Friday, January 12, 2007

NUS don slams new media

This is an excerpt from a news article in the nation-building newspapers.

New media: Why young can't tell good from bad
Critical thinking skills lag behind speed of tech changes: NUS don
By Ken Kwek

When young Singaporeans surf the internet, many are unable to discern the good from the bad and ugly, said a media lecturer.

Often they are also ill prepared to defend what they post on the Internet, said Miss Lim Sun Sun, an assistant professor at the NUS.

This inability to process and analyse the content of new media such as the Internet can be traced to one factor - their critical thinking skills.

While many know how to use the Internet, many have not learnt how to think critically of the flood of information they encounter daily on the worldwide web.

The job of improving media literacy, she felt, should be a focus of the Government, the media and schools.

A member of the audience asked why there was a particular need for such instruction now, more than in the past. Prof Lim's reply: because there is a "growing atrophy" in students' critical thinking skills, a situation which suggests media literacy lags behind development of new media technology.

I don't know what they are teaching students at NUS, but this Ms Lim does not sound like a lecturer who knows how to teach.

1st of all, media literacy is always going to play catch up with media technology. This was the case 1000 yrs ago and this is the case today. The media puts something out, people consume it. That is the nature of the media, you become more or less literate as a result of media, not the reverse. Therefore I think it is more accurate to say that media literacy is dependent on the state of the media. This is especially so when the media in Sg is a tighly controlled and regulated one. However Ms Lim does not seem too concerned about this.

2ndly Ms Lim says that many "young sporeans are not able to tell good from bad" when it comes to the internet. I wonder how she makes this conclusion. Becos the same could be said for older sporeans too who can't tell the good from bad, the truth from the half-truths in traditional media. Are the old anymore media literate than the young? Here Ms Lim seems to imply traditional media is naturally credible and good by default - a standard PAP gahment view...

Then the question from the member of the audience to Ms Lim is a very good one: why all of a sudden this concern with critical thinking skills now? Why not in the past? Ms Lim's 1-line answer "because there is growing atrophy in critical thinking skills" sounds really lame to me & doesn't say anything. She does not attempt to justify herself neither does she explore the underlying reasons behind this atrophy thing that she invented. Being an educator shouldn't she be asking these questions? So if we take a step back and look at what she says... do we see any signs of critical thinking skills in all she said? Where is the analysis and defending of her own statements? I dun think she really understands what critical thinking skills is about.

Well maybe Ken Kwek the reporter was not given enough space to write a fuller article that gives a more complete picture of what Ms Lim said. But hey that would mean this traditional media is far from 'good' and credible right? Hahahaha!

The overall impression i get is a familiar one, that once again some people are trying to paint the new media as a threat. That instead of letting you think and decide for yourselves what is good and bad, they feel the need to dictate and decide what is good for you. Keep going on like this how not to atrophy critical thinking skills.

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