A-Level Media Studies Should be Compulsory

The Daily Mail reports that state schools are ‘failing to equip’ pupils for leading universities. While private schools funnel their pupils into ‘facilitating subjects’ like Mathematics and English Literature,

Figures show that state school pupils are significantly more likely than their privately-educated counterparts to take A-level subjects which are less valued by universities, such as media studies, performance studies and dance.

Commenting on the figures, Tory MP Chris Skidmore said:

Every pupil regardless of their background must be encouraged to study the subjects that matter

Two things. First, it is very worrying that a small group of research led univesities can dictate what subjects ‘matter’. (h/t education researcher Tom Richmond).

Second, Media Studies be on the list of ‘facilitating subjects’, and yet it is not.

This weekend, we discovered that The Sun has been manufacturing stories to suit its ideological ends, while other newspapers pretend to interview people they have not. The Leveson Inquiry just exposed some of the shocking complicity between news organisations, the politicians and the police, yet it continues unabated. The impact of celebrity culture, and the unhealthy body images marketed to us by the media, are perennial concerns. Arguments about free expression or political correctness are everywhere. Some crucial democratic issues (such as the blacklisting of unionised workers) are suspiciously under-reported. We complain constantly about the priorities the broadcasters give to different stories in their daily programmes: Snow disruption, or the conflict in Mali?

Moreover, eeverything we know (or think we know) about the things that matter, is funnelled to us through the media organisations. Even social networks are filtered for us, presenting us with the news and views that they think want to hear (the better to advertise to us). It is essential that citizens are media literate enough to understand how the information we receive reaches our eyeballs. It is crucial that we are skeptical and savvy enough to question the news organisations that claim to serve us.

I took exclusively ‘facilitating subjects’ at A level, and never had the opportunity to choose Media Studies. I wish I had. Let’s make sure the next generation does not suffer from the same educational deficit. Media literacy is as essential to our democracy as basic numeracy. It should be a compulsory subject in our schools.

One thought on “A-Level Media Studies Should be Compulsory

  1. It should be part of standard English, or maybe the “citizen” award that gets occasional mention.

    But there are some things you can pick up by yourself overtime, and media awareness is one of them. Physics, Chemistry, History, Technical Design etc. are not.

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