Using Media Education to Change the Behaviour of School Children for Environmental Conservation

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Fr. A. Ignacy, Dr. D. Sunitha


Researchers have become increasingly mindful that pro-environment behavior is influenced by many factors. However, Mass media plays a pivotal role as a source of information, in disseminating knowledge and concern about environmental problems. Everybody on the planet depends on a common biological system and endeavors the assets for a sound existence (Thousand years Development Goal, 2010). But for the quickest advancement of selfish humans, the environment has been horrendously mismanaged and thoroughly exploited. By destructing the environment we have pushed ourselves to a highly dangerous situation that calls for immediate action and reconciliation with nature. The present generation, the children in particular need to be informed and be educated on this grave issue. The Mass Media and New Media in particular have the huge potentiality to reach out and engage the children. According to Harcourt and Conroy we need to agree with the fundamental principles of the rights of the children which position children as legitimate decision-makers about matters that affect their lives even though they are under the protection and support of adults (United Nations Children’s Fund, 2004). Therefore this paper reports a case study on a media education-based environmental studies course, with school children, which sought to engage students in exploring and reflecting on a wide range of locally significant environmental issues. A selected number of documentary films on the environment and wetlands of River Tamirabarani in Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu, South India were shown to them during the course. While films were the focus of the course, the post-film reflective discussion was an integral part in order to help students identify and clarify their thoughts and ideas. Evaluation of this course includes a pre and post-survey and post-teaching interview with the children. The results revealed that media education and repeated exposure of students to video documentaries on the environment combined with a participatory visual method on the course content are beneficial to developing students’ orientation and critical thinking abilities which collectively leads to a more pro-environmental disposition and positive behavioural changes to conserve nature. In this article, we provide a reflective account of the research process and discuss lessons learned from our experiences of using documentaries for conscientizing and Artwork and Photography (Artwork included drawing, mat painting (Pathamadai mat work is very famous in this region)) and mime as data generation methods in this research with children. This article also provides the literature on the use of participatory visual methods as data generation strategies with children highlighting some admonitions and offering insight into how challenges could be evaded.

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