The Second Spring:
Media Literacy in Canada's Schools
Media literacy in secondary
schools has begun to develop in the western Canadian provinces. There
is also some interest being shown in the subject in the Atlantic provinces.
Quebec has its own stand on Media literacy. In Ontario - where more
than one third of all Canadians live - Media literacy is very much alive.
The Ontario government has mandated the teaching of media within the
English curriculum for grades seven through twelve. There are a number
of resources available for teachers and the Association for Media Literacy
provides information, workshops, summer schools, a newsletter, and in-service
training in media .
In 1922, Lewis Selznik,
the Hollywood producer, is reported to have said: "If Canadian stories
are worthwhile making into movies, then companies will be sent into
Canada to make them." Selznik's dismissive words encapsulate a not uncommon
attitude among some Americans to their northern neighbours. Canada,
in this view, is not a place where interesting things happen; all the
good stories come out of the USA.
But in one area, at least,
this presumption is manifestly untrue. The interesting stories in North
American Media Literacy are Canadian stories.
From the late 1960's until
the mid 1970's, the Americans developed a series of secondary school
Media Literacy projects that showed great promise. Unfortunately, most
of these projects were short-lived for any number of reasons. At present
there are only a handful of significant Media Literacy programs in the
In Canada, by contrast,
secondary school film courses blossomed in the late 1960's and the first
wave of media literacy began under the banner of "screen education".
An early organization called CASE (Canadian Association for Screen Education)
sponsored the first large gathering of media teachers in 1966 at Toronto's
York University. Participants came from across the country. Largely
as a result of budget cuts and the general back-to-the-basics philosophy,
this first wave died out in the early seventies. But in the 1980's and
1990's there has been a new growth of secondary school Media Literacy
. As well, there is the beginning of a strong movement to develop elementary
Canada is a vast nation
- the largest in the world now that the Soviet Union has broken up -
with a relatively small population of about twenty six million. In fact,
there are more people in the state of California than in all of Canada.
Canada's ten provinces and two northern territories each have their
own education system. With responsibility for education resting in the
hands of the provinces, there are differences in how each province deals
with media literacy.
The Provinces of Western
Canada - British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba
In the summer of 1991,
a group met in Vancouver to form the Canadian Association for Media
Education (CAME) whose current membership numbers about one hundred
mainly from the Lower Mainland. Although most of the members are classroom
teachers, other organizations are also represented. Members include
representatives from the National Film Board of Canada, the Knowledge
TV Network, Pacific Cinematique, International Development Education
Resource Association (IDERA), MediaWatch and ADBUSTERS magazine. Their
objectives are to educate Canadians about the media, to promote media
literacy and to encourage Canadian cultural expression in the media.
CAME has hosted yearly
forums on media literacy topics and has brought prominent speakers such
as Len Masterman, George Gerbner, John Pungente, and Geoff Pevere to
Vancouver to speak to parents and teachers. In the summer of 1994 CAME
members were involved in organizing a two week summer institute for
teachers wishing to teach media literacy. And in the summer of 1995,
CAME helped organize a credit summer course in media literacy at Simon
Fraser University. CAME has published two resource samplers of information
and teaching strategies for teachers beginning work in media literacy.
In the spring of 1994,
CAME signed a contract with the Ministry of Education to produce a Conceptual
Framework of Media Education. This framework was made available to the
curriculum review committees that began meeting in the fall of 1994
with instructions to incorporate suggestions for media literacy into
all curriculum areas. It is prescribed in BC curricula from K-12. The
framework was also given to the Western Consortium - a group which has
written a common Language Arts curriculum for the four western provinces.
This curriculum will include a mandated segment on media literacy which
will differ from province to province.
And in the fall of 1996,
British Columbia was the first of the western provinces to put into
effect the new Language Arts Curriculum. Media Literacy is represented
in two ways. First, media literacy is mandated in all Language Arts
courses from K-12 as one third of the material taught. Second, media
literacy is part of the Integrated Resource Package (IRP) which is cross
curricular in all subjects from K-12.
British Columbia has still
to develop the resources to help put into effect these changes. There
is a major need to address the question of teacher trainiing in media
literacy. This is true of every province.
In Alberta, since 1982,
Viewing has been one of the strands that is required across the curriculum.
Unfortunately there are no teacher training courses or other support
material. Early in the 1990's, groups such as the University of Alberta,
The Society for Instructional Technology. the Alberta Association for
Curriculum and Development, and the National Film Board of Canada held
several conferences on Media Education.
In the spring of 1993,
a group of educators and media professionals formed the Albert Association
for Media Awareness (AAMA). Its goals are to promote media awareness,
education and understanding as essential survival skills for all Albertans,
children and adults. Among other activities, AAMA provides forums for
information, discussion and action on media issues; prepares reaction
and suggestions on media issues such as new government policy and programs;
provides conferences and training sessions for teachers; maintains a
resource centre; and establishes action networks.
The AAMAís education
committee reviewed the May 1994 draft of the Alberta Education Junior
High Language Arts Program of Studies. The committee made a number of
commendations and suggestions for improvement.
