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Health Media Literacy is an Essential 21st Century Skill

This is a recent post for my Healthy Teens project ( based off my 2015 book (Healthy Teens, Healthy Schools: How Media Literacy Education Can Renew Education in the United States).

Optimal health is not just the absence of illness or disease; it is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. I can’t think of anything more challenging right now, as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.  While we may be locked down temporarily, we must not lock ourselves in to the status quo of formalized schooling—including that which has historically constituted core curriculum. Disparate times call for disparate measures, so to speak.

Navigating the current pandemic requires that young people acquire an increasingly complex set of skills, such as understanding statistical data, evaluating the credibility and truthfulness of health information, analyzing the risks and benefits of a particular treatment or vaccine, and interpreting test results. Among the things the pandemic has taught us is that health is not curriculum; it is the end for which school curricula is the means. I argued this back in 2015 and again in 2019 when I called for health media literacy as essential to schooling in the 21st century.

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