Social Media Training 101: if you're going to post a new blog, don't do it Friday.  Tuesday or Wednesday are sweet spots, as folks are more awake than Monday, have a bit more free time to read and learn, but by Thursday afternoon and all-day Friday, don't even bother trying to attract anyone's attention.  Most people are distracted and counting down the hours until the weekend.

Here I am writing to you on a Tuesday, but I so desperately wanted to throw that rule out when I returned from Toronto last week and started writing this blog Friday: I wanted to share this recent workshop with you as soon as I could! 

York Prof of Cinema, Art Curator and all-around Toronto powerhouse Janine Marchessault asked us to deliver a customized workshop to a class of Grade 11 & 12 Photography students at John Polanyi Collegiate in the Lawrence Heights neighbourhood of Toronto.  The idea was teach the students how to create their own Digital Stories, using a recent talk they participated in with famed hip hop music video director Director X as a starting point.  In the talk, X was generous to share his history, experience and ideas for aspiring artists and music video directors with the students.  One student then asked him about the women he chooses for his videos, asking if he thinks the fact he only chooses one "type" of woman for his videos as problematic.  He replied with a "if they want to dress and dance like that, I won't stand in their way" response, accepting no responsibility for his role as a creator in perpetuating this very narrow and typical objectification of women.

I was asked to use this response as a starting point of discussion with the students, introducing Media Literacy through themes of Patriarchy, Feminism & Misogyny, as evidenced in many hip hop music videos.    I asked my friend and Toronto music video director Sammy Rawal to join me, providing context through his experience, plus his insight into the responsibility he feels as a creator of media.

We then asked the students to reflect on these themes, and formulate their opinion, thoughts and message through the creation of a Digital Story.  And what a job they did!  I literally had tears in my eyes during our group screening at the end of the workshop.  The students were so creative, thoughtful, intelligent and powerful in their messages.  Stories of harassment in their schools, homes, and in gym class.  Messages of power and resistance to these same treatments, with a resolve to overcome these unfair prejudices so that they can act and dream to become the adults they want to be. 

Now that we are back from Toronto, we are preparing for our upcoming trip to Korea and Japan, where we will be researching their own approach to Media Education, while delivering 2 workshops in Osaka to Japanese Association for Language Teaching professors.  We might even get a chance to take a bit of a vacation--can you imagine?

Stay tuned for news from the tour, plus many exciting workshops, contracts, & Spring Break camps to be announced!  We are booking up quickly for Spring 2017, but still have a few spots open if you are interested in booking a workshop for your staff, students, organization or community center. Have a great rest of the year, and we wish you and your students a wonderful end-of-semester!