Manatees and Media Literacy

Last week I attended the URI Summer Institute in Digital Literacy. The experience overall was incredible. With this post I am going to focus on just one activity we did. I hope to write a few posts about the institute following this. On Thursday, the event organizers spread a diverse array of photographs around on several tables and invited participants to find a picture that captured their approach to digital literacy leadership. As part of the activity everyone was encouraged to share their selected work with one another.

After glancing at the options on the first table I approached, I quickly found and claimed my photograph. The photo that I immediately gravitated towards and chose was of a manatee and two divers. I selected this picture mainly because the manatee. When I was in elementary school I became obsessed with this animal. I constantly read books and drew pictures about this fascinating creature. I found out that manatees were endangered and for the first time, I turned my passion into a driven purpose… I not only wanted to learn about manatees, but I also wanted to help them. I adopted a manatee by saving up my allowance and donating it to the Save a Manatee Foundation. For the school science fair I made a poster informing people about the fragile species and advocated for others to get involved. Tying this to the activity prompt, like the manatee, I have found that media literacy is a topic that I am not only passionate about, but something that I have decided to act upon. Going beyond this initial comparison I had, I started examining the photograph more thoroughly and made more connections to my beliefs and leadership approaches. Metaphorically speaking, the manatee reminds me of education. It is large and daunting to many people but it in itself is well intentioned. It is being hurt by those who are not going deep enough to recognize its full existence. The manatee is endangered by individuals who zoom by on the surface and scar it with their motor boats as they rush by with their focus on something ahead. I identify with one of the divers in the photograph because the diver aims to get close to the manatee and look at it from another perspective. Rather than skimming over top of it in a boat, the diver dares to go deep and look at it from below. The diver is also willing to interact with the manatee and learn it’s ways in a gentle nature to figure out how to help it. I honestly do not know exactly what the one diver is holding, I’ve been debating between a camera or a scrub brush, but regardless, I think the tool the diver is holding resembles my skill set revolving around digital literacies that I bring forth to education. Lastly, I think the second diver in the photo is worth noting because I think it is important to recognize that this work cannot be done alone. With my continued efforts to lead digital/media literacy integration in education I acknowledge the importance of collaboration, care and curiosity. All of which I believe are portrayed in the photo I selected.

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