Teachers interested in
Media Education have support in the neighbouring province of Saskatchewan.
There Mick Ellis, the Audio Visual Consultant for the Saskatoon Board
of Education [and the first Canadian to obtain a Masterís degree
in Media Education from the University of London, England], and a group
of Saskatoon educators founded Media Literacy Saskatchewan (MLS) in
January of 1988. MLS has as its goals:
The Saskatoon Board of Education
members of MLS have developed three programs - Telemedia, Newsmedia, Kindermedia
- for use in the schools and has written a unit of study in Film and Literature
for the senior English course. They have also developed a Media Literacy
guide that extends from primary through to the end of secondary school.
This is in line with their belief that Media Literacy should be integrated
with any and all aspects of the school curriculum from the earliest years
of school to its completion.
- to establish and maintain
communication among educators.
- to advocate for the development
and integration of media literacy in educational curricula. to
influence educational policy makers.
- to provide professional
support. to maintain contact with Canadian and international media
In 1991, MLS became an
official special subject council of the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation
(STF). This allows access to all teachers in Saskatchewan through the
STF Bulletin, provides an instant sort of respectability, and allows
the funding of inservice and a conference through an annual $600 grant.
The first annual conference was held in October of 1991 with 45 in attendance
including representatives of three mass media businesses in Saskatoon.
Media Literacy Saskatchewan
publishes a quarterly newsletter for its members called MEDIA VIEW which
contains practical information, bibliographies, reviews of books and
audio-visual resources, and lesson ideas. Saskatchewan has six categories
of common essential learnings which are to be incorporated in all courses
of study offered. Two of these learnings are Communication Skills and
Critical and Creative Thinking. Using these, the MLS is currently working
on a proposal which would integrate Media Studies throughout the primary
and secondary curriculum. The proposal approaches the topic of Media
Literacy through four key concepts: Text, Audience, Representation and
The primary and secondary
Language Arts Policy in Saskatchewan requires Media Literacy be further
integrated into the curriculum. Not only is it part of the common essential
learnings but it is also one of the supporting domains of the basic
Language Arts structure. There is also room for Media Literacy as a
locally developed option in Grades 10, 11 and 12 (ages 15 to 18).
As yet, very few Saskatchewan
schools offer such courses possibly because there is no teacher training
in this area. However,MLS is working to interest more schools in the
possibilities for Media Education and to offer some inservice programmes.
Manitoba has an official
provincial policy on Media Education. Language Arts teachers are encouraged
to integrate Media into their teaching in the Early and Middle Years
by examining the messages coming from television advertising. Secondary
school teachers are asked to investigate the media as part of their
English courses. Other possible vehicles for teaching about the media
include school and student Initiated Courses. Senior history courses
can deal with television's view of the Third World and Grade 9 (14 year
olds) Canadian Studies courses look at the images of Canada presented
Many Manitoba teachers
do not feel capable of dealing with the media in class and hence do
not do so. There are no regular courses available to train them. although
in 1992 and 1993, the University of Manitoba offered a summer school
in media education for teachers. Thus while an official educational
policy is in place which would permit a great deal of Media Education,
there is little practical support for teachers wishing to teach media
studies. However in 1995, Brian Murphy, President of MAML was asked
to teach a thirteen week course for media literacy teachers at the University
The Manitoba Association
for Media Literacy (MAML) was founded in October 1990, the result of
a Special Areas Group (SAG) Conference sponsored by the Art Educators
Association of Manitoba. At that time several individuals interested
in Media Education met with Neil Andersen and John Pungente, SJ, executives
of the Ontario-based Association for Media Literacy (AML). The outcome
of that meeting was the formation of MAML.
The role of MAML is to
promote the aims of Media Education, in particular to assist individuals
to examine the role of the media in society. Specifically, MAML wishes
to provide individuals with an opportunity to:
To accomplish its goals, MAML
sponsors presentations and workshops for educators, parents and members
of the public at large; assists in the development of media literacy programs
for Manitoba schools; provides in-service opportunities for Manitoba teachers;
and publishes DIRECTIONS, a quarterly newsletter.
- develop the skills, knowledge,
and attitudes necessary to interpret the ways in which media construct
- develop an awareness
of the social, cultural, political and economic implications of these
constructions and their pervasive value messages;
- develop an appreciation
and aesthetic understanding of the media.
Atlantic Canada and
The Territories - Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island,
Newfoundland, The Yukon, The North West Territories
The Yukon and the North
West Territories are members of the Western Consortium. As such they
are developing media literacy components of their Language Arts Programs..
Some teachers in these places are working on their own to introduce
Media Literacy into their courses - usually in English.
In 1995 an Atlantic provinces
initiative - similar to the Language Arts Consortium in Western Canada
- developed a common Language Arts curriculum in which media literacy
figures prominently . It builds on the notion that literacy is moving
beyond competency in the written word to the ability to use and understand
visual and technological means of communications. This curriculum has
been piloted in 1996 for implementation in 1997.
