Freedom Schools foster critical perspective on media
by Sarah Peterson
Media literacy was the focus as students and teachers from the Philadelphia Freedom Schools (PFS) celebrated the end of their summer program August 2 with a public event showcasing students’ social action and media projects.
The 3rd PFS Media Literacy Festival, held at Temple University, featured student- produced videos, research posters, musical performances, and a screening of a documentary on Barack Obama.
An estimated 1,600 K-8 students participated in summer programs at 15 different PFS sites around the city this year.
Students from the Fairhill Elementary program presented their video documenting neighborhood problems and their subsequent community beautification project. The Julia de Burgos program created a news segment entitled “Stop the Violence,” focusing on the influence of violence on TV and in movies.
And in a video from the “Say Yes to Education” program at Bryant Elementary, students analyzed media portrayals of African-Americans.
According to PFS manager Sedrick Miles, media literacy caught on as a regular component of their curriculum following PFS’s participation in a march, which was misinterpreted by news media as a request for more funding. This incident was a lesson in the influence of the media. Students are now encouraged to develop media literacy as a tool for social action.