Media and Health Education Research Strategies in the Czech Repubic: A Call for Inventiveness Jana Krátká 1, Patrik Vacek2, Evžen Řehulka3 1 Faculty of Education, Masaryk University – Czech Republic email@example.com 2 Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University – Czech Republic firstname.lastname@example.org 3 Faculty of Education, Masaryk University – Czech Republic email@example.com Abstract The paper sums up the past and present approaches to audio-visual education research in the Czech Republic and faces them with up-to-date preliminary surveys that have been made among Czech teenagers and Masaryk University students. The principal goal is to provide an outline for further possible research questions, strategies and approaches that could be developed in the recent Czech media education context with a special respect to the modes of young filmgoers’ out-of-the-school perception activities. The main hypothesis asks how and to which extent can be young people influenced and identified with recent global audio-visual fiction luminaries. Keywords: Media education, fan studies, identification with fictional characters, research strategies 1. Media Education in the Czech Republic: An Introduction Media education has blossomed in variety of modes and approaches in recent years. Widely dispersed around the globe it has only strenghtened its presence in curricula and within of all levels of educational architecture. Moreover, it can be said media education movement and/or media literacy research agenda created an ever growing area of tasks, opportunities and challenges for both contemporary society and a number of hard working groups of media education experts that are expected to deal with the problem. With the respect to the coherent body of research, aspects of health also increasingly contribute to the field of media education are and as a whole media education emerges as one of the principal research efforts of the 21st century. Among those who consider some sort of media education as a necessity is wide range of professions : lobbyists and public opinion makers, media education activists and private interest/commercial groups, teachers and out-of-the-school educators, students and their parents and lust but not least a still growing number of academics. When going back to media education roots in the Czech Republic and former Czechoslovakia (of which the Czech Republic is one of two heirs from 1993), we have to look at the very first years of the past century. As soon as in the 1910s 2 Paris International Conference on Education, Economy and Society – 2008 there were great and frequently much publicized efforts, polemics and even some opinion riots about the use of film medium in the school and out-of-the school activities in the Czechoslovakia (and in Austro-Hungarian Empire before that). Some extreme opinions marked a point between copy-cat crimes film fiction heroes which was quite usual at the time. However, during the 20s and 30s, film education in Czechoslovakia became a coherent part of school curricula and in 1936 a decree of the Czech Ministry of Edification was released - enabling the legal use of film in the class. Thorough the next decades, and especially those after World War II, film and audiovisual education in the Czechoslovakia developed into a variety of modes (science film, school film, instructional films or didactic films for teachers, videopedagogy, regular Czech Television broadcast for schools etc.) but it never acquired an appropriate position across the elementary/secondary school curriculum. At its pinnacle, a film historians’ and teachers’ conspiration led to the proposition of a very promising curricular concept that came to prominence during late 60s but this material was never delivered to practice. After the “Velvet Revolution” in 1989 the widespread influence of mass media has been highly apparent in everyday Czech schools’ life and pupils’ leisure time activities. Some of the most significant voices of the Czech cultural discourse such as Academy Award winner Jiří Menzel repeatedly pointed out the possible threats of an inexperienced mass media flood, but liberal approaches prevailed. In recent years there have been two predominant media education attitudes in the Czech Republic: The first one stresses media’s deeply negative influence on pupils with a discreet respect to great works of film art, the other one tries to analyse the mechanisms of film and media consumption and strengthens the importance of critical background and inquiry. Ambivalence and over-distanced approach of concurrent Czech media education research is clearly apparent in the opinions of some authors that note the dramatic or even hysteric aspect of the problem (Nešpor, 2006, Sak, 2000 and others). According to Sak (2000) “the natural world is being replaced in a human’s life with the help from media and substituted by virtual reality while young generation starts to live virtually in cyberspace to a substantial extent.” In our preliminary research that had been conducted in 2004 among 282 students of Brno high-schools (in age range of 18 – 20 years) we found that 40 percent of asked are a non-frequent cinema goers; precisely said, they usually go to a one screen cinema