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Ensino e pesquisa em mídias digitais e educação

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  • janeiro 2008
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TV AND SCHOOLING… SO WHAT?

Posted by alexandrabujokas em janeiro 6, 2008

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Televisão e Escola – uma mediação possível?(Television and School – a possible mediation?) is a book written by Maria Aparecida Baccega, professor of Media and Communication at University of São Paulo (USP).

The book’s argument departs from the most common teachers’s speech on television and discusses their point of view considering more complex approaches (like the analysis of the institutional and cultural backgrounds) using mainly the idea of “mediation”, as it is described by Jesus Martin-Barbero, a Colombian theorist of Media in Latin America.

The book is organized into four chapters. The first chapter (called “Television and Society”) locates television within a broader context, that is, from the historical, political and cultural patterns of Latin America media systems, in order to investigate how our colonized minds have understood the symbolic power which shapes the representations of ourselves on screen. The second chapter brings the discussion of the first chapter into the classroom, and suggests some core questions which should guide the teachers’s teaching of television. The author emphasizes how important it is to give back to the students the ability of being the subject of the viewing experience. The third chapter gives out some impressions about television collected from 12 lecturers of different universities, 73 teachers of Elementary and Secondary public and private schools and 13 educationalists who do not teach but work with teachers at those schools.

Finally, the fourth chapter combines the theoretical approaches with the teachers’s opinions on the some ways in which the school can deal with the problems emerged from the television power in society. The author states that the most usual opinion found among the teachers is one which requests a more severe and questionable position of the government as to what should be or should not be presented on television. According to the author, that is a dangerous opinion because there is always the risk of censorship, which was strongly applied during the dictatorship in Brazil (1964-1985).

On one hand, “Television and School” is a book which puts together core concepts about media and education (such as the coding/decoding process, the educational duty of the media, the consequences of stereotypes and spectacles etc) and the teachers’s anxieties. It is a serious book in which the author leaves behind the pure academic style and is able to communicate successfully with a wider audience.

On the other hand, the book has some gaps which, in my opinion, are typical of the Brazilian reasearch as far as the relationship between media and education. Firstly, there is no clear discrimination between comercial and public television (despite the fact that both of the models exist in Brazil) and that is a very important concept if we want to understand the political and institutional backgrounds which shape the content on the small screen. Particularly because the author mentioned the problem of censorship, she ought to have developed a better understanding of the regulation system on media.

Secondly, the methodology is not strong enough: in order to investigate how teachers understand TV, the author prompted 98 educationalists to freely write a short paragraph about television and then, drew some conclusions from the way they evaluate such complex matter as television and schooling. If one of the author’s goal were to investigate how different mediations shape the different views of the TV in the schools, them she ought to have structured a questionary, to organize the groups according to the subject taught, educational backgrounds etc.

Finally, the book ends without any practical propositions about what to do, although there are some general suggestions. For instance, she claims that “it is necessary to recognize the characteristics of the contemporary society, in which information and knowledge have a prominent place on economics, with deep changes in the production models and hence in the work conditions, as well as on politics and society: because of the media denunciation about corruption within the government, there is an emergent appeal for a more ethical behaviour which brings changes to the political field” (p. 101).

If we compare the book’s approach with the British research in a like area, we can find even more gaps. For exmple, Baccega’s book doesn’t consider the matter of pleasure brought out by the TV viewing experience (as David Buckingham points out), and neither the symbolic contest between teachers and students when discussing about the subject (with teachers defending their given social position of guardians of high culture and students challenging that position, as Stuart Hall claims).

If one of the goals of the book were to give back to the students the condition of subjects in relationship with television, then the questions of pleasure and knowledge should also have been considered. Unhappily, when a teacher finishes the reading, the remaining question is … so what?

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