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March 1, 1997
Vol. 54
No. 6


Educating Students in a Media-Saturated Culture

Educating Students in a Media-Saturated Culture by John Davies. Lancaster, Pa.: Technomic Publishing, 1996.
Educators have long viewed media literacy as an "add-on." Once we cover the regular curriculum, and if there is time and money left, we may add a unit or two on how media (usually television) influences us.
John Davies builds a case for using popular music, print, movies, music videos, and both commercial and educational television in schools, citing research studies on the ways all media affect children cognitively and emotionally. Although he feels media studies can be rigorous enough to stand alone, Davies suggests ways to integrate such studies into the regular curriculum. Moreover, he suggests that the media activities he outlines will not drain a school's resources because "the mass media provide a ready-made laboratory for study."
Although the pace of reading is relatively slow, the research cited is a rich resource for anyone involved in media studies. Particularly fascinating and sometimes surprising are the effects of the media upon the social development of children and young people. The extent to which the electronic media in particular has changed the way children perceive reality—a topic educators often discuss based on their own observations—is well documented here.
This book will prod those educators who have not considered integrating media studies into their curriculum to do so. And for those who already hold assumptions, for example, that schools are portrayed inaccurately in the media, this book provides confirming examples.
Published by Technomic Publishing, P.O. Box 3535, 851 New Holland Ave., Lancaster, PA 17604. Price: $35.
—Reviewed by Andrew Dunn, Northern Highlands Regional High School, Allendale, New Jersey.

In Forsaken Hands

In Forsaken Hands: How Theory Empowers Literacy Learners by La Vergne Rosow. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 1995.
Where literacy education is concerned, "we know better, but have clearly failed," La Vergne Rosow laments. But this is not a pessimistic book. Rosow's obvious passion for creating highly stimulating environments where people of all ages can become literate is evident throughout. She muses optimistically about the benefit of placing children in environments "loaded with wonderful books and staffed by people who like to talk about them," and she suggests ways of creating such places. Her examination of case studies—some of which she presents here—has helped her determine which factors consistently hinder adults, teens, and children from learning to read and which ones make them more literate. The case studies have also convinced Rosow that "literacy empowerment is not bred in a vacuum." We must all work diligently to serve our students based on proven theories. Yet we must also maintain an "intellectual balance of power" where every teacher is "free to engage the best each has to offer."
Literacy advocates, be they tutors, teachers, student teachers, or parents, will find this book an invaluable resource. Rosow says she plans to donate 10 percent of her net profits to the Huntington Beach Literacy Volunteers of America or a similar organization.
Published by Heinemann, 361 Hanover St., Portsmouth, NH 03801-3912. Price: $24.95.
—Reviewed by Peggy Moore, Principal, James I. Gibson Elementary School, Henderson, Nevada.

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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