Media Literacy Essay Example
As children growing up in a rapidly evolving world with a dying awareness for language, we are all susceptible to vastly different upbringings. In her piece Sponsors of Literacy, Deborah Brandt explores the idea of sponsors in our lives in the shapes of people, inanimate ideas, or material objects that educate us specifically in reading and writing. Our parents are the driving force of our youth, and the foundation they lay as sponsors in our lives dictates the course our futures take.
I am thankful to my parents for introducing me to literature at a young age because it helps me to discover what types of literacies define me. Being literate this early in life makes English class a review rather than a teaching, and provides me with the ability to find my individuality later in life. In complement to my human sponsors, music and media literacy played an instrumental role in my upbringing, where certain genres and bands define parts of my life. Music can go deeper than the ears can reach, and having parents as great sponsors as a child alongside certain types of media helped me to find my individuality and develop as a student and person in my own, unique way.
As a child I was reading before entering kindergarten which gave me a key head start on my way to elementary school. It was the billboards of classy stores, and the signs of family-owned carwashes, and the neon lights in deli windows that I would read aloud to my aunt in the back of her car on the way back home. This gets brought up frequently at family gatherings because the college-boy is always the center of discussion, but the emphasis my family individually had on my early literacy is unique, and other people do not have the opportunity to reflect on such a story because it is special to me. For example, as interested as I was in video games, my Dad made sure that I got my share of education out of them.
The earliest form of media literacy I was put in contact with was video games, and the most iconic game I played as a kid was named Bookworm. The whole idea was to make the longest words possible out of a bank of letters (in a sense like the household game Scrabble with more tiles to use). As ironic as it is that video games made me smarter, my vocabulary was to the moon by the end of fifth grade because of such exposures. Of course, some other games were probably not made for kids, but I can safely say my Dad is a sponsor of mine for steering me in the right direction rather than letting me drift off into the norm of solely being educated in school. Memories of beginning to understand the English language as a child are more precious now than ever because they are becoming increasingly rarer to experience, therefore my upbringing through media literacy and at-home education is unique to me and something I take pride in as I take my baby steps into college.
My Writing Skills
In contrary to what seems like the norm, my writing skills were developed mainly in elementary school rather than middle school, while my reading skills took flight in middle school later in life. My English class in second grade is one of my greatest memories, as we had Writing Workshop every Tuesday where we would make whatever story we wanted into a novel that was handed in for a grade. My pieces of work ranged anywhere from hitting a baseball into an old guys window to someone’s mother popping out of a hole in the ground. It seems abstract now, but I held a pocket of creativity somewhere in the back of my brain as a result of my elementary classes.
This exercise of writing early on developed my creative mind in writing, but a hole still gaped in my mind for reading. The book levels they had were too easy for me, so my course of development grew stagnant. Brandt makes the point that schooling and education in literacy has grown significantly over the course of time and argues that “[t]he rising level of schooling in the general population is also an inviting factor” (Brandt 76).
I find myself able to disagree through my first-hand experience of a lack of education in the field of English. Looking back and comparing my experiences, I feel as if my education was incomplete for the lack of new knowledge, and that I was punished for having learned these skills at home rather than in school. Nonetheless, I feel prepared for what college brings to the table, regarding new techniques for writing with my previous knowledge of reading and writing strategies, as my yearn for learning outside the classroom taught me well enough to push me through my early schooling days.
Middle School Years
Middle school holds the worst years of my life by far where I struggled socially, lost the friends I had made in elementary school, and felt extremely self-conscious about every aspect of my life. My writing skills were subpar, and I struggled in the advanced English classes they put me in because of this fallacy. To push me through this wall, my Mom drove me down the right road through each individual test and paper, class and teacher.
Assignments and homework would run through her like bags through security at an airport, and if anything were to trigger an alarm, she would make a beeline for my electronics and hide it from me until the grades were improved. She is another sponsor for helping me where I would not have survived on my own. As unfortunate as my personal life was, however, I did get my fill of reading novels and chose fiction as my top genre in my ever-so-abundant alone time. Literature was slowly wrapping its blanket over my shoulders and warming me up in hopes of a stronger future, and around the time eighth grade hit I found happiness in life.
Music became a source of pleasure for me from the 70’s to Today’s Hits, and my taste in music helped me to lift myself out of my hole and push me to my freshman year. Brandt makes the point that, “Just as the ages of radio and television accustom us to having programs brought to us by various commercial sponsors, it is useful to think about who or what underwrites occasions of literacy learning and use” (Brandt 62), and one of the underlying sponsors of my education in literacy is the music I listen to and my sense of media literacy as a whole. Of course, I had to eventually delete all my playlists because I came to realization that the songs I listened to had no correlation to each other, but the growth I experienced in media literacy and as a person gave positive vibes to an otherwise skinny little middle-schooler with no reason to smile.
High School Years
High school treated me well compared to the middle school days, and I am honestly thankful that I turned out a better person and literary student than the one I was on the way to becoming. The core group of friends I became close to the summer of transition to high school were tightly knit, and I found the enjoyment in life that I lacked in middle school. Music is a third sponsor of mine, and although it is something I can’t touch or see, I can feel it; no matter what mood I am in there are always songs that hit home and the outgoing demeanor I’ve developed is in all honesty because of music. In the words of Brandt, “Sponsors are delivery systems for the economies of literacy, the means by which these forces present themselves to […] individual learners” (63), just as I took it upon myself to fill my educational hole through other means of literature.
Two bands defined my life of listening to lyrics strung together by melodies and choruses: 2000’s rock-based Coldplay and newly formed pop/multi-instrumentalist band of brothers, AJR. They are the pillars that keep me listening to music, as their lyrics hit home and I find it hard to disagree with any of the messages they convey in their respective songs. Coldplay was the pinnacle of middle school, but AJR has a protected spot in my heart purely because of the deep, underlying messages their songs contain.
Of the growing list of 1,091 songs I have saved on my phone, the lines “Is this all that life's about? / Tryna love how you turn out / I don't love it much at all” hit me the hardest in their song Turning Out Pt. ii because of the way my life back then fit that description. I can reminisce to songs like these that they have provided my life with and see how much music has changed my demeanor, my attitude, and my outlook on life. Without media like AJR and Coldplay whose words hit home and melodies have their own place in my heart, I would not love how I’ve turned out, and I would most certainly not be studying at Steven’s Institute of Technology.
In contrary to what I used to believe about individuality, I now see that it doesn’t take someone a lifetime to extract the meaningful things and see what is special about them. My experiences with media literacy took precedence over the standard forms of literacy in educating me as a child and teenager (should they be in the forms of video games, music, etc.) and it goes to show that reading and writing are not the only contributors to one’s level of literacy throughout the entirety of their life.
Music also possesses the ability to deeply impact your life, should you choose to listen to it, and having sponsors as such alongside your own parents is instrumental in providing a strong upbringing for one to live life upon. The literary structure my skyscraper sits upon is sturdy as ever thanks to such influential sponsors, and I look down to the bottom floor occasionally to make sure I never forget my roots in educational video games and reading street signs to my aunt with a smile. In the meantime, however, AJR recommends I “take it back and take in every moment” in their song Netflix Trip, because “who are we to wonder where we’re going.”
Brandt, Deborah. 103 Perspectives on Writing and Education for Stevens Institute of
Technology. XanEdu, 2019.