Teaching Media in Primary Schools – ed. Cary Bazalgette

All Primary teachers, English managers, advisors and consultants should read this book.  Written in short, accessible chapters, it presents clearly the vital role of media studies in 21st century education.  Rooted in best practice, a range of practitioner researchers, advisors and experienced media teachers present a compelling case for media education not just as an ‘add on’ to current literacy teaching, but as an integral part of language and communication in its own right.

It is divided in to three sections – cultural, critical and creative learning. Each chapter opening states its argument as a chapter objective and concludes with Points for Practice, a range of practical ideas to try out in the classroom.  The first section analyses children’s experiences in TV talk, social networking and film, all of which are part of everyday life for most pre-schoolers and young children.  The reader is challenged to consider how, if this culture is allowed into the classroom, skills in reading image and film can be extended once formal education commences.

Section two considers the development of critical learning: analytical skills across a range of media.  Very young children are able to understand plot, infer, deduce and comprehend layers of meaning in media text and this should be developed and extended in the classroom.  The final section explores the creative potential of film for children, describing some successful projects which should inspire readers to try out the ideas in their own contexts.

The book also comments realistically on practical barriers– the blocking of social networking sites, film downloads and image banks by Local Authorities; software availability; cost implications and over-reaction to child protection. However, these barriers should not become excuses to avoid the debate. At the very least, readers should be prompted to start a dialogue about the role of media in Primary education. At best, the moral imperative of the book’s debate should prompt action.

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