The educational role of the media in the formation of students' critical opinion
| Zoran Hercigonja - 16 Jan 2023

Insufficent orientation of the Education system on the media space
In a world filled with a pile of information and media content, alternative facts, and "fake news", assessing the truth requires a special skill that develops in the system of human education. The lack of focus of the educational system on training the individual for the ability to evaluate the truth of the information served to be able to protect himself from negative influences and exploitation by the neo-imperialist market force through marketing and marketing tricks, is becoming a significant problem in the modern world. Media directing and imposing patterns of needs according to the law of supply and demand excludes a man from the context of a self-determining being who can form and express his own needs and determinations. The suffocation of the "media dictatorship" turns young people into passive consumers without the possibility of developing a personal filter for critically digesting content.

Media content in the service of the economy, And outside the control of the education and education system
The educational system is still subject to the traditional approach and models of upbringing and education, i.e. a severe form of socialization. We still prepare students, future young people, and persons for life in the community based on adaptation to the existing power structure and adaptation to current conditions. Educational institutions should enable young people to actively participate in social events and the possibility of checking different social truths. But it is often the practice to surrender to the media's direction and allow them to determine the actions of the individual and his life choices.
Media content is conditioned by the ideology of profit, thereby suppressing the production of quality content and programs within the framework of educational contributions. Suppressing documentary content from media broadcasting also affects the educational role of the media. The educational role of the media is increasingly being replaced by a manipulative role through the imposition of ethical, moral, and other values and attitudes of society. Of course, the problem is not so much in the imposition of views as in the quality of the broadcast content.
Media in the service of the economy mostly work on the production of entertainment content. More precisely, the hyperproduction of sitcoms and violent films, the promotion of rudimentary and triviality through series and movies where a crude cult of power and forced eroticization is imposed, have a disastrous effect on the psycho-physical and spiritual formation of a young person, and at the same time, they stop the development of a personal filter for critical digestion of content. The problem with entertainment content is the quality itself. In recent years, the quality of entertainment content has been lowered to the level of the modest needs of the audience. The absence of critical thinking changes the value systems of children and young people. The value system comes from the environment, that is, the environment in which children and young people live.
Namely, media mediation and the serving of low-quality content has become an environment from which the values of the level of modest needs of the audience arise, i.e. very often the values are reduced to hedonism (entertainment), utilitarianism (personal benefit) and weakness for social engagement due to distrust in the political and economic system. In this way, young people are gradually dulled from any criticism towards society and the existing situation.
Excessive dependence on media approval and confirmation opens people's criticality towards truths, so often the individual does not notice that the media are essentially subjective, suggestive, selective, and manipulatively aggressive. The values of contemporary society have been significantly distorted due to the contemporary determinants of media management related to the phenomena of excessive biocentrism, pluralism, and an emphasized consumer mentality. Why is the educational system unable to raise emancipated individuals prone to critical analysis and reflection? The answer lies in the increasing utilitarianism of educational and social structures.
Mass media determines conditions and trends based on the law of supply and demand and its benefits and earning potential. Thus, structures such as social networks, the cultural scene of young people, and independent associations of like-minded people caught in imposed trends influence young people by developing conformity and awareness within the framework of consumer needs.
The educational institution, therefore, does not prepare students or young people by the needs of social reality, but rather with the needs of the market and the law of supply and demand. Based on this, educational institutions lose their true purpose and raise young people to become consumers and passive observers. The media themselves, under the influence of global economic trends, shape attitudes related to consumer culture for a quick profit. If such a trend becomes a reality and a rule, a culture of subservience will develop. Due to a combination of circumstances, schools as educational institutions adopt this model of subservience as the main model by which upbringing and education are carried out and the preparation of young people for life in the community.

Zoran Hercigonja is a professor of computer science for primary and secondary schools. He lives and works in the Republic of Croatia. He is involved in scientific research and has published over 40 scientific and professional papers. He is the author of 10 printed professional books, methodological manuals and collections of tasks. He worked on several important international and national projects. He holds a globally recognized *Elements of AI* certificate from the University of Helsinki. In the years 2020, 2021, 2022, he was awarded by the Ministry of Science and Education with the highest state awards as one of the 500 best teachers in the Republic of Croatia.

Critical  opinion is the main task of media education and education 
Critical thinking implies a more active approach to one's development. Critical thinking is the ability to think about a problem in such a way that we separate ourselves from our own opinions and prejudices about it to arrive at a solution with the help of logic and find out what we should believe. Critical questioning is not only the determination of positive and negative connotations and the outcome of individual content but also the possibility of taking a certain attitude towards the served content.
To think critically means to analyze one's attitude towards society and the socio-political situation, expressing one's views about the served thinking patterns conducted by the media. The media very often determine with their content what an individual will do, how he will speak, and what he will think. Pre-set themes and patterns of behavior dull the need for reflection and questioning
The best "tool" for developing critical thinking is one's own opinion, which does not have too much contact with other people's opinions, that is, their influence on us. Critical thinking does not threaten a person's individuality or character; it enables a kind of emancipation in the critical analysis and reflection of media-conditioned and served content to realize self-actualization and self-determination against the patterns of media dictatorship.
Educational institutions teach some form of critical thinking, but only too often they reduce critical thinking to strict polarizing analysis; to determine the good and bad features of what is offered in the form of seeking a better outcome for the person within what is offered and served. Therefore, critical thinking is still reduced to the dictatorship of the media. The media serve the needs of the individual within which the individual does not truly consider the necessity and expediency of his own self-determination, but the actual benefit of what is offered, which is not enough to get out of the existing paradigm of a passive consumer. Critical thinking does not only mean analysis within the given frameworks, as it is most often presented by educational institutions but thinking outside the imposed frameworks of prejudices and directed norms, with a globalist view separated from one's own opinion and prejudices.
In the media upbringing and education of children and young people, it is necessary to develop the skills of their self-actualization and self-determination of needs through media literacy with an emphasis on critical thinking, analyzing one's relationship to society and the socio-political situation, expressing one's attitudes about the conditioned patterns given by the media dictatorship.


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