MWB Innovation in Education Series – Media Literacy at Operation Shoestring
Media literacy makes for smart kids at Operation Shoestring
There‚Äôs no doubt that Star Pool‚Äôs children are growing more media savvy by the day. And not just the two grade school-age boys she has at home who already do homework on the computer and have assignments requiring a good deal of Internet-based research.
As Assistant Coordinator of Project Rise at Operation Shoestring, Pool has many other bright students that she helps guide in the ways of interactive media.
‚ÄúIn today‚Äôs society, everything is basically focused on media. Homework, watching TV, everything,‚Äù Pool says, adding that when kids don‚Äôt know their way around the increasingly mesmerizing media landscape, ‚Äúit‚Äôs kind of numbing. I just think it numbs some of their senses.‚Äù
Yes, the vast array of media technology now available can seem mind-boggling, to say the least. And it appears that a large number of educators across the country would agree.
In fact, one recent survey by the Pew Charitable Trusts of secondary-school teachers found that 87% feel that ‚Äúthese technologies are creating an ‚Äòeasily distracted generation with short attention spans‚Äô and 64% say today‚Äôs digital technologies ‚Äòdo more to distract students than to help them academically.‚Äô‚Äù
Okay, aside from being a major distraction for a whole generation, media does have its good side. Media literacy is increasingly important because technology offers kids such a wide world of benefits. As Pool notes, ‚ÄúIt helps with personal life. It helps with finance. It helps with reading comprehension. It helps with math skills.‚Äù In short, Pool says, ‚ÄúIt helps with a lot of the basic tools that they need to become successful children, teens to adults.‚Äù
Pool and other teachers in Operation Shoestring‚Äôs afterschool and summer programs for younger students aim to ‚Äúenhance some of the things that they already know‚Äù and to ‚Äúhelp them get the basics, the foundation, the skills that they need‚Ä¶ once they leave elementary.‚Äù
In addition to providing mentorship, academic enrichment, and media literacy training to kids K-12, the non-profit organization strives to be a resource for the parents of children served, too. ‚ÄúWe inform parents on what they need as well, through different workshops that we have,‚Äù notes Pool. Becoming tech-savvy themselves ‚Äúallows parents to go on and look at the children‚Äôs grades, to go on and see what the homework assignments are‚Äù and just stay better in tune with what‚Äôs going on in their kids‚Äô lives.
And, at the end of the day, ensuring media literacy for Jackson-area youth fits surprisingly well into the overall mission of an organization aimed at teaching children and inspiring families. Media skills training, as Pool puts it, accomplishes both.
‚ÄúWe put the child at the center of everything that we do. And once the child has gotten it, we know that they‚Äôre making it better for the families, which then extends out into the community.‚Äù And that, says Pool, ‚Äúhelps everyone rise.‚Äù