Mutt Media | Daily Bone 8.22.09 Interesting article on the "Debate" over Media Studies Programs. Did you know there was one?

Article Reprint discusses Media Studies in Education
Article Reprint discusses Media Studies in Education

The following is an article I came across that I found of interest.

This article discusses an ongoing debate as to the validity of Media Studies in University environments. As someone who is currently immersed in a course of Media Studies at the New School (NYC), I can assure you that my classes are not only engaging, but deal in the most current, relevant and revolutionary of subject matter and instruction. My curriculum is focused on balancing the history and evolution of Media and it’s various theorists and theories as well as a great infusion of the most cutting edge advances in the industries that have grown from those.

Of course, teaching institutions vary greatly but my program has been around a long while and the courses are taught by learned professionals in their fields.

Enjoy and as always, your comments are welcome! Thanks to Social Media Mind on Twitter for leading me to this….

In defence of media studies

How do we judge if a subject is easy or difficult? Condemnation of media studies reflects a fundamental confusion about its aims

David Buckingham
Saturday August 22 2009

It’s unfortunate for teachers and students that the exam results always come out in the midsummer silly season. It seems to guarantee a flurry of tiresome political rhetoric, in which their hard work, and the realities of contemporary education, are entirely ignored.

This summer’s great education debate has seen frequent mention of media studies ? a subject that is now a byword for dumbing down. Media studies, we are told, is one of those soft options now being offered to the deluded students of our state schools; while the privately educated elite are being stretched by real, hard subjects like physics and maths. Admissions tutors at a few elite universities apparently look down on such soft options. And shadow education secretary Michael Gove has even proposed that schools be allocated more points in the league tables for hard subjects than easy ones.

If anything is a symptom of dumbing down, it is the willingness of politicians and pundits to pronounce on things they know nothing about. But why would they bother to find out? It is so much more convenient for them to represent media studies as just a matter of ignorant chavs sitting around watching telly.

Much of the discussion of media studies reflects a fundamental confusion about its aims. On the one hand, it is chided for being not vocational enough: after all, media studies GCSE isn’t going to get you a job in the BBC. Yet on the other, it is condemned for not being academic enough: it is, quite hilariously, a Mickey Mouse subject.

But how might these arguments apply to other subjects? Do we judge the value of English degrees on whether they equip students to become professional literary critics? In fact, the employment rate of media studies graduates is higher than in most other humanities and social science subjects; and most of them are getting jobs in media-related professions, however precarious they may be.

The charge of being insufficiently academic is one that media studies students ? who routinely struggle with the complexities of social and cultural theory ? would find quite ridiculous. The academic study of the media dates back more than 80 years, and there is a vast body of scholarship on the sociological, psychological, cultural and economic dimensions of the media.

Indeed, there are many academics researching and teaching about the media at Oxford and Cambridge, and at most leading “old” universities. Meanwhile, competition for places on media studies degrees is intense, with required grades often much higher than for other subjects.

How do we judge whether a subject is easy or difficult? Is art difficult? For some it is as easy as breathing, but for others it is something they will always struggle to master. For some, maths must seem like a soft option, while for others it will forever remain a closed book.

The suspicion of media studies is very similar to that which greeted sociology in the 1960s, or English literature in the 1920s. Then, the suggestion that young people might study books in their native language rather than just in ancient Greek and Latin was little short of scandalous.

Now, the idea that young people might study the media of modern communication seems equally scandalous. Newspapers have been around for more than 250 years, the cinema for more than 100 and television for more than 60. Perish the thought that schools should recognise, and interrogate, their existence.

This suspicion is fuelled by some who work in the media, but who seem to regard what they do as somehow unworthy of serious critical attention. Or perhaps they find such attention threatening?

By all means let’s have a serious debate about how we teach media studies, and what it can achieve. But that debate needs to be based on more than ignorance and narrow-minded prejudices about modern culture. Copyright (c) Guardian News and Media Limited. 2009
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