Sunday, October 31, 1999 Published at 18:29 GMT
Children to learn about TV at school
Children are taught about Shakespeare, but not about television
Children should be able to understand as much about television as literature, says the culture, media and sports minister, Janet Anderson.
Discussions between the government and broadcasters about developing greater media awareness among schoolchildren were already underway, said the minister.
Speaking in the House of Commons in response to a question about sex and violence on television, the minister suggested a greater emphasis on "media studies" would help children to become more discriminating viewers.
While schools have a curriculum which allows children to understand and evaluate literature, there is no such support for helping children to make sense of television, said Mrs Anderson.
She said: "When they read Shakespeare and Dickens they know how to appreciate it - but also perhaps to be critical of it - they get no such help or guidance with the moving image."
Although less sought after in recent years, media studies became one of the most popular courses in higher education, with applications outstripping many traditional academic subjects.
Media studies is already established as a popular subject at secondary school level, with GCSE and A-levels taken in the subject in many schools and further education colleges.
For younger pupils, media studies is an optional element of the English curriculum and can be taught as part of "personal, social and health" education. But there is no obligation in the curriculum to study the media or its influence on society.
If the subject were to be introduced, schools might look to the new subject of 'citizenship' as a possible setting for teaching about the impact of television, cinema, radio and the new media.