In the fall of 1992, a
group of teachers, parents, librarians, media professionals, and environmentalists
formed the Association of Media Literacy for Nova Scotia AML-NS. One
of the reasons that brought the group of about one hundred people together
was the need to stop the Youth News Network (YNN) from selling its commercial
news network to Nova Scotia schools. They succeeded in both forming
a media literacy group and in stopping YNN.
AML-NS members publish
a twice yearly newsletter - The Mediator . Past President, Eileen OíConnell
has a monthly column on media literacy issues in the Halifax Chronicle
Herald, Nova Scotiaís largest circulation daily paper. As well,
Gail Lethbridge, editor of The Mediator, writes a regular column for
The Teacher , the newsletter of the Nova Scotiaís teachersí
Members of AML-NS have
presented workshops to parents and community groups as well as at several
provincial in-services for teachers. Since 1993, the Atlantic Film Festival
has invited teachers to participate with their students in the ScreenScene
program for young adults. The Festival and AML-NS also sponsor one event
for teachers dealing with media in the classroom.
The Literacy section of
the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Culture together with AML-NS
have co-sponsored a media literacy project for adult learners. Funded
by the National Literacy Secretariat and written by AML-NS member Pat
Kipping, the kit consists of a workshop manual, a collection of resources,
and an annotated guide.
In terms of teacher education,
the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design Education Department has built
into their courses some components which raise the issue of media literacy.
Some students have developed teaching units working with media and popular
culture. NSCADís interest in media literacy points to some interesting
opportunities for the development of cross curricular media literacy.
As well summer course have been offered by Mount St. Vincent in media
literacy and for two summers these courses were taught by Neil Andersen
from Ontarioís AML.
Central Canada - Quebec
Over half of Canada's population
lives in the two central Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Quebec's
Ministry of Education has given approval for the teaching of some secondary
school courses in Media Literacy in both French and English schools.
There is a Communication
element to the Language Arts courses. Such courses are mainly taught
in and around Montreal. There have been a few Media Literacy text books
written in French. The latest was written by Jacques Piette, a professor
at the Universite de Montreal, and published in the fall of 1992. The
author has given a number of courses on Television Literacy in French
speaking schools in both Quebec and Ontario and is speaking with government
officials about a further implementation of Media Literacy.
In September of 1990, a
group of French and English speaking secondary teachers, university
academics, and others interested in Media Literacy met at the Protestant
School Board of Greater Montreal to form the Association for Media Education
in Quebec (AMEQ). AMEQ is a bilingual grassroots organization composed
mainly of teachers from the Quebec school system. AMEQ is co-chaired
by Lee Rother of the Laurenval School Board and Brenda Wilson of Trafalgar
School for Girls.
The primary purpose of
AMEQ is to provide information, lesson plans and ideas, expertise, and
professional development regarding media literacy. AMEQ contends that
media literacy should be included both in the kindergarten through grade
eleven curriculum and in all teacher training programs. AMEQ actively
promotes the idea that parents should also be media literacy educators
for their children.
AMEQ has sponsored student
media festivals, media literacy conferences, day long workshops for
teachers and parents and parent information evenings. AMEQ members regularly
lead workshops at provincial education and parent conferences, school
board professional development programs, and guest lecture at McGill
Universityís Faculty of Education. AMEQ executive members have
also presented briefs to the Quebec Ministry of Education concerning
proposed curricular changes and also to the Canadian Radio-television
Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on violence and the media.
In 1991, the Montreal-based,
Centre for Literacy, which maintains an open resources collection with
materials related to every aspect of literacy, began to receive a large
number of requests for resources on media literacy. The Centre made
a commitment to increase the media component of their collection and
to organize workshops and other activities on media education. A similar
development has taken place at the Centre Saint-Pierre, a French language
popular education group.
In Ontario, where over
one third of Canada's population lives, Media Education is thriving.
In 1987 Ontario's Ministry of Education released new guidelines that
emphasize the importance of teaching Media Literacy as part of the regular
English curriculum. At least one third of a course in both intermediate
and senior division English must be devoted to media study. And in Grades
7 and 8 (12 and 13 year olds), ten percent of classroom time must be
dedicated to some form of media studies. In addition students may choose
a complete media studies course as either an optional credit or as one
of the five English credits required for secondary school graduation.
The decision by the ministry
was the result of several factors. The concern of many public groups
about the proliferation of violence and pornography in the media resulted
in pressure to have the school system respond in some constructive way.
Many parent groups, concerned by the increase in television viewing
among the young, insisted that schools has some responsibility to teach
media literacy skills.
At the same time as the
new English studies guidelines were being developed, teachers were surveyed
about classroom practices. While only a minority taught media literacy
programs, more than eighty percent indicated that they would do so if
there were resource materials and in-service training. Informal lobby
groups consisting of teacher federations, the Association for Media
Literacy, and home and school groups, submitted briefs to the Minister
of Education asking that media literacy be an essential part of the
At the beginning of April
1995 , the Ontario Ministry of Education released two documents of special
interest to those involved with media literacy. The Common Curriculum:
Policies and Outcomes Grades 1 to 9 clearly outlines what students are
expected to know and when they are expected to know it. Provincial Standards:
Language: Grades 1 to 9 provide objective and consistent indicators
to determine how well students are learning. From Grades 1 through to
9 in Language Arts there are strands which must be taught. These strands
are Listening and Speaking, Reading, Writing, Viewing and Representation.
