9.2.1. National social, political and economic context
I can distinguish the following Russian social, political and economic context since 1991 (the year of liquidation of the Soviet Union): the beginning of economic reforms and the revival of private property; the sudden division of society into the few rich the vast majority of poor people; the crisis of reforms; attempts to solve economic problems with the help of the money borrowed from foreign countries; the decay of Russian industry; unemployment; the virtual abolition of censorship’s effect on Russian media producers, giving them the first opportunity to turn to the most vital themes that were banned before.
9.2.2.Media Education context
Just like the education on the whole, media education in Russia resided under harsh ideological pressure for many years. Access to media information (films, books about movies, etc.) was denied by censorship. However media education in Russia has existed for about 80 years.
Contemporary media education can be distinctly divided into three main directions: media education of future professionals - screenwriters, directors, cameramen, actors, film-critics, etc.; - media education of future media educators in universities; media education as a part of traditional education of pupils and students in primary schools, high schools, colleges, universities, etc.
The history of Russian Association for Film & Media Education based goes back to the Russian Association for Film Education. The first attempts to instruct in media education appeared in the 1920’s but were stopped by Stalin’s repressions. And a new history of Russian Association for Film Education began the 1960s. The end of the 1950s - the beginning of the 1960s was the time of the revival of media education in primary & secondary schools, children summer centers (Moscow, Petersburg, Voronezh, Samara, Kurgan, Tver, Rostov, Taganrog, Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, etc.), the revival of film clubs, media education seminars & conferences. Today media education in Russia is not compulsory for all schools & universities. Media education can be integrated into aesthetic (literature, art, music, artistic culture, aesthetics), linguistic (Russian and foreign languages), historical & philosophical (history, philosophy, legal studies) and some other courses. Another variant: optional media education courses. Unfortunately, media education in Russia has been facing and is still facing numerous difficulties (financial, technical et al.). Many Russian schools and universities don't have the money for modern audiovisual and Internet equipment. And many teachers do not get their salary paid regularly.
Media Education is not compulsory in Russian schools (except for some secondary schools on an experimental basis). Some primary & secondary schools offer optional media education lessons to their pupils.
Russia has not of the compulsory General Curriculum in the field of media education but the Laboratory for Media Education (a section of the Russian Academy of Education, Moscow) publishes the programs and literature concerning Media and Film Education. The key themes of these media education programs are “media language”, “media audience”, “media perception”, “media category“, “media technology”, “esthetic qualities of media text”, “media representation”, “media agency”, etc.
Some Russian teachers consider the basis of media training to be practical, hands-on studies of media materials, but some teachers prefer theory to practice: analyses of the aesthetic value of films and TV programs with the audience. For example, Moscow's Cinema Lyceum and some other schools conduct group discussions of the merits and demerits of media texts from the viewpoint of their artistic conception.
Teacher education and training (pre-service and in-service)
Pre-service teacher education has existed in Russia (Pedagogical Universities in Kurgan, Tver, Voronezh, Rostov, etc.) since the 1960’s. For example, a course in media education has been offered in the Taganrog State Pedagogical Institute since 1981. Its students are trained to teach media education classes in schools. To fulfill diploma requirements some of them write reviews and assays on themes of media education. Some special media education courses (or short seminars) exist also for in-service Russian school teachers (Moscow, Kurgan and so on).
I can generalize Russian models of media education into the following types: 1) educationally-informational models (the studies of the theory and history of media & media language); 2) instructionally-ethical models (study of moral, philosophical problems on the media material); 3) developing models (social & cultural development of a creative person in aspects of perception, imagination, visual memory, interpretations, analysis, critical thinking, etc.) (Penzin, 1987; Sharikov, 1990; Usov, 1993, Spitchkin, 1999).
I can distinguish also some of the Russian media education’s principles: development of the personality (the development of media perception, aesthetic consciousness, of creative capabilities, of individual thinking, analysis, etc.) in the process of study; the connection of theory with practice; transition from training to self-education; connection of training with life; consideration of individual peculiarities of students. The main functions of media education are the following: tutorial, adaptational, developing and controlling. The tutorial function presupposes the understanding of the theories and laws, the adequate perception and analysis of a media work, capability to apply this knowledge in other situations, logical capability. Adaptational function manifests in initial stage of communication with media. The developing function implies the development of creative, analytical and other capacities of personality. Task controlling functions - the providing conditions for the analysis of media works (Penzin, 1987; Sharikov, 1990; Spitchkin, 1999; Usov, 1993, etc.).
Here are the main stages of my Media Education Model (Fedorov, 1989; Fedorov, 1999):
1) Verification module (the determination of the levels of students' media development and level of media perception);
2) Module of practical creation & perception (mastering creative abilities on the media material and the formation of the audiovisual perception of the structure of media works films (including their types and genres, ties with other arts, etc.);
3) Module of analysis (the development of abilities of analysis in the sphere of media art);
4) Module of media history (acquaintance with main events in the media art history, with the contemporary social & cultural situation);
I suppose, that there’s a point in introducing students to the media history only then, when they have already developed their media perception, the ability to analyze media works, creative approaches.
This model includes the cycle of creative practical exercises in the field of media: 1) literary-simulation (the writing of scenario's plan, text of mini-scenarios, etc.); 2) theatrical games (simulation of practical creation of media works, including magazines, films, TV-programs, etc.); 3) “pictorial-simulation” (the creation of collages, of pictures on the themes of media works and so on) (Fedorov, 1999).
Here are the main stages of the development of abilities of the analysis of media works (from Ury Usov conception):
- the consideration of contents of key episodes, the most suggesting ones; detecting the artistic qualities of a media work on the whole;
- attempt to understand the logic of the author's thinking (reconstruction of the development of main conflicts, of characters, of ideas, of audiovisual image, etc.);
- the comprehension of the author's concept;
- appraisal (by the audience) of the author's concept (Usov, 1993).