Isaac missed the first of four lessons in a media literacy unit. I invited him to my desk to review the first lesson. I didn’t know that Isaac was about to teach me instead.
In Media Literacy, my grade 2 class watched the video A Pep Talk from Kid President to You. We watched it a few times to observe how the words, the backgrounds, and the music impacted the meaning. In the next media literacy class, we reviewed a pep talk script I created based on the video. Students had to fill in the blanks to make their own pep talk, or they could choose to rewrite the script themselves. In the third class, we would pair off and film the pep talks using tablets. Finally, students could share the pep talks and accept feedback.
When Isaac sat with me to watch the video, he reacted with shock as soon as Robby Novak came on the screen.
“Hey,” said Issac, “He looks like me!”
In case you are not one of the 48 million viewers of “A Pep Talk from Kid President,” Robby Novak is an African American who was nine years old in the video. He went on to create more viral Kid President videos and wrote a book, all focusing on making the world more awesome.
When Isaac reacted so immediately and with such surprise to seeing someone he could identify with on the screen, I realized I needed to take diverse representation in the media more seriously. I must examine my privilege and bias when choosing media for any subject.
The American non-profit Common Sense media produced a report in 2021 called The Inclusion Imperative. The key findings include the following:
– High-quality children’s media can promote positive ethnic-racial attitudes and interactions.
-Among young people of colour, watching favourable depictions of their ethnic-racial group can have a positive impact on self-perceptions and views about their ethnic-racial group.
-Media created for even the youngest children should consider inclusiveness and representativeness.
I’m thankful for Kid President, and especially Isaac, for making me aware that I need to do more than I have been doing to ensure students experience more diverse representation in the media we use at school.