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The best things to teach them

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My Teaching High School Journalism course at Kent State is almost over for this semester, and I’m beginning to wonder if I have taught the right things to these education majors who may end up in media classrooms.

Sure, as usual I started with law, emphasizing unprotected speech and the stuff that can REALLY get student media in trouble. They learned about Tinker, Hazelwood, Bethel and Bong Hits and the impact these cases have. From there, we worked our way through ethical issues — the “SHOULD we?” that follows the “COULD we?” After all, without 70 percent on the law and ethics test, my students don’t pass the course. That stuff matters.

They figured out the difference between journalistic writing and “English-class writing,” and we practiced coaching and the maestro concept as we thought about how to package stories for an audience using good design and graphics. Yes, I tried to teach them everything I learned while earning my undergraduate and graduate degrees in journalism education and from MANY years in the classroom.

But did I teach them to show their students the importance of caring? The need to cover stories that should be told, not just the ones that fall into their laps? Did I make sure they won’t be afraid to tell their students they have the right and even obligation to question authority? Did I make sure they know it’s not just a matter of filling the time on air or the space on a page? Did I teach them to help those in their classes stand up for their beliefs?

Will those in my course this semester become the kind of teachers who can support their student journalists and help them make a difference?

I’ll have a new group next semester. What do YOU think I should teach them? It’s only 15 weeks of class, but what MUST be part of their learning?

Candace Perkins Bowen, MJE

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