite what media and peers influence her to think...
I guess with an only child I have a harder time seeing her being the age that she are sometimes...to me she is still my baby girl...and I worry that she isn't ready for things, even when she clearly is. I deep down know that critical thought is a good thing to develop in a 6yo. I know this. I respect this.
Thank you for your respectful and enlightening feedback. I cross-posted in the learning forum and wasn't so understood.

I would love to hear what your teaching partner says about all this too eirual...I'd love to hear how this happens in an actual classroom for 6yo's. Let me know if you find anything more out!

many thanks...
post #5 of 5
I answered in the other forum but the prompts that you see in the curriculum are just that- prompts. Teachers are not required to use them. I can see the boy/girl question as a way to teach children about how media influences us to see things as boy/girl and for kids to really think about it. I guide my students by asking them if something is really only for boys or girls and why would we think that. Also you are looking at the curriculum as its components- the way that it is implemented in the classroom is very different. If you have any more questions you can certainly ask me.
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