Media Literacy Week hits SIUE

Last week marked the fifth annual media literacy week. An initiative of Gateway Media Literacy Partners Inc, (GMLP), the week marks a series of lectures held around the Saint Louis area to discuss the importance of media education in society. The lectures help to promote the GMLP’s goals of improving media literacy in the Saint Louis area.

SIUE was host to Liz Reckker and SIUE alum Chantal Chandler’s presentation titled “Why Every Student Wants to be a Pediatrician: Broadening Career Choices Through Media Literacy.” The presentation discussed how most high school students have a negative perception of blue collar workers as a result of negative media portrayals primarily through television.

“Previous studies have shown that kids can view portrayals of television shows as pretty realistic.” Chandler explained.

The problem created through this perception is that high school students begin to perceive media models like Peter Griffin or Fred Flintstone as accurate representations of blue collar workers. This perception being largely tied into the assumption that they are lacking in intelligence, lazy, and that their jobs require little to no skill. As a result, students are inclined to avoid blue collar work in favor of jobs requiring higher education.

“Every kid thinks that they’re going to college for a four year degree,” said Chandler.

This drive for more education has several drawbacks, according to Chandler and Reckker. The first being that a significant portion of the population lacks the financial means to succeed in college and wind up acquiring significant debt without adequate return on the investment. The other major drawback is that there aren’t enough blue collar workers being trained to replace retiring generations creating a labor shortage even in our current economic climate.

Reckker and Chandler’s proposed solution to this growing social problem is to change the media models kids are exposed to, and to promote media literacy so that kids are equipped to decode media models.

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