Tales of the classroom: on making media in school

Bragg, Sara (2011). Tales of the classroom: on making media in school. Media Education Research Journal, 1(2)

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This article considers practical production or media-making within schools, which is both a long-established aspect of media education and one that presents significant dilemmas and difficulties. The article suggests that some familiar pedagogical approaches to practical work embed ‘stories’ about the media, audiences and teachers that are particularly gratifying for educators; nonetheless, they also understand and value knowledge, agency and language in ways that may be ultimately unhelpful to teaching and learning. Schematically distinguishing between ‘modernist’ and ‘postmodern’ conceptualizations, the article argues that practices permeated by the former tend to exaggerate the power of the media and the role of the teacher’s knowledge whilst undervaluing classroom relationships; that they inform hostile responses to student productions based on unfamiliar popular cultural forms; and risk penalizing students who struggle with traditional academic formats, whatever their creative talents. Post-modern perspectives, by contrast, offer renewed insights into the processes involved in making media and how students can engage critically with their own knowledge and the meanings they create, whilst they entail at most adjustments to current practice rather than radically different approaches. The article also argues for ‘reading through’ cultural theory in conducting and analyzing educational research, both to do justice to the complexity of classroom cultures and pedagogies, and to contribute to theoretical developments.

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