Case #3: StreetGriot Media Education for Israel/Palestine
By Eleanor Milburn

StreetGriot Media Education offers courses and workshops that create intercultural learning environments. They help students with academic and applied learning, emotional and social development, and media literacy. Topics addressed so far in the courses have included gender identity, immigration, intergroup conflict, Islamophobia, and Anti-Semitism. These courses have won various educational awards.

The curriculum teaches:
1) Media competency: Units include interview techniques, camera functions and use, microphone use, editing with the software Adobe Premiere, as well as use of MS Word and Powerpoint

2) Socio-emotional skills: Including team work and collaboration, and long-term engagement with topics and goals of importance to the students

3) Language skills: Students need to identify and select information for the film creation and build arguments. They work collaboratively with other students to communicate and exchange ideas – often about political or touchy subjects.

This is a structured program: Schools invite StreetGriot to come create workshops and classes for their students. They bring their mobile media lab that includes digital cameras, microphones, tripods, and editing software, and conduct workshops and classes tailored to each setting. There are curricula, background materials, and worksheets. In addition there are clear learning goals associated with each program. They also have a “Training for Educators: How to Teach Video” for interested educators.

Two of their programs include:

Webquest Israel/Palestine
Webquest Israel/Palestine is a three day workshop, aimed at helping students understand the emotional dimension of the conflict. The students get to know 15 fictional people through the webquest, who are affected by the conflict. They learn about their experiences, views, emotions, and motivations.

The Webquest Israel/Palestine workshop teaches students using fictional Israelis and Palestinians affected by conflict (Image Source: Screenshot from Webquest. Click image for link)

Each face you click on leads to a page with a first person bio, a map and picture of where they are from, plus demographic info about the region. In addition, pages have additional information that can be relevant to helping students understand their stories, such as mandatory military service in Israel, Hamas, etc. The three major religions are also described on each page. Some of the people they encounter are Palestinian Christians, Russian Israelis, teenage Israelis living on the border, an Arab Israeli Artist, and more. The students learn and discuss these stories and then relate this understanding to their own lives, families, and communities. The goals of the program are to have critical engagement with biased presentations, and help students develop analytic and critical thinking.

“Living together / Israel-Palestine”
The objective of this course is to help students in their exploration of different perspectives of the conflicting parties in social and emotional dimensions, as well as with the creative expression of their own thoughts and emotions. The main part of the project includes the planning, filming, and editing of video films on this topic. The course combines media education with political education and peace education approaches.

It is important to note this program is aimed at children and students for greater intercultural understanding: understanding of who they are and the world in which they live, and the political and social structures that affect them (and in particular the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). With this in mind, video technology and digital media are the tools used. The students create their own film projects, research content, and acquire technological skills. The directors feel video is the ideal tool to allow the students to record and exhibit emotions, facts, and moods pertaining to the conflict. In an interview with the Director of the Program Karina Piersg she reiterated the use value of video for the goals they are trying achieve. With intercultural understanding at the core of the program, she said the production of video encourages teamwork in a fantastic way. Each person must be aware of and accomplish their role and work with others in the team in order to complete the video. Also the end product can be shared with family, friends and the community further spreading the mission. The program was started by Dr. Julia Eksner and combines her expertise and interest of bridging science and social work. One challenge though, is that this program moves from school to school and cannot evaluate effectiveness over a long-term period.

Though it is structured, there are elements of the constructivist type of education where the students are able to have some flexibility with their work. Ms. Piersig indicated that at the end of the previous courses, she had the students create their own handbook of instruction on what they learned, so that they become future teachers. Also, after a brief description of OLPC, she noted that she definitely saw her students being able to be given a video assignment, and they approach it, explore it, and figure it out in a way that is different from an adult. She felt she can let them run with it, and only moderate it slightly, and that there is a way in which media education can be discovered on one’s own as a child.

Read Case #4: ACE Project in Kenya