The Viewing and Representing strands ensure that media literacy is now
a mandated part of the Language Arts curriculum beginning from Grade
1. Both documents stress throughout the importance of media literacy
and there is no doubt but that this is a most important, necessary and
vital part of all Language Arts classes.
Ontario was the first educational
jurisdiction in North America to make Media Literacy a mandatory part
of the curriculum.
One group above all is
responsible for the continuing successful development of Media Education
in Ontario. This is the Association for Media Literacy (AML). There
were seventy people at the AML's founding meeting in Toronto in April
of 1978. The founders of the association were Barry Duncan,a secondary
school teacher, now AML President and head of English at Toronto's School
of Experiential Education; Arlene Moskovitch, then with the National
Film Board of Canada, now a free lance producer, writer and consultant;
Linda Schulyer, an elementary school teacher, who has since become a
principal in Playing With Time, Inc. the production company responsible
for the popular DEGRASSI television series seen around the world; and
Jerry McNab, head of the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Center, now
head of Magic Lantern, a film production and distribution center. By
the end of the 1980's, the AML had over 1000 members and a track record
of distinguished achievements.
In 1986, the Ontario Ministry
of Education and the Ontario Teachers' Federation invited ten AML members
to prepare a MEDIA LITERACY RESOURCE GUIDE for teachers. Published by
the government in the summer of 1989, the 232 page guide is designed
to help teachers of media. It includes teaching strategies and models
as well as rationale and aims. The main body of the book presents ideas
and classroom activities in the areas of Television, Film, Radio, Popular
Music and Rock Video, Photography, Print, and Cross-Media Studies (Advertising,
Sexuality, Violence, Canadian Identity, News). The Resource Guide was
preceded by the release of a video (produced by AML members) on Media
Literacy for teachers. This guide is used in many English speaking countries
and has been translated into French, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.
Prior to the release of
the Resource Book, the Ministry seconded the AML authors to give a series
of in-service training days to teachers across Ontario in preparation
for the introduction of media courses. Since 1987, AML members have
given over 100 in-service days and workshops in Ontario. AML members
have also given presentations across Canada, and in Australia, Japan,
Europe and the United States.
The Ontario resource guide
describes Media Literacy as being concerned "with the process of understanding
and using the mass media. It is also concerned with helping students
develop an informed and critical understanding of the nature of the
mass media, the techniques used by them, and the impact of these techniques.
More specifically, it is education that aims to increase students' understanding
and enjoyment of how the media work, how they produce meaning, how they
are organized, and how they construct reality. Media literacy also aims
to provide students with the ability to create media products." 
The government resource
guide is very specific about the ultimate aim of media education. Ontario's
aims closely follow those first stated by Len Masterman in TEACHING
THE MEDIA. Ontario sees Media Education as : " . . . a life skill, and
the success of an educational program must be judged by the behaviour
of students after they leave school. If the school can provide them
with the necessary knowledge, skills and awareness, they will then be
in a position to control their relationship with the media." 
There are many international
influences reflected in the MEDIA LITERACY RESOURCE GUIDE. Several of
Ontario's concepts were influenced by the work of Len Masterman, a British
university professor who is one of the foremost Media Education theorists.
Masterman's statement on principal concepts resulted in the development
of the following eight key concepts in the guide. 
Len Masterman makes an important
exhortation to teachers. "The really important and difficult task of the
media teacher is to develop in pupils enough self-confidence and critical
maturity to be able to apply critical judgements to media texts which
they will encounter in the future. . . . The primary objective is not
simply critical awareness and understanding, it is critical autonomy."
 Ontario students who are media literate will have the ability to decode,
encode, and evaluate the media symbol systems that dominate their world.
- All media are constructions.
Arguably the most important concept is that the media do not present
simple reflections of external reality. Rather, the media presents
carefully crafted constructions which have been subjected to a broad
range of determinants and decisions. Media Literacy works towards
deconstructing these constructions.
- The media constructs
reality. A major part of the observations and experiences upon which
we base our picture of what the world is and how it works comes to
us "preconstructed by the media, with attitudes, interpretations,
and conclusions already built in."  Thus it is the media, not ourselves,
who construct our reality.
- Audiences negotiate meaning
in media. Who we are has a bearing on how we process information.
Each of us finds or "negotiates" meaning in a different way through
a wide variety of factors: "personal needs and anxieties, the pleasures
or troubles of the day, racial and sexual attitudes, family and cultural
- Media have commercial
implications. Media Literacy includes an awareness of "the economic
basis of mass-media production and how it impinges on content, techniques,
and distribution."  Media production is a business and must make
a profit. As well, Media Literacy investigates questions of ownership,
control and related effects. A relatively small number of individuals
control what we watch, read and hear in the media.
