Adolescence is a critical time because at this stage children build their sense of identity, belonging and attachment. However, children are not just learners caught up in a pre-existing knowledge system. They are also active contributors and participants who form their own sense of society. By interacting with others in social systems, children can learn a lot about themselves and the world by actively participating in the organisation and establishment of their unique perspectives.
An important role played in the formation of this coherent identity is through media literacy and advocacy, which means "the ability to access, analyse, evaluate and communicate messages in a wide variety of forms". Media literacy emphasises the analysis and creation of media.
One of the ways of creating media is through, film-making. It is a process of "telling stories". The stories we tell about our lives are the basis of our sense of self. This view is echoed by diverse but complementary sources. Attachment theory tells us of the healing possibility of telling coherent stories, even when the stories are of grief. Resilience studies show how some people face adversity by finding productive ways to make sense of their stories.
The challenge of any film-making project helps teenagers find the most enabling and coherent story to meet their specific developmental needs. Developmentally, it makes sense for adolescents to find a peer group that works as a fitting conduit for change. This process brings makes one aware of different possibilities and new ways of interpreting stories. Our scripts reveal and determine the way we see ourselves and the way we live our lives. The direction, editing and production, shows how we understand our past and how we use this to make sense of present and future. Our creation is our identity.
The process of analysing media can be done through the education of life skills. The term “life skills” according to UNICEF refers to a large group of psycho-social and interpersonal skills that can help individuals make informed decisions, communicate effectively, and develop coping and self-management skills that may help them lead a healthy and productive life.Life skills may be directed toward personal actions and actions toward others, as well as actions to change the surrounding environment to make it conduc- ive to health and daily living.
Media literacy with life-skill education is beginning to be recognised as one dimension of the essential competencies required for healthy development of children in an information age. Education in the 21st century must emphasise on the development of students’ life skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. Schools that use film-making to encourage young minds, “discover” media literacy to be an effective instructional tool that stimulates students’ learning.
The author is a senior consultant psychiatrist with Moolchand Medcity and Vimhans, New Delhi. Send him an email at email@example.com, marked ‘Dr Nagpal’