RE-viewing the World
In this article, Jenny Zobel and Richard Thurley ask questions of Margot Brown to share the thinking behind the Media Studies Project at the Centre for Global Education
RE-viewing the World
Jenny Zobel & Richard Thurley
RE-viewing the World is an innovative Media Studies Project for schools in the North East of England, created in July 2005 by the Centre for Global Education. The Centre, based in York, has been working with teachers and student teachers on global education projects since 1982. This new project runs for three years and is funded by the Department of International Development [DFID]. Margot Brown, the Centre and Project Coordinator, explains:
RE-viewing the world is a schools- based project which analyses media coverage of development issues and develops critical thinking in global citizenship.
Our aim is to work with teachers of media studies and English in secondary schools to incorporate development and global issues into their schemes of work.
Q: How did this idea come about?
MB: I thought of creating a media project for schools after reading a number of reports evaluating how the media influences young people’s view of the developing world. The 2005 Mori report states that young people in England and Wales rely on TV for most of their knowledge of the world - 80% of them said this was their main source. A survey by DEFY in Ireland (2000) found that most young people there believe in the accuracy of TV news and rarely question if it gives the full picture. We realised that the great majority of young people in this country believe that the media present a fair picture of what is happening in countries of the South.
Q: So you are inviting Media Studies teachers to extend the range of their teaching?
MB: Yes. There is great potential for Media Studies to use issues of development in media analysis. Unfortunately, there is still insufficient material or support for teachers who wish to include global issues in their media studies courses – and this is where we come in: we work with teachers to develop these resources.
Q: Isn’t there a risk that adding the global dimension to media studies could overburden teachers who already have a heavy workload?
MB: We believe that global issues should not be treated as an add-on or an after-thought in the classroom. We are aware that teachers are already overstretched and our approach is to integrate global perspectives into existing schemes of work.
Q: How does the project work in practice?
MB: We are working with ten schools in two EES regions: Yorkshire & Humber and the North East. Our first priority was to identify what they needed and then work together to develop relevant activities. It is an added advantage to have the support of the two EES regions and the expertise of the North East coordinator as part of the Advisory group. In later phases we will work with a wider range of organisations, including NATE in the North East, and more schools within the two regions to develop the work further. We will continue our work with PGCE tutors of English in Universities in both regions to introduce elements of this project into their courses. By the end of the three years, we will have produced and trialled a series of global dimension activities, created web pages and a CD Rom.
Q: Where do you get the material you use with the teachers?
MB: We work with the media used by young people. In addition, we use sources of a more global nature such as The New Internationalist, our own resources at the Centre and very useful websites that offer primary sources from a range of countries of the South. At the moment we are also using UNICEF’s very challenging ‘More Precious Than Gold’ video. We also create our own activities that are trialled and amended by the project teachers.
Q: What activities and workshops have you developed so far?
MB: The teachers we are working with have chosen to focus on the themes of poverty, human rights and conflict. They have already tested a number of media activities with a global dimension in their classrooms. The ‘Double Compass Rose’ activity developed by DEC, South Yorkshire and written about in an earlier issue of the Journal, challenges the way we look at newspaper images from the South. It also provides a framework of structured questions and viewpoints to guide discussions among the students themselves. The starting point for another activity was a Guardian photograph, taken in October 2005, of two African youths using a mobile phone in an improvised ‘kiosk’ in rural Kenya. It examines how mobile phone communication is changing the life of people in sub-Saharan Africa.
We are harnessing the key skills which pupils are already using – reading, speaking, listening, original writing, role play and drama – but with a global focus. We also facilitate classes to make short radio and video programmes.
There are many more ideas, activities and workshops in the pipeline because the teachers are really enthused by the project. You could say that together we are now taking ‘a fresh look at re-viewing the world.’
The core team includes the authors of this article: Richard Thurley, an ex- English teacher with a passion for using global film and documentary to challenge misrepresentation in news and media and Jenny Zobel who has lived in Senegal and has produced radio programmes for the BBC World Service