- Media contains ideological
and value messages. All media products are advertising in some sense
- for themselves but also for values or ways of life. Our mainstream
media convey - explicitly or implicitly - ideological messages. These
can include all or some of the following: the nature of the "good
life" and the role of affluence in it, the virtue of "consumerism",
the role of women, the acceptance of authority, and uncompromising
- Media have social and
political implications. Media are closely linked with the world of
politics and social change. Television can elect a national leader
largely on the basis of image. And at the same time involve us in
civil rights issues, famines in the Third World, and the AIDS epidemic.
The media has intimately involved us in national issues and global
concerns. We have become McLuhan's Global Village.
- Form and content are
closely related to the media. Each medium, as Marshall McLuhan noted,
has its own grammar and codifies reality in unique ways. And so, different
media will report the same event but create different impressions
- Each medium has a unique
aesthetic form. Just as we notice the pleasing rhythms of certain
pieces of poetry or prose, so ought we be able to enjoy the pleasing
forms and effects of the different media.
Classroom textbooks in
Media Studies were available from Australian, British and American authors,
but there were no suitable Canadian textbooks. Since 1988, AML members
have written Canadian textbooks for senior students - Barry Duncan's
MASS MEDIA AND POPULAR CULTURE, Donna Carpenter's MEDIA: IMAGES AND
ISSUES, Neil Anderson's MEDIA WORKS, Roy Ingram's MEDIA FOCUS, and Rick
Hone and Liz Flynn's VIDEO IN FOCUS: A GUIDE TO VIEWING AND PRODUCING
VIDEO. The AML also publishes media literacy bibliography
During 1988 and 1989, the
AML collected curriculum units in media studies from Ontario teachers
and published some of the best of these in THE AML ANTHOLOGY 1990. Edited
by AML executive, Bill Smart, the first edition quickly sold out and
THE AML ANTHOLOGY SUPPLEMENT 1992 was planned. For the first edition
of the Anthology, the AML executive felt the need for an all-purpose
compendium of media lesson plans and units which demonstrated a variety
of media genres and strategies for a variety of grades and levels. Some
units were designed for teachers new to media studies, others were more
sophisticated in their application of the key concepts and in their
activities and production tasks.
Recognizing the importance
of learning from what has been done in other countries, the AML has
collected materials from around the world and organized visits to Toronto
by Len Masterman from England, Eddie Dick from Scotland, and Barrie
McMahon, Robyn Quin Peter Greenaway and Stephen Walters from Australia.
In addition, to fulfil a need for a textbook for Grades 7 and 8 (12
and 13 year olds), two AML members - Jack Livesley and John Pungente
- obtained permission from Barrie McMahon and Robyn Quin to do a Canadian
adaptation of their excellent text MEET THE MEDIA. The Canadian edition
was published in January of 1990 and is now in use in schools across
Three times a year, the
AML publishes MEDIACY. This periodical, edited by AML executive member
Derek Boles, updates AML members on what has been happening, lists new
publications in the field, announces speakers and topics for quarterly
events, and publishes articles on related topics. During the school
year, the AML quarterly events bring in speakers ranging from media
teachers to media professionals and deal with topics as varied as Multiculturalism,
Race and Media and Deconstructing Television News.
From 1987 to 1993, the
AML offered three courses for media teachers during summer school in
conjunction with the Faculty of Education at the University of Toronto.
A steep increase in the cost of summer school courses brought these
courses to an end.
Media Part I introduced
the key concepts of the media: how the media construct realities through
the interaction of media codes, cultural practices, media industries
and audience. Models of critical pedagogy and classroom organizations
were presented. Students worked in groups with camcorders and an editing
suite as well as deconstructed a variety of media, reviewed current
resources, and designed practical curriculum units. Special speakers
from the media industry made presentations to the class.
Media Part II reinforced
what was done in Part I and had a special emphasis on how individuals
and audiences negotiate meaning, showing the implications of this for
course designs and student discussions. In order to propose effective
school-wide and board-wide courses, teachers assessed course frameworks
developed in Britain, Australia, and several Ontario school boards.
Media Part III students
developed and presented an original research project based on assessing
student response to media curriculum in the classroom. Refining ideas
drawn from media theory, critical pedagogy, and discourse analysis,
students learned appropriate research practices and looked at the variety
of ways for contextualizing teachable moments in the media. Students
were expected to acquire the skills of conducting workshops and advising
teachers at the school board level on course design.
The Canadian government
is in the midst of passing legislation on a new copyright law. The AML
has been very active in lobbying for the right of teachers to a "fair
use" clause which would allow them freely to show excerpts from television
In May of 1989, the AML
brought together forty-six educators and media professionals for a two
day invitational think tank to discuss future developments of Media
Education in Ontario. The Trent Think Tank took place at Peterborough's
University of Trent. Participants included classroom teachers, Ministry
of Education personnel, Language Arts co-ordinators and consultants,
university professors, and representatives from the Saskatoon Media
Literacy Association, the Development Education Centre, the Children's
Broadcast Institute, Strategies for Media Literacy (San Francisco),
TVOntario and the National Film Board of Canada. Keynote speakers were
Eddie Dick, Media Education Officer for the Scottish Film Council in
Glasgow, and Peter Greenaway, Professor of Media Education at Victoria
College in Melbourne. The results of this conference were published
by the AML early in 1990.
