The Need for Systemic Critical Media Literacy in American Schools

In the 21st century, the so-called “information age,” media literacy has become a necessity for a citizenry concerned about democratic engagement and authentic living. In the last two decades, many of our European counterparts (e.g., England, Finland, and France) have recognized this need and have implemented via their governmental policies critical media literacy curricula into elementary, secondary and university levels of schooling on national scales. We lag behind in a big way. Sadly the United States government has not taken a concrete step toward similar approach for our school system. Aside from some savvy individual teachers, including media education predicated on critical thinking principles in their pedagogy, there are no district-wide or statewide programs on media education in our school systems. I argue that our citizenry is in desperate need of a rigorous critical media literacy education. This is especially the case for our underprivileged kids who are bombarded with consumerism that permeates every facet of their existence and dictates their way of life without any challenge or critical engagement.