or multiplex (not an art-house cinema) just from three to five times a year. On contrary, almost one third (30 percent of respondents) can be classified as frequent cinemagoers who tend to visit cinema at least 9 times a year. (Vacek – Krátká, 2007). The further data acquired can be seen as a confirmation of a cinema reception shift. While there is a rather strong and regular film offer (a number of newly released titles even in the small Czech film market), teenagers are not those who enjoy them too often. These preliminary propositions seem to be certified even from the findings of our action resarch that was conducted among the students of Masaryk University – better said – among those participating in the courses of Film and Media Education and Film and Audiovisual Education during the academic year of 2005/2006. With the respect to their enrollment into both Proceedings 3 courses we can deduce their grater interest to film and audiovisual cuture. The order of cinemagoing experience in the rows of these students was as follows: 50% of them do proclaim they usually watch from 6 to 10 films a month, another 20% watched less then 5 films in a past month and just about 24% of them were most active spectators with a score from 11 to 20 films watched per last month. (Vacek – Krátká, 2007). 2. Outline of a Prospective Research Analyzing our prospective results we will compare them with previously published findings of Buckingham (1987), Rodge (1999) and Jones (2003). Their research activities represent different approaches to the problem of media education. The methodology of investigation will be based partially on the results and approaches presented in the works of above-mentioned authors and also on the preliminary results of our previous surveys. Using a sort of complex research strategies (such as narrative interviews, coding the acquired data and deep- insight interviews) we will try to develop the key concepts and issues of qualitative oriented surveys. The prominent attention will be focused on young spectators and their notion of and an articulated desire to be an active part in contemporary audiovisual culture. We consider a strong resemblance to the factors of self-identification and mimicking of the fictional heroes and film stars appearance (on-screen persona). Principal parts of outlined research project should include these areas : a) the study of reception habits (how do young people choose the programmes to watch and enjoy and what are their motivations for the viewing b) fan approaches with an empahsize given to its critical evaluation c) modes of communication in audiovisual culture within and out of the fan community d) identification and self-reflexive activities of such an approach including proposing a typology of fan-approaches In accordance with the mix-method methodology we will use the combination of quantitative and qualitative based techniques within the range of a single study. Qualitative oriented methods will enable deeper understanding of how young spectators interact to each other’s preferences and a plenty of works of film and audiovisual fiction. Quantitative methods will be used when analysing a questionnaire that tries to cover basic elements of everyday and casual reception. 2a) Quantitative Aspects Unveiled In addition to previous efforts, a web questionnaire focusing on accumulating basic data among young Czech spectators, is created and circulated among respondents. Its scope divides equally between modes and preferences of audiovisual consumption in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This web questionnaire should primarily serve as a source of data-mining and a fine- tunable classifying tool enabling a proper selection of respondents to further and more extensive talks (it will be posted on the most visited film-related webpage of the Czech Internet with a gain of a proportionally well adjusted representation 4 Paris International Conference on Education, Economy and Society – 2008 of single relevant categories such as gender, educational level, the place of residence etc.) - Also, it will be serving as an invaluable sheet of contact information for both present and future interviews. Upon the data acquired through this web form – that serves simultaneously as a pilot description-relation reserch – we will summon basic results important to prospective level of research and besides that it will verify some statistically significant correlations. Our principal research questions will be closely correlated to the age differences and as such they will be concentrated on, but not limited to : What are Czech contemporary young people reception strategies and to which an extent do they identify themselves with the audiovisual fiction characters ? What reception stereotypes can be found among high-school and university students contrary to those young adults who have a full-time job or family ? Are there any special reception stereotypes among the middle aged people (35 – 45 years) and older generations (more that 45 years) ? Are the results found here comparable to those found among young adults (20 - 35 years) and teenagers (12 – 20 years) ? Are the pubescence reception stereotypes (11/12 – 15/16 years) comparable to those found among