Are Media Skills Essential Life Skills?

May 4, 2021
Written by:
Guest Author

This post is sponsored by Film School 4 Teens.

When I was in 8th grade, we were required to take 3 months of wood shop, 3 months of metal shop and 3 months of home economics (which is a strange name for a basic cooking class). At the time, I found it to be a silly waste of time because I had no intention of being a carpenter, metal worker or chef. Nevertheless, I did my best and actually learned to work a lathe, jigsaw, and soldering iron without burning the school down!

Now, many years after learning these life skills in junior high, I feel like those skills come in more handy than any other single class like History or Algebra 1. If I need to build something, it may not be pretty, but dog gone it, I can build it!

Today those skills are just as useful as ever, but a new contender has emerged for the title of “critical life skill,” and that’s a basic understanding of media creation. It doesn’t matter what path one takes in life, the ability to take assets like photos, video clips, music and graphics and stitch those together into a coherent perhaps even compelling presentation is a huge advantage.

The Homeschooler’s Need

Damon Evans, founder of Film School 4 Teens says the expectations are high on this generation to be media savvy. “I’m continually surprised by what is required of young adults trying to get a job or perform well in their job with respect to media skills. Bosses are asking workers in all professions to put together video presentations to help the company out and it’s almost just assumed they’ll know how to do that,” Evans said.

This reminded me that a friend of mine had just spent a sleepless night trying to create a highlight reel of her daughter’s volleyball exploits for a scholarship application. It was required for the application, not merely suggested. When did it become automatic that a person knows how to edit a video? I’m not sure when it happened, but that day is here.

The Homeschooler’s Solution

Film School 4 Teens is one company that is addressing this need with online courses that teach media skills to teens in fun, step by step courses, that are video based and self paced. Their course catalog includes Intro to Film-making, Advanced Film-making, YouTube 4 Teens, Photography 4 Teens and Acting 4 the Screen.

While these kinds of electives might seem perfect for that student who is already camera crazy, Mr. Evans says he believes it should be required training for all teens. “Most of us took Driver’s Education before getting behind the wheel of a car. That’s because a car is a deadly weapon. You can hurt yourself and others, and it’s critical to know about a car’s proper use and what hazards exist.”

Mr. Evans says the same is true for smartphones, but we just hand those over with no guidance or agreement about what proper use should look like. “Our courses are not only teaching HOW to use technology but also helping students become critical thinkers about the media they consume and create,” Evans said.

The statistics comparing the teen suicide rate alongside the advent of social media is a chilling trend that suggests that students are struggling to cope with these new realities, and we are not combating that with proper training and guidance.

The need to cut a board into pieces and fashion a birdhouse will never become obsolete. But old-school skills like this need to make room for the demands of a media-centric culture that will look to the next generation with great expectations. If you would like to support your aspiring filmmaker, YouTube star or photographer, then Film School 4 Teens is a clear choice for you. As a note for ALL parents, if you wish to fully prepare your student for the real world, you should consider developing their media skills right alongside all the other core subjects.

 

More about the author:

Damon Evans has been a filmmaker for over 25 years creating documentaries, TV commercials, and narrative films. His work has taken him to over 40 countries promoting third-world development. As a father of four, he began creating short films as a way to entertain his kids which led to the creation of Cabin Fever Films, a production company specializing in family-friendly films aimed at high school students. After years teaching film-making to youth he was compelled to create “Film School for Teens” in order to expose young people to the art of film-making and enable them to use the technology they already have to inspire, entertain and share their own viewpoint with the world.