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Media, ethics, and journalism. What works. What doesn't.

Jeffrey Dvorkin

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Media Education and Final Exams

I won't be blogging for another couple of weeks until I finish teaching and marking papers.

I've enjoyed teaching my three courses at Centennial College and the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. I hope the students got something out of it as well.

One fascinating aspect of teaching Media Theory was the amazing perspectives of these young(er) people. Many are media consumers by osmosis. They are aware of media as an environmental scan, without necessarily being wedded to one form or another.

They don't believe in appointment viewing, listening or reading. They simply inhale media.

The other interesting aspect was teaching my largest class ever - almost 300 students. I estimate about 40% of them are from China. This made for some interesting challenges in teaching Media Theory because many cultural assumptions about how media work or not, don't necessarily apply to students whose concept of media may be less about liberal democracy and more about emerging technologies.

In Toronto, there have been a number of recent articles about the large number of students from China on Canadian campuses. One in particular in MacLeans Magazine ("Too Asian?") has been cited for an anti-Chinese bias, alleging that Canadians are feeling overwhelmed by the numbers and by the Chinese drive to succeed. Canadians students (and their parents) said they feel like partying sluggards compared to their Chinese counterparts.

I won't repeat the clich├ęs here, (I'll save them for later) but in my classes, I was impressed by the Chinese students' focus, work ethic and determination to succeed, even if their written English needs work...Canadian students could learn a lot from them.

Yet there is an undeniable cultural divide. The road from Shanghai to Scarborough can be abrupt: one young Chinese woman when asked "what is the purpose of journalism" responded:

"The purpose of journalism is to re-educate the parasitic classes."

Good luck to them all.

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