In Latin America as in the United States, kids grow up learning the visual language of TV and Hollywood. Even kids who live on the street know the characters from the newest Pixar release and the songs from the last Disney movie. Shelters and street education programs have long used these videos as recreation even as they regret the dominance of American culture.
Though often dismissed as fluff, several organizations have shown that kid-vid can be a powerful educational tool, and not just a way to reward, entertain, or distract children. In addition to childrens filmmakers very conscious attempts to teach moral lessons in their films, we can often read even more interesting and powerful messages. Monsters Inc, for instance, can be read as an important message about the unjust exploitation of other people and of the environment; Shrek speaks to the profound differences between our imagination and the real world. These are the sorts of themes that concern popular education.
However, these messages dont jump out at the viewer even the educated adult. Children and educators need to learn how to read kid-vid in the same way that we need to learn to read Shakespeare or Cervantes. Working with Brazilian experts in the field of childrens popular education, Shine a Light will develop an extensive CD-ROM curriculum, teaching organizations and educators to use kid-vid not only as entertainment, but as education. The StreetKidVid Project promises to promote interesting new ways to think about the media and education.