"Kids ... should make more media themselves. It can be another means of expressing themselves, and in the long run maybe changing what is problematic about media."
To research her book, Growing up With Television, JoEllen Fisherkeller spent two years investigating the television-viewing habits of kids at a middle school in New York City. She found, "As they were watching programs they were encountering some of the same challenges of gender, race, and class that they had in their own lives."
Fisherkeller, who received her PhD. in Education at The University of California at Berkley, has a uniquely positive spin on the effects of media on the young. "They are aware of television as being a construction. They have many criticisms of media, but they also enjoy it." As a result, Fisherkeller is involved in implementing media education programs in both schools and community organizations because "Kids, even if they are savvy viewers, don't know enough. In fact I think they should make more media themselves. It can be another means of expressing themselves, and in the long run maybe changing what is problematic about media." Currently, Fisherkeller is working on a three-year federal grant from the Department of Education/Arts in Education to integrate media analysis and production into a local high school's curriculum.
This philosophy of practical involvement extends to her students at NYU. "Most of my courses do involve students engaging in some kind of field work. Many assignments are geared this way - that they go out there and talk with people, rather than make assumptions about how things work." And the students, in turn, report back. "I always learn from my students. In an ideal situation I learn right along with them."
written by Cecilia Malm