Media Literacy Empowers

Two Grazing Sheep

Two Grazing Sheep by Patty A. Baker

Around the world, stories and customs fade alongside livelihoods, as each generation assimilates deeper into contemporary culture. The student-produced short film “Sheep Camp” opens with a familiar summer scene. A young boy on a couch, armed with a remote control, flips through television channels like a recumbent zombie. After a brief telephone conversation with his grandfather, the boy turns off the TV and heads outside, armed with drawing paper and crayons. As a sheep farm begins to unfold across the page, the drawings appear all around the boy intently coloring away in the middle of a verdant field. Ultimately, the boy lays down his remote control for the summer and joins his grandpa on a real sheep farm.

Outta Your Backpack Media proves that media literacy stimulates creative expression. The Arizona-based collective provides free filmmaking resources and workshops for indigenous youth. According to the OYBM website, “We believe that media literacy provides an empowering and active perspective for young people that can enable us to creatively address and overcome some of the most critical issues affecting us.” Examples include environmental protection, bullying, and preserving cultural character.

As an educator, I know I have a responsibility to nurture critical thought, so I have been considering the following questions: What if kids controlled the means of media production? How can a child define his or her cultural identity beyond myopic brand loyalty? The innovative kids at Outta Your Backpack Media have the creative courage to answer these questions.

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