Best of the Week 2020-2021: Teaching to the Future
FILM STUDENTS REFLECT ON REPRESENTATION & DIVERSITY IN MEDIA
Students in Maya Wanner's Introduction to Visual Storytelling class have gone in-depth in learning how visual media shapes our thoughts, actions, and our relationships and emotions. While in the process of forming a deeper understanding for how media shapes our identity, students have taken the time to learn about "The Central Park Five," now the "Exonerated Five," case and how the misuse of media in 1989 led to the wrongful conviction of five young men of color.
"An important part of understanding visual media and its effects on our identities, thinking, etc. is examining how we represent and treat various identities in the media we consume and create," says Ms. Wanner. "The goal of presenting this case to my students was to allow them to consume this media as if it was 1989 and to understand how they might think of the case with no hindsight or context."
From there, students watched the Netflix series, "When They See Us," which uncovers the hidden parts of the investigation, trial, and imprisonment of this case that the public didn't see for years. While watching the series, students kept a journal to document their emotional responses and how their perspectives shifted as they learned more about the case. Afterward, students participated in a seminar and discussed the importance of diverse voices in media, the crucial impact they have in uncovering the truth, how this case still remains relevant in today's society, and how we as media consumers can fight social and systemic racism and oppression and be more knowledgeable about how media can change our socio-political perspectives.
"Looking at how media affects how we think and act in the world is of vital importance," says Ms. Wanner. "Our students are growing up more immersed and overwhelmed with visual media than ever before. Being able to navigate and understand media's potential to tell true stories, but also deceive us will help them navigate the world as it is presented to them through screens."