How to Use This Course
Medial Socialization presented by Dr. Lisa Dunne for SchoolhouseTeachers.com is a course meant to help your student examine the effect that media plays in our lives, become more media literate, reflect on the power of words and wisdom, and more. The concepts of this course are taught using written instruction, reading assignments, videos, external websites, reflection activities, and tests. There are two exams included. The student will study both Biblical and scientific evidence for our social nature. The lessons are best studied in chronological order, as they build on one another throughout the course. This course counts as a social studies credit. Students who complete the 19-week course can earn 0.5 academic credit. As always, please check your own state’s academic requirements.
I’m Dr. Lisa Dunne, a professor, author, pastor’s wife, and homeschooling mom. I’m looking forward to our time together here on Schoolhouse Teachers!
Maybe you’ve heard someone say, in defense of a musical selection, “I don’t listen to the words; I just like the beat.” Or, perhaps you’ve overheard someone in line at the grocery store, skimming the headlines of modern pop culture, explain, “I just like looking at these fashion magazines; I don’t believe what they say.” Does our social environment influence the way we think, feel, or behave?
Over the course of this class, we will analyze the impact of the social system on the individual, recognizing that the social context is much wider and more powerful than we may have once believed. By the end of the 16 weeks, students will be better equipped to evaluate the influence of mass media and its collective spiritual, psychological, and sociological impact on the church, the family, and the culture. Most importantly, students will learn how to apply the findings of media literacy and “walk with the wise.”
We will draw from current research as well as segments of two books I will provide summaries of through online links, Making Social Worlds (written by one of my favorite Ph.D. professors) and Emerge: Cracking the Cocoon of Media Socialization (which I wrote with Teen Mania/Acquire the Fire speaker Joel Johnson).
As a teacher for over 17 years, I have found that the deepest transformational learning takes place when students actively and practically engage in the subject matter. Thus, each lesson will be followed by a reflective activity that will help you make practical sense of the information that has been presented. These will include some reflective journals, hands-on “lab” activities, and discussion prompts for family dinner conversation.
In the first chapter of the book of Romans, Paul tells the believers in Rome that they can change their behavior by changing their belief: “Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Romans 12:2, NIV). This concept of renewing the mind is a fascinating one from a neuroscientific sense, and we’ll talk more about that in a later lesson. For now, suffice it to say that the more we understand about science, the more clearly we see the fingerprints of God in the design of our hearts and minds.
Week 1: Welcome and Introduction
Week 2: Course Overview
What does it mean to be a social creature? This week, we will analyze the micro, mezzo, and macro levels of social influence, as well as get a basic understanding of what it means to be “persuadable” as humans.
Week 3: Biblical and Scientific Bases for the Influence
This week, we will examine the theological and scientific evidence that exists for our social nature and our persuadable nature. We will review God’s design for culture and society according to the brain and the Bible.
Week 4: Self-Justification and Third-Person Syndrome
This week, we will look at the power of self-justification and get a better sense of why it’s hard for humans to believe we’re persuadable.
Week 5: A Brief History of Entertainment-Education
How can mass media use our persuadable nature against us? This week, we will cover a brief history of entertainment-education and its social implications. For additional reading, I’ll provide a link to the online chapter of Entertainment-Education from Emerge: Cracking the Cocoon of Media Socialization.
Week 6: Conformity and Culture
This week, we will discuss conformity and culture. Are there times we should conform? For a macro view of the impact of conformity, watch the documentary Expelled with your family. Discuss the culture of government education and its influences on the behavior and beliefs of the social system.
Week 7: Understanding the Power of Persuasion
This week, to better understand the power of mass media, we will create our own persuasive appeal.
Week 8: Peer Culture and Conformity in the Church
This week, we will look at the new grassroots uprising that is creating awareness about peer culture. We will review George Barna’s May 2012 study on youth ministry and Christianity Today’s August headline story on the “juvenilization” of church, as well as some other current research. Watch the documentary Divided with your family to learn more about this movement.
Week 9: Junk Food Media: Causes and Cures (Part 1)
This week, we will examine the role of advertising on the human brain, including some fascinating and compelling research on sociology, neuroscience, and physical health.
Week 10: Junk Food Media: Causes and Cures (Part 2)
This week, we will continue our study of the role of advertising on the human brain, and we will track some social trajectories that highlight the Third-Person Syndrome concept we discussed in Week 3.
Week 11: Midterm Exam
Week 12: Media Analysis: Movie Madness
This week, we will analyze the messages of mass media in modern movies and sitcoms. What worldviews are being peddled, and what is the potential for cultural and individual influence?
Week 13: Music Analysis: Labels, Lies, and Soul Ties
This lesson will review some fascinating (and frightening) research findings from the University of Virginia on the impact of music on the human brain.
Week 14: Tracking Social Trajectories: Impact on the Culture
This week, we will follow the social trajectories from our findings in the studies of movies, sitcoms, and music to see if these ideologies are having an impact on the larger social sphere.
Week 15: Tracking Self-Trajectory: Impact on the Individual
This week, we will analyze the impact of movies, sitcoms, and music on our individual lives. We will chart a course for creating positive, prosocial influence in this realm.
Week 16: Becoming Media Literate
This week, we will review some great websites designed to help you become more media literate. Building on what we’ve learned throughout the course, we will create a base for media literacy in your home and your realm of influence.
Week 17: Emerge: Breaking Free
This week, we will summarize all the points we’ve covered and discuss ways for students to start becoming producers of culture, not simply consumers of culture.
Week 18: Making Social Worlds
Our final week of the course will be a reflection on the power of words and wisdom.
Week 19: Final Exam
Take Dr. Dunne’s 25-question “final” to cement your knowledge in this course. Feel free to send your answers to what you feel are the more challenging questions to Dr. Dunne for her feedback.
For a printable course outline, click here.
This course counts as a social studies credit. Students who complete the 19-week course can earn 0.5 academic credit.