The Association for Media
Literacy organized the first North American Media Education conference,
held May 10-12, 1990, at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario.
Chaired by AML executive, Rick Shepherd, this highly successful conference
featured keynote speakers Len Masterman, lecturer in education at England's
University of Nottingham and author of TEACHING THE MEDIA; Eddie Dick,
Media education Officer for the Scottish Film Council; and Barrie McMahon,
senior curriculum officer for the Western Australia Ministry of Education
and Robyn Quin, lecturer in Media Studies at the Western Australia College
of Advanced Education.
When the Association began
planning for the conference, they hoped to attract about 300 teachers.
By the time of the conference the final count was 420 participants.
Space limitations forced the organizers to turn away another 100 applicants.
The participants came from eight provinces of Canada, nine American
states and three overseas countries.
Participants had their
choice of over 50 workshops and took part in a number of social events
which gave them an opportunity to meet media teachers from other areas.
During this conference, the American National Telemedia Council awarded
Barry Duncan, AML's president, the Jessie McCanse Award for his contributions
to Media Education. The National Telemedia Council also published the
keynote speeches in their newsletter.
The success of the 1990
conference sparked a call for a second North American Media Education.
Once again, the AML organized this conference - CONSTRUCTING CULTURE
- at the University of Guelph from May 13-15, 1992. John Pungente, SJ,
of the AML executive, chaired the conference which attracted 500 participants
from eight Canadian provinces, fifteen American states, and fourteen
overseas countries. It was a most international mix of media educators
from around the world.
Keynote speakers were Barry
Duncan, President of the AML and author; Susan Cole, author and editor
of Canada's NOW Magazine; and Barry McMahon and Robyn Quin from Western
Australia. There were over 70 workshops and panels to choose from during
this very successful conference as well as video screenings of media
education resources, social events and a special closing panel.
After the conference, representatives
from Canadian provinces met in Toronto to form the Canadian Association
of Media Education Organizations (CAMEO). The purpose of the group is
to promote media literacy across Canada. CAMEO's first president was
Mick Ellis, then head of Media Literacy Saskatchewan. In May 1995, John
J. Pungente, SJ was elected the second president. CAMEO links together
the media literacy organizations across Canada. The member groups are:
CAMEO member organizations
have been involved in a number of Canadian initiatives. Most recently
presentations were made by member groups to the CRTC during the national
hearings on violence and the media. CAMEO advocated the development of
a single national classification system and offered its services to develop
the called-for media literacy strategies. CAMEO has also petitioned for
the inclusion of a fair use clause in the revised opyright laws. As well,
CAMEO successfully led two struggles in 1996 and 1997 to keep the Youth
News Network out of Candian classrooms.
- Canadian Association
for Media Education of British Columbia
- Alberta Association of
- Media Literacy Saskatchewan
- Manitoba Association
of Media Literacy
- Ontario Association of
- Jesuit Communication
- Quebec Association for
- Association for Media
Literacy Nova Scotia
The Canadian Professional
Media and The Development of Media Literacy:
Having access to good media
resources is very important for media teachers. This is especially true
in Canada where the current copyright laws complicate the situation.
There are a number of such resources available although there is a considerable
distance to go before Canadians have access to the quantity of material
available to British and Australian teachers.
For many years Canadian
teachers have used films from the National Film Board of Canada (NFB),
subscribed to their educational newsletters, and taken part in their
workshops. Since 1989, the NFB have issued three video resource packages
which are proving very helpful for media teachers -
Another resource is The Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation's (CBC) INSIDE THE BOX, a series of six packages
each of which include a video and teacher's guide. The subjects dealt
with are Television Documentary, Television News, Children's Television,
Drama, Television and the Consumer, and Television as an Artistic Medium.
- IMAGES AND MEANING is
an anthology of nine National Film Board productions to spark discussion
and learning in media literacy courses. A small booklet gives a series
of discussion guidelines for classes.
- MEDIA AND SOCIETY is
especially useful dealing as it does with media in contemporary society
under four main topics - Advertising and Consumerism, Images of Women,
Cultural Sovereignty, and Shaping the Truth. Each topic is presented
with a short, provocative introduction. The package offers a wide
choice of topics in the form of short documentaries, animated films,
advertisements, and excerpts. This video package consists of 3 VHS
videos containing 19 NFB films or film excerpts and a 124 page Resource
Guide. The Resource Guide includes activities, interviews with filmmakers,
backgrounds on the films, student handouts, articles and quotes.
