Teaching Media Literacy through Critical Thinking with “The Help”

from the USAToday Tip Jar

Two key concepts in media literacy are: that all media construct versions of reality and that media is interpreted through individual lenses. These concepts are at the core of the recent controversy over the new movie “The Help”. To be accurate, the controversy began with the release of the book but has been brought to the forefront with the release of the book.  Critics claim the story is so “ahistoric” that is “inaccurate”.

USA Today’s Maria Puente explores this controversy in her article ‘The Help’ gets heat for ‘inaccurate’ portrayal of history.The article and discussion around the article is an ideal icebreaker to introduce the Civil Rights Movement. Begin by distributing copies of Puente’s article to the class. After the students have read the article use a collaborative learning activity such as Pairs to partner students to discuss questions such as:

  1. What are the concerns about the film/story?
  2. Who is voicing those concerns?
  3. Do you think that individual perspective affects who is voicing these concerns?
  4. Do you think those concerns are being voiced because of a fear that history is being rewritten?


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