April 2015: M-Passioned Member Edna Ranck

What do you do?

For over 45 years, I have been a volunteer or paid employee in various aspects of the field of early childhood care and education (ECCE): kindergarten teacher, child care center director, adjunct university professor, state (NJ Dept. of Human Services) child care coordinator, director of public policy for a national NGO in Washington, DC, administrator of military contracts for a consulting company, and director of an ECCE accreditation project for the District of Columbia. Currently, I am co-chairing the 2015 conference for the World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP) in Washington, DC; and co-chairing the Infant-Toddler Work Group of the District of Columbia Early Childhood Education Collaborative.

Tell me about your latest work or project in media literacy.

I am continuing research on a paper presented at the Oxford Round Table in England in 2014, comparing the differences in using digital devices with young children with similar experiences that occurred when books were first printed with movable type by Johann Gutenberg in the 15th century. After that, I presented a paper at the History Seminar of the 2014 Annual Conference of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) that asked if “Alice” would ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Both papers address forms of media literacy that affect young children’s development and educational experience. I now realize that children’s appropriate participation with screen and print media marks one of the key rights of the child.

In addition, I have worked in a 10-year media literacy project now called FILMedia. A group of early educators have presented examples of film and screen media to ECCE professionals who are in classrooms and in higher education. The purpose is to help ECCE teachers and teacher educators become media literate and thus to enable similar results with their staff members and the children they teach. Awareness of media growth has occurred at NAEYC Annual Conferences since 2004, and in Norway, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Washington, DC. Our next presentation will be at the 67th World OMEP Conference in Washington, DC, July 27-August 1, 2015, at which films from various countries will be shared and discussed. .

Why is media literacy important to you?

The emphasis on print literacy is so prevalent and powerful that screen media often is ignored or denigrated by early educators. However, I believe that every person, regardless of age or educational level needs to know about and to use all types of media in appropriate ways. Thus, both children and adults in ECCE obtain a well-rounded education.

What are you most excited about in the media literacy field?

The presence of articles and programs in professional journals and key news media (Young Children, Childhood Education, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post, for example) highlights film and screen media and the use of digital devices with young children. Sharing these writings helps early educators know that presenting 21st century media to young children can make a difference in their lives. The New America Foundation’s commitment to young children’s experience with media is very exciting.

Why did you become a NAMLE member—what benefits do you see to membership and how will it support your work?

I joined NAMLE over five years ago to keep up with advances in how to teach media literacy and to let the people in my workshops and speaking engagements know that such an organization exists. I appreciate, too, the opportunity to talk with colleagues like Faith Rogow about experiences children have with both screen and print media.

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