Notes on Media Literacy

Note: part of The Troubling Hour: “For the past year or so, I’ve gotten in the habit of getting up at 6:15 AM, before anyone else in my house is awake. I make my extra strong coffee and sit on the couch, scrolling through my facebook and twitter feeds. Usually I’m looking for something that sparks my curiosity and inspires me to get into a critically reflective (troubling/troubled) space. I call this time the troubling hour.”

Social Media Literacies

Attention and Other 21st Century Literacies by Howard Rheingold

  • Attention
  • Participation
  • Collaboration
  • Network awareness
  • Critical consumption

Rheingold discusses focused attention and need for awareness and reflection on social media practices. Could a variation of this data diary exercise be helpful?

on different forms of paying attention

Sometimes we need to “turn on all the lights” in order to be aware of as much as possible. Sometimes we need to be vigilant to information outside our focal area, and at other times we need to block out distractions and narrow our attention to a spotlight.

I need to find the feminist pedagogy articles that I’ve read about attention and digital literacies and revisit them:

27     Teaching with Online Technologies, part two


  • Herbst, Claudia. “Masters of the House: Literacy and the Claiming of Space on the Internet” (WebVista)
  • Gordon, Eric and David Bogen. “Designing Choreographies for the ‘New Economy of Attention'” (WebVista)
  • Kellner, Douglas and Jeff Share. “Critical Media Literacy, Democracy, and the Reconstruction of Education” (WebVista)
  • Daniels, Jessie. “Rethinking Cyberfeminism(s): Race, Gender, and Embodiment” (WebVista)
  • Musto, Jennifer Lynne. “Techno-Mindfulness and Critical Pedagogic Praxis in Third Wave Feminist Classroom Spaces” (WebVista)

Types of Attention

Trouble in my Twitter Feed

While scrolling through my twitter feed this morning, I encountered, in quick succession, two tweets promoting writing projects with trouble in the title.

Troubled from the Start About peer review in academic science. Author argues that in thinking about how to reconfigure the process, we need to recognize that peer review developed in response to demands from others and that it has never been fixed, but in flux. Here troubled = a process that has been challenged and debated since its earliest forms.

Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt by Sarah Jaffe


Necessary Trouble offers readers an understanding of today’s new radicals–the troublemakers of all stripes who refuse to sit any longer on the sidelines and wait for things to improve.

On Giving Advice, One Approach

Last night, I read Ramblings of an Old Academic: Unconfident Advice for End-Times Academics by James Paul Gee. I wanted to archive it here as an example of one way to give advice. What do I think about Gee’s approach? I’m still not sure yet. I want to think about it some more. Something about it troubles me.

For now, I’ll stick to just offering up a quick summary of his essay. Here it is, in 3 parts.

Part One: Don’t ask him for advice.

Gee describes five different reasons why he’s the last person from whom you should get advice about being an academic. I especially like reason #4: he researches/writes about (too) many different things and likes now knowing (enough) more than being an Expert.

I wrote about these many different things because I always found it much easier to write about areas I did not yet know much about and much harder to say anything interesting or helpful when I knew lots about an area. So I just moved on.

I also enjoy writing about things that I don’t yet know that much about. It helps keep me interested and inspired. While I think that there are some not so healthy reasons why I eschew being an expert and resist doing work that isn’t fun and stimulating, I see my willingness to experiment with many different areas of study as one of my strengths (and as something that is necessary for a vigorous as opposed to rigorous education).

Part Two: The academic world HE inhabited no longer exists, Or maybe never did.

Gee tells a story about his lucky (privileged) experiences of becoming/being an academic. Then he describes how the academic world has dramatically changed as making money has become more important than producing knowledge.

None of this is to say that there wasn’t plenty of greed in the past, rather it is to say that we have now made greed a moral virtue and openly take pride in the fact that even in colleges and universities it is all about raising money.

Part Three: Some Advice to be taken with a massive grain of salt.

At the end of this essay, Gee offers 10 bits of advice. I especially appreciate #3:

Do not worry over much about protecting your ideas. Let them out in the world early and often so they can get tested and promiscuously mate with other people’s ideas. If someone steals one of your ideas and you were only going to have one good one anyway, then you would not have had a good career anyway—you have to have good ideas over the long haul.


About midway through the essay, Gee asks:

What do you think is worth doing for the one human life you are going to get?

