April 2010 M-Passioned Member: Sister Rose Pacatte

Sister Rose PacatteWhat do you do?

I am the director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies which means I create and teach media literacy education curricula for teachers, parents within the context of culture, education and faith formation. I do this on site through an annual program, and this year we are bringing it to the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

I also write curricula for the University of Dayton’s online program, VLCFF, and facilitate online media and communication courses. I give workshops nationally and internationally on media literacy education. I am also a film and television columnist for St. Anthony Messenger and a contributor to the National Catholic Reporter on popular culture in media and spirituality.

I have co-written two books on media literacy and faith formation, which really fulfills my goals as a communicator, specifically, a Catholic communicator. The principles and pedagogy of media literacy education informs all that I write and teach.

What can you tell us about your (or the Pauline Center’s) latest work or project in media literacy?

The latest project was the completion of Our Media World: Teaching Kids K-8 about Faith and Media, with Sister Gretchen Hailer, RSHM – a media literacy educator since TEC in the 1970s (Television Awareness Training). It was published by Pauline Books & Media, Boston, MA (pauline.org). It complements MEDIA MINDFULNESS: Educating Teens about Faith and Media that we wrote for St. Mary’s Press in 2007, (smp.org).

Between the two, we offer parents, teachers, youth ministers, and clergy, a consistent and – we believe – authentic strategy for engaging in our media culturally through inquiry and faith. This strategy reflects the key principles and core concepts of media literacy education as well as social analysis and theological reflection. Now, when parents and teachers complain about the media we offer a values-based key to responding (rather than reacting) to media and culture. And the values come from the learners themselves – we do not impose values because everyone has values that guide their lives. We offer a way to articulate these values and begin to create criteria with which they can motivate the young people in their lives to become inquirers themselves to find meaning and creative purpose in life.

Recognition* of Sister Rose’s work:

  • 2010: CIMA Award for contributions to the media industry and media education
  • 2007: Technology Award from the “for pioneering leadership in the application of the media for enhancing catechesis or religious education, for major contributions to media studies in the 21st century” (National Conference for Catechetical Leadership)
  • 2007: Jesse McCanse Award for individual contribution to Media Literacy
    (National Telemedia Council)
  • 2004: Spiritus Award for writing on film, and film and scripture

*Sister Rose has also received 3 Excellence in Media/Angel Awards

What is your favorite form of media?

I love and appreciate all forms of media to some extent. Books, film, and television are at the top of my list.

Why is media literacy important to you?

Media literacy is important to me because it offers an array of tools with which to engage in culture, make meaning, and make a difference. With media literacy and, in particular, faith-based media literacy or media mindfulness, it allows me to be in the world, to love the world, and to be an agent of change for the better for people. When you start “seeing” media in their many dimensions and understanding how they function, you become aware of a greater reality, that of power and influence over and with people. Awareness changes you; it did so for me.

Why do you think media literacy should matter to others?

I don’t like to use imperatives; the shoulds, musts, have to’s, etc. Forcing ideas on people by making them feel as though they have not lived up to expectations, is not helpful. Why media literacy is an educational imperative for the 21st century is a more interesting question. Because we live in a media world; media are not outside of us; media are the world now. All reality is channeled through technological mediation. With Web 2.0, this secondary development of the web with all the social networking applications and possibilities, media are all the more prevalent. We do not live in a separate universe from media.  As Emerson said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”  Media literacy education is a key to examining our world, to integrate all forms of education and life experience. To engage in media literacy education is to become media mindful, mindful of self and the world and others. Therefore, if we care about the world and people, media literacy education makes responsible and optimum sense.

As a founding member of NAMLE, how would you say the organization has evolved?

Hard work by the board members and membership have contributed to, first of all, becoming an organization that has grown into understanding media literacy education and how it can be integrated into life and education in accessible ways. NAMLE demonstrates its growing relevance by being actively engaged in the media and education world by refining and expanding the possibilities of media literacy education, from conferences to a professional and academic journal. As an all-volunteer organization it is strengthened by members who believe in its mission and live it out in their work. I am not sure I answered the question very well because NAMLE is still growing and evolving. And to remain relevant it will always need to be on the move.

What’s been your proudest moment in your work in media literacy education?

I have had two: when I received the first copy of MEDIA MINDFULNESS in 2007 it was a great day. But receiving the first copy of OUR MEDIA WORLD this year brought a profound sense of gratitude. As I hold these two books in my hands and close to my heart, brought about through collaboration not only between two authors but two publishing houses and very dedicated editors, the fruit of the dedication of so many people who contributed to the “birth” of these books, from Sister Elizabeth Thoman, who first introduced me to media literacy, my instructors at the Institute of Education at the University of London, and the entire media literacy community, and my own religious community of the Daughters of St. Paul, I felt- and still feel-  that if this was the last thing I could do in my life, it would be enough.

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