adolescents (16 – 20 years). On the basis of the data acquired we will describe the correlations between various socio-demographic indicators and partial sub-topics. Also, some specific issues (e. g. a measure of proximity between young spectators’ identification heroes and their own favourite characters). These data will also support the desing of a typology of most-favoured fictional characters. Problems being investigated in the questionnaire: I. Reception of film and audiovisual culture II. Communication III. Fan approaches and activities IV. Identification a) the subject of identification b) time shift of identification c) consequences of identification 2b) Qualitative Aspect of the Project Selected respondents will be asked to explain their feelings, attitudes and impressions about fictional characters they like. Then, their identification will be backed up with the data found in these series of narrative interviews amd we will design and conduct case studies stressing an informed insight and an analysis of a few carefuly cases selected. The crucial point of this part of research can be explained in a research question as follows : What are the characteristics of any given reception case or a group of cases that are simultaneously compared ? In accordance with the rules of qualitative based research we can suppose that the better a few selected cases will be described, the more precise results we get when investigating similar cases. At the conlusion of any given case study (of Proceedings 5 which annotating and coding are an integral part) we will set up the problem against the background of a broader context. Finally we will induct all results into a general answer to the problem. The scheme of interviews will be inspired from the findings of above mentioned authors and it will include these parts : 1) Introductory (context of spectatorship, reasons for favoring some series, how do the respondents perceive the modes of representation of any given series) ; 2) Identification (favourite and disliked fictional characters, fictional hero’s destiny and the coincidences with real-life spectators’ experience, the process of identification) ; 3) Activities and fan creativity (watching frequency, web pages designs and blog creation efforts, fan graphics, videos and fan-fiction process) ; 4) Reality and authenticity (modes of representation in the terms of represenatation of fictional universes, costumes, masks, a number of cross-references among single chapters of a series, switching impressions and emotions after watching of the chapter of a series, happy-end discussions) ; 5) Community communication and shared/articulated values and impressions interchange with other specators. We suppose creating three in-depth case studies of which each will be focused on one of the most current audiovisual phenomenon that create a persistent part of young people everyday spectatorship and as such they command a strong fan base. Each of the case studies will also reflect the great masure of interest coming from humanities academia. The first of the case studies included in this project should deal with the ever- growing interest and a deep dedication for cult series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and its spin-off Angel). This is partly because of an unprecedented and extensive academic coverage of this phenomenon through a number of departments and fields of inquiry (such as sociology, theology, psychology, philosophy and gender studies) and from this point of view Czech and global educational science still stand apart of the analytical hype and it is quite fair to say that there is perhaps no Czech systematic study observing the aspects such a widespread fascination. The second case study should focus on the Sex and the City series which proven to be an influential sociocultural force and one of the driving factors of self- identification of young adulthood (especially in the crowds of women in their early and late 30s). Third case study will comprise Grey´s Anatomy as an up-to- date cultural project and both creative and a fan tour-de-fource effort. The results acquired during the whole of reserarch should result into a proposal of innovations usable to the same extent in the Czech media education research and educational science as a whole. This paper would not have been possible without the support of Research Plan no. MSM0021622421 School and Health for the 21st Century. 6 Paris International Conference on Education, Economy and Society – 2008 Biographical References: BUCKINGHAM, D. Public Secrets: East Enders and its Audience. London: BFI, 1987. JONES, G.: Killing Monsters Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence. New York: Basic Books, 2003. ISBN 0465036961. KRÁTKÁ, J. – VACEK, P. Zlovolné obrazy: film a audiovizuální kultura z pohledu vysokoškolských studentů. In Sborník z konference ČAPV Současné metodologické přístupy a strategie pedagogického výzkumu, 5.-7. 9. 2006 (CD- ROM) Plzeň. 1. vyd. Plzeň : ČAPV, Kped FPE ZČU, 2006. ISBN 80-7043-483-X, s. 34-34. NEŠPOR, K. Nebezpečné elektronické přízraky. Lidové noviny. Lidové noviny, 2006. RODGE, J.-U. Dětské strachy a úzkosti. Praha : Portál, 1999. ISBN 80-7178-237- 8. SAK, P. Proměny české mládeže. Praha: Petrklíč. 2000.