I like this question. Gee poses it as the conclusion to a series of questions about whether or not you should be an academic. I see this question as bigger. There should’t be just one answer to it. It is not only about the one thing you choose to do for a job/career. And, we shouldn’t pose it to ourselves just once.

I imagine this question to be a form of guidance, that’s not advice but wisdom and an invitation to pay deep and sustained attention to what we do and why we do it.

Beside/s: Who is an Education For?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the question, What is an Education For? I was reminded by Joy Castro that another question must necessarily be placed beside it: Who is an Education For?

Is humanities education a human right? Thinking about class & social-justice implications of #highered admin decisions to reallocate funds in favor of more immediately, obviously practical majors, departments, & programs. You know the Ivies won’t be cutting the humanities. So whose kids will still get to engage with all the provocative ethical, aesthetic, & historical stuff in college? Who’ll miss out (@_JoyCastro)

My answer to the question, Who is (should) an Education (be) for? EVERYONE.

Troubling Discussions about Education

This morning, while scrolling through my twitter feed, I came across several articles lamenting the current state of education, including:

In my latest writing project, I want to include some context for my troubling (and troubled) feelings about education. These articles provide some useful information and ideas:

What is the value of a public university?:

The assumption now current, that the test of a university is its success in vaulting graduates into the upper tiers of wealth and status, obscures the fact that the United States is an enormous country, and that many of its best and brightest may prefer a modest life in Maine or South Dakota. Or in Iowa, as I find myself obliged to say from time to time. It obscures the fact that there is a vast educational culture in this country, unlike anything else in the world. It emerged from a glorious sense of the possible and explored and enhanced the possible through the spread of learning. If it seems to be failing now, that may be because we have forgotten what the university is for, why the libraries are built like cathedrals and surrounded by meadows and flowers. They are a tribute and an invitation to the young, who can and should make the world new, out of the unmapped and unbounded resource of their minds (Robinson, “Save our Public Universities).

What is a university for? A tribute to “a glorious sense of the possible” and an invitation to those “who can and should make the world new….”

How do we assess that value?
  • How many graduates have jobs?

“I’m looking at legislation right now – in fact, I just instructed my staff yesterday to go ahead and develop legislation – which would change the basic formula in how education money is given out to our universities and our community colleges,” McCrory told radio host Bill Bennett, who was education secretary under President Reagan. “It’s not based on butts in seats but on how many of those butts can get jobs” (Kiley, citing North Carolina Governor, Patrick McCrory

  • How much money do they earn?

The Obama administration, for example, proposed, much to the horror of many in academia, rating the country’s 7,000 colleges and universities not only on measures like completion rates and student loan debt, but also on earnings after graduation (Cohen).

  • How competitive are they in global marketplace?

The argument against our way of educating is that it does not produce workers who are equipped to compete in the globalized economy of the future. This has to be as blunt a statement as could be made about the urgency, currently felt in some quarters and credulously received and echoed everywhere, that we should put our young to use to promote competitive adequacy at a national level, to whose profit or benefit we are never told. There is no suggestion that the gifts young Americans might bring to the world as individuals stimulated by broad access to knowledge might have a place or value in this future, only that we should provide in place of education what would better be called training (Robinson).

  • How well do they do on tests?

No Child Left Behind went into effect for the 2002–03 academic year, which means that America’s public schools have been operating under the pressures and constrictions imposed by that law for a decade. Since the testing requirements were imposed beginning in third grade, the students arriving in your institution have been subject to the full extent of the law’s requirements. While it is true that the U.S. Department of Education is now issuing waivers on some of the provisions of the law to certain states, those states must agree to other provisions that will have as deleterious an effect on real student learning as did No Child Left Behind—we have already seen that in public schools, most notably in high schools (Strauss).

The “Uselessness” of the Humanities

What has incensed many educators is not so much the emphasis on work force development but the disdain for the humanities, particularly among Republicans. Several Republicans have portrayed a liberal arts education as an expendable, sometimes frivolous luxury that taxpayers should not be expected to pay for. The Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio, for example, has called for more welders and fewer philosophers. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida criticized anthropologists, and Mr. McCrory belittled gender studies (Cohen).

Since Plato at least, the arts have been under attack on the grounds that they have no useful role in society. They are under attack at present. We have convinced ourselves that the role of the middle ranks of our population is to be useful to the economy — more precisely, to the future economy, of which we know nothing for certain but can imagine to be as unlike the present situation as the present is unlike the order that prevailed a few decades ago (Robinson).