If it’s August, it must be time to give the education system a good kicking


Media Studies is under the cosh again, as the Tories tout plans to revamp the education system, again, to “reward” schools who teach “harder” subjects like Physics and Maths.

Why not go the whole hog and go back to teaching Latin and Ancient Greek? Those are pretty hard. Amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant. Oh, I remember, those subjects are mostly irrelevant in our modern, media-saturated, technological age. But, I hear you argue, studying the Classics is a great way of developing wider transferrable skills: writing skills, speaking skills, how to construct an argument, how to research, and so on. Absolutely true, I respond, but that’s exactly the kind of transferrable life skill you get from a “soft” ‘A’ level like, oh, I don’t know, English, or Business Studies, Government and Politics, Law, Critical Thinking, Art History, or indeed Media or Film Studies.

But Media studies is an easy target, especially (big surprise) for the, you know, the media. If numbers could talk, I bet they’d have a thing or two to say about maths. You know what I’m talking about.

We live in a world dominated by media: mobile telephony, television, radio, internet, even print. Oh, but we’re not supposed to study it. Rupert Murdoch’s company owns television networks in the USA, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, and New Zealand. They own 17.5% of ITV. They own MySpace. They own movie studios, and – oh look – a web site called Rottentomatoes which purports to be a film review site. They own powerful and influential newspapers in the USA, Europe, Australia. Newspapers like The Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Sun. They own HarperCollins book publishers, and the Times Literary Supplement which – oh look – reviews books.

But we’re not allowed to study the impact and effects of all that ownership and influence, because we’re a “soft” subject.

Newspapers all over the world are being crushed by new media. But we’re not supposed to study that.

Peter Mandelson sits down for dinner with David Geffen and starts demanding that internet service providers be given powers to cut off the accounts of persistent downloaders. Yes, that’s right, this is the same message that Big Media are feeding governments all over the world – France, Germany, Canada, Australia, USA, UK: the infamous three strikes rule that would see your entire life cut off just because you’re accused of illegal downloading. No trial, no due process, just cut off: all your social life, your banking, your photos, your access to news about the world.

No sense that American David Geffen had undue influence over a non-elected representative of the British government? Where’s the democracy? Where are the people? Lord Mandelson sits down with Geffen, and that’s the new government policy? I don’t remember voting for that.

But we’re not supposed to study all that, because we’re a soft subject.

One thought on “If it’s August, it must be time to give the education system a good kicking

  1. Josh P

    powerful stuff Dr. I have to say that I don’t think, to an extent, that knowledge is worth attaining if it cannot be applied to real life situations. Your Media Studies lessons allow me to debate unpretentiously about ‘real life’ and actual pressing matters. I had a great time taking part in the ‘Youth-Speaks’ debate competition, and I wouldn’t have been able to express myself in the way I did, on the subject matter I chose (flat-earth news and ignorance) if I had chosen accounting or further maths to study instead of Media Studies.
    Results on Thursday!

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