Media and Advertising Class

“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.”

E.O. Wilson (1998)

In a world saturated in news and entertainment media, where news has become almost indistinguishable from “fake news” or even “fake fake news”, media literacy has never been more vital.

Over the course of Term 1, 2021, Year 6 students at the Junior School have been in a student centred and directed inquiry into various forms and iterations of media. They have been exploring how to think critically about advertising and the news media and how to “make important choices wisely”[1] in relation to how they allow this media to affect them and shape their thinking.

Just as Coleridge’s “Ancient Mariner” found himself and his crew on an imperilled boat surrounded by “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink” so, too, Trinity boys find themselves born into and existing in a world where “We are [all] drowning in information, while starving for wisdom”[2]

On Wednesday, Year 6 boys engaged in a cohort-wide lesson focussed on how to navigate, make sense of, and make wise choices in response to a world in which advertising in ubiquitous.

Junior and Middle-Senior staff collaborated on the programme. Year 6 teacher, Mr Hoare, reached out to the Assistant Head of English of the Middle-Senior School, Mr Bosco, to discuss, plan for, and co-construct this lesson for the students.

In it, students learnt about the origins of modern advertising being grounded in the work of Sigmund Freud and his nephew Edward Bernays who is (in)famously credited with being the father of “public relations”. They learnt how advertising seeks primarily to engage audiences emotionally and encourage them to act upon their desires by exploring Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” and the AIDA (Attention/Interest/Desire/Action) that is often used both to construct and analyse advertising. Students had the opportunity to critically examine a number of recent advertisements, from the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra phone to the Christmas 2020 Coca-Cola campaign, as well as learn about how they might use some tips and tricks employed in advertising to improve their own persuasive writing and speaking skills.

“It was a pleasure and a privilege for me to work with the boys of Year 6 and their teachers and to assist them in developing their critical thinking and media literacy skills,” said Mr Bosco.

[1] (Wilson, 1998)

[2] IBID

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