Two years ago, the most powerful earthquake ever to have hit Japan occurred off the coast of Tohoku. Nearly a half million buildings fully or partially collapsed; widespread power outages and nuclear accidents occurred; and tens of thousands of people were injured and killed. Less than five percent of the damage was caused by the earthquake, however. Most of the destruction was caused by the 130-foot tsunami waves that devastated the region and were felt across the world: The western United States sustained damage in coastal areas; nearly fifty square miles of ice broke away in Antarctica; Japan moved eight feet eastward; and the entire earth shifted upwards of ten inches on its axis. That single act of nature was dreadful and awe- inspiring.
My fascination with the geophysics of tsunamis brought me to one survival principle that can apply to everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, or culture: Move to higher ground. Just like natural tsunamis, the information tsunamis that awash our world generate varying magnitudes of fascination, awe, global concern, and even fear. For those of us in media literacy education (MLE), we can and should move to higher ground where pedagogy is systematic and learning-based. We can increase the methodological rigor of our research. We can seek research contexts that are broad and deep to include homes, schools, and after school and community-based organizations. Higher ground is found where teachers, professors, artists, producers, administrators, community activists, parents, and professionals intentionally cultivate critical thinkers and creative producers of a wide variety of media forms. Seeking higher ground requires acknowledging the pitfalls of media and technologies while also embracing their infinite possibilities. [read more]