- CONSTRUCTING REALITY
deals with truth, fact, objectivity and the nature of propaganda in
the media. The six video cassettes or laserdiscs house an anthology
of films, film excerpts, interviews, and original production material
for use in senior media literacy classes. The accompanying 150 Resource
Guide raises critical issues around documentary filmaking and representations
of fact and fiction in mainstream media. The package is organized
in six sections: The Documentary Process, The Viewing Experience,
Documentary Traditions, The Search For Truth, Many Voices, and New
Beginning in the autumn
of 1991, YTV, the Toronto based national youth channel, worked with
AML executive, Neil Andersen, to produce media literacy notes for their
weekly TV program STREET NOISE. Toronto's CITY TV has a weekly program,
Media Television, which analyses various aspects of the mass media and
the national MuchMusic puts on the web media literacy lesson plans for
a number of its programes..
The Alliance for Children
and Television in collaboration with Health Canada has produced the
Prime Time Parent kit which has received an overwhelming response from
teachers and parents. The Media Awareness Network has created the Video
for Media Education catalogue, which offers one hundred and fifteen
English and one hundred French video titles - all reviewed by media
literacy teachers across Canada.
There is good - and growing
- cooperation between the media themselves and groups promoting media
literacy. A few examples:
Some of the best books on media
come from sources such as the British Film Institute and American publishers.
These books have not been readily available in Canada. However, a Toronto
book store, Theatre Books, stocks many of these books as well as titles
listed in the AML Bibliography. Theatre Books lists these books in their
catalogue and have an excellent mail order service which allows Canadian
teachers easy access to key media books.
- Warner Brothers assistance
in publishing a 1994 media literacy study guide for the animated film,
BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM , in Kids World Magazine. This guide
dealt honestly with the issues of violence in the movie.
- YTVís series of
lesson plans for teachers and written by Neil Andersen and other media
literacy teachers - YTV News in Class - has dealt with a number of
topics including Television and Violence. This lesson plan presents
ways of discussing such topics as types of media violence, how to
report violence on the news without showing it, and other ways children
might have learned violent behavior. It also offers topics for research
into the area of media violence as well as suggestions for practical
- TVOntario has purchased
rights to a number of media literacy programs for teachers and has
prepared two interactive satellite broadcasts on media literacy. Both
of these were done with consultation from media literacy teachers.
- CITY TVís weekly
series Media Television provides a critical look at various media.
This is an important example of original programming about the media.
It has a great potential for use by teachers of media literacy.
- Much Musicís program
Too Much for Much brings in media literacy teachers and students along
with station decision makers and cultural critics to discuss why certain
videos are not being aired. As well, as part of the Cable in the Classroom,
Much Music has developed a number of teacherís guides to accompany
the programs which appear monthly through Cable in the Classroom.
- CABLE IN THE CLASSROOM
brings copyright cleared, commercial free, educationally relevant
French and English television programs to elementary and secondary
schools. Teachers are free to tape programs of interest and reply
them in class. Schedules and support print material are available
The Jesuit Communication
Project was set up in 1984 to promote media literacy in Canada. It also
serves as a Canadian resource center for media literacy with a collection
of over 4000 books and periodicals on the media, as well as vertical
files on media literacy and a large collection of media literacy materials
from around the world. It is used by teachers, researchers, students,
and the media from across Canada and around the world. Twice a year,
it publishes CLIPBOARD - the only international media literacy newsletter
- and distributes it to 41 countries. In 1997, the Jesuit Communication
Project working with award winning filmmaker Gary Marcuse, CHUM Television
Ltd. , YTV, TVOntario, Warner Bros, and the NFB produced SCANNING TELEVISION
- an award winning collection of some 40 excerpts from television for
use in media literacy class. The accompanying teacherís guide
was written by Neil Andersen and the four video kit is pubished by Harcourt
In 1995 a new service appeared
on the Internet - on the World Wide Web - called the Media Awareness
Network. It is the first, and only on-line Canadian content clearinghouse
(and the only one of its kind in the world) dedicated to media literacy
and to increasing pubic appreciation of the role media play in the lives
of children. Leading media educators across Canada have participated
in the design of one of the Networkís content areas specifically
as a resource for media literacy. This is an important communication
link between teachers, students, and the communications industries across
A study of media literacy
around the world, shows that there are nine factors which appear to
be crucial to the successful development of media literacy in secondary
schools. These are:
Australia, Scotland, and England,
where many of the above factors are in place, lead the world in media
literacy. Although Ontario has not had the years of experience that Australia
and Britain have, it is clear that Ontario does now possess most of the
factors critical to the successful development of media literacy. The
past few years have seen the province of Ontario become a leader in media
literacy not only in Canada but also around the world. The other provinces
are not far behind.
- Media literacy, like
other innovative programs, must be a grassroots movement and teachers
need to take a major initiative in lobbying for this.
- Educational authorities
must give clear support to such programs by mandating the teaching
of Media Studies within the curriculum, establishing guidelines and
resource books, and by making certain that curricula are developed
and that materials are available.
- Faculties of Education
must hire staff capable of training future teachers in this area.
There should also be academic support from tertiary institutions in
the writing of curricula and in sustained consultation.
- In-service training at
the school district level must be an integral part of program implementation.
