At the end of the day, media literacy urges us not just to question everything and thereby throw all facts into doubt, but to engage responsibly with the media we consume, questioning its perspectives and its intrinsic authority while weighing its messages against our own real, lived experiences.
Media fluency is generally understood as encompassing two skill sets. The first, which we might call media comprehension, enables media consumers to decode, analyze, and break down mediated messages into their constituent parts. The other, known as media production, involves successfully encoding some kind of meaning into a mediated message. Both are needed for successful participation in today’s media-rich landscape.
Fast forward a half a millennium or so, and we are still teaching school children how to decode Shakespeare’s plays. And while I take no issue with that, I do take umbrage with the amount of attention being paid to decoding 16th century language versus the lack of attention being given, in this country at least, to the decoding of 21st century language. One skill does not necessarily lead to the other, and that’s the misconception our educational institutions have been laboring under for quite some time.