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Chapter 4 Media Education for the Inclusion of At-Risk Youth


At-risk youth, those on the verge of dropping out of school (and potentially society), are of ongoing global concern. The term “at-risk” contains several different marginalities beyond dropping out of school, such as displaying social and learning difficulties, or encountering challenges in language or life situations. Yet, despite the importance of engaging these youth in maintaining healthy societies, there is a paucity of critical discussion of media education that supports them specifically. This text considers how both schools and youth institutions can promote media skills, while increasing motivation towards autonomous digital agency in the light of 21st-century technological citizenships. Our proposed media education uses account-inclusive perspectives through the use of participatory media. Media education here is understood through pedagogies of multiliteracies that support youth agency in digitalized societies. We conducted an extensive, action-based qualitative study, consisting of eight sub-studies implemented between 2015–2017, in collaboration with youth institutions around Finland. Each sub-study included a media workshop promoting youth media-making as self-expression and participation in public media culture. The workshops were attended by nearly 100 young people, between the ages of 15–22. As a result of our study, we propose a model of Inclusive Media Education for supporting at-risk youth and, therefore, enhancing Democracy 2.0 in digitalized societies. Our model contains five key features of media education as an everyday practice, including: safe spaces, caring interaction, trust in competence, creative media-making and authentic agency, the ultimate goal being to advance: at-risk youths’ motivation to participate, communicative media skills, autonomous agency, relatedness and experiences of inclusion in both educational settings and society.

In: Education for Democracy 2.0