Teaching the New Literacies:
Film, Television, and Computers
I called the course Media Analysis, and every student in school seemed to sign up for it. I found out later that the guidance counselors were telling students that there would be very little reading and writing in the course, “so if you are busy this semester, take Media Analysis.” (This seems to be one of the stereotypes that plagues high school media courses.) But as unprepared as I was for the hordes of students who descended on the course, the hordes were just as unprepared for my opening-day introduction of all the reading and writing they were going to do. Legend has it that students camped out in front of the school office to drop the course. Regardless of the truth of this, the numbers did dwindle and eventually Media Analysis became just another English course with a nice mix of students and an enjoyable but “real” curriculum. I used more equipment for the class, the AV guy told me, than all the other classes in the school.
West High School sits on a promontory overlooking an expressway. The outside of this large school, a light tan slate, looks new, but once inside, I found an old school with dark halls. The outer shell is merely a replacement for the old exterior. The neighborhood surrounding West High School is primarily Italian American and African American. Most of the students in this school come from middle- or lower-middle economic backgrounds.