My favorite childhood movie is “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Though every bit of that movie is magical, fun, and chock full of wisdom, one of the scenes that especially replays in my mind as I think about media literacy education is the “good egg, bad egg” scene.
In this famous scene, the marvelous Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka explains to one of his parent guests, softly, “The eggdicator can tell the difference between a good egg and a bad egg. If it’s a good egg, it’s shined up and shipped out all over the world. If it’s a bad egg, down the chute.” Unfortunately for the father but fortunately for the remaining guests, his daughter winds up down the bad egg chute.
I can’t help but feel that given recent national events, symbolically speaking, our own national eggdicator appears to have malfunctioned. I can only hope that the eggdicator will at some point reverse itself back into working order.
In the meantime, I have made a New Year’s resolution to focus on the good eggs in my organization at the local level and to collaborate with them on a regular basis in order to have maximum impact on the students I serve. This means working with administrators, teaching colleagues, fellow educational specialists, and students throughout the system to support a multiplicity of programs and curriculum revolving around critical thinking and media literacy across grade levels and subject areas.
As I focus more broadly on the many character traits of an ideal school librarian, not to mention those of an ideal human being, I also resolve that moving into the New Year I will strive to consciously walk my talk by enacting those traits in my daily actions lest unwittingly, I fall down the bad egg chute myself through too much negative thinking. This is no time to quit. Our students need us more than ever to help them develop the skills necessary to help them evaluate facts from fiction. Patience, creativity, compassion, inclusiveness, enthusiasm, and shared vision will help us move ourselves and our students forward as informed, engaged citizens ready to tackle and solve problems of local, national, and global significance.
In addition, by reaching out and sharing our media literacy resources as professionals in the business of media literacy education, we will become collectively stronger and that much more of a resource to students, staff and the wider school community.
Joyce Valenza’s “Resources for a Post Truth Teaching Toolkit” is a fabulous place to start.
In Joyce’s words, “Nurturing information literate, responsible, active citizens is what librarians do. There are no guarantees of truth from any source. We teach students to be discerning consumers of information. We teach them to deconstruct media messages and construct their own messages. We teach them to interrogate their sources. As the landscape continues to shift, librarians must update our own skill sets and toolkits to guide students in navigating a growingly nuanced universe of news. We must also examine and recognize our own biases so that we are open to contrary and conflicting ideas. This is our banner to wave, our curriculum to co-teach.”
May the power of a strong, internal “educated eggdicator” be with us as we pursue this oh so worthy mission as media literacy educators!
Author: Cathy Collins
Ms. Collins has worked as a Media Specialist/Librarian for 14 years. She is currently a library media specialist at Sharon High School, where she has worked for the past four years. She began her career as a reporter who covered business, arts and education-related issues. While interviewing the headmaster at a private school, she realized that she wanted to combine her love of research and writing with a career in education. At that point, she returned to school for a Masters in Library Science and further graduate studies in educational leadership. Ms. Collins has published her writing in various journals including “Library Media Connection,” “NEA Today,” education-related blogs and websites including AASL’s “Knowledge Quest.” She is a 2012 Reynolds High School Journalism Institute Fellow and project consultant for the E-Book, “Searchlights and Sunglasses: Journalism in the Digital Age.” She received a “Teachers for Global Classrooms” fellowship from the U.S. State Dept. in 2014 and is the recipient of AASL’s Intellectual Freedom Award (2014) as well as a “Super Librarian” award bestowed by MSLA (Massachusetts School Library Association). She is a Massachusetts Library System Executive Board Member and has served on the MassCUE Board as PD Chair since 2013 along with the NEISTE Board. She earned National Board Certification as a Library/Media Teacher in 2009. In her spare time, she enjoys nature walks, reading, travel and yoga.