- School districts need
consultants who have expertise in media literacy and who will establish
- Suitable textbooks and
audio-visual material which are relevant to the country/area must
- A support organization
must be established for the purposes of workshops, conferences, dissemination
of newsletters and the development of curriculum units. Such a professional
organization must cut across school boards and districts to involve
a cross section of people interested in media literacy.
- There must be appropriate
evaluation instruments which are suitable for the unique quality of
- Because media literacy
involves such a diversity of skills and expertise, there must be a
collaboration between teachers, parents, researchers and media professionals.
 Duncan, Barry et al..
Media Literacy - Resource Guide. Toronto: Ministry of Education, 1989,
 Ibid. p.7.
 "Media teachers should
attempt to make a list of the principal concepts which they wish their
students to understand, for it is these concepts which can provide the
subject with its continuity and coherence across a wide range of media
texts and issues." TEACHING THE MEDIA , p.23.
 Op.cit, p.8.
 Op.cit., p.9.
 Op.cit., p.24.
Dan Blake, British Columbia;
Wayne Blair and Sharon McCann, Alberta; Mick Ellis, Saskatchewan; Brian
Murphy, Manitoba; Maureen Baron and Lee Rother, Quebec; Neil Andersen,
Barry Duncan, Bill Smart , Ontario; Pat Kipping, Halifax
Anderson, Neil. Media Works.
Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Carpenter, Donna. Media
: Images and Issues. Toronto: Addison and Wesley, 1988.
CBC Enterprises. Inside
the Box. CBC Enterprises, Box 500, Station A, Toronto, Ontario M5W 1E6.
Duncan, Barry Mass Media
and Popular Culture. (Version 2) Toronto: Harcourt, Brace 1996.
Duncan, Barry et al. Media
Literacy - Resource Guide. Toronto: Ministry of Education, Toronto,
Hone, Rick and Flynn, Liz.
Video in Focus: A Guide to Viewing and Producing Video. Toronto: Globe/Modern
Ingram, Roy. Media Focus.
Toronto: Copp Clark, 1989.
Livesley, Jack et al. Meet
the Media (Canadian edition). Toronto: Globe/Modern Curriculum, 1990.
Masterman, Len. Teaching
the Media . London: Comedia , 1985.
National Film Board of
Canada, Box 6100, Station A, Montreal, Quebec H3C 3H5.
Theatre Books, 11 St. Thomas
Street, Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A3. 1-800-361-3414
Canadian Media Literacy
- Alberta Association for
Media Awareness, 605 Milbourne Road East, Edmonton, AB T6K 3N3 (403)
944-9667 /Fax:(403) 463-0109
- Alliance For Children
and Television (ACT) , 1002 - 60 St.Clair Avenue East, Toronto, ON
M4T 1N5 (416) 515-0466 /Fax (416)515-0467
- The Association for Media
Literacy, 40 McArthur Street, Toronto, ON M3P 3M7, (416) 394-6992/Fax:
- Association for Media
Literacy in Quebec, 19 Malta, Dollard des Ormeaux, QC H9B 2E6. Fax:
- Cable in The Classroom,
Suite 909 , 350 Sparks Street, Ottawa, ON K1R 7S8, (613) 233-3033
Fax: (613) 233-7650.
- Canadian Association
for Media literacy in British Columbia, c/o Dan Blake, 15945 - 96th
Avenue, Surrey, BC V4N 2R8 (604) 581-4433/ Fax: (604) 581-1150
- Centre for Literacy,
3040 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, QC H3Z 1A4 (514) 931-8731 Ext.1415
/ Fax: (514) 931-5181
- The Jesuit Communication
Project, 1002 - 60 St. Clair Avenue, Toronto, ON M4T 1N5 (416) 515-0466
/ Fax: (416) 515-0467
- Manitoba Association
for Media Literacy, c/o Brian Murphy, 2200 Grant Avenue, Winnipeg,
MB R3P OP8 (204) 831-2300/ Fax: (204) 831-2340
- Media Awareness Network,
179 Rideau Street, Ottawa, ON K1A OM9 1-800-896-3342, (613) 992-5380/
Fax: (613) 947-2537
- Media Literacy Nova Scotia,
PO Box 1594 Central, Halifax, NS B3J 2Y3
- Media Literacy Saskatchewan,
c/o Grant Dougal, Saskatoon Board of Education, 405-3rd Avenue South,
Saskatoon, SK S7K 1M7 (306)934-2334 /Fax (306) 665-0107
- Media Watch, 204-517
Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1G1 (416)408-2065
John Pungente is a Canadian
Jesuit priest with Master's degrees in English, Theology, and Film.
He taught Media and other subjects for eighteen years at a Canadian
Jesuit high school in Winnipeg. He is co-author of MEDIA LITERACY -
the Ontario Ministry of Education Resource Guide for Teachers, co-author
of the Canadian edition of MEET THE MEDIA -a text for students aged
eleven to fifteen, editor of the international quarterly newsletter,
CLIPBOARD, and co-producer of the award winning video teaching resource,
SCANNING TELEVISION. Currently he is executive Director of the Jesuit
Communication Project in Toronto where his main work is the promotion
of media literacy.